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Friday, February 11, 2011

Is It Possible There Are People At Cornell Less Politically Correct Than I Am?

I posted earlier today about a study by Cornell Professors Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci finding that career and other choices, not discrimination, are the best explanations for the currently low levels of female participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Profs. Williams and Ceci have taken on one of the core beliefs of the discrimination industry, namely that unequal results are the result of unequal opportunities or treatment.

Is it possible that there are people at Cornell even less politically correct than I am?

Yes, it is possible.  Even I will not touch the subject of race and IQ, because it is as toxic a subject as there is. 

But Profs. Williams and Ceci took on the subject a couple of years ago, calling not for a specific conclusion, but defending the scientific pursuit of the truth, Should scientists study race and IQ? YES: The scientific truth must be pursued (emphasis mine):

The Soviet Union lost a generation of genetics research to the politicization of science when Trofim Lysenko, director of biology under Joseph Stalin, parlayed his rejection of Mendelian genetics into a powerful political scientific movement. By the late 1920s, Lysenko had denounced academics embracing Mendelian genetics, which some said undermined tenets of Soviet society. His efforts to extinguish 'harmful' scientific ideas ruined opponents' careers and delayed scientific progress.

It is difficult to imagine this situation repeating today, when rival views feed the scientific process, and inquiry and debate trump orthodoxy. Yet the spectre of Lysenkoism lurks in current scientific discourse on gender, race and intelligence. Claims that sex- or race-based IQ gaps are partly genetic can offend entire groups, who feel that such work feeds hatred and discrimination. Pressure from professional organizations and university administrators can result in boycotting such research, and even in ending scientific careers.

But hatred and discrimination do not result from allowing scientists to publish their findings, nor does censuring it stamp out hatred. Pernicious folk-theories of racial and gender inferiority predated scientific studies claiming genetic bases of racial differences in intelligence. Even if one does not support such work in the interests of free speech, it should be seen as supporting the scientific process of debate. Important scientific progress on these topics would never have been made without the incentive of disproving one's critics....
In today's world, subjective perceptions of scientists' intent seem to determine a study's acceptability — work is celebrated if perceived as elevating under-represented groups (as with focuses on women and minorities in the search for personalized medicine), but reviled if perceived as documenting sex and race differences in intelligence without a focus on interventions to eliminate them. Yet many future uses of knowledge cannot be anticipated; Flynn's research has since been used to overturn death-row sentences for mentally-retarded, disproportionately black defendants, for example.

When scientists are silenced by colleagues, administrators, editors and funders who think that simply asking certain questions is inappropriate, the process begins to resemble religion rather than science. Under such a regime, we risk losing a generation of desperately needed research.
Science becoming religion because of political correctness?  Is such a thing really possible?

Can you say "climate change"? "Man-made global warming"? "Al Gore"? "Climategate"?

Related thought -- as I'm finishing this post the sun just came out in Ithaca, a rare occurrence in February.  A sign?

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  1. Frank talk--I find Jews and East Asians (I belong to neither group) generally to have higher IQs. My personal observations. I guess I've never felt threatened, nor has it bothered me, because I've always been able to successfully compete with them academically.

  2. "Science becoming religion because of political correctness? Is such a thing really possible? ...the sun just came out in Ithaca, a rare occurrence in February. A sign?"

    I believe it is a sign of real hope. Someone willing to state TRUTH; where there is light, there is indeed hope.

    Let's hope the sun keeps shining in Ithaca!

  3. For a start of a discussion on this critical question here is Prof. Harold Lewis's resignation letter from the American Physical Society:

    "It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist."

    Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group

    Soylent Green

    A. W. Montford's book, referenced above:


  4. Be very careful. Out here we had a school board member simply posit the question of whether this type of data was even worth examining, and he was forced to resign over cries of racism.

    It is ironic, however, that we do not seem to mind those studies looking into differences between the male and female brain, although those studies are never about solely IQ. Also, the science of IQ is not settled. Although a lot of data bears out the static nature of one's IQ over time, more recent studies suggest IQ is language based, and in the cases of children who lack language and then acquire it? Their IQs have been documented to increase by as much as 20-40 points, which is huge. This is why I personally do not view IQ as a predictor of anything (much less potential), and only as a current performance measure.

  5. No, don't be very careful. Be bold, unapologetic, and plain-spoken.

    There are many people who insist on rational thinking, and find valid data on which to predicate sound observations.

    Screw the Thought Police!

  6. The Crisis of the American Intellectual
    by Walter Russell Mead

    "what worries me most today is the state of the people who should be the natural leaders of the next American transformation: our intellectuals and professionals."

    "if our society is going to develop we have to move beyond the ideas and the institutions of twentieth century progressivism. The promises of the administrative state can no longer be kept and its premises no longer hold. The bureaucratic state is too inefficient to provide the needed services at a sustainable cost – and bureaucratic, administrative governments are by nature committed to maintain the status quo at a time when change is needed. For America to move forward, power is going to have to shift from bureaucrats to entrepreneurs, from the state to society and from qualified experts and licensed professionals to the population at large."

    The American Interest

  7. The only question today is whether IQ is 40,50, 60 or 80% genetically-based. The fact that this flies in the face of egalitarian fictions is all too inconvenient.

  8. 1. Even I will not touch the subject of race and IQ, because it is as toxic a subject as there is.

    If our culture emphasized evaluating people as individuals by, wherever possible, objective performance criteria, issues like this would not be toxic.

    2. I don't read Althouse regularly, but iirc she occasionally states that research on gender differences is PC if the results state that women are superior. Similarly, consider the mythology of sun people/ice people.

    3. Apparently--don't have time to track down the link, sorry--, the Chinese are aggressively researching the genetics of intelligence.

  9. Excellent post.

    About a month ago I also sadly decided that there could be no other explanation for the reason why some groups of people behave the way they do. Genetics and IQ is the only answer.

    All the social programs and affirmative action approaches have failed. Multiculturalism in some places is failing by being affected by Genetics and IQ.

    How about inbreeding and the effects of it through the generations. I believe that is a major cause. No one wants to talk about it but it's obviously effecting the current state of affairs. Inner-family marriage and rape are direct contributors to lowered genetic IQ's.

  10. I don't think IQ as a measure of intelligence is all it has been cracked up to be. I don't object to studies of gender or race differences. Study anything you like but make certain that your terms and tools of measurement are very carefully considered lest you do harm rather than good. Scientists are in a precarious situation right now because so many have abandoned scientific method, genuine peer review, and the search for truth however inconvenient.

    Scientists need to ask themselves if the method of measurement they use is sufficient, takes into consideration influencing factors such as ethics, cultural values, etc.

    One can have a very high IQ and not a shred of common sense.