Re: race and I.Q -- demonstrating a causal relation

Rob Quinlan (C611417@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU)
Thu, 20 Oct 1994 10:27:44 CDT

Rushton now has both lists I subscribe to engulfed in this. RQ

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Joseph Carroll responding to Mike Lieber:
Mike Lieber suggests that to demonstrate a causal relationship between
race and intelligence we would have to possess exhaustive, total knowledge
of the genetic, biochemical, neurological, and physiological processes
involved, and we would have to examine these processes individually in
people "on a population scale." Criteria of validity this extreme would
of course postpone all demographic generalization until shortly after
hell had frozen over. That's the purpose with respect to race, but the same
implication would also apply to any generalization about any group
characteristic of any kind. That is, on the basis of this methodolgical
restriction we would have to abandon all the social sciences, including
psychology. Further, we would actually have to abandon evolutionary
biology itself. As Konrad Lorenz observes in *Behind the Mirror*, "The
number of purely historical causes one would need to know in order to fully
explain why an organism is as it is may not be infinite but it is
sufficiently great to make it impossible ever to trace all causal chains
to their end" (p. 34). Lorenz nonetheless insists that "we scientists
cannot believe in miracles." If we cannot believe in miracles but
cannot trace all causal chains to their end, what are we to do? Just
exactly what we always do: construct logical inferences from empirical
data. In this specific case, that of race and IQ, we observe that racial
differences in IQ remain relatively constant over long periods of time,
in widely varying geographical regions, and under widely varying social
and political circumstances. We invoke a simple, basic biological axion--
the idea that all phenotypic traits are the result of an interaction
between innate organismic qualities and environmental influences.
Situating our empirical data on race and IQ within this axiom, we
observe that controlling for environmental variation does not
eliminate racial differences in IQ. We then infer, as a working
hypothesis, that these differences are produced by traits inherent
in the organisms themselves. This inference provides a starting
point for filling in our understanding on important sequences in that
ultimately limitless chain of causes that is our domain of inquiry.
We know where to start looking, just as we do for any other variable
characteristic isolated in this way: characteristics of biological
sex, behavior, personality, disease, or special ability, in any
demographic group we isolate on the basis of any significant
distinguishing features. If we can look for behavioral differences in mate
selection preferences or in extraversion in a given population, and
if we can look for frequencies of pathology or mental illness in
a given population, we can, using the same methodology, look
for differences in IQ. If we could not look for any of these
differences before possessing total causal knowledge, we would
know nothing about any of them, and could never find out.
*The New Republic* has devoted its most recent issue to
*The Bell Curve*, with an excerpt from Herrnstein/Murray and
fourteen responses, almost all of them hysterically antagonistic.
The most straightforward and revealing response is that by
Nathan Glazer, author of *The Limits of Social Policy*. Glazer
says, "The only justification for making this case is that it is
true, and I believe that is primarily what motivated Herrnstein
and Murray. For this kind of truth, however, one can also ask,
what good will come of it? . . . I ask myself whether the untruth
is not better for American society than the truth" (p. 16). A
synonym for "untruth" is "lie." Many of us are quite sick of
living with lies, and with having the truth invariably stigmatized
as a form of moral turpitude. But at least Glazer is honest about
his dishonesty. On the whole, I would prefer for my opponents to
stare me right in the eye and declare that there are things they
consider more important than the truth. The more common procedure,
evoked now already in multitudinous forms by the publication of
the books by Rushton and Murray/Herrnstein, is to wrap the motives
of antiintellectucal and antiscientific ideology in the false
mantle of methodological scruple. This is irritating, the way
all hypocrisy is irritating.
Joseph Carroll