Lieber's review

Wed, 26 Oct 1994 10:53:31 CDT

After wasting several hours defending anthropology as a science to some of my
psychological colleagues who were amazed by Mike Lieber's piece, I thought it
useful to summarize my defense for those of you facing such problems.

Mike is alarmed that "the most obvious and important scientific ideas get lost"
I agree. Hence my reposting of a Rushton critique by Steve Gangestad from the
HBES-l, where Rushton's ideas have been rejected by scientific logic and
evidence rather than politically correct assertions.

Mike's criticism of Rushton/Murray+Herrnstein is as follows.

The "race-IQ" connection is incorrect because:

1) It requires 'genetically isolated subspecies'
2) Neandertal brains are 25% larger than anatomically modern humans
3) Correlations do not identify causes (contra DeGusta)
4) It requires identification of every gene and every [chemical] pathway
for racial traits (contra DeGusta)
5) Ditto #4 for nerve nets
6) It requires that genes for racial traits also code for nerve nets.
7) We have all heard this baloney (race and IQ) before.
8) Image is not substance

Genetic differences need not be tied to isolated populations. Skin color
differences are a case in point. There are regional clines. Of course
the "biological" basis for "race" is bogus, based on genetics. But that
does not mean genetic differences cannot exist in lieu of genetic isolation.
Point #1 is not a requirement for the race-IQ hypothesis.

Neandertal cranial capacity is 25% larger than anatomically modern CC? After
controlling for body size and sex and region? Please provide data. And what
do we know about Neandertal IQ?

Correlations do not equal cause. So why do you take aspirin for a headache?
Science involves sorting our specious correlations from causal relations.
There are widely accepted methods for this (e.g., the comparative method).
Criticize the specifics, not the general approach. If you want to take the
time to actually read what you are critisizing.

Identify every gene and every "chemical" pathway? You must be joking. Modern
medicine would be non-existent if such "proof" were required. Darwin did OK
without such proofs. What Mike is telling us is that there can be no science
of biology, human genetics, etc. because most if not all hypotheses are

Identify connections (epistasis and pleiotropy) between racial traits (skin
color?) and nerve nets that are caused by the same genes? Are coat colors of
different breeds of dairy cattle coded for by the same genes that code for
milk production? This is nuts. What the race-IQ hypothesis requires is
associated genetic differences, i.e., populations with different frequencies of
skin color genes have different frequencies of whatever genes are responsible
for IQ.

Can we dismiss "the bell curve" because we think we have heard all this before
and rejected it? Maybe, if we can identify the similarities, and present
sound refutations. But not by a wave of the hand.

Image is not substance. Flip-side of the coin here. Politically correct is
science because anthropologists say so? Why not take the time and thought to
identify the real weaknesses in the race-IQ hypothesis rather than spooning
out politically correct nonsense that causes other disciplines to tune us out.

Mark Flinn