Re: IQ and Evolution (Was: Re: Patriarchy)

Susan (
26 Aug 1996 16:38:36 GMT (Bryant) wrote:

>Gould has illustrated social influences on how results are interpretted,
>etc., and deserves credit for that. On the other hand, he's made it seem
>as though identifying our biases is a futile affair, because we'll never
>rid ourselves of them sufficiently to objectively study human beings.

I have to say that I largely agree with this. I don't think it means
that we can't make progress, collecting better data and getting better
conceptions of the physical world. But I suspect that the idea of pure
objectivity is impossible. I would argue that this is because we have to
interpret what we see, and this makes some degree of bias inevitable.
Humans can't see outside their own perception (which gives me a headache
just talking about!), and that perception is always hooked to some
preconceived ideas. I think it's important to be aware that this is
true, but to also understand that there isn't always anything that you
can do about it.

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of Gould's Mismeasure of Man
was one example where he fell into the trap that he himself was
critiquing. There was a smudged number on a xerox which he interpreted
in a particular way, largely because he wanted to demonstrate a
particular point. He was wrong, and only caught it later. It always
makes me wonder what I'm missing because it never occurred to me to
check. And if I, who have been made aware of bias over and over, am
missing stuff, imagine what those who think they don't show any bias are




"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps."
-- Emo Phillips