Re: Race, intelligence, and anti-racist prejudice (Was: Genetic Evolution)

Lane Singer (
13 Feb 1995 05:28:28 GMT

In <> (Tom Lathrop) writes:

>>>>Also, we haven't defined what types of genes are involved in intelligence.
>>>>Would it be genes that code for the various neurotransmitters? Genes that
>>>>influence brain structure? Those that direct the different elements of
>>>>the endocrine system? All of them and more? Probably.
>>>Again, we don't know, do we?
>>If you have no idea, then why do you make the assertion that
>>one race is more intelligent than another for genetic reasons?
>I believe that there are genetic differences in intelligence between
>different racial groups, but I do not base that belief on
>Cavalli-Sforza's work or similar genetic studies, but rather on the
>type of evidence discussed in The Bell Curve. I consider genetic
>studies such as Cavalli-Sforza's to be neutral on the question.

Do you really believe that TBC has delivered conclusive evidence of
an inter-ethnic IQ gap that is fundamentally expainable by genes
that vary according to race?


>What I am trying to do is force you to retract the assertion that the
>different human populations have separated too recently for significant
>differences in intelligence to be possible, by pointing out that you
>haven't a clue as to how much time *would* be necessary, and that in
>fact there is good reason to think that the amount of time required
>would not be all that large. (Not that I actually expect you to
>retract anything, since I suspect that for you as for many others this
>is more a matter of religion than science).

This is just one of your many ad hominem remarks in this post, not
all of which are included in my reply. It's not appreciated.

To the question at hand, I believe that there are no differences
in intelligence between different "racial" groups. As for separate
evolutionary paths for the thousands of genes that probably
contribute to cognitive/affective function, my guess is that the
35,000 years that have elapsed since an admixture of Asians and
subSaharan Africans formed Europeans has not seen an increase
in the intelligence of one group over another.

>>I have at least listed some traits that may have a bearing on
>>intelligence. What selective pressures would affect them? Do you
>>agree or disagree with my list? Do you have additions?
>Your list is irrelevant. I have no interest in trying to figure out
>exactly which genes or traits have a bearing on intelligence. It is
>enough to know that there *are* genes which affect intelligence, and
>that these genes (like any others) can be selected for.

And yet you're ready to make sweeping judgements on the subject
that would potentially affect many people's lives for the worse,
while you admit that we don't know. That's just not acceptable to

As for the likelyhood of adaptive selection on any of these genes,
I don't accept your rather offhand assertion that "that these genes
(like any others) can be selected for." I'd like to at least hear
what factors might assert such pressures, and in what way these
factors exist for one population more than for another.


>>We're not discussing the same thing anymore. In my opinion, except for
>>the evolutionary forces of millions of years which may indeed
>>effect a change in our overall intellectual makeup, the only
>>way to improve your test score is through environment. Or are
>>you suggesting that we breed only intelligent people with one
>>another for a several hundered generations. If you are, I suggest
>>you try to catch up on the thread on this topic which covers
>>regression to the mean.
>Oddly enough, regression to the mean does not seem to have prevented us
>from breeding faster racehorses, has it? :-)
>Lane, you are in real difficulty here, and regression to the mean
>(which I understand quite well) is not going to save you.

Yes. I was still thinking in terms of random breeding, even though
I was speaking of selective breeding. You are right: if selective
breeding were possible, we =might= be able to effect some change in
offspring over many, many generations. I don't believe it's nearly
as simple a prospect as breeding racehorses (which is difficult
enough, else people wouldn't lose quite so much at the track).


>>> But you
>>>want more than that; you want to use recent genetic studies to prove
>>>that "there is no such thing as race", and that therefore it is
>>>*impossible* for whites to be smarter than blacks.
>>You're assuming a lot here. Am I telling you what you want?
>I had assumed that this was your position. If you will stop arguing
>that work such as Cavalli-Sforza's refutes the idea of inate racial
>differences in human intelligence then we will have no quarrel in this
>matter. Will you do this? If not, then I will have to assume that my
>assesment of your position is basically correct.

First of all, I do believe that recent findings in the field of
genetics have done away with a scientific definition of race, your
point that 50% of physical anthropologists still believe in race
notwithstanding; there are quite a few athropologists of the old
school out there who are reluctant to accept new findings, for
fear of admitting that they've been wrong for 40 years and much
of what they've based their psychic and professional lives on
is now undone.

I never argued that HGHG "refutes the idea of inate racial
differences in human intelligence." I believe that the book
supports, in a conservative fashion, many studies that have
concluded that races, as we once thought of them, are simply
social constructs and not biological ones.

As for "whites" being smarter than "blacks", this has not been
proven as far as I'm concerned. People who are placed on the
bottom in a caste system are going to present more of the negatives
of a given culture, just as they are given more of the negatives.
If the caste system were reversed, with a white minority on the
bottom, oppressed by a ruthless, black majority, whites would be
presenting the negatives. They wouldn't have the numbers in
high places, they would score poorly on tests due to the weight
of their burdens, which would sap their energies and substance.
Would this make blacks superior to whites? No.

I'll address your last point in a subsequent post.