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

Kaa Byington (
Tue, 21 Feb 1995 05:35:11 GMT

David A. Johns ( wrote:
: In article <> (Tom Lathrop) writes:

: # 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).

: I think I agree with you on this point, but not because of "speed of
: evolution" arguments. According to the data presented in The Bell
: Curve, the black bell curve is entirely contained within the
: white/Asian bell curve, at its lower end. Whatever accounts for the
: difference, there is no need to evoke evolution, since selective
: pressures (if there could be such for stupidity) would only have had
: to weed out the smarter members of the population. The situation
: would thus be similar to breeds of dogs, where each breed simply
: exhibits a subset of the total variation of the species.

: But I think it's significant that American blacks are bunched at the
: low end of the white/Asian range. If you want to play the natural
: selection game, you have to ask how that might have happened. Was
: stupidity selected for either in Africa or in the United States among
: blacks? It seems hard to imagine how that might have occurred. Were
: smart genes selected for all throughout Eurasia without similarly
: affecting Africa? Not likely. Did a smart gene arise in Eurasia but
: not filter back into Africa? How could that have happened, since
: there was always contact between the populations?

: On the other hand, environmental explanations seem much more
: reasonable. There are (almost?) no external influences that can raise
: a person's functioning above what we consider normal, but there are
: many that can suppress it, either temporarily (alcohol, lack of sleep)
: or permanently (poisoning, malnutrition, etc.).

If I may butt in: it seems to me that there's no real definition of
race, and no way to know if what you are measuring on any test is
"intelligence." Garbage in, garbage out.

The Human GEnome Project is mapping the DNA base pairs in every gene in
the human cell. There are 3 billion DNA base pairs. Each one contains a
minute message to a certain type of cell, a trait, if you will. But even
when they complete the mapping, they won't know what each base pair does.
They've found a few, all of them because they cause hereditary diseases,
like cystic fibrosis. But what they can do is line up individual A's DNA
next to individual B's and tell you how many base pairs are different.
(Watch OJ Simpson trial) There are hardly any differences between humans'
DNA (in fact there's hardly any difference between humans and chimps) but,
as the Newsweek article points out, if you pick two "blacks" at random and
test their DNA, you will probably find that their genes have less in
common that do the genes of one of them with that of a random "white"

Newsweek also goes on to neatly explain that it all depends on what trait
you pick. If blood type is an indicator of race, Germans and Papua New
Guineans are the same race, as are Japanese and Estonians.

As to what do IQ tests measure? How about ability to take tests? How
about desire to excel in grades? SAT scores? Do they reflect the
emphasis the high school puts on getting into college? Could the "Asian"
high scores be due to the pressure to study from their families, and
their relatively lower scores on language due to the fact that they are
not allowed to play with other kids, but must go home and study?

But, let's say that there is such a thing as "black" and "white" and
let's say that IQ tests measure intelligence. I'd like to see somebody
sometime correlate poverty level with IQ. Poor infant nutrition, lack of
protein, causes actual damage to brain cells. Poor kids go to poor
schools, miss more school days due to illness, have little incentive to
learn. If the same proportion of poor "whites" as "blacks" was tested,
I'll bet there would be no significant differences.

Lastly, I lived in a country where a large portion of the population was
illiterate--poor peasants. As a result, they had to rely on memory for
everything. They didn't know what a map or an ocean was, but you could
read them a list of 50 items once, and they had it memorized. They were
awesome. Intelligent? I dunno. You couldn't test them. They were
classified as "Caucasian" by the way.