Rushton, Racism, and Common Sense

John Stevens (8859jstev@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Wed, 19 Oct 1994 15:45:16 EDT

I have been reading with great pleasure the various posts concerning the recent
debate over whether having a thick skull means you're a genius Well, I'm of
good irish stock, and my head's pretty big. . . that must be why I'm in college!
I have to tell you though that most of my family are possessed of roomy crania, and many of them are two steps to the left of moron I have yet to be able to
rank people I meet based on the diamete of the bone plating that keeps their
favorite chunk of gre matter safe. And brain size? All I can say is:
Neandertal!!! As several of our more erudite, scientific comrades have pointed
out, it is *very difficult* to correlate such pehnotypic traits with "intelli-
gence" And whose concept of intelligence are we using? Ogotemmeli's? Lao-
Tse's? Winnie the Pooh's?

And my hackles rise when people start talking about one singular, shining TRUTH
that will be forever true and my evidence says so, godammit! As a non-
scientific (NOT unscientific) type anthro I can't debate the fine points of
data, but i can state that what I have learned in the past day or two from
this list makes me realize that, just like humanists, scientists *must*
constantly refine and question their hypotheses; even, as one discussant put
it, the ones we like. We may not be able to a priori say that phenotypes have
absolutely zero correlation to cognitive functions, we can say that that is but
one of many factors that must be calculated into any attempt to discuss such
basically subjective issues as how smart someone is.

Also, can someonetell me why we *NEED* a "strong causal, evolutionary hypo-
thesis" (a la Mr. Carroll) that oh just coincidentally places Northern Euros
at the apex of the intelligence pyramid? Dump that white boy into an un-
familiar land and see what kind of "intelligence" he possesses! Aren't
cultural knowledge, learning potential, empathy, and plain old gut instinct
just as important as some three digit number that purports to quantify the
sum total of a person's experiences, memory, and talents?

I dunno; maybe I'm just of those dissolute, irrational, cranky, and methodo-
logically faulty humanists who can't see the TRUTH!

In the spirit of healthy discourse,

John Stevens
University of Massachusetts at Boston