Race, Headz, Crime, IQ

Sat, 22 Oct 1994 02:20:51 +0000

Four points:

1. RACE. I can only echo all the statements that have been made on this
point. Race is an EMIC concept, HISTORICALLY grounded from experiences from
1500 on, and is what could be called a FOLK CONCEPT -- hardly the basis on
which to build scientific theories.
There are human biological groupings, but they do not correspond to
the folk categories of race. Race is an attempt to (poorly) taxonomize
human beings physiologically on the basis of phenotypic differences (skin
color, facial structure, body shape and size) rather than genotypic
differences (blood groups, immunological factors, etc.) which are probably
more biologically important. And as a folk concept, it has always contained
implicit connotations of accompanying mental differences as well... though
there is no reason why specific physiological adaptations (skin color, for
example) SHOULD be accompanied by sepcific behavioral adaptations (sexual
procilivity, "sociability," etc.) IF in fact such behavioral tendencies are
physiologically (genetically) determined (which gets us into sociobiology,
which I don't want to get into.)
There is no reason NOT to think that the arbitrary division of humans
into three races - Asian, Caucasian, and Negroid - is EMIC, and simply an
improper basis on which to make further generalizations... especially
considering the simple fact of constant human intermarriage.

1a. I still would like to see explained WHY in any organism its innate
aggressiveness and sexuality MUST be inversely related to its intellectual
ability and sociability. This proposition strikes me as biologically

2. HEADZ. Welcome back to 19th century anthropology! Let's break out the
I have no doubt that there is some degree of correlation between head
size and brain size. But I have to agree with Allen Lutins that I seriously
doubt a) that head size is a stable, heritable trait like eye color and b)
that it has anything to do with intelligence. And most importantly, c)
there seems to be no good biological reason why it should be in an inverse
relationship to the size of the genitals. Most current research says the
convolutions (folds) of the brain may be more important than its overall

3. CRIME. I'm sorry, but I think a century of research has shown that
"criminality" is not a heritable trait. Francis Galton may have thought
crime ran in families, but I've seen no convincing data to suggest this is
due to "bad seed" rather than bad raising. Sociobiologists, fire away, but
I find this proposition dubious, to say the least, esp. since most of the
people who advance this proposition tie it to dubious biological categories
such as "race."
If Rushton has found a way to isolate sociocultural variables from
his criminological table, I would be interested to see that.

4. IQ. Since Charles Murray was brought up, I'll 'fess to not seeing the
New Republic review issue, but what I've heard is that it was mostly
congratulatory, telling Murray he was "courageous" for bringing the IQ
"debate" back into the center stage. I'll also 'fess to not having read
_The Bell Curve_ either.
But I will address myself to one claim I saw Murray make on TV. It was
plain and simple. He said, straightforwardly, that blacks on average score
15 points lower than whites on IQ tests, but was at least thoughtful to add
the caveat that this MIGHT be more environment than biology. Not
surprisingly, he said this can and must have public policy effects, with
regard to programs in affirmative action, welfare, etc. since, he claimed
(as Rushton does) that "IQ is the single best indicator for performance in
academic and professional life, and thus what incomes a person earns."
I do feel there is something basically biological to intelligence. It's
obvious that some people's brains are not as functional as others, thus
resulting in learning disabilities, retardation, dyslexia, etc. However, I
think the tricky part is in establishing the upper part (superior
functionality, rather than interior functionality) of the scale, rather
than the lower. Mensa members claim they are more intelligent than the rest
of society (Marilyn vos Savant, for example), but I've yet to see them
empirically demonstrate what about their brains makes this so.
I am not sure that IQ measures this innate functionality, and I am
not going to resort to the typical "dogma" of "cultural bias" which IQ
proponents claim is advanced by anthropologists and/or other liberals.
Rather, I would suggest that most cognitive psychologists like
Howard Gardner consider intelligence to involve a multiplicity of cognitive
abilities (you could call them separate "intelligences" - creative,
critical, associative, etc.) and for this reason find it laughable that one
quantitative measure could effectively show performance in these many
different cognitive domains.
This to me is the main problem I have with the IQ test. It measures
something - the one I took in 3rd grade told me I was "gifted," and I've
never had reason to doubt that ;-) - but I don't think that something is
a heritable unitary fixed quantity of "mind stuff" that we can call


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