reply to Flinn (lengthy)

Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Thu, 27 Oct 1994 00:15:01 CDT

> After wasting several hours defending anthropology as a science to some of my
> psychological colleagues who were amazed by Mike Lieber's piece, I thought it
> useful to summarize my defense for those of you facing such problems.
> Mike is alarmed that "the most obvious and important scientific ideas get lost
> I agree. Hence my reposting of a Rushton critique by Steve Gangestad from the
> HBES-l, where Rushton's ideas have been rejected by scientific logic and
> evidence rather than politically correct assertions.
> Mike's criticism of Rushton/Murray+Herrnstein is as follows.
> The "race-IQ" connection is incorrect because:
I never said this. What I said was that racial-variation-causes-variation-in
I.Q., when race is assumed to be a biological subspecies, is undemonstrated.
I then specified what would be required to scientifically demonstrate it.
You're creating a straw person to attack.

> 1) It requires 'genetically isolated subspecies'

I'm assuming that "it" refers to race. I never said genetically isolated,
that's your spin. A subspecies is an interbreeding population whose range
of genetic variability is less than (narrower than) the range of variability
between different subspecies. Read it again.

> 2) Neandertal brains are 25% larger than anatomically modern humans

Your placement of these points is very interesting. The point about
Neanderthal brain size is an aside, specifically a comment about correlations
that comes after, not before, point 3, which you have also misrepresented.

> 3) Correlations do not identify causes (contra DeGusta)

I never said this. Why you didn't just use the quote is interesting, but you
are engaging in a polemic, so I guess I shouldn't expect anything like accuracy
from you. What I said was "A correlation is not a cause." Now, since that
statement seems to have been too opaque for you and your colleagues, let me
put it another way or ways. Try these. A correlation is not the same thing as
a cause. A correlation does not equal a cause. A correlation is not identical
with a cause. A correlation is one thing; a cause is another. Correlation is
not causation. I hardly thought this to be a controversial statement, but then
I don't talk with psychologists all that much. Maybe you guys really believe
that a correlation is the same thing as a cause. If so, lots of luck.

Now, what I did say was "What a statistically significant correlation tells you
is to look for some process that causes both." (i.e., the A and the B that are
correlated). Indeed, the correlation may identify a likely cause, or at least
point to an arena in which the cause is likely to be found. But that is a very
different statement from the one saying that a correlation is not a cause.

> 4) It requires identification of every gene and every [chemical] pathway
> for racial traits (contra DeGusta)
> 5) Ditto #4 for nerve nets
> 6) It requires that genes for racial traits also code for nerve nets.

Yeah this is kind of what I said. I also said "If the pathways for racial
traits connect to those for intelligence in a single individual, you can go on
to test the entire population." So I provided an alternative for falsification
(and that's what a scientific demonstration is organized around, no?) of the
genetic causation hypothesis. Even if the genes controlling racial traits are
different from those controlling intelligence, the hypothesis is still alive--
not falsified--as long as the chemical pathways for each are connected. Guess
you missed that, huh?

> 7) We have all heard this baloney (race and IQ) before.

If you say that it's baloney--and you said it, not me--I guess I can agree with
you. Indeed we have heard all this before. In fact, I said this in the
second sentence of the article. Why do you put it all the way down to # 7?

> 8) Image is not substance
Yes indeed, the image of science is not the same as the substance of science.
Do you honestly disagree with this statement? Or with its referent?

> Genetic differences need not be tied to isolated populations. Skin color
> differences are a case in point. There are regional clines. Of course
> the "biological" basis for "race" is bogus, based on genetics. But that
> does not mean genetic differences cannot exist in lieu of genetic isolation.
> Point #1 is not a requirement for the race-IQ hypothesis.
Mark, you've lost me here. First, I specifically stated that in any population
there is a range of genetic variation. Do you have a problem with that, or did
you just miss that? Genetically isolated populations? Compare your
charicature with the following from the article:

When the populations are all sampled, then you have to show that the form
and/or the operation of the nerve nets controlling intelligence in each
population are different and that THE RANGE OF VARIATION BETWEEN POPULATIONS IS

The problem with clines is that they measure only one trait, and if all you're
after is skin color, you can spread your clines from Africa all the way through
to Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. But the more traits, and therefore
genes you have to trace through a population or related populations, the
muddier the picture gets. This is why anthropologists have mostly abandoned
race as a biological construct with any scientific value. Your buddies in
psychology may not like that much, but they don't seem to miss too many meals.
Race is, however, a meaningful social category, as it depends not on testable
hypotheses, but on ethnobiological constructs. Clines, in this context, are a
red herring anyway, since it is a complexly connected organization of genes,
proteins and chemical pathways that lead to the phenotypic traits being
correlated. If you can't establish a biological race to test, then your
correlation is one of social, not biological categories. If race is half of
the correlation to be explained, then yes, you really do have to know that
you are actually testing a human subspecies, and doing that has precisely the
problems I have specified.

> Neandertal cranial capacity is 25% larger than anatomically modern CC? After
> controlling for body size and sex and region? Please provide data. And what
> do we know about Neandertal IQ?
We know nothing about Neanderthal I.Q. whatever. What we have is measurements
of Neanderthal brain cases with estimates based on the relation of brain case
size to brain mass in measured populations. That stuff, as you probably know
already, has been around since the 50s and can be found in Coon, Comas, etc..

> Correlations do not equal cause. So why do you take aspirin for a headache?
> Science involves sorting our specious correlations from causal relations.
> There are widely accepted methods for this (e.g., the comparative method).
> Criticize the specifics, not the general approach. If you want to take the
> time to actually read what you are critisizing.

Aspirin? Headache? Only a correlation? Good God is nothing sacred anymore?
Gee, I thought I was talking about sorting specious correlations from causal
relations. Does that mean that you recognize a difference between corrlation
and cause? What methods are you talking about. This is way too glib for me
to understand.
> medicine would be non-existent if such "proof" were required. Darwin did OK
> without such proofs. What Mike is telling us is that there can be no science
> of biology, human genetics, etc. because most if not all hypotheses are
> untestable.
Nonesense. Modern medicine is just as pragmatic as ancient medicine. Not even
doctors claim that medicine is a science anymore, particularly when they have
had to prove it on witness stands in malpractice suits. We aren't talking
about medicine, modern or ancient (though both have always been bags of useful
tricks). The subject is a scientific demostration of genetic causation of the
relationship between race and intelligence. If you make the claim or state
the hypothesis or imply that you are stating such an hypothesis, then you have
to prove it. I am not at all concerned with the proofs that modern medicine
demands. That seems to be changing in any case, given legal liability for not
knowing what the hell they're doing and doing it anyway. I am concerned with
what constitutes proof of this specific causal hypothesis. If you are
satisfied with a lot less, then that's your problem. I could care less what
that implies for research investigating other kinds of causes. That's a
spurious dodge, sonny.

> Identify connections (epistasis and pleiotropy) between racial traits (skin
> color?) and nerve nets that are caused by the same genes? Are coat colors of
> different breeds of dairy cattle coded for by the same genes that code for
> milk production? This is nuts. What the race-IQ hypothesis requires is
> skin color genes have different frequencies of whatever genes are responsible
> for IQ.
Are you an anthropologist? Have you had any courses in human biology? Read
anything perhaps? Do you really think that all we're dealing with in
delineating a subspecies is skin color? You said this before, but I thought
you were just using skin color as an example. But you're really serious about
this, arent you? You really think that skin color is all you have to look at
as racial traits. Good heavens, where do I begin? Sorry, Mark, I'm not about
to give you a short course on the biology of race. Start with some older stuff
like Garn and then work your way forward.

> and rejected it? Maybe, if we can identify the similarities, and present
> sound refutations. But not by a wave of the hand.
> Image is not substance. Flip-side of the coin here. Politically correct is
> science because anthropologists say so? Why not take the time and thought to
> identify the real weaknesses in the race-IQ hypothesis rather than spooning
> out politically correct nonsense that causes other disciplines to tune us out.
If by other disciplines, you mean psychology, I could care less what those guys
think. If they want to tune out anthropology--you mean they hadn't before?--
let them.

>Mark Flinn

Now to politically correct. You've said this twice: at the beginning of your
post and at the end. You have yet to demonstrate this point. This is simply
an accusation based on a charicature. But I think we can do some business on
this one, and I can make a specification worth your while. Here's the

I've been accused of doing and being a lot of things in my life, but political
correctness has not been one of them. This is the first time--you're the
first! Now I'm married to a woman who considers herself an "old leftie." It's
not actually true, you know. Her two aunts are old lefties--union organizing,
manning the picket lines, taking strike votes, and knowing EVERY song in the
Little Red Book. My wife is a mid-leftie, a veteran of Vietnam activism, tear
gassing, draft card burning, trying to levitate the University gymnasium, a
cofounder of the Chicago Women's Union, organizer for the school reform
movement in Illinois. Pretty good credentials, don't you think? Well, she
and her aunties don't even put me in the category of politically incorrect or
even politically Neanderthal (him again). Maybe it's because I like tasteless
jokes, dirty pictures, country music, and--worst of all--play bluegrass and
country music in those Chicago (and elsewhere) dayglow toilets that some choose
to call "clubs." I guess I'm sort of in the politically Olduvai category. So,
here's where you come in.

If you will take the part about writing and being politically correct--I mean
really do it up right--pomo jargon, all the right attributions, citations,
allusions, collusions, and confusions and make a really convincing case that
I can print out and show to my wife and her aunties, I will gladly buy you
a case of your favorite beer. American beer, of course. You just tell me
what brand and how much it costs and the check will be in the mail yesterday.
But you have to sign your name to it. I can't have anyone accusing me of
writing it myself. So what say?