Saturday, February 22, 2003

Bell Curve V

Digby adds more from comments:

One can surely spend a lot of time refuting this nasty book in scientific terms --- it's as a rich target for scholarly ridicule as you can think of -- but common sense will tell you what the book is really all about just by reading the acknowledgements in which the authors declare they benefited especially from Richard Lynn's work and advice, a professor of psychology at the University of Ulster whom they describe as "a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences."

The esteemed professor Lynn, who helped the authors so much, has been quoted as saying, "What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the 'phasing out' of such peoples.... Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent."

Now, one could overlook that and assume perhaps that the authors were merely using his "work" for their(seriously flawed) statistical analysis, but since the book comes to much the same conclusions, albeit in more politically correct terms, it's clear that they were kindred spirits.

I can't speak for other liberals, but when a book uncritically uses the work of someone who advocates the "phasing out" of certain races and then goes on to use a completely flawed statistical model (that fails to take into account socioeconomic status) to prove that certain races have lower IQ's due to their genetics, then I don't think it's unfair to say that it is a political work and not a scientific one.

It's not the liberals who were being "unfair" or "afraid" by rejecting the book out of hand, it was those who pretended that Murray and Herrnstein weren't cynically using the language of science (by treating g theory as "mystical," for instance)to "prove" to their lay readers that blacks and Mexicans were "problems" (and that those problems are immutable because of their race), so no matter what the government or others try to do, they are going to remain a problem unless we get them to stop breeding and immigrating. That is what the book concludes whether anybody wants to admit it or not.

I for one don't think it is "unfair" to reject that kind of racist garbage out of hand but neither am I afraid to discuss racial differences in IQ. But, here in the United States, particularly as it pertains to African-Americans and Mexican-Americans, a genetic definition of "race" is a useless and phony construct. Murray and his ilk apparently don't care to admit that the "blood" of both of these races has been mixed with European "blood" for so many centuries that it is virtually indistinguishable from his own. Whatever differences exist between the races in this country cannot be explained by genetics alone, a fact which The Bell Curve ignores with its dishonest analysis.

As with "Creationism," Steven J. Gould and others were obligated to refute the shoddy science on which the book is based and they demolished it. But, since the book is obviously a racist political document, I find it a bit absurd that in order to be "fair" liberals in general have to argue the underlying scientific conclusions when the political agenda is right up front and clear for all to see.

It is both a work of astonishing scientific dishonesty AND a racist tract. One needn't refute it's scientific conclusions to point out its political intent.