Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Racist Researcher Charles Murray Says Jews Are Genetically Smart

I’m not really quite sure what to make of this Dana Milbank column. It’s about a forum sponsored by American Enterprise Institute which purported to debate the question, why are Jews so smart, genetics or nurturing? First of all I had no idea that the AEI had decided to be so openly racist. Secondly I couldn’t believe it when I read that the notorious Charles Murray was an AEI fellow? Murray is best known for being the co-author of one of the most famously racist books in modern history, The Bell Curve. It was a book that was entirely unpacked from front to end by scientists who do the work that Murray reports to do and they found all of his science shoddy. It was a Potemkin Village of a scientific book. Any organization that associates with Murray might as well just put David Duke on staff as well.

For two hours yesterday, two AEI scholars and a visiting bioethicist kibbitzed about a pressing cause: Why Jews are so doggone smart.

Entine, author of the new book "Abraham's Children: Race, Identity and the DNA of the Chosen People," argued that genetic mutations gave Jews very high IQs. "If you had one of these mutations" -- such as those that cause Tay-Sachs disease -- "it probably could cause high intelligence," he asserted.

"The book is not only good for the Jews, it's good for all of us," moderator Sally Satel said as she introduced Entine.
If this was a forum to discuss “why are blacks so dumb” I wonder if Milbank would have taken such a playful tone that takes for this article? (Its sort of on-par with a Daily Show segment, only problem is that Milbank’s version of mockery doesn’t translate to the page.) Does he think it's not racist to make race-based assertions as long as you think they are positive? By the way, want to bet that Entine probably feels that other races are therefore genetically inferior?


:-jon said...

Oh...Newscat, you already answered
why Jews are so smart.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's because people keep arguing over if they are smart.

:-jon said...

If, you were to ask if group A is better than group B in a specific area, what would you do?

Is the above a racist question in itself?

We agree that there are genetic racial predispositions for some diseases, yes?
Tye-Sachs for some Jews, Sickle Cell Anemia for some blacks, Cystic Fibrosis for some northern Europeans

There seems to be gender predisposition for violent behavior.
There is a genetic predisposition for height, but environmental factors are very important. And being tall doesn’t necessarily mean being good at basketball. Might it be probable that being smart doesn’t necessarily mean being a
productive member of society?

How would we investigate if group A is as "talented" as group B? Is it even possible to investigate this scientifically?

I suspect that we would need to find a gene, that all "talented" people have, and see that it is only carried by a certain group. I think the easiest test
would be to investigate really smart mathematicians, see if they have a special gene on their Y - chromosomes. I think good math is easier to define than good poetry. Also, I think that the genetic differences between the sexes are greater than between the races. (I think Larry Summers tried a nuanced approach to this question…and got a lot of flak.)

For the "Jews evolved to be smarter because they were bankers in the middle ages" you have to prove that Jews that were bankers had more children (that could pass on their genes) than non-Jewish bankers.

Personally, I think that intelligence, has a lot of genes attached to it, and even if group A has a certain helpful gene, then there are still LOTS of variables that need to be taken into account. If there was only one gene involved, you would be smart, or not smart, or half-way between the two. Easily we can see that intelligence is a wide ranging continuum. Thus, lots of genes are involved.

Right now, I'm going to go with environment.

I suspect my final answer is "why is this even an important scientific question to ask?"

(thanks to Watson for his foolish comments on Africa, race & intelligence a few weeks ago, that got me thinking about this)

Anonymous said...

Screw you, Jon, for suggesting that only men can be good at math! I'm better at it than the majority of Y chromosome carriers I know! ;)

I see what you are getting at, though, and I'm going to have to agree that environment is huge. Both of my parents were average students, and seem to be of approximately average intelligence, but were very involved in my education when I was a kid, and getting A's in school was like falling off a log for me. So it would appear that my educational attainment and career success have more to do with nurture than nature. But that is a really small study with no control group...


:-jon said...

Dear spub,
I did not mean to offend.

How do we test if group A is better than group B in area C.

Because, I believe, that racists/sexist/bigots will forever show some example in their favor, how do we design a test for their hypothesis?

Or should we just ignore them?

I certainly expect my daughter to be better in math than me...she better finish first year college calculus quicker than, uh, ...19 years and still working on it.

Actually, I'm hoping that she will be able to tutor me in calculus in a few years, so I can finish calculus.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. Perhaps ignoring the bigots would be the best call. Would there be a point in proving that group A is better or worse than group B in area C, other than to say "see, I told you so. I'm better than you, and now I can justify my malicious behavior."? Wouldn't it be better to focus on getting people to cross-breed more, so we can take advantage of hybrid vigor?


Chi said...

"It was a book that was entirely unpacked from front to end by scientists who do the work that Murray reports to do and they found all of his science shoddy."

This is incorrect. Intelligence at the individual level is important for success in school (and nurtured by school attendance), for success in jobs, in health management, generally in the rule of one's life (e.g. Gottfredson, 2002). It is also important for civic attitudes and behaviour like tolerance or voting decisions (Deary, Batty & Gale, 2008), for the success of politicians like US presidents (Simonton, 2006) etc. etc. At the macro-social level cognitive competence is more important than economic liberty for the economic growth of nations (Rindermann, 2008a) and it is more important than wealth for the democratic development of countries (Rindermann, 2008b). And intelligence seems to be a sensible measure of development up to indicating failing societies. Do we need more? No, it's enough to illustrate that despite whatever flexibility the concept conveys, it can be reliably measured and it is predictive of a wide range of important societal outcomes.

Deary, I. J., Batty, G. D. & Gale, C. R. (2008). Childhood intelligence predicts voter turnout, voting preferences, and political involvement in adulthood: The 1970 British Cohort Study. Intelligence, 36, 548-555.

Rindermann, H. (2007a). The g-factor of international cognitive ability comparisons: The homogeneity of results in PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS and IQ-tests across nations. European Journal of Personality, 21, 667-706.

Rindermann, H. (2007b). The big G-factor of national cognitive ability (author`s response on open peer commentary). European Journal of Personality, 21, 767-787.

Rindermann, H. (2008a). Relevance of education and intelligence at the national level for the economic welfare of people. Intelligence, 36, 127-142.

Rindermann, H. (2008b). Relevance of education and intelligence for the political development of nations: Democracy, rule of law and political liberty. Intelligence, 36, 306-322.

Simonton, D. K. (2006). Presidential IQ, openness, intellectual brilliance, and leadership: Estimates and correlations for 42 US chief executives. Political Psychology, 27, 511-526.

Roth, P. L., Bevier, C. A., Bobko, P., Switzer III, F. S., & Tyler, P. (2001). Ethnic group differences in cognitive ability in employment and educational settings: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 54, 297-330.

"Data from more than 8000 parent-offspring pairs, 25,000 sibling pairs, 10,000 twin pairs and adoption studies provide evidence that genetic factors play a substantial role in the variation of general intelligence, with heritability estimates ranging from 40 to 80%" --Burdick et al, Cognitive variation in DTNBP1 influence general cognitive ability. Human Molecular Genetics, 2006, Vol 15, No. 10.

"Heritability estimtes for intelligence quotient (IQ) range from 0.50 to 0.80. This makes IQ a suitable target for attempts to identify the specific genes involved." Chorney et al, Role of the cholinergic muscarinic 2 receptor (CHRM@) gene in cognition. Molecular Psychiatry (2003) 8. 10-13.

"Multivariate genetic analyses indicate that general intelligence is highly heritable, and that the overlap in the cognitive processes is twice as great as the overall phenotypic overlap, with genetic correlations averaging around .80."

Plomin et al (2004) "A functional polymorphism in the succinate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase genes is associated with cognitive ability," Molecular Psychology 9, 582-586.

NewsCat said...

I asked Spub to help me come up with a rebuttal because she's an actual scientist. Here it is paraphrased..

"I stand by last comment on the blog on this post, that we shouldn't even be trying to study this shit because it gives us grounds to discriminate. Even if you set aside the (Nazi-like) racial component on this sort of research, and say you are just studying what genes are involved in intelligence, and not comparing them across the races, you still end up with a way to say "Ha, I proved you are inferior to me through this non-culturally biased completely infallible intelligence exam!" No good can come of that. Do we start testing kids for these genes early on, to decide which education/career track to send them down? Is it only the people with "smart" genes who get college loans? This runs counter to what America is all about! (Ever read "A Brave New World"?) Furthermore, there is no fucking way this research will not be applied in a racist way, and then we're right back to the Holocaust, or at least institutionalized discrimination and govermental parenting. That would be bullshit, because despite possible differences in group averages, individual variation is huge, and all of these studies concede that environment plays a role alongside the genetics. And since intelligence is likely controlled by a whole set of genes, not just one or three, the researchers could possibly turn up a bunch of genes that make white people good at math, while completely missing others that make New Guinea natives keenly observant of the types of plants and animals around them, and gives them an encyclopedic memory of their uses. So we would be walking around all "I have giant brains! You NGs are dumb!" but we would be the dumb ones for doing incomplete science.

Or I guess we would be dumb for starting it in the first place.

So I think the rant has gone on long enough, and I'm sure you get my point, and I know it's not the scientific rebuttal you want, but I cannot give that properly with out reading the book and then at least a dozen related journal articles. And that's probably not gonna happen anytime soon... So you can go ahead and take your thinly disguised racism and fuck off, because these arguments can only lead us down the path of evil."

:-jon said...

Newscat, aren't you happy that years later, people are still reading your posts?

Many times in life, you have to trust. You and I don't have time to run around, and make sure all the lab equipment is properly calibrated.

Newscat said "... scientists who do the work that Murray reports to do and they found all of his science shoddy."

Chi said, "This is incorrect."

And, whilst Chi quotes a few papers, which don't seem to get to the point of the 800 page Bell Curve tome, I am going to have to trust the panels of experts, who found the work shoddy.



The book garnered a lot of attention by its audacity, but has not held up to peer review of the neuroscience, or psychologist communities.

At this point, you may feel BellCurve, is genius, ahead of its time, and being suppressed, ...just like Galileo!!!. Don't worry, I have a book by an MD, that blames MSG for all of society's ills, maybe it's the MSG that makes the neuroscientists not see the implicit truth implied by BellCurve!