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Friday, October 19, 2007


This is from the Guardian's CiF where Sue Blackmore has bravely defended James Watson who has stirred up a hornet's nest by saying that IQs in Africa are lower than here & that this is bound to have an effect on development. This is a simple statement of recorded fact. It does not even require an assumption that this is genetic rather than environmental since the protein low diet in Africa is certainly responsible for at least part of it. Nonetheless he is being pilloried for it.
It is courageous of Ms Blackmore to be willing to stand up & say this. On Chanel 5's Wright Stuff this morning the panel were unanimous in saying that no sensible person would say this, even if they believed it (which of course all of them agreed they didn't, at least in the present political climate).

The Science Museum in London has decided to cancel an already sold out lecture by one of the best known Nobel science prize winners living for what are agreed to be purely political reasons. No attempt whatsoever has been made by them to dispute the science. This is absolutely disgraceful. It is the complete antithesis of what science stands for. The director (Professor Martin Earwicker) should be fired instantly. If he disagrees with Watson he is entitled to tell the press so & what his evidence is & I am sure the Guardian would be happy to report his words. He does not have the right to engage in political censorship.

If Watson gets a public drubbing for saying this & Earwicker gets no criticism (& probably some private support) it will prove that censorship pays - a dangerous lesson. His previous jobs appear to all have been in management within government so it is understandable if he knows how politics works better than science.

I note that a number of writers here have pointed out that Ashkenazi (western) Jews, Chinese & Japanese consistently score better on IQ tests & that this should be taken as proof that there is actually no real difference. This is very muddled thinking & indeed while masquerading as anti-racism is implicitly saying that we British can never be anywhere other than at the top of the poll.

When pushed few people actually deny that there is considerable anecdotal evidence that Jews average pretty smart. The interesting thing about this is that if it is genetic such a difference must have evolved in less than the last 2000 years which is a very short time in evolutionary terms.

From last night "This thread has, currently 146 replies, having started 11.18 this morning which is a quite remarkably response, & in my opinion of quite high quality even on the wrong side :-)

Why then has it been removed from the Guardian's current listing?"

"I think it is worth posting this link showing world IQ results on a map.

If we accept the existence of IQ tests & that whatever they measure has a proven correlation with success (however measured) then we cannot ignore the facts.

There are clear differences. They cannot be entirely genetic - the genetic differnces between citizens of the US & Canada or Spain & Panama are slight. On the other hand the possibility that they are partly genetic cannot be dismissed out of hand.

What Watson actually said was simply that IQs in subsharan Africa are lower than average & that development programmes that pretend they aren't will not do good. This seems to me to be evident.

This does not mean that the difference is entirely genetic, indeed it is known that lack of protein, vitamins & salt in childhood permanently stunt IQ. Even if a higher standard of living there would end the difference & I am certain it would at least ameliorate it, we are where we are now & if the intention is to do some good rather than merely make ourselves feel good we must face the facts."

It currently (Sat 4 pm) has 307 responses, the large majority added since the Guardian quickly took it off their listing of most popular items.

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