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Friday, March 24, 2006

ACADEMIC FREEDOM & THE RACE RELATIONS ACT

Students from the University of Leeds have demonstrated against a lecturer who claims black people have a genetically lower IQ than white people. Dr Frank Ellis, a Russian tutor, said data stretching back 100 years pointed to a "persistent deviation" in the average IQ of black and white people.
The basic problem here is that Dr Ellis is undeniably right. Such data do show a persistent difference.

They also show Jews & South Sea Islanders consistently about 12 points ahead of the Europeans & Orientals about 6 - points which draw less attention, at least among Europeans. What does all this mean - the answer is that nobody really knows & that so long as nobody is able to try & find out. If asked to guess & it is not even an educated guess I would suspect that the Ashkenazi Jewish & Polynesian differences are genuine & derive from relatively recent evolution. Western Jews, being prevented from making a living other than by their wits made brains an evolutionary necessity unknown to peasant farmers. There is strong evidence that pre-diaspora Jews weren't particularly known for their brains & neither are middle eastern Jews whose Moslem neighbours didn't treat them with Christian harshness. Similarly the island hopping Polynesians are descended from people who, for about 1,500 years have been moving from one island to the next so that the Hawaiins & Maoris are descended from generation after generation who left the less inquisitive behind. Both groups, however are relatively small & in evolutionary terms, recent. I suspect that in a really long term either high IQ isn't really an evolutionary advantage or these consistent figures owe much more to things like childhood diet & stimulating environment than anything innate. There is conclusive evidence that city dwellers outperform county dwellers everywhere & that South Africa's Afrikaners went up the IQ scale as they assumed dominance over Anglos - in neither case can genetics be a factor. Another alternative would be that what IQ measures is only the sort of dissoci.ated thinking notorious among absent minded professors & that what we call being streetwise may, for most people, be much more useful - there is considerable evidence that blacks who score 90 on an IQ test are much more competent than whites on the same score. On the other hand it is then arguable that while streewise was good enough for most of our history the sort of mind that enjoys pure mathematics is essential today, not just for the individual but even moreso for society. On the third hand the largest human skulls known belonged to late Neanderthal & early Cro-Magnon skeletons so it may well have been downhill for us all for the last 25,000 years.

however what is scientifically much more wrong than Dr Ellis's opinions, even if they are wrong, is the idea that examination of the evidence should be suppressed.
The University of Leeds said Dr Ellis's view were "abhorrent" and it had written to him asking him to stop making any further public comment.

It said it had to be satisfied that he was not undermining its commitment to equality and diversity but added that it intended to discharge its full responsibility under the Race Relations Act.

Dr Ellis said he was unable to comment on the demonstration but has previously denied doing anything wrong and said that labeling him as a racist was an attack on his freedom of speech.

Whatever the University of Leeds feels their obligations under the Race Relations Act the should point out that (A) a statistical average does not mean that all Maoris are smarter than all Europeans (just as not all Scots are shorter than all Englishmen & (B) their job is to defend the freedom to ask questions - that is what Universities are about.

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