This Old Thing

I generally like Andrew Sullivan’s blog over at the Daily Beast. I’m less sure about this conversation about race and intelligence, namely, why does research show a gap in general IQ tests between African Americans and White Americans?

His main point, being the conservative blogger he is, is that political correctness stifles scientific pursuit. The politically correct are so convinced that race isn’t important that scientists are afraid to do research about intelligence, whether it has to do with racial difference or not. The recap in many parts is here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. If you want to read it, go ahead. I’m just going to debate his point.

Is it political correctness that stifles the scientific study of intelligence?

Maybe its just science. To believe that this line of study is valid, you have to believe that race is a biological fact. Geographic distribution that reflects genetic variation? Yes. Equating genetic variation with biological race? Not so much. Try this simple exercise: name all of the races on earth and then color a map showing me where they come from.

Really, try it. Get our your crayons and tell me if indigenous people from North America, South America, and the Pacific Islands belong to one race. If Arabs are White, Asian, or Other. If African Americans should be included with people of African descent or European descent or both because of historical racial mixing. One of the Youtube videos (you can find it here) Sullivan includes poses the question “If people of European genetic descent have higher average IQs, shouldn’t African Americans with more White ancestry also have higher average IQs? Shouldn’t lighter skinned African Americans be smarter than darker ones?” No one’s doing that study because according to US tradition, and sometimes law, black is black is black no matter what color you are.

Genetic difference might not be a social construct, but dividing people into distinct races is American as Turkey on Thanksgiving.


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