Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Metcalf, Stephen. "Dissecting the IQ Debate: a Response to Liberal Creationism." SLATE December 3, 2007.

In response to James Watson's remarks concerning the intelligence of blacks, Slate's William Saletan wrote a series of pieces on race, IQ, and genetics. In his first post, Saletan wrote: "It's time to prepare for the possibility that equality of intelligence, in the sense of racial averages on tests, will turn out not to be true." One's to-do list reflects a balance of perceived likelihoods. Is preparing for the congenital mental inferiority of blacks more like budgeting for retirement, or buying asteroid insurance? Caveats and wiggle words aside, the impression left by Saletan's piece is that it's more like, say, a prudent response to rising sea levels. To drive the point home, Saletan suggested a historical parallel: Liberals made angry or defensive by the possibility that blacks (as a group) score lower on IQ tests than whites (as a group) for genetic reasons are like Christians made angry or defensive by the theory of evolution. Thus the headline "Liberal Creationism." Saletan's analogy implies that the conflict over race, intelligence, and genetics is a conflict between science and superstition. It's not; it's a conflict between science and science. Worse, even when Saletan shades his rhetoric carefully, the reader is left with the impression that science—hard, empirical disinterested science—is trending to a hereditarian explanation for the IQ gap, and that bad or weak science—really a kind of wishful, mushy, quasi-superstitious scientism—is on the side of an environmental or cultural explanation. If you explore the subject in any depth, or even just click through to some of Saletan's own links, you find the opposite is closer to the truth. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=1700945566886988248.

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