Intelligence and Governance

Friday, September 16, 2005
Charles Murray has an article up at Commentary that examines what strongly appear to be innate differences in intelligence between men and women and between races. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the evidence presented but am accepting its veracity, arguendo. Dr. Murray quotes Steven Pinker thus “Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.” While I agree with the quote, my understanding of “All men are created equal” applied to man’s status before God and before man’s law as well as in the manner that Pinker proposes.

Acceptance of the fact of innate differences has some potential for positive impact on educational policy issues. I’m not sure that a return to the two-track system is possible (or even desirable) but perhaps a cessation of the “dumbing down” process could occur. The current leveling process has been employed in the MSE for at least twenty years and has diminished the value of a high school diploma to the point where it is regarded as a simple award for showing up for school. Meanwhile, many businesses spend an extraordinary amount of time and money in remedial training to bring the average HS graduate up to a trainable level. It’s another hidden tax.

Can the fact of innate differences even be presented to the public in discussion? The Harvard faculty reaction to President Summer’s remarks and his subsequent expenditure of $50MM to quell the storm suggests not. I haven’t seen much on this article to date and I’m curious as to the reaction of the poster’s here both to the article and to the proposition that it is an appropriate subject for public discussion.


MeaninglessHotAir said...

There was a very interesting article on the difference between men's and women's brains in this article in Time Magazine. Of course they couched the whole thing in an attack on Dr. Lawrence Summers. That's to be expected. But if you blow that off you discover many interesting facts uncovered by recent neuroscience.

For example, women see more colors than men and can smell things that men literally cannot smell. Men have superior innate senses of direction and can detect movement better than women.

These differences aren't abstract beliefs; they're based on actual circuits connected on the outer part of the brain. The eyeball actually starts doing computation on images before they ever hit the brain and the computations being done by the two genders are demonstrably different.

Rick Ballard said...

Murray covers a bit of that both in the body and more extensively in his footnotes.

Provable innate differences make current CW look as dumb as it is in reality. Nailing it down genetically is going to make for some very interesting arguments.

Ciao a domattina.

flenser said...

Rick asks: "Can the fact of innate differences even be presented to the public in discussion? "

I think the public has no problem with this kind of discussion. In fact, I'd say that the public takes sex differences for granted. It is people in academia who need to be persuaded to open their eyes.

It's good to see that some Western scientists are groping their way back to knowledge that our grandparents took for granted though.

I'd be willing to step past the question of whether differences exist and move on to what those differences should mean for our society. But that may be getting ahead of ourselves. Let's see what others think.

Rick Ballard said...


Posting here is going to force me to write more clearly. "Presented to the public" via some type of MSM was what I had in mind. How can someone could wrest control of NPR from the 'bots for a moment or get a program on 'The Discovery Channel'. That would definitely be easier than getting a shot at a fair hearing in academia.

I'm sure that NPR could line up 200 academics to thumb their nose at the idea - look at what happened to 'The Bell Curve' - dismissed without analysis or disproof. Same with Lonborg and 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'.

The 'Bell Curve' and Longborg's book were a bit esoteric for the general public but discussion of innate differences would be helpful in confirming the public's view of the utter idiocy of a certain segment of academia.

And yes, at some point the policy issues that the facts affect need to be discussed. Perhaps by you?

Knucklehead said...

OMG! Are you telling us that the co-author of The Bell Curve (and yes, I read it and, no, it wasn't racist) is not only not wasting away in Hate Crimes Prison but is still writing?!?

Is there no justice? Will there never be peace?

Stuff our grandmas knew.

I remember, vaguely, from back in the days when I still subscribed to the NYT (mostly for the Science Times and the sports section) an article about how the "old wives tale" about children "growing over night" was "suddenly and scientifically" found to be a matter of fact rather than silly ol' nonsense. Kids can grow as much as a half-inch, even more, literally overnight and, don't recall why, it happens most often during the sleeping hours.

Nex thing yaknow they'll try to tell us the differences between cats and dogs isn't completely environmental.

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