Reverse transcriptplease? (updated)


by Rohin
18th October, 2007 at 2:47 am    

Science legend, James Watson, who won the Nobel for discovering DNA along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, has put his double helix in his mouth:

The 79-year-old geneticist said he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.”. He said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”. [Link]

Yikes. The Science Museum has cancelled his forthcoming sell-out speech. I can’t disagree with their decision, they explained they do not shy away from controversy but in this regard he had “gone beyond the point of acceptable debate”. Let’s take a closer look.

Watson, who has previously supported a woman’s right to abort if a test was invented to show the baby would be gay, bases his argument on apparently sound science, but draws a faulty conclusion.

He argues:

“there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so”

Fine. But the timescale between humans leaving Africa and the present is not long at all in evolutionary terms.

Significant evolutionary differences exist between human populations, but higher functions have been hard to analyse, primarily due to cultural differences. There is convincing evidence to suggest Australian aboriginals have developed different areas of the brain to those on the Eurasian-African landmass. No such evidence exists for Africans.

Even if one accepts there has been ample time for differences in intelligence to develop, how does he draw the conclusion black people are stupid? At present saying black people are thicker than others is based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence and flawed IQ tests or A-level results, which are completely meaningless as they bear no relation to genes. [Edit - they bear some relation to genes, but one that cannot be accurately ascertained]

Americans have been keen to prove Watson’s assertion for some years. Many IQ tests have shown a consistent 20 point shortfall comparing ‘blacks’ to ‘whites’. These were exposed as pointless as socioeconomic status has a huge bearing on scores in an IQ test (a bad test in itself) and the samples were not matched.

Watson appears to suggest evolutionary differences like intelligence could arise far quicker than conventionally accepted, but he might be conflating data drift with a genuine significant statistical change. IQ test results have gone up over time, within the same population.

However, what would we do if our genetic analysis grows more advanced, as I’m sure it will, and we CAN analyse differences between all races? Will the smarter races say “hey it’s a bit of fun” whilst the dumber ones complain? One thing IS for sure, racist views (which is what Watson’s are) will be scientifically challenged with greater genetic knowledge, as the concept of a ‘pure’ race will be eroded entirely.


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  1. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:07 am  

    A nice comment on Pharyngula:

    “Do genes influence one’s standardized IQ test scores? I think most people with Down’s Syndrome agree that they do.

    Are black people inherently less intelligent than white people? I don’t know but I do know that the question itself is about as scientifically valid as asking “are red haired people less moral than blonde haired people?” The people who ask such questions are the real retards.”

  2. Kulvinder — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:56 am  

    I don’t agree with him but i’m not going to argue the merits of his argument as it is ridiculously conceited to pretend my knowledge of genetics is anywhere near that of a man who won a Nobel prize for work related to DNA, but i think the reactions to his remarks have been overblown.

    Hes hardly advocating discrimination on the basis of colour – infact he specifically suggested otherwise; rather he has certain views on the heritability of intelligence, and from that aired some opinions on social issues.

    As someone who he may well view as genetically inferior im at a loss to understand the level of vitriol thrown his way. If you don’t agree with him or think his views irrelevant ignore him. Statements from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (which has now replaced the CRE) that they’re considering his remarks ‘in full’ are unpleasant and quite threatening. Public witchunts of the kind Satoshi Kanazawa also had to undergo last year don’t encourage academic freedom.

    What on earth do people want him to do; keep quiet because they disagree with him?

  3. Kulvinder — on 18th October, 2007 at 6:10 am  

    nb I also support a womans right to abort if a ‘gay gene’ is found. Its no more nor less discriminating than selecting foetuses because they have ‘brown eye’ or ‘blonde hair’ genes. Once you start selecting genetic traits its meaningless to moralise on one being better/worse than another.

  4. newmania — on 18th October, 2007 at 6:42 am  

    I have always despised the Independent and putting this on the front page confirms my low opinion of the rag. I do know quite a lot about this subject but you do not have to kow much to see what utter nonsense it is . Its not a matter of science its a matter of scale and context. The IQ differetials between races are there for all to see and there are very small differences between racial groups. In fact blacks do worst , whites next Asians a above them and (true) eskimos are top.
    The amounts are miniscule though and of no importance . The position is confused because between populations there are of course different tendencies ; to be fat , tall or whatever it might be. This sort of effect may have racial boundaries because they will tend to be geographic boundaries .
    Different populations of each group have diffrent profiles

    In fact all people are staggeringly closely related having been descended very recently from one small African group so we are all Africans. You see the silliness here . The cladding is something like

    Africans

    Africans

    Africans

    Africans ( and everyone else)

    There is a vast amount of work on the subject and while there will always be comeone to say this sort of thing, it is absolutely nothing to do with the true position which shows exactly the opposite in that it recognises a question at all . There were some Americans saying this sort of thing in the 60s..by the way

    It occurrs to me that this might be upsetting for some insecrure blacks overly impressed with “Scientists” ( ie anyone who was ever a scientists whatever it was they did ). As a means to sell Newspapers it s about a low as it gets

    Disgraceful,

  5. Boyo — on 18th October, 2007 at 7:51 am  

    You get lots of clever people spouting crazy ideas.

    As for IQ, I would probably score about 12, a little higher than a jar of yoghurt, because I simply don’t process information in the way designed by the tests. Yet after doing badly at school I am now a very senior, and well-rewarded, professional. EM, emotional intellgence, is my thing. And maybe a kind of chaotic reasoning as opposed to logical. My point is – I am frankly far more capable than many of my peers but an IQ test would indicate quite the opposite. So IMHO IQ means s**t. My partner, incidentally, is a double PHd in economics, and I’m sure would go off the IQ scale. But i don’t think she ONLY wants me for my body.

    But let’s get back to his original point of “not having much hope for Africa” because they are all stupid.

    Having worked in international development for a decade, my guess is there are many reasons why Africa has problems. They include

    - the legacy of colonialism. And before the Asians say well, what about us? Well, what about you? Is poverty any better in India? Corruption an worse than Pakistan? Yet the culture of the Sub Continent was way “older” than the European. African society was more or less stone age at the point of impact (there are reasons for this too – mostly to do with adaption, ie humans adapt and develop tools to suit their environment, which is basically why we all got where we did before the original “globalisation” of the 18th century. Nothing to do with intelligence, stoopid).

    - economy. Only now is oil really being sourced in Africa. But it is essentially an agricultural society. Yet it cannot compete against the closed economic societies of the West.

    - corruption. Largely the legacy of poverty and colonialism.

    Oh there’s so much more, but in any case the REAL reasons behind Africa’s problems expose the idiocy of his argument. Now I’d better have some breakfast!

  6. Mr Eugenides — on 18th October, 2007 at 8:06 am  

    “Americans have been keen to prove Watson’s assertion for some years.”

    Er, what does this mean?

    Would ‘Some people’ not have been a better fit in that sentence than ‘Americans’? Or are you suggesting that Americans generally are keen to find some scientific basis for their endemic racism?

  7. Katy Newton — on 18th October, 2007 at 8:10 am  

    I can’t stand all this Bell Curve nonsense. I know that people argue that IQ is culture-neutral and designed to work out intelligence potential even in people who’ve had little or no formal education, but I don’t actually think that’s possible.

    In any event, even if you assume for a moment that it’s reliable, it’s difficult to see where the Bell Curve gets you. The fact that one nation’s average IQ is lower than another’s is neither here nor there on the individual level, because the fact is that there are plenty of highly intelligent Africans and plenty of not terribly intelligent Chinese.

    So, for example, if you advertised a job and received applications from a black African candidate and a Chinese candidate, even if the Bell Curve theory was correct, where does it get you? It doesn’t justify refusing to interview the black candidate, for example, because the Bell Curve theory doesn’t mean that the particular candidate in front of you isn’t very very clever. Academics may find the difference in national IQ interesting but once you get down to dealing with individuals it has no application.

    The Science Museum can decide who it wants to invite to speak and if they don’t want to provide a forum for him then that’s up to them. Personally, though, I think they made a mistake, because I think crackpots like this should be offered every opportunity to demonstrate just how muddled and illogical their thinking actually is, and by extension how illogical discrimination on the basis of race is.

    I don’t think that anyone should be afraid to openly debate issues like the Bell Curve, even if it does mean sharing a platform with someone you’d rather not talk to.

  8. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 8:46 am  

    I have to say I love all this “I don’t agree with him” stuff.
    Personally I have no idea whether I agree with him or not as I haven’t studied the subject.

    I certainly don’t agree that African poverty and corruption is all our fault (the Boyo view).
    However, I’m not sure that’s any less racist than the Watson view, is it?
    Both views boil down to saying “poor dears, they can’t help it”.

    And it is pathetic of the Science Museum to cancel the lecture.

  9. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 9:18 am  

    PS – very witty title!

  10. Oluseun — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:24 am  

    The Independent is as poor as the Daily Mail!

    Yesterdays headline was on a similar scale to their recent headline on Boris Johnson (a quote from the Mother of Stephen Lawrence labelling him as a racist)!

    As a Black British (Afro-Caribbean) person I too find it difficult to understand why Politicians/commentators and various other non-genetic scientists have taken it upon themselves to condemn the conclusions of Dr. Watson’s life research. This is very similar to the stance taken by polemics on both “sides” of the Climate Change debate. I fed up of

    I and idiots like Keith Vas have no idea if the findings of Dr. Watson hold any merit. His findings along are not racist. To assert based (on evidence) that there are differences between people who descend from those who were geographically separated in their evolution is not bigoted. To assert this based on prejudice and no evidence is!

    Where the Dr. starts to be controversial/discriminatory is when he steps out of his area of expertise to comment on the political and social consequences of his findings – questioning the equitable status of people with different genetic tracts (races, sexual origination, intelligence) currently enjoy within the Law!!

  11. Boyo — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:40 am  

    Chris C – British society was riven with corruption until it managed to grow so wealthy through aggression and protectionism that it could afford not to be.

    Poverty breeds corruption. The colonial legacy, by which we imposed our own systems on different cultures for our own benefits, then deprived those cultures from enjoying the same freedoms (eg open/ closed markets) we experienced, also clearly bears some responsibility.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think I’m being racist. ;-)

  12. Sid — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:43 am  

    It’s only good upbringing and manners that prevents eskimos, asians and jews from suggesting that white men who sermonise on personally-held prejudices are inferior to them. ;-)

  13. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:50 am  

    “until it managed to grow so wealthy through aggression and protectionism”

    Protectionism stunts wealth creation (for both sides); it certainly does not cause it.

    http://www.econlib.org/LIBRARY/Enc/bios/Ricardo.html

    I don’t doubt there was aggression – but you generally have to be pretty wealthy in order to afford to get aggressive.

    Completely agree that trade barriers we (i.e. the beloved EU) put up against African imports are disgraceful – and they hurt us (though of course not the special interests) too!!

  14. a — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:53 am  

    I for one welcome our Eskimo overlords.

  15. Kismet Hardy — on 18th October, 2007 at 10:53 am  

    Talking of science, and I generally fail miserably to, here’s a scientific way to find out whether you’re on the left or the right

    http://www.news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,22556678-23272,00.html

  16. Jai — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    He said he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

    Aside from the fact that this anecdotally-based statement is a highly subjective opinion and one which can be refuted by plenty of people with more positive experiences, the irony here is that exactly the same charges could be levelled at white people by racist non-whites, if they were so inclined. Or indeed towards any ethnic group.

    It’s easy to make huge generalisations and focus on actual/perceived negative personality traits which may allegedly be disproportionately exhibited by individuals from a certain background, exaggerate them out of proportion (and downplay the influence of upbringing, environmental factors etc), and then slander the entire group by claiming there must be some kind of innate, hard-wired tendency for such failings.

    Two can play that game. And I think Watson should be stripped of his Nobel prize as a result of his disgusting bigotry.

  17. Sid — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:12 am  

    steady on Jai. a happyslapping followed by a debagging will do.

  18. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    I think it right for him to be stopped from speaking at the Science museum..having said that, I still think he should be given a proper platform to speak from in order to fully discuss what his opinions are. That way everyone will know exactly what he has “proved” or “disproved”…isn’t this a similar discussion to blacks are better runners..have better singing voices etc…are these racist too? If they are, no one makes a fuss over them much because they are positive comments…when you call someone less intelligent because of genetics then it has negative connotations which remind me of those old American films where the black actors only played slaves, maids, labourers, drivers…

  19. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:24 am  

    Why is it right to stop him speaking at the museum but not at some other “proper platform”?

    What was he due to talk about at the museum anyway?
    Not this topic I assume?

  20. Ravi Naik — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    “Americans have been keen to prove Watson’s assertion for some years”

    What pisses me off about James Watson is how careless he made those comments, and how his words will be used to validate the beliefs of racists that blacks are inferior, and that science does not “see race” because of political correctness.

    The fact is that James Watson has not proved anything, not at genetical or biological level, and if anyone did, then there would be absolutely no way to dispute the results, unless proving that the process of getting those results was deeply flawed. Which people have done with the Bell Curve, and the other book on the IQ of Nations. In both books, the authors were shown to bend data to validate their hypothesis.

    Funny how social sciences seem to “advance” our “understanding” of different races, but natural sciences doesn’t. Oh statistics… is there nothing you can’t prove? :)

    The problem of race is that individuals that belong to a particular race are diverse… incredibly diverse. Even skin colour varies from dark to light in each race. How can one comment about a particular behavioural trait of race, without making a gross generalisation? Why are there very intelligent whites, average whites, and dumb whites?

    James Watson might be right, though. In the sense that Africa (and indeed India) suffered and continue to suffer from malnutrition, and this affects brain development, which when you add the lack of education and resources, it shows that it affects development of a country.

    But James Watson decided to demonstrate that “Africans” intelligence is less than “white” intelligence, by saying look at how worthless his black servants are. You couldn’t do a better parody of an old white supremacist. He is from an old generation, and such racist attitudes and language with no scientific bearing, I have to say, hope die soon.

  21. Bert Preast — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:46 am  

    The main reason I can see for Africa’s problems has nothing to do with any racial difference in IQ scores. A few points difference in average scores in no way means a country lacks enough intelligent people to run it properly. What a country needs for cohesion, security and success is confidence in one’s fellow countrymen, and it’s there that Africa has the problem.

    I read a study a few years back that said Ethiopia had the world’s lowest IQ scores. That set me to thinking there’s something that affects intelligence more than either nature or nurture – nutrition. If the body is denied a balanced diet then the brain will suffer alongside it, and as there is a hereditary factor it takes two or three generations to bring the level back up again.

    They say the Inuit and the Orientals are the brainiest of the lot, and they say fish is the best brain-food. Got to be something in this, hasn’t there? The English also eat a lot of fish, but going by the Sun’s popularity I think we can also assume that chips have a detrimental effect on intelligence that balances it out.

  22. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:47 am  

    Chris, if he was to address something controversial, it should be done when it is the specific topic being discussed, with himself and others being given enough time to prepare. Therefore the event at the SM would have been overshadowed by this controversy and possibly made worse.

  23. Bert Preast — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:48 am  

    Oh, and banning this bloke is not denying the BNP oxygen in any way, shape or form. It’s in fact going to win them more support. The Independent are fools.

  24. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    I wish someone would define intelligence anyway…i know plenty of ppl who have high iqs, good degrees etc, but haven’t got a clue about the real world…or, they are only “intelligent” when it comes to their own subject areas…i.e science…but when it comes to history or politics, may not necessarily know much or want to know much.

  25. Random Guy — on 18th October, 2007 at 12:25 pm  

    This guy deserves a kick in the balls (preferably with steel-studded boots) at the very least for his comments.

    Africa has a problem, but it has nothing to do with IQ. It has everything to do with corruption, self-sustenance, poverty and infrastructure. It has lots to do with western self-subsidising and import barriers to African markets. It has a lot to do with Western exploitation of African markets without appropriate compensation. This is a global policy/wealth imabalance/exploitation issue.

    It also has nothing to do with some geneticist/scientist who apparently does not have a clue what it is like to live there. He did hit the nail on the head when he talked about Social Policies. If Africa can get back on its feet the change will take place in the West first, with a massive rethink of the capitalist approach to Africa. I am all for it. Lets talk hard figures and numbers and set equal standards in terms of monetary/capital flow. I guarantee that Western governments will never adopt this approach.

    This is not to take away the huge effort that many Western orgnaisations and the even greater number of good-hearted Westerners who go to such great lengths to help Africa.

  26. Boyo — on 18th October, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    “Protectionism stunts wealth creation (for both sides); it certainly does not cause it.”

    The British Empire was built on protectionism Chris, while preeching free trade. This is an historical fact.

  27. Bert Preast — on 18th October, 2007 at 12:52 pm  

    Not quite, the British empire expanded through free trade, then became maintained by protectionism.

  28. Sid — on 18th October, 2007 at 12:57 pm  

    Not quite, the British empire expanded through free trade, then became maintained by protectionism, while preeching free trade.

  29. Bert Preast — on 18th October, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    Can’t argue with that.

  30. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 1:11 pm  

    The comments have taken an unexpected direction for me. First, I would like to say one thing quite clearly.

    Those who say “well he knows more than me” and hide behind his veneer of respectability in order to tacitly agree with his theory are no better than racists themselves.

    It’s completely morally bankrupt to say that simply because he is a respected biologist we should buy his claptrap. Newton spend his autumn years obsessed with alchemy. Galileo backtracked on his earlier discoveries when he was old. Watson is a silly old man.

    Why? Because science isn’t like religion.

    High priest: The earth is flat.
    Followers: Shit, OK.

    High scientist: The earth orbits the sun.
    Followers: Prove it. (proof produced) Oh, OK.

    It doesn’t matter that you’re not as knowledgeable in evolution/genetics as him. All that matters is that you have a brain of your own. Shit, you don’t have to be an inuit to figure this one out.

    Bottom line: THERE IS NO PROOF. As Ravi said, if there was, people like me would shut up and have to agree.

    The fact that Watson suggests we’ll discover the gene for intelligence in the next 10 years shows his ignorance, intelligence is one of the most multi-factorial traits humans exhibit. There is no one gene coding for it.

    Remember this:

    There is no accurate test of intelligence
    Even if there was, testing a bunch of Africans and a bunch of Europeans will give you NO DATA about their genes.

  31. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    Mr Eugenides, to answer your question, you are right ‘some people’ might have been better – but I said Americans as the overwhelming majority of research into the differences in intelligence between races has been American-led. They do seem to have some keen interest in it. What that says about American society as a whole is unclear.

    Bert, I agree with you about fish. Keralites and Bengalis eat lots of fish and are supposed to have the biggest brains and best hair. But this isn’t fact, it’s folklore.

    At school the Chinese, Sri Lankan and Indian kids were always the smartest – are we agreed? Does this mean they are GENETICALLY more intelligent? No. Without examining their home environment, their diet, their medical histories, their upbringing etc etc we can draw no conclusions about their genetic superiority to anyone.

  32. Morgoth — on 18th October, 2007 at 1:26 pm  

    Fuck me, I’m going to have to agree with Rohin.

    Watson is, in this case, talking utter shite. IQ tests are horribly sensitive to different psychological learning paradigms, and in general are worthless for anything other than making a change from boasting about knob-size.

  33. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    Fuck me, I’m going to have to agree with Rohin.

    Hey, why the ‘fuck me’?! ;)

  34. HalOnsgard — on 18th October, 2007 at 2:11 pm  

    When you’ve finished comfortingly exchanging the liberal parrot cries you learned from the Great White Colour-Blind Bwana, you might care to review the irrefutable evidence for the existence of races (merely subspecies of the large mammal known as homo sapiens sapiens, somewhat inbred and evolutionarily isolated for most of their life histories) instead of conjuring theoretical objections based on strawmanship out of thin air.

    Ooh, there are no 100pc pure races– so they’re cannot be such a thing as a race, tee hee! Yeah, and all colours blend undetectably one into another in the spectrum, so there are no such things as colours either. And some men are more feminine than others and there are a few hermaphrodites, so “male” and “female” are only cultural constructs. And no two people can quite agree who’s family and isn’t, so families are a myth too.

    Not that any of you have the courage or curiosity of a polyp on the showing of this debate… but just in case there are one or two who might faintly wonder if Watson knows more about the subject than Professor Keith Vaz or Dr Ken Livingstone or Archbishop Trevor Phillips, here’s a brief introduction to what the vast majority of psychologists and geneticists are working on and are afraid to tell you:

    http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/Race_Evolution_Behavior.pdf

    http://www.goodrumj.com/RFaqHTML.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Race-Reality-Differences-Vincent-Sarich/dp/0813340861

    You might even get round to reading Darwin’s “Descent of Man”, particularly chapter 7, if it hasn’t been bowdlerised yet on the grounds that some numbskull might find it “hurtful”.

  35. Jai — on 18th October, 2007 at 2:14 pm  

    What that says about American society as a whole is unclear.

    It says they have an unhealthy fixation on the subject of race.

    Hell, the fact that people still even have to ask questions such as “Is America ready for a black president ?” (re: Barack Obama) speaks volumes about how screwed up some of their priorities are across the Atlantic.

    Not that people wouldn’t necessarily ask the same question if a black (or Asian, for that matter) candidate was up for the Prime Minister job here in Ol’ Vilayati, of course…..

  36. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 2:52 pm  

    “Not quite, the British empire expanded through free trade, then became maintained by protectionism, while preeching free trade.”

    Possibly so.
    But Britain would have become even wealthier had it practised what it preached!
    (As its trading partners would have.)
    And we would be if we did that now…and so would Africa!!
    (But then we don’t have control of our own trade policy any more…)

  37. Sunny — on 18th October, 2007 at 2:57 pm  

    A few points:
    Completely agree that trade barriers we (i.e. the beloved EU) put up against African imports are disgraceful – and they hurt us (though of course not the special interests) too!!

    Our barriers to trade with Africa may exist now but early on in western economic development those barriers did not exist – the English, French, Dutch etc ruled over those African lands and made sure they could plunder the resources. Right now it doesn’t affect us as much because the west is already rich.

    At school the Chinese, Sri Lankan and Indian kids were always the smartest – are we agreed?

    Actually, this is also fallacy. In Canada, in some places, Indian kids do very badly. When my cousin went to Vancuover as a Sikh doctor, he got stared at everywhere because they thought it was surprising a Sikh actually made it to being a doctor (his own words).

    So there’s this fallacy that Asians are clever everywhere. This is Bell Curve bullshit again.

  38. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

    HalOnsgard, calm down dear.

    No one has suggested there is no such thing as race. In my article I said “Significant evolutionary differences exist between human populations” and it would be foolish to suggest otherwise.

    Your first link is a broadly discredited book from a psychologist who frequently exposes his lack of understanding of evolution. His opening paragraph mentions Jon Entine’s paper on black athletes, which is a terribly flawed piece of duff science.

    Your use of ‘subspecies’ to be interchangeable with ‘race’ shows YOU don’t have too firm a grasp on this issue either. Homo sapiens is the binomen, the second sapiens is the subspecies.

    In a nutshell: I (and I don’t think anyone else) am not denying the existence of race. But in the lack of any evidence to support the claim that there are genetic differences in intelligence between races, this argument is speculation.

    Sure, I have no faith in a dick like Keith Vaz or Trevor Phillips. But I have faith in my own understanding, having done half my BSc in human genetics. For the record, I find analysing racial differences fascinating, as it reflects our anthropological migration, but my prerequisite is fact, not guesswork.

    (Sunny, the example I gave about smart schoolkids was just to illustrate what is ‘commonly accepted’ but isn’t fact. As you demonstrate yourself by showing differences in other countries)

  39. Mike M — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:05 pm  

    How much discontent would we have if he stated something negative towards the white race? I seem to remember a movie called, “White men can’t jump” that never received the condemnation like this is. It’s ok to say that black people are better atheletes, but to suggest that white people have some trait that could be better is racist. I don’t know enough about this science to make a logical response, but my point is neither does the rest of the media and organizations that are complaining.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    “Not that any of you have the courage or curiosity of a polyp on the showing of this debate… but just in case there are one or two who might faintly wonder if Watson knows more about the subject than Professor Keith Vaz”

    Don’t kid yourself. The work by J. Philippe Rushton, the one whose work you link in the pompous arse site called “The Charles Darwin Research Institute”, has been heavily contested by scientists in the method he used to assert his conclusions. He is not a geneticist or anything of the sort, but a psychology professor, and although he cited the well-known geneticist Cavalli-Sforza, the latter has contradicted him by concluding that all racial classifications are arbitrary.

    The other point is that IQ as measured by tests are significantly higher when a country becomes industrialised. Tests given to the white population in the 1900s were significantly lower than contemporary African Americans.

    And there is more to chew on here. So, no one should be taking cues from Keith Vaz or Livingstone, nor pseudo-scientist hacks like Rushton or Lynn.

  41. 5cc — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    Mike M

    You know why there wasn’t much condemnation of ‘white Men Can’t Jump’?

    At the end, the white man jumps.

  42. Unity — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    Fine. But the timescale between humans leaving Africa and the present is not long at all in evolutionary terms.

    But time is only one factor, population and the extent to which populations intermingle is equally important.

    It is perfectly possible for significant genetic differences to appear between and become ubiquitous within specific populations where you are dealing with relatively small populations and breeding is confined to that population. Where notions of ‘racial genetics’ are absurd is in failing to recognise that the actual picture is almost certainly much more complex than mere crude questions of skin colour – you cannot generalise about ‘Africans’ or ‘Europeans’ because even within those notional groups there will be sub-groups that exhibit greater genetic difference from each other than they do from a notionally different race.

    Watson’s anecdotal comments are rather antediluvian, but the underlying scientific questions he poses are valid and should be explored, even if some of the outcomes are a little uncomfortable at time, not least because I strongly suspect (and expect) that the real picture that emerges with present more of a challenge to crude ideas of ‘race’ than any number of utopian assumptions about equality.

  43. Palmela — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:16 pm  

    Dr. Watson being a scientist, he bases his opinions on facts, data, and logic, instead of what politicians and religious people say must be. These people don’t want to discuss data or testing or factual research.
    Bravo Mr Watson!!
    HIV HIV HOOREY!

  44. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:17 pm  

    Unity – agreed (that valid points need to be explored). I don’t think anyone’s shying away from the issue. It’s just far far more complex than it’s made out to be.

    Nice link Ravi.

    5cc – haha!

  45. Morgoth — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:22 pm  

    Watson’s anecdotal comments are rather antediluvian, but the underlying scientific questions he poses are valid and should be explored, even if some of the outcomes are a little uncomfortable at time, not least because I strongly suspect (and expect) that the real picture that emerges with present more of a challenge to crude ideas of ‘race’ than any number of utopian assumptions about equality.

    I disagree Unity. What you and all the other people who sully the great name of Charles Darwin fail to realise is that you cannot apply normal evolutionary models to modern homo sapiens. Evolution is powered by two main mechanisms – genetic drift and natural selection. Since the rise of civilisation, the driving force of natural selection has been almost entirely removed from homo sapiens, and you’re left with extremely minor differences (Sickle Cells, for example) between various geographically-based populations of homo sapiens. To extrapolate from those towards something as profound as “intelligence” (in this case crudely used as a gross generalisation for a whole, well, quite-literally-an-entire-brains-worth of factors and mechanisms) is literally absurd and totally unscientific.

  46. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:30 pm  

    Sunny – “Right now it doesn’t affect us as much because the west is already rich.”

    Maybe not well off media types like you! ;-)

    But see below:

    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article485046.ece

    “British households pay an extra £832 a year in grocery bills due to the huge EU subsidy system that is also depriving tens of thousands of African farmers of their livelihoods, a charity warns.

    Everyday goods such as bread, milk, sugar and chicken are all more expensive because of the payments made to British and European farmers. At the same time, dumping of subsidised produce in African countries is forcing local producers out of business.

    Claire Godfrey, trade policy adviser for Oxfam, said: “Not only does the Common Agricultural Policy hit European shoppers in their pockets but strikes a blow against the heart of development in places like Africa.”

    But that’s the EU for you!

  47. Sunny — on 18th October, 2007 at 3:36 pm  

    Blame the French for that. I’ve always argued for more free trade. I wish I was ‘well off’ :(

    I seem to remember a movie called, “White men can’t jump” that never received the condemnation like this is

    ha ha! Did you actually watch the film? Is this the best you can come up with?

  48. sonia — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    if our genetic analysis grows more advanced, it would show ‘in-group’ variation is just as much as ‘out-group’ variation and this would nail the whole ‘race’ crap thing once and for all.

    yippee for that.

  49. paul — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:05 pm  

    5 million South Africans with AIDS. Millions of African children orphaned or HIV themselves and the message that we have been paying for and sending them for over 30 years doesn’t ever seem to get through. Yes, that’s really intelligent, particularly how their libido is more important than their responsibilities to their children and future generations. But wait, can’t we blame the white man somehow for Africa’s basket case situation, Oh! wait a minute, there’s an African Bishop being reported as saying in todays Guardian that western condoms are already pre-infected with HIV before they are sent to Africa. So, there you have it then, it’s the whites again stupid….

    From the almost endless nightly shows on Cable TV we now can see for ourselves that the reason the jails in the US are disproportionaly full of blacks is because they cause most of the street crime in the USA as anyone who has lived there knows full well but don’t let truths get in the way of PC statements. Never mind that several million SE Asians and Koreans have arrived on the shores of the US in the past 40 years and they have thrived against the odds but don’t tell the black man this or he’ll call you stupid again, because it’s slavery don’t you know that’s keeping him disadvantaged.

  50. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    Paul, assuming you’re white, you’re doing your bit to persuade us that white people are thick too.

  51. Random Guy — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:15 pm  

    Rohin, I think that is exactly what Paul was trying to prove (in his own, ’roundabout’ way). Thankfully, I don’t think Paul will be used as the acid test for the collective IQ of the white race…

  52. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:28 pm  

    paul..so what do you think of the teenagers (of all colours) who are still being infected with hiv today in Britain?? You are so one dimensional it’s not even funny…and goes beyond stupid.
    There are issues that go hand in hand with high hiv rates, high prison rates and even high mental illness rates. But ppl like you can’t look past the headlines to try and make a fucking difference.

  53. Sunny — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

    Oh! wait a minute, there’s an African Bishop being reported as saying in todays Guardian that western condoms are already pre-infected with HIV before they are sent to Africa.

    Ever heard of the (white Christian evangelist) Pat Robertson speak? Heard of Jarry Falwell?

    Many of Robertson’s views mirror those of the evangelical activist Jerry Falwell, who made frequent appearances on The 700 Club. He agreed with Falwell when Falwell stated[24] that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were caused by “pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People For the American Way.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Robertson#Controversies_and_criticisms

    Don’t make me look more stupid than you are little boy!

  54. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:45 pm  

    There are plenty of thick teenagers (of all colours) in the UK, no doubt.

    But not many *bishops* or *health ministers* telling people to avoid condoms or to try beetroot instead, are there??

  55. Sid — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:46 pm  

    Morgoth – I agree with you!

    Marinade on that for a minute, it’s a rare thing.

  56. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    Yeah – we rightly castigate Falwell as a f*cking moron.
    Fortunately he is not in charge of very much.
    (The US under bush has so far given $2.5bn in aids related aid.)

    From the Guardian 2003:
    “Bob Geldof astonished the aid community yesterday by using a return visit to Ethiopia to praise the Bush administration as one of Africa’s best friends in its fight against hunger and Aids.
    The musician-turned activist said Washington was providing major assistance, in contrast to the European Union’s “pathetic and appalling” response to the continent’s humanitarian crises.”

    Yet we cut (or some people cut) far more danegrous idiots like Thabo Mbeki and his even more moronic health minister a bit of slack…they can’t help it, it’s the fault of colonialism of course.

  57. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:55 pm  

    yes well blame the individual not the whole race??!!

  58. Jai — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    But not many *bishops* or *health ministers* telling people to avoid condoms or to try beetroot instead, are there??

    No, just a white *scientist* telling people that black people are inherently less intelligent than everyone else, based purely on his own limited and highly-subjective experience, despite the fact that, for example, an extremely intelligent black American is currently running for President, or that one of the most successful and highly paid people in the history of the American entertainment industry is a black woman (Oprah).

    And that’s even before we get started on all the Nigerian doctors in the NHS on this side of the Atlantic.

    As for white bishops…..best not to open that particular Pandora’s Box, unless you want the rest of us to start pulling apart some of the more irrational aspects of Anglican Christianity. Not exactly logical or scientifically rigorous.

  59. Rumbold — on 18th October, 2007 at 4:59 pm  

    Just to clear up a few half-truths about the economic expansion of the British Empire (which one by the way?). Britain, like most other countries, had both protectionist and free-trade elements in its system. It cannot be characterised as one or the other (apart from to say that in general the British were more prone to free trade than European nations).

  60. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:00 pm  

    “unless you want the rest of us to start pulling apart some of the more irrational aspects of Anglican Christianity”

    Pull away – but you’ll struggle to match the stupidity of the Very Reverend Bishop Pre-infected Condom.

  61. Sunny — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    Yeah – we rightly castigate Falwell as a f*cking moron.
    Fortunately he is not in charge of very much.
    (The US under bush has so far given $2.5bn in aids related aid.)

    Do ‘we’? Who is that? Pat and Jerry are quite popular in the United States you know.

    Incidentally, most of Bush’s aid has been to promote abstinence, nothing to do with condoms. And abstinence is as popular there as in the US (ie, not very). I think Geldof was being stupid.

    Besides, it’s not like we’re not criticising the Bishop dude. What’s your point ChrisC?

  62. Rohin — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

    Guys, I wouldn’t bother responding to this line of argument. Naming stupid people to illustrate an entire race’s characteristics is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all year. Anyway you can answer them all by saying “David Icke”.

  63. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

    let’s not even go down the Waco route

  64. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    Well the argument seems to go:

    Watson: Africans are stupid, that’s why Africa is a mess.
    Irate response: Ban him! And anyway, Africa’s mess is all colonialism’s fault.

    Both responses are somewhat dehumanising. Both deny the possibility of African agency.

    My response: Do Africans not at some stage have to take *some* responsibility for their own plight? For the lunacy and kleptocracy?
    If not “stupidity” then what? “Culture”? Or – I hope, I hope – time?

  65. Sofia — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:27 pm  

    How about first of all not looking at Africa the continent and focusing on individual countries. They aren’t all the same..and it’s like lumping all of Europe together and talking about “it” as though it is some homogenous group..

  66. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:30 pm  

    “They aren’t all the same..and it’s like lumping all of Europe together and talking about “it” as though it is some homogenous group..”

    A eurosceptic after my own heart! :-)

  67. Soso — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:32 pm  

    Um….I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on some silly IQ test.

    Has anyone taken an on-line IQ test?

    I have, and the results vary widely and depend on my mood.

    Blacks have lower overall scores, not becuase they’re dumber, but because they have less patience than whites and TEND to become more flustered when the answers to IQ test questions are not immediately forthcomming.

    Individuals, no matter their skin colour, who are more impatient and irascible always score lower on IQ tests, and this, even if they’re highly intelligent.

    IQ tests measure not just intelligence, they also, and quite inadvertently, measure patience, perseverence, self-controle and discipline, qualities poverty-sricken, ghetto-raised children tend to be short of.

  68. ChrisC — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:34 pm  

    Sofia – of course I agree with you.
    But Watson’s point is I assume of the “bell curve” kind i.e. that the average is lower while there is still (obviously) wide variation.
    So it is undeniable that the average quality of African governance is poor, even if some are better than others.
    And I guess that many would put the RSA towards the top of the list depite the beetroot loving health minister!

  69. Morgoth — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:36 pm  

    Sorry, Soso, I have to dissent from what you said completely.

    IQ tests measure nothing else than…the ability to do IQ tests. Frankly, using IQ tests as a measure of anything is like taking skulls measurements as a measure of intelligence.

    P.S. I originally come from Northern Ireland. I’m sure quite of a lot of folks there can tell these “blacks” of yours a thing or two about patience (or lack thereof)….

  70. Sid — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:40 pm  

    Soso mediocre.

  71. Tom Maguire — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:45 pm  

    Americans have been keen to prove Watson’s assertion for some years.

    Keen to “prove” it? Nonsense – almost all American researchers in the relevant fields would be thrilled (and set for life) if they could *DISPROVE* it.

    If I had to guess, I would say that Americans’ interest in the topic is tied in to our history of slavery and current attempts (as with affirmative action) to put our society on a better track.

    Let me weave this together with an excerpt from the NY Times Magazine on these topics:

    Other recent studies have looked at intelligence testing. There have long been two uncomfortable facts in this area: Intelligence, indisputably, is in part genetic; and every intelligence test shows a gap between black Americans and others. For a long time, scientific research wasn’t very good at explaining this gap. But it has gotten better lately. For one thing, the gap between white and black adults has narrowed significantly since 1970, according to work by the noted researchers William Dickens and James Flynn. Four decades is too short a time period for the gene pool to change, but it’s not too short for environment to improve. Most intriguing, Roland Fryer and Steven D. Levitt, two economists (the latter is one of this magazine’s Freakonomics columnists), have found there to be essentially no gap between 1-year-old white and black children of the same socioeconomic status.

    There are still vigorous debates about all this work — intelligence tests of 1-year-olds are iffy, for instance — but it points in one direction. Innate intelligence may be partly genetic, but it doesn’t seem to vary by race.

    Uhh, it “doesn’t seem to vary by race”? Based on his initial assertion that “every intelligence test shows a gap between black Americans and others”, as a casual observer I would say that his concluding assertion is not exactly convincingly demonstrated.

    However, every right-thinking person certainly hopes that there is no variability by race; putting some science behind that faith-based initiative is the goal of most researchers in the US, and is the hope of most people providing research grants. Everyone knows the “right” answer, and everyone knows what would happen to anyone advocating the wrong answer.

  72. Soso — on 18th October, 2007 at 5:50 pm  

    IQ tests measure nothing else than…the ability to do IQ tests. Frankly, using IQ tests as a measure of anything is like taking skulls measurements as a measure of intelligence

    That’s not a dissenting opinion, Mr get-your-rosaries-off-my-ovaries-Morgoth; that’s basically what I said!

    I’ve done a number of on-line IQ tests just out of curiosity, and the results varied widely depending on my mood, my degree of fatigue and even the time of day.

    So they’re hardly reliable, are they?

  73. Mike M — on 18th October, 2007 at 7:02 pm  

    Saying that one race is more impatient than another race will not help disprove Watson. You are implicitly agreeing with him in the point that these races have different traits.

    I am white and I have several black friends. Not the “I work with them down the hall” friends, but true, come over with the family and do things friends. I know a lot of white people that are much less intelligent that the average black person and yes, I know some black people that are under the average intelligence of average white people. The problem is to stereotype all people of a given race, gender, whatever based on the evidence of a few.

  74. Soothsayer — on 18th October, 2007 at 7:05 pm  

    The “intelligence” that humans have acquired since becoming homo sapiens-sapiens about 180,000 years ago must have developed as an adaptive response to the challenge of their environments. But all that was required was the brain power to lead a nomadic life hunting and cave painting to show the animals they hunted. Any “intelligence” above that threshold would have been redundant and non-adaptive.

    That kind of life went for 99% of human existence everywhere humans migrated to–so why would there be any group differences in native intelligence among humans–given that the conditions to adapt involved mainly hunting animals and escaping from them?

  75. Mike M — on 18th October, 2007 at 7:14 pm  

    Changes between cultures can happen more quickly based on environmental differences as opposed to Darwinistic evolutionary change.(random mutation, survival of the fittest, etc.) Suppose a particular plant produced a particular enzyme that helped/hurt a culture in some region of the world. After a few generations, this could have affected the culture as a whole in a much smaller time-frame.

  76. Ravi Naik — on 18th October, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    “Keen to “prove” it? Nonsense – almost all American researchers in the relevant fields would be thrilled (and set for life) if they could *DISPROVE* it.”

    You have it all backwards. All this work on racial “science” has been discredited on many fronts by many people. Do read this article.

    “Uhh, it “doesn’t seem to vary by race”? Based on his initial assertion that “every intelligence test shows a gap between black Americans and others”, as a casual observer I would say that his concluding assertion is not exactly convincingly demonstrated.”

    But IQ tests have demonstrated that they are sensible to the socio-economical class that you belong to. In fact, what seems to matter is how educated your parents are. Educated parents are more keen to nurture their kids, and this results in better development of the brain from early on up to college. The fact is that a lot of blacks in the US grow up with single mothers, who need to work, and most don’t go to college. How do you think these kids will fare against whites and asians whose parents are educated and with a high-income?

    Here is another article with several studies which point to the fact that black/white IQ gap is largely environmental.

  77. Penny — on 19th October, 2007 at 2:43 am  

    When Nobel laureates in all sorts of areas chime in about global warming, we are supposed to listen respectfully.
    When a Nobel laureate who worked out DNA speaks about hereditary differences, we are supposed to scorn him.

    How fortunate that we have such accomplished scientists posting here to straighten him out.

  78. Tom Novak — on 19th October, 2007 at 4:17 am  

    I don’t mean to seem a racist as well, but, how can you say that his remarks are unfounded when real results point to quite the opposite? If hair color, eye shape, succeptibility to malaria, etc, are all genetically linked to certain races, why is intelligence not as well? We hold the brain on a higher pedestal than we should.

    I’m not promoting racism, as Watson said there are great people of color, but we shouldn’t deny science and social norms in the name of tyranny known as political correctness.

    I’m sick of hearing the whole cross cultural thing on IQ and SATs. Then what, pray tell is intelligence and how can one tell it? There are certain things in society we must be expected to know and those tests (ISTEP, ACT, etc) help measure it. If you do poorly on math, it’s not because you have cultural differences, it’s because you lack the motivation or intelligence. No more excuses, people. He speaks a valid point, and too many people are too afraid, blind, or scared to agree.

  79. Roger Hicks — on 19th October, 2007 at 5:34 am  

    I liked and agree with Kulvinder’s first post.

    Perhaps what we attempt to define as “intelligence” (or cognitive ability) does vary between human populations (i.e. races), and perhaps Africans are not as well adapted (on average) in this respect to free-market capitalism as Europeans and Asians (who often seem to be better adapted to it than its European originators) are. Why not?

    Perhaps low “achievement” in people of African descent can be explained by them competing in and being measured (and measuring themselves) in a socio-economic context not as well suited to themselves as it is to its European creators.

    Perhaps, left to themselves, Africans would create a far more just, humane and SUSTAINABLE society than Europeans have, and which Asians (fatefully for our planet) are proving so good at emulating.

  80. Unity — on 19th October, 2007 at 10:36 am  

    Morgoth:

    I think you’re not quite grasping what I’m saying here.

    First, when we talk about finding a genetic basis for intelligence then what we’re dealing with, at best, are complex questions of potentiality within the various cerebral systems that contribute to the development of intelligence.

    There is no single intelligence gene or single area of the brain that is responsible for intelligence, rather we’re dealing with complex interactions between multiple systems; systems in which there is scope and potential for genetic variation. Group A may carry genetic markers that confer an advantage, in terms of potential, in – say – neurolinguistic processing over Group B. Group B, in turn, may have an edge in terms of spatial processing, while Group C might get the edge in terms of greater potential within the systems dealing with memory. That’s all perfectly possible and within the context of evolutionary theory there is – as Watson pointed out – no reason to suppose that that is not actually the case, hence the need to investigate this area properly.

    While your correct in suggesting that natural selection is a fairly negligible factor today, due to the rise of civilisation, this is only a very recent innovation and certainly doesn’t preclude the possibility of genetic adaptations to environmental factors having arisen relatively recently in human history.

    Genetic drift, however, is rather different matter because, within small ‘closed’ populations genetic variations can still arise and become fixed relatively quickly when dealing with relatively small ‘isolated’ populations and isolation is not necessarily a function simple of geography and physical proximity. Cultural injunctions against marrying outside the group can be just as effective as physical barriers if not more so.

    From what we understand about genetic drift, and especially from the Galton-Watson formula (different Watson) there are two likely scenarios.

    One is that the genetic factors the contribute to intelligence arose relatively early in human evolution and are, by now, near ubiquitous across the human genome, in which case notions of linking intelligence to racial characteristics is a nonsense by way of uniformity.

    The other is that the genetic picture of factors influencing the potential for intelligence is extremely complex, far more so than any crude notions of race to the extent that generic terms such as Black, White, African, Asian, Caucasian, Mongoloid, etc. are effectively meaningless – and crude notions linking race and intelligence again become nonsensical, not to mention that we also have to radically re-think the whole concept of intelligence and accept that it too cannot be treated in a generic sense.

    We’re either much more uniform in our genetic inheritance than racial theories suggest, or much more diverse; and either outcome fundamentally devalues the concept of race to the point of irrelevance as anything other than an artificial socio-political construct, which is actually what I consider it to be.

  81. douglas clark — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:05 am  
  82. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:09 am  

    “When a Nobel laureate who worked out DNA speaks about hereditary differences, we are supposed to scorn him.”

    You make it sound like we are scorning him for pure political reasons, and that there is no scientific basis to criticise him. Like for instance, the fact that his comments are based on dodgy work by a few psycologists funded by a neo-nazi group (Pioneer fund) and which has been discredited by several scientists, and the fact that he did not provide any evidence from a genetical or biological perspective.

    “I’m sick of hearing the whole cross cultural thing on IQ and SATs. Then what, pray tell is intelligence and how can one tell it? There are certain things in society we must be expected to know and those tests (ISTEP, ACT, etc) help measure it. If you do poorly on math, it’s not because you have cultural differences, it’s because you lack the motivation or intelligence.”

    What Rohin has said, and I totally agree, is that racial “science” is too simplistic to capture something as complex as intelligence and the diversity that exists in each race.

    Because of that, what we observe contradicts the work of all these people, who have come out to say that men have a higher IQ than women, or that blacks are less intelligent than whites.

    Then, why black girls in Britain do do better than white British boys in their GCSE exams? It all points to the environment and socio-economical status, not race – look at how Indians do better than Pakistanis/Bangladeshis, even if they belong to the same race.

    You will see a different picture from country to country. When you add all this up, you understand why their work on “racial science” is only good for feeding the minds of ingnorant racist trolls.

  83. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    It all points to the environment and socio-economical status, not race – look at how Indians do better than Pakistanis/Bangladeshis, even if they belong to the same race.

    It’s coz Indians are the house niggers but we Muslms be doing it the field for the Man. ;-)

  84. Morgoth — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:24 am  

    Do you have to use such language, Sid? Never mind someone black finding it offensive, *I* find it offensive…

  85. Jai — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:27 am  

    Race + genetics = Where is my main man Razib from SM when you need him ?…..I’m sure he’d have a few interesting things to say on this topic.

    Speaking of Razib — Sid babu, your wisecracks on various threads are making you sound increasingly like him these days ;)

    I mean that in a positive way — and incidentally, you’re both of Bangladeshi origin too. Must be the Bangladeshi gangsta-humour gene.

  86. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:38 am  

    Morgoth – You’re a humourless, selective racist. And your offence-taking completely meaningless from someone who agrees with deporting people and rounding them into concentration camps as per Daniel Pipes. So fuck off.

    Jai – I like Razib, he’s clever.

  87. Morgoth — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:47 am  

    Sid, you’re a moronic brain-dead troll who thinks screaming “racist!” at everyone is a subsitute for an argument. So kindly go fuck yourself as well, if it isn’t haram of course, you mentally-ill theist.

  88. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:50 am  

    not everyone dickhead, just you. just you.

  89. Morgoth — on 19th October, 2007 at 11:57 am  

    As I said, you’re a brain-dead fool.

  90. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:00 pm  

    Sid:

    You have called me racist more than once. And Morgoth is right- your language is sometimes appalling. I think that you are an excellent commentator most of the time, and wish you would stick to arguments rather than insults.

  91. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:02 pm  

    Rumbold you’re a cheesy reactionary at the best of times. And if this was 200 years ago, you and Morgoth would be arguing for the retainment of slavery.

  92. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    Sid:

    “Rumbold you’re a cheesy reactionary at the best of times.”

    I suppose that I am pro-cheddar, but also like mozarella.

    “And if this was 200 years ago, you and Morgoth would be arguing for the retainment of slavery.”

    Actually, I suspect you would be the most likely candidate for that particular candidate. As I said before, your writing is good and I enjoy debating with you most of the time. Why the need for insults? You are better than that.

  93. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    *most likely candidate for that particular role*

  94. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

    Rumbold, given you’re record for muddle-brained hidebound reactionary politics such as splitting Afghanistan into 2/3 federal states based on some dubious regional difference and the shoddy confused ethics behind liberal interventionsism (which you see as some kind of utopian panacea), I’m pretty sure you’d argue that slavery would be good for the soul of slaves.

  95. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:12 pm  

    *200 years ago, that is…

  96. Sofia — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:16 pm  

    calm down…ay

  97. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    Sid:

    “Rumbold, given you’re record for muddle-brained hidebound reactionary politics such as splitting Afghanistan into 2/3 federal states based on some dubious regional difference and the shoddy confused ethics behind liberal interventionsism (which you see as some kind of utopian panacea), I’m pretty sure you’d argue that slavery would be good for the soul of slaves.”

    I said that I had changed my mind on the whole Afghanistan plan remember? Just because I agree with the theory of liberal interventionism does not mean that I think it is perfect (just as there are some policies that you support which you do not think are perfect). Interesting to read that supporting liberalism interventionism means that one is in favour of slavery.

  98. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    sorry…It’s lunchtime and Morgoth makes me hurl…

  99. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

    Sid:

    So Sunny, who also supports liberal interventionism, in in favour of slavery? Interesting. As is, apparently, the founder of Medicine Sans Frontiers, Nelson Mandela and a host of others. All pro-slavery. Wow.

  100. Jai — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

    Jai – I like Razib, he’s clever.

    Yeah he’s a great guy all-round. Very smart and extremely funny too. And a good bloke in general (ie. not the “nasty smart/funny” type).

    ******************************************

    Everyone, just chill. This is degenerating into an unnecessary slanging match, and is exactly what happens when someone relatively new turns up and starts hurling off-topic insults referring to “stinking theists” and so on, which just creates a toxic environment as other people pile in.

    It doesn’t elevate the discourse so just pull back. Sid is a decent guy, so is Rumbold, and although there are obviously differences of opinion in certain topics, you guys are both on the “same side” in terms of being fundamentally decent people.

  101. Rumbold — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:24 pm  

    Jai:

    “Sid is a decent guy, so is Rumbold, and although there are obviously differences of opinion in certain topics, you guys are both on the “same side” in terms of being fundamentally decent people.”

    That is very kind of you Jai, and you are right. I will shut up now.

  102. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:26 pm  

    i feel reprimanded and i like it ;-)

  103. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:34 pm  

    “Everyone, just chill. This is degenerating into an unnecessary slanging match, and is exactly what happens when someone relatively new turns up and starts hurling off-topic insults”

    Jai, if you really want everyone to shut up, don’t blame it all on the new guy. Let’s all agree that no one likes to be called a racist or to support slavery. :)

  104. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    yeah, i admit the racism reference and the slavery line is abstract if you’ve never seen Morgoth’s in actio as the troll du jure at Harry’s Place or regard liberal intervention as a sexy word for colonisation 21st century stylee, respectively.

  105. Sofia — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    I must say a few ppl annoy me on this…not because of their views..but because of their arrogance. Morgoth being one..if he calls ppl stinking theists where’s the humility in that. Morgoth, I’m sure if you were sitting in front of those theists you wouldn’t be so rude..ditto some of the rest…(me included if i’ve ever said anything rude to anyone)..

  106. Morgoth — on 19th October, 2007 at 12:56 pm  

    As a certain Anton LaVey said, humility is a weakness, Sofia.

  107. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    Sid, I don’t know about Morgoth’s history, but he has given decent contributions to this talk in #31 and #44. Even if you don’t agree with his views, it feels like he is writing in good faith. Apart from his flamebait in #83, I don’t think you handled that one very well in #85. If you accuse him of racism or supporting slavery 200 years ago, then you probably should back it up, otherwise such insults become meaningless. Not saying you are wrong, but I have also been called a racist as well (not by you) by decent people in Pickled Politics.

  108. Sofia — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:08 pm  

    Morgoth if that’s what you want to believe in that’s up to you…for my part, humility could teach me not to be a bitch or make an arse of myself. It does not make me meek, or an apologist..but helps me to try (and yes sometimes it’s hard) to see things from someone else’s point of view.
    You still annoy the crap out of me though…and I still don’t agree with what you say.

  109. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:25 pm  

    Ravi,

    There’s a definite urge – don’t you have it? – to say, Morgoth will have to suffer until he gets his house in order. What sort of suffering? Not letting him travel. Deportation – further down the road. Curtailing his freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re Goths or from Somerset … Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.”

  110. Morgoth — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:27 pm  

    There would be if I was the one blowing people up, Sid.

    But I’m not, no matter how much the idea of pebbledashed Sid appeals to me. I’m content with writing letters and meeting people instead.

  111. Sid — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:28 pm  

    kapow!

  112. David — on 19th October, 2007 at 1:36 pm  

    ChrisC,

    from your sideswipes at the EU and touching faith in the abstract power of free trade it’s easy to see where you’re coming from. Though I would point out that the EU is first and formeost a free-trade area and that progress towards global free trade through the WTO is accelerated by the EU having a single negotiating voice.

    I’m going to assume that you believe fervently in liberty so would be natural supporter of the Science Museum exercising its free choice to cancel an invitation it had freely made – probably on the grounds of the lack of courtesy of their guest. There is no banning or cencorship involved, afterall Watson has made his views known and we are all debating them.

    His views on evolution and intelligence may or may not be reasonable, but saying:

    “he hoped that everyone was equal, but countered that “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”

    is just bigotry pure and simple.

    By the way, he’s not the only one with an unrealistic idea of the speed of evolution on intelligence, behaviour and/or personality traits. Try this guy for size:

    http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article2280334.ece

    apparently a couple hundred years is all it takes to become a super-race…

  113. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    “There would be if I was the one blowing people up, Sid.”

    Don’t be silly, Morgoth. If you were the one blowing people up, you wouldn’t be in a position to be profiled or discriminated afterwards.

    But don’t you empathise with people who cannot travel, who are harrassed in airports, or falsely imprisonned because they happen to be brown, share a terrorist name, or follow the same religion – and do the same things you do, like write letters and meet people?

  114. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 3:22 pm  

    By the way, I found something else from James Watson. Apparently, he gave a lecture where he claimed that dark skinned people have larger libido than light skinned people. That is, melanin is responsible for making you very horny. He actually said that if you want to get a surge in libido, just get some sun. Surprisingly, his research was dismissed as unreliable and flawed.

  115. Sofia — on 19th October, 2007 at 3:31 pm  

    well Ravi..there is that old and very wise saying
    “Sun, sex and sangria”

  116. douglas clark — on 19th October, 2007 at 3:32 pm  

    Ravi Naik @ 113,

    Now, that is something worth spending research money on! Bugger this sterile nonsense about brains. I say this as a paleface with an enormous IQ and no alpha male status whatsoever.

    I think I’ll do my own research, where’s that travel brochure…..

  117. Ravi Naik — on 19th October, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    “well Ravi..there is that old and very wise saying
    “Sun, sex and sangria”

    It’s wise because it is in the right order. :)

  118. sahil — on 19th October, 2007 at 4:36 pm  

    For those who still think that James Watson has scientific evidence backing his assertion, check these links:

    http://www.newscientist.com/blog/shortsharpscience/2007/10/james-watson-master-of-scientific-gaffe.html

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2694632.ece

    “At a book launch at the Royal Society, Dr Watson said: “To all those who have drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly.

    “That is not what I meant. More importantly, there is no scientific basis for such a belief.”

    He went on: “I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said. I can certainly understand why people reading those words have reacted in the ways they have.” “

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