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The Tyranny of Determinism

The Atlanta school district cheating scandal. What is one to say about it? Well, I could say a lot, some of it no doubt sufficiently offensive. Let me try this: What we have here are a bunch of teachers organized, sometimes by threats and sometimes willingly, into a vast cheating network. Their goal is to take advantage of the do-gooders who have set up achievement goals for children and tied to those goals at least accolades for the leaders of the district and, presumably, state and/or federal education money. The do-gooders, in turn, are well-meaning and motivated by the assumption that if only you provide enough carrot or stick to the teachers, they can make the children really succeed and really learn. Instead, the teachers cheated.

The elephant in the room is the racial aspect to all of this. So let me mention that elephant in the following way: Suppose for the sake of the argument that there are no biologically innate differences, even at a statistical level, between blacks and whites. Suppose that all differences in achievement can be put down to environment, or perhaps it would be more enlightening to call it culture. What follows? Does it follow that if only we get hold of the children and get them into Head-Start early, flog and bribe their teachers with achievement test goals, and otherwise engage in manic levels of activity, we can make those children actually learn and do well on tests of knowledge? Actually, it doesn't. Does it follow that people whose children do better educationally and who happen to be white should feel guilty over the underachievement of children in Atlanta public schools? No, it doesn't. Does it follow that educators in normally low-scoring districts are to be trusted not to cheat if provided with incentives? Certainly, it doesn't. Therefore, even from an assumption of complete innate biological sameness across races, it does not follow that No Child Left Behind and similar and related plots and plans to Do Something, pour money in, put the pressure on, somehow, somehow, Do Something about children in these schools, are good policy. At all.

And all of this has something to do with human freedom. It is human freedom that creates inner city culture. It is human freedom by means of which parents choose to neglect their children, to give them drug dealers for heroes, to teach them that lying is fine, that "the system" is their enemy, and that they are entitled to whatever they can get. It is human freedom that gives us fatherless children. It is human freedom that allows children to taunt one another for learning, to make school hell, to make it impossible for other children to learn.

And it is human freedom that translates the criminal culture to the ostensibly respectable class of educators and turns the Atlanta education establishment into a thugocracy.

If we really believe in human freedom, we won't believe that we have to Do Something about every mess in the world. Will we feel sorry for the children? Yes. Some of them might well have done much better in an entirely different culture, raised by entirely different parents, surrounded by entirely different classmates. But it would be impossible to provide that and in most cases wrong even to attempt to provide that.

If we believe in human freedom, we will be released from the tyranny of determinism and released from the compulsion to go around doing well-intentioned but often, if not usually, disastrous things to try to ameliorate all societal problems, close all gaps, and make all outcomes turn out roughly the same.

Comments (274)

What follows? Does it follow that if only we get hold of the children and get them into Head-Start early [...] we can make those children actually learn and do well on tests of knowledge? Actually, it doesn't.
But it neither follows that there won't be a higher probability of better performances.
Does it follow that people whose children do better educationally and who happen to be white should feel guilty over the underachievement of children in Atlanta public schools? No, it doesn't.
But it neither follows that they shouldn't be concerned and try their best to help neglected children.
Does it follow that educators in normally low-scoring districts are to be trusted not to cheat if provided with incentives? Certainly, it doesn't.
But it neither follows that it is a good example of enumerative induction to conclude from one deplorable example to a general climate of cheating at public schoools.

What about your beloved analytic philosophy and its high standards of reasoning?
No serious advocate of the No Children Left Behind programme ever claimed that there is an automatism between providing incentives and performances. It also absurd to claim, that there could be no improvement unless children live in an entire different culture with entirely different parents who raise them. Sometimes access to a modern school library may be enough to change a whole life.

But it neither follows that it is a good example of enumerative induction to conclude from one deplorable example to a general climate of cheating at public schoools.

Grobi, when I first heard of the NCLB concept (and remember, that particular program was proposed by a Republican and was a centerpiece of his presidential campaign), the first thing that popped into my mind was, "But this provides obvious incentives to lower standards so they can say that more children are passing." That popped into my mind _immediately_. Mind you, I wasn't thinking of cheating per se. I was thinking of dumbing down. But that's true as well. And that is based not simply on the Atlanta case (which, of course, I didn't know of at the time--this was in 2000) but on repeated evidence of the way that these sorts of perverse incentives work in education. Case in point: A town here in my state has provided an endowment to guarantee all children who graduate from the public schools tuition to a local college. Near-immediate effect: College lowers its admission standards. This sort of thing happens _all the time_.

Sometimes access to a modern school library may be enough to change a whole life.

But more often, not. It's not as though this kind of thing hasn't been tried. It has been, again and again.

Lydia,

I hate to find myself partially agreeing with Grobi, but I read your post and while I thought it wise, I also thought it was a bit too sweeping in his condemnation of "Doing Something". After all, sometimes the folks who want to "Do Something" are motivated out of Christian charity and want to help folks on their own, without getting the government involved. They may also find their efforts fail or fall short of what they hoped to achieve, but again, from the standpoint of Christian charity, that doesn't mean they should try.

I do read your post as an important paean to modest goals* when it comes to the desire to help people. In Catholic thought we are big on the idea of subsidiarity and I think the move away over the years from federalism in the U.S. confirms the wisdom of wanting to keep the effort to tackle problems local -- when you 'federalize' problems and solutions it tends to be a disaster.

*I also think those goals should work in concert with human freedom, which is why I think you and I seem to be so friendly to market-based solutions to public policy programs. For example, I'm a big supporter of school choice and vouchers in education not because I think they will magically "close the gap" or transform inner-city learning, but because I think they will help those parents and children who have what it takes to succeed and are now trapped in disfunctional school systems.

I think 'Do Something' was capitalized for a reason. The target is not a random commoner who decides to help tutor a black kid or something, it is the technocrats and their Big Idea for the Improvement of Mankind. These people have been meddling for at least 50 years now and it has only made everything worse across the board. Enough already.

One anecdote: in one school district where we homeschooled a child, we had to subject him to standardized tests. I wanted to do the Iowa (nationally normed) with a homeschool group in another district, but no, our district demanded that he do the state test. Fine. But what I'd learned, and why I wanted him to do the Iowa, was this: the year previous to our entrance to that district had seen a huge upswing in standardized test scores across the state -- because they stopped giving the Iowa and started giving only the state-written and state-normed test. Of course the scores rose; they made the test easier and normed it solely against the rest of the state, which is one of the four worst in the nation for education. And yes, this occurred right after NCLB was put into effect. Amazing how much smarter the entire state became in one year.

Lydia, I appreciate your clarification.
Whether a certain programm works, is, of course, an empirical question. And, if there is, after many years of trying, no evidence that it works, it should be abandoned. I think we will easily agree on that. Your post, however, seems to recommend a kind of fatalism I find puzzling (for roughly the same reasons as given by Jeff).

One thing that I think you missed is that the cheaters were cheating with good intentions (at least partially). They wanted to get more funding to educate their children, which is an honorable motive (although it may be coupled to raises and more selfish rewards). They saw what the standards were, they knew from experience what they could do for their students without cheating, and they cheated. This suggests that the real disconnect is between the writers of the standards and the teachers in the classrooms, who apparently have two different opinions on what the students can be practically taught.

Jay, anyone who cheats like this to get more money "for the children" is a morally corrupt person. That's positively an _image_ of the maxim, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." And how about the higher-ups who threatened teachers with being fired if they didn't cheat? Did they have "good intentions" too? Well, maybe so. If so, how horrifying: Good intentions will turn you into an extortionate thug who threatens other people to force them to join you in lying and cheating!

This suggests that the real disconnect is between the writers of the standards and the teachers in the classrooms, who apparently have two different opinions on what the students can be practically taught.

I don't know what was on the test, but I doubt that the problem was that the test was in some objective sense "too hard." If it was "impractical" to teach the children the material, that may well be because of things like chaos in the classroom, etc., that were not being addressed. Or it may simply be--perhaps because of inner-city culture--that we need to be willing to accept that some areas will have lower outcomes than others. If so, let's please do that. Let's not say, "Oh, let's keep making the test easier and easier until we get down to whatever we can 'realistically teach' to all children." Children are different, and sometimes regions are different. It's important at some point to be able to accept that.

Matt has understood my point quite well.

A few words about private and charitable efforts:

1) Realism about outcomes. Don't break your heart expecting to change the world. And expect that your heart will probably be broken at least a number of times by "losing" individuals in whom you've invested yourself. That may well still be worth doing, but no illusions.

2) Realism about safety. This is pretty important. If someone is going to go spend a lot of time in a dangerous inner-city neighborhood, he should either be single or else should have a frank talk with his wife about what he is risking. He should decide what risks he is willing to take with his personal safety--will he be there late at night, etc.--and draw some lines as to how far he is willing to go, especially if he has a family dependent on him.

And--I say this at the risk of offending--it's probably not good to risk your entire family. Part of the whole guilt problem we have coming from a particular ideology is the idea that white families are _wrong_ to live in nicer neighborhoods, safer neighborhoods, etc., and can only expiate that guilt by reversing "white flight" and moving back into neighborhoods where they themselves are in the minority. I would say about this: You have no obligation to risk the safety of your entire family in an attempt to do good, and you probably have an obligation not to do so.

3) Realism about ideology even of private groups. If you are doing what you are doing with some organization, it's entirely plausible that the organization will have a highly idealistic attitude riddled with a sense of obligation based on guilt. If you just want to join them and let this roll off your back, okay. But consider perhaps not encouraging your idealistic high school or college age child to join such a group, as he may well be indoctrinated in empirical falsehoods and moral falsehoods as well and come back despising everybody who isn't part of the group.

Lydia's question,

Suppose that all differences in achievement can be put down to environment, or perhaps it would be more enlightening to call it culture. What follows?

is answered by Michael Levin in Why Race Matters. That book is a very uneven mix, but his discussion of that question is excellent. Levin argues at length that what follows is a moral responsibility to rectify the wrongs caused by culture (assuming it's American and not African culture you're talking about), or at least to make a strong effort to do so. But Levin also argues that the environmentalist hypothesis is probably false, so there is no such moral responsibility.

Elsewhere in the book Levin argues against the standard libertarian extreme-free-will argument that Lydia seems to be making. That version of free will, that the only person responsible for an act is the actor, seems kind of 18th-century simplistic to me, but maybe I just don't understand it. Do many philosophers believe it today?

The claim that it doesn't follow that plans to Do Something are good policy has been argued extensively by Amy Wax, who I think is a liberal. I haven't read her book, but I think she argues by analogy to private law. If you're liable for an injury to someone, say a broken leg, then you've got to try to make good the damage. But if you've done all you can do and the injured person, for whatever reason, won't participate in physical therapy, etc., then at some point you're off the hook, even though you were responsible for the injury in the first place. So Wax is explicitly assuming that black underachievement may ultimately be caused by slavery, racism, etc., but she still reaches the same conclusion as Lydia.

The elephant in the room is the racial aspect to all of this. So let me mention that elephant in the following way: Suppose for the sake of the argument that there are no biologically innate differences, even at a statistical level, between blacks and whites. Suppose that all differences in achievement can be put down to environment, or perhaps it would be more enlightening to call it culture. What follows? Does it follow that if only we get hold of the children and get them into Head-Start early, flog and bribe their teachers with achievement test goals, and otherwise engage in manic levels of activity, we can make those children actually learn and do well on tests of knowledge?

Leftists don't mess with education in efforts to get blacks to learn more. They do it to equalize blacks with whites. That is what they care about at their core, dumbing down whites and lifting up (artificially if necessary) blacks. To the left, the efforts of the Atlanta school system do not constitute a failure. To them they were a great success; blacks and whites became more equal, if only on paper.

Is it tyranny to state that we know, deterministically, that blacks and whites, on average, will never perform to anything close to the same levels academically? I don't think appeals to human freedom mean anything to leftists or consistent liberals. They don't care about freedom, they care about equality and ultimately, supremacy of the non-white or non-Westerner. If we're going to win the battle of education I think it is to the concept of equality at which the right must focus its attacks.

Levin argues at length that what follows is a moral responsibility to rectify the wrongs caused by culture (assuming it's American and not African culture you're talking about), or at least to make a strong effort to do so. But Levin also argues that the environmentalist hypothesis is probably false, so there is no such moral responsibility.

Aaron, I think we should be very skeptical about the extent to which we _can_ do that. Suppose that I'm right, it might be folly to try. For example, suppose that it is true that somehow some actions by white people in the past are a significant cause of the mess that is inner-city culture today. It may still be the case--and I think is the case--that government and probably not even private efforts to go in there and change things will not _work_. The culture is something in which the people are _now_ active participants, and you can't just change it from the outside by sheer goodwill and hard effort. In that sense, the etiology of that cultural mess may not matter. You may be able to help a few individuals, and I don't say that's not worth doing (under the realistic caveats already mentioned). But the culture itself may not change until and unless a critical mass of the people within it will it to change, and that may be never and may be something that people trying to help cannot, in fact, significantly influence.

Here I am applying to the inner-city culture something a bit like what I believe Murray is said to have said about students and college admissions. As Dinesh D'Souza told the story, D'Souza would suggest to Murray that there should be affirmative action for students of any race based on their socioeconomic background, with poor test results and so forth to some extent "excused" or over-ridden by a background of poverty. The standard idea of giving the kid another chance. Murray (I'm pretty sure it was Murray) told D'Souza that by the time they are entering college, it *doesn't matter* how they came to have such a poor preparation for college, whether it's environmental or innate, because by that time it's too late to make them good college material anyway.

Now, at the cultural level, it may be that we can't just say, "Oh, people like us from umpteen years ago are to blame for the mess this culture is in. Therefore, the rest of us somehow inherit an obligation [and that's morally questionable as well, if we were not individually involved in the evils done before and repudiate them] to try to fix the culture." What if "we" have not been given the _power_ to fix the culture?

This, I believe, is related to what Thomas Sowell calls the Tragic Vision as opposed to the Vision of the Anointed.

I don't think appeals to human freedom mean anything to leftists or consistent liberals.

Probably true, Andrew. But there are still people who fall into intermediate categories and of whom that isn't true, people who might be relieved of their Fix-It Syndrome by reflecting that ultimately, people are responsible for what they teach their children, etc., and that we may not be able to Fix-It by sheer good will and hard work.

One thing that I think you missed is that the cheaters were cheating with good intentions

The first imperative of the natural law is "do good and avoid evil." One may not do evil so that good may result.

The Tyranny of Determinism

I think, in discussions such as this, it becomes quite tempting to sweep with too broad a brush. America is a strangely and increasingly individualist country: either we make it for ourselves we expect the government to make it for us. We have only a loose semblance of society in most places and but few vestiges now of culture. The people who set out to "do something" almost (but not always) come from a bureaucracy armed with the sort of determinism Lydia rightfully denounces.

But, of course, that's not the whole story of doing somethingness. Nor is Matt's example of the lone do-gooder (American individualism with a charitable twinge.) There is, instead, the manner in which the vast majority of humans have lived and solved problems for the vast majority of history: as part of a society. I by no means intend to invoke some Clinton-esque it-takes-a-village['s government] nonsense. Rather, I point to the fact that when people lived as members of identifiable, concentric societies (e.g. manor, village, parish, county, region, kingdom, with a few others interspersed), they recognized that their respective positions therein carried corresponding duties towards other members of those same communities.

Thus, people acted humanely towards each not because they thought they could erase all bad results by fiddling with the ingredients of the human condition, but rather because they knew they could not. But they did know that individuals and groups, especially those with power, wealth, and influence, could "do something" for others: the fact that the extent and value of the "something" might depend in part on the attitude and acts of the others was (and of course remains) simply unavoidable.

So not all doing something, even on a larger scale, is deterministic.

'They do it to equalize blacks with whites. That is what they care about at their core, dumbing down whites and lifting up (artificially if necessary) blacks.'

This comment terrifies me with its obvious racism and narrow-minded foolish hatred. This statement clearly implies to me that the poster believes white people to be inherently smarter based on genetics alone. Post your scientific proof - not anecdotal, scientific. If you want anyone in the wider world to take you seriously I suggest that you re-think this position. For the rest of the developed world, this belief went out with the Victorian era in England.

In terms of the larger argument in the article posted here, my fundamental problem with the 'live and let live' approach to educational reform is that having a large group of poor, uneducated and desperate people is a guarantee of skyrocketing crime levels and (even more) overcrowded prisons. This argument sounds attractive if you believe that things in our education system would have been better without government intervention...but I ask you, why would you believe that? Do you seriously think that leaving kids in slums to languish with no economic opportunity whatsoever is a good idea in terms of the future stability of our society? If you do believe this, I invite you to tour some of the poorest urban areas of inner-city Baltimore or D.C., for example, which look like bombed-out war zones. All of those people need to make a living somehow. If there is no effort whatsoever to impose educational standards, if we're just going to give up entirely on 'closing the gap', logically, what do you think the outcome will be?

Doing nothing may sound attractive from the standpoint of reducing your tax bill, but I doubt that it will seem like a great plan when one of the people growing up with no education and no job prospects to legitimately earn money decides to shoot you and take your wallet instead.

As a parting shot, it's hilarious to hear that some posters think liberals don't value freedom. Liberals have long been associated with counterculture in this country...where do you think that association comes from? Do you think that the Christian right values 'freedom' more? (sure, I guess if you take out freedom to marry whom you wish, sleep with whomever you like, etc...)

KC's comment above is a perfect example of the technocratic mind at work, and why it must be constantly opposed. Not necessarily with arguments, because there's usually no original thought present, but rather with scorn and perhaps a litany of the failures instituted at their direction. When does it end? According to them, never.

By all means: Let's consider inner-city Baltimore and DC. Government intervention has been tried and found wanting.

Titus, I see your point about individuals who are leaders in a community. But a) I don't think when that works best it's actually _very_ large-scale, more like the level of towns or perhaps cities. b) For it to work out one has to have a functioning culture and society in those places. Where there isn't one, or where the culture is totally messed up (like a virus perpetuating destructive attitudes and behaviors), I'm not at all sure how much leaders can do.

This comment terrifies me with its obvious racism and narrow-minded foolish hatred. This statement clearly implies to me that the poster believes white people to be inherently smarter based on genetics alone. Post your scientific proof - not anecdotal, scientific.

I don't engage mindless leftism. Research it yourself.

KC,

You say, "This statement clearly implies to me that the poster believes white people to be inherently smarter based on genetics alone." Sigh. Have you read any of the relevant literature on human biodiversity? Of course our racial differences aren't 100% genetic, but they aren't 100% environmental either. It is difficult, but not impossible to tease out the genetic and environmental factors -- for example we can control for income, two-parent families, etc. When we do that, we find that blacks consistently score lower than whites on tests that serve as proxies for intelligence (like the SAT). A great place to start reviewing the relevant literature is this paper by Linda Gottfredson:

http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/Gottfredson.pdf

Finally, this sentence was laugh out loud funny: "In terms of the larger argument in the article posted here, my fundamental problem with the 'live and let live' approach to educational reform is that having a large group of poor, uneducated and desperate people is a guarantee of skyrocketing crime levels and (even more) overcrowded prisons."

Right, because after 50+ years of "Doing Something", especially at the federal level and especially spending more money, has worked wonders for those "poor, uneducated and desperate people". I've got news for you -- we only had skyrocketing crime levels when we stopped treating crime and criminals seriously. Those people aren't desperate -- they are morally screwed up and as Lydia rightfully points out, all the government programs in the world won't change their situation (in a broad sense) until they have a moral awakening.

Titus,

I like your 12:00 PM comment, especially this bit:

Thus, people acted humanely towards each not because they thought they could erase all bad results by fiddling with the ingredients of the human condition, but rather because they knew they could not. But they did know that individuals and groups, especially those with power, wealth, and influence, could "do something" for others: the fact that the extent and value of the "something" might depend in part on the attitude and acts of the others was (and of course remains) simply unavoidable.

Lydia, your first paragraph in this comment sounds exactly like the argument Amy Wax is making. Anyone interested, but not interested enough to read her book, can check her out discussing/arguing it with a smart person here and with a dumb person here.

Aaron, that looks really interesting, especially the one with the smart person. :-)

Jeff Singer, one sad thing I do have to add: According to the article I linked in the m.p. about the cheating scandal, a lot of the cheating was in an attempt to meet goals set in some sort of Georgia state program. So I'm afraid even at the non-federal (state) level, well-intentioned programs can be a trainwreck.

Btw, all: I don't intend to denigrate efforts aimed at helping individuals. In fact, it's pretty much a theme of my life that _most_ of the good things that _most_ of us try to do will, at most, help a few individuals. And that's good. That's enough. That may get us, Lord willing, a "Well, done, good and faithful servant." In fact, the bigger the numbers of people we try to help, the bigger our "vision" gets, the more mistakes we seem likely to make.

Well I see the HNU automated respose program is working perfectly.

Titus, I see your point about individuals who are leaders in a community. But a) I don't think when that works best it's actually _very_ large-scale, more like the level of towns or perhaps cities. b) For it to work out one has to have a functioning culture and society in those places. Where there isn't one, or where the culture is totally messed up (like a virus perpetuating destructive attitudes and behaviors), I'm not at all sure how much leaders can do.

I didn't type the rest of the comment that I had thought of, about how the observation was of merely historical interest now because we don't live in, and have very little hope of recovering any time soon, any society or culture of that point. So I agree with your corollary.

KC seems to have stopped trolling, so I won't bother responding to most of what he said. However, it's obviously true that having a large, teeming underclass is not good for a society. One of the few things worse is probably having a teeming underclass that's not properly contained (maybe not very humane, but perhaps has less chance of things like regicide). I doubt very much that the W4 editors advocate simply pushing everyone below a certain educational, wealth, or moral threshold into a ghetto and leaving them to their well-isolated fate. As I thought I made relatively clear, there are options between "modern bureaucratic meddling" and (I honestly can't at the moment think of an ancien-regime society that was actually bad enough to put here). But the necessary prerequisites for those sorts of solutions to societal problems do not exist and cannot be recreated by artificial (i.e. governmental) means.

Government-run education, much like much of civil society as a whole, in this country is a disaster, an irretrievable, unimaginable disaster. There's no saving it. Step away from the fire, lest some burning spars fall and crush you. No, you can't go in to try and save your cat, or Uncle Maurice's pipe collection. Just walk away and get on with the business at hand. Someone has to do St. Benedict's work in the twenty-first century: we might as well get started.

There are beneficiaries, those with preference, influence and organization, and those who stand in as the stated reasons for the programs and public policies which the true beneficiaries manage and participate in.
The Atlanta story is about these two groups.
Not to belabor the point, but could it be possible that the parents and children might have a precedence over the organized and voting teachers? The question is rhetorical as all here can see.
Freedom which Lydia emphasizes, is subordinated to influence, influence to power, and that to an exculpatory set of enabling deceits. Self knowledge being an epistemological briar patch.
Wiser people in wiser times knew that perfection was a chimera, that limits were what it was to be human, that limits were self imposed.

Does it follow that people whose children do better educationally and who happen to be white should feel guilty over the underachievement of children in Atlanta public schools? No, it doesn't.

In the case of parents who oppose vouchers and charter schools, I'd say the answer is yes. Lydia, my only problem with your post is that you make no mention of the fact that because of the current paradigm, people buy homes in areas with "good schools," thereby introducing a whole can of worms. If they are fleeing some danger for their family they have nothing to feel bad about, as you say, but to the extent that they wish to maintain the status quo after they've bought in, I think they are wrong. In other words, once people have bought the home with the attached school they don't want anyone rocking the boat. I really don't think tying real estate to schools in such a rigid fashion is a good thing. I'm not saying you're doing that, but it is the elephant in the room.

but to the extent that they wish to maintain the status quo after they've bought in, I think they are wrong.

I don't quite follow this. What status quo are you imagining their trying to maintain, and how do they try to maintain it, and why is what they do to that end wrong?

I don't know of any parents qua parents who oppose vouchers and charter schools. People who question vouchers from a right-wing perspective (and I'm afraid I have to list myself among these) do so for prudential reasons, fearing the takeover of private schools by the government. I think this is a reasonable fear.

The only people I know of who oppose charter schools as opposed to non-charter public schools are outright ideologue liberals who don't like anybody's not being enthralled to the teacher's unions and state-wide curricula. I know of only one charter school with which I have a problem in principle--a Muslim charter school (in Minnesota, IIRC) that is self-evidently a madrasa being run with state funds. But that, obviously, is a separate issue.

Ah, I'm guessing now that I know what you're getting at, Mark. You're talking about parents (I haven't met them, but I can conjecture now that I think of it that they exist) who oppose vouchers as public policy because they are concerned that inner-city children will come to their suburban schools using the vouchers. Is this what you're saying?

Well, there, if I'm guessing correctly, I may have to disagree with you. Let's put it this way: Suppose that the suburban school is not allowed to look at even something like a behavioral record of the student and turn him down, that they have to take voucher students from wherever on a first-come, first-serve basis. No "discrimination," of course. Then in that case, I think it could well be reasonable for the parents to see cultural background as grounds for expecting increased behavioral problems and to be concerned about how the atmosphere may plausibly be damaged at the schools to which they are sending their children. Badly behaved students can sap resources, exhaust teachers, and make learning difficult to impossible for other children, as well as increasing direct physical danger to other children.

You say, "This statement clearly implies to me that the poster believes white people to be inherently smarter based on genetics alone." Sigh. Have you read any of the relevant literature on human biodiversity? Of course our racial differences aren't 100% genetic, but they aren't 100% environmental either. It is difficult, but not impossible to tease out the genetic and environmental factors -- for example we can control for income, two-parent families, etc. When we do that, we find that blacks consistently score lower than whites on tests that serve as proxies for intelligence (like the SAT). A great place to start reviewing the relevant literature is this paper by Linda Gottfredson:

Jeff, that definitely isn't a great place to start. The place to start is to educate oneself on what IQ theory is. You've bought into this notion, and it isn't clear to me the reason is free of some convoluted political calculations. I think IQ theory is false, and I have for many years. I think it false on the merits. IQ theory has several supporting components that don't pass the laugh test for me. Thomas Sowell's research on the matter is quite good and free from bias on this topic. If you want to see unbiased research you should start with him. Did you know he's a very reliable conservative? Why in the world people think conservatives must believe this stuff is beyond me.

Gottfredson's work has been "influential in shaping U.S. public and private policies regarding affirmative action, hiring quotas, and "race-norming" on aptitude tests" according to the wikipedia page. And she receives funds and grants to continue research from the Pioneer Fund, the group formed in the 30's "to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences." This was the era of Eugenics. If you think anything coming from her or funded by that group will say anything other than what she does you're dreaming. Much of the work referenced in the book "The Bell Curve" was also funded by the Pioneer Fund. It's junk science.

Now look, as Sowell points out (though his research was long before Murray's book, he reviewed it) there are all kinds of interesting and possibly valid inferences about education, race, and statistics. But proving or demonstrating the truth of IQ theory isn't one of them, and much depends on this for those invested in it like Gottfredson, and you. But as Sowell pointed out, those are separate from the so-called "science" bandied about with IQ. So I'm fine with valid inferences from valid statistical data from "The Bell Curve" or any other source. But I'm disappointed so many conservatives buy into the so-called science and philosophy that anchors some key thesis of the book.

So I wouldn't be quite so hard on KC, because quite frankly I find the buy-in from many conservatives to be disappointing and somewhat shocking too. So Jeff, I really don't think you should be scornfully giving anyone the "Sigh. Have you read . . ." treatment. Last time this subject came up you claimed to have studied the subject of IQ," but didn't elaborate or answer my questions.

It seems to me you want to believe IQ theory is true, and your reading about it seems pretty selective if what you are asking us to read is any indication.

Ah, I'm guessing now that I know what you're getting at, Mark. You're talking about parents (I haven't met them, but I can conjecture now that I think of it that they exist) who oppose vouchers as public policy because they are concerned that inner-city children will come to their suburban schools using the vouchers. Is this what you're saying?

Well, no I wasn't thinking of that. Behavior records and such are completely fair game as far as I'm concerned. I wasn't thinking of opposition of that sort. I was thinking of fear of home values declining and such making parents oppose vouchers. Wanting a system to stay the way it is because of when they hopped in was my only point. Of course, a much larger problem is that the Dems have a natural constituency in inner city kids. It is the Dems who vehemently oppose vouchers and such.

I think a better way to say it is that when parents they they have the good neighborhood and good school thing nailed down, they are resistant to accept things that might upset the apple cart. I'm only saying that schools shouldn't be so tightly coupled to real estate by regulations. I would favor the loose coupling of free association.

I doubt very much that the W4 editors advocate simply pushing everyone below a certain educational, wealth, or moral threshold into a ghetto and leaving them to their well-isolated fate.

Titus, I think that's right. There is always a certain amount of bleed-over from the groups that constitute the underclass: people who by free will decide to step away from their neighbors' and relatives' insistence on horrific cultural attachments, and make good. And, likewise, there are always some bleed-over from people raised in perfectly good homes with perfectly sound upbringing and opportunity, choosing to become lost souls out of free will. It would be dangerous if not positively immoral to try to control the classes to such an extent that no members of the underclass had any possible avenue of escape, precluding any form of free will achieving an improvement in circumstances. (The underclass groups here can be of any race, by the way. Just go to Russia and observe some of the most problematic groups.) Just yesterday I listened to a tale of a young lady - white - raised in a well off home, who has insisted in making one bad choice after another with alcohol, drugs, "friends" that beat her, lying and stealing and losing her jobs, and (now) getting pregnant by a 37-year old man who has 5 other children by 4 other women, and supports none of them. She has no friends or family left who can help her because she won't be helped toward a sound lifestyle, and so she has now become part of the underclass with few options.

But that aside, there is nothing that makes it immoral to recognize the dangers that groups of underclass constitute for others, including presenting overly-easy methods of losing ones self in self-destructive forms of behavior. We don't have to invite these forms of behavior to invade places that so far have minimal amounts of them.

they are resistant to accept things that might upset the apple cart. I'm only saying that schools shouldn't be so tightly coupled to real estate by regulations. I would favor the loose coupling of free association.

Yeah, I dunno. The thing is, it's just an unfortunate fact that neighborhood can be a pretty good proxy for culture which can be a pretty good proxy for behavior and probable effect on the schools of an influx of students. "Free association" wouldn't be a problem for me if we were talking about parents who paid for their own children's education and if the schools were free to maintain high standards of academics, to expel students, let the chips fall where they may as far as "disparate impact." But that isn't going to happen. I'm not sure that sending students to public school districts all over where their education will be partly paid for by the property taxes of the parents in the _other_ district and partly by other state or federal funds is a mere matter of "free assocation."

If the apple cart is, in part, a decent atmosphere and high academic standards at the school, who can blame the parents for not wanting it upset?

As far as real estate, well, I have my doubts as to whether pooling all the property taxes in the state capital and sending them all over is any better policy or likely to have better results than paying for schools in significant part by local property taxes. It's one of the last vestiges of localism in our entire system. To the extent that that has been undermined, with both state and federal tax funds, the results don't seem to have helped anybody much. And as long as the local public schools are paid for by local property taxes, it's understandable that people should want more local control and want them to serve local students.

All good points Lydia. I acknowledged that neighborhood was a proxy for those things. Not sure what you mean by "influx of students," since I don't envision that. But the apple cart I'm thinking of isn't localism. But I suspect our actual differences on schools are probably slight.

Anyway, the more I think about it the more I think there is just something not quite right about the statement "human freedom that creates inner city culture."

Let me give an example. Was it human freedom that made NYC such a dangerous place in the 80-'s? Was it human freedom that cleaned it up and made it a decent place to be again? Yes, and yes. Did most of the population want it to be a dangerous place when it was? No. But did human freedom lead to the situation? Yes, because human freedom leads to most things that we care to talk about. But this obscures the fact that what I'd call the "social dynamics of oppression" are more a part of why the city became what it was than human freedom, and the same can be said for the vast majority of troubled communities.

Often I find people assume that people that live in crime or corruption-ridden communities or nations want it that way or it wouldn't be that way. I find that strange. It is often the case that very few want it that way. Human freedom is operative in all things like this except "acts of God," at least if you're a Libertarian theologically. But in my opinion the characteristic thing in them most troubled communities is the subversion of human freedom.

Mark,

I didn't respond to you before because the subject was way off topic. It is here as well to a certain extent but I'll say that of course I think you are out to lunch on IQ and you sound like a typical lefty bringing up the history of the Pioneer Fund. So now I have to sigh again (which pains me because I've come to like you as a commenter here) and suggest you check out this link as a good place to start to learn about IQ and the history of the Pioneer Fund: http://www.vdare.com/sailer/pioneer.htm

When you finish that piece, I can give you additional links to bring you up to speed on what IQ is all about (and yes I know IQ tests are normed to create a Bell Curve but that is done so we can easily compare how people to one another -- La Griff du Lion has a great post on why he thinks g also has a Gaussian distribution called "Intelligence, Gender and Race" -- fire up Google and read it).

Mark,

I can't resist: http://www.vdare.com/sailer/071203_iq.htm

Meanwhile, I like your 10:03 PM comment very much so I apologize if I was harsh on you about IQ -- it just seems strange that someone who is obviously so smart wouldn't understand that IQ is "real" (or rather that intelligence is real and can be measured).

Anyway, what I like about your comment is something that has been bugging me a bit about this post -- again the tension between what I take to be Lydia's excellent points about the dangers inherent in going around feeling we must "Do Something about every mess in the world" and my concern that some problems do lend themselves to a solution -- even a government solution. Your comment is the example I was going to use (you beat me to it!) of New York in the 90s -- many people thought that crime was so out of control that there was nothing to be done. But thanks to the efforts of their Mayor, Police Chief, and others including the great James Wilson, dedicated public servants (and the citizens they served) refused to accept the mess and they actually did something about it. Now I think it is important to realize they didn't "end crime as we know it" or some sort of crazy liberal idea like that, but they did refuse to accept the status quo and through good public policy they improved life for most New Yorkers.

These are the kind of problems I think local communities can and should be willing to tackle -- perhaps the success of crime-fighting is related to the fact that maintaining law and order is a traditional function of all society and government so people living in communities should expect those communities to be safe. On the other hand, we have never been able to eliminate educational gaps among the races or end poverty so schemes to do so will be bound to fail.

Jeff, no need to apologize. My comments to begin with were a bit harsh too. I just really dislike IQ theory as it is typically understood, and certainly anything close to a slam-dunk. It is anything but. Ms. G's article you linked I don't think was fair. The piece you just linked came out of a Cato symposium, and reading it all would be very enlightening for anyone. I was reviewing parts of it just now when the subject came up. http://www.cato-unbound.org/archives/november-2007/

Look, it wouldn't matter if I agreed with Lefties, but in fact the Left is as highly invested in it as anyone else. I think the truth is that the Left and Right use it for different purposes, and they are both wrong. The science isn't there, and it will never be, it is in the realm of philosophy that the battle will be waged, as the Cato link clearly shows. Science can inform it, and does, but the data can be explained in many ways and it won't settle it in any case. There is no way it can, because it all depends on what you take intelligence to be. Science can't settle that, and never will. There is no settled understanding, and there never will be.

But as for motives for believing, always dangerous territory, guess what? We're back to the idea of equality. For a Christian it comes down to this? Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not. There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard. BTW, you know Ms. G believes that Asians are more "intelligent" that whites? How does that make you feel? :)

what I like about your comment is something that has been bugging me a bit about this post -- again the tension between what I take to be Lydia's excellent points about the dangers inherent in going around feeling we must "Do Something about every mess in the world" and my concern that some problems do lend themselves to a solution -- even a government solution.

If you liked my comment, that makes two of us. :) But seriously, I wonder if this doesn't have shades of a disagreement I had with Lydia in the past over the social dynamic of oppressive societies, in that case in relation to Sharia Law. It was my contention that minorities imposed it on majorities considered long term. That isn't to say you pop the lid off an oppressive society and say "hey, now go vote!" (which is never a good idea) that they'll reject it. But that isn't to say they are accepting it in a deliberative way either, or that when those who flourish under Sharia get their way that future expressions of public will will be representative. In other words, I think democratic principles work in the long term, but by no means necessarily in the short term after the lid is torn off an oppressive society. Even our elections aren't always determined rationally. Sometimes they aren't ideologically driven. Sometimes it is "Throw that party out!" It has ever been thus.

But yes, I think we agree that societies are fragile, and oftentimes our own is more fragile than we know. We often can't really say how it came to function as well as it did, and it likely has far less to do with anything that can be attributed to us, though we like to think differently. Sometimes we got where we are by programs we'd not approve of now.

Lydia:

It's hard to avoid spending a lot of time in a dangerous inner-city neighborhood when you live in one. We must have missed the secret meeting where the whites were given "get out of your dangerous inner-city neighborhood free" cards. Dang.

I can't find a valid link to Sowell's critique of "The Bell Curve" in the American Spectator from years ago, but it looks like much of it is here. Here is another of his articles on IQ, the latter being a poke at those who think the subject shouldn't be studied at all, because they are afraid of what they'll find. Sowell has no fear of that, nor do I.

In fact, I read about the Flynn effect long ago and before I'd even heard of Thomas Sowell, and recognized the devastating effect of the Flynn effect to genetic explanation of interracial IQ differences. But people often don't grasp this obvious fact.

IQ theory says that "intelligence," whatever that is, is measurable like height or weight, and independent of any actual knowledge one may have. If such a thing exists (of course there isn't,) it wouldn't change because IQ is about innate ability that doesn't increase, rather than knowledge that does. This is total bunk, but that's the view.

Then along comes Flynn (the "Flynn Effect") and shows the obvious. Namely, that IQ test numbers do change as a person gets older. Oops.

The thing that amazes me is that IQ theory doesn't need to be true to have a large effect. So called experts can change the IQ story in an ad-hoc fashion to try to fit the evidence, but what people accept is the core elements, disproven or not. At bottom, the core elements are like the placebo effect in reverse. It explains why people can't do things. As such, it makes it so people can't do things they'd otherwise be able to do if they applied themselves. Of course, there are things that people will never do, but not as many as they think. That's the problem. Before this turn of the century social-science nonsense, people had a very different perspective.

Lydia, I absolutely share your contempt for NCLB, and all its pompous works, and all its wicked ways. May it die and rot and burn and may its memory be blotted out forever in the land of the living. Etc.

Having said that, I can't quite get to where you're going with it ( if I understand you correctly, which I might not ). Freedom for you could be oppression for me, and vice versa, and so letting freedom have its way is obviously not the answer. The value of freedom is contingent like most other public goods, is it not?

There are ways of dealing with bad culture and bad neighborhoods and so forth, ways that may seem heavy-handed but which will improve things in the long run. Salinas, California could use several dozen public hangings, or even an hundred or more, for offenses we would normally regard as "minor" but which are tearing the community apart and resulting in good citizens being forced to live in a constant state of siege. Mandatory Christian education, with a good firm hand and when necessary the lash, accompanied by the prayers of a dedicated religious order would also do wonders. Do I exaggerate? Maybe, but only a little ...

Anyway, back to reality, I don't think preserving the good of freedom is, by itself, sufficient reason to do nothing in the face of certain public evils. Bad neighborhoods are indeed proxies for bad cultures, but that doesn't mean that bad neighborhoods/cultures should not be enticed with some old fashioned incentives to reform. Freedom is important, but does freedom trump justice?

Mark,

No offense, but you don't seem to be extremely familiar with the relevant literature. The Flynn Effect isn't "IQ test numbers do change as a person gets older." The Flynn Effect describes the increase in raw (not normed) test scores by decade. The increases have been greater at the lower end of the distribution and are rather like the increases we've seen in, say, height by decade. People are taller now but height is, to a significant extent, still determined by genetics. Both effects are probably a result of better environment e.g. availability of micronutrients in our diet.

it wouldn't change because IQ is about innate ability that doesn't increase, rather than knowledge that does.

The most g-loaded tests have nothing to do with knowledge. They focus on abstract reasoning ability e.g. pattern recognition. Raven's Progressive Matrices are a good example. And it's here where the measured differences are greatest. Not the "knowledge" based verbal questions.

Steve P., sure, I understand. And a sad thing that is. I was talking about people who deliberately move into dangerous neighborhoods with their whole families as part of a plan to help those neighborhoods--an idealistic and deliberate move.

Jeff C., I'm by no means hymning the wonders of human freedom in this post but rather questioning the amount of good that can be done by social programs. I'm saying that people do choose to do evil and to teach and pressure others to do evil, and that there is a limit to what can be done to change this by "giving opportunities," "more education," and the like.

Interestingly, you and I might well agree in taking a much stronger law and order approach. Not public hangings for minor offenses, but definitely the death penalty for major offenses and taking dangerous criminals off the street, permanently.

_Something_ can be done by punishment, though I don't know how much, if we're actually talking about changing a culture. Probably you and I would have different estimates on that.

But note that a law and order approach involves a belief that people are responsible for what they do. The social determinism approach responds to crime, even mayhem, by calling for more social services and excusing the perpetrators, even covering up the crimes. I kid you not: A dangerous lunatic rampaged through Grand Rapids just the other day. He killed a total, I believe of seven people, plus eventually himself. He was holding two more people hostage at the end. He should never have been out of prison. He had been provided with psychological medication but instead was doing cocaine. Bang on cue! Some brainless wonder in the Grand Rapids press calls mindlessly for "more of a social safety net." This writer had _no_ explanation of how increased social programs would have helped this bad guy. It looks like "help" had been offered, and he refused to take it! But it was like a robotic response: "Oh, someone has murdered seven people. Obviously, we need more of a social safety net."

That's what I would call the tyranny of determinism.

Mark, I'm afraid when you talk about "people" in ghetto neighborhoods not wanting it that way, you have to be careful of idealism. Perhaps you know of the "anti-snitching" movement? It's huge. Certainly, I'm sure there are some people who wish all the drug dealers were rounded up, all the gangs jailed, etc. But there are plenty of other people determined not to cooperate with the police, in a strange and messy amalgam of fear of reprisals and an actual sense of solidarity with the criminals as "our people." It's by no means as simple as, "Over here are the bad guys, and over here are the ordinary people who want the bad guys locked up, want the crime stopped, and just want to live good and peaceful lives." Virtually all of the ordinary people in some areas have relatives among the bad guys. And the female ordinary people are busy having children by the bad guys without benefit of marriage. It's a total mess. Law and order by all means! Forever! But be prepared: If the police really started cleaning up these neighborhoods, or even trying, they'd get vilified by the elite for racism and would have plenty of trouble with large swathes of the locals who wouldn't appreciate the effort. It's just not that simple. And, as I said to Jeff Culbreath, a belief in human freedom is required if one is to be willing to lock up the drug dealers and ganglords rather than offering the poor dears more social programs. I'm afraid our leaders rather lack that and instead are already racked with guilt about the racial proportions of the members of the prison population. Heaven forbid they should increase those proportions still more in the "wrong" direction, even if it might make the atmosphere better for some poor kid in the neighborhood.

I'm going to say something somewhat radical, apropos of Jeff Culbreath's half-joking suggestion of mandatory Christian education.

I have often thought of this, and believe me, not only with inner-city culture but also with some seriously dysfunctional Muslim cultures that teach their children to love terrorists and aspire to be terrorists from an early age: When you have a totally messed-up culture, the only way actually to "fix" matters would be by doing something that would be wrong. The wrong things one might do would be somehow "discarding" the present generation, from some slightly arbitrary age up--sending them all "away" somewhere (who knows where), many probably to prison for crimes committed, the others to an island or something. And take all the younger children away and raise them in some radically different way, with good values, a sense of responsibility for their actions a horror of lying and cheating, no drugs, etc., etc.

Now, this would be _wrong_. It should be far too close to something like genocide for anyone's comfort. It might not even be possible to find the "right" people to raise all those younger children. It should, in my opinion, be a horrifying set of thoughts, the kinds of thoughts that occur only either to megalomaniacs or, on the better side, to well-intentioned people frustrated beyond belief by an intractable problem, but which must be be immediately rejected, preferably with a shudder.

But it's one way to remake a culture. Indeed, to destroy a dysfunctional culture and give the next generation a whole new chance.

And it must not be done.

Perhaps you know of the "anti-snitching" movement? It's huge.

Yes, I do. It is hard to express how repugnant this idea is. It's shocking. Years ago I heard a black leader beside himself over this issue and how for all the problems they had it was inconceivable to his generation.

Certainly, I'm sure there are some people who wish all the drug dealers were rounded up, all the gangs jailed, etc. But there are plenty of other people determined not to cooperate with the police, in a strange and messy amalgam of fear of reprisals and an actual sense of solidarity with the criminals as "our people." It's by no means as simple as, "Over here are the bad guys, and over here are the ordinary people who want the bad guys locked up, want the crime stopped, and just want to live good and peaceful lives."

Well that simplistic view isn't mine. Your unrealistic characterization doesn't account for the process of social evil, at least in its expression. Bad ideas spread. Minds are poisoned. It has ever been thus. At the end of the day I find your expressions of human freedom overly voluntarist. It is a matter of nuance. People go from not wanting to do evil to wanting to do it as evil spreads, develops, and justifies itself. It is a matter of nuance on the question of the will when minds are corrupted.

But as for motives for believing, always dangerous territory, guess what? We're back to the idea of equality. For a Christian it comes down to this? Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not. There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard.
Facts which blaspheme the god Equality must be ruled out a priori, under a kind of reverse-problem-of-evil rubric. No good God would allow inequality in abilities among racial groups; therefore, inequality in abilities among racial groups don't exist.
No offense, but you don't seem to be extremely familiar with the relevant literature. The Flynn Effect isn't "IQ test numbers do change as a person gets older." The Flynn Effect describes the increase in raw (not normed) test scores by decade. The increases have been greater at the lower end of the distribution and are rather like the increases we've seen in, say, height by decade. People are taller now but height is, to a significant extent, still determined by genetics. Both effects are probably a result of better environment e.g. availability of micronutrients in our diet.

Bruce, my statement about the Flynn effect was accurate. I was referring to the increase in raw numbers. And where does "change over a decade" in raw numbers come from if not change in individuals being measured? How do you assign change in raw numbers to a time period? Now I take IQ theory as bunk, but the questions on a test are measuring something real. Flynn accepted the possibility of actual intelligence increases, not just artifacts of testing in some way. The Flynn effect does have to do with how the raw number changes over time in the life of individuals, and it could not be otherwise.

Here are excerpts of an article by Stephen J. Ceci of Cornell, a participant of the Cato symposium.

. . . the fact remains that he [Flynn] has shown beyond doubt that general intelligence fluctuates systematically over time and this cannot be due to our having better genes than our grandparents. Each of us gains every year approximately .3 of an IQ point (6 IQ points every twenty years), and this has been found for nearly 30 nations. It was a secret before Flynn and others made this discovery because the IQ tests were periodically re-normed and the average scores were reset to 100 even if the average person had actually scored a 106.

. . . This is not what one might expect if gains were the result of environmental improvements such as more or higher quality schooling. But it highlights the curious path from everyday activities to intellectual performance: It is one thing if a child’s IQ is elevated over time because she is drilled daily on vocabulary and basic number facts (two of the subtests of major IQ batteries). But Flynn and others have shown that these are not the areas where IQ has risen much.

. . . Granted most of us do not directly teach our children how to arrange pictures to tell a story or how to seriate or cross-classify a multidimensional matrix of shapes, but perhaps there are activities that indirectly foster elevated scores on such tests. And perhaps these activities are more common with each subsequent generation, leading to the Flynn effect. There is some support for this view. For example research with Brazilian children demonstrates that every year of formal school attendance conveys an improvement in their Raven’s Matrices performance, the quintessential g measure. Raven’s Matrices are associated with the largest IQ gains in the 20th century, so there is clearly something that is associated with being in school that aids performance on the highly g-loaded IQ test.

. . . all of us own Flynn a deep debt of gratitude for complicating what had started to seem like a closed case.

Facts which blaspheme the god Equality must be ruled out a priori, under a kind of reverse-problem-of-evil rubric. No good God would allow inequality in abilities among racial groups; therefore, inequality in abilities among racial groups don't exist.

Well zippy, you're half right. It isn't reversed. ;-) God doesn't directly cause evil, and so if something is evil we can be assured that God didn't cause it. There is no reverse.

I think Lydia was wise to simply ignore the whole question of racial differences in IQ. It is a hopeless argument that hits too many red flags to ever be discussed reasonably. It's more interesting to take the question in the original post and run with it -- if there are no racial differences in IQ, does it then follow that there must be equality of outcome for all racial groups, and if there is not does it follow that social programs must be instituted to bring it about.

The other aspect is in the post title, the tyranny of determinism. I'm no philosopher, but I think this refers to the common belief today that the actions of a person are merely a result of whatever external forces are acting on them coupled with whatever vector they are on. It's something like a cue ball bouncing around a pool table...social problems are really physics problems. If you want your cue ball to bounce in a different direction, just change the wall structure and there you go--gangbanger turned into model citizen. This is the technocratic mindset I referred to earlier. The one notable exception is white men, especially rich or Christian white men, who are innately corrupt and always looking to do something evil. Anyways, a serious christian cannot accept this sort of thinking, but unfortunately serious Christians make up maybe 5-10% of Americans today.

So this post is not decrying the abstract idea of doing good for someone else, it is taking aim at the managerial class that destroys and corrupts everything it touches with its ill-founded social programs. What to do? Well, taking education as an example, Titus is more or less correct that American public education is an absolute disaster. A good start would be to disband the NEA, but for now public education should simply be avoided entirely.

Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not.

Why not: isn't there sufficient generalized evidence that blacks tend to be better at some sports, like those involving jumping (basketball) and long-distance running (Kenya runners dominate marathons, and have for a number of years, well beyond any explanation of "better opportunity".)

There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard.

Oh, you mean mental capacities, like logic, intuition, creative problem solving, and so on? That's different.

Or not. Why would it be against Divine Law that some races have better capacities for logic, but worse for intuition? Or better problem-solving, and worse for story-building?

Oh, you mean, better mental capacities all across the board, so that one race simply has more mental capacity than another? Well, again, WHY NOT? What is it in the Divine Essence that precludes this? Does more mental capacity but poorer physical capacity, or poorer empathy, make a person a better human,, or give more right to privileges or basic human rights, or more to be honored by God?

Now, if you said that God does not judge according to mental capacity, but according to love, now that I would agree with. And, if you suggested that there is not now, and has never been, any suggestion of evidence that love of God is found more in one race than another on account of racial differences, that too I would probably agree with. (Can't imagine how anyone would propose testing it, since we cannot judge someone's soul.) So, if we think that God's love is not based on race, we still have no theoretical reason to assume that God did not give one race more X and less Y.

BTW, you know Ms. G believes that Asians are more "intelligent" that whites? How does that make you feel?

I have absolutely no problem with the idea. If Asians really are more "intelligent" than whites then good for them, and good for the human race which may benefit from their smarts. It matters in some affairs around this mortal coil, but it matters little to God, who judges based on caritas. I don't need to be smarter than yellow-skinned, or black-skinned, or red- or green-skinned people in order to have worth, and I pretty much assume that there are some members of each race that are one hell of a lot smarter than me - however it ought to be measured. This harms me...how?

Oh, you mean, better mental capacities all across the board, so that one race simply has more mental capacity than another? Well, again, WHY NOT? What is it in the Divine Essence that precludes this? Does more mental capacity but poorer physical capacity, or poorer empathy, make a person a better human,, or give more right to privileges or basic human rights, or more to be honored by God?

Tony, our rational faculties are our characteristically human ones. Therefore differences in our characteristic qualities have profound implications. Questions such as whether or not moral understandings have a rational basis--I think certainly yes-- and any number of other ways issues certainly do matter. On your account, God might love a slug as much as he loves us. I doubt that is true.


Now, if you said that God does not judge according to mental capacity, but according to love, now that I would agree with. And, if you suggested that there is not now, and has never been, any suggestion of evidence that love of God is found more in one race than another on account of racial differences, that too I would probably agree with. (Can't imagine how anyone would propose testing it, since we cannot judge someone's soul.) So, if we think that God's love is not based on race, we still have no theoretical reason to assume that God did not give one race more X and less Y.

I never said God judges according to mental capacity. I don't even know what that means. But again, are you saying that God might love a slug as much as he loves us, or how about a tree or a rock? He made them and they're good. Do you see any problem with that?

Tony, I may not have too much time for a long discussion, so I think it a good idea here to say that I find inadequate your argument that the love of God would be sufficient to absolve God of the evil of making an inferior race here on earth. But always the game one, I took your argument as you presented it and tried to show that there are problems with it even if there we posited that God loved animals in the same way that he loved us, as incoherent as I find that.

The more obvious and pressing problem is how such an inferior race would be treated. If Asians had the mental capacities of what other races considered retarded, then the implications are obvious. Historical study surely shows this. I fail to see how mankind could ever overcome such a natural prejudice, or why it should. I don't see why Rover should be treated as a human should, and I fail to see what it means to be a human if the characteristic capacities aren't what they were always thought.

The problem with these absolutist statements that inequality *of any kind* isn't a problem is that they want to imply that the differences may be slight and subject to doubt. But that just gives up the game by tacitly admitting that designing inferiority in the characteristic human quality is self-evidently evil. A just God wouldn't make an inferior race of humans to inhabit a planet he made for humans.

God must not love Downs children very much as a group. In fact any grouping of cogntively lesser beings must be a kind of untermensch.

Or perhaps alternatively there is something fundamentally wrong with the liberal idol Equality, even beyond it's self-contradictory coupling with rules for authoritative discrimination called "rights".

Matt, very good points, all. I think someone might well ask me whether _I'm_ being deterministic by talking so much about culture. In fact, I've sort of been waiting for someone to issue that challenge. And what would I say to defend myself? I think I'd say simply that parents and the people one looks on as one's "ain folk" have more influence than the people one looks on as outsiders. Even so, that influence isn't absolute and deterministic, but it's such a strong tie that when a whole set of people whom children look on as "ain folk" from earliest childhood are really bad role models, we have a recipe for a self-perpetuating mess.

I think there are _some_ things we can do about it, and first, do no harm. Mark talked above about the fact that minds get corrupted. Certainly, they do. People were _screaming_ (in a genteel, scholarly way) decades ago when multiculturalism became popular in the academy that this was a disaster, an absolute recipe for fostering racial hatred and resentment. But those dissidents were not heeded.

Or what about the Black Athena nonsense? How in the world did responsible scholars, the gatekeepers of what would eventually be taught to children, allow this blatant pseudo-history, this disinformation, to gain any traction or credibility at all? What is with educators to teach it? Yet I know of a _philosophy graduate student_ who believes it firmly. There's a funny story that goes round of his promulgating it with a (now late) philosopher, who looked straight at him finally and rasped out, "So you don't have any evidence. You just have a half-*ssed theory about _why_ you don't have any evidence."

Yet it's taught to kids. By people who are supposed to be there to help and educate them. That's all we need: Pseudo-history teaching black children that their race's historical achievements were stolen from them by dastardly whites.

It's nuts. So our first move should be to get rid of _all_ of this.

We cd. try reinstituting phonics in reading.

We cd. try separating the students who disrupt from the students who want to learn, to give the latter some sort of chance.

We could try abandoning the educational fads and teaching the times tables.

And we could try rounding up the outright malefactors and getting them off the streets.

It's not like there aren't some things we can do. But in the end, the parents are the parents--often single women, no fathers... The heroes of the neighborhoods are the heroes (perhaps even if they go to jail), and the best we can do will help only some.

I do tend to think that "the best we can do" would look far, far different and be far, far more a matter of "tough love" than what most idealists even want to think about or hear about.

God must not love Downs children very much as a group. In fact any grouping of cogntively lesser beings must be a kind of untermensch.

That is an entirely different topic. Down's syndrome is an abnormality, and any grouping is on that basis alone. The question at hand is a normalcy for a given race that is an inferiority in comparison to other races.

Lydia, I think I get your point better now. No sweeping education programs. I wholeheartedly agree. In my opinion, ditto for any sweeping program. I think the way you used "human freedom" can be interpreted in several ways at once.

Without saying any more than this, I feel I ought to insert here that I doubt Tony or Zippy or anyone else in this discussion is saying that God _made_ racial groups differ by intelligence--in the sense of an active intervention for that purpose. God created Adam and Eve, and orthodox Christians (which I think includes all those involved in this particular debate) are not supposed to accept polygeny. So all members of all human races are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. If there are/were biologically innate differences in intelligence (in a statistical sense) between racial groups, this would be something God _allowed_ to happen by a series of natural events in the course of the genetic history of different groups of men on earth as they developed for a long time in partial or total isolation from one another. It needn't be something God _made_ to happen, and I doubt that anyone in this discussion thinks that he did.

But note that a law and order approach involves a belief that people are responsible for what they do. The social determinism approach responds to crime, even mayhem, by calling for more social services and excusing the perpetrators, even covering up the crimes.

Social determinism is obviously wrong and it's definitely worth pointing that out. I'm sure you will agree, however, that social and environmental variables should not be ignored. Law and order can stop the worst of it and give people temporary room to breathe, but any long term solution has to present a viable and coherent alternative to the existing dysfunctionality. In my opinion that probably means imposing what some would derisively call a program of "social engineering" - a system of positive incentives for people in such places to conform their behavior to higher moral standards.

I have often thought of this, and believe me, not only with inner-city culture but also with some seriously dysfunctional Muslim cultures that teach their children to love terrorists and aspire to be terrorists from an early age: When you have a totally messed-up culture, the only way actually to "fix" matters would be by doing something that would be wrong. The wrong things one might do would be somehow "discarding" the present generation, from some slightly arbitrary age up--sending them all "away" somewhere (who knows where), many probably to prison for crimes committed, the others to an island or something. And take all the younger children away and raise them in some radically different way, with good values, a sense of responsibility for their actions a horror of lying and cheating, no drugs, etc., etc.

I think there are lots of things that might be tried before ideas like mass expulsions or breaking up families are even contemplated. The governor of Florida recently signed legislation which, if I remember correctly, makes public assistance contingent on the recipient passing a drug test. New York City banned tattoo parlors for 36 years. Cohabitation is still illegal (but largely unenforced) in seven states. That's the kind of creative thinking necessary to regain some cultural traction.

And yet even these kinds of measures don't go far enough. The only thing that really changes lives from the inside out is the Gospel. So the predicament of our exploding underclass is largely a failure of the Church, whose members, having lost their apostolic zeal, don't do enough with the freedom they already have (which helps explain the erosion of that freedom in our time). Assuming a healthy Church there are any number of ways the state might provide critical aid to her mission. For example, non-federal political jurisdictions ought to be able to franchise religious organizations as the exclusive providers of certain kinds of social services - including health and education. And those religious organizations should have strings attached.

It needn't be something God _made_ to happen, and I doubt that anyone in this discussion thinks that he did.

We Catholics would call this God's "permissive will", which is truly God's will since He could have easily changed or prevented the outcome, but is distinct from God's "positive will" (aka "ordaining will" or "active will") which He brings about directly.

While sex differences are clearly the result of God's positive will, racial and other human differences are provided for by His permissive will. Or so it seems to me.

If there are/were biologically innate differences in intelligence (in a statistical sense) between racial groups, this would be something God _allowed_ to happen by a series of natural events in the course of the genetic history of different groups of men on earth as they developed for a long time in partial or total isolation from one another.

I think this is key. Average intelligence among a particular race is a contingent thing. We know that IQ correlates heavily not only with life outcomes and but also with the biology of the brain. And there are significant differences in average brain size and complexity between the black and white races. See chapter 3 of Carleton Putnam's Race and Reality.

http://www.jrbooksonline.com/putnam.htm

So, probably at some point in the history of early man one group migrated and took a left turn instead of a right, became isolated for a long time and evolved into a different race with different strenghts and weaknesses. And that brings us back to contingency and human freedom. Notwithstanding that IQ is very likely mostly genetic, IQ differences probably are environmental in origin. But not environmental in any way that we have control over since the forming of the races took many thousands of years.

Jeff, I certainly like the idea of tying social services to passing a drug test. Would that in general charitable agencies that work with the poor would take this sort of approach. It would at least avoid incentivizing self-destructive behavior.

Unfortunately, even among those who are religious, there can be a tendency to accept hook, line, and sinker the liberal narrative that treats people in these communities as sheer, helpless victims of "the rich," to excuse even acts such as armed robbery as "desperation," and not to ask or expect them to overcome their self-destructive behaviors as a condition of benefits. And other Christians may be loath to call out such cruel, sentimental, deterministic nonsense for the what it is, because, "So-and-so has, after all, devoted his life to these people and knows so much more than I. So who am I to criticize him?"

All that being said, I fear that ultimately the role models that count for the most won't usually be the tough nuns (if there are any tough nuns anymore) but the other single moms, including one's own single mom. Any time I am proved wrong on this, I will rejoice, of course. And probably I _am_ wrong in individual cases.

I was heartened, by the way, to learn recently that our own, largely Protestant-run, unwed mothers' home (set up by the crisis pregnancy center) in town _does_ have behavioral requirements and sometimes asks women to leave when they refuse to abide by them. That's as it should be, harsh though no doubt it would sound to some.

Lydia, most people seem to err on one side or the other of the "free will" vs. "circumstances" debate. It's usually a combination of both. No one who does wrong is purely a victim: that much we know as an article of faith. But there are few who do wrong, in my view, who were not influenced negatively by circumstances beyond their control. Long term unemployment drives some men over the edge, which doesn't excuse their crimes, but it does mean that there will be no cultural recovery without gainful and productive employment for men - and if "the rich" are culpable for perpetuating unemployment in some degree, it ought to be said somewhere. Same goes for young men raised in fatherless homes, the kind who make up 85% of our prison population. Restoring the discipline of marriage and fatherhood is the single most important thing that can be done to help the poor. And that's going to take more than sweet words.

I am betting that you have in mind my own citing, with approval, the practice of one Catholic social worker in dealing with severe alcoholics and drug addicts. You may recall that she sometimes helped alleviate their suffering by providing them with money she knew would be spent on drugs or booze. I don't fault her for this, in her situation, because she's done all she could do otherwise, and from what I understand kicking the addictions at that late stage is all but impossible apart from institutionalization. I know you disagree, but in some cases this could be an act of genuine mercy. I think it's different with public assistance because the goal here is not to relieve the suffering of addicted individuals in extreme cases, but rather to send a public message, to shape public policy, and to incentivize responsible behavior for the masses.

Tony, our rational faculties are our characteristically human ones. Therefore differences in our characteristic qualities have profound implications. Questions such as whether or not moral understandings have a rational basis--I think certainly yes-- and any number of other ways issues certainly do matter. On your account, God might love a slug as much as he loves us. I doubt that is true.
I find inadequate your argument that the love of God would be sufficient to absolve God of the evil of making an inferior race here on earth. But always the game one, I took your argument as you presented it and tried to show that there are problems with it even if there we posited that God loved animals in the same way that he loved us, as incoherent as I find that.

Mark, you didn't read carefully enough, I think. Please note that God's judgment is based on caritas: how much we love with that supernatural love that is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit acting in us to will and to do. Irrational animals, since they do no have a spiritual soul, are incapable of receiving this grace, are incapable of caritas, and are not "judged" at all because they have no free will.

Once you grant that a person has human nature, of whatever level of intelligence, you grant that they have a spiritual soul, and therefore are capable of receiving the grace mentioned above. Even if they are a Down's child, if they have been baptized they have the grace to become adopted children of God, with the habitual love of God that this implies. It would be even better if the Down's person is capable of using their brain fully in being fully employed by the force of that grace so that their love of God could fulfill their entire potential - and, we believe, that is exactly what will happen in heaven when the obstacles and impediments to their full functioning will be removed: they will love God with perfect fulfillment of their capacities, which capacity implies intelligence but does not require any particular degree of intelligence.

In heaven, a child who had been a simple, uneducated, not brainy, rather stupid child, who learned to love God perfectly by responding wholeheartedly to each and every movement of the Spirit in their hearts, can be miles and miles above an Einstein who reaches heaven "by the skin of his teeth" as it were, barely managing to bring his intellect and will to submit to God in humility. The mere FACT of having an intelligent nature is all God needs to bring the soul to new heights of supernatural perfection: the order of grace depends on nature to the extent of requiring an intellectual soul, but beyond that the order of grace is not subject to the limits of the natural order of intelligence in its accidental particulars. That's why an uneducated St. Therese could become a Doctor of the Church.

And, if you suggested that there is not now, and has never been, any suggestion of evidence that love of God is found more in one race than another on account of racial differences, that too I would probably agree with. (Can't imagine how anyone would propose testing it, since we cannot judge someone's soul.)

How about church attendance as a rough measure?
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week908/Wilcox_Data.pdf

The most interesting aspect of this thread to me is the apparent underlying consensus that statistical differences in cognitive ability across racial groups (though apparently not other kinds of differences or other kinds of groups) are (or would be, for those who deny their reality) evil. Even those who acknowledge the reality of these particular kinds of difference in ability seem to see them not as part of the beneficent variety of God's good Creation, but as defects.

Alliegences to liberalism appear to run very deep indeed.

Tony, as I said, I'm not persuaded that this approach is helpful. This is the sort of "God's love conquers all" theological approach that I find incoherent. You say you have no "absolutely no problem with the idea" that Asians "intelligent" than whites. But as I said, you say this without stating how that caches out. If lower intelligence caches out in a greater likelihood to succumb to sexual urges, how are you with that? Is there any reason why it wouldn't? The answer is no.

You say "The mere FACT of having an intelligent nature" is all that is relevant. The very question is: what is intelligence and what is man?

The most interesting aspect of this thread to me is the apparent underlying consensus that statistical differences in cognitive ability across racial groups (though apparently not other kinds of differences or other kinds of groups) are (or would be, for those who deny their reality) evil. Even those who acknowledge the reality of these particular kinds of difference in ability seem to see them not as part of the beneficent variety of God's good Creation, but as defects.

No zippy. No. You need to back up a step and see what was wrong with your Down's syndrome example. If you do that you won't be inclined to draw conclusions from it.

The clay shakes it's fist in outrage at the potter.

The most interesting aspect of this thread to me is the apparent underlying consensus that statistical differences in cognitive ability across racial groups (though apparently not other kinds of differences or other kinds of groups) are (or would be, for those who deny their reality) evil.

There's a consensus on that? Among whom? I don't see such a consensus at all. Tony, for example, seems to be denying that outright. I haven't as far as I can tell said anything that would imply that at all. I imagine Step2 thinks this, and Mark definitely does, but I don't know who else does.

Now, if there are, or were, underlying statistical differences that made it much more likely that we would have high rates of violence, social dysfunction, out-of-wedlock conception, and the like within such a group, then that's obviously an unfortunate thing per se.

My own opinion is that mere statistical differences in cognitive ability are more likely to lead to these outcomes only with a lot of other co-factors that come together only by historical accident.

Without saying any more than this, I feel I ought to insert here that I doubt Tony or Zippy or anyone else in this discussion is saying that God _made_ racial groups differ by intelligence--in the sense of an active intervention for that purpose.

Dunno Lydia, Tony is arguing that even "better mental capacities all across the board" and less capacity for empathy and such would not be a problem in any sense. That's biting the bullet.

I think you're onto something with the polygenism comment though. The question is: what is intelligence, and what is man? I'm not persuaded that moving racial inferiority outside of God's willful action is effective. He can guarantee that the church won't perish, but not that entire races won't become inferior over time? What grace occurs if there is true racial inferiority? Abnormality allows us to treat the weak with grace. With inferiority, it is doubtful we could think of them in sufficiently relevant ways, or that our empathy would extend to them, or should.

I find it ironic that the same crowd that justifies natural prejudice in some pretty strident terms then doesn't mind creating more of it by hypothesis.

Lydia,

I think you finally hit the proverbial nail on the head with this comment when it came to why I thought it was important to modify your original post:

Jeff C., I'm by no means hymning the wonders of human freedom in this post but rather questioning the amount of good that can be done by social programs. I'm saying that people do choose to do evil and to teach and pressure others to do evil, and that there is a limit to what can be done to change this by "giving opportunities," "more education," and the like.

Interestingly, you and I might well agree in taking a much stronger law and order approach. Not public hangings for minor offenses, but definitely the death penalty for major offenses and taking dangerous criminals off the street, permanently.

_Something_ can be done by punishment, though I don't know how much, if we're actually talking about changing a culture. Probably you and I would have different estimates on that.

But note that a law and order approach involves a belief that people are responsible for what they do. The social determinism approach responds to crime, even mayhem, by calling for more social services and excusing the perpetrators, even covering up the crimes. I kid you not: A dangerous lunatic rampaged through Grand Rapids just the other day. He killed a total, I believe of seven people, plus eventually himself. He was holding two more people hostage at the end. He should never have been out of prison. He had been provided with psychological medication but instead was doing cocaine. Bang on cue! Some brainless wonder in the Grand Rapids press calls mindlessly for "more of a social safety net." This writer had _no_ explanation of how increased social programs would have helped this bad guy. It looks like "help" had been offered, and he refused to take it! But it was like a robotic response: "Oh, someone has murdered seven people. Obviously, we need more of a social safety net."

That's what I would call the tyranny of determinism.

I thought of you when I read about Rodrick Shonte Dantzler, who is should be noted according to today's paper "had a history of threatening to kill women he knew, including his mother and the mother of two of his children, court documents show. Kent County, Mich., court records documents dozens of contacts with authorities, including two felony convictions when he was a minor. Dantzler went to prison for three years in 2000 after a road-rage incident in which he fired five shots at another driver."

Anyway, I think this comment is brilliant and I think it gets at the heart of why I think sometimes we do want the government to "Do Something" -- we want to hold people accountable for their actions and justice demands that people living as a society take action when someone violates public order or morality.

I also have to point out how different this is from demanding the government "Do Something" about even problems we traditionally associate with government action like unemployment. Up above Jeff C. says "Long term unemployment drives some men over the edge, which doesn't excuse their crimes, but it does mean that there will be no cultural recovery without gainful and productive employment for men - and if "the rich" are culpable for perpetuating unemployment in some degree, it ought to be said somewhere."

First of all, how a rich person would be preventing anyone from getting a job in this day and age when slavery is outlawed is beyond me, but let me also relate a little story I heard yesterday on Catholic radio. A couple of Catholic financial guys were being interviewed about the economy and the subject of unemployment came up. Their advice was that the American people needed to start thinking creatively and entrepreneurially about their situations and don't look to the government (or a rich person!) to solve their problem. The example they used was a union electrician who had in good in the 00s and was now unemployed waiting for a call from the union hall -- if it has been a six months or more maybe it was time to get together with his buddies and form an LLC and fix up some rental properties for income (and when the economy recovers maybe even flip the properties for profit). In other words, take charge of your life and don't wait for someone else to save you -- just the kind of non-deterministic thinking you want policy makers to emulate.

P.S. On the subject of your 9:17 AM post, ironically Steve Sailer has written quite a bit on this subject because liberal education reformers are basically coming to the conclusion that inner-city kids do best when away from their home environments a lot (which is why the famous Harlem Children's Zone is having some success). The problem is you get kids who are raised alienated from both of their parents, sort of like the Stolen Generations in Australia of Aboriginals).

Jeff, I disagree. That Catholic social worker was absolutely parroting an entire liberal line of baloney. It was an appalling column. And her entire approach was simply to leave addiction where it was. She was not talking about some sort of exceptional case in which she was medically qualified to determine some "treatment." It was just all this "who are you to judge desperate people," etc., etc. It was dreadful. It was just like a leftist tape-recording--and as I say, represents what is (though unintentionally) in the end a cruel approach to working with the underclass, because it makes no attempt to teach them a sense of responsibility for their own actions or to help them to better themselves. She even blathered excuses for armed robbery. Indeed, the entire victim-class mind-set against which I am writing here. Indeed, it was _worse_ than some mostly liberal-run programs which will at least try to encourage people to enter re-hab or to better themselves.

Moreover, if private charitable organizations are not actually trying to help people to get out of their self-destructive behaviors, if they don't see the importance and necessity of that, I don't know why government should. This is a matter of what is, in fact, best for people in such circumstances. Private charities, especially Christian ones, are those that should have the _wisest_ policies as regards incentives, the ones who can _least_ afford to be simply leaving people in their degradation and giving them only handouts and pity coupled with excuse-making. Christians should do better than that.

If that is the sort of Catholic charitable worker who would be "franchised" by the state to provide services, I can tell you one thing: They aren't going to be requiring responsible behavior and drug tests!

That, again, is why I applaud, as I said, the local religious unwed mothers' home for having some behavioral standards.

Sorry, the "Jeff" in the last comment with whom I was saying I disagree is Jeff Culbreath, not Jeff Singer.

Dunno Lydia, Tony is arguing that even "better mental capacities all across the board" and less capacity for empathy and such would not be a problem in any sense. That's biting the bullet.

But Mark, that scarcely implies that Tony thinks God reached down miraculously and made some groups of people statistically more likely to have more empathy and less ability to do physics! I mean, I don't even see a connection.

Those darn potters :)

The very question is: what is intelligence and what is man?

Intelligence, at least as some biologists view it, is a form of animal cunning that enables them to avoid obstacles and hunt prey. Genetically, the parts of the brain most involved with cognition seem to have evolved from primitive DNA that enable bacteria to sense differences between food and toxic substances.

Mark,

Maybe I misunderstand you but the Flynn Effect describes increases in raw scores across generations, not individuals scoring higher as they age.

But Mark, that scarcely implies that Tony thinks God reached down miraculously and made some groups of people statistically more likely to have more empathy and less ability to do physics! I mean, I don't even see a connection.

It's a hypothetical. He's saying that if God did that, it wouldn't be a problem. It's a statement about reality that I disagree with, and it has implications. For one, it suggests one also believes the statement: "For all we know, he did." Now one could go the other way and say "But as it happens, I don't think he did," that's some oddly midway position that makes claims about the nature of "intelligence" and personhood in any case.

By way of analogy, if I said Christ could have had a homosexual affair with John but I don't think he actually did, I'm making a clear statement about either who Christ was, or what homosexuality is, or both.

The most interesting aspect of this thread to me is the apparent underlying consensus that statistical differences in cognitive ability across racial groups (though apparently not other kinds of differences or other kinds of groups) are (or would be, for those who deny their reality) evil. Even those who acknowledge the reality of these particular kinds of difference in ability seem to see them not as part of the beneficent variety of God's good Creation, but as defects.

Insofar as evil is simply the privation of good, we can say that any lack of intelligence, or beauty, or health, or whathaveyou - any deficiency which causes some creature or group of creatures to fall short of its natural perfection - is a form of "evil". In that sense we are all defective. While these defects are in the first instance a punishment for original sin, in the light of redemption they are indeed a source of grace, a means of salvation, and proof of the "beneficient variety of God's good Creation".

It's true that in heaven these evils will be eliminated, and every person will have exactly the intelligence and physique and personality he ought to have - his natural and supernatural end. The thing is, this perfection does not translate into equality either: there is inequality in the next life, too, but in God's heaven there are no defects. The fallen world's inequality mirrors, in a corrupt form, the inequalities of heaven.

That's a pretty deep question, though, Jeff. I'm not at all sure that the fact that one individual human has less intelligence than another is, or indicates, a failure of that individual human to fall short of his natural perfection. I'm less intelligent than my husband. I'm actually rather happy about this and have no desire to have it corrected in the next life. But perhaps that's your point concerning inequality in heaven.

Bruce: You aren't interacting with what I said and referenced let alone my central concerns or claims. If you want to argue, you aren't offering much to argue that I care about.

I'm not at all sure that the fact that one individual human has less intelligence than another is, or indicates, a failure of that individual human to fall short of his natural perfection. I'm less intelligent than my husband.

It all depends on what intelligence is. The term is used equivocally in these debates, and inevitably so no doubt. IQ tests measure a mental acuity of some sort, but the idea that innate mental capacity to learn or know can be measured apart from knowledge itself is a new one, and I think quite obviously false.

You say "I'm less intelligent than my husband," but a more accurate statement would be that your husband merely displays proficiencies or skills that you don't. And it isn't clear that such self-deprecation is what it seems to be. As I told Tony, I could easily restate your assertion in a way you'd find demeaning and insulting simply by slightly modifying the unstated assumptions you are making.

I and my tech colleagues smirk to each other when people express, as they often do, that this or that technical skill means that we're "so intelligent." We find it very comical. It's just "know-how." Now if that's all you mean by intelligent, then fine. But I use entirely different terms for that, which I think are fare more accurate and clearer. Some of us are more brilliant than others, and have greater mental capacities of course, but measuring it? It's nonsense.

The classic understanding that was held up until the early part of last century when IQ theory became entrenched in the popular mind was far better.

Laura Wood of Thinking Housewife has some very useful things to say regarding the Atlanta cheating scandal and what kinds of changes to education are needed. In her view, the proper role of the state is dependent upon the nature of any racial differences. She writes:

At the heart of this scandal is the failure to recognize that blacks should not be held to impossible standards. It is not right. Black education should be different from white education. It is not compassionate to deny racial differences. The progression of subject matter should proceed at a different pace and black students should graduate to the working world, at perhaps a much younger age, with a command of basics and not the unrealistic, utopian expectation that they will study Algebra II in high school or go on to higher education that isn’t narrowly vocational. Of course, some blacks will do these things and they deserve the opportunity to succeed, but schools should acknowledge the general characteristics of black students and adopt realistic standards.

A reader comments:

But isn’t that something that blacks can do now on their own? Why must someone or some institution (government, e.g.) set something up for them, which would appear to be the practical extension of your laudable point? Or, perhaps, you would say they cannot do this on their own because state education departments would balk at setting up such separate education paths for blacks?

Laura responds:

They definitely can’t do it on their own now. For one, they have those tests and pass rates imposed by No Child Left Behind (or No Child Left Alone); these hold blacks to similar standards as whites and are a virtual mandate for cheating by principals and teachers. Standardized tests do have value for largely black schools, even more so than for white schools, but the standards should be changed, with basic skills reinforced throughout elementary and secondary school.

Secondly, black political groups aren’t motivated, and will probably never be motivated, to start a revolution in education not founded on racial grievances. There is also widespread parental indifference.

You ask, “Why must someone or some institution (government, e.g.) set something up for them?” Because it’s the right thing to do and blacks are unlikely to do it entirely on their own. I’m not a supporter of our public education system, but paternalistic education of some kind, education not founded on white guilt and not indulgent of lawlessness or misbehavior, makes sense for blacks. A libertarian approach isn’t reasonable for all groups. That’s a vague answer, but until we let the idea that racial differences matter, in education especially, we can’t work on the details.

I should add that all education is not worthy of the name unless it takes into consideration the totality of the person. That is as true for blacks as for whites. Modern state-run education denies the spiritual dimension and the immortality of the soul.

http://www.thinkinghousewife.com/wp/2011/07/toward-justice-and-reason-in-education/#more-26274

"A reader" 1, Laura Wood 0.

This is where talk of "racial differences" usually ends up. See Thomas Sowell's article "The Education of Minority Children".

Later in the comments Laura says this:

"Since the purpose of education is to form character, not just test scores, the ideal would be single-sex Christian schools that are generally segregated by race. But I don’t mean Christian in the liberal sense, which involves the denial of group differences in intelligence and temperament and promotes white guilt."

And there you have my argument in a nutshell. As I said, Sowell shows why she's very wrong about everything, but she frames the matter correctly about the role of beliefs about intelligence. She correctly identifies as "Christian" the denial of racial differences in "intelligence." This is why my argument matters. I didn't say it this bluntly, but I would have eventually. Certain modern ideas on "intelligence" and modern (as opposed to classic) Liberal ideas on race are incompatible with the classic Christian ideal. An ideal grounded in the knowledge of the creator God and his creation. Christians who are knee-jerkedly counter-cultural need to start pay more attention to what culture they are countering. If multiculturalism was a disaster in the academy, surely false views of racial inferiority now among (Christian) college graduates are no less so.

Mark, I agree with you that intelligence is something different from skills, even mental skills.

I also agree with you that even in a perfect world without sin, God's plan included different people having different roles: different roles implies different levels of capacities in various aspects; this implies that different people can have different levels of intelligence, since intelligence is just one of the sorts of capacity that humans use to fulfill their roles.

Observation shows us that different races have different capacities in such things as physical attributes. Some races might be built along such lines that they are better at jumping (statistically), others might be built more along lines of massive upper body musculature and thus more capable of lifting large weights. Nobody would think of suggesting that this makes one race better than another race qua human beings.

Since intelligence is one of the capacities about which humans differ, and differ by design (in some sense, at least), there is, so far as we are aware, nothing about racial divisions that makes it biologically impossible that one race is more intelligent than another, statistically speaking. If you think that there is a theological reason, you have yet to state it in clear terms. I cannot think of one. If God's plan for man was that we discover genetic links to, say, empathy, by noting statistical differences between races in empathy, and note differences in genes that relate to that, then it could easily be the case that one race is statistically more empathic than another. Same could be true of intelligence. And I have no problem if whites are not the smarter race. Just as I have no problem with the fact that some individual blacks, and some individual Asians, are smarter than I am.

The very question is: what is intelligence and what is man?

Well, that's certainly one of the questions. Every human being, in virtue of being human, has a rational soul. This rational soul may be the soul of a person who is very good at certain skills like math, or who could have been very good at such skills but never had the time to learn or anyone to teach. In another, the soul may be the soul of a person (like a Down's kid) whose capacity to fruitfully use rationality is largely impeded by physical defects. In either case, the rational soul is what makes them both "in the image and likeness of God." A person who not only is rational in potentia but actually carries out rational thought very well indeed is someone who is different from the Down's kid only in what are referred to (in Aristotelian-Thomistic terms) as "accidental" differences: it is not something different in their natures. Thus, both men are capable of the love of caritas at least in the habitual sense, and both can be saved by the grace of Christ.

When the Down's kid reaches heaven, the physical impediments of his defects will pass away, and he will be able to use rational thought without constraint, but he will not be any more of a human being for that: his now fruitful use of rationality is an accidental difference, not a difference that changes his very nature into a new species of being. I do not call this change (releasing the Down's person from impediments) as something like "God's grace overcoming the problem" in any ordinary sense that phrase would be used. It is not that God's grace made the Down's person a better human being by getting rid of the physical defects. First of all, the primary grace is that whereby salvation occurs, and that grace leaves the Down's person in the midst of his defects. Secondly, the person becomes fully good (as judged by God) through and through before getting to heaven, so being in heaven is not being a better human being than before in the important sense. What is different is that the (formerly) Down's person can now fulfill his human nature in full expression of that (rational) nature, but he is not more of a human being for doing so, and he is not more lovable in God's eyes for doing so.

He can guarantee that the church won't perish, but not that entire races won't become inferior over time? What grace occurs if there is true racial inferiority? Abnormality allows us to treat the weak with grace. With inferiority, it is doubtful we could think of them in sufficiently relevant ways, or that our empathy would extend to them, or should.

I find it ironic that the same crowd that justifies natural prejudice in some pretty strident terms then doesn't mind creating more of it by hypothesis.

But that's just it, Mark: such differences as lighter or darker skin, bigger or smaller muscles, more or less natural empathy, smarter or less smart are differences that can be (and have been) used by some to call others inferior. What they mean by this is that the inferior isn't just inferior with respect to this one specific aspect in which they (manifestly) are different, but that this makes them inferior as such - inferior qua human. And this sort of category shift is at the heart of most bigotry: "I get to treat you as an animal because I am more of the sort of thing I mean by "human" than you are."

But this is clearly not what I am promoting: if a kid is born who will never be able to form clear thoughts of any sort because his brain is messed up and mis-wired, he will NEVER use rational behavior in this life, and he will manifestly not exhibit the sorts of behavior that makes "rational" to be the specific difference of man. But if he has human nature, he has the sort of soul that can love, and that means he can enjoy the Beatific Vision in heaven, can know and love God as He is in Himself. THAT behavior is the important sort, and that behavior will become possible to him when his physical defects are removed. Should I treat such a kid as "inferior", as less truly human, when he will for all eternity be singing paeans of beauty to God? How outrageous a thought!

Oh, and by the way, I agree with Mark that the IQ-testing theory of intelligence is probably neither accurate on its own ground, nor says anything important about how we ought to deal with differences in the measured quantity.

I wrote:

The most interesting aspect of this thread to me is the apparent underlying consensus that statistical differences in cognitive ability across racial groups (though apparently not other kinds of differences or other kinds of groups) are (or would be, for those who deny their reality) evil.

Lydia replied:

There's a consensus on that? Among whom? I don't see such a consensus at all. Tony, for example, seems to be denying that outright. I haven't as far as I can tell said anything that would imply that at all.

Keep in mind that "consensus" is a group dynamic: when a faction of a group strongly affirms X and the majority of the group plays along nicely with X and its premises, that represents a consensus.

Without quote-mining the thread for examples from other folks to establish why I got the impression of consensus on the point, I'll just address what struck me as your own "play along nicely" statement:

I feel I ought to insert here that I doubt Tony or Zippy or anyone else in this discussion is saying that God _made_ racial groups differ by intelligence--in the sense of an active intervention for that purpose.

Now, it is true that I have not asserted that God actively intervened to create racial differences in intelligence (how would I know?). So your doubt is well founded; but the unstated reasons for that doubt may not be, at least in my case. The reason I don't assert that is simply because I don't know. I see no reason to deny it as a matter of theodicy, however, since racial inequality in cognitive abilities is not evil, any more than racial differences in athletic abilities or musical abilities or what have you.

If God in an act of his deliberate will made races differ statistically in abilities, including cognitive abilities, I don't view that as evil or unfortunate at all. Furthermore, I think the dominant factor which makes people think of it as evil or unfortunate is the liberal idea of equality.

It is true that Tony has been somewhat contrarian on the point also. I think though, if I read him correctly (and I should say that I haven't read his posts carefully, so I could be wrong on the point), that his approach is simply to forestall this as a specific concrete instance of the Problem of Evil. That is, he is arguing against Mark's wacky contention that an actual, real and significant inherent statistical difference in cognitive abilities between races would constitute an empirical falsification of God's goodness. That is great as far as it goes, but is really still perfectly consonant with the notion that racial differences in intelligence are - like all (presumed or actual) natural evils - merely an outcome of God's permissive will.

How many people in this discussion are willing to sign up to the notion that God, through his active and deliberate (expressly not merely permissive) will, could have intentionally made the races differ statistically in cognitive abilities without doing evil? I am, by the way: statistical differences in cognitive abilities from one race to another are not a natural evil, any more than the difference between a peacock and a pigeon is a natural evil.

It was the apparent (at least to me, in reading the thread) consensus around the negation of this point - where again "consensus" involves some faction strongly affirming and most everyone else playing along - that I found interesting.

Now that this has been made more explicit perhaps that apparent consensus will fracture though. Or perhaps you'll consider this a digression from the subject of the post, which is fine too. I was just noting explicitly something that struck me - if nobody else - to be of passing interest.

If God in an act of his deliberate will made races differ statistically in abilities, including cognitive abilities, I don't view that as evil or unfortunate at all. Furthermore, I think the dominant factor which makes people think of it as evil or unfortunate is the liberal idea of equality.

Here's why that's a tough call, for me: It gets into the whole issue of alternative history and God's knowing what will happen and such. For example, just suppose that the mean differences in whatever-IQ-tests-measure between the races are a _contributing cause_ (along with a whole bunch of other stuff that didn't have to happen) of a lot of present-day social ills, including tension between the races in America. Now, since God knows all things, he would know that that would happen, so would he have deliberately, as a matter of direct action, brought about such a contributing cause?

I'm very, very chary of making up stories about what God wouldn't do and being dogmatic about it. So I wouldn't be dogmatic about this. But I tilt slightly in the "no" direction on that one, if one grants the antecedent concerning a contributing cause of other social ills. Notice, too, though, that that "no" answer, if it's given _for that reason_, doesn't make the said differences an evil in themselves. The differences might not be an evil in themselves but might, via a series of historical accidents God could foresee, become a contributing cause of other evils--hence something that one could make a not-wholly-implausible argument God wouldn't deliberately bring about. This therefore doesn't have to owe anything to an allegiance to equality per se.

Like Zippy, I do not think that differences in intelligence between different people, and even between different peoples (whether not the peoples comprise whole races or subsets, or run across other lines like nationality or language), can be called an evil per se. Like Mark, I tend toward doubt about the usefulness of the current classification scheme of IQ as having any internal merit even apart from whatever use its results are put. And like Lydia I tend to run chary of making dogmatic claims about God's will, given our distinct shortcomings in language in trying to speak about His positive will and His permissive will (as if He had 2 wills, or something equally wacky). But I think we can make dogmatic declarations about what is not impossible to God here.

When God chooses to produce a good in the natural order, He is not limited to any silly notions of "the best possible good" that could be made - for a large number of philosophical reasons, (one of which is that there is no theoretically possible "best" world). Therefore, it is enough to say that what He makes is good. Which He said, 6 times over.

When he makes birds to fly and humans to not fly (by nature, at least), He does not cause a defect in man. There is no evil in man that he does not fly. But more: when He makes a St. Thomas to be a genius and a St. Joseph of Cupertino to be just next to being a dunce in mental capacity, He is not causing an evil in the world: having the intelligence of a St. Joseph is a good (modest but good), having the intelligence of a St. Thomas is another good (greater in the order of useful capability), this does not somehow make St. Joseph the odd duck out of the picnic: To think having less of a good is to be shortchanged is ENVY, pure and simple. There is no evil in God delegating His goods in unequal manner around the world: the people of the United States of 1960 had been granted unimaginable wealth, security, and good outlook compared to those of 2/3 of the other countries at the time: was this an injustice on God's part? By no means. God granted Abraham a great increase in his flocks and in his wealth, more so than to Lot: was this because God was evil? Forbid the thought.

That there is inequality of capability is from God just as there is inequality of wealth, and similarly there is inequality of grace: some are apostles, some teachers, some prophets - all for the glory of God. That a teacher does not receive the gift of prophecy is not an injustice, it is God's grace moving differently in different people for His providential plan, which we cannot fathom but we know for certain is good. We Catholics believe that Mary received, based on no merit of her own but solely through the merits of Christ's redemption, the gift of being kept free from the stain of sin including original sin. No other human being received such a gift. Is this unequal dealing by God? Certainly it is. Is it unjust? Of course not.

Whatever you can say about the differences between two people, you can also say about two small groups, and two large groups, and two nations, and two races: God does not deal with them in exactly equal terms. They have differences. Those differences are, in the long run, for the greater glory of God as well as for the more fitting fulfillment of the human part of creation. Differences of cognitive ability are not separated out from the rest as being off limits to God in His providence.

I personally doubt that there is any true difference of innate mental capacity between whites and blacks, regardless of what the statistics might show: I just don't trust the statistics to show anything very meaningful. But if there are, that too is something under God's providential plan.

If God in an act of his deliberate will made races differ statistically in abilities, including cognitive abilities, I don't view that as evil or unfortunate at all.

Is there a reason for someone to disbelieve the notion that the black race was cursed by God, as has been perniciously taught throughout history, based on your assumption?

How many people in this discussion are willing to sign up to the notion that God, through his active and deliberate (expressly not merely permissive) will, could have intentionally made the races differ statistically in cognitive abilities without doing evil?

You can sign me up, Zippy. No problem there.

It's certainly possible, and would not be evil if true, but I think it highly unlikely, as we have nothing from the Deposit of Faith even hinting at this.

Or am I missing something?

The obvious elasticity of racial categories, as demonstrated by the fact that races change with the conception of every new human being, contrasts sharply with the temporal permanence of sex differences as instituted by God from the beginning. I think the burden of proof is on those who would insist that racial differences be treated as something other than "nature taking its course" under God's permissive will from a theological standpoint.

I think Jeff C. brings up something very important when he mentions the elasticity of racial categories and contrasts this with the division into sexes. I realize that this is more pertinent to the question of what God _did_ do than of what God _could_ have done. For that matter, God _could_ have made multiple Adam-Eve-type pairs, commanded their offspring not to intermarry, and made this command part of his revelation. But in that case we wouldn't have the human race in a meaningfully similar sense to what it actually is at all, would we?

So things get a bit complicated when we're trying to keep enough things constant for it to be meaningful to talk about "mankind" at all while at the same time imagining something rather drastically different from what we have reason to think is actually the case. After all, if God had intervened to separate the races deliberately, interracial marriage would be wrong, I should think. But since it obviously isn't wrong, it seems to me that speculation about God's miraculously making racial differences is very nearly in the realm of speculation about God's making alien beings and hence is a little oddly placed in a discussion about the human race itself.

I'm not at all sure that the fact that one individual human has less intelligence than another is, or indicates, a failure of that individual human to fall short of his natural perfection.

You're absolutely right (and once again I have not made myself understood). Inequality is NOT an indicator of defect or even the privation of good. However, defects in intelligence, health, bodily integrity, virtue, and on and on, are the effects of original sin -i.e., they are "evils" although not usually (so far as anyone knows) the result of any particular individual fault or moral failure.

"And Jesus passing by, saw a man, who was blind from his birth: And his disciples asked him: Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." - John 9:1-3

What I'm arguing against is the temptation that some have to link human inequality with human defects. The latter is the result of the Fall; the former would exist even among all men in their perfection. Human defects are not defects because they fail to measure up to some other person or group: they are defects only with respect to the natural and supernatural end of the afflicted person or group. I hope that makes sense.

I'm less intelligent than my husband. I'm actually rather happy about this and have no desire to have it corrected in the next life. But perhaps that's your point concerning inequality in heaven.

Yes, yes, precisely. The inequality will not be "corrected" in the next life because it is not the inequality that needs correcting (although whatever correction does take place might result in greater or lesser inequality). It is possible that the level of intelligence perfectly suited to Lydia McGrew differs from that which is perfectly suited to Tim McGrew. Each of you will reach your perfection as creatures of God.

Now then, I feel myself getting in over my head theologically and I don't want to seem overconfident about my conclusions here. So please understand that I'm not a theologian nor do I play one on TV. But that's how I understand the Christian Faith thus far.

" ... but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." - John 9:1-3

More importantly, Our Lord tells us to view these defects with the eyes of faith. God turns all this brokenness to the good. And so we Christians can, in a world that is both fallen and redeemed, understand the various flaws and burdens of humanity as blessings, graciously permitted "that the works of God should be made manifest".

Jeff, I think we agree on this. The interesting thing about intelligence--yet, really, I'm not sure it's that much different from other areas of human ability--is that it comes in degree, and that certain a certain _degree_ of difference from the average or norm is I think rightly viewed as a defect whereas a lesser degree is not. Thus, I think the Down's Syndrome child is suffering a genuine privation whereas the person whose cognitive abilities are only, say, slightly below average is not.

But I suppose this is also true of things like physical ability. A person who is not an athlete is not therefore suffering a physical defect or privation, but a person who cannot walk at all is suffering a privation. And we can make up all sorts of degrees in between.

Perhaps the seeming fuzziness or arbitrariness of any line (esp. in the area of cognitive ability) between "genuine privation/understandable cause of grief" and "normal variation that makes the human world interesting" might bother some people, but I'm afraid that a lot of things, even important things, do fall on a quasi-continuum like that, and we can't get away from that fact in this world.

Thank you Lydia. I think the continuum issue was lurking behind this discussion, and I had not realized it.

How many people in this discussion are willing to sign up to the notion that God, through his active and deliberate (expressly not merely permissive) will, could have intentionally made the races differ statistically in cognitive abilities without doing evil?

I raise my hand to that one zippy . . .

That is, he is arguing against Mark's wacky contention that an actual, real and significant inherent statistical difference in cognitive abilities between races would constitute an empirical falsification of God's goodness.

. . . because I never said this, nor do I think it, or have I ever thought this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are equivocating between statistical differences, which are of course no problem, and imputing it to lower intelligence, another kettle of fish.

My position is the same as Thomas Sowell's. Statistical differences are informative and useful, but they don't show that it is due to differences in "intelligence," whatever one takes that to mean. The lower intelligence hypothesis is just that, and weak. The vast majority of empirical data, as Sowell points out, shows that there is no reason to think blacks won't perform as well as whites when the conditions are similar, and that they in fact do.

Now, it is true that I have not asserted that God actively intervened to create racial differences in intelligence (how would I know?). So your doubt is well founded; but the unstated reasons for that doubt may not be, at least in my case. The reason I don't assert that is simply because I don't know. I see no reason to deny it as a matter of theodicy, however, since racial inequality in cognitive abilities is not evil, any more than racial differences in athletic abilities or musical abilities or what have you.

Yes, you allow the theoretic possibility as I said. Tony, I understand all you say about rational souls and such quite well enough. I may have led you to believe otherwise by a reductio ad absurdum, where I wondered if you understood what having a rational soul entails.

What you, Lydia, and others have constructed is a just-so story. What does "intelligence" mean for you? It means something between being slightly disadvantaged as a Jeopardy contestant, but, not to worry, it _could_not_possibly_mean_ anything like not able to control one's emotions, delay gratification, or lack of empathy for others (if you don't know where those have led historically, or where they lead at any time philosophically, I'm at a loss). In this story "intelligence" is the sort of teasing exchange that loving husbands say to their wives. "Oh dear, I love you so even though (caresses her cheek) I'm more intelligent than you." (She smiles and looks into his eyes). I'd buy tickets to see that exchange. You don't know what intelligence is, indeed none of us do, but you seem to think a whole set of assumptions is justified, and it isn't. Apparently intelligence is known to be something whose lack could never be anything that works against your idea that it wouldn't be a social evil. Just-so. What justifies this view? Your just-so story, and nothing else.

It's a fantastic story Tony. It's question-begging. Even a perusal of the history shows that people took it to mean far more. Why did they think that? Only as a scheme to get free labor? No. Many of them were actually well-intentioned and hated the institution. Ditto for the other reasons. The idea you seem to hold is that a racial inferiority thesis would be fine for a Christian to hold, since no non-crazy person is now advancing the evils based on the inferiority thesis. So it's all good, right? That doesn't follow at all. This is about the most implausible just-so story imaginable, and you've never answered my questions about why shouldn't I think that a given race's lack of intelligence wouldn't cache out in a way that would endanger me to be near them compared to others, or make me justified in shunning that group?

Lydia:

I would suggest that if consequences are the measure, we can posit that virtually any true and general sociological fact is a natural evil. After all, there have been enough evil acts and natural evils that almost any general but true fact about group differences can be causally linked to some evil outcome or other. So the issue of consequences doesn't really get us anything: although it may point out why liberals ultimately end up thinking that all innate differences with sociological consequences are evil. I think it is pretty clear that statistical differences in ability (including intelligence) from race to race are not evil in themselves; and once we are past that conclusion, pointing out bad consequences which in part proceed causally from the fact do not make that original fact a natural evil.

Addressing the discussion more generally as opposed to Lydia's specific point about consequences, I also find skepticism about statistical differences in intelligence across racial categories to be virtually impossible to credit, other than as an ideologically driven foregone conclusion. If all sorts of other abilities vary statistically by race - and they very clearly do - then what could possibly be special about intelligence? I don't want to be reduced to psychologizing, of course, but to posit - for example - meaningful differences in artistic ability and athletic ability, just as two examples, while expressing skepticism about meaningful differences in intelligence, doesn't pass the laugh test. (One approach is to deny that there is any such thing as intelligence as a meaningful attribute. This approach also doesn't pass the laugh test, though it may suggest something about the speaker's own possession of that attribute).

On the rest of the discussion, perhaps part of the problem is that modern people tend to think in sorites when it comes to categorization of human beings as human beings: an unborn child doesn't become fully human until his sand piles of age, independence, and intelligence reach some critical mass; an infirm person in a "persistent vegetative state" doesn't possess enough intelligence or self-awareness in her sand pile to be considered "fully human". So any talk of various groups (especially groups which have in fact as an indisputable historical matter been treated atrociously -qua- group, like blacks) having more or less than other groups in their various "sand piles," is dangerously heretical. It flirts once again with that inevitable though carefully hidden product of modern liberal thought, the untermensch. (The nazis in my view, you may recall, were heretics from liberal modernity not because of the existence of the ubermensch-untermensch division of humanity inevitable in their modernist thought, but because of their explicit acknowledgment of it. An ubermensch-untermensch division of humanity is implicit in every liberalism).

This leads Step2 to ask, given the premise that statistical differences in abilities from race to race are not evil in themselves, "Is there a reason for someone to disbelieve the notion that the black race was cursed by God ... ?"

The best reason to disbelieve it is that it is false, of course. Human beings aren't human beings in Imago Dei because of various amounts of various bits of colored sand in various sand piles, and that includes the sand pile labeled "intelligence".

What does "intelligence" mean for you?
With apologies to Douglas Adams, it means something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike your various assertions of its nonexistence and/or irrelevance.
It's certainly possible, and would not be evil if true, but I think it highly unlikely, as we have nothing from the Deposit of Faith even hinting at this.

Or am I missing something?

Jeff, the only thing you may be missing is that zippy constructed a straw man, so I'm not aware of anyone who doesn't agree with his statement. The only subject I've ever argued about is the matter of "intelligence." Once I said "abilities" when I meant to say "mental abilities" so maybe I contributed to the misunderstanding, but I think the context made it plain enough.

I said: "If Asians [meaning all] had the mental capacities of what other races considered retarded, then the implications are obvious" and zippy disagreed with what I implied, but asserted as evidence what I did not, never have, and no one here does. The subject was not test scores, but known, visible, and obvious inferiority that was universal within a racial group. As I've said, I've never believed what zippy wishes to attribute to me, and he's batting down a straw man.

I would suggest that if consequences are the measure, we can posit that virtually any true and general sociological fact is a natural evil.

Wait, now, I didn't mean to be making an argument that this "is a natural evil." But couldn't we argue with _some_ plausibility (again, not dogmatically) that God probably wouldn't deliberately set this up if he knew that it would causally contribute to all manner of other human evils, even without holding that it is in itself a natural evil? It seems to me that we can.

Again, it's an argument that could be overcome by evidence to the contrary. As Jeff C. has pointed out, for example, in the case of male-female differences, we have _massive_ evidence (both from nature and from revelation) that these differences are actually wonderful things intrinsic to human nature and that God did, indeed, deliberately create them. Thus, whatever human evils have resulted from male-female differences (e.g., wife beating) must be simply and solely a human abuse of something wonderful that God made.

In the case of racial differences, we have no reason to think that God made them on purpose and some evidence that he didn't do so in the changeability of races through marriage and procreation, to which God does not seem to have placed any clear natural barrier. (That is to say, interracial marriage is not in any sense a sin against nature.)

I'm _not_ saying that such racial differences would be a natural evil, just that I can make some argument (from God-foreseen consequences) that God would not have made them by deliberate intervention, a somewhat weak and conjectural argument, but one with some weight, that is not overcome by any positive evidence that God in fact did do so.

Lydia:

I suppose if someone viewed racial differences as having mostly negative consequences and no good consequences, one might make the argument that racial differences are likely not directly willed by God. And if someone viewed intelligence as completely orthogonal to all other traits, that might make the argument seem stronger since one could posit 'good' differences without allowing for differences in intelligence. But both of those views are quite alien to my own understanding of the way human traits work generally, including race and racially-related traits in particular.

Tony, our rational faculties are our characteristically human ones. Therefore differences in our characteristic qualities have profound implications. Questions such as whether or not moral understandings have a rational basis--I think certainly yes-- and any number of other ways issues certainly do matter. On your account, God might love a slug as much as he loves us. I doubt that is true.

Whoah, hold on there bucko. Clearly, individuals differ in their rational faculties. Do you consider individuals who are more adept in this regard to be automatically more moral and loved by God? Do you think these differences imply that God loves slugs as much as people? Why, then, is it so unimaginable that group of individuals could also tend to differ in their rational faculties?

Do you think these differences imply that God loves slugs as much as people? Why, then, is it so unimaginable that group of individuals could also tend to differ in their rational faculties?

Deuce: Well Tony rightly points out that only humans have rational souls (though animals think, and presumably have souls, they are not considered rational souls). But your followup point, if I understand you correctly, is the same as mine. Namely, how much can a rational soul differ *by design* and still be a human soul? Rationality is the characteristic human quality. How much less of a characteristic quality by God's design can distributed within a race and still call it a human race? Again, we're not talking defect, because membership in the human species means you're a human whatever defects you may have. We're talking about God's intended design. Relegating inferiority to his permissive will and natural causes I think fails to resolve this, and in any case, I'm pretty sure that Tony has taken that off the table by saying racial inferiority by God's design would not be evil.

. . . would not be evil.

Or unjust if you like. God isn't unjust or cause evil, so it doesn't matter which is used.

How many people in this discussion are willing to sign up to the notion that God, through his active and deliberate (expressly not merely permissive) will, could have intentionally made the races differ statistically in cognitive abilities without doing evil?

I just realized something I need to clarify. There is an equivocation in zippy's statement that I didn't recognize at first. When I saw "differ statistically in cognitive abilities" I interpreted the whole statement to be referring to statistics --a human measure of whatever we think we're testing on a given understanding. So yeah, no problem with that, as I've said numerous times.

But if you notice, the preceeding phrase, "intentionally made the races differ . . . in cognitive abilities" it implies God's making it it so. That is an entirely different thing. My mind seized on the "differ statistically" and I thought "no problem," but missed the first part which says something very different.

God's design and accomplished will --reality-- is one thing, which can only be understood philosophically and/or theologically, and our measures of whatever component of "intelligence" we think we can test for are quite another.

To summarize, I agree that statistical differences in anything are not a problem, since it is a very thin slice of what reality at the very best, and nothing at all at worst. But I dispute that at even at a hypothetical level, that God would permit an inferiority in characteristic human qualities, which I take be be widely recognizable to one's peers. That is a philosophical and theological matter --what a thing is. I don't even know what it would mean to have such an inferiority of a characteristically human quality that would not be widely recognizable to one's peers.

This is a key distinction to make. This accidental equivocation I think has run throughout this debate, and it hit me on rereading zippy's statement that I had fallen for it too. It is a very clarifying and helpful distinction I think.

To put the main point bluntly, God does not act statistically, God acts in reality. Statistics are a human attempt to capture certain aspects of reality to the extent that it is possible, which is limited at best, and fails entirely at worst. When we reason using theology and philosophy, we are reasoning about reality as it is to the extent that we can know it, not as it can be empirically measured, if that is possible as the case may be.

When Tony and I argue over hypotheticals, we are using theology/philosophy to argue about reality, which we can approach through our God-given human rational faculties. When one argues over the meaning of IQ tests, what the numbers represent, one must shift to theology/philosophy since empirical data cannot interpret itself; the interpretation must be supplied by non-empirical means. Namely, philosophy and/or theology.

Mark, you definitely have an inferiority hangup. Inferiority is reality, in all kinds of things. You are inferior to many others, intellectually and in other respects, and it isn't wrong to say that God had a hand in that: His permissive will is not to be dismissed as unimportant. What is true for individuals might be true of any group as measured against any other group. I'd like to know why this bothers you so much.

I concede that it's uncomfortable language and often unhelpful language. And I agree with some of your points about the limitations of measuring IQ . It's also true that some people will seize on these differences and exploit them for bigoted and unsavory purposes. For these reasons and others, I wish the whole topic would go away. I encounter people everyday with intelligence that is both inferior and superior to my own, sometimes dramatically so, and in most cases it matters little. The fact can't be denied, but I find it to be cause for neither pride nor shame, and on the level of ordinary discourse it's easy to navigate. Having said that, there are important areas of life where these differences do matter, especially with respect to individuals, and you can't deny group differences in intelligence without denying individual differences as well.

I've always hated a certain worldly sentiment that I've heard expressed many times over the years: "I can tolerate anything but stupidity." I've heard it so often, in so many various forms, that I have to believe that the worship of intelligence has deep roots in some corners of neo-conservatism. The over-rating of intelligence as a personal quality is a direct road to contempt for one's fellow man. If those lacking intelligence are seen to be less human, or seen to be unintelligent because of some moral failing, then of course any decent person would want to deny that such differences exist as a safeguard against ill-treatment.

What does this mean? I'm not the first one to suggest that egalitarianism is, for many, a disguised form of hyper-elitism, the quality of being offended that so many human beings seem to be inferior in those very traits demanded and cherished by egalitarian societies.

I really should be in bed, but the discussion took an interesting turn, so I thought I'd jump in for a minute. As someone who strongly disagrees with Mark and believes that intelligence exists, can be measured, and differs in a meaningful way across racial categories (and would even sign up for Zippy's hypothetical as I don't think it has any theological problems); I just wanted to second Jeff C's sensible point about the importance of intelligence being over-rated. There are many human qualities that have been useful to civilization and not all of them are related to intelligence (courage, love, aesthetics, athletic ability, etc.) In fact, throughout human history it was often the society that was stronger, not smarter, than survived and flourished (the Romans over the Greeks, the Islamic armies conquering Christian civilizations throughout the Middle-East and North Africa, etc.) But then there is the example of Christendom which always grew and inspired men and women through Christ's sacrifice and love and then the example of the many martyrs who followed. Meanwhile the smartest race on the planet winds up in the ovens of Nazi Germany. So it's good to be smart but it's good to be a lot of qualities that make us human.

So I think the key idea is to recognize that we are all created in the image of God and our differences don't matter and are in fact to be celebrated as part of divine creation just as we celebrate the diversity and wonder of life on the planet.

As an aside: it's no coincidence that egalitarian societies are intolerant of differences in intelligence, and even scandalized by them. Aristocracy is despised right along with the very existence of lower classes. The ideal is "middle class" culture for everyone, or if not for everyone, then the higher and lower ends of the curve must conform culturally even if they serve other purposes economically. It's the same attitude that despises both the poor and illiterate immigrant and those who are socially privileged by birth or some other unmerited favor. Among respectable people, such disparities are dealt with by denial rather than contempt, but the denial is equally (though unintentionally) insulting.

you can't deny group differences in intelligence without denying individual differences as well.

Denying that a certain quality is not equally distributed across a group does not imply denying individual differences. That's just a misunderstanding.

You are inferior to many others, intellectually and in other respects, and it isn't wrong to say that God had a hand in that: His permissive will is not to be dismissed as unimportant. What is true for individuals might be true of any group as measured against any other group. I'd like to know why this bothers you so much.

Jeff, my race isn't inferior to any other, thank you very much. There is no reason whatever to think it is, and lot's of reasons to think it isn't. I don't see the force of your assertions, and your "inferiority complex" idea is humorous. The nature of man should not be treated so casually as you seem to suggest. I'll tell you where the argument Tony and I are having will end up, and maybe that will help.

There is a shift in meaning in this debate over "intelligence," as in most of them informed by the IQ paradigm in recent decades. Sometimes it is taken to mean "know-how." Like the ability to type, for example. Or the ability to do chemistry problems. If that is what is meant by "intelligence," then I'll grant that it makes sense to say "My husband is more intelligent that I am, and I don't mind if he reminds me of this," even though any man knows he'd be sleeping on the couch for a month no matter what he means by "intelligence." But whatever. The meaning is that he can do certain things better in the realm of know-how. But that isn't the classical meaning, or at least doesn't exhaust the classical meaning, nor the current one most of the time.

Intelligence as often means the characteristic human rational quality. Man with his rational soul, the rational animal. This is, whatever capacities are required to be human. The ability of the rational part to govern the emotions to the extent required for normal life, etc. In fact, know-how depends upon this general intelligence capacity. You could call it "common-sense" I suppose, but it is part an parcel of the rational human nature. But "know-how" and the classic understanding of "intelligence" are related of course.

Means-ends reasoning is required for performing properly even most rudimentary moral judgments as God made humans to do. As opposed to know-how, which we can measure to a certain degree, I strongly reject any notion that a number can be placed on this classicly termed "intelligence" capacity. I suspect others would agree, but the point is that this is a very different thing than "know-how." Naturally, this form of intelligence in normally functioning humans determines whether one is a member of the human race: the rational animal. One aspect would be the capacity to acquire certain types 'f know-how. Children can acquire this capacity, whereas porpoises cannot unless you're Carl Sagan. Beings that are inferior in this type of "intelligence" *by design and not defect* wouldn't be just dumber, they'd be a sub-human life form. We're talking about inferiority of the characteristic human capacity. Necessary and essential. There is every reason to think this inferiority would mean less control over the emotions, less effective ends-means reasoning required for rudimentary moral judgments, and such. If man is "neither beast nor God," these would be "neither beast nor man." They'd be something else. Another species. In fact, we know from history that this is exactly what was posited by those who were thought to be of a lower intelligence. There is no reason at all to think that we use the term "intelligence" in this sense and hypothetically and limit the damage to a rational being such that it would still be fully human.

Either rationality is the characteristic human quality or it isn't. Higher animals think, but we don't consider them rational because they don't reason in the requisite ways to be human. Angels are rational, but they are super-human, and probably don't inhabit this planet for a reason--our sakes. If rationality is a characteristic quality, then how do you know beings inferior on that score would be human? I can't think of any reason to assume this, nor can I think of any reason to credit the notion that we even should treat as human a race of beings with a less rational nature than our own, let alone whether a just God would assign such beings between beasts and man on our planet. If this all sounds sci-fi, it is, but not any more so than these just-so stories of hypothetical beings inferior to us by design in characteristic capacities but still fully human by some authorial fiat that is unclear to me.

Mark, it almost sounds like you're saying that this characteristic human quality in which groups cannot differ is something that cannot come in degrees. Yet, sometimes it seems that you can't be saying that. If this quality does come in degrees, are you saying that all _individual_ humans have it to the same degree, because if any individual didn't have it in the same degree as any other, he would be sub-human? Would God permit individual humans to differ in any degree at all in this quality of means-end reasoning or rationality? Yet, you also say that children "can acquire" it, so it must differ in degree over an individual's lifetime. So must all humans, in order not to be suffering from (at least) tragic defect eventually acquire the same amount of it?

I guess I'm having a lot of trouble getting a grip on this quality, on what it's like, and on how it can differ so sharply from anything remotely like or related to ability. I suppose one could call it "minimal functionality," and anything beyond that--the ability to do or to learn to do hard math problems for example--would be called "know-how." But that seems rather artificial. It would also define one into correctness in saying that any lack of this quality (now defined as "minimal human functionality") must be a tragic loss to the individual and a natural evil.

Deuce: Well Tony rightly points out that only humans have rational souls (though animals think, and presumably have souls, they are not considered rational souls). But your followup point, if I understand you correctly, is the same as mine. Namely, how much can a rational soul differ *by design* and still be a human soul? Rationality is the characteristic human quality. How much less of a characteristic quality by God's design can distributed within a race and still call it a human race?

You totally missed my point. Let me reiterate:

1. It is simply obvious that individuals differ in their rational faculties, and I'm not simply talking about those who are mentally retarded. Do you deny this?

2. I deny that individuals with greater rational faculties are superior, or that those with less are inferior, as human beings. Do you deny this?

3. If individuals can differ in their rational faculties, then groups can differ in their average rational faculties, because groups are made up of individuals. Do you deny this?

Jeff C:

The over-rating of intelligence as a personal quality is a direct road to contempt for one's fellow man.
Amen, Brother! St. Joseph of Cupertino, pray for us!

Look at it this way:

Racism is a form of contempt for fellow human beings based on a real natural category, with real sociological consequences, to which we belong: race[*]. The liberal idea of equality results in an anti-racism which retains this contempt for racial differences, but attempts to deal with it by willing all of the real world consequences of those differences out of existence. (And again, in setting itself against reality the liberal idea of equality inevitably gives rise to a functional superman/subhuman distinction which everyone refuses to talk about in those terms, because it is all that separates us from the Nazi).

Only by abandoning the liberal idea of equality can we come to authentically celebrate the diversity of Creation.

[*] I do grant that race is a more plastic category than sex: it is a category like "family", not "species". But as far as I can tell, that - the fact that race is a natural category with "edge cases", that interracial marriage is not against the natural law, etc - doesn't weaken the point in the slightest.

Lydia, "this quality" isn't the rational soul Tony and I have been talking about. What qualities does is have?

Duece, it all depends on what you have in mind when you say "greater rational faculties."

And again, in setting itself against reality the liberal idea of equality inevitably gives rise to a functional superman/subhuman distinction which everyone refuses to talk about in those terms, because it is all that separates us from the Nazi

This is something I've pointed out before. The ugly implication of "All people are equal [in the liberal sense]" is "So if you're not equal, you're not a person".

To see how this logic plays itself out in the real world, you need only look at abortion. The liberal will insist that all individuals are exactly materially equal to all other individuals, until they reach some arbitrary point at which their material inequality is too great for the liberal to deny. When that point is reached, the liberal declares them a non-person, completely lacking in humanness, fit to be discarded or experimented on at leisure.

That's why liberals go so bonkers over this equality stuff. Somewhere, tucked away in their subconscious, is their guilty understanding of how they treat people who aren't "equal" enough. They know that to admit material inequality would force them to put the unequal members of the human race into the same category in which they place human babies five minutes before their birth, which would imply that those people have less rights (or even no rights) and may justifiably be treated as sub-human, or that liberals have done great evil by promoting abortion on the basis of a fetus's inequality.

Duece, it all depends on what you have in mind when you say "greater rational faculties."

Okay, then, for the sake of argument, let's just define it as "ability to do well on IQ tests". The ability to do well on IQ tests differs between humans, and is largely biological and heritable. Unsurprisingly, the same abilities that tend to allow one to do well on IQ tests also tend to allow them to do well in school, as well as a variety of jobs that involve difficult mental tasks. I say that if it's true that some groups possess more of this ability than others that it doesn't make them any less human.

Remember, this whole thing started as a conversation about *school performance*, and (indirectly) whether some groups innately possess more abilities to be successful at it than others, on average. It was *YOU* who claimed that such ability was a defining feature of humanity itself, who identified it with the possession of a rational soul, and who turned it into a conversation about whether having less of such ability makes one sub-human.

Lydia, look at it this way. You've defended the idea of accepting prejudice as a prudential measure, and I've concurred. The idea is that group A is more likely than other groups to display criminality, one would be justified in telling one's children "stay away from that group, they tend to do x." Right? Now baked into that, and probably communicated to the kids as well, is an understanding that if and when their group declines in this propensity to do X (and a hope that someday they will) that this prejudice will be lifted.

Now we know that one of the key aspects of human rationality is that it allows humans the capacity to govern their emotions. Now if you had a race whose rationality was degraded *as a narwal feature of their race* then wouldn't you be so justified in this prejudice as well? But in this case the 2nd order capacity to govern the emotions could never be developed so that one day this race might be no more likely than any other to have this control we expect adults to develop. Wouldn't you be justified in making sure you family never came in contact with them? Wouldn't you be obligated to have them locked up by law? Or putting them in cages? What reason would you give for why this race shouldn't forever be locked up?

Has common sense left the room? Of course, there are differences in endowments of natural gifts. So, what? Am I supposed to love anyone less? I am not a visual artist. I simply cannot see that way. As one of my private instrumental lesson professors said to me in graduate school, "Your purpose is to become the best performer YOU can be.". I am meant to perform to my 100%, not someone else's. Besides, moral wisdom is not correlated with intelligence, as there are plenty of intelligent scoundrels.

We should spend time debating the minimum common standards a person needs to perform in society and try to get as many people as possible there, then, let those who need to, go farther. It physically hurts for me to play the piano, since I don't have the same right/left independence in cortical processing as most people (perhaps due to my brainstem issue) and both I and my professors in graduate music realized this. We concentrated on getting me to the minimum level to pass the piano requirements. I can always program a computer to do the piano playing, when I really need to. I am an excellent musicologist, but a mediocre composer. There are so many variations in ability, even in just music, that it is really difficult for some not to be able to find a place to make a contribution. It is possible for someone to be very good at both musicology and psychoacoustics and, yet, have difficulties in playing the piano. On the other hand, I am one of the best woodwind player in the country (relatively speaking).

It is possible for someone to have frightening computational skills, but not be able to do abstract math. Likewise, it is possible for one to have middling abilities in both. The whole intelligence thing is so gross a measure of a person's abilities that I tend to avoid it where possible. I try to focus on drawing out the best in each person and let their assignment in life be a matter between them and their God. Simplify, simplify. If schools would simply spend the money on simple things, necessary things, the rest would take care of itself. Make sure everyone can add numbers with a pencil and paper; make sure that everyone can write simple CLEAR sentences; make sure that everyone understands basic morals. One usually cheats not when one can't do something, but when one can, but doesn't appreciate the effort involved until too late.

Ultimately, too many people spend time trying to impress other people instead of getting to know themselves. Perhaps if we knew ourselves better, if we were more honest with ourselves, we might have more honesty in the classroom.

In any case, most people have such distorted expectations, these days, that if they don't get a car and expense account as a starting bonus for work, they won't take the job. My father once commented when I had to take a less that high profile job to make ends meet -"it's honest work.". I have always used that as my standard for anything I do. Is the job honest work? Is the goal worthwhile? Am I giving a good account of myself? More than anything else, if education would stick to answering these three questions, we would produce an ethical harvest of students and have constant enjoyment on them.

The Chicken

Bullwinkle: "Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.".

Rocky: Again?. That trick never works...

Uhhmm...that should have read:

More than anything else, if education would stick to answering these three questions, we would produce a harvest of ethical students and have constant enjoyment in them.

The Chicken

The idea is that group A is more likely than other groups to display criminality, one would be justified in telling one's children "stay away from that group, they tend to do x." Right?

Wrong. Forget race. We already know that there is an inverse statistical correlation between IQ and criminality, that individuals differ in IQ, and that IQ is largely heritable. So there is one human group to which your statement certainly implies: people with low IQ (relative to any IQ number you choose). By your logic, I would be justified in telling my child, "People who are less intelligent than you are more likely to display criminality, so you should stay away from them."

whose rationality was degraded *as a narwal feature of their race*

Why does possessing less of something than someone else mean that what you have is "degraded"? Do Asians have "degraded" height? Do white people have "degraded" melanin? Is there some degree of intelligence that is the correct non-degraded amount to have? Is everyone who is less intelligent than Einstein degraded, or was he super-undegraded?

Wouldn't you be justified in making sure you family never came in contact with [individuals of low intelligence]? Wouldn't you be obligated to have [individuals of low intelligence] locked up by law? Or putting them in cages? What reason would you give for why this [group of people] shouldn't forever be locked up?

I fixed it for you so you can see how silly it is.

Besides, moral wisdom is not correlated with intelligence, as there are plenty of intelligent scoundrels.

Yes, exactly. Intelligent people are less likely to be criminal (because they're better at doing and thinking bad things while not violating the technical letter of the law, and at hiding or getting away with illegal activity when they do it), but no more likely to be moral.

Mark, I just think you're moving way too fast. For one thing, I never said that I would be justified in telling my children to stay away from all members of any racial group. As I recall, what we discussed were natural parental concerns about having significant numbers of inner-city kids (who would be disproportionately racial minorities, but I was explicitly talking about inner-city culture, which could affect individuals of various races) enter schools that presently have good behavior and good academics.

I believe I also tied the problem to the fact that schools, esp. those that accept govt. money, don't have the latitude they should have to kick students out and to separate students who (turn out to) want to learn from those who don't. There, of course, I'm thinking of kicking them out after the school sees that they don't behave.

Actually, the extent to which one shows "prejudice" in cases where one doesn't have time or leisure, or the stakes are too high, to get individual evidence, always depends on the evidence one has about group behavior _now_. It really has nothing to do with what one hopes might or could be the case in the future. For example, I tell my girls that if ever, God forbid, they are lost, they should seek a woman, never a man. This has to do with evidence right now about the probability of greater safety in a lost child's seeking help from a woman. It makes no difference _whatsoever_ to that advice that I don't ever expect this to change. I expect that it will _always_ be safer for a lost child to seek help from a woman than from a man, but this doesn't mean that I want men locked up.

Similarly, I think it's understandable that a cab driver in certain neighborhoods late at night would not want to pick up a black, male customer. This is a combination of not only race but also gender, neighborhood, possibly the way a prospective customer is dressed, and high stakes (the possibility, based on past evidence, that the cabbie will be murdered or beaten up). If I thought that this would change later, that wouldn't change my evaluation of the cabbie's rationality and justification _now_, based on all those factors. And if I thought that it wouldn't change later, that wouldn't change my advice to the cabbie or to anyone else. (And note, again, the various factors coming into play here--gender (but I don't want all men locked up), clothing and appearance (but I don't want all people in scruffy clothing locked up), neighborhood (but I don't want all people in a particular neighborhood locked up).)

So, no, I completely disagree with you that if one is justified in some sort of "prejudiced" behavior towards some group, and if one doesn't think it at all plausible that those group differences will change, one would be justified in advocating horrible and drastic measures towards that group. One always should apportion one's behavior to the circumstances right now anyway, so what differences does it make whether things are ever going to change?

I think you're also going way too fast from "lessened self-control" to "the self control we expect adults to develop." Obviously, again, we're talking about some sort of threshhold. Not everyone who has _less_ self-control than someone else fails to meet a minimal threshhold for adult behavior. Heck, I have a terrible temper, almost certainly inherited from my biological father. I never met him, but from all I hear he was a petty tyrant and a very bad man. I have much less self-control on that axis than plenty of other people I know, yet I manage to get by. People with problems in some area of self-control can nevertheless learn and get by. It's not like everybody with somewhat less rational self-control than a hypothetical average (much less a hypothetical ideal) is destined to become a terrible criminal, or a criminal at all. It's probably fair to say that someone with such a problem needs a good surrounding culture _even more_ than someone who is naturally calm and well-behaved. Hence, social policies that tear apart families and cultural boundaries are likely to be especially detrimental if there are biological variations in average self-control and if those policies disproportionately affect the populations that most need the strong, good culture. An argument for not doing harm with public policy, but not an argument for locking up whole populations.

So I just think you're going much too fast on all sorts of different fronts here.

Speaking topically of intelligent scoundrels, the Department of Education is full of them.

Okay, then, for the sake of argument, let's just define it as "ability to do well on IQ tests".

Sure, no problem so far.

The ability to do well on IQ tests differs between humans, and is largely biological and heritable.

Bzzzt. These are philosophical assumptions about the data that has not been shown to be "biological and heritable." IQ varies widely over time, individually and in groups.

Unsurprisingly, the same abilities that tend to allow one to do well on IQ tests also tend to allow them to do well in school, as well as a variety of jobs that involve difficult mental tasks. I say that if it's true that some groups possess more of this ability than others that it doesn't make them any less human.

I didn't say it did. You aren't even paying attention. I posited that a just God could not create a race of persons whose normal level of intelligence is such that if one of them were a member of my race that I'd consider him retarded. Tony accepted this challenge. You are grossly mistaken that I believe that scoring lower on IQ scores makes one less human. I stupulated an inferiority, and Tony bit the bullet and took the challenge. The argument has nothing to do with statistics or IQ tests!

Has common sense left the room? Of course, there are differences in endowments of natural gifts.

Masked one, this is an obvious truth, but has nothing to do with the debate Tony and I are having. Since he's not commenting at the moment, and you and duece don't grasp what the disagreement is, there isn't a point in continuing with either of you. No offense, but Lydia is the only one making salient points.

Besides, moral wisdom is not correlated with intelligence, as there are plenty of intelligent scoundrels.

Masked one: I forgot to say that neither are they unrelated on most accounts I find at all plausible. We are uniquely rational, and we have a unique moral sense. It isn't an accident. Without a certain capacities, we'd all be scoundrels.

Bzzzt. These are philosophical assumptions about the data that has not been shown to be "biological and heritable." IQ varies widely over time, individually and in groups.

Mark, are you aware at all of how they determine these things? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ#Correlations

I didn't say it did. You aren't even paying attention.

Wrong. In response to Tony saying it was possible that there are any group difference in mental capacity at all (not just difference to the level of mental retardation), you said: "Tony, our rational faculties are our characteristically human ones. Therefore differences in our characteristic qualities have profound implications. Questions such as whether or not moral understandings have a rational basis--I think certainly yes-- and any number of other ways issues certainly do matter. On your account, God might love a slug as much as he loves us. I doubt that is true." Sounds a lot like you are equating "mental capacity" with the rational soul, and saying that if any people have less of it, it implies that they are less human and less meriting of God's love.

I posited that a just God could not create a race of persons whose normal level of intelligence is such that if one of them were a member of my race that I'd consider him retarded.

Actually, what you said was: "For a Christian it comes down to this? Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not. There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard." Sounds a lot like you were reacting against the possibility of *any* difference in intelligence, not just to the level of mental retardation.

Oh, and just for the record, I consider the jury to be out on whether, and to what extent if so, there are genuinely significant differences in intelligence between major groups. But I object *very* strongly to the notion that those aspects of intelligence that are measurable (and which *are* partly heritable, whether you like it or not), are tantamount to a person's "rational soul", or imply that they are less human or less moral. If such average differences do exist between people groups, it does not make them "inferior", and you should be very wary of committing yourself to a position that implies otherwise.

What Deuce said at 3:55. Spot on.

I completely disagree with you that if one is justified in some sort of "prejudiced" behavior towards some group, and if one doesn't think it at all plausible that those group differences will change, one would be justified in advocating horrible and drastic measures towards that group.

Lydia, I posited racial differences along those lines and Tony accepted the philosophical challenge. I admire him for that. zippy won't even clearly say what he thinks on this. Of course you wouldn't tell kids not to associate with any members of a racial group in this world for the obvious reasons you stated, but in the one Tony and I are debating why wouldn't you? Because in this world you only have the association about places with "disproportionately racial minorities," but in the hypothetical one I posited and that Tony accepted the degraded intelligence does accord with racial lines in a fully observable way with no need whatever for statistics.

I never said, and do not think, that in this world that one would be justified in cruel treatment if the behavior was thought unlikely to change. I posited a race of people who's nature denied the possibility of change. Surely you see the difference. Such a race would be a danger to us, and we to them. It would upset the entire moral order. You aren't grasping the hypothetical nature of the argument, or you don't wish to.

I think you're also going way too fast from "lessened self-control" to "the self control we expect adults to develop."

Well, my whole point is that a lot of people are going way too fast in glibly denying all manner of things in "just-so" stories that begs the question about what differences in "intelligence" might actually mean, and did actually mean historically. I didn't notice any worries over "moving fast" then. It is the point of philosophical thought experiments to move fast. Give hypotheticals that can provide some clarity. But so far you haven't acknowledged the hypothetical nature of the debate so we're at an impasse.

But I object *very* strongly to the notion that those aspects of intelligence that are measurable (and which *are* partly heritable, whether you like it or not), are tantamount to a person's "rational soul", or imply that they are less human or less moral. If such average differences do exist between people groups, it does not make them "inferior", and you should be very wary of committing yourself to a position that implies otherwise.

Duece, that isn't what I'm saying. And as for the wikipedia page on correlations, this isn't a thorough treatment. In any case it doesn't prove what you think.

Here are the first two of the relevants links already posted in this thread for someone who wishes to understand the issues:

http://www.cato-unbound.org/archives/november-2007/

http://www.tsowell.com/speducat.html

Mark:

Here are the first two of the relevants links already posted in this thread for someone who wishes to understand the issues:

Whether or not there are significant racial differences (which is the topic that your links address) is a separate question from whether IQ is heritable at all. The .75 correlation in identical twins raised apart should be sufficient to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that whatever the factors are that end up determining the score a person can get on an IQ test (and we don't know what they are exactly), many of them are genetically heritable.

Mark, I think Deuce really has you as far as your earlier, rather strong statement, which did not restrict your comments only to a hypothetical in which every member or the majority of members of a particular racial group is (on across-the-board measures) mentally retarded. You said expressly, "Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not. There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard." As Deuce says, that sounds like a very sweeping claim about inequality and mental capacities, and it's even stronger considering that you appear to mean by "distribute" even for God to _allow_ the distribution by natural causes.

Now, suppose that at this point the only hypothetical question you want to stick to is this: "Would God either bring about or permit the arising of an entire racial group of human beings whose biologically coded capacities were such that, for either the majority or all of them, on across-the-board measures, they would be considered mentally retarded?"

My own take is that very probably God would not bring that about deliberately, for the reasons of consequences I've already discussed with Zippy (strengthened by the extreme nature of your scenario). Nor, by the way, do I think that that's anything like the real-world situation we are in. Nor, as far as I know, does anyone in this discussion think that that is the real situation we are in.

As far as God's permitting such a hypothetical, considering the utter horrors that we _know_ God permits (you know, the Holocaust, little girls being horrifically murdered, millions of people throughout history suffering with painful and horrible diseases, etc.), I don't see how we could possibly rule out God's permitting your scenario a priori. It seems there is virtually nothing we can rule out a priori God's merely _permitting_--this based simply on our own experience--except, I suppose, one rational being's having the power literally to steal another rational being's eternal soul, or something wild like that in the spiritual realm.

As far as what extreme measures would be justified if such a wild and extreme scenario came about, I'm not at all sure I agree with you there, because I know of plenty of mentally retarded people who are unusually gentle and hence far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators--and for that matter more likely than non-retarded people to be victimized. If such a disadvantaged group of people ended up in our highly complicated world, however, they would certainly need to be taken care of. As for those who were alleged to harm others or to be dangerous, I think that wd. have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis, and concepts like burden of proof and innocence until guilt (or significant, individual danger to others) is proven would still apply, as they do in our criminal system for juveniles.

I would, btw, consider that extreme scenario a natural evil, but only because I consider mental retardation in the individual case to be a natural evil. Not because of inequality between groups or between individuals. As I said upthread, though these things lie on a quasi-continuum, there is a threshhold below which the lack of capacity may legitimately be regarded as a privation. Genuine human mental retardation is in the mental sphere akin to being physically crippled.

The best reason to disbelieve it is that it is false, of course. Human beings aren't human beings in Imago Dei because of various amounts of various bits of colored sand in various sand piles, and that includes the sand pile labeled "intelligence".

By your own argument, falsity is no obstacle to belief. You are accusing all of modernity of being based on the false standard of intrinsic equality, then you act like nobody would EVER hold a false belief, much less one that victimizes innocent people. After presenting this historically false and completely naive about the consequences of promoting the idea of divinely created racial inequality, you then accuse all liberals of being crypto-Nazis as well. Which is a brilliant and original deduction you have proven beyond any reasonable doubt, and especially effective in winning internet debates.

Step2:

By your own argument, falsity is no obstacle to belief.
Not that it has anything to do with my specific assessment of political liberalism; but yes, all sorts of people hold all sorts of false beliefs all the time.
... then you act like nobody would EVER hold a false belief, much less one that victimizes innocent people.
I have no idea where you get that from. You are usually more coherent than that.

Is the idea is that I ought to support liberalism even though I think it is false and incoherent, because liberalism (even though false) protects people from even more destructive false ideologies, like its (in my view) close cousin Naziism?

If that is the idea, then I guess all I can say is that the truth matters, and ultimately it is more destructive to avoid the truth than it is to face it. Admittedly though I take that on faith.

Wow, what a thread.

I'd just like to say that Zippy's contributions here have reminded me (not that I'd forgotten) what a privilege it was to count myself among his co-bloggers - at least for a little while.

Just one point where we might disagree: "The clay shakes it's fist in outrage at the potter."

All too often, I don't think it's obviously wrong for the clay to do just that.

Mark,

Please, do not insult me. Do you, seriously, think that belonging to cohorts of both scientists and musicians, all of whom are fiercely competitive, that this subject would not have come up in a hush-hush sort of way? I have simply decided to love my neighbor and not worry about innate matters I have no control over. I rarely engage in a discussion of racial differences because what would be the point? I do not hold to a Brave New World of Alphas and Betas, Gammas, and Deltas. Lydia asked a serious question (one I will get to in a subsequent comment), but it seems to have gotten a bit side-tracked.

As for I. Q. being correlated with moral wisdom, you must know that theology makes a distinction between knowledge and wisdom. I quote you two things:

Before determining the subjects or potencies in which the different virtues reside, it will be necessary to distinguish two kinds of virtues: those which are virtues absolutely (simpliciter) and those which are virtues only in a restricted sense (secundum quid). The later confer only a faculty for well-doing, and render the possessor good only in a restricted sense, e.g. a good logician. The former, in addition to the facility for well-doing, cause one to use the facility rightly, and render the possessor unqualifiedly good. Now the intellect may be the subject of those habits which are called virtues in a restricted sense, such as science and art. But the will only, or any other faculty only in so far as it is moved by the will, can be the subject of habits, which are called virtues in the absolute sense. For it is the proper function of the will to move to their respective acts all the other powers which are in any way rational. Thus the intellect and sensuous appetite as moved by the will are the subjects of prudence and temperance, while the will itself is the subject of justice, a virtue in the absolute sense. [Catholic Encyclopedia - Virtue]

And

On the contrary, It is written (Isaiah 11:2): "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him; the spirit of wisdom and of understanding."

I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Metaph. i: 2), it belongs to wisdom to consider the highest cause. By means of that cause we are able to form a most certain judgment about other causes, and according thereto all things should be set in order. Now the highest cause may be understood in two ways, either simply or in some particular genus. Accordingly he that knows the highest cause in any particular genus, and by its means is able to judge and set in order all the things that belong to that genus, is said to be wise in that genus, for instance in medicine or architecture, according to 1 Corinthians 3:10: "As a wise architect, I have laid a foundation." On the other hand, he who knows the cause that is simply the highest, which is God, is said to be wise simply, because he is able to judge and set in order all things according to Divine rules.

Now man obtains this judgment through the Holy Ghost, according to 1 Corinthians 2:15: "The spiritual man judgeth all things," because as stated in the same chapter (1 Corinthians 2:10), "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." Wherefore it is evident that wisdom is a gift of the Holy Ghost.

[ST. II.II Q 45]

So, moral wisdom is a gift, simpliciter, whereas intelligence is a gift, secundum quid. One attaches to universals, the other to specifics. My point still stands. You have made an incorrect association of intelligence to wisdom. By all accounts, St. Bernadette was a very simple individual in terms of intelligence and yet, she had an extraordinary wisdom and moral virtue. Would I want to be surrounded by a cadre of such people, even though, by worldly standards, they are less intelligent? Of course.

Lower intelligence? What does that mean? Since certain gifts are infused at baptism that enable a man to see rightly and since prudence has as its goal exactly that ability, one can be prudent without having a naturally high intelligence. Asians are not, as far as I can see, morally superior to anyone by right of their natural intelligence. By the same token, Blacks are not morally inferior, even if they might have a lower overall intelligence (a point I have no concern about).

Intelligence is connected to truth; the will is connected to the appetites. A lower intelligence does not necessarily indicate a lack of control of the emotions, since the will and the intellect are different faculties and are connected only as per individual situations.

So, no. I would have no trouble being surrounded by people who could not reason very well, as long as they could see, by a sort of supernatural intuition, that certain actions are moral and ought to be followed. That intuition is pure gift from God, available to anyone, if they but ask and are willing to pay the price.

Why then, are some groups more prone to violence or sexual imprudence? Simply put, and I suspect you will disagree with me, it is because they have a need for power. St. Paul said that when he was weak, he was strong and:

At that time Jesus declared, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will." [Matt 11:25 - 26]

These things, namely wisdom, come to those who allow themselves to be the merest of children.

As for your question about walking among the violent and sexually imprudent, what would you say to Christ? He, certainly, had the perfections of both intelligence and wisdom, far beyond that of any mere man, but by your logic, he should have avoided us poor brutes, since we could not be trusted not to knife him in the back. Yet, he, because of love, felt impelled to come to us poor people and be among us, knowing the risk.

How are the violent and lustful ever going to learn the path of true virtue if we do not go to them? We may die, but that would be a glorious death for a noble cause and we must keep on going until evil is finally overcome. To do otherwise would show that we, despite any intellectual superiority, have failed to grasp the one essential thing: that the things of this world (including intelligence) are passing. Only love remains. In the final stages of your life, you will be examined, not by I. Q. tests or depth of knowledge, but by love. We are all sinners, even the most intelligent of us. We can only know the essential things with the heart. You are to love your neighbor as yourself, but if your neighbor be not so intelligent as you, the command remains and it is a universal, so let's have no more talk of intellectual differences this-and-that. You MUST love, so your love must be able to encompass all men, regardless of intelligence or it is no real love. So, it is up to each person to figure out how to do that in this day, at this time and right here. You simply must will the good of everyone, even those prone to want to kill you because of whatever defects of nature or supernature they may have. You must. If they cannot see the path of virtue because of a natural defect, you must show them it in your own actions.

No. That's it. One word. How much does it take to turn around sexual immorality? Does it take a radical program of philosophy and logic impressed on a mind incapable of receiving it? Certainly not. It takes one word. No. That,"No,", however, has to be a signal of love in the heart of the one uttering it. It cannot be a signal of power. Even the most hard-hearted of feminists can say no and maintain a sterile chastity, borne of the need to control, but the, "No," of a child, who knows that simple acts can lead to complicated and evil results, never has to worry about being sterile. That, "No," can be understood only in love and that act of love never dies.

Teach a man to think and he could, nevertheless, stand on the precipice of war; teach a man to love and he will go from life to Life Everlasting. Violence and lust are results of the Fall. They can be overcome, but not easily and not by intelligence, only. Indeed, intelligence never defines the end, only the means. Only a will open to the mind of God can overcome these things. In the final analysis, it is his Intellect we must accept and not our own.

Can some people not understand right from wrong, be brought to the proper consideration of the way they ought to act? Regrettably, yes, but of such people, God has forseen and chosen to walk, even among such as they. Can we do anything different?

The Chicken

Does it follow that if only we get hold of the children and get them into Head-Start early, flog and bribe their teachers with achievement test goals, and otherwise engage in manic levels of activity, we can make those children actually learn and do well on tests of knowledge? Actually, it doesn't.

While I agree with this, in toto, the problem is what one does with the children after one has then, no? The problem is that once the educators have them, they don't know what to do with them. Give the children to those who are wise in the ways of children and they might very well turn around, even despite the evil human freedoms the children might encounter, otherwise. What we don't have are educators who are wise in the ways of children. No ed-psych course can really give one that insight. At best ed-psych courses are courses in political persuasion. Ed-psychology is so infantile in its level of development that most of what it teaches can be reduced to a single paragraph (no offense to Piaget).

It should come as no surprise that, just as, in modern times, many virtuous men are denied the priesthood, that many wise-in-the-way-of-children men are denied the priesthood of the educator. Why is that? It is because a creeping politicism has made the men assigned to selecting good candidates choose only those that have been molded to their often cowardly standards. The really good candidates, those with a natural genius, are often turned away because their instincts fly farther than the mind of the judges can grasp.

One reason I have never sought an education license is because I know how to do research and I would have to politely correct many of the notions in the ed-psych class I might be in. That, of course, would get me thrown out. Dewey's system of education, let's face it, is an education based on power. It is a bully's educational method. St. John Bosco, now, there was a man who never took an education course in his life and would probably be rejected by today's education system, but he had a natural genius for relating to children. We are far from recognizing such people, but they reside in every city. Some are even called, Father and Mother. If we could give the educational system over to such men and women and shut all other mouths, we might see a turn-around in the education in this country. The way things stand, those cheating educators in Atlanta were being good little politcrats, whose fear of losing their jobs made them easy prey for the power-mongers in the educational establishment.

I don't agree that it is human freedoms that have made the mess in the inner city. It is the same old human slavery to appetites and fancy jewelry that have always been the case that has done it. It is just more concentrated in the inner city and therefore, more obvious, but the will to satisfy the appetites exists in many white rich cities, and even though there it is called being shrewd and it produces a generation that passes exams, nevertheless, it produces the same old moral idiots, only in fancier clothes.

I guess that we have spared the rod and spoilt the child so often that we can't even find a good knife and wood to make new ones. Oh, I can fix the current education mess (he said, pridefully, smugly), but no one would stand for even the first rule of mine: shut up and listen. If we could just get people to shut up and listen, it would be the beginning of a revolution.

The Chicken

Masked One: I'm sorry if you were insulted. That was not my intent. I was commenting very quickly on a break at work. I understand all you are saying, and certainly on the difference between nowledge and wisdom, about but I don't see the relevance to matter at hand. I don't think you've grasped the hypothetical Tony and I were discussing, or why it matters. I'll comment a bit more in response to Lydia if that helps.

No ed-psych course can really give one that insight.

Too true, MC. Just the opposite, I shd. think. Education courses are often the very death of common sense. I shall never forget: About eleven years ago I learned of a fad then big in the schools (maybe still is, for all I know) called "creative spelling." Children were deliberately taught to mis-spell words in order--so ran the theory--to get them to write sooner without "worrying" about spelling correctly. In fact, the supposed genius of this fad was to eliminate vowels, so that children were taught to spell "because" as "bkz." It was text before texting, you might say. A friend of mine with a child in the public school was tearing her hair out, because her daughter was being thoroughly confused about reading by this "creative spelling" method of teaching language arts. I gave or loaned her a copy of Rudolf Flesch, and she taught her daughter to read by herself. The teacher was thrilled by the daughter's inexplicable "progress."

A few years after _that_, I met a nice young couple of whom the wife was home schooled but had then gone on to take, you guessed it, ed. in college. We were having a nice lunch, and I told her the story of "bkz" spelling, assuming that she would join me in shaking heads over it. Instead, she launched into an earnest defense of it on the grounds that vowels are so difficult for children to learn, so it helps them to eliminate vowels at first. Obviously what she'd learned in ed school.

I'm convinced: In ed. school, they have an operation on the first day of class. They open up the young people's heads and remove the common sense portion of their brains. This is followed by a shot to make them forget the operation.

Add this sort of pseudo-educational nonsense to the fact that the schools have an almost impossible time finding politically acceptable ways to discipline students or to be allowed to expel the unruly, and you have a recipe for disaster. There are better ways to educate. But I'm afraid at this point we'll never get 'em. And the poor suffer most from this, being less able to find alternative ways of getting the requisite knowledge and skills.

I have no idea where you get that from.

Because when I specifically asked why people would disbelieve that racial inequality was caused by God's curse (i.e. what many traditionalists actually claimed through the long sordid history of racial relations) your response was, "It is a false belief." That doesn't accomplish anything, that doesn't stop people from believing it, so your answer is effectively nothing.

Is the idea is that I ought to support liberalism even though I think it is false and incoherent, because liberalism (even though false) protects people from even more destructive false ideologies, like its (in my view) close cousin Naziism?

Don't delude yourself about what can and likely will take its place. I would say you are too smart for that, but I'm having my doubts.

If that is the idea, then I guess all I can say is that the truth matters, and ultimately it is more destructive to avoid the truth than it is to face it. Admittedly though I take that on faith.

Truth does matter, but statistical approximations that everyone admits give a very obscure and one dimensional insight about an individual are not truth. Have you never heard the phrase: "lies, damned lies, and statistics"? I want you talk to a black person you see on a routine basis and tell him that his race is intellectually inferior to whites and you have the statistics to prove it. Otherwise, you are just avoiding the truth and are probably a crypto-Nazi that holds other races in contempt.

Mark,

I went back and read the hypothetical between you and Tony and my comments go directly to the heart of it. Perhaps I haven't mentioned, but I've had this conversation, in one form or another, many times over the years. I am well aware of your position. You believe that a loving God could not make any race inferior, in toto, without being a cooperator in evil or in contradicting what it means to be human.

To quote your words:

What you, Lydia, and others have constructed is a just-so story. What does "intelligence" mean for you? It means something between being slightly disadvantaged as a Jeopardy contestant, but, not to worry, it _could_not_possibly_mean_ anything like not able to control one's emotions, delay gratification, or lack of empathy for others (if you don't know where those have led historically, or where they lead at any time philosophically, I'm at a loss). In this story "intelligence" is the sort of teasing exchange that loving husbands say to their wives. "Oh dear, I love you so even though (caresses her cheek) I'm more intelligent than you." (She smiles and looks into his eyes). I'd buy tickets to see that exchange. You don't know what intelligence is, indeed none of us do, but you seem to think a whole set of assumptions is justified, and it isn't. Apparently intelligence is known to be something whose lack could never be anything that works against your idea that it wouldn't be a social evil. Just-so. What justifies this view? Your just-so story, and nothing else.

It's a fantastic story Tony. It's question-begging. Even a perusal of the history shows that people took it to mean far more. Why did they think that? Only as a scheme to get free labor? No. Many of them were actually well-intentioned and hated the institution. Ditto for the other reasons. The idea you seem to hold is that a racial inferiority thesis would be fine for a Christian to hold, since no non-crazy person is now advancing the evils based on the inferiority thesis. So it's all good, right? That doesn't follow at all. This is about the most implausible just-so story imaginable, and you've never answered my questions about why shouldn't I think that a given race's lack of intelligence wouldn't cache out in a way that would endanger me to be near them compared to others, or make me justified in shunning that group?

Did I not answer that when I made this response:

As for your question about walking among the violent and sexually imprudent, what would you say to Christ? He, certainly, had the perfections of both intelligence and wisdom, far beyond that of any mere man, but by your logic, he should have avoided us poor brutes, since we could not be trusted not to knife him in the back. Yet, he, because of love, felt impelled to come to us poor people and be among us, knowing the risk.

How are the violent and lustful ever going to learn the path of true virtue if we do not go to them? We may die, but that would be a glorious death for a noble cause and we must keep on going until evil is finally overcome. To do otherwise would show that we, despite any intellectual superiority, have failed to grasp the one essential thing: that the things of this world (including intelligence) are passing. Only love remains. In the final stages of your life, you will be examined, not by I. Q. tests or depth of knowledge, but by love. We are all sinners, even the most intelligent of us. We can only know the essential things with the heart. You are to love your neighbor as yourself, but if your neighbor be not so intelligent as you, the command remains and it is a universal, so let's have no more talk of intellectual differences this-and-that. You MUST love, so your love must be able to encompass all men, regardless of intelligence or it is no real love. So, it is up to each person to figure out how to do that in this day, at this time and right here. You simply must will the good of everyone, even those prone to want to kill you because of whatever defects of nature or supernature they may have. You must. If they cannot see the path of virtue because of a natural defect, you must show them it in your own actions.

Look, this is not a just-so story for me. One of my family members suffered brain damage as an adolescent from complications from a kidney disease and one of my friends in high school suffered brain damage from poor anesthesia during routine surgery and I, myself, have worked at a special facility for the mentally retarded and those with other brain damages.

They are not less human. I fear not for my safety, even in the violent cases, because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta talks about seeing Christ in everyone. If God saw fit to make a race of people who are less able to reason than others, that does not make them subhuman. They don't suddenly become members of another species. It's the soul - it's the soul - that makes a man. That was Tony's point and mine. I don't care about violent tendencies. Ordinary prudence, excepted, you are still called to love those people and you must make up your mind to walk among them. If Jesus could suffer us, who are you not to suffer them. Are we less human than Christ because we are not as intelligent? If so, he hasn't let on. Look, God made every member of the human race inferior to Christ, or rather, he allowed it to happen as a result of Adam's sin, yet Christ came among us, not feeling it a insult to be known as a man. I don't see that you have a point when charity is brought into the discussion. What am I to say about artists who can draw? Am I inferior them? Yes, as regards drawing. Should I be regarded as an unlovable member of an inferior class? Let me give you a clue: love is a risk and God loves the inferior with a greater love than the superior, since the need and the risk is so much greater. He regards the inferiority as an evil, in this life, but it is such for a reason we cannot know. Don't worry. All will be perfect in the next life, but we have a joint responsibility to get as many people there possible, together.

Thunderstorm coming. Must go.

The Chicken

Whether or not there are significant racial differences (which is the topic that your links address) is a separate question from whether IQ is heritable at all. The .75 correlation in identical twins raised apart should be sufficient to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that whatever the factors are that end up determining the score a person can get on an IQ test (and we don't know what they are exactly), many of them are genetically heritable.

You've raised a number of points. I cited the links in response to your correlation wikipedia link. Correlation is not causation was Sowell's point in his critique of the Bell Curve. For example, though he defends them against the charge of racism and such, he said:

Perhaps the most intellectually troubling aspect of The Bell Curve is the authors' uncritical approach to statistical correlations. One of the first things taught in introductory statistics is that correlation is not causation. It is also one of the first things forgotten, and one of the most widely ignored facts in public policy research. The statistical term "multicollinearity," dealing with spurious correlations, appears only once in this massive book.

But you threw a number of things at me at once in what seemed a strident tone, and I was in a hurry too. I probably overreacted and misspoke, and in any case I didn't mean to seem to be denying heredity altogether. You said "largely hereditable" a couple of times I think and I was only objecting to what seemed a strong statement at the time, but it all depends on what you mean. It's possible we don't really disagree on that.

Look, this is not a just-so story for me. One of my family members suffered brain damage as an adolescent from complications from a kidney disease and one of my friends in high school suffered brain damage from poor anesthesia during routine surgery and I, myself, have worked at a special facility for the mentally retarded and those with other brain damages
.

Masked One: zippy made the same claim, that I was demeaning the impaired such as those who have Down's syndrome. Here's what I said:

That is an entirely different topic. Down's syndrome is an abnormality, and any grouping is on that basis alone. The question at hand is a normalcy for a given race that is an inferiority in comparison to other races.

There is a massive difference. Simply massive.

They are not less human.

Yes, indeed. There is nothing one needs to perform to be a human person. Nothing at all. Unfortunately, quite a few people disagree with this today.

I asked:

Is the idea that I ought to support liberalism even though I think it is false and incoherent, because liberalism (even though false) protects people from even more destructive false ideologies, like its (in my view) close cousin Naziism?
Step2 replied:
Don't delude yourself about what can and likely will take its place. I would say you are too smart for that, but I'm having my doubts.
I suppose I am forced to take that to mean "yes".

Step2 writes:

I want you talk to a black person you see on a routine basis and tell him that his race is intellectually inferior to whites and you have the statistics to prove it. Otherwise, you are just avoiding the truth and are probably a crypto-Nazi that holds other races in contempt.
Well, I would, but in the white supremicist enclave where I live in rural Montana I rarely run into any people of other races.

Mark, I think Deuce really has you as far as your earlier, rather strong statement, which did not restrict your comments only to a hypothetical in which every member or the majority of members of a particular racial group is (on across-the-board measures) mentally retarded. You said expressly, "Would a just God distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups? Of course not. There is plenty of inequality in the world, but mental capacities according to race? That's the silliest idea I've ever heard." As Deuce says, that sounds like a very sweeping claim about inequality and mental capacities, and it's even stronger considering that you appear to mean by "distribute" even for God to _allow_ the distribution by natural causes.

Lydia, the hypothetical of the "retarded race" is related to my broader claim. You insinuate I'm backing off or doing something dodgy by this. It is a perfectly logical thing to do to continue the discussion since that is what I wished to do. It matters because at an extreme we can see whether or not there is a point at which differences of a certain sort become highly problematic, which was being denied so far as I could discern. If the idea that there could be no point at which intellectual capacities could matter in a relevant way isn't a sweeping and strong claim, then I don't know what is. If a just God could create retarded race as in my hypothetical, then my earlier stronger statement is quite obviously false. If a just God could not have created a "retarded race," then it at least my stronger claim could possibly be true, or at least better reasons than "oh it doesn't bother me to be called less intelligent" should be given for why it is false. Of course that is never going to happen, as is perfectly obvious by now, but I'm happy that I made it half way, which is a darn sight farther than it seems to me anyone was willing to go before. That is as good as it gets in debates like this, and I'm quite happy with the outcome, even if you're less enthusiastic. You could have left out the inessential sentence that started it, predictably. You have to break some eggs to make an omelette. I think Steve is right that it was quite a thread.

. . . considering the utter horrors that we _know_ God permits (you know, the Holocaust, little girls being horrifically murdered, millions of people throughout history suffering with painful and horrible diseases, etc.), I don't see how we could possibly rule out God's permitting your scenario a priori. It seems there is virtually nothing we can rule out a priori God's merely _permitting_

I think those cases are qualitatively different from my scenario, but I won't belabor the point now except to say I think you pop into and out of my hypothetical, and when I think of it I stay inside. But more to the point I guess, really I see the extreme example as an "all bets are off" circumstance, whereas you make different assumptions I suspect are optimistic. As far as your thesis that nothing could be ruled out a priori, I dunno. God can't make square circles, he can't sin, but there is no moral evil he could not permit? Something seems wrong with that.

I know of plenty of mentally retarded people who are unusually gentle and hence far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators . . .

Sigh. Yes, I know this. First, I chose one possible outcome to point out, it did not exhaust the list! I work many times from historical examples in my head that I don't mention so as not to prejudice the debate, as people will always claim. The particular example I had in my mind throughout (and resisted the urge several times to demonstrate the historical example) was of perceived danger, not a real one. People recognized to be of lesser intelligence as a group would either be feared, ostracized, and shunned, and likely all three. And if that doesn't lead to violence long term, then I don't know what does! And as I said, we'd be a danger to them, and they to us. I did not necessarily envision some inherently brutal or criminal race. Even if no person from this hypothetical race ever hurt anyone, their lives would be a Hell on earth. A just God would not do this. My argument was in no way dependent on their being natural aggressors.

And just to be very clear, I did not say, and do not think, that humans being retarded is an evil or unbearable. In_no_way. The way such a different race would be treated by us was my intended point from the start. For those that can't grasp how evil this dynamic would be in this fallen world, I can only say I have a very vivid imagination. Mirroring C. S. Lewis's answer to someone about "Screwtape," I can say that I only have to look inside to see the evil that would be unleashed.

I enjoyed it folks, I think this is the end of this one. Not that it matters what I think, but I think it would be wise to close this thread at this point, unless Lydia wants to offer a final comment.

Steve:

Just one point where we might disagree: "The clay shakes it's fist in outrage at the potter."
All too often, I don't think it's obviously wrong for the clay to do just that.
We actually do agree about that, given the qualifier "obviously wrong". Faith - that is, trust in God's love - is a supernatural gift, not something which follows transparently from man's natural reason in his natural state.

Up above, I made a comment about some orthodox men not being selected for the priesthood/edutocracy, but I have no real explanation other than anecdotal evidence and the idea that these appointments are political is rash judgment on my part. Sorry. The other points in that post are, I think, correct.

The Chicken

As for Mark's hypothetical, this issue has been explored in science fiction, many times. I could give references, but would anyone bother to read/watch them?

The Chicken

The Deuce wrote:

To see how this logic plays itself out in the real world, you need only look at abortion. The liberal will insist that all individuals are exactly materially equal to all other individuals, until they reach some arbitrary point at which their material inequality is too great for the liberal to deny. When that point is reached, the liberal declares them a non-person, completely lacking in humanness, fit to be discarded or experimented on at leisure.
"The National Socialist state knows no 'classes,' but politically speaking only citizens with absolutely equal rights and accordingly equal general duties, and, alongside of these, state subjects who in the political sense are absolutely without rights." -- Some morally abominable mass-murdering lunatic with a bad mustache.

Bruce: You aren't interacting with what I said and referenced let alone my central concerns or claims. If you want to argue, you aren't offering much to argue that I care about.

Actually I was attacking your credibility as someone who should be commenting on the IQ debate let alone making dogmatic pronouncements about the lack of validity of IQ tests as you do above. The Flynn Effect is pretty basic to the debate (since it's the egalitarians last and only plausible argument) and you completely mischaracterized it so I don't get the impression that you've read much more than the reference you gave and Sowell's article (which I read years ago at Upstream - I'm well aware of his caution about multicollinearity).
IQ tests don't "measure" in the same way that a Gerber scale measures. But they are an excellent predictor of academic success. This explains their continuning use in our very liberal society (if they didn't work they'd surely have been done away with by the liberal do-gooders) and the fact that the U.S. Miliary has invested enormous amounts of money in their development and application.

To interact specifically with what you posted above I'd say the following:

Each of us doesn't gain 6 IQ points every 20 years. They're have been generational gains whose magnitude has varied considerably by the type of test given. Flynn didn't show beyond doubt that GI increases. He wasn't sure if the increasing scores reflected increased GI. The " deep debt of gratitude" remark shows teh author's ideological bias. Why should Flynn be owed a deep debt of gratitude unless equality is a good thing in and of itself?

Flynn himself has now reversed himself and believes that IQ tests do matter:

http://www.vdare.com/sailer/070903_flynn.htm

It's a fantastic story Tony. It's question-begging. Even a perusal of the history shows that people took it to mean far more. Why did they think that? Only as a scheme to get free labor? No. Many of them were actually well-intentioned and hated the institution. Ditto for the other reasons. The idea you seem to hold is that a racial inferiority thesis would be fine for a Christian to hold, since no non-crazy person is now advancing the evils based on the inferiority thesis. So it's all good, right? That doesn't follow at all. This is about the most implausible just-so story imaginable, and you've never answered my questions about why shouldn't I think that a given race's lack of intelligence wouldn't cache out in a way that would endanger me to be near them compared to others, or make me justified in shunning that group?

Mark, you missed the point of the story. Sorry, but it's that simple. The inferiority of one man over another may be imagined, or it may be real: some men are SUPERIOR to others - in this quality, or that quality, or many qualities, or even ALL qualities that matter to people.

Some of these qualitative differences are borne out in statistical ways: some groups are superior to others in these ways or those ways. Some might possibly be superior in most of the qualities that men pay attention to.

Sometimes those qualities have a bearing on, or even heavily predict, moral perfections or moral failings: surely nobody who has lived in the North and in the South in the 1800's would dispute that statistically speaking, Northerners were more active, more energetic on average than Southerners. This fairly readily plays into the vice of sloth: one can reasonably expect that more of those given over to vicious indolence were to be found in the South, statistically speaking. The same can be said of other moral qualities: some peoples are more given to trust, and therefore find the supernatural virtue of hope to more readily accessible than other peoples. Irish and Russian peoples seem to be more susceptible to drunkenness as a habitual vice than many other peoples. These characteristics are described by impartial observers, we have no reason to doubt their validity.

Might the differences - including moral differences - be divided by race as well as by nationality, by geography, by language, by custom? Absolutely: There is no reason to think that race is a fundamentally different sort of principle by which God can engineer (or permit) differences than by national bloodlines (or the others). What can be said of the Irish because of their inherited genes, biochemistry, etc, might also be said of others by reason of race: in older times, "race" was ALSO used for specific national bloodlines - "nation" meant something by reason of birth to a people before it meant a political organization. We see in literature many authors referring to the "race of Normans", or "race of Picts" as if their difference as Picts was as much an issue as their difference in terms of skin color.

See, God is perfectly fine with people being born with different moral tensions, different tendencies toward sin. Sometimes these differences are personal, but they are group-able: fat people have fat kids, and at least some of it is probably because fat people have a measure of an inborn inclination toward intemperance toward food, an inborn inclination that can be passed on because it is inherited to begin with.

God is OK with different people being more subject or less subject to temptation: He built the world that way. Some people are superior in birth by reason of being more inclined toward virtue, but that doesn't get them to heaven: they still have to have faith in the power of the grace of Jesus Christ to save them, and if they trust in themselves because they are more capable, then they are lost in eternity.

What we insist on as Christians is not that all receive equal gifts and equal grace from Christ, but rather that ALL can be saved. Some will be higher than others in heaven, not on account of their differences in birth, but on account account of their differences in love. That's it. That's all. The fact that God willingly built the world so that some people (and, potentially, some peoples) will statistically be found to have a tougher time of receiving and accepting grace, and therefore generally lower levels in heaven, is NOT abhorrent to the Gospel: God revels in difference. He made 9 choirs of angels, not one, or two, and each angel is at a different place in heaven from every other. More: each angel is a different SPECIES from every other - each angel has by its own nature a different level of natural good in the Divine Economy from every other angel; and the ones in the lowest choir are ALL lower than the ones in the higher choirs, as a class. God revels in difference. Why bother shooting for mere equality, when what you can have instead is better?

It makes as much sense to say of my brother black (asian, indian, etc) you are dumber (or smarter) than me by race and therefore I am superior (or inferior) to you as an important feature of human dignity, as it does to say of the lower angels "you are inferior to the seraphim so you are ignoble in God's (and my) eyes." Every single being that is made in the image of God is ordered to the perfection of the Beatific Vision, and in that community all will be perfectly lovable and perfectly delightful in the midst of their differences including those inherited by race, by nationality, and by family. Even those differences that led to gravely more serious difficulties in being good, moral people.


Mark, you missed the point of the story. Sorry, but it's that simple. The inferiority of one man over another may be imagined, or it may be real: some men are SUPERIOR to others - in this quality, or that quality, or many qualities, or even ALL qualities that matter to people.

Tony, I don't think your point is hard to get. It certainly isn't hard to get that some are superior to others in certain respects, and I can't imagine anyone who would disagree with that. But on the overall disagreement, we'll just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that. No disrespect intended. I decided to continue just to elaborate a bit on the Sci-Fi angle since MC seems interested. I think it is highly interesting too.

As for Mark's hypothetical, this issue has been explored in science fiction, many times. I could give references, but would anyone bother to read/watch them?

I'm very fortunate that the MC likes the Sci-Fi angle. That makes me feel more comfortable using it than I was before. I agree that Sci-Fi is illuminative on this point. One of the most pervasive questions of science fiction is how humanity would react if confronted with a being of "superior intelligence," what that might be, and how it would go. What does it teach us? Not surprisingly, I would find some key supporting points for my overall view on this topic.

1) That "intelligence" is often used in a deeper sense, and normally is in Sci-Fi. In this debate and those like it, there is a temptation to equivocate in a facile way that is distorting. It really only has a definite meaning when it is qualified, whether explicitly or implied by context. I've said all along that the "innate biological mental capacity differences are no problem" crowd that they are equivocating between at least two different major understandings of the term "intelligence" to their advantage, in a question begging fashion. That is why, at least my purposes here, I distinguished between "know-how" and deeper sorts. They are distinct, but they are related. The T-shirts that say "Scotty beam me up, there is no intelligent life down here!" makes just this subtle shift in meaning, subtle shifts in meaning being the basis for most humor, and that's why it's so darn funny. Even in the vernacular, we often mean much more than mere "know-how," and the idea that any of us wouldn't be deeply offended if someone we don't know (and certainly those we do if not done in a few limited ways) said "you're less intelligent than I" is quite comical. This fact surely means that much of the time when we use the term "intelligence" we know well enough that it means far more than "I would make a better jeopardy contestant than you" or "I have more skill in chemistry than you do," and other such like uncontroversial statements.

2) The great varieties of portrayed interaction between beings of greater (or "superior") and lesser intelligence, assuming both have a level of intelligence high enough to grasp the major essential qualities about one another run the gamut, which I think means that assumptions based on intra-human interaction on earth often don't hold when applied without due consideration to hypothetical greater-lesser intelligence interaction which we've never experienced on this earth. My claim, as I've strongly hinted and I think said too, is that in reality "all bets are off." Would they be mean, docile, more volatile, or something else? The problem is that a being between man that is lesser than man is problematic, and Sci-Fi exploits this in a vast number of ways. It is hard to see lesser intelligence beings who pose no inherently direct threat corrupting the moral order by their presence and corrupting the beings of superior intelligence if they are sinful. If their intelligence is low enough that doesn't happen, but then they are classified as animals. A mid-way being is highly problematic. There is a reason superior intelligences only have highly restricted access to our world even when they are benevolent; not for their sake (angels can't sin,) but for ours.

3) Background assumptions are highly important. Does the world portrayed have sin in it? Or are the superior beings in it unrealistically benevolent for a sinful world? If the superior-inferior beings interact in ways closer to how we interact with God, then it seems the world isn't sinful or they've reached a level of virtue we don't believe possible on this earth. Utopian visions are common in this genre. In that case, the problems tend to be assigned to bigotry, intolerance and such that is being educated out of them somehow and we've got a Liberal utopia. Or, if the beings interact in ways almost identical to what we know on earth in intra-human interactions? If so, then what is the essential difference between them? In other words, are their essential faculties identical and their differences, however exotic, merely accidental? If so, it doesn't sound like an alien world in any interesting sense.

If it is true that the differences in "intelligence" are attributed to what is innate and biological, rather than disparities between groups that frequently vanish over time as Sowell points out (what I would call "know-how"), then these groups lack the second order capacity to acquire it to the same level as other races. If this is true it isn't clear to me why this wouldn't be a different type of being. Positing differences in biology that appear slight outwardly may seem to make it more plausible (just like me but knows more or less than I) but I see no reason to think differences innate and biological would have to be that slight. If it is supposed that these differences in second order capacity were discovered due to group sampling and modern statistical methods, that would be a very curious thing, because the truth is that we don't need tests and statistics to identify comparatively more or less "know-how," and certainly not of the broader and deeper sort either. On the former, people have always been able to judge perfectly well who has comparatively more or less "know-how" in a given area provided that they have this know-how themselves. This is true of the broader since of intelligence as well, unless zombies really can exist. What these tests have added to our understanding of "intelligence" of any sort other than "know-how" is highly dubious.

And tell me again why I'm wrong to say that a just God wouldn't "distribute an unequal proportion of abilities amongst racial groups" on planet earth? If my phrase (intentionally following Aristotelian language) was too strong, what are the assumptions on distribution of the "innate biological-based mental capacity differences are no problem" crowd? That it be distributed randomly in a color-blind fashion? That doesn't seem to be the case. Well, what are their beliefs or assumptions about how they are distributed? Oh, they say, but it isn't equal in *any* way whatever, proportionally or otherwise. Well then how is it distributed on their view? Or does God really use a giant spinner or flip a coin?

At any rate, the idea that believing that intelligence, as far as it's innate and biological aspects, are distributed in an equitable fashion across racial groups has a strong founding in common sense and as informed (as always) by philosophy and theology.

It is hard to see lesser intelligence beings who pose no inherently direct threat corrupting the moral order by their presence and corrupting the beings of superior intelligence if they are sinful.

I erred. Instead of the above, I meant to say this:

"It is NOT hard to see (is likely to happen) less intelligent beings who pose no inherently direct threat (indeed no threat at all) corrupting the moral order by their presence and corrupting the beings of superior intelligence if they (the superior ones) are sinful."

IQ doesn't measure absolute value of intelligence although the Left likes to use it this way to get "mentally retarded" murderers off death row. IQ measures deviation. So it's most useful in predicting the differences that the Left would like to pretend don't exist.

IQ measures deviation.

Deviation of what?

Deviation in intelligence, of course. If you'd prefer "estimates" rather than "measures" then that's ok with me. We don't get Gerber Scale precision out of IQ tests. We can compare individuals to various population means. We can compare the means of various populations if we want to.

Among psychometricians (people who actually study cognition - Sowell's not one of them) there's nowhere near a concensus that IQ doesn't accurately measure intelligence. If anything, they are closer to a concensus that IQ tests do accurately measure intelligence. That's why they still have wide acceptance in our hyper-liberal society despite their embarassing (for the Left) results. Flynn himself believes that they measure intelligence.

There are a number of psychometricans who think they measure intelligence AND that what they measure is highly hereditary AND that racial differences are largely hereditary in nature. E.g. Jensen, Rushton, Lynn et. al. Again, Sowell isn't one of their professional peers.

We can compare the means of various populations if we want to.

You can compare those, but what does the comparison tell you? By their own data, the impact of better education and environment (nutrition, housing) has an average minimum 10 to a maximum 20 point effect on IQ test results. Also by their own data, the IQ impact of those factors is strongest in childhood but diminishes during adolescence - which is odd that genetics would "tune out" a supposedly vital advantage. The racialists also leap to wildly speculative conclusions, like the IQ difference between African and American blacks was caused by mating with whites, which conveniently ignores all environmental differences between African and American populations and also ignores that IQ is a complex trait, perhaps the most complex of the complex traits, which cannot be reduced to simple Mendelian inheritance.

There are a number of psychometricans who think they measure intelligence AND that what they measure is highly hereditary AND that racial differences are largely hereditary in nature. E.g. Jensen, Rushton, Lynn et. al. Again, Sowell isn't one of their professional peers.

Rushton is not a professional, he is an advocate with pseudo-scientific methods and a creepy obsession with sexual characteristics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Philippe_Rushton

The racialists also leap to wildly speculative conclusions, like the IQ difference between African and American blacks was caused by mating with whites, which conveniently ignores all environmental differences between African and American populations and also ignores that IQ is a complex trait, perhaps the most complex of the complex traits, which cannot be reduced to simple Mendelian inheritance.

I'd never heard that one, especially given that Black Americans have very little European blood in them. The most obvious explanation for the difference between black african and black american IQ is the Flynn effect. The better environment pays off, though it appears to have plateaued.

Among psychometricians (people who actually study cognition - Sowell's not one of them) there's nowhere near a concensus that IQ doesn't accurately measure intelligence. If anything, they are closer to a concensus that IQ tests do accurately measure intelligence. That's why they still have wide acceptance in our hyper-liberal society despite their embarassing (for the Left) results. Flynn himself believes that they measure intelligence.

There are a number of psychometricans who think they measure intelligence AND that what they measure is highly hereditary AND that racial differences are largely hereditary in nature. E.g. Jensen, Rushton, Lynn et. al. Again, Sowell isn't one of their professional peers.

Sowell isn't a psychometrician, so it is somewhat obvious that he isn't their peer. That's because he's a teacher and an economist. Back before teachers went to ed-school so they could peer at brain scans on an overhead projector in hopes of learning how to teach students and imbibing all this naturalist nonsense. The education field is a very troubled field. My animus towards this stuff isn't political. Bad theory can be used by anyone for about anything, and this is no exception. Left, Right, and center use it, unfortunately, because that's what they were taught. Since this debate is pretty much over I'll just tell you two representative stories that illustrate my experiences with educators over the years that come back to this stuff.

Back in the day, when I was a couple of years out of high school and wondering whether I should consider college my sister suggested I speak with the dean of education of a Christian university near the farm where I grew up. I was looking for advice, and I thought a Christian man of his position would be the ideal one to ask. Not for specific career advice, per se, but more general directional ideas. It seemed to me that since I liked machines maybe computer science might something I could learn to do. I still remember his name; his daughter was a classmate of mine. The university has a decent reputation and is a name any Christian here would know. He was a very nice and extremely well-intentioned man, but the fact that is that he told me that I wouldn't be able to make it through a four-year program in computer science because I wasn't good enough at math, though I hadn't tried terribly hard up to that point. It's all innate you see. Since I was working at the time as a mechanic, apparently he didn't think I could make it through any college program because he suggested I should stay close the area I knew, and he recommended that I look into being an auto salesman. A car salesman. I could never sell a umbrella in the rain. He was a great guy, well-meaning as heck, and you could tell he just didn't want me to fail. Well I was more puzzled by this bizarre advice than disappointed or discouraged because I just figured that he didn't know any more about education than I did. My mother didn't raise a fool. So I went off to prove him wrong, and four years later I suppose I should have returned and stapled my diploma to his head for being such a dim-bulb. You may think I'm making that up, but I surely am not. I could go on and on with teachers I've encountered in my travels that are about as handicapped by poor understanding of what it takes to learn, instead of accepting uncritically all the social-science nonsense that comes down the pike. That even Christian educators would so imbibe this nonsense that they lose all sense of what it takes to learn is a real shame. I often wonder how many other young people more trusting and respectful of authority have been discouraged by such foolishness.

So many teachers now have beliefs about innate knowledge that they can no longer teach in the classic sense, seeing those who have an intuitive understanding of a topic as the ideal, and seeing those who need to be taught as failures. Here's another true story. My nephew, my sister's son, was having trouble in math a few years ago and she went in to speak with her to try to see what the problem was. My sister told me that she said "Well, some students just aren't very good at math. It is more common than you'd think. Honestly, sometimes I have entire classes that aren't very good at math." That is one of the most howlingly funny things I've ever heard. I swear on everything that is holy that is exactly what my sister reported, and she doesn't normally lie to me. Knowledge is innate you see, you betcha.

I wish these were just a few stupid people, but they aren't. Just par for the course for the poor folks who are magnets for every crackpot scheme that comes down the pike from the pseudo and social-science skunk-works, which is upstream from their main customer the ed-schools. Don't misunderstand though, there are a lot of fine teachers who know better, and Sowell is (probably retired now) one of them. They know what is required to learn a given topic, and whether or not you can do all depends on whether you master those things, and no one knows

At the risk of getting involved in something that's way over my head, and also without taking a position on genetic/heritability of group genetic differences because I don't know enough to weigh in on that in an informed manner, I will critique one aspect of the argument Mark and others have made.

If group differences in intellect are bad/an evil/however one wants to phrase it, and thus we should be skeptical before concluding there are any, why then wouldn't individual intellectual differences fall under the same suspicion? The earlier Downs Syndrome analogy was a poor one, but if the theory that average intelligence differs between groups is pernicious (however one wants to phrase that), wouldn't individual differences have the same impact in your mind?

After all, God cares about individual souls - not our souls as Whites or Blacks or Asians or AmerIndians. "Why would he make groups with different aptitudes?" may as well be asked "why would he make individuals with different aptitudes?" - each Human soul is valuable to Him, and I'm no Stephen Hawking, nor is he me. (Nor would I want to be him, even given his vast intellect, especially if it meant I would reject God as he has).

The thing that has had me scratching my head isn't Mark's (and other's) skepticism of group intellectual differences on empirical grounds (I too admire Thomas Sowell and his work on a range of studies), but the attempt to make a theological connection and thereby if not rule out even the possibility of group differences, come very very close to doing so. Because we *know* there are individual differences, and God cares about us as individual humans.

So I conclude that the critique Zippy has given of this line of argument, while a bit over-stated, is fair: the "no differences in average group intelligence" theory seems to take the egalitarian mindset as a given, something that must be disproven, and put *all* the burden of proof on any counter-argument, and then at a very high standard of proof at that - one that isn't maintained in the least for other sorts of group differences.

Personally I am more inclined to credit the arguments of Sowell and others like him. But I also have to ask "what if they're wrong? What if there are group differences, on average? And so what? Why should we think it affects the moral value of anyone, any more than the fact that I'm not as smart as you are affects my humanity?" Some here are arguing as if it does, at least with respect to groups, when I think it's plain that it does not. This means they cling to the theory too tightly, I think, because of the ramifications they believe would follow if it were not true. I deny that these additional ramifications exist - if it were ever difinitively shown that Race B is not as smart, on average, as race W, which itself is not as smart, on average, as race A, this would affect no one's moral worth in the least and certainly would not (and should not) affect how we view God and His will (permissive or otherwise) in creation.

Anyhow if that would be accepted, I think people might be able to realize that the discussion has grown circular, between people who simply disagree on where the empirical evidence lays, but whom none of them are experts, and it's distracted from the initial topic of what can/should be done about education.

(To that end I really think the link Mark provided to the Sowell article on minority education is excellent, and indeed in its way rebuts Lydia in part. It's not as if it's a secret what can be done to improve education. So this would not be a futile project. However, Lydia is refuted only *in* *part* because we certainly know the current establishment will not do any of these things, and that indeed it is a ruin that one can only hope to escape and contain until it can somehow be replaced. I wish us all luck with that but we're headed for hard times indeed).

The thing that has had me scratching my head isn't Mark's (and other's) skepticism of group intellectual differences on empirical grounds (I too admire Thomas Sowell and his work on a range of studies), but the attempt to make a theological connection and thereby if not rule out even the possibility of group differences, come very very close to doing so. Because we *know* there are individual differences, and God cares about us as individual humans.

J. R., no one here is disputing that there are group differences as measured by tests (empirically.) Certainly not me. Do you see that? If so then I cannot possibly "if not rule out even the possibility of group differences, come very very close to doing so."

I made a distinction between the measure of intelligence and what intelligence is, so far as we can grasp it, which is incomplete. You need to see that to know what a empirical data won't tell you what a thing is, it can only help you describe in some ways at best. This holds with anything. What it is is a matter of philosophy or that and theology if you're a Christian. You can measure lizards, but after you measure all the lizards in whatever ways you can and do the standard dev and all that, can you say you know what a lizard is? Knowing what God's creatures are is a matter of philosophy and theology. Do you see that? These are questions abstracted from the debate, and they largely determine it. Sowell simply looks at the data and says a biological connection is weak, and I suppose accepts that the prevailing ideas before IQ theory must have been the more correct, or at leaves it to the reader to make his own judgement. In other words, if he maintains a role as merely a critic he doesn't need to use philosophy or theology because he isn't making positive statements.

When people say that the differences in empirical data shows that the differences can be attributed to biology, they are doing philosophy at the least because they have given an interpretation of the data. Data does not interpret itself. Statistics are not self-explanatory. Philosophy and/or theology, or philosophical theology in the latter, should be a part of the makeup of every Christian understanding. The question isn't whether we do it, but whether we do it well or badly.

Personally I am more inclined to credit the arguments of Sowell and others like him. But I also have to ask "what if they're wrong? What if there are group differences, on average? And so what? Why should we think it affects the moral value of anyone, any more than the fact that I'm not as smart as you are affects my humanity?" Some here are arguing as if it does, at least with respect to groups, when I think it's plain that it does not.

As I've said until I'm blue in the face, terms referring to intelligence tossed about with no distinctions tend to be self-serving. I understand "smart" to be "clever," more or less. If I say "my dog is smart" no one thinks that strange. So of course that doesn't have to do with moral worth.

And you haven't really grasped the last Sci-Fi argument. I've said that a just God wouldn't create a world that would fall into sin that didn't have an equitable distribution of intelligence in the deeper sense (not merely know-how which is no problem and he has). You insist on moral equality, rightly, but what is that moral equality based on? Tony said rightly that it was our rational soul. But "rational soul" is just another term for a human soul, because that is basically code for capacities not present in the animals (who actually think.) But what about a mid-way being between an animal and a human, that was closer to a human than an animal in mental capacities?

And that, my friend, is the big question put most bluntly. Does it have a rational soul? Well, sort of. But, as I've said, in fact "rational soul" was always a comparative term to distinguish ourselves from the animals. If there were a being mid-way between animal and human that doesn't work any more. Now you can't use "rational soul" as a synonym for "human soul." Now you've got a 95% rational soul vs. a 100% (human soul.) Do they have equal worth? Who knows? And that was my real point. Even if they do have equal worth in God's eyes, not at all clear, they sure as Hell won't in ours in this sinful world. Justice in this sinful world was the point all along.

Justice depends on a type of equality. Even if the greats of old didn't believe it you are proving it by hanging on very tightly to a type of equality. Namely, moral worth. But isn't that a result of something rather than a cause? Now I know some put the cause solely in the mind of God or the love of God, but I think there must be proximate (efficient) causes embedded in this world or it wouldn't be fit for intelligent beings. I think there should be something that grounds the moral worth.

So I don't see how your position that moral equality is an absolute grounded by nothing in this world (so far as you've said) is better than mine where it is an absolute and grounded in the rational soul, where certain rational properties would need to be equitably distributed in a sinful world by a just God. Why is it that you think my thoughts that the differences in empirical measures (such as IQ tests) are not biologically grounded suspect, and yet your thoughts that moral value must be equal no matter what biological makeup reasonable?

So I conclude that the critique Zippy has given of this line of argument, while a bit over-stated, is fair: the "no differences in average group intelligence" theory seems to take the egalitarian mindset as a given, something that must be disproven, and put *all* the burden of proof on any counter-argument, and then at a very high standard of proof at that - one that isn't maintained in the least for other sorts of group differences.

J. R., why it positing the equal moral worth of all individuals reasonable, and not "taking the egalitarian mindset as a given"? It is associated with modern liberal political thought. And is it a theological assumption for you personally? Do you think belief in a just God requires this?

(To that end I really think the link Mark provided to the Sowell article on minority education is excellent, and indeed in its way rebuts Lydia in part.

The Sowell piece on minority education is a great one, but I don't think Lydia is wrong to doubt that his prescriptions would ever be followed. The question isn't whether the right program could change things in theory, but whether any likely one accepted now would in fact. In light of that, I'd say we're wise to eschew large programs to try to change the situation since they'll do more harm than good. The whole education enterprise is changing as we speak and I am hopeful some good will come out of that. But I think the days of the large educational programs are over. In a new paradigm we could see some real improvement. I hope and pray so.

You can compare those, but what does the comparison tell you?

That we can expect some groups to perform better than others at academic pursuits and the jobs that follow and the differences aren't due to institutional racism and/or "skin privilege."

By their own data, the impact of better education and environment (nutrition, housing) has an average minimum 10 to a maximum 20 point effect on IQ test results.

What data are you referring to? Studies that look at poor black children who are placed in upper middle class white homes don’t show a 10-20 point increase in the childrens' IQ. The universal sociological constant (the one sigma black-white difference) has remained unchanged despite good nutrition. Chinese peasants with poor diets still score high.

Also by their own data, the IQ impact of those factors is strongest in childhood but diminishes during adolescence - which is odd that genetics would "tune out" a supposedly vital advantage.

As they age, intelligent people increasingly seek out mentally-stimulating environments. So the various equality-seeking interventions have their greatest impact on young children.

The racialists also leap to wildly speculative conclusions, like the IQ difference between African and American blacks was caused by mating with whites, which conveniently ignores all environmental differences between African and American populations and also ignores that IQ is a complex trait, perhaps the most complex of the complex traits, which cannot be reduced to simple Mendelian inheritance.

I don’t know of a single HDB’r or racialist who believes this. Sailer, for example, believes that environment plays a significant part in the IQ difference between Africans and African Americans. Likewise poor environment probably lowers India’s average IQ (low 80’s) considerably. Nobody believes that IQ can be “reduced” to simple Mendelian inheritance. Hereditarians believe that intelligence is mostly, but not overwhelmingly, hereditary and that environment does matter. Rapid advanced is genetics are taking place and we’ll probably know in a decade or two. For example, Bruce Lahn of the University of Chicago found a variant of the microencephaly gene that’s near-ubiquitous in Eurasians and near-absent in sub-Saharan Africans. Neither evolution nor Christianity require equality. Evolution makes equality unlikely. Christianity’s neutral.

Rushton is not a professional, he is an advocate with pseudo-scientific methods and a creepy obsession with sexual characteristics.

That still leaves Jensen, Lynn and many others. Rushton is a tenured professor at the University of West Ontario. He believes races differ in terms of r/K reproductive type. That’s why he’s interested in sexual characteristics.

I'd never heard that one, especially given that Black Americans have very little European blood in them.

African Americans have, on average, almost 20% European ancestry. This is nearly the equivalent of a grandparent. Anyone whose been around Africans can tell you that American blacks look considerably different on average.

I might try to come back to the other argument later when I have more time; let me just say that part of what I wrote was inartfully expressed, the disagreement is over whether differences in average group intellegence is at least partly inherent or not, the same way differences in individual intelligence are at least partly inherent, and I don't see why a God who creates or allows the latter would *necessarily* not create or allow the former, and I think that *possibility* (however likely or unlikely) is being resisted for implications that I don't think hold - unless they also hold at the level of individual difference.

But for now I'd rather go back to this:

The Sowell piece on minority education is a great one, but I don't think Lydia is wrong to doubt that his prescriptions would ever be followed. The question isn't whether the right program could change things in theory, but whether any likely one accepted now would in fact. In light of that, I'd say we're wise to eschew large programs to try to change the situation since they'll do more harm than good.I agreed, right after the part you quoted. I tend to think Big Programs(tm) are usually bad and counter-productive.

But I also agree that our current establishment won't follow Sowell's prescriptions even on a local (city-wide) scale, even though while it wouldn't help everyone, it would significantly improve things for the vast majority. The reason they won't do so is they are willfully blind - nothing will be allowed to improve unless and until the current governing establishment and its progressive paradigm is cast out of power. With a thanks for their sincere good intentions, but never allowed to hold civic responsibility again. However this will only happen if a large, popular majority demands it happen, or in the wake of some sort of geopolitical catastropy (such as a financial/economic collapse much greater than the one we just had, and which they are much more obviously responsible for, and not able to find scapegoats upon whom to pin the blame for - this is an important component. The chance of the former happening within the next decade is high, but the odds of *this* part happening in our lifetime is much, much lower as long as they dominate the means through which people get informed about the world).

Until then we're going to get more of the same, and we're going to get it good and hard - both in education and beyond. I'm reminded of two points Jerry Pournelle has made over the years. One is that over time any society converts more and more of it's resources into "structure," with less and less available to do actual good,

The general premise is that the history of mankind is the story of how more and more of society's resources are converted into structure, until the structure -- bureaucracies -- gets in control, and that stifles innovation and rapid growth. Every now and then productivity gets an enormous boost, and the structure loses control. The Discovery of the New World. The first and second Industrial Revolutions. The establishment of the United States and its new world order with the concept of limited government. (Note that Venice had that kind of revolution at one time, and the Framers studied the Venetian Republic in its stagnation and discussed it much in the Convention of 1787.) And of course the Computer Revolution and the Silicon Valley phenomenon. Possony and I looked into that in some detail. The computer revolution has pretty well slowed. I'll leave drawing the obvious conclusions as exercises for the readers, because it's late and I have a lot of work I have to get done.


and the second being his "Iron Law"

…in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative[s] who work to protect any teacher, including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

If there is one "large" thing we could do, a great step forward (not a "Great Leap Forward") would be to eliminate the Department of Education and the entire idea that local school districts can get money from other levels of government. This had good intentions (poor school districts being at an obvious disadvantage), however it rewards failure and by creating such malincentives it insures things will get worse, for reasons discussed here: http://www.friesian.com/bureau.htm

Until people can accomplish this - the dismantalling of much of what has been built up so far, so that pruned, it can grow again in a better form, the best advice for what to do about inner city schools is akin to something Frederick Douglass once said:

Everybody has asked the question. . ."What shall we do with the Negro?" I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature's plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!

I fail hard - the HTML tags I used for quoting didn't work apparently, so the areas where I quoted others in the above are hard to distinguish from my own ramblings.

My apologies.

the disagreement is over whether differences in average group intellegence is at least partly inherent or not, the same way differences in individual intelligence are at least partly inherent,

That isn't an accurate statement of "the disagreement" with me.

African Americans have, on average, almost 20% European ancestry.

'Very little' was an overstatement, but average in this case means that a few AAs have a lot of European ancestry (to the point where they can hardly be called African) and a lot have much less. It averages to 18.5%, but as in many cases the average doesn't tell us much...the median looks closer to 15% and maybe less.

(My browser does not seem to *want* to let me use tags/quotes, or even the little buttons, therefore I quote Mark the old fashioned way):

"That isn't an accurate statement of "the disagreement" with me."

I've had the impression throughout, and I think others did too, that you were ruling out, axiomatically, the possibility of inherent/genetic (however one wants to put it) group differences, almost as a matter of a priori metaphysics.

I also did get the impression from earlier in the discussion that for you intelligence differences are in a special category, more significant than other differences (from the trivially obvious of the genetic component in skin tone, to the less trivial and perhaps less obvious differences in certain athletic endevors, such as long-distance running). If not you yourself, then again I stand corrected. But a fair number of people who would not conclude that such differences mean this or that race is inferior to another seem to resist considering even the possibility of inerent/genetic intelligence differences because they believe it would mean one race is inferior to another.

Take your (I believe it was yours) example of Asians compared to Whites. If Asians, on average, are ever shown to be inherently/genetically more intelligent than whites, this bothers me not at all for the same reason I'm not bothered at all that Stephen Hawking is considerably more intelligent than I am, which bothers me no more than the fact that Tom Brady is a much better Football player than I could ever hope to be, no matter how much environmental improvement I could have been given or how much effort I could have devoted to becoming an excellent Footballer.

I think we over-value intelligence compared to some of these other traits in no small part due to the fact that we live in a society shaped by technocratic progressivism. But intelligence is not the same as wisdom or good judgement. I know that from my own behavior (commenter is a pretty cool guy; eh writes argues blog posts and doesnt afraid of anything), from other people around me, and from observation of the world beyond my direct experience; the aforementioned Stephen Hawking is vastly intelligent, but lacks the good judgement to embrace God. Many many very smart (and well-educated) people govern Western polities today, but their intelligence is mostly devoted to coming up with elaborate rationales to avoid doing the wise thing (much less the good), and indeed to embrace evil (the establishment I discussed in my last post, consisting as it does of very smart people, indeed ones who are quite sincere, has dedicated itself to *evil* - what they are doing to children, as in the topic of this post, is nothing less than *evil;* but they sincerely do not see it that way. They think they are being compassionate, indeed that they are the most compassionate among us. Why? Is this a failure of intellect? No, it is a failure of judgement, of wisdom).

I keenly value my own intelligence, and I think it makes me better than many/most people *at* *some* *things* - but only within the context of those practices. Other people are much better than I at a whole range of things, and intellect does not make one superior as a human being. So neither would it make one race better or worse than another. (For example, I've known some retarded people; they often have a lot more compassion than people of average or greater intelligence, are a lot more forgiving. A "retarded race" would be deficient in some ways, but not necessarily in the ways that matter most to Christians).

This is, again, a long rambling, and I'll close as I began - if Mark didn't mean what I took him to mean in many of his posts, I stand corrected. In actuality it may be that our opinions on this aren't very different; personally I don't think there is much (if any) inherent/genetic difference between races when it comes to intelligence. It's just that it would not bother me much, if at all, if I were ever proven wrong. It wouldn't imply any great shift in what I think policy should be, or how people should be treated, and the like. (It certainly wouldn't lead me to the conclusions it seems to have lead Laura Wood too; I think she should be corrected on that, and I think low expectations of anyone - for whichever reason, be it hers or that of the Atlanta School District - is destructive and...stupid. It is a further sign of...poor judgement).

I've had the impression throughout, and I think others did too, that you were ruling out, axiomatically, the possibility of inherent/genetic (however one wants to put it) group differences, almost as a matter of a priori metaphysics.

J. R. I'm sorry if I was uncharitable in my terse response earlier. I can accept this statement as close enough, as long as we agree on what know-how is, and that "intelligence" does NOT refer to that. But the problem is that you aren't distinguishing that type of intelligence from others at all.

Take your (I believe it was yours) example of Asians compared to Whites. If Asians, on average, are ever shown to be inherently/genetically more intelligent than whites, this bothers me not at all for the same reason I'm not bothered at all that Stephen Hawking is considerably more intelligent than I am, which bothers me no more than the fact that Tom Brady is a much better Football player than I could ever hope to be, no matter how much environmental improvement I could have been given or how much effort I could have devoted to becoming an excellent Footballer.

But isn't the reason you would be "untroubled" about differences because you posit equal moral worth as an absolute? You've solved the problem very neatly by an explicit declaration, as many here have similarly by the unspoken and assumed, and my point is that this doesn't work. It most certainly doesn't work to equate that type of intelligence to the skill of football playing.

Hey, if I posit that you have the moral worth of a cockroach, then I'll be entirely "untroubled" by pounding you to death with a shoe. The question is why are you justified in positing equal moral worth? You must have some reason. Why won't you say what it is? You acted as if my use of theology was dodgy, and now you're trying to avoid stating your assumptions.

You are right to say that moral failures are failures of judgement and not intellect. The problem is that there is a relationship since judgement require intellect. That's why your dog can't make the same moral judgments. But again, you are assuming equality here to begin with. And the hypothetical was meant to show whether or not a just God couldn't put superior and inferior beings other than the human animal categories on the same sinful planet. I say no. If you can't make a judgment on the Sci-Fi hypothetical, and you seem unwilling to entertain that, it doesn't do any good at all to argue over what is possible is our present world.

I think you're simply not willing to accept the possibility of a "superior intelligence" in the sense it is meant in Sci-Fi novels. But you know I've never heard anyone say "Superior intelligence? What could that possibly mean?" No, it isn't difficult to imagine this at all. But you seem not to be able to accept this. Of course God could make superior and inferior intelligences, and obviously he did. The question is whether lesser intelligences that are greater than animals but less than our level could co-exist in a sinful world --this side of heaven.

So the bottom line is that you simply have not accepted that the Sci-Fi hypothetical is valid, or argued that it isn't, and as such I can't argue with your absolute declarations of moral worth. They trump everything don't they? That's a neat solution, but it isn't based on reason, but rather faith. In what you won't say.

While admitting again that I am not nearly as well versed in these matters as you and the others here, I think your argument is theologically dodgy, and for reasons that are related to the Downs Syndrome example, to put it starkly.

Yes, some people have concluded that an individual human who lacks reasoning power/intellect is not of the same worth that those who have it, but we consider those people to be *wrong.* I think (again, correct me if my interpretation is wrong) your worry is that people will do the same - as they have in the past - if it were ever shown (or even incorrectly concluded) that on average, group B is less intelligent than group W which is less intelligent than group A.

Such people would be in *error* to reach such a conclusion, however. For exactly the same reasons that they are in error if and when they believe the same regarding individual humans. Indeed I might argue that this is *less* of a problem when it comes to groups, in at least some respects, because whatever the average might be, there are always people like Thomas Sowell or Frederick Douglas or Clarence Thomas. So it would make no sense to treat any given individual differently based on group averages.

Indeed, and I might be misattributing because it's been some years, but I think Thomas Sowell made just this sort of argument:

1) that he does not think there are inherent group differences when it comes to intellect

but

2) even if there were, it should not matter when it comes to how any given individual is treated.

"So the bottom line is that you simply have not accepted that the Sci-Fi hypothetical is valid"

In part because it's possible to construct all sorts of hypotheticals, and I didn't and don't find this one particularly interesting. Regardless of whether it's valid or not. In one sense I agree with Stephen Hawking's recent warning that we should be careful what we wish for when it comes to inviting intelligent aliens to come visit us. He used, IIRC, the analogy of what happened to the AmerIndians.

Now it does not matter if the AmerIndians are inately less intelligent than Europeans, or if they are of equal inate intelligence but just test lower, or even if they would have tested the same if appropriate tests were given to them at the time. They were certainly treated differently, and regardless of what we think the current implications ought to be, I think we'd all agree they deserved better treatment than they were given. (Indeed, IIRC, and not being a Catholic I'm a bit vague on the details, but apparently ~1550 there was a dialogue among Catholic theologians in Spain about the status of AmerIndians - this being one of the steps in the development of Natural Law theory - and they concluded that AmerIndians had souls and thus were worthy of much better treatment than they were being accorded at the time. Did this change how they were treated? No. It Ought to have, but it did not).

In other words, I don't find your S/F hypothetical that interesting because if and when push comes to shove and we encouter rational aliens, whether or not they are actually superior intelligences or simply conclude they are or are simply more technologically advanced, well lets just say their treatment of us will depend more on their ethics (or lack theirof) than their intelligence.

I will point out one potential flaw in your hypothetical which relates to my own example: if they're really so smart, why won't they accord us the respect due to those who have souls, even if we are not as smart as them? The only reason they would *not* would have little to do with how much greater their intelligence is (if we have rational souls, that meets the standard, even if our average intelligence is rated at 1 on some scale and theirs at 10000)? It would be a sign of poor judgement, poor wisdom, and deficient morality for them to treat us as unworthy of respect, as lacking the respect that is due to those who have rational souls. (I think rational soul is a comparative relationship, but it is an objective one and once the "minimum threshold" is reached, it doesn't matter how far some entity might go above that line, they still must accord everyone who meets that standard the regard that is due them).

An interesting counter-hypothetical: what if humans as we know them to be, 1000 years from now, in their exploration of the galaxy encounter a race that is of superior intellect but which has, for whatever reason, not yet reached the level of technological development that our hypothetical future-humans have? (Perhaps they're a race of super-intelligent Amish, or perhaps they just got started on the road to civilization and, while proceeding at a faster pace than humans did, they haven't had the time yet)? The shoe here is actually on the other foot, and raw intelligence will have little affect on the outcome (either we'll treat them with the regard we ought to, as God would want us to, or we'll be the ones turning them into food, because they're rather tasty after all, and we have the Maxim Lazors and they do not).

J. R., you don't seem to accept the idea that some beings might have a superior intelligence in the way you see it in Sci-Fi novels. Yet we know this is so since we have lesser beings here on earth now in the animals. As I said, the question is if were possible for God to create an in-between intelligence being (between animal and human but say closer to human to make it more interesting.) I can't see why not, but I can't see how a just God would put them on a sinful earth together. This is probably the 25th time I've repeated that.

Yes, some people have concluded that an individual human who lacks reasoning power/intellect is not of the same worth that those who have it, but we consider those people to be *wrong.*

I'm not talking about humans. A defect or abnormality among members of the same race are not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a race of beings made with an inferiority in comparison to humans in their *normal perfect state*, in other words by design, and such an inferiority would exist in heaven as well as on earth. If animals go to heaven, believe me we they won't be writing novels. Members of the humans race don't have to demonstrate any capacities to prove their humanity. But if they weren't like us even when they were normal they wouldn't be human would they?

Look, you reject any hypotheticals. Fine. But you can't turn around and tell me I'm impugning humanity when I'm talking about aliens! You assume aliens would be equal in every relevant way to us, as if they're just humans with green skin or something. But that isn't an alien, that is a human with green skin.

if they're really so smart, why won't they accord us the respect due to those who have souls, even if we are not as smart as them?

How much respect is an inferior being due? You might ask yourself that next time you eat a hamburger. You are very deeply committed to equality of a number of things. You have all kinds of absolutes revolving around equality deeply embedded into your arguments, but you won't admit it. And animals were always thought to have souls. The idea that they don't is a modern idea, and very wrong.

Like you said, the debate has become repetitive. It seems like I've said this all before several times over.

"J. R., you don't seem to accept the idea that some beings might have a superior intelligence in the way you see it in Sci-Fi novels."

Actually, I did; you should re-read my admittedly somewhat garbled post.

"How much respect is an inferior being due? You might ask yourself that next time you eat a hamburger."

At the risk of hurling what is tantamount to an insult here, you seem to be making what amountss to a relativistic argument: that a sufficiently more intelligent group of aliens would effectively negate our status as intelligent beings with rational souls.

I covered that too in my previous post: I don't think it's a relativistic scale, but an objective one. If, say, "1" is the threshold of rational intelligence, then that and everything above that threshold counts. Regardless of how high the scale might go. if it goes from 1-2, or from 1-10000, with hyper-intelligent aliens at the upper bounds, that doesn't negate the status of those at 1.

Yes, animals were always thought to have souls but not immortal, rational souls. (I did make a slip when I wrote that the Spanish theologians concluded that AmerIndians had souls - what they concluded was that they had rational, eternal souls - that is, the same status as their own, and were worthy of consideration regarding their humanity).

"You are very deeply committed to equality of a number of things. You have all kinds of absolutes revolving around equality deeply embedded into your arguments, but you won't admit it."

I think you're projecting here, which is why you must rule out even the possiblity of differences. You're making it bear too much weight, because of a commitment to egalitarianism. I think you're deeply concerned that if it were proven there were inherent differences, it would lead to unfortunate conclusions. Well it might lead you to that, but it wouldn't lead me. I'm not threatened by individual differences and inequalities on this score (or others, such as physical strength), so why should I be bothered if there are group differences? You've never really answered that.

And I think that, given your own opinions on the matter, you can't really avoid accepting my argument that it isn't intelligence differences, group or otherwise, which lead people to treat other people well or badly, either as individuals or as groups. After all, you're committed to the proposition that there aren't any. I believe this proposition is correct, but I also think it's *irrelevant* - again, so what if there are aliens who are more intelligent on average than we are, if when we find them we have technological/military superiority over them at that moment? If their average superior intelligence is, say, one standard deviation greater than ours (again, for hypothesis), this will do them no good in any encounter. The only thing that will matter is our behavior towards them.

This is also why my counter-hypothetical is at *least* as worthy as your own, when I propose that, in a hypothetical, aliens who are perhaps more intelligent than we, or perhaps only think they are more intelligent than we, or perhaps don't even think that but see us as in their way, encounter us and have the technological/military upper hand. Intelligence will be irrelevant to whether they treat us as tomorrow's hamburger or not. Their advantage in tools (and organization, &tc) will matter, as will their ethics.

Anyhow, yes you've made the same argument several times but I'm not sure you've really carefully read what others have said in reply. In your defense, my writing has been at times unclear (a flaw of over-haste).

So I'll sum it up: I don't reject the hypothetical possibility of more intelligent aliens at all. I just don't think it's as decisive as you do. In part because I'm not the one who is overly-wedded to egalitarian premises. Therefore the idea that a group might, on average, excel more than the group I belong to at a given thing has no more impact upon me than the fact that there are tens of millions of individual humans who are more excellent at *anything* I might name than I could ever hope to be (and the same is true of you, and of anyone else. The world contains no Superman who is better at *everything* than anyone else).

If there is a difference in racial intelligence on average, it's certainly less than the difference between Stephen Hawking's intelligence and that of the average person's. But I don't think that has led Stephen Hawking to conclude the run of humanity is little better than cattle compared to him. It may be (but that would be an error); likewise the difference in inteligence between Pope Benedict XVI and the average human is certainly greater than any difference between racial averages in intelligence, but I'm *certain* that hasn't led him to conclude the rest of us are hamburger by comparison. Indeed he seems fairly humble, even to this non-Catholic.

So yeah while being happy to play along with your scifi hypothetical, I reject it not because I don't think it's possible but because I don't think it means what you think it means. I did not assume aliens would be equal in intelligence to us when playing around with your hypothetical; again, feel free to re-read what I actually both, as jumbled as it is. I did say that, if push came to shove, what would matter would be ethics, and techne - material superiority or inferiority, but I deny what you seem to believe, which is that this is necessarily connected at the point-of-contact to intelligence. Maybe the more-intelligent-aliens will have superior technology, and in such novels it always goes hand-in-glove, but maybe they won't at that time, for whatever reason. It will then be the technological/technical edge which would be decisive in this sinful universe regarding who becomes who's food. That and ethics, perhaps they - or we, should we have this edge - will do the right thing.

Heck, perhaps we do encounter aliens at some point and their is an empirically observable intellectual difference, whether "inherent" or "due to environmental, cultural, and other non-intrinsic factors." Note that the later would, in any such encounter, have exactly the same *practical* effect on our (or their) survival chances as if the differences were genetically inherent.

I'm not the one who is overly-wedded to egalitarian premises.

I am no more wedded to egalitarian premises than Thomas Sowell is. My view is identical to his, and his is frankly just the common-sense view and held by those who aren't radical egalitarians. It's a shame you don't get that. It's also a shame when people politicize philosophical issues. Sowell doesn't, and you shouldn't. I'm sure you think I'm a Lib and a radical egalitarian. So it goes.

Mark,

I give you lots of credit for keeping the discussion going. I thought you and I had reached the point of "agree to disagree" but your recent back and forth with J.R. got me thinking about something you said which I agree is very important in this whole debate:

But isn't the reason you would be "untroubled" about differences because you posit equal moral worth as an absolute? You've solved the problem very neatly by an explicit declaration, as many here have similarly by the unspoken and assumed, and my point is that this doesn't work. It most certainly doesn't work to equate that type of intelligence to the skill of football playing.

Hey, if I posit that you have the moral worth of a cockroach, then I'll be entirely "untroubled" by pounding you to death with a shoe. The question is why are you justified in positing equal moral worth? You must have some reason. Why won't you say what it is? You acted as if my use of theology was dodgy, and now you're trying to avoid stating your assumptions.

Since I'm someone who like J.R. agrees that human being have absolute moral worth, I think you are right that this opinion is informed by philosophy/theology and you should know where I get my ideas from. In short, I think we are all equal in moral worth because we were created by God that way and the Bible tells us so. More importantly, Christ tells us that it isn't our intelligence that will get us into heaven, but our love for one another (and sometimes our intelligence gets in the way):

"And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"

and

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

and

"'Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?' Jesus replied: '"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'"

All of us, no matter our intelligence or our defects are called to love. Period, end of story. I have to admit that from time to time on the HBD blogs I hang out on I'll make a comment about my faith and how important I think it is that despite our real racial differences we still need to love one another. Needless to say, the reaction I get is not favorable, and I realize how much of a metaphysical and moral gap there is between me and a lot of the rest of the HBD world because these folks generally don't have Christ in their lives.

Without God and the moral foundation that brings, your hypotheticals and our differences might have dangerous implications -- but with God's love for us and His son's sacrifice, we are called to something higher than ultimately worrying about whether or not Asians are more intelligent than Whites (I think they are!)

God loves all human beings.

I don't think it adds anything to this claim, as a true claim, to state it as "God loves all human beings equally".

Furthermore, stating the universal "all human beings" as "all human beings equally" carries with it several possible false connotations. "Equal" typically refers either to identity or quantity. More precisely "equal" refers to identity of some attribute, and that attribute is often a quantity.

If what we mean by "God loves all persons equally" is that God's love comes in some finite measure, and an equal finite measure is given out to every human being, then the meaning is false.

If what we mean is that God's love for every human being is identical -qua- love or -qua- human being, that is also false. God doesn't love Jeff Singer as identical to Zippy or Lydia or JR: God loves Jeff Singer as Jeff Singer.

Now, it is true that one can utter the phrase "God loves all persons equally" without intending to imply any of these false connotations or other possible false connotations. In that case, the term "equal" is just a linguistic decoration which adds no additional meaning to the phrase. It is also possible to utter "floob glob bib glurble" and mean by it "God loves all persons". For that matter, we can stipulate that by "hate" we mean "love", and truthfully assert under that stipulation that "God hates all persons". This is a matter of the plasticity of specific choice of language as symbolic representation of what we mean when we say something.

But the fact that the person uttering something may expressly disavow false connotations, and may intend the term "equal" to be a content-free linguistic decoration, doesn't mean that it is wise for us to use the language that way in the context of a society which worships fervently at the altar of liberal pieties.

In other words, using the term "equal" here, in our present social context, is akin to saying "I worship Baal!" in a loud voice and muttering under one's breath "... and by Baal, I mean Yahweh".

Perhaps the problem isn't with a misuse of the word, "equal," as much as it is with a misunderstanding of the word, "love"?

The Chicken

Chicken: it is doubtless true that people misunderstand and misuse the term (really various terms for various kinds of) "love".

However, my focus here is on both the concept of equality and the use of the term "equal" as a written/verbal symbol.

Said still differently:

Suppose someone understands the role the term "equal" plays in the statement - stipulated to be true - "God loves all persons equally". A person who fully understands the role "equal" plays in that statement - that of linguistic decoration which brings no new meaning to the same phrase when "equal" is simply left out - will see that "equal" is unnecessary. Simply as a matter of parsimony he will not use the term, and doubly so precisely because he does not wish to be misunderstood.

So someone who is using that term is signaling, in that use, that false egalitarian assumptions are being smuggled in. Even if he lawyers up and claims no such thing in his inner and inaccessible intentions in speaking, that - which is to say smuggled-in egalitarianism - is nevertheless how he is going to be understood by almost everyone in a modern (post Enlightenment) liberal polity like ours.

If you don't want to be understood to be saying "I worship Baal" when you utter the verbal symbols "I worship Baal", it is better to say what you have to say using different symbols. So people who want to speak moral truth unambiguously in a modern liberal polity ought to shun the word "equality" as a moral and political term.

(Again, this goes beyond simply observing that requiring rights - authoritative rules for discriminating between claimants - to be equal, is self-contradictory).

I suppose if I were to say, "God loves all men equally" I would mean something about God's not treating one man merely as a means to an end for another man. The contrast would be with something like, "Well, God loves Joey and Julie, but since Julie is ultimately of greater importance to God, God is going to sacrifice what is best for Joey in order to give Julie what is best for her. Tough luck, Joey." Rather, God wills what is truly best for each one, though that may not, of course, look "equal" in some garden-variety sense. (For example, it may truly be for Joey's good that he gets cancer while Julie is healthy.)

Lydia:

I would mean something about God's not treating one man merely as a means to an end for another man.
And I would suggest that in that usage, the term "equally" is redundant. You never treat someone you love merely as a means to an end for someone else.

I guess in that sense perhaps the Chicken is right that "love" might also be misunderstood. On the other hand, while it is perfectly possible to express the fact that God loves all persons without using the term "equal" or any cognate of equal, it is not possible to express it without using the term "love" or some cognate of love.

But Jeff, I think your approach, for lack of a better term the "all theology" route, similar to Tony's point of view. Why should a person not sharing your theology adhere to it? That's the problem. Anything important like this should be a matter of natural reason, and hopefully philosophical-theology, and it always has. Types of equality are a feature of reality, and that it grounds intuitions about justice and fairness, intuitions grounded in our nature and the world without with there would be no approximation of them whatever in society, however flawed. Denying that is simply an anti-realism. Whatever you call this camp, they've ditched thousands of years of history, philosophy, and natural reason.

I say "I see this." Only later and recently did I find Aristotle did too. You, or at least zippy. say "No, it isn't there, and it can't be there." You deny what I see. You can't see that I'm not advocating anything but observing reality as common-sense requires. Tree in the forest? If a type of equality occurs, and there are only Paleo-Conservatives in the neighborhood who deny their possibility, does it occur?

I'm as hostile to the radical and bad ideas that spring from misunderstanding as you are, but you can't believe it. It's true, but you can't believe it. What do the Libs say "The personal is political?" Apparently that Lib phenomenon isn't just a Lib phenomenon anymore. And you're alienating natural allies who are opposed to radical egalitarianism by your disavowal of philosophical realism, rejection of history on the topic, and the self-serving logic whereby disagreement is itself evidence that one's brains have been sucked out by the Lib monster. It's too bad.

By the way, anyone who interprets anything I've said to mean "there is no such thing as equality", or even "equality of material quantities, for example in commercial exchange, never pertain to justice" is obviously incapable of reading.

Just to make that perfectly explicit. That I don't engage Mark's long litany of straw men is due to the fact that I've judged doing so to be a complete waste of time.

Mark, I believe that Wesley J. Smith has gotten at something like what Jeff Singer calls "being made in the image of God" by what he calls "human exceptionalism." Indeed, I believe that Smith actually _is referring to_ the imago dei by "human exceptionalism," whether he realizes it or not. (Morning Star/Evening Star, etc. You know the drill.) So actually, it is possible to get at what Jeff is getting at via some notion of an essence of what it is to be human--a kind of metaphysical realism--that need not make reference to theological categories but that _also_ need not make reference to equality (or rough equality, or anything like that) of abilities, etc.

zippy, you're right. I erred. Since you don't wish to acknowledge any distinction between the way we measure things and the things themselves, I can't see that you have a coherent position at all. You object seems to be to declare "liberal assumptions" afoot have been absorbed when the word comes up at your discretion.

So on reflection I have no idea what you mean when you say God could have "intentionally made the races differ statistically in cognitive abilities," whatever that means in light of the equivocation I mentioned. Your insertion of "statistically" makes it say just about anything and nothing, and no one is disputing the statistical differences.

The only thing I'm sure of is that you advocate obscurantism and taboo regarding traditional subjects regarding ideas of equality, and you haven't walked that back and likely never will. If there is anything that can be determined from what you've said on the subject it's that. Good luck with that.

Mark, I believe that Wesley J. Smith has gotten at something like what Jeff Singer calls "being made in the image of God" by what he calls "human exceptionalism." Indeed, I believe that Smith actually _is referring to_ the imago dei by "human exceptionalism," whether he realizes it or not. (Morning Star/Evening Star, etc. You know the drill.) So actually, it is possible to get at what Jeff is getting at via some notion of an essence of what it is to be human--a kind of metaphysical realism--that need not make reference to theological categories but that _also_ need not make reference to equality (or rough equality, or anything like that) of abilities, etc.

Ok, but does Smith unable to tolerate and consider unreasonable ideas of a person merely because they don't accept the central assumptions of IQ theory? Does he roll his eyes at the very suggestion that there might NOT be biological differences between the races regarding intelligence beyond mere "know-how"? And finally, does he refer to articles that uses his cherished idea (Gottfredson's "What if the Hereditarian Hypothosis is True?") that conclude by advocating large and sweeping educational programs--what we'd think he'd be disagreeing with--to ameloriate the supposed problem? I doubt it.

So the question for Jeff is not whether he can make a case for human exceptionalism or "imago dei" without reference to equality, it is whether he can tolerate such a case that doesn't explicitly negate it in biological terms. Quite a different thing, and not at all clear he's willing to do that.

That we can expect some groups to perform better than others at academic pursuits and the jobs that follow and the differences aren't due to institutional racism and/or "skin privilege."

For me this isn't about institutional racism, although I don't dismiss it entirely, it is mainly about having a closed mind to individual potential. When you are letting a single group statistic dictate your behavior rather than considering the other person on their individual merits or faults, that is actually a failure to discriminate. Any value system will have to have some discrimination but there is a tactical difference between inclusive and exclusive policy goals.

What data are you referring to?

The data of Jensen and Rushton in their comprehensive summary "Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability".

As they age, intelligent people increasingly seek out mentally-stimulating environments. So the various equality-seeking interventions have their greatest impact on young children.

If IQ is a vitally important evolutionary advantage, the theories that would explain how it could be less advantageous to an adult than to a child are counter-intuitive. The options I see are that a higher IQ has serious drawbacks that actually make it far less important to genetic selection, or that there are other traits that "compete" against IQ and have even greater evolutionary advantage.

I don’t know of a single HDB’r or racialist who believes this.

I'm going to have to eat crow and admit I incorrectly remembered their arguments since it has been almost four years since the last time I looked at their paper. I apologize for the mistake.

Sailer, for example, believes that environment plays a significant part in the IQ difference between Africans and African Americans.

So environment does make a difference, except when it doesn't.

Nobody believes that IQ can be “reduced” to simple Mendelian inheritance. Hereditarians believe that intelligence is mostly, but not overwhelmingly, hereditary and that environment does matter.

Rushton and Jensen say that their final conclusion is 80% heredity and 20% environment, which looks overwhelming from my perspective. They use a lot of weasel words to gloss over environmental factors but that is another topic. Personally I think the Flynn effect explains all but a 3-5 point genetically related average IQ gap between the races, and that if anyone claims they would discriminate against somebody of their own race over such a small difference, they are either lying or unbelievably intolerant.

BTW, I can't believe I missed correcting J. R.'s in his understanding of Sowell:

Indeed, and I might be misattributing because it's been some years, but I think Thomas Sowell made just this sort of argument:

1) that he does not think there are inherent group differences when it comes to intellect

but

2) even if there were, it should not matter when it comes to how any given individual is treated.

#2 is entirely unfounded. Entirely. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26QxO49Ycx0 That #1 and #2 are related does not follow in any way.

For me this isn't about institutional racism, although I don't dismiss it entirely, it is mainly about having a closed mind to individual potential. When you are letting a single group statistic dictate your behavior rather than considering the other person on their individual merits or faults, that is actually a failure to discriminate. Any value system will have to have some discrimination but there is a tactical difference between inclusive and exclusive policy goals.

step2, yes, yes, yes! I feel like sending you an adult beverage Fed-Ex. I strongly hinted at this too, but probably lacked the courage to say it. That is why I shared only one detail of what for me was a repetition throughout my life where people try to talk me out of doing things that they didn't think a person like me should be able to do. I have near-zero respect for position or formal authority, so I either tell these dim-bulbs what to do with their advice (usually unsolicited,) or just ignore them. But I cringe when I think how many have been discouraged or given up. I comfort myself with the thought that there is probably a special place in Hell for these types.

People had different ideas about human potential before modern social-science theories and IQ theory taught them the supposed truth that "intelligence" (whatever you take it to be) was tied overmuch to innate qualities. There has never been a time in human history when people didn't know that people had natural aptitudes so that they should be guided along certain paths, or that some people were brighter than others. But there was a kind of humility about this and a respect for human nature that made them circumspect about drawing too many conclusions from appearances. The acceptance of these supposed modern and advanced social-science theories in the early 1900's in America pulled people away from these common-sense understandings and towards these more naturalistic ones that are deeply entrenched in ed-school, and now throughout our culture, for the gullible at least. I suppose at one time you would ask a teacher how to go about learning, but as my sorry tale shows, often they are the last person a person should ask.

Many teachers have the worst view of how people learn I've ever seen. I was once at a dinner and chatting with a friend and her friend, a teacher, and to my great surprise he seemed to be quite perturbed by my small talk after the "what do you do" question when I said something about being a farm boy that grew up working with machines and later a mechanic, that I thought the transition to computers was natural. I think I expressed it something like "working on one machine is a lot like working on another." He looked at me as if I was from Mars. He couldn't accept this at all. Someone with no apparent familiarity with any of those experiences just couldn't accept this. I was amazed. I still see nothing wrong whatever with the analogy.

So I really strongly reject the utilitarianism of the crowd that believes positing biological differences as a strike at Libs. Yeah! We'll show them that radical egalitarianism can't be true! But the fact that IQ theory and such has been undermining our schools for generations doesn't seem to register. Long before multiculturalism reared its head in education, there was this social science nonsense rotting at our schools and undermining the very task of teaching. If the capacity to acquire knowledge is far more heavily innate than thought before, as IQ theory led people to believe, then teachers see their tasks very, very differently.

Personally I think the Flynn effect explains all but a 3-5 point genetically related average IQ gap between the races, and that if anyone claims they would discriminate against somebody of their own race over such a small difference...

Well you've managed to wisk away a mountain of data like it was nothing. Must be very satisfying for you.

Well you've managed to wisk away a mountain of data like it was nothing. Must be very satisfying for you.

Oh please. Proudly declaring your stridency and broadcasting the idea that you drank the Kool-Aid on this and don't need to argue or discuss is apparently quite satisfying for you.

For the true believers, nothing can erase this "mountain of data." Such a revealing phrase, isn't it? Don't even try you see, the mountain is too big, or so the story goes. Well no "mountain of data" is any better than the philosophical assumptions made about the data, and no amount of data will change that. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

The Flynn effect is widely believed by reasonable people to decisively challenge a very many aspects of the central assumptions of IQ theory. It is by no means the only challenge to it of course. But if you don't want to consider or discuss this issue, at least spare us the sanctimony and the silly "mountain of data" trump card.

For those with an open mind that wish to grasp the main points of this issue, see a real discussion on it where opposing sides put forth their view. http://www.cato-unbound.org/archives/november-2007/

One more note about "mountains of data." There will always a mountain of data anytime large amounts of federal money is available for research. There are mountains of data for all kinds of genetic crack-pot schemes. Look at the mountain of evidence for the genetic cause of alcoholism. Vast amounts of taxpayer money generated that mountain. But is it true? The answer theses studies deliver is this: "Signs are good we're on the road to a dispositive answer; not there yet; need more money for further research." And that is how you get mountains of data. Cut off federal funding for this stuff, and watch your mountain of data shrink. It's a shame people are looking for truth and direction in mountains of statistical data to begin with.

And where are all those who fashion themselves "anti-modern" or "anti-Progressive" when you really need them? If ever we needed evidence that many people want to believe modern ideas just because they are modern, surely the stridency of those who refuse to consider reasonable any disagreement with the central ideas of IQ theory that come straight out of Progressive era puffery, and has spawned everything from destructive progressive educational programs to eugenics.

I thought we were having a nice, civil discussion, and considered Mark a worthy discussion partner until things like this:

"It's also a shame when people politicize philosophical issues. Sowell doesn't, and you shouldn't. I'm sure you think I'm a Lib and a radical egalitarian. So it goes."

Note that this comes after you did precisely that to me, which I testily called "projection," and which I was replying to that set off this sort ignoble of response from you. So if you don't want it done, *don't* *do* *it* *yourself*.

Which as I look back through this thread, I notice you've done quite a lot to various people - all while taking on the tone of having the high ground, but really consistently having two standards; you can charge others (as you did me), but how dare they turn the tables and point out where they think you're the one holding the (unexamined) egalitarian premises.

So your last reply to me was basically a sort of passive-aggressive smear, impugning my character all because I said that "well, it isn't me who holds the beliefs you just accused me of holding, as I see it, it's you." Now you declare that sort of accusation - the one you yourself made - out-of-bounds.

This move allows you to - not for the first time - entirely avoid dealing with the substance of what someone said. It's exasperating and *this* is what should be beneath people here.

Frankly, you owe a lot of people in this thread an apology for your poor behavior. Sure it's par for the course in the internets, and we're all used to it. But to behave as you've behaved here while simultaneously presenting yourself as the one upholding proper discussion standards? It's really too much.

And it's too bad your style has derailed an otherwise promising discussion (I also saw earlier where you tried to take the last word, but I was too polite to point out that this, too, is an invidious debating tactic, aimed at closing off replies. I wouldn't be so gauche as to point it out except that a pattern of abuse-of-decorum has appeared, and, regrettably, you need to be called on it; again, this behavior wouldn't be so bad if it didn't come with your constant tone that you're the only reasonable, polite man in the thread).

We're talking about a race of beings made with an inferiority in comparison to humans in their *normal perfect state*, in other words by design, and such an inferiority would exist in heaven as well as on earth.
How much respect is an inferior being due?

Mark, why don't you answer your own question for us? God created the angels so that each angel is in a different species than every other. Different species are, of necessity, of divergent placement in Divine order. Further, angels are ranked in different choirs. It is clear that some angels are far, far higher above the lower angels than the lower angels are above us, proportion-wise. And this is true in intelligence: angels put in the highest 2 choirs are there by reason especially in regard to intellect and will: knowledge and love. In the highest members of the highest choirs, the angels not only are greater in terms of intellect and will, but also they also incorporate the perfections of the lower angels. So, I ask you, it is right and appropriate for the higher angels to treat the lower angels as "inferior beings".

Here's my answer: OF COURSE they treat them as inferior beings. THAT's exactly what they are, inferior. They are lower species of beings. Naturally. God designed creation so that the higher angels would lead, instruct, direct, order, and perfect the lower.

But they also treat them in perfect love: they are all made in God's image. And being perfectly completed in their own natures, as well as supernaturally completed in sanctifying grace, the lower angels have a kind of beauty and awesome dignity that exceeds that of any human here in this life - only by being perfected in grace as a saint can a human approach to that level, and then it is a perfection in the order of grace, not nature. So: do the higher angels _mistreat_ the lower when they treat them as inferior beings? Naturally not. They are all united in the communion of saints, in one unified order of love. But in that order, some are higher than others by nature, some in grace, and some with both.

Mark,

If you read Cochran and Harpending's _10,000 Year Explosion_, the question is not whether there continental population differences in IQ, but, if you believe in human evolution, how in the heck could there not be? As Gregory Cochran once quipped, did recent human evolution only occur from the neck down?

Stephen J. Gould's thesis that humans haven't cognitively changed in the past 50,000 years has been thoroughly disproved, not to mention some of his other nonsense:

http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/06/stephen-jay-gould-incompetent-or-biased.html

JS: "I have to admit that from time to time on the HBD blogs I hang out on I'll make a comment about my faith...Needless to say, the reaction I get is not favorable"

This is unfortunate. Personally, I see no contradiction between a belief in recent human micro-evolutionary differences (HBD) and faith, nor, to tackle the bigger issue, between macro-evolution and faith. I predict that books like Francis Collin's The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief or Hoimar von Ditfurth's The Origins of Life : Evolution As Creation will become typical of the thought among the cognitive elite of Christians, while anti-evolutionary creationism will be relegated to the Third World:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6NrQuup80


MAR,

Unfortunate indeed!

I saw those earlier articles about Gould's fraud related to Morton's study -- it doesn't surprise me as the more we find out about Gould the more we find out that much of his work was fraudulent.

I missed that Wade article though -- as Sailer often says, if you want to read conservative writing in the NYT, turn to the science pages ;-)

As for the "crazy preacher kid" it was unfortunate he threw evolution into the mix -- some of his other "foils" in that speech were not bad and the kid had style.

It seems that Gould's fraud is part of a larger trend.

First, Boas: http://www.pnas.org/content/99/23/14636.full.pdf+html

and then Lewontin: http://www.goodrumj.com/Edwards.pdf

How much respect is an inferior being due?

Mark, why don't you answer your own question for us?

I have Tony. But I'll do it again. The answer is that it depends on the being and its nature. If the intelligence is low enough we may eat them for lunch. And somewhere between animals and human? God only knows, and since humans are sinful and see through a glass darkly besides, I don't think it even in the realm of possibility that we'd be able to know the level of respect due such a mid-way being.

So, I ask you, it is right and appropriate for the higher angels to treat the lower angels as "inferior beings".

Again, I've already answered this. As clear as is possible, I have made the contention is about this sinful earth, not heaven. If there is a threshold for treatment as an intelligent being (such that beyond it you're a full member,) and if there are superior and inferior angels in the sense you mean, then in heaven I don't see a problem. But you're arguing about heaven and beings in heaven, and my assertions are purely about conditions for justice on a sinful planet.

Of course there is a connection between intelligence and moral worth, on heaven and on earth. And my hypothetical is about superior and inferior intelligences (beings) on earth. If there were higher and lower humans inhabiting the earth, how should we treat the lower ones? On this earth prejudice actually serves a protective function. In heaven this won't be so. It won't be needed.

If animals go to heaven, they won't be conversing with angels about theology. Would they be the moral equal of angels? I can't see how, but maybe so. In any case, on this earth we eat them, and we know God's ok with that. If there is no connection between intelligence and moral judgement and worth, as some have argued, why is it wrong to think animals the moral equal of humans? It is wrong isn't it?

Folks want to say that some races aren't on a biological par in terms of intelligence, where the difference *must* be slight. It is just so important for people to know about these differences in intelligence, but, not to worry, these differences are slight enough not to pose any difficulty in moral worth in the eyes of anyone. A just-so story. The denial of the possibility that any intelligence differences could be major is simply an acknowledgement that there must be some sort of equality that grounds equality of moral worth.

Tony, the bottom line is that I can't argue with you from earth when you won't come out of heaven. We're talking about entirely different things.

J. R., I'm in the position of taking on all comers, and I'd bet real money many here have never even heard decent arguments against their point of view. So I see myself as something of a gadfly on this topic. It isn't personal.

But I'll tell you this. I have a certain contempt for those who discuss the biological intellectual inferiority along racial lines with such detachment, and I don't buy for a moment the glib assurances they wouldn't mind at all. It doesn't even pass the laugh test. I'll tell you what. You go shop your ideas to a couple of black colleagues or acquaintances and tell me if they think they are plausible, and why or why not. Do that and report back your findings, and I'll give you the apology for your wounded sensibilities.

If you read Cochran and Harpending's _10,000 Year Explosion_, the question is not whether there continental population differences in IQ, but, if you believe in human evolution, how in the heck could there not be? As Gregory Cochran once quipped, did recent human evolution only occur from the neck down?

But I'm sure you know I don't believe in evolution MAR; I think we've had that discussion before. I'm not a naturalist.

If evolution is true, and certainly if the past assumptions you mention are false, I can't imagine why there wouldn't be a great deal more variation than is observed in human intelligence. Remember, the "innate biological differences" crowd has to use statistical sampling to try to prove the differences. But you come along and I suppose need to explain why they are positing such slight and unobservable differences, don't you? I find this baffling.

I meant to say "more variation than is claimed" rather than "more variation than is observed."

Ah, now I get it, Mark. You are (correct me if I am wrong, please) supposing a situation where there are entities (might appear as humanoid, or might appear under another form altogether), that are not really the same thing as full "human being" when we mean humans to refer to those at the full, total 100% right to human dignity grouping. They are, these other beings, something different, in the sense that they harbor intelligence but not normal human intelligence, that is, their normative level of intelligence is decidedly, markedly, unavoidably lower than the average for humans, and is (perhaps) lower on average than all but the most damaged and defective of humans.

My question to you is this: are they made in God's image or not? That's what I really need to know. If a race of Venuvians is intelligent, rational, and made in the image of God, then it doesn't matter if their average IQ is 45, and their geniuses manage to get up to around 70: we do not treat them as "inferior" in the sense we treat the animals who are made for our purposes. Being made in the image of God, they have the capacity and orientation to eternal life and the Beatific Vision, and thus are not "ordered to us" but rather they constitute PERSONS, fundamentally unrepeatable beings ordered to their own good, not someone else's. In being persons, they have a fundamental sort of brotherhood with us. Though they are inferior in measure of intelligence, and we may have to treat their entire race as permanently "younger brothers" in some ways, still we would not treat them as cattle (no more than we should our own younger brothers). A person cannot be ordered to the good of another person, he is not that sort of creation.

If, on the other hand, they are irrational and made not in the image of God, then they are not persons, and they fall into the same order as all the other irrational animals: they are ordered to our benefit. I happen to think that there is room in the created order for animals to be "ordered to" our good by being ready-made pets, animals who are capable of living the life of reason in-a-sense, by being made to follow OUR reason, but following it closely and well, because they are higher animals. These animals would not reasonably be used principally as food, because that is a lower use than as pets. But still ordered to our good.

THERE AIN'T NO SUCH THING as a created being in between rational beings that are persons, and irrational beings that are not persons. There is no middle ground between being ordered to receiving eternal life in the soul, and not being ordered to that: the spiritual soul of a rational being is capable of receiving immaterial forms, and (in the end) receiving God Himself inhabiting the soul as His abode. A non-spiritual soul is incapable of receiving this.

I cannot come down out of heaven to this extent: I cannot talk about the right principle of order between different kinds of being unless I can ask about what they are ordered to. If that ordered-to includes union with God in the Beatific Vision, then they are persons and that tells us a lot about what they are doing here on earth.

If animals go to heaven, they won't be conversing with angels about theology. Would they be the moral equal of angels? I can't see how, but maybe so. In any case, on this earth we eat them, and we know God's ok with that. If there is no connection between intelligence and moral judgement and worth, as some have argued, why is it wrong to think animals the moral equal of humans? It is wrong isn't it?

If animals are IN heaven, it is not because they die and then "GO" to heaven. Since their souls are not spiritual, their souls cease to exist when they die, and there is no "them" to be re-animated later. Then, if animals are IN heaven, it is because the created order is more fitting to have them there: probably because man's life is more fitting when he fulfills it in activity such as participating in the order of lower beings - i.e. commanding the lower animals so that they live the life of reason in-a-sense, by receiving the fruits of reason from men. They cannot be put on the same plane as men or angels, because their souls are incapable of receiving God himself.

Mark writes:

... and I'd bet real money many here have never even heard decent arguments against their point of view.

That must be it. It can't possibly be that Mark is a blowhard who couldn't accurately paraphrase an argument if it smacked him upside the head, to the point where even a genteel commenter like J.R. has had enough of it.

I'm guessing Mark is early twenties. The only group I know with such comprehensive knowledge of everything, constantly misunderstood by everyone, in possession of knowledge and ideas nobody has ever encountered, beset on all sides by morons who refuse to listen, is that pinnacle of the homo sapiens cognitive elite: the American teenager.

I've been thinking about this exchange I had earlier in the thread with Step2. I asked:

Is the idea that I ought to support liberalism even though I think it is false and incoherent, because liberalism (even though false) protects people from even more destructive false ideologies, like its (in my view) close cousin Naziism?
Step2 replied:
Don't delude yourself about what can and likely will take its place. I would say you are too smart for that, but I'm having my doubts.
In retrospect I was being too flip in the exchange which followed. Materialist modernism of the sort often present in the HBD community (in my defense, I rarely read anything by HBDers) really does in the end lead to the triumph of the will. Liberalism - even though false and incoherent - really does have the effect of restraining the triumph of the will by its competing egalitarianism, and thereby holding back the Nazi, at least temporarily. (Note that the context of my remarks is the political context).

The problem as I see it though goes beyond the fact that liberalism is false and incoherent, and that it slaughters its own tens of millions of innocents in cold blood while pretending that they aren't human.

Because liberalism takes on the form of a public morality, pieties observed by all decent people, it suppresses awareness of the implications of materialist modernism. Even though we've had at least two horrific outbreaks burst forth from incubation - communism and naziism - the carrier which gives rise to these lives on, precisely because liberalism suppresses acknowledgment of its implicit untermenschen. That allows ordinary people to feel good about liberalism: to view its more extreme manifestations as aberrations. (Here once again we have the dynamic of the unprincipled exception explored at VFR).

But they are not aberrations.

So in my view Step2 is quite right to fear what could happen if modern materialists like the HBDers end up destroying the liberal commitment to universal equality while retaining (even just functionally, in the political sense) materialist modernism. I've said before that when liberal modernism gets to the point where it has to face the fact that nature is no egalitarian and that government-enforced freedom is a paradox, and yet still refuses to let go of the idea that government's justification for existence is the enforcement of freedom and equal rights, what we get is the nazi. (More accurately, the nazi is an instance of what we get: triumph of the will, freedom and equal rights among supermen self-created through reason and will, and untermenschen who are absolutely without rights).

So yes, as a sociological matter it isn't as simple as the fact that liberalism is false and incoherent. If one lie is replaced with another - and Step2 is being perfectly reasonable in anticipating exactly that - then the second lie can be worse, at least in some senses and depending on who you happen to be, than the first.

It is important to realize though that the first lie is the breeding ground for the second, almost as if it were designed that way. If you were the Prince of Darkness, and you wanted to make a nice incubator which would throw off things like communism and naziism while at the same time engaging in sanitary mass murder disposed of as medical waste out of public view ... well, liberalism is just what the Moonchild ordered.

Tony, I'm in a hurry to get to church, but I'd just say degrees of rationality and degrees of personhood are very different things. Personhood is not degreed, but is seems to me rationality clearly is. In any way that relates to the order of life on this earth at the least

I don't see how being made in the image of God fixes a being's upper level of rationality. It certainly sets some lower level. God is so very much different than us that I think it reasonable to think he had a number of options when it came to our design. I think he could have made us different than he did in rational powers that would be displayed on a sinful earth before a type of veil is removed in heaven.

I don't see why there couldn't be mid-way beings in terms of rational capacity and ability. Like I said, animals have some level of rationality, if thinking and basic means-ends reasoning counts, which surely it does. We just don't call them "rational" by convention because that has a certain philosophical and theological meaning historically.

Anyway, I don't see why there couldn't be a race of persons made in the image of God with a lower level of rationality. They'd be 100% persons, and made in the image of God, but with an inferior level of rationality. Are angeles made in the image of God? I assume so but maybe I'm wrong, Anyway, it seems to me he would and has, but my point all along is that he wouldn't justly put them to live together on a sinful planet.

Anyway, I don't see why there couldn't be a race of persons made in the image of God with a lower level of rationality. They'd be 100% persons, and made in the image of God, but with an inferior level of rationality. Are angeles made in the image of God?

I don't see why either if you mean lesser sorts of intelligence, and yes, angels are made in the image of God. I think the angels do, in a sense, treat us as younger, stupider, brothers.

When we use the term "rational" in the expression "rational animal" we don't mean something like "of high intelligence". At least, that's not how the philosophers use it. It means, rather, something more definite: capable of abstraction of principles and reasoning based on such principles, capable of understanding universals like equality and justice and good as abstract notions, not as embodied in specific instances. As Aristotle reasoned to and Christian philosophy upholds, it takes a soul that is itself immaterial in order to comprehend immaterial things like "the good" considered as such. Therefore, the issue is whether there is a "middle ground" between having an immaterial soul and not, and I don't see such a possibility.

I think there CAN be middle beings in terms of intelligence of some sort. I think dolphins are demonstrably more "intelligent" (again, in some sense) than nearly all other animals. Intelligence of this sort is capable of more and less, matters of degree. There is, I think, no such thing as having the ability to grasp universals but having it less perfectly because you don't have an immaterial soul.

When we use the term "rational" in the expression "rational animal" we don't mean something like "of high intelligence". At least, that's not how the philosophers use it. It means, rather, something more definite: capable of abstraction of principles and reasoning based on such principles, capable of understanding universals like equality and justice and good as abstract notions, not as embodied in specific instances. As Aristotle reasoned to and Christian philosophy upholds, it takes a soul that is itself immaterial in order to comprehend immaterial things like "the good" considered as such. Therefore, the issue is whether there is a "middle ground" between having an immaterial soul and not, and I don't see such a possibility.

Oh I think the philosophers have historically used "rational" in a way that clearly depends on a level of "intelligence." To do this is NOT to mistake knowledge for virtue. They are not the same. But there is a relationship between them nonetheless. Moral reasoning depends on a certain intellectual capacity. This is the traditional view. We're back to the "is their a relationship between what I cal "know-how" and moral reasoning?" question. Moral reasoning requires a level of intelligence. To think otherwise is to grossly misunderstand the traditional view, and what was meant by "rational animal."

It has always been thought that it takes a level of intellectual capacity to have moral capacities and judgment. You reduce it to a certain point and moral judgement is not possible except at some low-level of shame as we see in dogs when they know they've displeased their owners. God could not bestow on dogs the imago dei. Certainly not without upgrading their intellectual capacities, which would mean they're no longer dogs.

This is the traditional view. We're back to the "is their a relationship between what I cal "know-how" and moral reasoning?" question. Moral reasoning requires a level of intelligence. To think otherwise is to grossly misunderstand the traditional view, and what was meant by "rational animal."

I think we are talking at cross-purposes. A human being is of such a sort of being as to be a moral agent, because he is of such a sort of being as to have the requisite capacities: grasp of universals, and so on. All those born of Adam are of such a nature.

Having "know-how" and sufficient intelligence for moral reasoning require more, over and above being the sort-of-being as to be capable of abstract thought. They require actually fulfilling human rational nature to some degree in act. Most but not all humans, if granted enough time and developmental space, will acquire the developed capacity to actually know things and be able to reason about them. But all babies and some adults do not have sufficient know-how, have not turned the inherent root capacity for reasoning into an actually in-use power. This means they are not moral agents, and they (the adults) cannot be said to be highly intelligent. To have the underlying nature of "human" is to have the underlying sort of soul capable of grasping universals, even if because of physical impediments you have to wait until heaven to actually do that in act, but (unlike the dog) God doesn't need to re-invent the very nature of a human whose physical incapacities preclude moral reasoning. A thoroughly stupid human incapable of moral reasoning is still of such a sort of being as to be capable of moral reasoning.

If you want to suppose that there might be a sort of being that (a) has a soul capable of receiving immaterial forms and abstract thought, but (b) is incapable (by nature and species) of moral reasoning because of too low intelligence, I suspect what you are imagining is a monster: a thing capable of abstract thought but without free will, unable to love in freedom because it has no freedom, but capable of recognizing the good as such. That sort of animal would be a monster: the will is the intellectual appetite: for a thing to recognize the good precisely under the aspect of "the good" but to be unable to incline toward it as a free act would be strange indeed.

Even less likely is an animal (or other being) capable of moral acting but incapable of abstract thought. If he cannot perceive the good under the aspect of "the good" but only under the aspect of "tastes good" or "smells good" then this is not the grounds under which moral acting takes place.

I agree that moral reasoning takes a certain degree of intelligence and knowledge. When we find a human being whose intelligence is just too low, we say that they are incapable of moral reasoning. We don't suggest that their nature is the nature of an unreasoning or irrational animal. If we were to find that there was a species whose intelligence was all together too low for moral reasoning, we would then have evidence that they were not of such a sort as to recognize the good abstractly as "the good" and thus are not moral agents as a species. Then we would not have evidence that they are capable of abstract thought, either, and we would not say that they are rational in the sense of above. We would call them "irrational animals" even though they might be very, very intelligent in terms of the animal kingdom.

I do not think that we have evidence of any animal (as a species) being capable of abstract thought and incapable of moral reasoning. And I suspect that such a thing would be offensive to God's economy of creation.

No, no. Again, you seem to think something could not be a degreed property. Now "moral reasoning" could not be a degreed property. It seems to me your entire argument rests on such things. I think this highly doubtful. It seems to beg the question.

How could a species have sufficient capacity to recognize the good as such and not to be able to reason about the good act?

And is there a degree in whether the soul is capable of receiving immaterial forms?

How could a species have sufficient capacity to recognize the good as such and not to be able to reason about the good act?

Well, I presume a being would be able to reason about the good acts it could recognize, and on the ones it could not, not.

And is there a degree in whether the soul is capable of receiving immaterial forms?

It seems to me you are asserting that if a given being can receive one immaterial form, then it could receive them all. Is that right? If so, I don't think that works. And it seems to me just another expression containing the same proposition: a denial of the possibility of degrees of moral reasoning without giving a reason.

BTW, the possibility of aliens on other worlds was recognized from antiquity, and Aquinas recognized this too. It is only a possibility, not necessarily likely, and certainly not necessary. I wish I knew more about their view on that. Some places he seemed very doubtful, but others he seemed clearly to allow for it. http://www.unav.es/cryf/extraterrestriallife.html I could be wrong, but I don't think they made the assumptions you are in their speculation about these beings.

"So environment does make a difference, except when it doesn't."

It's not an either/or. We're shaped by both. As the environments that shape different groups come closer to parity, the remaining differences are increasing accounted for by heredity. There's a huge difference between the environments of Africans and those of African Americans. Not so much between African Americans and white Americans.

Rushton and Jensen say that their final conclusion is 80% heredity and 20% environment, which looks overwhelming from my perspective.

I've read papers by other psychmetricians and have usually seen 60%-80% for heredity. More nurture than nature but not overwhelmingly so (the definition of "overwhelming" is probably subjective but I imagined it as 90%+)

I find it hard to believe Mark's repeated assertion that the idea of innate intelligence apart from specific learning/knowledge is a 20th centurty novelty. Obviously that's when the study of intelligence really took off but don't think the basic idea is new. Even so, the newness of the idea doesn't make it false. I could just as easily point to the idea that pre-20th century Westerners believed that Africans, viewed as a group, were innately less intelligent and that . African equality is the newer belief.

I find it hard to believe Mark's repeated assertion that the idea of innate intelligence apart from specific learning/knowledge is a 20th centurty novelty. Obviously that's when the study of intelligence really took off but don't think the basic idea is new. Even so, the newness of the idea doesn't make it false.

Of course the newness of the idea doesn't make it false. But not knowing the history of an idea never bodes well for one's understanding. But I can assure you these were not at all just modern statistics applied to what people already believed. If you want to know how such things as intelligence were thought of for the majority of human history, read Mary Carruthers' "The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture." It's probably the most interesting book I've ever read, and I read a lot. It seems to make sense of why much of modern epistemology seems like such bunk. The pre-modern assumptions about the mind and moral reasoning were entirely different, and I think far more correct.

I could just as easily point to the idea that pre-20th century Westerners believed that Africans, viewed as a group, were innately less intelligent and that . African equality is the newer belief.

Your history is faulty. The idea of black equality certainly preceded modern "intelligence" studies. You may be thinking of social equality, which has a sorry and ignoble history.

The idea of black equality certainly preceded modern "intelligence" studies.

The idea, not its general acceptance.

That is, someone somewhere believed it.

Yes. That was the point. No one thought intelligence was anything link IQ theory had it until Benet et all theorized it. There were grass-roots calls arguing for black equality that stated or presupposed moral and intellectual equality well over two hundred years before that among the religious in America.

There were grass-roots calls arguing for black equality that stated or presupposed moral and intellectual equality well over two hundred years before that among the religious in America.

Carleton Putnam addressed the issue of civilizational equality between whites and blacks, which is what ultimately matters, not IQ. IQ is just one aspect of the debate. Did the ancients or our medieval predecessors measure average brain size, brain weight or study what such differences in morphology or maturation rates might mean?

http://www.jrbooksonline.com/HTML-docs/race_and_reality_03.htm

If Putnam "addressed" it, then a vast array of people "addressed" it in similarly dubious naturalistic, evolutionary, or other incredible and crack-pot schemes over these years.

The dispute in this thread has been over whether there is any basis for any semblance of "civilizational equality" without it being based on something real in the beings themselves. I think the answer is clearly no. I don't see why it would it be a good thing to have "civilizational equality" with inferior beings.

Actually, I think the debate in this thread has become one about the nature of your apparent gnosticism. A gnosticism where, in part, "words" don't seem to "imply" their "plain meanings."

My point was that your argumentum ad antiquitatem above could also be used to argue for the intellectual inferiority of africans. That doesn't change if a few on the religious left imagined otherwise.

IQ theory is (relatively) novel. So is quantum physics. So what?

The dispute in this thread has been over whether there is any basis for any semblance of "civilizational equality" without it being based on something real in the beings themselves. I think the answer is clearly no. I don't see why it would it be a good thing to have "civilizational equality" with inferior beings.

Yes, the IQ debate is not the main topic of the post.

This responses seem to contain a lot of amatuer philosophizing. Shouldn't we go to the primary sources rather than trusting ourselves? Does the Bible (or do the Church Fathers) say that God made the different nations equal?

Actually, I think the debate in this thread has become one about the nature of your apparent gnosticism. A gnosticism where, in part, "words" don't seem to "imply" their "plain meanings."

Such as?

My point was that your argumentum ad antiquitatem above could also be used to argue for the intellectual inferiority of africans. That doesn't change if a few on the religious left imagined otherwise.

Your point was obvious. As I said, it was also wrong since what you said was newer was really much older.

IQ theory is (relatively) novel. So is quantum physics. So what?

You seem to not be decided on whether newness matters or not. Well, quantum physics is a field of physics last time I checked. The same could be said for non-Euclidean geometry and every other specialization or furthering of a field.

And the view of "a few on the religious left" was accepted by many of the non-religious by the time of the American Founding. The pitched battles over the issue from that time until the CW is evidence of that. Casting abolition as a phenomenon of the political left is amusing. Objecting on moral or religious grounds over a single issue does not determine one's politics.

Who mentioned abolition? The discussion we're having is about statistical intellectual equality not abolition. Two different issues.

I don't believe any more than a neglible number of people believed in the intellectual equality of the races. I will accept correction on this if you can provide sources. For example, does Sowell discuss this?

It seems to me you are asserting that if a given being can receive one immaterial form, then it could receive them all. Is that right? If so, I don't think that works.

This is basic Aristotelian philosophy: if a species has, as its integral structure, a spiritual soul, then it has the basic requirement needed to be able to "receive" abstract forms like "the good". If a spiritual (i.e. intellectual) soul, then by nature it has the capacity to receive ANY such forms (the same capacity that receives ONE such form is the capacity that can receive any of them), and it is ordered to the Beatific Vision which is the only possible complete fulfillment of such a soul. God does not make a species for which fulfillment is a metaphysical impossibility - it is not even possible to say such a thing without philosophical oxymorons up one side and down the other. So, speaking from the standpoint strictly of the intellectual soul itself, if it can perceive one abstract as such, it has the requirements to receive them all.

The body is another matter. Individuals of a species may, or may not, have the physical hardware to make that fundamental intellectual capacity fulfilled in actually knowing such things. It may even be the case that a whole related group of biological beings have intellectual souls but their physical and genetic structure does not enable them to make use of it in actually knowing abstractly. I am not clear that God could do that to an entire species, it seems unlikely in the extreme, given their final orientation toward the Beatific Vision. (The only other species we know of (men and angels) have the option of freely choosing God or evil, of opting for or against God.) It seems, rather, that a Divine design of a such a biological species - that in its properly functioning mode at normal capacity would, at one and the same time, have a intellectual soul capable of receiving immaterial forms AND no physical hardware to bring that to fruition in actual acts of knowing - would be monstrous.

But no agent, no matter what his condition, can be a moral agent if he does not (a) have an intellect that can grasp "the good" as such, and (b) actually fulfills such capacity by actually knowing and grasping the meaning of "the good" (at least imperfectly). If an individual is capable of barely grasping the good and only barely grasping reasons for or against the good, then he is only barely a moral agent. I have no problem with the idea that some physical beings are only barely moral agents.

Tony, you're back in heaven. I've not claimed "metaphysical impossibility" of anything. We hove powers and capacities on earth that aren't actualized after the Fall. If they were, we wouldn't be sinful, and, as I've said, my argument does not hold to heaven. In heaven all problems go away.

I don't believe you are correct that if a being can receive immaterial forms that it can receive them all even in heaven, but since we're not on the same page I don't think it matters that much now.

Who mentioned abolition? The discussion we're having is about statistical intellectual equality not abolition. Two different issues.

Moral equality is associated with Intellectual equality and they both have pointed to abolitionism historically. You can be an abolitionist for other reasons and deny all that of course, for any number of reasons such as economic and free labor, or that it corrupts the slaveholders. And many did. But if you think believing in moral equality did not mean one wanted the end of slavery, whether slow or fast, you're quite mistaken. There is certainly a one-way relationship.

I don't believe any more than a neglible number of people believed in the intellectual equality of the races. I will accept correction on this if you can provide sources. For example, does Sowell discuss this?

No he doesn't because it doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter to mine either if I hadn't alluded to the titanic political clashes since the Founding. They were highly influential was my point, not necessarily numerous. But arguing the political aspects as I started to do would probably lead you or others to trot out the typical Agrarian Manifesto and/or Confederate Romantic arguments. That's been done here many times. Nah, if the members in the abolitionist denominations can properly be called a "negligible number," it isn't interesting to me for the sake of this discussion.

And as far as using the word "statistical," as you have, to my understanding that is a measure and not the thing being measure. If it were like height or weight it wouldn't matter, but it isn't. That word keeps getting used as if the of test and the thing claimed to be measured are the same thing. What is claimed to be testing has shifted over the years, and seems to shift even now from one person to another, but in any case I don't take it to measure what most claim it measures, or when I do I often don't agree on the conclusions drawn. So "statistical IQ" or whatever and "intelligence" aren't interchangeable in my view. Before the 20th century people had the crazy idea that intelligent persons could recognize and evaluate the relative intelligence of other persons in comparison to oneself, and that there was no other way to do so.

"Moral equality is associated with Intellectual equality and they both have pointed to abolitionism historically.......But if you think believing in moral equality did not mean one wanted the end of slavery, whether slow or fast, you're quite mistaken."

But abolitionism didn't come about as a result of a (rare? non-existent? I don't know.) belief in intellectual equality.

Mr. Lincoln said "I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects—certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man."

Lincoln didn't believe in moral or intellectual equality. Can you quote anyone prominent who said that they did? My mind could be changed but I'd like evidence.

"Nah, if the members in the abolitionist denominations can properly be called a "negligible number," it isn't interesting to me for the sake of this discussion."

We already know that abolitionists believed in abolition. Did they believe in intellectual equality among the races?

"And as far as using the word "statistical," as you have, to my understanding that is a measure and not the thing being measure. If it were like height or weight it wouldn't matter, but it isn't."

I used the word "statistical" because people vary.
You seem to be arguing that something like substance theory should be applied to intelligence but not to objects with length and mass (properties). Now I'll grant that intellegence is more abstract than basic physical properties. If you prefer "estimate" to "measure" then that's fine by me. But why the philosophical inconsistency?

"Before the 20th century people had the crazy idea that intelligent persons could recognize and evaluate the relative intelligence of other persons in comparison to oneself, and that there was no other way to do so."

If I did that then I'd definitely believe in intellectual differences between groups. For example (you gave anecdotes above so I assume I can) I've never met an african engineer that really impressed me (I work with many hundreds of engineers and the job site has thousands- the company's very friendly to black engineers and diversity is a top priority). I've met some who could function in their job but none that were top-ranking or innovators or exceptional by objective and/or absolute standards (black engineer of the year awards don't count). Same observation in physics grad school (there were no black undergraduates). I might have an insufficiently small sample size but my mind hasn't been changed yet.

But abolitionism didn't come about as a result of a (rare? non-existent? I don't know.) belief in intellectual equality.

The Hell it didn't. The 1688 Germantown Quaker petition is a good source to cite.

As far as the Lincoln angle that I predicted you'd give, it is well known that Lincoln tried to quell the fears of Southerners and abolition opponents before the election, and after. It is also well known that they seceded before he took office over the question of his opposition. I guess he wasn't very convincing.

Before the war was over, while in a still smoking Richmond, Lincoln said:

“Although you have been deprived of your God-given rights by your so-called masters, you are now free as I am, and if those that claim to be your superiors do not know that you are free, take the sword and bayonet and teach them that you are--for God created all men free, giving to each the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

But otherwise, you are obviously going to say that there is no explicit declaration psuedo-psychometric terms. I'm sure you'll say that even Civil War POW exchanges in which neither LIncoln nor Union commanders would allow anything other than exchanges on equal terms with whites in your view says nothing about any form of equality. I'm sure you'll say demonstrations like this won't count, and if that is true then that isn't a very interesting discussion. I could carry on arguments with those slinging slogans born of Confederate Romanticism all day long, since I love American and CW history, but I see no reason to do that now. I could probably finish your slogans, er . . . I mean sentences.

As far as your biased anecdotal evidence, if it is true, then you'll find some agreement with Thomas Sowell on affirmative action and the harm it does to all. That is another matter. But my general rule is never to argue with someone who owns a Nathan Bedford Forrest T-shirt, and at this point that is an open question.

The Hell it didn't. The 1688 Germantown Quaker petition is a good source to cite.

The original text isn't visible in the link you provide. However, the linked article seems to suggest that the petition addressed equality in general (presumably legal, spiritual) "human rights" terms. Again you haven't provided proof of a belief in equality of the mind.

But otherwise, you are obviously going to say that there is no explicit declaration psuedo-psychometric terms.

No need for psuedo-psychometric terms. Something like "equality of the intellect" or "equality of mind" would be enough for me.

I'm sure you'll say that even Civil War POW exchanges in which neither LIncoln nor Union commanders would allow anything other than exchanges on equal terms with whites in your view says nothing about any form of equality.

No, I'll say it doesn't say anything about intellectual equality. That's what we've been discussing. It says something about equality. I haven't participated in the Confederate Romanticism discussions at WWWtW. The commenters here aren't a monolith so you don't have a clue what I'd say.

My evidence is anecdotal but not biased. I was a True Believer when I made many of these observations but somewhere along the way I lost my faith.

But my general rule is never to argue with someone who owns a Nathan Bedford Forrest T-shirt, and at this point that is an open question.

Yes, that's right. Everyone who doesn't believe in empirical equality of the intellect is actually a closet Klansmen.

For the record, I don't know that blacks when viewed as a group have lower average intelligence in the same way I know 2+2=4. I just think that, given the evidence, it's more likely than not to be true.

Also for the record I think that Jews are, on average, more intelligent than Anglo Saxons. That doesn't mean that I think they are superior before God.

Tony, you're back in heaven. I've not claimed "metaphysical impossibility" of anything. We hove powers and capacities on earth that aren't actualized after the Fall.

No, I wasn't back in heaven, you were not reading carefully. I said that a creature with an intellect is "oriented toward" the Beatific Vision - even while here on earth - I was not commenting on the state when he actually receives that fulfillment. But still, you are not ready to actually debate the issue in terms of premises and arguments, as I have been doing, and we are indeed finished with the topic.

But my general rule is never to argue with someone who owns a Nathan Bedford Forrest T-shirt, and at this point that is an open question.

Mark, that was an inappropriate debate tactic. I think you need to apologize to Bruce. You cannot tell, from his arguments, whether he would find common cause with Bedford's intellectual position, much less revere the man.

Ok, well maybe that was a cheap shot about Forrest.

But your desiring an explicit phrase is off-base. But, nonetheless, here are a few of the major abolitionists I know of who made explicit statements referring to equal mental capacities. There are others, but this is sufficient to show your claim that the idea was new was false.

BTW, two of the three I think would have been made before the Revolution, and anyone familiar with American history knows (and as Lincoln well-noted,) slavery as an institution became far more intrenched and was promoted as a positive good in the South in the decades leading to the CW such that the prior belief that it would die out was no longer reasonable to believe. Anyway, the ideology justifying all this by pro-slavery advocates was cranked way up in those years leading to war. Sadly, many Southern theologians were heavily invested in the project to assert racial inferiority. The upshot of this is that one must be careful about generalizing the state of race relations or beliefs about blacks from 1820's to the war.

Anthony Benezet. His entire antislavery philosophy was grounded on the assumption of Negro intellectual, spiritual, and moral equality. But here are two quotes.

"the inhabitants of the Guinea appear generally speaking, to be an industrious, humane, sociable people, whose capacities are naturally as enlarged and as open to improvement as those of the Europeans . . ."

"I can with truth and sincerity declare, that I have found amongst the negroes as great a variety of talents as amongst a like number of whites, and I am bold to assert, that the notion entertained by some, that the blacks are inferior in their capacities, is a vulgar prejudice, founded on the pride or ignorance of their lordly masters, who have kept their slaves at such a distance, as to be unable to form a right judgment of them."

John Wesley

They were no way remarkable for stupidity while they remained in their own country: The inhabitants of Africa, where they have equal motives and equal means of improvement, are not inferior to the inhabitants of Europe; to some of them they are greatly superior. Impartially survey, in their own country, the natives of Benin, and the natives of Lapland; compare (setting prejudice aside) the Samoeids and the Angolans; and on which side does the advantage lie, in point of understanding? Certainly the African is in no respect inferior to the European. Their stupidity, therefore, in our plantations is not natural; otherwise than it is the natural effect of their condition. Consequently, it is not their fault, but yours: You must answer for it, before God and man.

Benjamin Rush

I need say hardly anything in favor of the Intellects of the Negroes, or of their capacities for virtue and happiness, although these have been supposed by some to be inferior to those of the inhabitants of Europe. The accounts which travelers give of their ingenuity, humanity and strong attachments to their parents, relations, friends and country, show us that they are equal to the Europeans.… All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies, and the West Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove, that they were not intended, by Providence, for it.

Also for the record I think that Jews are, on average, more intelligent than Anglo Saxons.

Okay, so work out the policy implications of that and include Asians as well. Should majority Jewish and Asian schools receive more government funding than other districts? Should there be no AP classes and mandatory vocational classes in majority Anglo school districts? Should we conclude that Anglo-Saxon kids trying to academically succeed are "lost causes" comparatively? Should we look at crime statistics and alcohol/drug abuse then deduce that Anglo-Saxons are culturally inferior to Asians and Jews, mainly because they are innately of lower intelligence? Would it be better to discriminate collectively against Anglo-Saxons in job hiring, so that they don't bring down the cultural achievements of superior races?

In the area of fun statistics, I should add that there are government surveys that put the alcohol/drug abuse rate for blacks lower than that of non-Hispanic whites. There are also non-government surveys that put the divorce rate for Jews approximately equal to that of general population.

Tony, you're right. Bruce I do apologize, rather than just admit it was a cheap shot. I shouldn't have said that.

No problem Mark. For what it's worth, I don't write these things because I think it's fun to say mean things about blacks. I came to these positions reluctantly but I think they're more likely true than not true.

Thank you for the digging up quotes. I wanted quotes simply because I've never seen anyone make the argument that you seemed to be making (that an older understanding regarding intellectual equality in addition to spiritual and legal equality - was widely held ).

I think something needs to be said regarding early American attitudes towards black intellectual capacity. I think the general attitude was that it was vastly inferior to the degree that people commonly thought there was little or no overlap. I suspect the writings of early egalitarians should be read as a reaction to this attitude. I don't think that's the situation that this article refers to or that HDB'rs believe in and of course I don't think that attitude is warrented. What's relevant to this discussion are (innate I think) differences that lead to the type of academic performance differences that society then decides it needs to remedy.

Okay, so work out the policy implications of that and include Asians as well.

The policy implications (to me) are an end to AA and similar programs and related attitudes. This is what Sowell recommends. I just arrive at it a somewhat different way.

"anyone familiar with American history knows (and as Lincoln well-noted,) slavery as an institution became far more intrenched and was promoted as a positive good in the South in the decades leading to the CW such that the prior belief that it would die out was no longer reasonable to believe."

"Anyone familiar with American history" knows nothing of the sort. Slavery may still have been economically viable in the South, but in the years prior to the CW it was rapidly losing its political viability.

"The upshot of this is that one must be careful about generalizing the state of race relations or beliefs about blacks from 1820's to the war."

And this is true of the abolitionists as well, so let's get off our high horse. Many of them were quite comfortable with Negro "inferiority," hence their demonstrably paternalistic attitude toward blacks.

I do not adhere to the idea that blacks are mentally inferior to whites, any more than I adhere to the idea that blacks are inherently better athletes than whites. But I see no theological or philosophical reason why such could not be the case.

It's no doubt true that most if not all the behaviors that many whites noted as "inferior" in blacks were the result of slavery. But it is wrongheaded to attribute this error primarily to slavery defenders. It's notable, for instance, that many of the supposed race-specific attributes condemned as inferior by racists were later touted as superiorities by Progressive whites in the early 20th century. It was the KKK mentality in reverse.

Anyone familiar with American history" knows nothing of the sort. Slavery may still have been economically viable in the South, but in the years prior to the CW it was rapidly losing its political viability.

Rapidly losing political viability? It isn't true, and you can't offer any credible evidence of it.

It's no doubt true that most if not all the behaviors that many whites noted as "inferior" in blacks were the result of slavery. But it is wrongheaded to attribute this error primarily to slavery defenders.

My point wasn't that it was primarily to slavery defenders, but if you don't think the vast literature that poured out between 1840 and 1860 giving theological and other defenses of slavery based on black inferiority of all sorts were primarily from the South and by those defending slavery, then I don't know what to tell you.

"Rapidly losing political viability? It isn't true, and you can't offer any credible evidence of it."

Many examinations of the period leading up to the CW document the fact that there was considerable dissatisfaction with the institution mounting in the South, esp. among the non-slaveholding population. I'm not where my books are right now, but I can provide references later, if you so desire.

My point about Negro inferiority ideas was that such ideas were in no way confined to the South and that even many abolitionists held to some version of that myth. Such ideas were widespread in the North and South, even if not monolithic.

Mark, the war between the states was fought by two nations, neither of which considered blacks to be equal to whites. You're just way off in left field here. Racial equality is an innovation of the 20th century. Lincoln cared nothing for the slaves and wanted to send them back to Africa. Most northerners probably hoped he would make good on the promise.

Many examinations of the period leading up to the CW document the fact that there was considerable dissatisfaction with the institution mounting in the South, esp. among the non-slaveholding population. I'm not where my books are right now, but I can provide references later, if you so desire.

Political viability of the institution was crumbling in the North, but it had been entrenching for years the South. But in any case, even if that weren't true all you need to do is read the words of the Southerners themselves on why they seceded. See Apostles of Disunion by Charles Dew. The words of the commissioners themselves are all that is needed to show the primary reason they seceded. They stated it as clearly and directly as anything you'll ever see.

My point about Negro inferiority ideas was that such ideas were in no way confined to the South and that even many abolitionists held to some version of that myth. Such ideas were widespread in the North and South, even if not monolithic.

I never said, nor do I think, that they were the idea of inferiority was confined to the South. I never suggested this. That is bizarre.

Nor was I generalizing from the abolitionists I cited as you claimed earlier. I never said that their view was anything close to popular. Abolitionists were hated North and South. All I said was that it wasn't a new idea.

Matt: I'm not up for the standard Confederate Romantic debate. Been there and done that many times. I'm also surprised the moderators haven't turned off comments on this one long since.

I'm not up for it either. I wouldn't even know where to begin; you're just so out there. I do share your amazement at how long this one has remained open.

You should read Apostles of Disunion. The author was amazed at what he found too.

"Political viability of the institution was crumbling in the North, but it had been entrenching for years the South."

This is true in certain quarters, perhaps even the majority of those in power, largely because of the "circle the wagons" mentality which arose as a result of the perceived threat to the institution. But in other quarters, folks were just sick of the whole thing and wanted it to end. One book which discusses this is The Civil War as Theological Crisis by Mark Noll. He talks about how the moderate voices on both sides were drowned out by the extremists, and gives many references.

Dew's book looks interesting, but as I already believe that defense of slavery was the primary reason for secession, I don't need convincing. What I don't believe is that secession was illegal, or that the North's invasion of the South had much to do with slavery. And those are questions too complicated to get into here.

Nice: I am well aware some were sick of it. That has never been in dispute, and it would be wholly incredible if anyone ever disputed this. There were many Southern Unionists before the war, and the violent suppression of Republicans after the war was a dramatic feature of post-war life in the South.

And as for the cause of the war, I don't know why people can't wrap their head around the fact two sides often wage war for differing reasons. It is a false choice to think that either the North fought the war over slavery from the outset, or that it had nothing to do with slavery at any point on either side. Most hold to the idea that the South seceded over slavery, and the North initially fought over secession. When it drug on for years into a death struggle, the reasons shifted as they often do in war.

"Most hold to the idea that the South seceded over slavery, and the North initially fought over secession."

Put a "primarily" after "seceded" there, and I'm fine with that sentence.

"When it drug on for years into a death struggle, the reasons shifted as they often do in war."

True, as far as it goes, although I daresay I'm probably not as charitable towards the Federal government's motives as you are.


Ah, what was the topic of this post?

The Chicken

True, as far as it goes, although I daresay I'm probably not as charitable towards the Federal government's motives as you are.

But see, that's not the proper way to look at it. You say I'm charitable towards the "federal government," but you misunderstand. The truth is that if Lincoln had not opposed secession by war his support would have collapsed and he would have been impeached. There is a great quote that I can't find about Lincoln smacking down someone quite severely by saying "You demanded this war, and now that you have it . . ." quite bitterly.

On your telling, Lincoln lead a gullible or naive public through a bitter war, but the truth is that the North was enraged over secession and was eager to put it down. The public demanded the war. It is no doubt true that without Lincoln's political skills and skills as commander-in-chief that war-weariness in the public would have made the effort collapse in 1864. But that is always the way it is. Without a good leader to finish what becomes difficult, very little group action gets done.

All you have to do is read CW diaries of soldiers to disabuse you of the notion that the "federal government" had any motives apart from what it's citizens did at the time. Our great-great-grandparents fought that war, not the "federal government." Many opposed the war, but large enough majority supported it to win, large enough majorities to get their way. In soldier's diaries you'll see many refer to "The Slave Power." Some thought slavery was immoral, and others were indifferent about that and hated the institution for economic or other reasons. But they say secession for what it was --an attempt to break up the government-- and they were incensed and indignant over this.

So when you use the expression "the Federal government's motives" in the context of a CW that had popular support, you are misunderstanding the political philosophy of the nation.

Ah, what was the topic of this post?

I think it is fair to say that most of the comments essentially revolved around this statement in the original post:

Suppose for the sake of the argument that there are no biologically innate differences, even at a statistical level, between . . .

I came to the conclusion that, apologies to Lydia, there is an incoherence in the sentence. Namely, that it doesn't make sense to say that there are biological differences at a statistical level. Biological differences must be at a biological level, or no level. They can certainly draw supporting evidence from anywhere thought to be relevant, as the case may be depending on the explanation offered, but there is a difference between what we measure and the thing itself. This especially matters for those, such as myself, that don't accept that IQ tests measure what they claim to measure, whatever other value they may have.

'So when you use the expression "the Federal government's motives" in the context of a CW that had popular support, you are misunderstanding the political philosophy of the nation.'

Says you. I'd say I just understand it differently than you do, which is not the same thing.

What I don't believe is that secession was illegal, or that the North's invasion of the South had much to do with slavery. And those are questions too complicated to get into here.

Yes, they really are too complicated for this. Nice Marmot, I would like to re-visit the CW eventually, but I would like to have some preparatory discussions first. If you can have some patience (I don't move fast here) and are willing to undertake some preliminary discussions, maybe we'll get back at this with some better grounding.

What I don't believe is that secession was illegal

Nice, I agree with you. I don't think it was illegal either, and have always thought so. But, as I've said in a previous debate, the illegality claim about secession comes from the South against the North, not the other way around. I'm not aware of any credible voice from a Unionist then or now that said that. Wars are extra-legal by definition. It was the Confederates or their romantics today that say "It was legal, and therefore the Unionist war was illegal." The Unionists say "it was not legal." That is entirely different from saying it is illegal. Entirely different.

The North never disputed the *natural* right to revolution, and those trump legal rights any day. But the South in essence was, in declaring it a legal matter, essentially saying "We have a right to an uncontested revolution." And that is the problem. That is special pleading, and it's a contradiction. A revolution that isn't contested isn't a revolution. And sovereign states can't appeal to a higher authority.

The Unionists say "it was not legal."

I forgot to explicitly state that the only reason for a Unionist to say "It wasn't legal" is because the Confederate claim "It was legal (or Constitutional.) If the Confederates don't claim that it was legal, there's no reason at all for a Unionist to say it isn't. Because they never thought it was a legal matter to begin with. The issue just never comes up.

Okay, okay, I've been really easy-going on this incredibly long thread lately going every possible which-way. But it's just getting so incredibly far afield to start discussing the Civil War that I really have to stop being lazy and say _something_.

Well, did you hear aboutthe teachers who helped their student cheat on an exam about the Civil War?

There. I've nicely combined both topics :)

A revolution that isn't contested isn't a revolution.

Of course it is. In fact, it's the best KIND of revolution.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I really think that just about any kid can be educated. The question is, is society really pro-kid? Look, modern education wants the latests and greatest "educational" toys, whereas simple is often better. My generation learned algebra with pencil and paper and we can do both graphing and computation much more efficiently than modern kids with their Ti-84 calculators. I once reviewed algebra textbooks for a private school I taught at and I found that, consistently, the older texts were easier to understand.

Really, the reasons kids are not educated, today, have nothing to do with educational opportunities.

The Chicken

A revolution that isn't contested isn't a revolution.

Of course it is. In fact, it's the best KIND of revolution.

The context was political philosophy, where will to oppose is presumed, not the collapse of will to rule or some "preference cascade" phenomenon.

Tony, I'm perfectly happy to discuss the CW, provided the discussion can be carried on without polemics and name-calling (which, Mark, your references to "Confederate romantics" are an example of. Not everyone who believes that the South had a valid case is a "romantic," and if that's going to encapsulate the tenor of discussions here I simply will not participate).

As a primer of sorts for our newer commentators, I would encourage them to read through this older thread about Lincoln and the Civil War.
http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2009/06/lincoln_open_thread_but_be_car.html

Sigh. Okay, guys, it's not that anyone is actually doing anything bad, but I've finally decided that the thread is just too long and by this time too diffuse and OT, so I'm going to curtail it rather than continuing to monitor it.

Go read Jeff Culbreath's great and interesting post on family and tradition. And when you comment on it, try really hard not to discuss the legality of the Civil War. :-) (I'm beginning to think that there is some kind of quantum bending of the reality field around here that draws all conversations unto that topic.)