By this time we are two thirds into the program. We are back with Richard Nisbett, who is asked to comment on Rushton’s research correlating IQ with brain size. At this point it seems appropriate to point out that Rushton was not asked (nor given space) to explain how he arrived at his conclusions, so the viewer has no idea whether Rushton’s data are superior to Nisbett’s or the other way around. This omission seems convenient for the egalitarian position, given that Nisbett isgiven space to support his conclusions by citing studies. If I were to think badly, it would be easy to imagine this is a tactic designed to make Nisbett appear the better scientist.
Nisbett considers “the whole brain size issue to be a red herring,” and points, with visible condescension, to the existence of a group of people in Ecuador who have head sizes “four standard deviations below the average”and yet perform better in school than “the other people in their community.”His source, however, is a study of a population with Laron Syndrome, a growth hormone deficiency. By citing this study, Nisbett is, like Omaar earlier in the film, effectively conflating two dimensions in order to “prove” the lack of a linear brain size versus IQ correlation. Nisbett needs to compare like with like, not abnormal subjects with normal subjects, if he is to disprove Rushton’s correlation.
Rushton’s data are based on dozens of studies that examined brain sizes utilizing four different methods: MRI scans, “endocranial volume from empty skulls, brain weight at autopsy, or external head size (with or without corrections for body size)” (Rushton & Jensen, 2009), which have shown a consistent correlation, from the 1840s to the present. Rushton and Jensen argue that
larger brains are more intelligent because they contain more neurons and synapses and process information faster and more efficiently. … Rushton … averaged the data and found: East Asians = 1,364 in cm3; Whites = 1,347; and Blacks = 1,267, with a standard deviation of about 10%. Thus, the overall mean for East Asians was 17 cm3 more than that for Whites and 97 cm3 more than that for Blacks. Within-race differences due to differences in method of estimation averaged 31 cm3. Since 1 cubic centimeter of brain tissue contains millions of brain cells and billions of synapses, race differences in brain size help to explain their IQ differences. Indeed, if the racial differences in brain size did not relate to cognitive ability, it would be a mystery why such differences in number of neurons would ever have evolved since they are metabolically very expensive.
Strangely, despite these data being the result of direct measurements from a large aggregate sample, Nisbett dismisses this as indirect evidence.
Stating his preference for direct evidence, which he claims can be found in natural experiments — experiments that occur naturally, without being set up by scientists — he opens a second line of attack. He tells us that Blacks in the United States have, on average, 20% European genes (this is the accumulated result of admixture — inter-racial mating and reproduction — over time). He adds that the proportion of European ancestry among Afro-Americans varies greatly between individuals, with some being almost entirely White. (In the US, anyone with Black ancestry, irrespective of proportion, is classed as Black). If Rushton is correct, argues Nisbett, then it would follow that those Blacks who have a higher proportion of European ancestry would have higher IQs, and those with a higher proportion of Black ancestry would have lower IQs. Nisbett asserts that there is“not a shred of evidence that this is the case” and points to a Chicago study of Black school children with “extremely high IQs, genius-level IQs” where it was found that intelligence did not correlate with the proportion of Black and White ancestry.
A casual listener would likely believe this Chicago study refutes Rushton’s conclusions. And this is, indeed, the second “Aha!” moment in the film. But, what is this Chicago study? Nisbett confirmed to me that it is a study published in theJournal of Educational Psychology in 1934. Notice the date: 1934. This is an early study, which, crucially, provides no indication for how the degree of racial admixture was ascertained.
The Chicago study cited by Nisbett as evidence dates back to 1934, and it is, therefore, of the same vintage as the Buick shown in the picture — then a brand new, modern convertible.
A subsequent study published in 1936 by the same author relied on “genealogical data provided by parents.” This last aspect is a major methodological weakness, acknowledged by the author, who writes
in some instances individuals are unable to determine their own degree of racial mixture. The data are further subject to the weakness of all genealogical material: deliberate inaccuracy of report and failure to account for the totality of ancestry.
In a country where ‘Negro’ could mean anything from a person with wholly African ancestry to one with mostly European genes (e.g. Colin Powell), self-reported ancestry based on conventional racial categorizations, even assuming the children’s parents were all completely candid, is unreliable. In our correspondence, Lynn pointed out that Blacks in Chicago have a high proportion of White ancestry in general.
Moreover, Lynn’s more recent 2002 study, “Skin color and intelligence in African Americans,” published in Population and Environment, shows that lighter-skinned Blacks have higher IQs than darker-skinned Blacks. This was confirmed by another study, published in the journal Intelligence in 2006.
One wonders why Nisbett cites as evidence studies that are either outdated and methodologically flawed or irrelevant because they rely on data from with abnormal subjects with a hormone deficiency. One need not wonder, however, why Omaar, the Black journalist doing a documentary for Channel 4 (a channel that employs a Head of Diversity), is content simply to accept it from Nisbett.
Nevertheless, it is interesting that, when it appears to disprove inconvenient findings (such as those of Lynn and Rushton), Omaar suddenly sees no problem with a study based significantly on Terman’s Stanford-Binet IQ test, as was the Chicaco study. Is not Omaar’s belief that IQ tests are not a valid method of measuring intelligence? Omaar’s willingness to accept evidence is clearly a function of the degree to which it flatters his racial vanity. And is that not what he is tacitly accusing Lynn and Rushton and other scientists of doing?
The Rose-y View
Having heard from Jones and Nisbett, Omaar positions the ball before the goal,“It seems to me race is not a useful scientific category at all. A view shared by neuroscientist Steven Rose.” Steven Rose’s visage then fills the screen. He asserts:
The social definitions of race — black, white, for example — don’t match the biological definitions. I mean, if you look at gene frequencies, for example, there are differences, on average, between North Welsh and Southern Welsh people, but you wouldn’t call the North Welsh a different race from the Southern Welsh people. There are differences between different groups of people in Africa, and yet what racist language does is group allBlack Africans as if they are one group. That makes no sense in biological terms, in genetic terms at all.
While it is right and proper to point out that there is a mismatch between social and biological definitions of race, the ensuing analogy is preposterous. Saying that it would be wrong to mislabel two subcategories as categories does not discredit categorization: It discredits the person misapplying the labels.
Rose’s claim that “racist language” lumps all kinds of different groups into one is an exact inversion of the truth: The language of race seeks to differentiate groups. Leftist ideologues like Rose are the ones doing the lumping, by saying, for example, that there is no race but the human race, when humans are, in fact, racially diverse. In sum, Rose presents us with irrelevant straw man arguments.
His next assertion is telling. When asked by Omaar why the debate between race and intelligence persists, Rose looks down, scratches his head, sighs, and replies with a sardonic smile:
Because we live in a racist society, it’s very simple. Questions of differences in intelligence between black people and white people wouldn’t make any sense unless you live in a racist society.
The study of human cognition, in all its diversity, is a legitimate field of scientific study. Unfortunately for some people (and not necessarily Blacks, by the way), scientists have discovered that populations differ in their level of endowment on the psychological dimension of intelligence. This dimension is highly valued in European cultures, so findings have caused controversy among some Whites, as well as Blacks who have grown up, or been influenced by, European cultures.
These findings are flattering to people like Steven Rose, who is Jewish: Ashkenazi Jews top the world’s IQ league table. Yet, Jewish scholars like Rose, and as his Marxist colleagues and co-authors, Leon Kamin, Richard Lewontin, and Stephen Jay Gould, have campaigned aggressively to make and keep the study of race differences in intelligence an illegitimate area of scientific inquiry — to make it a scientific taboo. (See Chapter 2 of Kevin MacDonald’s, The Culture of Critique.)
Personally, I welcome the inclusion of Steven Rose in the film, since presenting all sides of an argument is good journalism. I do have a problem, however, with the fact that the audience is not told that Rose represents a fiercely political, egalitarian, Marxist position.
Rose is more than a scientist: he is also a political activist. In 2001, The Guardian (a Leftist “quality daily” newspaper in the United Kingdom) described him as “Professor Jeckyll and Comrade Hyde,” “a radical biochemist.” and “a polemicist on the left.” It quotes his friend Patrick Bateson describing Rose as “the last of the Marxist radical scientists.” His style is said to be “aggressive,” and “ferocious.” And he is also thought by Bateson to have overstated his position on IQ.
Why does Omaar describe him simply as “a neuroscientist”? Even if Rose was included solely for the sake of completeness, it would be wrong to see him as representing the polar opposite of Rushton and Lynn, because, politically, the latter do not represent an extreme position on the Right in the way Rose represents an extreme position on the Left: Unlike Rose, Rushton and Lynn are not political activists. Although a physicist, the nearest equivalent to Rose that I can think of on the Right is Dr. William Pierce.
Dr. William Pierce
Happy with Rose’s remarks, Omaar reflects, “It seems race is not a useful scientific category at all. So maybe it’s towards society that I need to focus my attention in explaining the race gap in IQ.”
In the next scene we are back with William ‘Lez’ Henry. He relates how his Black students, who, according to him, are “massively underachieving,” associate being intelligent with White attitudes and behaviors. This is unsurprising and normal in a White society, yet it is an important insight in this film. It explains why many Black students, many of whom have been macerated in a racial political discourse of historical grievance, do not think it “cool” to be intelligent and proficient in an academic sense.
But I suggest that perhaps what Henry calls ‘underachieving’ is not so, if we stop attempting to measure the diverse peoples of the world by White standards. As Rushton suggested in Race, Evolution, and Behavior (1995), if Sub-Saharan Black African children appear lively and fully functional, despite having IQs that in relation to the Caucasoid norm would indicate mental retardation, it might be because such low IQs are normal for Sub-Saharan populations.
Certainly, traditional Sub-Saharan societies have never placed as high a cultural emphasis or high a value on, nor ever seem to have had as strong a need for, high levels of general intelligence, hard work, delayed gratification, and betterment through education, as have Confucian and European societies.
Lynn has proposed that the harsh European winters exerted evolutionary pressures that selected for general intelligence over tens of thousands of years, as populations would have had to solve the problem of keeping warm and staying fed in sub-Arctic regions with lower energy per area unit, and where the ready availability of food was dramatically reduced during a sizeable portion of the year. Kevin MacDonald has further proposed that under such harsh climactic conditions, cultural attitudes putting a premium on regionally adaptive traits (like general intelligence) would have developed as a result.
Could it not be the case, then, that these so-called “underachieving” Blacks derive, ultimately, from cultures that place greater value on traits other than general intelligence because these cultures were developed by populations evolved in tropical environments where our relatively high level general intelligence was not needed for survival?
If so, then perhaps the problem is not that there is a race gap in IQ, but that some — i.e., everyone in the program, except Lynn, Rushton, and Watson (following Shockley, Goddard, and Terman) — refuse to embrace human diversity, and would rather force entire groups of people with varying suites of traits to conform to what is for those people a highly artificial European standard. The attempt to do so is, to my mind, not only wrong-headed, but a form of cultural totalitarianism — which is ironic, considering that those who criticize Lynn and Rushton claim to oppose totalitarianism and believe themselves to be champions of diversity.
Go to Part 5 of this article.