Recently behavior geneticist Eric Turkheimer participated in a commentary on Charles Murray and the issue of race differences in intelligence. Since I am not a behavior geneticist, I won’t argue the point that there is no present methodology to test for group differences in traits like IQ, although the recent method of estimating group IQ on the basis of the frequencies of the all the known genes associated with IQ seems promising. I focus here on Turkheimer’s claims on the ethics of studying race differences.
In previous comments on the science of race differences, Turkheimer noted:
Why Race Science is Objectionable
If I may address my fellow Jews for a moment, consider this. How would you feel about a line of research into the question of whether Jews have a genetic tendency to be more concerned with money than other groups? Nothing anti-semitic, mind you, just a rational investigation of the scientific evidence. It wouldn’t be difficult to measure interest in money and materialism, and it wouldn’t surprise me if as an empirical matter Jews scored a little higher on the resulting test than other groups. As a behavioral geneticist I can assure you without reservation that the trait would be heritable, and, if anyone bothered to take the time to find out, specific genes would have small associations with it. Of course, this research program has already been carried out, at least to the extent the relevant technology was available in 1939. While we are at it we could open a whole scientific institute for the scientific study of racial stereotypes, and finally pull together the evidence on sneaky Japanese, drunken Irish, unintelligent Poles, overemotional women and lazy Italians.
This is a naked appeal to the ethnic interests of his ethnic group — exactly the problem with the “scientists” reviewed in The Culture of Critique. Race realists associated with the Alt Right, on the other hand, have tended to go with the data. They accept the findings that the IQs of Ashkenazi Jews and East Asians are higher than White means. The main issue, after all is White identity and White interests in being able to construct their own societies as other groups around the world have done and continue to do — whatever their talents or deficiencies compared to other groups.
Hopefully I am beginning to offend you. Why? Why don’t we accept racial stereotypes as reasonable hypotheses, okay to consider until they have been scientifically proven false? They are offensive precisely because they violate our intuition about the balance between innateness and self-determination of the moral and cultural qualities of human beings. No reasonable person would be offended by the observation that African people have curlier hair than the Chinese, notwithstanding the possibility of some future environment in which it is no longer true. But we can recognize a contention that Chinese people are genetically predisposed to be better table tennis players than Africans as silly, and the contention that they are smarter than Africans as ugly, because it is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair.
The reason we must not delve in to race science thus depends on “intuition.” Unfortunately, we all have different intuitions. Perhaps he is talking about the intuitions of liberal university professors. Or activist Jews. Read more