RE: [xmca] Nobel prize talks stupid things about human intelligence

From: E. Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Mon Oct 22 2007 - 11:16:24 PDT


JW's comment (
concludes with this request: "[W]e as scientists, wherever we wish to place
ourselves in this great debate, should take care in claiming what are
unarguable truths without the support of evidence."

Some of the other comments also seem to give a more balanced view:

"Curtailing free debate is almost always a mistake. Allowing scientists and
individuals to air their theories openly does not validate them. On the
contrary it allows them to be refuted."


On 2007-10-21, at 01:26, Amanda Brovold wrote:
> Just for the record, it sounds to me as if Watson has suggested he may have
> been misquoted. In the article linked to 3 messages below he says: "I can
> understand much of this reaction. For if I said what I was quoted as
> saying, then I can only admit that I am bewildered by it. To those who have
> drawn the inference from my words that Africa, as a continent, is somehow
> genetically inferior, I can only apologise unreservedly. This is not what I
> meant. More importantly from my point of view, there is no scientific basis
> for such a belief." I am not sure why the first two sentences of this quote
> are generally left off when it is repeated. Such common occurrences though
> (even on this very list) lead me to believe it is plausible that what Watson
> said my not have been as appalling as what has been passed around makes it
> seem. I agree that it seems certain he has a view I very much disagree with
> and seems to be contradicted by the preponderance of evidence. However, I
> find un-thoughtful knee-jerk responses to such views to be at least as
> dangerous as the views themselves. I have heard people stress that it is
> important for academics to respond appropriately to events such as these. I
> very much agree, it is important for experts in the relevant fields to
> correct any misunderstandings that stories like this are likely to
> perpetuate. It is also extremely important though for the academy to
> remember that academic freedom is absolutely vital. As appalling as views
> expressed by one academic may be, the expression of controversial view
> points simply cannot be allowed to threaten the protections necessary for
> inquiry to be carried out.
> Something else to consider, phrased a different way, I feel confident that
> many people outraged by Watson's remarks would agree that in fact there are
> differences in the intelligences of different people, often correlated with
> differences in culture. These are not differences in terms of one being
> overall superior to another, but I do not think that reading is forced by
> the words that have been quoted without context, even if they are accurate.
> It is at least possible that Watson, as he now seems to claim, really meant
> to refer to differences without evaluating them. And isn't the recognition
> of the complexity of intelligence one of the things that makes many of the
> outraged so upset about IQ testing?
> -Amanda
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Received on Mon Oct 22 11:18 PDT 2007

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