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

From: David Preiss <davidpreiss who-is-at>
Date: Mon Oct 22 2007 - 13:08:50 PDT


The Steve Connor comment you send us (second link below) tells
exactly why JW was not doing science at all. Particularly, why you
can't infer from an heritability ratio a conclusion about the
intelligence of people that works with you (as Watson say). On the
other hand, something can be statistically heritable and not genetic
at all. A nice explanation is in the Sternberg, Grigorenko and Kidd
paper I sent before.


On Oct 22, 2007, at 3:16 PM, E. Knutsson wrote:

> Amanda,
> JW's comment (
> article3075642.ece)
> 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."
> Eirik
> 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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David Preiss, Ph.D.
Subdirector de Extensión y Comunicaciones
Escuela de Psicología
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860
Macul, Santiago

Fono: 3544605
Fax: 3544844
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Received on Mon Oct 22 13:11 PDT 2007

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