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

From: E. Knutsson <eikn6681 who-is-at>
Date: Mon Oct 22 2007 - 17:03:41 PDT

David P,

It remains diffuse to me what you mean by "doing science." The Steve Connor
comment says a lot of things (as already mentioned: representing a more
balanced view). The issue here (as far as I am concerned) is not to decide "who
is right" (that would be outside the scope of my competence, anyway) but rather
to emphasize the scholarly legitimacy or value of conflicting views, of
multivocal/polyphonic (or, perhaps, cacophonic) discourses. The papers you
referred to earlier, seem to me to represent that kind of "cacophony."


On 2007-10-22, at 22:08, David Preiss wrote:
> Eirik,
> 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.
> David
> David
> 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.
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> Escuela de Psicología
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Received on Mon Oct 22 17:05 PDT 2007

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