Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Genetics of IQ and the Declaration of Independence

The recent controversy over James Watson's comments on the lower intelligence of black Africans reminds us of one of the enduring debates over Darwinian science. If we accept Darwin's theory of evolution, we must accept the possibility that human races might have evolved to be innately different in intelligence in response to their environments of evolutionary adaptation. Modern genetics and intelligence testing suggest that this is the case, because Africans have lower average IQ scores than Europeans, who have lower scores than East Asians, and Jews have some of the highest average IQ scores. Twin studies indicate that about half of the variation in IQ is genetic. Studies suggest that these genetic differences are correlated with head size and brain size, so that genes influencing brain size could be the inherited cause of IQ differences. A good brief survey of this research has been provided recently by William Saletan in some posts for SLATE.

The moral and political problem with this research is that it seems to deny that principle of equality proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence, and thus it seems to subvert the moral foundations of modern republican government. Some of the religious critics of Darwinian science would say that this is exactly what they have feared: if we reject the Biblical teaching that human beings were created in God's image, and if we see human beings as products of an evolutionary process that sets some races over others, then we have no ground for affirming the equal moral dignity of all human beings.

But for a variety of reasons, this worry about Darwinian science promoting inequality and racist exploitation is unjustified. First of all, it's not clear that Biblical religion solves the problem. After all, as I have noted in various posts, the Bible actually endorses slavery, and throughout history, slaveholders have been able to justify slavery as Biblically grounded. It's not even clear that the Bible teaches the moral equality of all human beings. The Bible begins by elevating the Jews as the Chosen People over all other human beings, and it concludes in the book of Revelation by setting the people of Christ against the people of Satan in a bloody battle at the end of history.

Moreover, the Darwinian account of human nature is fully compatible with the principle of equality as understood in the Declaration of Independence. I have elaborated my reasoning for this conclusion in my chapter on slavery in Darwinian Natural Right: The Biological Ethics of Human Nature. Darwinian science justifies the claim of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln that, although human beings are naturally unequal in many respects (including intelligence), they are equal in those minimal emotional and intellectual capacities that sustain a moral sense and thus identify them as members of the human species. This understanding of human equality requires not equality as identity but equality as reciprocity: although unequal in many respects, all normal human beings will resist exploitation and demand social cooperation based on reciprocal exchange.

"This is a world of compensation; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave." "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy." Thus did Lincoln capture the logic of equality supporting republican government. Human beings are unequal in many respects. But our natural resistance to exploitation is such that no normal person would consent to be a slave, and so no one can consistently seek mastery based on any principle of superiority without exposing himself to being enslaved. If superior intelligence is the ground of enslavement, Lincoln warned, then beware: you must agree to be enslaved by the first person you meet who is smarter than you.

Moreover, the debate over the nature and nurture of intelligence is complicated in ways that make it impossible for any group to claim innate superiority. James Flynn has shown that rising IQ scores over the past century indicate the complex interaction of nature and nurture in shaping intelligence. There is some genetic influence in intelligence, but a very slight influence from genetic causes is multiplied by environmental causes. This is what Flynn calls "reciprocal causation." Slight genetic differences are multiplied in certain environments in ways that mask the environmental influence. So, for example, people who are genetically inclined to be a little bit taller and quicker than average might grow up in Indiana, where playing basketball would develop their skills to a high pitch. Similarly, the environment in modern industrial societies cultivates certain kinds of cognitive skills that are partially genetic. There is a genetic influence. But it's magnified by environmental conditions.

Another problem with measuring "intelligence" quantitatively is that there are many different kinds of intelligence--practical intelligence, mathematical intelligence, verbal intelligence, emotional intelligence, musical intelligence, and so on. Different kinds of social roles might demand different kinds of intelligence. Darwinian science supports this by stressing the biological fact of individual variation. No two human beings are identical in intelligence or any other trait. Even identical twins are not really identical. As I have argued, human nature shows a universal pattern of 20 natural desires, but individuals are unique in their temperaments in how they rank or order those desires.

Republican government is not based on the principle that all human beings are equal in the sense of being identical. It is based on the principle that all human beings resist exploitation by others, and thus that no human being is good enough to govern any other person without that person's consent. Government by consent of the governed allows the ambitious few to satisfy their ambition for rule, while also allowing others to consent to their rule without being exploited.

Some other posts on this topic can be found here and here.


Anonymous said...

I think what you implied is: when it comes to intelligence(s) required to thrive in a high-tech democratic society, blacks are genetically inferior to whites. After all that was Watson's basic point that has prompted all the recent discussion. So don't be bashful, don't beat around the bush, just come out and state it clearly: WATSON WAS CORRECT...

Larry Arnhart said...

And whites are genetically inferior to East Asians, who are genetically inferior to Jews?

How should we explain the "Flynn effect"--the rise in average IQ scores over the past few generations?

Anonymous said...

"And whites are genetically inferior to East Asians, who are genetically inferior to Jews?" Yes. That is absolutely 100% true.

Flynn effect is improved awareness and test-taking capability in more media-intense and technologically-advanced societies. But the fundamental race-intellectual gaps remain. Apart from IQ_Tests, intelligence shows clearly in decision-making capability. Did you really read The Bell Curve? All of it. And understand the logic and methodology behind all the tables, figures, and conclusions? The first 12 chapters discussed only white people and validated the methodology. PC-types trashed this book with deluges of emotional screams but NO DATA.

Suggest you read Hart "Understanding Human History" and Lynn "Race Differences in Intelligence." Particular telling data comes from light reaction time tests (several independent investigations) which are totally unbiased racially, and show differences in brain processing speeds that correlate well with all other testing (what Watson referred to) showing racial differences.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, we are speaking of GROUPS here, not individuals...

Larry Arnhart said...

Genes by themselves do nothing.

The influence of genes on human psychological and behavioral traits depends on a complex interaction of causal factors in the life history of human individuals. As I have argued many times on this blog, a Darwinian account of human nature requires an understanding of the complex interaction of natural history, cultural history, and individual judgment. As Jablonka and Lamb (EVOLUTION IN FOUR DIMENSIONS, 2005) have indicated, there are at least four levels of evolutionary development--the genetic, the epigenetic, the behavioral, and the symbolic. With the exception of a few single-gene disorders (like Huntington's chorea), the expression of genes does not unfold in a linear, deterministic fashion.

So although there surely is some genetic influence on intelligence, that influence cannot be reduced to any simple deterministic causality.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming the Majority of Comments here are from "EURO-Americans".

Therefore, as with most things in life, a grain of fine salt may be my best friend for the duration of this post.

We'd have to really take a look at Darwins's life in General.

Who was he?

What were his characteristics?

Why should he be an influential factor?

In all acutality, I'm smelling hints of The Ol' Boys club.

We can Group individuals into classes and make assumptions only because there is a constant trend or pattern that their lives have taken.

For instance Slavery was a huge component of the Majority of Blacks lives for 100's of years.

Systemized, free from harm-schooling for Most Whites.

I've always taken the notion of identifying the source of any propaganda befor endorsing it. This causes a deeper/ prolonged facaded of SEPARATION.

It's sort of like that game playedi n grade school. One person would whispher a quote into his/her neighbor's ear and the story would be totally different one the end was near.

As a "Black" individual and top of my class for many years, until I chose other environmental factors, I'm in total disagreeance witht his "World/White Proclaimed Genius" Darwin.

My schools were of a proportionately mixed group of Whites, Blacks, Asian, Mexican, etc.

It boils down to not a race, but so many intricate outward environmental factors, that can be swayed.

I've met stupi White crackheads, as well as Black crackheads. Each were as equally as dumb.

The whole theory is blown, as soon as you find one person in any race that differs from the conclusions.

Really as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Jewish people are the most intelligent. They win almost 40% of the Nobel Prize's and they have a small population of only 14 million. So by far they exceed the other races in intelligence. The other races having huge numbers and such small contributions.

IQ tests, test intellectual conformity, not creativity and originality. This would explain the Asian high IQ's. They as a people are the ultimate conformists.

In IQ tests there is typically only one answer to the problem. That problem being a social conformity to reason. But everyone knows that Genius's and all of the greatest developments in the world are not the product of conformity. Conformity never breeds creativity. We can see this in the lack of influence the Asian population has had on Science. China used to be called the "sick man" of Asia. Their population is massive and their contribution to innovation is almost nil. We can see this lack of originality in their adoptation of European philosophies, I.e. Communism.

Friedrich Nietzsche and other Philosophers have critized Asians. Nietsche used the words "Pallid osification" to describe Orientals.

Pallid: lacking sparkle or liveliness.

Osification: The process of becoming set and inflexible in behavior, attitudes, and actions. Inflexible conformity, rigid unthinking acceptance of social conventions.

The reality is Asian people have yet to understand that laws and rules are arbitrary. Europeans make the rules and Asian's follow them.

It also doesn't make sense that Asian's are considered smart because of the fact that they have destroyed their own countries. This is due to over-population and their basic lack of enviromental understanding.

It is also common scientific fact that women who have many children are ignorant, and those who have less children are more intelligent. This has already been proven in studies. So it seems strange to say that Asians are smart when the obviousness of their backwards countries, and medieval lifestyle makes them contrary to that premise.

Europeans have the most advanced civilizations and every other race has yet to meet these levels other than the Japanese. The Japanese only being good at copying other people's inventions and making them better. Other than that their original creativity is lacking as well. They took American cars and made them better. They took the German camera and made it better. And they took German steel and made it better. Otherwise the greatest advances still come from Europeans and Jews. Other than that the Orientals have yet to produce an Einstein or a Thomas Edison.

When it comes to Black people. It makes sense that they have low intellectual comformity, I.e. IQ tests. They are far too creative to be trapped in this unoriginal form of conditioning. You can tell their creative capacity in their athletics, music, dance, and the way they talk. They by far exceed the Asiatic races in these areas. Being better singers, musicians ect. Blacks far exceed Asians in emotive expression. In all of North America there is only one or two famous high-paid Asian actors.

Reality, Europeans rule the world and they have allowed others to exist only out of desire for economic bennifet. They, (Europeans) are also the physically strongest, winning the Strongest Man competitions again and again.

The greater the conformity, the weaker the race. Thus we see the races as they are today. The wild animal being bred out of man, and the physically impotent, conformist thriving.

Otherwise "Group psychology" is the most destructive thing in the world. All these stereotypes are false when it comes to the individual. Individualism is the most important thing for this time. All countries, Religions, groups need to dissolve for man to live in peace.

Anonymous said...

Darwinism is about survival.
to get me here
my antestors probably warred, murdered, stole, cheated and raped.

They also probably rescued, befriended, policed, invented and loved.

Their actions probably always decided by circumstances and environment, tight decisions calculated with intelligence.

My strength, intelligence, shape,color were all forged over generations that survived in Europe. That probably gives me an advantage on my home pitch, but is a weakest on away pitches.

In Darwinism, Intelligence is only important when it helps you survive. Being intelligent and Knowledgable is expensive in terms resources. Books, Schools, teachers help us survive office politics, modern women.... today.

But what if there was global energy and food resource crisis. In this new environment, the mob will set up new elites. Those that did well with the knowledge and the conbinations of intelligence in the past may be big losers in this new world.
Natures dark arts of war, cheating, stealing and lying will be used for group and individual for survival. The only reason these dark tools exist today, is because they were successful stategies for groups and individuals in humanities past. If they were not sucessful they would been bred out of us. This is the truth that modern religion hides from us. Humans are not born good or bad, smart or dumb, strong or weak, fast or slow. Most Humans are simply born to try and survive, most humans are born good and bad, smart and dumb, strong and weak, fast and slow

I think this is the magic of religion, it doesn't really matter what you believe in, what religion does is bring people together in groups, maybe even genitically diverse people. Humans survive better in communities because thay have the support of a pack. I believe loneliness is an emotion that drives people to the safety of a pack. In Nature,being on your own is danagerous for a human. Punishment could be death. All religions design the rules of social interaction, so that individuals have rules to live by that will benefit the groups survival and therefore the individuals survival chances.