Talk:Race and intelligence/Archive 3

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I suggest to you guys, as a disinterested newbie, that you remove the long-winded overview. It is tense, argumentative, and in my opinion unsuitable for a neutral encyclopedia. It has the feel of one person trying to say "race" doesn't have much meaning and another person trying to say it has plenty of meaning. After all of this fuss, the article freely talks about "Blacks," "Whites," and "Hispanics," and one wonders what all the fuss was for. Why not simply say that the word "race" will be used loosely in the sense that it is used loosely by most people, from civil rights leaders to politicians to the hoi polloi? I, for one, don't care whether Blacks and Whites and Hispanics are subspecies or populations or groups or divisions or what have you. But if I should care--if there is a deep reason that this spirited discussion of the meaning of "race" belongs in the article and not in Race--why not present it later as a subtopic? This article would be stronger if you got right to the crux of the matter--the Debate and the IQ gap.

I also suggest that the long section on the The Mismeasure of Man is inappropriate. It begs for a similar section from The Bell Curve. Just as tense. Just as much opportunity for potshots from the other side. It seems to me this belongs in an article entitled The Mismeasure of Man, which can be linked from Race and intelligence. If Gould's arguments are particularly meritorious, they should stand alone as subtopics. Maybe a subtopic called "Correlation is not causation," saying that some scientists believe that the link between average IQ score of a race and a race could be analogous to the link between Gould's age and the price of Swiss cheese.

Rmalloy 17:28, 9 Jul 2004 (UTC)

For the most part I agree with you. The reason that there is so much emphasis on the nature and definition of race in the intro is that there is a line of thought that efforts to disprove the existence of race will make moot any findings regarding "race and intelligence." This would make the rest of the article pointless. I personally find this particular argument to be weak rather weak. Why not implement your suggestions and see what people think once they're done? --Rikurzhen 20:02, Jul 9, 2004 (UTC)

I have just added the sentence in italics to the article:

Today virtually all scientists agree that no single characteristic, trait or even gene (i.e. haplotype) distinguishes all the members of one race from all the members of another race. (Similarly, no single characteristic, trait or gene always distinguishes all members of one species from all the members of another closely related species.)

The reason that I added this sentence was to add some very significant context. The original statement has been used by many writers, and in recent years, a growing number of scientists, to "prove" that race does not exist, and that it is merely a social construct. However, that position is false. While the facts in the sentence are correct, these facts simply do not lead to the radical conclusion that races do not exist. If one took that view, one could also deny the fact that different species exist! I thus am adding this additional information to disabuse people from using a straw-man argument. RK 16:08, Jun 18, 2004 (UTC)

Consider Wikipedia's (correct) description of what a species is (this is the same definition used in most college textbooks)

The biological species or isolation species concept identifies a species as a set of actually or potentially interbreeding organisms. This is generally the most useful formulation for scientists working with living examples of the higher taxa like mammals, fish, and birds, but meaningless for organisms that do not reproduce sexually. It distinguishes between the theoretical possibility of interbreeding and the actual likelihood of gene flow between populations. For example, it is possible to cross a horse with a donkey and produce offspring, however they remain separate species—in this case for two different reasons: first because horses and donkeys do not normally interbreed in the wild, and second because the fruit of the union is rarely fertile. The key to defining a biological species is that there is no significant cross-flow of genetic material between the two populations.

A similar definition of "species", proposed by Ernst Mayr is, "Groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations which are reproductively isolated from other such groups."

Because of this, scientists can (and do) categorize the dwarf Cambell's Russian hamster as a separate species from the Winter White (aka Siberian) dwarf hamster. These two species obviously came from a common ancestor relatively recently in biological history, but over time they spread to different locals, and became reproductively isolated, and developed diferent colorations, food preferences, and habits. However, since this definition is accepted as valid for all other animals on Earth, why are humans now considered the only exception to this rule? Following this rule, European Caucasians, Australian Aboriginees, and African Negros all would not only have been separate races, but in fact separate species. (This obviously changed with the breakdown of reproductive isolation that we have had in the past few centuries)

Now, I understand that in the past people mis-used this idea, and (wrongly) assumed that if species different, one must be more "advanced" than another. Some people therefore decided that the Caucasians were more advanced that Negros, and used this idea to justify racism. This is wrong. But we don't need to abandon scientific definitions (which imply that races are real, and not social constructs) in order to abandon incorrect thinking which leads to racism. RK 16:19, Jun 18, 2004 (UTC)

RK, the problem with your addition is that it is argumentative. I mean, literally -- as your comments here make clear, you are using it to make an argument (Some people claim that race is socially constructed; race shares a feature with species; species are real; thus, race is real). There are two problems with this. First, arguments should be explicit, and not worked into the text in this way. Second, this argument should be represented, but as an argument (that is, some people claim tha races are biologically real, others claim it is socially constructed; Wikipedia endorses neither view but explains both views -- NPOV policy). In the talk above you are arguing for this position. Slrubenstein
I have no problem with this.
For the record, I think you are wrong -- you misunderstand what people mean by "socially constructed" in general, and you misunderstand the argument about races as socially constructed in particular. But RK, it doesn't matter what I think -- and it doesn't matter what you think either! Wikipedia is not the place for our arguments. It is an encyclopedia, not a personal essay or place for primary research. As contributors our task is to research current views and articulate them in an article. If you or I have strong opinions on this material, we ought to find some other venue -- not here! Slrubenstein
I have no problem with this. However, I made the original change because the article was missing context; most people have no idea what it means for animals to be separate species, or sub-species, or breeds. Without this crucial context, the article is meaningless, and could only be polemical. RK 23:40, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)
Slrubenstein, your point is important. However, consider the parallel between the two sentences. Your own criticism could be leveled at the original first sentence. They are either both neutral or both POV. --Rikurzhen 17:33, Jun 18, 2004 (UTC)

There is no doubt that the view that race is socially constructed is a POV. But it is a POV that is widely shared by researchers. There is a minority view that races are biologically real. In this situation, NPOV is not achieved by presenting either of these views as neutral, nor by trying to synthesize some compromise view -- it is achieved by presenting both views, explaining who holds them and why. I think that the article in general does a good job of this -- but I think RKs change does not. Slrubenstein

I completely agree that NPOV is not achieved by presenting either of these views as neutral, nor by trying to synthesize some compromise view. BCorr|Брайен 13:42, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)
SLR, we need to phrase this carefully. This point of view, in its strong form, is not widely shared by most scientists. Rather, most scientists reject the extreme distortions of what the word "race" has come to represent. However, most scienists do not reject the existence of races (or sub-species) as a meaningful biological category. It is increasingly important in medical research, as many drugs have been found to have different effects in different races (or ethnic groups, sub-species, whatever word you prefer.) RK 23:40, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)
RK, I believe that the counter point you are recognizing is important to make, but I think it can be done more effecitvely if it is said directly. Also, I think that your sentence makes a claim that is too strong. I suspect that for every set of closely related species, there is at least one haplotype that can distinguish the two species.
I suggest that the new sentence should be replaced with a more direct one. Something like: This fact has been widely understood to limit the nature of human races. However, many researchers continue to believe that race has a real biological basis. --Rikurzhen 17:33, Jun 18, 2004 (UTC)
That's fine by me - but the great majority of scientists believe that races (or use whatever other word you wish) really do exist. Its not just a minority, as some people here believe. They don't believe that races are totally different species, or that one is superior to another, but they recognize the reality of these different groupings. (And they also recognize that races are not disappearing, with more travel between regions.) RK

RK -- I think that the arguments you've made above are confusing the difference between subspecies, breeds, and races. I also agree that it's argumentative, and rather than providing context, it blurs the real point of the sentence that precedes your addition. -- Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 18:35, 18 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I do not think that I am confusing the issue; Rather, I am trying to address both a science issue as well as a linguistic issue. Very few people describe blacks, whites and asians as subspecies or as breeds. Insteads, they use the word race. For a variety of reasons, people refuse to use the same terminology for humans as they use for the rest of life on Earth. We certainly could refer to Blacks, Whites, Aboriginees, and Asians as breeds, or as subspecies, but instead English speakers seem to have settled on the word "races". (I have no preference.) RK

There are no precise definitions for when a group is considered a subspecies, species, or a genus. For some animals, a certain amount of variation has given different groups the status of separate species. Yet for other unrelated animals, the same amount of variation has given different groups the status of different genus, or different sub-species! There's nothing "unfair" about this; It is just that different groups of biologists are giving names to different groups of animals, and there never has been any precise definition of when to use the designation for genus, species, or sub-species. So how do we discuss groups of humans? We need to use some English word, right? People seem to use the word "race". But you can use any words you like; my point is that whatever word we use, we need to recognize that actual differences between humans exist! Thus, one must use some word to describe this difference. RK

The real problem is that most of society is incapable of discussing this issue rationally. Some deny that biological differences exist; that is insane. Others claim that differences imply that one group is intrinsically superior to all others; that conclusion does not logically follow, and I find little evidence to support this claim. (Even if such variation existed, it is so small as to to have no real meaning.) Others admit that real differences exist, but they use cognative dissonance and refuse to use words like Race, breed or sub-species. That's no good; that is just refusing to discuss the issue honestly. (How would they describe our differences? By flavor?) I think that in an article on science, we should not be afraid to use scientific terminology. RK 23:35, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)

Intelligence and culture is real

The article currently states:

Anthropologists have argued that intelligence is a cultural category; some cultures emphasize speed and competition more than others, for example. Tests based on word skills cannot accurately measure learning ability. And most IQ tests ask people to solve problems most often encountered in middle class settings.
Yes, but there is no contradiction! People with middle-class educations usually have a much more rigorous education from kindergarten on up through college, as well as much richer lingustic development in the home, especially during the critical years from one to five, when most neural development in thinking and word-procesing occurs. In other words, of course the culture affects the education and the resulting intelliegence. However, the conclusion is preciselt the opposite of what the article says. The real conclusion is that some cultures lead to children (and then adults) with a higher IQ, i.e. a higher ability to perform problem-solving and a higher ability to engage in abstract thinking. It is not a question of nurture versus nature; the nurturing leads to physiological changes within the brain. RK 23:49, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)

The article also says:

Low IQ scores are often the result of the subject speaking a different language or dialect than the test questions, or being given the test by someone from another ethnic group, or simply being tired, malnourished, or ill. IQ tests do not measure mental ability, they do measure enculturation. During WWI African-Americans from the north tested higher than those from the south. This is simply because African-Americans in the north had received more formal education (see Race: Science and Politics, written by Ruth Benedict in 1940).
This is all true, but again, the conclusion is precisely the opposite of what the full paragraph implies. The only conclusion available from the data in this paragraph is that this formal education led to higher IQ! The same is true for an article about height and nutrition. Would anyone deny that in many Asian countries, Asians were shorter on average than European and American whites? No, that was a measurable fact. But after Asian countries modernized food production and distribution, malnutrition ended in many places, and well...we now have tall Asians kicking ass in American basketball. Would anyone argue that Asians are not any taller than 100 years ago? That would be crazy. Of course many Asians are taller, and they are taller due to changes in their upbringinf and environment, specifically nutrition. The fact that we can explain this change does not mean that the chang does not exist! The same is true for culture, education and intelligence (however you define the word). Changing one's culture and education will change a child's ability to understand abstract thinking, problem-solving and the ability to master new techniques (which is what IQ often refers to in practice.) RK 23:54, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)

Culture of poverty leads to real neural damage

To back up what I am saying above, please read the following paper: It does not say that Blacks and Hispancis are genetically inferior to Whites and Asians. However, in the USA many blacks and hispanics have a culture which prevents their children from fully developing their brains, and this can be accurately measured. The differences in mental ability between many inner-city kids and middle-class white families is staggering large, and obvious as early as five years old, and gets worse as time passes. This is probably the real reason for the observed IQ gap. The good news is that there is nothing genetic or racial about this, and that the article shows that an educationally rich upbringing is the key to the issue.

Researchers have gathered new evidence on the importance of the first years of life for children's emotional and intellectual development. Unfortunately, millions of American children are poor during these crucial years. Almost one in four (24 percent) of America's children under age three lived in poverty in 1995. These 2.8 million poor children face a greater risk of impaired brain development due to their exposure to a number of risk factors associated with poverty.
Many poor young children are resilient and able to overcome tremendous obstacles but poverty poses serious threats to children's brain development. Recent advances in the study of brain development show a sensitive period when the brain is most able to respond to and grow from exposure to environmental stimulation. This window of optimal brain development is from the prenatal period to the first years of a child's life. While all children are potentially vulnerable to a number of risk factors which can impede brain development during this sensitive period, a disproportionate number of children in poverty are actually exposed to such risk factors.

The article discusses the neural damage to many black and hispanic children due to inadequate nutrition, substance abuse of the children's parents, the high incidence of maternal depression, the exposure to environmental toxins, psychological trauma, and the neural effects of physical abuse. It is little wonder that the IQ gap exists. The problem is that too many people deny that it exists, thus allowing the problem to continue. My POV is that this view is effectively racist. A better attitude would be to admit that problems exist, and work on correcting them, as a healthy upbrining and good education should be the right of all children, and not just just for middle-class white and asian children.

Sources "Poverty and Brain Development in Early Childhood"

Historical Perspective

When looking diffrences in intelligence betwenn races one could look at history. The histories of civilazation have been fairly well documented. Many races have demonstrated the ability to create and maintain civilization time and time agian others have not. Some races have never developed civilazation on there own. If you look at the races that have never created a civilaztion and compare that to existing civilaztions that consist of races who were given civilaztion by outside sources you will see that these very same groups seem to have trouble maintaining them on there own. Looking at the cultural and technological history of humans you can see that there seems to be a direct correlation between their relitive cultural and technological achievement and their iq scores ie Asians were for long period of time the most culturally and technologiclly advanced race for a couple thousand years(caucasians moved ahead in the last 4oo years or so) the have the highest mean iq scores, Europeans were the second they fall in second place in iq as well with Africans at the bottom of technological achievement and iq scores. This seems to be significant.

Note: I made this brief and did include all possible race classifications and civilaztions for the sake of simplicity but you get the idea. Freespeak 06:53, 22 Aug 2004 (UTC)

You should look up the Mali Empire. They had 400 years of dominance in their region as well. -- Toby Bartels 06:47, 30 Aug 2004 (UTC)

The 30 million word gap by age 3

There is an IQ difference between middle- and upper-class white children, and lower-class and welfare blacks and Hispanic children; the only questions are (a) Why does this gap exist, and (b) How can we close the gap? The above article sumamrize many reasons for the difference (i.e. the large amount of neurological damage, i.e. brain damage) But there is another terrifying difference: Many blacks and hispanics never are given the opportunity to fully develop their brains - they literally never hear millions of words during the time when their brains are developing lingustic skills! Without this linguistic input during their developing years, many are observed to quickly fall behind, and they can never catch up.

A linear extrapolation from the averages in the observational data to a 100-hour week (given a 14-hour waking day) shows the average child in the professional families with 215,000 words of language experience, the average child in a working-class family provided with 125,000 words, and the average child in a welfare family with 62,000 words of language experience. In a 5,200-hour year, the amount would be 11.2 million words for a child in a professional family, 6.5 million words for a child in a working-class family, and 3.2 million words for a child in a welfare family. In four years of such experience, an average child in a professional family would have accumulated experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family would have accumulated experience with 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family would have accumulated experience with 13 million words. By age 4, the average child in a welfare family might have 13 million fewer words of cumulative experience than the average child in a working-class family. This linear extrapolation is shown in the graph below.

Please, please read the above study before contributing to this Wikipedia article. It is time to stop denying that such difference exist; that effectively stops a search for the problem, and prevents us from finding solutions. That effectively is racist, damning many minority children to a very poor future. Instead of denying the problem, how about studying it scientifically, and look for real-world solutions? RK 00:22, Jun 21, 2004 (UTC)

Source: The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3 Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, American Educaton, Spring 2003

Point of order

There is a separate article devoted to race. It seems unnecessary to re-hash that entire debate in this article. Right?--Rikurzhen 04:37, Jun 21, 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. I also removed one paragraph from this article because it rehashes the race article. RK
Removed material: Because of a population bottleneck, humans are relatively very similar at the level of genotype. Some would argue that this genetic similarity disproves the existence of races. Consistent with that hypothesis, most of the total genetic variation can be found within, not between races. Nevertheless, population geneticists have studied patterns in the distribution of various genes and the functional importance of human genetic variation. Most scientists agree that genetically distinguishable populations have developed during the last 50,000 years, with episodes of genetic mixture between groups throughout. At least some of the phenotypic differences between populations (such as skin color) seem to have functional importance (such as adaptation to climate). Moreover, the distribution of many such differences follows a geographic continuum.

Heavy reading

Here are two articles in press that are worth considering. They both directly relate to the question of race and intelligence.

--Rikurzhen 04:38, Jun 21, 2004 (UTC)

Apparently, very few Wikipedians have this page bookmarked. If more had been watching (and most view themselves as liberal), I'd be hissed and booed at, and you'd be tarred and feathered. You are openly discussing scientific subjects that many people think should not be discussed. (Glazer, anyone?) The first article sounds right on, and contains important points; it also matches my own experiences and observations. I don't have enough knowledge about the second article to know whether it is correct or not; my current view is that IQ differences are very real, very large, and have a high cost on society, but most of the IQ gap is probably caused by poor neural development (see the above papers). But one would have to be blindly ideological to assume that all human populations have precisely the same genetic ability for IQ; since that isn't true for any other ability humans have, why should it be true here? I wouldn't be surprised if genes accounted for 10% to 50% of a person's eventual intelligence (the rest being environmental.) So genes could be a significant factor in the IQ gap. If so, this IQ gap could still be greatly reduced with better education. RK 01:59, Jun 22, 2004 (UTC)
This doesn't have to do with just race and intelligence, per se, but the overwhelming majority of psychologists who study IQ and "general intelligence" ("G") believe that intelligence, as defined by IQ, has a heritability between .6 at the low end and .8 at the high end, where heritability is very closely related to the correllation between the parents' IQ. This includes studies of separated identical twins in very different environments, removing "identical nurture" from equation. So, far from being 10% to 50% of general intelligence, most psychologists believe it to be from 60% to 80% hereditary.

Loweeel 09:09, Jun 22, 2004 (EDT)