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I'm not sure what got into Andrew Sullivan (The Daily Dish) but I stopped following him on Twitter after this. Apparently periodically he revives this "political correctness prevents inquiry" crap. Perhaps because he used to be a right-winger. And perhaps because he is an avowed Catholic. But hey, I'm using ad hominem attacks against him and I shouldn't. He could be a right-winger and a Catholic, and still be right. But he is not right about this, because he has no evidence for his claim. And he doesn't even know enough about genetics (or measurement of IQ) to have an educated opinion. There is no "resilence of racial differences in IQ data."


I found this very detailed post stating why he is wrong. It would be nice if Andrew Sullivan admitted to being wrong. I doubt he is a real racist, it's probably his ego getting in the way of admitting he is wrong.


That Bell Curve Crap -- Again

by Steven D
Tue Nov 29th, 2011 at 07:14:13 PM EST

I understand the fascination with certain white people wanting to justify their political agenda through insisting that African Americans are genetically pre-determined to be less intelligent than whites. Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most well known media figure who continues to promote this view over and over:


[The study of intelligence] has been strangled by p.c. egalitarianism. The reason is the resilience of racial differences in IQ in the data, perhaps most definitively proven by UC Berkeley psychologist Arthur Jensen:


"Jensen is still greatly respected by many traditional intelligence researchers," Garlick says. "By 'traditional intelligence researchers,' I mean researchers who still value IQ and continue to do studies that evaluate the effectiveness of IQ in predicting outcomes, or studies that examine possible mechanisms that may cause differences in IQ. However, due to the unpopularity of Jensen’s findings, this group of researchers is now very small.

"The major move in response to Jensen’s findings hasn’t been rigorous and compelling research to try and disprove his hypotheses and findings. Rather, it has led to an exodus of researchers away from the area, and a drying up of grant funding and research positions for researchers interested in IQ."

Andrew Sullivan fails to acknowledge that the conclusions reached by the authors of the Bell Curve have been shown to be insufficient to show a genetic component between IQ and race (two nebulous concepts in and of themselves).


In The Bell Curve Herrnstein and Murray argue that a youth's intelligence (IQ) is a more important determinant of social and economic success in adulthood than is the socioeconomic status (SES) of his or her parents. Herrnstein and Murray base this conclusion on comparison of effects of IQ score (measured at ages 15 and 23) and the effects of an index of parents' SES from models of economic status, marriage, welfare use, involvement in crime, as well as several outcomes for young children. Reviewers of The Bell Curve have questioned whether Herrnstein and Murray's estimates of the effects of IQ are overstated by their use of a rather crude measure of parents' SES. Comparisons of siblings in the Herrnstein and Murray sample, a more complete and accurate way to control for family background, reveal little evidence that Herrnstein and Murray's estimates of the effects of IQ score are biased by omitted family background characteristics (with the possible exception of outcomes for young children). However, there is evidence of substantial bias due to measurement error in their estimates of the effects of parents' socioeconomic status. In addition, Herrnstein and Murray's measure of parental SES fails to capture the effects of important elements of family background (such as single-parent family structure at age 14). As a result, their analysis gives an exaggerated impression of the importance of IQ relative to parents' SES, and relative to family background more generally. Estimates based on a variety of methods, including analyses of siblings, suggest that parental family background is at least as important, and may be more important than IQ in determining socioeconomic success in adulthood.

You see, if you look at raw data you can come to all sort of conclusions. For example, did you know that Unitarians are the smartest religious people, and Pentacostals the dumbest, in America? Well if you go by IQ and SAT scores, there's no comparison. But even more interesting, is that studies show liberals and atheists are more intelligent than other groups and this difference has been shown to be statistically significant:

More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism ...

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.

Similarly, religion is a byproduct of humans' tendency to perceive agency and intention as causes of events, to see "the hands of God" at work behind otherwise natural phenomena. "Humans are evolutionarily designed to be paranoid, and they believe in God because they are paranoid," says Kanazawa. This innate bias toward paranoia served humans well when self-preservation and protection of their families and clans depended on extreme vigilance to all potential dangers. "So, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to go against their natural evolutionary tendency to believe in God, and they become atheists."

Young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as "very religious" have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

Does this mean there is an gene for intelligence among atheists and liberals that conservatives and highly religious people lack? I doubt it. Just as I doubt Northern Blacks have a gene that makes them more intelligent than S...:


[B]lack northerners scored higher on IQ tests than white southerners when soldiers were recruited and tested during WWII[.] (Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957), ch. 14, "The Skin Game.")

Even Conservative favorite (and African American) economist and writer, Thomas Sowell finds little evidence that race or ethnicity genetically determines intelligence:


When European immigrant groups in the United States scored below the national average on mental tests, they scored lowest on the abstract parts of those tests. So did white mountaineer children in the United States tested back in the early 1930s... Strangely, Herrnstein and Murray refer to "folklore" that "Jews and other immigrant groups were thought to be below average in intelligence." It was neither folklore nor anything as subjective as thoughts. It was based on hard data, as hard as any data in The Bell Curve. These groups repeatedly tested below average on the mental tests of the World War I era, both in the army and in civilian life. For Jews, it is clear that later tests showed radically different results—during an era when there was very little intermarriage to change the genetic makeup of American Jews.


Read the rest here. Good exercise in critical thinking.

Views: 766

Replies to This Discussion

Also, a good post by Ta-Nehisi Coates on this. And in my opinion, he is very kind to Sullivan.

Some Final Thoughts

By Ta-Nehisi Coates


  Nov 30 2011, 7:49 AM ET 90 Andrew's latest responses to the Race and IQ ruckus is here and here. Again, I think you should read both.

Revisiting an earlier entry, I think its most important to remember that Andrew's sourcing for his claim of "p.c. egalitarianism" consists of those who agree with the Bell Curve and a recent article which took a single source as its authority. Confronted with actual data, Andrew himself, admits as much:
I certainly don't have profound knowledge of the deep research of experts in the field. But since the Bell Curve contretemps, I have kept up a little with some in the field who sympathize with my own position on this. They say the chilling effect has only gotten worse. Even a scholarly citation of Jensen can cause havoc with your career.


The hesitant terms of Andrew's evidence ("don't have profound knowledge" "kept up a little" "they say") contrast with the grandness of his claim. He does not contradict the data. He refuses to revisit his original claim -- that there is a blackout -- and instead passively passes the buck to his readers:
Maybe the effect on research into non-racial aspects of IQ has been exaggerated and readers should check out Dr X's data. But they should also check out the original piece, which has some serious points to make.
That is a really soft piece of argument, a derivative of the non-apology apology. Were I to employ that form in any exploration of the force of white racism, I would be damned. As well I should be.
When I raised the point about empathy the other day this is what I meant. If you're going to charge forth with the freighted claim that black people are intellectual inferiors, you should not do so claiming a lack of "profound knowledge of the deep research." Empathy -- among other things-- for the people affected by your grand claims should urge you to be better than anecdotal evidence from your friends.
Read the rest here

I don't know why he has this thing about Jensen - I avert my eyes when i look at the Dish.

I can't understand it either. But I've actually stopped following Sullivan on Twitter or reading the dish. WTF?

I still read the Dish - just don't read everything. Anyway, he has a link to Buzzfeed.

what is the dish?

oh, nm, i scrolled up to top line.  (never heard of it.)  i've seen Andrew Sullivan several times on tv, never read his blog or website...

Why Are Old Men Always Naked In The Locker Room? Ctd


A reader writes:

I have always theorized that older men were so much more comfortable with nuditybecause they were all in the military at some point and are just used to it.  They also grew up in a time where it was not instantly assumed that two men naked in the same space must be gay for each other.  I'm 34, gay, and have spent plenty of time naked in locker rooms (steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs, etc) and analyzing what I felt to be bizarre behavior. I personally have no body shame and get naked as often as possible, but yeah, frequently the younger guys seem to be a little more inhibited than the older guys.


I guess I'm going to have to miss valuable info like that, doone. I'm not going back to the Dish.


(FYI: in female locker rooms, the same kind of stuff goes on)

Here is some context I didn't know: Sullivan had given a cover story to The Bell Curve when he was editor of The New Republic (a rag, in my opinion). Sigh.


For those of you interested in this, here is a long article deatling this whole mess (it's nasty towards Sullivan, but I think it's not off the mark):

A Reader’s Guide to Andrew Sullivan’s Defense of Race Science

Oh, dear. America's favorite stoner blogger, Andrew Sullivan, is worried that "p.c. egalitarianism" has "strangled" "the study of intelligence." But what does that mean? Let us help you translate!

A million years ago, when the internet was just a gleam in Tina Brown's eye, Andrew Sullivan edited The New Republic, which was a Serious Magazine that had no time for your Liberal P.C. Dogma, such as "Race Is an Arbitrary and Unscientific Concept" or "Intelligence Is a Difficult Thing to Define, Let Alone Measure." As such, Sullivan gave a cover story to The Bell Curve, a horrendous piece of shoddy sociology about how blacks are not as smart as whites, and neither are as smart as The Chinaman; besides the general philosophical problems with writing a book-length study of the intersection between two variable, difficult-to-define, and scientifically problematic concepts, it was methodologically unsound and its data cherry-picked from a variety of unsavory sources.

It's looked back upon by most people as a profoundly embarrassing episode, even for The New Republic, which thrives on saying silly shit, and yet, Sullivan, who writes as though literally nothing has been written on the subject since, continues to insist on defending not just The Bell Curve but a general investigation into "intelligence." Weirdly, "intelligence," int his case, always seems to mean "the ways that black people are stupid," but I'm sure that's just a coincidence? He's spent the last week telling anyone who will listen that he is totally not a racist, but, look, he's just saying, scientifically, black people are stupider.

November 21

Sullivan writes: "The Study Of Intelligence [has] been strangled by p.c. egalitarianism."
Translation: "The 'politically-correct' belief that all people are equal, is preventing the study of intelligence, which is best done by cherry-picking sociological data about how black people are stupider than white people."

Sullivan writes: "The right response to unsettling data is to probe, experiment and attempt to disprove them—not to run away in racial panic."
Translation: "Probing, experimenting and disproving 'unsettling data,' as dozens of researchers, sociologists, geneticists and scientists have done over the last several decades, is the same thing as running away in racial panic, because it does not confirm the hypothesis that black people are stupider than white people."

November 23

Sullivan writes: "[R]esearch is not about helping people; it's about finding out stuff."
Translation: "Research is not about helping people; it's about finding out stuff, in particular, if that stuff confirms that black people are stupider than white people."

Sullivan writes: "[W]hen public policy holds that all racial difference in, say, college degrees, are due to racism, a truth claim has already been made[.]"
Translation: "It's important to study this so we can stop trying to help black people get college degrees."

November 28

Sullivan writes: "No one is arguing that "that black people are dumber than white," just that the distribution of IQ is slightly different among different racial populations, and these differences also hold true for all broad racial groups[.]"
Translation: "No one is arguing that black people are stupider than white people, just that black people are stupider than white people in a slightly more complicated way."

Sullivan writes: "No, not 'only for Africans'. The differential between Caucasians and Asians - or between Ashkenazi and Sephardim Jews - is also striking in the data."
Translation: "How can I possibly be racist if I'm saying that Asians and Jews are more cunning than white people?"

Sullivan writes: "I certainly don't have profound knowledge of the deep research of experts in the field."
Translation: "I have no clue what I'm talking about, but that's not gonna stop me."

Read the rest here.

For everyone reading this, no matter what you think about IQ, race, or race and IQ, you should ask yourself:

What evidence would make me change my mind?

Of course, for complex subjects like these, it's difficult if not impossible, to come up with a single experiment that would be sufficient to be a mind-changer, especially one that would actually be practical to carry out.

But it's the right way to think. 

I believe that on this subject, almost everyone begins with a conclusion, and then seeks confirming evidence for it. And this is because changing your position would be mentally painful, and possibly have negative effects on your personal life. (For example, having the politically-incorrect position, were it to become known,  could cost you your job. If you already have the politically-incorrect position, and then have to change your mind, at a minimum it would imply big changes in your whole political world view.  In both cases, people hate to admit that they were wrong.)

What I would like to do would be to accumulate, and present, the evidence on both sides of this debate.

Would anyone be interested in working with me on this? 

We could start with two questions:  Is IQ a meaningful concept?  and Is 'race' a meaningful concept?  And then look at the correlation, if any, between 'intelligence' (however defined and measured), and genetics.

Well from my perspective neither are meaningful concepts at all. Since we are all unique which all arises from our very DNA. For we receive half the DNA code from Mum and the other half from Dad but our DNA code does not express itself on a 50/50 basis with Mum's code being use for some of our physical and mental characteristics and some from Dad's code to make a complete organism called Human. Now how the DNA expresses itself is not flawless and error free in fact it is does create flaws when expressing itself as exhibited by the genetic defects we Humans are born with. Those defects are also present in how it creates our neural network not just the brain but all the nerve network as well the defects in these systems show up as mental health issues.
As for race what race are we running? Since in my perspective and the perspective of DNA were I a young and health young man again I could impregnate all the females of our specie no matter where they abide on our beautiful Planet with a majority of them being carried to full time by the women and our offspring would survive and thrive as new individuals of Humanity.

Yes, from each of our individual perspectives, anything can be true. For billions of people, from their perspective, God exists. For many of them today, and for most of our ancestors, from their perspective, the sun went around the earth.

But alongside each of our individual perspectives, there is objective reality, which may actually be different from our individual perspectives/beliefs.  I think we should try to bring our beliefs (about matters of fact) into correspondence with objective reality, even if that means giving up comforting beliefs.  Or rather, I think the people who post in this forum should do that.

That's what we should discuss.  For example, if you were looking for someone to help you do research on something, and I offered you two candidates, one of whom had scored an average of 80 on several IQ tests, and the other who had scored an average of 160 on those same tests ... would you have a preference, all other things about them being equal?


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