3212[evol-psych] Re: Rushton on Richards & Eysenck
- Feb 29, 2000
[evol-psych] Re: Rushton on Richards & Eysenck
A reaction to the most recent Richards goal-line defense: The endless ad hominem! As an engineer (and psychologist), I would be flattened to dismiss F = MA because of Newton's religious, sexual, personal, or other of his totally reprehinsible flaws (if he had them). Aside from that, why concentrate on such immaterial? Let's stick to peer-reviewed data and parsimony. A point about the latter, below.
First, I think there is a revelation, and a fatal flaw in Richards' sentence:
"Nobody but an idiot would deny that the major human gene-pools differ
in the frequencies with which various genes (and their alleles) are
represented (including those with psychological consequences) - but
this implies gene-talk, not race-talk."
Many (Richards?) seem to be obsessed with the idea that nature selects morphology and that there *may* be "psychological consequences" of such selection. This has to be absurd! It's the other way around! Mother nature selects survivable behavior, NOT body configurations. Recall that selection is produced under the proximal and indifferent stress of survival. New body gimmicks are (1) of no selectable value (necessarily) and (2) unaffordable (i.e., if they require more kcal). Thus, it is successful behaviors that get another day (the organism having eaten or mated...), and over time, (A) morphology adapts to an engineering efficiency, not the other direction (predominantly), and *often*, (B) behavior becomes "hardwired," perhaps through a Baldwin-like effect. As Popper liked to illustrate, let's take the woodpecker. Do we think that the beak spontaneously elongated (via mutation) and that in time the bird learned to make use of its new, over-engineered beak, i.e., to find food behind bark? Or did survival pressure force novel behavior first, in desperation, which survived barely effectively and inefficiently (hard pecking produced loss of beak and death in inadequate beaks), until the beak achieved morhpological efficiency. Thus it is confusing to talk about evolutionary processes having "psychological consequences!" Changes in behavioral repertoire--psychology--are precisely what evolution IS, as Darwin himself made abundantly clear.
As to your invoking the inevitability of idealogy. Speak for yourself. Since you seem to be obsessed with using science to re-engineer things, I submit that I can build a bridge and I can build a fleet of competent aviators (based on IQ [g]) *equally* well without a political idealogy.
I think that your algorithm for throwing out explanations is uninformed. Genetic explanations (hear the increasingly loud sound of that human genome project over the horizon??) are clearly now the more elegant, and thus allegiance to parsimony has mandated a sea-state change in our so-called "default" hypotheses (much as the neuro community understands well.) The heavy (but deserved<--sorry, personal) burden is now on environmental explanations of reliable and robust group variation. Such environmental explanations should be crisp -- unburdened by myriad special explanations as they are so so so encumbered today. And obviously, environmental contributions must "compete" not only with genetic, but e x g interactions as well. And recall that our environments are not handed to us randomly -- they are in many ways *constructed* around us at the micro and macro levels by our very nature (which is what kept us alive for another day). That is, e x g is dominated by g.
Final thought. Why your obsession with half-century-old, dead white men?? the Nazi's?? This is not only irrelevant, it is (probably intentionally) insulting. If you think that the only remedy provided by an understanding of underlying biological mechanisms is Nazi eugenics, your obsession has blinded you. And if you believe that there are "readily identifiable and remedial" environmental remedies at the micro-level, please share them. Perhaps you think that by throwing a few trillion more dollars down the tubes of social reinforcement programs, that they might suddenly get traction??? Or that social scientists might get yet more money to constuct ever more complicated special explanations?
Dennis K. McBride
University of Central Florida
From: Graham D. Richards [SMTP:G.D.Richards@...]
Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 11:34 AM
To: Ian Pitchford
Cc: Evolutionary Psychology MailingList
Subject: [evol-psych] Re: Rushton on Richards & Eysenck
My eyelid-batting habits are not as Rushton predicts, I do though blink
when he cites Roger Pearson, self-proclaimed neo-Nazi, founder of the
Northern League and (he boasted) mate of Mengele as a supportive
witness to the Eysenck riot. He's also out-of-date regarding the
trigger-happiness of London police - a few weeks ago they shot a
(white) guy dead because they thought he had a shotgun in a bag (it was
a wooden chair-leg).
Nobody but an idiot would deny that the major human gene-pools differ
in the frequencies with which various genes (and their alleles) are
represented (including those with psychological consequences) - but
this implies gene-talk, not race-talk. 'Race' membership doesn't cause
you to have the gene, it only makes it more likely you will. At the end
of the day what matters in practice is whether a specific individual
has it or not. I have no problems with the idea that the reasons why
the average 6-foot Watusi can out-jump and out-run me are 'genetic' -
or indeed with the idea that *anyone* who can outrun me are 'genetic'!
Nor with the fact that I am genetically less likely to have sickle-cell
anaeomia than a West African.
I do not understand Rushton's animus against environmental causes for
e.g. crime (unless it indeed be ideologically motivated). Reported
crime rates (like, pace 'r' and K strategies, family size) are
obviously both historically & geographically very variable and related
in complex ways to a whole variety of environmental causes amenable to
change if the political will is there. It is also presumably true that
if you focus crime-detection activities on members of a particular
group more of the crimes they have committed will be detected. There
are also some quite subtle, but readily demonstrable (not consciously
racist) reasons why British police (including black ones) target black
teenagers of Afro-Caribbean origin. The point is that before the role
of genetic 'causes' can be ascertained we have to have factored out all
these others and see what is left. I am highly sceptical if any
available data-base enables us to do this. Cross-cultural comparisons
are also extremely dodgy (e.g. curfew violation never figures in
British juvenile delinquency reports simply because there are no curfew
laws - most of us would also consider that the crime rate under the
Third Reich was pretty high, but most of the crimes hardly figured in
their crime statistics!).
It does not take much imagination to think of numerous prima facie
cultural and demographic reasons for differences between Chinese and
African American school performance.
Rushton is clearly stereotyping me here - assuming I am some dogmatic,
politically motivated 'lefty' obsessed with the 'evils of capitalism'.
All I am asking are some very simple questions:
1. why the obsession with detecting macro-level 'genetic'
differences about which nothing can be done in practise short of
Nazi-style eugenics (of which the late R.B. Cattell appears to have
approved) when there are so many readily identifiable and remediable
micro-level environmental and social ones to be addressed?
2. why his pretence that his science is non-ideological when all
human sciences are ideological - the difference is between those of us
who are upfront about it (e.g. I am some kind of anti-racist green
humanitarian anarchist at heart), and those who maintain the fiction of
possessing some kind of split identity between their 'science' and the
rest of their lives? A scientist without an ideology (i.e. a set of
values etc. which inform and guide his/her work) is like a clock
without an escapement.
3. who among British psychologists, aside from Lynn, is currently
engaged in a serious research programme on IQ race-differences? Can he
name more than four British psychologists (aside from Lynn's
associates) who have done so since 1980? why does he think the British
research agenda is so different from the American one? is it because
we have all been brainwashed by lefty sociologists, naive egalitarians
and anti-captialists? and even if it IS because of this, doesn't even
that concede my basic point that the agenda on this issue is socially
determined and embedded?
Regarding Eysenck, I too was at LSE in 1968/9 though not at the great
event. To present events at that time as simple anti-scientific
bigotry is, as Rushton well knows, totally inadequate. I hold no brief
for punching-up guest lecturers but Eysenck (who actually considered
himself a 'lefty') was his own worst enemy - never making his own
anti-racism explicit (there are complex reasons for this in his own
character too - which I will be indicating briefly in my forthcoming
Dictionary of National Biography entry on him). You cannot take this
event out of the context of a rising, naive, morally self-righteous
generation raised on anti-fascist values being infused with wrath at
the Vietnam War, assassinations of African American civil rights
leaders, South African apartheid and the nuclear threat of the Cold
War. To cast Eysenck as some kind of scientific martyr is absurd.
Following his death the British Psychological Society London Conference
held a memorial session on him organised by the History and Philosophy
section (of which I am a past chair). If British Psychology treated
him unfairly (which it has in some respects) this is partly at least
because temperamentally Eysenck was an autonomous loner who couldn't be
bothered to try and rebuild bridges and appears in some respects to
have revelled in his outsidership (hence his autobiography title 'Rebel
with a Cause').
What any of this has to do with evolutionary psychology I know not, and
rather than try our colleagues' patience any further I suggest we both
On Mon, 28 Feb 2000 11:11:16 -0500 "J. P. Rushton"
> Phil Rushton replies to Graham Richards who wrote
> > Eysenck, as far as I know (may be wrong) never - or very rarely -
> > conducted any empirical race differences research himself, what really
> > got Brand the boot was his publicly coming out in favour of
> > paedophilia....The fact is that empirical research on race differences
> in intelligence
> > in Britain since 1920 has been minimal in the extreme
> What Graham Richards means is that the GENETIC and EVOLUTIONARY study of
> differences has not been on the social science agenda. The "sociologist"
> view of race
> differences -- they are all due to poverty, social structure, labeling,
> racism, etc
> pours daily out of universities, newspapers and televisions. If
> disproportionate Black
> crime, Black AIDs, and Black underchivement (I'm sorry this sounds
> harsh) is attributed
> to the racist attitudes of White policeman, White doctors, and White
> teachers, I doubt
> if Graham bats an eyelid. Yet this is in fact a causal theory of why the
> Black bell
> curve isn't the same as the White one. Similarly Black OVERachievement
> in sports is
> rarely if ever examined in terms of average Black biomechanical and
> advantages like more testosterone, more muscle mass, and narrower hips,
> but it is again
> attributed only to White racism blocking achievement via other routes.
> Nor do these
> left-wing sociological theories ("the white power structure," "the
> legacy of
> colonialism," "the evils of capitalism") have any explanatory power when
> it comes to
> "colonial" countries like Hong Kong doing so well well economically or
> why Chinese
> people are overrepresented in school achievement and underrepresented in
> crime in
> Britain as elsehwere in the world.
> Genetic and Evolutionary thinkers about race (about anything really) are
> in a very small
> minority in North America, just as they are in Britain. But British
> researchers are as
> well represented among those who do it as are Canadians and Americans.
> RICHARDS: And no London cop could get away with 19 bullets in an
> unarmed black man in
> the current climate.
> REPLY: Since the police in Britain typically don't carry guns, this is a
> cheap shot. But
> note that Black policeman seem to shoot Black suspects and perpetrators
> as much as do
> White policeman. E.g. in Washington, DC. Violence and Blacks seem to go
> everywhere in the world and must raise the possibilty at least that
> there is something
> special about Blacks that is not true of East Indians, Chinese, and
> Whites. (Again I'm
> sorry if this sounds harsh, but it is a perfectly formed and reasonable
> That something special may be to do with their excellence in sports,
> something like
> greater testosterone, more muscle mass, and a general disposition to
> surges of anger.
> SOMETHING more than White racism is going on. Even culture theorists
> like Thomas Sowell
> (a Black) and Dinesh D'Souza (a Brown) are beginning to note the
> pathologies of behavior
> in many Black communities which is not just blamed on whitey.
> > The real question is what the point of this whole research project on
> > 'race' difference in IQ is, given that the differences only emerge at
> > macro-level and that the reality of the existence of defineable races
> > is declining daily.
> REPLY: We need to know the causes of the variation around us. That
> includes racial
> variation. Blaming society, capitalism, imperialsim, poverty, whites,
> social structure,
> and family socialization has been tried for 60 years or more and just
> completely fails
> to work. We need to complete the Darwinian Revolution, the first premise
> of which is
> that there is important genetic variation on which natural selection
> works. Until we can
> overcome the fear and prejudice about race from mainly liberal academics
> there is no
> hope of succeeding in the Darwinian enterprise.
> A final note: There is no "obsession" over IQ, any more than there is
> over crime, AIDS,
> sexuality, poverty, sports, developmental precocity, temperament, or
> brain size. IQ
> simply emerges in study after study as the single best predictor of
> social outcomes. The
> whole set of traits go together in a life-history as I argue in Race,
> Evolution, and
> Behavior. But we'll never accept life-history reasoning until we win the
> debate over
> race and get people to stop being so scared to talk about it properly.
> J. Philippe Rushton
> Department of Psychology
> University of Western Ontario
> London, Ontario Canada N6A 5C2
> Telephone: (519) 661-3685
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prof. graham richards
centre for the history of psychology,
division of psychology, staffordshire university,
college road, stoke on trent st4 2de uk
01892 535595 (home phone number)
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