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Watson: Blacks less intelligent than whites


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#1 Mark A

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:08 PM


One of the world's most eminent scientists is at the centre of a row after claiming black people are less intelligent than whites.

James Watson, who won the Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, has drawn condemnation for comments made ahead of his arrival in Britain tomorrow for a speaking tour.

Dr Watson, who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, made the controversial remarks in an interview in The Sunday Times.

The 79-year-old geneticist said he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really".


Anti-racism campaigners called for Dr Watson's remarks to be looked at in the context of racial hatred laws. A spokesman for the 1990 Trust, a black human rights group, said: "It is astonishing that a man of such distinction should make comments that seem to perpetuate racism in this way. It amounts to fuelling bigotry and we would like it to be looked at for grounds of legal complaint."


Notice how they didn't argue his points; they just stated laws that could shut him up.

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#2 Lazarus Long

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:13 PM

And this is political article, not a scientific claim. The Genetics area is for specifically genetic studies and I am moving this thread to political and social discussion.

When you have scientific studies to support this claim they can be posted in the genetics section but they must be from responsible sources.

#3 Mark A

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:15 PM

When you have scientific studies to support this claim they can be posted in this section but they must be from responsible sources.

James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA and Noble Prizer winner, isn't a responsible source?

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#4 Lazarus Long

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 02:36 PM

Quoting a scientist is not a scientific study. Watson is entitled to his opinion and you are entitled to place it in an appropriate area for discussion but that is not a scientific study.

#5 caston

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 03:46 PM

Different human brains are optimised for different functions.

One man might not be so good at math but excellant at space perception and so on.

#6 samson

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:30 PM

Intelligence is for the most part a matter of education, practice and culture. "Blacks" (you know, the ghetto variant of a brown-skinned man (or woman)) live in a culture in which stupidity, non-education and mob-thinking rule. The intelligence of a white human living in ghetto culture is on par with his brown counterpart, as it would be if they would live in a suburban thrash enviroment.

#7 AdamSummerfield

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:42 PM

Intelligence is for the most part a matter of education, practice and culture. "Blacks" (you know, the ghetto variant of a brown-skinned man (or woman)) live in a culture in which stupidity, non-education and mob-thinking rule. The intelligence of a white human living in ghetto culture is on par with his brown counterpart, as it would be if they would live in a suburban thrash enviroment.


I agree. In my opinion if a population of a educationally disadvantaged area was studied, we would find that all ethnicities would have an equal average intelligence. I have thought several times that there are not enough black people in colleges and universities. I recently attended a summer school at University of York, there were 330 students, about 200 were white, around 120 were east asian, indian and pakistani, and three, just three, were black. I have observed a similar case at my college.
The reason for this in my opinion is that there is a pressure on european and american black youngsters to follow this 'rap/gangster' trend that is coming from the USA. Perhaps the majority of them feel that they are not truly black if they do not do this, and this means sacrificing to a large extent their education. I think that this is unfortunate. However there are, of course many black individuals who become Ph.Ds and so on, but my concern is that black people are a minority in higher educational institutions.

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#8 forever freedom

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 04:48 PM

I would like to see some of these "testing" that Dr. Watson says to prove that black people are less intelligent than white.


Actually i think this is interesting, they should get black and whites with the same cultural/educational/economic backgrounds and do some intelligence tests on them to see the results. If after that blacks did worse on the tests than whites, i would agree with Dr. Watson.
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#9 dangerousideas

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:06 PM

The ideas - that intrinsic human endowments are variable, that they are linked to genetic configurations, that genetic configurations run in families, that families extend to tribal and ultimately ethnic groupings, and that generalizations regarding typical endowments within ethnic groupings can be testable scientific hypotheses for which evidence can be observed or uncovered - are themselves not really controversial. Ample evidence for each of these ideas/assertions exists and speaks for itself.

The "taboo" that Dr. Watson is flaunting is associated with the social and political conclusions that are reached by pursuing chains of reasoning that build on these ideas/observations. If these "Dangerous Ideas" are socially toxic it is not because they might be wrong, but because they might be true.

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#10 Mind

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:37 PM

I prefer to judge people on what they do with their intelligence, no matter where they are from. Really smart people sometimes do really bad things. Some people of lesser intelligence (IQ level) outshine everyone else by working hard and helping others.
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#11 Mark A

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 05:45 PM

I prefer to judge people on what they do with their intelligence, no matter where they are from. Really smart people sometimes do really bad things. Some people of lesser intelligence (IQ level) outshine everyone else by working hard and helping others.

But do you disagree with what Watson said?

#12 Mind

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 06:02 PM

Of course I disagree. IQ tests (if that is what he is talking about) can't possibly measure all forms of intelligence and aptitude. Different people excel at different things. Some tests are culturally biased and unreliable. My point is that there seems to be no point in even discussing it. A persons value should be based on what they do, not skin color, not intelligence level, not cultural affiliation, etc...

#13 eternaltraveler

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:18 PM

everyone should be judged as an individual. Racial tendencies do nothing to explain the person sitting right in front of you.

And besides, saying such tendencies exist, regardless of evidence, is political and career suicide.

#14 Mark A

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:21 PM

IQ tests (if that is what he is talking about) can't possibly measure all forms of intelligence and aptitude.

No. But at minimum they can give you a rough idea of a person's general intelligence. And what Watson is trying to say is that based on those tests, the conclusion can be drawn that Africans are generally less intelligent than Caucasians.

#15 Mark A

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:26 PM

everyone should be judged as an individual. Racial tendencies do nothing to explain the person sitting right in front of you.

True. Although statistically, I have more reason to be wary of a black person I meet on the street than a white person, since black on white crime is much higher than white on black crime.

And besides, saying such tendencies exist, regardless of evidence, is political and career suicide.

Sad but true.

#16 eternaltraveler

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:15 PM

Sad but true.


it's understandable that such a (over)reaction exists. Most people do not judge people as individuals. Having a label on any one group that says this or that test score is lower than average opens the door to blanket oppression of the entire group regardless of the characteristics of the individual before you.

#17 A941

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:37 PM

The question is: are we able to make an IQ Test wich is fair for People from two different cultural backgrounds?

#18 Live Forever

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:43 PM

The question is: are we able to make an IQ Test wich is fair for People from two different cultural backgrounds?

There are a lot more than 2 cultural backgrounds out there.

#19 A941

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 09:45 PM

I know!

#20 A941

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 10:02 PM

Another Question: Are we able to say that some one is really stupid?
I dont think this could be decided trough few sheets of paper...

#21 Athanasios

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 10:12 PM

The question is: are we able to make an IQ Test wich is fair for People from two different cultural backgrounds?

What they do is make sure that the scores correlate well with life statistics, both within a group and across groups. They have proven some tests inaccurate with this method, while others seem to be culturally independent.

#22 niner

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 01:26 AM

The question is: are we able to make an IQ Test wich is fair for People from two different cultural backgrounds?

There are some non culturally biased measures, involving things like reaction time, that can be correlated with "intelligence". These have been applied to different racial groups. I can't say anything about the results, because...

And besides, saying such tendencies exist, regardless of evidence, is political and career suicide.

Yeah, talk about your dangerous ideas. This one is too toxic to touch, not just because it isn't P.C., but the ramifications of it are just too ugly. Ultimately, I don't think it will matter, because in the near term (the next century or so) humans will become so interbred that "pure" groups of any race will be a minority. Longer term, we will have technologies for augmentation of intelligence, so whoever needs it or wants it can get fixed up.

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#23 EmbraceUnity

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 07:03 AM

Ultimately, I don't think it will matter, because in the near term (the next century or so) humans will become so interbred that "pure" groups of any race will be a minority.  Longer term, we will have technologies for augmentation of intelligence, so whoever needs it or wants it can get fixed up.


That is exactly it. People should stop being obsessed with race, period. I mean if it were possible in some fictional world for people to dispassionately research this issue and then use the knowledge prudently, that would be fine and good... but honestly would that ever happen?

Considering all the social and technological changes that will be occurring in the near future, it seems very silly to preoccupy oneself with this stuff... and yet it isn't just silly but destructive. It stems from humanity's inclination towards tribalism which has fueled much of the world's social conflicts. It is time to grow up and become more humanistic... or transhumanistic.

This is also why many of the old notions of eugenics are moot, since selective breeding is so archaic, but obviously our new technologies raise new socio-political questions. Yet, to my dismay, I still find a small number of people on forums such as these who contemplate selective breeding schemes.

#24 stargazer

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 07:22 AM

Now I'm no expert on either intelligence nor psychometric testing but the fact that intelligence, or iq is in part and/or to a large degree decided by our genes is undisputable. Without genes you wouldn't have no brain at all and since there are "better" genes for certain types of enviroments (which right now is our modern society) you can conclude that intelligence is partly inherited. To say otherwise is to deny evolution. The real question though is "Does different races have superior "intelligence genes" than others". That is a hard question to answer until we know every function of every gene in our genome. The best scientific "material" for answering this question we have now is the study of iq variance amongst the different races as well as psychometric testing involving twins that live apart are a good way to find out the heredity of iq (or are they? We will return to that later). The result of these studies show that the correlation between genes and intelligence are .50 - .80, however this approximation is only correct if the assumptions that we base the questions on is valid. For an example, studies involving monozygotic twins living apart in different economical "classes" (one in a wealthy family and one in a poor) show that the difference in iq between the twins is very small. However this only say something about heredity if you assume that the wealthy twin gets a more stimulating development than the poor twin. If one twin gets a more stimulating development than the other and there still is no difference in iq you can conclude that intelligence is largely heriditary. However, it's very hard to measure this, practically impossible and we havn't got a clue yet what a "stimulating enviroment" actually is. Also, twins with the same genes often portray common personality characteristics and interests and will as a result indulge in similar activities to one another which may lead to similar intelligence. On these premises the study of the heredity of intelligence falls flat.

Furthermore, the existance of the flynn effect (the rise of iq during the 20th century) must either be wrong (which it's not) since how could we have become smarter if what you are born with is what you get? That or the study of heredity only show the heredity of your maximum potential intelligence (which in itself is really vague because then you have to account to all the stimulating activity you've ever done in your whole life in order to approximate it) This is why I think there are no great gaps between different races, the inheritance of iq at best calculates the maximum iq and says nothing about if one race is at its genetic potential or not, and since we almost entirely share the same genetic make up I therefore conclude that the difference between the races are in fact stimuli driven and not set in stone (genes, he he). A proof of this is the intelligence variance of afro-americans and native africans. Some countries in africa reportedly have a standard iq of 70-80 and yet afro-americans have almost as high as "white people" even though native africans and afro-americans share the same genetic make-up. From this you can draw the conclusion that 1, the inheritance of iq is partly wrong or totaly wrong, based on wrong assumptions and probably over estimated and 2, the malleability of iq is profound and therefore genetic difference between races negligble.

#25 forever freedom

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:08 PM

From this you can draw the conclusion that 1, the inheritance of iq is partly wrong or totaly wrong, based on wrong assumptions and probably over estimated and 2, the malleability of iq is profound and therefore genetic difference between races negligble.



I think #2 is the right one. The best example is mr. bush, which until a decade ago had a good intelligence (or at least it seemed so). Now, my dog is smarter than him.


http://www.youtube.c...ted&search=Bush










(sarcastic post, not that i really believe in a very big IQ malleability -maybe 20% or so is malleable, at most)

#26 stargazer

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 04:21 PM

From this you can draw the conclusion that 1, the inheritance of iq is partly wrong or totaly wrong, based on wrong assumptions and probably over estimated and 2, the malleability of iq is profound and therefore genetic difference between races negligble.



I think #2 is the right one. The best example is mr. bush, which until a decade ago had a good intelligence (or at least it seemed so). Now, my dog is smarter than him.


http://www.youtube.c...ted&search=Bush










(sarcastic post, not that i really believe in a very big IQ malleability -maybe 20% or so is malleable, at most)




It's impossible that it's sub 20% considering a normal human being in the beginning of the twentieth century had an iq of 70 relative to todays standard. However you could argue that the malleability of our current iq is 20% or less, which is not the same thing as saying that the TOTAL malleability of iq is aprox 20%.

#27 dangerousideas

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 06:09 PM

The observation that individuals can be unjustly disadvantaged/advantaged by treatment that is driven by stereotypes held in the mind of other individuals who interact with them is a simple truism.

I think such stereotypes are rooted in the very human tendency to generalize in order to reduce the complexity that is inherent within the environment and within human relationships so that they can react (more or less) appropriately with a minimal expenditure of mental effort or emotional discomfort. However, I would suggest that such personally held stereotypes are subject to evolutionary "reality checks" that cause them to be adjusted in the face of evidence that tells the person (or society) who holds them that the stereotype is effective or ineffective in helping them deal with a complex reality. I would suggest that stereotypes that are simply wrong will tend to disappear, to be replaced by stereotypes that reflect reality more accurately. But if one accepts this hypothesis, then the clear (and provocative) implication is that persistent and widely held stereotypes probably reflect reality more accurately than they distort it.

A second provocation: Should public policy be guided by the extremes of human variability, or by the (statistical) mean of human variability? Is the "average" endowment (IQ, EQ, SAT score, etc.) within a community - presumably a measurable quantity - an acceptable datum for formulating public policy? For example, if the capacity for "foresight" is insufficiently expressed, on average, within a population - and if you don't want to consider race, consider age as in teenagers for example - would it make sense to pursue public policy that required its targets to understand linkages between current behaviours and future outcomes where the causal chain involves several steps from cause to outcome? We continue to observe spectacular (and to many of us inexplicable) failures in public policy (to merely cite one example; curbing AIDS through condom use) that can only be understood as arising from an inability to link causes to consequences - a failure in a fundamental type of basic intelligence...

#28 dannov

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 08:03 PM

I think what he is saying has extreme merit. Just consider this...we all have evolved (our ancestors) in different regions. By the time that Blacks were being colonized by Whites (who already had gunpowder, flourishing societies, etc.), most were small kingdoms and tribes. They had no advanced technology or identification with a people beyond their tribe. There was very frequent almost perpetual warring amongst these tribes, and a prince's right to throne was non-existent, causing turmoil when 20 princes had to duke it out for the right to succeed their father (Europeans on the other hand gave right-to-ascension to the first-born generally). There were a few great African kingdoms, but those had fallen apart since then.

It's quite possible that the African seclusion from the rest of the world resulted in a slower evolutionary rate than Europeans and Asians that have had flourishing societies dating back to Rome, Greece, China, etc. Colonialism only made this worse because we disrupted their evolution.

I don't think this blankets all blacks, but I'm referring moreso to many within the African region. Watson is far more intelligent than any of us in this area, so ultimately our opinions really don't hold much merit next to his...at all. He wouldn't be putting his personal reputation on the line if his findings didn't fully support what he's claiming.

#29 mike250

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 12:40 AM

Darwin once stated that certain races were more evolved than others and that may have implied intelligence. He said Blacks(from Africa) were the least evolved and that Asians were at the top. Whites and hispanics were in the middle. I don't know if it holds true or not

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#30 Lazarus Long

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Posted 19 October 2007 - 01:00 AM

Darwin once stated that certain races were more evolved than others and that may have implied intelligence. He said Blacks(from Africa) were the least evolved and that Asians were at the top. Whites and hispanics were in the middle.


No offense Mike but this is a classic example of how confused the concept of race is and how it often is misapplied. Hispanics for example, are a *race* of language speakers and technically it has absolutely nothing to do with biology. *Race* is any grouping but not every grouping can be called a race for the definition in terms of biology. The confusion is how ethnic groups are confused with biological groupings all the time.

The next mistake is that when attempting a comparative study of ethic behaviors and the influence they have on intelligence, it is impossible to ignore and/or eliminate the critical importance of epigenetic factors. In the case of Africa, not all the peoples of Africa are one race of *negroid*, there are wide differences genetically between subgroups but more importantly, once you take any member of an impoverished people out of destitution and place them in *normalized conditions* of modern middle class affluence then intelligence testing demonstrates that all these assumptions about biological differences of race become irrelevant.

Trying to analyze race becomes an analysis of culture, culture becomes a question of health, diet, family and access to higher education. These are the factors that have shown the more profound impact on intelligence in developmental minds through epigenetics rather than anything that has ever been identified within inheritable traits specific to primary and largely outdated, notions of biological *races.*

BTW the mythology of race applies to *white* people too.

Most Hispanics are Native American genetically speaking and Native Americans are closer to Asian group genetics than the European origins of their language but as Mestizos they are also combined genetically with both Europeans and Africans but none of the combinations are uniformly distributed.




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