Poor old James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA and Nobel Laureate, apparently has run into some political trouble. It pays these days, even for famous scientists, to keep well apprised of the prevailing political currents. To recap briefly, Dr. Watson apparently observed that the intelligence of Africans was, based on IQ testing, “not really” the same as that of Britishers.
Appearances on his current book tour were immediately cancelled. He was immediately suspended from his job. His employer of 35 years publicly disowned him. He quickly recanted, insisted that there was no scientific evidence to back his original claim, and apologized “unreservedly.” But even that, combined with the Nobel Prize, does not appear to be enough. The commentary has been universally condemnatory, and quite personal. Canada.com hopes his career is over. Wired calls his comments “utterly unacceptable to civilized society.”
Galileo must be grateful, up in heaven, that he did not live in these times.
What Watson said was of course perfectly true, and little more than common sense. Any IQ test yet devised shows definite differences in outcome based on ethnicity. Africans score lower than Europeans. Jews score higher than other Westerners. Chinese score better than Europeans. Japanese score highest of all.
Two politically-correct responses are commonly made: first, that this is due to cultural bias in the tests. But if so, how to explain that Japanese score better than Europeans on European-devised IQ instruments? Second, that there are different types of intelligence, and if Africans do worse on one type, it must be that they do better on some other. Maybe so, though it seems a pretty romantic notion, and one backed by no evidence. But, if so, what Watson said is still perfectly correct: he said that African intelligence was “not the same as” European. If they are better at hand-eye coordination, but worse at abstract reasoning, his point still holds.
But then, just as Watson noted, there is no reason to suppose that different populations, evolving in different places and under different circumstances, would somehow all end up with identical levels of a selected range of mental talents. In fact, the assumption is, on the face of it, ridiculous. First, it goes directly against Darwin. And it goes directly against common experience and common sense. It is logically the same as assuming that all individuals have identical mental talents; or that all families must be equally intelligent. Indeed, let's say they are; if so, mustn’t everyone also have equal levels of singing talent? Making American Idol discriminatory? Leaving alone professional sports… Where's the outrage?
So why is it that no one, not even a Nobel-winning scientist, is permitted to point out this obvious imperial sartorial fact?
Because the chattering tribe has long claimed that the doctrine of human equality is based on science. I recall very well a comic book feature when I was a child called “Science says you’re wrong.…” It featured the standard establishment beliefs of the day—the hyperscientistic Sputnik-spooked early Sixties--as scientific “truths.” One, of course, was “science says you’re wrong if you believe different races have different mental abilities.” Yet then, as now, all the tests ever devised indicated they did.
What could be less scientific than rejecting the evidence of repeated experiment because it did not conform to a preconceived notion?
Why do they do this? Because science, with its accomplishments, has gathered a great deal of prestige—thanks in some small part to Dr. Watson himself. This prestige is very useful to those in power, as an ideology justifying their program and their power. If they want people to believe a thing, they assert that it is “scientific.” They use science rather the way Osama bin Laden uses Islam: they pretend to scientific authority and invoke it in their interests.
(Al Gore, are you listening?)
Ironically, this makes them quite hostile to any real science—as witness Watson. As Jesus was to the Pharisees of his day, to these people James Watson is a great danger—precisely because he seems to speak with scientific authority, but does not toe their line. It all gives some insight into the dangers scientists who publicly dissent on global warming must also face.
Hence the sharpness of the reaction to Watson. They really don’t want to see this happening soon again.
The dirty little secret is, the doctrine of human equality was never based on science. Social Darwinism, Fascism, and Nazism were. And human equality certainly has nothing to do with people having the same IQ. The doctrine of human equality is a religious belief. It comes from monotheism, and most specifically from Christianity.
Note the words of the US Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Similarly, Locke based his argument for human equality on the fact that we are all descended in an equally direct line from Adam. As the Levellers chanted back when Charles I faced the swordsman: “When Adam delved, and Eve span—who then was the gentleman?”
For it follows: if God created all mankind in the one act, in Adam and Eve, we are all equal at our birth. Equal in our ultimate value, that is, in our intrinsic worth, equal in the eyes of God. Regardless of our intelligence, or height, or race, or physical strength, or sex, all of which are obviously not equal at all.
A simple principle; indeed, elementary, my dear Watson.
One of the interesting consequences of this truth is that atheism is by its very nature corrosive of our human rights and civil liberties. Therefore, assuming we believe in human equality, while atheism perhaps should be tolerated in a civil society—albeit Locke and Rousseau to the contrary—it certainly ought not to be encouraged.
Conversely, there is a legitimate reason for the state to encourage theism and religion.
No, more than this—while evolution too should perhaps be tolerated, there is a legitimate reason for the state to want to ensure that Creationism is also taught in the schools.
With gusto. And in its most literal sense.