Dr. Dembski’s and Ms. O’Leary’s earlier posts today have produced some, shall we say, “intemperate” rhetoric from the commenters. I suggest we calm down and look at this issue dispassionately, starting with the raw data.
The raw data is unambiguous. There is in fact a difference between racial groups when it comes to standard measures of intelligence. This report of a task force ofthe American Psychological Association (which certainly cannot be accused of conservative bias) makes this clear. As the report says, Asians do best on IQ tests. Whites are in the middle. Blacks score somewhat lower.
The controversy is not over the raw data. The heat comes when the cause of these differences is discussed. It is the classic “nature or nurture” debate. Are intelligence differences among races inherent (i.e., genetic) or are they caused by environmental factors? The APA report states there is currently no adequate explanation for the difference between the average IQ’s of blacks and whites, and I will not step into that debate here.
I will say, however, that average test scores among races mean nothing when it comes to the only important judgment — the judgment at the level of the individual. DaveScott put this very nicely in a comment to Dr. Dembski’s post:
I think what needs to be kept in mind here is there’s more than enough variance within same-race or same-gender groups to make it unreasonable to render judgements about individuals via statistical characteristics of the large group. The kerfluffle about which race has the highest average IQ is ridiculous.
The raw data is what it is. It is true that blacks tend to score lower than whites on IQ tests. So what? So nothing. The raw data does not justify racism. A person should not be judged by his membership in a racial group. He should be judged by his own abilities. As DaveScott points out, there is more than enough variance to make it unreasonable to pre-judge a person’s intelligence based on his race. There are black geniuses; there are dim-witted whites.
The second point of this post is to bring to account those commenters who seem to be suggesting that Dr. Watson be condemned (one even wants him put in jail) for making true (even uncontroversial) statements about the difference in mean IQ scores among the races. This is absurd. Do you really mean to suggest that there are certain facts from which we must avert our eyes? What is the difference between your desire to censor Dr. Watson and Darwinists’ desire to censor ID proponents?
This is not to say that Dr. Watson should not be roundly condemned for his support of eugenics, which I take to be the point of Dr. Dembski’s and Ms. O’Leary’s posts. He should indeed be roundly condemned for that. The problem is that it appears that many of the commenters are condemning Dr. Watson for making true statements about the average intelligence of the races. That’s wrong. It is where Dr. Watson goes with that data — not the data itself — that is reprehensible.