Courtesy of Gene Expression, a sad tale of an intellectual meltdown over at Little Green Footballs (a right-of-center American blog) against Brussels Journal (a right-of-center European blog). Part of the case was this post:
In this society, everyone has grown up on lies that few are equipped to challenge. The older ones have grown up with plastic called leatherette, with cigarettes as symbols of sex appeal, and with Negroes in the front line in the Army but in the back line at the bus stop. And the younger ones have grown up in a world where a short coffee is â€œtallâ€ and a medium one is â€œgrande,â€ and oneâ€™s life is ruined for pointing out that the American blacksâ€™ mean IQ of 85, and not racism, is the cause of their underepresentation in the upper echelons of government, business and the professions.
What’s odd, of course, is that thinking about current differences in general intelligence (whatever their cause) sheds light on institutional, unjust discrimination in our society.
Consider “retardation” (the hip special-ed term of another day, roughly an IQ score below 70). There are two major categories of retardation
- familial retardation, where the child’s IQ is roughly the average of his parents’
- organic retardation, where the child’s IQ is significantly below the average of his parents
Individuals who are organically retarded have substantial difficulty in leading a normal life. Often organic retardation goes along with poor hygiene, poor grooming, or other general deficiencies in behavior.
Familial retardation, in contrast, pretty much means only that someone does less well in problems that involve spatial and logical reasoning.
Clearly, one’s life is better if one is neither. But the problems facing the organically retarded are much, much more severe than those facing the familially retarded. And likewise, care that is appropriate for the organically retarded (a strong focus on basic social skills) would be neglectful for the familially retarded (who may require, by contrast, more intense schooling).
Yet many school systems lump both organically and familially retarded children together in one special education problem. As a consequence, the whole system of special education is biased toward organically retarded (disproportionately white) children who have basic problems with grooming and social interaction, deprivig familially retarded (disproportionately black) children of precisely the sort of intense schooling they need.
Of course, this is not to say that all familiailly retarded students are black, nor that all organically retarded students are white. Nor that most whites are organically retarded, nor that most blacks are familially retarded.
But the larger point remains: ignoring science because it is inconvenient does not make the world a better place. Ignoring inconvenient facts makes the world a worse place.
Ignoring inconvenient facts can lead to racist outcomes.
And such ignorance can cause stupid disagreements. Like LGF‘s attack on Brussels Journal.