A taboo talk about human intelligence

A taboo talk about human intelligence

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Lithograph of a North American skull from Samuel Morton's Crania Americana, 1839.

OCALA, Fla., March 17, 2014 — We can discuss a great many things in America without fear of personal or professional despair.

At a glance, the reason for this is unsurprising: our country is renowned the world over for its legal protections regarding free speech. Consider the matter on a deeper level, though, and it becomes clear that the law being on one’s side is no assurance of societal tolerance.

The concept of political correctness has made it forbidden to address certain topics. Chief among these are the hereditary factors in human intelligence. Discussing biological determinism is a strict taboo from the halls of academia to the boardrooms of Madison Avenue.

Is there a good reason for this?

“Everybody is terrified of those who receive a ‘bad score’ on IQ tests,” Dr. Robert Weissberg explains to Communities Digital News. He is an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana. For decades on end, he was a popular columnist, author, and public speaker. In 2012, he was fired by the National Review for his opinions about ancestry-related intelligence. Ironically, this afforded him intense national exposure. Today, he continues to write about sociocultural relations. 

“More important,” Dr. Weissberg continues, “there are billions to be spent on uplifting the bottom and the impossibility of this task guarantees lifetime employment.”

While Dr. Weissberg was fortunate to land on his feet, scientists and scholars who speak frankly about group-based intelligence differences are sometimes subject to career implosion. Why are reactions to their observations so extreme?

“It’s a way to police the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ speech without direct government censorship,” Dr. Jason Richwine tells CDN. He is a Harvard-educated social scientist who was on his way to the top until late last spring. A staffer at the Heritage Foundation, he wrote a lengthy study about illegal immigration’s impact on our national interest. His findings generated widespread media attention, and perhaps more importantly, professional acclaim.

Shortly after, politically motivated bloggers let loose with quotations from Richwine’s doctoral dissertation, which focused on IQ and the Hispanic community’s fortunes. Despite finding strong support from most of the right-leaning punditocracy, Dr. Richwine ultimately stepped down from Heritage.

While his work was defended as legitimate science by many, others claimed him to be a proponent of eugenic-inspired bigotry.

“As I said, there is a vast industry to uplift a bottom that cannot be uplifted,” Dr. Weissberg remarks. “Like turning lead into gold. Moreover, the shear futility of the quest bestows a moral virtue on these crusaders. Look at all the ‘noble’ foundations that have poured billions down the toilet.”

Whenever sociobiology or evolutionary psychology enters a discussion, claims of eugenics propaganda often arise. Why is this such a potent accusation?

“It appears to have become a general insult term,” Dr. Richwine says. “But I really don’t know why anyone takes the accusation seriously. My dissertation had absolutely nothing to do with eugenics.”

Above all else, Dr. Weissberg claims the most important lesson he learned from the National Review controversy was that “(w)hen it comes to speaking honestly on race, conservatives are terrified. But I already knew that.”

What about Dr. Richwine’s controversy with the Heritage Foundation?

“I wouldn’t say I came to any broad new realizations,” Dr. Richwine says of the matter, “but I did learn a lot about specific colleagues and acquaintances.”

Does he have any advice for up-and-coming researchers who wish to study and raise awareness about the genetic side of human intelligence?

“Get tenure first,” Dr. Richwine states.

Dr. Weissberg advises that researchers “(b)e obscure like those who wrote about sex in Victorian England.” He also says that vanguards of political correctness fear a frank discussion about human intelligence because “it’s the great gravy train of our era.”

For all of the talk concerning forbidden facts and unmentionable research, just what is the relationship between genetics and human intelligence, as well as the socioeconomic ramifications of this?

“The scientific consensus is the genes explain some 50 to 80% of IQ and groups really do vary by IQ—blacks at the bottom with Asians at the top,” Dr. Weissberg explains. “Ashkenazi Jews outscore everyone. This makes it virtually impossible to eliminate group differences in intellectually related accomplishment without eugenics. Nothing has helped to close these gaps. So much for leveling!!”

As for the social, and in some cases economic, ramifications of discussing human intelligence, he tells that “(d)iscussing these relationships is absolutely taboo. The equivalent of being an open atheist in 16th century Europe or a homosexual in 19th century England. Ironically, as the scientific consensus grows stronger, the pressure for silence grows stronger. Reality must be suppressed and the ticket to being ‘respectable’ is to lie and lie.

“At some point, perhaps, the lying will end. Who knows what will happen.”

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