Friday, August 26, 2005

You Can’t Keep a Good Social Darwinist Down

Once more Richard Lynn, Pioneer Fund scholar, is trying to convince us that women are naturally stupider than men. In November, British Journal of Psychology will publish a study by Lynn, emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University, and Paul Irwing, a senior lecturer in organizational psychology at Manchester University. The study purports to show that men not only have larger brains but also have higher IQs, on average by about 5 points, than women. Further, their study claims that 3 times more men than women have IQs over 130 and 5 times as many men than women have IQs over 145. Irwing said to the Herald that "[t]hese different proportions of men and women with high IQ scores are clearly worth speaking of and may go some way to explaining the greater numbers of men achieving distinctions of various kinds for which a high IQ is required, such as chess grandmasters, Fields medalists for mathematics, Nobel prizewinners and the like."

It is not news that IQ tests measure, above all else, class, sex, and ethnicity. And the American Psychological Association and the folks at the Human Genome Project are hoarse from repeating that the concept of intelligence, let alone a genetically heritable intelligence, is complex and that reductionism is scientifically irresponsible.
(references) But here is the rub. Even if we suppose for sake of argument that intelligence is immutable and even if this means that no educational program will be able to raise intelligence levels, is there any kind of necessary social policy or ethical treatment of the people based on their intelligence that follows from these facts? Are we logically compelled to assert with Professor Lynn, that “What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the 'phasing out' of such peoples.... Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality" ? Of course not. Politics and values, not questionable, or even unquestionable, science, support such social policies.

[thank you to our newest guest blogger, Marin Gillis!~ Marin is an Assistant Professor of Health Care Ethics and Philosophy and Co-Director of the Medical Humanities Research Group at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Currently she is working on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research with a particular concern for the commodification of women’s reproductive material and she has scholarly interests in the teaching ethics to students in professional health programs. She has graduated from graduate programs in philosophy in Belgium (LPh. Higher Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven) and Canada (PhD U of Calgary). She held a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral fellowship at Calgary and is a Steering Committee Member of the Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory, a member of the American Philosophical Association, The Society for Philosophy and Technology, the Feminist Association of Bioethics, and the American Association of Practical and Professional Ethics.]

1 comment:

Lei said...

The whole IQ debate is so pointless unless everyone has an equal playing field to begin with consisting of access to love, health care, good nutrition, education, etc. Plenty of high IQ people will never reach their full potential while those who are of low IQ (however it's defined) and always do their best will have a richer life and greater success.

BTW, this blog has a very impressive panel of bloggers!