Academics Throw Fit After Being Told They Don’t Throw Fits Over IQ & Race

Academics Throw Fit After Being Told They Don’t Throw Fits Over IQ & Race

There are many positions on IQ, the so-called intelligence quotient, but most fall into two camps. Those who reject IQ measures outright, because racism, and those who claim people have an IQ, as they have height.

For most practical decisions and judgments, I fall in with the latter group, even though I continually remind them they are committing the Deadly Sin of Reification and are over-certain, and become forgetful that correlation of test scores and other measures of success is not necessarily causation. Nobody “has” an IQ: some have scores from tests, single number condensations of what we call intelligence, which is multi-faceted in ways not appreciated. And no I don’t mean the “emotional” IQ and all that. I mean intelligence is unique in humans and can only be partially grasped. Plus, single-number summaries like IQ are, at best, highly inadequate, especially in attempts to quantify the unquantifiable, as IQ literalists do. Read all about the subtleties of what I call the realist position here.

But, given those caveats, again I fall into the literalist camp for most everyday interpretations. Example: East Asians routinely and in all possible situations and circumstances score on intelligence tests on average higher than blacks. This means the obvious. Take one East Asian and one black and, given this evidence, and knowing nothing else about these two people (take this in its strictest literal sense), the chance the East Asian would score higher than the black is greater than 50%. At the very least, this is the way to bet.

Since it is, based on all historical evidence gathered heretofore, the way to bet, the same conclusion, with the suitable mathematical modifications, applies to judgments about two East Asians and two blacks. Or three of each, or four. Or all of them. Naturally, once you know the actual scores for any individuals, probability (as such) is no longer necessary—-or relevant in the least. If Jamal scores 106 and Sato 99, then Jamal has bested Sato on this test, regardless of how well or poorly anybody else from any race does.

What’s race? Here is where some make a fuss and say that because race is ambiguously genetically or otherwise defined, we can’t really know race, and the people who say we can say what race is are racist.

Which is a hilarious contradiction.

It’s made all the time, though. By many tenured well credentialed academics. Like Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen, Helen De Cruz, Jonathan Kaplan, Agustin Fuentes, Jonathan Marks, Massimo Pigliucci, Mark Alfano, David Livingstone Smith and Lauren Schroeder. They gathered to together to huff and puff about race in the peer-reviewed paper “More than provocative, less than scientific: A commentary on the editorial decision to publish Cofnas (2020)” in the journal Philosophical Psychology.

The fuss is over a paper Confas wrote, “Research on group differences in intelligence: A defense of free inquiry.” I think the Confas paper is well summarized by its Abstract:

In a very short time, it is likely that we will identify many of the genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence. We should be prepared for the possibility that these variants are not distributed identically among all geographic populations, and that this explains some of the phenotypic differences in measured intelligence among groups. However, some philosophers and scientists believe that we should refrain from conducting research that might demonstrate the (partly) genetic origin of group differences in IQ. Many scholars view academic interest in this topic as inherently morally suspect or even racist. The majority of philosophers and social scientists take it for granted that all population differences in intelligence are due to environmental factors. The present paper argues that the widespread practice of ignoring or rejecting research on intelligence differences can have unintended negative consequences. Social policies predicated on environmentalist theories of group differences may fail to achieve their aims. Large swaths of academic work in both the humanities and social sciences assume the truth of environmentalism and are vulnerable to being undermined. We have failed to work through the moral implications of group differences to prepare for the possibility that they will be shown to exist.

Confas is right and wrong. We will indeed, weakly and statistically, identify some “genetic variants underlying individual differences in intelligence.” Regular readers know how much to emphasize that weakly. We will never identify all genetic components, because some aspects of intelligence are immaterial, which is to say, not material. I won’t defend that view here, which I’ve done elsewhere, except to say it is the opposite of materialist philosophy both Confas and his critics hold.

Passing over that, it’s clear genetic variants do vary between “groups”, a word which everybody takes to mean race or sex. After all, variants vary. Something material (and it doesn’t have ot be only genes) is accounting for the phenotypic differences plain to everybody, and nobody is arguing these differences are solely due to environment, otherwise a Chinese couple mating in Botswana would produce a Bushmen baby.

Genes are allowed by everybody to play a role in all observed differences, except aspects of intelligence (and, with sex, strength and other behavioral traits). But since all observation confirms there are differences in brain-body makeup that are driven by genetics, and the brain-body is responsible for some aspects of intelligence, it follows trivially genes are causing differences in some aspects of intelligence. It doesn’t follow, though, that all aspects are different or that genes cause all differences.

After all, men and women have huge differences in brain-body makeups, and no observation has confirmed men and women think or act the same in all things. The opposite is true, even if it is not always believed.

So much is by way of a introduction! An unfortunately long one because of sensitive intricacies.

Confas is certainly and unambiguously right that academics are at least skittish about this topic. If it turns out that people born short can’t become tall through education and forced protein diets, then we will be stuck with an inequality, a disparity. These are forbidden by the theory of Equality, sometimes called Equity, which insists all are “really” the same. This is why those believing in Equality are found to attack every piece of evidence relating to biological differences in height, and will even screech “Heightist!”, which, to them, is the ultimate argument ender.

Wait. Did I just say height? How silly of me. I meant intelligence.

Group differences are real because individual differences are. Of course, it is possible to pick individuals to stock each named group so that each group is the same in distribution of whatever trait or traits that interest us. This used to be done in gym class when people picked “sides” to balance out athletic ability. I wonder if this is still allowed. Anyway, folks when mating do not seek to balance groups statistically. So group differences based on mating characteristics are real. And mating is often race based. Therefore, group difference based on race are real.

Again, what’s race? It need not be anything more but what we call race, i.e. those visual and behavioral indicators that separate people. We self-separate peoples into racial groups. This is what I will mean by race: self-identification of named groups. Race is thus real by definition, and predictive by observation, as in IQ tests and in many other measurable aspects of behavior. (This whole conversation is absurd, I know, but when dealing with modern reality-denying academics, you have to be careful.)

Confas is right again that ignoring group differences will carry negative consequences. Put it this way. Ignoring group differences is just another way of asserting Equality. Since this false theory means everybody is “really” the same, the programs to create true Equality will never end or be sufficient. Every slight remaining difference in equality of outcome will be seen as increasingly intolerable. A negative feedback loop develops. We have all seen where this leads, and is leading. Harrison Bergeron and so on.

Once more, everybody knows that, in the West, academics are largely cowards, fearful of the mob, and opportunists, using political controversy to get ahead. No paper needs to be written asserting these things, which would be the equivalent of saying Only Men Have Penises. Which academics are too frightened to say! So one does wonder why Confas bothered.

At any rate, we finally arrive at the contra-Confas paper. Its authors sniff, “There are, however, several critical problems with Cofnas’s piece, which we believe should have either disqualified the manuscript upon submission or been addressed during the review process and resulted in substantial revisions.”

The first problem we find with Cofnas’s contribution is related to its implicit endorsement of racial realism: the idea that the human species is naturally divided into many clusters of biologically discrete/different populations. Although the theory of racial realism is not problematic in and of itself, Cofnas makes it problematic by representing the theory as scientific.

How dare he. If race realism is not “problematic” (a pure academic word), then its measurement is scientific by definition. These authors, while not saying so, want to reserve that word for holy things, it seems.

There is no evidence from the study of human biological variation that suggests that racial realism is true, and neither is it the case that scientific insights are restrained by an absence of evidence. Moreover, the idea that the human species is divided into genetically discrete “races” has long been refuted as empirically unsupportable.

This is false, and seen to be false by everybody throughout all history. We need no genetics to know it is false. We know that, for instance, Japanese are not like Pygmies. We know something besides just environment accounts for the differences, whatever this might be. And we have agreed that race encapsulates the differences we acknowledge (such as facial features, height, skin tone, and so on and on).

How, then, can academics say that “discrete ‘races'” have been “refuted”? They lean too hard on discrete, perhaps. Because a Zulu man can mate with an Indonesian woman, the resulting child will be neither completely like the Zulu man or Indonesian woman. So much for race! The academics say “the human species never persisted in multiple sufficiently isolated ‘pure’ groups for such a prolonged time that it would, evolutionarily speaking, make sense to talk about our species being divided into biologically distinct populations.”

But nobody says people in self-selected groups are identical in every way, just similar. Race has not been refuted.

They persist making the point, though, that because peoples aren’t identical, race is false. They quote from the American Association of Physical Anthropology policy statement on race:

Humans share the vast majority (99.9%) of our DNA in common. Individuals nevertheless exhibit substantial genetic and phenotypic variability. Genome/environment interactions, local and regional biological changes through time, and genetic exchange among populations have produced the biological diversity we see in humans today. Notably, variants are not distributed across our species in a manner that maps clearly onto socially-recognized racial groups. This is true even for aspects of human variation that we frequently emphasize in discussions of race, such as facial features, skin color and hair type. No group of people is, or ever has been, biologically homogeneous or “pure”. Furthermore, human populations are not — and never have been — biologically discrete, truly isolated, or fixed.

This is the Gene Fallacy (and not the Genetic Fallacy! that name has already been taken). This fallacy says that because the number of genetic differences aren’t as large as intuition desires, observed differences aren’t real. It is said bonobos and humans share 99% genetic similarity. Yet nobody (except for the odd academic) says humans and bonobos are “really” the same, or that their observed differences aren’t important.

Suppose Australian aboriginals and Inuit peoples share identical genes. Because they are observed to be different, and accepting environment is not the cause of all these differences, then it must be that its not genes themselves causing the differences, but something else. So what? It was theory that insisted all differences were genetic. We aren’t beholden to theory. We do not need to know how something works to acknowledge that it does! To say that we must know how is the Academic Fallacy. Or suppose these two groups differ by just one gene, each group having a different allele at some point, and we accept the theory. Then we can say that, wow, this must be a most consequential gene!

What about Confas’s main complaint that academics are, at best, squeamish about discussing race and intelligence? They say a “fundamental reason why researchers do not engage with the thesis is that empirical evidence shows that the whole idea itself is unintelligible and wrong-headed”. They start by admitting they can’t understand it. But if they can’t understand it, they can’t say it’s “wrong-headed”. (More than one academic philosopher is co-author of this paper. Including atheist philosopher and self-labeled “rationalist” Massimo Pigliucci.)

Here’s their other excuse, which cracks me up:

Whereas Cofnas is concerned that a lack of research into race/IQ may lead to harmful consequences, real scientists are similarly concerned that directing their resources toward nonsensical ideas (such as “racially” discrete hereditary differences in intelligence) would deprive themselves and the rest of humanity of the benefits that would otherwise have followed from pursuing more promising and meaningful lines of inquiry.

Such preening would put Narcissus himself to shame! I’m not sure who would win the Largest Ego contest, modern academics or journalists. Be fun to put them into the ring and fight it out to see.

Then comes the blame and shame shifting. Race studies are “controversial”. Know what else is controversial? Hitler. I jest. Slightly:

With that in mind, we would like to respectfully point out that when racial realism is described only as being “provocative” or “controversial,” that comes disconcertingly close to saying that creationism, anti-vaccination, or climate change skepticism are just scientifically controversial ideas.

Did I mention more than one academic philosopher is co-author of this?

All right, they’re just about done. Surely they wouldn’t spill a couple of thousand words telling us that race doesn’t exist, only to end by screaming “Racist!”? I mean, come on. There are limits to the number of howlers you can squeeze into one academic paper, and we’ve already had our fill. Surely they didn’t say….this:

A final and obvious point that we find necessary to address is the seemingly racist ideological undertones of Cofnas’s article.

But…but…but how can there be racism if there is no such thing as race? How do we know the person we’re calling a “Cracker” or “Honkey” genuinely belongs to the right race, when this race doesn’t even exist? When there’s no way, even, to tell peoples apart?

Still Confas is a racist, at least by implication: “Although we cannot know for a fact whether Cofnas’s contribution was inspired by ulterior ideological motives, it is undeniable that his article can reasonably be read as pandering to proponents of scientific racism.”

No. They can’t know. Not for a fact.

Addendum Hissy fits are not uncommon. Take this paper: Flawed estimates of cognitive ability inClark et al. Psychological Science, 2020.

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  1. John B()

    Just saw a Click-Bait that “reported”: “Trump’s Real IQ Finally Leaked : Republicans Full of Regrets”

    I didn’t bite

    (but feel free to google and tell me what you think)

  2. The intellectual basis of Leftism lies in actively ignoring reality, because it is sometimes unpleasant and often doesn’t correspond to their dreams. The emotional basis of Leftism lies in the desire to make everyone else as miserable and sinful as you are. They tear down instead of building up. It’s all they have. It’s all they know. It’s all they desire.

  3. Michael Dowd

    Thus, throwing fits is an academic privilege whereby they demonstrate their lack of rationality.

  4. Sheri

    “We have failed to work through the moral implications of group differences to prepare for the possibility that they will be shown to exist.” When we find the differences in an all white population and it’s based on income, are we to implement socialism??? Is that proof that “equality” of income is absolutely necessary?

    “After all, variants vary.” Well said!

    A Chinese couple mating in Botswana may over a number of generations produce a child that is more like a Bushman than Chinese. Things don’t change overnight. It’s wrong to use such an example.

    Of course genes play a role in intelligence. Why else would the Icelandic people wiped out those pesky Down’s Syndrome kids through abortion?

    No, picking sides in gym class is not allowed. It’s irrelevant anyway. No scores are kept and there are not “winners”.

    Race is based on physical appearance. So if you look white, you are. If you look black, you are. No one picks on the black kid with brown hair and blue eyes because he does not look “black”. Yet his race is the same as the very dark child identified as “black”. Race ends if we are all physically blind. It ends immediately. This is not true of height, weight, etc. Only hair color and eye color. So race is basically the same as eye color and hair color. It only matters if you can see it.

    Maybe we could study which “race” throws the most hissy fits?

  5. Simon Platt

    I heard that I share over 80% of my genes with a lettuce.

    I wonder whether that’s true.

  6. Sheri

    John ()B: Google’s not much help on the IQ clickbait. Maybe clickbait doesn’t earn Google money. Anyway, the best I could find is the clickbait says it’s around “average” if you go through the 19 screens to the end. No real number given. Like virtually all clickbait. You spend time and get zip in return. It’s great if you have a migraine, though. Just stare at all the pretty little screens and zone out!!!

    IQ tests are so cute anyway. My cousin got into Mensa by finding the test they used and the answers and memorizing the answers. Yes, sir science all the way.

  7. JC


    Lettuce know what you find out.

  8. John B()


    Yeah! I googled too and didn’t find my original Click-Bait
    Thank the Lord for Snopes
    Snopes Fact-Checked Trump’s reported IQ of 156 (Must’ve be on FB)
    They decided it was False

  9. Conor Dobbs

    An interesting phenomenon to note amongst IQ deniers is how excited they become if told their kids are ‘gifted’. In modern debates everything is reduced to either ‘what about ME’ or ‘what happens next’. I’m probably in the 105-115 range but have never been tested[1st Class Honours BEng but college can be gamed].

    What that taught me was the huge cognitive gap that exists between someone like me and say someone around 135-150. A friend works for one of the top 4 law firms in London in Corporate Law and his ability to absorb and apply new information was frightening. I’m glad such people exist, as they are to thank for most of the inventions that make our lives much easier.

    The mid-wit takes it as personal offence that cognitive power can be reduced to a number, then in the next instance claim human brains are just like computers[RAM=IQ]! Journalism is afflicted to a large degree by mid-wittery combined with righteous activist energy. One of the German generals[legend has it] used the 4 square category system > [lazy, clever] [lazy, stupid] [hardworking ,clever] [hardworking , stupid]. The clever lazy types were selected for highest leadership posts. The clever hard workers were limited to the general staff, to take instruction from the ‘lazy clever’. Whoever was stupid and hardworking had to be gotten rid off due to the damage they inflict.
    In our [diluted] credentialed world we have a lot of people walking around who fall into this last category whilst the average person treats them as clever due to their industriousness collecting titles/degrees/medals and so on. It would be fun subjecting the entire political class and the media to IQ tests and watch the publics reaction.

    IQ is also useful in certain circumstances, like admitting people to the army. Robert McNamara deliberately lowered the threshold, putting borderline mentally disabled people into the meatgrinder of Vietnam.

    People have a hard time contending with reality it would seem, even when it can clearly be used to save lives.

  10. BDavi52

    That is the beauty of the Progressive Left…..

    They begin with the ‘Truth’ as revealed by the yawps of their 4-Headed God (Diversity, Inclusivity, Equality, & Social Justice)….and from those Woke Revelations derive ‘Facts’, create laws, dictate policies, rewrite histories, and work continually to reshape the world (and humanity itself) to match their god’s glowing vision.

    Revealed Truth: All people are absolutely equal and absolutely good.
    Derived Fact: ALL outcome variance (from either equality or goodness) therefore must be due to SYSTEMIC Whateverism (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, paternalism….it doesn’t matter).

    This particular revelation may very well be at the top of the Progressive Commandments for from it is derived Critical Race Theory….. Defunding the Police …. Reforming the Criminal Justice System….. Redesigning the Academic Curriculum (no child left behind)…. Affirmative Action…. Kendi’s New Racism / Anti-Racism…. White Fragility…. Glass Ceilings….. Gender Wage Gaps…. and, far from least, the Teacup Tempest Tizzy re: the question of IQ and genetics.

    It also explains the 3-Monkey See No Evil / Hear No Evil / Say No Evil approach to “Science”.

    Knowing — per the Yawping God — that there is NO DIFFERENCE between people, between sexes, between races, between cultures….any research, any effort, any inconvenient factoid which even hints at difference (Lions & Tigers & Biologic Essentialism…Oh My!) must not and cannot be seen, heard, or spoken.

    And if — Woke Forbid — such an evil thing does see the light of day (through enemy action or brain-dead mistake) every effort must be made to strike it down (preferably getting the publisher fired, the journal discredited, and the author cancelled ASAP.

    [See Noah Carl at Cambridge College … his paper here: …. See Stephen Hsu at MSU, Jason Richwine, et al.]

    As Orwell quite presciently noted: ““The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”

    I’m surprised Cofnas didn’t know that.
    I guess he does now.

  11. Simon Platt

    JC! I found out that I was wrong! According to the Times of India, it’s 99%!

  12. Uncle Mike

    For what it’s worth, I agree with the contra-Confas academics on certain points, although I don’t know them and probably don’t agree with them on anything else.

    Obviously we are all genetically different. Obviously some people (quite a few) are born stupid and never get over it. Obviously some people (not many) are born super-intelligent and remain so if they don’t injure their brains with drugs or other traumas. The question revolves around appropriate binning.

    Statisticians and other stupid people like to jam others into arbitrary bins. If some poor sap looks like another poor sap, they get stuffed into the same bin. This is reductionism, which is less a philosophy than a laziness of thinking. After all, how can a good statistician study groups if everybody is different and nobody fits into one of a small number of cozy bins without strenuous shoehorning?

    I’m not talking about men and women, who are obviously different and obviously similar to their sex groups physically, although there is a lot of variation within the two bins and plenty of stupid men as well as stupid women.

    But I am not comfortable with the reference above to Indonesians, Inuits, and Japanese as races. “Race” is a specific binning system that originated in the Dark Ages and has been thoroughly refuted by modern genetic science. Race is not nationality, or tribe, or hair color, or country club membership. It is a biological theory that does not comport with genetic reality, gene analysis, allele distribution, or anything measurable. It’s a fake binning system.

    That’s not to say the Theory of Race and its five color-coded bins is not widely accepted as true. Most people are stupid and the Ruling Elite have imposed stupid thinking for centuries to justify their abuses of power. It’s worse today than ever as Critically Stupid Race Theorists burn, loot, and pillage our cities under the false pretext that a Race War would be a good thing.

    You can inform stupid people that there is no such thing as race, that the five color-coded bins are not sound biology, that while there are genetically-similar groups out there, they don’t coagulate nicely into five bins, but you can’t make them accept that fact because that particular stupidity has been drummed into them their whole lives and the entire political mind-control power structure is built on it. People are sheep. If you have a high IQ, you know this instinctively.

  13. Uncle Mike

    Indeed, the whole theory of genetically programmed intelligence is easily disproved. While I am super-intelligent (check my test scores), some members of my own family, my blood kin, are dumb as rocks. They tell me they won’t vote for Trump because they don’t like his tweets, even though they are not on Twitter and have never read a Trump tweet. One close blood relative, whom I love dearly, told me she didn’t like Trump because of his vocabulary. This darling woman has a severely limited vocabulary herself, which doesn’t make her any less lovable or capable at certain tasks. Best cook in the Western US and a saint, IMHO.

    The Media is filled with morons of all stripes. The color of their skin and shape of their heads has nothing to do with intelligence. These “journalists” flunked every math class they ever took. They couldn’t write a complete sentence to save their lives. They spew “talking points” handed to them by their Masters. If somebody else didn’t dress, paint, and perfume them, they’d be ragged, ugly, and stink. Their genetic inheritance doesn’t work for them, although they might be related to somebody who isn’t an idiot.

  14. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Lungs and Pears are comprised of roughly 84% of water but they does not mean – as a member of The Institute of Indifference in The Roman Curia might claim – that if one has to have his diseased lungs removed and undergo a transplant that a pair of pears would adequately suffice to serve as a pair of lungs because the percentage of water is similar in both objects and only a sick racist would demand another Doctor.

  15. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Clap for the Kaplan,
    he’ll get your SAT’s sky high;
    Clap for the Kaplan,
    The Ivy’s no longer pass Jews by

    One day in the 1950s a high- school principal from Brooklyn named Abe Lass came down to the 400- acre farm outside Princeton, New Jersey, where ETS was building a new campus for itself, and informed the executives there that a man in his neighborhood named Stanley Kaplan had set himself up in the SAT tutoring business. According to Lass, after every administration of the SAT, Kaplan would give a party for his young charges. Each student was instructed to remember one question from the test, and to tell it to Kaplan at the party. Then on to the hot dogs and root beer. After a few of these parties, Kaplan had a pretty good set of actual SAT questions that he could go over with his students, many of which might turn up on the next administration of the test. ETS considered trying to get the New York State Legislature to declare Kaplan’s business illegal, but settled for insisting, for decades, that its tests were uncoachable, even as a substantial test-prep industry (with Kaplan’s company, now owned by the same corporation that owns NEWSWEEK, the biggest player) grew up around them.

    ABS originally read about this scam in Culture Wars but he is too lazy to dig thorough all of his copies but the upshot is the establishment wanted to use assessment tools to rake through the human debris of America and find a few nuggets to take into their confidence, train and educate them and make them respectables while the rest who tested poorly would be the deplorables, fit for drafting to be used as the niggas to fight their wars here, there and everywhere.

    Men like Trump and Limbaugh always find a way to avoid the draft while bellowing about Patriotism and our heroes – like the heroes who have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan since, well, since forever it seems.

  16. brad tittle

    When the SAT folks published their spectrums of scores, it was amazing to see how many people scored perfectly in all groups. How many of the 1600s were coached? or is it 2400? How do you discern the coached vs the uncoached? How do you assess the benefits of being coachable?

    How do you assess the ability of the person you are talking to?

    What ability are you looking for?

    There are too many things that I have learned from people who have lower IQs. Too often, it is because I overthought the answer.

    But then I go online and watch people who are smarter in subjects actually engage in the same idiocy. Watch the thread of folks trying to find the perfect ammo caliber. I can no longer claim that no one in my family has used a gun, but no one has actually used a gun to defend themselves. There are long chains of conversation trying to pick the perfect ammo. 22 is too small and will be stopped by denim. 50 is too big because you will knock yourself out. 9 might be okay, but what if the guy is hopped up on PCP? I now know a couple of people who have used guns to defend themselves, but they were being paid to do so in hotter parts of the world. I trust them a little more than I trust the intellectuals I find on some websites.

    None of the people I trust will stand in front of a snub nosed suppressed subsonic 22 revolver.

    But I still play stupid Occupational Risk Management games in my head.

    Don’t expect stupid to bow to intelligence. Expect them to equalize the situation before you get a chance to tell them they are wrong.

    Suddenly they are smarter than you.

  17. Cameron

    “Race ends if we are all physically blind.”

    Yes, Bantus and Samoans/Tongans/Maoris would have a harder time finding you to stab or beat you to death. In this sense, that pesky MAOA gene and its alleles wouldn’t matter if we were all blind.

    “So race is basically the same as eye color and hair color.”

    Not strictly true. If you take 100 Dravidians, 100 Negritos, 100 Bantus and 100 Melanesians, mix them all together, a novice (let alone an anthropologist) could sort them back out with near 100% accuracy even though they have the same skin, hair and eye color. Your brain can pick up on a variety of features and the correlations in those features, not just color/brightness/contrast.

  18. Cameron

    Climate doesn’t exist. There are no discrete climates. There is great overlap between different so-called “climates” in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation etc. No one can say how many climates there are because that categorization is arbitrary/subjective – ergo – climate doesn’t exist.

    It follows that there are no significant differences worth noting between an Arctic desert and a tropical rainforest.

  19. JC


    This is troubling news for produce aisles and lettuce-wrapped Gargantuan sandwiches from Jimmy John’s. Sounds like an unfortunate case of systemic cannibalism.

  20. bilge_pump

    Interesting, I don’t know if I can bring myself to agree with this statement:

    “We will never identify all genetic components, because some aspects of intelligence are immaterial, which is to say, not material.”

    It’s not that human intelligence may be far too complex for anatomically modern humans to grasp, but that it’s impossible to understand fully because there’s some kind of spirit stuff going on. I don’t know how you are familiar enough with the spirit stuff to know that it can’t be explained…

    He goes on to say this about “academics”:

    ” They say a “fundamental reason why researchers do not engage with the thesis is that empirical evidence shows that the whole idea itself is unintelligible and wrong-headed”. They start by admitting they can’t understand it. But if they can’t understand it, they can’t say it’s “wrong-headed”.””

    So, we’ve come full circle here. If there are “genetic components” of intelligence that we can “never identify” because they are “immaterial” – which you’ll have to convince me isn’t the same as “unintelligible” – how is this any different from race-denying academics saying we can’t look into race differences?

    Would someone use this view to block scientific inquiry into intelligence? If so, they will probably be beaten out by people whose examinations of the world aren’t going to be dead-ended by ideas like that. This was one of the problems I saw with Christianity when I came to the conclusion that I’m an atheist, way back in high school. I really don’t want to bring that kind of debate back.

    One more thing. Massimo Pigliucci receives some unfair criticism in this I think. He co-authored a book on modern genetics that I liked:

    Maybe I should go back and read it again…

  21. BDavi52

    RE: bilge pump…

    You make an interesting point….but the quote you reference is itself flawed. Or, at least I believe it can and should be read differently.

    The quote: ““We will never identify all genetic components, because some aspects of intelligence are immaterial, which is to say, not material.” You take that to mean that Briggs is saying that there ARE genetic components of intelligence which can never be identified because they are immaterial. I believe what he intended to say is that ‘Some aspects of intelligence are immaterial….and therefore cannot be identified by any exhaustive detailing of genetic components.’

    In his article “The Limitations And Usefulness Of IQ” (, he says this more directly: “What all this means it that it is impossible—not just unlikely or difficult, but impossible—to draw a causal link between genes and the higher powers of intelligence. Genes thus have no direct influence on the higher powers. And thus evolution, whatever that might be or however you want to define its mechanisms, has no influence on the most important part of human intelligence. That is so important that I want you to re-read it: evolution and genes have no influence on the most important part of human intelligence.”

    You ask, “how is this any different from race-denying academics saying we can’t look into race differences”?

    From my perspective the difference is stark.
    Race exists as a demographic group, if only by “self-identification of named groups”. Any number of demographic / behavioral correlates can be found as we examine Group 1 averages against Group 2 averages. “Race-denying academics” begin, though, by denying the ‘fact’ of race and end by denying those corresponding differences.

    In a sense it’d be like someone denying that you and I play on two different teams (you, let’s say, on the LSU Tigers football team…me on the KC Chiefs). You and I both recognize our two different teams and we can easily compare the average differences between teams (my team is bigger, faster, stronger, and generally — on average — more skilled than yours). But if the Observer denies that we’re on two different teams or that teams even exist, then they easily dismiss the differences between the two teams as ‘unintelligible’.

    (Though obviously a thing cannot be BOTH unintelligible AND wrong-headed)

    What Briggs is saying (or so I believe): Intelligence is driven by both material and immaterial qualities…and though we may (with much scientific diligence) sooner or later be able to identify 100% of all material drivers…we will never be able to identify the immaterial. (The whole is greater than the sum of the biologic parts) He’s not saying there are no differences (Demographic Group 1 to Demographic Group 2) but that there is some portion of at least one of those differences (intelligence) which is beyond quantification.

    Nor is he saying that just because a critical portion of human ‘intelligence’ is driven by immaterial qualities that does not mean the material drivers cannot and should not be examined as we week to better understand intelligence. He is only saying that whatever conclusions can be reached through a comparative examination of the material factors…those conclusions will always only be a partial explanation for human intelligence (which, in total, transcends the material).

    Could someone use the fact that some portion of human intelligence is driven by the immaterial to block ALL inquiry into human intelligence (including the material)? I suppose it could, in the sense that there is always someone seeking to restrict investigation into things they believe are taboo… but so what? Those views never hold (in the long run….though the short run may be bumpy). Currently Cofnas, et al., are in the midst of a similar restriction as performed by the New Red Guard and the ongoing Woke Inquisition.

    This too, we hope, shall pass.

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