Posted by: Bal Patil | August 2, 2010

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR RACISM?

Published in “National Herald, 5th July, 1978

SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR RACISM?

By BAL PATIL

It is pertinent to remind ourselves that racial prejudice has no rational or scientific basis  whatever.  It is not the British behavioural scientist,  Prof. Hans Eysenck, alone who has had the  temerity to expound ideas about differences in mental capacity between the Negroes and the whites: the pioneer in the field is really Dr. Jensen who first propounded the theory in a systematic manner  in his contribution in the Harvard Educational Review in 1969.

I have read Dr. Jensen’s contribution carefully.  I felt it incredible  when I read it a decade ago  that a social scientist and educationist writing in a reputed educationist review  published from Harvard should have been rash enough to present a hypothesis denigrating  a social  minority in America that has suffered untold indignities at the hands of the ‘superior’ white race.  To say that the inferiority of  Negroes in IQ tests owes more to genetical  composition in their population than to environmental ones was an amazing proposition indeed.  Moreover, I thought that he had put forward a hypothesis which main body of his research contradicts.

Dr. Jensen was concerned with demonstrating that what we know by the concept of intelligence comprises only part of a totality of mental ability.  He argued: “Intelligence should not be regarded  as completely  synonymous  with what I shall call mental ability, a term which refers to the totality of a person’s mental capabilities,  the particular constellation of abilities we now call ‘intelligence’ and which we can measure by means  of ‘intelligence’ tests, has been singled out from the total galaxy  of mental  abilities  as being especially important in our society mainly because of the nature  of  our traditional  system of formal education and the occupational structure  with which it is coordinated.  Thus  the predominant  importance of intelligence is derived not from absolute criteria or God-given desiderate, but from social demands.”

‘Social demands’

If “social demands” are so important can they be anything except weighted in favour of  the majority of the population which has consciously discriminated against Negroes for centuries?  intelligence  theory confirm the suspicion that intelligence tests in the USA today are so framed that they favour  white students.

This hypothesis also does not take into account the dysgenic effects of a long period of social deprivation such as that the Negroes have been subjected to.  The real question with regard to Dr. Jensen’s finding is whether the Negro genes or genotypes, which he regards as exhibiting average Negro-White intelligence differences, have had an equal chance to develop through several generations and in more or less similar environment.  And  as they have not had such a chance, this hypothesis must fail.

‘Gene Pools’

Dr. Jensen went on further to contend that “No one has yet produced any evidence based on a properly controlled study to show that representative samples of Negro and White children can be equalized in intellectual ability through statistical control of environment and education.” Did Dr. Jensen himself arrive at his mischievous hypothesis by means of statistical control of environment & education? Is it ever possible to carry out such preposterous social experiments in laboratory conditions?  A more realistic answer to Dr. Jensen’s question would be that a model as envisaged by him, would be simply irrelevant given the Negro-White situation.

We must not forget that the Negro is on alien and hostile ground to start with.  In 1926, Helmer devised tests which contained subject-matter relating closely to the life of Red Indians.  When White and Red Indian children did the tests the White children were found to be inferior!  Professor I.I. Gottesman a leading behavioural geneticist  questioning the validity of the Jensenist theory noted:

“Even when gene pools  are known to be matched, appreciable differences in the mean IQ can be observed that could  only have been associated with environmental differences”.  In a study of 38 pairs of identical twins reared  in different environments, the average difference in the IQ for these identical twins was 14 points and at least one quarter  of the identical pairs of twins reared in different environments had differences in the IQ score that were larger than 16 points.  The difference is larger than the average difference between Black and White  populations.  Therefore, Gottesman concluded that “the differences observed so far between Whites and Negroes can hardly be accepted as sufficient evidence that with  respect to intelligence the Negro American is genetically less endowed.

Scientifically there is no evidence whatever to claim that a particular race is innately superior  to any other race.  In Race and Modern Science edited by Robert E.  Kuttner, Social Science Press, (1967), a collection of essays by biologists, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists one of the contributors, Bertil Lundman,  says: Race is a term that can be applied only to a reasonably  homogenous group that has preserved  its hereditary characteristics almost unchanged through a long succession of generations.”

Race traits are to be seen in head shape, facial form, nasal form, skin colour, hair colour  and eye colour.  Therefore, Mr. Lundman says that we  may  divide  mankind  into “white”  (better Europoid”) “black” “yellow” and  “red” primary types.  He says: “We cannot fail to be impressed by the large differences in environments, peoples  and races –“behavioural traits, just as in morphological and physiological  traits, are  the result of selective  and hereditary adaptations to diverse environments over thousands  of years….No one method of anthropological investigation can claim to possess exclusive authority. Climatic and geographical factors have also an effect: black skin is particularly suited to the torrid zones and fair skin (white or yellow) to the more temperate regions.

IQ  not fixed at birth.

When Prof. Jensen had come to the Royal Geographical Society in London in September, 1974, to explain his race theory anti-racist scientists picketed the meeting and in the meeting itself all the scientists  denounced his theories  categorically.  Dr. Barbara Tizard  of London University  said as reported  in  The Guardian of September 20, 1974, that studies carried out in Britain of carefully matched  groups  of children  of different ethnic origins reveals  no innate defect in any ethnic  group, and that IQ  is not fixed  at  birth, as people used to believe, but can be continually changed by circumstances.  She went on to condemn Prof. Jensen’s  thesis  thus: “The issue raised by Jensen of the contribution of heredity to radical differences if IQ is both politically offensive and educationally irrelevant.   It is  politically offensive  because whatever the motivation of the author, it  serves as a respectable  academic rationale for  racist  policies.

Prof. J.S. Weiner of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine demonstrated how physiological responses were primarily a matter of conditioning not race and argued  that  the genetic potential  was  basically the same in all ethnic groups.  Every speaker at the meeting (except Jensen himself) was implicitly or directly hostile to Jensen’s Theories.

It is strange and scandalous, therefore, that South Africa (and its incorrigible Dr. Vorster) should continue to hurl defiance at the Freedom Charter adopted at the Congress  of the  People at Kliptown  in South Africa in 1955, and continue to bury its head obdurately in racial  sands.  Much more regret table is the fact that there  are academic  and intellectual  justifications of racial  superiority  coming from the so-called  advanced Western nations.  But we Indians sit in judgement  when we

continue to perpetrate enormous iniquities on the  called lower  castes and untouchables?

______________________________________________________________________________

READERS’ VIEWS  Published  The Times of India June 4, 1981

FALSE THEORY
By Bal Patil

To The Editor, “The Times Of India”

Sir,

You have done well to nail the canard of Dr. Jensen’s pseudo-scientific hypothesis that Negroes are genetically inferior to whites (May 28/29).

It is incredible that a social scientist writing in a reputed educational review published from Harvard should have the temerity to present a hypothesis denigrating a social minority in America that has suffered untold indignities at the hand of the “superior” white race. To argue that the inferiority of Negroes in IQ tests owes more to genetical components in their population than to environmental ones is truly amazing.

I have read Dr, Jensen’s contribution in the current issue of the Harvard Educational Review, and think that he has put forward a hypothesis which is not warranted by the main body of his research.

He is concerned with demonstrating that what we know by the concept of intelligence comprises only part of a totality of mental ability. He argues: “Intelligence should not be regarded as completely synonymous with what I shall call mental ability, a term which refers to the totality of a person’s mental capabilities …. the particular constellation of abilities we now call “intelligence” , and which we can measure by means of ‘intelligence’ tests, has been singled out from the total galaxy of mental abilities has being especially important in our society mainly because of the nature of our traditional system of formal education and the occupational structure with which it is co-ordinated . Thus, the predominant importance of intelligence is derived not from any absolute criteria or God-given desiderata, but from social demands.”

If “social demands” are so important, can they be anything except weighted in favour of the majority of the population which has consciously discriminated against Negroes for centuries? Does not this “social demands” intelligence theory confirm the suspicion voiced by you that “intelligence tests in the U.S.A.today are so framed that they favour white students”?

This hypothesis also does not take into account the dysgenic effects of a long period of social deprivation such as that the Negroes have been subjected to. The real question with regard to Dr, Jensen’s finding is whether the Negro genes or genotypes, which he regards as exhibiting average Negro-white intelligence differences, have had an equal chance to develop through several generations and in more or less similar environments. And as they have not had such a change, this hypothesis must fall.

Dr. Jensen further contends that “No one has yet produced any evidence based on a properly controlled study to show that representative samples of Negro and white children can be equalized in intellectual ability through statistical control of environment and education.” The answer is that such a model would be simply irrelevant given the Negro-white situation.

We must not forget that the Negro is on alien and hostile ground to start with. In 1926, Helmer devised tests which contained subject-matter relating closely to the life of Red Indians. When white and Red Indian children did tests the white children were found to be inferior. There are more things in intelligence than are tapped by the IQ tests devised on the U.S.A.

_____________________________________________________________________-

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  1. […] SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR RACISM? « polymath […]


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