29 October 2007

James Watson's thought crime

Political correctness can count one more victim. This time it is James Watson, THE James Watson, the Nobel prize winner who unravelled the secrets of DNA.

In an interview in the Sunday Times, among others, an excerpt from his new book is mentioned:

"...there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so..."

I cannot believe that anybody with a basic level of open-mindedness and education would seriously deny the above. It is a fact that intelligence is genetically determined and that it varies among people. Common sense would allow for the possibility that intelligence can vary among different populations, in a similar way that height does.

I believe that the statement above itself would not cause him much problems -rightly. His mistake is that when he discused intelligence, he mentioned the "A" word. Here is the incriminating statement, a very Charles Murray one:

He says that he is “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”

I am wondering whether the crime here was the offense of a specific race that can threaten social peace, (a debatable but in principle fair point), or worse, whether James Watson's sin was to offend the notion that all people are born with equal potential. If it is the latter, it is a shame that people have not yet managed to get rid off the egalitarian illusions that human nature is indefinitely plastic and that all inequality is based on bad luck, social injustices or lack of government intervention.

Let me propose a different strategy to the egalitarian camp: they should actually ask for more research and a wider acceptance of the genetic basis of social differences. The ultimate target for them should be to use genetic engineering for "a de profundis" elimination of social inequalities.


Lovey said...

You write very well.

Konon said...