tisdag 23 oktober 2007

Race and intelligence again

Intelligence itself is a murky concept - the notion of using poison gas during the first world war was conceived by one of the most brilliant scientists of the time. But primarily, it is the ability to make high scores in intelligence tests, for what they are worth.

Intelligence tests arose through the need to predict future performance, and they are of some, though limited value. But even if they showed that individuals from particular ethnic groups had a tendency to score high or low, there are so many other factors involved that it would be difficult if not impossible to establish to what extent there was a genetic component.

In the case of people of African descent, possible non-genetic causes of low scores in these tests would be cultural factors, poor nutrition and childhood illness, and poverty, which can mean that parents are so busy trying to survive that they are unable to give their children the necessary time to promote their intellectual development.

In so far as low intelligence (whatever that means) is a poverty issue, it would be cruel to try, out of reasons of policial correctness, to pretend there is not a problem when there is, and which needs to be addressed.

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