BradTrun

On Ayn Rand on Racism

50 posts in this topic

One more point concerning the NBA players and the supposed effects of race. No player is selected because he is black. No player is even selected because he is tall. They are selected because they can put the ball in the hoop, pass, block, or play defense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more point concerning the NBA players and the supposed effects of race. No player is selected because he is black. No player is even selected because he is tall. They are selected because they can put the ball in the hoop, pass, block, or play defense.

Professional sport is one of the few genuine merit based industries still operative in the United States. Winning is not the main thing; winning is everything.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate the feedback! Some responses:

Race is defined here in plain English: "A group or population of humans categorized on the basis of various sets of heritable characteristics..." (http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Race). The difficulty in precisely categorizing varieties of humans does not invalidate the concept, anymore than the color spectrum or geographical features are invalidated by ambiguity. Post-modernist and deconstructionist views of race are anti-conceptual and politically motivated.

I agree with Rand that ideas and culture are not inherited. But the hardware for acquiring and expressing them is. Scientists believe that general intelligence in adults is about 75% heritable. If 75% of the explanation for racial IQ gaps within a country (not comparing people in first-world to those in third-world countries) is genetic, then the odds of blacks ever catching up to whites and Orientals are practically zero. I hold that this IQ gap, being more than a full standard deviation, is socially significant.

Whites and Asians carry remnants of neanderthal DNA. Africans do not:

http://lightyears.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/26/feeling-like-a-neanderthal-heres-why/

Africans have smaller average brain size. Brain size is positively correlated with intelligence:

Studies of brain size, including those using MRI,

show a correlation of 0.40 with IQ. Substantial population differences exist in brain size that parallel the IQ differences. In average cranial capacity (cm3), East Asians =1364; Whites =1347;

and Blacks =1267. Since every cubic centimeter of brain

tissue contains millions of brain cells and billions of synapses,

the race differences in brain size help to explain the race differences in IQ

(http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/Templer%20&%20Rushton%202011%20Intelligence.pdf)

Affirmative Action demands equal social outcomes on the premise of innate equality. That premise is false, and advocates of individual rights should not shy away from naming it as such in order to destroy the foundation on which racial egalitarians make their political demands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Rand that ideas and culture are not inherited. But the hardware for acquiring and expressing them is.

What's not inherited is the final form that hardware takes.

Scientists believe that general intelligence in adults is about 75% heritable.

We live in an era in which scientists routinely set aside volition when either setting up experiments or extrapolating from their data. Volition that goes a long way in determining the final physical form that hardware takes. So, as the biography section of any library attests, people of all races and backgrounds can develop noteworthy levels of intelligence, achieve extraordinary things, and live lives that are more or less as full and rewarding as anyone else's -- irrespective of the fact that their hardware may not have that ultimate potentiality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need to be convinced of a direct relationship between brain size and intelligence. Women likely have smaller brains than men. Dolphins, I am told have larger brains than humans. There are too many variables involved, such as JohnRgt mentions. Volition can be used to alter intelligence. It is true that we are all limited in our potential, but that limit is far higher than forming a basis of restriction for most normal humans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The relationship between brain size and intelligence isn't 1:1. Also relevant is the relationship between brain size and body mass. An elephant's brain is larger than any other land mammal's. But its brain is small in relation to the size of the elephant's other organs. A woman's brain is slightly smaller than a man's, but it's proportional to a woman's smaller body size overall. With a white male as compared to a black male of equal height, the white male is likely to have a larger brain and more intelligence.

Anthropologists have no problem inferring relative intelligence levels from fossil records of ancient human ancestors. But when it comes to modern-day humans for whom we have precise measures of brain size and brain performance (as indicated by IQ tests), causal inferences are subjected to manufactured skepticism or are simply deemed to be off limits based on idealistic egalitarian ethical codes that would collapse upon a recognition of reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anthropologists have no problem inferring relative intelligence levels from fossil records of ancient human ancestors.

Scary, isn't it?

But when it comes to modern-day humans for whom we have precise measures of brain size and brain performance (as indicated by IQ tests), causal inferences are subjected to manufactured skepticism or are simply deemed to be off limits based on idealistic egalitarian ethical codes that would collapse upon a recognition of reality.

What's the causal link between brain size and observed intelligence?

Please define "intelligence" and "brain performance".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anthropologists have no problem inferring relative intelligence levels from fossil records of ancient human ancestors.

Scary, isn't it?

But when it comes to modern-day humans for whom we have precise measures of brain size and brain performance (as indicated by IQ tests), causal inferences are subjected to manufactured skepticism or are simply deemed to be off limits based on idealistic egalitarian ethical codes that would collapse upon a recognition of reality.

What's the causal link between brain size and observed intelligence?

Please define "intelligence" and "brain performance".

The correlation between brain size and intelligence (i.q.) runs between 0.10 and 0.40 .

Please see the following:

http://pubpages.unh.edu/~jel/brainIQ.html

There is a relation but it is not overwhelming.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Better not put on too much weight; it will throw out the ratio of weight to brain size - making you a little less bright. Seriously, it's quality not quantity that counts in reaching the limits of our intelligence if we are speaking of the normal brain. For example, disorganized thinking can limit one far more than brain size. This is not to say that some people are not brighter than others, but I have seen some really stupid bright people and clever people who were not so bright. They knew how to use their brains effectively. The best achievers are a combination of a good brain and good thinking, not intelligence alone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anthropologists have no problem inferring relative intelligence levels from fossil records of ancient human ancestors.

Scary, isn't it?

But when it comes to modern-day humans for whom we have precise measures of brain size and brain performance (as indicated by IQ tests), causal inferences are subjected to manufactured skepticism or are simply deemed to be off limits based on idealistic egalitarian ethical codes that would collapse upon a recognition of reality.

What's the causal link between brain size and observed intelligence?

Please define "intelligence" and "brain performance".

The correlation between brain size and intelligence (i.q.) runs between 0.10 and 0.40 .

Please see the following:

http://pubpages.unh....el/brainIQ.html

There is a relation but it is not overwhelming.

The relation between winter and spring is far more overwhelming, but we don't go around thinking winter causes spring -- at least not anymore. Besides, Brad used the word "causal".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The relation between winter and spring is far more overwhelming, but we don't go around thinking winter causes spring -- at least not anymore. Besides, Brad used the word "causal".

It is a two way street. The initial spurt in brain size which was a combination of luck (mutation) plus success in hunting good protein sources led to a way of life in which even more brain mass and correlated intelligence was a positive survival trait. It is a biological ping pong match. Increased brain mass leads to more intelligence which favors offspring with even more brain mass and so on. The only limiting factor is the size of a human female's pelvis. The only way a human baby can be born is to come out with only about one third the brain mass it will have when the brain reaches its full physical growth (approximately three years of age). That is why we do not have the babies with humongous head size such as one meets in science fiction stories. In the last 3 million years Darwinian evolution has favored larger heads and smarter brains in the primate phylum.

By technological means humans have substituted machines and instruments of ever increasing capability for large heads and brains to fill them. We now carry our increased brain capacity in the form of pocket devices that can down load from the computer networks.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The relation between winter and spring is far more overwhelming, but we don't go around thinking winter causes spring -- at least not anymore. Besides, Brad used the word "causal".

It is a two way street. The initial spurt in brain size which was a combination of luck (mutation) plus success in hunting good protein sources led to a way of life in which even more brain mass and correlated intelligence was a positive survival trait. It is a biological ping pong match. Increased brain mass leads to more intelligence which favors offspring with even more brain mass and so on. The only limiting factor is the size of a human female's pelvis. The only way a human baby can be born is to come out with only about one third the brain mass it will have when the brain reaches its full physical growth (approximately three years of age). That is why we do not have the babies with humongous head size such as one meets in science fiction stories. In the last 3 million years Darwinian evolution has favored larger heads and smarter brains in the primate phylum.

By technological means humans have substituted machines and instruments of ever increasing capability for large heads and brains to fill them. We now carry our increased brain capacity in the form of pocket devices that can down load from the computer networks.

None of this establishes a causal connection between intelligence and brain size.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

None of this establishes a causal connection between intelligence and brain size.

It makes it a plausible hypothesis to be tested in the field. It also provides a causal mechanism connecting brain size to intelligence. Or more accurately the ratio brain-mass/body-mass to intelligence. The size of the brain per se is not the critical number but the ratio of brain mass to body mass. Whales have much large brains (in absolute terms) than humans but there is no evidence indicating they they are more intelligent than we are. The ratio of whale brain mass to whale body mass is less than it is for humans.

I think you will find that species with the largest (average) brain mass to body mass number are the most intelligent. Intelligent means problem solving ability and ability to learn new things. It is hard to judge the intelligence of ceteceans (porpoise, dolphin, whales, orca) but they clearly have communication ability far in excess of the small critters like bugs. The large primates show problem solving ability but nothing like the language ability of humans. So there is at least a loose connection between brain-mass/body-mass and intelligence as previous defined.

There is some connection probably related to the complexity of the neuron network involved in the brains of the various animals. The more neurons and connective tissue the more combinatorial capability of the network. In any case the problem can be handled by appropriate scientific measurement and observation.

Human intelligence is clearly a function of or connect to the complexity of the neuron system. We have lots of integrating power packed into our three pound package.

You can review the current state of science on this question in the wiki article

Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain-to-body_mass_ratio

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

None of this establishes a causal connection between intelligence and brain size.

It makes it a plausible hypothesis to be tested in the field.

Which, once again, isn't a causal connection, which is what was claimed.

It also provides a causal mechanism connecting brain size to intelligence.

A potential causal mechanism.

The problem with citing the correlation between brain size and intelligence in the animal kingdom to support the notion that brain size is the determiner of human intelligence, is that it ignores the impact volition has on the development of the human brain -- not the mind, the brain.

Human intelligence is clearly a function of or connect to the complexity of the neuron system.

Isn't a lot of that complexity and/or the density of the neuron system set during early development? Isn't it a function of a child's reactions to outside stimulation?

You can review the current state of science on this question in the wiki article

I'd rather not got through a wikipedia article on this issue unless you know that the cited research takes human volition into account correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic

General intelligence is an important human quantitative trait that accounts for much of the variation in diverse cognitive abilities. Individual differences in intelligence are strongly associated with many important life outcomes, including educational and occupational attainments, income, health and lifespan. Data from twin and family studies are consistent with a high heritability of intelligence, but this inference has been controversial. We conducted a genome-wide analysis of 3511 unrelated adults with data on 549

692 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and detailed phenotypes on cognitive traits. We estimate that 40

%

of the variation in crystallized-type intelligence and 51

%

of the variation in fluid-type intelligence between individuals is accounted for by linkage disequilibrium between genotyped common SNP markers and unknown causal variants. These estimates provide lower bounds for the narrow-sense heritability of the traits.

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v16/n10/full/mp201185a.html

A strong heritability component to intelligence -- which is now proven, established science -- would not square with the degree and persistency of observed racial variation in intelligence unless the heritable traits for intelligence also vary by race. We know that traits for brain size vary by race, and that these variations line up exactly with variations in measures of intelligence.

In fairness to Ayn Rand, most of this evidence was unavailable to her when she was formulating her views on race and genetics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to any connection between race and intelligence, I have to agree with Ayn Rand when she wrote:

Even if it were proved—which it is not—that the incidence of men of potentially superior brain power is greater among the members of certain races than among the members of others, it would still tell us nothing about any given individual and it would be irrelevant to one's judgment of him. A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race—and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin. It is hard to say which is the more outrageous injustice: the claim of Southern racists that a Negro genius should be treated as an inferior because his race has "produced" some brutes-or the claim of a German brute to the status of a superior because his race has "produced" Goethe, Schiller and Brahms. (Racism, The New Left, P. 180)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to any connection between race and intelligence, I have to agree with Ayn Rand when she wrote:

Even if it were proved—which it is not—that the incidence of men of potentially superior brain power is greater among the members of certain races than among the members of others, it would still tell us nothing about any given individual and it would be irrelevant to one's judgment of him. A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race—and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin. It is hard to say which is the more outrageous injustice: the claim of Southern racists that a Negro genius should be treated as an inferior because his race has "produced" some brutes-or the claim of a German brute to the status of a superior because his race has "produced" Goethe, Schiller and Brahms. (Racism, The New Left, P. 180)

Genetic factors which are characteristic of species probably set upper bounds to brain and neurological performance. For example if a human mutant grew up to have a six pound brain (mostly cerebral tissue) such a one could be more likely a prodigy in abstraction. Even so, setting upper bounds does not determine effective performance. Suppose Einstein had been one of two identical twins. It is conceivable that other-Einstein with a very similar brain might turn out to be a dolt or have a mediocre intellect. Genes can determine brain structure, neural interconnection density and such like gross features of the brain. What genes to not determine is the content of the brain. That depends on circumstances, happenings and above all choices made. A person with a potentially genius brain could very well end up as a nobody (intellectually speaking). On the other hand a person with less brain mass might be very highly motivated and dazzle the world with his/her output. Genes are related to overall capability. But genes are not destiny and outcome.

The racists seize upon trifles and trivialities. S. J. Gould in his paper -The Mismeasure of Man- deconstructed their nonsense thoroughly and scientifically. There is absolutely no scientific basis for asserting one sub population of the human races is somehow smarter or better than another just on the basis of genetic inheritance. Culture and values which are also transmissible in time over long periods has more to do with the comparative accomplishments of one sub population vs another. And within the sub populations it is individuals that drive the changes and improvement. Before the many can see, One must see. So when it comes to humans, if one wants to find the most capable groups look for the groups with the greatest number of geniuses and bright bulbs. Than ask why did Group A have more of these than Group B.

But mark this. Those -species- with large brains (on average compared with other species) turn out more individuals with high problem solving ability. The bench mark of a capable brain is the ability to solve the problems that reality presents to individuals and to overcome them sufficiently to live long enough to reproduce successfully. CroMagnons (that is us, by the way) had a brain that was more capable of processing and integrating data over extended time intervals compared to Neanderthals. It is ironic that Neanderthals had a slightly large brain volume to body volume ratio than Cromagnon (note that we can only compare volumes rather than mass because we have no live tissue from those times), but it was Cromagnon that made the cut. Neanderthal did not produce art, which is a strong indicator of ability to abstract and conceptualize. Cromagnon not only produced art but comparisons of the vocal capacity of the species indicate that Cromagnon had the gift of gab. This conclusion derives from skeletal remains of the voice box and its placement in the trechea. That means one Cromag could tell another where the best hunting or fishing was. That is why we, the latter day descendants of Cromagnon are still around to talk about why we survived. That last Neanderthal died something like 30,000 years ago. Modern humans (that is what the Cromagnon was) are and were better blabbermouths than was Neanderthal.

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A strong heritability component to intelligence -- which is now proven, established science --

Again: given the irrationality and corruption we see in the research behind so much of what's claimed to have been established in our time, we're going to need far, far more than a strong string of correlations to draw such a conclusion -- that's separate from how irrelevant such a conclusion would be in an Individualist society.

(To be clear: I have no problem with race and/or brain sizing being the main determiner of intelligence. And at least one highly regarded Objectivist intellectual has said that there's strong evidence for the claim that race plays correlates with intelligence. I just can't accept such an important conclusion without a thorough argument.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ruveyn,

I have to correct you when you wrote:

"The racists seize upon trifles and trivialities. S. J. Gould in his paper -The Mismeasure of Man- deconstructed their nonsense thoroughly and scientifically. There is absolutely no scientific basis for asserting one sub population of the human races is somehow smarter or better than another just on the basis of genetic inheritance."

Gould has been exposed as a fraud. The "racists" whom he sought to refute have been proven correct in their findings showing racial variations in cranial measurements. This, according to the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/science/14skull.html?_r=3&ref=todayspaper

Ample evidence points to genetic differences among human sub-populations that extend to the brain. It would be highly implausible in Darwinian theory if there weren't any such differences. They are as natural as differences in hair texture -- adaptations over periods of the races being cut off geographically from one another and inhabiting disparate environments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ample evidence points to genetic differences among human sub-populations that extend to the brain.

No one has disputed this claim. All I've asked for is a causal proof. Rephrasing your point doesn't get you around these very real obstacle.

It would be highly implausible in Darwinian theory if there weren't any such differences.

I don't doubt that their are differences, no one here has said that there aren't. What I doubt is that they're significant. What I know is that the arguments you and many others have offered aren't conclusive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ample evidence points to genetic differences among human sub-populations that extend to the brain. It would be highly implausible in Darwinian theory if there weren't any such differences. They are as natural as differences in hair texture -- adaptations over periods of the races being cut off geographically from one another and inhabiting disparate environments.

The difficult question is this: how much of the differences in intelligence in people are related to their genome and how much to their upbringing and culture. It is this latter factor that has the greatest influence on the choices people make in their lives. I am not sure how one would go about quantifying a response to this question.

There is no doubt in my mind that the ratio of brain mass to body mass is a major factor in the difference between intelligence manifested by different species of animals. Within species, the question is more subtle and difficult to quantify.

I have doubt that humans are far smarter than their cousins in the other primate phyla. I do not doubt that this difference is accounted for mostly by the size and complexity of their brains and nervous systems.

ruvey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have doubt that humans are far smarter than their cousins in the other primate phyla. I do not doubt that this difference is accounted for mostly by the size and complexity of their brains and nervous systems.

The complexity of their brain may well be determined by volitional choices during development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The complexity of their brain may well be determined by volitional choices during development.

Do you think a chimpanzee can choose to learn differential equations if he sets his mind to it?

ruveyn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The complexity of their brain may well be determined by volitional choices during development.

Do you think a chimpanzee can choose to learn differential equations if he sets his mind to it?

Yes, Ruveyn, I think that a chimp can chose to learn differential equations if he sets his mind to it. It's not like there are any other choices here . . .

I can't find the FORUM post that went into some detail about the hundreds of millions of synaptic connections that are either made or not made during one's developmental years, but the numbers were staggering. It is that sort of complexity, and whatever impact it may have over a lifetime dedicated to mastering subjects as complex as differential equations that I was referring to, as you and Brad write as if you think observed brain differences can only be attributed to genetics. Obviously genetics play a significant role in the size and shape of our brains, just as they do in almost everything else about us. But that's a long, long way from the claim that genetics are the determining factor of human intelligence, or that brain size is in direct proportion to intelligence. All this, of course, is separate from the fact that a person of average endowment can make the sort of lifelong choices that allow him to outperform someone with far more genetic potential, which is yet another point you and Brad don't seem to have time for.

So cite all the correlations and wikipedia articles you care to, ignore the current state of the sciences -- psychology in particular -- make all the reductio chimp points you have time for. I'll rejoin when you either cite research that takes these factors into consideration, or give philosophic grounds for your constant setting aside of the role volition plays in determining the form our brains take (let's be clear: a child's reactions to the sort of parental stimuli that are known to trigger incredible synaptic creation are volitional, in the sense that even during developmental years the child has to chose, to one degree or another, how to react to them. A child may not have a meaningful option on that front from Day One, but I bet the child's choices go a long way in determining what sort of brain he enters the next stage of life with.)

ASIDE: If I'm remembering correctly, and I'm in no position to re-listen to the relevant lecture right now, Dr Binswanger once mentioned that Miss Rand believed that the time and effort she put into writing Galt's Speech made her more intelligent. Not just more knowledgeable, mind you, but more intelligent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I read the OP I was a little shocked. I've read the entire thread now and thought about it over several days. I don't have some enlightened comment, but maybe a quick thought that occured to me based on Miss Rand's quote posted by Betsy - and, then a question or two.

I think the idea presented in the next paragraph was inferred by other posters, I'll try to make it explicit. First, assume the referenced studies on intelligence vs. brain size or race vs, I.Q. are valid. Certainly, some are and perhaps some are not, but that doesn't have an affect on the point I'd like to throw into the mix.

When we do these studies and if the sample size is appropriate, the results can be shown by the familiar bell-curve. The data has a mathematical mean, but the data spreads over a much wider range because we are dealing with a population with incredible individual variation in the genetic basis for the physical organs involved, and in the environmental effects on each tested individual. If you were then to super-impose the distribution curves of separately studied populations over each other, you would find a large area of overlap. That is, that the various correlations among brain size, I.Q., and race may be statistically significant, but that doesn't make them significant in the sense of an individual human's cognative ability. You could get similar results using brain size or I.Q. versus geographic location, altitude of the home habitat, rural vs. urban, differences in infant diet, etc. forever. My point is, that from a values perspective, what is the point of the original post (OP).

CAVEAT - My examples above are very simplistic - a real scientist would be using some type of "multivarient" regressive statistical technique to include the potential effects of variables not in the hypothesis. That is, that in trying to investigate the correlation of variables you may have interest in, you need to also measure and analyze as many other potentially relevant variables as well. But this is not a science forum so I'll stop.

I get the desire to put a stop to using words and, more critically, the concepts they represent, as tools of disintegration for some desire in politics or social engineering. Is that the motivation of the OP and all the subsequent responses? I'd like to know what motivated the original post. Is there some other epistemological or ethical principle involved here - something I have missed?

A Summary - I'm not a racist for recognizing differences in populations based on genetics, I'm a racist for giving it any significance in the areas of values, virtues, or ethics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites