From: Christopher Lowe [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2005 6:44 PM
Regarding Peter Limb's most recent comments on Andrew Fraser:
The global ultra-racist networks merge at various places with other
ultra-right politics. The former Conservative Party MP (Anglo-South
African) who was involved in the assassination of Chris Hani was part
of something called the World Anti-Communist League which had lots of
interesting members and ties in the U.S. and East Asia. Chip Berlet
documented a good deal of this as it stood in the late 1980s and early
1990s, with particular emphasis on U.S. dimensions. WACL was a
vehicle for U.S. support of the Nicaraguan Contras, Jonas Savimbi and
so on, and was a channel for ties between far right wing elements of
the U.S. security and security policy apparatus and the far right in
South Africa (among other places) that went beyond stated official
policy. Ideologically in the U.S., particularly in the old South but
also in considerable sections of the West and Midwest, anti-racialism
and support for racial equality were seen as tantamount to communism in
the Cold War, not to mention in the minds of high officials like J.
Edgar Hoover of the FBI, and still are so seen among the
Rushton and Jensen are well-known academic racialists.
The issues at stake in what Peter has said about Fraser make me unsure
about the point of arguing with him directly. What do you have in
mind, Peter? Trying to persuade him? Being in a position to say one
has communicated when arguing against him? Trying to elicit further
evidence of his specific views?
If people want to pursue ability to reply to him, or to reply to
colleagues and students who may be influenced by his circle racialist
mutual back-scratchers & book-blurbers, there was considerable
literature critical of a book called _The Bell Curve_ in the late 1990s
that purported to document "racial" differences in intelligence,
presented in a much more sophisticated way than is often the case.
Some of the studies it cited were by Rushton and Jensen.
Many of the problems are not about "psychology" per se but about
fundamental concepts or about statistical methods.
The most fundamental problem of course is the whole idea of "race" as a
biologized category. A good recent book by a geneticist on this
subject is Joseph L. Graves, Jr., _The Emperor's New Clothes:
Biological Theories of Race at the Millenium_ (Rutgers U.P., 2001).
One aspect that I found particularly interesting and helpful is his
discussion in different settings of the idea of gene "expression,"
which is roughly that just because an individual organism has a gene
"for" something is not the beginning and end of the story -- genes act
*biologically* in different ways influenced by life-history events and
processes, biological environments, physical behavior of the organism
that the body itself as an environment (e.g. diet, smoking) etc. etc.
From there out, a partial catalogue of problems, specifically as
related to intelligence, would include:
-- lack and impossibility of reaching a consensus, scientific or
otherwise, on what "racial" categories to use.
-- lack and impossibility of reaching a consensus on what critieria to
use for placing individuals in a given category
-- lack of ability to attribute or place individuals in racial
-- abuse of aggregate mean or median score data to make categorical
statements about "racial" categories, however defined and however
individuals are attributed to them
-- ignoring distributional data about scores showing that variation
within "racial" groups is *much* greater than variation between their
average scores as groups
-- ignoring questions about what such tests actually measure
-- ignoring social, cultural and life history factors that might render
the form of test, its content, and the motor activities required to
take it successfully biased, or produce differential anxiety effects
impinging on scores
-- ignoring the fact that for all racial groups, individual scores on
tests taken several times vary *widely* -- again often by amounts
considerably greater than average group differences
-- ignoring the fact that historically scores for all racial groups
have increased, and that scores for groups that historically have been
subjected to racial discrimination and persecution have increased much
faster than scores for "whites" -- (i.e. whatever is being measured can
be changed by changes in education)
The most fundamental point, however, is that these ideologues are
seeking to justify racially discriminatory policies, as Fraser's quotes
demonstrate. They have not sought nor found innocent or neutral
knowledge by innocent or neutral means.
Further, finding differences in aggregate average test scores has no
necessary policy implications in itself, regarding immigration, or
education, or even for assessing the value and legitimacy of
standardized testing vs. other means of evaluation or measurement of
various human capabilities. Thus the fact that Fraser uses a spurious
air of "science" produced by abuse of numbers of dubious reliability
and meaning to argue immediately for immigration restriction against
Africans tells us what the real game is.
I'd lay dollars to dust-kittens that Professor Fraser doesn't favor
restricting European immigration to Canada in favor of Asians, despite
test score differences in favor of the latter. And if, in a couple of
decades, such test scores have equalized even more, I am sure Dr.
Fraser and his successors will just switch to some other supposed
reason for their discriminatory preferences.
Portland, Oregon USA