Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Race (great book, google it) highlights an important distinction between two independent questions. First, does intelligence vary by race? Second, if it does, so what?
The distinction between these two questions is supremely important. The first question can be tackled by scientific inquiry (let’s call it the scientific question), while the second question lends itself to ideological disputation (let’s call it the ideological question). The reason why the scientific question is often viewed as a frightening question to pose is because the ideological question follows close upon its heels. Science can identify the relevant and correct facts, and that’s great, because it’s always good to have all the facts or at least as many facts as possible. But then we have to think immediately about the implications of those facts, and that puts us on scary and contentious ground where emotions intrude, people get angry, and before long the mud-slinging begins.
It is not always possible to delink scientific questions from the resulting ideological implications. Especially when it is recalled that many scientists in Olden Days had dubious ethics and did not permit themselves to be unduly troubled by moral concerns. They would throw up all sorts of alarming facts - here's how to split the atom! - and then leave us to quarrel and scrap and in some cases annihilate each other over the resulting implications. They can tell us The Science, but not what to do about it.
Plus, some scientists are suspected of being plain evil, meaning that there’s no telling what they’ll do with the knowledge they uncover if they're left free to do their experiments. Certainly many of the scientists who find racial questions interesting are motivated by ideological positions that are, at best, unsavoury and at worst very disturbing. You would be right to be suspicious of the true motives of those who find this an interesting area of scientific inquiry. What - instead of joining efforts to find a cure for cancer they are investigating the link between race and intelligence? Hmmm.
Yet, sometimes science has a role to play in advancing knowledge, and science proceeds by seeking answers to questions that might cross our minds when we observe the world around us. We want to know more about the phenomena we observe, so we can understand the world better.
You might think it is better not to know some things because, what will be done with that knowledge? But since we live in an age when we’ve all agreed to follow The Science no matter where it might lead, we should be free to investigate any and all scientific questions that cross our minds, without fear or favour.
Thomas Sowell observes that we don’t really know the answers to many aspects of race and intelligence, because there are so many variables that are difficult to isolate. We know that ‘intelligence’ itself is not easy to isolate from environmental factors, hence the long running nature-nurture debates. So it would not be easy accurately to measure innate intellect (though that is not to say that it would be impossible).
Sowell shows that the intellectuals who dominate public life may pretend to be debating The Science but really they are debating their own ideological visions, careering from an age when The Science postulated that certain races were intellectually inferior (favouring eugenics) to an age when The Science now postulates that all races are exactly intellectually equal (favouring socio-economic redistribution to correct statistical wealth disparities between races).
Both of these positions reflect the contemporaneous culturally dominant vision of how to make the world a better place. The dominant vision in the age of eugenics was that only tall blonde 'clean-blooded' and 'strong-limbed' Nordic specimens of humanity should be allowed to propagate. This was because The Science had proved them to be racially superior.
How The Science has changed since then! Intellectuals have now found their salvation and moral awakening. The dominant vision in today’s woke age is that all races should own and control equal amounts of wealth and power, distributed pro rata, so that it’s fair and just…with maybe a slight adjustment for some people to be made slightly more equal than others to compensate for historical grievances.
If all races are equally intelligent, as now proved beyond doubt by The Science, then the ideological implications become clear: all races should display equal amassing of material goods and equal control of the trappings of political and economic power. It follows, further, that the role of Government is to serve as the Great Liquidator, to call in all the world’s assets and redistribute everything pari passu between all the races. We probably need some form of world government to achieve that. Otherwise some selfish people might hide away in tax havens and thwart the quest for equality.
Why stop at equalising outcomes by reference to race? The same approach would, of course, eventually be rolled out to ensure equalisation between all the other protected characteristics that have been identified by The Science as markers of how equal we all are. Equal race, equal sex, equal religion, equal pay! Equal breadth, height, depth – every aspect of human life must be equalised, so that it’s fair.
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