Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Book and Islam

I just finished the Bell Curve. A social science classic from 1996 that changed the way we look at social problems and intelligence. It highlighted the role that IQ plays in crime, parenting problems, future economic success, and marriage success. For its controverial claims, notably that the Black-White IQ gap is genetic, or the determinism of an IQ score, the book received significant criticism.

In its defense, fifty-two professors, including researchers in the study of intelligence and related fields, signed a statement titled "Mainstream Science on Intelligence"[7] Here are some quotes from it

Intelligence, so defined, can be measured, and intelligence tests measure it well. They are among the most accurate (in technical terms, reliable and valid) of all psychological tests and assessments. They do not measure creativity, character, personality, or other important differences among individuals, nor are they intended to.

While there are different types of intelligence tests, they all measure the same intelligence. Some use words or numbers and require specific cultural knowledge (like vocabulary). Others do not, and instead use shapes or designs and require knowledge of only simple, universal concepts (many/few, open/closed, up/down).

Intelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born, English-speaking peoples in the U.S. Rather, IQ scores predict equally accurately for all such Americans, regardless of race and social class. Individuals who do not understand English well can be given either a nonverbal test or one in their native language.

Members of all racial-ethnic groups can be found at every IQ level. The BELL CURVES of different groups overlap considerably, but groups often differ in where their members tend to cluster along the IQ line. The BELL CURVES for some groups (Jews and East Asians) are centered somewhat higher than for whites in general. Other groups (blacks and Hispanics) are centered somewhat lower than non-Hispanic whites.

The BELL CURVE for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the BELL CURVE for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks. The evidence is less definitive for exactly where above IQ 100 the BELL CURVES for Jews and Asians are centered.

IQ is strongly related, probably more so than any other single measurable human trait, to many important educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes. Its relation to the welfare and performance of individuals is very strong in some arenas in life (education, military training), moderate but robust in others (social competence), and modest but consistent in others (law-abidingness). Whatever IQ tests measure, it is of great practical and social importance.

There is no persuasive evidence that the IQ BELL CURVES for different racial-ethnic groups are converging. Surveys in some years show that gaps in academic achievement have narrowed a bit for some races, ages, school subjects and skill levels, but this picture seems too mixed to reflect a general shift in IQ levels themselves.

What a bummer! What are the implications for educational standards in schools? Dysgenic fertility rates? The "hard work" ethic of American capitalism? The one man/one vote for democracy? Immigration?

As we learn more and more about how our genes determine who we are, it will be increasingly difficult to argue the environmental effects on group differences in behavior. At that point, I have no idea what will happen in our society. That's partly the reason why I am writing this blog, to create a discussion of these issues that will determine the future.

On a totally unrelated note, here is a quote from the NYT on a capture in Britain:

"LONDON, Jan. 31 — The British police conducted a series of raids on Wednesday, arresting nine suspects on terrorism charges in what appeared to be a shift in the tactics of terrorism in Britain. The suspects are accused of devising a plot that included plans to kidnap, torture and behead a British Muslim soldier and broadcast video images of his killing on the Internet."

That's pretty messed up.

"Such events have deepened Muslim anxieties.

“There is a fear about who is next,” said Mohammed Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, in a telephone interview. “People will need to know the facts, but there is a longstanding perception that this climate of terrorism is being maintained to further the political aims of the government.”

Indeed, Salma Yaqoob, a member of the Birmingham City Council representing the antiwar Respect Party, said: “There’s a shock and disbelief that these arrests are being made in such a high-profile manner. People are very concerned about the social backlash.”

Farooq Haroon, a Birmingham social worker, said that after the raids last year that ended with the suspects being freed without charge, “people are very cynical about these raids.”

The Ministry of Defense said there were only about 330 Muslims out of the 180,000 troops in Britain’s armed forces. Last July, one British Muslim soldier, Lance Cpl. Jabron Hashmi, was killed in Afghanistan."

Are you kidding me? Is the first reaction of the Muslim community to suspect the government and worry about the backlash? Is there no introspection (especially after 7/7) about:

Why the hell are our boys so messed up?

According to the CIA Factbook, Muslims make up 2.7% of UK's population. That means that out of an army of 180,000, they should number about 4,860 troops in the army. There are only 300 of them in the army. Is that not grounds for society's suspicion of Muslim loyalty?

What should have been the response of the Muslim community after 9/11 and 7/7 is "What can we do for our country to prove that we are loyal?"
Instead, it was
"How do we convince them that we should not get lumped in with the terrorists"

What a selfish religion.

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