Blacks Are Dumber Than Whites
And Watson Isn’t the Only One Who Says So
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson Posted: Oct 22, 2007
Editor's Note: Nobel laureate James Watson isn't the only one who says blacks are dumber than whites, a subject that has long come up in public debate and got those who proclaimed it into hot water, writes NAM associate editor Earl Ofari Hutchinson.
Who said this? "Three populations were studied, Africans, East Asians and Europeans. In each, a mostly different set of genes had been favored by natural selection. And genes that affect the brain have also been evolving, and they have also been evolving differently in the different populations."
No, it wasn’t the clueless and hapless Nobel Prize winning geneticist James Watson who said it. The quotes are from The New York Times, in a story a year before Watson said that he was “inherently gloomy” about black intelligence. Watson’s candor got him a swift boot from an appearance at London’s Museum of Science, blasted by a legion of British officials, ridiculed by academic groups, and made the butt of jokes about his intelligence and even his sanity. A chagrined Watson wilted under the intense public heat, back-pedaled fast and denied that he meant any offense to blacks, and said that he is not a racist.
Meanwhile the Times story passed way under the public radarscope. It quoted two leading researchers who are conducting an extensive study on racial groups as part of the ongoing human genome study of gene development. The researchers made it clear that their studies are still genetic works in progress, and no conclusions could be drawn from them. They did plainly hint, though, at a possible racial difference.
Even without the Times piece, Watson only said what many have said and still say about black intelligence, or lack thereof. A decade back, a task force of the American Psychological Association found big gaps between black and white IQ scores. It did not entirely chalk the gap up to test construction biases. The association was careful not to go the genetic route to explain the gaps, but others weren’t. There were 11 critical responses in the January 1997 American Psychologist, chiding the association for not delving deeper into partly genetic explanations for the gap.
The debate has long raged over whether IQ tests are a fail safe, full proof bell-weather of cognitive ability. High IQ scores are as much the result of preparation, coaching, income, education and even cheating. Yet, it’s a very short and sneaky step from the belief that high IQ tests and scores are a good gauge of intelligence to making the case that since blacks on average score lower than whites they are less intelligent than whites (and Asians).
An endless parade of scientists, researchers and top gun academicians have long mangled science to turn proving black stupidity into a growth industry. They deliberately distorted Charles Darwin’s race neutral biological theory of “natural selection” in human evolution to make the case that whites are the superior race and that blacks are intellectual cripples. Two centuries back, the sage of Monticello kicked things off in the great debate on race and intelligence. Thomas Jefferson authoritatively declared blacks “in reason much inferior to whites, in imagination dull, tasteless and amorphous.”
Throughout the 19th century and deep into the 20th century, scholarly journals, academic associations, societies and even the U.S. Census Bureau issued countless studies and position papers that purported to show that blacks were intellectually defective.
At the turn of the 19th century, the American Economic Association published a tract by a leading academician, “The Negro in Africa and America.” He cautioned that blacks in America were seriously handicapped by “the inherited conditions” they brought with them from Africa. The lineup of highbrow intellectual magazines that eagerly endorsed and approved the black intellectual lag notion read like a roll call of academia. They included Popular Science Monthly, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Medicine, the North American Review, and the American Journal of Psychology.
There’s still the lurking suspicion that low test scores, high dropout rates, bad behavior in the classroom by blacks, and even the allegation they deride learning as “acting white,” is due not to bad homes, bad friends and bad habits, but to bad genes. That idea has reared up time and again in public debate. The names of the learned men that have pushed this line – William Shockley, Arthur Jensen and Richard Herrenstein – readily come to mind. In his best seller, The Bell Curve, Charles Murray kicked up a storm a decade ago with gems like this: “A large majority of the next generation of blacks in the inner city are growing up without fathers and with limited cognitive ability.” Murray took much heat but didn’t back down from it. For his efforts, he was applauded by many for daring to buck political correctness and openly say what legions of others believed.
Watson rendered profuse mea culpas for his outburst, and promptly left Britain for the United States. He’ll probably take some heat here especially since word has it he repeats some of what got him in hot water in his new book, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science. But Watson in a private moment can rest snug in the knowledge that he isn’t the only one who says and thinks that blacks are dumber than whites.
New America Media Associate Editor Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation between African-Americans and Hispanics (Middle Passage Press).
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