Andrey (azangru) wrote,

There’s a really, really insightful conversation between Sam Harris and Charles Murray.

I didn’t know about Murray, who co-authored a blasphemous book The Bell Curve, published in the 90s, on the predictive value of IQ tests on individual’s outcomes in life, and on the differences in mean IQ scores between different ethnic/racial groups.

This is a subject that can’t be discussed any more in any way other than dismissing the very idea and condemning its proponents. Poor Jim Watson has been anathematized by various scientific circles for siding with this view. Recently, a research institute of bioinformatics notified its staff that it was renaming James Watson auditorium, because he had "made very public* statements about intelligence and race, which are both deeply offensive and have no scientific basis". I have assumed that there really was no scientific basis for Watson’s statements, and that IQ studies that he referred to were very flawed. But to listen to Murray, it’s the other way around; and, according to him, it’s scientifically indefensible to claim the opposite.

A quote from Murray (at about 47 min):

At this point... it’s almost as if we are in the opposite position of conventional wisdom versus elite wisdom that we were, say, when Columbus was gonna sail to America. When Columbus was gonna sail to America, it is true that an awful lot of the ordinary people still thought that the Earth was flat, but among the elites, it was understood that the Earth is round. Well, now, it is ordinary people are perfectly comfortable with the idea that some people are smarter than others; they are perfectly comfortable that that what we call smart gets you kinds of jobs that you can’t get otherwise, all that kind of stuff — it’s the elites who are under the impression that, oh, IQ tests only measure what IQ tests measure, and nobody really is able to define intelligence, and this, and that, there is cultural bias, on, and on, and on. And all of these things are the equivalent of saying that the Earth is flat. These are not opinions that you can hold in contest with the scientific literature any more than you can be an Aristotelian physicist in contradistinction to a Newtonian physicist. This stuff is not subject to debate anymore.

It’s interesting how both sides try to enlist science on their side, say that the question has been resolved once and for all, and accuse the other side of being unscientific.

*) Were they really very public? I thought, after watching the PBS documentary, that it was a journalist (his biographer?) who made public his personal conversations with her.

  • (no subject)

    Tweeted and retweeted by developers. Dunno. Been working for me. Can't speak to excellence, but certainly lots of stimulating humiliation:

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    Don't know if this is real or not, but if it is, it's really strange that Canadian bureaucrats should be specifically instructed not to use the…

  • (no subject)

    This was a good talk. Interesting to see that SvelteKit is taking the same direction as, by using html forms to submit data without the…

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