The statement last week by Nobel Laureate Geneticist Dr. James Watson regarding Africa as a laggard has slightly re-opened the taboo subject of the link between race and intelligence.
Here's what The Times of London reported: "The scientist, who won the Nobel prize for his part in discovering the structure of DNA, was quoted in an interview in The Sunday Times saying he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really.”
When I saw this, my first reaction was: Does Watson have a history of racist thinking? Like another Nobel Laureate and semiconductor pioneer William Shockley? Or he just naively spoke his mind without realizing the consequences? Well, Dr. Watson is no stranger to controversy. He has previously argued that stupidity is a disease that should be cured, and that "it would be great" if women were genetically engineered to be pretty
Nonetheless, I decided to search for "testing" that Dr. Watson refers to. And here's what I found:
|Richard Lynn, "Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis" 2006 Table 16.2 (indigenous populations)||Estimated average IQ|
|Native Americans (north & south)||86|
|Southern Asian & Northern Africans||84|
|Bushmen (southern Africa)||54|
|Native Australians (aboriginals)||62|
Apparently, this is a compilation of data from "credible sources" and published in respected journals such as American Journal of Psychology. The neutrality and factual accuracy of these studies and data have been questioned by many researchers and scientists. The most common criticisms are that these studies and tests are developed in the European context and they measure mainly problem-solving capability and skills.
For those who are curious, Pakistanis are included along with Indians in Southern Asia with an average IQ of 84, about 16 points below Europeans and almost 21 points behind East Asians including Chinese, Japanese and Koreans.
On the question of nature versus nurture, here are some data on minorities tested in North America and Europe:
This data indicates that the context and the environment do have an impact on the IQ test results but they do not completely erase the difference. However, the debate continues with lots of questions as to the design, the content and the bias in IQ tests.
What do you think? Please comment.