Featured Post

The Brian Ferguson Interview

I talked with Rutgers University professor of anthropology R. Brian Ferguson about Steven Pinker, Napoleon Chagnon, Marvin Harris, anthropo...

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Amy Harmon on race & science

Per her NYTimes bio:
Amy Harmon is a national correspondent for The New York Times, covering the intersection of science and society. 
She has won two Pulitzer Prizes, for her series The DNA Age, and as part of a team for the series “How Race Is Lived in America.”
With this background, Harmon is an excellent counter to the beliefs of "race science" proponents. She reached out to me on Twitter about my commentary on the subject, and she is at the top of my list of people to interview for the podcast, once I get that together.

Two of her most recent NYTimes pieces:
In the latter she writes:
Some people claim that there are not many black research mathematicians because African-Americans are not as intelligent as other races. These people, whom I have reported on for other stories in recent months, almost invariably use mathematical accomplishment as their yardstick for intelligence. They note that no individuals of African descent have won the Fields Medal, math’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. They lack any genetic evidence to explain the gap in average I.Q. scores between white and black Americans that they cite as the basis of their belief, or reason to think that a genetic trait would be impervious to social or educational intervention, or that high I.Q. is key to math ability, which Timothy Gowers, a 1998 Fields medalist, has attributed largely to “the capacity to become obsessed with a math problem.”
And of course "some people" are the proponents of race science. And using the Fields Medal as a signifier of racial intelligence is a problem for race science proponents since they generally tend to believe - as Linda Gottfredson a leading proponent of racial intelligence does - that East Asians are genetically more intelligent than whites (not counting Ashzkenazi Jews.) Here is Gottfredson teaming up with Canadian white supremacist Stefan Molyneux to rank "races" by intelligence.

Steven Pinker is a supporter of Linda Gottfredson.




But the Fields Medal in its history only has six recipients of East Asian ethnicities, based on names, but many more of European ancestry, even by only counting names that are unlikely to indicate Ashkenazi ancestry.

So if the Fields Medal awardees are an indicator of ethnic intelligence and East Asians are more intelligent than those of European ancestry, why wouldn't the East Asians be better represented?

But there's no real science in "race science" so it shouldn't be surprising when their specious claims turn out to be very poorly supported.