Monday, November 06, 2006

Stepping on the Landmine

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist and lecturer at the famed London School of Economics, was trying to understand why African post-colonial nations have fared so poorly in comparison to post colonial nations elsewhere. Brushing away the standard explanations for Africa's failures (poverty, racism, imperialist capitalist hegemonic interference, etc.), Mr. Kanazawa examined the one factor in a nation's productivity which scholars are NEVER SUPPOSED TO ADMIT EXISTS: IQ. After looking at a variety of IQ estimates for various countries, he summed up his results in a paper...

which concludes that low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why

life expectancy is low and infant mortality high. His paper, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, compares IQ scores with indicators of ill health in 126 countries and claims that nations at the top of the ill health league also have the lowest intelligence ratings.

Naturally, Mr. Kanazawa was immediately assailed by the usual high command of the P.C. orthodoxy.

Paul Collins, a spokesman for War On Want, the international development charity, said the research 'runs the risk of resurrecting the racist stereotype that Africans are responsible for their own plight, and may reinforce prejudices that Africans are less intelligent'.

Collins added: 'The notion that people in poor countries have inferior intelligence has been disproved by much research in the past. This is another example, which other academics will shoot down.'

Notice that Mr. Collins deems the view that Africans are "responsible for their own plight" inherently racist. This is not surprising. Among the PC/Multiculturalist crowd all evil springs from capitalist Europeans. If African nations fail, and fail consistently, it must be because of racist, imperialist Europeans. The Africans themselves are responsible for nothing.

The London School of Economics, itself infested by multiculturalism, quickly sought to appease the rising PC howl.

Philippa Atkinson, who chairs the LSE student union's 85-strong Africa Forum and teaches in the school's Department of Government, said the paper 'reflects the now discredited theories of eugenics, which should have been left behind'.

'Eugenics was a very influential discourse for centuries,' she said. 'It's the discourse that colonialism and racism in America until the Sixties were based on, and was part of the basis of apartheid too. Nobody could prove that there are racial or national differences in IQ. It's very, very controversial to say that national IQ levels are low in Africa, and completely unproven. It's a surprise that the odd person would try to bring it back,' she said.

It's rare to see so many tired P.C. cliches trotted out in so few sentences. Ms. Atkinson might be surprised to learn how much research supports the idea of IQ differences between groups, and in particular, the generally lower level of African IQs, but it is unlikely that she'd ever be caught dead so much as looking at the relevant research. Mustn't taint oneself with "unacceptable" ideas. After all, in England, school children can be arrested for merely complaining about which study group they've been assigned (see posts below).

Still, for now, the London School is standing by Mr. Kanazawa, defending his right to free inquiry. How long the London School decides to champion such an outmoded, racist, imperialist concept, however, remains to be seen. Mr. Kanazawa has not yet repudiated his paper, though his career has almost certainly been destroyed by it.

Kanazawa declined to comment on either War on Want or Atkinson's allegations about reviving eugenics because, he said, other academics had come up with the national IQ scores that underpinned his analysis of 126 countries. In the paper he cites Ethiopia's national IQ of 63, the world's lowest, and the fact that men and women are only expected to live until their mid-40s as an example of his finding that intelligence is the main determinant of someone's health.

Having examined the effects of economic development and income inequality on health, he was 'surprised' to find that IQ had a much more important impact, he said. 'Poverty, lack of sanitation, clean water, education and healthcare do not increase health and longevity, and nor does economic development.'