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Robert Wald Sussman's new book

#1
This new book from Harvard University Press has been covered by a lot of news sources over the past month. As far as I can tell, all of the widely-read sources that have covered it have only positive things to say about it.

It's been summarized at Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/there-no-such-thing-race-283123
And Salon.com: http://tinyurl.com/q672ct8

It's also been positively reviewed in Publishers Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-674-41731-1
And in Kirkus reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-revie...h-of-race/

I found the end of the Kirkus Reviews article particularly telling:

Quote:Some readers may want to skim the book’s last third: a dense review of fringe organizations that trumpet scientific racism and occasionally emerge from obscurity (remember The Bell Curve, which was a best-seller in 1994).

Despite irritating scholarly touches such as footnotes mixed in with text, Sussman delivers a lucidly written, eye-opening account of a nasty sociological battle that the good guys have been winning for a century without eliminating a very persistent enemy.

This is how people like us are perceived by most academics and by most non-academics. In the recent past, this has guaranteed that anyone who expresses these views in public will experience what James Watson did, and that anyone who expresses them in private and has their correspondence leaked will experience what Stephanie Grace did. Davide Piffer's research is about a year old now, but it does not appear to have changed anything in this respect.

I've never been able to tell how much this matters to the people here. News sources like Salon.com and Newsweek have far more impact on public opinion than ODP and OBG do; has anyone here ever attempted to write an article for either or them?
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#2
The factually challenged excerpt from Sussman's book published in Salon was analyzed by Jared Taylor here. Also, the Newsweek piece seriously distorts facts from the first sentence on (see here for an overview of the weird political machinations behind the various UNESCO race statements). Next to Sussman, even S.J. Gould looks like a model of scholarly integrity. It's certainly a sign of the times that not only would Harvard University Press publish shoddy trash like this, but that they will not be called to account for it by anyone who matters.

I don't see HBD research having an effect on public opinion or policy in the foreseeable future. My goal in studying this stuff is to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity and convince those few people that can be swayed by rational argumentation. And it's fun to be right when so many are wrong.
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#3
(2014-Nov-09, 20:47:39)Tetrapteryx Wrote: I've never been able to tell how much this matters to the people here. News sources like Salon.com and Newsweek have far more impact on public opinion than ODP and OBG do; has anyone here ever attempted to write an article for either or them?


The other side has no shortage of very articulate and dedicated, if not intellectually honest, advocates. As such, they are, with polemics, word games, and motivated research, able to marginalize HBD. As a result, few then conduct HBD related research or write apologies and so the research program appears sterile. The result is a catch-22 for HBD. Because of the hostile environment, no one is willing to do the research or defend the positions in absence of strong evidence in defense -- because none are doing the research, the positions can't be well supported, and they remain somewhat "speculative". My brother, a neuroscience researcher, for example, won't even discuss this stuff via email lest there is an information leak and, as a result of ensuing controversy, he loses his NIH grants. As I have argued before, given the facts on the ground, our best bet is to try to establish a prominent HBD position such as the IQ hereditarian hypothesis. Our goal should be to make the research area more safe by helping to establish the position's veracity. This is what had to be done with research on heritability and intelligence within populations and between social classes. Now, this can be done through writing philosophical monographs or conducting research. Publishing such works on blogs or marginal journals such ODP or Mankind Quarterly has, of course, little impact. But little impact is better than none. You have argued that we should try to shoot for more influential outlets. I agree; I simply don't have the time or energy or aptitude for this. Of course, I have asked dozens of people if they could help; all -- outside of those here -- have refused. So, there we are. What do you propose?
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#4
Before the public can be open to new ideas such as Piffer's, I think they first need to be brought up to speed on the things that have been well-established in differential psychology for a long time. For example, I pointed out here that within the past six months, the journal Nature has published an article assuming that group differences in GRE scores are entirely the result of test bias. In theory, I think it should be possible to educate the public about these sorts of ideas without endangering one's career.

It wouldn't require citing any research by controversial people such as Jensen--these ideas are adequately explained in sources like Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, Earl Hunt's textbook, or the Genes, Evolution and Intelligence paper by Thomas Bouchard. If one makes it absolutely clear that one is only communicating the ideas that are presented in well-respected and uncontroversial sources about psychometrics and behavioral genetics, I think it will be much harder for the public to have a "shoot the messenger" mentality.

When and if I become better-known as a writer, I'm hoping to make an attempt at this myself. But I think some of the people at this forum already have the potential to make a difference in this area, and it's always seemed unfortunate to me that so few of them been interested in making an attempt at that.
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#5
I've never heard of that book.

There was recently someone who tried to write for Salon about race and intelligence. What was his name? Maybe it was some other progressive outlet. I generally don't read this stuff. It would be odd for me to try to write this up for them. I wrote a piece in Danish about it and how it relates to the problems we have with immigrants now. I submitted it to some mainstream newspapers which declined to print it (no reason given). I eventually published it in an unknown online-only newspaper. It's here if anyone can read Danish: http://www.folkets.dk/node/245 Briefly, the article is about a recent call by three prominent researchers in Denmark including the former royal statistician, that the Government should set up a committee gather everything that's known on Danish immigration and do a report on it. I then draw parallels to the 1960s US, where the Government did something similar (Coleman report, 1966). Then it briefly mentions the history of Jensen's 1969 article, The Bell Curve. The title itself is paraphrased from Jensen 1969 ("Why has there been such uniform fa ilure of compensatory programs wherever they have been tried? W hat has gone wrong? In other ields, when bridges do not stand, when aircraft do not fly, when machines do not work, when treatments do not cure, despite all conscientious efforts on the part o f many persons to make them do so, one begins to question the basic assumptions, principles, theories, and hypotheses that guide one’s efforts. Is it time to follow suit in education?").

But then, they let stuff like this on: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/06/leading_...in_canada/

I am content with simply exploring the topic along with others, even if it does not gain me any recognition. After all, I'm mostly publishing in an unknown specialist journal. I think we are making good scientific progress here, even tho we are a small minority of researchers. The kind of psychologically informed sociology that me and Chuck have been doing does not require funding, only access to journals and time. Piffer relies on open datasets gathered by others (i.e. Rietveld's results, 1000 Genomes and other databases of human population gene frequencies). He can publish a new study whenever the next batch of 'IQ' SNPs come out.

As for a prominent HBD position, I think we have rather firmly established the spatial transferability hypothesis already (variables in Netherlands (crime), Denmark (lots), Norway (quite a few), Finland (crime)). With Chuck's admixture mapping review in the works (I'm helping writing it up), the admixture predictions from HBD theory will also be rather firmly established. When the next large batch of 'IQ' genes comes out, Piffer will without a doubt do a new study. The question is then what the results will be. If they fit with the previous ones, and the number is high (say, confirms the known 8 SNPs and reports another 20), that line of research will be strong as well. If he submitted that to Intelligence and managed to get it published, it may create a furor.
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#6
The sort of article I'm envisioning wouldn't be specifically about race and intelligence. It would be about all of the ideas that are currently widely-accepted in intelligence research but that the public seems not to understand, along the lines what Gottfredson did in Mainsteam Science on Intelligence. With respect to race differences, her article didn't directly endorse the hereditarian hypothesis, it only said that most intelligence researchers regard it as a possibility. If more people could write articles like that, there would be fewer books like Sussman's.

Here's something that might help you understand why I think people shouldn't be content to have their research published in places that most people won't take it seriously. As I've mentioned before, I'm fairly familiar with the creation/evolution controversy, and with the professional journals where creationists publish their ideas. The two most important of these are Journal of Creation and Creation Research Society Quarterly, and there also are several dozen papers published every few years at the International Conference on Creationism. Within the circle of people who take these ideas seriously, their papers can have a large impact on how this topic is understood. A good example is this paper, presenting a hypothesis about how plate tectonics could be explained by Noah's Flood. This paper has 93 citations on Google Scholar, mostly from other creationists.

To the rest of the world, when research published in places like ODP and Mankind Quarterly and is not cited anywhere else, it does not look any different from these creationist papers. I don't think we should be content to present our ideas in a manner that appears no better-established as science than creationism is. I know you regard your papers to be making important scientific contributions, but they say the same thing about theirs, and most people can't tell the difference.
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#7
I'm not so pessimistic. Twenty-five years ago, academics had only a few channels for exchanging ideas with each other, essentially the books and bound journals at their university libraries. There were also conferences of various sorts (if your university department would help cover the costs of going to them). That kind of academic environment was easy to control and, unfortunately, it had become highly controlled by the late 1980s. I saw this up close. Even top-ranking academics were being told what they could write about and what they couldn't. We complain a lot about "political correctness" but what existed back then was a lot worse, because there were so few alternatives.

Today, the marketplace of ideas is much more democratic. If you have something worth saying, you can broadcast it to people all over the world via the Internet. They're just a mouse click away. And you'd be surprised at the kind of people who read stuff about HBD.

And it's going to get better. Your university won't let you do certain kinds of research? Fine. Do it in China. Or in many other countries with a friendlier academic environment. You can't get money for your research? Fine. Try mining one of many online databases. Doing research has never been so easy ... and so hard to control.

And if people start hassling you about the nature of your research, stand your ground. Don't give in. Life will be tough for you, but after awhile they'll give up and drift away. If, however, you try to appease them, you'll be exchanging short-term pain for long-term pain. You'll be seen as a soft target, and they'll come back again and again.

Everything that's worthwhile has a cost. This is as true in academia as anywhere else. If you avoid anything controversial, you'll have an easier life as an academic, but you won't discover anything spectacular either. Controversy exists for a good reason. If you avoid it, you'll end up avoiding the most fascinating aspects of life.
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#8
(2014-Nov-10, 02:00:47)Peter Frost Wrote: Today, the marketplace of ideas is much more democratic. If you have something worth saying, you can broadcast it to people all over the world via the Internet. They're just a mouse click away. And you'd be surprised at the kind of people who read stuff about HBD.

And it's going to get better. Your university won't let you do certain kinds of research? Fine. Do it in China. Or in many other countries with a friendlier academic environment. You can't get money for your research? Fine. Try mining one of many online databases. Doing research has never been so easy ... and so hard to control.


If what you're suggesting were going to happen, shouldn't it have begun happening already? The internet has existed for about 20 years. But if anything, society and academia have grown more hostile to these ideas during that time.

Even if doing this research and putting it online is easier now than it's been in the past, I think it's become steadily more challenging to make it stand out among the dozens of actual fringe ideas that are presented prominently on the internet. I don't think most people read all the ideas that are presented in specialist journals and in blogs, and carefully evaluate which of them do or don't hold up to scrutiny. Most people base their understanding of the world on what's presented in university courses, high-impact journals, and books from major academic publishers.
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#9
You make a compelling analogy with creationism journals. I didn't know they existed, mainly because I stopped following this issue years ago, and there are no prominent creationists in Denmark outside isolated religious groups (some of our own Christians [e.g. Jehovah's Witnesses] and the newly arrived Muslims).

While not optimal, if OP journals continues to be an isolated community, that will be okay. It won't help against the problems with mainstream understanding of the field as you mention. But remember that the Intelligence and PAID journal is widely cited (high impact factors), published by a mainstream, legacy publisher (Elsevier) and yet mainstream opinion on differential psychology and behavior genetics is not even close to expert opinion.

Clearly, it is not enough just to publish in well-cited academic journals. One will need to publish positive pieces in non-academic outlets to change the opinions of, well, non-academic people. In just a few years, I think we have seen a lot of positive pieces on DP/BG in mainstream outlets. Some examples that come to mind:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8970...the-genes/
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/edu...ching.html
(same story, two different newspapers)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-cu...76910.html
http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/09/r...t-nothing/
(Rietveld et al, confused/mixed discussion)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/scien...genes.html
(another study)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/a...erers.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22...93846.html
http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/11/15/rese...be-dumber/
(Woodley et al, slowing of reaction time)

and so on.

Would you not say these are at least okay pieces on recent findings?

---

As for OP journals being cited elsewhere, I think it needs to be given more time. I think so far no papers from any OP journal has been cited elsewhere, but I may be wrong. There are only a small number of papers out so far (21 by my count, stats here). Many papers do not get cited, and when they do it can take years before the first cite appears.

However, given that peer-review times are much faster here, this means that within journal citations come quickly. If one takes a look at my Scholar profile, one will see this. 14 citations of which 13 are myself+co-authors I think. Besides a high publication rate, this extremely high 'masturbation index' (term suggested by Nijenhuis) is probably due to the time lag before citations arrive. Remember that peer-review in Intell and PAID takes on average ~200 days. And before that, authors have to prepare the manuscript first too, which takes a lot of time for most researchers.

So I think that I will continue to publish exclusively here, advertise my research on Twitter by posting figures from papers (+ links), ResearchGate, Reddit, and so on. This should generate some interest among researchers and the merely curious.

---

What are the causes of the public and non-specialist scientists' lack of understanding of DP&BG? First, the general findings of the field do not fit with the current zeitgeist of egalitarianism. They cannot be made to fit. Second, academia and journalists are generally learning towards egalitarianism more than the general public. In my review of Danish studies of journalists' voting patterns, I found that 70-90% of them voted left of center. It is not surprising that this unrepresentativeness will tend to bias news stories towards their preferred opinions. Most people still get their news from major news sites, altho the internet is changing this. It will take many years more.

In general, I agree with Peter's sentiments above.
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#10
(2014-Nov-10, 03:38:14)Emil Wrote: Would you not say these are at least okay pieces on recent findings?


This one, not so much. The others are okay.

None of these articles discuss anything to do with race, though. I've said before that I think research on the genetics of intelligence has enough support from relatively non-controversial people such as Bouchard, Plomin and Deary that blank-slatism will probably decline over the next decade or so. But everything to do with race differences has gone in the opposite direction, where ideas that were well-established in the 1980s or 1990s have since been rejected, even though there's no new data about them.

When I said the sort of article I had in mind shouldn't be specifically about race and intelligence, I didn't mean it should exclude that topic. Again, use Mainstream Science on Intelligence as a model, which was mostly about the importance and heritability of IQ in general, but also covered some ideas about race differences that were relatively uncontroversial in psychometrics. The first things that the public needs to understand are that IQ tests predict academic achievement and job performance about the same regardless of race, that the gaps tend to be largest on the test questions where cultural influences are smallest, that the gaps don't disappear when SES and level of education are held equal, and that there is no biological reason why it's impossible for the alleles whose distribution varies between populations to include those that affect IQ. It should be possible to convey these basic ideas without risking one's career, especially if it's an article about intelligence in general that isn't focused exclusively on race differences. If this first step isn't taken, research like yours will continue to become more and more marginalized.

I'm not sure if it'll be possible for me to convince you that it's worth making an effort to prevent this, but I hope some of the other people reading this thread will consider whether what I'm suggesting is worthwhile.
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