Science American Intelligence
posted by December 10 at 11:08 AMon
I finally got around to the I.Q. debate ignited by William Saletan’s three-part article in Slate, “Created Equal.” Here is the skinny: With almost no effort, Saletan organizes human intelligence into this racial order: Asians are very smart; Europeans are smart; Africans are not so smart. His confidence in this order, in the research that confirms it, is itself impressive. He is confident that the matter of the human mind, its development, and constantly changing relationship with this or that environment is crystal clear to science. The mind is no longer a mystery but something whose workings are apparent to those who have the nerve to break out of the limits of culture and see it with no medium, see it immediately, see it as it is. The workings of the Asian mind is better and bigger than the workings of a European one, and the workings of A European are better and bigger than the workings of an African one: that is the final reality. And it is a reality that demands a new morality, one that goes beyond egalitarianism.
Actually, I have no problem with any scientific conclusion that proves once and for all that whites are smarter than blacks—the core and historical issue of this I.Q. debate (Asians have been dragged into it for no other reason than to neutralize the most powerful line of criticism—that it is cultural and not scientific—against this form of thinking).One can only laugh at those (usually conservatives) who support this theory, this belief that whites are smarter than blacks. Why? Because intelligence (real intelligence) is not prized in this society and, particularly, by those on the Christian right. In fact, intellectuals are mocked, treated like aliens, regarded with suspicion. Watch any major political debate: Politicians bend over backwards to look stupid. They know the American game: If you are intelligent, express intelligence, you will have little or no access to real political power. So what does it matter that blacks have less intelligence when the society they live in doesn’t give shit about it? When most of its cultural (literary, cinematic, musical) products are simple and intellectually weak? There is even a powerful, cultural war against scientific intelligence in this society. So, the whole effort to prove which race is smart and which is dumb is laughable in the American context.
Indeed, to be the ideal consumer, the ideal subject of capitalist exploitation and consumption, intelligence is the very last thing you need. Desire, envy, an insatiable appetite—these are the prime states for life in a consumerist society.