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Author Topic: In defense of a great man
Ashitaka

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Icon 1 posted October 18, 2007 08:42      Profile for Ashitaka     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
/ me dawns fireproof clothing

Dr. James Watson is being claimed a racist for the folling comment he made last week.

quote:
"all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really."
Thier refers to africa's people

He said nothing about the reason the african people are unintelligent. Could it be simply that her believes that the educational system in africa is so lacking that these peopel are unable to reach thier potential. I think that is the problem, and that his analysis is in no way racist. Shame on those peopel that think his comment is racist. They are the ones that heard this and thought that the reason must be that africans are less intelligent because of genetics.

Think of it this way. If I claimed that an honor system for keeping convicted criminals in jail was foolish because those crimminals cannot be trusted, would i be a racist if the majority of those people were a minority. Would I be claiming that minorities cannot be trusted? no I would not. This is because I have evidence to back up that these people cannot be trusted.


Watson claims to have evidence that Africa has social economic problems because they are uneducated "unintelligent". Maybe you should question his evidence if you do not like what he says and not his charachter.

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"If they're not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?"

-Assif Mandvi

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 18, 2007 09:07      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You could be right, but if that's what he meant he should have chosen his words better. Either that or he should have been quoted in context. But that statement, at face value, implies that Africans are fundamentally just not as smart, and I really don't think that's the root of Africa's problems. Especially since statements like that lump all Africans into one pot, which flies in the face of both history and anthropology. Seriously. There is more human diversity in Africa than on any other continent.

I'm not a huge fan of Watson as a person anyways.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 18, 2007 23:28      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Leaving aside the question of whether Mr Watson is a bigoted scumbag...

It's a sad day for science when scientists are afraid to discuss unpopular interpretations of the available data.

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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Ashitaka

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Icon 1 posted October 19, 2007 00:46      Profile for Ashitaka     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
update

Don't take my word for what Watson meant, the apology and clarification in his words.

apology

--------------------
"If they're not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and violent extremists, then why should I take the time to distinguish between decent, fearful white people and racists?"

-Assif Mandvi

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted October 19, 2007 18:05      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well it's a funny apology. He seems to be trying to deny he said anything at all, and makes no attempt to clarify his actual views. This is not an area that a person of his eminence and authority should enter without ensuring that he expresses himself very accurately and carefully indeed, as there are still far too many deeply unpleasant people very ready to twist what he says for deplorable political aims.

There is also an unresolved problem at the heart of this debate. Is there a meaningful way that we can measure intelligence? I.Q. tests only measure a particular type of mental skill, and on the whole I prefer to talk about a person's talents or potential rather than their intelligence, and those talents can take many forms, even before we consider the effects education and training can have.

In short he may well be a great man, but he should have known that he was entering very murky waters here, with little chance of spreading light, and a much greater likelihood of helping others foment race hatred. Old twit.

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"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2007 00:07      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
Leaving aside the question of whether Mr Watson is a bigoted scumbag...

It's a sad day for science when scientists are afraid to discuss unpopular interpretations of the available data.

An unpopular interpretation is one thing. A flat out bad interpretation is something else. So much of what we term intelligence depends on the methods of measuring and then you have the whole nature vs. nurture debate thrown in. Defining intelligence is kind of like defining obscenity: you know it when you see it. An, unfortunately, that's a shitty definition. Especially if you're trying to do science with it.

It was a big mistake for Watson to throw such careless words around on such a volatile topic. A person in his position should know better.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2007 01:59      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
So much of what we term intelligence depends on the methods of measuring and then you have the whole nature vs. nurture debate thrown in. Defining intelligence is kind of like defining obscenity: you know it when you see it. An, unfortunately, that's a shitty definition. Especially if you're trying to do science with it.

I agree that discussing small differences in something as difficult to quantify as 'intelligence' seems fairly pointless, and it may be that Mr Watson is just an old-school bigot peddling the usual pseudo-scientific claptrap, but...

If scientists avoided discussing topics because they're politically sensitive, or the evidence is vague and incomplete, Charles Darwin would have spent his life as a country parson.

--------------------
If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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ASM65816
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Icon 4 posted October 20, 2007 19:44      Profile for ASM65816   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
 -
quote:
Intelligence is a property of mind that encompasses related abilities such as the capacities to reason, to plan, to solve problems, to think abstractly, to comprehend ideas, to use language, and to learn.
It's really not about intelligence. The human species hasn't changed much in a couple of thousand years -- the genetic expression which produced Einstein and Plato and Confucius has all been the same.

The medieval physician wasn't "stupid;" the problem was he accepted the beliefs of others without adequate scrutiny.

To use the computer analogy GIGO: the input data (medieval beliefs) was bad, so the output (leeches and bleeding as medicine) was bad.

EDIT: Watson's problem is not a matter of the observed data ....
quote:
"all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours -- whereas all the testing says not really."
His problem is correlation -- the correct factor that results in testing "not saying the same."

What if the "real" factor is willingness to change (or accept change)? Although Buddhism hasn't "changed" much in a thousand years, the Buddhists are willing to accept change (IMHO).
quote:
A Testing Example:

Instructor: We have a change in our text books today. Ferdinand Magellan has just sailed around the world. The correct answer on the new tests is "The world is round."

Student: The world is flat.

Instructor: No, the world is round.

Student: No, the world is flat.



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Once a proud programmer of Apple II's, he now spends his days and nights in cheap dives fraternizing with exotic dancers....

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 20, 2007 23:45      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think the critical factors in Africa are access to basics like clean water, adequate nutrition, mosquito nets, and education. In a few cases, accepting change also factors in. That said, the issues in Africa are about as diverse as the humans living there, so making generalizations is perilous to say the least.

Cultural differences also play a role in intelligence testing. If you show a Masai tribesman out on the Serengeti a picture of a boat and ask him what it's for, he's not going to be able to tell you. This is not an indicator of stupidity. It's an indicator that people don't go boating on the Serengeti.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2007 06:59      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
If scientists avoided discussing topics because they're politically sensitive, or the evidence is vague and incomplete, Charles Darwin would have spent his life as a country parson.

Your comparison is untrue. All theories are of course speculative, but Darwin agonised with his conscience for many years before publishing "The Origin of the Species", not because the evidence was "vague and incomplete", but rather because his theory was backed up by a great mass of compelling scientific observation. I am no scientist, but in my experience those scientists that make definite statements on the basis of vague and incomplete evidence tend to attract professional scorn. I cannot say whether this applies to Dr Watson, as it is quite hard to determine what exactly his views are, though that of course is significant in itself.

--------------------
"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted October 21, 2007 10:33      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Watson has been suspended from his position at Cold Spring Harbor, for what that's worth.

As far as unpopular interpretations of data go, well, scientists who present such interpretations have ALWAYS landed in hot water. This is why you don't do it unless you can back yourself up. Solidly.

--------------------
And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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