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Racism or Correlations of Race with IQ / Physical Attributes

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I believe that the proper definition of racism is "the belief that one race is inherently and genetically superior to another." If this definition is correct, shouldn't racism be defined as a scientific position rather than an immoral and irrational prejudice?

By this definition, I am racist against white people (despite the fact that I am one), because I believe blacks be more athletic. There is plenty of evidence that this is the case. I don't know of any evidence that suggests that whites are inherently more intelligent than blacks but, if such evidence were made available, why would it be considered immoral to hold such a belief? This is somewhat analogous to the president of Harvard suggesting that men are better at math and science than women. Studies suggest that it is true, but there was outrage over his statements. This outrage, however, would be nothing compared to what would happen if he claimed that whites were smarter than blacks.

Of course, such things are always spoken of in generalities but, given that such statements are provably true in general would you be willing to identify yourself as a racist?

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... given that such statements are provably true in general would you be willing to identify yourself as a racist?
Not me, because I use the concept racism differently. You propose the following concept of racism...
"the belief that one race is inherently and genetically superior to another."
The way I use the term, I'd say racism is "the irrational belief that race is important in situations where it is not."

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I understand the argument there, but I don't think that is the proper definition of racism.
Since I share SN's definition of racism, I'd like to see your argument that you have the correct definition of the word. This is just a general methodological issue -- how do you go about deciding that the "proper definition" of a word is?

[an afterthought: you should also consider the basis of your belief that blacks are more athletic: this isn't exactly a racial truth. Whether or not it might describe a characteristic of the American descendants of slaves, there are know reasons why that might be true that have more to do with harvesting the strongest people to be laborers. If this were a racial characteristic, and not a consequence of conscious selection, the figures would hold up for American and African blacks alike, and I doubt that that is the case].

Edited by DavidOdden

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Well, the definition I use is the one in the dictionary, but I confess that that doesn't make it the right one. However, in any sociology class, I think that's the definition they'll teach.

I see your point about blacks, although I think that blacks from Africa are probably still stronger and more athletic than whites, given proper nutrition of course. I admit that I don't have any hard data on this, but I think it can be inferred from evolution, in that Africa is a physically harsher region of the world than anything whites have had to deal with. Also, I'm pretty sure the reason the reason the Europeans began the African slave trade was that the Africans were generally strong.

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Europeans enslaved each other long before they enslaved Africans. I think Europeans enslaved Africans for labor in the Americas because Africans would not succumb to European diseases, whereas the native people (whom they enslaved originally) were far more susceptible and died quite quickly.

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I see your point about blacks, although I think that blacks from Africa are probably still stronger and more athletic than whites, given proper nutrition of course. I admit that I don't have any hard data on this, but I think it can be inferred from evolution, in that Africa is a physically harsher region of the world than anything whites have had to deal with. Also, I'm pretty sure the reason the reason the Europeans began the African slave trade was that the Africans were generally strong.

I disagree that that can be inferred from evolution. "Black" refers primarily to people of subsaharan african descent. They populated mainly tropical areas which are ideal human habitats. Especially in prehistoric times(where most of evolution has taken place) when hunting and gathering was the primary means of existence. Living in the frozen rocks in Norway is a great deal harsher. Short growing seasons, ice,...

Could you explain why you believe that africans were chosen to be slaves because of their racial strength? I would supect they were chosen because they were tribal and uneducated and easier to enslave. If I wanted to kidnap some people I would choose them that have bows and arrows rather then muskets. Individuals were probably chosen-or more likely survived the boat ride across the pond, because of their strength, but I seriously doubt that the group was chosen because primarily because of their strength. The tall long-limbed africans you have in mind were actuially only found in 3 parts of africa and are not typical of the population. One of those areas was west africa, where a great many of the slaves came from-because it was closer to the westindies.

The primary genetic difference as I understand is limb length. Shorter limbs are easier to get blood to and therefore keep warm in colder climates. This causes a decisive difference in running speed for obvious reasons. And thus in any sport dependent on sprinting. Also cyclecell anemia which causes physical weakness while providing resistence to malaria.

Another factor you are not taking into account, which is huge, is cultural emphasis of particular sports. Why is it that Americans don't ever win the world cup in cricket even though there are more americans then there are British, Irish, Pakistanni, or Australians? Cause we don't play the game. I had an acquaintence who was black and did not play basketball. He jokingly described it as almost a passage of manhood. If you didn't play basketball you just weren't a man. I, being white, have never felt a similiar pressure in regard to sports. I have felt that consistent pressure with regard to learning and wealth production though.

"every man in the same country, if he be able-bodied, shall, upon holidays, make use, in his games, of bows and arrows... and so learn and practise archery." Edward III. Low and behold, England became good at shooting arrows to the point that English longbowman were imported as mercenaries. Perhaps the English are genetically better at pulling their arm back to their ear?? :ninja:

Even diet could have a major impact. Consider the average height of Asians born here with milk as a staple in their diet compared to their ancestors. Blacks eat different food then whites, generally.

I try to be real careful with genetic determinism. It's a complicated subject because the results(what people(x) are) all meet at a nexus of environment, culture, freewill and genetics and they are each impacted by the others. To make a statement like blacks are genetically better at sports is just not accurate. What you can say is that blacks from certain areas of africa tend to have longer limbs proportional to their torsos and that trait is primarily caused by genetics. A lot less interesting perhaps, but a lot more true.

Regarding the intelligence issue, their was a book that came out several years ago called 'the bell curve'. In it, they determined that the average black IQ was 85 and the average white IQ was 102. So you might say that blacks are genetically less intelligent then whites or you might consider the other issues at play such as the accuracy of an IQ test as a measure of "intelligence" or cultural issue such as emphasis on education which has been shoen to cause an apparent increase in IQ scores.

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Well, the definition I use is the one in the dictionary, but I confess that that doesn't make it the right one.
But my objection is even more basic than that: there is no such thing as the dictionary. Which one, and why that one?
I see your point about blacks, although I think that blacks from Africa are probably still stronger and more athletic than whites, given proper nutrition of course.
Okay, but I think that even with nutrition and other up-bringing taken into consideration, this would not be the case. I'm not saying this as a geneticist or a physiologist, just as an Africanist with just anecdotal experience.
I admit that I don't have any hard data on this, but I think it can be inferred from evolution, in that Africa is a physically harsher region of the world than anything whites have had to deal with.
You're saying this to a man in the Arctic where the best bet is a maybe 3 month growing season and snow reigns supreme for almost half the year (and yes, there is lots of rock and ice here). Well, anyhow the image you have in mind (the starving children in the dust bowl picture) is actually inappropriate for the regions of Africa where slaves came from. Life was easy.
Also, I'm pretty sure the reason the reason the Europeans began the African slave trade was that the Africans were generally strong.
Actually, it was not the Europeans who began the slave trade: they were the main customers, but the slave trade was initiated by the Africans themselves -- slavery is a long-standing African tradition. Africans enslaved Africans, and Europeans were the clients that made the despicable trade profitable. The size correlation is that the slavers would take the biggest, strongest candidates, and to the extent that size is genetically influences (it is), this means something for their descendants.

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You're all making good points that will give me something to think about. However, all this discussion about whether or not blacks really are more athletic is off-topic. My question is: if these things could be empirically proven, would you be willing to call yourself a racist?

I recognize that the defintion is disputed, but I think that if you ask any social scientist, they will be most likely to give you a definition resembling the one that I have suggested.

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My question is: if these things could be empirically proven, would you be willing to call yourself a racist?

I recognize that the defintion is disputed, but I think that if you ask any social scientist, they will be most likely to give you a definition resembling the one that I have suggested.

Right, but as you know, most social scientists are wankers. I would not call myself a racist, unless I believed the things that SN pointed to, which I don't. Since the socialist scientists are simply wrong, then I would not do anything to encourage their wrongness.

The question of superiority is inherently and genetically a context-dropping one. By what standard? Superior implies "with respect to..." so fill in the blank.

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I don't deny that most social scientists are wankers, but given that definitions are ultimately subjective to popular usage, I think that they're as good a source to use as any.

Not sure I understand your last question. It seems pretty straightforward to me. A better athlete is one who is stronger, faster, more agile, etc.

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if these things could be empirically proven, would you be willing to call yourself a racist?

No. Statistics may conclusively show that each race's collective may have its own statistical tendancies, however, it's not racist to acknowledge those statistics unless you dismiss or promote an individual on the basis of their race, without first evaluating their qualities objectively. It's not racist to say "statistically, blacks tend to be more athletic than whites." It IS racist to say "You can't be more athletic than a black because you're white."

Statistical acknowledgment doesn't equate Racism, and only becomes so when you automatically attribute to an individual those traits (be they positive or negative) without first evaluating their character.

And of course, as said earlier, race may not have an influence in the attributes at all, they may be the result of cultural, family, environment, or other non-racial influences.

Edited by Chops

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You're all making good points that will give me something to think about. However, all this discussion about whether or not blacks really are more athletic is off-topic. My question is: if these things could be empirically proven, would you be willing to call yourself a racist?

I recognize that the defintion is disputed, but I think that if you ask any social scientist, they will be most likely to give you a definition resembling the one that I have suggested.

""the belief that one race is inherently and genetically superior to another.""

To answer more directly, no. Believing that genetic differences between individuals or groups exist, which no one would deny, does not translate into believing in racial superiority in any broader context, which is what racism requires. It's not enough to make a generalization about a group, like blacks run fast or white's have a lower teen pregnancy rate or jewish people eat a disproprtionate number of bagels. A racist ideology requires belief that your genetic lineage is better then other races' in total and that those differences are causally related to their genetics and nothing else.

Heh...you beat me to it Chops. What race are you that allows you to type so fast? :D

Edited by aequalsa

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No. Statistics may conclusively show that each race's collective may have its own statistical tendancies, however, it's not racist to acknowledge those statistics unless you dismiss or promote an individual on the basis of their race, without first evaluating their qualities objectively. It's not racist to say "statistically, blacks tend to be more athletic than whites." It IS racist to say "You can't be more athletic than a black because you're white."

Now this is a "no" answer that I can definitely agree with. You're saying that racism has to involve individual judgments...I can definitely agree with that. I still think, however, that racial generalizations are likely to be seen as "racist" by the vast majority of people, not just the wacko liberals who see racism everytime someone breathes.

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I don't deny that most social scientists are wankers, but given that definitions are ultimately subjective to popular usage, I think that they're as good a source to use as any.
On the contrast, I would say that they are the second worst source. They do not even reflect popular usage.
Not sure I understand your last question. It seems pretty straightforward to me. A better athlete is one who is stronger, faster, more agile, etc.
So do you mean that racism is defined in terms of whether you think people of a certain race are better athletes? Surely not, unless you're trying to trivialise the concept in a subtle way. The essence of racism is to impute to each individual the statistically computed properties of the racial collective, as though it were an immutable law. Not just athletic ability, but everything. Only a few such characteristics are close to valid: skin color, snout, hair, blah blah. But even then, I doubt you can distinguish an Andaman Islander from an African.

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I don't know of any evidence that suggests that whites are inherently more intelligent than blacks but, if such evidence were made available, why would it be considered immoral to hold such a belief?

How about standardized test scores?

I read an interesting article recently, talking about the Neandertals, and Homo Sapiens. I'm not clear on all the details, but it basically proposed that it was crossbreeding between the two groups, that created smarter offspring. It then went on to demonstrate that the gene responsible for larger brain capacity, has only been prevalent in Europe, and not in Africa (which lined up with their theory - since there were no Neanderthals to cross-breed with in Africa).

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How about standardized test scores?

I read an interesting article recently, talking about the Neandertals, and Homo Sapiens. I'm not clear on all the details, but it basically proposed that it was crossbreeding between the two groups, that created smarter offspring. It then went on to demonstrate that the gene responsible for larger brain capacity, has only been prevalent in Europe, and not in Africa (which lined up with their theory - since there were no Neanderthals to cross-breed with in Africa).

Do you remember where you read about that, by any chance? I had heard something similiar but thought that it was debunct by some geneticists, but that was second hand.

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I don't remember the original article, but I just googled it, and found something here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2152983.

This regards an allele of the microcephalin gene, whose disfunction causes primary microcephaly. If non-Europeans were subject to higher rates of primary microcephaly, that might an explanation. But it doesn't make you smarter. BTW, the cause of the lower scores on the standardized tests is, basically, cultural stupidity. Sort the test results by something like income level or another indicator of culture and blacks fare the same as whites. The question then is why are blacks so predominantly in the cultural pits, and I'd suggest tuning to BET to find the answer.

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I'm glad you brought this up, Moose, because I was talking about the exact same thing with my friend a couple of weeks ago.

We were discussing racism in my Pol. Sci. class, and the teacher gave this definition of racism:

Racism - "the belief that there are inherent differences between the races that determine peoples achievement"

He also gave another definition: "the belief that one race is superior and has a right to dominate the other."

Using the first definition, I would definitely qualify as a racist.

What do I base this on?

Studies have been done:

Approximate cumulative IQ distributions in the U.S. based on Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale IQs for Whites (mean = 101.4, SD = 14.7) and Blacks (mean = 86.9, SD = 13.0) from (Reynolds, Chastain, Kaufman, & McLean, 1987, p. 330); distributions for Hispanics (mean = 91) and Asians (mean = 106) are less precise. Most reports estimate that the average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews (not shown) is greater than any other group (mean = 113).
link

Some people will say this can be explained because of cultural differences (it certainly cannot be explained by socioeconomic factors, as the article shows), and I admit that is possible, but I have not seen a study to support this. Has anyone come across a study where they study blacks raised in white households for example?

Another study I came across that leads be to believe there are inherent differences in the races is one that compared Europeans and blacks in how they use energy. The study showed that the whites used about 5% of their energy towards heating their bodies, and blacks used noticeably less for heat, and more for muscle power. It has been a while since I have read this study, so I may be off on some of the particulars. I don't suppose anyone has heard of this study? I will see if I can find it.

(Actually, here is a similar study.)

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Now this is a "no" answer that I can definitely agree with. You're saying that racism has to involve individual judgments...I can definitely agree with that. I still think, however, that racial generalizations are likely to be seen as "racist" by the vast majority of people, not just the wacko liberals who see racism everytime someone breathes.

Indeed, and surely nobody here would try to claim "bandwagon fallacy" when speaking of definitions.

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I don't think there are inherent intelligence differences between blacks and whites, mainly because of the reasons that David Odden mentioned. When you take all your sample from the same social class, the differences disappear.

I'd like to see some studies, however, that measure the athleticism between blacks and whites. If it turns out that there is real evidence supporting the idea that blacks are more athletic, then, by the definition that I put forth at the beginning of this thread, I think it would be perfectly logical to call oneself racist.

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I don't think there are inherent intelligence differences between blacks and whites, mainly because of the reasons that David Odden mentioned. When you take all your sample from the same social class, the differences disappear.

Are you sure? Because that is not the case according to what I have read:

Most experts conclude that examination of many types of test bias and simple differences in socioeconomic status have failed to explain the IQ clustering differences.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ (taken from this study: http://www.lrainc.com/swtaboo/taboos/apa_01.html)

I'd like to see some studies, however, that measure the athleticism between blacks and whites. If it turns out that there is real evidence supporting the idea that blacks are more athletic, then, by the definition that I put forth at the beginning of this thread, I think it would be perfectly logical to call oneself racist.
I have already linked one such study. Did you find any problems with it? Edited by Viking

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