October 28, 2007

James Watson, Steven Rose, and the Lives of Others

Here's another excerpt from my new VDARE.com essay on James Watson:

Perhaps the most widely quoted smear-artist attacking James Watson has been Steven Rose. Rose is a professor emeritus of neurobiology at the Open University, a sort of British 1960s lefty version of the University of Phoenix. Rose is a Marxist and the co-founder of the boycott Israel movement among British academics.

He was also the co-author, with Leon Kamin and Richard Lewontin, of the 1984 manifesto with the amusingly unprophetic title Not In Our Genes. (Here's Richard Dawkins's scathing review—which led to Rose threatening to sue Dawkins for libel!)

During the attack on Watson, Rose wrote in The Guardian:

"As for freedom of speech, these freedoms are and must be constrained. We don't have the right to casually cry fire in a crowded theatre, or to use hate speech—at least in Europe, as opposed to the US. Watson's now retracted [sic] remarks came into these unacceptable categories. So the repercussions are to be welcomed." [Watson's bad science, October 21, 2007]

Not surprisingly, Steven Rose has been accused of practicing what he preaches: having the government silence scientists whose ideas he dislikes.

According to social scientist Volkmar Weiss, a dissident under the East German Communist dictatorship, Rose ratted him out to the East Berlin regime, setting in motion the crushing in East Germany of IQ research and human behavioral genetics.

Weiss explains this in a 1983 essay entitled The Suppression of Human Behavioral Genetics by the Radical Left—unpublished, for obvious reasons, until 1991. He wrote:

"In 1980, the manuscript of the monograph Psychogenetik (Weiss 1982a) was complete. Now some fierce dogmatists were discovering that a cuckoo’s egg had been laid in the nest of socialism. One example: S. Rose asked his East German colleague, the professor of neurochemistry D. Biesold at the Karl-Marx-University of Leipzig (personal communication by Biesold), whether there was no means of stopping further publications by Weiss, because such publications printed in a socialist country were particularly disadvantageous to the propaganda of the Radical Left in the Western world. …”

Rose’s wish appears to have been the East German Communists’ command:

"[A]t the end of the year 1982 [Walter] Friedrich [ director of the Central Institute of Youth Research in Leipzig] sought and obtained the backing of high-ranking officials of the Communist Party and all further research in psychogenetics in East Germany came to an end."

Weiss goes on to describe the aftermath he endured, which would be familiar to anyone who saw the tremendous 2006 film about life in East Germany under the thumb of the secret police, The Lives of Others:

“… the cited author was under the threat of arrest and had already lost all possibility of doing further empirical work of defending his field of research. After 1984, Weiss was forced to work in a quite different field … What follows is the usual story of life and resistance under totalitarian conditions. In order to be published abroad, any new theoretical contributions had to be smuggled out of the GDR." [More]

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

My school has about 3600 students: not tiny, but certainly not a city-within-a-city. The library is a mere three stories in height, and rather modest in width.

If psychometrics were truly being suppressed in the manner that Galileo's astronomy was, then I don't think I would've found both The Bell Curve and Jensen's The g-Factor in that humble library by simply wandering around.

What's weird, though, is that although there seems to be a story about genetics and sex differences every other month in Time and the like. It's just when Larry Summers puts two-in-two together in a presentation, that's when hell breaks loose. You can find books on psychometrics in university libraries, but you can't talk about the findings.

When science was suppressed in the old days, it was to prevent people from finding out about it. Now, you can discover all you'd like so long as your mouth is shut.

Anonymous said...

Rose is a Marxist and ...

That is the key information here. Bravo. Marxists must be identified by name. They are a cohesive group enacting a plan to destroy Western societies.

Here we are 15 years after the Berlin Wall came down and who is it that has the upper hand?

Aspergers.life said...

I find it interesting that rabid opponents of creationism cite the lack of academic credulity as their rationale. So be it. But when it comes to mountain of the evidence supporting racial IQ differences, many of the same abandon scholarly research and impose the "religion" of politically correct denial.

What hypocrisy!

Anonymous said...

I've reread this latest essay and it's a great hard hitting piece. Really strong. The advice on how to win against the Left is right on the money. The part about "...internalizing the left’s hysterical race denial" is a bullseye.

Lots of names are named and this sucker will be flying around the email universe.

The blogosphere is really heating up. The Watson scandal is happening concurrent with a blowup between Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs and Paul Belien of Brussels Journal. The battles are different but the war is the same.

This is an important time. The PC shroud must be lifted from the Right. We have been playing on the opposition's turf and therefore we have been getting routed.

Anonymous said...

In the late 70s it was a visiting Pole who pointed out to me what should have been obvious, but hadn't occurred to me: he couldn't speak frankly on a British campus for fear that some marxist would turn him in. I wonder how safe an American campus would have been for him? Obviously, no French or German campus could possibly have been safe.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Rose and his Marxists comrades in the West weren't subjected to a purge after the Berlin Wall came down. Something on the lines of denazification for commies.

Anonymous said...

The comparisons to Galileo are overblown. I mean, he was threatened with torture! People losing their jobs and being slimed in the media is bad, but it's not the Spanish (or Papal) Inquisition.

A more apt comparison is the Hollywood blacklist, with scientists like Watson providing cynically self-preservationist institutions a convenient lightning rod to ground their stresses with. (I am aware that the blacklistees were in fact Communists, and therefore scum, and I have no sympathy for their plight. But the sanctions they faced are much more like those the Watsons of today have to deal with than what came down on poor old Galileo.)

Anonymous said...

Every city I have lived in has bemoaned the school score achievement gap and naively thought they would eliminate it in 10 years. But the Black/White differential in test scores seems universal anywhere there are a sufficient number of blacks: Within a country, a state, a city, a school district. If the difference were 100% environment, wouldn't there be some areas without such a gap?

Anonymous said...

One thing that strikes me is how much the Left has liked the "shouting fire in a theater" and the "hate speech" notions.

I've seen enough many instances of the first used by conservatives to curb publications (particularly pornographic ones) or criticism of the government when "we" are in war, but never as this. But with the left, the way it is used and defended is a bit funny.

Let me elaborate.

The primary purpose behind the principle of freedom of speech is (should be) obvious to everyone. Truth is a critical item, and as the primary purpose of science -- i.e. "prediction" -- indicates, we need Truth to make our lives more predictable, or at least less risky. To demand that utterable truth conform to a pre-defined or specific agenda beats its own purpose. Anyone with a dozen functioning brains cells should be able to make the inference.

(Assume that you're traveling in a mountainous terrain, and, because you have say a fear of heights, you dislike being close to high cliffs. Assume you forbid your fellow travelers to warn you of cliffs in the direction you're moving. Absurd, right? Right?)

Now think of the "shouting fire in a theater" situation -- every speech-curbing aficionado's favorite example (probably the only instance of its kind since we don't have versions like "shouting storm in New Orleans" or "shouting drought in Africa" or some such. Though given the grip of PC, those may not be far off, either.)

First, a fire is not a mysterious item of knowledge, and its impact, especially in close spaces, is well known. This has nothing to do with the underlying motive behind freedom of speech. The primary purpose of the first amendment is not letting us abuse well-known dangers to intimidate people. It's as silly as "shouting spider-under-bed" to your little brother or sister, and yet we're supposed to take that as the template of "free speech."

This favorite cliché became part of public discourse when theaters were lit with gas and fire exits hadn't yet occurred to anyone. Which means a "false alarm" was not only a regular phenomenon but widely loathed as well. Today, we're being bombarded with "environmental science" that the doomsday is near, but we don't even have the option to consider it a "false" alarm, let alone curbing those shrieking about it.

A theater is NOT, mind you, a "public square." Being privately owned, it may be subject to regulations put forth by its owner -- which others may or may not agree with, such as no face-sucking in the dark, or no shouting fire when there is none. But if you asked Rose, he'd fully support "government regulation" to decide what is allowable in a theater -- you don't need a wild imagination to guess that he'd make it part of "speech" to f*** in the back rows.

But, more importantly, let's think of the real dynamics of this. When there IS a fire in a theater, it'd be a crime NOT to shout that one exists -- coupled with the warning not to panic and leave the place in a single column.

What is criminal is not shouting fire under any circumstances but using that threat to cause people to panic -- which MAY result in damage on life, limb, or property, but doesn't have to. So this should be classified under other petty crimes like burglary or forgery.

If Africans DO have a lower IQ which, when left unattended, cause them to lead the miserable lives they are leading now, isn't there a fire already?

So, why the heck is this despicable commie yammering on about it?

Let's see what is currently classified as perfectly within people's rights to "speech."

You can shoot movies of a tranny flogged in S&M play and buggered in a prison as "erotica," and sell it. That's considered "speech." You can write things about your army which may tip off your enemy and help them develop different strategies or figure our your weaknesses. That's considered "speech." Both of these have serious consequences on society none of which is "advancement" of our understanding of the human condition.

But, when you write about the root cause of a whole pile of social problems as brain size, you're engaging in "hate" speech.

Which part of saying, for instance, that oversized thyroid glands or toxic thyroid may be causing high blood pressure is "hate speech" in any sense of the word?

How is it that when we display "art" named "Piss Christ," that is helping us advance our understanding of the human condition, but when you write about the impact of low intelligence on job performance, we're only "perpetuating oppression?"

Ever since the time of Galileo, the notion seems to have that the Catholic church is the primary instrument of suppression of truth. So this logical fallacy is imposed on us:

- Galileo challenged things considered "holy"
- He was right about "something" (the movement of the planets)
- Ergo: to speak the truth, you have to challenge sacred beliefs.

Excuse me if I play the devil's advocate, but there seems to an "affirming the consequent" here. Not every "sacred" belief relates to things fundamentally human, not every one of them is there due to scientific ignorance, and not every such belief challenged leads to a deeper understanding of the human condition.

I am an atheist, so I should be free to say this: I know that for Christians (as well as Muslims) the virginity of Holy Mary and the miracle birth of Christ is a fundamental belief. Now, if the people of Judea in 25 BC had this fantastic belief that babies suddenly pop out of nowhere in your womb, then the birth of Christ without a father wouldn't be considered a miracle, would it? In other words, people knew how babies were made, as they've known for a very long time. (Of all recorded anthropology, Australian aborigines were the only ones totally clueless about this. Talk about dim.) In other words, challenging the notion of immaculate conception (which, according to the Christian (and Muslim) belief, is by definition a singular event and, as such, is beyond falsification) as "scientifically baseless" is a futile effort. More importantly, given the above reasoning, challenging it contains no room for advancement of scientific understanding since we didn't discover the mechanism of biological reproduction 15 minutes ago.

[Detour: Check out this piece by the famous British neo-Darwinian biologist Richard Dawkins (who, unlike me, is an *agressive* atheist

Religions' first and foremost function is to delineate tribal limits for delimiting the extent of the copy space of memes. As it is not possible for the principle of "thou shalt not kill" to separate Christian from the Jew, and the both from the Muslim, it turns out (who would have thought) that characteristically-tribal beliefs are things like Jesus being the Son of God, or depiction of Mohammad's face being forbidden to eliminate all "idolatry", etc. In other words, the more absurd the better, since you'll believe in that only if you have an organic (blood?) connection to its believers. It may be an absurd belief, but it is "our" absurd belief.]

So, now, if I'd come up to "shout" "Virgin Mary was a whore," would that be a proper use of my freedom of speech?

I know that religions have a mythos and an ethos, and without the ethos of most established religions, we couldn't have created more stable, morally advanced societies. (It is absurd for an atheist to first claim that religion is man-made, and then try to refute that religion as if it is God-made and that God design choices are bad. Most religion is the crystallization of human desires and preferences, although being package deals they contain a lot of baggage from the times they were penned.) I know that I love most Christian men and women whom I consider my fellow human beings, and I'd rather bang my head against a wall a thousand times than offend them with such juvenile nonsense as shouting obscenities about Mary.

But, you see, for all the f**** like Rose, that is "free speech."

And this, even though the "fire" that Watson is shouting is fatally critical in comparison to a "right" (?) to call Mary a whore. Even though Africans would be the first to benefit from such research. I know because I, too, have to live in a country with an 85 average IQ. I have to live the consequences, the *emergent characteristics*, the *multiplier effects* of that EVERY BLEEDING DAY OF MY LIFE.

Haven't we had enough of this already?


Dutch Boy said...

The time course of the relative decline of Italian science suggests that the Galileo case was not an important factor. A better explanation would be the shift of trade routes from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and thus a shift of wealth also. This wealth helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution which created more wealth and a terrific impetus to science as the wealth was used to fund scientific research. The greatest threat to science in America is not the PC Thought Police but the de-industrialization which has sent wealth and infra-structure to that great bastion of free thought: China.

Anonymous said...

I must say my respect for Prof Rose has increased no end!

KlaosOldanburg said...

i predict a bizarre conglomeration of multiculturalism and 'pop' christianity, will develop as a result of the increasingly racist and sexist discoveries biologists are making.

dis: 'The Bell Curve' and 'The g-Factor' most likely violate your university's speech code (you could be arrested for reading passages from either book on many college campuses). I'm sure galileo had contemporaries who understood the world was round.

Anonymous said...

>I find it interesting that rabid opponents of creationism cite the lack of academic credulity as their rationale. So be it. But when it comes to mountain of the evidence supporting racial IQ differences, many of the same abandon scholarly research and impose the "religion" of politically correct denial.

Yes, just like they argue science can't attempt to tackle complex, problems involving multiple factors like intelligence (cultural contamination!) - unless, of course, the complex problem involving multiple factors happens to be anthropogenic global warming.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the funniest part of Dawkins' critique of Not in Our Genes is this:

Let me bend over backwards as far as I honestly can. To Leon Kamin belongs eternal credit for initiating the unmasking of Burt as a scientific criminal, and the chapters, presumably by Kamin, on IQ testing and similar topics, do partially redeem this otherwise fatuous book. Cyril Burt went to the extreme length of faking numerical data, but it can be argued that what lay behind his crime was his eagerness to give ideology priority over truth. If this is so, who are the Cyril Burts today?

Just one problem: it is debatable whether Kamin even got that right. The science, at least, seems to have vindicated Burt's conclusions about the heritability of IQ.

I guess it isn't always easy to come to conclusions about valid science when you start from a foundation of pseudoscientific dialectical materialism.

DissidentMan said...

The comparisons to Galileo are overblown. I mean, he was threatened with torture! People losing their jobs and being slimed in the media is bad, but it's not the Spanish (or Papal) Inquisition.

I consider that the Marxist thought police would be happy to employ torture if were politically expedient. Fines and jail sentences for dissenting political and scientific opinions should serve as a warning sign. Many leftists make no secret of their murdereous hatred of race-realists, regarding us as stupid, disgusting scum begging for eradication, worthy only of being spoken too with disdainful condescending words (e.g. "And what, pray tell, do you mean by race"). [It is my concious intent to never use the expression 'pray tell' for the rest of my life.]

Concerning Macarthy's targets, fines and jail sentences would have actually been appropriate for at least some of them since they were 1) receiving funding and taking orders from an enemy nation (i.e. the Soviet Union) and 2) perjuring themselves in front of congress. Therefore, at least some of them were doing things far worse than merely being proponents of Marxism, which is indeed bad per se but it isn't something that should ever be criminialised. Unfortunately Macarthy, although recently vindicated, didn't then have the proof he needed to nail them, and pursuing them without proof actually damaged his cause.

I consider that in the US the first ammendment has already been partly nullified by civil rights laws. I've heard more than one leftist claim that the institute that Watson worked for would be subject to EEOC fines on the grounds that Watson would be creating a "chilling climate" for black underlings, by virtue of his having the opinions that he's got. Other leftists are maintaining that freedom of speech is not being violated because it is a private matter between him and the institution. This makes the situation very analagous to the presentday situation vis a vis minority hiring quotas. Leftists claim that the law does not mandate said quotas, but employers that hire by merit will get clobbered anyway, since a finding of 'disparate impact' is regarded as proof of discrimination. All of this very Orwellian and antithetical to traditional American (and by extension, western) values. Of course don't expect respectable conservatives to do or say anything other than liberally use the word freedom in contexts where it means nothing (e.g. "freedom fries", "they hate us for our freedom", etc.).

DissidentMan said...

One other thing I should add (if this post gets past moderation), is that the business of leftists claiming that the law doesn't mandate quotas because there is no law mentioning them explicitly, is very similar to their habit of saying that genes do not account for variation in human intelligence because there is no "gene for intelligence", and it has to be said that both of these pseudo-arguments taken together have an uncanny resemblence to the creationist pseudo-argument that natural selection together with random genetic mutations could not result in evolution of complex organisms. For both the left and Christian fundamentalists any chain of causation having more than two links can be rejected, and even derided, as impossible on account of its length...

Anonymous said...

With so many malicious idiots on the left like Rose, it severely pains me to vote for their party, but, well.. Bush etc.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, it is interesting you bring up Weiss. I purchased his book "Die IQ-Falle" while visiting friends in Germany back in 2001. He's an interesting character and was talking about Gregory Clark's central thesis in "Farewell to Alms" (i.e., survival of the richest in pre-modern European societies) way before Clark (and his presentation was better too).

His other main area of interest was equating general intelligence with working memory and processing speed. He also seems to believe that there is a major gene locus influencing this and that inheritance of intelligence is basically Mendelian (which I doubt, but his thesis is interesting in any case).

Philly Guy

Anonymous said...

Of course don't expect respectable conservatives to do or say anything other than liberally use the word freedom in contexts where it means nothing ...

here is an excellent article by paul gottfried on the dynamics of the phony left-right mainstream political competition on our tv sets and in our magazines. gottfried explains the utility of two leftwing shades of the political spectrum bashing each other:

A Tale of Two Normans: Podhoretz and Finklestein

taki's top drawer is a good dissident website.

Anonymous said...

All of you are a bunch of idiots. The "factual" evidence does not support Watson's claims that Africans are less intelligent that Europeans. Besides being true, Watson himself said that. Has it occurred to any of you that people object to Watson's comments, not because they're politically incorrect, but because they're wrong?

But it's likely that most of you, when faced with all those statistics and studies which refute arguments like Watson's (try reading Gould's "Mismeasure of Man"), would still be unconvinced. Why? Because it would upset your perfect world - a world in which you could say, "My lift sucks ass, but at least I'm not as dumb as them. Feels good, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10/30/2007 1:08 PM

Citing Gould's Mismeasure of Man, you are several years too late to the party!

You are anon, Watson has a Nobel prize and knows a thing or two about this DNA lark. I'll take his word before yours. You cite the studies that disprove a white/black intelligence gap - name checking an 18 year old utterly discredited book doesnt cut it, not by a long way.