My dear Watson, you haven’t learnt anything, have you? You misstepped, halfheartedly apologised, and now you’re back as much of a rogue as before, if not worse, upsetting everyone along the way, with your very undiplomatic remarks, that you dared base on mere research data rather than solid political correct ideology, you odd, eccentric fellow. Could you not see you had a storm coming your way?
To clear all ambiguity, the Watson I’m addressing here isn’t the sidekick of fiction celebrity Sherlock Holmes but rather science celebrity James Watson, who, at the remarkable age of 90, has just recently flared up public outrage with a fresh take on that old controversial opinion of his that got him kicked out of the scientific community already years ago, to such an extent that he had to sell memorabilia from his outstanding scientific career for the sake of making ends meet.
What sort of unbelievably outrageous opinion could get him kicked around like that? It was this: he dared draw a logic, but politically very incorrect, conclusion from a collection of worldwide IQ test measurements that showed a marked variance between different ethnicities. He basically said something to the tune that black people aren’t really that impressive when it comes to their average intelligence, and that Africa is held back in its development from that very handicap. He meant no offence, but said that’s the reality, whether we like it or not.
That’s admittedly quite a statement on the part of a scientist, especially in today’s political environment where anyone perceived as even slightly incorrect gets mercilessly mocked and vilified by the media, public figures and even academia.
But in the face of all this hypocritical outrage I now want to vent my own personal outrage at the whole bunch of judgemental philistines whose collective worth doesn’t equate to a sliver of the great man they’ve thought fit to attack – a man whose contribution to our modern world includes his shared Nobel prize for the fundamental discovery of the DNA. Let’s then take a good, unbiased look at the thing.
First off, the issue in question. The controversial IQ data does exist, but there isn’t a unified scientific view on it, which is why it is – precisely – controversial. I haven’t studied the surveys so as to make up my own mind about it, but one thing I can say nonetheless: whenever a specific trait, like say height, is studied in a population the statistics of that trait follow a normal distribution called a Bell curve. Different populations are characterised by different distributions, with a different mean – the average value, and a different standard deviation – the spread of the curve. It seems to me only natural then to expect that IQ scores should make no exception when surveyed, and that we ought to find IQ differences between ethnicities just like we do for any other trait, rather than assume that this one particular trait should remain almost magically the same throughout the vast and diverse palette of ethnicities that constitute mankind, as the politically correct crowd would like us to believe. In the very least, theirs is an assumption just as good as any other, or just as ungrounded in science as any other. So then, where is the ground for their moral superiority?
That already sets the score to Watson 1 – academia 0, since our scientist at least relies on a set of data, whereas his opponents only on blind faith.
But let’s even suppose that our eminent scientist might be wrong. Let’s say that he may have slipped on some bad, unproven science, or worse still, that in his old age he may have become a prejudiced bigot – even assuming that, would it make him any less of a great man? No, never! Nothing that he may do or say will ever take away his great contribution that is now part of our culture and heritage. He has already proven himself, unlike his puny, cowardly slanderers. Which is why he is always and unquestionably due reverence and respect. Sadly, this truth seems to be appreciated to a measure that’s no higher than the worth of his critics. All this ugly affair only reflect the lack of even minimal sense and moral compass in today’s society.
And that further sets the score to Watson 2 – academia 0.
In reality, much of modern science is mired in controversy, especially in a field like biology, where factions often exist that clash with almost ideological fervour. Yet, do scientists ever ostracise one another because of that? No, they fight their battles in their congresses and on their scientific papers, and let evidence from the data be the only judge. That’s how sound science ever works. Einstein, as great a scientist as it gets, spent much of his later life on the sidelines because he wouldn’t accept the new revolutionary physics that he himself had contributed to create. In spite of that, credit and reverence for this great man never faded from the scientific community. That’s because a great scientist doesn’t suddenly become a pariah simply because he holds views that are somehow seen as odd or outdated. That never happens. Not until politics becomes part of the game, that is.
Which is precisely what has befallen our plucky – or just plain reckless – James Watson. Today everything is politicised, science being no exception. The politically correct narrative permeates every nook of our society, and it holds sway with the most effective weapon out there – ostracism. If you don’t conform you are not just publicly vilified, but you’re also out of funding, out of career advancement, out of work opportunities, as well as, pure and simple, out of society. Any wonder such terrifying weapon is so effective? The worst of it is that it makes it look like there’s a vast and compact section of society that thinks and behaves in a way that’s irreprehensibly correct, when really this is but a deception since most are just scared rabbits who dare not speak freely their mind for fear or the consequences. If you still believe the tale they we live in a free society, then you are a fairly naive and deluded fool – there is no more freedom of speech in our Western society than there is in any repressive regime around the globe. You either conform or else you might as well cease to exist for all intents and purposes, as Watson’s predicament has so powerfully made clear (besides laying a silent threat to anyone else who might be inclined to step out of line). Those members of academia who, on account of his latest remarks, have just recently thought it fit to strip our great man of his career titles are no doubt a bunch of such scared rabbits, acting like puny midgets intent on smiting a towering giant. History will put each in their own place, but for now we have to put up with this ludicrous farce. And we have to credit Watson for his uncommon pluck (though one can well imagine that at his age he doesn’t really give a shit anymore, if he ever did at all).
Therefore I’d say that sets the final score to Watson 3 – academia 0.
As far as his former apology is concerned, this laughable farce also makes it very clear how pointless any apology is which has been extorted through the equivalent of a gun pointed at your head. No one ever really changes their mind on account of such methods – they simply comply and bend over to brute force because they have no other choice. But, of course, that’s all that matters to such cultural terrorism.
In we didn’t live in such a climate of cultural fanaticism – and I don’t know how else to describe our insane and pervasive mania for political correctness – nothing much would really have happened, and nothing more than business as usual, Watsons words would have been taken for what they are, namely an anthropological hypotheses based on field data that may be worth considering and debating, not least for the sake of those very African people that everyone says they want to help. Cultural fanaticism never helped anyone – hard facts, however unpalatable to some of us, are a much better foundation for useful policies. But of course, we live in odd times, and much remains to be achieved in the way of civilisation.
In the meantime, shame on you, base and servile academia! Shame on you for disgracing the very science you’re supposed to represent, and especially for doing so out of abysmal cowardice. Posterity won’t look kindly on you.
And also in the meantime, we’ll eagerly wait until this current idiotic fad for politically correctness fades into oblivion, as it duly will, so as to witness the pitiable, if predictable, spectacle of our politically correct mob scuttling away like mice at the sight of a cat.