Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

John Derbyshire Gives Away Conservatives’ Racist Game

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 7, 2012

From the National Review’s and Taki Mag’s John Derbyshire (by way of a horrified Frances Martel at Mediaite), advice he suggests that white parents give their kids:

(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.

(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.

(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.

(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.

(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”

Need I point out that Derbyshire’s IQ maunderings are racist nonsense? Apparently I must, so here goes:

Myth: Intelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born English-speaking people in the United States. Culture bias in IQ tests does not explain the difference in black-white IQ scores, a difference of approximately 15 points between the means of group distributions.

Reality: The idea that all “native-born English-speaking people in the United States” develop and live in the same culture is anthropological nonsense. Cognitive performance is never independent of culture any more than the way language is used is independent of culture. Linguistic structure, in fact, controls the way people think and learn, so that if linguistic structure is culture dependent, so also is thinking and learning. As for cultural bias in IQ tests not explaining the difference in black-white IQ scores, there is no hard scientific evidence to support any such idea — and considerable evidence against it. The notorious black-white IQ gap of one standard deviation (about 15 points), touted by genetic determinists to be independent of culture, was in fact substantially reduced between 1972 and 2002 — and it continues to shrink.

Another thing conservatives like Derbyshire ignore — because to admit it would require them to back environmental regulations — is that concentrations of lead, which are still higher in the inner city than elsewhere because of the prevalence of older buildings with lead paint, are harmful to the human brain:

Some people assume that lead poisoning went away with the total ban on leaded gas in 1995, 23 years after its phaseout began and almost 50 years after lead was first added to gasoline as an antiknock agent. National health surveys in the 1970s had revealed high lead levels among children and adults but showed a 75-percent decrease by 1991. As the tide of childhood lead-poisoning ebbed, there were declarations of victory; a 1995 Atlantic Monthly article hailed America’s “triumph over lead.”

But lead poisoning remains the most significant environmental-health disease of children; it is especially prevalent among inner-city kids. Even though environmental lead levels caused by gasoline have dropped, lead poisoning is a pressing issue now because we’ve discovered much more about its capacity for human harm.

Children from all levels of society are at risk of lead poisoning, but those at the bottom, who are more apt to live in older, poorly maintained housing, are most often harmed. African-American children have 2 1/2 times the risk of white children, and Latino children about 1 1/2 times the risk, according to the CDC. Ellen Silbergeld, professor of environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, refers to this as the “ghettoization” of lead poisoning.

[...]

Lead can harm children before birth: It leaches from the bones of expectant mothers exposed during their own childhoods and crosses the placental barrier to enter the fetal brain. The May 2006 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives confirmed earlier findings that very low lead exposure during gestation may cause “lasting and possibly permanent effects” on a child’s cognitive development.

Lead’s deadliness has been known for well over a century. (It in fact is suspected of contributing to the decline of the Roman empire, as the Romans used lead to make pipes for plumbing and even prepared wine and wine-based drinks in lead vessels.) Yet paint manufacturers were still allowed to use it in this country up until 1978. Think of all the old buildings with old paint on them, and you get an idea of the size of the problem — a problem linked to income levels, not race.

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10 Responses to “John Derbyshire Gives Away Conservatives’ Racist Game”

  1. Wege said

    As I was reading the first half of your excellent post, I was formulating a comment about lead. Thanks for not leaving that out because it’s good science, and it explains a lot.

    I was very amused to learn (from Charlie Pierce, I think) that Derbyshire had a bit part in Enter The Dragon. However vile his thoughts, he’s a good writer and a clever debater. I would rather suffer through one of his wrongheaded spiels than endure another idiotic rant from a Limbaugh or Hannity. I wish more “conservatives” would say what they really think, instead of making with the dog whistles.

  2. Charles II said

    Nor is IQ everything.

    Some people with high IQs have such poor people skills that they can’t accomplish anything. Some people with median or even low IQs have some other untestable kind of intelligence that they actually do more.

    I used to joke with racists who pulled out the hoary IQ mythology that they had a low EQ.

    Certainly nothing other than the notion that there is some kind of intelligence not captured by IQ can explain how this country, with all of its advantages and education has managed to decompose so badly, while nations much worse situated.

  3. Charles II said

    Nothing would be complete without a trip over to The Free Republic:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2869225/posts

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2869410/posts

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2869332/posts

    • But of course they’re not racists. Not at all. They keep telling us that, so it must be true — right?

      And note how they take everything in Derbyshire’s piece as self-evident gospel.

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