This is my first post on the forum, and I apologise for its length, but it is an emotive issue so one I wanted to do justice, as well as explain my rationale for wishing to discuss it. I hope this will be a constructive debate that will not end up generating more heat than light, so to that end please refrain from personal attacks or emotive irrelevance, and stick to logical, reasoned responses. That said, I have no intention of preaching to a choir and fully expect and welcome post disagreeing with and challenging my position. Anyway, on with the topic... What reason is there to believe humans to be equal? In particular, what reason is there to believe that human populations that have evolved and adapted in different regions of the world should be equal? Is there any reason to suppose that human populations found in all regions of the world should be biologically equally with respect to all non superficial attributes, in particular, with respect to intelligence? And yes, by human populations in different regions of the world, I mean the different races (I will discuss the validity of the term later). I should state at the outset that while my views are undecided, which is in part why I wish to discuss the issue, I have read some arguments both the hereditarians like Jensen or Rushton and the environmentalists like Nisbett and Gould and personally find the arguments of the hereditarians more compelling (though I do not claim to be any great scholar on this issue). I do not pretend to come to this issue with no prior dispositions or leanings, but I will give fair hearing to good arguments. I wish to address this topic for two reasons. Firstly, I have graduated recently and I am searching for jobs, and invariably, I will encounter some reference to equal opportunities in any lengthy application process, the public sector jobs in particular being quite open about preferring minority candidates, and in some cases excluding white applicants from applying. The tacit assumption underlying such “positive” discrimination (positive is a euphemism, all discrimination entails preferential treatment of one group relative to another) is that all races are naturally endowed with the same capabilities for every role, and therefore any underrepresentation must necessarily represent a social injustice that must be corrected. But what if this assumption is wrong and some ethnic groups on average are simply not as well suited to a particular role as others? What if, for example, black people’s underrepresentation in professions that require a high level of intelligence, such as being a doctor or barrister, is the result of a naturally lower level of average intelligence amongst black people relative to members of other races? If this were true, then attempts to increase representation might well simply result in giving opportunities to less well qualified black candidates who are not the victims of an injustice but simply not as talented. And curiously, this need to correct underrepresentation is rather selective. White people make up 90% of Britain’s population, but they make up a far smaller proportion of our professional footballers and have virtually no representation in our sprinting teams at the Olympics. These are highly desirable, well remunerated careers, yet the underrepresentation of whites is not seen as a social injustice that needs to be corrected. We seem content here to simply accept that black people are naturally better. So why is impossible to propose that there are some areas in which white people are more naturally capable? If positive discrimination is correcting for natural differences, not social injustice, then positive discrimination is itself highly unjust, denying the best candidates opportunities because of the colour of their skin. And ironically, we do this in the name of racial equality. Further, it is socially suboptimal, as we do not get the best people doing the jobs, but simply the brownest. And I for one would find it very little consolation that the incompetent civil servant who squandered tax payer’s money or the incompetent doctor who failed to adequately treat his patients was brown rather than white. I am not saying all minority candidates are subpar, or that good minority candidates should not be employed, but I strongly feel that people should employed on merit, not pigmentation. Given that the assumption of racial equality is tacit in the implementation of several of our social policies, not just positive discrimination, shouldn’t we at least have a serious discussion about the issue with reference to evidence, not simply assume equality? My second reason for wishing to discuss the issue is that debate on this issue is very strongly taboo; to question the assumption that different human populations must not differ in any socially important characteristics is to be publically vilified and face serious consequences with regard to your career and even sometimes the law. I take issue with this taboo for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is pure moralistic fallacy to state that the notion the races might not be equal is immoral and therefore wrong. Morality has nothing to do with it. Whether or not the races differ in average size, strength or intellect is a matter of truth or falsehood, not good or evil. It would make no more sense to argue that the races must be equal as a moral position than it would to argue that the genders must be equal as a moral position. I doubt if anyone would say it is right or fair that men generally are stronger, quicker and have greater stamina than women, but no one would say it must therefore be untrue that the genders differ in this manner; people simply accept that is being true, whether it is fair or not, because that is what the evidence indicates. Moreover, if an issue cannot be openly and candidly discussed from all positions and viewpoints, there is little chance that the truth of the matter will be obtained. The desire to suppress a particular argument stems from the fear that people will find that argument compelling. After all, if an argument was manifestly false, what difficulty would there be in showing it to be so? The fact that the hereditarian view of differences in racial outcome is so heavily taboo is in my opinion, very telling; if it was obviously false, people would feel no more need to suppress it than they would need to suppress the view that the earth is flat. If the egalitarian position goes unchallenged, it is free to make assumptions and claims that are implausible, and is likely to come to inaccurate conclusions. Orthodoxies are unhealthy because when they are mistaken there is nothing to challenge and correct them. Even if the egalitarian position is found to be broadly true after a frank and rigorous debate, the egalitarian view will be more refined and ultimately more accurate if it has to compete against and address the arguments made by hereditarian thinkers. If there is one place where controversial issues should be able to be discussed freely, it is academia, but even here we find the taboo is highly pervasive. One of the most prominent hereditarian academics, Rushton, who has done extensive research into the issue of race and provides well supported and well reasoned arguments and has been frequently published in respected journals, has been vilified and caricatured repeatedly for stating his views, as well as coming under pressure to resign from his academic post. Nobel prize-winning James Watson did have to resign his post after suggesting in an interview that there may be variation in average levels of intelligence between human populations in different regions of the world. Contrast these reactions to the reaction that is likely to meet an academic who professes a belief in God, inspite of there being absolutely zero evidence to support that existence of a supernatural creator the universe, or indeed, any evidence to support the existence of any supernatural phenomena; generally, such a claim is unlikely to provoke any controversy at all. Whether true or not, at least the claim that different human populations might differ in intelligence lies with in the realms of possibility and sanity; we know for a fact that between species, intelligence varies massively, so genes clearly can affect a difference in intelligence. In my view, the claim that the universe was created by a supernatural being, without bothering to account for how it is that such a being came to exist or indeed why there is no evidence of any supernatural force whatsoever, let alone one able to create entire universes, is a far greater affront to clear, rational thought and reasoned logic, things that academia should place great emphasis and value upon, than any belief in racial differences. Yet it is a belief in racial differences, not a fantasy about some magic man in the sky, which is most likely to jeopardise your credibility and career as an academic. I do not suggest that the religious should be barred from academia; we should encourage free debate and the exchange of ideas. However, if we can tolerate religious delusions in academia, we should be able to tolerate the substantially more reasonable view that intelligence, or indeed any other attribute, may vary between human populations that have evolved in different regions of the globe. Anyway, having given a rather lengthy explanation of why I wish to discuss the issue, I will begin by first putting forward a point which I have never heard a convincing reply to from environmentalists, not because I want the satisfaction of “winning” an argument, but because I think the point is an important one and a good answer to it might be integral to me making my mind up on the issue. I won’t discuss empirical evidence in this post as it would take forever to even summarise all the areas of evidence and how they should be interpreted, though I am happy to address individual issues related to evidence later if the thread goes in that direction. The argument I want to put forward was expressed eloquently by James Watson: there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so We know that there is some degree of evolutionary separation between human populations in different regions of the world; variations in pigmentation alone prove this. For example, the humans that migrated out of Africa into Europe developed paler skins, because high levels of melanin went from being a necessary protection against the high levels of radiation from the sun to a harmful burden that excessively inhibited the synthesis of vitamin D3 in an environment where radiation from the sun was much lower, thus also making the same levels of protection from radiation unnecessary. Thus the difference in pigmentation between white people and black people represents a biological difference brought about by evolving and adapting to a different environment. We find similar instances of differential evolution between the races, reflecting their different environments, with regard to disease resistance, metabolism and many other characteristics. As we know that there has been sufficient time for evolution to bring about biological differences between human populations in different regions, what reason is there to suppose that evolution has not also acted to bring about differences in socially important characteristics such as intellect? You would only anticipate intellect to evolve identically if the reproductive value of intelligence was identical in all environments. This, I would argue, is highly implausible. Different environments pose different challenges and will make differing demands on the human mind accordingly. In some environments, complex social interaction, or ingenuity in manipulating objects and the surroundings may be more valuable than in other environments. This would result in a difference in the selective pressure placed on intelligence. Moreover, the reproductive value of intelligence will not only be determined by its own utility, but its utility relative to other characteristics. Therefore, in order for the overall reproductive value of intelligence, or any other socially important characteristic, to be the same for human populations in all environments, it would have to be the case that the selective pressures on ALL characteristics were identical in every environment that humans have evolved in. To believe that this is the case is, in my view, utterly absurd, especially as we know for a fact that several characteristics have evolved differently in different human populations. Holding such a view strikes me as believing that which has the greatest emotional appeal, rather than that which reason and logic would tell you to be true. The term liberal creationism does seem appropriate. From this line of reasoning alone, we can see that not only is there no good reason to believe that equality between the races can be assumed, but that there is good reason to suppose that there very likely is some variation between the races in characteristics, including those characteristics that are socially important. This on its own says nothing of the magnitude of the differences, or which race should be most endowed with what characteristic, but it does strongly suggest that the conviction held by many that human populations in every region of the world are equal in all respects that are socially important is very likely to be wrong. There is nothing in evolution or biology to sustain the belief that while we might have evolved differently with regard to traits that are relatively superficial, such as skin colour, facial features, susceptibility to certain diseases etc. we cannot possibly differ with regard to traits that matter a great deal, like intelligence. Evolution is an unconscious process; it has no sense of purpose, no sense of justice. It will not have made us equal to avoid unfairness. If humans in one region of the world found intelligence more reproductively beneficial than humans in another region of the world, they will probably have evolved to be smarter, and no amount of sense of injustice or outrage from humans in this day and age is going to change that. Finally, I will discuss the argument that race is a social construct and not a scientifically valid concept. The first thing to say is the common misapprehension that race being a social construct means that there is no real biological variation between different human populations is wrong, and manifestly so. Differences in physical appearances between human populations in different regions represent real biological differences, and as I have already argued, there is no sound reason to assume that this is the only way in which we differ. The concept of race refers to a real biological difference. Now it is true that there is a social aspect to the concept of race, and racial categories are defined somewhat arbitrarily. People whose ancestry is predominantly sub-Saharan African are called black. People whose ancestry is predominantly European are called white. Neither Africa nor Europe represent regions of biological homogeneity. There are differences between east and west Africans, northern and southern Europeans, so the decision to place all Europeans in one racial category and sub-Saharan Africans in another is an arbitrary decision, and done partly for social reasons; people define their race by the biological characteristics common to the group they belong to and predominantly associate with. If there was a large degree of social separation between Scandinavians and Celts within a society, they might well be defined within that society as belonging to biologically distinct groups, with either the concept of race, or a close equivalent. Nonetheless, though the lines may be drawn somewhat arbitrarily, these racial categories do denote consistent and reliable biological differences. Geneticists find that the races to which people identify are consistent with groups of genetic clusters, such that a geneticist can identify the race to which a person self identifies with nothing more than a DNA sample very reliably (roughly 99% accurate). Indeed, DNA and skeletons (even if incomplete) can and are used to identify the race of an individual frequently in forensic science. Skeletal structure and DNA are clearly not social traits, they are biological, so to assert that race is purely a social construct is simply untrue. Ironically enough, although race being a social construct is usually used as an argument that the concept can be safely ignored, at least with regard to biology, the opposite is true. If race had no social aspect, if people did not tend to identify with, associate with and feel greater affinity for people whose ancestry is more similar, race would not matter nearly as much as it does. We could simply treat individuals as individuals. The fact that people are socially conscious of race, are concerned about the outcomes of people belonging to their racial group, and do feel injustice at perceived inequalities between racial groups, means that race matters. If people were not socially conscious of race, they would be concerned with their own welfare and the welfare of those close to them, concerned about whether or not they individually were treated fairly. Without the group identity of race, even if there was biological variation between the people from different continents that resulted in differences in social outcome, these differences in outcome would not be a source of tension or create a sense of injustice. It is precisely because people do have a racial group identity, because race is in part a social construct, that it is important to explore what the racial differences are, and what people have a right to perceive as unjust, and what people need to acknowledge as the result of natural variation. Thus the fact that people are socially conscious of race only strengthens the case for investigating the biological differences between the races, so we know which social outcomes are genuinely unjust, and which are simply the result of biology. If there are consistent biological differences associated with racial categories, then it is perfectly possible that some of these differences could be of real social importance. I personally do not find it adequate to simply dismiss the concept and say it isn’t valid, if biological differences between the races have significant social consequences. Race as a concept does not fit the taxonomical definition of a separate species, but that fact does not stop racial differences being important. The notion that by some conceptual slight of hand, eliminating the concept of race from human discourse, we can resolve the problems associated with race is absurd. If, for example, Africans are generally less intelligent than Europeans, simply stating that there is only one race, the human race, is not going to stop black people being less intelligent than white people. All it will do is remove from our vocabulary a concept by which we may refer to the biological variation between these two groups, which is deeply unhelpful. So unless you can conclusively prove that there are no aggregate biological differences between human populations in different regions of the world, or you can suggest a better concept for referring to such differences than race, please refrain from the silly argument that “race is not a valid concept” or “race is a social construct, so we can ignore it with regard to biology”. These are not serious arguments. They are simply trying to close down a debate on issue by prohibiting the use of the language necessary to discuss it. That is nothing more than conspiring to remain wilfully ignorant of an issue by refusing to discuss it. Thanks for reading if you got this far, and look forward to hearing your responses.