Thursday, August 28, 2003

Race, Racism and IQ

I made the following statements in response to comments elicited by a post made by Conrad at Gweilo Diaries:

"... there are neither ancient sub-Saharan African civilizations" [said by a commentator called godlesscapitalist]

This is, frankly, bunk. I should know, since I actually am African and know the history of the continent fairly well. Why don't you stick to what you know something about, rather than perpetuating malicious stereotypes about African inferiority?

I also find it amazing that in the rush to attribute African backwardness to innate genetic inferiority, nobody here has bothered to even consider the arbitrary nature of most sub-saharan African "states". Other than Botswana, hardly a single sub-Saharan African country corresponds to a nation-state in the typical ethnic sense, and virtually none of the elites of these artificial countries feel a sense of greater loyalty to their "nation" as a whole than to their own ethnic compadres. Is it any wonder then that there are so many wars in Africa, and so much time is spent bickering over the spoils of office?

When people bring up Singapore as some sort of damning counterexample to the African dilemma, they forget that Singapore is a majority-Chinese state, and one which was expelled from the union with Malaysia precisely because of ethnic tensions of the very sort that bedevil most African countries today. It isn't an accident that Singapore's growth failed to take off until it left the union - it was a necessity.

Finally, I'd like to point out, for the benefit of those who consider it reasonable that Africans have median IQs bordering on the severely retarded, that I, a full-blooded African, managed a 1590 on the SAT in 1994 (i.e, before recentering), and a 1570 on the GRE's Quantitative and Verbal sections. The old SAT and GRE exams were essentially group IQ tests, and very highly correlated with individual tests like the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler. Given the IQ distributions above, and using the standard assumptions about IQ distribution and variance, what are the odds that someone like myself could possibly exist, assuming Africans really were as dumb as all that?

The truly funny thing is that I'm not even all that exceptional - there are plenty of people of purely African extraction out in the world who are a lot brighter than I am. How such a thing could be possible, assuming there really was some sort of innate genetic difference between Africans and the rest of the world that was holding us back, is hard for me to comprehend.

All in all, I am extremely disappointed both by this post and the discussion it has given rise to. The impression that comes across is of people striking poses as fearless soldiers for Truth, who must tread carefully lest they be brutalized by the marauding hordes of PC Thought Policemen, when the truth of the matter is that all this is about is an opportunity for you to air your own preconceptions about Africans without being criticized for it. If you want to attribute Africa's problems to the genetic deficiencies of its' people, you ought to be ready to take whatever heat comes your way for doing so; don't go on and on about Political Correctness and the like.