Sunday, February 22, 2004

Quackery in the Name of "Human Biodiversity"

I've long maintained that Richard Lynn was a quack, whose "research" was to be trusted only by those so eager to believe in his "evidence" for monumental "innate" racial differences that they would throw all scepticism to the wind. As it turns out, a challenge laid down by a certain "Guessedworker" in the above Gene Expression thread, in which he dared me to question that blacks had innately higher testosterone levels than whites, provided the opportunity to demonstrate precisely that. Below are links to all of the original sources that are relevant to this debate.

Blood hormone profiles in prostate cancer patients in high-risk and low-risk populations, Ahluwalia, Jackson et. al. (1981)
5-alpha-reductase Activity and Risk of Prostate Cancer Among Japanese and US White and Black Males, Ross, Bernstein et. al. (1992).
Testosterone and Dominance in Men, Mazur and Booth (1997).
Serum Androgen Concentrations in Young Men: A Longitudinal Analysis of Associations with Age, Obesity, and Race., Gapstur, Gann (2002).
Richard Lynn's Own Bit of Scientific Quackery (1990)

For those too lazy to follow up on all these links, I suggest reading at least the following critique of Richard Lynn's "research" methods in establishing the "fact" of higher black testosterone levels:

>Being a tenured professor in a university, writing papers and

>attending conferences, having journals that publish your work,
>and being able to cite backwards, forwards and sideways, working
>in an "Institute of Science" or a "laboratory", and speaking more
>in jargon than in English are only the paraphernalia associated
>with science.
>
>Going through the motions however, does not make science.
>
>Here is another example of "science" produced by another of these
>scientists, again, quoting Kamin :
>
>"The high rate of sexual activity in Negroids," Lynn has suggested,
>may be caused by a high level of the male sex hormone, testosterone.
>The "crucial supporting evidence" for the notion that blacks have an
>over-supply of testosterone is the fact that "Negroids have higher
>rates of cancer of the prostate than Caucasoids...an important
>determinant of cancer of the prostate is the level of testosterone."
>The chain of reasoned evidence is : prostate cancer is caused by
>testosterone; blacks tend to have prostate cancer; therefore blacks
>must have lots of testosterone; the abundance of testosterone makes
>blacks sexually active; that causes them to produce lots of babies,
>for whom they will not provide, and who will become criminals and/or
>welfare cases. Its all in the genes.

>
>...To show that testosterone causes prostrate cancer ....Lynn cites
>a paper by Ahluwalia et. al.. That paper, Lynn writes, reported
>"higher levels of testosterone in patients with prostate cancer
>than in healthy controls." [But] Ahluwalia et. al. reported that
>black prostate patients in the United States had higher testosterone
>levels than did control subjects. But among blacks in Nigeria,
>control subjects had higher testosterone levels than did prostate
>patients !.....

>
>What about the next claim, that blacks are more prone than whites to
>develop prostate cancer?.....Lynn reprints some age-standardized
>incidence rates for prostate cancer for "Negroids" and "Caucasoids"
>in seven American cities. Those statistics and others had been
>gathered by the International Union Against Cancer. There was
>variation from city to city, but in each case African-Americans had
>about twice the incidence of whites. The highest white rate was
>59.7 per 100,000 population in Hawaii...the lowest black rate was
>72.1, in New Orleans.
>
>The paper from which Lynn copied (or tried to copy) those figures
>contains other relevant statistics. The rate in Senegal was 4.3 --
>the lowest rate except for Japan and Shanghai, among the thirty-odd
>countries for which data were given. The rates in Jamaica and(then)
>Rhodesia were 28.6 and 32.3 -- still far below the rates of both
>black and white Americans. Follow-up studies by the International
>Union reported a rate of 9.7 in Nigeria. In the Cape Province of
>South Africa, the rate for whites was a low 23.2; for Bantus it
>was 19.2 and for Africans in Natal 23.2. The facts are well known
>to every serious scholar concerned with prostate cancer : American
>blacks have an alarmingly higher rate of prostate cancer than
>American whites, but black Africans have a much lower rate than either
>American blacks or whites.

>
>...To admit Lynn and Rushton into the scientific mainstream -- I'll
>say it bluntly -- is a betrayal of science. To say this out loud is
>not to advocate what Malcolm Browne describes as a "shroud of
>censorship imposed on scientists and scholars by pressure groups."
>It is a simple defense of truth and integrity in science.....

To that last paragraph I say a hearty "amen!" Note that the "Ahluwalia et. al." referred to here is precisely the one I've linked to above. If there's any doubt in your mind that Richard Lynn has been fairly treated in the material quoted here, I suggest you go take a look at his own 1990 paper, also linked to above. The man is nothing but a quack with tenure.

Those who moan and groan about a "blank slate asymmetry" would be on firmer ground if they weren't so willing themselves to lean on the work of racist charlatans like Richard Lynn and J. Philippe Rushton. It is the height of hypocrisy and illogic to criticize me for only warning against the dangers of genetic determinism (as if I were logically obliged to warn against all evils or none at all), even though one routinely reaches for the worthless research of just such genetic determinists to "rebut" the claims of so-called "human biodiversity deniers." That's a nice catchy riff on the "holocaust denier" phrase, but catchy slogans do not a scientific argument make. If I really were working in a field as chock-full of pseudo-scientific rubbish as the study of human genetic variation has been, I'd go out of my way to avoid being tainted by association with dubious characters, rather than proudly holding up their flapdoodle as "evidence" for my theories.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, the all too common tactic utilized by the fearless champions of "human biodiversity", in which they resort to cheap attacks like retorting "Leon Kamin is a Marxist!" may work with an unsophisticated audience, but it certainly won't wash with me, nor will saying things like "Sowell and Heckman aren't psychologists", to which my response is "So What?" It is a sign of intellectual weakness to draw attention to a man's credentials or political leanings rather than addressing his claims directly: Rushton and Lynn aren't quacks because they are racists (though they are), but because their "work" is founded on selective quotation, egregious misunderstandings and shoddy statistical techniques.