G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Then again, I believe there is a such thing as forbidden knowledge — that is, knowledge that ought to be suppressed, for the greater good of all. Read Roger Shattuck’s brilliant study of this topic for more.
And this is why I can’t call myself a conservative insofar as conservatism requires a dogmatic collectivism that puts a social and cultural vision axiomatically ahead of truth. The adherence to noble lies prevents me from addressing issues that I consider my self mature enough to handle. This type of ideology plants its own truth and forces Truth to grow around it; I prefer the opposite.
But as far as acceptable suppression goes: First, who decides which knowledge is suppressed? What are their merits? To what extent is the knowledge suppressed – are guns used to assassinate characters or to just plain assassinate? And what factors determine suppression – can we get a Venn diagram or something? Dreher, a Christian, would have been among the many opposing those dissenting voices who dared speak against the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, or those that spoke against geocentrism. Going back further, a person holding Dreher’s view would have opposed unlocking the door of monotheism altogether.
Regardless of how Dreher feels about confronting hard truths, he ignores that knowledge, like winter, is coming. There is no point ducking and hiding; the drunkenness from a keg stand at the Spigot of Truth will hit harder than merely slow slipping it. If there is an uncomfortable truth to be learned might as well learn it now and figure out how to deal with it or transcend the limitations it presents. For the long-term, this will create a more robust society.
Sullivan understands that just because the Nazis made bad use of this stuff doesn’t make it untrue, or unimportant. I get that. But I keep coming back to a point that seems to be the one TNC is making: of what use is this field of study, anyway? Where do we propose to go with it? Andrew’s view is that it’s worth knowing for the reason all truth is worth knowing, and pursuing. In an abstract world, that makes sense. But we don’t live in a world of pure disinterestedness.
I find it more useful to observe the debate surrounding the debate rather than the actual study of race and IQ itself. The responses to the mere mention of between-group differences in IQ are canaries in the coal mine; they let us know exactly to what extent the suppressors of knowledge (contrary to Sullivan’s initial posts, I think suppression in the social sciences and in the mainstream are more of a problem than suppression in intelligence research) will go in stifling debate. And similar reactions help us mark and measure the reactions on other controversial scientific discussions – climate change comes to mind. And for those who do believe that IQ differences are not genetic, engaging in the science and the debate will do much more towards reaching that conclusion than engaging in near-Lysenkoism.
Also, to continue with the “why should we?” question, as Dr. Stephen Ceci offers in an anti-suppression rebuttal to a debate at scientific journal Nature over whether the research into Race and IQ should be conducted in the first place, Dr. James Flynn, the leading proponent of the environment explanation for group IQ differences, attributes his discoveries in the field to the existence of the debate in the first place. Without Arthur Jensen, James Flynn wouldn’t have contributed anything to the field of psychology.
If I were a geneticist, I doubt I would want to work in this field, only because the experience of the 20th century, especially the Holocaust, makes me deeply mistrustful of what human beings will do with the scientific knowledge that this race is intellectually inferior to that race, and we can prove it genetically.
Which is why, if these truths are to be explored, they are best dealt with by “responsible” people who don’t adhere to collectivist ideals. By the way, Nazis were collectivists, no? Libertarian Charles Murray is a good example of the strain of scholars – quite different in goal-orientation that eugenicists – who think that there’s merit to arguments about group IQ differences. Most of these people place the sanctity of humanity above the scope of science. Nazis – and collectivists to a less egregious extent – took accumulated knowledge about certain groups of people and used that to shape society and public policy. The people who are interested in the topic of race and IQ today are most likely to oppose any collectivist lurch against human rights, which is the only fundamental suppression with which we should concern ourselves.
And yet, I am more sympathetic to TNC’s viewpoint because I can’t get around the uses to which the study of racial differences and intelligence was put in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with the eugenics movement. The eugenicists weren’t all racists in the way we understand the term. Eugenics was thoroughly mainstream science, embraced by progressives (Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, et alia) who thought this science would help us improve humanity.
And religion, nationalism, and tribalism were all once widely and barbarically used as rallying-points for war, rape, and murder, yet we don’t automatically eschew those institutions. And as mentioned before, labor unions were once used as tools to push black, minority, and immigrant labor out of the workforce. But I assume that Dreher has been able to “get around” some of those despite their (sometimes) nefarious use.