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"right of center"?
Posted: 16 March 2007 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Brennen, you make a number of good points, and I cannot say I disagree with your general thrust. Just wondering to whom you were directing your message.

:?:

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Posted: 16 March 2007 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Doug,
Sorry, I was responding to Metaphor’s post below:

I’m worried that you think scientists need to justify research on a potential benefit vs harm outcome. If someone has an ideology, they wll peddle it with or without support of empirical data. If they misinterpret the connection between empirical facts and logical consequences, and believe a legitimate empirical finding (let’s say that Asians are shorter than white people on average) supports an irrational or unjustified idea (Asians should not be allowed to play basketball), we need to point out the irrationality. The Church could just as easily argue that evolutionary research is likely to lead to harm by threatening the authority of the Bible. Who decides what counts as harm? It is widely known that illicit drug use is higher in the gay and lesbian community compared to the wider community. This is siezed on by conservative social thinkers to ‘evidence’ their perceived notion of glbt immorality. Other thinkers could just as easily say it is a result of marginalisation of the gay community. Others still could say ‘so what? Drug use shouldn’t be illicit in the first place.’

When publishers did not publish the Danish Islam cartoons only because they feared for the safety of their employees, oppression and censorship had won. When that kind of behaviour is rewarded (ie threatening violence is rewarded by giving in to demands), nobody wins except the people threatening (and in a way, they lose out, too).

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Posted: 16 March 2007 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]Of course I agree, and I said specifically, that no question should be deemed unaskable or unanswerable for political or cultural reasons. And I’m not advocating threatening or intimidating anybody, so watch the creation of straw men here. However, scientists can’t pretend science takes place in a social vacuum and that their work has no consequences. If you decide to investigate better ways of deploying biological weapons, you can’t pretend there’s no ethical issue to consider. Obviously an extreme example, but my point is that scientists live in the world and have their own biases and agendas, and research takes place in a social context. The scientific method does a great deal to correct for bias, but there’s nothing wrong with suggesting scientists consider questions of ethics and practical consequences when choosing lines of inquiry to follow. And in a democracy with a multiplicity of points of view, scientists do have to justify their inquiry to anyone they seek funding from, including the general public if they get their resources from the government.

When you are doing applied technology research like trying to find the best weapons of mass destruction, of course that’s going to have very real consequences. Now to a certain extent, scientists can choose their fields of inquiry and which specific questions they want to answer, but they are at the mercy of proto-capitalist competition for grants too. Ideas in chemoistry and physics in the early half of the 20th century led to the atom bomb, but should researchers have thrown down the glove, even if they could foresee the consequences?

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]You defend the idea that groups and individuals likely vary in basic intellectual ability due, to a significant extent, to inherent genetic factors ( a point which, as I said in the Islamophibia thread I am willing to be educated on if my information is out of date). And yet you haven’t addressed the question of why we should care. What is the value of answering the question? And you seem to feel that it makes no difference if such research, which in the past at least has been poorly conducted and ideologically motivated, leads to great social harm.  It’s naive to say that knowledge of any kind is an end in itself that needs no justification to pursue. I support academic freedom, but I think I have historical justification for being anxious about the value and consequences of research that supports social prejudices our society has struggled so hard to diminish.

Heritability of IQ depends on a number of things, including socioeconomic status. An impoverished environment has the effect of restricting inherited individual differences in IQ, which has the statistical effect of reducing the relationship between intelligence and genes. On the other hand, in high SES environments, most of the variation in IQ is due to inherited factors.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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George Benedik:

Pinker is as political as the Nazis were scientific

Did you look at those links?  If Pinker is NOT political, I am a neo-conservative, capitalist homophobic racist!  It’s not his observations which are political (though they seem to be motivated by political ideas), but his very approach and presentation.  This should worry folks looking to Pinker for science.  But of course, since Pinker is involved in Evolutionary Psychology and not evolutionary psychology (see my threads re David Buller’s analysis of Pinker’s work), it should be clear to see just how much politics is a part of Blank Slate, etc.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 04:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Doug:

Let’s see what other people think.

And who will decide which bunch of folks are correct about Pinker being political ... The folks I cite, or the folks you cite or folks on these forums or other scientists?

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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deleted by the author

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Everyone will decide for himself, Barry. That’s what it means to be a sceptic or a free thinker.

But we certainly aren’t relavatists here… SOMEone must be right?

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