Is anyone else here disturbed over the recent Harvard incident where Stephanie Grace's perfectly reasonable email where she merley expreses agnosticism over the posiblity that the well documented IQ differences between groups are partially genetic is worthy of harsh and inaccurate condemnation from the Harvard Law school dean?

I feel sorry for the girl since she trusted the wrong people (the email was alegedly leaked by one of her girlfriends who got into a dispute with her over a man). We need to be extra carefull to selfcensure any rationalist discusions... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

Showing 3 of 9 replies (Click to show all)

We have a very long thread about a not very interesting subject, but it has finally made me annoyed. I hope it does not show too much because I accept that being polite is important.

1)Nature or nurture, genetics or environment, is a discredited dichotomy. Both are probably active at the same time for each and every aspect of intelligence (as they would be for any complex trait). Not only is it unlikely to be one or the other, it is unlikely to be x% for one and 1-x% for the other. They are too interwoven and the patterns of interactive too individual and u... (Read more)(Click to expand thread. ⌘F to Expand All)Cmd/Ctrl F to expand all comments on this post

11Nick_Tarleton10y See Michael Vassar's discussion of this phenomenon [http://www.transhumanism.org/index.php/th/more/548/]. Also, I think that people discussing statements they see as dangerous often implicitly (and unconsciously) adopt the frames that make those statements dangerous, which they (correctly) believe many people unreflectively hold and can't easily be talked out of, and treat those frames as simple reality, in order to more simply and credibly call the statement and the person who made it dangerous and Bad.
0Morendil10y I'm more directly disturbed by the bias present in your exposition: "perfectly reasonable", "merely expresses agnosticism", "well documented", "harsh and inaccurate". Starting off a discussion with assorted applause lights [http://lesswrong.com/lw/jb/applause_lights/] and boo lights [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ry/boo_lights_groupthink_edition/] strikes me as unlikely to lead to much insight. What would be likely to lead to useful insight? Making use of the tools LessWrong's mission is to introduce us to, such as the applications of Bayesian reasoning. "Intelligence has a genetic component" strikes me as a causal statement [http://lesswrong.com/lw/is/fake_causality/]. If it is, we ought to be able to represent it formally as such, tabooing [http://lesswrong.com/lw/nu/taboo_your_words/] the terms that give rise to cognitive muddles, until we can tell precisely what kind of data would advance our knowledge on that topic. I've only just cracked open Pearl's Causality, and started playing with the math, so am still very much an apprentice at such things. (I have my own reasons to be fooling with that math, which are not related to the race-IQ discussion.) But it has already convinced me that probability and causality are deep topics which it's very easy to draw mistaken conclusions about if you rely solely on a layman's intuition. For instance, "the well documented IQ differences between groups" are purely probabilistic data, which tell us very little about causal pathways generating the data, until and unless we have either controlled experiments, or further data sets which do discriminate between the competing causal models (only very grossly distinguished into "nature" and "nurture"). I don't know if the email you quoted (thanks for that, BTW, it's a treat to have access to a primary source without needing to chase it down) is racist, but it does sound very ignorant to me. It makes unwarranted inferential leaps, e.g. from "skin and hair color are definitely genet

Open Thread: May 2010

by Jack 10y1st May 20101 min read557 comments

3


You know what to do.

This thread is for the discussion of Less Wrong topics that have not appeared in recent posts. If a discussion gets unwieldy, celebrate by turning it into a top-level post.