Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Moralistic Fallacy

I didn't catch much of the Channel 4 show "Race and Intelligence: Science's Last Taboo" last night. The pre-show publicity promised that presenter Rageh Omaar would, in a fair-minded way, demolish the claim that ethnicity was in any way involved in differential mental traits such as personality and intelligence. An example of the moralistic fallacy.

I found the programme profiling Warren Buffet over on BBC-2 much more interesting.

However, it would have been impossible for Rageh Omaar to come to any other conclusion in polite society, so strong is the grip of Human Biodiversity Denial if I may utilize a fashionable term of abuse.

A point related to the moralistic fallacy is the framing of this issue in purely moral terms - "it's impolite and demeaning and racist so it's beyond the pale to even discuss the issue unless you're a member of the extreme right and even then you're soft-peddling these days".

What a close-down! The issue of human biodiversity is a scientific one and an evolutionary one in particular and as usual in science one has to frame hypotheses and gather data. Strange how different the discussion is when one approaches it this way, but it will never get on TV.

Here is what I wrote when Watson was demonised, by the way.

I hope the Royal Mail will not lose the letter I sent yesterday deregistering from VAT, not that filling in the form every three months is such a huge chore. A good year puts me firmly in the category of those small businesses which need to pay VAT. However, this year and I anticipate next year are not good years. My trade, designing public telecommunications networks, depends on capital investment flowing through. And there's not much of that.