Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Students and hypocrisy, race and orthodoxy

Bookdrunk has a typically fair and measured assessment of the Dr Frank Ellis shenanigans.
In a row that has reignited the debate on the limits of freedom of speech, Frank Ellis, a lecturer in Russian and Slavonic studies, sparked anger after stating, in an interview with the university's student newspaper, that he was an 'unrepentant Powellite' who thought that the BNP was 'a bit too socialist' for his liking.

Ellis said he supported right-wing ideas such as the Bell Curve theory, which held that white people were more intelligent than black people. '[It] has demonstrated to me beyond any reasonable doubt there is a persistent gap in average black and white average intelligence.' Repatriation would get his support, he added, if it was done 'humanely'.

Admirably, the university of Leeds are refusing to sack Dr Ellis on the grounds of free speech. One would imagine that the students—those bright young things, those brilliant flames who are our future—are also supporting Dr Ellis, for free speech is the very essence of our society and are not students the campaigners, nay, the very guardians of this freedom?
Students and lecturers are calling for a Leeds University don to be sacked after he said he supported a theory that black people were inferior to whites.

Now students are preparing to picket his lectures, protest on campus and bombard the vice-chancellor with emails calling for Ellis to be removed from his post.

Oh, apparently not. No, apparently students are reactionary idiots. Who woulda thunk it?

Hanif Leylabi, a student at Leeds and a member of Unite Against Fascism, said: 'Knowing that he's a lecturer and that he holds views that black people are inferior and that women can't achieve the same as men, it's disgusting and certainly not conducive to an academic environment.'

Why not? I would have thought that carrying on a debate with the man—or at least preparing, in your mind, the arguments against what Dr Ellis has said—would stimulate those little, grey cells very well.

I going to go out on a limb here, and throw a statement out into the ether for you people to debate: white people and black people are genetically different. Discuss.

Actually, of course, my question is so vague as to be almost meaningless. Let's try something a little more precise: black people share at least one genetic trait which sets them apart genetically from white people. Discuss.

Well, it is patently obvious that the above statement is true, since there is at least one genetic difference which is also present in the phenotype, i.e. the fact that black people secrete a far higher amount of melanin into the skin than do white people. Otherwise they wouldn't be, well, black.

Now, I've just made a sweeping racial generalisation: is it factually wrong? No. Would some people shoot me down for even saying this? Yeah, sure. Before you do, please note that I merely mention a difference: I did not say that one race was in some way superior to another.

The point that I am, rather clumsily, attempting to make is that we should not allow prejudice to cloud our factual judgement. There are genetic differences between races, and these differences are often valuable to recognise and understand (as with the treatment of such diseases as sickle-cell anaemia, for instance).

I do not agree with Dr Ellis's assessment—as Bookdrunk pointed out, The Bell Curve has been fairly comprehensively debunked. However, given that we must accept that there are, in fact, genetic differences between races, were proof of an intellectual differential to be established, how would we react?

Me, I tend to subscribe to Tim's philosophy.
Assume that the assertion that blacks have a lower IQ is true. By the 6 points or whatever it is claimed. Is this actually useful to us in any way? Is there anything we would, should or could do with this "fact"?

Not really. The variation within the groups is so much vaster that it doesn’t tell us anything useful at all about the individual standing before us. IQ, whatever it is, varies from about 60 (just about capable of walking and talking at the same time) to 150 and more (genius etc). In all groups. Across races, cultures, sexes, regions, countries and so on.

If we are actually to hold on to one of the defining pieces of Western Civilisation (OK, what I regard as one of), that it is the individual, not the group, which is important, then this information, which tells us nothing about the individual at all, is simply irrelevant, not worth worrying about.

Still, what worries me here is that the Leftist orthodoxy is being held up as fact. Let's take this little gem from Greg Mulholland MP, who apparently has some students in his constituency.
'Not to acknowledge that much of the problems experienced by African nations are down to exploitation by Western nations over the years and centuries is simply to ignore the reality of history.'

Well, actually, Greg, that is a severely debateable assertion (as well as being a seriously dodgy sentence). One might wonder, after all, what it was that allowed the Western nations to dominate and exploit the African peoples. One might wonder, in fact, what part the African people played in their own downfall by, for instance, treating with the slave traders. In fact, Greg, to make such a foolishly simplistic statement is to, well, ignore the complexity of history.
Robert McHenry, chairman of the psychology consultancy OPP, said: 'It was developed by white researchers and tested on white populations, so is not suitable for measuring other cultures.' He said the Bell Curve theory was out of date and showed lower achievements among the black population because they were economically worse off.

'There is no scientific data that supports the idea that the difference between blacks and whites is genetic.'

Well done, Robert. So, there is a difference, then?

One suspects that Dr Ellis will be removed anyway, in one way or another; the case has certain parallels with the University of Edinburgh's own erstwhile errant, Chris Brand. Brand, too, said almost exactly the same things as Dr Ellis and he had to go in the end.

So, Dr Ellis: what do you reckon to paedophiles then...?


Katy Newton said...

He's not talking about genetic differences like melatonin secretion, he's talking about inferiority based on skin colour, for which as I understand it there is no support. And he isn't just saying that he believes they are inferior, he has also said that he believes they should be repatriated, which is a step further again.

Now, he is entitled to express his views, worthless though I think they are. But students pay for their degrees these days, and incur serious financial hardship to do it. They are customers. I don't see why they should pay to be taught by someone who not only thinks they are inferior on the basis of their skin colour, but also supports them being expelled from this country. If I go into a shop to buy something, and then hear the man behind the counter saying something which I find offensive, am I violating his right to freedom of speech if I put the item back on the shelf and walk out? That's all they're trying to do.

Katy Newton said...

Just looked at what I've just said and am annoyed by my poor expression. Fact is, I think the students would be entitled to protest and call for him to be sacked whether they are paying their fees or not. That's their freedom of speech. As long as they're not calling for anyone to be killed, of course.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Come on DK, surely you're playing what we used to call "head games" back in the sixties (most of which btw took place in the early seventies).

Free speech is one thing, but downright misinformation masquerading as fact is another matter altogether.

Somewhere in the Declaration of Independence the United States of America, there's a bit about certain truths being self-evident.
One of those truths is certainly that neither one's physical appearance, skin colour, nor sex has any bearing upon the intellect within, and although Dr. Ellis is certainly allowed to express his opinion that it is otherwise, he must not be allowed to teach it as an immutable fact.

Devil's Kitchen said...

He's not talking about genetic differences like melatonin secretion, he's talking about inferiority based on skin colour, for which as I understand it there is no support.

No, he is not saying they are inferior because they are black.

Dr Ellis is saying that the genotype of a certain grouping of humans leads to that grouping having a lower average IQ than another grouping: the grouping with the lower average IQ also happen to be have dark skin. Dr Ellis happens to believe that having a lower IQ than someone else means that you are inferior to that other person.

My point is precisely that, once you admit genotype racial groupings for one phenotypical trait, then you have to allow for them all.

The only really substantial debate is whether or not genotype controls IQ. Dr Ellis obviously thinks that it does: most of the scientific community disagree, or are at the least unsure.

Chairwoman, of course I've playing "head games"; it's fun. On the other hand,

Somewhere in the Declaration of Independence the United States of America, there's a bit about certain truths being self-evident.
One of those truths is certainly that neither one's physical appearance, skin colour, nor sex has any bearing upon the intellect within...

I hadn't realised that the founding fathers of the USA were notable geneticists nor, indeed, that the DoI was a peer-reviewed scientific journal, nor that they were even aware of the concept of genetics at the time (DoI signed: 1776, Gregor Mendel born: 1822).

This is precisely my point; we have what is, at heart, a scientific argument which relies on a particular weak point, and people are quoting the DoI, a document with far less scientific credibility even than Dr Ellis.


Chairwoman of the bored said...

No, of course they weren't geneticists. They were a group of men who understood the use of an elegant phrase, and when I decided to borrow it, I also decided to give them credit for it.

Katy Newton said...

My poor expression again. It's been a long day. Let me rephrase: this bloke believes that black skin is a sign of intellectual inferiority. I think that is pants. He also thinks that black people should be made to leave the country ("humanely", of course), which is also pants. I'm not saying you can't make some generalisations based on race or genetics, and "black people secrete more melanin" is a good example of one of them, but that isn't what we're talking about here. I don't think that the university can sack him if his views don't affect his work and I wouldn't suggest that they should, although I bet their student intake will be considerably lower next year. But nor do I think it's fair to describe the students as "reactionary idiots" because they don't want to be taught by someone who thinks that their race is intellectually inferior to his and that they should go or be sent back to wherever they came from.

(If it was me, I'd take his stupid course, get a First on it if it killed me and then give him the finger on behalf of My People at the end of it. But not everyone is as bloody minded as I am.)

Earl Jackson said...

The Jews think you're inferior to them, but you don't have any choice but to be lectured at in your universities and newspapers by a people who ultimately see you as cattle. Where's the student protests against THAT racism?

Martin said...


I have written so much criticism of 'scientific racism', otherwise called 'race realism', that I've started deleting it. I have also made my peace with its practitioners who, given the abuse I've ladelled out to them, are some of the most gracious people around.

Without endorsing anything Chris Brand has said or written, it's only fair to note for the sake of the record's completeness that he was awarded £12,000 compensation for wrongful dismissal.

And, again, it's only fair to Brand to point out that if he expresses dodgy views on the practice of 'ephebophilia', he gets canned; if Germaine Greer does it, her book gets a puff in the 'Daily Telegraph'.


The logical conclusion of the thinking behind your first comment is that a degree is nothing more than a commodity, awarded on payment of the price.

We might have that someday, but not yet. And repatriation was BNP policy at the 2005 general election.

Presumably Ellis is a British citizen and taxpayer and thus theoretically entitled to not only believe but also say what he thinks. If his studentoconsumers are offended by his beliefs, tough. As no student of Russian literature, I might be wrong but I would have thought there would seem to be little likelihood of them ever being aired in his lectures; so at the moment there are no grounds for his dismissal on that basis.

The most recent example of a race realist being disciplined by their university is that of Andrew Fraser, a constitutional law professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, who was suspended for writing a letter to his local paper noting a correlation between increased African immigration and increased crime. Macquarie has since reinstated him.

What interests me most about this business is whether Ellis's professional body is affirming his right to free speech by calling for the mass rustification of his students; and what protection it's affording him from the attentions of career race bullies.


You are a much more accomplished biologist than I am - however, in such matters I take as my bible, and the inspiration for my old screen name, Matt Ridley's 'Genome'.

Ridley acknowledges the existence of race-IQ studies, but also notes that IQ can best be guessed as being 50% heritable, 50% environmental. Ridley also notes the outcome of a comparative study performed on children in the UK and Zambia. The Brit kids outperformed the Zambian kids on the pen and paper IQ test, but the Zambians consistently outperformed the Brits on an IQ test that used wire models.

Such observations make a nonsense of requests for 'culturally fair' IQ tests. What one should have are 'biologically fair' IQ tests, because race as a reality does exist. On an extremely low level, the low number of black swimming champions in relation to the high number of black track champions makes the point every time around.

My own opinion is that common culture is vastly more important than race. Attempts by race realists and racial nationalists like Jared Taylor to link the post-Katrina chaos in New Orleans to the race of the rioters failed because they did not factor in other matters such as a high local level of multi-generational welfare dependency.

As you know, I'm a Glaswegian. At the time, I speculated on whether or not the riots in New Orleans were unique, or would be repeated if Hurricane Archie came blazing up the Clyde. My conclusion is that unfortunately they would - and the only thing that Glasgow has in common with New Orleans is a culture of multi-generational welfare dependency.

Similarly, Taylor's attempts to invoke race as a factor in higher levels of criminality amongst American blacks, citing their high incarceration rate, fail when one realises that the British prison population contains a statistically far higher proportion of Roman Catholics than adherents of other faiths.

Again, it can only be a cultural, not racial, issue; and although this is 'The Devil's Kitchen', I should say that I myself am Catholic, before I'm denounced in the pages of 'The Tablet'.

Interest in the study of IQ seems to be a very American thing. Historically, it seems to be the case that IQ testing has played a very much more prominent role in their society than in ours, whether from its use to determine the suitability of potential immigrants pre 1924 to the testing conducted to determine the suitability of Army recruits; the belief that 'diversity is strength', with its outcome of economic disadvantage being suffered by qualified whites, has seeped far deeper into their culture than ours; and interest by whites in racial difference, eventually leading to the erroneous and idiotic racial nationalism of the BNP and American Renaissance, is, as Peter Brimelow has very astutely noted, a natural consequence of multiculturalism - if non-white racial groups are encouraged to develop senses of ethnic identity, why can't whites?

It's an unanswerable argument.

I share the same belief as Tim Worstall and yourself in the primacy of the individual. However, if one is being honest we are proved wrong every day. The murders which are regularly perpetrated in this town after Old Firm games are bloody evidence of how easily tribalism seeps into cultures steeped in the traditions of Western civilisation.

Very uncivilised; not very Western; and a challenge to the principles of civil society which Glaswegian culture and some elements of wider Scottish culture consistently fail to overcome.

However, we should continue to huddle in the lifeboat.

By the way, don't you think Earl seems to have mistaken this site for 'Rense', or 'Stormfront'?

Katy Newton said...


I don't for a moment think that someone who doesn't do any work during their degree course is entitled to insist on a degree at the end of it because he paid his fees and I don't think you can have seriously thought that that was what I meant. Students pay to be taught a degree course. Whether they pass it or not is up to them unless the teaching isn't up to scratch. But the payment is neither here nor there, as I realised after I had written it, hence my second comment. The important point is: if this lecturer is entitled to give an interview in a newspaper in which he says that he considers black people to be intellectually inferior to white people and that he believes they should be sent back to wherever they came from, even if they are British citizens and perfectly entitled to be here, then why are his students "reactionary idiots" for saying that they don't like his views and they believe he should be sacked, even though there may be no basis in employment law for doing so?

Devil's Kitchen said...


Because I suspect that not one of them has actually gone and done any research into the subject. As one student spokesperson said: 'Knowing that he's a lecturer and that he holds views that black people are inferior and that women can't achieve the same as men, it's disgusting and certainly not conducive to an academic environment.'

There's no "I've looked into the research that he cites and it is debunked in such and such a paper" or "He is wrong because IQ does not rely on genetics".

I know that I am being slightly harsh on the students here, but I still guarantee that the organised protests will be, in fact, knee-jerk reaction without consulting or considering any research.

The debateable point of my post was that, in fact, there could be a scientific basis for what Dr Ellis has said. However, there is little evidence for his views, which is why I signposted Bookdrunk's post, which posts some interesting and necessary links.

What also interests me is what would happen if there were found to be a scientific basis for Dr Ellis's assertions on IQ; would the reaction be just as knee-jerk?

Katy Newton said...

There are undoubtedly problems between races or cultures which are caused by differences between them, and I agree that people seem to find it very difficult to discuss those problems rationally, and prefer to pretend that there are no differences between cultures at all. I find that naive, patronising and counterproductive. No child of mine will be singing "Baa baa happy sheep", I can tell you that. But this Dr Ellis situation is not in the same category, and I'm not sure that it is fair to describe the students' reaction as knee-jerk because they didn't go and read up before they started protesting. I suggest that it is obvious to any open-minded, non-prejudiced person who spends any time with people of different races that there is no discernible difference in intelligence between races. That is what my day to day experience has led me to believe, and no theoretical argument based on such an unreliable and imprecise measure as IQ will lead me to change my mind. The very concept of "intelligence" is too subjective; there is a strong argument that IQ tests only really rate your ability to do IQ tests.

So although I often do try to do some research before I take issue with someone's viewpoint, in this case I didn't think, "Hmm, I must read up on that before I judge it as a theory." My thoughts were more along the lines of, "That's obviously bollocks, I know that from my own experience, and only someone who desperately wanted to believe that they were a member of some uber-white master race would give it the time of day."

Katy Newton said...

What I mean is, it's easy to get too hung up on rebutting technical arguments. Some things are just obviously not true. If someone wrote a complicated scientific argument which "proved" that the sun sets in the East, you could spend several weeks arduously rebutting every single point that they had raised with competing scientific theories, or you could just say, "I've watched the Sun set every night of my life since I can remember and it always sets in the West. Sorry."

Devil's Kitchen said...


Although, whether that will apply if, as is predicted, the earth's magnetic field flips around in a couple of hundred years; will magnetic north actually be what we presently call south (in which case the sun would set in the east) or will everyone go about imploring you to remember that the needle always points south? ;-)

We are talking about a relatively small difference in average IQ by the way and, once again, you have brought up precisely my point. One could say, for instance, that the black people that were able to afford to make it to this country were the cleverer ones (remember, we are talking about a lower average IQ here), since they had managed to earn themselves enough money to emigrate.

Those black people that you have met on your own terms are those in this country so, under the theory above, you are already interacting with a statistically anomalous sample. One assumes that you are also not regularly interacting with the very poorest blacks and therefore your sample is further skewed.

I am not attempting to give Ellis's views credence, but the idea that they can be dismissed because they are self-evidently wrong is, I'm afraid, simply not true.


Katy Newton said...

Dammit, DK, you know I get confused by geography and directions and stuff. Stop that.

The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think IQ is a proper measure of intelligence, so his argument doesn't get off the ground for me. If they measure anything, and they have been hugely discredited, IQ tests measure a person's response to a particular type of formal schooling. They assume that the people who take the tests are literate, numerate, have had schooling in how to do the sort of problems which turn up in IQ tests, and have been paying attention in class. They don't measure talent or flair or business acumen or mechanical skills or emotional empathy or common sense or any of the other attributes that I would class as intelligence. They are only a valid measure of intelligence if you think that only people who have had formal schooling can be intelligent, and I don't agree with that. So even if you could demonstrate, indisputably, that there was a lower average IQ in black people generally than in white people, as far as I am concerned that would only mean that black people got lower marks in one form of testing. It wouldn't mean that they are less intelligent. And I do think that's obvious.

Katy Newton said...

If IQ tests really measured intelligence mine would obviously have been much, much higher than everyone else's.

jonjayray said...

The "debunking" of the race/IQ connection is wishful thinking

See here:


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