Response to “Walk out on Charles Murray”

Jonathan Anomaly, Duke Chronicle, October 24, 2013

In his polemical column in the October 21 edition of The Chronicle, Prashanth Kamalakanthan calls for students to stage a “walk out” at the upcoming Charles Murray talk on Monday, October 28. But the arguments he offers to support his recommendation mix misleading empirical claims with misguided moral assumptions.

The author clearly suggests (though does not explicitly say) that if scientists find data indicating statistically significant differences between human groups, these scientists must be racist or sexist and that the best explanation of the findings is that racist, sexist financiers funded the research. There are several reasons this is a fallacious and dangerous leap of logic.

First, there is quite a bit of convergence among geneticists and psychologists on the idea that there are biological differences between groups of human beings. We’re all familiar with the fact that people from certain tribes in East Africa tend to dominate long distance running events, while West Africans (and their descendants in Jamaica and the Americas) fair better at sprint events. A fascinating new book by David Epstein titled “The Sports Gene” explores the biological basis of this and many other physical differences. Less familiar, perhaps, is the robust finding among intelligence researchers like Charles Murray’s late co-author, Richard Herrnstein, that IQ is partly heritable and that certain groups have higher average IQs than other groups, even when education and other environmental factors are accounted for.

Who are these groups? It’s not the white Europeans that fit so neatly with Kamalakanthan’s conspiratorial narrative. In fact, nearly all IQ researchers—including Herrnstein and Murray—have argued that East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest IQs in the world. So much for the idea that Murray’s findings support his privileged position as a (non-Jewish) white male.


Finally, the author’s insidious slide between science and morality makes our commitment to the equal worth of human beings depend precariously on empirical findings. But as Peter Singer argued many years ago, equality as a moral principle should not be predicated on equality of ability. There are differences between individuals, and average differences between groups of individuals. Evolution works by generating different combinations of genes and sifting out those that create bodies and behaviors that are relatively bad at making more copies of themselves, so it would be bizarre if people were biologically identical in all relevant respects. If equality is a moral ideal rather than a scientific claim, research into individual or group differences—whatever it finds—is no threat to equality. Denying people the opportunity to speak about controversial research does little to promote the equal right of persons to express unpopular views.

[Editor’s Note: For more on the staged walkout of Charles Murray’s lecture, see yesterday’s posting.]

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  • Manaphy

    Liberals can’t stand to hear counterarguments to their beliefs, so they just “walk out” on people who hold opposing views.

    • Do not think that this wasn’t planned.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      Would that they WOULD walk out — often they become physically violent against those who hold opposing views.

      Professor Rushton had his classes disrupted to the point where campus bodyguards had to be hired for his security.

      When Professor Jensen published “How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?” (which concluded that Head Start is a failure), students and faculty staged large, loud protests outside his University of California, Berkeley office, and he received multiple death threats. He was even denied reprints of his work by his publisher and was not permitted to reply in response to letters of criticism – both extremely unusual and exceptional policies for their day.

      Jensen’s lectures were videotaped for his personal safety.

      For a long time Jensen received death threats, needed body guards while on his campus or others, had his home and office phones routed through the police station, received his mail only after a bomb squad examined it, was physically threatened or assaulted dozens of times by protesters disrupting his talks in the United States and abroad, regularly found messages like “Jensen Must Perish” and “Kill Jensen” scrawled across his office door, and much more.


    • Bill

      OR, they pre-plan to have a bunch of them get into the class/presentation/seminar and raise holy hell disallowing the speaker to speak more than two words. I really think somebody should arrest them, sit them down in a room, and make them watch two videos. One, of them disrupting the class. The second, a video of brown shirts disrupting a competing political rally, union meeting, or voting poll. Then ask those idiots if they NOW realize that THEY are the true nazis.

  • JohnEngelman

    If Jonathan Anomaly keeps his job with the Duke Chronicle the thought control of political correctness are weakening.

    • a multiracial individual

      Anomaly is an (untenured) professor. Apparently he has no desire to carve out a career in academia.


      • LolKatzen

        Is that his real name, Anomaly? Sounds like he is an anomaly.

    • LolKatzen

      His responses to commenters on the site are rather lame. Example

      Charles Murray almost certainly will oversimplify the data, as he has before, and I don’t want to defend everything he’s said. I simply wrote the column to defend his right to say it, and to defend the idea that claims about average group differences do not automatically make one a racist (as the author to whom I responded implied), and are not automatically false (even if we’d like them to be false).

      I agree that IQ is a very limited measure of intelligence, though I doubt that it’s useless. I learned this not from Murray, but from reading peer-reviewed articles written by intelligence researchers. Like all scientific enterprises, some intelligence research is based on dubious data, and some is tinged by racism or sexism, but there is a surprising amount of agreement on the basic facts, and it does have some predictive power — IQ, if nothing else, is a powerful predictor of people’s life prospects, expected academic success, etc.

      • M.

        Indeed. IQ tests are not useless, and definitely not biased towards some races as their opponents like to argue.

        I stumbled upon a debate in the comments section of an article I read a couple months ago, and the proponent of IQ-tests made some really good points. I kept this excerpt from one of his comments:

        “I can develop a test that is COMPLETELY non-biased! Wanna see it? Ok, here’s the first question on the test:

        1) What color was the snowman’s hat?
        a) Red
        b) Blue
        C) Yellow

        Here’s the 2nd question:

        2) If a house is 30 feet tall, how tall is it’s garage?
        a) Umbrella
        b) Mailbox
        c) Peanut Butter Sandwich

        Now THAT Mike is a completely UNBIASED test. Why? Because there’s no way that ANYONE of ANY RACE can determine the correct answer by the information given. It is a truly MEANINGLESS TEST!

        Now let’s take this concept further. Imagine that these “nonsense” questions actually DO have a correct answer. For example, let’s say the correct answer for question #1 is C) Yellow and the correct answer for question #2 is B) Mailbox.

        OK, now let’s imagine that we have a WHOLE TEST full of nonsense questions just like this. Now we give this “nonsense test” to 100 Whites, 100 Blacks and 100 Asians. Which race will score better?

        Answer: All races will score REMARKABLY SIMILAR. Why? Because each test taker- regardless of skin color- will have to resort to RANDOM GUESSING. You see, in a TRULY meaningless test, Blacks, Whites and Asians will score pretty much equally. But in a MEANINGFUL test (one that measures actual knowledge, reaction times, conceptual ability, etc) that’s when the racial differences in test scores start to show.

        Bottom line: IQ tests are NOT meaningless and they DO measure SOMETHING – and if they didn’t measure anything (like my nonsense questions) then no large disparity in test scores would appear.”

        • LolKatzen

          I love the example of the meaningless test! I think I’ll keep it too.

        • WR_the_realist

          Yes. There are two ways to make a test that will satisfy the liberals by showing that all races are the same. Make it so hard that nobody gets any questions right, or make it so easy that everyone gets every question right.

      • Murray wrote that IQ tests have flaws but they are so useful because they’ve been administered over such a long time (since the early 1900’s I think) that they comprise a large body of statistically useful information.

        They were used by the military in our wars: maybe even including WW-I (1917-1918 for US entry) which means they were given to thousands or maybe millions of individuals.

        A better test could be developed today but there would be now all sorts of PC restrictions about who gets tested.

  • bigone4u

    I went to the Duke website and read the student comments to this piece, along with Prof Anomaly’s responses to them. It’s disheartening to read the mush written by brainwashed students. Anomaly, to his credit, is patient with them, although if you read his responses, you will see that he is far from a realist when it comes to race.

  • Nathanwartooth

    Comments are just politically correct garbage as usual.

    Can’t blame the professor though. He doesn’t want to get attacked by self righteous “anti racists”.

  • Spartacus

    “In fact, nearly all IQ researchers—including Herrnstein and Murray—have
    argued that East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews have the highest IQs in the


    Their IQ may be higher, but their creativity is certainly lacking. Take for example black powder – The Chinese invented it, and had a virtual monopoly over it for several centuries. They just used it for fireworks…

    When European explorers arrived in China and got the secret of how to make the stuff and sent it home in Europe, in the next decades Whites developed hundreds of uses for it, most famously by making it into gun powder, but also using it for other things, including mining and even agriculture .

    By the way, is this guy’s name really Anomaly ?

  • Spartacus

    I realize that, but it still doesn’t change the fact that Whites are more creative than Asians, both in absolute as well as per capita terms. I like them myself, to be honest, so I do not mean it as an insult . It’s just an objective and undeniable fact .

  • Spartacus

    No, the devices developed in China did not have the necessary characteristics to be considered firearms, which is why they’re referred to as “fire lances” and not firearms .

    “The development of gunpowder in the fire lance to have enough force
    to hurl a killing projectile was a key step along the development of the
    first true guns.

    This weapon paved the way for further improvements to gunpowder weapons and is the direct ancestor of the modern-day firearm and artillery.”


  • Spartacus

    As for the Ashkenazis’ contribution to technology… You’re not even close .

  • DaveMed

    Yes, these are always staged.

  • mrcan

    Perhaps Kalamakanthan does not wish it to be known that not all Asians are the same. In fact his South Asian ancestry is not considered to be too smart for the most part. They are the darker skinned Caucasians and were always considered Caucasians until the politically correct lumped all Asians together to create confusion. Its now politically incorrect to make obvious comparative differences between different human populations if you are a White Westerner.

    • M.

      They’re not real Caucasians. They’re a distinct ethnicity but racially mongrels. Statisticians classify them as “Caucasians” because they don’t know where the hell to put them.
      Same goes for Arabs, Turks, Persians, and other in-between peoples.

    • John

      You’re absolutely correct and anyone that has spent time around a lot of Asians knows this. We had a lot of boat people working for a business I was at in the early 80s and the Vietnamese were invariably smarter than their close (Asian geography) neighbors, Cambodians. Vietnamese had finer features, were more fair to look at and and in coloring too and generally more intelligent. Most of the Cambodians were dumb as rocks but to give the devil his due, all hard workers even so. Cambodians had coarser hair, facial features and darker complexions as well. In explaining this difference to my wife the other day, the analogy I used was Vietnamese: Cambodians are as Whites: Africans or “Latinos”.

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        The Cambojans belong to the same linguistic group as the Vietnamese, which is called Austro-Asiatic, but racially they are mixed with Australoid blood, while the Vietnamese are pure Mongolian. As always, its a matter of race.

  • Although the Chinese invented black powder, they really didn’t use it for effective weapons. By the 1400’s Europe was already making iron cannons and exporting them, and some of this technology was purchased by Ottoman Turks for the assault on Constantinople. By the early 16th century (1500’s) the English were already experimenting with long range naval cannon. The Chinese were basically using the stuff for fireworks until the 19th century when a British fleet showed them what the stuff could do & leveled a city.

    However I have no problems with Orientals being possibly smarter in average than many Occidentals. They probably aren’t smarter than me, and even if they are, I am not aggressive towards them and they are not towards me.

  • Snowhitey

    That is so untrue! Ashkenazim are good at scientific research and medicine. However, did you know that Einstein never gave credit to a lot of the work he plagiarized from earlier German physicists (non-Jewish I might add)? Occidental Dissent dot com has a good article on it. Who invented the combustion engine, electricity, automobile, airplane, submarine, refrigerator, telephone (cell phone too), elevator, modern hygiene practices, etc.? Not a Jew among the group. Although a primitive form of firearm originated in China (fire lances), the modern firearm is the brainchild of Europeans. We tend to improve things to levels unmatched by any other people. That was the point of Spartacus’s comment. Please gets your facts straight.

  • NeanderthalDNA

    That’s what they do.

  • Brian

    I wish these idiots would stage a permanent walkout from America.

  • Chris Granzow XI

    Nikola Tesla was far more advanced and innovative than Einstein ever was. I’m afraid the only reason Einstein receives so much more recognition though is because of his ethnicity.

  • Chris Granzow XI

    Hmm, touché. Edison and Westinghouse both screwed over Tesla. Still though, Edison hasn’t been given the cult-like status that Einstein has. People don’t say “…well you know, he isn’t exactly Thomas Edison..” but they do for Einstein; not to mention the numerous businesses and brands named after him.

  • Hierophant2

    “If equality is a moral ideal rather than a scientific claim, research
    into individual or group differences—whatever it finds—is no threat to
    equality. Denying people the opportunity to speak about controversial
    research does little to promote the equal right of persons to express
    unpopular views.”
    What a wonderful example of equivocation. It should be in logic textbooks. More proof that conservatives don’t understand basic logic.