J.P. RUSHTON AND HBD RACIAL "EVOLUTIONARY' CLAIMS DEBUNKED
Africanist archaeology and ancient IQ: racial science and cultural evolution in the twenty-first century
Scott MacEachern. World Archaeology. (2006). Vol. 38(1): 72-92 Race, Racism and Archaeology
Over the last two decades, a number of psychometric researchers have claimed that very substantial differences in intelligence exist among modern human racial groups, as these groups are traditionally defined. According to these researchers, African populations suffer severe cognitive deficits when compared to other modern humans. Philippe Rushton, particularly, places these claimed mental deficits in an evolutionary context, advancing environmental explanations for such deficits and asserting that such cognitive differences existed prehistorically as well. Such substantial cognitive differences should be evident in human behavioural patterns, and thus in the archaeological record. Archaeological data can thus be used to test these claims about human evolutionary development and modern human cognitive difference. Examination of the archaeological record does not support the claims made by these researchers. This suggests that regional differences in IQ test score results should not be ascribed to variations in human evolutionary development.
Behaviour, selection and African environments
There are three basic elements in Rushton’s theorization of human difference. First, he amasses a large amount of material on physical, behavioural and social differences between the groups that form the popularly accepted triptych of human races: ‘Negroids’, ‘Caucasoids’ and ‘Mongoloids’ (Rushton 2000: 17–183; see also Rushton and Bogaert 1987: 265–8). The scope of these topics is very wide: it includes material on brain size, IQ (and related) test scores, dental development, speed of sexual maturation, age of first intercourse, life span, number of sexual fantasies, penis size, number of multiple births, permissive attitudes toward sex, aggressiveness, law-abidingness, ‘mental durability’, AIDS rates, cultural achievements and much more. Most striking, and most relevant for this paper, is Rushton’s (2000: 133–7; see also Rushton and Skuy 2000) acceptance of Richard Lynn’s (1991b, 2003; Lynn and Vanhanen 2002: 197–225) claim that the average IQ test score of African populations is approximately IQ¼70. In the psychiatric literature, this correlates to a state of borderline mental retardation (American Psychiatric Association 1994), implying that the great majority of African people living today suffer some degree of cognitive deficit, ranging from mild to very severe. Rushton ranks the three races on the basis of these assembled characteristics (Rushton 2000: 5, 119, 148, 152, 162, 166, 168, 171, 214).
He has stated on many occasions that this is a straightforward scientific description of humanity, but it is clear that any taxonomy describing Africans, for example, as less intelligent, more promiscuous, less altruistic, more aggressive, less law abiding, investing less effort in child-rearing and less culturally developed than Europeans or Asians – as Rushton’s taxonomy does – is also a ranking of fundamental human worth. Rushton’s accumulation of these data and the uses that he makes of them have been very stringently critiqued (see, for example, Brace 1996; Czernovsky 1995; Graves 2002b; Lieberman 2001; Peters 1995), and that critique need not be repeated here. However, it should be noted that the sources, characteristics and quality of his data are diverse, and often of extremely low reliability. Rushton’s use of late Victorian travel pornography (‘French Army Surgeon’ 1896) as a central reference on human sexual characteristics and behaviours is perhaps the most egregious use of poor-quality data, but it is very far from being the only one. His data on racial differences in intelligence test scores is taken from wildly disparate sources ranging over the last century (Rushton 2000: 38–9, 135–7), including sources using techniques that even advocates of IQ testing have dismissed as ‘primitive’ and unreliable (Jensen 1988). Many of his demographic data – on longevity and reproductive rates, for example – have been subject to large-scale fluctuations even within populations and in relatively short periods of time, making it unlikely that such comparative measures have any evolutionary underpinnings.
The second element in Rushton’s theorization of racial differentiation involves accounting for the biological basis of the data accumulated. He hypothesizes that the ‘Mongoloid’, ‘Caucasoid’ and ‘Negroid’ racial groups have been subjected to different natural selection pressures over evolutionary timescales, and that because of this these racial groups have evolved different life-history strategies. This hypothesis makes use of the r-/K-selection schema, developed by MacArthur and Wilson (1967) as a method of modeling density-dependent natural selection. The consequences of these different reproductive strategies are, according to Rushton, to be found in the data on physical, behavioural and social differences between races amassed in earlier sections of the book.
In the formulation used by Rushton, r-selected species, adapted to unstable, rapidly fluctuating environments, evolve reproduction strategies with prolific production of offspring and relatively low parental investment in individual offspring, while K-selected species, adapted to more stable environments, produce relatively lower numbers of offspring but invest more care in each. Rushton (1987, 2000: 199–216; see also Rushton and Bogaert 1987) then claims that ‘Negroid’ populations, in particular, are more r-selected than are ‘Caucasoid’ populations, which are in turn more r-selected than ‘Mongoloid’ populations. In essence, Africans are held to invest bodily resources more heavily in sex and impulsiveness/aggression, while Europeans and Asians are supposed to invest such resources more heavily in intelligence, altruism and restraint. While Rushton does claim that ‘Negroids’ are only relatively r-selected, the data that he amasses give the impression of very substantial differences between these racial groups, an impression eagerly seized by racists around the world.
It might be objected that a concentration on ‘Negroid’ characteristics, vis-a`-vis those of the other major races, imputes an unfair racializing subtext to Rushton’s work, because he situates the three major races along an r- to K-selected continuum: ‘Negroids’ – ‘Caucasoids’ – ‘Mongoloids’. However, in practice (see below), ‘Caucasoids’ and ‘Mongoloids’ are lumped together as temperate-/cold-climate races against the tropically adapted ‘Negroids’ throughout this work (e.g. Rushton 2000: 199, 262). In other writings (Rushton and Horowitz 1999), Rushton speculates upon temperamental differences that might disadvantage ‘Orientals’ in scientific and cultural achievements vis-a`-vis ‘Whites’. In the theories of modern racial scientists, the higher IQ scores of ‘Mongoloids’ cannot be held to imply significant intellectual superiority over ‘Caucasoids’.
This element of Rushton’s work has also been strenuously critiqued (Anderson 1991; Graves 2002a, 2002b; Silverman 1990; Weizman et al. 1990). There are very serious doubts about the utility of the r-/K-selection model as an explanation for behavioural differences among and especially within animal species, especially when the concept is generalized far beyond its origins (Boyce 1984; Stearns 1992). There exist many cases in which the predictions of this theory do not hold (Graves 2002a: 66–7), and a number of characteristics of Rushton’s three racial groups – most notably body size – do not fit the model. The linkages between r-/K-selection and the characteristics that Rushton associates with those different forms of selection are quite unclear (Weizman et al. 1990: 4–5). Finally, Rushton has never satisfactorily established the environmental circumstances in which his different racial groups were exposed to these different selection pressures. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Rushton turned to an r-/K-selection model because of a fairly impressionistic resemblance between that model and his image of ‘racial’ variability, and that he then tuned the model to fit his assumptions.
It is at this point – when we begin to speak about the ancestors of modern humans as evolving populations in particular environments – that palaeoanthropology and archaeology become important to Rushton’s account. He claims that ‘Negroid’ populations differ from ‘Caucasoids’ and ‘Mongoloids’ because the former evolved only in tropical Africa, while the latter groups moved out of Africa into colder climates (Rushton 2000: 199, 217–33, 262–4). There are two components to this explanation: tropical African environments are less stable and less predictable than are temperate and cold environments (thus favouring r-selected strategies of prolific reproduction and low parental investment in offspring), and in addition temperate and cold climates posed cognitive demands upon ‘Caucasoid’ and ‘Mongoloid’ populations not experienced by those peoples living in balmier climes. It should be emphasized that only the first of these components involves r-/K-selection theory; the second derives in large part from speculations about the evolution of intelligence published by Richard Lynn (1987, 1991a). (Lynn (2003: 141), in fact, seems to be claiming that modern Africans are cognitively unchanged descendants of the hominids that occupied Africa 250,000 years ago.) This bipartite explanation is supplemented by archaeological data that Rushton claims support his thesis.
Less attention has been paid to this last component of Rushton’s model than to other elements of his work (but see Graves 2002a: 71–4; Lieberman 2001: 79), in part because there are so many other obvious targets for criticism in his work and in part because most of this critique has come from psychologists and biological anthropologists. It remains, however, central to Rushton’s accounting of difference between his three racial groups. He is concerned with producing an integrated explanation of the differences between those groups, and to do this using r-/K-selection theory he must account for the origins of these differences in an evolutionary context. This requires engagement with archaeological and palaeoanthropological data. There is also a long tradition of appeals to environmental differences in racialist descriptions of African peoples. In almost all such cases, Africans are held to be cognitively disadvantaged, either because African environments are so benevolent that they provide a reduced cognitive challenge to African populations (cf. Herder 1968: 297; Kant 1997 : 46), or because those environments are so hostile to humanity that they inhibit the intellectual development of those populations (cf. Cornelius de Pauw in Duchet 1969: 123). Rushton’s explanation uniquely combines elements of both of these models.
His approach shares another characteristic with many eighteenth-century accounts of human racial variation: it treats continental land-masses as undifferentiated geographical units, each characterized by a particular set of prevailing environmental conditions. Thus, African environments are collapsed to subtropical savannas, which are prone to unpredictable droughts and ‘devastating viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases’ (Rushton 2000: 231), while Europe and Asia are similarly characterized as cold (but predictable) arid tundra and glacial landscapes.We are never told why all African savannas are supposed to be prone to unpredictable droughts or the reason for believing that tropical and subtropical plant foods are going to be available year-round (Rushton 2000: 228). We are not told why dispersed tropical foragers should be prone to devastating diseases that are now associated with higher-density, agricultural lifeways (see, for example, Armelagos et al. 1991; Barnes 2005; Tishkoff et al. 2001). We are never told why Rushton believes that ‘Mongoloids’ evolved in Siberia (Rushton 2000: 229), rather than further south in Asia. We are never told why environmental predictability is characteristic of temperate and Arctic climates, while unpredictability reigns in Africa. (Apparently, the only sort of seasonality that Rushton recognizes is that between summers and winters; the equally predictable and often very challenging cycling between wet and dry seasons in many areas of Africa is unknown to him.) Examples could be multiplied. Rushton simply asserts that racial evolution took place as he says, without providing evidence.
His archaeological and historical evidence is a similar mishmash of unsubstantiated assertions and obsolete ideas. At various points, Rushton claims: that natural brush fires would have been unknown in Eurasia during glacial periods, and because of this human production of fire would have been more challenging there than in Africa; that clothing and shelter were unnecessary for prehistoric African populations; that Middle Stone Age Africans could ‘barely’ be considered big game hunters because they lacked bows and arrows; that the greater numbers of known Cro-Magnon sites in Europe indicate that those people were more successful than those same MSA Africans; that ‘Mongoloid’ populations entered the New World between 40,000 and 24,000 years ago (as part of a classic evolutionary just-so story that purports to explain the lower IQ test scores of Native American peoples); and that Africans and south-east Asians never developed agriculture (Rushton 2000: 224–33). He further (Rushton 2000: 142) makes use of John Baker’s (1974) racist and unsystematic list of twenty-one ‘criteria for civilization’ – which begins to evaluate cultural advance by scoring the amount of clothing that people wear and ends with criteria like ‘some appreciation of the fine arts’ – in order to dismiss African and American cultural achievements. Again, examples can be multiplied.
In the early 1990s, as today, exposure to an introductory university course in world prehistory would equip an undergraduate to dismiss such a farrago of elementary errors and distortions. Rushton’s account of human cultural development is one that systematically valorizes cultural developments in Europe and (to a lesser extent) Asia, while denigrating such developments by peoples of Africa, the Americas and Australia, with no serious attention paid to the quality of his data. His sources for these claims derive only to a minor degree from archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists, but come rather from Richard Lynn and Edward Miller, respectively a psychologist and an economist, who share his views on race and the racial inferiority of Africans. It would be more surprising to see such claims promulgated in what is supposed to be a legitimate study of human behaviour if they were not so common in other parts of the book as well.
Race, reason and reality
Race, Evolution and Behavior makes use of an obsolescent, Eurocentric model of human cultural advance, one that assumes a ‘creative explosion’ particularly in Europe at approximately 35,000 years ago, simultaneous with the appearance of modern humans in that area and well before equivalent developments anywhere else on the globe (Rushton 2000: 225). There is no evidence that Rushton comprehends recent archaeological research in different areas of the world or the effects that differences in research intensity can have upon our understanding of cultural developments world-wide. However, his book has one very significant strength: the great claims made within it are testable archaeologically. Such testing does not merely involve disproving the archaeological claims to be found in his text. That is a trivial exercise, one that could be carried out with an up-to-date introductory textbook. Instead, we can use archaeological data – with which, after all, archaeologists claim to be able to speak authoritatively about the human past – in order to assemble an account of African history that can then be compared with the expectations generated by Rushton’s model.
One particular fact makes such testing possible: the magnitude of behavioural, intellectual and social differences claimed by Rushton to exist between the three racial groups is very great indeed. There is no great subtlety in the picture of human racial variation that he paints. This is probably most striking for IQ test scores, as noted above. If African IQ test scores indicate an average IQ¼70, as indeed they appear to (Lynn 1991b; Lynn and Vanhanen 2002), and if IQ test scores are an accurate reflection of the general intelligence of individuals and populations, then we would expect African populations to be characterized by various degrees of cognitive deficit, with borderline mental retardation compared to other human populations as the representative intellectual state on the continent. We would further expect that such significant inferiority in the average mental functioning of an entire continent’s population would have substantial social and cultural consequences, and that those consequences would be expressed in the material traces of the populations involved.
Rushton himself assumes that to be true. He frequently explains modern cases of poverty, conflict, social disruption and disease in Africa as the consequences of human evolutionary history on the continent, just as the late-twentieth century economic success of Japan and the Asian Tigers is supposed to be due to the evolutionary history of ‘Mongoloids’. Similarly high levels of difference are evident in the other measures he uses. Rushton makes use of r-/K-selection models that were, after all, originally developed to compare the reproductive strategies of different species, and his definition of ‘race’ appears to be more or less equivalent to ‘subspecies’ (Rushton 2000: 305). He is not especially forthcoming on what cultural characteristics we might expect of a population with an average IQ of 70. In an editorial, he notes that an IQ of 70 equates to a mental age of 11, and says that 11-years-olds can, with supervision, drive cars, work (as child labourers) in factories and (as child soldiers) go to war (Rushton 2004). However, presumably they cannot design those cars or factories, or plan the wars that they find themselves involved in. Gottfredson (2003) claims that people with IQ less than 100 are incapable of carrying out any sort of sophisticated managerial task, including acting as merchants or bureaucrats; this implies that such people capable of such tasks would be quite rare in African societies generally (comprising less than 3 per cent of the population) and essentially absent in some countries.
Some proponents of IQ tests, and of racial differences in intelligence, have noticed that the results of IQ testing in Africa (and in other areas of the world) actually pose a substantial challenge to the validity of those tests. The idea that the average intelligence of Africans is severely decreased relative to that of people in other parts of the world simply does not accord with the experience of people who have worked on or even visited that continent. It is as if Rushton, Lynn and their colleagues were claiming that all Africans were actually only four feet tall. If such a claim is made, and one is asked to choose between doubting the evidence of one’s own eyes in Africa and doubting the calibration of the ruler used in measurement, most people will doubt the ruler. The problem is even greater than this, in fact, because testing for some African countries gives average IQ scores of well under 70 (for example, Congo-Zaire¼65; Equatorial Guinea¼59; Ethiopia¼63; Sierra Leone¼64; Zimbabwe¼66) (Lynn and Vanhanen 2002: 202–4, 217, 225).
Psychometricians have proposed a number of ingenious explanations in order to get around this problem. Arthur Jensen (1998: 367–9), the dean of this research, claims that African-American individuals with low IQ scores tend to be more socially adept than Euroamericans with the same IQ scores (because retardation in the latter cases is more likely to derive from organic damage), so leading observers to overestimate the intellectual capabilities of the African-Americans in question. This has then been generalized to the African case: Africans are supposed to be cognitively disabled, but this fact is not apparent because of their social and verbal skills. This seems extremely unlikely: any substantial contact would presumably pierce that facade of verbal skill, and the fact that many such interactions take place in languages and cultural settings not native to one or both participants would seem to indicate that verbal/social skills cannot be determinative. In addition, this sort of post hoc explanation undercuts the relationship between IQ test scores and the general intelligence factor (g) that is supposed to be reflected in those scores: IQ test scores appear to mean something very different in terms of human functionality in Africa than in other parts of the world. In any case, consideration of archaeological data allows us to compare cultural achievements in Africa with other areas of the world, without the distortion supposedly inflicted by verbal/social skills and over evolutionarily significant time spans.
To a degree, it seems grotesque that one must, at the beginning of the twentyfirst century, marshal evidence for African potential for cultural progress through time. Rushton’s model of race, behaviour and intelligence is a profoundly archaic intellectual construct, one that has more affinities with Victorian assumptions of the inferiority of the lesser breeds than with anything more recent. At the same time, Africanist archaeology itself for a long time shared many of those assumptions, particularly expressed by an unwillingness to accept evidence for indigenous African cultural advance (see the articles in Robertshaw 1990). Thus, the roots of various kinds of sophisticated behaviour – agriculture, iron-working and state formation are the best known – had to be sought beyond the continent. Over the decades in which Rushton and his colleagues were refurbishing old theories of African intellectual and cultural inferiority, archaeologists working on the continent were developing very different models of the continent’s history. These models do not require that African culture history exactly mirror historical developments in other areas of the world in some unilinear evolutionary progression (Fuglestad 1992; Neale 1986; Stahl 2005b), but they do indicate that African history is entirely comparable to that of other regions and other continents in terms of the human capabilities that it evokes.
Rushton (2000: 217–34) notes the palaeoanthropological debates about modern human origins, and accepts some form of an ‘Out of Africa’ model in his book. Such a model provides him with a well-defined, simple origin narrative for modern humans, as well as a mechanism for moving them beyond Africa to the cognitive challenges of the non-African world. He does not consider the evolutionary advantages that might allow modern humans to expand beyond the African continent into areas in many cases already occupied by other hominids. He does not explore in any detail the relationship between biological and behavioural evolution in moderns, saying only that blade technology appeared in Africa at 100,000 BP (itself an erroneous claim) but hastily adding that Africans at that time were not much advanced beyond their forebears (Rushton 2000: 225). As noted above, he accepts that significant behavioural advances among modern humans occurred especially in Europe, and to a lesser extent in Asia, around 35,000 years ago. Archaeological research over the last two decades provides a very different picture.
The linkage between such developments and occupation of Europe has been systematically broken down, as evidence for advanced behaviours among humans has been found in earlier sites and in sites well beyond that continent. Many of these data have been derived from African contexts (see Brooks and McBrearty 2000; d’Errico et al. 2003; Henshilwood and Marean 2003; Marean and Assefa 2005). Thus, we have a series of sophisticated bone harpoon points, presumably used in composite weapons, at Katanda in Zaire and dating to more than 75,000 years ago (Brooks et al. 1995; Yellen 1998); evidence for symbolic behaviour and advanced tool production – engraved bone and ochre, perforated shell beads, worked bone tools – at Blombos Cave in South Africa at c. 75,000 BP (d’Errico et al. 2001, 2005; Henshilwood et al. 2001, 2002); advanced composite tool technologies, long distance acquisition of raw materials and probable symbolic behaviour in southern African Howieson’s Poort assemblages, dated to c. 75,000–65,000 BP (Ambrose 2002; Deacon and Wurz 1996; Wurz 1999); and bead production at Enkapune ya Muto in Kenya at c. 41,000 BP (Ambrose 1998). It is likely that much of this behaviour has significantly earlier roots; for a more extensive discussion, see Brooks and McBrearty (2000) and d’Errico et al. (2003). Even figurative art, a phenomenon very frequently associated with late Pleistocene archaeological occurrences in Europe, occurs at Apollo 11 cave in Namibia, where it is dated to 25,000–27,000 BP – that is, contemporary with early European rock art (Vogelsang 1998).
It would be wrong to assume that the appearance of technologically sophisticated artefacts is necessarily coterminous with the appearance of complex behavioural, symbolic or conceptual systems, in Africa or elsewhere (Wadley 2001). Such systems may not manifest themselves in persistent material culture (or in any realms of material culture at all), and the cultural meanings of particular technological systems will quite probably vary drastically across space and time. The definition and detection of behavioural modernity among hominids is an extremely complex topic (Henshilwood and Marean 2003), and not one that can be treated in detail in this paper. However, the examples above very strongly indicate that Africa played a central and continuing role in the appearance of such behavioural modernity, a role at least as important as that played by temperate Eurasia.
Africa’s role as the birthplace of humanity is widely accepted today, by the general public as well as by archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists. However, this acceptance is often accompanied by the assumption that the continent has been a cultural backwater in more recent times. Thus, even an avowedly non-racialist account of human history (Diamond 1998: 98–101, 186–7) finds it necessary to provide an explanation of African cultural lag, especially in agricultural development. Diamond provides a rather deterministic explanation of plant and animal domestication based to a large extent upon the geographical orientation of the different continents. An east-to-west Eurasian transect of approximately 8900 kilometres, between Brussels and Shanghai, is paralleled by a similar transect across the African Sudanian and Sahelian zones, between Dakar and Djibouti, of about 6600km. Diamond’s model locates the early success and continuing influence of Near Eastern domesticates in the ease with which they could spread across the long reach of Eurasia, but does not explain why similar success did not attend Sudanian-Sahelian agricultural systems. (It seems unlikely that a 2300km difference in east–west distances actually produced the different Holocene continental histories that Diamond thinks exist.) Diamond tends to underestimate the diversity and sophistication of African agricultural systems, despite a much deeper understanding of African history than that possessed by Philippe Rushton.
Discussions of domestication processes in Africa suffer from the fragmentary nature of archaeological data – especially in the tropical forests of Central Africa – but the earliest firm evidence for sub-Saharan African plant domesticates dates to just after 4000 BP in both Africa and India (Neumann 2003). This implies African domestication of millet, sorghum and cowpea during the fifth millennium BP. This is certainly later than was the case in many other areas of the world. On the other hand, the variety of indigenous African plant domesticates is very striking indeed, comparable to that from earlier centres of domestication in the Near East and probably exceeding the diversity of plant domesticates in East Asia and the Americas (Harlan et al. 1976), and there is no evidence that the inspiration in their development came from beyond the continent. This parallels the situation in New Guinea, another tropical area often assumed to be a cultural backwater but that now appears to be a centre of domestication in its region (Denham et al. 2004).
Economies based in large part upon animal domesticates, especially cattle and caprines, seem to be significantly older in the Sahara and sub-Saharan West and Central Africa, dating to the eighth millennium BP and afterward (Gifford-Gonzalez 2005: 200; Marshall and Hildebrand 2002), and there is accumulating evidence that Saharan populations played a significant role in cattle domestication in the early-/mid-Holocene (Bradley et al. 1996; Grigson 1991; MacHugh et al. 1997). A stable and eminently successful pastoralist adaptation, based upon animal domesticates, the exploitation of wild plant and animal resources and eventually domesticated cereals, and capable of supporting populations of significant size and complexity, can hardly be dismissed as unsophisticated. African experiences with domestication seem entirely comparable to those of other areas in the world – and rather innovative compared with, say, the agricultural record of Europe.
The ability independently to develop state-level societies was another capability traditionally denied to Africans by European authors, who tended to look for inspiration beyond that continent and especially in the Mediterranean Basin and western Asia (Delafosse 1912, I: 207; Desplagnes 1906: 544–6; Murdock 1959; Palmer 1936). Probably the most developed example of this attitude was Charles Seligman’s (1957: 10, 43) ‘Hamitic hypothesis’, which traced virtually every cultural advance in sub-Saharan Africa to light-skinned immigrants from the north and north east, or to later contacts with Semitic populations.
Again, research across the continent over the last three decades decisively disproves this point of view. The literature on this topic is expanding rapidly: there is, however, no doubt that complex polities in the Nile Valley (O’Connor 1993; Welsby 1998), in West Africa (Gronenborn 2001; Holl 1985; MacEachern 2005; McIntosh 1991, 1999; McIntosh and McIntosh 1984), in North-east Africa (Curtis 2004; Fattovich 2000; Munro-Hay 1993), in East and Central Africa (de Maret 1999; Kusimba 1999; Schoenbrun 1999; Sutton 1993) and in south-eastern Africa (Huffman 1996; Pikirayi 2000; Sinclair et al. 1993) were indeed African, developing according to their own internal logics. The social and political hierarchies, the external relations and the economic and trading systems of these states were entirely comparable with those of similar polities on other continents, and were frequently recognized as such by European visitors before corrosively racist views of Africans had time to develop (cf. Brooks 1993; Northrup 2002). They did not appear in isolation – indeed, neither did states in other parts of the world, including Europe – and, again, they were not mirror-images of states in those other regions (cf. McIntosh 1999). The culture history of the continent is one of change and development comparable to that of Europe and Asia, one where particular cultural systems – the development of external symbolic systems, agriculture or states, for example – occur in particular areas, which in turn affect neighbouring regions in different ways. This paper provides only an extremely cursory survey of those data, on a limited number of topics, but more broad-based examination (cf. Stahl 2005a) would provide the same results. Such results provide no basis for the differentiation of homogeneous continental blocs of humanity, still less for the ranking of those blocs one against the other.
We are thus presented with a problem. The picture provided by African archaeological data is entirely incommensurate with claims by Rushton and his colleagues that African populations suffer severe cognitive deficits or other behavioural disadvantages when compared with human populations from Europe and Asia. There is no evidence in those data that Africans as a continental population suffer from the degree of mental retardation that would be indicated by an IQ of 70, or from any degree of mental retardation at all. Both of these data sets are internally consistent: IQ test scores for African populations do indeed yield an average IQ of roughly 70, while the archaeological (and historical) evidence indicates that Africans have the same cognitive and cultural abilities as people living in other regions of the world, over evolutionary time spans and today. How may we reconcile these results?
A number of possibilities present themselves. In the first place, one might claim that the most intelligent people in African societies (perhaps the 3 per cent of the population with IQ scores greater than 100, as indicated by Gottfredson (2003)) have acted as a tiny ‘cognitive elite’, themselves almost entirely responsible for African cultural advances. The existence of such an elite would lead to an overestimate of the cultural and behavioural similarities between Africa and other continental regions. This seems unlikely on a number of levels. It implies drastically different intellectual arrangements in African societies than in societies in other areas of the world, and there are no archaeological, ethnographic or other data indicating that such differences exist. It would also divorce IQ test scores from social and cultural consequences to an extent resisted by psychometricians on both theoretical and practical grounds. It should be noted that neither Rushton (2000) nor Lynn and Vanhanen (2002) accept this explanation, because they claim that there is a good correlation between IQ, behaviour and cultural indicators on both a continental and a national level.
In the second place, we must remember that the evidentiary basis for many of these IQ tests is extremely weak, and in some cases the data are presented quite selectively. Some of the tests, like the Army Beta administered in the 1920s to South Africans, are known to be severely culture-bound. Claims made by Lynn (1991b; Lynn and Vanhanen 2002) and Rushton (2000) about the intelligence of different groups of South Africans also ignore the very significant debates about mental testing in South Africa during the twentieth century (Dubow 1995: 197–245), and the fact that much of this debate involved the IQ test scores of (usually Afrikaans-speaking) ‘poor whites’. A sense of the quality of reporting of these tests comes from Lynn’s (1991b; see also Lynn and Vanhanen 2002: 219) description of tests administered by Owen (1989) on different ‘racial’ groups in South Africa as ‘[t]he best single study of the Negroid intelligence’. Owen himself (1989: 60, 62–8) indicated significant problems with these tests, many involving language difficulties experienced by the African test-takers, and did not assign IQ scores for the results. Similar kinds of problems, where authors’ cautions about test circumstances are ignored by Lynn and Vanhanen, exist in a number of the other African cases. At the same time, it is unlikely that straightforward bias could explain all of the test score results in question.
A third possibility also presents itself, one derived from another realm of debate about IQ test results. The African case is not the only circumstance in which unaccounted-for differences exist in IQ test scores across cultural boundaries. James Flynn (1984, 1987, 1998, 1999; see also Dickens and Flynn 2001) has documented a steady rise in IQ test scores from the late nineteenth century onward in countries where longitudinal data exist, an increase now widely known as the Flynn Effect. (Longitudinal data are unfortunately available almost exclusively from Western countries.) Depending upon the test, this rise varies from less than 10 points to as much as 20 points per generation, with the greatest increase in ‘culture-reduced’ tests like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices. This effect is both reliable and predictable: it also indicates significant gains in intelligence over a period too short for any evolutionary effects to come in to play. Explanations for the Flynn Effect vary and none appears completely satisfactory, but there seems little doubt that it is due to some combination of environmental and cultural factors at play in Western societies, factors that remain significant even on tests where cultural influences are supposed to be largely excluded.
Taken at face value, the Flynn Effect implies that the average North American adult living about a century ago would have had an IQ of approximately 75 in modern terms, a value closely comparable to that derived for twentieth-century African populations by Rushton, Lynn and their associates. Mid-nineteenth-century North Americans would have been even more deficient mentally. This is a nonsensical result, and is widely accepted as such; no North American believes that our great-grandparents were mentally deficient. As two enthusiasts for racial comparison in intelligence testing, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, said a decade ago in The Bell Curve:
"Whether one looks at the worlds of science, literature, politics, or the arts, one does not get the impression that the top of the IQ distribution is filled with more subtle, insightful or powerful intellects than it was in our grandparents’ day. . . . No one is suggesting, for example, that the IQ of the average American in 1776 was 30 or that it will be 150 a century from now.+ -(Herrnstein and Murray 1994: 308–9)
In this case, Herrnstein and Murray are absolutely right. Moreover, the evaluative criteria used by Herrnstein and Murray to judge this claim involve the examination of cultural accomplishment, as does the present paper. This is the only way to test such claims for societies before the invention of intelligence tests. The fact that similar nonsensical results concerning Africans are widely promulgated in the psychometric literature may indicate simple ignorance of African societies or a more pernicious readiness to place Africans below other human populations in a ranking of inherent human worth.
The Flynn Effect is a measure of IQ test performance across a substantial cultural divide, with biology held more or less constant. This divide exists in time: it looks from the early twenty-first century back toward the late nineteenth century. The IQ testing that has taken place in Africa since the 1920s has taken place across a comparable cultural divide, one from economically and politically dominant Western societies and test designers to African societies and individuals in almost all cases at significant economic, social, cultural and/or political disadvantage. In this case, the cultural divide exists both in time (because the tests have been administered since the 1920s) and in space. The parallels between time and race have been remarked upon by Flynn (1999: 14–15; see also Dickens and Flynn 2001). It may well be the case that depressed African IQ test score results are best explained by a combination of obvious test bias and the subtle and additive environmental differences that produce variation in even ‘culture-reduced’ tests like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices, in a geographic analogy to the Flynn Effect. The archaeological data would seem decisively to contradict the claim that these differences stem from reduced cognitive potentials in African populations.
This paper presents the juxtaposition of two data sets, one archaeological and one behavioural and psychometric. It is now a commonplace in the comparative psychometric literature to claim that low IQ test scores among African populations indicate severely diminished average intelligence among those populations. Rushton (2000) places these claims in a behavioural and evolutionary context, one paralleled by similar explanations applied to poor and relatively powerless populations in other parts of the world and supplemented by data of other kinds. Rushton’s model posits quite major behavioural differences among the different continental populations, and especially between tropical African populations and the inhabitants of temperate and Arctic Eurasia. The magnitude of these differences is such that they should be detectable archaeologically, and indeed Rushton presents archaeological evidence that he believes bolsters his case. His archaeological interpretations are for the most part obsolete and/or erroneous.
However, Rushton is probably correct in claiming that such a magnitude of racial differences should be demonstrable archaeologically. Archaeological data provide an independent test of his hypothesis, one not subject to the obscuring effects associated with modern mental testing and interpretation. Examination of archaeological data on the culture history of African populations, and comparison of those data with data from other parts of the world, yields no evidence for the behavioural and cognitive disparities claimed by Rushton. African cultural history is entirely comparable with that of other regions of the world, not in terms of lockstep evolutionary schema but rather in the evident sophistication with which African populations have met the challenges of their physical and social environments through time. To interpret the conflict between these two data sets, it may be useful to examine possible confounding factors in the behavioural and psychometric data. The behavioural data are quite variable and often of poor quality, but it is striking to note that the field of intelligence testing is grappling with a phenomenon analogous to continental differences in IQ test scores – the Flynn Effect. In both cases, testing across cultural boundaries yields results that systematically disadvantage populations culturally removed from our own, results that on their face defy logic. It is now up to intelligence researchers to identify the confounding effects in their tests, and let archaeologists and other researchers get back to looking at the Africa that actually exists today, and existed in the past."
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On the Similarities of American Blacks and Whites: A Reply to J. P. Rushton
Author(s): Zack Z. Cernovsky
Source: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 25, No. 6 (Jul., 1995), pp. 672-679
The history of science teaches us that many ambitious racists attempted to manufacture scientific evidence for their beliefs. Sooner or later, their charlatan style methodology (e.g., the use of skull circumference measurement by Nazi "scientists" during the World War II) and logical inconsistencies resulted in their rejection by the scientific community. A contemporary example of this trend is the work of J. Philippe Rushton. He recently wrote a large number of repetitive articles in which he revived the old-fashioned Nazi method of skull circumference measurement and claimed that Blacks are genetically less intelligent, endowed with smaller brains, oversexed, and more prone to crime and mental disease than Whites. Only some of the numerous methodological flaws in his work are discussed in the present article.
Although Rushton (1988, 1990a, 1991) implied that Blacks are consistently found to have smaller brains than Whites, some of the studies listed in his reviews actually show opposite trends: North American Blacks were superior to American Whites in brain weight (see Tobias, 1970, p. 6: 1355 g vs. 1301 g) or were found to have cranial capacities favorably comparable to the average for various samples of Caucasians (see Herskovits, 1930) and number of excess neurons larger than many groups of Caucasoids, for exam- ple, the English and the French (see Tobias, 1970, p. 9). In general, skulls from people in countries with poverty and infant malnutrition are smaller regardless of race. This trend is apparent even in Rushton's (1990b) tabularly summary of Herskovits's review: Cau- casoids from Cairo had far smaller crania than North American Negroes (see more details in Cernovsky, 1992). In this respect, Rushton (1990a, 1990b, 1990c) also repeatedly misrepresented findings by Beals, Smith, and Dodd (1984) on cranial capacity. Rushton implied that Beals et al. presented large-scale evidence for racial inferiority of the Blacks with respect to cranial size. De facto, extensive statistical analyses by Beals et al. showed that cranial size varies primarily with climatic zones (e.g., distance from the equa- tor), not race. According to Beals et al., the correlations of brain size to race are spurious: smaller crania are found in warmer climates, irrespective of race.
And, although Rushton misleadingly reported Tobias's (1970) and Herskovits's (1930) surveys of cranial data as confirming his theory, their data are more consistent with the model presented by Beals et al. As already mentioned, in their reviews, cranial size and number of excess neurons of North American Blacks compared favorably to those of Caucasoids. It is only by pooling their data with data for Negroids from countries in hot climatic zones (noto- rious for famine and infant malnutrition) that Rushton obtained an illusory support for his postulates.
Rushton's (1988, Table 1) use of brain and cranial size as indicators of intelligence in humans is statistically absurd: Rushton's (1990a) own data showed that brain size and intelligence, in Homo sapiens, are only weakly related (average Pearson r = .18) and the highest correlations reported by Rushton were only .35, implying only 12.3% of shared variance (see critique by Cernovsky, 1991). In the past decades, even some persons with extremely small cerebral cortices were found by Lorber to have IQs in the superior range (> 120) and performed well in academic settings (Lewin, 1980). Rushton's pseudoscientific writings perpetuate lay public's misconceptions and promote racism.
Rushton (1990a, 1990c, 1991) also misrepresents the evidence for racial differences in brain/body size ratio. For example, Herskovits's (1930) data suggest that there is no consistent Black/ White difference with respect to stature or crania. And, with respect to Rushton's claim about the relationships of the brain/body size ratio to intelligence, this conceptual framework is suitable for some species of animals but not necessarily for the restricted range of data. The comparison of gender differences on three different brain/body indices by Ho, Roessman, Straumfjord, and Monroe (1980) led to inconsistent results (see their tabularly summaries on p. 644). Further empirical data in this field are necessary: Authori- tarian statements "about the reality of racial differences," based on conveniently selected trends in the data, do not qualify as a scien- tific contribution.
Contrary to Rushton's speculations on race and crime, skin color would be a poor predictor of crime rate due to low base rates and very large intragroup variance. His own data (summaries of Interpol statistics, Rushton, 1990c, 1995) can be reinterpreted as showing that relying on race as an indicator of crime leads to 99.8% of false positives (Cernovsky & Litman, 1993a). The average correlations between race and crime are too low and inconsistent to support genetic racial speculations and, in fact, might point to the opposite direction than Rushton postulated (see higher crime rates in Whites than in Blacks in Interpol data analyses, Cernovsky & Litman, 1993b). To demonstrate that Blacks are less intelligent and, perhaps, to allege that this is genetically given, with only minor environmental modifications, Rushton (1988, 1991) refers not only to his own biased review of brain size studies but also to Jensen's work.
Yet, it has been shown that the theories favoring hereditarian over environmentalist explanations tend to be based on poor methodol- ogy (see Kamin, 1980) and that Jensen's estimates of "hereditabil- ity" are based on too many assumptions, which hardly could all be met (Taylor, 1980). Some applications of the heritability estimates were shown to have absurd consequences (Flynn, 1987a). Simi- larly, Jensen's recent claims about racial differences in reaction time are biased and might lack in scientific integrity (Kamin & Grant-Henry, 1987). There is no solid evidence in favor of herita- bility over environmental influences with respect to the develop- ment of intelligence (see a review in Kamin, 1980, and Flynn, 1987a, 1987b).
In a similar vein, some of Rushton's references to scientific literature with respects to racial differences in sexual charac- teristics turned out to be references to a nonscientific semipornog- raphic book and to an article in the Penthouse Forum (see a review in Weizmann, Wiener, Wiesenthal, & Ziegler, 1991). Rushton's claims thatfertility rates are higher in Blacks disharmonize with well-known high figures for some Caucasoids such as North Ameri- can Hutterites (a group of Swiss-German ancestry, see a review in Weizmann et al., 1990, 1991). Rushton's claims about racial differ- ences with respect to brain, intelligence, crime, sexuality, and fertility (and also twinning rates; see Lynn, 1989a, 1989b; Weizmann et al., 1991) are based on an extremely biased and inadequate review of literature.
Erroneously relying on data based on hospital admission rates, Rushton (1988) concluded that mental disease is more frequent in Blacks than Whites. Members of the lower socioeconomic class are overrepresented in official hospital admission statistics because the private and more confidential treatment resources are not accessible to them. More adequate epidemiological studies by Robins et al. (1984) based on random sampling show no significant link of lifetime prevalence to race except for simple phobias. There were no significant differences with respect to major psychiatric illness or substance abuse (see a more detailed criticism of Rushton's assumptions in this area in Zuckerman & Brody, 1988).
Rushton (1988, 1991) implies that "racial differences in behav- ior" are genetic and relatively immutable: He ignores the plasticity of human beings as shown in secular changes and in the intragroup variance (see more detailed criticisms in Weizmann et al., 1990, 1991). The armamentarium of clinical psychologists was shown by a host of empirical investigations to induce desirable behavioral changes in various populations (see, e.g., Turner, Calhoun, & Adams, 1981): Rushton's view of human beings is obsolete. And, with respect to Rushton's (1988) attempt to apply r/K theory to racial differences, this is a misguided project as shown by criticisms from the ecological and biopsychological perspective (Anderson, 1991; Weizmann et al., 1990, 1991) and as shown by statistical considerations of the devastating effects of restricted range on size of correlation coefficients (rules derived from a wide dimension of measures perform poorly when applied to a minute interval on the scale; see, e.g., McCall, 1980). The r/K dimension is derived from an extremely wide range of species.
Its dogmatic application to the drastically reduced variance within contemporary Homo sapiens is statistically naive (for more detailed explanations, see Cernovsky, 1992). It is not even necessary to be a competent statistician to avoid similar errors. If Rushton (1988, 1990a) could heed Jerison's (1973) warning that racial differences in brain size are at most minor and "probably of no significance for intellectual differences," he would not attempt to extend Jerison's findings across species to subgroups within modem mankind. Instead, Rushton (1991) misleadingly refers to Jerison in a manner that implies an expert support from this famous comparative neuropsy- chologist, without mentioning their disagreement on the most cen- tral issue.
Rushton (1991) claimed that racial differences occur "on more than 50 variables," with Blacks being consistently in a less desirable direction. The present article examined the evidence with respect to the key variables only: The examination exemplifies that his claims are fallacious. Furthermore, long lists, such as Rushton's, tend to shrink when appropriate multivariate methods (e.g., the discriminant equation) are used: These techniques eliminate redun- dancies and remove nonsignificant variables. And, nota bene, if a scientist would search for a suitable "finding" to lower the social prestige of Blacks and examine 50 variables and suppress evidence favorable to Blacks, he or she might, by chance alone, one day, find one or more variables on which a "significant" trend in the desired direction could be located.
Given all these flaws in Rushton's work on "racial differences," it is obvious that his writings do not meet the usual requirements for a master's thesis in psychology. His knowledge of scientific methodology is definitely below the academic level required for the master's degree.
Finally, Rushton's most recent "scientific" contribution is the claim that women are likely to be less intelligent than men because his tape measurements of men and women in military settings indicated that males have larger heads (Rushton, 1992). Indeed, the racism is often associated with sexism.
In summary, although Rushton's writings and public speeches instill the vision of Blacks as small-brained, oversexed criminals who multiply at a fast rate and are afflicted with mental disease, his views are neither based on a bona fide scientific review of literature nor on contemporary scientific methodology. His dogma of bioevo- lutionary inferiority of Negroids is not supported by empirical evidence. Acceptance of similar theories should not be based on racist prejudice but on objective standards, that is, conceptual and logical consistency and integrity, quality of methods and data, and an analysis of disconfirmatory trends. Rushton's racial theory does not meet any of these standards.
Egypt- a tropical civilization
Mesopotamia- an arid tropic civilization
Bogus "race" wars
Human "Biodiversity" claims debunked in detail:
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