A few years back, I took the Pro-Truth Pledge (PTP). It is a group founded by a friend of mine to try and promote truth and facts in our civil discourse – including politics. It’s suppose to be non-partisan but it seems that truth and facts have a liberal bias if the content of a recent email I got is any indication.
There have been recent stories of voter registration purges in Texas and Florida. A story appearing in the pro-Kasich newspaper The Columbus Dispatch may suggest that an attempt will be made in Ohio to purge voter rolls. Anyone who cares about their Constitutional rights should be very wary to hear that Ohio wants to remove valid voter registrations from the rolls.
I wanted to take the opportunity today to dispel a couple of persistent myths that is passed around as truth. I use a service that looks for certain keywords on various Internet pages expressing viewpoints.
One of the keywords I use is “secular humanism”.
I found an article on a “conservative” website that expressed once again the myth that secular humanists control everything.
The other myth I want to lay to rest is that Christians are 1. a minority in the US and 2. Persecuted for their beliefs.
Secular Humanism controls everything?
Here is the text in question:
While our troops try to win a world war launched by Islam, America’s Christians and Jews at home confront another religious every bit as ambitious and aggressive as Islam–secular humanism. These are the folks who wish to silence the churches, erase the Ten Commandments from the template of civilization, sexualize children, and abolish the family. In return, they offer us a new god–man. More specifically, liberal, elite man in all his implacable glory.
It does us little good to defeat Islam if we can’t defeat the immoralists, too. The only difference is that this war will be fought with ballots, not bullets.
We have an enormous amount of cleaning up to do. The humanists control higher education and the public schools; the mainstream news media and the entertainment industry; the judiciary and the Democratic Party; the scientific establishment, and even the liberal church denominations. They’ve been making inroads since the early Nineteenth Century, mostly without opposition. The roots of this poisonous tree run very deep.
The article is simply wrong on many points – ok all of them – and it does nothing except stoke fear mongering.
First the author has no idea what secular humanism is. In articles like that the writer typically uses the term for the bogey man effect just like conservative writers during the cold war used communism. They rarely define secular humanism and when they do they simply get it wrong. They also attribute “secular” behavior – like protecting the freedom of religion – as secular humanism when they disagree with the action.
I should know what secular humanism is since I AM a secular humanist. The Council of Secular Humanism has the following brief definition about what secular humanism is:
Secular humanists do not rely upon gods or other supernatural forces to solve their problems or provide guidance for their conduct. They rely instead upon the application of reason, the lessons of history, and personal experience to form an ethical/moral foundation and to create meaning in life. Secular humanists look to the methodology of science as the most reliable source of information about what is factual or true about the universe we all share, acknowledging that new discoveries will always alter and expand our understanding of it and perhaps change our approach to ethical issues as well.
Simply put, religion and God is not relevant to our beliefs and philosophy of life. It is our world view and nothing more. For a person to be a secular humanist they must agree with the text noted above.
For an argument to prove that secular humanists control the schools, the media, the Democratic Party, etc… then one MUST offer evidence that a majority of people who work in those area are in fact subscribe to secular humanism as defined above.
While it is possible it is not a fact and is not true. Why? Because the number of people who are secular humanists is too small to account for all the areas it is said we control.
In a survey of religious identification conducted in 2001 showed only approximately. 100,000 people identified themselves as Humanist or as Secular with no label listed as secular humanist. That’s 100,000 out of 208,000,000 people over the age of 18. If I had answered the survey I would have picked Humanist and on the survey that was 49,000 people.
When the legal system is used to disentangle government from religion, it does NOTHING to the believer and their beliefs. They can still pray, go to church, or follow the 10 Commandments. We just don’t want the government to be involved with religion and I am sure most Christians would agree.
Not all secular humanists are atheists nor are they all Democrats and if the writer would actually talk to secular humanists then he would know the truth.
Christians are persecuted?
Not in the United States.
The 1st Amendment prohibits that and when cases have come before the courts, religious rights are protected. For every case that removes the 10 Commandments from a court house there is a case that allows a religious group to meet in a school building as any other community group can.
Why do religious conservatives believe that they are a minority being persecuted?
In a study published in the US News and World Report had this as a possible explanation:
Evangelicals motivate each other by thinking of themselves, much as the first Christians did as an embattled minority, marginalized at best or persecuted at worst for their religious beliefs. While other Americans may not necessarily see them in this way, what is most important is that this is how evangelical Christians see themselves. And it is their shared profound dissatisfaction with aspects of the American mainstream that gives them cause to fight to be heard by the American mainstream.
While those issues I care about like gay rights, abortion, and separation of church and state doesn’t impose anything on a Christian, their actions in the opposite impose their beliefs on everyone. Who is really causing the ruin of America? It isn’t secular humanists, we are the persecuted minority.
It has been over a year since the US invaded Iraq and removed Saddam from power. The President and his inner circle continue to say that the action will make us safer from terrorism.
The Iraq war and somewhat the Afghanistan operation in October 2001 are parts of a new post 9/11 policy of preemptive strike against nations and groups that pose a threat to the US.
We were also told by President Bush recently, as detailed in Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, that the US is suppose to free people and spread democracy around the world.
Actually the policy isn’t new. It was first purposed in 1992 by then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz who is a neo-conservative, someone who believes the US should create an empire.
In 2000, a think tank, Project for the New American Century, drafted a similar proposal. That report was copied almost word for word into President Bush’s National Security Strategy report released on 9/20/2002.
It calls for increased defense spending, the placement of troops in all areas of the world, and imposing US will and keeping world peace through military and economic power without any input from our allies.
The terrorist attacks on 9/11 became the Neo-conservatives “Gulf of Tonkin” when the US Congress gave away its oversight over the use of US power allowing the President, with the influence of Neo-conservtives like Wolfowitz, I. Lewis Libby, John Bolton, and Stephen Cambone, to implement the National Security Policy. We have seen the results so far in Iraq, the naming of the “Axis of Evil”, and rushing troops to Georgia and the Philippines.
Since the Congress has given the President a blank check to piss off everyone in the world by changing the traditional operation of this country in relation to the world, the ONLY answer is to remove the President come November. Our security depends on it.
This essay was the result of a discussion I was having on an e-mail list in which I participate called Human_ism back, in 2000.
The person I was debating about The Bell Curve accused me of not reading the book as we debated the merits of it.
I had not read the book. I came to my views about it from articles I read about the book. So, to take that argument away from my opponent, I bought the book (ugh) and read it (My eyes! My eyes).
The conclusions I write in this essay are my own, after reading the book. I thought I had published this on my website but found out, when the discussion came up again recently, that I had not.
I have revised it a bit because some of my phrasing seemed a bit klunky but overall this is the final draft of the essay. — dlb
The Bell Curve: Science or Political Statement?
An essay by Doug Berger
*Note* To save me some typing I used some abbreviations. TBC = The Bell Curve, H&M= Herrnstein and Murray (the authors), con/lib = conservative/libertarian
The Bell Curve is a controversial book that salted the wound between the “haves and have nots” and those that have and want to help the have nots. H&M have been called a lot of names from racist to bigot and their book has been trashed and supported by many well known scientists in the world.
That is what happens when a political statement is passed off as science. H&M basically showed the trends in IQ between classes of people, asserted that a large “underclass” will emerge, and offer “suggestions” to help deal with a lot of poor dumb people.
Is TBC racist? Are H&M racist? Are TBC implications as profound as Chester Finn said in “Commentary”. Hopefully H&M words in TBC can shed some light on those issues.
I should say now that I won’t be dealing with the nuts and bolts of the science in the book. There has been plenty of debate about that issue by people well versed in those fields [read the side note at the end of this essay]. This little essay will deal with what H&M says in the book as result of the science they present. TBC is really a conservative/libertarian political statement and an old one at that.
The book is long any contains a lot of statistics, graphs, and results. On the whole, for the intended audience, this is just filler. Based on a skim of the book, the words they use and the conclusions they draw, the intended audience seems to be white conservatives who have been fighting government social programs for 30 years for various reasons.
In the preface, one gets a sense of the initial bias H&M has going into the book. They say: “…They propose solutions founded on better education, on more and better jobs, on specific social interventions. But they ignore an underlying element that has shaped the changes: human intelligence….”
The inference for the reader is that the solutions proposed by “They” (social scientists, journalists, and liberal politicians) haven’t solved the problems of poverty and the underclass. One would seem to think that the problem can’t be solved due to dumb poor people who can’t be changed.
On page 64 H&M state the economic efficiency in business between high IQ and low IQ workers:
“Our main point has nothing to do with deciding how large the loss is or how large the gain would be if intelligence test could be freely used for hiring. Rather, it is simply that intelligence itself is importantly related to job performance. Laws can make the economy less efficient by forbidding employers to use intelligence tests, but laws cannot make intelligence unimportant.”
This is the primary premiss in the book. Intelligence is important to humans.
Then H&M spend a bulk of the book presenting evidence that low IQ is the majority of the nation’s ills and it is there where they get into trouble. It starts with how they present the argument. They start by only focusing on whites as an introduction then repeat their arguments using “ethnic groups”. H&M call the section “The National Context” and include evidence of the IQ differences between whites, blacks, and asians. Basically the reader is left with the conclusion that lower IQ is at the root of all our social ills like poverty and blacks have lower IQ than whites and asians have slightly higher IQs than whites. The dots that the reader then connects is that blacks are at the root of the social ills. They would have been more effective and less racist if they had kept their argument to ‘lower IQ is the root of social ills’ rather than bringing in the old worn ethnic differences – that blacks are lower than whites and asians are slightly above whites in IQ. They present a clever basis to justify arguments against government social intervention.
In the final sections of the book H&M examine some current solutions for poverty and how since the programs don’t match the IQ of the people it is intended to help, most don’t work. They also make a complaint about the “gifted minority” who they see as being left out. This is yet another con/lib argument made about education. It seems to con/libs gifted children are almost all white.
I did spot a glaring contradiction in H&M’s argument.
On page 54, H&M said adoption of children into better homes doesn’t improve the job status of those children in the future.
But in Chapter 17, they claim that preschool and Head Start programs don’t raise IQ. They claim that the only thing that seems to work, to the tune of a 6 point rise, is adoption of the child from a “bad” family environment to a “good” one.
In Chapter 18 they make an argument that since education can’t raise IQ, the government should support parental choice through vouchers, tax credits, or within the public schools. They also suggest that some funds that go to the disadvantaged should go to programs for the gifted instead. They make the claim that until the later half of the 20th century, educating the gifted was the chief purposes of education. They argue that education has been dumbed down for those with lower IQ and that puts our future in danger.
This is just a silly assertion on their part. The purpose of education, since our modern educational system began was to be able to make all students, regardless of ability or class status, productive citizens. An educated populous benefits the nation as a whole.
Restricting education to the gifted only, as H&M suggest, ignores the entire history of education in this country.
H&M then use the next couple of chapters to argue against Affirmative Action in education and the work place. They perpetrate the myth that some minorities accepted or hired due to Affirmative Action are not qualified for the school or job. They make that argument since they believe that IQ makes one qualified – not any education or training. They feel that poor dumb people are “naturally” unqualified.
In Chapter 21, H&M talk about the future problems that they think will happen if public policy is not changed in the way they suggest in the previous chapters. This basicially fans the flames of fear about poor dumb people multipling unchecked until they take over the world (or rather that is the sense I got from the chapter). Not only will we have scores of poor dumb people but we will have spent our precious tax money on those lost causes.
They saved Chapter 22 for more “suggestions” to deal with the “problems” outlined in the book and Chapter 21.
A wide range of social functions should be restored to the neighborhoods when possible and otherwise to the municipality.
Making it easier to make a living (less government rules)
Making it easier to live a virtuous life : Crime should be black and white. Marriage should be be restored to it is unique legal status.
Replace welfare payments with an alternative such as the earned income credit.
The government should stop subsidizing births to anyone, rich or poor.
The US should consider accepting immigrants based more on high cognitive ability (IQ).
H&M conclude TBC with a restatement of the con/lib argument that the government should deal with the “small” segment of the population (low IQ) who account for the “large” proportion of the social problems they outlined in the book, but the govt. should leave the rest of us alone.
TBC is a political statement on public policy that has been heard from the con/lib camp for sometime. H&M talk about returning to local control, less regulations, get tougher on crime, protecting marriage, school choice, ending welfare, changing affirmative action, and restricting immigration. They base their conclusion on the problems that are rooted at those with low IQ, something they argue can’t be changed.
The inferences the reader makes in the IQ discussions are racist on the face no matter what H&M state explicitly. The audience of the book is white conservatives who all ready agree with their conclusions. The “evidence” then justifies their agenda. H&M could have made the same arguments without even dealing with genetics or race, but they did.
H&M don’t offer solutions for low IQ only to state that it is the root of all our problems and it can’t be changed. Since they also show that blacks make up the large portion of low IQ what is a reader to conclude? Murray states in the afterword that he didn’t think that race was a big deal in the book. Why then even mention it?
I am also bothered at the amount of space devoted to IQ when their conclusions and suggestions had nothing to do with IQ.
Is TBC racist? Yes, in that it goes into the IQ/race argument for no apparent reason especially when one of their concerns toward the end of the book was a rise in a white underclass.
Are H&M racists? In a general sense yes since they blame all current social ills on poor dumb people and the added racial argument just makes it more clear they are.
Are the implications of TBC profound? No. They just repeat what they themselves say is known but not talked about and their policy suggestions have been heard before.
Basically I think TBC is just another version of “Darwin’s Black Box” that tries and cloaks a political agenda in science. It tries to use science to prove its conclusions.
[Side Note: I am not a science person. There has been some heated debate among the science community about the validity of H&M studies. This fact is true. The Bell Curve was never peer reviewed. That is it wasn’t published in any science journals where accepted science come from.
H&M found a publisher and sold it straight to the public much like the scientists supporting the Intelligent Designer idea of Creationism.
Here is one example of a rebuttal of H&M’s research. More can be found at the link at the end of the example — dlb
“The remaining studies cited by Lynn, and accepted as valid by Herrnstein and Murray, tell us little about African intelligence but do tell us something about Lynn’s scholarship. One of the 11 entries in Lynn’s table of the intelligence of “pure Negroids” indicates that 1,011 Zambians who were given the Progressive Matrices had a lamentably low average IQ of 75. The source for this quantitative claim is given as “Pons 1974; Crawford-Nutt 1976.”
A. L. Pons did test 1,011 Zambian copper miners, whose average number of correct responses was 34. Pons reported on this work orally; his data were summarized in tabular form in a paper by D. H. Crawford-Nutt. Lynn took the Pons data from Crawford-Nutt’s paper and converted the number of correct responses into a bogus average “IQ” of 75. Lynn chose to ignore the substance of Crawford-Nutt’s paper, which reported that 228 black high school students in Soweto scored an average of 45 correct responses on the Matrices–HIGHER than the mean of 44 achieved by the same-age white sample on whom the test’s norms had been established and well above the mean of Owen’s coloured pupils.”