Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Razib Khan and his continuing successful quest for respectability

UPDATE: my response to the Jamelle Bouie twitter link: The Triumph of Racist Razib Khan 

All my thoughts on Razib Khan here.

Every now and then I get a visitor to this blog via a search for Razib Khan. For those out of the loop, Khan used to run a web site called "Gene Expression" that is now sponsored by - and given a level of respectability by - Discover Magazine. I've been writing about Khan since the earliest days of this blog.

Of course Razib Khan is also granted respectability by Steven Pinker.

But there is no evidence that Khan has dropped the obsession that drove him ten years ago - the search to prove that blacks and women - but especially blacks - are intellectually inferior.

He's not so blatant about it now as he was in 2003 though. To understand the true Razib Khan, check out this comment he made on Gene Expression ten years ago:
And a book published recently claims to show that American blacks who come from families that have a certain amount of wealth do have the same IQs as whites who come from families with that same amount of wealth
this is chicken or egg now....
what you mean is *asset* levels. income on the other hand is less important, "middle class" blacks do far less well academically than "middle class" (or even working class) whites. this can be chalked up to culture of course. and that is where adoption studies come in, and i tend to think they tilt toward a genetic explanation-though we haven't eliminated all possible variables that could give a cultural explanation.
but as i've noted, the ~ 1 STD deviation difference between blacks & whites persists for a century-despite the fact that blacks are wealthier & healthier (though not AS healthy or wealthy) in relation to whites than they were one century ago.
certainly environmental effects are important, but me thinks we attempt to eliminate the VERY POSSIBILITY of inherent differences of IQ between individuals, and average mean differences between populations, for political, not scientific, reasons.
one reason that black adoptees might do more poorly on IQ tests than white adoptees is that society is racist-and yet, scarr et al. found that genetic markers for "blackness" did not correlate well to intelligence, and Dienekes has posted data which indicates a weak correlation between light-skin & IQ in blacks. what would this imply? scarr tries to argue that this implies race != have a relationship to average IQ, though jensen counters that generations of recombination surely have lead to a decoupling within the black population of more eurpoid phenotype from the alleles that contribute to higher IQ. if, as some, including flynn, have argued, that racism even among adoptees from the parents is what causes the lower average IQ of black children, then the "whiter" looking ones should be subject to less racism and therefore have higher IQs. scarr i believe found that biracial children had IQs intermediate between white and black children, which dovetails well with both the thesis that IQ is genetic, or that social discrimination determintes a child's self-perception and therefore eventual IQ. from jensen's perspective, he would argue that progressive recombination over many generations have not resulted in the linkage equilibrium between multiple genes (assuming random mating, etc.), and so that is why biracial children still exhibit higher IQs than black children....
economic deprivation does not lead to cocomittant low academic performance (to the same degree) among some non-black groups (asians of course i mean here), so the cultural explanation is the catch-all. so you look at kids that are adopted and therefore of "white culture," but if that data doesn't fit, you assert their phenotype sets them off from the population. from the various interpretations you then weight toward the one that argues for environment more than genetics.
from what i see, most people have a conclusion they want to reach, and they will keep positing "plausible" hypothesis after plausible hypothesis until they find something they can hold onto.
Posted by: razib at July 25, 2003 09:14 PM
I bolded the last bit. In a display of his standard lack of self-awareness, Khan suggests that it's others who have a conclusion they want to reach (in this case that there is no evidence for black intellectual inferiority), while he, Razib Khan is pure and unaffected by politics.

Maybe the most telling evidence for where, exactly, Razib Khan is coming from is further down the page:
the numbers cited in AMREN i have seen elsewhere in print (from lynn and a few others). the "asian" population in england has a lot of components. the gujaratis from east africa tend to be well-off and well educated. the sikhs less so, but still OK. the bottom of the heap are bangladeshis and to a lesser extent pakistanis. these last two groups tend to come to work in blue-collar sectors. there is probably some lag in that the lower SES groups are less assimilated/newer to british culture (east africa gujaratis might have showed up in the 1970s, but they tend to come from world-wide cosmopolitan families with a strong command of english and western folk-ways)-but the type of person who comes to work in a mill is going to be a bit different that the Ph.D. sort, at the least, the dumber brothers will go work in the mill, the bright one come to the US.
btw...according to CITY JOURNAL 25% of students in med school in england are south asian-about the same population:med student ratio as the US....
Posted by: razib at July 27, 2003 12:46 AM
The AMREN source Khan is using to bolster his argument is American Renaissance, a proudly racist site. And although Razib Khan doesn't show his love for American Renaissance any more, going so far in 2006 as to refer to them as "the most highbrow of racialist publications" American Renaissance still loves Razib Khan and links to his Discover-branded Gene Expression all the time. He's their hero, of course, because Khan has achieved the kind of respectability in this century that other racists can only dream of.

Khan and Steven Pinker both believe there is a liberal conspiracy to suppress the truth of evolutionary psychology and its message of black/female intellectual inferiority. In a correspondence with me some years ago Pinker claimed that Stephen Jay Gould's opinions on socio-biology (different name but exactly the same as evolutionary psychology) should be discounted because Gould had left-wing political views.

We see Khan doing the same thing recently in reference to Richard Lewontin:
Richard Lewontin’s fame rests in part on his pioneering role in the development of the field of molecular evolution, and secondarily due to his trenchant Left-wing politics.
Actually, as you can see in the Wikipedia entry on Lewontin, his fame does not rest, even secondarily, on his left-wing politics. But for Razib Khan as much as Steven Pinker, the very fact that you have objections to the conclusions of biological determinism proves that you are driven by left-wing politics. Because it is literally unthinkable for them that there might be solid scientific objections to biological determinism. 

Or perhaps they really do see themselves are political players, and understand that the best defense is a good offense - to claim the other side is tainted by political considerations is a good tactic to obscure your own blatant political views.

Razib Khan sees no hypocrisy in complaining about the alleged political leanings of socio-biology critics while contributing to a web site called "Secular Right" - one of its other contributors is John "too racist for National Review" Derbyshire.

And I find it extremely offensive that Khan writes for the site under the name "David Hume." I strongly suspect David Hume would have found Razib Khan contemptible.


  1. All due respect but AmRen is not a "source" or authority concerning IQ. It is just a blog which discusses it among other things. It's just mostly lay peoples' observations and opinions, and probably many of them would not be terribly warm & fuzzy toward Razib. However, they are not the only people who think their race is superior in some respect or other. Many blacks, Asians, Indians, also think that their own race is superior in some way, and get to crow about it with little shushing from the powers that be. The "sources" that Khan uses are data collected through research and in many testing situations, by respected, peer reviewed researchers like Hernnstein and Murray. I'm pretty sure he still studies the subject, because it hasn't gone away and is as relevant as an aspect of genetics (partially in any case) as ever. He probably just talks about it differently so he can just get on with his work and not be harassed. A lot of researchers in this area are like that.
    The Bell Curve was signed off on by a group of non-heretical professors and researchers in the late 90s. It was the social science people who were so sure it was bunk, not the scientists, who did not dispute the information.
    It's a controversial subject, and as long as we respect individuals as individuals, we are each entitled to an opinion; but consigning those who study controversial, unpopular subjects to mockery or even the metaphorical stake, does not make them go away. Quite the contrary.

  2. AmRen are big fans of Razib Khan, because they have this in common with Khan: they think that the non-scientific concept of "race" determines intelligence.

    And let's have a list of the "non-heretical professors and researchers" who "signed-off" on The Bell Curve.

    And as for Charles Murray, he is a right-wing ideologue and it's a matter of faith among right-wingers that black people are inferior beings - they start from that premise and then find "scientific" arguments to back them up.

    Razib Khan is also a right-wing ideologue. And this is not a secret:

    Politics is the motivating factor behind The Bell Curve and related racialist "science".

    A civil rights lawyer of black and white heritage, writing in 1994, had something to say about that. I found this, of all places at Razib Khan's old blog:

    "The idea that inferior genes account for the problems of the poor in general, and blacks in particular, isn't new, of course. Racial supremacists have been using IQ tests to support their theories since the turn of the century. The arguments against such dubious science aren't new either. Scientists have repeatedly told us that genes don't vary much from one race to another, and psychologists have pointed out the role that language and other cultural barriers can play in depressing minority test scores, and no one disputes that children whose mothers smoke crack when they're pregnant are going to have developmental problems.

    Now, it shouldn't take a genius to figure out that with early intervention such problems can be prevented. But Mr. Murray isn't interested in prevention. He's interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it's artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell. It's easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray's calculations. After watching their income stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, real or perceived, that minorities may enjoy...

    Our half-black president is twice as intelligent as you and Charles Murray combined.

  3. South Asian7:11 PM

    As another South Asian I meet Razibs all the time. He's from Bangladeshi Muslim background. Bangladeshi Muslims are one of the poorest performing groups in the UK across several markers. His claim that, "according to CITY JOURNAL 25% of students in med school in england are south asian-about the same population:med student ratio as the US." leaves out the fact that these South Asians are by and large NOT Bangledeshis.

    Razib is coming at all of this from an inferiority complex and a disingenuousness in that he is not applying the same theory of under performance of Bangladeshis (this includes their average IQ) that he applies to the under performance of African Americans. That theory being genetics.

    He is not doing this for obvious reasons: he's of Bangladeshi heritage.

    To be noted is his determination to marry a white woman and not a woman resembling his mother or sisters. I believe he thought it would raise the "genetic quality" of his offspring.

    I've met Razib briefly before and he's a short guy with a Napoleon complex. He things he's the smartest guy in any room and when unable to go toe to toe with someone on a subject, declares that "we're going in circles, time to move on", rather than concede, "OK I was wrong".

    All of this stems from probably being picked on as a kid, and being mistaken for a black kid and possibly called racial slurs, the n-word included. I know A LOT of South Asian guys like him, long considered sexually unattractive and un-dateable by American women. Meanwhile it can't help to witness the so called "dumb guys" (black guys) clean up in the sex and love department. It eats away at them after a while and Razib Complex is what results.

    Nothing new to see. Guys like him are a rupee a dozen in the South Asian diaspora.

  4. Charlotte4:17 PM

    OK. It's really true! When they can't disprove the science/facts, they attack with personal insults. If Razib were tall, blond and German he'd be attacked on that basis. A dweeb, he's attacked on that basis. That there is no genetic basis for intelligence (which goes against all grain of sanity and observable heredity both human and animal) is a faith based concept and anyone who doesn't believe in it is a ...fill in the blanks with personal attacks. It doesn't matter what RK looks like, or even what his past it. If you disagree with him, do so, but do so arguing as he would, with science, statistics, and genetics. May the best man win.

  5. Who the hell are you even arguing with, "Charlotte"?

  6. Well my web analytics are blowing up today over Razib Khan. Apparently he has achieved the ultimate in respectability - his blog was picked up by the allegedly liberal NYTimes. I will have more to say about Khan soon.