What is your general opinion on these three scientific topics?

Well, I thought I would finally start a thread on something I’ve brought up numerous times in other threads. I’m interested in people’s opinions on the following three scientific topics: evolution, anthropogenic global warming, and race/IQ studies. So, this is a poll of sorts, but it requires an essay response (multiple choice won’t cut it here).
I would appreciate it if this thread could stick with the question at hand. This thread is about your view of these three scientific topics. If you want to discuss one of these topics in more detail (or anything else), please start a different thread.**

I’ll go first:

Preliminary note: One idea running through all my responses is that I do not think it is enough to simply say that there is a scientific consensus on an issue. When forming my views on scientific topics, I like to look beyond any consensus.

1. Evolution. I fully support the mainstream view (i.e., that evolution occurred and is occurring).

All scientific studies without exception support the theory of evolution.

The theory was developed based on making observations of actual data.

The theory has made a large number of predictions that have subsequently been corroborated by actual data. There are no large factual areas left unexplained.

Proponents do not appear to have a a political agenda, and opponents very clearly do have a political agenda (and many of the opponents are extremely open about their agenda).
2. Anthropogenic global warming.** I am generally skeptical of the mainstream view (i.e., that the earth is warming, humans caused, and humans can stop it).

Although there is a widely reported scientific consensus concerning AGW, there is also lots of variation in the actual conclusions of different studies, the methods used, and the data relied upon. So, two scientists can be said to both agree on the mainstream view of AGW when actually their views differ quite a bit or are based on data that differs quite a bit.

The theory was developed based on using models, not on actual data. That is, data is gathered, then adjusted, then fed into models, so the ultimate data relied on to test the hypotheses (i.e., the results spit out by the models) is several steps removed from simply data gathered in the field.

The theory has made some predictions that have turned out to be the case, but the predictions are largely on ancillary matters that could turn out to be true even if the main conclusions of the mainstream view are not. Proponents generally only make predictions that cannot be determined to be true or not until several years in the future (when, the theory goes, it will be too late to do anything about them).

Proponents by and large have a political agenda. The grant-making process and peer-review process has largely been hijacked by politicians to shape a scientific consensus on this issue. Bodies used to develop a scientific consensus (e.g,. the IPCC) are very clearly political organizations. Many opponents of the mainstream view have a clear political position as well, but that is to be expected given the political position of the proponents.

3. Race/IQ studies. I largely support the mainstream view (i.e., that IQ is largely determined by genetics, so that each individual’s IQ varies around a mean determined by the genetic group of which they are a part). The only difference about my feelings on this issue and my feelings on evolution is that this field is much younger and there is less impetus to develop the thinking in this area, so I think there is more opportunity for correct divergent views in the future than is the case with evolution.

All studies I am aware of support the mainstream view. Studies and scholarship to the contrary tend to discuss other ideas, such as uselessness of the concept of an IQ or the concept of race. A broad scientific consensus has not developed on this issue mainly because not all scientists are interested in it, there’s no reason to develop a consensus (i.e., no political support for a certain conclusion as is the case with AGW), and many people find the result morally repugnant.

The theory was developed based on making observations of actual data.

The thory has made predictions that were then shown to be correct by subsequent studies.

Proponents do not appear to have a political agenda. By “proponents,” I mean the actual scientists that conduct these studies. Some people with other agendas latch onto these studies for their own purposes, but I don’t believe that weakens the actual conclusions of the studies. Opponents of the studies very often have a clear political agenda or see the studies as a thread to their political ideas.

Again, please discuss your views of these three scientific topics. If you want to take issue with anything else (e.g., you believe I have misrepresented anything factual in the above discussion), please start a new thread. Thank you.

Race is a meaningless construct, and the variation of abillities within an ostensible group is wider than the ostensible variance of the mean IQs of the “classic” groups.

What races do you believe exist, Rand? How many, and how do you define the? What race, f’instance, are the natives of Baghdad? Delhi? The Australian outback?

I accept the mainstream view for both #1 evolution and #2 AGW. For #3, I’d want to abstain, especially the way OP has phrased it. :cool:

I consider myself pro-science and (if I recall his views correctly) more progressive politically than Rand Rover. But I’m afraid a severe “political correctness” infests discussion of human race.

Common-sense might be enough to dispel the first point raised by Skald the Rhymer, but here’s a paper dispelling it more clearly. And clearly (but setting aside questions of their significance or whether clusters should be called “races”), techniques of cluster analysis can divide humans into genetic groups.

Here’s one such clustering. This particular one shows five major clusters and, to answer Skald the Rhymer’s question, Iranian, Indian and Australian are marked.

My father’s paternal grandfather was a Scottish immigrant who married a former slave. My father’s mother had a Choctaw mother and a “black”* father. My mother’s mother had a Cherokee father and a “black” mother. My mother’s father was white.

What race am I, and why?

*I put black in quotation marks because I don’t know anything much about the ancestry of the person referred to, but in the former case have seen photographs.

Simple: mixed. Just because something called a Labradoodle exists doesn’t mean that Labrador Retrievers and Poodles don’t.

:confused: Cluster analysis doesn’t assume an intrinsically hard partitioning. You have outliers, etc. Look at a night-time U.S.A. satellite photo: you’ll see Clusters of light at New York and Chicago, with smaller clusters and outlying lights in between. Even the network diagram I linked to shows Italian and Indian both as “Caucasian” but with Italian closer to African and Indian closer to the Eastern “races.”

May such clustering be politically and socially troublesome? Certainly! But the point of OP was, I thought, to ignore such implications and focus on the genetic science. It may be very inappropriate for example for a government authority to assign fixed “race” designations to people, but that’s irrelevant to any point I was making or, as far as I can judge, Rand Rover’s question.

Guys, please. There are plenty of threads to discuss the definition of race. Please stick to the topic.

Disclaimer; I am not a scientist, perhaps some of you have guessed this already. :wink:

EVOLUTION: Since we can see it happening (ie: drug-resistant bacteria developing after antibiotic use), it’s real.

AGW: The world climate seems to swing pretty regularly from ice age to warming, then back to ice age again. It appears from (my admittedly limited) research into past cycles that we are in the midst of one of the regular pendulum swings into higher temperatures that occurs regularly. I’m not convinced either way that humans have a part in the current warming trend since I’m not a climatologist, but it sure appears as though everything occurring right now fits pretty well with past cycles.

RACE/IQ: Both are subjective categories of individuals. Since I see human beings as a single species, not a collection of “races”, and an IQ test shows how well you do at testing and a specific set of skills and aptitudes, not necessarily how “intelligent” you are, race/IQ “studies” are just a bunch of crap, IMO.

Don’t pick on me Rand. This is a serious attempt to answer your questions. Thanks. :slight_smile:

Thanks. I won’t pick on anyone–I just want to hear opinions. So, thanks for sharing yours.

Riiiight, as if the third question isn’t the topic, and the sole reason for the thread.

  1. Evolution is a fact. I don’t believe for a second that we know everything we need to about the process.

  2. The earth is warming. Human industry caused it. No freaking way can humans even slow it let alone stop it.

  3. I’d be very surprised that mainstream science attributes intelligence primarily to genetics. But, I’m willing to have my ignorance fought.

First of all IQ is mostly hooey. You can’t measure IQ’s between disparate populations/cultures/languages.

Race is a cultural construct. If you want me to agree that certain populations are genetically limited to a range of IQ’s then you’re going to have to show me the physiological differences in the brains between populations.

No opinion on evolution - might as well ask what my ‘opinion’ is of the covalent bond.

I’d be broadly in line with the mainstream view of AGW. I do recognise, though, that it rests of the type of large experiments that make dissent quite difficult. Anti AGW people strike me as scientifically incompetent, by and large - and any credible voices of dissent that exist just get smothered by the cranks. Where there to be any serious scientific opposition to the mainstream, though, I do wonder how it would get a foothold in what is now an irretrievably politicised area of science, requiring big experiments and big funding.

Race / IQ is not something I’d hold an opinion on. It seems to be one of those questions that is interesting to bullshit about on tinternet, but is less interesting as a scientific question. Certainly the genetic origin and mechanisms of intelligence is of fundamental importance, but if you had the tools and understanding to make a dent in this question, why would you dick around with studying Asian IQ results?

I am a scientist, so I find it difficult to take any sort of serious position on scientific questions outside of my field. I’m not so pious that I won’t join in with everyone and just post on here with whatever makes sense to me, but it’s just recreational bullshitting. That some posters here appear to hold entrenched positions on multi-faceted, fragmentary subjects like race / IQ is preposterous, really, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

With regard to your 3rd subject, here’s a linkypoo that might address some of the facts you are interested in… here’s the abstract.

I accept the mainstream views on evolution and global warming without any special qualifications. To be clear, this means that I believe evolution has and is occurring and that the earth is warming in part because of human activity. I am not an expert in these areas, so this is largely me agreeing with my perception of the scientific consensus.

I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about race and intelligence. No IQ test is perfect, but I think it is very clear that generalized IQ is 1.) measuring something and 2.) predictive of important real world outcomes. Certainly intelligence is broader than most measures of IQ and it is hard, perhaps even impossible, to design an IQ test without some cultural bias, but if the concept is reliable and externally valid, it cannot be dismissed.

Because of my particular training, I see race in terms of how people self identify and how people are perceived rather than through genetics. In those senses, race is certainly not meaningless and there are differences in IQ across racial groups. Genetics is a distinct domain but, given that there are such obvious physical differences (determined by genetics) there is no reason to automatically presuppose that there are no mental differences. Having said that, I’ve never seen any evidence that clearly links differences in IQ across self identified racial groups to genetic factors. I have seen evidence that social and cultural factors ARE linked to such differences. Thus i’m agnostic though skeptical about the role of genetic factors and convinced of the role of social factors.

Also, to draw out a common logical fallacy: Variation in IQ within groups is substantially determined by genetics (true). There are differences between races on IQ (true). Therefore differences between races are substantially due to genetics (unproven). There is no reason to assume that the within-group variation is driven by the same factors as the between group variation.

  1. Evolution of species is as close to certain as any scientific observation - the observations do not require much interpretation through theories, there are not alternate plausible explanations for the same measurements. Natural selection is a theory which explains the observations without unnecessary hypotheses, and makes testable predictions (which have been confirmed).

  2. Human-caused global warming is epistemologically hard. There are no models which explain existing climate data without using CO2 as a forcing factor, but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be such models. Atmospheric CO2 and global temperature are both probably increasing, but there is some acceptance of theory necessary to accept the measurements. What it means for a model to be confirmed is not as clear as crucial experiments with simpler theories.

The focus on consensus and “peer-review” is a distraction in my opinion, teaching the public bad science. Human-caused global warming stands as the best current theory until someone has a credible model for climate that doesn’t require CO2 as a forcing factor. This is possible, but it hasn’t happened despite people trying hard.

  1. IQ almost certainly has a genetic component, but correlations between that component and a “race” component are an unnecessary hypothesis, which clouds any measurement. We don’t know if there is such a correlation, but we DO know that IQ measurement is not culturally or geographically independent, and its just as plausible that the measurement system has a bias to other areas of the genome than that the IQ has a bias to other areas of the genome.

Evolution: Fact. Full stop.

AGW: I believe that the data pointing to Global Warming is likely correct. I suspect that some of it is Anthropogenic, and some isn’t (i.e., we are both emerging from an ice-age and causing some additional warming ourselves.) I believe that, regardless of the cause of GW, any steps that Humankind can take to moderate the process should be *examined *(i.e., we should neither do anything at all that can potentially shave a micro-Kelvin off the mean temparature, at huge cost to our lifestyles; nor sit back and do nothing.) I suspect that political processes and public awareness will probably result in something that looks like the right compromise between complete inaction and thoughtless over-reaction.

Race/IQ: frankly, I don’t give a damn. I don’t care what an individual’s race is, and since intra-racial differences in IQ (that is, the difference between smart and dumb people in a homogeneous population) totally eclipse the inter-racial differences even if those exist, I’ll stick with evaluating every person separately, thankyouverymuch.

Evolution: well attested, I accept it.

AGW: it’s well-attested that the Earth has warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age. The rise in CO2 levels is documented. That CO2 is a greenhouse gas is known. But the link between the two has yet to be proven. The Earth has naturally been warmer before; the Earth has naturally been colder before. IOW it’s just as presumptuous to say that we aren’t causing global warming as to say that we are.

Race/IQ: I don’t know enough about it.

Standard scientific acceptance. No woo-woo needed.

Great for finding out how ignorant someone is. Not only in determining baseline scientific ignorance, but someone’s desire to embrace and cling to ignorance (usually, but not always, for alignment with political outlook). That so many are unable to grasp the fundamental principles of the theory demonstrates the utter failure of science education in the country.

Race is a term that sets things off on a semantical brouhaha that, while a worthy discussion in its own right, is too often a distraction from the question at hand. Race/shmace, whatever. IMHO intelligence is strongly correlated with many factors; genetics being but one. There is a wide enough distribution of intelligence such that any group large enough to be considered a race is going to show the same variation as another. Until some factor shows up that affects intelligence (in a generally accepted measurement) and is also endemic and multi-generational to and entire group (to name just two factors), race/group membership is not an indicator of intelligence.

Evolution: In it’s basic form the idea is so common and demonstrable as to be almost obvious, once someone points it out. Wouldn’t even normally be discussed outside of the classroom if it didn’t conflict with popular religious teaching.

AGW: To measure global weather patterns takes a lot of time and people. We are just reaching the point where we can see global trends and some scientists think they see disturbing patterns. I think it would be a bad idea to ignore their warnings without more study. Some of their warnings are a threat to the livelihood (and wealth) of some powerful people and some of those people want the studying to stop. Whaa? Wouldn’t even be normally discussed outside of the classroom if it didn’t conflict with the interests of the wealthy and powerful, and all us other fossil fuel users.

Race/IQ: Cart before the horse. Some groups want to leap to conclusions based on vague/undefined terms like “race” and “IQ” and, all too often, those conclusions just happen to be what the groups wanted before the “studies” were done. That is the opposite of science. If someone wants to do actual work to categorize racial makeup and then measure actual attributes instead of made up stuff like IQ then that would be science. I might question their motives but their measurements could be correct and useful. Only once it’s shown that some racial group is less able than some other would it be interesting to discuss what action we should take. Race A is shown to score 5 points less (out of 100) than race B on a test that accurately measures mental ability? OK, does that mean Race A needs more resources than race B, or less?

  1. Evolution: For the mainstream view. Solid science. Might as well add, since creationists tend to go there as well, that is so also for geology and cosmology. C’mon, guys, Genesis is an allegorical prose poem, not a scientific report.

  2. Climate Change: Threefold: one, yes, there IS climate change and much of human social economies (and the ecologies they depend on) are unprepared for potential effects; two, it’s probably partly natural but the evidence points to a *significantly * anthropogenic component; three, efforts can and should be made to mitigate the effects and if in the case of the anthro part that means the externality costs are priced into the economy, so be it.

  3. Race and Intelligence, for lack of a better word: I am unconvinced that any definable group of humanity can be presumed to be, as a collective, *** innately*** less capable of intellectual achievement. This one lends itself to confusion and may be doomed to being a political and not a scientific debate for another generation, due to the issue observed in this same thread, as to what do we mean by each of those terms. Within the development of “intelligence” there are hereditary, biological non-hereditary, physical environmental and cultural environmental factors; it may be that the hereditary/genetic and biological components of cognitive ability dominate that development only up to certain threshold points, and past that it’s nurture-dominated. Meanwhile, population groups will tend to concentrate certain inheritable traits, indeed, but when do we label a population group a “race”? And why SHOULD we label a population group a “race”?

Evolution: Fact, backed up by current science, anyone who says different has an (religious/political) agenda.
AGW: Fact, backed up by current science, anyone who says different has an (financial/ideological) agenda.
Race/IQ link: Speculative, not backed up by current science (not “mainstream”, either), anyone who says different has an (racist/ideological) agenda.
I think only the last needs elaboration:
Yes, there’s a genetic component to intelligence, not disputing that.
To jump from that in-group variation to between-group variation is ridiculous.
To do so based on flawed statistic massaging of incomplete and culturally-biased data is worse than ridiculous.
There are numerous studies that show that culturally-unbiased testing shows no racial variation in intelligence. Not statistical manipulation, mind you, actual experimental studies.