Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Peter Singer Supports Research Into the Inate Intelligence of Black People


Have we not at long last had enough of investigations seeking to find rational bases for perceived racial differences among us? Now, Peter Singer--while rejecting racism--supports doing research into the genetics of Africans to see whether they measure up to other populations on the intelligence scale; which could fuel the very evil he claims to reject. After recounting the recent James Watson imbroglio, Singer writes:
[A] genuinely difficult question remains: should scientists investigate the possibility of a link between race and intelligence? Is the question too sensitive for science to explore? Is the danger of misuse of the results of such research too great?

The dangers are obvious enough. Racist stereotyping harms the prospects of many non-whites, especially those of African descent. The concepts of intelligence and of race are less clear-cut than we often assume them to be. Scientists need to handle them carefully if they are to pose meaningful questions about the point at which these two concepts intersect...

Yet to say that we should not carry out research in this area is equivalent to saying that we should reject open-minded investigation of the causes of inequalities in income, education, and health between people of different racial or ethnic groups. When faced with such major social problems, a preference for ignorance over knowledge is difficult to defend.

What garbage! Intelligence isn't the same thing as, say, finding the cause for disease that might disproportionately strike people of African ancestry. There is nothing to be gained by doing genetics research into whether African people somehow have a slightly lower level of intelligence to other human populations. Moreover, the entire premise is racist because it lumps people into invidiously defined groups. It strongly implies that greater intelligence somehow equals being a better or more worthwhile human being--even if people are not supposed to think less of those impugned as being less intelligent. And what would he suggest if some difference are found? Genetic engineering of black folk to make them smarter? Ridiculous.

I am not surprised by Singer's views: He rejects the premise that human beings have equal worth simply and merely because they are human. If there is a "rational" basis for finding some humans to have greater value than others, he would grab it.

But what we don't need are "scientific" reasons to see each other as different. Rather, than looking for purported group characteristics--that would be irrelevant to individuals anyway--we need to promote universal equal rights and equal dignity for all humans without reference to capacities, abilities, or talents.


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