« Two New Blogs | Main | Froggie Tantrums »

March 23, 2006

Frank Ellis Gets It

Via email from Mr. Eugenides.

Yes, Frank Ellis has been suspended.

Dr Ellis told a student newspaper he supported a theory that white people were generally more intelligent.

The lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies argues that data stretching back 100 years point to a "persistent deviation" in the average IQ levels of black and white people.

More than 500 students signed a petition calling for him to be sacked.

Many of them later demonstrated in Leeds against his views.

Leeds University had previously said that those views were "abhorrent" but there was no evidence he had discriminated against students.

Does anyone actually have access to the full and original piece from the Leeds student newspaper? All I’ve (and I think any of us) have seen have been second hand reports. I’d love to see if it was in fact quite as blatant as the BBC says here (in effect "Niggers are dumb" is what they say he said). Other reports have actually quoted him as saying that there is an IQ gap, with sub-Saharan Africans averaging out at 85 or so.

What I’d really like to see is what he actually did say. That latter version could well be supportable: IQ tests measure whatever it is that people in industrialised economies think important as a measure of intelligence, they are not culturally blind, and we do also know that malnutrition causes both mental and physical stunting. So it might even be true that IQ tests measure exactly that gap....but for the opposite reason generally assumed, for nuture not nature reasons.

March 23, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2d3e53ef00d8347d959753ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Frank Ellis Gets It:

Comments

I believe an unedited version of his piece can be found here.

Tim adds: Weird. Very weird. He’s clearly a little odd and there are also some tthings I agree with (the Griffin prosecution was indeed a gross breach of freedom os speech). But he also is making an impassioned, even if misled, academic argument, references and all.

Posted by: bookdrunk | Mar 23, 2006 5:56:17 PM

A "lecturer in Russian and Slavonic Studies", is he?

So he's about as qualified here as William Shockley was, or as Chomsky is on history or political science, or Michael Behe on evolution, or Fred Leuchter on all the many fields he gets lost in, or Robert Faurisson on history, or Pinter and Streisand on international relations, or... well, you get the idea.

They should all damned well be free to yowl their gibberish in public without hindrance, though.

Posted by: P. Froward | Mar 23, 2006 8:08:42 PM

Apparently a private employer has taken action over its employee's contract because its customers have complained. The State must step in, I guess will be the reaction of this blog's site.

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 23, 2006 10:22:54 PM

Apparently a private employer has taken action over its employee's contract because its customers have complained. The State must step in, I guess will be the reaction of this blog's site.

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 23, 2006 10:23:36 PM

Data stretching back 700 years point to a "persistent deviation" in the average IQ levels of people in Leeds, and the rest of the country. That, I'm afraid, is a scientific fact.

Posted by: Harry Hutton | Mar 23, 2006 11:07:45 PM

Matthew: "Apparently a private employer has taken action over its employee's contract because its customers have complained."

Is Leeds university a 'private' employer?

Matthew: "The State must step in, I guess will be the reaction of this blog's site."

Leeds university and the Government are the same orginisation.

So far as I recall, Buckingham is the only independent university in the UK.

Posted by: APL | Mar 23, 2006 11:12:40 PM

IMO we have to consider and investigate the alarming possibility that the BBC is a witting or unwitting accomplice of Dr Ellis.

Consider this webpage posted on the BBC website last December, only three months ago:

"Overall, 40.3% of pupils in 2004 achieved five good GCSE-level qualifications including English and maths GCSEs.

"This compares with the 53.7% getting five good grades under the existing measure, covering any subjects.

"Chinese pupils outperformed everyone else: 62.9% hitting the new benchmark

"The figure for white pupils was 40.9%. Overall it was 41.5% for Asian pupils, but with marked differences between Indian (54.1%) and Pakistani (30.8%) and Bangladeshi (32.1%) youngsters.

"Among black pupils overall the figure was 26.4% - but for those from black Caribbean backgrounds just 22.8% overall and 17% of the boys."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4528546.stm

Posted by: Bob B | Mar 23, 2006 11:55:39 PM

IQ tests measure whatever it is that people in industrialised economies think important as a measure of intelligence, they are not culturally blind...

Indeed - I'd go further and say that all IQ tests measure is how good you are at doing IQ tests. (And I can say that because I was rather good at them in my youth.) The score will be heavily influenced by motivation, by exposure to similar previous questions, to the things the questions are asking about, etc etc etc.

Posted by: Natalie Bennett | Mar 24, 2006 1:39:13 AM

Bob, Bob, Bob. [shaking head sadly] You're missing the point.

The BBC, as the true voice of The Party, is simply doing its public duty in highlighting the institutional racism inherent in the British education system. It has been clear for some time that there is a crying need for a new Education Equalities Standards Unit and the beeb was just doing its bit to motivate the post.

Ellis, on the other hand is a foaming at the mouth, chest thumping racist loon and needs to be sent for re-education immediately.

It's saddens us all here at Thought Police HQ that you can't distinguish between the two cases. Perhaps we should be sending one of our re-education teams down your way.

Remember Big Brother has decreed: "Logical thought is dangerous thought".

Posted by: The Thought Police | Mar 24, 2006 6:59:27 AM

Naturally, I must accept any claim that Britain's educational system is institutionally racist but I can't quite figure why the system is rigged so as to show differentially good marks in GCSE exams for ethnic Chinese and Indian students.

Can someone, please, enlighten me?

Posted by: Bob B | Mar 24, 2006 8:44:22 AM

Leeds university and the Government are the same orginisation.

But if they weren't it'd be okay for them to sack Ellis, then, but because they are, it's wrong?

I understand the problem now.

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 9:51:46 AM

Bob, if you don't get with the programme and drop this intransigent attachment to logical thought, we're going to have to send the boys around.

Now you don't want that, do you? Belive me, it will be doubleminus bad.

Posted by: The Thought Police | Mar 24, 2006 10:06:51 AM

All joking aside, would it be okay for Leeds Uni to sack Ellis *if* it were a PLC and the Board of Directors decided it was the best idea?

Who would we be throwing the 'thought police' accusation at if that were the case? The directors or the shareholders or the staff or the students?

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 10:44:58 AM

NIB: "would it be okay for Leeds Uni to sack Ellis *if* it were a PLC and the Board of Directors decided it was the best idea?"

It doesn't matter, in that circumstance Leeds University plc, customers would be able to decide if they were in favour of the decision.

NIB: "Who would we be throwing the 'thought police' accusation at if that were the case?"

It doesn't matter, because the market would decide. There may be people who think that University dons should not think outside the [doctrinal] box, Leeds university would then get a section of that market. By the looks of it after fifty years of state indoctrination, it would be a lucrative sector of the market too.

NIB: "The directors or the shareholders or the staff or the students?"

It seems to me, the directors who are appointed by the shareholders to make such decisions. The staff could then decide if they wish to continue to work for the orginanisation, and the students, would decide if they are likely to get an education that would fit them sufficiently well, to fall into the ranks of state sponsored doctrinal conformity.

That is, get a job in the Civil service.

You see, the free marked gives everyone what they want.

Posted by: APL | Mar 24, 2006 11:13:06 AM

But isn't the problem that universities, whether state owned or private, talk themselves up as havens of freedom of expression and freedom of thought? The ideal being that with all this free thinking going on thousands of brilliant ideas will blossom. Experience shows that along with all these brilliant ideas you are going to get some that are not so brilliant, some that are just plain loopy and some that are objectionable.

That's the cost of freedom of thought and expression. Sadly one cannot have the one (with all its benefits) without the other.

RM

Posted by: The Remittance Man | Mar 24, 2006 11:30:35 AM

I get it - because he was suspended from a publicly-funded body, the descision *must* have been made for the wrong reasons.

Furthermore, if a privately owned body decided to suspend him, this would still be the wrong because the customers, staff and shareholders making it *must be* indoctrinated.

So it seems the only *Politically Correct* option is to NOT suspend Mr Ellis.

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 11:48:00 AM

RM: Newspapers get to choose who writes for them. Why can't Leeds Uni choose who works for them?

It irks me that people here assume that they have made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. Enlightened self-interest and all that says they probably don't want to alienate their staff and students. I don't suppose Ellis' opinions appeal to the lucrative overseas students market that much, after all.

Or, in other words, even in an ideal free market, Ellis might well have been suspended. It seems, though, that even in that ideal world, certain among us would still be complaining that something must be wrong. People must be indoctrinated, or there must be reds under the bed, or something.

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 12:04:03 PM

NIB,

This is not a question of public versus private enterprise. It's a question of hypocrisy.

Had Leeds University declared itself to be a place of intolerance it would be well within its rights to fire Ellis, regardless of where its funding originated. But that is not the case.

Univeristies, WHETHER STATE FUNDED OR PRIVATE, declare themselves to be places where freedom of speach and conscience reign, for the reasons stated above. Therefore to sack someone and effectively censor him for exercising those freedoms is hypocritical and worthy of criticism from the great unwashed in the blogospere and elsewhere.

RM

Posted by: The Remittance Man | Mar 24, 2006 1:29:38 PM

I checked their annual report (I know - weird idea, fact-checking) and apparently their 'vision' is:

"By 2015 our distinctive ability to integrate world-class research, scholarship and education will have secured us a place among the top 50 universities in the world."

And their focus is:

"* Raise our game in research
* Enhance our international profile
* Inspire our students to develop their full potential
* Enhance enterprise and knowledge transfer"

I don't see them 'declaring' the things you say they declare in that lot.

So basically, you're attacking a straw man. Well done - trebles all round!

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 2:13:23 PM

Indeed - I'd go further and say that all IQ tests measure is how good you are at doing IQ tests.

Yawn. This seems to have become something of a meme around the blogosphere of late. As far as I recall, from the last time that I did an IQ test (about 16 years ago), they are essentially tests of logic, language and basic numeracy.

If you cannot add up, you are an idiot. If you cannot speak or write your own language you are an ignorant fool. And if you cannot follow a logical argument then you are probably autistic. Or a total and utter idiot. But then that's what IQ tests measure, eh?

DK

Tim adds: No, not quite. A lot of IQ tests have a great deal of pattern recognition in them. (Or at least those things that MENSA advertise on the net do). Both in maths and in vision. You know, which is theodd patternout, or what is the next number in this sequence.

I always do terribly in these. Seriously awfully. No, I don’t claim to be a genius but I am rather better than the 60 ish I get on those tests. Igeta level of results that mean I shouldn’t be able to eat without drooling or tie my own shoelaces.

Yes, yes, I know, insert joke here, but that is one of the things that makes me terribly suspicioue of IQ tests.

Posted by: Devil's Kitchen | Mar 24, 2006 2:45:10 PM

Thanks for the treble, NIB, I'll have a MacAllen.

On the other stuff; one annual report hardly constitutes overwhelming proof. I've read enough to realise that an awful lot of creativity goes into their construction. Corporate vision and mission statements are another field of creative writing as yet unrecognised by the literary world. Spin is not the monopoly of a particular political party.

I'll bet somewhere in the founding charter or associated documents that there are some very noble sentiments expressed about academic freedom etc. I'm pretty sure that if you dig deep enough you'll even find a few official statements from Vice-Chancellors past where they have been called upon to defend some contentious event in the university's history and the freedom of academic expression or freedom of speech defences have been used.I'd be very surprised if you found any official repudiation of those sentiments though.

All I'm saying is that to my mind universities have used the freedom of speech issue whenever it has suited their purpose. For them to retract from that position now just because it is uncomfortable is hypocritical.

Either they should come clean and say, "we don't tolerate certain things and thus place a limit on the fredom of academic expression" (which IMO would be a very bad thing), or they should live with the freedom warts and all.

RM

Posted by: The Remittance Man | Mar 24, 2006 4:21:20 PM

All I'm saying is that to my mind universities have used the freedom of speech issue whenever it has suited their purpose.

Yeah, but they're hardly alone in that crime, are they?

Posted by: N.I.B. | Mar 24, 2006 5:09:25 PM

"doubleminus bad"
I believe that is "Double plus ungood"
Bad Thought Police-No Donut

Posted by: Robert | Mar 24, 2006 7:55:35 PM

It is true to say that IQ tests measure how good you are at doing IQ tests. But all exams and tests are proxies in this tautologous vein. The question is whether they are a good proxy for the measurement of some underlying talent. And indeed IQ tests do have a strong correlation with g, the elusive measure of general intelligence, which is in turn very highly related to future life success. One can debate the utility of IQ tests all day, but it is a fact that those who score more than one standard deviation below the mean (IQ of 85 or less) are statistically near-certain to be stuck in low-wage jobs, to have a greatly increased chance of incarceration, injury and early death. Conversely, those who score more than two sigmas above the mean (130+) are (again, statistically speaking) effectively unconstrained in their choice of career.

The thought police have poisoned the well in this field. That blacks on average score lower than whites, who in turn score lower than East Asians, who in turn score lower than Ashkenazi Jews, in incontrovertible and should thus be uncontroversial. Why these differences exist, what they mean, and what can be done about them, is legitimately controversial. But no-one should be pilloried for pointing out facts, no matter how unpalable we may find them.

Posted by: David Gillies | Mar 24, 2006 9:46:46 PM

I am so glad we have managed to get rid of this heinous specimen. May he also be sacked and never work in public services again.

Posted by: Hanif Leylabi | Mar 26, 2006 2:46:52 PM