29 November 2013

A need for unbiased research

Recently, both Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have raised the question of innate IQ, breaking the usual taboo on the topic.

Mr Johnson has caused controversy by saying that ‘it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16 per cent of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2 per cent have an IQ above 130.’ In a speech given on Wednesday, he suggested that tackling economic inequality may be ‘futile’ because some people’s IQ is too low for them to compete.

We regularly appeal for sympathisers to provide us with the support that would enable us to be productive academic researchers. If Michael Gove, Boris Johnson or others wished to see the debate on IQ (and other topics) go beyond the current sterile nods to ideological correctness, would it not make sense for them to do something practical to get us set up as a fully fledged institution – which, with their contacts, they easily could?

Here is something I wrote last year about the distribution of intelligence, pointing out that a slight shift downward in the average IQ of the population can have dramatic effects on the sizes of both the high-IQ and low-IQ sections of the population:


11 November 2013

More about the sea change

Further to my post about the Hibbert Journal, one sign of the sea change that came over everybody’s outlook is provided by the fact that all the people who could be said to have supported me were at least about forty years older than I was. And all the expressions of recognition of my ability had an open-ended quality, implying that I was qualitatively different from other people in a way that suggested that I might do something a bit unprecedented, and that this made it appropriate to give me opportunity; whereas those who opposed me were generally characterised by sounding as if they had everything taped.

Nearly all of my supporters were men, and more or less upper-class. Unfortunately, not all of my acquaintances more than forty years older than me were supporters. For example, my worst anti-supporter was a woman, also upper-class and more than forty years older than me. She was not supposedly expert in any area and had no academic qualifications, but could infallibly influence those who had these things. None of the support which Rosalind Heywood got for various people other than me could be said to be motivated by interest in the area of work that was to be done. It was a case of her fishing around to find something that could be done by a statusful person, hence blocking any support for research that might otherwise have reached me. So you could say that the ‘interest’ that was being supported was an interest in blocking me from doing research.

Perhaps the support which I have sometimes got could be said to be motivated by the opposite; an interest in letting me do something which other people would not have thought of doing, and because I was exceptional. Cecil King more or less expressed this by saying to Sir George Joy that he ‘backed people, not projects’.

Seeing that interest in the work which is to be done is apparently irrelevant, and that preventing my doing anything is an effective motive, what motive would there, on the other hand, have to be for supporting my doing of anything? Apparently this would depend entirely on somebody being perceptive enough to see that I could do ground-breaking research which nobody else would think of doing. Such a person would have to be generous enough to wish to support my research, and to wish me to live in decent conditions while I was doing it.

In fact, some such motive was often implied by my supporters when I had any. I have already mentioned Cecil King. Another such person was the Reverend Mother of the convent school who said when I was thirteen that I was ‘more than merely talented: I was certain to contribute to the intellectual life of my time’. She tried to give me a chance by arranging to let me take the School Certificate exam when I was thirteen.

‘Celia Green is a person of exceptional gifts. She should be given the funding to work on the many topics she has been prevented for decades from developing. I make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to exceptional individuals.’
Charles McCreery, DPhil

08 November 2013

The Hibbert Journal

My colleague Dr Charles McCreery recently mentioned to me something interesting about the Hibbert Journal (a philosophy journal), which he had read, including back numbers, soon after finishing his first degree.

He said that he noticed a sea change in the contents round about 1946-47 – they became more vacuous, less meaningful. It is not that the contributors started to clearly say things that he found he disagreed with, or that it was obvious that they were promoting a point of view that he found claustrophobic. It was more subtle than that, but the change was definitely there.

Charles said it was strange that a philosophical journal could in any way be affected by the socialist ideas that became dominant with the end of World War II, but this indeed seems to have been the case.

I myself noticed a marked change in the attitudes of my teachers at about this time (i.e. around 1946-7). In my schools, and in other organisations, the ‘old guard’, who were more likely to be sympathetic, and in some cases even positively helpful to me, were retiring and being replaced by those who espoused the now dominant socialist, egalitarian ideology.

text of a letter to a senior academic by Christine Fulcher, Research Officer at Oxford Forum

I am writing to say that I think you have a duty to put pressure on your academic colleagues and contacts to give financial support to Celia Green.
Of course, I also think you have a duty to give Celia financial support yourself, as someone who knows her and has a clear picture of her situation; to help enable her to set up the university department with residential college which would provide her with the hotel environment and scope to do research that she needs, to relieve her frustration.
The constriction of our situation affects all of us, Celia in particular, as she is the person with the greatest need for intellectual activity and for an expanding situation. Charles and Fabian also ought have professorial appointments as heads of departments, and no doubt all three of my colleagues would be well-known and well-financed professors if the University of Oxford and the academic world in general were not so hostile to real ability.
The fact that Celia had to try to set up her own university department on being thrown out of Oxford University fifty years ago is an indictment of the standards and motivation of the University. The fact that after all this time our academic organisation is still supported solely by us is a clear indication that the standards and motivation of the academic world (as exemplified by Oxford) are still deplorable.