The Big Brain Cipher – The fallacies in J. Philippe Rushton ‘s theory
Many are familiar with J. Philippe Rushton . Rushton is a British born psychologist that believes Black Africans low IQ scores are due to the fact Black Africans have smaller brains than Europeans and Asians. The fact that Rushton is a psychologist and has arrived at this conclusion all the more points to his own short comings. Being a psychologist one should factor in all available data from socio-economic, environmental and psycho-social data-all aspects of psychology not just brain size and genetics which are aspects of biology. Again Rustin is a psychologist, he is neither a geneticist nor biologist. It seems Rushton has failed to take in all possible data relevant to such a study purposely or by lack of insight on his own part. Rushton also has arrived at his conclusions using indirect data. For example Rushton jumps to the conclusion that African American low IQ is due to African Americans having a smaller brain with out factoring in psycho-social & or environmental factors. Nor does he delve into brain anatomy or function, two things that also could possibly explain away any assumed big brain advantage. These are all factors I will address and in the end clearly illustrate the holes in Rushton’s theory.
I will briefly state that most minorities are marginalized & suffer from some form of oppression or discrimination by the larger group they live near or with in. The Dalits and Tamil populations of India, American Indians,Rohingya Muslims of Burma, Palestinians and almost any marginalized or minority group has been labeled lazy, ignorant, violent and suffers from unemployment and poor education. So when looking at other marginalized populations outside and with in the U.S. one finds the same social-environmental dynamics and the same symptoms. It takes a small leap of logic to conclude the socio-environmental conditions are the primary causation of the social ills or at the very least significant contributing factors. Where you have a population that is discriminated against you will also find members of the dominant/privileged group assuming the symptoms of this discrimination(lack of achievement, crime, etc) are inherent natural traits of the oppressed group. Rushton being a member of a privileged group has fallen into this faulty line of thinking. Clearly there are psycho-social dynamics that are in effect here that Rushton seems to overlook in the case of Black Americans. Rushton either ignores, minimalizes or dismisses as non existent the effects of slavery, Jim Crow (American Apartheid) and systemic racism (such as conservative pundits like Dinesh D’Souza has) . Rather than investigate social, cultural or psychological factors that may be stifling Black academic achievement and IQ scores the psychologist J.Ruston choses to theorize this lack of achievement is based in genetics and biology. Again for a psychologist to ignore phenomena rooted in his field of study and to base his theory on phenomena out side his field of expertise is not only strange but disturbing.
So lets address the “boogie man” / “elephant” in the room
Are Europeans and Asians brains bigger than Black Africans?
Why yes they are but here lies the rub. European and Asians also have bigger eyeballs. In fact all people living in and or native to northern latitudes have bigger brains and eyeballs. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804214410.htm
You can see this dynamic with in the populations living at varying latitudes in Europe. As you travel north in latitude studies show Northern Europeans have bigger eyeballs and brains than Southern Europeans
This being the case the people with the biggest brains and eyeballs are Eskimos or the Inuit people who live near the North Pole. European and Asian brains are bigger in the areas dealing with sight. During the ice age it was dark and difficult to see. Also today due to sunlight refraction it is more difficult to see in Northern latitudes.
Neanderthal man who was an early cousin to homo sapiens (us) evolved during the ice age and had a bigger brain than any human. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319093639.htm
We can tell from early Neanderthal artifacts they were less intelligent than homo sapiens archaic or homo sapiens sapiens(us/modern man) so their bigger brains did not equate to a higher intelligence. In fact it appears to have been substantially lower Europeans and Asians like Neanderthal developed in the northern hemisphere during ice age climatic changes. Both Asians and Europeans evolved bigger eyes and optic nerve areas to see better and developed bigger brains to deal with the extra sight sensory input
So now we understand “why” Europeans and Asians have bigger brains. The next question is does this correlate with their inherently having a higher IQ than Africans?
First lets look at two areas of the brain Asians and Europeans have increased size and have more grey matter dedicated to:
Above we have illustrated the visual cortex . Again note this extra brain matter is dedicated to analyzing increased visual input. Another area larger in Asians and Europeans are the lateral ventricles (seen in image below) These are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which bathes and cushions the brain and spinal cord . The lateral ventricles do not consist of any grey or white matter.
Cognitive functions such as -executive functions, planning, abstract reasoning, impulse control, sustained attention and insight are not carried out in these areas. These functions are carried out primarily in the frontal lobe were the Orbitofrontal Cortex is located.
African Americans in fact have a larger orbitofrontal cortex than Caucasians.
Location of Orbitofrontal Cortex
A Plos Genetics study states- “In models examining specific brain regions, the only statistically significant difference was that African-Americans exhibited larger left OFC volumes than Caucasians. However, when regional ratios were examined (regional volume/total cerebral volume), the African-American cohort exhibited greater ratios for the right amygdala and bilaterally for the OFC “
The Plos study states that over all:
“there were no statistically significant differences in total gray matter, total white matter, or ventricular CSF volumes.
Scientist explain why poeple that evolved in northern climes have bigger eye balls & brains & what that extra brain matter is used for & below I have another link from another source.
Another point Rushton glazes over is the fact that women have smaller brains than men. When asked about this in a recent documentary “Race and Intelligence : Science’s Last Taboo” Rushton stated that “the difference between men and women’s brains is due to spatial ability, the difference between White, Black and East Asian brains is due to general intelligence” he ends this statement in saying “ this is what we think.” He does not explain why brain size does not correlate to higher intelligence between White men and White women but he indicates brain size is something significant between Blacks and Whites. He simply states this is what he thinks. Again he does not factor in any environmental or cultural elements that a psychologist should. Rushton is arriving at conclusions from biological and incomplete educational data. I say incomplete because if I test an African American child raised in a drug and gang infested project and a White child raised in suburbia and conclude the Blacks lower score is due to his or her brain size alone I am disregarding the whole environmental factor. Not until I can test a Black person and White person who not only share the same economic bracket but both have cultures that support or encourage education my test data will always be skewed.
This is like testing two mice in different mazes. One maze is relatively simple & benign the other more complicated & filled with obstacles designed to discourage the rodent. The mouse in the simpler maze would complete the maze quicker & at a higher % than the mouse in the maze filled with obstructions. Would any one with common sence & a non biased world view assume the mouse with the easier maze to be inately more intelligent because he completes his maze at a higher frequency? I doubt it but this is what we are dealing with in regards to this Black/White IQ issue
As a psychologist Rushton should understand that the psychological legacy of racism and slavery has affected Black culture negatively and the presence of systemic racism in today’s society act as a negative psychological effect. A psychologist should not be negating these factors and should be doing further research into them to arrive at an accurate answer. The conclusion Rushton has arrived at is the equivalent of a florist stating the white roses grown in fertilizer and sunlight are inherently superior to red roses grown in poor soil not only because the white roses have grown bigger & taller but because the roses are white. If the florist does not consider the conditions the roses were grown in the florist conclusions will be invalid. Some might theorize “well” since Europeans & Asians have bigger eyeballs thus cans see better and have a bigger brain dedicated to the increased sensory input and the analysis of this input perhaps this gives them some type of edge. The opposite of this is shown in studies. People who are myopic (nearsighted) tend to have higher IQ’s
So this would suggest the increased eyesight of Asians and Europeans would at best be a non factor in intelligence Again I must point out the whole brain size argument is invalid because again Whites and Asians only possess more brain matter used for sight sensory intake and processing. This is the same as if certain human groups had a brain that possessed a larger primary olfactory cortex for smelling . This in no way would make one smarter. The latest studies state that overall a bigger brain(with in the human range of 1100 grams to 1400 grams)does not equate to higher intelligence. http://www.livescience.com/32142-are-big-brains-smarter.html You do have older yet relatively recent studies that state brain size does equate to higher intelligence and men are more intelligent than women because of this. Throwing a wrench in the conclusions arrived at by these studies are women like the last Guinness world record holder for IQ – Marilyn vos Savant who IQ was tested at 228.
For those who may state Savant is an outlier recently overall women have now begun to outscore men in IQ test
There are some who may argue that since Black Africans and other dark skinned peoples possess higher amounts of melanin & melatonin which acts as an neurotransmitter by which neurons (brain cells) communicate to each other. This coupled with the fact Blacks have a functional pineal gland and a larger orbitofrontal cortex arguments can be made that Black Africans are more intelligent and this is why many are still able to achieve academically and economically in spite of a societal system that’s is set against them.
I state this to simply point to oppossing arguments stating Blacks are inherently more intelligent but simply perform poorly academically due to systemic forms of discrimination.
I my self feel we all have the same base potentially but people & populations achieve or under achieve depending on what environment they have been reared & or live in.
I theorize people such as Rushton not only suffer from a cultural arrogance but psychologically deal with “White guilt” by placing blame on the victims for a plight their ancestors have placed them in and they themselves have helped perpetuate or remained apathetic to. This is a well known psychological defense tactic. In fact the term “blaming the victim” was a term coined by William Ryan in his 1971 book Blaming the Victim. In the book, Ryan described victim blaming as an ideology used to justify racism and social injustice against black peoplein the United States (wiki- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_blaming ) You will find this “victim blaming attitude” common in people who are part of the upper, ruling or privileged classes. By labeling a people inherently inferior the inference is made that their socio economic condition is of their own making. This slippery slope could even have one arrive at the conclusion that slavery, colonization and all other subjugation of peoples of color throughout the world are the fault of the subjugated. This circles around to the ‘White mans burden” mental state that states Europeans have done colonized peoples a favor for bringing them technology and so called civilization. The North Western Europeans who control much of the world seem to have forgotten they were the barbarians who with their “big brains” brought about Europe’s dark ages. They have forgotten they have borrowed (directly or indirectly) most of the technology that allowed them to conquer the world from their Asian, Arab and African brothers. Such theories as Rushton’s fall flat in the face of the absence of any early ancient North Western European civilizations. You will find no pyramids in ancient Berlin no Pantheons in an ancient Norway. All early civilization are found near or with in the worlds tropical zone. Europe’s earliest civilization were the Minoans who were located south of Italy on the modern Islands of Crete and Thera, the most southern parts of Europe-nearest to Africa and the middle east.
Frescos from Europe’s earliest known civilization the ancient Minoan-circa 2700 BCE – 1500 BCE
In many ways I regard the African American as a Ferrari engine that’s been dropped into a Chevy chassis and connected to a Ford transmission. An unsuspecting driver will curse the engine stating that it is a piece of junk and just doesn’t run right. The fact is that the reason for the malfunction is that the engine has been connected to a system that is not designed for it. Even though the Ferrari is one of the worlds best built and efficient engines as long as its connected to a system not designed for it, it will perform badly. This has been the Black mans plight in North America. A human with so much potential but held back by the very system he must live in.