Out of Africa

black and white alien from Star TrekA white student born in Africa has been suspended from medical school (specifically, the euphoniously named University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey) for calling himself a “white African-American.”

I suspect there’s a tendency on both the left and the right to blur the distinction between this kind of lunacy and, e.g., the censure of white students who dress up in Klan costumes or blackface to reenact lynchings (as occurred on my fair campus a few years back). Many on the right would like to insinuate that making a fuss about demeaning minstrel shows is just as crazy, just as much a symptom of (as they like to say) “political correctness run amuck” as making a fuss about an American from Africa describing himself as African-American. Likewise, many leftists of the authoritarian variety might have us believe that the latter is a serious racist incident just like the former – a kind of verbal blackface, if you will.

Both reactions are wrong. These are cases where we need to, um, discriminate. (But don’t expect university administrators to figure out the difference without the help of a bit of pressure.)

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87 Responses to Out of Africa

  1. dennis May 26, 2009 at 2:05 am #

    I can not remember the African Historian who observed that the French regime in Algeria was worse than the white rule of South Africa, because, the latter, for all of its many atrocities recognized itself as part of Africa, whereas the French tried to make Algeria part of Europe. The man identifies himself as African, he certainly has as good a case to designate himself an African as a non American Indian resident of the United States does to call himself an American.

    • dennis May 26, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

      Wow I didn’t know Count Gobineau posted here.

  2. Robert Paul May 26, 2009 at 4:08 am #

    Agreed. I’ve been told that the student might have wanted to make a big deal out of it, but even if that’s true, so what? They opened the door by doing things like this:

    each student was asked to define themselves for a discussion on culture and medicine

  3. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 6:10 am #

    Many liberals claim (absurdly) that there is no such thing as race. If so, then a ‘white’ person born in Africa would be as much an African-American as a ‘black’ person whose ancestors were born there.

    As Murray Rothbard pointed out when the Bell Curve came out, we all know deep down inside that there are profound differences between groups and races.

    Those people who think we can have open borders and maintain the same country as we have are fooling themselves. It’s almost certain that the differences observed everywhere between whites and blacks as far as IQ and criminality go are genetic.

  4. Soviet Onion May 26, 2009 at 7:29 am #

    Those people who think we can have open borders and maintain the same country as we have are fooling themselves.

    Right, because America has never had any Africans in it before. It would be a totally different country if it did.

    Mexicans too. The last thing we want is for them to suddenly start moving into Texas or California.

    It’s almost certain that the differences observed everywhere between whites and blacks as far as IQ and criminality go are genetic.

    I’m a little pressed for time, so can I just call you racist and let that suffice for now?

    I see there are still a couple of hills to take in the Left-Libertarian Civil War. Cock-ringed queers, forward!!!

    • MBH May 26, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

      And the great thing is, appealing to what “we all know deep down inside” has historically proven to be the most reliable method of scientific discovery.

      Steven Colbert at the Press Club Dinner (2006): I’m sorry, but this reading initiative. I’m sorry, I’ve never been a fan of books. I don’t trust them. They’re all fact, no heart. I mean, they’re elitist, telling us what is or isn’t true, or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that’s my right as an American! I’m with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen. The greatest thing about this man is he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man’s beliefs never will.

  5. Miko May 26, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Those people who think we can have open borders and maintain the same country as we have are fooling themselves.

    This objection will no doubt be devastating to those libertarians who consider themselves radical defenders of the status quo.

    • martin May 27, 2009 at 10:10 am #

      How do people who claim that racism is the only or major cause black people are on average not as economically successful as whites explain that one?

    • Roderick May 27, 2009 at 11:48 am #

      How do people who claim that racism is the only or major cause black people are on average not as economically successful as whites explain that one?

      For those who think it’s the only cause, it would be a puzzle. For those who think it’s the major cause, there’s no conflict. (Cultural differences arising from presence or absence of a background of slavery could be another cause — as, frankly, could accent-ism.)

  6. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    California is a good example of why open borders are a bad idea.

    The issue is not racism, which I oppose.

    However, we should be realistic about racial differences. Looking at adoption studies and other evidence (for example, the fact that black IQs regress to a mean lower than white IQs) is strong evidence of innate differences in intelligence.

  7. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    Take a country such as Haiti, which has been independent for around 200 years. Or consider the nations of black Africa.

    If the issue is black culture, then why have blacks never developed a culture on the level of whites or Asians?

    Why do high IQ black parents tend to have children with lower IQs, whereas lower IQ white parents tend to have children with higher IQs?

    I was reluctant to accept a genetic explanation, but I really don’t see a way around the evidence.

    • MBH May 27, 2009 at 12:12 am #

      “Look, I don’t want to believe in leprechauns, but you leave me no other choice.” “No, you can choose the more plausible explanation: hail.” “Look, I don’t want to believe in leprechauns, but you leave me not other choice.”

    • Aster May 27, 2009 at 4:29 am #

      “Of course my house is being attacked by leprechauns! Look at the damage to my roof!” “That damage is more likely to be caused by hail, a phenomenon for which we have independent evidence, rather than leprechauns, for which we have … not so much evidence.” “I’ve given you strong physical evidence of leprechauns, and you talk about balls of ice falling from the sky? Give me a break!”


      The house elves did it! It’s all their fault! We’re only giving them what they deserve when we kick them and make them repair the roof for us!


      Not that there’s anything racist in the tuatha de danaan thing, anyway.

  8. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 9:11 am #


    Does that really explain all the differences? Look at what has happened to South Africa since the blacks too over. Look at Rhodesia. And again, why is it that blacks haven’t developed the economic strength or cultural ability to repel invasion?

    In addition, virtually all the adoption studies (for example looking at blacks adopted into white parent homes) have shown innate differences.

    It’s not a conclusion I’m happy with, but if there’s a better explanation, I haven’t heard it.

    • Soviet Onion May 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm #

      Wow. It’s a leaner, meaner Roderick Long these days, ladies and gentlemen.

  9. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 9:13 am #


    Eurotrash monsters subjugated Singapore and Hong Kong as well.


    • Aster May 27, 2009 at 9:45 am #

      Hey, he have a chessmaster among us, Nick “Natashe” Manley, who’s won like actual $$$! playing chess. I’m also very pleased to see how forceful and well-reasoned Nick’s writing has become of late.

      Un, and that should have been “earth, water, fire, wood, and metal”. Oops.

    • Roderick May 27, 2009 at 11:45 am #

      Yeah — I wonder why the Chinese didn’t include air in the list — especially since they believed in qi/ch’i, which played a role analogous to the Greek aether, which the Greeks sometimes identified as a form of air.

    • Aster May 28, 2009 at 9:31 am #


      I certainly don’t see why Chinese premodern protoscience (even tho’ it’s lots of fun) should be taken any more seriously than Western premodern protoscience (even tho’ that’s lots of fun, too).

      But as for ch’i… I’ve seen what is almost certainly publicly irreplicable, but pretty darn convincing, introspectively objective evidence that *something* is going on.

      My neo-mom saw a reflexology specialist on her last trip to Thailand. She was having serious difficulties in one eye at the time. When she went in for a foot massage, the massuese said that there was something wrong with her eyes… or, more, specifically, the precise eye which was giving her trouble.

      I’ve heard many people give accounts like this, including from people who consider themselves sharp atheists, even materialists. My ex-gf told me she had a biology professor send a student volunteer crashing to the floor by doing something with his hands without touching her which ‘disrupted the ch’i flow’.

      I was once at a course of tantra hosted by Good Vibrations, and a man who had been spiritually shattered by 20 year of sexual impotence came within a hair of weeping on the floor after the tantrika showed him how to do something. The topic of the class was male multiple orgasms.

      I didn’t get much out of that particular night, but Shawn Roop of Tantra Quest’s partner (whose names escapes me at the moment) made the air thrum like it was alive when I met her at the (2007, I think) Desiree Alliance convention. The affects were, again, irreplicable, but I felt something which was not subtle, and so did a whole room full of people.

      Many sex workers in the Bay Area patronise alternative medicine practioners. Now, a great deal of this is simply because the American medical system is so awful, and so prejudiced against sex workers, that blind luck plus a placebo effect unsurprisingly outperforms a system which rewards people who like wealth and status and punishes people who like science and healing. But I’ve heard a lot of people rave about reiki and acupuncture. And what they all have in common is the ch’i model as a base.

      A *positivist* acquaintance mine, who is a just-turned-18 genius aspiring hacker, floored me when he mentioned in off conversation that he’s seen something much the same (I can ask him the details again when I’m back in NZ in a week). *This* after 6 months of him having almost got me believing that everything I’d previously observed was a result of brain chemistry or the sign of a mental disorder… sigh. Homo sapiens canis. What can you do?

      As for myself, I’m seen some evidence of the sense for the prana thing. Some of them too fuzzy and subjective to account for much, some of them easy to explain by simpler means, others which were Overwhelming but too batshit insane statistical outlier to mention in rational company. But some of them really have been pretty convincing. Very convincing. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, convincing.

      I won’t say anything more, because the gods have a bad record of shooting the messenger on the issue, and besides it’s an imprudent thing for a feminist to mention.

      I’m not claiming that the ch’i/prana idea makes any scientific or philosophical sense whatsover, and completely respect rational people for finding the concept utterly absurd. But I know what I’ve felt, and I know what others I would trust with my life have seen. I’m stuck at wave/particle for an answer to this and completely stumped. But people who swear by this stuff are, whatever stupid theories they dig up from same-of-the-old-boss non-Western irrational patriarchal authoritarian religions to try to explain it, not crazy.

      The concept of ch’i belongs outside the political door and probably outside the university door. But something *is* going on. I’ve questioned my sanity and rationality many times, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I have good reasons to keep open the door (with a bolted chain) to the kind of thing the rest of me calls irrational mysticism.

      Which doesn’t mean that some of the most intellectually visible neo-Pagans aren’t just rebranded altruist-mongering televangelists trying to pretend to themselves that they’re not taking spiritual advantage of uneducated romantics for the sake of access into the high church club. You lyin’ Tartuffe.

  10. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 10:28 am #

    Mr. Onion,

    Careful, if you start talking about how the Egyptians were black and related mumbo jumbo, people might wonder if you know what you are talking about.

    I give strong scientific evidence. The response? White society is hurting blacks people’s self-esteem. Give me a break.

    You might want to check out Rushton’s studies, which even leftist Will Saletan conceded were hard to refute —


    For a lame response, check out Nisbett’s recent book about intelligence.


  11. Soviet Onion May 26, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    I’ll repeat it a little bit slower for you this time.

    Ethiopia? The Kingdom of Mali? Great Zimbabwe? Nubia, or the Nubians that were an integral part of the Egyptian Kingdom(s)?

    Nubians in Egypt, not the Semitic Egyptians themselves, the Lebu, the Meshwesh or the Greeks (Eqypt was always a cosmopolitan society, even prior to the Ptolemy’s). As in people who look like this girl.

    Now that we’ve got that clarified, might you want to try addressing any of my other four examples?

  12. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    I don’t profess to be a libertarian, at least not on this issue.

    If you read the Vdare article, you’d be directed to a lot of scientific evidence. Rushton has published in many peer-reviewed journals.


  13. Mark Martinson May 26, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    Mr. Onion,

    Does anyone dispute that black countries will do (relatively speaking) much better with the appropriate economic policies and that white countries will do poorly with bad economic policies? I certainly don’t.

    But you’ve got to show that these improved policies have resulted in substantial changes in IQ. As of yet, you have not. Why have programs such as Head Start not produced significant results?

    However, the evidence that Rushton and others have presented fits perfectly with a genetically based IQ difference hypothesis. For example the regression to the mean result is exactly what is predicted. The IQ of mixed-race people is also what is predicted.


  14. Roderick May 26, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    Well, I see there’s a hornet’s nest brewing here — and I’m on a tight schedule at the moment and won’t have time to respond to particular comments until later. So let me toss in two general points for now.

    a) It’s a scientific fact that the entire class of people socially classed as “black” have no more in common with one another genetically than they do with the entire class of people classed as “white.” So in that sense, yes, “race” is a social construct.

    b) See my older post A Dark Faith for some of the reasons why I don’t think alleged scientific arguments for innate racial differences deserve to be taken especially seriously.

  15. Daniel May 26, 2009 at 12:11 pm #

    I saw this post this morning and was dismayed by Mark Martinson’s racist stupidity. Happy to see it has been responded to adroitly. Unhappy to see Martinson is still grasping at straws, trying to pass of his own shameful prejudices as scientific fact, and projecting them onto other people (“we all know deep down inside that there are profound differences between groups and races.”).

  16. Briggs May 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

    I believe that Christopher Hitchens said it rather well.

    The enormous advances in genome studies have effectively discredited the whole idea of “race” as a means of categorizing humans. And however ethnicity may be defined or subdivided, it is utterly unscientific and retrograde to confuse it with color. The number of subjective definitions of “racist” is almost infinite but the only objective definition of the word is “one who believes that there are human races.”

    For years, I declined to fill in the form for my Senate press credential that asked me to state my “race,” unless I was permitted to put “human.” The form had to be completed under penalty of perjury, so I could not in conscience put “white,” which is not even a color let alone a “race,” and I sternly declined to put “Caucasian,” which is an exploded term from a discredited ethnology. Surely the essential and unarguable core of King’s campaign was the insistence that pigmentation was a false measure: a false measure of mankind (yes, mankind) and an inheritance from a time of great ignorance and stupidity and cruelty, when one drop of blood could make you “black.”

    • Roderick May 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

      Tangentially — have you noticed how often Americans apply the term “African-American” to blacks in other countries?

  17. Mike May 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

    To perhaps return to the subejct. What would the reaction have if Berber from Morocco had made the same statement? The Rif Berbers in particular are very “white” in appearance. According to Wikipedia, (I know) the percentage of the population that has light hair or light eyesis higher there than in Spain or Italy. Yey the Berbers have lived in North Africa throughout recorded history.

  18. Neil Parille May 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm #

    For those who are interested —

    1. Here is the Rushton & Jensen piece —


    2. Here is Nisbett’s response —


    3. Another response to Nisbett by Jensen and Rushton —

    PDF — Intelligence and How to Get It (Working Paper)

  19. Neil Parille May 28, 2009 at 6:35 am #


    I take it your claim is that the differences in IQ as well as their persistance (in adoption studies for example) are best explained by environmental factors (such as racism). I think this can explain most of the evidence, but not all of it.

    This is from Rushton’s later piece:


    We placed greatest weight on the Minnesota Trans-Racial Adoption Study because it is the largest and best-known of these studies and is the only one that included a longitudinal follow-up, with testing of the same children at ages 7 and 17 years [146,147]. It compared the IQ and academic achievement scores of Black, White, and Mixed-Race children who were adopted into upper-middle-class White families in Minnesota, whose parents had a mean IQ of 120 (much higher than the population mean of 100). The biological children of the adopting parents were also tested.

    The first testing of 265 children was carried out in 1975 when they were 7-years-old and the second in 1986 when they were 17-years-old. Table 3 gives the results. The evidence for genetic influences became more evident as the children grew older. At age 17 adopted White children had an average IQ of about 106; Mixed-Race adoptees, 99; and adopted Blacks, 89. Although the Black mean of 89 was slightly above the national Black mean of 85, it was not above the Black mean for Minnesota. Further, school grades, class ranks, and aptitude tests also showed this same pattern. Growing up in a White middle-class home produced little or no lasting increase in the IQs of the adopted Black children.


    I’d like to know more about this study, most importantly the ages of the children and their health when adopted. The results seem to go beyond even what hereditarians would anticipate because they generally claim environment contributes 20-30% to a person’s intelligence.

  20. Neil Parille May 28, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    Roderick and Araglin,

    I haven’t looked at these studies themselves, so I don’t know the details. I do know that statisticians have developed sophisticated tools to “weed out” variable factors, but math isn’t my strong suit.

    You point out that: (1) the adopted children are still raised in the same environment (Northern children raised in the South have Southern accents); and (2) that the home environment of black children in white homes might not be the same as white children in white home.

    I don’t know if these factors are enough to change the results. (1) How racist is the environment of upper-middle class whites in Minnesota? And the general environment is the same. I assume a black child raised in a black home will encounter racism and a black child raised in a white home will as well. (2) Parents who adopt children of different races are probably very concerned about their education. Even if they treat the children differently from their white biological offspring, it’s better to be in a high IQ home than a lower IQ home.

    In other words, the adopted children should be no worse off in the general environment and better off in the home environment. Yet this apparently produced no improvement.

  21. Neil Parille May 28, 2009 at 9:01 pm #


    If a black female came to you and said “I’m going to put my newborn up for adoption. One family that wishes to adopt her has an IQ of 120 and will send her to an elite school; the other has an IQ of 89 and will send her to an inner city school. Which is most likely to be beneficial for her intelligence and success in school?” Would you say “it likely doesn’t matter”? I doubt it. I doubt Murray (or Rushton) would.

    That’s why if this study is to be attacked, I think it has to be along the lines of how Nisbett apparently did — the age of the adoptees, their history of foster homes, and our ignorance of the IQ of the biological parents.

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