I guess that I should not have been surprised that my posting on the Watson slur on the intelligence of Africans versus Europeans to various lists would produce a flurry of debates regarding the relative effects on intelligence of nurture versus nature. There seem to be a good many out there who consider their own genes to be the best!

However, what I am reminded of more than racial biases are the class and cultural attitudes that I discovered as a teen exchange student in Britain. The Brits operated with a complex mix of myths about their various sub-groups. The English were certain that they were inherently superior to the penurious Scots, the drunken Irish, and the song happy Welsh. The various classes ran parallel to these rankings with the middle class glad that it was superior in all ways to the lower classes — and subservient and worshipful towards the upper classes. I found this on all levels among those whom I encountered, ranging from the bottom of the heap in the East End of London to members of the House of Lords. At least one was more likely to find free spirits at either extreme — from one of which came the Beatles.

One of the ‘saints’ of my childhood days often cited for us was the medical missionary, Albert Schweitzer, who did his thing in Africa. I happened to bring up his name with my brilliant Nigerian college roommate once and discovered that he despised Schweitzer for his patronizing attitudes towards Africans. Perhaps Watson suffers from a characteristic British hubris — remember all that Kipling stuff about the white Man’s burden?


What goes around, comes around?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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