October 18, 2007

Dr Watson I presume

A quick note on Dr Watson and his research on intelligence and the PC shit storm it has stirred up. His research may be irrelevant but he should not have his freedom of speech contravened in this way.

It is not the first irrelevant research to be done, neither is it the first to be done by somebody that had previously made dramatic discoveries, nor is it the first time that a scientist has wanted to talk about their irrelevant research in public. Normal human variation is far to large and will swamp any signal that might be there. In normal interactions between individuals, whether or not it is true, it is simply not useful data.

That it is not useful to everyday life and goes against certain PC shibboleths however should not stop his freedom to talk about this research. If further data shows it to be untrue then he will have made a fool of himself in public, and he won't be the first person to do that either. To be at liberty to make a fool of yourself is a liberty that is fundamental to the human condition. If it turns out to be true then perhaps it will spark off some further avenues of research expanding human knowledge, knowledge is always in itself good even if it can be twisted by people in order for them to pursue goals which are bad.

The reaction to bad research should be better research, not attempting to gag the researcher, because better research will always overwhelm the worse.


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