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PERSPECTIVES IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE Volume io · Number 4 · Summer 1967 EDITORIAL: THENEED TO STUDY BIOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES AMONG RACIAL GROUPS: MORAL ISSUES Free dissemination ofinformation and open discussion is an essential part of the scientific process.—AAAS Committee on Science ln the Promotion of Human Welfare [i]. The dogma currently expressed by agencies of government and many social scientists holds that there is no genetic basis for the average differences in test performance, school success,job success, and behavior ofracial groups. The most sensitive and emotionally charged question is whether or not there is any biological basis for the disadvantages which Negroes experience as a racial group. Individuals interested in further studies find that many who are concerned with the advancement ofthe Negro hold that closed systems ofbeliefare necessary to unite theory and social action. Interesting views on the social responsibility of the scientist studying racial problems are stated by Morton Fried [2]. He makes the point that since the scientist must protect the health, security, and rights ofthe individual subject, he is also obligated to protect the larger social aggregates whose futures are influenced by his work. Fried seems to imply that no knowledge which can be misused should be made public. The scientist should be concerned about the uses of knowledge, but Fried fails to rationalize the withholding ofknowledge that can be used for good as well as evil or the fostering ofdogma that is intended to serve a good purpose but can be misused. It is true that racists seek any possible basis for distortions and generalizations against Negroes which can be used to limit their rights and opportunities . This risk is partially averted by emphasis upon the importance 497 ofattending to individuality rather than to racial origin, for the range of individual differences within a racial group is far greater than average group differences. Social actions extending far beyond equal rights and opportunities are taken on the basis ofthe plausible but weakly supported hypothesis that the average genetic potential of whites and Negroes is approximately equal. However, if this hypothesis is incorrect, it is not rational to randomly place individuals injobs, schools, and housing on the basis ofrace rather than abilities, interests, drives, behavioral standards, and the assumption ofduties. It may be that the resegregation ofraces in schools and housing with the accompanying social upheaval—most notable in our nation's capital but occurring rapidly in other large cities—is not a desirable substitute for integration according to individuality. When all Negroes are told that their problems are caused solely by racial discrimination and that none are inherent within themselves, the ensuing hatred, frustration behavior—largely negative and destructive—and reverse racism become forms ofsocial malignancy. Is the dogma which has fostered it true or false? Ifthere are important average differences in genetic potential between Negroes and non-Negroes, it may be that onenecessary means forNegroes to achieve true equality is biological. As shown by Moynihan [3], Negro women married to professional or technical workers had an average of 1.9 children, whereas Negro women below the so-called poverty line averaged 5.3 children. Since there is a positive correlation between socioeconomic status and I.Q., and since both are negatively correlated with family size, the possibility must be considered that the genetic potential of Negroes is declining. Higgins, Reed, and Reed [4] have shown that, although a negative correlation exists between family size and I.Q. among white families, those of low I.Q. have larger than average numbers of non-reproducing siblings so that the I.Q. ofthe whole population ofwhites may be approximately static. No comparable studies of Negro populations have been done. Knowledge can be misused; this does not excuse efforts to block inquiry and debate or to deny laymen in a democratic society the right to know. Closed systems ofbeliefcan also be misused, and ignorance is a barrier to progress. All possible causes ofpeoples being disadvantaged should be in498 Editorial Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Summer 1967 vestigated, and hopefully the application of knowledge to their advancement will be guided by moral principles. During the past several years the undersigned editor has invited social scientists to enter into an open...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 497-499
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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