One of the holy grails of the contemporary racial realist camp, a popular version appearing in the journal, American Renaissance, is that IQ is relatively fixed, and hardwired. Whites are smarter than Blacks, and East Asians, well they have IQs of the charts. Another group is even higher. The Left has been critical of this thesis at least since the 1960s, but its efforts have mainly been on attacking the thesis that Whites have higher IQs than Blacks. There has not been much done on questioning the legitimacy of the models of mind employed by the IQ. The neurological assumption is that the brain is not plastic, and that cognitive abilities are relatively fixed.
That is challenged by contemporary work in neurology. David Perkins in Outsmarting IQ: The Emerging Science of Learnable Intelligence, (Free Press, New York, 1995), and also summarised by Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself, (Penguin, 2007), show that the brain is not genetically fixed, but exhibits neuroplasticity, to such a degree that it is capable of reworking itself to cope with many brain injuries, by literally remaking itself. This includes stroke victims and a woman who was born with half a brain, but the brain rewired itself.
Even more remarkable is the issue of whether a brain is necessary at all, metaphorically raised in a 1980 paper in Science journal:
“The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein chose as his prime exemplar of certainty the fact that the skulls of normal people are filled with neural tissue, not sawdust. In 1980 the British pediatrician John Lorber reported that some normal adults, apparently cured of childhood hydrocephaly, had no more than 5 % of the volume of normal brain tissue. While initially disbelieved, Lorber’s observations have since been independently confirmed by clinicians in France and Brazil. Thus Wittgenstein’s certainty has become uncertain. Furthermore, the paradox that the human brain’s information content (memory) appears to exceed the storage capacity of even normal-sized brains, requires resolution. This article is one of a series on disparities between brain size and its assumed information content, as seen in cases of savant syndrome, microcephaly, and hydrocephaly, and with special reference to the Victorian era views of Conan Doyle, Samuel Butler, and Darwin’s research associate, George Romanes. The articles argue that, albeit unlikely, the scope of explanations must not exclude extracorporeal information storage.”
The paper goes on to argue that a materialist account of mind runs into major difficulties, being cognitively limited, and thus unable to account for various cognitive abilities.
“This is what we’re told: Your brain is where your mind, consciousness and personality reside. “Reductionism,” noted the English writer & philosopher Colin Wilson, is the “simple theory that tries to explain the mind in terms of physical mechanisms.” Thus, consciousness “is a mechanism of the brain and nervous system.”
Put another way: Our mind, our consciousness, our awareness and our personality all come from the brain’s chemical and electrical machinery. When the brain works our ‘mind’ is its product. And when the brain stops working we simple cease to be. That’s the standard scientific presentation.
The opposing view is we have a ‘soul’, a conscious self-awareness that uses the body and brain to gather and process information. When the brain stops working the ‘soul’ leaves the body to continue its existence in a so-called ‘afterworld’.
Thanks to modern CAT scans, scientists can see inside people’s heads and view their brains, with some surprising results. The results don’t prove we have a ‘soul’ but certainly reveals there is something very wrong with the mechanistic theory that “mind is a function of brain.”
There are people with 9/10ths of their brain cells replaced with water, and they still function normally. … On the left, the dark area in the CAT scan is water (cerebrospinal fluid) and on the right is a normal brain. The horrifying photo to the right shows mother and her child with hydrocephalus. In babies, who have a soft skull, excess water in the brain can result in hugely inflated skulls. In adults the same process results in a brain that is squashed against the side of the rigid skull (as in the CAT scan). In some cases less than 10% of brain remains, yet these people often continue to function normally.
We are told or presume this is impossible because the image (on page 37 of the print magazine) shows the areas in which various functions of the mind take place. The second image illustrates the way electrical and chemical impulses turn the brain into our mind allowing us to think, to have memories and to function in our daily lives. But it appears there is something wrong with this concept… Well, maybe not wrong but inadequate.
The CAT scan image of the water filled skull belongs to 44-year-old French civil servant (proving, I guess the old adage, that civil servants are often brainless) who is married, has two children and lives a normal life. Another case often cited in the literature is of a man with a brain weight of between 50 and 150 grams – normal brain weight is 1,500 grams – who has a first class honours degree in mathematics and a tested IQ of 126. This man was documented by neurologist Dr. John Lorber who ran the spinal bifida unit at Sheffield Hospital. He studied 600 people who had this condition. Some had ‘only’ between 50 and 70% of their brains replaced by fluid, some between 70 and 90% replaced fluid, and there were 60 people who had 95% of their brains replaced by fluid. Of the last group, half had an IQ of over 100 (which is considered the mean average for intelligence).
There are enough cases of, for all intents and purposes, average people who have their head filled with water not normal ‘grey cells’. This is a challenge to the accepted theory that mind, personality and consciousness are the result of chemical and electrical activity between ‘grey matter’ in the brain.
Perhaps the idea that our personality rests in our heart or liver has something going for it? Aristotle believed the brain just served to cool the blood.”
The IQ fetishism of American Renaissance and like researchers such as Richard Lynn, is explicitly based upon a materialist theory of mind. But there is evidence that such a theory cannot account for existing cognitive capacities, led alone place some limitation upon human intelligence. In any case, neuroplasticity, and the research cited by Perkins, finishes off the East Asian IQ superiority hypothesis, or any other superiority hypothesis as such.
The reductio ad absurdum is the claim that sub-Saharan African have an IQ at the mentally defect level. I have said before that this claim is totally absurd. I spent time in Africa, and did not observe this, and if this was true, the people would have become extinct long ago. So, there must be something fundamentally methodologically incoherent with IQ, as other have shown mathematically:
“Arrow's Impossibility Theorem is applied to the problem of measuring IQ. It is necessary to combine specific ability orderings into a general intelligence ranking, but this is impossible without infringing one desirable condition. IQ scores have no place in economics.”