Beaman: Malcolm X Would Have Loved It
A Politically Incorrect Musing
By Roderick T. Beaman, D.O.
As far as Iím concerned, the biggest loss of the sixties wasnít Martin Luther King, Jr. or John or Robert Kennedy but Malcolm X. In his autobiography, Malcolm X addressed a lot of differences between blacks and whites. Were he white and saying those same things today, he might be picketed as a racist but there again, probably not because he was the correct color to suggest it.
In his autobiography, he actually observed that blacks and whites smelled different. That was something that many people noticed over the years but no one had the courage to say. Itís also something that has supposedly been debunked in experiments since but some blacks think that whites have a peculiar smell, like wet wool, I think. What do you make of that?
Malcolm brought up other things too. In one very interesting section of the book, he raised the point that blacks might be better sprinters than whites and that whites may be better at longer distances or at other sports. He discussed it in a very straightforward manner and thought that it was something for reasonable consideration.
Whether it is cultural or genetic, the old nurture vs. nature question, there can be no doubt that certain countries, regions and races predominate in many sports. For years, there were almost no black swimmers at the highest levels of the sport. That may be about to change but even today, you can probably count on your fingers and toes the number of Olympic medals won by blacks in swimming. It has been overwhelmingly dominated by Caucasians and east Asians. Nature, nurture? Who knows why? Itís just
the way it has been.
In 1994 Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray published The Bell Curve. They suggested that there was a difference between the IQs of the various races with that of east Asians the highest, whites next and the lowest blacks. They further stated that the differences could not be explained by circumstances alone, leaving the conclusion that there was an inherent genetic difference in Ďintelligenceí (I put intelligence in quotes for reasons that will become apparent later in this article.) The uproar was heard around the globe.
Some of their work had been augured by William Shockley and Arthur Jensen who had studied it and come to similar conclusions. It seemed to evoke thoughts of the eugenics programs undertaken under German National Socialism with its extermination of Jews, Gypsies and other undesirables. Near riots broke out when the protagonists appeared to speak at some college campuses. I was struck that there were many problems with both the studies and the protests.
My first question was, ďWas it true?Ē If so, why was anyone protesting? The authors had gone to a lot of trouble so maybe it was. Itís science.
And if it was, so what? William F. Buckley raised the telling point that it was, after all, the supposedly intelligent people who, throughout history, had given the world most of its trouble, most recently Adolf Hitler, Mao Tse-tung and Josip Stalin. He had said something similar years before when he said that heíd rather have the United States run by the first three thousand names in the Boston telephone book than by the combined faculties of Harvard, Tufts and Brandeis Universities, a sentiment I agree with.
IQs had traditionally been measured with standard English and mathematics sections, yet even at that time there was considerable evidence that there were far more intelligences than those two fundamentals. For years people had recognized musical and other artistic genius and there was no doubt that everyone was aware that there was innate athletic ability such that not everyone could become a Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Mark Spitz or Paul Hornung. So, were other intelligences being overlooked?
Dr. George Sheehan was a cardiologist who was called the Runnerís Guru. For years he wrote columns on running and athletics. I remember one in particular where he wrote about Mickey Rivers, the then New York Yankees centerfielder. The New York sportswriters had gotten on Rivers saying that he wasnít particularly bright, unlike his teammate Reggie Jackson whose IQ
was measured at 160. Sheehan lamented that he wished he possessed Riversí, get this term, motor genius. So is there a motor intelligence? Rivers is black as is Jackson.
So what was being measured and what should be measured? Since then, a huge amount of evidence has emerged that the two cerebral cortexes have different functions. The left cortex handles logical, rational, analytical types of thinking while the right is more random, intuitive and holistic. Itís the left sided functioning that the traditional IQ tests have measured while the right
cortex deals is more important for less measurable functions that are important for music and the arts, fields where blacks often excel.
I first knew of the term genius when applied to music with Ray Charles. The next time I saw it used was with Stevie Wonder. I began to wonder myself if you had to be black and blind to be a musical genius. I think it was also applied to Al Hibbler, yet another black and blind musician.
So maybe the people who developed IQ tests were white and measured the things that whites excel at and consequently blacks were at a disadvantage. Possible? Yes and that might explain it plus it may validate a 1960s accusation that IQ tests and SATs were culturally biased.
Today, we know that there are people who are right brained and left brained. Left-handed people, of which I am one, draw more from the right brain while right-handed people draw more from the left brain. Left-handed people are more artistically inclined.
A web search for Ďhuman intelligencesí gets more than two million hits. Howard Gardner wrote about seven basic types - linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal later adding an eighth, the naturalistic intelligence and has allowed that there may be another - existential. A psychologist once told me that there are as many as 250 which I am sure can all be lumped under most of the above categories.
From the above, itís also obvious that not everyone can be an Albert Einstein, who incidentally was a mediocre science student in high school, William Shakespeare, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin or Thomas Edison but everyone can make contributions to society, if itís only making a living and raising a family.
Which leaves us where?
Itís obvious that there is far more to intelligence and human capabilities than we ever thought. It is also obvious that our educational system has overlooked a lot of it and maybe we ought to be investigating how to measure and encourage those with the other strengths. Our civilization would be a lot better off.
May 16, 2008
About the Author
Dr. Roderick T. Beaman is a board certified family osteopathic physician who practices in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a published poet, has composed a blues song and is trying to have his first novel published. It deals with the dangers of big government. He offers anyone who wishes to dignify the trash he writes with a comment, to do so.
Dr. Beamanís Archive on The Federal Observer