Human value


A week ago I had a discussion with another teacher about intelligence, whether IQ tests can measure it and what the differences in IQ scores between different racial groups mean. He thought that IQ tests are culturally biased towards white people and the fact that the first wave of Jewish immigrants to America scored lower than later arrivals proved conclusively that genes couldn’t possibly be involved. That of course is nonsense but there’s no persuading some people.

It occurred to me today that he may well have come away from our discussion with the mistaken belief that for me human value is predicated on IQ. After all, liberals regularly attribute all manner of weird beliefs to us non-liberals, including maliciously wanting black people to fail, presumably because we don’t want them to contribute to society, preferring them instead to drag the economy down. If liberals believe social conservatives are that foolish and malicious, why wouldn’t they believe that we want to exterminate anyone with an IQ below 100?

The truth is that I don’t judge people’s worth by their IQ scores. After all, my own score is nothing to write home about. (I don’t actually know what it is but since my school performance was poor and I can’t do Maths then it can’t be great). Apart from this intelligent people are often a bit peculiar, having unnatural predilections and gravitating towards leftist politics, all of which puts me off. So the idea that a Harvard professor of Gender Studies has greater human value than a plumber because he has a higher IQ strikes me as pretty stupid.

That said, I don’t value all people equally and simply because someone belongs to the same species as me doesn’t make me feel well disposed towards them. For example, I view criminals, drug addicts and people too irresponsible to provide for themselves as having less value than their opposites. Also, if given the choice between saving Ian Brady or leaving him to perish, I would choose the latter. I know, I know, Brady perhaps couldn’t help being who he was and ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ but the same is true of mosquitoes and cockroaches and I have no desire to save them either. In fact I believe a healthy society shouldn’t want its enemies to prosper.

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