Here are a few of my opinions:

1. Black men are generally better boxers than white men

2. Vegetarians tend to be thinner than meat eaters

3. Asians are on average more intelligent than white people

4. Socialists are usually much more angry and unhappy than capitalists

5. Men tend to be physically stronger than women

6. Women tend to be more caring than men

These opinions of mine are totally unfounded. I have no empirical evidence on hand to support any of them. They are simply general impressions that I have about different groups of people. Did I offend anyone with them? I doubt very much that I did. Now, lets say that instead of writing “Asians are on average more intelligent than white people” I had said “Whites are on average more intelligent than blacks.” I suspect that there would be a fury unleashed against me from the very bowels of hell itself. No one batted an eyelid when Michael Moore published a book called “Stupid White Men.” The book was widely praised. But, surely if someone had written a book called “Stupid Black Women” they would have been lynched if only the limp-wristed soft-bellied tit-mubbling plonkers of the politically correct left could muster the balls to try. I wonder how many of my dear readers nearly shit in their pants when they saw the title of this blog. And did they risk needing clean pants when they first clapped eyes on Moore’s literary offering?

When white people are criticised, putdown or mocked very few people really give a toss. But when the target of the said mockery is a black person there is hell to pay. The current wisdom is that only blacks can suffer racism, and only whites can be guilty of it. Interestingly there is no reaction when education experts and government papers point out that Chinese pupils constantly perform better than white pupils in our schools.

Dr Frank Ellis, a Russian tutor at Leeds University, had no desire to gratuitously criticise, putdown or mock black people when he recently commented that he found the empirical evidence suggesting that black people on average have lower IQs than white people to be convincing. He was stating his opinion, unlike me above, with the aid of empirical evidence. His argument is that data stretching back for the past century points to a persistent deviation in the average IQ of black and white people. Dr Ellis has expressed support for the Bell Curve theory, propounded by Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray, which concludes that ethnicity can play a part in IQ levels. He praised the work of scholars such as Hans Eysenck and Arthur Jensen who have come to similar conclusions. [Incidentally, there is probably more evidence supporting this conclusion than there is to support the theory that global warming is caused primarily by human interaction].

As a result a group of around 500 students have signed a petition calling for Dr Ellis to be sacked. The Student Union said it was “horrified” by Dr Ellis’s views and students are threatening to picket his lectures unless the university “takes all necessary action to remove him.” It said: “We are extremely concerned that students from ethnic minorities, who he claims are inferior, could face discrimination from Dr Ellis’s presence on campus.” Leeds University, while admitting that there is no evidence that Dr Ellis discriminates against blacks, did say that his views were “abhorrent.” Leeds University Secretary Roger Gair said: “Dr Ellis has a right to his personal opinions, but he does not have the right to treat students or colleagues in a prejudicial or discriminatory manner.”

What amazes me is that Dr Ellis’s views are written off as abhorrent with no regard for the possibility that they may actually be true. The offended parties have adopted an incredibly cavalier approach to the truth. Their first reaction is to label the views abhorrent, rather than exploring them and, if necessary, rejecting them as false. It is clear to me that many of these students and university chiefs aren’t terribly bright. Shouldn’t they be sweeping corridors for a living, or some other occupation more fitting the strength of their intellect, instead of running a university? Can’t students research and think anymore? Perhaps our universities are more akin to lunatic asylums than we care to admit.

The Student Union has been caught up in a wave of emotionalism such that it cannot even grasp some basic facts of the case, and has lost all concept of nuance. To them Dr Ellis simply regards all the members of all ethnic minorities as inferior, when in fact Dr Ellis said nothing of the sort, and nor did the researchers whose work he quotes. Jensen was concerned with the undisputable recorded differences in IQ scores between blacks and whites, while Eysenck actually pointed out that Japanese and Chinese students scored on average higher than whites when it came to abstract reasoning. To accuse Dr Ellis of holding the view that ethnic minorities are simply inferior displays either a wilful ignorance of his actual position or a gross stupidity on the part of the Student Union. I’ll leave it to my readers to decide which it is.

Dr Ellis certainly shouldn’t give a black person a lower mark simply because they are black, but there is no evidence whatsoever that Dr Ellis is or has been guilty of discriminating against students from the black community or any other ethnic minority group. For one thing all university testing is marked by more than one person, and in most cases there is an external examiner from some other institution keeping an eye on all assessment. Moreover, Dr Ellis explicitly states that the theory he supports does not preclude the existence of many black people of exceptional intelligence. The figures are averages and as such cannot tell us anything about individuals. Take one of my opening statements by way of example. Men tend to be physically stronger than women – on average. However, there are some women who are physically stronger than most men, and many more women who are physically stronger than many men. In the case of IQs, just because Group X has a slightly higher average IQ than Group Y does not allow us to conclude that all members of Group X have higher IQs than all members Group Y. Nor can we say that any particular individual in Group X has a higher IQ than a particular individual in Group Y simply by virtue of belonging to either group. The fact of the matter is that there will be substantial overlap between the two groups, and even the most stupid bunch of people could be members of the higher IQ group. And, Dr Ellis fully accepts this: “The way to deal with this is not to treat people as groups, but to treat them as individuals.”

The terrible nature of the reaction against Dr Ellis is symptomatic of a culture that puts political, cultural and religious sensitivities before the quest for truth, and which has become intellectually lazy. Whenever someone wants to argue for something these days the typical way to do it is to invent a right – “it’s my right to…” thus hoping to end all debate before it begins. In a similar fashion when someone doesn’t like something then they just slap it with an “ism” – racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, fascism – to the same end: kill debate before it can start. For instance, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discuss the issue of immigration in Britain without someone throwing the word racism around regardless of the points of discussion. Words like racism and sexism are therefore quickly losing any conceptual content they might once have had. If you don’t like something you just slap an “ism” on it – to show you disapprove, whether or not the thing is actually an instance of the “ism” in question. It’s a convenient way to side-step actually having to discuss and debate difficult questions.

The truth is that there IS evidence for Dr Ellis’s “abhorrent” viewpoint. This evidence could be explained by genetic or biological factors and/or social, cultural and historical factors. How many of the protesting students have actually read the research? How many have critically assessed the methods and reasoning involved? Very few, apparently. It’s much easier to slap Ellis down for “calling all black people stupid” or “believing ethnic minorities are inferior.” Academic debate has disappeared off the radar, leaving a massive gaping hole that students and academics who should know better have filled with lazy, blame-game, finger-pointing and name-calling. If you disagree with Dr Ellis why not do so openly by explaining where he is wrong? It’s difficult not to conclude that many of these academics and students simply don’t want to discuss the issue at all. At an institution of higher learning this is a terribly sad state of affairs. If truth can’t come before political sensitivities at a university then where can it?

Leeds university claims that Dr Ellis’s viewpoint might be in conflict with its values which include “mutual respect, diversity and equal opportunity.” As noble as these values are they are not the most basic of an institution of higher learning. The most fundamental value of any university is the unhindered pursuit of the truth regardless of where it leads. When truth collides with the musings of a bunch of thin-skinned sensitive souls then there should be no question about which should prevail.

Truth should reign supreme – and this, to me, is a black and white issue.

Stephen Graham B.Th (Hons)