Malcolm Gladwell simply isn’t smart enough to know when it’s time to throw in the towel:
First, the editorial in question made a number of other arguments that, I think, most observers would agree fall on one end of the nature-nurture continuum: that all IQ tests measure the same thing, that heredity is more important that environment in determining it, that group differences are relatively unaffected by schooling or socioeconomic factors. It also said that the IQs of different races cluster at different points, with the average IQ of blacks falling about a standard deviation lower than that of whites, and that these differences show no sign of converging over time.
Actually, first should have been Gladwell admitting that his statement about there being “no connection” between NFL draft order and quarterback performance is completely, utterly and provably false. But let’s summarize the points Gladwell makes in his continuing attempt to steer the discussion away from his egregious blunder by attacking “Stephen” Pinker. (The man’s name is actually Steven Pinker – you’d think Gladwell could get it straight by his second letter addressing Pinker’s criticism.)
1. Something Gladwell thinks about what most people would agree about an article. Who cares what Gladwell thinks about what people would agree with or not? And what does this old editorial have to do with Gladwell’s hypothesis about NFL quarterbacks anyhow? Irrelevant.
2. Only one-third of the editorial board signed the statement. BFD, especially since Gladwell doesn’t know the others “declined” to sign it, he only knows they didn’t sign it. Conclusion unsupported by facts.
3. The editorial appeared in the Wall Street Journal! Well, then it must be false, right? Genetic fallacy. And still irrelevant.
4. 14 of 52 signatories had received funding from an organization that Gladwell doesn’t like. Genetic fallacy #2. And, yes, still irrelevant.
5. I don’t know enough about a 1996 APA report on intelligence to judge if Gladwell’s summary of it is correct or not. But regardless, what does what Gladwell describes as its oppposition to “IQ fundamentalism” have to do with NFL quarterbacks and draft position anyway? All Gladwell has managed to prove proves is how far he is willing to stray from the original subject in attempting to poison the well against Pinker’s correct criticism of his egregious blunder regarding NFL quarterbacks.
However, Steve Sailer insists that there is method to Gladwell’s seeming madness:
[Y]ou’ve got to admit that Gladwell has a point: if people can make more accurate than random predictions about which college quarterbacks will be better than other college quarterbacks, then they can make predictions about more politically incorrect things, too. Thus, Gladwell wages relentless war upon predictions, upon quantitative thinking, upon science, indeed, upon that ultimate evil: knowledge.
It is no surprise that Gladwell is predisposed to attack both knowledge and the scientific fact of inherited intelligence, given how it is eminently clear that the man doesn’t possess a great deal of either.