I am not entirely sure what I wanted to achieve with this series. I would guess that most of those who read this blog are already acquainted with the ideas, so it as not as if I would be teaching something new. It is certainly not because the topics remain undiscussed elsewhere. It was not even that I felt I had a particularly unique take on the themes.
So why bother?
I suppose the simplest reason is that I wanted something to write about. The subject gave me topics to write on, as well as a chance to organize my own thoughts. I also hoped to demonstrate that a reasonable person could arrive at such heretical thoughts.
I stayed away from a scientific approach partly because that would lead to the quoting of competing studies and a mine-is-more-respected/scholarly-than-yours type of argument. I am not disclaiming the scientific approach but I am not certain it is the always the best for human affairs. Social science is not physics, you cannot measure things with pinpoint accuracy; two similar humans are not equivalent the way two atoms of hydrogen are. If the study of humans is similar to physics, it is more like the probabilistic quantum world than the clockwork world of Newtonian physics. We will never be able to perform a controlled experiment that cannot be gainsayed by the consideration of confounding factors. All human studies suffer from the uncertainty principle; it is difficult to accurately determine all needed variables at the same time.
In any case, science is not without its own biases. The need for funding, peer pressure, groupthink, and all the other problems of cognition may affect the outcome of experiments. When measurements are soft and definitions loose, it is easy to, willfully or accidentally, fudge results. By their nature, measurements of human traits will be soft (there is no calibrated tape measure for IQ or charisma) and definitions loose (e.g., who exactly counts as White, what BMI counts as “obese”). In physics a gram, is a gram, is a gram; measurements have fixed definitions and stable reference points, phenomena have clear descriptions (e.g., freezing, boiling).
Regarding human affairs, most will reason by experience and intuition, backed by reason. They will look at the world, notice patterns, and attempt to reason from those patterns. When science fails to explain, or offers contrasting explanations, such reasoning is the only tool left. Obviously, such investigations are prone to their own biases of experience, perception, and prior beliefs. However, the inability of science to offer clear-cut answers means such subjective reasoning will always play a part in understanding human affairs.
So there it is. My less than magnum opus is at an end. I hope you enjoyed it and found at least a little cognitive nourishment (food for thought).
Regarding the calibration of IQ: what I mean is that there are several tests, and it is not clear just how much harder one question is than the other. We can look at how many test takers could answer it successfully, but this is different than the clear reference for one gram (1.0001 gram is always heavier).
I should stress, again, that I am not saying human studies are worthless, merely that they will never deliver physics/mathematical style proofs that hold in all cases, at all times. The do give us accurate probabilities, but in such probabilities lies all the argumentative wiggle room.
Social studies require wide-ranging expertise (e.g., biology, genetics, psychology, and statistics); expertise in one area does not mean expertise in another. While such cross-disciplinary problems may lead to incorrect conclusions, they just as likely offer a reason to undermine correct conclusions that are unpopular (“what does he know about genetics, he is a statistician?”).