Irisism

It is a truism these days that any claim relating the statistically varying abilities and aptitudes of human beings to, say, skin color, or “gender”, is a shocking and benighted atavism, a pernicious throwback to the bad old days of racism and sexism. If such correlations emerge, as they occasionally do, from a “scientific” study of some sort, then either the thing is an ideologically motivated fraud, is tainted by unwitting biases, or fails to take into account malleable cultural factors (generally speaking, the malevolent influence of white-male colonialism, or of Western culture generally).

But lo! Here in the New York Times itself — and in the column, no less, of Maureen Dowd — we read the following:

A 2007 University of Louisville study concluded that people with blue eyes were better planners and strategic thinkers — superior at things like golf, cross-country running and preparing for exams — while people with brown eyes had better reflexes, making them good at hockey and football.

What? How can this be?? We have already established, by progressive social intuition and infallible political fiat, that even such enormous and obvious physiological differences as those plainly evident between the races and the sexes are absolutely, positively, never, ever, ever inherently associated with variations in any abilities, traits, or talents whatsoever — and now we are told by the New York Times that mere eye color is indicative of variations in our faculties of planning and strategic thinking?

Isn’t this blasphemy, or heresy, or something? Don’t we have laws about this kind of thing? I hardly know what I’m supposed to think anymore.

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3 Comments

  1. Court says

    Taken in the context of the whole column, my impression of the column was that she was being facetious. I wouldn’t be surprised if she just made up the bit about the study.

    Posted March 31, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Court,

    Maureen Dowd is always facetious. The study is real, though.

    Would she have written this — and said that it “underscored an ancient rivalry” — if the study had focused on skin color and not eye color?

    Posted March 31, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink
  3. JK says

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-01/uoc-bhh013008.php

    Posted March 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink