Racists have long promoted the myth that Blacks are less intelligent than Whites or other races. We've successfully dispelled the fallacy of IQ test results which are often cited as they only measure very limited forms of intelligence and have a known cultural bias but the actual source of the racist belief long eluded my investigations into the topic. For there to be a claim of "lessor intelligence" it would logically require an actual difference in the brains between Blacks and Whites. Today we know that there aren't any real anatomical differences between a Black brain and a "White" brain. They are identical in all respects and while there are variations between different individual brains those variations, while insignificant overall, are just as great between brains of the same race and between different races.
So where did this myth originate was of interest to me. I believe I've found that origin of the myth which was put forward in a "study" done by the anthropologist Robert Bennett Bean, published in the American Journal of Anatomy in 1906. The following review of Dr Bean's "study" provides insight into his work and his turn of the century racist beliefs held by many in the United States.
In his comparisons of the brains of blacks and whites, Bean relied heavily on anthropometry [measurrements of physical characteristics] and craniometry [measurements of the skull to determine sex, race, etc of the individual].http://neurophilosophy.wordpress.com...e-negro-brain/Bean focuses on the corpus callosum, the bundle of approximately 100 million nerve fibres connecting the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The corpus callosum is divided anatomically into 4 regions. Anteriorly, the genu connects the left and right frontal lobes; the splenium connects the more posterior structures of the two hemispheres. Bean painstakingly tries to demonstrate that the genu is smaller in blacks than in whites, and to relate this to specific traits of both races.
Bean was himself surprised by his findings, because the genu also contains olfactory fibres. And, at least according to Bean, we all know that black people have a highly developed sense of smell. That blacks have a smaller genu but a more sensitive sense of smell than white therefore seemed contradictory. So, it follows that in blacks the genu must consist largely of olfactory fibres. Bean took this as evidence of the intellectual inferiority of blacks. More importantly, the size of the genu reflects the relative sixe of the frontal lobes. And, because the frontal lobes are the seat of higher cognitive functions, and of intelligence, blacks must be intellectually inferior to whites.
Like most racists, Bean concentrated on a specific target (black people) but extended his findings to other groups (women and the underprivileged). He found that, in both blacks and whites, the genu was smaller in women than in men. When Bean’s paper was published, brain size was the classic parameter used by craniometrists. But Bean omits comparative measurements of brain size from his paper. He did measure brain size and cranial capacity of blacks and whites, but failed to find any significant differences in his measurements. Bean introduced other factors – sex and social class – to account for his failure to find a difference in brain size.
Bean was either extremely deluded, or a fraud, or both. He was certainly a bad scientist, and his methodology is a perfect example of poor scientific practice. His prejudices led him to believe that “the Negro evidently stands in an intermediate position [between]… man and the ourang-outang” (1906, p.380) and he had already reached his conclusion – that blacks are inferior to whites – before undertaking his investigations. Consequently, it was this conclusion that informed his data, and not the data that led him to his conclusion.
This exemplifies our problem with the White racists today. They have already decided that Blacks are inferior to Whites and/or that Blacks are racially more prone to crime so instead of allowing the data to lead to a conclusion they seek out criteria that, on the surface, appears to support their racist beliefs. When presented with the actual facts related to IQ tests or crime statistics or racial hate crimes (e.g. African-Americans are 22-times more likely to be a victim of a racist hate crime than a White) they merely ignore it or call it a lie because it doesn't fit with their predetermined bigoted beliefs. Their prejudice and bigotry doesn't allow them to accept the truth that Blacks are equal to them in all respects except for the fact that Blacks continue to suffer the effects of invidious discrimination and oppression from the White Racists. If they were to accept the truth they would have to admit that they are the cause of the problem and not the African-Americans in America.