Winnipeg-Based Think Tank Wants Scientists to Debate the Link Between Race and IQ
Right-wing think tank was forced to pull radio ad dismissing horrors of residential schools as ‘myths’ last year
A right-wing think tank based in Winnipeg is worried that “western civilization” is “under threat” because scientists no longer debate taboo topics such as the “differences in IQs between races.”
That topic recently made headlines after James Watson, a controversial 90-year-old scientist, hearkened back to an older era when he recently told a PBS documentary he believes IQ scores are linked to race.
Watson’s lab later stripped him of his titles and issued a statement condemning “the misuse of science to justify prejudice” and reiterated Watson’s claims are completely “unsupported by science.”
But according to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, a registered charity and a subject of fairly regular mainstream media coverage, the real problem isn’t racism and junk science – it’s that there are “too many subjects that can’t be discussed” these days.
In an article published on the Frontier Centre’s website and social media accounts this week that quietly ran in the Winnipeg Sun in November, senior fellow Brian Giesbrecht complains the science on race and IQ has been “declared racist and closed to discussion”:
“There have been academics seeking out differences in IQs between races. Such research causes a furor. Some researchers have suggested that some races score higher than other races in IQ tests – perhaps explaining why there seems to be a disproportion of mathematical geniuses in one race rather than others. Is such academic research wrong? We may never know, such research has been declared racist and closed to discussion.”
Of course, the main reason scientists don’t talk about race and IQ is because it is “bad science.”
Drexel University professor Michael Yudell recently noted the science on race and IQ has been “debunked over and over” while other experts in the area describe it as little more than an attempt to revive bogus early 20th century “race science.”
Giesbrecht, who made headlines previously over a Chronicle Journal column titled “System That Rewards Status Indians Is Spectacularly Unfair” arguing Indigenous people in Canada are riding a “gravy train,” also complains researchers are “virtually forbidden” from exploring topics like “chronic child neglect” and “Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder” in Indigenous communities:
“Here, in Manitoba, some subjects are virtually forbidden to explore. These include chronic child neglect within the Indigenous community and exploring linkages between Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and the social environment of some reserves. Those that recognize that the causes of Indigenous problems are far more complex, and suggest a link between dysfunction and the isolation and dependency of reserve life, are shouted down – if not labeled a racist.”
Giesbrecht’s claims might be news to Manitoba’s FASD centre, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the Manitoba Coalition on Alcohol and Pregnancy, the University of Manitoba, the Manitoba FASD coalition, The Aboriginal Healing Foundation or the advocates of Indigenous Mothering located on the Unceded Territories of the Coast Salish Peoples that all do important work on these “virtually forbidden” issues.
Much of that discussion, however, has to do with the cycle of abuse as it has exhibited itself among survivors of Canada’s residential schools program.
That’s a topic the Frontier Centre has some familiarity with – last September, the right-wing think tank came under fire after running a radio ad dismissing the horrors of the residential school system as myths.
In its radio ad, the Frontier Centre asked “are Canadians being told the whole truth about residential schools?” It further claimed the fact that “residential schools robbed Native kids of their childhood,” a myth, insisting the schools helped Indigenous people retain their languages and cultures.
The right-wing think tank later pulled the radio ad.
Until recently, the Frontier Centre received funding through the Aurea Foundation, a charity created by the late billionaire Peter Munk. The group boasts prominent climate change deniers as research fellows and has hosted special events for UCP leader Jason Kenney, Rebel Media’s Ezra Levant and one of Rex Murphy’s infamous paid speeches questioning climate change science.
Both the Frontier Centre and the Winnipeg Sun did not respond to a request for comment from PressProgress.
Our journalism is powered by readers like you.
We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.
Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.