08:58 –Today is the last day of Barbara’s four-day weekend. She’s picking up her sister and parents and heading for some big outlet mall somewhere.
Sunday we ran out of the Scotch Blue masking tape we use to seal chemical bottles. Barbara also needed a new gas grill, so yesterday we headed over to Home Depot to pick those up. While we were there, I browsed the plumbing section in search of Root Kill (99+% copper sulfate pentahydrate) and Crystal Drain Opener (essentially 100% sodium hydroxide). I bought three 2-pound (0.91 kilo) bottles of the copper(II) sulfate, but the drain opener was new and “improved”. Instead of nice white 100% sodium hydroxide crystals, it was an unspecified percentage of sodium hydroxide with other components that weren’t named. I unscrewed the lid on a bottle to look at it and it was a lavender powder. Yuck.
I also needed 97 g of calcium acetate monohydrate to make up the fertilizer concentrate part C for the biology kits. I thought I had that in stock, but I didn’t. So I just made some up by reacting calcium hydroxide with acetic acid. I guess it’s kind of wasteful to use ACS reagent grade acetic acid and calcium hydroxide to make up a fertilizer, but needs must. The result was interesting. I expected a clear, colorless solution of calcium acetate, with the excess calcium hydroxide present as a fine particulate. What I got was a yellowish-brown cloudy solution. Oh, well. I filtered it. It is, after all, fertilizer, so its appearance isn’t really important. What I ended up with was a clear pale yellow solution.
12:25 –Jerry Coyne’s blog is one of my daily reads. He is unabashedly atheist and politically liberal. He is also intellectually honest beyond question. Here’s his latest: Are there human races?
My answer is the same as it’s always been: of course there are. There are clear differences in phenotypes, as well as the underlying differences in genotypes. Denying that human races exist is like denying that dog breeds exist. But many scientists, including biologists, do deny the existence of human races, basing that belief on political considerations rather than scientific ones. The idea that races might exist and that very real differences among them might exist is simply anathema to the politically-liberal mind.
Interestingly, no one seriously questions that very real differences exist between the sexes. Men are, on average, larger, stronger, faster, and more aggressive than women. Women are, on average, hardier than men. That’s why, for example, between 105 and 108 baby boys are born for every 100 baby girls. There is also little doubt that men and women think differently. And, even after eliminating social and cultural factors, there’s little doubt that the intelligence of women tends to cluster closer to the mean. That is, a very intelligent person is considerably more likely to be male than female, and an extraordinarily intelligent person is overwhelmingly more likely to be male. Conversely, males are also over-represented at the extremes of stupidity. Or, to put it another way, the standard deviation in IQ among women is significantly smaller than it is among men. Despite those differences, the mean IQ of statistical populations of men and women is identical to within one percent.
Perhaps the hesitance to acknowledge differences among the races is supported by the fact that no one agrees on just what constitutes a human race or how many of them there are. Some authors have argued in favor of only three or four races, while others argue in favor of dozens. There can never be a true number, because the number is determined by how one chooses to define a race. How large must the differences be? Since humans are on a continuum, supporting the idea of a relatively large number of human races minimizes the differences among them. But one thing really is pretty certain: the differences between the sexes make the differences among the races pale into insignificance. Human males of whatever race have more in common with each other than they do with a woman who is part of their nominal racial group.
The problem with the liberal position denying the existence of races is that it results in shoehorning different people into the same mold. Once one recognizes that differences do exist, one can adjust one’s expectations accordingly. From the fact that blacks are over-represented in the NBA, it does not follow that the NBA is a racist anti-white organization. Nor does it follow from the fact that whites and particularly Asians are over-represented and blacks under-represented in high school AP classes and university STEM programs that these organizations discriminate against blacks. It’s long past time that we abandoned the inherently-racist position that equal opportunity implies equal outcomes. Some people are simply better at some things than other people are. It’s time to recognize that fact.