Black Fields Medallists

US journalist John Derbyshire has published a screed comprising racist advice to his son.  Among the tendentious statements contained in it is this one:

(5) As with any population of such a size, there is great variation among blacks in every human trait (except, obviously, the trait of identifying oneself as black). They come fat, thin, tall, short, dumb, smart, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious. There are black geniuses and black morons. There are black saints and black psychopaths. In a population of forty million, you will find almost any human type. Only at the far, far extremes of certain traits are there absences. There are, for example, no black Fields Medal winners. While this is civilizationally consequential, it will not likely ever be important to you personally. Most people live and die without ever meeting (or wishing to meet) a Fields Medal winner.

It is true that there are no black Fields Medallists.  There are also no women, of whom there are rather more in the world than the 40 million black Americans.   There are also no Canadians, no Spaniards, and no Poles among the winners.    This is particularly surprising given the major and disproportionate contribution that Polish mathematicians, for example, have made to mathematics and related disciplines.   And there are many more New Zealanders and Belgians than their populations would lead one to expect.  Perhaps the list of medal winners more reflects the knowledge and biases of the people awarding the prizes than the ability of the potential candidates.    Such a social construction provides a more logical explanation than what Derbyshire implies.  But of course logic is never a strong point of racists.

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