From Yahoo News, a summary of a paper in Current Biology:
Individuals with Rare Disorder Have No Racial Biases
Never has a human population been found that has no racial stereotypes. Not in other cultures or far-flung countries. Nor among tiny tots or people with various psychological conditions.
Children with rare genetic disorder that makes them lack normal , have no racial biases., a
Well, a lack of social anxiety is not the only characteristic of Williams syndrome. From Wikipedia:
The most common symptoms of Williams syndrome are mental retardation, heart defects, and unusual facial features. ... Individuals with Williams syndrome are highly verbal and overly sociable (having what had previously been described as a "cocktail party" type personality), but lack common sense ...
"Highly Verbal But Lack Common Sense" would pretty much describe most propounders of the conventional wisdom about race.
A 2007 NYT Magazine article on Williams syndrome reported:
These deficits generally erase about 35 points from whatever I.Q. the person would have inherited without the deletion. Since the average I.Q. is 100, this leaves most people with Williams with I.Q.’s in the 60s. Though some can hold simple jobs, they require assistance managing their lives....
The low I.Q., however, ignores two traits that define Williams more distinctly than do its deficits: an exuberant gregariousness and near-normal language skills.
Political correctness, in effect, demands that our intellectual discourse aspire towards Williams syndrome.
From the news report:
They do, however, traffic in University of Heidelberg in Germany., said study researcher Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the
Normally, children show clear preferences for their own ethnic group by the age of three, if not sooner, other research has shown.
Actually, the interesting thing is that toddlers tend to develop an insight into race that is generally lost by grown-up intellectuals when writing about race: race is about who your Mommy and Daddy are, topics that are deeply interesting to children (and to all humans), but aren't recognized in conventional discourse about race.
In Race in the Making, the liberal U. of Michigan anthropology professor Lawrence A. Hirschfeld sums up the finding of his research on children.
As comforting as this view may be, children, I will show in this book, are more than aware of diversity; they are driven by endogenous curiosity to uncover it. Children, I will also show, do not believe race to be a superficial quality of the world. Multicultural curricula aside, few people believe that race is only skin deep. Certainly few 3-year-olds do. They believe that race is an intrinsic, immutable, and essential aspect of a person's identity. Moreover, they seem to come to this conclusion on their own. They do not need to be taught that race is a deep property, they know it themselves already.
For example, if you show preschoolers drawings of people and ask them to match the children with their mommies, on average they will correctly tell you that the skinny white child belongs to the fat white mommy, while the fat black child belongs to the skinny black mommy (or vice-versa). They consider race a better predictor of family relationship than body shape.
From the news report:
And, indeed, the children in this study without Williams syndrome reliably assigned good traits, such as friendliness, to pictures of people the same race as themselves. When asked something negative, such as "which is the naughty boy," they overwhelmingly pointed to the other race.
Children with Williams syndrome, however, were equally likely to point to the white or black child as naughty or friendly.
While this study was done with white children, other research has shown that blacks and people of other races also think more highly of their own, Meyer-Lindenberg told LiveScience.
Williams syndrome is caused by a gene deletion known to affect the brain as well as other organs. As a result, people with Williams syndrome are "hypersocial," Meyer-Lindenberg told . They do not experience the jitters and inhibitions the rest of us feel.
"The whole concept [of social anxiety] would be foreign to them," he said.
They will put themselves at great peril to help someone and despite their skills at empathy, are unable to process social danger signals. As a result, they are at increased risk for rape and physical attack.
Nature or nurture?
While the first human population to demonstrate race-neutrality is missing critical genes, "we are not saying that this is all biologically-based and you can't do anything about it," Meyer-Lindenberg said.
"Just because there is a genetic way to knock the system out, does not mean the system itself is 100 percent genetic," he said.
The study does show, however, that racism requires social fear. "If social fear was culturally reduced, racial stereotypes could also be reduced," Meyer-Lindenberg said.
Despite their lack of racial bias, children with Williams syndrome hold gender stereotypes just as strongly as normal children, the study found. That is, 99 percent of the 40 children studied pointed to pictures of girls when asked who played with dolls and chose boys when asked, say, who likes toy cars.
The fact that Williams syndrome kids think of men and women differently, but not blacks and whites, shows that sex stereotypes are not caused by social anxiety, Meyer-Lindenberg said.
This may be because we learn about gender within "safe" home environments, while a different race is usually a sign of someone outside our immediate kin. (Studies to test this explanation, such as with racially-mixed families, have not yet been done.)
Racial biases are likely rooted in a general fear of others, while gender stereotypes may arise from sweeping generalizations, Meyer-Lindenberg said. "You watch mother make the meals, so you generalize this to everyone female."
Perhaps, but another explanation for why people with Williams syndrome would be unable to notice racial patterns is because they are mentally retarded.
Sex is simply more obvious than race. Very young children typically notice differences in sex before they begin to notice differences in race. People with Williams syndrome are typically verbally facile but oblivious to the obvious.
Here's a question I have about Williams syndrome. Say you would have had a 140 IQ without it, but you were born with genetic defect, so you have a 105 IQ and not a lick of sense. But you are really good at laying out a spiel of words. Is Williams syndrome just too all-around debilitating for you to ever amount to much in the world?
Or, could there be, say, a prominent media figure who suffers from Williams syndrome?
If so, who would your candidate be?