Review, Top Stories

Progressive Creationism: A Review of ‘A Dangerous Idea’

In a recent article for Quillette, Colin Wright argued that left-wing scientific denialism poses a greater threat to academic freedom than right-wing scientific denialism. In the past, evolutionary biologists could dispute the claims of creationists and advocates of Intelligent Design without jeopardizing their careers. But the same cannot be said of scientists who publicly dissent from progressive dogma when it comes to, say, the biology of group differences.

The reason, according to Wright, is because the Christian Evangelicals who denied the basic principles of evolutionary biology held no power in academia, while their secular equivalents are often professors, department chairs, deans, administrators, college presidents, journal editors, and so on. Indeed, the new denialist orthodoxy when it comes to biological sex—that it is “assigned” at birth, rather than observed and recorded—is now the official view of the scientific establishment, having been embraced by Scientific American and Nature. As Jordan Peterson wrote in The National Post two years ago: “Look out evolutionary biologists. The PC police are coming for you.”

I imagine few of Quillette’s readers will need convincing of this, but in case anyone thinks Wright is being alarmist I recommend A Dangerous Idea: Eugenics, Genetics and the American Dream.

This new, feature-length documentary, funded by Kickstarter and available on Amazon Prime, painstakingly recycles the most hysterical, left-wing arguments against genetics and, in particular, those who’ve sought to apply genetic research to understanding behavioral and psychological differences. As Jerry Coyne pointed out in a recent blog post, it’s this aspect of evolutionary biology that is most frequently attacked by progressive creationists. “One would think that Steve Pinker’s book The Blank Slate would have dispelled this kind of blank-slateism, but it hasn’t,” he writes. “In fact, with the rise of the Offense Culture, the Left’s attacks on science have become more intense. Expect more of them.”

A Dangerous Idea rounds up all the usual suspects, from James Watson and Francis Crick to Arthur Jensen and Charles Murray, and subjects them to what amounts to a show trial. They are all “biological determinists,” in the words of the documentary’s narrator, which makes them guilty by association of some of the worst crimes of the 20th century, including the Nazis’ extermination of six million Jews and the forced sterilization programs of 31 U.S. states. Not only that, but the very notion that DNA provides a genetic blueprint for life—not just human beings, but any living organism—is based on “pseudoscience.” That’s right, Crick and Watson, who jointly won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of the Double Helix, aren’t real scientists, according to this documentary. “DNA does not determine our physical traits,” intones the narrator about two-thirds of the way through. Apparently, the very concept of a gene is “a figment of our collective imagination.” The film includes interviews with some of the “dangerous” scientists responsible for these fictions, including James Watson, creating the impression that they were given a chance to respond to the charges laid at their feet and had nothing to say. In fact, this is all bought-in footage, and very carefully edited.

As with the editorials in Scientific American and Nature, A Dangerous Idea does its best to give the imprimatur of scientific respectability to its progressive creationism, enlisting a series of men (and women) in white coats to debunk the “gene myth.” The first witness for the prosecution is Richard Lewontin, the Marxist biologist who led the witch-hunt against E.O. Wilson in the 1970s. He enthusiastically trots out the objection to Wilson and others in this field that he’s been making for 50 years, namely, that any description of what is when it comes to the genetic influence on human behavior is a prescription for what ought to be.

“That’s a very important justifying ideology,” he says, responding to the idea that certain key psychological traits, such as aggressiveness, are heritable—

If you believe that all these characteristics are first of all universal and secondly that they’re in the genes, then you would be forced to say we must have society as it is now. So it destroys any question of political morality to change things and it also destroys any claim that we could change things, so it has tremendous importance.

A first year philosophy student would recognize this as the naturalistic fallacy, but no one involved in A Dangerous Idea challenges this faulty reasoning. On the contrary, it forms one of the central planks of its argument against genetic research, the other being that it’s “pseudoscience.” We’re told again and again that anyone who maintains that human behavior is genetically influenced and not entirely the product of the environment—and this is always presented as a binary choice—is an apologist for racial and sexual inequality. This is the “dangerous idea” of the title. According to the narrator, it has been responsible for some of the darkest episodes in the history of mankind. “Biological determinism didn’t begin with genetics,” intones the voiceover as we’re shown an old poster for a slave auction:

Rulers throughout history claimed their divine right to wield power over others was hereditary, based in their noble blood. Even though the United States was the first modern republic to reject aristocracy based on biology, soon after the nation’s founding craniometry was being used to defend the enslavement of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans.

Stephen Jay Gould

This reference to “craniometry” is a cue to regurgitate the thesis of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man (1981) in which the Harvard paleontologist rubbished the work of Samuel George Morton, the 19th Century physician who measured human skulls and found that Caucasians had a larger cranial capacity than any other race. Gould claimed that Morton distorted his data to fit his political preconceptions and held up his research as a cautionary tale of how unconscious bias can lead to bad science. The makers of the documentary either aren’t aware—or, worse, chose to ignore the fact – that Gould’s critique was itself skewed by ideological bias.

In a 2011 paper published in PLOS, a team of researchers led by Jason Lewis described how they’d remeasured Morton’s skulls and found his data to be accurate. They also forensically examined Gould’s allegations against Morton, such as the claim that he’d left out data that contradicted his conclusions, and discovered that, for the most part, they were just plain wrong. They don’t flat out accuse Gould of fraud, but it’s hard to escape that conclusion, given how comprehensively he misrepresented Morton’s work. (For another example of Gould misrepresenting the work of a “race scientist,” see here.) 

I’m not defending Morton’s conclusions, incidentally, just pointing out that Gould’s critique of his work is flawed. Why did Gould risk his own reputation in order to discredit Morton’s? Presumably because he feared that if Morton’s research was accepted as accurate it would undermine the case for racial equality. Again, this is faulty reasoning, only this time it’s the moralistic fallacy, a close cousin of the naturalistic fallacy. This is the assumption that some aspect of nature cannot be true, or allowed to be widely thought of as true, because that would lead to socially undesirable consequences. This twisted logic runs through A Dangerous Idea like a stick of rock. In addition to endorsing Gould’s dismissal of Morton, the film pours scorn on the idea that women’s brains are, on average, smaller than men’s, and gives this as another example of “pseudoscience.” In fact, the largest single-sample study of structural and functional sex differences in the human brain ever undertaken, involving over 5,000 participants, found that, on average, the total brain volume of women is smaller than that of men, even after adjusting for men’s larger average body size. Does this undermine the case for gender equality? Of course not.

The mistake this documentary makes is one that’s made again and again by opponents of sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, sociogenomics, and so on, which is to assume that any explanation of behavioral or psychological differences that appeals to biology is a right-wing attempt to justify inequality—a form of Social Darwinism. And by “inequality” these critics don’t just mean inequality of outcome, but the withholding of equal rights from women and minorities. By conflating these two types of inequality, they can point to the difficulties that research findings in these fields create for hardline egalitarians and claim they also present a difficulty for advocates of equal rights. So anyone who believes in equality of any kind, not just end-state equality, has a moral duty to attack these research fields. But, as Steven Pinker points out:

Equality is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group.

It’s such an elementary mistake, it’s slightly baffling as to why it’s made so often by those on the Left, not just the makers of this documentary. Do they think: We know that equal rights under the law aren’t contingent on the blank slate hypothesis, and we realize that thinking they are is to commit a logical fallacy. But ordinary mortals are too stupid to grasp this point. Those troglodytes out there in red state America would seize on any research evidence showing that behavioral and psychological differences are affected by our genes to justify their bigotry and prejudice. So it’s our duty, as the moral guardians of various victim groups, to expel from the public square anyone daring to challenge blank slate orthodoxy and dismiss their research as “racist pseudoscience.”

Or do they genuinely think that equal rights are contingent on environmental determinism? Not just politically, because it’s easier to persuade people to embrace equal rights if they believe humans are born as blank slates, but logically? Are they the stupid ones?

Whatever the explanation, the energy the Social Justice Left devotes to denying basic scientific truths puts the persecutors of Galileo to shame. There’s a particularly feeble section in A Dangerous Idea in which all the arguments against the validity of IQ tests are rehashed, as if no one’s told the filmmakers that the existence of a general intelligence quotient, and its correlation with various real-world outcomes, such as socio-economic status, health and longevity, is one of the most robust findings in all of psychology. A psychotherapist called Jay Joseph is wheeled out, author of a book called The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2016), to rubbish the evidence from twin and adoption studies. He argues that the reason identical twins raised together are more similar psychologically than fraternal twins raised together is not because they share more genes—genes are a figment of our imagination, after all—but because their greater physical similarity means they’re treated less differently by their parents than fraternal twins. But what about the same finding when it comes to identical and fraternal twins reared apart? Why are the former more similar when it comes to a whole range of personality traits, including IQ, than the latter, given that they’ve been separated at birth? Joseph isn’t asked to address that point. (For a comprehensive rebuttal of the arguments in Jay Joseph’s book, see this review by Julien Delhez.)

About a third of A Dangerous Idea consists of a history lesson, in which we’re repeatedly told that evil men in the past have appealed to genetics to justify their white privilege and perpetrate human rights abuses, including genocide. But the fact that hereditarianism has been used as an excuse by bad actors to do terrible things doesn’t discredit the entire hereditarian tradition, as the makers of this documentary seem to think. That’s another fallacy—ad hominem. You might as well argue that the crimes against humanity committed by Mao Tse-tung and Pol Pot in the belief that human beings are pieces of clay that can be molded into good Communist citizens completely discredits the filmmaker’s blank slate philosophy. And, of course, there’s nary a mention of the fact that eugenics was far more popular with the progressive Left than it was with the Right at the beginning of the 20th Century. If we’re to regard present-day conservatives with suspicion because their philosophical forebears were in favor of eugenics, shouldn’t we regard present-day progressives as suspicious for the same reason?

The intellectual paucity of A Dangerous Idea wouldn’t matter if we were living in normal times. But there’s a risk it may be shown by progressive zealots on campus to whip up opposition to visiting speakers or members of the biology faculty. The most egregious section in the film is an interview with Van Jones, an African-American activist and CNN contributor, about Charles Murray.

Van Jones. Photo: Screenshot

First, the narrator summarizes the thesis of The Bell Curve (1994): “Most controversial was Murray’s claim that black people and Latinos are less intelligent on average than whites and that this explained unequal social outcomes.” Actually, the claim that blacks and Latinos score lower on IQ tests on average than whites – the claim that Murray and Herrnstein make – isn’t remotely “controversial.” It is an incontestable fact. Even Murray’s most ardent critics acknowledge that. The controversial bit is when Murray and Herrnstein discuss various different explanations for this discrepancy. Nevertheless, Van Jones then pops up to denounce Murray as if pointing out this fact makes him an out-and-out racist:

I thought we had killed this kind of stuff off and here it comes back out of the grave dressed up in scientific garb, but the last time we saw it, it was wearing a Klan robe and it’s the same set of ideas.

Van is effectively ordering students to no-platform Murray next time he’s booked to appear on their campus—he’s virtually a Klansman, right?—and, sure enough, we’re then shown footage of students doing precisely that at Middlebury College last year. Needless to say, there’s no mention of the fact that when Allison Stanger, a politics professor at Middlebury, tried to get between Murray and the protestors she ended up in the emergency room.

The other risk, if this propaganda is allowed to go unchecked, is to members of the biology faculty. I don’t just mean they may be driven off campus, as Brett Weinstein was at Evergreen. Rather, they simply won’t be able to do their jobs—which is to teach science. That’s been the experience of Luana Moroja, the chair of the biochemistry program at Williams College. She wrote to Jerry Coyne about how bad things have become:

Many professors at Williams have been feeling the walls closing in. I’m an evolutionary biologist, and in my classes there is increasing resistance to learning about heritability (probably fear of the “bell curve”, something I actually dismiss by contrasting Brazilian with Americans, as I am from Brazil) and even kin selection! (Using the “naturalistic fallacy” argument, students assume that by teaching kin selection I am somehow endorsing Trump hiring his family.) The word “pregnant woman” is out: only “pregnant human” should be now used (after all, what if the pregnant individual goes by another pronoun?). In other fields the walls have closed in even more.

I’m not arguing that “A Dangerous Idea” shouldn’t be shown on campus because it may endanger evolutionary biology professors. That would be to invoke the same argument against free speech that the documentary makes. Nevertheless, everyone associated with this crude piece of scientific illiteracy should be ashamed of themselves—including Robert Reich, the former Democratic Labor Secretary, who is interviewed throughout. They are the progressive equivalent of anti-Vaxxers.

 

Toby Young is the associate editor of Quillette.

269 Comments

  1. Michael Lardelli says

    As someone teaching genetics at university, I tell our students that there is almost no biological characteristic that is not influenced by BOTH genetics AND the environment (nature and nurture). Biology is almost never black and white but almost always about shades of grey. A simple way to look at the role of genes is that they set the limits for what is possible biologically and then the environment determines what actually happens within those limits.

    • I am sure that every characteristic of evry organism has genetic and environmental factors including IQ but I am very sceptical about everything to do with IQ because it is so unclear what it is measuring and the Flynn effect shows that the measurment is not of an innate characterisitic. That average IQs have increased by about a standard deviation throughout the world over about 70 years suggest that if there is a genetic factor in variations it is dominated by environmental effects. The alternative is to argue that a standard deviation of intelligence increase has evolved in 2 to 3 generations which is ridiculous.

      • IQ tests measure reasoning and logic skills, key traits for intelligence. To suggest that intelligence cannot be changed by education would be the end of schooling.
        The law protect citizens, not capabilities. We don’t restrict rights for those who lose an arm, are obese, are young or old, bald, etc., so the idea that because some are clearly less intelligent then others — we’ve known this forever by clear demonstration of people in the real world — we’d change the law is absurd.
        The entire point is equal protection under the law, though it’s never been practiced in any nation ever in history.

        • If I learn auto mechanics, my IQ is the same as it was at age 2. Education should be to add skills and learning, no matter your IQ. Half the population has an IQ of less then 100. By definition.

      • Emil Kirkegaard says

        IQ has increased but not g. That is spearmans hypothesis. The corrleation between todays IQ scores and the IQ scores of your grandparents generation is negative. Between blacks and whites it is positive

      • Ray Andrews says

        @AJ

        Worrying about defining IQ doesn’t make it go away. Whatever it is, it is strongly correlated with economic success and many other things thought desirable. It is very strongly correlated with things like winning Nobel Prizes — has a moron ever won a Nobel? Don’t even bother to define IQ, just define it as the outcome of the taking of an IQ test. But no other metric is so closely linked to being smart.

        • dave schutz says

          There is a fun Feynman story. He stopped by his old high school and they let him look at his records. They recorded an IQ of 125. He was gleeful! He said, winning a Nobel in physics pretty good, but winning it with an IQ of 125 was terrific!

      • The Flynn effect does not demonstrate the weakness or limitations of genetic influences. It does demonstrate that significant changes in the environment can produce dramatic changes in IQ, but the effects of genetics are there as intelligence develops in any environment.

      • Robert says

        The increase in average IQ over the last 70 years can be explained by the dramatic improvements in nutrition that have occurred over that time. A century ago, the childhood development of most children was stunted by malnutrition.

      • “The alternative is to argue that a standard deviation of intelligence increase has evolved in 2 to 3 generations which is ridiculous.”

        More likely, environmental factors have allowed us to push to the limits of genetic intelligence possibilities. Lack of lead in drinking water and soil is one simple thing that goes a long way. There are others.

        Doesn’t change this one simple fact: A child born to high IQ parents has a much better life prognosis than a child born to low IQ parents.

    • BenBen says

      It is the proportion of genetic influence relative to environment that is not clear. Murray alluded to this in the bell curve using specific examples such as the standardized test scores of Harlem students before and after the 1960s welfare reform act. The difference was some 30 percent in favor of the pre-welfare era. Another example, black ww2 soldiers that settled in Germany after the war, their children’s standardized test scores were much higher than black inner city kids of the same age back in the states.

      • These are interesting data points but they also beg a question if the populations remained similar. Is it possible that, as with the white middle class, that middle class blacks moved out of the area, biasing the sample. The same can be asked in regards to your soldier example. The military is selective (even during wartime) and thus can weed out certain undesirable characteristics.

      • Angela says

        I’d imagine the main reason GIs stayed in Germany is because they fell in love with German woman. So a black GI married to a German woman isn’t really comparable to a black GI who had kids with another African American.

        • JWatts says

          “I’d imagine the main reason GIs stayed in Germany is because they fell in love with German woman. So a black GI married to a German woman isn’t really comparable to a black GI who had kids with another African American.”

          In addition black GI’s staying in Germany are a heavily self selected group.

    • The level of understanding of genetics for the average layman is autrocities. Most people do not understand the difference between genotype and phenotype. I am not even certain if the concept of phenotype is taught in primary education. As a result many do not understand that an expressed trait is usually influenced by both genetics and environment (and some randomness). How much influence environment and genetics has varies between traits. Some traits are more influenced by genotype then others are. Genetics is to often taught as pre-deterministic, which is completely wrong in most cases. My Mother carries the genotype that makes her side of the family more prone to colon cancer, however, that doesn’t mean all three of us boys also carry that genotype and that we will develop colon cancer. My younger brother did die from colon cancer but all of my colonoscopy and my other brother’s and my Mother’s have all been negative for colon cancer so far. And despite her father surviving colon cancer, none of my mother’s siblings, or nieces and nephews have had colon cancer.
      Another concept that is poorly taught is heritability and dominance. When I was student teaching in the university it was disheartening how many students didn’t realize that traits are often, influenced by more than one allele. This is why so many people believe myths such as blond hair, blue eyes, red hair and or green eyes are traits that are becoming extinct. They are not taught (or it isn’t emphasized) that an expressed trait (if dominant) does not mean you only carry the gene for that trait, i.e. a brunette may have both a dominant brunette allele and a recessive blonde allele. Actually hair color and eye color are much more complicated and are influenced by multiple alleles. Additionally, dominance is not straight forward, there are multiple different types of dominance exists, i.e. simple dominance, co-dominance, incomplete dominance etc.

      • Jeffrey: interesting notice of lack of education. Many schools have a school garden, so what I suggest, to avoid this lack: have the kids plant a few seeds of a miracle super crop on a sandy spot without fertilizers, and local old varieties on a well tended piece of the garden. And also, of course, to compare, the miracle crops on good soils and local varieties on sandy poor tracks. Without any theory, but just by passing by daily, these kids would see the influence of phenotype and genotype. In human life, it’s not that different. Learning by playing, so to say.

        • @Dirk,

          I am going to quibble with one of your sentences “…these kids would see the influence of phenotype and genotype”. There is no “influence of phenotype”, because phenotype is the expressed trait and is influenced by genotype and environment (and some degree of randomness).

          • Additionally, this doesn’t disprove the validity of the theory that intelligence is heritable. In fact it rather reinforces it. Environment does impact IQ but the level of impact is not great enough to state environment alone causes differences in IQ. Yes, someone with a high IQ but low education will have more difficulty than someone with an average IQ but excellent education, however, someone with a high IQ will most likely learn easier when placed in the same environment, and perform better in deductive skills.

          • Yes, maybe, not very well expressed, but I,m sure you understand what,s meant, at least, I recognised your concern immediately, because of discussions with gardeners on other blogs. What’s worse, the idea of farmers (I had yo work with) all the time making the mistake that genotypical miracle crops and catte only perform well (in phenotypical expression) if the soils or the feed also is optimal (what quite often is not the case). So, they buy expensive Monsanto seeds (good genotype), but they are then very disappointed on the results/phenotype. In fact, the whole discussion here (just read what Chip says about China all through history) is not unlike this phenomenon. In ordinary street talk on immigration, IQ and race, this complication of different factors playing their role also is often completely missing.
            The best farmers were those that recognised behind the phenotype (a meagre bull with good genotype) and bought it cheap for breeding and improving their own stock. That randomness was the biggest problem in performance trials, I remember.

          • Dirk,

            I work in Agricultural sciences, I am extension faculty, and I’ve encountered the same phenomona with some farmers and ranchers. Genetics is always just part of the picture.

        • correction made after remark Jeffrey: influence on phenotype and of genotype, sorry! Thanks, Jeffrey.

    • DuppyConqueror says

      @Michael Lardelli

      Someone needs to pay for putting the Vs in Nature Vs Nurture.

    • Really? That is simply not correct as a characterization of the way in which nature and nurture interact. Genetics doesn’t “set a limit”. Genetics operates in tandem with features of the environment to determine the phenotype.

      • Actually, genetics do set limits, e.g. you cannot grow larger then your genetic potential. Environment can hinder your ability to reach your genetic potential, but it can cause you to aignidico overperform your genetic potential.

        • Michael Lardelli says

          A pygmy person, no matter how well nourished, will not attain the height of a well nourished Maasai person. Pygmy genetics sets growth limits.

  2. MattK says

    These people are as deluded as the young earth creationists or flat earthers and they should be paid the same amount of respect, none.

    • “It’s such an elementary mistake, it’s slightly baffling as to why it’s made so often by those on the Left, not just the makers of this documentary…”

      Toby, its slightly baffling as to why THIS mistake is made so often by those on the Right:

      The garbage in the documentary is not a MISTAKE. When ends justify the means, distorting and leaving out data are “activism.”

      Activists on the left DON’T CARE about the data. They say, “Well, the conclusion these scientists are reaching can’t be true because it’s vile heresy; so we don’t need to look at how they arrived there. Just make the pieces fit how we want, and have a black guy in glasses say it.”

      If you really want to understand their viewpoint, imagine this: somebody tells you they’ve done a study, and they have concluded that the moon orbits the earth because it likes chocolate, and earth is where the chocolate is. Would you look carefully at their methods, or would you say, “I don’t need to wade through that paper. I know that you’re wrong”?

      And no: Galileo wasn’t threatened. That’s a myth. He got in trouble and put under house arrest because he defied the pope and made fun of him. Galileo was an asshole. Brilliant, but an asshole. Just like Newton.

      • “He got in trouble and put under house arrest because he defied the pope and made fun of him.” Correct. And his actions were a grave violation of the wows of obedience to the church that Galileo had taken. Galileo was exploiting the advantages of his status as a monk while, at the same time, neglecting the duties (including obedience) that came with that status.

        • This myth (Galileo) never seems to die. On fact Neil de Grasse Tyson parrotted it in his version of Cosmos (among with multiple other myths which he used to bash the Church).

          • Hmm on Galileo, he may not have been physically tortured, but the pressure on him was great, from http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/the-truth-about-galileo-and-his-conflict-with-the-catholic-church
            “First, on April 12, 1633, before any charges were laid against him, Galileo was forced to testify about himself under oath, in the hopes of obtaining a confession.” He didn’t confess, but effectively denied his actual thoughts.

            and

            “The pope decreed that the interrogation should stop short with the mere threat of torture.” Threats of torture is pretty close to actual torture in effect. After all, one confesses while being tortured to stop future threats of torture as you can’t undo the torture applied.

            This sounds a bit like arguing that waterboarding isn’t torture because no actual harm ever takes place.

          • @david of Kirkland,

            The main point was that it had little to do with his science and all to do with his personal fight with the Pope.

      • Doug Deeper says

        Yesh, I also ask why everyone (hardly just conservatives as so many liberal academics also) who oppose this leftist jibber-jabber doesn’t see it for what it is, propaganda of the first order. It is the fact that the extreme left OWNS the university that they can get away with any jibber-jabber. Science, rational discourse, anything that gets in their way is impotent to stop them from indoctrinating the masses. Until ownership changes hands, academia is in the hands of totalitarian BS artists.

    • @johntshea
      This is true… The real story as to why Galileo was persecuted by the Church has way more to do with his personal relationship with Pope Urban VIII than it was to the ‘science’. Galileo was essentially guilty of publically embarrassing his friend Urban VIII.

  3. There mere fact that IQ and race and genetics is so feverishly debated among laymen should be the tip off that something other than objective scientific inquiry is going on.
    In fact, the IQ has become the latter day phrenology, some mystical woo that allows laypeople to construct a hierarchy of their favored or disfavored ethnic groups.

    The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak, but then to take it a step further and assign an intelligence ranking to entire ethnic groups is stupidity on steroids.

    A brief glance at history dispels this almost immediately. Various ethnic groups have all had their day in the sun as regional or global hegemons, and all have faded away. Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, Imperial China and Japan, Great Britain…they all enjoyed periods of dominance then fell out of power.

    None of this can be explained by genetics or IQ.

    • Daniel says

      Chip,

      How I wish you were correct. The thing about the people who are observing that IQ makes a difference is that none of them are happy about it. Or, none of the ones I’ve spoken to or read.

      The problem with IQ deniers is that their position leads inexorably to the idea that everybody is equal in ability, which is absurd. People who are discussing IQ aren’t biological determinists, (notwithstanding the “A Dangerous Idea” strawman assertion) they are trying to find a way for people with vast differences in cognitive abilities to be equally valued in a society.
      And why wouldn’t you want to help someone who has less ability be equally valued?

      • How does IQ explain the empirical data of history?

        Like, do armies with higher IQs win wars, and nations with higher IQs become more powerful?
        Does it work like that?

        • Trash Clan says

          “How does IQ explain the empirical data of history?”

          The same way cheese explains bicycles, my trolling cookie monster friend.

          The same way cheese explains bicycles.

        • peanut gallery says

          It doesn’t and also, I suspect that being a high IQ peasant isn’t much help in 1500. IQ is a big predictor today, but was it in the middle and bronze age? Two things can be true at once. IQ can be good today and not matter in other contexts. Which is why there is hope and we don’t need to devolve into racist regression based on science findings.

          • Ray Andrews says

            @peanut gallery

            Being a very intelligent slave was probably very bad for your survival. You’d be more likely to rebel, less likely to endure menial work, and you’d be eliminated simply because your very existence was a repudiation of the racist dogmas of your master. Some level of selective breeding also took place, and what was valued was dumb, passive obedience. 400 years of that and it would be strange indeed if we did not see any effects on the gene pool of descendants of slaves. The truth is not as scary as it is made out to be.

          • MadKangaroo says

            “…I suspect that being a high IQ peasant isn’t much help in 1500. IQ is a big predictor today, but was it in the middle and bronze age?”

            Kinda makes one wonder why humans evolved high IQ in the first place. After all, having the strength of a Gorilla or high speed running would probably be more useful than Einstein’s IQ when facing a hungry lion 100,000 years ago. It doesn’t help much to argue that IQ allowed the eventual development of effective weapons, b’cuz a) great strength or speed *works* and is probably easier to evolve (builds on existing characteristics), and b) “eventually” is rather late for thousands of generations of people.

        • @ Chip:For winning wars (decisive in the world uptil now) you need some intelligence, sure, but that,s not the most important characteristic, I think. Strategic insight, coordination, diplomatic shrewdness and perseverance, just read -Vom Kriege-, are more important, what was the IQ of Napoleon and Hitler? Stalin, I know, was very intelligent, only A,s in elementary school, but he won due to Zjukow and other shrewd generals.

        • Grant says

          @Chip
          Why would it? There’s a lot more to a society’s success than IQ. There are other traits that are likely more helpful. IQ, as with other genetic traits like speed, strength and agility are enhanced with education, upbringing and training.
          Would you deny Hitler’s intelligence? Yet he made many stupid, foolish decisions. There was much than intelligence at work.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Daniel

        Few have any problem with IQ tests with an ethnic group, we all know that some people are not as intelligent as others, it is only when that fact is noticed between Identities that people like Chip feel the need to deny what we all know perfectly well. In those rare but very real instances where a black guy and a white guy take an IQ test as part of, say, applying for some job, and the black guy wins, no one will have any hesitation in saying that the IQ test is a very valid tool and the white guy just didn’t make the grade.

    • Peter from Oz says

      ”There mere fact that IQ and race and genetics is so feverishly debated among laymen should be the tip off that something other than objective scientific inquiry is going on.”
      This is a no sequitur and category error.
      Just because laymen are debating something doesn’t mean that non-laymen are not engaged in objective scientific inquiry on that same topic.
      More importantly, in this instance, laymen are not debating ”IQ and race and genetics”, they are talking about how scientic discoveries in those areas should be applied. They are having the moral argument.
      ”The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak, but then to take it a step further and assign an intelligence ranking to entire ethnic groups is stupidity on steroids.”
      Up to the ”but” you are talking rubbish. No-one thinks thast genetics determines intelligence and intelligence determines determines positive life outcomes. Substitute ”influences” and you would be nearer the mark. I agree that assigning an intelligence ranking to entire ethnic groups is very silly. But that isn’t what scientists are doing. Some foolish laymen might draw ridiculous conclusions from the facts. But you should attack those conclusions not the facts from which they were drawn.
      If a man used the fact that on average women are weaker than men as a justification for not allowing women to drive lorries, he would be wrong, because he hasn’t understood that average strength is no indicator of what individual people can do. On your logic it would seem that because he used a proven fact in support of a ridiculous conclusion, then that fact must be tainted as well.
      The point of this articel is that we must learn to have two arguments: one about the scientific acts and one about the way those facts are to be interpreted.

      • So what are the scientific facts about race and genetics, and how should they be applied?

        • Why do they need to be applied? Science isn’t about morality, it is about acquisition of knowledge.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            @Jeffrey

            Of course, it took an actual scientist to point out that scientific findings themselves, neither ordain nor preclude the application of any behavior or act. Jeffrey, you are invaluable to this discussion – keep’em in line. Well done, Sir!

      • Farris says

        The notion that some knowledge must be verboten because bad actors may seize upon it, is both elitist and anti-intellectual. The ideal of equality before the law is irrespective of IQ, race, creed or class. Merit requires everyone be given a fair shake or it ceases to be merit.
        Average IQ of varying races is simply that, an average. It gleans nothing about any one individual. Anyone running off at the mouth saying, “my race is smarter than your race”, is a moron. The Left is perturbed by this data because it thinks and reacts in tribalist terms. However, anyone who would reach an individual conclusion based on an average does so to their own detriment. If anyone believes averages always determine outcomes go to the crap table and only bet seven.

        • Angela says

          In general I agree, but if Ashkenazi Jews average IQs are correctly reported than they’re two standard deviations higher than the average African. That’s not a minor difference. Its great enough where you really could reasonably assume a random Ashkenazi Jew is more intelligent than a random black African. That doesn give Ashkenazi Jews any more inherent human worth, but it does make them more intelligent to an overwhelming degree.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Peter from Oz

        It is the foundational lies of the Equitarians that make the other lies they tell necessary. But the truth coheres with itself effortlessly since reality coheres with reality by definition. Just drop the Identity agenda, treat people as individuals — who differ from each other, no two of us being the same — but give every one a fair chance, and accept that there will be differences in outcome, and the problem of difference becomes the non-problem of difference.

        But then, what would the Warriors do for work? If we decide that the fact that water flows downhill is a problem that needs fixing, get a job as a fixer, because your lifetime employment is assured.

    • Scroto Baggins says

      “The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak…”

      If by “positive life outcomes”, you mean “Chip’s mindbrain”, then you are correct.

      Chip, are you a sci-fi writer by any chance? If not, consider it, because you make up stuff that makes me feel like I’m on planet Zoozzle, where ice cream never melts and women inhale deeply and say “thank you” when men fart.

      In your list, you left out the Inuit Empire, the pan-pacific conquests of the Oceana Aborigines, and the time the Hawaiians subjugated Russia and forced them to grow pineapple.

      Here’s some ejamecation, since you ain’t got none:

      You can’t equate genetic racial/ethnic groups (all Africans) with arbitrary nation states (Egypt); compare a group’s small regional success against similar genetic groups (the Aztec Empire) with worldwide hegemony against widely different genetic groups (the British Empire); nor most egregiously equate nation state success with average group intelligence (bad luck exists–if a nation state gets no rain and has famine, intelligence ain’t gonna keep them from getting conquered).

      These all fall under what we scientists call the “dumbs*** fallacy.”

      You know I’m just playing wicha, just rappin’. I know you’re not serious. You know I’m not serious. We’re on an anonymous comments board, for pete’s sake! 😂 Stay weird!

      • Yesh (Smeagol) says

        “you make up stuff that makes me feel like I’m on planet Zoozzle, where ice cream never melts and women inhale deeply and say “thank you” when men fart………………..”

        ROTFLMAO

        ALL OF IT!

        DAMN YOU, BAGGINSES! WE CAN’TS BREATHES!

        • Scroto Baggins says

          “DAMN YOU, BAGGINSES! WE CAN’TS BREATHES!”

          That’s why I do it, Smeagol. You can’t steal the ring if you’re rolling on the floor gasping, can you?

          I know Chipmonk is a troll (though I haven’t a clue what HE gets out of this…). I just like to make you oxygen deprived.

          I’m actually a frustrated stand-up comic trapped in the body of a sad, underpaid professor. My true talents are wasted.

          • peanut gallery says

            I like you more than Douche Baggins, the least favorite of all Hobbits.

      • Trash Clan says

        “These all fall under what we scientists call the “dumbs*** fallacy”

        I must correct you there, one scientist to another. It’s

        “dumbshit phallacy”

        Words matter.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Scroto Baggins

        Thanks. Someone had to say it, I didn’t have the fortitude.

    • Hahaha Chip, how right you are there, IQ HAS BECOME THE LATTER DAY PHRENOLOGY, yes, very right, I wonder for some time now why Quillette time and time again pops up with essays on that IQ and race or ethnicity. It’s like the clustering concept instead of the old race concept. A few times, I asked them here to stop this childish and pseudoscientific altright shouting, to no avail!! Really a stain on the site!

    • Event Horizon says

      “The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak”

      Are you seriously suggesting that intelligence has a weak influence on life outcome? Are we that indoctrinated now as to claim that wildly successful people are of average intelligence?

      • Event, what do you think is the IQ of Trump? Has it ever been measured ,and, if so, broadcast or published? Nevertheless, he has done very well in business and politics!

        • A single example does not provide evidence of anything. A single measurement is meaningless.

        • Debbie says

          It helps to have no morals and to have been born a multi-millionaire. It also helps that most Americans — as are most people — are dumb as bricks.

    • @Chip says

      Chip, have a look at Gregory Clark’s books, especially A Farewell to Alms. He argues quite convincingly that genes have quite a bit to do with explaining the relative success of certain countries in different eras.

    • Angela says

      All of those powers are from at least relatively high IQ societies so I don’t get what point you’re making.

    • First Chip, I believe you don’t understand the difference between correlation and causation. Secondly you seem to not understand that means are not indicative of an entire population. Third, you are confusing genotype and phenotype. Fourth, actually we do have real world evidence that low intelligence does hinder combat success. Look up McNamara’s Morons. It’s a a terrible name and an even more tragic story.

    • Can running fast be genetically based? Clearly, anybody can train to run and will run better than they previously did, but everyone cannot “just train” and become the fastest runner.

    • Shatterface says

      The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak,

      Look at your own IQ and what you’ve made of your life and ask yourself is this really true?

    • If you think the Ancient Egyptians were the same ethnic group as the people current living in Egypt, it’s no wonder notions of genetics and ethnicity are so confusing to you.

      The same is true, to a lesser degree, of Byzantium.

      The other groups are all still world powers.

  4. Daniel says

    Van Jones. What a surprise that he’s involved in this.
    One thing he’s right about: some things aren’t genetically determined — like the commitment to honesty.
    Let’s take Van Jones himself as an example: he has steadfastly chosen to uphold the Cause of Lies at every point in his career. It’s his choice. He chose it. It wasn’t chosen for him. He’s not genetically predetermined to be a liar. He prefers to be one. He wants to be a liar more than he wants to be trustworthy.

    • 南沢山 says

      “He’s not genetically predetermined to be a liar.”

      He might be. There is some interesting research on genetically-driven psychopathic personality traits out there.

  5. Farris says

    The author appears unaware that he and is ilk are involved in a terf war. Soft sciences have been polluted for sometime now with various courses and curricula. These jargon dependent studies develop theories then invent, create or skew data to back them up. The practitioners are rewarded with professorships, book deals, tv appearances and political consultant employment. Hard sciences can not be permitted to interfere or upset this industry. Students are the soldiers guarding the terf.

    These are the wages of complacency. When the “Bell Curve” was initially attacked few hard scientists on the Left came to the defense of Murray and Herrnstein. Economic theory has been contaminated for over 50 years but many stayed silent to protect their ideology. Pseudoscience was allowed to fester unchecked and now it threatens the hard sciences. Using fake science or simply lying in the name of progress is not ethical but it certainly is “Progressive”.

  6. Num num says

    Yes, I too have wondered if SJWs, like racial supremacists, fallaciously believe if there are biological differences logic inexorably dictates we must have inequality before the law. Therefore they have to deny biological differences at all costs to prevent an inevitably ensuing holocaust.

    However, counterfactual to that catastrophizing view, there are people with severe mental retardation and society has utterly repudiated their sterilization, harm and exploitation even while acknowledging biological origins of their inferior cognitive abilities. Under classical liberalism, those with impaired abilities have earned social protections, not extermination, even while acknowledging biological origins of their disabilities. So the slippery slope SJWs fear is at worst the rare exception in history, not the rule.

    The concept of equal rights as a social ethos is only meaningful in light of our innate inequities. Implicit in the concept is that people of all types are irregardless equal before the law. If we were actually equal by nature, all clones, the concept wouldn’t mean anything, it wouldn’t be needed. It’s needed because we are not all clones, and it has worked to quash eugenics and Nazism without needing to deny biological differences.

    • @NumNum says

      “Eugenics and Nazism” are not the same thing, as the author of this article as written. Nearly everyone thinks incest is bad to the extent that it produces offspring with traits that harm their prospects. That’s eugenics. We need to distinguish between coercive and non-coercive eugenics, at the very least. Other distinctions matter too.

      Point is, nearly everyone who cares about the genetic component of future people supports eugenics, a term coined by Galton, which means “good birth.” Galton himself wanted people to make informed reproductive choices and would never have supported the Nuremberg Laws in Nazi Germany.

      • Num num says

        ” “Eugenics and Nazism” are not the same thing ”

        Not sure how you inferred that my phrase form, “A and B,” asserted, A = B, assuming you did infer that.

        I’m fully aware that, for example, Margaret Sanger was not precisely a proponent of Nazism even as she shared some disturbing similarities. Her eugenics advocacy does not appear to have been racially motivated, for example, but targeted at the developmentally impaired of all races.

        • Farris says

          @num bum
          “Her eugenics advocacy does not appear to have been racially motivated, for example, but targeted at the developmentally impaired of all races.”

          The Truth About Margaret Sanger
          
”I accepted an invitation to talk to the women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan…I saw through the door dim figures parading with banners and illuminated crosses…I was escorted to the platform, was introduced, and began to speak…In the end, through simple illustrations I believed I had accomplished my purpose. A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered.” (Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography, P.366)

          • Num num says

            Farris, the full passage you’ve chopped up demonstrates how Sanger distanced herself from the Klan. Even a bit you included — “A dozen invitations to speak to similar groups were proffered” — indicates her personal distance from the Klan, just one of many groups that invited her to speak. The passage reveals that she was a total outsider to the Klan and simply took opportunities offered to spread her message.

            I spent some time trying to prove that her eugenics advocacy was racially motivated but had to conclude there’s no clear evidence of that. But many people want to believe that, as if advocating eugenics itself wasn’t bad enough. The stretch her enemies make allows her defenders to debunk the claims and act like her sainthood is restored while she’s nevertheless still a left-wing saint who advocated an important part of Nazism.

    • Sterilazation is illegal but there does appear to be some reason to suspect that abortions may be used in the future to electively eliminate fetuses with undesirable traits. We are already seeing this occuring in Iceland with traits such as down syndrome. It is also rumored to occur in China based upon sex of the fetus.

      • @Jeffrey – You can’t determine the sex of a fetus until it declares its sex, don’t you know?
        Sterilization isn’t illegal if you choose it for yourself, or if nature gave it unequally to you.

        Incest isn’t really a genetic problem; it becomes an issue mostly if a population remains too small over generations. Brothers and sisters and parents already share much genetically, so blending them is unlikely to create evolutionary issues in a single generation.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @david of Kirkland

          Thanks for pointing that out. It is very strange that in places like India and China, people seem to think they can determine the sex of a fetus when we now know that there is no such thing as biological sex anyway. I wonder how they cling to such ancient superstitions? However it is curious that in those societies the number of babies who grow up selecting ‘male’ as their sex now outnumber those who choose ‘female’, I wonder why?

      • Sorry, but how is sex eugenics supposed to work?

        Sure, you can create a sex imbalance by selective abortions but the next generation is unaffected.

        You can’t remove the ‘female gene’ from the gene pool by aborting female foetuses.

        • No, you can’t remove the gene in the next generation. Is it any less eugenics though, if you are selectively eliminating fetuses based upon their genotype, i.e. their sex? It may not be successful eugenics but that didn’t seem to stop early 20th century eugenics proponents, who often included people whose conditions were non-heritable.

      • D.B. Cooper says

        @Jeffrey

        Actually, eugenics is widely practiced across America and has been for some time, now. I’m absent the statistics at the moment, but suffice it to say, it simply is the case that women in America (and likely a majority of Europe) regularly abort fetuses who are known to have genetic conditions (chromosomal anomalies), such as trisomy 21, i.e., Down syndrome.

        And just in case anyone doubts our commitment to eugenics, it is apparently a matter of “standard” practice for some not insignificant percentage of Obstetricians to actually encourage the mother to abort her dysgenic child. Of course, without data this last part concerning OBs is an essentially meaningless claim; although maybe there’s polling on it, who knows?

        In any case, the point I was hoping to press is that eugenics is, not only widely practice relative to the number of abortions each year, it is also morally & culturally defensible, i.e., legitimate practice.

        Whatever one’s political bent might be, everyone should be able to appreciate this level of irony. It’s thick on the ground, I can tell you.

        • D.B. Cooper says

          @Vicki

          Well, that would be for you to decide yourself. As a rule, I’m generally against abortions, but that’s just my personal views. I understand and respect other people’s opinions on the matter.

          The point I was trying to convey was that in America you often hear bromides (from the Left) about the far Right and their secret love affair with eugenics, yet, it occurs all the time and usually concomitant to the Left’s outsized support of abortion rights; hence my statement on irony.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Num num

      That’s just the thing. Admit that negroes, as a group, need affirmative action, and give it to them for the honest reason, rather than cooking up some fantasy about systemic oppression whereas what we in fact have is systemic favoritism. I have a niece right now in college. She’s taking a very special reduced load curriculum not because she’s being oppressed by some imaginary monster, but because, due to a severe fever resulting from one of her immunizations when she was little, she is impaired and she needs the special help. It works so much better when you tell the truth.

      • My son is autistic, he is extremely smart and observant, but he has difficulty reading. If he has the questions read to him he generally answers correctly, however, he has trouble decoding written words and spends so much energy on this task that he usually scores poorly on reading tests. As a result, he has a specialized educational program. As he should.

  7. I’m not opposed to anything I read in the article, it’s frightening. However, I just watched Stefan Molyneus in an interview on The Rubin Report the other day.

    They were talking about differences in average IQ among racial or ethnic groups. He clearly drew a correlation between shockingly high murder rates committed by African American men and low IQ. This clearly reflects the logic of eugenics and it’s dangerous. Ironically, it’s the same faulty logic used by third wave feminists and gender studies academics imo.

    I had just watched Thomas Sowell interviewed the day before on the same show. He was arguing against the welfare state. One of his arguments is his experience growing up in 1940s Harlem. Low crime, more economic prosperity, more community. The degradation of community and escalation in crime is directly linked to the ‘war on poverty’ and welfare, in his view. Apparently, high crime is not related to IQ. I don’t know about his theory on welfare but I see no proof that lower IQ is related to being a killer. It would probably only dictate what sort of job a person would be good at, not laziness or having no moral code.

    There really are two sides to this issue, the reasoning of eugenics can easily happen again when debating theory. I also agree that hard data, like differences in IQ, cannot be ignored and liberals are clearly trying to shut down scientific research.

    I think the ‘leftists’ are right though, prejudiced people will use any data they can find to prop up prejudices and advance their identity politics. It’s two sides of the same coin. I’ve seen it over and over again on the conservative side, I’m gay and grew up in the Bible Belt in the 60s and 70s, much of the religious right’s anti-gay propaganda has been developed in this way. I’ve come across countless people in my life who believe every word of it and ignore a more factual analysis. Conservatives need to acknowledge this side of the issue.

    • There is some evidence that criminals tend to have lower than average IQ and those with lower than average IQ are more likely to commit crimes, however, this doesn’t mean it is deterministic. In fact, like with most social sciences, at best this is only a correlation. Once again people simply don’t understand the difference between correlation and causation. And people don’t understand the concept of means, that there will always be tails that fall more than 2 standard deviations from the mean. That populations are a spectrum and furthermore, rarely is anything on nature truly normally distributed.

      • ga gamba says

        One thing to remember is that convicts weren’t intelligent enough to avoid making bad decisions as well as evade being caught. There may be a group of people who are intelligent enough to perpetrate crimes and evade capture. The really smart ones have laws crafted with loopholes built in.

        There is an argument that psychopathy is in large part biologically based. Though not all psychopaths are criminals, the population of psychopaths who are criminals is greatly disproportionate to their number in general population. We find many more male psychopaths than female – studies find 10:1 to 20:1 – and saying so isn’t controversial. Might there also be other groups who have a higher or lower tendency? And is exploring this contentious?

        Controversial professor of psychometrics Richard Lynn published findings proposing “that there are racial and ethnic differences in psychopathic personality conceptualised as a continuously distributed trait, such that high values of the trait are present in blacks and Native Americans, intermediate values in Hispanics, lower values in whites and the lowest values in East Asians.”

        Further, research of the so-called warrior gene MAOA-L and a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13) found greater repeat of aggression, antisocial behaviour, and violent criminality.

        Of course, human behavior is explained by a combination of environment and a complex interaction of multiple genes. There are many violent criminals who aren’t psychopaths and don’t have a less active MAOA enzyme.

        Should we shy away from research many find discomforting? I don’t think so. Why? Such research doesn’t cease. It may simply fall into the hands of the those who are malevolent because all others are fearful of being denounced. For example, is Dr Lynn right or wrong? Is he a malevolent racist or a fearless trailblazer? I’m not qualified to assess. Wiser to have many scientists delving into these issues so that well-informed non-ideological scrutiny occurs. Soon enough therapies such as gene editing will become available, and it would be tragic if people were needlessly victimised by criminality that could have been prevented had thorough research been done.

        • Actually, the arguy should be that when science makes us uncomfortable is when we should pursue it even harder. Science should never be shackled by dogma. And blindly accepting the conventional wisdom is easy but rarely leads to advancements. It is easy to follow the herd, however, history shows that often the most valuable advancements come from those who rejected the easy route.

          • I didn’t say that research shouldn’t be pursued if it makes us uncomfortable, I’m pointing out how this debate is already leading to correlations that are nothing but weak theory that should be handled carefully, IQs are factual, contemplating what it means beyond an individual’s ability to study or work is just theory that can easily be influenced by prejudices. That’s exactly how eugenics manifested. What does a 15 point average difference even mean? More genius level white people drive up the averages of the entire population? There are plenty of low IQ white people. Just reading through this thread of comments already shows how quickly people want to refer to African Americans as criminals and low IQ. Jeezus.

            I think Sowell’s explanation of environmental and economic factors is far more plausible, and he provides some pretty good evidence. First hand experience living in a thriving African American neighborhood with much lower crime, in an era of intense racism and segregation.

            I find it interesting that we blame the degradation of white, working class family and community, out of control addiction and overdose rates, high suicide rates, high crime and welfare dependence on globalization and loss of good paying factory jobs. Somebody wrote a book about this culture in the Rust Belt right before Trump got elected. The media fell in love with it. Those same jobs that African Americans fled the Jim Crow south to obtain in the industrial cities in the north back in the day. All gone, this has been devastating to both white and black working class neighborhoods in my city.

            These sorts of correlations are no different than a social justice warrior’s logic imo.

            People suffer, most billionaires and CEOs are white men and they owned slaves 160 years ago, therefore, Patriarchy!

            ‘Whiteness’, this construct coming out of universities, is also nearly identical to eugenics imo. Like original sin.

          • ..Unfortunately there’s no edit option. Another thought I’ve had on this issue is comparing what’s going on in Mexico to Southside Chicago’s murder rate. I don’t think Mexico’s outrageous murder rate has anything to do with the genetics or IQ of that population. It’s a complex culture of gang violence and drug trafficking usurping government control over many years, destroying societies in entire cities. Not unlike Southside Chicago today, and not unlike the heyday of white mobsters terrorizing populations.

            I find it very disturbing to hear someone throwing out this IQ correlation with murder rates. It’s very much like eugenics imo.

          • David I didn’t mean to imply you did state that uncomfortable science shouldn’t be pursued. I was actually agreeing with your statement that it should be pursued. Infact that which makes us uncomfortable is the most important inquiries that we should make.

        • I was agreeing with ga gamba’s statement not yours sorry. Lack of edit button strikes again.

      • X. Citoyen says

        Jeffery,

        Don’t forget common cause when it comes to criminality. Alcohol, drugs, and smoking all have all kinds of cognitive effects on babies in utero. Fetal alcohol syndrome, for example, causes both low IQ and low impulse control later in life. Sad as it is to say, such children can be time-bombs waiting to go off. Add in the social pathologies learned from mommy dearest and it would be surprising if the criminal population did not have low IQ.

    • You can always argue over political actions and laws and responses to reality, but we shouldn’t argue over the reality.
      Climate change falls into this category, too, in which it’s fair to suggest that CO2 taxes, or eliminating fossil fuels is a political response that may work or may not work, but not whether climate change due to greenhouse gasses is real.
      Only a few tyrants want to use genetic variability for any legal or social action; but that doesn’t mean genes do not affect human bodies.

  8. Ullica Segerstrale wrote a book about the controversy discussed in this article surrounding EO Wilson’s Sociobiology:

    Defenders of the Truth
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/786131.Defenders_of_the_Truth

    Which she gives a talk about in this video 40 years later:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRH8L7pQQX0

    The Goodreads description sums up her conclusion about good science versus bad science in contrast to political activism as a motivation. I wouldn’t say based on the description that good science doesn’t have more than one conflicting ideology that is supported by resources that are politically generated.

  9. I struggle to understand how certain proponents of equal rights base their position on blank-slatism.

    If your belief that all peoples deserve equal rights is based on your belief that all peoples are fundamentally the same, firstly your belief in equal rights is not (by definition) based on morality; and secondly, it is subject to being changed by the facts of life (hence sticking your head in the sand to avoid this problem.)

    A belief that all peoples deserve equal rights should be completely independent of the differences or similarities between those peoples.

    • Rights are human creations, so we clearly can decide what motivates our declaration that some things are rights.
      Equal protection under the law makes sense provided you have sound laws — which we’ve clearly shown is not necessarily the case (slavery, segregation, Native American forced relocations, women voting, Iraq War under Bush 2, war on drugs, anti-homosexual laws, etc.).
      Society can grant us equal rights, but it cannot make humans equal in any meaningful way outside of the law.

  10. First they came for the people of faith. I did nothing because I wasn’t a person of faith.
    Then they came for the patriotic Americans. I did nothing because I wasn’t patriotic.

  11. Winter is coming. And, during Winter, Truth is not relevant. What’s relevant is who your friends and allies are. Evolutionary scientists cannot stand alone and survive.

  12. Barney Doran says

    It is not that their ideas are loony (they are entitled to them); it’s that they attempt to crush freedom of speech in their pursuit and expression of them. Suppression of free speech should be recognized as the most pernicious of crimes on campuses and not, as it apparently is, encouraged by administrators, faculties, and students. If free speech goes, then all the other rights will become meaningless. What don’t they get about that?

  13. C Young says

    While I am entirely supportive of the goals of this piece, the picture is not quite so simple.

    The Naturalistic Fallacy isn’t entirely a fallacy. The idea that the universes of ‘is’ and ‘ought’ can be hermetically sealed is an element of empiricist dogma that doesn’t stand much scrutiny. Facts and values are entangled.

    Imagine that you live in a group that worships the earth as the centre of the universe. Children are thrown into volcanic craters every equinox to appease the earth god. Elaborate rituals and social codes are constructed around the earth’s central position in all things. Then someone discovers that the Earth orbits the Sun.

    We express our ‘ought’ positions in the language delivered by ‘is’. ‘Is’ arguments can undermine ‘ought’ positions by discrediting the objects, forces, theories etc etc that they reference.

    This should be obvious. What is the history of Western thought in the last 500 years other than the progressive undermining of the previously dominant concept of the divine?

    The situation of progressives is rather like the Christians of the early 19th century. The latter saw all order in nature (rainbows, finches beaks etc) as confirmation of the existence of a benign god. The former believe that all of history (an ‘is’ position) supports their ‘ought positions’.

    What is progressivism but the belief that there is a direction in history? Without it, how would we know which direction constitutes progress? If an ‘ought’ was ever derived from an ‘is’, this is one of them.

    Thus, progressives are often correct in believing alternative explanations for order in the world as deeply threatening to their weltanschauung.

  14. Gabriel M says

    The Pinkeresque argument that the liberal social order is just regardless of what science may discover about genetic differences between humans is obviously silly. No-one thinks cows should have the same rights as human beings. Why not? Obviously, genetic differences. Similarly, giving equal rights to people with Downs Syndrome would just be cruel.

    The actual justification for equal rights is presumably that the actual differences between human groups are not large enough to justify different treatment, or that the variation among individuals is great enough that treating people as individuals makes more sense, or that differences caused by environment are sufficiently large to make genetics-based discrimination unjust, or that we don’t know enough about genetics to discriminate justly.

    All of those are substantially true for 90% of practical purposes (at least!), but it’s up to you to demonstrate them without falling back – as Pinker transparently does – on childish metaphysics and the implicit concept of the soul.

  15. Dear evolutionary biologists, when your clash with the SJWs ends up in the courts, as it will, who is more likely to be on your side, a Trump-appointed judge or an Obama-appointed one? Think about this.

  16. E. Olson says

    All the major players in the Eugenics movement were Leftists, from Adolph Hitler to Woodrow Wilson, who wanted to help society by ridding it of inferior genes through mass sterilization or killing of those deemed to have low IQ or other indications of mental health defects. It is interesting that today Hitler is really the only major Eugenics booster who is universally scorned in large part because he was too efficient and non-selective in his “final solution”, while other boosters such as Margaret Sanger, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Wilson are still celebrated. On the other hand, who benefits from having lots of low IQ people around today? Again it is totally Leftists, who are almost exclusively the grievance studies professors, “diversity and inclusion” officers, race hustlers, open border proponents, social workers, and Democrat party officials that gain their status, paychecks, and votes from promoting the idea that low IQ has nothing at all to do with the low life success rate (e.g. in school, work, marriage, child-rearing), and high social costs (e.g. school disrupting, criminal activity, violence) associated with their clientele, but instead is due entirely to discrimination that can only be fixed by giving them more money and power. The interesting question that the Left doesn’t wish to discuss or do research on anymore, however, is which Leftist side is mostly correct – the Eugenicists or the Blank Slaters? The painful truth to most of them is we already know the answer, but the scarier issue is whether Leftists would be so squeamish about Eugenic research and practice today if the overwhelming majority of all the low IQ/mental defect people were lower class heterosexual whites – you know the ones that didn’t vote for Hillary.

    • “All the major players in the Eugenics movement were Leftists, from Adolph Hitler to Woodrow Wilson”

      I am always conscious of the limitation of categorising all politics along a left right scale which often seems quite arbitray with differences from country to country and over time however claiming Hitler to be a ‘leftist’ is ridiculous not withstanding the name of his party including the word ‘socialist’.
      He is an archetype of the extreme right, militarisitic, racist, authoritarian dictator.

      It is wrong to say that only Hitler amonst early eugenists is scorned. The whole area is semi-taboo and historic practioners widely criticised.

      • E. Olson says

        AJ – the Nazis were for big government, big taxes, big regulation, identity politics, environmentalism, and eugenics. They were also anti-religion (except for the religion of the state). What part of their agenda would you classify as extreme Right? You must be reading those history books written by Leftists who are very uncomfortable with how close Hitler’s policies mirror their own policy preferences.

        • Hitler was a Catholic. So were most of his closest colleagues. The only Nazi excommunicated by the catholic church was booted out because he married a divorcee.

          And if the Left is defined by the size of the government then every Republican government in the last hundred years is ‘Leftist.’

          • Hitler was raised Catholic but he rejected the church after he reached adulthood. Also, there were many of his advisors who were neo-paganists, Lutherans and outright atheists. Hitler wanted to destroy organized religion and a good number of Catholic preists, nuns and monks, along with many protestant clergy, were killed in the Holocaust. Nice revisionism there.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @E. Olson

          IMHO that’s the first dumb thing you have ever said. It is true that extreme left and extreme right become almost indistinguishable but just short of the merging point, they are still different. The Nazis were also for rich capitalists selling weapons to the state, they didn’t bother with Stalinist lies about ‘workers of the world unite’, they were overtly for conquering or exterminating the non-German workers of the world. They had no pretense of kindness to the ‘weak’, one only existed insofar as one was useful to the Reich. In contrast the Soviets at least pretended to care for ‘the people’ and sometimes, nuts, they even did.

          • E. Olson says

            Ray – sorry but your weakness in history is showing. The Nazis did not nationalize heavy industry but they did regulate the profitability and salaries of top management/owners to “equalize” things. The Nazis tolerated to some degree capitalists, but they hated Capitalism because it took too much power from the state, which is why they heavily regulated it and taxed it. They also nationalized healthcare (aka single payer), built vacation resorts for the working people, and initiated the “people’s car” the Beetle as low cost transport for the masses – which is more than the Soviets did for their own citizens. You might also ask Ukrainians about how much the Soviets cared for “the people” or just look up the term Holodomor to find out. The several million Soviet citizens sent to the Gulag’s might also disagree about Soviet caring. The only “extreme Right” “fascist” government in recent times is Pinochet in Chile, who used U. of Chicago guidance to free up the economy with lower regulations and taxes and after setting things up to run smoothly voluntarily gave up power for free elections – and yes about 3,000 political opponents were killed by the regime, which is bad but nothing compared to the 100 million killed by the Communists and Nazis during the 20th century. So please don’t try to equate the extreme Left with the extreme Right, because only the Left has economically ruined countries and killed millions of their own citizens for daring to disagree.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @E.Olsen

            “………. The Nazis tolerated to some degree capitalists, but they hated Capitalism because it took too much power from the state, which is why they heavily regulated it and taxed it…..”

            About two years after Hitler took power in 1933, he announced German rearmament. After another year, Hitler re-occupied the Rhineland. So the Nazis put the economy on a war footing well before 1939.

            Any modern state waging global war will regulate and tax the economy to support the war effort, as the US did in WWII. Heck, even the English kings of old taxed the nobles to support their foreign wars. Get real.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @E.Olson

            The Nazis ‘.. also nationalized healthcare (aka single payer)……’

            Does that mean that when US Democrats finally pass ‘Medicare for All,” conservatives will start calling it HitlerCare?

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @AJ

        I commented on this matter in a different, recent thread:

        https://quillette.com/2018/12/07/academics-mobbing-of-a-young-scholar-must-be-denounced/#comment-51755

        To continue the discussion in a new thread, roughly from the time Darwin published his book “On the origin….” people who wanted to be considered advanced thinkers twisted his ideas to suit their own pre-existing agendas. This was true of rights and leftists.

        GB Shaw in 1921: “He [Darwin] had the luck to please everyone with an axe to grind.”

        We should remember that Karl Marx wanted to dedicate “Das Kapital” to Darwin, but Darwin’s family demurred.

        On the right, JD Rockefeller, A. Carnegie and others were big believers in ‘Social Darwinism’: the survival of the fittest [not a coinage of Darwin] and the non-survival of the non-fit. More details are in the book “Social Darwinism in American Thought” by R. Hofstadter.

    • Nate D. says

      @ E. Olson

      As a “low IQ/mental defect […] lower class heterosexual white” that didn’t vote for Hillary, I have a quick question:

      As the West becomes more secular and the “endowed by their creator” portion of the Declaration carries less and less leverage, how do we anchor ethics to keep them from drifting towards the slippery slope? Christian sensibilities maintain that human dignity is anchored in the Imago Dei (special revelation). You mentioned Woodrow Wilson, who, throughout his career slowly jettisoned his Presbyterian upbringing and embraced science as the guiding light. Will western society follow the same arc? Can human dignity be anchored to anything within science alone? Or does it just dissolve until the strongest people group gets to determine how human worth is calculated?

      • Nate D. says

        Sorry E. Olson, you mean’t E.O. Wilson. Not Woodrow. My bad. But my main question still stands.

        Peter Singer is another example of our ethics inching toward an unpredictable edge.

      • E. Olson says

        Nate – the bad news is the strongest group always has decided how just about anything is calculated and valued. The good news is the strongest groups today are probably the most empathetic and meritocratic in history, which means “misfit” groups such as homosexuals, feminists, racial minorities, and low IQ are not only allowed to live free, but are actually given privilege and help that would have been unthinkable until recently (and is still unthinkable in much of the Muslim/developing world). Science can help “misfits” because when done properly the knowledge generated allows the public to understand why they are misfits (i.e. genetic causes or environmental causes), and help in prescribing the best policies for minimizing the problems they cause to society or experience themselves. I personally think it is much more difficult to be harsh with someone who acts in an anti-social manner when it becomes known that they can’t help it because of mental deficiencies or other genetic problems they were born with. On the other hand, harshness in the form of “tough love” may be exactly the best policy when anti-social behavior is due to environmental factors that can be corrected with education or other help. Thus it is important that society encourage scientists to examine difficult issues such as the sources of differences in IQ, personality, and mental illnesses between individuals and groups so that we can work on effective treatments, but doing so requires being willing to accept scientific results that are likely to be uncomfortable or threatening for some who benefit from the current ignorance or inaccurate diagnoses and prescriptions.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @E. Olson

      “discrimination that can only be fixed by giving them more money and power”

      It might be just that simple. These people aren’t as stupid as they look, they just know where their bread is buttered. A good example of this kind of thing is available here in Canada with the situation of the Indians. Every year we apologize more deeply than the year before, spend more money than the year before, institute ever more special race based laws and privileges … and every year the situation gets worse. But the solution suggested is even more of the policies that have proven to fail.

      The snake-oil salesman assures you that his product will shrink your tumor. If you’ve been taking it for months and your tumor is in fact bigger, what does the salesman say? We all know what he says: you aren’t taking *enough* snake-oil, buy even more and your problems will be solved. Thus, if Equity is not working, what we need is more Equity.

      • TarsTarkas says

        Especially when the equity is extracted from the fellow behind the tree.

  17. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”

    It’s easy to understand the SJW when one looks at the planks of our society. The problem to me is the literal interpretation of any text. When we look at the framers words and interpret them as the infallible, perfect, and immutable word of god then one is compelled to do all the crazy SJW behavior.

    I’m so glad to see people trying to push back against this literal interpretation of the declaration. Of course all people are not literally created equal. That is an absurd statement. If, however, you start with that delusion then you must behave as a SJW and try to rewrite reality to conform to your own delusion.

    Thanks for the article and keep up the good work.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @PB

      Sorry but you’ve got it entirely wrong. “All men are created equal” is a legal ideal, not a fact on the ground. And the SJWs do not want ‘equality’, which is equality before the law and an equal chance to succeed, what they want is ‘Equity’, namely an enforced equality of outcomes even if that means a gross amount of government interference in free choice.

  18. Event Horizon says

    Humans dominate the planet because of one asset: the human brain. It is utterly crazy to believe that somehow genetics plays no role in its performance, but it does determine curly hair or the lack thereof (as in Africans vs. Asians), eye color, skin pigmentation (two Caucasian parents will not have a black skin baby and vice-versa – safe for, you guessed it, a genetic mutation), etc. Anyone that thinks genes do not bear any influence on intelligence is welcome to spawn with the biggest dumba$$ it can find. Or, needs to explain to us all the large behavioral differences between various dog breeds. Start with Italian Greyhounds vs. Rottweilers. Are the observed behavioral differences between Italian Greyhounds and Rottweilers due to socializing? If so, then why do most rental companies ban one and not the other? The science is not up for debate, people. No matter how much the SJWs try to deny it, the truth will always be with us.

    • Can anyone point to real world examples of higher IQ leading to success?

      Like, does the team that wins the World Cup have the higher IQ?
      When the Red Army defeated the Nazis, was it because they were smarter?
      Did the Americans dominate the 20th century because of higher intelligence? And did they American Century come to an end because they somehow got stupid?

      Where is all this “scientific” evidence?

      • Calm down Chip, we don’t talk science,facts or truth here, it’s ideology, identity, special camps, home, heimat, with arguments, you come nowhere here, useless, forget it!

      • Nowhere Chip, but you can’t change believes with mere facts or arguments, even if you try with both hands!

    • While I agree with your sentiment I reject your statement the science isn’t up for debate. Science is about debating, about questioning and about skepticism. Otherwise it becomes dogma. The only way to advance science is by questioning it. I see one of my jobs as a science professor is to be a professional skeptics, especially in regards to my own work.

  19. Is and Ought are not disconnected, because most people are interested in preserving their “isness” and will abide by “oughts” to do so. They won’t run into oncoming traffic or jump off tall buildings unless they have serious mental health issues (which means that a strong will to suicide is a powerful criterion of bad mental health–which says something about the conceptual assumptions of “mental health”). .

    While the human desire to survive is based on what might be characterized as irrational or pre-rational emotional commitments, obviously there has been a lot of selection pressure for this particular psychological framework. A suicidal population will not continue in time.

    All ethics are ultimately life boat ethics, in that the only ethical system that will survive under extreme duress is a life boat ethic, and the rest of ethics is not different from window treatments, which will burn when the house burns.

    Trying to bracket the question of “is” and the related question of survival, maintaining the “is”, from questions of morality and ethics is foolish. While Jones Town happened, Jones Town is extremely disturbing because it goes so deeply against the ordinary. If “is” truly had nothing to do with “ought”, people would simply view Jones Town or Heaven’s Gate as simply another lifestyle choice like BDSM.

    You can imagine the philosopher and the 4 year old. “Child, no amount of “is” statements amounts to an “ought”, so there is really no reason why you shouldn’t reach out and touch the red hot burner on that stove.” It is interesting that what is child abuse in one context is philosophical brilliance in another.

    • I think the ramifications of “is” and “ought” must lead us to acknowledge that morality in humans is i.) contingent, ii.) situational, iii.) based on custom, not reason (e.g. morality is about identity which is a form of “isness”). If there were a species of sentient lions, they might have cultural institutions that resembled human morality, but no human would accept it as a moral system, as it would be inhuman.

  20. What about equal rights for the Neanderthalers? Or the Denisova or Flores men? Good that they have been eradicated, otherwise, no UDHR (notwithstanding their higher cranial capacity for that first one).

    • Were the wiped out or did they die off? It is possible that they may have been more intelligent than homo sapiens, that doesn’t mean they were best suited to changes in climate. Neanderthal populations appear to have always been small and thus they were more susceptible to disruption. They also were highly adapted to their environment.

      • It is a well understood concept in biology that generalist tend to be more successful then specialist, especially when their is a disruption in their envioronment. Generalist also tend to have larger populations and thus are able to better weather population dieoffs related to disruptions.

        • We’ll probably never know Jeffrey. Yuval Harari about the disappearance of the Neanderthalers:” Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark. In modern times, a small difference in skin colour, dialect or religion can set one Sapiens group about exterminating another. Would ancient Sapiens have been more tolerant…? “

          • There is little evidence of open hostility but there is evidence that even prior to Homo Sapiens appearing in the near East and Europe that Neanderthal population was decreasing. And there is evidence that there was interbreeding. This suggests that it is unlikely that Homo Sapiens wiped out Neanderthals. Their disappearance was much more complicated.

    • X. Citoyen says

      Recent DNA research showed that Neanderthals were assimilated by the homo sapiens who occupied Europe. This hypothesis, the most obvious explanation for their disappearance, was quietly ignored for years for the same reason evolutionary biologists are facing flack now. Some scientists believed it would imply sharper racial differences between Europeans and others. But once the DNA evidence came out, they gave way.

      I believe the same is now generally believed to have occurred with other groups, though I’m not sure whether DNA has been found for those groups.

      • I am not certain about DNA but fossil records suggesting Devonians and Homo Sapiens cross bred in East Asia have been found as well.

        • Devonians Jeffrey? Are you not a few 100 milion years wrong now??

          • You’re correct denisovan not devonian. I am not an early hominad specialist, and my cursory knowledge of it did result in me getting it mixed up.

      • gabrielle sinclair says

        I read that the neanderthal contribution to the present European population averages about 3 to 5 %, and these mostly are genes involved in the immune system, not intelligence. Only Those genes that contributed to the reproductive success of the individual were retained in the genome, the rest were not.

        • Also interesting: African tribes and populations have no Neanderthal DNA at all. H.sapiens origins and early development (50K yrs) was in Africa, so, some genetic enforcement of Homo species developed in cold northern areas would not have been a luxury. But what would have been the influence on intelligence and brain structure??

  21. Jack Danzey says

    Normally I would assume that some of the people in this thread must be blowing things out of proportion. Normally, this would be the case because it is quite a claim to say that the progressive activist types simply do not care about what is true. That sounds preposterous on the face of it, and seems easy to dismiss.

    It never ceases to blow my mind, however, when I recall Pinkers’ Blank Slate. I cant recall the exact lines, but he mentions both Lewontin and Gould, and cites several absolutely atrocious things that these two did in order to fight against, well, science. He quoted Gould as saying, essentially, that he opposed E.O Wilson and his Sociobiology NOT on any scientific ground but on moral grounds. In other words, he flat out admits that he didn’t care what the truth was, he simply thought that his moral worldview did not fit with the science that Wilson produced, and that was enough to denounce it as garbage.

  22. Charles White says

    How long before socialists declare the science settled, and therefore genes do not exist? Thereby labeling those scientists who question this conclusion as deniers to be tossed out of the field.

    I suppose then that the field of genetics will become the study of denying genes and their role in life. The conclusion exists already and research just has to be manipulated to reach that conclusion. Similar to the socialist science of AGW.

    Not long considering the tone of this article.

    Final thought, I wonder what the stance of the CBC 1970s affirmative action hire, Dr. Suzuki, will be. In theory he is a research geneticist, but he is also practitioner of socialist science.

    • TarsTarkas says

      That happened once before. Trofim Lysenko. Set back Soviet biological sciences decades. His lunatic theories about ‘training’ crops to grow faster and more fruitful might have even hastened the fall of the Soviet Union.

    • gabrielle sinclair says

      Suspect the coming explosion in useful products from the biological sciences e.g. genetic engineering will put gene-deniers into the same place as flat earth deniers, but considering the video of a girl announcing that the world needs get rid of imperialistic western science and return to native ways of knowing and then getting out her smart phone and using it … (not that there are not some useful concepts in traditional knowledge)

  23. Frankly, coming from someone about to finish a graduate degree in the social sciences (international relations), there are two things that are constant: physics envy and fear of biologists.

    The first is anger that physics happens to be extraordinarily effective at coming up with answers using math that play out in the real world, at least for the most part. This makes social scientists upset and envious because any social prediction is subject to an extraordinarily high degree of variation since true controlled experiments are ethically impossible, and because humans do seemingly counter-intuitive things on a regular basis. This leads to the envy that more often then not even extremely well thought out models and theories never seem to be all that predictive, which damages their credibility.

    The second is two fold, the fear that biologists will invalidate everything that the humanities and social sciences do and that this will lead once again to the horrors of the 20th century. Of course biologists don’t see it that way, they see it as adding to the totality of understanding. But social scientists see their premises being challenged on a fundamental level by a field that is more based in the material universe than they are. Since biology is based upon the study of actual things it gets increased legitimacy from most people. Being able to say “well look at it yourself” and handing them the microscope is rather more convincing than “here read this 1200 page tome of made up words and shaky predictions”.

    For myself, I feel both these problems acutely, and feel that it might even be necessary to take part time degree’s in at least one of these areas or at least become more strongly proficient in math to grow as a person and better inform my own understanding. Ultimately, the social sciences and humanities must take into account biology to be truly complete, because its not going away.

    • derek says

      Physics deals with probabilities and extremely unpredictable systems. They have come up with frameworks of thought and practice that keep a lid on our tendency to come to the wrong conclusion.

      The Higgs boson experiment was a statistical analysis of sensor readings. They know that if you take 100 readings 5 will tell you what you want, no matter what it is you want. So they took many million readings.

      If social science applied the same rigor to their analysis then there would be no need of envy.

      • One of the other strengths of the “hard sciences” compared to the social sciences is that in the hard sciences not only are we not discouraged to question the findings of those before us, but we are actually encouraged to do so. Questioning allows us to refine our understanding. The social sciences seem far less willing to question their predecessors. Of course this could be a result of my own bias in regards to the majority of social “science”.

    • But I hope, MF, that the humanities, sociologists and others listen at least at the physical anthropologists, biologists at heart. Though, I understand that even biological evolutionists such as Lewontin and Gould simply consider the concept of race(genotype) as having no significance at all, see the last reactions of thread Noah Carl.

    • gabrielle sinclair says

      I think statistics and evolutionary biology are likely to be most useful for you

  24. ClearBlue says

    Progressives rely on the blank slate to support the argument for requiring the proper, representative proportions (by sex, race, whatever) in all areas of human activity. E.g., we will not have achieved a just and moral society until we have the correct proportion of females in the population of violent criminals. According to what I’ve take to calling the proportionalists, no one is “just born that way.”

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      @ClearBlue

      Your suggestion that “Progressives rely on the blank slate ……..in all areas of human activity…” has been tested recently and found to be false. In fact, the opposite is true:

      “…….Key findings are (1) genetic attributions** are actually more likely to be made by liberals, not conservatives; (2) genetic attributions are associated with higher, not lower, levels of tolerance of vulnerable individuals; and (3) genetic attributions do not correlate with unseemly racial attitudes….”

      **’Genetic attributions’ refers to the belief that certain human behaviors [such as homosexuality, mental illness and drug addiction] are due more to innate biological factors than to personal moral or lifestyle choices.

      Link: https://www.gwern.net/docs/genetics/heritable/2018-schneider.pdf

      • @jack,
        A single study doesn’t falsify anything. Further, I notice the examples of genetic attributions is limited to identities that progressives are sympathetic to, however, how many of those same progressives are willing to accept that there is a genetic component to intelligence? And that this may cause a difference in mean intelligence between differing ethnic groups? Or that transgenderism may be a mental illness (this doesn’t mean it is a negative thing)? Or that there is a difference between male and female brains which could explain differences in preference, aptitudes and career choices/satisfaction? I could list many more examples. There also is a lot of judgement words in the study you quoted, which gives me pause. Scientist don’t make judgements. Good and bad cannot be empirically measured.
        And why only certain human behavior? What constitutes a behavior that can be attributed to genetics as opposed to one which cannot be (though I would argue genetics influences all behavior to some degree)?

      • I would go further that their methodology is extremely problematic (it is self reported data and it appears the authors allowed their own personal bias to color their inferences). They offer numbers on correlation only for conservatives and Republicans (self identification) but do not offer the same data for liberal/Democrats. We are unable to contrast the two. Nor do the authors provide any evidence that there is a significant difference between consrvatives and liberals. In fact they infer it but provide no data. Their M&M is attrocious, cursory and mixed in with their results and discussion. They also fail to define how they rate tolerance, and why they chose categories such as affirmative action as a measurement of tolerance. They do not define the categories they used. They do not provide the equations they utilized, or the models they used to drive their correlation. Nor do they explain how correlation is related to tolerance. In fact this is just a shitty study that seems designed to reach a certain conclusion.

      • And they start out with the premise of conservatives are intolerant and racist (they actually use the phrase conservative, intolerant and racist multiple times, and yes once was a referenced statement, prior to offering any data). This demonstrates that it is doubtful the authors entered into this with an open mind. Is this what passes muster in the social science? Was this peer reviewed?

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @Jeffrey

          The Journal of Politics is an 80-year-old, peer-reviewed journal published by UChicago Press.

          The paper’s methods are unfortunately behind a paywall, but they used a YouGov database and asked participants to do the following.

          Breakdown each of the following traits into the fractions that are due to:
          ====================================================
          genetic factors (0-100%)
          social environment (0-100%)
          personal choice/free will (0-100%)

          Traits [percentages required to add to 100]:
          ============================
          Handedness (being left or right handed)
          Height
          Being obese
          Having an eating disorder
          Being anxious or neurotic
          Being addicted to drugs
          Being mentally disabled
          Intelligence
          Athletic ability
          An aptitude for language
          Being extraverted
          Conscientiousness
          Being open to new experiences
          Being homosexual
          Having a criminal record
          Being tolerant of those who are different
          Being politically conservative/liberal
          Being Deeply Religious

          You can see that they added relatively noncontroversial traits like height and handedness as controls. Rather than use self-reported political leaning of each participant [ranging from very liberal to very conservative], they asked them questions on ‘hot-button’ issues–abortion rights, greater restrictions on immigration, lower taxes, small government, increasing welfare spending and capital punishment–and used the responses to infer political leaning.

          You assume that liberal responses are not included, but that is a misunderstanding. “Responses were re-coded so that higher values represented more conservative issue attitudes,” which is an arbitrary decision by the authors. In other words, ideology ranged from very conservative to not-at-all conservative [which is another way of saying very liberal].

          • The data on liberals wasn’t reported in the two data sets they presented is what I said. I didn’t assume anything. Look at the tables. And their decision to code it as you describe indicates they were attempting to reach a preordained finding rather then letting the data define the findings. As for the use of the hot button issues that in itself is a whole nother issue that is problematic. This study is not very persuasive based upon the obvious biad and flawed methodology.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Jeffrey

            “……..They offer numbers on correlation only for conservatives and Republicans (self identification) but do not offer the same data for liberal/Democrats. We are unable to contrast the two……”

            I’ll make one last attempt to explain this. If you would just stop shouting ‘liberal bias!!’ and listen for a moment, you might begin to understand.

            The authors chose to code the data on political leaning as DEGREE OF CONSERVATISM, ranging from very conservative to opposite of conservative. That doesn’t mean that only conservatives were analyzed. That is an arbitrary choice of scale, but is needed to convert political views into an ordinal scale.

            An ordinal scale is 1,2,3,4….. etc. So their coding is:

            1………….2……………..3……………4…………..5…………….6…………7
            very liberal………………………………………………………..very conservative

            In other words, higher numbers on the scale indicate higher degree of conservatism. That point was indicated clearly in their article, but you blew right past it.

            None of the correlations would have changed if they had chosen the reverse scale:

            1………….2……………..3……………4…………..5…………….6…………7
            very conservative…………………………………………………….very liberal

            All values from low to high were included in the correlation analysis; none was excluded.

          • I understand the way they coded it, but question the assumptions behind the coding. First, the definition of conservative, based upon the yougov questions, is a caricature. It is completely arbitrary. Additionally, I question the use of affirmative action as a proxy for ranking tolerance. Many people oppose affirmative action while not being racist or intolerant. Third, I realize that they correlated it based upon the scores, and I withdraw my criticism of the failure to report the correlation of the lower end of the scale (though it would be nice to see the analysis ran in reverse, was it a negative correlation?). It is still difficult to draw any really meaningful conclusions based upon how low the correlations were, e.g. under .3 for most of them and all under .35. This is at best a weak positive correlation.
            I wasn’t screaming liberal bias. I pointed out why felt their objectivity was questionable and based upon this I made the inference that their analysis was biased. Their methodology, i.e. their choice of categories and proxies for tolerance, are questionable at best. However they appear to have been selected, in my opinion, to reach a pre-concieved result. Their use of the phrase conservative, intolerant AND racist multiple times in the background section is problematic. If they were not linking these three characteristics together why didn’t they use OR, rather than AND. Even and/or shows more objectivity. Later, in their conclusion they used the phrase compassionate, tolerant, racially enlightened as a contrast. This indicates bias. This indicates that the authors do not consider these traits associated with conservative ideology.

          • I realize affirmative action was only used as one of the proxy. It’s inclusion though is problematic. This was not the only assumption the authors used that makes it appear that they were hostile to people with conservative ideology. You can state I am screaming liberal bias, but the fact remains that they used phrases that indicate they are hostile (or at least view negatively) conservatives.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Jeffrey

            “……it would be nice to see the analysis ran in reverse….”

            The reverse scale that I proposed [7,6……1] is a simple linear transformation of the scale they used, 1,2….7.

            In this instance, the reverse scale y is y=8-x, where x is the scale they did use. Variances are unchanged under a linear transformation, so there is no need to re-do the analysis using the reverse scale.

        • A partial correlation is used when you have three variables and you want to study the relationship between two of them by controlling for the third. In this case the three variables are genetic attributions, ideology and racial tolerance. The authors fixed ideology and ran the correlation of genetic attributions (IV) against racial tolerance (DV). They did this after running the correlation between views on genetic tolerance and ideology. By reversing the analysis they would swap the fixed variable and the independent variable and rerun the regression. This should result in a different correlation and different residual. While the p-value is given, the contrast between the two correlations and the two residuals would allow us to judge just how great the difference is between these. Is it that a liberal with a strong understanding of genetic attirbutee is more tolerant than a conservative with the the same understanding, or is it the understanding of genetic attributes that is the key variable? Or are the correlations, while statistically different, close enough as to be meaningless.

          • Jack B. Nimble says

            @Jeffrey

            Your comment about tolerance is a good one, but I don’t have an opinion on whether tolerance is correlated with the other variables.

            I’m mostly interested in genetic attribution as evidence against the widely held assumption that those on the political left are ‘blank slaters.’ I don’t believe in a blank slate at birth, and evidence is accumulating that genetic attributions are accepted about equally by liberals and conservatives in the US, although there are differences for some politically controversial topics.

            See also ‘Does Biology Justify Ideology? The Politics of Genetic Attribution’ by Elizabeth Suhay and Toby Epstein Jayaratne. Public Opin Q. 2013 Summer; 77(2): 497–521. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4567596/

  25. A riddle for Quillette readers:

    What is the difference between climate change deniers and IQ difference deniers?

    I,m not going to say it, but some background: when I was young, there was kind of reverence for science, statistics and professionalism, so if somebody knew you were a Horticulturist, or a civil engineer, or a chemist, they would shut up with their arguments of this is so and so, as soon as this specialist opened his mouth. This, I realise now, is history and no longer valid, what counts is: what you feel or what you think yourself, as a person. Is this humanism maybe??

  26. Vincent says

    I have not seen this documentary, nor do I really care to, but this review makes some pretty ridiculous assertions. For instance, the attack on Gould’s work is pretty misguided. It’s so common to attack him because of his supposed biases, but he demonstrated throughout his career a willingness to change his mind when the evidence contradicted his beliefs. Also, I don’t see how arguing against his craniometry critiques supports any sound science. There were vast problems with the craniometry beyond the measurements themselves such as the sample the measurements were drawn from.

    (Also, it’s meaningless that women’s brains are, on average, smaller than men’s because their bodies, on average, are smaller than men’s.)

    Another problem with this review is the constant “blank slate” strawman that evolutionary psychologists keep rolling out. Pinker’s book is totally unconvincing not because the blank slate theory is true, but because he’s addressing the silliest of arguments against his theories rather valid ones. Lewontin, for example, doesn’t argue that we are blank slate, he just argues that you can’t use genetics to psychoanalyze people. Too much of our behavior comes from culture and how we are raised and what we are taught.

    Finally, the concluding assertion that opponents of evolutionary psychology are anti-science is laughable. Evolutionary psychology isn’t science because none of its theories are falsifiable and therefore unable to be put to the test via the scientific method. At best, it’s a philosophy. The piece questions the motives of those who criticize this line of thinking, ironically accusing them of the naturalistic and moralistic fallacies, while being wilfully blind to their own biases. Why the defence of IQ? Why the defense of craniometry? These aren’t measurements that are of any relevance to science.

    • Why do you state that these measurements aren’t relevant to science? How are they not relevant? Are they measurable ? Yes they are by your own admission. Are they repeatable? It appears so. Do they provide an empirical understanding of a natural phenomana? They very well may. So it appears that they meet the definition of science and not philosophy. Even if craniometry measurements aren’t shown to be different doesn’t make this not science. Even a negative finding is still a valuable finding. In fact negative findings may be the most valuable findings, however they tend not to make splashes so are less likely to be pinlished. This is especially true in the journals of social sciences.

    • DuppyConqueror says

      “constant “blank slate” strawman”
      “he’s addressing the silliest of arguments”
      “Too much of our behavior comes from culture”
      “Evolutionary psychology isn’t science because none of its theories are falsifiable and therefore unable to be put to the test via the scientific method.”

      My theory is you’ve had those memes plugged into your brain for some time now and you’ll keep repeating them forever like the story-telling tribal super-monkey that you are. Ook ook!.

      • I have noticed this recently among the left, and it bears striking resemblance to some of my fellow Christians, who rather then offering critical thought, parrot dogma. They believe the ability of them to memorize tribalist soundbites demonstrates their knowledge and intelligence, rather than the fact that they lack the abiliy for self reflection. They tend to be very confident but cannot explain why they are so confident. Many people seem to not understand that skepticism, especially of what are your most cherished beliefs, is the most important trait that a true intellectual can have.

    • peterschaeffer says

      Vincent,

      “It’s so common to attack him because of his supposed biases, but he demonstrated throughout his career a willingness to change his mind when the evidence contradicted his beliefs.”

      If Gould was so open minded why did he fake his “scientific” studies and lie about other people’s work? It is well established that he lied about Morton’s work. See “Scientists Measure the Accuracy of a Racism Claim” in the New York Times. He also lied about Jewish IQs and the role of IQ testing in the 1920s. He claimed that Professor Goddard (falsely) proved that immigrants had low IQs and this claim was used to promote immigration restrictions.

      The truth is utterly different. In 1927, he (Goddard) supervised a Masters thesis entitled The Intelligence of Jews compared with Non-Jews, which was published by Ohio State University Press. In his introduction, Goddard said that it “proved that Jews are more intelligent than Gentiles and his conclusion was substantiated by the constant persecution of the Jews, for we are seldom jealous of our inferiors”.

      A few notable articles about Gould

      “Study Debunks Stephen Jay Gould’s Claim of Racism on Morton Skulls” (NYT)
      “Study: Stephen Jay Gould, Crusader Against Scientific Bias, Was Guilty of It” (Discover)
      “Fraud in the Imputation of Fraud” (Trivers in Psychology Today)
      “Beware of Stephen J. Gould” (LESSWRONG)

      It should be said that pro-Gould articles can be found. See below.

      “Defending Stephen Jay Gould’s Crusade against Biological Determinism” (Scientific American blog).

      Of course, the author (John Hogan) happens to be an advocate of banning scientific research that might not be PC.

      The accuracy of 19th century crainiometry can indeed be challenged. However, lots of modern studies have been done with brain imaging equipment (MRIs) and the like. Suffice it to say, that modern studies have served to dig a deeper hole for Gould.

      The critique of Lewontin is based on his claim that “race does not exist because you can’t racially classify people based on blood type”. That’s true. Blood type will not suffice (Duffy comes somewhat close). However, this statement has been shot completely full of holes. Indeed, the term “Lewontin’s Fallacy” has been coined for how wrong he was.

      It is also true that many of the claims of evolutionary psychology are untestable. They are also irrelevant to scientific accuracy of the PC fantasy. We can empirically measure differences between people without relying evolutionary psychology. The empirical data is hard and real and very non-PC.

      I should say that the significance of male/female differences in brain size is unknown at this point. It is quite true that women have smaller brains than men (on average). It is also true that men are larger than women (on average). However, within each sex there is no correlation between height, weight, and brain size (see “Sex differences in human brain size and the general meaning of differences in brain size”). The significance of male/female brain size differences is unclear.

      • gabrielle sinclair says

        “It is also true that many of the claims of evolutionary psychology are untestable. ”
        Many but not all?
        While agreeing with the rest of your comment, even though you cannot test and observe the evolution of large mammals in real time, we can observe the results of past evolutionary trials in nature and hypothesise and make predictions which will or will not be validated by further observations. Presumably the same applies to astrophysics?
        With regard to the significance of brain size, crows with their very small brains have been observed using tools they have modified to be more efficient, and dropping pebbles into jars of water to raise the water level so they can reach food floating on the surface. How many low iq humans could manage that?

  27. Pingback: Margaret Sanger would be disappointed – The Other Club

  28. The egregious Van Jones, who —after he publicly signed onto a 9/11 denialist tract that said it was an inside job or a false flag operation, probably staged by Mossad— had to resign in disgrace from the Obama administration where he was some kind of enviro visionary/czar, was also —to my knowledge— the genius behind the wasteful, stupid, and profoundly energetics-ignorant of the Obamazoidal “Cash for Clunkers” fiasco which sank without a ripple. Go Google him and it and weep!

  29. I see that many here are trying to use rational, scientific arguments. Well, rational, scientific arguments have nothing to do with the nature of the present problem. Surviving the present circumstances will require strategical thinking.

  30. @ Chip

    Your comment is the single stupidest and least informed thing I’ve ever read under any Quillette article. That so much wishful thinking and low-information reasoning could be crammed into so few sentences is breathtaking.

    For those who missed it, I’ll quote it in full:

    “There [sic] mere fact that IQ and race and genetics is so feverishly debated among laymen should be the tip off that something other than objective scientific inquiry is going on. In fact, the IQ has become the latter day phrenology, some mystical woo that allows laypeople to construct a hierarchy of their favored or disfavored ethnic groups. The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak, but then to take it a step further and assign an intelligence ranking to entire ethnic groups is stupidity on steroids. A brief glance at history dispels this almost immediately. Various ethnic groups have all had their day in the sun as regional or global hegemons, and all have faded away. Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, Imperial China and Japan, Great Britain…they all enjoyed periods of dominance then fell out of power. None of this can be explained by genetics or IQ.”

    Let’s give this empty, forlorn husk of thinking the attention it so richly deserves, taking it apart sentence by sentence.

    Chip: ““There [sic] mere fact that IQ and race and genetics is so feverishly debated among laymen should be the tip off that something other than objective scientific inquiry is going on.”

    Implicit in the sentence is the notion that there is some kind a sinister motive involved in any interest in the subject, and that this motive is the defining feature of the debate — that it’s what matters most. But that’s not what matters most. What matters most is our actual scientific understanding of the subject. And that’s what is being willfully misrepresented by the left. The left always concentrates on the IMPLICATIONS of scientific investigation – like Chip is doing in the quoted statement – and not the ACTUAL SCIENCE itself because the left is engaged almost exclusively in normative thought and action (i.e., what ought to be), and is by nature uncomfortable with descriptive knowledge (i.e., what actually is) because “what is” is so often in conflict with “what ought to be.”

    Chip: “In fact, the IQ has become the latter day phrenology, some mystical woo that allows laypeople to construct a hierarchy of their favored or disfavored ethnic groups.”

    Human intelligence is one of the most rigorously studied and scientifically robust and reproducible ideas that exists. There are virtually no scientists actually studying the subject who think that IQ is a scientifically invalid concept.

    Our current understanding of intelligence naturally leads to an objective (but certainly not moral) “hierarchy” of groups (to use your words) because the results are so relentlessly consistent after decades of research. This “hierarchy” doesn’t favor any group that I belong to. I’m not an Ashkenazi Jew or a person of northeast Asian ancestry, so I don’t have any bragging rights. I’m not, to use your term, part of one of the most “favored” groups. But this doesn’t bother me the slightest. Because I’m comfortable with what IS. I’m under no illusions that the world is a fair or equal place. And, importantly: I’d rather know, than not know. Would you rather be ignorant?

    I’ll add this: Phrenology was pseudo-science, but, interestingly, one particular aspect of it has been established as having scientific validity in study after study (including in the largest ever conducted just published this year), and that’s the relationship between brain size and intelligence. Once height and sex are controlled for, the association between brain size and intelligence is exceedingly strong (and easy to measure), and is barely even argued about anymore among scientists studying human cognition. (Don’t believe me? Then go ahead and read the every study published on the subject in the past fifteen years in peer-reviewed scientific journals.)

    Chip: “The notion that genetics determines intelligence, and that intelligence determines positive life outcomes is weak, but then to take it a step further and assign an intelligence ranking to entire ethnic groups is stupidity on steroids.”

    Let’s unpack this spectacularly uniformed sentence one sad little clause at a time.

    The great majority of scientists actually studying human intelligence believe that intelligence has a mostly genetic basis. (And don’t go looking for a political motive in this: In a recent survey, it was found that most of these scientists are left-wing.) Due to accelerating advances in genomics over the past few years, scientists have now identified actual genetic variants associated with intelligence, and an FDA-approved test just became available this year which gives parents the opportunity to test for the intelligence of an unborn child. Three studies in the past 18 months have reached the same finding: By the time a person is firmly in mid-adulthood, about 80 percent of his or her intelligence is attributable to genes (studies indicate the effect of the environment wears off as we move through and out of childhood). Scientists now believe that certain of the “executive functions” of cognition (e.g., working memory) are almost 100 percent hereditable.

    Not only is higher IQ associated with several positive life outcomes, but these associations are among the most replicable findings in all of psychology, often with study effect sizes literally twice those of other “settled” findings in the field. It was this part of IQ research that was the most startling to Sam Harris as he began his reassessment of the subject of race and IQ. Other liberal public intellectuals such as Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt have also remarked how stunning this area of research is, and how it has affected their understanding of IQ. The fact that you would literally state that the opposite is true shows how little you’ve actually studied the subject, or perhaps how nakedly disingenuous or dishonest you are.

    Chip: “Various ethnic groups have all had their day in the sun as regional or global hegemons, and all have faded away. Egypt, Rome, Byzantium, Imperial China and Japan, Great Britain…they all enjoyed periods of dominance then fell out of power. None of this can be explained by genetics or IQ.”

    This statement is so reductive that I shouldn’t even bother with it. But against my better impulses, I’ll indulge your fantasy. With the possible exception of Egypt (the Mediterranean and Levantine racial composition of its rulers is just now beginning to be understood with DNA testing of mummies), all of those national groups probably had mean IQs above the average. But empire building until the modern age has had much less to do with IQ than numerous other factors. In earlier times, IQ would have had more impact on things like the literature and science of a nation than on its ability to wage war. However, in the age of modern warfare, in which technology is the most important factor in determining military strength, a nation’s average IQ will be critically important.

    Despite your ham-handed attempt at historical analysis, it is easy to associate IQ with civilizational achievement. Perhaps the best and most compelling example is Ashkenazi Jews. With average IQ between 110 and 115, they outpace all other groups in intelligence easily. Just as astounding, but perhaps not all that surprising given their average IQ, is the fact that they have been awarded almost one out of every four Nobel Prizes, despite being less than 1 out of every 500 human beings. Let those numbers sink in. Or what about these: The fastest developing economies in human history (i.e., contemporary Singapore, China, and South Korea) belong to nations currently possessing the three highest average IQs in the world. Something which I imagine you would think is pure coincidence.

    • @ A New Radical Centrist

      As much as I admire and agree with your comment (you’re one of the most informed people on this subject who comments in Quillette), I can’t help but think that you probably just wasted a good part of your morning responding to someone who wasn’t worth your time. When I read Chip’s comment earlier, I just rolled my eyes. There’s nothing you can do for people who think they know something about something they actually know next to nothing about. When I run into people like this, I just smile and move on.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Will

        But others might read it. And we have to make our case perfect even for our own eyes.

    • Stennit says

      That was like a college graduate walking into a room and correcting a fourth grader. It wasn’t really a fair fight but I still couldn’t bring myself not to look.

      • Aloysius says

        “That was like a college graduate walking into a room and correcting a fourth grader. It wasn’t really a fair fight but I still couldn’t bring myself to not look.”

        My favorite comment so far this thread.

    • “The single stupidest and least informed thing I’ve ever read”, why so emotional? And so wide spread and long, NRC? What’s wrong with you? More concise and calm, please, this is Quillette!

    • Anonymously Yours says

      I wanted to respond to Chip when I read his comment, but then my natural laziness intervened and instead as usual I moved on to some cute puppy video on Twitter. Thanks for taking the time, A New Radical Centrism! Somebody had to do it.

    • Vincent says

      “There are virtually no scientists actually studying the subject who think that IQ is a scientifically invalid concept.”

      Likewise, there are virtually no astrologers who think that astrology is bunk.

      Why would someone get into the field of psychometrics if they believed it to be premised on a falsehood. This is a poor appeal to authority.

      • @ Vincent

        You wrote, with respect to my stating the majority view on the scientific integrity of IQ: “This is a poor appeal to authority.”

        It’s not an appeal to a single authority (which might be a logical fallacy) but rather an empirically-based statement concerning where the majority opinion lies within the actual relevant field of study — which consists of hundreds of scientists — and, in this case, in that relevant field of study, the clear majority opinion lies with those who see the validity of IQ and the dominant role of genes in intelligence.

        Let’s take an example: When there is controversy about the effects of vaccination, it’s not a logical fallacy to state that the majority opinion within the field of medical science is that vaccination doesn’t cause autism. To the contrary, it’s a very useful piece of information that contains lots of weight.

        Upon whose majority opinion should we then rely on the issue of IQ? Beauticians? Insurance salesmen? I’d suggest we rely upon those who actually have published reproducible peer-reviewed research.

        You wrote: “Why would someone get into the field of psychometrics if they believed it to be premised on a falsehood.”

        Many of them, I would speculate, didn’t start out researching cognition necessarily, but wandered over into that subfield out of interest, with no particular agenda. (Like I wrote earlier, a survey shows that most of these scientists self-identify as left-wing and therefore would have no personal political interest in advancing the current majority views within the field.) Others –- like the two scientists who were interviewed in the recent New York Times article –- started out in the field for ideological reasons as firm blank slatists with the usual politically-motivated suspicions but when ultimately presented with what is by now the overwhelming evidence of the integrity of intelligence testing, its exceptional predictive value, and the genetics of intelligence (even Eric Turkheimer has admitted that genes have won the battle over the environment) have switched sides.

        In science, the battle is over, as Robert Plomin has written, and genes have won.

        • Vincent says

          @ New Radical

          I do agree that an appeal to authority isn’t necessarily fallacious, but I would argue that psychometrics is much more akin to something like astrology than medicine. In the former an appeal to authority is useless. Take your vaccine example: viruses are physical things that can be observed in nature. The effectiveness of a vaccine to prevent a viral infection can be observed. IQ is not like this. It’s an abstract idea that is supposedly measured by one’s ability to solve cognitive puzzles. Do these puzzles really measure anything? If they do, is the measurement meaningful?

          As to the individuals who have “switched sides,” as you mentioned, they sound as if they were fools to begin with if they actually did support the blank slate theory. It would be silly to assert that genes don’t affect one’s neurological composition. But that doesn’t mean that IQ is a useful measurement of one’s cognitive potential.

          Also, I don’t think politics is relevant to the issue, although there are many people who would like them to be for various reasons. Personally, I am leery of the soft sciences in general, and I wish there was a better name for them than “science,” because, as your medical example demonstrates, we equate them to branches of inquiry which provide much more definite answers. There are far too many psychology and sociology majors who waste resources with their pointless tests and surveys.

          • If it can be measured that goes a long way to providing validity. Gravity is a fairly abstract concept (one that is not completely understood). Yes we can see it’s effects and measure it’s effects. We can also see the effects of high IQ, i.e. greater scholastic ability, greater deductive abilities and greater success in intellectual endevours. These are observable outcomes. You believe the test itself is the end all, however the test is simply a tool to measure deductive reasoning and other hallmarks of what has been defined as intellect. Often a concept, even we don’t understand it fully, is used to describe an observed phenomana. Testing is created to measure this and the concept is further defined. For example, Darwin didn’t know the mechanism behind his theoryof evolution. Mendel didn’t understand what mechanism was used to pass on traits. Mendel however provided a mechanism, heritability of traits and dominant and recessive traits, that helped explain Darwin’s theory. Another example is subatomicbparticles. Electrons cannot be seen, however, we have designed tests to measure then and have defined their properties based upon our findings. And long before we could test for them, chemist and physicist had hypothesized their existence based upon observation and calculations.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Vincent

        But there are many people who study the cosmos more broadly, and who have looked at the narrow claims of astrologers and find them to be groundless. Scientists are likely to study the question of human intelligence, and come to conclusions after the fact (rather than before the fact) and conclude that indeed, IQ is a valid concept even if they were not so sure to begin with. Your examples indicate that you have no idea what objective research is.

    • You mention China, which is a pretty good example of how IQ has only a weak to near nonexistent correlation to actual national outcomes.

      In the year 850, Britain was what the American president would call a 3rd world sh*thole country, while China was one of the most technologically sophisticated nations in the world.
      A millennia later, in 1850, the position was reversed- Britain was much more technologically advanced than China.

      What happened? Did the Chinese take stupid pills or something?

      Then, about a century later China was in even worse shape, with the Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution. Again, how did such a high IQ society manage to screw themselves so badly?

      But wait- just a few decades later, China is in its ascendancy, once again the peak of technological development.

      How does IQ explain any of these outcomes?

      • @Chip,

        Your example of China means nothing. It is a straw man you have created. No one stated IQ is the sole cause of success. There are multiple factors as to how and why China and Britain both increased and decreased in power throughout history. These rises and falls of civilization prove nothing nor disprove anything. You are cherry picking data and contorting it to fit your narrative, i.e. bias.

        • Right.
          So its almost like “IQ has only a weak to near nonexistent correlation to actual national outcomes.”

          This is why I call racial based IQ the new phrenology, is because it isn’t science at all.
          Unlike actual science, it can’t explain empirical outcomes, and can’t be replicated to predict future events.

          • There are so many factors involved in how successful a culture is or isn’t, that you’re attempt at using the national outcome as a proxy for IQ is just stupidity. This neither proves nor disproves the idea that IQ is correlated with PERSONAL (not national or cultural) success. Disease, drought, famine, outside invaders, natural resources, natural disasters all of these contribute to the downfall of cultures .Trying to equate intelligence to success or failure of a nation is just pure Idiocracy. It is the Pinnacle of pseuointellectualism. The sad thing is I actually think you believe you are making some salient point rather than being peurile.

          • Ray Andrews says

            Like Jeffrey and Centrist I believe you honestly don’t know that what you are saying is senseless. But it is senseless.

          • peterschaeffer says

            Chip, You do know that “phrenology” appears to be valid science. See my comments below on the Chinese paper.

        • Einstein, in his travelogue of China, also spoke rather racistic about the predisposition of Chinese people, logical, he just expressed what al Westerners, Caucasians, at the time thought, if abroad and looking around at the poor and backward scenes and situation. Would somebody have told him that within 100 years they would send a missile to the moon, he certainly would not have believed it. Anyhow, also the IQs (means) of those Chinese would not have been the 105 that is cited often now of East Asians.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Jeffrey

          Is it possible that he does not understand that IQ could exist *without* being the only possible explanation for anything? IOW if IQ does not explain everything, then it does not exist?

          • I agree IQ exists.
            I’m just not seeing why it is important with regard to ethnic groups.

            Like, what percentage of China’s recent rise is attributable to the mean IQ of their citizens, versus those “other factors”?

            Did the mean IQ of Britons have anything whatsoever to do with their rise or fall?

            Is the mean IQ of immigrants important? Why?

            If the mean IQ of an ethnic group doesn’t have any explanatory or predictive power, then why is it such a powerful idea that its adherents are comparing themselves to Gallieo?

          • Chip,

            It isn’t that it is powerful or not, we simply don’t know and further inquiry is needed. And actually, we dispelled the myth that Galileo was persecuted for science above. That is a complete myth.
            You also don’t understand that there is some evidence that exists that there is a difference in mean IQ between different ethnic groups. You seem to jump to the conclusion that this cannot be true because you have created an arbitrary measurement system (successful civiliazations) as a proxy for this concept. You also seem to mistake tendency (i.e. people with high IQ tend to be more successful) with determinism (people with high IQ will be more successful). No one except you is arguing the latter concept. IQ by itself is of course not predictive (by itself). No one has challenged this statement at all. It definitely is beneficial.

          • @Ray,
            I am not certain what he understands. His posts are fairly sophmoric. They definitely demonstrate someone who has acquired knowledge without understanding that knowledge. I believe he lacks the ability for self reflection necessary for true understanding. And I do not mean this as an insult, but as an observation, based upon the fact he continues to regurgitate the same easily discredited line of debate.

      • There’s about a billion Chinese and only 250 million Americans so even if the average American IQ was higher there’d still fewer geniuses.

        • Who’s talking about geniuses here, Shatterhand, geniuses are the Nobelprice winners, not the engineers behind a missile. And why, why, why is IQ and ethnicity again and again a subject in essays and reactions on Quillette (even myself started , I now see, contaminated??). I think I know it, though!

          • Actually, I would venture, with evidence to support my supposition, that engineers (especially aerospace engineers in your example of designing a rocket) have above average and their fair share of geniuses. Considering the difficulty of understanding, much less applying physics and calculus to solve a problem (overcoming planetary gravity) requires a high level of intellect.

    • peterschaeffer says

      @a_centrism,

      “Phrenology was pseudo-science”

      Perhaps not. See my comments below. Various researchers have been able to detect sexual preference and criminality from faces. The first result is not surprising at all. The PNHT (Pre-Natal Hormone Thesis explanation for homosexuality) strongly suggests that sexual preference should be detectable in adults in various physical ways.

      The second result (the detection of a predilection towards criminality) was astounding to me as well as to the researchers who found the result. They certainly didn’t expect it (as they empathically state). The second result does have a logical physical explanation. However, that doesn’t make the result of the explanation true.

      Note that neither result has been replicated (to the best of my knowledge).

  31. Morgan Foster says

    It wasn’t wasted on me. I can use (steal) some of that when dealing with leftie science deniers in real life. Thanks, ANRC.

  32. Richard says

    A New Radical Centrism (@a_centrism) is spot on, and to deny science and evidence and history is regressive as we are all now being marched backward in time to Paganism…Thanks to Marx and all his terrible ideas.

  33. “Or do they genuinely think that equal rights are contingent on environmental determinism? Not just politically, because it’s easier to persuade people to embrace equal rights if they believe humans are born as blank slates, but logically? Are they the stupid ones?”

    Yes… Wait, is this a trick question?

  34. peterschaeffer says

    “Everybody” “knows” that Phrenology is just pseudo-science. Perhaps not. Take a look at “Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images” (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1611.04135v1.pdf), This result has not been confirmed (to the best of my knowledge). However, it does suggest that we can learn quite a bit by “reading” faces. This result should not surprise anyone familiar with genetics and evolution.

      • peterschaeffer says

        dirk, “Neo-Lombrosoism in the making??” I would go so far as to say maybe. The results have not been independently replicated (to the best of my knowledge). However, an explanation is possible. It has been well know for a long time that physical symmetry is associated with “fitness”. The AI could simply be detecting asymmetry and (perhaps correctly) associating it with crime. Quote from the abstract.

        “Above all, the most important discovery of this research is that criminal and non-criminal face images populate two quite distinctive manifolds. The variation among criminal faces is significantly greater than that of the non-criminal faces. The two manifolds consisting of criminal and non-criminal faces appear to be concentric, with the non-criminal manifold lying in the kernel with a smaller span, exhibiting a law of normality for faces of non-criminals. In other words, the faces of general law-biding public have a greater degree of resemblance compared with the faces of criminals, or criminals have a higher degree of dissimilarity in facial appearance than normal people.”

        • peterschaeffer says

          VH, “You mean, the faces of humans you identify as criminals?”. That’s a bit of an oversimplification. However, the one word answer would be yes. You can read the Chinese AI paper online (it is in English). A crucial point is that this result has not been replicated (to the best of my knowledge).

    • There is a concept in anthropology, ethnocentrism. I believe that our dismissal and ridicule of earlier beliefs is ethnocentric, a belief that we are superior to our ancesy because we have discovered “the truth” and what rubes they were. We portray stone Stone age man as imbeciles but they created agriculture and civilization. We ridicule early medical practioners for the mal air theory and similar thoughts on causation of disease. However, based upon their ability to observe this theory fit with their observations. How many of our treasured theories will be fodder for ridicule by future generations? Science isn’t an endpoint but a continuous journey (unless you are Professor Farnsworth who did solve everything and became very depressed afterwards).

      • peterschaeffer says

        J, “How many of our treasured theories will be fodder for ridicule by future generations?”

        Plenty, no doubt. Let me offer examples. Apparently, the Sapir-Whorf thesis in linguistics was considered to be universally true at one time. Apparently, that is no longer the case. Of course, don’t use me as a source (I have no background in linguistics).

        I have seen claims that the dominant theories of Psychology (Freud, Jung, etc.) are no longer taken as seriously as they once were. Again, don’t use me as a source.

        • I actually believe that most of current social sciences will be among that which is ridiculed. I venture this based on the crisis the social sciences are going through right now. Similarly, I wonder about the validity of some of our medicy sciences for much the same reason.

  35. peterschaeffer says

    I should mention that AI programs have also been able to detect sexual preferences from photos. This has been bitterly criticized by the usual PC types. Supposedly, the PNHT (the Pre-Natal Hormone Thesis) influences sexual preferences (gay vs. straight), but is undetectable in adults. The gay community generally embraces the PNHT (as in “we were born this way”). However, the notion that such a thing could be detected from a photo is ‘unthinkable”. I should say that I think the PNHT is probably more right than wrong. However, the notion that it can’t be detected later seems questionable.

    • Ignacio Andres Cruz says

      Mainstream LGBT-rights orthodoxy has never made consistency, sense, principle over opportunism, or truth a particularly high priority. Back in the realm of reality, currently the fraternal birth order correlation with male homosexuality is one of the most convincing observations in medical statistics.

      This “detecting sexual preferences from photos” business, on the other hand, is old hat. They did it a long time ago with human subjects back when AI was a long way from being up to the task. And either the authors and those hyping the results were dishonest, or they were ridiculously oblivious. People do indeed display a good “gaydar,” but the idea that it was likely their unconscious minds were getting their information from subtle physiological metrics instead of subtle cues of grooming and “gay” facial expressions is preposterous. These silly new results are no different. In fact as I understand it the AI was actually given *social media* profile pictures, as opposed to anything taken with an attempt to control things like choice of lighting, background, poses, etc. One would certainly *expect* that as technology advances, with exposure to mass amounts of social media photos AI would quite easily develop an impressive ability to identify those more likely to be of gay users. It would be quite shocking if it did *not* happen.

      • peterschaeffer says

        IAC, At one time, the mainstream LGB community (note the absence of ‘T’) was pretty clear in embracing the PNHT (as in “we were born this way”). Of course, they were responding to a larger community that tended to view “gayness” as a ‘bad choice’. So the biological explanation made sense from a defensive point of view. That does not make the biological explanation, a priori, true or false. For the record, I lean towards the ‘true’ position.

        These days the larger community is properly cowed and the LGBT crowd may now think they can throw off the ‘bad old days’ of biological determinism.

        Your idea of how these (relatively new) AI results were obtained is wrong. Go read the papers if you don’t believe me. Of course, the authors were aware of the possibility that grooming, facial expressions, background, posses, etc. might provide additional information (and they did). However, the authors went to pains to feed “stripped”information to the AI to determine if sexual orientation could still be determined.

        The answer was yes, and facial geometry was the basis for the AI decision making. This is entirely congruent with the PNHT model.

        Read the actual papers, not the left-wing attacks on them. The Left hates Biology and the rejection of the AI results is just chapter 20,001 in annals of Left Creationism.

  36. Stephanie says

    “They are the progressive equivalent of anti-Vaxxers.”

    I was surprised there was no unnecessary and unsupported jabs at the right in this article, but right at the end, we’re left with this. The counties where diseases like whooping cough have made a resurgence are all solid blue. The anti-science goes deep.

    • It should also be pointed out that many “progressives” also support such luddite views as anti-GMO, the idea that organics are somehow healthier or better for the envioronment, that veganism is more natural, that small doses of hornones used to promote growth or milk production in livestock are “bad” etc. They also are more likely to oppose active forest management to benefit forest health, and managed grazing to support range health.

      • And progressives are more likely to oppose nuclear power while screaming we need to reduce our carbon output.

    • peterschaeffer says

      S, Wow is that true. The anti-Vaxxers are a mixed bag, but many are very left-wing. Traditional conservatives are very pro-vaccination. Predictably, Mississippi has a very high vaccination rate (perhaps the highest in the nation). California is quite low.

      Online reports show that the left is divided on the subject. See “Vaccine Deniers Were Just Dealt A Blow In Court” (http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/06/23/3452130/vaccine-new-york-city-lawsuit/) for a libera/left assault on the anti-vaccine movement. Conversely, on the Supreme Court… “To Justice Sotomayor, Proof That Vaccines Cause Autism Is Just One Lawsuit Away”. Fortunately for the United States, Justice Scalia (and the majority) didn’t agree. Quote

      “In the case, the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz challenged the system for the right to sue in a regular court in front of a jury. While the ruling is a victory for drug companies and anyone else who is grateful that they didn’t get polio or smallpox, Sotomayor’s dissent displays her vaccine paranoia. Although the science says that vaccines do not cause autism — and the originator of that myth has been exposed as a fraud — Sotomayor seems to believe that if only the Bruesewitzes were allowed into the regular court system they might, somehow, somewhere, find a judge and jury to “prove” that vaccines harm children. Sotomayor gave lip service to the science on autism and vaccines …”

      Does that make Sotomayor an anti-science nut. I patiently await agreement from everyone on this point.

      The following reports are interesting, but as always the national and state maps are best.

      Hollywood’s Vaccine Wars: L.A.’s “Entitled” Westsiders Behind City’s Epidemic
      http://necir.org/2014/09/17/hollywoods-vaccine-wars-l-a-s-entitled-westsiders-behind-citys-epidemic/

      Sick privilege: Wealthy anti-vaxxers are driving outbreaks of deadly 19th century diseases
      http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/01/sick-privilege-wealthy-anti-vaxxers-are-driving-outbreaks-of-deadly-19th-century-diseases/

      http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=299910441
      “MCEVERS: Seth Mnookin wrote a book on this stuff, called “The Panic Virus.” We got in touch with him for an interview. He says he asked one California epidemiologist which communities are most affected by these expensive outbreaks.

      SETH MNOOKIN: And he said, sure, we just take out a map and put a pushpin everywhere there’s a Whole Foods, and draw a circle around that area.”

      Retro Report: The Origins of The Anti-Vaccine Movement
      http://www.thetakeaway.org/story/retro-report-origins-anti-vaccine-movement/

      This last one is quite good and it definitely mentions religous objections to vaccines. However, the Whole Foods crowd is not notoriously conservative. Perhaps I am wrong on that one.

      It turns out that the very left-wing Waldorf schools are hotbeds of anti-vaccine insanity. From

      Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Paul A. Offit M.D. (a book)

      “Although Vashon Island is an excellent example of what can happen when parents stop giving pertussis vaccine, it isn’t the only example. On May 10, 2008, an outbreak of whooping cough occurred at the East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante, California. The Waldorf School follows the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, author of Fundamentals of Anthroposophical Medicine. Steiner believes that vaccination “interferes with karmic development and the cycles of reincarnation.” As a result of this philosophy, at least sixteen students, mostly kindergarteners, suffered the disease; virtually all were unvaccinated. When health officials investigated the outbreak—and discovered just how many children were left vulnerable—they did something that rarely occurs in twenty-first-century America. They closed the school until the epidemic subsided.”

      Megan McArdle has a short article on this subject, “A Shocking Chart on Vaccination” (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/10/a-shocking-chart-on-vaccination/247651/). Quote

      “The Free Waldorf School was founded upon the impulse for social change, upon the need to reform society into a community that takes into account the true Being of Humanity. Into the desire for reform were sown the life-giving forces of the teacher’s inner work and Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual insight. The goal of this education was that, through living inner work guided by the insights of Rudolf Steiner, the teachers would develop in the children such power of thought, such depth of feeling, such strength of will that they would emerge from their school years as full members of the Human Community, able to meet and transform the world.”

      Predictably, immunization rates at Waldorf are rock bottom.

  37. jimhaz says

    To be perfectly honest, were I a politician I would use the IQ difference data to make a case for selective immigration. We actually have this anyway as “wealthy” persons can buy their way into obtaining residency.

    Australia has few African people as we once had selective immigration, via the white Australia Policy. We long abandoned that policy and now have a small percentage of African migrants or refugees (mainly Sudanese I think). The crime rate of the first generation raised or born here is about 10 times the norm and this was entirely predictable.

    Elitism is fine, providing it is justified. For instance, universities have declined, seemingly quite badly, due to the loss of discriminatory selection.

    A small population country like Australia could have been leading the way in terms of creating a sustainable future – but no, business wants the bigger market, pollies want a big nation like some kind of big cock, and lefties want to feel the satisfaction of generalised motherhood – and our chance to lead has been lost.

  38. Although there are surely some on the Left who are too stupid to recognize that equal rights are not contingent on the blank slate hypothesis, you are naive to think that there are not some on the Right who are bigots disinterested in the subtleties of your argument.

    • peterschaeffer says

      VH, Sorry but PC and reality don’t play nice. Check the US obesity statistics. NAMs have higher obesity rates than Whites (Asians are much lower). At least in the US, poor children are vastly overnourished. Quote

      “As a group, America’s poor are far from being chronically undernourished. The average consumption of protein, vitamins, and minerals is virtually the same for poor and middle-class children and, in most cases, is well above recommended norms. Poor children actually consume more meat than do higher-income children and have average protein intakes 100 percent above recommended levels. Most poor children today are, in fact, supernourished and grow up to be, on average, one inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II.”

      Not PC. Just true.

  39. johno says

    Evolution happens… we can observe it scientifically. It happens.

    However, there is a catch. Physical evolution, as in changes to the DNA coding sequences only happens during reproduction, when a new DNA strand is formed.

    So, how did the living cell learn how to reproduce, probably the most complex operation it performs? For sure, it couldn’t have evolved that capability, and reproduction definitely involves DNA sequences. Theorizing that DNA based life sprang into existence with the ability to reproduce is stretching the concept of theory to a painful degree.

    For that matter, if one examines how a living cell operates on a molecular level, they can find elements of modern software design. Libraries, lookup tables, data transformations, and a base storage and data representation consisting of two compound pairings (A/G, T/C), always referenced in groups of four… a 16 bit system that runs very slowly on chemical interactions… but improves itself over time. The average DNA strand has around 30k instructions, which is about half the addressable space of a 16 bit number (65535). So there is still room for improvement.

    Software? That’s what the DNA coding sequences are: instructions on what to do if a specific condition is detected. Imagine writing an app that can run for a few billion years, reproduce itself, and improve itself based on changing environmental conditions. And not crash. That’s a very impressive piece of work… our most brilliant minds today couldn’t even come close to reproducing that level of complexity.

    Not saying that this came from what the Judeo/Christian/Islam/Hindu/Buddhist/Shinto/etc… traditions hold, but a complex system like that doesn’t come about by random chance. If it could, we’d see other forms of complex systems that ‘just happened’. But, we don’t. DNA based life stands out as the only physical entity in the known universe that runs counter to entropy: while everything else decays, life grows, reproduces, adapts, and improves itself.

    That doesn’t look like the result of random chance. That looks like it was put together by deliberate action, to achieve a purpose.

    • peterschaeffer says

      johno, Where did you go to school? Codons have three base-pairs, not four. Each base pair is effectively 2 bits (four possibilities). A codon is comprised of three base-pairs, so it has 6 bits (not 16). That allows for 64 possible amino acids of which 20/21 actually exist.

      This is basic biology 101.

    • That doesn’t look like the result of random chance. That looks like it was put together by deliberate action, to achieve a purpose.

      There are billions of planets in the universe and the universe has been around for billions of years. Somewhere, sometime, life was going to happen.

      The chance that you are going to win the lottery is small. The chance that *somebody* is going to win is huge.

      And the winner is going to wonder, why me? I must be so, so special.

  40. I suspect it won’t take long before this attitude filters into fields other than “sociobiology, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, sociogenomics, and so on.” Physics for example. There must be others who have noticed the discriminatory and completely unfair effect gravity has on fat people. Is that not a type of ‘physical determinism?’ If we continue to teach this kind of physical pseudoscience in places of higher learning, it may lead to heinous crimes against humanity?

    I am incensed, as a man, that I cannot have babies. I am wholly appalled that they teach in universities that the reason I can’t have babies is because of ‘biological determinism.’

    What next? How ridiculous do you want to get?

    Surely it won’t take long for the (mostly) young people who are promoting this way of thinking to realize they’ve been had. At that point I envision a lot of lawsuits against educational institutions for capitulating to their inexperienced demands and not standing steadfast in the face of such stupidity. Who is going to pay for their CBT?

    They are in essence engaging in book burning. The precise tactic of those they think they are better than.

    It is time to put young people into their place – that is, back into the role of the inexperienced. You young folks – you’re destroying your own opportunity to learn. Preach less! Ask more questions….

  41. PompousPilot says

    Amazing. Just the comments on Quillette are actually better written, more intelligent, and interesting than most articles I have read from the Washington Post or New York Times recently.

    • peterschaeffer says

      PompousPilot, “Just the comments on Quillette are actually better written, more intelligent, and interesting than most articles I have read from the Washington Post or New York Times recently”

      A low standard.

  42. The argument that there are no races (and no differences based on race) is often made by pointing out that there are no clear, distinct dividing lines between one race and another.

    I am a linguist and wish to present an analogy based on language. It has often been pointed out that if one were to ride a bicycle along the Mediterranean shore from Southern Spain to Northern Italy, the people in each contiguous village would speak a mutually intelligible language. There would be a dialect of Spanish, shading into Catalan, then shading into French, and so on. While this is true, no one would then conclude that there are no languages. Spanish speakers in Malaga cannot comprehend Italian speakers in Genoa.

    Just so, there are no “pure races” and people certainly do mix genes with neighbors and immigrants; however, that does not negate the concept of “populations” (the current PC term in the field) having clusters of shared traits kinked to genes.

    • A telling parallel Wolf, I noted a similar case, known in the agricultural sciences, of local landraces (also rather diverse, and not so sharply limited as modern varieties of crops and cattle), however, as I understand, humanities (even antrhoplogists, for studying that special species Homo sapiens) do not want to listen to biologists and ecologists. Orban closed the humanities sections of some universities for that reason, and, immediately, is scorned for that, but, I think, he has a point there.

  43. Sydney says

    “They are the progressive equivalent of anti-Vaxxers.”

    Wait…what?

    That’s a peculiar, terrible, wide, ad hominem swipe in the dark, at the end of what is an otherwise excellent piece. Also, a jarring non sequitur. Who and what are these worthless “anti-Vaxxers” you attack for no reason at the end of this piece?

    Scientists, clinicians, PhDs, MDs and many other reasonable and thinking people are questioning and critiquing vaccines as we know and experience them currently. It’s not a political thing; it’s a science thing. Reasonable people are asking reasonable questions. Is that wrong? Is it wrong to dig into a problem and ask questions, Quillette? Should we not do that?

    If we are mocked into silence, then I guess vaccines are less science for YOU than they are deeply held religion or belief system, yes? Is this like drawing Mohammed? We simply mustn’t take a dive into vaccines, their evidence, their manufacture, their ingredients, their schedules, the timing of illness and death in babies and children…? Or the fact that there are more and more each year…? No? We shouldn’t ask about that? Or about the history and science of disease, virus, microbes, bacteria, and humans? Or we shouldn’t be asking how the vaccine science of 100 years ago (and upon which our vaccines are still practiced) compares to what we understand about biology and immunology in 2018, and about how vaccine science should now be approached? And if we ask any of these questions, we should expect to be roasted by writers, editors, and stand-up comics.

    Reasonable people question vaccine orthodoxy and discover that the pushback from merely asking questions, inspecting facts, and supposing issues is wildly disproportionate and emotional. Hmm…asking questions and being attacked merely for doing that. Sound familiar? Because perhaps it’s the very reason why Quillette was founded; to give people a place where they can be intellectually open, honest, and courageous. Because there are so many places where we aren’t allowed to ask certain questions or hold certain debates. Hmm…doesn’t seem like you’re being very courageous or intelligent here.

    Asking questions about vaccines is genuinely one of the last taboos, and one of the last subjects where people are given license to mock and disparage with total impunity. Shouldn’t Quillette be heading the charge to identify this as groupthink and ask what makes vaccines a taboo subject? Instead, you’re just another villager [read: mainstream media outlet] yelling in the town square and shaking a pitchfork.

    It was a great piece…too bad about the ending!

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  45. Dr Peter Sinclair MD says

    You guys are wafting on ad infinitum about genetic and environmental determining factors and their influence, blah-dih blah blah… but you ignore the most pertinent element which is THE ASTROLOGICAL influence. The Virgo in me is outraged that you have all missed such an apropos element of human developmental impact, smh… X( #stopobfuscatingdatroof #makeastrologygreatagain

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