Biology, Genetics, recent, Recommended, Social Science

Selective Blank Slatism and Ideologically Motivated Misunderstandings

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. ~John B. Watson

Blank slatism is the view, exemplified here with John B. Watson’s characteristic arrogance, that human nature is highly flexible and largely determined by environmental forces. Because almost all the available evidence suggests that blank slatism is incorrect, many scholars are puzzled that versions of this philosophy appear to remain popular in certain university departments and among the intelligentsia more broadly. Some critics of progressivism, such as the economist Thomas Sowell, have contended that political progressives are particularly likely to hold blank slate beliefs as a result of their tendency to attribute many social disparities to environmental and social causes and to de-emphasize genetic ones.

Others—usually those favorably inclined to progressivism, like the Guardian‘s Ed Rooksby—have argued that this is a misrepresentation, a lazy straw man argument, and that, properly understood, most progressives are not blank slatists at all. Rather, they are simply sensitive to the effects of social forces and injustices, and this sensitivity is often mischaracterized by ideological opponents as naive environmentalism. Many of these people argue that, in fact, progressives are more likely than conservatives to accept that genetics contribute to human behavior. After all, conservatives still appear reluctant to believe that sexuality is caused by genes or constrained by one’s nature. Rather, they believe it is a choice, an exercise of a person’s free will. Similarly, they are equally unlikely to attribute social failure to a person’s genes, but instead blame a person’s attitudes to work and commitment, contending that the destitute are often lazy and undisciplined.

Those who defend progressivism are partially correct; progressives aren’t blank slatists in general and indeed they appear more likely than conservatives to accept genetic causes for many human behaviors and life outcomes. However, progressives are selective or ideological blank slatists. That is, they generally accept that there is some kind of nature that constrains individuals. Richard Dawkins could never be Lebron James nor vice versa, no matter their respective diets, upbringings, or effort exerted.

However, they are selectively skeptical that an appeal to this nature (genetics) can explain certain kinds of differences between humans, between sexes, and among ethnic populations. Specifically, they are skeptical of genetic explanations if they appear to suggest that social inequalities are “natural” or caused by genetic differences between groups, and especially when those differences appear to favor the higher status group (for instance, that men are better than women at something on average because of genetic differences between men and women).

The notion that progressives are selective blank slatists is congruent with theory, observational evidence, and systematic survey evidence.

Selective Blank Slatism: Theory and Evidence

One of the chief psychological differences between conservatives and progressives is that progressives are more averse to inequality. Both, of course, see disparities in the world—they see that a professor has more status than a construction worker or that a lawyer makes more money than a social worker and so on. But progressives find these disparities more disconcerting.

Where such disparities exist, there are at least two possible explanations. The first is that genes have endowed certain individuals and groups with natures that lead to better life outcomes than others (for instance, some have higher intelligence, superior athletic ability, greater musical talent, exceptional beauty, and captivating charisma). The second is that all individuals and groups are born genetically equal in their capacities to develop desirable traits and abilities, but then these natural equalities are distorted by environmental and social forces, which thwart certain individuals and groups trying to achieve their full potential.

Those who particularly abhor inequality appear to prefer the latter explanation for two reasons. First, it suggests that groups and individuals are naturally equal. Second, it suggests that equality in life outcomes can be achieved in a genuinely free and meritocratic society. The pressing political project at hand, then, is to create such a society. Accepting the first explanation (that individuals and groups naturally differ) is morally unpleasant for progressives simply because it violates their preference for equality; but it is also unpleasant because it means that society can only make individuals and groups equal by violating meritocratic principles with interventionist policies that favor certain groups.

The view that most humans and all groups are basically equal is a kind of cosmic egalitarianism that suggests that the universe is just and fair, but that people are not. This view ineluctably leads to selective blank slatism because if humans are, in fact, naturally equal, then the only thing that could explain social disparities are environmental forces.

So, selective blank slatism is theoretically consistent with progressives’ psychological inclinations and preferences. It also conforms to informal inferences we can draw from what we see in the world. For example, when James Damore’s “Google memo” was released, progressives immediately assailed him, accusing him of perpetuating sexism in the tech industry. Despite how scurrilous many of the attacks on Damore were, his actual memo was a generally judicious and cautious document. He simply asserted that some of Google’s diversity policies were unfair and likely doomed to failure because they failed to consider biological (read, natural or genetically caused) differences between men and women.

The consternation and outrage the memo provoked among progressives is readily explicable if we accept that progressives are cosmic egalitarians. Women are under-represented in the tech industry and, because a cosmic egalitarian cannot countenance genetic differences between men and women, this disparity must necessarily be attributed to sexism. Furthermore, anyone who claims otherwise is wilfully defending an intolerable status quo.

We now have strong, systematic evidence that supports the theory and the informal observations that progressives are cosmic egalitarians and selective blank slatists. We collected survey data from 3,274 people. We first asked traditional demographic questions, including political ideology on a 7-point scale (from 1 = very conservative to 7 = very liberal), and then asked many questions about sex and ethnic differences and the causes of social disparities. For analytical purposes, we divided participants into extreme conservatives (those who answered 1 on political ideology), conservatives (answered 2-3), moderates (answered 4), liberals (answered 5-6), and progressives (answered 7). It’s important to note that our scale did not use the label “progressive.” The term is ours to describe extreme liberals. Overall, 488 participants, or roughly 15 percent, were progressives as we defined it. Although we asked a variety of questions, we will only report seven of the most directly germane here (curious readers can examine this, which reports all of the data).

First, consistent with selective blank slatism, progressives more than others reported that men and women have equal abilities on all tasks. (Questions were on a 7-point scale, from 1 = do not agree at all to 7 = agree completely.)

And they also reported that all ethnic groups have equal abilities on all tasks more than others.

Consistent with these answers, they also reported that differences between the sexes (and between ethnic groups) were more likely to be caused by discrimination than others did. (Notice that the question/statement claims that the only reason there are differences is because of sexism. A full 130 progressives, or 26 percent, endorsed this at 7, indicating that they agree completely.)










Predictably, they also reported more than other groups that people use science to justify existing inequalities. These findings are consistent with progressives’ response to the Damore Google memo. Progressives are likely to impute nefarious motives to anyone who asserts that men and women differ biologically—even when such assertions are supported by science.


Progressives do accept a genetically caused human nature; but, consistent with the claims of their critics, they accept this much less when it is ideologically inconvenient. In other words, progressives are selective or ideological blank slatists. They accept genetic explanations for things such as homosexuality, transsexuality, obesity, addiction, and a variety of mental illnesses, but not for sex or group differences, and especially not when those sex or group differences could explain (and thus potentially justify) existing inequalities between sexes and groups.

Our data, although limited, provide compelling support for the contention that progressives are selective blank slatists. Progressives agreed more strongly than any other ideological group with statements that convey blank slate attitudes about sex and ethnic differences (precisely the kind of blank slatism a priori theory would predict progressives would hold). Most supportive and perhaps most surprising, a full 26 percent of progressives fully endorsed the statement that “the only reason there are sex differences is because society is sexist,” which is, to put it mildly, a wildly implausible claim.

It should not surprise us that progressives have an ideologically saturated view of human nature. On all sides, concerns about human nature are intense and passionate because today’s competing ideologies are premised on different conceptions of human variation and its relation to the ideal social order. With so much at stake, few are capable of approaching the evidence with an open mind. Conservatives too, as noted in the introduction, are almost certainly selective blank slatists. They appear, for example, to be more skeptical that mental illnesses, drug addiction, and sexual orientation are caused by genetics. And although conservatives do appear to accept a more constrained view of humans than do progressives, they often argue that all (or almost all) people, if they just work hard, can succeed. Furthermore, they often blame social pathologies exclusively on cultural deficits and decadence.

So, it is unlikely that either the Left or the Right has a monopoly on bias; and it is unlikely that either is absolutely correct about human nature (although, it is possible that one is more correct than the other). If we begin to understand these biases and the errors into which they lead us, then we can begin to adjust for them. We can, as it were, correct our distorted vision with the spectacles of self-conscious and disciplined reflection. The first step might be to ask ourselves a simple question: How likely is it that what we want to be true of human nature is true of human nature? In other words, if all of the “facts” about humans conform to our desires then that is strong evidence not that we are lucky, but that we are wrong.


Bo Winegard is an essayist and an assistant professor at Marietta College. You can follow him on Twitter @EPoe187

Cory Clark is an assistant professor of psychology at Durham university who studies moral psychology and free will. You can follow her on Twitter @ImHardcory


  1. John Lammi PhD, psychologist says

    “Women are under-represented in the tech industry”; I would say that the truth value of this statement depends entirely on a theological/teleological assumption/dogma that females should be a certain percentage of tech workers.
    As a gay male it has always seemed to me that the “conservatives’ ” claim about “choice” and sexual orientation referred to actions not “orientation”.

    • David of Kirkland says

      The genetics that creates a desire for the opposite sex, or for the same sex, or for no sex, or for both, suggests perhaps that this is a human choice based on your preferences which are likely both genetic, but highly environmental. Or do we suppose that genetics plays roles in whether you are vegan or a meat eater? Or whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction. Or whether you take recreational drugs or not. Even other species have shown that under certain conditions, they’ll “switch sides” when it comes to sex.

      • Johnny Appleseed says

        I think the available evidence thus far points to fetal hormone exposure in the womb being the main cause of sexual orientation. So that’s certainly biological but not necessarily the same as genetic. Of course there very well may be genes involved as well I just dont think we’ve been able to specifucally identify that nearly as well as fetal hormone exposure.

        • peterschaeffer says

          JA, I think you are more right than wrong. However, twin studies suggest a genetic component as well. Sexual orientation is probably a complex mixture of genetic, uterine, and environmental (cultural) factors. Overall, I think the gay community is mostly right in claiming ‘we were born this way’. However, the word LUGS has been around for a while. That suggests that environmental (cultural) factors are also an influence.

    • Johnny Appleseed says

      Among modern westerm conservatives it’s more about actions than orientation, but back in the day (and still to this day in parts of the middle east) there were a lot of people who didnt believe gays were biologically led to that orientation. Still to this day some people claim that it’s an environmental factor like being sexually abused by a man as a child that causes people to be gay opposed to biological factors.

      With that being said these days a large chunk of western conservarives are much more libertarian leaning and don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with being gay.

  2. Ray Andrews says

    Thanks for a very balanced article. Yeah, both sides can be selective.

    “they often argue that all (or almost all) people, if they just work hard, can succeed”

    Perhaps a key difference is that conservatives are less fatalistic and more likely to believe in free will and individual effort. Addiction runs deep in my family, but whereas my progressive brother throws up his hands and says that he can’t help being an alcoholic and drug user, conservative me prefers to say that, given that the deck is stacked against me, I’m just going to have to be that much more careful watching how much I drink and that’s too damn bad, but that’s the way it is. Deal with it.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Free will and effort (effort is just an aspect of free will) are important, but so is chance. Where were you born? To what sort of parents/family? Rich/poor? Healthy parents/family or sickly ones? Prefers sports to education or the other way around? Hit by a car or not?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @David of Kirkland

        “but so is chance”

        Of course. But victimhood culture encourages helplessness whereas the more conservative culture of self-respect at least gives you the internal tools to have a fighting chance to improve your situation in spite of whatever lousy cards you were dealt. It isn’t that there are no victims, it is that victimhood culture is bad for victims because it cripples them. Empowerment is the opposite of victimhood.

        • asdf says

          It doesn’t encourage helplessness. It says you can get what you want if you form a violent group and take it from someone else who has it coming. That’s…a certain kind of empowerment. Whether its “good” is a different story.

          • Ray Andrews says


            Good point. One end of the mob mostly whines at whitey, telling him how horrible he is, yet expecting him to give them what they want to comfort them in their oppression. The other end of the mob takes more vigorous measures to throw off their chains. But the professional victimologist prefers and encourages the former, since that’s where the money is.

        • Paul Burrows says

          But victimhood culture is very good for the liberals and progressives (using the author’s schema) as it provides the liberals with a basis for claiming more resources from society (which they manage), and it provides the progressives with a reason for radical societal reorganization (which they will control).

      • peterschaeffer says

        DOK, Having rich parents is certainly nicer than not having rich parents. How much difference it makes is less clear. Adoption studies don’t show much of an effect (but not zero). See “What Happens When We Randomly Assign Children to Families?” by Bruce Sacerdote. See also “The Inheritance of Education” and “Nature, Nurture and Income” (both by Alex Tabarrok).

        • Ted says

          I doubt Sacerdote would use the words “not much”. He compared children adopted into two kinds of families: those whose parents had no college education and more than four children and those with college educations and fewer than three children. Mr. Sacerdote found that the adoptees in the latter group were 16 percentage points more likely to complete college themselves.

    • MMS says

      @Ray – Your approach to your circumstance is to be admired.

    • E. Olson says

      Good comment Ray. The only white male privilege is the fact that nobody ever says you are a victim and consequently don’t have to take personal responsibility for your life outcome.

    • Matt says

      If I were to cleave the difference between progressives and conservatives, it comes down to the role of government and other institutions to legislate/enforce equality of outcome. Progressives push for top down rules in this area. They want social and ideological uniformity – with the caveat that it’s only where they see advantage for their selected groups. So there have been few calls to force women into the US Military draft requirements.

      Interestingly, Conservatives also like top down rules, but around issues of enforcing morality. So anti-abortion laws are born.

      • Peter from Oz says


        As far as I am aware, abortion has until only relatively recently been regarded as a heinous sin in Western society. The laws against abortion were thus not enacted by conservatives to enforce morality, but were (like the laws against murder, assault and other crimes) based on the common morality of society.
        Once the morality of society changed so that abortion is not seen as immoral, then attempts to make abortion harder are more like enforcing morality. But then so are the laws pushed by the left in relation to things like discrimination and equality.
        Despite the arguments put by both sides you cannot really argue that morality has no place in law: the qustion is which morality.
        It is interesting that when it comes to law the left would never admit that their morality is an issue in their support of laws such as anti-discrimination acts, etc. But when they strive to prevent others from saying anything that is ”racist” or ”sexist” they argue from the position that such speech is immoral. In other words they refuse to believe that the view of the anti-racist and feminist activists is a politcal one.

    • ccscientist says

      The thing about free will is that you have to act as if it exists to avoid simply being blown about by events. Knowledge, as you note, Ray, is helpful.

    • Andy Espersen says

      Yes, a great article – and balanced. We read that 15% were “progressives”. We weren’t told the percentages of the other 85%. But can we then not assume that there is a bell-curve where the bulk of the 3,274 participants are moderates and in the middle?

      And is all this then really much of a problem?

      • HotWok says

        Andy, it is definitely a problem if that 15% leads the democratic party and teaches at universities in disproportionate numbers.

    • L Batson says

      Ray Andrews, I found that same quote interesting. What does the conservative mean by succeed? It seems that many on the left believe full-stop in the caricature of the greedy, win-at-all-costs conservative. That is simply not reality. By definition, a conservative defines success based on things that fall outside of the caricature. Hard work, in and of itself, is an example of a success. When you consider that humans have the ability to convince themselves in various ways to give in to natural tendencies that are selfish and destructive to the self as well as the family and community, sacrificing time and effort to work hard is a successful victory over those tendencies. Anyone that works hard can be a success. That doesn’t translate into “anyone that works hard can be rich and powerful”. Funny though, that resources and power are what the left typically considers measures of success.

  3. asdf says

    People want to rise in status.

    Their natural talents will only take them so far in a given system.

    So they want to change that system so they rise further in status.

    Some changes to the system that raise their status can raise everyones status, or at least do more good then harm.

    But some changes to the system are zero or even negative sum (for them to rise in status, others must fall even more).

    On top of that people mainly get interested in politics because they want to change the system (those OK with the status quo are never that interested in politics). So each side will have some narrative of why current system is what it is and what should and shouldn’t change about it.

    Generally, it seems like progressives are pushing narratives that are on the “more harmful” side of things, and one reason they try to silence people is to be able to ram it through anyway for their own benefit.

    Much like say the Southern Planter Class wanted to ram its way of life through regardless of who had to pay the price (and not just the blacks, things like the Mexican American war and Fugitive Slave Act were attempts to exploit northern whites to their benefit as well).

    • Peter from Oz says

      You are correct. It is all about jostling for position. I would venture that a lot of people invent false reasons as to why they are hard done by, just so they can get power or status for themselves. Others may become activists not so much for the good they do for the members of their group but for the meaning and status their activism gives them.
      The few activists I have met are usually incredibly stupid, but rat cunning. They bang on about one thing incessantly and brook no dissent. This often allows them to get what they want as reasonable people appease them just to get peace and quiet.

  4. Alexander says

    A good article but I think one of the big mistakes is conflating racial and sex differences. I speak from a intuitive perspective but I’d say that racial differences can and, eventually, will be overcome, and I think this is a good, desirable thing. Cultural differences probably will remain, but the nurture aspect of those is quite obvious. Sex differences is a whole other thing. I find it plain stupid to suggest that men and women on average have the same abilities and interests. Of course, a big part of what a “man” or a “woman” is, is culturally determined and “nurtured” but this is something men and women have been creating hand in hand and not being antagonists as many “progressives” suggest. Many of us just love our differences and love each other not dispite, but precisely for our differences, may they been congenital or nurtured.

    • David of Kirkland says

      Most modern tasks cannot be genetic. Running, lifting, squatting, gathering, hunting, etc. are not part of daily life for most modern people. What’s the genetics for operating a crane? A train? A computer? Giving medical care? Giving legal advice? Serving food or coffee or alcohol? Being elected to office? Shooting a gun or launching a missile? Reading a book? Modern life cares little for biological humanity (genetics).

      • Somewoman says

        David, your statements are very much false. Genetics has a huge influence on all sorts of complex behavior. For crime, there are genetic factors that mediate impulse control, aggression and anti social personality traits and poor empathy skills. For being a doctor, intelligence is mostly heritable.

        You should do research on adoption studies to see what a staggering amount of people’s behavior and personalities is heavily genetically influenced.

      • peterschaeffer says


        “What’s the genetics for operating a crane? A train? A computer? Giving medical care?”

        Several points need to be made here. First, genetics appears to impose serious limitations to what people can achieve (or not). Only a fraction of the population can make into medical school. Organic Chemistry (a typical pre-med. requirement) is just hard.

        Second, genetics appears to profoundly influence how interested people are in various jobs. The male/female difference in interests is ‘very large’. There is strong evidence that it is also genetic.

        Women could certainly operate a crane these days (the motor does the real work). However, how many of them want too?

      • NWade says

        Evidence shows your comment to be false.

    • Somewoman says

      Generally the data contradicts your belief that racial differences are easier to overcome. I think a lot of people come with a bias that stems from traditionalism and religion in which racial differences are not important at all and gender differences are a major bedrock of how people natures are.

      But copious data contradicts this claim. When it comes to most tasks and cognitive skills needed to succeed in modern society, differences between men and women are utterly dwarfed by differences between races.

      The disparity in iq, financial responsibility (by measures such as credit score), Scholastic competency measures etc. all differ far more between races than genders. Men and women within a race are actually much more aligned in how they make long term decisions than whites and blacks for example.

      Differences in gender are bigger for things that don’t matter much in modern society like athletic prowess.

  5. Farris says

    Hypothetically if there is a genetic rank for instance:
    5.Bottom percentile
    The first question that comes to mind is what is the task at hand? In other words some may be superior at tasks that are now obsolete and thus find themselves in the subpar to bottom quintile. Similarly, some may be superior at some tasks but only average at others.

    Blank slate denies that some may be genetically suited to some or most tasks than others. This is inconsistent with observations.

    However success can not be said to be genetically predetermined as also observed, some chose to squander the gifts they may have been given.

    To say that all are born equal, is simply absurd. However that does not mean all should not be seen as equal in the eyes of the law.

    So the law can enforce equality of treatment but attempting to enforce equality of outcomes is simply a more noble form of discrimination that makes a mockery of equality under the law.

    Once the law has guaranteed equality of opportunity, it’s job is done. The law can provide redress when discrimination because of status is proven but it can not fairly or indiscriminately enforce equality of outcomes. Now this may not be palatable to progressives. For this reason progressives resort to ranking groups from those most in need to the least in need. This pits groups against individuals. An individual least in need may have done nothing to contribute to the woes of those most in need. Hence the notion of privilege is created to justify harming an individual to rectify need perceived needs of a group.

    To proclaim that every person of any group is privileged and that every person of another group is disadvantaged once again denies genetic realities and limitations.

    No one is harmed by a society that treats all individuals as equal regardless of the results. However some must be harmed to produce desired results or outcomes.

    It is not the limitations of individuals that need to be addressed but rather the limits of society to equitably confront those limitations.

    • Closed Range says

      Good comment Farris. I also find the main motivator for me against the left today is that I perceive that the fundamental crime (it’s a strong word but it is appropriate) committed by identity politics is to sacrifice the individual on behalf of some arbitrarily chosen set of characteristics defining a group. It reaches an ugly climax when it comes to claiming individuals today owe each other reparations for the crimes of others. It is the most mindbogglingly unjust travesty masquerading as a form of justice. It sickens me.

    • Joana George says

      When should equality of opportunity start? At what age? Why then?

      (I’m not trying to pick a fight, just fishing for input on something that I’m struggling with)

  6. Princess Underlove says

    So progressives are more accepting of genetics when they’re actually relevant and less accepting of genetics when they’re sexist, racist bullshit theories to justify white privilege and the patriarchy, oh the horror! How can progressives hold such backwards views as not supporting racism and sexism?!

    Instead of the endless pseudo-intellectual pathologizing of progressivism that Quillette readers oh so love to circlejerk about, I’ll give you the actual, simpler definition of your dreaded progressivism: it’s about not being an absolute bigoted asshole. If you have problems with not being an asshole, then that says more about you than it does about progressives.

    • KD says

      Yes, with progressives it is always “Who/Whom”.

      Their belief system is not falsifiable.

      A lack of faith in their dogmas is proof that you are a heretic suffering from a list of phobias.

      Because you disagree, it proves you are irrational, and therefore there is never a need to provide a rational justification for progressive claims.

      Holding the whip hand for the modern version of the Inquisition means never having to justify your own position. Some might see the Inquisition as a profoundly reactionary institution, but be assured it is bending the arc of history to Justice.

    • @princess underlove.

      Are you an example addendum to this article? Because you’re wearing the shit out of that fitted shoe.

      • Victoria says

        Classical liberals aren’t blank slatists per se, but their worldview rests on a proposition similarly open to challenge by behavioral genetics.

        The vision of a borderless, market-driven world presupposes that all human populations exhibit similar average behaviors.

        Is this assumption true? Probably not, but are classical liberals willing to gamble Western civilization on the prospect it is true? Yes, as their mindset on immigration shows again and again.

    • Heike says

      Anyone who doesn’t agree with the far left must be a monster. This is something of a hackneyed trope, and yet here it is on full display once again.

      Reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately the far left isn’t reasonable.

      • tarstarkas says

        To err is human. The problem with too many progressives (and a few conservatives) is the inability (or moral cowardice) to admit error. ‘I could be wrong’ is not part of the regular vocabulary. That is why too many hang on to ridiculous or untenable positions way past their expiration date. To admit error means being cast out of the herd of those who won’t. Not being part of an in-crowd or wanting to belong to one gives me the freedom to both admit error or tell castigators to go f**k off.

    • Lydia says


      Progressivism is a lot like Calvinism within the left wing world. It’s a religious philosophy. Look at how you approach it’s definition. You are the arbiter of bigoted assholery. Therefore you get to decide whose ok or not. It’s about thought policing.

      And your religion teaches one is born guilty if born white and male. One cannot escape this guilt. So they must bow to the spiritual gurus who project and define this determined philosophy. There is no escape but to do so or be marginalized. Calvin burns his detractors at the stake. He called them heretics. he also had the tongues cut out of those who publicly criticized him.

      I have absolutely no problem with your type if you want to form your own collective and since sniff each other like the good Puritans you are. Just leave me alone. I know your type well it’s never enough.

      • tarstarkas says

        And furthermore the left wingers also engage in ‘Calvinball’, making up the rules as they go depending on circumstances. Situational ethics, politics, and justice.

    • Doug F says

      Progressives are more accepting of genetics when it supports their narrative. You, for example, do not appear to care at all about what the science says unless it says what you want.

      The question of whether genetics has significant impact on relative skills (such as mathematics) or career choice is extremely relevant to a society when considering what policies it should put in place. If genetics has a significant impact then a measure of equal opportunity = equal outcome will be extremely unjust and waste a lot of money.

    • ccscientist says

      Princess underlove: oh if only being a progressive simply consisted of not being an asshole!! That would be great. But it also apparently means assaulting speakers at campus talks, rioting in black clothing, shooting cops, assaulting members of the Trump administration in public or indeed children wearing MAGA hats, claiming all whites are racist, and other hobbies. In England it means not investigating grooming gangs that raped hundreds of young girls because the perps were middle eastern.
      Not quite merely the absence of bigotry.

  7. KD says

    Author states:

    Conservatives too, as noted in the introduction, are almost certainly selective blank slatists. They appear, for example, to be more skeptical that mental illnesses, drug addiction, and sexual orientation are caused by genetics.

    Evidence please?

    Granted, anyone with intelligence and life experience is skeptical that “sexual orientation” actually exists (especially if they have ever been incarcerated or witnessed the phenomenon of Lesbian Until Graduation), and so perhaps therefore “skeptical” of a genetic cause for the progressive pink unicorn. [Although a “gay gene” probably is doomed from a populations genetics framework, I suppose polygenetic influences that are generally positive may combine in a specific and detrimental manner that inhibits reproductive fitness.] The reality is that most humans are sexual omnivores, and sexual expression is largely driven by social context, social sanctions against taboo sex, and the availability of partners. At the same time, genetics probably play a role.

    I will grant you that there is a certain contingent of Evangelical social conservatives who gush on this “free will” stuff, but they generally run as anti-racist and often anti-sexist as the progs–because the progs are crypto-Calvinists at heart. What is new atheism if not old Protestant Anti-Catholic polemics addressed instead at “Organized Religion”?

    The issue this article does not acknowledge is that English empiricism was based on the idea that knowledge was devised from sense experience, meaning all knowledge is socially produced on a blank slate. It goes back to Locke, Hume, and the Scottish Enlightenment, not Marx. Its a profoundly Anglo-Saxon belief, and genetics is a new, basically 20th Century development, with a disreputable political history. One can say you don’t believe in the blank slate, but your entire cultural inheritance presupposes it, and your entire White Anglo-Saxon post-Protestant prog worldview depends upon it.

    • bo winegard says

      We have data on this, but couldn’t use it because it was from another paper. But, for example, liberals (and progressives) endorse claims about genetics more than conservatives on a number of issues and in general. I think there are some papers that note this as well, but I’m too lazy to look for them right now : )

    • Lydia says

      KD, Excellent comment. Exactly right.

  8. MrJD says

    The progressive argument that conservatives are less receptive to genetic explanations than progressives are because conservatives don’t want to believe that sexuality is genetically determined is a lie.

    Conservatives have not argued that there is no genetic component to sexual preference. They have made the very different argument that acting on preference is an act for which a person is responsible. This is in line with the arguments they would make about those predisposed towards violence, substance abuse, laziness, and other character flaws.

    Different people have different degrees of predisposition to different behaviors. The incredibly dangerous argument that progressives wrapped into the gay agenda was that if a behavior has a genetic component, then that behavior must not have legal or social consequences and must be immune to criticism.

    Society cannot survive under such terms.

    • Bill Haywood says

      Maybe you don’t, but loads of people claim homosexuality is made, not born.

      • KD says

        Homosexuality was made in 1864 in Germany by Karl Heinrich Ulrich, who went on to argue in Munich 1867 to repeal what he viewed as anti-homosexual laws.

        It is one thing to have a behavior, it is another to define your identity in terms of a behavior. It is another to define your collective identity in terms of a genetic component that distinguishes you from other groups.

        Progressives are quick to claim racial classifications are constructed and have no basis in genetics, but their arguments on homosexuality are based on genetic essentialism, that homosexuals are actually a genetically distinct breed from the rest of us. Amusingly, this makes the Progs race realists with respect to homosexuals, while rejecting traditional racial or sex-based classifications. [How can you believe two contradictory things at the same time? Who needs logic when you can accuse people of phobias?]

        Tobacco smokers to some extent have a collective identity, and no doubt there is a genetic component, but no one is calling for the repeal of “anti-smoker” laws. Nor is anyone claiming that tobacco smokers are inherently different based on their genetic makeup, or that discrimination against smokers is tantamount to racism, because smokers are a race of people who smoke, so anti-smoking laws discriminate against this race.

      • MrJD says

        Loads of people argue that it’s both instead of exclusively “born”, and their critics straw-man them as saying that they’re arguing for exclusive “made”.

        Take alcohol affinity as an example. There is certainly alcoholism in Muslim countries, but there’s a lot less of it overall due to Muslim doctrine, and most Muslims will express disdain towards alcohol if asked. This contrasts starkly with alcohol use in other parts of the world.

        Are we to conclude, then, that Arabic people have far less predisposition towards alcoholism than other races? Of course not. The ideology is plainly a factor, and Arabs who aren’t Muslim don’t drink at outlier rates.

        Transgenderism has been shown to be a very peer-influenced phenomenon, appearing with high concentrations in certain high schools. Transgenders have also frequently reneged on their changed orientations, often due to change in setting.

        It makes sense, then that people’s decision to indulge homosexuality is impacted by society’s attitude (promotion?) of the practice. I have no doubt that gays comprise a higher percentage of the Western population today than in generations past because of the changed social treatment of the practice, just as I have no doubt that (like virtually every other behavior) there is a genetic component.

      • ga gamba says

        The political lesbians make that claim as well. Are they conservative or progressive?

  9. Bill Haywood says

    “progressives are selective blank slatists. . . .Progressives do accept a genetically caused human nature; but. . . . they accept this much less when it is ideologically inconvenient.”

    This article seems to assume that blank slate claims are made equal, irregardless of the trait in question. Presumably we should reject blanking on both homosexuality and race.

    But there’s a world of difference in the soundness of the claims. Arguing that with proper encouragement, women could dead lift as much as men, is shakier than saying that African Americans could be as good as whites at quarter backing or philosophy, if not for society.

    So there’s a scientific basis for being selective slatists, as well as ideological.

    Notable: A theme Winegard consistently works into essays is that people should get away from the assumption that racial disparities are always due to society. But this is true only in the ontological sense where you never say never. It is near impossible to test because no experiment can remove the racial environment like we can the Y chromosome. Winegard’s quietly held belief that blacks might have genetic mental disadvantages is vapor. No specific gene variations are identified for comparison, it’s a statistical phantasm. Can’t be ruled out in some cosmic sense, but it’s social poison.

    • asdf says

      It’s social poison to assume that all disparities are caused by non-genetic reasons (oppression, etc), when in actuality they aren’t.

      For one, by accusing people of a crime (oppression) they aren’t committing, you are fostering injustice and malice. Second, you won’t actually be able to figure out how society works or what you should do to make it better (or not make it worse).

    • Doug F says

      No, you are claiming that because some disparities may be harder to quantify accurately that they must not exist. It doesn’t really matter until we start to build policy on the “must not exist” as fact.

      What a reasonable scientist should say is that we need to study the problem in more depth. But the progressives say that it is racist/sexist/…ist to even study the problem.

  10. @Ray
    And someone should clearly define “success” (along with several other concepts in the article).

    One definition of success is doing the best you can with what you have. So, yes, most anyone who works hard, is conscientious, and prudent can succeed.

    You can’t make everyone into Albert Einstein, so the forced-equality alternative is making everyone into Forest Gump.

    It is true, as Jordan Peterson has pointed out, that with an IQ below 85* it is hard to succeed in most tasks,
    but he also tells a story of a severely challenged woman he encountered while working in a Canadian mental health institution whose empathy was astounding. So, she could succeed too.

    *The genetic factors of IQ, of course, are not to be discussed.

    • Kristina says

      Regarding your statement, “You can’t make everyone into Albert Einstein, so the forced-equality alternative is making everyone into Forest Gump,” I highly recommend Kurt Vonnegut’s short story Harrison Bergeron. It has a great opening sentence about equality, and illustrates that equality requires dumbing down, not lifting up.

      • asdf says

        I also recommend the Kurt Vonnegut story “Player Piano” about living in a world where all by the highest IQ are basically made economically obsolete by machines.

        • Kristina says

          I have long been a Vonnegut fan, but somehow Player Piano slipped through the cracks. I recently read it and found it an alarmingly accurate dystopia–the dark side of our obsession with efficiency. It was so prescient how in that society, the “managers and engineers” are the ones celebrated for their “know-how,” which is pretty much what we have now.

  11. Marc Domash says

    The author states:

    The view that most humans and all groups are basically equal is a kind of cosmic egalitarianism that suggests that the universe is just and fair, but that people are not.

    Egalitarianism holds that people should be treated equally, not that the universe is in anyway just and fair. Skinner, another behaviorist, acknowledges in Walden Two (through his alter ego Frazier), that intellectual differences (IQ) will still be normally distributed. That does not mean that the individuals who are on the lower end of the IQ distribution should have lesser economic and social rewards and Walden Two was set up to equalize these rewards without Whether this is possible or not is another question, though it is worth noting that there are still communities today based on Walden Two (Twin Oaks and East Wind being the main ones–they are, to be sure, small).

    • asdf says

      “That does not mean that the individuals who are on the lower end of the IQ distribution should have lesser economic and social rewards”

      Why not?

      I can’t think of a mass human society in history which didn’t have inequality. Merits better than being the kings son. The one big experiment in “too each according to his needs, from each according to his ability” ended in specular failure and mass death across half the globe.

      If you want to ASK people, based on religious, philosophical, or personal appeals, to try to do things for the betterment of those with fewer gifts, go right ahead.

      But it’s never about asking. It’s always devolves into guilt, shame, violence, and force. It does so because such things work, and at the end of the day people do what works, justice be damned.

    • har says

      Do these communities consist of an equally distributed bell curve of humans, or are they concentrated at the high IQ end? I’m guessing they don’t have any double-digit IQs in the whole place – except the illegal aliens they illegally employ to clean the place.

  12. E. Olson says

    Interesting article, but I am troubled by your grouping of respondents based on answers to conservative to liberal scale items given the lack of consistent definitions across time and place. It would be more correct to group them based on responses to Left to Right scales or their preferences for various public policies and political/economic systems.

    Do you actually have any data to support your assertion: “Conservatives too, as noted in the introduction, are almost certainly selective blank slatists. They appear, for example, to be more skeptical that mental illnesses, drug addiction, and sexual orientation are caused by genetics. And although conservatives do appear to accept a more constrained view of humans than do progressives, they often argue that all (or almost all) people, if they just work hard, can succeed. Furthermore, they often blame social pathologies exclusively on cultural deficits and decadence.”

    I have my doubts this is true, particularly with regards to mental illness and addiction, since this can easily be observed as running in families of different socio-economic status. On the other hand, a genetic cause for sexual orientation has historically been problematic to accept in large part because it was difficult to see how the “gay gene” can be passed along among people that have sex with their own gender. Yet in recent times a large number of “conservatives” have come to accept that sexual orientation is not a “choice” as convincing genetic theories and evidence have emerged, which is why popular support has swung towards accepting gay marriage.

    Even if your assertions about both sides being selective blank slatists are true, the more interesting question is the degree to which the “selections” lead to better individual and societal outcomes. If a Lefty thinks that drug addiction is genetic, but poor black life outcomes is caused by discrimination, then their policy preferences will be to leave drug addicts alone beyond providing basic humanitarian support, because there is nothing that can be done about their addiction, while blacks will be given special help by discriminating against whites that won’t work at all if the problem isn’t caused by discrimination.

    On the other hand, Righty belief that hard work will lead to success is likely to yield stronger results for everyone involved even if the “injustice” is genetic. For example, if drug addiction is believed to be caused by nurture, then Righty policy preferences for work based “tough love” to help drug addicts overcome their poor upbringing about drug use (i.e. don’t “baby” the addicts) is likely to be effective in getting some of them to overcome their addiction and get their lives together. Similarly if a Righty thinks that black disadvantages is primarily genetic, then their “tough love” prescription is also more likely to maximize black natural potential while avoiding unfair discrimination against whites. In other words, I see no evidence that telling someone that they are a “victim” of society or “victim” of genes will ever help them achieve their maximum potential.

    This research also points to another under-researched area. If everyone is supposedly equal, then why have some groups had more success than others? It is very hard to discriminate against someone who has equal talent and ability, because they can fight back very effectively. On the other hand, if observation and experience over many generations finds certain groups to have advantages and disadvantages over others, then discrimination can be built into socialization processes because they fit with nature. Thus if women prove to be too weak to hunt and fight then society develops prohibitions against female soldiers that stops the occasional female with legitimate warrior talents, but is accepted by the vast majority of women who have no compulsion or ability to fight. And if every black tribe that is met by whites doesn’t seem to have much intellectual development, then society is unlikely to promote blacks as professors, doctors, or other high intellect professions, even though a few will have the capability to make contributions to knowledge.

    • bo winegard says

      Yes, there are data that support the assertions about mental illness and homosexuality. Furthermore, liberals endorse statements that genetics matter for human nature in general more than conservatives do. Agree about the limitations of the scale. We traded convenience for some level of precision.

    • KD says

      Beyond the issue of genetics, viewing yourself as an rational agent capable of effecting a change in your current conditions is much more likely to result in success than viewing yourself as a passive victim of circumstances.

      Obviously, humans are subject to Fate, but we are instrumental in making our own Fate.

      If one person is predisposed to obesity, guess what, if they exercise and pay attention to their diet, they will fail to fulfill their “genetic potential” with respect to obesity.

      The goofiness of all these debates is that moral language and legal language views humans as agents, whereas scientific viewpoints view humans as objects subject to natural forces. Lots of metaphysical debates on this line, but the practical reality is that treating people as moral agents works, and carrots and sticks work, and irrespective of anyone’s genetic or environmental predispositions. Which is good, because folk psychology is incommensurable with standard modern scientific reductionism, but it doesn’t matter if it works.

      If you want to decrease the incidence of behavior X, it doesn’t matter if it is genetic or environmentally caused, punish people caught doing X, and reward people doing not-X, and the incidence of X will decrease. This root cause nonsense is a deliberate attempt to distract from the practical reward/punishment framework. Back when there were stricter social sanctions on homosexuality, there were less people identifying as homosexual. Now that it is a protected class of sacred victims, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon or claiming they’re bi. Its hard to believe that the prevalence of “gay genes” has dramatically increased in one generation. Just the system of social rewards and punishments.

      • E. Olson says

        Good comment KD, but perhaps the rapid increase in gay genes is caused by global warming, which would make homosexuals a victim of both genes and oil burning society.

        • tarstarkas says

          IMO the visibility of homosexuality is roughly in correspondence with the level of wealth within a civilization as well as availability of females. In Late Republican and Imperial Rome it was rife among the Senatorial and Equisetrian classes, it was also commonly practiced in classical Greece where the women were hidden away (also in Muslim cultures). In poorer situations being openly homosexual was a good way to exit the gene pool quickly

    • Doug F says

      I have always suspected that homosexuality probably goes in waves. When society pushes down on it hard then more people with leanings that way lead end up in heterosexual relationships, which increases the tendency in the gene pool. When society accepts homosexuality then it is reduced.

  13. asdf says

    The data on sexual orientation is mixed. Some people are more biologically (lets not talk genes, but biology generally) more prone to homosexuality, some extremely prone. But everyone knows the fact that people become “temporarily gay” in Prison or in the Navy. It’s likely that every society will have some people that are “very gay”, but it’s also probably the case that there is a % of the population that could go either way based on social pressures.

    It’s also not clear that “being gay” implies a particular social outcome (like gay marriage). Gays in Ancient Greece were often expected to grow out of it, or to marry women and father children even as they kept up homosexual activities. They didn’t generally get married and have a gay household.

    Yes, certain parents (especially religious) with very gay kids wouldn’t admit their kids were gay and didn’t know what to do with them if they were, which caused problems.

    Also, some parents that are very “accepting” of their kids gayness also don’t know what to do with them (no, sending little jimmy off the the west village to hook up on Grindr and get STDs is not affirming things that need to be affirmed).

    • Somewoman says

      Yeah homosexuality is likely biologically caused but is one of the less genetic predilections. It might come from some imbalance of things people are exposed to in utero. But identical twin studies show that genetics doesn’t explain much of homosexuality.

      • asdf says

        Yeah, younger siblings more often being gay points to something to do with hormones in utero.

        I’m guessing it’s a complex set of biological and cultural factors.

      • bo winegard says

        Yeah, that is a good point. Innate would have been a better term.

  14. Jim Gorman says

    My problem with progressive thinking – “they see that a professor has more status than a construction worker or that a lawyer makes more money than a social worker and so on. But progressives find these disparities more disconcerting.” is that the by assigning “status” to different occupations based upon the power and money that job is able to receive they are taking the status of elite upon to themselves. Female homemakers are not as high status as a female CEO. Or a plumber is not as high status as a bank loan officer. Politicians have a higher status than the deplorable voters!

    What hogwash! At one time people who worked with their hands were considered artisans. Their status was as high as anyone. Bricklayers, stonemasons, carpenters, machinists, etc. were not looked down upon. Now, if you’re not a politician, wall street trader, or a professor, then you haven’t succeeded, i.e. you have no status. This is all sh*t invented by progressives to elevate their own status to the point where they can wield power over others by advocating equal outcomes. However, their “equal outcomes” are determined by their ideas only.

    My father was a farm machinery mechanic his whole life. He could make engines sing, blacksmith, make tools, run a metal lathe. He was the only welder I know that had the knowledge and skill to weld teeth back on a tractor’s bull gear and have them last in order to save farmers several hundred dollars in replacement costs. He would help farmers at night and on weekends (along with his helper – me). He LOVED his job and was good at it. Yet progressives would consider him low class and without a good outcome.

    My mother was the same. She had degrees in music and nursing. She played with the Kansas City Philharmonic one year. But her real passion was nursing which she did her whole life. I have seen her stare down doctors and tell them they were full of crap. Yet her status would be beneath a doctors according to progressives and she should have had a better outcome.

    Pardon me if I have no sympathy for progressives. If they want to accomplish something good, they need to come down off their elite pedestal and start teaching people how to respect each individual for what they do. Quit assigning outcomes based on money and power or any other of their idea of what successful means. Maybe they can learn that an equal outcome is doing what you love and doing it well.

    • MMS says

      @Jim there was a time when I would have been one of the fools looking down my nose… Then I grew up… Any job that is needful and is done well deserves respect… I greatly appreciate your comment!

    • E. Olson says

      Jim – Your comment reminds me of something that Victor Davis Hansen wrote recently about his upbringing as a PhD student from a farm family in a rural part of California. He said something to the effect that as an aspiring “egg-head” he could only earn respect from his childhood neighbors and family by demonstrating he could still do some carpentry or welding or other “useful” jobs in addition to his scholarly activities rather than instead of. I grew up with the same type of thinking, and although my career is “intellectual” I take as much personal pride and security in my ability to do some fairly serious home, garden, and auto upkeep and repair as I do from research and writing, while also being grateful that I have the choice and opportunity to not do those practical tasks as my full-time profession.

      • Stephanie says

        Jim, E. Olsen, I agree entirely. The other day, after a full night’s sleep and leisurely breakfast in bed reading Quillette, I got around to working on my thesis. A young man dropped from the roof above and cleaned my window, so that I could have a crystal-clear view of Sydney Harbour while I do “work” that frankly I would do for free as a hobby. I get the same feeling when I walk by construction workers, or when I sleep through my husband’s 4:30am alarm: society exists on the backs of working class men, and the work they do is much more essential than what I do. They deserve admiration and respect. I’m proud to have married one.

      • Jim Gorman says

        Thanks for your comment. Just a short story. My father could listen to a motor and diagnose many, many problems. I remember a vehicle of mine began to knock and I thought a lifter had collapsed. He listened for a moment and said, no, it sounds like a piece of carbon on top of a piston that knocked under compression. He had me get a quart of Marvel Mystery oil and while I revved the motor, he poured the oil down the carburetor and lo and behold, the knock went away. He said that Marvel Mystery oil would dissolve the piece of carbon a let it go out the exhaust valve.

        I myself have an BSEE but I have never forgotten how to work with my hands. I surely don’t have Dad’s talent nor his artistry with mechanical things but I can surely appreciate those who do.

        I will never forget the satisfaction he got when he did a job that turned out the way he wanted. He would grin and you could just see the satisfaction ooze out of his pores.

    • Doug F says

      Your parents are clearly part of the basket of deplorables – at least to the progressive elites.

      The reality is that many 4 year degrees now in the pseudo sciences do nothing to prepare kids to be productive, but well-prepares them to be victims. Many would be much better served learning a real skill.

      • E. Olson says

        Doug – professional victimhood takes real skill, and the difficulty of mastering grievance theory and tools is why so many university students need 5-6 years to get a 4 year degree.

    • Jack B. Nimble says

      @J G

      ‘….start teaching people how to respect each individual….’

      If you want to respect each person for their individual qualities, you can begin by NOT stereotyping progressives, doctors, nurses, mechanics or any other group of people. The ‘hogwash’ in your rant is your smearing of progressives as elitist power-grabbers.

      And on the subject of elitism in politics, what do you think about this recent speech?

      ‘I’m proud to be a bartender. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy. There is nothing wrong with preparing the food that your neighbors will eat. There is nothing wrong with driving the buses that take your family to work. There is nothing wrong with being a working person in the United States of America and there is everything dignified about it.’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), April 5, 2019 Link:

      • E. Olson says

        JBN – don’t you know that even Leftist researchers are finding that stereotypes are generally accurate? You don’t need to go very far to find well known progressives who show no respect for the working class citizens of their own country:

        “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” President Barack Obama

        “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? [Laughter/applause]. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

        “Anytime I meet people who got to make the deliberate choice, whose parents chose Canada, I’m jealous. Because I think being able to choose it, rather than being Canadian by default, is an amazing statement of attachment to Canada. I always sort of laugh when you see people who are – not many of them, but – intolerant or who think, ‘Go back to your own country. No! You chose this country. This is your country more than it is for others because we take it for granted.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

        German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel responded to pro-Germany protesters in July of 2017 by calling for their imprisonment and claiming that their disagreements made them less German than refugees arriving in the country from the Middle East and Africa.

        As for your AOC quote – I haven’t seen any working class people criticizing her “humble” background, but I have seen some pundits criticize her Green New Deal as something that is very insensitive to working class people since it would dramatically raise energy prices that hurt the poor most, and lead to less US manufacturing and energy jobs that would also most severely impact the working class. I have also seen pundit criticism that she exaggerated her “humble” background to appeal to the working class voters of her district (she actually has wealthy elite parents and schooling), and that she has been neglecting her district’s needs as she devotes most of her efforts to gaining nationwide recognition (see link).

        • Jack B. Nimble says

          @E. O.

          I’m going to quote Pres. Obama back at you:

          “….”As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts, ‘Let me tell you something I know about the Negro….’ . You don’t really need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for you — don’t start your sentence that way….”**

          ditto for–
          Let me tell you something I know about the Jew……
          Let me tell you something I know about the poor………
          Let me tell you something I know about the socialist…….
          Let me tell you something I know about the Muslim…..

          People who talk like that [that is, in stereotypes] are wallowing in their own ignorance.


          • Jim Gorman says

            JBN –> Is your modis operandi to make up strawmen, and then knock them down?

            The reason for “stereotyping” progressive elites is due to the policies they expound. Medicare for all, The Green New Deal, Free College (for how many years?), Reparations, etc. The are probably all worth discussing, but in the end the question is who is going to pay for it. If you want to demonstrate your knowledge, tell us how many days the government could run if you confiscated the 1%’s wealth. By confiscate, I mean take it all, income, savings, stocks and bonds, assets, etc. Then tell us how much money would the government get if one hundred million taxpayers (this includes deplorables) payed $10,000 each year in additional taxes! I think you’ll see where the money is, and it isn’t from the one percent or even the top 10%.

            This is why AOC is a progressive elite. Either she is ignorant of what she speaks or she isn’t really in tune with what her policies will cost the deplorables.

          • Jack B. Nimble says


            “……you confiscated the 1%’s wealth. By confiscate, I mean take it all, income, savings, stocks and bonds, assets……..”

            You’re talking about Cuban-style confiscation of wealth. Now that’s a strawman!!!!!

            For the record, I don’t support wealth confiscation, free college, cash reparations or even a 1% annual wealth tax as [I think] Sen. Warren has proposed. Many states annually tax property and automobiles owned by individuals and/or businesses, but I think that an annual wealth tax would just lead to more off-shoring of wealth [except obviously real estate and some tangible property].

            BTW, if your strawman could talk, he would probably tell a different financial story than you were expecting. 100,000,000 taxpayers each paying $10,000 more yields $1 trillion or 10^12.

            The top 1% have at least $40 trillion in assets and income; note that as a group their assets exceed annual income by a factor of at least 20x.**

            Bottom Line: the assets and income of the top 1% dwarf the money that would be raised by a flat tax of $10,000 per taxpayer. I would be happy if US corporations and the ultra-wealthy would just pay their fair share of taxes. Here are some household-name companies that paid US taxes at a NEGATIVE rate [got a refund] last year:*

            Company U.S. Income Federal Tax Effective Tax Rate

   $10,835 –129 –1%
            Delta Air Lines $5,073 –187 –4%
            Chevron $4,547 –181 –4%
            General Motors $4,320 –104 –2%
            EOG Resources $4,067 –304 –7%
            Occidental Petroleum $3,379 –23 –1%
            Honeywell International $2,830 –21 –1%
            Deere $2,152 –268 –12%
            American Electric Power $1,943 –32 –2%
            Principal Financial $1,641 –49 –3%
            FirstEnergy $1,495 –16 –1%
            Prudential Financial $1,440 –346 –24%
            Xcel Energy $1,434 –34 –2%
            Devon Energy $1,297 –14 –1%
            DTE Energy $1,215 –17 –1%
            Halliburton $1,082 –19 –2%
            Netflix $856 –22 –3%
            Whirlpool $717 –70 –10%
            Eli Lilly $598 –54 –9%
            IBM $500 –342 –68%
            Goodyear Tire & Rubber $440 –15 –3%
            Penske Automotive Group $393 –16 –4%
            Aramark $315 –48 –15%
            AECOM Technology $238 –122 –51%
            Tech Data $203 –10 –5%
            Performance Food Group $192 –9 –4%
            Arrow Electronics $167 –12 –7%
            * NOTE- dollar figures are millions

            **You can google ‘how much money does the top 1% earn annually’ and ‘how much wealth does the top 1% own’ to get these figures.

      • Jim Gorman says

        JBN –> I didn’t look all those you listed up but the predominate number are publicly owned companies. The 1% don’t own them, they own portions of them based upon the stock they own. Individuals net worth is far less than what you are stating.

        In order to tap into the wealth you’re talking about you would need to force people to turn their stock ownership over to the government. Good luck with that, that is real socialism/communism.

        When I checked Bill Gates net worth is around 100 billion, Jeff Bezos around 150 billion, and several others at 70 billion.

        Let’s do the math. Assume 10 folks whose net worth is 100 billion. That’s 1 trillion dollars. Then assume 100 people with 10 billion. That’s another 1 trillion. Then assume 1000 with 1 billion. That’s another 1 trillion dollars. And to finish, let’s assume 20,000,000 millionaires. That’s another 2 trillion. Sum total is 5 trillion dollars, That’s enough for what, 500+ days. Then there is nothing left, kaput, nada, zip. These people will be paupers.

        Now what is:

        100,000,000 people times $10,000 = 1 trillion dollars

        You made my point without realizing it. The joke is on you because you just proved that 100 million people or even 300 million @ $10,000 couldn’t hardly pay for the federal government. The corollary is that the deplorables are where the ongoing source of money is. They would need to be tapped into in order to fund some of the ridiculous programs being offered by the progressives.

        • JBN says


          Your sample math is purely guesswork. I’ve been trying to post a reply with links to real data, but the Quillette server keeps rejecting those comments.

    • Photondancer says

      Conservatives would consider your mother lower status too. Nurses were held in lower esteem than doctors for decades before progressivism existed. It was the rise of white collar work that killed the dignity of working with one’s hands, not progressives.

      • JBN says


        There is a table on the website called Financial Samurai that is part of an article called How Much Money Do the Top Income Earners Make?

        The table shows that the annual income collectively of the top 1 percent is 1.7 trillion USD, whereas the total income of the bottom 50 percent is 1.1 trillion USD. Your fantasy flat tax increase of 10,000 USD per taxpayer would basically pauperize most of the bottom half. Simple fairness indicates that taxes should be collected from those who can afford to pay them. We should also remember that in many states the bottom half pay the same sales tax rate that the top 1 percent pays.

      • JBN says


        The top 1 percent control about 30 percent of the 100 trillion USD in total net worth of American households. You can do the math.

        Source: Article titled The $100 trillion question: What to do about wealth? By Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post

        “We live in an age obsessed with economic inequality…….In 2018, the Fed estimates that Americans owned $114 trillion of assets, including $26 trillion of housing and real estate, $26 trillion of pensions (such as 401(k) accounts), $22 trillion of corporate stocks and mutual funds, and $6 trillion of durable goods (vehicles, appliances, furniture). Liabilities — mostly mortgages and consumer credit — totaled about $15 trillion, leaving net worth at nearly $100 trillion.

        Some of these numbers have been available before. What’s new is the distribution of this wealth, which is highly skewed and getting more so:

        ● In 2018, the net worth of the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans represented 70 percent of household wealth, up from 61 percent in 1989, the study’s first year. Even among this upper crust, wealth became more concentrated. Over the same years, the share of the top 1 percent went from 24 percent to 31 percent.

        ● The bottom 50 percent of U.S. households had virtually no net worth, the difference between assets and liabilities, mainly loans. Their wealth share tumbled from 4 percent of total wealth in 1989 to 1 percent in 2018. Their assets (roughly half were homes) stood at $6.8 trillion, compared with liabilities (primarily home mortgages) of $5.6 trillion, leaving a net worth of $1.2 trillion. Many of these households borrowed heavily in the real estate boom. Recall: Total household net worth equals about $100 trillion.

        ● The big losers over the past 30 years could be termed the broad middle class: those with wealth starting at the median (the midpoint of all wealth) and going to the 90th percentile. Their share of household wealth, though still sizable, has dropped from 35 percent in 1989 to 29 percent in 2018……”

  15. EVERYONE is a selective blank-slatist, except the small but noisy minority who preach a dismal, reductionist, bio-mechanical determinism. What varies is which selections we make.

  16. Aristodemus says

    Ideologues left and right alike cannot accept the implications of evolution.

  17. Jean Levant says

    I would make one observation about this article. The authors’ survey is aimed to prove the blank slatism of progressives (or rad libs) and their survey seems fine and good. They actually have stong evidences to endorse their point. Strangely however, they conclude the article by arguing that conservatives share this blank slatism, though on different topics. Why not? But where is the evidences? Where is the questions and answers in the survey that show it? I suspect a bit of relativism here.

    • asdf says

      Why are blacks, the poor, (fill in blank) dysfunctional?

      Mainstream Liberals: White males did it to them.

      Mainstream Conservatives: They did it to themselves.

      Charles Murray: Mostly things outside of anyones control did it, and there is a limited amount we can do about it.

      One of these is correct, but can’t sustain a political movement.

      • Fastestgump says

        I agree with you. Conservatives frequently “blame” black culture for illegitimate children and low value placed on edudation.

        But realistically, you can’t have a society that is both free and constraining on innate impulses and preferences of black people. As white hegemony pealed away in the 20th century, blacks returned to the state of low paternal investment that is their instinct.

        They are what they are. I suggest not beating yourself up over it or transferring a bunch of wealth to them, but one ought to be realistic about what the average black person is likely to achieve in a free country.

        • MMS says

          @Fatestgump – Your comment here is to me boarding on actual racisium and is unwelcome.

          • Fastestgump says

            MMS, are you a moderator here? Unwelcome or not, there appears to be no reason to assume that the differences in paternal investment seen in west Africans vs. eurasians isn’t a manifestation of reproductive instincts. Innate preferences regarding sexual behavior can be powerful ones and difficult to overcome.

      • Kevin Herman says

        I got news for you if you flunked a test because you had low iq you did it to yourself regardless of whether it was totally unlucky you were born with a low iq. Whats the answer to underperforming populations should we give them hole filling jobs at 50,000k a year? Im not trying to be insensitive here I think you are exaggerating what people mean when they said they did it to themselves. If you are too stupid to not have 3 children out of wedlock by 21 whats the answer to something like that?

        • Fastestgump says

          A lot of people are too stupid not to have 3 children by different fathers by age 21. This is a real problem our society faces.

        • ms100 says

          Race realists who are leftists do believe that the rest of us need to compensate those who are less genetically endowed. So, yes, hole filling jobs at $50k or the equivalent. Of course, the downside of that approach is a society that ends up with a Malthusian catastrophe. You can either deal with that tragedy with preventive checks now or devastating positive checks later.

  18. Daniel V says

    I first stumbled on selective blank slatism when talking with new atheists. They like to argue that religion is something foreign that is imposed on humanity, like a virus, and reject any serious notion that it is emergent. I found much the same with libertarians as well except they think the state is an unnatural social structure imposed on humanity. With social justice warriors the imposed systems are of course patriarchy and gender. Conservatives in general are a little harder to be specific with except to say a belief in divine creation and absolute free will implies blank slatism.

    All of it reminds me of the garden of eden story where purity was corrupted by eating the apple. Except the apple is patriarchy, the state, gender, etc. The narrative is the same that at one point we were pure and good but something external corrupted that purity and that’s why things aren’t turning out quite right.

    Another one of my observations is in the worst examples of people taking this stance there is almost always an Either Or perspective to the world. They see it as Either Nature Or Nurture and can’t grasp the reality that it’s Both Nature And Nurture. I suspect the fact mainstream culture likes to present everything in this framework of exclusivity that’s a major part of the problem.

    • Doug F says

      You are describing anarchists, not libertarians. Humanity has never been successful without some form of social structure. Libertarians just believe that the scope and span of control of society should be far less than many other viewpoints.

  19. Kevin Herman says

    “After all, conservatives still appear reluctant to believe that sexuality is caused by genes or constrained by one’s nature. that science hasn’t come close to proving it.”

    Can someone point to me any scientific research that clearly shows us homosexuality is genetic? Science hasn’t come close to proving it. I’m not even saying it isn’t genetic just that it hasn’t been proven that it is. I don’t know why that needs to be a conservative position either. It doesn’t necessarily mean its a choice either. My own personal feeling on homosexuality is its a result of certain environmental factors (who knows what exactly really) children are exposed to at a very young age that causes same sex attraction and that it is probably not a choice.

  20. Aristodemus says

    By far the most parsimonious explanation for the ubiquity of religion is that it’s evolutionarily hardwired into the human brain. If “new atheists” argue otherwise, it’s probably a symptom of their own repressed religiosity. Its expression is probably unconsciously modeled on the dominant religion of the civilization that engendered them: Christianity, which is obsessed with disproving rival regions and convincing everyone that they should convert to it.

    • Fastestgump says

      Religions are so different from one and other that I don’t see much ubiquitous about them. Chinese religions seem to lack a concept of a theistic god. Shinto is mainly ancestor worship.

      Humans crave an answer to why the cosmos is as it is but the answers they projected are hardly similar. When they don’t know why something happens, they posit a supernatural explanation. But when an alternate non supernatural explanation is offered, that often suffices.

      • Aristodemus says

        Religion IS ubiquitous; all human cultures have them. I wouldn’t say humans are predisposed to a particular religion, or type of religion, only to religious belief and practice itself. The particular form of any given religion will be culturally and historically conditioned. To that extent, religion is like language.

        (And traditionally the Chinese have worshiped gods, which are by definition theistic.)

        • Stephanie says

          Religious evolution is more or less similar universally, with cultures “stagnating” (in the most neutral sense of the word) at different stages. Generally you start with animism, then polytheism, then monotheism, then personality cults in relatively modern times.

          I think sometimes these cults can be positive developments, like Jesus softening Judaism and making it more inclusive, or negative developments, like Mohammed entrenching polygamy, child marriage, and conquest as religious virtues.

          • Aristodemus says

            Mohammed, according to my understanding, moderated a long-standing tradition of polygamy by limiting men to a maximum of 4 wives. (The rule apparently didn’t apply to him though. Prophethood has its privileges.) As for the inclusivity of Christianity, it seems to have been a mixed blessing through history.

          • Amin says

            @ Stephanie

            “like Jesus softening Judaism and making it more inclusive”

            When did he do that? You are confusing people like Paul with Jesus. Jesus is “quoted” in the Bible as saying he was there to uphold Jewish law.

            “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

            Making up stuff again Steph? Surely not!

      • Daniel V says

        I don’t think it’s correct to say answering the why of the cosmos is the main motivation for religion. That’s just a minor aspect. Religions are mainly focused on the individual and their place in the world. It tells you why you ought to get up in the morning and not just off yourself when things get tough. It defines why the powers that be, the ruling class, deserve to be the powers that be.

    • tarstarkas says

      Religions are man’s way of trying to explain the unknowable. In less advanced societies the Gods or Spirits even when they were anthropomorphized (or animalized) were mighty, inscrutable, and capricious (think Job without the happy ending tacked on later). As more and more knowledge was acquired, the role of Gods and Spirits has diminished, until now many do not believe in them at all. However the need to explain what is still unknowable (and there is still a tremendous amount of things we don’t know) has led many of these Godless people to construct Godless religions or cults (think Marxism, Anthropogenic Global Warming). BTW, I’m agnostic, if there’s anything I believe in it’s Get ‘er done ism.

  21. Bryan says

    We can no more choose our genes than we can our formative childhood environment. It seems to me that the most compassionate society would be one that acknowledges the importance of both genetics and environment and strives to maximize the potential of each individual, at the same time that it allows for the inevitable variation of outcome. Conservatives never seem to want to attribute their competitive nature and high motivation for hard work to the same cosmic role of the dice as they do for a high IQ. If you have a high IQ, are highly motivated, and are fortunate to live in an environment that fosters and rewards those traits, you have no right to be anything but profoundly grateful.

    • Doug F says

      Indeed. However, a society can only be compassionate when it has excess wealth – a society on the verge of starvation cannot begin to provide the environment you suggest.

      So society needs to encourage an overall increase in wealth (capitalism, free markets, etc) and should always ensure societal compassion (1) is seen it as a fruit of wealth and never an entitlement and (2) ensure that the long term consequences are not counter productive.

      We have done very badly on managing our societal compassion.

  22. Stephanie says

    I’d first like to congratulate Bo Winegard: I think this is the first article of his I’ve read that doesn’t somehow wedge in a slam on Trump. Perhaps the new coauthor is a moderating influence?

    Nevertheless, we got some unnecessary strawmen about conservatives. God forbid that an article about the left not attempt to make equivalency with the right!

    As a few people mentioned above, the conservative take is not that there is no genetic predisposition to homosexuality, transgenderism, addiction, obesity, ect, simply that those predispositions are not fate. You can choose to not engage in gay sex, take hormones, drink alcohol, shoot up heroine, or overeat. That this may be hard is a given, but everyone has their unique struggles and it is our responsibility to overcome them.

    Many modern conservatives, however, don’t think that choosing to fight homosexual urges is necessary or virtuous, in line with research that has demonstrated that “curing” gay doesn’t work. I don’t even see much opposition to adults choosing to live as the opposite sex. Conservatives these days are quite libertarian. These lifestyles only become issues when they are used to interfere in other people’s private lives, influence other people’s children, or entrench pseudoscience in the legal sphere.

    The important bit of nuance I think is missing here is that nothing is 100% nature, 100% nurture, or 100% personal choice. I think conservatives understand, thanks to recent work in epigenetics, that this is the case. Perhaps there are some in the older generations that aren’t up to speed on all this, but it’s time we stop thinking of conservatives as circa 1950s stereotypes. I think the comments here from right-leaning people are more typical of modern conservative thought. There is recognition of genetic (and fetal and early childhood) influence on homosexuality, transgenderism, sex and race differences, ect, but also that culture and personal choice play important roles.

    The radical left on the other hand, appears to reject epigenetic nuance and the influence of free will. Homosexual activity, sex transitions, addiction, and obesity are 100% the result of unchangable nature, while sex and racial differences are 100% nurture (specifically, the cultural effect of the patriarchy and white supremacy). Free choice has nothing to do with any of it. Deviations from this orthodoxy is heresy and grounds for the most extreme form of social expulsion possible.

    • Lydia says

      “These lifestyles only become issues when they are used to interfere in other people’s private lives, influence other people’s children, or entrench pseudoscience in the legal sphere.”


    • Doug F says

      Very well said.

      I have always leaned libertarian on my social views and believe that the primary role of government is to provide common protection and manage the interactions of competing individual liberties. I believe free-speech and a strong constitution protect us from tyranny.

      It has always been clear to me that the idea of nature vs nurture is ridiculous and that it is a complex balance with impacts being different based on issue and circumstances.

      30 years ago I would not have been categorized as clearly a conservative or a liberal. Now days I am probably categorized as a staunch conservative.

    • Sydney says

      “Conservatives these days are quite libertarian. These lifestyles only become issues when they are used to interfere in other people’s private lives…”

      Not libertarian enough! American conservatives are still hand-in-glove with religious fundamentalists in ensuring that the long arm of the state is up women’s wazoos. U.S. conservatives want the state out of everything…except where they like it imposing itself on women’s private bodies and private lives.

      Fortunately, most other Western nations (and their conservatives) have abandoned the fight to control women’s bodies as the fool’s errand that it is.

  23. X. Citoyen says

    The direction of causality isn’t obvious—a chicken-or-egg problem. Are progressives blank slatists about equality issues because they’re progressives, or are they progressives because they believe equality issues are not the result of innate group differences? Hard to say. Experience (or lack of it) does contribute a great deal to one’s political orientation.

    There isn’t a dichotomous choice between genetics or environment either. To take a simple and extreme example, one could believe that observed group differences on measures (e.g., IQ) are 90% genetic and still believe that inequality is 90% environmental if one can show the differences do not suffice to explain the differences in outcomes. Not saying I’d buy this, but it’s not completely illogical.

    • Doug F says

      To be making social policy based on the outcome we probably should try to scientifically find out more about the relative impacts. Progressives consider even research into these issues as sexist/racist etc. That is a pretty neat trick and does not lead me to believe that truth is their desired outcome.

  24. Peter from Oz says

    I am a conservative.
    From what I can see the basic point that good people want to ensure occurs is that generalisations are used fairly and not to hold back people of ability.
    Let us assume that it can be proved that on average white women are better typists than Indian men. This doesn’t mean that no Indian men are good typists, just that the generalisation that Indian men are not the best typists is true.
    Society’s challenge is not to let this generalisation harm the career prospects of those Indian men who are in fact good typists.
    Centre leftists will solve this problem by downplaying the generalisation. They will thus make a big deal out of the Indian men who are in the typing pool, explaining how this shows that talent will shine through. Most right wing people I know would accept this approach as well, perhaps not putting so much emphasis on the unique quality of the Indian male typists and just letting time break down any bad effects that the generalisation has had. The centre left will thus put up posters telling Indian men that they can be typists. The right will not, but will quite happily empty Indian men as typists if they are good typists.
    Progressives seem to want solve this problem by declaring the generalisation and those who maintain it as not just incorrect but morally reprehensible. Indian men are generally bad typists because they have been told so by generations of white women. In any fair society the number of Indian male typists should be the same as the proportion they form of the population.
    The hard left of course is on the same spectrum as the soft left in this argument, as both think something should be done to help those Indian male typists. So the soft left acquiesces to the hard left’s demands that the generalisation is false.
    The left now joins together to enforce affirmative action and even quotas to correct the “injustice” that has been wrought on Indian men over the generations. Businesses now jump on the bandwagon sensing that they can make a a good impression and boost sales by acceding to the demands of the left. They go out of their way to hire any male Indian typist they can find.
    Back at the coal face the rest of the workforce soon notices that many of the new Indian male typists aren’t really up to the job in the same way as the best white women typists. They also notice that many of the new Indian male typists resign because they can’t take the pressure.
    A new rumour starts going around the office that the male Indian typists are in fact token employees. Suddenly, the generalisation is being whispered everywhere as truth. Indian men can’t type.
    The progressives then have to enforce their quotas more and more fiercely, making examples out of anyone who so much as nods to the generalisation. This requires a whole new bureaucracy of middle class, well paid jobs as “diversity officers” and “human rights commissioners”, etc. and if you are in Canada it also involves paid informants. In the meantime the poor old Indian male typists become politicised and paranoid. Their co workers become demoralised and fearful for their jobs. They must watch every word and action in case one of the thought police decides they are “racist”.
    The quality of the typing of course plummets, and the employers are less well off because they have to pay more taxes to support the progressive activists and bureaucrats, but the progressives are satisfied because plenty of their own now have cushy well paid jobs and the opportunity to endlessly wallow in self righteousness.

    • Closed Range says

      Good analogy Peter – it mirrors reality quite closely.

      To give a further example straight from reality this time, let me mention affirmative actions at university selection. It was in the news the other day that the UK universities watchdog wants Oxbridge to accept more BAME students with grades as low as one B and 2 C’s at A level (for our international friends, the grades range from C to A*, and students with three or four A and A* are common enough to fill all Oxbridge places several times over).

      Well, let’s imagine Oxford and Cambridge let this happen. What do you think will happen next? I can tell you – many of those students will hard fail their 1st year, and overall the results for BAME students will go down. Then suddenly there will be a moral panic about institutional racism, a few faculty will be fired as a response, and yet the results for next year will be the same. Then they will change the curriculum, give extra time for the exams, inflate the grades. The students education will suffer, they will see old exam papers that were harder than their own, and they will feel inferior to previous generations. People will notice this, word will get around that there is a subset of students who didn’t really deserve their places, that standards are falling and they are a drag on the rest of the students development.

      Meanwhile, those low attaining students admitted will have a miserable time, as they will be thrown into a place where their peers are significantly brighter and more capable at their studies than they are. Many will feel depressed at their own inadequacy, and some will start to view the whole disciplines and institution with suspicion (“maybe it’s the course itself which is biased against me”). Since they will notice that many of their white peers are succeeding, some will go as far as suspecting that racism is everywhere. They will start to hate the very institutions which tried to give them an opportunity few are lucky to get.

      The third set of people involved in the story are those who would have been accepted a place except for those admitted under this policy. They will notice that many students with much lower results will get a place instead of them. They will legitimately feel victimised by a discriminatory policy based only on their ethnicity. They They will probably do ok for themselves elsewhere, but they will despise universities for allowing a new form of racism through the backdoor.

      I could go on with this, but already it is clear that misguided attempts at social engineering will usually backfire, and will make people more likely to imagine there are “-isms” at play, and make tensions between groups worse. It creates unnatural distortions in the students experience and collectively everyone suffers as a result. All simply because people can’t accept that maybe the top universities are not the right place for weaker students, that they will be better cared for and educated in a university that pitches itself at that level. How do I know this will happen? Because it has already happened in universities throughout the US.

    • Photondancer says

      Your assertion that conservatives would happily employ good Indian male typists is not borne out by history. Conservatives would not even interview them. The whole point of conservativeness is clinging to and upholding the prevailing generalisations.

  25. Fickle Pickle says

    But even the analysis given by Bo and Cory is dismally reductionist in its (mis)-understanding of what we are human beings.

    A greatly expanded comprehension of what we are human beings.

    None of us new here.
    Every human being is a karmic entity that has been here many times before – even for thousands of years!
    Everyone’s karmic inheritance exerts a powerful unconscious force on every dimension of their body-mind-complex.
    We are all dramatizing our past karma’s.
    It is even determines how we CHOOSE our parents. Which is to say that prior to the moment of conception everyone is attracted to the combined energetic pattern of both the male and female at the moment of conception.
    Furthermore we have all been associated with the same karmic entities many times before too. Therefore it is quite possible for anyone to marry their parent!

    Furthermore, the karma’s or habit patterns of every individual and all of their past associations are universally effective at every level: physical, emotional, mental, unconscious, subconscious, waking, dreaming, and sleeping. And those karma’s extend beyond the individual body-mind to include others, objects, and environments at every level, visible or gross, and invisible or subtle, known and unknown – past, present, and future.

  26. ‘…conservatives still appear reluctant to believe that sexuality is caused by genes or constrained by one’s nature.’

    Is it sexuality as a whole that conservatives believe is not constrained by one’s nature or only non-heterosexual sexuality?

  27. GregS says

    “they often argue that all (or almost all) people, if they just work hard, can succeed”

    So does that mean an individual who works hard at becoming the great American novelist should be equally as successful as the person who works just as hard at becoming an accountant?

    Now let’s flip that on its head, if one wants success, they should pursues success first. In other words, if one wants to be successful, they should become an accountant before they try to write the great American novel.

    Or is this just all about genetics and social discrimination?

  28. Serenity says

    Peter from Oz: “Let us assume that it can be proved that on average white women are better typists than Indian men…”

    It is a nicely articulated story, Peter. But still, you glossed over the damage inflicted by progressive radicals on Western society, for example, on victimised groups aka Indian male typists.

    In his book “Please Stop Helping Us. How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed“ Jason L Riley explains why many efforts by progressive liberals to lift the black American underclass not only fail, but harm the intended beneficiaries, how government dependency has fostered high unemployment and crime. “…efforts to help blacks had more pernicious and lasting effects on black attitudes and habits than either slavery or segregation. Social welfare programs that were initiated or greatly expanded during the 1960s resulted in the government effectively displacing black fathers as breadwinners, and made work less attractive.”

    Plus, the road to the ‘happy ever after’ world of thriving radicalism where “the progressives are satisfied because plenty of their own now have cushy well paid jobs and the opportunity to endlessly wallow in self righteousness” – is a bumpy ride through political unrest, revolutions, wars and totalitarian states with concentration camps for all the enemies of the people including white women and Indian men.

    • Serenity,

      You can see this problem at play in another venue. A friend of my daughter won the “Hispanic National Merit Scholar” (or whatever it’s called) award and was furious. She claims she qualified for National Merit but they put her in the Hispanic category because they have so few and she is Hispanic. She claims they dumb down the categories for minorities.

      Who knew?

    • Peter from Oz says

      I agree with you, Serenity
      Theodore Dalrymple has written many books pointing out the ideas of the left have created the underclass of white Britons from a large part of the old working class. The work of the progressives just not just impact badly on racial minorities, but on all people that the left tries to “help”, except of course themselves.
      The phenomenon is perhaps easier to see in Britain, because for several generations they had a selective schooling system where the brightest children of the working class and lower middle class could get a very good education at a Grammar School.
      As the 20th century progressed, the grammar school graduates mingled with the rest of the elite, most often pressing for “progressive”policies. by the 1960s the Labour Party had decided that the Grammar Schools were evil, because they “left behind” the children who were forced to go to the other schools. The trendy idea was that all secondary schools should be “comprehensives”, I.e. schools catering for children of all academic abilities.
      Of course the people pushing this policy send their children to Public (I.e. private) schools.
      Unfortunately, the Conservatives at that time were in their “we can only really manage the decline” phase and did not do anything to stop the closure of the Grammar Schools started by Labour.
      The result of course is that the lefties who got their rise in life because they attended Grammar Schools made it much harder for the children of the working class to rise in the world by getting rid of those same schools. And this didn’t really help those who it was supposed to help either, as at the same time other silly left wing ideas went through the education system resulting in poorer outcomes for all.
      Meanwhile, the senior ranks of the political parties and most of the other elites comprise ex Public School boys and girls. The lefties have been absorbed into the establishment, and for their protestations about “equality” their actions prove that they have kicked away the ladder in an attempt to stop other working class or lower middle class people also getting a seat at the top table.
      When the progressives rants on about “equality” what they mean is that everyone other than them must be on a reservation thinking and doing exactly what the progressives think is appropriate for their group.

  29. Kevin Herman says

    Im sorry but I just think its looney to ding conservatives for believing you are responsible for your actions and life regardless of genetics. Here is what I mean. Even if you are born into this world with an 80 IQ and poor impulse control that doesnt give you the excuse to be a blight on society or that society needs to give you some kind of dunce job to make sure you can sustain yourself or the government has to do it or that we have to spend all sorts of social capital and time figuring out how you can be more productive. Maybe anyone with a 80 iq or below if they commit a serious crime we can just give them a slap on the back and a hearty dont do that again you rascal! Genetics is important but it cant be the final word. It might be the final word whether you can be a doctor or engineer but it cant be the sole final word on whether you can be a meaningful member of society or not. The left is way worse on blank slatism Im sorry I dont care what polling says or anecdotes or whatever passes as “science” these days. They wouldnt go on an on about the statistical imbalances and systematic racism and diversity in jobs and societal roles if they did.

  30. I didn’t see any evidence here for the selectivity of progressive blank slatism….did I miss it? All the data seemed consistent with progressives being more likely to be consistent blank-slatists. Was there a question about whether homosexuality has a biological basis, and was there an analyisis of people who answered “yes” to homosexuality having a biological basis, but “no” to the possibility of other traits being biologically influenced?

    • Closed Range says

      Mark –

      You are right that the article was a serious case of citation needed on who believes what, especially on the claims about what conservatives (which ones?) believe, which I find highly dubious.

      I think Bo Winegards articles have this consistent trend of passing opinions for facts, without much evidence.

  31. In All Fairness says

    Bravo. Seems like “ideological” or “selective” blank slatists is a polite way of saying they’re hypocrites. Let’s call em what they are

  32. erp says

    In the late70’s, we relocated from the city to a small elite college town in Vermont. At that time nature/nurture, as blank-statism was called back then, was rampant among the intellectuals at the college and the surrounding professional class. People who grew up in families where smarts were rule, didn’t notice that it went from generation to generation and the lessers among them also procreated other lessers.

    Moving along — five or six of these great-thinker families adopted non-white babies to add to their already growing family and in some cases even continued to add to their family the old fashioned way. Not surprisingly the adopted children in every case didn’t measure up to their nurture, but went with their nature instead and were rejected by their adoptive families.

    One family, both mathematicians, whose natural kids were prodigies, went so far as to give their adoptive daughter back to the state as being unmanageable at the age of 17.

    The outpouring of sympathy for the family from the community was nauseating.

  33. codadmin says

    Blank slatism is a religious concept.

    The non-religious have no business even contemplating it. And those that do, clearly have agendas because of it.

  34. ccscientist says

    There is a third explanation besides inequality being due to genetics or due to racism/sexism, and that is culture. Sowell points out that we have a hard time pinning down what culture it, but that it is powerful, pervasive, and persistent. Not all cultural traits lead to equal outcomes. I would suggest that gansta culture far more than racism or genetics, either together or separately, currently is the dominant thing holding back inner city blacks. I have had many black friends who had adopted middle-class white values and attitudes and they were very successful (dentists, salesmen, engineers) with only modest experiences of bigotry. BUT the Left tends to view culture as sacred and linked to race and unchangeable. Thus you may not criticise cultural values or attitudes because this is simply racism.

    • Peter from Oz says

      You are right. I have noticed for years that the left has great difficulty in differentiating between culture and race. It is quite OK to denigrate someone’s culture, as culture can be changed. Race cannot be changed, hence why most of us I think condemn prejudice merely based on race.
      But there is also politics. My guess is that many people are prejudiced against blacks because of the politics espoused by their leaders and the fact that 90% of black people vote for one party, on the grounds that that party will give them “free stuff”.
      If 40% of blacks started voting Republican, the so called racism in the US would die overnight.

      • Rev. Wazoo! says

        @Peter from OZ and @ ccscientist
        Conflating culture with race seems especially strong in America – a very large, somewhat isolated place. Discussions of “blacks” mean “American blacks” and even typically “American urban blacks” and try to draw racial conclusions (positive or negative) from this small subset of the world’s population of blacks when culture seems much more important than race.

        This is one reason why stats of black immigrants are often ignored; Nigerian and Caribbean immigrants doing well in the US don’t fit the narratives of color-based barriers.

  35. Sydney says

    “Conservatives too, as noted in the introduction, are almost certainly selective blank slatists. They appear, for example, to be more skeptical that mental illnesses, drug addiction, and sexual orientation are caused by genetics.”

    In the case of ‘mental illness,’ all political stripes have fallen for the successful grift of the psychiatric guild and of pharma manufacturers.

    There’s no hard science or conclusive evidence whatsoever on what ‘mental illness’ is or is not; not even that it’s ‘mental,’ or ‘illness.’ Diagnosis is made via check-list, and treatment is scattershot and by-guess-and-by-golly. But because it’s done by MDs, consumers believe it’s science-based. Even the APA walked back the seratonin-imbalance theory as ‘urban legend’ and ‘metaphor.’

    Progressives make it into a victim-identity issue (‘Don’t stigmatize them! It’s a disease!’) while conservatives tend to be more stoic and individualistic about it (‘The law must compel them to take their meds’). But they all fall for it.

  36. MRM says

    There is a big difference between “Every man or woman has the same innate ability for mathematics” and “Men and women have the same innate ability for mathematics”. The article appears to start discussing the first and end discussing the second assumption. This is important as there is plenty scientific evidence against the first hypothesis, but, as far as I´m aware, zero scientifc evidence against the second hypothesis. Skewed sex rations in STEM are likely no by-product of ability, but rather inclination to work in the field. Which in turn may very well be genetically determined.

  37. Joana George says

    I’m missing the link between the data and the conclusions. The data only says that less than 4% of people are blanck-slatists on an issue (130 out of 327x). The data shown here can just as well be interpreted as: “The vast majority of people across the political spectrum believe in a combination of genetic and environmental factors.”

    The question about whether differences between men and women are only due to sexism shows by far the highest variation from the selection. Even for that question, the average answer for progressives is under 5, thus significantly closer to “somewhat agree” (4) than “completely agree”. Coincidentally, 130 of the progressives polled answered 1-3 (38,36 and 56 respectively) to that question, so they mostly disagree with it. Maybe there is some room for discussion after all…

  38. Pingback: Selective Blank Slatism – EarlyNotions.WordPress.Com

  39. Stepping back to an even more fundamental view of the situation, we have to recognize that, on occasion, we feel it right to see and be seen as “equal” and that at other times we find it best to be treated or treat others as “not-equal.”

    For example, parents seem biologically predisposed to “loving” all their children equally … while not necessarily loving all children equally.

    Are all children everywhere equally worth loving? Or only equally worth loving by their parents? We certainly DO NOT love all children as much as our own. Is this wrong? Or is this biologically advantageous?

    There is a part of us that finds morality in equality and another part that finds morality in “distinction” or “superiority” or “promotion” all of which are synonyms for inequalities.

    Each of us has liberal tendencies that drive us to strive for equality in all things … while we also share a conservative tendency that pushes us to seek distinction in merit, value, and seeking to know the better from the worse.

    Though some of us are more reliably “liberal” (promoting equality) and others more often “conservative” (promoting merit and distinction) we ALL have the ability to see things in both ways, and we ALL apply one or the other moral outlook to every situation we face — trying to decide which is best.

    Before we discuss whether a person or a group is equal or unequal by nature or nurture we are well served to recognize that the tendencies to see or prefer one or the other outcome (equal/unequal) often reveals the (liberal/conservative) moral outlook we are trying to apply to the situation.

  40. S. Cheung says

    So this study is based on a compilation of 8 studies that accrued responses from a total of 3300-ish turk workers….crowd-sourced from where? Paid how much to take these surveys? Prevented from taking the surveys more than once how? Were the surveys geo-fenced to just the US? In other words, who were these respondents and what sort of responder biases did they bring with them?

    Also, for all the parsing of the responses, (and authors should be commended for running vigorous stats and providing detailed tables in the paper), the average difference in the mean responses between “conservatives” and “liberals” over the 18 questions was 1.27. That was a statistically significant difference. But is it really a meaningful real world difference? What does a 1.27 difference over 18 questions on a semi-quantitative 7-point scale actually mean? Is that really sufficient to conclude that “progressives” are selectively blank slatists when it comes to certain things, when self reporting of little more than 1 step in the other direction makes you indistinguishable on average from “conservatives”?

      • Jack B. Nimble says

        @S. Cheung

        Good point. With a large enough sample size, even trivially small differences can be shown to be statistically significant.

  41. Caz says

    This entire thing comes down to your views on responsibility and the legitimacy of authority. I can’t believe this is so hard to figure out when there’s so much mental work going into this for so many people. Leftists don’t want peoplee at the bottom of the social order to be responsible for where they end up, so they would rather blame prejudiced authorities, letting those people off the hook. They will switch to saying that genetic differences matter when convenient for the same ends: its not a gay persons fault they’re gay, because circumstance like hormones or genetics. This keeps anyone from saying those prone should be held in any way responsible for creating and continuing a genetically linear family, which has gone from an expectation to a lifestyle choice in one lifetime.

    People at the bottom are victims, they have a right to be considered equal, those who try to hold them responsible to traditional social standards and expectations are evil, and those who are at the top are lucky, nothing more. That’s the worldview underlying the views. That’s what they will care to prove. This isn’t hard. And being a conservative who tries to place empathy over responsibility is aligning themselves with it.

  42. A. Mau says

    Wow. I thought the nature v nurture debate had been resolved in that we now know that both play a role. Some genetic traits need environmental triggers to appear while environment at times can suppress other traits. That said, there are genetic traits that seem to be unaffected by environment – for example eye color. Nature and nurture are so complex that it is ridiculous to try to blame one or the other for all disparity. I think it must be emotion trumping reason than makes otherwise intelligent people revert to simplistic answers; either that or they are just intellectually lazy. But I really think it has more to do with emotional investment than anything else.

  43. Lightning Rose says

    I think the basic problem for progressives is that the nature of the universe refuses to conform to their specifications, engendering endless frustration. Conservatives are more apt to accept the world as it is, and find their place in it comfortably. You tell me which side is more neurosis-ridden.

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