Friday, August 29, 2008

Who is Against Evolution?

"And the religious right has been the chief force against teaching evolution."
(Quoted from Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Lousiana University philosophy professor and prominent critic of creationist science.)

It's a widespread view, but true in only a narrow sense. People who say they are against teaching the theory of evolution are very likely to be Christian fundamentalists. But people who are against taking seriously the implications of evolution, strongly enough to want to attack those who disagree, including those who teach those implications, are quite likely to be on the left.

Consider the most striking case, the question of whether there are differences between men and women with regard to the distribution of intellectual abilities or behavioral patterns. That no such differences exist, or if that if they exist they are insignificant, is a matter of faith for many on the left. The faith is so strongly held that when the president of Harvard, himself a prominent academic, merely raised the possibility that one reason why there were fewer women than men in certain fields might be such differences, he was ferociously attacked and eventually driven to resign.

Yet the claim that such differences must be insignificant is one that nobody who took the implications of evolution seriously could maintain. We are, after all, the product of selection for reproductive success. Males and females play quite different roles in reproduction. It would be a striking coincidence if the distribution of abilities and behavioral patterns that was optimal for one sex turned out to also be optimal for the other, rather like two entirely different math problems just happening to have the same answer.

The denial of male/female differences is the most striking example of left wing hostility to the implications of Darwinian evolution, but not the only one. The reasons to expect differences among racial groups as conventionally defined are weaker, since males of all races play the same role in reproduction, as do females of all races. But we know that members of such groups differ in the distribution of observable physical characteristics--that, after all, is the main way we recognize them. That is pretty strong evidence that their ancestors adapted to at least somewhat different environments.

There is no a priori reason to suppose that the optimal physical characteristics were different in those different environments but the optimal mental characteristics were the same. And yet, when differing outcomes by racial groups are observed, it is assumed without discussion that they must be entirely due to differential treatment by race. That might turn out to be true, but there is no good reason to expect it. Here again, anyone who argues the opposite is likely to find himself the target of ferocious attacks, mainly from people on the left.

Next consider the whole nature/nurture debate, in which the left has, for half a century or more, mostly taken a strong pro-nurture position. It is hard to see how humans could have evolved intelligence if intelligence is not heritable.

Finally, consider the question of how maleable human nature is or isn't. It is not logically impossible that we evolved as general purpose computers, with all details determined by the program, not the hardware. But it does not seem likely, given the obvious advantages of hardwiring in whatever rules worked in the environment where we evolved. Nor does it seem plausible given that most of our evolutionary history predates human rationality, making it likely that humans retain quite a lot of pre-human traits.

To be fair, one of the most important supporters of the evolutionary view in this particular context is also a prominent left wing intellectual: Noam Chomsky. His professional reputation, after all, was largely due to convincing arguments for the proposition that human linguistic abilities were to a large extent hardwired. I am sure he is not the only example; it is possible to defend conclusions, left, right, libertarian, or other in a variety of different ways. Not everyone on the left rejects the conclusions of evolution, any more than all Christians do.

Nonetheless, I think there is a pretty clear pattern. Almost everyone on the left believes that he believes in evolution. Yet I find it hard to think of any proposition popular on the left that is deduced from that belief. And, as I think I have shown, important dogmas of much of the left are inconsistent with it.

[An interesting discussion of evidence and theory on male/female differences is webbed here.]

99 Comments:

At 10:52 PM, August 29, 2008, Anonymous Tom Courtney said...

Yet I find it hard to think of any proposition popular on the left that is deduced from that belief.

I wonder if the welfare state can be viewed as an expanded version of tribal altruism.

 
At 11:18 PM, August 29, 2008, Anonymous Damien Neil said...

The proposition that evolution should be taught in schools, and creationism should not be?

An obvious one, to be sure, but also somewhat significant.

 
At 11:23 PM, August 29, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

Tom is offering an evolutionary explanation for left wing policies, not an example of people on the left believing something because they believe in evolution.

Damien has a better candidate. But of course, they don't argue for teaching politically incorrect implications of evolution. And their support for teaching evolution could be interpreted as a way of undermining traditional religious belief, something they are pretty clearly in favor of.

 
At 5:17 AM, August 30, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are assuming that people on the left make ANY arguments deduced from reason and logic. Or wait, does this apply to the right!?! Oh, f.....!

 
At 7:32 AM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Steamboat Lion said...

Why do we have to have these inane arguments about whether the left or the right are at greater fault?

Anonymous @ 5.17 am has hit the nail on the head. The unfortunately reality is that the overwhelming majority of Americans start with the conclusions they like and then try to filter the world to fit no matter how much reality needs to be distorted to do so!

I could just as easily ask you to name me a policy that's highly popular on the right that's based on a rigorous process of reasoning informed by hard data?

 
At 8:14 AM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Russell Hanneken said...

Don Boudreaux has argued that left wingers make a mistake analogous to creationism when they assume social order can't emerge without conscious design.

 
At 10:01 AM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

you're assuming that hostility to public discussion about evolutionary differences between social classes entails not taking implications of evolution seriously. that's a mistake. whether there's a reasonable possibility of hereditary cognitive differences between men and women or between races is a different question from whether it's appropriate for summers to make the kind of remarks he made in the context in which he made them, or whether it's appropriate in a highly racist society to engage in a discussion of heredity, race and intelligence. i think many leftists are rather like me - they assume that hereditary mental differences between the sexes exists, that it's at least plausible that there are hereditary cognitive differences that correlate (undoubtedly weakly) with the construct of race, and that it does much more evil than good to have discussions about it in our highly sexist, highly racist, highly ignorant and irrational society.

 
At 12:10 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

Disgruntled Goat might want to look at the Orwell essay on the general question--whether it is a good thing to deliberately promote falsehood or conceal truth for the fear that the truth will play into the hands of the enemy. It's in the four volume collection of letters and essays.

Orwell's chief example is English left wingers concealing the murderous nature of Stalin's regime for fear that admitting it would help conservatives. But the argument is more general than that.

 
At 12:26 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

I'm curious, by the way, as to how Disgruntled Goat would react to the same argument he offers, from the other side.

Suppose a conservative explains that of course he realizes that evolution is true, but belief in it undercuts religious belief by eliminating the strongest argument for the existence of God (the watchmaker argument). Religious belief may possibly be false, but it produces good results, since it gives people a reason not to kill, steal, lie, etc.

Hence, the conservative argues, creationism ought to be taught even though false, evolution suppressed even though true, and if only enough people agreed with him they could punish any public figure who suggested that evolution might be true by the sort of ferocious attacks used to punish Summers.

Would Goat regard that as a legitimate and morally acceptable argument, to be disputed only in terms of whether or not religious belief produced good effects?

 
At 3:56 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

i think i've read the orwell essay, but i should probably reread it, especially as i seem to disagree with him, if you're right and the principle generalizes. besides, one can never read too much orwell.

with respect to the conservative hypothetical, i would protest that the analogy is flawed, since in the real world, we know with near certainty that public debate about these issues are very damaging, and can only speculate whether they are correct, and that if they are, they might produce some benefit; while in the hypothetical, we are speculating that the suppression of evolution provides some benefit by preserving religious authority, while we know with near certainty that evolution is true. so the risk/cost/benefit analysis is different in the two situations.

as a general moral matter, i think a truth whose propagation is more harmful than good probably ought to be suppressed. e.g. if i discovered how to build a super-strong bomb capable of destroying the world but giving rise to no benefit, suppressing it seems like the right thing to do. that's an extreme example, but i think the principle is general.

 
At 4:15 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"as a general moral matter, i think a truth whose propagation is more harmful than good probably ought to be suppressed. e.g. if i discovered how to build a super-strong bomb capable of destroying the world but giving rise to no benefit, suppressing it seems like the right thing to do. that's an extreme example, but i think the principle is general."

As in lots of other cases, I think you have to distinguish two rather different questions:

1. Could there be truths that would be better suppressed?

I think the answer has to be yes, as in your bomb example.

2. Is it desirable for people to decide which truths should be suppressed and suppress them?

Now it becomes much more dubious--because if the principle is accepted, the consequence is not only the possible suppression of truths that ought to be suppressed, supposing there are ones. It is also the suppression of truths that ought not to be suppressed by people who think they should be.

Consider Orwell's example. In England of the 30's and 40's, it was easy enough to believe that the truth about the Ukraine famine, the show trials, and the like ought to be suppressed. Yet it's hard, looking back, to think that suppressing it was a good thing.

This isn't only a matter of random errors in judgment, but also of bias. If, for instance, you have committed yourself to support of some policy or position and new evidence appears showing that you were wrong, it's very tempting to fudge up arguments for suppressing that evidence--with the possible result of not correcting serious mistakes. And the more successful the suppression is, the more other people will be led to incorrect conclusions.

So it may well be prudent to follow a policy of "the truth however painful."

If my basic argument isn't clear--hopefully it is--consider the following analogous two versions of question.

1. Are there people who it would be a good thing if someone murdered?

2. It it a good thing for each person to decide whether there is anyone who ought to be murdered and, if there is, murder him?

 
At 7:15 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

it seems pretty clear to me that in my bomb hypothetical, we would want the inventor to decide that he ought to suppress the truth. so the answer to your question 2 seems to be clearly yes.

the fact that some people, like orwell's english leftists in the '30's and '40's, will reach wrong conclusions doesn't mean that people should have no discretion to self-censor on the basis of perceived evil effects. i think it's fair to assume that most people, most of the time exercise good judgment, and leave it to their individual, circumstantial discretion whether to publicize their knowledge or not.

that goes double for situations where it's not knowledge but speculation, as in your original post.

as for the murder analogy, i think it's a misanalogy. suppressing oneself doesn't involve interfering with another's rights; murdering another does interfere with their right to life. i am against murder altogether, with extremely rare exceptions such as speluncean explorer-type situations, or a collaborator with the enemy in a population that's being ethnically cleansed (which is arguably self-defense and therefore not murder).

now if by "suppressing truth" we mean exercising censorship on others who wish to speak, then i'm against it, except again in rare situations such as my bomb example or informer example.

i've been assuming that this is not what we're talking about, since the original topic was the conduct of leftists with respect to speculation about evolution and group differences, which has not been censorship. mockery, disapproval, outrage, and the like are all non-censorious and in my view appropriate responses.

 
At 7:21 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Raphfrk said...

Surely, option 2 would be
"It it a good thing for *the government* to decide whether there is anyone who ought to be murdered and, if there is, murder him?"

This would depend on the situation. Unless you are fundamentally against the death penalty. There are some times when the government do just that.

The real problem is that unlike with executing a murder, you can't really have trials to determine if a piece of information should be suppressed, or you have effectively shot yourself in the foot.

Maybe there could be checks and balances before suppressing information, but given how important transparency is, I can't really see how it would work.

However, that is not true in all cases. In the bomb example, nuclear weapons are a real life super-weapon and technical details have been somewhat suppressed (though not entirely effectively).

People would agree that the details of the bomb are kept secret.

Also, most people will accept the need for classified data in general. However, in that case, there are issues with stuff being classified unnecessarily as it is embarrassing to someone or other.

 
At 7:39 PM, August 30, 2008, Anonymous Matsuzaki said...

The welfare state creates parasites and promotes the breeding of people with substandard abilities. This would seem to short-circuit the "survival of the fittest" process, leading to a population whose abilities decline over time. Isn't this another problem for the left-wing which believes in evolution? If we take away discipline by having government rush to the aid of everyone who makes a mistake, you will over time have a population whose abilities decline. Evolution won't care if you're not an efficient producer of things -- that will be taken care of by someone else. The most important selection criterion will be that you are an efficient producer of offspring. Under the reign of discipline, having a lot of offspring is difficult if you're not rich. Under the reign of the welfare state, it becomes easy for almost everyone.

 
At 8:29 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

matsuzaki: the scenario you present is not a problem for any leftist who doesn't accept:

1. that there ought to be a welfare state;

2. that the welfare state promotes the breeding of people with substandard abilities;

3. that this leads to a population whose abilities decline over time.

in other words, it will be a problem for virtually no leftist.

your reprehensible post illustrates why people with moral sense think it's a bad idea to have these sorts of discussions.

 
At 8:47 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

Disgruntled Goat argues first that the argument is about self-censorship not other censorship, then approves of attempts to shut other people up via mockery, disapproval, outrage and the like--in other words, other censorship, although not by the government.

To begin with, the mockery and outrage in practice involve lying, supposing that the people doing it share Goat's point of view. I didn't see anyone saying "Of course Summers may well be right, but such truths ought to be suppressed."

Beyond that, while I agree there is a moral difference between locking people up and making fun of them, I don't see a difference in terms of the logic of the argument I was offering. Summer's treatment clearly has the effect of making other people in his position afraid to say things that they consider true but know that others disapprove of--the same effect as state censorship would. They are ways of suppressing statements that some people wish not to have believed--not by the legitimate means of answering them but by making it costly to express them.

Orwell's essay wasn't directed at government censorship. It was directed at people on the left who tried to pretend that certain true statements were false, and tried to pressure other people on the left to do so.

 
At 9:28 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Dale said...

That no such differences exist, or if that if they exist they are insignificant, is a matter of faith for many on the left.

Oh please, if you're going to use those kind of people to represent the entire left, you might as well use Westboro Baptist to represent the entire right. You could have made a pretty good essay there, if you hadn't taken the cheap route of painting with a broad brush just so you could set up a straw man.

 
At 10:18 PM, August 30, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

we seem to agree (me and prof. friedman) that there's a moral difference between other-censorship through social pressure and other-censorship through government censorship. i think we both agree that government censorship should be reserved for extreme situations, if at all.

we disagree, it seems, about when it's appropriate to use non-government social pressure. i favor relatively liberal use, for example to stop people from engaging in speculation that is likely to cause significant harm. you, i gather, think that it's wrong to try to pressure people not to express things they think are true, even if their expression will be harmful.

maybe another scenario would help you to see things my way. suppose i'm living in germany in 1930. suppose i have a genuine belief that jews were overrepresented in banking and financial services in europe and that these sectors are largely parasitic on the productive economy. suppose that you share these beliefs, and also that you know that in germany at the time, my speaking up and saying these things will contribute to an atmosphere of jew-hatred and increase the risk to the jewish population.

(1) should i speak out, because i think what i have to say is true?

(2) should you let me speak, perhaps publicly agreeing with what i'm saying but adding that nonetheless racial hatred is wrong? or should you try to pressure me not to speak using some of the methods i listed?

 
At 10:19 AM, August 31, 2008, Anonymous Roderick T. Long said...

Until one actually confronts and addresses the many volumes of arguments and evidence (convincing ones, IMHO) that leftists give for thinking nurture dominates nature in the case of human beings (and that its doing so is in no conflict with evolution), simply asserting that this position is an article of faith sounds like ... an article of faith.

 
At 6:26 PM, August 31, 2008, Anonymous Kevin S. Van Horn said...

...whether there are differences between men and women with regard to the distribution of intellectual abilities or behavioral patterns. That no such differences exist, or if that if they exist they are insignificant, is a matter of faith for many on the left.

It seems to me that the left, for the most part, actually take for granted that there are significant intellectual and behavioral differences between the sexes... all of them favoring female superiority, of course.

Mothers are presumed to be essential to the well-being of children, while fathers are optional. Women are victims, men are aggressors. Women are virtuous and altruistic, men are selfish thugs. And on and on...

 
At 6:36 PM, August 31, 2008, Anonymous markm said...

Disgruntled Goat: "the scenario you present is not a problem for any leftist who doesn't accept:"

#1 is universally accepted by American leftists - the only alternative I've heard offered is to deliver the welfare by means of guaranteed jobs (which in practice, means regardless of competence or willingness to work).

#2 and #3 directly follow from evolutionary theory. (#2 wouldn't follow if welfare recipients were forced to limit their reproduction, but if I suggested that, I'd have leftists howling about "genocide".)

So, if that's "a problem for virtually no leftist", you must mean that they don't believe in evolution in practice.

 
At 6:40 PM, August 31, 2008, Anonymous Kevin S. Van Horn said...

Disgruntled Goat says:

i would protest that the analogy is flawed, since in the real world, we know with near certainty that public debate about these issues are very damaging, and can only speculate whether they are correct

How in the world can you claim that "we know with near certainty that public debate about these issues are very damaging"? That sounds to me more like an article of faith than a fact established with any degree of scientific rigor.

As to your second assertion, that's just plain false. We have nearly a century's worth of data telling us that, although mean intelligence for males and females are close to identical, the variance for male intelligence is larger. Not hugely larger, but enough so that the ranks of both geniuses and morons are largely populated by men.

 
At 10:12 PM, August 31, 2008, Anonymous albatross said...

The problem with disgruntled_goat's strategy is that you can never suppress just the one idea that you think is harmful. You end up suppressing related ideas that support the dangerous ones, as with the outcry over the approval of Bildil. (It's a medicine which apparently works much better for blacks than whites, and thus implies that the black/white racial groups have important innate biological differences.) You end up with media discussions of the black/white school performance gap that never mention the IQ gap. (IQ is oversold by its boosters, but it's really quite good at predicting school performance.)

Even worse, the mechanisms for suppressing unpalatable discussions regardless of facts or logic are constantly at hand, in a society in which they are used to suppress some unsavory-but-true ideas. It's almost inevitable that they'll be used to suppress ideas that just upset people, even if they're not especially harmful. They get used to silence uncomfortable discussions about our human rights record abroad, and our antiterror tactics both at home and abroad. They get used to silence discussions about, say, AIPAC's influence on our foreign policy.

Worst of all, though, those tactics discredit the people who use them. Those people are largely the scientific, media, academic, and government establishment. Few people can evaluate whether the anthropoligists or evolutionary biologists or nuclear engineers are doing their jobs honestly, but a lot of people can see that the "official line" from most establishment sources on, say, how much of gender roles are cultural is probably nonsense. That surely affects how much credence those establishment voices are given on issues where they're telling the truth. Lying about race, gender, or human nature may convince people you're also lying about the safety of vaccinations and global warming.

 
At 2:47 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

I agree that genetic and epigenetic differences occur among races and genders. I also agree that people "on the left" are often in denial or are hesitant to accept any evidence that sheds light on heritable differences among sexes or races. I must, however, bring up a couple of points related to the perceptions of these arguments on both the right and left. The first two are the twin elephants in the room of racism/sexism and eugenics.

I will treat these two as a single subject, because I believe the reasoning and argumentation is generally the same. I think many on the left fear any acceptance of the evaluation of group’s aptitude on a test as an extrapolation to a greater valuation of one worth. I also think this is not an unreasonable fear given not only the events of the holocaust, but also many other episodes of ethnic cleansing and racism.

Even though I am sure many on the right would disagree, I have heard even non-religious ‘libertarian’ conservatives bash those on the left for not putting value judgments on cultures, countries, etc. For example I may detest a practice such as female circumcision within another culture, yet I feel that I am not on high enough a thrown to be able to declare one culture better or worse than another.

Finally, depending on the survey, somewhere in the vicinity of half the United States population either ‘doesn’t believe in’ or is ambiguous in regards to the concept of evolution, more than the vast majority of democratic nations by far. The majority of these are also overwhelmingly Republican. This perspective too opens up the wound of racism. Creationists often blame Darwinism and evolution for atrocities such as the holocaust.

Given these elements I am not surprised that leftists deny elements of evolutionary theory. I don’t agree, and wish the dialog were more open.

 
At 7:28 AM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was leftists who created "science studies," a discipline which basically gives a green light to creationists (whether the science studies proponents admit it or not). If you think that science is incapable of achieving objective results, then there's no difference between evolutionary theory and creation science.

It also gives a green light to those of us who are skeptics of global warming.

JFP

 
At 7:35 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger USMale said...

Very good point.

But the semiquery at the end of your piece is answered by one of your own comments, I think.

Almost everyone on the left believes that he believes in evolution. Yet I find it hard to think of any proposition popular on the left that is deduced from that belief."

In your comment you note that evolution cuts at belief in God. That, I would suspect, is why so many on the left hold so tight to it.

 
At 7:48 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Sue Dee said...

I've noticed that this discussion has not included the ramifications of evolution and homosexuality.

 
At 8:30 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

I've always found several things about this argument amusing:

1) Leftists claim there is no "race," yet they can identify those, by race, who "need" programs like affirmative action

2) As mentioned here, they accept that different outcomes are ok for "whites"--i.e. rednecks in Appalachia are obviously dumber than rarefied upper West Siders, but if blacks (or women or Eskimos) have a different outcome, it's due to "racism" and "ignorance" on the part of whites.

3) If you (as a poster above does) that, say, men have a greater variance, especially in math abilities, than women, is it so difficult to accept that different races might also exhibit such traits?

4) We just got done with the Olympics. Somehow, once again, there was, I believe, a grand total of ONE non-sub-Saharan African descended medalist in the track sprints. Likewise there was, I believe ONE sub-Saharan-African swimming medalist. This prima facie evidence of racial differences has stared us in the face for decades, yet few talk about.

Is it not possible that if some races have differing physiologies leading to differing athletic abilities that similar intellectual differences can exist (admittedly at the edges--that's what the Bell Curve was all about)?

5) Supporting this argument, it has been widely chronicled that sub-Saharan Africans are almost always the only ones who get sickle cell anemia; Europeans are almost always the only ones who get cystic fibrosis, etc.

6) Finally, it is clear that Ashkenazi Jews lie so far out to the right on the IQ curve, that it is obviously an example of ethnic/racial/tribal differences. Again, if a group of Jews can exhibit this after only a couple thousand years of "evolution" (separation), why can't larger racial groups exhibit some differences after 50,000 years of being mostly separated?

 
At 8:32 AM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Geoff said...

Sue Dee asks about the evolutionary linkage to homosexuality. Human sexuality occurs along a continuum and some people have attractions to both men and women. It is nearly certain that these people will have children and the genetic element will continue to occur. I have recently seen speculation that male homosexuality is linked to the "X" (female) chromosome, which would also help conserve the trait. Biologically, if our ancestry goes back to species with cloacae rather than the genitalia we have now, that structure is poorly differentiated between males and females and might explain some of our sexual sensations and behavior.

 
At 8:34 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Kirk Parker said...

Dale,

"you might as well use Westboro Baptist to represent the entire right."

Oh, please, yourself--wouldn't that require Westboro Baptist to be of the right in the first place?

 
At 8:52 AM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous -Chris said...

Ironically, Chomsky's theory of "deep structures" for language in the brain have been almost totally disproven, and in fact, the more we study it, the more the brain does appear to be a general purpose computer, with its actual function determined by software. Howeevr, I do agree with the observations of this blog post.

 
At 9:21 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

"I also think this is not an unreasonable fear given not only the events of the holocaust, but also many other episodes of ethnic cleansing and racism."

It's often claimed that "scientific" belief in the inferiority of various groups is responsible for such events, but I'm skeptical. I raised the issue here a little less than a year ago:

http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/10/ethnic-cleansing-other-horrors-and.html

I don't think anyone in the comments provided a convincing example.

 
At 9:41 AM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Left/Right paradox doesn't just apply to biological evolution, but social orders. Whereas the Center-Right believe in individual dynamism and the evolution of a stable society, the Left believes that society must be shaped by an Intelligent Designer.

There are two kinds of thinking: simplistic and subtle. Simplistic thinkers cannot understand how complex and useful social orders arise from any source other than conscious planning by a purposeful mind. Subtle thinkers, in contrast, understand that individual actions often occur within settings that encourage individuals to coordinate their actions with one another independent of any overarching plan. F. A. Hayek called such unplanned but harmonious coordination "spontaneous order."


The mark of the subtle mind is not only its ability to grasp the idea of spontaneous orders but also to understand that conscious attempts to improve or to mimic these orders are doomed to fail.

 
At 10:28 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Jaim Klein said...

. Could there be truths that would be better suppressed?

. Is it desirable for people to decide which truths should be suppressed and suppress them?


The questions are wrongly formatted. Is it desirable...? is a pointless question.

There are no general desirables, there is only "Is it desirable to me?"

If it is desirable to me - then it is desirable.

We are still are debating the problems that occupied the minds of Greek street philosophers. maybe they are unsolvable.

 
At 10:32 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger mtraven said...

Peter Singer wrote a book called A Darwinian Left that addresses precisely these issues. Whether it's had much influence on leftist thinking in general is questionable, but since he's one of the world's most prominent philosphers surely it has to count for something.

To quote a bit: A Darwinian left would not: deny the existence of a human nature, nor insist that human nature is inherently good...[would not] assume that all inequalities are due to discrimination, prejudice, oppression, or social conditioning....

 
At 10:49 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Nathan said...

David writes: "Suppose a conservative explains that of course he realizes that evolution is true, but belief in it undercuts religious belief by eliminating the strongest argument for the existence of God (the watchmaker argument)."

I don't agree that evolution undercuts the watchmaker argument. Evolution is a program that takes as inputs energy and struggle against an environment, and as output gives some (by no means all) of the wonders of nature, ourselves included. What is occurring here is still the transformation of solar energy and raw materials into much more complex and beautiful things. Yes, there's a structure to how this is done, and we've discovered part of it, but that isn't surprising at all. If you come across a watch in the street, along with a blueprint for watch manufacturing, do you conclude there's no watchmaker? I would say evolution just tells us something about how God made the world, rather than telling us he doesn't exist.

 
At 11:11 AM, September 01, 2008, OpenID imaginarypolitics said...

David,

the link you provide at the end is broken.

Goat,

Saying that the average IQ of two distinct groups is different should not be scandalous because it doesn't mean much at the individual level. It's like saying that the average American is republican just because they won the last elections. Suppose it were true that the average tall person was smarter than the average short person. It could still be the case that 40% of short people are smarter than the average tall person. I think the usefulness of acknowledging an IQ gap is that it makes you focus on the people that are above average within their group. Of course racists might use the gap demagogically, but people also like to root for the underdog. So wouldn't they balance out?

 
At 11:31 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Chuck said...

Larry Summers made the comments that got him into trouble before an audience of people who had spent their careers measuring the effects about which he speculated. The most charitable way to describe this gaffe is that he was ill-informed and ill-prepared to talk on this subject. I'd be more inclined to use terms like "condescending" and "stupid".

To claim that "the liberals" have to take any of this on faith after seeing the results of analyzing the data collected over the past century is to project one's own anti-intellectual biases onto others.

 
At 11:57 AM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

matt, there's a lot of bad reasoning in your post.

1. if you're thinking about the claims that i'm thinking about, they are not claims that there is no race. it is a claim that the socially constructed notion of race is poor biological categorization for many purposes. the affirmative action argument you are referencing is based on the social category of race, which everyone agrees exists.

2, leftists assert that white appalachians are genetically cognitively different as a group from some other groups of whites? that's news to me. if that's what you're claiming, have you got a citation?

3. two problems here. you're presupposing without evidence that leftists don't believe in the possibility of a difference between races; and you're reasoning from genetic cognitive differences between men and women, for which there is a pretty reasonable basis for speculation because of different reproductive roles, to possible racial differences, for which there's no compelling basis for speculation. see prof. friedman's post.

4. it's interesting how few olympic sprinting medalists are actually from subsaharan africa. if there was an olympic sprinting medal gene endemic to the sub-saharan african "race", oughtn't it to be an even distribution throughout members of the race? is the unnatural selection of the slave trade perhaps playing a role? or cultural/economic self-selection for these sorts of activities?

5. clearly characteristics like the sickle cell gene are hereditary and can be roughly attributed on a racial basis. i don't think you'd find any leftist questioning that.

6. weren't ashkenazim at the left end of the curve 100 years ago? this is a case where prof. friedman is correct: leftists are skeptical that IQ measures a heritable trait.

chris: i wonder what the basis for your statement is. when i studied linguistics, not that long ago, the evidence that i saw strongly suggested that language was hard-wired and separate from other cognitive abilities. for example, there's no correlation between mental retardation and linguistic competence in adults (i don't mean things like size of one's vocabulary or being well-spoken; i mean being able to use the rules of language to construct proper sentences). there's also the fact that knowledge of language is unconscious and not susceptible to introspection, while our general cognitive processes, like thinking about a political issue, are often conscious and subject to introspection.

 
At 12:01 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

imaginarypolitics,

you nailed it when you said "Of course racists might use the gap demagogically." that's the concern. i don't think that the phenomenon of rooting for the underdog safely extends to members of a privileged group rooting for members of a trod-upon group. i just don't think it's worked that way historically.

 
At 12:13 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Karl said...

Stephen Jay Gould liked to say that "human equality is a contingent fact of history." If closely related branches of the hominid tree had not died out, we could have had species of Homo that were obviously human, and obviously inferior to H. sapiens. These inferior species might well have become slave species.

However, it should be noted that Gould was in the forefront of rejecting any possibility of differences in mental ability between different groups of H. sapiens. Consider, there are many groups of humans on this planet where genetic drift has resulted in noticeable physical differences: skin color, hair type, build, susceptibility to diseases, and so forth. That these accumulated genetic differences have had no effect on mental ability and character traits is a contingent fact of history....

....which has not been proven.

 
At 12:28 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Syl said...

Recently I've encountered several souls in the activist global warming catastrophe camp who don't seem to believe in evolution at all! Humans are considered outsiders rather than a dynamic part of nature. The idea of utopia seems to be a planet without humankind, except for themselves as observers, of course.

And here I sit knowing I share dna with my cat and wonder at it all.

 
At 12:46 PM, September 01, 2008, OpenID imaginarypolitics said...

Goat,

Suppose the following is true "women are on average not as fast runners than men" (I don't actually know). We still root for female runners when they're trying to break their world record. It seems to me that sexists who might exploit the fact that women have slower 100-meter dash times, are largely outnumbered by people who simply root for excellence.

 
At 2:32 PM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Jim G said...

"There is no a priori reason to suppose that the optimal physical characteristics were different in those different environments but the optimal mental characteristics were the same."

Yes there is. Can you identify any environment inhabited by pre-modern humans that favoured the evolution of stupidity? Ingenuity, adaptability, the ability to perceive, understand and communicate - these are useful anywhere. Dark skin or white skin - these are not.

You should also have a think about whether the number of genes involved in the determination of skin colour is likely to be as many as those involved in the determination of the heritable component of intelligence. This matters given humans evolved from a common ancestor alive some 5,000 - 10,000 years ago.

 
At 4:42 PM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This matters given humans evolved from a common ancestor alive some 5,000 - 10,000 years ago.

You're off by a factor of 10-20 here.

 
At 6:01 PM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dogma, whether it be on the left or the right, is the same: it places "given" truth of a theory ahead of empirical observations and reality. It is only the degree of that rejection of empiricism and the corrections it offers that differentiates the extremism of the dogma.

 
At 6:52 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

"'And the religious right has been the chief force against teaching evolution.'
(Quoted from Barbara Forrest, a Southeastern Lousiana University philosophy professor and prominent critic of creationist science.)

It's a widespread view, but true in only a narrow sense."

This isn’t really true in only a “narrow sense.” Many Christian fundamentalists believe some variant on the belief of evolution as some sort of conspiracy of the anti-religious or the devil itself… That is a disregard of evolution in a not-very-narrow sense. Again, its true that there are aspects of evolution “leftists” do not wish to discuss, but that is a far cry from saying they are more ‘anti-evolution.’

”Yet the claim that such differences must be insignificant is one that nobody who took the implications of evolution seriously could maintain.”

Yet one who seriously takes the implications of evolution seriously could be highly skeptical of the ability to derive over arching pronouncements of genetically inherited ability. The mechanisms of genetics as they relate to the expression of diseases is still not very well understood, let alone the extrapolation of the expression of ‘intelligence’ factors. The question of nature vs. nurture is also much more complex than originally believed. New information related to the expression of genes through epigenetics suggests that environmental factors can effect the expression of genes. Also if you look at our two closest ancestors the chimpanzee and bonobo, they both have drastically different social structures, and the roles the sexes play in them are very different.

 
At 7:09 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Marc said...

We disagree, it seems, about when it's appropriate to use non-government social pressure. i favor relatively liberal use, for example to stop people from engaging in speculation that is likely to cause significant harm.

You ignore the possibility that not having these conversations will also lead to social harm.

You use a 1930s Germany analogy, but I think a more relevant one might be: what if you lived in Germany today, and your government is trying to figure out what to do about the rock bottom birth rate. Someone notes that there are millions of people in the Africa with rather large families, so just invite them in. Of course, this idea presupposes that Nigerians and Germans are interchangeable, and if they are, maybe it will all work out. But what if they're not? What if the black-white IQ gap is as much a function of nature as it is of nurture? We know that low IQ correlates with a boatload of social pathologies. What would become of Germany if it became half-African over the course of the next 100 years? Would it go the way of Zimbabwe or South Africa?

You probably find these statements reprehensible. But the fact that you find them reprehensible doesn't mean that they don't reflect real possibilities.

 
At 7:19 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

"Almost everyone on the left believes that he believes in evolution. Yet I find it hard to think of any proposition popular on the left that is deduced from that belief. And, as I think I have shown, important dogmas of much of the left are inconsistent with it."

I don't think many try to justify views and policy positions on evolutionary grounds for multiple reasons. For one people have used ideas of survival of the fittest to support eugenic policies such as forced sterilization of the 'feableminded,' as well as those with genetic diseases such as hemophilia.

There is, in fact, a sense in which you can try to justify this with evolutionary theory. My main argument against being that humans are way too subjective and ignorant to successfully do natures work more efficiently than nature itself. Also our knowledge of genetics is limited and I don't think we are equipped to say who is more intelligent, more fit, etc. and who isn't. Also genetic variability provides protection in case of unforeseen diseases and environmental factors.

Many of these ideas of eugenics did come from the 'progressive' movement of the time... how to correlate that with the current left I won't go into.

Finally Peter Kropotkin, the Russian proponent of anarchist communism, tried to counter the ideas of survival of the fittest with mutualism. His contention was that too much emphasis was placed on this individualist struggle for survival and that many animals cooperate for survival.

 
At 7:22 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Mark Plus said...

Anonymous writes:

Whereas the Center-Right believe in individual dynamism and the evolution of a stable society, the Left believes that society must be shaped by an Intelligent Designer.

Leftist have just taken their cue from the ever-growing scale of intelligently designed systems created by corporations, run by people who don't care what intellectuals say they can or can't do when they want to make a profit. Wal-Mart doesn't get goods from factories in China to your local store shelf through a drunkard's walk, black swans or other current trendy distractions from understanding the way real economies get the job done.

 
At 7:24 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

"You ignore the possibility that not having these conversations will also lead to social harm."

no... i think that's part of what needs to be weighed.

"You use a 1930s Germany analogy, but I think a more relevant one might be: what if you lived in Germany today, and your government is trying to figure out what to do about the rock bottom birth rate. Someone notes that there are millions of people in the Africa with rather large families, so just invite them in."

well, that's a completely different (and remote) scenario. if that was the reality, many of my concerns about the possibly damaging consequences of reckless speculation would not be likely to be realistic, and the risk/benefit weighing would be different.

 
At 7:28 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Marc said...

you're reasoning from genetic cognitive differences between men and women, for which there is a pretty reasonable basis for speculation because of different reproductive roles, to possible racial differences, for which there's no compelling basis for speculation.

So... the ten to fifteen point black-white IQ gap that has persisted over the course of one hundred years of psychometric testing in spite of all environmental influences... that persists across all socioeconomic levels and even in the cases of transracial adoption... this isn't compelling basis for speculation?

The fact that those gene variants (rs2760118-C on SSADH, rs324650-T on CHRM2, and rs760761-C on DTNBP1, for example) which have been tied to IQ are not distributed evenly among the populations sampled in the Hapmap... this isn't compelling basis for speculation?

Let's see... you got one hundred years of psychometric testing and, now, the emergence of actual gene variants tied to high IQ which are not evenly distributed among the different hapmap populations (which, coincidentally, seem to have been chosen to coincide with traditional categories of race... how odd)... and you see no compelling reason?

Dude, what more do you need?

 
At 7:40 PM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Christopher Morris said...

"To be fair, one of the most important supporters of the evolutionary view in this particular context is also a prominent left wing intellectual: Noam Chomsky." Not clear that this is true. Chomsky is quite hostile to the kind of evolutionary thinking ("evolutionary psych") that David describes. A friend, who is very knowledgeable about Chomsky, once quipped that he is a Creationist, minus the Deity.

 
At 7:41 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Marc said...

weren't ashkenazim at the left end of the curve 100 years ago?

No. That's an urban legend. Although if you have managed to find an elusive study which no one else seems to have managed to find, I would love to see it.

this is a case where prof. friedman is correct: leftists are skeptical that IQ measures a heritable trait.

Then there are no leftist population geneticists, by your definition. IQ is between 40% and 80% heritable. This is not even up for debate.

"Data from more than 8000 parent-offspring pairs, 25,000 sibling pairs, 10,000 twin pairs and adoption studies provide evidence that genetic factors play a substantial role in the variation of general intelligence, with heritability estimates ranging from 40 to 80%" --Burdick et al, Cognitive variation in DTNBP1 influence general cognitive ability. Human Molecular Genetics, 2006, Vol 15, No. 10.

"Heritability estimtes for intelligence quotient (IQ) range from 0.50 to 0.80. This makes IQ a suitable target for attempts to identify the specific genes involved." Chorney et al, Role of the cholinergic muscarinic 2 receptor (CHRM@) gene in cognition. Molecular Psychiatry (2003) 8. 10-13.

"A substantial body of literature from twin, family and adoption studies documents significant genetic effects on human intelligence. Heritability estimates range from 40 to 80% and meta-analyses suggest an overall heritability of around 50%" Dick et al, (2006) "Association of CHRM2 with IQ: Converging Evidence for Genes Influencing Intelligence." Behavioral Genetics.

"Multivariate genetic analyses indicate that general intelligence is highly heritable, and that the overlap in the cognitive processes is twice as great as the overall phenotypic overlap, with genetic correlations averaging around .80."
Plomin et al (2004) "A functional polymorphism in the succinate-semialdehyde dehydrogenase genes is associated with cognitive ability," Molecular Psychology 9, 582-586.

I could go on but you get the point. You leftists really are as bad as Creationists, in your own pious way.

 
At 7:43 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Marc said...

well, that's a completely different (and remote) scenario. if that was the reality, many of my concerns about the possibly damaging consequences of reckless speculation would not be likely to be realistic, and the risk/benefit weighing would be different.

Hmm. All right since I kind of flew off the handle at you there let me backpedal and say I appreciate this reasoned response.

 
At 8:01 PM, September 01, 2008, Anonymous Matsuzaki said...

Although you can find extreme hypotheticals in which most people would say that true speech should be suppressed, they are not illuminating as to whether speech about group differences in ability should be suppressed in our present society. Every case is different. To prove that we should suppress speech about group differences in ability, you would need to consider that case in detail. One problem with such a proof is that it would prominently mention the theory to be suppressed (inferiority of some group), giving that theory all the more publicity. If you consider that the theory to be suppressed is wrong, you would normally just state that it is wrong. The fact that you go to the trouble of saying that the theory should be suppressed even if true suggests that you believe the theory, yourself. Thus, the argument that the theory should be suppressed lends credence to the theory itself.

It is very hard to prove that the truth should be suppressed in many real-life cases. For example, the US has anti-discrimination laws saying that company racial make-up should reflect the racial make-up of the community. The implicit assumption is that employees of different races are equally productive. If that assumption is wrong, the whole law is founded on a misconception. If we have to keep quiet about certain theories, we will, in our ignorance, create some very inefficient systems.

If you believe a certain theory is true, but you think it should be suppressed, you're in a difficult situation. Assuming that you don't want to lie, how do you respond when asked what you think about the theory? You would have to refuse to answer. But a refusal to answer looks suspiciously like you agree with theory. In the present dialog, Goat said that some of these theories are correct, but we don't say so in public. He had to admit the truth of such a theory, thus promoting its acceptance by the public!

If you want to refute a theory to be suppressed, you need to examine the evidence impartially. How do we impartially investigate such theories when we're committed to suppressing them in the event that they prove true? Clearly, suppressing the truth generates the same "tangled web" as when we lie.

David Friedman has extreme hypotheticals about when property rights can be violated (expropriating someone's rifle to shoot a homicidal maniac). Yet, in general, respect for property rights is a pillar of civilization itself. It's hard to formulate absolute propositions in the social sciences.

Despite some highly unlikely hypotheticals to the contrary, in almost all cases, we want to publicize the truth, even if it's inconvenient for someone.

 
At 8:37 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

I'm not sure where it is posted but somebody claimed that since those who are ethnically Eurasian score higher on IQ tests that that proves they are not biased, or something to that effect.

I would just like to point out that this doesn't logically follow. For instance I could have someone tailor a test to my specific strengths or weaknesses, yet this doesn't guarantee that someone else will not out-perform me. The test would still be said to have a bias.

 
At 9:24 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

"So... the ten to fifteen point black-white IQ gap that has persisted over the course of one hundred years of psychometric testing in spite of all environmental influences... that persists across all socioeconomic levels and even in the cases of transracial adoption... this isn't compelling basis for speculation?"

no. environmental differences have not been eliminated, and probably could not be until social attitudes changed. we know that performance on cognitive tasks is impacted by self-perception, which in tun is influenced by how others perceive us.

"The fact that those gene variants (rs2760118-C on SSADH, rs324650-T on CHRM2, and rs760761-C on DTNBP1, for example) which have been tied to IQ are not distributed evenly among the populations sampled in the Hapmap... this isn't compelling basis for speculation?"

possibly. i know virtually nothing about the gene map, but i'm skeptical. do we know that IQ is an accurate proxy for hereditary cognitive ability? are these genes the only ones linked to IQ?

"I could go on but you get the point. You leftists really are as bad as Creationists, in your own pious way."

okay, now you're just being an idiot. there's a scientific consensus against creationism, and evolution is pretty much a logical necessity given heritability, mutation and competition. there's no scientific consensus in favor of a hereditary basis for race differences in cognitive ability, and there is no logical necessity that it exist.

 
At 9:35 PM, September 01, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

"Hmm. All right since I kind of flew off the handle at you there let me backpedal and say I appreciate this reasoned response."

oh... in that spirit i take back the "idiot" comment. i can accept that you just made an anger-fueled inappropriate comment. i've certainly been guilty of such things myself. and you must understand that use of language like "you leftists" is pretty upsetting to an individualist like myself.

 
At 3:28 AM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Jim G said...

Whoops, I meant 5,000 to 10,000 generations, not years - thanks Anonymous.

 
At 6:09 AM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes there is. Can you identify any environment inhabited by pre-modern humans that favoured the evolution of stupidity? Ingenuity, adaptability, the ability to perceive, understand and communicate - these are useful anywhere. Dark skin or white skin - these are not.

We continually forget that the only behavior evolutionary pressure actually favors is breeding--everything else is secondary at best.

As a species becomes more adapted to it's environment, as it fits more and more perfectly into it's niche, it's patterns become more set. Its need for adaptive behavior withers(largely because that takes energy away from the desired trait--breeding) Thought moves into instinct levels.

The adaptive cogitation we call 'intelligence' is abandoned in favor of spawning power.

So yes, evolution favors 'stupidity' when it is the path to more breeding.

Human variants who've had longer to adapt to their environment will show a decrease in adaptive cogitation and an increase in fecundity--because an increase in breeding power is what evolution favors.

Intelligence was the friend of evolution--now we use it to convince ourselves that we are a blight on nature, that we shood not breed. Think it's gonna stick around? The 'smart' are already extinguishing themselves.

And, Disgruntled Goat, you ARE as bad as a Creationist--note that this statement does not support creationism in any way--it merely equates your beliefs to theirs. You accept so much on blind faith--so much that is contradicted by the simple evidence of your eyes. You cling to statements made by authorities as if their display of stupidity means that you are right because your point has support.

I weep for SJ Goulds' asinine comments on race--PC piety that undermines a lifetime of solid work.

But, like the faithful Creationist, truth must be suppressed to maintain the faith.

jack

 
At 9:50 AM, September 02, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

Jim G writes:

"Can you identify any environment inhabited by pre-modern humans that favoured the evolution of stupidity? Ingenuity, adaptability, the ability to perceive, understand and communicate - these are useful anywhere. Dark skin or white skin - these are not.

This point was also posted on another blog, responding to my post here. I answered it there and thought I might as well repeat the answer here:

If it were as simple as “intelligence is always valuable,” why isn’t everyone at the upper limit, whatever it is? The answer has to be that intelligence has costs, whether tradeoffs in design—think sports car vs sedan, where you get high performance at the cost of high chance of failure—or tradeoffs due to the conflict between the “objectives” of our genes and our own objectives. If you are smart enough, you might figure out how to promote your own welfare at a cost in your reproductive success.

Once you realize that optimal design for reproductive success involves tradeoffs of one sort or another, it’s pretty obvious that just what design is optimal depends on the environment.

Or in other words, you might as well be asking why cars don’t all have the acceleration of a ferrari, the repair record of a Honda, and the gas mileage of a Prius.

 
At 11:07 AM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Matt said...

Goat. You're being a little silly.

"Actually from sub-Saharan Africa"? Please. No, their descendents in the West Indies and the US dominated, but sprinters from Nigeria, Ghana, etc have done well too. What you DON'T see are European/Asian (descended) sprinters dominating at the world level. Period. Furthermore, it's fascinating that a couple tribes from highland Kenya and Ethiopia have dominated the distance races for quite some time, although there's more variability here.

It's interesting that you propose a slavery "explanation" for these groups' outperformances in the sprints...So if their physiology could have changed through "slave selection," in a mere 300 years, their intellectual abilities could not have over thousands of years??? You accept that different ethnicities have different disease predispositions, but again, despite clear heritability of intelligence, it's absolutely impossible that these same groups that you accept have different gene frequences could have different gene frequencies that lead to different IQ distributions???

As to my commentary on Appalachia, etc, if you could read, you'd realize I was commenting on leftists acceptance of differing abilities/outcomes for whites, Asians, etc. but when blacks or Hispanics have different outcomes, it "must be" due to social racism. Perhaps the consistent gap isn't due to racism. This gap persists through all social strata and is so pronounced that poor whites consistently outscore middle and upper class black children (raised in nice neighborhoods, etc). Why is that?

Somehow whites in the 1920's or thereabouts designed IQ tests that put Asians on top decades later (when there were enough Asians tested). Brilliant. Silly me, why isn't it obvious that those whites were RACIST!!!!

You can accept that there might be an evolutionary advantage for, say, men to score better on spatial relationships and women on verbal skills, yet you can't accept that there might have been pressures on other ethnic groups for IQ? A long-term pressure on literacy in Jews or Chinese (thousands of years) couldn't have done anything?

 
At 1:38 PM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not really interested in the political stuff.

However, people never take their thoughts to the logical extreme when it comes to discussing these issues.

On the question of homosexuality, no one who proposes a genetic explanation for it deals seriously with the enormous reduction in reproductive fitness it entails. Moreover, very few people seem to understand that there must be potential mate recognition modules in the brains of all mammals, and one of the factors involved in the calculation of who is a potential mate is the recognition of members of the opposite sex. If this module had developed in a faulty fashion (and we have evidence from homosexual rams and elsewhere that this is a good explanation) then we are simply dealing with developmental faults.

People also fail to consider many of these issues in the context of the problems that individuals of each gender have to solve during their lives. It is very clear that human male and female behavior has evolved in the context of existing, and different, male and female strategies for achieving their life goals, and that these evolved behavioral strategies have evolved in the face of certain realities that are often elided from any discussions:

1. Differing variances. That is, females are much more alike in their value to the opposite sex and many more females will pass on their genes than males. We have good evidence for that. Baumeister points out that something like only 50% of males pass on their genes, while more than 80% and likely 90% of females will pass on their genes. Under those circumstances there is enormously more selective pressure on males to get themselves into the 50% that do pass on their genes, but there is also selective pressure on females to recognize who the duds are and filter them out.

2. Risks. Males and females carry differing risks and it varies by environment. For females in many geographies, but not all, the assistance of one (or more, if they can swing it) males is paramount to successfully raising their offspring to reproductive age, and being tricked by males into offering access to their reproductive and then having those males desert them is a sure-fire way to remove your genes from the pool. However, for males, being tricked by females into entering into a long-term relationship only to have the female produce children from another man is another sure-fire way to remove your genes from the pool.

3. Over and above that we are a social species and we typically live in large social groups, and we have to develop skills in adopting the group culture while avoiding being manipulated by creators of culture, and, if we can manage it, create culture of our own, as that is a sure-fire way to improved reproductive success.

Life sure is complex, but the guardians of political culture, both left and right, want only simple messages ...

 
At 3:12 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Not bad winner truth said...

transracial adoption cannot necessarily be considered to eliminate environmental factors. Epigenetics has been shown to effect the expression of genes in animals multiple generations down the line.

 
At 3:23 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

anonymous @6:09 am"

"And, Disgruntled Goat, you ARE as bad as a Creationist--note that this statement does not support creationism in any way--it merely equates your beliefs to theirs. You accept so much on blind faith--so much that is contradicted by the simple evidence of your eyes. You cling to statements made by authorities as if their display of stupidity means that you are right because your point has support."

my belief that there's not scientific consensus for the proposition that there's a genetic difference in cognitive ability among races is not based on blind faith, but on taking a quick look at what scholars in an area that i have no training in have been saying. stephen jay gould's dissent alone would be enough to give me pause, given his reputation, but i know he's not the only skeptic.

if the conclusion you support is so obvious as the be the "simple evidence of [my] eyes", then why has it been under study and argument for so many years? is the research community whose results you are referring to akin to creationists because they don't see the "simple evidence of [their] eyes"?

 
At 4:24 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

okay matt, here's where i admit that i didn't watch the olympics. i watched a couple of heats in which individuals of african descent from the U.S., britain and especially jamaica dominated, and the announcers went on and on about jamaica's overall dominance of the short track races. if you're right and african africans are as dominant as descendants of slaves outside africa, then my speculation has no support.

notice "speculation". i did not, as you represent, make proposals or offer explanations. my remarks were clearly presented as speculation, in fact they were phrased as interrogatives. to answer your question, i think it is possible both that physical evolution could take place over 400 years and that cognitive evolution could take place over thousands. nothing i've said in this forum contradicts that. the difference between me and some of the others here is that i'm keeping open the possibility that nongenetic factors play a substantial, dominant or even exclusive role in accounting for perceived discrepancies.

on east african dominance of distance runs - the one explanation i've heard is environmental, having to do with training in high altitudes and the body's accommodation to these conditions by increasing oxygen supply, or accommodating to a lower oxygen supply.

re your remarks on appalachia: i actually read pretty well. your writing is either unclear or too subtle even for a good reader. if i understood your attempted point wrong, you're going to need to clarify it for me. your point about whites designing IQ tests in the '20's is similarly lost on me.

as for why "gap persists through all social strata and is so pronounced that poor whites consistently outscore middle and upper class black children (raised in nice neighborhoods, etc)" - if it's true, i could think of at least a couple of explanations - one is genetic predisposition, one is racism that causes blacks to see themselves as less able and then unconsciously perform to expectation. if i sat down and tried to dream up hypotheses, i'm sure i could come up with more. but why is this relevant?

 
At 5:29 PM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DG writes:


your point about whites designing IQ tests in the '20's is similarly lost on me.


I will speak slowly.

His point was that a bunch of so-called racists came up with IQ tests in the 20s. These tests, since they were designed by racists, were meant to make sure that whites came out on top.

Unfortunately, these racists didn't do such a good job, because Jews and East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) score higher on these tests than whites do.

Fancy that.

 
At 7:00 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

i see. so is the weird write up and the sarcasm a cover for the fact that the underlying argument is bad? or is it covering up the fact that it's not leading anywhere?

 
At 8:54 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Not bad winner truth said...

This is mainly directed towards marc. I was wondering how special cases such as autistic sevants, Jill Price, or special abilities like musical skills work into Spearman's 'g' theory? Also, how do other more abstract ideas of intelligence, such as the fact that highly intelligent physicists can have poor emotional intelligence. Also how does this relate to Myers-Briggs? I am not trying to attack your ideas and am honestly interested for what it is worth.

 
At 9:24 PM, September 02, 2008, Blogger Not bad winner truth said...

marc: how do you also explain the Flynn effect?

 
At 9:52 PM, September 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


if it's true, i could think of at least a couple of explanations - one is genetic predisposition, one is racism that causes blacks to see themselves as less able and then unconsciously perform to expectation.


When I see statements like this I realize that there are indeed morons in the world who do not know how natural selection works.

 
At 7:52 AM, September 03, 2008, Anonymous Joshua W. Burton said...

But people who are against taking seriously the implications of evolution … are quite likely to be on the left.

Thinking this over, I suspect there is an interesting political correlation going on here. Skepticism about the overwhelming evidence for Darwinian evolution, and a tendency to find this racialist handwave plausible, are both tied to weak quantitative thinking, which in turn correlates against the mythical g and therefore leans measurably right on the political axis. Our gentle host is, of course, an outlier; he could work through the following objection without difficulty, if it suited him.

The basic problem is one of timescales. People who think without numbers are constantly expecting to “catch Darwin in the act,” and when half-wings and half-eyes don’t turn up in the fossil record, they get tetchy about the whole evolutionary paradigm. A selective advantage of a half a percent is enormous; it comes and saturates in the geological blink of an eye. A selective advantage of a hundredth of a percent is unlikely; anything that fine-tuned is not going to keep pushing in the same direction long enough to get evolutionary traction, because some other selective pressure an order of magnitude larger will come along and swamp it. Thus, the natural timescale for selective pressures within the human genetic pool is on the order of a few hundred generations — roughly since the dawn of agriculture.

Anything much faster than that (like the Flynn effect) has got to be environmental or cultural; not even the totalitarian regimes of the 20c put enough evolutionary pressure on filling out forms to drive a worldwide IQ test increase of ten points or more per generation, and we also see the Flynn effect in countries where eugenics is a dirty word. Contrariwise, anything much older than that, such as the development of the human brain’s deep linguistic structures or spatial and quantitative reasoning skills, is no longer under evolutionary pressure. If it mattered to our reproductive fitness at the hunter-gatherer stage, we’ve all got it now, because even a tenth of a percent over 50k years will run the loser strains off the evolutionary tail.

If you want to see evolution within the human gene pool, you have to pick a trait like skin color that has built-in malleability over millennia — whenever we move somewhere cloudy, we lose it all over again — or else a trait like sickle-cell anemia (malaria is a regional disease), lactose tolerance or alcoholism resistance (cow-&-plow is less than 8k years old; beer is about the same, and wine is newer). Lactose tolerance has evolved four separate times since the ice melted, and we can still trace each variant of the gene from its geographical source. Greeks and Jews drink moderately and hold their liquor better than Swedes and Irishmen, who in turn do much better than Inuit and Maori, because fermented and then distilled spirits swept out of Araby so recently the genetic variation hasn’t been selected away. The last common human ancestor was about 4k years ago; twice that far back, and we’re all descended from everyone. Races are stable over that timescale only and precisely because the racial traits are the ones that confer no broad selective advantage; if they did, interracial leakage would propagate and saturate them. We are one species.

Sexual selection is more interesting: if neurological structures are sex-linked (as they surely are to some extent; consider color-blindness), systematic differences between male and female habits in the hunter-gatherer environment where human intelligence evolved could have led to stable sex differences in human cognition. Indeed, the Red Queen effect plausibly explains how we got these big brains in the first place: intraspecies competition drives much faster change than any external threat, because the bar keeps rising — consider the Irish elk, or bower birds. If we got smart and verbal primarily to chat each other up, and if the relevant genes happen to be sex-linked, there might be some genetic component to hokhma and binah (male cleverness and female intuition) after all.

However, any such effects are second-order. First, you would have to convincingly show that “intelligence,” Spearman’s g, exists as more than a statistical artifact, has some observable biostructural correlate, and is controlled by human genetic variation.

 
At 8:43 AM, September 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...


if neurological structures are sex-linked (as they surely are to some extent; consider color-blindness), systematic differences between male and female habits in the hunter-gatherer environment where human intelligence evolved could have led to stable sex differences in human cognition.


There you go again. You sounded so erudite, such an expert. Then you blew it.

Can you spot your error? Tell me about tetrachromats and what sex they are?

By the way, tell us how much selective pressure something like the Chinese imperial exam put on people, and how much increased reproductive success the mental capacity to learn to read gave its holders ...

 
At 9:17 AM, September 03, 2008, Anonymous Joshua W. Burton said...

Tell me about tetrachromats and what sex they are?

Huh? I said that the red and green cones are sex-linked neurological structures; what are you disagreeing with?

And the Chinese imperial exams, like Prof. Shalizi's hypothetical QFT-loving aliens, could exert exactly the sort of transient selective pressure I described. If "intelligence" were a single thing, and these exams correlated strongly with it, I would surely expect people of Han descent (including perhaps a third of Europeans, Arabs and East Africans, since Chinese exams have been going on for 2k years) to have more of it today. Similarly, if "disease immunity" were a single thing, I would expect Bronze Age city-dwellers and their descendants to have more of it, again because the timescale is consistent with the rate of human gene diffusion. In the case of the immune system, we have already mapped out enough of the pathways to know it's not nearly that simple. Our understanding of cognition is much more rudimentary; if there is pleiotropy the conclusion falls apart, but we're not even far enough along to ask the question.

 
At 9:34 AM, September 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us first note that males and females develop differently. Quite apart from the physical differences that develop in the womb (mainly limited to the reproductive tract) there is the fact that males are bathed in testosterone from about week 12 while normal females are not (CAH females do have elevated testosterone levels in utero). There are also some gene expression differences.

It is also notable that males and females perform differently on IQ tests. They have different strengths and weaknesses on the sub-tests, but through mathematical trickery (normalization) they are brought back to average equality.

Now, we are to suppose that despite the obvious differences in adult males and females (ignoring primary and secondary genitalia) such as average height, average strength strength, throwing skills, etc, that, somehow, neurologically, males and females are exactly the same.

Given that they already specialize, one in reproduction, the other in providing for a mate who is hugely incapacitated during pregnancy and the early years of child-rearing, it seems that you would have to be a creationist to imagine that males and females have exactly the same mental capacities.

I would expect females to be very good at recognizing talent in males, since the future of their offspring depend on that, and in maintaining relationships, and I would expect males to be strongly selected for all the skills required in providing for their offspring.

However, I would expect that there is a frequency dependent mix of strategies, with some females being skilled at duping males into supporting them while obtaining genes from what they consider to be superior males, and some males being skilled at duping females into accepting genetic material from them (having sex) and then abandoning the females. However, the presence of too many morphs like that in any one gene pool will cause selection for counter strategies ...

Life sure is complex.

Then there are the groups that have had writing and literature for four thousand years or so, and the groups that have not ... talk about selection pressure.

 
At 12:06 PM, September 03, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"if the conclusion you support is so obvious as the be the "simple evidence of [my] eyes", then why has it been under study and argument for so many years? is the research community whose results you are referring to akin to creationists because they don't see the "simple evidence of [their] eyes"?"

Disgruntled Goat, in a long debate about this very thing with another person arguing from your point, I repeatedly used the persons links to illustrate MY point.

What the issue eventually boiled down to was that numerous anthropologists use 'weasel words' to avoid simply saying race--things like 'geographically isolated populations' or 'differences due to environmental factors'. They don't want to support the notion of race while investigating the incomplete speciation of humanity(which is what race actually is), so they use terms that get around it--and make broad, ignorant pronouncements like 'there is no scientific basis for the idea of race"--while their research confirms it.

Anyone who actually understands the theory of evolution cannot deny the existence of race.

jack

 
At 8:07 PM, September 03, 2008, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Commenting before having had time to wade through the whole thread...

Quoth Disgruntled Goat:

with respect to the conservative hypothetical, i would protest that the analogy is flawed, since in the real world, we know with near certainty that public debate about these issues are very damaging, and can only speculate whether they are correct, and that if they are, they might produce some benefit

You're wrong on both counts.  We know the conservative case is anything but hypothetical, because unbiased tests have been showing it plainly for decades.  Further, you haven't looked closely at the damage caused by the conspiracy of silence to deny it.  For instance, if the possibility of inherent differences in ability is denied, the inequality of results must be due to discrimination.  Among other things, this has led to:

1.  An entire race being demonized for no fault of its own.

2.  Huge systems set up to confer advantage to some undeserving, and deny others what they merit.

3.  The diversion of enormous amounts of effort from productive pursuits to the remediation of non-existent slights.

The real irony is that conferring differential advantages to groups is the exact opposite of evaluating people by "the content of their character", as individuals.  The dream has been twisted into a nightmare.

 
At 8:23 PM, September 04, 2008, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Quoth Disgruntled Goat:

"You ignore the possibility that not having these conversations will also lead to social harm."

no... i think that's part of what needs to be weighed.


In other words, you have no more (and perhaps less) respect for freedom of speech and the press than the various Christian theocrats out there, who would do the same weighing but with a very different definition of what constitutes "harm".  That way lies civil war, at best.  There's a reason that truth is an absolute defense against a charge of libel under US law, and for the First Amendment.

Since you obviously bear no allegiance to the Constitution, which is the foundational document of the United States, would it be too much to ask you to get the hell out of here?  Thanks.  And take those theocrats with you, if you don't mind.

And quoth Joshua W. Burton:
"First, you would have to convincingly show that “intelligence,” Spearman’s g, exists as more than a statistical artifact [1], has some observable biostructural correlate[2], and is controlled by human genetic variation[3]."

1.  Stability of measured values in individuals over time proves that it is more than an artifact.

2.  Observed correlation with descent and with known genes proves it (noted above, search for "hapmap").

3.  See [2].

When the basis for your "skepticism" is refuted by evidence cited in a discussion thread before you even post about it, you're making a far better case that your rejection is dogmatic rather than skeptical.

 
At 11:37 PM, September 06, 2008, Blogger Awake In Rochester said...

Evolution is not a fact, it is an hypothesis, (educated guess). I have a strong Christian background, and just can't swallow the idea that I came from an Ape. Where would we put Adam & Eve on that time line? So until they prove it, (and I doubt they will), I won't worry about it.

 
At 11:20 AM, September 07, 2008, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

Quoth Awake in Rochester:

"Evolution is not a fact, it is an hypothesis, (educated guess)."

This statement exhibits delusion or willful ignorance equal to those who say Islam is the "religion of peace".  Evolution has been confirmed from multiple independent lines of evidence and is observed operating both in the lab and in nature today.  It is the central organizing principle of modern biology.

Further, nothing in science is ever "proven".  Proof exists in mathematics, not science.  Science dis-proves things, by showing them to contradict reality.  All the pre-historic creation myths met this fate long ago, most of them before Darwin published.

"I have a strong Christian background, and just can't swallow the idea that I came from an Ape."

When an ape sees something it doesn't like, it doesn't stop to ponder the merits and appraise whether or not it might be correct anyway; it flings poop at it.  The irony of your response no doubt escapes you.

"Where would we put Adam & Eve on that time line?"

The same place we put the crystal spheres in which the heavenly bodies rotating around the fixed Earth, and the "windows of heaven" through which the Great Flood was released.

 
At 1:25 PM, September 07, 2008, Blogger David Friedman said...

Both Awake and Engineer-Poet appear to agree that evolutionary theory teaches that humans are evolved from apes. I don't believe it's true. My understanding of current theory is that humans, apes, and monkeys are all supposed to have a common ancestor--a primate but not an ape.

 
At 3:33 PM, September 07, 2008, Anonymous sportember said...

I think that Mr. Roy F. Baumeister's article is about 80% Mr. Roy F. Baumeister, and 20% scientific theory. The article deeply misses any citation or reference, the sources of information stated there are published.

To point out just a few example, Mr. Baumeister states that the larger a system is, the better it performs. I'm pretty sure he never tried to get from point A to point B in the subways of Paris.

Another deeply debatable statement is that man's entrance to woman's superior ability, childbirth, had advanced the process. Jean Liedloff's Continuum Concept theory points out some differences in childcare since that point that suggests civilization is heading to a dead end with that entry.

But the lack of any references to resources mentioned in the article is enough for me to suppose, that Mr. Baumeister is mostly concerned about his reproducing success. I don't see synergies there.

 
At 4:54 PM, September 08, 2008, Blogger Engineer-Poet said...

"Both Awake and Engineer-Poet appear to agree that evolutionary theory teaches that humans are evolved from apes."

Hardly, but the similarity in behavior shows that the last common ancestor wasn't too far back. ;)

 
At 12:36 PM, September 10, 2008, Blogger Andrew said...

Next consider the whole nature/nurture debate, in which the left has, for half a century or more, mostly taken a strong pro-nurture position. It is hard to see how humans could have evolved intelligence if intelligence is not heritable.

David,

This is a misstatement of the nature/nurture debate. Intelligence is obviously heritable on the organism scale; i.e. humans will produce more intelligent children than say, a pigeon. Genes undoubtedly affect intelligence.
The environment also undoubtedly affects intelligence. If a child is raised in a box with no contact with any other humans, it will have the intelligence of a pigeon, or less. Nature/nurture is
not a one-or-the other question, both are clearly important.

Nature/nurture is a discussion about the influences of genetics and the environment on variations in intelligence between humans (without genetic disorders such as Down syndrome).
Actual measurement of the effect (even in identical twin studies) is very difficult because they are interrelated; the environment can enhance or lessen genetic effects by how changing how they are actually expressed. Nurture is very important; you know this too since you've put a lot of time and money into raising your children.

The reason some prefer to look mainly at nurture over nature is philosophical. When you're born you have the genes that you were born with (save potential future genetic engineering...). Would you rather have people down with hopelessness because they think "my genes are bad; i'll never be smart", or would you rather have people continuing to try to educate themselves and improve their lot in life?

Also, conservatives not believing in evolution is largely an American trait. Aside from Turkey, no other first-world country has a lower percentage of people who believe in evolution. Here are a few numbers:

http://www.jwz.org/images/15evo_lg.jpg

[The entire thread of comments reminds me a bit of laymen discussing "the economy" without any knowledge of economics and no knowledge of supply and demand except for what they could glean off of a one minute search on wikipedia.

Also, failing to clearly define what you are talking about as "Evolution" muddles your argument. Most of your readers are throwing anthropology into the mix, which is "evolution" in the generic sense but not in the biology meaning. The term needs to be defined carefully if you intend to have intelligent discussion here.]

 
At 8:54 PM, September 12, 2008, Blogger Thai said...

David, what a wonderful posting! My own experiences absolutely agree with your posting—the politically correct’s greatest sin has always been a gut level belief in the implications of evolution.

As the 86th commenter, it may be a little late to participate in the discussion but I thought I would give it a try:
@disgruntled goat--, I am not sure whether you realize it or not, but I think you express what voters clearly always fear about liberals. You make a very strong case for why so many voters will vote for McCain and Palin.



@Sue dee and Geoff-- regarding homosexuality. I think current thinking hypothesizes homosexuality occurs as a group level selection, not an individual level selection. You may find these 2 Wired magazine links interesting:
link 1

link 2

@All the commenter who spend ANY time at all worrying-bragging-thinking about IQ (whether it is higher or lower between individuals OR groups or not), all I can say is stop worrying about it or you will find yourself a wonderful addition to the future expansion conservatory at the Darwin awards Hall of fame. My lung has little in the way of any traditional IQ intelligence—yet I need my lung. It does a very fine job of oxygenating my blood; I would not be alive without it. Is there a problem that my lung also has a low IQ? Cooperation trumps IQ ANY day of the week in evolutionary systems and cooperating by different information processing systems (which by definition have to have different IQs) trumps all other forms of cooperation. So while I am not opposed to IQ, I just realize it can most definitely be a bubble in an evolutionary system.


@All those who say religion-god-faith and evolution are incompatible, you are simply wrong. You need to read up a little.


EVOLUTION IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE DOCTRINES OR SCRIPTURES OF MANY OF THE WORLDS RELIGIONS.EVOLUTION IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH FAITH. In fact, it is VERY clear that there is an entire portion of your frontal lobe which specifically evolved to give you faith-trust. And while I am a lifelong atheist (and will probably die that way), it is quite clear that faith and science are absolutely two sides of the same coin. If you do not see this, you have a little reading to do.

I posted a PowerPoint
on the basic economic-evolutionary issues around faith (I called faith “trust” in my PowerPoint, understand it is absolutely the same thing). Evolution selects VERY strongly for faith (trust).



Lastly, David so you think about fractals often?

 
At 4:56 AM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

huh?

 
At 7:39 AM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Thai said...

My paraphrase of what you are sayings: "protect voters from the truth in order to avoid the consequences of truth misuse"

At its most basic level, this is a VERY condescending view of your fellow citizens: they don't have the integrity to 'do the right thing'.

I sense one of the biggest connections Palin and McCain make with voters (whether it is true or not)is this very issue. (listen to her speach from 11:50 min)

Remember (from her voters perspective) Palin would never go against her moral compass. Their evidence for this is exemplified by (say) her choosing to raise a child with Down's syndrome over taking the easier abortion route.

So questioning her voter's integrity (because they might wrongly behave if they knew the truth (whatever the truth is, a whole seperate can of worms) about politically 'delicate' issues) is about as big an insult as you can make. Heck, I wouldn't trust a candidate that openly suggested I couldn't handle the truth.

And while this condescention is not openly stated by liberals (except you in this blog's thread) it is heavily SUSPECTED by many voters.

I am not criticizing you for speaking 'the truth' (far from it), I am simply pointing out the issues your view create.

 
At 8:15 AM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

okay, i see what you're saying, and i see how people could misinterpret what i'm saying.

i'm not saying "protect voters from truth" because i don't think the racial supremacist things that people have been posting here are the truth.

i'm generally in favor of telling people the truth, far more than liberals/democrats are and far, far more than republicans/conservatives are. i do recognize exceptions - people's private information, info on how to build weapons of mass destruction, etc.

if there's a truth about a despised group that would likely be used to support hatred against that group, then i might be in favor of suppressing it, depending on the results of the cost/benefit analysis. i don't see this as condescension at all - it's straightforward ethics and common sense. i think most people - voters as you think of them - would agree with me on that point.

if these views cause reagan democrats to vote republican, so be it - that's their responsibility. but i'm skeptical that it's the "condescension" of attitudes like mine that does the trick.

after all, there's no shortage of far greater condescension, particularly by the republican party. shouldn't this turn the reagan democrats back to the democrats? why are they *reagan* democrats when reagan was one of the most condescending politicians in history? i mean, mouthing insipid patriotic bromides while fleecing the public is pretty condescending, isn't it?

in terms of my options, i think it's better for me to continue telling the truth as i see it and to fight for democracy.

 
At 8:15 PM, September 13, 2008, Blogger Thai said...

By the way David, if you think liberals have an issue with evolution, just think how they disagree with the conservation of energy.

Regards

:-)

 
At 10:50 PM, January 04, 2009, Blogger Alanna29 Says said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:42 AM, January 22, 2009, Blogger 海賊王 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 7:34 PM, January 26, 2009, Anonymous Ben said...

Disgruntled Goat,

"on east african dominance of distance runs - the one explanation i've heard is environmental, having to do with training in high altitudes and the body's accommodation to these conditions by increasing oxygen supply, or accommodating to a lower oxygen supply."

You need to read more on the subject. See Jon Entine's article 'Strawman of Race'. The reason for East African performance on long distance & West African on sprints, is largely genetic. http://www.jonentine.com/reviews/straw_man_of_race.htm


"as for why "gap persists through all social strata and is so pronounced that poor whites consistently outscore middle and upper class black children (raised in nice neighborhoods, etc)" - if it's true, i could think of at least a couple of explanations - one is genetic predisposition, one is racism that causes blacks to see themselves as less able and then unconsciously perform to expectation."

I think you're talking about stereotype threat. It doesn't explain the gap. See Jensen's 'The G Factor' or 'Bias in Mental Testing'.

Also, transracial adoption studies suggest culture doesn't explain the gaps.

"Contrary to "culture" theory, the ethnic academic gaps are almost identical for transracially adopted children, and to the extent they are different they go in the opposite direction predicted by culture theory. The gap between whites and Asians fluctuated from 19 to .09 in the NAEP data while the gap in the adoption data is from 1/3 to 3 times larger. This is consistent with the Sue and Okazaki paper above which showed that contrary to popular anecdotes, the values that lead to higher academic grades are actually found more often in white homes. In other words Asian-Americans perform highly despite their Asian home cultural environment not because of it. And though the sample is meager, I find it interesting that the gap between the black and white adopted children was virtually identical (within just 4-6 points) to the gap between whites and blacks in the general population, just like in the Scarr adoption study.


[1] Clark, E. A., & Hanisee, J. (1982). Intellectual and adaptive
performance of Asian children in adoptive American settings.
Developmental Psychology, 18, 595–599.

Frydman, M., & Lynn, R. (1989). The intelligence of Korean children
adopted in Belgium. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 1323–1325.

Winick, M., Meyer, K. K., & Harris, R. C. (1975). Malnutrition and
environmental enrichment by early adoption. Science, 190, 1173–1175."

http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/004064.html




Here's a summary of recent research from June 2005 issue of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Vol. 11, No. 2

http://www.google.co.nz/search?hl=en&q=Jensen+%26+Rushton+&meta=

 
At 11:12 PM, March 16, 2009, Blogger moto said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:32 AM, August 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this post and the comments interesting. Only thing I have to add is how annoying people like Disgruntled Goat are - people who constantly, repeatedly take every opportunity to assert the superiority of "us" vs. "them", to the point of taking multiple petty baseless cheap shots in every paragraph.

I also hate people who say things like this about the greatest country in the world:

"our highly sexist, highly racist, highly ignorant and irrational society"

It's demonstrative of a haughty, deluded worldview that someone could say such hateful things about a country (his own country, no less!) without providing a single example of a real nation, past or present, that is less plagued by these evils. It would be like calling our medical science a complete failure because everybody still, eventually, dies. I mean, Africans eat pygmies and think that the cure for AIDS is raping a virgin, but it's America that is racist and irrational.

Anyone who is so dead-set on comparing our current real society to some half-thought-out fantasy utopia that exists only in his own mind is not to be taken seriously. You were all far too generous in continuing to engage him after he made this remark. I am disappointed that I so often see statements like these met with no resistance.

 
At 12:42 AM, October 13, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I am replying to a very old discussion, but it strikes me that most of the right-wing commentators here seem to have tacitly assumed something without bothering to justify it. They have assumed that if there are genetic differences in intelligence (or other desirable characteristics) between races or sexes, the superior race or sex deserves more wealth (and perhaps also more power).

I'm sorry, but that does not follow. To the extent that one's intelligence or success is due to genetics, it is NOT due to individual effort, and therefore it is NOT deserved, and should NOT be rewarded.

Economic incentives can only induce people to change something that is within their control. To the extent that your behavior is determined by genetics, your behavior is not under your control, so it is not affected by economic incentives, so there is no reason to have such incentives.

Or in other words: the greater the role played by nature in determining behavior, the less important it is to reward good behavior with wealth or punish bad behavior with poverty (because people can't help it either way). Instead, we should be rewarding good behavior with the right to have more kids and punishing bad behavior with compulsory contraception.

You see, if you believe that the social implications of evolutionary theory are individualistic or capitalistic, you are mistaken. The main social implication of evolutionary theory is that we should use reproductive incentives and get rid of all other rewards and punishments (including differences in wealth).

 
At 9:14 AM, May 23, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think many leftists are rather like me - they assume that hereditary mental differences between the sexes exists, that it's at least plausible that there are hereditary cognitive differences that correlate (undoubtedly weakly) with the construct of race, and that it does much more evil than good to have discussions about it in our highly sexist, highly racist, highly ignorant and irrational society.

- Disgruntled Goat

------

What you are saying is that ignorance and irrationality can be combated by the censorship of political correctness.

Charles Murray has said that political policies that are based on assumptions that are not true usually have harmful effects. We can see this in the failure of the War on Poverty and No Child Left Behind. The first assumed that the poor are the same as everyone else, only less fortunate. The second assumes that every child is capable of academic excellence.

 
At 5:02 AM, May 30, 2011, Blogger Disgruntled Goat said...

i'm saying that actions, including speculation about sex, race, and genetics, can be morally judged by their consequences.

i doubt very much that the war on poverty and NCLB, to the extent that legislation can be based on assumptions, are based on the assumptions you cite. these are class-based policies designed to advance one economic class or the other.

 
At 8:34 AM, February 02, 2014, Blogger noballgame said...

The link to the "interesting discussion of evidence and theory on male/female differences" no longer works. Is there another way to find it? Thanks!

 

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