From Part One:
Q: Is this stuff interesting to anyone but white supremacists?
A: I bet it is interesting to white supremacists, though it should — see above — be even more interesting to yellow supremacists. I know a lot of people who find it interesting, though, and I don’t think any of them is a white supremacist. (Which I take to mean: A person who desires special legal/constitutional privileges for white people.) I’m not one myself.
Who this is mainly interesting to is, science geeks. I am one of those, and have been since childhood. The people I know who are interested in the race-I.Q. discussion would all, I believe, make the same claim. They all seem to have been keen readers of science fiction at some point. One of them writes sci-fi for a living.
I came late to biology and the human sciences myself, finding physics, astronomy, and information sciences more interesting. The human sciences have fundamentally the same appeal, though. Here are phenomena, features of the world, that I see with my eyes every day. Some people are smart, some are dumb. There are different races, accounted for — pretty obviously — by having their deep ancestry in different parts of the world. Different races seem to have different patterns of capabilities. What’s it all about? Here are some accredited researchers, applying the tools of scientific inquiry — measurement, classification, comparison — to try to find the underlying facts. What’s not to be interested in?
What’s that you say? It’s wrong to be interested in these things? I’m supposed to pretend not to notice those things I’m noticing? Those aren’t scientists: they are bad people with dark motives only pretending to do objective research? That’s what you’re saying? Okay, let me put this as politely as it deserves to be put: Bite me, pal. ...
Q: Isn’t all the so-called race-I.Q. research funded by outfits like the Pioneer Fund, which have racist agendas?
A: Some of it is, but so what? ...
Look: The controversy here is not between research group A, resourced by fund X with bias M, saying this is so; while research group B, resourced by fund Y with bias N, insists no, that is not so — THIS is so!
That’s not the structure of the controversy. The structure of the controversy is: research group A, resourced by fund X with bias M, saying this is so, while a mighty host of journo-school grads, law-school grads, and liberal-arts department heads — yes, and even a few careerist, tenure- or office-seeking biologists and money-seeking, PC-compliant pop-science authors — shriek YOU MUSTN’T TALK ABOUT THAT! YOU ARE BAD PEOPLE! That’s the structure of the controversy.
It’s not as if the underlying data here, which now goes back for decades, was all assembled by twitching clubfooted racists with collections of SS memorabilia and slave manacles in their closets. The biggest single lumps of it were collected by sober establishment outfits like, for example, the U.S. armed forces.
And this whole story about researchers being lap-dogs of their funders doesn’t bear close scrutiny anyway. A couple of years ago, for example, I reported in National Review about the discoveries of human-geneticist Bruce Lahn. Lahn had turned up some variants of genes known to be involved somehow — we didn’t (and still don’t) know exactly how — in infant brain development. These variants showed strikingly different frequencies when tallied by race. Could these variants help explain race-I.Q. differences?
Not hard to find out. Assemble two groups, equalized by age, sex, income, race, and anything else you can think of, one group with variant P, the other without it, this being the only detectable difference between the groups. Give ‘em I.Q. tests. See if there is any statistically-significant group difference.
That follow-up experiment was done. The result was negative. No, these gene variants seem not to be an explanatory factor for race-I.Q. differences.
The lead researcher on that follow-up experiment that got the negative result is J. Philippe Rushton of the
. Prof. Rushton has been a major recipient of Pioneer Fund grants, and currently heads the fund. I guess he momentarily forgot he’s supposed to be a lap-dog. Universityof Ontario
From Part Two:
Q: What is race, anyway? Hasn’t it been proved a meaningless concept?
A: Race is just common ancestry. More precisely, it’s mostly common ancestry.
If I sit down to work out my family tree, I have two slots for parents, four for grandparents, eight for great-grandparents, and so on.
Go back a thousand years — say thirty generations — and there are, by the well-known doubling rule, a billion-something slots to fill. Now, there weren’t a billion people alive in the world in A.D. 1008. The actual number of different persons filling those billion slots is likely only a few ten thousands, each name repeated over and over hundreds of times as a result of inbreeding across a millennium.
Can I say anything nontrivial about those few-ten-thousand persons of the early 11th century whose inbred contributions make up my genome?
Well, yes, I believe I can, just by looking in the mirror. I can assert with perfect confidence, for example, that it is not the case that any large proportion of them — twenty, thirty, forty percent or more — were Australian Aborigines. If that were the case, I would not look so unmistakably European. (And should my confidence in the mirror test waver, there are now firms that will sequence my genome for a few hundred dollars, from which I would get the same answer.)
Of course, there might be an Aborigine in there somewhere — even two, four, eight, or sixteen. Most of my ancestry, though — look at me, for Pete’s sake! — is European. In fact, given what I know about my ancestry, and about history, and about mobility and mating customs in times gone by, my strong guess is that most of those few ten-thousand people were subjects of Ethelred the Unready, born in England. Most of the rest lived within a thousand miles of England.
In my children’s cases, half of their few-ten-thousands ancestors circa A.D. 1008 would be east-Asian, the other half north-European. They’re mixed race. I don’t personally find this a difficult concept to grasp. Nor, again — boy, I must have ice in my veins! — is it anything I get worked up about. ...
From Part Three:
If you hang out with race-realist types a lot — and yes, I do, and count myself one — a thing you notice is that a high proportion of them, of us, are antisocial loners. Trust me, it’s not just because of their opinions that race realists don’t win any popularity prizes. (And as a corollary, not many of them, of us, are successful in a worldly way. Poor social skills. Jim Watson, though world-famous for what he did, fits the pattern. Talk to anyone who knows him and expressions like “difficult,” “prickly,” and “loose cannon” soon turn up.)
Watson is a complicated fellow, because he's both a loose cannon and a world-class fundraiser and lab leader. He's extremely social, just not in glad-handing kind of way. I feel sorry for him because what has happened to him is likely to hurt him more than somebody more Aspergery, like Larry Summers.
Like every other feature of human nature, the groupish emotions are unevenly distributed. Some individuals are richly endowed with them. They are plunged into despair when their baseball team loses; they bristle to hear their religion criticized; they are furious at insults to their nation; if of eccentric sexual preference, they may swear brotherhood with those similarly disposed; and yes, they are mad as hell to hear their race described as failed, even though they understand at some level that it’s an abstract statistical description that does not reflect on them personally, any more than their baseball team’s losing the World Series does.
Your antisocial loner isn’t like that. He probably has no strong opinion about the relative merits of Yankees and Mets. If he goes to church, it’s for personal and metaphysical reasons, not social ones. He’s a poor employee and a feeble team-sports participant. He may like his country, and be willing to fight for it, but exuberant expressions of patriotism embarrass him. He’s more likely than the average to marry someone of a different race. (Am I describing anyone in particular here? No! Absolutely not!) Tell him he belongs to a failed race and he’ll probably say: “Yes, I guess so. It’s sad. But hey, I’m doing okay...”
To the degree that he has any preference, the antisocial loner is an Americanophile. The
advertises itself as the nation of individualism, where you judge a man, and he judges himself, by what he can accomplish — by, as somebody once said “the content of his character” — not by which group he belongs to. U.S.A.
If you are not that type — and most people, even most Americans, are not — it’s much more difficult for you to discuss human-group differences. Too much groupish emotion gets in the way. It was hard not to notice, in the recent kerfuffles about illegal immigration, how many people on the pro-illegals side had names like Rivera, Chavez, Sanchez,...
But see, as I’ve just pointed out, people strongly susceptible to group identification do better in the world — are more successful. It’s a social world, success-wise, and they’re social people. What is social success, but identifying with groups and securing high status within them? Having a set of good robust groupish emotions will do that for ya. Thus, race realists don’t get much of a hearing; and when they pipe up, their views sound strange and eccentric. They heat up the groupish emotions of the majority — of most normal human beings — and shouting breaks out.
The kind of cool, antisocial personality to whom race realism makes sense is not likely to attain the commanding heights of a field like, say, opinion journalism, so when the shouting starts up he’s at a natural disadvantage — a small playa being shouted down by big playas.
The truth content of the argument? Oh, that just gets lost in the shouting. Who cares about truth when careers and money and within-group status are at stake? Not many, I’m afraid; and most of those who do care are quirky loner types that nobody much likes anyway.
Since the Derb is thinking here of me (among others), it seems not inappropriate to engage in a little navel-gazing. Does this describe me?
I was a fierce sports fan up at least through the time I started having kids. Kirk Gibson's homer in the 1988 World Series brought my 23 year love affair with the LA Dodgers to a satisfying
I guess I'm kind of a pro-social loner. In person, I come across as mild, polite, not a strong personality. Strange as it may seem from reading me, in person I don't like causing anyone any emotional discomfort. (But, if you choose to step into the public arena, however, well, no holds barred.) I discovered a long time in social situations that at first I was reasonably popular because I could ask just about anybody intelligent questions about their favorite subjects; but that if I kept talking to that person too long, I'd come up with questions they hadn't thought about before, and frankly found rather disturbing to contemplate.
The development of Internet email and the WWW around 1995 allowed me to find some of the small number of people who voluntarily want to discuss questions that interest me, so I became less social with people around me, which also means I less often disturb my neighbors with unanswerable questions. To them, I'm a nice guy who doesn't make a vivid impression.
Another key aspect of my personality is that I'm a staff guy, not a line leader. I was an adviser to a bunch of CEOs over the years during my corporate career because I was good at figuring out what the facts were and thus what alternative courses of action they had to choose among. But I never had a strong urge to make the decision myself. Similarly, I love informing people in my writing about how things work and what that means, but my enthusiasm for imposing particular solutions on them is limited. I figure that people can make up their own minds about what to do about the facts.