April 21, 2014

The Descent of Darwin

From Gregory Clark's The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility has a timeline of the Galtonian question of the association between status and fertility, using the famous Darwin family, of which Galton was a member on his mother's side, as an example.
- ... in the preindustrial world, fertility was typically strongly positively associated with status. ...In England before 1780, this effect was so strong that the wealthiest parents had twices as many children as the average family.  
- ... for parents who married between 1780 and 1880, there is no association between fertility and social status. 
- ... there was a strong negative association between social status and fertility ... in England for parents who married between 1890 and 1960.  ... by 1880 in England, upper class-men seem to have produced far fewer children than those of the middle or lower classes. Indeed, from 1880 to 1940, the richest English families seem to have been dying out. 
- .... Currently ... the correlation is relatively weak, with high-status parents having as many children as lower-status parents, or modestly fewer.

This timeline suggests that Galton (who didn't have children himself) was doing what he did best -- systematically noticing -- when he became worried in the later 19th Century about fertility among the most accomplished.

Here's Clark's example of the bearers of the Darwin surname. The Darwins are fascinating because even Charles wasn't exactly a genius. Instead, they are more like the 1960s astronauts: examples of a solid system functioning properly. Neil Armstrong wasn't some unique superhero (and he never claimed to be): he was the product of a healthy culture.
The lineage of Charles Darwin is a nice illustration of how large the families of the middle and upper classes could be in preindustrial England. He descended from a line of successful and prosperous forebears. His great-grandfather Robert Darwin (1682-1754) produced seven children, all of whom survived to adulthood. His grandfather Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) produced fifteen children (born to two wives and two mistresses), twelve of whom survived to adulthood. His father, Robert Waring Darwin (1766 - 1848), produced six children, all of whom survived to adulthood. ... 
Charles Darwin, marrying in 1839, had ten children, though only seven surived childhood.  
These seven children produced only nine grandchildren, an average of only 1.3 per child. (This figure is unusually low for this era, but there was great randomness in individual fertility.) 
The nine grandchildren produced in turn only 20 great-grandchildren, 2.2 per grandchild. This figure was less than the population average for this period. The great-grandchildren, born on average in 1918, produced 28 great-great-grandchildren, 1.4 each. ... The Darwin lineage failed to maintain itself in genetic terms. 
Interestingly, with respect to social mobility rates, the 27 great-great grandchildren of Charles Darwin, born on average nearly 150 years after Darwin, are still a surprisingly distinguished cohort. Eleven are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages, or the like, such as Times obituaries. 

I looked them up for my recent Taki's column on Clark's book and found that 16 of the 28 great-great-grandchildren of Darwin now have Wikipedia pages.
   

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

57% of darwin's grandchildren having wikipedia pages?

That is incredible. I wonder what is the special sauce in that gene pool?

hardly said...

You cannot seriously be comparing Darwin to Neil Armstrong, Steve. Armstrong is nothing but a glorified pilot. One might go so far as to call him a chauffeur who happened to be in the right place at the right time, to take advantage of the products of the minds of thousands of superior men.
Darwin was certainly a genius. He came up using solely his intellect, something which had eluded humans for a hundred thousand years. Any man from Plato to Aristotle to Confucius to Buddha could have come up with evolution through natural selection. The evidence was right there, staring everyone in the face. You didnt need to go to the Galapagos, it was all around you. Yet no one did until Darwin came along. That is pure genius right there. A different way of looking at things, and the world is never the same again.

Anonymous said...

This trend also follows the degree of secularization/apostasy of the elites.

Anonymous said...

That implies that since 1960, there hasn't been a strong dysgenic trend in birthrates. Which is good news. (The bad news is that immigration is taking its toll.)

Can we extrapolate England to the US and mainland Europe? Are American whites dysgenic?

reiner Tor said...

@hardly:

Any man from Plato to Aristotle to Confucius to Buddha could have come up with evolution through natural selection. The evidence was right there, staring everyone in the face. You didnt need to go to the Galapagos, it was all around you. Yet no one did until Darwin came along. That is pure genius right there.

That is wrong. Darwin drew on a very large body of systematic scientific observations (to which he was also a significant contributor himself), which was available to neither Plato nor Aristotle.

A telling sign is that Darwin finally published his theory already formulated two decades earlier when he was told Wallace was just about to come up with an identical theory himself. This was because the evidence from variations of existing and extinct species, as well as the relative ages of the extinct variations, became so overwhelming.

Having said that, Darwin had so many great ideas on so very many things (only a few of them wrong), that he certainly deserves to be thought of as more significant than Armstrong, whether Neil, Lance or Louis.

Anonymous said...

http://pjmedia.com/ronradosh/2014/04/20/the-splcs-attack-on-rush-limbaugh-david-horowitz-and-me/?singlepage=true

surreal

Steve Sailer said...

It would probably have taken a genius Frenchman to come up with Darwin's theory of natural selection, but it was almost inevitable for a Brit to come up with it because it's so central to the central progression of English language thought. Ben Franklin wasn't that far away from it in 1754, but then he got interested in politics. Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus were homing in, just on the human side.

About three guys, all Brits, came up with most of Darwin's theory in the preceding century, but just left it as a sentence or paragraph in passing. Alfred Russel Wallace nailed it exactly in 1857, finally motivating Darwin to jointly publish the theory of natural selection with Wallace in 1858. Darwin gets the vast share of the credit because he did more of the work to nail it down, but the basic concept wasn't that hard.

There's a funny scene in "Master and Commander" in which Dr. Stephen Maturin, played by Paul Bettany, is strolling about the Galapagos in 1805 collecting specimens, when suddenly a Really Big Idea starts to dawn on him, but then Captain Jack Aubrey yells at him to get back on the ship because the French are attacking, and he forgets all about it.

Steve Sailer said...

It's very much how like Darwin's cousin Galton then got inspired by Darwin's accomplishment and put together a remarkable string of discoveries. Yet, neither Galton nor Darwin impressed their contemporaries the way, say, Newton left his awestruck.

geschrei said...

Here's a thought experiment I sometimes share with my friends/colleagues/acquaintances of the SWPL variety:

1. Think of all the adults over the age of 35 that you personally know well that you consider to be worthwhile human beings. Use any criteria you prefer: intelligence, physical attractiveness, wit, integrity, work ethic, morality, generosity, etc. Your definition of "worthwhile human being" is entirely subjective.
2. Count them. We'll call that number "x".
3. Now count the number of children (of any age) they have combined amongst them. Biological first-generation offspring only, no adoptees or stepchildren. Assign that sum to the variable "y".
4. Is y >= 2.1(x)?
5. If the answer to 4. is False, try to consider the long term implications of a society whose best members choose not to reproduce. This is particularly sobering to those whose value for y approaches x (or is even less than x).

Try it yourself sometime.

Dave Pinsen said...

When you set the bar for genius at Newton's level, you narrow the field considerably.

Speaking of Newton, Emanuel Derman, a physicist turned pioneering financial engineer (after a stint at Bell Labs), included an interesting quote by Keynes about the nature of Newton's genius in this commencement speech. You might find the speech of interest for reasons beyond that. It's quite good.

Auntie Analogue said...


In a hundred years' time how many descendents of Neil Armstrong's two sons will have Wikipedia pages - or the equivalent of Wikipedia pages?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hijack thread...

Wikipedia is doing a pretty good job right now of updating Rubin Carter's wikipedia page to more accurately reflect what happened.

Before he died, the lead paragraph exclaimed his innocence. Now there is a sentence in the lead that disputes it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubin_Carter#cite_note-salon-5

Whiskey said...

Speaking of noticing, easy for elites on landed country estates that produce food and money if properly managed to have lots of kids. Fairly auto pilit.

Hard to have kids in urban areas with uncertain income, no money and food generating estate.

Industrialization equals elites move off land into cities requiring steady income that is instead highly uncertain due to constant tech disruption and change.

Anonymous said...

One problem with this is you are only considering UK and the US which were stable for the last few hundred years with no mass killings of elites. I suspect the nation is growing tired of the Bushes but I do not expect to a mass execution like during the Russian revolution. I wonder if a name analysis before and after the American revolution would show a change of elites.

What happened in the Russian Empire? How are the Romanovs doing these days?

How about Germany?

Since they say Japan is losing the population race, what does the name analysis say about them?

Royal families could be traced. I think the Kaiser still has heirs. The king of Korea, how are the Yies doing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Yi#Known_Descendants_Today

Sean said...

"what is the special sauce in that gene pool?"

Josiah Wedgwood.

Grey Enlightenment said...

Darwin was certainly a genius, in terms of IQ and his accomplishments. He was a prolific author and scientist, writing numerous books, including, of course, his theory of evolution. He's probably as smart as Steven Pinker

Sean said...

Pinker has no children and geniuses often don't.

dearieme said...

"Charles wasn't exactly a genius": are you mad? He was one of the greatest geniuses in history. What I suspect you mean was: "Charles didn't have an analytical intelligence in the top rank".

What that shows is that having such an intelligence isn't a necessary condition of being a great genius. It certainly isn't a sufficient condition either.

roundeye said...

1. Neil Armstrong was also a test pilot then later a professor of engineering.

2. Not having read the book how is regression to the mean explained?

reiner Tor said...

Some people mentioned Steven Pinker. Pinker certainly strikes me as highly intelligent, but I wouldn't consider him a genius.

He had the courage and/or political clout to state two plus two equals four, but other than that, he's just an intelligent thinker. Also he doesn't have any theories or thoughts that could be compared to the Darwinist theory of evolution by natural selection.

reiner Tor said...

how is regression to the mean explained?

I don't know if he explains it at all, but I know a common sense explanation.

Because environment is random (SES is definitely just a small part of it, except in extreme cases), if you're close to the mean, probably your genes dominate. But if your phenotype is very far from the mean, it was probably a case of environment doubling up on genes.

I.e. with an IQ of 110 it could be a genetically 120 IQ guy getting -10 from the environment, or a genetically 100 guy getting +10. With an IQ of 150, it's more likely that you not only got very good genes (over 140), but probably also very good environmental effects. So maybe 140 genes and +10 environment.

Your children will inherit your genes (the 140), but on average their luck on the environment will be zero, so instead of 150 (assuming your wife is something like your identical twin - although certainly not true, on average people tend to have similar wives/husbands through assortative mating) they will get only 140 genes and zero environment, so they will have only 140 IQ instead of your 150. Hence, regression to the mean.

However, your children's genes will be as good as yours: they will have better genes than the typical 140 IQ guy, who will only have genes for maybe 132 (plus 8 points in environmental advantage), while your children's genes will have genes for 140 and no environmental advantage. So your children won't regress any further, or if so, only because of bad luck (which over the long run will even itself out). They might even get farther from the mean.

reiner Tor said...

To put it simpler, if your IQ is 150, it could be a case of a 160 IQ genetics and a -10 IQ environmental effect, or a 140 IQ genetics and +10 IQ environmental effect. Because +10 IQ environment has exactly the same likelihood as a -10 IQ environment, but 140 genes are way more common than 160 genes, so 150 IQ is way more likely to come from 140 genes and +10 environmental effect than from 160 genes and -10 environment. The same thing applies to 50 IQ, it's more likely coming from 60 genes and -10 environment than 40 genes (extremely rare) and +10 environment. So both directions on average there will be a regression to the mean.

Sean said...

Re. regression. The consanguinous marriage among descendants of Wedgewood is noteworthy.

Difficult to say what Pinker might have come up with in Darwin's time. A modern composer as good as Mozart, couldn't be recognised as such.

Andrew said...

geschrei:

Try it yourself sometime.

I am fortunate to live in a town where it is normal to have 3 to 5 children and some have 6 or 8, and quite honestly, I don't care for many of the rather selfish people who only have one or two, so my number is relatively high.

That is a great thought-experiment to get SWPL's breeding.

Andrew said...

So what I want to know is what happened in the late 1800's that caused an outbreak in the use of birth control among the upper classes in England and America and lead to the dearth of WASP's due to differential fertility between them and everyone else over the next 100 years?

Also, what method were they using that was so effective pre-pill?

Anonymous said...

I think its ironic that people who's life accomplishments boil down to "pithy blog comments" are dismissing the first man on the moon, but that's the product of a broken system for you.

Steve Sailer said...

William Manchester's Churchill biography describes the discreet little shop in London in the 1870s where a society lady with a proper referral could buy an early diaphragm. Thus Churchill's mom could deliver an heir and a spare by her mid-20s, but no more after that.

Anonymous said...

Chuck Yeager questioned Armstrong's abilities and judgement as a test pilot for NACA (NASA's forebear). How much of this was sour grapes due to Yeager's exclusion from the Original 7 and how much was Zeus judging the lesser gods is a question left to the reader.

Shawn said...

"I looked them up for my recent Taki's column on Clark's book and found that 16 of the 28 great-great-grandchildren of Darwin now have Wikipedia pages."

I'm sure they are quite talented. I'm also sure some turned to careers in media/entertainment to bank on their family's names. Because of the policies of Wiki, it's far easier for a mediocre writer or entertainer to get an entry than a mediocre engineer or lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Sean said...
"what is the special sauce in that gene pool?"

Josiah Wedgwood.

That wouldn't explain Francis Galton though.

Sean said...

"pithy blog comments"

Crom, no one, not even you will remember if our comments were good or bad. Why we made them, or why we got banned. No, all that matters is that a few trolled the many; that's what's important.

Anonymous said...

Winners have man children.

Losers have few or no children.

Simple as that. No need to complicate things.

Power Child said...

Matthew Chapman, one of Darwin's great great grandsons, debated in favor of a motion that was something like "We'd be better off without religion" on Intelligence Squared.

He seemed oblivious to the concept of social evolution.

panjoomby said...

oh c'mon - wally schirra could beat the pants off both of 'em!

a very knowing American said...

In Patrick O'Brian's sea-faring novels, and the movie "Master and Commander" based on them, Maturin comes close to figuring out evolutionary theory (or at least the descent with modification part of it) on a stayover in the Galapagos, but misses his chance when he is whisked off to do battle with the French once more.

Harry Baldwin said...

Because of the policies of Wiki, it's far easier for a mediocre writer or entertainer to get an entry than a mediocre engineer or lawyer.

Too true. I have a Wikipedia page due to my having worked in comic books, helped develop several toy lines, and written several books (under my real name). If you are mentioned on another page, i.e., have a "stub," you can create a page and as long as your accomplishments meet Wikipedia's minimal standards it won't be deleted. Meanwhile, my father, a distinguished surgeon who headed a department at an Ivy-league medical school, who was invited all over the world to lecture, and whose memorial service was attended by hundreds, does not have a Wikipedia page.

Anonymous said...

In England before 1780, this effect was so strong that the wealthiest parents had twices as many children as the average family.


I question that timeline. In "The Wealth Of Nations", published in 1776, Adam Smith comments on the low fertility of the upper classes compared to the lower classes.

There was a considerable amount of in-breeding among the wealthy English at the time - e.g. Charles Darwin married his first cousin. Assuming a family has good genes to begin with, this is a short term method of keeping the quality high. But it has long term problems.

By the end of the 19th century it became "the thing to do" for wealthy young Englishmen to seek their brides abroad, often from America.

John Mansfield said...

The following fits in somewhere. As one of Shaw's characters said in Man and Superman, "marriage peoples the world and debauchery does not." From pages 440-441, volume VII of Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson edited by Edward waldo Emerson and Waldo Emerson Forbes and published by Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912:

April 25, 1848
Dined with John Forster, Esq., at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and found Carlyle and Dickens, and young Pringle. Forster, who has an obstreperous cordiality, received Carlyle with loud salutation, "My Prophet!" Forster called Carlyle’s passion, "musket-worship." There were only gentlemen present and the conversation turned on the shameful lewdness of the London streets at night. "I hear it," he said, "I hear whoredom in the House of Commons. Disraeli betrays whoredom, and the whole House of Commons universal incontinence, in every word they say." I said that when I came to Liverpool, I inquired whether the prostitution was always as gross in that city as it then appeared, for to me it seemed to betoken a fatal rottenness in the state, and I saw not how any boy could grow up safe. But I had been told it was not worse nor better for years. Carlyle and Dickens replied that chastity in the male sex was as good as gone in our times; and in England was so rare that they could name all the exceptions. Carlyle evidently believed that the same things were true in America. He had heard this and that of New York, etc. I assured them that it was not so with us; that, for the most part, young men of good standing and good education, with us, go virgins to their nuptial bed, as truly as their brides. Dickens replied that incontinence is so much the rule in England that if his own son were particularly chaste, he should be alarmed on his account, as if he could not be in good health. "Leigh Hunt," he said, "thought it indifferent."

Anonymous said...

Darwin was certainly a genius. He came up using solely his intellect, something which had eluded humans for a hundred thousand years.


That's way over-blown. Humans had been quite deliberately engaging in selection for thousands of years, leading to the development of many different breeds of animals and species of plants. It's not exactly a giant conceptual leap for somebody to think "Perhaps this same process occurs in nature".

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinema_Jumpo#Kinema_Junpo_Top_10

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fugitive_from_the_Past

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q7J0zn7qJA

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, with respect to social mobility rates, the 27 great-great grandchildren of Charles Darwin, born on average nearly 150 years after Darwin, are still a surprisingly distinguished cohort. Eleven are notable enough to have Wikipedia pages


You don't have to be distinguished to have a Wikipedia page. It's not the Encyclopedia Britannica. All you need to "accomplish" is to be the child or grandchild of somebody famous and you'll get your own Wikipedia entry.

Here's an example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Cornford

If Frances Cornford were not a grandchild of Charles Darwin, she would not have a Wikipedia entry.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of cute how the Darwin idolaters who I'm sure we're just loving trolling Christians in the Easter post are all getting fainting spells at the notion that Darwin wasn't a genius. Idolaters heal thyself to paraphrase another stupid fundamentalist.

pat said...

I've been reading two books on Galton and it has been a surprise.

One book is a minor work of his and the other is a biography. In his book he spends a lot of time explaining how to do trick photography so as to 'average' human faces. Galton was in to 19th century Photoshoping it seems.

The biography is troublesome because the author spends so much time and effort denouncing eugenics. He wants to make sure no one thinks just because he writes a biography, he actually approves of his subject.

But some interesting facts have emerged. Galton wasn't particularly brilliant in school. He was bad at math. He took a lesser degree so as to avoid some of the math requirements.

He achieved fame as a 'white hunter'. He really was fearless. He wandered into areas where no white man had ever ventured. He wasn't even a good shot at first but he got better shooting lions.

His account of his adventures was a best seller got him in to inner circles of Victorian science.

He might have not had children because of an early bout of venereal disease.

I should read his own autobiography and his Eugenics book, but they are expensive. I have been reading cheap used books on Amazon lately. I think both of these together cost only about three dollars. The postage is more.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ly75-R5TN8

Jewish media treat Palestinians the way they treat us.

Anonymous said...

geschrei said...

"Here's a thought experiment I sometimes share with my friends/colleagues/acquaintances of the SWPL variety:"

Intelligent, good-looking, productive, personable people in the South tend to have quite a few children. It's impressive.

BurplesonAFB said...

"Auntie Analogue said...

In a hundred years' time how many descendents of Neil Armstrong's two sons will have Wikipedia pages - or the equivalent of Wikipedia pages?"

In the future, everyone will have a Wikipedia page, for fifteen minutes.
-Andy Warhol

Anonymous said...

He's probably as smart as Steven Pinker

Pinker is basically a journalist, not an original thinker. He doesn't come close to Darwin.

Anonymous said...

Modern Darwinian evolutionary theory is proud that it has cast off the quaint Aristotelean notion of teleological cause, causa finalis. Instead, it sticks to the strict scientificity of efficient cause. Or so it claims. Evolution is said to proceed via natural selection that selects the successful living species that are generated by chance mutations of genes. The criterion of success is simply that a species survives, for there is a so-called 'struggle of survival' among the species.

Teleological explanation, by contrast, is said to 'explain' the successful features of living beings that allow them to survive in terms of their purposeful design by some maker or other. For instance, the beaks of certain species of finches would be designed to be adapted specifically to a certain environment, thus enabling the finches to successfully survive to the point of reproduction. Evolutionary theory pooh poohs the 'ridiculous' idea of teleological design.

But evolutionary theory is too quick to assume airs of superiority.

First of all, its claim to stick to efficient causality is shaky, since the mutation of species relies essentially on chance, i.e. contingency. In Aristotle's thinking this is change that just 'comes along'. Mutations just 'happen', without any cause at all being able to be named, let alone any efficient cause. Contingent being is opposed in Aristotle to being according to itself, or being in itself, intrinsic, essential being. Thus e.g. human being is 'according to itself' being that 'has the logos, language', whereas whether a human being is white is contingent; whiteness just 'comes along' as an accidental attribute to human being.

Second of all, and more importantly, that life has a telos does not boil down to the notion that each species were purposefully designed. Purpose in Aristotle is not to be equated with telos, since it is only one kind of telos. The scientists miss this. Furthermore, they overlook that they already unwittingly name the telos of life, of course, without thinking at all about it, for they say there is a 'struggle for survival'. This means life is essentially a will to live. According to Aristotle (and today, modern science is by no means beyond Aristotle, but abysmally ignorant of his thinking), life is that mode of being characterized essentially by movement/change from within itself. Living beings move/change by themselves, rather than having to be moved by something else. Aristotle has four kinds of movement/change according to i) where (locomotion), ii) how much (growth and decay) iii) how (qualitative change, such as when a dog learns a new trick or a tree's leaves change colour) and iv) what (reproduction). The last named is a synonym for survival of the species. Life is that mode of being that strives to perpetuate itself.

Now, the evolutionary scientists' next move is to pooh pooh the idea that life could be characterized as essentially a will to live. Where's the will? they ask. Have you asked a plant lately what it wants? But there are different levels of will. Will that sees what change it wants and strives to get it is purposeful will. Wishing is a will that doesn't strive. Urge or drive is blind will, but nevertheless directed toward some end, some telos. Living beings are essentially characterized by the urge to survive. This urge includes the drives to flee or otherwise avert life-threatening danger, to nourish themselves, to reproduce.

So scientific evolutionary theory, albeit implicitly, smuggles in from the outset the telos of all life: the urge to survive. Life is that mode of being with the urge to perpetuate its own self-movement. All living beings strive essentially to bring themselves into presence and maintain this self-moving presence for as long as possible. One aspect of life's self-movement is reproduction itself, through which the species itself is propagated.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a scientific grasp about the inheritance of traits could have come up with the theory of evolution. The barrier was a psychological one, not a scientific one. I've seen references by various people before Darwin's time noting how much the apes resembled humans, and they were very upset by the mere thought of the comparison. The reason why Darwin hesitated so long to publish was because he knew he'd be viciously attacked, which is exactly what happened.

Darwin wasn't original. He was just the first man able to gather enough nerve to speak up, and he only did so when his vanity was stung by the fear of losing his triumph to Wallace.

candid_observer said...

While Darwin wasn't a flashy or precocious sort of genius, he most certainly was a genius, if the word has any meaning.

It is simply astounding sometimes to survey the full scope of his thought, both in terms of his deeply original insights, and his careful drawing of correct inferences from data.

The man almost never makes a wrong step, even when he is taking a bold and unheard of step.

If that isn't the genius of man in its fullest flower, what is?

Dave Pinsen said...

World War I was a mass killing of British elites, no?

Luke Lea said...

Steve says,"Yet, neither Galton nor Darwin impressed their contemporaries the way, say, Newton left his awestruck." Maybe that is partly because most people have never learned the language of mathematics, whereas they can appreciate good English prose.

I would say that Darwin is a genius in the same class as Newton, not because his basic idea of natural selection through variation is so easy to understand (Newton's basic ideas aren't so hard either -- we all learn them in high school) but because of the many subtle consequences he drew from that idea which are discussed in the books that he wrote after the Origin of Species (on the descent of man, equal status of sexual selection, the expression of emotions, etc.).

reiner Tor said...

I don't think it's disparaging Neil Armstrong to say that Charles Darwin was a greater person than he. Obviously both men were greater than I am, but that's not such a great accomplishment, even our host is a greater person than I am.

Anonymous said...

OT,

Steve, have you seen Charles Murray's letter to the students of Azusa Pacific?

http://www.aei-ideas.org/2014/04/charles-murray-an-open-letter-to-the-students-of-azusa-pacific-university/

What the hell are these "universities" going to do with Nicholas Wade's new book?

I hope Wade does publicity for it or else the media will simply ignore that the book exists.

Anonymous said...

dearieme:"Charles wasn't exactly a genius": are you mad? He was one of the greatest geniuses in history. What I suspect you mean was: "Charles didn't have an analytical intelligence in the top rank".

What that shows is that having such an intelligence isn't a necessary condition of being a great genius. It certainly isn't a sufficient condition either."

I don't know. When one looks at Newton, Shakespeare, Einstein, Beethoven, Kant, Michelangelo, Dante, etc, Darwin does look a tad...second tier. A brilliant man, just not quite in the same league as the titans.

Anonymous said...

Birth control has shifted human evolution into reverse.

Anonymous said...

Sean, you made me think of an interesting point I had forgotten...

It seems like everyone who posts on here consumes the same cultural products.


The Conan movies are rather obscure, as are the Jack Aubrey- Stephen Maturin books, and yet are referenced quite a bit (Sailer mentioning Master & Commander recently).

Interesting coincidence.

Matt said...

Steve quoted :Currently ... the correlation is relatively weak, with high-status parents having as many children as lower-status parents, or modestly fewer.

Anon : That implies that since 1960, there hasn't been a strong dysgenic trend in birthrates. Which is good news. (The bad news is that immigration is taking its toll.)

You can see this in Wordsum scores on the GSS as well - there is less difference in the number of brothers and sisters a dumb person has today, compared to a smart person than there was in say 1920.

All those huge broods that the early Twen Cen smart and rich observed among the poor and uneducated really weren't phantasms.

Dysgenics is still there, just much less than in the early days of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century (despite more female education and employment in certain jobs).

One driver of this is a major fertility transformation among very unintelligent women (Wordsum 0 or 1 out of 10). Such women have gone from having the most children to the least. Other low Wordsum women have lost a lot of their advantage, in terms of fertility, compared to smart women, but are still behind.

This seems to some extent to follow the typical demographic transition logic - smart nations (and people, generally women) move to a low fertility strategy earlier, but then stall out at low numbers of kids (you can't fall further than the floor), and eventually dumb nations (and people, generally women) catch up at reducing fertility.

We can also see this in the convergence of White, Black and Hispanic American birthrates

Cail Corishev said...

The Conan movies are rather obscure,

You mean "Conan the Barbarian," which grossed $100M worldwide, introduced one of the most recognizable action stars of its era, and spawned a variety of spinoffs? That obscure little film?

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's disparaging Neil Armstrong to say that Charles Darwin was a greater person than he


That's a real apples-to-oranges comparison, since they were two men in completely different fields. I don't think Darwin was a "greater person", but he was certainly a greater scientist than Armstrong. Armstrong was an astronaut and explorer and far greater at that than Darwin.

Steve Sailer said...

Galton is one of the weird cases in math history because his important accomplishments (e.g., the vastly useful correlation coefficient) came in late middle-age.

That leads into an argument over Is Statistics Real Math? But, of course, statistics are one of the useful things we've ever invented, but, in terms of difficulty, they seem to have lagged a century or two behind other types of math until Galton and his followers came along.

Anonymous said...

RE: Darwin's Genius,

One thing to bear in mind is that differing fields seem to require differing levels of genius. For example, here's a partial selection of the top scorers in Murray's HUMAN ACCOMPLISHMENT:

Physics: Newton and Einstein (tie)

Mathematics: Euler

Western Art: Michelangelo

Western Lit: Shakespeare

Earth Sciences: Lyell

Biology: Darwin

Now, all of these men are clearly geniuses. But I think that it would be fair to say that Lyell and Darwin simply do not strike most observers as being on the same plane with Newton, Einstein, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, etc.

Steve Sailer said...

Also, Galton theorized that at the very top of society, wealth became concentrated in heiresses who have no siblings, and they may inherit trouble having children themselves.

Anonymous said...

"57% of darwin's grandchildren having wikipedia pages?

That is incredible. I wonder what is the special sauce in that gene pool?"

They chose to have a famous grandfather.

reiner Tor said...

I don't think Darwin was a "greater person", but he was certainly a greater scientist than Armstrong. Armstrong was an astronaut and explorer and far greater at that than Darwin.

I used "greatness" as in 'who is less replaceable', and I think Darwin was the less replaceable one of the two. Yes, Wallace would have discovered the same theory of evolution, but as Luke Lea has pointed out, Darwin made many other discoveries, and worked out many details to his theory, and as candid_observer mentioned, he almost never made a wrong step, even when he was bold or unheard of steps. Darwin-caliber evolutionary thinkers are few and far between. There are some, sure, but only some. On the other hand, there have been many astronauts, and if NASA or Roskosmos had unlimited budgets, they could fly several missions to the Moon (or anywhere else) per year before running out of suitable astronaut material. In other words, astronauts are more replaceable than truly great scientists.

When one looks at Newton, Shakespeare, Einstein, Beethoven, Kant, Michelangelo, Dante, etc, Darwin does look a tad...second tier. A brilliant man, just not quite in the same league as the titans.

How many composers are first tier? We know Beethoven is a first tier genius, but he was the greatest composer of all times. Was Brahms also first tier? Did Darwin reach the level of Brahms? Or Mendelssohn? Or Tchaikovsky? Was Tchaikovsky a genius? Was Darwin maybe the Tchaikovsky of science? Or was he second tier compared to Tchaikovsky? Or was Tchaikovsky not a genius?

And again, I'm not sure how much people disparaging Darwin read from him. He had astute observation skills, many original ideas (some of them more original than his theory of evolution through variation and natural selection), and a skill to translate those observations and ideas into very good prose. This sounds very simple, but very few people have them, especially the original ideas part.

reiner Tor said...

Now, all of these men are clearly geniuses. But I think that it would be fair to say that Lyell and Darwin simply do not strike most observers as being on the same plane with Newton, Einstein, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, etc.

Sounds like a fair and balanced view.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why Chuck D is considered to be a brilliant man. His opus magnum, "Origin," is one long and tedious exercise in question begging, argument from incredulity, and rampant sophistry.

If you already accept evolution as being true, then it's hard to notice how thoroughly Darwin assumes the truth of the very claim he's trying to prove in "Origin" -- i.e., that species arise through breeding that is influenced by the environment, etc. But if you don't accept evolution, it's obvious how frequently Darwin falls into this trap of assuming the truth of his claim within the body of his argument; i.e., begging the question.

Repeatedly, in every chapter, Darwin wonders aloud at just how impossible it seems to him that a Creator would go through all the trouble of creating each miniscule variation observed within and between species. So, golly gee, the idea of natural selection/evolution just makes more sense to him, by golly by gum. This isn't even an argument, as anyone with an IQ exceeding 95 knows.

Many times in "Origin" Darwin uses the word species to mean . . . well, whatever is convenient for him in that moment. And yet a clear and consistent definition of "species" is necessary for his argument to make any sense. At some points he uses species to mean the physical differences in cattle that he knows to be reproductively compatible! And yet at other times he uses species to refer to animals that are not reproductively compatible, the modern definition. Modern-day Darwinists engage in this sort of sophistry to this very day so they may simply declare that a new species has emerged from an old one, even if they are still reproductively compatible. And in recent times Darwinists are trying to move away from the firm definition of "species" that was developed in the 20th century and want to move back to the lazy 19th century definition whereby a race is a kind is a variant is a species, any which way that meets your needs in that moment.

150 years have passed since "Origin," and yet evolution remains in the hypothesis stage, lacking even one observed instance of speciation.

Dave Pinsen said...

The Conan movie that featured the famous quote wasn't obscure at all - it starred arguably the biggest action star of the decade. And Master & Commander wasn't obscure either.

reiner Tor said...

I'm not sure why Chuck D is considered to be a brilliant man.

Me neither. I never liked hip-hop. I guess Chuck D is only considered brilliant by those who are Public Enemy fans. Or maybe even most of them don't consider him brilliant. I have no idea.

Steve Sailer said...

I really liked "Master & Commander" but I correctly predicted in my review that its niche audience -- smart, literate, older white guys -- was too small to make it a franchise.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"I really liked "Master & Commander" but I correctly predicted in my review that its niche audience -- smart, literate, older white guys -- was too small to make it a franchise."

I really liked it, too. Last year, I added it to my annual Conservative films week on campus. For the curious, the films were:

1. OMEGA MAN

2. MASTER AND COMMANDER

3. LAST DAYS OF DISCO

4. THE AGE OF INNOCENCE

5. NORTH BY NORTHWEST

6. THE BIG SLEEP (Hawkes version, natch)



7. BATMAN BEGINS

Dave Pinsen said...

Looks like you were right.

I recommended it to a friend at the time, and after he saw it, he was struck by how much it reminded him of Star Trek. Nick Meyer, the director and uncredited co-writer of Star Trek II (per Shatner), wrote about how he was influenced by that genre (Horatio Hornblower in particular). Which raises the question of why Star Trek could spawn a franchise and not Master & Commander. But I think you've already offered the answer.

The dumbing down of popular movies that you've blogged about has become more noticeable to me. Two sets of contrasting examples come to mind. One is last year's Star Trek 2 reboot, which was brain-dead compared to the original Star Trek II (the best of the franchise's films, but not exactly high brow).

The second is the contrast between the current Captain America and the previous one. Not as big a contrast, in this case. Both share the weaknesses common to superhero movies, for example boring, pointless brawls between supermen who can't kill each other. But the previous Captain America at least had some witty touches, e.g., Captain America being used in stage shows for bond drives. This one was mostly boring.

Steve Sailer said...

Captain James Kirk of the Enterprise is openly based on Captain James Cook of the Endeavour.

Anonymous said...

"Captain James Kirk of the Enterprise is openly based on Captain James Cook of the Endeavour."

That might go towards explaining why so many male STAR TREK fans of my acquaintance are huge fans of the Aubrey-Maturin series.

David said...

Anon @ 9:39 AM

Good stuff. One "Ayn Rand"/Aristotle maven noticed some of those things and tried to offer an explanation of them years ago: Binswanger, Biological Basis of Telelogical Concepts. I wasn't convinced by it but it might be of interest to you if you don't already know it.

Aristotle is like the movie star father in the E! bio of Western Civ. His accomplishments were so great his kids felt they couldn't advance in life until they had magnified his every error as a basis for completely trashing him in rebellion. Later, at the end of the show, we sometimes see one of the kids admitting, "Maybe the old man wasn't that bad," but it's hard to bloom in a shadow.

Sometimes a man is so great he inspires more resentment than admiration. And some men - like A - are resented for the cult of brainless reverence that shrouded them later but which they had nothing to do with.

For example, If you say the word "Shakespeare" around contemporary writers, you will find a number of them muttering in what looks like a terminal case of repressed sibling rivalry. Cf. Tolstoy's embarrassing essay on "King Lear." (It's embarrassing because he gets the plot wrong and "doth protest too much.")

Anonymous said...

Re the nautical influence on Star Trek, it's amusing to see the pilot episode where the crew wear vaguely nautical uniforms and Spock bellows out commands at the top of his lungs in a sing-song fashion.

"De-FLECT-tors FULL inten-SITY!!"

Anonymous said...

David Pinsen:"The dumbing down of popular movies that you've blogged about has become more noticeable to me. Two sets of contrasting examples come to mind. One is last year's Star Trek 2 reboot, which was brain-dead compared to the original Star Trek II (the best of the franchise's films, but not exactly high brow)."

All the evidence that you will ever need regarding our cultural decline. STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) was a Hollywood action flick that incorporated quotes/references from both Dickens and Melville into the script. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS (2013)riffs on THE WRATH OF KHAN, but ditches the highbrow literary content.

Anonymous said...

David Pinsen:"The second is the contrast between the current Captain America and the previous one. Not as big a contrast, in this case. Both share the weaknesses common to superhero movies, for example boring, pointless brawls between supermen who can't kill each other. But the previous Captain America at least had some witty touches, e.g., Captain America being used in stage shows for bond drives. This one was mostly boring."

Disagree about THE WINTER SOLDIER. I found it much more entertaining than FIRST AVENGER, which dragged badly after the rescue of Bucky.WINTER SOLDIER was a much better constructed film, and benefited from its use of '70s conspiracy thriller tropes. Robert Redford was also quite fun as a villain, particularly as his character can be seen as a variation on the Cliff Robertson part in THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR.

There was also the added interest of seeing a big-budget action film address, albeit in comic book terms, Obama's policy of using drone strikes and assassinations as key tools in his foreign policy armory. Of course, this being Hollywood, Obama cannot be attacked directly. Hence, his proxy in the film is played by Redford and not by a Black actor.

Geoff Matthews said...

I always thought that Gregor Mendel's work on identifying the mechanism for evolution (genetics) was far more meaningful than Darwin's work.

Mendel, however, was an obscure monk in central Europe, who wasn't connected to the intelligentsia of Europe (or Britain, as the case may be), whereas Darwin did have this advantage. And Charles Darwin advocated pangenesis, which really aught to be a strike against him.

I think that Darwin's fanboys also like to use Darwin to demean religious folk, which would be hard to do with Mendel.

Dave Pinsen said...

The captain in Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama ruminates on Captain James Cook.

In Shatner's Star Trek Movie Memories he notes that Roddenberry wanted to move away from the British age of sail parallels, and was pissed with the direction Star Trek II took, so he leaked the plot twist about Spock dying. So they decided to have Spock feign death in the first scene (the Kobyashi Maru simulation) to counter that.

Dave Pinsen said...

Yeah, I was thinking about that too. Meyer mentioned in Shatner's book that A Tale of Two Cities worked not just because of the sacrifice theme, but because it was a classic that everyone knew the first and last lines of. Maybe not so much now.

Dave Pinsen said...

Yes, Robert Redford was a good casting choice. Interesting point about Three Days Of The Condor, which was a smart film. My girlfriend also noticed that when Redford's character opens his fridge it contains Paul Newman sauce, which was a clever, if sublim, touch.

But overall? Meh. ScarJo wise cracking while dispatching male commandos in hand to hand combat? Boring. It's not funny, it just emphasizes her invulnerability. One of the things Robert Downey Jr. brought to iron man was a sense of his physical vulnerability when he's outside the suit.

And I didn't give the movie credit for taking on targeted assassinations since they put the blame for everything on a fictional organization.

Anonymous said...

Khan's last lines(quoting from Ahab's final speech in MOBY DICK): "To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!"

Anonymous said...

Darwin was smart, but he clearly wasn't an overpowering intellect in the way that Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, and Einstein were. One of the things Darwin excelled at though was following a train of thought to it's logical conclusion, a lot of smart people couldn't or wouldn't do that, which is why he was able to become the face of evolution and Wallace did not. For example, Darwin was willing to accept the reality of sexual selection even though he had no idea how it could get started, he just accepted it because clearly there was evidence for it. Anyway Darwin wasn't the Newton of biology, he was the Copernicus, he was the guy that changed the way people thought even though it should have been put forward years before based on the evidence that was available.

Part of the reason that the idea of evolution took so long to get noticed was that it flew in the face of two millennia of Plato's idealist typology in Western intellectual circles. A lot of great minds missed evolution because they implicitly assumed Platonism to be true about the natural world. Ernst Mayr pointed this out in his reading on 19th century biologists. They were echoing this idea without ever realizing it was an assumption about the universe, not an observed fact. Just like blind adherence to Aristotle held back the development of astronomy, so did a similar adherence to Plato hinder biology.

Dave Pinsen said...

In that Derman speech I linked to above, he noted that mechanical engineering is based mainly on Newton's physics, plus some heuristics; that electrical engineering similarly draws on Maxwell's work; but there's no one giant he cites when it comes to biomedical engineering, perhaps because there wasn't a Newton or Maxwell of biological sciences.

Anonymous said...

Up to the level of mid-level college-level science, there is nothing more beautiful than Maxwell's equations. For those with even moderate math ability, their esthetics are astonishing.

The theory of evolution is an intellectual shadow by comparison.

Sean said...

Stop banging on about poor old Plato. The Greek colonels banned his books, that didn't make Greece the most scientifically advanced country in the world. Defining anything you don't like as an essentialist fallacy is like a disease.

"Just like blind adherence to Aristotle held back the development of astronomy, so did a similar adherence to Plato hinder biology".

No. Copernicus said things that were totally incompatible with the scientific observations being made by Tycho Brahe. Actually, Copernicus's followers ended up invoking divine intervention to explain the anomalies in his theory. It was hundreds of years before everything was cleared up.

pat said...

Steve asks the question - "Is statistics really math"?

It depends in which department you take it. If you take stat in the math department it will certainly be math. But most underclassmen take stat in the business, economics, psychology or even sociology departments.

I first took stat in psychology before the micro computer revolution. There was a special purpose room that housed the Monroe calculators. No students were allowed in that room except as part of a scheduled class. The goal of the statistics class was for the students to calculate one standard deviation in the semester. This was a 'cookbook statistics' class. There was damn little theory but an emphasis on following rote procedures.

Galton was an obsessive tabulator. He kept copious notes on the African expedition that brought him fame. He chronicled everything in minute detail. He would have done well in my beginning Psych stat class. We made page after page of columns of figures but not much time was spent on the big picture - what did it all mean?

I once read a sociology stat text. It was hilarious. It kept arguing that this difficult and obscure stuff was important to understand if you expected others to respect sociology.

I taught business stat at night for several years. I tried to use real math terminology and use real math theory. On the whole though very few business undergraduates could grasp it. The average American college graduate can only handle math up to about long division. It's hard to teach real statistics when none of the students can remember any algebra.

Most sociology majors look back on their stat class as a painful blur.

Albertosaurus

pat said...

I read all the Hornblower books in almost a single spasm. I went though four or five of the novels a week until I'd read them all. That was only a few weeks. I've read lots of book series but never any other so fast or obsessively.

Everyone seemed to think I would therefore love the Aubrey books too. I like the movie "Master and Commander" very much but I couldn't get through even one of the Aubrey books.

Part of it was because Aubrey is conceived of as a simple anti-Hornblower. Hornblower is good at math and bad at music so Aubrey is exactly the opposite. Hornblower is very private and conceals himself from even his closest officers. Aubrey is intimate with Maturin in a way Hornblower could never be. Hornblower is tormented by his perceived inadequacies and for most of his career by bad luck. But Aubrey is a 'hale fellow well met' who never 'puts a foot wrong'. His character is well suited to clichés.

In the movie the sizes are backwards. Russell Crowe plays the big Audrey while 6'4" Paul Bettany plays the smaller Maturin. Bettany always tries to conceal his size while Crowe always plays roles which call for bigger men. But it doesn't much matter - they fit their roles well. The movie is better than the books.

As I read the first of the Aubrey series I felt I could predict everything that would be revealed by just reversing how Hornblower would react. Aubrey was predictable and therefore a bit boring.

The real successor to Hornblower is Cornwell's Sharpe. Cornwell was caught in America with no way to support himself when he began writing novels based on Forester's books. Sharp is very reminiscent of 'Rifleman Dodd' who was Forrester's own anti-Hornblower.

Albertosaurus

Dave Pinsen said...

I didn't realize that Bettany was that tall, but Tim Robbins is of similar height and has handled bookish roles fairly well too (e.g., as the philosopher/postman in Jacob's Ladder).

Anonymous said...

The thing about Maxwell's equations is that in a few lines, easily accessible to those with moderate math skills, the underpinnings of electricity and magnetism are described. And by the way, they interact to propagate at 300km/s, which hmmm happens to be the speed of light.

It is a shame that some of these math and physics discoveries are presented as just some geek stuff, and not as artistic pinnacles of human achievement.

Melendwyr said...

Goodness, what's with all of the anonymous Creationists suddenly posting?

It's fairly easy to become too fond of the label of 'genius'. Both Newton and Einstein had periods of almost incredible inspiration and creativity. But then Newton suddenly stopped and devoted himself to trying to find hidden messages in the Scriptures and rigorously exploring alchemy, which may have resulted in serious mercury poisoning. He accomplished virtually no natural philosophy after his initial flush of work. Einstein had his famous 'Miracle Year', then slogged through the very difficult task of extending his original insights, then became bogged down trying for Grand Unification.

There have been quite a few people as bright as them. To be famous for changing the world, one must be both talented and lucky. You don't hear much about the clever folk who don't happen to become famous.