National Character

Dan Freedman’s  work makes it clear that there are hard-wired differences in personality between different human populations.   On average, but quite noticeable.   Not just between groups that are separated by long distances or ancient population splits: there are noticeable differences between  Cantonese and Japanese, or between Chinese and Navaho.  Not all such differences will show up in the first day of life, but it is easy to see that first-day behaviors are innate.  Later behaviors may or may not be.

The standard belief in the academy is that there are no such personality differences between ethnic groups and races.  It’s not that they have some kind of argument based on genetics and selection and prehistory that makes such differences super-unlikely: no, it can’t be true because it would hurt their feelings.

You know, the people populating the social sciences are bound to be right about something, eventually.

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29 Responses to National Character

  1. John Harvey says:

    “It’s not that they have some kind of argument based on genetics and selection and prehistory that makes such differences super-unlikely: no, it can’t be true because it would hurt their feelings.”

    This belief that ‘we are all the same under the skin’ has itself become worthy of study because it seems to have attained many of the characteristics of a religion. It has a tightly bonded cult following with its own high priests, it blindly casts aside scientific findings without consideration, it proselitises strongly amongst the thinking classes, and it identifies unbelievers as demons or antichrists.

    • erica says:

      “This belief that ‘we are all the same under the skin’ has itself become worthy of study because it seems to have attained many of the characteristics of a religion.”

      Consider how this mantra has so successfully spread–the big money business of the “academy.” Those who run a business almost always want it to grow, especially if the risks taken to achieve that growth are financed with other people’s money. The academy is simply a business.

      It’s pretty simple: college presidents wish their enrollments to grow for with growth comes stature and power; governors want college enrollments to grow so that they can brag about it; parents want kids who have degrees; kids want those degrees; employers want a big pool of educated, well-trained graduates from which to choose.

      Things change though. While the college presidents and trustees and the governors are happy as every diploma is granted (makes for great stats), parents and former students learn soon enough that some degrees don’t give the great return they’d expected while others are almost worthless, and everybody looking for educated, well-trained employees find the pickings pretty slim.

      The hard sciences are tough. The soft sciences are easy–lots of “A’s” and “B’s” awarded for little to no work (and little to no thought) in sociology classes so there are lots of sections, lots of imbecilic people hired to teach those sections, and lots of graduates who know nothing but lies.

      It’s a business. What would happen if tomorrow our academies required the number of units required in the hard sciences ( not the watered down sections for the non-majors) be raised or if soft science courses threw out their requisite attachment to pc and demanded rigor? Fewer degrees. Who in power is likely to attempt to change things so that the result is fewer Americans with college degrees?

    • Josh Steinberg says:

      ***tightly bonded cult following with its own high priests***

      Indeed, Jonathan Haidt has discussed this in terms of tribal moral communities protecting sacred values:

      “If a group circles around sacred values, they will evolve into a tribal-moral community,” he said. “They’ll embrace science whenever it supports their sacred values, but they’ll ditch it or distort it as soon as it threatens a sacred value.” It’s easy for social scientists to observe this process in other communities, like the fundamentalist Christians who embrace “intelligent design” while rejecting Darwinism. But academics can be selective, too, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan found in 1965 when he warned about the rise of unmarried parenthood and welfare dependency among blacks — violating the taboo against criticizing victims of racism.

      “Moynihan was shunned by many of his colleagues at Harvard as racist,” Dr. Haidt said. “Open-minded inquiry into the problems of the black family was shut down for decades, precisely the decades in which it was most urgently needed. Only in the last few years have liberal sociologists begun to acknowledge that Moynihan was right all along.”

      Similarly, Larry Summers, then president of Harvard, was ostracized in 2005 for wondering publicly whether the preponderance of male professors in some top math and science departments might be due partly to the larger variance in I.Q. scores among men (meaning there are more men at the very high and very low ends). “This was not a permissible hypothesis,” Dr. Haidt said. “It blamed the victims rather than the powerful. The outrage ultimately led to his resignation. We psychologists should have been outraged by the outrage. We should have defended his right to think freely.”

      • misdreavus says:

        But of course, Moynihan was wrong, and so are the sociologists.

        Single mothers raise children who are prone to crime, lackluster academic performance, and dysfunctional behavior first and foremost because of their genes. In the long term, having a father in the home does not make much of a difference. (If you are incredulous, you can consult the longitudinal adoption studies.) Educational attainment has gone _up_ among African Americans since the end of Jim Crow, not _down_, while test scores have remained stable since the 1970s (check the NAEP statistics).

        Incarceration rates among black males have gone up, too, but I doubt that has much to do with single parenting, but everything to do with rigorous enforcement of the law. Point is, there has never been a mythical time in American history when blacks were particularly studious, law abiding, or chaste. Social conservatives are so stupid about this. I remember reading in The Truth About Lynching and the Negro in the South by Winfield Collins (1918) that documented rates of illegitimacy among Southern negroes, where statistics were available, often reached 25% or higher. I don’t know if this is true, but it sounds very plausible.

        James R. Flynn also brings up the point that the ratio of black men to black women who are eligible for marriage is particularly low, in no small part due to higher rates of incarceration and unemployment among black men, as well as intermarriage between black men and white women. Since all women everywhere express the desire to bear children (well, it’s biology), plenty of black women can’t help but have children out of wedlock. Or so goes his argument.

        • gcochran9 says:

          If divorce, broken homes, illegitimacy, etc had strong negative effects on academic achievement or ability, test scores should have collapsed over the past 50 years. Obviously they haven’t.

          This is all pretty obvious if you look at the record for five minutes, but somehow … You know, I’d really like to know whether the people spouting all this absurd crap really believe it: or, more exactly, what the distribution is. How many believe, try to believe, lie in their teeth, have various agendas, etc. Between sodium pentothal, functional MRI scanners, ‘ enhanced interrogation’, and getting them stinking drunk while wearing a wire, it strikes me that this question can be answered.

  2. Greying Wanderer says:

    Heliocentricity part 2 with Boas as the Pope.

  3. James Thompson says:

    I think it is closely linked to the policy of non-selective mass immigration. Prior to that, there was no particular feeling that all people were equal in character or intellect. On the contrary, there was a view that different races and nations were fundamentally and unalterably different. Now the pendulum has swung, because: a) foreigners turned out to be not quite as different as expected and b) national differences had to be minimized so as to reduce post-decision regret. To the extent that citizens can be said to have decided to follow a policy of mass immigration, they do not like the cognitive dissonance involved in having bought the wrong policy, permanently. Hence the wish to believe that all will be well, in a generation or two or six.

  4. Chip Smith says:

    Freedman is a showstopper. He contributes a good chapter-length summary of his relevant research in The Manner Born. I would be interested in reading an environmentalist critique of his research if such exists.

  5. Good incendiary stuff! (Yes, such egalitarianism is definitely a religious position, no matter how you define it.) I reposted the first and linked to this one here:

  6. Jaim Jota says:

    …Not just between groups that are separated by long distances..
    Sir, the distance between Canton (Hong Kong) and Japan (Tokyo) is 3000 Kilometers and there is a sea in between. Of course, it was my inborn national character that made me write that pedantic critique. Comparing national characters was always the favorite talking subject. Homer compares the disciplined Myrmidons to the rest of the Danans. I entertain myself reading 18th century debates about which African race made better slaves. The Mandingo achieved better prices than the Angola. German nannies were preferred to Irish. Scottish mechanics could find a job in any railroad company. Prejudice, everywhere, all is prejudice.

  7. “No one ever changes his character from the time he is two years old; nay, I might say, from the time he is two hours old. We may, with instruction and opportunity mend our manners, or else alter for the worse, — ‘as the flesh and fortune shall serve’; but the character, the internal, original bias, remains always the same, true to itself to the very last — ‘And feels the ruling passion strong in death!'”
    —-Wm. Hazlitt (1778-1830), “On Personal Character”

  8. dave chamberlin says:

    1)racism that allows slavery-2)we are all equal at birth-3)give equal opportunity, admit unequal genetics

    But I’m starting to realize we will never get to realistic synthesis. Why? Because people are flat furious and in denial if they aren’t that smart and the we-are-all-equal salespeople will always have a hold on them because of it. It doesn’t mean people like Cochran can’t talk sense and reach people with his legitimate points, but it does mean that the we are all equal bullshit will always have popular appeal.

  9. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    You know, the people populating the social sciences are bound to be right about something, eventually.

    There is, I believe, an infinite supply of stupid ideas, so I am not sure I can agree with your claim.

  10. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    The good folks at The Level Playing Field Institute are looking for some of that magic pixie dust.

  11. Greying Wanderer says:

    “But of course, Moynihan was wrong, and so are the sociologists…Single mothers raise children who are prone to crime, lackluster academic performance, and dysfunctional behavior first and foremost because of their genes. In the long term, having a father in the home does not make much of a difference.”

    Within one generation yes but not over many. If you have an environment which favors women choosing what i used to call “steady” over “slack” men (which i now think of as K-type and r-type) then over time the balance of traits will shift. In a full employment environment the steady men do better with women. In the welfare underclass environment slack men do better.

    The same thing has been happening among the white ex industrial working class in rustbelt areas since offshoring began in earnest.

    • misdreavus says:

      Rushton’s r/K selection theory is a load of nonsense, although a female farming model (with poor paternal investment in children) does coincide with the demic expansion of west Africans in general, and Bantu speakers in particular.

      There’s a lot of stupidity to be found in his magnum opus. For one, it makes little sense to speak of a broad-ranging “Mongoloid” race that exists everywhere from Kalmykia to the Philippines. Jesus, evolution works a hell of a lot faster than that.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “Rushton’s r/K selection theory is a load of nonsense”

        You can see it happen in front of your eyes among the welfare underclass – especially in rustbelt ex industrial working class areas that transitioned to welfare underclass.

        The r-type men whose behaviors previously limited them to the fringes of those societies – never completely disappearing because there’s always some naive teenage girls who fall for them and have their kids – suddenly supplant the previously dominant K-type men because K-type behaviors are no longer successful in their changed environment.

        Literally in front of your eyes.

      • kn83 says:

        The “Mongoloid” race is a legit category, though I agree that they are far from homogeneous.

        R/K selection theory has been empirically validated multiple times, one can see it with your own eyes.

  12. AG says:

    Regarding national character, you all should be interested in the following research

    Nordic german at one extrem, Southerners and middle easterners at other.
    Angolo and Chinese are most reactive to the how the rules have been set. In other words, Confucius and Angolo cultures are most adaptive to the enviroments.

    At end, some people you should never trust.

  13. unladen swallow says:

    I seem to recall that Freedman’s research was mentioned in E.O. Wilson’s book On Human Nature, which was his follow-up to Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, but written for a more general audience, it came out in 1979. It doesn’t appear that anyone bothered to follow up the study over the last 30 years plus. How very scientific of social scientists.

  14. troll says:

    Theorem: The differences mentioned in the post are actually socially constructed.

    Proof: But, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, haven’t you heard of epigenetics? Plus, it is well-known that conditions in the womb matter and can be influenced by social factors, so social factors are indirectly affecting the fetus.

    Therefore, these differences are socially constructed after all. QED.

  15. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    Could this be accurate or do they have an axe to grind?

    Sex Differences in Developmental Inputs received by North American Children

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  17. Staffan says:

    Psychologists Terraciano and McCrae have found national average in personality to correlate with culture level traits, although they still want to distance themselves from the idea of national character. I guess it’s a dirty term.

  18. David Ashton says:

    PC propaganda depends on the selection of “facts”. We are told that Chinese skeletal remains in Roman sites is a triumph for multiculturalism whereas we are told simultaneously that there are no biological differences between “race” (except perhaps in skin color).

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