Against Biology

It seems that the talking classes in this country think that human biology mostly doesn’t matter.  The sexes have exactly equal mean abilities and interests – more than that, even the standard deviation must be the same in men and women.  Presumably the third moments as well.

Race doesn’t exist, so there can hardly be cognitive or personality differences between races. There are no average differences in  mental capabilities between classes.   IQ is not heritable, so eugenics cannot work. Intelligent women should eschew reproduction – that’s something poor people can do just as well, and with the usual 10,000 hours of practice, their kids can be anything they want to be – cowboy, fireman,  or Indian chief. Lest I forget, low test scores in black children are caused by laconic parents, which is why the few children of those career women should be raised by Guatemalan maids.

Homosexuality is the only genetically-determined personality trait – as well as being a valid lifestyle choice, and a floor wax.   So slash fiction should be the law of the land.



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53 Responses to Against Biology

  1. That Guy says:

    It’s great to see some signs of sanity, making a come back of sorts – the link is about Susan Patton’s ‘Daily Princetonian’ Article, which urges female students to find husbands before graduating:

    In my 9 yo daughter’s class a few weeks ago, the young female teacher started a discussion of girl’s/women’s role in society, and asked for a show of hands of which girls planned to have kids – many – then were there any girls who planned to have 3 or more kids – very few. My daughter said she planned to have 5 kids and the whole class laughed at her, as did the teacher, as if she were hopelessly backward?!

  2. Jim says:

    When I was twelve years old I read a book on the Negro problem in the US. The author mentioned the differences in average IQ between blacks and whites in the US. He argued that these were most likely due to environmental factors such as lead exposure, poor education, etc. Reading the book at first I found the author’s assertions plausible but then I reflected for a moment on it and I realized that a natural process such as biological evolution would be very unlikely to produce equality in anything.

    The scientific view of reality is psychologically very difficult for most people to grasp. The natural inclination for most people is to veiw the world animistically as governed by gods and spirits existing in an intrinsically moral universe. The way things are then must make moral sense. It is very difficult for most people to accept that the universe is utterly indifferent to our conceptions of rightness or fairness.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “The natural inclination for most people is to veiw the world animistically as governed by gods and spirits existing in an intrinsically moral universe. The way things are then must make moral sense.”

      Most people or most WEIRD people?

  3. It depends who is teaching us our biology. Here is Britain’s best known geneticist apparently arguing that mixing races is an intrinsically good thing, because it reduces the number of relatives held in common. Ashkenazis and Finns are lumped together with Pakistanis, without reference to PISA scores, IQ scores, or any behavioural differences. Comments?

    • gcochran9 says:

      Steve Jones is a pinhead. I’ve never seen him be right about anything. I would say that he is a liar, too, but it’s hard to tell sometimes with pinheads.

      Let us suppose that you take two population( same size), one with average IQ 100 and the other with an average IQ of 85, and mix them evenly. The average IQ of the new mixed population (with twice as many people) will be about halfway in between. This means that the number of people whose IQs exceed a high threshold will decrease markedly. The number that exceed 145 would down by a factor of about 3, assuming a Gaussian distribution. The number exceeding 160 would be down by about a factor of five. If that population ran into a situation that required exceptional smarts, they’d probably die.

      • Florida resident says:

        Dear Dr. Cochran:
        In your statement “The number that exceed 145 would down by a factor of about 3, assuming a Gaussian distribution” you assume that the resultant population will have Gaussian distribution with the _new_ mean, but with the _old_ standard deviation.
        Was it your statement ? If so, can you explain biological reasons for it ?
        Respectfully, F.r.

      • Florida resident says:

        To James Thompson, April 3, 2013 at 6:53 am .
        Yes, the smart fraction will be diminished. I am ready to agree with (published in 2002),
        that quite possibly it is smart fraction — what is important.
        But Dr. Cochran’s statement looked like absolute number or smart people would also diminish. I have no my own opinion on the subject, but would like to see _all_ the assumptions made.
        Respectfully, F.r.

      • Matt says:

        Florida Resident – “Dr. Cochran’s statement looked like absolute number or smart people would also diminish”

        If the standard deviation remains constant and does not increase, then an increase in population size of 200% would not be sufficient to maintain the same absolute number of people beyond 145 high threshold in the wake of a 7.5 point IQ decrease.

        E.g. with a population of mean IQ 100, SD 15 and population size 100,000, you would expect 135 people to exceed threshold 145, while with a population of mean IQ 92.5, SD 15 and population size 200,000, you would expect 46 people to exceed threshold 145 (reduction by a factor of 3, as Dr Cochran describes).

        If the population with IQ 92.5 had an increased SD by even 10% (let alone the maintained the full level of variation that the two populations, mean 85 and mean 100, would have had as a pooled sample, which btw would still present as approximately Gaussian, not bimodal)… then the number of greater than 145 people would be unchanged, if they then had 2x the population (although higher up and lower down there would be differences).

        But that doesn’t seem to happen with mixed populations… (conversely sibling groups reportedly have an SD around 80% the size of the whole population SD).

      • Anon says:

        I have difficult time accepting this assertion. Wouldn’t mixing of races increases number of advantageous mutations specific to the race passed to the offspring?

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re mixing different time scales, and different selective regimes. if selective pressures favored higher IQ, which they don’t right now, a population with greater genetic variety might respond more rapidly than one with limited genetic variety. The ultimate response to those selective pressures might be greater. If a mixed population had more genetic variation, it might ultimately become smarter, even some of the mixture came from a less-smart group (say Neanderthals). All of this is particularly likely to be the case if the population is small, so that generation of new genetic variation is low.

          Since there isn’t any selective pressure for higher IQ today, the extra genetic variety doesn’t do any good.
          If there were such pressures, the response (under most plausible scenarios) would take a a long time – centuries or probably longer.

          On human time scale, in current conditions, this kind of admixture significantly reduces IQ. And then it continues to decrease, as it probably is in every population, mixed or not.

      • Isabel says:

        “If that population ran into a situation that required exceptional smarts, they’d probably die.”

        I would love to hear a scenario where this could occur, and when it may ever have allegedly occurred in history. The people in control of the US for example are not the smartest, nor are the smartest respected and listened to by the voting public. eg climate change.

    • Henry Harpending says:

      It’s AgSci 101: r=h^s where r is the response and s is the selection differential, the difference between the population mean and the mean of the parents. So if parents were selected such that their mean IQ was 100 then s=15=(85-100) and the response would be 12 if the additive heritability is 0.8. The mean IQ of the next generation would be 85+12 = 97. Not implausible if eugenic controls were brutal enough.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are there any known quantitative traits for which the narrow-sense heritability is over 0.8? (By that, I mean, other than obvious things like skin color in a sample of Brazilians.)

      • misreavus says:

        (Commenter above was me)

      • Matt says:

        For a population of mean IQ 85, a subset with mean IQ 100 would basically be all the population on the right hand side of the normal distribution. So that would be a situation where the RHS each have twice (like 2 to 1?) the children of the LHS in one generation (>).

      • Richard Sharpe says:

        So, would than mean that 84% of the population would not be allowed to reproduce? All those below one SD above the mean, assuming an SD of 15.

      • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

        Surely the last two are wrong. The mean of all those individuals above 1SD above 85 is going to be a little more than 100, while all those above IQ 85 would have a mean closer to 85 than 100 (because 68% of them are in the SD from 85 to 100 again with a larger proportion between 85 and 92.5 than between 92.5 and 100.)

        Unfortunately I am not smart enough to come up with an analytic expression for how many SDs above the population mean would give you a population with a mean of 100.

      • Matt says:

        Doorman – I don’t have enough math ability to give an analytic expression, but generated up a normal distribution in Excel, and the top 50% of a mean 85, SD of 15 does have a mean of 97. Of course, that is 97, and the cutoff would need to be the 90 to give exactly 100.

        What you say re: “68% of them are in the SD from 85 to 100 again with a larger proportion between 85 and 92.5 than between 92.5 and 100”. was exactly right, but the outcome was still as it was.

        I was still wrong though. Given the equation Dr Harpending has given, you would actually need a parental mean of 104, which is actually the top 25% of a mean 85, SD 15 distribution.

  4. K says:

    Is it possible for a population with IQ 85 to raise their intelligence by intensive selection, and if so how long will it take?

    • gcochran says:

      Sure. Time required would depend on intensity of selection. You could do it in one generation if you could stop the bottom ~95% from breeding.

      Right now I don’t think that any population is selecting for higher IQ.

      • JayMan says:

        Yep, unfortunately…

      • jason says:

        Certainly no IQ selection in terms of national populations, but you could argue that there is a type of new globalised elite class, particularly in finance, whose membership is determined by academic ability and which to a large extent finds mates among colleagues, or colleagues’ sisters, or former classmates. There are probably only a few hundred thousand of them, but if you move between the global financial centres like London, New York, Zurich and Singapore you’ll still manage to bump into the same people. In the past, the smartest 1 percent didn’t get the chance to mate with each other so easily, as they were too geographically and socially dispersed. The process is reinforced when they send their kids to the same expensive private schools. Maybe these are the future Morlocks.

    • Toad says:

      You’re going to need a few more cc of brain volume to get those iq points. And that bigger brain is going to need a bigger skull to house it. So a long time.

    • The fastest kind of selection for a quantitative trait is truncation selection in which everyone on one side of a threshold reproduces. Problem is that we have to (rather, I have to) look up numbers in a table or compute them since there aren’t simple closed forms for the numbers we need.
      If you don’t have Mathematica handy a quick free way to find the numbers is with python and the scipy module. Linux distributions keep their libraries synced and everything can be gotten from their repositories. On Windows or Mac do not try to do it yourself: you will end up in version hell. The enthought python distribution is free, it has everything you need, and all the modules work together.
      Back to the issue of our IQ 85 population. In order to boost the mean IQ to 100, i.e. a response of 15 points or 1 standard deviation, the selective differential must be about 19 IQ points since 15/0.8 is about 19. We (read our new Chinese eugenics masters) need to truncate reproduction so that the mean of parents is 1.25 (or 1/0.8) standard deviations above the mean.
      in python:

      % from scipy import truncnorm
      % truncnorm.mean(.65,Inf)
      Here, .65 was a guess and the output is pretty close. Actually I sat and tried different values and found .65 to be close enough.

      Now the overlords issue reproduction permits to everyone with an IQ test score greater than .65 standard deviations over the mean of 85, that is about 95. What fraction of the population gets a permit?

      % from scipy.stats import norm
      sf here is “survivor function”. Our overlords would allow breeding only among the top quartile of the population, i.e. with an IQ of 95 or greater.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Not all criminals are dumb but at least 2/3 of them are so a strict criminal justice system designed to keep criminals locked up during their prime reproductive years ought to have an effect over time.

  5. NotEntirelyJoking says:

    So, are you saying that you want to see my slash fiction of you and Harpending, or not?

  6. Kiwi Observer says:

    ***Intelligent women should eschew reproduction – that’s something poor people can do just as well***

    I have posted this before, but Professor Jim Flynn of all people burst this little bubble a few years ago in NZ. He created a bit of a stir from memory. Some people thought he was being serious about a contraceptive in the water and were outraged. The Children’s Commissioner came out to re-assure people that intelligence is randomly distributed.

    “Everyone knows if we only allowed short people to reproduce there would be a tendency in terms of genes for height to diminish. Intelligence is no different from other human traits,” he told the Sunday Star-Times.

    “A persistent genetic trend which lowered the genetic quality for brain physiology would have some effect eventually.”

    Statistics show women without tertiary qualifications who had reached their early 40s had produced 2.57 babies each.

    In contrast, women with a higher education were producing just 1.85 babies each.

    Dr Flynn said at 73 he was too old to worry about offending anyone. ..

    “I do have faith in science, and science may give us something that renders conception impossible unless you take an antidote,” he said.

    “You could of course have a chemical in the water supply and have to take an antidote. If you had contraception made easier by progress, then every child is a wanted child.”

    Commissioner for Children Cindy Kiro said Dr Flynn was getting into “dangerous territory”.

    “Rather than talking about encouraging smart women to have babies and dumb women not to have babies, what we do need to do is make the commitment to good quality education.”

  7. Greying Wanderer says:

    Maybe peak insanity will come just before it all pops.

  8. A Erickson Cornish says:

    Speaking of third and especially second moments, it has been mentioned around these parts that the widely observed (by those who care to see) greater variance in various traits in human males is at least partially due to men being the heterogametic sex. This is of course most pronounced in traits for which the X chromosome is enriched, and owes to the basic molecular fact that heterogametes must be hemizygous for any genes that are sex-linked, and thus cannot be heterozygous: it is all or nothing for genes on the X chromosome for men.

    Despite what you may have been told about the birds and the bees, sex determination in birds is quite different than in humans: males are homogametic with two Z chromosomes, and females heterogametic with one Z chromosome and one W chromosome. My question is whether there is greater observed variance in females in such species, particularly for traits for which the Z chromosome is enriched? What little inquiry I have made on Google has failed to yield much in the way of answers to this question, or even if anybody else is asking it.

  9. Pingback: A Fat World – With a Fat Secret? | JayMan's Blog

  10. Noname says:

    Dear Cochran the most important is political Correctness. 😛

  11. This is very odd, in that I just now posted an essay on what the elites think about IQ and education.

    • Mitchell Porter says:

      Is there an intelligent discussion somewhere of the relationship between IQ and more down-to-earth properties? What I mean is that “IQ of 85” is rather different to “being 6 foot tall” or “having a vocabulary of 2000 words”; it’s a metric of how well you perform on a highly heterogeneous set of tasks (the IQ test) that have been selected to produce evaluations consistent with those obtained from other sets of heterogeneous tasks (other IQ tests).

      In a civilization which truly understood cognitive neuroscience, the primary data might be neurobiological (e.g. density of glial cells, size and efficiency of various brain regions) and cognitive (e.g. range of personal heuristics used, degree of self-awareness), and this would furnish the basis of a more objective and accurate categorization; and the categories of the IQ era would be understood as crude constructs mixing reality and myth.

  12. JayMan says:

    Here you go:

    CyberTracker GPS Field Data Collection System – The Origin of Science

    The Origin of Science solves one of the great mysteries of human evolution: How did the human mind evolve the ability to develop science?

    The art of tracking may well be the origin of science. Science may have evolved more than a hundred thousand years ago with the evolution of modern hunter-gatherers. Scientific reasoning may therefore be an innate ability of the human mind. This may have far-reaching consequences for self-education and citizen science.

    The implication of this theory is that anyone, regardless of their level of education, whether or not they can read or write, regardless of their cultural background, can make a contribution to science. Kalahari Bushmen trackers have been employed in modern scientific research using GPS-enabled handheld computers and have co-authored scientific papers. Citizen scientists have made fundamental contributions to science. From a simple observation of a bird captured on a smart phone through to a potential Einstein, some may be better than others, but everyone can participate in science.

    Now, while I can tease out the grains of sense that are mashed together into a mass of PC-hype rubbish here, I’m sure most people who read it won’t. Tweeted by Steven Pinker of all people…

  13. Pingback: Greg Cochran’s “Gay Germ” Hypothesis – An Exercise in the Power of Germs | JayMan's Blog

  14. JayMan says:

    I know you guys are busy, but if you feel the need to demolish some rubbish, then please, by all means (emphasis mine):

    Sex on the Brain – Phenomena: Only Human

    In this month’s issue of Popular Science, I wrote a (very) short column about “hardwired” sex differences in the human brain. My premise: There aren’t any meaningful differences, and the studies that go after them are usually riddled with faulty assumptions and methodological flaws.

    The idea of innate differences is cemented in our culture, as I discovered from the large number of hateful emails I received regarding the piece (far more than any other story I’ve written). Today on Twitter, neuroscientist Kevin Mitchell launched a conversation about my column, which he found to be riddled with assumptions and flaws of its own.

    Talk about Against Biology….

  15. Pingback: Greg Cochran’s “Gay Germ” Hypothesis – An Exercise in the Power of Germs – Saffron Storm Trooper

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