I can’t afford to think about that.

Once upon a time, a young geneticist was applying for a position at the University of New Mexico.  I believe he said something about the Ashkenazi hereditary diseases.  Someone on the faculty,  known to be susceptible to crimethink, asked him if he thought that the sphingolipid diseases (Tay-Sachs,  Gaucher disease, etc) might have something to do with selection for intelligence.  Don’t know how he ever got that notion.

The young visitor said that he couldn’t afford to think about that.  He was just starting his career, and he couldn’t afford to touch anything politically sensitive.  He said, maybe people like Harpending, with tenure and all that, could afford to think about it, but not him.

They didn’t give him an offer.  That could well have happened because they weren’t that excited about his work, or were more excited about someone else’s work, or maybe the money evaporated –  but it seems to me that although some degree of cowardice is of course required, nobody feels comfortable hearing someone loudly and publicly proclaim his utter wormhood.  We all love Big Brother, but you should really get a room.

Mind you, if he thought the idea was obviously wrong, he could have said so, and said why.  I don’t think that would have gotten him into any trouble.  But that didn’t happen.

Is there pressure – strong pressure – to avoid certain topics and conclusions in human biology?  Sure.  Another young researcher wanted to do a genetic study of students to see if those same Ashkenazi sphingolipid mutations boosted IQ.  And his advisor said, sure, if you want to become an unemployable pariah and get me in trouble. That young researcher reaction was ” fuck ’em all –  let’s try it anyway!”.  I like him.  But it didn’t pan out, logistically.

A certain person we will not name, famous for the discovery of the double helix,  once said “Harpending must really have balls of steel, in order to take a genetic look at Jewish intelligence.”   Why should it take balls of steel?  And, for that matter, why are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?

Isn’t there equivalent political pressure in an opposite direction?  No, not any.

People in human genetics generally know that ‘the race/IQ issue is toxic to anyone who touches it’.  They can’t risk being involved.  This is easier if their research interests lie elsewhere, true for many people. Some think that there probably is a genetic component of population differences in IQ, but simple say nothing in public.  I know some people like this.

Is this toxicity the reason for some of the silly things we hear out of these people?  Part of the reason.  I don’t think it’s anything like the complete explanation.








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174 Responses to I can’t afford to think about that.

  1. Polymath says:

    The complete explanation is remarkably unpleasant.

    The short version is that character and virtue have been successfully destroyed as ideals that people should aspire to, so no one will stand up to the weasels.

    Where it gets really unpleasant is when you investigate who did the destroying, and why, and who should have resisted it, and why they didn’t.

    The only practical way around this is private research funding. There’s more of it than most people imagine. But would-be scientists have been miseducated so that they can’t tease apart the intellectual and social aspects of being a scientist, and they are therefore pathetically vulnerable to pressure by the socially skilled destroyers.

    • dearieme says:

      In the rather farcical British method of evaluating research, getting grants from government bodies rates higher than raising non-government funds. Of course, one could leave the university system altogether, and try to pursue a private practice in research. For that to work on any scale we’d really need a dissolution of those monasteries.

      • Sinij says:

        There is very little commercial value in this type of research. How would you monetize if you could show that mutation X, Y causes +/- a% IQ?

        • Ilya says:

          In a non-plundering, non living-for-today society,you could monetize if the capitalist government turned the whole procreation process into a long term capitalistic enterprise (that excludes sex and porn, obviously). Namely, turning people-making into an investment-like process, with: 1) future person being represented as something akin to PTC (publicly traded company) with taxable income, as well as producing dividends and capital gains; and 2) business opportunities/jobs being created and maintained in proper sectors (eg science/math) of the economy to steer the investment process into pro-eugenic direction.

          In that case you could certainly monetize the whole process by making the pedigree of a mating pair subject to valuation, as well as making the cell fertilization and gamete implantation lab controlled (which would also enable to discover the market value for said gamete’s future fetus by analyzing its genome).

        • gwern says:

          How does one monetize any research in general…? In this particular case, I can think of two possibilities right off the bat: embryo selection as an addon to IVF, and early drug development (target parts of neurology associated with X & Y).

        • dearieme says:

          You don’t need commercial support; charitable support would do. There would be far fewer researchers but that would be fine – it’s largely dross or worse anyway.

        • sabracakeboo says:

          Im thinking that maybe meds that control enzymes might have an effect….but i would think that they would need to be started at birth or in utero. Mine are off enough to effect certain changes but Im producing enough to enjoy good health. It doesnt take much, to produce the chemical reaction necessary to function normally. Maybe a drug to Synthesize the enzyme levels of a Heterozygote? But then youd have to live in a world where its hard to keep your mouth shut…because the general public isnt very bright and you cant correct everyone…

  2. east hunter says:

    well, so what is the complete explanation?

  3. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    The attitude of “I can’t afford to think about that” seems to be opposite to the attitude of “I must think about this trendy new idea” as seems to be evidenced by a recent paper in Science:

    Parenting from before conception

    The abstract says:

    At fertilization, the gametes endow the embryo with a genomic blueprint, the integrity of which is affected by the age and environmental exposures of both parents. Recent studies reveal that parental history and experiences also exert effects through epigenomic information not contained in the DNA sequence, including variations in sperm and oocyte cytosine methylation and chromatin patterning, noncoding RNAs, and mitochondria. Transgenerational epigenetic effects interact with conditions at conception to program the developmental trajectory of the embryo and fetus, ultimately affecting the lifetime health of the child. These insights compel us to revise generally held notions to accommodate the prospect that biological parenting commences well before birth, even prior to conception.

    Are they just slinging terms around for the fun of it or are they serious?

    • Ilya says:

      Perhaps they are saying that unless you believe in being nice to everyone and that everyone can be just as nice and capable as you are, your children aren’t going to succeed. Why? ‘Cause otherwise it’s kind of inevitable that your sperm gets methylated from all the hate you carry in your heart!
      See, who needs genetics when you’ve got epigenetics! It’s epic and it’s genetic –take that, you meanie!

    • The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

      There seems to be a dearth of mechanisms provided by the proponents of epigentics and a lot of magic pixie dust.

      Can anyone think of what such a mechanism would require?

      As I understand it, it would have to trigger on certain events that occur during the lifetime of an individual and would then have to tinker with the germ cells of that individual.

  4. Noah Carl says:

    Much of the next generation of research into the genetics of race and intelligence will probably get done in China.

  5. j3morecharacters says:

    I dont think so, Noah. The Catholic Inquisition supressed Galileo Galilei and his kin for centuries, yet China did not take up the thread. Sex research was suppressed in America (and Europe) yet the pathbreaking work was done in America.

    • Centuries? You’re thinking that in 1800 most men of the west believed in the Ptolemaic universe? Who knew?

      There was partial acceptance, and certainly a willingness to entertain the idea, even as Galileo was being punished. Other Catholics had already published the first hints. The authorities were mostly pissed because he was noisy, blunt, didn’t ask their permission, and wouldn’t make the required disclaimers. Which makes him endearing to most of us, of course, but that’s a different story.

      • reiner Tor says:

        Let’s not forget that Galileo’s evidence wasn’t as straightforward as they teach us at school. One of his opponents famously refused to look into his telescope. The reason was of course that a telescope needs considerable expertise to use, and the blurred images he would have seen in them would hardly have been conclusive.

      • Jim says:

        In Medieval times the issue of the shape of the Earth came up in Catholic theology since a literal interpretation of some passages in the Bible might seem to require a belief that the Earth was flat. But the theologians of the time reconciled Catholic dogma with a spherical earth without much controversy.

        But at the time of Galileo the Catholic Church was feeling a lot of pressure from the Protestant Reformation who charged the Church with moral and doctrinal laxity. In part in reaction to this criticism the Catholic Church felt it needed to prove it’s doctrinal purity.

    • Rudolf Winestock says:

      If we’re going to resist the chuckleheads when it comes to IQ research, then we may as well resist them when it comes to comic book history of science. Michael F. Flynn wrote on the misconceptions of the Galileo case.


      Long story short: Presenting the Catholic Church as the enemy of science and reason is bad history. Please find another metaphor to describe our current predicament.

      • j3morecharacters says:

        Another metaphor? OK. Athenians killed Socrates for impiety, but philosophical research did not disappear in Athens, it thrived with Plato and Aristoteles.

        • Jim says:

          But Aristotle did seem to take care in the way he expressed himself. For example he used the term “theos” for his “First Cause” which is no kind of god or person. For example as Aristotle explicitly stated praying to or making sacrifices to the “First Cause” is useless since communicating to it would require causally affecting it which is impossible. So the “First Cause” knows nothing of you or anything else and cares not a whit whether you are good or bad or whether you are happy or miserable. Nevertheless Aristotle recommended that common people perform sacrifices to the “First Cause” although he actually believed that such worship was irrational. By doing this he probably hoped to ward off charges of “impiety”.

      • Fascinating account. I knew he didn’t use the pendulum proof which he hadn’t worked out, but had no idea he had picked so many fights. Also, a very good description of the the arguments in favour of the geostationary position. More strongly argued than epigenetics.

        • Jim says:

          One problem was that many who were not influenced much by Biblical literalism simply found it hard to understand, why don’t we feel the Earth’s motion? In today’s world we are used to speeding along on a smooth highway or in a jet plane so we are used to unifoem translational motion. But in those times most motion was pretty non-unifrom. It seemed natural to many that if the Earth was zooming along at 67,000 miles per hour we should feel it.

    • It was hardly the Church’s finest hour, but I think it’s generally understood that the popular account of the Galileo controversy is nine parts cartoon, one part fact.

    • Kenn Teoh says:

      Your reasoning strikes me as severely defective – just because an incident occurred once it the past does not mean it’s bound to repeat itself indefinitely in the future. Otherwise Teutons and Celts would still be bogged down a in torpor of superstition and backwardness.

      Or are you making the vain assertion that progress in the sciences in invariably spurred by heavy suppression?

      • Jim says:

        Actually the Celts of 2,000 years ago seemed fairly dynamic although no doubt a little cruder than most Mediterranean people of those days.

    • Toad says:

      You can’t have a Rennaisance if you prove the ancient Greeks were wrong with your new-fangled Catholic lens technology. Next thing you know, someone will claim the Four Elements theory is wrong.

  6. 420blazeitfgt says:

    Acknowledging genetic differences behind the achievement of smarter groups means also acknowledging genetic differences between the achievement of dumber groups. Announcing to a sea of socially disadvantaged brown faces that there’s just nothing that can be done for them, what scientists are going to feel comfortable doing that? Even the less-PC ones?

    • dearieme says:

      How about instead saying “we’ll try our best to find among you those who will benefit from higher education”?

      • syon says:

        “How about instead saying “we’ll try our best to find among you those who will benefit from higher education”?”

        That would mean accepting the fact that other races/groups have a higher percentage of high IQ people, and they would never accept that.

        • dearieme says:

          Where’s the cut-off? Gentile whites seem to accept that Ashkenazis are cleverer.

          • syon says:

            “Where’s the cut-off? Gentile whites seem to accept that Ashkenazis are cleverer.”

            Perhaps one SD? Lynn has puts the mean Ashkenazi IQ at half a standard deviation above the Euro Gentile mean, whereas Black Americans are about one SD below.

            “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average IQ of any ethnic group for which there are
            reliable data. They score 0.75 to 1.0 standard deviations above the general European
            average, corresponding to an IQ 112-115. This has been seen in many studies (Backman,
            1972; Levinson, 1959; Romanoff, 1976), although a recent review concludes that the
            advantage is slightly less, only half a standard deviation Lynn (2004). This fact has socialsignificance because IQ (as measured by IQ tests) is the best predictor we have of success
            in academic subjects and most jobs. Ashkenazi Jews are just as successful as their tested
            IQ would predict, and they are hugely overrepresented in occupations and fields with the
            highest cognitive demands. During the 20th century, they made up about 3% of the US
            population but won 27% of the US Nobel science prizes and 25% of the ACM Turing
            awards. They account for more than half of world chess champions.”

          • Toad says:

            above the Euro Gentile mean,

            above the general European

            What is included in “Europe”? Portugal? Italy? Southern France? Kazakhstan?

            If you can pick groups that have concentrations of higher-IQ white ethnics you will get a higer average.

            … The General Social Survey …
            Mean IQ for whites

            Episcopalian 109.9
            Lutheran 107.4
            Mormon 105.7
            Presbyterian 102.3
            United Methodists 101.8
            Southern Baptists 98.0
            Assembly of God 94.5
            Pentecostal 92.2

            SAT scores by race and religion

            White M [math?]
            Unitarian 1073
            Quaker 1037
            Buddhism 1036
            Judaism 1030

          • athEIst says:

            40% of millionaires

    • Calvin says:

      What makes you think there wouldn’t be any smart brown people supportive of eugenics? I’d wager that if genetic differences were to be proven and accepted, the most vehement and ruthless proponents of eugenics would come from URMs. There were certainly Black eugenicists a century ago.

      There’s no reason to believe an aggressive eugenics program using methods already available — sterilization of the unfit (no fancy genetic engineering necessary) — would not work. Richard Lynn certainly thinks it would work. He also thinks regression towards the mean is overstated. Of course, the pace of improvement would depend on the number of unfit sterilized in a given generation.

      Put yourself in the of smart member of an URM. Would you not hate being part of a “dumb” group”? Would you not grow to hate the stereotypes and assumptions that came with it? Would you not grow to despise those low IQ people who drag down the average and cause most of your group’s problems? If you knew that the simple solution to you and your group’s problems was to sterilize everyone below a certain IQ threshold, would it not sound tantalizing?

      If a visible minority advocated eugenics, it would also lose much of the patronizing tone that’s hard to avoid when it comes from Whites. It would be harder for liberals to accuse that person of racism. If the minority were able to convince them that eugenics rather than pie-in-the-sky education policies were the best way to uplift the disadvantaged, then liberals might be more inclined to throw their support behind it.

      • Calvin says:

        First sentence of third paragraph should read “Put yourself in the shoes of a smart member of an URM.”

      • Sray Wylk says:

        The problems would come not from the smarter nonwhites, but from the dumber ones who would literally throw things and from the white academics who desire to feel good about uplift of the dumb.

      • JayMan says:

        Why use thought experiments when you can just ask one?

      • Jim says:

        Mandatory sterilization of low IQ people would require a truly totalitarian government. Maybe it might be possible to offer free sterilization with a cash bonus to lower IQ people.

        • reiner Tor says:

          I disagree. It would not require anything more totalitarian than mandatory vaccination or mandatory military service, and both have existed in decidedly non-totalitarian societies.

          it might be possible to offer free sterilization with a cash bonus to lower IQ people.

          That would breed for the low IQ personality type which nevertheless values having a lot of children more than cash. I doubt it would be extremely difficult a task for evolution to solve, and I’d bet a huge chunk of low IQ people would refuse the cash. But even if it’s just 1%, what to do with them?

          I’m personally no big fan of mandatory sterilization, but there is a big question here: if we as a society don’t let anybody starve to death, but nevertheless allow total reproductive freedom (apparently it’s even considered cruel to sterilize the mentally disabled with IQ points below 50), which leads to the fact that low IQ people have over-replacement fertility, this coupled with limited resources on this Earth – then we have a sure recipe for being overrun by morons and long-run collapse of society. (After which, of course, morons would be at a disadvantage again. In the long run it’s not even good for them.)

          I can’t say I have good answers, but that’s a question nevertheless.

          • Jim says:

            I agree that there is no easy solution to this. Evolutions’s own way of weeding out the unfit is cruel. Evolution is a cruel process. I think mandatory sterilization would run into massive resistence in a way that mandatory vaccination does not.

            Low IQ individuals who value having children more than cash might at least tend to a higher level of care for their children.

            Evolution is cruel but cunning. Maybe the time is not so far away when antibiotics are largley useless and mortality from infectious diseases returns to something like the level of earlier times.

    • JayMan says:


      Well, the thing with that is that reality has been showing them otherwise for a very long time. Is holding on to an ever-elusive hope that powerful a motivator?

      • minoritymagnet says:

        Eugenics might not be as easy as it seems. We are very far from understanding the genetic architecture of intelligence. Selecting populations based on a few criteria might have unpredicted consequences. Genes are not simple switches with singular, additive effects. They are rather pleiotropic, epistatic, multiplicative etc. and may not have full penetrance.

        We certainly have a precedence for sid-effects in the Ashkenazi Jews, the brightest human population. Albeit they are fairly ugly (Jewface), bad at sports, susceptible to diseases, prone to political radicalism (communsim), extremely ethnocentric and have unpleasant genetic disorders due to heterozygote advantage.

        • reiner Tor says:

          Ashkenazi Jews… are… bad at sports

          I read somewhere that they are overrepresented among Olympic medalists as well. The first Hungarian gold medalist, Alfréd Hajós was an Ashkenazi Jew, he won I think the 100m freestyle in swimming. It was in the open water of the freezing cold Mediterranean, and he learned to swim as an adult. Maybe conscientiousness pays off even in sports, after all.

        • Dale says:

          Well, Wikipedia has an article “List of Jews in sports” that has a lot of names. Google even offered “famous jewish athletes” as a suggested completion of “famous jewish…”. I must say the concept of Jewish football players tends to violate my stereotypes, though.

          Historically, the most famous (in my understanding) stereotype of “things Jews don’t do” is military service. But Mark Twain poked into that issue, and I’ve seen a few other sources, and Jews seem to be represented in militaries about in their proportion to their population. (There was even a Jewish Civil War general.)

          • gcochran9 says:

            Probably over represented in WWII, also in casualties: under-represented in Vietnam and in the volunteer army since.

          • reiner Tor says:

            @Greg Cochran:

            Probably over represented in WWII, also in casualties

            One woulda’ thunk that, but not really. 11,000 Jews were killed in WW2, which is 2.7% of the 405,000 American casualties in that war. Apparently the Jewish population was 4,770,000 in 1940, or 2.7% of the American population of 132 million at the time. So Jews were not overrepresented among the casualties. They were overrepresented among the servicemen, however, since according to the source above they accounted for 4.23% of all soldiers of the US.

            Jews seem to be represented in militaries about in their proportion to their population.

            I would argue that because the military is a highly nationalistic enterprise and needs extreme levels of trust among leaders and led, homogenous armies (especially from non-clannish high-trust societies) usually tend to perform better than less homogenous armies (including armies of clannish societies, where each clan behaves as if it was a different ethnicity), even if the soldiers might be individually better in the letter.

            That might explain the terrible performance of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy in the First World War (and in fact in all modern wars since at least after the Thirty Year War), even compared to Russia (where Russia didn’t employ Jewish generals, the AHM had several of them), or why the economically more developed (or at least German level) France performed worse with several Jewish generals than Germany without any.

          • reiner Tor says:

            The second part of my comment was in response to the comment of Dale, as is obvious.

          • M. M. says:

            Judenzählung Judenzählung (German for “Jewish census”) was a measure instituted by the German Military High Command in October 1916, during the upheaval of World War I. Designed to confirm accusations of the lack of patriotism among German Jews, the census disproved the charges, but its results were not made public.

          • reiner Tor says:

            According the article “Judenzählung”, there were 12,000 or 11,000 Jewish casualties. German losses in the Great War are difficult to assess, because most sources mention two numbers, either 1.774 million or over 2 million. To be on the conservative side, we can use the higher (12,000) number for Jewish casualties and the lower (1.774 million) number for total German casualties. We can also round up the German population of 1910 from 65 million to 67 million to allow for some population growth between 1910 and 1914. The Jewish population was, according to a source in the Judenzählung Wikipedia article, 550 thousand. This would give us a Jewish casualty rate of 2.2%, whereas for Germany as a whole the number was 2.6%.

            The results of the Judenzählung as mentioned in the Wikipedia article hang in the air: 80% of Jews were serving in the frontline could be very low if 90% of German soldiers were serving there or very high if only 70% of German soldiers did the same. It could be normal if 80% of German soldiers served there.

            In any event it’s obvious Jewish casualty rates were lower than German casualty rates. This is something one should not mention in polite company, so it’s difficult to find anything about it besides the fact – was that a result of German Jews shirking? Was that a result of a lot of them being doctors or working in other learned professions? Or some other factor? How do numbers of recent immigrants compare to older established German Jewish families? (One would suspect that recent immigrants were less enthusiastic about Germany’s war. However, the war against Czarist Russia was as Jewish as a war could be, so maybe recent immigrants were also volunteering in great numbers.) Also, how much room was there for someone who just wanted to survive the war? By war’s end very few people if any were still enthusiastic about it, but people still kept dying – I guess most people just had little choice. Maybe upper middle class people faired better. How do Jewish vs. German numbers break down by class or income category or whatever?

          • Jim says:

            The Vice-President of the Confederacy was Jewish.

          • Jim says:

            Since Jews in Germany were probably higher than average in SES a lower level of causalties than the total population might simply reflect their better than average SES.

            My grandmother was born in a large family of Rhineland peasants. Most of her brothers were killed in WW I. Rhineland peasants make good cannon fodder. Few of them were Jews.

          • Jim says:

            The higher average intelligence of Jews may have meant that they were more likelly to be officers as oppossed to grunts.

            • reiner Tor says:

              I looked into this further, and it appears that Jewish averages were roughly in line with those of big cities. According to this source München (Munich) had a population of 645,000 at the time, and 13,725 from that city were killed. This is comparable to the 12,000/550,000 ratio of German Jews.

          • Dale says:


            (Damn, hitting against the comment nesting limit again!)

            Wikipedia says that the only Vice-President of the CSA was Alexander Stephens and that he was a Presbyterian.

          • Jim says:

            You’re right. I was thinking of Judah Benjamin who was Secretary of State for the Confederacy. Before that he was Secretary of War for the Confederacy. According to Wikipedia he was a Sephardic Jew.

          • Dale says:

            @M. M.

            (Running into the comment nesting limit again.)

            In re Judenzählung, that’s interesting, it’s a solid data point!

          • j says:

            There are things never change. In the early days of the internet debates alt. – the rule was that the discussion ends when the Nazis are mentioned. Normally all discussions tended to reach that points quite soon. Nothing changed.

          • Dale says:

            Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies:
            As a USENET discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
            Sircar’s Corollary:
            If the USENET discussion touches on homosexuality or Heinlein, Nazis or Hitler are mentioned within three days. [Your propagation may vary.]
            — Mike Godwin and Subrata Sircar

            cephalopod9 wrote:
            Only on Xkcd can you start a topic involving Hitler and people spend the better part of half a dozen pages arguing about the quality of Operating Systems.

  7. Jim Blimm says:

    The problem may have been that “I can’t afford to think about that” is simply too honest & straightforward. It implles that 1) this is a real and meaningful question, and 2) there is an oppressive political force preventing me from exploring it. The politically correct answer would be “race is a social construct” or “this cannot be true since it would be abhorrent” etc.

  8. Most people want to be liked, and modern academia is a type of government funded public service, where you have the freedom to be ….. irrelevant, obscure, polite, but not obviously biting the hand that feeds you. Plus, your motives will be harshly examined by those who feel that their motives are, by definition, impeccable. All this is social pressure creating conformity, pure and simple. A far broader range of sources of funding would help generate more independent and non-conformist research, but the recruits to academia are mostly milder persons, socially conformist, firm believers in infinitely malleable, improvable humanity, and loath to hear about practical limits to human perfection.
    Balls of good intentions, not steel.

    • Sinij says:

      Academia does tend to create conformity. For this exact reason all social science devolved into cancerous groupthink. Now, when hard science, like genetics, touches anything related to social aspects it has to contort to not offend social science’s sensibilities.

      Solution? Stop treating social sciences as Science, and start treating it like we do religious studies.

      • No, then the mask would be off, and they’d have to ask “what am I worshiping, then?” That would be even more painful than acknowledging significant genetic involvement in human abilities and personality characteristics. That may indeed account for the reticence to think about these things. They have doubled down too many times and have to much to lose.

    • JayMan says:

      @James Thompson:

      Looks like I missed out on that. I’ve always been happy to go against the grain, especially if I think I’m right.

  9. Back in university I was curious to see if things were really as politically correct as the HBD blogosphere claims so I wrote a paper about IQ & genetics just to see whether it could get a fair grade, and my professor was too scared to mark it, so it was sent to another professor who marked it. LOL.

    It’s interesting that there’s so much pressure to be politically correct when it comes to IQ, but there’s no pressure to be scientifically correct. On the Internet there are all these pro-science watchdog blogs that will aggressively attack anyone who they feel is promoting pseudoscience, and yet I’ve never once seen these pro-science blogs attack people who minimize the role of genetics in IQ as promoting pseudoscience. On the other hand, most of the pro-science blogosphere probably believes that genetic IQ is pseudoscience.

    I don’t know what to believe anymore. My knowledge comes from reading Jensen who claimed that IQ has a heritability of 0.8 by later adulthood, but a self-identified participant in the prestigious BGI study is insisting on my blog that most studies show a heritability of 0.74; but even that’s too high because adoptive families have only 1/5 of the environmental variance of the general population. so correlations between the IQ’s of identical twins reared apart will be inflated by the homogeneity of their environment. I adjusted IQ heritability for range restriction in environment, and by my calculation.heritability drops to only 0.36 which sounds way too low. I wish Jensen were still alive so I could email him about this. The HBD blogosphere desperately needs more statistically literate people if we want to be scientifically correct, let alone politically correct.

  10. Jim says:

    It’s interesting to me that official truth will govern policy even if almost nobody really believes the official truth. After the fall of communism nearly everybody including former big shots in the old system said that they personally had never really believed the official doctrines. But policy was based on the official truth anyway. So what matters in setting policy is the official truth which usually does not have much rational basis. So policy in advanced industrial societies is profoundly irrational.
    So for example it remains the official policy of the US government to attempt to convert places like Libya and Iraq into Western liberal democracies despite the patent insanity of such a goal.

    • reiner Tor says:

      I keep reading on HBD blogs how nobody really believes the official view. I tend to very much doubt it. I personally believed it roughly before the age of thirty (before reading Wade’s Before The Dawn), and I keep meeting anonymous posters on different threads who espouse the nonhereditarian view with great moral fervor. I tend to imagine they are being honestly stupid, just as I had been. So if late Leninist communism was characterized by nobody believing the official truth, then we’re not yet there with cultural Marxism.

      Also I think it’s wrong to generalize that nobody ever believed the communist propaganda. Most people didn’t believe most of the propaganda, the obvious lies (some people even believed those), but many people did believe some parts of the propaganda, especially when it conflated with American cultural Marxism.

      • Jim says:

        I didn’t say that nobody ever believes official truth. But even if they don’t it doesn’t matter. Official truth still determines policy even after almost everybody has ceased to believe in it.

      • Jim says:

        Sure there were fervent believers in Communism in say 1918. But it is interesting that even as sincere belief in Communism began to fade it didn’t much affect policy. By the end of the twenties probably a majority of the Bolsheviks no longer thought that collectivization of agriculture made much sense but agriculture was still collectivized.

      • Jim says:

        For example consider Obama’s recent statements about forming an “inclusive” government in Iraq. Privately Obama may regard these statements as a crock. But that doesn’t matter one way of the other. It’s still official policy.

      • reiner Tor says:

        Jim, even in 1988 there were people who believed in huge chunks of the official ideology. For example that the system was not perfect, but that it was the best that worked for that part of the world. Or that even though the system was horrible, but if it collapsed, fascism would follow, so it was still better to keep the horrible communist system. Or that even though the system was not very good, but it could still be improved from within, and that with a few fancy reforms the system will get better. (Gorbachev seems to have taken the latter view, at least until maybe 1989 or so.)

        However, you still do have a point, that official ideology still defines policy even after most people ceased to believe in it. The reason for it is that in any totalitarian ideology (and the present official religion, which is a vague amalgam of nonhereditarianism, humanrightism, holocaustianity, multiculturalism, and other similar ideologies, is certainly a totalitarian ideology, at least in its aims and logical conclusions, if not yet in its methods) tends to suppress its alternatives. In the absence of a viable alternative, people will have a vague feeling that something is wrong with the official ideology, for example that somehow affirmative action never seems to achieve its goals, or that Iraq will never be a viable democracy, etc., but in the absence of an alternative worldview they will stick to the ideology because there is nothing else, unless of course they started to tear down the whole edifice, which is too radical for most people. (And could lead to unintended consequences, as Gorbachev is again a good example. It’s easier to destroy something than to fix it, and I guess our leaders are afraid of triggering civil wars or fascism or what not if the present ideology collapses. I too would be a bit afraid.)

      • Julian says:

        I tend to very much doubt it. I personally believed it roughly before the age of thirty (before reading Wade’s Before The Dawn), and I keep meeting anonymous posters on different threads who espouse the nonhereditarian view with great moral fervor.

        @ reinor Tor,

        This has also been my experience (although a good number also seem to be of the view, if it’s true, so what). I think Moldbug said some people believe it (neurouniformity) like they believe the moon exists.

  11. JayMan says:

    There’s more to our own Dr. Harpending than we thought. 😉

  12. Rudolf Winestock says:

    “Although some degree of cowardice is of course required, nobody feels comfortable hearing someone loudly and publicly proclaim his utter wormhood. We all love Big Brother, but you should really get a room.”

    Another way of looking at this is that he was blinking out “TORTURE” the way Jeremiah Denton did. Granted, it’s a lot less subtle. Also, note that he didn’t say that he agreed with the regime; he was pointing out that this regime of taboos exists. That’s more balls than most researchers have, these days.

    • Shakya Scion says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand the sense of negativity toward this hapless fellow. Just trying to get a job without having to directly state what he believes to be false. Not an easy job to get, I’d imagine. Easy for those of us who have sources of income that don’t require ideological orthodoxy to scoff at. The fact that a handful of people, such as perhaps Harpending, have overcome this problem and act ballsier does not negate my sympathy for the larger number who are victim to it.

  13. harpend says:

    I think we should all put our feet on the ground here. A lot of high quality biomedical research does get done, but so does a lost of really poor stuff of course.

    So imagine you have a productive lab funded by NIH with, say, a million dollar budget. You have some very promising postdocs and an army of techs with families that they have to feed. You spend a lot of time writing NIH proposals in order to keep the funding stream intact. When you deal with NIH you are dealing, in my limited experience, with a corps of department store mannequins dedicated to keep their own jobs there. You have to cultivate them in order to keep your funding.

    Are you going to speak up? No way. You will reason that the cost to scientific research, and your own job, not to speak of the jobs of ten or fifteen others, would far outweigh anything you would accomplish by speaking up. I can speak up since I don’t have a grant and am ready for pasture. But most of the signers of the PC manifesto cannot. Give them a break.

    • aisaac says:

      I can understand not wanting to publically proclaim potentially career-destroying views, but do they really have to sign a manifesto? Couldn’t they get away with just doing nothing?

      • Pincher Martin says:


        I can understand why scientists would be careful not to damage their careers. Most aren’t independently wealthy. They have families to feed and mortgages to pay. Competition is fierce in the job market, and so one can understand why they would be hesitant to say something which puts any sort of black mark on their records.

        But if they can’t say the right thing, do they have to promote the wrong thing?

        • I wonder how many other areas do scientists lie though their teeth to protect their careers. This can’t be limited to IQ & genetics. Offending phamartecuitical companies is potentially far more devastating to your career than offending disenfranchised groups, who by definition, are powerless. How much research in medicine never gets published because it refutes the conventional wisdom, affects some corporation’s profits, or makes some people vulnerable to a lawsuit.

          Meanwhile you have all these idiot “pro-science” bloggers who know nothing about science themselves, mindlessly attacking anyone who dares to disagree with the scientific consensus as dangerously anti-science.

          • gcochran9 says:

            Big Pharma lies significantly. Not always, nor do they always start out intending to deceive. Individual medical researchers lie too, of course: out of ambition, or because they fall in love with their pet hypothesis and are just sure it’ll pan out even if this one experiment looks bad. Sometimes they’re even right.

            Then there’s group think.

            No field is immune to these problems (although mathematics comes close), but some fields are much more infested than others. When a field no longer even pretends to be in search of objective truth, it’s ruined.

          • j3morecharacters says:

            I understand why Big Pharma may supress some facts: It is to protect their products/profits. But who profits from supressing data on the cognitive capabilities of the Bantu?

          • Big Pharma lies significantly. Not always, nor do they always start out intending to deceive. Individual medical researchers lie too, of course: out of ambition, or because they fall in love with their pet hypothesis and are just sure it’ll pan out even if this one experiment looks bad. Sometimes they’re even right.

            Very interesting indeed. And just as I suspected. You should devote a post to the specific topics they lie about; though you’ll likely be attacked by the “pro-science” blogosphere if you do that

          • Jim says:

            It’s pretty hard to deceive in the field of mathematics. If you write a paper deliberately containing a fallacious proof it will be eventually be found out and you will just look foolish. There are lots of mistakes in mathematical papers but few are the result of intentional deception. What happens other than plagiarism, which is a separate issue, is that someone discovers a result but can’t quite find a valid proof but still publishes a paper with an argument that they probably know is bogus.

            In the nineteenth century one of the English reviewers of Jordan’s proof of the Jordan Canonical Form complained that his proof was of the type that is only convincing to the author. Frobenius probably deserves the credit for the first really correct proof. Legendre in his book on number theory originally gave a totally bogus proof of the Law of Quadratic Reciprocity. In later editions he also gave Gauss’ correct proof but also continued to give his own “proof” and stubbornly refused to admit that his “proof” is hopeless. This was probably more of a case of self-deception. At any rate nobody else was fooled.

      • Yudi says:

        In this case, the geneticists saw it as part of protecting their career: who wants to be known as “the person who gave Nicholas Wade all those funny ideas about race that he put in his book”? Even being unintentionally associated with “those evil racists” is a career-destroyer, so they have to burn all the bridges.

  14. Pingback: linkfest – 08/17/14 | hbd chick

  15. a very knowing American says:

    I think it’s worth keeping in mind that the authors of “The 10,000 year explosion” dealt with a lot of controversial topics, including Ashkenazi IQ, but stayed away from the even more explosive topic of black/white IQ differences. Steve Pinker has given a fairly even-handed discussion of Harpending and Cochran on Ashkenazi IQ, but has been very careful not to step over the PC line on black/white IQ. Much the same goes for Nicholas Wade. I don’t in any way criticize any of these guys for being very careful about a topic that would, very likely, have moved their books from controversial to unpublishable. Murray and Herrnstein DID tackle black/white IQ differences in “The Bell Curve.” They got published and it didn’t cost Murray his job — he was already too big for that — but it did cost him pretty heavily, and helped make the topic even more radioactive than before.

    (The above is from memory,not consulting the books again. People should correct me if I’m remembering the books wrong.)

    • 420blazeitfgt says:

      I’m interested to know what Wade said about IQ

    • Jim says:

      Average differences in intelligence between Ashkenazi Jews and white gentiles and also between blacks and whites are easily noticeable to almost everybody. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to notice them.

      Murray and Hernstein did sort of “pull their punches” in that they ended their section on black/white IQ differences by officially leaving it up to the reader to decide the issue but the evidence they reviewed was pretty overwhelming in favor of a genetic component..

      Although this section in “The Bell Curve” was a very small part of the whole book it was the focus of 90% of the reaction.

      • Talking about group difference is fine, as long as you say the minority group is smarter than the majority group. That’s why the the 10,000 year explosion was not controversial while the bell curve was. Jared Diamond said Papua New Guineans are smarter than others and his book is the bible of the politically correct.

    • The 10,000 year explosion was not controversial in the slightest, I’m sorry. Even my mother enjoyed it.

  16. Old Curmudgeon says:

    From my warped point of view, the problem can be tackled by separating policy from description. No matter what a group’s IQ, production is what counts, not potential. I don’t worry about my doctor being the smartest; I want one who is knowledgeable, up to date, hard working and focused on giving excellent care. A genius who is a slacker and uninterested in saving my life is no use to me.

    Perhaps this can be more productively tackled by theorizing that some groups are more susceptible to prenatal damage from smoking, alcohol, high blood pressure, various illegal drugs, stress hormones, including from the uncertainty of unwed motherhood, and poor nutrition. None of these has to be bad enough to cause marked retardation if widespread enough. Is this the case? Who knows? Groups with lots of social problems can change; I believe the Irish in America were one such group; the Catholic Church was able to change how people behaved, in this case, to a surprisingly large degree. Ending social pathologies may not change IQ but it would give people a better chance at a good life.

    If as I saw suggested, the age of puberty is lowered when a non-related male is in the house, rather than the biological father, even more may be effected.

  17. jef says:

    David Landes, in his book “The wealth and poverty of nations”, makes the case that the Catholic Church is responsible for the backwardness of Spain and Portugal by expelling the Jews and banning Protestant books.

    • gcochran9 says:

      The Jews were expelled from England in 1290, from France in 1394. That presumably explains the ensuing backwardness of those two countries.

      • Larry, San Francisco says:

        I read somewhere that interest rates doubled in England after the Jews were expelled. The British and French economies were highly feudal at the time and so may not have been affected greatly. What is interesting is that many of the expelled Spanish Jews ended up in Amsterdam where they were a significant component in Amsterdam’s rise.

        • EarlyToRise says:

          Sure, but the rates didn’t double forever. They encouraged greater savings from the local populace and continued the cycle of improving human traits the Greg Clark described. Beats being farmed by a foreign usurer class.

    • Anyway,it wasn’t the Church that expelled them, it was the government. Some Spanish Jews actually found refuge in the Papal States.

  18. Anonymous says:

    You’re a boomer piece of shit and it’s your generation that caused this.

    And those guys not getting jobs at freaking New Mexico today are laughably more qualified than the tenured boomer idiots not hiring them ever were.

  19. Harold says:

    Calvin in a comment above brings up the sterilisation of the ‘unfit’.
    I see this a lot from eugenics enthusiasts (hence why I make this a separate comment rather than a response to Calvin).

    The trouble with eugenecists is that they are always in such a God damned hurry. If each ‘unfit’ had but one child, their numbers would approximately halve every generation. If the best, meanwhile, each had four children, it is easy to see that the ratio of fair to foul would easily increase quickly. Not quick enough, apparently, for your average eugenics enthusiast.

    • dearieme says:

      There’s no need to limit the number of children, though it would help. If you could just get the dimwitted to defer having children to their mid thirties rather than their late teens, you could achieve a lot. (This idea occurred to me many years ago, looking at the folly of the Chinese one-child policy.)

      • Laban says:

        “If you could just get the dimwitted to defer having children to their mid thirties rather than their late teens, you could achieve a lot.”

        Alas as you know, the incentives are all the other way. A not-very-bright British girl may never own her own house or (at current wage rates) be able to rent more than a bedsit, but if she starts having babies she immediately becomes A Priority Case for housing departments and benefits. Think of the children !

    • Ilya says:

      I tend to agree with your viewpoint. Hence, the reason I think it’d be better for government allowing each woman 1 child, but more than that would only be permitted via paid licensing. This could permit some measure of peace under the banner of “overpopulation” or “global warming prevention” while still not preventing a sense of normalcy engendered by one’s ability to procreate.
      But truth be told, I highly doubt whether anything like that would be viable within next decades.
      Even if someone tries to implement, how does one enforce? We can obviously detect whose child an orphan is, but it would take an enormous leap of culture to make it acceptable to arrest/seriously cite someone over illegal procreation. Plus, this thing needs to run over many centuries.
      Again, I see the only solution in a strong totalitarian gov or it may not end well for many.

  20. M says:

    On a tangential note, Stephen Hsu just released a new paper: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.3421v1.pdf

  21. Dale says:

    It seems to be an odd way to look at things. In the end, research science is an industry whose income is from US government grants. True, there are people who have other sources of income, and people with tenure have a guaranteed income for themselves, but most researchers are at big universities, they run large labs, and they’re always struggling to find enough grant income to pay their bills and those of their subordinates. And until they get tenure, they’ve got to crank papers out at a good pace, or they’ll not get tenure and they’ll have to start a new career at age 35.

    This is easy enough to see from reading the front articles in Science magazine. The ups and downs of the NIH budget are chronicled carefully, as well as other aspects of the grant landscape. One article carefully documented that though the NIH budget was rising, it wasn’t rising nearly as fast as the production of biology Ph.D.s, with the result that money was getting harder to find — and the money was being handed out in bigger blocks to more senior researchers, so a larger and larger fraction of the researchers who did get financing were foot-soldiers in someone else’s lab.

    The natural result is that there are many subjects that one cannot afford to study. Anything politically sensitive, of course. (And while violating liberal shibboleths gets the university crowd on your case, violating conservative ones will get the constituents writing Congress.) But also anything un-trendy in academia right now, because it cuts into the chances of your grants passing peer review. And any line of inquiry that may be unproductive — it’s much better to turn out twenty mediocre but publishable papers than try to solve one problem that could get you a Nobel.

    You could call it lack of courage. Or you could call it “I want to be able to support my family in a prosperous suburb.”

  22. WIlliam Kapriskie says:

    Is this toxicity the reason for some of the silly things we hear out of these people?
    There is another key reason to consider which is that the sweeping sometimes even bogus claims and strawman constructs of assorted “HBD” scholars in the field have been debunked so many times by hard scholarship that serious people are simply tired of having to rehash the same thing again and again, and having to deal with swarms of acolytes repeating the same with an air of messianic certainty. JP Rushton for example has been debunked numerous times on the scientific merits. Yet acolytes keep recycling the same old arguments, and not only Rushton but the hoary Carelton Coons, as if his obsolete work is gospel. It is rather tiresome to keep replowing the same old ground with said acolytes multiple times, including their injured persecution complex when their logical and evidentiary errors are exposed. Its like arguing with Marxist types and similar cultists- a futile proposition.

    The fear of many credible scholars is not taking on assorted hereditarians on the merits. There are so many holes, contradictions and sometimes falsehoods that serious people have little fear. The fear is that their oft distorted arguments and shaky assertions to have discovered “the truth”, will be accepted by the more gullible as credible science. There is also the fear of giving credence to and providing publicity for the toxic racist wing of hereditarianism, which is so often just lurking below the surface. In more polite venues of academia it is not seen much, but on the web the snarling, sneering brigades are well entrenched, with extensive networks going full bore 24/7. These brigades have all embraced hereditarianism and use its arguments quite frequently to push their own brand of hate. They have also learned the skills of “plausible denial”- how to cover their agendas and bottom lines under polite, even soothing veneers.

    • lol, that was funny.

      So where is all the “debunking”? And remember debunking one specific claim doesn’t debunk the argument as a whole.

      It’s not a “persecution complex” if the fear is rational. And it clearly is.

      “There is also the fear of giving credence to and providing publicity for the toxic racist wing of hereditarianism”

      Well at least you admit to having an anti-science agenda. Believe it or not, some of us are actually after “the truth”.

      • Harold says:

        It really was funny wasn’t it! I used to wish I could laugh at such stupidity instead of finding it maddening, but I never could. Maybe I am getting older, or maybe it was the particularly ridiculous tone but I really did find Kapriskie’s rant amusing.

        “They have also learned the skills of “plausible denial”- how to cover their agendas and bottom lines under polite, even soothing veneers.” This talking point of his, or similar ones, I have seen a few commenters make recently, as if they are all working from the same copybook, or maybe it just appeals to morons. Its point would seem to be to assuage the fears of HBD deniers who may be reading and starting to get a niggling doubt that the HBD proponents actually know what they are taliking about. Not so! They are just really tricksy with their science speak and it’s all just a cover for their seething hate, or so the Kapriskies would have it.

    • Harold says:

      What a crybaby.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        Egalitarian blank-slate Commies killed 85-125 million people in some of the most sickening mass murders in history, but somehow only hereditarians can “hate” – funny how that works, isn’t it?

  23. soren says:

    China is promoting mixed marriages in Tibet…

    “In recent weeks, Chinese officials in charge of the Tibetan Autonomous Region have ordered a run of stories in local newspapers promoting mixed marriages. And according to newly published government reports, the government has adopted a series of policies in recent years favorable to interracial couples.”


    I have to wonder if they read any stories about Tibetan genetics lately.

  24. WIlliam Kapriskie says:

    Actually there is plenty of debunking, but the crybaby HBD persecution complex too often refuses to engage it in detail. It is much easier to holler about “political correctness” and blame all too convenient bogeymen- aka “the liberals” and run for the amen corners where contrary views are censored out. Here’s some debunking starters: Note the bulk of them are peer reviewed articles by credible scholars, and also a few books by credible mainstream scholars. But yes I know- its “persecution” and “political correctness” to mention them.

    Evolution, brain size, and the national IQ of peoples … – Jelte Wicherts 2010


    Why national IQs do not support evolutionary theories of intelligence – WIcherts, Borsboom and Dolan 2010
    Personality and Individual Differences 48 (2010) 91-96

    Click to access wicherts2010.pdf

    Are intelligence tests measurement invariant over time? by JM Wicherts – ?2004
    –Dolan, Wicherts et al 2004. Investigating the nature of the Flynn effect. Intelligence 32 (2004) 509-537



    another critique- mises.org/daily/2677


    Race and other misadventures: essays in honor of Ashley Montagu… By Larry T. Reynolds, Leonard Lieberman


    Race and intelligence: separating science from myth. By Jefferson M. Fish. Routledge 2002. See Templeton’s detailed article referenced above also inside the book



    HBD “SELECTION” AND EVOLUTION CLAIMS DEBUNKED-Sarich and Miele’s “Race: the reality of Human Differences”
    Oubre, A (2011) Race Genes and Ability: Rethinking Ethnic Differences, vol 1 and 2. BTI Press
    For summary see: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-02-18/

    –S OY Keita, R A Kittles, et al. “Conceptualizing human variation,” Nature Genetics 36, S17 – S20 (2004)

    Click to access ng1455.pdf

    –S.O.Y. Keita and Rick Kittles. (1997) *The Persistence ofRacial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence. AJPA, 99:3

    Click to access WAURRSZQOE.pdf

    Alan Templeton. “The Genetic and Evolutionary significnce oF Human Races.” pp 31-56. IN: J. FiSh (2002) Race and Intelligence: Separating scinnce from myth.

    J. FiSh (2002) Race and Intelligence: Separating science from myth.


    Oubre, A (2011) Race Genes and Ability: Rethinking Ethnic Differences, vol 1 and 2. BTI Press


    Krimsky, S, Sloan.K (2011) Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture

    Wicherts and Johnson, 2009. Group differences in the heritability of items and test scores

    –Joseph Graves, 2006. What We Know and What We Don’t Know: Human Genetic Variation and the Social Construction of Race

    J. Kahn (2013) How a Drug Becomes “Ethnic” – Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics, v4:1


    Click to access PageProofs-Graves_race.pdf

    • panjoomby says:

      “strawman” argument debunked!

    • georgesdelatour says:

      That’s a lot of links to work through. From a quick perusal, none of them are attempting to refute specific claims made by Cochran and Harpending.

      I read Alondra Oubré’s review of Sarich & Miele’s book. Her principal argument against them is that, apparently, there’s no way to know if a genetic divergence between two populations is a result of strong recent selection or just random genetic drift. I’d assumed there was. Who’s right?

    • georgesdelatour says:

      I read the Wicherts et al paper, “Why national IQs…”.

      W is arguing against a position that is the exact opposite of that held by Harpending and Cochran; though it may well accurately represent the positions of Rushton and Kanazawa. W makes a big deal of noting that the climate was very different during the last Ice Age from what it has become during the current Interglacial. I don’t really understand his point here, because the Ice Age certainly didn’t make the habitable bits of the planet climatically uniform. Different humans in different places would still have been exposed to different environmental challenges. It’s not obviously evidence for a genetic “null hypothesis”.

      But this argument is anyway irrelevant to the case made by Harpending and Cochran. As the title of their book suggests, they think evolution really took off within the last 10,000 years (with e.g. lactase persistence). In other words, during the current Interglacial.

    • M. M. says:

      Appeal to authority–read what I read, and you’ll be convinced, so there’s no need to argue. HBDers could smother you with link lists, too. The least you’d need to do is to summarise each link showing where it contradicts Harpending or Cochran.

      • Toddy Cat says:

        A lot of those papers are over ten years old. Got anything fresher? Or is it all just so obvious that we don’t need to do any more research?

    • nooffensebut says:

      Alondra Oubré is the writer who recently attributed Wikipedia vandalism that she incorporated into her essay to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health database. She cited Wade’s book, and when I said she was criticizing his book, she defended herself by saying that she had not read it. There’s almost no line in her essay that did not contain at least one factual error. She is not a reliable source.

  25. Bruce says:

    I think there are good arguments made on both sides of the debate. However, I think it’s strange that almost all the titles include the word “debunked” which would indicate there must be a massive amount of fraud on the HDB side of the argument. I find this is fairly implausible. I would think that including the word “debunked” in their title would tend to indicate that these analyses were ideologically motivated.

    • Yudi says:

      Pretty sure those were headlines Kapriskie added in order to categorize the articles.

      • Bruce says:

        At a glance, they look like headlines, not titles of the papers but not his titles either.

        I don’t see the title “debunked” in many HDB articles. “Debunked” can indicate an ideologically-driven desire to discredit your intellectual opponent.

    • TWS says:

      I’m sure they’re as reliable as “The Mismeasure of Man”. You got an ax you got to grind it.

  26. TWS says:

    I can understand the cowardice. I don’t condone it but I can understand it. You have nutjobs showing up here threatening to kill anyone who even says there are races. Someday you’ll get someone like the idiot who was going to shoot up those guys who the SPLC said were homophobes.

  27. James K says:

    This study takes results for the Myers-Briggs personality types of computer programmers; then compares with the prevalence of these types in men and women.


    The study explains women’s under-representation by the differing suitability for STEM of different Myers-Briggs personality types, and the prevalence of these types in men and women.

    It would be useful to have peer-reviewed studies in this vein, covering the whole of STEM. Would it be career suicide to conduct this research?

    It is certainly relevant to public policy: the UK government and professional bodies such as the Institute of Physics think it is a smart idea to push girls into STEM subjects, whether they want to study them or not:


  28. Noumenon72 says:

    It’s not the cowardice, it’s his failure to be indirect about it. You want someone who can lie for you when needed, not someone who will say “My adviser told me not to talk to you about that” and get you in more trouble. You want a politician who will say “I support victim’s rights,” even though you both know it means “I don’t want to cross the prison guard’s union.”

  29. IC says:

    The very facts that most of us use internet handles instead of our real names commentting on this kind of topics show most of us are cowards except Cochran, Hsu, Harpending.

    Because most of us depend on other for survival and have a job needed to be secured. Yes, dependency is sign of poverty. Dependency makes us even lying about what we believe. Or better just stay silent in pubic and only become brave under pseudoname or handles on internet. Silent majority.

    For people are independent (depending less on others) like Unz, Sailer, ect, They can be brave as they want.

    • IC says:

      At end, most of us are just prostitutes for our jobs. We are all whoring.

    • Jim says:

      Yes, I agree that I am a coward.

    • dave chamberlin says:

      Not me. I use my real name and I’ve got balls of steel. I replayed that Duke Nuke ’em thing about five times and giggled every time. I’m way too blunt for my own good and have been fired for accusing the boss of cheating people right in front of the whole company. He was and everybody knew it, but stupid me with my balls of steel was the only one who would say it. I’ve had some unhappy friends in academia who have regaled me with tales of the astounding political correctness required for the non tenured. It’s real and Cochran can sneer and snicker about the wormhood of those that have to play by the rules but I’ll bet Greg has waved good bye to a few paychecks because he couldn’t bite his tongue any longer. As that lovable old war criminal Henry Kissinger said about academia “the fights are so vicious because the steaks are so small.” I’m sure he meant stakes but puns don’t type so well.

  30. Using one’s own name does not require courage, just a pension.

  31. Gordo says:

    “I do not wish to approve of claims about which I do not have any knowledge, and about things which I have not seen .. and then to observe through those glasses gives me a headache. Enough! I do not want to hear anything more about this.”

  32. Sadly, I longish post got lost. Wicherts did not debunk, he raised criticisms which were answered and some which neither party could resolve with current data.

  33. Dale says:

    Science is a wonderful way of finding the truth, but it’s not a matter of simple progress. The truth will be discovered eventually, but only through successive errors, and you never know when you’ve finally reached your destination.

    The benefit of having knowledge is that you can act on it. But if your knowledge is incorrect, that action can make things worse.

    An example of this was when President Kennedy embraced Keynes’ theories of monetary policy, particularly that the rate of unemployment could be permanently reduced by permanently enduring a certain amount of inflation. Previously the politicians had embraced the conventional wisdom that price stability produced the best long-term results. It turns out that Keynes’ analysis is incorrect — Friedman later determined that the correlation is between unemployment and the derivative of inflation.

    The result was that the United States endured two decades of substantial inflation without much reduction of unemployment. This ended when the politicians returned to the conventional wisdom (which was also Friedman’s conclusion).

    This process is also affected by a myriad of social factors, which can cause the successive approximations to systematically deviate from the direction in which the evidence points. This process is more effective the “softer” the field of study, but even in a discipline as “hard” as physics, social factors can cause considerable distortion of conclusions. Consider, for example, the history of replications of the Millikan oil-drop experiment. The early eugenicists are also famous for turning an inadequate scientific base into a tool for power politics.

    The consequence of this is that when someone announces scientific conclusions, the audience is vary wary of the underlying intentions — What agenda is being served here? (No doubt there is some highly-selected-for cognitive mechanism at work here.)

    In this regard, I notice that whenever “human biological diversity” is discussed, the discussion will soon come to “Is there an objective basis for the social concept of ‘race’?” and then “Are there genetic differences in IQ between races?” And this is despite the fact that these questions are only slightly interesting from a scientific point of view. (E.g., Cavalli-Sforza’s work on the genetic gradients within the European population is far more interesting and detailed than questions of what is distinctive about the European population generally.) And the practical consequences of these questions are pretty thin, too — the correlation between IQ and income exists but is weak, and I’ve never seen any claim of correlation between IQ and political power. Nor is there an obvious correlation between IQ and the historical onset of industrialization. The only thing IQ is deeply important for is the highest levels of academic work and very small slices of some other occupations.

    Which leads me to wonder, of the assembled masses, what fraction would be pleased, deep in their hearts, if it was discovered that the African population was genetically predisposed to have lower IQs than the average of other humans?

    • gcochran9 says:

      “The practical consequences of these questions are pretty thin.”

      I could, of course, point out that you are utterly wrong, and that there is solid evidence that IQ is a useful predictor of job performance – the best we have, in most occupations. Moreover, a mild difference in the mean IQ has huge effect on the fraction of individuals smart enough to do anything creative & original: there are whole continents that don’t invent anything, that can’t have engineering industries.

      But I don’t really want to go down that data-rich path.

      I’d rather point out that you’re crazy.

      Jesus, are you possessed? Have you ever in your life worked with a dumb guy? Ever watched them fuck up? Ever know someone that built the foundation of a house with all sides equal and thought it must then be a square? Ever watched someone fire a nail gun into his own meaty palm? Ever watched someone (that same guy) try to show strong he was a few weeks after an appendectomy, and have all his stitches go pop pop pop? Looks as if you went to MIT: it’s not the world. You may be suffering from restriction of range.

      • TWS says:

        Day of the Moron H.Beam Piper. It’s a fun way read and nicely explains why and how morons can be dangerous.

      • Jim says:

        In “The Bell Curve” Murray and Hernstein give a lot of examples using their data of the significant effect of seemingly modest changes in average IQ level on things like welfare dependency, illegitimacy, incarceration etc.

        • Dale says:

          That wouldn’t surprise me. But as “The Bell Curve” noted (in the excerpts in the Wall Street Journal), our times are ones in which the amount of money you get from middle-class work is affected by your cognitive skills, and (as far as I can see) there are a lot of behavioral consequences of whether your income is higher than the welfare payment or lower. (There’s no sense marrying a guy who can’t make above the welfare level.)

        • Dale says:

          I’ve only made it through the introduction of “The Bell Curve”, but I did find this on page 20:

          “We agree emphatically with Howard Gardner, however, that the concept of intelligence has taken on a much higher place in the pantheon of human virtues than it deserves. …

          “All of this is another way of making a point so important that we will italicize it now and repeat elsewhere: Measures of intelligence have reliable statistical relationships with important social phenomena, but they are a limited tool for deciding what to make of any given individual. Repeat it we must, for one of the problems of writing about intelligence is how to remind readers often enough how little an IQ score tells about whether the human being next to you is someone whom you will admire or cherish. This thing we know as IQ is important but not a synonym for human excellence.”

      • Dale says:

        You write, “I’d rather point out that you’re crazy.”

        I seem to have touched a nerve.

        It’s true that I’ve not worked (ever, as far as I know) with low-IQ people… but since my IQ is by far my most saleable skill, I’ve had to concentrate on work where IQ is important. But it seems to me that your examples are more matters of dilligence, obedience, and lack of proper training more than cognitive skill per se. (Although I suppose you could hire someone who was untrained but smart enough and he could probably figure out how to build a house correctly from first principles, you really wouldn’t want to bet on it.)

        You write, “there are whole continents that don’t invent anything, that can’t have engineering industries.”

        I’m tempted to think of India here. Africa comes to mind, not in regard to engineering, but in regard to creativity in the visual arts.

        You write, “the best we have, in most occupations”.

        I’ll have to look in “The Bell Curve”. But I do remember reading of a survey that had been done of CEOs. It turns out that their IQs are average; what they rate highly on is “toughness”. Their staffs, on the other hand, have high IQs. (Certainly, books written by CEOs aren’t famous for their intellectual content.) And anecdotally, politicians and military leaders are not famous for being particularly smart. (Or might I say, being particularly fertile professions for Ashkenazis?) And Genghis Khan, who has been occupying our attention recently, wasn’t famous for his intellectual attainments…

        • gcochran9 says:

          I have worked with people who were quite ordinary, and, in other circumstances, was the guy in the group who had read the fewest novels by Dostoevsky (only five, at the time)

          I suspected that you had no experience working with ordinary people, and I was right. That’s not really a good excuse for having a wildly distorted picture of the world.

          Growing up in a small town, you know a lot about people – decades of observation. Trust me, that guy who fired the nail into his palm was dumb. Nice guy, but dumb.

          India as a whole does not have high IQ scores, but some endogamous subgroups do. Caste is complicated. Blacks in sub-Saharan Africa: low IQ scores, no engineering industries, no important contributions in science or math.

          CEOs: ” It turns out that their IQs are average”. Untrue. You’d have to be a fool to believe that. Daniel Seligman said:” I spent some forty years as a writer and editor of Fortune magazine and during that time met hundreds of CEOs. Not all of them proved entirely lovable, and some of them were not particularly interesting when asked for opinions on social and political issues remote from their business concerns. But I cannot recall ever meeting a CEO who did not come across as highly intelligent.”

          “Highly intelligent” is not the same thing as average. I doubt if you even know what average is. Here are some actual results:

          “Roughly one third to one half of the billionaires (45.0%), Fortune 500 CEOs (38.6%), Senators (41.0%), and federal judges (40.9%) attended a school requiring standardized test scores that likely places them in the top 1% of ability.”

          Now by my standards these guys (on average) aren’t all that smart, not very good at original thinking, don’t have a lot of facts in their head, are generally susceptible to bad intellectual fads. But although not smart enough that I would find many of them boon companions and compatible co-workers, they’re a hell of a lot smarter than average.

    • In this regard, I notice that whenever “human biological diversity” is discussed, the discussion will soon come to “Is there an objective basis for the social concept of ‘race’?”

      Irrelevant.  Genes vary as a function of ancestral geography.  Whether you want to divide that ancestral geography into discrete races or just view it as one big continuous variable (i.e. skin color) is mostly just semantics.

      the correlation between IQ and income exists but is weak,

      The correlation is moderate, not weak.  But even weak correlations can have strong effects, especially at the extremes.  I’ve discovered that for every tenfold increase in financial success, average IQ increases 8 points.  So if my research is correct, the relationship should look like this:

       self-made decabillionaires: average IQ 140
       self-made billionaires: average IQ 132 
       self-made centimillionaires: average IQ 124
      self-made decamillionaires: average IQ 116
      six figure income earners: average IQ 108
      five figure income earners: average IQ 100
      four figure income earners: average IQ 92
      The homeless: average IQ 84


       and I’ve never seen any claim of correlation between IQ and political power.

      If there were no correlation between IQ and political power, the average U.S. president would have a mean IQ of 100.  In fact the average is likely around 130.  Nixon scored 143, Bush II scored 125, JFK scored 119. 

      Nor is there an obvious correlation between IQ and the historical onset of industrialization.

      Of course there is.  Just because the correlation isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s zero.

      The only thing IQ is deeply important for is the highest levels of academic work and very small slices of some other occupations.

      True, but things can be important without being deeply important.

      • Dale says:

        You write, “I’ve discovered that for every tenfold increase in financial success, average IQ increases 8 points.”

        No doubt you’re right. But given that self-made billionaires are, what, six standard deviations out there in money, but only two standard deviation out there in IQ, I don’t see IQ as the dominant factor. And that seems to be reflected in the statistics I’ve seen, IQ accounts for well less than half of the variance in income. Measurable, but hardly the only thing, and perhaps not the most important single thing.

    • IC says:

      Sounds like a proffesinal troll post.

  34. dave chamberlin says:

    I’m enjoying the main stream news speculation regarding new findings of a significant overlap in time between modern humans and neanderthals. The speculation appears to be very careful not to upset any touchy neanderthals that might happen to read it.
    Did we swap tools?
    Were there craft fairs so that neanderthals could wear cool stuff too.
    Did us moderns drive them to extinction?
    or was luck.
    or bad weather.
    Maybe we moderns were more agile.
    And when and where did the hanky panky stop.
    Maybe we just out numbered them.

    No where was it implied.
    We came
    We killed them because we had better weapons
    We fucked them when nothing better was available
    We ate them because they were meat.

  35. Perhaps you (Greg or Henry, obviously) can write something about obesity from a genetic perspective? As far as I can see, there is a tendency that debates of that sort tend to be trichotomical: one category emphasize individual character (like Aristotle), another genes, and a third the current society (food culture etc.). Probably these three need to complement each other, since they are all linked to phenotypes. Anyway, I think it would be interesting and enlightening you probably already have read a whole lot of genetic studies on obesity and closely related phenomena.

    Ps. This post includes a rather interesting research article: http://swedishdissident.blogspot.se/2012/09/gener-och-fetma.html

  36. candid_observer says:

    OT a bit, but I’m a little surprised that more has not been made of this very recent paper:


    A press release on the findings:


    The study, using GCTA techniques and a large (3,689) dataset based on children of European ancestry, shows substantial heritability (up to .43) in a number of cognitive/emotional traits, based on common SNP variants. Given that children generally exhibit lower heritability on cognitive traits in the usual twin and relative studies than adults, this seems impressively high. Also, the cohort, because it seems to include those of European ancestry generally, and not just those from parts of the British Isles (as was true, I believe, of the Visscher et al study from a couple of years ago) seems to be an important extension of it. In addition, it investigates many more cognitive/emotional traits.

  37. CanSpeccy says:

    “Someone on the faculty … asked him if he thought that the sphingolipid diseases (Tay-Sachs, Gaucher disease, etc) might have something to do with selection for intelligence.”

    the Heck with all this shilly shallying, what’s the correct answer? Or if no one knows, what is the correct framework in which to analyse the question?

    It’s interesting, by the way, that in the 8 August issue of Science there’s a report that in both bees and mountain chickadees exceptional cognitive capacity (didn’t know bees had it) is inversely related to reproductive success, which supports my long held theory that the reason most people have an IQ close to 100 is not because that’s about as bright as its possible for most humans to be, but because it is, adaptively, the optimal brightness — so tee hee to all folks with astronomical IQ’s, you’re headed for the evolutionary scrap heap.

    • CanSpeccy says:

      Consistent with the way it is with bumblebees and chickadees, and assuming that American Jews are slightly brighter than their average American compatriots, is the fact that American Jews have a remarkably low fertility. There is apparently an exception in the case of Hasidic Jews, but then they are said not to be terribly bright, and in fact to have a high incidence of welfare dependence.

    • Jim says:

      There’s probably no evolutionary payoff in knowing what the hell the Higgs boson is.

    • Dale says:

      You write, “because it is, adaptively, the optimal brightness”.

      If we take evolution seriously, and believe that IQ is substantially controlled by heredity, this is the default hypothesis unless it can be disproved by data. Of course, the situation could be, like so many others, a balanced polymorphism. In this case, it would be that both the mean and the standard deviation are controlled by evolution.

  38. Jim says:

    From what Jason Malloy said on Peter Frost’s blog it’s people like the Mormons, Amish and Hasidim who are going to inherit the Earth or at least the US. I hope they all get along.

  39. baloocartoons says:

    Reprinted here:
    Human Biodiversity (HBD), the most taboo subject in the world.

  40. 420blazeitfgt says:

    Off topic, wondering if someone could comment on it.

    I saw this paper “A genome wide association study of mathematical ability reveals an association at chromosome 3q29, a locus associated with autism and learning difficulties: a preliminary study”

    Click to access journal.pone.0096374.pdf

    One part says:

    The SNP with the highest significance, rs789859, can have a G or T allele and is located in an intergenic region on chromosome 3q29. Microdeletions and duplications in this region have been associated with autism, schizophrenia as well as learning difficulties [11–14].

    I heard that autism has racial prevalence differences and in HapMap I got:
    POP ref-allele_freq other-allele_freq
    CHB 0.810 0.19
    JPT 0.796 0.204
    CHD 0.789 0.211
    MEX 0.655 0.345
    CEU 0.611 0.389
    GIH 0.554 0.446
    TSI 0.529 0.471
    MKK 0.506 0.494
    ASW 0.491 0.509
    LWK 0.482 0.518
    YRI 0.435 0.565

    CEU: Utah residents with Northern and Western European ancestry from the CEPH collection, 0.611
    ASW: African ancestry in Southwest USA 0.491
    CHB: Han Chinese in Beijing, China, 0.81
    CHD: Chinese in Metropolitan Denver, Colorado, 0.789
    GIH: Gujarati Indians in Houston, Texas, 0.554
    JPT: Japanese in Tokyo, Japan, 0.796
    LWK: Luhya in Webuye, Kenya, 0.482
    MEX: Mexican ancestry in Los Angeles, California, 0.655
    MKK: Maasai in Kinyawa, Kenya, 0.506
    TSI: Tuscan in Italy, 0.529
    YRI: Yoruban in Ibadan, Nigeria. 0.435

  41. Dale says:

    You write, “Why should it take balls of steel? And, for that matter, why are balls of steel so rare in academia? Do they undergo a procedure?”

    It recently struck me that an answer can be phrased in this way: “Yes, they do undergo a procedure, and the procedure is called ‘evolution’.”

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