Blowing Smoke

After a long and difficult pregnancy, Nature Genetics  finally gave birth to a big paper about genetic influences  on educational achievement. Now we know more of the genes that result in high heritability of phenotypes like educational attainment – including something about the metabolic paths involved. These results don’t explain all the heritability we see – in particular the part due to rare deleterious variants – but they  explain some.  Now, from a gene sample, knowing nothing else, we can say something about some kid’s likelihood of completing college. People in the bottom quintile of the polygenic score had a 10% chance of graduating, those in the top quintile had a 55% chance. Obviously if we knew his grades, test scores,  permanent record and genotype, we could make an even better prediction: still, this is interesting.

As usual we have public intellectuals fulfilling their duties: trying to stuff falsehoods into  the heads of the general public.

Paige Harden has a piece in the New York Times.  She has a hard row to hoe:  she’s trying to convince her fellow ‘progressives’ that they need to recognize that genetic influences on personality and talent are real and strong.  She bullshits on some topics in order to reassure them:  mentions the awful idea that inferior genes explain poverty, and evil old eugenics. But of course genes do have a role in  inequality, while there’s nothing wrong with non-coercive eugenics, as long as you know what you’re doing.

She mentions that a number of leftists that have opposed this kind of biological research, for instance on education.  Which is fairly weird, really:  clearly those objecting believe that the theories they base their favorite programs on, and teach, are false. Which means their programs won’t, can’t achieve their stated goals –  but that’s apparently no reason to abandon them.  Means justify the ends ?

I can imagine someone opposing certain kinds of research because the results might be dangerous – say an easy way to make a total conversion bomb out of the green stuff in the back of the fridge, or  a complexly-wired helmet that confers the power of telepathic hypnosis, so that the wearer automatically becomes Supreme Ruler of Everybody, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.

Harden argues that genetic inequality is unfair,  and so -> redistribution.  The earlier argument was that everybody is really the same, and so ->  redistribution.  I’m pretty sure that if the astronomers found that an asteroid the size of Texas was going to hit us in twenty years, that answer to that would also be massive redistribution.  What does she says about the boring topic of making society actually work better – where well-understood genetic influences could have a role?  Nothing, of course.

Lastly, Harden says that a better understanding understanding of genetic influence will let us develop a better understanding  of which effects are genetic and which are not ( ” the causal effects of the environment are thrown into sharper focus”). So we can find the environmental interventions that work !

That, lady, is bullshit. Essentially every conceivable social intervention is like things parents do – shared family environment. And every decent study indicates that shared family environment doesn’t matter much. Now,  I suppose we could try to develop a new social program that mimics the effects of non-shared environment – which effects are significant – but we are handicapped by not knowing what the fuck those non-shared environmental influences even are.

Of course, If I were a professor of psychology, that would be a pleasing prospect.  ” More  research is needed” – until the end of time.


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201 Responses to Blowing Smoke

  1. Your notes are still there at the bottom of the post. I like them, but wonder if you intended them to remain there?

  2. Hallie Scott Kline says:

    This is why I read this blog, and try never to miss a post. #favorite

  3. bbloggz says:

    there’s nothing wrong with non-coercive eugenics, as long as you know what you’re doing.

    I guess it all depends on your ethical axioms. For instance, if your a believer in the non-aggression principle, of course coercion is out of the question. However if you are a utilitarian, why not just coercively sterilize everyone who is below average in happiness? I’m sure a lot of people will be even more unhappy in the short-term, but after a couple of generations utility will have been maximized far more compared to all the other bullshit policy proposals most utilitarians recommend for the sake of effective altruism.


    • ghazisiz says:

      Should probably apply a discount rate to the happiness of future generations. If you make it (realistically–as humans actually think) high enough, you’ll basically end up with considering only the current generation. Then, yes, coercion should be out of the question.

      My favorite proposed policy (suggested by a public schoolteacher acquaintance of mine): offer $1000 to anyone as a bribe for a free sterilization. Good bet that none of the takers would be Mormons…

      • Highlander says:

        Excellent idea but the offer is too low by several orders of magnitude. We also need to have it work both in both directions and based on IQ and age. Fertile adolescents who have not yet bred, make sterilization $100,000 for each IQ point under 100 and give a yearly stipend and free childcare to every couple above 120 IQ each, payable for every child they have.

    • DevOps Dad says:

      Or you could tackle today’s youthful unhappiness that results from wallowing in navel gazing virtuousness with a form of group therapy …

      Tracey Breaks The News:

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      just tell people the truth (heredity > environment) and see what happens voluntarily

  4. Panthera says:

    Aside from wondering whether the later bits were not intended to be there or just better structured, normally I’d share the pessimism regarding interventions at the shared environment level, but education is one of the few phenotypes where C is sometimes high.

  5. Coagulopath says:

    It’s interesting that their polygenic scores have much higher predictive ability in white Americans than African Americans (85% more). Does this suggest that high IQ African groups (like the Igbo) have a different set of SNPs driving their intelligence?


    blockquote>Paige Harden has a piece in the New York Times. She has a hard row to hoe: she’s trying to convince her fellow ‘progressives’ that they need to recognize that genetic influences on personality and talent are real and strong.

    Paige Harden is another person like Stuart J Ritchie – a day job, a reputation to protect, etc. She can’t say too much, and all of her output should be viewed through this filter.

    (Along with Turkheimer and Nisbett she wrote this thing for Vox. Remember that authors usually don’t write the title, which in this case is far more inflammatory than the article.)

    The article comes off as confused and weak, since there’s so much left unsaid. She only vaguely mentions why liberals fear genetics , and is unclear on why they don’t need to. The only way genetics would help obtain a more socially equitable society is through eugenics of some sort…the thing she’s assuring the reader they don’t have to worry about. The article is like gears turning against each other.

    • Jacob says:

      I’ve wondered if there might be a different genetic architecture for intelligence across races. Egalitarians should be interested in that idea, because it’s their best response left to David Piffer’s findings.

      If, of course, this were an academic debate. But it isn’t, so AFAIK they ignore him and continue to, say, gleefully lie about Murray.

      • ghazisiz says:

        Egalitarians should be interested in creating a world where intelligence doesn’t matter for individual outcomes. But they aren’t there yet–they are still insisting that intelligence is basically the same for all of us, and that offering equality of access to higher education is the policy that will fix everything. As if the unintelligent could possibly benefit!

        • Jim says:

          Of course if human societies develop in a such a way that intelligence becomes of little importance in life then the average level of intelligence in such societies will decline greatly. Just like myopia being much more common in modern cultures as compared with hunter-gatherer cultures.

          • mtkennedy21 says:

            Myopia is probably a disease of studying plus TV. Chinese teenagers in Singapore, which has the Mandarin culture, have much more severe myopia than the Chinese ethnic group in Australia. Genetics plus nurture. Outdoor play is probably 50% of a negative indicator for myopia.

        • Jacob says:

          IMO they’re split on whether to make intelligence irrelevant. On the one hand, they love affirmative action, and they love making certain disciplines less rigorous. On the other, they want to hire smarter people, which is fine as long as you lie about it. So they have the College Board lie about what the SAT is, and then they send smarter kids to more prestigious schools where they learn to lie about the fact that they’re not better educated, they’re just smarter. Then you can hire kids who went to “better” schools without having to admit why you’re doing so.

    • Smithie says:

      If I understand correctly, the SNPs in GWAS are like tags. They are markers near the genes of interest, but not necessarily in them.

      One scenario is that blacks have different tags than whites, but the same alleles make them smart.

      • Jacob says:

        I think you’re on the money.

        I also think that, in theory, drift could explain part of it. Say two populations are under the same selection pressure for a highly quantitative trait: on average, alleles yielding higher values in the trait should raise. But thanks to drift, any given allele might raise at different rates between the two populations. So smart Blacks might have a slightly different list of “smart genes” from smart Whites.

        Pleiotropy and linkage disequilibrium present similar possibilities. The “smart genes” are important for development, and many are expressed outside the brain as well as inside it. Selection for unrelated physical traits could make some of these rise or fall in frequency, as could linkage disequilibrium with another allele favored for something or other. Thus, again, smart Blacks and smart Whites could have a somewhat different list of alleles for the same trait.

        I think it’d be fascinating to find out, but I have no idea where someone would conduct that kind of research.

    • catte says:

      Isn’t it just because of affirmative action?

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “Does this suggest that high IQ African groups (like the Igbo) have a different set of SNPs driving their intelligence?”

      seems likely to me that each population would have some shared genes and some unique ones

  6. M says:

    Essentially every conceivable social intervention is like things parents do – shared family environment. And every decent study indicates that shared family environment doesn’t matter much.

    Nope. At least when educational attainment is (crudely) operationalized in terms of “years of education” or degree attainment, there’s plenty of shared environmental influence: Educational attainment is quite different from say IQ in this respect.

    • Anonymous says:

      Which is why, in America at least, educational attainment and IQ are far from the same thing…Anyone, and I know of instances involving kids who are actually retarded, can get a college diploma in America if they have the money.

    • pyrrhus says:

      Which is why, in America at least, educational attainment and IQ are far from the same thing…Anyone, and I know of instances involving kids who are actually retarded, can get a college diploma in America if they have the money.

      • Jason says:

        The number of kids we’ve hired in the last twenty years that were credentialed but uneducated, is disheartening.

      • Patrick L. Boyle says:

        It’s very hard to avoid promoting some people no matter how stupid they are. When I taught various computer science classes I had a reputation as a hard grader. No other instructor in the department had ever flunked anyone when I joined the faculty. But none of them had ever had a student who could pass a Microsoft Certification test either. They were academics not coders or analysts. They had little understanding of actual computer job expectations.

        I had a different style I flunked about a third of every class I taught. But my students got certifications. A first at that school.

        Then I was recruited on an emergency basis to teach an Oracle class at another private college. The scheduled Oracle guy had taken off. One of the students obviously had Down’s Syndrome. I question him. He had been enrolled in several classes and had always gotten good grades. He got it into his defective brain that he should be a Data Base Administrator. Impossible of course – he was seriously retarded. His company sent him to college and paid all tuition and expenses if he got a ‘B’ or better.

        So when he turned in his final exam completely blank – I had a problem. Here was this handicapped guy who was going to be hit with a substantial set of payments if I gave him the ‘F’ he deserved.

        I wasn’t tough enough. I gave him a ‘B’ just had a whole series of instructors before me.

        • J says:

          i>So when he turned in his final exam completely blank … Your charity was misplaced. You condemned that unlucky fellow to a life of suffering. He goes back to his employer and will be promoted to Administrator, a job he will not be able to perform. When dismissed, he may sue the company for “racism” or whatever you call it.

        • mtkennedy21 says:

          When I took CS classes in the local Junior College, they were taught at night by adjuncts who were working in CS. By the end of the semester, the only students left in class were over 30. Many over 50.

    • JayMan says:

      The C term exists in educational attainment, but it’s “hollow” in the real world. Nothing downstream of education, like income, shows a C term. I suspect parents can affect the signaling component of education, but of course not the human capital that it signals.

  7. Frog says:

    “And every decent study indicates that shared family environment doesn’t matter much. Now, I suppose we could try to develop a new social program that mimics the effects of non-shared environment – which effects are significant – but we are handicapped by not knowing what the fuck those non-shared environmental influences even are.”

    Shared environment is higher for education, the subject of the study, and for wealth. If you correct for restriction of range with regard to international and intergenerational differences it’s huge: a smart Chinese peasant kid under Mao vs a smart Chinese kid in Manhattan today. Even for IQ, migrants from poor countries have their kids make huge gains.

  8. jb says:

    …there’s nothing wrong with non-coercive eugenics, as long as you know what you’re doing

    One of my idle counterfactual fantasies goes like this: In 2016 we elect a smart President Trump (not the ignorant jackass we’ve got in real life). At some point some lefty journalist or politician, on live TV, accuses him of being a racist who supports the debunked pseudoscience of eugenics. Smart Trump calmly replies that while the politics and morality of eugenics may be problematic, the science of eugenics is entirely sound, and is in fact simply the theory of evolution applied to human beings. Heads explode everywhere. The full force for the Establishment is brought to bear in an effort to force Smart Trump to recant, but he refuses, and insists that once you’ve accepted the theory of evolution you’ve already accepted the science of eugenics, and it’s too late to back out. After a while, thoughtful people start to openly discuss the possibility that Smart Trump — who, remember, is smart! — might actually be right about this, and start wondering whether there might be non-coercive ways for our society to encourage successful people to have larger families, while making it easier for losers to enjoy the benefits of a child-free lifestyle. Smart people start feeling a wee bit of social pressure to have that extra child. Dumb people face open criticism when they have children they can’t support. Despite the frantic efforts of the Establishment, in many quarters the idea of eugenics once again becomes an accepted part of the conventional wisdom.

    I have a lot of fantasies about Smart Trump. Oh God, the missed opportunities…!

    • gruffles says:

      “Smart Trump” would never have run.

    • Leonard says:

      To get elected in America, Smart Trump would need to dumb down his talking style into words of no more than two syllables, and as much as possible, just one. Of course, being a smart guy, he could do that. He’d sound just like… hey…

    • Jason says:

      It’s the fact that Trump is an “ignorant jackass” to the clerisy that delights me. But I get your point.

    • Anon says:

      “Smart Trump calmly replies that while the politics and morality of eugenics may be problematic, the science of eugenics is entirely sound, and is in fact simply the theory of evolution applied to human beings”

      If you think this would change the mind of anyone who wasn’t already aware of it then you’re dumber than you imagine Trump to be.

    • Jim says:

      The likelihood that the collusion between the emerging results of human genetics and the deeply held ideologies of our society will be resolved rationally is very low. I do not know exactly what is going to happen but if the science cannot be suppressed (its probably too late for that now) than all kinds of totally crazy shit may happen.

    • J says:

      Your “Smart Trump” governs Singapur and is trying to get educated people to reproduce. No measurable success. Even the Chinese don’t believe that 不孝有三,无后为大

    • Young says:

      The ‘ignorant jackass’ you believe Trump to be made several fortunes in real estate and then again in show business and then won the presidency with the media, Hollywood, the federal bureaucracy, and the federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies against him, to name a few. Do you really imagine all of that comes down to stupid luck? IQ may be a good indicator of success but a better indicator is actual success in the raw. I have no idea what Trump would do on an IQ test, but whatever it might be it is irrelevant when placed beside what he has actually done.

      • Zenit says:

        There is no evidence that Trump ever had any “fortunes”, but otherwise you are right, DJT stands about the greatest grifters and con men of history. Everyone who underestimated him had to regret it.

        • Young says:

          ‘No evidence that Trump had any great fortune’? You must have missed all of the buildings that have his name on them. You do that without controlling a fortune if you can.

          • Ursiform says:

            Trump was born rich. Warren Buffet, an actual successful businessman, has said Trump would be richer if he invested his inheritance in the S&P 500 rather than the business ventures he chose. He had four casinos go bankrupt (which meant other people paid for his mistakes), and has had a series of failed Trump-branded businesses (Trump Steaks, Trump Shuttle, Trump University, and so on.)

            • Tl Howard says:

              Ever heard of the satisfaction of building actual things? I suspect Buffett didn’t have the same goals as DJT.

              • Tl Howard says:

                The name atop that casino more than paid its way, bankruptcy or no. Have to give credit to the guy who understands how to win either way, by winning or losing.

              • Ursiform says:

                Trump’s satisfaction comes from having his name on things: Trump Ties, Trump Steaks, Trump University …

            • Young says:

              No, other people didn’t pay for his mistakes in bankruptcy; they paid for their own mistakes, or bad luck, investing in a business that did not prosper. That is always a possibility when investing in a business. Bankruptcy is a common and legitimate tool except when the Obama administration stuck its fingers into an auto bankruptcy and managed to elevate unsecured union creditors above fully secured bond holders who, by law, should have been paid first.

            • ziel says:

              That might be true (that he could have invested his inherited fortune in the stock market and ended up with the same net worth or more) – but has anyone ever actually done that? Are there any billionaires out there who inherited a fortune of ~$100m and simply invested it, didn’t do anything else, and ended up worth a few billion dollars?

              • Ursiform says:

                I suspect a lot of heirs live well off the investments they are left, but don’t make a fuss about it. Seems like the Waltons have pretty much done that.

              • Zenit says:

                The people who do this, prefer to keep their privacy and make sure they are not included in the public list of billionaires.

          • Zenit says:

            Where are your tax returns, Donald? Every president since Nixon released theirs, why not you? If you ever were a billionaire as you say, why not show the world?

            • Jason says:

              Why do you even care? Obama refused to release his college transcripts, Bush refused to release attorney documents, and Clinton… well take your pick on what he was smothering.

        • mtkennedy21 says:

          You have many undereducated college grads who agree with you.

  9. Garr says:

    “And every decent study indicates that shared family environment doesn’t matter much” —
    My son reads Tolkien when he’s with me, doesn’t read at all when he’s with his mother.
    If I’d been adopted I wouldn’t have read a lot of good things as a kid, which got me into the groove of always trying to read good things.
    And my parents had art-books, so I looked at reproductions of good paintings and sculpture, which got me permanently into that groove too, which probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d been adopted.
    If I’d been adopted I probably wouldn’t be regularly visiting this website today. But maybe I would have become a lawyer rather than a loser.

    • Leonard says:

      I can imagine someone opposing certain kinds of research because the results might be dangerous

      This is what many smarter progressives believe. They think that if we study IQ, we might discover that blacks are not exactly the same as whites. And because all human difference requires hierarchical ranking of social position, that therefore blacks will be seen as subhumans who ought to be re-enslaved. Which we’ll then proceed to do, especially with the evil Drumpf being President.

      It’s ludicrous, but do recall that progs (like most Americans) believe in the surface appearance of the political system. Why, the Republicans control all branches of government at the Federal level! They don’t understand power, and thus they don’t know that they are winning; that they are the Establishment. All their victories are justice finally being recognized, and so not evidence that they have power. They honestly think of themselves as scrappy minority underdogs, battling the Man who controls all the levers of power.

    • albatross says:

      There are lots of anecdotes that seem like they support the idea that parenting/early childhood environment makes a big difference, and they all seem really plausible. But when you look at twin studies, they mostly don’t show up–the unrelated people raised in the same home end up much more like their biological siblings than their adoptive ones.

      I’m a parent, and I absolutely do try to provide a good environment for my kids–reading to them, exposing them to art and culture and music, discussing real stuff with them, etc. But I recognize that there’s not a lot of evidence that this will lead to much in the way of measurable differences in outcomes. OTOH, I’m a lot smarter than the average adoptive parent, and these are my biological kids who share a lot of traits with me, so I’m hopeful that my interventions really are helping. But who knows? I won’t even be able to evaluate my n=3 experiment properly for another couple decades, assuming I’m still around by then.

    • Jim says:

      Adopted children resemble their biological parents in character and behavior much more than they resemble their adoptive parents.

      • Garr says:

        I’m sure that what you and Albatross say is correct; it’s just that whether or not someone has (for example) read Tolkien or the Bible seems to me to matter a lot — it makes him see the world differently.
        Another example that occurred to me today — church-culture among American Blacks in the Forties and Fifties produced Otis Redding, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Tina Turner. Absence thereof has resulted in Hip-Hop/Rap. (The same is true of Whites — Hank Williams and Johnny Cash vs. “Country” music today.) One kind of family environment results in good pop-music; another kind of family environment results in bad pop-music.

        • Jeffrey S. says:

          Everyone should go see “Three Identical Strangers” — great movie about three identical triplets separated at birth.

        • DataExplorer says:

          A significant ammount of that great old black soul music was written and produced by Jews. They just used the blacks for the image and the deep voice.

          • ziel says:

            I have a hard time believing that. There have been great Jewish songwriters of course, Lorenz Hart, irving Berlin, Jerome Kern. etc., the Brill Building crew, and in the rock era Dylan and Paul Simon – but their music bore little relation to black music, other than as derivatives. The Jewish producers probably helped with some polish, but if they were the real creators we should expect to see more great Jewish-written songs of that style, and we don’t.

    • DataExplorer says:

      “And my parents had art-books, so I looked at reproductions of good paintings and sculpture”

      Nowadays kids have the internet, so there is little reason for them to peruse the books on the shelf in their home. Not when they can look at whatever they want online. And all kids have more or less the same access. Just another example of how we have equalized the environment today.

      • Garr says:

        Okay, so one kid’s father frequently directs him to google-images of good paintings and sculpture and another kid’s father doesn’t. Wouldn’t that make a difference in how the kid ends up thinking about things, even if the two kids are identical twins and the second kid is adopted (his father not his biological father)?

  10. reziac says:

    I guess they haven’t noticed that parenting instincts (which largely shape parenting styles) are also inherited. (As any livestock producer knows very well, or soon goes out of business.)

  11. mapman says:

    I used to follow the lady on Twitter, thinking she posts useful morsels on current papers and controversies. She is never insightful or original. She is also frequently self-contradictory and does not seem to realize it, even when the fact is being pointed out to her. In brief, a typical useless academic type. Her popularity on Twitter is a bit of a mystery.

    • albatross says:

      I think she’s trying to walk a tightrope–the beliefs of her political ingroup are utterly inconsistent with the stuff she knows from her research. OTOH, she does actually seem to be bringing some awareness of genetic differences and IQ differences to people who would reflexively stop listening to someone like Greg or Razib, and I think she’s doing God’s work there, albeit in a rather timid way. (But then, I’m not in her professional or social situation, so it’s easy for me, from behind a pseudonym, to throw rocks at her courage.)

      • Yudi says:

        “OTOH, she does actually seem to be bringing some awareness of genetic differences and IQ differences to people who would reflexively stop listening to someone like Greg or Razib, and I think she’s doing God’s work there, albeit in a rather timid way. ”

        This is why I have relative liking and tolerance for Turkharden, even though they think people like me are evil. Nobody else currently fills this niche in public life.

    • Jacob says:

      “She is also frequently self-contradictory and does not seem to realize it, even when the fact is being pointed out to her.”

      Apparently, genes affect education but not poverty. Truly insightful.

    • Jason y says:

      she’s decent looking. what’s the mystery?

      • ziel says:

        Yes, she is cute. I wonder if she is related to actress Marcia Gay Harden, who is a UT alum and whose parents were Texas natives? wiki doesn’t say

  12. mapman says:

    As for the PGS from this study not being as good when applied to blacks: I wonder if it’s simply a matter of different distributions. Say, the PGS inherently is less predictive in the lower EA/IQ range, which would have the exact effect observed. To be sure, the “true” difference in predictability has to exist but the one observed seems too high that one would expect from so many loci.

    Got to read the actual paper, I suppose 🙂

  13. Glengarry says:

    I find the notion of ‘genetic lottery’ misleading and pernicious. My ancestors had something to do with how things turned out too.

    It seems clear that this failed little simile will be weaponized to level the results between undeserving winners and pitiable losers of nature’s awful and unfair lottery.

    • albatross says:

      Imagine some foreign country where your position in the society is mostly determined by your inherited titles of nobility from your family–a really hard-working and ambitious commoner can rise a little in status, but he will never be the equal of even a bottom-tier nobleman. I’d be pretty sympathetic to the people wanting to redistribute wealth or status somehow in that society, since having your life’s path be determined by who your parents are seems like a shitty way to run a society.

      So, now consider our world, where a lot of what determines your success in life is the genes you got from your grandparents. To the extent that differences in outcomes in life in our society come down to who got the good IQ and self-control genes, similary, I’m at least somewhat sympathetic to people who think it’s shitty that someone who rolled 3 on his intelligence score ends up unable to do more than scrape by, no matter how hard he works.

      Now, most ways we’ve ever tried doing serious redistribution or reshuffling of status in society have been godawful disasters that left behind piles of bodies, so this is a good place to tread carefully. But at least thinking through how to make our society not grind you up in the gears when you were born with an 80 IQ to a single mother, that seems worthwhile. Indeed, that horrible evil nazi pseudoscientist Charles Murray spent a fair bit of The Bell Curve talking about just this problem, and he’s clearly continued that thread of thought in Coming Apart.

      • Glengarry says:

        THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

      • Jim says:

        All societies are unfair to some kinds of people. A high tech society is unfair to people with low analytical intelligence. A hunter-gatherer society is unfair to people with myopia. A society with a strong legal system is unfair to psychopaths. There is no utopia – no kind of society in which every type of person can flourish.

        • albatross says:

          No, but we can be a little more sympathetic to people who get ground up in the gears because they were born with the potential for an 80 IQ, the same way we are sympathetic to people who were born blind or deaf.

        • Young says:

          Add to that that not all societies describe fairness in the same way. It isn’t an absolute.

      • Jokah Macpherson says:

        Or the dude who rolled a 3 on work ethic and is unable to do more than scrape by no matter how hard he thinks.

      • Doesn’t Charles Murray want, like, less 80 IQ births to single mothers?

  14. Citizen A says:

    In my more evil moments I don’t like the idea of having more smart people, simply more competition for my descendants. LoL.

    Remember, to rule in a democracy, you need the mob.

    As for the liberal project, well, it has failed in Europe, and it is failing here.

    The problem is lifeboat economics.

    Pure and simple, huge waves of demographic movement are going to be very disruptive to the very concept of liberalism.

    • albatross says:

      More smart people in competition for a fixed-sized pie sounds bad, but more smart people inventing new stuff and making the pie ever-bigger sounds pretty good. I think our society still does a fair job of funneling a lot of very smart people toward things that make the pie bigger. Though I think we’d do better if we seriously thought about how to incentivize the smartest people to go into making-the-pie-bigger stuff like basic science or inventing stuff, rather than into getting-a-bigger-slice stuff like finance and law.

    • Jim says:

      Well liberalism has only existed for a very short period of time in a very particular part of the world population. Liberals think they are the endpoint of human history but they are deluded. No doubt the elite of the Tang dynasty thought themselves to be the endpoint of history.

      • Zenit says:

        This is true about modern liberalism, and also about everything else, excepting stone age hunting-gathering lifestyle.

        • Jim says:

          It’s not equally true of agriculture which goes back in some places 10,000 years and which long ago became the dominant mode of life of nearly all of humanity. Liberalism is only a few centuries old and is largely confined to Western Europeans and descendent cultures.

          • Zenit says:

            10k years in the Middle East, much less elsewhere, and even 10k years is an eyeblink compared to whole human history. There is nothing natural about living in mud and digging in dirt and manure, and people leave this lifestyle as soon as they can.

            • Jim says:

              But 10k years is much longer than about two centuries of liberalism mostly restricted to Western European and descended populations.

  15. savantissimo says:

    Ethics is simply preferring the better to the worse. She claims wants to treat everyone equally, which is bad enough, but actually wants to favor the worse over the better, which is evil. One might think that the better should be favored in direct proportion to how much better it is, but contributions are non-linear, they follow Pareto distributions, one example of which comes from the Pareto principle or “80-20 rule”: 80% of the contributions come from 20% of the people, 20% of the contributions come from 80% of the people, for a 16:1 difference in productivity between the 80% and the 20%. The specific exponent varies, but 16:1 is not unusual in actual situations. Iterated, this means 0.8^3 = 51.2%of the people produce 0.2^3 = 0.8% of the total, while 0.8% of the people produce 51.2%, 4096 times the productivity and worth of the majority.

    Investing in the majority, or even worse, the laggards, is simply waste. Investing in the top fraction is literally multiple orders of magnitude better. Yet we spend more trying to fix the unfixable than on finding and enabling the best, indeed we take all we can from the best and waste it on the useless.

    • arch1 says:

      savantissimo, how do you respond to the person who is obviously much smarter than you when she advocates implementing your approach by placing the investment/deinvestment threshold at (say) your IQ + 20?

      • savantissimo says:

        No hard cut-off, smooth (-ish) curve, investment proportional to best estimate of returns, accounting for uncertainties (which are substantial in measuring ability at the high end). Once you have the data on the actual parameters of the Pareto distribution of productivity, which is already out there but I haven’t analyzed yet personally, then you can allocate rationally. If you get worse results, then clearly you did it wrong. Reality is the ultimate test.

        Also, your hypothetical is unrealistic, not possible that most people at or above the intelligence of your lady would agree with her that the 1 in ~1M IQ level you implicitly set should be the threshold (for one thing since there wouldn’t be a single threshold). Also productive ability is not just IQ, though that is the main factor, but also conscientiousness, creativity, taste, social organizational skills, etc.

  16. dearieme says:

    “I find the notion of ‘genetic lottery’ misleading and pernicious.” I differ. Forty years ago I argued about heredity with a journalist on a national newspaper. I converted her thus.

    “Have you ever met the thick child of clever parents?” “Yes”. “Have you ever met the bright child of dim parents?” “Yes.” “I can explain that by virtue of the genetic lottery. How can you explain it by differences of upbringing?”

    Her actual words were “My God, why has nobody ever put that argument to me before?”

    I never got to use my follow up, which is that child-bearing is rather like a lottery where some parents hold more tickets than others.

    • Glengarry says:

      “I never got to use my follow up, which is that child-bearing is rather like a lottery where some parents hold more tickets than others.”

      Rest assured that it will be used, however.

  17. Cloudswrest says:

    “or a complexly-wired helmet that confers the power of telepathic hypnosis, so that the wearer automatically becomes Supreme Ruler of Everybody”

    Sounds like you’re talking about a Thrint amplifier helmet.

  18. JRM says:

    Eric Turkheimer, Paige Harden. Why does the UVa Psychology department produce such liars?

  19. So over the past decade or so ithat makes three high ranking Left-wing cultural constructivists who have intellectually caved in to anthropological realist cultural conservatism :

    Robert Putnam (Harvard) on sociology
    Robert Reich (Harvard) on biology
    Kathryn Harden (UT) on psychology.

    That’s pretty much a clean sweep of the human sciences. No wonder they are running scared.

    • Unladen Swallow says:

      I don’t know if any of them caved technically. Putnam suppressed his own research ( Didn’t publish ) for what 7 or 8 years? till he could come up with an excuse…er..argue against his own findings in his paper. It doesn’t appear Harden has caved either, other than acknowledging the existence of genetic differences. Do you mean David Reich? Robert Reich the former Clinton Secretary of Labor who recently endorsed a far left documentary that attacks eugenics, and he teaches at Cal-Berkeley.

      • Coagulopath says:

        I also don’t think KPH is a mega-famous celebrity academic on the scale of the other two.

      • Jim says:

        Robert Reich (not David) has certainly sounded increasingly unhinged lately. Incidentally I don’t think this drift to extremism indicates confidence on the part of the left. On the contrary I think it’s a kind of panic. Of course panic makes the left more dangerous.

  20. Yudi says:

    “She has a hard row to hoe: she’s trying to convince her fellow ‘progressives’ that they need to recognize that genetic influences on personality and talent are real and strong.”

    One of the reasons you scoff at this article is because the author makes all kinds of exceptions and caveats that are dishonest in order to placate her readers. But that is exactly how progressivism works, whether its proponents understand that or not. They excel in taking something the average person of the day found degenerate or horrifying, like black-white intermarriage, homosexuality, or mass immigration from poor countries. Then, they slowly and quietly start advocating for it, but always with enough cushioning to comfort the left of center person: “sure, let’s tolerate gays, but those people pushing for marriage? Don’t listen to them; we’re not like them!” Then, of course, before anyone knows it, the strongest possible form of the policy is to be accepted in public without question.

    What we are seeing, ladies and gentlemen, is the slow rehabilitation of eugenics, midwifed with all the awesome power of progressive creative destruction. I only wonder how far the progressives will push eugenics once they’ve all flipped on the issue. The fun part is when Hollywood jumps on the bandwagon: suddenly, we’ll go from movies like GATTACA to Superbabies 3: CRISPR Edition.

    In a few decades, very few people aside from revisionist historians will be conscious that progressives once loathed gene modification, and called people who discussed genetics findings Nazis.

    • Zenit says:

      Well said. Eugenics was originally cutting edge progressive cause and could be again.

      • Cloveoil says:

        They will start by getting rid of racists and homophobes.

        • Cloveoil says:

          And Gattaca was a decent, thoughtful filem, which didn’t bash genetic tech or deny heridity. Vincent Freeman is genetically inferior in an objective, medical sense. Gattaca just drew its attention to the social implications like hard scifi does. For gods sake.

        • Yudi says:

          I think that’s possible, particularly right after they flip and are working out their conflicted feelings.

      • albatross says:

        Coercive eugenics would be horrible with almost anyone in charge. And probably a central authority would f–k it up, the way dog breeders have f–ked up by selecting their dogs to meet the breed criteria, at the cost of back/hip problems, cancers, etc.

        • tautology5628 says:

          Why do we need central authority? I would like my kids to be good looking, brave, kind, intelligent and hard working. I would decide to have such kids, if I had the choice.

        • Dogs are unable to heal themselves. If human health goes lower due to some eugenics program, it’ll be compensated by higher IQs of new doctors.

  21. Little spoon says:

    I don’t quite understand where shared environment ends and non shared begins. Is the town school shared or non shared? Is the country of citizenship shared or non shared? How does one categorize this?

    • albatross says:

      I think when you’re looking at heritability studies, you look at siblings raised together vs raised apart–the ones raised together had a shared environment in common, the ones raised apart didn’t. Obviously that’s not 100%–two brothers adopted into two different homes in Southern California share quite a bit of environment–but it’s useful by comparison. We can look at brothers or even identical twins raised in the same home, and brothers/twins raised in different homes, and get an estimate of how much that shared home had to do with how the brothers turned out.

      Imagine if unrelated kids adopted into the same home tended to have very similar outcomes, but identical twins raised in different homes tended to have very different outcomes, that would be strong evidence for the importance of shared environment. However, I think for most stuff, that’s not the way the results of those studies turned out–instead, biological siblings/identical twins raised in different homes tend to end up very much alike, and unrelated kids raised in the same home tend to end up pretty different from one another, but pretty similar to their birth parents/biological siblings.

    • catte says:

      In a twin study, shared environment is the variation from things that happen to both kids within a family, but may be different between families. So, if you send both your twins to the same school, but the twins across the street get sent to a different school, that variation is “shared environment”. Nonshared environment is things that affect twins in the same family differently (e.g. one of them gets hit by a car but his brother doesn’t).

      • catte says:

        The way you partition these things out in practice is by comparing twins raised together vs raised apart, ideally also with an MZ sample and a DZ sample.

      • Little spoon says:

        So the shared environment is pair specific and not a set class of attributes? I recall one story about identical twins separated at birth where one went to a poor single mother in nyc and the other went to a wealthy married mother in nyc. But both were in nyc so that is shared environment in this case? But in most separated sibling adoption cases, they probably don’t end up in the same city. But they might tend to end up on the same US region. Does this impact the delineation of shared vs non shared or is it defined by what is almost always shared between siblings? But I am not even sure what that is since plenty of siblings go to different schools in different towns because of their age or unique talents.

        • catte says:

          There’s the technical statistical definition of “shared environment” and there’s the commonplace usage of it which broadly means “what tends to fall under shared environment in most twin studies”. So, since in most studies the twins will go to the same schools, schools are in the “shared environment” category.

          Therefore you might hear someone say “oh, we know schools can’t have much effect on IQ because shared environmental effects are very low”. Technically, this is an abuse of terminology, because you might have a (very contrived) study where twins are raised together but always go to different schools, hence making school a part of “nonshared environment”. But since this would never happen, the conflation doesn’t matter so much.

          In your case, yes, living in New York would fall under shared environment for those twins, even if they’re on opposite sides of the tracks. It probably doesn’t matter though, unless you have reason to believe living geographically within New York has a significant effect on a person.

          • Little spoon says:

            Actually, it seems that shared environment becomes more clarified when one thinks of the converse- if an adopted sibling is brought to a home, what does he share with other children in the house? And that would be parents, a home, a neighborhood, household income and so on. And we have seen that the the similarity between adoptive siblings is essentially nothing. They are no more common than two people picked at random.

            This suggests to me that most of these trans adoption studies will have a set of extraneous variables that are not counted because they are common to both biological and adopted children whether separated or not. For example, separated twins may not ever be sent to different countries. Or countries with different dominant religions. These are environmental effects but there is probably little data on the impact of those.

            The two pairs of identical twins mixed up in bogota showed the impact of an extreme environmental difference. One was sent to a middle class family in bogota and the other to a rural and deprived village. When reunited, the adoptive brothers resembled each other much more in terms of income, class and education because the rural brothers lived five hours away from secondary school and dropped out when they were 12. The urban brothers were both college educated professionals.

            At some point, inequality in access to resources has a non-trivial impact but it’s not clear to me how much of an impact inequality is having within the us. Here no is so deprived that they have to drop put of school at 12 and risk their lives to fight guerillas.

  22. Quite Likely says:

    I’m pretty sure the situation is that people know that redistribution has huge, good effects, and are worried that talking about genetic causes of poverty will be used to imply that we can’t / shouldn’t do anything about poverty. The Harden piece is her telling fellow pro-redistribution people that the arguments in favor of redistribution still make just as much sense regardless of how important the causal role of genetics is in explaining existing poverty.

    • Jim says:

      Venezuela certainly shows the good effects of massive redistribution.

      • Quite Likely says:

        True, the redistributive policies in Venezuela have lifted huge numbers of people out of poverty. It’s a downside that attempting that kind of redistribution invites attacks from anti-redistribution forces at home and abroad, but that’s another issue.

        But I guess my real response is to clarify that I mean Harden is writing based on the assumption of her readers being on board with redistribution having good effects. Regardless of your own beliefs about the effectiveness of redistribution it’s key context to understand what she’s getting at.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      conservative genetics is “it’s natural so leave alone”
      liberal genetics (when they eventually stop being dumb) is “how can we use genetics to make things better”

  23. Warren Notes says:

    Quite Likely, I’m pretty sure you’re not a mind reader. BTW, how often do you have to re-do the redistribution?

    • Jim says:

      Obviously the results of attempts at redistribution will tend to create internal conflict, possibly quite violent, which in turn will lead to lower economic performance. It will also tend to create a low-trust society again impacting economic performance.

      • Young says:

        The term ‘redistribution’ seems to imply that goods were once distributed evenly and there is a fairness argument for restoring (redistributing) them to original claimants. Of course, that isn’t true so perhaps instead of ‘redistribution we could use a more precise word: “theft”.

        • Quite Likely says:

          Huh, does it imply that? Certainly my support for redistribution isn’t based on any conception that we just need to go back to some past distribution of wealth. I think it’s more just “wealth is distributed in one way, but we can instead redistribute it in a different way.”

          There is something there though in “redistribution” implying that there’s nothing particularly natural or just about the current distribution – it’s just where we happened to end up based on the policy and business decisions that were made. So if it’s unsatisfactory we might as well make some different decisions and produce an outcome we like better.

          • Jim says:

            If someone acquired wealth through illegal methods say burglary for example or fraud and that can be proven in a court of law providing due process to the accused then I have no objection to returning the wealth if possible to whoever was the victim.

            But what you are talking about is no different from the Mongols invading China and redistributing the wealth of the Chinese to themselves. No doubt the distribution of wealth between the Chinese and the Mongols was unsatisfactory to the Mongols prior to their invasion of China.

            • Quite Likely says:

              I would say the moral difference is that wealth in our society is produced by and comes in the form of power over people other than those who control that wealth. Mark Zuckerberg did not ‘produce’ the tens of billions of dollars of wealth he controls. He played a role, but if not for him there would have been another dominant social networking site. The value produced by Facebook is day to day created by the company’s employees and it’s user base, and would not be much inconvenienced by Zuck falling off the face of the earth. His wealth is going to keep on increasing until he dies and then keep doing the same for his kids without him producing any more value for anyone. On top of that, what ‘wealth’ means in the context of our market society is power over others: the power to have people produce what you want them to produce, and do what you want them to do, in exchange for a little bit of that wealth.

              It all adds up to the masses having a much stronger moral claim on having a say over the distribution of wealth in their society than would a marauding hoard of barbarians. They produce that wealth, and are ruled by those who control it.

              That’s just if you’re into that sort of thing though. To me the main moral justification is just the utilitarian fact of the diminishing marginal value of money: its definitely a utility gain to take money from someone with a lot and give it to someone without much. Of course you don’t want to make that the only law and watch society collapse, but to the extent we can find a way to do it systematically and without hurting output growth we should.

              • DevOps Dad says:

                Quite Likely said:Mark Zuckerberg did not ‘produce’ the tens of billions of dollars of wealth he controls. He played a role, but if not for him there would have been another dominant social networking site. The value produced by Facebook is day to day created by the company’s employees and it’s user base, and would not be much inconvenienced by Zuck falling off the face of the earth.

                You’re such a silly dreamer, Quite Likely. The capitalistic system and Mark Zuckerberg did ‘produce’ Facebook with all its beauty and warts into the world through the incentives and rewards the systems provides talented people. Without the combination of talent and incentives there would be no social networking sites, no internet and no computers.

              • Quite Likely says:

                Certainly the capitalist system as a whole produced Facebook, but Zuckerberg as I said is of course just one component of that system along with Facebook’s employees, investors, users, and customers (advertisers). There’s no particular reason beyond “that just happens to be how our economy is set up” that Zuckerberg and other investors should get all the votes on how Facebook is run and none of those other contributors should get any.

                Zuckerberg had an important role as the founder – probably the most important of any one person, but that role is largely in the past. He’s not doing anything unique for the company now beyond what any other investors or executives could do. And of course if he’d never been born we would still have social media, just like if any given programmer at Facebook had never worked there their job would have been done by someone else. Without Zuckerberg we might have seen a social media landscape dominated by MySpace or a version of Facebook founded by the Winkelvoss twins. Might have been better, might have been worse. Zuckerberg’s role, much like the railroad barons of the late 1800s, was not as some indispensable figure in technological development, but as someone who was in the right place at the right time to monopolize a brand new industry.

              • gda says:

                Sounds like you could have had a leading role in the Obama Admin.

                “you didn’t build that”.

                Actually, for all we know, you might be the man himself.

      • Quite Likely says:

        Hmm, that’s now what we see in practice though. In the United States at least the best era in terms of both economic performance and being high-trust was the post-WWII great compression era – aka the one immediately after the country’s largest ever experiment in redistribution.

        Of course redistribution CAN lead to a violent reaction that devastates a country (see Venezuela) but it certainly doesn’t have to (see the other Latin American countries where pink tide leaders like Chavez took power and successfully implemented similar policies while avoiding that kind of reaction and not descending into chaos).

        • gda says:

          How about being a little more focused – names and examples please. Just saying “other Latin American countries” is hand-waving.

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        excessively concentrated wealth leads to internal conflict also

    • Quite Likely says:

      I’m not a mindreader, just a progressive who speaks the language of other progressives like Harden and who is trying to translate them for non-progressives like the commenters here.

      On redistribution frequency: ideally you want a continuous process rather than a discrete “re-do,” or better yet a system that doesn’t produce inequalities that need to be redistributed away in the first place. Think of a basic income funded by a progressive wealth tax, so large concentrations of wealth just naturally dissipate back out into the populace.

      • Jim says:

        Equality is something very simple. Complex systems have basically zero chance of producing anything simple. So it’s no surprise that inequality has been the norm throughout history.

        About a little more than 200 years ago Haiti completely killed all whites and redistributed all their property to blacks. Following this Haiti invaded what is now the Dominican Republic and redistributed the wealth there to themselves. At one time Santo Domingo as it was called when it was a colony was one of the wealthiest in the New World. Today Haiti is an extremely poor country much of whose population has a standard of living not much better than it was 200 years ago. And despite the massive redistribution of the past there is plenty of inequality in Haiti.

        • Quite Likely says:

          Right, you have to put some thought into designing systems that tend towards equality. Just tearing the people on top down without changing the system just leads to the old order returning with a different corrupt elite on top.

          Though regarding Haiti in particular a lot of the blame for their plight lies not so much with the slave revolution but with the way they were absolutely ruined over and over again by first France and then the United States. Plenty of places have bounced back from a nasty war in far less time, it just helps to not be totally at the mercy of much stronger powers that both want to exploit you and just intrinsically want to punish you for existing.

          • Jim says:

            No social system is going to tend to equality unless it consists of one person. In any system the equality of two variables will define a subsystem of lower dimension. Not only will this subsystem have zero measure but points close to it will form a subset of small measure. So the state of the system is not only unlikely to be in this subsystem, it’s unlikely to be close to it. If it is close it is unlikely to stay close.

            States of a social system in which most people are nearly equal constitute a very tiny percentage of all possible states. So complex social systems are rarely in such states and when they are this doesn’t last long.

            • Quite Likely says:

              Couldn’t you say this about almost any variable? “a tiny percentage of all possible social states are capitalist, so capitalism is rare and doesn’t last long.”

              Equality is a goal, like economic growth or security. It doesn’t make sense to put all effort into maximizing it in the face of every conceivable tradeoff, but it’s something we should encourage to the degree we can. And in terms out that’s a very large degree! Clearly our societies are capable of reducing inequality, we have seen them do it before. Literally all that’s needed is a change in government policy either to increase direct redistribution, or more importantly to reorganize the incentives in the economy so as to make it ‘naturally’ produce more equal outcomes.

          • Big Bill says:

            Well, you can’t blame Touissant or Dessalines. They both tried to keep their slave plantations producing slave sugar as long as they could, but it didn’t work out. It was a big blow to Dessalines when the Brits wouldn’t go along with him importing more slave labor from Africa or buying some of Haiti’s escaped slaves back from elsewhere in the Caribbean. I mean, how can you keep a slave country running without regular importations of new slaves? Me, I would blame the Brits.

            • gda says:

              Can’t blame Dessalines? Are you serious?

              Ever heard of the 1804 Haitian Massacre? You know, the one where they killed off all the remaining whites? Why do you think Haiti remains a shit-hole up to today?

              Yeah, let’s kill off all the people with IQ’s over 80. What could go wrong, right?

      • Young says:

        Given the fact that there are differences in intelligence and that those differences are heritable to some degree and that race is a factor as well, do you propose to measure shares of wealth redistribution based on intelligence? Giving more, on average, to Asians and somewhat less to blacks? And how will you react when someone in authority decides that you are too stupid to deserve a very big share? Or do you have another metric for disbursing shares? Physical beauty? Body odor? Likely it will, as it commonly does in real life, come down to friends and family which is why Hugo Chavez’ daughter is fabulously wealthy and why the Castro family is wealthy while Cuba is poor.

        • Quite Likely says:

          Haha no, I do not favor linking welfare benefits to either IQ or race. Remember my main issue is the utilitarian benefit of spreading wealth more widely, and I don’t value someone’s well being any less based on their being less intelligent or less productive.

          • gcochran9 says:

            The long-term effects of having fitness utterly decoupled from intelligence are obvious. You’re boring.

            • Quite Likely says:

              I assume you mean “fitness” in some evolutionary sense like “number of descendants produced”?

              Given the current correlation between being more economically successful and having fewer children wouldn’t the “let’s give smarter people extra money” plan have a good chance of being more dysgenic than an equal distribution?

            • gda says:

              Boring AND full of it

          • Young says:

            Rodney King received a settlement of about $3.8 million and died broke a few years later. I’ve known Asian (and white) businessmen who would have increased that sum significantly in the same period of time and created or expanded a business that benefited the community. But I suppose you would come along and take what they built and distribute it to the next set of ‘Rodney Kings’ with the same dismal results. Oddly, without all that money Rodney King may not have been able to afford the booze and drugs that helped kill him and he could be alive today. It was kind of a mercy killing to give him that money. I suppose that is a bit of the ‘utilitarian benefit’ you are seeking.

            Progressives ‘celebrate diversity’ (whatever that means) until it comes to adding things up. Then, somehow we all become widgets who are expected to produce the same results unless some invidious discrimination gets in the way at which point you would have bureaucrats step in and make a mess of things by distributing misery equally.

            In some ways our system of education is already redistributing wealth and it is working about as expected. Billions are spent in futile attempts to raise the academic achievements of a population half of whom have IQ scores of 85 or less. The only thing that ‘works’ is cheating by teachers and administrators (recently in Georgia) or lowering standards to the point where no actual standards exist. Unfortunately, the people footing the bill for this disaster are generally those whose children could benefit from an actual education and are not getting it because of ‘slavery’ or ‘diversity’ or ‘fairness’.

            • Ursiform says:

              People of any race who got money the way King did would be unlikely to invest it wisely. But that is one, anecdotal, case.

              Lottery winners have been studied, and most don’t do a good job of keeping the money, much less investing it wisely. Whites included.

              • Young says:

                I had the opportunity to work on loans and grants, scores of them. Asians and whites generally do significantly better than blacks. I had no experience with Hispanics. But of the three races I did deal with there were very significant differences. Originally I thought the high failure rate of black loans might be worth the cost if a pioneer few were succesful and cut a path that others could follow. Ultimately the sheer weight of numbers made me despair of that solution. Despite the best will, high hopes, and lots and lots of money nothing significant was accomplished, I earned my pessimism the hard way.

  24. crew says:

    Are we seeing multiple different effects of a single virus or pathogen?

    Diabetes risk higher among LGBQ teens than heterosexual teens, study finds

    Could there be multiple failure modes?

    • Coagulopath says:

      I think this result comes from higher obesity rates in gay youth – or rather among lesbians, since gay men don’t seem to be any fatter than straight men.

      It must be asked: why are lesbians so fat? I can imagine they’re less likely to strive towards traditional female beauty standards, but this shouldn’t give them double the obesity rate (particularly since diets fail in the aggregate).

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “It must be asked: why are lesbians so fat?”


      • Peter Lund says:

        why are lesbians so fat?

        Comorbidity with polycistic ovarian syndrome?

        • gda says:

          Perhaps the simpler explanation is that with the acceptance of “queerness” as just another lifestyle choice to be celebrated, those teens who could not get a boy-friend because they were “differently weighted” (or just butt-ugly) decided to take the easy way out and hook up with other similar teens.

          I’ve yet to see an ugly, overweight female with a beautiful same-sex partner.

          Funnily enough, I just had this discussion a couple days ago with a friend who had independently reached the same conclusion.

  25. ccscientist says:

    You tend to denigrate family influences on educational attainment, and yet Asians attribute much of their educational attainment to the family. There is also considerable impact of conscientiousness on both academic and work success and this is a cultural trait (maybe some genetic part). We can also suggest that staying out of jail and finishing high school could have a big impact.

    • Jim says:

      All human behavioral traits such as “conscientiousness” have a genetic component.
      Note also that if a culture consistently rewards “conscientiousness” over a long period of time that will create selection for genes contributing to “conscientiousness”.

    • crew says:

      The obsessive and sometimes (violent*) emphasis on educational achievement by Chinese parents is clearly genetic.

      *The extent to which such parents scold and physically discipline kids who fall below expectations borders on and sometimes even is violence.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “You tend to denigrate family influences on educational attainment”

      genes are family influence

  26. Someone should summarize points of article to laymen. I don’t understand it.

  27. Greying Wanderer says:

    “Rodney King received a settlement of about $3.8 million and died broke a few years later.”

    right – redistributing money to people with high time preference is a pointless waste of time

    however just leaving it at that leaves all the other problems caused by high time preference

    also if you want to wean actual “improve the world” type liberals* off the blank slate then you need to tempt them with ways to use genetics to improve the world.

    (*as opposed to paycheck liberals, virtue signalers etc who will follow whoever wins the argument)

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      “redistributing money to people with high time preference is a pointless waste of time”

      unless wealth has been concentrated to such an extent that the economy has completely stagnated in which case theoretically it would be a temporary fix

    • Young says:

      You will have a tough slog convincing ‘liberals’ to use genetics to improve the world since so few of them are willing to admit that it has anything to do with an individual’s or a population’s intelligence or behavior. Something will happen, though. Even David Reich stepped a bit into the issue when he warned the left, and others, that they had better get ready for massive evidence that genetics plays a role in race, intelligence and behavior and that the information could be misused if no thought is put into how the blow will be softened (not exactly his words, of course).

      I don’t think we are positioned as a society to publicly use genetics to improve the world while our legal system is in such a mess. The 14th Amendment, Section I, is crystal clear in stating that nobody shall be denied ‘equal protection of the laws,’ yet the Bakke case pretended to do a workaround in the name of ‘diversity’ so that large segments of the population are discriminated against with the blessing of the highest court in the land.

      In actual practice, ‘diversity’ doesn’t work quite as expected since we have ‘historically black’ colleges, black university housing, black graduation ceremonies, and other special set asides tending to segregate by race. It is almost as if the left and the black activists have decided that Governor Wallace and ‘Bull’ Conner were right after all. But try having an exclusively white graduation ceremony or housing complex and you will quickly discover how unequal ‘equal protection of the laws’ has become.

      Better that the Constitution be followed, ignore race, and select for merit. There will be fewer blacks graduating from some universities but those who do will actually deserve their degrees. Many do now, but, unfortunately, their credentials will always be suspect when everyone knows how corrupt the present system is.

      • Cloveoil says:

        All the stuff with leftists dragging their feet could’ve been avoided easily, by insisting equality is about equal consideration, and not equality in literally everything. People like Singer who say so are defamed as the most extreme left wingers, when actually they are by far the most reasonable.

        • Jim says:

          Which is to say that equality is about equal status. Note that equal status cannot be brought about even if material conditions are equalized. For example in a prison population a degree of material equality is attained among the inmates that would rarely be achieved in any other human society. Nevertheless prison societies have strong status hierarchies and intense, frequently violent, status competition.

        • Greying Wanderer says:

          fairness preference seems to be an evolved trait

          and imo most of the push for “equality” comes from perceived unfairness not equality per se (and almost all the remainder is dishonest manipulation)

          so if people have been taught to believe the blank slate is true then unequal outcomes must logically be caused by unfairness somewhere in the process.

          what that means is when x says “equality is good” they mean “fairness is good” so when y says “equality is bad” x hears it as “fairness is bad.”

          it’s easier to manipulate people into doing what you want of you understand how they think.

          • Cloveoil says:

            I agree: high fairness preference needs to be bred out of the general population.

            • Greying Wanderer says:

              i think fairness preference combined with acceptance of genetic reality is probably optimal (from a scientific tribalism point of view)

              • Cloveoil says:

                Personally I think fairness is best left to matters of provisioning – in which context the preference/instinct had evolved. Equal-ism now goes beyond such matters, to things such as gender relations – its an irrationalism,

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        “You will have a tough slog convincing ‘liberals’ to use genetics to improve the world since so few of them are willing to admit that it has anything to do with an individual’s or a population’s intelligence or behavior.”

        that has been true for a long time for sure but if it’s starting to crack then simple examples of non-intrusive eugenics that would fix specific problems would tempt them e.g. not being lenient to juvenile criminals would pull them out of the breeding pool leading to less high time preference, impulsiveness and low empathy genes (over time).

        • Cloveoil says:

          Aborting downers is crypto-eugenic, but it doesn’t lead to them wanting to ban frivolous abortions for educated high-IQ women. Indeed its caught up in individual choice rubbish, that it is an abuse of rights to forbid an abortion, or to sterilise a retard or an addict, for any reason. Its not just equality is the problem, its an emphasis on ‘positive liberty’. I think ‘negative liberty’ is better though it can lead to outright nihilism. Indeed, it is nihilism itself: but why not be nihilistic about the things (((they))) tell us to care about?

          I am not really bothered about gays, ‘transgenderism’, ‘Islamism’, ‘the culture of rape’, video games, child pornography, ordinary pornography, ‘war on science’, and the rest of the shibboleths and scapegoats… are you?

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            “Its not just equality is the problem, its an emphasis on ‘positive liberty’”

            sure – the equality thing is just one aspect

          • Ursiform says:

            I actually am worried about child pornography. Children are harmed.

            • Cloveoil says:

              In reality paedophilia is very rare, and you can’t solve the problem because it happens in private among trusted relations. Naturally CP is also very rare, and not an issue worthy of moral panic. Anti-CP campaigns resort to dirty tactics to inflate the incidence of child porn and sex abuse – conflating the issue with drawings (as in Japan) and sex with minors who are biologically adult. So no, its not a social issue warrants serious thought.

  28. Young says:

    You will only chase your tail on ‘equality’ until you can define what it is. With inevitable differences in individuals, groups, environments, and luck the only ‘equality’ that makes any sense is equality before the law. After that you are on your own.

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