Review of Blueprint

Now up in Quillette. You can order it here.

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77 Responses to Review of Blueprint

  1. Arb says:

    Just searched Amazon UK for “Blueprint” intending to pre-order. The top two results:

    Blueprint: How our childhood makes us who we are
    by Lucy Maddox
    15 Mar 2018

    Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are
    by Robert Plomin
    4 Oct 2018

    Something for every taste 🙂

    • Sieg says:

      LoL… it’s kinda funny

      Bu if one of the two would be used in Educational Courses on University, how we can “guess” wich one woul be chosen?

  2. Maybe when Elon Musk gets to Mars, he’ll fetch back some better social scientists. But let’s make sure they get vaccinated.

  3. manwhoisthursday says:

    There are some important psychological traits that are affected by environment: the most obvious example is religiosity. People in the West are, on average, much less religious than they were a hundred years ago, certainly less than they were 500 years ago. Since genetic change can’t happen quite that quickly, the change is due to a change in the environment.

    But that kind of change isn’t because of the way your parents raise you, the schools you attend etc. either. It seems to have something to do with the general safety and prosperity of the modern West. Some have suggested it is mainly due to much lower threat from pathogens.

    Variability on religiosity within the modern West is still highly heritable of course.

    • AppSocRes says:

      IMHO, you are defining religiosity much too narrowly, as some sort of relatively strict adherence to some sort of established religious doctrine. If one were to define it rather as a tendency to acknowledge the numinous and/or be open to / receptive of supernatural explanations then IMHO your counter-argument by example is not as solid as you presume.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        If one were to define it rather as a tendency to acknowledge the numinous and/or be open to / receptive of supernatural explanations

        Nah, you even see a radical decline in cults and other forms of non-traditional spirituality. People in the Wests mostly haven’t become full blown atheists, but they generally ignore religion.

        • Eclipse Chewer says:

          Last year the likely 2020 Democrat nominee excoriated Americans for their homophobia and transphobia in a notable public speech. A non-zero percentage of westerners suddenly began believing that some women have penises a couple of years ago.

          We have the worst cult problem since the days of the Anabaptists at least.

        • rogertheshrubber says:

          You’re missing his point. Abolitionism, Women’s suffrage, Temperance, through to equalism, blank-slatism are religions. For instance, Bill Gates, a clearly bright fellow, spent vast sums in Africa, whose general results were more Africans. This had to be predictable, and, therefore, done on the basis of assuaging guilt, or moral imperative. This is a religious exercise. One of many. Odds that his great-great forebears were observant – high.

        • manwhoisthursday says:

          Only the tiniest of tiny minorities are into any of that. Most liberals believe that all people with penises are biologically male. But no one wants to take on the intolerant minority.

          Bill Gates is just virtue signalling, doing the prestigious thing. I seriously doubt he really believes in any of this shit. At worst, he believes it in a very superficial way.

          Thing is, if you actually talk to liberals, they’ll often tell you that your right. Privately.

          • Frau Katze says:

            “Only the tiniest of tiny minorities are into any of that. Most liberals believe that all people with penises are biologically male. But no one wants to take on the intolerant minority.”

            The tyranny of a loud obnoxious minority, who always win unless they’re decisively dealt with. The university administrations are either a) in agreement with them or b) are afraid of them.

            Nassim Taleb explains how it is ever thus:

            View story at

          • Anon says:

            “Bill Gates is just virtue signalling”

            Sure, to the tune of almost a billion dollars.

          • Jim says:

            In the cultural climate we live in today it’s no longer possible to know what public figures really believe about anything.

        • Difference Maker says:

          Haven’t you heard

          Liberalism is a religion

    • JP says:

      Interestingly, selection within the middle class for religiosity is extremely strong right now. Whatever variants boost the probability of being a weekly church-goer are getting massively boosted. Regardless of quite how the causality goes, serious church people have higher fertility.

      • Jacob says:

        I knew that there were class and religion effects, but not a class x religion effect. Got any more info for me?

      • The Monster from Polaris says:

        Secular populations generally seem to have a total fertility ratio below replacement level. Some religious groups have a TFR above 5, for instance 5.47 for Conservative Laestadians in Finland according to Wikipedia. I have no idea of their membership retention ratio, but I would expect that to rise gradually over time, as the people with less inclination towards religiosity “boil off”. Guessing that the retention rate might be some 75% to 80% and assuming 30 years between generations, the Conservative Laestadians would increase in number about tenfold per century, so that before 2200 they’ll outnumber us secular Finns, assuming current trends continue. I would expect similar trends elsewhere, though the time at which the serious believers become a majority will vary from country to country.

        • Frau Katze says:

          The Muslims will beat your conservative Christians. There’s a whole lot more of them (admittedly, I don’t know the stats for Finland.)

          • Maciano says:

            Muslims have a terrible rep fighting white christians. I don’t believe muslims will take over.

            The trouble is being demographically swamped by the third world, no matter what their background is. This will make our societies completely dysfunctional.

    • Anon says:

      “People in the West are, on average, much less religious than they were a hundred years ago, certainly less than they were 500 years ago.”

      Wrong, they just switched religions.

      • Zenit says:

        I will guess that people of Europe, especially Protestant Europe are more religious than 500 years ago.
        (“religion” defined as susceptibility to some “cause” and willingness to devote and sacrifice their lives for some “higher idea”)

        In traditional Catholic Europe, religious person had following options:
        1/ become celibate priest, monk or lay hermit, no descendants.
        2/ become Crusader, embark to “pilgrimage” to the East, never return, no descendants.
        3/ become a heretic, with very short life expectancy, no descendants.

        Catholicism thus worked as efficient shredder of religious genes, until the Protestants unleashed the fanatics and let them breed.

        • Jim says:

          Celibacy was not that common among the Catholic clergy until fairly late in Western history.

          • Zenit says:

            Celibacy of priests began to be seriously enforced in 11-12th century, and it took some time before it was established in the boondocks of Europe,but celibacy of monks and nuns was the rule for 1200 years, and monks were always more numerous than priests.

    • “People in the West are, on average, much less religious than they were a hundred years ago,” Environmentalism has replaced the religion you refer to.

      • Rosenmops says:

        Environmentalism and feel-good multiculturalism, open borders, etc. It is a religion in the same way communism is a religion. The want to send dissenters to Gulags.

    • Leonard says:

      They are just as religious, if not more so. Realtalk to a leftie today and you’ll find religion out the wazoo. No God, of course, or a pathetic God. But supernatural beliefs like crazy. They’ll insist it’s all Science. Is structural racism really any different than the Devil? They act pretty much the same, at least if the Devil hates blacks more than other people. And they’re both just as detectable.

      This came about via a holiness spiral within Christianity, the economic prestige of modern Western capitalism, and the incredible military prestige attained by (a) winning WWII and (b) nukes.

    • manwhoisthursday says:

      Those of you claiming that people are just as religious as they ever were are out to lunch. You have no idea how saturated with religion life was 500 years ago. Environmentalism and PC, the two things that people always bring up when pointing to modern liberal religion, don’t actually prove your point.

      Left wing authoritarians (including PC people and hard core environmentalists) have a decidedly different personality than run-of-the-mill liberals. Left wing authoritarians tend to be puritanical, organized and religious, even in the ordinary sense; regular liberals tend to be flaky, directionless and . . . irreligious.
      Left wing authoritarians, despite the fact that they’ve taken over a bunch of institutions in our society, are actually a extremely tiny minority of people. They’re very good at manipulating many ordinary liberals, but a lot of other ordinary liberals don’t like them very much.
      View story at

      • JerryC says:

        Left wing authoritarians, despite the fact that they’ve taken over a bunch of institutions in our society, are actually a extremely tiny minority of people. They’re very good at manipulating many ordinary liberals, but a lot of other ordinary liberals don’t like them very much.

        But churches operate much the same way, do they not? The average congregant may not be all that interested in church doctrine and just goes along to get along. Those who control the institution are typically a lot more committed and ideological.

        • manwhoisthursday says:

          Churches are voluntary organizations, so even the lukewarm members have to be interested enough in religion to actually show up.

    • DataExplorer says:

      500 years ago people believed in religion because their authority figures told them too, without having looked into the facts themselves. Today people still believe in whatever their authority figures tell them to without looking into the facts. So nothing has really changed. We may be a little bit more curious and open minded today, but I would bet that some of that really is down to genetic change.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        The utter ubiquity of religion among hunter gatherers says your wrong. There’s no authority. If you feel like you’re being oppressed, you can take a bunch of likeminded friends and leave the group, as people frequently did. Yet, all hunter gatherer bands were religious.

        If you dumped a bunch of random people out in the middle of the wilderness with not texts and no contacts with civilization, they wouldn’t be Christians or Buddhists or whatever, but they’d all turn into pagans.

        So, what we have to explain is why, in the absence of coerced religion in modern society, more people don’t become pagans.

    • Ursiform says:

      There is a difference between being religious and feeling compelled to act religious. We don’t know what fraction of people actually believed in the past.

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        We know that hunter gatherers are highly religious in the absence of any authority that might compel them to be.

        Also, you need to examine history more closely. Religion in the premodern West was ubiquitous. Everything was saint this and saint that, belief in ghosts, demons, constant religious festivals etc. Read Steve Bruce.

    • Religiosity is one of the most highly heritable traits there is. 0.9 or above. Check Tom Bouchard for details. It would be a mistake to think that, just because specific religions are on the wane, then religiosity (belief in supernatural forces, an elect, sinners, a promised land etc etc) is on the wane. Check out the way it manifests itself in liberal westerners
      Or–if you can stand the self-satisfied mush–then check out Pharygula. Bring a sick bag. Give me an old-fashioned Abramic religious nutcase in preference any day of the week

      • manwhoisthursday says:

        Helena Handbasket:

        You don’t understand what heritability means. The heritability of things like height (and probably IQ) were less 500 (or even 100) years ago than they are now. If you don’t know why that is, then you don’t understand heritability.

        Heritability is what percentage of the difference between individuals on a certain trait can be accounted for in a certain environment. Thus, heritability within one species can vary quite a bit from environment to environment.

        So, heritability of religiosity in our society basically tells you nothing about whether the current social environment is making people in the West less religious than they were 200 plus years ago.

        None of this means that schools and parenting have any effect on IQ.

    • pam32 says:

      Quote: “People in the West are, on average, much less religious than they were a hundred years ago”

      Flynn Effect?

  4. Eric Ruttencutter says:

    The Three Stooges knew Nature beat Nurture. See “Hoi Polloi,” circa 1936.

  5. Jacob says:

    “We need a different kind of social science researcher, smarter, less emotional, and more curiosity-driven. Intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic. But where will we find them?”

    Certainly this new breed will need to be smarter and more curious. But I’m not sure about less emotional. He might, for example, share your hatred for dishonesty and incompetence.

    Being right about academic issues wouldn’t give this scientist his rightful place in the public dialogue. The new scientist, and others sympathetic to his ideas, will have to expose the current field in such a way that voters finally understand how badly they’re being swindled.

    This is taxpayer money going to anti-taxpayer propaganda. $100,000 sunk down for every daughter brainwashed, with the families and the public getting zero ROI. The cattle must be informed of their vampire bat problem, to such a degree that pulling funding for these programs will be a decision favored by the electorate (as with Hungary).

  6. Interesting that the paperback copy is more expensive that the hard cover.,

  7. Frau Katze says:

    Slightly OT: Greg, do you think that Eric Weinstein in this video is edging up to HBD? I’ve heard others, too. He seems afraid to come out and say it, but there are hints. (Brother of Bret Weinstein, formerly of Evergreen College).

    It starts with a discussion of a recent report attempting to link mostly mild contrarians on Youtube to Richard Spencer. Youtube operators are much more heavily censored than the straight print bloggers. I assume that’s because it’s not easy to set up a web site that supports videos, compared to a simple text blog.

    The big Youtube people also have much larger and younger audiences than the pure text world. I almost never recognize a pseudonym. I also seem to be a lot older than most of them. But that larger, younger audience makes them much more of a threat.

    So you and Steve Sailer, etc are left alone, as you lack the reach.

    It’s long and beats around the bush.

    • Make Zimbabwe Great Again says:

      he’s already endorsed the ideas that all groups equally represented in everything is impossible without quotas and that his tribe is cleverer than others for genetic reasons.

  8. Le Ed says:

    Splendid review by Greg. Although I am a little surprised when he quoted Steven Pinker, I thought he disliked him. Of course both are on the same side ideologically its just that Pinker is a professor at Harvard and also write articles in Greg´s favourite newspaper the NYT.

    • Eponymous says:

      “Of course both are on the same side ideologically”

      I wouldn’t go that far. They both reject the blank slate, but ideology-space has more than one dimension.

      • Aldo says:

        He accepts racial differences in intelligence as long as it’s Jews VS The Rest.

        • Rodep says:

          That’s just the only one he thinks he can get away with saying out loud.

        • Lior says:

          No, he says that genetic differences are a possible explanation for differences between more than just the JEWS and the rest.
          From the blank slate:
          “Individuals are not genetically identical, and it is unlikely that the differences affect every part of the body except the brain. And though genetic differences between races and ethnic groups are much smaller than those among individuals, they are not nonexistent…race is just a very large and partly inbred family. Some racial distinctions thus may have a degree of biological reality, even though they are not exact boundaries between fixed categories. Humans, having recently evolved from a single founder population, are all related, but Europeans, having mostly bred with other Europeans for millennia, are on average more closely related to other Europeans than they are to Africans or Asians, and vice versa. Because oceans, deserts, and mountain ranges have prevented people from choosing mates at random in the past, the large inbred families we call races are still discernible, each with a somewhat different distribution of gene frequencies. In theory, some of the varying genes could affect personality or intelligence”

          • Le Ed says:

            Thanks Lior, your comment shows that Greg and Pinker are on the same side. Listen to Pinker´s speech in front of a Jewish audience were he review Greg´s ideas on Ashkenazi Jews, you hear his respect for the authors of that paper. He says this a scientific paper in the way Popper defined science, he does however also points out the consequences should this be accepted as the truth.

  9. Toddy Cat says:

    Great review, thanks!

  10. adreadline says:

    ”We need a different kind of social science researcher, smarter, less emotional, and more curiosity-driven. Intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic. But where will we find them?”

    We will genetically engineer them. Duh.

    Actually, scratch the ”we”. The Chinese will do it first.

    • Jim says:

      Presumably on Mars.

      • Yudi says:

        Clone a bunch of Razib Khans, Robert Plomins, Gregory Cochrans, etc.

        • David Chamberlin says:

          They are too old. We have to find the brightest at a young age. Damn near every famous scientist is past his prime. We could clone the youngest go champions but don’t get your hopes up the kid will have blue eyes. Here’s a cool graph of Go Champions through time.
          We would have to include chess champions if we want some white kids in the mix.

          • adreadline says:

            ”Damn near every famous scientist is past his prime.”

            Let’s make ’em famous right as they hit drinking age, then? I kid.

            Also, since you mentioned chess, we might as well just program our future social science researchers. Of course, we must make sure that they don’t notice too much and become racist or something.

  11. tim hadselon says:

    This reminds me, the talk about “cycles of civilizations”, the idea that a society could be plunged into darkness for centuries, due to economic or cultural problems, seems farfetched.

    It seems more likely that when a civilization truly goes away, it would be due to mass genetic change or replacement. In other words, it’s the people, not the pots (culture) that really change.

  12. Unladen Swallow says:

    A number of trolls have taken over the comment thread on your review of Quillette, including someone who claims to be from BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute)? Some forty plus comments from one commenter.

  13. J says:

    Regarding Cochran’s thought at the end of the article, it will never happen. Because it never happened and not because of lack of knowledge. Plato – 2500 years ago – knew that people is born Gold, Silver of Iron and he planned an utopian society on the basis of that knowledge. Plato was an Athenian teacher and had many followers, yet Athens rejected that knowledge and adopted (one and again) an extreme equalitarian organization. My conclusion: the knowledge of the “Blueprint” can co-exist with far-left-wing equalitarianism. America is Athens, chaotic, incoherent, imperialist and… very prosperous.

    • Maciano says:

      And on its way to oblivion if it doesn’t change.

    • Go back and reread Plato. He thought that this was a noble lie to achieve stability.

      • Garr says:

        In Republic Plato has Socrates clearly proposing the obvious — that Guardians will probably have Guardian-quality kids, Warriors will probably have Warrior-quality kids, and Producers will probably have Producer-quality kids. The Metals Myth is just supposed to make people okay with this truth — it’s mythical packaging for the obvious. And that’s what J meant, so you shouldn’t have said “go back and reread Plato” in that authoritative, contemptuous way.

  14. J says:

    I am back. Plato based his Republic on lies, but only to promote his eugenic agenda. He did believe some were born gold destined to the philosopher class.

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