The Casting Couch

I know of a few cases in which people have publicly supported the idea that humans are bosons while personally thinking otherwise. This can mean signing Graham Coop’s  letter against Nicholas Wade [ misplaced: such  letters are traditionally sent to  Pravda], or publicly criticizing work they privately agree with –  ” you have to read between the lines” -, or just being careful to avoid certain dangerous topics  – “I can’t afford to think about that”.

This tendency is strongest, perhaps, in people just entering the field. Weakest in dying Nobelists.

But life is like that sometimes.  Think of what young actresses have had to do to advance their careers.  From one point of view, they deserve respect for the sacrifice they make for their art.  In the same way, when some young geneticist is emitting protective nonsense, which can’t be comfortable – remember: it takes a hell of a man to fuck Harvey Weinstein.




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Are Samoans Big?

More to the point, are they inherently big?  Genetically big? We used to know that Samoans were big. But today it is possible, in principle  to develop a more detailed, genetical, causal explanation of Samoan bigness – although we haven’t really done so yet. And since that better explanation is possible and desirable, yet has not yet been developed, somehow we no longer know whether Samoans are inherently really big. The best is the enemy of the good. It could be some kind of optical illusion. Maybe bigness is a polygenic trait, which would have taken a million years to  select for, just as it took a million years to develop the German Shepherd or shrink dachshunds by 50%.  Maybe that bigness is unstable because polygenic, in the same way that Percherons get small if you let them watch too much vintage Steve Martin.

Now it might be that Samoans are big  in every known environment, but  that only shows how powerful and universal prejudice really is. It might be that we have spent hundreds of billions on attempts to shrink Samoans, without any lasting result, but that only shows that we haven’t tried hard enough.

If we had a PRS for bigness, and it showed that Samoans had significantly higher scores – well,  that would be a scientific travesty.  One that was especially apparent to anyone that had just gotten their Ph.D. in a related controversial field and was looking for an academic job.


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PRS and Paleoafricans

PRS scores for various traits, determined in Europeans, don’t work well for sub-Saharan Africans, due to big differences in population history.  That can in principle be fixed by doing GWAS studies among Africans.  But PRS scores determined in either Eurasians or Bantu surely won’t work with Bushmen, probably the most divergent human population.  And I can’t see how we fix this, because there aren’t enough Bushmen in the world to even do one of the required large-sample GWAS studies.

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The XYZ affair

Just as there’s a non-genetic X factor that explains why blacks test worse than whites, there’s a non-genetic Y factor that explains higher Ashkenazi performance. And in the same way, there’s a non-genetic Z factor that explains why Chinese score better than Malays in Malaysia.


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Space and time

David Reich, in his book,  made an important point that I noticed but did not emphasize. The plus variants for educational attainment are getting rarer at a rapid pace in Iceland and the US ( and probably all other developed countries), corresponding to a drop in IQ of about a point a generation – which is about what you would expect from heritability and known demographic patterns, something which has been known from before I was born.

Reich points out that it’s pretty hard to believe that selection A. couldn’t or B. just wouldn’t change IQ in different populations [ given tens of thousands of years], if it is changing things right in front of our eyes.  If selection had different effects on IQ in different eras, it almost certainly had different effects in different places.

Along this same line of thought, we may expect to see differences in IQ in past European populations, extrapolated from ancient DNA.







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Why did they ever think that?

In the 20th century ( and still today) a lot of time was wasted on psychological theories assuming that family environment in early life had a strong influence on personality and smarts.

Why did anyone ever believe that?



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If you can’t be a good example: Venezuela

then you’ll just have to serve as a horrible warning. Since people are attracted by stupid ideas like moths to a flame, it may be that leaving certain flaming piles of shit around for all to see would maximize global human welfare.  That’s rough on Venezuela, though.  There are probably countries that could do a better job of scaring sense into people: ideally a smaller but hard to ignore country,  one that can make the point without injuring so many people and tying up such large heavy-oil reserves.

North Korea has a lock on neutering the natural appeal of dynastic Juche-Stalinism.   Cuba does a fairly good job with white-bread Communism. But we obviously need more examples: we need a feminist homeland, with a constant flow of advocates making aliyah, to keep the population from collapsing.  Ideally with very few guys, just enough to open pickle jars and keep basic infrastructure running.

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