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January 10, 2003

Keep Your Laws Off My DNA

If you read enough feminist newsletters and websites you'll eventually come across more than a few childfree by choice defenses. Setting aside the question of why brilliant, succesful, allegedly fulfilled women are feel the need to defend their choices so vigorously, their reasoning offers a clue as to why discussion of genetic factors in intelligence, talent, and personality must be suppressed.

The typical defense is that the world is already overpopulated and that people who refrain from adding to this problem are more level-headed and foresighted than those who have children anyway. This is frequently followed by admonitions that everyone who wants children shop for them at foreign orphanages instead of adding to overpopulation with a do-it-yourself project.

GNXP followers and most other thinking people know that overpopulation hysteria is about 30 years out of date. And the anti-white racism that this argument hints toward by encouraging white couples to adopt brown babies instead of polluting the world with their own racist DNA cuts no ice with most whites under 30 who have born the brunt of affirmative action, quotas,
and other anti-white campus policies. However, the crux of this argument hangs on the shibboleth that All Races Are Created Equal.

This Brave New World and White Parent's Burden can only succeed in Lake Wobegone. If a child born to any Lagos prostitute will graduate from Harvard Medical School as easily as a Park Avenue scion named Benjamin Rabinowitz, if they both have a good secondary education and the tuition on hand, then the high-IQ childfree feminists are at least half-right even if their overpopulation theories are baloney.

But, if intelligence is highly heritable, and thus closely connected to race, not only are their racial theories in the dust bin, but their childlessness is a
net loss to society. In a purely Darwinian sense, by taking their high-IQ genes to the grave with them they are living antisocial, counterproductive lives. Although the genetic problems common in Third World adoptees are now being acknoweledged, the logical leap that healthy, intelligent, hardworking people should have children for the good of society would make childless feminists "feel guilty". As liberalism promises a guilt and shamefree existance for those who renounce the evil powers of racism, sexism, and homophobia, this must be avoided at all costs, even at the expense of scientific truth.

Are people fortunate enough to be born at the right tail of the bell curve obligated to pay for their dumb luck by having a lot of babies to keep our complex society going? Clearly the decision to have a family is an intensely personal one that is fraught with emotion and subject to influences over which one frequently has little control. Do we owe society our high IQ genes in the next generation of the cognitive elite? Such a question will discomfort some libertarians, the kind who believe that the individual has no obligations to society beyond obeying the law and staying off welfare. Pre-September 11th, Steve Sailer shot down their open-border hallucinations with the genetic/financial inequality argument. Does the genetic inequality argument extend to increasing social pressure on high IQ people to marry and have large families?

I'll be the first to acknowledge that the ramifications of the Death of the Blank Slate will result in the greatest philosophical upheaval since the Enlightenment. Also, let me make it clear that as a Christian I believe that human beings have souls, and that we are more than just our genotypes. Certainly, the childless can contribute greatly to human societies, as they have for centuries. But in terms of Darwinian fitness, a fundamental genetic reality independent of and preceding human societies, the childless are irrelevant. As I've stated, I have no idea where to go from here, but the sooner we address these issues the better. But if our primary goal is to avoid hurting people's feelings we'll never even approach a resolution. We may as well start here. Let's hash this out. I invite every possible perspective.

Razib adds: from the message board....


"humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex."

it's not often that razib is this spectacularly wrong!

Posted by duende at 10:37 AM




"In a purely Darwinian sense, by taking their high-IQ genes to the grave with them they are living antisocial, counterproductive lives."

Nope. Selfish people shouldn't have kids. Just because a lot of the people who are having kids shouldn't, doesn't mean that high-IQ people necessarily should, merely because they are high IQ. Being a good parent also means having a high degree of altruism, and clearly these women score low on that scale.

Posted by: Diana at January 10, 2003 11:09 AM


It's interesting that you bring up altruism. Clearly, altruism and the desire to nurture are vital qualities in raising children, but Darwinian fitness deigns multiplying ones genes to be the primary expression of self-interest.


Also, our ideas of parenthood as being purely self-sacrificing are the products of our (relative) economic security. With Social Security, pension plans, and an information, post-industrial, post-agricultural economy, we don't need children for economic support.

Posted by: duende at January 10, 2003 11:22 AM


Oh no, you and Diana aren't gonna start THAT argument again are you?

I also notice that Duende is a Christian, which hasn't come up before. That certainly is a unique position on this site, ever since WJ Phillips dropped off the radar. I often wonder how religious a materialist can truly be though. You have to reach a contradiction in your thinking at some point. Steve Sailer says he's a Catholic, but how Catholic can he REALLY be? The most he ever offers is vague cosmological proofs, which AT MOST, would prove an impotent Diesm anyway. I mostly agree with this article by Chris Mooney, where he suggests that Atheism (or something verrrry close) is pretty much necessary to understand philosophiocal naturalism:

http://slate.msn.com/id/115965/

Posted by: Jason M. at January 10, 2003 12:23 PM


I really don't know what Jason means by "that again" but anyway...

"but Darwinian fitness deigns multiplying ones genes to be the primary expression of self-interest..." yes, exactly, it doesn't mean that the most intelligent reproduce. That the societally induced meaning _you_ are imputing to reproduction, because you value IQ.

All that it means is that those who are inclined to reproduce, will. I did _not_ say that parenthood was purely self-sacrificing; I said that you need enough altruism to do it, which clearly the high IQ egomaniacs you referred to don't possess.

Posted by: Diana at January 10, 2003 12:30 PM


If they don't want to have kids, they have a serious defect in their genetic makeup, and they can only harm the human race's survival in the long term.

Actually, that isn't quite fair - it is either a defect, in which case it is self-regulating, or it is an extremely "deep" genetic population-pressure release valve (i.e. hormonal stress in the mother caused by large numbers of people result in kidophobia or homosexual preferences in the offspring, which prevents further propogation).

Posted by: jb at January 10, 2003 01:25 PM


I do not think the smart unreproductive women are selfish or have defective genes. They just got caught up in the rat race, they worked very hard to get jobs that were productive and fulfilling, and kept putting off kids until they got everything right... the right man (which was hard to find because we are underrepresented on the right hand side of the bell curve) and the right nest egg. They fact that they are testy/defensive about this issue just indicates they regret not making the little ones...

Posted by: b at January 10, 2003 02:14 PM


"I really don't know what Jason means by "that again" but anyway..."

I would have to comb the archives until the Second Coming to find it, but I seem to remember an argument that began with 'childless women are selfish' and ending in 'well maybe selfish women shouldn't have children". Maybe I remember wrong. Either way, I was just playin'.

"if they don't want to have kids, they have a serious defect in their genetic makeup"

We're going a little overboard here. While women have a general instinct to breed, they by no means need to, and, if not, it certainly doesn't make them genetically defective!! Humans can "rise above themselves", so to speak, if they set their own priorties- as many women are doing today.
. . . which I'd hardly call "selfish"; ar least by its negative definition. I'll refer everyone to Smith's proverbial hero, the 'selfish baker', for the one that applies better.

Posted by: Jason M. at January 10, 2003 02:16 PM


Additionally, I think even finacially well off retirees need the support/labour from children. Sure you can pay someone to clean your house and mow your lawn, but I don't think you can pay for everything and I think there is a big time gap between when many people can no longer do many of the periodic labour activities that living alone require, but do need to go into a nursing home (which are very expensive). I think this time gap will grow with technological advances. And to generalize, the cost of services for things that normal people could do trivally are grously overpriced because they are extreme luxuries, meaning the elderly will pay through the nose for lots of these services...

Posted by: b at January 10, 2003 02:32 PM


please let us remember proximate causes-humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex. what proximate causes women have to encourage procreation might be channeled in other places in our modern society. human nature doesn't change-context does.

Posted by: razib at January 10, 2003 02:41 PM


Razib: "Humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex."

If you spent any time eavesdropping at a fertility clinic, you might feel cause to qualify both parts of that particular generalisation, young fella.

May Christ shine the light of His countenance on all you infidels in this year of grace, 2003.

Posted by: WJ Phillips at January 10, 2003 05:01 PM


As I've stated, I have no idea where to go from here, but the sooner we address these issues the better.

Why? A "confident" Darwinian wouldn't give a shit.

Posted by: Hillyer at January 10, 2003 05:18 PM


"humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex."

it's not often that razib is this spectacularly wrong!

Posted by: jody at January 10, 2003 06:21 PM


yes! Time to reinstitute a charming folk tradition:

On December 16th 1938 Hitler instituted a new award to honor German motherhood, especially the large family. The cross of Honour of the German Mother (Ehrenkreuz der deutschen Mutter) was created in three classes with the criteria as follows:

a) Bronze 3rd Class - A bronze Christian Cross normally worn about the neck, with a round shield encirling a black enamel swastika on a white enamel field. The reverse was plain save for the inscription 'Das Kind adelt die Mutter' (The child enobles the mother). The award was also accompanied by a large certificate bearing a facsimile of Hitler's signature.

b) Silver 2nd Class - similiar to the 3rd class except that the metal parts were finished in silver. It was presented for bearing 6 to 7 children.

c) Gold 1st Class - again similar to the 3rd class except all the metal parts were finished in Gold,presented for bearing eight or more children.

Only families of German origin qualified. Females from Danzig, Austria and the Sudetenland were eligible when these territories were absorbed into the Greater German Reich. Awards were rendered only on 'Mothering Sunday' (Mothers Day) the second Sunday in May. The first awards were rendered on the 21st May 1939, and the last awards were presented in 1944.

Ladies-let's get those uteri cranking.

Posted by: Heinrich at January 10, 2003 07:21 PM


signapore, sweden and france are just some of the countries that give incentives to women to have children.

Posted by: razib at January 10, 2003 07:26 PM


"humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex."

Nature did a lot more to us than make sex feel pretty, to ensure we would pass on those precious genes.

"what proximate causes women have to encourage procreation might be channeled in other places in our modern society. human nature doesn't change-context does."

However people want to comment on the first part, this part remains spectacularly right. Humans have got a lot of wiggle room.

Posted by: Jason M. at January 10, 2003 08:29 PM


Hewitt's assessment of the plight of American women who are successful at their careers is quite astounding.

Women have had to enter the workforce in greater numbers for a variety of reasons. In order to keep familial standards of living the same, they have had to join their husbands in finding jobs for the last few decades. Women cannot depend on men as much for financial stability (especially also with a 50% divorce rate) so they have to bring home the bacon themselves more and more. It isn't that men exclude women who are powerful and career oriented on the basis of their jobs. I think that many women who have careers aren't interested in dating 'down' thereby narrowing their potential dating pool. In addition, many men prefer submissive women and don't always find that quality in career women.

Religion has long been a limitiing force with regard to the excesses of human decadence. With the 'decline' (as measured by church attendance, for example) of Christianity in America, there are less restraints on male behavior (esp. among young males). The sexual revolution may have been the worst thing to happen to women in this country from an objective stance. Men can, in effect, wait much longer to settle down while they are having fun in the interim. Both factors have had a deleterious effect on getting young men to get hitched early, for better or worse.

Posted by: -R at January 11, 2003 12:35 AM


duende,
I am intersted in the basis for your Christian beliefs. Please respond to some of the arguments regarding atheism by Benz,
http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/nogod/no_god.htm

and from Barker,
http://www.ffrf.org/bybarker.html

Posted by: -R at January 11, 2003 12:43 AM


i think that sexual revolution favors winners rather than losers. back when everyone was expected to get married young-people would find SOMEONE to hook up with, even if it wasn't their ideal. this meant that more men found mates and weren't single. remember, there are about 104 males born for every 100 females in the US, and the ratio doesn't tip toward women until after 28. of those women under 28, a large number prefer men older, and quite often marry/date them. so men in their 20s, who generally don't have the same shot with older women, even if inclined, as younger women have with older men (generally-especially in the context of a long term relationship resulting in marriage), are a bit screwed by the math.

that being said, as steve sailer notes about men favoring polygamy, every man considers himself a winner, and so accepts this high stakes game, because they figure they'd snag a "Hottie" rather than a "She's OK."

Posted by: razib at January 11, 2003 01:19 AM


"duende,
I am intersted in the basis for your Christian beliefs. Please respond to some of the arguments regarding atheism by Benz. . ."

Ha, the Atheist attack dogs all jump in front of the line. Retrospectively, I feel like my comments on religion above were rude (mostly b/c they were out of place). I apologize Duende (though I feel as though Duende can probably take it like she can dish it out). If Duende and W.J Phillips et al., would like to discuss/debate/reflect on religious issues over in the GnXp discussion boards, I would like to hear their opinions. If so, I will try much harder to be mature, and yet honest, in my disagreements.

Posted by: Jason M. at January 11, 2003 01:19 AM


religious people routinely think that the non-religious are going to burn in hell and idiots for denying the obvious. non-religious people think religious people are idiots only think in terms of the obvious. which is the ruder position? :)

Posted by: razib at January 11, 2003 01:20 AM


All this concern over whether high-IQ women are breeding enough is going to seem very dated within a few decades. First, it's going to become possible for anyone to have a high-IQ child thanks to genetic engineering, and secondly, it's going to become increasingly easy to delay childbirth as fertility treatments become more and more effective.

And we can expect lifespans to extend dramatically, too. It's not worth worrying about.

Posted by: Elizabeth at January 11, 2003 10:34 AM


Elizabeth, we all live in the short term. Yes, genetic engineering will some day allow the creation of babies which are much more intelligence than their parents. But how many decades will it take before that starts happening? In the meantime the average genetic intelligence endowment is declining as a result of immigration of low intelligence groups into many Western nations combined with a higher rate of reproduction among dummies than among smarties. This is driving up crime (looked at the crime stats for London lately?), taxes, and various social pathologies. In some parts of the UK and in America it already has. It will also lead to more corrupt and incompetent government, mind-numbingly stupid and destructive populism, and to the election of leaders less able to deal with the international dangers we face. Why feel complacent about that just because some day technology is going to play our deux ex machina savior?

As for the worry about smart selfish people having children: High intelligence people are on average a net benefit to society even if they are born to selfish parents.

The arguments for why trends are not bad, or why they are not going to get that bad or why the alternatives are worse all seem like rationalisations. Intelligence matters, it matters a great deal, and declining average intelligence is extremely harmful to the health of any society.

Posted by: Frankenstein at January 11, 2003 11:22 AM


Razib, Robert Wright's discussion of polygamy is considerably more sobering than Sailer's (although I'm only concluding about Sailer through the filter of your lens...). He says that polygamy is hardest on low-status men. Because the top chicks are all swept up by a relatively few high-status males; low status chicks have their pick of guys; leaving Mohammad Atta type creeps to plot mischief and knock down buildings in dar al Harb. Or somethin' like that.

Posted by: Diana at January 11, 2003 12:45 PM


diana, that's what steve says too. pretty common sense. the thing is, most guys still have a reflex to favor it because they don't think they'll be losers.

Posted by: razib at January 11, 2003 01:30 PM


Hence the "frustration" on the part of young Arab men who can't get laid. They all think they're winners....hell, some of them ARE degreed, but they still can't get a job or a woman.

I can't think of a more perfect way to fuck up a society than to tell men between the ages of 15 and 35 that:
1) You can't look at pretty girls
2) You can't have sex
3) You can't drink
4) But dying for your religion will get you all the sex and booze you want in heaven.

David

Posted by: David at January 11, 2003 01:50 PM


I'm glad to see that Steve has it all nailed down. Steve for President. Sailer in '08.

Posted by: Diana at January 11, 2003 02:40 PM


Frankenstein, with reference to your statement:

..the average genetic intelligence endowment is declining as a result of immigration of low intelligence groups into many Western nations combined with a higher rate of reproduction among dummies than among smarties. This is driving up crime (looked at the crime stats for London lately?), taxes, and various social pathologies...

How would you explain the evolution of Australia from a penal colony comprised of the dregs of European society, to a highly advanced technological country we know today?

Yes, intelligence is important, and I would argue that the current generation of immigrants from "low-intelligence" groups demonstrate through their efforts that they are on the right hand side of the bell-curve of their respective groups.

Also, IQ measurements of groups in Third World countries is notoriously unreliable. Anecdotal evidence follows: I remember sitting through an IQ test in high school back in India. Now this was a private Catholic shool with stringent entrance qualifications. I know for a fact that many of my otherwise brilliant classmates (kids who liked to solve statistical theorems over lunch break) scored in the high 90s and low 100s simply because they did not understand the subtle nuances in test questions because of a poor grasp of English.

Posted by: Suman Palit at January 11, 2003 03:20 PM


Suman, IQ measurements have been made in the 1st world countries of immigrants and their descendants from the various 3rd world countries. The Latin American immigrants score poorly and so do their children. Standardized test scores can be compared as well. Yes, there are lots of very smart people coming from the Indian subcontinent and East Asia to America to do programming and engineering and science. But they are not the typical immigrants to America today. The more typical immigrants are coming up from Mexico and Central America. They are not coming as technical workers or to go to university (let alone to go to university to study engineering). Their children and grandchildren need America's Affirmative Action to make it into America's elite universities.

Australia: It is not widely appreciated that most immigrants to Australia from Britain were not criminals. Also, the criminals for the most part did not come with family (though some women were transported). They didn't have as many opportunities to reproduce as did the non-criminal immigrants.

Then there were the criminals. The criminals of that period are different from our own in the greater degree of necessity motivating their commission of theft. Criminals today are not robbing in order to stay alive. But in the late 18th century hunger was common. Child abandonment due to poverty was extremely common (see John Boswell's The Kindness Of Strangers). It would be a fair guess that criminality in that period was less an indicator of anti-social personality.

Frank

Posted by: Frankenstein at January 11, 2003 07:10 PM


Elizabeth,
In the long run, you may be right, but fertility exists in 1 or 2 decades, not the 50 year spans you discuss. Waiting until you're 45 expecting fertility specialists to discover the fountain of youth is imprudent, as the boomers have painfully discovered.

Also, genetic engineering of intelligence can only do so much with the raw material it recieves. It might be able to increase an 85 to 100, but an 85 to 150? The high IQ dysgenia is a catastrophe that will only be somewhat mitigated by G E. By the time it is safe and widely available, even in America, you and I will dead.

Posted by: duende at January 12, 2003 09:56 AM


"humans don't have sex to have babies, they have babies because they enjoy sex" -- Razib

Here's a counter-example, posted on www.iSteve.com today (a counter-example, moreover, which I believe represents the way women in general look at this more than one might think):

"Previously, a woman who wanted a man to support her baby needed to persuade the man to marry her. Today, though, the government will simply step in and take money from the man as if he had made a contract. ... What incentive does a woman have to go through all the hard work of being nice enough and faithful enough to get a man to marry her when all she has to do is conceive a child by one of her boyfriends and sicc the government on whichever guy comes up in the DNA test. I'm reminded of an extreme example of this. When my first son was an infant, my wife was in a playgroup with a young single mother who told her that one day she had a dream in which she had a beautiful blonde baby boy. So, that evening she went to a bar and found the blondest man there. Later that evening when he earnestly inquired about birth control, she lied that she was on The Pill. Nine months later she gave birth to a boy, who soon looked exactly like the blonde baby she had dreamed of. The shell-shocked father was dutifully sending checks, but the mother had never gotten around to explaining to him what had really happened." -- Steve Sailer

Posted by: Cognassier at January 12, 2003 01:44 PM


Suman
>>How would you explain the evolution of Australia from a penal colony comprised of the dregs of European society, to a highly advanced technological country we know today?

Posted by: jim cooley at January 13, 2003 07:59 AM


Human genetic selection and alteration is already here to some degree, and is not yet illegal. Once it becomes commercially available on a large scale it will be illegal in most countries, but surely not in all countries, and especially not in Thailand, which has good private medicine and loose morals in almost all respects (I have seen bioethics polls of Thais, almost anything goes). Russians are probably the same way, and are poorer. What's the cost of a trip to Asia compared to ten points or more of expected IQ for your kids.
Two powerful techniques are available. The first is pre-implantation genetic selection, which will be Much more useful in a decade once we have analyzed the human genome project and Much less invasive and more powerful after two decades, when cloned ovaries provide arbitrary numbers of oocytes, for automated combination with sperm and automated analysis in large MEMS arrays. The second is the actual addition of novel genes. This can now be done safely and reliable by adding genes to a solution of washed sperm, shaking, and centrifuging to separate the heavier sperm, with their added genes. It is safe because the genes don't integrate themselves into the middle of existing genes, potentially causing defects, as older techniques did. OTOH, experiments with any new gene are intrinsically unsafe and will inevitably involve some unforseen side-effects.

Posted by: michaelvassar at January 13, 2003 11:29 AM


"The second is the actual addition of novel genes. This can now be done safely and reliably by adding genes to a solution of washed sperm, shaking, and centrifuging to separate the heavier sperm, with their added genes. It is safe because the genes don't integrate themselves into the middle of existing genes, potentially causing defects, as older techniques did." -- Michael Vassar

When genes and sperm are shaken together the genes just diffuse through the sperm cell membranes and nuclear membranes on their own? Genes are huge molecules. How do they get through? Are there pores or channels? Are they taken up actively by the cell membrane and nuclear membrane? They remain completely intact through all this? What enzymes insert them into the cell's existing DNA?

Posted by: Cognassier at January 14, 2003 09:45 AM


They appear to be taken up actively. This may make evolutionary sense as the only way for the y chromosome to get the benefits of sexual reproduction in terms of rapid evolution. It was only discovered about 2 months ago, so not much is known about it. They do remain intact, and insert themselves into junk regions. If you find more recent information, please let me know. I saw it in New Scientist. Discovered by an Italian team.

Posted by: michaelvassar at January 14, 2003 10:06 AM


Micheal -

Two questions: do you have any links you could give us about this? And, more intrigingly, how does one "wash" sperm?

Posted by: jimbo at January 15, 2003 11:19 AM


I would search New Scientist's archive for the words, sperm, centrifuge, wash, gene insertion, and italian. Possibly also for 25%. I interpreted wash as mix with water and shake, possibly with an enzyme that removes interferon.

Posted by: michaelvassar at January 15, 2003 11:32 AM