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March 08, 2003

A people that shall invite controversy....

John Derbyshire reviews (mildly negatively) Kevin MacDonald's work, the paleolibertarian zine The Last Ditch savages Derb (and should get a "Derbyshire Award" for it) and Kevin MacDonald responds.

Update: Richard Poe comments a bit. He's read all of MacDonald's work.

Update II: Derbyshire answers some common objections.

Update III: Bye bye brown jews? Just a Jewish related story about the Bene Israel of India-who preserved their Aaronic (Kohanim) Y chromosome lineage over several thousand years.... (thanks to Human Races)

Posted by razib at 02:47 PM

" In the end, Derbyshire is the epitome of that sad and paradoxical figure, the Judaized intellectual discussed in The Culture of Critique for whom Jewish attitudes and interests, Jewish likes and dislikes, now constitute the culture of the West, internalized by Jews and non-Jews alike."

What the hell?

Statements that like show vindicate Derb's judgment. At the heart of it, MacDonald and his book are anti-Semitic.

This is the heart of the matter. "Group evolutionary pschology" etc aren't necessarily racist for pointing out strategies that may play a role in groups' survivals. Reasonable people may argue about these. Just like in our site, people may argue over group genetic differences and their relevance to modern life etc.

But when you say to be "Judaized" is "sad" is to say being Jewish is sad. Or being black is sad and necessarily inferior. Those are racist/anti-Semitic statements and abhorrent.

In sum, MacDonald's an ass. That's all I have to say.

Posted by: David at March 8, 2003 06:55 PM

Have there been any studies of Scottish evolutionary psychology? What was the genetic effect of the Massacre of Glencoe?

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at March 8, 2003 08:36 PM

oh rich joseph! heard about the book How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It? praps the british empire was just a tool that the scotts used foist their will on the poor english....

Posted by: razib at March 8, 2003 08:52 PM

Damn Brits had it coming...

(Great book. Of course, I'm of scottish ancestry, so I would like it...)

Posted by: Jimbo at March 8, 2003 09:47 PM

Why is it that Steve Sailer, probably the only person who writes for The American Conservative that actually understands evolution (seeing as how Buchanan still thinks the world was created 6000 yrs ago)is writing movie reviews, and yet Derbyshire, who thinks that sociobiology is "just a fad", is writing this MacDonald review? Inappropriate.

. . .Or maybe I'm just the only one who's more interested in seeing a good critique of MacDonald's science (which I'm more unfamiliar with) than I am of his biased historical interpretations (which I am now sufficiently aware of).

Posted by: Jason M. at March 8, 2003 09:47 PM

I have been arguing with Derbyshire in Steve Sailer's discussion group for four years, off and on. I don't value his thought. As for MacDonald's stuff on Judaism, I think that there was for sure an interesting evolutionary event there, but I can't make any sense of most of what he says about it. Since Kevin has graciously aided me in some data gathering, I can only say that I don't mean that in a _bad_ way.
If you want a nice solid neoDarwinian look at the Ashkenazi Jews, one with nice quantitative arguments, you won't have to wait long. One is in preparation.

Posted by: gcochran at March 8, 2003 10:49 PM

i've only read parts of dr. macdonald's first work. i had strong objections to some of his historical generalizations-but you can do that about anything, that's how history is. i find the data he's collected fascinating, but something about the whole body of work just doesn't fit well for me (but i haven't read book 2 & 3-so i don't put much weight in my opinion :)....

one thing that does bother me-sometimes when i read his stuff when he is rebutting his detractors-he makes the same type of accusations of bad faith (ie; derb is pandering to the jews) that he gets himself (he's just an anti-semite who started out with the hypothesis and collected the data later).

Posted by: razib at March 8, 2003 11:16 PM

accusations of bad faith

Pinker decided this was one reason that made it meaningless for him to engage CoC (also touching on what david and godless have said):

"MacDonald has already announced that I will reject his ideas because I am Jewish, so what's the point of replying to them?. . .MacDonald's various theses, even if worthy of scientifically debate individually, collectively add up to a consistently invidious portrayal of Jews, couched in value-laden, disparaging language. It is impossible to avoid the impression that this is not an ordinary scientific hypothesis."

Posted by: Jason M. at March 8, 2003 11:34 PM

I'd also like to point out that MacDonald suffers from the same affliction Oleg does:

They minimize/trivialize accomplishments of Jewish physicists, mathematicians, etc. because either they're Jewish or they acknowledge them, but minimize the "Jewish" aspect of the scientist because he/she probably is secular. (like Einstein).

BUT, they maximize the Jewishness of guys like Trotsky--a militant atheist/Communist who actively rejected his religion and ethnicity (unlike Einstein).

They can't have it both ways, and it's inherently contradictory. Maintaining this cognitive dissonance is a sign to me that they possess an unreasonable dislike of Jews.

Posted by: David at March 9, 2003 11:43 AM

Davd, MacDonald states that he's not trying to do an accouting summation of all Jewish contributions and harmful effects on American society. I think such an accounting would be hard to do because the strands of cause and effect in history are so very complicated.

Derb has a URL at which he's put links to a number of pages of Derb's and MacDonald's comments.

One problem to watch for in these sorts of exchanges is that a strategy that helps increase economic success is not necessarily a strategy that is being selected for by Darwinian forces (though in the past economic success was far more likely to translate into higher reproductive success). Selection for reproductive fitness isn't happening if the group in question is not reproducing as fast as other groups are.

Also, defection from a group can cause a group to shrink in size even while some alleles that cause people to stay in the group are doing very well at getting themselves reproduced. The defectors, as compared to those who stay in the group, could have a lower frequency of some alleles that, for instance, increase a feeling of group affinity and group loyalty.

Posted by: Randall Parker at March 9, 2003 02:25 PM


I agree with Randall. I don’t think MacDonald is trying to have it both ways. He clearly states in his response that he is not tallying the positives/negatives of Jewish influence ledger-style as Derbyshire does. His book, I gather, postulates that Jews engage in specific behaviors to further Jewish interests. I fail to see the anti-semitism in this.

“At the heart of it, MacDonald and his book are anti-Semitic.”

How so? By your line of reasoning, Charles Murray is racist for stating that blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, on average. Could MacDonald have used less inflammatory language in his response to Derbyshire? Yes, but the fact of the matter is that gentile intellectuals are enthralled by Jewish intellectual ability, and have a tendency to give them passes on certain issues because of this (What the heck happened to Joe Sobran anyway?).

Is it possible for us to assay the validity of MacDonald’s work instead of focusing on his politically incorrect language?

Randall wrote:

“Selection for reproductive fitness isn't happening if the group in question is not reproducing as fast as other groups are.”

Isn’t reproductive fitness independent of the rate of reproduction (assuming the rate is non-zero)?

Posted by: RR at March 9, 2003 02:42 PM

"Isn’t reproductive fitness independent of the rate of reproduction (assuming the rate is non-zero)?" -- RR

It's hard to see how selection for a trait is taking place if the trait is not manifesting itself phenotypically or behaviorally, unless it's linked to a trait that is.

" ... blacks are intellectually inferior to whites, on average." -- RR

The phrase "intellectually inferior" seems unjustifiably broader than what has been shown (that as a group they have, on average, a lower IQ). The word "intellectually" seems, for all we know, broader than "IQ," and the word "inferior" seems fraught with broader meaning than the word "lower" as in the term "lower IQ." There is a sense in which the number 5 is lower than but not inferior to the number 6.

Rejection of PC doesn't entail disregard for tact, especially where the more correct terms technically are also the more tactful ones. Having a lower average group IQ is a bitter-enough pill for any group to swallow, without their needing to have terms implying additional opprobrium thrown at them.

Posted by: Unadorned at March 9, 2003 03:41 PM


You are splitting hairs. What difference does it make whether I use the word “inferior” in reference to average black intelligence? Would the following construction make you feel better:

Blacks, on average, are less intelligent than whites.

I don’t understand your problem with the “I” word.

Posted by: at March 9, 2003 04:49 PM

The idea that groups (extended kin) work together to advance the goals of that group is neither a new nor revolutionary idea. Nor does it demean the group.

The idea that one's membership (or perceived membership) in that group (Derb being a "Judaized intellectual" or a "shabbos goy") is somehow "sad" or reminiscent of contracting some disease IS demeaning.

That's my problem with MacDonald.

Posted by: David at March 9, 2003 04:57 PM

"inferior" is a normative judgement. if you think that IQ tests measure anything & are not discriminatory-than it is a statement of fact to say that blacks are on average less intelligent than whites. but when did less intelligent mean you were "inferior"?

an analogy if i may-you can specify a computer program that takes an image of a person's face, and works under the assumption that symmetry is proportional to attractiveness. so with these assumptions in mind, the computer can "objectively" spit out a result: person X more attractive than person Y.

on the other hand-saying that june is uglier than wendy is a judgement that has more bite and conveys human value judgements.

finally-Gene Expressors try to avoid "inferior" and just say different. difference does not imply that human beings exist on a great chain of being after all-their worth measured by their g. sometimes i feel that the critics of Gene Expression actually do feel that population X is inferior to population Y if the mean g for X is lower than Y, ergo, since they don't want one group to be "inferior," they have to assert that g does not exist....

Posted by: razib at March 9, 2003 04:59 PM

RR, I'm sorry -- you're right.

I think I'm a little right too, though. ("Intellect" may, for example, encompass things which different groups may have more equal amounts of -- things other than IQ and "intelligence." Think about it. Think about the word "wisdom," let's say.)

(BTW, I absolutely abhor PC and hope my post wasn't taken as a plea for it in any way, shape, or form. It wasn't so meant.)

Posted by: Unadorned at March 9, 2003 05:10 PM

I just now saw Razib's post, and he's right too. (Now I'll shut up.)

Posted by: Unadorned at March 9, 2003 05:14 PM


I never said that blacks were inferior to whites generally. I said that blacks were, on average, intellectually inferior to whites. Inferior meaning in lower quality or value. You are beginning to sound like one of those "race doesn't exist" drones who pretend that calling race something other than race will end racism. Inferiority is inferiority. Whites are, on average, inferior to those of West African descent in terms of sprinting ability. This does not mean that whites are inferior to blacks in all areas of endeavor.

That said, g does in fact positively correlate with a host of behaviors, as I'm sure you are aware. You folks at Gene Expression may not like to use the word inferior, but I really don't see what difference it makes. Gene Expressors are free to state that blacks are less intelligent, less law abiding, more promiscuous, more violent and less capable of generating wealth than other racial groups but we are not free to assert that these negatives equate to the general inferiority of blacks. Hmmm. A rose by another name perhaps?

Is it possible to think of a group as being, on average, inferior to another group without being racist?

"on the other hand-saying that june is uglier than wendy is a judgement that has more bite and conveys human value judgements."

Making such a remark is impolite, but not necessarily inaccurate. Is it really less offensive to say that wendy is more attractive than june (as compared to using the "U" word), especially when june never gets asked out on dates? What is wrong with making human value judgments? We make such judgments all of the time, regarding friends, mates etc. Why is it so wrong to make the same distinctions among groups? Of course, I would never do such a naughty thing and I would condemn any person who did, but I wonder......

Posted by: RR at March 9, 2003 07:34 PM

"RR"-i'm afraid caesar's wife must be above reproach....

Posted by: razib at March 9, 2003 07:55 PM


Presentation does not change the data, but it does give information about the presenter. MacDonald reveals that it is difficult for him to separate value and data, which is a bad sign for objectivity and kryptonite to a potential audience that sniff their way towards facts with an intuitive process of discretion. We believe words have important shades of meanings (for instance saying someone is Jewish or a "hook-nose" might be taken differently); if you believe otherwise we will just have to agree to disagree.* None of us have read Culture of Critique, and when and if one of us does we will probably post our impressions.

*so please let it go.

Posted by: Jason M. at March 9, 2003 08:01 PM

He clearly states in his response that he is not tallying the positives/negatives of Jewish influence ledger-style as Derbyshire does.

Macdonald (from response):

The dispossession of Europeans is the ultimate defeat — an evolutionary event of catastrophic proportions for people of European descent. Whatever the contributions of Jewish "entrepreneurs, jurists, philanthropists, entertainers, publishers, and legions upon legions of scholars," they could never make up for this cataclysmic loss and for the political instability and chronic ethnic tensions that have been unleashed by the Jewish intellectual and political movements discussed in The Culture of Critique.

Posted by: Jason M. at March 9, 2003 08:38 PM

Derbyshire says that it can be hazardous for a journalist to criticize jews. Derbyshire is a journalist. Biased maybe?

Posted by: Jon Wilkins at March 9, 2003 09:03 PM

Superior/inferior is (as Razib says) a pair of complementary normative categories. These categories exist because people have values which arise from desires and fears. The desires and fears that people have are more or less universal. The speech given by shylock where he expresses that he bleeds red when pricked and likes to laugh and so on, is quite often invoked (by leftists) to express this idea of sameness of desire and fear among humans. Because of this universality of desire it turns out that humans everywhere have similar values. Everywhere you go being called stupid is an insult, and most everyone wants a lot of money and a big house (who would say no to that?). This is where the universality ends though. Traits such as high intelligence are *not* universally shared accross populations, hence different populations can satisfy universal material desires to different degrees. IF you took a country where the population lived in big houses and another country where the population lived in shantytowns and asked why the difference existed you might answer (in a moment of delicious un-PC-ness) that the people in the country with big houses were *superior* to the people in the country with slums. By this you would be clearly implying that the the people in Big House Land had a preponderance of universally valued traits such as intelligence and industry. Indeed what was said will have had a reasonably fixed meaning *much like factual statements do*.

Of course I have not talked about the emotional aspect of normative statements. Often saying that you are superior is considered a challenge or a provokation whether it is true or not. A man standing up in a bar announcing that he is superior is presumably looking for a fight. On the other hand I believe that it is quite fair to use normative statements defensively. If someone insists that you are equal or inferior to him and you believe otherwise, then I believe that it is quite just to say that you believe that you are superior. When white people are accused of causing all the sufferings of black people (and whoever else) I think it is fair for white people to counter by stating that the comparitive sufferings of black people are due to their inferiority.

Posted by: at March 9, 2003 09:35 PM

Godless, no we do not condemn all gentiles for slavery. Females are exempt from the criticism because they also are victims of the white patriarchy. I do wonder though whether the radical feminists would hold that Mary Chestnut was an oppressor or oppressee. They'd probably say both but I'm speculating.

Whether some group has had effects that are on-balance malign depends heavily on one's values and also on one's esthetics. One first has to determine all the effects and then to decide on the importance of said effects.

MacDonald is bound to attract a great deal of criticism because he's attempting to catalog the detrimental (at least by the values of some people) effects of one prominent group that has vocal defenders and a history of victimization that it can point to (a pretty horrible history at a number of points) to elicit sympathy. Whereas it is far easier and safer to, say, catalog the history of detrimental effects of White American Old South males in history. So in a way his critics are at least not being consistent.

I personally think that human failures and damaging ideas and the reasons for them get too little attention. So there's something to be said for what he's doing even if one doesn't share all his values or even all his historical interpretations of why various things happened.

Posted by: Randall Parker at March 9, 2003 11:25 PM

i agree with randall-i praise the attempt. might quibble with the execution of it-but i agree that jews are in a good position to swat down criticism-the neocons do a good job on certain issues. on the other hand, jew-baiting seems to be a passtime for a lot of groups-i've seen liberal anti-semitism in person and some of the 'peace rallies' become anti-jewish-capitalist rallies real quick. i don't know if it is a chick or egg sort of thing though-do jews react because of jew-baiting, or did jew-baiting come about because of jewsish behavior?

Posted by: razib at March 9, 2003 11:55 PM

After all, do we condemn *all* white gentiles because of slavery, fascism, the murderous brand of imperialism, and so on?

Susan Sontag and Noel Ignatiev ring any bells?

I would hope not...but those had intellectual movements behind them too, and the multi-cultists who hold whites culpable *as a group* for such things have (IMO) a blinkered picture of things

Do you agree that:
(a) in general, Jews work towards Jewish interests and see nothing wrong with this
(b) in general, Jews are hostile toward the idea of European Americans working for the ethnic interests of European Americans; in the case of the Middle East, even the suggestion that just plain "American" interests should come first evokes cries of "anti-Semitism", and in the case of journalists, a quick exit from public life (e.g., Sobran).

It's not about "culpability," it's about recognizing facts.

Jews work to advance their own interests. European Americans should be working to advance their own interests, but as it stands today, they have been conditioned (primarily via Jewish cultural influence) to abhor this very idea.

Similarly, MacDonald is tap-tap-tapping away on a keyboard that exists in large part because of the contributions of Jewish scientists and engineers...

Of course, we wouldn't be having this discussion without fine Jewish scientists like Shockley, and Bardeen, and Brattain. Incidentally, the QWERTY keyboard layout comes from Christopher Latham Sholes, another obvious Hebrew.

"Among high-tech rich guys, there are lots of Jews [e.g., Michael Dell
and Larry Ellison in the top 6], but, possibly, a slightly lower
percentage than in say the Forbes 400, where, I've read, the Jewish
proportion tends to run 20%-25%. By far the largest ethnic group on
the list appears to be WASPs: for example, in the top 8 there are
Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Gordon Moore, Ted Waitt, and William Hewlett.
Back in 1983 Tom Wolfe wrote a long article about Silicon Valley and
one of his main points was the Midwestern small town, Protestant,
middle class origins of so many hotshots in the early decades of
Silicon Valley


heheheheh...I think it's fundamentally a bunch of player-hating.

hehehehehe...yeah you really got it all figured out.

Posted by: jdt at March 10, 2003 02:22 AM

You guys know that Arthur Jensen is jew too??


"Miele includes interesting details that I hadn't known, such as that Jensen's father was Danish and his mother Polish Jewish. "Early on," Miele notes, "Jensen noted how the dour demeanor of his Danish relatives contrasted with the fun-loving atmosphere of his mother's side of the family." Contrary to immigration enthusiast wishful thinking, intermarriage makes people not less but more aware of human differences.

Even Chris Brand, the noted IQ researcher and historian of psychology, says that he hadn’t known Jensen's ethnic background before. Brand has pointed out to me that Jensen could have cited it to counter the scurrilous libel that only a raving Hitlerite could be interested in race and IQ. Yet Jensen never has - presumably because he thinks (correctly) that it is irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of his scientific theories."

Posted by: J. Ascańo at March 10, 2003 04:01 PM