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March 08, 2003



Colby Cosh talks Turkey

Colby "Evil" Cosh speaks the truth when it comes to Turkey. I was in denial too long. Perhaps we need the Turks & Hinduvata types as our allies against Islamic terrorism, but we should never forget what they truly are....

The Europeans might be two-faced dweebs, but there's a reason they want to keep the EU a "Christian Club"-30 or 40 million believing Muslims flooding their cities and breeding like rats.

Posted by razib at 03:04 PM | | TrackBack


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 | | TrackBack


Slavs the true "Aryans"? Holy untermensch!

I was pointed to this article over at Stanford that indicates Slavs are the closest to proto-Indo-European stock. Don't tell the Germans.... The article is titled Eurasian Heartland: A continental perspective on Y chromosome diversity, Spencer Wells shows up. It's a few years old & I think I might have posted a link before, but pretty wide-ranging & worth a second read (long download). The whole site over at Stanford that archives this sort of genetics work is worth a read & browse.

Also, someone in Toronto is trying to look up a picture of me as a little kid. Email me at razib-at-gnxp.com and I'll send you my 3 year old pic. I was cute if that's what you're wondering about....

Posted by razib at 01:16 AM | | TrackBack

March 07, 2003



Oh so golden....

The New York Times reviews a new book-On Blondes. Nice title....

Posted by razib at 11:52 PM | | TrackBack

March 06, 2003



Who are you hanging out with now & 6 degrees of Gene Expression

A week ago Charles Murtaugh linked to this New Scientist article where "radical feminist" Betsy Hartmann expresses the opinion that the Green/Environmentalist movement in America has racist associations. A few days ago, Reason magazine's Ron Bailey also used this article to hit the Left over the head with charges of racism. And today, I see that Vdare has noticed Charles' blog-entry and commented on it (though the spin is a bit different).

So what gives here? Are environmentalists racist? Betsy Hartmann mentions the University of Imbler in Imbler in her interview as the place where she started to make a connection between environmentalism and "racism." The UofO is my alma mater, and yes, it is pretty white. If you saw a black student on campus, there was a 50/50 chance that the person was an athlete. There was a large Asian & Jewish community, but these aren't the type of minorities that give one rock-solid credentials when it comes to being attacked for being "lily white." Eugene, and the campus area, is a hot-bed of Leftist politics. Most of the kids of course will move onto professional careers and few will continue the activism after college-it happens to be the "cool" thing to do and a way to meet people on a campus where frats & sororities aren't that cool and religion isn't very strong. Though I have to say that many of the people made stupid comments about race-it tended to be more along the lines of "Hey, so you must be more connected to the earth Razib, since you are Hindu" (I am brown, ergo, I am Hindu). A friend of mine once told me that a Native American professor recruited male grad students to his department that were of his ethnicity by telling them that the "white chicks really dig non-white guys." The nativism that one finds in Eugene is more along the lines of "don't Californicate Oregon" than anything else-there simply aren't enough non-whites for familiarity to breed distrust or contempt.

Betsy Hartmann notes:


It's more than that. There is an academic journal called Population and Environment, published by Kluwer, which is edited by Kevin MacDonald, an evolutionary psychologist who writes about a Jewish plot to liberalise immigration policies. In 1999, MacDonald appeared in court in Britain to defend the historian and holocaust denier David Irving. The journal's advisory editorial board includes famous environmental scientists such as Paul Ehrlich, who wrote The Population Bomb, Pimental again, and Vaclav Smil, a professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada. Sitting beside them on the board is J. Philippe Rushton, a psychology professor from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, who has a theory about how black people have small brains, low IQ, large sex organs and high aggression. What are environmental scholars doing getting mixed up with these kinds of people?

This is a classic Leftist tactic, smearing by association. What if it was found out that the president of NOW was behind Dr. Rushton in the supermarket, and didn't switch to the next lane even if it wasn't express checkout? Just because you agree with person Y on issue A doesn't mean that you agree with person Y on issues B, C, D, & E. Trying to connect Ehrlich is especially ignorant, the man just (and foolishly to my mind) recently challenged evolutionary psychology, so it is highly dubious that he is a race realist or believer in a "group evolutionary strategy" a la Rushton or MacDonald respectively. Ron Bailey in Reason says in a similar manner:

Poor Paul. All those awful, awful people! Indeed, a crisis. Curious that Ehrlich would pick Delhi to illustrate urban crowding. He could just as easily have picked New York City or London. That creepy passage has a lot in common with the yellow peril narratives from the last century.

Well Ron, I don't know about Delhi, but I've been to Dhaka, and even though it has about the same population as New York City, I can tell you that it's a lot different than any American city. As libertarians love to point out-"overpopulation" exists in a context, and 1970s Delhi was probably overpopulated by many criteria, while dense First World cities were not. I've also read Population Bomb and its sequel, and though I disagree with a lot of Ehrlich's predictions (well, he was wrong on a lot of things-that's plain fact), I remember he was careful to be as PC as possible, he for instance stated that high birthrates in Muslim countries have nothing to do with Islam, but all to do with the cultures in question [1]. This sort of pattern is common, and he even cautioned against lifeboat style analogies getting out of hand in both books.

I'm sure Charles was just trying to poke fun at the Left's tendency to smear (Dr. Murtaugh is becoming a regular molecular biologist Mickey Kaus from what I can tell). But the Right (as some have noted) has started to pick up some of the tendencies of the Left. This TechCentralStation article trying to connect environmentalists to the Nazi regime is probably the funniest and most bizarre I've seen. Yes, William Darre & the blood & soil ideology was romanticist as much of the modern Green movement is-but the Nationalist Socialists also built the autobahn and the Volkswagen, no Luddites they. Environmentalism in the United States has many origins-some of the more human-centered ideas come from Teddy Roosevelt, who is pre-Nazi from what I can recall. To love nature was not a Nazi innovation, it is a human tendency that exhibits itself to varying degrees in different cultures, times and places. Certainly, I agree that the "Deep Ecology" movement and the Nazi ideology share a contempt for humanity that is disturbing, but I see no genetic relationship between the two despite the convergent evolution, and as James Fulford points out-Deep Ecology proponents have a contempt for humanity as a whole (see Kim Stanley Robinson's series on Mars to see the logical extension of Deep Ecology to space where the Reds want Mars to remain as it is-lifeless).

There are environmentalists who are friendly to ideas that the Left considers "racist." Hell, most people don't know that Charles Lindbergh, after his expulsion from polite society due to anti-Semitism and pro-German statements during World War II became involved in the environmental movement. Garrett Harden, the biologist that termed the "Tragedy of the Commons" is probably "racist" by Betsy Hartmann's definition.

Why do I keep putting "racist" and "racism" in quotes? A few years ago Stanford University did a poll which showed that many "minority students" (at Stanford that means black, Latino and Native American) thought environmentalism was a "racist" movement. Nick Thompson (now of Washington Monthly) wrote a whole senior thesis on this issue. As a Left-Liberal, he really didn't come up with anything about how to combat charges of racism (background, the Sierra Club had a tussle over immigration). He gives some general platitudes about sensitivity and what not-but even after exchanging some emails, I didn't get much more out of Nick. I think it is empirically obvious that reducing immigration would reduce the strain on the American environment. I think it is clear that many new immigrant groups do not appreciate the environment in the same way that "natives" (quite often WASPs) do.

We don't need recourse to racialist theories on this-when you come from a Third World nation where poverty is endemic, the wide open spaces are less important than your next meal, and it might take a generation or two (or three) to change your values. My parents are an example of this-they have no environmental awareness, not that they are anti-environmental like some Republicans, but they look at suburban sprawl and fatty foods as the "good life." And I can only imagine how the less affluent Latinos view this country. It seems reasonable that there will be some generational latency in the transmission of the conservationist ethic to most children of immigrants from Third World nations.

Of course, I am taking a classic libertarian view of this and asserting that economic conditions and their influence over the decades changes one's perception of the world and is the prime determinant. Culture also matters. India has a long history of appreciation of nature, almost certainly a product of the monistic strain of Hindu thought that imbues nature with sacredness. Note the controversy when the actor Salman Khan was caught illegally hunting endangered animals (is it a surprise that his last name is Khan?). The Bishnoi people of India zealously protect local animals. Also, though most of the world knows that Hindus do not eat cows, I have read of incidents where farmers are careful to only scare away birds eating their harvest, for they don't wish to kill them [2]. Now, as a contrast, take China, where they have a joke that the reason that Adam & Eve couldn't be Chinese is that they would have eaten the snake. Granted, China has a long tradition of landscape painting and some of the same pro-nature religious sentiments (the Taoists and some of the folk gods) as the Indians. But nevertheless, I think if China & India had the exact same GDP at First World levels, India would be much quicker to set aside land as protected spaces just for the sake of nature itself. Note that the Chinese (actually, the affluent Taiwanese) are responsible for the near extinction of the Indian tiger because of the medicine trade, and the government of India took proactive steps via "Project Tiger" to set-aside lands and manage and patrol parklands. Remember, this is India, one of the greatest armpits of the world-these aren't affluent people who have time consider the implications of sprawl, yet nature is sacred still (and no, I'm not presenting a utopian view of India, deforestation and what not are problems-but plunder of the environment can be combated using the indigenous predispositions in a way that is more difficult in monotheistic cultures where dominion over spiritless nature is established). I am not implying that Indians are naturally nature lovers and that Chinese are capricious in their use of resources, but there are other factors at play besides economics-and we should remember that [3].

My point? Some minority groups might be less predisposed to value nature for nature in and of itself. Affluence might not lead to the same levels of appreciation of nature for a variety of reasons-despite what Ron Bailey and the Libertarians think (and I count myself as one of them, I have hopes that affluence will do some of the work-but we shouldn't use it as the smoking gun explanation that we tend to). Additionally, every American does use many resources and immigration is probably contributing to this. If you do think that the environment is straining on the edge, and that nature is suffering, there might very well be non-racial reasons to still reduce immigration, or even prevent the migration of certain racial/ethnic groups into this country [4].

So this brings me to my another point-we should be careful to always wonder, "So is it good for the coloreds?" The zero-population movement that wants to shut down the immigration flow from the Third World can be thought to be racist if viewed through this lens, there would be fewer Asians and Latinos, and perhaps our cities would be less crowded and urban sprawl less extensive. They don't want to end immigration necessarily because of race, though it tends to correlate with the factors that they want to control. Yes, there are others who join the movement for racial reasons, but to have allies of convenience is a human tendency (remember Dworkin's radical feminists joining up with the Moral Majority to oppose porn?).

Similarly, the Right has a habit of using the "is it good for the coloreds?" card too, even though in the end, that is generally not the true concern. Examples? Libertarian David Boaz (and others) note that Social Security screws over blacks because they die sooner-that's an argument against Social Security and more flexible privatized solutions. But what if blacks lived longer, would the libertarians switch their tune? Of course not, they care about other principles, they just know that to appeal to the Left with its concern for the colored and obsession with proportionality and delusion of sameness that the race card will work. Similarly, the Bush administration argues against the "Death Tax" because millionaire blacks will benefit, giving him moral cover. But of course, it screws over most blacks since they have much lower asset levels than whites. Bush doesn't really care abut millionaire blacks per se, it's just a good argument against white liberals that are wowed by the specter of doing good for the colored.

In the end, many of the arguments using racial reasons for conservative ends are simply meant to soften liberals-the principles behind them are general race blind. Similarly, I've heard of some guns-rights activists talking about how the Nazi regime confiscated guns, ergo the handgun control movement is Nazi. I'm against most forms of gun control, but the handgun control movement is as Nazi as the modern environmental movement. I might disagree with them, but the world will not end if you restrict some elements of the right to bear arms-and to the gas chambers NRA members will not go.

Now, to end, I'll admit I've used the "but it's good for colored" argument or the reverse, "but it's bad for colored" before. To some extent, I use it as a tactic, and I know it. In the end, I don't care about colored, or whitey, or whatever. My values revolve around liberty and personal autonomy, which I see most well defined in the Western cultural complex. I also go that route when liberals to try and smear Gene Expression through Nazi association (and some cultural conservatives like James Bennett), bringing up the Maggie Sanger card (her eugenic views) and utopian-Sweden's rather recent history with sterilization of "mental defectives." Those who live in glass houses....

Finally, to six degrees of Gene Expression, follow this link. This is why I associate myself with the Right more than the Left-the predeliction to witch-hunt might be most closely identified with McCarthy today, but the Left has a sizeable number of individuals that do it as a matter of course. Many people that probably have never even read Gene Expression are accused of being "Gene Expressors" by the individual that you see highlighted in the link. Though the Christian Reconstructionist movement on the Right is pound-for-pound far scarier, they are so marginal and insignificant in my mind that the more dilute intolerance on the Left that is spread out through much of that end of the political spectrum makes me wretch. I can't associate myself with people that think in such a manner-professional posers they.

We on the Right (including myself) should be careful to use the poser Left's rusty blades, because we might cut ourselves and get really wacked out....

[1] To separate Islam & the cultures that it resides in is difficult. Also, Islam's acceptance of divorce, widow remarriage and polygamy probably do lead to a higher birthrates all variables being equal compared to other traditionalist cultures like Hinduism. Nevertheless, Ehrlich is aware of PC concerns and tries to placate, no Rushton is he.

[2] Two points. The ban on cow killing might have important economic underpinnings-for Hindus do use milk & manure copiously. Also, when I was a small child, we had friends from Orissa in India who were Hindus, and one day, a mouse ran across their living room floor. We found out that the man of the house had been feeding them and just couldn't bring himself to kill them. My father found this totally inexplicable, but my mother explained that was part of the Hindu soft-heart toward animals. My father responded that he wished Hindus showed as much mercy to Muslims as they did cows and rocks (yes, Hindus still revere Holy Rocks and have beaten Muslims who sat on them to take a rest, this is one of the funny anecdotes my father likes to recount about his uncle who went to work in West Bengal before partition-of course, if I was an idolater I might respond that at least we don't make a Hajj and run around one as one of the major tenets our of heathen faith).

[3] I think that the deep philosophical differences between India & China is part of the reason that the latter is more open to biotechnology and "progress" as a whole-while many Indians have connections with the organic food movement.

[4] Similarly, many feminists might be more friendly to immigrants from Thailand than Saudi Arabia, not because they are more racist against Saudis.

Posted by razib at 08:47 PM | | TrackBack


Jews just got lucky?

Nick Wade indicates that genetic drift, not selective pressures might have resulted in the high rates of lysosomal diseases among Ashkenazi Jews. Lots of thoughts can come out of this, but I'll let readers weigh in.... (thanks to Steve Sailer for the link, you might want to read Greg Cochran's essay on overclocking too).

Update: From the message board (and this does tend to make sense to me-Wade's article was a little garbled it seems)-


Risch doesn't make a lot of sense. One of the key arguments is that high frequencies of _multiple_ mutations of the same gene or worse yet multiple mutations in each of a number of metabolically related genes, is incredibly unlikely. But that has happened: there are three overly common Tay-Sachs mutations among the Ashkenazi, two overly commom Gaucher mutations, three Niemann-Pick mutations of roughly equal frequency, two elevated mucolipidosis type IV mutations. Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, and Niemann-Pick all invovle sphingolipd degradation, and the sphingolipids that pile up in mutant homozygotes (and are presumably mildly elevated in heterozygotes) are nerve growth factors.

Boas calculated that the probability of the Gaucher mutation distribution alone is less than 1 in 500: Risch doesn't address this at all.

I have no idea what his point is in comparing geographic distributions of lysosomal- and non-lysosomal mutations, considering that many or most of the non-lysosomal mutations have _also_ been made common by selection. CF has, almost certainly. There's evidence that strong selection is occuring at the BRCA1 locus (again two mutations). Slatkin has said that there must have been selection elevating the factor XI clotting disorder mutations ( again two different mutations). The connextin-26 deafness mutation has clearly been favored by natural selction in many populations, probably as a disease defense.

Posted by razib at 05:44 PM | | TrackBack


Affirmative Action (a different kind)

This sound familiar? A lot of people who are against racial affirmative action tend to support class-based modes, well, think again....


British universities

Affirmative action, negative reaction

Mar 6th 2003
From The Economist print edition

The wrong way to go about getting more poor youngsters into universities

HELL hath no fury like a parent who has struggled to get its child decent schooling only to be faced with a government policy specifically designed to award the child's university place to somebody else. That's why affirmative action led to a decade of rioting in India in the 1980s; why after years of argument California abandoned it in 1996; and why America's Supreme Court may rule it unconstitutional next month. Now the British government is putting its finger into the fire.

What caste is to India and race is to America, class is to Britain. The government is concerned that, while 48% of the children of the top three social classes go to university, only 18% of the offspring of the bottom three do. In order to try to change this, it is giving universities a “postcode premium” on its grants of 5% (rising to 20% next year) for each student from a poor area, and earlier this year it announced plans to set up an “access regulator” to ensure that universities admit plenty of underprivileged children. On March 3rd, Margaret Hodge, the minister for higher education, said that the government was planning to set a national target for the proportion of working-class children which universities should admit. Universities already have individual targets (called “benchmarks”); nevertheless, Ms Hodge was swiftly slapped down by her boss, the education secretary, for this is a sensitive issue. Newspaper columnists mostly fall into the class of cross parents, so nothing, aside from war, is generating so much noise right now.

There are two reasons for trying to get universities to take more poor youngsters, one good, one bad. The bad reason—which Ms Hodge's enthusiasm for quotas gestures towards—is to find a quick fix for deeper social problems. Discriminating against clever, rich students to give thicker, poorer ones a leg-up is unfair and likely to damage higher education without improving society.

The good reason is to try to get more bright people to university. It seems quite likely that some clever, poor children are not getting as good a higher education as they should. Bristol, the university at the centre of the storm, says that, in their final exam, state-school pupils tend to outperform private-school pupils with equivalent A levels, which suggests that thicker private-school pupils are getting through the admissions system. It would not be surprising. A levels were never a brilliant method for screening people, and grade inflation has made them worse, because too many pupils now get excellent results. This year Bristol got 500 applications from pupils with straight As for the 47 places in its English department.

Don't shoot the universities

If the government's aim is to find out which children are clever, and which have been crammed, then setting up quotas or discriminating against people on the basis of their postcode is not the way to go about it. A better screening system is needed (see article).

But this is not the real answer to the problem of poor pupils' underperformance. Low working-class participation in higher education is not, primarily, the universities' fault. They have become the scapegoat for state schools' failings. But sorting out schools is not something that can be done quickly. Starting in the anti-elitist 1960s it took two decades to get rid of a selective secondary system which, despite its faults, gave poor, clever children a real chance. It will take longer than that to rebuild one.

Posted by razib at 02:23 PM | | TrackBack

March 05, 2003



Superman!(?)

Slate is starting a series titled Superman: The quest to build better people [1]. Dave Plotz starts out with vision.

[1] The use of the term "better" is a bit audacious, but oh well, I prefer different-or the clinical euphamism "enhanced." But even "defects" such as color-blindness are not always defects, I remember reading that sometimes colorblind sharp-shooters are preferred as they can detect motion better.

Posted by razib at 05:13 PM | | TrackBack


Religion-comments & observations

Ah, I'm sure my religious readers are excited that I, the atheist, am going to comment on their faith, an experience that I have never directly experienced [1]. First, I am prompted by some statements that were asserted in the Frontpage Symposium:


Here is the difference between Christian and Muslim extremism: Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a terrorist. He killed no one and called for no killing. In response, eight people were killed and 90 hurt in riots in India, and an Iranian official called for Falwell’s death. All involved invoked Islam.

I agree that Christian fundamentalists in the West are not violent [2]. But, the example of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda (thanks to Head Heeb for the link), the attacks on African religion practioners in Brazil & Catholics in Central America by Evangelicals and assualts on Buddhist relics & temples by Fundamentalists in Korea attest to the fact that the bite has not been totally taken out of Old-Time-Religion. The Reformation, the Renaissance and Enlightenment have tamed Christianity. But when introduced to a new culture, Christianity is often stripped of its Western cultural accretions to make it more acceptable and compatible with indigenous cultural traditions, which may result in the awakening of ancient atavistic ferocity in the faith [3].

Charles Murtaugh comments on religion as well. I would say to his statements about liberal misunderstandings of religion-we atheists often wonder at this idea that the society and media is irreligious when there are National Prayer Breakfasts, In God We Trust on coins, and Churches on every corner. The key I think though is that unbelievers tend to view all religion as irrational and beneath consideration-while liberals with the least dash of religion will wink and accept "spirituality" and wish-washy mainline Christianity as acceptable manifestations of faith. America is a pro-religious society, at least judging from the myriad covers on Newsweek and Time about how many of us believe in angels and how science is proving the existence of God. Old-style unbelief is just not fashionable. Wendy Kaminer has addressed American society's attitude toward atheism in her essay The Last Taboo. Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell can agree on one thing-that liberal Christianity and evolutionary theism are incoherent and untenable.

That being said, the attitude toward exclusivist Old-Time-Religion is unfavorable. This explains the disproportionate attention paid to elite oriented numerically marginal religions such as Zen Buddhism or the New Age movement [4]. When Americans of a broad-minded bent focus on Islam, they look to elite Sufis, and try to marginalize the vibrant if scary Salafi & Islamist Reformist movements as outside the mainstream of the faith. The division is between those who think religion is good, rather than a particular religion is good. Remember how George W. Bush was attacked for stating that Jews go to hell because they don't believe in Jesus? This is not a controversial statement in the light of an ancient (and generally dominant-remember Pelagius?) thread of Christian thought-the ideas among modernist Christians that all faiths lead to Christ is the one that deviates from the historical norm [5].

The theology and worldview of nearly half of America's Christians is being marginalized by the "mainstrem" as "intolerant" and beyond the pale of respectable. This is factually true, I don't think liberals should dispute this. But this is not resulting in an atheist America-but rather a fuzzy, spiritualist and firmly irrationalist (from my viewpoint at least) nation under many gods.

Now, as for Charles' last remark about his fear of irreligious conservatives-what, like me? What do you have to fear Charles? :) What type of neighborhood would you want to settle in? One in the inner city of Detroit that still had a vibrant black church community, or one in the suburbs of Portland where Unitarian Republicans were the norm? (Bob Packwood, William Cohen and Nancy Johnson are examples of Unitarian Republicans-and we all know that Unitarianism is the closest you get to godlessness under Church Steeples) Yes, I am throwing up a straw-man, but self-identified atheists, of what-ever-political-stripe are not the nihilists & evildoers that most Americans think we are.

[1] Though I've been a self-aware atheist since the age of 8, before that point I can confidently say that God(s) had little meaning or importance to my conception of the universe. In fact, I remember thinking in a primitive fashion that God was the Ground of Being when I was 5 or so, but didn't really elaborate or consider a more anthropomoprhic or personalized role for the deity....

[2] A little terminology, from what I know, the terms "Born Again," "Evangelical" and "Fundamentalist" have different meanings in the American context. Very roughly, each is a subset of the preceding, though there are exceptions to this. In other words, though 40% of Americans may identify as "Born Agan," only 25% may identify as "Evangelical" and 10% as "Fundamentalist." The numbers change, but their general magnitude is on this order. Jerry Falwell is a Fundamentalist-he looks to scripture as the final authority. He is a literalist and theological conservative. But not all Evangelicals are literalists or theological conservatives. Jimmy Carter for instance is both Born-Again and Evangelical, but not a Fundamentalist (and he left the Southern Baptist faith because he felt that it was veering too close to that branch of American Christianity). Members of The American Scientific Affiliation (such as Francis Collins) are Evangeicals, but generally not Fundamentalists, and take a strong stand against Young Earth Creationism. Of a different stripe alltogether is the Charismatic movement, which Pat Robertson is associated with. Generally conservative, they emphasis the Holy Ghost but do not place as much importance on scriputural study & reading as Fundamentalists.

[3] I think though a compelling argument can be made that modern Christians are less prone to organized acts of violence against other faiths than Muslims, at least by the examples of Nigeria, Sudan or Uganda. In the last case, Idi Amin, a member of the small Muslim minority, banned Judaism, expelled the Asians and promoted Islam. In Nigeria and Sudan, Christians are a non-trivial minority (in Nigeria nearly half the population) but tend to be targets for persecution and pogroms in Muslim dominated areas that have traditionally been temporally ascendent.

[4] Though New Age beliefs do permeate much of non-Fundamentalist America, in particular, about 25% of Americans assent to belief in reincarnation.

[5] Funny anecdote-a friend went to a wedding that was presided by an Episcopal Priest, the bride's father in fact. He found out that my friend was from Alaska, she, a red-headed girl of Irish extraction. He asked her, "What tribe are you from? What is your religious tradition? What gods do you worship?" He explained that he'd learned a lot about indigenous Native American beliefs in divinity school.

Posted by razib at 11:52 AM | | TrackBack


G.I. Joe learning from the past?

This Washington Monthly article by Nick Confessore is pretty good at pointing out the problems with the way our military is organized. In particular, he notes that units don't have cohesion because they are mixed & matched constantly, and therefore are an assemblage of strangers. But I found this part interesting:


Macgregor's book, Breaking the Phalanx, recommends replacing divisions and brigades with 5,000-man formations designed to deploy quickly and fight as a module. Instead of today's branch-pure units, which must be assembled, like Legos, into a given formation, you'd have a range of set formations designed and trained to field certain capabilities rather than specific troop types.

A Roman legion had about 5,000 troops, about 5 cohorts of a thousand each. They developed group solidarity by fighting under their own Eagle Standard and revered their decades long history and expected to serve out their time in that unit [1]. Funny how history repeats itself.

[1] Periods of the Roman Empire were dominated by a few geographically clustered groups of legions. For instance, early in the Empire the legions of the Rhine were very important, partially because of their connection to members of the Julio-Claudian family (Drusus, his son Germanicus). Later, the legions of Syria conquered the Empire for Septimius Severus. But finally, the legions of the Danubian era helped throw up the emperors that bridged the classical and dark age world....

Posted by razib at 01:02 AM | | TrackBack

March 04, 2003



Islam Symposium II

Part II of the Islam Symposium over at Front Page is kind of funny. It seems the Muslim participants simply won't address the issue of individual rights & responsibilites in the Muslim world. I also find the attacks on Warraq a bit personal, and can't but help thinking that the fact he is a vocal secularist is part of the reason. But again, the two Muslims don't seem to represent the liberal wing of modern Islamic thinking-so the "dialogue" is kind of retarded.

Posted by razib at 11:26 PM | | TrackBack


Back from Boston

Well, returned from my interview. Mostly "fit" questions. So, I probably flunked because of my lousy personality;).

I notice that Beyonce Knowles is now considered "hefty," and I'm supposed to stand up for my mixed sistahs. Clearly, I wish that all American women were as overweight as Ms. Knowles.

One observation. I've noticed in repeated flights across the country, that the major airports in the Midwest and Northeast are employing large numbers of Ethiopian/Eritrean immigrants in the shops. Clearly the racist American society isn't willing to give blacks a chance.....erm....oh well.

Posted by david at 01:00 PM | | TrackBack


Reality Check On Turkey

Chris Hitchens reminds everyone that Turkey is an ally we might not want to have. Despite its status as an democracy of Muslims, rather than an Islamic democracy, to my eye it resembles the post-World War II autocracies of Greece & Spain more than a liberal nation-state. But the key against their inclusion in the collective of civilized nations is their denial of the Armenian genocide. I don't not think that the Turks are obligated to apologize en masse for an act committed by a very different government and polity (the Young Turks I believe)-and I find the argument that the Armenians were rebellious and seditious plausible-but denying that a mass slaughter occurred of the ancient community of Armenians in eastern Anatolia systematically organized by the Turkish government of the day seems empirically indefensable [1]. Denial is the first stage on the way to liberalism-but they have a long way to go.

Hitchens also has some good stuff on their denial of the existance of Kurds-until recently termed "Mountain Turks."

[1] The Armenian "millet" was probably not particularly loyal to the Muslim Turkish state at this point in history, and wanted its independence just like the Greeks and south Slavic peoples. On the other hand, the mass slaughter that occurred seems disproportionate a response. Nevertheless, the past is the past, but a denial of the past means that we can never forgive & forget.

Posted by razib at 12:27 PM | | TrackBack

March 03, 2003



New message board/forum

After reading Joel Spolsky's rant on message board UI problems I've kicked into overdrive and have set up a subdomain where readers of GNXP can sound off. The current board is too Byzantine and I barely check it to be honest. I'll be giving accounts to regular readers and posters (you know who you are), e-mail me at newusers -at- gnxp.com the username & password you want and who you are. After I have enough accounts where I think it'll be busy enough, I'll post the new subdomain and put up links (I'm thinking of removing the trackback link and putting the form link there).

Posted by razib at 11:59 PM | | TrackBack


Correlation vs. Causality

Just wanted to do a quick rant on the difference between correlation and causality. This difference is important in many things, including studies of people. The Age published an article that Obese Men Eat Up Their IQ Points. This article was written in London for an Australian audience, but describes a study performed at the University of Boston. Before we look at this article, let's talk about some basics.

Correlation is the mathematical relationship between two things which are measured. It is given as a value between 0 and 1. A correlation of 0 means the two things are unrelated; given the first value, there is no way to predict the second. A correlation of 1 means the two things are completely related, the first thing always predicts the second. As an example, let's say you measure the heights and weights of a group of people. These have a high correlation, somewhere around .8; height is a good predictor of weight, and vice-versa. Now say you took the same group and measured eye color. There is a low correlation between eye color and height, pretty close to 0. They are basically independent, knowing one doesn't tell you anything about the other.

Causality is also a relationship between two things, but it is not mathematical, it is physical (or philosophical). Something causes something else if there is a chain of events between the first thing and the second thing, each of which causes the next thing in the chain to happen.  Causality implies timing; the first thing happens, and then later the second thing happens as a result.  We say the first thing is the cause, and the second thing is the effect. Note that unlike correlation, the relationship is unsymmetrical.

People get these two relationships mixed up, and it causes incorrect conclusions to be drawn. For example, we noted a high correlation between height and weight. Does this mean height causes weight? Of course not. On the other hand, there is a high correlation between smoking and getting lung cancer. Does this mean smoking causes lung cancer? NO! It turns out smoking does cause lung cancer, but you couldn't draw that conclusion purely from the fact that they have a high correlation.

Now let's take a look at this article. Consider the final paragraph:

"When given cognitive function tests involving logic, verbal fluency and recall, obese men achieved scores as much as 23 per cent below those of non-obese men, even after taking into account factors such as educational level, occupation and blood pressure."

So, there is a high correlation between cognitive function and obesity. Does this allow us to conclude obesity causes low cognitive function? NO! How about in the other direction, can we conclude that low cognitive function causes obesity? NO again! Either could be true, but neither follows logically. The headline is clearly false.

There is another problem in the article. It uses words like decline and reduce, which imply a change in the measured cognitive function in the same individuals. But the study doesn't appear to have measured the same people over time, it appears to have measured different people at the same time. This is a really serious logic error. In fact, most studies have found that people's IQs don't really change from about age 5 onward. Given that, you could actually conclude a reverse causality, perhaps the headline should have read "Less Intelligent Men at Risk of Obesity".


Hello to all GNXP visitors - I'm Ole, and I've been graciously invited to make occasional posts.  I'm interested in the two most important human characteristics: gender and intelligence.  (I stay away from race...)  I'm writing a book called Unnatural Selection, you may find out more about it (and me) here.

Posted by ole at 10:16 PM | | TrackBack


Islam-Peace or Submission?

Frontpage Magazine has a symposium on the nature of Islam up. Two of the participants that sound the call for those who caution that Islam is not a religion of peace, Robert Spencer & Ibn Warraq, have books (see here and here) that I have read-that if not balanced, present a view of Islam that is more well studied than the screeds that one sees coming out of the Christian Right (and a reality check on the soft-tinted stuff that Karen Armstrong throws out there). The two Muslims tend to be a little out of control in my opinion-especially the CAIR representative [1]. They remind me of Creationists and Blank Slaters in their debating style. They should have found some moderate or liberal Muslim. Of course, I will be the first to assert that the big problem in the the Ummah is that when the reactionaries and revisionists of the fundamentalist stripe unsheath the knives and ready for battle, the "moderate majority" goes into hiding and cowers before their righteous wrath.

As an atheist who supports the cause of the West, I have no great urge to "Reform Islam" and wouldn't shed the tear if the faith of the prophet sunk into oblivion as it immolated itself in its own glory of backwardness. Nonetheless, 1 billion people will not disappear. We have to deal with them. More thoughts later....

[1] Spencer and Warraq make assertions that can be debated, but the two Muslim representatives, especially the CAIR member, tend to assert utter idiocy. For instance, he repeats the moronic canard that non-Muslims lived under the umbrella of Islamic tolerance and that explains why there remain so many to this day in the Middle East. Actually, dhimmis were suffered their existance because of their past numerical preponderance, and they were subjected to second class treatment and repeated pogroms (explaining why American Lebanese tend to be Christian-they left the Levant to escape persecution and experience genuine religious freedom).

Posted by razib at 10:14 PM | | TrackBack


Harris, Kagan, Rushton, and the Power of Biology

Lately, due in large part to The Blank Slate, I’ve been interested in the developmental theories of Judith Rich Harris as laid out in her book The Nurture Assumption (book/website). Harris’ thesis, built mainly off of twin and adoption studies, is that parents have very little to do with shaping the intelligence, mental health, and personalities of their children, which can better be attributed to other factors such as shared genes, peer group socialization, and the mysterious wildcard of nonshared environment. Leaving praise and criticism of these ideas to Pinker and Sailer respectively, I’d like to instead focus on a rather old Slate debate over The Nurture Assumption, that I came across while reading-up on the book. The dialogue comes from the time of the TNA’s publication when the controversy was still flaring, and it is Between Mrs. Harris and, probably her most vocal (and high-profile) critic, Dr. Jerome Kagan, Harvard professor of psychology (he has called her book "an embarrassment to psychology"). It’s an ugly exchange, and both specialists seem driven by a certain degree of personal stakes that probably leads both into omission and over-statement. Particularly striking to me was the clear dishonesty of Dr. Kagan, who, in order to attack Mrs. Harris, seems to be omitting important ideas that have found formulation in his own scientific work. Kagan, who spends a curious amount of the dialogue attacking heritability, concludes:

A third flaw in your argument comes from studies of young children orphaned by war -- World War II and the Korean War. These children were adopted by nurturant families and years later their intense anxiety and retarded cognitive abilities were muted in a serious way. There is no other way to account for this result without attributing power to family practices.

No other way, to account for this result? Are you sure about that Dr. Kagan? Incidentally, I was familiar with (and actually excited about) Dr. Kagan, a particularly esteemed developmental psychologist, because I recently read about him in the "hereditarian"[1] book Born That Way by William Wright (I’ll read anything with an endorsement by E.O Wilson on the back). The book works to paint Kagan’s journey as a staunch environmentalist of the Skinner age, to a modern-day Gene Expressor:

"For Kagan this faith [environmentalism] began to weaken in the early seventies, when he spent a year in Guatemala observing infants in a remote mountain village. The village children were of particular interest because of an unusually deprived first year of life that sprang from the Indians’ tradition. Local custom had the mothers isolating their children inside cramped dark huts for the first year, never allowing them outside, never playing with them, and almost never speaking to them. As a result, the children at the ages of one and two were observed to be unusually passive, quiet, and unresponsive. To Kagan, some appeared border-line retarded

Setting to work, Kagan and his colleagues set up a controlled study in which the village kids were measured on a number of cognitive functions. Those results were then compared with a Guatemalan group raised in a more normal fashion near a city and with a group of middle-class American children. The three groups might roughly be termed under-stimulated, normally stimulated, and over-stimulated.

The results showed that while the deprived village children measured lower in all tests in the first years, they tended to catch up as they grew older and their rearing setting became more similar to those of childhood everywhere- outdoor play, interaction with parents, with other children and so on. By eleven and twelve the Guatemalan children could be considered normally developed. This transformation was heartening to environmentalists like Kagan and to socially concerned individuals who placed hopes in intervention programs like Head Start which help underperforming children catch up with their age groups. Good behaviorist soldier that he was, Kagan wrote in an early paper on this study, "The data proves the potency of the environment." Without hesitating he credited the good environment with remedying the effects of the bad.

But the data he came to realize, could be seen in two ways. With the Guatemalan village children, there had been no intervention, no remedial program; they had merely been delivered from the negative environment of their first year, the dark hut. Something else seemed to be causing their improvement, and future evidence indicated it was their own normal development, in all likelihood their own genetic makeup triumphing over an adverse environment. Rather than the normal "outdoor" environment curing the negative effects of the grim first year, it may have merely allowed the child’s personality to unfold as its genome, or as "nature", intended."

Now it's true that I am unfamiliar with the particulars of both the Guatemalan and the Korean study. Perhaps there was a control for the Korean study where some of the disturbed war-infants were put into these so-called "nuturant" families, while others were given to what Sandra Scarr would call "good-enough parents"[2]. Somehow, I doubt this. It appears more likely that Dr. Kagan was simply dishonest in the way he approached debating Mrs. Harris. How else can Dr. Kagan justify saying, "There is no other way to account for [the recovery of the Korean war orphans] without attributing power to family practices", when it was he, himself, who decided that it was genes (another "way"), instead of parents, that should be given credit for correcting the disturbed children in his Guatemalan study? Why is it that that "way" can't also apply to the Korean study? Couldn't the genome of the Korean children "unfold", and smooth out the wrinkles of their early years, just like it did with the children in the Guatemalan study? How much credit should these "nurturant" parents be given for the recovery of these Korean orphans? I mean, obviously some credit just for being parents, but the question is was there anything unique about their parenting to warrant a credit to the healing powers of the environment?

Of course its incoherent to say it's "just the genes" reviving these kids, It's just that the genes would have expressed themselves in a similar way in a broad range of unspectacular environments. If these Korean children were placed into homes where they were hardly fed and beaten and screamed at daily, it's likely they would retain some of that early trauma into adulthood. But it would seem that most garden-variety upbringings would have had the same amazing effect of healing these traumatized war orphans. It's because of this, the sufficiency of the "good-enough" parent, something Dr. Kagan himself was in part responsible for demonstrating, that makes his argument all the more insulting, fraudulent, and hypocritical.

But the inconsistency between Dr. Kagan's work and his manner of attack on Judith Harris grows ever wider. Dr. Kagan, Following the same ignoble formula of the radical environmentalists of the 70's, actually race baits Mrs. Harris in an attempt to stigmatize her hereditarian approach:

Perhaps the most serious source of vulnerability in your position comes from the fact that children from different cultures behave very differently even before peers have had a chance to have a serious effect. The work of the Whitings has proved this point to the satisfaction of most scientists. I trust that you will not claim that rural Mexican children are more nurturant and less aggressive than New England children because of heredity.

Most serious source of vulnerability? I'm not too sure what part of this is hazardous to Mrs. Harris theory. What I do know is that Dr. Kagan shamelessly used a racially charged comparison of differences to cast a shadow on Mrs. Harris. So what if "rural" [Is "rural" a codeword for more Amerindian?] Mexican children are more nurturant and less aggressive than "New England" [Ok, I know what this one is code for.] children? The more important question is are rural Mexican adults more nurturant and less aggressive than European adults? If not, then how is this damaging to Mrs. Harris theory? If the non-aggressive infants learn to be non-aggressive from their parents but grow up to be aggressive anyway, then it would seem, in perfect alignment with Mrs. Harris theory, that the early parental influence was negated by "something", be it peers, genes or what-have-you. But, even if the non-aggressive babies have non-aggressive parents and grow-up to be non-aggressive adults, then perhaps this is because, like Mrs. Harris argues, the child didn't learn to be non-aggressive, but simply picked up the same temperament genetically. But surely, as Dr. Kagan suggests, it would be irresponsible, or possibly even absurd, for Mrs. Harris to propose that this principle of inheritance could operate racially. . .wouldn't it?!! Continuing from Wright:

"Shaken, perhaps [by the results of the Guatemalan study], but Kagan, like the rest of the psychological profession , continued to believe in the environment as the most important molder of personality. His epiphany came fifteen years later, when he was working in Boston on a longitudinal study of infants, observing them from seven to twenty-nine months, with the aim of assessing the effectiveness of day-care. The group was made up of fifty-three Chinese-American infants and sixty-three Caucasian children. Part of the entire group had from the age of four months attended an experimental day-care center set-up for the study, part had attended other day-care centers, and part had been raised at home.

In the course of the experiment, Kagan noticed something unanticipated. The Chinese children, little more than babies, whether attending day-care or raised at home, were consistently more fearful and inhibited than the Caucasians. The differences were obvious. The Chinese children stayed close to their mothers and were quiet and generally apprehensive, while the Caucasians were talkative, active, and "prone to laughter". These characteristics were confirmed by the mothers as typical of their children's behavior at home as well. In addition, the researchers discovered that the Chinese tots had less variable heart rates than the Caucasians. Kagan could not avoid the clear evidence of an innate difference between the two groups of infants. It is ironic that this scientist's conversion to a biological-genetic view came along the lines of racial differences. Kagan was a political liberal who only three years earlier had been one of the most vociferous critics of Arthur Jensen's theories on the heritability of IQ, theories that he and most everyone else denounced as racist. Now he was publishing his observation of fundamental personality differences between racial groups. When we conversed in Harvard office many years later, I asked Kagan if there had been an uproar similar to the one Jensen provoked.

He smiled. "We got no flak on the Chinese paper All the reports of the book were about our day-care findings. Everyone ignored the fact that the Chinese children were different. I think it was because they were Asians, and Asians do well. If they would have been black we probably would have gotten flak."

Asked if it was dismaying for him, an unwavering liberal, to observe inherent racial differences, Kagan snapped, "Nature doesn't care what we want." More reflectively, he added, "I wasn't so much dismayed at my observations of the Chinese kids. . .I was a little bit saddened to see the power of biology."

Moving aside from the obvious hypocrisy of Dr. Kagan's underhanded race-baiting on Mrs. Harris (which she quickly calls him on), and his dishonest arguments which selectively omit evidence from his own scientific work, I must bask in the importance of this reluctant and confused, yet brilliant hereditarian bastard. I don't know if Kagan ever came around to acknowledging the heritability of intelligence, but his work demonstrating the heritability of personality is highly regarded and of amazing worth (almost as amazing as his cognitive dissonance :P). It was Jerome Kagan who discovered that personality characteristics which can be observed in early infancy remain relatively stable throughout life. Quoting from my Freshman year Psych textbook (Bernstein & Nash, Essentials of Psychology, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999):

"Traces of early temperamental characteristics weave their way throughout childhood (Buss, 1995a). Easy infants usually stay easy, and difficult infants often remain difficult (Riese 1986). Timid toddlers tend to become shy pre-schoolers, restrained and inhibited eight-year-olds, and somewhat anxious teenagers (Shwartz, Kagan, & Snidman, 1995)"

The textbook then, to my amazement, goes on to talk about racial differences that start early and end up expressing themselves in the "extended phenotype" of the world's different human cultures:

"...Consider the temperament patterns of Chinese-American and European-American children (Kagan et. al., 1994, Smith & Freedman, 1983). At birth, Chinese-American babies are calmer, less changeable, less excitable, and more easily comforted when upset than European-American babies. . .These temperamental differences between children in different ethnic groups illustrate the combined contributions of nature and nurture. Mayan infants, for example, are relatively inactive from birth. The Zinacantecos, a Mayan group in southern Mexico reinforce this innate predisposition toward restrained motor activity [3] by tightly wrapping their infants and by nursing at the slightest sign of movement (Greenfield and Childs, 1991). This combination of genetic predisposition and cultural reinforcement is culturally adaptive. Quiet infants do not kick off their covers at night, which is important in cold highlands where they live. Inactive infants are able to spend long periods on their mother's back as she works. And infants who do not begin to walk until they can understand some language do not wander into the open fire at the center of the house. This adaptive interplay of innate and cultural factors in the development of temperament operates in all cultures."

How would this innate temperament that Dr. Kagan discovered in East-Asian children (which, with the help of a gene/culture feedback loop, remains relatively stable through-out adulthood) affect the subsequent cultures of East Asia where these genes are expressed? I would like to read more about what Kagan has to say about this, but from what I can find he stays away from the really important implications (lawfulness, social cohesion, etc.), but he does coyly (ctrl-F Kagan) acknowledge the influence that genes and race can have over culture:

"Following these children as they grew up, [Kagan] found that the Caucasian children were much more likely to flare up in toy disputes than the Asian toddlers. In an earlier book he observed that these same differences were reflected in the artistic works and tastes of the two cultures."

To anyone familiar with the school of Human Bio-Diversity the elephant left in the living room after all of this talk of the personality differences between Asians and Caucasians is, 'How does this relate to Rushton's Law of Three'. Rushton's amazingly reliable rule is that any important difference (be it physical, mental, developmental, temperamental,or behavioral) that can be found between Asians and Europeans, a similar relationship will most likely be found between Europeans and Africans. Regardless of the correctness of Rushton's theory for explaining this consistent relationship [4], the data he uses to verify the relationship itself is, to quote Frank Miele of Skeptic Magazine, "...replicable".

So what relationship of personality characteristics did Kagan observe between the Caucasian and Asian children, that we might use for this second comparison?: The Caucasian children were less fearful, less inhibited, more talkative, more active, more prone to laughter, had more variable heart rates, were less calm, were more changeable, more excitable, less easily comforted when upset, and more likely to flare up over toy disputes. With this data in mind, it would be predicted from a Rushtonian model that in a similar experiment using African-American and Caucasian infants, that the African-Americans, no matter how or where they were raised, would be even less fearful, even less inhibited, even more talkative, even more active, even more prone to laughter, have even more variable heart rates, would be even less calm, even more changeable, even more excitable, even less easily comforted when upset, and even more likely to flare up over toy disputes. If Kagan has demonstrated that Asians and Caucasians have different fundamental temperaments, Rushton feels that a proportional relationship can be drawn between Whites and Blacks as well. He writes in Race, Evolution, and Behavior (book/abridged):

"Across ages (24-hour-old infants, children, high-school students, university students, and adults), across traits (activity level, aggressiveness, cautiousness, dominance, excitability, impulsiveness, and sociability), and across methods (archival statistics, naturalistic observations, ratings, and self-reports), data shows that in terms of behavioral restraint Mongoloids average higher than do Caucasoids who, in turn, average higher than Negroids..."

That this pattern shows up in African-Americans by the time of kindergarten (and probably in pre-school), and continues throughout schooling and adulthood, should not be controversial from a sociological stand-point. The question is not whether the pattern of behavior exists (at least it shouldn't be), the question is, is it innate? I guess there is as of yet no smoking-gun to confirm this, just a lot of mixed clues and indirect evidence. I suppose, though, if the differences between Asians and Whites can find support using certain analytic methods, that similar methods might yield similarly satisfying answers to the question regarding Blacks. So how about it, do the familiar personality characteristics of Blacks show up in new-borns, like they do with Caucasians, Asians, and Amerindians?

Rushton tells us, flat-out, that these characteristics show up in "24-hour-old infants", but then fails to provide the infancy data for blacks to prove it. Without any back-up data , and with the first study for blacks that he cites starting at ages "4 to 6 years", I have to assume that Rushton was over-zealously "filling in the blanks" with his "24 hour" boast. Furthermore, I found a "lecture overview" primer on the Internet that provides data indicating that African newborns aren't in Rushtonian proportion to European ones. Outlining the work of Daniel G. Freedman and Nina Freedman (who, by the way, discovered the difference between Asian and Caucasian newborns before Jerome Kagan), the infant temperament check-list describes "African/Aboriginal" neonates as more temperamental than Brown, East Asian, and Amerindian new borns, but somewhat less temperamental than Caucasian ones.

The details of this data I am not familiar with, but right now it's the only data I know of, so I will have to consider that Rushton's particular claim regarding Black new-borns is false.

Despite that, I refuse to ignore the forest for the trees. Regardless of newborn behavior, it is highly unlikely that later Black temperament is, like Asians and Amerindians, less volatile than Whites (in a statistically innate sense), it is also highly unlikely that Black temperament is exactly the same, in statistical expression, as Whites [5]. I think the universality and ineluctability of black personality points to an innate temperament that is, on average, somewhat to substantially more volatile than that of whites. If anyone ever conducts a Kagan style experiment on the behavior of infants of European and African descent, I will gladly wager a large sum of money and a beer on the outcome.

[1] I know. . . no one actually considers themselves a "hereditarian" or an "environmentalist" for that matter; people with as disparate opinions as Rushton and Lewontin all consider themselves to be gene/environment interactionists. But since everyone considers themselves within the framework of the same reasonable position, it’s probably more useful to use informative, if not rigidly literal, labels. Though I have noticed others in our camp, such as Bouchard, Jensen, Scarr, Eysenck, etc. refer to themselves as Galtonians, in an homage to the genius and his particular school of hereditary understanding, so I just might stick with that term.

[2] Good-enough parents = "...most parents are "good enough" at child rearing to support their children becoming the best they can be". (this quote comes from Sandra Scarr's tribute to Arthur Jensen , as published in the academic journal Intelligence)

[3] Wait a minute Dr. Kagan, did I read that right, or did my text-book just suggest that these "rural" Mexicans were low in aggression and highly nurturant due to their innate predispositions?! . . .More nurturant, I trust, than "New England" children. Like your Chinese children, this is, in fact, the case (Brazelton, T.B., Robey, J.S., & Collier, G.A. (1969). Infant development in the Zinacanteco Indians of Southern Mexico. Pediatrics, 44, 274-290.). Looks like somebody owes Mrs. Harris an apology.

[4] It should also be noted that both Kagan, and the authors of my quoted textbook use Rushton's same evolutionary theory (i.e. the coldness of their adaptive environments) to explain why Asians and Amerindians have more inhibited and less aggressive personalities. And as Razib has pointed out before, the distinguished neuro-psychologist William Calvin uses this Rushtonian explanation to account for racial differences as well. These differences are grounded in fact and there really doesn't appear to be a better or more comprehensive explanation for them.

[5] From an evolutionary perspective it makes little sense that relatively isolated populations will be completely identical in polymorphic frequency. That Africans, Asians, and Europeans are, recognizably, very dissimilar morphologically is the first common-sense clue that their relative isolation has resulted in separate paths of selection pressure. The modern consensus is that there is no trait which does not have some degree of heritability, which means that there is a lot of variation between individuals. But, it is undeniable that populations differ in polymorphic gene frequencies as well. These sub-populations are not all mutually dissimilar, but all share similar statistical relationships with other populations, and together can be viewed as super-clusters, or continental populations, or what I prefer to call by the old familiar term that always reliably described the intuitively discerned branches of this global family-tree: races. World sub-populations all differ from eachother in statistical variations of traits, and it might make sense to you that these super-clusters would be the most differentiated. So which populations are the most differentiated? You might think it is the isolated Amerindians, but Cavalli-Sforza's work shows the largest genetic split is between Sub-Saharan Africans and the rest of the world. This is why we would expect, as a null hypothesis, that the distributed differences between people of European and African descent should be greater than zero across most measurable traits. And, the thing is, they do, in fact, differ to one degree or another on most measurable traits. . .but the question is, are they different for genetic reasons? I think in many cases a genetic hypothesis of some sort, especially for traits apparent in a population that are universal, persistent, and have no clear environmental explanation, is a theoretically prudent one to consider.

Posted by Jason Malloy at 04:03 AM | | TrackBack


From the vault

Ole Eichorn happened to have a snapshot of the site saved-so the files that my webhosters transfer wiped clear are now being rereleased, in a photo-copied form, below. Those of you who read and raged the first time around-ignore, others, enjoy....

Fat AND dumb?

Obese men eat up their IQ points:

Being overweight is not only bad for men's hearts - it also makes them less intelligent. A study of the intelligence of the obese has found that being seriously overweight reduces intelligence in males, possibly through its effect on blood circulation in the brain ...

By studying the records of more than 1400 men and women, Professor Merrill Elias and colleagues at the University of Boston found that men classified as clinically obese appear to have significantly reduced mental agility. Curiously, fat women did not suffer the same fate.

When given cognitive function tests involving logic, verbal fluency and recall, obese men achieved scores as much as 23 per cent below those of non-obese men, even after taking into account factors such as educational level, occupation and blood pressure.

Posted by jason at 01:26 PM


The brown lion

Sen has a post on the message board stating that Sri Lanka has the chance to become the first First World brown economy. He is right, the statistics are good, Kerala good in fact. But like Kerala, the high life expectancy and literacy haven't translated into economic dynamism. The current excuse is the civil war. Fine.

On the issue of Mauritius being an example of brown success-the Franco-Mauritians who form a tiny minority still dominate the cash crop economy based on sugar from what I know. The Indo-Mauritians have leveraged their domination of the government (the Muslims, Hindus and Tamils are often separated in the stats-along with the "General Population," which means Kreol speaking Catholics of black, and mixed white-black origin) into a stable position in society, but unlike Singapore, they are not at the top of the heap (in Singapore, the Chinese are the wealthiest, right above the Indians, while the Malays form the underclass). I do find it amusing listening to BBC WORLD REPORT when they give Mauritius as an example of an "African success." Granted, there is a large Afro-Mauritian population, but culturally Mauritius is part of the Indian Ocean International....

P.S. Sri Lankans I know tell me that there is no physical difference between Tamils and Sinhalese-so the Aryan-Dravidian chasm is almost certainly one of linguistic preference. And the "Baurs" of Bengal are the last remaining brown Buddhists of the northeast-they are Bengali speakers, not highlanders from the Hill Tracts of Burmese origins (they are a very small minority, and concentrated around Chittagong, the last remnants of the Pala cultural complex). Additionally, there are the recent converts post-Ambedkar in Maharashtra amongst the Dalits-black-brown Buddhists.

Posted by razib at 01:25 PM

"Fat" Chicks: Will the Madness Never End?
I'm sure that no one who frequents Gene Expression has read any tabloids lately, but I'd like to inform you about an outrageous article that "The Globe" recently published (sorry, it's not online). In an article about "bigger sized" women in Hollywood, they began with Beyonce Knowles. Apparently a size 8 is now considered "full figured". I hereby request that David stand up for his bootylicious mulatto sisters and forcefeed the author of this article with chitlins and Mississippi mud pies until he/she balloons to a porcine size 12.

Posted by duende at 08:47 AM

Just the 10 of us

Argentina is a really pathetic country-not because it is so destitute, those situations are a dime a dozen (remember, I was born in Bangladesh), but because in 1900 it was wealthier and healthier than most of Europe. Remember, even the British immigrated to Argentina! Now here comes this story about the nation's dive toward African-style chaos. But notice something about many of the "parents" interviewed who can't feed their families....

"The country is in bad shape, and we, the poor, are even worse off," said Carlos Roberto Rivera, a 29-year-old father of eight children, ages 2 to 12. "There is no work now, and that means we don't eat sometimes. For breakfast, the children often will have only maté," a traditional herbal drink high in caffeine that many Argentines consume in place of tea or coffee.

...

Mr. Rivera's older sister, Fátima, a mother of nine who is married to another bricklayer and lives in Los Vázquez, said that when a peso was roughly equivalent to an American dollar, she used to be able to feed her family for 10 pesos a day. Today 10 pesos is only worth a little over $3. "Now," she said, "you can't get anything with that money."

...

Questioned by Ms. Rivero, Ermelinda Salto Argelia acknowledged that she and her husband, José Ramón Bay, the parents of four children [oh, someone decided to use birth control], "often go without food so that the kids can eat." Her husband is a street vendor, selling items like pencils and dental floss. Many days he comes home empty-handed.

I'm not saying that these people shouldn't have children and that their financial situation isn't dire-but cutting down on the mouths to feed would help, wouldn't it? Reminds me of the interview in Gaza of a cab-driver complaining that tips & fare just didn't go that far in supporting his 12 kids!. Puleez....

Posted by razib at sometime in the recent past....

Posted by razib at 12:38 AM | | TrackBack

March 02, 2003



Breeders can't be eaters

[Ole Eichorn has requested I repost this article, since it was deleted when my webhost switched servers]

I won't say much-but that these people are complaining that they can't feed their kids....


"The country is in bad shape, and we, the poor, are even worse off," said Carlos Roberto Rivera, a 29-year-old father of eight children, ages 2 to 12. "There is no work now, and that means we don't eat sometimes. For breakfast, the children often will have only maté," a traditional herbal drink high in caffeine that many Argentines consume in place of tea or coffee.
...
Mr. Rivera's older sister, Fátima, a mother of nine who is married to another bricklayer and lives in Los Vázquez, said that when a peso was roughly equivalent to an American dollar, she used to be able to feed her family for 10 pesos a day. Today 10 pesos is only worth a little over $3. "Now," she said, "you can't get anything with that money."
...
Questioned by Ms. Rivero, Ermelinda Salto Argelia acknowledged that she and her husband, José Ramón Bay, the parents of four children, "often go without food so that the kids can eat." Her husband is a street vendor, selling items like pencils and dental floss. Many days he comes home empty-handed.

Look at the last case and do the math, I seems plausible if they had two children, there might be some food left over for the parents.

Posted by razib at 09:40 PM | | TrackBack


This picture is wack!


This picture is going to make it into The Onion....

Posted by razib at 08:51 PM | | TrackBack


Science vs. ideology

Dr. Spencer Wells, who worked to Cavalli-Sforza and is featured in the documentary The Journey of Man (he has a book out by the same name-it's a pretty slim volume just like Bryan Sykes' Seven Daughters of Eve) was recently interviewed by the Indian news site Rediff. He illustrates how geneticists can run into a minefield of myth & history. Here is a funny snippet:


Some people say Aryans are the original inhabitants of India. What is your view on this theory?

The Aryans came from outside India. We actually have genetic evidence for that. Very clear genetic evidence from a marker that arose on the southern steppes of Russia and the Ukraine around 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. And it subsequently spread to the east and south through Central Asia reaching India. It is on the higher frequency in the Indo-European speakers, the people who claim they are descendants of the Aryans, the Hindi speakers, the Bengalis, the other groups. Then it is at a lower frequency in the Dravidians. But there is clear evidence that there was a heavy migration from the steppes down towards India.

But some people claim that the Aryans were the original inhabitants of India. What do you have to say about this?

I don't agree with them. The Aryans came later, after the Dravidians.


I wish Wells was as direct when an Australian Aborigine told him that this Out-of-Africa stuff was crap and that his elders told him they had always been there. I watched the first half of the documentary-Dr. Wells looks like an albino, that's what I kept thinking, oh, and wondering if he had any female relatives my age....

Posted by razib at 07:18 PM | | TrackBack


Brains & beauty

Randal Parker of Future Pundit opines on the recent comments by James Watson on "curing" stupidity. Additionally, what about making everyone "good looking"? When asked why he noted publically that Rosalind Franklin (he used her research for "discovering" the structure of DNA with Crick) was not very attractive and didn't take an interest in her appearence, Watson simply stated, "Because it matters." Some truths are self-evident I suppose?

Many, like Charles Murtaugh to name one, have expressed concern that playing around with the genome could cause unforseen problems (I'm sure it will). I think we have to look at this statistically. If you were two parents who had IQs of ~100 and could be guaranteed of having a child with an IQ of 150, if you took a 10% chance that there would serious complications that might not arise until later in life (this is the premise for a lot of science fiction oriented toward genetic engineering), would you take it? Extraordinary abilities and capacities may demand great risks.

What we may see is what values people really hold, and what are they willing to risk for it? In Los Angeles, parents might be say more willing to risk deformity to have "beautiful" children than folks in North Dakota. I have asked friends, only semi-rhetorically, "Would you give up 10 years of your life if you could have brilliance in your chosen field without the least effort?" These sort of choices have been pondered for as long as humanity has been sapient, at least judging by the choice of Achilles, who preferred a short glorious existence to anonymous longevity.

Long term consequences that we can not detect will be the issues, because obvious problems can be detected during pregnancy, and abortion is always a recourse. But the fact is that we take a risk with every breath we take as modern human beings that take "progress" for granted. Obesity and heart disease are the result of rich and constant diets, but would we go back to the lean years of the past? The freedom of women to have jobs had caused a great deal of social dislocation, but would we say to "back to the kitchens go!"

But the "risks" (statistically) might not be known until a small sample of "alterted" children mature to adulthood. But always into the darkness, some will go, risking danger for the glory that others fear....

Posted by razib at 05:40 PM | | TrackBack


Lost entries

A note, my webhoster moved my account this afternoon without telling me-so I lost a few entries (as well as having to request the reinstallation of a few Perl modules) & about 15 comments. This is more a note for the bloggers with guest accounts than anything else....

Posted by razib at 05:03 PM | | TrackBack