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July 26, 2003



The Protestantization of Islam???

This article in Beliefnet strikes me as rather strange. The author is a Muslim who is a medical doctor-not someone who has specialized knowledge in Islam-and his rendering of the faith (all the stuff about God's forgiveness and ability to redeem humans, etc.) strikes me as very Protestant, in the American context, almost Evangelical. The author also asserts a place for Free Will in the Islamic conception of the God-human relationship, and yet my understanding is that the orthodox Islamic position rejects Free Will in favor of predestination. I'm not going to snipe about how the author is not schooled in the religion of his profession, many lay Presbyterians do not delve deeply into the denial of Free Will that serves as a point of separation for their Calvinist tradition from that of many other Protestants, nor do many Lutherans contemplate much over the muddle that is their doctrine on this issue. Rather, most American Protestants, even the Evangelicals, as well as Catholics and to some extent Jews, have become participants in a vague form of theism that rejects excessive formulation of doctrine and rigorous scripture study in favor of emotional devotion and personal redefinition of "what it means to be Fill-in-the-blank." The Protestantization of American Islam is surely a good thing, a move away from Islam's current standing as a cult-sect that is shifted far from the American mainstream and to some extent religiously at odds with it, to one denomination among many that partakes of the standard public pieties without excessive self-reflection on the axioms of the faith.

Related note: See this ParaPundit article on the various attempts to bring the Koran into the umbrella of textual analysis that the Bible has been subjected to since the 19th century. Note that modernist criticism of the Bible lead to the emergence of Fundamentalism in the early 20th century in the form of pamphlets like The Five Fundamentals. Unfortunately most of the scholars that work in this new field have to go under pseudonyms because of the nature of their endeavour. And just like the investigation into the Bible, the inquiry seems to be driven by German scholars....

Update 2: Zack comments (a lot).

Update 3: Bill Allison weights in.

Posted by razib at 08:09 PM | | TrackBack


Quantitative Genetics

There are many discussions on this site about a variety of phenotypes. Most of these phenotypes are "quantitative traits." There seems to be a common conflation in the minds of many about how these traits work, and an attempt to apply the simpler mendelian genetics that applies to discrete traits (a small number of expressions of the trait, for instance, blue, green or brown eyes, etc.). Here is a short & simple primer on Quantitative Traits and another on Mendelian Genetics. Of course, Mendelian genetics is the bedrock from which quantitative traits, or continuous traits (height, IQ, etc.), emerge, but one must use different methods to analyze these traits because they are polygenic (multiple genes influence their expression) & often environmentally sensitive (the environment has a strong influence on their expression). The normal distribution, regression to the mean and narrow-sense heritability are all terms associated with quantitative traits [1] (though note that since many of these terms, for instance, the first two, come out of the world of statistics, they are often found outside of genetics).

[1] To illustrate the differences between discrete and continuous traits, compare height & eye color. Imagine trying to graph the distribution of blue, brown and mixed color eyes, since there are only three points, it is very discrete. On the other hand, height is a continuous trait, and displays the common "Bell Curve" distribution. Regression to the mean occurs with height because of environment, but obviously the same does not occur with eye color, as there is a deterministic relationship genotype and phenotype (in other words, the color of one's eyes is determined solely by genetics).

Posted by razib at 06:15 PM | | TrackBack


Naturally lower cholesterol

Natural way to reduce cholesterol over at Future Pundit. Pretty weird wild stuff (there is a HBD angle that Randall throws in)....

Posted by razib at 04:34 PM | | TrackBack

July 25, 2003



Pretty baby

Dienekes has a prety provocative post on attractiveness (everyone has an opinion on this topic....).

Posted by razib at 11:45 AM | | TrackBack

July 24, 2003



Jews & Asians-again

I've gotten two recent emails forwarding me this old Slate piece by Nick Lemann, When Asian-Americans become the "new Jews," what happens to the Jews?, so I decided to link it.... (flavor of the month I suppose-thanks Ikram & zizka)

Posted by razib at 03:59 PM | | TrackBack


First Americans???

The headline shouts Date limit set on first Americans, as in no earlier than 18,000 years ago according to genetic evidence. But read more closely and note the qualifications....

Posted by razib at 02:32 PM | | TrackBack


How humans lost a sense (sort of)

Are senses a zero-sum game? The Economist implies it in this article that indicates that the focus on vision diminished the primate, and especially human, sense of smell. I've copied the full article below....

Note: Read The Emperor of Scent for an alternative account of the physiology of smell....

MORE COLOUR, LESS ODOUR
JULY 24TH 2003

Gaining colour vision, it seems, cost people much of their sense of
smell

THERE is a theory that the human sense of smell began to atrophy when
people learned to cook. Since cooking neutralised the worst toxins in
food, it became less important to be able to sniff out evil-smelling
ingredients. But at the International Congress of Genetics, held
earlier this month in Melbourne, Australia, a group of researchers
presented evidence that it was actually the evolution of colour vision
that caused creeping desensitisation to odours.

People detect smells when particular molecules lock on to receptor
proteins embedded in the lining of the nose. The interaction between a
molecule and a receptor triggers a pulse of electrical activity that is
transmitted to the brain.

Most odoriferous molecules activate more than one type of receptor. The
brain recognises an odour by the pattern of receptors activated. Humans
have about 1,000 different sorts of odour receptor (OR), so the number
of patterns that can be generated and recognised is impressive. Even
so, the range and subtlety of the human sense of smell is poor compared
with that of other mammals, and it has been found over the past few
years that this poverty is a reflection of genetics. The genes that
encode ORs form the largest of the mammalian gene families. Yet in
humans 60% of them are actually so-called pseudo-genes. In other words
they have been rendered inactive by mutations.

To find out if humans are unusual among primates in having lost such a
high proportion of their ORs, a team of researchers led by Yoav Gilad
of the Weizmann Institute, in Israel, picked 50 human OR genes at
random. The team then found their counterparts in several species of
primate, and also in the mouse, and compared the ratio of pseudogenes
with intact, functional genes across the species.

In the mouse, around 20% turned out to be pseudogenes, whereas in
chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans the level was closer to 30%.
Old-world monkeys had lost more genes than new-world monkeys, which in
turn had lost substantially more than the mouse. And humans were way
out in front with a massive 60% erosion of ORs. According to Dr Gilad,
humans have accumulated disruptive mutations in OR genes four times
faster than any of the other species tested.

Moreover, the distinction between new world and old world was so clear
that, as Dr Gilad says, "It's almost as if we can map the beginning of
the accelerated rate of accumulating OR pseudogenes from their
divergence." But there was an anomaly. When the researchers plotted
their findings on a graph, they found that the howler monkey, a
new-world species, fell in with its old-world cousins.

Why would this sudden increase in OR loss have occurred both in the
old-world and in one lineage of new-world primates? The researchers
were struck by the fact that howler monkeys, alone among new-world
species, share with old-world primates the capacity for full colour, or
"trichromatic" vision.

Trichromatic vision involves three pigments, called opsins, that are
sensitive to different wavelengths of light. In humans and their
old-world relatives the medium- and long-wave opsins are controlled by
separate genes on the X chromosome. But in most new-world monkeys there
is only one opsin gene on the X chromosome.

Confusingly, this gene can exist in two forms, which produce opsins
sensitive to different wavelengths. So trichromacy can occur in these
animals. But it can only happen in females, who have two X chromosomes,
one inherited from each parent. If these carry different forms of the
gene, a female's eyes will be equipped with all three pigments. Males,
who have only one X chromosome, always lack a third pigment. So do
those females whose X chromosomes carry identical opsin genes.

The researchers believe that the emergence of separate opsin genes on
the X chromosome--and hence full colour vision--is probably connected
with the shrinkage of the OR family. The better you can see, the less
you need to smell. Since senses are costly to maintain, natural
selection will eliminate redundant ones. Most mammals communicate by
scent. Old-world primates, though, are big on visual communication,
with coloured faces and (in the case of females) coloured sexual
swellings. And people have gone a step further, creating a range of
colourful signals with the clothes they wear. Whether the additional
communication provided by language is another such selective pressure
remains to be seen.

Posted by razib at 10:29 AM | | TrackBack


AFRAID OF GROWING OLD?

This is aimed at provoking discussion on the problems of an elderly population.

In most Western countries the proportion of old people in the population is rising. The increase is greater in some countries than others, due to differences in migration, birth rates, and life expectancy. It is greatest in Japan, and lowest in the USA, with Western European countries somewhere in between.

Alarming conclusions are drawn from this trend. It is feared that old people will be a serious burden on the working population, and that measures must be taken to encourage a higher birth rate, or higher immigration.

I do not claim that there is no problem, but I do think it is often exaggerated. Some commentators and politicians have reasons of their own for wanting to promote immigration, or a ‘Kinder, Kirche, Kuche’ society.

The growing proportion of old people is due to several causes. One of them is obviously the increase in life expectancy. Between 1900 and 2000 life expectancy at age 60 increased by about 50%. If this were a transition from one ‘steady state’ to another, we would expect there to be roughly a 50% increase in the proportion of over-60s in the population.

In practice, populations are seldom in ‘steady state’. They are either growing or shrinking. If the population is growing, the proportion of old people will be less than its ‘steady state’ level. But if growth slows down or stops, the proportion of old people is likely to rise. Notably, after World War II the birth rate rose sharply, and then fell, producing a bulge of ‘baby boomers’ who are now approaching retirement age. This will undoubtedly increase the proportion of old people over the next 20 years.

Another problem in the long term is the fact that in most western countries the birth rate has fallen below the replacement rate. If this continued indefinitely then populations would eventually shrink to nothing. As I’ve argued previously, predictions of birth and death rates are unreliable, and birth rates may not continue below the replacement rate for very long.

But in the mean time, a low birth rate does have implications for the ‘dependency ratio’. As usually defined by demographers, this is the ratio of people both above and below working age to the working-age population. Both groups of dependents need to be supported. In many countries the dependency ratio is now actually lower than 100 years ago, when there were relatively few old people but a lot of hungry children.

The impact of a low birth rate on the dependency ratio is complicated. If there is a sustained reduction in the birth rate below replacement level, the first effect is obviously to reduce the number of dependent children, without affecting other age groups. It therefore reduces the dependency ratio. This continues for about 20 years (the average period of dependency). Then the working-age population begins to shrink, and the dependency ratio rises, but this is partly offset by a further fall in the number of dependent children, as the child-bearing age-group is also shrinking. The overall dependency ratio does not get back to its original level until about 50 years after the start of the lower birth rate regime. Then it continues rising for about another 10 years, until the number of people reaching retirement age also begins to shrink. After this the dependency ratio falls again, though not quite to its original level.

The main point to note is that the impact of a sustained low birth rate on the overall dependency ratio is very gradual, and smaller than might be expected.
Even with a Total Fertility Rate of only 1.5, the dependency ratio should not rise to more than 10% above its steady state level from this cause alone.

More serious problems arise when several factors are raising the proportion of old people at the same time. At present Germany and Japan in particular are facing a triple whammy, due to (a) very long life expectancy, (b) very low birth rates, and (c) a large bulge in population about to reach retirement age. But even these problems shouldn’t be exaggerated. According to the German statistical office, by 2050 about 31% of the German population will be over 65, 17% will be under 20, and just over 50% will be aged 20-65. A ratio of one worker to one dependent should not be intolerable. And countries as densely populated as Germany, and especially Japan (with over 10 times the density of the USA), could benefit from a gradual reduction of population.

Of course, a lot depends on the level of income expected by old people. At present, German pensioners expect to receive two-thirds or even three-quarters of their previous income. I doubt if this is realistic in the long term.

A lot also depends on the proportion of the population who are actually working. In most countries, relatively small adjustments in the average retirement age, or the number of people doing part-time work, would offset the increase in the dependency ratio.

That’s enough for now, but I can’t resist quoting Frederick the Great (I think), when his troops were trying to retreat: ‘What, do you scoundrels want to live for ever?’

DAVID BURBRIDGE

Posted by David B at 03:40 AM | | TrackBack

July 22, 2003



Jewish smarts

Godless stated he wouldn't post about Jews, but I'm not him, so I feel no restraint. Someone referenced Greg Cochran's new essay How The Ashkenazi Got Their Smarts, so I feel obligated to link to it on Jerry Pournelle's site. Enjoy & discuss....

Update from Godless:

Well, if it's "Jeurasian" week at GNXP, I did have a few things to chip in. First is that the Cochran title is a reference to How the Leopard got his Spots...which is a self-referentially wry dig at sociobiological just-so stories. Nice wordplay there, GC. [1]

Second, just thought I'd link to this decent summary of Jewish genetics research up to 2002:

'The authors are correct in saying the historical origins of most Jewish communities are unknown,' Dr. [Shaye] Cohen [of Harvard University] said. 'Not only the little ones like in India, but even the mainstream Ashkenazic culture from which most American Jews descend.'.... If the founding mothers of most Jewish communities were local, that could explain why Jews in each country tend to resemble their host community physically while the origins of their Jewish founding fathers may explain the aspects the communities have in common, Dr. Cohen said.... The Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA's in today's Jewish communities reflect the ancestry of their male and female founders but say little about the rest of the genome... Noting that the Y chromosome points to a Middle Eastern origin of Jewish communities and the mitochondrial DNA to a possibly local origin, Dr. Goldstein said that the composition of ordinary chromosomes, which carry most of the genes, was impossible to assess. 'My guess,' Dr. Goldstein said, 'is that the rest of the genome will be a mixture of both.'"

So the upshot is: Y chromosomal lineage from the Middle East, mtDNA from local mothers, and autosomes are yet to be determined. A founder population of males from the Middle East came in, married local females, and practiced endogamy once the community got large enough. Another large contributor to phenotypic resemblance is natural selection effects...in irony of ironies, the Nazis exerted strong selection pressure for blond haired, blue eyed Jews.

Clearly at least some autosomes will have characteristically Ashkenazi signatures, because some of the diseases common to the Ashkenazi are located on autosomes (that is, non-sex chromosomes).

Diseases seen more frequently in the Ashkenazi Jewish population

Bloom syndrome
Canavan disease
Cystic Fibrosis
Deafness
Familial Dysautonomia
Fanconi anemia
Gaucher disease
Niemann-Pick disease
Tay-Sachs disease
[From Cochran]
BRCA1
BRCA2 (breast cancer risk genes)
torsion dystonia
Factor XI deficiency (clotting disorder)
non-classic CAH
familial Mediterranean fever
familial hyperinsulinism
familial hypercholesterolemi
glycogen storage disease VII
pentosuria
maple syrup urine disease
mucolipidosis type IV.

This stuff is also useful for fact-checking Cochran's essay, of course...though I'm too lazy to look up those pathways ;)

Now, a special treat for our GNXP readers:
Intellectual property bending uploads of two papers on the possibility of selection in Ashkenazim. My professional opinion? I think Risch is wrong, though he shouldn't be derided as PC. He did write this good piece last year on the reality of race.

Selection may have happened in Ashkenazim along with response - Disagreement: selection did not happen in Ashkenazim

[1] Why, thank you, GC...says GC ;)

Update:

I don't know buy the "lower visuospatial IQ" for Jews. Supposedly it comes from Daniel Seligman's book "A Question of Intelligence", but in my opinion it's unlikely that Jews would have anything like their incredible math dominance (see here) without high visuospatial skills, unless "visuospatial" means something different than "ability to rotate/visualize three dimensional objects".

Posted by razib at 09:41 PM | | TrackBack


Science is for losers

Ok, I can't hold back on the cognitive elite post.

In America, science/eng is for losers. Period. Of course, I speak from the biotech/biology point of view, and this is the group to which most of my following comments will apply. However, I believe that my comments largely apply to chemists, engineers and computer people also.

Let's start with the premise. Twenty years ago, the NSF came out with the famous report that the US was going to run out of scientists. This lie was repeated, even more forcefully in 1989, when the NSF predicted a "shortfall" of 675,000 sci/eng students. The government promptly went into social engineering mode, and grand campaigns (and graduate funding programs) were instituted to ensure the USA wouldn't run out. Guess what? The faculty retirements never happened, people went into sci/eng and for the past 15 years, we've been running around with a huge glut of sci/eng (along with hordes of imported sci/engs)

Now, actually, this is probably good from a societal view, as these surplus sci/eng did go on to help start the biotech/IT boom of recent years as Razib points out (ex-IBMers--"Go start your own companies!"). However, from an individual standpoint, all this overproduction has done is to devalue your skills and increase the risk involved with sci/eng as a career path.

Let's look at a typical career path for a biotech type scientist:
4 years undergrad. Age 21. Salary: $25-30K if job obtained as tech.

5-9 years grad school. Age 26-30+. Salary as a grad student: $20-25K
Likelihood of finding a job after PhD obtained: about 10-20%, depending on subfield. Salary: about $50-$70K. Alternative when job isn't found, or job desired is in academia or higher up in industry is a post-doc:

Post-doc: 2-5 years. Age: 28-35. Salary as post-doc: 25-40K (note, this is for a PhD, and a person who is likely around 30 years old. This should be insulting). Likelihood of finding academic position: about 1%. (typical faculty positions advertised receive several hundred applications). Chance of second post-doc because job in industry is also not available: about 40%.

So, at the age of 30ish, and after obtaining an advanced degree as part of 10+ years of post-graduate education and training, you can hope for about a 59% chance of finding a "real job." This real job pays about $70K in industry (up to 90K for chemists), a bit less for starting professors.

The rest circle around in post-docs or finally leave science in disgust.

Now, plenty of people might say, "what are you complaining about, those salaries are fine?" Perhaps. But the economics should be made clear to aspiring young scientists--expect to work 60-70 hours/week until you're 35 before you can even hope to have a real job, with benefits, that pays more than a journeyman plumber (but not a fully bonded plumber and let's not forget the average GM worker earning $68K/yr). These people who can make it in science are typically smart enough to be MDs (salary $100-200+K/yr by age 30 at the latest), lawyers (salary $100K-$400K by age 30), or banker/MBA types ($100K-$1M by 28).

That's the reality. Science is for losers. If you're going to go through all that education/training and work 60-70 hrs/wk, at least you should be compensated like MDs, lawyers or investment bankers. If you don't care about the money, fine, but don't ever start on the "nobility of science" crap that Gould liked to prattle on about. You're making an economic decision--"I love science so much that I'm going to give up all this potential income, etc." If you want to, fine. But go into science knowing that, and knowing that the situation will NOT get better (i.e. what's going to happen when big Pharma starts outsourcing all their medicinal chemistry R&D to Bangalore and Hyderabad?).


Posted by david at 05:00 PM | | TrackBack


"Brights" and (I presume) "Dulls"

I was busy during the "brights debate a few weeks back, but Steve Sailer's recent comments jogged my memory. As one of the only theistic Gene Expressors, I'll concede that atheists' unpopularity is for the most part undeserved. Having known several atheists in Europe (and many whom I suspect are closet atheists in America) I think that atheists' ill-rep is mostly an image problem. In my experience most American atheists know that they are ill-favored and tend to keep mum. Therefore, an atheists who readily identifies himself as such quite frequently has a GIGANTIC chip on his shoulder and alienates most believers due to his hystrionic antisocialness. Not to say that many believers don't have an instinctive revulsion for atheists (as they often do for theists, but I suspect that relatively few religious Americans have close friends who are open atheists. Therefore, whenever some self-infatuated wanker decides to promote himself on the back of his school-aged child, religious people read the paper and say "Huh, I was right about them."

However, as a believer myself, I can assure you that "brights" is not the way to go. Richard Dawkins manifests in great abundance the atheist stereotype that I find to be probably the most accurate among them: noxious arrogance. I am not saying that religious people cannot be arrogant, but however great a scientist Dawkins might be, an image repair campaign of this magnitude requires skills and talents he does not have. Stone-hearted atheists who feel unloved, listen up: Chuck the obnoxious intellectuals and hire the best PR consultant money can buy. And here's some free advice: trying to improve your image among believers by implying that you think they're all stupid is a really dumb idea. Maybe Dawkins isn't as "bright" as he thinks.

P.S. from duende: As of tomorrow, I'll be in Japan for 4 weeks, so you won't see me around here much.

Godless commments:

Sailer's a great guy and I like him a lot, but he's totally wrong on the Dawkins issue. I mean, Dawkins may be a militant atheist, but he's done a *huge* service in advancing the public's understanding of evolution. Others (like Gould on the left, Robertson on the right, etc.) did much to advance the public's *misunderstanding* of evolution.

As for theism... needless to say, as "godless" I disagree with duende. I do feel that if you believe in religion, you believe in magic and fairy tales. In the end, there are no believers in foxholes, because when push comes to shove you'll reach for your gun rather than your cross. Science *works*, but religion does not.

I admit that I have less respect for people who can't understand this, but I don't push it in their faces. This is because I now understand that blaming them is like blaming people who can't understand math. Developments in neurotheology and heritability estimates [2] for religious belief have made me realize that arguing with someone who believes in God is often much like teaching someone to do mathematics who just doesn't have the ability...it's pointless because their brain simply isn't programmed that way

...religion and belief in God is a human construction. I covered Bouchard's twin studies showing a roughly 50% heritability of religiosity, Persinger's research in replicating spiritual experiences in the laboratory (with electromagnetic fields), Ramachandran's research with temporal lobe epilepsy-triggered religious experiences, NDE's being replicated in the laboratory (all to show that religiosity and religious experiences are at least, in part, a function of our genes and biology...

I'm thankful that I don't have quite so developed/influential a "god zone" in my brain. I'll close with Sailer himself:

Anti-religiousness is the appropriate professional prejudice of scientists. The "Far Side" cartoon summed it up. A lab-coated researcher is filling the left and right sides of a black board with equations, but the only thing connecting the two clouds of symbols are the words, "A miracle happens here." Another scientist suggests, "Maybe you could give us a little more detail on that middle section." Relying on miracles in science is like relying on the lottery in retirement planning.

The difference, of course, is that relying on the lottery is far more certain.

[1] I am open to counterexamples.
[2] Ctrl-f for "religiosity".

Posted by duende at 03:21 PM | | TrackBack


Girl Genius?

12-Year-Old Who Scored Perfect SAT Score Wants To Remain A `Regular' Kid. Excerpt:


When Vinodhini (Vino) Vasudevan says she wants to keep away from the media, many people are surprised

How can the first 12-year-old to score a perfect 1,600 on the SAT want to keep away from the media, many wonder. The test is conducted for gifted children by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Of the 600,000 gifted seventh- and eighth-graders the program has tracked through two decades, Vino is the first to earn perfect scores on both the math and verbal portions of the college-admissions test, said Claudia Burns, program coordinator.


I bold-faced the name because it looks to be non-Brahmin to me. Anyone got a clue? This guy has the same surname, and he is a Nair from Kerala (a high status Sudra, #2 in the pecking order in Kerala after the Namboothiri Brahmins).

Godless: thread on Indian names here.

Posted by razib at 12:16 AM | | TrackBack

July 21, 2003



Proto-ubermensch?

I have alluded to a "transnational" post-ethnic elite before on this blog. This is a microcosm of what I mean (from The Washington Post). Some relevant excerpts:


There is also a class element to the new mobility. The young Europeans who are relocating are most likely to be the university-educated elite, not factory workers or farmers.
....
Stubb said the total number of people moving is small, perhaps 2 percent of the EU's workforce. "It's nice for a journalist, an academic or a Eurocrat," he said, using the slang term for the EU's international civil servants. "But it's not that nice for a construction worker. . . . It's not very easy if you are a farmer in Poland just to leave your farm."
....
It was an Italian who said, somewhat derisively, that the new Europe would be created sexually. What he meant was that open borders would lead to more cross-border relationships, and over time national boundaries would have less meaning.

Caroline Soole, an energetic 25-year-old with short blond hair, is a living example of that.

Soole's mother is French and her father English. But her father is himself ethnically half-Danish. She grew up in France, and considers herself French. But she said, "I have this strong French culture, but I have this northern culture, which is English."

Soole was born in the French Alps, where her maternal grandparents -- of Portuguese-Jewish background -- imbued her with a strong sense of French culture. But she went to London as an adolescent and ended up in an international school. "I really liked being in an international culture," she said. "I think that was a turning point. Before, I was really French."


Of course, intra-European mingling is an order of magnitude below what I speak of, but just project the scale upward as transportation costs decline and globalization progresses. I worry about the possibility of co-existance between this new class of post-national mult-ethnic individuals and the old nationalist elites that emerged out of the French Revolution and its aftermath, not to mention the tension with the mass of lumpen that form the bedrock of a social organism.

Update from Godless:

Steve Sailer (and several others) have also voiced such concerns, albeit with a more US centric view. See here.

It's interesting to speculate on the future of intermarriage in America. Marriages are increasingly likely to be between people of different ethnic groups but of similar IQ's, and there's no reason to assume this trend will stop. America's obsession with sending everybody to college means that young people get sorted by SAT score (i.e., IQ) when they're at their most romantic. Therefore, it's quite possible that the top dogs in America will in future generations look different than they do now, but they probably won't look much like the future underdogs, either. If we were to halt immigration now, continuing intermarriage along IQ lines might in many generations lead to the country being run by an IQ overclass of mostly "Jeurasians" (i.e., a genetic blend of the smarter European gentiles, Jews, East Asians, South Asians, Armenians, and possibly other Middle Easterners). In contrast, the lower ranks might consist largely of "Redblex": a rather lumpy partial blend of redneck whites, blacks, and Mexicans.

Of course, continued immigration slows genetic and cultural assimilation. For example, right now Japanese-Americans are fading into Eurasians because of the decline in immigration from Japan (since there are no terribly poor people left in Japan) and their very high rate of intermarriage with whites (especially for Japanese-American women). Chinese-Americans, in contrast, can be expected to remain a distinct ethnic group for several generations more (despite a high rate of intermarriage), since there is no imminent shortage of poor Chinese desperate to come to America.

The Jews are another interesting case to speculate about. The next generation of the "IQ elite" (e.g., Ivy Leaguers or lawyers or media figures or frequent flyers or whatever category you think representative) may well have a lower percentage of pure Jews ... but a higher percentage of part-Jews, as intermarriage between Jews and smart gentiles continues.

Would this mean the non-violent extinction of Jews (except for the Orthodox)?Possibly, but it might also imply that America's overclass would become even more dominated by Jewish attitudes, e.g., Hitler-obsession (which has played
such a major role in influencing the views on the Balkans of our Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser, and their colleagues). In the future most highly articulate white Americans will be related to Jews by genes or marriage, which no doubt will impact what views are popular in society (even more than today, when a Marlon Brando is automatically excoriated for saying that Jews have lots of power in Hollywood!)

For an extreme example of how pro-Semitism can come about within an individual merely through genes alone, consider me. Although I'm Catholic, I became very pro-Semitic at the age of 13 when my powers of logic kicked in(and my hair turned curly). I quickly noticed that a high percentage of the thinkers I either agreed with (e.g., Milton Friedman) or whom I considered it a worthy challenge to argue against were Jewish. Since I was adopted, a few years later I concluded that it was likely that I was half-Jewish biologically, (which indeed appears to be the case based on evidence my wife dug up when I was 30). It's important to understand the chain of causation: having a very Jewish-style brain (e.g., enjoying logical argument), I sought out the best logical arguers to read, very many of whom were Jewish. (You may object that my political views today don't sound much like those of the majority of American Jews, but I was enormously influenced by Jewish neoconservatives in the 1970s and 1980s. Having gone to some lengths to expose myself to Jewish thinkers (not because they were Jewish per se, but because those who most stimulated my kind of mind more than writers from other ethnic groups), I absorbed from them a lot of typically Jewish political stances: e.g., pro-Israel and pro-immigration.

Now, my pro-Semitism came about even though I was being raised in my (adoptive) family, which has no Jewish relatives, and, in fact, has a slight anti-Semitic mindset. (I realize my case is only a single data point, so I recommend somebody conduct a formal adoption study of Jews and part-Jews adopted by gentile families.) In the future, however, most children of the IQ elite will have Jews in their extended relatives, which will make my kind of pro-Semitism even more widespread in the future.

I thought the coinage of "Jeurasians" and "Redblex" was quite clever.

Posted by razib at 11:52 PM | | TrackBack


Making the cognitive elite redundant?

This article in The New York Times titled "I.B.M. Explores Shift of White-Collar Jobs Overseas" no doubt sends shivers down the backs of every worker-bee in the IT sector. There are a few things to address here.

* Now college educated people understand the rage that blue-collar workers who expected lifetime employment at $45,000-60,000 a year felt as they saw their jobs moved overseas.

* This seems to be a modified version of what Paul Krugman spoke of in Peddling Prosperity when he asserted knowledge workers could be made redundant by computers while cooks & janitors will always be needed because of the lack of progress in robotics. The difference is that these knowledge workers aren't being replaced by computers, but rather instantaneous communication and radically lowered barriers to cooperation because of IT has made American workers expendable when faced with cheap foreign knowledge workers. In contrast, cooks and janitors are still around and not being exported overseas, but, humans from overseas (or across the Rio Grande) are now filling those positions.

Personally, I think that the pendulum will swing back from outsourcing all the high level development and architecture when the limitations of technology and intercultural communications over 6,000 miles become apparent. Additionally, the social & personal element still exists when a group of programmers collaborates, and that is hard to come by if they are scattered across the four corners of the earth (of course, until we have realistic VR technology). Until the expectation and reality re-equilibriate, it's going to be kind of painful for IT workers in the US.

Related article in The American Conservative.

Godless comments:

"Increased global trade was supposed to lead to better jobs and higher standards of living," said Donald A. Manzullo, an Illinois Republican who is the committee chairman. "The assumption was that while lower-skilled jobs would be done elsewhere, it would allow Americans to focus on higher-skilled, higher-paying opportunities. But , what do you tell the Ph.D., or professional engineer, or architect, or accountant, or computer scientist to do next? Where do you tell them to go?"

You tell them to start their own company, is what you do! Are these highly trained guys all wage slaves? I thought they were smart and creative...interest rates are at an all time low, and now is the time to bootstrap a new company.

Posted by razib at 11:14 PM | | TrackBack


Asians/Asian-Americans & sports & marriage

Eric Lien of Mixed Asian has a trifecta of interesting posts. First, the racial breakdown of sports participation in Malaysia. Then, two articles address the "Asian marriage gap," here & here (the backstory here is that an Asian-American activist is disputing Steve Sailer's interpretation and explanation of interracial marriage statistics that he first elaborated in his article Is Love Colorblind?).

Posted by razib at 06:55 PM | | TrackBack


Apostates

Ibn Warraq has a new book, Leaving Islam. Andrew Boston has a review over at Frontpage Magazine. Check out Warraq's site, Secular Islam, if you are interested in the ex-Muslim movement.

Posted by razib at 09:50 AM | | TrackBack


Racial identity and cognitive dissonance

I'm currently reading Hitler's Jewish soldiers, an important and disturbing book I've blogged about before but hadn't actually been able to get hold of until now (I bought a copy at Waterstone's, an excellent book store chain here in London). This work fascinates me as much for its study of human psychology and as a work that really fits as much into that misused term 'cultural studies' as it does into military history. The book examines the plight of the 'Mischlinge' ('partial Jews') who served in the German military during Hitler's reign. Why did they do it? [1] Apparently because of one or more of these motives

1) Some were themselves anti-semitic, Nazi supporters and strong German nationalists who were unaware of their Jewish ancestry until the Nuremberg laws brought it to their attention - ironically in some cases this was because the Jewish parent or grandparent was of Orthodox background and had become cut off from their community after marrying Goyim
2) Some were aware of their Jewish ancestry and had some concern for their relatives but were proud patriots, probably mildly culturally anti-semitic, and took the view of 'my country, right or wrong'. Some may even have had Nazi sympathies, and were unaware, at least initially, of the depth of the Nazi agenda, tending to project their own cultural nationalist beliefs into it rather than the essentialist-racist agenda that Nazism really was.
This attitude was in fact also not uncommon among the more conservative, assimilated Jews who thought that the 'Eastern Jews' streaming in from Poland and elsewhere were giving German Jews a bad reputation because of their alien ways. For instance, the book documents that the prominent leader of the right wing nationalist Jews, Dr Max Naumann, wrote to Hitler to urge him to deport the 'Eastern Jews' from Germany.
A more extreme and almost perverse version of this distinction was held by the interesting and contradictory character, Wilhelm Kube, a loyal Nazi governor who had no problem sending Eastern Jews to their death in concentration camps but who, in a strange display of moral courage. started protesting to his superiors when he discovered that German Jews were also being exterminated - he thought that this was wrong because the latter were 'culturally German' and therefore no longer subhuman.
3) Some were aware of their Jewish ancestry and heritage, identified with the heritage and were deeply concerned about their relatives. They thought that the best way to protect their family was to demonstrate their 'deservingness' by serving with distinction in the army and therefore obtaining exemptions for their family.

There are some truly fascinating and in some cases chilling case studies and anecdotes reported in this book. I was particularly interested in the cognitive dissonance that many of these Mischlinge and their relatives had to get used to living in those insane times. These people were in an awkward position, being caught between two worlds (they were rejected by the Jewish community too who thought they had forsaken their heritage by 'sucking up' to the German side and then only turning to them when there was trouble). For instance, the book relates the case of one half-Jewish soldier, Rolf von Sydow, who writes after watching the anti-semitic Nazi propaganda film Jud Suss:


This film doesn't characterise me at all. I'm not a Jew. I don't go to synagogue ... I don't betray other people ... I don't look Jewish. I'm from the aristocracy ... I'm better than the others ... I hate my grandparents because they're guilty. I hate my friends because they're Aryans. I hate the world. I hate myself.

Some Mischlinge were driven to overcompensate because of propaganda about their inferiority:


Young Mischlinge tried hard to excel, particularly in athletics. Hans-Geert Falkenberg taught at school that Mischlinge and Jews were inferior. In response he 'compensated ... I was the best long distance runner, the best boxer, the best swimmer, the best goalie ... Not because I was a natural athlete; only to prove that everything they taught was absolute nonsense'


The family dynamics this situation created was at times unique, to say the least. The book reports the case of Dieter Bergmann, a Mischlinge who had a Nazi aunt. The aunt wrote to him as follows:


My dear boy, I think people like you must be exterminated if our fatherland is to remain pure and victorious against the Marxist-Jewish conspiracy. Sorry, my dear boy. You know I love you.

Another Mischlinge, Hans-Geert Falkenberg, tells his Nazi godmother that his Jewish grandmother got deported to the east. When the Nazi godmother asks him why he didn't tell her this earlier, he simply says it's because she is a Nazi to which she replies:


Geert, naturally I believe that the Jews are Germany's misfortune, but that has nothing to do with Grandma.

The book makes the surprising discovery that most of the Mischlinge studied had the sympathies of both their comrades and superiors when their ancestry came to light [2]. Some of these comrades and superiors even went as far as to cover up the ancestry of valued Mischlinge soldiers. These military men were by no means racial liberals [3] and were mostly culturally anti-semitic but apparently did not care less in the case of Mischlinge who were as German as the average guy. Most of them probably would have agreed with the conservative Hindenburg's more 'middle of the road' antisemitism which recommended treating all Jews except those who served in the army as second-class citizens. Hitler apparently held back on his radicalism in this area until he felt he no longer needed the support of Hindenburg conservatives which was why the Mischlinge policy waxed and waned over time.

[1] Military policy with regard to the Mischlinge waxed and waned according to Hitler's moods. Initially at the start of the war, the Mischlinge were drafted into the army on condition that they would never attain higher rank regardless of their achievement. Later Hitler ordered all Mischlinge to be discharged subject to an exemptions policy that was based on personal references. Later still when the 'final solution' was being discussed, the absurd position was formulated that quarter Jews and half Jews who served the army would, after the end of the war, be 'Aryanised' but that the half Jew veterans, in common with other half Jews would be sterilised. In light of these circumstances which meant that at least for some period of time the Mischinge had no choice but to serve, my question is addressed to the cases of those Mischlinge who were keen to serve from the very beginning and who subsequently did all they could to avoid being discharged.
[2] There were a few notable exceptions like the extreme case of one whose Officer pulled out a gun and shot him the moment he filled out his ancestry form and ticked the 'wrong' box, but this was outnumbered by the number of cases of sympathy, even in one case of a superior who broke into tears when he saw the Mischlinge ticking the 'wrong' box.
[3] As evidenced by the fact that these same comrades had no qualms bullying 'ghetto Jews' found in areas of conquest, destroying their synagogues and cutting off their beards. However, it was apparent that many of these military men themselves, like most cognitive elites, had Jewish relations whether by business or marriage. Indeed many of the Junker aristocracy had Jewish blood in their veins because of classic 'Establishment-New Money' marriage alliances (e.g. many of these Mischlinge had 'Vons' in their names). They would probably have found it galling that the real Untermenschen, Hitler, a failed artist and ex-flophouse resident with a history of mental retardation and insanity in his family, would impose such indignities on their valued comrades in arms, and in some cases, relatives.

Posted by jason_s at 01:38 AM | | TrackBack


The Shia of Turkey

The CIA FACTBOOK entry on Turkey states that it is "99.8% Muslim (mostly Sunni)." Most surveys of Turkish Islam that the public is aware of give the impression that Turkish Islam is Sunni Islam, specifically of the Hanafi tradition promoted by the Ottomans, which is also dominant in central & south Asia. But go to the Area Handbook of Turkey and you will find out about the Alevi, a heterodox Shia sect that forms anywhere from 10-30% of Turkey's population, and is known as the "Alawites" in Syria (where they form 10% of the population and dominate the Baath Party and are the affiliation of Assad dynasty). Because of the Alevi practice dissimulation and the Turkish authorities, Ottoman & Republican, would rather not acknowledge their existence, it is hard to gauge their numbers, and they are not well known by the outside world. But now you know....

Posted by razib at 01:01 AM | | TrackBack

July 20, 2003



Survival of the palest....
Posted by razib at 05:57 PM | | TrackBack


Defender of the unfaith

Interesting opinion from an atheist who defends the Church of England as a potent force for secularism. The nutshell of the argument is that the C of E acts as a vaccine against more virulent forms of religion. Christopher Hitchens once expressed similar opinions in Freethought Today. Until recently all of Scandinavia had state supported churches (Sweden disestablished in 2000), while Germany and The Netherlands give financial support to prominent religious denomenations [1]. None of these countries is known for its piety (40% of Dutch are "Nothing," 25% of Germans are explicitly "confessionless," while Lutheran churches in Scandinavia are rather empty on a usual Sunday). Of course other European nations, France prominently, that have high walls of separation between church & state are also irreligous in the main, so it is hard to find a pattern.

But some theorists of religion (Rodney Stark) have long argued that a competitive religious marketplace, such as the United States, is an important factor in the observance and zeal of a population. Though there might be something to this, there are nations such as Japan that have an open marketplace and many small new religious movements, and yet remain rather secular (South Korea is an example of a nation where this thesis seems valid, but one must remember that at least 45% of South Koreans are not religiously affiliated). So I am not going to advocate an established church for the United States anytime soon....

[1] The fundamentalist/traditionalist Protestant churches in Germany who do not recieve state support are termed "The Free Churches."

Posted by razib at 04:14 PM | | TrackBack