A Brave New World? Bah!

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Imagine a thought experiment. Population A and population B are defined as two groups with 100 individuals. They live in a village together. Population A has an average IQ of 115 while population B has an average IQ of 100. Both have a normal distribution.

Would it be reasonable to assert that if one was restricted to having to pick a leader at random from one of the two groups one would pick the individual from A? But would it not also be reasonable to wonder if it might not be more rational to look at each individual from both populations and note who might be the best leader and allow the village vote?

Not too controversial, no? But over at Unmedia that is what Ikram Saeed seems to believe when he says:

If you (and Sailer, and the _Bell Curve_ acolytes, etc) are right, oughtn’t you argue for a _Brave New World_ type societal hierarchy? I haven’t seen your blog answer the really interesting questions it raises.

I have answered questions more rudely put in this vein on my old blog. Let me reiterate, Suman is not the only libertarian on this blog! I have been a long-term reader of Lew Rockwell and Reason. I am a broad-church libertarian. Where freedom is an option, let that be I always say. Over the years I have pulled back from my flirtation with anarcho-capitalism and my longer affiliation with minarchism. My adherence to Natural Rights has given way to a more utilitarian, even Rawlsian, view of society (informed in large part by evolutionary psychology and Hume).

Is does not = ought. Both the Left and the Right seem to forget this when their conservative strain comes to the fore. Knowledge is dangerous to the established order. Perhaps. But knowledge always finds a way to see the light and expose frauds for what they are. I favor genetic engineering and information technology because I believe the arrow of civilization points in that direction-we must ride the tiger, lest humanity’s dance with progress falter.

Whether race realism, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, etc. have any validity as empirically verifiable theories, my personal politics remain libertarian. I call myself conservative for two reasons: 1) the American Left tends to see the world as here or there, with us or against us, 2) I abhor multiculturalism and the debasement of the hard-won freedoms of the West in homage to the communitarianism of the post-Modern Left. Guilt is no basis for justice and history is no excuse for tyranny.

A “Brave New World” is not contingent on race realism (the controversial “science” that Mr. Saeed seems to be pointing to). It is contingent on some hard-wiring of human facilities via biology, whether it be through genetic or developmental modes. Psychologists generally do accept that some portion of intelligence (g) is genetically inherited, some portion developmentally influenced and some portion environmentally modified. If the state, ne the Leviathan, so wills it, the stratification of castes, alphas to zetas, is possible today even if all races are equal in aptitudes.

Conversely, let us wander the fields of Rawlsianism, the realm of what Thomas Sowell would term “Cosmic Justice.” Humans are not responsible for what endowments they are born with. So goes the theory, behind the veil of ignorance, they would choose a particular (moderately liberal redistributionist with a respect for basic rights) political order. Behind the “veil of ignorance” we are all without race, without caste, class or creed. Like Christianity, Rawlsianism implies that those endowed with greater aptitudes and abilities use them to advance the good of the community as well as their individual preferences.

My espousal of race realism leaves me open to the possibility that East Asians have higher IQs than other human populations. Does that imply I believe that the former have a right to rule the latter? Of course not. High g is no guarantee of liberty, and low g is no block on decency. I might generalize what behaviors a person of high or low g might be prone to, but individuals are individuals [1]. Newtonian mechanics is good science on human scales, but on the level of an individual atom or molecule it collapses. Likewise, we must never forget that individuals do matter-and that the great foundational triumph of liberalism was to halt history in its tracks and turn toward the future and declare that the individual matters as an end in and of itself. History teaches lessons, but not always ones that we must emulate. Similarly, if there is one thing that the 20th century has taught, let us be careful before we declare what the obvious implications of any scientific finding are.

My personal understanding of Human Biodiversity gives me a different perspective on specific issues, because those issues are undergirded by assumptions, most often the axiom of equality. As a libertarian I have a skepticism of social engineering, and Human Biodiversity is a tool in my kit to attack that particular tendency. I do believe human beings are different essentially, that races on average are different essentially. I speak of these things because only a few others will.

But in the end, I will admit, that essentially we are all equal under the eyes of the Law (and God(s) if you so believe). To give ground to realism does not mean abondaning your idealism.

[1] Individuals of low g are more criminally prone. But I don’t believe it is because they are essentially without empathy or moral sense. I think that is more of an issue of an inability to judge rationally the consequences of decisions and impulse control. In addition, these individuals are more likely to be put in a situation where the cost vs. benefit of crime seems more rational because of low socio-economic status.

Update: The old blog software was messed up by the server transfer. Most of the posts can be found here.


  1. Perhaps this is a little off-topic…

    It often seems conservatives dislike the U.S as much as leftists, yet they are never accused of being “Anti-American”

    Conservatives that ‘abhor’ multiculturalism are a good example of this; despite their obvious dislike of American culture and politics they’re still reguarded as patriots.

  2. Off topic:

    Razib, what happen with your previous posts??

  3. N: the British-style old conservatives are proudly anti-American.

    Razib: yeah! where’s the rest of you?

  4. N, there are different kinds.

    I’m not much of a social conservative-the type that inveighs against pop culture and what not. Rather, I suscribe to REASON magazine’s idea of plentitude.

    Multiculturalism is a facet of our society-and generally honored symbolically more than in substance-but that is changing. Most Americans do not “practice” multiculturalism.

    As far as the issue about patriotism-that did happen to conservatives like Falwell and Robertson after 9/11. It seems OK to attack American culture, just don’t contrast it with someone else or say that it “had it coming”-which is what Leftists tend to do when contrasting the US with Europe or back in the old days the Socialist Utopia.

  5. To think a little about your thought experiment, why would the random choice from the higher g group necessarily be the better strategy? Only if other traits are held constant would it make more sense. But suppose the high-g group were more short, ugly, introverted and prone to mental illness? This would make the random choice option more interesting because now you’re essentially optimizing a far more complex problem.

    Before, choosing a leader at random was simple – choose from the higher-g group. But in reality, we want as a leader a person encompassing many traits, of which g is only one of them. Hoover, Nixon and Carter were all considered exceptionally bright, but none were very successful presidents, while Truman and Reagan were relative dunces, but reasonably good presidents.

    So leadership as a quality is a far more complex equation. Something like L=f(q1,q2,…qn); where the q’s are various “qualities”, whatever they are. Now, no one in his right mind (and some of us who are decidedly not of right mind) should attempt to actually define a function for leadership. This is probably why leadership is seen as a quality in and of itself – the equation is too damn complex for our brains to actually solve.

    I think humans have tendency to reduce complex phenomenon to simple problems so that our brains can grind out a rough solution. That’s why people have a tendency to vote along party lines without putting much thought into who they actually vote for. Personally, I never vote for anyone with an Irish name.

  6. “But suppose the high-g group were more short, ugly, introverted and prone to mental illness?”

    Steve, you’ve been crashing my family reunions, haven’t you?

  7. well steve,

    i tend to follow the maxim that the best leaders are mildly bright and highly personable. so i tend to agree with you. that is also part of the reason that i do not subscribe to a “Brave New World Technocracy.”

  8. Hey – who’s calling Truman a dunce? Sure, he never went to college, but I’d consider him to be one of our more (self-)educated presidents. Of course, estimating IQ’s of historical figures is a fool’s game, but based on what I know of his bio, I’d say that Truman was a realatively high-IQ individual who was not given the opportunities early in life to persue an education, but who found his niche later in life.

    I’ll give you Reagan, though…

  9. I’m not convinced Hoover, Nixon, OR Carter were particularly bad leaders. Regardless, it seems to me that social skills matter more for attaining power than g does, but g is probably more important once you are in the office. On the other hand, very high g is almost definitely linked to a number of undesirable traits, especially hubris. Someone who recognizes his own ignorance is essential regardless of what their g may be. Frankly, presidents who stay within their constitutional powers simply aren’t that powerful.

  10. it has been noted that legislative leaders tend not to be the brightest, because those types tend to rub their envious fellows the wrong way. i suspect the same goes for executive leaders. even though al gore and george bush are about the same intelligence (bush got a 1200 on the SAT, gore a 1300something-both were mediocre students as far as grades go)-bush *seemed* dumber. similarly, though carter and clinton probably had the same IQ-carter the geek (nuclear engineering) was far less appealing than clinton the humanist (history & law). the fact that clinton liked trailer trash and desparate sluts also made him seem less intelligent-or at least less driven by the mind.

  11. According to the stats given here: http://members.shaw.ca/delajara/oldSATIQ.html there’s about a 1 SD difference in IQ between a score of 1200 and 1300 on the SAT.

  12. Seems to me that Razib’s lengthy rationalizations always lead to the same conclusions. He believes some people (whites, who he virtually worships) are better than others. He assigns Africans and African-Americans the lowest positions in his hierarchy, claiming they are less intelligent than whites and Asians. However, there is no scientifically accepted support for his claims. So, what we have is an individual (Razib) latching on to long discredited ‘scientific’ racism to try to justify his personal hatred of dark-skinned people (likely including himself). Razib’s views tell us a lot about Razib’s sad mental state, but nothing else.

  13. If you’d bothered to read the archive, Razib has mentioned that he thinks color is an inadequate way to describe race. I don’t want to speak for Razib, but I don’t believe that he hates anyone.

  14. ‘Genetic realism’ is basically a call for, at the very least, ‘benign neglect’ of people of color on the grounds they are inferior, at the most, genocide against them. (Which Razib recently expressed a desire for in Southern Africa.) Razib lies so much that he may confuse a not at all bright person like you, Duncie. However, anyone who has observed and seen through his obfuscations knows he hates people of color, including himself.

  15. Amusing that someone calling themselves “Truth Teller” tells so many lies about Razib’s expressed philosophies. Razib has posted a large mass of writings here, none of which contain anything like what Truth Teller attempts to put in Razib’s mouth.