EDAR again

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There have been a number of posts on this site regarding EDAR–in summary, a non-synonymous SNP has swept up to high frequency in East Asian populations via positive selection, and appears to account for some variation in hair form. The evidence for function in hair form comes largely from an association study on hair thickness. Now add a mouse model to the evidence:

We show that elevation of Edar activity in transgenic mice converts their hair phenotype to the typical East Asian morphology. The coat texture becomes coarse, with straightening and thickening of individual hairs and conversion of fiber cross-sectional profile to a circular form. These thick hair fibers are produced by enlarged hair follicles, which in turn develop from enlarged embryonic organ primordia. This work shows that the multiple differences in hair form between East Asian and other human populations can be explained by the simplest of genetic alterations.

On the right is a wild-type mouse, contrasted with the “Asian” mouse. The mechanism by which this works is kind of intriguing–apparently the substitution in EDAR leads to increased signaling via NFkB, but it’s an open question (both in this case and more generally) how the modification of the activity of a transcription factor leads to phenotypic changes at the level of an organism.

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100 Comments

  1. EDAR expression levels also affect teeth. I wonder if this causes the ‘shovel shaped incisor’ thing? 
    “The activation level of the TNF family receptor, Edar, determines cusp number and tooth number during tooth development” 
    Developmental Biology Volume: 268, Issue: 1, April 1, 2004, pp. 185-194 
    Tucker, A.S.; Headon, D.J.; Courtney, J.-M.; Overbeek, P.; Sharpe, P.T.

  2. I suspect EDAR does not cause shoveling, if only because that particular tooth form is also somewhat common in certain African populations which don’t have the widened hair form. (my second son, for example, has shoveled incisors, and yet his hair is both curlier and visibly smaller in cross-section than his older brother who lacks this dental trait.) I’d be curious to see if EDAR played some role in the sino/suno dental divide among East Asians.

  3. With EDAR and the recent Zebrafish skin color (SLC something) story, it’s more and more apparent that *natural variants* really do seem to have a fighting chance of having the same effects across extremely large distances in genetic background.  
     
    So it’s going to be some CRAZY shiznit when someone starts doing mouse behavioral phenotyping on transgenic mice incorporating variants that’re specific to particular populations. Imagine once you start finding signal for behaviors other than intelligence…aggression, extraversion…craaaazy shiznit.  
     
    …Actually, it might be worth taking some bets.  
    A spectre is haunting the NYT.  
     
    What’s going to be the final stake through the heart, if any? I’ve arranged upcoming developments in increasing levels of unambiguity. Add your own.  
     
    a) Geno/pheno study mapping variants between groups (unlikely to be the final word b/c of noisiness/reproducibility — easily demagoguged) 
     
    b) Molecular genetic followup of geno/pheno, showing alterations in cell-level phenomena — neurotransmitters, synaptic cleft etc. as function of alleles 
     
    c) Piling on w/ Human Brain Atlas…assay 3D brain morphology alterations and 4D fMRI variation as function of alleles 
     
    d) Controlled prospective study: take brain scans and genome data at birth, w/ phenotypic variables predicted on basis of retrospective regressions. For completeness, throw in every fruitless intervention Obama and co. can think of and *still* show that DNA is destiny.  
     
    e) Drug or other treatment to partially mimic IQ boosting allele effects.  
     
    f) Other and/or combination of the above?  
     
    Thinking about this now, I think that once the first between-population variants are found…it could well become a feeding frenzy as people start to realize that they could make it into the history books. Already I’m seeing a ton of people in genomics just blithely shrugging off “race does not exist” and doing stuff with ancestry determination…as if they *weren’t* repeating it as dogma just 5 years ago!

  4. always so combative :) 
     
    if you hold the distributions of some environmental variables constant (typical diets, exposures to pathogens, etc.), you’d probably be able to (or rather will, in the future, be able to) prospectively predict the population distribution of a number of traits based on DNA alone (ie. X% of the population will get type I diabetes if triggered by a pathogen, Y% of the population will be exposed to said pathogen, thus it’s simple in this model to derive the fraction of the population that will develop type I diabetes).  
     
    But you know, of course, that when people say “DNA is not destiny”, many mean the resolution with which you can predict the precise position of a given individual in any such distribution is limited–random noise is still important for most traits (ie. there’s a limit to how well you can predict whether any given individual will be exposed to the pathogen and thus develop type I diabetes), perhaps very important for the ones (personality, intelligence, etc) you mention.  
     
    imagine having constructed a model for the prediction of height (or weight, or perhaps IQ) 50 years ago (assuming perfect knowledge of the genetics). if you’d applied it, you’d have likely been way off, in a systematic way.

  5. DNA is not destiny for IQ. Even those who argue for the most hereditarian interpretation of the current data argue for a 50 to 80 percent heritability.  
     
    gc’s comment isn’t just combative, it’s mildly disturbing (what should i expect, browsing internet comments, though..). he seems to take joy in the idea of genetic determinism… what kind of wacky political views does one have to have to gleefully anticipate the evidence for such a view?

  6. He can’t help it. Born that way.

  7. DNA is not destiny… genetic determinism 
     
    For a large number of desirable traits, the fraction of phenotypic variance attributable to non-genetic factors is predominantly non-shared, so it’s not clear that these traits (e.g. IQ) are really malleable in an upwards direction in normal environments. So if you have to choose between h^2 and e^2, I’d rather have higher h^2 — at least that means the underlying causal factors can be dissected with genetic studies. 
     
    It’s also not clear how the apportionment of variance into h^2 rather than c^2 or e^2 has much of an implication for malleability. My (in)ability to learn Chinese is due entirely to early childhood experiences and is completely irremediable. That’s some potent environmental determinism. Likewise, wealth is largely transmitted non-genetically (last time I looked at the studies on this). Maybe if it were there would be more regression to the mean and greater equality.

  8. @GCochran 
     
    How important do you think that hormones are when it comes to human behaviour, is it really just IQ & hormones?

  9. Wow, this comments section strayed a long way from hair form– but at least it went in some interesting directions.  
     
    GC, you should go into science fiction. I mean that as a compliment, by the way, and I know about that which I speak. You have some interesting ideas. 
     
    In terms of most quantatative traits such as IQ, (or height, or whatever) I think it’s pretty clear that genetics sets the bar for a maximum potential, and then the environment chips away at that. I’m 5’11″; could I have hit six foot if I’d been fed vitamins and cheeseburgers my whole life? Maybe. Could I have hit six-foot-six? Not a chance. I’m sure IQ works the same. (And by that, I mean eating cheeseburgers increases IQ. Okay, not really.)  
     
    The genetics of the mind is an interesting subject, and population genetics is an interesting subject; and both together become somewhat disturbing. (Unless you happen to be Korean or Ashkenazi, in which case you’re thinking, holy cow, I’ve won the brain gene lottery)

  10. I told a friend that they could breed spikey haired “Japanamice” now, and his first resposne was “I want one!” His second response was, “They should make them run mazes and see if they do better than the normal mice.” Ha!

  11. DNA is destiny.  
     
    Let me be more precise, as my somewhat tongue in cheek comments may otherwise be misinterpreted :) 
     
    DNA is *statistical* destiny. Some preliminaries follow, which p-ter, gcochran, and others will surely yawn at, but which will make my position clear.  
     
    1) When I say DNA is *statistical* destiny, any individual may of course deviate from the mode(s) of the distribution. Furthermore, depending on the dimension of the vector space and the associated covariance matrix, it may actually be that the vast majority of data points are *not* near the mean — it’s well known that points sampled from a high-D Gaussian tend to be concentrated in a ellipsoidal shell (see e.g. ref. 7), i.e. *away* from the mean/mode, because the volume of a high dimensional hyperellipsoid grows very rapidly with radius.  
     
    2) One potentially relevant example of such a high dimensional vector space is the vector of all measurements on a person (height, weight, bone density, etc.) — though the significant inter-measurement correlation will mean that these will lie on a degenerate manifold in this high-D space.  
     
    3) So it’s an empirical question as to just how high the dimension of this phenotype space truly is. That study which recapitulated an approximate map of Europe from Affy 500k data would seem to indicate that the underlying dimensionality of a fair number of traits would be two. That is, given two upstream variables — namely the latitude & longitude of your recent ancestors — you can probably get a fair amount of predictive power for a number of phenotypes right there.  
     
    4) Thus, with all these preliminaries, in what sense is DNA statistical destiny? Simply this:  
     
    a) any individual may deviate from a population mean 
     
    b) the likely extent of this deviation depends on the (to be empirically determined) dimensionality of the phenotype space & the inter-phenotype correlations. Quantifying the extent of the likely deviation on any given trait or trait combination is TBD — until it’s done, we can’t say to what extent point a) is actually correct [i.e. is it just feel-good boilerplate or quantitatively meaningful?].  
     
    c) however, even given this deviation, a large enough representative *sample* from the population will exhibit the traits of the distribution with high probability.  
     
    d) In fact, given an empirical distribution for phenotype space, you can make statements like “there is a less than 1% probability that a random sample of this group will have an average trait X value greater than 85 *and* an average trait Y value less than 72″. As Papoulis notes in the preface (great book btw), this is ultimately what probability is all about. You can’t say for certain whether a coin will land heads or tails, but you *can* say for certain that the number of heads in 1 million tosses of a fair coin will be between [498500,501500] with a .99 probability.  
     
    Point: at the population or distribution level, probabilistic statements become deterministic. Select 10000 men and 10000 women at random from the population, and the mean height of the men will be greater than the mean height of the women with extremely high probability (to work it out, note that the distribution of the difference between male & female sample means is a difference of normals and is itself normal; one need then only evaluate the probability that this difference is negative rather than positive).  
     
    So: DNA *is* statistical destiny. Given appropriate geno/pheno regression equations, it allows one to make pretty deterministic statements about the fates — and relative fates — of populations. When you’re talking about policy decisions, that’s important.

  12. That is a well-constructed argument.

  13. destiny is just the wrong word to be using whether its “statistical destiny” or whatever.. if i understand you correctly you’re basically saying that group averages are determined by genes (and the rest, you seem to suggest, is within-group variance and random noise.. no real mention of significant group environmental differences between groups..)… 
     
    what i was really wondering/interested,in though was why you (and seemingly several others who frequent this area of the blogosphere) seem to take joy in such a scenario and the crushing of egalitarian dreams. it undermines both liberal and conservative visions of society. are you some modern disciple of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche who embraces pessimism and the natural conquest of the strong over the weak? perhaps im reading too much into this (that’s a habit of mine).. maybe this is just an understandable reactionary response to a stifling liberal media landscape. even allowing for that, i’m still kind of confused though, by a worldview which views the New York Times or NPR or egalitarians in general as public enemy #1

  14. ” …are you some modern disciple of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche… ?” 
     
    It’s just the scientific method. Remove all bias from truth. None of this liberal or conservative ‘truthiness’

  15. what i was really wondering/interested,in though was why you (and seemingly several others who frequent this area of the blogosphere) seem to take joy in such a scenario and the crushing of egalitarian dreams  
     
    Well, I look at it like this.  
     
    A society which prohibits usury will never invent capitalism. 
    A society which maintains geocentrism will never invent satellites.  
    A society which believes creationism will never invent molecular phylogenetics.  
    And a society which denies that DNA influences behavior will never understand the human genome.  
     
    Holy lies always seem more important than truth when millions upon millions believe in them and are comforted by them — but we have an affirmative duty to puncture them. In the short run a Western society which accepts these conclusions will most certainly have to reshape itself, as every institution of importance — from Harvard to the EEOC, from Live Aid to MTV — has human neurological uniformity as its core doctrine. Yet this doctrine is already known to be false:  
     
    …at around 2 minutes & 40 seconds, when the interviewer asks about the contrasts in the multi-nation survey, Dr. John Maziotta responds that there are “…differences between Asian brains and European brains…brains in Asian populations tend to be spherical…European brains tend to be more elongated…this must be some aspect of evolution and how the genetics of the brain determine its shape and structure….” 
     
    That quote is from five years back, by the way. The Human Brain Atlas has progressed considerably since then; as with the human genome, after the original determination of the mean/consensus sequence, we’re now onto the variation — the human variation.  
     
    Point: the work of multiple disciplines is converging. There are many, many breaches in the dike — from population genetics to neuroscience, from psychometrics to pharmacogenomics — that will soon bring a 100-year flood. I suggest only that one may wish to find intellectual high ground now.  
     
    For in the long run, a failure to accept the conclusions of science because of “moral” concerns guarantees backwardness while everyone else races ahead. It’s obvious, perhaps, but Europe circa Galileo had moral concerns about the “arrogance” of heliocentrism, America circa Darwin (still) has moral concerns about the “aridity” of evolution, and the USSR circa 1987 had moral concerns about the “selfishness” of capitalism.  
     
    Such concerns appear misguided to us in the light of hindsight, but no doubt the people of the time were right about the societal upheaval…

  16. what i was really wondering/interested,in though was why you (and seemingly several others who frequent this area of the blogosphere) seem to take joy in such a scenario and the crushing of egalitarian dreams. 
     
    i have often wondered the same thing. better policy decisions would certainly be one outcome, but a loss of hope in a large segment of society would be another outcome. egalitarianism may indeed turn out to be a pipedream, but those who would rejoice in such an outcome seem to be afflicted with a great bout of schadenfreude.

  17. if i understand you correctly you’re basically saying that group averages are determined by genes (and the rest, you seem to suggest, is within-group variance and random noise.. no real mention of significant group environmental differences between groups..)… 
     
     
    If you seriously hypothesize that environmental factor X differentiates groups A and B on trait T *over and above* the genetic background, there is a conceptually simple test, one that to my knowledge has never been performed — though Collins may throw us Brer hereditarians in the briar patch yet.  
     
    Form a table with 2N rows, with N from group A and N from group B. Measure the value of trait T and factor X for each individual in both groups. Then — and this is critical — measure a battery of representative genetic and physiological variants on each individual. This is a set of variables Y1,…,Yk (where k can go into the hundreds of thousands or millions with some of the new SNP chips). Now your task is simple. Derive the following conditional distributions:  
     
    1) P(T|X,Y_1,…,Y_k): the conditional distribution of the trait on factor X & the genetic variants across all populations 
     
    2) P(T|Y_1,…,Y_k): conditional distribution of the trait on genetic variants only  
     
    3) P(T|X): conditionald distribution of the trait given factor X only 
     
    4) P(T|X,Y_1,..,Y_k,G=A) and P(T|X,Y_1,..,Y_k,G=B): the conditional distribution of the trait given factor X and all genetic variants *within* each subpopulation A and B.  
     
    5) P(T|Y_1,…,Y_k,G=A) and P(T|Y_1,…,Y_k,G=B): the conditional distribution using genetic variants only 
     
    6) P(T|X,G=A) and P(T|X,G=B): the conditional distribution using factor X only 
     
    Now, depending on how you’re representing these conditional distributions, you can start comparing them. If you’re doing linear or logistic regression, you can start making scatterplots of coefficients; otherwise there are various non-parametric ways of comparing distributions.  
     
    These comparisons will reveal whether factor X has any predictive signal over and above the battery of genotypic predictors, and also whether or not the link functions from genotype to phenotype differ significantly between populations.  
     
    PS: Note that a key requirement here is that factor X be quantified and measured. If you can’t quantify and measure something, it’s a non-starter as a posited explanatory variable.

  18. i have often wondered the same thing. better policy decisions would certainly be one outcome, but a loss of hope in a large segment of society would be another outcome.  
     
    Why are impossibility theorems useful in mathematics? There can be no obligation to do that which cannot be done. Our current system shames us everyday because water doesn’t travel uphill.  
     
    The real audacity is not hope, but hopelessness: “No, We Can’t — vero impossibilis”.  
     
    Point out that a particular policy is doomed to failure and you might see some long faces in the short run — but less dead bodies in the long run. 
     
    That said, having crushed one hopeless dream, it is important to also offer positive alternatives — a way forward. People are working on that…

  19. imagine having constructed a model for the prediction of height (or weight, or perhaps IQ) 50 years ago (assuming perfect knowledge of the genetics). if you’d applied it, you’d have likely been way off, in a systematic way.  
     
    Oh, no doubt that in the scenario you describe there would be systematic errors. But:  
     
    1) any moderately sophisticated approach will do online updating of models in response to new measurements, a la Kalman filtering 
     
    2) in particular, it’s easy to model the effects of linearly increasing nutrition by adding the birth year (or month, or day) as a predictor variable.  
     
    3) and even with the naive approach, within any given cohort — and even between adjacent ones — you’re still going to be doing pretty well at discerning the tall from the short (i.e. relative ranks will be maintained even if means are a bit off)

  20. Well, I look at it like this.  
     
    A society which prohibits usury will never invent capitalism. 
    A society which maintains geocentrism will never invent satellites.  
    A society which believes creationism will never invent molecular phylogenetics.
     
     
    Well, I think you might be looking at these things the wrong way. 
     
    There are many societies that are capitalist today but have prohibited usury. e.g. some US states and European countries. 
     
    Geocentrism and creationsim… e.g. the West

  21. Geocentrism and creationsim… e.g. the West 
     
    the time gap of these are on the order of centuries! with usury you can bring up examples where various aspects of these laws held concurrently with proto-modern financial institutions, so that’s a very different issue. if you want to have a serious discussion you really need to not mix & match objections of such varied degrees of refutationary plausibility.

  22. gc, 
     
    it seems like you’re more interested/excited by the prospect of mainstream notions of hope and egalitarisnism being crushed than you are with the progress that would supposedly follow thereafter. is that wrong?

  23. A society which prohibits usury will never invent capitalism. 
    A society which maintains geocentrism will never invent satellites. 
    A society which believes creationism will never invent molecular phylogenetics.
     
     
    All of these changes in attitudes occurred as gradual societal shifts, not as sudden “stakes in the heart.”

  24. All of these changes in attitudes occurred as gradual societal shifts, not as sudden “stakes in the heart.” 
     
    geocentrism more than creationism, though you are correct about creationism since evolutionary ideas were in vogue before origin. but as i suggested above it seems usury is a poor fit with these two since the rise of capitalism and decline of anti-usury laws was way more messy. that makes sense, *natural scientific* issues resolve more cleanly and linearly than *social scientific* ones.

  25. Sure, the usury example is certainly less clean than the physical and biological ones, but ultimately it is true that a society which prohibits money lending as immoral will never allow mortgages, investments, venture capital, and the like — nor will they grasp the concepts of a discounting rate, or the time value of money.  
     
    As you know, eventually what happened is that people figured out some reinterpretation of their religious mumbo jumbo that made the previously prohibited act “consistent” with the doctrine. Thus do you see god fearing Christians today who work at banks without a second thought. And thus are you starting to see “Islamic banking”, which is based on religious rationalizations for a transparent interest proxy (“buy and pay in installments” or something like that).  
     
    One possible outcome is a total collapse, a la geocentrism vs. heliocentrism. Another possible outcome — perhaps one more likely — is a reinterpretation of the reigning doctrine to champion biodiversity as *part of* diversity.  
     
    In other words, the irresistible force of science will cause the high priests to reinterpret their religion to take a position 180 degrees opposed from the one they previously had, while keeping as much of their power structure in place as possible. For example:  
     
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/17/race.science 
     
    Last month, Pinker told the Edge website that “the dangerous idea of the next decade” will be the notion that “groups of people may differ genetically in their average talents and temperaments”. It is all the more dangerous for being bound up with ideas about how populations vary in their susceptibility to disease. The implication is that we must take these ideas as a package. Health must come first, of course – and the dangerous elements must follow in its wake. We are ill-prepared to respond to the complex challenges posed by racial arguments bobbing in the unstoppable tide of genetic research. 
     
    In the past it was easy: an ominous reference to the Nazis and a snippet of scientific reassurance – such as the observation that there is more variation within so-called races than between them – would do the trick. But the hardcore advocates of race science have spent years working out answers to the standard rebuttals. And you cannot refute a scientific claim by referring to its historical baggage. 
     
    Over the years, the denial of race became almost absolute. Differences were only skin-deep, it was said – despite the common knowledge that certain groups had higher incidences of genetically influenced diseases. It became a taboo, and as the taboo starts to appear outdated or untenable, the danger is that unreflective denial will be replaced by equally uncritical acceptance. 
     
    … 
     
    We have gone beyond the stage where the question of racial science could be seen as a straightforward contest between decent values and sinister pseudoscience. It’s no longer black and white. 
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/us/11dna.html 
     
    Though few of the bits of human genetic code that vary between individuals have yet to be tied to physical or behavioral traits, scientists have found that roughly 10 percent of them are more common in certain continental groups and can be used to distinguish people of different races. They say that studying the differences, which arose during the tens of thousands of years that human populations evolved on separate continents after their ancestors dispersed from humanityÂ’s birthplace in East Africa, is crucial to mapping the genetic basis for disease. 
     
    But many geneticists, wary of fueling discrimination and worried that speaking openly about race could endanger support for their research, are loath to discuss the social implications of their findings. Still, some acknowledge that as their data and methods are extended to nonmedical traits, the field is at what one leading researcher recently called “a very delicate time, and a dangerous time.” 
     
    “There are clear differences between people of different continental ancestries,” said Marcus W. Feldman, a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. “ItÂ’s not there yet for things like I.Q., but I can see it coming. And it has the potential to spark a new era of racism if we do not start explaining it better.” 
     
    Dr. Feldman said any finding on intelligence was likely to be exceedingly hard to pin down. But given that some may emerge, he said he wanted to create “ready response teams” of geneticists to put such socially fraught discoveries in perspective.  
     
    … 
     
    But the incident has added to uneasiness about whether society is prepared to handle the consequences of science that may eventually reveal appreciable differences between races in the genes that influence socially important traits. 
     
    New genetic information, some liberal critics say, could become the latest rallying point for a conservative political camp that objects to social policies like affirmative action, as happened with “The Bell Curve,” the controversial 1994 book that examined the relationship between race and I.Q. 
     
    Yet even some self-described liberals argue that accepting that there may be genetic differences between races is important in preparing to address them politically. 
     
    “LetÂ’s say the genetic data says weÂ’ll have to spend two times as much for every black child to close the achievement gap,” said Jason Malloy, 28, an artist in Madison, Wis., who wrote a defense of Dr. Watson for the widely read science blog Gene Expression. Society, he said, would need to consider how individuals “can be given educational and occupational opportunities that work best for their unique talents and limitations.” 
     
    Others hope that the genetic data may overturn preconceived notions of racial superiority by, for example, showing that Africans are innately more intelligent than other groups. But either way, the increased outpouring of conversation on the normally taboo subject of race and genetics has prompted some to suggest that innate differences should be accepted but, at some level, ignored.  
     
    Note that last line: this is exactly what I mean by reinterpreting things to save the system. Maybe they’ll pull it off, like the Chinese did by letting capitalists in the system. Maybe the contradictions will prove too much and the regime will suffer a crisis of legitimacy, like the USSR.  
     
    The thing is that 180 degree reversals are very 1984 — very “Eurasia was *always* at war with Eastasia” — and thus tend to attract the attention of even the most credulous readers of the NYT. So I vacillate on what the most likely outcome is likely to be once my postulated feeding frenzy begins. Much will depend on who does it, where they publish, how quickly the follow ups come out — and whether or not the establishment is nimble enough to invent some IRB-based rationale for why they should be silenced and sent into the wilderness.  
     
    So….it’s hard to tell. Will those in power realize that their worldview is based on a lie and start adopting changes gradually a la Deng Xiaoping or will they wait for out-and-out revolt a la 1989-1991?  
     
    Given that Obama has stated that he wants to push for things like a national anti-racial profiling law, I don’t think that Obama and co. realize that there is a ticking nuke under a worldview that maintains that all groups have equal propensities for all behaviors.  
     
    When it goes off, what happens? Is there a clampdown on “academic racists” as happened in 1994 — discrediting and defunding them via ginned up IRB accusations, and then banning future research in this space — or does the regime’s legitimacy collapse?

  26. it seems like you’re more interested/excited by the prospect of mainstream notions of hope and egalitarisnism being crushed than you are with the progress that would supposedly follow thereafter. is that wrong?  
     
    ben g —  
     
    Obviously I care about the progress most. If the dominant paradigm is reinterpreted to be something reasonable, like “treat people as fairly as you can in person, and don’t be unnecessarily rude to someone based on factors they can’t control” — that’s fine. That’s a neutered and ineffectual PC –the kind of PC embraced by moms, college coeds, and kindhearted Christians — one which has no power to obstruct science.  
     
    However, we don’t see that today. We see an Old Testament PC, red in tooth and claw, still capable of making heretics like Jim Watson and Larry Summers objects of hatred, fear, and ridicule.  
     
    So yeah — neutering PC with a big ol’ pair of shears is necessary. Just like Crusader Christianity became tempered into bingo at the church, and Revolutionary Communism became soft socialism, it is most desirable for the PC to continually *apologize for themselves* — as the Anglican Church does — rather than to *make us apologize*.  
     
    That’s still a ways off. Nuking Summers and Watson is just a high profile example of what PC constantly does — it is intended to put a horse head in the bed of any scientist who even *thinks* about investigating these topics. That’s why the neutering is necessary and desirable.  
     
    meta-comment: I understand why you want to know my motivations. All humans have coalitional biases, the wholly rational belief that those who are on their side are worth listening to, while those on the other side can be discounted outright. All I can say is that I personally think it’s better to found a society on truth rather than lies. It may cause some short term pain, but in the long term a society based on lies will lose the technological high ground, and will (at best) recede significantly in power or (at worst) collapse from within or be conquered from without.

  27. Kosmo —  
     
    btw, thanks for the props, and welcome to GNXP if you haven’t been here before. If you have, I show up from time to time as an emeritus-ish figure…obviously Razib, p-ter, and the gang have things well in hand w/o my trivial musings :) 
     
    ben g —  
     
    as a general rule of thumb, I’m not an unreasonable guy. While I may sometimes overstate things in a comment for effect — it can be really fun to just let it ride verbally — I’ll usually walk it back a bit in response to a reasonable comment, or if it unduly offended someone.

  28. loss of hope  
     
    Also, something to think about is this — how much of society *really* thinks about this ostensible “hope” on a daily basis?  
     
    Does an investment banker?  
    A True Blue Crip? 
    A Berkeley engineering student?  
    A janitor?  
    A construction worker?  
    A computer technician?  
     
    People might feel bad for a day or two when the news comes out. But life goes on. Do you really think that the Crips and the Bloods are going to sit on their stoop moping about it? Or that a janitor will throw his mop on the ground and weep that he has no hope rather than going back to his wife and three kids? That Google will stop hiring on IQ or that Harvard will stop selecting on IQ?  
     
    I think we need to realize that most people don’t care about ideology. The ideas I’m talking about are certainly very important at a science and policy level, but the phantasm of a “destruction of hope” is really only relevant for dewy-eyed Teach for America applicants, politicians, and various members of our priesthood whose jobs are either to lecture us on our sins or spend our money.  
     
    I don’t want to underestimate the societal changes that will result, but if you expect that Snoop Dogg is going to have a crisis of conscience over this, I think that may be wrong.

  29. Kosmo —  
     
    I checked out some of your stories. Interesting stuff, but I’d quibble with this one
     
    In this story, Veronica, a high-level corporate bureaucrat for a huge, multi-national steel company, is contacted by a man who carries a secret that could change the world. ItÂ’s the holy grail of materials science– the secret to producing structural-quality carbon nanotubes on massive scale. But why bring that information to a steel company? The answer: for the same reason youÂ’d bring an engine that could run on water to an oil company. Because theyÂ’d be sure to buy it. Veronica knows her company will bury the discovery, so she enlists the help of one of the corporate scientists, and together they take steps to release the information to the public. But the company finds out and sends a problem solver to deal with the issue once and for all.”  
     
    Is this so obvious? Such a company would also be able to bury its competition with such a discovery.  
     
    A couple of interesting case studies are Kodak and Apple. Everyone knows that Apple reinvented themselves, junking OS 9 to get a real OS — BSD — under the hood for OS X.  
     
    But Kodak is a pretty darn big and sophisticated company, and they’re in the midst of something similar to your postulated transition — namely from film to digital:  
     
    http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_31/b3640098.htm 
     
    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_48/b4011421.htm 
     
    Worth finding some 2008 article to see how things are going there…

  30. The strongest case for the stake-through-the-heart of PC proposition can be made in academia. The examples of Summers and Watson vividly demonstrate the chilling effect PC has on academia both in the practice of science and in hiring. 
     
    There are several related issues. First, there has been plenty of time to do the spade work to prepare the public for the moral issues surrounding group differences. The response from public intellectuals has been to shovel dirt on the issue and put off dealing with it to future generations. Short term moral cowardice, like the pols who stalled for decades and did nothing about climate change. 
     
    Second, the public discourse on causal hypotheses needs to start entertaining the notion that “racism” is not the cause of all group differences in proximal outcomes. Whether the cause is genetics or big GxE effects or environmental, the differences are fairly intractable and not obviously due to racism but instead are predictable consequences of measurable upstream variables. Black-White IQ gap and the school achievement gap come to mind here.

  31. I wanted to link to Eliezer Yudkowsky’s post on how living with reality isn’t that difficult because we are already doing so as we speak, but I couldn’t find it. Just Lose Hope Already is a good blast from the past though. I’ve got a relevant post of my own, Human Biodiversity: Joy and Despair.

  32. the differences are fairly intractable and not obviously due to racism but instead are predictable consequences of measurable upstream variables.  
     
    LOL — a useful exercise is to search the NYT website for the terms “IQ” and “racism”.  
     
    Insofar as they are two alternate explanations for a host of a phenomena, it is interesting to note that the ratio of mentions is around 100:1 in favor of “racism”, with many IQ mentions being about colloquial uses like “basketball IQ” rather than the true psychometric construct.

  33. All I can say is that I personally think it’s better to found a society on truth rather than lies. 
     
    I don’t think we differ on that. I would like debates about race and other hot button issues where bringing up genetics wasn’t taboo (that’s why i like this site). I just got the impression that you were excited at the prospect of genetics winning all of those debates. I’m going to assume good faith, and assume you do care about the progress that would follow the collapse of the blank slate more than just the collapse of it. If that is the case, then why do you seem to happily anticipate the *sudden* collapse of it? If you do value egalitarianism (even in a limited, purely political sense) wouldn’t you hope for a gradual reformulation of society to accept the supposed bitter truth? If I truly believed in statistical genetic destiny, as you do, I would be more interested in dopamine pills for increasing IQ, and political ideals that could handle the new situation (Rawls, individualism, whatever) than i would in stabbing a stake through the reigning, flawed consensus and just laughing as it writhes on the ground.

  34. ” just laughing as it writhes on the ground.” 
     
    I doubt if he’d just laugh. I’d expect a couple of bouncing-off-the-ropes knee drops.

  35. GC: 
     
    Your instinct is dead-on. The entire idea of invention-suppression is simply fabulous, though enduringly popular.

  36. If we consider something harmful, do we need that much reason to wish for its immediate exit rather than gradually fading away?

  37. Ben, I actually agree with you that gradualism is usually to be preferred to sudden upheaval. Those who want a huge reboot are often megalomaniacs who imagine themselves at the top of the new system. Personally, I like my GTA and Starbucks just fine, and don’t *want* massive upheaval in society.  
     
    That said, I think we differ on the undesirability of the current system. You might see Obama/PC* as something akin to (say) Pope John Paul — fundamentally well meaning even if empirically misguided. I see Obama/PC as something closer to Torquemada or the Ayatollah — wild eyed fanatics who would rather destroy a country (e.g. South Africa, Rhodesia), a person (e.g. Watson, Summers, Jensen), or a community (e.g. forced busing, Section 8 transfers) rather than admit their god is dead.  
     
    * this is a metonymic device, but to be clear, Obama is to PC as Ratzinger is to the Catholic Church — the current high priest, beloved by all true believers and even capable of commanding respect from ostensible non-believers like David Brooks, Reihan Salam, Ross Douthat, etc.

  38. TGGP: If we consider something harmful, do we need that much reason to wish for its immediate exit rather than gradually fading away? 
     
    Plenty of examples throughout history of bad situations being made worse through rushed mass movements. 
     
    GC: That said, I think we differ on the undesirability of the current system. 
     
    this is indeed our main difference 
     
    You might see Obama/PC* as something akin to (say) Pope John Paul — fundamentally well meaning even if empirically misguided. I see Obama/PC as something closer to Torquemada or the Ayatollah — wild eyed fanatics who would rather destroy a country (e.g. South Africa, Rhodesia), a person (e.g. Watson, Summers, Jensen), or a community (e.g. forced busing, Section 8 transfers) rather than admit their god is dead.  
     
    i feel like i could go on for pages describing the reasons why i disagree with this passage. my thoughts aren’t close to profound enough to deserve that amount of space, though, so I’ll briefly state: Obama isn’t a wild eyed fanatic or a representative of PC. White rule in South Africa and Rhodesia collapsed because political rule by a colonial race based minority isn’t tenable in the long-term. I’m with you on Watson, Summers, Jensen, though.

  39. TGGP, 
     
    Your comment deserved a more nuanced reply. I agree with you and gc that the science should proceed at an unconstrained rate, and that the loss of PC restrictions on these kinds of debates is a net plus. however, i don’t see why anyone would root for the quick downfall of egalitarianism, which is not synonymous with PC (the two seem to be sometimes intentionally confounded at times..).

  40. Knock me over with a feather. I never expected a story review to end up pasted to science forum. Whoa. And your quibble is duly noted.

  41. Obama isn’t a wild eyed fanatic or a representative of PC.  
     
    I think that if you start reading this speech or this article you might get some different ideas. 
     
    The feminists and the rapists themselves will be voting for the same candidate.  
     
    Obama strategists believe they have identified a gold mine of new and potentially decisive Democratic voters in at least five battleground states — voters who failed to turn out in the past but can be mobilized this time because Obama’s candidacy is historic and his cash-rich campaign can afford the costly task of identifying and motivating such supporters…. 
     
    In a political twist, Democrats can thank a Republican for empowering one new group of voters: Florida felons. Gov. Charlie Crist last week announced that, thanks to a new rule he enacted, about 115,000 felons who had completed their sentences had become eligible under his administration to have their civil rights restored. Liberal groups such as People for the American Way hope to track down even more who could have their rights restored in time to permit them to register and vote in November. 
     
    Experts say felons are disproportionately black and, if they can be found, more likely to be Obama backers. This provides a huge potential; about 1.1 million felons in Florida were ineligible to vote in 2004, according to a 2006 book by sociologists Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen. Here too the potential for gains has risk: It could open a door for Republicans to portray Democrats as soft on crime. 
     
    The push for new and nontraditional voters is so targeted and aggressive that an NAACP official in Ohio said her organization plans to pursue individuals who are incarcerated but who have not yet been tried or sentenced and, therefore, under state law, remain eligible to vote. 
     
    The group is also tracking felons who often don’t realize that, in Ohio, they are eligible to vote as soon as they leave prison. 
     
    Ex-offenders are “just everywhere,” said Jocelyn Travis, who heads the Ohio NAACP’s voter outreach program. “People who have a felony or criminal background are throughout our community, and they don’t realize that they have the right to vote.” 
     
    Democratic strategists believe that if the Obama campaign can reach even a fraction of African Americans who have not voted in the past, it can cut dramatically into Bush’s 2004 victory margins. According to a Democratic strategy memo in Florida, where Bush won by about 381,000 votes, “encouraging just one-third of the non-2004 voters to cast a vote would alone [make up] more than half the margin.” 
     
    Perhaps you’re starting to see my POV on Obama and co… 
     
    White rule in South Africa and Rhodesia collapsed because political rule by a colonial race based minority isn’t tenable in the long-term.  
     
    Sure, but what about a two-state solution? Why wasn’t that on the table? By the way, you might be interested in this interview. Complicates things a bit, doesn’t it?  
     
    KEANE: But you see here’s what I can’t understand, and I’ve known this country for a long time. It’s just the ease with which people kill nowadays. 
    YOUTH: Yeah. 
    KEANE: How did that happen? 
    YOUTH: When I get up, I can go to town or I can took your car. 
    KEANE: Would it bother you to kill me to get the car? 
    YOUTH: If you don’t want to give me your keys I’ll kill you. It’s nothing to kill you because of what.. I need the money to survive. You see I need more money. You see it feels like using a gun there’s no feeling. There’s no feeling. It’s just yourself, you’re the big boss. You got a gun, no one will tell you shit or f*** you. No one can tell you f*** you. If you said f*** me, I took out my firearm and I shoot you in your ears, then what will you say? You’re dead! I will took all the things. If you don’t get money, if you don’t get a car you’re nothing. 
    KEANE: Do you think that the life that you’re living and the way that you’re carrying on is what Mandela… 
    YOUTH: But… 
    KEANE: No, but hang on a second, is this what Mandela spent 27 years in jail for so you could go around killing people? 
    YOUTHS: No. No. 
    KEANE: So why do you still do it? 
    YOUTH: Because we want money. Listen, listen to me, because it’s money. I have to rob this thing now. 
    KEANE: You want to rob the camera? 
    YOUTH: Yeah. 
    KEANE: You could do that, if you wanted, I know you could do that, but it wouldn’t achieve any purpose. You might have money for a day and it’s just brought trouble on you. 
    When they suggested stealing the camera we decided to leave. Crime is being fuelled by another legacy of apartheid, poverty. There is democracy, free speech and economic growth. But real wealth is in the hands of the few. Even though millions more now access electricity and water, two million new homes have been built and there are grants for the poorest of the poor, the growing economy hasn’t delivered jobs. Official figures say 25% are out of work, though many economists estimate it could be as high as 40%. Millions of South Africans still live in squatter camps. 
    Sunday afternoon in Soweto: 
    How many of you live in this shed? 
    WOMAN: Four. 
    KEANE: What do you feel about the life you have here? 
    WOMAN: (translated) Life here isn’t good. We’ve no electricity and so we have to use paraffin which makes the children sick. 
    KEANE: Do you ever think your life is going to get better, Joseph? 
    JOSEPH: Maybe my life would change if the Nationalist party came back, not the ANC. 
    KEANE: I don’t believe you, come on, it was a white government that put you down, that treated you terribly. You can’t really believe that. 
    JOSEPH: But in terms of work they didn’t oppress us. We didn’t struggle for work then. 
    KEANE: Now do I really think that he is serious about wanting a white government back? I don’t think so. Not back to the days of forced removals and passbooks and all of that. But I’ll tell you what it does do, when you listen to somebody expressing that kind of anger and frustration, you really get a sense of how the ANC, the people at the top, the elite, have drifted away from their core constituency, the people of the squatter camps, South Africa’s dispossessed. 
     
    Do you think these people have more “hope” now?

  42. Megan McArdle has been discussing Africa recently. No racists allowed, she says, but the discussion is more honest than in most places.

  43. Kosmo: 
     
    PC and egalitarianism bear the same relationship to truth and social harmony as Inquisitions, Muslim “religious police,” and book-burnings do to freedom of thought, religion, and speech. In fact, their apex expression is most clearly to be seen in events such as Stalinist purges and the killing fields of Cambodia.  
     
    But the required understanding cannot be won through appreciation of GC’s many individual pieces of scientific evidence, regardless of their number or their validity. These can help some to understand but can even serve to kindle in others a suspicion (nearly akin to proof) of schadenfreude or worse. Further yet, such evidence, even given absolute reliability and acceptance, may yet be (and is) fitted into various explanatory rationales, each suggesting different courses of action, some benign, some wholly inneffective and superflous, and others potentially malign and disastrous. 
     
    The “answer” to your questions, to the suspicions raised by Ben, and even to the search for “the truth” underlying all that has (and can be) learned through physical investigation lies in another direction. Admittedly, it is not a direction widely credited among “scientists” as being capable of revealing truth about reality and, even further, is in a direction widely considered fringe even among many of its own (presumably) learned.  
     
    One can learn some things about man by studying various forms of matter and the interactions occurring in the physical universe: man is matter and has physical existence, so what is learned will be applicable. One can learn other things about man by studying organisms simple and complex and even by studying various parts and tissues of men; such studies frequently reveal truths about the subject, despite their being provisional and subject to the revision brought about by better studies of the same kind. 
     
    In the most fundamental sense, all science is applied science: a search for means appropriate to achieve ends. To insist that no application was envisioned or, even, somewhat similarly, that the very observation had been unintentional before being made is a type of begging the question: the application, at base, consists in the fact that a question occurring in some man’s mind is answered. In a very general way. science begins by observing particular expression (termed effect) and proceeds by various means to discover the links with generalities (termed cause, each instance of which is usually found to be the effect of a yet-remoter cause). And so it goes.  
     
    What are termed the natural sciences make use of a special type of reason or logic called induction or the scientific method and whose chief tool is the experiment, an observational procedure in which the relationship between selected magnitudes is observed under conditions (called laboratory conditions) which permit variation in one magnitude only while other potential variables are held constant. Ideally, repetition at different quantitative levels of the same variable will reveal not only the effect but the quantitative relationship of effect of varying quantities of the variable.  
     
    But studying men in society is profoundly different. We might have endless studies of whether men bleed more freely when stabbed depending on whether they’re currently employed or not or whether they’re tall or short–but that’s not the type of information normally wanted. Just as most of the questions considered in the natural sciences have some application boiling down to the suitability of various means to attain various ends, so too in studying men (other than in a biological sense), the aim is to understand whatever helps either individual men or groups of men to understand both themselves and their counterparts with the view toward achieving particular ends in relationships with those counterparts.  
     
    Fortunately a science exists which enables the development of answers to many of the questions that continualy plague men in society and also enables sweepingly general but unerringly accurate prediction of the suitability (or not) of specific means to achieve specific ends in the “social” sphere of existence. That science is Economics. But there are many pretenders to knowledge in that science, only one of which succeeds in fitting theory to reality: the Austrian School, and, in particular, the adherents of the 20th-century thinker, theorist, and polemicist, Ludwig von Mises.

  44. Gradually replace existing stem cells in all body niches with stem cells cultured from the best genotypes of each race. Use drugs to increase senescent cell turn-over. Use growth factors and drugs to increase the rate of tissue replacement. Within a few years this would remodel the body and brain. Some differences fixed during development would remain, but much should improve. “Cosmetic surgery” for the masses. 
     
    DNA would no longer be destiny.

  45. Perhaps you’re starting to see my POV on Obama and co… 
     
    Yes, and it seems highly reactionary/illogical. i’d like to hear the syllogism in your head that leads you to thinking him a fanatic or any of the other stuff you ascribe to him. 
     
    Sure, but what about a two-state solution? 
     
    The presence of a white state in that area was viewed as illegitimate, both by the indigenous majority and by the international community at large. Sovereignty isn’t decided by utilitarian considerations such as quality of life. Yes, the United States was founded in similar ways to white south africa, and i wager that it wouldn’t be “colonizable” today if the original colonization had to begin today. perhaps the comparison in your mind is not the US, but Israel. the zionist colonization received the go-ahead from a plurality in the international community for two main reasons: 1) it was not viewed as an extension of European colonialism, so much as a reaction to European oppression culminating in the holocaust, 2) it was the ancestral homeland of the Jews.

  46. IÂ’ve read the evidence posted here of Obama being a wild-eyed fanatic. I wonder if this is anything new, that is a politician using every bit of leverage he can to win an election.  
     
    I believe chemists would call it “activation energy.” The point, I think, is that the yield products are of a different character than the reagents, even if the vast majority of the initial mass is conserved. 
     
    Interesting that the very theme of this discussion seems to be one of increment versus cataclysm. The very difference rather teeters on a sense of proportion.  
     
    If Obama be a wild-eyed fanatic, then I wonder what we might make of McCain for his outreach to evangelicals, scorned feminists, and, well, various other types of romantics, whether fiscal or social, or with regard to foreign relations. Or the evidence of uncivilized habit of mind that has gushed forth from the last 8 years of rightist patriotism in the U.S.  
     
    For those of you who doubt that high priests often reinterpret their religions to take a position 180 degrees opposed to the one they previously had, I recommend taking a look at contemporary American “conservative” leaders currently making accusations of Marxism or Ayatollism toward their opponents. 
     
    What a useful scientific study would that be: a way to actually measure projection. Anyone have any good theories on the evolutionary origin of projection? The stuff currently out there isnÂ’t really satisfying. 
     
    Also, anyone here interested in the free-market character and policy behavioralism of ObamaÂ’s current economic advisory junta? Seems to be relatively empirically-based, in fact. Hopefully posting a TNR article here isnÂ’t worse than posting an LA Times article. Sorry if I offend anyone; I am well-meaning even if I am often empirically misguided.

  47. The USSR supported the establishment of the state of Israel because they (i.e. Stalin) thought it would radicalize the Arabs and cause trouble for Western interests in the Middle East: which in those days meant British interests. That entailed practical help: they sent roughly 100,000 rifles from Czechoslovakia. Doesn’t sound like much, but it made a difference.

  48. Kosmo: 
     
    It was the English clergyman/economist/naturalist Malthus who observed that living things compete for the stuff on which their lives depend and that, at some point, saturation must occur. But we are able to see, in hindsight, that Malthus drew incorrect conclusions (and recommendations) from the very kernel of truth he’d found.  
     
    The evolutionary course of living creatures has been one of general proliferation of both species and individuals marked by a tendency throughout toward specialization both of somatic and biochemical features for adaptation to specific environmental niches. In adapting to life as a social animal, men have been able to exploit many more such niches than were available to their prehuman forbears. Life in society is neither a choice for any individual man nor for the species Homo sapiens. Nothing of what makes men human is even conceivable outside society. For every man, society, in ever-widening circles from his immediate associates, is the grand means for the achievement of most of his personal ends. These ends are brought to fruition principally through interaction with those others, the principal interaction being exchange. Every man produces that he may consume; each serves others that others may serve him. 
     
    There are various avenues through which a man may be brought from an immature complex of undifferentiated (except by nature) potential to the point of being able to “make his way” in one or more specialties in competition with others fairly similar. Natural interests, preferences, and indwelling abilities all count; so do upbringing, socialization, education, and specialized training. The very existence of the modern, civilized, and highly technologic societies of today are highly dependent on just such specialization and there is no reason to expect that the tendency has exhausted its benefits. But for each specialized man, his chiefest source of the most important of the specialized performances of other men are not those of men most like himself, most of whose social utility in exchange he has no need of (since he is equally capable of similar for himself) but all the rest. For the plumber or the accountant, other plumbers and accountants are not only superfluous to their personal needs–they are the specific competitors responsible for his remuneration not being any greater than actual. Life itself provides us all with wants from the very beginning of our existence; but most, only attention to providing others with their wants has much prospect of fulfilling our own satisfactorily.  
     
    The truth underlying human life, social organization, and the “flowering” of both is to be found in an economic postulate widely known as The Law of Comparative Advantage; when seen, further, to depend for its “working out” in practice on differentiation of human attributes and abilities, one can then see a logical, if not-yet-proven, relationship to the biological principle of the higher productivity of specialized cells, tissues, organs, etc., leading, in the same evolutionary manner, to the present organization of society’s productive efforts along primarily politically liberal, free-market, capitalistic lines. And leads to the further political (the economic validity is a settled matter) conclusion that all interferences with that process are destructive of what most people want (or pretend to want). 
     
    Egalitarianism can be said to “work” as a political principal, insofar as every man being entitled to the very same protection at law of his person, property, and ancilliary rights. Also for the right to be treated, by everyone else, with a common modicum of respect. More of what is desirable in society, it cannot accomplish. But, in trying to accomplish more under the “egalitarian” banner, its proponents actually intend the inevitable societal damage both predicted and evident to their own eyes. The entirety of the insistence on equality is the deliberate attempt to impose socialistic measures by the incremental (or Fabian) method by proponents of socialism who lack any direct and convincing arguments for their program, especially since the collapse of the USSR and the reversion of virtually every other socialist commonwealth into some sort of “hampered” capitalism.  
     
    I will leave you with one final note on which to reflect (and of caution to those who believe that IQ-boosting drugs or genetic engineering hold any prospect for meliorating existing societal conflict and difficulties). 
     
    Imagine that people could be produced with identical IQs of, say, 120. Would that be likely to engender a better or more peaceful existence? 
    I can’t answer that one, quite frankly. But I haven’t given it much thought; I’m still hung up on wondering who would determine just who went into the various occupational specialties, etc. Who?

  49. von Mises  
     
    Gene: you may mean well, but please don’t speak for me. Ludwig Von Mises isn’t the apotheosis of human thought, and the anti-empirical leanings of many of his disciples are something to be scorned. You can’t learn about the world solely by thinking about it, you need data points.  
     
    marsv:  
     
    then I wonder what we might make of McCain  
     
    If you think I’m going to defend McCain, I think you may have misunderstood me :) McCain is also a fanatic of a different stripe, one whose signature obsessions — endless war and endless immigration — are also idiotic.  
     
    The only thing about McCain to prefer over Obama: he will probably appoint right-wing Supreme Court justices. Otherwise, he’ll stress the endless war part of the equation over endless immigration.  
     
    The only thing about Obama to prefer over McCain is that Obama will make better decisions on policy that is not connected to PC — such as net-neutrality — but such areas are small today and getting smaller. Everything from health care to immigration to education to crime is constrained by PC taboos. 
     
    Moreover, when it comes to a choice between science and PC, Obama will pick PC every time. And while I’m a great admirer of Thaler, what is gained when the growth provided by incorporation of behavioral economic principles is squandered on yet another Great Society type program — on boondoggles like universal health care for illegal aliens — as it surely will be? Obama puts a new gloss on the concept of bounded rationality — rational within the PC box, wholly irrational outside of it.  
     
    ben:  
     
    it seems highly reactionary/illogical. i’d like to hear the syllogism in your head that leads you to thinking him a fanatic or any of the other stuff you ascribe to him.  
     
    Reactionary? Perhaps. Illogical? No.  
     
    Here’s the syllogism: If you assume false premises — that all human groups are behaviorally equivalent — very, very bad things follow. Trillions of dollars are wasted, millions are murdered, robbed, and raped, and endless societal recrimination follows. I’m not the only one[1] who thinks this:  
     
    “The Bell curve is a fact of life. The blacks on average score 85 per cent on IQ and it is accurate, nothing to do with culture. The whites score on average 100. Asians score more … the Bell curve authors put it at least 10 points higher. These are realities that, if you do not accept, will lead to frustration because you will be spending money on wrong assumptions and the results cannot follow.”Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997 
     
    Obviously Lee misspoke when he said “per cent” (IQ is not a proportion), but let’s just say he’s *a lot* closer to the mark than this guy:  
     
    This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time. 
     
    Refusing to accept that IQ puts limits on academic achievement is like refusing to accept that gravitation puts limits on altitudinal achievement[2].  
     
    So when Obama says something like that, he’s dead to me on an intellectual level. I think of him in the same breath I think of the most zealous fundamentalist — dangerous religious fanatic, keep at bay with sharp stick.  
     
    [1] If you want to know where I’m coming from politically, Lee Kuan Yew is a good place to start. Technocratic Asian pragmatism, which is somewhat orthogonal to the left/right split in American politics. I look at politics as Google looks at advertising. Define an outcome function — e.g. quality of life, as measured by tax burden, crime rate, crowding, GDP-per-capita, self-reports, etc. Then define a goal — optimize the mean or median quality of life, or minimize the difference between the 25th and 75th percentile, or what have you. Given these constraints, do A/B testing — using historical data if possible — to figure out what works.  
     
    Has anyone ever thought to apply A/B testing (or more sexy experimental designs like Latin Squares, etc.) on a country level to policy questions? Probably not. But that’s what *real* social engineering would be. (Note: you can use a similar policy as in controlled clinical trials, where lives are also at stake — you abort the study early if the treatment proves extremely effective.) 
     
    [2] How many million person studies do you need to show that it’s not the schools, or the teachers, or the spending, but the pupils?  
     
    Left creationists are to IQ as right creationists are to evolution — they combine utter technical ignorance of the field with a firm conviction tha they are right. In open combat, of course, real scientists pwn both kinds of creationists. We aren’t allowed to take apart left creationists in public — the science is still taboo — but that time is fast approaching. And we’ll need a few Huxley types along the way, “Jensen’s bulldogs” if you will.

  50. > Has anyone ever thought to apply A/B testing (or more sexy experimental designs like Latin Squares, etc.) on a country level to policy questions? Probably not.  
     
    Actually, there does seem to be a bit of stuff on this if you google “experimental design public policy”.  
     
    Still, it’s not being applied in anywhere near as systematic a fashion as it should be. Introduce this concept in East Asia — esp. China — and they’ll be off to the races. Take different municipalities with similar initial conditions, apply different variants of a policy (e.g. for a crime policy: vary number of years sentenced, amount of a fine, etc.) and observe outcomes over a predefined period. Do power calculations based on historical incidence data (e.g. on average N_k murders in province k, hence we’ll likely get this many data points in 1 years time).  
     
    This is more complicated in a public policy than a physical setting because you have to account for hysteretic effects — i.e. once a policy is set there will be some resistance to moving it around — but that can be factored into your experimental design procedure (e.g. “sentence stickiness” or the like).

  51. If you’re not going to use words with respect to their actual meanings I don’t think we can have a discussion. PC is not egalitarianism or the pursuit of it. It refers to limitations on speech meant to avoid offending established political views. 
     
    Even if Obama’s policies were premised on the idea that there are no differences in IQ genes between populations[1] then they would merely be *possibly *[2] misguided, not fanatical.  
     
    [1] I’m yet to see any evidence that that is indeed a premise of his policies. The quote you provide does not suggest anything of the sort, and there’s nothing empirically flawed about its claims or premises. 
     
    [2]the jury is, in fact, still out on such questions until genomic evidence can answer the question. the debate is science vs. science, not religion vs. science as in creationism.

  52. I just read through these posts and my head is spinning. I’m very curious; who exactly are all you guys? I’m used to being if not the smartest guy in the room, then at least in the running for it.  
     
    But some of the things I’ve seen written in these comments are just brilliant. I feel like a need a day or two of analysis and deep thought before I can offer a worthy reply.

  53. GC: 
     
    Frankly, I can’t see anywhere in what I’ve written which could remotely be interpreted as speaking for you. If, in some cases, what I have to say or have said seems to agree with what you’ve said or think, so be it. 
     
    Furthermore, I respect the general validity, not only of the empirical method in actual laboratory conditions but the somewhat less-reliable through which an underlying truth–the “larger picture”–is gathered from relevant “data points.” I do not demean the use of statistics nor their analysis even were I to caution that all such data requires proper care and is of a complexity that lends itself to misuse and outright distortion of truth (see JJ Ray today for an example). 
     
    I am aware that you are on the leading edge in genetic science in your own research and in your contact with others in the same and related fields. Therefore, I take what you unload of digested data as acurate and, further, because I have no reason to suspect you of manipulating such for political ends or even for argument’s sake, assume your speculations on the likely future shape of the sciences is well-founded.  
     
    However, I am even more sure–to the point of near-certainty–that you vastly overestimate the potential of any of the natural sciences to alleviate much, if any, of the causes underlying widespread “social problems” throughout the world or even in the US. Only a single science–Economics–has even the most remote chance of acquainting people with what is necessary to those ends and only that segment called the Austrian is fit for the purpose. Thinking is not expected by any Austrian (and certainly not me) to help “learn about the world” in general but for the purpose of learning about the economic life of men, of the predictable outcomes of various economic policies and programs, etc., it is the only method to attain understanding. The deductive science of Economics (as promulgated by the Austrians) is fit for this purpose because the subject of its attention, economic action, is congeneric with the logical structure of the human mind.

  54. ben —  
     
    Hmmm, if you dispute my definitions, we can certainly drill down on them. 
     
    With respect to this:  
     
    PC is not egalitarianism or the pursuit of it. It refers to limitations on speech meant to avoid offending established political views.  
     
    I don’t think “egalitarianism” itself is a good term for PC — the dose makes the poison.  
     
    I’m using PC as a metonymic stand-in for the passel of policies based on human neurological uniformity. I think this is a reasonable stand in because it is the social, financial, and legal penalties for speech which are the key to preserving the legitimacy of this system.  
     
    PC is a system in which you are shunned, fired, or sued for speaking truth. We will likely add “imprisoned” to that list once Obama passes hate speech laws, following Canada and Europe.  
     
    Thus, the fall of PC would have the same relation to the modern system of egalitarianism-run-wild that the fall of the Berlin Wall would have for communism.  
     
    Even if Obama’s policies were premised on the idea that there are no differences in IQ genes between populations[1]… 
    [1] I’m yet to see any evidence that that is indeed a premise of his policies. The quote you provide does not suggest anything of the sort, and there’s nothing empirically flawed about its claims or premises.
     
     
    I have been assuming that you are familiar with the literature on IQ and educational attainment. This may have been presumptuous of me. Let me clarify — this statement:  
     
    This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn  
     
    …is false for any reasonable value of “these kids”.  
     
    Who could “these kids” refer to? Obama certainly doesn’t mean “these kids” in gifted education programs. He means “these kids” that others have some chance of growing cynical about, that others think can’t learn.  
     
    The kinds of kids people think “can’t learn” overlap strongly with low IQ kids. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they can’t learn.  
    I don’t want to spend a ton of time linking every article from the IQ literature, but Gottfredson’s stuff is a good place to start:  
     
    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2005cognitivediversity.pdf 
     
    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/2004socialconsequences.pdf 
     
    [2]the jury is, in fact, still out on such questions until genomic evidence can answer the question. the debate is science vs. science, not religion vs. science as in creationism. 
     
    All I can do is shrug. The jury isn’t “out”.  
     
    Did we need to wait for molecular phylogenetics before pronouncing evolution far more likely than the right creationist fairy tale? No.  
     
    Do we need to wait for molecular neurogenetics before pronouncing evolution far more likely than the left creationist fairy tale? No.  
     
    There’s no doubt about what the science has already shown — brain differences *do* exist, psychometric differences *do* exist, anatomical differences *do* exist, hormonal differences *do* exist, genomic differences *do* exist, gene expression differences *do* exist…it is already known that there are functional differences between human groups.  
     
    The only thing that’s left to do is to sew them together as per my first comment in this thread. Every single experiment described there could be done tomorrow. There are no technical obstacles, no new devices necessary. Just sample recruitment and data collection. And the conclusion isn’t in doubt for anyone who’s read the thousands upon thousands of relevant papers.  
     
    Again, this is what I mean about seeking intellectual high ground now, rather than betting on some deus-ex-machina. If you think the hurricane isn’t coming — or that there is any doubt about the fact that it’s a Cat-5 — all I can say is that I warned you.

  55. Kosmo, I dunno about the rest of them, but I’m just a humble janitor with a library pass.  
     
    Please do stick around, you’ve got some interesting posts yourself.

  56. Also, Ben, here are four basic premises.  
     
    1. Humans, like all animals, have been subject to natural selection pressures. 
     
    2. Geographical and reproductive isolation produces intraspecies variation both because of genetic drift and because isolated groups are in different selection environments. 
     
    3. There is a long list of physiological traits of genetic origin whose incidence differs by geographical ancestry. 
     
    Up to here, we likely agree, but the following premise is the controversial bit: 
     
    4. The brain is not a special organ which is off-limits to the effects of selection pressure and drift. 
     
    Premises 1-4 in their totality are what I’m talking about when I talk about human biodiversity, or h-bd. Each step gets progressively more controversial:  
     
    1. Some lefties and religious righties want to assert that natural selection is *inapplicable* to understanding human behavior. They reject premise 1. 
     
    2. Others maintain that humans have evolved to all be equal, a la Stephen J Gould, who accepts premise 1 & rejects 2. 
     
    “Human equality is a contingent fact of history,” he says. “Say that five times before breakfast.”  
     
    3. Others admit that humans are not all equal, accepting 1 and 2, but they believe that the variation is trivial and limited only to skin color and is not more than skin deep, thus rejecting premise 3. 
     
    4. Many who reject premise 3 after accepting 1 & 2 can be brought around by studies like the recent on one different evolved altitude coping strategies among Tibetans, Ethiopians, and Andeans. 
     
    But accepting premise 4 is the hairiest. Up to premise 3 you can go, but no further lest you cloak your interest as an interest in Alzheimer’s research or the genetics of myopia: 
     
    Karlsson (1975) concluded that the ‘myopia gene’ may influence brain development. Myopic high school students aged 17 or 18 years performed better on IQ tests than their nonmyopic classmates. Comparison with test results obtained 10 years earlier before development of myopia suggested that the influence of the gene on the brain was of fundamental importance. Cohn et al. (1988) investigated the association between myopia and superior intelligence in the general population in a group of intellectually gifted children and their less gifted full sibs. A highly significant gifted-nongifted sib difference in myopia was found consistent with the hypothesis that intelligence and myopia are related pleiotropically. [1]  
     
    Anyway…you don’t have to go whole hog. You can accept everything but premise 4, by claiming that the brain is a special organ under extraordinarily & universally strong stabilizing selection, though this null variation assumption presents other issues. Even this is not really a tenable position anymore, given the info we have on the geographical variation in human brain geometry (see link above re: Maziotta).  
     
    So now those opposed to premise 4 are standing on a very thin reed: the idea that structural brain differences are of no importance to function, and are cosmetic only. This too is unlikely given the strong, known relationships on the neurobiological determinants of intelligence (including MRI-determined brain volumes).

  57. By the way, ben, in regards to this:  
     
    jury is still out  
     
    There’s an excellent bit by Mencius which I’ve excerpted:  
     
    And Dr. Watson even manages to get Professor Gates…to swallow the following harmless-looking red pill: 
     
    JW: It was, we shouldn’t expect that people in different parts of the world have equal intelligence, because we all know that. And people say that these should be the same. I think the answer is, we don’t know. 
     
    Q: We don’t know. Not that they are. 
     
    JW: No, no. I’m always trying to say is that some people … of left wing persuasion have said that there wasn’t enough time for differences… we don’t know. That’s all. 
     
    Q: We don’t know. 
     
    “We don’t know.” And we can tell that the pill has gotten deep down inside Professor Gates, it has been swallowed and digested and worked its way through the bloodstream and is starting to produce that awful wiry feeling in the glial cells, by a question he asks earlier: 
     
    Q: But imagine if you were an African or an African American intellectual. And it’s ten years from now. And you pick up the New York Times … (Hits Table) and some geneticist says, A, that intelligence is genetic, and B, the difference is measured on standardized tests. Between black people and white people, is traceable to a genetic basis. What would you, as a black intellectual, do, do you think? 
     
    Here is the problem: the message our beloved Cathedral has been implanting in all the young smart kids at Harvard and Yale and Stanford, the cream of the crop, the top 1%, not to mention the readers of the New York Times who are the top 10%, is not “we don’t know.” 
     
    Oh, no. The message is “we do know. And they are equal. In fact, we are so sure they’re equal that if you even start to hint that you might disagree, we will do everything we can to destroy your life, and we will feel good about it. Because your opinions are evil and you are, too.” 
     
    So it’s not even a question of ten years from now. White-coated scientists, exercising their papal infallibility through the ordinary magisterium of Times Square, do not need to declare their final and inexorable proof of A and B, thus proving that the Cathedral has been broadcasting mendacity since 1924 – and enforcing it since 1984. We need await nothing. Any intelligent person can already read the contradiction. Professor Gates has said it out loud. 
     
    If you accept Dr. Watson’s fallback position, his intellectual Torres Vedras – as Professor Gates does – the Cathedral is already a goner. Its defeat is not a matter for further research. It is a matter of freshman philosophy. The Cathedral has chosen to fortify, not as a minor outpost but as its central keep, the position of not-A and not-B (actually, since not-A or not-B would suffice, the typical insistence on both is a classic sign of a weak position). Its belief in the statistical uniformity of the human brain across all subpopulations presently living is absolute. It has put all its chips on this one. 
     
    And the evidence for its position is really not much stronger than the evidence for the Holy Trinity. In fact, the Holy Trinity has a big advantage: there may be no evidence for it, but at least there is none against it. There is plenty of evidence against human neurological uniformity. The question is simply what standard of proof you apply. By the standards that most of apply to most questions of fact, the answer is already obvious – and has been for at least thirty years. If not a hundred. 
     
    I’ve quoted this bit by Nietzsche before as well, but it’s also worth repeating:  
     
    http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/nietzsche-madman.html 
     
    THE MADMAN—-Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek God! I seek God!”—As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?—Thus they yelled and laughed 
     
    The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. 
     
    “How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us—for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.” 
     
    Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars—and yet they have done it themselves. 
     
    It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?” 
     
    When intellectuals no longer believe in PC, it will be as important — and as tumultuous — as when they no longer believed in JC.  
     
    Again, the most perspicacious priests in the PC edifice — such as messrs. Feldman and Kohn quoted above — are already attempting to make accomodations with that day of reckoning. They are dialing back the rhetoric, reducing the scapegoating, redefining their terms, and generally doing their utmost to batten down the hatches and hope that some piece of the church remains intact after the looming storm — as the sky darkens, the thunderclouds rumble, and the first drops start to fall.

  58. I’m using PC as a metonymic stand-in for the passel of policies based on human neurological uniformity. 
     
    yeah, i find that very misleading, because it prevents us from talking about the two things separately– the distinction is at the core of our disagreement. so try to differentia 
     
    This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn …is false for any reasonable value of “these kids” 
     
    Even retarded people (who are significantly below “these kids”) can learn, so, no, its not false, and nowhere does your link to Gottferdson suggest that. 
     
    There’s no doubt about what the science has already shown — brain differences *do* exist, psychometric differences *do* exist, anatomical differences *do* exist, hormonal differences *do* exist, genomic differences *do* exist, gene expression differences *do* exist…it is already known that there are functional differences between human groups. 
     
    I agree with this, but it does nothing to counter the fact that the jury is still out on whether genetic differences explain the group IQ gaps. 
     
    And the conclusion isn’t in doubt for anyone who’s read the thousands upon thousands of relevant papers. 
     
    I haven’t read thousands of papers but I’ve read the major ones, and I’m agnostic. The genetic side of the argument raises several lines of indirect evidence that seems reconcilable with a primarily cultural cause to the gaps. The direct evidence raised by both sides has holes in it (Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study for the hereditarians, Eyferth for the environmentalists) which i can go into if you like. 
     
    Up to here, we likely agree, but the following premise is the controversial bit: 
     
    4. The brain is not a special organ which is off-limits to the effects of selection pressure and drift. 
     
     
    We agree on number 4 as well. If we didn’t our axioms would be so far off that it’d be impossible to discuss this. the existence of differences in the brains and genes between groups doesn’t prove that the IQ gaps are genetic, though.

  59. The genetic side of the argument raises several lines of indirect evidence that seems reconcilable with a primarily cultural cause to the gaps. The direct evidence raised by both sides has holes in it (Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study for the hereditarians, Eyferth for the environmentalists) which i can go into if you like.  
     
    Eyferth is well known to be methodologically unsound because the black army recruits were selected on the basis of IQ.  
     
    As for Scarr, the adoption evidence isn’t even close to the strongest arrow in the hereditarian quiver. Let me recap what we know, again.  
     
    SNPs differ. 
    CNVs differ.  
    Expression levels differ.  
    Mitochondria differ.  
    Cell lines differ.  
    Muscles differ, skins differ, lungs differ, hormone levels differ.  
    Brains differ.  
    Bodies differ.  
    Individual academic outcomes differ.  
    Individual economic outcomes differ.  
    Group outcomes differ.  
    National outcomes differ.  
    Transnational aggregates differ.  
     
    This isn’t a contest anymore. It hasn’t been for quite some time. For people in the field, arguing over this is like the NYT vs. Goddard.  
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Goddard_(scientist)#New_York_Times_criticism 
     
    The next day, an unsigned New York Times editorial delighted in heaping scorn on the proposal. The editorial writer attacked the instrumentation application by questioning whether “the instruments would return to the point of departure… for parachutes drift just as balloons do. And the rocket, or what was left of it after the last explosion, would need to be aimed with amazing skill, and in a dead calm, to fall on the spot whence it started. But that is a slight inconvenience… though it might be serious enough from the [standpoint] of the always innocent bystander… a few thousand yards from the firing line.” [12] 
     
    The full weight of scorn, however, was reserved for the lunar proposal: “after the rocket quits our air and really starts on its longer journey it will neither be accelerated nor maintained by the explosion of the charges it then might have left. To claim that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are licensed to do that.” It expressed disbelief that Professor Goddard actually “does not know of the relation of action to reaction, and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react” and even talked of “such things as intentional mistakes or oversights.” Goddard, the Times declared, apparently suggesting bad faith, “only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” [12] 
     
    Forty nine years afterwards, on July 17, 1969, the day after the launch of Apollo 11, the New York Times published a short item under the headline “A Correction,” summarizing its 1920 editorial mocking Goddard, and concluding: “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.“ 
     
    That’s basically the issue here. If you’ve run a geno/pheno study, you know that you can put IQ into the regression equation, and then you know you can do the followups that I mentioned at the beginning. Just as the evidence for evolution moved way past Darwin’s finches a long time ago, the kinds of things covered in SJ Gould’s various papal bulls are so far in the rear view mirror that bringing them up is truly a Maginot Line type defense — it’s fighting the last war.  
     
    It’s a matter of turning the crank beyond this point to get the specific genes via a (by now standard) geno/pheno regression approach. No new theory is needed.  
     
    nowhere does your link to Gottferdson suggest that  
     
    Ben — the Gottfredson papers have a few key stats. I’d encourage a close reading of them, but:  
     
    1) you need an IQ of about 85-88 to even benefit from formal education.  
    2) the average IQ of the lowest IQ jobs — Janitor, Food Service — is 85 
    3) that’s the median IQ of the black population, which means ~50% of them are below the average IQ of janitors 
    4) moreover, less than 7% of black children were born to mothers with more than a 100 IQ, so the trends are worsening 
     
    It requires courage to recognize the reality of the situation. I’m going to quote a good set of comments from a recent Sailer post and call it a night on this one.  
     
    …only about 7% of all black children are born to mothers with IQ’s at or above 100: 
     
    Consider the results for the women of the 1979 NLSY cohort, whose childbearing years are effectively over (they ranged in age from thirty-eight to forty-five when these numbers were collected). Using a nationally representative subsample for the analysis, one finds that the mean AFQT score of the black women was 85.7. Sixty percent of the children born to this cohort were born to women with AFQT scores below that average. Another 33 percent were born to women with scores from 85.7 to 100. Only 7 percent were born to women with IQs of 100 and over. 
     
    That assertion is fairly consistent with the statistic which Steve Sailer just quoted in the piece at hand: 
     
    In the LA school district, no more than ten percent of entering 9th graders will, before they leave high school, score at or above the intended mean of 1000 on the SAT—Math plus Verbal, not including the new Writing test. (By the way, that would be an 890 under the pre-1995 SAT scoring system.) 
     
    I.e., when we consider “average” academic performance from the traditional vantage point of the American Caucasian, i.e. when we define “average” to be an SAT score of 1000, or an IQ score of 100, then we see that the bell curve for the NAMs falls off so precipitously from its mean [down in the 80's, or even the 70's] that only single digits’ worth of them are capable of “average” academic achievement. 
     
    But now look back at what “average” intellectual acumen [i.e. an IQ of 100] gets you…It gets you a truck driver! 
     
    [And not a very good truck driver at that.] 
     
    It doesn’t get you an electrician [who has to compute things like wattage loads], it doesn’t get you a plumber [who has to compute water pressures], it doesn’t get you a carpenter [who has to compute lengths of sides of triangles*], and it sure as heck doesn’t get you a really skilled woodcraftsman, like a cabinetmaker – instead, it gets you somebody who MIGHT [just might!] be capable of reading a map, charting a course down a grid of Interstate highways, and knowing [or at least intuiting] that it probably wouldn’t be a very bright idea to introduce any gasoline into a diesel fuel system when he’s refueling at the truck stop. 
     
    Instead, what we have now are millions upon millions [maybe even tens of millions] of children who are so stupid that the very BEST we can hope for is that they would grow up to be relatively sober, relatively punctual, relatively polite janitors. 
     
    Actually, that’s probably a fantasy in and of itself: Our best hope might very well be that they grow up to be rude, tardy, drunk janitors, but that at least they make an effort to stay employed. 
     
    What’s more likely is that they will simply work their way into the “system”, and end up costing us $19,588 per year every year for the remainder of their lives. 
     
    and 
     
    http://www.psych.utoronto.ca/users/reingold/courses/intelligence/cache/1198gottfredbox2.html 
     
    Note how Gottfredson says that only people above 100 IQ can benefit from “written materials” during training. 
     
    Rather than think of it as “literate” or not (i.e. a boolean), how about a continuous value? What about vocabulary size as a function of IQ, or sample texts which can be read by people of a given IQ? 
     
    and 
     
    Anonymous said… 
     
    Look at the NAAL (national assessment of adult literacy) sample questions: 
     
    http://nces.ed.gov/NAAL/sample_results.asp?SortBy=PercentCorrect&SortOrder=Desc&Results=True&ItemView=&pagesize=20 
     
    Actually, even better…take a look here: 
     
    http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997whygmatters.pdf 
     
    See page 33, the bit where Gottfredson says 
     
    “Finally, one out of seven White adults functions routinely no higher than Level 1 (less than 225), which is limited to 80% proficiency in skills like locating an expiration date on a driverÂ’s license and totaling a bank deposit. Individuals at Level 1 or 2 “are not likely to be able to perform the range of complex literacy tasks that the National Education Goals Panel considers important for competing successfully in a global economy and exercising fully the rights and responsibilities of citizenship” 
     
    Do the math: 
     
    1/7 white adults = qnorm(1/7) (in R) = -1.06 = 85 IQ = black mean 
     
    Looks like lucius is close to the truth here… 
     
    The basic issue is that people who read and write for fun really have *no idea* what it means to have an IQ below 85. It means that you cannot learn to read or seriously benefit from 12 years of schooling. And, as noted above, it means that you are “not likely to be able to perform the range of complex literacy tasks that the National Education Goals Panel considers important for…exercising fully the rights and responsibilities of citizenship”.

  60. Relating to the mother of all neurobiological group differences … I’ve recently taken to thinking that Jensen et al’s interpretation of the BW gap as being substantially genetic is not the most solid and useful conclusion they can make. What their data instead directly indicate is that BW differences in important cognitive abilities exist and they are highly resistant to environmental remediation. They may or may not strictly be differences in g, they may or may not have a simple genetic basis, they may or may not be related to differences in brain size, and they may or may not be the result of differences in natural selection. Pragmatically, this is an equivalent conclusion to Jensen’s position, as it has essentially all of the same policy entailments. For the science, however, its a much firmer position to take w.r.t. causal explanations. In line with p-ter’s argument, simple phenotypic differences may have complex underlying causes — and there’s certainly enough ambiguity in psychometrics to leave us with some doubt about the details. There may yet be some cryptic environmental factors at work. 
     
    However, what we do very well know, is that for the most part*, the quality of schooling isn’t responsible. We know that the differences begin early — too early for most trivial environmental explanations. We know that the differences are reflected in performance on non-psychometric measurements such as reaction time; and more generally that they permeate the nexus of g-correlates. We know that most attempts at remediation have no lasting effect. What all this tells us is that the status-quo is failing. From a policy perspective we need a Manhattan project for raising IQ and instead we platitudes. We need research on breast feeding, micronutrients, low birth weight, drug abuse, prenatal and perinatal care. We need pragmatic solutions. But in today’s PC academic environment, how are you going to get IRB approval and funding for the needed research? 
     
    Per gc, these differences have massive social and economic consequences. For GNXP readers, people with 110 IQs are probably seen as a little dim. We just don’t have the personal experiences to grasp the data in the the Gottfredson papers. Consider the most difficult quantitative item from she lists from the NALS: 
    Using calculator, determine the total cost of carpet to cover a room. 
    Fewer than 1 in 25 whites performs at this level. The full range of limitations that people across the IQ spectrum face is mind boggling: 
    IQ 75 to 80 thus seems to define the threshold below which individuals risk being unemployable in modern economies. 
    … 
    individuals below [IQ 80-83] are unlikely to benefit much from training in any formalized setting and will later need constant supervision using even simple tools. 
    … 
    Even up to [IQ 95], workers tend to need explicit teaching of most of what they need to know, and they do not benefit much from “book learning” training. 
    … 
    This roughly 30% of the working population above IQ 110 (25% of the total adult population) would also be essential for training and supervising even the next lower third of the working population, which is “able to learn routines quickly” and with a “combination of written materials and actual job experience” [roughly IQ 100-113].

  61. I’ll reiterate: the existence of differences in brains and genes (and bodies, or any of that other tertiary stuff) does not prove anything as to the causes of the gaps. 
     
    This isn’t a contest anymore. It hasn’t been for quite some time. For people in the field, arguing over this is like the NYT vs. Goddard. 
     
    That’s false, it is still contested, hence Murray’s interest in genomic studies to finally settle it, hence the ongoing argument between environmentalists and hereditarians, etc. In fact, even Gottferdson, an uncompromising hereditarian, in the link YOU provided, says: “high within race heritabilities lend plausibility, but not proof, to the hypothesis that group mean differences in IQ are substantially heritable.” Your comparison of the hereditarian side of this argument to physically demonstrated laws like how rockets move in space is an ignorant summary of the ongoing debate that not even those academics who agree with you would endorse.  
     
    you need an IQ of about 85-88 to even benefit from formal education. 
     
    define benefit. i would consider learning basic literacy a benefit. 
     
    … 
     
    the rest of your post is devoted to showing that IQ matters, which I haven’t contested in the first place.

  62. wow, 61 comments and this comes down to radical skepticism about the cause of the BW IQ gap? 
     
    here’s the exercise: 
    1. enumerate the plausible hypotheses 
    2. assign prior probabilities to them 
    3. evaluate the totality of the evidence 
    4. now consider the posterior probabilities of each hypothesis 
     
    evidence such as differences in genes, brains and behavior are informative if they push on those priors, which they certainly do. there are a range of hypotheses which predict that those differences don’t exist. science works like this, not by demanding an absolute standard for proof from just one hypothesis.

  63. ‘LOL’, 
     
    i’m not radically skeptical about the causes of the BW IQ gap. i just feel that i don’t have enough info right now to say which side is right, or even more likely for that matter. either of the following would convince me that the hereditarian hypothesis is more likely: 
     
    1.) If the influence of peer groups on IQ was fully examined and was found to fit hereditarian predictions. 
    2.) Genomic evidence using brain expressed IQ genes. 
     
    You claim that differences in brains and genes and behavior make the hereditarian hypothesis more likely. for the most part, that’s not true. rather, if brain differences didn’t exist, then there would be nothing to argue about– the environmental explanation would be the only one possible. same with genetic variation. if there was not enough genetic variation to cause the gaps, then the environmental explanation would be the only one left. so, no likelihoods are pushed by most of such evidence. rather, such evidence makes the hereditarian hypothesis possible. i will admit that several environmental explanations for the BW IQ gap have been ruled out. so i’ll offer one, which, based on my reading of the literature, i dont think has been ruled out: the BW IQ gap grows with age not because of genetics but because of socialization (as well as prenatal/nutrition effects). according to JR Harris peer groups are the biggest factor in overall socialization. as i stated earlier, if the effect of peer groups were ruled out as a major cause of the IQ gaps, i’d have to concede that the hereditarian hypothesis seems more plausible. genomic evidence would seal the deal.

  64. ben g – fair enough. i should have specified that i was a splitter rather than a lumper when it comes to doing step 1. if you enumerate two hypotheses and allow each to adopt the most defensible position, you make a fair assessment. however, if you enumerate each permutation of the various environmental and genetic hypotheses, there are a large number of environmental hypotheses which are ruled out by finding that the differences run deep phenotypically. perhaps this is something we agree about. 
     
    wrt peer socialization, i believe rowe had a paper in the 90s looking at the IQs of friends of siblings and detected no socialization effects.

  65. I’ll try and find the Rowe study tomorrow if I have some free-time and give a comment on it. A citation would be nice if anyone has it.

  66. GC: 
     
    In previously acknowledging your high level of competence in statistical analysis and understanding and your scrupulousness in constructing arguments based on such data, I may have been just a bit hasty.  
     
    From one of your posts above come these tidbits, or as you refer to them, “data points”: 
     
    2) the average IQ of the lowest-IQ jobs–Janitor, Food Service–is 85 
    3) that’s the median IQ of the black population, which means that 50% of them are unqualified to be janitors  
     
    It’s hard to believe that you, yourself could accept such statistical simplism. But, if not, the only other explanation that occurs to me is that you were practicing a deliberate sleight-of-hand–a misdirection intended to bolster other of your positions and diminish those of opponents. 
    No matter; intentional or not, the conclusion you offer is false and is based on a misapplication of statistically-presented information so very elementary as to be wondrous. 
     
    A median black IQ of 85 most emphatically does not tell us that half of their number are unqualified to be janitors; if it tells us anything, it’s simply that half of that population is above the average janitor-IQ. A very general, nonexpert familiarity with populations would lead us to expect a normal distribution curve of IQs. But ordinary common sense applied to your statement (2, above)would keep anyone from making the mistake that you’ve either made yourself or ginned up to skate a non-sequiturial conclusion past an inattentive readership. 
     
    Those who are janitors are presumptively qualified for that position. Qualification itself presumes a threshold of some sort (about which you’ve said nothing), which is the only piece of information that, given, would permit much of any conclusion about the percentage of blacks qualified to be janitors (or anything else). 
     
    Further, there’s no reason to expect normal distribution of of an attribute (such as IQ) within a population whose characteristics are, in part, determined by the magnitude of that attribute. Instead of the normal distribution due to the “fickle finger of fate,” we’ve actually got a “thumb on the scale” deliberately skewing the shape of that curve according to purposes of its own. I’m not talking about your thumb on the scale, GC–in this case, it’s the thumb of society in general, or, if you’d like, “the market,” which, through combinations of remuneration, working conditions, and status incentives, encourages the performance of the desired quantity and quality of labor. In short, men (and through their joint, composite effect, i.e., the market) economize. The effect of such action will be, in general, to assure that, in any occupational specialty where performance is in any way IQ-dependent, most practitioners will cluster closer to the threshold–the “good enough”–so as not to “waste” those whose higher abilities qualify for the threshold of a performance even more desirable. You’ve heard about those kids from Lake Wobegon–you know, the ones who are “all above average?” That’ll come to an end when they get out in the workplace–where almost everybody’s below average, at least, in “good” times.

  67. Hi gene,  
     
    imply that half of that population is above the average janitor-IQ  
     
    Careless mistake on my part, can only chalk it up to drowsiness. Thanks for pointing that out — fixed.  
     
    The effect of such action will be, in general, to assure that, in any occupational specialty where performance is in any way IQ-dependent, most practitioners will cluster closer to the threshold  
     
    Interesting hypothesis. This might be true for mid-IQ jobs. However, as far as I’m aware, high IQ professions like law, engineering, academia, etc. have a skewed/long tail distribution.  
     
    Easy way to verify this is to get ahold of one of Gottfredson’s datasets and make some conditional density plots of IQ on occupation.  
     
    closer to the threshold–the “good enough” 
     
    Regarding threshold effects, it’s important to note that empirical evidence is on the other side — i.e. that more IQ is *always* better for professional outcomes (which are separate from social outcomes).  
     
    See Benbow’s 1 in 10000 paper:  
     
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/Peabody/SMPY/Top1in10000.pdf

  68. [Davey Bar-Shimon, posting from IP address 65.122.177.187 at the Bureau of Education and Research in Seattle Washington, if you post here again under any name we will inform your supervisor. ]

  69. ben —  
     
    0) Before citing refs to Rowe etc., it’d be great if you could find the time to read this link, particularly the table: 
     
    http://www.cato-unbound.org/2007/11/26/linda-s-gottfredson/flynn-ceci-and-turkheimer-on-race-and-intelligence-opening-moves/ 
    http://www.cato-unbound.org/wp-content/themes/unbound/media/images/gottfredson-table.html 
     
    1) Rowe has several papers on the topic, but this  
    one sums it up well:  
     
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W4M-45MD763-F&_user=145269&_coverDate=02%2F28%2F1997&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000012078&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=145269&md5=ec536f455ba8e6142a81beb529608248 
     
    The knowledge generated in behavior genetic studies is not often made a part of social policy deliberations. The argument of this article is that behavior genetics belongs at the social policy table. Perhaps ironically, behavior genetics is one of the best methods for understanding environmental influences. Behavior genetic studies can reveal which traits are most influenced by shared environment and, thus, which are most malleable through changes in shared environments. The current consensus of behavior genetic studies is that IQ is not a particularly melleable trait, especially after childhood. Furthermore, for working- to-middle-class families, the shared environmental effects on IQ in childhood seem to be temporary rather than lasting. Behavior genetics also can estimate genetic and family environmental components of racial differences in IQ because quantitative genetic models now permit the simultaneous analysis of group means and individual variation. Although not as directly relevant to policy as targeted research on specific policy options, behavior genetics clearly deserves representation. 
     
    Just FYI, Jim Heckman — Nobel Laureate who criticized the Bell Curve way back when — also tried in this area and came up with blanks. No lasting effect of non-nutritional shared environment on IQ (i.e. environment which we can predictably control) has yet been demonstrated.  
     
    2) Besides iodine and possibly creatione supplementation, I am aware of only one paper — very recent — which offers any hope whatsoever. Just came out a few weeks ago, by Jaeggi et al:  
     
    http://www.iapsych.com/articles/jaeggi2008.pdf 
     
    http://intelligencetesting.blogspot.com/2008/06/traing-working-memory-increases-fluid.html 
     
    This is the first paper to ever demonstrate transfer — training on one task boosting Gf performance on other tasks. This may be the beginning of something I’ve long been interested in — a science of “mental resistance training”, i.e. non-obvious repetitive exercises to boost intelligence. Obviously the work is very new and needs to be replicated. In particular, it remains to be seen how long the gains endure, but this is the research direction which the team is pursuing. It is unlikely that this will close gaps — indeed, it will probably exacerbate them, in the same way Schwarzenegger’s physique becomes even more ripped than the normal man in the presence of a barbell rack. However, if the results hold up and are stable over time, it may bring up the distribution in absolute terms, which is a positive good.  
     
    3) As you note, there have been a number of ad-hoc explanations for the black-white IQ gap — “stereotype threat”, “cultural bias”, “segregated classrooms”, “institutional racism”, “post-traumatic slavery disorder”, “code switching in african american vernacular english”, “acting white”, “a lack of black role models”, etc. — with varying degrees of plausibility. Many of these have been taken apart in the IQ literature; here’s a thorough debunking of stereotype threat by Sackett et al.:  
     
    http://www2.uni-jena.de/svw/igc/studies/ss03/sackitt_hardison_cullen_2004.pdf 
     
    Short version of Sackett’s debunking: in the absence of stereotype threat, the BW gap is the expected ~1SD.  
     
    The “bias” hypothesis was of course taken apart by Jensen many years ago, and nothing has overturned his results:  
     
    http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ602971&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ602971 
     
    Summarizes the major conclusions from “Bias in Mental Testing” (BIMT) published in 1980, and evaluates writing on test bias published since BIMT. Results show that empirical research to date consistently finds that standardized cognitive tests are not biased in terms of predictive and construct validity. (Author/MKA) 
     
    Similar studies can be adduced debunking many of the other ad-hoc explanations. But basically over 60 years, with the exception of Flynn, the nurturists have not laid a glove on the hereditarians.  
     
    This is because the nurturist paradigm is a degenerative one. It has never demonstrated a reproducible intervention to “close the gaps”. As Gottfredson’s table demonstrates, it relies on a Russian doll sequence of arguments. In the same conversation with the same interlocutor, as more and more evidence is brought to bear the gap predictably goes from nonexistent, to mismeasured, to unimportant, to easily malleable, to possibly malleable, to possibly *un*-malleable — but unthinkable.  
     
    4) I’ll reiterate: the existence of differences in brains and genes (and bodies, or any of that other tertiary stuff) does not prove anything as to the causes of the gaps. 
     
    Ben — the point is that in **every other area of biology**, correlations of a predictable kind exist between these levels.  
     
    You are asking us to believe that the black/white gap is the **one place** in which groups A and B differ genetically and neurologically (and hormonally, etc.) — yet there is no correlation between the genetic and neurological variation.  
     
    The likelihood of that being true is nil.  
     
    What we have today is analogous to a situation in which variation along a bunch of individual columns in a dataset — genetics, neuroscience, hormones, etc. — has been tabulated separately, but not together.  
     
    All that’s left is to form the augmented matrix by tabulating them at the same time on the same subjects. That’s it. That’s all that’s needed to demonstrate correlation between different layers.  
     
    How exactly could 6 billion humans in innumerable microenvironments experience stabilizing selection for IQ *and not* brain morphology? You try squaring that scenario with the LD-based selection scans we see today. Several groups have tried it. Just can’t be done. No one is seeing islands of massively reduced selection on neurological genes — quite the opposite in fact.  
     
    So given the enormous priors in favor, nothing from social science on peer groups, or “acting white”, or anything like that is going to stop this molecular neurogenetic correlation from being found. It’s just a matter of running a more sophisticated geno/pheno regression with more variants. We might need full sequence to get enough signal — SNP chips alone won’t do it — but that’s soon going to be available.  
     
    5) it is still contested, hence Murray’s interest…even Gottferdson..  
     
    Linda and Charles, bless their heart and all their efforts, aren’t in genomics. They’d be the first to tell you that they don’t know the state of the art in the area.  
     
    Linda might even tell you to send me an email :) 
    Or to email p-ter, or omnivore, or sweep, or darth, or rikurzhen…I think you might have noticed that I’m not the only one saying all this.  
     
    Moreover, while I myself am simply just a janitor with a library pass, let’s just say that as I kept my ear to the door of the faculty lounge, I noticed that not one, not two, but dozens upon dozens of professors across the US have been coming to similar conclusions. The ideological basement of the NYT is filled with gasoline, waiting for a match.  
     
    Here’s an experiment for you. Go to Cold Spring Harbor. Buttonhole someone at a geno/pheno conference. Ask them off the record whether we will soon map normal cognitive variation to the genome. Repeat till say N = 50. Tell me what you find :)

  70. Ben, 
     
    Regarding socialization and IQ it should be noted that black children adopted transracially show a pattern of socializing primarily with whites. 
     
    From “Outcomes of Transracial Adoption,” by Arnold R. Silverman, Adoption, Vol. 3, No. 1 – Spring 1993: 
     
    “Seventy three percent of black transracial adoptees indicated “white” as their choice of friends, similar to the choice of the nonblack transracial adoptees… Sixty percent of the transracial adoptees dates whites exclusively, 11% dated blacks exculsively, and 27% dated both blacks and whites… The authors attributed the white predominance in friendships and dating to the predominantly white neighborhoods in which a high proportion of the transracial adoptees lived and the predominantly white schools they attended.”  
     
    The children were around 15 at the time. Whether this pattern held for the kids in the Scarr adoption study I can’t say for certain because I don’t have the study on me but I would expect that it did, given that 1) it seems to be the case in all the studies I’ve seen, as as someone who works specifically in adoption/child welfare research I’ve seen quite a few studies and 2) the kids in that study were raised in Minnessota.. :-)

  71. gc - 
     
    *Already read the Cato Unbound stuff. [I'll get to discussing the gottferdson table later in this comment if you scroll down a bit.] 
     
    “Furthermore, for working- to-middle-class families, the shared environmental effects on IQ in childhood seem to be temporary rather than lasting.” 
     
    So? Read JR Harris’s view on Rowe here. she puts it better than i could. i would add that peer groups are not synonymous with the broad category called shared environment, even though there is some degree of overlap. additionally, i would note taht something being temporary does not mean that it is insignificant, especially if its part of a causal chain that leads into the future. 
     
    No lasting effect of non-nutritional shared environment on IQ (i.e. environment which we can predictably control) has yet been demonstrated.  
     
    If the cause of the gap is culturally deep rooted we wouldn’t expect it to be easily manipulatable.  
     
    Besides iodine and possibly creatione supplementation 
     
    Breastfeeding was what i had in mind.. 
     
    This is because the nurturist paradigm is a degenerative one. It has never demonstrated a reproducible intervention to “close the gaps”. 
     
    1.) Just because something is environmentally caused does not imply that simple policy steps can be taken to get rid of (most of) it. If the environmental cause is complex and deeply rooted (which seems to be the only viable environmental explanation), then this shouldn’t be a surprise. 2.) For those who ascribe the gap solely to genetics, there is no sociology work to be done. They can sit back and just talk genes. Sociology, done well, is a lot harder than behavioral genetics done well. The latter is incredibly complex but is at the level of a few variables. 
     
    For those reasons I’d say we shouldn’t judge the hypotheses based on interventions or policy prescriptions. 
     
    As Gottfredson’s table demonstrates, it relies on a Russian doll sequence of arguments. In the same conversation with the same interlocutor, as more and more evidence is brought to bear the gap predictably goes from nonexistent, to mismeasured, to unimportant, to easily malleable, to possibly malleable, to possibly *un*-malleable — but unthinkable. 
     
    Giving brief three sentence summaries of the various reasons that people disagree with you and then ordering them by level of agreement is childish IMHO. i’ll admit that people who haven’t studied the literature do tend to follow that table in their arguments. however, to apply that table to everyone who disagrees with you is to basically say that they only believe what they do because of cognitive dissonance, as opposed to coming to their own views based on careful study. as for myself, i will attest that in the past i’ve oscillated between thinking the environmentalists are right and thinking the hereditarians are right. my agnosticism is a recent development which is based on a desire for more evidence in some areas which i think deserve special examination. 
     
    Ben — the point is that in **every other area of biology**, correlations of a predictable kind exist between these levels.  
     
    Huh? “between these levels” and ____? and intelligence? please be clear, im confused by this statement. 
     
    You are asking us to believe that the black/white gap is the **one place** in which groups A and B differ genetically and neurologically (and hormonally, etc.) — yet there is no correlation between the genetic and neurological variation. The likelihood of that being true is nil. 
     
    no, i’m not saying that. let me clarify with a couple of points. 1) it is not true that the black/white gap is the one place where there (might) be no genetic cause in difference. black people are more likely to speak swahili than white people. this is obvious, but when you make broad-brushing claims without clarity it prevents the dialectic from progressing. 2) I can confidently assume that by “genetic” you mean “brain genetics”, not the genetics of skin color or other such. To clarify, yes I do believe (based on the several lines of direct evidence for it) that there are population differences in brain genes that correlate with population differences in brains. 3) i believe that the environmental position has elsewhere (forget where) been summarized as a belief in a 0 to ~20% genetic cause, and the hereditarian as something more like ~40 to 100% genetic cause.  
     
    All that’s left is to form the augmented matrix by tabulating them at the same time on the same subjects. That’s it. That’s all that’s needed to demonstrate correlation between different layers.  
     
    And a whole lot more data is needed before that could be satisfactorily done. Hence the existence of different opinions.. 
     
    How exactly could 6 billion humans in innumerable microenvironments experience stabilizing selection for IQ *and not* brain morphology? 
     
    If we’re going to talk about how intelligence evolved, please be more specific than summaries of cognitive difference like g or IQ. It’s like talking about how muscles evolved by talking about “selection for bench pressing.” 
     
    Linda and Charles, bless their heart and all their efforts, aren’t in genomics. They’d be the first to tell you that they don’t know the state of the art in the area. 
     
    True, they are not in the field of genomics, and thus aren’t on the bleeding edge. So? Where is the bleeding edge evidence in genomics which shows a substantially genetic cause to the race IQ gaps? I’ve seen only a few IQ genes discussed here and elsewhere. 
     
    #——————— 
     
    by gc:  
     
    The comments thread appears closed, and I couldn’t find a way to reopen it. But let me add some final remarks (I don’t mean this to be a “last word” thing, we can continue the discussion on another thread if you want).  
     
    You seem to agree with my key point:  
     
    yes I do believe (based on the several lines of direct evidence for it) that there are population differences in brain genes that correlate with population differences in brains. 
     
    So I’m scratching my head, because if you accept that I’m not sure what we’re arguing over. Is it just the degree of genetic causation? My feeling is that when all is said and done, most behavioral variation will be attributable to genetics and nonshared environment (=random noise) rather than reproducible interventions (shared environment). In particular, what needs to be taken into account is that *your genes shape your behavior* — your choice of peers, your self-labeling, your environment — in much the same way a fish’s genes prompt it to seek out water or a bird’s genes direct it to form a nest.  
     
    But just to summarize my position re: why I think genomics is a game ender — Populations differ genetically. They differ neurologically. And they differ genetically in neurologically related genes (see also this, this, this, and this).  
     
    That’s the logic. Again, you seem to agree with the key points, but you might not be aware of the recent barrage of papers correlating CNVs w/ neurological variation, including complex phenotypes like autism and schizophrenia — the above links are informative in that regard. We’re talking 5 years max before the same studies are done with IQ.  
     
    As for sociology…arguing about the sociological evidence now is like arguing about alchemy. Sociology rejects biology. A sociological experiment which fails to control for genetics is as useless as a medical study without a placebo control. Since the vast majority of sociological research does not include such controls — indeed, is actively hostile to such controls — it is of little relevance.  
     
    Sociology will eventually be put on a firm foundation when it accepts that it is founded on biology, in the same way that biology accepts that it’s founded on chemistry, chemistry on physics, and physics on mathematics. Till then it’s founded on a house of sand.  
     
    PS: we’ll know when sociology is reshaped in this way when every sociology PhD is familiar with behavioral genetics and brain imaging. 
     
    PSS: I hope you haven’t taken offense at anything I’ve written here. If you *are* a sociologist, we need more open minded people like you :) 

    Edited By Siteowner

  72. >”brain genetics”, not the genetics of skin color > 
     
    Genes are pleiotropic. You never know.

  73. Marc, 
     
    thanks for the cite. i found a link here for anyone who wants to read the cite in full. a couple questions that the citation leaves open 
    1) what are the results outside of minnesota, in significantly multi-racial communities/cities? identical? at the very least it would test the authors claims about why the peer group racial compositions were comparable across races (the “predominantly white schools they attended.”). 
    2) are the white peer groups that the blacks go into similar to the ones that whites go into (as far as IQ, SES, musical/cultural interests)? or are there systematic differences? 
    3) what role do the black kids play within their peer groups? is said role systematically different from that of white kids in white peer groups? jr harris talks about how people are molded by the role they inhabit in their peer groups (be it class clown, the nerd, the jock, whatev). not sure about the best way of examining this but it would seem important. 
    4) in the MTRA study, several seemingly important things weren’t controlled for, like quality of placement. i wonder if in the adoption studies like the one you cite, quality of placement and other such variables *were* comparable. if so, that might confound attempts to draw conclusions by conjoining the conclusions of the two studies together. 
     
    that’s all that comes to mind right now, but once again, thanks for the interesting citation. i’ll read it in full when i get a chance and probably comment on it.

  74. what are the results outside of minnesota, in significantly multi-racial communities/cities? identical?  
     
    I don’t know that the results I cited were from Minnesota… were they? Anyway, in regard to significant multi-racial communities, I don’t know. I know that the BIG push in adoption right now is to connect a child with his or her culture. White people who adopt transracially are encouraged – strongly encouraged – by caseworkers to have black friends and role models for the child, live in an integrated community, go to an integrated church, etc… MEPA-IEP still prohibits agencies from using race as a determining factor but the message is clear and most parents go along with it. What this means for us is: we are going to have fewer and fewer black children being raised by white parents in white neighborhoods to test for this sort of thing in the future.  
     
    are the white peer groups that the blacks go into similar to the ones that whites go into (as far as IQ, SES, musical/cultural interests)? or are there systematic differences? 
     
    I doubt that any of the studies out there are this in-depth. They aren’t trying to examine IQ differences, remember. Only the Minnesota Scarr study (that I’m aware of) did that. Speaking of which, I really need to get my hands on that. 
     
    what role do the black kids play within their peer groups? is said role systematically different from that of white kids in white peer groups? jr harris talks about how people are molded by the role they inhabit in their peer groups (be it class clown, the nerd, the jock, whatev). not sure about the best way of examining this but it would seem important. 
     
    To one’s score on an IQ test? I can’t see it having that much of an influence… I think you’re reaching here, to be honest. 
     
    in the MTRA study, several seemingly important things weren’t controlled for, like quality of placement. What do you mean by “quality of placement?”

  75. I don’t know that the results I cited were from Minnesota… were they? 
     
    my mistake.. i was under the impression that you said that “2) the kids in that study were raised in Minnessota.. :-)” and that that was referring to the study you cited… 
     
    I don’t know that the results I cited were from Minnesota… were they? Anyway, in regard to significant multi-racial communities, I don’t know. I know that the BIG push in adoption right now is to connect a child with his or her culture. White people who adopt transracially are encouraged – strongly encouraged – by caseworkers to have black friends and role models for the child, live in an integrated community, go to an integrated church, etc… MEPA-IEP still prohibits agencies from using race as a determining factor but the message is clear and most parents go along with it. What this means for us is: we are going to have fewer and fewer black children being raised by white parents in white neighborhoods to test for this sort of thing in the future. 
     
    that’s really interesting. what are your thoughts on it overall? i haven’t read the study in full yet, so maybe you can shine some light on whether this “big push” is based on anything empirically sound (usually “big pushes” aren’t!) 
     
    I doubt that any of the studies out there are this in-depth. 
     
    unfortunately not. in fact, independent of race, there’s been no longitudinal study of the effect of peer groups on IQ (i’d be happy to be corrected if someone knows of one). 
     
    Only the Minnesota Scarr study (that I’m aware of) did that. Speaking of which, I really need to get my hands on that. 
     
    me too. i’ve basically picked up most of its findings by reading their follow up study at age 17 and reading the various summaries out there. they don’t have it at my university’s online access archives for some reason. if there’s anything in there about peer groups that’d be very interesting. 
     
    To one’s score on an IQ test? I can’t see it having that much of an influence… I think you’re reaching here, to be honest. 
     
    fair enough, although the proposition that one’s “role” inside one’s peer group has significant effects on personality and intelligence is an idea from JR Harris, not original to me. 
     
    What do you mean by “quality of placement?” 
     
    I’d have to check Scarr’s response again, but i believe that quality of placement is IQ of the adoptive parents. I do have written down in my notes on that study that “Quality of placement correlated .46 with Childhood IQ, .34 with Late Adolescent IQ (Scarr 1994)” Quality of placement is just one of many problems (smaller than some of the others) with relying on that study for the true size of the BW IQ gap when controlling for environment. We can go into the other stuff if you’d like.

  76. gc, 
     
    i’ll respond tomorrow if the thread is still open. if the thread closes before i can respond just send me an email.

  77. i’ll leave it open as long as the quality remains at this level. though it will automatically close on the 7th.

  78. GC: 
     
    The objections you’ve raised are valid–it’s just that they’re not objections per se but, rather other influences on the shape of the distribution of attributes within particular occupational specialties. Not for a nanosecond would I maintain that the economic is the only nor even always the principal determinant of the shape of whatever curve is under observation. 
    Examples abound.  
     
    Other incentives exist than even the primary ones I mentioned. Security of various types appeals in different ways to different personalities, as do “opportunity for advancement,” the opportunity of contact with those who are objects of sexual desire or fantasy, opportunity to derive sadistic gratifications. There is no doubt (because it’s related truistically) that every job or job class will be performed better by those better qualified (by IQ or other quality)–it’s simply that economy is primarily in the direction I cited. When the shape and general effect of economic pressure that I’ve described has been internalized (by you, that is–and there’s nothing that abstruse about it, after all), you’ll actually begin to understand just why different types of promotion policies become characteristic of different industrial specialties or bureaucratic functions or academic departments. In many cases (and this is not a criticism of any particular of such cases), the employment policies are deliberately designed for the express purpose of muting more primary incentives. It’s why “time in grade” is the universal characteristic of the civil service and military bureaucracies. It’s why there is almost no way to prevent the teaching and pastoral-type professions from continuing as havens for those with pedophilic tendencies as long as parents (through their school boards) put more political emphasis on pay than personal qualities. It works the other way, also–in favor of the more able. The abundance of those who like to “throw their weight around,” “kick ass,” and exert authority brings a superfluity of those well-qualified to be cops–to such an extent that many who are a bit too able along those lines have to be weeded out, hopefully before. Of course higher IQ leads to better outcomes in every job classification. But there’s better and then there’s better and the higher desirability (to the market) will normally drive the able upward where thesholds merge (an unachievable end-state might actually look like an almost-C. Northcote Parkinson-world where everyone would be in a position for which he was barely qualified. Alternatively, when everyone is perfectly (or over-) qualified for their particular position, you know you’re in a static or contracting economy. 
     
    The thing I’m trying to get you to see is that there’s an entire body of knowledge out there with extraordinarily useful potential. Neither arcane nor unrealistic; if anything, it conveys understanding of certain practical limits to the beneficial effects which might be expected from other scientific endeavors (such as your own) related to life in society; in your own case, it might even help delineate promising avenues for research from likely “blind alleys.” Especially in the long run, your own time might be enormously conserved by understanding why certain , currently much-attended methods and studies conducted accordingly, purporting to quantify aspects of economic behavior, including the entirety of the highly-developed “econometric” methods and literature as well as attempts to learn anything about economic behavior or processes from experiments, simulations, or behavior in game-playing, do not even rise to the level of masturbation, which practice at least has some practical object in mind–and achieves it (at least, usually).  
     
    The (Mises) book to read is HUMAN ACTION. A month to read, three or four years to digest, maybe another three or four to “internalize,” –probably all at no more cost in time than a few occasional superfluous blog commentaries. But if that seems daunting or a potential waste of too large a block of valuable time, I’d suggest (as an alternate introduction to a species of unfamiliar thought) a much shorter work: THE ULTIMATE FOUNDATION OF ECONOMIC SCIENCE (An Essay on Method). The former is close to 900 pages in length and is magisterial in scope, ranging from synopsized treatment of methodological matters and their justification to specific description/analysis of economic processes and their interrelationship; the latter is about 130 pages–much shorter–but focused exclusively on the former, primarily intellectual basis of the (economic) science. 
     
    On final thought. We all know and recognize what it means to be smug. But such quality, usually occasioned by and associated with success, has a differential moral significance related to intelligence. What is understandable, acceptable, and entirely justifiable when exhibited by those in the lower orders of intellect, loses these qualities as one ascends that same scale. And, at the much higher or highest levels, it is virtually transformed into a form of sin (of ommission): if the intellect can be said to have a duty, it is to itself–to its own highest development.

  79. that’s really interesting. what are your thoughts on it overall? i haven’t read the study in full yet, so maybe you can shine some light on whether this “big push” is based on anything empirically sound (usually “big pushes” aren’t!) 
     
    My thoughts on it are that it is an intellectual fad. The only measurable and replicable difference between blacks raised by whites who try to instill a race-neutral worldview in them and blacks raised by whites who try to connect them to the larger African-American culture and instill a sense of ethnic pride in them is that…blacks raised by whites who try to connect them to the larger African-American culture and instill a sense of ethnic pride tend to have more interaction with other blacks and feel a greater sense of ethnic pride. They don’t have fewer adjustment, behavioral or emotional problems or do better scholastically–effects that, in my opinion, would warrant the sea change in attitudes that we are seeing. Personally, I have nothing against raising kids to be proud of their race or ethnicity (within reason, of course) and that goes for all kids – whites, blacks, Asians, Jews, etc… But a lot of people in child welfare right now are just wasting everyone’s time with this nonsense. Note also that black people who are most likely to express a strong sense of racial identity are most likely to be lower class, same as with whites. (Source: GSS data from 2004) 
     
    fair enough, although the proposition that one’s “role” inside one’s peer group has significant effects on personality and intelligence is an idea from JR Harris, not original to me. 
     
    Personality I can see to an extent, but even that is highly relative. The “alpha male” among a bunch of nerds might be conditioned by his peer group to act a certain way over time–but I think that conditioning would completely unravel in a very short amount of time if you put him in a dorm full of jocks. As for intelligence, I would have to see some evidence to accept that. 
     
    I’d have to check Scarr’s response again, but i believe that quality of placement is IQ of the adoptive parents. I do have written down in my notes on that study that “Quality of placement correlated .46 with Childhood IQ, .34 with Late Adolescent IQ (Scarr 1994)” Quality of placement is just one of many problems (smaller than some of the others) with relying on that study for the true size of the BW IQ gap when controlling for environment. We can go into the other stuff if you’d like. 
     
    Yeah, that does ring a bell, but it’s been a while since I read Scarr. Like I said I need to go over Scarr again, as well as the other transracial adoption studies. There should be some forum or website for educated laymen to hash out the whole race-IQ issue for themselves.

  80. You seem to agree with my key point: 
     
    yes I do believe (based on the several lines of direct evidence for it) that there are population differences in brain genes that correlate with population differences in brains. 
     
    So I’m scratching my head, because if you accept that I’m not sure what we’re arguing over. Is it just the degree of genetic causation?
     
     
    I disagree that the evidence right now points to the degree of genetic causation you’re suggesting. More importantly, it’s a fallacy on your part to suggest that the existence of genetic variation which correlates with brain structure/function which correlates to g or IQ proves that there has to be some kind of gap when all i said and done. Here’s a metaphor. Let’s say we each draw 3 cards from a deck. You draw 5, 7, and 10. I draw 8, 9, and 5. Our average score is identical – 11, even though the numbers we drew were different. To put this in real terms: there are a couple genes known right now that correlate with IQ. Some of them are more common in whites, some more common in asians, and some (Gasp?) more common in black folk. It’s possible that these genes keep coming out, showing signficicant *meaningful* variation, and the final genetic tally is basically even (environmentalists “win” if it explains less than ~20% of the variance). 
     
    In particular, what needs to be taken into account is that *your genes shape your behavior* — your choice of peers, your self-labeling, your environment — in much the same way a fish’s genes prompt it to seek out water or a bird’s genes direct it to form a nest. 
     
    The genes surely play a role in socialization, but a birds nest is probably a poor analogy, because the GxE interactions are much more complex and weighted toward E, both intuitively and demonstratively, in social interaction. Of course, we’re now getting into gene berman territory (deduction, logical reasoning), which i generally try to avoid in any debate about science (and i’m guessing you do too), because of how cognitive biases and human error get so much more in the way than just discussing the empirical evidence. you might be right about peer-socialization being itself primarily a product of genes when it comes to IQ, but that’s yet to be supported.. a good longtiduinal study of IQ and peer groups is needed to settle this point. that’s part of why my position, as stated earlier, is one of agnosticism, not one of environmentalism. 
     
    But just to summarize my position re: why I think genomics is a game ender 
     
    I stated earlier that I also believe that a comprehensive genomics of IQ would seal the deal. (If i were being radically skeptical as ‘LOL’ claimed earlier i would insist on knowing the specific mechanisms.. which i’m not.) i expect a vague consensus on the percent of genetic contribution to the group IQ gaps to emerge in the next couple of decades. 
     
    Again, you seem to agree with the key points, but you might not be aware of the recent barrage of papers correlating CNVs w/ neurological variation, including complex phenotypes like autism and schizophrenia — the above links are informative in that regard. We’re talking 5 years max before the same studies are done with IQ. 
     
    p-ter has a post up today about how they have, after much work, gotten about 10% of the genetic variance in height. 5 years seems a bit optimistic for *intelligence*.  
     
    anyways.. what percent of the variance do they have figured out in regards to schizophrenia and autism?  
     
    As for sociology…arguing about the sociological evidence now is like arguing about alchemy. Sociology rejects biology. A sociological experiment which fails to control for genetics is as useless as a medical study without a placebo control. Since the vast majority of sociological research does not include such controls — indeed, is actively hostile to such controls — it is of little relevance. 
     
    Sociology will eventually be put on a firm foundation when it accepts that it is founded on biology, in the same way that biology accepts that it’s founded on chemistry, chemistry on physics, and physics on mathematics. Till then it’s founded on a house of sand. 
     
    PS: we’ll know when sociology is reshaped in this way when every sociology PhD is familiar with behavioral genetics and brain imaging.
     
     
    I agree with all that. But note that most sociology today being unempirical doesn’t mean that good, consilient sociology isn’t part of the final answer to a lot of social-group level questions. 
     
     
    PSS: I hope you haven’t taken offense at anything I’ve written here. If you *are* a sociologist, we need more open minded people like you :)
     
     
    Heh, no, I’m not a sociologist, and don’t plan on being one. Studying psychology/math.

  81. d’oh! “5, 7, and 10. I draw 8, 9, and 5. Our average score is identical – 11″ dividing by 2 instead of 3.. our average score would actually be 7 and 1/3

  82. ben g:  
     
    (minor note, but i prefer the term “nurturist” to “environmentalist” as the former is less ambiguous than the latter) 
     
    1) It’s possible that these genes keep coming out, showing signficicant *meaningful* variation, and the final genetic tally is basically even  
     
    Sure, one can conceive of theoretical scenarios in which we observe large behavioral differences (1SD is a *big* gap) but the underlying genetic variants totally wash out. That’s highly unlikely for a number of reasons, not least because we’re seeing selection on several of those neurological genes. Similar selection signals on other genes (e.g. melanocytes) are already known to have driven groups apart in phenotype, not together. 
     
    This gets at a larger point — any individual argument re: brain imaging, geno/pheno, selection, psychometrics, etc. can potentially be critiqued if it’s taken only on its lonesome.  
     
    But when you sum the totality of evidence (I’ve outlined it above, ranging from the lowest level SNPs to the highest level transnational/cross-cultural aggregates), it’s not reasonable to assume zero or even modest genetic contribution, especially when the nurturists have yet to demonstrate a single reproducible gap-closing intervention.  
     
    2) how they have, after much work, gotten about 10% of the genetic variance in height.  
     
    Oh yeah, but it’s well known that’s b/c they were looking for common SNP variants on mass produced Affy 6.0 chips, and common SNPs are probably the least predictive variant (though technologically easiest to assay en-masse).  
     
    This is b/c:  
     
    1) SNPs are a priori going to be of small effect as they change only one bp. CNVs, by contrast, are changing kilobases or megabases at a time (i.e. entire genes or exons).  
     
    2) Moreover, *common* variants are unlikely to be of large effect just b/c their effects have been “debugged” in a lot of people and genetic backgrounds.  
     
    The CNV papers are new and I haven’t compared the loci/datasets between studies (there are several papers to go through), but you’re seeing significantly more explained variance — and it’s basically an orthogonal set of predictors to SNPs (that is, the early CNV map guys looked to see whether SNPs could proxy CNVs, but found relatively modest correlation between the two). Also, CNV discovery is still well underway relative to SNP discovery (which is relatively mature), so expect feature counts to follow SNP chips and rise dramatically over the next few years.  
     
    Of course, CNVs are just a stopgap. Th endgame is resequencing, which will give 3000X as much data as the current SNP chips (3 billion vs. 1 million data points per person). The conventional wisdom is that most of those 3 billion bp are constant from person to person, and that is true as a first approximation, but my feeling is that we’re going to see a lot of wild stuff in which every region of the genome has at least *some* nonshared variation in say 1% of the people. 
     
    In other words, if you envision it as a matrix of characters with 3 billion columns and N rows, two things will likely happen given N even on the order of 1000:  
     
    1) every column has nonzero variance 
    2) no column can be completely discarded 
     
    Note that this is not how you’d actually deal with the data, b/c  
     
    a) different people’s genomes will be of different sizes due to insertions, etc. so it’s not a constant width matrix  
     
    b) in practice you’d want to featurize rather than dealing with a 3 billion column matrix; e.g. work with a derived feature matrix w/ 30k columns summarizing genetic variation, 100k columns for promoter regions, etc.  
     
    Just as an aside, I expect genomics to be driving hard drive sales for quite a while…750 MB compressed per genome times 6 billion genomes is a lot of data (about 4.5 exabytes!).

  83. I agree with all that. But note that most sociology today being unempirical doesn’t mean that good, consilient sociology isn’t part of the final answer to a lot of social-group level questions.  
     
    Oh, absolutely. I think some of the new generation are starting to bring such methods in through the back door — particularly via MRI/fMRI.  
     
    That is, MRI isn’t as controversial as genetics, in the sense that there isn’t a propaganda literature devoted to demonizing the people who claim that there’s a link between brain states and behavior (whereas of course there is in genetics, w/ mass-marketed Lysenkoism like “Not in our Genes”).  
     
    So my prediction is that biology will increasingly start to come into sociology through the backdoor once we have cheap portable circlet fMRI with wireless (i.e. portable, 4D measurements of brain states). Idea is that you have a transparent, lightweight band with embedded solid state circuitry. Meant to wrap around the head and constantly transmit brain states back to a base station. This is the tech that will let you do truly quantitative microsociology — videotaping encounters and correlating actions & reactions with brain states.  
     
    The fact that it’s a circlet will allow people to potentially forget it’s there and act “normally”.

  84. Sure, one can conceive of theoretical scenarios in which we observe large behavioral differences (1SD is a *big* gap) but the underlying genetic variants totally wash out. That’s highly unlikely for a number of reasons, not least because we’re seeing selection on several of those neurological genes. 
     
    Assuming that a couple of the IQ genes have shown evidence of selection (i’ll take your word on this), how does that 
    a) imply that the majority of other (as of yet) undiscovered IQ genes underwent selection? 
    b) imply that the overall distribution of IQ genes favors a given population a great deal? of the few IQ genes (about 3 i can remember) that I’ve seen demographically analyzed, one of them favors blacks significantly, another favors whites, and another favors asians. so to claim that there is evidence that IQ genes geographically correlate with each other is preemptive based on the currently available genetic evidence. 
     
    This gets at a larger point — any individual argument re: brain imaging, geno/pheno, selection, psychometrics, etc. can potentially be critiqued if it’s taken only on its lonesome. 
     
     
    That’s a cowardly strategy and I don’t think I’ve used it. I’ve offered[1] an alternative hypothesis for all the readers of GNXP to critique. You and others have been free this whole time to show how *it* doesn’t fit into the big picture. If we have focused on a few narrow fields I think it’s because the two proposed hypotheses (and we) agree so much on many of the core premises. Only a few lines of evidence are really able to distinguishing which of us is right about our differences (primarily studies related to peer groups and genomics) 
     
    … 
     
    technological advances are notoriously hard to predict. you surely keep up to date on many more of the relevant details than me, so i’ll just try to keep an open mind on this issue (which is really tangential to our discussion anyways). 
     
    about the circlets, wouldn’t that be social psychology (effect of groups on individuals and vice versa), not sociology (groups on groups)? i think sociology requires a damn good psychology, so i see it having useful theories as being a long way off, even if it suddenly became 100% empirical. 
     
    [1] Note that this hypothesis isn’t original to me, but to various scholars I’ve read and tried to summarize/amalgamate.

  85. Assuming that a couple of the IQ genes have shown evidence of selection (i’ll take your word on this), how does that… 
    …b) imply that the overall distribution of IQ genes favors a given population a great deal? of the few IQ genes (about 3 i can remember) that I’ve seen demographically analyzed, one of them favors blacks significantly, another favors whites, and another favors asians. so to claim that there is evidence that IQ genes geographically correlate with each other is preemptive based on the currently available genetic evidence.
     
     
    Can you cite this? Folks did some number crunching over at Half Sigma’s blog a while back and I remember that the majority of alleles coferred an advantage to whites or Asians. One allele (rs2619538) in DTNBP1 conferred a significant advange to Nigerians, but it was the only one of the seven on that gene associated with intelligence to do so, and the net result of that gene was still an advantage to whites and Asians. Half Sigma has a nifty graph here. You can read some of the number crunching in the comments of this post. I remember it being easier to follow the first time I read it, but perhaps that’s due more to my lack of coffee right now than anything. :) If you’ve seen any other discussions on this sort of thing I’d be glad to see them. 
     
    Having said that, you’re right that we’ve only found a few genes and I don’t know if any of them have even been reproduced, so it’s too early to say there is proof or strong direct evidence for a genetic basis for the B-W gap. I still think that the indirect evidence strongly supports the hereditarian position, however.

  86. thanks for the link. half sigma’s analysis does come out with a tally that favors whites/asians over blacks (and notably, whites over asians a bit). statistically speaking, though, a tally this early in the game is meaningless. dozens more genes will keep coming in, and they’ll have effects as big, if not bigger than these. 
     
    i was following the primary election pretty intensely earlier this year. when the results would begin to come in for a state with less than 1% of the total vote in yet, it said nothing really about the final outcome (i especially like this analogy because you can think of counties as corresponding to individual genes.. individual counties report their poll tallies at different times, and you can’t extrapolate from one county to another because of demographic variation) only around 40% did things start to stabilize, and the winner of a given state would become clear. 
     
    since a tally right now is statistically meaningless, i think the more notable story is that, on a given gene, there seems to be no consistent correlation between the IQ benefiting SNPs on the geographic level.

  87. since a tally right now is statistically meaningless, i think the more notable story is that, on a given gene, there seems to be no consistent correlation between the IQ benefiting SNPs on the geographic level. 
     
    Why is this notable?

  88. SSADH is another gene associated with IQ that varies between races. The C allele version is more is a more efficient enzyme, and is associated with higher IQ .  
     
    Additionally, The C allele is associated with living longer. Popular article , Abstract Abstract 
     
    From the hapmap 
    population C allele  
    white 0.708 
    Chinese 0.9 
    Japanese 0.878 
    Yoruban 0.558 
     
    And from ensembl, 
    White 0.683 
    Chinese 0.867 
    Japanese 0.807 
    Yoruban 0.525 
     
    The genotypes deviated from Hardy-Weinberg. This could be current selection noise. As the two datasets had slightly different numbers, calculations from allele frequency and genotype frequency give these minimum and maximum IQ differences relative to whites: 
     
    pop max min 
    Chinese 0.576 0.5505 
    Japanese 0.51 0.3705 
    Yoruba -0.4755 -0.45 
     
    So in addition to finding an allele that accounts for a portion of racial IQ differences, it also accounts for a portion of racial differences in both lifespan and declining cognitive ability with age.

  89. So in addition to finding an allele that accounts for a portion of racial IQ differences, it also accounts for a portion of racial differences in both lifespan and declining cognitive ability with age. 
     
    not necessarily. there will be many more genes to come which affect the variance in these things.

  90. from the linked paper: “The effect is small, with each allele having an effect size translating to about 1.5 IQ points.” so if this were the *only* gene effecting IQ, it would still account for less than an IQ point of difference on average.

  91. In what way was my comment trolling?

  92. Oops, thought the deleted troll comment was mine. Though that does make me a ‘tard. 
     
    Ben, yes, probably hundreds or thousands variantions count. But honestly, would you have stated that sum total of the first three or four genes with frequent alleles affecting IQ would show population differences in the way that they actually do? That various “race realists” would have greatly strengthens their position. Their theory made better predictions. 
     
    Many people take the “no significant population differences” position, You may not, but it is quite common. In that case finding even just one allele that varies by population destroys the position. To keep no phenotypic difference, one would have to postulate even more genetic differences in the opposite direction. To maintain minimum genetic difference, one would have to accept some phenotypic differences. As intelligence and lifespan are widely considered significant, that argument is now greatly complicated. 
     
    Also, the SSADH gene has been under reasonably strong selection, and its distribution fairly closely matches either ASPM or microcephelin(too tired to find a link) There is no good reason to think that other alleles affecting cognitive ability or lifespan were invisible to selection.

  93. Oops, thought the deleted troll comment was mine. Though that does make me a ‘tard. 
     
     
    tardishness is contingent upon priors, so no worries :-) in any case, more impetuous than tardish.

  94. Many people take the “no significant population differences” position, You may not, but it is quite common. In that case finding even just one allele that varies by population destroys the position. To keep no phenotypic difference, one would have to postulate even more genetic differences in the opposite direction. To maintain minimum genetic difference, one would have to accept some phenotypic differences.  
     
    Even if those individual variants don’t hold up, this is exactly right. Good summary, Rob!  
     
    Moreover, it’s extremely unlikely to get *exactly* the same phenotypic effects from different combinations of variants. Even given the (unsupported) hypothesis of extremely strong stabilizing selection on trait IQ, pleiotropic effects will mean that other traits start to diverge — which is particularly significant for brain related genes.  
     
    The thing is, with traits like height, we *know* there’s a significant amount of genetically-controlled variation from other data sources. So the initial SNP studies are just the start of sussing out the genetic architecture.  
     
    Similar considerations hold with IQ. It’s just a matter of turning the crank at this point. It’s going to be truly a thing of beauty when psychometrics — “the one aspect of psychology which can be studied like a physical science” (sez the OG A. Jensen) is linked up with genomics, which has quickly become one of the most quantitatively demanding disciplines around (esp. in terms of CS/statistics).  
     
    Serious genomics requires a command of CS, stats, and basic genetics at a minimum. It is greatly aided by knowledge of the other two quantitative areas of bio: structural biology and population genetics. Among other things, this means that the people doing cutting edge bio research are increasingly nonconformist male math types, rather than your canonical obedient female benchtop biologist. Lots of factors gathering for a perfect storm.

  95. I agree that’s a good summary Rob. I think it’s worth noting, though, that Flynn admits, for example, that Asians likely have innately superior viso-spatial abilities (Flynn 1980). 
     
    Since the brain has both centralized and modular aspects it stands to reason that populations will differ to some degree in both ways. For example, it might turn out that certain groups have genes that make them more susceptible to bad environments, or that other groups tend towards certain learning styles. 
     
    I’m not willing to accept the hereditarian predictions in regards to the B-W gap at the time being because the most credible environmental hypothesis (which I observed even before I knew what IQ was), that blacks and whites are socialized in different cultural directions as they grow older, has not even been tested on a color blind basis, let alone between groups.

  96. I’m not willing to accept the hereditarian predictions in regards to the B-W gap at the time being because the most credible environmental hypothesis (which I observed even before I knew what IQ was), that blacks and whites are socialized in different cultural directions as they grow older, has not even been tested on a color blind basis, let alone between groups. 
     
    All the evidence suggests that environmental effects on a person’s IQ wane as he ages. So, if the b-w IQ gap were due to differences in socialization, the gap between blacks and whites would be largest among children and smallest among adults. This isn’t the pattern that we see.

  97. So, if the b-w IQ gap were due to differences in socialization, the gap between blacks and whites would be largest among children and smallest among adults.  
    What you have described is the opposite of the pattern you would expect to see if the differences were due to socialization.

  98. All the evidence suggests that environmental effects on a person’s IQ wane as he ages. 
     
    elo basically took the words out of my mouth here, 
    but let me add that your statement needs to be clarified: what the evidence actually suggests is that the effect of the *home environment* *within a given group* diminishes with age.  
     
    what are the implications of that? 
     
    a) we must look at non-home environment effects as possible environmental causes of difference both within and between groups. 
     
    b) the home environment could serve as a cause of the difference between two groups, even if IQs regressed to the mean with age in both, because the home environment could plausibly be an early link in a causal chain which includes group differences (such as in socialization) later in life.

  99. gc: “1) SNPs are a priori going to be of small effect as they change only one bp. CNVs, by contrast, are changing kilobases or megabases at a time (i.e. entire genes or exons).” 
     
    Relevant links: 
    http://microarraybulletin.com/community/article.php?p=284&page=1 
    http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Genetics-Of-Mental-Retardation-13248-1/ 
     
    5% of the retardation cases are likely due to recent CNV’s in brain genes. As far as I know all races are equally likely to experience such hotspot CNV’s. These retardation CNV’s are so harmful that they are rapidly eliminated by selection. I doubt they are the source of genetic group differences. 
     
    Other CNV’s with less drastic effects are likely common. It would be interesting to compare the hotspot distribution differences between racial groups. Looking at CNV hotspots might make identifying CNV variation more efficient. 
     
    SNP’s in regulatory DNA could significantly affect gene expression. Since there is twice as much conserved regulatory DNA as coding DNA in the human genome there are a lot of potential variants in the human population.

a