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August 04, 2004

More than IQ

My gut feeling is that there is more to racial intelligence differences than IQ. But IQ is the only important difference that science will ever have a grasp on because it is the only important one that can be measured in a relatively straightforward way.

Along that line, here is something that Steve Sailer posted to his site from a correspondent.

The Caucasian West's biggest intellectual advantage seems to reside in the critical rational culture method of formulating and testing hypotheses. This is a destructive form of creativity and does not sit well with the particular and consensual Asian mind set.

A Western intellectual is initially ambitious in his attempt to generalise all particular facts inside a universal law of some sort.

Then subsequently, he is the subject of an aggressive attempt to criticise this theory on the basis of its:

- internal logico-consistency - external empirico-corroborability

The polar case of this attitude are the Jewish intellectuals, with one building a vast theoretical system and then having his mates queue up to tear it down.

The Asian East's seem to be less inclined towards positing universal laws and even less inclined to want to challenge authority with critical demonstrations or refutations.

I don't agree with this, actually. I am not sure what is the exact problem with it, but it just does not seem to be that useful an idea at organizing my personal experience with the matter. But then again, I can't think of any way to scientifically test whether this is true or not. It is an example of a possible racial intelligence difference that I doubt we will ever have any hard facts on. And it is one with obvious consequences.

I do think that there are differences between the Asian and Western mindsets (though those are both broad categories containing many races and cultures). A lot is culture. Some may be genetically influenced. It's important. But it is to hard to measure, and therefore something that science is never going to be much use at telling us about.

Godless comments:

But IQ is the only important difference that science will ever have a grasp on

I think that's too skeptical a stance. There are plenty of other disciplines within quantitative pyschology other than IQ research; for example, Big 5 personality assessment, or CHC theory as specialization of IQ research. I bet national surveys of the former in particular could shed some light on national behavior.

Also, re: the intellectuals cited...I don't know if such sweeping generalizations are appropriate. I tend not to make such statements because a) they're controversial and b) they're entirely subjective impressions. I know what the author is talking about re: Jewish intellectuals with highly ideological political programs (the neocons, Marx, Rand, Rothbard, etc.), but of course gentile intellectuals engage in such a thing as well, although possibly at not as high a per-capita rate (Robespierre, Engels, Lenin, Hoppe, etc.), as did Japan during the Meiji restoration and China during the Cultural Revolution.

Furthermore, the trends are not set in stone. This is why I don't like talking about non-empirical stuff, because people can nitpick subjectively in the opposite direction. Example: very few people challenge the anti h-bd consensus in the West that permeates everyday life, but such talk goes on regularly in the East.

And this can be quite an advantage. As Derbyshire said:

Here is the point: Fretting about the ethics of these issues is a thing that only western countries are going to do. Elsewhere, eugenics — including “genetic enhancement” — will not be fretted about or debated, it will just be done.

To see what I mean, check out an article titled “Popularizing the Knowledge of Eugenics and Advocating Optimal Births Vigorously” by Sun Dong-sheng of the Jinan Army Institute, People’s Republic of China. An English translation of the article can be found on the web. The translators note, in their preface, that: “The taboo on this subject is not as strong in East Asia as in the West. One might hypothesize that Asians, and more particularly the populations of the Han cultural zone (Japan, North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and possibly Vietnam), take a more pragmatic, less structured and ideological, and more far-seeing approach (eugenics, after all, is, by definition, a long-run program) to the development of human capital, than do Westerners”.

Sun Dong-sheng takes a quick canter through of the history of eugenics, not omitting the disgrace which the whole subject fell into by association with Nazi “racial science”. As the translators note, though, Dr. Sun shows no sign of feeling that he is dealing with a “hot” or taboo topic. He just goes right on into proposals for raising public awareness of eugenics (in China, that is — the whole piece is intended for a Chinese audience) and reasons for including eugenic policies as a part of “socialist modernization”.

The progress of the argument is held up for a while by some ideological shucking and jiving the author feels obliged to perform. From the point of view of theoretical Marxist-Leninism and dialectical materialism, still a compulsory part of the curriculum in Chinese schools, the entire field of genetics is a bit suspect. In all nature-nurture debates, traditional Marxists are the purest of pure nurturists. What’s the point of having a revolution if you can’t change human nature? (Remember Lysenko?) Dr. Sun easily negotiates his way through this little patch of ideological white water, concluding that:

"With genetics as its basis, the field of eugenics is established on an objective, materialistic foundation."

So that’s all right then, and we can move right on with:

"As eugenic research becomes widespread and acquires depth, the legal code of China will include more regulations concerning the ways by which the idea of healthier offspring can be given reality."

And:

"Socialist modernization urgently needs a reduction or elimination of genetic diseases and hereditary defects. Only by promoting the births of better offspring can we improve the genetic quality of our population…"

So it seems like this sort of trend - i.e. useful empiricism without worrying about the overarching ideology - can be as much a competitive advantage as a disadvantage. Contra the original correspondent's position that ideology is a plus , in this example the East doesn't worry like the West does about fitting some new scientific advance into the prevailing structure of taboos (whether it be PC or Christianity or what have you).

Of course, that doesn't mean I think the West should engage in forcible eugenics of the Chinese variety, but it does mean that a ban on forcible eugenics that sweeps up voluntary individual genetic engineering in its wake (such as reproductive medicine like GE + in-vitro fertilization) will surely cede the high ground to China.

See also here and here for much more on China's official statements re: eugenics.

Posted by Thrasymachus at 09:31 PM