Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Details, details ... why let ourselves be distracted? Send this entry to: Spurl Ma.gnolia Digg Newsvine Reddit

Details, details ... why let ourselves be distracted? In the previous post, Godless shows I think quite of a bit of humility. I think both he & I acknowledge that all the details aren't hashed out on the issue of racial differences. Rushton and Edward Miller present some interesting hypotheses on why some races might have better reasoning capacities than others-but they don't really convince me. Rushton has the r vs. K reproduction strategy-Miller's ideas are more straightforward-indicating that cold climates and seasonal changes induced northern Europeans and Chinese to plan ahead and use their brains more (I make him some Lamarckian-but I think he presumes that stupid ones died in the big ice-no?). Rushton's hypothesis ultimately comes back to this sort of thinking as well. Of course, it gets me to wondering-how come the Tuareg of the central Sahara or the Inuit of Alaska aren't the most brilliant people in the world. Godless indicated that he thought that the Inuit might be bright-perhaps, but I've had friends who have lived among the native peoples of the north (as teachers) and they tell tales of extreme social pathology that makes the inner city look pleasant (the Inuit have large government subsidies so we libertarians can claim that the government did it). Some of the hereditarians that get backing from the pro-eugenicist and race realist Pioneer Fund have data that shows all the Middle Eastern peoples from Egypt to Iran are pretty lacking in intelligence. And yet, if you're a thorough diffusionist-you have to acknowledge that this region of the world was the mother of us all culturally. If you're less of a diffusionist, you can't deny that this region was the mother of the West-and therefore instrumental in making the world what it is today. Phonetic script (from Spain to Mongolia) and Christianity are two of the contributions of this part of the world (the latter case one can say that the Greeks helped a load). Agriculture spread to putatively high IQ Europe from the Middle East. How is that the precursors of Heisenberg and Descartes (who are genetically distinct from Middle Easterners) were busy hunting European bison in dim forests while the ancestors of suicide bombers were creating complex civilizations premises on sophisticated religious concepts (please don't blink-yes, some religious concepts can be sophisticated). Hereditarians (not to create a false dichotomy-those of us in the anti-environmentalist camp tend to argue for a complimentary synthesis between nature and nurture) need to explain this. I have some ideas-but this post would get atrociously long-and Godless might lose his title of big long poster of the blog consortium. Godless brings up the conundrum of the dim Sephards vs. the bright Ashkenazi. Sephards are the underclass of Israel. Their lower IQ has mystified some people (and given heart to those terrorized by dreams of Judaic supremacy). In fact, in the 10th century, it was the Sephards who were the leading lights of the Jewish world. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides was a Sephard. But in the 18th century, the Ashkenazi of Poland (partitioned between Russia, Prussia and a bit to Austria I believe) came to the fore, especially in Germany, with the likes of Moses Mendelsshon coming out of their community, and they never looked back. Thomas Sowell uses this case as an example showing how culture, and not race, is the dominant determinant of group success. While Islamic culture flowered, the Sephards reigned as the lights of the Jewry, while they dimmed with the waning of their host civilization. When Europe became a cultural flame that outshone the rest of the world, the Ashkenazi used it to catapult themselves into prominence. I do have some thoughts on the Sephard vs. Ashkenaz mystery, and their radically different histories after the Roman Empire and their modern differential in IQ that still gives some room for genetic differences being a powerful determinant today. The Sephards of Israel are not the Sephards of the times of yore. Sephard means Spain, and in 1492 when the monarchs of that land expelled the Jews, the Sephardic Jews scattered to the rest of the Jewish world. While some went to the north (the Netherlands most prominently), most went to the Ottoman Empire. But there were already Jews in the Ottoman Empire, from Greece to Egypt. And there were also far flung Jewish communities in the Levant, Iran, central Asia and Yemen. These historically had little to do with Sephardic culture, but the Sephards became an elite of sorts among them (in Greece the Sephards basically absorbed their predecessors and Ladino-their Spanish equivalent of Yiddish-became the language of the Jews). In the modern age, Jews of non-European origin are routinely described in the gentile press as "Sephardic," which is not strictly true. Those from the east of the Jewish world (from Syria and to the east and southeast) are strictly speaking Mizrahim (I might be getting the transliteration wrong here). So, one might assume that one can not attribute the achievements of the Spanish Golden Age to the modern "Sephardic Jews" since they are mostly not the genetic descendents of the Spanish Jews in question (most Irish speak English-but don't lay claim to Chaucer). On another point, before the Holocaust, the vast majority of the world's Jewry was Ashkenazi. Even today, the majority are Ashkenazi (though Israel has the 50/50 split-other centers of the Diaspora like the United States, Russia and France are mostly Ashkenazi). Where did all the Sephardic and Oriental Jews go? Historically, right before the rise of Islam, southern Mesopotamia was mostly Jewish and Yemen was ruled by Jewish kings (converts). They must have converted to Islam-either freely or forcibly and every shade in between. Ashkenazi Jews were also forced to convert and converted of their own will. But perhaps the conversion rate was different between different Jewish classes in the Islamic world. One way Muslims encouraged conversion of dhimmis was to give the property of non-Muslim relatives to converts (this wouldn't induce the poor to convert obviously, since their relatives were almost certainly as destitute, but might cause a rash of conversions among the rich seeking to safeguard their fortunes). Also, while ghettos were the norm in Europe from the Middle Ages on, they were not as well defined in the Islamic world (though there were always Jewish quarters). Kidnapping of children was common in Europe and the Islamic world-but I have read that in places like Yemen it was a veritable sport until recently (interestingly, in the 1949-1951 period the Ashkenazi elite of Israel basically perpetuated the practice by kidnapping the children of recent immigrants and raising them as Ashkenazi-it would interesting to do some psychometric tests of these children). In addition, Muslim practices and theology are generally thought to be somewhat closer to Judaism than Christianity's, so perhaps the former had more appeal to the Jewish elite than the latter's Grecian theology and Latinate practice. OK, enough already. I think you get it. Very few people are doing work in this area, because it's touchy and Kryptonite for your super academic career. Amateurs with axes to grind end up spewing out theories that don't get tested by respectable researchers. But just as it's hard to say, it's the genes stupid, one can't simply ignore them and say that culture trumps biology. Just like I believe in evolution, but am not as solid on its general process (is it genetic drift or natural selection-a mix or neither?), I believe there are differences between the races, but am willing to be flexible on the details. On a last note-I read Rushton's Race, Evolution and Behavior: A life history perspective thinking to debunk it. I was appalled by what I read. I'll be honest and say I don't think Dr. Rushton is judicious in the way he phrases some of his chapters, he comes close to say that blacks are over-sexed and violent in the same tones as the more antiseptic white nationalists (Rushton's publisher has taken him to task for delving into racialist politics after his assertions he was simply a scientist doing research). Later articles I read from Dr. Rushton indicate that he's become addicted to his hypothesis and attempts to fit all differences between cultures into his paradigm. That being said, one thing struck me: Dr. Rushton notes that blacks have twice the twinning rates as whites, who have twice the twinning rates as east Asians. Despite not wanting to believe the rest of what he said (social science is notoriously open to manipulation), I recalled my debates with radical feminists. Even if I granted them that males and females were at birth equal in their inclinations and capacities in all ways, they couldn't get around the fact that most women gave birth, and no men (that I know of) do. So that very fact would cause differences between the way men and women looked at the world on average. Now, that didn't convince most of my rhetorical opponents, but I always found it persuasive (I always manage to persuade myself somehow). So to me, this difference in twinning forced me to acknowledge all the little differences that I'd seen in my own life and wonder if they weren't more than the government or society imposing its own stereotypes on us all. Even correcting for income, blacks have higher levels of morbidity than whites. I'd always assumed this was because of social discrimination, but I wondered, what if blacks had naturally lower life expectancies??? (they mature faster). Libertarians make all sorts of arguments that social security discriminates against blacks because they don't get back what they pay in because they die too early. I always found this argument laughable (I oppose social security and government in general-but I don't pretend to have these positions because of a sense of racial justice), but if blacks do die earlier (researches now believe in a longevity gene, so we acknowledge that differences exist between families-in my own family, my maternal grandfather died at 100 and his aunt at 115, and this in Bangladesh!) than these arguments have some merit. Of course, the dominant discourse implies that any differences are simply the result of discrimination, so the libertarian argument against social security based on racial justice is easily rebutted by appealing to the position that we should improve the social condition of blacks rather than get rid of social security. So I guess I'll end on that note. The original eugenics movement was not all right-wing. The modern "race realist" movement need not be construed as strictly right-wing, and facts are always the best armament for social justice. At least I think so. Now, let's not get into what "justice" is.

Principles of Population Genetics
Genetics of Populations
Molecular Evolution
Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics
Evolutionary Genetics
Molecular Markers, Natural History, and Evolution
The Genetics of Human Populations
Genetics and Analysis of Quantitative Traits
Epistasis and Evolutionary Process
Evolutionary Human Genetics
Mathematical Models in Biology
Evolutionary Genetics: Case Studies and Concepts
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 1
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 2
Narrow Roads of Gene Land 3
Statistical Methods in Molecular Evolution
The History and Geography of Human Genes
Population Genetics and Microevolutionary Theory
Population Genetics, Molecular Evolution, and the Neutral Theory
Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations
Genetics and Origins of Species
Tempo and Mode in Evolution
Causes of Evolution
The Great Human Diasporas
Bones, Stones and Molecules
Natural Selection and Social Theory
Journey of Man
Mapping Human History
The Seven Daughters of Eve
Evolution for Everyone
Why Sex Matters
Mother Nature
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language
R.A. Fisher, the Life of a Scientist
Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology
Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics
A Reason for Everything
The Ancestor's Tale
Dragon Bone Hill
Endless Forms Most Beautiful
The Selfish Gene
Adaptation and Natural Selection
Nature via Nurture
The Symbolic Species
The Imitation Factor
The Red Queen
Out of Thin Air
Evolutionary Dynamics
The Origin of Species
The Descent of Man
Age of Abundance
The Darwin Wars
The Evolutionists
The Creationists
Of Moths and Men
The Language Instinct
How We Decide
Predictably Irrational
The Black Swan
Fooled By Randomness
Descartes' Baby
Religion Explained
In Gods We Trust
Darwin's Cathedral
A Theory of Religion
The Meme Machine
Synaptic Self
The Mating Mind
A Separate Creation
The Number Sense
The 10,000 Year Explosion
The Math Gene
Explaining Culture
Origin and Evolution of Cultures
Dawn of Human Culture
The Origins of Virtue
Prehistory of the Mind
The Nurture Assumption
The Moral Animal
Born That Way
No Two Alike
Survival of the Prettiest
The Blank Slate
The g Factor
The Origin Of The Mind
Unto Others
Defenders of the Truth
The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition
Before the Dawn
Behavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic Era
The Essential Difference
Geography of Thought
The Classical World
The Fall of the Roman Empire
The Fall of Rome
History of Rome
How Rome Fell
The Making of a Christian Aristoracy
The Rise of Western Christendom
Keepers of the Keys of Heaven
A History of the Byzantine State and Society
Europe After Rome
The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity
The Barbarian Conversion
A History of Christianity
God's War
Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople
The Sacred Chain
Divided by the Faith
The Reformation
Pursuit of Glory
Albion's Seed
From Plato to Nato
China: A New History
China in World History
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Children of the Revolution
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World
The Great Arab Conquests
After Tamerlane
A History of Iran
The Horse, the Wheel, and Language
A World History
Guns, Germs, and Steel
The Human Web
Plagues and Peoples
A Concise Economic History of the World
Power and Plenty
A Splendid Exchange
Contours of the World Economy 1-2030 AD
Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations
A Farewell to Alms
The Ascent of Money
The Great Divergence
Clash of Extremes
War and Peace and War
Historical Dynamics
The Age of Lincoln
The Great Upheaval
What Hath God Wrought
Freedom Just Around the Corner
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