Sunday, June 02, 2002

More on Res So, Res Ipsa Loquitur has a followup on our public discussion of the reality of race. Let's take a look at what he has to say:

If you were to call me a 'racist-motherfucker,' (which I am sure you get a lot of, GC) then I might take offense. But after being called a racist-motherfucker by some in Sproul Plaza so many times, even that term tends to lose its offensive effect over time. Regarding the definition of misanthropy, I would like to note that this vocabule is gender specific (i.e. "man hater").

Well, I would get called a racist if I said anything about what I believe in real life. Even as an anonymous blogger I get 5-10 pieces of hate mail a month accusing me of being a fascist. If any of my colleagues knew what I believed, I would face serious consequences. This blog serves almost like a pressure valve...if I can get my thoughts out here, I don't feel the horrible urge to utter the truth and thereby commit professional suicide everytime I hear an idiotic assertion. So yes, I do get called a "racist motherfucker" fairly frequently, but never in real life. (I may have some degree of immunity to this charge as I am non-white...) As for misanthrope's gender specificity, the word you're looking for is "misandrist", which means a hatred of man. Misanthrope, on the other hand, connotes a hatred of mankind.

But ideology in the "hard" sciences? This is still hard for me to stomach ...

Believe it. Perhaps the most successful of the left's ideas is the fallacy that all groups have equal abilities and that the differences between them are merely cosmetic. This is why you see ostensibly "hard core techie" publications like the IEEE releasing issues bemoaning the paucity of non-Asian minority/female enrollment. For example:

Women's studies and computer science both evolved as academic disciplines in the 1960s, but they evolved along very different paths. The differences between science, engineering, and the humanities are discussed, followed by a brief review of women's studies. Feminist epistemology and its dedication to concrete learning introduce new ideas for gaining knowledge that will also make computer science more relevant for minority and low-income students. Children's use of computer technology and Logo software is introduced.

There are other areas in which the left has made major inroads, such as environmental science and religious belief. Witness the attacks on Lomborg's "The Skeptical Environmentalist" for an indication of how far the pendulum has swung. Regular readers may be surprised that I include "religious belief" as one of the areas in which the left is dominant. This deserves some clarification. There are two kinds of atheists: those who don't believe in god because of a lack of evidence, and those who don't believe in god because they hate god. I belong to the former category (the real atheists), while the far left belongs to the latter category (the rebels). I can't stress enough how important the distinction is. It is the "god hating" category that predominates in academia, and while they will not hesitate to use "real atheist" justifications for godlessness, their usage of such justifications is as selective as the quotations of a scientific creationist. These "humanists" usually accept as their axiom the belief that all humans are essentially biologically equal, which is a false assertion. In general, I find them just as reluctant to admit evidence as the religious. Res goes on to say:

Secondly, while you may be able to determine the race of my "ancestors," which "ancestors" are you referring to? Do my ancestors include Lucy? Hasn't she been carbon dated with relative accuracy? Doesn't her discovery make us all natives of the Rift Valley and therefore, Ethiopian? While the archaeological record will never be complete, Lucy may serve as a compelling argument as to why we are more similar than we are different as human beings.

First of all, we are obviously more similar than we are different. All of us have essentially the same body schematics: two legs, two arms, etc. That's not what the question is here. The question is: Are the small but consistent patterns of differences between human beings relevant today? The answer is a resounding and powerful YES. Please read this post and this post for more details. Can we determine your ancestry all the way back to Leakey's Lucy? Perhaps, by tracking the mutations in the mtDNA, assuming that we have a good sample of Lucy's bones. But that's not relevant to my point, which is that we can determine where your recent ancestors were from. I'm not a forensic anthropologist, but I know that it isn't much of a challenge for us to genetically determine the ancestry of an individual. It requires training to discern race from (say) skeleton measurements, but it's trivial with a blood sample. Multiracial individuals are still no problem - we can distinguish (say) asian/black admixtures from white/black or white/asian admixtures with ease.

While I am no expert in population genetics, I am aware that your version of biological determinism could have harmful effects of reinforcing stereotypes ... Also, while I am open to the idea of the "biological reality" of race, I am suspicious as to its significance in our society. In the affirmative action debate, it is presumed that anyone who is a "minority" suffers from social and economic disadvantage, which is not true at all.

A stereotype is an inaccurate generalization . It can be disproved by statistical counterexample. If I were to say that many young black males are criminals, most would assail this as a stereotype. But it is a FACT, not a stereotype. Is it rational to say that every young black male is a criminal? No, of course not. Is it rational to avoid areas in which young black males predominate? Of course it is, because of the statistically higher likelihood of victimization. We can use all the euphemisms we like, but the simple truth is that black neighborhoods are much more dangerous than white neighborhoods, which are in turn somewhat more dangerous than asian neighborhoods. The difference between black and white criminality is thoroughly explained in this PDF...while I disagree with the policy positions of American Renaissance, their analysis of this issue uses only publicly available statistics and is readily checked. I can come up with MANY other examples in which failing to distinguish by race throws away an important and crucial bit of information. Medical diagnosis is one, and college admissions is another. Ok, I'm a bit tired tonight so I'll just list Res' remaining points and briefly respond:

Socialists were wrong not because of their understanding of human nature, but because like race, not everyone fits into their typologies ... socialism was a failure because it did not employ the concept of popular sovereignty ... Capitalism is not without its flaws as well. For example, the Great Depression is a perfect example of what happens without some sort of governmental regulation. ... Moreover, eugenics was central to Nazi ideology. I am not calling you a Nazi, GC, but beware of those who may. .... Corn is one thing, but human beings should be given the option not to be engineered.

1. As Edward O. Wilson, the world's foremost expert on ants, remarked about Marxism: "Wonderful theory. Wrong species.'' Socialism doesn't work because our genetic programming doesn't give us enough benefit for selfless sacrifice. That's the long and the short of it. All the other stuff is simply a consequence of this fact. 2. If you look at my position statement and my earlier comments, I have never endorsed laissez faire capitalism. Externality theory provides a principled basis for imposing regulations. (Perhaps Joel G. can add to these comments?) 3. Eugenics in the early part of the century was about forced breeding and sterilization. It could only be effectively implemented by tyrannical governments. It is a tremendous error to confuse that kind of eugenics with genetic engineering, which is at its heart a question of individual choice. No one will be forced to re-engineer themselves, but eventually everyone will have to in order to remain competitive. I see nothing wrong with this. PS - Res, you should list an email on your page so that I don't have to post every response.

posted by godlesscapitalist | 6/02/2002 09:49:00 PM | |

Principles of Population Genetics
Genetics of Populations
Molecular Evolution
Quantitative Genetics
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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
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In Gods We Trust
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Synaptic Self
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A Separate Creation
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Explaining Culture
Origin and Evolution of Cultures
Dawn of Human Culture
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Prehistory of the Mind
The Nurture Assumption
The Moral Animal
Born That Way
No Two Alike
Survival of the Prettiest
The Blank Slate
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Unto Others
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Geography of Thought
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Keepers of the Keys of Heaven
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Europe After Rome
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God's War
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Pursuit of Glory
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From Plato to Nato
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Children of the Revolution
When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World
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After Tamerlane
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