I live in the Portland area – which is a very dangerous place to live. For example, we have not only the famous Powell “City of Books”, which is the largest bookstore in the world, but we actually have two Powells. One of them is fairly close to my house. They are dangerous because every time I walk into one of them, I leave with less money than I had going in. On my last visit, I left with a paperback called “What is Your Dangerous Idea?” It is easy to see why I couldn’t resist.
“What is Your Dangerous Idea?” is a collection of about 120 short essays on ideas that might be considered “dangerous” to one extent or another written by many famous scientists and thinkers. Some of those ideas are established scientific fact, others are flights of fancy. I did not expect to find anything substantial on HBD because it was, after all, sitting on a table in plain view in a major bookstore. HBD is a truly “dangerous idea”; it is well-supported and it threatens the very foundations of modern leftist faith. Therefore, it should not be included in such a book, nor should it be found in such a prominent location in a major bookstore.
It so happens, however, that there is a chapter called “Groups of People May Differ Genetically in Their Average Talents and Temperaments” by Steven Pinker, who is also the writer of the introduction to the book (where he mentions the possibility that blacks have higher testosterone levels and Ashkenazi Jews have been selected for higher intelligence).
Pinker is very careful in how he words this (short) chapter. Here is a portion of that chapter:
In March, developmental biologist Armand Leroi published an op-ed piece in the New York Times rebutting the conventional wisdom that race does not exist. (The conventional wisdom is coming to be known as Lewontin’s fallacy: that because most genes may be found in all human groups, the groups don’t differ at all. But patterns of correlation among genes do differ between groups, and different clusters of correlated genes correspond well to the major races labeled by common sense.)
In June, the Times reported a forthcoming study by physicist Gregory Cochran, anthropologist Jason Hardy, and population geneticist Henry Harpending proposing that Ashkenazi Jews have been biologically selected for high intelligence and that their well-documented genetic diseases are a by-product of this evolutionary history.
In September, political scientist Charles Murray published an article in Commentary reiterating his arguments from The Bell Curve that average racial differences in intelligence are intractable and partly genetic.
Whether or not these hypotheses hold up (the evidence for gender differences is reasonably good, for ethnic and racial differences much less so), they are widely perceived to be dangerous…. Large swaths of the intellectual landscape have been reengineered to try to rule these hypotheses out a priori (race does not exist, intelligence does not exist, the mind is a blank slate inscribed by parents). The underlying fear that reports of group differences will fuel bigotry is not, of course, groundless.
Readers of this blog should have already noticed the above deception, the implication that there is little evidence of racial differences. Most likely, this deception is merely a way for Pinker to protect himself against charges of racism. Nevertheless, it is far more honest than what we are used to seeing in the wider media. The book was published in 2007. I believe that it is a tool we can use to help break the taboo against HBD with our friends and family. It can be gotten from Amazon for $4.00 including shipping (used). It cost me a bit more; I paid for the ambiance of Powells. The chapter on race is strategically located about 4 (short) chapters into the book. Close enough to the beginning that even those who don’t finish reading books will probably get to it – but it is not the first chapter, so people won’t get the idea that this is just a sneaky way to get them to accept HBD.
As I read more of the book, I’ll probably share some of the more interesting ideas therein with the rest of y’all.