nurture vs. nature and I.Q.

You can’t send firearms via U.S. mail, and you shouldn’t try to transport explosives with your carry-on luggage on a commercial flight. But it is possible to transport the components, and then assemble them later.

In the same way, some mainstream science writers avoid delivering HBD (human bio-diversity), in its recognizable form, to their readers – but they can get away with including its basic components in their articles, and allowing intelligent readers to assemble it themselves.

We know that average brain size varies between races; there is no longer any dispute about this. Therefore, it is generally verboten to concede that there is a correlation between brain size and IQ. Happily, it appears that one can get away with it if it’s buried deep inside an article that deals with the overall reduction in human brain size in recent history.

I recently read Kathleen McAuliffe’s excellent essay “If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?” After mulling over some fascinating theories, McAuliffe eventually writes (toward the very end):

Whatever the reason for the recent uptick in cranial size, Jantz believes it is having an effect on how we think. Recent MRI studies, according to Jantz and other scientists, show that brain volume really does correlate with intelligence—at least as measured by that oft-celebrated but widely criticized metric, the IQ test.

The middle part of McAuliff’s article elaborates on the human domestication theory, that the reason our brains have been getting smaller is that we’ve been domesticated. She writes:

Other researchers think many of their colleagues are barking up the wrong tree with their focus on intelligence as the key to the riddle of our disappearing gray matter. What may have caused the trend instead, they argue, is selection against aggression. In essence, we domesticated ourselves, according to Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University and a leading proponent of this view.

Some 30 animals have been domesticated, he notes, and in the process every one of them has lost brain volume—typically a 10 to 15 percent reduction compared with their wild progenitors. Domesticated animals also have more gracile builds, smaller teeth, flatter faces, a more striking range of coloration and hair types—and, in many breeds, floppy ears and curly tails. Except for those last two traits, the domesticated breeds sound a lot like us…

To illustrate how this could happen, Wrang­ham refers to an experiment that began half a century ago in Siberia. In 1958 the Russian geneticist Dmitri Belyaev started raising silver foxes in captivity, initially selecting to breed only the animals that were the slowest to snarl when a human approached their cage. After about 12 generations, the animals evidenced the first appearance of physical traits associated with domestication, notably a white patch on the forehead. Their tameness increased over time, and a few generations later they were much more like domesticated dogs

I find it interesting that one of the “domestication traits” listed is “a more striking range or coloration and hair types.” This trait, along with more gracile build and smaller teeth, seems to imply that Caucasians are more domesticated than Negroes. Caucasians have larger ears than do Negroes or Asians.

Of course, none of this proves anything by itself. However, when we compare behavioral patterns in places such as Ferguson, Missouri and Portland, Oregon, a clear picture begins to emerge.

Being domesticated is a mixed blessing at best. I fear that, as the rule of the jungle spreads, domesticated humans will be fully replaced by the more wild varieties.

Why do we refuse to recognize the obvious and how do popularity and gender fit into this? Robert Jinman does a great job tying it all together. Highly recommended:

 Social Bias Within The Academic and Political Establishment

Latte Island has a series of posts about ongoing clashes between transgender activists and lesbian activists. There’s even a video showing a confrontation between the groups during a march.

In the video, lesbian activist Cathy Brennan can be heard telling a gender-modified man that he is “not a woman”. Here are her own words explaining her position regarding men pretending to be women:

… male persons have cross-dressed in order to gain access to sex-segregated spaces with the specific intent to harm females. This has happened. Many times. That’s all we need to know. Where a harm is foreseeable, it is potentially preventable. And if not actually preventable, then at least we can create a public policy against it. That is the purpose of law. Females, in particular, need laws. For example, a restraining order is just a piece of paper that could not possibly protect a body from attack, but we still need laws that prohibit stalking behavior. Similarly, in our UN submission we argue that:

Females require sex-segregated facilities for a number of reasons, chief among them the documented frequency of male sexual violence against females and the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting from this relatively common form of violence. Public policy, therefore, rationally permits sex segregation in certain settings where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.

As such, we take specific issue with overbroad legislative language and the foreseeable harm to women that can arise from the refusal to make any legal distinction between sex and ‘gender identity’ in the context of sex-segregated spaces. We advocate for legal screening of unfettered male access to sex-segregated female spaces on the basis of a purely self-reported ‘gender identity,’ expression, or appearance. We propose that this be done by requiring medical evidence…

We’re female. Females are 50% of the human population. Our concerns come from a specifically female point of view (not a libertarian or a trans-centered one). Our arguments stress the need for sex-segregated spaces. We believe that females have a right to these spaces, free from males. When cross-dressing males, who have not sought medical treatment and/or who do not intend to transition, demand access to sex-segregated spaces on the vague basis of a feminine ‘gender identity,’ that is an infringement on our rights. So this is not a hate-mongering, ignorant, or disingenuous attempt to deny trans people anything. We seek to protect women’s right to sex-segregated spaces free from non-trans males.

Makes sense to me, but for this she is called “transphobic”. It seems Brennan has committed the unforgivable sin of recognizing valid biological divisions within humanity. For those on the Left, Brennan’s thinking is dangerous. If we accept gender as biological reality, it could be the beginning of a slippery slope where race is also recognized as such.

To Brennan’s point about men posing a threat to the safety of women, blacks pose at least as much of a threat to whites. Therefore…

We’re white. Whites are 70% of America’s population. Our concerns come from a specifically white point of view (not a multicultural or a Hispanic one). Our arguments stress the need for race-segregated spaces. We believe that whites have a right to these spaces, free from people of color. When non-whites, who have not sought medical treatment* and/or who do not intend to transition, demand access to race-segregated spaces on the vague basis of a white ‘race identity,’ that is an infringement on our rights. So this is not a hate-mongering, ignorant, or disingenuous attempt to deny non-whites anything. We seek to protect white’s right to race-segregated spaces free from non-whites.

Perhaps the hostile elite can hold its own when it comes to gender, but long term, it faces an uphill struggle with race. If race is not a biological reality, then a white should be able to paint his skin, get lip implants, learn to swagger and self-identify as “black” so that he can gain easy access to college, promotions and the “ghetto lottery”. By defining race as a “social construct”, there is no reason this cannot be done – especially if it can be done with gender.

If self-identity is considered a valid tool to transcend biological divisions (contrary to Brennan’s position), then all whites can simply self-identify as “black women” and eliminate the gender/race affirmative-action privileged classes altogether. There would be equal access to “black-woman-ness” – and the government jobs that come with it. By denying us this option, the hostile elite is effectively admitting that race is a biological concept.

Their solution, as practiced over the past few decades, is to breed new Americans who are so stupid/brainwashed that they cannot even see the obvious contradiction.

*In theory, it should be possible to mitigate racial differences through surgery and hormone treatment in some cases.

If you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer and you’re a white male, then you’re just a “dumb person” with few rights or privileges.  But if you’re also a “minority” or female, then this works to your advantage.  “Affirmative action” is a polite way of saying, “Not the best qualified, but we can use this person to keep the diversity gestapo at bay.”  If you are a white male who happens to be of superior ability, then you have little to worry about; affirmative action was not designed to victimize you.  It was designed to victimize white males who are less than brilliant in their respective fields, i.e. most of the rest of us.

Affirmative action for women is nothing new, but human stupidity (who sends me a lot of stuff) has brought my attention to a more novel way to persecute white men:  Affirmative action for women in math tests.  From the link he sent me:

Affirmative action for women in math contests boosts participation without dropping results

Despite advances in many areas, women are still underrepresented in the upper levels of corporations, electoral politics, and some scientific research fields. This lack of parity is all the more striking because, in much of the developed world, women’s educational achievements have surpassed those of men. (In 2009 in the United States, 57 percent of currently enrolled students were female, a trend that has been fairly stable over several decades.) This imbalance has been ascribed to two factors: continuing gender discrimination, and lower desire for competitiveness among women.

Focusing on the competitiveness aspect, a new study indicates that policy-based initiatives can increase women’s participation and competitiveness in math and the quality of the resulting work. The particular experiment performed by Loukas Balafoutas and Matthias Sutter, released February 2 by Science, involved three methods that provided an initial advantage to women in a math competition. The authors found that, in each case, women entered the competitions more readily, but the aggregate performance of the participants was unaffected, and sometimes even improved.

The common feature in all three methods is an affirmative action approach: the active promotion of the underrepresented group. Passive methods (such as increasing potential rewards for everyone) do improve participation by women, but they also improve men’s performance as well, which leaves the gender gap in place. Affirmative action, on the other hand, not only changes the odds of success by women, but (according to the authors of a related study) also increases their confidence and willingness to compete in the first place…

Left unexplained is why it is a bad thing if women are “underrepresented” in certain fields.  A commenter points out that there doesn’t seem to be much concern that men are underrepresented in traditionally female fields.  I would add that there doesn’t seem to be any concern that women are largely absent from fields such as garbage collection and mining.

While there is nothing wrong with trying to boost the participation of women in certain professions, if we might be missing out on important talent, I still don’t understand why it is a bad thing that there are gender gaps.  It doesn’t seem to bother most people that men are physically stronger than women, so why would it be a problem if there are more male math-geniuses than female ones?

Predictably, most of the comments call a spade a spade and don’t fall for the obvious double-speak.  One commenter, who calls himself Dr Jay (no relation), tries to justify the practice by writing:

I think people are getting hung up on “affirmative action” and missing the forest for the trees. The key question you have to ask yourself is the following: what is the purpose of the competition?

If the competition is simply intended to identify whoever scores the best in the competition, then there really isn’t any call for intervention. But if the competition is intended to identify the most talented math students (a situation more analogous to real-world situations like job hunts), then you face an issue. The issue could be best summarized by noting the following two points:
1) Research has provided a pretty compelling indication that math talents are equally divided between the sexes (some of this has been covered by Ars in the past).
2) Participation in math contests is not equally divided between the sexes.

So, a contest without intervention stands a good chance of not identifying the best talent. Providing an inducement that tackles issue 2 is a way of adjusting for that.

Now, there are all sorts of potential subtleties here – maybe you’re looking to fill a job that requires both math skills and competitiveness, etc. – that can influence how important it is to handle issue 2. And there are studies that could be done to clarify exactly what’s happening (the most obvious to me is determining whether women with exceptional talents are more likely to enter competitions). But i think the issues here are more subtle than a lot of people’s reactions to them.

But, by that reasoning (and I’m not convinced his claims are valid), we can just as easily claim that math talent is equally distributed among heterosexuals and homosexuals (proportionally), right-handed people and left-handed people, innies and outies, people who like classic rock and those who prefer heavy metal etc.  Would this mean that we must search out statistical variations between the above groups and then try to remedy them?  Of course not; it all boils down to politics.  Women are considered “oppressed”, therefore we are told we must guarantee them equal outcomes for prestigious positions.

Where will it all end?  it is not hard to foresee a future where smart people are penalized in all academic tests and strong people must wear weights in order to offset their advantage over weak people.  I remember reading a science fiction story about just such a scenario once; it described a world few of us would want to live in.

Time Magazine recently had an article about a study dealing with the favoritism many parents display toward one of their children:

One oft-cited study showed that about 70% of fathers and 65% of mothers exhibit a preference for one child or another. For fathers, it’s most often the youngest girl; for mothers, it’s typically the oldest boy. And remember, the key here is the exhibited preference. Since parents do such a good job of concealing any bias — especially when a scientist is watching — the numbers are almost certainly a good deal higher.

If it’s any consolation for Mom and Dad — to say nothing of the unfavored kids — favoritism is hardwired into our species. Since families, at their evolutionary essence, exist principally as a way to get as many genes as possible into the next generation, we’re programmed to place our bets on the kids who stand the greatest chance of being reproductively successful.

It’s an interesting article, but far more interesting are the comments.  Most of the comments take the “liberal” stance that humans have transcended nature, that only fairness can prevail, that there can be no hierarchy among children because we are all equal.  Here is one example of such a comment:

As a scientist and a mother and whatever we humans are – I can tell you with whatever guarantee you would ask of me – that that is not true, not in terms of love anyway.

Parents love all children equally.  The parents themselves might not even know or think they do but at the deepest level where it counts the most, love is equal.

Now, emotional energy and attention might be unequal.  Families are a mix of personalities and parents can identify with one child more than another or behavioural or medical issues can interfere with relationship dynamics.

I was the “difficult child” in my family.  In my adolescence I did feel less favoured and loved less.  I wasn’t, they loved me so much they were worried about me and it put anxiety into our relationship.

We can talk about relationship and emotional dynamics.  Love is unmeasurable, it is endless, and it is always there.

In typical leftist fashion, and probably unaware she is even doing it, “Red Bess Road” (above) sets up a straw man (love) and then denies the validity of the study based on that.  It never occurred to her that the study had nothing to do with love.  It was about “exhibited favoritism” – as it clearly stated.

There are a few comments that take the “conservative” stance, that humans are part of nature, that we should strive to be fair and just but, at the same time, maintain harmony with the greater natural world.  Here is a comment that represents the “conservative” minority view:

I find the responses just as interesting as the article. Most people want to deny that they have a favorite, even when it is measurable. What many studies find is that we act in ways that we are not really conscious of – and want to not believe that we do. The article also pointed out that favoritism is found in about 70% of cases – which means it is not an absolute for everyone, so just because it may not exist in some people doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, the denial of scientific evidence runs rampant in the population these days – and manifests itself in politics, too.

I’ll point out here that the article does contradict itself, stating at the beginning that favoritism is an “iron-clad” rule of parenting – but then citing a study that found it in only 65%-70% of cases.  But this is just sloppy journalism; it does not undermine the study.  Is Paul McDonald (comment above) a race-realist?  If not, he should be.

The “liberal” position holds that humans (at least white humans) are above nature, that we are akin to gods.  We can significantly alter our planet’s climate, we have the power, and responsibility, to oversee the fate of other species – from lowly snails to whales and elephants.  We can overcome old-age and our destiny is to live for centuries or even forever.  Our own capabilities and proclivities (such as I.Q. and crime) are determined by the choices made by humans (nurture) rather than our own genetic codes (nature).

“Liberals” tend to reject the notion of a traditional god – because they want the position for themselves.  Conservatives tend to have a more humble approach, considering themselves subservient to a higher being – whose will is manifested in nature.  Even if Mankind was given dominion over nature, we do not have the power to replace, or reject, it because we are part of it.

I have already written about this theme elsewhere.  If we pay attention, we can see it played out over and over again in the media.

Perhaps you shouldn’t; there is always somebody worse off than you – like this guy, who chose to skip the office mega-pool lottery purchase.  In hindsight, perhaps he should have bought that ticket:

A hapless state information-technology worker who usually joined his office lottery pool took a pass last week — only to learn that seven positive-thinking pals nailed a whopping $319 million Mega Millions jackpot, said a deli owner who knows the winners.

“The word is that when they were going around the office asking who wanted in on the pool, one guy said no, that he wasn’t feeling lucky,” said Jill Cook, who with husband Tom owns Cook’s Deli in Albany, where the winners are lunchtime regulars.

“They asked him twice. They said, ‘Are you sure?’ and he said yeah, he was going to pass this time. I feel horrible for him,” Jill said.

The number of players in the pool varied from week to week, she said, and the identity of the mystery loser — who could have won a $16 million after-tax share under the lottery’s lump-sum option — was as elusive as those of the big winners, who sources say worked in IT for the state Homes and Community Renewal agency.

Hmmm… 16 million dollars.  I would feel bad if I were that guy.  But still, he made the right choice.  He is no worse off than he was before and the damage is purely psychological.  He had no way of knowing what was going to happen.  No matter how you package it, state lotteries are a form of voluntary taxation.  The odds of winning the jackpot are vanishingly small.

A lot of people condemn state lotteries for their disproportionate impact upon the poor.  By some accounts, poor Americans spend 9% of their income on lottery tickets.  Of course, the MSM cannot get the word “poor” out of its collective mouth without also saying a word like “black”, “Hispanic” or “minority”.  It must be some sort of speech impediment.  In any case, the Chicago Reporter says:

In the South Side’s 60619 ZIP code area, lottery players spent more than $23 million on lottery tickets in fiscal year 2002, more than any other ZIP code in the state, according to lottery sales records. The 60619 area includes parts of the predominantly black neighborhoods of Chatham, Avalon Park, Burnside and Calumet Heights…

“Lotteries are, in essence, a form of regressive taxation that distributes wealth and resources away from those who can least afford to pay,” said Paul Street, vice-president for research and planning at the Chicago Urban League. He said he was not surprised by the Reporter’s findings. “[Lotteries] especially extract wealth from communities of color, and most particularly from African Americans.”

It is sad when manual laborers spend so much of their money gambling.  But we might look at it philosophically and say that this is a “low-I.Q. tax”.  A way for the underclasses to repay some of the benefits higher I.Q. people are forced to provide them through taxes.  A large chunk of lottery money goes into preserving the environment (or so they say).  This is a cause that most tax-payers sympathize with.

There is also a benefit to the poor who buy the tickets.  They give themselves a shimmer of hope in their otherwise dreary lives.  Far be it from me to deny them that.

The great fitness icon of the 20th century has departed this Earth at the ripe old age of 96.  My generation grew up with Jack LeLanne and, for a long time, his name was almost synonymous with fitness.  As if it were yesterday, I remember his boast that he would live to 150.

LeLanne belonged to an era when people believed man could transcend his genetic destiny if only he could control his behavior and what goes into his body.  Of course, not everybody in that era bought into this philosophy; it was mainly hippies and their sympathizers on the Left.  Certain members of my own family seem to have been of the opinion that they could live to extreme old age, and retain the rigors of youth indefinitely if only they maintained a vegan lifestyle and practiced enough of whatever physical discipline they favored.  All of those hippies are now growing old; in the end, their genes are proving to be the greatest determinant of how they age and at what rate.  A few still cling to dreams of immortality, but I am fairly certain that the vast majority have begun to notice the tell-tale signs that Mother Nature gives us as hints that our time is nigh.

When it comes to I.Q.,  stubborn tenacity is still the rule.  Despite all the evidence, the average joe on the street will tell you that nurture is the main determinant of I.Q.  Perhaps this is because, unlike aging, I.Q. does not manifest itself so clearly.  Lower I.Q. people often look just like higher I.Q. people.  I recently wrote about an amazingly intelligent girl and how even the mainstream media seems willing to admit that there might be a genetic component to intelligence in extreme cases of genius.   Perhaps, when it comes to extreme old age, their attitude will be the same.  Everybody agrees that those who die very young almost always do so mainly because of environment.  It might be that even the firmest believers in the dominant role of nurture will agree that genetics must play a vital role in those who live to be 115.  Just as environment tends to do more harm than good when it comes to longevity, so to would it take the leading role in making people retarded – but only a passive role in making a person a genius.  In other words, environment can make a retard.  It can only allow a genius.  It can cause an early death.  It can only allow old age.  When it comes to the good things, environment is most beneficial when it allows desirable genes to express themselves.

We can only guess how long LaLanne would have lived had he eaten twinkies every day, smoked and passed his time on the couch.  But I think the more important question is: would his life had had just as much meaning?  Since physical fitness was what defined LaLanne, there should be no doubt that he chose the right path for himself.

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