Things that make you go hm….

By Razib Khan | February 20, 2007 11:04 am

Bora sayeth:

Are you sure? How can a hierarchical, Chain-of-Being, authoritarian, sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, religious ideology be ‘normal’ when it does not understand the world correctly? Isn’t it maladaptive to hold erroneous views of nature (and human nature) and try to organize societies to fit that view instead of trying to organize societies in synch with our best understanding of the way the world really works?

(mild typos fixed)
There’s so much I could say, and yet I will leave it without a word….

  • Agnostic

    He believes that males and females desire the same things in a relationship — how more off-the-mark can you get? You don’t need to study anything to know that’s wrong. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, it’s the male-typical interests that he focuses on — physical gratifcation — when evaluating whether there is egalitarianism in a relationship or not.
    Somehow I doubt that the feminist consensus (FWIW) would accept that one core feature of egalitarian relationships is that the partners spend equal amounts of time eating each other’s junk.
    Lots of men in the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements were sexist — as in, really sexist, not fake sexist — which was one key impetus for the Women’s Lib movement. Stokely Carmichael once joked, “What is the position of women in SNCC? The position of women in SNCC is prone” — that is, “face-down.” Hardly a minority viewpoint at the time. Does that mean that Civil Rights activists were infected with psychopathology, their movement a conservative juggernaut, etc. etc.?

  • Agnostic

    Oops. Post wherein he cites equal crotch-munching time as a central criterion of relationship egalitarianism:

  • Colugo

    Razib, I hope you (and Cortunix, if he reads this) take this in the proper spirit, rather than as personal attack.
    I have been frank with Corturnix on my disagreements with him about politics and biology, including the “crazy conservative” hypothesis. (Politics aside, I have my agreements and disagreements with both of you regarding biological theory.)
    Naively attempting to derive policy from “science” (specifically, “human nature”) is a project that has resulted in numerous follies. To name but a few: Haeckel’s Monism, the Cult of Reason, dialectical materialism, and most notably today, the “race realist” movement.
    For example:
    John Derbyshire, 11/7/05: “Ours is a nation founded on the proposition that all men are created equal. … (I)f different human groups, of different common ancestry, have different frequencies of genes influencing things like, for goodness’ sake, brain development, then our cherished national dream of a well-mixed and harmonious meritocracy with all groups equally represented in all niches, at all levels, may be unattainable.”
    One might protest that this is not a policy recommendation, but in fact it is; it suggests that we ought to attribute ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status to inalterable “human nature” rather than complex and changeable factors. And that view definitely has policy implications.
    Derbyshire wrote that in the context of discussing Lahn’s research. As we now know, the race-brain-IQ speculations derived from Lahn’s work utterly failed – an outcome which should have been (at the very least) chastening to “race realists” of all stripes.
    Both you and Coturnix are mistaken about the relationship between biology and ideology. Coturnix believes that policy ought to be derivable from biological theory – namely, his favored biological paradigm (and if you oppose the ideology, you must be nuts). You believe that we ought not dwell on the ideological misuse of particular theories, even as your allies do just that.
    Interestingly, devastating critiques of “race realism” have been made by your fellow libertarians: Thomas Sowell and Abiola Lapite (Foreign Dispatches blog).

  • razib

    Interestingly, devastating critiques of “race realism” have been made by your fellow libertarians: Thomas Sowell and Abiola Lapite (Foreign Dispatches blog).
    it’s not interesting at all. political philosophy doesn’t necessarily derive from the facts of the universe toward one conclusion, as you say above.

  • razib

    p.s. i’ve made several recent arguments that policy does not derive from a particular understanding of human nature, that it can only be informed.

  • Thermage

    A very interesting site, I think. The Idea of Technology was new for me but worth to be read and thought abot it (although I’m not a native english-speaker and have some difficulties whith this language)

  • Colugo

    “i’ve made several recent arguments that policy does not derive from a particular understanding of human nature, that it can only be informed.”
    That is certainly to your credit. Unfortunately, many of your colleagues in the larger “race realist” community (VDARE etc.) are far more willing to derive their ideology from their beliefs about human biology, or at least claim that their politics are justified on that basis. (That is one reason why the past misuse of biology ought to be considered in regard to certain theories, a topic you brought up in your 1/22/07 post.)
    But your philosophical caution about deriving ideology from biology is not the only way in which you differ from many in the “race realist” world. As you wrote earlier, you understand that the Rushtonian model of Pleistocene origins of distinct racial life history strategies is untenable. You know that “racial” entities are much fuzzier than some of these writers would suggest. I suspect that you also know that sub-Saharan Africans are far more cognitively sophisticated (means and distributions) than “race realists” like Rushton and Lynn claim. With your knowledge and reputation within those circles, you are in a unique position to write an influential article debunking Rushtonian race theory.
    I also invite Coturnix to disavow DS Wilson’s defense of Kevin MacDonald’s odious antisemitic ideas.

  • coturnix

    Who is Kevin McDonald?

  • razib

    come now bora, i’ve read to beat you over the head with maconald several times :-)
    you are in a unique position to write an influential article debunking Rushtonian race theory
    what do you mean by this? i’ve stated many times over the years that i don’t really accept rushton’s model, though i don’t dismiss all the data. as for people deriving ought from is, that is a problem, and i’m sure GNXP has created several racists (we usually expel them once they cross that rubicon). but, i believe mooting various ideas is important in preparing a public (intelligent or not) in engaging with them in a way that is empirically grounded. most racists don’t really care about the biology, it is simply another tool. perhaps i should take a more persistent stand against misuse and abuse of biology, and it does concern me, but, i will admit that i find the science far more interesting than the public policy ramifications (since my own interested in the latter is minimal).
    re: derbyshire, i am to understand that john’s acceptance to population level differences has made him reconciled to various remediatory programs, such as affirmative action. you might not be happy with the way he got there, but you can’t always predict how things will roll.

  • Rikurzhen

    the focus on race in discussions of IQ is a mistake. within the U.S., the largest single component of variation in IQ comes from difference between full siblings (who are obviously from the same race, social class, etc).
    even the variation between whites and blacks in the U.S. is not particularly large compared to the variation between high and low SES classes.
    if not for the existence of public policies based on the assumption of zero IQ difference between groups, there would be little reason to mention race differences in IQ when discussing public policy.

  • Colugo

    Wikipedia entry on MacDonald: theories about Jews, testimony on behalf of David Irving
    SPLC on MacDonald
    DS Wilson defends MacDonald
    It is to the good of the science of multilevel selection to purge from it – and disavow – any errors that might taint it. (Aside: The most underrated level of selection is not the group, but the cell.)
    I would think that it would be a service to Gene Expression’s readers and others outside that readership if you were to thoroughly explain in a single post or magazine article (rather than piecemeal) the flaws with Rushton’s theories, as well as any issues you have with the supporting data. After all, Rushton’s model is one of the more popular in “race realist” circles.
    “perhaps i should take a more persistent stand against misuse and abuse of biology, and it does concern me”
    All of us should be concerned about the impact of our statements. When I wrote things in a public forum about militant Islamist ideology I often took care to add that I was not denouncing all Muslims, lest I give comfort to or encourage anyone who might be predisposed to misinterpret my words.
    Look, I’m not out to give you and Corturnix a hard time. I’m merely trying to offer some constructive criticism.

  • pconroy

    I couldn’t agree more with your comment.
    I grew up in a country – Ireland – where all SES groups, high and low looked more or less alike, so I never perceived a correlation between race and IQ, just low SES and low IQ on the main.
    That’s not to say that different genetic clusters – aka races – have different IQ profiles, they do, just that other factors probably have more influence on final adult IQ, other than race.

  • razib

    in wilson’s defense, he says, I have read Kevin’s first book and will shortly read the other two. the first book was much less wacky than the second or third. macdonald cranks up the critique of jewishness in each one. also, in 1999 he wasn’t as forthright a white nationalist than he is now.
    godless capitalist addressed rushton several years ago in one post. i don’t discuss jp much for a variety of reasons, not all scientific. fundamentally HBD for me is an implicit background possibility, i’m not as focused or interested in it fundamentally as i was years ago. also, confronting racialists invariably draws them in like flies, and that’s a real administrative head ache….

  • dobeln

    Re: Politics and facts on the ground
    As Razib points out, what is generally considered true in society is not independent from ideology and poltics. (If that was the case, we would be in really big trouble!)
    With regards to sex and race, I am pretty sure that due to various factors (Hitler, The sheer sillyness of many early racial theories, the empirical reality of women’s liberation, Marxism, etc.) theories that posit biological differences between various population groups were entirely discarded on rather weak empirical grounds.
    For example, the doctrine of “race does not exist” is really based on Lewontin’s early correct-but-misleading calculations combined with various word games. Apart from that it’s pretty much the power of consensus at work.
    Now, with some harder data coming in, it is not hard to see where the wind is blowing. The consensus of zero group differences is losing ground at a slow but steady pace, despite the rather exacting standards of evidence applied to those that produce results that run counter to it.
    This doesn’t mean that I believe that the racists and sexists of yesteryear will be proven right in the end. The theories that animated nazism (Aryan supremacy), various strains of national romanticism (Scandinavian Atlantis, etc.) or sexism (“women can’t *insert most things here*) are very unlikely to be confirmed by the new evidence produced by advances in the biological sciences.
    What will rather happen is that the initial position of zero group differences will be modified somewhat. Most likely, this will lead to some policy modification.
    Now, it is hard to tell exactly how large and significant these modifications will be in the end, but I very much doubt they will ruin the liberal order, unless liberalism decides to enter a mano-a-mano fight to the death with science.

  • dougjnn

    I think every bit of what you said above is right, wise, and needs to be said from time to time. You did a very good job of it.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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