7/5/2010 Open Thread

By Razib Khan | July 5, 2010 6:09 pm

I think it is probably best to have a weekly open thread for links and what not of interest. So I’ll just do this every week (in fact, I’m going to schedule a bunch ahead), and leave links or pointers. I suppose people could ask questions too, as a lot of my blog posts which are more didactic emerge through reader feedback (often via email).

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Comments (11)

  1. dan

    does anyone else think that being spiritual or religious pretty much categorically means you’re dumber than those that aren’t? i can’t help but think that, even though there are many scientists and “smart” businessmen that are religious, it simply means they aren’t smart enough to grasp even the most basic logic that it’s either empiricism or nothing at all that counts in life. however, it could be genetic tendencies towards mysticism and especially imprinting during the critical periods of development during childhood that cause them to not be able to overcome these tendencies. Does being anything but an empiricist mean you’re, basically, not that smart and – what brain mechanisms cause someone to believe things that aren’t true? Why are humans so bad at admitting what they’re doing is incorrect but they just want to do it anyway for their own benefit? I know about zero people for whom “nothing is sacred.” does having “sacred” beliefs mean you’re of lower intelligence?

    if no one wants to tackle that i’ll also leave:

    – I’d be interested in what beliefs Razib has that makes him conservative and whether he thinks his logic or his genetics makes him that way:)
    – any insight into gene expression in neurons or juicy info about how critical periods during childhood permanently shape personality

    PS i’d second the reader’s suggestion about not being able to understand the Research Blogging posts. a TL;DR in the comments would be nice cuz i simple cannot understand what you’re talking about or whether i’m interested in it.

  2. does anyone else think that being spiritual or religious pretty much categorically means you’re dumber than those that aren’t?

    i object to categorically. though i guess it depends on what you mean by “dumb.”

    – I’d be interested in what beliefs Razib has that makes him conservative and whether he thinks his logic or his genetics makes him that way:)

    there are aspects in my personality which make libertarianism appealing to me. i’m pretty sure this is heritable (i won’t go into details because i make a point about not talking about family on the web). so my libertarianism is a priori. my conservatism, which is basically a watering down of my libertarianism and acceptance of the importance of communal norms, is a mix of experience as i’ve aged + my reading of the empirical record of history, as well as human nature. if everyone was like me i think libertarianism would do OK, but most people aren’t. in many ways i’m a burkean conservative now i guess, so i’m not necessarily conservative on the “hot button” issues, but i think that many cultural liberals are just too aggressive in their moral imperialism, and probably are destabilizing institutions which they don’t understand the delicacy of (i.e., many liberals have strong moral viewpoints about things like abortion, gender relations and homosexuality, so i don’t agree that they necessarily favor total individual freedom). of course my social and cultural milieu is very far to the left, i might not self-identify as a conservative if i lived in the bible belt, because i might not be perceived as such.

  3. dan

    I guess I just mean that once you see that someone isn’t making a true effort to analyze and interpret data in an honest way (even though many will disagree what “honest” is) it seems to me that you’re lacking in intelligence. perhaps one is simply lacking in integrity in that situation but i feel like it just means they’re dumber.

    your self critique reminded me of this:
    http://journals.democraticunderground.com/eridani/449

    anyway, Razib, i curious how you could be worried about liberals’ objectives given the state of Europe. couldn’t this only reassure you? It’s quite nice there:) Would you mind giving examples of this “destabilization” to further the conversation? What, specifically, are you concerned about policy-wise?

  4. I guess I just mean that once you see that someone isn’t making a true effort to analyze and interpret data in an honest way (even though many will disagree what “honest” is) it seems to me that you’re lacking in intelligence. perhaps one is simply lacking in integrity in that situation but i feel like it just means they’re dumber.

    1) not everyone has the same integration of cognitive domains, i think (none of us are perfect, obviously)

    2) very intelligent people who have theistic beliefs often have some sophisticated understandings. though many do not. i think religion is a generally a function of subculture fwiw

    anyway, Razib, i curious how you could be worried about liberals’ objectives given the state of Europe. couldn’t this only reassure you? It’s quite nice there:) Would you mind giving examples of this “destabilization” to further the conversation? What, specifically, are you concerned about policy-wise?

    i think *some* liberals (and *most* libertarians) don’t value enough that nations are more than the sum of their parts in terms of organically evolved institutions, norms and traditions. that is, nation-states are more than just a concrete form to implement policies which one thinks is just. more specifically in the very libertarian and liberal social milieu in which i tend to flow there’s a lack of understanding that most humans are not by their nature necessarily OK with cosmopolitan deracination.

  5. dan

    “…lack of understanding that most humans are not by their nature necessarily OK with cosmopolitan deracination.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/09/us/09housing.html?pagewanted=all

    is this close to what you’re getting at? happened in Chicago and SFran too and NYTMag had a huge write up. not a good idea, imo. it’s different when it’s *your* neighborhood. aside from the difference in SES there’s the difference in cultural values. this is why it may be harder to get social welfare to work in America than a smaller, homogeneous European country. maybe it can be done in a few hundred years but, in the meantime, i’m not interested in paying the bill for a Catholic to have 10 kids.

  6. i suppose that’s an instance. but that case is distorted by rational economic concerns. i guess i can give you a concrete example. what if italy was 50% muslim and 20% protestant in 50 years (i made these numbers up, they’re not projections). what if a lot of the catholic churches were turned into mosques and protestant churches, as they were bought up by the new communities. in a pure utilitarian sense the utils to the people alive at the time are the same. what does it matter? but reflexively a lot of normal people are going to care, because they have an idea that there is an essence to italy which transcends any specific time. that is, living is just more than living in a given time and experience and self-actualizing as an individual. rather, it’s a psychological connection with past generations, and a future image of what is to be, as well as an embeddedness within the present in your own community of shared values, norms and background.

    (mind you, a lot of the above is kind of alien to my own life and preferences, but i think it’s necessary for the flourishing of most people)

  7. dan

    ah, i see what you mean. kind of what Paul Bloom was talking about Last Saturday. although, i’d agree with “them” for different reasons: the new citizens just don’t have the same values i have. i think that’s a huge part of the (prospective) headscarf bans
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hijab_by_country#Europe

    they just don’t want to live with those people and neither would I. I’d let them front for me regardless of their reasoning as I don’t want this type of mentality to encroach on my living space. i don’t mind America changing at all but i’d definitely rather it change into an awesome science-based utopia than a muslim zombie land. replace your 50% muslim with 50% east asian and i’m good-to-go (minus the poor record on animal rights, of course)

  8. dan, right, but in most “enlightened” circles saying what you just said would be verboten.

  9. dan

    yes, true. this is why no one on reddit likes my comments:) they’re all nerds. thanks for the tip on the essence of nationality – it kind of explains (aside from the religious aspect) why cons wouldn’t like gay marriage, etc. – stuff that wouldn’t bother them directly. never thought of it that way

  10. Neil

    Interesting…I still lean left, but I’ve become more conservative over the years because I’ve come to a similar sort of understanding. I consider myself a democrat, but only because a secular conservative alternative that matches my world view does not exist.

    With regards to social programs, a conservative outlook seems more obvious. For example, welfare and other programs would be great if they actually turned its beneficiaries into productive, self-reliant members of society, which they don’t. But I have a problem with the means, not the ends.

    So where do we go from here? Kurzweil’s singularity?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBeoreJr4Yc

    (hopefully you won’t mind parsing the plot-related dialogue)

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

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 http://www.razib.com

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