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Sunday, November 10, 2013

All political philosophies flow from this one piece of knowledge

If you know how a person feels about IQ, and the extent to which it's determined by genes, you'll likely know his entire political philosophy.

You can make an educated guess about how he feels about putting more money into falling schools, and whether that will result in a more productive society.

How he feels about criminals' vs. victims' rights.

About taxes.

About welfare.

About immigration.

About nation building abroad.

About foreign aid.

About affirmative action.

These are all political positions which are, to a certain extent, subjective, and a function of the values that people hold.

But the IQ controversy itself -- the extent to which it's nature and not nurture that determines one's intelligence -- is not a subjective, or moral, matter. it's a scientific one. And as with all scientific matters, the truth is far less squishy.

To determine which side is right, study the issue with an open mind -- a truly open mind. Read what Stephen Jay Gould (who felt intelligence was just a social construct) had to say on the matter, then read what Arthur Jensen (who believed our intelligence is mostly determined by our genes) had to say. Take a look at the various separated twin studies, of which this is one. Ask yourself whose opinion was informed by science, and whose by propaganda and wishful thinking.

After you study the issue, see if it affects your political thinking.

Too many people have either no knowledge of the nature vs. nurture controversy, or have been fed propaganda rather than facts. And when your entire view of human intelligence is based on propaganda, you're bound to have a lot of wrongheaded political views as well.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious that IQ is genetically determined. The bright children from when I was at primary school went on to university and to good jobs as adults, and the dimmer children went on to work menial jobs, irrespective of the education they received after primary school. No amount of teaching can turn a dim child bright - saying otherwise is mere wishful thinking. Even knowing the occupations of a child's biological parents can help us draw a rough estimate of what his IQ is, whether he was raised by his biological parents or not.

I now dare you to guess my positions on the other things you listed. You'll most probably get them right.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Well, since you've DARED me, I'm going to guess that your positions are the same as mine, which I'm sure you're fairly familiar with from the blog.

You're absolutely right about the wishful thinking. I became interested in the subject of IQ when I was 18, a year after Arthur Jensen had published that infamous article in The Atlantic Monthly, in which he mentioned race and IQ, in 1971. After looking at the separated twin studies, at the evidence on the difference between monozygotic twins vs. dizygotic twins, etc, it became very clear that the geneticists were correct, despite their demonization by the popular press. And the arguments the other side came up with entirely specious, and based on wishful thinking.

Arguing that biology has nothing to do with intelligence is, in the end, as silly as arguing that the difference in muscular strength between men and women is not biological in origin. The nurture crowd would come up with arguments which were the equivalent of, but what about such-and-such a woman? She's stronger than most men! Well, that may be true, but that doesn't alter the shape of the bell curve. Or they would say the equivalent of, there's more variation with in a gender than there is between the genders, i.e., the strongest woman is stronger than the weakest woman by a larger margin than the average man is stronger than the average woman -- as if that proved anything. Their common sense and numeracy and understanding of the nature of a bell curve was entirely lacking. Then, when all their other arguments failed, they would basically say the equivalent of, well, you're an evil person for believing that men are stronger than women, hoping to silence the opposition that way.

What's really sickening is that there are so many in the media who continue to act as if the environmentalists turned out to be correct, and that they have brainwashed the great mass of people who have never bother to look into the subject for themselves.

Remnant said...

This is largely, but not wholly, true.

1. On the political right*, there are still those who believe in IQ and those who don't. We can see these differences when comparing paleocons and neocons, and the dissident right and libertarians. Neocons and libertarians are essentially the "Whigs" of American politics: they believe in "progress", and they attribute any gaps and lags in certain groups to "culture" or to "interference in the market." Some would say that they are cynics, and that they actually do believe in group differences but refuse to publicly acknowledge it out of fear for their careers. But I tend to think that they honestly believe it.

2. It also does not entirely predict a person's politics on economics (or perhaps you were explicitly bifurcating politics and economics). It is possible to have non-free market economics whether one believes in IQ (e.g. much of the dissident right does not advocate free market economics) or one does (e.g most of the political left). Likewise, it is possible to believe in free market economics whether one believes in IQ (e.g. Hans Herman-Hoppe and similar types, such as Moldbug) or not (again, the American Whigs: National Review, Reason Magazine, Neocons generally).

Essentially, there are three camps: Tories, Whigs and Labor. For both Tories and Labor, there are factions that believe and don't believe in group differences in IQ. Pretty much all Whigs deny group differences in IQ.

* There is a good case to be made that neither neocons nor libertarians are truly on the political right.

Remnant said...

One additional thought on this:

The fact that there are leftists who believe in group IQ differences was once much more apparent in American politics that it is now. There were many pro-eugenicist people as well as racially "nationalist" people on the political left pre-WWII. Labor unions (Samuel Gompers) were essentially socialist in their politics but were quite vocal about group differences. Many early pro-abortion groups were essentially eugenicist in their outlook. Etc.

Vox recently had a post about how there is more hope for Europe because there is still more of what he terms "transideological nationalism", which is another way of saying that there are those on both left and right who believe in group differences.

In the US, the left has become entirely egalitarian (i.e. that people ARE equal, not that they should merely be treated as equal).

http://voxday.blogspot.hk/2013/11/why-there-is-hope-for-europe.html

John Craig said...

Remnant --
You are right -- as far as I could follow you -- which is why I used the word "likely" in the first sentence of the post.

Also, keep in mind, there are a lot of people who call themselves libertarians who really aren't true libertarians (and by "libertarians," I don't mean "anarchists").

Also, I wasn't really thinking in terms of Keynes vs. Friedman here, but more just in terms of the issues I mentioned. I would be willing to bet (not that there would be any realistic way of doing so) that 95% of the people who are familiar with the separated twin studies realize the futility of pouring more money into "failing schools" and "nation building" in a place like Afghanistan and foreign aid to places which have never demonstrated the ability to sustain a civilization on their own.

As far as Whigs and Tories and Labor, I don't have a good enough feel for British politics to be able to comment knowledgeably, so you'll have to excuse me on that.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
In response to your second comment: I just read that Vov Populi post, quite interesting, thank you. You make a very good point about the US, too. Margaret Sanger is the perfect example of the type you're referring to. She was an old-style (first half of the twentieth century) liberal: she believed in birth control, sex education, and eugenics. At the same time, while she wasn't politically correct about race by today's standards, she also worked for interracial cooperation.

What's sickening now is exactly what you describe, the insistence on the belief that not only should people be treated as equal, but that they ARE equal in every way, and that to think otherwise is a thought crime.

Remnant said...

Thanks. Also, I didn't mean to sound nit-picky about your post. I essentially agree with it and was just pointing out that there are nuances in the political landscape that complicate it.

As the John Derbyshire incident illustrates, the mainstream political right is largely beholden to leftist assumptions and positions on group differences.

Comparisons of the US to a kind of Soviet though-controlled state are not so overblown as they sound. Belief in actual equality is a sine qua non of participation in mainstream political life.

John Craig said...

Remnant --
Thank YOU. No worries, I took all your comments in the spirit in which you made them. And yes, there are definitely nuances.

So much of what George Orwell said in Animal Farm has come true. And as Derbyshire and others like him have discovered the hard way, any departure from the PC belief that all groups are the same is treated very harshly. No opposing voices allowed! (Which, if you look it up in the dictionary, is the true definition of fascism.)

Baloo said...

Neocons are on the left, historically and philosophically. Libertarians are a mix, but really belong on the right. Great piece. Slight typo at the end, a > as. So great, in fact, that I reblogged it and made a nice quibcag out of it here:
http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2013/11/nature-vs-nurture.html

Glen Filthie said...

I think people may place too high a value on IQ. I know men who can't read that can buy and sell us out of pocket change...and tall foreheads that can't be trusted with anything more than a fork or they will hurt themselves.

Training trumps genetics any day of the week, as a matter of fact.

Spychiatrist said...

"Training trumps genetics any day of the week, as a matter of fact."

I'm not so sure about that. Obviously not all people can be trained to be brain surgeons, or pilots, or teachers, etc.

Certainly many dullards can be trained to do many things, but I'd have to guess that a person genetically predisposed towards natural intelligence learns much easier than a person who is deficient genetically in that category.

I'm convinced that genes play a much larger role in natural intelligence than nurture does. That is not to say that many determined people lacking, can't and won't learn and achieve.

John Craig said...

Glen --
Certainly there are individual exceptions. And yes, there are plenty of dumb rich people and also eggheads with no common sense. But when it come to political views on issues like affirmative action or nation building, IQ is near impossible to overcome. A population's average IQ is always going to trump whatever social policies you put in place to remedy their status.

Spychiatrist --
Agreed.

Rona said...

Recognizing the reality that IQ is determined by genetic makeup necessarily changes one's understanding of almost all social issues.

One thing I imagine it does is ease the concern parents have about "doing everything" for their children. Turns out reading to your kids, choosing a great preschool, playing Mozart etc. is irrelevant to their intelligence.

Now if parents could accept that their opinions, values and attitudes will never matter in significantly shaping their child's personality and values they could relax and simply make sure that child's peer group espouses the sort of opinions and behaviours they want instilled.

And have more kids.

And as for equality in treatment and in fact, this quote from Lewis tells it best:

"Democracy is connected with the political ideal that men should be treated equally. You then make a stealthy transition in people’s minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in people’s thoughts the most degrading of all human feelings . . .

The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say, “I’m as good as you.”

The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid, resounding lie. I don’t mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says “I’m as good as you” believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only be those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept. And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation.

Now, this useful phenomenon is in itself by no means new. Under the name of Envy it has been known to humans for thousands of years. But hitherto they always regarded it as the most odious, and also the most comical, of vices. The delightful novelty of the present situation is that you can sanction it–make it respectable and even laudable–by the incantatory use of the word democratic. Under the influence of this incantation those who are in any or every way inferior can labour more wholeheartedly and successfully than ever before to pull down everyone else to their own level."


-Rona

John Craig said...

Rona --
You're absolutely right. I've seen it time and again: smart parents tend to beget smart kids. And no matter what path those kids' lives take, the IQ always seems to express itself in some fashion or other.

Not sure I entirely agree with you that parents' values and attitudes play no role in shaping their kids' values and attitudes, though. I have a theory: a child will adopt a parents' tastes and values and outlook in inverse correlation with the narcissism of that parent. If the parent is a blowhard -- of high or low IQ -- who can never admit his mistakes, the child is likely to adopt an opposite outlook. And vice versa.

Great quote from Lewis (I had to check to make sure that was CS Lewis, I'm embarrassed to say). I had no idea when I was reading my kids the Narnia books that the author was such an incisive social thinker.

Thanks for that comment.

Anonymous said...

"Arguing that biology has nothing to do with intelligence is, in the end, as silly as arguing that the difference in muscular strength between men and women is not biological in origin. The nurture crowd would come up with arguments which were the equivalent of, but what about such-and-such a woman? She's stronger than most men! Well, that may be true, but that doesn't alter the shape of the bell curve. Or they would say the equivalent of, there's more variation with in a gender than there is between the genders, i.e., the strongest woman is stronger than the weakest woman by a larger margin than the average man is stronger than the average woman -- as if that proved anything. Their common sense and numeracy and understanding of the nature of a bell curve was entirely lacking. Then, when all their other arguments failed, they would basically say the equivalent of, well, you're an evil person for believing that men are stronger than women"

I've just come away from the most infuriating debate with a white liberal. It was about race and IQ - him suggesting that black people ONLY do worse than whites because of racism, not innate (in)ability. I countered that one by pointing out that other ethnic groups are also victims of racism, but manage to perform well regardless. His answer was basically what you predicted: going on about all the variance between these groups, saying that these groups are too heterogenous to put under the "false" labels of 'black' and 'white'. Funnily enough, he didn't seem to have an answer to my claim that blacks dominate most sports...

He then pointed out that black people are poorer, so they don't have access to the same learning resources or top schools. I answered by saying that neither do many working class whites, but poverty doesn't affect their IQs. He replied by claiming I was talking about exceptions to the rule, not the overall trend (I wasn't - countless doctors and scientists have come from poor families). He then went for the "whites have oppressed blacks for centuries" argument for why they don't perform as well academically. I refuted that one by claiming that Christians oppressed Jews for centuries, but the Jews still outperform Christians. He ended it by going on about how racism is wrong, as if I had somehow argued in its favour. Total denial of statistics and bell curves, as you said.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
That argument sounds quite familiar; I've had it many times myself.

I love your description of the liberal's closing argument:

"He ended it by going on about how racism is wrong, as if I had somehow argued in its favor."

Unfortunately, in my life I seem to have known many more people like that liberal than I have people like you.

Steven said...

What is the connection between a heredetarian view of racial IQ differences and ones view on welfare?

If you mean being in some way anti-welfare (I notice quite a lot of race realists have those kind of views), I don't think it necessarily follows. Why deny people a decent life and leave them to starve just because they are not as intelligent as you? If its their genes, then its not even their fault! Leaving people to suffer because they are basically born weaker than you is not right in my book.

I can see how one might have reservations about immigration.


Steven said...

I'm a little bit mystified by America when it comes to health. How is it that your health spending is the highest in the world per capita, the highest % of GDP in the world, and yet there is apparently not universal coverage? Aren't you the only developed nation in the world without universal coverage? The UK spends less than half of what America does per capita and we have free universal healthcare at point of service and no complications with insurance. We even have the option to go private if we want.

I can understand why you might want to make some right libertarian free market argument for private health care but I don't understand why as a country you don't have socialized health care and still manage to spend way more than everybody else on it. It seems crazy.

The only rational explanation I can come up with is that the state of people's health is the poorest in the developed world and therefore you have to spend a tonne on it. If so, perhaps the biggest way you could reduce your health spending and improve the national finances would be to improve the health of the nation, declare another 'war on...', a war on obesity.

The political discourse about this in Europe is very different to America. We pretty much take socialised healthcare and universal healthcare completely for granted. Anything less is unimaginable and seems almost barbaric (I don't mean to be hostile- this is just how I perceive it as a Brit). Some of your pundits seem to make out that some socialistic apocalypse is coming if you socialise healthcare. To us, this seems strange.

Steven said...

*the comment about health was supposed to be under the 'what insurance is' article. I searched 'economics' to find out your views and these are the articles it gave me.

John Craig said...

Steven --
You'll have to forgive me but I'm going to have to give you some abbreviated replies today. I'm in Hawaii with my family (including my parents) and have had relatively little time (and thus am getting to your questions late).

Okay, in order:

Most race realists realize that the ultimate effect of welfare is to encourage the lower-IQed to breed more, and as it is, the lower-IQed are already outbreeding the higher-IQ's by a pretty wide margin. So why turn an already dysgenic society into one which is even more so?

I would certainly agree with you in principle that just because someone is weaker they should not be condemned to a horrible life. But as it is, people on welfare can actually live pretty decent lives in the US. Most arguments about welfare in this country tend to center around how much should be given, not whether any should, and whether or not workfare requirements should be instituted. (The Obama administration has pretty much gutted most of the workfare requirements which had been in place.)

Sorry, but I'm the wrong guy to ask about health care in this country. I agree that it's ridiculous that it's so expensive, and nobody can seem to get costs under control. But….I don't have the answers.

As far as economics in genial I tend to be a libertarian, within limits. Overall I'd say there's WAAAY too much government red tape.

John Craig said...

Steven --
You'll have to forgive me but I'm going to have to give you some abbreviated replies today. I'm in Hawaii with my family (including my parents) and have had relatively little time (and thus am getting to your questions late).

Okay, in order:

Most race realists realize that the ultimate effect of welfare is to encourage the lower-IQed to breed more, and as it is, the lower-IQed are already outbreeding the higher-IQ's by a pretty wide margin. So why turn an already dysgenic society into one which is even more so?

I would certainly agree with you in principle that just because someone is weaker they should not be condemned to a horrible life. But as it is, people on welfare can actually live pretty decent lives in the US. Most arguments about welfare in this country tend to center around how much should be given, not whether any should, and whether or not workfare requirements should be instituted. (The Obama administration has pretty much gutted most of the workfare requirements which had been in place.)

Sorry, but I'm the wrong guy to ask about health care in this country. I agree that it's ridiculous that it's so expensive, and nobody can seem to get costs under control. But….I don't have the answers.

As far as economics in genial I tend to be a libertarian, within limits. Overall I'd say there's WAAAY too much government red tape.

Steven said...

I looked into the reason for your higher spending a bit. Its not because of high rates of obesity like I thought. These seem to be the main reasons:

"Some of the extra costs are caused by the legal system, which can encourage doctors to practice defensive medicine. But other factors play a bigger role.

Higher prices are one. The same goods and services — drugs, for example — cost much more here than they do in other countries. Why? Because they can. Neither the government nor the free market controls them.

Another big reason is paperwork. We spent about $156 billion on insurance company overhead in 2007. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that Americans spent $1,059 per person on administrative costs, almost 3 1/2 times more than Canadians.

Americans are more likely to receive intensive treatment — often involving expensive, high-tech equipment and procedures — than people in other countries. Supply drives demand."

It seems to mostly come down to drug and treatment costs. They are so much more expensive in America than in other developed countries. The government doesn't regulate the costs and possibly there is not enough competition either. In other countries, the government either fixes the prices or negotiates them. American drug companies are charging through the roof just because they can. Why doesn't he government step in? Possibly not very libertarian but it could be a major way to reduce the federal budget. At the moment the situation there really isn't good enough.

http://www.creators.com/opinion/daily-editorials/here-s-why-u-s-health-care-is-so-expensive.html

Some graphs:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/health-care-costs-_n_3998425.html


As for welfare, I don't know about America but in Britain people on welfare live close to the bread line. Single parents, in particular, struggle to get enough food for themselves and their kids at all times. People on benefits here are going hungry some of the time, eating a meal a day, or sacrificing meals so their kids can eat. The conservative government started taxing empty rooms in social housing, making things even harder. Lots of food banks have opened- charity places you go to get food if you have none. Ordinary families on benefits are using them en masse.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Yes, I read those articles; it is disgusting how health care costs so much more in tho country than in others. One part of the reason which was not mentioned in either roy those articles is that hospitals have to make up for the people they treat for free (they are legally not allowed to turn people away from emergency rooms) by charging the people who pay more. Also, hospitals have to make up for their empty beds by charging those who stay more. But it is very complicated, and beyond my ken.

In this country there have been all sorts of cases involving people with electronic benefits cards using them to spend money on liquor, cigarettes, tattoos, and even at strip clubs. Recently, it was discovered that people getting free food in NYC were sending that in barrels to their relatives in the Dominican Republic. Also, the Obama administration has gutted all of the requirements for workfare in this country. So….my sympathies have been strained.

Steven said...

'About welfare'.

'foreign aid'

I think the fact that people are not born equal increases the responsibility to help those who fall behind through no fault of their own.

If everyone were equal, it would make more sense to deny help to those who are not applying themselves.

Steven said...

On the other hand, I understand your concern with providing the conditions for low IQ people to have more kids than high IQ people. (And I know your solution).

John Craig said...

Steven --
For starters, we rethink our dysgenic immigration policy. (And after that, we can start tailing eugenics.)