27 April 2006

Race v. Racialization

The Objectivist
IS RACE REAL?
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
4/26/06


Racial differences are real. This claim conflicts with the widely held view that racial groupings are social constructions. Groups and attributes that are socially constructed are ones that depend on persons thinking in certain ways. For example, attributes like being married, pretty, or middle class and things like money and languages are socially constructed. Other groups and attributes are not socially constructed. Rather they track fundamental divisions in the world. For example, consider categories such as mammal and gold.

Racial groupings are real properties. Persons have different genetic patterns and these patterns cluster around four or five groups (theorists differ here). The groups include blacks, whites, East Asians, and South Asians. So widely accepted are these genetic patterns that commercial firms will tell you where your ancestors came from. All you do is swab your mouth and send it to the company along with a check. The test can even tell persons of mixed ancestry the percentage of their ancestry that comes from different regions. The explanation for these differences is that populations separated over time and space accumulated genetic differences in response to natural selection and random genetic changes. In particular, it is thought that blacks split apart from non-blacks and later whites and Asians split apart.

There are a couple of arguments against the reality of race that are unconvincing. It is sometimes argued that race can’t be real because human beings of different races are much more similar genetically than they are dissimilar. This is unconvincing. Human beings share over 98% of their genes with chimpanzees; this doesn’t show that they are the same. It is also argued that since there are racially-mixed individuals, there can’t be races. However, the possibility of interbreeding doesn’t prevent there from being different groups. For example, the fact that some dogs can be part Great Dane and part German Shepard doesn’t show that there aren’t different breeds and that the differences between breeds aren’t in part due to genetics.

The reason it’s worth noting the reality of race is that it matters. Blacks, whites, and East-Asians have different distributions of intelligence. For example, on some estimates, the average white person has a higher IQ score than 84% of the black population, whereas the average black person tests higher than 16% of the white population. East-Asians score even higher than whites. Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, authors of the widely hated The Bell Curve, argue that a substantial part of these differences is due to genetics. As evidence they note that black and Asian children adopted by white families have IQs similar to that of blacks and Asians generally. Evidence can also be seen in that in the 1981-1995 period, white students whose parents did not have more than a high school diploma had higher SATs than black students at least one of whose parents had a graduate or professional degree (e.g., Ph.D. or M.D.). A similar pattern can be seen in that the SAT scores of whites from poor families exceeded that of blacks from rich ones. Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated notes that only 48 men have run the 100-meter dash in under 10 seconds and they’re all black. He also notes that of the last 50 All-Pro cornerbacks, only one was white.

Our society has tried to ignore these genetic differences, thereby producing painful results. For example, preferential treatment has in the past led to 66% of black medical students failing part of the medical boards and 43% of black law students being unable to graduate and pass the bar within three years. We find similar results in other areas, e.g., teacher competency exams. A lot of resources have been wasted and persons harmed because of dishonesty about race. This is shameful.

***
The Constructivist
RACIALIZATION MATTERS
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
4/26/06


“Africans are naturally fitted for slavery.” “American Indians are destined for extinction.” “Democracy works only for Anglo-Saxons.” “Immigration by inferior European races to the United States must be stopped.” “Aryans are a master race who deserve to rule the world.” If these claims strike you as ridiculous or troubling, you may be surprised to discover that they were not the ravings of crackpots but were endorsed by the leading racial scientists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

If so, you’ll probably be shocked to find that the global history of race thinking is both long (spanning the past three to eight centuries, depending on how you define it), and, for much of that time, illustrious (it lost its stranglehold on public opinion in the West only relatively recently). Scholars such as Lee Baker, Elazar Barkan, Thomas Gossett, Ivan Hannaford, Audrey Smedley, and Nancy Stepan have produced intellectual histories that reveal a shift from theological and civilizational justifications of race thinking to scientific ones in the eighteenth century and after. In fact, key scientific disciplines—anthropology, biology, medicine, psychology, sociology—began as racial sciences. While their faults have been ably dissected by Ruth Benedict, Julian Huxley, and Ashley Montagu in the World War II era and Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Kevles, and R.C. Lewontin over the past few decades, these racial sciences shaped Western conventional wisdom for much of the preceding two centuries.

Since the 1980s, scholarship on the social fabrication of race (Ian Haney L√≥pez), the politics of racial formation (Michael Omi and Howard Winant), and the racialization of human differences (Mahmood Mamdani) has evolved from these histories and critiques of race thinking. Today, explorations abound of scientific, legal, literary, media, aesthetic, and popular constructions of race; of interrelationships between gender, class, national, ethnic, and racial formations; and, for their engagements with ideologies and narratives of race, of just about everything from naturalist novels to world’s fairs, from museums to minstrel shows, from the frontier to the suburbs, from immigration and naturalization law to media representations of Los Angeles and New Orleans. These explorations have amassed an overwhelming amount of evidence that races are social fictions, not biological facts. Consider that pre-WWII racial scientists could never quite agree on the number of races they were supposedly “finding” in nature—arguments ranged from a handful to dozens to hundreds, depending on which rules of classification were selected. Consider that in any of these schemas, there is more genetic variability within any “race” than between any two “races.” Consider that laws defining “white,” “black,” and “Indian” varied from state to state in the U.S., diverge even more widely from nation to nation, and have changed radically over time.

In the wake of the Human Genome Project and other revolutions in our understanding of human genetics over the past decade, some see another opportunity to establish the reality of races. But cutting-edge genetics does little to support the reliability, validity, and referentiality of race. Population geneticists can trace certain markers to produce what one book in this growing field has called The History and Geography of Human Genes. But all such studies do is track the various migrations out of Africa and around the world by various human populations. You can “find” as many “races” as you want, depending on what kind of computer analysis you perform. Similarly, people who pay for genetic analyses will most likely get a much more vivid picture of the movements and mixtures in their family trees than they ever expected. In the realm of individual development, geneticists are finding that one’s DNA is not a fixed blueprint but that environmental influences play a huge factor in determining which genes get switched on and off when. And at the level of social policy, profiling by phenotype and publicizing individuals’ genotypes raise troubling privacy, equal protection, and due process issues.

The idea that “race determines” intelligence, character, values, and potential is as flawed and dangerous now as it’s ever been. Attempts to map pre-WWII social fictions onto the latest findings in genetics are doomed to fail. There is no good reason to characterize human genetic differences as “racial” or to posit “race” as a cause or explanation of social phenomena.

If you’re still not convinced, try the following experiment: alternate reading a chapter from The Bell Curve and a chapter from Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society until you have finished both books. Then report back here which you find more persuasive and why.

UPDATE: The debate continues.

116 comments:

The Constructivist said...

It's worth comparing our debate, O, to what you can find over at Gene Expression, Pharyngula, Alas (a Blog), Inside Higher Ed, and my own Introduction to Ethnicity/Race.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Constructivist:

I liked your argument. However, I'm curious as to how you explain the twin studies and the fact that children of poor and less educated white families get higher SAT scores than richer and better educated black families.

In addition, I suspect that you don't deny that the disparity in sprinters has a genetic explanation.

What say you?

The Objectivist said...

Dear Constructivist:

Congratulations are certainly in order for your new daughter. You indeed have a wonderful family.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Constructivist:

Now, back to business. The Associate Dean / Director of Academic Advising, Vivian Garcia criticized my column on the grounds that it will likely hinder the young students and faculty's sense of inclusion in the academic setting and their self-image (I'm guessing as a full and equal participant, although I'm guessing).

Ms. Conover doesn't distinguish between whether my claims in the column are true or whether that's irrelevant because they're so damaging that they shouldn't be made in such a public manner.

My view is that faculty and students are adults, who are fully capable of considering different arguments and deciding what to believe rather than children who must be screened off from certain ideas and arguments.

I'm interested in your take on this issue.

The Constructivist said...

O, I agree with you that genetics matters, but I'm such a "splitter" on the question of grouping people by genetic similarities that the only ones I think have indubitable status are those based on physical inheritance.

Sports results are hard to interpret once you get beyond running a short distance in a straight line or running for a very long distance. And even then it's an open question whether some folks with great speed or endurance are simply not participating in thse sports for any number of reasons. If Asian golfers continue to do well on the LPGA (I would have said "Koreans" but the recent introduction of a world ranking system in women's golf has made the women on the Japanese LPGA Tour, mostly Japanese, rank higher than perhaps they deserve), will you want to argue that there's a genetic component to golf success? A

In a broader sense, are you using "speed" as an analogy for "intelligence," or are there peer reviewed studies that track genetic bases of intelligence that you can point us toward?

On the SAT, your example suggests there's more to test bias than the usual correlations between SAT scores and class/parental education levels that many have identified. The test gap could just as well support my notion that there are subtle ways the SAT is racialized to be pro-white as yours that it's evidence of genetic differences.

The larger problem with "black-white" comparisons is that they're based on self-identification. By your own logic, you'd need to do genetic testing on a wide range of the world population to first accurately "sort" people into their "actual" races before giving SAT or IQ or other "innate ability" tests (in scare quotes b/c I doubt that's what they really measure). I don't know of any studies that actually try to do this; do you?

What do twin studies show? That you can't discount genetic explanations entirely. What don't they show? That environmental factors don't matter. What do you mean when you argue that Herrnstein/Murray have put forward convincing evidence that a "substantial part of these differences is due to genetics"?

The Constructivist said...

O, obviously by taking the time to debate you publicly, I've made my position clear on the question of whether it's worthwhile to rebut your arguments in print or on the web. I not only assume my students and colleagues can make up their own minds but also that anything you say about some of them is not nearly as painful as what most of them have had to deal with while living in this state, nation, and world.

Care to address Vivian's question about your motivations? Moreover, what social policies in your view would your arguments support? Would you disavow, say, reinstituting slavery? Separate and unequal schools? On what grounds?

The Constructivist said...

O, thanks for the congrats on my secon daughter's birth. Here's an essay on the history of racial formation of Asian Americans for you to chew on.

The Constructivist said...

O, I put this link on my course web site, but you and I ought to be responding to arguments on the Is Race Real? website....

Also, what do you think of Steve Sailer?

TangoMan said...

Gentleman,

First off, congratulations on hosting such an interesting debate. I enjoyed your back and forth and feel that you both raised excellent points in support of the positions you were advancing/defending. For those of us who have been in this debate for a while it is interesting to note how the position of those on defense has changed - when The Bell Curve was published so long ago, it was the constructivists who were on the offense and asked the pointed questions of the nature camp. Today, having learned the lessons of the past, it is the genetics camp that is coming forth with harder data and asking the social constructivists to fit it into their models. I bring up this little walk down memory lane because I think that both sides can make a positive case for their positions but that the refutations that are mounted often miss the mark. Genetics has little to say to the issue of how we perceive racial identity within our society. Sociology and philosophy has little to say about the differences in genetic structure and how these differences overlap with racial groups and the real world implications that follow from these differences. A decade ago the opponents of The Bell Curve raised some valid criticisms but also missed the mark. The experience of that inquisition taught the genetics camp to be much more thorough in how they presented future cases, which leads us to the difficulty that social constructivists have of arguing against haplotype differences.

Of course, the explosive aspect to this whole debate is the intelligence-behavior angle, and not so much the medical or physiological differences we see. When The Bell Curve was written the authors relied primarily on social science data to infer that there was some mysterious genetic black box at work. Now we can actually point to allelic frequency distribution for all sorts of genes that are associated with cognition and thus it has become more difficult to simply throw up the rebuttal of unmeasurable social factors being the root cause of social disparity. For instance, Bruce Lahn's work on Microcephalin and ASPM. I've linked to maps which show the allelic distribution across a range of populations. Both genes control for brain size, and brain size is indeed correlated with intelligence. It used to be thought, and this is what S.J. Gould based his entire line of rebuttal on, that there simply wasn't enough time for any substantive evolution to occur since the Out-Of-Africa migration some 60,000 years ago. The problem with walking out on that plank is that it is easy to pull it out from underneath Gould. Microcephalin arose about 37,000 years ago, which is coincident with the rise of agriculture. Coincidence or causation? Who knows? What is interesting is that the Sahara desert was a severe impediment to gene flow and thus we see a far lower frequency of this allele in Sub-Saharan populations. ASPM arose about 5,800 years ago by which time the Bering Straight Land bridge had already closed, so just as with the Sub-Saharan populations, the New World populations were cut off from gene flow. Or consider the case of the COMT Met158 allele:

"these observations suggest that some genetic variants that influence g will vary between populations rather than within populations. For instance, certain Asian populations have a frequency of 0.60 in COMT Met158 allele, which predicts lower COMT-enzyme activity and thereby better cognitive performance, while Caucasians have a frequency of 0.42 for the same allele."

Now if this granular level of detail was available at the time of The Bell Curve controversy, the debate would have been much more interesting. However, if the goal of this debate is a winner take all outcome, then the battle on how to define race will never end. What I've observed over the years is that all heriditarianists fully concede that genetics only plays a part in outcomes and that environment does have either minor or significant effect, depending on the details of the debate. For acknowledging that environment contributes, let's say, 50%, they are labeled biologic determinists. Yet, their opponents who argue that biology doesn't matter at all are viewed as the moderates. I ask you, which side is taking the extreme position?

The objectivist makes note of the genetic similarity argument in his essay. This references the line of reasoning advanced by Lewontin who noted that 85% of genetic varation occurs within racial groups and only 15% between racial groups, therefore any claim to base racial divisions on the basis of genetic differences falls short of being convincing. As you can imagine, this reasoning had a lot of attraction for social constructivists and it was widely promulgated. This line of reasoning has since come to be known as Lewontin's Fallacy, for it only looked at total variation, not the correlation structure of the genome, and it is within the correlation structure of the genome in which we find the racial groupings. Races aren't defined on single traits. Recall that Jared Diamond tried to argue that they were and came up with the ludicrous example of the "lactose intolerant race" that grouped people together based on their similarity on one loci. So we'd see East Asians and many Africans being the lactose intolerant race, and many Europeans and African herdsmen being the lactose tolerant race. This was quite embarrassing to read, considering that earlier in his career Diamond published on the need to study the ethnic differences in testis size. The cynical amongst us feel that Diamond sold out to the PC message machine. The point is that racial traits are grouped together and this is where Lewontin's analysis crumbles to dust. You don't see a native Swede giving birth to a Black baby with straight blond hair, blue eyes, european facial features, etc. Objectivist also brought up similarity to chimps - what would constructivists make of the fact that a male human has more genetic similarity to a male chimp than he does to a female human? By Lewontin's logic, the genetic similarity would mean that male humans are more like male chimps than they are human females. It's not the similarity that counts, it the correlation structure, and the correlation structure between human males and females is far, far closer than the sexual similarity between human and chimp.

In constructivist's essay he brings up some of the evils and misconceptions from the past that swirled around race. I'd ask how convincing people would find an argument against modern medicine if I invoked past instances of thinking cures for illnesses could be developed by purposely bleeding the patient, or feeding them goat testicles, or what have you. Perhaps pointing out that tarring the stump of a limb as a means of causterizing a wound was once considered state of the art practice. I could go on with this line of reasoning by looking to medical errors from the 20th Century. Would anyone be swayed by the past misdeeds or misconceptions to write out modern medicine? I certainly wouldn't. Often the invokation of past misdeeds concerning race are justified in order to show that any science that tries to address the subject is veering very closely to moral bankruptcy because such science has too often been used for evil purposes in the past. If this is the tack that critics want to take then they need to confront mirrored arguments which attack the social welfare state and the practice of social sciences because of their common root to the atrocities of Communism and the gulags. Yes, bad stuff happened in the past, but that doesn't imply that it has to in the future.

There are some areas on this topic that I think are very fruitful for philosophical dialogue and social science examination that don't require a reliance on genetic information. The first issue centers on what looks to me to be a conflation of "is meaning ought" that seems to worry social constructivists a lot. The way I read it they fear that if the public comes to accept what we're seeing in genetic journals then our whole conception of civil rights and social interactions will falter. Why though should is imply ought. Do social constructivists really need to justify their claim to fair treatment and innate civil rights on genetic similarities? Don't these ideas and values transcend genetic differences? Does the world come to an end, or does a just society become impossible, if we recognize that human evolution has been on-going since the out-of-africa migrations and that evolution didn't stop at the human neck?

Another issue, which I've recently been debating on a conservative blog, is how institutional racism is hindering the performance of many of our Black and Hispanic citizens. I however take the flip side and paint egalitarian measures to be racist in effect, though certainly not in design. We know that many troubled students, be they black, white hispanic or asian, can meet the bare minimum HS graduation requirements if they are given enough time on task. The content being taught isn't so sophisticated that these troubled students can't master it. They certainly can, it's just that they need more time to cross the same threshold as their moderate and advanced peers. When these troubled students are treated as uniform cogs in an educational machine they falter for they do not master the lessons in the apportioned amount of time. We know from reproducable experiments that if these students are taught at a slower pace, meaning the school day is 2 hours longer, they attend classes on Saturdays, and they attend for an additional month per year, that they can master the content and proceed on towards HS graduation. So why aren't we giving these students more time on task? Obviously the problem is that there are disproportionate numbers of Black and Hispanic students who are having difficulty in school and to give them more time on task means that we are in effect creating a separate educational track for even though the more time on task track is parsed by achievement, there is significant overlap with race. It would appear to be racist to implement such a policy even though the results would be beneficial. Far better to maintain a pleasant fiction and let the poor achievers suffer.

The whole upshot to the race debate is that many people engage in the debate as a means of partaking in a very inexpensive form of conspicuous consumption. It is quite easy to proclaim one's anti-racism bona fides so that one's peers can witness the enlightened state one has attained when the cost of doing so is next to nothing and the expenses of the policies one advocates are borne by the disadvantaged. Talk is cheap so lot's of people engage in such posturing. Who is willing to step forward and advocate that a more "time on task" system be developed to help the underachievers when they are likely to be called racists for their troubles and when they are likely to suffer the full consequences of speaking out and receive none of the benefits?

It's interesting that the Objectivist makes mention of the displeasure shown by an administrator. One of my co-bloggers recounts the story of a journal editor who was very eager to publish his groundbreaking paper on Ashkenazi Intelligence and the threat from a school administrator to shut down the journal if they published that paper. Of course the journal passed but the good news is that a journal edited at Cambridge took on the paper and it received much favorable press from the NYT, the Economist, etc. ISTM that administrators have really lost their way on what the role of a university is about and have become too enamored of cultural sensitivity and diversity at all cost.

Lastly, the debate in your comments section shifted to twin studies. I would suggest also looking at transracial adoption studies. I reviewed one where Korean children were randomly assigned to American families and what the researchers found was that there was a significant correlation between the family income and the income of their natural born children but no relationship whatsoever to the income that the Korean adoptees earned. No relationship at all despite being raised almost their entire life in the same household as the natural born children. Yet, the Korean children were all earning income above the US mean, and in line with the Korean American mean. Keep in mind that some of these children were adopted into blue collar homes, while others were adopted by white collar professionals, and the family SES didn't have any influence on future earnings. Now keep in mind that those of us who advocate a role for genetics in these types of discussions are tagged as genetic determinists. Ha!

Sorry about the length of this data dump but I'm very glad to see the topic being debated in a forum other than that dealing with genetics. If you'd like any documentation on the claims I've made above, please let me know and I'd be happy to oblige. I'd also be most interested in your thoughts on the "is - ought" question and the institutional racism dilemma.

TangoMan said...

Care to address Vivian's question about your motivations?

Surely this administrator didn't broach the subject of motivation? Are we really in the world of "thought police" now? I also find it interesting that she didn't address the truth value of the proposition but simply focused on feelings and correct thought. She would do well to refresh her knowledge of the trials of Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno.

my students and colleagues can make up their own minds but also that anything you say about some of them

Excuse me for being unfamiliar with the initimacy of your ongoing dialogue but I'm operating under the impression that this debate was focused on group level phenomona and not directed at specific individuals that are of common acquaintance to the both of you. If you really are speaking to individuals then I must bow out for it would be fallacious to employ group level data to infer meaning about a particular member of that group. Just because we know that the mean IQ of Blacks is 86 doesn't mean that my Black colleague doesn't have an IQ of 140. All I can infer from the data would be that my colleague has fewer Black peers with the same IQ as a Asian colleague would have Asian peers.

Darth Quixote said...

Excellent comment, TangoMan.

I want to elaborate on what was said about correlational structure. Suppose that at Locus 1, Population A shows a frequency of 0.60 for the + allele and Population B shows a frequency of 0.40. How well are you going to assign members of these populations to their correct places based on just Locus 1? Not well at all. If you guess "A" for every person with a + at Locus 1, you will often be wrong. In fact, based on your sloppy performance, you might begin to suspect that these "populations," as we are calling them, don't have any ontological reality at all. But now suppose you have Locus 2, where the respective frequencies of the + allele in the two populations are, as before, 0.60 and 0.40. (Population A has a higher frequency of the + allele at both loci). You're going to do slightly better, aren't you? If you come across someone with the + allele at both loci, it is now more than marginally more probable that he comes from Population A rather than B.

Extend this line of reasoning to, say, 150 loci. Now you will just about never make a mistake assigning people to their correct populations. Imagine that the loci govern height, with the + alleles enhancing it and the - minus alleles depressing it. The two populations can have height distributions that are completely disjoint, that is, not overlapping at all. Which we can find in real human populations, by the way; take the Pygmies and the Sudanese.

Give geneticists enough markers, neutral or otherwise, and they can tell you which continent a person's ancestors come from (Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, the New World) with virtually perfect accuracy. But how many "races" or "populations" are there? A meaningless question. How many colors are there? How many families exist in the world? The important point is that, just as the psychological spectrum is not a homogenous smear of white light, the worldwide population of Homo sapiens is not a homogenous unstructured panmixia. And these continent-level clusters plainly show average differences in characters of tremendous functional consequence: skin color, disease resistance, athletic ability, and so on. (By the way, there is now a massive body of evidence that the superiority of West African athletes has a physiological and genetic basis. From a commonsensical perspective, how could this possibly be doubted? Kevin Garnett was able to snatch a quarter off the top of the backboard when he first came into the NBA. Where among all the unsupposedly hidden potential among East Asians can you find anyone who is even remotely capable of pulling that off? Look at the guys in the NBA, the NFL, the track. Look at big they are, how jacked, how explosive. Where among China's billions can you find anyone who is even close to these physical specimens? Anyway, for an excellent review and comprehensive list of references, see Jon Entine's book Taboo.) And the fact that these differences have arisen so quickly and recently shows that natural selection has been exerting enormous divergent pressures on the dispersed branches of the human family as they have conquered the globe over the last 50,000 years. Some of these pressures have undoubtedly fallen on a geographical gradient rather than in an all-or-nothing manner from meridian to meridian, but the differences across sufficiently separated parts of our range are no less important for that.

Natural selection operates ceaselessly; it cannot be stopped. The only question as to its differentiation of modern populations is the nature, direction, and magnitude of the differentiation. And, as is obvious, there is no magical line separating behavioral traits from physical ones. The hypothesis that different populations--defined at any reasonable level of granularity, from the continental level to ethnic groups within continents--will prove to have equivalent distributions of all genotypes affecting behavioral traits is so vastly improbable than we can reject it outright. To expect that is to expect that a flipped coin will land on its side.

So, what exactly are these genetically based differences? Well, it seems reasonable to suppose that observed phenotypic differences are good candidates. And that is what hereditarians do suppose. They are not dogmatic about it. Evidence may prove the supposition incorrect. But it is a place to start.

Speaking of adoption studies, I want to point you to the results of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study. Three groups of children--white, half-black, and black--were placed in white, upper-middle-class homes. These environments were well above average. This study was specifically conducted to test the hypothesis that blacks reared under such conditions would obtain IQ scores comparable to those of whites. The authors, at the time, were avowed anti-hereditarians with regard to the notrious white-black IQ gap. (One of the authors, driven by the data, later recanted. Well, I guess I've spoiled how this study turned out!) When tested at 17 years of age, the white adoptees showed an average IQ of 106, the half-black, half-white adoptees showed an average IQ of 99, and the black adoptees showed an average IQ of 89. Right at the averages for whites and blacks in Minnesota, with the biracial group in between. (The biological children of these high-IQ parents averaged the highest IQs themselves.) The authors first tried to explain away these results by claiming that time of adoption had influenced the later IQ scores. The trouble with this argument is that the evidence is decisively against any age-of-adoption on IQ. And how can this mechanism possibly deal with the above-average IQs obtained by Korean adoptees?

More generally, environmentalist suggestions (they do not really deserve the label "hypotheses") have so far proved wholly inadequate to deal with the entirety of evidence bearing on this issue, not just the outcome of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study. Why do East Asians have larger brains than whites, and why do whites in turn have larger brains than Africans? What to do with the fact that within a population brain volume is positively correlated with IQ? Why do East Asians obtain faster reaction times in elementary information-processing tasks than do whites, and why do whites in turn obtain faster times than blacks? Why is the rank order reversed for the times of the motor portions of these tasks? Why do blacks do relatively worse on recalling strings of digits in backward order (which, in the lingo, is more "g-loaded") than in forward order (which is less g-loaded)? Why do mental tests showing race differences fail to show any within-age-cohort external or internal indices of measurement bias? Why do the Ashkenazi Jews, perhaps the most despised and ill-treated minority in all of Europe, do better as a group than any other on IQ tests?

The moral and social dimension of this debate is also well worth discussing. Remember, to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, there are constructivists at 30,000 feet! We take the objectivity of physics and engineering for granted when we trust our lives to steel tubes rushing through the air at 500 mph. So it must be with the human sciences as we confront the onrush of genetic and neurobiological data that is overwhelming us even as I write this.

Perhaps the closest thing to an original insight that I can offer is this. The sad fact is that it feels good to condemn other people for their moral shortcomings. Righteous anger is an intoxicant. It's also cheap, has TangoMan points out, as it scores you points with those whose approval is meaningful to you and costs nothiig. I know this all to well, having succumbed to it far too many times. I think the best person can do when hearing arguments of the kind promoted by TangoMan and myself (and I know how you feel when you do; your face gets red and hot, the words start to blur, and without processing anything further you want to blurt in and shout the other guy down) is to make a deliberate effort to tone down these quick, red sensations and ask yourself: is what this person saying logical? is it verifiable? does he have an axe to grind? might there be a reason that this isn't the conventional wisdom?

Read the literature on this issue. It is presented at varying levels of accessibility. Go through our old posts at GNXP. We are reasonable people, and despite the short fuses and sharp tongues that flare up occasionally, you will see that we do mean well for all members of the human family.

I've just finished a book about human evolution called Before the Dawn by the New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade. In fact, I stayed up all night reading it; I felt like again, following the great adventure of humankind. I heartily recommend it here. And my hope is that when you finish the book, you will realize that this great adventure is not over yet. But recall that planes constructed from faulty physics will inevitably crash. And my fear is that the human endeavor, too, will fail and the greatness of the race pass away if we continue to rely on superstition, tribalism, self-soothing moralistic posturing, and ideological platitudes rather than on the truths and beauties of nature. There is no problem dividing us now that cannot feasibly be overcome by genetic engineering, mind-computer interface, or other developments that may well come upon us within the next century. Let us make sure that the promises and perils of this new era will not be denied us because of a resurgence of the Dark Ages of ignorance. Polices matter, and polices matter, and polices must be guided and constrained by facts, and the facts are as they are no matter what our current wishes. So, for the sake of all the suffering and hopeful hordes of humankind, let's get the facts right.

TangoMan said...

Correction: agriculture arose about 6,000 years ago, not 38,000 years ago. Sorry for all the grammatical errrors in my comments - I was stealing time and suffering from constant interuptions.

TangoMan said...

Oops, bad html for some of my links. Here again are the maps for Microcephalin and ASPM.

The Constructivist said...

TM, the only thing you need to apologize for is questioning the Fredonia administrator's actions (and motivations?). In her email, Vivian acknowledged that The Objectivist has the freedom to write what he did; her question was aimed at continuing a dicussion, not ending one. Administrators don't give up their freedom of speech when they move from faculty/staff to management-confidential status, either, you know? There's no need to start playing the victim on O's behalf. He's a big boy.

My 2-day-old daughter is coming home from the hospital today, and I'm stealing this time away from my still-sleeping older daughter to reply, so please don't apologize for something as understandable as sentence-level errors in your rich contributions to our discussion.

I have many things to respond to in what you and Darth Quixote have both brought to our attention, but it's worthwhile to note that unlike others who insist upon, say, the medical or pedagogical benefits of knowing individuals' genetic profiles, the only implication for social policy that The Objectivist cared to identify in his column has to do with access to educational opportunity. How else should we read his wasted resources line? Asking him to clarify his position and address his motivations seems perfectly reasonable to me, especially since he chose to base his sourcing on The Bell Curve rather than more recent work. Particularly if you are familiar with his earlier writings on this blog and elsewhere....

I don't see anyone denying that "race" has been tied to quite dangerous state actions and civic movements in the past. And we're not talking the distant past, here. Read Mahmood Mamdani's analysis of the Rwandan genocide if you don't believe that racialization matters. In it, Mamdani shows how belief in Tutsis' "alien" otherness--the way they went from a privileged ethnic group to a threatening (Caucasian) racial group in the imaginations of everyday Hutus--was a key factor in facilitating the genocide (cf. When Victims Become Killers).

Frankly, geneticists who insist upon using a language of "race" to describe human genetic differences and to map human population migrations ought to get used to explaining how their "racial science" is different and better than the 19th C justifications of slavery and the 20th C justifications of genocide. They shouldn't feign surprise that the horrible consequences of racialization leads people today to suggest that their ideas deserve the strictest scrutiny. They ought to get good at clarifying not only the scientific grounds of their research but also what they see as legitimate policy implications of it.


I invited the Gene Expression folks to contribute some comments b/c I believe they pose questions and areas of exploration that deserve close attention. I appreciate TM's and DQ's taking the time to contribute here and apologize in advance for my slowness in responding more substantively to all your points.

Anonymous said...

gc here from gnxp...

some quick points:

Persons have different genetic patterns and these patterns cluster around four or five groups (theorists differ here).

More precisely, the clustering is actually hierarchical. That is, in the same way you can break up a family into groups depending at which point in the family tree you break things up, you can break up the human family into groups depending on which point you choose.

Of course, some breakpoints are more natural than others: http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/tibshirani00estimating.html

For lots of data on this question (w/ links that I don't want to reproduce here), see:

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001321.html

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002366.html

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001948.html

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001871.html

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002530.htm

TangoMan said...

Constructivist,

Frankly I'm surprised that you could even squeak out a few minutes to respond considering your family is welcoming a new member today. Congratulations.

With respect to the Administrator's actions I plead ignorance to the details and was basing my reaction on other instances of administrators becoming involved in such topics, and I was criticizing, just from the past 12 months, typical administration reaction which led to suspension, disciplinary hearings, labs being taken over, supervision of the senior faculty member, and peer reviewed articles being pulled. In none of the cases was there any examination of the truth value of the offending speech, research or writing.

I don't see anyone denying that "race" has been tied to quite dangerous state actions and civic movements in the past. And we're not talking the distant past, here.

Absolutely, race is as dangerous a concept as are religion, nationalism, egalitarianism, cult of personality, personal ambition, etc. Evil can be done at the alter of many ideas.

Frankly, geneticists who insist upon using a language of "race" to describe human genetic differences and to map human population migrations ought to get used to explaining how their "racial science" is different and better than the 19th C justifications of slavery and the 20th C justifications of genocide.

Actually, the burden of guilt that some would like to place on this topic is no more appropriate than my castigating Democrats to justify their calls for state funded daycare, universal health-care, and other socialist inspired visions to carry the guilt of the crimes committed in the name of political ideology such as communism, or the devastation wrought by bad social science which assumes that man is infinitely malleable. If we are to compare body counts wracked up by the blank slate and by race, then hands down the worst killer of mankind is the blank slate, probably followed by religion, and then race. Are you prepared to abandon social science and the social welfare state and compell people to become athiests so that future crimes will not be committed in the name of these ideas because there is a likelihood that past action predicts future action?

Just as we proceed to examine blank slate initiatives on their own merits the same process should be afforded to issues dealing with race. Speaking personally, my preference for public policy analysis, is that we should most accurately model reality when considering policy visions. Consider the following situation: there is a problem X that we would like to address. It is hypothesized that X is caused by A and B and C and D and E. Let's say E has something to do with race, therefore it is completely off of the table. Depending on the weight we assign to E, problem X may never be solved to our satisfaction, but countless resources and hopes will be expended on addressing the environmental factors A, B, C, and D. With no satisfactory solution arising, despite honest effort, people then start to assign the remaining variance to unmeasurable factors. Most economists would say that the resources that are deployed to A, B, C, and D are misapplied because the significance of each has been increased by removing factor E from the equation. This is simply pouring money down the drain, not to mention purposely handicapping the solution to problem X - we'll never solve the problem if one of the pertinent factors is never addressed. Look at what happened with communism - it was hypothesized that political ideology could supplant human behavior. People would show up for work and get paid the same regardless of their ability or competence. The drunk at the workstation next to yours got paid the same as you despite the fact that your output was 200% greater. This system certainly curtails your ability to work hard and the result is that there is a race to the bottom in terms of productivity because you'll work no harder than the minimum required of you for your reward is not commensurate with your effort. The communist bosses who didn't account for human nature and only looked at political ideology and thought that the world could be modeled on "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" were stymied by the problem of falling production levels. Why didn't the world work the way they had modeled it? How come their policies were failing?

To make this more relevent to our society, consider No Child Left Behind. The long term goal is to equalize academic outcomes and there are to be severe penalties for failure to achieve the desired result. There are even 5 year plans in place. The symbolism here is near perfect. The goal of the legislation has never been acheived anywhere in the world, so on what basis can we justify the whole enterprise? What is likely to be the outcome? For this answer, we need only look at the Soviet Union's responses to failed 5 year plans. There we saw that the books were cooked, statistics were massaged, and there was widespread fraud. Here in the US, we're already seeing massaging of the data which is accomplished by state education officials lowering the proficiency thresholds so that a greater proportion of students can cross over the threshold. We're seeing some teachers resort to outright fraud by helping their students cheat. We're also seeing certain groups of students being excluded from the official statistics. Now why is this happening? Is it because there is a racist conspiracy afoot? Not likely. Is it because we don't know why reality is stubbornly unwilling to bend to the way we would like the world to be? Quite likely. Is it because we don't know how to actually achieve the goals. Absolutely. Is it because we know how to achieve the goals but there isn't enough funding provided, or enough trained personnel, or enough supplementary social support, etc. Not likely, because these last factors are the factors A, B, C, D, . . . that I modeled above, and I can link you up to studies which show how small the effects of increased funding, better school environments, better neighborhoods, higher parental income, etc really are. Each time we knock out a variable that we hypothesized was powerful the remaining variables increase in their significance. Knock out another marginal variable and the remaining variables becomes evermore significant. NCLB will not achieve it's goals and there is a lot of societal resource waste taking place in pursuit of an impossible outcome. Far better to accurately model reality and then proceed from that point to actually achieve desired improvements. As I noted in my earlier comment, we know that increasing "time on task" actually works to develop content proficiency. It doesn't completely close the achievement gap, but it puts a bigger dent in it than funding programs like Head Start or implementing laws like affirmative action.

Darth Quixote said...

Congratulations to the new member of the Constructivist family.

Good comment, TangoMan. Naturally, I agree that smearing a scientific position with past misdeeds is a non sequitur. In any case, the posited association here is dubious. It makes for the kind of good story that lefty humanities and social science types are so fond of, but the truth is that the views of 19th-century anthropologists have as much bearing on the shape and direction of current genetic and individual-difference research as do the notions of ether and phlogiston on string theory and cosmology. Your examples of the real-world harms that follow from idealism unmoored to reality are also quite illustrative.

I think Objectivist's beef about the distribution of educational resources is quite legitimate, and not only for practical reasons. I actually agree that only practical reasons should count, but for the sake of human interest I'll put a "social justice" spin on this issue. It is as plain as day that elite universities actively discriminate against East Asians. A friend of mine who worked for the Yale Admissions Office says that this is so, but I don't need to take his word for it; the statistics say it all. Just recently, I gave some advice on choosing a college to a friend's sister (an East Asian). One thing that struck me was, despite outstanding credentials, she had been wait-listed by Harvard and rejected by Yale, Brown, Duke, etc. All these institutions will admit many members of protected minorities with substantially worse academic records than my friend's sister and who will go on to perform much worse than she would have probabilistically. (And I do mean many. Back before Proposition 209, East Asians and blacks at UC Berkeley had just about completely disjoint distributions of SAT Math scores. I recently attended a graudation ceremony at Harvard Law School, and although blacks made up 10% of the class, not a single black student made cum laude, which is the top 40% of the class.) I do not find this acceptable. Simply put, affirmative action serves no legitimate academic purpose that justifies the gross penalty suffered by East Asians because of their (arbitrary for this social as opposed to scientific/medical purpose) group membership. The excuse paraded by proponents before the Supreme Court that a diverse student body promotes the educational experience of all students is a transparent fiction and one that even proponents do not believe themselves. (I know this because in the left-leaning days of my wasted youth I was as passionate a proponent of affirmative action as anyone.) Lefties support affirmative action because they believe it is an appropriate means of compensating victims of a gross and ongoing injustice, and we are kiddding ourselves if we maintain otherwise. But is it really appropriate if the compensation comes out of the hides of arbitrarily (for this social as opposed to scientific/medical purpose) grouped East Asians who are innocent of the harms supposedly perpetrated against the protected minorities? Is it appropriate if many of the parents of these East Asians themselves grew up amidst wretched Third World poverty? Is it appropriate if the hypothesis that observed group disparities are largely the fault of a particular group is highly questionable on theoretical and empirical grounds?

Constructivist, you challenge working geneticists to provide an explanation and justification for their work. GC is a professional geneticist. So, in reading his old GNXP posts that he has quasi-linked to here, you can get it straight from the horse's mouth.

Cheers, and good luck!

TangoMan said...

Simply put, affirmative action serves no legitimate academic purpose that justifies the gross penalty suffered by East Asians because of their (arbitrary for this social as opposed to scientific/medical purpose) group membership.

I recall a recent study which showed that if affirmative action was eliminated white students would largely be unaffected by the reform and that there would be a significant increase in East and South Asian enrollment.

Perhaps the Contructivist and the Objectivist could take on the debate of why we extend Affirmative Action to post-1965 voluntary immigrants. Personally, I could compromise and live with a time limited period where we extend preferences to those harmed by pre-1965 societal practices. I see no reason why 2/3 of Harvard's black students should be either immigrants, or children of immigrants, from Africa or the Caribbean. (Also see this post.) If I have to tolerate an unfair quota system, I want it to actually have some symbolic value. I want 100% of the Affirmative Action quota positions to go to the children of Blacks who suffered through pre-1965 levels of oppression. I don't want the quota to go to upper class blacks, recent voluntary immigrants, who can all compete on merit like the rest of society must. And speaking of recent voluntary immigrants, if the liberal vision of immigration reform grants amnesty to the 12 million illegals in our midst, those who are able to attend institutions of higher learning will qualify for quota positions at the expense of more able students. I see no sense of justice in granting preferential treatment to people who chose to immigrate to the US after the 1965 Immigration Reform Bill.

Further, I'm offended that the University of Chicago chooses to recruit Black students from foreign nations so as to meet "diversity targets" rather than filling those quota slots with Black American citizens.

As this post on The Bell Curve for Doctors demonstrates, competency matters, especially when lives are on the line.

The Constructivist said...

Once again, I appreciate the thoughtful comments and suggestions for further reading. Given my family situation and the fact that it's the end of the semester, let me pose a challenge similar to the one I posed to our newspaper readers: let's each recommend, say, 5 books that we think best encapsulate the arguments on our side, read them over the summer, and use responses to them to respond to each other. I'll check the web/blog links, too, but I believe in the power of print (why did an image of Cher singing come to my mind just then?).

Here are my 'racialization' picks:

1. Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers
2. Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color
3. George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (2nd ed.)
4. Wahneema Lubiano, ed., The House That Race Built
5. Michael Brown, et al., Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society

I'll open this up to all our readers: what books would you recommend on post-Human Genome Project race science and on racialization?

The Constructivist said...

Oh, TM, check out our very first debate on diversity and affirmative action in US higher education right on this site for proleptic responses to your latest post. As you can see from where we left off the comments there, we expected to pick it up again during this debate, so feel free to continue posting on it here or there.

The Constructivist said...

Important essay by Martha Hodes. Yup, imoto nene and onechan nemui.

TangoMan said...

I checked out your debate on diversity in higher education. Again, another wide ranging discussion. I think your formula here is far superior to the Swords Crossed implementation in that the two of you get into more substantive discussions. It could also be that I recognize that Objectivist would likely be banned by Trevino for some of his arguments so, by definition, your format is more intellectually honest and rigorous. A pleasure to read.

In that post you brought up the notion of affirmative action for boys. I'd oppose such an effort on principle. However, here is a complicating factor to throw into the mix - high school curricula and teacher practices have slowly been changing since the NCTM and NCTE reforms of the 80s and 90s. One of the results of the effort to close the "computational gate" by reforming how math is taught is that grading practices have changed and these changes have disproportionately benefitted female students. This is amply demonstrated by the lowered explained variance of HS GPA to predicting college success. This study looked at 81,72 entering students between 1996 and 1999 and found that the r^2 of GPA went from 0.170 to 0.119 between 1996 and 1999, while the r^2 of the SAT went from 0.138 to 0.133. SATs remained fairly stable and boys generally do better at high stakes testing than do girls, so the question that arises is why is the predictive validity of HS GPA falling and what is HS GPA measuring? Knowing this, should the relative ranking of HS GPA and SAT be identical for men and women? When HS grading practices start giving more weight to busy work, like homework completeness, correct spelling on math exams, partial credit for showing work even with incorrect answers, the grades don't as accurately reflect content mastery as does the SAT. As grades have come to incorporate higher weighting for busy work their predictive validity has fallen while SAT scores' validity has remained very stable. I think that this might very well be one of the reasons that the gender skew in admissions is occuring - higher grades are favoring women but they are meaning less and less to college success.

TangoMan said...

So I'm pretty well versed in the supposed social construction of race,

Darth raises a key point here. Most of the GNXP crew started out the same way - we're all familiar with the social constructivist positions on race and gender - we needed to pass through that literature and the analytic models on our journey to the scientific literature and studies. How could we not be considering we're all products of higher education? The cultural zeitgeist of our time is egalitarianism, anti-racism, and anti-sexism. Darth was enrolled in ethnic studies classes, and I, back in my day, was also quite immersed in feminist and anti-racist literature. I was an escort at family planning clinics protecting women from pro-life intimidation. We're chock full of bona-fides. Here's gc making the same point in comments to this post:

"I've tutored, I've taught, I've given hundreds of hours of my life to helping underprivileged people. I mean, I used to be a committed "anti-racist" in college (to the extent of haranguing my parents) before I learned about IQ and so on. It was really a horrible moment for me when I realized I'd been lied to about factor analysis. Being a mathematical guy, that was the final straw that made me suspect that Gould's writings were not accurate.

The thing is, though, that it's really much like religion. It seems that unless you dismiss the importance of IQ, you're considered a racist who hates black people. . . .

I was dragged to this position kicking and screaming by the evidence. I mean, *no one* is brought up today to be a "racist" in the circles I grew up in, particularly not children of apolitical nonwhite immigrants. All I ever heard from K-12 and the beginning of college was how evil racists were, and I *surely* didn't want to be part of that crowd. Nowadays I realize that the facile grouping of the KKK and the Bell Curve was invalid, but hey, when it's the accepted axiom in your social milieu it's what you go with.


Probably half of our blog readership voted for Kerry as did all of the principal bloggers of GNXP. We're pretty difficult to categorize politically.

The thing is science has a way of being very persuasive to those who are willing to look at the data and studies. I often note that the creationists of the Right don't want evolution taught at all, while the creationists on the Left want evolution taught but taught in such a manner as though it never applies to humans or has any consequence. Like I noted earlier, for the Left this position on evolution is a form of cheap conspicous consumption - support for evolution signals to peers that they are not superstitious bumpkins like the the religionists on the Right, in fact they're quite cosmopolitian, but ask them to internalize the lessons of evolution and they too will cling to their religious beliefs, the prinicple one being that evolution stopped at the neck. My point is that most of us were led to our current positions by the strength of the science. Where in high school or university is one going to get a chance to examine the data? No, that is the time of one's life that one is exposed to the righteous fight against the evils of the world - to rebel against the antiquated strictures of past generations and to think that one can make the world a better place. Now, we think that actually dealing with reality is the best way to make the world a better place.

The key turning point for me can likely be traced back to the ferocious protests against the Human Genome Diversity Project and how it was killed outright by anti-racist protestors. That's when I clearly saw that ideology shouldn't try to bury science and my flip was pretty much completed a few years later.

Darth Quixote said...

Actually, I know the perfect book. I can't believe that I didn't think of it before. Race, Intelligence, and Genetics by Frank Miele. It's an extended interview of Arthur Jensen, where most of the topics alluded to above are lucidly explained and summarized. Cavalli-Sforza's work on population substructure? Professor Jensen gives a masterfully clear exposition, and there are extremely helpful figures. Prof. Jensen also talks a little bit about his admiration for Gandhi, whom he calls his "number-one hero." Hardly what you would expect from the "fascist" that his enemies claim that he is.

The Constructivist said...

DQ and TM, thanks for the testimony and recommendations. Not having gone through similar experiences as you all, I'll have to 'replicate the experiment' and see what I think. Right now I am not convinced, but I appreciate your passion and sincerity. Once O gets back in town, I would love to see where he agrees and where he disagrees with you all.

BTW, I'll be headed to Japan next academic year, where they take links between blood type and personality very seriously (my wife is overjoyed that our second daughter shares her blood type!)--any recent serious stuff on that topic you know of?

One last question: have you read Jack Forbes's Africans and Native Americans: The Language of Race and the Evolution of Red-Black Peoples (2nd ed., 1993)? In it, he argues that African/Native mixing is responsible for most of the re-peopling of the Americas in the 16th through 19th centuries. He provides a lot of non-genetic evidence--wondering what population geneticists are finding on this question.

The Constructivist said...

To anyone getting this far who's wondering what Gene Expression is, this summary of a recent debate on the usefulness of the race concept is a good introduction to the issues.

Darth Quixote said...

Constructivist, thanks for listening. I take to heart something that GC said recently: GNXP is not about preaching to the choir.

As for your two questions, I doubt that either proposition is true. If they were, I feel that I would have heard of them by now. But I haven't, so I'm assuming that they aren't true. I suppose TangoMan or someone else can correct me if I'm wrong.

The Constructivist said...

Open question: which group would you rather associate yourselves with: VDare, Race Traitor, or something else entirely (please fill in the blank)?

Follow-up question: is the race v. racialization debate as polarized as these two organizations make it seem?

TangoMan said...

Something else entirely - scientists and analysts. What I find most interesting is the almost standard tactic from the "Left Playbook" of trying to slot the opponent on some moral spectrum, perhaps so that they can gauge the "worth" of the people who respond. I'm not clear if that is your intent but the similarity of process, via the question that you asked, seems quite striking. Let me ask you why you think data on this question is pertinent to the genetic and social reality? This is like asking a Professor who teaches Nabokov's Lolita whether they lust after young girls. Then, once we ascertain whether the Professor is indeed a pedophile, we can decide that there is no merit in reading Nabokov's novel. Frankly, I don't see the pertinence of asking about the professor's sexual proclivities for I'd rather judge Nabokov's work on its own merits. That said, I do realize that many people actually thought that Nabokov was a perv and that many English professors probably should think twice about assigning Lolita as required reading simply because it's safer to avoid giving people the opportunity to develop unwarranted suspicions about their sexual inclinations. Better simply to avoid the novel and the suspicion that it invariably raises.

What has happened to the classic liberals who took pride in shaping their ideas and perspectives via data and reason, rather than filtering life through group identity and PC sensitivity? I mourn the day that classic liberalism was replaced by modern Leftism.

Look, let the data and science guide you. The Right is already mooting these issues via the BioConservatives faction (granted it's a speck of movement compared to the other factions of the Right, such as Libertarianism, NeoConservatism, PaleoConservatism, etc) but where is the Left mooting the science of genetics and how it will change the calculus of politics? Nowhere that I can see. Is the Left's strategy simply going to be to default to denial and demonization? Is the Left going to emulate the Global Warming Deniers and the Intelligent Design Advocates as the science continues to get pushed into the public sphere? I mooted some of these issues in my post The Turning of The Tide.

Here's the dilemma that I see for the Left. There are a bunch of haters and nutjobs who are racists and their hatred isn't informed by genetics, pyschometrics, philosophy, sociology, etc. They're off dreaming about race wars, national partition and who knows what else. Let's speculate and say that all of these racists are also deep into environmentalism. Does that mean that all good Leftists should abandon environmentalism so as to avoid having anything in common with racist nutjobs? Alernatively, should people avoid environmental science because the Earth Liberation Front is out there spiking trees? More specifically, are Leftists prepared to become avowed creationists and turn their backs on evolution simply to avoid dealing with the consequences that result from humanity being a part of nature, being subject to evolution, all because racists exist?

Constructivist, :) , I've seen this script play out many times. Don't fall into the trap of trying to frame the opposition in terms of moral worth and then dismiss the data because some think that only racists or nazis hold those positions. Walk over to your biology department and have a chat with an evolutionary biologist, a computational geneticist, or track down a physical anthropologist. If they're prepared to speak candidly you may be surprised at what you hear. Look, you can frame the issue this way, are you prepared to condemn all Muslims because they share a faith with Islamic terrorists? Let your answer to that question be your guide. You can come to a position via reason and a dispassionate analysis of peer reviewed and published data and you can do so without a modicum of hate or bias in your heart or mind. Good people on the Left can be upholders of Enlightenment ideals or they can cling to superstitions. Each person can make their own choice.

Follow-up question: is the race v. racialization debate as polarized as these two organizations make it seem?

I really have no clue, for we rarely intersect with them. We've all got better ways to spend our time than to monitor what other groups are up to. What I can tell you is that Universities have fallen captive to PC pieties and there are severe consequences for intellectual heritics. That's where I see the polarization and now we're talking about people's reputations, careers, and sometimes physical safety, for there are Leftist versions of The Army of God (the anti-abortion vigilantes) out there who are up to no good and many of them have drunk deeply from the poisoned well of social constructivism. They've killed research projects and attacked researchers, using tactics similar to the Animal Liberation activists. That's where I see the polarization most clearly.

The Constructivist said...

TM and DQ, I find it funny that not only don't you not like my attempts to give you opportunities to distinguish yourselves from those most people would likely see as your historical antecedents and political allies (as evidence by yur recourse to crying "guilt by association") in the very same breath you also do the exact same thing to me (by linking me with "typical" liberal/left moves). The contexts in which I've seen this deflection strategy used (on Right Wing News and Right Wing Nut House, for instance) lead me to believe that its purpose is to negotiate for a truce, along the lines of 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours'--you know, 'I'll ignore the skeletons in your closet if you ignore mine.' What gives me hope that this discussion can eventually move beyond sparring and become more productive (once I have time to read the wealth of materials you've made available to O and I, for instance) is that you both seem committed to the 'pursuit of truth' model I defend against O in our intelligent design debate (but which he endorses in our current debate).

Believe me, I understand how frustrating the "guilt by association' argument is--look at how deconstruction has been "smeared" (to use your language) by those who point to Nietzsche's legacy, de Man's WWII collaboration, and Heidegger's accepting a rectorship from the Nazi regime as justification for dismissing the entire field or seeing it as necessarily endorsing fascism. Look at how folks like Tom Keenan (Fables of Responsibility, director of Human Rights Project at Bard) and Bill Spanos (America's Shadows) have responded to these charges: Keenan edited a collection of de Man's war time writings and has tried to link deconstruction, radical democracy, and human rights; Spanos has been a consistent anti-imperialist and anti-fascist in his research and activism.

The point is to do something that shows you are willing to take an intellectual legacy in directions supposedly incompatible with its purported origins. In our exchanges, you've given me some reasons to believe you're already doing this, which is why I invited you and not the VDare people to comment on my debate with O. Still, it would be nice to hear what you consider to be valid criteria for judging the legitimacy of inferences drawn from new research in human genetics.

Please reread my column again, particularly the last two paragraphs, where I turn to the present. You'll note I wasn't questioning the validity of new advances in human genetics. I was criticizing the tendency to continue using the language of racial determinism to draw social/political implications from population genetics. So please feel free to address my specific claims and not try to lump me in with "Left Creationists" or (here's a phrase for you to toss around in future debates) "New Inquisitors."

Keep in mind that the political situation is complex: the US Census Bureau, for instance, seems to have implicitly endorsed your 'racial realism' (while remaining woefully selective in the way it tracks ethnicity); many lead scientific and social science organizations have not moved to revisit the UN declaration of the scientific community's consensus on race and science; many people are excited by the possibilities opened up by the mapping of the human genome; many people believe in the reality of races.

The entire reason I invited various science bloggers to participate in this debate between O and I is to try to bridge the 'great divide' between scientists and humanists everyone wrings their hands over.

I am sorry to hear that people are afraid to speak their minds in academia for fear of the consequences; please do me the favor of not lumping me in with those who try to enforce such silence. But please don't take every attempt to disagree with you as an attempt to silence or dismiss you.

It's time to take the baby to the hospital, so I'll end by referring you to other 'racial realists'--critical race theorists like Derrick Bell whose "interest convergence theory" argues that whites only offer rights to others when it benefits them, and his respondents, for instance--and to note that Randall Kennedy has a great article from the Atlantic Monthly that I responded to here when I was a grad student like you all. Wondering what you think of other 'racial realists' and of my debate with one.

Darth Quixote said...

Constructivist, to answer your question directly, I don't know much about VDARE or Stormfront or Race Traitor or any of these organizations. I do read Steve Sailer, a VDARE columnist, but he is anything but a Klansman or a white nationalist. Otherwise I have no contact with these organizations or their literature. What I do know, I know secondhand, and I do not find it appetizing. How could I, as the son of nonwhite immigrants? How could I, when most of my friends are children of nonwhite immigrants? To be clear, I completely repudiate whatever doctrines of racial purity may be promulgated by these groups. As I hinted at in my first comment, I am a futurist who hopes that bio- and computer technology will bring about improvements in the human condition available to all peoples.

you both seem committed to the 'pursuit of truth' model

Yes. What most of our opponents fail to realize is that hereditarians stand ready to be convicted of error. Suppose that instead of categorizing whites and blacks as either/or, one or zero, we used a high density of genetic markers that distinguish those of recent European ancestry from those of recent African ancestry. That way "blacks," as we call them, would no longer be lumped together in this crude category with fuzzy boundaries, but rather ranked on a variable that is continuous between zero (all genome comes from recent African ancestry) to one (all genome comes from recent European ancestry). African Americans on average show a value of 0.17 on this variable based on a recent survey, but it is quite variable, with some showing close to zero and others north of 0.40. Suppose that we genotyped thousands of "blacks" in this way and also took IQ scores. Would percentage of European ancestry be correlated with IQ? Would IQ be better correlated with this variable than with (unreliable) external indices of African ancestry such as skin color and lip shape? Hereditarians enthusiastically recommend a study of this kind. And what if it comes back negative? What if percentage of European genes has no bearing on IQ? Well, I admit we probably would not immediately abandon our position. It is actually not a good idea to give up a theory that is well supported by other kinds of evidence on the basis of a single contrary result. But we would go back to the drawing board, and the end result may very well be the admission that genetics does not play much of a role in the black-white IQ gap.

A more decisive example. We GNXPers think it quite likely that the Jewish alleles that cause neurological diseases in homozygotes have an enhancing effect on IQ. Suppose we compared 400 Jewish sibling pairs where one is a carrier for one of these alleles and the other is not and find that the carriers show no tendency to have a higher IQ. We could consider the hypothesis with regard to that particular allele conclusively refuted.

Right there you see the difference between ourselves and groups like Stormfront. I have just conceded that evidence available in the future may change my opinion about a fact of nature. No one in the VDARE crowd, I imagine, would be moved by any conceivable item of evidence to change his opinion about a matter of public policy.

I was criticizing the tendency to continue using the language of racial determinism to draw social/political implications from population genetics.

The problem is that this is so vague that it can cover a multitude of sins. But I hope what I've said above answers what you would have said in clarification.

I guess it's worthwhile answering the question: "Why do you use that four-letter word 'race' instead of 'heirarchical population substructure' as does GC, Cavalli-Sforza, Tang, Rosenberg, etc.?" Well, it's just pragmatics. It's a useful word for conveying what we mean. The truth is that what a person on the street means by "race" is pretty much what I mean. A person on the street thinks two people are of the same race if they share certain physical features as a result of common ancestry/shared geographical origin. That is crude, but not badly off what academics mean when they say "heirarchical population substructure."

Lastly, I am quite familiar with the work of Randy Kennedy. Interesting that you wrote that letter. Of course, I have a hard time viewing Randy Kennedy as a potential GNXPer!

TangoMan said...

I find it funny that not only don't you not like my attempts to give you opportunities to distinguish yourselves from those most people would likely see as your historical antecedents and political allies (as evidence by yur recourse to crying "guilt by association") in the very same breath you also do the exact same thing to me (by linking me with "typical" liberal/left moves). The contexts in which I've seen this deflection strategy used (on Right Wing News and Right Wing Nut House, for instance) lead me to believe that its purpose is to negotiate for a truce

C, recall that earlier in comments I noted with displeasure the reference to an administrator questioning Objectivist's motives for engaging in this debate. What is it with the issue of motives? His motives are immaterial to the question at hand. I don't need any opportunity to distinguish myself from historical antecedents nor is there any need to negotiate a truce. This isn't like arguing about which speaker has the most accurate pronounciation when they speak French, nor are we trying to interpret the symbolism intended by the author of an acclaimed book. This is like firing a cannon and analyzing the trajectory of the shell. It doesn't matter if the cannon was fired for the purpose of killing the enemy or for initiating an avalanche so as to lessen the risk for skiers. All that matters is that the mathematics of the trajectory are accurate, that the metallury of the shell doesn't crumble under stress, and that the chemistry of the gunpowder is accurate enough to initiate an explosion upon impact.

As for doing the same thing to you, I beg to differ. I purposely noted that I wasn't sure of your intent, but I noticed the identical form of response being used. I purposely asked you why you think motivations of your interlocutors are important to the issue of your post. Note that I'm not questioning whether you have support for Stalin and Mao simply because of your support for the social construction of race for I think it immaterial whether you are a died in the wool Stalinist or Maoist, or simply someone who finds resonance about the social issues regarding race when they are placed within the historical context. Also note that in my original reply I wasn't staking out a zero sum game where one side wins at the expense of the other. I noted that there certainly are social aspects of race and how we perceive it and act upon it but that the social definition has oversttepped the boundaries in which it can offer informative insight, in other words, the social construction of race is not the Theory of Everything with regards to race. So, I'm not seeking a truce where I acknowledge the social aspects of race in exchange for your acknowleding the genetic basis. It's not necessary for neither invalidates the entirety of the other. However, genetics is pushing back against the ill-defined expansion of social constructionism into areas in which it is easily falsified and in this regard a truce is the last thing that I desire - there is no negotiated settlement on matters that can be scientifically falsified. Diplomacy has no room in the tent with science - diplomacy is best deployed where there are differences of opinion rather than fact. One can't negotiate away matters like allelic frequency distributions and yes, I'm aware from your own writing that you're not disputing this particular issue. What confounds me, not just about our dialogue, is where people think a truce should apply. If it's a matter of calling a truce on the question of motivations - yeah sure. If it's a matter of finding common ground on some subjectively interpreted points, again, sure, but if that's what is at issue then you are indeed a rare bird for I most often run into such language being used to vitiate the scientific issues because people are uncomfortable with giving them consideration.

What gives me hope that this discussion can eventually move beyond sparring and become more productive

Sparring is fun, for a while at least, in that we get to test out the boundaries, strengths and weaknesses, and we learn from it and it also shapes the direction and tone of the future dialogue. For instance, I note that many of your "jabs" are rooted in historical issues concerning race. This tells me that that topic is of obvious importance to you and that you've delved into the issue quite deeply. What I still need to figure out, by throwing some "jabs" in reponse, is why you think that the historical record has relevance to the distribution of the COMT Met158 allele? Are you "jabbing" to refute, or to distract, or to pull the sparring to a different terrain or are you more interested in a completely different sparring match taking place in an adjoining ring, where the sparring match is primarily focused on differences of interpretation regarding how we used to, and perhaps still do, perceive race in our daily lives? I'm not quite sure what the strategy is, but continued "jabs" and "feints" will likely demarcate the boundaries of where this debate is going. Perhaps you're trying to do the same with the issue of motivations, and you have a grand strategy in mind, to which I'm completely blind. Let it never be said that the process of sparring, in and of itself, can't be fun or worthwhile.

Still, it would be nice to hear what you consider to be valid criteria for judging the legitimacy of inferences drawn from new research in human genetics.

To tell you the honest truth, I'm too preoccupied with getting evolutionary principles into the game to really give much thought to how they will inform future political thought. Really. I kind of superficially touched on this in my post The Turning of the Tide in that I thought that there would be a meeting of the minds from the Left and the Right and a political realignment which bound the realists of both parties together and the creationists of both parties together. Then I speculated that the debate in the realist camp would focus on an axis of using society's resources efficiently versus using society's resources equitably. This might lead to state subsidized choice for parents with respect to genetic engineering or it might lead to increased assortive mating and the more well to do investing in the genetic endowment of their children just as they do with spending on tutors, summer camps, piano lessons, trips to Europe, etc and the less well to do not being able to afford enhancements. The debate on that side of the political spectrum would at least be bounded by reality. The debate on the creationist side would see the religious up in arms about Man's intrusion into the realm of the Lord, we'd see the race, gender and culture warriors trying to put the genie back in the bottle for their very existance and raison d'etre would be challenged if they couldn't point to a group that was oppressing them. To have to acknowledge that some of what they thought were the telltale signs of oppression were in fact due to evolution would remove from them the enemy that is the core of their existance, therefore better to work with their religionist allies to bottle up the technology and thus all on that side of the divide can maintain their beliefs in faith and ideology.

To more directly answer your question as to the issue of criteria for judging the legitimacy of inferences I think that one issue that is going to have to be developed within the fiber of our society is the fallacy of using group level data to infer understanding about individuals. This will likely lead to more heated battles on the profiling front, for group modeling will likely develop into becoming a powerful tool for group-level prediction, but the false positive scores for some individuals could be quite costly to them. As the predictive ability of modeling increases so too will the calls to relax the standards of applying probabilistic models to individuals - the argument will be that the gains from the accuracy will outweight the costs of the inaccuracy. It might be hard for "progressives" to argue against this for they've spent a generation developing the concepts and politics of group identity - their intellectual integrity on this issue would be shot. Perhaps the libertarians, with the emphasis on individual liberty and identity, would be the most potent force arrayed against group level modelling.

That said, I think we'll also need to see a lot more substantive debate on the issue of "is doesn't imply ought" and that concepts like civil liberties, equity before the law, equality of opportunity all have inherent worth that aren't contingent upon the false premise that all men are indeed created genetically equal.

Look, I'd be very happy to see folks on the Left grappling with this issue and thinking about how policies could be devised that are congruent with what we're coming to know. To give you an analogy - work on the artifical uterus is progressing and this is getting some of the pro-life people quite happy for they foresee the day when it will be possible to perform fetal extraction rather than fetal extinction and thus they could legitmately wipe out abortion law and demolish the foundations of the pro-choice movement's ideology. The pro-choice movement isn't expending any effort, that I'm aware of, to develop policy for this contingency. Without a policy arguing why women must be given the choice of extinguishing the fetus rather than simply having it extracted and transplanted into an artifical uterus it is likely that some women who wish to have an abortion will, just like the men of today, be faced with involuntary child support for 20 years for the extraction procedure will not create additional health risks to the woman, etc. What's pro-choice going to do? I have no clue. I do know that pro-life is starting to moot these ideas and that's good for them. So, on the issue of genetics and evolution, the Right is starting to moot these issues by noting that some policies which assume that human nature is malleable may need to be revised. They may advocate that health care can be delivered more effectively if parsed through an initial filter of race. They certainly want to look at how to revamp affirmative action and the whole discrimination assumption. They may choose to place greater emphasis on equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome because the former would be more in line with their ideological prinicples on liberty. What's the Left going to do? I really have no clue. Why don't you tell me! Ad arguendum assume my position that the science progresses rapidly - how can you use the new diagnostic toolsets to shape society in a fashion of your liking, and then later how can you use the emerging engineering toolsets to do the same? What's ideologically and politically important to you? My chief ideological goal is to uphold Enlightenment Values and to create a society that is capable of substantive dialogue on reality without fear of breaking taboos. My political agenda is to challenge group think and Political Correctness, which together are an affront to the joy I find in life - together they circumscribe my intellectual universe and I find that offensive in the extreme. So, quite frankly, my goal in this dialogue is not to advance some particular agenda regarding race, it is to simply make the dialogue commonplace because it's an intellectually worthwhile endeavor, in and of itself, and should not be suppressed for fear of offending the wilting flowers in our midst.

TangoMan said...

would no longer be lumped together in this crude category with fuzzy boundaries, but rather ranked on a variable that is continuous between zero (all genome comes from recent African ancestry) to one (all genome comes from recent European ancestry).

I'm not betraying any confidence here, because Charles Murray has since made this information public, but he proposed that two hereditarians and two anti-hereditarians colloborate on a genetic admixture study, just like the one that Darth is describing, and see how well intelligence was modeled along a racial gradient. Murray was confident that he could get the funding for such an expensive and ambitious undertaking but no institution or foundation would back it without the participation of respected anti-hereditarians for fear of being tarnished as funders of quack science. The two hereditarians were quite enthusiastic about the proposal but to date there has been no interest from those in the anti-hereditarian camp, and thus no admixture study to inform us.

The Constructivist said...

Peter Linebaugh on May Day and racial formation.

The Constructivist said...

Life is again getting in the way of continuing the conversation with TM and DQ, so instead of being creative I'll quote from an email by David Neiwert of Orcinus fame.

***

4/30/06

Bruce--

Thanks for the note. I thought it was a very, very interesting discussion--not by your opponent, whose argument I thought was pretty weak, but
moreso by the two contributing commenters, especially the second one. I'll be checking out their site, which I've been hearing about from other
sources.

My uncle was a Colorado U. geneticist and he was quite adamant about race
being primarily a social construct--he insisted that there was simply a
broad spectrum of human traits that were often clumped into races due to
geophysical separation and social forces. Of course, I'm open to new data
and good information, so I thought the commenters raised some interesting
points. I have no idea how accurate their characterization of the consensus
scientific view of the data actually is, though, and will be checking that
out.

From a strictly nonscientific point of view, much of the argument seems
to overlook what I think is central logical aspect of the problem: namely, the critical role played in long-term mental development in infants and children by pre-and postnatal nutrition, and the effect of pervasive poverty on that nutrition. When a race is isolated socially and subjected to multiple generations of pervasive poverty, then it should not surprise us when its IQ scores are lower. Nor should we expect this effect to vanish instantly when the race is finally given opportunities to escape this poverty.

There's also the whole problem with mistaking correlation with cause. This is what's wrong with facile statistical manipulations regarding, say, crime
rates and blacks: we cannot assume that the fact that there are more crimes
committed by blacks is caused by their being black. The more important
correlation with crime--one with a reasonably clear causal connection--is that with poverty.

So correlating blacks with crime, instead of observing the internal
correlations of both with poverty, lets us off the hook, because then we
don't have to answer the much harder question of why some races are so much
poorer than others--to which much of the evidence still points hard in the
direction of pervasive and lingering discrimination by whites, including
assumptions about young black males based on stereotypes encouraged by these kinds of arguments.

Likewise, assuming a race-IQ correlation overlooks, again, the pervasive effects of discrimination-caused multigenerational poverty on those IQs, and again lets us off the hook regarding questions of why these races have remained so poor. It also, of course, lets us evade the larger moral implications of the answers to those questions, instead brushing them away with an air of intellectualism and an easy dismissal of others' moral qualms.

I'm not convinced just yet. But I think the discussion is definitely
fascinating. Thanks for doing your part.

--Dave

***

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dave.

TangoMan said...

My uncle was a Colorado U. geneticist and he was quite adamant about race being primarily a social construct

I would guess that Dave's uncle made that comment when Lewontin's finding wasn't yet know as Lewontin's Fallacy.

much of the argument seems to overlook what I think is central logical aspect of the problem: namely, the critical role played in long-term mental development in infants and children by pre-and postnatal nutrition

We've written about the key role that lack of micronutrients plays in Africa's low IQ performance. The issue isn't being overlooked.

The more important correlation with crime--one with a reasonably clear causal connection--is that with poverty.

I partially agree with Dave's comment. However, we know that that causation vector flows from IQ to poverty. Leaving race out of the criminality question and you'd still have a powerful statistical analysis by examining the IQ - crime correlation.

Darth Quixote said...

My uncle was a Colorado U. geneticist and he was quite adamant about race being primarily a social construct

Dave's uncle was almost certainly referring to a famous result by the Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin. Essentially, Lewontin discovered that if you look at one locus you don't do very well assigning people to their "races." On this basis Lewontin declared that the folk concept of race had no biological underpinnings. The geneticist and statistician A.F.W. Edwards (I think I got the initials right) destroyed this argument in a paper called "Lewontin's Fallacy" that came out a few years ago. The reason why the argument fails is essentially because of the toy scenario I laid out at the beginning of my first comment. Yes, one locus is not informative, but the fact is that there are correlations across loci. Aggregate the loci, and the signal drowns out the noise. Search for "Lewontin's Fallacy" on GNXP and you will get an extremely helpful graphical illustration by GC.

I have no idea how accurate their characterization of the consensus
scientific view of the data actually is, though, and will be checking that
out.


The notion of a scientific consensus is pretty meaningless at the cutting edge of any science. The important thing to ask about any view that strikes you as extreme is something like, "Are these people completely crazy?" And I think the answer is decisively no. Read the consensus statement released by the National Academy of Sciences after the publication of Arthur Jensen's Bias in Mental Testing to the effect that IQ tests are indeed unbiased measures of the phenotypes of minority groups. Read the consensus statement released by the American Psychological Statement after the publication of The Bell Curve to the effect that the factual basis of that notorious book is in fact quite sound. (Of course, the APA took no position on Herrnstein and Murray's policy recommendations. And remember, H&M were quite candid about the is v. ought distinction and always alerted the reader when they began going beyond the facts and speculating.) For a more adverserial format, read the recent Psychology, Public Policy, and Law issue where Phil Rushton and Arthur Jensen summarize their view of racial differences in IQ, several commentators take a whack at them, and Rushton and Jensen respond. Is this debate between the covers of that issue completely one-sided in favor of the 100% environmentalists? You decide.

The question to ask of working geneticists, evolutionists, and biological anthropologists is, "Is it crazy to think that dispersed human populations have undergone divergent evolution to some extent over the last 50,000 years?" I am just about certain that your informant will say that it is not crazy. Assure your informant that he can be candid and ask some more sensitive questions. You will probably still get some kind of PC boilerplate. But maybe not. Try it and see.

the critical role played in long-term mental development in infants and children by pre-and postnatal nutrition, and the effect of pervasive poverty on that nutrition. When a race is isolated socially and subjected to multiple generations of pervasive poverty, then it should not surprise us when its IQ scores are lower. Nor should we expect this effect to vanish instantly when the race is finally given opportunities to escape this poverty.

I am virtually certain that malnutrition and exposure to diseases with a deleterious effect on physical and mental development will adversely affect IQ scores. The low IQ scores observed in much of the world today are no doubt attributable to these kinds of environmental factors to some extent. But I am dubious about the situation here in the US. When you compare white and black children of the same age, you almost always find that the black kids are taller. Yes, it may be the case blacks would be even taller in better environments, but still it must be the case that their environments are not so bad as to reverse the ranks of the two groups on height. What about IQ? Well, one study has found that East Asian children brought to US severely malnourished still manage to attain IQ scores at or above the white norm. See Prof. Jensen's The g Factor for a review of this topic.

The argument that poverty depresses IQ has a superficial plausibility. See a paper about adoption by Jensen (1997) to find out, however, that the environment in which a child is raised has little effect on the g factor ... but by the time you get to the point of appreciating that study you will have reached such a level of sophistication in this area that you will no longer need TangoMan or myself as a guide to this literature. Instead, you will be able to argue with us as peers, if you still wish to. But there is a layman's commensical way to consider this point about poverty. Whenever you find yourself tempted to blame poverty and such for observed group disparities in IQ, say to yourself, "Jews, Jews, Jews." The Ashkenazi Jews, even more so than East Asians, are truly an embarassment for any environmentalist account of observed group differences in IQ. When the Jews first came to this country, most of them (not all but most) suffered from tremendous poverty. You can look up the records in New York City Hall and find that the slums and ghettoes in the early twentieth century were inhabited just about completely by Roths, Rosenbergs, and so on. I am not familiar with the history of discrimination faced by Jews in this country, but I assume that there must have been some. After all, colleges did restrict their numbers much as they restrict the numbers of East Asians today. But why has this legacy of poverty and discrimination failed to prevent the Jews from showing the highest average IQ of any identifiable population and leaving a staggering contribution to Western civilization that continues even now? (The Isaac Singers, the Philip Roths, the Albert Einsteins, the Richard Feynmans, and so on far outweigh the Freuds, the Marxes ... well, maybe not. But you get the point.)

Actually, let us take this argument even further back. Because of my eccentric reading habits, I am actually somewhat familar with the persecution faced by the Ashkenazi Jews in medieval Europe. I think it is arguable that they had it even worse than Africans in the New World (putting aside the cruel and calamitous forced marches to the Ivory Coast and the Atlantic Passage). The Jews were expelled from one country after another. They were often forced to convert to Christianity on pain of death. Sometimes they were just killed anyway. Whenever the local Gentile peasants (and, later, unskilled urban workers) got fed up with their miserable living conditions and the oppression suffered at the hands of the local nobility, they would go on a rampage burning down the businesses and homes of the local Jews and murdering any that they could get their hands on. A riot of this kind would happen just about every year; larger-scale pogroms, the ones that live on in infamy in Jewish history, not so often but still no less often than once a century. And this went on for a whole millennium. And what effect has it had on the Jewish mean IQ? Have these centuries of bigotry and senseless violence depressed the Ashkenazi IQ to below the Gentile mean? Absolutely not. In fact, according to physicist-cum-evolutionary biologist (and my GNXP co-blogger) Greg Cochran, the invidious exclusion of the Jews from traditional occupations forced them into finance, trade, banking, and so on and exerted selection for increased IQ!

East Asians have not exactly been pampered or brought up with silver spoons in their mouths either. Remember the internment? But many of those Japanese Americans went on to become politicians, scientists, and so on. If you have any East Asian students, and especially if their parents arrived here before the immigration reform of 1980, ask them how their parents grew up back in their home countries. I suspect you will hear some heartrending stories of wretched Third World poverty and wartime tragedy. And what effect has any of this had on the average East Asian IQ?

These illustrations, at least at this level of detail, are by no means a rigorous argument about the effects of poverty on mental-ability phenotypes. For that you will have to turn to the literature that we have cited above. I offer them merely as an antidote, an intuition check, on the seemingly obvious notion that the rearing environment has a large effect on IQ. In fact, this notion is not obvious at all. It must be substantiated by empirical research. And, previewing the literature that we cite, the empirical results are not favorable tot his notion.

However, we know that that causation vector flows from IQ to poverty. Leaving race out of the criminality question and you'd still have a powerful statistical analysis by examining the IQ - crime correlation.

A British study found that sons with higher IQs than their fathers tend to rise in SES while sons with lower IQs tend to fall.

The correlation between IQ and SES of birth is about 0.40. The correlation between IQ and SES attained as a mature adult is about 0.70.

Even among siblings who grow up in the same family, the sibling with the higher IQ tends to spend more years in school and ultimately earn a higher income. Moreover, the sibling with the lower IQ is also more likely to end up with a criminal conviction.

All these facts strongly support causal arrows going from IQ to SES and to criminality.

As should be clear from what TangoMan and I have said above, we do not relish any of these facts. I personally look forward to the day when technological progress will have obliterated the centrality of the IQ nexus in these outcomes that some of us find so troubling.

Darth Quixote said...

One more thing. Constructivist, you are quite fortunate in that real life has taken you away from the computer. I wish something comparable were going in my own life! But I seem to have a lull the last few days.

David Neiwert said...

Hmmmmm.

I think my point that poverty most likely played a role in IQ when it became multigenerational was either evaded or missed.

While Ashkenazi Jews were indeed serially persecuted, they did not live in poverty wherever they went. Sometimes they were even relatively well to do, and their tightly knit communities were, by most accounts, fully nourished.

Likewise, the East Asian immigrants who came to America in the early 20th century, namely Japanese, mostly came from landed, middle-class families. (See my book Strawberry Days for more on this.)

None of these are comparable to the multigenerational impoverishment of American blacks, dating back to their arrival as slaves here. And if you think it's completely gone away, let me suggest that you gentlemen obtain a copy of James Loewen's Sundown Towns for a much more accurate portrait of just how pervasive, and how consistent, white-driven impoverishment of black people has been in the century, and how its effects linger.

TangoMan said...

None of these are comparable to the multigenerational impoverishment of American blacks

We can debate the issues of causes, which I'm fully prepared to do, but I sense that you might be more interested in remedies that would change the situation. I've already pointed out some remedies that I think would work to help those Blacks who are impoverished move out of poverty. First, I've pointed out how "time on task" is beneficial in education, and second I've already stated that I could support an affirmative action program that focused on the descendents of those who suffered through societal oppression. That means today we would make extraordinary effort to assist those Black and Native American citizens whose parents were here pre-1965. That would mean that voluntary immigrants, Black and Hispanic alike, do not qualify for quotas. By taking the resources and redirecting them to these goals we'd likely achieve a far higher degree of "uplift" success than we presently do.

I'll leave issues like decreasing single motherhood and other cultural ailments for others to address for those remedies seem too paternalistic to my taste - if adults make stupid choices in their lives then it's not really my place to tell them how to live life differently. They're not children, afterall.

I think my point that poverty most likely played a role in IQ when it became multigenerational was either evaded or missed.

I didn't overlook it - if you dig into the research you see that the causal arrow is far, far stronger for IQ ---> Poverty than it is for Poverty ---> IQ, therefore the multigenerational effect of poverty on the depression of IQ isn't the silver bullet. Even critics of The Bell Curve like Nobel Laureate James Heckman have come around to acknowledge this reality:

Minority deficits in cognitive and noncognitive skills emerge early and then widen. Unequal schooling, neighborhoods, and peers may account for this differential growth in skills, but the main story in the data is not about growth rates but rather about the size of early deficits. Hispanic children start with cognitive and noncognitive deficits similar to those of black children. They also grow up in similarly disadvantaged environments and are likely to attend schools of similar quality. Hispanics complete much less schooling than blacks. Nevertheless, the ability growth by years of schooling is much higher for Hispanics than for blacks. By the time they reach adulthood, Hispanics have significantly higher test scores than do blacks. Conditional on test scores, there is no evidence of an important Hispanic-white wage gap. Our analysis of the Hispanic data illuminates the traditional study of black-white differences and casts doubt on many conventional explanations of these differences since they do not apply to Hispanics, who also suffer from many of the same disadvantages. The failure of the Hispanic-white gap to widen with schooling or age casts doubt on the claim that poor schools and bad neighborhoods are the reasons for the slow growth rate of black test scores.

What's more pertinent to the issue of multigenerational effects is assortive mating, for we see that the heritability of g is varies between 0.5 and 0.8 with the heritability increasing with SES. Next, factor in brain size differences where MRI-based studies estimate a moderate correlation between brain size and intelligence of 0.40 to 0.51. Now, I grant you that studying assortive mating over a multigenerational timeframe poses some very difficult methodological problems that aren't present in studies which simply look at income levels of long dead ancestors.

So, environmental improvements can marginally improve matters with respect to IQ but as we clearly see with high SES Blacks this remedy is not the silver bullet. So, remedies are available to close part of the gap but they are the low hanging fruit that can easily be picked. As Blacks climb the SES ladder the remedies start to wither.

Darth Quixote said...

Mr. Neiwert,

I would dispute your implication that most Asian Americans are descended from a landed middle class. This is somewhat of a long and complicated story. (Perhaps told with greater nuance in your book? I know that Ronald Takaki's Strangers from a Different Shore, a standard textbook on Asian American history, does tell it.) And how does selective immigration explain why East Asians obtain higher IQ scores than whites not only in the U.S. but in Canada, South America, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China, South Korea, and Japan? (I've also been told that East Asians do quite well in Germany. I have seen no literature about this however.) And why do they obtain these scores regardless of whether they are raised by their biological parents or by white adoptive parents? Yes, some of these data points are questionable. The Chinese of Singapore are an elite intellectual and mercantile class. As are the Chinese of Hong Kong. And the mainland Chinese? Who knows, maybe the Communists are doing the Potemkin-village thing and giving Western researchers biased samples. (I doubt it but just throwing the possibility out there.) But the important thing in the human sciences is to consider the totality of evidence and the overarching theoretical connections to the biological sciences, not just to nitpick at aberrant or questionable results here and there. Has bias infected all these results, even in the few cases where there is no reason to suspect it, and moreover in the same direction? Have all measurements of East Asian cranial capacity (taken by Western researchers over many decades) been biased so as to either exceed Caucasian cranial capacities taken in the same study or to exceed it after correction for smaller East Asian body size? To think that is, in my view, to be a grossly prejudiced judge of evidence. There is little question that there is a signal here regarding a fact of nature.

But let us not pursue this any further. My illustrations were not meant to conclusively demonstrate that poverty has no effect on the biological substrate underlying the surface behaviors recorded by mental tests. That is a complicated issue that requires deep immersion in the relevant literature. (Which, between the points of TangoMan and myself, has been given plentiful signposts in this thread.) The point was to soften up your intuition to the point that you would be willing to take the received wisdom of a tremendous casual influence of SES on IQ for granted no longer and actually see for yourself whether such an influence has been demonstrated. (Perhaps the most complete and compact picture of this issue is given by the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study by Weinberg et al. 1992, the commentaries by Lynn, 1994 and Levin, 1994, the response by Weinberg et al., 1994, the discussion of this study in Jensen, 1998, the French adoption study by Capron and Duyme, 1989, 1996, and the follow-up by Jensen, 1997. But these are by no means exhaustive! Rather, the tip of an iceberg.) Have I succeeded in moving your intuition? Apparently not.

I will try another tactic: appeal to authorities. James Flynn (after whom the Flynn Effect is named) is a political scientist at some university in New Zealand (not to disparage his institution, I just don't remember its name right now), a former radical from his student days, and much respected within the community of researchers who study individual differences in mental abilities. He has long made known his opposition to genetic explanations of the white-black IQ gap. Yet he acknowledges that standard explanations of the kind invoked by yourself are completely inadequate to explain the gap. Poverty per se, multigenerational or otherwise, is simply not up to the job. In fact, writing of the debates in the technical literature between Prof. Jensen and anti-hereditarians with respect to the white-black issue, he calls it a "one-sided massacre." (Naturally, I agree.) As for the disagreeement beween Prof. Jensen and himself, Flynn does not take it personally; indeed, he writes that it has been "a pleasure to match wits with a scholar of the learning, subtlety, and cunning of Arthur Jensen." So, Flynn does not look to anything as simplistiic as poverty per se to explain the black-white IQ gap, for he considers such explanations close to conclusively refuted. For a taste of what he does look to (gene-environment covariance), read the technical paper by Dickens and Flynn (2001). Of course, hereditarians (and even some avowedly neutral participants in this debate) were not convinced by this effort. But, if you get to this point, you will no longer need either TangoMan or myself as guides and will be able to follow this discussion yourself at the highest level.

Earl Hunt is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Washington, also well respected by the community of researchers who study individual differences in mental abilities. He is also opposed to genetic explanations of the white-black IQ gap--but not scientifically any longer! He once was; I believe that one of his first publications was a criticism of Prof. Jensen's (1969) notorious Harvard Educational Review article. He told the attendees at the 2005 Internataional Society of Intelligence Research conference: "I don't know what causes racial differences in IQ. As a social egalitarian, I hope it's not genetic. But I really don't know if it's genetic or not. I just don't know." Mr. Neiwert, I gather that you're a journalist in Seattle? Maybe you can track Prof. Hunt down. I hope that he would be as candid with you as he was with the ISIR attendees.

Joseph Fagan is another member of "IQ crowd" who favors an environmentalist explanation of the black-white IQ gap. (I don't think he has ever expressed an opinion about the IQ advantages displayed by East Asians or Ashkenazi Jews.) While his development of the Fagan Test of Infant Intelligence is a major contribution, it is clear from his writings that his approach to the black-white issue is orders of magnitude less sophisticated than that of Jensen, Flynn, etc. They are theoretically barren and in flagrant disregard of the total-evidence rule. But by all means check him out.

Nicholas Mackintosh has joined the IQ crowd more recently, having started out as a animal-learning theorist. He has written a textbook about intelligence that has been praised by Jensen, Hunt, Sternberg, everyone basically. His opinion about racial differences? Well, he doen't actually express any. Same thing with Nathan Brody, the author of the other intelligence textbook.

So that is the picture. Of course, we GNXPers regard the noncommittal stances of Flynn, Hunt, Mackintosh, and Brody to be unreasonable given the totality of evidence and the meta-theoretical evolutionary framework (outlined at length in my first comment) in which this issue must be considered. But note that no one who is conversant with the totality of evidence regrading racial differences in IQ is willing to dimiss a genetic explanation. And, moreover, no one is satisfied with explanations blaming the attributing gaps to SES and such.

That is what the experts think. But I do not want to browbeat you into ditching the received wisdom for the solemn pronouncements of faceless oracles. That is merely replacing one kind of obeisance with another. Again, I just want to move your intuition enough so that you will be willing to pursue these matters for yourself.

As TangoMan points out, there are things we can do regardless of the causes of whatever differences stubbornly remain. I myself believe that genetic engineering and even more outlandish technologies will be able to overcome all. But the Good Society cannot rest on wishful thinking or outright unquestioned dogmas. If you delve into this literature as TangoMan and I suggest, starting with the simplest layperson-oriented material, perhaps brushing up on some statistics and genetics, and then working up to the more difficult material, paying attention to pro and con within the community of scientists who take this debate seriously, I am confident that you will find this to be a live issue that deserves your cloest attention and most thoughtful reflection as a citizen concerned with the present and future welfare of all Americans (and, indeed, all members of our species).

Darth Quixote said...

Also, I want to say that I am intimately familar with the horrendous conditions that many African Americans endure. I once inspected subsidized dwellings for Housing Code violations, and my goodness! What didn't I see? Roaches. Rodent feces. An open sewer in a closet!

But even this issue of what causes this environment is more complicated than it first appears. Is it really white oppression? Read The Truly Disadvantaged by the Harvard policy scientist William Julius Wilson (who, by the way, is black if you find that relevant) for some second thoughts about that.

TangoMan said...

In fact, writing of the debates in the technical literature between Prof. Jensen and anti-hereditarians with respect to the white-black issue, he calls it a "one-sided massacre."

If you'd like a sense of what a "one-sided massacre" looks like then you need look no further than the June 2005 edition of Public Policy, and Law a journal published by the American Psychological Association in which they devoted the entire issue to this topic and invited leading heriditarians and anti-heritidarians to debate. The featured article was by Rushton & Jensen, Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Also included was a rebuttal by Sternberg, another rebuttal by Nisbett, an article that concurred with Rushton & Jensen from Gottfredson, a commentary by Suzukoi & Aronson and the issue closes with Rushton & Jensen replying to their critics. This edition of the journal threw a wet blanket on the mood of the anti-herititarian camp. There were quite a few morose researchers walking the halls of academia last summer. The critics of Rushton & Jensen are not slouches - they are the leading lights of their field. In fact, Aronson is a co-coiner of the phrase "stereotype threat."

So, judge for yourself - the journal is top notch, it's published by a respected professional organization, and every academic involved is from a widely respected institution and they all have extensive publication histories. There is no mismatch of talent, background knowledge, or reputation. This is as fair a battle of opposing viewpoints as can be devised. It is generally conceded to have been a "one-sided massacre" which is evident even to people who are new to the field.

The Constructivist said...

Once again, many thanks for the substantive contributions to the debate between O and I, DQ and TM. O and I are going to do a follow-up column where we revisit our original race v. racialization debate; it'll come out next W in print and Th on this site, so I'll hold off on substantive participation here until then.

I have taken the time to read GC's posted links and reread all the comments here (although not more than a couple of the links DQ and TM have posted), though. I want to focus in on a few questions:

1) In his writings, GC tends to use terms like "human biodiversity" and speak of differences among "populations" roughly corresponding to "continents" of predominant ancestry rather than of "races." Why is this? Is this only a difference of terminology (a difference w/o a distinction) or is there something more to it than that? I recall TM and DQ both claiming that various studies show that ascriptions by phenotype and self-identifications correlate quite closely with genotypal correlational differences (heh, I mean racial identity--or do I?). I find this difficult to believe without reading further in the literature you all cited--see The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity in the United States for an introductory-level discussion that shares my skepticism. In lieu of that, perhaps an explanation of what's at stake in this debate among the GNXPers would be helpful. Where do your co-authors fall on this debate (populations v. races) and why? As you can see, I'm more in the populations camp. I am much more comfortable with using ancestry or heredity instead of race to discuss genetics. Where am I going wrong?

2) I'm trying to wrap my head around your claim that since your use of race is built on probabilistic/fuzzy set models rather than one person-one race models, it makes no difference whether there are three races (sub-Saharan African; Eurasian; East Asian), four (add South Asians and/or "natives" of the South Seas), five (add "Native" Americans), or several hundred. Can you point me toward studies of intra-European or intra-Asian or intra-African "racial" or ancestral/hereditary differences? Since you all often bring up Ashkenazi Jews, an ethnic-religious-and-for-a-time-linguistic group that I suppose until fairly recently did very little intermarrying, I presume such studies exist. The reason I ask is that the broader black-white-Asian comparisons/contrasts may hide as much as they reveal. Plus you might have to parry fewer charges of racism if you were to focus on ethnicity-g rather than race-g correlations, for instance. (Or you might piss more people off, I don't know.) Jacobson's Whiteness of a Different Color shows exhaustively how the Celts, Alpines, Slavs, Jews, and other questionable European races--as they were conceived of in the US roughly between the Civil War and WWII--became (seen and conceived of as) white between in the two decades following WWII. And documents the benefits that came to these groups from this "racial alchemy," as he calls it. Recall that the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act aimed to cut off the flow of these "inferior" races into the US--and succeeded for several decades. So obviously this, too, is a touchy topic with huge policy implications. But getting more fine-tuned may be the way to go. Would you care to comment on the lumpers/splitters debates among geneticists? I'm a pretty extreme splitter, I think. Where do I go wrong?

3) Have you all posted on GNXP a clarification of where past racial sciences went wrong (looking for single marker to define a race, thinking of individuals as necessarily belonging to only one race, believing in a fixed hierarchy of races, believing that racial differences justify relations of domination/subordination, and so on) and where faulty implications/applications of racial science were made? What better way to clarify for the general public what you mean by "race"? Judging by what you've been saying here and what I've seen of GNXP, it's quite different than most pre-WWII versions. At the same time, you also seem to be arguing that past discredited theories (like brain size--something Samuel Morton and Josiah Nott and others in the 19th C made the centerpiece of their defenses of manifest destiny and slavery) might actually have a scientific basis. Again, if you want to justify the claim that "this time it's different: this racial science is not only new and improved, it's the truth, Ruth," the easy way to do it is to demonstrate it. Sure, the roundabout way of attacking the blank slate hypothesis and pointing to its consequences under communist regimes can win you some debating points, but it doesn't substitute for simply showing how to avoid making the scientific, political, and ethical mistakes of past racial sciences and scientists and those who used them for their own ends. Casting those who ask for this clarification as social determinist purists is just lynching a straw man and gives the impression you have something to hide.

4) What can looking at the science of brain development add to our discussions? As I understand it from the baby literature I've been reading the past few years, there are key growth spurts where diet, exercise, sleep, and a range of environmental/cultural factors can have a huge effect on one's overall development--is this true of the brain as well as of things like one's eventual height? The other interesting thing I noticed is the idea that one's brain keeps developing throughout one's life. In Japan, Nintendo has been marketing a new kind of video game for older people based on its mental exercise (my wife's mom is really into it) and I've just begun to see it advertised in the US. Is this just the elderly equivalent of Baby Einstein (trying to make a buck off something that actually has little effect) or is there something to this notion that one's intelligence, say, is not a fixed property?

5) How many serious scientific studies have focused on so-called "mixed-race" people? (I say so-called b/c obviously if we all can trace our ancestry back to Africa, it's just as true to say we're all one race as we're all mixed-race.) If the relevant scientific community is as focused on isolating broad differences between Africans, Europeans, and Asians as it seems to be from your comments, this seems problematic to me. Wouldn't there be more insights to be found by examining those who are more "mixed" than those who are more "pure"?

6) Surely things like taboos against marrying outside one's religion or ethnicity or race, which affect the "kind" of children people will have, are one obvious example of socialization having biological consequences. Surely technological advances that enable travel and economic practices like regional trade patterns (which go way back in human history; cf. Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land for a study of East African-South Asian trade routes before the Portuguese takeover of the Indian Ocean basin, for example) or imperialism/colonialism, which provide incentives for such travel, are other obvious examples of how the "cultural" (in the broadest possible sense) can mix up previously separated gene pools. What do you make of the arguments of people as different as Crevecouer and Frederick Douglass that a "new people" are arising in the new world? If "raciation" takes fewer generations than previously thought, has anyone argued that "new races" have emerged in various "contact zones" in the world in the past millennia or centuries? (I wouldn't dismiss the Forbes book I mentioned before out of hand, for instance.)

One closing comment, because at least one daughter is going to be waking up in the next few minutes and my wife and I are on our own with the two of them for the first time today!

I think the topics you all propose for debate on implications/applications of recent cross-disciplinary scientific insights on human evolution, cognition, etc., are important and valuable--is/ought, groups/individuals, and so on. And I plan to revisit them. As first a fan and later a teacher of science fiction, I think it'll be interesting to see how the works of David Brin, Dan Simmons, and Kim Stanley Robinson, to name just three who have dealt with many of the broader issues you both raise (not to mention the global cyberpunk of Gibson and Ghost in the Shell--cf. Wendy Chun's Control and Freedom for a good reading that links them) might inform our discussions. I agree with many of your speculations that advances in genetic mapping will shake up our political map and that debates over both genetic and social engineering will take new directions in the decades to come. BTW, Michel Foucault coined the term "biopolitics" and Donna Haraway made some interesting speculations on the figure of the cyborg; since so many in the humanities and "human sciences" have been influenced by their work, there ahould be important contributions from cultural, social, and political theorists to these debates, as well. Hopefully we can attract some of them here.

The Constructivist said...

Oh, and thanks to GC's links, I came across this very interesting piece by Kevin Drum.

Darth Quixote said...

Constructivist, as for the great part of your first three questions, our friend Steve Sailer has written extensively about them. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know how to link to other sites in comments (I'm actually new to blogging), so I will simply direct you to www.isteve.com and ask you to search his archives.

A remark about Morton. As we have said repeatedly, we do not care the slightest bit for whatever dotty notions Morton may or may not have had about manifest destiny and the like. And as for the accuracy of his research results, which have been impugned by Steven Jay Gould, a reanalysis of his skull collection during the eighties showed that Morton's research was conducted with integrity and that Gould was the biased one. The author of the reanalysis mailed his findings to Gould, but Gould never responded. You can find an account of this in Nevan Seardic's Making Sense of Heritability. For a sharp condemnation of Gould's libels of scientists both living and deceased, see William Hamilton's Narrow Roads of Gene Land Vol. 2.

4) Yes, the brain does develop dynamically over the course of childhood and adolescence. But it appears that with respect to certain parameters (e.g., overall gray matter volume) the end result is fairly rigidly determined up genetic makeup. See GC's link to the review paper by Thompson and Gray and you will their results pointing to a heritability of brain volume of roughly 0.90. That means something like 90 percent of the variation in brain volume in the Caucasian population is determined by genetic variation. There are other results indicating that the correlation between brain size and IQ is mediated entirely by genetic factors.

5) is largely answered at a commonsensical level in Steve Sailer's writings. As for admixed individuals, there was a study done in Hawaii in the mid-eighties comparing white children, Japanese children, and half-white, half-Japanese children. (Or was it Chinese? I no longer remember. The reference is Nagoshi and Johnson, 1986.) All parents were matched for occupational level and educational attainment (which matched them in IQ to a large extent). It turned out that the half-white, half-Japanese kids averaged the highest IQs among the three groups. This is strong evidence for a genetic influence on IQ because of its agreement with a phenomonon called "hybrid vigor": an increase in a quantitative trait in the offspring of mates from distinct breeding populations because of the lowered probability of homozygosity for deleterious alleles identical by descent. Hybrid vigor is the opposite of inbreeding depression, if you like. (And it has also been shown repeatedly that offspring of incestuous or inbred matings show lowered IQs relative to matched non-inbred controls.)

The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, which I referred to above, found that half-white, half-black children ended up with IQs slightly above the midway point between whites and blacks in Minnesota generally. Of course, African Americans themselves are an admixed population--the basis of the study proposed by Charles Murray and referred to by TangoMan above.

6) I think, again, the writings of Steve Sailer effectively anwer the main thrust of this question. I should point out that, according to the hypothesis of Greg Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending, it was the unusual closure of the Ashkenazi Jews to inward gene flow (Steven Pinker quotes his grandmother's advice to his mother: "It's as easy to fall in love with a Jewish man as it is with a non-Jewish man.") that allowed biological evolution to distinguish them in IQ so rapidly from the surrounding population.

Yes, I agree that these are exciting and dangerous times ahead. If I were a religious person, I would pray for strength, courage, and wisdom.

The Constructivist said...

DQ, perhaps your colleagues would care to answer my questions more directly? I'll check out Sailer in more detail this summer, along with a lot of your other references. Thanks.

TangoMan said...

And it has also been shown repeatedly that offspring of incestuous or inbred matings show lowered IQs relative to matched non-inbred controls.

This is a topic that Sailer and GNXP have covered repeatedly. Muslim cultures are notorious for their high rates of cousin marriage and this has a negative impact on cognition not to mention social structures with the society. Consider:

This study was conducted on 3212 Saudi families to investigate the prevalence of consanguineous marriages. The families were interviewed and the information on the relationship between the husband and wife was obtained. The overall rate of consanguinity shows that 57.7% of the families screened were consanguineous.

Or this study:

Birth incidence of malformations in Egyptian newborns ranges between 1.16 and 3.17%. The frequency of malformations at birth showed that CNS malformations were the most common (9.33/1000). Studies of parental consanguinity in the Egyptian population showed a frequency ranging from 20 to 42%. Parental consanguinity rates in groups of Egyptian patients with various birth defects were high suggesting a high rate of autosomal recessive disorders related to other patterns of inheritance.

You may think that the cultural practice of cousin marriage diminishes when Muslims immigrate to the West. Not so:

. . new research showed Pakistani families produced an alarming 30% of the UK's genetically diseased children. . . .found that at least 55% of the community was married to a first cousin. . . .British Pakistani family is at least 13 times more likely than the general population to have children with recessive genetic disorders. . . .while British Pakistanis accounted for just 3.4% of all births, they had 30% of all British children with recessive disorders and a higher rate of infant mortality.

The ugly new health vs culture focus on British Pakistanis comes just days after separate new research described them as languishing at the bottle of the social mobility league table.


And the consequences are detailed here:

The 50 inbred children were products of marriages between first cousins; their mean age was 7.7 years (range, 6-11 years). A significant (p 0.001) negative association was found between inbreeding and score on the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-C). In addition, the weighted mean IQ of inbred children )88.4 + or - 1.37) differed significant (p 0.001) from that recorded among 50 noninbred controls of similar age and socioeconomic status (99.6 + or - 2.0).

Now, the Axiom of Discrimination is the first thing that is trotted out to explain why Pakistanis in the UK languish near the bottom of the social mobility ladder. So, the implication here is that people posit that in the case of the British Pakistanis that White Britain is able to discern a Pakistani from a Indian who is Hindu and thus discriminates against them to such an extent that the SES of these phenotypically similar groups is now quite wide. Genetics matters.

(PS. You should think about enabling Blockquotes within your comments.)

Darth Quixote said...

TangoMan, that is another excellent example of a (perhaps) preventable real-world harm inflicted on innocent victims because of the refusal to acknowledge the role of genetics in human affairs.

Constructivist, real life has intervened to call me away from this discussion. For starters, I have statistics homework due tomorrow! In any case I probably will not be contributing to the extent that I have been. Of course, I look forward to whatever you, Objectivist, and Dave Neiwert have to say in the future. If any pithy comments of mine will help, I will make them.

The Constructivist said...

On blockquotes, if anyone has experience with blogger and can help on its unevolved html options, please email me.

On the incest thing, recall it was a big concern of William Faulkner's in novels like Absalom, Absalom! and short story collections like Go Down, Moseswith respect to the white supremacist South he lived in--have genetic/psychometric studies of regional patterns within the US borne his concern out?

I've already said I agree that genetics matters. The question is in what ways "race" does. Is it real in the critical race theory version of "racial realism" or in the O/TM/DQ way or in my "social fiction with real effects" version (which is not mine alone, of course, nor original with me). We're all talking about "race consciousness" being preferable to "color blindness" here--it's just where the emphasis should be, on the race part or the consciousness part, and on the interaction between the two, that we disagree.

Obviously "Pakistanis" aren't a "race" in the commonly accepted meaning of the term (right?). My point in pointing this out is that with social constructions like nations and religions the ascription/self-identification "rules" are pretty clear-cut, but not so with a social construction like race. That's why there were so many Supreme Court cases in the late 19th C and early 20th C to try to nail down which prospective immigrants to the US counted as "white" and hence had access to citizenship. The boundaries of whiteness have shifted greatly over the course of US history. Why do geneticists and others insist on linking their findings to "race" when by your own admission their notion of race is quite different than the commonly understood definitions of it? (Or at least by DQ's admission--and sorry you'll be cutting back for the time being, DQ.) That's what I don't get--hopefully the Sailer search I'll do once I turn in my final grades for the semester will help me better understand and assess the logic--right now I simply don't see it.

The Constructivist said...

One final comment on the Pakistani example. Doesn't it prove that "culture matters," as the acceptability of marriages between cousins is surely a social/cultural issue?

TangoMan said...

Question 1:

I recall TM and DQ both claiming that various studies show that ascriptions by phenotype and self-identifications correlate quite closely with genotypal correlational differences (heh, I mean racial identity--or do I?). I find this difficult to believe without reading further in the literature you all cited

Here is one report:

Noah A. Rosenberg and Jonathan K. Pritchard, geneticists formerly in the laboratory of Marcus W. Feldman of Stanford University, assayed approximately 375 polymorphisms called short tandem repeats in more than 1,000 people from 52 ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. By looking at the varying frequencies of these polymorphisms, they were able to distinguish five different groups of people whose ancestors were typically isolated by oceans, deserts or mountains: sub-Saharan Africans; Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas; East Asians; inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia; and Native Americans. They were also able to identify subgroups within each region that usually corresponded with each member's self-reported ethnicity.

Here is another report>:

The people in this research were all part of a study on the genetics of hypertension, recruited at 15 locations within the United States and in Taiwan. This broad distribution is important because it means that the results are representative of racial/ethnic groups throughout the United States rather than a small region that might not reflect the population nationwide.

For each person in the study, the researchers examined 326 DNA regions that tend to vary between people. These regions are not necessarily within genes, but are simply genetic signposts on chromosomes that come in a variety of different forms at the same location.

Without knowing how the participants had identified themselves, Risch and his team ran the results through a computer program that grouped individuals according to patterns of the 326 signposts. This analysis could have resulted in any number of different clusters, but only four clear groups turned up. And in each case the individuals within those clusters all fell within the same self-identified racial group.

"This shows that people's self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background," Risch said.


Regarding race versus population group, this is mostly the same type of semantic dispute you see between differently abled and handicapped. There's social baggage that is associated with one term that the other is devised to avoid, but in time the meaning of differently abled shifts from the hopes that the coiners had for the term to a defintion that encompasses all that used to be meant by the term handicapped. The same process occurs with race and population group. I don't think that you're going wrong anywhere on the semantics, for it just boils down to perferences. I prefer not to submit to language policing measures so I try to use race whenever possible, but I sometimes slip and use the term population group.

Question 2:

My take on the lumpers versus splitters issue you construct is that there is merit in finding genetic similarity that we all share and also finding genetic diversity that distinguishes us. What is more important to me though, is that there be a consistency between the social and genetic sphere. I lose all respect for those who want to stress the social diversity among us and value that highly but then denounce genetic studies of diversity and instead champion studies of genetic similarities. Diversity isn't valuable only on the ideological terms of the diversrat's choosing.

I've sent you more information on studies of Ashkenazi intelligence via e-mail.

Question 3:

Have you all posted on GNXP a clarification of where past racial sciences went wrong (looking for single marker to define a race, thinking of individuals as necessarily belonging to only one race, believing in a fixed hierarchy of races, believing that racial differences justify relations of domination/subordination, and so on) and where faulty implications/applications of racial science were made? What better way to clarify for the general public what you mean by "race"?

Where the research we're writing about touches on past findings, we make note of the differences and explore the methodological advances. However, we're not as preoccupied with the "Have you stopped beating your wife yet" questions as other people are. Look, I'm at the point where I'm not inclined to cede the high moral ground to opponents - if my interlocutors aren't prepared to look at the issue at hand and instead want to burden me with historical incidents then I'll play the same game with them, and the methodological errors and societal horrors that I can throw at them outweigh the baggage they want to inflict on me. This is not, as you assert, a way of scoring debating points, for it is a principled position. The research of today is important, that's what I'm writing about, that's what my co-bloggers are writing about, and the dodging of the issues isn't from our side, it's coming from those who want to shift the debate to historical events that have little relevance to the item under discussion. For those who want to debate history, they should do so in discussions that are focused entirely on that topic. It's evident, from your repeated attempts to shift this discussion to historical events, that these events are important to you. I make no judgement on your interest but I'm no more interested in discussing these issues than a physician reporting on a heart transplant operation has in discussing the influence of Joseph Mengele on the development of transplant surgeries.

the easy way to do it is to demonstrate it

That's entirely what we write about. We've probably linked up to over a thousand scientific papers in the last 4 years.

Question 4:

is there something to this notion that one's intelligence, say, is not a fixed property?

The usage of the term fixed is likely to lead to misinterpretations. Intelligence isn't a fixed property, in that there are biological limits to one's intelligence potential. One may not reach one's potential but one may also not exceed one's potential. Further, for those who do reach their biological potential the biological substrate can degrade and thus affect intelligence. Therefore, social processes, biological health, and pharmacological intervention can all work on maintaining the biological substrate and warding off degradation. So, how fixed is fixed?

Question 5:

I say so-called b/c obviously if we all can trace our ancestry back to Africa, it's just as true to say we're all one race as we're all mixed-race.

This is a facile manipulation that doesn't have much content. Using the same line of reasoning we can say that it's just as true that chimp males and human males are one race when compared to the females of both species. Yes, there is a lot of similarity across groupings. For those who want to "lump" rather than split, that's fine and I'd love to see them take this unifying line in the social realm, which I think they're unlikely to do.

As to the remainder of your question, I think you're framing it in a way that isn't at all congruent with the research designs. The way you frame the question makes you the odd man out. Perhaps this has to do with your historical interests. Admixture is studied to investigate a particular line of interest, and studies of isolated groups are performed for a whole other reason - perhaps to look at migration patterns.

Question 6:

that a "new people" are arising in the new world?

Twas always so. Race forms along clines. The only difference is that there is greater variety of mixing occuring now, not that mixing is some new development.

As for the role of science fiction in this debate, I'd be interested in reading how writers could use research as base material for their projections of future societies and dynamics. I read Robinson's Red Mars series and was seriously turned off by the heavy dosing of PC mantras he invoked. He struck me as a very new age, culturally sensitive, genetics adverse prognosticator. I'm don;t recall Simmons touching on these topics, and I assume that in referring to Brin, you're referring to his "Uplift Sagas" which I thought were interesting.

One final comment on the Pakistani example. Doesn't it prove that "culture matters," as the acceptability of marriages between cousins is surely a social/cultural issue?

ABSOLUTELY! Culture matters, and culture is one of the vectors upon which human bio-diversity has travelled. Culture does intersect with genetics, and vice versa. We're not talking about two non-intersecting spheres of influence here.

TangoMan said...

Just a minor clarification in case I wasn't clear with my point - cousin marriage is not just an isolated Pakistani cultural practice. You see it through the whole of the Fertile Crescent and as far afield as Algeria and Afghanistan and into the former Soviet Muslim Republics - the other 'stans. It's primarily a Muslim practice.

TangoMan said...

The boundaries of whiteness have shifted greatly over the course of US history.

Take a look at how Asians feel about being "honorary whites." It's always funny to me to overhear a comment from someone noting that there are hardly any minorities in a room, or a conference, and I look about me and see lot's of asians and south asians. I laugh a silent laugh at these types of slips that people make.

Darth Quixote said...

Take a look at how Asians feel about being "honorary whites."

A scene full of whites, South Asians, and East Asians is often denounced as "lily white." I assure you that East Asians do not feel white at all. Especially males; females more often gravitate toward a "white identity," but not that often.

ABSOLUTELY! Culture matters, and culture is one of the vectors upon which human bio-diversity has travelled.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. The incestuous relationship between cultural and genetical evolution is only beginning to be unraveled. If the Cochran-Hardy-Harpending hypothesis is correct (which I would bet on), then it is the case that the Ashkenazi Jews owe their current high average IQ to a fascinating amalgam of social and biological factors.

Steve Sailer said...

Excellent discussion.

May I just offer a slightly different perspective here. I've found that very useful way to think about what racial groups are is to define them as "partly inbred extended families." I've found that this solves most of the conceptual conundrums raised here about race, while being merely a more sophisticated conceptualization of how people around the world have more or less tended to think about racial groups over the centuries -- "as lineages."

In other words, a racial group is simply a large extended family that has some degree of coherence over time due to members being more likely to marry within that group than marry randomly across the entire human race.

My essay "It's All Relative: Putting Race in Its Proper Perspective" explains this in more detail.

http://www.vdare.com/Sailer/presentation.htm

You may find this quite novel at first, but it has proven extremely useful to me over the years for all sorts of purposes.

Anonymous said...

> GC tends to use terms like "human biodiversity" and speak of differences among "populations" roughly corresponding to "continents" of predominant ancestry rather than of "races." Why is this? Is this only a difference of terminology (a difference w/o a distinction)

Well, the thing is that people are more accepting of the idea that populations
can be subdivided. Race seems more essentialist. That said, the popular term race corresponds well to the scientific concept of a continental-scale population. Not really an important distinction.

> various studies show that ascriptions by phenotype and self-identifications correlate quite closely with genotypal correlational differences (heh, I mean racial identity--or do I?). I find this difficult to believe without reading further

Well, if you think about blood donation or drugs like Bidil, it shouldn't be that hard to believe -- tons of medical protocols use self-identified race as an initial screen. It's one of the first things that physicians take when they take histories, just like gender -- because it is an easily assayable indicator of genome content (and hence affects the probabilities in a differential diagnosis).

Now, if you judge the definition of "race" to be the US Census' definition (which lumps South Asians with East Asians under the genetic non-category of "Asian American"), then yeah, you would expect problems in tracking the genetic and social terms.

> Can you point me toward studies of intra-European or intra-Asian or intra-African "racial" or ancestral/hereditary differences?

Sure:

http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content/full/161/1/269

> Would you care to comment on the lumpers/splitters debates among geneticists?

It's really just a cutoff point in a clustering analysis. Nothing more, nothing less. You begin with genome space. In the least granular clustering, we're all descended from the same ancestral cell. One more level and you get bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes. Go further and the metazoans get their own branch. Further still and you get different kinds of primates. Extend down to the human lineage and voila, more and more subgroups depending on how finely you set your cutoff (measured in terms of evolutionary distance, quantifiable through base-pair level comparisons of DNA sequences, e.g. as implemented in PHYLIP among other packages).

Now, the one caveat someone might have with this is that there is internal tree reticulation within the human lineage. That is, individuals from branches which have separated for several thousand years can still mate and produce fertile offspring. But this is unremarkable as you observe it within every other species as well. You can mate all kinds of different dog breeds, for instance, or varieties of fish which have also been mostly isolated for thousands of years (http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/kingsley.html).

In the long term, of course, enough time and accumulation of genomic change makes a subspecies into its own species. This happened with dogs and wolves, and is in the process of occurring within every species. The fact that genomic differences within our species correspond to geographic substructure (given barriers to gene flow like the Himalayas, the Sahara, the oceans, etc.) is not surprising.

Now, modern transportation technology has vastly increased the rate of mixing and interbreeding between far flung peoples. But outside of the Americas, most people still live in the same places their ancestors lived for millennia. This reflects itself in their genome content.

> Have you all posted on GNXP a clarification of where past racial sciences went wrong (looking for single marker to define a race, thinking of individuals as necessarily belonging to only one race, believing in a fixed hierarchy of races, believing that racial differences justify relations of domination/subordination, and so on) and where faulty implications/applications of racial science were made?

Yes:

1) single markers = bad

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002443.html

2) platonic ideology re: one racial type = bad

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002411.html

3) fixed hierarchy of races = bad

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002530.html

> past discredited theories (like brain size--something Samuel Morton and Josiah Nott and others in the 19th C made the centerpiece of their defenses of manifest destiny and slavery) might actually have a scientific basis.

Well, the discrediting was in turn discredited. Boas falsified his data, for example. NYT article below:

http://www.racesci.org/in_media/craniometrics_nyt_Oct2002.htm

See also Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2004, with images from brain scans and MRIs.

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002366.html
www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/001524.html


> the roundabout way of attacking the blank slate hypothesis and pointing to its consequences under communist regimes can win you some debating points

I think the point is that looking for racists under the bed in a discussion about *genetics* is akin to looking for communists under the bed in a discussion about economics.

Leftists have killed millions of people in the past century, motivated by socialist and communist ideology. Nevertheless we do not act as if Hillary Clinton is going to send people to the gulag because we understand that the comparison is ludicrous. Similarly, the comparison to and constant invocation of Nazism etc. is irrelevant to a discussion of researchers interested in base pairs and brain scans.

> What can looking at the science of brain development add to our discussions

recent Nature article on this:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/29/AR2006032902182.html

The brains of very intelligent children appear to develop in a distinctive and surprising way that distinguishes them from less intelligent children, a federal study reported yesterday.


> Is this just the elderly equivalent of Baby Einstein (trying to make a buck off something that actually has little effect) or is there something to this notion that one's intelligence, say, is not a fixed property?

see old post on intellectual weightlifting:

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/003389.html

> How many serious scientific studies have focused on so-called "mixed-race" people?

lots, see admixture mapping via linkage disequilibrium. The genomes of mixed race people are actually quite useful in teasing apart certain kinds of genotype-phenotype associations.

http://genepath.med.harvard.edu/~reich/Section%201.htm

> If the relevant scientific community is as focused on isolating broad differences between Africans, Europeans, and Asians

Good to think of it in terms of passes at increasing levels of sophistication.

First pass: first microbial genome (1995)
Second pass: first human genome (2001)
Third pass: large scale variation in the human genome at the continental scale, Hapmap (2005)
Fourth pass: structural variation in the human genome, LCV map (~2008 completion)

(good quote on the last here: http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2005/05/importance-of-large-genomic.html)

Etc. Eventually we will be able to get individual level genome sequence cheaply. But this will not reduce the importance of genomic structure. Evolutionary & familial relationships tell you a lot about biology. For ex., if you didn't group people by the relevant familial/evolutionary grouping, you would be unable to pull out the characteristic risk factors in that community for (say) heart disease.



too busy to blog more but darth and tango have also put together some good links. one point that I didn't address above is that james heckman (nobel laureate) has looked at prospects for increasing IQ by non-genetic, non-nutritional means and found them ineffective.

www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002677.html

The Constructivist said...

Ah, the baby's up and fussy tonight, so while she's sleeping a quick reply. First on the sci fi. Yeah, most people can't get past Red Mars, but if you read the entire trilogy you see him raising interesting issues beyond debates over "terraforming" that dominated the first book, including over genetic engineering and speciation differences emerging between colonists of Mars and other places in the solar system and those who remain on Earth after the disasters that take place in the second novel. So even if Robinson is a bit leftie for you, TM, he takes on the same issues that the apparently more conservative (to judge by his recent writings) Simmons gets into in the Hyperion series--say, over conserving our humanity or becoming posthuman. See KurzweilAI.net for how some influential futurists, scientists, writers, and venture capitalists are speculating on what the 21st century holds.

Whoops, baby can't stay asleep w/o being held for more than a few minutes. Out for the night!

The Constructivist said...

Wanted to highlight a few links from my Introduction to Ethnicity/Race course that I taught last spring; I invite responses to any or all of them:

Genes, Race, and Psychology in the Genome Era (American Psychologist January 2005)
The Realities of Races (Jonathan Marks SSRC April 2005)
What We Know and What We Don't Know: Human Genetic Variation and the Social Construction of Race (Joseph Graves, SSRC April 2005)
Confusions about Human Races (R.C. Lewontin, SSRC April 2005)
The Race Gallery

The Constructivist said...

Interesting perspective on how history matters from Caleb McDaniel; worth comparing to Judith Butler's in Excitable Speech. Not an answer to why I'm interested in the history of race thinking, but related.

The Constructivist said...

Some Sailer links from VDare: selected essays on race and a complete listing. Wondering how Neil Gaiman's 1602 and his reimagining of Virginia Dare and of early America (not to mention of major Marvel superheroes) relates to this one.

Darth Quixote said...

Constructivist, the authors of the pieces that you assigned in your class are scientists, and we claim that their scientific arguments are out of date, misleading, or flat-out wrong. For example, the geneticist R.C. Lewontin is the promulgator of "Lewontin's Fallacy." Or take this outrageous quote from the anthropologist Jonathon Marks:

Of what benefit would racialized medicine then possibly be? The therapeutic intervention would have to be based on the genotype, not on any racialized identity. Otherwise it would be far more likely to kill people than to cure them.

This nonsense is no less mischievous for being completely transparent! I believe that all of these arguments are clearly, logically, and thoroughly addressed in the links that GC left above. Oh, and that last anonymous commentator was almost certainly GC.

TangoMan said...

Not an answer to why I'm interested in the history of race thinking, but related.

I hope I didn't come across as dissing your interest in the history of race thinking for while it's not my cup of tea I understand that other people can be fascinated by the events of that period. I also understand that others may find the genetics to be so very dry and pale in comparison to the color, drama, and debate the are associated with the study of history.

My point was simply that the reference to history doesn't address the "what is" of the genome. The genome won't change no matter what has happened in the past.

Also, I'd like to echo Darth's point about Lewontin. He's still pushing his perspective despite a number of papers that have since been published which have peeled back the misconceptions inherent in his research. If you're going to use his material then you really should squarely address the issue of "Lewontin's Fallacy." You should also teach your class that Lewontin described his science with this quote "There is nothing in Marx, Lenin, or Mao that is or can be in contradiction with a particular set of phenomena in the objective world." Your students should know how thoroughly his Marxist political views have penetrated his science. He hasn't rebutted "Lewontin's Fallacy" and instead has just persisted in pushing his perspective without making any reference to those who have exposed his methodological errors. Such blindness in the face of the scientific method is only a step above Intelligent Design.

TangoMan said...

You will find a more expansive compendium of Sailer's writing at his isteve.com site and his isteve.blogspot.com archive. The essays he writes for VDARE are targeted to an audience whose primary interest is in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants into our country. At Sailer's site you can get a much better grasp of his wide range of interest and how he views an many topics. He's done extraordinary work on debunking the abortion story from Freakonomics, exposing the hyprocrisy of Saletin during the Bennett debate, and did a stand-up statistical analysis of the 2004 election in his Baby Gap article. Also, see his series on Iraq and Consanguinity and how it's very difficult to impose democracy onto a society which is structured along such lines.

The Constructivist said...

TM, I didn't teach those essays--they were supplemental material to the assigned readings. I did, however, invite The Objectivist to speak to my class and he did on April Fool's Day last year (total coincidence)....

Is "Lewontin's Fallacy" widely accepted as such outside the "racial realism" camp?

TangoMan said...

Is "Lewontin's Fallacy" widely accepted as such outside the "racial realism" camp?

It's accepted by everyone who can follow the statistical reasoning. It's not really an issue that can be debated away with "on the other hand" type of argument. This is why you never see Lewontin directly address the statistical point of criticism. He persists in advancing the line of reasoning he developed decades ago and simply ignores the correlation structure issue.

Steve Sailer said...

Once again, congratulations to all the participants for holding such a civil and informative discussion.

Back in 2000, I wrote the following about Lewontin's famous 85-15 pronouncement:

Argument: "Most variation is within racial groups, not between racial groups. Two members of the same race are likely to differ from each other more than the average member of their race differs from the average member of another race."

Counterargument: Sure, but so what? No single human category can account for a majority of all the many ways humans differ from each other. Try substituting other categories like "age:" "Most variation is within age groups, not between age groups." Yup, that's true, too. But, it doesn't mean that Age Does Not Exist.

You often hear that between-group racial differences only account for 15% of genetic variation. This number comes from a 1972 study by Richard Lewontin of 17 blood types, comparing variation between continental-scale races and between national-scale racial groups (e.g., Swedes vs. Italians). Now, blood types are, I suppose, important, but they hardly represent all we want to know about human genetic diversity. Certain other traits are known to be more racially determined -- the figure for skin color, not surprisingly, is 60%. What the overall number is for all the important genes remains unknown.

Still, let's assume that Lewontin's 15% solution is widely applicable. That's like going to a casino that has American Indian and African American croupiers, and 85% of the time the roulette spins are random, but 15% of the time the ball always comes up red for Indian croupiers and black for the black croupiers -- pretty useful information, huh?

That comes from my rather bluntly titled but conceptually useful 2000 essay "Seven Dumb Ideas about Race."

http://www.vdare.com/Sailer/cavalli-sforza_ii.htm

Darth Quixote said...

As Steve Sailer points out, there are actually many things wrong with Lewontin's 85-15 argument. But it is the issue of correlational structure that has really sunk it.

Constructivist, I didn't mean to imply that you had done anything dishonorable in providing Lewontin's piece to your students as supplemental material! After all, Richard Lewontin is an acknowledged legend in evolutionary genetics. What not trust him as an authority? TangoMan brings up Lewontin's admiration for Communist regimes that have murdered millions of their own citizens not to neutralize his argument (which would be an ad hominem criticism and in any case unnecessary) but to explain how a man of his brilliance and past accomplishment could possibly be the source of so much error and distraction on this politically loaded issue.

Carefully study the toy scenario at the beginning of my first comment. Understand it well and you will understand why Lewontin's "finding" with regard to across-population genetic diversity is in fact not a finding but a fallacy. You might also find this old post useful.

Darth Quixote said...

You should also think about TangoMan's explication of why Lewontin's fallacy is indeed fallacious in his comment.

Steve Sailer said...

Another way to put Lewontin's famous 85-15 theorem in perspective is to think about how much genetic diversity their is within your own extended family relative to the background breeding population of your extended family (e.g., the main racial group from which your extended family derives.) It turns out that relative to the whole human race you are more related to other members of your racial group than you are related to your first cousin relative to your mutual race. You are closing in on being as related as you are to your nephew relative to your mutual background breeding population.

Henry Harpending had a paper on the mathematics of this few years ago. He pointed out that without foreknowledge, he can't recognize his own grandchildren from ohter children on their block, but when he's in Nambibia, he can indisputably recognize people of European background that he's never seen before.

The Constructivist said...

Gonna propose something here that I hope O has time to take part in. He and I are of course caught in the usual end-of-the-semester crunch but we have a deadline to get our next columns into the local paper's editor by next Tuesday at the latest. What I propose is that he and I get drafts done as soon as possible and post them here on the blog before submitting them to the editor. Anyone who wants can offer criticisms/suggestions/etc. and we can revise in light of them up till Tuesday afternoon, when we have to submit them. That way, what'll appear in the local paper will be new, but our blog readers won't have to wait until next Thursday to engage our ideas. O, Steve, TM, DQ, GC--you free? Anyone else want to join in?

TangoMan said...

I'm game. Objectivist has quite a job ahead of him in synthesizing the argument to fit within the space constraints of a newspaper column. I don't envy him that task.

Darth Quixote said...

Well, as you have seen, this is not an issue that is easily contained within the space of two newspaper columns. Even if what might be considered the more cultural/social/historical aspects are deemphasized, the scientific issues are diverse and complex enough to command much space on their own.

I will surely read the drafts, and try to offer what help I can.

The Constructivist said...

Sorry, O and I are scrambling to meet the paper's deadline today--you'll have to wait till Thursday for our next columns.

The Objectivist said...

Dear Tangoman, Darth Quixote, and C:
I have been away from my post. Your comments are excellent. I'd like to address a number of them. The first was that the associate dean of our college, Vivian Conover, wondered what my motivation was for discussing racial differences, the implication being that there was something malicious or callous about considering them. But given the extraordinary weight that has been given the evidence of differential performance and the quick inference to cultural bias or discrimination, it seems to me that this topic is central to discussion of a range of issues, including the following.

1. Preferential treatment: The Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger asserted that it anticipated that the need for preferential treatment at Michigan Law would be gone in about 25 years. Fat chance if 60-80% of the black white difference in intelligence is due to genetics.

2. Immigration: Why would a country emphasize immigrants from relatively low-IQ groupings (Hispanics) when it could take in nothing but pre-screened high IQ professionals. Given that IQ outpredicts childhood socioeconomic status, it would seem in this country's interest to emphasize immigrants who are reasonably believed to have high IQs.

3. Race tales: Saying that race is constructed is less telling than meets the idea. The constructivist and I may differ as to whether racial groups are natural kinds, but we don't differ in that the different racial groups have different genetic frequencies. That this matters can now be seen in the alignment of the many types of evidence that support the notion that over half of the race differences in intelligence are the result of genetic differences. Even the critics (e.g., Nisbett) do little to explain the higher IQs of Ashkenazi Jews or adopted Vietnamese children.

The Objectivist said...

Guys:

Your comments are brilliant. I hadn't even thought to compare the bodycount for blank-slate governments and racist governments. However, if you compare Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot versus Hitler and the slave trade, you're right the former almost undoubtedly is more destructive.

I'm interested in finding out whether you think all the different parts of the Rushton/Jensen argument hold up.

1. I'm particularly worried about the study involving the German women and American GIs. I know the black GIs had a higher IQ than the average American black but the same is true of white GIs and the average American white. I realize it is only one study and swamped by the rest of the data, but I'm not sure what to say about it. I'm also unsure what to say about the higher IQ of the offspring of white women/black men as compared to black women/white men.

2. Also, do you know if any study has been done comparing the IQ scores of blacks and the % of European genes they have, using modern genetic methods of determining % ancestry? This would seem to be a good indicator whether the earlier blood studies that Nisbett relies on are reliable.

The Objectivist said...

One feature of the data that I find interesting and I'm wondering why is that once you control for socioeconomic status (SES) and move to higher SES standings, the black-white IQ difference increases. I wonder if this is due to the effects of affirmative that have created black professionals from persons with middling or only slightly above average IQs.

I'm not sure I see what other explanation is available.

The Objectivist said...

One last comment, then I'll stop and listen to some responses.

First, I've gained a tremendous amount from your comments. I definitely will have to participate in your blog and am impressed by your knowledge and insight into these issues.

Second, the claim that race shouldn't be taken into account ignores the extreme likelihood that this will produce significant amounts of harm. For example, 71% of newly licensed physicians prescribed potentially inappropriate medication. Given that inappropriate medication is the 6th leading cause of death, this is a real problem.

Also, since low MCATs correlate with medical-board-passage rate (.72), medical boards correlate with certifying exams in medical specialties, and the latter correlates with at least one study of knowledge (internal medicine), there is at least some reason to believe that g is accounting for this and that it suggests that doctors with lower IQs are less effective. Over thousands of patients this means additional injuries and deaths that could have been avoided. By the way, most of these empirical claims come from studies summarized in David Farron, The Affirmative Action Hoax, 137-138.

Similarly, another study found that half of medical residents who got barely passing scores on the medical boards and a quarter of those who got only slighly higher scores were deficient in medical knowledge, data-gathering skills, and clinical judgment.

Again, the admission to medical school of black and Hispanic students who have much lower MCATs than their competitors will likely produce victims. I would love to see at least an attempt to compare the losses that patients suffer through the admissions of weaker physicians to any gains (quantified or even just made up - e.g., gains in learning) from diversity.

Similarly, education gains correlate with teachers' scores on competency exams, but not educational expenditure, self-esteem, teachers' degrees, class size, etc. Ronald Ferguson, "Paying for Public Education: New Evidence on How and Why Money Matters," Harvard Journal on Legislation 28 (1991): 465-498.

The point being that having less talented teachers for diversity or similar purpose also produces unnecessary harm.

A study by John Lott on white and black police officers ("Does a Helping Hand Put Others at Risk? Affirmative Action, Police Departments, and Crime," Economic Inquiry 38 (April 2000): 263-264 suggests that dropping standards to hire black police officers resulted in more rapes and murders.

The moral of the story is that moving away from the best predictive methods - and they probably involve those that correlate with general intelligence - has real and painful costs. As far as I know, there are no attempts to provide even a back of the envelope calculation of how high the benefits would be to outweigh these costs. But just eyeballing it one can see that they would have to be incredibly high.

The Constructivist said...

O, I got us an extension on the deadline, so our articles will appear this week. Until they do, here's my compilation of books that have been recommended in these comments:

New Racialization Studies
Michael Brown, et al., Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society
Matthew Frye Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color
George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness (2nd ed.)
Wahneema Lubiano, ed., The House That Race Built
Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers

New Racial Science
Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve
Arthur Jensen, The g Factor
Frank Miele, Race, Intelligence, and Genetics
Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, Race: The Reality of Human Differences
Nicholas Wade, Before the Dawn

TangoMan said...

Fat chance if 60-80% of the black white difference in intelligence is due to genetics.

That's right. School success can be mainly attributed to socioeconomic status and to IQ. The problem we have is that even when we give a boost to students via affirmative action and they do fairly well socioeconomically, their children quite often also need a boost even though they are the beneficiaries of a more comfortable socioeconomic status. Education researchers Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom make note of this social data:

Blacks from families earning over $70,000 a year have lower SAT scores than whites from families taking in less than $10,000. This is an amazing statistic, and by itself, it destroys the liberal insistence that standardized tests merely measure socioeconomic status. It is also fatal to the general liberal attribution of black underperformance to white racism: How could racism conspire to make poor whites perform better on reading and math tests than upper-middle-class blacks?

To get more of a clue as to why this occurs, here are the research findings of Arthur Jensen:

The BW- IQ gap increases with socio-economic status (SES). Because IQ correlates with SES, parents of higher SES have a higher average IQ-score. This means, that the offspring in the higher SES categories will show more pronounced regression towards the population mean. But because the population mean for blacks is lower, regression towards the mean will produce a more pronounced IQ lowering in the offspring of black parents, thereby widening the IQ gap between white and black offspring in these SES-segments. This is exactly what we observe (Jensen p.469 and 358).

Siblings of bright black children have lower IQ-scores as compared to siblings of equally bright white children (p.470-471). Regression to the mean helds true for both black and white sibling pairs over the full range of IQs (approximately from IQ 50 to IQ 150). "These regression findings can be regarded, not as proof of the default hypothesis, but as wholly consistent with it. No purely environmental hypothesis would have predicted such results" (p.471).


The Thernstrom data is exactly what Jensen is writing about - the children of successful Black professionals have greater regress to the mean, because their population mean is lower than that of other groups. So, even with affirmative action giving preferential treatment to specific groups, thereby giving them a boost up the socioeconomic ladder, that doesn't mean that once boosted that that family line will be able to compete on equal footing with the rest of society. Again look to the Thernstrom data - with affirmative action we're having to give quota preference to Black students from families earning over $70,000 per year and we're arguing that they children are more oppressed by society than the White children coming from homes that were earning only $10,000 per year.

Why would a country emphasize immigrants from relatively low-IQ groupings (Hispanics) when it could take in nothing but pre-screened high IQ professionals. Given that IQ outpredicts childhood socioeconomic status, it would seem in this country's interest to emphasize immigrants who are reasonably believed to have high IQs.

Welcome to our line of reasoning :) We'd do far, far better if we could simply substitute 12 million Hispanics with a mean IQ of 90 with 12 million Chinese with a mean IQ of 105. Of course, this is what Australia is doing, though on a much smaller scale, and what they're finding is that the White elites are facing competition from emerging Chinese elites and that's making some Australians uncomfortable despite the fact that the Chinese are a net economic positive for Australia earning higher incomes than the Australian "Lebanese" (Catch-all phrase for Muslims) and Whites for that matter, lower crime rates, lower social welfare dependency, lower divorce rate and thus lower rates of children raised in single mother households, etc. Here in the good 'ol USA the elites are more interested in a cheap servant class that they don't view as competitive threats for themselves, only for the poor whites, but the elites are famous for not having much sympathy for the poor and struggling.

That said though, by changing our immigration priorities we could increase the aggregate good for the US and decrease the rise of the net tax recipient class. Further, the liberals who favor an expanision of social welfare schemes would increase their chances of implementing sucessful and financially sustainable programs by lowering the rise of net tax recipient immigrants and increasing the proportion of net tax contributing immigrants.

I'm particularly worried about the study involving the German women and American GIs. I know the black GIs had a higher IQ than the average American black but the same is true of white GIs and the average American white. I realize it is only one study and swamped by the rest of the data, but I'm not sure what to say about it.

Here's the thing - it's one study and it needs to be replicated, which it hasn't been. That one study is often used to rebute a mountain of studies which move in the other direction. We don't know how typical those Black soldiers were and it's possible that there is selection bias at play here. It's quite likely that today, a black soldier with high IQ would be an officer. In WWII that soldier was likely an enlisted man. It could be the case that the personal qualities of these men, in conjuction with their higher IQ, made them more attractive to some German women when compared to their Black peers. The troubling aspect to that study is that it really does stand alone in the literature dealing with interracial relationships.

All that said though, it may actually support the Bell Curve thesis that intelligence is now a vehicle which enables social mobility much moreso than in the past when it was plausible that the janitor had a higher IQ than the son of the factory owner, for social mobility was then more often a class based restraint. The Black soldiers of WWII had a ceiling imposed upon them, no matter how intelligent they were they couldn't rise to the level of their talent or ability. Now we find that self-interest on the part of employers leads them to select for the most able, for if they do any less, then they are leaving talent, profit, and opportunity on the table in exchange for following their racial or class prejudice.

Also, do you know if any study has been done comparing the IQ scores of blacks and the % of European genes they have, using modern genetic methods of determining % ancestry?

This has been proposed by there seems to be some resistance from anti-heriditarians in being associated with such a study, and if the study is conducted entirely by heriditarians then it is too easily dismissed by people who don't want to actually look at the research design and findings.

One feature of the data that I find interesting and I'm wondering why is that once you control for socioeconomic status (SES) and move to higher SES standings, the black-white IQ difference increases. I wonder if this is due to the effects of affirmative that have created black professionals from persons with middling or only slightly above average IQs.

I'm not sure I see what other explanation is available.


See the regression to the mean explanation offered above. Also, keep in mind that those who benefit from quotas tend to earn incomes above what their IQ would predict. This makes sense when you consider that there is enormous pressure to staff positions via some type of proportionalism. I could point you to statements from the EEOC who are eager to go hunting for discrimination in Silicon Valley because they proportionalism is kind of out of whack - there are a number of non-whites working in SV, but they don't seem to count because they are Asian and South Asian, simply the wrong kinds of minorities. What's overlooked is the Bell Curve distributions of IQ. For a given IQ above the national mean, East and South Asians in the US will have a higher representation than either Blacks or Hispanics. If you are in an industry that imposes higher cognitive demands then there are simply smaller pools of Blacks and Hispanics from which one can hire, thus all the firms are competing to hire from the smaller pool and the salary offered to those Blacks and Hispanics who do qualify is above what their IQ would predict they should be earning when compared to their White and Asian peers.

For example, 71% of newly licensed physicians prescribed potentially inappropriate medication. Given that inappropriate medication is the 6th leading cause of death, this is a real problem.

Check out the Bell Curve for Doctors link in the above comments. Take note of the LA Hospital and that problems they're having with their poorly qualified physicians. I remember reading a study about what would happen to Black student admissions if AA was eliminated and the results were startling in that the number of qualified applicants admitted would fall to very low numbers nationally. Unfortunately I can't find that study and I think it was published in some journal dealing with "Black Studies."

Again, the admission to medical school of black and Hispanic students who have much lower MCATs than their competitors will likely produce victims. I would love to see at least an attempt to compare the losses that patients suffer through the admissions of weaker physicians to any gains (quantified or even just made up - e.g., gains in learning) from diversity.

The problem here is that liberals are not really known for being systemic analysts - they tend to focus on the immediate and offer the feel-good solutions without following through on the implications of those solutions. The injuries caused by relative incompetence are hard to measure directly and would most likely have to be inferred from statistical analysis. This is a bit too abstract when compared to the vision of a newly graduated Black physician, which makes liberals feel all tingly inside. What you're proposing is too damn dry and it will carry little emotional weight for the linkage between lowered physician competence and less than optimal patient outcomes is not as concrete.

Similarly, education gains correlate with teachers' scores on competency exams, but not educational expenditure, self-esteem, teachers' degrees, class size, etc. Ronald Ferguson, "Paying for Public Education: New Evidence on How and Why Money Matters," Harvard Journal on Legislation 28 (1991): 465-498.

Check out this New York Times report which highlights Ferguson's take on the Black-White IQ gap:

Yet whites and blacks taking similar level courses report that they spend the same time on homework. It is just that the results are different: 38 percent of whites who spend two hours on homework nightly get all their work done; only 20 percent of blacks spending two hours finish their homework — the Gap.
[ . . . . ]
It would be politically convenient for Professor Ferguson, a black man raising his two children plus a nephew in a Boston suburb, if the Gap could be explained away by economics.
[ . . . . ]
It cannot. When he controls for income, half the Gap persists. Among the richest families, blacks average B+, whites A-. How to explain it?



A study by John Lott on white and black police officers

Check out some of the unintended consequences of AA in police hiring:

A Black police bodyguard who protected the Duchess of Cornwall has won $70,000 compensation after suing Scotland Yard for "over-promoting" him because of political correctness.

Sgt Leslie Turner -- the first black personal protection officer to guard the royal family -- will receive the "racial discrimination" payout after reaching an out-of-court settlement with London's Metropolitan Police.

His representatives argued he landed the prestigious job as Camilla's bodyguard only because he was black.

It was claimed that as a result of being over-promoted and not receiving proper training and support, Sgt Turner made mistakes which led to him being re-assigned.

TangoMan said...

I hadn't even thought to compare the bodycount for blank-slate governments and racist governments. However, if you compare Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot versus Hitler and the slave trade, you're right the former almost undoubtedly is more destructive.

You don't have to wait for someone to make a bodycount argument, for you can reliably count on someone to invoke Hitler as soon as we introduce the concept of race and public policy. The implication is that a Hitler outcome is the inevitable result of honestly factoring race into public policy questions. If they want to hold to that argument that's when you point to Mao's Cultural Revolution and Pol Pot's scheme to reorder Cambodia through class-based and blank slate policies, and by using the same criteria as your opponent, you can warn of the death camps that will be established in the US if we follow class based and blank slate policies. Hopefully, the bright ones will see the ludicrousness of their line of argument and will drop their fallacious reasoning and simply look at the pros and cons of the proposal. The dimmer opponents simply won't see the parallel for they hold it as axiomatic that race-based policies inevitably lead to mass slaughter, unless of course they are talking about "good" race based policies, like Affirmative Action, then they lead to a liberal nirvana.

Darth Quixote said...

O, about the Eyferth (1959) study. It can be shown mathematically that if two groups whose means do not differ that much (say by no more than one SD) face a sufficiently high cutting score in common, then the selected members from the two groups will differ negligibly from each other in mean score. This is why the finding of different mean SAT or HS GPA among racial groups at a university is prima facie evidence for racial discrimination in the admissions process. In the absence of such discrimination the group means should be almost the same.

The armed forces do not permit anyone below a certain IQ to serve. (That African Americans make up a large proportion of our men and women in uniform anyway is a testament to their admirable patriotism and bravery.) In WWII about 30 percent of blacks as compared with 3 percent of whites failed the pre-induction IQ test. It is almost certainly the case that whites and blacks stationed in Germany did not differ in IQ as much as whites and blacks at large.

Humans mate assortatively for IQ; that is, high-IQ people tend to mate with others of high IQ. In fact, with the possible exceptions of physical attractiveness and social conservatism, there is no other trait for which humans show a stronger degree of assortative mating. This is something that should be blindingly obvious once you start thinking about it. To be crude, there are girls that guys are "willing to bang but not marry." If you start talking to a girl and find that she's slow on the uptake, doesn't get your jokes, isn't tuned in to as much of the world as you are, she is exactly the kind of girl who falls into that category. Judging just from life experience, I am certain that this is even more true for girls. I'm sure that most intelligent girls would be turned off by a come-on from a guy with a sub-90 IQ. What about Wilt Chamberlain, he of the 20,000 conquests? By all accounts Wilt was a fairly intelligent man, with a quick wit and keen interest in politics.

It is quite reasonable to suppose that the black men that these German women mated with tended to be of even higher IQ than other blacks serving in Germany at that time. In fact, this is a matter that could be investigated to some extent today. Plenty of black servicemen are getting it on with East Asian girls in South Korea and Japan. In fact, the local women are one reason why those two assignments are so popular with our men in arms. What kind of African American servicemen are getting lucky in the nightlife around their bases? I would predict that their IQs are closer to 100 than 85.

Recall what I said about the IQ advantage shown by the half-white, half-Japanese family in the Nagoshi and Johnson (1986) study in an above comment. The half-black offspring of these German women would also have enjoyed a heterotic advantage. This effect also seems to evident in the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, although sample size was inadequate for purposes of statistical significance.

Speaking of sample size, look at the table on page 482 of The g Factor. There is a sex difference in the all-white offspring of 8 points. There is no sex difference at all in the large standardization samples of the WISC. This means that these samples are too small to withstand sampling error. And just as sampling error can inflate a small or nonexistent difference, it can obscure or diminish a real difference.

Finally, these children were tested at 5 to 13 years of age. That is far too early for the effects of rearing environment to wash out and the full effects of heredity to kick in.

For all these reasons, the Eyferth (1959) study should be given very little weight, especially in comparison to the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, which is clearly superior in methodology and interpretability.

Our GNXP co-blogger Jason Malloy is preparing a long post reviewing all transracial adoption studies in the literature. Judging by his past work, I expect to be a thorough and conscientious work of scholarship. So stay tuned.

Darth Quixote said...

Actually, I'm not sure what the sample sizes where in the Eyferth study. But whatever they were, the large sex difference among the all-white offspring is a strong indication that something atypical was going on.

The Constructivist said...

Earlier, Steve Sailer commented that "relative to the whole human race you are more related to other members of your racial group than you are related to your first cousin relative to your mutual race." So, going back to TM's discussion of Muslim consanguinity, marrying within your race is just as bad (in the inbreeding sense) as marrying a first cousin? Why do certain kinds of more-inbred gene pools (like Ashkenazi Jews and Japanese, for instance) see a boost in IQ while others see a drop? What am I missing here?

DQ, I was struck by your earlier mention of the Michigan Transracial Adoption study in the same breath as the Nagoshi and Johnson study. Why would black-white multiracial children's IQs look like an average of their parents' IQs, while Japanese-white multiracial children's IQs look higher than the highest parent's IQ?

Just warming up for comments on our next round of debating, which focus on intelligence and IQ testing.

Darth Quixote said...

C, Steve Sailer's comparison is motivated by kin selection, a somewhat esoteric topic in evolutionary biology. But I think I get the point. The key word is relative. How much more closely related is a Japanese person to his first cousin than he is to a random Japanese person? So the ratio of those two degrees of relatedness makes up a unitless, relative number. How much more closely related is this Japanese person to a random Japanese person than to a random member of the human species? If we take the ratio of those two degrees of relatedness, it is comparable to the first ratio. Someone correct me if I'm not getting this right.

If you remember my first comment, I pointed out that families in the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition (I think that's what it was called) were matched for occupational status and educational attainment. That should have matched them to a large extent in IQ. The half-white, half-black children in the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study were taken as is. And their average IQ of 99, which is above the midpoint between the averages for blacks and whites in Minnesota, is consistent with a heterotic effect.

So, to sum up crudely:

black parent with IQ 89 + white parent with IQ 106 = kid with IQ 99

white parent with IQ 115 + Japanese parent with IQ 115 = kid with IQ 119 (ignoring regression to the mean)

TangoMan said...

If you're inclined to expand the reading list a bit, I'd add Amy Chua's World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. Chua, formerly an IMF official, and now a Professor of Law at Yale, illustrates the consequences surrounding the existence of market dominant minorities. She doesn't touch genetics or IQ, and looks strictly at the social realm, and the picture isn't pretty. So regardless of whether you hold there to be any biological reality to race, the social consequences, especially when focused on wealth creation and distribution, can have big impact.

The reason I reference her work is that she is likely foretelling, to some degree, what awaits the US and much of the West. The Washington Post reports today that:

Nearly half of the nation's children under 5 are racial or ethnic minorities, and the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic population is growing so rapidly, according to a census report released today.

Hispanics are the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority group. They accounted for 49 percent of the country's growth from 2004 to 2005, the report shows. And the increase in young children is largely a Hispanic story, driving 70 percent of the growth in children younger than 5. Forty-five percent of U.S. children younger than 5 are minorities.

The new numbers offer a preview of demographic shifts to come, with broad implications for the nation's schools, workforce and Social Security.


What caught my eye in that report was the following quote: William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, predicted that the United States will have "a multicultural population that will probably be more tolerant, accommodating to other races and more able to succeed in a global economy."

What is the empirical evidence that Frey is using as the foundation for this prediction? I don't think drinking multicultural kool-aid is a sufficient foundation upon which to make such predictions, especially in light of evidence to the contrary that abounds in the literature.

The US has enjoyed relative racial stability, believe it or not, because the majority of citizens (white) were also a market dominant majority. We have two important factors at work here 1.) IQ in large part determining socioeconomic status and 2.) Blacks and Hispanics are experiencing higher birthrates. Therefore, we're going to be seeing the White majority slowly moving towards becoming the minority, but because of differentials in IQ, inherited wealth and to make the social constructivists happy, we might as well through in the old bugaboo of racist practices (however defined), we're likely to see that Whites and Asians will retain their market dominance. As the disparity between a group's population proportion and it's market dominance grows, so too is the likely tension within society, for the nation's majority, as is often the case elsewhere in the world, can grow to be very resentful of their own lack of economic progress. It's one thing to point to the majority population as conspiring to keep the minority down, but it's a whole other ballgame when the "minorities" are the majority and it is the oppressed minority that is becoming successful. Chua lays out a number of case studies which illustrate this dynamic and it doesn't matter whether one thinks that race is social construction for it is the on-the-ground results that are being judged. Further, she shows how the market dominant minorities rose to their positions while battling discrimination, 2nd class status, and persecution - they did not attain their status by being the group that wields racist policies. Therefore, it's likely that as more redistribution is implemented in the US to address the growing disparities, that the hand-outs won't be anywhere near sufficient to equalize the outcomes, and as with Chua's case studies, the market dominant minorities will tend to segregate themselves from the rest of their fellow citizens.

Chua avoided introducing genetics and IQ and therefore her analysis falls a bit short though her reporting of the dynamics makes for interesting reading. If the reader realizes that Chua's market dominant minorities also outscore their dominant host population in terms of IQ, then a more developed model can be overlaid on top of Chua's data.

TangoMan said...

Objectivist,

If you're ever in need of an analogy to illustrate the Communist reliance on Blank Slate policies look no further than NCLB, which at its core is Lysenkoist in nature, in that it mandates that students of all races perform to the same standards and ignores biology completely, when we can point to no educational policy anywhere in the world that has achieved this goal. Further, we have 5-year plans laid out, just like the Soviets. Also, we have the managers who will finangle the metrics in order to comply with the goals of the 5-year plan. Next, we have people and institutions who are going to be held accountable for not achieving the plan's goals, despite the fact that the rest of the world also faces the same reality. Read this report from MSNBC and you can see the parallels quite clearly:

The Associated Press reported last month that schools were deliberately not counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students, mostly minorities, when they measure progress by racial groups. Those exclusions have made it easier for schools to meet their yearly goals.

The Constructivist said...

On immigration issues, please check out La Queen Sucia's primer on Hispanics, ethnicity, and race. (Of course, according to the Malkinesque "reconquista" style of paranoia, our immigration problems are a result of a conspiracy by light-skinned Mexicans to export their darker compatriots to the US.)

The Constructivist said...

And if you don't buy a Latina chick-lit blogger's point, this badly formatted essay by Syracuse U philosopher Linda Martin Alcoff from her book, Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self, should do the trick....

The Objectivist said...

Tangoman and Darth Quixote:

Your comments were extremely helpful and much appreciated. I was wondering if there was a cite for the role of intelligence in mating selection.

Also, I'm curious whether you think that the differences in intelligence, sexual frequency, aggression, etc. that Rushton points out are the result of the different selective pressures on the African plains as opposed to the frozen conditions in Asia. In particular, is it the case that the warmer and less threatening conditions provide a better payoff for more reproduction, quicker development, and greater aggression?

Is there a parallel to this in the animal world?

One more question, from what I understand about the biological data, blacks have narrower hips? Is this at all related to the head size of newborns?

In any case, I've learned a great deal from you guys and greatly appreciate your comments.

The Constructivist said...

Still waiting for answers to these questions:

1. Is marrying within your race just as bad (in the inbreeding sense) as marrying a first cousin?

2. Why do certain kinds of more-inbred gene pools (like Ashkenazi Jews and Japanese, for instance) see a boost in IQ while others see a drop?

3. Why would black-white multiracial children's IQs look like an average of their parents' IQs, while Japanese-white multiracial children's IQs look higher than the highest parent's IQ?

Razib said...


1. Is marrying within your race just as bad (in the inbreeding sense) as marrying a first cousin?


depends on how you define "race," but no, not really. this is the short answer, there are a lot of things we don't know about fitness & heterozygosity, outbreeding depression, epistasis, etc. if you are curious, do a search on PUBMED.


2. Why do certain kinds of more-inbred gene pools (like Ashkenazi Jews and Japanese, for instance) see a boost in IQ while others see a drop?


being inbred is orthogonal to IQ. that is, inbreeding depression is usually do to problems like unmasking deleterious alleles (two bad copies) because you share those across the population, or, perhaps less heterozygosity, or, worst, the fixation of deleterious alleles because of random genetic drift. all these can have downward pressure on any given phenotype (height, IQ, etc.), but, it is deviated from the expectation. so, if you have a population with median IQ of 120, and select 10 males and 10 females and breed them, than inbreeding is an immediate problem (drift is basically sampling variance, which is inversely proportional to pop. size), inbreedind depression might drop the IQ 5-10 points (i have see lit. values of 2-4 points for IQ for 1st cousins), but it would still be rather high. also, some populations like japanese might have "purged" more of their genetic load, the bad mutations, because of long term inbreeding (it exposes bad genes in homozygote form more) so that they have bounced from indepressing (this is controversial, i am skeptical).

the answers are complicated, but basically your problem is that you are conceiving of inbreeding has being an essential problem that casts a pall over the whole individual...but it is basically a word we stick to a suite of issues (unmasking deleterious, fixation of deleterious, increased homozygosity) that occur because of low effective population size.

there is debate on weather ashekanzi jews are really that inbred, with a majority consensus being yes, but a minority saying no (depends on the gene you look at), and as for japanese, i think it is debatable that they are "inbred." there is a difference between genetically distinct and being "inbred." some geneticists would say that any effective pop. over 500 isn't really inbred, but that depends on the creature.

3. Why would black-white multiracial children's IQs look like an average of their parents' IQs, while Japanese-white multiracial children's IQs look higher than the highest parent's IQ?

i haven't tracked this thread in detail, but let me take this as a given. an easy genetic explanation could be that the differences between black and white IQ are additive, so that the loci are averaging. the hypothesis for the japanese-white multiracial IQ could be that there is a lot of dominance across loci that differ, so imagine that you have 5 loci,

A, b, C, d, E in japanese

a, B, c, D, e in whites

the capitals are 'dominant.' if you cross a japanese person with a white person, like so:

AA bb CC dd EE X aa DD cc DD ee, you get Aa bB Cc dD Ee in the offspring. if you assume that there is a dominance effect on each locus, you can get an offspring which is superior to the parents because whites and japanese 'complement' each other. this is simplified, and you can imagine all sorts of dynamics like epistasis at work....

Razib said...

i think there is a conflation between two issues here, "inbreeding" as a colloquialism for Fst, which compares variance within and between populations. if you took a population that was 50% swedish and 50% papuan and lumped them together and checked for their genetic variation you would see a higher Fst than if you compared a 50% swedish and 50% german population. but that doesn't mean any of these populations are 'inbred' in the pathological sense where they might be vulnerable to a population crash because of genetic fitness parameters (i.e., mutational meltdown).

The Constructivist said...

Thanks, Razib, just trying to understand Sailer's terminology and its implications.

The Constructivist said...

Note Razib's posting on trying to find the 'mechanism' (so to speak) by which brain size is heritable--apparently one research group found the markers TangoMan was touting earlier to be a dead end. Implications?

TangoMan said...

Take a look at the study design. Also, sit tight for a follow-up study that is in currently underway. Further, note that this study doesn't refute the data on allelic frequency distribution it only attempts to speak to the effect of the alleles. Lahn's conclusion stands unchallenged - the human brain has been subject to evolution since the OOA migration.

TangoMan said...

From the paper:

Subjects who categorized themselves as African American, Middle Eastern or "other" were genotyped, but excluded a priori from statistical analysis because the numbers of subjects with distinct genotypes was insufficient to warrant inclusion

Sample sizes are too small.

Using this approach, which allows for dominance effects, no significant relationship was found between brain volume and ASPM genotype (df=2,
114, P=0.49) or MCPH1 genotype (df=2, 112, P=0.20) when correcting for racial or ethnic category and for sex.


This is like stating that there is no signficant relationship between homelessness and joblessness once we control for income level.

The Constructivist said...

Care to comment on this, anyone?

The Constructivist said...

You guys know of John Wakeley's work? Thoughts on it?

The Constructivist said...

One more request for comments on this study of genetic diversity in Iceland.

The Constructivist said...

Any deep thoughts on the US's shameful infant mortality rate and its #1 status in worldwide imprisonment rates?

TangoMan said...

First off, you have to take with a huge grain of salt any analysis that comes forth from Alas, A Blog. Secondly, much of this problem is an artifact of not comparing the international statistics by race. What they'd see is that the racial rank order with regards to infant mortality is stable. This then leads us to why this is the case. Here we're left with a two factor problem - environment and genetics and we need to discern how much influence each contributes. During the first parsing they should look at rates of multiple birth across race. Jared Diamond reported:

in Asians (average value for 14 populations, 3.9 per 1,000 births, including 4 populations transplanted to Hawaii), than in Caucasians (average for 8 populations, 7,9 per 1,000 births), All but 2 of the 14 Asian values were less than any of the Caucasian values, The differences in dizygotic twin frequency, and presumably ovulation rate, are in the same direction as the differences in testis size. The frequencies of dizygotic twins are even higher (up to 49 per 1,000 births) among African blacks

Next up correlate the infant mortality to the IQ of the mother for we know that lower IQ people have worse health outcomes.

At this point they can start looking to environmental factors, but once they tred onto SES they shouldn't ignore IQ, which is a determinant of SES. Take a look at the Infant Mortality difference between Hispanics and Blacks who share a similar SES environment but have different mean population level IQs. After accounting for the above, the residual effect is the area to which they can try to craft some policy response.

Of course, there also needs to be a correction for IVF treatment.

The problem for the "race doesn't exist" folks is that race is a powerful explanatory factor here, but there's little use in invading their insular little world with this kind of data.

The Constructivist said...

TM, you lost me at the twins. What do rates of multiple births have to do with infant mortality rates? A serious question, no doubt due to my scientific illiteracy!

TangoMan said...

Multiple births are more dangerous for both mother and children. The children are more often underweight and premature which are factors that are significant contributory factors to infant mortality.

The Constructivist said...

So let me get this straight. The infant mortality rate among African Americans is so high that less than 15% of the US population accounts for most of the reason the US rate is so much higher than most other industrialized countries? Forgive a little skepticism on this.

Still waiting for commentary on the 'diversity within' study and the one that questioned links between populations defined by genetic patterns and race.

And hey, doesn't your own retrospective prove that racial realism is a racial project? Race is always constructed out of something--before it was morphology, now it's correlations among alleles.... Given how little we know about gene-environment feedback loops, the relation between genotype and phentype, and the interactions of 'nature' and 'culture,' I think it's still premature to proclaim the new racial science as the last word on racial formation....

The Constructivist said...

TM, you may want to check out the Becker-Posner Blog for their assessments of Russia's attempts to deal with their own demographic time bomb. You should stop wasting your time on such a little league blog as this one and start posting on ones that people actually read! Or, if you find our exchanges valuable, do both! This issue is one where you raise some original and provocative ideas that deserve a much wider audience.

The Constructivist said...

Lisa Gannett has a very smart essay on the ethical limits of population thinking in Philosophy of Science 68.3 (Sept. 2001) S479-S492 that I have access to through JSTOR and can forward to anyone interested. In it, she substantiates many of the GNXPers claims that population geneticists have not given up on but instead have redefined race. However, she rejects the notion that the new racial science is by definition anti-racist or non-racist.

Jenny Reardon has an analysis of the controversy over the Human Genome Diversity Project in Social Studies of Science 31.2 (Jun. 2001) 357-388 (again, available through JSTR and distributable upon request) that's considerably more nuanced than characterizations in this page's comments area suggest. Her account supports my contention that racial realism is a racial project.

Meanwhile, Robin Andreasen tries to find middle ground between racial realism based on population genetics and social constructionist accounts of race in Philosophy of Science 67 (Sept. 2000) S653-S666 (also accessible through JSTR and available upon request) by suggesting that social constructionists should limit their critiques to "common-sense" misconceptions of the biological basis of race. In general, Andreasen is closer to supporting the GNXP project than either Reardon or Gannett but couldn't have responded to the former's constructivist arguments or the latter's anti-racist arguments. I'll check to see if any have published anything more recently and will provide an update here.

The Constructivist said...

Andreasen's earlier essay in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49.2 (Jun. 1998) 199-225 (accessible through JSTOR; available by request) lays out the case for racial realism with significant caveats:

1) human races should be understood as clades or monophyletic groups (ancestor-descendant sequences of breeding populations)
2) 'race' should be defined as a nested hierarchy of monophyletic groups
3) races are dynamic, not static
4) human activity over the pasts everal centuries has been causing race to lose its biological reality
5) races once existed but they may no longer exist
6) there is a way of reconciling some forms of racial realism with some forms of social constructivism

The Constructivist said...

Any comments on this critique of common fallacies by geneticists?

The Constructivist said...

Definitely recommend reading a chapter of Wade (my public library had a copy, so I grabbed it), a chapter of Olsen, and a chapter of Reardon this summer. Quite informative and the differences are quite revealing. TM, I think you were too quick to dismiss Olsen based on a quote or two on a website. His book is older than Wade's and not as detailed or well-organized, but seeing how two major science reporters summarize and speculate on recent findings, where they agree and disagree, how they present debates within and across fields shows how in flux things are. Reardon's analysis of that flux is exemplary, despite her focus on earlier debates for most of the book.

The Constructivist said...

O, you might find this analysis of evolution allusions in recent NY Times pieces interesting.

The Objectivist said...

From Darth Quixote

I mean, I used to be a committed "anti-racist" in college (to the extent of haranguing my parents) before I learned about IQ and so on.

Yes! I used to be the same way. I constantly lectured people about racism and the plight of the disadvantaged--my friends, my parents, everyone. And I didn't just talk the talk. Like GC, I spent literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hours devoted to assisting poor minorities.


When I talk to people whom I haven't talked to in a while, it's embarrassing to have to tell my current views, or at least to inform them that I'm no longer the flaming liberal that I once was. I'm afraid that they'll think I'm psychologically unstable or that I just blow in the wind every which way. Fortunately, I think most of my old friends realize that I'm a sincere person and that it's okay to change your mind.

I was dragged to this position kicking and screaming by the evidence. I mean, *no one* is brought up today to be a "racist" in the circles I grew up in, particularly not children of apolitical nonwhite immigrants. All I ever heard from K-12 and the beginning of college was how evil racists were, and I *surely* didn't want to be part of that crowd.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. When I first began reading about race and IQ, I felt like I was reading Penthouse. Like it was something dirty and disgraceful. There were nights that I literally couldn't sleep. I vaguely feared that I was losing my sanity. It's a tough thing to feel yourself becoming severed from the consensus reality of your community.

Now, we think that actually dealing with reality is the best way to make the world a better place.

Yes, that's true about GNXP. Despite the occasional (okay, frequent) bluff and bluster (we're only human), we still think that a better world than the one that we find ourselves in is possible, and would like to see that world.

The Constructivist said...

Can't wait to see what the GNXP boys (they are all otoko, right?) do with this Time cover story.

The Constructivist said...

Also wondering what they think of Donna Haraway's books like Primate Visions and Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. And if she's written anything on the field Time just covered.

The Constructivist said...

Speaking of the GNXPers, one of them got a quote in this New York Times piece. Guess the reporter couldn't reach us, eh, O?

melpol said...

Imagine 200 thousand Ashkenazi Jews with IQs over 140 driving themselves at a furious pace, is it any wonder why they are successful in every field? Ashkenazi Jews comprise 20% of the one million Americans with an IQ over 140, they are sought after by elite corporations and employed in fields that require high analytic reasoning and the ability to solve complex problems at lightning speed. What makes the gifted Ashkenazi Jew unique is that they are under tremendous pressure to become wealthy enough to feel insulated against a sea of anti-Jewish feelings. They are joyful for not being born a less intelligent Jew who has to live in fear and rarely come out after dark.