Archives for category: human biodiversity

and, incidently, sex. from The Ancestor’s Tale — h/t to the person who linked to this on twitter the other evening. i forgot who it was! (*^_^*) (sorry!) [pgs. 406-408 -- links added by me]:

“It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species and then partition it into a between-race component and a within-race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them. Only a small admixture of extra variation distinguishes races from each other. That is all correct. What is not correct is the inference that race is therefore a meaningless concept. This point has been clearly made by the distinguished Cambridge geneticist A. W. F. Edwards in a recent paper called ‘Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy’. R. C. Lewontin is an equally distinguished Cambridge (Mass.) geneticist, known for the strength of his political convictions and his weakness for dragging them into science at every possible opportunity. Lewontin’s view of race has become near-universal orthodoxy in scientific circles. He wrote, in a famous paper of 1972:

“‘It is clear that our perception of relatively large differences between human races and subgroups, as compared to the variation within these groups, is indeed a biased perception and that, based on randomly chosen genetic differences, human races and populations are remarkably similar to each other, with the largest part by far of human variation being accounted for by the differences between individuals.’

“This is, of course, exactly the point I accepted above, not surprisingly since what I wrote was largely based on Lewontin. But see how Lewontin goes on:

“‘Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. Since such racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance either, no justification can be offered for its continuance.’

“We can all happily aggree that human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. That is one reason why I object to ticking boxes in forms and why I object to positive discrimination in job selection. But that doesn’t mean that race is of ‘virutally no genetic or taxonomic significance’. This is Edwards’s point, and he reasons as follows. However small the racial partition of the total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are are highly correlated with other racial characteristics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance.

“Informative mean something quite precise. An informative statement is one that tells you something you didn’t know before. The information content of a statement is measured as reduction in prior uncertainly. Reduction in prior uncertainty, in turn, is measured as a change in probabilities…. If I tell you Evelyn is male, you immediately know a whole lot of things about him. Your prior uncertainty about the shape of his genitals is reduced (though not obliterated). You now know facts you didn’t know before about his chromosomes, his hormones and other aspects of his biochemistry, and there is a quantitative reduction in your prior uncertainty about the depth of his voice, and the distribution of his facial hair and of his body fat and musculature….

“Now to the question of race. What if I tell you Suzy is Chinese, how much is your prior uncertainty reduced? You now are pretty certain that her hair is straight and black (or was black), that her eyes have an epicanthic fold, and one or two other things about her. If I tell you Colin is ‘black’ this does not, as we have seen, tell you he is black. [he might be mixed race.-h.chick] Nevertheless, it is clearly not uninformative. The high inter-observer correlation suggests that there is a constellation of characteristics that most people recognise, such that the statement ‘Colin is black’ really does reduce prior uncertaintly about Colin. It works the other way around to some extent. If I tell you Carl is an Olympic sprinting champion, your prior uncertainty about his ‘race’ is, as a matter of statistical fact, reduced. Indeed, you can have a fairly confident bet that he is ‘black’.”

of course, don’t forget: there’s more to human biodiversity than just racial differences! see: most of this blog.

see also: Human Genetic Diversity: Lewontin’s Fallacy @wikipedia.

(note: comments do not require an email. ancestor’s tail?)

in chapter two of A Troublesome Inheritance“Perversions of Science” — nicholas wade tracks the histories of several lines of thought about human races which have existed over the last few centuries both within as well as outside of various scientific disciplines. he begins with the earliest biologists such as linnaeus, blumenbach, morton, and darwin; continues on through to spencer and his social darwinism and galton and his ideas on eugenics; describes the application of eugenic policies in the u.s. and europe; and eventually finishes up with the holocaust perpetrated by the nazis.

wade “goes there” since much of the fear expressed by people about human biodiversity and its study seems to be connected to the concern that such knowledge will inevitably lead to (what i would agree are) repugnant practices like the forced sterilization of individuals deemed unfit in some way or another, or officially sanctioned discriminatory practices against the members of one or more groups in society, or even genocide. many people seem to think that if we unleash “the horror that is hbd”, some groups will be told to get to the back of the bus or the ovens will be fired up or even worse.

as is often the case, however, i think that the majority is drawing what i call upside-down-and-backwards conclusions here. human groups haven’t committed injustices or atrocities toward each other thanks to understanding, or even misunderstanding, the biological differences between us all — humans are atrocious to one another because of their (our) biology. sadly, it’s in our nature(s).

the nazis, with their particular understanding of human races, did not invent genocide (although they may have come close to perfecting some truly diabolical techniques there). a simple glance at history and prehistory tells us that human populations have been trying to eliminate “the other” since time immemorial despite not having the slightest info about human biodiversity or biology or even science itself. just a couple of examples: genocidal practices were present in the americas long before europeans ever set foot there, and the mongols (as in ghengis khan and co.) were no strangers to genocide either (see “The Origins of Genocide” chapter here — you might also want to flip through the two volume Dictionary of Genocide if you have the stomach for it).

humans don’t really fight and kill neighboring populations or discriminate against subgroups within their nations — not to mention enslave one another — for any of the goofy ideological, religious, or “moral” excuses that they give. those are mostly just after the fact rationalizations that they’ve come up with (no, really — the human brain is not to be trusted!). like other creatures, humans very often try to eliminate or dominate other groups because they are in competition with them for resources [pdf] — or, at least, feel that they are anyway, whatever the reality on the ground may be. this is a behavioral pattern that we share with many other organisms, including some of our closest relatives, the chimpanzees. chimp groups will “go to war” with neighboring groups — very purposefully ambushing and killing individuals from other bands — in order to gain control over new territory, which means access to additional resources and, therefore, better chances of reproducing (which is, of course, what life is all about). we know very well that our ancestors did the same, and if those that did succeeded in reproducing the most, this violently competitive nature would’ve been selected for in humans. and as most of human history has been one of extreme violence with one group pitted against another, i’d say that this is probably exactly what happened.

i think that we need to work toward a better understanding of the biological roots of human drives and behaviors, both those that are universal to our species and any that might be more prevalant in some groups rather than others (that’s the hbd part), including the negative and violent types described above, in order that we may better be able to put an end to war and killing and genocide, etc. i know. i sound like a miss america contestant now — but i am serious!

people have a tendency to favor their own. we know that. monkeys and beetles and — h*ll! — even plants tend to favor their own. plants! this is how fundamental the us-and-them divide is. if you put a bunch of different sorts of people together, society ceases to function well. robert putnam found this in his extensive research [pdf] — and diverse communities have been shown not to work in twenty million different permutations [pdf]. this is really the best case scenario, though, when it comes to trying to get everybody to just get along: that communities are not so cohesive and that there’s a lack of unity amongst the neighbors. the worst case scenarios are agressive and violent and murderous societies. (these, perhaps, may be avoided by making sure that nations are as ethnically homogeneous as possible. perhaps.) understanding human biology, including human biodiversity, can help us hopefully to prevent both.

for those of you out there who don’t like the idea of biological or genetic explanations for human behaviors — who find them distasteful or potentially dangerous — think instead of research into human biodiversity as a way of ruling out such explanations. if science demonstrates that there are little or no biological reasons for our behaviors and/or little or no reality to human biodiversity, i will be the first to say so — i promise! but as ashutosh jogalekar said in his review of wade’s book: “Science is about ideas, not answers…. A scientific topic cannot be declared off limits or whitewashed because its findings can be socially or politically controversial…” and it definitely should not be off limits when the findings might have the potential to help humanity.

i don’t mean minimize the dangers here or say that they don’t exist. as far as i am concerned, the human species has a despicable record when it comes to how its members treat one another (and other species, for that matter), nor do i see that that much has changed over time (although some groups do seem to have been pacified quite a bit at least when it comes to day-to-day within-group interactions). in future some individuals or groups might use the knowledge of human biodiversity as a rationalization when trying to eliminate or discriminate or otherwise repress other individuals or groups. but as i described above, it won’t have happened because of that knowledge. if they succeed, though, that might be because too many people today ignored biology and human biodiversity.

previously: hbd fallout
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p.s. – still updating my A Troublesome Inheritance linkfest. don’t miss the latest links there!

(note: comments do not require an email.)

if you’re not on twitter, and even if you are, you may have missed this. in response to social anthropologist a.j. west’s post ‘HBD’, misdreavus has pretty much completely — and valiantly! — explained ALL of the whys and wherefores of human biodiversity in just six short paragraphs.

if you’re on twitter and not following misdreavus, you should be! and if you’re not on twitter, you should get on twitter JUST to follow misdreavus! (^_^)

his comments @west’s blog start here. i’ve only cut-and-pasted some of them here — there’s more on west’s blog. much more. you should definitely head over there and read them all!

note that misdreavus never mentions that hbd is a political or social or ideological movement. THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S NOT! (all emphases are misdreavus’ — except for the all caps in the previous sentence. yes, that was me SHOUTING! (*^_^*) )

“The scientific basis behind so-called ‘human biodiversity’ (or HBD) is blessedly simple in its obviousness, albeit one that goes shockingly under-acknowledged by most who call themselves authorities in the human sciences. We already have enough evidence that genetic variation in the human species must account, in some non-trivial way, for the variation in phenotypic diversity we see among the major extant human populations living today. By that I refer not only to salient differences such as the height gap between Aka Pygmies and Congolese Bantus, or that fact that west Africans have more prognathous jaws than northern Europeans, but also artifacts of our biochemistry such as Type II diabetes (which usually correlates with obesity) or alcohol metabolism (a large percentage of east Asians have abtabuse built into their genomes — Greenland Inuits don’t). Of course. We get it. There is inter-ethnic (or inter-demic, or inter-population — feel free to choose whatever taxonomic subdivision *du jour* is fashionable these days among the PC crowd) variation for virtually every single trait for which there exists variation among members of a single ethnic group: no two Irishmen have noses that are exactly the same shape, and neither do any two races, on average. No two Koreans have skin color that is exactly the same hue, and there is a vast gap in skin color between Norwegians and Dinka. No two Russians are of exactly the same height — not even identical twins, and virtually every single Swede is taller than every single Mbuti pygmy. This much is obvious to anyone with an unimpaired frontal lobe.

“And we can extend this reasoning not only to the aforementioned physical traits (and much more), but also cognitive skills, however they are defined in every single culture — for virtually every single behavioral trait *ever* documented among human beings is heritable. We know that two children who are reared by the same pair of parents can be *strikingly* different in their behavior and temperament, and that these differences almost always persist long past childhood. It matters not how ‘personality’ and ‘temperament’ are defined, or that there are not, never have been, and likely never will be any precise definitions of these terms that are useful to psychological science. (Let us avail ourselves of the postmodernist obscurantism, trenchant reality denial, and casual know-nothingness that you decried earlier in a post about social anthropology. It is enough for us to acknowledge that no two humans are alike in behavior, and that the human mind is not a blank slate.) Behavioral differences between any two people, even identical twins, manifest themselves starting from birth, and they only magnify throughout the lifespan. Not surprisingly, it has been demonstrated that babies from different ethnic groups also demonstrate behavioral differences from the cradle. East Asian babies, on average, tend to remain placid and calm when a soft cloth is dropped over their faces — west African and European babies are the polar opposite. See here.

“If, indeed, it is the case that human beings vary in behavior, and if it has been proven that much of this variation in behavior may be attributed to hereditary causes, then *this alone is sufficient to demonstrate that heredity must explain some of the variation in cognition between any two human populations who vary in their evolutionary history*. Well, has this been proven? Of course it has. ‘Heritability’, as the term is implemented in quantitative genetics, refers to the portion of variation in a phenotype within a population that may be attributed to heritable differences, given a certain range of genotypes and phenotypes: H^2 = Var(G)/Var(P). The classical twin study, as much as it is ballyhooed by idiots in the social sciences who are reality-averse, has provided heritability estimates for a wide array of psychological dimensions ranging from IQ and its subscores (visuospatial, verbal, mathematical, etc.), to reaction time, to the ‘big 5′ (e.g. extraversion/intraversion, neuroticism, etc.), to all psychiatric disorders (e.g. autism, schizophrenia), to what brand of cereal you prefer in the morning, and much more. In virtually all cases, these heritability estimates are higher than zero — often substantially higher than zero. They are not only consistent with studies of identical twins reared apart, but also longitudinal adoption studies: studies with sample sizes ranging in the multiple thousands have demonstrated consistently that adopted children, even when adopted during early infancy, resemble their biological parents to a vastly higher degree than they resemble the adults who actually raised them (i.e. ‘adoptive’ parents).

“And one of the most common, and in fact the overarching application of heritability estimates is evolution. Heritability estimates tell you precisely how much a trait will change in a population, over time, as a response to selection. In other words, if the smallest 25% of all cattle in a herd failed to reproduce every generation, how much would you expect that trait to increase over time? Given even modest selection on any trait from height, to violence, to ‘visuospatial IQ’, to extroversion, and much more — just about how much heritable variation would you expect see between the disparate human populations on Earth since the time we migrated out of east Africa?

“The answer is obvious. if you have read ‘The 10,000 Year Explosion’ by Cochran and Harpending (which I’m not sure you have), the authors provide ample evidence that substantial heritable change is possible in the relative blink of an eye — hundreds or thousands of years, not just tens of thousands. (Evolutionarily speaking, of course.) It is a trivial matter to ensure that a population, twenty generations from now, will be on average as bright as the brightest 2% within that population today. Today’s Scandinavians are not yesterday’s Vikings. Han Chinese in Sichuan Province today are not genetically exchangeable with Chinese during the reign of the first Qin Emperor. Swedes are not Norwegians, Egyptian Copts are not Muslims, and Hejazi Arabs are not Najdi Arabs. I could belabor this point ad nauseam, but I believe I have made my point sufficiently clear.

“Of course, this is not to say that all of the variation in behavior you see among human beings is hereditary in origin. Nobody ever claimed that — a heritability estimate below 1.0 proves some source of variation that is exogenous to the germ plasm, or perhaps a statistical artifact that is generated in the process of (imperfectly) measuring the trait in question.”

(^_^)
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the big m also had something to say about the ideas tossed around on this blog (thanks, misdreavus!). i’m thinking i’m gonna just hand the reigns over to him, because he’s summarized the theory (with a small “t”) better than i can! (~_^)

“You also misrepresent some of the basic claims of some of the bloggers in the HBD sphere. HBD-chick, for one, who does a lot of blogging about consanguineous marriages and its implications for human evolution. You claim:

“‘That account also makes bizarre claims, like the idea that altruism is greater in societies that have complex marriage systems and that ‘marry out’ of the family unit – because, apparently, when you marry out of your circle for generation after generation, everyone you meet is almost guaranteed to be your relative and therefore worthier of compassion!’

“No. The point is that human populations vary considerably, throughout the ages, in the *degree and prevalence of consanguineous marriages*, and that basic arithmetic would show you that this will increase the relatedness of two members within an extended family beyond what may be expected from random mating. The Gulf Arabs have been marrying their cousins for *centuries*, and this practice possibly dates earlier than the prophet Muhammad — Norwegians and Danes *haven’t*. This means that Saudis, on average, are much more inbred than your typical northern European, and that this difference can be measured through segments of DNA that are ‘IBD’ (identical by descent) — Arabs share a lot more of these than ethnic groups where cousin marriage is taboo.

“The coefficients of relatedness work somewhat like this: normally, your brother shares half of your DNA that is identical by descent, as do your biological parents. Your nieces and nephews share 1/4. Your cousins share 1/8. So on, and so forth. Hamilton’s laws demonstrate altruism (e.g. reducing your own fitness, on the behalf of someone other than yourself) can boost an organism’s fitness, on average, if the recipient of the altruism increases *its fitness* in a way that is commensurate with the relatedness of the altruist and the recipient. In other words, rB > c.

“Imagine that by sacrificing your life to save your brother who is drowning, you thereby ensure that your brother would have three additional children that he would not have otherwise had, had he been permitted to sink (and drown). On average, this would ensure a net benefit of fitness for yourself, despite the fact that you have totally abandoned the carrier of your genes (your body) by sacrificing yourself on behalf of your brother. Why? Because 3 multipled by 1/2 (the fraction of genes that your brother, on average, shares in common with you) is greater than 1. You will have increased your contribution to the gene pool. And any alleles that promote such an altruistic behavior on behalf of a person, for his blood relatives, should increase in frequency through selection. This is especially the case for populations that have been inbreeding throughout the ages — because brothers, in this circumstance, are more related to each other than ordinary brothers.

“The idea is that this sort of consanguinity would increase the fitness rewards for altruism *on behalf of blood relatives* to an unusually high degree that is absent among populations that have been out-breeding. In other words, it increases the odds of nepotism, clannishness, and feuding between clans, among other anti-social behaviors that make a civil society very difficult, among other destructive consequences. (Without peeking, who is more likely to help his brother cheat on a standardized test to qualify for a job — the average Najdi Arab, or the average Finn?)

“For societies that have been deliberately *outbreeding*, the exact opposite scenario occurs — distant relatives, whether you realize it consciously or not, are more related to you than they would be in a society with perfectly random mating, and hence you see higher levels of the low-degree altruism that makes the sort of society you see in Woebegon Lake or Sweden possible. The idea is that Swedes are much more willing to sacrifice their fitness in a modest way on behalf of complete strangers who are members of their ethnic group, e.g. by paying higher taxes, and that this tendency has been selected for since the introduction of Christianity during the medieval era, which forbade consanguineous marriages throughout much of western Europe. Like I said earlier. You only need hundreds of years to see a noticeable change.

“If you remain skeptical of this theory, all is fine, but let me tell you something — it does a decent job explaining why the Swedish welfare state works perfectly fine for Scandinavians, but results in utter dysfunction for Somali refugees. It explains why democracy persistently fails in certain parts of the world, despite billions of dollars spent on aid, foreign advisers, and the best advice of seasoned policymakers — some people don’t give a damn about people outside their extended family, and you can’t change that. It explains why there is a west-east cline in Europe for corruption, social trust, and civic mindedness, inasmuch as they can be measured by political scientists — Ukrainians are much more corrupt than the Norwegians, and they’ve been this way for a long time. It does NOT say that all human behavior is genetically mediated, or that altruism is automatically greater in societies were people have been marrying unrelated persons.”

everyone should be skeptical of this theory! i am. (or, at least, i try to keep reminding myself to be. (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. misdreavus?)

continuing on from the other day, jamie bartlett and timothy stanley are flat-out wrong that human biodiversity (hbd) is “neo-fascist” “bad science.” human biodiversity is simply the diversity found among and between human populations that has a biological basis. that’s all. yes, that most likely includes some degree of biological variation affecting the measurable difference in intelligence between individuals and various populations, but it’s early days yet on that front, and we barely know what exactly that biological variation entails. i’m sure the chinese will let us know all about it soon enough.

bartlett is sorta right about one thing, though (see his fourth paragraph here): that many who accept human biodiversity, many individuals on the political right, obsess over the racial differences in iq. he’s wrong to claim that the research that has found average differences in iq by race is pseudoscience, and he’s wrong to claim (indirectly as he does) that races don’t exist, but he is right about the obsess part.

now, i am the LAST person who should criticize anybody for obsessing about any one thing (see: most of this blog), but i’m going to anyway. if you accept that humans exhibit biologically based diversity, then you’d better be prepared to accept ALL of it. here’s the problem: too many of the people who obsess over the racial differences in iq DON’T want to accept — or often even think about! — OTHER facts, or possible facts, related to hbd. especially about their own kind.

as misdreavus tweeted…

misdreavus 01 sm

…and…

misdreavus 02 sm

quite so.
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here’s an example. try — just try! — bringing up the apparent average differences in iq between the sub-populations of europeans and see what happens. i dare ya! (~_^) [map stolen from jayman.]:

jayman's map

too many (imho) in the hbd-o-sphere don’t want to hear it (while, meanwhile, there is this obsession over racial differences in iq). never mind that human accomplishments from europe map extremely well onto the average iq distributions (although i think there’s possibly more to it than just iq):

charles murray - human accomplishment map - european core

here’s another more personal example. i happen to be an agnostic when it comes to the existence of a god(s). functionally i’m an atheist, and i almost never think about the topic, but i can’t see how we can know whether or not there is a god(s). what if he is omnipotent? then, of course, he’d be able to hide his existence from us, right? (don’t answer that — i really don’t want to get into a discussion about religious belief.) that seems very logical to me — it just seems right — but we know that religious belief is highly heritable, so this is probably just my genes talking — my “genes for neuroticism” maybe (i’m such a neurotic (~_^) ).

my point is that, while my agnosticism seems logical to me, i’m probably just born this way. and i need to keep that in mind. i really do. i should also remember that a lot of my other “logical conclusions” might not be so logically based either.

and so should you — about your own conclusions, i mean.

we should rely, instead, on what science tells us (see end of post).
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the obsession about racial differences in iq in some circles of the hbd-o-sphere is all about confirmation bias, of course, which all humans are prone to (yes, even me!) — although some more than others in my experience. people see what they want to see and disregard the rest. i’m going to quote that pessimistic pothead john derbyshire on this, ’cause the dude is like toootally awesome on these sorts of things [pg. 154]:

“Researchers like Tversky and Kahneman have identified dozens of different kinds of bias. Some of them have leaked out to become common knowledge: *confirmation bias*, for example — the tendency to give extra weight to facts that support our predesired conclusion….

“Can we correct our biases? That depends on whom you ask. The overall picture that emerges from the cognitive science researchers of the last half century is one of a brain that struggles to cope with reality, and rarely does very well at it.

“Worse yet: Its not doing very well may be *adaptive*. That’s a term of art in biology. A trait is adaptive if an organism that possesses this trait gets a reproductive edge thereby over an organism that doesn’t.

“Researchers like S. Taylor and J. Brown (‘Illusion and Well-being, 1988) have found that a moderate degree of self-deception is normal in mentally healthy people, and is likely adaptive. Contrariwise:

“‘[I]t appears to be not the well-adjusted individual but the individual who experiences subjective distress who is more likely to process self-relevant information in a relatively unbiased and balanced fashion.’

“To put it slightly differently: Up to a point, the more depressed and maladjusted you are, the more likely it is that you are seeing things right, with minimal bias.”

oh, dear. =/

so, it’s asking too much, i know, and it’s not fair of me — humans are given to cognitive biases, they are a part our nature, and we will never get rid of them (not without a really stringent genetic engineering program, anyway!) — but, as a favor to me, if you are interested in and/or accepting of the principles of human biodiversity, please try to be open to all sorts of hbd possibilites, even the ones that seem to go against yourself or your own group. try.

by way of demonstration, going back to the average differences in iq between europeans, my own european ethnic group doesn’t have a very high average iq. no one from my group invented the steam engine or the microprocessor and we sure as h*ll weren’t the first people to travel into space. on top of it, we’re one of the piigs. those are the facts. that’s just how it is. no point in pretending otherwise. (i could also mention all of the male-female differences, too, of course, but i really can’t get engaged in that discussion, it’s just so…obvious.) and there are undoubtedly biological reasons for this lack of achievement from my group. see? what i’m asking is possible, although probably more difficult for some than others. but we’re not going to solve any of humanity’s problems without the truth, so we should at least try. a bit. who knows? maybe we’ll succeed — a bit.

and remember: focus your attention on scientific results that have been successfully reproduced — and focus your attention on scientific results that enable us to make predictions about individuals/populations. these are good indicators that science has actually been done. (please note that most of what i discuss on this blog — my own interest in inbreeding/outbreeding/etc. — is NOT science. it’s just an idea. i’m NOT doing science.)

that is not to say that speculation and theorizing have no place in hbd discussions! rather to the contrary, speculate away! and obsess away! just be clear about when you are speculating — and remember not to obsess to the exclusion of everything else hbd.

thank you. (^_^)

previously: in the dark about the dark enlightenment

(note: comments do not require an email. be careful with science, too! (~_^) )

so, there were a couple of hit pieces on the dark enlightenment — and human biodiversity — in the telegraph this week:

“Meet The Dark Enlightenment: sophisticated neo-fascism that’s spreading fast on the net”

“It started, suitably enough, with two blogs. Mencius Moldbug, a prolific blogger and computer whizz from San Francisco, and Nick Land, an eccentric British philosopher (previously co-founder of Warwick University’s Cybernetic Culture Research Unit) who in 2012 wrote the eponymous ‘The Dark Enlightenment’, as a series of posts on his site. You can find them all here.

“The philosophy, difficult to pin down exactly, is a loose collection of neo-reactionary ideas, meaning a rejection of most modern thinking: democracy, liberty, and equality. Particular contempt is reserved for democracy, which Land believes ‘systematically consolidate[s] and exacerbate[es] private vices, resentments, and deficiencies until they reach the level of collective criminality and comprehensive social corruption.’

The neo-fascist bit lies in the view that races aren’t equal (they obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences, like the Ku Klux Klan) and that women are primarily suited for domestic servitude. They call this ‘Human biodiversity’ – a neat little euphemism….

no, they don’t — or that’s not what human biodiversity means, anyway — but never let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?

“This links directly to their desire to be rid of democracy: because if people aren’t equal, why live in a society in which everyone is treated equally? Some races are naturally better to rule than others, hence their support for various forms of aristocracy and monarchy (and not in the symbolic sense but the very real divine-right-of-kings-sense).

this particular blog post (the piece appears in the telegraph’s blog section) was written by jamie bartlett who is at the u.k. think-tank demos. (demos was founded by a guy who had been editor of “Marxism Today,” the “theoretical magazine of the Communist Part of Great Britain,” so i’m sure there are no biases at demos, right??)

on twitter, and on the telegraph, bartlett describes himself as “Director of Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at Demos”. which is true. but on the demos website, he’s also — firstly — described as being the “Head of the Violence and Extremism Programme” and that his “primary research interests are: terrorism, extremism and social media analysis…”, so, you know — he’s obviously got a hard-on for The Bad Guys. (i don’t know at all whether he does or not, but i hope he’s keeping an eye on left-wing extremists, too!)

the other article (blog post) was by tim stanley:

“The ‘neo-fascist’ Dark Enlightenment is more sad than scary”

“Jamie reports that there is a ‘neo-fascist’ element to this because they ‘obsess over IQ testing and pseudoscience that they claim proves racial differences’. Presumably, this is because they are anti-egalitarian and would argue that nature makes us unequal, which is one more reason why democracy is a sham. The weak and idiotic ally together to form a majority and rip off the intelligent minority. Now, can anyone remember who John Galt is…?

“That these ‘neo-reactionaries’ admire monarchies is what makes they seem way-out and new….

“However, there is a distinctly unlibertarian note of crazy about the neo-reactionary interest in IQ. Aside from the bad science and the irony of being anti-statist yet sympathetic to the idea that you can measure intelligence and use it to justify social policy – it does also set off ‘white rights’ alarms bells….

“*There is no line to be walked between reason and racism.* Racism and biological determinism are unscientific and immoral, and they have no place in a sane philosophy.”

yeah, i know — even more confused than bartlett’s blog post. but, then, stanley is under the impression that lactose intolerance is a preference and not something biological:

tim stanley tweet

dr. stanley is an historian, which is great! i’m all for knowing and understanding as much as possible about history. but i think he really does need to put down the history books for a few weeks and read up on biology. might actually help him understand human history a bit more!
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so, the dark enlightenment = neoreaction = monarchism = human “bad science” diversity = neo-fascism.

NOT!

lemme see if i can help to clear this all up for these fellows.

last time i checked, which admittedly was over half a year ago, the dark enlightenment was a broad, umbrella term for several current schools of thought, one of them being neo-reaction, a subset of those being monarchists. what everyone in the dark enlightenment shares in common is an understanding and acceptance of human biodiversity, i.e. the diversity found among and between human populations that has a biological basis. (i pretty much stole that lovely, succint definition from caitlin s. i’ll be writing more on what, exactly, human biodiversity is in the coming weeks — apparently the world needs that — so stay tuned those of you who don’t know already!)

sharlach drew up a really great map of the dark enlightenment for the nsa all of us last april (there might be a more updated map — i dunno — i haven’t been following the discussion that closely – click on map for LARGER view):

darkenlightenment1

see? there’s more to the dark enlightenment than monarchist neo-reactionaries. not that there’s anything wrong with monarchist neo-reactionaries! god luv ‘em. i just happen not to be one of them. (unless, of course, i get to be queen — and get to wear outfits like queen elizabeth’s. the first one, i mean.)
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the term “the dark enlightenment” is clearly a reference to the enlightenment, and i’ve always thought the meaning would be fairly obvious: the conclusions of the eighteenth century enlightenment thinkers were pretty much based upon ideas like “man is a rational creature” and “all men are created equal.” the problem is, today’s science is showing over and over again that neither of those two premises is correct — far from it (unfortunately)! humans are not rational and we don’t all have the same abilities. these revelations (from science) are disappointing, ergo the use of “dark” as our descriptor.

additionally, the enlightenment didn’t spawn just one political or social ideology, it gave rise to many. same with the dark enlightenment. you and i might agree on the facts of human biodiversity, but we might have different ideas as to how to apply that knowledge: some go for redistributing wealth more from the capable to the not-so-capable, some might suggest ways to improve education, others might just want to enhace their pick-up-artistry skillz. so, not everyone connected to the dark enlightenment are “neo-fascists” — although my guess is that the use of the word by bartlett and stanley was just meant as an insult.

when nick land first coined the term, many folks in these quarters of the internet objected for various reasons. i liked the term right away — still do! but, then, like this other chick, i’ve always been rather drawn to the dark side. (shut-up, roissy! (~_^) )

update: see also mr. mangan’s Criticism of neoreaction

previously: dark enlightenment roadmap

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you may have seen these howard schatz photos floating around on the internet the past couple of days. (if you did, you spend too much time online! — if you didn’t, you don’t spend enough time online!) i lifted the ones below from imgur.

all different sizes and shapes of people! neat! (^_^)

left to right: gymnastics, high jump (of course!), trampoline, high jump, triple jump, wrestling [click on images for LARGER views]:

howard schatz 01

long distance running, marathon (i love this guy!), decathalon, marathon (him, too!), running (800m):

howard schatz 02

rhythmic gymnastics (oww!!), sport aerobics (huh?), gymnastics, gymnastics, high jump (uh…yeah), gymnastics:

howard schatz 03

bodybuilding, weightlifting, weightlifting(!), rhythmic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics:

howard schatz 04

there’s more @imgur. and on howard schatz’s website.

previously: you, too, can become the fastest man on earth!

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well! i’m making progress on reading avi tuschman‘s very interesting Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us [see previous post] — ’bout halfway through now (on chapter 11 out of 23). it’s not actually a difficult book to read, it’s just that real life keeps getting in the way of my virtual one (d*mnit, i hate when that happens!).

tuschman is interested in finding out the personality and behavioral traits underlying liberal and conservative political orientations AND the evolutionary bases for those traits. i’m all for that!

while he does draw on all sorts of research into the differing personality/behavioral traits of liberals and conservatives — and those interested in hbd will be familiar with most of them, like for instance that conservatives tend to be more religious — the main framework that tuschman bases his ideas upon is robert altman’s bob altemeyer‘s “right-wing authoritarianism (RWA)” personality theory, a whole construct that, up until the other day, i knew nothing about. you can read all about the RWA scale on wikipedia.

here from tuschman [chapter 5 - my emphases]:

“Altemeyer’s test consists of thirty controversial statements. Figure 10 breaks down the content of these statements into six categories. Each bar represents one of these content categories and shows the percentage of the thirty statements that makes reference to it.

tuschman - figure 10

“The six content categories, in turn, can be lumped into three larger groups: the grey cluster, the black cluster, and the white cluster. The three categories within the grey cluster are ethnocentrism, religiosity/group morality, and sexual tolerance. These are the three elements that comprise the ‘tribalism‘ cluster of personality traits.

“The two categories in the black cluster measure tolerance of inequality: the first concerns attitudes toward inequality and authority in society, while the second category pertains to inequality and authority within the family.

“The white personality cluster has only one category, which measures perceptions of human nature.”

these three larger groups — tribalism, tolerance of inequality, and perceptions of human nature — are the foundations of tushman’s “personality argument”:

“Human political orientation across space and time has an underlying logic defined by three clusters of measurable personality traits. These three clusters consist of varying attitudes toward tribalism, inequality, and different perceptions of human nature.

“These three factors correspond, of course, to the grey, black, and white color groups in figure 10. To go into slightly greater detail:

- Tribalism. Tribalism breaks down into ethnocentrism (vs. the opposite force, xenophilia, which means an attraction to other groups), religiosity (vs. secularism), and different levels of tolerance toward nonreproductive sexuality.

- Tolerance of Inequality. There are two opposing moral worldviews toward inequality; one is based on the principle of egalitarianism, and the other is based on hierarchy.

- Perceptions of Human Nature. Some people see human nature as more cooperative, while others see it as more competitive.”

most of the book is devoted to looking in depth at these three factors and how their various facets correspond to either liberal or conservative personalities. tuschman’s approach is very systematic (i like it a lot!): one section (containing several chapters), for instance, deals with how the different feelings of tribalism play out in human societies, and then the following section (also containing several chapters) deals with the likely/possible evolutionary underpinnings of those feelings/behaviors. this format is repeated for all three factors.

i’ll probably discuss some of these factors — and what tuschman has to say about them — individually in later posts (don’t want to discuss them all, though — mustn’t give away the plot of the book! (~_^) ). but first i want to back up for a sec and discuss altemeyer’s right-wing authoritarianism stuff, since tuschman’s framework is primarily based upon that — although, as i said, he does draw a LOT of evidence from other sources as well.
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altemeyer’s RWA work (and this is just a hoot to read about!) is based upon the previous work of theodor adorno (frankfurt school), et al., who wanted to find out why some people became nazis (real nazis in wwii). they devised an “f(ascist)-scale” and everything. their work was later heavily criticized. (see also “The Authoritarian Personality.”)

anyway…

altemeyer’s new-and-improved authoritarianism scale — which, like its predecessor, only focuses on conservatives — apparently has three “clusters” of personality traits which are summarized thusly [chapter 4 -- tuschman references altemeyer's Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism]:

(1) Authoritarian Submission — a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives;

(2) Authoritarian Aggression — a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities; and

(3) Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

heh! well, i’m sorry, but — and this, no doubt, reflects my own somewhat conservative personality and biases — but the first group of people that i thought of on reading that description was today’s politically correct liberals! the militant ones, i mean.

“high degree of submission to authorities who are perceived to be established/legitimate?” who? like st. stephen jay gould? or jared diamond? or richard dawkins? (pardon my focus on academics there, but that is the universe that i inhabit. well, one of them!)

“general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, perceived to be sanctioned by est. authorities?” what? like watsonings? or richwinings? or derbyshearings?

“high degree of adherence to the social conventions?” all of political correctness!

and if we are to think about authoritarianism and politics and the sorts of political regimes that are authoritarian in nature — and supported by the hordes — sure there are right-wing examples like nazi germany and franco’s spain, but what about stalin’s russia and mao’s china?! not to mention east germany (where the stasi chief even had an actual room 101!).

i’m sorry, but i can’t help but think that authoritarianism — including personality types that favor authoritarianism — also occurs on the left. a ten-second google search shows me that left-wing authoritarianism has both been researched and found to exist — something which tuschman, unfortunately, doesn’t mention in the book.

the authors of The Presence of Left-Wing Authoritarianism in Western Europe and Its Relationship with Conservative Ideology found authoritarian traits — measured by willingness to use violence (aggression) and needing to obey left-wing leaders (submission) — in extremist left-wingers in belgium (flemish belgium) in the country’s communist party, but especially in the country’s stalinist(!) party. (interestingly, the members of an anarchist movement in the nation who were studied were not authoritarian in nature.) from the paper:

“The present results suggest the presence of authoritarianism among Western European adherents of extreme left-wing parties. Particularly the adherents of the Stalinist party obtained high LWA scores. So, it seems that we achieved in finding ‘the Loch Ness Monster of political psychology.’ The LWA scale not only proved to be successful in distinguishing anarchists and extreme left-wingers from the other ideological groups (the authoritarian aggression facet is most fruitful for this purpose), but also in distinguishing extreme left-wingers from anarchists (the authoritarian submission facet is most fruitful for this purpose). The discriminatory power to distinguish between left-wing extremists, anarchists, and other ideological groups underscores the validity of the aggression and submission facet scales. However, these results also make it clear that the presence of LWA in Western societies seems to be limited to very specific political movements that do not elicit much support in the mass public.”

the presence of left-wing authoritarianism might be limited in western european societies, but you find much more of it in eastern europe! from Left-wing authoritarianism is not a myth, but a worrisome reality. Evidence from 13 Eastern European countries:

“Using representative samples the relationship between authoritarianism and political preferences was examined in 13 excommunist Eastern European countries. Employing six different indicators of left-wing/communist political orientations made clear that, despite cross-national differences, left-wing authoritarianism is definitely not a myth in Eastern Europe….

“Interesting is also the intra-regional variation regarding the relation between authoritarianism and political ideology.”

i feel a hajnal line map coming on. (~_^)

“In Bulgaria and Russia, for example, authoritarianism is consequently linked with communist/political left-wing preferences regardless of which indicator is used; while in a country like Hungary almost no evidence was found for left-wing authoritarianism. This is in line with Todosijevic and Enyedi’s (2008a) conclusion that leftist authoritarians do exist in Hungary, but they are few and their presence is overshadowed by the authoritarianism of the anticommunist right. Also Enyedi et al. (1997) conclude that the phenomenon of left-wing authoritarianism, though present in Hungary, is less significant than its rightist counterpart….

“[A]uthoritarians in Central and Eastern European countries embrace communist principles and that they hold negative attitudes towards democracy….

“The existence of left-wing authoritarianism has been debated for about six decades. Many authors believed that authoritarianism is essentially a right-wing phenomenon. Most of the evidence comes from studies conducted in Western countries; while the members of the American Communist Part have always been treated as highly deviant (Krugman, 1952). Also Altemeyer (1981) described radical leftists in countries like Canada and the United States as not submissive to established authorities and not conventional. Therefore we believe that the fact that thus far not a lot of evidence is found for left-wing authoritarianism is not due to nonexistence of left-wing authoritarianism, but is due to the fact that we have not looked at the right places.
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i’m not sure, yet, what the existence of left-wing authoritarianism — and the fact that tuschman didn’t include it in his book — means for tuschman’s model of our political natures. i need to finish reading the book first — and to think more about it all, too. one thing is certain: i’m more than a bit dubious about using the right-wing authoritarianism model as a basis for looking at the differences between liberals and conservatives. i fear too many things might be missing from that picture, as is evidenced by the two random studies on left-wing authoritarianism that i pulled off the internet.

previously: our political nature and human biodiversity and well this sounds familiar…

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just started reading avi tuschman‘s Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us. so far it’s very good! mind you, i’ve only read the first two chapters (there are twenty-three altogether). (~_^)

according to tuschman, his goal in writing this book is [from the preface - my emphasis]:

“[T]o paint a compelling and accurate portrait of our nature as political animals. Today’s political commentators would have us believe that we vote based on our views about the main issues of the day, on our economic circumstances, or on our longtime affiliations with this political party or that. That’s wrong, or at least incomplete. Step by step, I will explain that our political orientations are not simply intellectual constructs, flowing from our upbringing, our schooling, our peer groups, or which newspapers we read. No, our political orientations are actually natural dispositions, molded within each of us by powerful evolutionary forces.

excellent!

in the first two chapters, tuschman reviews some of the major research out there which has found that personality is largely innate and that personality strongly influences our political orientations (left-wing or right): the blocks’ study showing that personality at age four strongly correlates with political orientation as an adult (in one’s 20s) [pdf], for example, and alford et al.’s twin studies which showed that identical twins reared apart have very much the same political orientations [pdf], and so on.

well, he doesn’t need to persuade me! (~_^) left and right — we are “born this way.”

furthermore, tuschman says we’ll find these innate left/right personalities in all societies. he draws, though, what i think is a slightly awkward comparison between all of the rebellious folks in the arab spring and the occupy wall street movement in the western world [chapter 1]:

“[I]t was precisely Basboosa’s [the tunisian man who immolated himself triggering the so-called arab spring] moral *rejection of inequality* that activated one of these universal hot buttons residing within him, and within so many of his compatriots. And this is why his story resonated with a critical mass of people in the Middle East, for whom Basboosa symbolized the humble, well-meaning common man systematically abused by government fiat and corruption.

“Now, the story of Basboosa might seem rather remote to many American readers. But the same hidden trigger at play in the Middle East underlies the concurrent transformation of the political landscape in the United States. As the Arab Spring was unfolding, the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement emerged on the far left of the US spectrum. The demonstrators in New York shouting, ‘We are the 99 percent!’ were railing not against Middle Eastern dictators, but rather against bankers and large corporations. And yet the same issue that ignited the Arab Spring had inspired and galvanized their movement: a moral rejection of economic and social *inequality*.”

well, yeah … sort of … maybe. but i’m not certain that there are equally as many individuals in tunisia — or north africa — concerned about equality for everybody as there are in the united states or western europe. there might be a lot of people p*ssed off in the arab world/middle east/north africa that they, personally, experience so much corruption in their daily lives and that they and their families are often cheated by others, but are they really morally rejecting economic and social inequality to the same degree that, say, a swede does? i dunno, but it’s worth asking.

just looking quickly at one set of responses from the world values survey [1981-2002 waves] to the question…

“How would you place your views on this scale? – Incomes should be made more equal vs We need larger income differences as incentives.”

…we find that north africans are very much for GREATER income inequality [click on chart for LARGER view]:

wvs - income equality

i think it would be very safe to bet that different populations will vary not only in the numbers/proportions of leftists vs. rightists found within them but also in how liberal or conservative their left- or right-wingers are.

but i think i’m getting ahead of tuschman and that he’s actually going to get to this later in the book. for instance, in chapter two, he does say:

“What happened when groups of very different genetic backgrounds live in the same environment? In this case, each group’s average personality scores differed according to the *origin of their ancestors*. For example, the personality traits of white South Africans clustered closer to the Swiss, while black South Africans had personalities more similar to Zimbabweans. Likewise, groups that have traditionally lived in geographically adjacent territories have more similar average personalities than groups separated by large distances.”

so i should prolly finish reading the book before i say any more on this. (^_^)

previously: well this sounds familiar…

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