hbd and politics

there is no logical, inevitable political stance that follows from having an awareness of human biodiversity.

let me repeat that.

there is NO logical, inevitable political stance that follows from having an awareness of human biodiversity.

i know it seems as though any person would naturally turn into a conservative on becoming aware of hbd, but that’s just not true. and i say that being something of a conservative myself. (maybe. i dunno. you tell me!) it just seems that way because, for some inexplicable reason, left-wing politics nowadays has become all wrapped up with political correctness, and, of course, if you’re pc, everybody is the same, yada, yada, yada.

this wasn’t always the case. for instance, super misdreavus has pointed out that some of the early population geneticists (and population genetics is aaaall about human biodiversity) were not just a little bit on the left politically, they were socialists and even communists. j.b.s. haldane, for one — pretty much came up with the modern evolutionary synthesis (that’s a big deal), proposed the coincidentally-named haldane principle, and theorized (some might say speculated) that sickle-cell anemia and thalassemia protect against malaria (human biodiversity right there!). and he was a d*mn commie! (*gasp*)

there is nothing — absolutely nothing — about hbd that precludes left-wingers from acknowledging its existence. you can know everything there is to know about human biodiversity and still be all for the proletarian revolution and redistribution of wealth or even just be a mainstream democrat. jayman and others are living proof!

what you can’t be if you understand hbd is be a progressive. not a progressive that believes that you can substantially alter people’s natures via intervention from the state or school system or insisting upon diverse staffs in every corporation in america. for that matter, you can’t be a conservative who thinks you can alter people’s natures via the family or the church if you really understand hbd. if you truly understand hbd, the only way you can be a progressive is to adopt some eugenic policies (not advocating them — just sayin’).

the only real connection between human biodiversity and politics is that political attitudes are highly heritable, so all that’s going on in all the debates about hbd is that we’re each bringing to the table our innate political preferences — and, unfortunately, some of us have pc baggage at the moment. we all need to take a deep breath and try not to let our innate attitudes color our judgements about hbd findings.

the science and human biodiversity should be one thing. politics?…we can discuss all that afterwards.
_____

this is one of a set of posts on What is Human Biodiversity? please, before you fire off a rant leave a comment here, check out the other posts, because your question or objection may have been dealt with in one of them. here they all are!:

what is human biodiversity (hbd)?
what human biodiversity (hbd) is not
examples of human biodiversity (hbd)
why human biodiversity (hbd) is true
hbd and racism

(note: comments do not require an email. j.b.s. haldane & aldous huxley.)

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37 Comments

  1. there is nothing — absolutely nothing — about hbd that precludes left-wingers from acknowledging its existence. you can know everything there is to know about human biodiversity and still be all for the proletarian revolution and redistribution of wealth or even just be a mainstream democrat. jayman and others are living proof!

    In many ways HBD is more consistent with left-wing politics because liberals are paternalistic & feel they need to help those who can’t help themselves & believe in big government because people are supposedly too stupid to manage their own affairs. Liberals are also the party of evolution & they worship education & ivy league schools which use g loaded SAT scores.

    By contrast conservatives believe that capitalism is fair because anyone can succeed if they work hard enough & pull themselves up by their bootstraps which is a very anti-HBD belief. Conservatives also hate intellectuals & prefer leaders with populist charisma like Sarah Palin, George W. Bush & Ronald Reagan.

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  2. I think that Gregory Clark excellently showed that the reality of HBD easily lends itself to a liberal (though not modern progressive) persuasion (start at 19:08, if it doesn’t on its own):

    Clark manages well to convey the sober reality of the situation, I think.

    So yes, point being, there is no automatic political consequence of HBD, necessarily.

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  3. I was reading something awhile back about early Russian geneticists who ended up being exiled to Siberia (this was during the Soviet era) for finding data that supports HBD ideas.

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  4. These HBD racists seem to be extremely elusive or non-existent. Perhaps they are not real but are social constructs.

    Seriously, I read all of your posts and want to thank you for finding all those good links and articles. I don’t know how you do it. I am a fairly fast reader myself and I think I would have to work at it full time to cover all of the ground that you do.

    These posts are interesting. Do you get accused of being a racist and just screen those comments out? I don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish with these posts.

    BTW, nobody anywhere will admit to being a racist. Maybe we should use another approach to this subject.

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  5. Except blank slate equalism has been used to justify liberalism; shouldn’t its death have anti-liberal consequences?

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  6. I think if the average person today were raised in an political climate of unconditional compassion for all beings, even nonhumans or malefactors or etc, s/he would be immensely different.

    That idea has been tested in experiments, to a decent approximation, in utopian communities, and has been falsified.

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  7. there is no logical, inevitable political stance that follows from having an awareness of human biodiversity

    I think there is a political stance that follows and it is anti-utopianism. We can argue about what’s utopian, but quite a lot of leftism and libertarianism seems to be. Classical liberalism and conservatism much less so.

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  8. @foolish reporter – “I was reading something awhile back about early Russian geneticists who ended up being exiled to Siberia (this was during the Soviet era) for finding data that supports HBD ideas.”

    yeah, the soviets went through their lysenkoism phase.

    but that still doesn’t mean that leftists will inevitably go for non-hbd ideas. just means that the soviets were stupid, too!

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  9. @david george – “These HBD racists seem to be extremely elusive or non-existent. Perhaps they are not real but are social constructs.

    (~_^)

    @david george – “Do you get accused of being a racist and just screen those comments out? I don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish with these posts.”

    oh, it happens sometimes, but not that often really — and i’ve always addressed the comments here on the blog — i haven’t screened them. (the only comments that i regularly do not approve are the threatening ones. yeah. i get those.)

    these posts were really prompted by discussions about hbd with people on twitter, as well as the online discussions (reviews, etc.) of nicholas wade’s book A Troublesome Inheritance. i just keep finding that there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about 1) what hbd is, and 2) what hbd-ers’ motivations and intentions are (see here from this past january for example). wanted to rectify that (as much as possible). (^_^)

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  10. @anon – “Except blank slate equalism has been used to justify liberalism; shouldn’t its death have anti-liberal consequences?”

    like i said in the post, political attitudes are highly heritable, so we’re all liberals and conservatives just because we are liberals and conservatives.

    if we get rid of all the blank slate ideas, leftists should still exist, and they can still (afaics) argue for redistributing the wealth (to greater or lesser degrees depending on whether they’re stalinists or democratic party members).

    there’s no inconsistency there, afaics. you can understand that people are different and still want to arrange society in a leftist fashion. you just can’t think you’re going to alter people’s natures in any substantial way via things like “no child left behind” policies, etc.

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  11. @whyvert – “I think there is a political stance that follows and it is anti-utopianism.”

    yes. i think that’s pretty much what i mean when i say one can’t understand hbd and be a progressive. you can’t continue believing that you can make everyone super-intelligent and super-successful just by giving them all the same upbringing and education. we can’t get there from here — not without eugenics or some other tweaking of the biology.

    i don’t think of that as a political stance, tho. “utopianism” isn’t a platform of any of the major political parties in the west (was it ever?). there certainly does seem to be more of a yearning for equality in ALL things on the left than on the right, though, so perhaps you’re correct. but, again, i don’t think that that follows logically from knowing about human biodiversity, which is my point. those attitudes, i would think, are prolly innate in lefties versus righties.

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  12. “utopianism” isn’t a platform of any of the major political parties in the west (was it ever?)

    The neocon platform of turning the Mid East into liberal democracies is a utopia.

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  13. @JayMan

    Here’s another vid snippet covering the same territory as Clark. It’s Charles Murray at Harvard last March:

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  14. When I posted the above vid it was set to start at 1:15:00. I check it now and it starts at the beginning. What gives? Anyway forward to that time.

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  15. yes. i think that’s pretty much what i mean when i say one can’t understand hbd and be a progressive. you can’t continue believing that you can make everyone super-intelligent and super-successful just by giving them all the same upbringing and education.

    One can understand HBD and expect(desire) everyone to have equality of opportunity under the political system.

    No doubt some expect outcome equality and when they don’t get it want to continue working on it. (affirmative action/quotas)

    Some progressives just want equality of opportunity. We have never had this and it remains to be seen whether it can be obtained. We can say that we have more now than in the past and we can point to good/better outcomes.

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  16. hdb chick

    You need to attend to this subject. Otherwise you may end up with neo-hbd and paleo-hbd. I know that you have likely looked at Gottfried’s post over on Unz.

    You need to ask yourself why Sailer keeps posting that picture of Holder & his family. Go read all of the comments at this last posting.

    DG

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  17. I am new to your blog, but very impressed with your intelligence, courageousness, and fair mindedness. You must be at the right end of the Bell Curve for human biodiversity.

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  18. @david – “One can understand HBD and expect(desire) everyone to have equality of opportunity under the political system.”

    right. well, that’s what i want, and i think we’re doing pretty d*mn well on that front nowadays. could be better, but it’s a LOT better than it was fifty years ago.

    @david – “You need to ask yourself why Sailer keeps posting that picture of Holder & his family.”

    i know why sailer keeps posting that picture. and it’s not to argue against equality of opportunity for everyone…if that’s what you’re saying?

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  19. We agree. It is much better and it may be possible to make it better still.

    I am just relieved that I am not disqualified from joining HBD. Except that you said it doesn’t work that way.

    I don’t know why he posted it again or even in the 1st place. If you look at the comments they get to race right away. Is that where he wants the comments to go? HBD seems to get to race and IQ rather quickly regardless of the post.

    Is he saying, ” This guy or his ancestors could self-identify as white if they wanted to.”

    Does he want to say that this guy wouldn’t be AG if he did not self-identify as black?

    Can we pick our race? Can we pick our culture? Can we separate the two?

    You are concerned that HBD gets labeled as racist. You have given a definition of racism. That is not the definition that your accusers are using. A lot of them think you are racist if you say that there are races. And they definitely think you are racist if you say races exist and there are differences other than skin color.

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  20. @david – “You are concerned that HBD gets labeled as racist. You have given a definition of racism. That is not the definition that your accusers are using. A lot of them think you are racist if you say that there are races. And they definitely think you are racist if you say races exist and there are differences other than skin color.”

    hey. i’m just using the definition of racism that was used by a well-known academic (andrew gelman in slate) when he wrote his critique of nicholas wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance. i have to assume — especially when that’s the dictionary definition of the word — that that is the most common and accepted usage of the word.

    if people have their own humpty dumpty usage of the word, i can’t help them out.

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  21. @david – “I am just relieved that I am not disqualified from joining HBD. Except that you said it doesn’t work that way.”

    yeah, sorry! there’s nothing here to join, i’m afraid. you can understand human biodiversity and how it works or choose not to. that’s about it. (^_^)

    i’ve always thought that sailer’s point about holder is a political one — pointing out the hypocrisy of many politically correct people, the example here being mr. holder. holder says one thing and implements certain pc policies (in order to pander to certain parts of the public to get their vote) while he and his family have a general practice of *not* living in multi-cultural vibrant neighborhoods, etc., etc. in fact, the holder family is not even african-american, but holder certainly plays the african-american card a lot. hypocritical. (not that most politicians aren’t! =/ )

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  22. Thanks. I guess I was just trying to fit the Holder picture into an HBD frame.

    And on that note, I have one more HBD question and I’ll leave you alone for a while.

    Assuming that we have become less clannish and have lost most of our clan loyalty and behaviors, could the flip side of that be that we have lost the leadership traits as well? I mean you can’t really have loyal tribal leaders if there are no loyal followers.

    Of course the reason that I think about this is the very serious decline in leadership quality over the last, say 50 years or so.

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  23. Whyvert

    She said that we could do politics afterwards, so let’s hold her to it.

    Your observation that the utopian visions come from the left is correct. Consider that currently the dystopian and apocalyptic visions are coming from the right.

    HBD chick is right about the ME. Utopia is not the word that you want. Use pipe dream instead.

    I don’t think one has to be an HBDer to see that these nation building projects are not coming in successfully and within budget.

    I think we could get near 100% agreement that one can’t be an HBDer and a blank slater at the same time.

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  24. “what you can’t be if you understand hbd is be a progressive. not a progressive that believes that you can substantially alter people’s natures via intervention from the state or school system or insisting upon diverse staffs in every corporation in america. for that matter, you can’t be a conservative who thinks you can alter people’s natures via the family or the church if you really understand hbd. if you truly understand hbd, the only way you can be a progressive is to adopt some eugenic policies (not advocating them — just sayin’).”

    Hang on, studies on cognition and personality indicate that you can explain about 40-60% of variation in behaviour through heredity. That still leaves a massive chunk of human behaviour that falls outside this explanatory framework.

    So we can choose to focus on the genetic component of behaviour – over which we have little control (short of eugenics) – or we can choose to focus on the components that we may be able to influence. N.B. That does not mean that I am advocating any one intervention (be it enforced staffing diversity or bible study). Just that I am sceptical of genetic fatalism.

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  25. The post you linked to heavily references Steven Pinker. That would be the Steven Pinker who wrote a lengthy book called “The Better Angels of Our Nature” – which is about the complex forces driving a reduction in violence in human societies and draws heavily on the sociology of Norbert Elias. Lets see what he says on his FAQ:

    Q. Are you saying that in recent centuries people have literally evolved to be innately less violent?
    A. It’s possible, but that’s not my argument.

    Lets take a simple example – smoking. Does smoking have a genetic component? Yes. We can even start to tie particular issues associated with tobacco addiction to individual gene sites.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12740294
    http://www.news-medical.net/news/2004/04/13/449.aspx
    http://today.duke.edu/2013/03/smokegenes

    So given that smoking is genetic then we should simply give up as we can do nothing about smoking. No. Wait: http://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/744d3maa3uqlxcitxabzxw.gif

    Was this the result of eugenics? Hmmm: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/why-smoking-rates-are-at-new-lows/?_r=0

    Now if you want to argue against utopian approaches to social problems then I’m actually with you on that. If you say that reducing poverty or, heck, even reducing obesity will be harder than reducing smoking (and that alone was damn hard) then I also agree.

    We can discuss “how much” we can change our own behaviours (and note that I am explicitly talking about us changing our behaviours rather than me changing your behaviour) but the answers are neither “completely” or “not at all”. And in exploring that “how much” question, then we have to err on the side of “more” rather than “less” while maintaining an empirical approach (don’t tell me your theories, show me your evidence).

    Our models of human genome and human biology are still pretty crude (but getting better). Our models of human behaviour and culture are also pretty crude (but getting better). And both are probably still too crude to start making definitive judgements on.

    But that’s just my opinion.

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  26. @Matt Moore:

    “The post you linked to heavily references Steven Pinker. That would be the Steven Pinker who wrote a lengthy book called ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ – which is about the complex forces driving a reduction in violence in human societies and draws heavily on the sociology of Norbert Elias.”

    First of all: do not appeal to authority. It doesn’t matter what any researcher claims. All that matters is what the evidence shows.

    In the case of Better Angels, on the time scale Pinker discusses, it is clear evolutionary forces are involved. There’s not much evidence secular environmental forces (changes to the grand-scale environment) can alter expression of violent behavior on that scale.

    “So given that smoking is genetic then we should simply give up as we can do nothing about smoking. No. Wait”

    It’s also interesting smoking rates seem to remain stubbornly at 20% despite all that “progress.”

    Secular changes can be hard to predict much less control. As I’ve discussed before, changes to landscape can effect what behaviors individuals with different genetic propensities end up expressing. This works primarily by shifting around incentives.

    “And in exploring that ‘how much’ question, then we have to err on the side of ‘more’ rather than ‘less’ while maintaining an empirical approach (don’t tell me your theories, show me your evidence).”

    I’m glad you asked. How about:

    JayMan’s Race, Inheritance, and IQ F.A.Q. (F.R.B.): 5. The primary cause of differences in human behavioral traits and intelligence is our environmental circumstances, not our genes. | JayMan’s Blog

    See that section and linked posts.

    “And both are probably still too crude to start making definitive judgements on.”

    I wouldn’t say that. See above.

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  27. @JayMan

    “First of all: do not appeal to authority. It doesn’t matter what any researcher claims. All that matters is what the evidence shows.”

    I did not appeal to authority. HDB Chick linked to a post by Pinker. I believe she has misread it to hence I brought up a book length argument by Pinker to demonstrate that.

    “There’s not much evidence secular environmental forces (changes to the grand-scale environment) can alter expression of violent behavior on that scale.”

    Lots of people disagree with Steven Pinker on this topic for lots of reasons. However given the weight of data in the book, what you can’t say is “There’s not much evidence”. You can say “There’s not much evidence that I agree with” – but that’s different.

    “It’s also interesting smoking rates seem to remain stubbornly at 20% despite all that “progress.””

    That progress does not deserve to be in quotation mark. The rate of smoking decline hasn’t plateaued yet. A 50% reduction in 40 years is pretty good. Go us! It sounds as though if you had been in charge, it would still be at 43%. “Can’t do anything about this because genetics”.

    Your FAQ is interesting but it’s largely irrelevant to my interests – cognitive science, behavioural economics, some sociology and psychology. You don’t really have a lot to say about those. There’s also a bit of a swifty in there – a chart on IQ becomes a chart on IQ “and behavioral traits” in the following paragraph.

    I’m more interested in what your beliefs about behaviour mean for your political actions. Politics is not just theory – it’s a practical activity. So as a liberal and also someone with a strong belief that “behaviour = genetics”, what do you do and what do you advocate for?

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  28. @matt – “Your atc”

    sorry, matt. i’m a bit tied up with things at the moment. prolly won’t be able to give a detailed response to your comments for a couple of days. sunday, hopefully? monday?

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  29. @Matt Moore:

    You may discover that I’m hardly the most patient fellow in this matter. I like to think it’s for good reason, because there’s way too much stupidity out there, especially on this matter.

    “I’m more interested in what your beliefs about behaviour mean for your political actions.”

    I care about facts. Full stop. Make no mistake here. I don’t have “beliefs”; I have knowledge.

    “Lots of people disagree with Steven Pinker on this topic for lots of reasons.”

    Who gives a flying f*ck? Not me. Please see:

    “However given the weight of data in the book, what you can’t say is ‘There’s not much evidence’. You can say ‘There’s not much evidence that I agree with’ – but that’s different.”

    Actually, yes I can say that, because here’s the difference, as I said elsewhere:

    Here’s the problem: if you don’t understand a matter well enough to look at the evidence and come to a conclusion yourself, you’re screwed. There is no strategy, no system, no method you can use to ascertain truth with contradictory results when you, ultimately, have to rely on “experts.” End of story. If I can’t look at a matter and come to my own conclusions, I don’t form an opinion.

    I don’t worry about the back and forth bickering of the “experts,” many of whom are often idiots. However, I can’t help you if you can’t look at the evidence and judge for yourself.

    “That progress does not deserve to be in quotation mark. The rate of smoking decline hasn’t plateaued yet. A 50% reduction in 40 years is pretty good. Go us! It sounds as though if you had been in charge, it would still be at 43%. ‘Can’t do anything about this because genetics’.”

    As I said above, secular changes happen. Sometimes you can alter the playing field to get the result you want, and other times (perhaps most of the time), you can’t.

    “Your FAQ is interesting but it’s largely irrelevant to my interests – cognitive science, behavioural economics, some sociology and psychology.”

    You do realize behavioral genetics cuts to the very root of all those things? (If you don’t, then you didn’t understand what you read.) Not for the lease reason, as James Thompson recently put it:

    As well, behavioral genetics is to social science what evolution is to biology.

    “There’s also a bit of a swifty in there – a chart on IQ becomes a chart on IQ “and behavioral traits” in the following paragraph.”

    Shallow reading will do things like that. :\

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  30. If politics don’t matter, how come North Koreans (one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in existence) are significantly shorter than South Koreans, even if you exclude all South Koreans that have ancestors outside of South Korea within the last 200 years?

    You seem to think genetics is everything and it is very clear, that this is not true.

    Another example: White children of American servicemen who grew up in Germany did not differ significantly in school outcome from black children of American servicemen who grew up in Germany. Germany of course has different attitudes towards African Americans than the US. So once again nurture seems to trump “nature”.

    The fact that even identical twins separated at birth differ in some interesting ways (yes, many of those studies are plagued by small sample size, but who in their right mind would wish for more identical twins to be separated at birth?), again shows that genetics is way less relevant for human characteristics than you might think.

    Genetics can code for hair color, eye color, skin color, a propensity to have certain disease and many other things. But they do not and they cannot code for whether you are born into abject poverty and die of malnutrition at age five or if you are born into a rich family starting out with a small million dollar loan from daddy. And the latter is far more important than the former. BOTH on an individual and on a group level.

    Reply

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