The white-supremacist, anti-semitic fascists from The Right Stuff have attempted a response to my Anti-Racialist Q & A.
(That’s not an ad hominem, by the by. Those are characteristics they quite proudly claim for themselves).
[UPDATE: TRS has responded or tried to, anyway. Just on the subject that I’m lying about their views, TRS throws around the word nigger, talk about suspending democracy and the need for internment, argue, repeatedly, that high, capitalist civilization is solely for white men, say that blacks are incapable of civilization, refer to the ‘ruling caste of the Western world’ as ‘the Synagogue’, illustrate themselves with the statues of Arno Breker – well, you be the judge]
I have to say: well done! To any neoreactionaries who read this, this is how it’s done. Don’t just mope – return fire and put a bit of ginger into it!
TRS’s response starts out like so:
the piece is characterized by a snarky, undeservedly confident, and self-congratulatory tone
And they say other nice things about me too.
Anyway, one good turn deserves another, so here’s my response to this. It’s going to be a little bit out of sequence, since there are a number of points that I think are better addressed in a group, not scattered around.
Politics and Science have only minimal overlap here
I am only going to respond to the section on science both because it is the section I am most interested in and because there isn’t any point in talking about the political ramifications of science if you don’t get said science right in the first place.
That’s not really true, is it though? As Ayn Rand observed:
Even if it were proved—which it is not—that the incidence of men of potentially superior brain power is greater among the members of certain races than among the members of others, it would still tell us nothing about any given individual and it would be irrelevant to one’s judgement of him. A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race—and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin. It is hard to say which is the more outrageous injustice: the claim of Southern racists that a Negro genius should be treated as an inferior because his race has “produced” some brutes—or the claim of a German brute to the status of a superior because his race has “produced” Goethe, Schiller and Brahms.
To say that racialists haven’t come close to addressing this argument doesn’t get close to it. Even if the harsher interpretations of the Bell Curve were true, that wouldn’t support, e.g., Radish’s defence of slavery. Also as one of the commentators drawn to this site admits, most white nationalists have politics as their primary and the science is “just gravy” as he phrased it.
We should remember that the alternative to my SSSSM is the theory of racial determinism. For the NRx types view to hold true, they need to show that race determines a society’s success or lack of it, a people’s success or lack of it, above and beyond the determination of culture, society etc. I’ve never denied that different populations have evolved differently, or that the genes and biology you get are hugely influential in your life – I’ve said that at the group level it is trumped by culture and social institutions. Bluntly, whatever the racially linked differences in intelligence between A and B are, they are trumped by, e.g., the fact that population A lives under communist autocracy, and B lives in a capitalist democracy. Or for the neoreactionaries, it is much more important if your king is Frederick the Great or Louis XVI.
This is especially true as TRS makes a startling admission:
This rise in IQ has been so large that African Americans today have higher IQ’s than White Americans did 100 years ago.
So, to use TRS’s terms, and by its own standards, the average black is more intelligent today than the average white was when whites completely transformed the world we live in. Please bear in mind the key point of my SSSSM, that cultural institutions and environment overshadow genetics at the group level. If you went back to white Americans of 1914 and tell them that a day would come when blacks had a higher average intelligence than they, they would have thought you crazy.
The way that racialist politics isn’t based on science can also be observed by the following from Scott Alexander: even if you control for IQ, there is still unwarranted prejudice. A white American with IQ of 85 has an easier time of it than a black American with an IQ of 85.
Finally, the argument that TRS doesn’t even come close to touching is the simple fact that, if there is some deficit or difference (pick your term) between African and Caucasian populations, by the time that malnutrition, parasites, pollution etc. are corrected for, the posthuman era will be on us. With genetic engineering going exponential, with real-time intelligence enhancement already developed, the white supremacists are just plain obsolete.
I should also venture an apology:
Mr. P says that nothing that he has read about race and intelligence suggests that genes cause a substantial part of the B/W IQ gap. In other words, he didn’t bother reading anything by the people he is attacking prior to attacking them.
My apologies, that was an unclear phrasing. I have the same rule about this that I do about studying global warming, or similar matters: I go by what I read in the scientific literature. I should have said, nothing I have read in the scientific literature. Of course I’d read plenty of arguments on VDARE etc., but that’s like going by the popular press to understand what’s happening with the climate.
The science of racialism?
To the meat of it.
Mr. P is making the uniquely ridiculous argument that a Caucasian race, defined as including Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Northern Africans, exists biologically, but that a white race, defined as just Europeans, does not.
That uniquely ridiculous argument comes from Nicholas Wade, a serious and well read science writer, and was originally published in Genome Biology. I repeat my point about reading the scientific literature.
It is also these deep divisions that represent the separations for thousands of years that racialists make so much of. Within the five major human families, interbreeding has been a bit more common, and you are forced to admit that there is a spectrum. Go back to my “white power” picture and you can easily see that many Indians have paler skins than southern Europeans and the overlap between southern Europeans, Semitic peoples, Persians and Northern Africans is quite considerable.
That said, there’s the old splitter/unifier argument: what qualifies as a race? One could go along with the TRS’s definition of “white” as those Western and Northern Europeans who bear the mutation in slc24a5; however, as those mutations only account for about a third of skin colour differences, I’d be a little more careful about terming this a full ‘race’.
Accepting the TRS premise here, and saying that “Nordics”, to revive an old term, constitute a distinct race, that raises a slight problem for the TRS argument. They go to some considerable length to ask where the various black geniuses are, where the Amerindian Socrates was. The slight problem is that Socrates wasn’t Nordic. He was part of the Mediterranean races, and in the time he lived, during the golden Age of Greece, Nordics would have been dismissed as abject savages (rather the same way TRS dismisses black Africans). The centres of learning of Alexandria, Constantinople and Damascus dwarfed anything that Europe had to offer then. Indeed, Africa was part of Graeco-Hellenic civilization for thirteen centuries before Islam came.
This is before we’ve considered the great civilizations of India and China. Yes, TRS mentions Charles Murray’s book Human Accomplishment which lists, correctly, that the majority of human developments have been made by Europeans. What they conveniently leave out is that this is because so many of them have come post-1400. In other words, ever since Europe came to dominate the world, Europe dominated the world. This doesn’t get close to answering the objection that, were an alien to visit in year 0, he would naturally think that China is the centre of Earthling civilization, had been so for millennia and would stay so.
This is something the neoreactionaries would do well to bear in mind: things change and things are changing now. That is one of the reasons I disdain racialism: a conceit in ones superiority is a guarantee that you will spend your time sitting on your backside and do nothing. If neoreactionary racialism were to spread throughout the West, all it would do is encourage indolence and sloth and blaming our problems on someone else, instead of mobilizing people to the urgent task of setting our civilization to rights.
By way of proof, here’s a population that has demonstrably unusually high IQs: the members of MENSA. Okay, can you tell me of a famous or important thing a MENSA member has done? Neither can anyone else.
Quit trying to establish an inherited superiority and try to do something to earn it.
TRS pull me up short on the matter of the Amerindians, but again, this makes the opposite point to the one that they think they are making. The Amerindians never developed much beyond the tribal stage of human life, much like a great portion of black Africa. But Amerindians are the genetic population most removed from Africa, and yet fell into a similar mode of society. Racial determinism cannot explain that, anymore than it can explain how genetically identical people (East and West Germans, North and South Koreans etc.) behave so differently under radically different systems.
Finally, racial determinism can’t explain the following, which is a version of the Hitch’s argument about evolution disproving God. The great diaspora from Africa happened fifty thousand years ago. The major races emerged in the wake of that. The great dawn of thought, of reason in Europe only happened two and a half thousand years ago. So we are supposed to believe, on the racial determinist point of view, that the genes that supposedly guarantee white supremacy were sitting around doing bugger all for forty-seven thousand years before things got started.
And, as I say, this just gets worse and worse if you take TRS’s nordicism at face value. It was the darker Caucasians – the southern Europeans, the north Africans, the Middle Easterners and Indians, who laid the foundation of that dawn. The Nordics were only later incorporated thanks to the swords and spears of first the Roman legions and later the Knights Teutonic.
(Pro-tip: if you are looking to to justify colonialism that’s a good place to start).
The Black-White IQ gap revisited
This is the obsession with neoreactionary racialists because, well, most of them are American and American racial obsessions are beyond the point of parody. TRS offers ten arguments that the Black/White IQ gap is genetically and racially fixed.
Before I get into those, here is something that HBD types keep forgetting: racial is not the synonym of genetic is not the synonym of hereditary is not the synonym of biological is not the synonym of inborn. These are all different and while some phenomena lie in multiple categories, there are many that don’t.
The first argument made isn’t really a scientific one:
Attempts by programs like head start to give blacks highly enriched educational environments have failed to produce lasting changes in their IQ’s relative to whites.
The failure of a socialistic policy to help people here is being blamed on the people not the socialism. That’s a very odd position for self-declared “right wingers” to take but – I’ll let you fill in your own “national socialist joke here”.
Similarly, the third one is one I’ve already dealt with: the fact that the gap between white and black American IQs isn’t narrowing (at least according to some studies). But we know that white IQ scores have been rising, so if black IQ scores are keeping pace that just means that there was something in the past of America’s blacks that retarded their development as a people (this is a stunningly original conclusion I know). Moreover, if both groups are advancing at the same rate, that suggests a similar kind of “base” intelligence with a similar capacity for improvement.
Note this bit down, I’m coming back to it later.
Then there’s argument number 10, where TRS rails against egalitarianism. They’re pushing at an open door with me: egalitarianism is nuts. This is what the quest to make everyone the same looks like in practice. I want to be quite clear here, I’m not just talking about “equality of outcomes”, I’m talking about the “equality of opportunity” you hear hawked around. What the devil is “equality of opportunity”? We’re all different in everything from our biology to our parents, our society, our application etc.
With these Preachers of Equality I will not be mixed or confused. For Justice speaks so to me: “Humans are not equal”.
Nor should they ever become it! What would be my love to the Overman, if I spoke differently?
Nietzsche, my translation.
There’s only one kind of equality that matters, and that’s equality before the law. Or, if you will, equal rights (though I prefer the former formulation; it is more precise).
To the scientific matters, TRS cites the Minnesota trans-racial adoption study, that TRS calls “one of the best of its kind”. It shows that you still see racial IQ differences even with black American children adopted by white American children still have a considerably lower IQ than white American children adopted cross-racially.
There is another study that they should cite, namely the Eyferth study which studied the effect of the children of black and white U.S. servicemen raised in Germany. There is still a gap there, but it is slim to nonexistant, much less so than those of mixed-race parents in the Minnesota study. Incidentally, the name of the Eyferth study translates as A Study of Nigger-Crossbreed Children in West Germany, so I don’t think we can accuse it of undue political correctness.
(There’s a number of different studies that TRS doesn’t seem to cite, like this one, but lets roll with it)
So what’s going on here? Let me mention two things that were different for the Eyferth study. The first is that Germany doesn’t have the class system of the Anglosphere. The second, which is much more important, is that all of those kids were grown in German wombs.
That matters because regardless of who adopted the Minnesota kids, they would have spent, quite literally, their formative months within someone of one race or t’other, and that is strongly determinant on later life characteristics, including IQ.
This brings me to a number of other studies that they cite, including work on mixed-race kids and adoption studies all of which they say shows a genetic and, hence, racial component. These studies show no such thing – what they show is a hereditary association.
I try to avoid being needlessly rude, but what the hell – I’m sure TRS can stand insult as easily as I: This is what happens when you get amateurs pretending that they are proper scientists. I suspect this TRS author knows something from way back in highschool that “acquired characteristics are not inherited”. That’s a simplification that misses out the wonderful field of epigenetics.
I’ll simplify. It’s not just the genes you have inherited, it’s how those genes are regulated, when and how much they are turned on etc. And, yes, those changes are heritable, and what is more, there is a big and expanding field of study of how epigenetics affects IQ. This brings me to something that has interested me for a while: that the Flynn effect is transgenerational and also steady. That has the hallmarks of something fundamentally changing that is also heritable.
This brings me to their argument number 4, where they make much of the fact that IQ scores tend to regress to the mean (100 for US whites, 85 for US blacks) but this leaves out the fact, again, that IQ scores have been rising, so there is a deep change happening.
That the gap is a genetic and not epigenetic and environmental one is suggested by the fact that the gap has remained the same. Since both scores are rising at the same rate, it follows that both black and white American intelligences have the same potential for improvement – and this in turn implies that both have very similar genetic potential, tout court.
Consider by way of analogy differences in potential for muscle strength. Candidate A has better genes for muscle mass and starts out with a benchpress of 50 kg compared with candidate B, who starts out with a benchpress of 30kg. If you subject them both to the same training A will improve faster than B. If both were improving at the same rate, then you’d expect them to have similar potentials.
I can go on like this: TRS uncritically cites a paper claiming a link between skin colour and intelligence, but don’t know that the link collapses when you account for childhood environmental factors. And so on.
There is one really solid bit of work TRS that the but the only one of the ten points that is on any sort of solid group is the differences in brain sizes between different racial groups. There is something to this argument, but it misses out that part of the Flynn effect is a measured increase in brain size, or that the current differences in IQ scores between black and white americans is too large for brain size to account for more than a small part .
So: does race cause racial IQ differences? Or is there something else
By way of a response, let me revisit the case of the Microcephalin and ASPM genes that were originally cited as being the genetic basis for racial IQ differences. Now, as it turns out, you see no IQ differences when you look at the individual level (individuals with different genes don’t show IQ differences) but you see them at the country level.
So what is going on here? Well, as it turns out those genes have something to do with immune response and DNA repair, and they are associated with higher levels of intelligence when you have a lot of immune stress. To phrase it another way, correct the problems of disease and you correct for this instance of racial differences in intelligence.
What about violence?
TRS’s intelligent and thought out response to my comment that it seems doubtful that the difference in MAO-A distribution explains the eight fold higher homicide rate seen in black Americans versus white Americans, is as follows:
he says that he doesn’t think this single difference could cause a large difference in criminality between blacks and whites. I’m sorry, Mr. P, but but genetics frankly doesn’t give a damn about what you think.
Truly, deep thinking. On the other hand, genetics doesn’t particularly care what TRS dilettantes think either. TRS also says:
. Secondly, he notes that a large part of the B/W crime gap has to do with non-violent drug crime.
In point of fact, I don’t think I said anything of the sort. I didn’t touch on non-violent drug crime anywhere in the Q & A.
TRS starts off like this:
As everyone knows, blacks commit a lot more crime than whites do
Does “everyone” indeed know this? Let’s take a look at some facts: the annual average homicide rate, adjusted for population, in the United States is 4.8. I will look at the US because that is where these neoreactionaries hail from and it is worth making this personal. Here are some countries in Africa that have a lower murder rate: Egypt (1.2), Morocco (1.4), Algeria (1.5), Libya (2.9), Niger (3.8), Sao Tome and Principe (1.9), Burundi (4.1), Djibouti (3.4), Mozambique (3.4), and Mauritius (2.5).
Yes, some of those are north African countries (i.e., Caucasian) but some are not, and anyway, the chaps at Radish are big on their nordicism, so they should be made to own that position.
But it gets better! As neoreactionaries insist, the increase in medical technology masks the true rate of crime and violence. So, what adjustment should we make for the difference in medical care? If we go with a very conservative factor of 2 (that is, you are twice as likely to die from an assault in Africa, due to lack of medical attention, than you are in America), then the United States is more violent than Madagascar, Seychelles, Mali, and Senegal, and is not that far behind Comoros, Swaziland, Liberia, Gambia, Togo, Cape Verde and Nigeria. And if one assumes that Africa is on about the level of the United States in the 1960s, then the majority of nations would be less violent, because when you make that adjustment, you find that the US has a homicide rate of 23.5.
Presumably, TRS would argue that this is because the United States has a large non-white population that drives up violence. This doesn’t explain the high murder rates of many European nations (such as Russia), but it’s an insane argument. If blacks are supposedly the cause of violence in the United States, and this violence is racially predetermined, why is the United States more violent than many all black nations?
In fact, we can really run this argument into the ground by examining the U.S. District of columbia, which, in 2000, had a murder rate of 41.8. In other words, the capital of the United States, had a higher murder rate than Uganda (36.3) Sudan (24.2) and even Congo (30.8). Prior to adjustment for medical differences.
Now, the District of Columbia is 30% black American. If we accept TRS’s definitions of “black” and “white” as racial groups, and if we further accept their premise of racial determinism – then we would be forced to look at a place with 70% non-black population that has a way higher murder rate than many 100% black nations and be forced to conclude that: non-black Americans are the ones doing all the killing.
This isn’t true, but it is exactly where the idea of racial determinism leads you. I’ve never said that there aren’t racial differences, just that these are swamped by cultural and social institutions. By counterproof consider where the United States ranks in violence compared with so much of the rest of the world. The number of people killed by the US police in one year is higher than the number of total killings in much of Europe. In fact, if I look at murder rate per capita and forget about adjustments for medical technology (because then it gets too depressing), the United States ranks behind Monaco, Palau, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Iceland, French Polynesia, Brunei, Bahrain, Austria, Guam, Macau, Oman, Slovenia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Qatar, Denmark, Italy, the Federate States of Micronesia, New Zealand, Vanatu, Bhutan, China, Malta, Sweden, Australia, Tonga, Tunisia, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Samoa, Egypt, Ireland, Portugal, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Androrra, Hungary, Morocco, Armenia, Croatia, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Slovakia, Canada, Maldives, Vietnam, Cyprus, Belgium, Jordan, Sao Tome and Principe, Macedonia, Iraq for crying out loud, Romania, Israel, Tajikistan, Azebaijan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Finland, Norway, Malaysia, Afghanistam Mauritius, Georgia, South Korea, Bangladesh, Nepal, Liechtenstein, Fiji, Libya, Iran, Uzbekistan, Latvia, Taiwan, Mozambique, Turkey, Djibouti, Cambodia, India, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria, Chile, Solomon Islands, Niger, Albania, Burundi, Palestine, Martinique, Turkmenistan, Yemen , Suriname and Laos.
Culture and civilization trump race. I’m sorry, but they just do.
Just to take something I said before: you can make the argument that all other things being equal, black Africans should be more aggressive than Caucasians, just based on the MAO-A distribution (and completely leaving aside all the other genes and environmental factors we haven’t even looked at) but how that expresses itself is completely different. Aggression can be enormously positive – whether it is in high-risk jobs like soldier, policeman or fireman, or it is in getting businesses under way, or any number things. That, incidentally, is what the studies on MAO-A actually say: that if someone has the “warrior gene” version, and if that person is subject to a lot of abuse as a child, and if he comes from a deprived background – yes, then there is a higher chance that he will become a violent criminal.
But TRS comes up with some other things, such as Rushton’s idea that the genes for melatonin are also linked to higher levels of aggression. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, and maybe the fact that lighter skins lead to higher levels of testosterone means that the correlation should go the other way.
Race and civilization
I’ve already gone into the many ways in which TRS’s nordicism just doesn’t stack up. Here are a few others: the claim that the tendency towards individualism and collectivism is a racially fixed one. Their link for this is hardly a peer reviewed study, and they ignore the fact that the most horrific examples of collectivism got started right in the European heartland.
TRS also dismisses my arguments as relying on “outliers” – that is, those situations where you have had genetically identical populations run on different systems. These aren’t the most common of circumstances, but it is revealing that in every single case where we can run that experiment, it turns out that different systems produce radically different results, and that racial determinism proceeds to explain precisely dick.
Just to take another example, consider Tanzania. Tanzania’s people are genetically the same as those of Kenya and other surrounding states, but Tanzania is the envy of much of Christian Africa because it has managed to dispense with the problem of tribalism. So ‘collectivism’ is a property that is determined by culture and by political system, not race.
TRS goes on to claim that :
I’m not quite sure how that works when the largest ‘white nation’ in the world – Russia – ranks 127 out of 177 in the corruption index, but let that pass for a moment. I’m going to repeat my point, again: I’m not denying differences between people separated in time and space, I’m saying that race doesn’t explain those differences.
The Right Stuff deserves commendation for actually stepping up to the plate here and trying to respond, which is more than most neoreactionaries have done. Still, in conclusion, it has to be said: