Tuesday, 11 March 2014

'HBD'

There is a small but rather vocal group of people variously associated with the human sciences who declare that almost everything humans do is related to and primarily determined by their genes.  These people call themselves 'HBD-ers', where 'HBD' stands for 'human biological diversity', and I suppose the source text for much of what they claim is Cochran and Harpending's The 10,000 Year Explosion, a popular book that outlines the genetic differences between human populations and the historical events and circumstances that have resulted from such differences.

The authors claim, for instance, that the Indo-European expansion was principally enabled by lactase persistence in the founding population of proto-Indo-European speakers, who then migrated across the Eurasian continent fuelled by their ability to digest cows' milk.  They also claim that Ashkenazi Jewish successes in business, media, the arts, and science - all of which are demonstrable, I should think - have been enabled by their genetically inherited superior intelligence, a direct result of competition for jobs and status in Ashkenazi communities in Europe over the last millennium or so.  The competition for such things, and the fatal consequences of failure, selected for intelligence.  Voila - Ashkenazim are on average more intelligent than other Europeans.  (Other attempts, notably the fantastic The Chosen Few by Botticini and Eckstein, have tried to show that such achievements have more to do with culture and literacy than genetics, but these are by far the strongest arguments Cochran and Harpending make in their book.)

'HBD-ers' extrapolate from this that almost all of human culture is genetically inherited, which is an unwarranted extrapolation.  It is trivially untrue, for a start.  While languages can correlate with some genes now and then, the genes do not cause you to speak your language - your experiences, combined with thousands upon thousands of years of history, do.  The clothes you wear are not determined by your genes; fashion has changed considerably in a couple of generations, far too short a time for genes to be behind the differences in attire between 1914 and 2014.  The food you eat isn't determined by genes (aside from e.g. lactose intolerance), but again by cultural history - world cuisine changed dramatically in the wake of the Columbian Exchange, for example.  Your hobbies are not determined by genes - there is no gene for watching television, and pretty much anyone, it seems, can learn how to read or play basketball recreationally, even if some people are better at these things than others.  In a very important sense, culture is determined by history, and rarely by genes.

That isn't to deny that humans have a great deal of shared phylogenetic inheritance that is behind certain general human proclivities ('human nature').  It is merely to say that human cultural variation is not determined by human genetic variation, which is definitely the case.  It would be foolish to deny it.

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Cochran has also claimed in a recent blogpost that indigenous American history may primarily be explained by the comparative lack of genetic diversity in the Americas.  Afro-Eurasia is dominated by a few language families - Sino-Tibetan, Indo-European, Afroasiatic, Niger-Congo, Austronesian, and so on - while there were hundreds of families in the pre-Columbian Americas.  Cochran has claimed that because of the lower level of genetic diversity in the Americas, a result of the relatively recent human migration from Eurasia, no single human group would acquire a lasting advantage over all the others.  They were unlikely to acquire genes for lactose tolerance or anything like that, and therefore wouldn't be able to spread themselves around like speakers of Indo-European languages using lactase persistence (never mind that IE languages probably spread due to socio-cultural innovations).

The Americas were not static in prehistory, and there were plenty of dominant language families, including Tupian, Arawak, Uto-Aztecan, Quechuan, Chibchan, Algonquian, Athabaskan, Iroquoian, and Souian.  These were spread over very large areas and were spoken by lots of people.  They seem to have spread through socio-cultural advantages, like agriculture or the bow and arrow, and if the Americas were significantly less dynamic than Afro-Eurasia, then that may be chalked up to the north-south orientation of the continents, the necessity to adapt maize for more northerly climes, and the absence of the horse and camel.

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HBD-ers appear to have an extraordinary interest in IQ, as well, and see this as a driving force behind cultural 'achievements'.  That's something I can't fathom: there doesn't seem to be any reason to correlate high average IQ with the ability to build monumental architecture or generate a large agricultural surplus or domesticate crops, and these seem to be the things that drive literacy, exploration, conquest, and everything else.

The focus on IQ seems unhealthy.  I probably shouldn't have to point out, either, that such a focus is often behind crazy claims ranking the 'races' - 'Asians' above 'whites' above 'blacks' (never mind that these 'races' don't really exist and that human biological diversity is clearly much more complicated than this).

HBD-ers claim that differences in IQ are related to the complexity of the societies in which the people have lived for the past few thousand years.  Competition for jobs and resources in more complex, literate, urbanised societies will ensure a high degree of selection for intelligence, increasing IQ over time.  Smaller, simpler, non-literate, non-urban societies will not select for intelligence, and therefore, apparently, we can expect all of sub-Saharan Africa to have a lower IQ than western Europe or east Asia.

That might even make sense as an explanation (assuming that there even is such a pattern in the data) were it not for the fact that large parts of sub-Saharan Africa were very complex in the pre-colonial era, including most of the Sahel, the savanna/rainforest border in west Africa, almost the entire east African coast, Ethiopia, Nubia (i.e., northern Sudan), the Zimbabwean plateau, the rainforest near the mouth of the Congo, the Great Lakes, and plenty of other parts of inland Africa (the archaeological evidence indicates considerable social complexity all over the place, actually, and any good book on pre-colonial Africa ought to show this).  I would also note that due to sub-Saharan Africa's low population density, these settled complex societies constituted the bulk of sub-Saharan Africa's people.

Competition for trade and jobs would have been greater, earlier, and for longer on the Swahili coast than it was in Anglo-Saxon and medieval England, so why should we expect higher average IQ in England than in Tanzania?  Or, better yet, why should we expect Irish people to perform anything like as well as Nigerians, given that Ireland was poor, exploited, and rural for hundreds of (apparently crucial) years while much of west Africa was urbanised and densely populated for the same time frame?  How could the descendants of poor Irish folk, like JFK and Conan O'Brien (and me!) be able to achieve anything at all, given the rural and unsophisticated nature of their homeland?

If there is a noticeable difference in performance on IQ tests, perhaps we should be looking at other factors, like colonial history, corruption, tax, trade, teaching standards, parental literacy, and so on.  The idea of looking at these factors was recently mocked by Greg Cochran in a blogpost that boggles the mind for the sheer amount of sociological and historical illiteracy it demonstrates, but it seems common sense to look for socio-cultural explanations for differences in economic output and academic achievement instead of reaching straight for genetic differences.


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Natural selection is powerful, and there's no real reason to believe that selection hasn't operated on human populations since they started to separate from one another a couple of hundred thousand years ago.  But some HBD-ers - not all, I don't think - want to explain cultural changes that took place over the course of only a few generations in terms of natural selection, and I don't think this makes any sense whatsoever.  An attempt has been made to write European history in terms of genetic changes, and it is beyond laughable (it also barely bothers with actually showing how such-and-such a system imposed actual selective pressures on the people involved, so in terms of causal mechanisms, it's rather lacking, to put it mildly).  Natural selection may be powerful, but human brains and character are extremely complex things, and without extreme pressures it seems unlikely that socio-cultural changes over the course of five or six generations will be capable of causing any significant changes in personality, temperament, or even IQ.

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!

Does this square with anyone's experience of living in a society like that?  I certainly don't see the people around me as probable relatives, and I live and have always lived in such a society.  It is pretty clear from a variety of studies (primatological, ethnographic, and so on - see in particular Bernard Chapais's classic Primeval Kinship) that the basis of human kinship is imprinting in childhood, not whether you know that others around you are, in some sense, your kin.


You will instinctively feel that a girl you grew up in the same house with is your sister, but you will feel considerably weaker emotions about someone you know to be your biological relative but whom you only met in adulthood.  Imprinting is the mechanism, and that isn't commensurate with the claim that everyone being related in some sense generates greater altruism because, simply, you can't grow up with all of those people.  There's no naturalistic way for it to affect your psyche.

Humans can change culturally without genetic change.  They do it all the time.  They learn to speak new languages, eat new foods, use new devices, read new books, use new weapons, farm new crops, trade with newly-found populations, and adopt new beliefs about the universe.  Genetic variation cannot explain human history.  Even in those pesky cases in which genes do cause significant variation, as with lactose tolerance, humans inevitably find ways around them.  The Indo-European expansion may have been caused in some small, insignificant part by lactase persistence enabled and necessitated by their pastoral economy, but Mongolian pastoralists with similar economies are lactose intolerant and ferment their dairy products to circumvent the need to adapt genetically.  Variation in genetics is much less important than environment, ecology, and historical circumstance in determining cultural practices.


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Here's a big problem for HBD-ers to resolve.  For thousands of years, western European societies were full of superstition, religion, religious bigotry, and religious (and other) violence.  To be a heretic, or to agree with heresies or heretics, was sufficient cause for arrest and brutal murder, meaning that religious belief and religious orthodoxy were actively selected for.  To disagree with the imposition of the death sentence for a heretic, to seem unorthodox, to not rejoice at the discovery and burning of witches - all of these could lead to execution.  This went on for hundreds of years, was extremely widespread, and was strongly selected for.  This is the kind of selection that, if such things were possible, would certainly lead to higher levels of superstition or religious hatred encoded at some genetic level.

Western Europe nowadays, of course, is one of the least religious, least violent, and least superstitious places on the planet.  Murder rates in most of western Europe hover around 1 in 100,000 and a tiny proportion of the European population is killed deliberately by another person.  The death penalty is entirely absent from Europe (aside from Belarus) and torture and witch burnings are no longer practiced.

This all changed incredibly quickly, within a couple of hundred years, and it happened in clear and obvious defiance of strong selective pressures to conform to the prior pattern of violence.  Natural selection in favour of such things meant nothing in the face of expanding trade, strong states, reason, improving hygiene, and the expansion of knowledge about the universe.

This is because the main thing to bear in mind about people is that they're all generally quite capable of living on the earth and learning new things.  They can take in and improve new ideas, given sufficient means and stimuli.  Genetic variation is absolutely fuck all compared to that.

184 comments:

  1. Since there is indeed such a pattern in the IQ data, probably you should take a look at it.

    It seems common sense (to me) to consider both genetic and socio-cultural factors in any causal theory of human affairs.







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  2. From ‏@zCBu9k7axY to @AlWest13 Just read it. Good combination of straw man arguments, serious logical flaws and unsubstantiated opinion. Congrats!

    From @AlWest13 to @zCBu9k7axY If you could detail them, I would appreciate it.


    Mr. West,

    Had you extended the above invitation as recently as five to six years ago, I would have responded. Indeed, I used to spend as much as 20-30 hours per week crafting detailed, point-by-point refutations of such nonsense, replete with footnotes and journal references. Sadly, I concluded it was all a colossal waste of time. Yes, I know that makes me a very slow learner.

    There are two sorts of people who populate the blogosphere – believers and knowers. Unfortunately, knowers are outnumbered by believers by about 20 to 1. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact that around half the believers are absolutely convinced they are knowers. I look at it as a “knower/believer” variation of the Dunning-Kruger phenomenon – delusional and too delusional to be able to recognize it.

    Attempting to disabuse a devout believer of anything is a fool’s errand - sort of like trying to convince a snake handling Pentecostal in rural Georgia that his imaginary friend jesus will not actually protect him from the effects of rattlesnake bites. The phrase “urinating up a rope” does come to mind.

    The final straw was a debate about five or six years ago with a far, far right wing Republican on some public policy issue. Confronted with facts, evidence and logic, he shouted at me in frustration, “I don’t care about facts. I know what I believe.”

    For me, that was the end. I’m now pushing 70 and figure I have maybe three to five years left before I find myself sitting in a nursing home bed, drooling, soiling myself and utterly convinced that I am James Dewey Watson. I promised myself I wouldn’t waste another precious minute – let alone several hours – trying to urinate up that sadly familiar rope.

    So these days, I quickly and simply identify piles of steaming bullshit when I see them and then leave the delusional to enjoy their comfortable, feel-good delusions.

    Perhaps a younger and more energetic HBD person will take the time to dissect your blog and show you the error of your ways. Me? I’m binge-watching the 81 episodes of Midsomer Murders on Netflix.

    With kind regards, etc.

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    1. What a remarkably self-indulgent comment.

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  3. I'm pretty sure that you're misrepresenting the people who talk about IQ. Most of the stuff I've read on that subject doesn't generally talk too much about the sort of social/societal factors you claim they claim are selection pressures. The explanations I've heard (which I will note I haven't read any research personally about, so I may be talking out of my ass) are based more on adaptations to the nutrients available in the ancestral environment and parasite load. And, regardless, I think the most important aspect of HBD is that it's not really at the stage of causal mechanisms. The conclusions re: IQ aren't the result of some specific theory telling us that it should be that way, they're just based on data regarding the correlation between IQ and race, the correlation between IQ and social outcomes, and some measurements that show the differences in IQ are more pronounced on "culture-neutral" metrics and that the difference regresses with age, which suggests it's biological. That's what the field is about: finding correlations and then trying to see if they represent biological differences. That's what "human biodiversity" means. Sure, some people are trying to make bigger theories and histories out of that, and they're sometimes successful (I think hbdchick's one about cousin marriage is at least something that should be looked into academically) and sometimes not (that JayMan article looks pretty dodgy), but regardless that isn't what's important here.

    Your point about the massive cultural change in Europe over the course of the past five hundred years is well-taken, but I also get the feeling that it's not something that people would dispute in the first place. No one (well, maybe someone, but I'm not speaking for everyone here) is denying the Enlightenment and industrialization led to much healthier, more peaceful people, and that the decline in violence has a lot to do with social pressure. But it's also the case that that time is over now, and there really isn't much in the way of technological or social advances that will, through nutrition or other means, result in healthier, happier, less violent people. This is actually one of the reasons HBD is more important now: look at how the difference in height, which at one point seemed to be entirely a function of one's proper diet, now seems to be obviously heritable and obviously genetic, since people in the developed world generally don't grow up malnourished these days. Similar things apply to IQ and other traits. Most of the big environmental factors (environmental in the sense of diet and parasites, not parenting style) are equalized in the First World, nowadays, meaning that social outcomes are much more dependent on genetic differences.

    It's also worth noting that Steven Pinker, who wrote a book popularizing the decline of violence that you point out (and may in fact have been referencing), also has written a book called The Blank Slate specifically discussing how many of the social sciences deny the existence of genetic differences, especially those relating to intelligence. He's also definitely popularized a lot of "HBD"-related stuff.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this article: HBD is a pretty new movement and evolution works in inscrutable ways that are easy to handwave, so it's easy for people to get caught up in it and start making theories that don't make any sense.

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    1. "I'm pretty sure that you're misrepresenting the people who talk about IQ. Most of the stuff I've read on that subject doesn't generally talk too much about the sort of social/societal factors you claim they claim are selection pressures."

      A lot of HBD-ers I've seen have made exactly that connection between social complexity and IQ that I outlined above, but I suppose there must be competing pseudo-explanations out there.

      I have been accused by several people of basing this post on straw men, but that isn't true; everything is based on something an HBD-er has actually said. The claim that everything is inherited - that all behaviour is heritable - has been made frequently, including in this thread, and the absurd idea that evolution explains or determines history has been explicitly made by 'Jayman'.

      "Your point about the massive cultural change in Europe over the course of the past five hundred years is well-taken, but I also get the feeling that it's not something that people would dispute in the first place."

      Perhaps you're right: if asked the question directly, they wouldn't dispute it. But it is common to hear claims that contradict it, including the claims (you'll see it all over the comments on West Hunter) that there can be no cultural change without genetic change and that (biological) evolution explains history. Jayman and hbdchick in particular have proposed mechanisms for major historical shifts that depend on precisely the kind of selection that socio-cultural change can overrule, like the claim that Carolingian society selected for a certain kind of population. That doesn't really make sense. When it comes to humans, socio-cultural change is more important than genetic change. HBD-ers want to deny this, but it's really the single fundamental aspect of human beings.

      As for Steven Pinker, I was indeed referencing him, and I have read and enjoyed The Blank Slate (and Better Angels, which is one of the best books I've ever read). Pinker supports some of the general claims made by some proponents of this HBD thing, but I guarantee that he doesn't support the strong form that calls itself 'HBD' (if you see what I mean), and if you read his more recent books and articles, you'll find more socio-cultural and historical explanations than genetic ones.

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    2. Pincher Martin12 March 2014 22:27

      "As for Steven Pinker, I was indeed referencing him, and I have read and enjoyed The Blank Slate (and Better Angels, which is one of the best books I've ever read). Pinker supports some of the general claims made by some proponents of this HBD thing, but I guarantee that he doesn't support the strong form that calls itself 'HBD' (if you see what I mean), and if you read his more recent books and articles, you'll find more socio-cultural and historical explanations than genetic ones."

      Well, it's not safe to publicly take a hard hereditarian approach about group differences. So Pinker flirts with it without really coming out for it directly.

      The one exception in The Blank Slate was gender differences.

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  4. A couple of points, right off the bat:

    1) 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: http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/dan-freedmans-babies/


    (cont.)

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  5. 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.

    Now, on to some specific points you made in your post:

    (cont.)

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    1. "The evidence is out on Nubia, but there too, I don't consider it likely that the Nubian kingdoms of old were initially of indigenous stock."

      Why? If you look at the Meroitic language, the one used in inscriptions, you'll see that it is almost certainly Nilo-Saharan, not Afroasiatic - related to Luo and Maasai, not Egyptian. Civilization in Nubia probably rose due to trade with Egypt, but the leaders seem to be autochthonous, as evidenced by both inscriptions and grave sites. Probably no more and no less indigenous than the development of literate urban civilization in Anglo-Saxon England.

      What you are saying about Africa is so out of whack with the archaeological evidence that it is a little embarrassing.

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    2. That doesn't prove anything. In all likelihood, Nordic people founded Kievan Rus. And yet they all speak Slavic languages. South Indian Brahmins all speak Dravidian languages -- and yet HInduism and the caste system was imposed by Aryan invaders, while all the important liturgical languages of Hinduism are Indo-Aryan. This sort of inversion tends to happen from place to place.

      In fact I'm shocked that you even think this counts as a rhetorical point against mine, since you are so adamant (and correctly so) about the fact that genes do not correlate perfectly with languages.

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    3. The reason why I remain skeptical that Nubia is the product of pure cultural diffusion is DNA and mummy evidence, but the evidence is far from conclusive at this point. Hair from mummies, for instance, is not as tightly coiled as it is among most of the darker Nilo-Saharan groups. I see some papers on mtDNA that suggests considerable gene flow from Egypt to the south, but that's just a single locus.

      If it turns out that the well-to-do had greater "outsider" ancestry, than, say, serfs -- that's a strike against the autochthonous origin theory for Nubia. Nobody is willing to look at this issue honestly, and I'd be happy to recant my skepticism if proven wrong.

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    4. Regardless of the origin of the Nubian state, it appears that Nubian people - speakers of Nilo-Saharan languages and not closely related genetically to Egyptians or other Mediterranean groups - adapted successfully to the idea of living in a state and developed a written language and administration. All human groups are potentially capable of this; nearly everyone can learn how to read, barring some severe disability, and nearly everyone can learn how to write. We're not all the same, but we share enough basic faculties that all of this is easily achievable.

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  7. As for the primitive tribal aggregations in the heart of west Africa -- Oyo, Benin, Ashanti, etc. -- absolutely nobody can call these "civilizations" by any stretch of the imagination, unless you have a hidden penchant for the sort of obscurantism and semantic casuistry you decried earlier. Ife-Ife counts as a "city", only if you also count shanty-towns in northern India as "cities", or the Anasazi dwellings in the American southwest. Virtually nobody from the Asante to the Yoruba was literate before European colonial rule. That means absolutely no science, no engineering, and a rudimentary economy based on barter and exchange. Barring giant earthworks such as Songbo's eredo (which meander off in random directions, and do not even resemble a crude facsimile of the high degree of sophistication necessary to build the Great Pyramids, let alone Stonehenge), they had nothing but the rudest infrastructure or lasting architecture. In essence, they were not socially advanced enough to support even a primitive feudal society. Call them what you like, but it is not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination to claim that all of sub-Saharan Africa was in a state of stark primitiveness before the arrival of colonialists from the north (Europe) and the east (Islamic traders and slave-raiders).

    Whether not this proves the innate cognitive inferiority of the indigenes is a totally separate question. But it has been cited repeatedly (by the usual liars, starting from Franz Boas) that the presence of indigenous "civilizations" in sub-Saharan Africa is the ultimate rebuttal to the old lies of the "scientific racists" (i.e. that SS Africans, on the whole, have never proven any capacity to maintain a higher civilization). As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge this fact, that's certainly what anybody who observes SSA with an open mind would see with his own eyes, if he would only speak the truth honestly. Nearly all of east Asia was dirt poor upon the eve of colonialism in Africa -- South Korea had been colonized itself by Japan, and, during the 1960s, was poorer on a per-capita basis than west African nations like Ghana. South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and mainland China have since surged ahead. Black Africa hasn't.

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    1. *Ile-Ife.

      You appear to be wholly ignorant of the literature on pre-colonial African civilizations. There were lots and lots of urban metalworking civilizations in Africa before Europeans got there, and in almost every case of proposed foreign introduction of urbanisation and civilization, the archaeology points to indigenous origins. This has been known for decades, and you could begin by reading Connah's African Civilizations.

      It should probably be pointed out that European civilization was as influenced by non-European sources as African civilizations were by non-African ones.

      "it is not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination to claim that all of sub-Saharan Africa was in a state of stark primitiveness before the arrival of colonialists from the north (Europe) and the east (Islamic traders and slave-raiders)."

      Not only is this an 'exaggeration', it's clearly untrue and a completely ridiculous statement. You need to read about the archaeology of Africa to realise how wrong this is.

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    2. We can marvel at the quality of metalworking, the arts and crafts, the sculptures, and the textiles of west Africa before colonial rule. They even had remarkable social hierarchies for a people who were illiterate, on the whole. But Indians of the American southwest had all these things (except metalworking), and yet we don't call the Hohokam a civilization.

      Just why the hell do we call the Urnfield or the Apennine "cultures" (they had metalworking, quite interesting arts and crafts, etc.) and the Asante a "civilization", other pure serendipity, i.e. we got to see some of their social hierarchy in action, when the former were more technologically advanced than the latter? Oh wait, they were in Europe. My bad.

      If Europeans had landed 500 years later than they did, we might not be calling these anything whatsoever. I see this as nothing but political correctness. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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    3. Why are we focusing only on west Africa? East Africa had cities that were incredibly important in the development of Indian Ocean trade and that, by the fifteenth century, had direct links with Indian and Malay cities (Chinese porcelain and even an English medieval pewter jug have been found along the navigable portions of the Zambezi). The archaeological evidence is very clear there: these cities grew because of indigenous population growth and acquired their Islamic character only once they had got going. Again, Graham Connah is a good source for this.

      It's pretty clear, in any case, that the urban centres of pre-colonial west Africa was orders of magnitude bigger than any settlement of the pre-Columbian American southwest, or the Urnfield culture for that matter. They were governed by states, as well - the Oba of Benin was not a chief and what he ruled wasn't a confederation. He was a king and he ruled a kingdom. This is why we call it a 'civilization'.

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    4. I apologize.

      I was under the illusion that the Arabs had transformed east Africa into the charnel house of the continent -- anywhere from 8 to 25 million indigenous inhabitants were carted away as slaves, a great many of whom died in transit because of the barbaric practice castrating the males so that they could be trusted as house slaves. That medieval Arab writers of the Abbasid (long before the rise of the important settlements along the Swahili coast) from Al-Farabi to Avicenna held a very dismal view of the state of technology and culture of the Bantu inhabitants. That Islamic trade came first, and then came the coastal settlements. That Swahili only exists as a lingua franca today precisely because of the depradations of these same slave traders. That until recently, Arabs and people of mixed Arabo-Persian stock were running the show in places like Zanzibar, until they were massacred and driven out in 1963.

      Well, apparently, I was wrong. *shrugs*

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    5. Apparently, you need to read up on the archaeology of the place, not just the genetics or recent history.

      Delete
    6. Pincher Martin12 March 2014 22:18

      Mr. West,

      "You appear to be wholly ignorant of the literature on pre-colonial African civilizations. There were lots and lots of urban metalworking civilizations in Africa before Europeans got there, and in almost every case of proposed foreign introduction of urbanisation and civilization, the archaeology points to indigenous origins. This has been known for decades, and you could begin by reading Connah's African Civilizations."

      You appear to want to have it both ways. On the one hand, you want to claim in the manner of Jared Diamond that geographical forces prevented Africa's civilizations from developing to the same level as those found in Europe.

      On the other hand, you're also trying to argue that Africa did in fact develop remarkable civilizations that were the superior of anything Europe had at the time.

      Well, which is it? It can't be both. Either geography prevented Africa from developing or it didn't.

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    7. "Africa did in fact develop remarkable civilizations that were the superior of anything Europe had at the time."

      I don't recall saying this. I merely said that African civilization was more developed than you think - which is definitely true - not more developed than Europe.

      The geography of much of Africa places constraints on human activity. For example, the Sahara can be crossed, but with great difficulty, cutting most of Africa off from the Mediterranean, and there are no other great inland seas encouraging the development of naval technologies. The presence of tsetse and other endemic tropical diseases constrained the development of mixed agro-pastoral economies in large parts of tropical Africa. Constraints such as these do not bar people entirely from creating vibrant civilizations, but they make it harder to do so, and it seems to me that people in Africa, like people everywhere, did the best with what they had.

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    8. Pincher Martin13 March 2014 21:21

      Mr. West,

      "I don't recall saying this. I merely said that African civilization was more developed than you think - which is definitely true - not more developed than Europe."

      My mistake. I misread one of your sentences.

      "The geography of much of Africa places constraints on human activity. For example, the Sahara can be crossed, but with great difficulty, cutting most of Africa off from the Mediterranean, and there are no other great inland seas encouraging the development of naval technologies."

      Africa is a massive and wealthy continent with a wide range of topographical features and climates. It is larger than Europe and South America combined. Parts of the African continent were also in close proximity and had contact with many of the first ancient civilizations, so it's not as if the people on the African continent were as isolated from the first important civilizational developments as, say, were New Guineans, Australian aborigines, or Native Americans.

      The mostly superficial environmental constraints on African development that you mention could just as well have been helpful in its development. For example, you elsewhere cite Japan and England's isolation as a helpful factor in their development, as both lands were somewhat protected from harmful influences on the Eurasian mainland and yet not so distant that they couldn't still borrow from it.

      But then you mention the Sahara as a near insuperable barrier, even though we know that many Africans traded frequently with Egyptians and later with the Carthaginians, Berbers, and other people on the Mediterranean coast. Certainly the slave trade had no difficulties going through the Sahara. Even tropical diseases in Africa had a perversely beneficial role for Africans in keeping the European colonists out of much of Africa until quite a late date.

      Yet people in Africa didn't seem to make much of this trade or the relative isolation that their geographical position and those deadly diseases afforded them. They could mediate and control relations with outsiders to a far greater degree than, say, Native Americans or Australian aborigines could, but they don't seem to have benefited much from it.

      ...but they make it harder to do so, and it seems to me that people in Africa, like people everywhere, did the best with what they had.

      No one is claiming it's their fault. What we're trying to understand if the limitations are biological in origin rather than superficial geographical, economic, and cultural limitations that can be swept aside in short order.

      South Korea was poorer than Ghana in the mid-fifties. It had just been through a nasty civil war in which foreign troops had tromped up and down the Korean peninsula. That war followed nearly four decades of a brutal Japanese occupation. Less than 25 percent of Korea was literate in 1945. The education system, which had been run by the Japanese to control the population, was a shambles. There was a shortage of teachers.

      Even worse, Koreans were not united, and there was a genuine fear the north could attack at any time. So much of the economy had to be directed towards military security.

      And yet despite these problems, by the 1960s most of these educational problems in South Korea were in the past. Literacy rates were in the high 80s, for both men and women. Today literacy rates in both North and South Korea are above 99 percent.

      Now consider the differences with Ghana's development over the last sixty years and you get some idea why many people believe there is more to it than starting literacy rates and the adverse effects of colonization.

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    9. "On the one hand, you want to claim in the manner of Jared Diamond that geographical forces prevented Africa's civilizations from developing to the same level as those found in Europe"

      This statement carries with it the stench of a stagnant unilineal perspective of societal complexity.

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    10. Pincher Martin15 March 2014 16:30

      "This statement carries with it the stench of a stagnant unilineal perspective of societal complexity."

      Let it waft across your nostrils a little longer. Perhaps the quality of your sense of smell will improve with time.

      Delete
    11. AJ West says:
      You appear to be wholly ignorant of the literature on pre-colonial African civilizations. There were lots and lots of urban metalworking civilizations in Africa before Europeans got there, and in almost every case of proposed foreign introduction of urbanisation and civilization, the archaeology points to indigenous origins. This has been known for decades, and you could begin by reading Connah's African Civilizations.
      --------------------------------------
      Indeed he is, and his claims, delivered with the typical HBD air of messainic certainity that stands in for actual knowledge. And one of the key civilizations of Africa is Kemet in the Nile Valley, a credible scholarshave shown clonclusively since the 1980s. The peoples who founded Kemet and inaugurated the era of the dynasties were tropical Africans from the south, proved by hard skeletal, cranial, cultural, archaeological, dental and DNA evidence (O’Connor 2007, Wengrow 2004, Bard 2001, Yurco 1989/1992, Lovell 1999, Irish 2006, Keita 2005, et al). In the north the pattern is the same- the ancients cluster with Africans rather than Europeans or Middle Easteners (Kemp 2005, Smith 2002). And they did not need any “Islamic civilization” to do it, or Asiatic influence. In fact they had it “done” long BEFORE that. Their closest cousins were not “Middle Easterners” but, wait for it.. Nubians, as proved by credible DNA, cultural and skeletal evidence (Yurco 1989, Zakrewski 2007, Godde 2009, Hanihara 2002, et al). In fact the Nubians and Egyptians were so close that in some eras they are indistinguishable in the archaeological record (Bianchi 2004), with both sides conquering the territory of the other. Several Pharaohs were of Nubian origin or descent (Yurco 1989, Robins and Schute 1984) and typical sub-Saharan DNA markers show up not only among ordinary ancients but among pharaohs as well, like Ramses 3 (Hawass 2012). '

      Citations found below, but of course, typically they will be avoided and ducked with snark by the HBD "faithful" for whom credible scholarship is practically kryptonite..
      http://egyptsearchreloaded.proboards.com/thread/15/basic-database-nile-valley-studies


      misdreavus12 says:
      We can marvel at the quality of metalworking, the arts and crafts, the sculptures, and the textiles of west Africa before colonial rule. They even had remarkable social hierarchies for a people who were illiterate, on the whole. But Indians of the American southwest had all these things (except metalworking), and yet we don't call the Hohokam a civilization... I see this as nothing but political correctness. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

      Actually credible scholars do deal with something called Hokoham civilization. You simply do not have command of the facts. And it has nothing to do with "political correctness"- the standard HBD diversionary tactic and mantra, when scholarship exposes it fallacies. Just as the Celts are considered a civilization, so the Hohokam. The phrase Hokoham civilization appears quite frequently in the literature on indigenous America: Just some titles should suffice: America Before Columbus: Pre-Columbian Art in the Collection, Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest, The legacy of Mesoamerica: history and culture and so on, not even counting peer-reviewed articles. You really don't have a clue. The Hokoham are significant because of a relatively sophisticated network of irrigation, their productive base, impact on the region and other cultures and so on.

      And what you say about West Africa is a further demonstration of ignorance. Actually several kingdoms of West Africa had writing, just as several European kingdoms had writing- which itself is an import to Europe from the "Middle East." I suppose that is "political correctness" too. Consider the correction served.

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    12. Misdreavus says
      "The evidence is out on Nubia, but there too, I don't consider it likely that the Nubian kingdoms of old were initially of indigenous stock."
      Do you have any credible scholarship in support of your claim or is what you "consider" the only standard that matters?

      The reason why I remain skeptical that Nubia is the product of pure cultural diffusion is DNA and mummy evidence, but the evidence is far from conclusive at this point. Hair from mummies, for instance, is not as tightly coiled as it is among most of the darker Nilo-Saharan groups. I see some papers on mtDNA that suggests considerable gene flow from Egypt to the south, but that's just a single locus.

      Actually credible scholarship (Lovell 1999, Keita 2005, Bard 2001, Morkot 2005, Bianchi 2004 et al) considers the Nubians a quite indigenous population with some contact with surrounding regions like any other area. They traded, made war etc etc just like areas in Europe. And hair of different coil patterns you refer to is well within the range of indigenous tropical African variation. One scholar says just this in a peer reviewed article- quotE:

      "However this hair is grossly no different from that of Fulani, some Kanuri, or Somali and does not require a gene flow explanation any more than curly hair in Greece necessarily does. Extremely "wooly" hair is not the only kind native to tropical Africa.."
      --S. O. Y. Keita. (1993). "Studies and Comments on Ancient Egyptian Biological Relationships," History in Africa 20 (1993) 129-54)

      You simply do not have command of scholarship in the field, yet continue to make sweeping statements loaded with inaccuracy and distortion. What is "darker Nilo-Saharan" groups mean? Speakers of the Nilo-Saharan language constitute up to 50 million people, stretching from parts of Egypt Benin in the West to the congo further south. Said languages, wait for it.. INCLUDE PEOPLES FROM NUBIA. So how can you say Nubians "differ" from "other " "Nilo_Saharan" groups when they themselves are part of that very SAME Nilo-Saharan group?

      Again the above demonstrates you do not have command of the facts, yet continue to make sweeping pronouncements.

      Delete
  8. 3) 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?)

    (cont.)

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    1. I understand the principle, and it probably accounts for the original phylogenetic trait of altruism (although it should be pointed out that preference for kin is, everywhere, based on imprinting).

      Europe was just as nepotistic as anywhere in the world until very recently, when strong states, industrialisation, and increasing living standards made it easier to punish nepotism and less advantageous to pursue it. Industrialisation removed the reliance on kin for basic necessities and enabled a great deal of new-found freedom at every level of society. It meant that it wasn't and isn't necessary to know all of one's relatives, removing the pressure to act in ways that privileged them. Far from supposed European altruism resulting from an expanding circle of kin, it makes far more sense for it to result from a shrinking circle, such that people who would before have been considered kin now appear as much the same as everybody else. It probably accounts for the more troubled teenage years of people in industrial and post-industrial societies, too. Industrialisation, not marriage patterns.

      And it is pretty clear from studies of cross cousin marriage and other such things that the social obligations that go along with the marriage - including an assortment of debt relationships - are more important in generating nepotistic acts than deeply felt emotions of brotherhood. It is a fundamental misunderstanding of clannish actions in the Arab world and elsewhere to see them as motivated by strong emotions instead of judgements of the pros and cons. Of course, these societies are less industrialised, less literate, and more reliant on kin than societies in western Europe, all of which traits increase the need for nepotism.

      I also feel compelled to point out that Muslims pay zakat and are expected to give their wealth freely to help those less fortunate despite their apparent inbred revulsion to helping people they don't know. Hmph.

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    2. If you think for a second that I think social differences, et al. don't matter, of course I think they do! Just look at the impact of the sexual revolution. It hasn't impacted all groups of people exactly the same way, but it was a social change.

      Nepotism, of course, exists everywhere to some degree or another, but some people in some places do everything in their power to stamp it out, and to the extent that they can recruit the cooperation of non-related peers, they might succeed over time. In a place like Gambia, just nobody gives a damn. The project won't even get started any time soon. There is no Lee Kuan Yew to pick up the mantle where others have failed.

      Just about everybody might be tempted to steal under conditions of extreme poverty -- but even in Japan under severe wartime rationing, there was a lot less thievery going on than there is today in urban American projects. The fact that social behaviors vary rapidly over time is a given. What remains to be asked is why people behave so differently under similar social conditions. The Japanese have similar rates of teenage pregnancy as South Koreans, despite the fact that the former is a far more sexually open society, and in spite of the Protestant Christian influence on the latter. In fact, so do the Taiwanese.

      (Rates of teenage pregnancy in all three countries, of course, have increased in recent years. Which proves that not everything is reducible to genetics. But they're still far lower than they are in the rest of the developed world.)

      You'd also have to consider religion -- the fear of hellfire can convince just about anyone to pay zakat, as you just mentioned. If HBD Chick's hypothesis is true, Christianity was in fact the driver of outbreeding among the clannish tribes of northern Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Evolution directs culture, and culture directs evolution.

      That being said, despite the best efforts of religious hardliners, the local temperament (or culture, or whatever) of the people will always seep through the actual practice of the faith itself. Just look at how Protestantism is practiced in most parts of Nigeria compared to how Scandinavians treat their Lutheran services. Sometimes, the hardliners will prevail -- other times, they don't. Judging from opinion polls, Iranians (Persians) are a lot less observant today in their practice of their Islam than Egyptians (e.g. the latter are more likely to fast every day of Ramadan), yet the former is an actual theocracy.

      You'd have to wonder if all slates worldwide respond to the same etchings in exactly the same way. I do wonder a lot.

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  9. 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.

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    1. "Ukrainians are much more corrupt than the Norwegians, and they've been this way for a long time."

      Of course, this is a fair comparison, because both Ukraine and Norway are equally politically stable, equally prone to invasion by vastly more powerful neighbours, and equally economically viable. Right?

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    2. Being invaded doesn't explain why you suspect that your neighbor might rob you if he thought he could get away with it (and of course, your suspicions are valid). It doesn't explain why, if a friend of yours ever lands any sort of government job, he instantly uses it as a mechanism to rip off other people, and to instantly hire dozens of his unqualified relatives and near-relatives. It doesn't explain why you can't get anything done in your neighborhood without paying a thousand bribes, from obtaining a drivers' license to calling the police in the event of a home intrusion.

      Poverty doesn't explain this well, either. In fact, you might expect the direction of causality to be in the other direction. Hard to get an advanced economy going when people are constantly at each others' throats, is it? But I digress.

      Both Japan and Germany had relatively low rates of these anti-social behaviors when they were being bombed to the Stone Age by the allies. Compare the coordination of Japanese civilians during the war effort to the bumbling of south Italians. (And thank goodness that at least one group of fascists was incompetent.) These behaviors can be fixed through social institutions, but they don't work all the way -- and you have to get them running in the first place, which can be difficult if people in a society simply do not trust each other at all.

      You know something is strange when the descendants of Scandinavian immigrants in America are practicing a variant of Jante Law multiple generations after the first stock of founding immigrants -- long after they have forgotten how to speak Swedish or Danish or whatever. It might even make you wonder sometime. Why haven't the corrupt institutions of America polluted them yet?

      Why are members of the Chinese disapora from Malaysia to Peru considered a model minority, no matter what the local circumstances? There's a wide variation in social circumstances between Japan, Malaysia, Canada, France, Indonesia, and the rest -- yet in any case, the Chinese tend to behave more similarly to each other than they do to the local people. Their IQ scores are dead similar, as is their record of academic achievement. (In Malaysia they were imported as poor tin miners and laborers -- and yet the Malays need race quotas to restrict their entry into universities.)

      You'd think you'd find one place on Earth where a Chinatown looks closer to Haiti than it does to Shenzhen, but you don't. Culture matters, but invoking it to explain all the commonness you see around you simply defies the imagination.

      You might think it makes sense, but I don't.

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    3. You know, in case you are wondering (you aren't), but there are experiments that could settle this silly nature-nurture debate once and for all. All you have to do is look at an admixed population and look for discrepancies between inherited DNA and social affiliation.

      Admixture between two racial groups can, over time, result in a partial disaggregation between genes that contribute to outward physical appearance and those that govern everything else. Neglecting pleiotropy, we could estimate the degree to which, say, the difference in Type II diabetes between Pima Indians and Spanish settlers is the product of social circumstances. We could settle the silly debate over whether genetics explains part of the IQ gap between white and black Americans -- see Razib Khan's thoughts here:

      http://www.unz.com/gnxp/how-the-race-intelligence-and-genetics-question-will-semi-resolve-within-the-next-10-years/

      But of course, nobody is going to fund any sort of research like this. The very subject itself is a powder keg in academia. People like you have decided that genetics doesn't count for squat -- not even for things like susceptibility to alcoholism among people with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry, and that every Maori is exactly the same as every Welshman in the grey matter.

      I for one don't.

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    4. "Being invaded doesn't explain why you suspect that your neighbor might rob you if he thought he could get away with it (and of course, your suspicions are valid). It doesn't explain why, if a friend of yours ever lands any sort of government job, he instantly uses it as a mechanism to rip off other people, and to instantly hire dozens of his unqualified relatives and near-relatives."

      Yes, it does. Political instability means that you have to rely on kin for protection. Kin look out for kin. If the state broke down in England, that's how it would be again in a fairly short time.

      And being suspicious of your neighbours is self-perpetuating in the absence of a state. Without a strong state stopping people from stealing from one another, fear of theft is inevitable and likely to be justified. If Ukraine were somehow ruled by benevolent robots who prevented all such crimes and enforced restitution and punishment through courts, I have no doubt at all that Ukrainian people would calm down and be less fearful. Just as they are in, say, Canada.

      "People like you have decided that genetics doesn't count for squat -- not even for things like susceptibility to alcoholism among people with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry, and that every Maori is exactly the same as every Welshman in the grey matter. "

      Not at all (talk about a straw man). Clearly, genetics counts for something. But people are very complex creatures and the skills and abilities of parents do not automatically pass onto their children. Brains are complex, respond to lots of variables, and heritability of intelligence and ability is not direct and simple.

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    5. >Yes, it does. Political instability means that you have to rely on kin for protection. Kin look out for kin. If the state broke down in England, that's how it would be again in a fairly short time.

      Empirically not the case. Southeast England and the Dutch Lowlands starting outbreeding BEFORE strong states came around.

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    6. I'm not sure how you think that invalidates the point. First of all, even if it were true, it doesn't show that people in non-state societies or troubled and anarchic situations don't rely on kin; they definitely do, and that can be shown trivially easily from pretty well all of the ethnographic and ethnohistorical record. That reliance demonstrably increases the likelihood of nepotism and prejudicial ethnocentrism.

      States have been present in southeast England and the Netherlands for a very long time, and we have no records (except archaeological ones) from pre-state times. So I'm not sure where you're getting this strange claim. Certainly southeast England has descended into anarchy only very rarely in the past 1000 years.

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    7. Misdreavus says:
      there are experiments that could settle this silly nature-nurture debate once and for all. All you have to do is look at an admixed population and look for discrepancies between inherited DNA and social affiliation.

      Admixture between two racial groups can, over time, result in a partial disaggregation between genes that contribute to outward physical appearance and those that govern everything else.


      Such an experiment would be dubious because social affiliations and culture can differ widely over time, and may or may not have any relevant link to inherited DNA. And how would admixture accomplish the magic you claim? Give a practical, concrete example illustrating your theory. If admixture between Spaniards and Indians causes lighter skin, how does this "disaggregate" genes governing physical features from say, agricultural practices? Do you have any concrete examples of your notion in action?

      But of course, nobody is going to fund any sort of research like this. The very subject itself is a powder keg in academia. People like you have decided that genetics doesn't count for squat -- not even for things like susceptibility to alcoholism among people with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry, and that every Maori is exactly the same as every Welshman in the grey matter.

      Not really. There is plenty of funding for HBD support, from the Pioneer Fund, to publication outlets like Mankind quarterly, to assorted think tanks and private supporters. And even in "politically correct" academia the research is going on- it is just not highly visible or vocal, or openly racist as with some scholars, but it is there. This is why there is continuing debate on the biological race concept- proponents are around to keep a very robust debate going.. They have not been blown up by any powderkeg.

      Sometimes it is visible though. Proponents of biological race as a basis for medical treatments for example have not been cast out of academia, and have obtained wide publicity- even backing from some pharmecutical outfits as the BiDil issue shows. Murray's Bell Curve sold tens of thousands of copies and his other books are hardly gathering dust in storage. HDB friendly authors Harpending and Cochran 2010 have not had any trouble getting published, and so on..

      And what is so special about alcoholism among people with recent hunter-gatherer ancestry? There are numerous NON hunter-gatherers like the Irish that have, statistically and historically speaking, demonstrate a documented problem with alcholoism. How do agricultural peoples and the hunter gatherers compare on alcoholism? And Maoris and Welsh both have the same brain matter, being human. Do you have evidence that Maori brains and say different from Welsh brains? What data? And what is it relevant in terms of?

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  10. You can blame just about X on any Y as long as you find an association between the two variables. But here is what I consider most troublesome about "culture only" explanations. They violate Occam's Razor in just about every way imaginable.

    For instance, how is white supremacy responsible for both higher IQs among Ashkenazi Jews AND lower IQs among African Americans?

    How are aerial bombings to blame for the high trust and cooperation among Japanese during WWII, yet be simultaneously responsible for lower social trust in eastern Europe or elsewhere?

    Why do economists blame natural resources for the social dysfunction and internecine warfare in the Congo, yet also attribute natural resources to the success of western settler nations? Why do Gulf Arabs and Equitoreal Guineans behave so currently when they land upon oil? The former have actually built a society of sorts, while the latter nation has children staving in the streets despite a per capita GDP in excess of $36,000. Why?

    Why is a culture of rabbinical scholarship to blame for higher rates of achievement among Ashkenazi Jews, despite the fact that Mizrahi Jews have a parallel culture and yet much lower IQ scores?

    Why do different populations react so differently to "white supremacism, racism, and poverty"? Why do some people respond to extreme material deprivation with high rates of violent crime, and others with low crime? How on Earth does poverty boost the athletic abilities of African Americans (while depressing their academic abilities), if both are largely socially determined, which is a standard opinion among sociologists? How does one go up while the other goes down? How on earth can anyone blame high rates of sexual assault on outsider prejudice?

    If a single social variable has very different impacts on two different kinds of people, perhaps it is time to explore alternative explanations.

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    1. "How are aerial bombings to blame for the high trust and cooperation among Japanese during WWII, yet be simultaneously responsible for lower social trust in eastern Europe or elsewhere?"

      Can you not see how different these scenarios are? Eastern Europe was ravaged by conflict; Britain and Japan were bombed but their governments and most of their institutions remained not only intact, but strong. There was no total social breakdown in Japan or Britain at any point during the war. The same cannot be said for Belarus.

      Also important to bear in mind is that attitudes can persist for a long time. It takes a long time for people to become accustomed to the idea of other ethnic groups living among them - some people go their entire lives without adjusting to this. People can get used to law and order, as well, and can pass that on to their children, depending on the social environment in which they grow up.

      Britain and Japan have been more or less unified and more or less trouble-free for over three hundred years, with a constitutional crisis in Japan and the odd strike or riot in Britain. Neither country has entirely broken down or been invaded and turned into an anarchic power vacuum in centuries. People in those countries are used to law and order and don't think of their neighbours as threats. The same is not true of Belarus.

      It is also notable that Canada and the USA are very different in society and attitudes despite both having recent migration from a wide variety of source populations and despite their populations both being primarily European in origin. The difference in murder rate in the USA and Canada is not down to genetics, and Americans are not five times as murderous as Britons and Canadians because that has been selected for in their society. It's probably because, as Steven Pinker makes clear, government has always been quite strong in Canada, with migrations west led by government forces and accompanied by police, courts, and all of the institutions of law and order. People in Canada became used to living in a society with strong institutions to which they could refer for justice. People in the USA did not, because of their different history.

      "Why do economists blame natural resources for the social dysfunction and internecine warfare in the Congo, yet also attribute natural resources to the success of western settler nations?"

      Because people are very complex, and when you get lots of people together in a society, the level of complexity is even higher. You want a simple explanation, but the explanation is complicated and depends on the cultural history and social background of all of the people involved, as you'd expect when dealing with human beings.

      Delete
    2. If you want to know why Congo is so troubled, the answer might lie in the fact that, when the Belgians left, the country's institutions were all set up for people and offices that they didn't have. The Belgians tried to integrate their Congolese operations into the world economy, and they were very successful at it. But they didn't actually trains any Congolese people to do the work required for them to continue to be successful upon independence. The Belgian Congo had almost no Congolese lawyers, doctors, engineers, academics, or agronomists, but it had institutions and companies that depended on these things. When the Belgians left, it was worse than having to build an economy from scratch. They had institutions that nobody knew how to use. Modern societies like ours continue to function because lawyers, doctors, engineers, and teachers are constantly being trained and have been trained in the latest techniques for a long, long time. Take that away and bam!

      "Why is a culture of rabbinical scholarship to blame for higher rates of achievement among Ashkenazi Jews, despite the fact that Mizrahi Jews have a parallel culture and yet much lower IQ scores?"

      You should read Botticini and Eckstein. Their model is very strong, and if you want to continue making claims about Ashkenazim it might be a good idea to read their work. They use a mathematical model, and I'm sure a lot of these HBD folk would find that right up their alley.

      And as for Chinese people being a model minority everywhere, the fact is that Chinese people are usually literate, they usually form organisations to support one another and campaign for their rights in their new homes, they often retain their language over a couple of generations or more, they place a high value on education (but less on imagination), and - importantly - they often retain business links back home, which can be very advantageous. It is difficult to do any of this if you're enslaved.

      It's also disingenuous to say that Chinese people first came to Malaysia and Indonesia as miners, or that they were somehow wholly separated from their ancestral homeland. And by 'disingenuous' I mean 'untrue'. A lot of Chinese people arrived in Malaysia and Indonesia to mine, but before them there were thousands of other Chinese shopkeepers and traders who thrived on trade between Indo-Malaysia and China. They relied on their connections, just as we all do, all the time.

      Delete
    3. Pincher Martin12 March 2014 22:01

      Mr West,

      "Can you not see how different these scenarios are? Eastern Europe was ravaged by conflict; Britain and Japan were bombed but their governments and most of their institutions remained not only intact, but strong. There was no total social breakdown in Japan or Britain at any point during the war. The same cannot be said for Belarus."

      And yet East Europeans, for the most part, don't score any lower on IQ tests than do Western Europeans.

      Nor has the enormous political instability in China over the last millennia, and particularly over the last hundred years from, say, the mid-nineteenth century rebellions to the end of the Cultural Revolution, appear to have adversely affected IQ scores in China.

      "And as for Chinese people being a model minority everywhere, the fact is that Chinese people are usually literate..."

      Not even close to true. Chinese literacy in the Qing was almost certainly below 10 percent if we are talking about people who could read more than a receipt. Classical Chinese was not a language built for spreading literacy among the masses, and the huachiao who immigrated to SE Asia were not from the gentry.

      As for organizational talents, the overseas Chinese were nothing remarkable. Forming ethnic organizations and campaigning for rights hardly represents some revolutionary approach to human affairs.

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    4. "Chinese literacy in the Qing was almost certainly below 10 percent if we are talking about people who could read more than a receipt. Classical Chinese was not a language built for spreading literacy among the masses, and the huachiao who immigrated to SE Asia were not from the gentry."

      Then you'd have a very hard time explaining why it is that Chinese people in Southeast Asia in early modern times were very often literate. Many, if not most, of the people who lived in Chinese communities in Batavia, Singapore, and Melaka before the end of the colonial period could read and write, and they depended on trade with the motherland.

      "And yet East Europeans, for the most part, don't score any lower on IQ tests than do Western Europeans."

      Why would we expect them to? It wasn't proposed that civil disruption during the twentieth century would account for lower intelligence. It was merely proposed as an explanation for social disfunction in eastern Europe when compared with Britain and Japan.

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    5. A.J. writes:

      The difference in murder rate in the USA and Canada is not down to genetics

      I'm not sure if someone else has pointed this out, but when controlled for race, white murder rates are about on par with most of Western Europe.

      http://hailtoyou.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/white-murder-rates-by-u-s-state-1960-vs-2010/

      Of course, this is difficult to figure out conclusively. Another way to get at this rate is to use gun homicides by state as a proxy. And when we do that, we find that gun homicides in predominantly white states are near or lower than European gun homicide rates:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States_by_state

      Wyoming, for example, has a gun homicide rate of 0.9 per 100k, and a murder rate of 1.4 per 100k.

      Compare the mountain west states with D.C. and southern states.

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    6. Pincher Martin13 March 2014 19:30

      Mr. West,

      "Then you'd have a very hard time explaining why it is that Chinese people in Southeast Asia in early modern times were very often literate. Many, if not most, of the people who lived in Chinese communities in Batavia, Singapore, and Melaka before the end of the colonial period could read and write...."

      What's so hard to explain about this?

      The end of the colonial period in much of SE Asia was post-WW2, but the first waves of Chinese immigrants to the region date back to the Ming and early Qing. That's three to four hundred years difference. Surely you don't believe a group of people need to be Chinese in order to become literate in that length of time?

      I've seen no data on literacy rates for those initial waves of Chinese settlers, but based on what we know about China at the time, we can reasonably infer that the vast majority of huachiao were illiterate at any reading skill beyond recognizing a few characters. They were mostly poor traders and laborers, not scholars or members of the wealthy merchant class.

      But they were Chinese. And the Chinese, as a group, are pretty smart and industrious no matter where they go. So when later educational opportunities came, whether that was in one of the local languages, English, Dutch, French, or some Chinese dialect, the Chinese made the most of them. The same could not be said of the other non-Chinese locals in SE Asia who were exposed to many of the same opportunities.

      So this Chinese advantage in the region did not come from an initial starting point in literacy. Many ethnic Chinese in SE Asia today don't speak Chinese at all. Or they speak some dialect of Chinese at home, but don't know how to read or write characters. Or their families have just started learning Mandarin in the last two generations with the rise of China.

      The Thai Chinese, for example, are well-integrated in Thai society. For the most part, they've adopted Thai names and exclusively speak the Thai language. That hasn't prevented them from dominating the Thai economy. That's not because a bunch of *literate* Chinese immigrants settled in Thailand. Nor can some special access to the Chinese economy explain it, especially when that economy was unimpressive and contracting from late Qing to the Cultural Revolution and most Thai Chinese were employed in work that had nothing to do with trade.

      Environmental factors don't explain the consistent success of the overseas Chinese in SE Asia; genetic factors, however, do.

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    7. You're forgetting that Chinese people in Southeast Asia were encountered in the early modern period by plenty of navigators. Dampier, for example, met lots of Chinese people, and found them courteous, if a bit greedy. Importantly, they could also read and write. His experience was not exceptional.

      Chinese people were in Southeast Asia long before the Ming, and trade was going on between Chinese and Southeast Asian markets for a long time before Chinese people established themselves as proper communities. Trade was the important factor in establishing Chinese success. Look at Bali, for example; every pre-colonial (i.e., pre-1906) polity of any worth on Bali had a subandar - a man responsible for imposing taxes on trade and other similar things. By the time Europeans started to document Balinese society, nearly every one of these guys was Chinese, using their linguistic abilities and connections in Chinese communities both in China and throughout the Indonesian archipelago to enrich themselves.

      That's how they did it, and that's how you do it. If you want prosperous descendants, make a lot of money and pass it on.

      It's true that Chinese people were well adapted for living in civilized society. But this was cultural adaptation, not genetic. The burden of proof is on you, and the kind of vague ahistorical arguments typical of HBDers simply won't cut it. Correlation doesn't prove causation, and Chinese success in Southeast Asia is almost certainly to do with trade, not superior genetics.

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    8. Pincher Martin13 March 2014 22:22

      "You're forgetting that Chinese people in Southeast Asia were encountered in the early modern period by plenty of navigators. Dampier, for example, met lots of Chinese people, and found them courteous, if a bit greedy. Importantly, they could also read and write. His experience was not exceptional."

      Im sure Dampier was not meeting with the Han hoi polloi. Either that or apparently you want me to believe that Chinese literacy rates in SE Asia in the very difficult-to-learn Classical Chinese, which would have had little relation to their spoken Chinese dialects, were higher than in China itself.

      Besides, the idea that an outside Chinese community with - let's generously say - a 15 percent literacy rate in 1600 has some insurmountable lead on the natives, which has lasted to this day, is ridiculous if you assume the two groups are otherwise the same.

      "Chinese people were in Southeast Asia long before the Ming, and trade was going on between Chinese and Southeast Asian markets for a long time before Chinese people established themselves as proper communities."

      There were Chinese immigrants in parts of SE Asia going back two millennia, but most of the identifiable SE Asian Chinese communities began in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and they have been sporadically replenished with new Chinese immigrants ever since.

      "That's how they did it, and that's how you do it. If you want prosperous descendants, make a lot of money and pass it on."

      But that local example doesn't explain the universal success of Chinese throughout SE Asia. You can't look at a specific example and make a generality from it that's true from Myanmar to the Philippines. You have to account for all the general conditions, and those conditions show that the Chinese didn't need to be traders, scholars, or have an economic relationship with China to succeed.

      What's more, many of the overseas Chinese in SE Asia have lived in near constant fear of their wealth and property being confiscated. It's not as if they bought a four-hundred-year stock in 1600 and then ended by owning up to two-thirds of the wealth in those countries by 2000 because they wisely collected and reinvested their dividends. They were frequently not allowed to own land and factories, not allowed to open Chinese-language schools or speak their language, and sometimes not even allowed to travel freely. Their lives were often in danger. Some occupations were closed off to them. They were frequently encouraged to leave.

      So how did a few gold coins collected in 1600, and passed on to the children, overcome those cultural and economic disadvantages?

      "The burden of proof is on you, and the kind of vague ahistorical arguments typical of HBDers simply won't cut it.

      I've given it. You can't use a just-so story to account for the widespread success of the overseas Chinese. A genetic advantage explains that outsized success while your economic and cultural just-so story can only explain some of it.

      An HBD explanation better accounts for all the evidence.

      Delete
    9. "Either that or apparently you want me to believe that Chinese literacy rates in SE Asia in the very difficult-to-learn Classical Chinese, which would have had little relation to their spoken Chinese dialects, were higher than in China itself."

      Yes, I want you to believe that. Why? Because it's almost certainly true. I assume you don't speak Chinese (your unorthodox transliteration is a clue to that), but actually classical Chinese isn't so difficult to learn. And there's every reason to believe that Chinese diaspora communities in Southeast Asia had a higher literacy rate than communities in China itself. The diaspora is not a random sample of Chinese people; it consists primarily of people able to buy ships and conduct trade with Chinese and Southeast Asian ports. These were not poor people. They carried a lot of things with them and they made a lot of money through their better connections and access to Chinese capital in financing ventures in other countries.

      "Im sure Dampier was not meeting with the Han hoi polloi."

      Dampier met lots of Chinese people throughout Southeast Asia. Many of them could apparently read and write in Chinese. I don't know why you believe this is a just-so story.

      What is a just-so story is the idea that a bunch of illiterate miners in Malaysia ended up owning everything because of their superior intelligence. That's what Cochran et al have been pushing, and it's definitely not true.

      "Their lives were often in danger. Some occupations were closed off to them. They were frequently encouraged to leave."

      The same is true for Ashkenazim, but they managed to make a lot of money and live well. They secured certain professions for themselves and occupied niches that gave them a high level of income.

      "An HBD explanation better accounts for all the evidence."

      No, it doesn't. It accounts for the correlation between success and Chinese ancestry, but only if you ignore all of the other evidence that we actually have and choose to believe that Chinese people in Southeast Asia were disadvantaged and alone, and succeeded solely through their champion minds.

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    10. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 16:12

      "Yes, I want you to believe that. Why? Because it's almost certainly true. I assume you don't speak Chinese (your unorthodox transliteration is a clue to that), but actually classical Chinese isn't so difficult to learn."

      I do read Chinese and speak Mandarin. I do not read classical Chinese, but I've been told by linguists that mastering it is much more difficult than learning colloquial Chinese.

      As for my "unorthodox" romanization, it's likely the result of beginning my studies in Chinese by first learning the 注音符號 that was adopted by the Republic of China. Or perhaps you simply aren't aware that many discarded romanizations (e.g., Wade-Giles) have achieved a sort of spotty durability because English-language readers immediately recognize them and scholars and businesses think familiarity is occasionally more important than consistency. That's why for the longest time some China scholars like Jonathan Spence deliberately wrote "Mao Tse-tung" instead of "Mao Zedong" or "Chiang Kai-shek" instead of "Jiang Jieshi" or "Xi'an" rather than "Xian," despite the fact the rest of his book otherwise used pinyin.

      "And there's every reason to believe that Chinese diaspora communities in Southeast Asia had a higher literacy rate than communities in China itself. The diaspora is not a random sample of Chinese people; it consists primarily of people able to buy ships and conduct trade with Chinese and Southeast Asian ports. These were not poor people. They carried a lot of things with them and they made a lot of money through their better connections and access to Chinese capital in financing ventures in other countries."

      What a ridiculous notion that the Chinese in SE Asia "consists primarily" of wealthy traders and shipping magnates !

      The vast majority of Chinese immigrants to SE Asia were not wealthy. They were miners, mill workers, opium growers, clerks, tax farmers, etc. They often left China because of instability and famine.

      "Dampier met lots of Chinese people throughout Southeast Asia. Many of them could apparently read and write in Chinese. I don't know why you believe this is a just-so story."

      Because it's still one man's set of anecdotes on a subject (Chinese literacy) that he was not particularly interested in or focused on. It's not surprising that Dampier would bump into many Chinese who could write, any more than it would have been surprising for him to bump into Europeans who could write. That doesn't tell us anything about the literacy rate.

      Delete
    11. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 16:15

      continued...

      "What is a just-so story is the idea that a bunch of illiterate miners in Malaysia ended up owning everything because of their superior intelligence. That's what Cochran et al have been pushing, and it's definitely not true."

      By definition, if a feature is consistently true, it can't be a just-so story.

      And it is true that the Chinese have "superior intelligence" compared to the local southeast Asians. Educational tests, career and job achievement, relative levels of wealth and income all consistently support it over the last four hundred years.

      If the overseas Chinese had fallen back in a couple of countries, then you might have a point. Our case study, after all, consists of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

      That's ten countries with ten different histories and various cultures, and in none of them is the pattern different. That, by definition, is not a just-so story.

      "The same is true for Ashkenazim, but they managed to make a lot of money and live well. They secured certain professions for themselves and occupied niches that gave them a high level of income."

      Yes, and as you already ought to know, a strong HBD thesis exists for the superior natural intelligence of the Ashkenazim.

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    12. "And it is true that the Chinese have "superior intelligence" compared to the local southeast Asians. Educational tests, career and job achievement, relative levels of wealth and income all consistently support it over the last four hundred years."

      As you might expect, given that all of these things are related. Make money, do well, educate your children well, they get good test scores, get hired by government or big firms, make money, and pass it on. If money and culture had no effect on education, and if education was all it took to succeed in life, then maybe we'd see a different pattern.

      ""Xi'an" rather than "Xian,""

      Xi'an is the preferred pinyin, actually. But I see. I suppose I'm just amazed that earlier romanisations are still used for terms like huaqiao! I suppose, despite having lived in Taiwan, I still see alternative romanisations as rustic and comical, and I probably shouldn't.

      "The vast majority of Chinese immigrants to SE Asia were not wealthy. They were miners, mill workers, opium growers, clerks, tax farmers, etc. They often left China because of instability and famine."

      The same is true of Portuguese migrants to Brazil and Spaniards in Mexico - a lot of poor and disadvantaged people in their homelands who nevertheless had significant advantages overseas, and who to this day form the overclass in their respective societies. This is primarily because of support, military assistance, capital, and technological innovations that they had access to due to their close connections with their ancestral homes over hundreds of years.

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    13. Pincher Martin15 March 2014 17:08

      "As you might expect, given that all of these things are related. Make money, do well, educate your children well, they get good test scores, get hired by government or big firms, make money, and pass it on. If money and culture had no effect on education, and if education was all it took to succeed in life, then maybe we'd see a different pattern."

      If getting hired by the "government or big firms" was all it took, why aren't we seeing the Bumiputra making strides on closing the gap with their Chinese neighbors in Malaysia to the point that they might drop the long-standing and ambitious affirmative action program they have in place?

      For four hundred years we've been seeing this same pattern throughout SE Asia. Do everything but kill the Chinese and they continue to hold a position of dominance. Take away their property and they bounce back. Prevent them from holding certain plum jobs and they move ahead anyway. Give heavy preferential treatment to the natives in hiring for the civil service (as both the Dutch and British occasionally did) and it doesn't matter. Make strides in public education so that over 90 percent of the population reads and writes, and the gap remains.

      At what point does your cultural and economic thesis cease to become falsifiable and just becomes one of those ideological articles of faith about the equality of humanity? What in the end would falsify your thesis?

      "Xi'an is the preferred pinyin, actually. But I see. I suppose I'm just amazed that earlier romanisations are still used for terms like huaqiao! I suppose, despite having lived in Taiwan, I still see alternative romanisations as rustic and comical, and I probably shouldn't."

      Well, I don't mind. If you know Chinese, then you know that the various romanizations are not Chinese, but simply gateways to it. I learned to pronounce 華僑 like this: ㄏㄨㄚˊ ㄑㄧㄠˊ.

      "The same is true of Portuguese migrants to Brazil and Spaniards in Mexico - a lot of poor and disadvantaged people in their homelands who nevertheless had significant advantages overseas, and who to this day form the overclass in their respective societies."

      Yes, but that doesn't describe the experience of the overseas Chinese in SE Asia. They were not an overclass in SE Asia with the imprimatur of colonial power. The European colonial powers, in fact, often did much to hold the Chinese back.

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    14. Misdreavus says:
      You can blame just about X on any Y as long as you find an association between the two variables. But here is what I consider most troublesome about "culture only" explanations. They violate Occam's Razor in just about every way imaginable.

      For instance, how is white supremacy responsible for both higher IQs among Ashkenazi Jews AND lower IQs among African Americans?


      Sure, anyone can find some sort of an association between two variables, but the association may be weak or spurious. In which case it may be meaningless or of little value. Occam's razor represents the principle of parsimony- among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. The problem with your example is that it appears to be a plea for simplistic explanations, when dealing with complex phenomena. If the fewest assumptions are the best way to go, then simplistic HBD "race" explanations might well fit the bill.

      Thus the struggles of Ashk Jews as middleman minorities, their incorpation into whiteness on US shores, and other factors would not be considered. A simplistic "racial" reason will do the trick.

      "Well Jeb, see all them there Ashkenazis have DNA markers typical of localized inbred Jewish populations- so that inbred "selection" would explain their high IQs. And see Jeb, them there blacks, see, have genes evolved from laid back tropical environments that did not challege the brain- so see that breeding over centuries right there "selects" for blacks who gonna have the lower IQs." Simple!

      Why do economists blame natural resources for the social dysfunction and internecine warfare in the Congo, yet also attribute natural resources to the success of western settler nations?
      Acutally most economists see natural resources in a much more complex way. You have it wrong, and have not thought through your example. It is not "natural resources" causing internecine warfare but a long set of historical circumstnces creating a chaotic, violent situation, including coups supported by Western pwers, dictators supported by Western powers, ethnic rivalries, and a violent colonial situation that saw over one million Africans murdered, starved or worked to death under the Belgian colonial regime. See the book King Leopold's Ghost for the gory details. Your notion, once again, is simplistic.

      By the way, internecine war is common in Europe- just look at the Balkans, an area that gives us the proverbial word "Balkanization." And of course Europ has had plenty of wars over resources. Why those efficient high IQ Germans waged a vicious world war, killing tens of millions to get resources for Der Fuherers "lebensraum" policy.

      Why do Gulf Arabs and Equitoreal Guineans behave so currently when they land upon oil? The former have actually built a society of sorts, while the latter nation has children staving in the streets despite a per capita GDP in excess of $36,000. Why?
      Again typically HBD simplistic. The Gulf Arab states have a much different history than Guinea, including a much dirrerent colonial history, a much different location, a much longer period to manage oil resources with the help of Western capital. And before their oil wealth came on line, they were hardly "role models" of virtue, as the history of piracy and warfare in the region attest.

      If a single social variable has very different impacts on two different kinds of people, perhaps it is time to explore alternative explanations.

      Here again, you fall into the simplistic thinking that characterizes so mucch HBD. White supremacism for examle makes up SEVERAL complex, interacting social variables. It is not the simplistic "single social variable" you imagine. Likewise poverty, which takes in many variables. The real world is a complex place, and often does not confirm to simplistic claims or notions of "the faithful."

      Delete
  11. accidentally deleted a comment there while trying to correct login info. any way it can be recovered?

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  12. There is no point in anyone trying to debate someone who has not the slightest understanding of a subject. Rather as in similar 'debates' with creationists and other fringe figures such as Afrocentrists, one should avoid bothering to debate the indivdual claims on a case by case basis, which makes the position as a whole look as though they really are subject to debate. Instead one should go for any logic fallacies or any errant, underlying axioms that can be shown to be false.

    Namely the absurd assumption that culture and biology are separate when it can actually be shown that they coevolve together. This is as simple as pointing out how physiological and anatomical changes over time are detectable in the bioarchaeological record and are attributable to cultural shifts such as increased sedentism or food processing.

    This has been pointed out to West before but unfortunately he wrote this because he was unable to understand. Which is a shame because HBD claims really do need a better grounding in archaeology and cultural anthropology meaning there needs to be much more dialog than exists at present so as to check facts and prevent the repetition of falsehoods.

    Separating culture from biology is bogus because culture is behaviour. Regarding no other species of animal would organismal behavour reckoned differently from the organism yet still be considered as magically somehow valid. And any approach to culture - that is, human animal behaviour - that does so must be disregarded as being unrooted in a scientific approach.

    The weird thing is that what people are calling out as the straw man fallacy seems more like misunderstanding on West's own part. I'm sorry if the sounds harsh but it really shouldn't have been written, the misrepresentations rooted in basic misunderstandings are just cringeworthy.

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    1. It might be helpful if you pointed out just what the errors/misrepresentations/strawmen actually are.

      "Rather as in similar 'debates' with creationists and other fringe figures such as Afrocentrists, one should avoid bothering to debate the indivdual claims on a case by case basis, which makes the position as a whole look as though they really are subject to debate."

      Yes. One should never question the position on the basis of the actual evidence. Right?

      The way to do science is to work from the small to the big. Humans are intelligent and resourceful and can demonstrably change their behaviour based on what they've learnt. This is a fact. It is definitely true. Any description of human behaviour that doesn't take this into account is flawed, wrong, and decidedly unscientific. It's an empirical point, not a theoretical one, and empirical points always overrule theoretical ones in the real world.

      Some HBD claims are reasonable - humans do vary genetically, and that variation is responsible for some differences in behaviour. But claiming that the Americas were more static than Eurasia because of an absence of human genetic diversity is bizarre when a much more sensible historical explanation is at hand. Claiming that biological evolution explains most of European history is bogus and silly. It's unscientific, and it often seems to amount to little more than asserting that correlation equals causation.

      Delete
    2. This reply frankly still misunderstands what gene-culture co-evolution is. Human culture is a selector, but is itself produced by human biology in the first place - the evolutionary sum of a population's history shapes a culture. Culture like individual human behaviour is not entirely plastic but subject to predisposition.

      And no, criticism of a claim need not to rely upon the evidence alone as evidence becomes irrelevant when an argument is based upon flawed premises. Your own position remains a false dichotomy in which culture and biology can be reckoned separately.

      I disagree in any case that culture in the Americas were more static, but I do think it stands to reason that as toxic genetic pacification process shaped European history into its present shape today.

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    3. I'm well aware of what gene-culture co-evolution is, but I'm not convinced that, in most cases, the genetic element is anything like as important as the cultural element.

      "I do think it stands to reason that as toxic genetic pacification process shaped European history into its present shape today."

      I'm not sure what you mean. Do you mean to say that it is a bad thing that Europe is so peaceful and nice? And that the cause of this change is genetic? If so, I question your sanity.

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    4. Gael says:
      There is no point in anyone trying to debate someone who has not the slightest understanding of a subject.
      The old "no point debating" tactic sounds like you are looking for a way out, to avoid addressing specifics. Give concrete example of where West has "failed"..

      Namely the absurd assumption that culture and biology are separate when it can actually be shown that they coevolve together.
      West has made no such "assumptions." Rather its you create a bogus strawman you can attribute to him, then supposedly "refute."

      This has been pointed out to West before but unfortunately he wrote this because he was unable to understand.
      Give a concrete example where he was "unable" to understand. Where are your specifics?

      This reply frankly still misunderstands what gene-culture co-evolution is. Human culture is a selector, but is itself produced by human biology in the first place - the evolutionary sum of a population's history shapes a culture. Culture like individual human behaviour is not entirely plastic but subject to predisposition.

      It is not only biology that selects culture but also vice versa, A culture that selects for certain mates, or invades another territory and impregnates the conquered, or kills children with certain undesirable characteristics, has also in part, shaped its biology. But in any event West has not "denied" that biology influences culture. Where? Who "denies" such a truism? This looks like yet another strawman to avoid giving specifics. Where has West "failed" to grasp this "co-evolution?" Be specific.


      Separating culture from biology is bogus because culture is behaviour.
      But West has made no such "separation." If you are attributing that to him, the attribution is itself bogus.

      West said:
      It might be helpful if you pointed out just what the errors/misrepresentations/strawmen actually are.

      Indeed. Wither this mystical "lack of understanding"?


      But claiming that the Americas were more static than Eurasia because of an absence of human genetic diversity is bizarre when a much more sensible historical explanation is at hand. Claiming that biological evolution explains most of European history is bogus and silly. It's unscientific, and it often seems to amount to little more than asserting that correlation equals causation.
      lol.... school them man.. I yield the floor.. This is gonna be fun..

      Delete
  13. A. J. West,

    I'm not going to get into arguing with you over every fine detail on this, as all the commenters here have excellently done it already. Rather, I'm going to take another view here.

    We have a collection of facts about the world – the various differences we see in the attributes of people and societies in different places and times. We then try to see if we can discover underlying factors that can explain these disparate facts. Typically, one does not proceed by first – a priori – ruling out one potential partial explanation, like genetic inheritance, and only considers other explanations so as long as these explanations don't involve heredity. That, my friend, is not science.

    And then there's another matter. That is Occam's Razor. We do have an enormous body of evidence. Even if you were to find other potential explanations other than heredity for one or another particular human feature, you then have the totality of evidence to tackle. If genes aren't involved, how we explain the findings of twin, adoption, and genomic studies? Why do we see clustering of human societal characteristics, from average IQ, civilization accomplishments, to institutional structure and development, to relative levels of societal trust and levels of corruption? Why is that these characteristics follow different peoples wherever they go, such that the only sure thing we can peg to social outcomes is the demographic composition of a place? And in fact, why do we see the same patterns with the same peoples all over the world? You can, at times, make up convincing-sounding explanations for some of these things, but after a while, you need to stop adding more complexities to your epicycles...

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    1. "Typically, one does not proceed by first – a priori – ruling out one potential partial explanation, like genetic inheritance, and only considers other explanations so as long as these explanations don't involve heredity. That, my friend, is not science."

      You are correct: we do not rule out some explanations a priori. Which is precisely why all your bombast and bluster about people being 'deluded' or idiotic for opposing your brand of enquiry is misguided. It is also why all of your declarative statements saying that 'evolution explains history' and 'everything is inherited' are spurious mumbo-jumbo.

      You don't know enough archaeology or history, and so you dismiss socio-cultural explanations out of hand without understanding them. And that's that.

      "You can, at times, make up convincing-sounding explanations for some of these things, but after a while, you need to stop adding more complexities to your epicycles..."

      You see, the difference between the explanations I propose and the ones you propose is that yours don't even sound convincing. Seriously: the manor system and the Catholic prohibition on cousin marriage (which may, if Robin Fox is right, have originated with Germanic speakers' sentiments anyway) creating a more altruistic society? Oy vey.

      "Why do we see clustering of human societal characteristics, from average IQ, civilization accomplishments, to institutional structure and development, to relative levels of societal trust and levels of corruption?"

      Because, of course, all of those things are related, and societies that have been stable for hundreds of years and that have developed under their own steam with an elaborate system of checks, balances, professions, and threads uniting them are better adapted for the modern world, have better educated citizens who can do better things and have more incentives to innovate. Societies that barely developed at all under the misguidance of racist colonial administrations that taught the natives very little and exploited their land and labour for generations have institutions that cannot cope and citizens who have every incentive, at the local level, to treat others as enemies and to treat family members as vitally important (because, in securing daily needs, they are). Those attributes cluster precisely because they're related.

      "Why is that these characteristics follow different peoples wherever they go, such that the only sure thing we can peg to social outcomes is the demographic composition of a place?"

      This is because of culture: people learn things and they take that knowledge with them, except when prohibited from doing so. English settlers in Massachusetts didn't cross the Atlantic and forget how to write.

      And why do Chinese people do so well abroad? They do well abroad for the same reason that European colonists in the Americas did well: they had access to markets in their home countries. Chinese trade and diplomacy in Southeast Asia stretches back nearly two millennia, and all of that talk about illiterate miners miraculously developing into the overclass of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore through the sheer force of their IQ is just so much blather. It's yet another case demonstrating that HBD-ers need to read more history and archaeology.

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    2. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 02:14

      "And why do Chinese people do so well abroad? They do well abroad for the same reason that European colonists in the Americas did well: they had access to markets in their home countries. Chinese trade and diplomacy in Southeast Asia stretches back nearly two millennia, and all of that talk about illiterate miners miraculously developing into the overclass of Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore through the sheer force of their IQ is just so much blather. It's yet another case demonstrating that HBD-ers need to read more history and archaeology."

      Access to markets? I'd say you need to know a lot more about both economics and history if you believe that shared ethnicity accounts for some secret "access to markets" that other people can't participate in. You fetishize trade without bothering to acquaint yourself with the slightest quantitative background to understand it.

      If anything, over the course of the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the overseas Chinese *lost* access to their ancestral market as a result of a severely contracting Chinese economy caused by instability and finally the Chicom takeover. It's well documented that China's share of the world economy during this time (see here by clicking on both 1820 and 1950) dramatically shrank from the largest single share in the world to that of a bit player smaller than any one of several European countries. China's marginal importance in the world economy continued until the 1980s.

      Yet the overseas Chinese still prospered. Your model can't account for that. The HBD model can. The overseas Chinese simply took advantage of open markets in the West, and they did this without sharing ethnicity with those they were selling and buying from.

      Now the question for you should be: If the overseas Chinese could do this, why couldn't the other SE Asian natives? Your answer so far has come down to literacy. But even today, when literacy rates in much of SE Asia are above 90 percent, there is no closing of the income and wealth gap between locals and ethnic Chinese.

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  14. Pincher Martin12 March 2014 23:25

    "HBD-ers appear to have an extraordinary interest in IQ, as well, and see this as a driving force behind cultural 'achievements'. That's something I can't fathom: there doesn't seem to be any reason to correlate high average IQ with the ability to build monumental architecture or generate a large agricultural surplus or domesticate crops, and these seem to be the things that drive literacy, exploration, conquest, and everything else."

    "High average IQ" is associated with the potential for modern society, but I see few HBDers arguing that planting crops or building a pyramid required a high average IQ. Yes, those accomplishments, if sustained and built upon, almost certainly required a higher average IQ than that found among hunter-gatherers, but that's not the same as a high average IQ.

    "The focus on IQ seems unhealthy. I probably shouldn't have to point out, either, that such a focus is often behind crazy claims ranking the 'races' - 'Asians' above 'whites' above 'blacks' (never mind that these 'races' don't really exist and that human biological diversity is clearly much more complicated than this)."

    This seems to be just a willful desire on your part to ignore empirical evidence because you don't like its implications, as if knowledge is supposed to conform to your a priori beliefs about mankind.

    Races do exist. Just as families exist. The notion of races can change depending on the unit of analysis, just as the notion of a family can change depending on whether you want to discuss the nuclear family or an extended family.

    The fact that a set can be fuzzy doesn't make it less of a set.

    Yes, in some instances, human biological diversity can be pretty complicated, but it can also be pretty simple. Again, that depends on the unit of analysis. In any case, no informed person in the HBD community argues for some hard and fast racial distinctions. That's a phantom of your imagination.

    You seem to have trouble thinking on the margins, yet any empirical notion of race and IQ in an evolutionary context requires the informed person to understand how to think on the margins. And that requires statistical knowledge. You're making way too many essentialist counter-arguments to non-essentialist HBD claims.

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    1. "I see few HBDers arguing that planting crops or building a pyramid required a high average IQ."

      Precisely. And at least some of those traits are the foundation of civilization; more crops means more food means more people means more labourers means more necessary social complexity means more trade means more specialisation. That's how we get complex civilizations in the first place. Tell me again, then: what role does IQ play in any of this?

      "Races do exist."

      No, they don't. Humans are much more genetically diverse than this, and the simplistic diagrams HBDBibliography occasionally churns out on twitter are not sufficient evidence to overrule the consensus of physical anthropologists who see humans as more variable than any such concept as 'race'.

      And, of course, a lot of HBD-ers make claims about African-American IQ, saying that African-Americans perform as poorly as sub-Saharan Africans on IQ tests. Interesting, then, that African-Americans often have high degrees of European and indigenous American ancestry.

      "Yes, in some instances, human biological diversity can be pretty complicated, but it can also be pretty simple."

      Not really. 'Black' is not a race, and African-Americans and sub-Saharan Africans cannot seriously be lumped into a single category.

      " You're making way too many essentialist counter-arguments to non-essentialist HBD claims."

      You may declare that the HBD claims are 'non-essentialist', but that's just trying to have your cake and eat it. Saying that 'black' people score lower in IQ tests than 'white' people, and extrapolating from this that 'black' people are genetically less intelligent than 'white' people, is making a statement about the essential characteristics of 'whites' and 'blacks'.

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    2. A.J., could you comment on the common rebuttal to the "races don't exist" argument?

      The rebuttal is typically this:

      "Race" as understood in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was clearly over-simplified, but, like many scientific concepts, it has been refined over time. Today, we know that what were called "races" are what I like to call "human populations on a clade." They seem to form fuzzy ancestral clusters but clusters nonetheless.

      They are, in some way, like languages. Languages don't have solid borders; there are no pure languages, in the sense that most languages today have been influenced by other languages, either at the lexical level or, in extreme cases, at the syntactic level. We have a much more complex picture of "linguistic space" than early philologists, but no one wrings their hands over whether or not languages exist. It remains an efficient concept even though we know it breaks down at the margins, and even though we know that at times there are socio-political factors at play in defining languages.

      So, it seems to me like if you're going to say that races don't exist, you also have to say that languages don't exist.

      Or colors. Or species. Or any other "titular" term that obviously doesn't refer to a concrete desideratum in thing-space.

      But that would be silly. Though titular and abstract, these terms still have practical analytic value.

      So why do you throw out "race" but not the other concepts?

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    3. Sorry, here's a link that was supposed to go along with my definition of races as "fuzzy clusters."

      http://phylonetworks.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/human-races-networks-and-fuzzy-clusters.html

      I would also add---per the link---dog breeds to the list of things you'd need to say are non-existent if you want to throw out race.

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    4. What I mean is that race, commonly construed and used for the purposes of e.g. censuses and IQ assessments, is not useful The notion of a 'black' race is not comparable to a dog breed or a language. Languages are fuzzy and classifications of dog breeds allow for small differences in physiology. But 'black' refers to people so utterly different at a genetic level that it doesn't make any sense to continue using it.

      And if there's an apparent pattern in the data - like 'people identified as black do poorly on IQ tests when compared to people identified as white' - that relies on a classification as internally diverse as that, then perhaps there are other reasons behind the pattern.

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    5. But 'black' refers to people so utterly different at a genetic level that it doesn't make any sense to continue using it.

      I don't see why you can't say the same thing about linguistic classification beyond the individual language. An abstraction like "Indo-European" or even "Romance" also refers to things that are very different at a genetic (err, morphological and syntactic) level.

      As you "move out" in proximity, abstractions of course lose out on details which are important. But I still don't see how they become meaningless for points of comparison.

      For example, differences between Spanish and Italian are going to be small relative to differences between Spanish and a Khoisan language. So, at the scale of a large term like "Romance", you're not going to learn anything at all about differences between Spanish or Italian---just as you say, a word like "black" or "African" won't tell you anything at all about the relationships between, e.g., Ethiopians and the San.

      However, when comparing Spanish with, say, Kxoe, it does make sense to use abstractions that pull way back on the proximity scale, letting features of "Romance" or even "Indo-European" stand in as proxies for Italian, and letting features of "Tshu-Khwe" or "Khoisan" stand in as proxies for Kxoe. The further some languages exist from one another, the more acceptable it becomes to use more and more abstract classifications to talk about them. Otherwise, you get lost in details and larger patterns go unseen.

      "Black," as you say, refers to people utterly different at a genetic level. So does "white." But when we use these terms, we're not talking about differences between those smaller groups. We're talking about differences across the larger collections.

      So perhaps I should have said that if you deny the existence or utility of racial classifications like "African," Asian," "European," etc., you also must deny the existence or utility of language family classifications.

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    6. And your other point: And if there's an apparent pattern in the data - like 'people identified as black do poorly on IQ tests when compared to people identified as white' - that relies on a classification as internally diverse as that, then perhaps there are other reasons behind the pattern.

      I agree that there are internally diverse classifications that need to be sussed out when comparing "black" and "white." But I think it's at least valid to start with these larger abstractions before analyzing at a more granular scale (and it's a fault of HBD folk that they don't undertake these more granular investigations---although I think hbdchick certainly does).

      Linguistic example again: let's say I discover a population in some remote area. They seem to be speaking two very different dialects. Odd. They don't even sound like dialects; they seem like completely different languages. One "dialect" has clicks, tones, and SVO word order; the other is a-tonal, has no clicks, and has OVS word order.

      A mystery. Even greater mystery is that the two "dialects" seem to correspond to cultural and phenotypic differences in the population. Is this some kind of hybrid population? Are these dialects in fact separate languages?

      To figure it out, I'll probably start with large-scale classifications. For a start, I'll recognize that consonant clicks are exceedingly rare or non-existent outside the Khoisan language family. Obviously, there are "internal diversities" within Khoisan, but this abstract classification is nevertheless useful as a starting point for distinguishing my "dialects." I know that one is probably Khoisan and the other is probably not Khoisan, and, given its rare word order, is probably an Amerindian language, perhaps Uto-Aztec.

      Khoisan, Uto-Aztec. Lots of granular differences subsumed within these abstractions! But they remain, I think, very valuable when comparing languages that exist at an ancestral distance, just like "black" and "white" retain some value when comparing populations that exist at an ancestral distance. (Though, again, as you rightly say, we need more specific terms as we go from macro to micro scale and compare things that exist at less and less of a distance.)

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    7. tldr

      If we want to compare a specific language with a specific language, we use the names of the specific languages (e.g., "Italian" vs. "Spanish").

      If we want to compare clusters of languages against other clusters of languages, we need to use more and more abstract terms (e.g., "Indo-European" vs. "Khoisan").

      Likewise, we have terms for comparing specific populations (e.g., "Ainu" vs. "Han", although maybe these are bad examples).

      But if we want to compare clusters of populations, we can't go on using the specific terms. We need more abstract terms . . . like, eventually, "black" and "white."

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    8. 'Indo-European' is about ancestry, not features. It's not abstract at all. It's possible for Indo-European languages to share no significant features and still be Indo-European, because it's about where the language came from, not what the language is like. Ancestry, not features. It's not fuzzy at all.

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    9. 'Black', on the other hand, is about features, not ancestry - it says very little about ancestry, especially given that many populations (South Indians, indigenous Australians, Melanesians) are often considered 'black', and that many people in the USA are considered to be 'black' despite having a very high degree of European ancestry (because of the one-drop rule, which is still prevalent). Is Barack Obama 'black'?

      This is very different from Indo-European or Khoisan or any other language family. Language families can be securely reconstructed and are not fuzzy at all. We don't classify languages as Indo-European based on whether they sorta kinda look like some Indo-European languages. But in general, 'black' is a term that refers to people who look kinda sorta 'black'.

      I hope you can see the difference.

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    10. 'Indo-European' is about ancestry, not features.

      Well, it's about both! You're way too smart not to recognize this! The entire business of historical linguists is to reconstruct ancestry based on features, typically cognate sets. We assume shared ancestry because of specific features. Old-school philologists didn't begin with the assumption that languages in India and languages in Europe shared an ancestry, or, at least, that was nothing more than a general hypothesis. Proving the hypothesis---discovering the ancestry---proceeded by way of comparing features. Historical Linguistics 101, the first day of class, you're comparing features to determine relatedness, prove ancestry, and re-construct proto-languages. I'm looking at a textbook right now, and every exercise is about using linguistic features! (Now, of course, it gets tricky because the same features can be detected across languages that share no ancestry. That's why you look for specific kinds of features, like cognates, and clusters of specific features.)

      Point is, this separation of features from ancestry just doesn't fly. It is through close study of features (along with assumptions about geographic distribution and history) that language families are posited, defended, and refined.

      "Black" is a feature that points toward a general kind of ancestry, just like clicks in a language or OVS word order points toward a general kind of ancestry. This is elementary, isn't it?

      And I think you're wrong that anyone would use "black" to refer to a South Indian or Australian aboriginee. In American, anyway, I've never heard "black" used to mean anything other than African.

      But, like I said, features can be misleading, in linguistics and in humans. So what? You sort it out.

      Would you be more epistemologicaly comfortable if people used "African" and "European" instead of "black" and "white"?



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    11. "Well, it's about both!"

      No, it isn't. Demonstrating that two languages are related depends on features, but that isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about whether they're related or not, and with sufficient evidence, it is possible to show that extremely dissimilar languages are related.

      If in a few millenia or so English becomes a fully agglutinating language with OVS word order, it would still be an Indo-European language. Proto-Indo-European was an inflecting language - lots and lots of inflections. English, a direct descendant of proto-Indo-European, is much more isolating, and it barely has any inflections at all. Classical Latin, and even Vulgar Latin, had no nasal vowels and word order was flexible because of the highly inflecting morphology of the language. French, a direct descendant of Latin, is full of nasal vowels, has very many fewer inflections, and word order is important because of the loss of case. Features and ancestry are not the same.

      Also bear in mind that some Niger-Congo languages have clicks as a result of contact with Khoisan.

      If you think this is comparable to the situation with 'race', then you simply don't know linguistics well. Keep reading that textbook.

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    12. "Would you be more epistemologicaly comfortable if people used "African" and "European" instead of "black" and "white"? "

      I'd be more comfortable if people stopped using simplistic means to refer to the ancestries of people they don't know. If you're talking academically, then surely there are better ways of doing it that aren't so simplistic.

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    13. 1. We're talking about whether they're related or not, and with sufficient evidence, it is possible to show that extremely dissimilar languages are related.


      And that evidence is . . . linguistic features.

      2. Features and ancestry are not the same.

      I never said they were the same. I said you can't separate features from ancestry as you wanted to do in your prior post, where you were trying to deny that giving up "race" means giving up "language families" because the former is about features and the latter about ancestry.

      I said that one discovers ancestry by analyzing features, so obviously features and ancestry have some relevant relationship. You've said this yourself now: Demonstrating that two languages are related depends on features, but that isn't what we're talking about

      Yes, it's exactly what we're talking about. Remember, I'm using linguistics as a general comparison to the situation with race. I'm not saying they're exactly alike, and right now, all you're doing is showing where the comparison breaks down. Get back to the point at hand, which is that the notion of "language families" relies on an analysis of features (lexical, morphological, syntactic). You've admitted this now, yes?

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    14. If you think this is comparable to the situation with 'race', then you simply don't know linguistics well. Keep reading that textbook.

      You're changing the subject. Remember where we are: I'm saying that "language families" and "race" are comparable because both are abstractions designed to make sense of complex clusters. I've never said that language and race are themselves comparable; they are to an extent, but the comparison breaks down at certain junctures. I know this. You've demonstrated it now. Back to the question at hand.

      You said that "language families" and "race" are conceptually dissimilar by arguing that the former relies on verifiable ancestry and the latter is just a way to designate features which may have nothing to do with ancestry.

      You can no longer say this because---and I think you've admitted to it---historical linguists have worked out language families and sub-families precisely by looking at features. So why can't we rely on features in the realm of human ancestry?

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    15. Pincher Martin13 March 2014 23:23

      Mr. West,

      "Precisely. And at least some of those traits are the foundation of civilization; more crops means more food means more people means more labourers means more necessary social complexity means more trade means more specialisation. That's how we get complex civilizations in the first place. Tell me again, then: what role does IQ play in any of this?"

      You're conflating two different issues.

      First, you claimed that HBDers see the need for "high average IQ" to explain the founding of civilizations. My answer was, no they do not.

      Founding a civilization - something the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Olmecs, the Indus Valley, ancient Chinese, etc., all did - probably didn't require much in the way of IQ as we understand it today, and it certainly didn't require a population with a "high average IQ." No informed HBDer is likely to make that claim.

      Second, you don't seem to understand that average IQ in populations is highly variable and that it evolves over time, and that such facts must have a direct impact on the course of civilizations given the tight correlations we see between average IQ and civilizational success today.

      "No, they don't. Humans are much more genetically diverse than this, and the simplistic diagrams HBDBibliography occasionally churns out on twitter are not sufficient evidence to overrule the consensus of physical anthropologists who see humans as more variable than any such concept as 'race'."

      The consensus in physical anthropology is not being driven by science, Mr West. Some guy who fears for his job is not going to be a martyr to truth just so he can make you slightly better educated.

      Look at what happened to James Watson. You think physical anthropologists have more knowledge about biology than he did? Or more courage?

      "And, of course, a lot of HBD-ers make claims about African-American IQ, saying that African-Americans perform as poorly as sub-Saharan Africans on IQ tests."

      You're way off base. A lot of HBDers do not make those claims.

      The average IQs of African-Americans and sub-Saharan Africans aren't even close and most informed people know that. African-Americans have an average IQ somewhere around 85 and probably a little higher. Sub-Saharan Africans have an average IQ around 70, with the hunter-gathererers in Africa being even lower (~60).

      "Interesting, then, that African-Americans often have high degrees of European and indigenous American ancestry."

      I don't know about the indigenous Native American ancestry, but the typical African-American has about 20 percent European ancestry.

      But since no informed person believes the two populations test the same, your point lacks any validity.

      " Not really. 'Black' is not a race, and African-Americans and sub-Saharan Africans cannot seriously be lumped into a single category."

      Of course, but one is an admixed population and one isn't. Are you now going to tell me that there are no differences between poodles and Labradors because they can mate and create a Labradoodle? Good luck with that line of reasoning.

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    16. Pincher Martin13 March 2014 23:25

      continued...

      "You may declare that the HBD claims are 'non-essentialist', but that's just trying to have your cake and eat it. Saying that 'black' people score lower in IQ tests than 'white' people, and extrapolating from this that 'black' people are genetically less intelligent than 'white' people, is making a statement about the essential characteristics of 'whites' and 'blacks'"

      No, it's not.

      Many blacks score above the white mean on IQ tests.

      If you're an averaged-sized fellow, Mr West, I bet you bump into women on the street everyday who are taller than you.

      Several NBA basketball players are average in height.

      These are not fixed traits that are unchanging and true for all time and all cases. They are statistical truths about groups which may have an evolutionary basis behind them. They are not essential truths for all individuals in a particular category.

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    17. Race is real in the empirical sense, since broad folk categories more or less match clusters of atDNA and dental trait frequencies as well as skulls once at least 13 measurements are considered (Bulbeck.) Indeed since most of this data is technical stuff not visible to the casual observer, there exists literally stacks of evidence for the validity of racial constructs as used in 'old school', pre-60s bioanthropology. And of course that some old racial ideas like the presence of 'negros' in Melanesia are debunked using the same kinds of evidence proves only that the naturalness of racial concepts is testable.

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    18. Seth,

      You still have it completely wrong. If you looked at French, with its nasal vowels and absence of case, and declared that it didn't descend from Latin, you would be wrong. Languages that are demonstrably related can have completely different features, and prima facie examination of features can tell us very little about ancestry. Only an in-depth and complicated process can tell us whether languages are related or not. Features and ancestry are orthogonal; related languages can have different word order, different morphology, different phonology, and different lexical items. Vietnamese has tones; if you assumed that it was not an Austroasiatic language because Austroasiatic languages do not have tones, you would be wrong.

      Language families and race are not comparable. Let it go.

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    19. And, of course, a lot of HBD-ers make claims about African-American IQ, saying that African-Americans perform as poorly as sub-Saharan Africans on IQ tests. Interesting, then, that African-Americans often have high degrees of European and indigenous American ancestry.

      Please produce links for "a lot of HBD-ers" who make the claim that US blacks "perform as poorly as sub-Saharan Africans on IQ tests". Or admit that they don't exist and that you're saying things that aren't true. US blacks score higher than sub-Saharan Africans. This is because US blacks have white and other ancestry and because they eat better and are healthier. Steve Sailer has pointed out that breastfeeding and iodized salt would help improve African IQs:

      http://isteve.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/ghana-endorses-my-plan-for-improving.html

      Steve Sailer's solutions for black problems would actually help blacks. Liberal solutions harm blacks, because they aren't based on reality.

      Anyway, my prediction is that you won't provide any links, largely because they don't exist. But what does that matter? On this topic, purity of heart is much more important than honesty or knowledge of the facts. Or reality.

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    20. 1. AJ replies to me,Language families and race are not comparable. Let it go.

      even though I wrote this in the post to which he is replying: I'm using linguistics as a general comparison to the situation with race. I'm not saying they're exactly alike, and right now, all you're doing is showing where the comparison breaks down.

      and this: I'm saying that "language families" and "race" are comparable because both are abstractions designed to make sense of complex clusters. I've never said that language and race are themselves comparable; they are to an extent, but the comparison breaks down at certain junctures. I know this.

      AJ, at this point, you're obviously not doing more than skimming my posts, which is fine, you've got multiple threads going on here.

      I'll try one more time:

      My original argument was that "language families" and "race" are comparable AS CONCEPTUALIZATIONS. I provided multiple such conceptualizations to which race might be compared, again, as conceptualizations: dog breeds, for one.

      You've done nothing so far but show how language and race are themselves not perfectly comparable, insulting my intelligence while doing so. (I'll get on the phone with my department right away and let them know they've made a big mistake funding me. I'll also let my chair know that she has taught me how to do historical linguistics wrong. A guy on the internet says so.)

      For the third time: Why is "race" any different from "language families" as a titular concept, a way to categorize otherwise complex clusters of relatedness?



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    21. Languages that are demonstrably related can have completely different features, and prima facie examination of features can tell us very little about ancestry.

      AJ, what method of linguistic reconstruction were you taught? Here's some language from Lyle Campbell's textbook, which is what we used in my first course:

      The only generally accepted criterion for subgrouping [languages] is shared innovation. A shared innovation is a linguistic change which shows a departure from some trait of the proto-language and is shared by a subset of the daughter languages . . .The classification of the Mayan languages will serve as a guided exercise to illustrate how subgrouping is done . . . The following is a list of the major sound changes which are innovations shared among some but not others of the languages of the family. These form the basis for subgrouping Mayan languages . . .

      And this: Linguists' decisions about language relatedness have been made based on sound correspondences, shared innovations, morphological agreements, etc.

      Linguistic features are precisely how we posit, defend, or refute language relatedness and ancestry.

      Or we can go to Wikipedia articles on "Genetic relationship (linguistics)" and "Comparative method":

      Languages that possess genetic ties with one another belong to the same linguistic grouping, known as a language family. These ties are established through use of the comparative method of linguistic analysis.

      And, of course, the comparative method relies almost solely on linguistic features: In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, as opposed to the method of internal reconstruction, which analyses the internal development of a single language over time. Ordinarily both methods are used together to reconstruct prehistoric phases of languages, to fill in gaps in the historical record of a language, to discover the development of phonological, morphological, and other linguistic systems, and to confirm or refute hypothesized relationships between languages.

      So, really, I still have no idea why you keep saying that language features have nothing to do with ancestry. It's just you saying that, as far as I can tell.

      But again, this is not important to my main argument, which was never about a strict comparison of language and race in and of themselves.

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    22. And more from Campell, since I like piling it on:

      The comparative method has always been the basic tool for establishing genetic relationships.

      To begin to apply the comparative method, we look for potential cognates among languages for which there is reason to suspect relatedness . . . Ultimately, it is the systematic correspondences which we discover in the comparative method which demonstrate true cognates.

      Nearly all scholars consider regular sound correspondences strong evidence of genetic affinity.

      Scholars throughout linguistic history have considered morphological evidence important for establishing language families.

      So, yes, cautious and systematic study of shared features is precisely how proto-languages are reconstructed and linguistic relationships are demonstrated.

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    23. Let me go through this another time, because apparently you don't understand it.

      Languages can be shown to be related through linguistic features. But relatedness doesn't necessarily say anything at all about features except that they derive, ultimately, from a certain source. They can be completely different from that source and related languages can be completely different from one another, but they are related because they derive from the same source. They do not need to share any features in common.

      There is no single feature that all Indo-European languages share. Not all IE languages have an elaborate case system - in fact, most don't. Many are strongly inflecting languages, but many are strongly agglutinating or strongly isolating. Some have a contrast between /w/ and /v/ and most don't.

      You do not identify relatedness by looking at features in this simplistic way. You identify it by looking for plausible causal mechanisms that would allow the features in the related languages to develop. You look for paths between different lexical items and different sound changes that would account for them. Indo-European is not about features. It is demonstrated using the features of its daughter languages, but it is not itself united by feature. Is that clear enough, or do we have to go through this again?

      The same is not true of 'black' as a category. Barack Obama is 'black', apparently, largely because he looks like 'black' people are supposed to look. Opinion is divided about Rashida Jones, though, because she apparently looks 'white'. 'Black' and 'white' are about features, not ancestry, and not sharing the features of 'black' people is apparently sufficient to make you not 'black'. The same is definitely not true of Indo-European, and if anyone taught you otherwise, you should go and get your money back.

      "Linguistic features are precisely how we posit, defend, or refute language relatedness and ancestry."

      This is, of course, correct. But you don't seem to realise that the method we use to demonstrate relatedness is not the same as relatedness itself, and your earlier point about Khoisan languages being identifiable through the presence of clicks says a lot about what you think about language.

      If we didn't have written evidence of earlier forms of French (classical Latin, Gallo-Roman, Old French, and so on) then we almost certainly would not be able to show that modern spoken French is related to proto-Indo-European. It is completely different from proto-Indo-European and it shares almost no significant features in common. Its phonology is different, its morphology is different, its syntax is different - and not in trivial ways, either. Nothing about the features of French make it an Indo-European language except for its demonstrable ancestry through Old French, Gallo-Roman, classical Latin, and so forth.

      Comparison of features is the way to establish a language family, but language families cannot be expected to show any shared features across their breadth.

      You said that in order to give up the 'races' as concepts, I'd also have to give up some other ones, like language families - and that isn't actually true.

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    24. We're still talking at cross purposes, AJ. And can you stop saying "you don't understand it"? I've attempted to be cordial, but you seem intent on being condescending. I am on a full linguistics scholarship and stipend, so, yes, I do understand it. Instead of assuming your interlocutor is ignorant, perhaps you should try to understand what his argument is or to make sure that you're arguing the same thing. I tried to do this in the last couple posts by clarifying what our debate is in fact about. And now here you go again explaining to me things that I already know, things that are tangential to the question about language families and race performing similar "conceptualizing" work.

      1. Here's what you said originally: 'Indo-European' is about ancestry, not features. It's not abstract at all. It's possible for Indo-European languages to share no significant features and still be Indo-European, because it's about where the language came from, not what the language is like.

      2. You also said this:Language families can be securely reconstructed and are not fuzzy at all. We don't classify languages as Indo-European based on whether they sorta kinda look like some Indo-European languages.

      3. And then you started to shift to this: Demonstrating that two languages are related depends on features, but that isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about whether they're related or not, and with sufficient evidence, it is possible to show that extremely dissimilar languages are related.

      4. And now you've admitted this:Languages can be shown to be related through linguistic features, which seems to contradict what you said in (2) and perhaps (1).

      5. But then you say:They can be completely different from that source and related languages can be completely different from one another, but they are related because they derive from the same source. They do not need to share any features in common.

      So how do we determine that languages are related to each other if they share no features in common given what you said in (4). I grant that what you said in (4) leaves open the possibility that there are other ways to show linguistic relations besides feature analysis. What are these other ways? How do you show linguistic relations without analyzing features? As you say, the written history of Latin and its daughter languages makes it easier to show relationships there, but obviously we don't always have writing to help us. But historical linguists are still able to show relationships between and reconstruct proto-languages of languages that had no writing until recently.

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    25. 6. You write:Nothing about the features of French make it an Indo-European language except for its demonstrable ancestry through Old French, Gallo-Roman, classical Latin, and so forth. And how is that ancestry "demonstrable" except through analysis of features or, more specifically, analysis of systematic changes to the features?

      7. Here's perhaps the crux of the matter. You write: Comparison of features is the way to establish a language family, but language families cannot be expected to show any shared features across their breadth.

      Good. So we both agree that comparison of features is the way to establish a language family. Whether or not language families show any shared features across their breadth is really beside the point in the context of what started this debate, i.e., the conceptualizing work of language families and race.

      If you agree that comparing features is the way to establish a linguistic ancestry (as codified in the notion of language families), then why isn't comparing phenotype an acceptable way to establish human ancestry (as codified in the notion of race)?

      8. Another crux: You write, condescendingly: But you don't seem to realise that the method we use to demonstrate relatedness is not the same as relatedness itself

      Obviously, yes do I realize this. But the entire reason we're talking about this is because you initially said, c.f. (1) and (2) above. Bringing up the comparative method was a way to argue that, yes, indeed, language ancestry is indeed about features.

      Maybe we should step away from Indo-European. Look at the example of field linguists working with languages that have no written records. How do they show relatedness? Geography and language features, specifically cognate sets. Without written records, how do linguists know that, for example, Nahuatl, Hopi, Comanche, Cupeno, and Huichol are related? Because they exist within a general geographic area and certain lexical features of the languages suggest common ancestry. If none of these languages shared a single feature or cognate set, then, no, linguists would assume they were all isolates, not related at all.

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    26. Finally, your entire argumentative thrust seems to be this notion that languages can share no features and still be related, therefore features are irrelevant to ancestry.

      While hypothetically true, this isn't, you know, actually true. Every Indo-European language will share at least a few featuers, usually lexical, with other languages.

      Off the top of my head, Nepali seems to be about as far away from English as you can get within the IE family. And yet a simple Google search of "English/Nepali cognates" turns up this wonderful blog post:

      https://nepalijiwan.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/indo-european-roots/

      So, no, I don't think I can accept your claim about "complete feature differences" within a language family. This is only a hypothetical possibility, and one, thankfully, that has not been encountered in practice. If it were often encountered, then reconstructing linguistic ancestry would be impossible for languages that had no written records in antiquity.

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    27. If you list the traits of any language family, you find that almost none are shared across the entire family, and that we can only reconstruct the protolanguage with evidence from different branches and, ideally, from different periods of time. This is because, with enough time, languages change such that their original features become unrecognisable. Languages can add or drop tones; develop ergativity or nominative/accusative focus; drop or gain case; develop stronger isolating, agglutinating, or inflecting morphology; lose, gain, modify, and/or reanalyse lexical items; develop nasal vowels or split nasal vowels into vowels plus nasal consonants; or any number of other changes. A language family can in principle lose any or all of the features of the original protolanguage, and we can see this happen - and only with data that tell us what earlier forms of the language looked like can we even begin to reconstruct the protolanguage. Language families are not united by a set of features common to all, and the idea that this is so is bizarre.

      Reconstructing linguistic ancestry is often impossible, but we may presume that lots of relationships exist even though we can't demonstrate them. What you are saying is that this isn't so - that languages can't be related if they don't share any significant features. It seems obvious, however, that this is wrong, and that time can undo any similarities across a language family, given enough of it. The relationships would still be real (as in, certain languages would nonetheless descend from a common ancestor), but we wouldn't be able to see them due to the effects of language change.

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    28. Also, you began with examples like OVS word order and clicks, and ended up talking about lexical items. Well, that's okay, I suppose - they are 'features' of a sort. But OVS word order and clicks are pretty obvious phenomena, and could, I suppose, function like skin pigmentation to give some clues to ancestry. The fact that English 'cow' and Hindi 'gai' are related words descended from proto-Indo-European *gʷṓws is not, however, immediately apparent, and takes considerable work to demonstrate properly. I'm really not sure how you can continue in the belief that a construct based on such things is anything like the folk concept of 'race'.

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    29. Language families are not united by a set of features common to all, and the idea that this is so is bizarre.

      I never claimed this. I've simply claimed that you can take any two languages within a language family, no matter how distantly related, and you will find some feature that demonstrates their relatedness. These features may, of course, be different from one language pair to another, but once you've established relatedness, you can see how the differences between all the languages are, nevertheless, patterned

      What you are saying is that this isn't so - that languages can't be related if they don't share any significant features. It seems obvious, however, that this is wrong

      I never claimed "significant" features. Replace your adjective with just "any." Why do you think some languages are classified as isolates? Precisely because they share no features with other languages with which, geographically or historically, they could feasibly be related. More precisely, these isolates possess features that, given what is known about proto-languages and sound changes within other languages, are highly unlikely to have arisen if they were actually part of some language family.

      time can undo any similarities across a language family, given enough of it.

      Again, you're in the hypothetical realm here. In practice, lexical similarities, at the very least, are always uncovered.

      Also, you began with examples like OVS word order and clicks, and ended up talking about lexical items. Well, that's okay, I suppose - they are 'features' of a sort. But OVS word order and clicks are pretty obvious phenomena, and could, I suppose, function like skin pigmentation to give some clues to ancestry.

      Yes, finally we've had a meeting of the minds! I used those features as examples precisely because they seem to map pretty neatly onto specific clusters of languages. (Discovery of click consonants in some remote dialect of Basque would be completely unexpected.) If you think of click consonants, you think, rightly, of a specific cluster of African languages. Not because there's any "essential" connection between a cluster of African languages and click consonants, and not because click consonants are the only thing that demonstrate relatedness within this cluster, but because it's simply a feature that is practically non-existent outside of this African cluster (per Wiki, the only other example is perhaps better classified as a recently invented language game).

      Likewise, "black" refers to a specific feature or several features (skin pigmentation, but also hair texture) that do indeed map pretty well onto a cluster of relatedness on the African continent, a relatedness, which, of course, can be studied at a more proximal scale. Like you said: OVS word order and clicks are pretty obvious phenomena, and could, I suppose, function like skin pigmentation to give some clues to ancestry.

      Same with "Asian" and epicanthic folds (and, no, nobody ever means "Indian" when they say "Asian").

      Most language families, of course, don't have an obvious feature like consonant clicks in Africa or OVS word order that more or less automatically maps onto a specific geographic cluster of languages. However, at the level of large clusters, human populations do seem to have a few obvious features that can stand in as abstract proxies---conceptualizations---of those clusters, at least when comparing very different clusters with one another or looking at large scale patterns.

      All of this would come crashing down, of course, if my wife and I (both of us are German/Mexican mixes) gave birth to a child with black skin and Afro-textured hair more immune to head lice than our own hair.

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    30. "and, no, nobody ever means "Indian" when they say "Asian""

      Yes, they do. In England, that's the more common meaning, actually. But anyway....

      "More precisely, these isolates possess features that, given what is known about proto-languages and sound changes within other languages, are highly unlikely to have arisen if they were actually part of some language family."

      Isolates are always going to have had relatives once upon a time. It's just that the relatives that could have informed us about the language's wider relationships died out, making it seem as if the isolate sprang into existence without anything prior.

      "I've simply claimed that you can take any two languages within a language family, no matter how distantly related, and you will find some feature that demonstrates their relatedness."

      No, you won't. You will find some things that look similar, perhaps, but actually we need all of the available data to actually demonstrate a relationship. There's no way to eliminate coincidence or borrowing if you use only two languages, or any similarly small number, as I expect you already know. You cannot show relatedness using such a small number of languages because languages in a large family like Indo-European or Otomanguean or Tupian are extremely dissimilar.

      "Not because there's any "essential" connection between a cluster of African languages and click consonants, and not because click consonants are the only thing that demonstrate relatedness within this cluster, but because it's simply a feature that is practically non-existent outside of this African cluster"

      If you apply this reasoning to skin pigmentation, then most Timorese people and Kenyans are closely related and form a neat clade. Hmm.

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    31. Nobody who uses "black" in anything like an academic context means both Timorese people and Kenyans. They only mean Kenyans.

      Anyway, given that you've just explained to me that isolates had relatives once upon a time (thanks, I had no idea!) it looks like we're about to go back to talking at cross purposes again.

      I'll take consolation knowing that at least I got this sentence out of you: OVS word order and clicks are pretty obvious phenomena, and could, I suppose, function like skin pigmentation to give some clues to ancestry.

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    32. "I'll take consolation knowing that at least I got this sentence out of you"

      What I meant was: if anything linguistic could do such a thing, those could, due to their rarity, but I don't believe skin pigmentation says all that much about ancestry (except that darker skin pigmentation is more common closer to the equator, which still doesn't say too much). And take any other feature of any other family - the elaborate case system of PIE, for instance - and say that it can tell us which languages are IE and which aren't, and you'll be mistaken. Clicks are probably the only traits that you can do anything like this with, given that strongly inflecting languages can tolerate an OVS structure quite readily. Ergativity is relatively widespread, other word orders are found in lots of languages, and so on.

      Encounter the same feature in two languages and you cannot say whether they're related or not. Encounter almost no similarities at all and you cannot rule out genetic relatedness. You have to dig deeper, and constructs like 'Indo-European' are based on digging deeper, not on superficial resemblances. 'Black' is based on superficial resemblances that don't mean much and aren't even unique to the people considered 'black'.

      Again, is Barack Obama 'black'? Is Rashida Jones? What about Jamie Oliver, who has some Sudanese ancestry? No?

      "More precisely, these isolates possess features that, given what is known about proto-languages and sound changes within other languages, are highly unlikely to have arisen if they were actually part of some language family."

      "you've just explained to me that isolates had relatives once upon a time (thanks, I had no idea!)"

      Well, apparently you did not.

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    33. (Actually, I'm pretty sure that 'Jamie Oliver is Sudanese' thing isn't true, but I suppose you never know.)

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  15. AJ: "The way to do science is to work from the small to the big. "

    I don't think so, and this is perhaps at the heart of the slander of the so called hbd-crew that circulates. Most of us are really interested, in our hearts, in theory and models. This is the way that most of science works. You are describing, I think, scholarship, the first of CP Snow's two cultures.

    You state somewhere that the hbd crew is obsessed with IQ. Seems so, but wait! IQ is literally the only thing that can be reliably measured of a whole constellation of interesting traits. It really does work in the sense of telling one whom to hire or whom to admit to graduate school. You also speak of what we "believe" but the whole fun of science is falsifying hypotheses, not believing them. I would give my eye teeth (if I had them) to come up with something besides IQ to look at. For example I have high hopes for our "teacher effectiveness" ratings in North America (do you all do it in the UK?) with their promise of coming up with something beside IQ. See http://projects.latimes.com/value-added/ .

    You also accuse us of believing that lactose tolerance is the cause of the IE expansion. Interesting idea, we think. The attraction is that we have a plausible mechanism, the calorics look right, the evolutionary and genetic theory is there, and best of all we can test the hypothesis by looking directly at the spread of LCT from bioarchaeological specimens. That is what the attraction is, and it ain't a matter of ideology. The same perspective applies to our Ashkenazi IQ hypothesis. It is a hypothesis not a sacred truth. I agree with you about the high quality of the Botticini and Eckstein monograph. Another plausible hypothesis, but we could never find any evidence that the order to send kids to school actually ever had any effect at all. How do we test their hypothesis?

    You also state that the book that Greg and I wrote is a central document. Nonsense. You have that impression because you, fortunately for us, wandered into our blog. My own view is that Steve Sailer and hbd chick are the important cornerstones. Have a look at the roadmap at http://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/dark-enlightenment-roadmap/ .

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    1. The reason I say that your book is central is because it is a popular work that is referred to frequently. I knew of it before I came to your blog, and I suspect it is one of the main ways in which most people come to know of the general field of HBD.

      "It is a hypothesis not a sacred truth."

      And yet say that it isn't so and an HBD acolyte or two will call you 'delusional' or 'mad' or biased or whatever else. What you consider to be hypotheses, other HBDers seem to take as demonstrated fact.

      Science works from the small to the big and from the big to the small, but experiments and data are on the level of the small. It is the experiments and the data that should determine the theory, not the other way around, and if it turns out that the expectations of gene-culture co-evolution are not actually apparent in the archaeological and historical evidence, then that's that.

      Of course it's reasonable to suppose that natural selection continues to operate on human beings and has always done so, and that this must have some effects in human history. But when we look at individual cases, do we actually see this? I don't think so. When you look at actual human societies and actual human history, you can see that most cultural changes are not compelled by genetic changes and that cultural change can be independent of genetic change.

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    2. Henry, I do agree with Al that science should start small. You only need to look at Rushtons errors about r/K selection among tropical hunter foragers or his view that the evolution of HBD was mostly a Pleistocene affair, to see that HBD research is not always good science itself.

      Of course there is nothing wrong with speculation, but as with (for example) some of Jared Diamonds more dubious claims, its irritating when certain HBD related speculations become repeated as facts before they are tested properly. I think this is what Al is getting at. There needs to be more familiarity with historians, archaeologists and ethnologists to place HBD speculations on as firm a grounds as possible.

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    3. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 04:21

      "Henry, I do agree with Al that science should start small."

      Tell it to Darwin.

      There is no way to interpret and test these kind of "small" scientific data outside of a larger theoretical construct.

      The previous theoretical framework assumed that the evolution of human mental traits was impossible in any time span shorter than the divergence of the various continental races 60,000 years ago. And so all scientific data about cultural differences in humans was interpreted under that assumption.

      Cochran and Harpending have helped introduce a new possibility. Human mental traits are no different than physical traits, with both spreading very fast in local populations if selected upon. That doesn't mean that cultural and economic forces on human actions aren't important. But the social scientist now has to seriously consider the role of genetic and evolutionary forces as another possibility explaining differences between people.

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    4. "There is no way to interpret and test these kind of "small" scientific data outside of a larger theoretical construct."

      This is true, but doesn't invalidate the claim I made at all, that science ought to work from the small to the big - it should be inductive. Darwin and Wallace were both very familiar with the evidence of the diversity of life, and from this evidence they both independently formulated the theory of evolution by natural selection. It came from the evidence, and it explains the evidence - not just the stuff they knew at the time, but subsequent data too. The same cannot be said for the claims of HBDers, which are at best hypotheses that are forced to compete with better-established socio-cultural mechanisms.

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    5. Or rather, heredity should be shown to correlate with known sociocultural mechanisms and, once the role of heredity is understood well enough, genetic evidence may in the future be able to test the mechanisms speculated upon in uncertain cases.

      It makes no sense to contrast hereditarian and environmental explanations because both are constants, with human cultural behaviours, the presence of which is also a constant, as the interface.

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    6. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 17:05

      "This is true, but doesn't invalidate the claim I made at all, that science ought to work from the small to the big - it should be inductive."

      What does it matter? Big or small, your idea should be testable and falsifiable.

      No one outside of a historian or biographer cares today that Darwin worked with coral or that Wallace collected the feathers of birds-of-paradise. They are justly famous today for their larger theory, not their particular small experiments and data collection which were surpassed long ago.

      Similarly, Louis Agassiz collected at least as much small data, and did as much field work, as both Darwin and Wallace, but that didn't prevent the Swiss-born American scientist from following an unproductive line of scientific reasoning. Working from small to big didn't help Agassiz reach the right conclusions about evolution. (In the end, it also didn't help Wallace reach the right conclusions about human evolution.)

      So there's nothing sacred and holy about working from small to big. Just make sure your idea fits the evidence better than the other ideas, be open to changing it if new evidence contradicts it, and you'll be fine.

      "Darwin and Wallace were both very familiar with the evidence of the diversity of life, and from this evidence they both independently formulated the theory of evolution by natural selection. It came from the evidence, and it explains the evidence - not just the stuff they knew at the time, but subsequent data too."

      True. But theories do not reveal themselves to a mind shut off to the possibilities of the evidence. When the first fossilized Neanderthal was found, it was assumed to be a deformed human. Why? Because no one at the time considered the possibility of separate hominid species.

      Theories also help concentrate the direction of small scientific experiments into productive directions. If you're unwilling to consider the possibility of HBD as a hypothesis for explaining the data, for example, you're unlikely to ever find it because you won't be looking for it. The evidence is not going to jump out and reveal itself to you any more than that dead Neanderthal is going to get up and tell you he's not an anatomically modern human.

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    7. Theories are supposed to be determined by the evidence, not plucked out of the air and defended with cherry-picked data. Can we agree on that, at least? That is all I mean by science ideally proceeding from the small and building up.

      Agassiz is a bad example to choose, I think, because while he collected a lot of evidence, he wasn't open to the possibility that his beliefs were wrong. He looked for glaciation in the Amazon and, not finding any evidence of it, continued in his belief regardless. When you actually look at the cases brought up in defense of HBD dogma, they are usually found lacking, and alternative explanations - nearly all of them at least equally compelling, if not vastly more so - can be proposed that better account for the evidence and which do not rest on the oversimplifications necessary for HBD theories to work.

      Cochran has suggested several times that Chinese people in Southeast Asia, for example, are descended from illiterate tin miners who worked their way up through sheer intellect. But that definitely isn't true; when you actually look in historical accounts of Southeast Asia, you'll see that the Chinese presence has been varied across the region, involving diplomats, military expeditions, traders, fishermen, miners, explorers, and much else. They do not represent a random sample of the Chinese population at any point, and they were certainly not illiterate. Before European colonisation, China was the major power in the region and access to Chinese goods and financial backing conferred as much of an advantage over the locals as English goods and English financial backing conferred to English settlers in North America over the indigenes. They often had privileged places in the colonial system, too, as they had few links to the local region or population, making them more loyal to e.g. the Dutch and British and more dependant on them for safety.

      Take away all of these factors and really look at the way history played out in the area and you will not be able to claim beyond reasonable doubt that the superiority of Chinese genes put them on top.

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    8. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 19:44

      "Theories are supposed to be determined by the evidence, not plucked out of the air and defended with cherry-picked data. Can we agree on that, at least? That is all I mean by science ideally proceeding from the small and building up."

      Going from small science to big science is not necessary. You need both. They interact and work together. The important thing is that your ideas, big or small, are testable and falsifiable, and that they best fit all the available evidence.

      Cochran is a theoretician. He gets most of his ideas by thoroughly understanding general principles about evolution, medicine, and population genetics that he feels are often neglected by most scientists. So he starts off big and then goes small to find ways to test his ideas. That's perfectly acceptable science.

      For example, in their book Cochran and Harpending considered it unlikely that Neanderthals and AMHs could live in close proximity for such a long period of time and not interbreed and that there should be genetic evidence for this in the modern human genome. This insight was driven by an understanding of general principles, not by conducting small-bore science projects until they built up into a general idea. And their hypothesis was eventually confirmed.

      On the other hand, Cochran once believed that AMH/Neanderthal interbreeding might have created the equivalent of a cognitive big bang, but he's become increasingly skeptical of such a possibility as more evidence has come out.

      That's how an empiricist works. He puts out testable ideas and probes them for inconsistencies as more evidence is produced. He changes his mind if the evidence doesn't support him. He doesn't have to move from small to big. He can use general principles to follow productive lines of inquiry and answer small questions.

      "Agassiz is a bad example to choose, I think, because while he collected a lot of evidence, he wasn't open to the possibility that his beliefs were wrong."

      Well, sure. But every scientist is occasionally prone to stubbornness. Einstein couldn't believe that God played dice with the universe. Wallace eventually became a mystic where the evolution of man was concerned. Darwin struggled with finding the underlying cause of natural selection, most likely because he didn't understand probability that well and certainly because he never read Mendel.

      My point in mentioning Agassiz was to show that going from small to big doesn't necessarily provide the scientist with a valid line of scientific reasoning. Agassiz relied on his well-earned reputation for detailed work to push his questionable comprehensive theories about nature.

      The opposite is true, too. Using a big general theory or principle to test a small scientific question is not necessarily wrong, either.

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    9. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 19:57

      continued...

      "Cochran has suggested several times that Chinese people in Southeast Asia, for example, are descended from illiterate tin miners who worked their way up through sheer intellect. But that definitely isn't true; when you actually look in historical accounts of Southeast Asia, you'll see that the Chinese presence has been varied across the region, involving diplomats, military expeditions, traders, fishermen, miners, explorers, and much else."

      The assumption should be that the Chinese who immigrated to SE Asia were very much like a cross-section of people from the communities in southern China that they left. Certainly men and some occupations would have been overrepresented, but there is no reason to believe that the Chinese who immigrated to SE Asia, when taken as a whole, would've been considered remarkable people when they were back in China.

      In fact, Lee Kuan Yew once told Deng Xiaoping that China's fortunes were almost certainly going to be better than Singapore's based on Lee's assumption that most Chinese immigrants to SE Asia were second-rate and not the best China had to offer. That sentiment was undoubtedly a mixture of diplomacy and exaggeration, but it's interesting that Lee chose to phrase it like that.

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    10. "there is no reason to believe that the Chinese who immigrated to SE Asia, when taken as a whole, would've been considered remarkable people when they were back in China."

      Probably you're right. And the same is true of the Portuguese settlers of Brazil in the sixteenth-through-nineteenth centuries. Rather unremarkable, but blessed with connections to Portugal and beyond, and with cultural traits that enabled them to succeed where indigenous people couldn't (e.g., carvel-built ships, gunpowder, you name it).

      And look at Australia. The population is a bit more diverse these days, but the founding European population consisted of convicts and soldiers. Is Australia's murder rate higher than the UK's? In fact, the opposite is true. And Australia's per capita GDP is higher than the UK's, too. Could it be that links with the homeland and resources to exploit and sell are good enough to explain this? I think so. And likewise with Chinese people in Southeast Asia, too.

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    11. Pincher Martin15 March 2014 18:02

      "And look at Australia. The population is a bit more diverse these days, but the founding European population consisted of convicts and soldiers."

      Convicts in those days consisted mainly of what we would today consider either very petty crimes or not crimes at all. Criminals who committed serious crimes like murder, rape, and robbery before the mid-1800s faced the executioner, not transportation to Australia.

      Even so, most white Australians today do not have a convict in their pedigree. But those who do have one are still not descended from murderers and cutthroats, but from people who committed forgery or advocated revolution or perhaps, at worst, killed someone in a duel. They were minor offenders.

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  16. Completely agree AJ West.
    Indeed, the 'HBD" claims based on Cochran and Harpending are debunked in detail below.

    http://nilevalleypeoples.blogspot.com/2014/03/exploding-nonsense-review-of-cochran_8.html

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    Besides the 8 weaknesses in HBD claims listed, it would be fair to say that Cochran and Harpending re not as blatant as people like JP Rushton. Their's is a mild version that preserves "plausible denial." Still, like every scholarly approach, they deserve a hearing, and indeed so far have been given one on the web, favorably so in many quarters. Below are some further links on assorted "HBD" claims that you might find useful in further posts:





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    1. Whichever idiot wrote that piece, has not the slightest idea what evolution is.

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  17. jp RUSHTON'S "RACIAL EVOLUTION" NOTIONS DEBUNKED
    Race and other misadventures: essays in honor of Ashley Montagu... By Larry T. Reynolds, Leonard Lieberman

    http://books.google.com/books?id=5DLrgG_MflgC&pg=PA190&dq=r-+k-+selection+races&cd=1#v=onepage&q=r-%20k-%20selection%20races&f=false
    --------------------------------

    SCIENTIST ALAN TEMPLETON DEBUNKS BIOLOGICAL RACE USING HARD DATA
    Race and intelligence: separating science from myth. By Jefferson M. Fish. Routledge 2002. See Templeton's detailed article referenced above also inside the book

    http://books.google.com/books?id=t9OdPPLIgMAC&pg=PA64&dq=r-+k-+selection+races&cd=7#v=onepage&q=r-%20k-%20selection%20races&f=false
    ------------------------

    Race Matters debunked
    http://www.ogiek.org/indepth/what-they-mean.htm
    ---------------- -------

    Lynn and Vanhaven's IQ and The Wealth Of Nations Debunked
    http://mises.org/daily/2677
    ---------------- -------

    HBD "selection" and evolution claims debunked- Sarich and Miele's "Race: the reality of Human Differences"
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-02-18/
    ---------------- -------

    "Racial evolution" debunked
    --S OY Keita, R A Kittles, et al. "Conceptualizing human variation," Nature Genetics 36, S17 - S20 (2004)
    http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36/n11s/pdf/ng1455.pdf


    --S.O.Y. Keita and Rick Kittles. (1997) *The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence. AJPA, 99:3
    http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageDocuments/WAURRSZQOE.pdf
    ---------------- -------

    MORE HBD DEBUNKING
    -------------------------------- ---------------------

    Evolution, brain size, and the national IQ of peoples ... - Jelte Wicherts 2010
    http://wicherts.socsci.uva.nl/wichertsPAIDrejoinder.pdf
    ------------------------------------

    Why national IQs do not support evolutionary theories of intelligence - WIcherts, Borsboom and Dolan 2010
    Personality and Individual Differences 48 (2010) 91-96
    http://wicherts.socsci.uva.nl/wicherts2010.pdf
    ----------------------------- -------------

    Are intelligence tests measurement invariant over time? by JM Wicherts - ?2004
    --Dolan, Wicherts et al 2004. Investigating the nature of the Flynn effect. Intelligence 32 (2004) 509-537
    http://www.iapsych.com/iqmr/fe/LinkedDocuments/wicherts2004.pdf
    -------------------------------------------

    Wicherts and Johnson, 2009. Group differences in the heritability of items and test scores
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/04/24/rspb.2009.0238.full

    ReplyDelete
  18. Waaay upthread (12 March 2014 12:40), A.J. West wrote,

    > I have been accused by several people of basing this post on straw men

    Yes, that was my strong impression.

    > but that isn't true; everything [I have written here] is based on something an HBD-er has actually said...

    OK. That could well be the case; the Internet is a big place. (The reader would know better, if you made more generous use of links.)

    I'll restate this criticism of your post. You don't consistently address the best and strongest variants of the arguments you wish to counter.

    That isn't bringing your A game to the debate. It certainly isn't the way that scientific understanding increases.

    A related problem: you often paraphrase those you oppose, instead of quoting them. Paraphrasing under these circumstances turns out to be a surprisingly difficult skill to master.

    ReplyDelete
  19. AJ west says:
    "I have been accused by several people of basing this post on straw men. but that isn't true; everything [I have written here] is based on something an HBD-er has actually said...
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    You are correct. The accusation against you is itself a strawman. You are not using that at all. If anything, the links posted show that things are even worse. And they represent criticism by solid, respected mainstream scholars, some heavyweights in their field like Chris Stringer, not random bloggers off the web. Indeed most of the links above debunking the assorted aspects of HBD appear in serious, peer-reviewed journals. So you are not engaging in "strawmen" at all. Credible scholars and experts in anthropology, genetics, paleontology, history, etc using hard data raise some of the exact same issues you do, ans debunk assorted HBD notions in detail.

    jp RUSHTON'S "RACIAL EVOLUTION" NOTIONS DEBUNKED
    Race and other misadventures: essays in honor of Ashley Montagu... By Larry T. Reynolds, Leonard Lieberman

    http://books.google.com/books?id=5DLrgG_MflgC&pg=PA190&dq=r-+k-+selection+races&cd=1#v=onepage&q=r-%20k-%20selection%20races&f=false
    --------------------------------

    SCIENTIST ALAN TEMPLETON DEBUNKS BIOLOGICAL RACE USING HARD DATA
    Race and intelligence: separating science from myth. By Jefferson M. Fish. Routledge 2002. See Templeton's detailed article referenced above also inside the book

    http://books.google.com/books?id=t9OdPPLIgMAC&pg=PA64&dq=r-+k-+selection+races&cd=7#v=onepage&q=r-%20k-%20selection%20races&f=false
    ------------------------

    Race Matters debunked
    http://www.ogiek.org/indepth/what-they-mean.htm
    ---------------- -------

    Lynn and Vanhaven's IQ and The Wealth Of Nations Debunked
    http://mises.org/daily/2677
    ---------------- -------

    HBD "selection" and evolution claims debunked- Sarich and Miele's "Race: the reality of Human Differences"
    http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-02-18/
    ---------------- -------

    "Racial evolution" debunked
    --S OY Keita, R A Kittles, et al. "Conceptualizing human variation," Nature Genetics 36, S17 - S20 (2004)
    http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36/n11s/pdf/ng1455.pdf


    --S.O.Y. Keita and Rick Kittles. (1997) *The Persistence of Racial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence. AJPA, 99:3
    http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageDocuments/WAURRSZQOE.pdf
    ---------------- -------

    MORE HBD DEBUNKING
    -------------------------------- ---------------------

    Evolution, brain size, and the national IQ of peoples ... - Jelte Wicherts 2010
    http://wicherts.socsci.uva.nl/wichertsPAIDrejoinder.pdf
    ------------------------------------

    Why national IQs do not support evolutionary theories of intelligence - WIcherts, Borsboom and Dolan 2010
    Personality and Individual Differences 48 (2010) 91-96
    http://wicherts.socsci.uva.nl/wicherts2010.pdf
    ----------------------------- -------------

    Are intelligence tests measurement invariant over time? by JM Wicherts - ?2004
    --Dolan, Wicherts et al 2004. Investigating the nature of the Flynn effect. Intelligence 32 (2004) 509-537
    http://www.iapsych.com/iqmr/fe/LinkedDocuments/wicherts2004.pdf
    -------------------------------------------

    Wicherts and Johnson, 2009. Group differences in the heritability of items and test scores
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2009/04/24/rspb.2009.0238.full

    HBD ANCIENT 'CAUCASOID' "COGNITIVE REVOLUTION" CLAIMS DEBUNKED
    www.anth.uconn.edu/faculty/mcbrearty/Pdf/McB%20&%20Brooks%202000%20TRTW.pdf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Research Data (13 March 2014 23:21)

      You rebut my remarks by pasting twelve links to debunkings (your term) of HBD. I clicked on one from the middle, "HBD 'selection' and evolution claims debunked- Sarich and Miele's 'Race: the reality of Human Differences'".

      That turns out to be pair of reviews from 2005 of a book on race published in 2004. Neither reviewer demonstrates familiarity with quantitative approaches to the question of how rapidly human evolution takes place, or the issue of how one would distinguish changes driven by selective pressure from those resulting from drift.

      In addition, neither author discuses data newer than nine years old. Not so surprising, when you think about it.

      This isn't a bunking or a debunking. It's a pair of old book reviews. One is a fairly spritely read, and the other is steeped in jargon and pedantry. You can decide which is which.

      Thanks for the links, but I'll pass on the others.

      Delete
  20. Just one point, ironically linguistic. I've noticed that Brits tend to use "Black" to refer to anybody, just about, who isn't White or Oriental, to include light-skinned Hindostani, Melanesians, and even Iraqis and other Arabs, sometimes. Americans use "Black" only on SS Africans and their diaspora. To clarify, why not use Coon's terms — Caucasoid, Congoid, Mongoloid, Capoid, and Australoid? Those remain the basic five races, and they're much less ambiguous than all the others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why use them? is my response. In academia, they're basically useless; the level of internal diversity in each category is pretty high and they don't make sense as basic classifications of humankind. Physical anthropologists are these days practically unanimous in this view. In ordinary social life, those categories are useless, too, and they serve only to divide groups of people into categories that they almost never fit into perfectly.

      Delete
    2. Huh? Clines may exist but what Garn called 'major races' follow the familiar zoogeographic patterns. Clearly these are divisions of mankind below the level of species or 'human race' but above the level of 'minor race', landrace or population. Even Homo sapiens is a category not everyone fits neatly into, most of the worlds people including myself are now known to be interspecific hybrids.

      Delete
  21. AMAC,
    You conveniently ignore several peer reviewed articles by credible scientists debunking numerous HBD claims and notions.

    But you also misrepresent the book review. 2005 is relatively recent and the data very applicable. Heck, JP Rushton from the 1990s, Richard Lynn from the 1980s, and even the hoary Carleton Coon circa 1930s and 1950s is quoted expansively by the HBD faithful whenever they feel like it. Indeed that is one of the criticisms of HBD types- how often they use obsolete sources. See Kittles and Keita for example on the use of obsolete anthropology works to bolster shaky current DNA "racial" claims.. But what you don't also say is that the work critiqued: Sarich and Miele 2004, is also another widely used reference by HBDers in the web. How come it is OK to use their 2004 reference, but not a 2005 critique? Quite a potential double standard there...


    And further as to the critique of Sarich and Miele, that is what I had to put up to give the reader a clickable web link, but for those saying not enough - be careful what you wish for. Actually the same author, Alondra Oubre, has written a two volume set on their claims, and other HDB notions. It is called "Race, Genes and Ability" (2011), If anything, the even more detailed critique within is EVEN MORE devastating to HBD claims, including that of Sarich and Miele. And the author, who is an expert in medical anthropology, one of the most highly developed areas of anthropology and applied anthropology, demonstrates more than enough "familiarity with quantitative approaches" and the issue of separating genetic drift from selection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 07:31

      Research Data,

      Most of the links in the bibliography you present are slapdash. A click on a couple of your "debunkers" shows nothing more than a poorly-written book review. Your cites rarely provide a genuine debunking, and sometimes they lack even a coherent counter-argument. You frequently put the reader in media res without first explaining to him what HBD conventional wisdom your link is challenging or why it's significant and worth noting. Instead, you seem to think some third-rate bibliography stands as a "debunking" by itself just because you say it does.

      Some of Rushton and Lynn's work is sloppy and deserves a sharp, if fair, critical response. But when one reviewer writes of Lynn and Vanhanen that "[t]he authors apparently picture precolonial Africans as sitting around on the stoops of their housing projects, drinking their forty-ounce cans of malt liquor, and waiting for the white man to finally arrive with their welfare checks," the reader knows that the knives are out for the authors and that a fair handling of the material in their book is not the point of the review.

      And what's the point of linking to this twelve-year-old anthology? You can't even bother to tell us what essays in it are most worth reading and why. Hell, at least two deal primarily with The Bell Curve. That book was published twenty years ago !

      In that same anachronistic spirit, most of your links refer to the hoary notions that HBDers have either answered or acknowledged a million times already. Yes, we know about the Flynn Effect. Yes, we've heard social scientists say race can't possibly be real because race only exists along a continuum. Yes, we're aware that some critics still believe that informed people think races are essential types. Like this source:

      "Racial thinking rests on the belief that visible human variation connotes fundamental deep differences within the species, which can be packaged into units of near-uniform individuals. This belief leads to the construction of types that by definition must have certain traits."

      Well, that's nice. It's too bad that no informed HBDer today actually believes that. But it certainly sounds like a convincing argument if the reader is told to assume they do believe in such things.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. (14 March 2014 11:14 comment, amended)
      @Pincher Martin --

      IMO, there isn't much to be gained by engaging further with 'Research Data'. This is point-and-sputter stuff, to apply Sailer's phrase.

      The aspiration of all debaters should be to grapple with the best arguments of the various other parties.

      Even our gracious host doesn't seem to grasp the broad strokes of modern evolutionary thinking, and the implications of the fact that homo sapiens are primates, rather than fallen angels. Prof. West would do well to reconsider misdreavus' responses to his post, upthread.

      1. The OP and this thread is more about ideology (and the implications of theories for ideology), than it is about whatever the science may be, concerning human evolution, selective pressure, and biodiversity.

      2. People who don't want to consider new ideas, won't. One must recognize that particular satisfaction can come from defending an elite subculture's core beliefs.

      3. It can be frustrating to wade through these tl;dr apologias for the dogma of Human BioUniformity (HBU). Even after dismissing the silly and specious, many of these arguments are poorly-founded. Other Lewontin-style claims are based on extrapolations from a few loci. That may have been tenable a dozen years ago. More recently, one only need look at the sorts of Principal Component Analysis figures that Razib Khan discusses (e.g. from 2012, Figure 2 from a 2008 paper). Such patterns in human populations ought to set off alarms among the defenders of HBU dogma. They don't (obviously).

      4. HBU is similar to HBD in having a gigantic virtue: since it makes testable predictions about the physical world, it is falsifiable.

      5. The existence of dog breeds. Silver foxes. Svante Paabo. Special pleading ("I will allow HBD in certain traits, but demand HBU for other traits").

      6. Thought experiment. 40,000 years ago, at least two human species or subspecies co-existed; they interbred. Suppose Neanderthals had persisted to the present; a plausible scenario. Would this affect HBU beliefs?

      Delete
    4. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 17:24

      AMac,

      "Even our gracious host doesn't seem to grasp the broad strokes of modern evolutionary thinking, and the implications of the fact that homo sapiens are primates, rather than fallen angels. Prof. West would do well to reconsider misdreavus' responses to his post, upthread."

      "1. The OP and this thread is more about ideology (and the implications of theories for ideology), than it is about whatever the science may be, concerning human evolution, selective pressure, and biodiversity."


      I agree, but West is obviously a bright and knowledgable guy and it's sometimes fun arguing with bright and knowledgable people who you fundamentally disagree with.

      Delete
    5. This is not about ideology, and I barely mentioned it either in the original post or in the comments. While I am, of course, interested in the social implications of theories of prehistory (who isn't?), they should be fundamentally separate from the theories themselves. It seems to be that HBDers are not able to distinguish between an attack on the empirical problems with their theory (e.g., the fact that it has very little explanatory power in real life when compared with theories that foreground socio-cultural traits) and attacks based on ideological grounds.

      I understand the ideas behind the theory and I fully appreciate that humans are primates and biological organisms subject to selective pressures. I just don't think that explanations of recent history that foreground genes and genetic variation are any good. They always seem to be based on conflating correlation and causation, and ignoring historical contingency and culture. Only the most basic and often trivial aspects of culture are considered, and their wider socio-cultural implications are not considered.

      See e.g. Cochran's hypothesis about the diversity of language families in the Americas, for example. An explanation in terms of genetic diversity cannot realistically compete with one that rests on flint corn and an absence of horses.

      In most cases, society and culture are the driving forces of history, and while they derive in a lot of respects from human phylogenetic inheritance, they are not determined by genetic variation.

      Delete
    6. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 18:19

      " It seems to be that HBDers are not able to distinguish between an attack on the empirical problems with their theory (e.g., the fact that it has very little explanatory power in real life when compared with theories that foreground socio-cultural traits) and attacks based on ideological grounds."

      But you're not presenting an empirical attack on HBD. You're throwing out a few historical anecdotes into the mix, talking vaguely about the importance of trade and literacy, and then ignoring larger and more consistent patterns in the data.

      "See e.g. Cochran's hypothesis about the diversity of language families in the Americas, for example. An explanation in terms of genetic diversity cannot realistically compete with one that rests on flint corn and an absence of horses."

      In that specific example, you might be correct. But even there you refused to quantify your objections.

      Delete
  22. Baloo sez:
    To clarify, why not use Coon's terms — Caucasoid, Congoid, Mongoloid, Capoid, and Australoid? Those remain the basic five races, and they're much less ambiguous than all the others.
    -------------------------------- -

    Credible scientists today don't use Carleton Coons obsolete and discredited approach, and they don't use obsolete terms like "Capoid" and such (save for historical background) because they are not only inaccurate scientifically but have little credible meaning or usefulness scientifically. The fact that you are talking bout 'Capoids" circa 2014 demonstrates 'Exhibit A" of the obsolete "HBD" mentality and approach so often found among "the faithful" - exactly what I was talking about above. Thanks for proving my point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saying things are 'obsolete and discredited' without further explanation is not a refutation, and nor is claiming who is or isn't credible without presenting reasoning as to why.

      Frankly your entire paragraph repeats the same words over and over as though to stress your point without having to demonstrate anything.

      Delete
  23. Well, it's a bit of a wonder where to start. There are so many remarkably wrong-headed misinterpretations in that post that I can only rationally be left with the conclusion that you intentionally set out to craft numerous strawmen and totally misrepresent virtually every idea you discussed.

    I'm not generally inclined to argue details with people who, arguably, intentionally distort details to fit their preconceived agendas, but in this case there is likely some value to be had by espousing free-discussion and trying to reclaim objectivity from bias.

    Well, let's pick an obvious strawman to start with. You said: "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!"

    Nice work! You managed to completely misrepresent the argument by a total 180 degrees! It takes an artistic hand to craft a strawman that is a direct mirror-inversion of the real thing. No one has ever argued that outbreeding societies create an environment where every stranger is so biologically similar to one's self that it makes sense to treat random passers-by with the same lovingly nepotistic behavior that is normally reserved for one's ultra-inbred sister-cousins.

    You said: "Does this square with anyone's experience of living in a society like that? I certainly don't see the people around me as probable relatives, and I live and have always lived in such a society."

    Of course not, that's because you purposefully crafted your strawman to be utterly absurd and bear no resemblance in detail to the original hypothesis or the proposed mechanisms involved. Again, no one has argued that outbreeding creates environments where strangers are so genetically similar to yourself that you're going to treat them like they show up in seven different spots on your family tree. You understand that.

    The central theme behind HBD discussions about what the long-term influence marriage patterns might have upon societies is that thousands of years of INBREEDING creates a situation where one's tribal group is significantly more related to one's self than average, hence increasing the tangible rewards for nepotistic behavior in societies that practice a high-degree of consanguineous marriage.

    The realization that kin-selective altruistic behaviors are comparatively far stronger in closely-related, indeed inbred, tribal societies should give a rational person pause. Human beings are, on average, pretty rational actors - they respond amazingly well to incentive and disincentive. A thorough understanding of what incentive pressures are at play is utterly indispensable in both understanding human behaviors of the past and attempting to make accurate predictions about future behavior.

    Do you think that perhaps it would be comparatively more difficult to stamp out nepotism and corruption in a tribal trust culture, where bonds of societal and fiduciary responsibility are concentrated along hereditary lines and where extensive consanguineous marriage has helped to increase the incentive to engage in kin-selective altruistic behavior?

    But such a description doesn't make a particularly nice strawman, so don't mind me. Please carry on with your mind-numbingly bad misrepresentation of HBD.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "No one has ever argued that outbreeding societies create an environment where every stranger is so biologically similar to one's self that it makes sense to treat random passers-by with the same lovingly nepotistic behavior that is normally reserved for one's ultra-inbred sister-cousins."

      You're right. I must have imagined the exchange I had on twitter with HBDChick and Jayman, and I suppose I imagined the account on Jayman's blog, and HBDChick's, as well. They claim that because of early 'outbreeding' in northern Europe, the benefits of helping strangers can be felt at the genetic level, such that Sweden has a strong welfare state that works because Swedes are altruistic and willing to help strangers, but which won't work for Somalis because Somalis are inbreeders who don't have any particularly strong genetic compulsion to help strangers.

      It's interesting to me that a strawman to one HBDer is another HBDer's core theory. Perhaps the unity of 'HBD' is just a figment, and there are no common beliefs throughout.

      Delete
    2. Pincher Martin14 March 2014 18:25

      "You're right. I must have imagined the exchange I had on twitter with HBDChick and Jayman, and I suppose I imagined the account on Jayman's blog, and HBDChick's, as well."

      You're caricaturing their argument. They are making a comparative HBD argument about Swedish and Somali societies, and you're turning it into an absolute and essentialist one - as if no Swede cares more about their families than they do about strangers, and no Somali ever helped a stranger unless his life depended on it.

      Learn to think on the margins, West !

      Delete
    3. @A. J. West 14 March 2014 18:06

      > It's interesting to me that a strawman to one HBDer is another HBDer's core theory. Perhaps the unity of 'HBD' is just a figment, and there are no common beliefs throughout.

      That's a caricature, but there's a nugget of insight in your remark. HBD isn't a cult with a codified set of orthodoxies and heresies. It isn't a movement at all. Crossing swords with random silly bloggers who self-identify as "HBD'ers"... Rebuttals of mis-characterized arguments of more careful thinkers, as with your Swede/Somali yarn... What are these exercises meant to accomplish?

      Theories of Human BioDiversity (Nature and Nurture) and Human BioUniformity (Nurture not Nature) each make predictions about the physical world. At the top of this thread, misdreavus already laid out enough of that material.

      I find it unremarkable that some of Cochran's many hypotheses turn out to be wrong. But if it is indeed a sin: mortal or venial?

      Delete
    4. "You're right. I must have imagined the exchange I had on twitter with HBDChick and Jayman, and I suppose I imagined the account on Jayman's blog, and HBDChick's, as well."

      You're right, you did imagine it. Repeat after me: outbreeding is not inbreeding.

      You're claiming that HBD* Chick and Jayman believe: "...that because of early 'outbreeding' in northern Europe, the benefits of helping strangers can be felt at the genetic level"

      Repeat after me, outbreeding is not inbreeding. I have never seen such an argument as you have made. I've read voluminous arguments for and against increased consanguinity encouraging nepotism, but I've never read Jayman or HBD* Chick write anything approaching"...everyone you meet is almost guaranteed to be your relative and therefore worthier of compassion!"

      Again, since it obviously needs repetition: outbreeding is not inbreeding. In the most basic terms of logic: A is A; B is B. Ascribing a value to B does not mean that A must have the opposite value. Ascribing a value to B does not mean that somehow A must on its own be a driver in the opposite direction. When we talk about B what makes you think we're talking about A?

      The argument is not that outbreeding causes every stranger to be more related and causes more kin-selective altruism to random people, that's your own pet fallacy and I've never sighted such an argument anywhere but in your posts: the argument is that inbreeding to an extent discourages society-wide altruism by providing additional kin-selective altruistic benefits to close tribal associates.

      Outbreeding is not inbreeding. A is A, B is B. Ascribing a value to B does not mean that somehow A must be an anti-B with the opposite value.

      Outbreeding, for the purpose of this discussion, can for the time being be treated merely a mathematically neutral. Outbreeding is not inbreeding. A person can say that inbreeding encourages nepotism or other elements generally associated with tribalism by enhancing the kin-selective benefits of such behaviors, and that statement does not ascribe any direct value or action to outbreeding, outbreeding in this instance can be thought of as "the absence of inbreeding".

      If A is A, and B is B, noting that B causes an equation to shift by +1 does not mean that A is -1, it merely means that subtracting B results in a loss of +1. It means that when we talk about A, we're probably not talking about B, which means we're probably not talking about B's +1.

      Outbreeding is not inbreeding. Noting that inbreeding increases the relatedness of close relatives, which Jayman and HBD* Chick have done on occasion, does not mean that outbreeding causes you to be closely related to random strangers. Noting that B, inbreeding, increases (+1) the benefit of kin-selective altruistic behaviors that favor one's tribal cousins, does not mean that outbreeding (A) causes you to be closely related to strangers.

      Noting that high consanguinity shifts the equation for kin-selective altruistic acts in such a fashion as to favor actions that benefit one's tribe over wider society is in no way, shape or form arguing that outbreeding makes everyone more related and hence more worthy of compassion.

      Since you've made the claim that Jayman and HBD* Chick believe that: "...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!" why don't you offer some direct quotations to that effect, cousin?

      Delete
    5. You're right, Anonymous - I could provide quotes to that effect. Or you could go and read Jayman's summary of the foundations of human civilization (as he sees it) and see the position there. Of course, what he actually says is that outbreeding encouraged the development of genes for reciprocal altruism instead of kin-based altruism, and that "to an outbred individual, the entire nation is essentially one’s extended family". But okay.

      "Theories of Human BioDiversity (Nature and Nurture) and Human BioUniformity (Nurture not Nature) each make predictions about the physical world."

      That is a mischaracterisation; it is possible to believe that humans are not biologically diverse (at least cognitively) without believing in the strength of nurture over nature. It would just attribute the natural elements to phylogenetic inheritance rather than recent selection.

      Delete
    6. @A.J. West 14 March 2014 22:05 --

      > That is a mischaracterisation; it is possible to believe that humans are not biologically diverse (at least cognitively) without believing in the strength of nurture over nature.

      Pardon my use of shorthand. The context was the relative importance of environmental variation (e.g. history, climate) and genetic variation as causes of the observed heterogeneity among human cultures (e.g. Swedes and Somalis). To the extent that your conceive of human biodiversity as being non-existent or trivial, logic would appear to demand that you don't invoke it as one such cause.

      That seems like a straightforward inference.

      Delete
    7. It is indeed, but I have been taken to task for claiming that humans are blank slates due to my denial of central pillars of the HBD programme - as if denying the importance of recent selection also involved denying 'human nature', which it doesn't.

      Delete
    8. @A.J. West 15 March 2014 08:08) --

      You seem to recognize that the 'mischaracterization' within my 14 March 2014 19:04 comment, was not. That gladdens me.

      This can serve as a reminder that constructive engagement across the HBD/HBU gulf is difficult. Perhaps we should resist rhetorical temptations such as shorthand and paraphrasing, among others.

      Delete
  24. Professor West, towards the beginning of the thread, you wrote,

    ""Races do exist."

    No, they don't. Humans are much more genetically diverse than this, and the simplistic diagrams HBDBibliography occasionally churns out on twitter are not sufficient evidence to overrule the consensus of physical anthropologists who see humans as more variable than any such concept as 'race'."


    In fact, the (incorrect) statement that "there's more genetic variation within individual races than between them, so race is meaningless" is so commonly-repeated that it has its own name - Lewontin's Fallacy.

    Furthermore, as it turns out, the intuitive classifications that people use in everyday speech are well-grounded. From this link: http://www.gnxp.com/new/2007/01/14/race-the-current-consensus/

    "...researchers at Stanford, ... assembled a group of Americans who identified themselves as either African-American, white, East Asian, or Hispanic. They followed a similar protocol ... they took DNA from all individuals, looked at hundreds of different DNA variants, and applied a clustering algorithm. They then looked to see if their clusters corresponded to self-reported group. And indeed, in 3631 out of 3636 cases (99.85%), the individuals were clustered by the algorithm into the “correct” racial group."

    In other words, "race" is a meaningful, useful concept supported by hard evidence from quantitative genetics, and layman's terms such as "white" and "black" are remarkably accurate simplifications of the ways in which human ancestry tends to cluster.

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    1. @pwyll,

      See the PCA-based depictions of various ethnic groups and races that I linked to above, at AMac 14 March 2014 13:57. Lewontin's claims fall apart once the analysis is extended to cover hundreds or thousands of loci.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. Yes, I believe we're in agreement. (Also, the genetic clustering algorithm used in the paper I linked to seems very similar to PCA.)

      Delete
    3. Race certainly exists as an idea with real world effects. Does it exist genetically? No. Are folk theories of racial classification grounded in genetics? I'd say it depends on what the theory is honing in on---for example, if the claim is that a certain group has a large nose then to say that this physical characteristic is not grounded in genetics is false. At the same time, to say that such a physical characteristic is ultimately genetic doesn't tell us much about the genetic mechanisms that brought it about.

      Delete
  25. "Does it exist genetically? No."

    You asserted this without evidence. I've just presented evidence (in the second link in my comment at 17:20) that race does exist genetically. What scientific evidence do you have that contradicts that paper's results?

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    Replies
    1. @pwyll 15 March 2014 00:21 --

      To the extent that the "race doesn't exist genetically" claim is based on something besides wishful thinking, conformity, and ignorance, it seems to take this form:

      "Race is a social construct with fuzzy borders. Gene-based characterizations are unable to reproduce some of those borders."

      That claim is true, because "race" is, of course, a social construct. Among other things.

      Consider a man with three Icelandic grandparents and one Zulu grandparent. In the U.S., he is "black." In Haiti, he could be taken for a Creole. In Nigeria, he might be "mostly white, certainly not Yoruba or Ibo."

      Biologically, his race is "three-quarters Icelandic (supergroup white) and one-quarter Zulu (supergroup black). That mouthful doesn't align with any of the "social constructs" I sketched.

      The gap between "social constructs are varied" and "race doesn't exist" seems vast. But the power of Belief to overcome Our Lyin' Eyes and PCA-based figures cannot be overestimated.

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    2. @AMac, I agree with this but not entirely. Perhaps one day, when North Africa and Central Asia are sampled very well, the borders will be blurred even in that case. I'm somewhat agnostic about that, though I think big gaps will still remain.

      Delete
    3. I'd reply along the lines of "for mixed-race people to exist, races must exist", similarly to Seth's comments above about colors of light and dog breeds. Certainly, if you told the average man on the street "I'm 3/4 Icelandic and 1/4 Zulu" they'd have no problem understanding your racial makeup - it's just, as you say, a pretty long mouthful. It's unfortunate that we've stopped using such useful terms as "mulatto" in the US.

      P.S. Icelanders are an interesting racial fusion themselves - apparently, their Y chromosomes (the patrilineal line) are almost 100% Norwegian, while their mitochondrial DNA (matrilineal line) is almost 100% Celtic. And what do you know, this fits nicely with historical tales of Iceland having been founded by Norwegian explorers who stopped off in Ireland along the way to steal a wife.

      Delete
    4. I've asserted a starting point. The idea of Race exists, but we must not conflate folk ideas of the term with those used in science. With regard to the human species, the term 'race' has taken different permutations across time and space. The second is not applicable to the human species.

      If we now consider the papers you cite it is one thing to demonstrate that a very limited set of allele frequencies are distributed among geographic populations, but this itself does not support folk ideas of race nor does it support applying the scientific version onto the human species.

      To recap, I do not dispute the validity of the science you cite, I simply argue against your interpretation of those facts, which does not fall in line with scientific orthodoxy.

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    5. @Anonymous --

      I think your remark of (16 March 2014 13:35) is a response to my comment of (15 March 2014 13:28). However, your writing is opaque (e.g. "The idea of Race exists, but we must not conflate folk ideas of the term with those used in science."). If you would like a response, please state your point with greater clarity.

      If that comment was directed at somebody else, it might be helpful to alert them by name.

      Delete
    6. @pwyll

      1) Race exists as an idea.
      2) Do not conflate folk ideas of race with the technical term used by biologists.

      @AMac

      If you find the comment opaque than simply ignore it.

      Delete
  26. That jayman post is pretty batshit but the guy generally seems like a garbage can of HBD ideas; whatever an HBDer pukes out, it end up on J's blog and he creates some pretty maps to go with the subject. Certainly not the best (the generally awful) "HBD" has to offer, though. Same with hbdchick's theories on history (social and otherwise).

    HBD generally seems to be a bit weak on that subject, though Cochran fares better than most.

    Well, they're still young, give them time. I'm sure they'll come up with magna opera soon...

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  27. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:21

    West is right that many HBD proponents overstate their case and often treat hypotheses as settled issues. He’s also right that most HBD people know very little history, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, economics, or anything else besides biology. And what little they know is acquired through their interest in HBD topics.

    But HBD has a great core of empirical and speculative reasonableness which West nonetheless resists unreasonably, open-minded though he may be to partial genetic explanations of behaviour that apply to the entire human race.

    And that unreasonableness manifests itself in the double standard he applies to the HBD claims :

    > [HBD claims] are at best hypotheses that are forced to compete with better-established socio-cultural mechanisms

    But most sociocultural explanations preferred by West are also just as hypothetical as most HBD claims, and certainly no "better established", at least by the standards of modern social science.

    For example :

    >It's true that Chinese people were well adapted for living in civilized society. But this was cultural adaptation, not genetic. The burden of proof is on you, and the kind of vague ahistorical arguments typical of HBDers simply won't cut it. Correlation doesn't prove causation, and Chinese success in Southeast Asia is almost certainly to do with trade, not superior genetics

    “Chinese success in SE Asia is due to trade” is itself a hypothesis. And you cannot just point to some historical narrative starring Dampier and Chinese merchants and call it a day. The hypothesis is also very vague, with no mechanism specified. As best as I can tell the model seems to be : the Chinese had an ethnic network to trade with, within Southeast Asia and in China, and the benefits of trade accruing to merchants diffused even to descendants of illiterate labourers through community effects, like self-help organisations and community savings associations.

    The IQ argument, as applied to the case of Southeast Asian Chinese, is hypothetical, but not vague. It’s very specific. We can observe a partial but robust correlation between IQ and numerous social outcomes across the world, at the level of nations, at the level of regions, etc. You can dispute the direction of causation, but the argument is not vague.

    We know that ethnic minority diasporas tend to engage in trade amongst themselves, whether it be Armenians, Lebanese, Indians, Chinese, even Chechens outside Chechnya but within the former Soviet Union, or Gujaratis both within and without India. This is not vague.

    What’s vague is how the benefits of transnational but intra-ethnic trade flow to those who aren’t merchants. I’m not saying you cannot specify a mechanism for this, but it’s not self-evident because trade usually creates a highly unequal distribution of benefits. For example, affluent Hakka merchants tapped their global overseas network for investment capital for mining in Borneo, imported Hakka coolies from western Guandong and eastern Fujian to work them, and through the same overseas network located export markets. However, commodities and natural resources are not industries where labour typically get to keep a bulk of their “surplus value”, especially in the 19th century. It’s not clear what model can have Hakka miners in Borneo coming out of their economic arrangements better off than, say, miners in South America or southern Africa.

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  28. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:23

    One model that jumps to mind is that most Chinese tended to have unusually high savings rates even at the cost of immediate material deprivation. But this is a line of inquiry which invites a specific genetic hypothesis.

    Purely sociocultural explanations, however, rely on behaviour-imprinting. You can have nice stories about the culture of thrift, industry and abstemiousness being passed down from generation to generation. But this "model" is vague and inconsistent with evidence from behavioural genetics -- a branch of psychology, not biology, that relies on twin & sibling studies. Behavioural geneticists find no evidence -- I repeat and stress, basically zero evidence -- that personality traits are imprinted by parents onto their children. They do not dispute the reality of environmental effects, but the environment that does the influencing appears not to be familial.

    Self-selection is the most promising hypothetical alternative to IQ for explaining Chinese success in Southeast Asia. West even used this line of reasoning when he insisted to Pincher that the Chinese who went overseas, no matter how disadvantaged, were not a representative slice of China at any given historical era. That's almost certainly true.

    But you’d have to document the socioeconomic status of the original migrants. It’s historically attested that many illiterate coolies migrated to SE Asia. It's possible to argue that other Chinese settlers were fairly literate and this benefited later low-status migrants, but it's very vague. You may notice that neither Japan nor South Korea nor Taiwan much trusted in the magical free-market trickle-down effects of already-literate people in their midst, when those states imposed compulsory schooling for children.

    Self-selection also invites genetic speculation. Researchers routinely stop at establishing self-selection, without further inquiring whether there are identifiable genetic differences between groups more likely to emigrate and those less likely. If more industrious, more gratification-delaying subgroups tend to emigrate, these might show up as partial genetic differences. That is of course hypothetical, but in principle testable and also not vague at all.

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  29. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:24

    I think Pincher handled West's arguments about the Chinese in Southeast Asia very well. The real, outsized success of the Chinese in southeast Asia came after 1945 and was based on modern economic development. In the late 1940s, enough Chinese in British Malaya were poor enough that their poverty was cited as a major cause of the guerrilla insurgency during the "Malaya Emergency".

    All the same, Pincher didn't pursue West here :

    "The same is true of Portuguese migrants to Brazil and Spaniards in Mexico - a lot of poor and disadvantaged people in their homelands who nevertheless had significant advantages overseas, and who to this day form the overclass in their respective societies. This is primarily because of support, military assistance, capital, and technological innovations that they had access to due to their close connections with their ancestral homes over hundreds of years."
    How about Brazilians of Japanese descent ? I bring them up, rather than the Lebanese or the Germans, who also didn't have all the advantages of the Iberian overclass in Latin America. But West might counter they were white and were better treated. The Japanese who migrated to Brazil represented the surplus rural labour who could not be employed by Japan's expanding industries and ended up as the equivalent of coolies or indentured servants in Brazil's fazendas. There were no merchants or engineers amongst them. There was no overseas Japanese mercantile network. Their contact with the Japanese homeland was limited to nonexistent, unlike the case with the Chinese in Southeast Asia or the Europeans in Latin America. They were discriminated against and considered a low-prestige ethnicity until Japan itself became widely recognised as an economic superstar in the 1970s. Most were literate -- it's estimated Japan had a ~40% literacy rate at the end of the Tokugawa and perhaps 90% amongst the school-aged in 1880 -- but that alone can hardly explains how in three generations the Japanese became one of the most successful groups in Brazil.

    IQ suggests a much better explanation than anything else I can think of. If Japan and Southern Europe supplied migrants to Brazil from the bottom 20% of their income distribution, you would still expect the Japanese migrants to have a higher mean IQ than the migrants from the Mediterranean. This is a simple expectation from the probability distrubtion of IQ. But since there were a lot more migrants from the Mediterranean, there would be, in absolute numbers, more high-IQ people amongst white Brazilians than amongst Japanese-Brazilians. Thus, a potential explanation simultaneously for (a) the average income for Japanese-Brazilians that's in the top quintile of the income distribution ; and (b) the absence of Japanese surnames amongst the extremely rich Brazilians, the "overlords", the 1/10 of 1% of Brazilians who are mostly of Iberian, Italian, German and Lebanese origins.

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  30. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:45

    On the argument between West and Seth :

    West contrasts the linguistic concept of "language family" with the popular or social concept of "race", as opposed to the HBD concept of it. Seth takes many wrong turns in his argument but the basic comparison he makes between "language family" and "race" as used in HBD is apt : they both refer to phylogenetic classifications.  The HBD concept of race is not at all based on phenotype, visible or invisible, but on genotype.  Thus, not even the most crudely-arguing HBDer (and there are many many many of them) will classify Australian aborigines and West Africans in the same race even though they share many external features in common.  Actually not even late 19th century racial taxonomists did that.  Even they attempted to extrapolate phylogenetic trees through indices of physical features.

    The phylogenetic tree of language evolution is analogous (NOT coincident) with the phylogenetic tree of human populations, especially the tree based on non-recombinant uniparental lineages. Just as human population groups split into distinguishable descendant clades through mutual isolation and genetic drift, so languages also ramify through similar processes. Indo-Iranian, for example, split into Indic and Iranic through physical separation. They both started out as highly synthetic languages (as can be seen in Sanskrit and Old Persian), but eventually Indic and Iranic separately lost of much of their inflexional morphology and became much more analytic languages, but in different ways. Through standard areal effects, Indic acquired "local adaptations" and "local introgressions" (e.g., retroflex consonants and substrate vocabulary from Dravidian), whilst Iranic languages fell under different areal influences. Later, subclades of Indic even influenced subclades of Iranic, such as when several eastern Iranic languages like Pashto acquired retroflex consonants. This is analogous to when two distinct populations descended from a common ancestral group (such as humans and Neanderthals, for a very early example) partially mixed later. More recently, in historical times, Indic languages borrowed Semitic vocabulary via Persian. The Persian intermediation of the Semitic loans is obvious by the fact that Arabic-origin words in Indian languages are highly Persianised. This seems immediately analogous with the observation that the frequency of haplotype R1b is very high in Andalusians but some subclades of R1b are older than others and were therefore introduced at different times.

    The analogy only breaks down with people like Obama, who are products of two recent and very different ancestries. There's no analogue in languages quite like that. The grammars of most languages are usually organic evolutions from their ancestors, so there are no true "admixtures" in languages. Creoles and pidgins are not true hybrids like Obama, because they have brand new grammars plus a vocabulary that's borrowed primarily from one language and smaller borrowings from diverse languages.

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  31. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:50

    Personally I find the arguments about how many racial clusters there are and whether they are "real" in some sense useless.  What is NOT useless is a statement such as "the mean IQ of Americans self-identified as black is 1 standard deviation below that of Americans self-identified as white".  In ancestry self-identified American blacks are on average predominantly West African and approximately 20% Northern European.  You could then examine the variation amongst "blacks" of that admixture ratio and see what sort of covariation there is with the IQ variation amongst "blacks". That would be informative about the genetic and environmental components of the IQ variation between American blacks and West Africans.  Right now, people mostly use the rule of thumb that better the environment the bigger the genetic component of the IQ variation, and infer that the IQ difference between American blacks and African blacks is largely environmental. But we could get more fine-grained information by measuring the correlation between ancestral admixture ratio and IQ.

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  32. pseudoerasmus15 March 2014 18:55

    "Of course it's reasonable to suppose that natural selection continues to operate on human beings and has always done so, and that this must have some effects in human history. But when we look at individual cases, do we actually see this? I don't think so. When you look at actual human societies and actual human history, you can see that most cultural changes are not compelled by genetic changes and that cultural change can be independent of genetic change."

    Yes, obviously, cultural change can happen without genetic change. But, at the same time, I don’t see how you can “see that most cultural changes are not compelled by genetic changes” just by positing plausible sociocultural explanations for historical phenomena.

    You definitively falsify a genetic hypothesis about a group difference in behaviour by finding no genetic difference (at relevant loci) between the groups which correlates with the behavioural difference between the groups.

    > Europe was just as nepotistic as anywhere in the world until very recently

    Has anyone quantified the degree to which Europe was “just as nepotistic as anywhere in the world until very recently” ? Or is it merely an ethnographic or historiographic claim ?

    > Europe was just as nepotistic as anywhere in the world until very recently, when strong states, industrialisation, and increasing living standards made it easier to punish nepotism and less advantageous to pursue it. Industrialisation removed the reliance on kin for basic necessities and enabled a great deal of new-found freedom at every level of society. It meant that it wasn't and isn't necessary to know all of one's relatives, removing the pressure to act in ways that privileged them.

    Your argument that economic & political development induces less nepotism is plausible, but does not really square with variations in social capital within developed countries. For example, social capital researchers consider the number and size of voluntary organisations (such as businesses or civic associations) an indicator of social trust. If the voluntary organisations tend to be disproportionately family businesses, even large ones, that's another indicator of social capital. And even within rich countries there is considerable variation in that particular metric. An industrial structure that's more biased toward family ownership might be interpreted as a "privatisation of nepotism".

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  33. Mr Kim says:
    Oyo, Benin, Ashanti, etc. -- absolutely nobody can call these "civilizations" by any stretch of the imagination.

    You mean by YOUR stretch of the facts, coupled with YOUR distinct lack of knowledge, delivered with (a rather dubious) air of messianic certainty.


    Ife-Ife counts as a "city", only if you also count shanty-towns in northern India as "cities", or the Anasazi dwellings in the American southwest

    Actually Ife-Ife had most of the fundamentals that many scholars use to define cities: agglomeration based on non-agricultural functions in a limited space and collection of agricultural surpluses from a larger rural zone into that space, higher population densities within the primarily non-agricultural space, economies based on trade or non-agricultural production within the space, specialization of functions within the agglomeration - from trade, to production, to religious and cultural specialists sustained by that urban grouping, specific land use patterns within the agglomeration- admin, religious, trade, production etc, use of and recognition of the agglomeration as a center for important religious or administrative tasks, and so on. You simply have no idea what you are talking about.


    Virtually nobody from the Asante to the Yoruba was literate before European colonial rule. That means absolutely no science, no engineering, and a rudimentary economy based on barter and exchange.

    Laughable nonsense. Actually a distinct set of the Yoruba acquired literacy through Islamic contacts as early as the 16th century, (Abubakre and Reichmuth 1997)). Literacy in Africa goes back thousands of years by the way- from Kemet in the Nile Valley, to Ethiopia, to the Nilotic Sudan, to the empires of West Africa centuries before colonialism via Islamic contacts, just as Europe acquired literacy via contact with the sub-tropical Middle East in various eras, acquiring things like the Christian religion from that non-European source as well. And the use of monetary instruments in Africa is well documented centuries before European colonialism. The Empire of Mali circa the 1200s -1300s used both coinage and gold dust, and monetary instruments like cowries are noted in West Africa by Islamic sources in the 13th century. (David Conrad 2009. Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay). As usual with sweeping HBD pronouncements, you don't know what you are talking about, and substitute pompous certainty for actual fact.


    Barring giant earthworks such as Songbo's eredo (which meander off in random directions,
    lol.. laughable.. Actually the world's most extensive earthwork is not in your mystical "Songbo" but in the city enclosure of Benin which does not "meander" but is set to a quite well defined area.

    and do not even resemble a crude facsimile of the high degree of sophistication necessary to build the Great Pyramids, let alone Stonehenge
    lol.. You do realize that the great Pyramids were built by indigenous Africans don't you, or that megaliths appear in Africa's Sahara cebturies before they do at Stonehenge? (Wendorf 1999, Brophy 2010) But wait, perchance they appear due to HBD space aliens with "the "high degree of sophistication necessary"? :)


    [b] but it is not an exaggeration by any stretch of the imagination to claim [/b]
    You are right.. it is not an exaggeration of any stretch of the imagination to expose your ignorance of even the most elementary history or anthropology.


    Nearly all of east Asia was dirt poor upon the eve of colonialism in Africa

    Wrong as usual. Actually nearly all of East Asia was not "dirt poor"- most of it, which would be China, in terms of population, area ruled etc, actually had the highest economic output in the world until the early 1800s. (Sowell 1993). Hell is this all you people got? Send in JP Rushton!

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  34. pseudoerasmus says:

    But HBD has a great core of empirical and speculative reasonableness which West nonetheless resists unreasonably, open-minded though he may be to partial genetic explanations of behaviour that apply to the entire human race.

    Not at all. West is actually quite reasonable in questioning many of the false claims, disortions and weak models of HBD as documented by numerous scholars. Indeed, "speculative reasonableness" is all too often substituted for credible evidence or strong logic as those scholars repeatedly document.
    http://egyptsearchreloaded.proboards.com/thread/1599/hbd-heriditarian-claims-critiqued


    And that unreasonableness manifests itself in the double standard he applies to the HBD claims :
    But most sociocultural explanations preferred by West are also just as hypothetical as most HBD claims, and certainly no "better established", at least by the standards of modern social science.


    Actually several are better established, much better than the claims of HBD. Nor does West rely merely on "sociocultural explanations." It is not merely the bogus strawman of HBD genetic models versus the social models of "political correctness", but a question of weak or sloppy HBD science. For example, are there "tempermental" differences between races due to JP Rushton''s "evolutionary" r/k selection approach? Credible scholars debunk such notions using hard data, on scientific grounds, not merely "social" explanations.

    Scott MacEachern. 2006. Africanist archaeology and ancient IQ: racial science and cultural evolution in the twenty-first century. World Archaeology. (2006). Vol. 38(1): 72-92 Race, Racism and Archaeology
    https://www.academia.edu/831916/Africanist_archaeology_and_ancient_IQ_racial_science_and_cultural_evolution_in_the_twenty-first_century
    --------------------------

    West thus has more than enough reason to be "unreasonable" given large weaknesses and distortions in HBD claims, and some dubious HBD scholarship, "unreasonableness" shared by credible scientists in the field.

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  35. West says:
    Here's a big problem for HBD-ers to resolve. For thousands of years, western European societies were full of superstition, religion, religious bigotry, and religious (and other) violence. To be a heretic, or to agree with heresies or heretics, was sufficient cause for arrest and brutal murder, meaning that religious belief and religious orthodoxy were actively selected for. To disagree with the imposition of the death sentence for a heretic, to seem unorthodox, to not rejoice at the discovery and burning of witches - all of these could lead to execution. This went on for hundreds of years, was extremely widespread, and was strongly selected for. This is the kind of selection that, if such things were possible, would certainly lead to higher levels of superstition or religious hatred encoded at some genetic level.

    Indeed. And HBDers are always trying to pin behavior on some sort of genetically determined influence- as long as the behavior highlighted does stray from presenting their favorite golden boys- northern Europeans- in a good light. If as you say widespread violence, bigotry etc was "selected for," then, per HBD models, this would indicate that there is a genetic basis for northern European mass murder, genocide, brutal suppression of dissent (those pesky unorthodox witches for example) and vicious totalitarianism, as created in the West, and perfected by pale "role models" further East under comrade Stalin. But you never hear HBDers follow their line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. Its when convenient black or "other" scapegoats can be bashed and tabbed with "genetic deficiencies" linked to "behavior," well that's OK then- what else can be expected due to the genetic determiners that drive "those people"?

    West says:
    Western Europe nowadays, of course, is one of the least religious, least violent, and least superstitious places on the planet.
    That's only in recent years. Just a few decades ago said western "role models" were mass murdering tens of millions of "uttermensch" in such places as Dachau. Many of them are paragons of the high IQ beloved by HBDers.

    West says:
    Genetic variation is absolutely fuck all compared to that.
    But all the variables you list are too complex for some HBDers to grasp. See, many hold to the primacy of a genetic basis, so such other complex factors as you mention, must be due to dastardly "political correctness" on your part.

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  36. The first quintessencial error of your text above is '' human history is not have genetic influence''. Sorry by this, but, is tremendous obvious that ''human history'' and any action of human beings or beings (simply) are connected with your genes. Is not only the polygenic and complex personality or intelligence genes but, the genes that make us walking, thinking, breathe and other essencial ''traits''. Life is a gene. So, your (common sense today) conclusion about it is very wrong and beggin early.
    Other misconceptions commited here, the idea that '' the opositions aren't possible to live together''. Well, the fact the events make the human history do not mean that ''genetics is not make or co-participate''. As i said above, humans since their more essencial actions everyday, every hour, every minute, live caused of their genes.
    Yes, events, natural, caused by beings or human beings to be in different categories. Natural events are caused by complex alleatory dynamic. Beings cause NON-alleatory events and human beings even less. The desire made the human history and yes, this desire related by intelligence levels and personality types that when are well combined produce the genius. I'm little sceptic about iq, i dislike very well when i read a debate '' my iq is 126, and you?? Oo, my iq is 124''. This is a little ridiculous because nobody IS a number, because the life is fluid, but this not mean that is not possible that we, beings can be 'mathematized' but not only by a only number, if like i think, life imitate the universe.
    I live in a country with the bigger subsaharians out of Africa and i can to say, blacks are less smart than whites. I agree that majority of the whites, it include my parents, are not SOO divine different than blacks, but specially when are talk about ''technical specificities'', yes, they are more able to get money, live functionally well and not commit crimes. I don't know if you already live with many blacks, i live every day and i don't need this hbd stuff to conclude myself that blacks, on average, are less smart than whites, asians and mixed race. I don't need of science to prove the reality. I know few marvellous black people, specially older black women, but this not prove anything about the difference of intelect among human RACES, yes, there a exceptions, but exception not prove the majority.
    Proto civilizations in subsaharian africa happens when the righ person is in right place, when good and smart people are in government or making culture, don't worry, be happy. Unfortunatelly to subsaharians, the psychopath dumb (i'm not talk about some europeans) take your civilizations before that it could flourish...

    Gottlieb

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  37. ...About ''cousins marriage and the born of the western or modern civilization''. If you don't believe that genes can be some effect in human behavior, in other words, in outset of this stuff ''nature and nurture'', so, you will not believe this possibility.
    I read your text and really not seen nothing different to today mainstream leftist. Detail, i'm not a conservative, absolutely not.
    There a genes that enable you to talk, enable you to learn tongues and more, i'm very well to learn foreigner languages without my ''mother tongue accent'', i can talk like you, a englishman, even when i'm not a good english-speaker (like a mexican immigrant who you do like). I'm also a stutter, interesting because i'm also very good to interpret, i could be a good actor. If there a mute people, so, should there a genes when are absent prevent people to talk, after all, these people still have all their phonetic unit. When you reject the genes, you're rejecting that life exists or that we are like robots and more robots are inert and are completely dependent on random actions, like the rocks on the ground. We need a divine wind that make us feel. When speaking of life, undoubtedly you're talking about genetics.
    You put ''eat'' with ''see television'' to explain that ''no there a genes to''. Think guy, your sentence ''NO THERE A GENE'' is wrong (my sentence is grammatically wrong,lol), there a gene and if there a gene, so this genes could be ''combined'' to eat meat or not.
    When i think about stop to eat meat, my brain OBVIOUS (dur) to be thinking like that, even if i accept (in fantasy) your neutral scenario about ''not have specific genes about intelligence'' or ''intelligence is sooooo complex'' (i already say this, lol, many times), you should accept the fact that ''brains have genes'' (not ''''inteligence'''') and brain are very influenced by your genes. So, if i turn myself a vegetarian boy, will be by my desire and my brain and...
    complete please, my, my... geeeeenes.....

    Gottlieb

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  38. ''In a very important sense, culture is determined by history, and rarely by genes.''

    We have a new name to GOD, called ''History''. History is a human construction like culture, culture is tradition and history. OBVIOUS that humans are not rocks and participate activelly to make your history. Without humans, no cultures, humans have genes, genes turn the life enable, IS a life (life is a combination of active genes). Yes, events could be uncertain and generally, they are.. but this prove that ''genes not create cultures''? no.

    If a ''biological human diversity'' is sooooooooooo complex like 'this', explain us and not finish your phrase without a continuation of you thought.

    About proto subsaharian civilizations, continuous civilization is geographically known by '' ''landscape completely affected by human actions''. European and middle easternes change anthropomorfically your ancestral landscapes like nobody one. Is very interesting that ''is absolutely enable to find pre-historic tools and human vestigious in Black Africa but not in Rome city geology''. The anthropormofic era could to be observed in any european capital or asian capital, less in ''african'' (european colonial) cities. Sorry. Yes, a 'long long' time, some proto civilizations appeared in subsaharian region but, please, do not forget to talk about the presence of islamic civilization above and in the border of the Subsaharian Africa and their very possible considerable influences. I'm not talking ''subsaharians are not able to make a civilization'', because there some subgroup of higher smart ones who are able, but, is very well possible that muslins could help to for example, build excelent minarets, yes, minarets.
    You need out of your bubble, bubble burst.

    Gottlieb
    ((Please, if you desire bully me, don't use the tatic ''oooo boy, your english is very poor''
    To be creative.))
    Cheers

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  39. Pincher Martin says:
    Environmental factors don't explain the consistent success of the overseas Chinese in SE Asia; genetic factors, however, do.
    But you have provided little credible on the supposed "genetic factors" explaining the success of the overseas Chinese. What might such factors be? What alleles? What haplogroups? In fact, West is perfectly right in questioning your "genetic" claims, for overseas Chinese fall into the pattern of many other "Middleman minorities" - tightly knit ethnic middlemen, or intermediately positioned groups, who carved out economic niches amidst sometimes hostile or lukewarm majorities. Chinese are nothing special in this regard, nor are Jews. As Sowell 2004 shows, Gujarats from India, Igbo in Nigeria, even black Caribbean immigrants in the urban US (sometimes disparagingly dubbed "Jew-maican"- by the natives for their hard-nosed approach)- all of these have seen substantial success, including higher levels of income and education. Third generation Caribbean background immigrants for example surpass the white average in income and education (Sowell- "Markets and Minorities"). In short, the data on socioeconomic and cultural factors as the conservative Sowell shows in detail. is much more compelling that the much touted, rather shaky, even mystical "genetic factors" so beloved of HBDers.

    This does not mean there are no genetics at work, but HBDers need to credibly show how the much touted "genetic factors" count, in comparison to the well documented, cross-cultural, cross-continental, cross-racial data on middleman or middle positioned minorities.

    Pincher Martin says:
    So this Chinese advantage in the region did not come from an initial starting point in literacy.
    Actually the Chinese possessed substantial literacy advantages when they first arrived as immigrants to such areas as Malaysia, Burma or the Philippines (Sowell 1981), advantages in literacy and organization for urban and intensive commercial agriculture over the native peoples. Bali is another such area, as West already mentioned. Trade too West mentioned and he is right- Chinese advantages in literacy, use of more precise monetary instruments, closely knit ethnic networks that lowered the cost of trade transactions etc etc, all translated into enduring advantages in trade. Thomas Sowell has long showed the importance of such factors noted by West.

    You have to account for all the general conditions, and those conditions show that the Chinese didn't need to be traders, scholars, or have an economic relationship with China to succeed.
    Actually the Chinese ABSOLUTELY needed to be " traders, scholars, or have an economic relationship with China" or they would have stared to death. What? You think they could just sit around SE Asia congratulating themselves on how co much cooler genetics made them than the natives?

    What's more, many of the overseas Chinese in SE Asia have lived in near constant fear of their wealth and property being confiscated. It's not as if they bought a four-hundred-year stock in 1600 and then ended by owning up to two-thirds of the wealth in those countries by 2000 because they wisely collected and reinvested their dividends.
    So totally cool! But who says this has anything to do with "genetics"? Almost all middle positioned minorities or sojourning types save more strenuously on the average than native populations.

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  40. The Gael said:
    You only need to look at Rushtons errors about r/K selection among tropical hunter foragers or his view that the evolution of HBD was mostly a Pleistocene affair, to see that HBD research is not always good science itself.

    Indeed, and more than Rushton.


    Pincher Martin says:
    Cochran is a theoretician. He gets most of his ideas by thoroughly understanding general principles about evolution, medicine, and population genetics that he feels are often neglected by most scientists. So he starts off big and then goes small to find ways to test his ideas. That's perfectly acceptable science.
    Only when backed by credible data. That's one of the weaknesses of Cochran and Harpending- they present fragmentary data then jump from there to thought experiments, or vice versa- using fragmentary data to bolster a shaky structure of thought experiments. That's not good science. Their speculative approach gives them an out of course- "plausible denial" if you will. They could say- they are only speculating- fair enough. But a host of HBD "true believers" have jumped on such sometimes shaky ground with "evangelical" intensity, and the authors have embraced the HBD community willingly, even mentioning them in detail in their book, and on the web.

    Pincher Martin says:
    For example, in their book Cochran and Harpending considered it unlikely that Neanderthals and AMHs could live in close proximity for such a long period of time and not interbreed and that there should be genetic evidence for this in the modern human genome. This insight was driven by an understanding of general principles, not by conducting small-bore science projects until they built up into a general idea. And their hypothesis was eventually confirmed.
    Actually their hypothesis is not confirmed at all. A number of credible scientists show quite different results. The authors proffer little evidence of Neanderthal-human intermixing besides the claim by multi-regionalist M. Wolpoff 2001, clearly noting however that claims of such mixing are in dispute among scientists. Other more up to date studies show little evidence of admixture, tracing seeming similarities in gene patterns to descent from a common hominid ancestor, not Neanderthals (See 3 current studies debunking the "confirmed" notion:
    --Ghirotto, et al 2011. No evidence of Neandertal admixture..;
    --Gokcumen et al 2012. Balancing Selection on a Regulatory Region...;
    --Eriksson and Manica (2012) Effect of ancient population structure...).

    So not only is the admixture scenario still doubtful, but even if there were admixture it is in trivial amounts (they cite Stringer to just this effect as to rarity) -hardly a sterling basis for any “spark of civilization” brought about by the alleged “admixture.”

    Cochran once believed that AMH/Neanderthal interbreeding might have created the equivalent of a cognitive big bang, but he's become increasingly skeptical of such a possibility as more evidence has come out.
    He repeats the suggestion in the book. To now say he is "increasingly skeptical" is all well and good, but plenty of contrary data was already on tap before the time of publication that should have led to a rather more cautious set of claims. Perhaps some HBD "evangelists" may have taken things beyond what the authors intended, but again, they fulsomely embrace HBD in their book introduction/preface.

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  41. Research Data,
    there poor people who are smart (trust me), education is not a marker of the intelligence, is one of the results this. When i say ''chinese, on average in a non-selected population is more technically smart than thais'' i don't compare subjective and historical- contextual factors like education. I question myself how the pre historic men can live and survive without a book?????
    Yes, there many environmental factors like i said about ''proto african subsaharian civilizations'', when stupid and psychopathic people run a country don't wait a better government. I believe that ''worst government'' made by dumb rulers is one of the most important factor that create social disharmony (when the stupid people have more rights than smart people or when the contacts and strong hierarchical castes prevent smart and good but poor people to occupy your natural place in a society).
    Yes, humans are made by genes, in all of our body, ''some'' genes be concentrated in brains and part of the logical assumption that, ''there a genes in a brain regions'' and are responsible to connect the brain functioning.
    Finally, yes, there a many subjective factors that create unequal social landscapes but it is not a argument against ''genetic factors''. Is early to conclude '' we are not have, by now, collected, sufficient and complete data to prove by ''a + b'' that genes are directly responsible to X or Y behavior and therefore this mean something that disprove all about ''genetic factors''. But, like i said, life is made by genes, you need to be very stupid to deny this essencial true about ourselves.
    When i conclude my thought with these sentence is not more necessary to continue with this debate because you be deny the own life when deny the genetic influence.
    When i see television, all of my genes are working to see, hear, thinking about that and some of my genes ''push'' myself to see educative or intelectual tv shows. My genes to be in control of my desire and not ''genes control us'' like i think who you should to be thinking. There a free will but not ''infinite free will''. You can fly?

    Gottlieb

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  42. Research Data says:
    "This does not mean there are no genetics at work, but HBDers need to credibly show how the much touted "genetic factors" count, in comparison to the well documented, cross-cultural, cross-continental, cross-racial data on middleman or middle positioned minorities."

    Ok, so you're saying that we can't prove every biochemical basis for behaviour. But then you use phrases such as :

    "Chinese fall into the pattern of many other "Middleman minorities" - tightly knit ethnic middlemen, or intermediately positioned groups, who carved out economic niches amidst sometimes hostile or lukewarm majorities"

    so my question is, what do you think a 'tightly knit ethnic ... group" is? could a sports club be described as such or would it be only a tightly knit group? what difference could the 'ethnic' bit make? could it be, sharing not just showers but also sharing biochemistry? and could that shared biochemistry change over generations and become even more suited/suitable for whatever it is that the group is involved in?

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  43. pseudoerasmus22 March 2014 18:15

    304 bn
    7.38mn

    twin & adoption studies
    though, for sure, most of these studies are restricted to middle-class families in developed societies and may not apply to cases of extreme deprivation as you might find in developing countries. (Korean adoptees)

    "Actually several are better established, much better than the claims of HBD. "

    Which "sociocultural" explanations competing with HBD explanations of an inequality or disparity between population groups, are "better established" ?

    "for overseas Chinese fall into the pattern of many other "Middleman minorities" - tightly knit ethnic middlemen, or intermediately positioned groups, who carved out economic niches amidst sometimes hostile or lukewarm majorities. Chinese are nothing special in this regard, nor are Jews. As Sowell 2004 shows, Gujarats from India, Igbo in Nigeria, even black Caribbean immigrants in the urban US…- all of these have seen substantial success, including higher levels of income and education. Third generation Caribbean background immigrants for example surpass the white average in income and education (Sowell- "Markets and Minorities")."

    Earlier I did make reference to the ethnic diaspora minorities, but let's call them "middle man minorities" (MMM). In almost every case, the MMMs are richer than their homeland co-ethnics. Armenians abroad are richer than Armenians in Armenia, and the same relationships hold for Lebanese. Self-selection is an excellent candidate for explaining these MMMs.

    But since Chinese and South Asians have much bigger populations than these little nationalities, they offer a bigger sample size and a greater variation within the diaspora.

    South Asians are numerous as important minority communities in many countries around the world : in the UK, in North America, in the West Indies, South Africa, East Africa (only formerly in the case of Uganda), insular Africa (Mauritius, Reunion), Australia, Fiji, Malaysia, etc. In some of these countries, the South Asian average income is greater than the national average ; in others, it's lower. In North America, Indians (even first-generation) are richer than Americans of European descent and I believe that is the case even with Pakistanis. In the UK, that's not so and in the case of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis their income is lower than the British average. In other parts of the world, South Asians are much richer than the natives (e.g., Fiji) or the African descendants (the Caribbean and the Indian ocean states), but often not the whites (South Africa) or the Chinese (Malaysia and Singapore). The variation in economic performance almost certainly has something to do with the source ethnicity of these South Asian populations. Generally, South Asia income outside North America is roughly intermediate between the poor countries and the rich countries.

    The variation in the world's Chinese communities, however, is much much smaller. Take Malaysia, which has over 7 million Chinese who, by conventional estimates, account for some 60% of the country's GDP. That implies, Malaysian Chinese income per capita is approximately the same as Sweden's. In fact, all Chinese communities around the world approximate western European income levels, except in China itself. And even within China the coastal provinces (plus Inner Mongolia) are rapidly converging with European levels of income.

    Self-selection can potentially explain both the large variation amongst South Asian communities and the smaller variation amongst the Chinese, but the micro-level documentation hasn't been done. Also as I said earlier, "self-selection" simply pushes the chain of explanations back, because there might be genetic differences between those self-selective migrants and the stay-at-homes.

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  44. pseudoerasmus22 March 2014 18:27

    The previous post was too long and my comment about twin & adoption studies got truncated.

    I simply wanted to ask Research Data, what about the large body of twin & adoption studies done by behavioural geneticists which show that variations in familial environment cannot explain variations in a whole set of characteristics, such as income, intelligence, and personality traits, and in fact imply shockingly large roles for heredity ? So if you assert positive externalities to membership in "middleman minorities", how do their cultural traits get passed on from generation to generation ? You demand that HBD advocates spell out the biochemical mechanisms behind their assertions. But what are the precise social mechanisms behind sociocultural explanations ? Cultural transmission via the residual "non-shared environment", the factor that is neither heredity nor familial environment which remains undefined ? That's as vague as any HBD explanation.

    I also argued earlier that there isn't a mechanism spelt out for "trade" as an explanation, either.

    For sure, most of the twin & adoption studies are restricted to middle-class families in developed societies and may not apply to cases of extreme deprivation as you might find in developing countries. But there are studies of Korean adoptees in the 1950s and 1960s which fit that bill.

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  45. pseudoerasmus22 March 2014 18:30

    "Actually the Chinese possessed substantial literacy advantages when they first arrived as immigrants to such areas as Malaysia, Burma or the Philippines (Sowell 1981), advantages in literacy and organization for urban and intensive commercial agriculture over the native peoples "

    This is plausible for the relatively small communities in Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia, but not for Malaysia whose Chinese constitute 25% of the total.

    Sowell on Malaysia :

    "British-ruled Malaya was just one of the countries in Southeast Asia to which vast numbers of immigrants from China moved during the era of European imperialism.' These Chinese immigrants were typically poor and illiterate, and so started at the bottom, working in hard, dirty, and menial tasks that the indigenous peoples of the region largely disdained. In British-ruled Malaya, the Chinese provided much of the labor of field hands working on rubber plantations, while people from India predominated among the miners working in the country's tin mines, as Malaya became and remained for many years the world's leading producer of these two products. The capital and management for these enterprises were supplied by Westerners, while the labor was supplied by the Chinese and Indians, leaving little role for the Malays in the development of their own country's modern sectors. However, the Malays owned land and thus many were in a position to spurn the lowly and arduous jobs filled by the poverty-stricken Chinese and Indian immigrants. Where some Malays did work alongside the Chinese on rubber plantations, their output per worker was less than half that of the Chinese.' As the inflow of immigrants from China continued over the years and generations, the Chinese population of the Malay states rose from an estimated 1oo,ooo in 1881 to more than a million just 50 years later.' By 1941, the Chinese out-numbered the Malays in British Malaya.8 Although the Chinese began at the bottom economically, their frugality enabled them to begin to move out of the ranks of laborers by setting up small businesses, usually tiny retail shops. While more than half of all the Chinese in Malaya in 19 1 1 were laborers, either in agriculture or in the mines, just twenty years later only 11 percent were still in those occupations.`' ...

    …The frugal Chinese lifestyle, for example, was very different from that of the Malays, who were known for free spending and for going into debt for the sake of social celebrations.L' Population growth rates and infant mortality rates among the Chinese were both roughly half of these rates among the bumiputeras…

    Over the years and generations, the Chinese built up businesses across Malaya, creating whole new industries in the process. In addition to innumerable small retail establishments, the Chinese also went into some larger ventures. For example, by 1920 Chinese-owned mines produced nearly two-thirds of the tin in Malaya, though Europeans later overtook them in tin production.'2 Retail trade, however, continued to be dominated by the Chinese, who eventually came to own 85 percent of all retail outlets in the country.13 Although the Chinese had begun in Malaya much poorer than the Malays, their incomes rose over the years until they were earning more than double the average income of the Malays. Most of the capital invested in the country was owned by foreigners but, among the domestically owned corporate equity, most was owned by the Chinese."

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  46. pseudoerasmus23 March 2014 00:54

    "Chinese are nothing special in this regard, nor are Jews. As Sowell 2004 shows, Gujarats from India, Igbo in Nigeria, even black Caribbean immigrants in the urban US (sometimes disparagingly dubbed "Jew-maican"- by the natives for their hard-nosed approach)- all of these have seen substantial success, including higher levels of income and education. Third generation Caribbean background immigrants for example surpass the white average in income and education (Sowell- "Markets and Minorities")."

    First, Ashkenazi Jews are totally different from all the other groups listed, in the sense that there is no original population of which one can say they are a self-selected higher-achieving subgroup. Ashkenazi Jews everywhere are higher-achieving and higher-IQ than the local average. Everywhere.

    Second, on black immigrants in the USA, here are some data taken from this : income and education. As you can see, there's nothing special about black Caribbean immigrants. Black Africans, however, tend to have been better educated than native-born African-Americans or Afro-Caribbean immigrants.

    Third, the very high-achieving Gujaratis outside Gujarat are clearly a self-selected group. Per capita income in Gujarat is ~110% of the Indian average, which is not that extraordinary considering that 7-8 states have higher average incomes and a couple of them more than double the Indian average.

    Fourth, the Chinese also stand apart from this group of high-achieving ethnic diaspora groups, for reasons already stated. Everywhere outside China do the Chinese have high average income, comparable with rich country averages. But doesn't that make the Chinese outside the PRC just like the Gujaratis, a self-selected group ? Arguing this is tantamount to saying in spite of all the rapid growth you do not believe China's GDP per capita will ever converge with that of North America, Western Europe, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. But what if PRC income does converge, while the income of Lebanon or India or Nigeria or other countries which produce lots of self-selected high-achieving migrants doesn't ?

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  47. I haven't had the time to carry on with the discussion here, which is a shame. However, I will add a few summary points briefly:

    I. I don't think cultural changes generally, let alone necessarily, require genetic changes. They very seldom do, and I have written an additional post about this claim.

    II. I don't think Ashkenazi Jews' success may primarily be explained by genetics. Being put in the position of only being able to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability is a good explanation of the ability to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability - parents are good at passing on abilities without genes being involved, and I find the Eckstein and Botticini case persuasive. Similarly, as pseudoerasmus has pointed out, the Cochran and Harpending case rests on multiple assumptions that have no independent justification.

    III. I spend most of my time reading about Indonesia, and in early accounts of Indonesia, Chinese people appear as traders and business owners, with manual labour performed by Malays and other native Indonesians. They appear so frequently in this role (see e.g. Wallace, Forbes, Dampier, or any number of other accounts of early Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and so on) that I find claims to the contrary a bit odd. If you look at the evidence we have of early times in the region, we see a pattern of Chinese behaviour rather different to the myth of illiterate miners. Indonesia and Malaysia are not worlds apart, and there is little need to see these groups as separate or to see Malaysian Chinese people as a totally separate population who independently developed business acumen. I also see it as entirely realistic to see cultural traits common to Chinese society as behind Chinese success, such that while Chinese people in SE Asia did indeed carry with them traits necessary for success in business and politics, those traits didn't come directly from their genes.

    IIIa. I only find it a little surprising that Arabs do not have a more prominent place in SE Asia, given their ubiquity as traders - but it seems that both Dutch and British colonial powers severely limited (and closely monitored) the activities of Arab traders, resulting on their smaller and less powerful place in later SE Asian societies.

    IV. I am not convinced that IQ is a good means of understanding human capabilities in the round, and 'cultural achievements' do not seem to depend on IQ in any direct way, if we think of those in terms of literacy, abundant food, monumental or elegant architecture, and so on. Moreover, lower scores among certain populations have more reasonable explanations in terms of literacy, level of education, health, and much else - factors which surely affect a person's ability to perform well on a test.

    I took the GRE twice (I had considered applying to graduate school in the US, but thought better of it [takes too long there]). The first time, I was sick - very sick, actually. I couldn't change the date of the thing, and I had prepared, but when I took the test I definitely didn't do as well as I could have. I didn't do appallingly badly, but I didn't do excellently. When I took it again, in much better shape, I did very well indeed, especially on the verbal sections (either 100% or close to it) and significantly better on the mathematics.

    Apparently, it's a test that measures your general abilities, not knowledge. Well, it isn't, and I'm sure we all know that - but the point is that such tests depend on too many factors that differ between populations and don't depend on genes.

    There is much more to human flourishing than genetics.

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  48. V. I fully accept that human cultures have limits that are based on human phylogenetic inheritance and that there is indeed such a thing as 'human nature'. It is certain that there is variation in what particular features humans inherit and there is no single unitary 'human genome'. However, I don't think spans of hundreds of years are sufficient to create significant selective pressures on human beings, whose generations are measured in decades and not months.

    Think of an arrow shot from a bow. The arrow's flight is affected by winds blowing around it as it flies, and those will affect where it lands. But far more important than the winds is the power and direction of the bow, especially if the winds aren't especially powerful or consistent.

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  49. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 02:17

    Let us dispense with this business about Chinese traders and merchants in Malaya. There is little hard information about the Chinese in Southeast Asia during the 19th century. But here are some of the social & economic characteristics of the Chinese and the Malays in the Federation of Malaysia in 1957 -- when the country still included Singapore.

    In 1957, the mean income of Chinese in Malaysia was approximately 2.1 times that of Malays. The average Malay of 1957 nonetheless earned twice as much as the average Pakistani, PRC Chinese, Indian, Tanzanian, or Malian, and approximately the same as a Tunisian, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Taiwanese or a Haitian in the same year.

    Chinese Malaysian income in 1957 was comparable to Jordan, Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Guatemala, but a third less than Cuba, Mexico and Peru.

    In other words, the Malaysian Chinese may have done alright by Malaysian standards but relative to the world they were a just little below the Third World median.

    The Malaysian labour force in 1957 counted 2,140,000 workers. Of this number 1,010,000 were Malays and 764,000 were Chinese (with the remainder being mostly Indians). Out of the 764,000 Chinese work force, 310,000 were agricultural labourers and 202,000 were industrial labourers. How many might be described as merchants and businessmen ? 65,000 or ~8.5% of the Malaysian Chinese population.

    Clearly, as of 1957, the year of the Federation's indepedence, the overall Chinese advantage relative to Malays was founded on not being merchants, but on being disprortionately urban workers rather than rural ones. But even then a substantial number of Chinese workers laboured in the countryside -- approx. 40% of them.

    (The raw data on income & employment for Malaysia come from Ikemoto, "Income Distribution in Malaysia: 1957-80", The Journal of Developing Economies, December 1985.)

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  50. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 02:44

    >Being put in the position of only being able to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability is a good explanation of the ability to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability - parents are good at passing on abilities without genes being involved

    It's exactly the opposite !!!

    Barring extreme situations such as child abuse or malnutrition, parents influence children only through their genes, not through socialisation or the family environments they consciously control.

    Behavioural genetics does not support the commonsensical or folkloric wisdom that parents have any influence on their children's adult outcomes via any mechanism other than genes. I repeat, parents have approximately zero effect on their children's long-run (i.e., as adults) intelligence, personality, temperament, and other psychological traits. (Likewise with many health & physical traits often thought to be within non-genetic parental control to some extent, such as weight and logevity.)

    Behavioural geneticists come to this conclusion by studying adoptees as well as twins separated at birth. They find, siblings who are similar, are similar only because of the genes they share, not at all because of the familial environment they may have shared. In fact, identical twins raised in the same family are no more like each other in intelligence and personality traits than identical twins separated at birth and raised apart.

    Specifically on intelligence (as measured by IQ), studies of identical twins separated at birth find that the correlation between the IQ scores of identical twins reared apart is on the order of 0.9.

    The "environmental" part of a child's socialisation is not denied. But behavioural geneticists find no evidence that the environment that socialises a child is the familial one that's within the conscious control of parents. And no one knows what this "miscellaneous" or "nonshared" environment" really is.

    I thought West has read Pinker's The Blank Slate ? His chapter 19 has a good summary of the results. Suffice it to note, behavioural geneticists are not "HBDers" obsessed with race and ethnicity. In fact, very few of their studies address racial issues.

    All the same, for me, the problem with cultural explanations of inequality that rely on learnt behaviours and "values" being transmitted from generation to generation is -- there is no theory of how that actually happens, and commonsensical or folkloric ideas of parental nurture & upbringing fail empirically. At least economistic and geographical-determinist explanations have a clear theory.

    lower scores among certain populations have more reasonable explanations in terms of literacy, level of education, health, and much else - factors which surely affect a person's ability to perform well on a test.

    But you can't blithely claim that. There's a body of research on the determinants of the racial disparity in IQ, though it's smaller than behavioural geneticists' corpus, and also more controversial and more limited to a few countries.  Nonetheless there's suggestive evidence for the hereditarian position : e.g., white Americans in the lowest income strata have a higher average IQ than blacks in the highest income strata ; and transracial adoption studies (an example reveal that the difference in IQ scores between white & adoptive black children raised in the same high income families was a little more than 1 standard deviation -- which is what obtains between blacks and whites in general. Now, the hereditarian interpretation of those findings is critiqued and disputed -- everything is always critiqued and disputed. But there isn't much straightforward evidence for the environmental hypothesis.

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  51. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 04:04

    >Being put in the position of only being able to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability is a good explanation of the ability to do tasks requiring mental labour and mathematical ability - parents are good at passing on abilities without genes being involved

    It's exactly the opposite ! Parents aren't good at passing on abilities without genes involved.

    Barring extreme situations such as child abuse or malnutrition or abandonment, parents influence children only through their genes, not through socialisation or the family environments they consciously control.

    Behavioural genetics does not support the commonsensical or folkloric wisdom that parents have any influence on their children's adult outcomes via any mechanism other than genes. I repeat, parents have somewhere between very little and zero effect on their children's long-run (i.e., as adults) intelligence, personality, temperament, and other psychological traits. (Likewise with many health & physical traits often thought to be within non-genetic parental control to some extent, such as weight and longevity.)

    Behavioural geneticists come to this conclusion by studying adoptees as well as twins separated at birth. They find, siblings who are similar, are similar only because of the genes they share, not at all because of the familial environment they may have shared. In fact, identical twins raised in the same family are no more like each other in intelligence and personality traits than identical twins separated at birth and raised apart.

    Specifically on intelligence (as measured by IQ), studies of identical twins separated at birth find that the correlation between the IQ scores of identical twins reared apart is on the order of 0.8 to 0.9.

    The "environmental" part of a child's socialisation is not denied. But behavioural geneticists find no evidence that the environment that socialises a child is the familial one that's within the conscious control of parents. And no one knows what this "miscellaneous" or "nonshared" environment" really is.

    I thought West has read Pinker's The Blank Slate ? His chapter 19 has a good summary of the results. Suffice it to note, behavioural geneticists are not "HBDers" obsessed with race and ethnicity. In fact, very few of their studies address racial issues.

    All the same, for me, the problem with cultural explanations of inequality that rely on learnt behaviours and "values" being transmitted from generation to generation is -- there is no theory of how that actually happens, and commonsensical or folkloric ideas of parental nurture & upbringing fail empirically.

    At least economistic and geographical-determinist explanations have a clear theory.

    lower scores among certain populations have more reasonable explanations in terms of literacy, level of education, health, and much else - factors which surely affect a person's ability to perform well on a test.

    But you can't blithely claim that. There's a body of research on the determinants of the racial disparity in IQ, though it's smaller than behavioural geneticists' corpus, and also more controversial and more limited to a few countries.  Nonetheless there's suggestive evidence for the hereditarian position : e.g., white Americans in the lowest income strata have a higher average IQ than blacks in the highest income strata ; and transracial adoption studies (an example reveal that the difference in IQ scores between white & adoptive black children raised in the same high income families was a little more than 1 standard deviation -- which is what obtains between blacks and whites in general. Now, the hereditarian interpretation of those findings is critiqued and disputed -- everything is always critiqued and disputed. But there isn't much straightforward evidence for the environmental hypothesis.

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  52. "Here's a big problem for HBD-ers to resolve. For thousands of years, western European societies were full of superstition, religion, religious bigotry, and religious (and other) violence. "

    A problem only if you think that the genetical composition of Europeans a thousand years ago is the same as nowaday, which is not :) and if you think that HBDer think everything is _determined_ by genes, which, again, is not.

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    Replies
    1. You don't seem to understand; this is about long-term selective pressures, not about what Europeans were like in one short moment.

      Jayman apparently believes that the adoption of Carolingian social structures and the manorial system constituted significant selective pressures on some European populations, making them more docile and quick-witted. If this reasoning is applied elsewhere, to a phenomenon presenting stronger selective pressures, we see why Jayman's reasoning is wrong: even strong selective pressures operating over the course of a thousand years (40 or so generations) are not sufficient to override or undermine cultural developments opposed to them.

      Delete
    2. Thanks for the answer.

      Well, in case of foxes 20 generations were enough to produce domesticated, docile foxes, isn't it? That's some 500 years in terms of human history, right?

      Besides I believe this was example of cultural coevolution. For any environment, some people are better suited to that environment. So if culture creates some environment, some will thrive more in that culture than others. Just minimally better is enough. For example, state helped non-violent people to breed more than violent; when proportion of violent people dropped, this made possible introduction of some institutions which would be too costly otherwise; which in turn may created even more favourable environment for non-violent people etc.

      Same could be for religious-nonreligious. If some fanatics instead of breeding would choose to live in monasteries or would go dying in the Holy Land, the proportion of fanatics (assuming fanaticism results from some heritable trait) may be reduced in population (assuming no gains for fanatics' families).

      Delete
  53. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 16:26

    I forgot this bit :

    >I find the Eckstein and Botticini case persuasive.

    But don't you see that their thesis describes a genetic mechanism, whether they know it or not ? Their basic argument is that during the time when Jews were still primarily farmers, they imposed upon themselves the requirement to educate their sons. Those who found it too costly to educate their sons according to the norms of Judaism converted to other religions and thus there was attrition in the population of Jews. This implies a population bottleneck mediated by selection. Eckstein and Botticini talk about the most religious staying on as Jews even when the costs to illiterate farmers of obeying Jewish educational edicts were high. But for the "most religious" one could substitute "the smartest" or (related at a remove) "the richest" and the substitution would be consistent with the basic evidence presented by E. and B. Whether it is selection via the fittest leaving more descendants (as in Cochran & Harpending), or it is attrition of the population to its fittest elements, the effect is still population-genetic in nature.

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    1. This would be reasonable, except that:

      I. There is no reason to believe that genetics had anything to do with determining who remained Jewish in the early post-temple-destruction days, and there isn't much reason at all for supposing that the richest or most religious people had those traits because of their genes. At this point, the Cochran and Harpending point would rest on circularity. All kinds of socio-cultural pressures can cause people to do things they don't want to do in the first place, or don't feel they're suited for, even in the face of economic difficulties, especially where religion is concerned. Veneration of cows is probably bad for the average Indian farmer and his income, and the cows could definitely be put to better use, but for a Hindu farmer to propose this, let alone go through with it, could lead to his being ostracised by the community. We do not need to propose genetic explanations for early Jews continuing to be religious, even if it is a possibility.

      II. It isn't as if Ashkenazi Jews were totally segregated from other European populations, is it? Sephardim do not typically have red hair or pale skin. The founding population may have been smart, but why would we expect such things to carry on down to people with high degrees of originally non-Jewish DNA? Cochran and Harpending propose that recent selection in Europe is behind Ashkenazi success; this is incompatible with an explanation in terms of an early bottleneck mediated by selection unless some other, additional forces are at play, or unless they both are.

      I don't think there's any need for the Eckstein and Botticini model to be supplemented with genetics.

      Delete
  54. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 20:56

    I did not "propose genetic explanations for early Jews continuing to be religious" !

    (1) The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is unusually high. This anomaly demands an explanation, and the explanation must be genetic (a) given the high heritability of intelligence that is well established by behavioural genetics (which is why there's no circularity in reasoning) ; and (b) because no "sociocultural" theory can explain it.

    (2) Unless it also acts as a genetic selection mechanism, a long tradition of literacy and learning can't explain why people with such a tradition are smarter on average than people without such a tradition (or with a shorter, shallower tradition) who nonetheless receive a modern education. Here, I'm not comparing Jews with peoples only recently introduced to modernity, like most New Guineans or persons living with extreme material deprivations in a a Calcutta slum. Rather I'm comparing Jews with, say, Swedes or Japanese, i.e., materially satisfied peoples who perform well thanks to modern education, but on average not nearly as well as Ashk. Jews relative to population size.

    (3) I do not "supplement" the Eckstein-Botticini model with genetics. Rather, the model organically describes a potential genetic mechanism, even if the authors aren't aware of it or (more likely) stay silent about it. If Jewish farmers were required to undertake costly measures to educate their sons, then it would be not only the most religious who would be predisposed to follow the injunction, but also the richest and/or the smartest who would be most capable of it. That alone suggests a selection mechanism.

    (4) The Cochran-Harpending and the Eckstein-Botticini models need not be competitive. They can be complementary as genetic mechanisms. EB could explain the early divergence of Jews from the local populations amongst whom they lived, and CH the intellectual divergence of the Ashkenazim from the Sepharadim and the Mizrahim.

    But all of this is speculative.

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  55. pseudoerasmus24 March 2014 21:07

    I did not "propose genetic explanations for early Jews continuing to be religious" !

    (1) The average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is unusually high. This anomaly demands an explanation, and the explanation must be genetic (a) given the high heritability of intelligence that is well established by behavioural genetics (which is why there's no circularity in reasoning) ; and (b) because no "sociocultural" theory can explain it.

    (2) Unless it also acts as a genetic selection mechanism, a long tradition of literacy and learning can't explain why people with such a tradition are smarter on average than people without such a tradition (or with a shorter, shallower tradition) who nonetheless receive a modern education. Here, I'm not comparing Jews with peoples only recently introduced to modernity, like most New Guineans or persons living with extreme material deprivations in a a Calcutta slum. Rather I'm comparing Jews with, say, Swedes or Japanese, i.e., materially satisfied peoples who perform well thanks to modern education, but on average not nearly as well as Ashk. Jews relative to population size.

    (3) I do not "supplement" the Eckstein-Botticini model with genetics. Rather, the model organically describes a potential genetic mechanism, even if the authors aren't aware of it or (more likely) stay silent about it. If Jewish farmers were required to undertake costly measures to educate their sons, then it would be not only the most religious who would be predisposed to follow the injunction, but also the richest and/or the smartest who would be most capable of it. That alone suggests a selection mechanism.

    (4) The Cochran-Harpending and the Eckstein-Botticini models need not be competitive. They can be complementary as genetic mechanisms. EB could explain the early divergence of Jews from the local populations amongst whom they lived, and CH the intellectual divergence of the Ashkenazim from the Sepharadim and the Mizrahim.

    But all of this is speculative.

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    1. pseudoerasmus26 March 2014 03:51

      I also think it extremely probable that the ecological differences between regions as noted in Guns, Germs & Steel created different selective pressure on respective populations -- even if Diamond ruled that out explicitly. So (once again) the Diamond hatred of the HBD set seems a little unwarranted.

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    2. Right. Cochran in particulat strawmans Diamond.

      Razib is more sympathetic, partly because he has the 'right enemies' - which is not really a scientific criterion, more Khan's own bias.

      Delete
  56. Razib Khan's most recent blog entry seems apropos to the discussion here, e.g.:
    "... whenever I try and delve into the topic it seems that sociologists don’t actually engage with the latest genomic research, but simply rehash older models which refute naive essentialism which biologists would never find plausible in the first place."

    Quoting Jiannbin Shiao: "…The social sciences should replace their biology-based rejection of race “with a version of the feminist distinction between biological sex and socially constructed gender,”"

    Quoting A. W. F. Edwards: "... it is a dangerous mistake to premise the moral equality of human beings on biological similarity because dissimilarity, once revealed, then becomes an argument for moral inequality."

    More here: http://www.unz.com/gnxp/not-by-cline-alone/

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  57. I agree with Jiannbin Shiao. A word can have different usage in different settings and to confuse meanings is a fallacy of definition.

    Edwards is correct as well, and I'd question the utility from any perspective of 'race denial' type arguments. Racial conflict is by definition ethnic and ethnic conflict is often a matter of similar groups such as Germans and Poles, or Japanese and Koreans. Despite the best efforts of certain social constructionists to prove the Irish were not considered white, its obvious that we were, and the quite similar English and Scots still raped us. If race were universally agreed upon not to exist, "racial" conflict would remain.

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You can post anonymously if you really want to, but I'd appreciate it if you could provide some means of identifying who you are, if only for the purpose of knowing who has written what.