While I find the subject of group organization and performance, and with it, differential performance, to be fascinating, I tend not to find behavior genetics so — at least when it comes to humans. To the extent I do find behavior genetics interesting, I’m interested because the social discourse about it reveals quite a bit about the nature (or, nurture, I guess) of normative regulations and, well, various aspects of group behavior. Over the past 60 years, a whole system of social norms has evolved. And since the paint is still fresh, the dynamics can readily be elucidated. Of course, I also have a more personal, sociopolitical interest — which I have spelled out elsewhere. When it comes to the later, I am always ready to move on, until I come across a comment akin to the following, which calls out for an elucidation of my position:
HBD doesn’t help normal people feel good about themselves. It does do that for a few race/caste obsessed weirdos of the kind that haunt your comments, but normal they are not. It also demeans individual accomplishments… Americans want to believe a moral narrative where the good guys win and the bad guys lose even if it takes some time…HBD invites re-examinations of recent history that are too painful to bear.
When it comes to race and disparity, arguing HBD isn’t about being mean. Arguing HBD is defensive. It’s how the ‘bad guys’ in the morality narrative defend themselves and keep from losing. HBD has the potential to make White people feel LESS BAD about themselves, given that the said disparities are otherwise blamed on an ubiquitous, and presumably bad, mean, and ugly white (read: active, historic, or institutional) racism in Europe, South America, Canada, the US, (don’t forget Mexico!), etc. For example, this recent guardian article: ‘More Black People Jailed in England and Wales Proportionally Than in US‘ where crime rates are REFLEXIVELY attributed to “decades of racial prejudice in the criminal justice system.” In Wales?
Of course, were other people normal, a commonsense Sowellesque counter to the mountains of lies and libels based on HED (human ethnic diversity) and the complexities of life would suffice. But, as it is, investigating and pointing out the HBD behind the situation is necessary to stop the infinite regress of white guilt and infinite progress of an unwanted neosocialism (1). That is, to be clear, is morally necessary — and as such deserves to be propounded righteously.
Moreover the ever expanding Manichean moral narrative, with its victims and oppressors, is exactly what needs to be overturned — and replace with a richer conceptualization (2), which does justice to reality.
(1) To quote Gottfredson:
“According to social privilege theory, there would be no racial inequality in a fair, non-discriminatory society. The continuing existence of racial inequality is therefore proof of continuing discrimination. The fact that racial inequality permeates nearly all aspects of American life means, then, that racial discrimination permeates nearly all aspects of American life. The fact that overtly discriminatory acts are rarely observed today means only that discrimination has become hidden from view. That seemingly sincere, well-meaning whites deny being bigoted means only that their bigotry is unconscious and they refuse to admit it. That black students perform less well on average than their white classmates means that their teachers must be racist, and the latter seem to prove their guilt if they suggest that their black students sometimes have more difficulty learning the curriculum. The fact that some racial-ethnic groups disproportionately fail to meet objective race-neutral standards is proof of further insidious racism, namely, that these standards were established with the intent to favor the dominant class while appearing to do otherwise. According to social privilege theory, high-achieving groups (at least European whites) are therefore automatically guilty of profiting from an oppressive social system, and low-achieving groups are being robbed of what is rightfully theirs. Every inequality becomes more evidence of entrenched evil. The talk of brotherhood 50 years ago is replaced by talk of reparations and retribution; the hope of mutual respect among the races by mutual resentment.”
(2) This Manichean moral frame represents a societal sacred value (–the evolution of which is fascinating to study.) I suggest a tragic frame should be adopted, since reframing the current presentation tragically is psychologically congruent. (It’s like going from to Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus to Geothe’s Faust, instead of Marlowe to (unbiased) PBS documentary). As Tetlock (2003) notes:
The SVPM [Sacred value protection model] portrays people as engaged in a delicate mental balancing act. The model posits that people are largely sincere in their protestations that certain values are sacred. But the model recognizes that people regularly run nto decision problems in which the costs of upholding sacred values become prohibitive. If parents dedicated their net worth to their children’s safety, they would impoverish themselves. Likewise, a society committed to guaranteeing state-of-the-art health care for all citizens would soon devote its entire GDP to the project. The model predicts that, without pressure to confront secular–sacred contradictions, people will be motivated to look away and be easily distracted by rhetorical smokescreens. However, when gaze-aversion is not an option, people will welcome rhetorical redeﬁnitions of situations that transform taboo trade-offs into more acceptable routine trade-offs (one secular value against another, the sort of mental operation one performs every time one strolls into a supermarket) or tragic trade-offs (one sacred value against another, such as honor versus life, the stuff of classical Greek tragedies).
History, as Hegel notes, is a slaughter house. And the crass whiggish moralism of our cultural marxists is a narrative unfit to represent it. From: Hegel, 1873. Philosophy of History.
“When we look at this display of passions, and the consequences of their violence; the Unreason which is associated not only with them, but even (rather we might say especially) with good designs and righteous aims; when we see the evil, the vice, the ruin that has befallen the most flourishing kingdoms which the mind of man ever created, we can scarce avoid being filled with sorrow at this universal taint of corruption: and, since this decay is not the work of mere Nature, but of the Human Will — a moral embitterment — a revolt of the Good Spirit (if it have a place within us) may well be the result of our reflections. Without rhetorical exaggeration, a simply truthful combination of the miseries that have overwhelmed the noblest of nations and polities, and the finest exemplars of private virtue, — forms a picture of most fearful aspect, and excites emotions of the profoundest and most hopeless sadness, counter-balanced by no consolatory result. We endure in beholding it a mental torture, allowing no defence or escape but the consideration that what has happened could not be otherwise; that it is a fatality which no intervention could alter. And at last we draw back from the intolerable disgust with which these sorrowful reflections threaten us, into the more agreeable environment of our individual life — the Present formed by our private aims and interests. In short we retreat into the selfishness that stands on the quiet shore, and thence enjoy in safety the distant spectacle of “wrecks confusedly hurled.” But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimised — the question involuntarily arises — to what principle, to what final aim these enormous sacrifices have been offered.”
[While Hegel was, in a sense, philosophically progressive (what Nietzsche, in his Birth of Tragedy, called “optimistic” as opposed to “tragic”)– believing in the unfolding of history — his progressivism, was tempered with a tragic as opposed to Manichean moralistic sense. This would be roughly equivalent to Sophocles’ or Euripides’ “optimism” (for a good discussion of this refer to Kaufmann’s Tragedy and Philosophy). As good Nietzscheans, of course, we need no final aim or purpose to justify history.]