Apologia for racial hereditarianism

I have spent an inordinate amount of time investigating these issues as it has been very difficult for me to accept that race and cognitive realism are legitimate positions. Doing so necessitates that I accept the perfidiousness of large swaths of society, specifically those those who have denied or have been complicit in the denial of the validity of non discriminatory explanations for group differences, including genetic and non genetic cognitive ones, let alone those responsible for or complicit in the demonization of proponents of such explanations. In a long disjointed comment on a post over at Psychology Today, I clarified to myself the issue at stake in accepting the rationality of race realism. The same reasoning applies with more force to cognitive realism as there is no question as to not only the validity but soundness of that position:

One of your main conclusions was that the behavioral differences between US defined racial populations have no genetic basis. Your reasoning in support of this was: (1) There are, supposedly, no human biological groupings that match the term ‘race’; (2) US defined races don’t represent biological groupings; (3) Racial definitions in the US change; and (4) there is more genetic variation in Africa than out. Missing is evidence or reasoning that actually supports your conclusion, which concerns average genetic differences. You would agree that within US defined races a large chunk of the variance in certain behavioral traits is conditioned by genes, no? And you would agree that US defined races differ, on average, genetically, no? What specifically is the argument, then? What you need to show is that there are not the said genetic differences for the traits in question. You can show this, among other ways, through admixture mapping, structural equation modeling, adoption studies, or the new fangled Visscher heritability methodology. You can’t show this through word games. If you had an iota of intellectual honesty, you would simply admit that this is a complex unresolved issue. That it could be resolved. And that, as testified by the arguments made in the Darwin 200 Nature symposium on this, it’s not, and it’s not because there is great concern about finding such difference. What’s nauseating about this article is that you clearly recognize what’s at stake — it’s an issue of culpability . (You make accusations yourself.) Yet you refuse to recognize the validity of the arguments of those we disagree with your judgment. You’re as a tyrannical judge who denies the defense the right to question the evidence. This is perverse. What’s more so is that you fail to recognize this. To make this simple: (a) Either you are inept or you know that a genetic causal explanation for the differences in question between the populations in question has not been ruled out. Presumably it is not the former: (b) you obviously recognize that this causal question (nature versus nurture) is tied to a moral question (not culpable versus culpable); (c) so you recognize that the moral question has not been answered; (d) you must recognize that a correct determination of the moral question is itself morally important. It’s an accurate determination of culpability; (e) yet you go out of your way to grossly distort and misrepresent the case. This is morally sick. (I mean this sincerely.) This is what I want, before I accept your claim that “disparities” are conditioned by injustices (i.e., that differences are due to the iniquity of some) — I want proof that they are not conditioned by either genetics or endogenous culture.

I probably should elaborate on point (e). You are pointing to differences the causes of which I am agnostic about. You are claiming that these differences are due, to a significant extent, to injustice. This implies that some set of individuals are culpable for these difference. In short, you are accusing some set of individuals of iniquity. To justify your accusation, you argue (1) to (4) above, none of which logically address the issue. In fact, nothing you said addresses the issue. (The same can be said for Duster, Gravlee, Harrison, Hartigan, Jablonski, Long, Marks, Tattersal and DeSalle. None of what they said address the issue.) The issue is very simple: (I) Genes explain a large portion of the within population variance for the traits in question; this makes genetic differences between populations a priori plausible. (II) US defined racial populations represent unrepresentative samples of global populations. (III) Global populations differ genetically (to a moderate degree). (IV) Therefore, the US defined population could differ genetically in the relevant traits, owing to differences between global populations or to unrepresentativity or to both.) Now, it’s so manifest that none of what you wrote — or those you cited wrote — address the issue that you must recognize this; it’s inconceivable that you made the above arguments in good faith. And yet you agree that the nature/nurture issue has important moral ramifications; it’s hardly an issue deserving of jest. Now, imaginably you agree that coming to an accurate determination of culpability is important. So you would probably agree that engaging in obfuscation and sophistry is morally negligent when what’s at stake is an accurate determination. And yet this is what you are engaging in. Why? My conclusion above was that you are morally ill — you probably are suffering from some variant of cultural marxism. Another possibility is that you have simply convinced yourself that a genetic causal hypothesis is dead, that it’s simply not plausible. Were this the case, you would believe that your determination is, necessarily, the True one. And since it’s the True one, obfuscation and sophistry would not be a concern. Indeed, you might be morally obliged to convince your readers (or students), by hook or crook, of what must be indubitable to you. Let me ask then: Do you consider a genetic hypothesis, such as offered in the Bell Curve, to be implausible? If not, why, given everything said above? To clarify, I’m not asking if you agree with it — I know that answer — but just whether you consider it plausible.

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One Response to Apologia for racial hereditarianism

  1. nikcrit says:

    Chuck,
    Given that the lack of consensus, or indeed widespread disbelief, in hereditarian causation is in many ways the source of p.c. culture, I ask you this:

    What if you could eradicate contemporary p.c. pieties, in all their form and influence, yet leave ambiguous and agnostic the question of hereditarian causation?
    Would that ease the urgencies on each side?
    Or would the same old debate simply start to reboil shortly afterward?
    I don’t think you’ll ever get clear and cogent answers, because too much of the oolitical and social culture is predicated on the ambiguity. Now, that ‘ambiguity’ in recent decades has leaned heavily on ‘antiracism’ bona-fides, with all their outrages and conceits, but that can be tampered down without answering the question of hereditarian causation. Such a compromised resolve leaves room for more crisis and confrontation down the line, but that is really the best one can hope for, imo, because, again, so much cultural-and-political ‘here and now’ relies on racial shibboleths that beget industries of their own.

    (Technological advancements have this ugly pattern of intruding upon folkloric truths and wisdoms). L(

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