May 26, 2008

"Escaping the Tyranny of Steve Sailer (and a Few Other People You’ve Never Heard of Either)"

I have a new VDARE.com column responding to Jim Manzi's "Escaping the Tyranny of Genes" cover story in the June 2, 2008 National Review. I write:

Software executive Jim Manzi warns darkly of powerful (yet unnamed) "genetic maximalists" who threaten human freedom in ominous (but unspecified) ways.

That's because these “popularizers” unscientifically ride the sociobiological "reigning presumption of academic America" in a climate in which "mass media are inundated with this biology-explains-all ideology."

Unfortunately, Manzi never identifies what planet in what year he's describing: Htrae in the year 8002 D.A. maybe?

Manzi proclaims:

"If the pretense to scientific knowledge is always dangerous, it is doubly so when wedded to state power, because it leads to pseudo-rational interventions that unduly extend authority and restrict freedom. That the linkage of race and IQ is provocative to contemporary audiences is not surprising: It is almost a direct restatement, in the language of genetics, of the key premise of Social Darwinism."

Manzi then recounts the stereotypical litany of early 20th Century horrors from eugenics to the Holocaust. ...

Who, exactly, are these dangerous proponents of "geneticism" who are currently running amok? National Review gives Manzi 3000 words, but he doesn't come up with any names more recent than Woodrow Wilson and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who was born in 1841.

Perhaps Manzi is alluding to James D. Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, who indeed mentioned "the linkage of race and IQ" last year. Yet, as you will recall (although Manzi and the NR editors seem to have forgotten), Watson was not immediately elected Big Brother. Instead, in our world, he was subjected to a Two Minute Hate and kicked to the curb by the medical research laboratory he had built up for four decades.

Over at The American Scene, in the comments, I have a lot of fun at Manzi's expense as I slowly pin him down to explaining exactly what his article is supposed to mean. I keep asking him, Who are these tyrants-in-the-making?" After a three-day-weekend, I've finally extracted an answer from him that's hilarious enough that it may be worth your time reading through 60 comments.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

25 comments:

John S. Bolton said...

It's bad that the moderate right outlets (NR in this case) would so mindlessly ape the new left smearing methods:
1-false dilemma, 2-equivocation, 3-slippery slope 4-misconceived ideals The anti-hereditarian left has to use smears in the place where rational arguments were rightly to be expected, but the right is under no such disability, and should refrain from imitating the weakest aspects of the left.
If oppression consists of talking of lasting inequalities as such, liberation would be lysenkoist censorship, like Orwell's freedom is slavery desription of propaganda.

TGGP said...

Speaking of Gattaca.

J. said...

Lysenko Lives! Living organisms are infinitely malleable, politically incorrect people should be sent to re-education camps, where hard work and memorizing the Sun of the People´s writings will make them New Men. Organisms evolved to outrun famelic cheetahs in the savannah can be turned into outperforming bookworms by school "education". A revolutionary does not describe or study "reality", he is out to transform it. Steve, you insist in your burgeois, reactionary ideology, while humanity is embarking in a glorious revolution that will change history.

BTW, very good article.

Garland said...

Once again I have to wonder just what goes through the minds of the NR editors when they run stuff like this even as they continue to tout Charles Murray as a great thinker.

Steve Sailer said...

My main memory of "Gattaca" is that astronaut training in the future will apparently consist of long rows of well-groomed young men dressed like extras from "Brideshead Revisted" typing away under the direction of Gore Vidal. That's what I remember -- lots and lots of typing.

Here's some of the film's screamingly repressed typing-centric dialogue:

Gore Vidal: "You keep your work station so clean, Jerome."

Ethan Hawke: "It's next to godliness. Isn't that what they say?"

Gore Vidal: "Godliness. I reviewed your flight plan. Not one error in a million keystrokes. Phenomenal. It's right that someone like you is taking us to Titan."

The filmmakers must have pitched "Gattaca" like this:

"It's like a gay version of 'The Right Stuff' crossed with "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing."

testing99 said...

Probably more revolutionary is the knowledge, if the Ashkenazi research on inheritance and IQ is correct, that some cultures through natural/sexual selection are better than others at producing higher average IQs.

It would mean, effectively, the death of PC and multiculturalism, as middle class parents sought to move culture to advantage selection towards IQ-related stuff ala the Ashkenazi. PARTICULARLY if the human genome were found to more malleable and adaptive over shorter time spans than previously thought. I.E. shattering prior dogma that evolution ceased in humans around 75,000 years ago.

As for racial superiority/inferiority ala average IQ, research there might surprise people. It would not shock me to see Europeans undergoing relatively recent (i.e. AD 1200 or so) and massive selection for both IQ and cooperative traits, and for that selection to show up in the genome with various side effects. Ashkenazi may merely mirror that process in the general European population.

If you had a time machine, and gave IQ tests normed for literacy, etc. to Europeans circa 700 AD vs. Africans, I'd be shocked if anyone found any significant difference at all in average IQ or social cooperation.

People forget that the dominant environmental effect is culture, not physical environment, for human beings.

Anonymous said...

I loved _Gattaca_ which I saw at the same time that I read Lee Silver's _Remaking Eden_. They both made me realize that the future of genetic engineering was not a dictator or a _Brave New World_ state making decisions, but the choices of individuals in a capitalist system.

Amit

headache said...

2 things:

1. I don't consider Steve a tyrant. More like a mental liberator and occasional humorist.
2. What is a "Software executive" writing about genes for? Does he not have enough work? Or is his product so lousy he is looking to get into punditry? Or does he make his staff do all the work for himself?

Jimmy said...

Steve, steve, steve.. Priceless.

They are scared that you may be (and probably IMHO) right about all those heretical stuff you write about. You may be more powerful than you know! It is indeed deeply funny that Manzi sees you as a powerful political influence.

We all know, how you personally stopped NCLB and 3rd world immigration.

It's because of normally smart guys (like Jim Manzi) pooping out stupidities, that I can understand why so many (seemly sane) people supported the Iraq war.

They are sheep, just follwing the herd.

headache said...

OK Steve, I actually read your VDare column instead of just blurting away. You sed:
"He suffers from the engineer's fallacy of lacking an appreciation of the incremental nature of how science works"

I'm an engineer and also software programmer, and apart from allowing myself the feminine luxury of being offended (not really), I actually couldn't make sense of your argument.

Traditional engineers (mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil) often use empirical data because modeling complex systems becomes too expensive (ex. CFD analysis of a turbine vs. empirical formulae) or because the science is not that advanced and the systems are not understood properly, so they use empirical formulae for working designs.

Software Engineers are either just coders, i.e. using a set of algorithms and libraries which have been pre-designed and are usually documented, or if they are cutting edge, may be developing new libraries, or operating systems or trying to make existing ones talk to each other, but all based on a likewise properly documented undercarriage (OS, Framework etc.). Their biggest headaches are undocumented libraries or incompatible frameworks. Software engineers are not really engineers, they are usually just fancy technicians, and they just assumed that title to give them the gravitas of traditional engineers, i.e. excuse for more pay.

That's far away from traditional engineering like mechanical, chemical or civil, which always knows to be working with simplifications for costs sake or to compensate missing research. In that sense traditional engineers are very much aware that science is incremental. In fact good engineers are known to scrounge around in science publications looking for the cutting edge technology which would lift them above their competitors.

headache said...

Steve, the more I read your VDare column, the more alarmed I am. Not about the Genes stuff, obviously Manzi does not know what he is talking about. I doubt he is much of a programmer either. Just an exec and uses that programming label to make his article stick.

But I'm really offended by your characterization of engineers. Obviously you don't know much about engineering. Stuff like

"To the engineering mindset, this uncertain state of affairs is alarming"

is just rubbish. Engineering is all about dealing with uncertainty, either because certainty is prohibitively expensive or because it cannot be attained with current scientific methods. Otherwise we would just let scientists build our dams, airplanes and tanks. But then they would never finish because some things are unknown or would take for ever (and be unaffordable) to figure out.

Good engineers often follow their guts and buttress their intuition with empirical, or where available, scientific knowledge. Sorry Steve, you sullied an otherwise good article by displaying your non-understanding of the engineering process.

John Craig said...

"The mass media are inundated with this biology-explains-all ideology."

Mr. Sailer, what's wrong with you? Can't you see that the NYTimes, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Time, Newswek, NBC, ABC, CBS, and CNN are -- and always have been -- nothing but shills for the Shockley/Jensen/Murray/ Herrnstein/Rushton point of view?

Anonymous said...

Quite a showing in Jim's comments section.

I think what Jim was trying to say is though he can't rule out the possibility of race and IQ being specifically related, he would prefer it not to be, and will not take any rational stand where his peers can see him regarding it's scientific probability, until it's proven beyond a reasonable measure of probability, qualifying as a scientific fact, and by that time, hopefully he'll be dead.

At least I think that was what he was trying to say,but I could be mistaken.

David said...

testing99 said

People forget that the dominant environmental effect is CULTURE, NOT PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT, for human beings. (emphasis added)

Where did culture come from - extraterrestrials? Mutants?

Anonymous said...

Steve, if you change your opinions, you can get the babes, like Malcolm Gladwell does!

Planetary Archon Mouse

David said...

John S. Bolton said

The anti-hereditarian left has to use smears in the place where rational arguments were rightly to be expected, but the right is under no such disability, and should refrain from imitating the weakest aspects of the left.

You falsely assume TNR is on the right in any sense. Goldbergism is left posing right as a control. This article is but one example.

Your litany of new left argumentative fallacies is brilliant and exact, btw.

Anonymous said...

"If you had a time machine, and gave IQ tests normed for literacy, etc. to Europeans circa 700 AD vs. Africans, I'd be shocked if anyone found any significant difference at all in average IQ or social cooperation."

If you had a time machine and went back to China, c. 1560, you'd find no difference in IQ? They were pretty far behind the "west" just then and had a lot of weird superstitions. Do you think the Pesians would score way beyond today? They constituted most of the scholars in Muslim Spain circa 700 AD.
I presume you're excluding ancient Greek? Romans?
What Europeans are you talking about? Your knowledge of European history must be limited to a Monty Phython skit.
Just one example of a group that underwent, if anything, a mental decline: the Irish monks were criss-crossing Europe, keeping literacy alive. Charlemagne employed some, I believe. Ireland was known as the "isle of saints and scholars", renowned for learning. Look at the illuminations in the famous book of Kells from the so-called "dark ages". And remember they were working without chemical dyes.
Latin was the lingua franca in Europe, and Christianity, whatever one thinks of it, was a unifying force with a complex theology. There were active communities of monks and nuns who developed gregorian chant, kept alive literacy and made progress. The eleventh century was drastically different from the tenth and every century thereafter increased incrementally in cultural and scientific developments. Contact with the "east", with Muslim learning and Chinese culture, effected permanent changes in European society, that the Europeans themselves deliberately built upon with no outside imposition. Who would have been the outsiders. The most interesting thing about European culture is that it developed from its own impetus, using what it learned from other cultures certainly. But no world-wide "aid" came to its assistance.
I am not speaking of moral activity--not at all sure of linear improvement on that front except in some humanitarian issues. But comparing medieval Europeans with sub-Saharan Africans is an absurdity, even if one does not subscribe to a genetic basis for mentality. The Africans were stone age until the Europeans imposed their culture. Despite centuries of contact with Arabs and Indians, they were not adopting Arab or Indian methods to any extent. The universities in sub-Saharan Africa were Muslim constructed religious institutions.

Matt Parrott said...

Where do I apply to be a high-ranking officer in this new regime of yours, Steve? Will you be able to afford cable television and a decent car when National Review's prophecies are fulfilled?

Roger Chaillet said...

Interesting timing, Steve. Your argument has been buttressed by the appointment of yet another Ashkenazi to a high IQ position in the sciences. http://www.massgeneral.org/GASTROENTEROLOGY/staff/podolsky.html

He's the sole finalist for the position of president of UT Southwestern in Dallas.

I remember taking a tour of one of the research buildings at the medical school about 10 years ago. I saw the obligatory white, Chinese and Korean researchers wandering around in lab coats. But the only brown folks I saw were janitors from south of the border.

Gee, I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Steve, I followed the entire conversation at Manzi's and also read the vDare article. It is great entertainment watching Manzi navigate the minefield of inconvenient truth in order to stay "clean" in the eyes of the regime.

My take is that the ruling elites in the West, who are globalist and post-national in mindset, will never budge on the race/IQ debate. They cannot, because it's the cornerstone of their massive attack on whites in the Western nations.

Without the science strongly in their favor, a bunch of dominoes would begin to follow exactly the way the elites don't want them to fall. Whites would then be prone to more quickly circle the wagons and reject the non-white flood for reasons that are explained...by science.

Many whites are beginning to circle the wagons anyway, of course. But an official reversal on the race/IQ issue would put a huge monkey wrench into the AA machinery and short circuit the entire global white guilt trip that the media has been pumping into white heads.

So, at this point, I find your appeals to your opponents' "better nature"...frustrating. Because your opponents are mostly thugs and sellouts, mixed in with a few useful idiots.

The vast majority of your opponents know exactly what they're doing and how to keep getting their bread buttered. They made a decision to "take the money" and keep their "career", and later on they tell themselves that they aren't responsible for the emerging Soviet style intellectual atmosphere on "politically sensitive" issues. They are either the thugs actually enforcing the scheme, or they are the sellouts who have made their deal with the devil. And, as the evidence mounts against the New Bolshevik party line, both types are only going to become more annoyed with party-poopers like Steve Sailer.

Aren't you now 10 years into the internet blog experiment? But the Marxists remain firmly in control of your issues and your methods are not changing that reality.

Isn't it time to re-evaluate? That chart link showing how graduate degrees correlate with "race does not exist" mentality is a wake up call. These people are not going to budge. The industry peer pressure is extreme, careers are at stake, and they are overwhelmingly choosing to submit to the regime.

The essential problem, as I see it, Steve, is your willingness to work within the liberal order. Because it is the liberal order that is destroying the West and enabling alien conquest. Other voices are correct in recognizing that the entire liberal program must be rejected.

The easiest way to exit from the liberal order is through religion. This is how the Muslims gain ground against the liberals. They are simply intellectually outside the liberal paradigm and are therefore able to smash it. Ironically, the liberal order tolerates Islam's advances (advances which are perceived as anti-Western anyway).

Of course, Muslim accommodation to the liberal order may be employed as a temporary strategic necessity. But accommodation to the liberal order is a lifelong pursuit for you and your fellow athiest and agnostic peers in the scientific fields. That is the problem, Steve. The high IQ athiest/agnostic crowd is going to need a different path to escape the liberal order.

I don't think anything short of catastrophic meltdown of civic institutions is going to upset the applecart. Yes, it looks like a radical economic dislocation is coming our way thanks to the insane corruption produced by the post-Christian consumer society. Financial armaggedon might clear the American mind of liberalism and political correctness. But then again the noose might be pulled tighter.

Steve, you are a liberal at heart. But, unfortunately, you are going to have to exit the liberal order to make real progress in the war you are fighting.

Graham Asher said...

"the Irish monks were criss-crossing Europe, keeping literacy alive. Charlemagne employed some, I believe." Come on, credit where credit is due: Charlemagne's main adviser was Alcuin of York, an Englishman.

Ronduck said...

Testing99 wrote

As for racial superiority/inferiority ala average IQ, research there might surprise people. It would not shock me to see Europeans undergoing relatively recent (i.e. AD 1200 or so) and massive selection for both IQ and cooperative traits, and for that selection to show up in the genome with various side effects. Ashkenazi may merely mirror that process in the general European population.

If you had a time machine, and gave IQ tests normed for literacy, etc. to Europeans circa 700 AD vs. Africans, I'd be shocked if anyone found any significant difference at all in average IQ or social cooperation.


You seem to be saying that the Europeans accomplished nothing prior to 1200 AD. You seem to be ignorant of the Roman empire, the Greeks or the Roman republic.

Anonymous said...

"That chart link showing how graduate degrees correlate with "race does not exist" mentality is a wake up call. These people are not going to budge. The industry peer pressure is extreme, careers are at stake, and they are overwhelmingly choosing to submit to the regime."

An excellent point. I hope this puts to rest dismissive ideas about the ivory towers of academe not being part of "the real world". Academe is the root of the real world, mentally speaking. In the fifth grade, I got yelled at by a roomful of my peers for suggesting that a black student be cast to play the role of a black character in a play.

It's a little different when you're young, impressionable, and outnumbered, isn't it? And how many of the offspring of conservatives aren't being immersed in crypto-Marxist blank-slate social-engineering culture every semester? And they grow up, and the most libertarian/conservative person they can think of to vote for is ... Rudy Giuliani?

Conservatives and libertarians need to reassert themselves in pre-college education thru home-schooling. Send your kids to college - sure, for employment viability - but arm them ahead of time. Just keeping them out of the low.com.denom K-12 warehouse will be good, but maybe a little booster shot may be appropriate: "Just because the AA students and the (white/Asian) Uncle Toms will despise you because of your race, culture, and background, doesn't mean you need to agree, or even become neurotic in reaction. Just smile and nod and never ever say anything true in an anthropology classroom."
- Some ol' homeschool advocate

PhysicistDave said...

Steve,

In your exchange with Manzi, you wrote:
> Indeed, what we are witnessing is a convergence of Creationists, Frankfurt School leftists, postmodernists, “Science Studies” academics, libertarians, both right and left, and Oprahish self-esteem boosters (“You can be anything you want to be”) into a philosophical grand alliance into punish and intimidate the hard-headed James Watson-types who look at the incoming data and call it as they see it.

I’m not sure whether you would call me a “left” or “right” libertarian (I’m a pretty hard-core anarchist, but I lean towards what is now viewed as cultural conservatism); in any case, I am pretty sure you’d count me as a libertarian.

And I was appalled at how Watson was treated and not shy about saying so if the issue came up.

I know there are libertarians (notably the Reason/Cato “Beltway” crowd) who may differ from me. But I’m pretty sure there are a lot of libertarians who value open expression as I do and took Watson’s side.

Do you have reason to think that libertarians generally were among the lynch mob in the Watson case?

Of course, I do not know for certain how the genetic data will eventually play out. However, since we do know that black Africans score lower on intelligence tests, if you start out with a neutral judgment as to relative intelligence among the races and then plug the intelligence-test results into Bayes’ theorem, the result on which way to bet is obvious.

One thing I am pretty sure of is that on any trait for which there is genetic variation within a race, there is also likely to be variations among races. The variation within a race means that there is genetic variability upon which selection can act. And any slight difference in selection pressure from differing physical or cultural environments in which different races have lived will then tend to produce differences in gene frequencies between the races.

Anyone can model this to his heart’s content (my wife has a Ph.D. in biology and mine is in physics) and will find that it is very hard to avoid that result.

Incidentally, the same thing will occur over time. If there is genetic variability for some trait within a population, that variability was, probably, statistically different a few thousand years ago, simply because physical and cultural environments, and therefore selection pressures, change over time.

Frankly, as a libertarian, I look forward to the data coming in and proving that the races have different frequencies for the genes relating to intelligence (and, indeed, everything else). Hopefully, that data will help us bury the idiotic notion of equality that is based on the idea of equality of substantive innate abilities and instead return to the Jeffersonian idea that equality makes sense only in terms of natural rights.

I know this is a subject in which you have invested a lot of time and energy and therefore that you can get a bit annoyed with the idiots. But, remember, they are only behaving that way because they too suspect what the data is likely to show.

In the end, the truth will out.

All the best,

Dave Miller in Sacramento

Rob said...

On the off chance that this thread is not dead, I think Manzi's position comes from the great unexamined conspiracy theory on the left: institutional racism.

Every major institution, government, colleges, private companies, etc has at minimum a nondiscrimination policy. That's only the minimum, the vast majority practice affirmative aaction. Laws are overturned and policies changed if they result in worse outcomes for blacks relative to whites.

Yet still blacks lag, why? Poverty. But even the children of middle-class blacks do less well than whites. Since they don't think intelligence or personality could vary by race, the explanation is obvious.

The zero-group-difference believers in positions of authority know that they don't discriminate, so there has to be a powerful, hidden conspiracy that keeps blacks from doing better.

Right now, this conspiracy stays in the shadows, because public opinion, thanks to good folks like Manzi and others, goes against it. But if the race-IQ deniers lost ground, the institutional racists; who are quietly ensconsed in every company, school, university, and every level of state and national government, would quickly take over.