July 22, 2010

One person hates Nicholas Wade

 On Tuesday, I said that nobody ever denounces the New York Times's genetics reporter Nicholas Wade for drubbing the current shibboleths about race under a constant stream of articles documenting new genetic findings on the reality of race -- they just don't even grasp what he's doing. 

Charles Murray yesterday asked regarding Wade, "Do any of the reporters at the New York Times who cover other beats read the Science section?" (By the way, I think people can be overly hard on the NYT. I appear to have a fair amount of impact on the New York Times: with Kristof coming around recently, you can see my influence on probably three of the main op-ed columnists; some of the Science section; plus, I notice that the New York Times Magazine, which I would think is the best magazine in America at present, refracts a lot of my ideas.)

But, I should have realized there was at least one purveyor of the conventional wisdom smart enough and irate enough to have a clue about Wade: U. of North Carolina anthropologist Jonathan Marks

Marks, for example, was just about the only person on the left to understand that the cover of L.L. Cavalli-Sforza's 1994 magnum opus The History and Geography of Human Genes did not engage in "dismantling the idea of race" as a review of Cavali-Sforza book in the NYT claimed, but actually looked like something sketched out by Francis Galton. Marks was mad at Cavalli-Sforza for putting this genetic map on the cover of his book.

From the website of the American Anthropological Association (I'm guessing, from about 2007):
Productive Dialogue or Dangerous Advocacy?
Rachel Dvoskin
A group of anthropologists are outraged that the Leakey Foundation, which is the number one funder in the US of human origins research, invited New York Times science reporter Nicholas Wade to speak as part of the foundation’s annual lecture series. One of them, Jonathan Marks of UNC at Charlotte, wrote a letter to the foundation decrying Wade’s use of what Marks described as weak and controversial evidence to support genetic determinist arguments and to promote the biologization of culture. ...

“Somebody needs to get fired over it,” says Marks, who is an outspoken opponent of viewpoints he regards as anti-science or anti-intellectual. “Somehow [the process by which Wade was selected] needs to be made more transparent because it has given the field of anthropology a black eye.”

The members of the Anthropology Advisory Committee of the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), who wrote a similar letter last year to the New York Times in response to an article by Wade, are equally incensed. While granting that Wade—who has also been a reporter at Nature and Science, but is not himself a scientist—has a right to his opinions, these academics contend that by allowing him to speak at a Leakey-sponsored event, the foundation is legitimizing his views as normative in anthropology.

... In January 2007, when Marks emailed a letter to the foundation questioning their choice of Wade as a speaker, Wade was already scheduled to give two talks. Leakey President Wirthlin did not discuss the letter with anyone at that time; his understanding, he says, is that the staff determines how any potential policy issues should be handled.

... Marks and his colleagues at NYAS remain baffled by the Leakey Foundation’s decision to have Wade speak. “There’s a widespread discomfort with the way he expresses the insights that molecular biologists might have about human behavior,” explains U of Hawai’i geneticist Rebecca Cann.

Wade’s critics object to his assertions that certain population-specific characteristics—the supposed violent nature of hunter-gathers such as the Yanomami and superior intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews, for example—may have been shaped over a relatively short period of time (in evolutionary terms) by natural selection and that, in effect, people of different nationalities or “races” may be born with different human natures.

His critics allege that among other errors and assumptions, Wade conflates race, ancestry and genetic variation, and that he mistakenly extrapolates from individual traits to group characteristics.

“Almost no geneticists use the term race,” concedes Wade. “In large part, that’s for good reason.… As a journalist, however, I feel that I should use words that people are familiar with. So if geneticists are in fact talking about what general readers think of as race, than that’s the phrase that we should use.”

Many argue that Wade reports on problematic hypotheses—such as the suggestion by anthropologist Henry C Harpending (U Utah) that Ashkenazi Jews were selected for superior intelligence because of the cognitive demands of their positions as moneylenders—without conveying to his audience the controversial nature of the arguments or giving sufficient weight to opposing points of view. Wade contests that in his book he explains quite clearly the assumptions that went into that particular hypothesis. “I can’t think of any caution I omitted from the discussion.”

A few researchers praise Wade for refusing to shy away from touchy issues in the name of what they believe to be merely political correctness. E O Wilson, whose praise appears on the cover of Wade’s new book, commented in an email on Wade’s well-informed and objective journalism. “I’m not surprised that there are still ideologues who find information on human genetics ‘dangerous’ to their ideas,” Wilson says, “but Mr Wade is not a justifiable target for their anxieties.”

So, Edward O. Wilson is for Wade and Jonathan Marks is agin him.  Not a bad tradeoff from Wade's perspective.
However, many cultural and biological anthropologists warn that, when considered uncritically, Wade’s gene-centric explanations and sweeping generalizations, filtered through what some view as his Western-oriented value judgments, could be used to support eugenics and social Darwinist agendas.

“Nobody denies the fact that biology is the basis upon which the potential for human behavior takes place,” acknowledges NYU anthropologist Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb, who co-wrote a letter in response to Wade’s New York Times reporting with fellow NYAS Anthropology Chair William P Mitchell. Yet Wade’s genetic explanations for population-wide differences in human behavior are anathema to Boasian anthropology.

Back around 1996 or 1997 or so, I came up with the term "human biodiversity" to describe my chief intellectual interest. I modeled the term on Edward O. Wilson's coinage "biodiversity." I then looked to see in the first web search engine, Alta Vista, if the term had ever been used before. I quickly found Marks's 1995 book Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History, with its cover of DNA and Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy. I quickly bought it and read it and then exchanged several emails with Marks over it. At one point, he and I agreed to approach magazines to see if they would like to publish a debate between Marks and myself over the reality of race, although enthusiasm on the part of editors turned out to mild, to say the least.

An anonymous review of Human Biodiversity at Amazon describes it well:
This book is excellent introduction to the thorny topic of human biodiversity. The book's real strength lies in the fact that Marks brings in historical material which illuminates the ideological underpinnings of work on human diversity. Dr. Marks, at the time this book was written was a visiting professor at UC/Berkeley. He had studied anthropology at the University of Arizona and genetics at UC/Davis. According to a note on the copyright page he is known for his work in molecular anthropology.

The book's 14 chapters take an extremely broad view of human diversity, both cultural and biological, and of the attempts to understand and explain that diversity. The book covers the history of anthropology's attempts to understand human biodiversity, the evolution of primates, the eugenics movement, a critique of the biological race concept, patterns of human variation - both phenotypic and genotypic, the nature and function of human variation, the role of human variation in health and disease and a critique of hereditarian theory. An appendix discusses DNA structure and function. The chapters are generally well written and referenced. The book is written for an academic audience or at least a reader with a strong foundation in biology.

I found the critique of the biological race concept to be the most lucid and well thought out one that I have ever read. Marks points out that a division of humans into three or four primordial races seems to ignore the long history of human intermingling. Either there has always been intermingling among humans - in which case the very concept of biologically separated races is wrong from the start - or intermingling is a more recent phenomenon in which case race may have been relevant in the past but no longer is. Marks points out that the three major races identified in the US - White, Black and Asian - correspond to the three major immigrant groups in US history - from Europe, Western Africa and Eastern Asia. [I note that he did not discuss Native Americans.] There is an excellent discussion of the history of race thinking as it was applied to the ABO blood groups. This makes palpable the argument that within-race diversity is much greater than between-race diversity. Marks devotes a fair amount of time to discussing how cultural values impact on scientific work. This is illustrated by numerous examples, many drawn from a critique of the eugenics movement.  

In other words, Marks's Human Biodiversity resembles Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man if only Gould had been much better informed about psychometrics. There's a lot of Gould's Argument from Antiquarianism -- Look how these scientists in the days of yore got things wrong, so therefore current scientists have got things wrong, too.

That said, I found it extremely helpful to have Marks's intellectually and scientifically sophisticated critique of past theories about race, which helped me reject the Linnaean tradition of thinking about race as a subspecies and formulate a new definition of what a racial group is that is both very useful for understanding better what you see in the news every day and is, logically, very close to being tautologically inevitable: that a racial group is "a partly inbred extended family." 

As I wrote in VDARE.com in 2002 in "It's All Relative: Putting Race in Its Proper Perspective:"
Now, the key point about debating "Does Race Exist" is that it's essentially a semantic dispute. If you can find the dumbest definition anybody ever came up with—something like "racial groups are virtually separate species that almost never interbreed"—then, under that strawman definition, "race" would definitely not exist.

Conversely, of course, if you rigorously define "race" to mean something that actually does exist on Earth, then, by definition, race exists.

It's not hard to find ridiculous definitions of race to prove wrong, since lots of dumb stuff has been said about race over the years, even by scientists.

Although in the last few decades there has been some good thinking about what race is not, there have been very few attempts to come up with a new understanding of what race is … because it has become dangerous to scientists' and intellectuals' careers.

I got interested in coming up with a rigorous definition of race a few years ago when I saw that all we had to choose from were
  1. the obsolete definitions that largely failed to incorporate sophisticated sociobiological perspectives or
  1. the hip nihilism of the Race Does Not Exist crowd.
Early 19th Century credulity and late 20th Century postmodernism aren't adequate. We need a working definition for the 21st Century.

Obviously, there's something that our lying eyes see. But what exactly is it?

Up until the 1960's, physical anthropologists tended to conceive of racial classifications as fitting neatly into a taxonomy of the kind invented by the great 18th Century naturalist Carolus Linnaeaus. The top-down Linnaean system describes how the God of Genesis might have gone about efficiently organizing the Creation. It subdivides living things into genuses and then into species, subspecies, races, and presumably into sub-races and so on.

Linnaean taxonomy is still hugely useful. It even works fairly well for humans: see the July 30, 2002 New York Times article, "Race Is Seen as Real Guide to Track Roots of Disease" for how Stanford geneticist Neil Risch's crude model of dividing the world up into five continental-scale races for medical purposes can help save lives.

But naturalists now understood, however, that the Linnaean mindset always imposed a little too much order on the messiness of evolution. All of these Linnaean terms, like genus and subspecies, are not absolute but relative designations. Thus, they tend to be unavoidably arbitrary. Paleontologists are always bickering over whether some new hominid skull dug up in Africa is different enough to deserve its own genus or whether it is just a lousy new subspecies.

Even "species" is less written-in-stone than it sounds. Witness the constant debate over whether dogs, wolves, and coyotes are three species or one.

Enforcement of the Endangered Species Act is constantly being bogged down in disputes over whether a particular brand of bug or weed is a separate species. Billions of dollars of Southern California property development has been hung up for years over whether the rare California gnatcatcher bird is a different species than the abundant Baja gnatcatcher. The only difference is that the California gnatcatcher tends to a somewhat different color than the Baja gnatcatcher.

(This is also true of humans, of course, but that doesn't make them different species!)

None of this is to say that the concept of species should be discarded; just that, like races, species tend to be fuzzy sets, too.
Race is all relative, in two senses.

First
, it's all about who your relatives are.

A modern Darwinian approach to race would start from the bottom up, with the father, mother, and baby. All mammals belong to biological extended families, with a family tree that features all the same kinds of biological relatives as you or I have—grandfathers, nieces, or third cousins and so forth. And everybody belongs to multiple extended families—your mom's, your dad's, etc.

Which leads to my modern definition of race:

A racial group is an extended family that is inbred to some degree.

That's it—just an "extended family that is somewhat inbred." There's no need to say how big the extended family has to be, or just how inbred.

We know that humans have not been mating completely randomly with other humans from all over the globe. Most people, over the last few tens of thousands of years, just couldn't afford the airfare.

If you go back to 1000 AD, you would theoretically have a trillion ancestors alive at that time—that's how many slots you have in your family tree 40 generations ago. Obviously, your family tree has to be a little bit inbred. That far back, you'd probably find an individual or two from most parts of the world among your ancestors.

But, in anybody's family tree, certain statistical patterns will stand out. Just ask somebody, "What are you?" and they'll tell you about some of the larger clusters in their family tree, such as, "Oh, I'm Irish, Italian, and Cherokee."

So, my definition is close to a tautology. But then so is "survival of the fittest." 

And that proved to have a bit of predictive power.

This is a scaleable solution. Do you want to know a lot about a few people?

Then, the more inbred, the more distinct the racial group. Or, do you want to know a little about a lot of people? The less inbred, the larger the group.

For example, Icelanders are a lot more inbred and thus a lot more distinct than, say, Europeans, who are, though, much more numerous. Which one is the "true race?"

It's a useless question. They are both racial groups. For some questions, "Icelander" is the more useful group to focus upon. For others "European" is the more effective.

Of course, the bottom-up model accounts for everything seen in top-down approaches. Average hereditary differences are—as one might expect—inherited. The bottom-up approach simply eliminates any compulsion to draw arbitrary lines regarding whether a difference is big enough to be racial.

With enough inbreeding, hereditary differences will emerge that will first be recognizable to the geneticist, then to the physical anthropologist, and finally to the average person.

Similarly, two separate racial groups can slowly merge into one if barriers to intermarriage come down.

I'm more interested in the reality that there are partly inbred extended families than in what it's called. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a better word than "race."

Various euphemisms have been tried without much success. For example, the geneticists, such as the distinguished Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford, who study what the normal person would call "race," don't call themselves "racial geneticists." Instead, they blandly label themselves "population geneticists."

That allows them at least sometimes to sneak their research projects by under the radar of the politically correct. But it's important to realize that they are not using "population" in the non-racial sense of phrases like "California's population" or "UCLA's student population," but in the specific sense of "hereditary populations" such as the Japanese or the Icelanders or the Navajo.

Among all the different kinds of "populations," the only ones population geneticists study are the ones whose members tend to share genes because they tend to share genealogies.

That's what I'd call a "racial group." But, if you don't like the word "race," well, maybe we should just hire one of those firms that invent snazzy new names like "Exxon" for unfashionable old corporations like Standard Oil, and then hire an ad agency to publicize this new name for "race."

Unfortunately, I'm a little tapped out until the end of the month. But if you have a spare fifty million dollars, that might cover it.

The second sense in which Race is all relative: it's pointless to make absolute statements about the significance or insignificance of race. You always have to ask, "Compared to what?"

For instance, I am constantly informed that genetic differences between racial groups are absolutely insignificant because 99.9% of human genes are shared among all people. Yet we share over 98% of our genes with chimpanzees (and, supposedly, 70% with yeast). Does that mean genetic differences between humans and chimps (or yeast) are insignificant?

You have to look at it relatively. If you were planning to climb Mt. Everest and somebody were to say, "The difference between Mt. Everest and sea level is insignificant, it's just a 0.15% difference in the distance from the center of the Earth," you'd roll your eyes. But, when somebody says the same thing about genetics, it's treated as a profundity.

Similarly, we are constantly told, "there are more genetic differences within races than between races." This is, in general, true. But it hardly means that the differences between races therefore don't exist. 

65 comments:

asdfasdfasdf said...

What happened to 'parinexly'?

ben tillman said...

I liked it better when you said,

Basically, all his number-crunching has produced a map that looks about like what you'd get if you gave an unreconstructed Strom Thurmond a paper napkin and a box of crayons and had him draw a racial map of the world.

headache said...

"(By the way, I think people can be overly hard on the NYT. I suspect I have a fair amount of impact on the New York Times: with Kristof coming around recently, you can see my influence on probably three of the main op-ed columnists; plus, I notice that the New York Times Magazine, which I would think is the best magazine in America at present, refracts a lot of my ideas.)"

So when are you going to get a piece of the pie? Does it always have to be this way, that those who sell ideas ripp off the inventers? Like Einstein who ripped off David Hilbert.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the twin implications you make toward the top of the piece:

1. Harshness toward the NYT is inversely merited by the degree to which it agrees with you.

2. Any MSM writer whose ideas in any way agree with yours has read you and pilfered your ideas. There's no possibility of reading them elsewhere or independent "discovery."

Your intellectual arrogance can be annoying (though not when it's so far over the top as to be funny), but it's unmerited. Much of what you believe is, as you yourself sometimes point out, flamingly obvious.

The only reason you're the one who says it loud and clear is that others enjoy their comfy jobs.

dearieme said...

"But, if you don't like the word "race," well, maybe we should just hire one of those firms that invent snazzy new names like "Exxon" for unfashionable old corporations ..."

That remark has inspired me to come up with just such an
Esso -> Exxon suggestion.
How about race -> razza?

David said...

>Rachel Dvoskin...outraged [at someone's words]<

Quel surprise.

Henry Harpending said...

Steve there are some other honest journalists out there. I saw a baldface honest article about this kind of thing in the NY Times once by Amy Harmon. And check out Karen Kaplan at the LA Times.

Anonymous said...

BTW,

http://www.medicaldaily.com/news/20100722/480/brain-scans-may-help-guide-career-choice.htm

Will make some heads explode once it becomes obvious that the results are not race-neutral.

"Using MRI, the researchers correlated gray matter with independent ability factors (general intelligence, speed of reasoning, numerical, spatial, memory) and with individual test scores from a battery of cognitive tests completed by 40 individuals seeking vocational guidance. They found that, in general, the grey matter correlates for the broad and narrow test types were different. Speaking about the results Haier said, "A person's pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses is related to their brain structure, so there is a possibility that brain scans could provide unique information that would be helpful for vocational choice. Our current results form a basis to investigate this further."

OneSTDV said...

I dissected one of my Marks columns awhile back. He actually responded with the predictable "you're a bunch of racists" invective. I responded once again:

Response to Marks on Race and Intelligence

Followup Response to Marks

Anonymous said...

"Much of what you believe is, as you yourself sometimes point out, flamingly obvious."

Just not to most of the elite in the country.

Anonymous said...

I think your part of rendering what's repugnant completely transparent, but you're a bit suborned from transparently going all the way. For foundations, I like coordination game theory that looks at multilevel system, organizations, agents. Race has relative saliency for identity -I think the saliency is a calculation by agents about in what way it's in their interest to coordinate. Sometimes we seem the coordinating instead on gender, religion, ideology -all of which may have a behavioral genetic component separate from or not completely coordinate with race. Sometimes we see coordinations based on attractive symmetry, intelligence, or (less transparently) height or the lack thereof over race. Often times I think that may be more of a real time microsocial calculation of advantage, coordination game theory style, rather than genetically influenced specific behavior.

Coordination game theory might predict, for example, that height minorities like you Mr. Sailer might be motivated to increase majoritarian racial identity and decrease majoritarian height identity. Height majority racial minorities like Tiger Woods might be motivated to decrease racial salience.

Divorcing our public epistemology from a framework of competing and coordinating agents renders important elements obscure, just like divorcing it from insights into behavioral genetics, heritability, and human biodiversity.

Hopefully Anonymous

http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

l said...

First time tragedy, second time farce.

ricpic said...

Human biodiversity is only a thorny topic to those who worship at the altar of equality -- liberals.

Fred said...

Maybe you can flatter Dr. Marks by coming up with a new word for people who are uncomfortable with the implications of the latest research on race and genetics: Marksists.

"Any MSM writer whose ideas in any way agree with yours has read you and pilfered your ideas. There's no possibility of reading them elsewhere or independent "discovery.""

If Steve publishes his ideas on his blog before they appear in the MSM (or in another high traffic blog), then Occam's Razor suggests the MSM reporters are cribbing from Steve.

Anonymous said...

"If Steve publishes his ideas on his blog before they appear in the MSM (or in another high traffic blog), then Occam's Razor suggests the MSM reporters are cribbing from Steve."

This blog has insignificant reach. Probably no more than a few thousand people a day.

Steve Sailer said...

"This blog has insignificant reach."

The iSteve sites alone get 3 to 4 million page views per year, and the quality of readership very is high. At least two of the major NYT op-ed columnists are routine readers, and Kristof appears to be coming around.

n/a said...

Marks has explained his animus thus: When I read my students Madison Grant, and I read it angrily, my students say, "Why do you take such a personal interest in this?" And I say, well, because it was my grandparents and great-grandparents that he was trying to keep out of the United States.

Anonymous said...

“Somebody needs to get fired over it,” says Marks

So that's how the orthodoxy regards heretics these days.

Anonymous said...

Steve, what good is your reach if it doesn't change anything. If such influential people are regularly perusing your sight, and the result of that is mild, subtle presentations of your beliefs, and those presentations lead to no major change, then really, what is your influence. I'm not trying to be rude here. I just want to know, and anyone else please chime in with solid, serious answers, what will it take? What scenario do you envisage unraveling so as to fundamentally alter/destroy the current framework of debate within which racial differences are discussed?
I've read this site since the Katrina article. You've been hammering away at the same problem for quite some time, and I don't see any change at all. What good is your influence then? What good does it do if very smart and powerful people read you and essentially do nothing but privately rue 'yes, we're fu***d!- oh well'

Anonymous said...

Marks's 1995 book Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History, with its cover of DNA and Carl Linnaeus

It is pretty ironic that the structure of DNA depicted on this cover is fundamentally wrong. (Typical DNA is a right-handed helix and the cover shows a left-handed one). I wonder of J. Marks even realizes the error that makes him look completely clueless in molecular genetics.

And another nitpick: AltaVista was not a first search engine. Lycos and WebCrawler came about much earlier.

Anonymous said...

'sight' should read 'site', but then again maybe there's something to that.

liberal biorealist said...

I'd like to address one point you make, regarding the argument that, since we share 99.9% of our genes with every other human being, we simply can't be terribly different. This is part of a larger of gene-counting arguments.

Consider as compelling counterexample the potency of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome in males. The SRY gene, effectively single-handedly (by activating other genes which will not be activated if the SRY gene is not present), will turn an embryo into a male, with all the male sexual features, and will release hormones like testosterone into the brain, bringing about its masculinization.

If a single gene can achieve such broad effects as these -- among the most significant, one would think, among all biological differences between distinct members of a species -- how can gene counting be expected to tell one anything as to the range of divergences between such members?

There simply can be no such necessary relation.

Steve Sailer said...

"You've been hammering away at the same problem for quite some time, and I don't see any change at all."

Well, you have got any good laughs out of it?

Anonymous said...

Steve, is the average quality of your readership really that high? I find that hard to believe. I think you attract a few high quality readers, and hordes of little guys who are probably above average at best, although I certainly have nothing against these people. As some of the comments here have stated, part of your appeal is that you pander to an often ignored constituency, the above average white person who's become frustrated by the politics of this country and who's become aghast at the impending demographic change confronting America. For every NYT columnist you attract, I bet you attract a far greater number of little guys who are eagerly following your blog.

We should plot the IQ distribution of all of your readers... I wonder what it would look like. :)

Anonymous said...

"At least two of the major NYT op-ed columnists are routine readers"

Steve, how do you know this is true? Did you hear it (or read in an email) from the horse's mouth?

Any smart columnist or reporter these days is scanning high quality blogs. For insight and analysis (as opposed to investigative reporting or gathering of basic facts), the best specialist blogs are much better than MSM, even the NYT or Economist.

Nanonymous said...

Steve, your definition of a racial group as "an extended family that is inbred to some degree" is, biologically speaking, no better than saying race = population.
Nothing's wrong with either. The former may be more accessible, the latter is more laconic.

The American Heritage Dictionary's definition is this:
"An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies."
You may deride it as "Linnaean" but it is both biologically proper and very accessible.

Bo Koo said...

Actually Nicholas Wade's book 'Before The Dawn' got its fair share of hate from the usual suspects for his treatment of race:

http://www.gnxp.com/blog/2006/06/before-dawn-slammed-in-nature.php

Couchscientist said...

If you don't believe this site has power, I wonder how you found it. I am a high iq person who figured out that what they taught me in school about race was crap. I searched for the truth and found Rushton, et al. I thought, "Wow, now what are the policy implications of that?" I had a lot of ideas, but I wanted to see what others had thought. I found Sailer on Vdare and then got here and have followed since. I am I a person of great influence? No, if I was, I'd be scared as hell to comment. But if I found Steve that way, others did too and I am certain that there are some powerful among us. They have nowhere else to go.

For the guy wondering about Steve's effect, it will happen and one day Steve will be given some credit for it. Think about that Harvard Law girl who is now clerking with the 9th Circuit. Is she an isteve follower? I don't know, but she
certainly seemed like she knew a little about hbd, and if
she turns a circuit judge onto hbd then that could be a big
damned deal.

Finally, I must disagree with Steve about the nyt rep. Everytime my hometown paper runs an nyt story, the damned thing leaves out a critical fact. I don't know about the op-eds though

Chief Seattle said...

Steve, your Amazon donate link is down. The error is:

# Either amazonPaymentsAccountId or accessKey is required.

Above Average Little Guy said...

Well, there are about 8 NYT columnists (Dowd, Freidman, Kristoff, Brooks, Douthat, Egan, Rich, Krugman-excluding the obviously implacable) so its safe to assume that number is vastly smaller than millions of us looking-for-worker bees. My point isn't about quality versus quantity, my point is that is doesn't matter either way. Sure by definition most of Steve's readers are just normal people, but some are not, and the subjects broached herein don't seem to have any effect on their public advocations. Just take Douthat's 'White Anxiety' article. Now, I know Steve didn't directly influence Douthat's oppoisiton to Affirmative Action as currently practiced, and that Douthat was basically, meakly, supporting Pat Buchanan's position. But its the subject matter-AA-that's important. Even his begging, "maybe, please, let in more red state gentiles and the rubes won't be so angry" was met by viciously hostile comments which ignored the substance of his article. It was pure hatred. Or how about Brooks, of whom Steve once said 'I am told he is a regular reader'. Does Brooks ever use this information to good effect. Does he ever come out swinging for anything besides secrecy, 'moderacy', and the status quo? He is Mr. Status Quo. I know this is a ramble, but I was just thinking, none of this matters. It's like the elites have agreed 'great steve, you have your little corner, just as long as no one admits it's there and we don't have to actually do anything'. The tolerance of this blog is in effect a measure of its power, and power is influence, and that ain't much.


"Do you get any laughs out of it"
Yeh, and the books recommended are pretty solid too. Thanks.

kudzu bob said...

"For every NYT columnist you attract, I bet you attract a far greater number of little guys who are eagerly following your blog."

Who would have guessed that only a tiny fraction of Steve's three to four million page views per year come from New York Times columnists? Nobody here would have figured out that amazing fact without your help. Why, I myself had been under the false impression that millions of New York Times columnists read his blog every day.

When you plot that IQ graph of Steve's readers, I'm quite confident that you will be one of the outliers, yes indeed.

Chief Seattle said...

American liberals don't worship at the alter of equality. The worship at the alter of victimization. Because every victim gives the state another opportunity to step in and play Big Brother. Like auto body shops need accidents and the NAACP needs racists, American liberals need victims to keep their racket going.

If word ever got out that NAMs were largely achieving their potential, the liberals would lose a huge justification for control over the schools and the management of quotas.

Chief Seattle said...

The iSteve sites alone get 3 to 4 million page views per year, and the quality of readership very is high.

This is one of the few blogs I follow where the comments are worth reading. Always thoughtful, and once in a while a big surprise.

Black Sea said...

"Steve, is the average quality of your readership really that high?"

You ever checked out the comments section at the NY Times? Or for that matter, the electronic version of any other mass circulation newspaper. It's quite a reality check.

Steve Sailer said...

"Just take Douthat's 'White Anxiety' article. Now, I know Steve didn't directly influence Douthat's oppoisiton to Affirmative Action as currently practiced..."

How would you know that?

Anonymous said...

Marks has explained his animus thus:

In my experience, it's members of one ethnic group that still obsess over the harms caused by early 20th century immigration restrictionists.

Anonymous said...

Kudzu Bob and others, cut out the condescension. I think it was fairly obvious from the context of the post that what was meant was that for every person of the quality of say a NYT columnist, Steve attracts far larger numbers of little people.

Interpreting a statement literally is often a sign of being a little person.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sailer, are you accusing several NYTIMES writers of a kind of "soft" plagiarism?

You sorta are!

Although, you're flattered!

LOL.

kudzu bob said...

>cut out the condescension<

You first. Your intent was to belittle Steve and his readership in a passive-aggressive, "I'm just sayin'" fashion, nothing more. Too bad for you that you couldn't at least manage to do so in a way that didn't make you look like a witless tool.

Garland said...

"(By the way, I think people can be overly hard on the NYT. I suspect I have a fair amount of impact on the New York Times: with Kristof coming around recently, you can see my influence on probably three of the main op-ed columnists; plus, I notice that the New York Times Magazine, which I would think is the best magazine in America at present, refracts a lot of my ideas.)"

Can you be more specific please? You've pointed out where you've shown up in Brooks and a few other places, but it's total news to me that the Magazine refracts your ideas. Point it out to us, not to pat yourself on the back but to make us believe it's actually happening.

Conatus said...

In discussing such a rigorous definition of race, why don't people equally insist on rigor when discussing the word 'racist?'
I think the discussion should begin with everyone singing the Avenue Q musical song "Everyone's just a little bit racist" to set the stage and smother the outrage at the outset of the discussion.

Everyone's a little bit racist
Today.
So, everyone's a little bit racist
Okay!
Ethnic jokes might be uncouth,
But you laugh because
They're based on truth.
Don't take them as
Personal attacks.
Everyone enjoys them -
So relax!

Anonymous said...

Steve is cultivating a huge group of people, including NYT columnists, people in policy and government, and academics. The penalties for thoughtcrime keep most of them quiet, with only oblique references, but if the apparatus of silence weakens, they may lead to a positive feedback loop. Reduced power to tar and oppress (perhaps for genomics and neuroscience findings) lets some speak out, which encourages other to do so, and so on until too many are publicly stating the truth to suppress them all.

DavidB said...

The problem with Steve's 'definition' of race is that it maps poorly onto what we usually think of as races. Sure, East Asians, etc, count as races under the definition, but so do the inhabitants of any village that has lasted more than a few generations, so do the members of a social class, so do the adherents of a religion, or any other group of people who are moderately endogamous. It is like defining 'dog' as 'carnivorous mammal'. Dogs (in the everyday sense of the word) are indeed carnivorous mammals, but so are many other animals. If the aim of a definition is to make more precise what we usually mean by a word, then the definition is a failure. If Steve merely wants to say that races (in the everyday sense of the word) are (among other things) partly inbred extended families, I have no problem with that, but then he has not given a definition of race, and he has not resolved any of the questions we might want such a definition to answer, such as whether Hispanic Americans are a 'race'.

headache said...

Steve, is the average quality of your readership really that high?

Well, I'm a 140 but don't consider it a big deal. Having a busy schedule, I mostly gloss over normal web sites just to see what’s going on. However I always find time to read Steve's posts no matter how little time I have, even when they are long. They are both interesting and intellectually stimulating. Unlike most blogs, Steve doesn't just repeat 1 concept in 50 different ways, but keeps adding more meat as you read down. His writings have also helped me find more peace of mind.
I'm not particularly interested in HBD but I enjoy reading his articles on the subject and so far haven’t come across something I could not comprehend. The only things I don't get are his baseball and football statistics, but that's coz I live in Europe where both sports are not much played. And I don't like American Football at all.

I think Steve enjoys pricking the bubble of the establishment complete with their lies, delusions and arrogance. That's why it's so much fun to follow him. I wish he would get more recognition and money for his sterling work. And it's pathetic that MSM journos who are so full of their own ethnic superiority, whilst apparently being "non-racial", cannot keep up with Steve.

nsam said...

Another way of looking at it is that "Race" is just another "natural" category with no singly necessary feature and no jointly sufficient feature set. Almost all "natural" categories (as opposed to classical categories like geometric shapes) are inherently fuzzy. Some members are more typical than others. These members are the ones with highest average family resemblance. All of the above has been laid out in the 70s (the original work came out of Berkeley; google Eleanor Rosch) and supported using behavioral data on human understanding of natural categories (and it appears that humans also treat classical categories as natural.. that is some triangles are more typical than others and so on).

MQ said...

"An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits.

Is this really the dictionary definition of "race"? It seems quite sensible to me -- captures the benefits of Steve's definition while avoiding the various straw man critiques of the race-doesn't-exist crowd.

I don't think this site has anywhere near 3 to 4 million readers. Per the various tracking sites, this blog has about 20 thousand unique visitors per month. You can also tell because the number of comments is so limited. A site with millions of readers would have hundreds and hundreds of comments on each post.

Peter Frost said...

"... 99.9% of human genes are shared among all people. Yet we share over 98% of our genes with chimpanzees (and, supposedly, 70% with yeast)."

Steve, those figures are for functional nucleic acid sequences, not for genes (which are very long strings of nucleic acids). No one knows how many genes are the same in all humans, but the figure is certainly much lower than 99.9%.

In theory, each and every human gene could vary by 0.1% among humans, and a 0.1% difference in nucleic acid sequences can make a big difference in the way a gene functions.

Anonymous said...

Nicholas Wade knows his readers are illiterate when it comes to really understanding evolution. He admitted as much to me, a nobody, who emailed from the NYT website.


email from me:

READER'S MESSAGE:
I read the article on human culture and evolution. Then I read the comments. Wow. I think I read a total of five that reflected an actual understanding of evolution. Finally, the last comment #123 made sense. Please read comment #123.

reply from N. Wade:


Thanks for your note and for pointing out comment #123. I agree it's surprising that so many of the comments are off track.

Best regards,

Nicholas Wade

Kylie said...

Anonymous said..."what was meant was that for every person of the quality of say a NYT columnist, Steve attracts far larger numbers of little people."

Interpreting a statement literally is often a sign of being a little person."

So is paying taxes, Leona.

Svigor said...

The tolerance of this blog is in effect a measure of its power, and power is influence, and that ain't much.

How is the tolerance of this blog a measure of its power? If the elite "stop tolerating" (scare-quoted because I don't quite know what that would entail) this blog, it runs the risk of empowering it. If the elite condemn this blog, they advertise for it.

The leakage of public deliberation out of the approved channels and into private hands is not good for the MSM or the powers that be. The democratization of information and discourse is not a good thing for the MSM or TPTB. Their studied ignorance of the leakage is not a sign of their strength, but of their conundrum; it's simply the best of the unappealing options open to them.

"First they ignore you"...

Anonymous said...

> We should plot the IQ distribution of all of your readers

For what it is worth, I am a reader from the Broad Institute, and I know that Steve has fans at most of the major genome centers.

Also, for those who ask what has changed, among the genomics community it is pretty hard to say "race is a total illusion" nowadays with a straight face, when papers like John Novembre's manuscript (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v456/n7218/full/nature07331.html) are making Nature on a regular basis. Seems every study these days has a PCA scatterplot with color-coded ethnic groups.

It takes a while for this kind of stuff to diffuse out given how entrenched societal resistance is. Look at the recent demonization of the direct-to-consumer genetics companies to see how hard people will fight even the most unobjectionable stuff.

Still, in the end, the truth will out if only because the US government and the mainstream media will financially collapse within our lifetimes. As they fall, the haze of propaganda will begin to lift as the budget just won't be there anymore. It takes a great deal of money to produce all that MTV and NYT propaganda.

Gc said...

Headache, Einstein didn`t probably ripp of Hilbert. This is what I remember reading. Einstein explained his theory to Hilbert, who figured out the correct equations for Genaral relativity fast. Einstein published those same equations two weeks later. The idea of the theory was Einsteins, but I am not sure did he actually figure out the equations independently or just claimed so. Anyway the physical ideas were solely Einsteins, so Hilbert didn`t rise any fuss.
Who Einstein certainly did ripp of was Poincare ten years earlier. He didn`t cite Poincare at all in his classic paper. Poincare came very close for developing special relativity but couldn`t go to the counter intuitive end, and it is known that Einstein read Poincare`s relevant works very carefully.

Anonymous said...

> harms caused by early 20th century immigration restrictionists.

Were they all harms, though? On balance would America be better or worse off if Marks' parents had been kept out?

Marc B said...

Having grown up in the post-hippie era (1970's-1980's), I am shocked at this crop of post-modern liberals stifling discussion on topics that distress them. What ever happened to reasonable and intelligent discourse? The manner in which they go out of their way to declare consensus the exact moment PC dogma makes those opinions orthodoxy only amplifies their cowardice.

The hereditarian/HBD/evolutionary bio-psych positions gain validity with every study done on identical twins separated at birth. Mental and emotional characteristics are shown time after time with these subjects to determined in the womb, and their life experience influences them based on their inborn temperament, intelligence, and social style.

Anonymous said...

"I am shocked at this crop of post-modern liberals stifling discussion on topics that distress them."


The short answer is that they aren't liberals.

They aren't free thinkers or skeptics of any sort. They are the new establishment. Now that they are on top, they don't want to be challenged. Same paradigm, new group with its own indefensible false premises. One of the privileges of being the establishment is that you get to invoke your own indefensible premises as absolute truth. Like any other group, they will eventually fall. It will be nasty, and they will be discredited. It just takes time.

Anonymous said...

Were they all harms, though? On balance would America be better or worse off if Marks' parents had been kept out?

You're right, I should have said perceived harms.

Above Average Little Guy said...

'How would you know that?'
I don't. I'm also not sure if there is a difference between your AA position and PB's. Sloppy, my bad.

'stop tolerating'
I mean if they try to shut down this blog. I was thinking about what happened to Mangan's blog. Do you think it's impossible that such a thing could happen to this one?

John said...

If you don't believe this site has power, I wonder how you found it. I am a high iq person who figured out that what they taught me in school about race was crap.

I'd say this site is most beneficial to high IQ types. This is because they usually make enough money to be removed from the realities of diversity. The lower IQ whites have a much more realistic view of race. They experience it daily.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think this site has anywhere near 3 to 4 million readers. Per the various tracking sites, this blog has about 20 thousand unique visitors per month."

Steve's claim was 3 to 4 million page views, not visitors, per year. That's quite compatible with 20 thousand unique visitors per month.

Nanonymous said...

Is this really the dictionary definition of "race"?

Yes, it really is. One of the dictionaries anyway.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/race - scroll down to "5. Biology"

This definition is actually better than most proposed by various giants of genetics.

Svigor said...

'stop tolerating'
I mean if they try to shut down this blog. I was thinking about what happened to Mangan's blog. Do you think it's impossible that such a thing could happen to this one?


Ah, you mean a quick dagger in a dark alley. Did it work on Dennis? Even if it had, would it have stuck? Dennis and Steve are smart enough to find new URLs I think.

(P.S., doesn't your logic imply Mangan is more powerful than Sailer?)

Anonymous said...

Some comments here assert that Mr. Sailer's work is not accomplishing much. In a sense, I despair that it may be accomplishing a great deal but in a way none of us would wish--namely, a huge amount of reticent awareness and a very very large amount of "whispering" that may all be doomed to outpour into a s-t-o-r-m of sudden political acknowledgement incompatible with reasoned open debate and persuasion
and in a way alien to the process of consensus. A broad pendulum swing would be no progress in AMERICA. But the responsibility for it would rest with those who have carried out repression and suppression of science and of the honest reporting of the findings.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I think you are beginning to have a huge impact. Lately, when I read a topic you post, undoubtedly it will pop up somewhere in the NYT. Even if its just Brooks' or Douthat's columns, its still getting enormous play. Certainly, Saletan at Slate and several at the Atlantic follow you regularly and mimic your posts.

Anonymous said...

why not:)

jaakkeli said...

"It is pretty ironic that the structure of DNA depicted on this cover is fundamentally wrong. (Typical DNA is a right-handed helix and the cover shows a left-handed one). I wonder of J. Marks even realizes the error that makes him look completely clueless in molecular genetics."

Actually, that just makes you sound clueless about publishing.

The people who write books rarely make the covers and even the title usually gets chosen by some marketing type. The author of the average book is just going to feel lucky if the marketing types and artists manage to pick something that's actually related to the contents...