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Get old – get racist

An American scientist, William von Hippel has an explanation for racism. Well, a theory of why elderly people are more likely to be prejudiced than young people. And if his research is right, it’s not just because they grew up in a different era, because Blair’s Britain is a sink pit of immigrant crime, or because old people are brave enough to fly in the face of political correctness. Mary Wakefield explains in today’s Telegraph that a bit of their brain is missing:

According to von Hippel and other psychologists working in the same field, whatever age we are, our immediate thoughts are formed by cultural stereotypes. This means we instinctively think inappropriate and unfriendly things about each other.

For a highly social species, the ability to keep these thoughts to oneself is crucial, so we have developed a special part of our brains – a mesh of connections between the prefrontal lobes and the limbic system – to inhibit and temper them.

Where von Hippel’s research is new is in suggesting that older people’s brains often suffer the same sort of damage. They become prejudiced because they lack the power to inhibit the stereotypes that form our instinctive thoughts.

The gap in their brain releases stereotypes and they naturally infer that they are doing it on purpose.

I have no idea whether the theory will hold up to further scientific scrutiny. I also do not like the implication that older people’s opinions and behaviour are somehow not results of their rational discourse but determined by a neurological phenomenon. Nevetheless it is an interesting article that caught my attention and so it appears here without any firm conclusions from me as to its goodness or badness. If true, it has highlighted the importance of stereotyping and unexamined prejudices. Get your opinions in order before you are disconnected from them and begin to embarass your offspring.

Of course, this means that there could be a psychological metacontext.

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50 comments to Get old – get racist

  • Anthony

    So does this mean that when committed “New Labor” types reach their dottering 90’s, all inhibitions will vanish, and they’ll talk like Joesph Stalin?

  • Ha, my grandfather can be bullshitting in some levels about the world against him, but he is otherwise mentally sharp–sharper than half of my class who have “racist” notions by labelling each other racist, and being blithering idiots. Now science is getting politicised.
    I like your little gif..

  • Bernie Greene

    Gabriel:
    I think you are on safe, though not “scientific consensus”, ground in doubting opinions and behaviour are determined by neurological phenomena. Perish the synaptic gap.

    Celcile:
    “Now science is getting politicised.” Has psychology ever been anything else?

  • Rebecca

    Well, I don’t know about the racism bit, but I have observed for a number of decades that people past a certain age seem to acquire the trait of saying anything they damn well like. Maybe it’s a glitch in brain function. Or, since I am almost there myself, maybe it’s that once you survive to an age, you decide you’re just tired of keeping things to yourself, and what can anybody do to you that hasn’t already been done anyway, so you might as well have your say before you buy the farm. I’m just saying.

  • Julian Morrison

    This sort of “brain based” answers make me think of the mediaevals and their “demons of [insert vice here]”. It’s just a sciencey way of ducking blame.

  • I think Rebecca is closer to the mark. As we get older we tend to shed inhibitions and become far less mindful of consequences. Older people can be ‘shocking’ in a way that young people would find mortally embarrassing.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone suddenly develops racist attitudes at 65.

  • Millie Woods

    This chappy has as much cred as the journos who write horoscopes. I know the type having spent my career in the groves of academe. Psychology is not science. What is presented here is one man’s theory and proof for it will never be forthcoming because it’s a load of codswallop. Furthermore, von what’s his name seems to have a very dim view of the human race. Santa should have given him a nice loving doggie for Christmas.

  • I agree with Rebecca and David. At some point we just stop caring what other people think and voice the real opinion we’d had all along because the end is quite possibly near.

    Why not just go ahead and say it? I certainly want to be there when it happens.

    My great-aunt terribly upset our family by announcing to her particularly dim great-grandson, “You couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel.”

    Everyone was shocked. I’m still laughing. I loved that woman. Of course, I’ve always preferred the company of the elderly. They crack me up and they’ve learned more than I’ll ever remember.

  • I, too, tend to agree with Rebecca and David. The older people get, the less they care what anyone thinks of them — I’ve lost count of the number of middle-aged females who have told me that this is probably the best thing about getting older: ceasing to give a crap.

    My father’s theory, based on a low level hatred of the elderly (especially their driving), is that old people “all think somebody owes them something just for living this long”. That’s why, he says, they drive as if they expect everyone to clear a path for them wherever they choose to go. I think his logic is off, but it amuses me anyway.

  • ernest young

    It isn’t just that we don’t give a crap – although that really is the fun bit, but having been around the block quite a few times, we get to know just what works and what doesn’t, I think it’s called experience.

    Not that we pretend to know it all, we just know what works for us.

    Psychologists – who needs ’em! take away their prescription pads and they are lost.

  • Charles Copeland

    Gabriel Syme writes that if there is truth in the claim that older people are more biased than the young because of some form of age-related cognitive deficiency, then the claim “has highlighted the importance of stereotyping and unexamined prejudices” as an ageing factor.

    But stereotyping and ‘unexamined’ prejudices are hardly confined to the geriatrics alone. A prejudice is a belief based on a false conception of reality; since – up to a certain point – young people are less well informed than older people (at least before senescence sets in and wipes out all those gigabytes of data one has stored in one’s brain) it is quite possible that young people may be more prejudiced than their elders; they are simply less well informed and, besides, they may have been ideologically indoctrinated at school by left-wing arseholes. In fact, as people grow older they may tend to replace their prejudices by ‘postjudices’, i.e. they may discard the chauvinistic and partisan mindset of persons in their formative years (i.e. the under-40s). A ‘postjudice’ is a judgment based on knowledge; a ‘prejudice’ is a judgement based on ignorance. Hence, the more ignorant and younger you are, the more prejudiced you are likely to be.

    For example, many young people whom I know myself are highly prejudiced as a result of their ignorance and miseducation. Unfamiliar with the course of history and uninformed as to the way of the world, they are liable to believe all kinds of ridiculous things, such as the claim that Sub-Saharan Africans are equal in intelligence to Ashkenazi Jews or the Chinese, or that if there is any difference between races it is not ‘in the genes’, or that there is ‘no such thing as race’.

    This widespread egalitarian prejudice can have disastrous consequences, such as futile endeavours to impose self-government on countries in which blacks constitute the majority. The result – inevitably – is that such countries eventually degenerate into blood, chaos and the celebration of inter-racial pogroms. The best example is probably the hellhole Haiti, which has been independent for exactly 200 years and has now completely reverted to type. South Africa is another, the most recent example of what can best be called a basket case under construction and nearing completion.

    Prejudiced young people may simply fail to understand that the last half-sloshed white Rhodesian farmer to leave the saloon bar is almost always right, that almost every cliché about blacks is based on knowledge, not ignorance – however hurtful and unkind it may be to admit this in the company of members of the educated black elite. Young people may even be so prejudiced as to believe that blacks are ‘under-represented’ in higher education because of ‘institutional racism’ in the school system. Young people may be so prejudiced that they will be embarrassed when somebody at the Nineteenth Hole says “you can take a black out of the jungle but you can’t take the jungle out of the black” – which, statistically speaking, is not so much a truth as a truism.

    Young people may be so prejudiced that they do not even understand the meaning of the word ‘racism’ and confuse it with ‘race realism’. Strictly speaking, racism means persecuting persons because of their racial origins (examples of such persecution include the Nazis’ Aryan affirmative action policy, which persecuted Jews, and the US’s affirmative action policy, which (mildly) persecutes Caucasians, Jews and Asians). ‘Racism’ in that sense is unjust. On the other hand, ‘race realism’, as opposed to ‘racism’, means examining the world as it is, facing the empirical reality of racial differences, and shedding the egalitarian pipe dreams of one’s youth. And as Lawrence Auster recently put it in ‘View from the Right’, race realists recognise “the conservative insight that there are certain natural facts about race differences that we cannot change, just as there are certain natural facts about sex differences that we cannot change”.

    I hope this posting has been of interest to prejudiced young Samizdatarians. Do not hesitate to ask for further advice as to how to shed your racial stereotypes. Right-Wing Bastard that I am, I am always willing to give a helping hand to the ignorant and ill-informed.

  • Charles may like to read the various discussions about IQ and race made by Eric Raymond..

    As for the age thing. It seems to me that the old saw about everyone under 30 is a socialist if he has a heart and everyone over 30 is a conservative if he has a brain has a lot of truth in it. People talk abot the Idealism of Youth and the Cynicism of Age and I think ther eis a lot of truth in that. Younger people believe they can chaneg the world to be the way they think it shoulkd be. Older people think that change usually means things get worseand so prefer to support the status quo. Of course these are generalizations but given the number of proverbs such as “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” it seems likely to be a generalization that is holds true most of the time

  • Verity

    Francis “… anyone under 30 who’s not a socialist…” blah blah is absolute rubbish. I have always thought socialists were posturing, dangerous phonies. I never went through a phase of wanting to teach the world to sing in perfect harmoneee.

    Lana – your great aunt sounds like a pistol. In fact, come to think of it, most pistols speak their own minds and it’s seldom to advocate socialism.

    I also agree with Rebecca, and also with Charles (!) when he says the young and inexperienced are terribly prejudiced and mightily judgemental.

  • Andrew Duffin

    The whole thing looks a bit Stalinist to me.

    Isn’t it just another variation on “You disagree with us, therefore you must be insane”?

  • Charles is not just spouting drivel, but doing so at great length again I see. I am sure the Romans, looking back at Britain a few years after they abandoned it to its fate as their Empire contracted, would have shook their heads sadly at the crumbling aquaducts and disintergrating infrastructure and concluded that, had they had an understanding of genes, it was just that those foolish Britons are just, well, born stupid. Like Charles, it would have been the Romans who were ignorant and ill informed to draw that conclusion.

  • Charles Copeland

    Dear Perry,
    Thank you for seeking Right-Wing Bastard’s advice and for providing a shining example of politically correct, egalitarian bias on that hoary and narcolepsy-inducing subject – race. You question my race realist conclusions on the grounds that the Roman abandonment of Britain did not lead to the decay of civilisation for all time – if I understand you rightly what you mean is that eventually the Brits, the Jutes, the Danes and the Normans got their act together and created an even more advanced civilisation than the one the Romans had put in place and then deserted. True enough. But it took approximately a thousand years for the recovery to take place. After the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Britain and Europe in general did in fact experience what are known as the ‘Dark Ages’. The fall of the Roman Empire saw a decline in intelligence, culture and civilisation which lasted the best part of a millennium. The Romans, if they speculated as you suggest, basically got it right. They left Britain and the barbarians took over. Not for ever, but for a long time.

    So who is ‘spouting drivel’? My Nineteenth Hole thesis is pretty straightforward: many so-called racist views are based not on ‘prejudice’ but on everyday experience and common sense. Though as George Orwell famously said: to see what is in front of one’s nose requires a constant struggle.

    If it waddles like a gangsta rapper, quacks like a gangsta rapper, and sticks its finger up its bum like a gangsta rapper, then it probably is a gangsta rapper. Africa acts like a gangsta rapper because it is a gangsta rapper. I wish that I were wrong, but I fear that I am not. At any rate, I would highly welcome any evidential proof to the effect that I am mistaken.

  • Von Hippel’s basic notion is anodyne. He has taken the commonly accepted fact that the elderly can seem cranky and he has grafted on the issue of racism. In so doing, he relies upon the entrenched, marxist-egalitarian racial agenda we all know and love … white cognition of other non-whites is always prejudice, stereotyping and, of course, racism … suppression, therefore, is right and just … the outspoken elderly are flawed and not to be accorded respect. In short, we are all guilty.

    Von Hippel seems to be a fine example of the Hienz Kiosk type that flourishes in psychology, as in academia in general. Given that Telegraph newspapers published Michael Wharton’s “Peter Simple” column for so many years I am puzzled that no one there made the obvious connection in von Hippel’s case, and pulled this article.

  • I hesitate to even dignify your typically self satisfied fascist crap with a reply. One need not look further than the white trash who grace the floor in a typical Jerry Springer Show to realise that race is a canard that attracts small minds incapable of seeing that idiocy and cultural inanity is completely colour blind. I have spent a great deal of time in Africa and find their idiots little different to the ones I have met in Asia, America or Europe.

  • Dan McWiggins

    Perry,

    I, too, have spent a great deal of time in Africa, mostly on the west side. Charles did raise an interesting and legitimate question and you’ve evaded it. If all peoples and races are equal, why then, on the entire face of the globe, is there no country with a black majority that is decently governed?

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, incidentally. I’m just commenting on what appears to be a very real, and very problematic, deficiency.
    I hope you can find time to answer this question because I’ve heard the twaddle from the left about it and I find it unconvincing. I’m looking forward to seeing how someone from the right, with apparently the same belief, justifies it.

  • Bernie Greene

    “If all peoples and races are equal, why then, on the entire face of the globe, is there no country with a black majority that is decently governed?”

    First let’s see if we can find one country with any kind of majority that is decently governed.

  • Pardon my bluntness, but this ‘theory’ is total pigshit. I mean: “The gap in their brain releases stereotypes…” WTF? I’ve heard of brains releasing endorphins and serotonin, but stereotypes?

    So now we know why people read the Guardian and vote Labour. Their brains work.

    Sheesh.

  • Disingenuous, Bernie. Dan’s question begs an honest answer from Perry, and not one sliding off into the libertarian shortcomings of the State. I fear that no such honesty will be forthcoming, though. Both of Perry’s comments on this thread have been disappointingly insulting, indeed of the style one expects from a cornered marxist.

    In truth, it might be judicious for Perry to duck out here. Should he not do so and offer a fight, there’s a long line of very difficult questions coming along behind. The left hasn’t been able to answer them for the last twenty years and I am sure Perry won’t now.

  • Doug Collins

    Dan-
    Bernie Greene’s comment above is on target, so I won’t try to give you a country governed well by a black majority any more than I will try to give you a white or yellow one. More to the point, though, is an observation that has been made by Joseph Sobran in connection with blacks in America and the idea that they are held back by a prejudice against the color of their skins. He noted that West Indian blacks who have immigrated to America have a per capita income higher than whites, while blacks who have been here all along do not. Since the West Indian and non immigrant blacks both have the same basic genetic stock, this applies equally to genetics as to prejudice.

    Also, on the subject of West Indians, I believe some of the Caribbean countries are quite pleasant.

  • Doug Collins

    Guessedworker-
    I don’t find Bernies comment disingenuous at all. Would you care to give an example of a country with a white majority that is decently governed? I and, I suspect many other commenters here, stand ready to shoot your example down.

  • Charles Copeland

    Perry,

    I know Samizdata is your party and you can cry when you want to – but you are only embarrassing yourself when you start acting the revolting student and denigrate Guessedworker’s insightful posting as ‘self-satisfied fascist crap’. Of course the world is full of ‘white trash’ – it’s just that the percentage of whites who belong to that category is considerably lower than the percentage of blacks. I’d say it’s a ratio of one to five, if we extrapolate from the ratio of white to black crime as a rule of thumb. In the UK, for example, black mugging is almost a dog-bites-man affair and certainly not headlines news – though if a white were ever to mug a black, we can be sure it would be on the front page of The Guardian and The Independent (‘The ugly face of racist Britain’, etc.). Put it like this: when you meet a young man on the street at night, the likelihood that he will mug you is at least five times higher if he has a black face than if he has a white face. Of course there are certain categories of crime where blacks may be ‘underrepresented’, such as fraud – but that it because certain crimes require cognitive skills which are lacking in the black community. But on the whole, blacks and violence go together like a horse and carriage. You can’t have one without the other.

    And, yes, all this is boring old hat. Believe me, I am doing you a service – I feel like some jaded old crammer trying to drum a few basic facts into the heads of recalcitrant, imperceptive schoolchildren. I could be curled up in my den reading Monica Ali’s brilliant ‘Brick Lane’ for the second time but no – I sacrifice my leisure time by trying to cure self-styled libertarians of their egalitarian stereotypes and prejudices.

    You write that “race is a canard that attracts small minds”. Well, here are a number of citations from those “small minds” who were so attracted to the subject. The first is the great British scientist T.H. Huxley, writing as far back as 1865. His words are, if anything, truer today than they were then:

    “It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest.” More here.

    The second “small mind” is Sir Francis Galton, who had quite a bright idea in 1873 which he expressed in a letter to The Times (“Africa for the Chinese”):

    “My proposal is to make the encouragement of the Chinese settlements at one or more suitable places on the East Coast of Africa a par of our national policy […]. I should expect the large part of the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by lazy, palavering savages living under the nominal sovereignty of the Zanzibar, or Portugal, might in a few years be tenanted by industrious, order loving Chinese, living either as a semi-detached dependency of China, or else in perfect freedom under their own law. In the latter case their would be similar to that of the inhabitants of Liberia, in West Africa, the territory which was purchased 50 years ago and set apart as an independent State for the reception of freed negroes from America.” Continued here.

    Though no doubt if Huxley or Galton were to pen such texts today, they would be charged with incitement to racial hatred. And Michael Howard and company would grovel and brownnose as only the Conservatives can.

    But now it’s back to Brick Lane.

  • Anthony

    “If it waddles like a gangsta rapper, quacks like a gangsta rapper, and sticks its finger up its bum like a gangsta rapper, then it probably is a gangsta rapper. Africa acts like a gangsta rapper because it is a gangsta rapper. I wish that I were wrong, but I fear that I am not. At any rate, I would highly welcome any evidential proof to the effect that I am mistaken.”

    I don’t mind showing you to be mistaken at all, provided you allow me to go about it somewhat lazily.

    It’s commonly believed that:

    1. Black people are inferior in school to whites.

    2. White people are inferior in school (at least mathematically) to Asians, but superior to blacks–hence the nonsense talk of yesteryear that Asians were “inscrutable”.

    Now consider the results of this study, where I found it discussed the other day at http://www.volokh.com:

    “In the survey by Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University social scientist, published in his 1996 book, “Beyond the Classroom,” most of the black and Hispanic students surveyed said they could avoid trouble at home as long as their grades stayed above C-minus.

    Most of the whites, by contrast, said their parents would give them a hard time if their children came home with anything less than a B-minus.

    By contrast, most of the Asian students, whether immigrant or native-born, said that their parents would be upset if they brought home anything less than an A-minus.”

    What does this prove? That if this research is sound, you are guilty of making injurious claims about Africans without at least considering more plausible theories. Note that it isn’t necessary for the theory cited to be correct for you be guilty as charged. More plausible theories than yours exist.

    Another (lazy) example:

    Mugabe’s country is a disaster. Mugabe’s intellectual forbears were Marxist. Last time I looked, Marx was this white guy. On your way of seeing things, Zimbabwe is a mess because Mugabe is black. I think it’s more obvious that Zimbabwe is a mess because Mugabe gets his violent inspiration from Marxism.

    Love and kisses–whoops. Excuse my stereotypical behavior.

  • Charles Copeland

    Anthony,
    The findings you refer to beg the question. WHY do the parents of black children (if they have any) care so little about their kids’ school results? WHY do Asian parents care so much? WHY do white parents lie somewhere between the two extremes? If there’s anything that’s more ‘injurious’ to blacks than drawing attention to their cognitive problems it’s claiming that it’s their mum and dad that fuck them up rather than cruel nature itself. Their mum and dad (when the latter exists, or is traceable) don’t care much about their children’s school results because under a certain intelligence level parents don’t even understand why school results might possibly be important in life. Perhaps their parents believe that money grows on trees – don’t ask me. As one’s mother might say: they know no better. They know no better because they lack the brains to do so. Nobody’s fault – it’s just the way things are. To put it bluntly: Darwinian natural selection in Africa favoured people who could run fast, whereas in Europe and Asia it favoured people who could think fast. That is the most plausible theory, the Occam’s razor theory, the default position. The burden of proof lies with you, not me. Human biodiversity is a fact of life that can’t be wished away by blaming black children’s parents for being the way nature made them.

    And now it’s back to that great board game I’ve been playing with my kids — ‘Ghettopoly’. “You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50 from each playa.” More here.

  • Doug Collins

    Charles Copeland-

    You could fool a lot more people if your venom were not so evident. As it is, you provide your own best counterexample.

    By the way, how does it feel to be inferior to the Asians? It’s not your fault -it’s just the way things are.

  • Joel Hammer

    Maybe old folks seem biased because they are acting on experience, not on the nonsense they teach in school. Young people in Arabic lands are raised to hate and stereotype, and hate and stererotype they do. I suspect older people in Araby are more, not less, tolerant than many of the young people.

    The world is full of unpleasant truths. Old people have come to recognize them. The youth have a lot to learn. Old people seemed “biased” for the same reason that realists are seen as cynics by the idealists.

    BTW, have you ever wondered where the white people in Haiti went? Do some research. It might surprise you. The Asians expelled from Uganda and the whites kicked off their farms in Zimbawe were lucky.

    BTW, I don’t feel inferior to “Asians.” If anybody has an inferiority complex, it’s the Asians. Intelligence and education don’t necessarily raise self esteem. Young blacks in the USA have higher self esteem than young whites. This recent discovery confunded our social scientists, who were using low self esteem to account for the social pathologies found in the black population. Like Cassius Clay said when he failed the Army IQ test, “I said I was the greatest, not the smartest.”

    Joel

  • Julian Morrison

    Charles Copeland: making up darwinian “just so stories” is not the occam’s razor hypothesis. You could just have easily have pitted Thag the dull witted eurocaveman, who makes his living scaring mammoth off cliffs, against Ajani, the bright eyed african youth, eternally at war with the beast-infested veldt.

    Just-so stories prove authorial talent, at best.

  • Hello Doug,

    I’ve found Bernie’s interventions in the past to be adroit. This one, though, is so preposterous I don’t think he really believes it himself – hence mt charge of disingenuousness. But please allow me to expand on it.

    Dan contrasted the nature of government generally in sub-Saharan Africa with that in the white world. I take this to mean that efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, representativeness, consitutionality etc are, whilst imperfect, at least debateable issues in the west. They exist as significant qualities of western political life. No one in their right mind would claim that to be so in the customary African strong-man kleptocracy. However, I am waiting to be enlightened by Perry’s wise and words to the contrary.

    Now, Bernie castigated all government – a popular position with libertarians for sure. But lumping everything together in this way is, as I have said, utterly preposterous. It leaves no space for the rather large distinction that Dan described. One is bound to ask what interest Bernie has in muddying the waters in this way.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    I think we’re hard wired for racism; that those who were not quickly suspicious of persons outside their tribe disappeared, to a large extent, from the gene pool. If you say you’re not a racist, you’re probably in denial.

  • Anthony

    Charles wrote:

    “Darwinian natural selection in Africa favoured people who could run fast, whereas in Europe and Asia it favoured people who could think fast. That is the most plausible theory, the Occam’s razor theory, the default position. The burden of proof lies with you, not me. Human biodiversity is a fact of life that can’t be wished away by blaming black children’s parents for being the way nature made them.”

    You’re making a series of mistakes evolutionary biologists have been warning against for some time.

    Your first mistake is a genetic determinism that no biologist today adheres to–all of them recognize an interaction between biology and culture.

    The second mistake is to confuse genetic variation in individuals with statistical racial differences, which may not exist.
    Traditional racial divisions and genetic variations across populations are very different things. While no scientist disputes that genetic variation exists among individuals, the basis for cognitive ability is universal in human beings, while traditional racial divisions are social and arbitrary.

    Since human traits don’t vary significantly, traditional racial distinctions aren’t really justified.
    In a time when most research points to dispensing with them, the burden of proof really does fall on you to explain why traditional racial distinctions should be retained.

    The following two links are typical:

    http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/primer.html

    http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/184.html

  • Doug Collins

    Hello Guessedworker-

    The more I have thought about it, the less impressed with Dan’s question I have become – (“If all peoples and races are equal, why then, on the entire face of the globe, is there no country with a black majority that is decently governed?”). At first, because of the carnage in Africa, it does seem to indicate ‘indecency’ there in governing.

    Bernie made his point rather simply, but I don’t think it is merely libertarian posturing. If the question is to be answered seriously, a little definition of terms is in order first.

    What does “decently governed” mean? You said: “that efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, representativeness, consitutionality etc are, whilst imperfect, at least debateable issues in the west.” Should we demand all of them? three out of five? For how long? Frankly, if you demand a reasonable period -long enough to include some periods of stress- most Western governments don’t look that good. Over the last 200 or so years we have in most countries murdered large numbers of citizens or subjects (starved Irish, Kulaks and Cherokees; exterminated Argentine Indians, massive numbers of people liquidated for ideological and social reasons, various uses of terror to control populations in most Western countries eg. Sherman’s economic war to break the South). If you expand your time frame beyond the last few years, for we are talking genetics here – not current events, there is enough non-Black indecency to justify a libertarian posture without even including the wholesale murder of German, Soviet and Chinese governments in the last century. In fact, if you allow three out of five, the Nazis scored pretty high on efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

    Furthermore, to be fair, you should compare societies at similar levels of development. For all the politically correct propaganda about the “ancient Kingdom of Zimbabwe”, most of Africa at the time of European conquest was at approximately the level of Europe at the time of the Goths and Celts. The Goths and Celts had the relatively good luck to be conquered by Romans who left much of their culture intact and set up a functioning society. The unfortunate Africans were simply strip mined, both of their resources and their social structure. If the US is criticized for leaving Afganistan to sink into barbarism the first time around after the Soviet collapse, how much more criticizm can be leveled at the Europeans who used ‘self determination’ as a convenient excuse to wash their hands of Africa after destroying what governing tradition they may have originally had. After Rome collapsed, Europe had the Dark Ages. Do you want that as the representative specimen of white “decent governing”?

    I noticed that Dan said the entire face of the globe, not merely Africa, around which this discussion has centered. I have no first hand knowledge, so someone may quickly correct me, but I am under the impression that the Bahamas have many of the qualifications that you mentioned for decency. Admittedly they have not had two hundred years of track record yet, but they seem to have started well.

  • And speaking of racism, Charles.

    If there’s anything that’s more ‘injurious’ to blacks than drawing attention to their cognitive problems it’s claiming that it’s their mum and dad that fuck them up rather than cruel nature itself.

    Shhhh. Let’s just keep it a secret from them, shall we? They’ve been so ignorant as to be unaware of the issue so far, right? How dare we actually draw attention to the fact that they are not being educated in the schools in a satisfactory manner and attempt to solve the problem. I’d say the worst thing we could do is keep the fiasco a secret, but I’m just an optimistic fool who believes the problem can and will be solved as long as we keep shining the spotlight on it and demanding a change.

    And I’ve seen proof parents can and do screw kids over day after dreary day. Happens all the time. It does not, however, preclude the child’s sucess.

    Their mum and dad (when the latter exists, or is traceable) don’t care much about their children’s school results because under a certain intelligence level parents don’t even understand why school results might possibly be important in life. Perhaps their parents believe that money grows on trees – don’t ask me. As one’s mother might say: they know no better. They know no better because they lack the brains to do so. Nobody’s fault – it’s just the way things are. To put it bluntly: Darwinian natural selection in Africa favoured people who could run fast, whereas in Europe and Asia it favoured people who could think fast. That is the most plausible theory, the Occam’s razor theory, the default position. The burden of proof lies with you, not me. Human biodiversity is a fact of life that can’t be wished away by blaming black children’s parents for being the way nature made them.

    Basically it’s all biology and their parents are too stupid or oblivious to get it. They must be busy running track. Puleeze!

  • Charles Copeland

    Julian Morrison writes:

    “[M]aking up Darwinian “just so stories” is not the Occam’s razor hypothesis. You could just have easily have pitted Thag the dull witted Eurocaveman, who makes his living scaring mammoth off cliffs, against Ajani, the bright eyed African youth, eternally at war with the beast-infested veldt.”

    I admit there is a point to the ‘just so stories’ hypothesis – what Julian is trying to point out, I think, is that if in a counterfactual world we had high-IQ Africans who invented civilisation and low-IQ Europeans swinging from tree to tree with bones in their noses, then we would try to think up some explanation like the examples Julian gave: Europeans are dull-witted because anybody can kill a mammoth, Africans are smart because otherwise they wouldn’t survive the veldt.

    But what better alternative explanation is there in the real world, where Africans are in fact less intelligent and more criminal than Europeans? There must be some reason, and if it’s not Darwinian natural selection, what is it? Perhaps it is a just-so story I’ve told in the sense that the reasons behind the IQ and criminality gap might just possibly be some random genetic mutation that occurred in an ancestral African or European tribe 20 thousand years ago. But even that is basically an evolutionary hypothesis. At any rate, there has to be some cause (or combination of causes).

    What do you suggest? Now tell me your just-so story!

  • Morning Doug,

    I can’t deal adequately with all the points you raise. So I’ll leave Adolf and old Uncle Joe til another time. However, on other matters:-

    First, black Africa was not at the developmental level of north Europeans at the time of the Celts and Goths. Blacks never domesticated animals, never invented the wheel.

    Second, your model of cultural transmission is too simplistic. Differentials in cultural advancement between contact-populations do not automatically produce progress in the lesser culture. Fertile intellectual and creative capacities must be present in the latter – and, in the case of northern Europe, were so in abundance.

    Furthermore, the comparison between the governing Roman elite in northern Europe and their surrounding populations is not straightforward. The average intelligence quotas of the Roman elite would have been much higher (by at least two standard deviations) than those of the surrounding populations. But the average IQ for Rome itself might have been little different from northern Europeans’. Yet the greatness of Rome existed and so did the backwardness of northern Europe. The difference, then, was less of general capacity than utilisation.

    The problem with Africa is very largely one of capacity. As Charles indicated in his inimitable style, the early northward waves of migrants from Africa encountered a world in which the old evolutionary strategy of high reproduction – which worked against drought and disease – had negative effects. High sex hormone production and more mouths to feed were a burden in a land of food scarcity for eight months in the year. Accordingly, natural selection fashioned races that bred less and found ways to challenge the dominance of Nature itself. And here we are, along with all the other, broadly caucasion and mongoloid peoples who took the same great step.

    IQ, among many things, is heritable. Except in cultural marxist circles modern debate is about the degree to which an improved environment effects an improved intelligence (not in a given individual but across a significant low-IQ population). Countless billions of tax dollars, pounds, francs et alia have been thrown at this. Blair’s flagship programme of Excellence in Cities is in this mould. The Audit Commision’s initial report in 2003 revealed that a small improvement in white female achievement had been produced, but that was all.

    Doug, you don’t have to deny human bio-diversity or its consequences for us today. It’s real and needs to be factored into the national debate.

  • Julian Morrison

    No, that’s not my point. My point was that making up just so stories doesn’t amount to anything at all. I’s not theorizing, it’s fiction. Just so stories consist of taking a conclusion, and inventing an “explanation” leading to that conclusion. My demonstration was that it’s as easy to do the same for the opposite conclusion, and make it seem as “logical”. I could make up stories leading to arbitrary conclusions – or even, invert one so that it reaches the SAME conclusion in an OPPOSITE manner (“africans are dumb because they could sit waiting for the huge migratory prey herds, while euros are bright because they had to chase after and outthink rare and shy ice-age beasties”). It’s just meaningless.

    Hypothesising genetics requires gene evidence, or at least heredity evidence un-contaminated by culture or zeitgeist.

  • Randy McGregor

    Old people are more likely to base their opinions on experience and observations than are young people, whose opinions are FAR more likely to be based on abstract ideology.

    Randy McGregor

  • Guessedworker:

    According to you, Doug’s “model” is “too simplistic”. A sober appraisal of your own “model” would conclude that it is just simplistic enough.

  • “Blacks never domesticated animals”

    Hmm, I wonder what those things Fulani and Maasai nomads herd around are … plants? Minerals, maybe?

    “High sex hormone production and more mouths to feed were a burden in a land of food scarcity for eight months in the year. Accordingly, natural selection fashioned races that bred less and found ways to challenge the dominance of Nature itself.”

    Pray tell, where may we find reliable evidence that Africans have a higher “sex hormone production” than any other peoples? In which esteemed journals can we obtain such enlightenment, dear sir? And if Europeans “bred less”, what exactly was going on during Europe’s 19th century population explosion, when whites surged to 1 in 4 of the inhabitants of this planet? Cloning? How did Britain go from 5 million people to 40 million (not including the millions of emigrants to the US, Australia and Canada) in the space of a century and a half? Was there some asexual mechanism at work that the rest of us are uninformed about?

    You and “Charles Copeland” are ignorant racist blowhards who exploit the anonymity of the internet to spout your bigoted ravings as if they were carefully considered conclusions only arrived at with the greatest reluctance. If the two of you consider yourselves exemplars of white racial superiority, your thesis stands disproved already, for your reasoning skills are sorely lacking. No amount of ranting about “political correctness” or appeals to the authority of 19th century authors can obscure the fact that neither of you knows anything more substantive about evolutionary biology or population genetics than you’ve been able to glean from reading the sort of trash to be found on “American Renaissance” and “Stormfront.” The fact is that absolutely nothing is known about the actual genetic* differences underlying normal variation in intelligence within any human population, much less between them, and if you two geniuses have such information at hand from a real genetics journal like Genetics, Genome Biology or the American Journal of Human Genetics, I dare you to post links to your sources here.

    Bah, I’m not holding my breath in the expectation of getting a substantive response from either of you two cretins. I already know what you’re going to do – attack phantom “liberals” and “PC police” who are “suppressing” the “obvious truth”, point to the old Murray and Herrnstein book without acknowledging the demolition of it by people like the econometrician James Heckman, or trumpet Richard Lynn’s crap as if it were gospel truth, entirely unaware that serious methodological flaws have been found in his work. The truth is that theorizing about black inferiority satisfies an emotional need that characters like you have; as long as you can look down at those “inferior” blacks, you don’t have to feel sorry for yourselves for being the losers you actually are. As such, you aren’t ever going to surrender your cherished theories, however thoroughly they are debunked or lacking in evidence they are shown to be.

    *Don’t give me that guff about “heritability estimates” either, or you’ll expose yourselves for the ignorant windbags you are. I have my copy of Hartl and Clark’s “Principles of Population Genetics” right beside me, just waiting to be put to use in your humiliation.

  • Andy

    I don’t understand this unwillingness of certain people to recognise racial differences: they even query whether “race” exists, by trying to redefine the word to mean something different to what is comonly understood by it ( e.g. caucasians are a different race to east asians, etc ).

    We can all see racal differences, skin colour, facial features, stature, hair etc, and know they exist, but as soon as one starts to debate non-visible differences the debate is shut down, presumably to “keep the lid on”.

    Whilst hardly scientific evidence, my observations tend to lead me to believe that blacks are better runners and boxers than whites. Just take a look at the UK or US athletes in the track events: it is very unusual to see a caucasian represented at the highest levels now, yet running is not an event that whites have neglected. As for boxing, I don’t believe there has been a white heavy-weight champion of the world in my lifetime.
    Swimming on the other hand seems to be well represented by whites.

    Those seeking to attribute no differences between the races might say that swimming is a sport that blacks have not traditionally had an input into, but the argument does not wash with track running and the poor showing of whites there.

    One might come to the conclusion then that blacks ( kenyans in particular, long-distance anyway ) are very good at running, better than whites. Do I feel bothered by this? No, it’s probably just different musculature and structural differences, the laws of physics must be obeyed.

    The debate about character and IQ is less easily debated, because it appears to be a political axiom on one side of the political spectrum that no differences between the races can exist there as it would create difficulties of quite some considerable magnitude. Therefore the strategy is to shut down research and debate for fear of finding out something uncomfortable. Galileo was placed under house arrest by the vatican for saying uncomfortable things about the position of the sun with respect to the earth. Shutting down debate and villification is the gameplane of those with something to lose. Open your mind to at least the possibility that the races may differ both physically and intellectually ( or they may not….time and research will tell ).

    My guess is that the political consequences of finding intellectual differences, should they exist, would undermine an entire political way of thinking, and that just cannot be allowed, can it?

    Open your mind, seek the truth, it’ll come out in the end anyway.

  • Doug Collins

    Hello again Guessedworker-

    You said you couldn’t deal adequately with all the points I raised. I think you may have read a lot more into my comments than I intended.

    I was primarily responding to an earlier challenge to give an example of a ‘decently governed’ black majority country. One other commenter pointed out the striking absence through history of any ‘decently governed’ white majority countries and therefore questioned the challenge. You suggested that the doubts about white governments were a libertarian conceit and perhaps an attempt to muddy the waters.

    I thought the doubt about any government in human history being “decent” for any significant period of time was quite valid. You said you wanted to leave Adolf and Uncle Joe to another time. I thought you might – that’s why I mentioned the Irish starvation, the Cherokee trail of tears, the total extermination of the Indian population in Argentina (one of the most advanced countries of the 19th century) and General Sherman’s destruction of the South’s economic base. These were what occurred to me quickly, without much thought or research. They are certainly comparable to starvations in Biafra or Ruanda. And they were not the work of marxists nazis or other white psychopaths- just ordinary, upright, ‘decent’ governments who found wholesale death a convenient solution to various major economic and social problems.

    The difficulty in trying to judge the intelligence of a race makes the use of some seemingly objective test -such as the development of a ‘decent’ goverment- seem very attractive. Intelligence, after all, is an attribute of individual people. Races don’t have any and any attempt to attribute it to them is a fallacy of composition. All races can have is some sort of statistical definition – a mean or a median, with perhaps some variance for a sample population. So the decent government test appears to be an easy way out. But it isn’t. ‘Decent’ needs to be defined in an objectively measurable manner. I won’t pretend to be able to do that. I used your specification, simply because you could hardly argue with it. But I don’t have much confidence in it or any other. As I also pointed out, there needs to be a reasonable period of measurement. Most governments are pretty decent when economies are prosperous, everyone is well fed and employed and things are going well. It is when people get hungry and mad that things get ugly. If you are going to size up a government, you must include a few of the bad periods for your measurement to mean anything.

    Finally, you flatter me by thinking that I was describing a model of cultural transmission. I was just pointing out the need to compare similar levels of cultural advancement if you are going to try to infer something as slippery as average intelligence from political structures. My point was not to use the evolution of the west as some sort of benchmark, so the exact equivalence of 19th century Africans and 1st century Celts and Goths should not be necessary. The difficulty in finding any exact equivalence is, in a way, illustrated by your comment that Africans had not invented the wheel (as was mentioned above, you were incorrect about domesticated animals). Neither had any of the American Indian tribes invented the wheel, however the Mayas had a calender and astronomical technology equivalent to that of Ptolemy. The Iroquois Nation had even developed a species of ‘decent’ government -Ben Franklin took the idea of a bicameral legislature from them to solve the one man/one vote- big state/small state problem in the drafting of the US Constitution.

    But no wheel.

    Intelligence is itself a sort of average of many different abilities and talents, even in an individual. Perception and recognition of pattern relationships, three dimensional relationships, numerical relationships, analogies, logical relationships, memory capacity for names, numbers, facts, sensations, faces etc, ability to express ideas, concepts, emotions and analyses, the ability to persuade, design, compose, improvise and invent; all of these and probably a couple of dozen more abilities and talents are all components of intelligence. From individual to individual they have widely variable combinations and proportions. Everyone is probably deficient in some, richly endowed in one or two and has a modicum of the others. Training and practice will affect the ability to use what you have. You said that I don’t have to deny biodiversity. I don’t. It is the main reason that I believe statements about racial IQ’s are absurd. First, races don’t have IQs. and secondly, individuals are so wildly variable that I think averaged measurements over large groups are meaningless. For example, you said the average IQ’s of the Roman elite was two standard deviations above the surrounding population. Leaving aside the question of how one could possibly know such a thing, I have to look at our present day elites. I won’t pretend that I walk with kings, but I have met some of our elite and chatted a bit with others. Some were unquestionably brilliant. Some others were just as unquestionably utter morons. The morons were in many cases quite prosperous. I imagine the Romans were no different. Suetonius and Gibbon both confirm this. Even if the averages were as you say-So what? It’s like the statement that the average drowning occurs in 6 inchs of water. True perhaps but pointless.

    Africans and blacks in the west have real and serious problems. But they are problems with historical causes. Races, like species and genera, are human inventions with the purpose of simplifying a nearly infinitely complex reality so that we can deal with it. Any scientist who forgets this, does so at his peril. By vocation, I am a petroleum geologist. One of our iron clad maxims is that we should never believe our own maps. To do so is a guarantee of drilling dry holes, or worse- running out of ideas.

    Getting preoccupied with race is a case of believing your own maps.

  • Doug,

    Thanks for the response. I will respond this evening – and to the governance of Stalin and Hitler (which I left out before because Perry doesn’t like long threads – and I already comment too long).

    But for now … if you deny race or, worse still, say one should ignore it (as you seem to, you risk the west drifting into extinction. I am fully persuaded that we have as much right to our lands as other peoples do to theirs. I am not sympathetic to other people being displaced and bred out. Why on earth should I be unsympathetic to such a possibility for my own?

    If you get a chance to answer that question I before this evening I would welcome it.

  • Abiola Lapite,

    Thank you. You saved me from a lot of typing.

    Charles and co seem to confuse transitional cultural reasons for certain behaviours with presumed long-standing genetic ones. Over the centuries we have seen group after group move from being considered “barbarians” to being part and parcel of the “civilised” world by shedding “traditional” beliefs and behaviours (tribalism (incuding the dehumanising of “others”), rapant superstition, rigid class and sexual roles, rejection of scientific method in favour of a rigid belief system, etc..) and adoption of “enlightenment” ideals which lead to the embracing of the opposite of the things mentioned in () and which are self-reinforcing though education and a scientific method to thought.

    There is no evidence that a genetic disposition kept Asian populations out of this process (which at one time was a fairly common belief) and there is also none with respect to Mid-Eastern and African ones.

  • Garth,

    All culture is transitional but it doesn’t necessarily transit to the same destination. You seem to think that it does. I guess you must believe, like Perry, in the inevitable triumph of the west. There is, though, as much cultural diversity as there are racial sub-sets, and no sign that every last man, woman and child on the planet is straining to be one of us. They may like our prosperity but that’s it, I’m afraid.

    Equally, genes are transitional if you examine them across an appropriate time scale. We have all sprung from the loins of one or other of, I think, nine African males. Yet look at the almost inexpressible diversity that nature has wrought in the interim. “Charles and Co” cleave to the opinion that psychology is not an island in this respect and that clear differentials can be averaged. We don’t deny environmentalism in the appearance of these differentials but we assert a biological component. There is a lively debate about the relative influence of both. But only absolutist environmentalists like Abiola have to deny biology outright – and do so in the main to advance a notion of human equality. Abiola is an African of high intelligence and he is quite understandably outraged by what he sees as a slur on his own race. I don’t blame him. But that doesn’t put him on the side of truth.

    The problem with absolutist environmentalists is that they have no choice, of course, but to grant biology its role in physical matters, at least those that seem unconnected to psychology. But they start to hit trouble with obviously evolutionary-based differences like testosterone production. There are psychological concomitants to the African’s high testosterone production, reaching into his sexual mores, of course, but also his relationships and family life. But you won’t find many environmentalists interested in debating them because it’s the thin end of the biodiversity wedge.

    Let there be no mistake, the body and the brain evolved together. There are differences in the performance of both across the spectrum of humanity and these can be, and routinely are, averaged by race. Politics within and beyond science makes them controversial. But it doesn’t make them untrue.

  • Doug Collins

    Guessedworker-

    You don’t need to bother with Hitler and Stalin, my point was that even ignoring their extremes of misgovernance, there were plenty of examples to demonstrate that nearly all governments left a great deal to be desired as far as an intuitive idea of decency is concerned.

    I don’t deny race. The discussion was about differences in averaged IQ’s between races.

    I maintain that intelligence is a characteristic of individuals not of collections of individuals. This is so obvious as to be unarguable, unless you are a Hegelian with some kind of Zeitgeist. It tends to be overlooked however, when statistical averages are being discussed.

    I also feel that if you look more deeply at the concept of intelligence, you can see that it is a catagory name given to a large set of different talents and abilities (touched on in my previous comment) that vary in combinations and amounts from individual to individual. The combinations are so varied as to make the idea of ‘intelligence’ per se almost meaningless except as a very rough description. Consider an idiot savant who can instantly calculate complex arithmetic problems and a rather dull but very prosperous businessman who makes money all day but comes home and gells out before the TV, who has no hobbies or even much conversation. Who is more intelligent? Is the question even meaningful?

    The dispute in this whole discussion has been a statement that, baldly put: black people are not as intelligent as white people. My own opinion is that this is probably not true, that the average of intelligences of a sufficiently large group of Homo Sapiens is about the same as that of any other sufficiently large group. But that is just an opinion. I don’t believe that it can be proven one way or the other, given the many other factors beside intelligence that can affect mental performance.

    As just one example, William McNeill, the historian, has pointed out the importance of the hookworm. Living in South Texas and having raised both dogs and goats, I am very respectful of this parasite’s ability to debilitate. Consider the reputation for stupidity that poor Southern whites have. They have the same basic genetics as other whites so this can’t be used as a reason. Now the idea that they are stupid may be just as baseless as the calumny against blacks, but to the extent it might be true, how would you separate the effect of genetics from the effect of endemic parasitism? Poor early nutrition, lack of a stimulating environment, fatigue, too much alcohol and a host of other factors can and do influence mental performance. All these factors have to be separated out before you can conclude anything about a genetic effect.

    When I was a student in the 1960’s everything was explained by environment. It bugged me then because it was obviously an incomplete explanation, with a very evident political motivation. Now, after the Human Genome project, and perhaps as the powers that be are seeing a need in the near future to eliminate parts of the population as levels of education drop too low or levels of entitlement payments rise too high, I am seeing genetics invoked as the underlying cause of everything. This is just as wrong and makes as little sense.

    You finished your reply by saying that you are afraid of being displaced from your home to which you have a right. I absolutely agree with you and should it be necessary, will take the place in the firing line beside you. I’m just not so sure that the enemy will be black. In fact, the man on your other side, protecting his home and your flank could well be black, with the enemy being a white statist who wants you liquidated because you are too old or too independent or too troublesome or perhaps just in the way of his idea of progress.

  • Anthony

    Andy wrote:

    “I don’t understand this unwillingness of certain people to recognise racial differences: they even query whether ‘race’ exists, by trying to redefine the word to mean something different to what is comonly understood by it ( e.g. caucasians are a different race to east asians, etc ).

    We can all see racial differences…”

    Where knowledge is concerned, common sense often is no more than a communal belief or expectation–like the rising and setting of the sun.

    But the sun really doesn’t really rise and set, does it?

    The following articles present a case for and against race:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/race.html

    In the end, you may still believe in the value of retaining racial distinctions, such as they are, but you should have a better understanding of what’s involved in questioning them.

  • Charles Copeland

    Abiola Lapite, towards the tail end of a tidal wave of invective, writes:

    [Y]ou aren’t ever going to surrender your cherished theories, however thoroughly they are debunked or lacking in evidence they are shown to be.

    I can assure AL that I would be quite happy to dump my ‘cherished theories’ if somebody could advance an alternative explanation that is equally plausible and unconvoluted and rises above methodological nit-picking. But for the sake of argument, let’s forget IQ testing and population genetics for the moment. Let’s go straight to the “evidence of the senses” – by which I mean evidence which can be understood without spending four years at university. Let’s go back to the saloon bar.

    How come blacks have such lousy SAT scores by comparison with whites? How come Chinese have such good ones? How come the black-white performance gap has remained unchanged over the past few decades? How come, despite the investment of billions of dollars over the past forty years, blacks are still such failures wherever they go? How come the only way most blacks can get into an Ivy League University is to cheat via affirmative action? How come something like 30% of black males in the US have criminal records? How come there are virtually no blacks with PhDs in maths or physics? How come blacks ruin any urban environment in which they constitute the overwhelming majority? How come all-black Detroit is now a virtual jungle? How come Abiola Lapite is probably the only black blogger in the universe (OK, I exaggerate)? How come the kind of ‘argument’ blacks seem best at is the spittle-flecked, ad hominem variety that Abiola Lapite obviously can’t resist?

    AL, do you seriously believe that the entire gap is due to nurture? Either you do, in which case you’ve got a lot of explaining to do. Or you don’t – i.e. you admit that nature might play some role, however small – in which case we simply disagree about the magnitude of that role and you’re basically a hereditarian like myself.

  • Hi Doug,

    Only too pleased not to bend my meagre grey matter to explain the governance of our friend in black, bent over his maps in the Wolfschantze.

    A few other points, though:-

    Regarding “intelligence is a characteristic of individuals, not collections of individuals”, well, no man is a genetic island. We share evolutionary outcomes specific to our domains, reflected in phenotype, reproductive strategies, disease resistance and so on. Accordingly, it is not controversial to infer that, on average, the pool of talent in long distance running that exists in the Kenyan Western Highlands is the best in the world. But it is clearly wrong to assume that an individual runner you happen by in the Western Highlands is the best in the world. Averages are very useful.

    Your eloquent expressions of scepticism about the nature of intelligence have, as one of three stratagems, been proposed by the environmental camp for years (the others are psychometric bias and the Flynn Effect). Since the terms of the debate are so obscure there will never be a resolution, and the left gains by that. It doesn’t have to prove its case to maintain its grip on the public discourse. It has tried. of course. Indeed, two American psychologists inadvertently proved the opposite on one memorable occasion in the mid-1990’s. At least they had the courage to publish their results.

    Personally, I think the evidence for heritability is there in spades – pardon the pun.

    You mentioned genetics. Keep your ear to the ground. Not proof of IQ heritability but, ceratinly, proof of variability will come this year, I think.

    Like you, perhaps, I’m no spring chicken. I’m fifty-one. The only non-white immigrant I encountered in my London suburban boyhood was a young lad who came to play football at our school. That was in 1965. Now, well, you know the story. It’s not an event but a process and it isn’t going to stop. I have to tell you, Doug, that if I live to be a centenarian I don’t expect to be threatened by a statist Englishman. I do expect to see an almighty civil conflict, though, and we won’t be the first.