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On Trump, Jerusalem and how social media makes me aware of what people really think

It is sometimes said in a disapproving sort of way that social media is bad in that it reduces social inhibitions. “You’d never say that to a person’s face”, sort of argument. It is a bit like the argument made as to why people are rude when behind the wheel of a car because, encased as they are behind metal and glass, they feel able to shout and swear at the real or alleged berk in front. (Needless to say, being the brilliant driver I am, all those who receive my ire deserve it.)

On places such as Facebook, which I use, I occasionally see people whom I thought are quite reasonable people write or say things that make me think again. A case in point is the recent outpouring of rage over the fact that Donald Trump had decided that the US embassy should be shifted to Jerusalem. Apart from anything else, he is merely executing on a policy that had been approved of, in a bi-partisan vote, in Congress back when Clinton was in office. But, my FB room-mates shout, he should have not done this, he is stoking up the “Arab Street” (such people have, I suspect, never been to the ME), and this shows he is reckless, silly, has an orange face, yada fucking yada. And in one case, an acquaintance went into “the Jews running Congress and American politics mode”, making various references to Trump’s relations, his being a New Yorker (full of those ghastly people), and so on. I decided not to put the point to this FB fuckwit lest I cause a total meltdown, which is that if it is so terrible for Jerusalem to host a US embassy, with the implied recognition of said city as the Israeli capital, then why not just come out with it and say that the state of Israel should not exist at all?

A lesson learned, therefore, is that there are a lot of people out there who buy into the whole “Jewish conspiracy thing”. Now I know that not all anti-Israel people are Jew-haters, and that one can and should be able to discuss what that country does without falling down the rabbit hole of anti-Semitism. But there is, from my own impressions, considerable overlap between the two. And while not infallible as a guide, I take the view that people who dislike or fear Jews, and Israel, are fuckwits, and people whose judgement should be regarded with scorn.

So Donald Trump, thankyou for clarifying a few doubts I have had about certain people I know out there. I am beginning to think, what with the tax bill, the Supreme Court, agency and most cabinet picks, and now this, that the man is actually proving to be a decent POTUS, and a lot less scary than I had previously thought. All he needs to do is turn down the Twitter feed, but maybe enraging people in the way he does is precisely part of what makes him effective, even if it upsets our fastidious tastes. As Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has remarked, he’s even got “liberals” talking about the separation of power and Constitution again.

Here is an article by John Podhoretz on the issue of the embassy.

Key quote:

The idea that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital has been a global pretense for decades, including here in the United States. It’s a pretense because Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital from the moment the new country secured a future by winning a bloody war for independence waged against it by Arab nations after they rejected the UN partition of the old British mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

 

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109 comments to On Trump, Jerusalem and how social media makes me aware of what people really think

  • David

    “The Donald” has put in place what the US Congress decided should be the location of the US Embassy in Israel. Israel considers Jerusalem its capital and is entitled to do so.

    I see no difference in moving an embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel or moving one from say Manchester to London in the UK or Upper Kumbuchna West to Canberra here in Oz.

    Whatever is done pro-Israel will stir up Hamas and the Palestinians anyway as they have frequently stated the only solution they will accept is the destruction of Israel.

  • thefattomato

    Trump just guaranteed 2020 win
    Colarado(9), Minnesota(10), Nevada(6), New Hampshire(4), New Jersey(14), 43 extra electoral college votes in reach for 2020

  • Alisa

    Trump just guaranteed 2020 win
    Colarado(9), Minnesota(10), Nevada(6), New Hampshire(4), New Jersey(14), 43 extra electoral college votes in reach for 2020

    What do you mean?…

  • Roué le Jour

    Whatever you do, don’t upset the Muslims. They may turn against us.

  • thefattomato

    The states above are states won by Clinton by a smaller margin than the states’ Jewish population.
    Jewish-Americans lean heavily Democrat, 3 to 1 against Trump, they won’t become Republicans, but Trump will get rewarded, even if grudgingly&silently, by the Jewish American vote in 2020.
    Or to be blunt, not a single “redneck bigot/deplorable irredeemable” cares where the US embassy to Israel is located, so no downside and some upside for 2020.

  • Mary Contrary

    Jonathan writes:

    I am beginning to think, what with the tax bill, the Supreme Court, agency and most cabinet picks, and now this, that the man is actually proving to be a decent POTUS, and a lot less scary than I had previously thought. All he needs to do is turn down the Twitter feed, but maybe enraging people in the way he does is precisely part of what makes him effective, even if it upsets our fastidious tastes.

    My thoughts exactly.

    thefattomato writes:

    Or to be blunt, not a single “redneck bigot/deplorable irredeemable” cares where the US embassy to Israel is located, so no downside and some upside for 2020.

    Except for the “redneck deplorables” who are also Christian Evangelicals. They tend to be very pro Israel, and quite likely to applaud this move. And not all of them will have come out for Trump in 2015; surprisingly enough, Christian Evangelicals can be quite sniffy about comments like “grab them by the pussy”.

  • bobby b

    “A lesson learned, therefore, is that there are a lot of people out there who buy into the whole “Jewish conspiracy thing”.”

    Interesting thing here in the USA: My generation, and several subsequent ones, grew up steeped in the story of the creation and defense of Israel, from the Mandate through the ’48 independence and all of the attacks, betrayals, and hard-fought defenses of the country that followed. We (mostly) suffer from no confusion as to who the good guys were, and who the bad guys were.

    And we retain all of those lessons still. Now, decades later, seeing the Arab world still using the “Palestinian” peoples as fodder for their continuing war on Israel, we are no less dedicated to the proposition that the Arabs should never profit from their venality simply by presenting their own cast-offs and scapegoats as “the price exacted by Israel.” Whatever price has been exacted lies on Arab heads.

    But there’s no real linkage of Israel with the oft-decried “Joos!” of Arab and Nazi and alt-Right hysteria. Israelis are far more akin to the old-West settlers of the USA than anything else in our collective mythos, taming a hard land and fighting off constant Indian attacks.

    Strangely (to me), American Jews share this dichotomized view with everyone else here – they do not necessarily view Israel as Jewish, and they do not vote in ways that might be seen as being protective of, or even neutral to, Israel. American Jews, in their voting patterns, seem to resent Israel more than support it.

    I bring this up partially in response to thefattomato’s point of 11:17 above, and partially in response to the quoted text from the OP. There’s far less linkage of Israel and Jewishness in the USA than one might think.

    Israel gets its strongest and most consistent support in the USA from conservatives. Liberals pity the poor Palestinians who, in their view, are Israel’s victims. (It must be convenient to be able to forget entire swaths of history at will.) American Jews tend to vote liberal, and thus in anti-Israel ways. Trumps’ recognition of Israel’s embassy in Jerusalem will merely cement existing votes in place.

    (tl;dr) – Minnesota is NOT in play over this.

  • But there is, from my own impressions, considerable overlap between the two.

    Yes, you can in theory be vehemently anti-Israel and not be anti-Semitic. Just as you can in theory discuss race and IQ without being a racist.

    In theory.

    In reality, almost everyone who is vehemently anti-Israel is an anti-Semite and pretty much anyone discussing race and IQ is a racist. That need not be true, it should not be true, but it is. And so whilst at one time, I would offer people the benefit of the doubt and assume they are debating these issues in good faith until proven otherwise, I no longer do. And I doubt I am going to be proven wrong when I just assume the worst up front and tell them to get stuffed.

  • Runcie Balpsune

    But, but, how can Trump be in the pay of the Jewish Lobby when he is literally Hitler? I mean, that could only be true if Hitler was actually a Zionist … wait, what, so Ken was right all along??

  • bobby b

    “In reality, almost everyone who is vehemently anti-Israel is an anti-Semite . . . “

    There are a lot of anti-Israel American Jews who are going to be very confused by your pronouncement.

  • CaptDMO

    IMHO…..
    Social media, or “main stream” for that matter, do NOT let anyone know how people really think.
    It merely let’s folks know what various people are willing to “Virtue Signal” (for whatever reason), at THAT particular time in history.
    ALSO IMHO: “An Open Letter To (whoever)….”, meant to be published in “popular” media by “others”, are usually the
    MOST pretentious, shallow, accusation of NAZI (Godwin), hypocritical projections to be found.
    I could be wrong of course.

  • Fred Z

    I hope he tweets even more. We deplorables like his tweets.

    As for people who notice IQ differences between human populations, they are racists for sure but not as bad as those who notice different skin colors, heights, adaptation to altitude and so on. They are the worst racists. All human subgroups are exactly the same. Thee are no differences. Any such difference you pretend to perceive is racist. There are no such people as “Blacks”. And if there were, which there are not, because we are all the same, they would be “Browns”. Some people are so blind.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In reality, almost everyone who is vehemently anti-Israel is an anti-Semite and pretty much anyone discussing race and IQ is a racist.

    I entirely agree with Perry on this … but note that the word “vehemently” is crucial.
    I myself am very much pro-Israel, but i suspect that a lot of people in Europe (including Britain in this context), if asked in an opinion survey, would express sympathy for the Palestinians — while at the same time expressing a distinctly more positive view of the Jews than of the Muslims in their own country.

  • bobby b (December 8, 2017 at 1:25 pm) is right that the people who tend to lead Jewish organisations in the US, and so to inform both us and their fellow Jews “what american Jews think”, are very accustomed to buddying up to the increasingly anti-semitic left. For thefattomato’s reasoning to have content, the lower tier voters would have to break with their leaders. This may happen – the tension in their positions is growing, and it is being speculated that the followers have opinions – but count that chicken when it hatches.

    More important is that potential Trump 2020 voters care if he is for real: if he will act to defy the ‘great and good’ who self-define by hating others’ opinions. Many who may not care greatly where the embassy stands in Israel do care greatly where Trump stands on keeping a campaign promise versus the unanimous emphatic opinion of the ‘elite’. From that point of view, the more rage from the usual suspects, the better. And when these same usual suspects blame the terrorist attacks that were going to happen anyway on Trump’s action (as an alternative to blaming, say, some unknown video), their rhetoric may not help them as much as they think.

  • There are a lot of anti-Israel American Jews…

    Never encountered such folk when I lived in the USA and not something I ever will in the UK 😉

  • Any such difference you pretend to perceive is racist.

    In my experience, anyone proffering racial difference to explain something is indeed a racist. It could just be a dispassionate scientific observation, but it never actually is, which becomes clear the longer the thread drags on. Always. That is just my observation gained by running a blog since 2001 and watching comment threads, and 318,000+ comments later, that is the inescapable conclusion I have come to.

    Always.

  • Paul Marks

    President Trump’s decision, doing what every President has promised to do since Bill Clinton signed the Act of Congress in 1995, has indeed had the effect of drawing out the Jew haters.

    Well at least we know who they are now.

  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    December 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    “Never encountered such folk when I lived in the USA . . . “

    Yeah, but I picture you hanging out with a bad crowd. :mrgreen:

    You likely never attended a Jewish Voice for Peace meeting while you were here. As the ADL puts it, “(a) central feature of the American anti-Israel movement has long been the role of Jewish anti-Zionist individuals and groups.”

  • Yeah, but I picture you hanging out with a bad crowd

    True enough, I have been known to break bread with the worst of the worst: Jewish Republicans! 😆 😛 😎

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    But, but, how can Trump be in the pay of the Jewish Lobby when he is literally Hitler?

    Perfectly put.

  • “There are a lot of anti-Israel American Jews…” … not something I ever will [encounter] in the UK (Perry de Havilland (London) December 8, 2017 at 3:47 pm)

    I encountered a very clear specimen of the type as a postgrad at university, and again much more recently (he was still lurking in a university), but he was a US citizen and had graduated in the US, so whether he argues against or for your point I leave to you to determine.

    There are some public domain Jewish intellectuals in the UK who are virtue-signalling as loudly about Trump’s latest action as they did about any prior one – Simon Shama for example (I guessed correctly what he would say about it before bothering to check).

  • Alisa

    Oh my, American Jews…

    Traditionally, to be a Good Jew one had to follow the religious “do”s and “don’t”s, no matter where one lived. But, among the “do”s, actually living in the land of Israel was counted several times over many other mitzvas.

    That was in the olden days. In our contemporary reality, only a minority of Jews maintains both: they are either being Good Jews outside of Israel, or are living here, but are not being Good Jews in that we are not religiously observant. The latter are perfectly fine with that: most of us feel Jewish enough by virtue of living in this crazy place as Jews, even if we don’t keep kosher and do drive on a Shabbat. Conversely, observant Orthodox Jews outside of Israel may not feel the urge to move here for all kinds of reasons, and that is perfectly fine with most of us here.

    But then there is the majority* of US Jews, who are doing neither the former nor the latter: they are living outside of Israel, and they are not observant either – because (sorry), but Reform Judaism is not Judaism at all; rather, it is a Progressive doctrine dressed up in the trappings of Judaism. Those trappings happen to include payment of lip service and of monetary donations to Israel and Israeli causes, helping these people to operate under the illusion that they are supporting Israel, and are being Good Jews. Not their fault at all, mind you, as most of them were raised into this and know nothing else, but it does explain their far-greater commitment to leftist ideology, including in matters of war and peace, than to their ostensible Judaism and to the Jewish state.

    Don’t get me wrong, most of them are good or at least OK people – like most progressives, or maybe like most people in general. However, personally I feel far less in common with them than I do with US conservatives, including (gasp) fundamentalist Christians, or even with observant Orthodox Jews (who can be every bit as annoying as your occasional Evangelical). It really is a strange old world, I tell you.

    *Of course there is also an Orthodox minority among the US Jews, which is a very different matter.

  • Mr Ed

    But, but, how can Trump be in the pay of the Jewish Lobby when he is literally Hitler?

    DOH! They control, like, everything!

    Or so I read.

  • Julie near Chicago

    You’re absolutely correct, Mr Ed. Everybody knows it’s the all-powerful AIPAC who extorted Pres. Bush II into revoluting from King George & that bunch in the late 1700’s.

    In fact I heard they were also behind the Glorious Revolution; and, can you imagine!, AIPAC tied King John to a throne and threatened to alter the triptych featuring the Royal Jewels if he didn’t come across with the Magna Carta.

    Tsk!

  • Snorri Godhi

    Obviously i do not know as much about Jews as some people here, but there are a couple of facts (more like a fact and a half) that i think are worth pointing out.

    One fact is that, while American Jews have been voting Democrat by a large margin, British+French Jews have recently been voting “right-wing” by a large margin, something like 2 to 1 iirc.

    To this fact, i add a comment: The Xenophobe’s Guide to the Israelis says something to the effect that a basic dichotomy is between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews; but it seems to me that a more basic dichotomy is between American (or North-American?) Jews, and Jews in the rest of the world.

    Having said that, the half-fact is that there seem to be anti-Israel, even antisemitic Jews, pretty much all over the world, including Israel. I am talking about ‘public “”intellectuals”” ‘, of course, who are not representative of the silent majority of Jews. In particular, i seem to remember reading that there are several academics in Israeli universities who deny Israel’s right to exist; and that Haaretz is stirring up anti-Israeli feelings internationally even more effectively than the New York Times (itself Jewish-owned).

  • Laird

    “anyone proffering racial difference to explain something is indeed a racist.”

    Well, I guess that depends entirely upon your definition of “racist.” If by the term you mean someone who observes statistically significant differences in objectively measured characteristics, such as IQ, between different groups, then the statement is correct. Of course, it is also a tautology. It is also correct if what you are noting is that only overt racists dare to make such statements in public, but in that case it is a grossly skewed sample because it omits all the non-racists who also notice such differences but dare not acknowledge them aloud for fear of being labeled “racist”. A self-fulfilling prophesy, in other words.

    Otherwise, not so much.

  • Lee Moore

    It’s difficult to be sure exactly what Perry means by “racist” because he tends to lose his temper and start deleting other people’s posts before the point is made clear. But from long experience, what I think he means is that anyone who publicly attributes race as a cause (direct or statistical) of such and such is empirically found to be a foamer at the mouth, whose real views are completely irrational and unsavoury, however well he may conceal that early on in the discussion.

    This – if true – might be because everyone who sees any kind of connection between race (or population group) and something else* is a foamer; or as Laird suggests it might be because only a foamer would be willing to stick his head above the parapet to collect the ordure being thrown about. And who could be surprised given the treatment Charles Murray got. And continues to get.

    But in fact Perry is, on this as on so much else, entirely wrong. Murray, for example, is not a foamer. The statistics he points out – occasionally – are offered not from hatred and contempt for certain racial groups. Indeed he makes it vey clear that such statistical differences are greatly to be regretted, not celebrated.

    * I suspect Perry limits this to “something else liable to generate social stigma” rather than “something else simpliciter.” I suspect Perry is OK with non stigma generating correlations – eg between some population groups and some diseases, or between some population groups and hair colour, eye colour, blood group etc. But I’m not entirely sure.

    PS Next week – “Sex -is it a thing ? If so, is it a good thing ?”

  • AIPAC tied King John to a throne and threatened to alter the triptych featuring the Royal Jewels if he didn’t come across with the Magna Carta.

    Julie near Chicago (December 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm), I assume you’re joking about the Kipling story. One of the things I liked about it was that Kadmiel was clearly not working for anyone, AIPAC or otherwise. I also have a rather sad liking for its early-1900s assumption that all this cruelty to Jews belonged to a long-ago past that will never return. When I was much older than the children – old enough not to support Labour any more – I nevertheless would have been incredulous if you had described the attitudes of today’s UK left to me.

    (Of course, Kipling’s children are not foreseeing Hitler – let us trust I can still be happier than them.)

  • Alisa

    a more basic dichotomy is between American (or North-American?) Jews, and Jews in the rest of the world.

    The real dichotomy is between Orthodox and Reform/Conservative Jews: the overwhelming majority of both French and British Jews is the former, while the overwhelming majority of American Jews – the latter. This fact should explain your mostly correct observation with regards to either.

    Of course we do have our share of leftists here who are not Reform, but that has to do with other reasons (such as family background, vested interests, etc.)

  • Lee Moore (December 9, 2017 at 7:05 am) anticipated most of a comment I had in mind (just as well – I comment enough here and I have a day job. 🙂 ). Charles Murray, Thomas Sowell and many others are not racists. I also see Perry’s point about “anti-Israel often means anti-semite” as being far stronger today than his ‘just as’ point about “noticing racial difference often means racist”. The incentives on both sides enhance the first point and diminish the second in the current climate. Anyone who is indeed critical of Israel without being anti-semitic, and is honest, will want to distance themselves from standard anti-zionist rhetoric, whereas anyone merely honest will sooner or later find themselves thinking (and, if unafraid, saying) that, in logic, to call a true statement racist does not deny racism but on the contrary asserts it – whereupon it is the precisely this logical guy who gets called the racist by the PC.

    That said, there are faux ‘racists’ who will gradually insinuate and then denounce you to their PC friends for listening. Also, just because genuine old-style white racists are very rare these days doesn’t mean there aren’t enough of them for one to show up on this blog from time to time. So I understand that Perry, as curator of this blog, will properly keep an eye on whatever smells to him of either.

    Thomas Sowell notes that statistical summaries of the currently developed capacities of various racial groups do indeed show marked differences. He and I both see political correctness as a huge burden on those patronised by it – far greater on those they claim to like than on those they do not merely claim to hate – so that what the situation would be without that is unknowable; meanwhile, treating each person as an individual with an individual set of developed capacities is the best course whenever reasonably doable. It is very tedious to have to write all this obviousness out, but just as I understand why Perry keeps an eye, so I understand why it is in all our bests interests to treat all such occasions as practice for a possible time when it will be vital to express it swiftly and well.

    Precisely because PCness is such a burden to its favoured groups, anyone claiming to know there are innate racial differences because of observable developed differences is making the same mistake as the PC themselves – imagining all this show of helping the favoured group actually helps them.

  • It’s difficult to be sure exactly what Perry means by “racist” because he tends to lose his temper and start deleting other people’s posts before the point is made clear.

    Yes, I have zero tolerance for people who confuse correlation and causation, because experience has shown that waiting for what is said initially to lead to what is said eventually is a waste of time and utterly predicable. So I just pre-emptively jump ahead to the deleting the bullshit stage, rather than deluding myself that it will be different this time and all the person is doing is making a statistical observation, rather than inching towards a diatribe why we must send all niggers back to Africa. And in my experience, people who inject racial IQ into a discussion are, for the most part, obsessive compulsive and eventually turn every discussion into one about the genetic basis for IQ. So no, just fuck right off.

    It is much like how if you search through the comments of most vehement anti-Zionists, sooner of later you will unearth remarks not just about “the Israeli government did this bad thing…” but also “the Jews did this bad thing…” It need not and should not be the case, but it nearly always is.

  • Stephen K

    Very good post. Thank you, Mr. Pearce.

  • mila

    Perry is correct, those who bring up race and iq in any discussion almost always do so because they are desperate for some sort of ‘scientific’ rationalisation for a pre-existing prejudice.

    As for Israel, I know plenty of people who are critical of the Israeli government who are not in any way anti-semitic. But when people are obsessional about Israeli power and influence, or hold up the Israeli state as somehow uniquely malevolent then they are almost always thinly disguised anti-Semites.

  • bobby b

    My uneducated guess – I don’t know the man beyond what he writes here – is that you could probably sit down with Perry over beers and have a conversation about Murray’s Bell Curve, but not on his blog, because blogs are susceptible to the worst sorts of takeovers by the nutjobs.

    I see it much like my personal rule concerning Muslims. Granted, most are decent peaceable chaps. But some percentage are not, and so I start from the assumption that each one is not, and await edification. And here I am, alive and breathing and everything. A proprieter’s jealous guarding of his own blog is something akin to that.

  • My uneducated guess – I don’t know the man beyond what he writes here – is that you could probably sit down with Perry over beers and have a conversation about Murray’s Bell Curve, but not on his blog, because blogs are susceptible to the worst sorts of takeovers by the nutjobs.

    That is exactly correct. But ideally Armagnac or G&T rather than beer 😉

  • As for Israel, I know plenty of people who are critical of the Israeli government who are not in any way anti-semitic.

    I would include myself in that group.

    But when people are obsessional about Israeli power and influence, or hold up the Israeli state as somehow uniquely malevolent then they are almost always thinly disguised anti-Semites.

    Quite so. This is why the modern Labour Party is the party of anti-Semitism.

  • David Bishop

    This brief video could not more clearly refute the widespread screeching that Trump was acting in contravention of prior US policy regarding the US embassy and Jerusalem. Clinton, Bush and Obama all made the same declaration.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeG8Kk-f9nQ

  • 2020 is a long way off. My guess is that a few (or more than a few) US Jews will vote for Trump IF, he keeps up the Pro Israel stance AND if he manages to get the Saudis and the other Gulf Arabs to openly accept Israel as a Jewish State in the region, AND if the economy does well.

    BTW This kinda reminds me of the old Punch Cartoon of Churchill in a sailor suit with a chorus of Tories behind him singing “You made me love you, I didn’t want to do it, I ddn’t want to do it.”

  • Flubber

    Re: Perry

    Stefan Molyneux made aa good point about IQ in his recent discussion with Dave Rubin:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-lN-KTpK_s

    If these IQ disparities do exist, then there will be disparities in outcomes. The left insist that this is always due to racism, and this then justifies massive social intervention on behalf of the state to correct this (ie ensuring equal outcomes), but if their cure is wrong, the disparities will endure. Thus, ever more intervention is necessary..

    It seems to me that its self defeating to ignore this especially if your goal is less state meddling.

  • Alisa

    Wow Taylor, I’d love to see that one!

  • Snorri Godhi

    I was going to comment on race vs IQ but i see that Bobby and Perry, in the latest iteration, have said pretty much all what needed to be said.

    Flubber makes a good point, too, but is it a good strategy to argue that differences in outcome are due to differences in IQ? (whether genetic or not.)

    I’d think that “we” should start by arguing that the burden of the proof is on “them” to prove that differences in outcome are due to racism. After “they” have accepted that the burden of the proof is on them, and not a moment earlier, we could buttress our position by bringing in the correlation between race and IQ; although by then we would not need to do so.

  • mila

    I’d think that “we” should start by arguing that the burden of the proof is on “them” to prove that differences in outcome are due to racism.

    Exactly wrong, the burden of proof is always on the biological determinists.

  • Flubber: It seems to me that its self defeating to ignore this especially if your goal is less state meddling.

    On the contrary, there is no upside whatsoever to this discussion as it can be twisted to suggest whatever course of action anyone wants. If it is biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this. If it is not biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this.

    mila: Exactly wrong, the burden of proof is always on the biological determinists.

    Quite so. I have no doubt that if you asked a Roman in Britannia in 410 AD, he could have probably regarded it as a truism that the locals were intrinsically inferior, given how everything was going to hell.

  • It has been 323 days, 8 hours, 28 minutes and 33 seconds since Donald Trump’s inauguration and he still ain’t Hillary.

    Looking good so far.

  • Ferox

    mila: Exactly wrong, the burden of proof is always on the biological determinists.

    Why wouldn’t the burden of proof be, as always, on whoever is making the claim?

    If I observe the indisputable fact of differing outcomes for two groups, and then claim that the disparity is due to innate heritable differences in capability, the burden of proof is rightly on me.

    But if you see the same differing outcome and claim that the disparity is due to some ubiquitous, unseen force permeating society, the burden of proof for that claim should fall on you.

    It’s intellectually lazy to place the burden of disproving your claims upon your opponents.

  • Eric

    If it is biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this. If it is not biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this.

    Must it? I don’t see why. In either case. The state is there to maintain order and provide for the common defense. It’s not there to make sure every pot has the same number of chickens.

  • NickM

    I’m with Perry and mila here. IQ is essentially meaningless anyway. My wife speaks five languages. I do English (and Geordie and a few bits of computerish and “Ein bierre por favour). Having said that I’m a very good mathematician and she can’t factorise a quadratic.

  • Flubber

    “IQ is essentially meaningless anyway”

    I’m sorry but this is bollocks. Social scientists have produced multiple studies showing its one of the best predictors of achievement in life.

    It might be awkward, but its true.

  • I have no doubt that if you asked a Roman in Britannia in 410 AD, he could have probably regarded it as a truism that the locals were intrinsically inferior, given how everything was going to hell. (Perry de Havilland (London), December 10, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Much earlier, Cicero told his fellow Romans not to waste their time buying British slaves as Britons were stupid, unfit for any but the most basic work, not worth their feed. IIRC, he said he was speaking from experience, having bought a few himself and been disappointed. (I am summary-quoting Cicero’s gist from memory.)

    It is possible Cicero was biased by hostility to Julius Caesar, who was presumably associated in the public mind with the availabity of British slaves at the time.

  • Alisa

    It is not about burden of proof at all: this is not a court of law, where someone is accusing someone else of a crime. It is about whether there is such a thing as ‘race’, and whether that thing is real and material to anything other than purely collectivist purposes. Consequently, it also becomes about whether that discussion is even worth having – not whether it is a legitimate discussion, mind you (I think it is, like any other discussion), but whether it is valuable to anyone who is not a collectivist. That is something for each individual to decide for himself, and Perry seems to have decided that such discussions are not worth his time and the space on his blog. If so, I absolutely agree with him.

  • Laird

    I agree with Flubber. There is a significant difference between intelligence (however measured) and training in specific areas (be those languages or mathematics).

    Alisa, I don’t agree with Perry on this, but it’s his blog and I’m just a guest here so I accede to his wishes.

  • NickM

    Flubbed,
    You lost me when you used the term “social ‘scientist'”. Yup, double quotes on that one. Apart from possibly Frank Furedi social “science” is utterly Pilgering wank done by commies. I did maths and physics. That is science. Sociology is a calling lower than the embittered embuggeration of a dachshund whilst catawauling a Gary Glitter medley.

  • If you don’t see why, Eric, you know bugger all about how governments work

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry:

    If it is biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this. If it is not biological, clearly the state must spend money and pass laws to mitigate this.

    There you go! you (sensibly) brought up the correlation vs causation thing, and now you blithely imply that any correlation between race and IQ must be biological in origin! Since such correlations demonstrably exist, you are threading dangerous ground: somebody (other than me) could accuse you of racism.

    Needless to say, i am channeling my inner Trump with this comment.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Let’s move on from the meta-debate on whether it is worth debating race vs IQ, to the debate on what to say to people who say that “Blacks/Hispanics/Muslims do poorly because racism”. On this issue, i second what Ferox and Eric wrote; that is, i submit that what they say is correct. Whether saying it would sway people, is another matter.

    Perhaps a Trumpian tactic would be more effective:
    If people here are racists, then clearly we must stop immigration right now, so that nobody else suffers from our racism. Actually, we should send people back where they come from.

    With luck, people will fail to notice the sarcasm and get angry; but even if they see through your earnestness, you should keep a straight face and demand to know what is wrong with your argument.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa writes,

    “It is about whether there is such a thing as ‘race’, and whether that thing is real and material to anything other than purely collectivist purposes. Consequently, it also becomes about whether that discussion is even worth having – not whether it is a legitimate discussion, mind you (I think it is, like any other discussion), but whether it is valuable to anyone who is not a collectivist. That is something for each individual to decide for himself….”

    (I particularly like the part which I put in boldface.)
    So the issues are first, whether there “is” such a thing as “Race,” which depends on how the word is defined (by the people using it in a given discussion); and then, on what conclusions are drawn by the various parties to the discussion as to whether it does exist as defined, and what the implications of its existence or non-existence might be within the context of the particular discussion.

    It’s true that “race” comes up mostly in the course of political discussions, where it’s considered in terms of its implications for political policies and practices; and sometimes in philosophical discussions, including both morally- or ethically-oriented ones, which end up back in politics, and scientifically-oriented ones such as those concerning psychology (insofar as that’s a “science” in the modern use of the term) and medicine. (Susceptibility to disorders, e.g. sickle-cell anemia, affected by DNA common among specific “races”; possible effects of DNA putatively responsible for “racial characteristics” on various phenomena of neuroscience; etc.)

    .

    As usual, Most Blanket Rules Aren’t. “Race” may be a topic too often fraught with bias, agenda, and good or bad will; but that doesn’t mean it’s a meaningless term, nor that all discussions of it are worthless.*

    .

    Same goes for IQ, by the way. What do the particular conversants mean by it in a given discussion, and, So What — and in what senses, or contexts?

    . . .

    *Same could be said of certain topics in mathematics. Cantorian infinity: legitimate or not? And how can you say that the set of Natural Numbers (counting numbers) is “Countably Infinite,” and that so is the set of all EVEN Natural numbers, a proper subset of the Natural Numbers, and that therefore they are of the “same size”? [Um, lest anyone get any funny ideas, YrsTrly does know the answer to this conundrum. As always, it’s Definitions, Baby.]

    (One of the few places I know of where the math boys & girls chose an unfortunate common-language term to include as a technical term — or “term of art” — in their discipline. Almost as bad as the nitwit economists dragging the words “utility” and, gawdhelpus, “scarce” out of the common language and using them in their various theories — Laird notwithstanding *g*.)

  • But that’s the whole point, this topic is like shit for flies, no matter how it is argued or spun or pooped out, it attracts the obsessives, the nutters and the fanatics.

  • Alisa

    Julie, those discussions are worthless to me. Obviously they are not worthless to people who choose to engage in them – which is fine (see ‘legitimate’), but it does not mean that I must participate in them just because others value them and find them meaningful.

    I do take your point about medical issues though, it is important.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I think it’s a telling point that these issues just keep popping up over and over again. An elephant in the room that simply doesn’t want to be ignored because it keeps splashing water all over the place from its trunk and getting everybody wet.

    Other than intelligence, what concerns me more about race and genetics is if there is a genetic component for certain behaviours and attitudes, especially when it pertains to freedom of thought and expression.

  • Yeah but the elephant isn’t the one you think it is, which is why I kick/ban people over this topic more than any other

  • Alisa

    Other than intelligence, what concerns me more about race and genetics is if there is a genetic component for certain behaviours and attitudes, especially when it pertains to freedom of thought and expression.

    Why?

  • bobby b

    “An elephant in the room that simply doesn’t want to be ignored because it keeps splashing water all over the place from its trunk and getting everybody wet.”

    My impression is that samizdata.net, after a great number of years of effort and nurturing by Perry and others, has developed a very good reputation as a serious place for political and philosophical discussion.

    A blog’s good reputation is hard to establish and needs constant protection. Allowing the elephant in the room means that some small proportion of comments are going to be of the type that Perry spoke of earlier – sending various people back to various places, and the like.

    At that point, anyone wishing to cause reputational harm to Samizdata can just call it “that racist libertarian blog” and then link to the offending comments as proof.

    Why would he take that chance in furtherance of a discussion that can already be found all over the internet, and never ever ends well? Not worth it.

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, very well said.

    .

    Alisa: Certainly. The meat of my own remarks is pretty much what you said in the quote.

    Everything after the first parenthetical sentence is intended to point out that there is a lot more to “race” than “WAAYYY-CISSS!” (If you’re unable to generate interest in a discussion of the effects of race on the edibility of celery, thus finding discussion of same worthless, I cannot fault you. Personally, from your POV I’d think a more pertinent issue would be, “Do I like celery?”)

    Understanding, and clear communication of ideas, depend first on definitions stipulated*, at the least, for the particular discussion. There is more to the meaning of a word than the mere utterance of it. E.g., “race,” or “countably-many,” or “scarce.” Context. An American might very well say, for instance, that the reason salt is cheap is that it’s so prevalent. “So I spilled a pinch of salt, Ma. Sheesh, it’s not like salt is scarce!” What, exactly, is the issue being discussed?

    Which is most of what I was trying to say.

    *Arriving at a definition which the discussants are all willing to stipulate, unfortunately tends to be so vexatious that the pub closes before people get around to the actual issue.

    .

    Of course, in real life discussions go back and forth among various sub-issues and side issues and general explorations. But it never hurts to keep the main issue in mind during all that. I must say that on Samizdata, more than any other site I know of, the excursions are a major source of the ongoing interest.

  • CharlieL

    And because you ride herd on comments, not banning contrarian views, but watching for things that could destroy it’s well-earned reputation,is why I enjoy reading this blog and the various comments.

    This is the most thoughtful and wide-ranging blog I have come across.

  • the other rob

    Excellently put, bobby b!

    To state the bleeding obvious, it might bear observing that there’s more to genetics than just race (which, as Perry says, is a topic that inevitably gets nutters all over it like flies on shit).

    And genetics is interesting. For example, SWMBO and I both like broccoli. 23andMe tells us that neither of us have a particular gene that causes broccoli to taste bitter*. We have these friends, another married couple, who can’t stand the stuff. I keep encouraging them to get their own genomes sequenced – I’d be fascinated to find out whether they do have that gene.

    Sure, broccoli isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an everyday example of how a minor genetic variance can lead to real world differences in behaviour, that’s both familiar and relatable to. As a bonus, the chances of there ever being broccoli pogroms are slim to none.**

    * It probably wouldn’t make a difference, in my case, if I did have the gene as a pint of bitter is as Mother’s Milk to me. SWMBO, OTOH, prefers sweet wines and can’t stand even am IPA or a single malt. She thinks that Laphroaig smells like burning tires, for God’s sake! Perhaps there’s another gene, yet to be discovered, that inclines one to actively like bitter flavors, instead of just not noticing them?

    ** Some time, somewhere, some fuckers are probably going to make me regret typing that last sentence. I take comfort in the fact that I’m sufficiently insignificant to avoid going down in history as the Neville Chamberlain of broccoli.

  • Lee Moore

    bobby’s prudential reason for putting some topics off limits is quite different from perry simply nixing discussions because “it’s my blog, so suck on that.”

    The latter reason is libertarianism in action. My house, my rules. Admirably valiant.

    The former reason – not so much. My house, my rules, but I’m going to keep wary eye out for what the neighbours say. Of course keeping an eye out for what the neighbours say is perfectly consistent with libertarianism. Free association and all that. But, on a blog which happily asserts its criminal iconoclasm, it’s not exactly valiant.

  • bobby b

    “But, on a blog which happily asserts its criminal iconoclasm, it’s not exactly valiant.”

    So if the accepted ethos of Samizdata is valiant criminal iconoclasm, doesn’t the lack of assholity in my comment become my own form of iconoclasm, battering against the conformist assholic samizdata ethos? Who’s the rebel here?

  • Lee Moore

    🙂

    Rebel or no, I think you’re wrong in assuming Perry is weeding his blog to minimise the tut-tutting from passers by. Perry comes across as a belligerent fellow liable to present a complaining neighbour with a middle finger, a stream of abuse, and maybe even a not entirely libertarian clip round the ear. I doubt he’s carefully calculating whether folk in the Guardian might criticise what is said on his blog, and is timorously wielding the red pencil to curry favour with people he mostly regards as scum. He seems much more of an “up yours” kind of chap.

  • Rich Rostrom

    There is a large body of Orthodox Jews in America, the Satmar Hasidim, who are fanatically anti-Zionist. Their founder declared that Jews were barred from resettling Judaea until collectively redeemed from sin by God, that Zionism was heretical and a grave sin, and that the Holocaust was punishment for that sin.

    (A mainstream Jew who was a tutor in their school brought an orange in his bag lunch; they demanded to know if it was an evil Israeli orange.)

    As to race and IQ: over the last 50 years, liberals have spent trillions of $ and imposed intricate race-discrimination schemes to bring about equal achievement by all races in academics and employment. These policies have failed utterly. But their advocates fight tooth and nail to continue them. And they declare that any explanation of the problem that does not blame white racism is doubleplus ungood crimethink.

    Especially any explanation that says the problem is intractable by their favored methods. As long as they can block any discussion of other explanations, their disastrous failed policies will remain in force.

  • Ferox

    But their advocates fight tooth and nail to continue them.

    Not enough money has been spent. Not enough power has been given to the bureaucrats. Not enough kulaks have been “re-educated”. The time for half measures has passed. The experts have a new five-year plan, much different than the previous five-year plans.

    Don’t worry, Товарищ … we will get it right this time around.

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain over there … or we will denounce you.

  • Lee Moore

    Rich : over the last 50 years, liberals have spent trillions of $ and imposed intricate race-discrimination schemes to bring about equal achievement by all races in academics and employment. These policies have failed utterly. But their advocates fight tooth and nail to continue them.

    This is the answer to Alisa’s question above as to why she might bother with any of this groupist nonsense. If the powers that be attribute floods and disease to the malevolent influence of little old ladies, to the extent that they actually start torturing and burning the little old ladies, it may be insufficient simply to cry “you silly fools, how can you believe such nonsense !” You may have to go on and explain – if you can – where floods and diseases actually come from.

    You could just stay home and shake your head at all the lunacy, but I assure you, your silence will be noticed by the committee. Perhaps you too are a witch ? Before long, you’ll be out in the streets shouting “burn her !” just for your own safety.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Every year that goes by without a peace agreement Israel builds more Jewish communities (“settlements”) in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) as well as in Jerusalem.

    Every year that goes by without a peace agreement the Jewish populations of Judea, Jerusalem, and Samaria grow, rendering a potential peace agreement that evicts Jews from their homes less realistic and less feasible politically.

    Every year that goes by without a peace agreement Israel’s hold on Jerusalem grows more robust.

    Every year that goes by without a peace agreement Palestinians become a bit more used to restrictions on travel, security check points and effectively a soft martial law in Judea and Samaria.

    Every year that goes by without a peace agreement the claims of exiled refugee Palestinians who live outside the Land of Israel (such as in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, etc) to land inside the Land of Israel becomes weaker.

    I predict that Israel will probably not agree a peace agreement with the Palestinians but if Israel does it will be part of a deal to form full diplomatic relations with (mostly Sunni) Muslim countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain.

  • Alisa

    There is a large body of Orthodox Jews in America, the Satmar Hasidim, who are fanatically anti-Zionist. Their founder declared that Jews were barred from resettling Judaea until collectively redeemed from sin by God, that Zionism was heretical and a grave sin, and that the Holocaust was punishment for that sin.

    Yes, there is a similar body in Israel, neither could be described as ‘large’ though.

  • Alisa

    This is the answer to Alisa’s question above as to why she might bother with any of this groupist nonsense. If the powers that be attribute floods and disease to the malevolent influence of little old ladies, to the extent that they actually start torturing and burning the little old ladies, it may be insufficient simply to cry “you silly fools, how can you believe such nonsense !” You may have to go on and explain – if you can – where floods and diseases actually come from.

    Sure Lee, but explaining the flood phenomenon is not the same as discussing the phenomenon of Little Old Ladies and its alleged influence on the former.

  • Lee Moore

    Sure. But if you don’t yet have an absolute slam dunk good-enough-for-Perry proof of causation, you may be forced to fall back on pointing out that floods are much more highly correlated with periods of heavy rainfall; and disease much more highly correlated with unsanitary conditions than either is correlated with the concentration of little old ladies.

    Which involves all sorts of statistics concerning

    (a) rainfall
    (b) unsanitary conditions
    (c ) little old ladies

    Any deployment of statistics is ineluctably groupist.

  • Lee Moore (December 11, 2017 at 3:46 am), your phrasing seems harsh. Perry well knows the Guardian hates him and seems mostly to wear that as a badge of honour – as we all can and should.

    (My comment above – now far above 🙂 at December 9, 2017 at 9:31 am – expresses my view on both his point and yours.)

  • Lee Moore

    Hmm. I thought my comment about Perry was filled with high praise rather than harsh phrasing.

  • Alisa

    Any deployment of statistics is ineluctably groupist

    I have no problem with groupist discussions when the groups in question are not human (such as rainfall or bacteria causing disease). Still, if Little Old Ladies seem to correlate with life in unsanitary conditions I might discuss that as well – but I will stop short of getting into a discussion of that correlation in the context of their (LOL’s) genetic makeup, because I see no real-life value to myself in that particular discussion. YMMV.

  • Edward

    Shlomo, that may well come to pass. The future conflict in the Middle East is not Israel vs the Arabs, but Saudi Arabia vs Iran. I suspect the reformed Saudi government may well end up allying with Israel to counter the Iran/Syria/Turkey/Russia axis.

    Ironically, some sort of accommodation with the Palestinians may very well be part of such an alliance.

  • Lee and bobby are both correct regarding my motivation for abridging certain topics: yes I am keen to maintain Samizdata’s ability to host discussions without (what I regard as) a lunatic fringe from hijacking thread after thread, and thereby making me host reputation damaging discourse. But I also loath thinly disguised racial collectivists, so I am a bit prone to tell them to fuck right off. As it happens, the two things are quite complimentary 😆

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just to lighten up this thread, let me comment about booze.

    Perry mentioned armagnac earlier on, but i believe that i never tried that. I will, if i get a chance.

    Much more interesting to me is the other rob’s mention of Laphroaig. I regard Islay whisky as prima facie evidence for the existence of God. But it does not taste bitter to me, actually there is just a remote hint of sweetness. And the other rob’s significant other detects the smell of burning tires?? I would not know, actually, since i don’t remember ever being in the proximity of a burning tire.

    Interestingly, at least to me, is that i used to be unable to distinguish between Laphroaig and Bowmore; now i would describe the 1st as more smoky, the 2nd as more iodiny. My other favorite Islay whisky (of those in the affordable range) is Lagavulin, which however tastes very different to me, and always did.

    Perhaps there’s another gene, yet to be discovered, that inclines one to actively like bitter flavors, instead of just not noticing them?

    I believe that it has been demonstrated that early experience has an impact on what kind of flavors one likes; and taste also seems to change with age, eg young people seem to like sweet flavors more than, er … people of my age do.

  • Lee, my apologies for suggesting your phrasing was harsh.

    Re-reading your comment more attentively, I realise I misplaced the </sarcasm> terminator one phrase earlier in your sentence than you in fact meant. 🙂

  • Laird

    “But that’s the whole point, this topic is like shit for flies, no matter how it is argued or spun or pooped out, it attracts the obsessives, the nutters and the fanatics.”

    And on that Perry and I can agree.

  • I regard Islay whisky as prima facie evidence for the existence of God. (Snorri Godhi, December 11, 2017 at 3:05 pm)

    Islay whisky is prima facie evidence for the existence of the numinous. Glengoyne cask-strength single-malt is not only prima facie evidence for the existence of God but demonstrates His beneficence. However the existence of Beastie Bunny (a Bunnahabhain variant justly described as having “an aftertaste of engine oil and old overalls”) raises the philosophical problem of the existence of evil in a particularly acute form.

  • bobby b

    Snorri Godhi
    December 11, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    “But it does not taste bitter to me, actually there is just a remote hint of sweetness.”

    Might have a lot to do with whatever else you eat and drink. In this age of low-sugar and no-sugar food and drink, many of the sugar-substitutes leave a bitter aftertaste, and so food scientists have developed – and use – several “bitter-blocker” compounds to mask this bitterness.

    If you drink lots of diet pop, or eat sugar substitutes (or any of the many foods that contain them), you are likely eating “bitter-blockers”, and your sense of taste has been artificially moderated.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    bobby b –

    If you drink lots of diet pop, or eat sugar substitutes (or any of the many foods that contain them), you are likely eating “bitter-blockers”, and your sense of taste has been artificially moderated.

    I didn’t know that. I’ve learned something new. Thank you.

  • Mr Ed

    I used to drink peasant red wine and fig spirit in the remote Algarve in the 1980s, a shot of the latter was 5 escudos or 2 pence. Compelling evidence of there being a God with a good sense of humour.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Other than intelligence, what concerns me more about race and genetics is if there is a genetic component for certain behaviours and attitudes, especially when it pertains to freedom of thought and expression.

    Why?

    Because when the future of human development and progress depends on freedom of thought and liberty, it’s not going to end up well if institutions and structures become ossified and hidebound due to dominance by particular groups with certain views on how society should be ordered. Think of Harrison Bergeron, but with an ethnic element added in.

    For example, ethnic chinese are often described as more accepting of authoritarian rule and self-policing thoughtcrime, and that the reason could be genetic, not just cultural. I hate to think there’s any truth to this, being an ethnic chinese myself.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall: thanks for the tip about Glengoyne. I checked my tasting notes and i never tried it.
    I looked at The Bluffer’s Guide to Whisky and i found the following:

    Glengoyne can be described as ‘a pleasant, unassuming little dram’; the distillery is very pretty, and gets its water from a waterfall.

    Wikipedia is a bit more informative.
    I had a look at the supermarket today and 10yo Glengoyne goes for about 54 euros. I guess i’ll wait for a sale, or wait for my next trip to Italy: i bought a bottle of 12yo Cardhu for 15 euros (on sale) during my last trip.

    Bobby: very interesting to know, but no, i avoid both sugar and substitutes for it.
    Sometimes i buy a salad at the supermarket, or marinated meat, or i eat at a fast food joint after going to the gym, and there is some sugar (and omega-6 oils) in there, but no sugar substitutes afaik.

    In any case, i only drink malt whisky long after dinner. With dinner, i drink blended whisky, diluted with about 5 parts of water. (I dilute malt whisky with 2 parts of water, and sometime i do take a bit of chocolate with it, at least 80% cocoa.)

    BTW from my tasting notes i see that i did detect a hint of bitterness in Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich, the first time i tried them.

    Mr Ed: i’d love to taste fig spirit, if nothing else to see whether it is a worthwhile use of one of my favorite fruits.

  • bobby b

    Re: Bitter-blockers.

    I should have added above that these are especially prevalent in medicines (both OTC and prescription) that are taken orally in liquid form, so that people will actually – you know – drink them.

    (There are quite a few “blocker” compounds available now. One notably masks the rotten taste of spoiled – er, sorry, “over-aged” – meat.)

  • Snorri… I recommend this, my usual…

  • Alisa

    For example, ethnic chinese are often described as more accepting of authoritarian rule and self-policing thoughtcrime, and that the reason could be genetic, not just cultural.

    OK, so let’s use this example, and say it has been shown to be true. What do you do about it then?

  • bobby b

    “What do you do about it then?”

    You stay aware of it and take it into account when you discuss things such as Chinese social change, the likely reaction of the Chinese people to some stimulus, Chinese government actions and reactions – anything that might conceivably be affected by such a factor.

    You treat it as one more data-point that may help in understanding a situation instead of ignoring it out of concern that it might hurt someone’s feelings to discuss it.

    I’d be leery of any system of thought that recommends that we ignore information that “has been shown to be true” out of concern for feelz. But you had better be sure, first, that something “has been shown to be true” before you treat it thusly. Much of what passes for discussion, say, of Murray’s work has been misinterpretation of what “has been shown to be true”.

  • Alisa

    I may be already doing that, but rather than attributing that (supposed) trait to “race”, I attribute it to culture. What practical difference is there between these two approaches?

  • bobby b

    “What practical difference is there between these two approaches?”

    For most applications, you’re right – there’s no practical difference. If I want to argue that all Finns are bad at racquetball, it probably doesn’t matter if it’s nature or nurture.

    But if I want to discuss changing this trait – e.g., making Finland into a racquetball power – then it might make a difference. You can train culture out of someone. You can’t train pygmies into being great basketball players.

  • Alisa

    But why would anyone want to train a culture out of an entire nation, unless he’s a Lenin or a Mao? Individual Chinese who immigrated out of that culture* seem to possess no more of that hypothetical trait than other members of their host societies; and even if some of them do, it doesn’t really matter as long as there is no mass immigration from China. And yes, this is an argument against mass immigration from a single country – but, again, it need not be based on “race”, but rather on specific attributes of that particular culture*.

    *Of course cultures themselves could be the result of certain genetic configurations, but I still can’t see why it should matter for any practical purpose?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry: thank you for the tip. If i get back to London, i’ll let Samizdata know about it, and maybe we can all get together for a toast.

    Wobbly Guy:

    ethnic chinese are often described as more accepting of authoritarian rule and self-policing thoughtcrime, and that the reason could be genetic, not just cultural. I hate to think there’s any truth to this, being an ethnic chinese myself.

    The reason i would not worry about this particular issue is that Hong Kong and Singapore are doing pretty well right now; and Taiwan is not doing badly, either.

  • bobby b

    “But why would anyone want to train a culture out of an entire nation . . .”

    We’re not discussing training away a culture specifically. We’re speaking of traits, while acknowledging that a trait might be culturally-driven. Pygmies aren’t poor at basketball because of their culture. They’re short.

    But more specifically to your point, the only discussion I’ve really seen that validly involves these concepts speaks to the difficulties and strategies of bringing Third-World countries and entire continents into First-World status in the light of some factors that have been advanced as traits. If the traits are culture-driven, paths open up. If the traits are genetic, other paths are needed. (I’m hoping I’m staying on the right side of lines here.) So the discussion does have some utility. But I’d be the first to acknowledge that it is far more abused than utile.

  • Alisa

    the only discussion I’ve really seen that validly involves these concepts speaks to the difficulties and strategies of bringing Third-World countries and entire continents into First-World status in the light of some factors that have been advanced as traits.

    And that was my point above.

  • bobby b

    You were speaking of Africa? Sorry, went right over my head then.

  • Alisa

    I was speaking of attempts to change entire cultures in general.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Shlomo, that may well come to pass. The future conflict in the Middle East is not Israel vs the Arabs, but Saudi Arabia vs Iran.

    The current conflict in the Middle East is not Israel vs the Arabs but Saudi Arabia vs Iran. FTFY

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Alisa, wherever they go, Chinese people eat… Chinese food!!! They stick to their food culture. A few years ago, the Chinese government collaborated on a study that said that rice-growing had influenced Chinese culture, and perhaps Chinese genes, so they were more likely to be consensus-seeking, and subject to groupthink. The need to apportion the community’s water supplies has shaped them.
    The actual conflict in the Middle-East is between the Hebrew Scriptures, versus the Koran. The Koran claims that any territory of Islam, once conquered, should stay Islamic. It also claims to have superceded all previous scriptures, including the Hebrew scriptures. The resurrection of Israel shouldn’t have happened, especially as Allah decides the fate of battles, so how could Israel keep winning? They’ll keep on fighting until Allah realises His mistake!

  • I know Chinese people who eat all manner of food, not just Chinese food. My local kebab joint (best in London IMO) is always full of Chinese people.

  • bobby b

    “My local kebab joint . . . is always full of Chinese people.”

    Ewww. We use lamb or beef here.

    (“Soylent Red is The People!”)

  • Rich Rostrom

    There is an evolutionary advantage to behavior which benefits near kin (who share most of the organism’s genes). It has been noted people in Middle Eastern societies tend to marry near kin, causing even higher genetic sharing, and that these societies have high levels of kin preference in affairs (business, law, politics).

    Thus it has been suggested that the endogamy might lead to genetic reinforcement of the kin preference behaviour. That in turn could weaken broader trust links.

    Which could explain some of the difficulty in establishing democracy and true rule of law in the area. It’s clearly not an iron barrier, but it could be a continual small drag.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Many years ago, in NYC, my sister encountered restaurants operated by ethnic-Chinese emigréś´from Cuba. The food was nominally Chinese, but included Caribbean ingredients such as plantain.

  • Thailover

    “Now I know that not all anti-Israel people are Jew-haters”

    Er, uh…really?

  • mhj

    “Now I know that not all anti-Israel people are Jew-haters…”

    Given the reality of what it means to be “anti-Israel” and the consequences thereof, this statement is true only to the extent they haven’t thought through the implications of their position.

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