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February 19, 2015


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Luis Enrique

I was going to post a link for those interested in evidence for heritability of IQ to a Cosma Shalzi essay on that topic, but on googling found this more recent that purports to show where Cosma is going wrong. All rather above my technical abilities:


(I hope I haven't inadvertently linked to a racist crank - the presence of Steve Sailor in the comments worries me)


Indeed, is the political focus on social mobility all just a ruse, used as a tool to turn enquiring minds away from a simple (and apparent) lack of common fairness and decency in our economic affairs? Indicative of how old/to dead ideas hang around. Ideas like public examinations at 11, grammar schools, and only Oxford and Cambridge count. Ideas that seem to remain current, sustained because in troubled times they keep the agenda on track....

Dan Goodman

Chris I agree with what you say but a simpler response to that article seems to be that he's implying that the scientific case for heritability of intelligence is as strong as the case for evolution. That's just laughable.


The luck argument for inherited ability in particular is also very strong because of genetic defects. A friend of mine with a PhD had a baby with Down's syndrome (who unfortunately died when young): if she'd lived, she'd have had an IQ substantially below normal.


Not addressing Chris' point directly but:

I think Jonah answers his own question. Tasked with arguing for a right-wing science agenda he listed a number of items which amount to kicking the poor, kicking women's rights, kicking minorities, etc. All that is missing from his list of examples is a big wet kiss to the coal industry.

Another example is education. In the USA the right wing has used "science" to discredit public schools and set up charter schools which are not performing well at all. So the question isn't why the right wing can't set the science agenda, but how can it set an agenda that isn't blatantly beholden to profiteering.

An Alien Visitor

Capitalism leaves too much to chance and luck, your background etc. You stand and fall in the marketplace. Any idiot can make it if he is devious enough. i remember an thickie at school who sold out of date milk and went on to become a millionaire. Another victory for the idiots!

the only way to really ensure people apply their talents to areas they are suited to is by getting rid of capitalism.

Capitalism is almost certainly very destructive when it comes to inherited ability.

As usual the right stumble on another reason to get rid of capitalism!


Luck egalitarianism may be a simple principle. That doesn't stop it being wrong.

Icarus Green

Jonah Goldberg is s super troll. He should walk around with a cape.

He writes a book about how liberals are the real fascists and yet the publication he works for is on record as supporting Franco not to mention the other fascist crap he says in public.

On the question of the science, heritability of IQ is far from a consensus or settled scientific observation (see Ron Unz's essay). Whereas Evolution and Climate Change are more or less settled. Thats why rejecting IQ heritability is a lot less anti science than the other 2.

Goldberg is a fucking cretin.

Alex Bollinger

Lefties don't believe that IQ is at least partly heritable? News to me.

Moreover, the evidence that it's 100% heritable just isn't there. So believing that it is entirely genetic is the anti-science position.

But I'm thinking that the example is probably referring to racial disparities in IQ. I don't know how many conservatives I've talked to who bring it up as if it's a settled question that black people have lower IQs and PC culture is the only thing holding back The Truth from coming out, even though there's a lot more evidence that IQ is partly a function of environmental factors, that there's more diversity within races than between races, and that the political agenda within racial intelligence science has historically been biased *towards* showing that IQ is a function of race.

It's the No True Scotsman fallacy: Pure Science makes me comfortable in my beliefs, the rest of it is tainted by politics.

Overall, though, I agree with you: the more things that come down to genetic ability instead of choice, the more it shows that income and wealth are functions of luck, thus providing more support for (downward) economic redistribution.


National Geographic Magazine September 2001 "Changing America", By Joel L. Swerdlow
American High School Class:
"I don't want to be white," says a white student from Poland. I'm in the
library with a cross section of students who volunteered to speak with
Others agree with the Polish-born youth, but I'm confused.
They explain. To call someone "white" is an insult, as are synonymous
terms like Wonder bread. "I don't consider myself white," says a young
woman from Russia. She has white skin. "Whites act white and do white
"What's 'white stuff?'" I ask.
"White kids act different. They hang out differently. Whites are privileged. They're
smart, do homework on time, run the student government, participate in
plays and musicals, sell stuff, have parents who are involved in the

"When you go to apply for a job," says one boy, "you have to act white."
You can read it for yourself if you Google the title. Sad

politics that work

The left tends to think of the good as being the practical maximization of wellbeing. So, to us, it indeed does not matter whether inequality is caused by human action or nature. Lessening the harm done by either category of randomness maximizes wellbeing, so we're on board either way.

The right are not wellbeing maximizers, they're ideological rule followers. Their rules say that it is mandatory not to hurt others, but helping others is optional. That rule might come from their idea of "common sense", it might just be how their parents raised them or they might draw it from religion or philosophy, but one way or another, they take it as a given. If a problem is naturally occurring, then fixing it is helping others, so it must be left to voluntary action. On the other hand, if a problem is man-made, then fixing it may be avoiding doing harm, which is mandatory and hence fixing it might be a legitimate application of policy.

I think we run into this kind of disconnect a lot. The left will lay out all the reasons that a given policy will do more good than bad and the right may not have any counter argument at all on that level. Instead, the right will state their rule about who is categorically responsible for the subject of the policy or what the role of government is. Both sides see the other side's position as an irrelevant rationalization, so they both walk away wondering whether the other side just isn't smart enough to understand the "real" issue or if they're actually motivated by a hidden agenda.

Cara Menurunkan Berat Badan


B. Weinfeld

@Luis Enroque:

Much to your annoyment, nature itself is a racist badass (and you're the crank). It doesn't care at all for your egalitarian ideals.

Do you know the worst of all? You can't sue nature. You can't dismiss nature.

So... get over it.


there is a certain assumption underpinning the label 'luck' in this case. in one sense, if it is lucky to be what you are in essence or necessarily, (e.g., if it could be argued that being above or below certain thresholds of intelligence have a huge impact on lived life and experience of the world), then once could never not be lucky without being something totally different. when such 'luck' forms one's conditions of possibility, it seems that one is not responsible for dissipating it. the grounds which make luck egalitarianism acceptable also make luck inegalitarianism acceptible. i.e. any good fortune which i am not responsible for is totally just -'i' in this moment being the product of it. any chance which is part of my initial condition becomes a necessity - any luck which is foundational becomes axiomatic

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