Monday, April 11, 2016

Nature and Nurture and Bob Wallace

Have you noticed that "environmentalist" has come to have two meanings? Both of them, interestingly, are descriptions of leftist positions, and, indeed, many leftists are "environmentalists" in both senses of the word. The first, most familiar meaning is that of someone terribly concerned about the environment in the physical sense. I say terribly, because most of us have reasonable concern about the environment. But what used to be called "conservation" has become a virtual religion with some people, with its own set of sins and virtues and auto-da-fés like recycling and saving obscure mud turtles and the like. Back when the idea was to not make a mess for others to clean up, and to make sure we didn't wipe out the natural world, it was a rational, civic-virtue type of thinking, not even an ideology, let alone a religion, and "conservation" was a good name for it.

The second meaning is scarier. It's the prevailing sociopolitical dogma of our time, the notion that heredity counts for nothing or almost nothing, and that environment is the only really important thing. Put another way, nature has given way to nurture. No longer is it permitted to think that intelligence or behavioral traits have any genetic component whatsoever. Pure flat-out crazy and unscientific, of course, and this from the smug liberal crowd that's always proclaiming that "conservatives" are "against science." And, of course, most of the neocons are in solidarity with this "environmentalist" position. And, unfortunately, a whole lot of "libertarians" who love to toss words like "racist" around at anybody who dissents from that extreme environmentalist dogma.

Well, no. Genetics has an enormous effect on human beings, just as it does on other living things. It includes all physical attributes, of course, and, yes, it definitely has a lot to do with intelligence and temperament. And Bob Wallace says so too, at his blog [link].

Intelligence and Temperament

"I feel the pressure of the future and in this turning world must either kill it or become its master" - Lord Vetinari, Raising Steam

About all I need to know about a country is the average IQ and the GNP.
I've mentioned before that when arguments about NAFTA were raging I looked up the average IQ of Mexico (89) and the GNP (4% of the United States). Just like that, I knew the agreement had nothing to do with "free trade." What could a country with a GNP 4% of the United States buy from us? Nothing.
Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation between IQ and GNP.
Back when there was all the Bush-babble about Iraq plotting to attack us with nuclear weapons, I looked up Iraq's GNP (1% of the U.S.'s) and the average IQ (hard to figure, but less than 90).
Again, just like that, I knew that Iraq was no threat to us. Turned out I was right.
Some of the states in the U.S. had stronger economies that Iraq. Of course, these days, Iraq doesn't exist anymore and barely has a workable economy.
Then there is temperament.
Any ethnic group that has a low IQ and an impulsive temperament is going to fill the prisons. This is common sense.
Of course, we don't need to import any more people with low IQs and impulsive temperaments. Unless we want to build more prisons.
The problems with leftists is that they believe IQ and temperament are malleable. Plastic, really, like Play-Doh. Why, with enough education we can turn morons into geniuses! It's all environment! All those working-class people laid off permanently because their jobs were exported - they can go to college and train for higher-paying jobs! Never mind the fact most of them have never read a book in their lives! Not only haven't, but can't.
The Talking Heads/Chattering Classes are always whining the working classes are voting for Trump. And they are. I also know people who are highly educated and making a lot of money and then got laid off so immigrants could replace them. Sure, they can find other high paying jobs - if they and their families move out of state. They, too, are voting for Trump.
I figure that if the very rich and very influential had their way they'd like to genetically engineer tepid-IQ, temperamentally passive people to do their blue-class jobs for them. You know, like the Epsilon Minuses of Brave New World. The retarded monkey people who spent all day operating elevators that ran from the floor to the roof?
It has turned out Aldous Huxley was far better at predicting the future than George Orwell, because Huxley noticed changing temperament and intelligence through science (the insane Stalin once charged his scientists with trying to create human-chimpanzee hybrids to use as warriors).
The best known movie about using science to create people with different intelligences and temperaments is Blade Runner, in which the "replicants" have animal DNA inserted in them - wolf, shark, raccoon, snake, turtle.
Can such insertions be done? Not yet.
Not surprisingly, the replicants were psychologically a mess.
Right now the Chinese are trying to create highly-intelligent designer babies (I tell people they're going to have to get some white DNA in them to make them smart and creative). Still, I don't think their attempts are going to work. Not that it's going to stop them.
For all practical purposes science is the new magic - except for this time it works. Now as to just how far the magic goes - we'll just have to wait and see.
Quibcag: Illustrated with Yuki Nagato of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu), who, it may surprise you to learn, is actually an alien created by the Data Overmind, and can therefore, unlike us normal folks, be programmed/educated to be a genius


  1. Nature Vs Nurture is a subject I have given much thought to over the years. It's been my observation tempered by 57 years that culture or nurture has the upper hand. If you feed an athlete junk food and soda it is very unlikely that their innate potential will ever be reached. The same could be said in regards to culture. If you feed junk culture to our youth how could you expect them to grow up to be straight and true? I'm not trying to foist my opinions on you this is just one mans personal observation.

    1. it's kind of semantic. Of course poor nurture can keep a person from attaining his potential. OTOH, a person's potential can't be exceeded no matter how good the nurture is.

    2. You are correct Baloo. However, your assertion raises the following question: "How many people reach their full potential? how many reach the 50% mark, the 25% mark? How many can even stand up straight? As I walked through a busy financial district this afternoon I spotted only two people who had clear eyes, steady hands and hearts of oak, the rest were space wasters.

    3. Good point. I would say reaching that full potential is rare indeed.