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White People are Poodles and Black People are Beagles

[ 499 ] May 14, 2013 |

Andrew Sullivan defends Jason Richwine, not just because he was fired from the Heritage Foundation for writing a white supremacist dissertation, but on the merits on Richwine’s arguments. Because white people are poodles and black people are beagles:

Of course not. We remain the same species, just as a poodle and a beagle are of the same species. But poodles, in general, are smarter than beagles, and beagles have a much better sense of smell. We bred those traits into them, of course, fast-forwarding evolution. But the idea that natural selection and environmental adaptation stopped among human beings the minute we emerged in the planet 200,000 years ago – and that there are no genetic markers for geographical origin or destination – is bizarre. It would be deeply strange if Homo sapiens were the only species on earth that did not adapt to different climates, diseases, landscapes, and experiences over hundreds of millennia. We see such adaptation happening very quickly in the animal kingdom. Our skin color alone – clearly a genetic adaptation to climate – is, well, right in front of one’s nose.

That’s an argument well at home within the circles of late 19th century Social Darwinism, Lamarckism, and scientific racism. I mean, Mongoloid skulls are this big and Nordic skulls are this big. It’s right in front of one’s nose!

That Sullivan cites Freddie DeBoer favorably in his argument also makes me laugh.

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  1. Scott S. says:

    Poodles walk like this. But beagles walk like this!

    • Tybalt says:

      “Poodles have names like Lenny, but beagles have names like Carl.”

    • baiskeli says:

      As a black person, this whole race/IQ discussion has been rage inducing (and it happens with a lot of regularity once every few years). I didn’t think anything could make me laugh, but your post just did.

      Thanks. I needed that.

      • NickT says:

        If it helps, Andrew Sullivan is an embarrassment to decent white people globally.

        • DrS says:

          Classification of people that are embarrassed to be joined, albiet in only minor ways, by Andrew Sullivan:
          White people
          Male people
          Gay people
          British people
          European people
          People who enjoy the same breakfast cereals as Andrew Sullivan
          People who ever had the same haircut as Andrew Sullivan
          People
          Primates
          Mammals
          Vertebrates
          Fauna

        • Tehanu says:

          Why does ANYBODY pay ANY attention to Andrew Sullivan? About anything? Even some of my favorite bloggers still read him because he’s “entertaining,” or something. All I can say is, jeez, what a tool.

          • This, as often as possible. I’m tired of saying it.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t pay attention to Andrew Sullivan except second-hand, and when I do go to his blog, it’s often full of shit – as we see here.

            Still, I haven’t seen him do a post that just says “I don’t know why anyone reads ____ about anything” – which is a point in his favor, if you ask me.

            It’s like talking trash about people who read romance novels, or people who own a television.

            (As opposed to talking trash about romance novels, or television, or Andrew Sullivan, who I think is a tool.)

          • Heron says:

            Our political and media elite pay attention to him, as do(some) high-minded upper-middle class douche-bags and (very many) lower-to-mid upper class scum-suckers. In particular, he’s an important “moral voice” to that social range of keep-your-hands-off-my-money liberals, I-earned-everything-I-have libertarians, and It’s-sad-poors-get-arrested-for-drug-offenses conservatives (A broader but more convenient short-hand? “People who subscribe to the Economist”).

            As the public intellectual for this small but important social class, I feel it’s important to keep track of what he says, and to troll him regularly in the hopes of subtly changing his mind over time.

  2. Tybalt says:

    There aren’t even any words left to describe the enormity of Andrew Sullivan’s scientific ignorance, blithe stupidity, and venomous inhumanity. I am stunned.

  3. David Kaib says:

    The conclusion is obvious – white people are stupid.

  4. N__B says:

    Sully can go fuck himself. I’m a polar bear.

    • CaptBackslap says:

      Santa?

    • Bill Murray says:

      at least your not the kind of bear Sully prefers

      • N__B says:

        I just woke up and am greeted by this revolting development. Mrs__B and I carefully size up situations and decide whether we’ll play them as the last Romanov princess and her trained bear, or the American Capitalist and his mail-order Russki.

        Maybe I’ll go back to bed and return to the nightmare I was having, where I was chased by nameless horrors but at least none of them were spouting pseudo-scientific racist crap.

  5. Matt McKeon says:

    Sullivan has a tin ear when it comes to race. And its nailed to a wooden head.

    • James Hare says:

      This hobbyhorse of his is particularly disturbing. You’d think that finding his pet “scholars” discredited time after time would make him gun-shy about pushing this repellent nonsense publicly. Instead he seems to have taken the opposite tack — just because those other guys have all been discredited doesn’t mean this other guy saying the exact same thing has!

      I also have to take issue with his armchair anthropology. UR DOING IT WRONG doesn’t even begin to explain it.

      • FMguru says:

        I gotta go with Occam’s Razor and conclude that he simply just really, really hates black people.

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        just because those other guys have all been discredited doesn’t mean this other guy saying the exact same thing has

        No, Sullivan does not accept that “those other guys have all been discredited”. As far as he is concerned, Charles Murray and ‘Bell Curve’ remain unchallenged and indeed irrefutable, and all those scientists who take issue with Murray are in denial of unpalatable truths. Richwine is merely restating the same arguments.

        Without the notoriety and right-wing acceptance that came with promoting ‘The Bell Curve’, would Sullivan be where he is today? Why would he accept that he was wrong to push racist pseudoscience?

      • TribalistMeathead says:

        In fairness, he reacted the same way when he was told there was no evidence that Sarah Palin isn’t Trig’s biological mother. His reaction to anyone discrediting any of his hobby horses is to dig in his heels.

      • Kathleen says:

        Perhaps he would benefit from David Brooks’ Humility class?

    • Duvall says:

      A tin ear implies that Sullivan doesn’t understand the meaning of what he’s saying. It’s much simpler to accept that he’s just a racist.

    • Barry says:

      He has a tin ear for the f-ing truth.

  6. joe from Lowell says:

    Black people are not “beagles.” There is more genetic diversity within the human population of Africa than among the rest of the human population put together. Describing races, as we use the term today, as comparable to individual breeds of a species is profoundly mistaken. The different populations of Africans and African-derived people are much more different from each other than most of them are from Europeans and European derived races.

    There are intelligent to things to say about human genetic diversity. Sullivan doesn’t say any of them; he indulges in mistaken pseudo-science, and the mistakes always seem to be made in the same direction.

    • Shakezula says:

      And then you add things like people from one continent being taken by inhabitants of another continent to third, already inhabited continent.

      And then someone later comes along and tries to shove all of these people and a few generations of offspring into specific categories.

      Good luck!

    • bluefoot says:

      People don’t seem to understand that race does not equal genetic background. It’s not even a remotely functional proxy. And profoundly lazy to use it as such.
      And if there was a modicum of understanding or intellectual honesty about intra-group variation and inter-group variation this whole discussion finally die a well-deserved death.

    • timb says:

      Not to mention the lack of diversity of humanity itself when compared to our closest neighbors on the ol’ genetic tree, where there is more genetic diversity between chimp groups on either side of a mountain than there in all of humanity.

      How can one miss this?

      • joe from Lowell says:

        How can one miss this?

        The Marxist answer works best here:

        Because there is a huge cultural artifice that has been built up over centuries that works to promote such an understanding, because it serves (or even served) to reinforce existing (or even former) power relations.

        • WeWantPie says:

          Now THAT’s an awesome response. But because you used the Mx Word (Marxist), you are unjustly disqualified. If you dislike it as much as I do, complain to the Management.

          • Dave says:

            Using ‘Marxist’ to label that explanation is also rather silly, since the one thing it lacks is any reference to relations of production in the formation of social structure. Culture-as-reinforcement-of-hierarchy, any schmuck can do that.

        • Heron says:

          I’d say that’s more the Nietzschean response. That particular bit of Marx’s analysis is something he picked up from Nietzsche, and one of the few ways his thinking is blessedly differentiated from The Damnedable Hagel.

  7. I’m almost impressed by Msr. deBoner’s ability to so thoroughly eviscerate those strawmen.

  8. NonyNony says:

    Wait – did he really just use dog breeds as examples of natural selection?

    (I know this is a minor point compared to everything else that is wrong with what he wrote but damn – he really is an idiot isn’t he?)

    • Erik Loomis says:

      When that’s like 5th on the list of problems with an article, you know it’s pretty bad.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Seriously. Sully managed to be unfair to Freddie DeBoner (no, really, no snark, DeBoner’s post was a non-wrong critique of the validity of tests to measure intelligence, which Sully uses to support Richwine). I would not have thought this possible.

    • Shakezula says:

      Well no, he admits dog breeding isn’t an example of natural selection but in his tiny mind dog breeding is enough like natural selection to mean something. Or perhaps he thinks that by invoking images of puppies people won’t hurl quite as much wrath.

      I realize that I am asking you to assume what goes on in Sully’s head resembles thought as normal people understand it.

      • NonyNony says:

        Well no, he admits dog breeding isn’t an example of natural selection

        I’m not going to give him that much credit because here’s how he phrased it:

        We bred those traits into them, of course, fast-forwarding evolution.

        I’m not giving Sullivan the benefit of the doubt here. He clearly doesn’t understand the idea of evolution via natural selection if he thinks that what happened with the creation of dog breeds via human selection is “fast forwarding” evolution.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Well no, he admits dog breeding isn’t an example of natural selection but in his tiny mind dog breeding is enough like natural selection to mean something.

        IIRC, in On The Origin of Species, Darwin starts by looking at dog breeding as an example of artificial selection, then moves on to natural selection.

        The silly part is not that dogs were bred for traits, but the idea that any environment (other than the aristocracy) did not select for and favor human intelligence.

        • SP says:

          Clearly the selective pressure of standardized testing has been shaping human abilities for millions of years so it’s obvious why some races do better at them than others.

        • John says:

          It’s certainly hard to see how natural selection could possibly have bred Europeans for intelligence. It seems fairly clear that until about 100 years ago, the vast majority of selective pressure on white people would have been towards greater resistance to epidemic diseases.

          • medrawt says:

            selective pressure caused by disease being responsible for the big non-appearance-based racial distinction that race-IQ fanatics can point to as evidence of genetic differences: sickle cell.

          • desertrat says:

            Particularly since the very same arguments were being made regarding the Europeans coming over in the 1800′s, and later the other Europeans coming over in the 1900′s and, well all the Chinese coming over in between were genetically inferior.

            Apparently GINORMOUS evolutionary pressures have rendered those plucky Asians an express ride up the IQ scale…

            • Barry says:

              “Apparently GINORMOUS evolutionary pressures have rendered those plucky Asians an express ride up the IQ scale…”

              (Mao. Don’t say anything, but the Great Leap Forward was actually genetic engineering)

          • Barry says:

            And for Northern Europeans, tolerance of cold and vitamin deficiencies.

        • Karen says:

          I was going to ask what environment favors being stupid, but theTexas Legislature is in session, giving me a perfect example.

        • medrawt says:

          This is the part that gets me (well, not the only part, but …)

          you have to either advance a theory that improved intelligence was a side effect that wasn’t particularly selected for (after human-level intelligence itself was either selected for or appeared by happenstance as we evolved from our ancestors) and just diverged in different populations, or

          you have to advance a theory that there was some specific environmental pressure that caused people in particular parts of the world to be selected for higher levels of intelligence. What that pressure is and over what time-span it was exerted is important, because then we could test the theory by targeting specific population groups based on our knowledge of when modern humans arrived where. I can come up with pie-in-the-sky guesses, but none of them seem terrible persuasive, and I shouldn’t have to do the race-theorists’ work for them.

          • Matt McIrvin says:

            I think the old-timey race-theorists’ hypothesis was that hunter-gatherer life in the tropics was a life of indolence requiring little intelligence.

            (In which case I would like to seem them try it.)

            Jared Diamond, who I regard as fairly dodgy as well, made an exactly opposite claim, that the New Guinea hunter-gatherers he knew were smarter than white people because the lifestyle was so cognitively demanding.

          • Heron says:

            “…because then we could test the theory by targeting specific population groups based on our knowledge of when modern humans arrived where.”

            In truth, we can’t even do that. While it’s still common in popular understanding to talk about ancient “migrations”, Anthropologists, Archeologists, and Historians have understood, more or less since the 70s, that the great “migrations” -Indo-Europeans, Mongols, ect- were more about the high-volume transfer of culture and low-volume transfer of genes than conquest and population-replacement.

            If Those migrations had been the vast movements of people we commonly visualize, there’d have been clear evidence of it (burned sites, battles, large-scale displacements, ect) but the archeological record simply doesn’t show that save in a few places (Greece, Phoenicia, and Turkey during the Archaic period iirc) and even that was very short-lived, probably more indicative of a period of frequent raiding and political change than ethnic-replacement. There are a few others (Egypt and the Hyksos, the “Aryan Conquest” of the Hindu holy books), but most of them lack all but the most tenuous archeological verification, meaning they are quite likely legendary re-imaginings, or simple PR.

        • DrDick says:

          Especially since the actual existing evidence strongly supports the assumption that the aristocracy selectively bred for stupidity, viciousness, and unbounded greed.

        • ajay says:

          IIRC, in On The Origin of Species, Darwin starts by looking at dog breeding as an example of artificial selection, then moves on to natural selection.

          Pigeons as well, I think, but yes (and, boy, you can get some weird looking pigeons if you work at it).

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        I am asking you to assume what goes on in Sully’s head resembles thought as normal people understand it.

        What goes on in Sullivan’s head? I have a mental image of maggots feeding on decomposing meat.

    • Warren Terra says:

      He uses beagles and poodles to demonstrate the vast range of phenotype within a species. Put to such a purpose, that part’s not so problematic. It’s the rest of his argument where he goes crazy.

      • Tybalt says:

        No, that is actually a powerfully stupid idea. There is nothing natural about dog breeds; those phenotypic differences arose by fundamentally different processes than the ones that create natural population differences, including in humans.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Sure. But if all you’re doing is saying “members of the same species can have enormous, genetically determined differences in phenotype”, the use of poodles and beagles is fine, is unobjectionable. It’s when he attempts to connect this to racial, ethnic, and national groups of humans that he faceplants.

          • aimai says:

            But of course to compare dogs to humans in the matter of selective breeding is to belive, contra all history to the contrary (especially in this country) that Humans did engage in selective breeding that isolated gene pools and races from one another. The fact that mixed race children were socially assigned to one race over another is obviously unequal to the notion that the two (or more) human populations we labled “black” and “white” were kept separate in any meaningful sense. I believe that noted scientist Mark Twain wrote a fairly definitive critique in Puddinhead Wilson. It is, at any rate, a fairly obvious objection to the Sullification of this debate that there are Japanese “hispanics” and white hispanics and all colors “hispanics” so what Richwine thinks he was measuring is utterly meaningless.

          • Jeremy says:

            “Members of the same species can have enormous, genetically determined differences in phenotype”

            But who’s arguing they can’t? I don’t think that anyone is saying that you couldn’t selectively breed humans for various traits, just that the actual history of the human race hasn’t done so. Which is why falsely conflating selective breeding and natural evolution as being the same basic process at different speeds is critical to his argument.

            • Warren Terra says:

              As I said: this part is not controversial. It’s the way he tries to use it where he makes bad analogies and false assertions.

            • Jimmy the Greek says:

              I don’t think that anyone is saying that you couldn’t selectively breed humans for various traits, just that the actual history of the human race hasn’t done so.

              What am I, chopped tziyerosarmas?

            • chris says:

              I don’t think that anyone is saying that you couldn’t selectively breed humans for various traits, just that the actual history of the human race hasn’t done so.

              But the actual history of the human race HAS done so, that’s as plain as the nose on your face, which is a different shape and color than the noses on a lot of other peoples’ faces. (Well, I suppose the shape differences could be neutral drift, but the color seems pretty clearly related to latitude and climate.)

              There is no evidence (that I know of) that the actual history of the human race has bred different groups of humans for different MENTAL traits. And there’s a whole lot of pseudoscience and prejudice and confounding influences that make it hard to tell even if someone were to take an honest look without major axes to grind.

              So it’s perfectly reasonable to assume (as a first hypothesis) that anyone who suggests that different “races” do have different mental traits is indulging their prejudices or does have an axe of some sort to grind.

      • slightly_peeved says:

        “hmmmmm… people seem to be accusing me and other people of being racist. how shall i defuse this? i know, I’ll compare black people to dogs. I’ll compare white people to dogs, too, thereby making it entirely inoffensive.”

        Geez, i think prince Philip might be telling him to shut up around now.

      • Barry says:

        In a certain sense – if humans were quite deliberately and competently bred for hundreds of generations by long-lived aliens, I’m sure that some very strange sub-species (and separate species) could be produced.

    • Tybalt says:

      Yup, he did, and he is. And what’s more, he thinks captive breeding is “fast-forwarding evolution”, perhaps in the same way that the Sears Tower is “fast-forwarding plate tectonics”.

    • WeWantPie says:

      Exactly! Yes, he truly is an idiot.

    • Andy the Brit says:

      The slave masters took their biggest and blackest buck
      and ….

  9. Shakezula says:

    Behold the way this human nematode slips blithely from smart poodles, not smart beagles, to different people in different parts of the globe tend to be different from other people on other parts of the globe because evolution, ergo the widely discredited concept of race (as defined in the U.S., don’t ask us to consider other countries, it gives us a headache) must have merit ergo it is OK to say some races are smarter than others, leave Jaaaaason aloooone!

    Like all attempts to justify white supremacy in the 21st cen. his argument has a heavy sheen of flop sweat.

  10. Cody says:

    Why does Andrew Sullivan hate beagles?

    I’ve met some very smart ones in my life. I demand answers to this breedism!!

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I’m sure one of his best friends is a beagle.

      • Jeremy says:

        I can’t recall if he has two or three beagles, one of which isn’t actually a purebred beagle. He seems quite fond of them, but I don’t really know what the relationship is like from the beagles’ perspectives.

        I noticed this passage on Keynes the other day:

        It seems to me that we can readily acknowledge and accept many unpleasant features of Keynes’ life (like his misogyny) without thereby impugning his economic arguments.

        So it appears that he’s capable of thinking of Keynes as a misogynist, based on statements that Keynes made, despite the fact that he had several close friends, such as Virginia Woolf, who were women. Maybe he could actually try applying that logic to Niall Ferguson.

        As for this current article, it starts “I should know better than to bring this up again.” That’s certainly true, he should know better, and really, he should have just left it at that. I mean, I thought his whole reason for ever bringing it up in the first place was because he was alarmed that this line of inquiry was being suppressed at our universities. Given that he’s discussing a Harvard PhD dissertation, that rationale seems obviously inapplicable.

    • Aaron B. says:

      Andrew actually owns two beagles and this is the metaphorical equivalent of “I have black friends!” because, well, Andrew doesn’t have non-metaphorical black friends.

    • Emily says:

      My beagle, Sam, was a fine example of man’s best friend (and girl’s best friend, too.) Sam was ever-faithful, loyal true and brave, not to mention mighty smart, maybe even smarter than Andrew Sullivan and Jason Richwine put together.

      • slightly_peeved says:

        well I’m guessing your beagle never espoused theories on racial differences in intelligence, which is certainly a point in his favour.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      He is trolling TBogg.
      Also trolling DrDick.

      • DrDick says:

        I quit paying attention to Sullie decades ago. Since he does not insist on intruding in place I go and where he does not belong, it is easy to ignore him.

  11. I thought poodles were black people because of their hair. Or something.

    Geez, this is stupid and depressing.

  12. dporpentine says:

    The most amazing thing about Freddie DeBoer is that he appears to know nothing–not even know his own area of academic specialization. I mean, he imagines that there’s this thing called “syntax” that’s somehow a mod version of what grandpa called “grammar.” It’s like thinking that thermodynamics is hepcat physics.

    Why would people listen to him about anything?

    • Barry says:

      “The most amazing thing about Freddie DeBoer is that he appears to know nothing–not even know his own area of academic specialization. I mean, he imagines that there’s this thing called “syntax” that’s somehow a mod version of what grandpa called “grammar.” It’s like thinking that thermodynamics is hepcat physics.”

      Could you please help me with this? Because I’d have agreed (with the syntax-grammar part, not the ‘hepcat physics’ part).

  13. Jay B. says:

    Then fuck it, in the coming race war, I’m with Snoopy.

  14. tt says:

    Can you point out what you think is actually wrong with the claim you quote? It seems basically right to me (Sullivan overstates the importance of adaptation–drift is also a big driver in phenotypic differences between populations). But it is actually true that for most quantitative traits we study there are differences between populations due to genetics. It’s true in humans, plants, other animals, and microbes and across a wide range of traits.

    • penpen says:

      read the comments above for starters

    • NonyNony says:

      You really want to defend the claim that this kind of genetic drift is something that would show up in our nebulously defined term “race”? Which is what Sully is defending here.

      Also too – explain how dog breeds are at all analagous to “race” and please be specific.

      • tt says:

        Adaptation, drift and mutation cause differences between populations (groups of organisms of a particular species which tend to mate among themselves). The extent to which such population boundaries correspond to human-defined “race” is case-specific, but often pretty good. Algorithms to cluster people based on gene markers give strong correspondence to self-reported ethnicity (this is actually a problem I’ve worked on personally in the context of medical genetics).

        Dog breeds are analogous to races in precisely the manner Sullivan describeds–they are genomically and phenotypically distinct populations within a single species.

        • timb says:

          Race is a social construct. There is no Latino race. 95% of the people who lived here (the New World) pre-Columbus were exterminated by accident at first, by war at second, and by slavery at third. The few remaining people inter-married with the melange of Portuguese, Spaniards, Africans, and quite a few Asians, who came voluntarily or involuntarily to the New World.

          Latinos/Hispanics are in large measure Caucasian, just like the folks Sully likes.

          • tt says:

            I’ve agreed that race is a social construct in nearly every comment I’ve made in this thread. It’s a social construct that happens to correlate very well with a biological concept in the modern US.

              • tt says:

                lol, yes. Do you have an informed objection to the study I posted?

                • aimai says:

                  This is completely false, especially for the US. No study can show you that “race” in a biological sense of seperable populations even exists, let alone tracks easily with social sterotypes.

                • tt says:

                  What do you mean? Africans and Europeans are clearly “separable” populations in the sense that they have tended to mate more with members of the group than members outside the group. Do you mean something else by “separable populations”?

                • Brandon says:

                  What is this “biological concept” to which you’re referring? How is it identified? How are in-groups and out-groups defined and characterized? Still sticking with the “one-drop” rule or???

                • tt says:

                  The biological concept refers to population groups in which there has been a greater tendency to mate within the group than outside the group. There are no perfect boundaries to define these populations and there are always edge cases (but sometimes only a small number of edge cases). In practice, you pick a number of clusters and ask a computer algorithm to divide your samples among them. Some algorithms are pretty complicated but simple principle component analysis does fine. If you do this among Americans you get clusters that correspond well to self-identified race/ethnicity. This means that people within a given cluster are more closely related to each other than to people in other clusters, and therefore more genetically similar. There is no firm definition in which you can say 4 clusters is “true”, and a small number of individuals (<1%) are assigned to clusters which differ from their self-reported race/ethnicity.

                • anthrofred says:

                  The actual data in Tang et al. is interesting, but their conclusion seems to be escaping this conversation:

                  “This result indicates that studies using genetic clusters instead of racial/ethnic labels are likely to simply reproduce racial/ethnic differences, which may or may not be genetic. On the other hand, in the absence of racial/ethnic information, it is tempting to attribute any observed difference between derived genetic clusters to a genetic etiology. Therefore, researchers performing studies without racial/ethnic labels should be wary of characterizing difference between genetically defined clusters as genetic in origin, since social, cultural, economic, behavioral, and other environmental factors may result in extreme confounding”

                  In other words, the actual importance of this clustering could be highly overstated.

                • aimai says:

                  “Africans” and “Europeans” are not the only two groups who “mate seperately”–the Amish don’t mate with the French Canadians. Are you asserting that these groups are wholly genetically seperable in some significant way? What about the Jews and the Irish? My great Uncle (Jewish) had red hair–did that make him Irish? He was also a Cohen–one of the few groups to have a demonstrably distinctive genetic makeup among a Diasporic Jewish population that has generally been found to be genetically and phenotypically quite similar to whoever they settled among.

                  Do you have accurate data on how many African descended people have passed as white? How quickly during the course of intermarriage or inter racial reproduction does one genetically identical sibling with lighter skin color move into the social category “white” while others stay in the “African American” ethnic category? What about the Melungeon? A group who now sometimes look “white” who are probably an amalgamation of white, ex slave, native american but who never identify at all as non white because to do so rendered them unable to hold land safely. One study that argues that people who voluntarily classify themselves into broad ethnic categories may not always be lying doesn’t tell you that there is such a thing as biologically signficant race.

                • tt says:

                  anthrofred: The problem is that self-identified race/ethnicity correlates very well with genomically-defined populations. However, it also correlates with a number of social variables for reasons which may not be genetic: self-identified race/ethnic groups are culturally as well as genetically distinct. So the authors are warning against the reasoning which says, you find a difference in disease prevalance bewteen clusters, therefore there must be a genetic difference between them causing the disease. It’s also possible that there’s a social factor which causes the disease and follows the same patterns that the genetics does.

                  What they are not saying is that clustering does a poor job of capturing population structure. It does a good job.

        • aimai says:

          Basically, from an anthropological and historical perspective, there are very few truly isolated populations and just a few generations of interbreeding creates a situation in which very few traits (sickle cell, BRAC1 gene, tay sachs) would spread throughout the population–at any rate the possession of these traits wouldn’t track other social markers of race like accent, skin color, eye color, etc… When you drill down to something as complex as IQ–which is clearly not encoded in any single gene or set of genes–you simply can’t demonstrate any kind of propensity to be stupid or propensity to be smart apart from social conditions.

          • Barry says:

            “When you drill down to something as complex as IQ–which is clearly not encoded in any single gene or set of genes–you simply can’t demonstrate any kind of propensity to be stupid or propensity to be smart apart from social conditions.”

            And which we’ve seen alter radically in groups in one or two generations, correlating well with improved social/physical living conditions.

        • joel hanes says:

          The extent to which such population boundaries correspond to human-defined “race” is case-specific, but often pretty good.

          There’s your mistake.

          This assertion is completely false when applied to the “race” categories popularly used in the United States.
          See the “one drop rule” for one example.

        • mpowell says:

          tt, I’ve heard the claim that socially constructed race doesn’t exist genetically. It’s a claim that seems plausible for hispanics, a little less so for africans, but I don’t know anything about the subject really. The response you’re getting here is probably coming from people who have heard the same thing. You are, in a straightforward manner, disputing this claim, at least for certain socially constructed race categories based on science that you have been exposed to. I don’t have any reason to disbelieve you. But do you have any links to studies or at least authority figures making this claim that you could point to so that I don’t have to rely on the word of someone psuedo-anonymous on the internet?

          • tt says:

            mpowell, do you not find the study I linked convincing? I’m not sure what else you want. Population structure is well-studied among medical geneticists, human anthropologists, etc. Among these researchers it is completely uncontroversial that if you genotype a sample of African Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans, then run genetic cluster analysis on the entire study and ask for 5 clusters, you will get very high degree of homogeneity of self-identified race/ethnicity within each cluster. I suspect this is taught in most populations genetics classes in the US (I first learned it in such a class), and I can get you lots of studies that say this.

            I don’t know that anyone outright says “socially constructed races exist genetically.” Human medical genetics (the field I work in) doesn’t consist of lots of bomb-throwers who like getting into fights with e.g. cultural anthropologists. The concept of “socially constructed race” just isn’t one we think much about. What we care about is that you can ask people to self-identify and use that to account for population structure, which has practical use in genome-wide association studies.

            • timb says:

              You can’t be as dense as you are pretending to be. People sexually select for people who look like them. Is anyone disputing that?

              The extension of the observation that slight genetic differences create markers which can be tracked is not IQ is inheritable, especially when the “separate group” cannot be defined, did not “evolve” in isolation, and “separated” from the main group less than 400 years ago (if they could ever be said to have been separated).

              Stop repeating the same over and over and just leave it alone. Sickle cell and Tay Sachs are examples of specific small variations which have occurred in genetic isolated groups. This is NOT akin to intelligence, which is just as broad and undefined as the subject of race is and your continuing to beat the drum of “all I’m saying is….” is either disingenuous or moving toward trolling.

              • tt says:

                timb: why are you acting like what I say in the post you’re responding to is uncontroversial? As mpowell said, most liberals believe that socially-constructed races are not genetically distinct. I’m glad you agree with me that self-identified race/ethnicity is statistically related to real genetic differences, but many people on this thread do not.

                From the beginning I’ve been talking about quantitative traits–not Tay Sachs or Sickle Cell, which are simple Mendelian diseases. Pick a species with multiple populations, pick a trait, and you will find, almost always, that the populations differ in that trait for reasons that are partially explainable by genetics. Human height is a good example. It has strong environmental component, a strong genetic component, and human populations differ in each, which explains differences between ethnic groups in average height. Therefore it is not implausible to suppose that human intelligence, however defined, might follow a similar pattern. That’s what I took Sullivan to be saying, and it’s basically right.

                • wjts says:

                  The problem (the insurmountable hurdle?) for Sullivan’s argument is the idea that intelligence is an attribute that can be quantified in a meaningful way that is amenable to analysis. Suggesting that “intelligence” can be objectively measured and compared between or among groups the same way height can is edging into “assume a perfectly elastic spherical horse running through a vacuum” territory.

                • tt says:

                  But Sullivan actually agrees with you on that:

                  I believe IQ is an artificial construct created to predict how well a random person is likely to do in an advanced post-industrial society. And that’s all it is. It certainly shouldn’t be conflated with some Platonic idea of “intelligence.”

                • wjts says:

                  Given that Sullivan has spent 20 years championing the work of Charles Murray, who very much does believe that IQ is a perfectly reliable proxy for intelligence – indeed, is something very close to a Platonic ideal of “intelligence” – I am inclined to suspect that there is some small possibility that Sullivan might be being just a little bit disingenuous in his claim there. This is not my first time at the Andrew Sullivan Race and Intelligence Rodeo.

                • mpowell says:

                  I want to also say that while Sullivan’s words in this case may be technically accurate and defensible, his work over the last 20 years strongly indicates he has an intellectual and political agenda that is not defensible based on the science.

            • mpowell says:

              Just to note, the study you link to below is very convincing. I just hadn’t gotten down that far yet (and this thread has gotten crazy long!). I think the work I had heard of was mostly the earlier stuff that didn’t use enough markers. Glad to be better informed!

      • Tybalt says:

        Plus, the subject of the whole discussion isn’t even about a race. The argument is about “Hispanics”, an entirely cultural category with extreme genotypic heterogeneity. If Sullivan is going to defend Richwine–and his committee–on those grounds (and he seems very much to want to do so) he needs to fully retreat into Lamarckism; a belief that speaking Spanish can unalterably degrade one’s genotype.

        Let’s not forget this. To accept research like this into “historical ethnicity” on these grounds, as Sullivan advocates, is not even wrong.

        • tt says:

          If you look at the study I linked below (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1196372/), Hispanics in the US actually do cluster pretty well, and the Hispanic cluster falls in between the white and East Asian clusters.

          • aimai says:

            But some hispanics, notably those from hispania, are all white while others are mixed white/indio. You are really flogging a dead horse.

            • tt says:

              Can you explain the clustering data then?

              • NickT says:

                Simply pointing to a misunderstood piece of data is not an argument – and requires no refutation. Anyway, when did you stop beating your wife?

                • tt says:

                  You haven’t responded to anything I’ve said so I have no idea what your point is. What I’m saying is my honest conclusions based on my knowledge. If you think I’m mistaken about something, please tell me what it is and why.

                • NickT says:

                  tt, the one thing you don’t demonstrate on this topic is knowledge.

                • tt says:

                  This is my field. Where did you learn population genetics?

              • aimai says:

                Your data is full of shit. Is that enough for you? One study, one set of data, is not proof of anything. It is however an obvious fact that the category “hispanic” covers a multitude of people from different countries, different ethnicities, different histories, different appearance (if that matters to you) and therefore these people can not be considered genetically identical because they don’t even belong to the kind of isolated intermarrying population groups you are imagining.

                • tt says:

                  If I get you more studies which show the same thing will that satisfy you? Would any evidence convince you?

                  Hispanics are not genetically identical. They do, however, tend to be more closely related to each other than to other ethnic groups in the US.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  tt, I haven’t followed your link. But a blockquote from it someplace in this thread seems to suggest that for their “Hispanic” sample they used members of the Mexican-American community of one Texas town. If this is the case – if this is even remotely close to being the case – their data on diversity among “Hispanics” are almost meaningless, as anyone who’s casually read about patterns of migration from Mexico can tell you.

                • Warren Terra says:

                  Now that I have looked: all but one of the 400+ “Hispanics” came from a rural Texas county on the Mexican border. To say this is a “Hispanic” sample is similar to saying 400 people from a rural region 50 miles from Aberdeen are a sample of “Europeans”. Who the heck reviewed this paper?

                • tt says:

                  Here is a study on Hispanic population structure, which finds differences between Hispanics from Latin American countries. You’re right that it’s a complicated case, because different Hispanic populations have different degrees of admixture. So “Hispanic” might not be a good unit of analysis for taking population structure into account.

                • timb says:

                  So “Hispanic” might not be a good unit of analysis for taking population structure into account.

                  And, yet, weirdly, that’s the topic we’re discussing. Now, that we all agree, will you stop being pedantic and join in making fun of Richwine and Sullivan?

                • tt says:

                  I’m not defending Richwine, just the Sullivan quote that Loomis took to be self-evidently wrong.

                • John says:

                  It seems remarkably unlikely that, say, a group of Mexican Americans of largely Native American ancestry and a group of Puerto Rican Americans of mixed European and African ancestry would be particularly closely related to one another.

          • Hanspeter says:

            This is the very last part of the study you quote:

            This result indicates that studies using genetic clusters instead of racial/ethnic labels are likely to simply reproduce racial/ethnic differences, which may or may not be genetic. On the other hand, in the absence of racial/ethnic information, it is tempting to attribute any observed difference between derived genetic clusters to a genetic etiology. Therefore, researchers performing studies without racial/ethnic labels should be wary of characterizing difference between genetically defined clusters as genetic in origin, since social, cultural, economic, behavioral, and other environmental factors may result in extreme confounding.

            In short, don’t use genetic labels unless you have actual 1000% confidence in your racial/ethnic clustering, and then environmental factors will take over vs actual genetic causes.

            • anthrofred says:

              You beat me to it – I was reading the conclusion when you were posting, I think!

              They aren’t actually saying one shouldn’t use genetic clusters as units of analysis, though, or associate them tentatively with SIRE as they’ve done. The caution here is against looking at the behavior or phenotype of a given cluster or group and giving it a genetic basis, as his often historically been the case. In other words: yes, we’ve found clustering, but the “so what?” is still in the air.

              • mpowell says:

                This is very much true, but I’m glad I learned about this result. If genetic clustering was not associated with SIRE, that would simply end the argument against Bell Curve type arguments regarding the basis of IQ heritability, but the strong clustering doesn’t end the argument going the other way. But now I can be better informed for future discussions at least.

          • wjts says:

            “Our sample was from a single location in Texas and was composed of Mexican Americans.”

            I suspect that including, say, a group from the Dominican Republic, another from Peru, and a third from Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil would make the clustering picture very different.

            • anthrofred says:

              In fairness to tt: This is almost certainly true, but also not necessarily relevant, as those groups would most likely not share the same identification.

              It is a damn small sample from which to draw conclusions about hispanics broadly, though I suspect there’s been some exaggeration from the results rather than in the study itself.

            • Warren Terra says:

              From what I’ve read about migration patterns, it is very common for the Mexicano immigrant population in one area of the US to have their origins in a single village or cluster of villages back in Mexico. There’s probably also an ethnic bias in the migration itself: people of less diluted indigenous heritage have often suffered various forms of economic discrimination, especially land displacement, and so may disproportionately contribute to migrant populations, as compared to people with more ties to the privileged ethnicities of the colonial and early post-colonial era.

              • Hogan says:

                From what I’ve read about migration patterns, it is very common for the Mexicano immigrant population in one area of the US to have their origins in a single village or cluster of villages back in Mexico.

                I’ve been told by sources I consider reliable that the Mexicans who work the mushroom farms in Kennett Square, PA tend to come from the same small area. (And, in many cases, to go back.)

                • chris says:

                  Probably because the same person or group of people recruited them from there in the first place.

                  How do you suppose a Mexican villager finds out that a mushroom farm in Kennett Square, PA is hiring, anyway? I doubt if it’s on Craigslist.

              • Brandon says:

                This can be true for some European populations as well. My wife’s family on her father’s side all pretty much up and left a rural village in Italy and settled in a suburb of Chicago.

            • tt says:

              That’s a very good point. If you sampled Hispanics accross the US they migth cluster differently. Not something I’ve studied deeply because the populations I work on don’t have a lot of Hispanics.

    • David Kaib says:

      Differences among populations is one thing. Race is purely a cultural / political category, which has changed vastly over time and across cultures, and does not have any genetic meaning. For one thing.

      • tt says:

        I agree that race is a cultural/political category, but self-reported race/ethnicity tends to correspond well to algorithms which cluster people based on genes. This is a very important issue in medical genetics because genetic studies will give the wrong result if you don’t account for population structure, which is often done using self-reported race/ethnicity. So it’s very well studied. Here is a good study which found only 0.14% mismatch (others have found slightly higher).

    • Warren Terra says:

      The quote is fine. People differ from each other; groups of people can differ from each other; some identifiable groups of people can differ from other identifiable groups, and part of that difference is genetic in nature. The problem is when you take those anodyne statements, and falsely use them to “discover” meaningful genetic differences in the intelligence of those identifiable groups, differences big enough, reliable enough, and determinative enough so as to justify treating individual members of those groups differently. The data simply aren’t there to support huge genetic determinants of intelligence and career success that are strongly linked to the social construct of race, or to national origins. On the other hand, there is excellent documentary evidence of bloviating pseudoscience to justify the exclusion and abuse of despised outgroups (racial minorities, despised nationalities), and plenty of subsequent evidence in the later success of those outgroups to demonstrate the falsity of that pseudoscience.

      • tt says:

        Yeah. I basically agree with this. But I don’t take Sullivan’s article (in which he’s fairly negative towards to Richwine) to disagree. Richwine, Murray, etc. are terrible people and bad scientists but that doesn’t mean we need to discard basic population genetics.

        • aimai says:

          Populations in the US are not separated and never have been since the moment the first Europeans set foot here and began propagating like mad across racial lines. There are plenty of people of Native American descent who are part white or who are part African in descent in fact so much so that the very idea of a separate population that “tracks” this self identification in a genetic sense is bunk.

          • tt says:

            100% reproductive isolation is not necessary to get genetically distinct populations.

            • aimai says:

              If you want the variation between the two groups to be greater than the variation within the group yes it is. You don’t understand populations at all, do you?

              • tt says:

                If you want the variation between the two groups to be greater than the variation within the group yes it is.

                This is also not necessary to get genetically distinct populations.

            • joel hanes says:

              In your mind, what level of reproductive isolation _is_ necessary to maintain genetically distinct populations?

              What level of reproductive isolation do you think historically obtained between US “whites” and US “blacks” ?

              Between Mexican “Spanish” and Mexican “Indians” ?

              • tt says:

                That’s a good question and I’m not sure anyone knows the answer precisely. What we do know is that we can detect much finer differences bewteen populations than exists between the major ethnic groups in the US–there’s a lot of work characterizing genomic clusters among populations in Western Europe, for example.

        • anthrofred says:

          I mostly agree re: population genetics, though you picked a hell of an opportunity to defend the field. Sully’s metaphor is simplistic and best and offensive at worst, particularly because he starts off by talking about differences in intelligence between dog breeds.

          • tt says:

            Fair enough. I just get annoyed when people respond to race/IQ bullshit with scientific innaccuracies. We should win the battle by being better than them on the science.

    • wjts says:

      For Sullivan’s argument to work you need to:

      1. Provide a biologically valid quantitative measure of intelligence.

      2. Provide a biologically valid definition of race.

      3. Provide a viable model of why selection pressures for intelligence differed so dramatically (and on a descending cline) among Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa*.

      *Bonus question: Native American populations, including the ancestors of numerous Hispanic people, became reproductively isolated from their East Asian ancestors sometime prior to 13,000 and 15,000 years ago. Construct a biologically valid model for explaining why the intelligence of this population declined so dramatically in such a short period of time.

      • tt says:

        1. For the simple argument Sullivan makes, it doesn’t matter what quantitative trait you choose to call “intelligence”, because pretty much all quantitative traits differ between populations due to genetic differences.
        2. Race is not a biological concept. It just happens to correspond very well to biologically-distinct populations, at least in the US context.
        3. Sullivan is wrong here. You don’t need selection get phenotypic variation linked to genetics. Drift is sufficient.

        • Brandon says:

          1. Unless what you’re actually measuring are cultural artifcats and not inherent genetic traits.
          2. lol, no.
          3. Except that we need to identify these isolated breeding populations and explain the “drift,” because “black” covers a huge range of populations.

          • tt says:

            Again–the fact that groups in the US defined by self-reported ethnicity are genetically distinct is not a hypothesis derived from theoretical speculations. It’s proven fact. If you disagree, read the study I posted and point out where it is wrong.

            • aimai says:

              I think you need to get back to the basic fact: you can’t identify a single thing called Intelligence, a gene or a set of genes that produces intelligence, or any population that would have bred intelligence out because of environmental factors. Because that is what it would have to take–you could breed people to be idiots, of course, over a fairly long span of time but there has been no such concerted effort with a global enough reach to produce something like a mental stunting of one group–and even if you had the uncontrolled breeding of the other groups didn’t turn on intellegence (marriage and sexual relations in the West, certainly, have never favored the intelligent) so the liklihood that selective breeding produced a highly intelligent white population is absurd.

              To the extent that desirable marriage partners for the upper classes were wealthy or aristocratic the only examples of controlled breeding we have clearly bred intelligence right out of the Hapbsburgs. Everyone else was fucking as much and whover they could. No separate populations.

              • tt says:

                There’s a famous figure which overlays a PCA plot of genetic markers from a sample of Europeans. The plot recapitulates the map of Europe–the first component runs along something like a North-South gradient, and the second along an East-West gradient. Here is an example. So it’s been known for a long time that even within Europe there are genetically distinct populations across space. You clearly disagree with the data, but haven’t actually proposed an argument to explain why it looks like this.

                • NickT says:

                  Which completely misses the point – and does nothing for your argument. Why do you insist on trying to kludge together all sorts of different concepts in the hope of somehow defending Sullivan’s polite racism?

                • tt says:

                  Nick–I’m very interested in your specific problem with what I’m saying. Why don’t you tell me what it is?

              • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. says:

                you could breed people to be idiots, of course, over a fairly long span of time

                Three generations is enough.

      • futternutter says:

        Problem is that Sullivan isn’t making an argument about a genetic basis for differences between groups. He’s ranting against the liberal a priori fact that there can’t be any racial differences at all, or even racial categories at all, and that racial a priori justifies persecuting Richwine.

        1. In his actual post Sullivan explicitly denies point one: “I believe IQ is an artificial construct created to predict how well a random person is likely to do in an advanced post-industrial society. And that’s all it is.”

        2. Not sure he even really believes in point two either, saying that “if you accept the broad racial categories Americans use as shorthand for a bewilderingly complex DNA salad (a big if, of course)” then there is some evidence for differing ability between groups.

        3. Sullivan also denies point three: “[P]ossible reasons for the enduring discrepancies: environment, nurture, culture, or genes – or some variation of them all?”

        Finally, he says that instead of just assuming Richwine is evil and wrong we should “do what the scholar Dana Goldstein has done – criticize Richwine’s dismissal of education and poverty as factors affecting IQ in his dissertation” — in other words, we need to fight bad science with better science instead of just grabbing some rope and stringing Richwine up from the nearest tree.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Thisis all fine if we were all born yesterday. Back on Planet Earth, where we’ve all been living for a while, Sully has a track record: he’s Charles Murray’s and The Bell Curve‘s biggest fan, promoter, and defender. He was when he gave them the cover of The New Republic, and he has continued to be so in his decade(s) as a blogger. It’s nice that he offers all those caveats you cite on this occasion – but people who’ve been paying attention know what he really thinks, wht he’s never said he’s stopped thinking.

          As to Sully’s omplaing about Richwine’s critics leaping to attack and deride Richwine rather than engaging with Richwine’s work substantively: again, there’s a track record. The reason people feel free to dismiss Richwine out of hand is because we’ve been here before. People have repeatedly been as substantive as you’d care for them to be when tearing down the work that underlies Richwine’s work; indeed, from what I’ve seen written elsewhere, the references cited in Richwine’s thesis are highly constrained to reflect a small subset of positions, positions that come fairly thoroughly pre-discredited for our convenience. The fact that people see that same old song and don’t immediately pull out their slide rules to carefully calculate the degree of contempt they should have for the singer doesn’t mean their contempt is misplaced.

        • commie atheist says:

          We did that? Funny, it seems like most of his criticism came from the right.

        • Hogan says:

          instead of just grabbing some rope and stringing Richwine up from the nearest tree.

          No, fuck you.

        • joel hanes says:

          It’s not a priori. With respect to “intelligence”, whatever that is, it’s what Gould called a “contingent truth” — it might have turned out otherwise, but as far as science can determine, all extant human populations have roughly the same naturall endowment.

          See The Mismeasure of Man for a book-length treatment of these ideas.

      • DTW says:

        Bonus Answer: They Beringian people had the misfortune
        of reproducing with the pre-Clovis populations already in the
        Americas.

    • DrDick says:

      Human beings are among the least genetically diverse animal species and about 98% of the difference that does exist is between individuals in the same population. It is also the case that the amount of variation within populations (at least those of any significant size) is greater than the difference between populations. It has also been conclusively proven, repeatedly, that there are no consistent measurable differences in mental capabilities between populations.

      • chris says:

        It has also been conclusively proven, repeatedly, that there are no consistent measurable differences in mental capabilities between populations.

        A negative statement has been conclusively proven? How did they do that?

        Not to mention that the definition of “measurable” is always subject to revision, anyway.

        Putting a low upper limit on the size of between-group differences I can buy, even agree with. But to claim that the null hypothesis has been *affirmatively proven* seems like overselling the evidence.

  15. wengler says:

    And it’s a gay guy making this argument. It’s hard to fathom really.

    Even if there was a huge amount of genetic variation in humans(and there isn’t), it’s a bit muted by the fact that black people in the US have a whole lot of white in their history, and vice-versa(a pooagle).

    • NonyNony says:

      it’s a bit muted by the fact that black people in the US have a whole lot of white in their history, and vice-versa(a pooagle).

      YES.

    • Hogan says:

      Yeah, this is the thing. If they really wanted to study race and intelligence, they’d be giving Stanford-Binet tests to relatively isolated and homogeneous populations, not to the descendants of the miscegenationfest that is American history. (And I don’t just mean US.)

    • MAJeff says:

      And it’s a gay guy making this argument. It’s hard to fathom really.

      It’s a white Thatcherite. Not so hard to fathom, really.

    • Sly says:

      Even if there was a huge amount of genetic variation in humans(and there isn’t), it’s a bit muted by the fact that black people in the US have a whole lot of white in their history, and vice-versa(a pooagle).

      And the topic isn’t even black people in the U.S., it’s Hispanics in the Americas; a category of people with such a diverse admixture (including, it needs to be said, lots and lots of European ancestry) that the colonial Spanish tied themselves into taxonomic knots trying to order them into a hierarchy.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      And it’s a gay guy making this argument. It’s hard to fathom really.

      Being on one axis of oppression does not guarantee compassion for people on any other axis.

  16. J.W. Hamner says:

    Well there is certainly evidence that Tibetans are adapted to high altitude for example… so I don’t know that the paragraph in question is particularly worthy of scorn.

    • Hogan says:

      In context, the key difference is that we know what arterial oxygen saturation is and have clear ways to measure it. Intelligence, not so much.

      • J.W. Hamner says:

        Sure, but simply because IQ tests are stupid and used by racists to advance racist policy preferences does not mean that suggesting that there might be meaningful physiological differences between races is nonsense. I have in fact seen numerous papers over the years looking at differences in cardiovascular regulation between African Americans and Caucasians, and I don’t imagine any of that work is motivated by racist sentiments.

        • aimai says:

          But the point is that its intellectually dishonest of Sullivan etc.. to slide from areas in which there clearly has been selective breeding and/also real “survival of the fittest” style natural selection to the utterly indefensible claim that such pressures *ever* produce a stupider population. There is literally no place on earth where natural selection would produce a less intelligent human or that those who are less intelligent would survive and thrive more successfully than smarter members of their population. Even where fertility is strictly controlled (access to women, access to resources) by the dead weight of the elders the more intelligent human being is going to reproduce more successfully.

          • herr doktor bimler says:

            There is literally no place on earth where natural selection would produce a less intelligent human or that those who are less intelligent would survive and thrive more successfully than smarter members of their population.

            English upper classes? US punditry?

          • Karen says:

            Several state legislatures meet this test. Of course, most members have already spawned by the time they’re elected, so unless certain state capital buildings (*including my own beloved Austin) produce mutating radiation, I don’t think even those places qualify,

          • Q? says:

            Is this actually true?

            Doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to think faster/stronger in a population would do better than smarter at certain times in human history.

            • herr doktor bimler says:

              But that does not reduce the evolutionary selection for intelligence, unless the two were incompatible — so that speed / strength came at the expense of intelligence — and that does not seem to be so.

              In a situation where strength or endurance are desirable — which seems to have happened during the settlement of the Pacific, so Polynesians tend to be physically larger than their Micronesian cousins — intelligence still retains whatever advantage it might bring.

              • Pseudonym says:

                Well, I could see how selectivity for bigger brains could be maladaptive for survival of childbirth, for example, or surviving severe caloric deficits. Those are just hypotheticals though.

                • herr doktor bimler says:

                  Though we know that brain size and intelligence are only weakly correlated.

                  There are some interesting questions there, like “Why are primate brains so poorly designed?” Or to put it another way, “Why are we so stupid, given our brain size?”

                  Compare with parrots, say, who manage the tasks of flying; 3D navigation; social skills; reasonable language understanding and production; and an overall intelligence at least as good as a poodle — all with a brain about the size of a cashew nut. Or corvids.

                  Really it’s a problem with mammal brains in general. We seem to have evolved down a dead end.

                • wjts says:

                  Absolute brain size isn’t usually the best metric, but encephalization quotient doesn’t work too badly as a quick-and-dirty rule of thumb for inter-taxonomic comparisons.

                • Brandon says:

                  don’t forget crows, herr dokter! Some species (New Caledonian) exhibit mental capabilities more complex than other primates can.

                • aimai says:

                  In fact we are altricial for just this reason: in order to have bigger brains and yet survive childbirth (and have our mothers do as well) we do a ton of growing and developing outside of the womb. Our brains keep growing and keep changing for a very long time and we rely on extreme attention and care from our parents/grandparents/society in order to come to full development. This is why extrapolating about “native” or “genetic” intelligence from IQ tests administered late in development is so weird–the host of environmental effects then have to be guessed at or retrojected onto the study. Identical populations with identical everything but lead consumption are going to produce people with very different IQs as tested late in life. But we have no genetic test for IQ–because its not a gene or an array of genes but rather a potentiality–that we could administer at birth.

                • Pseudonym says:

                  Yeah, that’s why I mentioned hypotheticals, because I don’t actually know anything about this shit, but I figured someone would. Thanks.

            • Nietzsche's mother's ghost says:

              Friedrich, is that you?

    • Scott P. says:

      Tibetans are an ethnic group, not a race. The racial equivalent would be to note that Tibetans and Indigenous Peruvians have adaptations to high altitude, and then concluding that Taiwanese are born mountain climbers.

    • Bassopotamus says:

      It doesn’t take very long to acclimate to altitude, and the effects linger. That’s why many endurance athletes train at altitude.

      • J.W. Hamner says:

        That’s true, but the Tibetan adaptation is, at least partially, genetic.

        • aimai says:

          I really wonder about that–I mean, I can imagine situations in which people who were formerly tibetan and didn’t inherit the high altitude gene moved down to lower altitudes and survived and became, you know, Sherpas, or Limbus, or someone else. Some of them would retain the marker, and some of them wouldn’t–but the fact that they are no longer considered “Tibetans” is more a mark of the social construction of the political boundaries of Tibetans than it is a reality. In other words: having the gene might mean you could keep living on the Tibetan plateau and calling yourself a Tibetan, not having it might mean you would move to a lower altitude and eventually borders and the Chinese or the Nepali government would reclassify you as “not Tibetan” but say, Tibetanid or formerly Tibetan or now Limbu or Rai.

          My point here is that the notion that there’s some sort of natural boundary between a “race” of Tibetans and some other race of non Tibetans dissolves instantly when you try to look at the various descendants of the actual Tibetan people.

  17. Mudge says:

    I nominate Sullivan as a candidate for a journalistic Darwin Award.

  18. Wapiti says:

    Ok, I’m going to really risk being ignorant, but Sully says that “skin color alone – clearly a genetic adaptation to climate”. What’s the benefit to lighter skin in the northern hemisphere, that encouraged that adaptation? Or does he think that white is the norm and blacks evolved to be darker near the equator for protection from the sun?

  19. Warren Terra says:

    The other day I joked that it was a shame Sully wasn’t godfather to Richwine’s children, the way he’s godfather to Niall Ferguson’s kid. I see now that Sully is willing to leap to the defense of co-aligned bigots whether or not he’s godfather to their kids. So, that’s nice. And maybe Richwine will have more kids.

  20. somethingblue says:

    Is it too much to hope that some enterprising journalist will solicit Niall Ferguson’s views on all this?

  21. herr doktor bimler says:

    But the idea that[...] there are no genetic markers for geographical origin or destination – is bizarre

    Sullivan is asserting that there are “genetic markers for geographical origin” and for “geographical destination”, these being self-evident truths with which only a fool would disagree.
    I would like to know more about these geographical-destination zip-codes within the human genome that guide us to our intended homes.

    Underlying the rest of Sullivan’s paragraph is an assumption that some habitats are more cognitively demanding than others. We are meant to conclude that Africa is a veritable Cockaigne where no thought is required for survival because the food falls out of trees, giving the various African ethnic groups no incentive to select for intelligence. Conversely, Europe and Asia are deathtrap continents where survival is possible only through unstinting ingenuity.

    Send the dude to the Kalahari and see how long he lives. Reality TV at its best.

    • Hogan says:

      Survivor: Not

    • anthrofred says:

      Jared Diamond, back in his Guns, Germs and Steel days, somewhat cheekily argued that New Guinea Tribesmen should theoretically have greater intelligence than the great American Layabout due to the selective pressure of the environment.

      Diamond is an ethical nightmare and horrible for native people, but his half-serious point would be worth Sully’s attention.

    • Funkula says:

      Hey, Africa’s only the scene of one of the most badass predator-prey arms races found on the globe, leading to a variety of large, deadly, and wary animals. What possible adaptive utility would human intelligence have there?

  22. wengler says:

    I remember watching some show where there was a woman arguing that Ashkenazi Jews were the smartest race. Guess what she was?

  23. Thers says:

    The white poodle is the beagle of Liberal Fascism!

  24. Bassopotamus says:

    I go back and forth on the Drama Bear. This morning, he had a pretty good piece on the IRS scandal. The he drops this nonsense in the afternoon.

  25. Literally not one of the people criticizing me appear to actually have read what I wrote. Like, not at all. It’s amazing to me that so many people are asserting that I believe in race science when yesterday I wrote “I believe that the case for scientific racial inferiority is wrong.” Or, you know, that I’ve been writing critically against race science for as long as I’ve been writing publicly.

    Were you an honest person, Erik, you’d be rebutting these people. But you aren’t, so you haven’t.

    • NickT says:

      What exactly are you objecting to in this piece? Could you explain that without the personal attacks and self-pity in advance?

      • I’m objecting to Loomis associating me with the race and IQ argument when I have explicitly rejected it over and over again, and for not rebutting the commenters above who are asserting that I believe those arguments when I have said explicitly that I don’t.

        • Scanner says:

          Just reading Erik’s original post naively, a plausible interpretation seems that he found it laughable Sullivan so misread your post.

          • Warren Terra says:

            This is a plausible interpretation. An equally plausible interpretation is that DeBoer has done an excellent job of turning himself into a blogospheric punchline, so the idea one would resort to citing him, favorably or unfavorably, is a measure of the quality of one’s argument.

            • And yet, here you are, talking about me.

              • It’s a game to see how long we can all go without typing [BONERS] in response.

                …..

                Ah shit.

                • And there we have my point again: Loomis likes to pose as someone who is above pure childishness, so he leaves that to you. The fundamental nature of Lawyers Guns and Money is for the bloggers to pretend that they want to engage in serious debate, then to let the cesspool of the comments section go to town with empty invective and personal attacks.

                • Heh, okay Freddie. Whatever makes your boners rest easier at night.

                • Bijan Parsia says:

                  The fundamental nature of Lawyers Guns and Money is for the bloggers to pretend that they want to engage in serious debate, then to let the cesspool of the comments section go to town with empty invective and personal attacks.

                  How do you operationalize this? I means, are you just going on your personal, subjective impressions based on paying attention roughly when you appear on this blog?

                  For obvious reasons, this is inherently unreliable. As someone who might reasonably called a regular, I’m hard pressed to align this judgement with what I believe I do or what I observe. I mean, at the very least, the idea that the front pagers are somehow above making a direct attack is primary facie ridiculous.

                  This seems exactly like a faux appeal to propriety (which is rather ironic).

                  (At the very least, you have to realize that your public profile aka [BONERS] is going to dog you in many online environments. You may find that unfair, but it is the reality. Now, in point if fact, it’s not remotely unfair esp. given your lack of any effort that I can see to repair the situation. Given this, it’s pretty likely that your experience of people not treating you seriously is a function of you, not them. That’s probably a better working assumption for you, at least.)

                • then to let the cesspool of the comments section go to town with empty invective and personal attacks.

                  Does that work? Because fuck you.

                • Medicine Man says:

                  That link to the Tiger Beatdown is just awesome. Speaking of patterns of behavior…

              • Warren Terra says:

                I think your comment may translate to: Hey! I resemble that remark!

                • NickT says:

                  Someone is definitely wrong on the internet.

                  Seriously, Freddie, what are you asking for? Bans? Censorship? Sternly worded letters? Pistols at dawn? Horse-whippings for selected offenders? Looks of sad regret that the world is a cruel, nasty place?

                  People online make silly jokes and say offensive things – that’s just how the world goes.

                  When you rush in here, seemingly all bent out of shape over a misreading of what Erik actually said, you just invite uncharitable responses.

              • Pinko Punko says:

                Erik’s point was not clear- I only got it from the comments. Since Erik is generally negative about Freddie de Boer, there was not a reason to suspect necessarily that Sully’s obtuseness was in fact the dominant message for the “citing Freddie de Boer”- let’s not make it worse than it is. Just clear it up before it is a usual internet train wreck.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              Actually–this is the correct answer. That anyone would take DeBoer seriously is a bad sign for your argument. I obviously didn’t read the linked post because why would anyone read something DeBoer writes?

              • Ed Marshall says:

                I frequently disagree with Freddie, but that is dickish.

                • Corey says:

                  But totally within character.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Sure, but I think it’s pretty clear by now that I’m not overly concerned with people thinking I’m dickish. I mean, I’m fair to people that deserve fairness, but deBoer has proven over and over again that he hasn’t earned that right.

                • And I’m just happy to be a dick to people who have earned such treatment, a group that deBoners is most definitely a member of.

                • anthrofred says:

                  Dickish, but the equally dickish response (“I am not an important guy, except that I am, because magazines!”) makes it almost seem justified.

                • DrDick says:

                  Sometimes the truth is dickish.

              • You realize that I get read and cited by people every day, right? That I get approached by magazines to write pieces? Like real magazines. I say all the time: I’m just some dude. I’m not big time. But people read what I write, they engage with what I write. When you say, “of course I didn’t read it,” you’re demonstrating that you’re a clown.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Keep pressing your credentials.

                  As for your opinion of me, well, keep amusing me.

                • I’m not pressing my credentials. I’m a grad student nobody. I’m telling you that people who are a much bigger deal than Dr. Erik Loomis care enough about actual argument and getting to the truth to actually rebut what I say, rather than to link in a way that associates me with racism and then say, “haha I didn’t even read it!”

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  You can continue thinking I was associating you with racism all you want to, even though what I was actually doing was simply saying that citing you is pretty damaging to one’s argument.

                  All in all, this is far more amusing than grading.

                • FWIW I did read it, and the only thing I got out of it was a reaffirmation that Freddie really enjoys writing a lot of words detailing how liberals should act on the internet. Thankfully I read very quickly, so I didn’t waste too much of my life on the endeavor.

                • Anonymous says:

                  Is Freddie short for…Fredo?

              • You are aware that saying “anyone citing this guy is not serious” is not an argument, right? Like what did you learn in school? Did no one ever teach you the concept of the fallacy?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  No, you are much smarter than I am.

                • “You are aware that saying “anyone citing this guy is not serious” is not an argument, right?”

                  Sure it is. Well, to the extent there’s any attempt to make an argument here as opposed to just laughing at how stupid Sullivan is, anyway. But so far as that goes, noting that he’s citing you is indeed a worthwhile point in favor of the premise, innit?

                • Warren Terra says:

                  What would ever give you the idea that “anyone citing this guy is not serious” is a bad maxim? There are absolutely people in this world who are disreputable, who frequently beclown themselves, and who should not be cited because it just makes the person citing them look like a fool. Even if these sources sometimes say things that are perfectly correct, their track record is such that it’s always preferable to find another source to cite whenever this is remotely possible, lest you get sidetracked by a debate about the suitability of your sources. If nothing else, anyone examining a work citing such a discredited individual is far more likely to rely on what they already know of that person’s reputation than they are likely to delve into the specific work being cited, to determine whether it might be the pearl among that source’s more characteristic effluent of dross.

                  If you feel upset that you find yourself sometimes being placed in this category, it may give you pause to consider what sort of a track record you have been so energetically working to construct for yourself.

                • DrDick says:

                  I can say with certainty that anyone citing Lamark or Herbert Spencer or Adolph Hitler as an authority is not to be taken seriously. The same criteria apply to you for similar reasons.

              • Pinko Punko says:

                Why why why why why do this? It makes no sense. It makes absolutely no sense.

                See the credit I tried to extend to you above? I now have to withdraw it. Do you operate under the assumption that when you are being serious you expect to be taken seriously, and when you are not it doesn’t matter? You have one account with readers, and in this account your pluses and minuses are summed. You do not have an account where your work of value or your work of scholarship is separated from when you are just being casually dickish or throwing bombs. Do you want people to trust in your good reputation or do you want them to have to integrate the fact that there is some non-zero probability you are being cavalier or impulsive or loose with your arguments?

                This seems like self-destructive behavior that cannot possibly match with what you hope the desired effect is of all your postings on the internet.

                • Are you new to this reading of the blogs thing? I hope you find a few more places before you stumble across someone like Marcotte, ferchrissakes.

                • Here is what your guy wrote: “I obviously didn’t read the linked post because why would anyone read something DeBoer writes?” That is, of course, a flagrantly childish attitude. Everybody here knows it. If you are honest, you will criticize that attitude, because it is wrong, rather than ignoring it, because you interpret it to be on your side.

                • Paula says:

                  This seems like self-destructive behavior that cannot possibly match with what you hope the desired effect is of all your postings on the internet.

                  deBoer’s problem is that he doesn’t seem to have a sense of proper scale or tone or variation in his rhetoric, which apparently demands a certain amount of maturity and which makes me afraid of the fact that he teaches other people for a living.

                  It’s one thing to be a snarky blogger and throw insults and exaggerate your points. It’s another thing to couch shallow insults in writing and ideas that are supposed to be high-end intellectual and require some nuance. It’s also one thing to think yourself a deep, high minded individual and to engage in commentary like, well, what he’s currently doing in here.

                  Hence you have Freddie engaging in what he thinks is a “serious” conversation about feminism with the writer from Tiger Beatdown, and then fancying himself “speaking for the left” and comparing Juan Cole to Jonah Goldberg in re Libya. One argument required insult throwing (or better, just walking away), the other actual serious conversation — and deBoer chose poorly.

                  As he clearly often does.

                • Pinko Punko says:

                  I certainly enjoy this comment. Marcotte, as in Amanda? Amanda Marcotte of Mouse Words? The tears of a mecha-emu burn like acid on its metal shell, as its plaintive cries echo in the emptiness of space. Internet traditions everywhere are unaware. Beware, lest battle raps be upon you, my learned cucumber.

                • Pinko Punko says:

                  Sorry, Fredwagon, I was actually responding to Erik’s unnecessary bomb. It served no purpose except to have people argue with you for 200 comments instead of focusing on Sullivan’s cobaggery. I should have prefaced it appropriately so we can be clear about who is flaming and or admonishing and or concern trolling and or being genuine about whom.

                  THE INTERNET, someone is wrong somewhere.

        • NickT says:

          First of all, it is not his responsibility to rebut everything in the comment thread that someone objects to – whether that someone be you, me or the Autarch Severian. You can’t expect him to spend all day refuting other people’s views – and you have the right and ability to come and make your own case here, after all. What would you have him do – ban people? You were pretty vehemently against that in your discussion of the closing of the libertarian mind, as I recall.
          Second, I don’t see how he is “associating” you with the race and IQ argument other than by mentioning the fact that Andrew Sullivan invoked you in the course of his own screed. This is factually accurate and I don’t see him drawing any conclusions about you one way or the other. What’s your beef here?

          • The constant tactic of the bloggers here is to tiptoe up to the line of accusing people of things that they know they can’t support, then letting the commenters make those accusations for them. It happens, for example, almost every time they criticize Glenn Greenwald for believing in the equal value of Muslim life.

            • Yeah, when I think of Erik, I totally think of a guy who’s afraid to criticize people to specifically.

            • NickT says:

              We aren’t talking about Glenn Greenwald, let alone nebulous general cases, Freddie. Where, specifically, in this piece, was something unfair said about by Erik? . That’s what you were complaining about just now. If you are going to come in here full of aggrievement and throw around attacks on people’s honesty, the least you can do is be precise about what has upset you, rather than resorting to generalizations – and dragging in someone else.

              • NickT says:

                “About you” obviously.

              • By pointing out that Sullivan cites me in an argument about racism and IQ, given Sullivan’s history on that subject, Loomis knows that he is creating the impression that I agree with Sullivan, when in fact, the opposite is true. If Loomis doesn’t want to make that impression, then the responsible and fair thing to do is to actually link to my piece. But that would require honesty.

                If, indeed, his point is just “Freddie deBoer LULZ,” then of course he’s not engaged in any kind of debate at all, but is instead merely flinging shit. Which is fine; that’s what happens in here at every post. But please, don’t pretend it’s an argument when it’s not. People cite me on prominent blogs and websites every day. If all of them have gone wrong, make the case for why that’s so. Don’t big time and hide behind your commenters.

                • NickT says:

                  So, you’ve decided to tell a grateful world that you are a Very Serious Person?

                  Please, at least decide which version of the story you want to be generally known. Are you Highminded, Very Serious Freddie who is utterly beyond good, evil and blog comments, or are you Sensitive, Insecure Freddie who is easily wounded and probably should consider finding a teddybear to be his friend?

                  And you still haven’t made a reasonable case for exactly what form of wrong you have suffered at the hands of the evil Loomis.

                • Again: I’m not saying I’m a big deal. I’m saying that I get into arguments with people every day who are actually capable of responding to me on the merits. When Loomis links to me in a way to inspire a Two Minute Hate here in the comments and then admits he hasn’t read the post in question, that’s just pure childishness.

                • This just proves that more people need to read Doyle.

                • NickT says:

                  So after all the raging and roaring, Freddie, you are upset because people who don’t read the Sullivan piece might think you agreed with Andrew Sullivan? And in pursuit of the thesis that the devious Loomis set this plan up with such a result in mind you’ve decided to accuse everyone who doesn’t agree with you of refusing to engage with your argument (what argument?) on the merits (what merits?). Seriously?

            • DrDick says:

              Erik tiptoe? Pull the other one please, that one is getting sore.

        • Ed Marshall says:

          I read it the other way “Sullivan is so illiterate that he is citing Freddie and doesn’t know that’s stupid”, but engaging the commenters like that makes me uncertain.

        • anthrofred says:

          For the sake of a fair shake, could you link us an article with such explication?

        • Corey says:

          What about this:

          That Sullivan cites Freddie DeBoer favorably in his argument also makes me laugh.

          is necessarily an assertion that you’re a “race scientist”?

          (Given Loomis’ legendary bad faith I agree that it’s likely, but it doesn’t necessarily read that way on the surface.)

    • A Friend Who Likes You says:

      I am telling you this as a friend, Freddie. Most people like you either kill themselves or become Republicans.

      Race science apologism is the wrong road. Trust me.

  26. “I obviously didn’t read the linked post because why would anyone read something DeBoer writes?”

    I just want to revel in that for awhile, let it roll around.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      How did it feel to make the 50 Least Important Writers list?

      • Better than being someone who’s not capable of rebutting arguments without reference to pure genetic fallacy, that’s for sure.

        • NickT says:

          Careful, Freddie. That pose of Socratic irony is slipping.

          • “I obviously didn’t read the linked post because why would anyone read something DeBoer writes?”

            • NickT says:

              But you’ve already told us that Erik lies all the time. So he must have read your post. Right?

              • “I obviously didn’t read the linked post”

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Don’t you have a dissertation to write?

                • NickT says:

                  So he clearly read that too. Right?

                  The more I read of your litany of complaints, the more I wonder whether you spend your weekends going to bars to pick fights with the meanest people you can find so that you can enjoy a good beating and get your freak on that way. If that isn’t your motivation here, I can’t honestly see what you are getting out of this episode of self-humiliation.

                • You guys have to decide: do you want the elevated discourse, or do you want to say “Boners” and throw poop? You can’t have both, you guys. You really can’t. And if you think that one is better than the other, you should make that case to other commenters here.

                • anthrofred says:

                  I think it’s entirely possible to have real discussions and still talk about boners if you’re not an intellectual snob. The snarkless air of “elevated discourse” seems a little dry.

                  On a completely related note, I’m getting popcorn.

                • NickT says:

                  You do have a passion for making rules for other people, don’t you, Freddie? Still, if you insist on being the one-legged man at the ass-kicking contest, who am I to deny you your little foibles?

                • You also have to enjoy how he’s trying so doggedly to strip [BONERS] from the context everyone knows it’s being used in, as if it’s just some random junior high insult and not a shorthand way to articulate what a self-absorbed, useless, waste of time fuckwit Freddie is.

                  Or, in other words, Freddie’s behavior in this thread is exactly why no one engages with him earnestly, and goes straight to making fun of him and not taking him seriously. But yeah, he clearly gets off on that, so it’s a win-win, I guess.

              • own goal says:

                Speaking of fuckwits, it is amazing a grown man commits so much time to juvenilia

        • Pseudonym says:

          The point is that Erik wasn’t trying to rebut your argument, or address it at all, not thinking it worth the effort. For someone who spends so much time allegedly trying to participate in serious intellectual discourse you sure haven’t contributed much to it here. Although your soporific writing might ape the worst features of its style, you don’t display much ability to understand the substance of most argument while wallowing in criticisms of its form and context.

      • Corey says:

        This, coming from a guy whose employer basically disowned him after Michelle Malkin tweeted some stuff – really astounding. Great work.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Random words, strung together.

        • timb says:

          No one’s employer was ever lazy and desired a PR problem to stop. Do you one, Corey? You might ask them what they would do when a bunch of morons started calling the switchboard screaming.

          We know Feddie’s reaction is to nail himself, weeping, to a cross, while intoning “Forgive them, for they do not know I am cited several times a day.”

          Erik’s ran away. How their cowardice in the face of halfwits and slack-jawed gun fetishists reflects on Erik’s ideas is sort of lost on me

      • John F says:

        He writes better than you do…

    • nixnutz says:

      every time they criticize Glenn Greenwald for believing in the equal value of Muslim life.

      I prefer to revel in this. Let that example of brilliant rhetoric “roll around”. Honestly I think that’s almost bad enough to jeopardize your “even the liberal” useful idiot Q rating. It won’t be because there’s bottomless demand for that shit but if you ever have a moment of self awareness, look out.

  27. Steve S. says:

    Far be it from me to speculate, but I’m going to speculate; Loomis’s reference to deBoer was deliberately vague enough to entice different interpretations, but with plausible deniability. That is, a rhetorical tactic demonstrating a level of emotional maturity consonant with “deBoner” and the like.

  28. commie atheist says:

    If everyone’s done hating on deBoer, this is an interesting read. Unz totally eviscerates Richwine’s scholarship, but still considers him a martyr to the liberal PC police. Interesting, considering his recent experiences:

    With regard to Richwine’s IQ arguments, last year I published a major 7,500 word article on exactly the same topic of Race/IQ, arguing that there was overwhelming evidence that the IQs of various ethnic groups were far more malleable and environmentally influenced than is widely believed by many of those interested in the topic. Once again, this article provoked a vast outpouring of angry commentary from various rightwing bloggers and pundits, probably the most uniformly hostile reaction I’ve ever received to anything I’d written.

    Here’s what Unz (and Sullivan, and even deBoer) don’t seem to get: the use of “science” to justify white/Christian/male supremacy has a long and sordid history, and there is a reason why people get attacked for pursuing these types of studies. It’s well understood exactly why the research is being aimed in a particular direction: it’s not to discover “truth” or “fact,” but to support preconceived bigotry and prejudice.

    • Paula says:

      Uh, it seems like deBoer is the one who can’t get enough of people hating on him.

    • CaptBackslap says:

      I think Unz’s key point in the article, though, was that it did more harm than good to simply shout Richwine down. Making it seem like he spoke The Secret Name or something just makes people want to subscribe to his newsletter.

      • aimai says:

        I don’t think that’s true at all. The people who want to believe that a) the races exist and can be ranked from high to low and b) their own race mysteriously comes out on top simply can’t be reasoned with. The people who keep returning to this obvious bit of junk science, like dogs returning to their vomit, are not a dewey eyed set of rising 16 year olds hatched under a cabbage leaf last night. Its the same damned self interested, selfish, set of scientific and historical ignoramuses in search of the moral equivalent of race-viagra: something which will extend their fetishistic adoration of their imaginary racial superiority by hours and hours and hours. They ought to know better. They could know better. But they are motivated by spite, anxiety, and political goals to keep throwing up the same shit over and over and over again. There’s no reasoning with liars. There’s no arguing with a person whose goal is to be proved right in a fantasy of superiority. What can you offer him, really? The blunt truth? Its surprisingly unpalatable and you can’t make someone eat their porridge, no matter how wholesome.

        • CaptBackslap says:

          That’s true as far as the Steve Sailers, VDare commenters, and ProFootballTalk commenters of the world.

          But think about all the people who seem perfectly fine until you have more than a few drinks with them, and then they start a sentence with something like “I’m not racist, but…”

          Or think of all the people who heard things from their racist relatives growing up, and who would never say anything nasty, but who still hear just the faintest echo of their fathers’ warnings when they see a black guy on the street.

          Most people believe multiple crazy things, which isn’t surprising given the vast number of crazy things a person might believe. But we engage in argument with the 9/11 truthers and the crystal healers and even the birthers. I just don’t believe that all the ordinary people who believe dumb racial theories are simply unreachable by reason.

          • commie atheist says:

            I think you’re wrong. You think birthers are reachable? Fuck, no they aren’t. They are willing to believe anything horrible about Obama, simply because of who and what he is. The honestly feel that a black family living in the White House is a desecration.

            The people who are vaguely racist are the ones most willing to believe that there is a scientific explanation for their feelings of superiority. They are the ones who already believe that only political correctness keeps us from knowing the truth about the inferiority of non-whote people. They won’t change their minds, whether Richwine is given a pass for simply being wrong about his data, or vilified for seeking to find an excuse for racist beliefs.

            • CaptBackslap says:

              Except support for birtherism really did drop off after the long-form birth certificate was released. It didn’t fall to zero as one might hope, but the difference was considerable.

              Of course there will always be a lot of people who aren’t reachable; one in seven Americans believes in geocentrism, for chrissake. But treating an idea as forbidden rather than wrong ensures that a lot of people will be grateful to any demagogue who blows the dog whistle loud and clear.

              • aimai says:

                Those people just stopped saying it. They hung on to the vague feeling that “something about that Obama fellow isn’t quite right. Why didn’t he release it earlier. No smoke without fire.” The problem is that most people don’t really think as in move logically between positions and ideas. They have kind of a “cloud formation” in which ideas bounce around and are seied on and then dropped according to experience, self interest, self love, and community ideas.

                Racism is really one of those things: if a person chooses to believe, after a fucking civil war on the subject, that there are real differenes between the races as to intellgience and that those differences should be the subject of separate law, separate voting rights, separate economies (which is what we are arguing about, really) then that person is simply ineducable. And to the extent that they ever were educable the right wing has spent the last thirty years trying to discredit all alternative forms of information–such as science, or liberal public intellectuals–preisely in order to prevent their authoritarian followers from turning to the relevant authorities.

                Look at what happened to SNOPEs? As soon as Snopes began to debunk right wing lies and rumors and ordinary people started to listen and question Fox News/Glen Beck then those people, that target population, were inundated with the “fact” that Snopes was unreliable. And they gobbled it up. Because as Fred Clark has pointed out over at slacktivist people like that have a vested interest in hanging on to their bigotry. They don’t want to be dissproved. They don’t want to be talked out of it.

                • CaptBackslap says:

                  I certainly agree that most people’s opinions have a vague relationship with deductive logic, at best. But I think you’re oversimplifying the dynamic of racism, and I think it’s far too optimistic to say that racist beliefs are the exclusive province of people with right-wing policy positions. A lot of good Northeastern liberals feel a spark of kinship when Colin Cowherd talks about John Wall, even if they’re horrified when Sarah Palin talks about Obama. Those are the people I’m worried will think “well, there must be something to it if everyone is so scared of it.” You’re right that there are a lot of hardcore right-wingers who can’t be reached. But every time some “scientific” racist gets run out of town, the dog whistle sounds a little bit better.

                  As for birtherism, it wasn’t just that the birther “thought” leaders shut up; surveys picked up a big dropoff in public birther sentiment, too. That’s not to say that those people suddenly loved Obama, but they were at least convinced that he wasn’t born in Kenya.

          • any moose says:

            But we engage in argument with the 9/11 truthers and the crystal healers and even the birthers.

            I’m pretty sure we engage with/shout down the birthers ect to the same degree that anyone is engaging with/shouting down racists here

      • Djur says:

        I think it’s vital to tear down and shame racist psuedoscience whenever it’s seen. It needs to be unacceptable.

        • CaptBackslap says:

          I certainly agree. But just shouting “look what this jerk said” until the specific jerk in question goes away doesn’t defeat the idea; it just teaches people that they can think it but not say it.

          • aimai says:

            They can think it but not say it. Why is that such a problem? We can’t get inside their heads and force them to use knowledge, grace, charity, love and science to learn to be better people and not leave themselves open to manipulation by assholes. They are entitled to keep thinking what they want–its actually important to shut their leaders down, to humiliate their leaders into not being able to give voice to their bigotry because their leaders are poisoning the well for these patehtic followers.

            • CaptBackslap says:

              You’re underestimating the raw power of a taboo belief. The bare fact that the subject cannot even be discussed is precisely what gives symbolically racist policies their appeal (and, I suspect, gets young people interested in racist pseudoscience; the jouissance of a subversive idea is irresistible to a lot of people who would otherwise know better).

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        I have a copy lying around of the April 1976 ‘Analog’ [I bought it for the articles the serialisation of Children of Dune, OK?] with a long piece by Sprague de Camp on “The Breeds of Man”.
        Much of it has dated in the subsequent 37 years but his refutation of Race / IQ pseudoscience remains spot-on.

      • Tybalt says:

        That’s fine. If there are people among us so toxic and deluded that they feel a need to take up sides against The Left every time a topic comes up for discussion, I want them on the objectively wrong side as often and as much as possible. That the forces of hate will flock to their aid and comfort is a reason for denouncing racist fuckwits, not against.

  29. You people.

    1) Mr. Sullivan is merely speaking the hard, challenging words that no one else dares speak, except on VDare.com and companion sites. Northern European people have very tough lives and it’s time someone pointed this out to a world that doesn’t given them enough attention. Because where is white history millennium?
    2) I am bemused by people who think this is a winning electoral position. “Hey you racists! Vote for us, the [X] party, the party of smart white people!” does not fit with “Hey you minorities! Vote for us, the [X] party, because we care about you stupid non-white people!”
    3) This stuff comes from the party that touts Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as possible presidential candidates. Do these two men listen to what their party is saying about them?

    That is all.

  30. Anonymous says:

    We have a lawless tyrant in office that assassinates American citizens in cold blood, uses the IRS as a tool to intimidate his political opponents, covers up a dastardly act of terror against the American people, and spies on the media.

    If Bush were doing all of this, there would be non-stop outrage from the left, instead, there is nothing but the sound of crickets.

    Where’s the outrage?

    • Djur says:

      And he uses imitation maple syrup, too! Impeach!

    • Tybalt says:

      Under a soft, steaming pile of these delicious raspberry pancakes!

      1 cup flour
      2 tsps baking powder (omit this is using self-raising flour)
      1 tsp sugar
      1 egg
      1 cup milk
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      Pinch of salt
      At least 2 cups of raspberries – 1 for the batter and 1 for topping

      Instructions

      Mix all the ingredients except the fruit together in a mixing bowl

      Add 1 cup of raspberries and stir them in gently

      Heat a lightly greased griddle or frying pan to medium-hot

      Use a ladle or large spoon to make 4 small pancakes (each will need about ½ cup of batter) at a time. Try to make sure each one has an even proportion of fruit.

      Cook until you start to get large bubbles coming to the surface.

      Test the bottom for colour – if they are golden brown, then carefully flip them over.

      When both sides are nicely done, remove them to a serving plate.

      Stack 2 pancakes on each plate, top with the extra fruit and drizzle lightly with syrup.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Until today, I thought no one else shared my dislike for F. DeBoer. Can this be…love?

  32. Christian Sieber says:

    Erik,

    Can you clarify why you were amused? There seem to be two interpretations and it is not obvious which of the two is correct.

    Are you amused because Sullivan cites DeBoer in support of his own argument when DeBoer’s writing doesn’t really support his stance?

    Are you amused that DeBoer was cited by Sullivan because that sort of association makes him look worse and confirms your opinions about DeBoer’s work?

    Are you amused for some other metaphysical or existential reason unrelated to the above?

  33. Tybalt says:

    Shorter Sully: this guy over here is arguing we should keep America white and English-speaking, but the ones demanding we define our terms first before examining the data are the real fascists.

  34. onecertain says:

    I am going to take a stand (cowardly, not under my usual and readily convertible ‘nym) for the position of tt and others: there is actually human biodiversity, it is deserving of study despite the fact that most of the people promulgating the concept are racist assholes. Progressives who attempt to drown out people who say that with mockery and bad arguments are not really doing themselves any favors, since reality tends to win.

    The proper liberal HBD position is that people are supposed to be afforded a basic set of rights and respect, regardless of what their inborn genetic capabilities might be.

    • Tybalt says:

      Yeah, I should make clear that I think human biodiversity is worthy of study. We should study it on its own terms, and not those we inherited from the assholes. I am firmly against the wholesale adoption of an undefined asshole-centric framework to do science in, because it makes for bad science.

    • anthrofred says:

      Most of the people studying ‘human biodiversity’ are not, in fact, racist assholes. The people trying to prove differences in intelligence or behavior based on population genetics – those people are mostly racist assholes, and their research questions should be viewed with skepticism even before their conclusions.

      • onecertain says:

        Agreed. But the phrase “human biodiversity” has been co-opted by the racists, and ought not to be ceded to them (just try googling). The non-asshole version of it needs to get a louder voice in the public sphere.

    • joel hanes says:

      It’s been studied.

      It turns out that casually-observable phenotype maps very poorly onto such population diversity as exists.

      In ordinary English: social-construct “races” are bunk.

      It turns out that much of what genetic diversity does exist is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, and that (for example) the Khoi/San peoples and their neighbors comprise so great a proportion of that genetic diversity that all the rest of us are pretty much identical by comparison.

      It turns out that to a good first approximation, all living human populations have equivalent mental faculties.

      Again: See Gould, S.J., The Mismeasure of Man

      I am told that the book is not without flaws, but anyone who wants to talk seriously about these issues should read it first, and the critiques of its arguments second.

      • Tybalt says:

        Right! But that isn’t what onecertain is saying (nor, once he started to walked back as he has done above, is tt). Rather, they are saying that human biodiversity is a legitimate area of inquiry providing that “race” doesn’t get within nine miles of it (and I’d be mighty harsh on continental-origin measures as well) and providing that one is careful to recognize (and seek to eliminate the taint of) its malevolent and spectacularly failed history.

        • aimai says:

          I think the error is in blaming the anti-racist scientists with the degradation of the term “biodiversity” or genetic studies. No one is shouting down actual science, the study of genetics or populations–I speak as both an anthropologist and the daughter of a geneticist. The argument that “the left” is so committed to an “ideal of human equality” that we “won’t entertain real scientific inquiry” is, basically, bunk. It is the right which is usig people’s hoenst attempts to study real genetic issues, diseases, histories as ways of legitimizing a racist political goal: an unequal society.

          Just look at this proposition:

          1) A class of children have been discovered who can not do math as easily as other children.

          Do we 1) forbid them citizenship or 2) pay extra money to develop specialized teaching methods to bring them up to speed so they can get good jobs later in life?

          The point is that all right wing “science” of “race” is aimed at legitimizing the proposition that because “all men are NOT created equal” they should resign themselves to unequal outcomes in public policy spending, in citizenship, in health, in living situation, in future, in marriage etc..etc..etc…

    • Gareth Wilson says:

      Well said. One criticism of the HBD people that always drives me nuts is that they’re saying black people are inferior. They may well think that, but what they say is that black people are less intelligent. Going from less intelligent to inferior is bigotry too. After all, there are people with significantly lower intelligence than the rest of the population, clearly due to genetic problems. But they’re not inferior to us, are they?

  35. Lit3Bolt says:

    Freddie deBoer: FEE-FEES HURT!

    Erik Loomis: lol ur funny

    Freddie deBoer: FEE-FEES STILL HURT! WHY U NO MAKE BETTER!?

  36. tonycpsu says:

    I read LGM everyday because the FPPers here are very good, and the comment section, contrary to Freddie’s assertions, is generally much better than Two Minute Hate sessions. The one exception occurs when the [BONERS] observer effect is triggered, wherein Freddie shows up with a take-on-all-comers attitude, at which point it descends into the predictable dynamic people have summarized and exemplified above.

    That said, Erik calling out Freddie just because Sully cited him was totally childish and uncalled for. Freddie’s conspiracy theory about the FPPers using the comment section is unconvincing, but there’s no good reason for Erik to hit Freddie just for being cited by Sullivan.

    This same dynamic happened with the “an essay only a white person could write” fiasco. Erik at one point did go over to Freddie’s blog and admit that it was a hastily-written post that sort of got away from him, but I think I’ve seen enough of this kind of rhetoric to conclude that Erik’s a very good writer who occasionally lets ad hominem cheap shots undermine what might otherwise be a very good case on the merits.

    In this particular example, I don’t think anything Freddie said in his post was factually wrong. He isn’t throwing his lot in with the race “scientists” — he’s repudiating them, while acknowledging that many people listen to them, so he thinks that means we should engage their arguments head-on rather than just point and laugh. I disagree that there’s a lot to be gained by dignifying this junk science with a response, but it’s a reasonable position to hold that progressives might want to spend some time refuting their findings, and it’s undeniably true that pointing and laughing hasn’t made these assholes go away.

    I have agreed with de Boer on a vanishingly small percentage of his spats with the LGM FPPers, but in this case, I think the decision to include the line about Freddie in this post came from a bad place, and frankly, the attacks aren’t even funny anymore. The infamous Tiger Beatdown [BONERS] post? Epic hilarity, and on the mark. Many LGM FPP takedowns of Freddie’s arguments w.r.t. Rand Paul and DRONES? Generally on point, and often righteously funny. This throwaway line in an otherwise decent (if repetitive) takedown of Sully’s love for Bell Curve arguments? Childish, humorless, and unbecoming of someone who posts a lot of required reading on many important progressive issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure you’re right, but you have my vote – for now.

      • eclipse says:

        No! I say [BONERS] now, [BONERS] tomorrow, [BONERS] for-ever.

        Andrew Sullivan does not actually want an “conversation” on race. Freddie does not actually want an “conversation” on race. It’s just two weird white dudes jerking each other other off and calling it “engagement”.

        Seriously, read Ta-Nehisi Coates “Against the ‘Conversation on Race’” posts. It is the year 2013. Yammering about how you just want a conversation about how terrible black people is simply pathetic.

        • Dave says:

          Freddie just wants to be worshipped as the One True White Guy Who Understands How The Other Folk Are Feeling. Hence any disrespect causes him to flip his wig. It’s quite simple really.

  37. Major Kong says:

    We’re not poodles and beagles. To quote Bill Murray:

    We’re all very different people. We’re not Watusi. We’re not Spartans. We’re Americans, with a capital ‘A’, huh?

    You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We’re the underdog.

    We’re mutts! Here’s proof: his nose is cold! But there’s no animal that’s more faithful, that’s more loyal, more loveable than the mutt.

  38. Malaclypse says:

    After reading this thread, it seems clear that Erik will never get to go on a feminist date with BONERS.

  39. Linda says:

    O.K., so we have had different evolutionary pressures. I just want to know why living in Africa–or Latin America–would make you dumber? Is the living just easier?

    • dms says:

      Summertime…and the livin’ is easy.

    • onecertain says:

      It doesn’t make you dumber. It might make you better adapted for one environment over another. It’s somewhat tautological, as evolutionary theories tend to be, but it is perfectly possible that:

      - europeans are better adapted to the european environment
      - which includes european culture
      - which has, more or less, taken over the world
      - making europeans thus “smarter” in the sense of being better adapted to the world they made/evolved for.

      Or in other words, Africans were probably exquisitely adapted for the world they evolved in, but that is pretty different from the world we find ourselves in.

      The usual rejoinder to this is that there hasn’t been enough time for Europeans to evolve traits that are adapted to the agricultural/urbanized/empire lifestyle. I’m not so sure about this, selection can be quite rapid in the face of changing conditions.

      • wengler says:

        This is so completely dumb that it is hard to respond to in a coherent matter. Humans simply aren’t subject to the same selection pressures as other animals. Dysfunctional societies aren’t indicative of an underlying vast stupidity, they are in fact indicative of a dysfunctional society.

        • Sully says:

          Note that this tool can’t even say that the various people living on the highly varied continent known as Africa were exquisitely adapted to the environments.

          This might also be a time to raise the question of whether some people want us to believe that being more willing to swagger up to someone’s door and start killing everyone is a sign of intelligence.

          “Yay! We conquered (almost) everyone! We must be the smartest!”

          “Wait. Really?”

          “Yes, or we’ll kill you and your family!”

          • onecertain says:

            Killing everyone else is not a sign of intelligence, but it is (possibly) adaptive, in the sense that it promotes the survival of your genes over others.

            Which was my point, seemingly everyone here missed it. Adaptation is what evolution is about, it is prior to anything called “intelligence”, and the dominantly adaptive groups get to define “intelligence” to suit themselves.

        • onecertain says:

          What makes you think humans aren’t subject to selection pressures?

          I didn’t say anything about dysfunction or stupidity, so maybe try responding to what I actually said, not what you think I said, before labeling it as “completely dumb”.

          • Hogan says:

            wengler:

            Humans simply aren’t subject to the same selection pressures as other animals.

            onecertain:

            What makes you think humans aren’t subject to selection pressures?

            onecertain, in another context:

            Man, people really have a hard time reading here, don’t they?

            Yes. Yes “they” do.

      • anthrofred says:

        Cringeworthy – the argument is just a conflation of conquest with intelligence and intelligence with biological adaptation. You’re bypassing creativity, luck, and collaboration, as well as greed, dishonesty, and other nastier bits of human nature. There is simply no way without being racist or naive to argue that the European conquest of the world has to do with their “superior adaptation” to it in terms of biology. The dependence of Europeans on other to survive provides more than enough evidence; without local knowledge and the power of the gun, many colonies would have collapsed within weeks of malnutrition and disease.

        In terms of “rapid change”, intelligence is not in the same class as lactose tolerance.

      • Dave says:

        If you want to look for an ecological explanation of the ‘European explosion’ from c. 1400, you have to look at things like population density vs political fragmentation, competitive pressures inducing political and military support for technological innovation, and a whole host of things that basically come down to dumb luck anyway. If the ‘Moors’ had held the line a little further north at the Pyrenees, the folk discovering the Azores, the Cape and the Americas would have been Muslims…

  40. I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.

    Um, I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.

  41. Ethan Gach says:

    I haven’t been this knee deep in tautologies since the last time I was this knee deep in tautologies.

  42. Heron says:

    As I’m sure everyone’s aware, Sullivan has a long, long history of this sort of nonsense. He has been a staunch defender and promoter of The Bell Curve since it first came out, and continues to punt for those ideas whenever they enter the public consciousness anew; I’m pretty sure he even wrote a favorable post referring to the Heritage study in it’s immediate release.

    What’s interesting to me here is not so much that he is punting these ideas -as someone by inheritance so non-english yet so desperate to enact englishness it’s no surprise he emphatically wants to view its racial markers as a sign of superiority- but the very specific, vague, and limited way in which he has been forced by repeated internet-ass-kicking to defend those beliefs. Gone are his claims of “indisputable” proof of racial superiority, or his diatribes about IQ as a marker of across-the-board intelligence. Gone are his pronouncements about blacks, whites, Mediterraneans and Jews. Gone are his attempts to paint non-whites and non-asians who excel in intellectual pursuits as exceptional outliers bucking the general trend of sub-humanity their inferior blood condemns them to. Gone are his ramblings about skull and brain size. Now we have this weaselly essay about “breeds”, and how “success in post-industrial societies” is racially determinated (how the hell would centuries of non-industrial society breed for that naturally anyway? As always, his arguments fail at the level of basic logic), so long as “race” is defined according to the deeply unnatural and class-based definitions of the US racial dialogue; a tradition deeply influence, it ought not to need be said, by centuries of legalized white, northern-European, English supremacy.

    It took the Republican party literally turning to torture and Star Chamber courts to get Sullivan to question even a small part of his obnoxious High Tory beliefs (and of course, he’s led the charge in trying to define the Bush admin as “aberrant” to Republicanism and anti-Conservative “Radicalism”, while falling over himself to define the Dems as US Tories ever since); given that it’s taken more than 20 years just to bring him this far on race issues, I doubt he’ll ever turn his back on the dream of Imperial English Superiority entirely.

    • Origami Isopod says:

      It took the Republican party literally turning to torture and Star Chamber courts to get Sullivan to question even a small part of his obnoxious High Tory beliefs

      My memory sucks, but I thought that the opposition of most Republicans to same-sex marriage was what prompted Sullivan to rethink any of his beliefs. Because, after all, it’s an issue that could affect him>

      • Heron says:

        Nah, he’s been punting same-sex marriage since the 90s, and he was Bill Maher’s pocket Republican on Politically Incorrect all throughout that decade. What got him Excommunicated was when he started writing posts about how Shrub was a moral monster for torturing people and throwing folks in prison forever without trial.

        And he was excommunicated, so my above statement is off a bit. Sullivan didn’t “renounce” his Republican connections due to this; as with many semi-sane Cons during that time, he got kicked out as a RINO for daring to criticize Our Glorious Leader by the Breitbart and Malkin crowd (I think Maureen Dowd might have written a smear piece on him around the same time, too, but I can’t be sure).

  43. [...] it is with a great deal of schadenfreude, no, actually just freude, that I direct you to this post on Lawyer, Guns and Money, where our old pal, the Stronzo di Tutti Stronzos, Erik Loomis, unfairly implicates DeBoer in race [...]

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