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Dumb upon Dumb

[ 252 ] December 30, 2013 |

Since science is the province of hippies and queers, Republicans have decided evolution is a hoax against Jesus or something.

Over the last four years, the percentage of Democrats who said they believe in evolution has risen by three points, from 64 percent to 67 percent. But the percentage of Republicans who believe in the theory has dropped 11 points, from 54 percent to 43 percent.

So while there was a 10-point gap in 2009, there is now a 24-point gap.

Pew says similar shifts have not occurred for any other demographics, either racial or religious.

At the very least the growth of the Tea Party might make us rethink the connection between “evolution” and “progress.”


Comments (252)

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  1. AstroBio says:

    There is no teleology in evolution.
    Also, education and birth rate are inversely proportional. We were warned.

  2. Bijan Parsia says:

    It would be interesting to know how much of this is mere signalling.

    Also, it’s hard to interpret without knowing whether the numbers of Dems and Repubs remain more or less constant. If this represents Sane Repub flight it’s a lot less interesting.

  3. Denverite says:


    Seriously, though, isn’t this like Exhibit 432 for the proposition that Republicans tell pollsters that they believe is crazy-ass ideas, not so much because they do, but because they think it makes non-Republicans mad?

  4. brad says:

    I really can’t figure out what’s happened in the last 4 years that would lead someone to decide that evolution is somehow not a fucking obvious fact of life that can be demonstrated in very simple terms with fruit flies in a middle school science lab.
    Demographics? Older conservatives who at least were public educated being replaced with home schoolers who have no concept of a reality outside their politics?
    Haha, fuck libs just doesn’t seem to work for me with a question like this.
    Maybe people just take looks around them at Tea Party meetings and refuse to believe we’re an “advanced” species.

    • Davis X. Machina says:

      I really can’t figure out what’s happened in the last 4 years

      Team spirit. Plus it got really…dark…outside.

      • Alan in SF says:

        Evolution is a 2500-page theory rammed through in the dead of night without a single Republican vote.

      • brad says:

        Except that prior poll was 2009, so DC had already… gotten a lot of shade.
        Granted, the full impact could take a while to set in, but still. I was at one of the first Tea Party gatherings, if anything they seemed angrier than the clips I see today, tho that’s probably in part due to increasing media savvy.

    • FlipYrWhig says:

      It’s a fine distinction. They believe that things evolve, just not Evolution, the amoral secular belief system that replaces God with monkeys or something. Like how they believe in helping the poor, but not in Welfare.

      • ChrisS says:

        It’s referred to as microevolution in some intelligent design circles. Essentially, anything that science can show evidence for is just microevolution and everything that science can’t show evidence for is magic.

        • Lurker says:

          Yep. I lurked a few years in a Usenet newsgroup on evolution, and it seems that some creationists really attempt to have a somewhat coherent system where they assign permanency to genii, not to species. This makes their belief system more difficult to falsify.

          • herr doktor bimler says:

            they assign permanency to genii, not to species
            You may mean ‘genera’, but it is equally plausible that creationists do indeed invoke genii to explain natural phenomena.

          • (the other) Davis says:

            This makes their belief system more difficult to falsify.

            It also demonstrates a fundamental failure in “scientific” thinking: Confusing the map with the territory. “Genus” and “species” are organizational ideas humans impose on the world (“the map”), not fundamental facts of nature (“the territory”).

      • JKTHs says:

        Like how they believe in helping the poor

        Wait, did I miss something?

        • FlipYrWhig says:

          In polling aid for the poor always scores highly across the board. But what sets apart conservatives, and conservative thought processes, is that they will always find loopholes and distinctions so that the actual poor being aided by The Government are always the wrong kind.

          • delurking says:

            Plus, conservatives — at least the conservatives around here — believe that if that damn gummit would just stop taxing everyone, which forces them to help the poor against their will, why then, everyone would out of the spirit of their Xtian heart give 10 or even 20 percent of their income voluntarily to a Charity of Their Choice and we could Solve Poverty 4ever.

            Because this worked so well during all the centuries previous to the Great Society, I point out to them, whereupon they call me a Marxist Socialist who believes in re-distribution of wealth.

            You forgot atheist, I like to point out then.

  5. Gwen says:

    The fact that similar shifts have *not* occurred in other demographics suggests to me that this is re-alignment; if the overall number hasn’t changed, and haven’t changed much within other subgroups, it just means that voters are shifting around.

    The GOP is doing a heckuva job of attracting stupid people to its ranks.

  6. FourTen says:

    This kind of question always uses the word “believe,” a word that IMO is loaded with meaning. Belief is not the same as understanding or agreeing with, two terms/phrases that should be used in this question. “Believe” might even been a semi-conscious dog-whistle to many that could change their results.

    I’d bet if they ask their sample pool that question while rotating “believe/understand/agree with,” the answers would be different

    • Gwen says:

      “With regard to the theory that humans evolved from animals, do you find the evidence to be compelling, or not compelling?”

      • gmack says:

        Hmm. Perhaps I’m wrong, but aren’t the only accurate answers to this question: “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” and (unless you’re a biologist” “How the fuck should I know”? I’m not an expert on these things, but my understanding is that evolutionary theory does not claim that humans evolved from animals (humans, rather, are just another animal species, and as such, evolved through processes of natural selection). So I have no idea what the claim “humans evolved from animals” is supposed to mean. I also have never looked at the evidence, at least not directly, so while I assume it’s compelling, this assumption basically rests on an appeal to authority (or more accurately, to my assumption that if I did study the evidence, I would be able to reproduce the conclusions). But in any case, my fully honest answer–my scientific answer, if you will–to the question of whether I find the evidence compelling would have to be: “I have no idea.”

        I’m not trying to be pedantic here. My point is that these sorts of polling questions are essentially misleading, and so are the data they produce. They have to use a short hand to describe the theory of evolution, rather than an actual description of the scientific they. As a result, both those administering the survey, and I would argue, those participating in it essentially interpret the question not as an assessment of people’s positions vis-a-vis a scientific hypothesis, but precisely as a measurement tribal/identity markers. (My evidence for my belief here is purely anecdotal, but I would invite the participants in this thread to note that this is precisely how almost everyone here interprets the question and the answers to it).

        Finally, I just want to add that these sorts of “Americans are stupid!” polls have been coming out for something like 70 years or so; they’ve always been tedious.

      • DocAmazing says:

        Humans are animals. No further evidence needed.

    • JazzBumpa says:

      “Believe” might even been a semi-conscious dog-whistle to many that could change their results.

      Or, more likely, reinforce them.

    • toberdog says:

      Totally agree. It’s like asking people if they “believe” in gravity.

    • Jordan says:

      While I really dislike treating “belief” as a dog-whistle, I have to say the answers to “do you understand evolution” wouldn’t be terribly illuminating.

      • FourTen says:

        Though it would expose the percentage of people who are scientifically literate, the percentage who are capable of admitting that they don’t know enough about a single topic and the percentage that have convinced themselves that the scribbled down fairy tales of Bronze Age goat herders are true.

        • Jordan says:

          The answers would tell you something interesting about people who will admit not knowing about something that they know they should, but it wouldn’t tell you anything about the other two things.

  7. joe from Lowell says:

    I have to suspect that this is a consequence of the reshuffling of the parties, and not about individuals changing their minds.

    The last reasonable Republicans are leaving the party.

  8. Gwen says:

    Another possibility, but one not necessarily supportable by the numbers I see from Pew, is that they simply measured a much smaller Republican Party this time around.

    I think it is likely that a lot of the Evolutionists (presumably, more moderate) GOPers simply switched to being independents.

    Gallup’s party ID numbers currently show that self-identifying Republicans is near-historic low levels (

    Likewise, Independents are currently the plurality of voters. Democrats have also shrunk, but I think this has more to do with generalized disappointment in Obama than with any real ideological/religious split, which is probably why we don’t see the Dem numbers changing much.

    • brad says:

      Except that a big part of that is many Tea Party types will tell pollsters they’re independent while, of course, not really in any way being so.
      If memory serves this was the fig leaf team Romney was clinging to, in that polls of “independents” were the only vaguely encouraging legit numbers they could point to.

      Seems like the most likely answer is simply increasing concentration of fundies in the remaining Repub backwash.

      • Gwen says:

        Indeeders. If you break down the Gallup numbers, the Independents who “lean Republican” has got to be a group that is almost the same size (possibly *the* same size) as self-identified Republicans.

        Last poll, for example: 24 percent Republicans, 42 percent Republican leaners (18/42nds of which must therefore be Independents who lean Republican).

        About 14 percent of Independents don’t claim to lean either way, and about 12 percent then would be Indy-leaning-Democrat.

        So on the Dem side you have something like a 3 self-identified Dems per each Indy-leaning-Dem, but on the GOP side it’s more like 1.25 Republicans for every 1 Indy-leaning-GOP.

        That might go a long way in explaining why the Dems all of a sudden look like the adults in the room — their coalition is, at least on paper, a lot more stable.

      • Code Name Cain says:

        This seems likely. The poll notes among independents belief in evolution is down 2 points over this same period. The moderate GOP might have stopped identifying themselves but many of the hardest right have as well.

        Presumably the latter prefers to identify themselves as the Know Nothings.

  9. DocAmazing says:

    Since they don’t believe in evolution, they won’t mind if I treat their complex infections with first-generation antibiotics–there can’t possibly be any resistance, after all, seeing as there is no evolution.

  10. (Shakezula) says:

    The break out by religion is also interesting, although the study’s use of religion + race is odd.

    I guess we’re too assume that only people of the flagged religions took part in the survey.

      • GoDeep says:

        There’s a great political divide b/tn White Evangelicals & Black Protestants. Its not uncommon to split them. I’m actually surprised that so many Black Protestants believe in evolution; I would’ve thought they more closely mirrored White Evangelicals on that question.

        • (Shakezula) says:

          Sorry, that wasn’t my point.

          I think it would have been more meaningful to look at religion separately and race separately. As it is you’re left to wonder: “What about Black Catholics? Or Hispanic Protestants? (And indeed, the black Evans.) And where are the non-Christian respondents? Did they all hang up?”

          I take it these results were pulled from a larger survey, but I haven’t been able to find that bigger survey to check the baseline questions.

          • The Catholic position on evolution is much more advanced than the protestant fundamentalist position. Not that the laity have to pay attention…

            • (Shakezula) says:

              Another reason why I think the survey should have looked at a number of religions and done race/ethnicity separately. As it is I can’t understand why they only looked at certain combinations.

              • anthrofred says:

                It’s equally frustrating to me that there’s no breakdown in the extended report of the actual numbers as represented in the sample, unless I just blew right past in when reading. I have no idea just how many, say, “Hispanic Catholics” were actually asked, and sample size definitely matters for this kind of breakdown.

                • anthrofred says:

                  Right, I saw that – I mean the actual number of respondents that identify with each category, not the percentages. It’s hard to tell how representative any of the subsamples are, though Pew is relatively reputable so I assume they aren’t too bad.

                • GoDeep says:

                  Found this:

                  Monday’s results were based upon a national survey Pew conducted between March 21 to April 8 with a representative sample of 1,983 adults. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

                  So, if they only did 2K ppl & blacks were the 13% of the sample that they are of the nat’l population then you’re talking abt just 260 black ppl. That’s pretty low already; I don’t think they could break that sample down any further by race (eg, black Catholics, black Muslims, etc) and produce a valid statistic.

            • Hogan says:

              They don’t, but if it’s not functioning as a tribal marker, what the hell.

    • Jo says:

      That is interesting. I wish they’d weighted it somehow by what percentage of the population is in each of the named religious groups. It looks like about 100 million catholics + mainline protestants vs. about 40 million evangelicals. I’m too lazy to do the math, but it’s likely that a majority of Christians believe in evolution.

  11. Tom Servo says:

    That the percentage for either party is less than 100 is shameful. Truly a national shot stain.

  12. Classical Liberal says:

    At the very least the growth of the Tea Party might make us rethink the connection between “evolution” and “progress.”

    There was no mention of the Tea Party in the Pew article. This is just a cheap shot (and dumb)at your perceived political enemies.

    The growth of the Tea Party is simply because mainstream republicans have strayed off course. They are for the staus quo as are the Democrats. “Keep the money flowing…” is the motto of both.

    • Malaclypse says:

      As a liberal, I tremble with fear and impotent rage at the idea that the Tea Party will throw their awesome might behind, say, the Constitution Party.

    • brad says:

      Points for effort, but you have to be either more reactionary and obvious or a bit more literate with your troll.

    • Classical Liberal says:

      The really fun part was when all of the liberal rags pretty well wrote the obituary for the Tea Party.

      Now, in just a few years and unlike the “occupy” movement, they have organized, motivated voters and have elected representatives of their choice in the federal government and have had even more influence in the state governments.

      Say it ain’t so

      • Malaclypse says:

        Indeed. Particularly impressive was the way you prevented Mitt Romney from buying the nomination. President Perry owes it all to you.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Uh, the “liberal rags” wrote the Tea Party’s obituary in early 2013, not in 2010, and since then, the Tea Party has collapsed into such an irrelevancy that even John Boehner is taking pot shots at it.

    • DrDick says:

      Boy, you are even more confused than ever here. In reality, it is the Teahadis who have driven the GOP over the cliff into cloud cuckoo land. The marginally sane folks with double digit IQs have fled in horror.

      • (Shakezula) says:

        Syrup madness is a poorly understood dementia that causes its victims to believe that is down, the Tea Party has long-term political viability and Obama is plotting to steal their precious bodily fluids.

      • Classical Liberal says:

        …it is the Teahadis who have driven the GOP over the cliff into cloud cuckoo land.

        Sooo….if the Tea Party is largely irrelevant, how could they drive the GOP anywhere? Your statement suggests that they have a lot of power withing the party…..and I agree with you.

        • Dwight D. Eisenhower says:

          Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

        • John Boehner says:

          Are you kidding me?!

  13. cpinva says:

    I note the lowest levels of belief in evolutionary theory is among two groups:

    1. those 64 and older.
    2. those with a H.S. education or less.

    since the elderly and less educated trend towards both high religiosity and extreme conservatism (both aspects of the current GOP), and they make up a large % of the current GOP, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that, as they get older, they become even more extreme in their views. hence, the aging of the GOP results in an even lower level of belief in science.

    just a theory.

    • DrDick says:

      It is also the case, as John Stuart Mill observed and science has confirmed, that stupid people lean strongly conservative.

    • GoDeep says:

      I doubt that ppl believe evolution ‘less’ as they age; they almost certainly never believed it to begin with. There are a lot of misconceptions abt what evolution actually means, esp for older ppl.

    • pbf says:

      President Obama won 83% of the vote of non-college educated non-whites in 2008. In 2012, his margins decreased as you went up the education ladder from no hs (+29), hs grad (+3), some college(+1), college grad (-4) though he won post grads (+13) handily.

      The less educated trend toward high religiosity but not extreme conservatism unless limited to whites particularly southerners and evangelicals.

    • toberdog says:

      And now a moment for pedantry, which I’m only doing because this is a thread about the theory of evolution. You’re offering a hypothesis, not a theory.

  14. Auguste says:

    ‘the percentage of Democrats who said they believe in evolution has risen by three points, from 64 percent to 67 percent.’

    Sixty-seven fucking percent. I don’t know what we’re bragging about.

    • DrDick says:

      A few years ago, there was a poll that showed less than a third of Americans believed in evolution, so this looks a lot better.

      • FlipYrWhig says:

        Some people would have us believe that views on evolution have evolved, but it’s just a theory.

      • MV says:

        Actually, that number has not changed. It also came from the Pew Research Poll. About 32 percent of the population accepts (believes) in evolution.

        The statement that 67 percent of Democrats believe (or accept) evolution is WRONG. It’s why I dislike the reporting on this poll. And I suspect the probably the poll itself is designed to create this misrepresentation (or at least not prevent it).

        There are multiple categories lumped into the believe evolution category including the guided by God and unsure categories. It it is guided by God, it’s not evolution. If you don’t know, you don’t believe in (or accept) evolution.

    • toberdog says:

      Yep. As I said above, these people might as well say they don’t “believe” in gravity.

      • Snarki, child of Loki says:

        Sure, but they’re strongly in favor of “intelligent falling”.

        Now, if they put their objection in terms of “spooky action-at-a-distance”, we’d have to give them some props, but no.

        • Warren Terra says:

          You snark, but as I recall Aristotelian gravity pretty much is intelligent falling, with items seeking to reach their assigned position in the Z-axis of the universe.

  15. Daragh McDowell says:

    Anybody else concerned that 1/3 of Democrats DON’T believe in evolution?

    • Classical Liberal says:

      That’s the part that no one seems to want to discuss.

    • Rigby Reardon says:

      The Democratic Party is very diverse, and religious black Protestants may be driving this number.

      • GoDeep says:

        Black Protestants & to a lesser extent Hispanic Catholics, according to the HuffPo. I also imagine older Dems & southern Dems believe it less than, say, middle-aged Northeastern Dems.

        I wonder if Blacks & Hispanics are included in the “Dumb & Dumber” label, or do we escape?

        • Future JD Student says:

          The full title of Darwin’s work: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (emphasis mine).

          Liberals want evolution to matter to the extent it makes biblical conservatives look bad. Beyond that it’s raaaaacist.

      • SV says:

        Um, this sounds a lot like “Obama only won because so many blahs voted for him.” Or maybe No True Scotsman. What does being black and Protestant have to do with people’s surprise/disappointment that so many liberals don’t believe in evolution?

        • Rigby Reardon says:

          Um, this sounds a lot like “Obama only won because so many blahs voted for him.”

          Not in the slightest.

          What does being black and Protestant have to do with people’s surprise/disappointment that so many liberals don’t believe in evolution?

          With their surprise and disappointment? Not a goddamn thing. Rather, it’s a potential explanation for the fact that a third of Democrats claim not to believe in evolution – i.e., there is a large group of people that a) votes overwhelmingly Democratic, b) is highly religious and may therefore be resistant to accepting evolution, and c) happens to be black. Nothing more than that, really. Not sure why you read so much into that sentence.

    • GoDeep says:

      As a political matter I think its irrelevant what ppl believe regarding evolution. I wouldn’t care abt my political allies’ beliefs on evolution anymore than I would care abt their beliefs abt the Virgin Mary, Vishnu, Jehovah, or Allah. All I really care abt at the end of the day is whether or not they’re with me on the issues. Hell I know ppl who don’t believe in evolution (my father), but does believe in global warming. So this might give Dems something to crow abt vs Reps, but I don’t think it matters much in the political scheme of things.

      • Anonymous says:

        it’s a political issue because local control of schools informs textbook purchases and any yahoo can fuck up a school board meeting.

        • ajp says:

          Precisely. Education is important. If you don’t want evolution to be taught, or want intelligent design taught in biology, you are not my political ally.

          Like reproductive rights-these differences that stem (on the opposing end mostly, not on my part) stem largely from religion and I am not willing to compromise on them either.

          • anthrofred says:

            It’s problematic to assume, however, that people who personally don’t recognize evolution also object to it being taught in schools. Certainly there are plenty of people who want to “teach the controversy” (sigh), but that doesn’t mean that GoDeep’s parents, for example, would necessarily want to alter textbooks, though they might.

            The survey didn’t ask “should evolution be taught in schools”, or perhaps more tellingly “should evolution be eliminated from textbooks” (phrasing matters!). It simply asked people about their own private beliefs.

            • Anonymous says:

              having accepted the error in the instrument, this is still a political issue.

              • anthrofred says:

                Sure. But it’s a bit frightening to think of it as a litmus test. Would you throw away the support of black evangelicals, for example, against police corruption or the cutting of entitlements? “You are not my political ally” (which I realize is something ajp said, not you) is a very strong statement that also implies a particular understanding of what “ally” means.

                Alliances are contingent, negotiated, and often transient, relating to particular struggles and issues. To actually put purity tests in place is to fall prey to Tea Party logic.

      • Sans Lies says:

        As a political matter I think its irrelevant what ppl believe regarding evolution.

        Smartest comment to date.

      • Donalbain says:

        The ability to look at evidence and come to conclusions regarding the world is important to me in a politician. Or the ability to seek advice when they don’t know the answer. Someone being a creationist tells me that they do NOT follow where the evidence leads and that is worrying.

    • SatanicPanic says:

      It’s a solid majority which means we don’t have to worry about placating dummies like the Republicans do.

  16. legion says:

    Not all Republicans are morons, but if you _are_ a moron, it’s pretty much a given that you’re a Republican.

    • Jamie says:

      I would flip that around. Not all morons are Republicans (see, for example, the Green Lantern set on the left), but if you’re a Republican, it’s damn likely that you’re a moron.

      • anthrofred says:

        There’s nothing dumb about supporting the party that supports your class interests. Many Republicans, particularly big donors, are very intelligent and very selfish.

        • Jamie says:

          That’s fair, but even if their support of Republicans is rational, they can still act like idiots. Sheldon Adelson throwing money away on a vanity candidate comes to mind. Some of these people may very well be intelligent, but they’ve managed to convince themselves, in a lot of cases, that black is white and up is down. Which strikes me as fairly moronic.

        • Snarki, child of Loki says:

          you left out “evil”

  17. Don’t over-think it, the reason is pretty simple: today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today, updated daily.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      This supports my theory that one day President Obama will let slip that he doesn’t think people should mix bleach and ammonia to clean their toilets and … Mustard Gas Tragedy Leaves Thousands Ill, Dead.

      • anthrofred says:

        Is there a suggestion that would only render them unable to vote rather than dead? Because I could get behind that.

        “Always bring your ID with you to polling places!”, maybe.

        • (Shakezula) says:

          That would only work in places where ID is required to vote and hopefully there will soon be no such places.

          “I’m President Barack Obama and I encourage you to vote this election day.”

          • anthrofred says:

            hopefully there will soon be no such places.

            Hopefully! But FRAUD!)@#!, you know, those shifty DemoRATS, gotta legislate against that. Thanks a bunch, SCOTUS, for making it easier.

        • Snarki, child of Loki says:

          The IRS will have undercover agents snooping around polling places in GOP-heavy districts, looking for people that are looking “too prosperous” for their declared income.

      • Cheap Wino says:

        Hehe. Thanks for the laugh!

        I really hope history acknowledges just how anti- anything Obama (first) and Dem (second)the current GOP is. These are the governing policies of their party. The third most influential factor is about as important as the third most influential political party in the US is.

        I feel that this is the essentially the legacy of the Obama presidency. Whatever the degree of success of PPACA, historically everything will have to be understood through the lens of the utter intractability of the GOP for the last eight years.

  18. Jim Harrison says:

    Asserting “I don’t believe in evolution” is pretty much the culture conservative’s version of “I am Spartacus!” It’s not a comment about biology—most people care about biology?—it’s a loyalty oath.

  19. jkay says:

    I think it’s because of the debt ceiling radical stupid. It’ s resplitting the GOP coalition that was fragile after being broken by Shrub. I read Larison, a peacemonger conservative Republican, and that’s what he blogs on the subject.

  20. Future JD Student says:

    Biblical conservatives: Evolution is false.

    Egalitarian liberals: Evolution is true, but only up to a point. You better be an anthropological egalitarian and not discuss cognitive and behavioral differences among human groups, or else you’re a raaaaacist.

    Liberals have their miraculous Jeebus moment, too: 40,000 ago, when humans branched off and evolution stopped mattering.

    • anthrofred says:

      You better be an anthropological egalitarian and not discuss cognitive and behavioral differences among human groups, or else you’re a raaaaacist.

      Yeah, pretty sure behavioral differences among human groups is the foundation of anthropology, but hey, don’t trust me on it, I only have master’s degrees in the field.

      Of course I’m being a pedant: I know that you meant “evolution means skin color determines behavior because syrup”.

      • rea says:

        Obivously, evolution links skin color and intelligence, because, as we all know, the skin is the organ of thought.

      • Linnaeus says:

        Of course I’m being a pedant: I know that you meant “evolution means skin color determines behavior because syrup”.

        JenBob also said “cognitive”. That’s the tip-off, right there.

        • anthrofred says:

          The big tip-off that any given name is JenBob is “raaaaacism”, with any number of extra “a”s.

          I just left “cognitive” alone, because there’s a difference between “cognition” and “cognitive capacity” that’s just too fine for our poor future JD.

    • rea says:

      FJDS, it is not enough to believe in evolution, it is also necessary to understand it.

    • DrDick says:

      Speaking as a Ph.D. anthropologist who has taught race and ethnicity for more than 20 years, let me simply observe that both the American Anthropological Association and every major genetics organization have issued public statements stating that humans do not have races and the cognitive and behavioral traits do not map onto what are commonly thought of as races or any other geographical population.

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      40,000 ago, when humans branched off
      Don’t give up the day job.

    • DrDick says:

      40,000 ago, when humans branched off and evolution stopped mattering.

      Is there anything you actually know? The human line branched off that leading to chimpanzees and bonobos about 5-7 million years ago and the human line continued to evolve up to the present. Even fully modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, in Africa, but only appear in Europe about 45,000 years ago. They were already in Australia by 50-60,000 years ago. We have numerous good examples of ongoing evolution in humans, such as the production of lactase in adults.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      JD stands for Jerk n’ Derp.

    • Francis says:

      Even assuming, hypothetically, that you could measure a single variable Q and call that intelligence, you need to explain why you’re so particularly interested in how Q varies among human groups.

      Why use “race” as the second variable? Why not height, or hair color, or eye color, or handedness, or relative finger lengths? Why is it that L. Summers wanted to talk about distribution in Q based on sex and not based on genetic markers for obesity?

      The moment you start subdividing humanity into sub-groups, one sub-group is going to have a slightly different bell curve for a particular attribute over another. But last I checked, no one was arguing that being right-handed meant that you were inferior.

      (The silence is especially shocking since righties so clearly are sub-optimal. Why, in the days of coin-operated toll booths I had a huge evolutionary advantage.)

  21. Todd says:

    More and more I am reminded of the history of Byzantium when thinking about recent U.S. history/politics/culture.

    • Byzantium had people on its borders trying to destroy it. The US has people on its borders trying to become it.

      • Lurker says:

        I disagree. The people on the borders of the Roman empire very much wanted to become part of it, both before and after the fall of the Western Empire. In cases where it was militarily possible, the neighbouring peoples made incursions into the Empire, and even settled down permanently, but they still wanted to become Romans, at least to some extent.

        On individual level, the most visible migration of barbarians was in the form of “mercenaries” as we like to call them. Most of them were not really “mercenaries” in the current sense of the word but young men who enlisted the regular Roman auxiliary units reserved for non-citizens. Getting 20 years under the belt and being discharged as a Roman citizen was a very important motivator. The barbarians who enlisted were probably no less loyal to Rome than the green card holders who enlist in the US armed forces (and who get citizenship as a result) are loyal to the US.

        Second, even when the invading barbarians managed to gain a permanent foothold, they adopted a lot of Roman culture. Mostly, they tried to fit their tribes into the imperial power structure: for example, Theoderic the Great ruled as a King of Goths, (formally a Roman ally) but also held the office of magister militum from the Roman Emperor, and tried to retain as much Roman administration as possible in his kingdom. Similarly, when the Franks rebelled against Maximian at the behest of Carausius, even the contemporary authors remarked that the Frankish army, although barbarian in theory, was virtually indistinguishable from a Roman army, because it was made up of barbarians who were Roman auxiliaries and had lived a long time in the Empire.

        Third, it is clear that the Roman Empire had a lot of prestige. The invading barbarian chiefs and kings really wanted the emperor to bestow a Roman title on them. You don’t do that if you want to destroy the Empire. You do it when you want to exploit it.

        • I disagree. The people on the borders of the Roman empire very much wanted to become part of it

          Byzantium had a somewhat different history.

          • Lurker says:

            Byzantium is anachronistic. When I say “Roman Empire” I mean both Eastern Roman Empire and its predecessor, the umdivided Empire. The East Romans never called themselves Byzantines.

            This should be clear from my reference to Theoderic the Great who was a magister militium and a Roman Consul because the Roman Emperor reigning in Constantinople gave these ranks to him.

          • Lurker says:

            I disagree with you also on the substance. The Eastern Rome remained at least until the eleventh century the most prestigious state in Western Eurasia. It routinely recruited barbarians from near and far to its armies, and was hallowed for its riches in stories told even in the Northernmost Europe. Most people who came to contact with it wanted to get a piece of those riches and enjoy its culture, not to destroy it. (With the exception of Parthians, who had a similar level of culture of their own.)

            Even the Arabs who conquered Syria and Northern Africa eventually adopted almost all of the architecture, fine art and science that Rome had to offer. (They did not bother adopting the religion or administration, which likely was the greatest reason for their success. The heavy-taxing, heretic-hunting Roman Empire was really an awful burden to its mostly heretic Syrian and African subjects and getting conquered by Arabs eased the plight of the population considerably.)

            • I dunno that wanting their stuff necessarily involves them as a model for the neighbours who would happily conquer them, except in the magical sense that the consumption of a noble enemy might imbue you with his properties/prestige. And they still end up destroyed. Mind you there are 1000 years of cherry-picking among the enemies for me to do, and your arguments are worth thinking about.

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