Linkage is BAD for You: Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Edition


  • Has Ron Unz debunked "hard hereditarianism"? Yes! No! No! Yes! Yes! Yes! No! No! No! That's not the point! Maybe? Nope. Yes! My take? Richard Lynn is a biased (and sloppy) but reasonably transparent scholar who, with colleagues, has drawn from disparate stores of data to conclude that IQ has some substantial and genetically attenuated positive association with national wealth. Ron Unz is a motivated journalist who saw an opportunity to bait racialist cheerleaders into predictable fits of spleen. By cherry-picking for instances of internal inconsistency within Lynn's kitchen sink data dumps, Unz advances a narrow and lawyerly (but not disingenuous) rebuttal that tends at every turn to minimize the crucial significance of controlled behavior-genetic data, which provide the strongest baseline support for "hard hereditarianism," provided the term is meaningfully defined — as it always is — to allow that environmental factors remain in play. The present debate, to borrow Fester's term, is mostly "theater." [UPDATE: a reader points out that Steven Pinker has also responded to Ron Unz here.]
  • Aschwin de Wolf reviews The Better Angels of Our Nature.
  • Gilad Atzmon reviews A Serious Man.
  • Trevor Lynch reviews A Serious Man.
  • Kevin MacDonald reviews A Serious Man.
  • The artist formerly known as Roissy speculates on the elusive "gay gene."
  • Read this and laugh.
  • Watch this and laugh.
  • Has Steven Pinker debunked "group selection"? Yes! No! No! Yes! Yes? Yes! No! No! Yes! Sort of? I don't understand! No! Yes! My take? It's wise to think thrice before arguing with Pinker — or with John Hawks –  and there are compelling reasons to believe that observed "groupish" tendencies, from stampeding herds to sacrificial altruism to team spirit, are entirely consistent with elegant gene-selectionist models that have proved robust when challenged in the past. Beyond the wrangling over conceptual scaffolding and semantics that punctuate the exchange among Pinker and defenders of variously qualified iterations of group — or "multi-level" — selection, the take-home point seems to be that the soup of culture is best understood as a gnarly environment favoring (individual) competitive strategies that skew toward coformity and cohesion, thereby inviting sophisticated misinterpretation and setting the default for skepticism. Of course, human culture is unique and powerful and human populations are observably inter-competitive, and it is theoretically possible (as Pinker concedes) that some formalized group selectionist model could here and there turn out to have special explanatory power. If I were sleuthing on the anthropological front, I would look carefully at genetically concentrated effects arising from genocidal inter-tribal conflicts or maybe from religious shunning practices, where the population-bound effects of adopting culturally facilitated customs might be such that provide a more efficient mechanistic template for higher-level selection and subsequent replication of distinct genetic traits. Perhaps those aren't the best candidates for scrutiny, but if there are suspicous threshold events where micro-replicative models may to give way to profound macro-replicative adaptation, that's where you want to compare the maths and — maybe — hedge your bets. 

Memento mori.  

One thought on “Linkage is BAD for You: Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture Edition

  1. Never read Rand, but I always thought the clearest example of her rejection of capitalism was the architect blowing up a building he designed & disliked, but didn’t own.

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