A Hereditarian Points Out the Main Problem with Hereditarianism

A commenter points out the problem that I have long had with the hereditarian view of human genetics, in particular IQ, where these characters are the most vocal. On the face of it, the hereditarian view is a valid hypothesis, it’s just that the people proposing it are such a bunch of malign and loathsome shit, almost to a man. And yes, they are almost all men, by the way. Women are understandably repelled by this misanthropic view, as they ought to be, since women are natural humanists.

For instance, quite a few people say I’m a good writer. Some even say I’m a great writer. Maybe they’re right, who knows?

But the point is that though I had talent even as a child, it didn’t end there.

I wrote a poem in the second grade, and the teacher thought it was so great that she called the principal in and read it to the class in front of him while everyone clapped. Actually, the poem sucked, but it was pretty good for a 7 year old.

At age nine, I was working on a novel. At age 16, I won an award for the best high school newspaper column in the state. At age 22, my creative writing professor said he’d never seen anything like it in his life and compared my stuff to Thomas Pynchon. At age 31, my friends were reading my stuff and shaking their heads, comparing it to James Joyce or William Shakespeare.

Anyway, the point is…guess what? I’ve been practicing writing my whole life! In the last few years, when I publish nearly every day, I’m practicing almost all the time. It wasn’t just some God-given gift. I’ve been working on it for 45 years! I have friends who are awesome musicians. Guess what? They all practice or if they are in a band, rehearse, constantly. They only get better and better. My artist friends draw all the time. The more they draw, the better they get.

Your risk of Alzheimer’s is related not so much to IQ but to the degree to which you exercise your brain in life.

Suppose two guys are born with a gift for running. At age 50, one guy hasn’t run in 25 years, and he sits on his ass all day, drinks beer and watches TV. His friend at age 50 still runs marathons. Guess which one is the better runner? Your brain isn’t all that different from your legs. Your brain is like a muscle; it gets better the more you use it.

The hereditarian approach to IQ has serious weaknesses. How can we explain 20 point IQ gains in only 70 years in the West in the 20th Century (the Flynn Effect) with consummate massive increases in head size? Guess what? It didn’t happen by genes, and genes didn’t make those heads bigger either.

How can we explain the 20 point gap between US Black and African IQ? Probably not by genes.

How can we explain 5-14 point Flynn rises in IQ in the second generation of many ethnic groups who move from the 3rd World to the West? Not by genes.

Ground Zero for the atavistic misanthropes of the hereditarian game was always the almost physically repulsive Gene Expression blog. The character named godless capitalist was always a loathsome man. The repellent Jason Malloy was a close second. Even Razib was creepy as fuck.

I remember once the news hit that IQ’s in Scandinavia, previously rising due to a Flynn Effect, had actually started to decline in recent years. The assholes on Gene Expression were practically throwing a party on their fucking site! IQ’s are going down, yeehaw! Malloy was pouring the drinks. What kind of human being rejoices when humans are getting stupider? Good God.

The commenter sums this view up nicely:

I agree that hereditarian racialists shoot down every bit of evidence for environmental effects on IQ. They tend not to merely disagree that the evidence is persuasive; they tend to angrily reject it and ridicule as it the stupidest idea ever. I think they’re somewhat justified in doing so because hereditarian positions are perfectly valid a priori assumptions, and, though not without problematic implications, would seem a wiser basis from which to proceed.

Nevertheless, one of those problematic implications hinted at tends to manifest itself as diehard genetic determinism, which in the hands of the average punter often produces a sort of supreme disgust with the world, seeing in it only human(oid) rubbish fit only for extinction natural or assisted.

Well, at least it does so in its most extreme forms.

The more moderate form is also dehumanizing, however. It says to a person all that you are now, or all that you’ve managed to achieve by now, that’s it; there is not the slightest chance you’ll ever amount to any more than that (so just give up and die already, or something useful like that, you get the feeling they’d like to add).

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14 thoughts on “A Hereditarian Points Out the Main Problem with Hereditarianism”

  1. To Rob:

    I agree that hereditarian racialists shoot down every bit of evidence for environmental effects on IQ.

    Well the author of that comment hasn’t read Rushton’s or Jensen’s comments in the writing about environmental effects. Rushton’s in comments about the Minnesota Twin study according 30% of the IQ score to the environment… in one of your links he and Jensen lowered it to 20% but that’s still a fairly seizable variable. (I am guessing that they are not including things such as severe malnutrition or physical abuse..)

    You seem to have a major issue with the Hereditarians as you call them but even major Psychiatric organizations accord a high percentage of intelligence to heredity.

    “Estimates in the academic research of the heritability of IQ have varied from below 0.5[4] to a high of 0.9.[7] A general range of 0.4 to 0.8 was given by the “Mainstream Science on Intelligence”, a 1994 declaration of 52 scientists in the field.[8] A 1996 statement by the American Psychological Association gave about .45 for children and about .75 during and after adolescence.[9] A 2004 meta-analysis of reports in Current Directions in Psychological Science gave an overall estimate of around .85 for 18-year-olds and older.[10] The New York Times Magazine has listed about three quarters as a figure held by the majority of studies.[11]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

    So the figures cited above are very close to Jensen and Rushton’s figures for heritability of IQ. Of course where they differ is over race.

    1. I should rephrase “So the figures cited above are very close to Jensen and Rushton’s figures for heritability of IQ. Of course where they differ is over race…” to the figures for the Current Directions in Psychological Science and American Psychological Association for heritability of IQ very similar to Rushton and Jensen’s figures but they disagree over assigning such figures to large population groups categorized by race and/or ethnicity.

    2. Yeah, all those assholes say that, sure. But Rushton and Jensen have shot down almost every single piece of evidence for environmental effect on IQ ever assembled. Rushton has accepted a 5 pt rise in 2nd generation of Moroccan immigrants to Holland, but Jensen so far has shot down every single bit of environmental evidence that has ever been presented to him.

      Do you see how these clowns operate? These shits all do this:

      First, they say that environment is ~30% of IQ. They recite this dully and rote-like, as if in a chant that they don’t believe.

      Next, they ferociously shoot down every single trace and hint of evidence that is presented in any particular case for a particular environmental effect on IQ.

      See how it works?

      They have their cake and eat it too. First, they agree that 30% of IQ is environment. Then, in every single case where we try to show that X IQ group had Y IQ increase due to Z environmental effect, they shoot it right down.

      I would like to point out that you, Unc, a hereditarian, have done exactly this for many months here on this blog. Then, when confronted with your behavior, you strangely denied what was right in front of my eyes.

      What’s going on in your head, Unc?

  2. To Rob:

    What’s going on in your head, Unc?

    The arguments against heredity (at least by race/ethnicity..) seem to be just as absolute and take a scatter shot approach. I like Stephen Jay Gould but he deliberately (as far as I can tell..) misrepresented some of the information he presented. A pretty serious red flag for a man who otherwise was quite an accomplished scientist.

    You call into question people like Rushton ( from I have read is a bit of weirdo..) and Jensen.. fine… I call into question the methods used by people to indicate environment has everything (or most of everything..) to do with it when several bodies of Psychologists and Psychiatrists have assigned the environment to be responsible for between 20% to 60% of IQ. I actually read most of the findings for the Abecedarian project. I’ll comment in a day or two.

    1. You have completely misunderstood me.

      I’m quite aware of the strong evidence for heredity in IQ. As an environmentalist, it’s actually quite frightening. Obviously, genes play a strong role in IQ.

      But the arguments are incorrect. If genes are 60% of IQ, then how is that US NE Asians (IQ 97) gained 8 IQ points over US Whites in a mere 65 years? According to the guys you quote above, if genes are 60% of any IQ gap, then no gap can ever be bridged, n’est pas?

      You are a programmer, you can follow my reasoning.

      I’m actually very frightened by hereditarian arguments. African Blacks have IQ’s of 67? Do you think they will catch up with US Whites (IQ 100) in my lifetime? Not on your life. Will they catch up in 100 years? I’m terrified they may not.

      What I would like you to address, doc, is the obvious fact that almost all hereditarians are conservatives or worse reactionaries. Worse than that, the ultimate radical reactionaries of them all.

      Is there is a reason for this, unc, and if so, what is it? Why is it that almost all hereditarians are pro-capitalist, socialism-hating reactionaries anyway?

      Any thoughts?

      1. @Robert Lindsay said,
        “What I would like you to address, doc, is the obvious fact that almost all hereditarians are conservatives or worse reactionaries.”

        Not quite. From the surveys I’ve seen (that Razib does on GNXP from time to time) most “hereditarians” are either conservatives or libertarians.

        (Note this is not equivalent to saying that most conservatives or libertarians are “hereditarians”.)

        I get the impression that you think all the “hereditarians” have agendas. And some do. But many don’t. Many accept “hereditarianism” because they are accepting the Science (regardless of whether it offends someone).

        @Robert Lindsay said,
        “If genes are 60% of IQ, then how is that US NE Asians (IQ 97) gained 8 IQ points over US Whites in a mere 65 years? According to the guys you quote above, if genes are 60% of any IQ gap, then no gap can ever be bridged, n’est pas? ”

        I think you are misunderstanding what is meant when it is said that there is a heredity component to IQ. If someone was to say, for example, that the heritability of IQ is 60%, that does not mean that it is 60% genes. It speaks of the probability of a child having an IQ similar to their parents.

        (Also, being heritable does not necessarily mean it is genetic. I could be genetics. But it doesn’t have to be.)

  3. Picking up on the sub-topic about writing skills…

    I’ve long believed there are many good writers out there who didn’t pursue it as a career because there aren’t that many full-time jobs for it.

    My idea was to create a TV sit-com about a suburban family, and after a few episodes to establish the characters, ask viewers to submit scripts. There are probably a lot of people out there who could write a good show about changing health insurance plans or dealing with an incompetent plumber, if they only had to do it once. And it would bring the experiences of real people to TV, not just the Hollywood writer community.

  4. The real problem with the issue of IQ heredibility is that the topic is so taboo in most forums, that only people pushing one side or the other talk about it at all. Go try to find objective research on the subject and you can’t.

  5. Silver, yes I’m what Carol Swain called a “New White Nationalist.” If the topic was simply discussed rationally in mainstream forums, I wouldn’t read AmRen just to see what’s missing.

    I don’t call myself a WN. I’m a white culturalist. I live in mixed-race neighborhood into which several black families moved after having kids to get them out of the semi-slum. If they came here to “act white” (although they’d never admit it in those terms) that’s fine with me.

  6. To Rob:

    But the arguments are incorrect. If genes are 60% of IQ, then how is that US NE Asians (IQ 97) gained 8 IQ points over US Whites in a mere 65 years? According to the guys you quote above, if genes are 60% of any IQ gap, then no gap can ever be bridged, n’est pas?

    Well let’s do the math if we accord 60% of the IQ due to genetic factors that leaves 40% for the environment. Is the current average IQ for Asians around 106..? If so let’s assume that on average Asians in the US are hitting 95% of their full potential. So full potential would be an IQ of 100/95 x 106 = 111.5. Let’s say they were hitting 85% of their potential in 1945 (you said 65 years ago..) that would be an average IQ of 94.75, somewhat below Flynn’s average of 96. That would actually agree with the lefty argument that racism and isolation would keep IQ scores down yet still accord the majority of IQ score to heredity. The question would be why did Asians advance so much in that period of time..?

    1. Your argument is very good. However, the hereditarians argue that 60% (Or more!) or any given IQ gap between races or ethnics is due to genetics. If all of the gaps are only 40% environmental, than no gap can ever be bridged, correct?

      You just showed that their argument is wrong.

      1. To Robert:

        If all of the gaps are only 40% environmental, than no gap can ever be bridged, correct?

        Not sure I follow you… I just showed that if 40% of intelligence is environmental (and the environment was truly the reason for the relative Asian under performance versus Whites..) then racial gaps could not only be overcome but reversed… at least for Asians and Whites.

        Of course I have do not know if there truly is such a 60/40 split but it seems plausible.

        Now let’s look at Jamaicans in Jamaica.. they’re supposed to have around an IQ of 72..? Ok for our purposes.. let’s use those figures. US Whites are supposed to be 103. So let’s say US Whites have hit 95% of their potential and Jamaicans have hit 70% of their potential. Granted we are saying the environment in Jamaica is pretty bad for creating a higher IQ population whereas for US Whites it’s very good.. but following that logic…

        US White full potential = 100/95 x 103 IQ = 108.4 IQ

        Jamaican IQ Full potential = 100/70 x 72 IQ= 102.85

        About a 1/3 of a standard deviation between the two.

        1. The hereditarians say that 60% of *the gaps themselves* are hereditary. They say this all the time. They often say this explicitly WRT to the B/W gap. The inference is that if the B/W *gap itself* is 60% genetic, the gap can never be overcome.

          However, I think you have made a good point here with your examples and math. Kudos!

  7. To Robert:

    Suppose two guys are born with a gift for running. At age 50, one guy hasn’t run in 25 years, and he sits on his ass all day, drinks beer and watches TV. His friend at age 50 still runs marathons. Guess which one is the better runner? Your brain isn’t all that different from your legs. Your brain is like a muscle; it gets better the more you use it.

    Well yes.. but plenty of evidence suggests that the smarter you are the more likely you are to continue
    “exercising” your brain as opposed to parking yourself on the couch in front of the tube all day.

    Take 100 kids whose average IQ is 85 and take 100 kids whose average IQ 130 at the age of 16. Which group is likely (substantially more likely..) to produce writers, computer programmers, lawyers, doctors, etc…?

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