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).