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The Nature/Nature Debate in Decline.
Over the last 40 years or so, there has been a heated denial by advocates of naïve environmentalism that there is any genetic basis for group differences in mental ability. For well over 100 years, the average White IQ has been about 100 and the average Black IQ has been 85. Intelligence tests of course can change over time, and people can learn how to take them. But for 100 years, the standard deviation between Blacks and Whites has remained about 1 (15 IQ points).
I have tried to point out that this debate should really look at the extremes. That is, how can environmental factors alone account for the three standard deviations between the average Ashkenazi Jewish IQ of 115~117 and the African sub-Saharan average intelligence of 70. This comparison is usually ignored, with the battle line drawn around usually just Blacks and Whites.
The battle however is over, and it is only the "inquisitional intent of its political correctness" (O'Meara, 2004) that sustains the irrational stance of the detractors trying to hold back behavior genetics, pharmacogenomics, forensic medicine, psychometrics, genetic engineering, etc. This flood of research is overwhelming the holdouts in the social sciences, anthropology, and some psychologists still trying to deny that humans are just like all other animals—both genes and the environment are important.
Since the egalitarians have little to show in terms of research—that is that environmental factors can account for the difference in average mental ability between races—they have resorted to attacking behavior genetics in terms of scientific methodology rather than on research data. That is, using the philosophy of science rather than scientific research to put the genie back in the bottle.
The book Making Sense of Heritability by Neven Sesardic, 2005, not only points out the errors of those trying to find methodological errors in behavior genetics, he goes even further in advocating sound reasons why racial profiling is perfectly rational, why a person's biases are irrelevant to scientific research, etc. (Two other good books are Wrestling with Behavior Genetics: Science, Ethics, and Public Conversation edited by Parens, 2006 and Genes and Behavior: Nature-Nurture Interplay Explained by Michael Rutter, 2006.)
Sesardic starts out the book with a good overview of heritability, explaining the difference between broad and narrow heritability and the components used by behavior geneticists to determine heritability. But the best parts of the book are his insights into how genes and environment interact, and how attacking genetic influence often undermines the radical environmentalists' positions. "It is hence curious to see heritability attacked by people who want to emphasize the importance of environmental influences. For, if their criticism succeeds in making the heritability methodologically suspect or scientifically useless, they are thereby pulling the rug from under their own feet: they have then no right to speak about the environmental impact on phenotypic variation, either. A concept complementary to a meaningless concept is itself meaningless."
Throughout the book he shows how almost unbalanced some of the attack dogs for environmentalism become, unable to see clearly. "More worrying, however, is when the same mistake is repeated by contemporary philosophers who are trained to pay attention to results of the relevant empirical research. Philip Kitcher, relying on a paleontologist and two philosophers as his sole authorities on the research on human cognitive abilities, proclaimed general intelligence a 'myth' (Kitcher 1985: 200-201). To see how far off-base his judgment is, notice that the American Psychological Association's task group on intelligence stated that the theory of general intelligence is 'the most widely accepted current view' (Neisser et al. 1996: 81). Also, g is regarded as 'perhaps the most replicated result in psychology' (Deary 2000: 318), and as 'probably the best measured and most studied human trait in all of psychology' (Gottfredson 2002: 25). Another prominent researcher on psychology of intelligence calls the general intelligence factor 'certainly the most robust phenomenon in the social sciences,' and adds: 'Despite torturous method of factor analysis, attacks from outraged critics and even long periods of being ignored, g [general intelligence] just keeps reappearing like the insistent relative that won't go away' (Detterman 2000: 136). In a recent conference attended by leading experts on human intelligence, Michael Rutter, who is known for his moderate views, said: 'All of us accept [g's] reality. It is not merely a statistical artifact, rather, it really does represent something that is biologically important.'"(Rutter 2000: 282—italics added)
Later Sesardic asks "Why do the philosophers present the research on g and its heritability as a failure and an irrational enterprise, despite plenty of evidence that it is in reality a bustling and fruitful research program? If we accept Paul Meehl's diagnosis of why the very idea of general intelligence still faces obstinate resistance, there are three possible explanations of philosophical g-phobia: 'A century of research—more than that if we start with Galton—has resulted in a triumph of scientific psychology, the foot-draggers being either uninformed, deficient in quantitative reasoning, or impaired by political correctness.'"(Meehl 1998)
It is fairly certain that political correctness is the closest reason, but it goes even farther than that. It is none other than a struggle against the West and it accomplishments, values, and unique gene pool. If Whites ever again embrace a more communal, identarian, or particularistic worldview where they prefer their own kin to others, liberalism–egalitarianism will be rejected as normative and not scientific.
Gould's book The Mismeasure of Man is considered by Sesardic, and he notes, "More to the point, however, Gould's central argument against hereditarians happens to be based on a misunderstanding of the position he is criticizing. He says: 'a reified Spearman's g is still the only promising justification for hereditarian theories of mean differences in IQ among human groups . . . The chimerical nature of g is the rotten core of Jensen's edifice, and of the entire hereditarian school' (Gould 1981: 320). In reality, Jensen's views on the genetic explanation of racial differences in IQ are totally independent from the question whether there is only one factor of intelligence or more factors. Here is what James Flynn, a consistent critic of Jensen, had to say on the matter: 'Gould's book evades all of Jensen's best arguments for a genetic component in the black–white IQ gap, by positing that they are dependent on the concept of g as a general intelligence factor. Therefore, Gould believes that if he can discredit g, no more need be said. This is manifestly false. Jensen's arguments would bite no matter whether blacks suffered from a score deficit on one or 10 or 100 factors. I attribute no intent or motive to Gould, it is just that you cannot rebut arguments if you do not acknowledge and address them.'" (Flynn 1999a: 373)
Sesardic goes on to explain that critics claim that heritability is meaningless because genes and environments interact. But he points out that rigorous research has shown genotype–environment interactions in infancy do not account for much variance. He notes that, "The idea that the effect of changing one factor always depends on what is happening to other factors is an empirical claim, and a demonstrably false one at that. A dramatic refutation is what happens with genetically modified organisms, where particular genes often continue to have the same effect even after being transplanted across species and placed into a drastically different genetic and environmental context."
Many times over, Sesardic points out that if we accepted the methodological objections against behavior genetics, the same impact would fall on the social sciences, adversely impacting all of science. He also notes that to be scientifically rigorous, social scientists should consider the impact of genes, not just environments like they so often do. On the other hand they will criticize behavior geneticists for assuming genetic influence while ignoring environmental influence on phenotype when in fact they do not. Behavior genetics looks both at genetic and environmental contributions equally, replicating their empirical studies many times over. Sesardic notes on what Jensen has termed "the sociologist's fallacy,": "Among sociologists, in particular, there is a tendency to interpret the correlation between a social variable and phenotype as a causal relation, without even considering the possibility that genetic influences might be behind the correlation, making it completely bogus."
As an example he explains, "The inference to the truth of the environmental explanation is premature here because the genetic hypothesis can also account for the decrease in the IQ difference between the two groups in this situation. For, it may be that matching whites and blacks on SES has the consequence that the two groups are matched on genetic characteristics as well. If that is the case, it may be that it is the genetic similarity that causes IQ similarity. Without more evidence there is no way to choose between the two possible explanatory hypotheses." He then gives several other examples of the sociologist's fallacy.
Sesardic then takes on several researchers and philosophers who have tried to claim that Jensen was attributing the difference in intelligence between racial groups simply from the fact that each group individually had a high heritability for intelligence. Sesardic then goes into Jensen's (and cites from The Bell Curve where the same claim was made) written work and shows that what he claimed was this: Given that there is a high degree of heritability for intelligence with two racial groups, and given that measured average IQs differ between the two groups, and that there are numerous independent empirical research programs on the cause of the difference in intelligence showing it to be genetic, then it is reasonable to assume that the between group heritability IS NOT ZERO. That is a very modest claim, and leaves room for an environmental explanation for the differences in intelligence.
Sesardic seems to have read every work produced by scientists and science philosophers on the nature–nurture or IQ wars. This is a good example how narrow minded or shallow these people are, "In this connection, it is interesting to note that several authors who strongly disagree with Jensen (Longino 1990; Bowler 1989; Allen 1990; Billings et al. 1992; McInerney 1996; Beckwith 1993; Kassim 2002) refer to his classic paper from 1969 by citing the volume of the Harvard Educational Review incorrectly as "33" (instead of "39"). What makes this mis-citation noteworthy is that the very same mistake is to be found in Gould's Mismeasure of Man (in both editions). Now the fact that Gould's idiosyncratic lapsus calami gets repeated in the later sources is either an extremely unlikely coincidence or else it reveals that these authors' references to Jensen's paper actually originate from their contact with Gould's text, not Jensen's." Referencing a source but using other text for the citation is considered improper in science. If you critique a paper, book, etc. you must read the original if you are going to cite the paper or make claims about what the author actually says. Otherwise you cite the secondary source and must beware of its accuracy.
To recap Jensen's argument: a high within group heritability of IQ among both Whites and Blacks, plus empirical data—mainly about the relation of certain environmental variables and IQ—leads to an expectation that there is a non-zero between group heritability. The expectation follows from evolutionary theory, "'In nature, characteristics that vary genetically among individuals within a population also generally vary genetically between different breeding populations of the same species.' [Jensen as quoted by Sesardic] He [Jensen] suggests that, as a rule (with almost no exceptions), high WGH of a trait is in nature accompanied by non-zero BGH, and he moreover states that this strong empirical association is regarded as a well-established fact by geneticists. These claims were never seriously disputed either by Lewontin or by philosophers of science opposing hereditarianism. However, Jensen warns explicitly that even if the general probabilistic relation between WGH and BGH is conceded, high WGH still does not allow any determinate conclusion about BGH with respect to a particular trait: additional empirical evidence is necessary. He [Jensen] concludes the relevant section with a cautionary remark: 'As I have pointed out elsewhere, other methods than heritability analysis are required to test the hypothesis that racial group differences in a given trait involve genetic factors and to determine their extent.'"
Given these facts and the empirical evidence, Jensen then asks for empirical proof that shows environmental factors alone can account for the average differences in intelligence. The first of two types of environmental explanations is called variable environments. Given that the heritability of intelligence is at least 70% in adulthood, the difference in environments between Blacks and Whites—things like nutrition, schooling, SES, etc.—would have to vary by 1.82 standard deviations. That big of a difference between each population group's environments just does not exist.
"The second strategy tries to explain the between-group difference by postulating a factor that has no within-group variance but which is consistently present in one group and consistently absent in the other one. Following Jensen, I will label this kind of environmentalist explanation 'X-factor theory.'" The most common example used has been two pots of plants—one pot is pure sand and the other pot is good growing soil—which means that heritability of say plant height in each pot is 100%, while heritability between the two pots of plants is zero.
"Bear in mind, however, that this can happen only if the phenotypic differences between the two groups are caused by an environmental factor that has no within-group variance at all. Hence, complete hereditarianism about within-group differences is logically compatible with complete environmentalism about between-group differences. All right. But Lewontin himself and too many of his ardent supporters thought that the example proved something much stronger, namely, within-group heritability is entirely irrelevant for assessing between-group heritability. This is wrong. As Flynn says: 'the real message of Lewontin's example is that we can ignore high [heritability] only if there exists a highly specific and highly unusual set of circumstances. Therefore, it is absurd to say that high [heritability] estimates within black and white respectively are irrelevant. Their relevance consists precisely of this: they force us to look for a plausible candidate for the role of [X-factor].'" (Flynn 1980: 58–59)
Searching for an X-factor, "As both Flynn and Jensen point out, in reality it may be very difficult to find a plausible candidate for the role of X-factor. This is because this factor ought to be uniformly present in one group and uniformly absent in the other group, and furthermore it should manifest no variation inside either group. For this reason, SES and educational inequalities (the usual suspects in the puzzle of racial difference in IQ) are automatically excluded in this kind of scenario because they obviously have a significant variance within both whites and blacks. The same is true of some other popular candidates for an X-factor, and all this shows that the search will by no means be easy. Indeed, high within-group heritability can so severely constrain X-factor theorizing as to make this type of environmentalism exceptionally vulnerable to disconfirmation. This is exactly what Jensen was trying to demonstrate. And here again he certainly did not argue in favor of the genetic hypothesis by relying solely on the fact of high within group heritability of IQ but by also extensively analyzing the empirical credentials of prospective X-factor hypotheses, and by finding them sorely wanting."
Some had tried to claim that discrimination or racism could qualify as an X-factor. But discrimination can only operate through a host of variable environment factors. The search for an X-factor has not been successful.
Sesardic then discusses Ned Block, "the leading philosophical authority on the questions of race, IQ, and heritability….", and his attack on The Bell Curve. Like Lewontin, he first distorts what Herrnstein and Murray actually wrote, then attacks what they did not say—the typical strawman method increasingly used by the Left.
In addition, "In that summary Block mentions only three pieces of empirical evidence: the so-called Flynn Effect, the data about caste-like minorities, and the relatively small amount of genetic variation between the races. Notoriously, these are all the data standardly used to support environmentalism. Whereas these data are scrupulously discussed in The Bell Curve and then weighed against the contrary empirical information, more consistent with hereditarianism, in Block's concise picture of the controversy there is no place at all for the evidence that threatens environmentalism."
The above is interesting because Lewontin's oft quoted and anecdotal observation that there is more variation within a racial group than between racial groups is quickly biting the dust because of genetic studies and primarily pharmacogenomics—the recognition that races vary enough that different medical treatments are deemed necessary, should put an end to his meaningless argument. In addition, the so-called Flynn Effect has not been unraveled, as the standard deviation difference between Whites and Blacks remains. And finally, the caste-like minority explanation has been a series of just-so stories.
Sesardic treats Lewontin's argument at some length, and points out numerous errors in his reasoning aside from the emerging field of pharmacogenomics. Lewontin simply states that there is little genetic differences between races without offering any support to his assertion. This argument of course has been around for decades, so it keeps getting repeated as if it has some empirical meaning.
In addition, "Since Lewontin mentions differences in skin color, a good question here is: do we expect that the component of interracial genetic variation with respect to that trait will be also around 7 percent? Certainly not. Actually, according to a recent study (Relethford 2002) it is 88 percent. Now the issue we are addressing is the following: is the distribution of genetic variance with respect to cognitive abilities more like (1) the case of skin color, where between-race variation is comparatively high, or like (2) genetic loci examined by Lewontin and others (Lewontin 1972; Barbujani et al. 1997), where the average between-group component is comparatively low (less than 12 percent), or perhaps (3) somewhere in between? The honest answer is that we just don't know. This is an empirical question, and drawing inference about cognitive abilities on the basis of what we know about, say, blood groups is completely unjustified."
Sesardic then turns tables on Lewontin's argument: "Imagine that a hereditarian counterpart of Lewontin comes upon the scene, and that he undertakes careful measurement of many environmental influences within groups and between groups. Suppose that he eventually finds out that in his sample, average environmental variation in most traits he measured is much smaller between groups than within groups (say, between-groups variance is 'only' 7 percent of the total variance). He then starts arguing that this is bad news for environmentalists and that 'spokesmen for various ethnic groups' should be worried because the proportion of between-group environmental variance is 'surprisingly small,' and that 'obviously' environmental causes cannot explain the between-group difference in cognitive abilities.
"It is very clear what is wrong with this argument. The fact that between-group environmental differences do not have much impact on average does not show that they do not have much impact on cognitive abilities. In this context, we recognize the error immediately, but in the genetic case, although we are dealing with the same logical fallacy, we are more easily deceived."
Back to Lewontin's two pots of plants. A plant stuck growing in sand would be equivalent to a child being raised in a closet. Normal development really wants to happen, and humans generally have environments that facilitate that growth. Primate offspring, for millions of years, from ape to man, have been left on their own and developed quite normally. Virtually every environment today must be considered an enriched environment compared to say the childhood environment of 40,000 years ago.
As egalitarians have been massacred by the Jensenist empirical data, they have turned to an especially insidious argument with regards to motive. That is, anyone who does research on racial differences in intelligence must be a racist; therefore their findings can be dismissed as invalid. Sesardic explains it this way, "The argument of the type 'Mistaken because politically motivated' involves at least three steps: (1) that person X has a particular political attitude A; (2) that A was the main cause of X's adopting a scientific belief B; and (3) on the basis of the two previous steps it is concluded that B is false. It is by no means easy to justify the first two steps, but as our discussion demonstrates, even if (1) and (2) are established, (3) does not follow. Proving that someone's belief about scientific matters has been caused by truth-irrelevant considerations is in itself irrelevant for the truth of that belief."
Then, from the Left: "'We share a commitment to the prospect of the creation of a more socially just—socialist—society. And we recognize that a critical science is an integral part of the struggle to create that society.'" (Rose et al. 1984: ix) In short, politics comes before science for these die-hard Marxists. When we look back, it is obvious that heritability has been well understood for thousands of years, and as far as I can determine there has only been one period in time where naïve environmentalism dominated in the biological sciences. Under the committed Marxist Franz Boas (1858-1942), the field of cultural anthropology was created in academia and packed with like-minded radicals. Going against common sense, they declared that humans, unlike any other organism, were free of any genetic influence. The Marxists dominated academia and the media from about 1930 to 1970 when behavior genetics began to reassert itself. Now, these egalitarians have fallen back on censorship rather than modern science.
Science today is also often condemned because of perceived consequences—the "consequential fallacy." Sesardic notes, "Philip Kitcher defends [the consequential fallacy] with the following argument in Vaulting Ambition: 'Everybody ought to agree that, given sufficient evidence for some hypothesis about humans, we should accept that hypothesis whatever its political implications. But the question of what counts as sufficient evidence is not independent of the political consequences. If the costs of being wrong are sufficiently high, then it is reasonable and responsible to ask for more evidence than is demanded in situations where mistakes are relatively innocuous.'" (Kitcher 1985: 9) Sesardic takes apart at length Kitcher's assertion. But reasonable people with an understanding of science realize that truth cannot be based on one's bias (he's a racist—theory is false) or based on the consequences of the results just because the results may go counter to a persons political or moral philosophy.
For decades, Whites have been chastised for slavery, oppression, colonialism, genocide, etc. I know very few Whites who really care one way or the other. They either don't think about it, or they just say "get over it." For the politically correct advocates, they would destroy scientific integrity in favor of an intolerant world where truth is fabricated to meet political goals.
Sesardic exposes the absurdity of anti-racist arguments, "First of all, the issue about heritability is obviously a purely empirical and factual one. So there is a strong case for denying that it can affect our normative beliefs. But it is worth noting that the idea that a certain heritability value could have political implications was not only criticized for violating Hume's law ["ought" cannot be derived from "is"], but also for being politically dangerous. Bluntly, if the high heritability of IQ differences between races really has racist implications then it would seem that, after all, science could actually discover that racism is true.
"The danger was clearly recognized by David Horowitz in his comments on a statement on race that the Genetics Society of America (GSA) wanted to issue in 1975. A committee preparing the statement took the line that racism is best fought by demonstrating that racists' belief in the heritability of the black–white difference in IQ is disproved by science. Horowitz objected: 'The proposed statement is weak morally, for the following reason: Racists assert that blacks are genetically inferior in I.Q. and therefore need not be treated as equals. The proposed statement disputes the premise of the assertion, but not the logic of the conclusion. It does not perceive that the premise, while it may be mistaken, is not by itself racist: it is the conclusion drawn (wrongly) from it that is racist. Even if the premise were correct, the conclusion would not be justified ... Yet the proposed statement directs its main fire at the premise, and by so doing seems to accept the racist logic. It places itself in a morally vulnerable position, for if, at some future time, that the premise is correct, then the whole GSA case collapses, together with its case for equal opportunity.'" (Quoted in Provine 1986: 880)
Racism however does seem to be true, if by racism one means that racists prefer to support and be around people like themselves. Frank Salter's book, On Genetic Interests, provides the philosophical (and scientific) grounds for such a stance, and empirical studies on ethnic interests shows that preference for one's own kind is universal—if not always acted upon. It is ironic that favoritism towards family, including one's ethnic group, is all around us and yet it is not recognized as a natural component of human behavior—nepotism is a universal practice. If people did not favor those with similar genes, then nepotism would not exist. Particularism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, genetic interests, tribalism, and clannishness—these are all just synonyms for racism. As a particularist, I openly embrace universal inegalitarianism while embracing kin egalitarianism. This is a normative stance that is just as valid as the socialist–equality stance.
Sesardic states, "there is no a priori obstacle for an empirically obtained heritability value having political implications." Given that, racism is fully justified on empirical grounds because to be a universal egalitarian is evolutionarily maladaptive. This is just one of numerous recent books that lends credence to the validity of what Salter calls "universal nationalism." That is, genetically similar ethnic groups promoting their own interests, while practicing non-belligerency towards other ethnic groups—relying on separation to keep the peace when possible. "First of all, group membership is often a part of an individual's identity."
Sesardic notes, "The most disturbing source of racial inequality is invidious discrimination. If members of one racial group are singled out for special treatment and systematically denied opportunities to achieve their potential, this is a social injustice that calls for redress. The moral imperative to abolish this kind of unfairness is exceptionally pressing. And obviously, if discrimination is the whole story, its elimination would lead to equality. But if hereditarianism is true, the moral nature of the situation changes dramatically. Contrary to what Ryan says, the truth of hereditarianism would indeed introduce a 'moral novelty' of great consequence. Namely, were it proved that racial inequalities are due to biology, i.e., that they are not the result of discrimination, the most compelling reason to fight these inequalities would disappear. (Of course, racial inequalities might be partly genetic and partly due to discrimination, in which case eliminating discrimination would decrease these inequalities but could not eliminate them completely.) There might be other reasons, of course, that egalitarians could try to use to continue the fight for complete racial equality, but in taking that line they should be aware of three things: (1) that they are thereby switching to a completely new way of defending their political goal, (2) that their momentous argumentative shift is caused by nothing else but the empirical triumph of hereditarianism (which invalidates the discrimination hypothesis), and (3) that they shouldn't be surprised if others find the egalitarianism with this new moral justification much less convincing or even unacceptable. Surely, a political movement must expect to lose followers if it replaces the electrifying slogan 'Down with racial discrimination!' with a catch-all and hollow phrase like 'Fight for a more humane social order!' (the political goal that Ryan mentions)."
Sesardic then shows how racial profiling is logical based on Bayes' theorem of probability—given A, what is the probability of B. "The point to remember is that when many people say that 'an individual can't be judged by his group mean' (Gould 1977: 247), that 'as individuals we are all unique and population statistics do not apply' (Venter 2000), that 'a person should not be judged as a member of a group but as an individual' (Herrnstein & Murray 1994: 550), these statements sound nice and are likely to be well received but they conflict with the hard fact that a group membership sometimes does matter. If scholars wear their scientific hats when denying or disregarding this fact, I am afraid that rather than convincing the public they will more probably damage the credibility of science."
He continues, "Of course, if we knew everything about a particular individual, then the information about groups to which that individual belongs would fade into irrelevance. An omniscient god would have no use for Bayes' theorem. We mortals, however, often have to deal with people about whom we know relatively little, and in these situations relying on prior probabilities from group data is epistemically reasonable.
"My example with terrorism illustrates neatly the application of Bayes' theorem to social groups, but it is not the best example for a context where heritability might come into play. For this purpose, a better illustration would be groups with different rates of violent crime, where the difference might involve at least a partial genetic explanation. Interestingly, in cases where groups are recognizably different in some genetic respects and where the issue of heritability logically arises, our response is not always consistent. For instance, the biological explanation for the higher incidence of violent crime among men than among women (and the use of these data for probability inferences) encounters little ideological resistance, but the corresponding (and structurally similar) approach in the case of racial groups is considered not just morally unacceptable but epistemically defective as well."
Sesardic concludes with his goal for this book, "In my defense, let me remind you that my goal was not to offer a comprehensive discussion of the nature–nurture problem. I focused just on a small segment of that controversy. As a philosopher of science, I found it interesting to scrutinize very general methodological arguments that are often used to short-circuit the debate in the attempt to undermine one of the rival positions, without going into empirical details at all. And precisely here is the source of the disparity. It is only environmentalists who want to use this kind of methodological shortcut. Hereditarians are quite happy to let the empirical evidence decide the matter. So the imbalance of my approach is the result of an existing asymmetry, not of my partiality….
"'Paradoxically, this is a corner of science where the 'expert' has usually been more wrong than the layman. Ordinary people have always known that education matters, but equally they have always believed in some innate ability. It is the experts who have taken extreme and absurd positions at either end of the spectrum.' (Ridley 2000: 80)
"'Sensible people reject both the hereditarian claim that genes explain everything and the environmentalist claim that they explain nothing—they stand for a reasonable middle ground between these absurdly simplistic extremes.' (Paul 1998: 82)
"The postulated symmetry between 'absurd' positions is a historical myth. The extreme position actually existed only at one end of the spectrum: the environmentalist end. Many experts and ordinary people have believed that human psychological differences are exclusively the result of differences in environmental influences. On the other hand, no scholar has ever claimed that all psychological differences are caused by genetic differences."
This is an excellent book that almost concludes the nature–nurture debate by showing that the radical environmentalists have had to resort to non-scientific means to try and stop the genetic juggernaut. One area Sesardic only briefly covered was the accusation that behavioral genetics is "trivial" because it is not useful for anything. "The research on heritability has already produced many surprising discoveries, raised new issues with possibly far-reaching implications, and stimulated novel ways of thinking even in the areas of psychology that have nothing to do with genetics. For example, Judith Harris's book The Nurture Assumption (Harris 1998)—which challenged the orthodoxy in child psychology and which was called 'a paradigm shifter' and was predicted to be 'a turning point in the history of psychology'—was actually, in the author's own words, her 'attempt to solve a puzzle turned up by behavioral geneticists' (Harris 1996). All these fascinating developments coming out of heritability research are sometimes hidden from view by the tall weeds of methodological pseudo-criticism eagerly cultivated by a number of scientists, philosophers of science, and public intellectuals."
Behavior genetics and related fields can contribute enormously to public policy, health, international relations, etc. Just one example is the war in Iraq. Had the Bush administration understood tribalism, had they understood the real average intelligence of the average Iraqi, etc. we probably would not be in the mess we are now. Our inability to understand that races do differ both culturally and genetically made democratizing Iraq seem far too easy.
Another example is education and its high cost. If it were admitted by the government that there are real genetic differences between races in terms of what can be expected of them, we would not be wasting time and money on programs like No Child Left Behind. Our educational system is in shambles because it is based on radical environmentalism.
But even more seriously is our open border policy, allowing millions of Mexican Amerindians into the United States. With their average low IQ they will eventually be another racial burden on the United States along with the Blacks. The list could go on—understanding how genes work impacts every aspect of our lives—especially our love life which is one of my favorite pursuits.
Matt Nuenke--March, 2007.