SJWs and Alt-right: two sides of the same ignorant coin?

Like many, I’ve been wondering “how did Trump ever get elected” and I’ve considered the factor that “maybe Trump was a pushback against political correctness” conjecture.

And I asked myself “what role might I have played in this”?

Now don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of people who would have supported Trump “no matter what” and it is difficult, if not impossible, to convert a conservative into a liberal. Genes are in play here.

But..does it appear that liberals, in an attempt to be “fair” to minority groups with less power, refuse to acknowledge tough truths? I had very similar questions along those lines 35-40 years ago! (yes, I can recommend the book Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond)

But yes, I’ve seen justice minded liberals deny facts that they don’t like. Here is an excellent example of that (denying crime statistics)

Don’t like a statistic: say it is false and call it XXX-ist!

Another example: take the issue of race and IQ.
Fact: in the US, different racial groups score differently (e. g., Mexicans score lower than non-hispanic whites)
Fact: IQ IS relevant (albeit imperfect) in terms of measuring intelligence (yes, I know; it is a 1 dimensional measure of a complicated thing, but it is meaningful; e. g. someone with an IQ of 95 won’t be an engineer or lawyer (statistically))
Fact: intelligence, or the potential for intelligence, is heritable.

So what happens: the alt-right people improperly combine these facts to argue that, say, in a meritocracy, you’d expect Mexicans to do worse than whites (as a group). You see: as a group, Mexicans just aren’t smart enough to compete and only affirmative action, which gives unfair advantages, can make things look a bit more level.

The SJW liberals don’t like the conclusion that Mexicans are inferior so they deny one or more of the above facts! Reason: they believe that if the above facts are true (and they are), the conclusion that Mexicans are inferior would be correct!

That is, the SJWs and the alt-right agree on the logic; they don’t accept the same facts.

(disclaimer: I am Mexican and, no I don’t feel that we are inferior in any way)

The problem is not with the “facts” but on how you use the facts. To see what is going on, see this article in, of all places, The American Conservative.

TL;DR argument: the potential for intelligence is determined by genes. This is individual. Example: there is nothing anyone could have done to make me as smart as Steven Hawking. But outside forces effect gene expression (say: fetal alcohol syndrome). So if a group of people lives in worse circumstances (say, inferior nutrition, prenatal care, early childhood education), that could well show up in the group IQ measurements and that can change with time (as it did with the East German/West German example).

So, the “group mean IQ being low means that group is inferior” is not a valid conclusion.

But the denying of facts never helps.

We are seeing something like that going on with the reaction to a Steven Pinker video.

The 8 minute video is worth watching: (I got this from Jerry Coyne’s website)

I can see the the effect on bright students. They go through their educations and are either never told relevant facts, or told that these facts are wrong and believing those facts is xxx-ist. They then find out that those facts are, well, facts…and the student feels betrayed and lied to (and rightfully so).

Rule of thumb: do not rule out a hypothesis because it “fees bad”.

And by the way: the above is what I mean about “political correctness”. Political correctness is not “basic politeness”, as some claim.

By the way, read Pinker’s book Blank Slate.


January 14, 2018 Posted by | books, politics/social, social/political | , , , | Leave a comment

“Race”, IQ and immigrants

Note: I put “race” in the quotes; scroll to the end of this post to see why.

I heard of the Heritage Foundation member who is working on their immigration reform ideas; he had written a Ph. D. dissertation (at Harvard University) in which he argued for using an IQ criteria for admitting new immigrants:

Richwine’s doctoral dissertation is titled “IQ and Immigration Policy”; the contents are well summarized in the dissertation abstract:
The statistical construct known as IQ can reliably estimate general mental ability, or intelligence. The average IQ of immigrants in the United States is substantially lower than that of the white native population, and the difference is likely to persist over several generations. The consequences are a lack of socioeconomic assimilation among low-IQ immigrant groups, more underclass behavior, less social trust, and an increase in the proportion of unskilled workers in the American labor market. Selecting high-IQ immigrants would ameliorate these problems in the U.S., while at the same time benefiting smart potential immigrants who lack educational access in their home countries.

Richwine’s dissertation asserts that there are deep-set differentials in intelligence between races. While it’s clear he thinks it is partly due to genetics — “the totality of the evidence suggests a genetic component to group differences in IQ” — he argues the most important thing is that the differences in group IQs are persistent, for whatever reason. He writes, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.
Toward the end of the thesis, Richwine writes that though he believes racial differences in IQ to be real and persistent, one need not agree with that to accept his case for basing immigration on IQ. Rather than excluding what he judges to be low-IQ races, we can just test each individual’s IQ and exclude those with low scores. “I believe there is a strong case for IQ selection,” he writes, “since it is theoretically a win-win for the U.S. and potential immigrants.” He does caution against referring to it as IQ-based selection, saying that using the term “skill-based” would “blunt the negative reaction.”

Emphasis mine. So we have “race and IQ” once again.
I will NOT focus on the politics but rather focus on “the facts” regardless of the political and social implications.

I have NOT read the dissertation and therefore cannot comment on the data or methodology. However it appears that the argument is this:
1. Hispanics, as a subset of people in the United States, currently have a lower IQ than whites (undeniably true)
2. Immigrants from, say, Mexico, have a lower IQ (on the average) than current Americans (true)
3. These immigrants, as part of the pool of Hispanic Americans, would drive the aggregate IQ down (true)
4. IQ is a heritable trait (true)
5. Therefore these immigrants would have low IQ offspring thereby hurting the nation’s aggregate IQ (not convinced here!)

So, what do the facts say?
The current IQ difference between “races” (self identified) are real:

“Race differences show up by 3 years of age, even after matching on maternal education and other variables,” said Rushton. “Therefore they cannot be due to poor education since this has not yet begun to exert an effect. That’s why Jensen and I looked at the genetic hypothesis in detail. We examined 10 categories of evidence.”

The Worldwide Pattern of IQ Scores. East Asians average higher on IQ tests than Whites, both in the U. S. and in Asia, even though IQ tests were developed for use in the Euro-American culture. Around the world, the average IQ for East Asians centers around 106; for Whites, about 100; and for Blacks about 85 in the U.S. and 70 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Race Differences are Most Pronounced on Tests that Best Measure the General Intelligence Factor (g). Black-White differences, for example, are larger on the Backward Digit Span test than on the less g loaded Forward Digit Span test.

The Gene-Environment Architecture of IQ is the Same in all Races, and Race Differences are Most Pronounced on More Heritable Abilities. Studies of Black, White, and East Asian twins, for example, show the heritability of IQ is 50% or higher in all races.

It is true that the brains of the more intelligent have better wiring than those who are less intelligent; there are observations to back this up. However, if there are genes responsible for this (perhaps there are epigenetic effects too?) they haven’t been found.

However the story doesn’t end here for a number of reasons.

1. When it comes to an inheritable characteristic, genes don’t tell the whole story. Consider the height of Japanese people. Clearly, height is an inheritable characteristic and I don’t think that they’ve had that much intermarriage after World War II, but we now see:

For the 1995 survey, the results of medical checkups undergone by children in kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school were used, with statistics on height and weight compiled on the basis of a random sampling of 700,000 children and statistics on obesity compiled on the basis of a random sampling of 1.2 million children. Between fiscal 1948, the first year after the war the survey was resumed, and fiscal 1995, the most remarkable change in height occurred among 14-year-old boys in the eighth grade. Today these boys average 159.6 centimeters (5 feet 2 inches), 19.8 centimeters (7 3/4 inches) more than their counterparts in 1948 and about the same as eleventh and twelfth grade boys that year. They are 7.9 centimeters (3 inches) taller than children in their parents’ generation 30 years ago. Similar increases in height could be seen among the girls too. The biggest change occurred among 12-year-old girls in the sixth grade, who average 146.7 centimeters (4 feet 10 inches) today, or 15.9 centimeters (6 1/4 inches) more than their counterparts in 1948 and 6.3 centimeters (2 1/2 inches) more than those in their parents’ generation 30 years ago.

Genes merely provide a bound; environment can change how the genes are expressed!

2. Our IQ’s HAVE been drifting up, as a whole:

The Flynn effect is the increase in average intelligence test scores by about 0.3% annually, resulting in the average person today scoring 15 points higher in IQ compared to the generation 50 years ago.[36] This effect can be explained by a generally more stimulating environment for all people. The authors suggest that programs aiming to increase IQ would be most likely to produce long-term IQ gains if they taught children how to replicate outside the program the kinds of cognitively demanding experiences that produce IQ gains while they are in the program and motivate them to persist in that replication long after they have left the program.[37][38] Most of the improvements have allowed for better abstract reasoning, spatial relations, and comprehension. Some scientists have suggested that such enhancements are due to better nutrition, better parenting and schooling, as well as exclusion of the least intelligent people from reproduction. However, Flynn and a group of other scientists share the viewpoint that modern life implies solving many abstract problems which leads to a rise in their IQ scores.[36]

3. There ARE environmental factors affecting IQ as well; it is not 100 percent heritable:

A 2011 study by Tucker-Drob and colleagues reported that at age 2 years, genes accounted for approximately 50% of the variation in mental ability for children being raised in high socioeconomic status families, but genes accounted for negligible variation in mental ability for children being raised in low socioeconomic status families. This gene-environment interaction was not apparent at age 10 months, suggesting that the effect emerges over the course of early development.[33]

4. Though IQ isn’t measured here, the data shows that the gap between Hispanics and white kids (on school achievement scores) are greater between kids growing up in “non-English speaking households” than in English speaking households. This study did NOT control for “years lived in the US”:

Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute , a nonpartisan think tank, called the data on Hispanic students meaningless because it puts students from vastly different backgrounds – first generation Latino students entering the U.S. school system in the middle of their education, for example, with third generation children who are highly assimilated. The data released by the Department of Education is not separated by generation or a parent’s country of origin, though it does distinguish between Hispanics who are English language learners and those who are not.

The gap between white students and Hispanics who are not English language learners has declined from 24 points in 1998 to 15 points in 2009 in fourth grade reading. In contrast, the gap between white fourth graders and Hispanic English language learners was 44 points.

(here: “English language learners” means, roughly, that English wasn’t the first language in the home).

We also know that, at least in terms of language, there is virtual total assimilation by 3 generations.

Conclusion Caveat: this isn’t my area and I have not read the dissertation in question. But my questions are these:

1. Will the level of immigration stay the same or will new immigrants become a smaller and smaller proportion of all Hispanics?

2. Why isn’t it possible or even likely that we’ll see an upward drift in IQ among the descendants of these new immigrants, similar to what we’ve seen in the rest of the population as a whole? Heritable does NOT mean “immutable” (height of Japanese is an example).

Commentary on “Race”
I’ve followed the discussions on “race” and if it has any real meaning. Some of the biologists and other life scientists that I’ve interacted with said “sure”: if one were blindfolded and taken to one of three cities without knowing which was which: Stockholm, Peking or Abuja, and then you had the blindfold taken off, you could easily tell where you were taken to.

There are characteristics that cluster, genetically speaking. For example, it makes to sense to test a Swede for the sickle cell.

But on the other hand, especially in the United States, “racial classification” can get tricky. Propensity for sickle cell or the differences in outward appearances really are superficial, in a sense.

I learned this the hard way when I got my DNA tested. I have olive skin and self-identify as “Mexican-American”. My dad was very dark skinned, and my slightly lighter skinned mom grew up speaking Spanish; she didn’t learn English until later. Both were raised in Mexican-American neighborhoods in central Texas.

Hence, when I submitted my cheek-swabs for testing, I fully expected to see Aztec type ancestry. The results:

European haplogroups, both paternal and maternal. In other words, though society identifies me as “Mexican” and I self-identify as “Mexican”, my genes identify me as European! It isn’t that easy, is it?

Update Dr. Andy (in the comments) provided us with an interesting article by Ron Unz from The American Conservative. Unz argues that wealth and other factors can change IQ:

Consider, for example, the results from Germany obtained prior to its 1991 reunification. Lynn and Vanhanen present four separate IQ studies from the former West Germany, all quite sizable, which indicate mean IQs in the range 99–107, with the oldest 1970 sample providing the low end of that range. Meanwhile, a 1967 sample of East German children produced a score of just 90, while two later East German studies in 1978 and 1984 came in at 97–99, much closer to the West German numbers.

These results seem anomalous from the perspective of strong genetic determinism for IQ. To a very good approximation, East Germans and West Germans are genetically indistinguishable, and an IQ gap as wide as 17 points between the two groups seems inexplicable, while the recorded rise in East German scores of 7–9 points in just half a generation seems even more difficult to explain.

The dreary communist regime of East Germany was certainly far poorer than its western counterpart and its population may indeed have been “culturally deprived” in some sense, but East Germans hardly suffered from severe dietary deficiencies during the 1960s or late 1950s when the group of especially low-scoring children were born and raised. The huge apparent testing gap between the wealthy West and the dingy East raises serious questions about the strict genetic interpretation favored by Lynn and Vanhanen.

Next, consider Greece. Lynn and Vanhanen report two IQ sample results, a score of 88 in 1961 and a score of 95 in 1979. Obviously, a national rise of 7 full points in the Flynn-adjusted IQ of Greeks over just 18 years is an absurdity from the genetic perspective, especially since the earlier set represented children and the latter adults, so the two groups might even be the same individuals tested at different times. Both sample sizes are in the hundreds, not statistically insignificant, and while it is impossible to rule out other factors behind such a large discrepancy in a single country, it is interesting to note that Greek affluence had grown very rapidly during that same period, with the real per capita GDP rising by 170 percent.

There is much more in that article; it is long but worth the effort to read.

May 9, 2013 Posted by | education, science, social/political, Uncategorized | , , | 5 Comments