In reaction to Richwine Affair, all right-thinking people are quick to proclaim that they don’t believe in a genetic basis for IQ. They’re much less quick to explain – with any sort of precision – what they actually do believe in. At best, we’re treated to some hand-waving paired with the phrase “social construct.”
Lots of ink has been spilled criticizing the genetic explanation. However, I’m unaware of any examination of the physical properties of the mainstream explanation. Let’s see what it actually looks like.
As best I can tell from reading blog posts by proponents of the mainstream narrative, their theory consists of two beliefs: 1) everyone’s genetic IQ potential is identical at birth; and 2) a social construct operates to oppress certain “races,” which otherwise have no basis in reality.
Let’s flesh out both of these beliefs in detail.
Absolute Human Neurological Uniformity
Andrew Sullivan recently said:
But the idea that natural selection and environmental adaptation stopped among human beings the minute we emerged in the planet 200,000 years ago – and that there are no genetic markers for geographical origin or destination – is bizarre. It would be deeply strange if Homo sapiens were the only species on earth that did not adapt to different climates, diseases, landscapes, and experiences over hundreds of millennia. We see such adaptation happening very quickly in the animal kingdom. Our skin color alone – clearly a genetic adaptation to climate – is, well, right in front of one’s nose.
Moldbug less recently said:
As the authors of this new book put it: given the genetic history of the human species, global equality in any quantitative trait – physical or behavioral – is about as likely as dropping a handful of quarters and having them all land on edge. Of course, as reasonable thinkers, we are prepared to consider improbable propositions. If presented with extraordinary evidence.
Indeed, the mainstream theory is grounded on an incredible belief, especially since most of the people that hold this belief believe generally in evolution.
In sum, it means that they believe evolution works on plants, animals and people, except on peoples’ brain – the inherent intellectual ability of which was held precisely uniform across all sub-populations that may have developed other different characteristics.
It’s unclear how this mystical force works. Have people gotten smarter over time? If so, has everyone alive gotten equally smarter at identical time periods? (I’m presuming that the force operates at the individual level, since races doesn’t exist (see below)).
One must assume this is the case.
This force – the one that keeps inherent initial intellectual ability precisely equal across groups – would appear to be an incredible discovery. Perhaps one of the most important discoveries in the history of mankind. It’s odd that it doesn’t have a name. Did someone get a Nobel Prize for discovering it that I missed?
The Power of the Social Construct
Let’s take two populations: Ashkenazi Jews and Australian Aboriginals. The former consistently show an IQ of somewhere around or north of 105, whereas the latter seem to have an IQ of somewhere south of 70.
Note that that difference is more than two standard deviations!
How has the “social construct” worked to keep the aborigines down while elevating the Ashkenazis?
Several things are immediately clear.
Out right prejudice and racism against a particular groups (i.e. the Ashkenazis) doesn’t necessarily negatively contribute to this “social construct,” as the Ashkenazis have been disproportionately successful in many environments in which they were legally considered second-class citizens.
The “social construct” force must be able to operate across the planet at a subconscious or telepathic level, as the aborigines were underachieving long before they made contact with the outside world. (In fairness, they did invent the didgeridoo, and where would as a species be without that)?
The “social construct” force seems to favor and disfavor the same groups across millennia and without regard for geographical location.
Finally, the “social construct” seems to operate on a racial level, even though races don’t exist.
Again, this force is an incredible discovery and yet I also cannot find a name for it or a description of its physical workings anywhere. Is there a reason why some groups are the chosen people in the eyes of this force? How was it able to operate worldwide prior to contact among peoples? How it is possible to establish social constructs among people that are unaware of each others’ existence? How can it work on a basis that doesn’t exist (i.e. race)?
An examination of these “theories” in any depth quickly reveals them for what they are – religious beliefs, fanatical religious beliefs. After all, they must be taken on faith – there is no other basis on which to take them.
This interpretation is consistent with the consequences of questioning these beliefs.
Oddly, it would appear that this religious belief is more strongly held by The Heritage Foundation, National Review, Cato and Scientific American than Harvard. Or perhaps this is just a case of the Pope being more free to question religion than any of his critics.
Most importantly, seeing this belief for what it is should clarify what is happening. This debate is a re-hash of debates that mankind has grappled with for thousands of years. It happens every time a new technological discovery overturns a key tenet of society’s core religion or philosophy. In this case, genetic and evolutionary discoveries are overturning the blank slate theory (this has tons of implications outside of race and IQ, but it’s here that the religious belief being contradicted is strongest).
Finally, we know how this debate ends. The forces of religion and status quo hold on for longer than anyone looking back can possibly understand, the same forces punish the early discoverers more severely than anyone looking back can possibly understand, and then the same forces lose and history makes fun of them for being so ignorant.