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April 03, 2007

The Barriers Crumble

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

People continue to venture into all kinds of previously off-limits subject matter.

* Steve Sailer thinks that high-school kids interested in college ought to apply to a lot more schools than they're usually told to.

* A common good-liberal assumption is that human evolution stopped dead the moment some humans left Africa. Steve links to a report about a Gregory Cochran-John Hawks paper contending that human evolution has, if anything, speeded up in recent millennia.

* In the Jewish magazine Commentary, the Scots-Irish Charles Murray surveys Jewish accomplishment and Jewish brains. (Link thanks to ALD.) The GNXP gang pile in here.

* Jewcy's Joey Kurtzman tries to lure John Derbyshire into a discussion of Kevin MacDonald's theories about the Jews. Although Derbyshire mostly does a lot of sensible stonewalling, Kurtzman himself kicks over an amazing number of taboos, not the least of which is admitting to having enjoyed reading Kevin MacDonald.

* Lovers of frank and vervey conversation generally should enjoy many of Jewcy's "Dialogues." In one of them, Daphne Merkin confesses that the gay-marriage issue annoys her: "It [strikes me] as a red herring, not to mention as some sort of baiting of the culture at large," she writes:

Also, I think it's troublesome, at the very least, to both mock the very idea of marriage as a delusional and retrograde "straight" institution, as many gays have done, and then happily go and claim its financial/property benefits on behalf of the tiny minority of gay marriages that exist in this country.

* Another Jewcy Merkin crack is at the expense of the literary world, which she describes as existing "in a self-inflated universe all its own, in spite of the fact that no one reads."

* ALD also points out a links-heavy article in the Chronicle of Higher Education making the very forbidden argument that some college-prank videoclips are actually worth your time.

* Doug Anderson wonders why mixed-race couples aren't more visible in the media.

As one of the commenters on Doug's posting writes, "So many chances to be politically incorrect, I scarcely know where to begin." Un-PCness most definitely welcomed in the comments on this posting, but obnoxiousness strongly discouraged. Well, I take that back. Let's make all the obnoxious fun of the literary world that we care to. That's always good sport.



posted by Michael at April 3, 2007


Alright Michael, great job. Hopefully now some people will start to comment.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on April 3, 2007 12:41 PM

Hey Michael thanks for the nice link. Speaking of good liberal assumptions John Kerry is in Seattle this morning and right now on our local NPR feed droning on in Eco-speak about eco-subjects and pushing his new eco-book. A caller called in (curse the radio program engineer who invented call in radio - just the time to talk about important issues - when everyone running the country is at work) to ask why "some people just don't get behind the environment [global warming, et al]." Kerry responded that "I too, am puzzled and must scratch my head" - a too vivid evocation of a finger going deep into gray thatch. But an even better illustration why liberals come off as feele-minded at times. Of course, the radio moderator says nothing, expert as he is at boring the entire Puget Sound with the multitudinous worries that crowd the liberal mind (dying seabirds, evil corporations, etc). I would have replied - to the caller and Kerry - if someone doesn't agree with your position then find out why. Ecology is not theology; it is a new raw science that was considered kooky just 20 years ago. Liberals have got to think more and not just get angry or collapse into uncomprehending head shaking...alas; conservatives can understand liberals but liberals cannot understand conservatives.

Posted by: Doug Anderson on April 3, 2007 1:18 PM


1. Poor John Kerry. He may be evidence that evolution did indeed stop as people have said. I wonder if Heinz makes ketchup in a "green" way?

2. Steve Sailer's comment that "gays don't want marriages, they want weddings" is laugh-out-loud funny. However, certain young women would also qualify.

3. People read. As Jerry Seinfeld says of the "crawl" at the bottom of the news braodcasts---if I wanted to read, I'd buy a comic book. People read, they just don't read much lit-ra-cher.

Posted by: annette on April 3, 2007 2:27 PM

Michael --

Really great set of links! I'd already come across SOME of them, but you are a true marvel of catholic cultural/social in tuneness.

No time at moment for much substantive comment. As well, haven't checked out a bunch of the above yet. Besides, I'm more likely to comment on some types of objections to this type of stuff.

Things DO seem to be changing, don't they? E.g. first the Cochran/Harpendig paper (and the Bruce Lahn paper you don't reference) on recent (last few thousands or even thousand year) SIGNIFICANT different genetic selection in certain ethnic/racial groups (Askenazi Jews) gets accepted for pub in a narrow but highly reputable scientic journal and prepub. online. Then it gets widely discussed at GNXP, and from there picked by by the likes of Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire. Then you see it and refer here and there as you have been. Now Murry gets a piece pulling that paper and lots of things together in an almost mainstream, if still pretty upper brow and limited (but not tiny, and highly influential) general social opinion journal, Commentary. Well, it hasn't gotten a detailed and sympathetic airing on 60 minutes yet, but things ARE opening up.

On many subjects.

Still seems very fragile though. The furious reaction to The Bell Curve, I remember, took about six months to really get rolling. The Commentary article is the first foray into so general a space as the mainstream publication of The Bell Curve. So we'll see.

But as you amply illustrate in your links fest above, really substantial PC refutation is now occurring all over the place.

Posted by: dougjnn on April 3, 2007 3:31 PM

There's nothing particularly controversal about the higher (on average) intelligence of Ashkenazi (European) Jewry than that of the general white population. Jews test out on the Sanford-Benet IQ test (again, on average) at 110 versus the white mean of 100.

What is controversal is Murray's theory of why this is so. I say theory because what Murray posits - restriction on the ways Jews could make a living, which concentrated them in commerce and finance, put a premium on and greatly rewarded mental agility, giving bright Jews a reproductive advantage over dull Jews, which resulted, over a period of almost a millenium, in a brighter (than the surrounding gentile peasantry) population - can not be proved. It would recquire meticulous census data going back hundreds of years to do so. Data, which of course, does not exist.

But even more worrisome, isn't Murray skating dangerously close to the Pavlovian heresy that an evolutionary change in an inherent, and inherited characteristic (intelligence) can be effectuated, over time, by the application of external environmental pressures?

This, to me, is the most problematic aspect of his theory.

Posted by: ricpic on April 3, 2007 9:36 PM

*rick, could it be that you were thinking of Trofim Lysenko, not Ivan Pavlov?

As far as I remember from the school course, Pavlov never claimed the adapted and/or stimulated behavior could be carried on genetically to the next generation; Lysenko did.

Posted by: Tatyana on April 3, 2007 11:41 PM

I've heard estimates of the Askenazi Jews' average IQ ranging from 105 to 113, with bias toward the verbal. Of course, one of the reasons for jewish success is not just hard work and IQ, but also group networking and promotion, which is true of asian sub-groups as well.

The internet is a breath of fresh air on getting the truth out on a lot of subjects, not just PC. You can find chat groups and websites by blacks and other minorities to see exactly what they think of whites, and vice versa. Its amazing how much animosity is out there. The same is true with the real stories on crime, immigration, sex and on and on. Amazing.

Yes, the truth has a way of finding daylight. I just worry about how a change of our national fortunes might set all these suppressed animosities loose.

Posted by: BIOH on April 4, 2007 1:16 AM

Tat - You're absolutely right. My mistake. Lysenko, not Pavlov.

Posted by: ricpic on April 4, 2007 5:21 AM

The Cochran/Harpendig paper apparently hasn't been refereed yet. I'd be very. very cautious about drawing conclusions on the basis of its findings.

Posted by: jult52 on April 5, 2007 2:05 PM

Actually, it's not Lysenko, either, who's most associated with the "heresy" that acquired traits can be inherited. It's Lamarck, and "Lamarckism" is more or less synonymous with that theory. For that reason, evolutionary biologists use the word essentially as a slur. Lysenko did propagate Lamarckist ideas, but they were just one component of his crackpot theories.

Posted by: Joey Kurtzman on April 9, 2007 7:47 AM

Joey Kurtzman: if you are agreeing with evo-biologists re: Lamarck's (or Lysenko) ideas, why did you put heresy in quotes?

On party-directed madness surrounding the "learned genetic improvement" in Soviet agronomy and cattle-breeding industries, read very entertaining book by Fazil Iskander, "The Constellation of Kozlotur" (The Constellation of GoatBull...not sure of the best translation). That is, if it had been translated in English; I haven't been able to find any.
For a sampler of his style, read some stories here.

Posted by: Tatyana on April 9, 2007 2:25 PM


Religions have heresies, science shouldn't. That's why I added the scare quotes. Describing Lamarckism as a heresy is, if anything, an insult to Darwinism, suggesting it's just another smelly orthodoxy.

Posted by: Joey Kurtzman on April 9, 2007 11:12 PM

Confusion cleared, thanks.

Posted by: Tatyana on April 10, 2007 7:12 AM

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