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Canadians, who often view Americans as reactionary bigots, might be surprised to find out how much more pervasive than in the relatively meritocratic Canadian college system is the thumb on the scale known as “affirmative action” in American admissions and faculty hiring. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld, in the name of “diversity,” preferences to close partially the deviations from equal representation that arise when only objective standards are employed.

Yet, 35 years into the era of modern feminism and despite a variety of preferential programs for women, Ivy League colleges still offer tenure in math, science, and engineering mostly to male professors.

Now that the transcript has been released of Harvard U. president Lawrence H. Summers’ endlessly denounced Jan. 14th remarks on “Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce,” we can finally grasp what the brouhaha has been all about.

The former Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary has already apologized at least five times for suggesting two alternatives to the conventional wisdom that the gender gap stems just from discrimination.

Summers proposed that since winning tenure at Harvard requires focusing on the job 80 hours per week, young women who want children often think twice about undertaking such a grueling career.

As a lesser reason, he noted that males tend to vary more than females in many traits, including IQ and mathematical ability, and thus more men than women possess the peculiar mental skills needed to be Harvard scientists.

Finally, Summers explained why, as an economist and a follower of the brain sciences, he doubted the popular view that discrimination in socialization and hiring primarily accounted for the sex disparity.

As is customary in America when a white male authority figure utters a “gaffe” (memorably defined by Michael Kinsley as when a politician tells the truth), Summers immediately pledged to boost Harvard’s hiring of women, thus sacrificing other men’s opportunities.

Not surprisingly, however, by showing weakness, Summers just encouraged the feeding frenzy. The majority of the Harvard faculty (which has most of the power in tenure decisions) remains up in arms against Summers’ sexist allegation that they don’t actually discriminate much against women. Granted, it makes no logical sense for the professors to flex their feminist credentials by denouncing Summers’ chauvinistic claim that they aren’t that biased against women, but academic disputes are seldom academic.

Instead, they are mostly about money and power. It’s commonly joked that faculty politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low, but at Harvard, with its $22.6 billion (U.S.) endowment and pre-eminent position in global intellectual discourse, the struggle is hardly trivial.

So, how deplorable was Summers’ speech? It notoriously sent MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins fleeing like a Victorian maiden faint from hearing the word “legs” instead of “limbs.” She later claimed that she had to escape or, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”

Yet, when read closely, Summers’ off-the-cuff talk turns out to be strikingly lacking in outrageous soundbites. Indeed, the press, in its desperation to find something objectionable, has tried to tut-tut over Summers’ (ironically undeniable) prefatory remark that: “It is after all not the case that the role of women in science is the only example of a group that is significantly underrepresented in an important activity … [For example,] white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association.”

In fact, it’s precisely because the presentation by Summers, one of the world’s leading economists, was lacking in crude misstatements that it was so threatening to feminists. When finally published, it turned out to be humbly argued, open-minded, well-informed, logically rigorous, and, in sum, cumulatively devastating to the feminist orthodoxy from which many of Summers’ female critics have professionally and financially profited.

For example, Hopkins’s showy disgust was hardly disinterested: she had been given an endowed professorship at MIT and a 20 percent raise after heading the committee that investigated — conflicts of interest be damned! — her own complaints of discrimination.

Hopkins and company want to drive Summers out of polite society to prevent his insightful skepticism from undermining their special privileges.

This is not to say that Summers’ sophisticated attempt “to think systematically and clinically about the reasons for underrepresentation” would instantly convince those unfamiliar with the issues. But over the years, the example of the President of Harvard getting away with speaking the subversive truth about gender inequality would embolden others to point out that the feminist empresses have no clothes.

Let me try to outline Summers’ unusual approach to “underrepresentation.” He tends to view people relativistically, employing that most useful of all conceptual tools for thinking about both the similarity and the diversity of human beings: the probability distribution (more roughly known as the bell-shaped curve).

In contrast, most intellectuals today think in absolute, black and white categories, and thus they get irrationally upset by mention of any facts they can denigrate as a “stereotype.” Many seem unable to distinguish between perceptive observations about the average traits of a group and blanket assertions about each and every group member. Thus, even carefully worded summations of the obvious like, “More men than women find mechanical engineering interesting,” are indignantly countered with, “So, you’re saying no woman likes engineering? Huh? Huh?”

As a bell curve aficionado, Summers noted a widely observed tendency: “It does appear that on many, many different human attributes — height, weight, propensity for criminality, overall IQ, mathematical ability, scientific ability — there is relatively clear evidence that whatever the difference in means … there is a difference in the standard deviation and variability of a male and a female population.”

In other words, as any woman could testify, there are more stupid men than women; likewise, at least in math and spatial reasoning, there are more brilliant men than women.

Summers stated, “… if one is talking about physicists at a top twenty-five research university, one is not talking about people who are two standard deviations above the mean. [In a normal bell curve, only one out of 44 individuals is that much above average.] And perhaps it’s not even talking about somebody who is three standard deviations above the mean [or one out of 741]. But it’s talking about people who are three and a half [one out of 4,299], four standard deviations above the mean [one in 31,574] …”

Observing that among the top five percent of twelfth-graders in math and science, it’s common to see two boys for every girl, Summers estimated that the variance in ability is about 20 percent greater among males. He went on, “If you do that calculation — and I have no reason to think that it couldn’t be refined in a hundred ways — you get five to one [males per female], at the high end.”

Actually, Summers was being a bit politically correct with his math. At three standard deviations above average (the equivalent of a 145 IQ), there would be over seven males for every female. At four standard deviations (a stratospheric 160 IQ), there would be more than 30 men for each woman. This also implies, correctly, that there are a lot more retarded men than women, but they don’t come up much for tenure at Harvard.

These proportions are not contradicted by the Nobel Prize statistics. Since 1901, women have made up four percent of the Nobel laureates in Medicine, two percent in Chemistry, and only one percent in Physics. Strikingly, no woman has won a Nobel in Chemistry or Physics since 1964.

Few would consider economics a hard science, but, for whatever it’s worth, the entire female sex has never won a Nobel in the math-intensive Economic Sciences, while Summers’ immediate family has won two: Kenneth Arrow is his mother’s brother, and Paul Samuelson is his father’s brother. (Summers’ dad changed his name for fear of anti-Semitism.) Both of Summers’ parents were economics professors, and Summers was, for a while, the youngest person ever to win tenure at Harvard.

Perhaps hoping that his toddler twin daughters would someday add their own Nobels to the family trove, Summers tried to socialize them away from traditional female roles by giving them trucks instead of dolls, but soon heard them saying, “Look, daddy truck is carrying the baby truck.” That’s just a charming anecdote, but Summers also pointed out the same resilient sex differences were found in “100 different kibbutzes” in Israel despite the fervent multi-generation commitment of the leftist kibbutz movement to raising children in an environment of utter gender equality.

Summers also mentioned the insight of economist Gary Becker, the 1992 Nobel laureate, that competitive markets make meritocracy profitable. Yet, “one sees relatively little evidence,” Summers went on, that any colleges were assembling “remarkable departments of high quality [women] at relatively limited cost simply by the act of their not discriminating,” implying that bias was already mostly a thing of the past.

In short, Summers’ speech represents an admirable model for how our intellectual leaders should discuss complex issues. And for exactly that reason, feminists are trying to crush it.

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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Exactly one year ago, NATO attacked Yugoslavia. It’s worth recalling President Bill Clinton’s explanation of Why We Fought: “[T]he principle we and our allies have been fighting for in the Balkans is the principle of multiethnic, tolerant, inclusive democracy.”

Well … happy anniversary, Kosovo!

Our adventure in “humanitarian warfare” proved a fiasco, as anyone with a firmer grasp of history than Mr. Clinton could have predicted. (He justified our attack by claiming that the Second World War had started in the Balkans. I seem to recall, though, that it began when Germany invaded Poland. It was in the press at the time.) The last 700 years in Kosovo consist of cycles of ethnic oppression, with the Serbs enjoying the whip hand in some eras, the Albanians in others.

Ascendant in the ’80s, the Albanians began to cleanse Kosovo of its Serbian minority. The New York Times reported in 1987, “Ethnic Albanians in the [Kosovo] government have manipulated public funds and regulations to take over land belonging to Serbs … Wells have been poisoned … crops burned. Slavic boys have been knifed, and some young ethnic Albanians have been told by their elders to rape Serbian girls.”

What did Serb voters want? Revenge! Politician-on-the-make Slobodan Milosevic cemented his popularity with the Serbian electorate by reinstating Serb domination of Kosovo.

The subsequent Kosovo Albanian resistance was initially nonviolent, due to a lack of guns. Then, reports The Economist, in 1997 the neighbouring “Albanian state fell apart in the wake of a financial scandal.

“The Albanian army dissolved, the police ran away, and their armouries were thrown open. The Kosovars in Germany and elsewhere raised money to begin buying guns for the guerrillas of the fledgling Kosovo Liberation Army, the KLA.” Over the next two years, about 2,000 people died in the rebellion. By comparison, about 37,000 died during Turkey’s successful crushing of Kurdish independence.

Then, last year, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright convened the Rambouillet conference to demand that Milosevic allow NATO’s armies to invade not only Kosovo, but Serbia itself. Obviously, no national leader could acquiesce. Milosevic refused to sign; NATO initiated war.

NATO’s aggression backfired as Milosevic responded by expelling roughly a million Albanians. Alarmed at the prospect of a million Albanian refugees wandering around Western Europe, plying their traditional trades of pimping, dealing drugs, and fencing stolen cars, the NATO countries worked themselves into a frenzy of moralistic outrage. Western elites demonized Milosevic as the Headline: “The Face of Evil” “The Face of Evil” (according to Newsweek) and declared his ethnic cleansing the worst crime against humanity since the Holocaust. NATO proceeded to bomb Serbia back to the industrial Stone Age.

Eventually, Milosevic gave in and withdrew his forces from Kosovo. A glorious victory for the forces of multiculturalism over ethnic hatred? Proof that with enough virtue, will power and cluster bombs, we can affirmatively answer the famous question posed by Rodney KingRodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” Not exactly. Our Albanian pals in the KLA promptly began ethnically cleansing Serb civilians from Kosovo. While they were at it, they also sent most of Kosovo’s Gypsies fleeing .

The KLA, in turn, is now frustrated by NATO’s insistence that Kosovo remain part of Milosevic’s Yugoslavia. Having shattered the time-honoured principle of the sanctity of internationally recognized borders, President Clinton is struggling to reclose the Pandora’s Box of ethnic nationalism he opened. There is nothing uniquely evil about the Balkans. In this world, there are several thousand ethnic groups with their own nationalist/separatist movements. Most such movements do not represent a majority of their peoples, being comprised of a few underemployed intellectuals hoping someday to become the rulers of a newly independent Lower Slobbovia.

But the ethnic troublemakers know that if they can provoke the government into repressing their entire group, they might convert their kinsmen to separatism (under their leadership, of course). Today, these separatists dream that if they can incite enough atrocities against their people to draw CNN’s attention, NATO might just bomb their government for them.

That is not the message Mr. Clinton wants to send to every cafe conspirator in the world. Thus, his seemingly hallucinatory demand that after all the bombing and shooting, Kosovo must remain part of Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia, with Albanians and Serbs living peacefully intermingled.

Mr. Clinton and his comrade, Tony Blair, blundered in the Balkans because they didn’t understand that the sanctity of national borders contributes to international peace in the same way that a settled distribution of property rights contributes to domestic peace. The secret to the success of the “Anglosphere’s” experiment in self-government since, say, the Magna Carta has been the assurance that property rights, especially in land, will be respected and enforced by the state. If you can’t be sure that your land title is secured and respected by the state, then for your own protection you need to cast your lot with your armed extended family. And since a racial group, like the Serbs or the Albanians, is nothing more than an extremely extended family, insecurity of property is an open invitation to ethnic strife.

It’s no surprise Clinton and Blair didn’t grasp the importance of settled borders — both for real estate and for nations — because they’ve never had to worry about them in Britain or America. Much of what we know about Shakespeare’s life comes from the English equivalent of the county registrar of deeds office. His real estate dealings are on file because there has been no major interruption in the security of property in Britain. So when the Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto visited North America, the leading economists wanted to talk about the money supply, currency devaluations and fiscal deficits; but he kept raising something they had never considered: how do you set up and run a registrar of deeds office?

Even when Cromwell conquered England, he mostly avoided stealing English property. InsOliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper,DrumlanrigCastle, Dumfries-shiretead, he rewarded his followers by giving them property stolen from the Irish. Canadian and American democracy was built on the abundance of secure real estate available to white settlers. (Of course, that land didn’t originally belong to whites, and much of the land in the American South wasn’t worked by them, but Indians and Africans were marginal enough for whites to treat them as the English treated the Irish. Britain, Canada, and the U.S. deal still with problems arising from violating the property rights of the Irish, Indians, and Africans.)

If domestic property rights are not secure, bad things follow. People arm themselves and band together with their extended families/clans/ethnic groups/races for self-defence. They shoot first and ask questions later.

Basically, the same things happen when national property rights are not secure. If you are the dictator of a small country, what lessons do you draw from watching NATO pound the hell out of Yugoslavia? The joys of multiculturalism are probably not the first that come to mind. More likely, your thoughts follow the same trajectory as those of a drug dealer when he realizes that the law does not protect his stock in trade. You must arm yourself heavily enough to deter NATO. Missiles, nukes, chemicals, and germs readily suggest themselves.

And what about that separatist group that wants to split your country in two? Do you let them go as the Czech Republic let Slovakia go a few years ago, when the Gulf War had seemingly ended the era of international aggression so that nations could be as small as they liked without risking conquest? Hell no. National security will require every draftee and tax dollar you can drag in at gunpoint.

After the glorious events of 1991 in Kuwait and Moscow, the world appeared to be entering a pax Americana even more promising than the pax Britannica that helped make the 19th century such an age of human betterment. A world dominated by a single superpower with no territorial ambitions and committed to protecting lawful property. Yet now, less than a decade after the liberation of Kuwait, the West has grown so arrogant that we’ve squandered away the sanctity of national borders, the most valuable lesson learned from centuries of war.

Still, should the world sit idly by while civil wars cause humanitarian nightmares within sovereign states? Not necessarily. There are certain countries so dysfunctional that they cry out for internationally supervised revision. Yugoslavia might have been one, and Sudan is one. What can the West do? The answer, shockingly enough, is to sponsor ethnic cleansing.

In certain regions, ethnic strife is so endemic that the last resort of wise statesmen must be some form of partition followed by population transfers. The Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 ended hundreds of years of war between Turkey and Greece by uprooting Greeks from Turkey and Turks from Greece. Similarly, the fractious island of Cyprus has been at peace for quarter of a century due to its division into Turkish and Greek zones.

Even the Bosnians have stopped killing each other now that Serbs, Croats, and Muslims each have their own sectors. While heterogeneous Northern Ireland is notorious for sectarian strife, the exit of Protestants has left the Republic free of troubles.

Madeleine Albright’s Czechoslovakia expelled millions of Sudeten Germans at the end of the Second World War, permanently ending that source of friction. Overall, we victors in the war agreed to the deportation of at least 12 million Germans from Eastern Europe. According to “A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing” in a 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, “About 2.1 million of these died from a combination of war, hunger, cold and disease.”

The question, however, is how to conduct ethnic cleansing humanely. This is necessary for practical reasons as well as moral ones. Ethnic cleansings that leave the displaced feeling robbed and humiliated are likely to lead to future violence — e.g., the Palestinians. If property rights have to be violated, compensation should be paid.

Consider the mechanics of one of the most successful of peace treaties, the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. One stumbling block to redrawing the borders was the 7,000 Jewish settlers in the Sinai, which was to be handed over to the Egyptians. They would not live under Egyptian rule, nor would they abandon their homes. So, they were bought out. Instead of destabilizing the peace process, the settlers left quietly. The Sinai compensation was generous — about one million of today’s Canadian dollars per family of four. But the citizens of most strife-torn countries live in less expensive homes than Israelis, making compensated population transfers a cheap alternative to war.

The simplest way to prevent the 1.8 million Kosovar Albanians from being repressed by the Serbs, for instance, would be to give them independence. But the 200,000 Serbs who lived in Kosovo would have had to be taken care of so that the Albanians didn’t oppress them. A big chunk of Northern Kosovo, home of most Kosovar Serbs and Serbia’s sacred battlefields, could have been permanently ceded to Serbia. That might have left, say, 100,000 Serbs living in Albanian Kosovo and 100,000 Albanians living in Serbian Northern Kosovo.

These Serbs and Albanians could then have exchanged homes — NATO chipping in $50,000 per family of four to grease the skids. Then NATO could have paid $2.5 billion to Serbia as compensation for its lost territory. A grand total of $5 billion — a pittance set against the costs of war.

Further, NATO could have gained a huge degree of leverage in the region by making the compensation payable over a ten-year period, dependent upon good behavior. If Kosovo Albanians violate their contract by, say, trying to destabilize neighbouring Macedonia, the uprooted Albanians families get cut off. The same goes for Serbs. I have no idea if Milosevic would have accepted such a deal. But it would have been a more honourable offer than Albright’s at Rambouillet. And if Milosevic had rejected it, could he have stayed in power?

These kind of cold-blooded calculations may seem unappealing to all those in the media who whipped themselves into a moralistic frenzy over the crimes of the Serbs. They may feel that Yugoslavia deserves to have its territory stripped away without compensation, and that all those vile Serbs should lose their homes. According to God’s scale of justice, they may (or may not) be right. But it’s unlikely that the Serbs will view it that way. And those innocent Kosovar Serbs who fled the KLA’s lynch mobs are not likely to forgive and forget. People in the Balkans are used to waiting for that sweet moment when they can cry, “Vengeance is mine!”

The peoples of the Holy Land forget little too. Yet because Camp David involved compensation, no embittered Israeli lobby of former Sinai settlers strives to stir up war with Egypt so they can reclaim their homes.

Do these expellees — in the Sinai, the Golan Heights, Kosovo — truly deserve compensation? Was the land they occupied really theirs? Do they have a moral claim that justifies their compensation? Beats me. In fact, I don’t care. All I know is “All property is theft” and “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” For almost every parcel of real estate this side of Pitcairn Island, somebody stole it from somebody at some time. But so what?

What I do know is this: whoever is squatting on a piece of land now is going to make all sorts of trouble if the international Great and Good try to give it to somebody else without paying him for it. Maybe pragmatic payoffs are less fun than moralistic crusades demanding zero tolerance for the intolerant. But far fewer human beings will die.

Steve Sailer (www.iSteve.com) is president of the Human Biodiversity Institute.

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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As we all know from watching old science fiction movies, humans will evolve into hyper-intelligent, 97 pound weaklings. Our descendents will mutate into androgynous pencil-necked geeks barely able to hold up their basketball-sized brains. And as Steven Spielberg demonstrated in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., highly evolved species are also altruistic pacifists. Of course, the same sort of movies forecasted that in the year 2000 we’d all helicopter to work in our one-man autogyros. So, we know the future ain’t what it used to be, but what will it be?

One thing that’s certain is that we will evolve, and at a much faster clip than the not-insignificant rate of genetic change we are currently experiencing. “You can’t change human nature” has been one of the wisest of adages, but its days are numbered. The genetic, pharmaceutical, and computer revolutions are about to radically accelerate the changing of human nature. Indeed, by Y3K, humanity may have begun to break apart into separate species as interstellar colonists use genetic engineering to adapt to extraterrestrial climates.

But before we can think about the future of human nature, we have to understand what “human nature” is. Logically, it’s the opposite of “human nurture.” At one extreme of the nurture-nature continuum is culture, at the other extreme are genes. But there’s also a large gray area in the middle.

For example, the steroids that transformed Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson from skinny, shy, and slow to burly, surly, and fast were cultural inventions to mimic the effects of the gene variants Ben wished he’d been born with. Plastic surgery, Prozac, and alcohol are other ways we manipulate our bodies, brains, and behavior. We will invent many more. For instance, computer-brain interfaces, like the one that recently enabled the blind patient known as “Jerry” to see large letters, will ultimately be perfected, someday giving our brains remarkable memory and computational powers. In this essay, however, I’ll focus on just that most natural example of human nature: our genes.

Unfortunately, most thinking about human nature has been confused and politicized by the widespread assumption that — despite ample evidence to the contrary — “natural” always equals “good.” Thus, opinion-mongers love to proclaim that whatever they’re peddling is natural, and whatever they deplore is artificial.

The value most approved of by 20th Century intellectuals was “equality,” so most recent thinking about human nature has been deformed by attempts to prove that the manifold diversity that is such a blatant aspect of human nature is somehow not natural. Thus, “progressives” denied the very existence of human nature, attributing all inequality to baneful social conditioning. Margaret Mead, the celebrity anthropologist, summed up the fashionable dogma: “Human nature is almost unbelievably malleable.” If nurture overwhelms nature, then everybody could be prodded into equality. Indeed, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot tried to do exactly that. Although they murdered scores of millions, their egalitarian police states ultimately failed because ornery old human nature endured.

Even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, Harvard evolutionist Edward O. Wilson brought the on-going “rediscovery of human nature” to general attention with his 1975 book Soiobiology. Of course, much of the wisdom that evolutionary thinkers laboriously rediscover had never been lost by non-intellectuals, such as your grandmother, who made these truths about humanity the basis of her nagging. So far in 2000, for example, evolutionists have won worldwide headlines with the following stop-the-presses findings: 1. Women like taller men. (“So stop slouching like a slob, young man!”) 2. Rapists are often motivated by sexual desire. (“So stop dressing like a slut, young lady!”).

However, the inevitable conservatism of sociobiology made it so many enemies on leftist-dominated campuses that anthropologists John Tooby and Leda Cosmides found it expedient to relaunch sociobiology under the new, improved brand name of “evolutionary psychology.” In a brilliant marketing ploy, they spin-doctored evolutionary explanations into academic acceptability by pronouncing themselves the truest True Believers in equality. They portrayed human nature as almost monolithically uniform, and proclaimed that science should only study human similarities.

Yet, except for identical twins, no two humans’ genetic codes are the same. So, exactly whose genes were they going to study? Stumped, the evolutionary psychologists responded with name-calling: Interest in human differences was deemed evil, or tedious, or insensitive, or just not done. This conservative egalitarian party line soon had many smart people parroting silly ideas. For example, one evolutionary psychology bestseller concluded “… differences between individuals are so boring!” Since most highly-educated people are infected with the Platonic virus that makes them prefer to think in terms of nonexistent abstract certainties rather than reality’s fuzzy probabilities, few challenged the new orthodoxy of a homogenous human nature. The evolutionary psychologists themselves, however, soon found that while egalitarianism was a useful cover story, it was a largely useless methodology for learning about humanity. Ironically, but not surprisingly, evolutionary psychology has become primarily the study of sex differences. Why? Because knowledge consists of contrasts. For example, yesterday the National Post reported the controversial finding of a so-called “suicide gene.” Its existence was inferred by contrasting the genetic codes of the suicidal to the non-suicidal.

Information can be boiled down to that most basic of contrasts, the ones and zeroes of digital data, but it can’t be boiled down further to all ones. So, if we want to learn much about human nature, we’re going to need to compare different kinds of humans: male and female, sick and healthy, young and old, smart and stupid, gay and straight, tall and short, black and white, and so forth. They all deserve respect as manifestations of human nature’s rich diversity.

Grasping this realistic perspective on the varieties of human nature, we can now think about our onrushing ability to manipulate our natures without succumbing to the vapours. For we already have been diversifying our own genetic code. For instance, adults were uniformly “lactose intolerant” until cattle were domesticated within just the last 10,000 years. Fortunately, Darwinian selection can work so fast that in ethnic groups with a milking tradition (e.g., Danes or Dinkas from the Upper Nile), most adults now possess a gene allowing them to digest milk comfortably. In other words, just as our genes influence culture, culture rearranges our genes.

So, how will humanity choose to re-engineer its genes? Will we follow the sci-fi movies and equip our children with huge heads, spindly bodies, and politically correct personalities?

The crucial question is: “Who is this “we” who gets to choose — the parents or the state?” Individual parents could only finesse their offspring within the genetic limits imposed by what Charles Darwin called “sexual selection.” For what parents want most from their children is grandchildren. Parents will thus design their children to outcompete same-sex peers in attracting the most desirable spouses, in order to produce the most desirable grandkids. So, most parents will be satisfied with only moderately higher IQ’s. Why? Although much larger brains would probably be required for gigantic increases in intelligence (as shown by our brains being three times the size of our ape ancestors’ brains), having a head the size of E.T.’s just isn’t sexy. Nor will a gentle personality, like that of children’s TV host Mr. Rogers, make your boy a babe magnet. Thus parents will balance the lip service they pay to having wiser and kinder spawn against their need for more sexually desirable descendants, just as feminists denounce sexual harassment and rape but can’t get enough of that sexual harasser and accused rapist Bill Clinton.

In contrast, a government can attempt to impose its favorite ideology. It could try to ban genetic enhancements. But that is unlikely to work, since the payoff to individuals from having the kind of body and personality that the opposite sex lusts after is so great. Recall the 1992 health panic that lead to the U.S. government banning silicon breast implants. Yet, from 1990 to 1999, the annual number of breast augmentations still sextupled from 41,000 to 255,000.

No, to prevent parents from buying black market gene enhancements to make their progeny more alluring, a government would have to excise the incentives by mutating the masses via mandatory eugenics. A hardnosed regime that wanted to conquer the world by quadrupling its subjects’ average IQ would have to genetically reengineer its young people to find themselves strangely attracted to paramours with bloated brains as massive as the Elephant Man’s. Similarly, a feminist government out to free women from the “beauty myth” would need to delete the male genes that make men appreciate shapely breasts. A pacifist state would have to redesign women so they stopped getting aroused by dangerous men. An egalitarian regime would have to tweak women so that they viewed unemployable losers as Mr. Right. In short, something close to totalitarianism would be necessary.

Otherwise, free-market eugenics will brings us a human race that’s the utter opposite of the sexless, altruistic eggheads of the sci-fi movies. Note how many affluent California families are holding their little boys back for a second year of kindergarten. This is so their sons will be bigger, stronger, smarter, more athletic, and more socially dominant than the other kids in their classes. How much do you think these couples would pay for the genetic enhancements that would allow their scions to continue to rule as alpha males as adults? In Beyond This Horizon, the great Robert A. Heinlein’s prescient 1942 novel about a genetically engineered future, the world is populated by highly intelligent but extremely sexy people straight out of a Hollywood casting call. The men are manly and the ladies lovely. The men are so macho in fact, that no gentleman would be seen without his gun, and duels are fought daily.

Obsessed by equality, bioethicists and other intellectuals today fret most that the new genetic technologies will let rich parents buy their kids higher IQs. Yet, considering the coming tidal wave of testosterone that the same techniques are likely to unleash, I suspect we’re going to need all the smarts we can get to keep the bellicose boys of the future from blowing up the world just to hear the bang.

Steve Sailer (www.iSteve.com) is the president of the Human Biodiversity Institute.

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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Is there a more prestigious job title than “philosopher”? Yet, in what other profession has more brainpower made less progress? In his last book, Nobel Laureate physicist Steven Weinberg pointedly titled two chapters “The Unexpected Usefulness of Mathematics” and “The Unexpected Uselessness of Philosophy.” Even the most esoteric math has helped him describe the cosmos. But the only value Weinberg ever found in reading philosophers was when they refuted other philosophers who had clouded his mind. While engineers or farmers or bartenders have all learned a trick or two over the years, philosophers mostly either rehash the same old mistakes or dream up new ones that are even more ridiculous.

To this day, most philosophers suffer from Plato’s disease: the assumption that reality fundamentally consists of abstract essences best described by words or geometry. (In truth, reality is largely a probabilistic affair best described by statistics.) Today’s postmodern philosophers deny the very existence of science, nature and truth, largely because their favourite verbal abstraction of “equality” is undermined by the brute statistical reality of human biological differences. The philosopher Richard Rorty recently informed us in Atlantic Monthly that ” ‘The homosexual,’ ‘the Negro,’ and ‘the female’ are best seen not as inevitable classifications of human beings but rather as inventions that have done more harm than good.” Therefore, according to Rorty, many deconstructionists “go on to suggest that quarks and genes probably are [inventions] too.” You have to be as eminent a philosopher as Rorty to believe that the category of “the female” is a mere social convention. Deconstructionism is the result of philosophers being shocked to learn that reality is not Platonic (e.g., races are no more sharply defined than are extended families) and thus deciding to give up believing in reality rather than in Platonism.

Fortunately, one school of philosophy has actually taught us some valuable lessons over the centuries: the anti-abstract British tradition of Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon and David Hume, with its emphasis on realism, common sense and the scientific method. One of the last of this great line was the blunt-spoken Australian David Stove. Roger Kimball has collected the late philosopher’s often hilarious and always politically impious essays in a new anthology titled Against the Idols of the Age.

Stove simply shreds his fellow philosophers. He turns his flamethrower on those “absolutely effortless pseudo-discoveries that philosophers make, and on which their fame rests.” For instance, “Plato’s discovery of ‘universals’ went as follows: ‘It is possible for something to be a certain way and for something else to be the same way. So, there are universals!’ (Tumultuous applause, which lasts 2,400 years.)”

The British empirical school, however, tends to lose its finest pupils to more practical trades, just as the few performance artists who can connect with the outside world, like Andy Kaufman or David Byrne, shun the narrow playpen of performance art in order to expand the boundaries of comedy or rock. Similarly, Hume’s friend Adam Smith left moral philosophy to become the first great economist. Political philosopher James Madison got roped into writing the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and being president. Stove, though, stuck it out in the philosophy racket, and even he was susceptible to his field’s failings, as becomes clear when he turns from purely philosophical issues to ones of sociology and science.

For instance, he begins one chapter, “I believe that the intellectual capacity of women is on the whole inferior to that of men.” This is brave, but is it true? Fortunately, IQ researchers have amassed much statistical evidence on this question since 1912, when Cyril Burt first noticed that males and females had the same average test scores. Unfortunately, Stove uses none of it. While his reasoning is impressive, it is also in the Grand Tradition of Western Philosophy: namely, almost 100% fact-free. (Elsewhere, Stove readily admits that philosophers “have no more knowledge of any matter that could serve as the premises of their reasonings than the next man has.”) But even worse than ignoring statistical data, philosophers seldom understand statistical logic. In this case, for example, while the IQs of men and women are equal on average, men’s IQ’s are more variable. Thus, as any woman could testify, there are more really stupid men. But, there are also far more male geniuses.

Stove flagrantly exhibits philosophers’ worst trait — emphasizing verbal abstractions over statistical tendencies — when he ill-advisedly attacks the grandest offshoot of his own school of British empiricism, Darwinism, which he calls a “mere festering mass of errors.”

For example, Richard Dawkins’ famous 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, describes how the genes that proliferate the most are those that most successfully induce their host organisms (e.g., us) to make copies of them (e.g., by making babies). Stove gives endless reasons why genes should not be called “selfish.” Some of his arguments are sensible. (Although some are remarkably obtuse, such as when he scoffs that if Dawkins were right, somebody could make a fortune replicating images of Elvis Presley. Apparently, Stove never visited Graceland’s gift shop).

But, ultimately, so what? That our language lacks the perfect adjective to describe this tendency — “selfish” really isn’t all that bad, but “dynastic” might be better, and in the future “Dawkinsian” might prove best — is a shortcoming of English, not of neo-Darwinism.

Similarly, Stove’s attacks on Charles Darwin consist of isolating the most overstated phrases in Darwin’s work, then proving them “false” by citing exceptions. This is pointless because exceptions can disprove only abstract laws, not statistical tendencies — something Stove himself points out when criticizing Popper’s theory of falsifiability as the basis of science. (It is, he argues, a species of perfectionism.) For example, Stove claims that Darwin “first went wrong about man” when he became impressed by economist Thomas Malthus’ notion that humans always strive to maximize their numbers. But, to cite one of Stove’s many examples, doesn’t “fondness for alcohol” interfere?

Now, it’s an open empirical question whether drink diminishes the quantity of mating. When I was a bachelor, bartenders repeatedly assured me of the contrary. Still, at least in my case, their advice seldom panned out, so let’s assume for the moment that Stove is right. What we see, then, is another triumph of Darwinism as an explanatory tool. Mediterranean peoples such as Jews and Italians, who have been drinking wine for 10,000 years, have evolved impressive genetic and cultural defences against becoming alcoholics. In contrast, Northern Europeans, who first obtained alcohol only a few millennia ago, haven’t fully adapted genetically to alcohol yet, and thus must often turn to cruder cultural responses like teetotalling, prohibition and the Betty Ford Clinic. Finally, those racial groups unfortunate enough not to taste alcohol and other sugar-based products until the last few centuries, such as the First Nations peoples of Canada and the Australian Aborigines, are currently being devastated by alcoholism, tooth decay and diabetes.

Philosophers of the world, get real! You have nothing to lose but your irrelevance.

Steve Sailer (www.iSteve.com) is the president of the Human Biodiversity Institute.

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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The imminent birth of Canada’s first “designer baby,” a child whose embryo was screened before implantation in its mother to make sure it didn’t suffer from the genetic disease cystic fibrosis (National Post, 11/29/99), reminds us that the evolution of the human race is about to accelerate almost unimaginably. Thus, we can no longer afford the comforting illusion that evolution doesn’t really apply to humanity.

Charles Darwin is a secular saint to much of the well-bred, well-read public. While they may not know the details of Darwinism, they do know that if rightwing fundamentalists are against Darwin, then they’re for him. And on the principle that your enemy’s enemy must be your friend, nice people with nice liberal arts degrees assume that Darwin scientifically disproved all those not-nice ideas like sexism and racism. Not that they’ve personally read Darwin, but Harvard’s Stephen Jay Gould (author of “The Mismeasure of Man”) has assured them that that’s what Darwin meant. Or, to be precise, that’s what Darwin would have meant if only he’d been as enlightened as Stephen Jay Gould.

Having reviewed Darwin’s enemies on the right, (see “A Miracle Happens Here” in the National Post‘s Commentary section of 11/20/99), let me now consider his enemies (and false friends) on the left. Ironically, while the religious right engages in futile attacks on Darwin’s theory of what animals evolved from, the left and center clamps down upon Darwin’s theory of what humans evolved to.

These intellectual disputes produce real victims. Stalin even shipped the Soviet Union’s Darwinian geneticists to the Gulag. And though Western scientists typically enjoy more rights than that, our traditions of free speech, academic freedom, and scientific inquiry didn’t stop the former Attorney-General of Ontario, Ian Scott, from ordering a lengthy police investigation of the U. of Western Ontario psychologist Jean-Philippe Rushton. His supposed crime? Publishing a Darwinian theory of the causes of human biodiversity. And others, such as biologist Edward O. Wilson and psychologist Arthur Jensen, have been the victims of assault, threat, firing, censorship, character assassination, and non-stop harassment.

Why is unfettered Darwinism so subversive of the reigning political pieties?

There is a paradox bedeviling Darwinism today that begins with its needless war with religion. The equal worth of all human souls has been one of the most popular, influential, and beneficial of all Christian beliefs. It inspired many of the great humanitarian achievements in Western history, such as the abolition of the slave trade. Science can neither prove nor disprove spiritual equality — a defect in a scientific theory, but a blessing in a religious doctrine. By contrast, the literal interpretation of Genesis that the world was created in 4004 BC was eminently refutable, as Darwin demonstrated.

Although the Darwinian demolition of Old Testament fundamentalism was logically irrelevant to the question of whether all souls are of equal value to God, it made the whole of Christianity seem outdated. Thereafter the prestige of evolutionary biology encouraged egalitarians to discard that corny creed of spiritual equality – and to adopt the shiny new scientific hypotheses that humans are physically and mentally uniform. And that eventually put Darwinian science on a collision course with progressive egalitarians.

For Darwinism requires hereditary inequalities.

The left fears Darwinian science because its dogma of our factual equality cannot survive the relentlessly accumulating evidence of our genetic variability. Gould, a famous sports nut, cannot turn on his TV without being confronted by lean East Africans outdistancing the world’s runners, massive Samoans flattening quarterbacks, lithe Chinese diving and tumbling for gold medals, or muscular athletes of West African descent out-sprinting, out-jumping, and out-hitting all comers. No wonder Gould is reduced to insisting we chant: “Say it five times before breakfast tomorrow: … Human equality is a contingent fact of history” — like Dorothy trying to get home from Oz.

Darwin did not dream up the Theory of Evolution. Many earlier thinkers, like his grandfather Erasmus Darwin and the great French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck, had proposed various schemes of gradual changes in organisms. Darwin’s great contribution was the precise engine of evolution: selection. Lamarck, for example, had believed that giraffes possess long necks because their ancestors had stretched their necks to reach higher leaves. This stretching somehow caused their offspring to be born with longer necks. Darwin, however, argued that the proto-giraffes who happened to be born with longer necks could eat more and thus left behind more of their longer-necked children than the proto-giraffes unlucky enough to be born with shorter necks.

And what selection selects are genetic differences. In “The Descent of Man,” Darwin wrote, “Variability is the necessary basis for the action of selection.”

Consider the full title of Darwin’s epochal book: “The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” It is hard to imagine two words that could get a scholar in worse trouble today than “Favoured Races.” But that term is not some deplorable Dead White European Maleism that we can scrape away to get down to its multiculturally sensitive core. Not at all: “Favoured Races” is Darwin’s Big Idea. For if we didn’t differ genetically, selection could not act upon us. We would still be amoebas.

There is much chatter lately that because we can never all agree on the exact number, names, and members of the various races, therefore “Race does not exist; it’s just a social construct.” Darwin knew better. Although races are indeed fuzzy, extended families are even fuzzier, yet no one denies their reality. In fact, a race is not just like an extended family, it isan extended family. A race is simply an extremely extended family that inbreeds to some degree. In turn, a species is a race that inbreeds virtually exclusively, typically due to reproductive incompatibilities with outsiders.

The human race is definitely one species — the most widespread single species of all the large mammals on Earth. Yet, we are also almost endlessly subdividable into partially inbred races, each with recognizable genetic tendencies. (That’s why forensic anthropologists can rather accurately deduce race from DNA left at crime scenes). According to Berkeley anthropologist Vincent Sarich, no mammal exceeds our species in physical variation, except for dogs and a few other artificially selected animals.

Another paradox: the unity and diversity of the human race are not contradictory ideas. In fact, considering the vast range of geographic and social environments found across the face of the Earth, the only way we could flourish in so many places yet retain our unity is to adapt endlessly. To stay one species, we have to be many races.

Note well, however, that Darwin wrote “Favoured Races,” not “Favoured Race.” Darwinism is no brief for some purported Master Race. It proposes not that one race is superior in all things, but that all races are superior in several things. That is how it accounts for the glorious diversity of life.

Here again Darwin clashes with the left. While “diversity” and “equality” are both considered Good Things by multiculturalists, that does not make them synonyms. They are antonyms. The more environments we have been selected to adapt to, the more trade-offs selection has had to make. Thus, the more diversity, the more meaningless it is to boast that your group is supreme overall. But the more implausible it also is to expect all groups to be identically favoured in each particular setting or skill — whether it is engineering, charisma, running the 100 metres, or stand-up comedy.

For example, over the 6,000 or so years that New World Indians have lived 12,000 feet up in the Andes, individuals with genetic variations useful in that harsh environment — e.g., larger lungs — have left more descendents than their less gifted neighbors. These barrel-chested Bolivians, however, are no longer favored when they descend to the Amazon, where the local people have evolved a slighter form better suited for a hot and humid rain forest.

So what did Darwin say specifically about human biodiversity? In “The Descent of Man,” he wrote, “… the various races, when carefully compared and measured, differ much from each other — as in the texture of hair, the relative proportions of all parts of the body, the capacity of the lungs, the form and capacity of the skull, and even the convolutions of the brain. But it would be an endless task to specify the numerous points of difference. The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatization and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotions, but partly in their intellectual faculties. Everyone who has had the opportunity of comparison must have been struck by the contrast between the taciturn, even morose aborigines of South America and the light-hearted, talkative negroes.”

Darwin wouldn’t be surprised to learn which race had invented rap music.

The true nature of Darwinism is not merely an academic question. For we are moving, with alarming rapidity, from the Age of Darwin the Scientist to the Age of Galton the Inventor. Sir Francis Galton was Darwin’s even more ingenious half-cousin. (Their common grandparent was, not surprisingly, the brilliant Erasmus Darwin.) While Darwin was the hedgehog with one great idea, selection, Galton was the fox with innumerable notions large and small. Galton has as much claim as anybody to being the father of statistics, the dog whistle, fingerprinting, the systematic study of human variation, and the best way to cut a cake so it won’t go stale. Darwin, however, inspired Galton to devise one enormous idea glittering with promise and ominous with danger: eugenics. That’s the attempt to create a better human race by augmenting the slow and uncertain processes of natural and sexual selection with artificial selection.

Humans have always lusted for favoured genes for their future children. (Trust me on this one, because I know — I was turned down for a lot of dates.) Today, however, researchers are learning how to turbocharge evolution in laboratories all over the world.

In the first half of the 20th century, eugenics in action largely meant governments sterilizing or murdering people they didn’t like. (Lenin, Stalin, and Mao slaughtered even more tens of millions in the name of equality than Hitler murdered in the name of inequality. And, as Aleksandr Solzenhistyn has pointed out, the doctrine of “class origins” transformed “egalitarian” mass murder into ethnic genocide since there is no sharp line between family and race.)

Today, however, eugenics consists of couples voluntarily choosing to create life on their own terms. Orthodox Jews have largely freed themselves from the scourge of Tay Sachs disease through genetic testing. Lesbians comparison-shop the Internet for just the right sperm donor. Couples at risk for passing on hereditary diseases to their children are choosing to implant in the mother’s womb only a genetically-screened embryo. High-IQ Ivy League coeds are selling their eggs to infertile women for $5,000 apiece. Dr. Joe Tsien made the cover of Time magazine by genetically engineering mice with better memories. These breakthroughs are only the beginning. Galton’s Age will see far more.

While today’s free-market eugenics is infinitely less sinister on a day-to-day basis than yesterday’s totalitarian eugenics, its ultimate impact could be far greater. The very nature of the human race is up for grabs. Should we therefore ban voluntary eugenics? Regulate it? Ignore it? Subsidize it? To decide, we need to understand the social impact of the various possible changes in our gene frequencies. Fortunately, we have a huge storehouse of data available to base predictions upon: the vast amounts of existing genetic diversity. Unfortunately, we now discourage scholars from examining it.

For example, during the media firestorm following Dr. Tsien’s genetic engineering breakthrough, many worried that rich people could someday pay to have their kids’ IQ’s enhanced. Would having more smart people around help or hurt society as a whole? (I suspect it helps, but then I’m prejudiced: In 1997 some high-IQ cancer doctors saved me from a painful death.) There are lots of ways to study this, but none of them are politically correct. For example, we can investigate whether high-IQ immigrants hurt or help society compared to average-IQ immigrants. Canada discriminates more in favor of intelligent immigrants than the United States. Which country has benefited more?

Yet an awareness of ethnic differences in IQ suggests that the rest of us may have less reason to fear the artificially bright children of the future than they will have reason to fear us. After all, high IQ minorities have frequently had to endure murderous pogroms. Besides the Jews in 1933-1945, there were the Armenians in 1915, educated Cambodians in the 1970s (on ‘egalitarian’ rather than ‘ethnic’ grounds) and the Overseas Chinese as recently as 1998.

Progressives and Third Way centrists are likely to initially insist on outlawing human genetic engineering. Already, professional activists for the disabled worry that genetic engineering will put them out of business by reducing the number of disabled peoples. Feminists and gay male leaders will also soon grow concerned that allowing parents to select embryos will leave them with fewer followers. This is because free market Galtonism will increase the gap between the sexes. Parents will select for square-jawed, ambitious, high testosterone, first-born sons, and lovely, nurturing, high-oestrogen, latter-born daughters. Why? What parents want most from their children are grandchildren, and high-achieving sons, such as business executives, produce far more grandchildren on average than high-achieving daughters. Further, parents will want loving daughters to take care of them in their old age.

Thus, boys will become more masculine and girls more feminine. This will probably reduce the number of homosexuals. Although you are not supposed to say this, scientific studies have confirmed the obvious observation that gay men are more effeminate on average than straight men, just as lesbians tend to be more butch than straight women. And since the major feminist groups, like the National Organization for Women, are to a large extent fronts for lesbians, libertarian eugenics fundamentally threatens institutionalized feminism.

A ban, however, would drive genetics labs and fertility clinics to Caribbean freeports. Still, as shown by President Clinton’s recent heroic victory over that Sudanese aspirin factory, with enough cruise missiles NATO could likely Tomahawk the Cayman Islands into submission. China, however, would be harder to bully. Unencumbered by post-Christian ethics, the Chinese government recently passed a pre-1945-style eugenics law calling for the sterilization of “morons.” If China pursues genetic enhancements while the West bans them, the inevitable result within a few generations would be Chinese economic, and thus military, global hegemony. Thus, those serious about preventing genetic engineering should start planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike on China.

However, the left is likely at some point to flip from opposing voluntary Galtonism to demanding mandatory re-engineering of human nature. Feminists, for example, will decide that instead of parents designing their daughters to appeal to men, the government should redesign men to better appreciate women like themselves. This logic will also revitalize collectivism. Socialism failed, in part, because it conflicts with essential human nature. So, why not change human nature to make Marxism possible? And what better response to the intractable fact of human biodiversity than to eliminate inequality at the genetic level? What could be more equal than a world of clones?

Such speculations illustrate the necessity of our learning soon how genes actually affect society. Our only chance of foreseeing the potential world-shaking impact of Galtonian selection rests in the honest, unstifled study of Darwinian selection. God help us if we don’t start helping ourselves.

Part 1: Darwin’s Enemies on the Right

Steve Sailer‘s website is www.iSteve.com. He is the President of the Human Biodiversity Institute.

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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At the end of the 20th Century, the reputations of the three bushy-bearded 19th Century sages — Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin — are diverging radically. One hundred million corpses later, Marxism is on its last legs everywhere except in university Literature departments. Freudianism is also foundering, with Prozac proving a more effective cure for what ails your psyche than talking for years about how you were emotionally crippled by your toilet training.

Darwinism, however, cuts a wider swath than ever. Ernst Mayr, the dean of biologists, states, “Nothing in biology makes sense without Darwinian evolution.” And Darwinism is now generating rigorous results in social sciences that had long drifted, buffeted by every ideology and fad to come along. For example, in 1859 Darwin forecast that “psychology will be based on a new foundation.” Today, “evolutionary psychology” explains the reproductive logic behind why men and women tend to think so differently. Even in literary and artistic criticism, the most innovative work (such as Camille Paglia’s “Sexual Personae”) has taken on a Darwinian tinge.

Yet, Darwin remains vastly unpopular. Creationists of course rabidly oppose him. Yet, as Frank Miele of Skeptic magazine notes, his legacy is in more danger “from its self-declared ‘friends’ than from its honest enemies.”

In Part I of this series, we’ll start by looking at Darwin’s honest — if comic — enemies, the “Scientific Creationists.” There are plenty of other writers, however, who can deliver the easy entertainment of sneering at fundamentalists who claim that Noah’s Flood carved the Grand Canyon in 40 days. Instead, I’ll focus on how this kind of know-nothingism feeds off the atheistic triumphalism of brilliant evolutionists like Richard Dawkins and Edward O. Wilson. In next week’s Part II, we’ll examine how Darwin’s self-proclaimed friends, like the part-time paleontologist and full-time media hound Stephen Jay Gould, try to cover up how Darwinism subverts the creeds of both the Biblically and the politically pious. At the very center of Darwin’s model of humanity is today’s most censored heresy: the importance of hereditary genetic inequality.

The press recently lambasted the state of Kansas for deleting evolution from the state’s high school assessment tests, but the politicians did not. Presidential frontrunner George W. Bush called for teaching creationism alongside evolution: “Children ought to be exposed to different theories about how the world started.” The politicians know that in a 1999 Gallup Poll 47% of Americans agreed that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.” Indeed, 30% of those with post-graduate educations endorse this literal interpretation of Genesis.

Why are Americans more likely than Canadians or Europeans to tell pollsters they reject evolution on religious grounds? Organized Christianity is ebbing away rapidly in Europe because the state-run churches are just as feckless and inept as other government monopolies. In the U.S., though, the First Amendment’s separation of church and state means that America enjoys the most competitive, entrepreneurial religious marketplace this side of India.

While fewer people north of the border will admit to creationist beliefs, Canadians should not feel too smug. A Canadian named George McCready Price came up with the brilliant (if preposterous) idea that Noah’s Flood could account for all that inconvenient geological evidence that the Earth is older than 6000 years. Among Fundamentalists, Price’s “Flood Geology” is now crowding out more reasonable varieties of Creationism. For example, William Jennings Bryan, thrice Democratic candidate for President and guest prosecutor at the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, was caricatured in the movie “Inherit the Wind” as the epitome of religious dogmatism. Yet, in reality Bryan was perfectly willing to call the Bible’s description of God creating the heavens and the Earth in just six days a metaphor. Each “day” could represent up to 600 million years. Today, however, Bryan would be a traitor to the noisier “Scientific Creationists.”

Fortunately, it’s by no means clear just how seriously that 47% of the public take their supposed Creationist beliefs when they aren’t answering opinion polls. While Henry Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, denounces children’s dinosaur toys and the movie “Jurassic Park” as “propaganda for evolution,” his logic certainly didn’t seem to hurt Stephen Spielberg in the wallet. The public is also fascinated by the discovery of proto-human skulls in Olduvai Gorge, the possibility of cloning that 20,000 year old wooly mammoth, and so forth. Nor have I heard of anybody refusing to take the new antibiotics that drug companies have had to invent to combat the ever-evolving strains of penicillin-resistant bacteria.

Darwin seems to lose out with the public primarily when his supporters force him into a mano-a-mano Thunderdome death match against the Almighty. Most people seem willing to accept Darwinism as long as they don’t have to believe in nothing but Darwinism. Thus, the strident tub-thumping for absolute atheism by evolutionary biologists like Richard Dawkins, author of the great book “The Selfish Gene,” is counter-productive.

There are many positions intermediate between Price’s dopey dogma and Dawkins’ clever counter-dogma that more or less accommodate both science and religion. For example, the nuns at my Catholic elementary school in the Sixties taught that humans were descended from apes, but that Adam and Eve were the first who had evolved enough for God to give them souls. The Catholic Church has learned from its self-inflicted Galileo disaster not to bet its prestige on one side of a scientific controversy. Science works best with theories that are falsifiable, religion with beliefs that aren’t.

But biologists should be wary of atheistical triumphalism for more than merely tactical reasons. Dawkins’ seems to have forgotten the point made by “Darwin’s Bulldog,” Thomas H. Huxley, that true skepticism implies agnosticism, not atheism. The smug atheism rampant among prominent evolutionists today is reminiscent of that of the physicists in 1899, just before the 20th Century unleashed a host of unwelcome surprises upon them. Unfortunately, biologists don’t know enough of the history of physics and cosmology to see how atheistic dogmatism can mislead and slow scientific progress.

Edward O. Wilson, founder of sociobiology, outlined the philosophical framework for evolutionary atheism in his impressive bestseller “Consilience.” Wilson argues that the future of science resides in “reductionism.” Sociology should ultimately be reduced to (i.e., be explained by) its underlying sociobiological mechanisms. In turn, sociobiology needs to be reduced to biology, which will eventually be completely explicable by chemistry. Ultimately, all knowledge can be explained by physics.

This is a magnificently ambitious agenda, and its value is clear. For example, to discuss the sociology of gender without grasping the sociobiology of why evolution instilled different reproductive goals in males and females is useless (although that doesn’t stop feminist verbalizers). In turn, those contrasting sociobiological drives emanate from chemicals like testosterone and estrogen, which can be understood in terms of the physics of protons and electrons.

Now, a few intelligent critics like biochemist Michael Behe object to Wilson’s imperialistic assumption that Darwinian science can explain every single fact of biology. How can we be sure that natural selection could have created something as complex as, say, the eye? Well, at this point we probably can’t. And we’ll probably never be able to prove that every single feature of every single organism is the result of the Darwinian process. Yet, natural selection has proven so enormously successful at explaining thousands of mysteries that for any single biological question the smart money remains on the undefeated heavyweight champ, Charles Darwin.

Besides, for a good scientist it’s simply more fun to try to explain some facet of nature than to assert like Behe that nobody could ever explain it. Anti-religiousness is the appropriate professional prejudice of scientists. The Sidney Harris cartoon summed it up. A lab-coated researcher is filling the left and right sides of a black board with equations, but the only thing connecting the two clouds of symbols are the words, “Then a miracle occurs.” Another scientist suggests, “Maybe you could give us a little more detail on that middle section.” Relying on miracles in science is like relying on the lottery in retirement planning.

The problem comes when scientists try to inflate this useful professional prejudice into the primary principle of the cosmos. Dogmatism makes them overlook important facts. For example, Wilson left out the ultimate reductionist step: boiling physics down to cosmology. The ultimate scientific questions are: (1) Why does the universe exist? And (2) Why are the laws of nature such that they allow intelligent life to evolve via natural selection? Behe could probably deploy his skepticism about atheism more profitably at the cosmological level. So far as we now know, cosmology can only be reduced to the raw speculations of theology.

That’s why the two most scientifically fruitful theories in 20th Century cosmology — the Big Bang and the Anthropic Principle of Intelligent Design — were partially cribbed from theologians like St. Thomas Aquinas, much to the dismay of cosmologists.

In 1927 Father Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and mathematician, devised what’s now called the Big Bang theory. Most scientists found its similarities to Genesis’ “Let there be light” and the famous prime mover proof for the existence of God to be unsettling. Thus, they largely turned toward the less subversive Steady-State theory. This postulated that the creation of matter wasn’t a one-shot cataclysm of Biblical proportions, but a routine, small-scale event. The 1964 discovery that you could watch the electro-magnetic static generated by the Big Bang on your TV disproved this comforting scenario, however, ushering in an era of rapid scientific advance.

Then in 1974 cosmologist Brandon Carter revived the ancient Argument from Design for the existence of God. This had held that the existence of a well-designed item like a sword or a bird’s wing implies the existence of a designer. Darwin’s theory of natural selection had seemingly disposed of that chestnut by demonstrating that the differential reproduction rates of competing variations could eventually produce superbly engineered organisms without a designer. Carter, however, showed that our universe appears to be fine-tuned to support the evolution of intelligent life. A host of seemingly arbitrary physical parameters such as the strength of gravity, coincide superbly well to foster a stable, long-lived universe. The odds against such a coincidence happening by chance appear, well, astronomical.

Once again, a quasi-religious notion did wonders for the fecundity of cosmological theory. To avoid admitting a Designer, cosmologists had to postulate that beyond our natural world, there must exist a, shall we say, “supernatural” world. Rather than a hairy thunderer shouting “Let there be light,” maybe, they say, there is a “superuniverse” comprising an infinite number of universes, all with different natural laws. And maybe life only emerges in the universes with the right law, like ours. And maybe, to make the Darwinian metaphor complete, universes compete somehow against each other.

This infinite universes concept is a sensationally creative idea. Of course, in its utter untestability, it’s not exactly science. In truth, it is theological speculation at its most grandiose. Philosopher Robert C. Koons notes, “Originally, atheists prided themselves on being no-nonsense empiricists, who limited their beliefs to what could be seen and measured. Now, we find ourselves in a situation in which the only alternative to belief in God is belief in an infinite number of unobservable parallel universes! You’ve come along way, baby!” At minimum, we now know that our natural world cannot account for its own existence. To do that, we need to assume the existence of some sort of supernatural word. And even if some enormous breakthrough let us validate the existence of this superuniverse, we’d probably end up having to assume that it was brought about by some sort of hyperuniverse beyond that, and on and on.

In summary, for reasons stretching from the gritty world of tactical politics to the most ethereal conjectures about the cosmos (or cosmoses), those who claim to be skeptics should try harder to keep their minds open.

Part II: Darwin’s Enemies on the Left

(Republished from The National Post by permission of author or representative)
 
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Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, VDARE.com columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.


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