In his latest VDARE column, John Derbyshire has written a glowing discussion of yours truly:
Bloggers come and go. They say all they have to say; or they take a more demanding day job; or start a new hobby; or fall in love; or, I suppose (gulp), are gathered unto their fathers. As VDARE.com always says in its fundraisers, in the long run it’s very hard to write unless you’re paid for it.
New ones come up, though; so from time to time I’ll give you an update.
Of bloggers unmentioned in that November 2012 column, the most interesting one is JayMan. I don’t think I knew his blog at the time. At any rate, I feel sure that if I had known it, I would have included it.
Well… more on that shortly.
JayMan writes about human nature, with particular attention to human differences. As such he has particular appeal to Us of the Cold Eye. That is to say, he’s a stone empiricist who scoffs at happy talk and wishful thinking about human nature, and goes to the research studies.
That is my thing. A couple of my tweets on the matter should sum it up:
— JayMan (@JayMan471) May 5, 2014
Science occasionally gives counter-intuitive findings. But if it *always* confirmed our naive intuitions, we wouldn't need to do science.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 25, 2014
Reality doesn't come à la carte. You can't pick and choose the parts you like. All the facts are the facts.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 14, 2014
Occam's Razor is an *extremely* powerful tool. Yet so few know how to use it properly.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 15, 2014
Some people (including many here) seem to believe that in addition to being entitled to our own opinions, we're entitled to our own facts.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 20, 2014
Why do people get excited over studies that produce *no statistically significant results?* Stats 101: that means 95% chance result is noise
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 20, 2014
If your research relies on taking people's word, without any corroboration whatsoever, let me introduce you to a guy pic.twitter.com/p0Ug2dYtxQ
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 27, 2014
As I said, meta-thoughts/behaviors (ruminating about your own thoughts/behaviors and acts like seeking self-improvement) are heritable too.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 22, 2014
Yes, change IS heritable too: pic.twitter.com/z16dsCRNUQ
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 14, 2014
"Locus of control" http://t.co/tligEi1eo1 is also heritable, so key truths coming from me and others are necessarily falling on deaf ears.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 25, 2014
I don't know why people hold on to health tips borne out of observational studies: virtually all of them have died when subjected to RCTs.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 23, 2014
Ever occur to anyone that studies based on people in fertility clinics broadly aren't generalizable to the whole population?
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 20, 2014
Here you go: conventional wisdom claims obesity is per se dangerous. But is there a documented decrease in *within race* life expectancy?
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 18, 2014
Why are anti-genetics people so worried about eugenics/genetic engineering? We're blank slates and nothing is heritable so what's the fuss?
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 17, 2014
Oh, by the way, Mendelian randomization: the fact that history shows that most candidate gene hits are false positives means MR is bullshit.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 22, 2014
Biologists estimate heritability by studying different degrees of relatedness: identical twins, siblings, cousins, adoptees, unrelated individuals. Rigorous studies of this kind have been going on for decades. We have a vast mountain of data on human variability. They all agree on the essentials.
Here, for example, is a short piece on the heritability of adult height, which in well-nourished populations is about 80 percent.[ How much of human height is genetic and how much is due to nutrition? , Scientific American, December 11, 2006]
JayMan seems to know all the studies, and does not suffer gladly people who think that waving their arms and crying “epigenetics!” or “Pioneer Fund!” makes a contribution to any discussion of human nature. His question: What does the data say?
Here he is, for example, in the comment thread to one of hbd*chick’s posts (JayMan is an indefatigable commenter). The point at issue is whether one’s happiness as an adult depends to any degree on the style of parenting you were subjected to in childhood.
JayMan cites, with links, two different studies from two different countries showing that it doesn’t.
The transmission of misery or bliss in a family is entirely due to shared genes, just like most everything else.
The fact that parenting style makes no measurable contribution to the finished adult personality is perhaps the most counterintuitive result in the human sciences. There is nothing more certain, yet there is nothing harder to get across to people—even well-educated people—who are unacquainted with the literature.
The case for behavioral genetics is as solid as a rock. Yet certain people like to pretend as if this is a “speculative” affair, or deny that we have such evidence entirely. A key reason for that is as Misdreavus once put it:
Well, there are certain people I can’t fully convince of a lot of things. Smart people have a hard time with heredity, which is why there is big opposition to HBD. But I have a particularly hard time with the non-effect of parenting.
Conservatives are even more clueless about the human sciences than liberals. It is for example a perennial theme in conservative social commentary that fatherlessness is the cause of much social dysfunction and many poor life outcomes. If only poor people could be persuaded to get married and stay married!
Sounds nice, and gets your timid conservative commentator off the “racist” hook, since ceteris paribus fatherlessness is much more common among blacks than nonblacks.
But … “Happy talk!” scoffs JayMan.
Even if there was more marriage among those in the lower class, the next generation, having inherited all the same traits, would be no different. The poor outcomes of children who were raised in fatherless homes stem not from the much maligned single motherhood—in and of itself—but rather from the traits these children inherited from their parents, who were the type of individuals likely to have their children end up being raised by single mothers. [Liberalism, HBD, Population, and Solutions for the Future, June 1, 2012]
So the arrow of causation is not from fatherlessness to poor life outcomes: It is from certain features of the parental genomes inclining to single motherhood and pump’n’dump fatherhood, and thence, by genetic transmission, to similarly feckless offspring.
This latter picture makes much more sense given what we know about the heritability of behavioral and personality characteristics. Which is a lot: JayMan has put together an excellent reference post, spelling it all out, with numerous links.
Resistance to belief that parenting has little lasting effect (beyond the primary goal of ensuring your children’s survival and safety) is so fierce – and so irrational – that I’d say it has a religious nature to it, like political beliefs. That too demands explanation. And don’t worry, I have something on that in the works.
Indeed, knowledge of heritability (and by extension, the general non-effect of parenting) is on firm ground, as firm as evolution itself. To deny it is tantamount to creationism at this point. So for that reason, I say this:
At this point, people who deny the main findings of behavioral genetics should be treated like creationists: mocked, ridiculed, & laughed at
— JayMan (@JayMan471) June 24, 2014
In fact, I’ll go a step further, and say to these people – you know who you are – it’s like this:
The jury is in; and your team did lose. Contra the blank slatists, developmental psychologists, and all those people who claim that human differences result entirely or primarily from our experiences, you’re wrong. “Nature” is powerful and pervasive; nurture is weak; what effect the “environment” does have doesn’t work like you think.
Indeed, I’d say that the true reality of the matter – beyond what people discuss as being potentially acceptable and whatnot with the current (largely nonsensical) discussion revolving around Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance – goes far deeper than this. On this point, I will note that Derbyshire referenced me before, in a radio interview about Wade’s book (see here, Recent, Copious, and Regional), at time point 15:00.
Derbyshire notes there that “if dimensions of the individual human personality are heritable [and they are], then society is just a vector sum of a lot of individual personalities.”
And hence, not to add insult to injury upon the various strands of blank slatists and other “environmentalists”, but the fact of the matter, as established by the evidence, is even more far removed from what that might hope, and cling to. As accounted in my earlier post “Squid Ink”:
the advice is that if we want HBD to gain widespread acceptance, we can’t be too “hard” with our claims, regardless of how true they actually are. How would these people then receive the true realities of the situation then? Like:
- Every single human behavioral trait is impacted by genes, usually considerably so.
- How you raise your kids has virtually no impact on how they turn out. That is, nurture appears to matter little in the end.
- For that matter, contrary to what we’ve been told, it doesn’t look like peers matter too much, either.
- We have been so far unable to find much of anything in the environment that leaves a lasting impact on intelligence or behavioral traits.
- Indeed, this is largely true of health outcomes. “Lifestyle” (say diet and exercise) doesn’t appear to be primarily responsible for differences in illness or lifespan.
- One class of agents in the environment that the evidence does seem to be pointing to that can impact health and behavior are pathogens, and many, if not most, have yet to be discovered. These infections can cause chronic disease, like cancer and perhaps heart disease, and can even alter behavior, most poignantly in the case male homosexuality.
- While we know the grand-scale environment can make a difference, as seen with rapid secular changes, this seems to primarily occur because of alterations in the incentive structure or through hitherto unavailable possibilities (e.g., cars, internet, oral birth control). Changes here quite likely aren’t easy to execute in a way that achieves controlled outcomes.
- Given the high heritabilities of behavioral traits and the lack of clear environmental mediators, differences in “culture” (especially within a given time period) are largely due to genetic differences between people. That is, differences between all human groups (races, ethnicities, social classes, or whatever) are all to some degree due to genetics, and perhaps mostly or almost entirely so. [Emphasis not in original.]
- Your birth family/clan heavily determines your eventual social status. Social status is in fact as heritable as height, and decays very slowly generation after generation in all different social systems across different countries. Social mobility, by in large, doesn’t exist.
- This scales up to larger groups: the average intelligence and distribution of behavioral traits of a nation or a race/ethnicity within a nation are overwhelmingly the primary determinants of its outcome and social structure, and not its resource wealth or historical circumstances (generally).
- Indeed, these imply that all of human history is largely the result of the churning of these behavioral and intellectual differences, enabled by technology (which itself is a function of the people).
Would a speaker that said all these things get a lot of play? Would a book that laid bare the case for these rather than took the more muted tack that Wade’s did be well received? What do you think?
I will say one thing: with all these considered, it’s hard to escape the seeming importance of eugenics, if crafting a better society is what you’re after. Indeed, if that’s your goal, eugenics – in one form or another – does appear to be your only avenue.
I know others might not share the idea that such frankness is best, but, as I said at that post:
Derbyshire continues to my, frankly, unusual background:
As his affection for Bill Maher shows, JayMan is refreshingly eclectic in his opinions—the opposite of a straight-ticket liberal or conservative. He is an atheist, but a nationalist; a social libertarian who favors the “gay germ” theory of homosexuality.
He describes himself in fact as “very liberal … both socially and economically,” and fleshes that out by posting his scores on a standard multi-factor test of political alignment.
A black, or part-black, HBD maven? I don’t see why not. There are forty million self-identifying blacks in the U.S.A., plenty of room for every conceivable personality type.
My son will have his own rather interesting lineage to trace; for he is a part West African, part British (presumably English, and possibly Irish), part Chinese, and part Indian (subcontinent), part Yankee, part Quaker, part German, part Latvian tanned-skin blue-eyed male born in Maine. Oh the fun you’ll have. Do these interesting combinations contribute to our unique insights? Well, more on that in the future too.
Derbyshire also talks about some of my impactful posts:
Some of JayMan’s pieces are masterpieces of blogging, if there can be such a thing. Look at his “Maps of the American Nations” post, for example: two thousand words, twenty maps, two video clips, and full engagement with his comment thread.
Indeed, here, I’d like to call attention to some of my posts that, if you didn’t already read, you best do so forthwith. These include:
My two definitive treatments on what we know from behavioral genetics:
The Son Becomes The Father – Here I discuss the recent findings of Gregory Clark (as told in his book The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility), finding a high heritability of social status across time and across space. I square this with what is known from behavioral genetics from the 20th century, noting that evidence for a high genetic effect on all behaviors and all major life outcomes, like the aforementioned life satisfaction, income, criminality, marital stability, etc. I also note that the transmission must be genetic, as evidence shows no parental effect on any of these things.
More Behavioral Genetic Facts – The sequel to the previous post, I continue to tie up additional dangling points and affirm the high heritability and lack of “shared environment” impact on traits such as IQ, criminality, emotional/mental problems. I talk about the extended twin design and how it can clear up some dangling questions, like who do we choose our mates? Do spouses influence each other? I mention the key findings of behavioral genetics, namely:
Behavioral genetics in a nutshell: heredity: 70-80%; shared environment: 0%; something(s) else: 20-30%.
— JayMan (@JayMan471) March 19, 2014
…and that if anything deviates from that rule, it can be taken to mean something is up.
The preceding post to “Maps of the American Nations”:
Flags of the American Nations – Here I discuss each of Colin Woodard’s American Nations, talking about the characteristics of each as well as a bit about each nation’s origins. The enduring features that make up Greater Appalachia, The Left Coast, the Deep South, etc. that live on in today’s America (and Canada and Mexico) can be traced to these ethnic differences in each region’s settling and subsequent immigration.
The sequel post to “Maps of the American Nations”,
More Maps of the American Nations – Bigger and badder than the original, with more maps solidifying the distinction between the different American nations, with genetic evidence of these differences to boot. Also some discussion of the history of each, and the founding of certain areas. I also include personality data showing that the American nations don’t just exist on paper or in the voting booth. I use these to talk about the importance of self-sorting, founder effects, and Cochran’s & Harpending’s “boiling off” model to explain some of the differences we see. I also touch on immigration and the canard that immigrants “assimilate,” showing that that is pretty much a myth. A must see if you have not.
Why HBD – Mostly quoting Misdreavus, but together with some additional commentary by me, the definitive introduction to human biodiversity, even for people with zero familiarity with the topic. On my About Me page, I direct new readers to start here.
No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why – I make a detailed case against the existence of free will, which is a nonsensical concept in any rational analysis. I denounce even the latest and best attempts to restore some watered-down version of it. I note that since all actions have causes, human behavior is no less the result of physical processes than any other event in the universe – physical processes which include genes, environmental impacts, and random chance. Behavior is always the result of these forces, and arguments otherwise are merely obsfuctionary quasi-to-fully religious attempts to confuse the matter. I note the irony in the fact that inability of some to let go of the idea of free will is itself explained by its nonexistence (i.e., we can’t escape the physical reality laid out by the structure of our brains, regardless of exactly how our brains got that way).
Where HBD Chick’s Hypothesis Works - Here I take a critical look at the work of the venerable HBD Chick, looking at how the attributes of the world’s populations fit into her theory. Many fit well (especially across Europe, the Middle East, and the Maghreb), but there are some interesting outliers that might provide some key insight.
Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality – There is more to HBD than IQ. And as we see all human behavioral traits are heritable. There are significant differences between different human groups, and this is my post on how some of the basic personality differences (as measured by the six-factor HEXACO model) might vary across the world, and, perhaps just as importantly, why they came to be so. What selective pressures led to these differences? I discuss here.
Finally, as Derbyshire noted, “As VDARE.com always says in its fundraisers, in the long run it’s very hard to write unless you’re paid for it.” And this is where Mrs. Jay M an has urged me to include a message requesting your generous support. I must say, putting this blog together is not easy – sourcing out the research for my posts, for one, is far from a trivial task. It’s rendered additionally more challenging with a little one who insists on demanding much of my time, a demand which I more than happily obliged. I think the quality of my work speaks for itself, and I hope you find it incredibly useful. So if you would like keep it going, please donate . Currently, the two best ways are PayPal, see button at right. All major credit and debit cards are accepted. Also there is Flattr (see button at bottom) for those who prefer.
A satellite image of my ancestral home, Jamaica, courtesy HBD Chick.