Dear reader I've been led to believe the internet loves failure. Well I found one. It's a big failure, so lets take it apart here for amusement. This is not your garden variety, "walked into a wall" failure. It is more of a "was told to go North and walked into a wall to the South and continued trying to go through wall by gnawing it with my teeth" kind of failure. So be forewarned, this won't be a pretty sight.
First a bit of backstory. I was trawling the usual adolescent chat rooms and was led once again down into the valley of Unqualified Reservations. In particular this post. Mencius is worth reading, even when he isn't attacking some of the most important issues of our day (which are all too often left aside). Uninstalling a Cathedral is an apt title for his work, as he labors at gently getting people out of their ideological shells to take a fresh look at things. And if we can't remove these shells and open ourselves to the idea that just maybe what we have believed is wrong, then we have no courage and are doomed to never see the truth. But I digress. Moldbug builds an image of Academia, or Universitania, or some-such label to describe his own image of something thusly related. His critiques in the genre are good (and previously linked here), but sadly deteriorate on occasion into straw-man punch-em-ups. For example in this case:
Its belief in the statistical uniformity of the human brain across all subpopulations presently living is absolute. It has put all its chips on this one.
Wait what? I don't ever recall any academic in any field suggesting that the human brain is uniform across any subpopulation. We are equally welcome in the cathedral, perhaps? Well, sorta. Anyway my purpose here is not to nitpick one of Moldbug's many ramblings. These are what they are, we enjoy them and learn from them or move on. In this case it was one particular phrase that caught my eye, and brought us here today:
There is plenty of evidence against human neurological uniformity.
Wait, don't click the link yet! What do you think it will be? What would be evidence against neurological uniformity? How about something like this? Clear evidence, proving the point. It doesn't have to get uglier, but it could. There are severe neurological deficiencies out there. Let's face it, we can't all be Lucas Etter. Especially not the guy who wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. His neurological nonconformity was so great he was quadraplegic, yet he wrote a fabulous book by signal-blinking with one eye. Another place to look might be the mega-classic book The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. Illuminating evidence against human neurological uniformity exists in there.
So why on Earth did Mencius link that monstrosity (OK you can look now but be careful it's ugly) and not something like my examples above? It is tempting to write it off to the man being busy and sloppy. He certainly admits as much, and a bit of humility is necessary at the fountainhead of intellectual pursuit. But lets give him a rather large benefit of the doubt. Is he perhaps referring to something more subtle than differences in neurological hardware amongst the homo sampiens? Maybe he is hinting to us that there is something more important than biological hardware, but rather where it is placed and how.
We have all enjoyed spending some time with someone who might not be the sharpest tack on the board. Not taking one's self too seriously is a great contagious joy. Moldbug's link shows a far worse failure: those with no wherewithal at all pretending to be something they aren't, on a mission which doesn't exist. Wow. The kids in the special olympics know they aren't the fastest runners on the planet. They also know they are running and not flying spaceships. But the authors of this "Race differences in Cognitive Ability" appear to be completely under an illusion that they are intellectuals or somehow clever. That somebody might care. The Lulz! It hurts! Dear reader, do you think that people of any race could be this retarded? ((42 years of study have shown that it is 65% genetic, 35% environmental.))
Perhaps we can even extend Mencius' benefit of the doubt to the American Psychological Association, who published this thing in "Psychology, Public Policy, and Law". Indeed, the article is helpful in understanding broken psychology. Very very fucking broken psychology. Bwahaha!
Racism - A Tactic
The article appears to be written with some efforts to be racist. It fails miserably in this regard. To see how it isn't racist, consider the following scenario, presenting an example of classical racism. Rather than use an example of a particular race you have heard of I will use one called a "green shirt". As you will see it doesn't matter. Traits don't need to be colored or even identifiable to work with the tactic of racism, but lets stick with "green shirt" for now:
Scene: Restaurant. Owner cleaning. Enter Thug 1 and Thug 2.
Thug 1: Jimmy, you didn't give us our payment.
Thug 2: Yeah Jimmy, where's our payment.
Jimmy: It's coming guys, business hasn't been great and..
Thug 1: You think I care what a green shirt fuck like you has to say? Give us our payment.
Jimmy: Huh? It's blue. OK ok, hold your horses, it will..
Thug 1: (Interrupting again) You know green shirts motherfuckers all smell like dead fish. Dead rotting fish, green shirt. (violent gesture).
Jimmy: It will be in your box by tomrrow at 5 PM I promise.
Thug 1: Thats more like it.
Thug 2: Yeah, studies have shown green shirt wearing is correlated with aquatic odors.
Thug 1: What the fuck? (Smacks Thug 2)
The authors of the failed article under review today play the role of Thug 2 here, in imagining a statement used as part of a tactic to be a scientific avenue of study on its own. However not only is there not a Thug 1 that cares enough to smack them, but they also continue down the incorrect path despite continued smacking into the wall of reason.
THIRTY YEARS OF RESEARCH ON RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY
Wow thirty years eh? That's a lot of research isn't it. Bwahahaha!
The abstract is three sentences. Let's look at the first one:
The culture-only (0% genetic–100% environmental) and the hereditarian (50% genetic – 50% environmental) models of the causes of mean Black–White differences in cognitive ability are compared and contrasted across 10 categories of evidence: the worldwide distribution of test scores, g factor of mental ability, heritability, brain size and cognitive ability, transracial adoption, racial admixture, regression, related life-history traits, human origins research, and hypothesized environmental variables.
To be honest we have already given these idiots more than enough attention, but seriously, the lulz. What do you think a culture-only model of cognitive ability might be? No DNA required, any piece of matter could have cognitive ability? Yes. Just read Plato to that petri dish and the bacteria will learn ancient greek. Oh and what's the only other possible model: hereditarian, in which exactly half of cognitive ability is genetic. Doesn't matter if you are alive or dead, if you have the genes you are therefore half clever. Just put your child in a closed metal box all day, it will be exactly half as smart as it would have been with real parents. Seriously, every part of this thing is so completely broken one doesn't know where to begin. I haven't even touched the "10 categories of evidence" yet. Wow nice, the number 10 is in here! Aren't we clever! Nurse: give J. Philippe Rushton a purple candy.
Well lets drop our shell of ideology for just a second shall we? Maybe there is a point to this line of thinking after all. Maybe, just consider the possibility as if it were a UFO report or something, that there are Black-White differences in cognitive ability which are worthy of study. Believe! Lets start there, because it appears to be a backbone of the thing. Maybe such a thing exists. Well let's give it a try shall we? What could it mean? Perhaps the authors stopped for two seconds to consider the idea, and how one would pursue study of it. One would have to start with some concept of what is Black and what is White, or at least to put some kind of metric on the concept. You would think such discussion would dominate such a study. You would be wrong. The authors don't seem to care that their machinations rest on nothing and point toward nothing. The best they do is this passage:
The fuzziness of racial definitions does not negate their utility. To define terms, based on genetic analysis, roughly speaking, Blacks (Africans, Negroids) are those who have most of their ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa; Whites (Europeans, Caucasoids) have most of their ancestors from Europe; and East Asians (Orientals, Mongoloids) have most of their ancestors from Pacific Rim countries (Cavalli-Sforza, 2000; Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, & Piazza, 1994; Nei & Roychoudhury, 1993; Risch, Burchard, Ziv, & Tang, 2002).
Lol right? This is based on genetic analysis. A few decades after Polymerase Chain Reaction and we are up to our modern and oh-so-useful metric: "have most of their ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa". So, lets take a massive chunk of continent, holding millions of people of remarkably diverse cultures and physical statures (and colors of skin), and call them, or rather anybody ancestral with them - a single genetic group. OK then, nice basis for a scientific analysis there guys! Any elementary school student capable of looking at a map can see that these guys have no axioms, no definitions - nothing with which to build a theorem or make a measurement. Modern geneticists often argue that we all have our ancestors from sub-saharan Africa, but we don't need to go there. I mean seriously, I was at least expecting a high school analysis of probabilistic genetic variance away from some National Geographic selected prototypical African man. But no, not even that. To be honest it's just as well. Makes the whole thing more comedic to be everywhere and always incompetent.
"The fuzziness of racial definitions does not negate their utility." The LOLs run strong here. Utility for what guys? Dear reader, can you guess what kind of utility is implied here without laughing?
But wait, they have measurements! Really! (This just gets better and better, wait for it....) IQ! We measured IQ in Whites!
These authors sho did fall into the mother of all tarbabies set by Brer Rabbit hisself. IQ is a thing guys, really! Lets measure it! If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, there is a word for somebody who thinks their cognitive ability can be described with a scalar number: the word is "idiot". Don't be confused however, there is such a thing as an IQ test (it could be any test really, ooh g factor sounds good lets use that) and there is also such a thing as a score on a test. Lucas Etter got 4.9 on an IQ test. How do you do on that test? Personally my time is embarrassingly slow, more like 120. Probably because I have ancestors from sub-saharan Africa ((Why sub-saharan? Another potentially interesting topic the authors refuse to address, surprise surprise. We can only assume it is because if you go North of the desert you get closer to the shining tower of orclandia which sees all and would be angry if we spoke poorly of it)).
OK, you really have to suspend disbelief to continue with this, so perhaps it's a nice exercise for that. After you watch some flat-earth videos, practicing your cathedral-uninstall procedures, come back and try this one out:
1) People are either black or white, just take that at face value. I mean, lets ignore that the words mean different things in different places of the world, just pick one definition and move on, it doesn't matter which one to proceed. Something about Africa or if you like choose another place, preferably one you know nothing about. Heck you could even use epidermal albedo I suppose even though these authors never mention it.
2) Now lets assume there is such a thing as a scalar IQ. Just pick some definition, a test battery or average or something, SATs or whatever, and move on. It's a thing, it's real, one can measure it with tests and it's not even important what those tests are, we're not going to mention them here. People wrote about it, it's real. Lets move on.
3) With me so far? Impressive. Very impressive. Now: lets somehow assume that those IQ tests (defined as in number 2) when applied to the criteria of black-whiteness (as defined in number 1) leave a bias or correlation and that this bias might conceivably be of some (unspecified) interest to a literate person.
Can you get there? I can't. The thing just breaks irretrievably at this point and the pretend house of cards falls down in a big pile of rofl. Who gives a flying fuck guys? Even if your logic wasn't laughably broken every step of the way, what are you trying to do here? Why? Even if it were a well written scientific study, this is at best a statistical curiosity. "Brontosaurses are small on one end, big in the middle, and small on the other end". Yeah so?
If cognitive ability were of concern for whatever reason, lets say in helping your daughter pick a husband, then you would consider cognitive ability. You might be interested to read about different kinds of IQ tests or g-factor tests, whatever. SATs, musical aptitude, literary knowledge: all of interest. However IQ tests are in fact different tests than Blackness-Whiteness tests, even these authors concede this. So why would you care about some correlation of these two tests, even if they weren't both so broken conceptually?
Conversely, suppose blackness-whiteness, or degree of ancestry from sub-saharan africa, were for some reason a concern. You need an actor to play a Dagon priest in a movie about the discovery of the Sirius multistellar system, for example. Better look the part. Or maybe leucitic and albino people instinctively scare the shit out of you. Perhaps black people scare your dog. How could the supposed correlation of 1) and 2), even if presented in a logical fashion, be of interest to you? It couldn't possibly.
There is no use-case presented for this work. Perhaps a pedagogical concern in parenting techniques or school systems? Nope, not mentioned. There is simply no motivation considered to even pursue the topic, other than what appears to be the authors' total misunderstanding and inability to think. But they sure did a bad job of it anyway!
Maybe you don't like the guy down the street and want to rob him? Then go do it already. Lock him up, if you have the uniform and the motivation. One doesn't be an asshole by writing a paper on the benefit of fisticuffs. I mean can you imagine:
Police 1: "Get your black ass on the floor. Give me your wallet."
Police 2: "Excuse me, I believe you have sub-saharan ancestry and this means you have a mean IQ 1.1 standard deviations lower than test groups with pacific-rim ancestry. Take a look at this plot from Rushton and Jensen, 2005 please sir."
No, that's not how it works. Racism and various other techniques of assholery don't give a shit about scientific inquiry, broken or not. You notice I'm not saying here that racism is always bad. Sometimes you might want to play the race card for whatever reason. But if you are doing so: play it. Don't talk about it endlessly, uselessly, and without thought and then - not play it. What a gross waste of time that would be.
Denial of any genetic component in human variation, including between groups, is not only poor science, it is likely to be injurious both to unique individuals and to the complex structure of societies.
Nice conclusion guys. Well, yeah. At least we have a factual statement somewhere in here, even if it has nothing to do with the title or abstract. We shouldn't deny physical fact! There, thirty years weren't down the drain after all. This might be a nice lead-in to a racist statement, but where is it? Perhaps even a statement addressing race differences in cognitive ability would be appropriate here. Where is that? Nowhere. Fail.
Just LoL right? The sad thing is that there are some 65 or so references listed. All of these appear to be people in some way concerned with intelligence. All of them appear to have wasted time they could have spent doing puzzles with some kids, apparently wishing they had the balls to actually be racist. Idiots. Seriously have you ever seen a more embarrassingly idiotic and broken document masquerading as a scientific paper? If so I would like to know about it, as a collector. Well this is likely the most attention that heaping pile of garbage has ever received. Enough already, I'm sure you have more important things to do.