• Nicholas Weininger

    Nice piece. I would have emphasized more that our tendency to mischaracterize the beliefs of others is a key driver of mistaken belief that disagreements are unreasonable. Your example of the obnoxious and unreasonable belief in the moral superiority of whites is a currently salient one: it appears that many of the protesters who shouted down Charles Murray and Heather MacDonald had convinced themselves that they, Murray and MacDonald, held that obnoxious and unreasonable belief, but as far as I can tell they do not.

    • Sean II

      I believe the protestors have something like this in mind:

      1) Claims of behavioral inequality lead inevitably to claims of moral inequality.

      2) Murray and MacDonald have both made claims about behavioral inequality between blacks and whites.

      3) Therefore…

      • Nicholas Weininger

        This is a sort of inverse fallacy of composition, though. It’s true that where in the aggregate lots of people believe “behavioral inequality” (I’m not sure this is the right term but I think I know what you mean) claims, you also tend to get beliefs in moral inequality claims. It does not follow, however, that individuals who make behavioral inequality claims therefore ipso facto believe moral inequality claims, especially when those individuals clearly and strenuously deny having any such beliefs.

        • Sean II

          True, but if we’re talking reasonable disagreement it’s also a problem that people in arguments habitually deny the plain and/or highly probable implications of their views.

          Single payer advocates, for example, never admit their idea leads to rationing of care. And when you point out it always does, they say “that’s only true in previous cases; the future will be different!”

          This sounds like that.

          • Sean II

            As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog: Murray’s promise that we can study group differences and build a society where no one ever acts on the knowledge gained is crazy unconvincing.

            Indeed, the latest Sam Harris podcast features an amusingly blatant contradiction from him and Murray on this point.

            Early on, they reassure the audience (and each other!) that we can solve the whole problem by just treating everyone as an individual, never using averages, etc.

            A few minutes later, when they’re safely discussing class differences among whites, Harris observes that you can make money all day long by predicting someone’s profile even if all you have to start is that he follows NASCAR, or drinks Budweiser, etc.

            For those keeping score at home: Point a) “averages are totally useless and don’t tell us anything and frankly
            it would be irrational to use them.”

            Point b) “hot damn look what you can figure out with averages!”

          • Sean II

            Relevance if not clear: shouldn’t it be that “unreasonable disagreement” is triggered automatically when someone is lying on a major point of concern.

          • Theresa Klein

            It’s not that it’s irrational to use averages. It’s only too rational. The problem is that if everyone does that, then non-average people get penalized or rewarded based on group characteristics they have no control over.
            Worse, people will become more tribal and systematically reward below average people of above average groups more than above average people of below average groups, which will result in structural inequality between groups beyond what is actually directly related to group averages.

          • Sean II

            But that’s just it. The fear of what other people will do with the truth causes many people to lie.

            What king of disagreement do you get from that? Reasonable or no?

            At present our culture offers three unattractive choices:

            1) Averages don’t exist
            2) Averages exist but don’t matter
            3) Racist

            1) is a total lie, and 2) is a subtle lie, but both lies seem popular as a means of avoiding 3) at all costs.

            Problem: some people don’t get these subtle singaling cues, and just noticing the lying.

          • King Goat

            Theresa, you’re right and that’s been the standard liberal position for centuries. Jefferson no doubt accepted that any given Muslim (or heck Catholic) had a higher chance than any given Unitarian to be trouble, but he argued for all to be treated equally under the law. Much like Type I errors are worried about more in statistics, that innocent harmed because of the (sometimes relatively slight) higher average of X in ‘his’ group (often lumped into against his wishes) has traditionally given liberal societies pause.

            But I think it’s even worse than that. It wasn’t that long ago that people thought the Irish, Jews and Italians were to be distrusted and treated differently because they thought they had, relative to other groups, higher risks of troubling behavior from crime (both organized and not) to political radicalism. What’s interesting is these weren’t just wild beliefs. The Irish really did make up most arrestees in cities like New York. Jews really were over represented in radical causes. Italians were more likely to be involved in organized crime.

            But something interesting happened along the way. These groups campaigned to point out that most in their groups did not deserve the labels, and more and more people declined to judge them that way. Interestingly, the actual averages changed once people left behind their generalizations based on them. People counseling us to steer clear of the ‘criminal’ Irish or Italian American or the ‘Bolshevik’ Jew are, rightly, considered goofy today. But many have just moved on to similar generalizations based on similar statistics but assuring us that *this* time some changeless truth is involved, one those not willing to recognize and institutionalize are just being hopelessly naive about…

          • Craig J. Bolton

            If I understand you correctly, there would seem to be a fairly simple economic explanation for that transformation. If you are, say, Italian, and in the stage of life where you are choosing a career, it is less costly to choose a career in crime if other people are going to imagine that you are a criminal (or likely to be a criminal) regardless of the choice you have actually made. After all, it might be opined, you’re Italian, and we know about Italians, don’t we ?.

          • Sean II

            “So why shouldn’t I be a bomber if you treat me like one?”

            The thing you’re describing is stereotype threat, & it’s notorious for failing replication.

            It doesn’t exist.

          • Lacunaria

            But that then creates opportunities for tribes which intersect other tribes. The overall problem is one of optimal resource allocation for identifying above average people for each particular purpose.

          • Adam Bowers

            > Single payer advocates, for example, never admit their idea leads to rationing of care.

            I know many supporters of single-payer who not only admit this, but also embrace it. They believe the rationing in that system would be better than rationing by ability to pay.

          • Sean II

            Okay, but please consider the possibility you draw from a very skewed sample.

            The base rate here is “people who know the difference between pricing and queuing”. That is a VERY SMALL number, a subset of the already small set “people who are economically literate”.

            Now subtract “ideologues who don’t want to make single payer sound bad with an ugly word like rationing”. This includes most of the people who speak publicly on that topic, since it is routinely advertised as a trade-off free solution to our health care problems.

            You’re lucky indeed if most of the SP advocates around you are A) smart enough to know pricing vs. queuing, and B) honest enough to call a ration a ration.

            I’d be interested to see how many people you could find demonstrating both A and B publicly.

          • Adam Bowers

            > Okay, but please consider the possibility you draw from a very skewed sample.

            My sample is my colleagues and friends. Many of them are immigrants or naturalized citizens who have direct experiences with multiple healthcare systems. Their professions include biomedical cancer researchers, lawyers, bankers, and a slew of software developers.

            We are quite aware of the pricing vs. queuing argument and understand the trade-offs. I could just as easily use your assertions to say that proponents of a purely free market healthcare system also don’t understand what they are talking about.

            > I’d be interested to see how many people you could find demonstrating both A and B publicly. Probably not *none*, but it seems awfully rare.

            I’m probably being dense, but I’m not sure how this is relevant to your initial statement regarding single-payer proponents.

          • Sean II

            “I could just as easily use your assertions to say that proponents of a purely free market healthcare system also don’t understand what they are talking about.”

            You should, because usually they don’t.

      • DBritt

        I’m not sure many people follow that logical pattern. I think most common is that Murray’s arguments (I’m less familiar with MacDonald) can be used to justify immoral practices such as maintaining lower expectations for students of certain ethnic backgrounds, and thus permitting inadequate education institutions to persist in areas where such people are concentrated. To be clear, I’m not saying Murray advocates this. But that is certainly something his opponents would be concerned with.

        In other words, it’s possible to feel that black and white people have equal moral weight while at the same time justifying to oneself unequal treatment based on an incorrect understanding of the characteristics of those people.

        • Sean II

          I think what Vallier meant by “moral equality” was “equal treatment under the law, in social institutions, etc”

          Cause if it doesn’t mean that, it doesn’t mean much.

          • DBritt

            Agreed, but Murray’s work (or rather the work he discusses) could be used as evidence to argue that an unequal treatment is in fact equal. In other words, the achievement gap was the fault of the students all along.

          • Sean II

            “…the achievement gap was the fault of the students all along.”

            It is, of course. That’s why it never changes, and can’t be fixed.

          • DBritt

            Yay for evidence free claims. I guess higher turnover rates at schools serving students of color, a higher population of inexperienced teachers, higher rates of poverty, etc all add up to an effect of exactly zero.

          • Sean II

            Not exactly zero, just approximately zero. Which is close enough.

            As for evidence-free claims, you gotta to be kidding. The fixity of IQ is one of the most clearly established regularities in all of human behavioral science.

            In this conversation the evidence-free claim is the idea that education can transform minds. There never has been any reason to believe that, except I guess that it sounds nice. But of course that’s not really a reason.

          • DBritt

            > The fixity of IQ is one of the most clearly established regularities in all of human behavioral science.

            Never mind the consistent finding that education has a very strong effect on IQ. I’m not going to be your personal Google on this, but the evidence is overwhelming and easy to find.

            > [You]: “IQ is immutable.”

            “Hey guys, despite the fact that every study that tries to find loci for general intelligence comes up with tens or hundreds of spots with no clear correlation to any ethnicity, and despite the fact that 90% of possible human genetic variation can be found within small ethnically homogenous hamlets, *I have found* the true source of genetic influence in IQ. And get this, it just happens to be linked to heritable traits you can see with your eyes! Those dumb geneticists! Never mind that it’s also a trait that has been correlated to oppression and socio-economic disadvantage for 100s of years. Those influences on the achievement gap approximate to zero because.. we’ll because I say so.”

            You are surprisingly evidence proof. I’m beginning to wonder whether you’re actually an MD or just sort of let me think you were for the purposes of our last conversation.

          • Sean II

            Education has no effect on IQ. Indeed nothing much does. Heritability is around 80% in adults. Shared environment is 0%. The thing in between is chance.

            There are no unconfounded studies that show education increasing IQ. How do you not know that? Even the most dedicated IQ deniers don’t really try that argument.

          • DBritt

            > There are no unconfounded studies that show education increasing IQ. What ever led you to believe there were?

            The fact that I can find them on Google in 2 seconds. PNAS paper titled “Schooling in adolescence raises IQ scores,” open access. I’d post the link but it keeps being flagged as spam.

            This whole argument is such an absurd red herring. Surely you’re familiar with the Flynn effect, which is clearly a *non heritable* and *strong* environmental effect on IQ. Or as a converse example, are you aware that vocabulary size is also highly heritable? Are you going to argue that that is due to genetics? Heritability is not equivalent to genetics! Two black twins raised apart are still black and subject to the associated environmental effects. You would *expect* such studies to miss the boat on this. Raising twins apart doesn’t randomize environment.

            You almost can’t read about this at all without tripping over evidence against your point of view. Are you familiar with summer learning loss? It is a major aspect of the achievement gap. It is the observation that students lose proficiency over the summer. Well, that loss is more pronounced in students of color and students with socioeconomic disadvantage. They actually grow *faster* during the school year on average due to the lower starting point. So are you going to tell me that black people are genetically predisposed to lose information over the summer? Or do you think that might be environmental?

            By your logic we have environmental effects like being in a school with the average teacher experience less than 3 years throughout one’s education approximating zero effect and heritability equaling genetics 100%. All because you decided it does. And somehow we’re back to “the one set of genetic traits I can reliably observe with my eyes also happens to be massively responsible for IQ.” And, just as incorrectly, “IQ is completely responsible for the achievement gap.” Please stop with the pseudoscience.

          • Sean II

            Do you understand what confounded means, in a context like this?

          • DBritt

            Mon frere, you are the one who is making the audacious claim that intelligence variance is caused in an uncomplicated way by genetics, with particular influence of race, and that environmental factors drop to zero. My claim is that that’s poppycock because the situation is more complicated. So it’s a bit rich that you’d wonder if I understand the word “confounded.” Or perhaps your point is that you’re so good at this sort of analysis that you and you alone can sort correlation and causation in this notoriously intractable area. Whatever the case you’ve certainly made a spirited attempt to avoid responding directly to evidence that makes your original claim (the achievement gap is the students’ fault) look like the purest of ignorant snow. As I said above, evidence proof.

          • Sean II

            Let’s try a more specific question.

            Say someone notices that children who live in houses full of books often grow up to be writers.

            So it must be that life in a lexically rich environment both equips and inspires people to write.

            But of course we should try to find out for sure.

            How would you go about that?

          • DBritt

            Question is too open ended. Many possible experimental methodologies each with its own limitations. Just tell me where you’re going with this. And please keep in mind that the burden of proof in this conversation is firmly on you, as you’re the one making the affirmative declarations (the achievement gap is the students’ fault; IQ is responsible for the achievement gap). It’s not on me to design experiments to prove your points for you.

          • Sean II

            Okay, fair enough. Let’s start by listing a couple ways this project could go wrong.

            1) Zero control. We could just count up the number of writers who grew up in book-filled houses, assume causation flows the way we like, look no further, and end with a stirring recommendation for parents to go out and buy more books.

            2) Half-ass control. We could look only a little deeper, maybe try to untangle how much of the effect was specific to “book-filled house” and how much was the intuitively correlated factor of high socio-economic status. Better than nothing, but

            3) Cherry picking. We could avoid mistakes 1) and 2) but err differently by turning out something with a small sample size, or a suspiciously selected one, etc.

            4) Fading effect. We could avoid 1), 2), and 3) but find out that we screwed up big time by stopping our measurement at 22 years, because lots of people may show transient talent/interest in writing at that age, but we’re trying to find out who actually becomes one for the long haul.

            5) Replication failure. We could avoid 1), 2), 3), and 4), publish something that sounds really cool, only to find out no one else gets the same result despite 75 years of trying.

            So here’s the deal with studies finding education => higher IQ. The vast majority of them go no further than mistake 1), simple correlational data which does nothing except rule out the possibility that education is grossly harmful. Of what’s left, you see a mix of mistakes 2), 3), 4), and 5). Stuff like “look at this one case of German GI babies after the war”, but then you notice the population was pre-screened, no one ever got the same result, etc. Or maybe someone says “look at this bunch of Nords who got smarter after compulsory schooling”, but then you realize the last data point was at age 19, which means little because adolescents fluctuate a lot (which isn’t news), and also that something’s amiss since increases in compulsory schooling are common enough that by now there ought to be 1,000 such studies, and there aren’t.

            But back to our hypothetical about home libraries => writers. The only right way to proceed is twin/adoption. We must control for the possibility that people are simply inheriting literary potential from their parents, and that the book filled houses are just a marker for that.

            We do this by finding out what happens when kids from an unlettered pedigree get adopted into a book-filled house, and vice versa. Where possible we look for cases where such things happened to one MZ twin but not another.

            Britt, do you know what happens when we do this? When we do social science the right way? Turns out nearly everything is heritable, and some things quite a lot. Nurture only comes out looking decisive in studies which didn’t bother to control for genes. Unfortunately for the humanities that’s most of everything written in the last 100 years.

            Given this prior probability (big and growing daily) whatever the thing you’re studying is – IQ, alcoholism, athletic talent, neuroticism, crime, etc. – heritability is really the first thing we should check.

            Now, as it happens, IQ has been checked, and it turns out to be among the most heritable things in all human nature: 50%-80%, with shared environment approaching zero once you look past adolescence.

            (Note: in case your not familiar, “shared environment” is the thing people mean when they say something is “environmental”. It’s the part we can vary and control. The third factor, “non-shared environment”, is merely a poor way of describing chance. Which is why Steve Pinker, who knows a bit about both heredity and language, suggested we retire that term.)

          • DBritt

            As I said before, heritability does not equal genetics.

            > The only right way to proceed is twin/adoption.

            This is just #6 on your list. Better than the ones before it, but still not “right.” It only *seeks* to control for one environmental effect: the particular family environment. It doesn’t even *seek* to control for the many other effects. (As written above, black twins who are adopted are still black.) Besides which, being adopted doesn’t *randomize* family environment. The family is self-selecting (they wanted to adopt, they passed the checks, etc). So you have differentiated *but not randomized* family environment. And you have not done anything about other non-family related environment. Especially you have not done anything about race, which doesn’t go away when you get adoptive parents.

            So based on this heritability (but not genetic!) evidence you still think that the one set of traits you can see with your eye (which is looking more suspicious by the moment, given that you can’t control for it with adoption) largely governs IQ. All the while no actual geneticist can find the link to race. Even more suspicious. Consumer products can tell you your race, but they sure has hell can’t predict your intelligence. And you still haven’t explained to me why you think vocabulary size is based in genetics.. or you have to concede that heritability does not equal genetics.

          • DBritt

            The Disqus spam filter seems to have a serious false positive problem. Here is attempt number three to post. Let’s see if I can get it through.

            > The only right way to proceed is twin/adoption.

            This is just #6 on your list. Better than the ones before it, but still not “right.” It only *seeks* to control for one environmental effect: the particular family environment. It doesn’t even *seek* to control for the many other effects. (As written above, black twins who are adopted are still black.) Besides which, being adopted doesn’t *randomize* family environment. The family is self-selecting (they wanted to adopt, they passed the checks, etc). So you have differentiated *but not randomized* family environment. And you have not done anything about other non-family related environment. Especially you have not done anything about race, which doesn’t go away when you get adoptive parents.

            So based on this heritability (but not genetic!) evidence you still think that the one set of traits you can see with your eye (which is looking more suspicious by the moment, given that you can’t control for it with adoption) largely governs IQ. All the while no actual geneticist can find the link to race. Even more suspicious. Consumer products can tell you your ethnicity, but they sure has hell can’t predict your intelligence. And you still haven’t explained to me why you think vocabulary size is based in genetics.. or you have to concede that heritability, as observed in all non-genetic studies we can do, does not equal genetics.

          • Sean II

            I thought I saw a response last night, but then it vanished. I can see it now though. I’ve never been able to figure out what triggers DIsqus to do that. Maybe something to do with irregular punctuation. I don’t know. Anyway:

            1) “Heritability does not equal genetics.”

            Not sure what you’re trying to say here. Genes are a unit of heredity. That’s the definition.

            2) “It only *seeks* to control for one environmental effect: the particular family environment.”

            Not true. An adopted kid doesn’t just get a new family. He gets a new town, a new school, new friends, etc. Don’t tell me you’ve never seen Diff’rent Strokes?

            3) “So you have differentiated *but not randomized* family environment.”

            True to some extent, but there’s no need to randomize when we already know which environments are more desirable, and when the selection process invariably favors those.

            What are you hoping for here? That low IQ kids who fail to get smarter being adopted by approved middle class families might somehow fare better if only we allowed them to be adopted by randomly chosen hillbilly scuzzballs instead? That seems unlikely enough I’m okay if we never check.

            4) “you still think that the one set of traits you can see with your eye… largely governs IQ”

            What are talking about here? Race? a) Race is not “one trait”. b) No one said it “largely governs IQ”. Race is a cluster of things, usually a difference in quantity among traits everyone has, but where this group has a touch more, that one a bit less, of whatever it is. Meanwhile IQ seems to be very polygenic with a few rare variants that are capable of altering it a lot, but only in the wrong direction, i.e. downward.

            5) “As written above, black twins who are adopted are still black”

            Like I said at the beginning, these viewpoints are converging. One side says the race gap is stable because mostly genetic. Another says the race gap is stable because no matter how much racism declines, the amount of racism leftover is just as fatal to upward progress. White privilege theory does precisely this. It’s a way of saying “every kind of racism we can measure has gone down, but the alleged effects of racism (i.e. the gap) remain. Solution: there must be a secret kind of racism that we cannot measure, which never goes down.”

            Or to put it another way:

            Environmental explanation 1965: “Population X lags population Y by a full standard deviation because of pellagra, lead poisoning, parasite load, fetal teratogenicity, and relentlessly violent discrimination against X in all areas of life”.

            Environmental explanation 2017: “Population X lags population Y by a full standard deviation because we haven’t managed to eliminate racism in its last vestiges of…occasional social awkwardness directed against X”.

            You see what I’m saying? This is really starting to sound like two groups, each in their own different way, saying “get used to this gap, it ain’t going anywhere”.

          • DBritt

            You’ve got the problems with the adoption studies backward. You’re taking twins with the same genetic material, the same prenatal environment, who are then adopted into families with self-selecting characteristics and then you find their IQs are similar. Shocker! I don’t deny that there is a genetic component to intelligence. In fact, I’m willing to concede that it is likely the largest component. But when I say “heredity isn’t genetics” what I mean is “heredity, as understood by these studies, isn’t capturing *only* genetics.” It’s capturing lots of other non-genetic “heredity” too.

            > Like I said at the beginning, these viewpoints are converging.

            I strongly reject the idea of “this is where the science seems to be headed, so I’ll just skip a step and believe an as-yet-unsupported conclusion.” That is a terrible way to do things. Of course I reject that the science is headed that way, but even if I accepted that it doesn’t mean we get to jump to an unsupported conclusion.

            You give this lovely list of racial inequities that have supposedly been “cured.” But childhood blood lead remained ~5x higher in the black population in the mid-90s. Children born after that haven’t reached the age where an IQ test is reliable, per your own standards. But even if they had, the “blood lead” gap remains at 3x today. Black people have more than 2x the infant mortality rate today (not sure about the 90s). The life expectancy gap in the 90s was more than 5 years and of course persists today, though it is closing. Show me a population level health statistic and I’ll show you a race gap. Same with education. Same with housing. Same with access to credit and capital. Same with effing everything. The idea that structural racism can be boiled down to “occasional social awkwardness” is just blatant disregard for what’s in front of your face. Now before you object I get that access to capital does not determine IQ. What I’m trying to get across here is that your broader vision of racial inequality in the United States is so wrong as to be negligent.

            So, back again to my primary objection. Non-genetic “heredity” plagues these twin studies. It is a permanent fixture, and the literature acknowledges that. But you do not. Well it turns out that a person’s race is one of the most important features that you cannot control in these studies. It is also linked to the most important non-genetics aspects of “heredity” (again, defined as that which is observed in heredity studies). How is it possible that you’re willing to jump to the conclusion that the observed IQ race gap is due solely to the genetic features associated with race? It’s just a ridiculous conclusion on its face. If the twin studies were to fail *in any way* it would be in this exact way. You should *expect* this result rather than be surprised by it and update your beliefs to “black people are genetically stupider.”

          • DBritt

            Good god, attempt number four. I’m going to break it up into smaller pieces with this header at the top of each (1/3). You’ve got the problems with the adoption studies backward. You’re taking twins with the same genetic material, the same prenatal environment, who are then adopted into families with self-selecting characteristics and then you find their IQs are similar. It only stands to reason. I don’t deny that there is a genetic component to intelligence. In fact, I’m willing to concede that it is likely the largest component. But when I say “heredity isn’t genetics” what I mean is “heredity, as understood by these studies, isn’t capturing -only- genetics.” It’s capturing lots of other non-genetic “heredity” too.

          • DBritt

            Good god, attempt number four. I’m going to break it up into smaller pieces with this header at the top of each (2/3). Regarding your statement: “Like I said at the beginning, these viewpoints are converging.”
            I strongly reject the idea of “this is where the science seems to be headed, so I’ll just skip a step and believe an as-yet-unsupported conclusion.” That is a terrible way to do things. Of course I reject that the science is headed that way, but even if I accepted that it doesn’t mean we get to jump to an unsupported conclusion.
            You give this list of racial inequities that have supposedly been “cured.” But childhood blood lead remained ~5x higher in the black population in the mid-90s. Children born after that haven’t reached the age where an IQ test is reliable, per your own standards. But even if they had, the “blood lead” gap remains at 3x today. Black people have more than 2x the infant mortality rate today (not sure about the 90s). The life expectancy gap in the 90s was more than 5 years and of course persists today, though it is closing. Show me a population level health statistic and I’ll show you a race gap. Same with education. Same with housing. Same with access to credit and capital. Same with effing everything. The idea that structural racism can be boiled down to “occasional social awkwardness” is just blatant disregard for what’s in front of your face. Now before you object I get that access to capital does not determine IQ. What I’m trying to get across here is that your broader vision of racial inequality in the United States is so wrong as to be negligent.

          • DBritt

            Good god, attempt number four. I’m going to break it up into smaller pieces with this header at the top of each (3/3). So, back again to my primary objection. Non-genetic “heredity” plagues these twin studies. It is a permanent fixture, and the literature acknowledges that. But you do not. Well it turns out that a person’s race is one of the most important features that you cannot control in these studies. It is also linked to the most important non-genetics aspects of “heredity” (again, defined as that which is observed in heredity studies). How is it possible that you’re willing to jump to the conclusion that the observed IQ race gap is due solely to the genetic features associated with race? If the twin studies were to fail in any way it would be in this exact way. We should -expect- this result rather than be surprised by it and update your beliefs to “black people are genetically stupider.”

          • Sean II

            Looks like the filter struck again. Pretty sure I got a response alert, but when I went to check there was no reply. Wish I knew how to stop that from happening.

          • DBritt

            Boy they’re really making me work for it. Searching around it looks like lots of paragraphs breaks may be a problem. Let’s give it a try with less whitespace.
            You’ve got the problems with the adoption studies backward. You’re taking twins with the same genetic material, the same prenatal environment, who are then adopted into families with self-selecting characteristics and then you find their IQs are similar. It only stands to reason. I don’t deny that there is a genetic component to intelligence. In fact, I’m willing to concede that it is likely the largest component. But when I say “heredity isn’t genetics” what I mean is “heredity, as understood by these studies, isn’t capturing -only- genetics.” It’s capturing lots of other non-genetic “heredity” too.
            Regarding your statement: “Like I said at the beginning, these viewpoints are converging.”
            I strongly reject the idea of “this is where the science seems to be headed, so I’ll just skip a step and believe an as-yet-unsupported conclusion.” That is a terrible way to do things. Of course I reject that the science is headed that way, but even if I accepted that it doesn’t mean we get to jump to an unsupported conclusion.
            You give this list of racial inequities that have supposedly been “cured.” But childhood blood lead remained ~5x higher in the black population in the mid-90s. Children born after that haven’t reached the age where an IQ test is reliable, per your own standards. But even if they had, the “blood lead” gap remains at 3x today. Black people have more than 2x the infant mortality rate today (not sure about the 90s). The life expectancy gap in the 90s was more than 5 years and of course persists today, though it is closing. Show me a population level health statistic and I’ll show you a race gap. Same with education. Same with housing. Same with access to credit and capital. Same with effing everything. The idea that structural racism can be boiled down to “occasional social awkwardness” is just blatant disregard for what’s in front of your face. Now before you object I get that access to capital does not determine IQ. What I’m trying to get across here is that your broader vision of racial inequality in the United States is so wrong as to be negligent.
            So, back again to my primary objection. Non-genetic “heredity” plagues these twin studies. It is a permanent fixture, and the literature acknowledges that. But you do not. Well it turns out that a person’s race is one of the most important features that you cannot control in these studies. It is also linked to the most important non-genetics aspects of “heredity” (again, defined as that which is observed in heredity studies). How is it possible that you’re willing to jump to the conclusion that the observed IQ race gap is due solely to the genetic features associated with race? If the twin studies were to fail in any way it would be in this exact way. We should -expect- this result rather than be surprised by it and update your beliefs to “black people are genetically stupider.”

          • King Goat

            “Whatever the case you’ve certainly made a spirited attempt to avoid responding directly to evidence”

            DBritt, Sean is going to debate with you in the most coy fashion imaginable. Just fair warning. He’s got a Gnostic truth (though one that was Establishment (TM) back in the day) that makes him an iconoclast rebel and others faint hearted reality denialists, why risk that with direct debate?

          • DBritt

            Thanks for the warning 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know why I feel compelled to follow these conversations out. But if someone is writing from a place of sincerely held belief I dislike breaking off unless the discussion gets to the point where you can’t even follow it anymore.

          • Lacunaria

            I’m not so sure. “equal treatment under the law” strikes me as different from “equal treatment in all social institutions”. Tribes can have different propensities for crimes and thereby be considered morally unequal, but still be treated equally under the law.

          • Sean II

            “Tribes can have different propensities for crimes and thereby be considered morally unequal, but still be treated equally under the law”

            In procedural justice terms, yes.

            But not by the lights of distributive justice. People applying that standard won’t be able to accept the resulting difference in rates of police contact, arrest, incarceration, etc.

            You don’t have to look far for a specimen. This blog’s own JT Levy, for example, thinks along those lines.

      • Theresa Klein

        It’s possible that, human beings, being predisposed to tribalism and also not equal in intelligence, there are going to be a lot of people who can’t grasp the distinction between between behavioral inequality and moral inequality. So if society acknowledges behavioral inequality, you’re going to inevitably end up with more tribalism and the dominant tribe (or at least the stupider members thereof) is going to end up regarding the less dominant tribe as morally inferior.

        • Lacunaria

          Which behavior is unequal and what is the nature of the moral inferiority?

          For example, is the tribal behavior a propensity toward unjust violence?

          If treatment under the law is nevertheless equal, does that imply moral equality or are you asserting that any claim that the tribe is morally inferior due to their propensity for unjust violence is wrong?

  • Sean II

    “Most people will admit, when pressed, that their beliefs are based on their unique life experiences.”

    This overlooks a very important possibility for anyone interested in the roots of disagreement.

    Many stories of the form “we can see that B causes C” end with the discovery that “A causes both B and C”.

    That is quite likely here. What if it’s not that people’s life experiences shape their beliefs, but that their nature shapes both?

    For instance, a person with low future orientation will frequently put himself in situations where he is indebted and broke. Talking to such a person we may notice that he supports policies like usury bans, debt forgiveness, subsidized loans, general redistribution of wealth, etc.

    Now it is surely tempting to conclude that his experience of poverty is what caused him to favor those policies, but it’s really more likely that his low future orientation is the common cause behind both. In life he does things that feel good now, with no thought for the morrow. And in politics he favors things that sound good now, with no fear for unintended long-run consequences.

    One big thing this explanation has on its side: prior probability. Our best evidence consistently shows high heritability for behavioral traits AND political attitudes.

    In other words, this should be the default position: it’s not that our experiences shaped our attitudes, it’s that both are largely pre-shaped for us.

  • IEIUNUS

    Don’t you dare assume that I assume political disagreements are unreasonable!

  • Francis Gallblather

    Vallier’s framework makes it too easy to just put something in the unreasonable column and declare victory. e.g. Why should we consider Catholicism rational and racialism irrational? Or more closely, why is this very type of question pushed aside when it is (almost always) the elephant in the room. John Anomaly is a BHL and racialist. Munger brought him in here. Should they be banned from making the case for racialism? At least the racialists make an effort to look like empiricists and scientists. Catholics can’t really do that. Faith does not (have to) play by rules of rationality, reasonableness, logic, or science.

    So by what criteria is reasonableness decided? Who gets to decide? Why wouldn’t religion get the boot before (pseudo)science?

    • Sean II

      Because religion is close to a universal intuition, appearing in every place and time known to history.

      Whereas belief in group differences was unheard of until West Europeans invented racism in 1492.