Now that we’ve gotten a few of the philosophical issues out of the way in the first entry of this series, it’s time to proceed to a discussion of the basic scientific concepts involved in human biodiversity. If you didn’t read that first entry, its central point could be summarized as follows:
A lot of people think that if you say people are the way they are more because of nature than nurture, then that entails believing that they deserve whatever they get even, if they are suffering because of their station in life. They think that someone who wants people to be made as equal as possible will for that reason have to believe that the differences between people are a result of their environments or upbringings rather than their genetics, and only someone who opposes the desire for equality could believe that human nature poses an obstacle to making people equal by making their environments equal. Therefore, if somebody believes that this statement is true, it can only be because they are a bad person with very poor values and morals.
However, all of this is false, because all of it is rooted in conflating facts with values. What we have, in reality, are claims about what is true on the one hand, and feelings about what we ought to do about it on the other. And what people want to do is going to be determined by what kind of people they are, not by what they happen to believe is true about the causes of peoples’ differences. You can think people are made the way they are by nurture rather than nature and still basically not give a damn about making them all equal, and you can think people are made the way they are by nature rather than nurture and still want to find ways to increase human equality however you still can (perhaps even by applying gene therapy directly). Both of these are perfectly logical possibilities, because facts and values are separate kinds of things. If someone cares about another person’s suffering from disease because they are the kind of person who cares, then it won’t matter to them whether that disease turns out to be genetic or viral. So you, the reader, had better be prepared not to let your feelings about what kind of society you want get in the way of what I’m about to explain to you about what is true, because it’s up to you decide what you want to do about it once I’ve shown you what the facts actually are. Even if I convince you that the argument that I’m going to make is true, and you come to agree with me, you won’t have to therefore sign on to the Alt Right’s overall political agenda; indeed, you can even continue being a Left-wing liberal, if it turns out that that is still what you want. The truth of what I aim to prove in this series stands completely irrespective of whether we in our ultimate political goals. As we move forward, I’ll be illustrating this with a variety of concrete examples.
To address a concern held by some of the constructive critics of that essay, it was a bit of a misnomer to title that first entry, “Human Biodiversity for Normies.” The aim of the series as a whole is to lay out the concepts and information that one would need in order to understand human biodiversity as a whole, while avoiding a number of common, predictable pitfalls and fallacies that tend to stand in the way of people doing so. Since the requisite concepts as well as these pitfalls and fallacies will all vary in complexity, I’m aiming for something that will ultimately work quite well both for “normies” and for relatively more intelligent liberals who have never been exposed to an intelligent argument from our side. That introduction was obviously necessary more for the sake of the potentially reasonable liberal than it is for the “normie.” But with this entry, we’re back into territory that should serve perfectly well as the beginning of an introduction for actual normies, even if they couldn’t follow the first entry, or found it too complicated or verbose. The downside of this approach is that any one person who tries to read the series from beginning to end will either find some pieces of it over their heads or else other parts too basic and oversimplified, but the upside is that mixing and matching pieces of interest should also make this a versatile series that can be adapted to many different needs.
This essay was originally going to offer a basic introduction to the meaning of “race,” and a range of concepts related to IQ such as the meaning of such basic fundamental concepts as “g” and “heredity.” However, the entry on “race” ended up being long enough to qualify as its own entry. In any case, this is a topic where even the most intelligent liberals are quite often stuck at a “normie” level of understanding regarding even the basics. I imagine that little of this will be new to my “choir” in the Alt Right, but I hope to at least be able to add at least a few fresh perspectives and insights in along the way – at least by introducing you to a few new rhetorical strategies – to keep you interested while I attempt to reach a new audience.
What is “race”?
Somehow, even this simple question has become a topic of controversy and confusion in the modern world. Some people will tell you that scientists have discovered that race is just a “social construct.” Now, when a Leftist or liberal says this, they clearly imply that if this were true, it would mean that race isn’t a real thing. But they obviously aren’t even thinking particularly hard about what a “social construct” is, because even if race is a social construct, that doesn’t inherently mean that it can’t also be a real thing.
I’ll illustrate an example of what a social construct is, and explain why being a social construct doesn’t always make something “unreal”: the color spectrum. In an important sense, the color spectrum is a social construct, because where we define the boundaries between “red,” “orange,” and “yellow” is up to us. In fact, even the fact that we define three major boundaries along this spectrum (from “red” to “orange” to “yellow”) instead of two (from “red” to “yellow,” cutting “orange” in half to divide between them) or two dozen (from “mahogany” all the way through “marigold,” with no groupings of these into “red” or “yellow” at all) is a matter of basically arbitrary social convention.
Similarly, advocates of the “race is a social construct” argument will point out that earlier in American history, anyone who had even “one drop” of black blood was classified as black. Is someone with ninety-nine drops of white blood and one drop of black blood black or white? Even if there is a “correct” answer, that answer is only “correct” because of conventions that we came up with – and could change if we wanted. Indeed, the historical American “one drop rule” is reversed in modern Brazil, where anyone who has even one drop of white blood is classified by society as “white.”
This is what people are referring to when they say that race is a “social construct”: that to some extent, people have defined it in different ways at different times. But they follow this point up with the bizarre interpretation that because people have defined the boundaries between the races in different ways over time, there is therefore no truth about what “race” to which a person belongs besides an arbitrary label.
This is like noticing that in English that a certain animal is called a duck, whereas in Spanish it is called patos, and then concluding that there’s no truth as to whether the thing being referred to by these different names is a duck or an airplane.
Even as the boundaries between “red,” “orange,” and “yellow” are defined by us and created by social convention, the colors labeled by those words are not. Whether we divide this piece of the color spectrum up into a spectrum from red to yellow, or from red to orange to yellow, or from crimson and mahogany to persimmon and orange peel to merigold and aureolin, the colors that are being named and divided up by these terms are still obviously real. Nothing about the fact that our color spectrum is a social construct entails that there is no difference between the colors which are being labeled by the terms red, orange, and yellow themselves. And the fact that racial categories are “socially constructed” (which they are) does not entail that human populations and the differences between them aren’t real, either (and they aren’t).
That’s why a somewhat more intelligent liberal won’t rely on just the “social construct” argument alone. They’ll use it, but they’ll add to it that the idea of race is meaningless because we now know there to be more variation between the people collected within racial groups than there is between people standing across racial divisions. In other words, according to some formulations of this argument, you are likely to have greater genetic similarity with a randomly chosen person from outside of your “race” than you are with a randomly chosen person within your “race.”
The old response to this was to name the fallacy contained within its reasoning: Lewontin’s Fallacy.
An example which illustrates this fallacy would go something like this: if we look at the range of how short or tall men can be, and then we look at the range of how short or tall women can be, those ranges are much larger than the difference between the shortest men and women, or the tallest men and women. Thus, it is also true that there is “more variation in height between the people within a given gender than there is between the genders.” However, this does not change the fact that men are significantly taller than women on average, or that it is useful to know this. Despite the fact that the “more variation in x feature within-group than between groups” applies here as well, it nonetheless does not change the observable fact that men are indeed taller than women, on average. Supposing we had a roller coaster ride with a height requirement of 6’2”, and we saw more men taking the ride than women, the fact that men are taller than women on average would most likely be a crucial part of the explanation why.
So even if the premise of that argument had been true, its conclusion that race is meaningless still wouldn’t have followed. Even if the absolute variation within your race was larger than the absolute variation between your race and another, there could still be significant differences on average between the average member of your race and the average member of the other which it would be useful to know if you were trying to figure out why some difference in net social outcome was occurring between them.
However, more recently we’ve also begun establishing conclusively that the premise was always false to begin with. It turns out that the genetic differences found between the races are, in fact, bigger than the differences found within them.
See here for a short discussion of that fact from an Asian physicist, and here for a few more charts from the same physicist illustrating the genetic clustering of Nigerians, Europeans, and Asians. These charts look at the sequence of genes in a person’s genome rather than just considering the genes in isolation. Guess what happens when they do that? They find literally no genetic overlap between the races at all. So why does Stephen Hsu’s analysis here seem to find a different result than others have?
Thanks to research conducted at the University of Cambridge, we’ve recently learned that even when people have the same type of cancer, resulting from the same genetic mutations, the order in which they developed those mutations still changes the way the cancer behaves and how responsive the patient is to therapy which targets the mutated genes. And according to research conducted by Joseph Nadeau at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, certain traits in mice appear to be influenced by genes that show up in their parents’ or grandparents’ chromosomes, but which do not show up in their own. After conducting a study in which two female mice had identical sets of genes, but who had a father whose Y chromosomes (which should not have been inherited by the females, and as far as they could tell, aren’t) came from a different strain of mice, they discovered that these offspring had behavioral patterns which more closely resembled that strain’s normal behavior, and they concluded that the “transgenerational genetic effects rival conventional genetics in frequency and strength.”
Elsewhere, Nadeau has studied gene-gene interaction directly.
To illustrate how complicated this idea is, Nadeau hops out of his chair and rushes over to the whiteboard in his office, where he quickly sketches out how these “completely crazy” context-dependent effects can act even within a single chromosome. The experiments focus on a genetic variant they have identified on chromosome 6 in the A/J mice that completely protects the animal against obesity. When they drop the chromosome into Black 6 mice, they too are protected against obesity. But it’s not that simple. When researchers stitch a bit of the DNA from the A/J strain into a large section of chromosome 6 in the Black 6 mice, the resulting mice are obese. When they trim away some of the Black 6 DNA and replace it with more A/J DNA, the resistance gene becomes active and the mice are lean. But when they add even more A/J DNA to this hybrid chromosome, the resistance gene turns off again. This on-off genetics continues even when the researchers add or subtract extremely small portions of chromosome 6. In fact, no matter how small the patch of DNA, nibbling away at it alternately confers or erases resistance to obesity. The reason is not known, but the larger message is that the effect of any variant seems to depend on its genetic surroundings. “We see that effect all the time,” Nadeau says. “All the time! Everywhere, in every trait we look at.”
Greater estimates of the degree to which different human populations are genetically similar look only at the genes in isolation. But this is like saying that the Bible and Atlas Shrugged must be basically the same book since they contain all of the same letters. In both cases, the sequences those segments are arranged in matters a whole lot more than anything else. The different genomes of the human race may contain most of the same letters, but it turns out that the sequences they’re arranged in are different enough to transmit quite different biological messages – just like with words and letters in novels. We’ll discuss more about what those differences are, and how confident we can be that they do in fact partially result from genetic differences, later; for now, the only point that we need to establish is that such differences do exist. In order to understand the magnitude of differences and where they lie, we will obviously have to go deeper than we are here.
Back to Basics
Before I had attained any proper understanding of this subject which went beyond the standard liberal platitudes, a writer by the name of Steve Sailer served as my own “normie introduction” to sane thinking about race. The way Sailer explained race very quickly made me feel like an idiot for ever having bought into these platitudes at all. The way Steve Sailer explains it in his Race FAQ, race is just literally a very extended family. How extended? Going back to our arguments concerning “social constructs,” wouldn’t the degree to which we decided to stretch the extended family before marking a limit and calling what we’ve circled a “racial” group arbitrary? Actually, no. The relevant point at which a “racial” group emerges is the point at which the extended group you’re looking at is large enough to be considered somewhat “inbred” compared to the rest of the human population, yet small enough that there is still a “rest of the human population” left. The definition of “race” is therefore relative, but not arbitrary.
Yet even without the added nuance involved in explaining where to cut off the “extendedness” of the extended family, the simple point that race is an “extended family” was all that it took to cut through a great deal of the pedantic bullshit I had been conditioned to think and say about race. It was more than obvious to me even then, no matter how deeply I had been indoctrinated with Leftist ideas, that it wasn’t a “social construct” to say that I belonged to an extended family. On the level of common sense alone, it was also pretty obvious that all the members of my extended family were more like each other in many ways on average than they were like people who weren’t related to us at all. If someone were actually neurotic enough to pose the argument to me that there is more variation within my extended family than there is between my family and others, it wouldn’t take much study for me to suspect that this was probably some kind of bullshit right off the bat.
Of course, the argument is even weaker for a racial group than it would be for a smaller extended family, because in normal circumstances where literal inbreeding is not prevalent, the members of smaller “extended families” are not shuffling genes more frequently among themselves (at least, not more than once) than they are with the outside: by definition, every new mating partner in a small “extended family” comes from “outside” the extended family. But if you keep expanding the tree of that extended family far enough into the past, you would reach a point where this is no longer true – where on average, the members of that tree are mating among themselves more often than they are with “the outside.” And this would be the point at which you had identified a “racial group.” The technical term for this is “pedigree collapse,” but I’ll leave further discussion of that term to Sailer himself. If you want to find deeper explanations regarding where the cutoff points between “racial” groupings are, and why they are not arbitrary, this is the term you’re looking for, and Sailer’s discussion of it should be illuminating.
This answers questions about how large or small a group has to be before qualifying as a “racial group” – questions about how closely we can zoom in on the fine differences between individuals while still calling those individual differences “racial” – perfectly. Every time you can extend a family tree back far enough to have identified a group which is relatively more “inbred” than it is with people from outside that tree, you have identified a group which is shuffling genes among itself which will therefore end up being more common inside of that group than they are outside of it. If Montana were cut off from the rest of the United States due to exposed fault lines for several generations, and the population of Montana thus bred within itself exclusively during that period, you would have a population whose members would become increasingly more genetically similar to each other and increasingly more dissimilar to the outside – even if the people you started with had, at that time, belonged to different racial categories. After a while, you would be able to recognize Montanans by distinct similarities in their appearances, and these similarities would begin to correlate with things like adaptation to high elevations above sea level. Eventually, the differences would become great enough that, in fact, a new Montanan “race” would have been created.
In retrospect, this should always have been obvious. There’s no other way for a different racial group to evolve in the first place other than through something that looks much like this process.
In his Race FAQ, Sailer dispatches pseudo-questions such as, “If races exist, how can somebody belong to more than one race?” with incredible common-sense efficiency: “If extended families exist, how can you belong to your mother’s extended family and to your father’s extended family?” I think everyone reading this understands the reproductive process well enough to realize that someone can only be mixed-race by having parents who are of mixed races. So in the case of the children of mixed–race parents, the pseudo-question and Sailer’s retort literally collapse into being exactly the same question. “If races exist, how can somebody belong to more than one race?” Well, if families exist, how can a mixed-race child have a white family and a black family? The punchline effect of his response reminds me of an old joke about a motorist who was stopped after speeding as part of a group of several speeding cars, and who is offended that the officer stopped him while letting all the other speeding motorists get away. The officer asks him, “Have you ever gone fishing?” The motorist responds, “Yes,” and the officer replies, “Did you ever catch all of the fish?”
With common-sense quips this direct, you don’t have to have the implication spelled out for you in order to see the point for yourself – unless you really are an idiot. That’s the level of obviousness and simplicity to which Sailer has distilled the concept of race. And that was the small beginning of significant shifts in how I came to understand the world as a whole.
Actually, the influence of race was obvious enough on the most visceral level even within my own extended family. When one of my cousins gave birth to a white child while another gave birth to a mixed-race, part-black child at the same time, the part-black child was walking around and trying to play-fight with the white child even while the white child was hardly beginning to crawl. During a series of family gatherings, the difference couldn’t have been more obvious. And the explanation clearly could not have been that they were receiving different nutrition, or that they were living in different socioeconomic strata. For that to even make sense as a postulate, the theory would have to be that receiving worse nutrition and living in poorer conditions accelerated black infants’ motor development. But in this case, I knew from observation that they were not being raised in environments that differed in any meaningful way. They were both spending the greater bulk of their time together, at the home where we had these family gatherings. They were even being fed the same brand of formula. In every way, their upbringings were effectively identical – and yet this extremely obvious difference had emerged nonetheless.
As I studied the science of race, I discovered that it had actually been a very well-supported piece of knowledge for a very long time that black infants do, in fact, develop motor skills faster, especially during their first year of life. Even though they’re born faster and require shorter gestation times in their mothers’ wombs, studies still consistently find that they are able to raise and hold their heads up sooner, sit steadily without help sooner, learn to walk sooner, and so on down the list of just about every benchmark of motor development that can be studied scientifically. These differences show up not only from birth, but in fact, even beforehand; while only a third of white children are born by thirty-nine weeks, fully half of black children are. And once half of white children have been born in week forty, a whopping seventy percent of black children have. And yet, despite how much faster they leave the womb, and thus how much less time they have to develop prior to infancy, they still pass every benchmark of motor skill development in infancy more quickly as well. This is a remarkable, large, and biologically-influenced “racial” difference that shows up worldwide in populations from different racial groups, no matter what country they’re found in, from the very moment of birth – nay, before it.
In retrospect, it seems absolutely remarkable now that it took so much science for me to finally just admit what I had been seeing with my own eyes. Why had I ever been afraid of admitting it, when it had been so obvious? The only reason I could give is that admitting that people innately differ – for any reason at all, whether race was one of the variables in the explanation or not – felt vaguely threatening to the generally liberal worldview I held at the time. Back then, I couldn’t even have articulated why, because there wasn’t really any coherent thought behind it. I guess I just knew that I enjoyed carrying the instinct to see differences in people as an excuse to look for some big, bad villain to direct righteous anger towards – and the thought that people might innately differ from each other in any way threw a fly into that cocktail of intoxicating righteousness, so it simply wasn’t something that I wanted to devote any of my time or energy toward thinking about one way or another.
I don’t think the story of my evolution is uncommon. I think the trends that caused me to think and feel in the way that I did are exerting the same influence upon others’ minds, too. I think the same facts that changed my mind will be more than sufficient to change those of others, also. And I think I can demonstrate that whether you regard yourself as someone who supports the Alt Right’s political programs in part, in whole, or not at all, there really is nothing to be afraid – even if you do want to demonize the Alt Right’s politics, it is illegitimate and unfair to demonize the concept of human biodiversity itself. Suppose we lived in a world where white activists were in a panic over the fact that white infants are developing motor skills more slowly compared to black ones, and thus demanded the establishment of a welfare institution to provide white infants assistance in order to grow faster.
And now suppose that we discovered something which we already know is true today: that this difference results primarily from innate biological differences between white and black infants that appear everywhere, no matter what environment they grow up in, throughout the world. Would white children be harmed if people came to acknowledge this? Obviously not. If we cared about the development of white children, we would simply stop wasting our time on what had objectively been a dead end, and find some other means of helping white children that would actually have a realistic chance of helping them. Whether we cared about white children or not, then – indeed, no matter what it is that we care about – understanding the true nature of the facts can only provide us with more efficient means for achieving more of our own goals, and wasting less of our time. Whatever those goals may be.