NeoEugenics: Curiosity or Game‐changer?

A more interesting question is: a more or less egalitarian (not-so-distant) future? (Once the genetic architecture of egalitarianism itself is cracked, this question will take on an even more delicious dimension.)


Shulman, C., & Bostrom, N. (2014).
Embryo Selection for Cognitive Enhancement: Curiosity or Game‐changer?. Global Policy, 5(1), 85-92.

Abstract: Human capital is an important determinant of individual and aggregate economic outcomes, and a major input to scientific progress. It has been suggested that advances in genomics may open up new avenues to enhance human intellectual abilities genetically, complementing environmental interventions such as education and nutrition. One way to do this would be via embryo selection in the context of in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this article, we analyze the feasibility, timescale, and possible societal impacts of embryo selection for cognitive enhancement. We find that embryo selection, on its own, may have significant (but likely not drastic) impacts over the next 50 years, though large effects could accumulate over multiple generations. However, there is a complementary technology – stem cell-derived gametes – which has been making rapid progress and which could amplify the impact of embryo selection, enabling very large changes if successfully applied to humans.

neoeugenicpossibilites

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Idiocy of Race Denialism

I presently lack the patience needed to write out a formal critique of this gross stupidity; so I will merely reference my many rebuttals of denialist arguments which are strewn across the comment sections of the following blog posts and review:

re: philosophers Massimo Pigliucci and Jonathan Kaplan

http://scientiasalon.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/on-the-biology-of-race/comment-page-1/#comment-3064

(see also Jayman’s)

re: anthropologist Jennifer Raff

http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/05/21/nicholas-wade-and-race-building-a-scientific-facade/

re: some guy

http://online.wsj.com/public/page/reader-comments.html?baseDocId=SB10001424052702303380004579521482247869874&headline=Book%20Review%3A%20%27A%20Troublesome%20Inheritance%27%20by%20Nicholas%20Wade

The level of sophomoric sophism is simply mind boggling.

Continue reading

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Bootleg Copy of “A Troublesome Inheritance”

Here.

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Why Racialism is Sensible: A Pithy Rejoinder to The Prussian

What is Racialism

The Prussian recently wrote a lengthy critique of “racialism”. His central thesis was that:

Biology, and to a lesser extent, genetics, has a powerful influence on individual human life but at the group level it is overshadowed by culture and social institutions.

While he doesn’t precisely define his meaning, he implies that “racialism” is the view that genes condition important outcome differences between racial groups. Here I will briefly add to the points made by Sean Last and Bulbasaur of The Right Stuff and explain why racialism makes sense.

Under What Condition is Racialism True

To show that racialism, so defined, is true one only needs to show that between the said racial groups genetic differences condition practically important outcome differences. Some specific racialist positions might be false but if some are true, racialism as such stands vindicated. In this case, the racial groups under consideration are regional ones (e.g., N.E. Asians, Europeans, West Africans, etc.).

This formulation perhaps does injustice to the situation. After all, there are racialists out there who imagine an endless variety of large regional racial difference (e.g., in personality traits such as conscientiousness, neuroticism, psychopathology, moral looseness, collectivism, and so on) that jointly condition outcome differences. Let us call this view de Gobineauism and tentatively define it as the view that (a) between regional races, individuals differ in a multitude of socially important behavioral traits by at least a moderate amount (per social science standards), (b) that these trait differences condition at least moderate sized outcome differences, and that (b) genes explain a large portion of the trait difference. In this situation race differences would be like individual differences writ large — as individuals do differ in a multitude of traits and as these differences are large, highly genetically conditioned, and practically important.

Let us distinguish this position from narrow racial hereditarianism and define this as the view that (a) regional races differ in some behavioral traits by at least a moderate amount, (b) that these trait differences condition at least moderate sized practically important outcomes differences, and that (c) genes explain a substantial portion of these trait differences. We can also add a third positions called racial geneticism which we can define as the view that (a) regional races differ on the populational level in outcomes by at least a moderate amount due to the aggregate direct and indirect effects of genetically conditioned individual level trait differences. Racial geneticism differs from racial hereditarianism in that it allows for moderate population level differences to emerge from small aggregate individual differences via social multiplier effects.

I will not here attempt to defend de Gobineauism; I will not because I can not; I can not because it’s largely untrue. Boetel and I discussed this in section IV-K of our Nature of Race paper. This section was labeled “Shades of de Gobineau” because de Gobineau’s racialist positions were not altogether incorrect yet also because only a shadow of his views can be rigorously defended.

Here, I will defend racialism qua narrow racial hereditarianism.

But what is race?

Biological races are, and have been thought of as being so since the time of Darwin, subspecific natural populations; natural populations are biological populations delineated in terms of overall genetic (genealogical or genotypic, school of thought depending) relatedness instead of specific genetic characters as in the case of morphs (e.g., sexes) and forms. Subspecific nature populations could be operationalized as: sets of individuals of the same species in which members are less overall genetically related to members of other sets than to members of their own . These populations are basically equivalent to the population geneticists’ (retrospective) genetic populations. Genetic populations are hierarchically nested, with local races nested in regional ones and regional ones nested in continental ones. For example. Aulchenko (2010) tells us:

rac2
(Aulchenko, Y. S. (2010). Effects of population structure in genome-wide association studies. Analysis of Complex Disease Association Studies: A Practical Guide, 123.)

As there is no true level of genetic analysis, one can not say that any level of racial analysis is true. Dohzhansky (1946) pointed this out, noting:

One may perhaps question the desirability of applying the term ‘racial differences’ to distinctions as small as those that can be found between populations of neighboring villages and as large as those between populations of different continents. Might one modify the definition of race by specifying that the differences in gene frequencies be above a certain minimum magnitude? Such amodification is undesirable for two reasons. First, since all magnitudes of difference are found among populations, any specified minimum can be only arbitrary. Second, it is most important to realize that the differences between the ‘major’ human races are fundamentally of the same nature as the relatively minute differences between the inhabitants of adjacent towns or villages.

In fact, most racialists have acknowledged the existence of local and regional races and more generally the nested nature of race. For some reason, Mr. Prussian adopts the view that only continental level races exist as races; perhaps he feels that only natural populations with significant genetic discontinuities between them should be called races. This conception, though, is at odds with the majority of the historic race conceptions and with (most) modern biological ones. Much could be said on this matter, but this point has already been discussed extensively elsewhere. In short, one can meaningfully talk about a White (European) evolutionary race in contrast to, say, a Yellow (North East Asian) race. These two races represent natural subspecific biological populations.

What Race differences did you have in Mind, Sir?

If no other form of racial hereditarianism proves correct, racial intelligence hereditarianism alone can vindicate racialism, since global differences in intelligence conditions a large portion of the global differences in quality of life. To give a sense of the significance of these global cognitive differences, I plotted the average of the 52 subcomponent 2014 Social Progress Index scores against National IQs. The correlation between Social Progress and National IQ was 0.82. (For comparison, the correlation between the percent of Muslim population and Social Progress was -0.40.) In short, cognitive ability differences exert a powerful influence on the group level.

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There are a number of lines of evidence in support of a racial hereditarian hypothesis for cognitive ability differences (and with them overall quality of life differences). Generally, regional cognitive differences have numerous historic, biological, and genetic correlates; national cognitive differences follow migrants to some degree and transmit across generations in the new regions of origin; within mixed race populations, cognitive related outcomes correlated with racial ancestry.

Phenotypic IQ differences between Biological Races

rac4

rac5

The Comparative Performance of non-Hispanic White and Blacks in the U.S. by Immigrant Generation

rac6

Association between Outcomes and Ancestry in a Mixed Race population

rac7
(Cheng, et al., 2012. African Ancestry and Its Correlation to Type 2 Diabetes in African Americans: A Genetic Admixture Analysis in Three U.S. Population Cohorts)

There is very little to argue about here. A substantial global cognitive hereditarian hypothesis is robust yet not established. If global cognitive differences are only 40-60% heritable, we would still have moderate to large congenital cognitive differences, thus vindicating racialism (qua racial hereditarianism).

The Prussian Strikes Back

The Prussian doesn’t consider the racialist case, though. Instead, he moves to dismiss it. He points to, for example, the Flynn Effect, the secular rise in cognitive scores, to call into question the science of mental ability. An example of the Flynn effect is illustrated below. In the figure, age heaping — a measure of numeracy — rates are shown for different ethnic groups across centuries

rac8
(Juif, D. T., & Baten, J. (2013). On the human capital of Inca Indios before and after the Spanish Conquest. Was there a “Pre-Colonial Legacy”?. Explorations in Economic History, 50(2), 227-241.)

As can be seen, the ability to correctly report ages, which involves both learning and the ability to learn, has increased over the centuries — because learning has increased. Despite this secular increase, relative differences between ethnic groups (both within and between nations) remain. Chinese were one of the world’s most numerate populations, as measured by age heaping, in the 1600s and they are one of the world’s most numerate populations today as measured by PISA math scores. To be clear: cognitive differences between ethnic groups strongly correlate across centuries.

rac9

Now, one can always argue that the general cross century stability is due to stable cultural and or other environmental differences. One can — but one still has to account for the association between genetic differences and ability differences.

The Prussian goes on to point to deviations from well known averages (e.g., that Black African countries have worse profiles than European countries). But since no one argues for racial determinism, let alone racial uniformism, this whole line of argumentation is invalid. He also attempts to dismisses unwanted evidence. He dismisses, for example, the conspicuously low Amerindian and Oceania average abilities on the grounds that these groups were largely replaced by more apt Europeans. This approach allows him to side step the well know intra-national differences. As example of these, self identifying “indigenous” throughout the Americas underperform self identifying “non-indigenous” Europeans. Here is a typical discussion:

The background and test score differences between indigenous and non-indigenous students give additional insight into the distinct challenges that indigenous students face. In every country, the test score gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students was greater in Spanish reading exams than in math exams, and the gaps in both subjects ranged between 0.6 and 1.1 standard deviations. (Hernandez-Zavala, M., Patrinos, H. A., & Sakellariou, C. (2006). Quality of schooling and quality of schools for indigenous students in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru (Vol. 3982). World Bank Publications.)

Moreover, ancestral admixture predicts educational outcomes.

While none of the above proves a causal genetic hypothesis, some explaining is needed. Anti-racialists need to account for the association between ancestry and outcomes (a) between ethnic groups between nations, (b) between ethnic groups within nations, and (c) between individuals within heavily admixed ethnic groups. The Prussian tells us that “cultural institutions trump race – and institutions can be changed” and yet all of the institutional change to date has left the substantial association between ancestry and outcomes largely intact. Apparently, more change is needed — more mixing it up with an extra dose of anti-privilege.

Finally, when not evading evidence, The Prussian attacks the strawview of White Supremacy. We are told, for example, that the Chinese were historically more advanced than Europeans and therefore that Euro-number-one-ism is stupid (which it is, but not for this reason). But if so, this is all the better for a hereditarian cognitive ability hypothesis, as it currently struggles to explain the surprising dearth of East Asians accomplishments.

Significant Scientific Figures and Accomplishments from 800 B.C. to 2000 A.D.

rac10

The accomplishment differences are currently attributed to differences in personality factors such as collectivism; while there is a genetic basis to such regional personality differences (e..g, Way and Lieberman, 2010), the connection between these differences and the ones in accomplishments is speculative at best. The Prussian then, at most, simply lifts the burden of accounting for East Asian under-performance.

In summary, The Prussian doesn’t address the evidence in support of racialism, understood as the view that genes condition important outcome differences between racial groups. Instead, he sidesteps the evidence and knocks down strawmen e.g., racial determinism.

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From the Mad House

Here’s a quote from the Mad House called Open Borders:

Imagine how mad you’d be if you even overheard someone with the cojones to actually say this in an interview! Someone claiming that a mere accident of birth that they had no control over – and for that matter places them in a category of substantial relative privilege – should entitle them (and it’s entitlement they’re claiming, make no mistake) to a job over a person that doesn’t have these purely unintentional qualities, but is equally qualified, harder working, and in greater need of the job would rightly make your blood boil. And if you think that would make you mad, imagine how much angrier you’d be at an employer who actually accepted that rationale and gave the job to this horrible person!

Let’s add one more to the list, shall we?

6. “You should give me the job because I was born in this country, and the other person wasn’t.”

Wait. Wait a minute – that one didn’t raise the hackles on the back of your neck, did it? In fact, the part of you that adapts to your society as a whole found that to be downright reasonable-sounding, didn’t it? Something’s definitely wrong here. Some essential wiring has been installed incorrectly. Say any of the first five things on the list in a job interview and not only can I guarantee you that you won’t get the job, but you’re very likely to start a physical fight with someone that overhears you. But say the sixth thing, and not only does it sound perfectly rational, but you sound like a damned patriot. They elect to public office people who say things like that. Of course, being the rational person that you are, you came through this little thought experiment realizing the truth: That if you can’t rationalize desert based on accidents of birth, then that applies to ALL accidents of birth.

My reply:

Let’s take this example: “You should give me the job because I’m more attractive than the other person.”

Imagine that you were hired by company X to interview applicants. One applicant gave the above reply. In contempt, you exclaim: “But what does that have to do with anything?!” The applicant responds: “This is a modeling agency….” If this happened, hopefully you would be chagrined. Why? You would originally have been morally outraged out of disdain for capricious and fickle selection — a disgust at the senseless. When the context was realized, however, the feeling would have dissipated as you recognized that the applicant’s response was perfectly rational given the company’s stated institution goal of making money; attractive models are an asset. You would have felt embarrassment for not considering this possibility. But, of course, if I explained the logic of native discrimination — that it makes sense given the institutional goal of a nation i.e., the well being of nationals — you would not be chagrined at all. Because you feel that the institutional goal itself is bad.

..

Now let’s back up and imagine that you knew nothing about your two interviewees. So you ask: “Tell me why I should give this job to you instead of the other candidate, given what you know about that person.” The interviewee replies:

0. “You should give me the job because I happened by accident of birth and circumstance to be more talented and so can better accomplish the job.”

And you think: Whoa, sounds pretty bad. We should tar and feather people in our society for saying that sort of thing.

But, in fact, you don’t think this. But why? Why is aptitude discrimination seen as legitimate yet not other forms of discrimination? Of course, the answer is: because this type of discrimination is seen as advancing legitimate goals. Those goals include being e.g., an economically competitive corporation. But the question is begged: why are other institutional goals seen as illegitimate?

..

But seriously, how many people have you fought over the 4/5th rule? None, I’m would imagine.

As for adverse impact, like affirmative action, I appreciate the logic. For whatever reason, people in the U.S. value diversity. That’s an institutional goal. As such, businesses and academic institutions are backhandedly forced (when they don’t do so willingly) to discriminate on account of race, ethnicity, and sex. If not, we would see far fewer Blacks and Hispanics in the Ivy Leagues, etc. To many people that would be a national tragedy.

Now, I don’t care for the practice myself — mostly because I don’t care for the rationalizations given (e.g., Ginsburg’s), but also because diversity so understood doesn’t ring my bells. However, I don’t pretend to not appreciate the logic. And when I argue against these policies, I do so narrowly — mostly against silly rationalizations, sometimes against this type of diversity as a goal for this particular country. I surely don’t work myself up into lather about what people do in this regards in e.g., the U.K. Compare this sensible approach with your zealous one — which leads, as said, to a reductio ad nil.

……

This all calls to mind a passage from Mitchell Heisman’s Suicide Note:

“Death is the biological fulfillment of the promise of equality; equality with the non-biological, physical world. Materialism beyond individualism leads to the equality of dirt and humans; consistent treatment between nonhuman and human worlds. The end logic of equality is the overcoming of all life boundaries, all distinctions, and all separations until Singularity or death.”

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Meetup unregistered my “White American Meetup group”

Last year, on a whim, I created a Cary N.C. “White American Meetup group”. I was busy with other things and so didn’t follow up with it — it only cost $20 and ten minutes of time. I recently checked my gmail account — I regularly use hotmail — and found out why, apart from mere disinterest, no one had contacted me: Meetup unregistered the groups on the grounds that it violated “Community Guidelines and Terms of Service”. Of course, being an uncreative soul, I simply copied the Hispanic/Asian Meetup group formats; the only possible violation was in the creation of a group for White/European Americans. In a libertarian society, of course, Meetup would have every right to racially discriminate, to allow for the creation of Asian but not White Meetups. Yet, we live in no such one. So, knowing as little as I do, the practice seems legally dubious. Laws, of course, are subject to reinterpretation and alternation — in vague areas such as these, there is often only one way to determine legality. This is going to be a long process, so I better get started. But I honestly have nothing better to do. Of course, if Meetup let the group exist and if people joined that would be another problem. One things at a time, though.

meetup1
meetup2
meetup3meetup4

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Reed pulls an Unz


Race, Realism, and Race Realists

…Let us consider brown people in Peru, a small, heavily mestizo Andean nation of some thirty million. Let us also consider the International Math Olympiad, an annual contest of high-end mathematical talent around the planet. In 2012, Peru finished 16th. Results from the Olympiad vary considerably by year: In 2013, Peru finished 26th. Australia finished 15th and 27th in those two years (and Mexico 17th in 2013). Yet it is hard for me to see how an inherently stupid people could make it to 16th. This is especially puzzling because Peru does not have the highly developed mechanisms for discovering talent that America has.

I consequently suggest that race realists, at least with respect to South America, have become more racial than realistic and may suffer from a recto-cranial inversion. I hope that Fred on Everything can serve them as salutary forceps….

My comment smackdown:

Regarding the IMO results, on the national level, a two minute google scholar search pulls up Rindermann’s (2011) sophisticated analysis. As expected, on average, Peru performs below (global) average. (Here.) The IMO results thus do not seriously disagree with the contemporaneous international test and IQ based ones varyingly reported by Hanushek and Woessmann (2010), Lynn and Vanhanen (2012), Altinok et al. (2013), etc. Not to mention other indexes of ability going back hundreds of years.

Ageheapingperu

As for intra-national differences, it’s well known that self identifying Peruvian “indigenous” under-perform self identifying “non-indigenous”. Typical discussion:

The background and test score differences between indigenous and non-indigenous students give additional insight into the distinct challenges that indigenous students face. In every country, the test score gap between indigenous and non-indigenous students was greater in Spanish reading exams than in math exams, and the gaps in both subjects ranged between 0.6 and 1.1 standard deviations. (Hernandez-Zavala, M., Patrinos, H. A., & Sakellariou, C. (2006). Quality of schooling and quality of schools for indigenous students in Guatemala, Mexico and Peru (Vol. 3982). World Bank Publications.)

Presumably, self identifying indigenous (in the above sample) have more Amerindian ancestry. They do in other ones, ones which also show that education (negatively) correlates with Amer ancestry.

Ancestryperu

(From: Pereira et al. Socioeconomic and nutritional factors account for the association of gastric cancer with Amerindian ancestry in a Latin American admixed population.)

But the photos!

Reed’s Peruvian IMO Photo Proof (with composite national images for comparison)

PeruIMO

Of the 23 Olympiads, 22 were males (shown) — a situation which confirms at least one stereotype. At least 2 of the 22 males (21 and 22) look distinctively Chinese Peruvian. Probably another over-representation. Of the remaining 20, #1-5 look more Spanish than average, #6-17 look about average, and #18-20 look more Amerindian than average. So 5/20 versus 3/20 which translates into a more-Spanish-ancestry advantage of about 1/3rd of a standard deviation. There we go.

Imaginable, Reed would judge things differently. Readers are free to offer their own opinions. Most, hopefully, would agree that this is a pretty awful method. Perhaps we could count Spanish surnames, instead.

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Don’t look

Don’t look here or here or take a look here and here in this paper or read this or this if you are a big fan of Acemogluism.

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The Allele Counting Begins

Factor Analysis of Population Allele Frequencies as a Simple, Novel Method of Detecting Signals of Recent Polygenic Selection: The Example of Educational Attainment and IQ
Davide Piffer

Weak widespread (polygenic) selection is a mechanism that acts on multiple SNPs simultaneously. The aim of this paper is to suggest a methodology to detect signals of polygenic selection using educational attainment as an example. Educational attainment is a polygenic phenotype, influenced by many genetic variants with small effects. Frequencies of 10 SNPs found to be associated with educational attainment in a recent genome-wide association study were obtained from HapMap, 1000 Genomes and ALFRED. Factor analysis showed that they are strongly statistically associated at the population level, and the resulting factor score was highly related to average population IQ (r=0.90). Moreover, allele frequencies were positively correlated with aggregate measures of educational attainment in the population, average IQ, and with two intelligence increasing alleles that had been identified in different studies. This paper provides a simple method for detecting signals of polygenic selection on genes with overlapping phenotypes but located on different chromosomes. The method is therefore different from traditional estimations of linkage disequilibrium. This method can also be used as a tool in gene discovery, potentially decreasing the number of SNPs that are included in a genome-wide association study, reducing the multiple-testing problem and required sample sizes and consequently, financial costs.

Correlation of the COMT Val158Met polymorphism with latitude and a hunter-gather lifestyle suggests culture–gene coevolution and selective pressure on cognition genes due to climate
Davide Piffer

Dual-inheritance theory posits that the genotype has an impact on the evolution of human behavior and that cultural traits can be constrained by genetic imperatives. A large body of studies provides evidence that the functional catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) Val158Met polymorphism is associated with executive function, working memory (WM), and intelligence. A survey of the population genetics database provides evidence that COMT gene frequencies vary across populations. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that the COMT gene has an impact on cultural evolution, specifically on the adoption of an agricultural vs. a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Statistically significant differences in COMT allele frequencies between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies were found. Ethnic groups whose economy is based on farming have higher frequencies of the Met allele (symbol: A), whereas societies based on a hunter-gatherer economy have very low frequencies of the Met allele and a disproportionate predominance of the Val allele. Moreover, the frequency of the Met allele was positively correlated to the populations’ IQ (r = 0.57). The FNBP1L gene (rs236330) is associated with childhood and adult intelligence and it varies in frequency across populations. Frequency of rs236330 was also significantly correlated with the populations’ IQ (r = 0.81). COMT and FNBP1L had fairly similar geographical distributions (r = 0.44) although the result did not reach statistical significance. The results suggest that the genotype of a population influences its cultural development in fairly specific and predictable ways. Met allele frequency was positively correlated with latitude (r = 0.56), suggesting selective pressure due to climate.

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GCTA Establishes Genetic Basis of Class Differences In Intelligence

Not that there was any doubt.

Trzaskowski, M., Harlaar, N., Arden, R., Krapohl, E., Rimfeld, K., McMillan, A., Plomin, R. (2014). Genetic influence on family socioeconomic status and children’s intelligence. Intelligence, 42, 83-88.

Environmental measures used widely in the behavioral sciences show nearly as much genetic influence as behavioral measures, a critical finding for interpreting associations between environmental factors and children’s development. This research depends on the twin method that compares monozygotic and dizygotic twins, but key aspects of children’s environment such as socioeconomic status (SES) cannot be investigated in twin studies because they are the same for children growing up together in a family. Here, using a new technique applied to DNA from 3000 unrelated children, we show significant genetic influence on family SES, and on its association with children’s IQ at ages 7 and 12. In addition to demonstrating the ability to investigate genetic influence on between-family environmental measures, our results emphasize the need to consider genetics in research and policy on family SES and its association with children’s IQ.

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