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.

rac3

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.

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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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16 Responses to Why Racialism is Sensible: A Pithy Rejoinder to The Prussian

  1. Anonymous says:

    In last few months there has been a paper published by Rindermann on IQ in Vietnam (average IQ of 99), and we are awaiting your, as yet, unpublished work on Southeast Asians. The question is whether average IQ among indigenous Southeast Asians is higher than the Lynn and Vanhanen data suggest.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Chuck–
    We are still awaiting your article on Southeast Asians. Is the average IQ of indigenous (non-Chinese) Southeast Asians actually closer to Northeast Asians than Lynn and Vanhanen have suggested? But surely the average IQ of indigenous Filipinos, Malays, and (aboriginal) Taiwanese is, um, unimpressive. Vietnam was, of course, conquered and occupied by Chinese for long periods of time– so who knows what alleles spread through the population? We should not be too surprised if Vietnam scores reasonably well.

  3. The fourth doorman of the apocalypse says:

    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.

    This is interesting. It selects that much of the selection for higher intelligence happened earlier than 1600 or that there has been little difference in selection for intelligence between the Chines and Europeans, for example.

    However, perhaps it is related to the fact that the Chinese have had a larger single polity for a longer time, and the need to manage larger numbers of people have driven selection for numeracy.

  4. anon says:

    1. “Social Progress Index” is largely derived from highly subjective neoliberal PC nonsense. So that graph is by and large garbage-in-garbage-out..
    2. The PISA graph is much more meaningful. Yet China hasn’t participated PISA as a country since 2003 but cities. So China’s PISA score, as a country, could be somewhat overestimated hence misrepresented there.

    • Chuck says:

      There were 52 components, some were PC goofy (tolerance for immigrants/gays) some were not (access to electricity, child mortality rate). You can see them here: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi#performance/countries/com1/dim1,com1,com2,com4,dim2,com5,com6,dim3
      If you make a list of non-“neoliberal PC” ones I will rerun the analysis with that average.

      Also, that progressives themselves value this stuff is the best part….

      • anon says:

        Sorry, can’t get the how data is weighted. Some outragious examples tell clearly some of “social progress” results are completely rubbish:

        1. China is about 58. Phillipines is about 68. I can’t tell China is less socially progress than Phillipine in almost all measures except democracy-related item/items, which means that democracy somehow worth > 10 points in this “sccial progress” scale.

        2. otherwise, more laughble things such as China is lower and/or drastically lower than some sub-sahara African countries and any banana republic ( literally) you can name of. Actually any of these testbook banana republic , usually in their mid 70s to 80 on “social progess” scale , makes China’s desperate high 50s look like coming from Stone Age. Sorry, but that doesn’t fit into any traveller’s common sense no matter how much one hates Chairman Mao, does it?

        3. some other seemingly “objectively & fair” ( but highly troublesome in reality) criteria one can immediately identify is , for example, so called the “standard GDP/per cap” ( in $ term) or its derivatives they deploy. China’s currency is controlled, but hugely undervalued. That explains the bizzare phenominon why most third world hellholes ( i.e. many of the subsahara african countries and most/all north afrcian, non-oil middle eastern countries, and almost all countries in South America and Asia, except some obvious and absolute world’s poorest) have higher GDP per cap than China on paper , yes, Angola on average is richer than China, so are Botswana, Namibia and Gahna, etc — {the world bank/IMF Oxbridge-graduated “chief economists” illiterates who have developed and kept using this “GDP per cap” criterion are somehow deeply racist thinking that the rest of the world are intellectually too retadred to identify this obvious sham :hitwall: } — because, just for the starter, their currencies, called Botswana Dollar, Angola Dollar and Namibia Dollar I guess, are supposely “openly” and “fairly” traded in the “world market” according to Wall Street Crooks Standard.

        Of course, the index works quite well when compraring some relatively similar countries such as Sweden and Ireland, and some countries which sit on the two extremes such as Norway and Zimbabuwe alike that can be identified by any Einstein given some time, with or without the index.

        However for countries which happen to be called or identified as political/economical/ or military or ideological “opponents” or “threats” of good & old US and A govenement that sponsor all this kind of “world’s XXX index ” , this “social progress” is nothing more than an insult to g factor.

        Ditch it for your own good, Chuck.

    • Chuck says:

      “So China’s PISA score, as a country, could be somewhat overestimated hence misrepresented there”

      I didn’t use national PISA scores, I used L&V’s (2012) quality weighted national IQs. The Chinese scores would have been based on IQ test scores (105.5 –quality weight 16) and PISA scores (108.2 -quality weight 2), The quality weighted average came out to 105.8. If there was overestimation it would have been minimal.

      • B.B. says:

        Chuck says:
        I didn’t use national PISA scores, I used L&V’s (2012) quality weighted national IQs. The Chinese scores would have been based on IQ test scores (105.5 –quality weight 16) and PISA scores (108.2 -quality weight 2), The quality weighted average came out to 105.8. If there was overestimation it would have been minimal.

        That depends on how reliable L&V’s national IQ estimates are. From what I understand L&V’s metric of IQ data quality was based on sample size & the number of different studies cited. Whether the studies were geographically representative of the nation as a whole wasn’t considered. From what I can gather of the sources that are available to me, much like the PISA data the national IQ data is biased towards sampling urban regions like Shanghai and Beijing. Here are the IQ data sources that L&V 2012 cited for China:

        Dataset – (Age Range) – Sample Size – Test Type – IQ – Source
        01 – (6-16) – 660 – WISC-R – 107 – Dan et al., 1990
        02 – (5-15) – 5,108 – SPM – 101 – Lynn, 1991
        03 – (14-15) – 297 – Various – 103 – Li et al., 1996
        04 – (6-12) – 269 – SPM – 104 – Geary et al., 1997
        05 – (4) – 60 – Arithmetic – 109 – Ginsburg et al., 1997
        06 – (6-13) – 463 – DAM – 103 – Cox et al., 1998
        07 – (6-8) – 160 – SPM – 107 – Cox et al., 1998
        08 – (17) – 218 – SPM – 103 – Geary et al., 1999
        09 – (19) – 218 – SPM – 113 – Geary et al., 1999
        10 – (6-8) – 300 – BTBC-R – 107 Zhou & Boehm, 2001

        Dan, L., Yu, J., Vandenberg, S. G., Yuemei, Z. and Caihong, T. (1990). Report on Shanghai norms of the Chinese translation of the Weschsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Revised. Psychological Reports, 67, 531-541.
        Lynn, R. (1991). Intelligence in China. Social Behavior and Personality, 19, 1-4.
        Li, X., Sano, H. and Merwin, J. C. (1996). Perception and reasoning abilities among American, Japanese and Chinese adolescents. Journal Adolescent Research, 11, 173-193.
        Geary, D. C., Hamson, C. O., Chen, G-P., Liu, F., Hoard, M. K. and Salthouse, T. A. (1997). Computational and reasoning abilities in arithmetic: cross-generational change in China and the United States. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 4, 425-430
        Ginsburg, P. H., Choi, E., Lopez, L. S., Netley, R. and Chao- Yuan, C. (1997). Happy birthday to you: early mathematical thinking of Asian, South American and U.S. children. In T. Nunes and P. Bryant (Eds), Learning and Teaching Mathematics: An international Perspective. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
        Cox, M. V., Perara, J. and Fan, X. U. (1998). Children’s drawing ability in the UK and China. Psychologia, 41, 171-182.
        Geary, D. C., Liu, F., Chen, G-P., Salts, S. J. and Hoard, M. K. (1999). Contributions of computational fluency to cross-national differences in arithmetical reasoning abilities. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91, 716-719.
        Zhou, Z.339 and Boehm, A. E. (2001). American and Chinese children’s knowledge of basic relational concepts. School Psychology International, 22, 5-21.

        Dataset 01 was from Shanghai as the study title indicates. Dataset 03 utilized students that “attended one of the three participating schools in and around Beijing.” Dataset 04 was from Shanghai. Dataset 08 is “Chinese high school students from Columbia, Missouri, and Shanghai, China, respectively”. Dataset 09 is “undergraduate students from East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.” Dataset 10 is “Three hundred kindergarten, first and second grade children from Beijing, China”. 02, 05, 06, 07 were inaccessible to me. Lynn & Cheng’s “Differences in intelligence across thirty-one regions of China and their economic and demographic correlates” gave Shanghai Municipality an IQ of 108, tied with Jiangsu Province as the highest IQ place in China. Beijing Municipality also had an above Chinese average score of 107. Although keep in mind they collected their regional data from a “Chinese online IQ testing website”. I’m especially interested in Dataset 02 which I couldn’t get a hold of, as it has the largest sample size and the lowest IQ score of the bunch. If it had a wider geographical scope than the studies I had access to, it might represent a more plausible Chinese IQ score.

  5. tankerville says:

    The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the one cited in table S2, included a neurocognitive battery. It seems like the data may exist to allow for a more direct comparison.

  6. Nothing but more white supremacy. Why is it that the master race must prove itself the master race over and over and over and over again? It seems you are trying to convince yourself of something. Stop twisting yourselves into confused cavemen and just enjoy the last of what was your dynasty. Because we all know you people will blow this planet into pieces before you bow down.

  7. Henry says:

    It is disingenuous to ask the question, If East Asians are supposedly so smart, why did they accomplish so little? Because most who pose the question simply ignore the fact that well over 50% of the inventions still in use today had their origin in China (scroll to the bottom for a brief list of these). To be sure, many of these things were re-invented by Europeans without little or no prior knowledge of similar devices–I say this as a response to the inevitable pushback that accompanies even the hint that anyone other than Westerners could invent things–or that Westerners owe a great deal to the Chinese, a position that is well backed by evidence compiled by the late Sinologist Joseph Needham (who provided the above estimate) and his research institute at Cambridge. But the point is not whether these Chinese innovations were re-invented elsewhere: the point is that the Chinese were highly inventive and were consistently so over many centuries–despite the lack of cross-pollination resulting from their remote location (they were separated by thousands of miles, and by mountain ranges and deserts, from cultural centers in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.) Indeed, the noteworthy thing is that they came up with so many innovations despite the lack of economic incentives or the military competition that instigated technological progress in Europe.
    Yet despite their technical innovations, arguably their most influential one was the idea of meritocracy. That is, the best and the brightest should rule, without reference to their birth or social circumstances. This was first promulgated by Confucius c. 500 BC, when he said that the sons of princes and kings, if of poor ability, should become commoners, and that the sons of commoners, if of good ability, should become the rules. This idea was refined over the ensuing centuries, and finally became enshrined in the imperial examinations which were first held in the 2nd century AD. As Europeans sought to make their aristocratic societies more egalitarian and democratic in the 19th century, they looked to China for inspiration: for instance, the Northcote-Trevelyan Report proposed a set of examinations, based on the Chinese “Mandarin” system, for selecting young men for the civil service. Britain’s Mandarin system was then followed by similar initiatives elsewhere in Europe. The idea that the landed elite should at least be partially replaced by those with smarts and character was a revolutionary idea in mid-19th century Europe and even in the U.S.–but it was a very old Chinese innovation.

    NOW for the fun stuff: a short list of inventions and ideas from ancient China, off the top of my head: Paper, printing, paper money, gunpowder, guns, fireworks, cannons, multistage rockets, compass, matches, caliper grips, fishing rod and reel, seismograph, canal locks, rudder, bulkheads, paddle wheel, segmental arch bridges, mechanical clock, deep drilling, use of natural gas for cooking, wheelbarrow, cast iron, blast furnace, chrome, interchangeable parts (sorry, Eli Whitney), seed drill, collar harness for horses, crossbow, understanding of blood circulation, matrix mathematics (methods of finding N unknowns in N number of equations, for example)–critical to modern science, first to predict comet return, differential gear (demonstrated on chariots–all automobiles have these), umbrella, chain drive, binomial equation (“Pascal’s triangle), infinitesimal mathematics (not quite calculus, but methods for determining area of circles/volume of spheres using limits).
    that’s for starters. But that’s already a lot. Especially amazing coming from a country that was relatively isolated for innumerable centuries. Europe and the Middle East and Africa, by contrast, were essentially neighbors.
    It should be noted that the existence of paper money itself reflects a sophisticated understanding of value and money, as well as sophisticated institutions capable of apportioning value to such currency and managing issues of supply and demand. Modern banking systems are rooted in principles that have their origin in 9th century China.

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