The Jews

Barnett, Thomas P. (2006). Jimmy Carter’s new book. Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog. December 28, 2006. Available online: http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2006/12/jimmy_carters_new_book.html.

An unusually poorly thought-out piece from Thomas PM Barnett on Israel and the Jews

Barnett, like much of the Franco-Arab pseudo-intelligentsia, is under the mistaken assumption that identity matters and that, more specifically, people are willing to fight for it:

Israel’s fears [with regards to] to a loss of cultural identity are just a precusor to that of the Arab world’s fears [with regards to] to a loss of cultural identity.

Israel’s paranoia regarding a return to non-Jewish hegemony over the last remaining concentration of Jews has a lot less to do with “identity” and a lot more to do with a history of genocide. The foolishness of allowing the same play twice would be equivalent to, say, accepting an Islamist guerrilla-state in the horn of Africa.

As Israel is a diverse country with multiple societies (think secular, Orthodox, Ultra-Orthodox, etc), I have little idea what Tom means when he writes:

Both cultures [Israeli and Arab] reach for apartheid-like defenses, feeling completely justified in that response, because the preservation of cultural identity is crucial in their minds, as in, worth fighting and dying over.

I’ll chalk up his unfortunate post to too-clever-by-half-ism, a common curse of gifted writers who get carried away by their own rhetorical brilliance.

Notes from Shenzhen

DeAngelis, Stephen F. (2006). Globalization’s Up & Down Sides. Enterprise Resilience Management Blog. December 18, 2006. Available online: http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/12/globalizations_.html.

DeAngelis, Stephen F. (2006). Globalization’s Up & Down Sides, Part 2:. Enterprise Resilience Management Blog. December 19, 2006. Available online: http://enterpriseresilienceblog.typepad.com/enterprise_resilience_man/2006/12/globalizations__1.html.

Lady of tdaxp has been on assignment in Shenzhen (“Deep Drains”), China, as part of her training in industrial engineering, so it is neat to here about that growing city near Hong Kong in the news for its responsive government:


中國深圳

“In newly rich Shenzhen, as in much of China, social change is being driven by economic transformation and, more than anything else, property ownership. Red-hot real estate markets have given birth to a new class of people, known as mortgage slaves, because the financial burden of buying into the middle-class dream of home ownership has suddenly become so great. The new property owners have poured their energy into everything from establishing co-op boards to spar with landlords, to organizing real estate market boycotts to force down prices. Others, meanwhile, have begun running for office in district-level elections, where they hope to make the city government more responsive to their needs, though, like governments at every level in China, the ultimate power here rests with Communist Party officials. Shenzhen has also spawned a local research group known as Interhoo, an independent association of civic-minded professionals who discuss municipal policy issues, publish position papers and quietly lobby the government over development strategy and other issues. … Academics and others who study the city’s development say it is no surprise that Shenzhen is emerging as the cradle of movements like this. From the start, its proximity to Hong Kong has made it unusually open to outside influences. The city is also new, founded in 1980, and populated by migrants who contribute to a culture of greater individualism and risk-taking than anywhere else in China.”

However, all is not right in the new, gleeming city:

“While grueling labor conditions exist in many parts of China, Shenzhen’s gigantic plants, employing as many as 200,000 workers each, have established a particular reputation for harshness among workers and labor advocates. Monthly turnover rates of 10 percent or more are not uncommon, labor groups say. The tough working conditions, in turn, have helped spawn one of the most important labor developments in China in recent years: large-scale wildcat strikes and smaller job actions for better hours and wages. The Guangdong Union Association, a government-affiliated group, said there were more than 10,000 strikes in the province last year. Among Chinese economic planners, Shenzhen’s recipe is increasingly seen as all but irrelevant: too harsh, too wasteful, too polluted, too dependent on the churning, ceaseless turnover of migrant labor. “This path is now a dead end,” said Zhao Xiao, an economist and former adviser to the Chinese State Council, or cabinet. After cataloging the city’s problems, he said, “Governments can’t count on the beauty of investment covering up 100 other kinds of ugliness.” As the limits of the Shenzhen model have grown more and more apparent, other cities in China’s relatively developed east are increasingly trying to differentiate themselves, emphasizing better working and living conditions for factory workers or paying more attention to the environment.”

Globalization has created the wealth & prosperity which spawned the Shenzhenese middle class, and it will continue to create the wealth & propserity that will lift the entire city out of poverty. It is tempting to say that because the poor in the countryside are out of sight, and the poor in cities are visible, that it’s better to keep the whole of China agrarian and poor than build up an economy. However, the increasing visibility of poverty in China is a sign of globalization working: because now the problem is visible.

Likewise, the increasing visibility of wealth in China is a sign that globalization is working: because now there is wealth in China.

Darwin and the Survival of Scientific Racism

The second section of Joseph L. Graves’ The Emperor’s New Clothes continues his cavalcade of wrongness. The second section of his book, “Darwin and the Survival of Scientific Racism,” begins on page 53 and continues until page 104.

Firstly, and somewhat esoterically, Graves is stuck in the past with his description of group selection. On page 63, he writes that group selection “could be favored only if the groups were composed of closely related individuals.” However, kin selection could both further or retard group selection (Wilson & Holldobler, 2005). Further, evolution of enthocentricism and xenophobia (forms of altruism towards in-group members and against out-group members) can be modeled through computers (Hammond & Axelrod, 2006). Ultimately, while the force of altruism can be measured and its significant debated (Kurzban & Houser, 2005), Graves’ claims about the role of pre-existing genetic similarity in group selection are questionable at best.


Graves uses the terms “artificial” and “natural” in a strange manner. While discussing the well-known genetic factors that cause different breeds of dogs to exhibit different levels of intelligence, behavior, and socialiability, Graves writes “The type of intense artificial selection used to differentiate traits in animal breeds is not seen in humans.” What is meant here. If you take “natural” to mean that which happens in the absence of a central authority, then clearly dog breeds are the result of natural selection. Many wolves and early dogs experienced an ecosystem in which they found a niche with human society, and they evolved accordingly. But if you take “natural” to mean man-made, his criticism still falls flat. To the extent that human survivability depended on interaction with others, natural selection on human was guided by “artificial” human decisions. This can have positive or negative implication – Ridley notes that the “evolutionary psychologist Sarah Hrdy has hypothesized that juvenile human beings are “designed” by their past to expect to be reared communally rather than in a nuclear family” (2003, 246) – but what is known for sure is that the natural v. artificial distinction is meaningless.

Graves’ discussion on the settlement of North America is similarly quixotic. He uses “archaeological sites in New Mexico and South America” (96), without citing references or sayingg which sates, to date American Indian residency in the western hemisphere to “about thirty-five thousand years ago.” This is out of line with genetic tests, of about seventeen thousand years ago (Mulligan, Hunley, Cole, & Long, 2004; Zegura, Karafet, Zhivotovsky, & Hammer, 2004) – roughly half of what Graves claims. Even trusting Graves’ claim about the lack of skin color gradation among American Indians, claiming that lack of change in one element implies that evolution cannot happen swiftly is ludicrous. Just recently we learn that lactose tolerance evolved among some Africans in historical times (“African Adaptation…,” 2006). Further, it is possible that other, even more important, traits were under regional selection in South America. The extremely high penetration of a gene that causes ADD in South America as opposed to Asia (Ding, et al., 2002) is just one example of this.

Ironically, Graves’ commits the genetic fallacy in his book. The genetic fallacy is of the form “a and b, b is bad, therefore a is bad.” It is a form of guilt-by-ideological-association whose most tiresome form is linking some activity to the Nazi government of Germany. Adolf Hitler famous was a tee-totaling vegetarian, and from that defensive drinkers and carnivores have categorized their enemies as fascists in disguise. Similarly, anti-abortion activists, anti-gun-control-activists, and anti-eugenics activists have attempted to tar an opposing ideas by claiming the Nazis held it. Indeed, this last example is exactly what Graves commits. “Certainly eugenics,” he writes,” has to take some of the responsibility for the Holocaust” (100). Yet graves is not similarly accusatory toward progressive politics, which was in the eugenetical forefront (Pinker, 2002). The reason is obvious: that eugenics and progressive politics were associated in the past no more tars progressivism than that eugenics and Nazis were associated in the past no more tars eugenics. It this would like criticizing eugenics by linking it either to the Communist or RPR parties, as eugenics is common in both the People’s Republic of China (“Enter the Dragon”, 2003) and France (Leroi, 2006). Indeed, some American parents are active dysgenicists (Sanghavi, 2006). Would a rhetorical attack against federal policies mean anything in that debate?

Bibliography
“African adaptation to digesting milk is ‘strongest signal of selection ever.’” (2006). Scientific American. December 11, 2006. Available online: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=727EA883-E7F2-99DF-36D89AB12E930315.
Ding, Y., et al. (2002). Evidence of positive selection acting at the human dopamine receptor D4 gene locus. PNAS, 99(1) 309-314.
“Enter the Dragon.” (2003). The Observer. July 20, 2003. Available online: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,1001961,00.html.
Graves, J. L., Jr. (2001). The emperor’s new clothes: Biological theories of race at the millennium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Hammond, R., & Axelrod, R. (2006) The Evolution of Ethnocentricism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(6).
Leroia, A.M. (2006). The future of neo-eugenics. EMBO Reports 7(12): 1184-1187.
Mulligan, C.J., Hunley, K., Cole, S., & Long, J.C. (2004). Population genetics, history, and health patterns in Native Americans. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics 5: 295-315.
Kurzban, R, & Houser, D. (2005). Experiments Investigation Cooperative Types in Humans: A Complement to Evolutionary Theory and Simulations. PNAS 102(5): 1803-1807.
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Viking Adult: New York, NY.
Ridley, M. (2003). Nature via Nurture. Harper Collins: New York, NY.
Sanghavi, D.M. (2006). Wanting babies like themselves, some parents choose genetic defects. New York Times. December 5, 2006. Available online: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/05/health/05essa.html?ex=1322974800&en=9fbb1b0e738b55d1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.
Wilson, E. O., & Holldobler, B. (2005). Eusociality: Origin and Consequences. PNAS 102(38)-13367-13371.
Zegura, S.L., Karafet, T.M., Zhivotovsky, L., & Hammer, M.E. (2004). Molecular Biology and Evolution 21(1): 164-175.


Reactions to The Emperor’s New Clothes, part of Biopsychological Development
1. The Origin of the Race Concept
2. Darwin and the Survival of Scientific Racism
3. Applications and Misapplications of Darwinism
4. Biological Theories of Race At the Millennium