Tag Archives: political correctness

Inbreeding becomes politically correct

While this blog suggests clearing the ghettos and using bio-chemistry to instill better behaviors, Noah Feldman seems to want to go in the opposite direction:

The Way We Live Now – The New Pariahs? – The Rise of Anti-Islamic Bias in Western Europe – NYTimes.com
Even Britain, which has afforded Muslims a more welcoming environment, has had some worrying moments. A few years back, a Labor M.P. called for an end to “the tradition of first-cousin marriages” among Pakistanis and other South Asians in Britain. The basis for her suggestion was the claim that Pakistanis in Britain were more likely than the general population to suffer from recessive autosomal genetic disorders. Of course, so are Ashkenazi Jews, but you can hardly imagine an M.P. proposing to limit Jews’ marriage choices for this reason, especially given the historic Nazi allegation of Jewish genetic inferiority.

Matrimonial incest is a pretty good definition of the Gap. It’s also bad for the health of a people. Children of first-cousins are not as healthy as children in the general population. This is true, no matter how many times you cry “Nazi!”

Evolutionary Psychology and Behavioral Genetics

Dr. Miller’s and Dr. Kanazawa’s Ten politically incorrect truths about human nature is everywhere these days. I discussed it over coffee with Daniel Nexon (of The Duck), Sean Meade (of Interact) emailed it to me, and it has appeared both on Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog and South Dakota Politics. Like evolutionary psychology (of which this article is a manifestation), it is useful in that it helps smash the Standard Social Science Model, but incomplete in that it does not fully embrace social sciences.

The Standard Social Sciences Model (SSSM) is the overall research program of social sciences since World War II. It is most notable for ignoring biological factors, especailly at the group level, as causes of variation in human behavior. So ancient stone axes are described as “ceremonial” (the idea that weapons are for violence being seen as biological reductionism), and racial variations are not even mentioned as possible hypothesis when looking at racial gaps in intelligence or attention span. The SSSM essentially put half of all variables in taboo, hobbling social science to this day. The Evolutionary Psychologists, and the sociobiologists before them, have been tireless opponents of the SSSM, opening the door to real social scientific research for the first time in generations.

However, the exclusion of biological factors from social sciences for half a century did its work in limiting the utility of early biological explanations. The central tools of social science, regression and correlation in explaining variation, are underused by EP and SB because they were relatively new to social science at the time of the taboo began. More scientific approaches to biological factors have now appeared, and these generally go by the name of behavioral genetics. The Evolutionary Psychologists and Biopsychologists ultimately did not prevail, but took the damage that allowed more scientific approachesto flurish.

So back to the original article, Ten politically incorrect truths about human nature. Twenty years ago the authors would have been hounded out of academia, because they dare believe that biology influences behavior. Nowadays there specific claims are dismissed, because of weak operationalize and overbroad generalities.

That’s progress. That’s science. That’s the search for knowledge.

There is now real debate. Men like Edward O. Wilson and John Tooby are to thank for that.


Some links: The twin blogs, Gene Expression and gnxp, are amazing sources for the latest in behavioral genetics. I first learned of the EvolPsych/behavgen split from Steven Pinker. And at Dreaming 5GW, I examined two cases where dangerously presented half-truths are worse than no truth at all.

Update: Per a request from Sean, my uninformed impressions of the specific claims are below the fold:

Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Men should be expected to be attracted, and women should be expected to try to emulate, any hard-to-fake sign of reproductive fitness. As skin color and intelligence are generally correlated with moderate climates, this would imply that the idela female type should be skewed towards signs of moderate climate. (In all populations, women’s skin tends to be lighter than men’s, for perhaps this reason). Blond hair is a particularly European mutation, however, so this specific claim seems unlikely as a human universal.

Humans are naturally polygamous.

Better to say men historically have higher variance in the number of reproductive partners they have than women. The last universal male ancestor was much closer to our time than the last universal female ancestor for just this reason.

Most women benefit form polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

Indeed. Monogamous societies are male guilds, where competition for females is limited for the bettermen of the average men. In the same way, the professions with the greatest “merit pay” relative to standard wage (academia, hollywood, professional sports) are worst for average workers but best for the best performing. See The Right Nation for more on this.

Most suicide bombers are Muslim

This is an objective fact, so within the claim itself there is no debate.

My own research indicates that genetic variation might have more to do with the particularly Arab (or perhaps more accurately, Semite) form of terrorism we see today. But I don’t know. This is a really open question, and there is a lot of money to be made in implementing an answer.

Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce.

The claim and explanation both sound reasonable. No argument.

Beautiful people have more daughters.

Something similar is true of deer populations: daughters of highly reproductive males tend to be under-reproductive themselves. My guess is that beauty is an adaption that is particularly useful for females, and so it should skew toward females.

What Bill Gates and Paul McCartney have in common with criminals.

They have something else in common two: risk taking behavior and focus on abstract concepts. Many of the differences between males and females may come from two tendencies which emerge almost at birth: the male preference for systems and risk over people and stability.

The midlife crisis is a myth — sort of

Sounds reasonable. The authors present a specific test of their hypothesis, so it’s up to someone to tst it.

It’s natural for politicians to risk everything for an affair (but only if they’re male)

Solid discussion of inclusive fitness v. individual fitness.

Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

Many behaviors are sex- (or at least gender-) dependent, and misapplication of these behaviors violates social norms. (Try to punch a mouthy woman or embrace a male aquaintence to see this for yourselves). The authors extend this logic to “harrassment.” Still, it goes without saying that many “harrasing” behaviors would be non-normative in a same-sex environment.

"Multiculturalists" in Lincoln Public Schools Ban Books

LPS mulls best Native books,” by Margaret Reist, Lincoln Journal Star, 3 October 2006, http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2006/10/03/top_story/doc4521bf0c8a4b7965832929.txt.

Recently, my blog friend Adam of The Metropolis Times highlighted Banned Book Weeks. Ironically, the day after Banned Books Weeks Ended, Lincoln Public Schools set to work banning some more

And in addition to seeking out the best Native literature it could find — 128 new recommended books — it took the unusual step of recommending school libraries remove 12 books from their shelves.

Here is a list of the books:

The best justifications are those that are explicitly racist, such as

Misrepresents Lakota spiritual beliefs and cultural practices. Relies too heavily on research by non-Natives.

for Sitting Bull and His World and

Misunderstanding of Navajos’ strong oral storytelling traditions (no child would take notes while an elder told a story). Pathetic attempts at Native humor. “Whitewashing” of Native experiences.

for The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow: The Diary of Sarah Nita, a Navajo Girl, New Mexico, 1864

Books to avoid” about Thanksgiving from the same group that inspired this censorship list — Oyate — are available below the fold. A shorter version is also available.

Accorsi, William, Friendship’s First Thanksgiving. Holiday House, 1992, grades 1-2
Aliki, Corn is Maize: The Gift of the Indians. Harper & Row, 1976, grades 1-3
Anderson, Laurie Halse, Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving. Simon & Schuster, 2002, grades 1-4
Ansary, Mir Tamim, Thanksgiving Day. Heinemann, 2002, grades 1-3
Apel, Melanie Ann, The Pilgrims. Kidhaven Press, 2003, grades 3-5

Bartlett, Robert Merrill, The Story of Thanksgiving. HarperCollins, 2001, grades 3-5
Barth, Edna, Turkeys, Pilgrims, and Indian Corn: The Story of the Thanksgiving Symbols. Clarion, 1975, grades 2-4
Borden, Louise, Thanksgiving Is… Scholastic, 1997, grades 1-2
Brown, Marc, Arthur’s Thanksgiving. Little, Brown, 1983, grades 1-2
Bruchac, Joseph, Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving. Harcourt, 2000, grades 2-4
Buckley, Susan Washburn, Famous Americans: 15 Easy-to-Read Biography Mini-Books. Scholastic, 2000, grades 1-2
Bulla, Clyde Robert, Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims. Scholastic, 1990

Celsi,Teresa, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Steck-Vaughn, 1989, grades 1-2
Clements, Andrew, Look Who’s in the Thanksgiving Play! Simon & Schuster, 1999, preschool-2
Cohen, Barbara, Molly’s Pilgrim. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1983, grades 3-4
Conaway, Judith, Happy Thanksgiving! Things to Make and Do. Troll Communications, 1986, grades 1-3
Crane, Carol, and Helle Urban, P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet. Sleeping Bear Press, 2003, grades 1-4

Dalgliesh, Alice, The Thanksgiving Story. Scholastic, 1954, 1982, grades 3-4
Daugherty, James,The Landing of the Pilgrims. Random House, 1987, grades 4-6
Davis, Kenneth C., Don’t Know Much About the Pilgrims. HarperCollins, 2002, grades 2-4
DePaola, Tomie, My First Thanksgiving. Putnam, 1992, preschol
Donnelly, Judy, The Pilgrims and Me. Grossett & Dunlap, 2002
Dubowski, Cathy East, The Story of Squanto, First Friend to the Pilgrims. Dell, 1990, grades 3-4

Fink, Deborah, It’s a Family Thanksgiving! A Celebration of an American Tradition for Children and Their Families. Harmony Hearth, 2000
Flindt, Myron, Pilgrims: A simulation of the first year at Plymouth Colony. Interact, 1994, curriculum for grades 3-up
Fritz, Jean, Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock? Putnam & Grossett, 1975, grades 3-5

George, Jean Craighead, The First Thanksgiving. Puffin, 1993
Gibbons, Gail, Holiday House, grades 1-2:
Thanksgiving Day. 1985
Thanksgiving Is… 2004
Greene, Rhonda Gowler, The Very First Thanksgiving Day. Atheneum, 2002

Hale, Anna W., The Mayflower People: Triumphs and Tragedies. Harbinger House, 1995
Hallinan, P.K., Today Is Thanksgiving! Ideals Children’s Books, 1993, grades 1-2
Harness, Cheryl, Three Young Pilgrims. Aladdin, 1995, grades 3-6
Hayward, Linda, The First Thanksgiving. Random House, 1990, grades 1-3
Hennessy, B.G., One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims. Viking, 1999, grades 1-2

Jackson, Garnet, The First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 2000, grades 2-up
Jassem, Kate, Squanto: The Pilgrim Adventure. Troll Communications, 1979, grades 3-5

Kamma, Anne, If you were at…The First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 2001
Kessel, Joyce K., Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Carolrhoda, 1983, grades 3-5
Kinnealy, Janice, Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving, A Book of Drawing Fun. Watermill, 1988, grades 1-2
Koller, Jackie French, Nickommoh!: A Thanksgiving Celebration. Atheneum, 1999, grades 2-4

Marx, David F., Thanksgiving. Children’s Press, 2000, grades 1-2
McGovern, Ann, The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1973, grades 2-up
McMullan, Kate, Fluffy’s Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1997, grades ps-2
Melmed, Laura Krauss, This First Thanksgiving Day: A Counting Story. HarperCollins, 2001
Metaxas, Eric, Squanto and the First Thanksgiving. Rabbit Ears Books, 1996, grades 1-3
Moncure, Jane Belk, Word Bird’s Thanksgiving Words. Child’s World, 2002, preschool-1

Ochoa, Ana, Sticker Stories: The Thanksgiving Play. Grosset & Dunlap, 2002, grades 1-2
Osborne, Mary Pope, Thanksgiving on Thursday. Random House, 2002, grades 3-5

Parker, Margot, What Is Thanksgiving Day? Children’s Press, 1988, grades 1-2
Peacock, Carol Antoinette, Pilgrim Cat. Whitman, 2004, grades 1-3
Prelutsky, Jack, It’s Thanksgiving. Morrow, 1982, preschool-2

Rader, Laura J., A Child’s Story of Thanksgiving. Ideals Children’s Books, 1998, grades 2-4
Randall, Ronnie, Thanksgiving Fun: Great Things to Make and Do. Kingfisher, 1994, grades 1-3
Raphael, Elaine, and Don Bolognese, The Story of the First Thanksgiving. Scholastic, 1991, grades 1-2
Rau, Dana Meachen, Thanksgiving. Children’s Press, 2000, grades 1-2
Roberts, Bethany, Thanksgiving Mice! Clarion, 2001, preschool-1
Rockwell, Anne, Thanksgiving Day. HarperCollins, 1999
Rogers, Lou, The First Thanksgiving. Modern Curriculum Press, 1962, grades 1-3
Roloff, Nan, The First American Thanksgiving. Current, 1980
Roop, Connie and Peter:
Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving. Millbrook, 1999, grades 3-5
Pilgrim Voices: Our First Year in the New World. Walker, 1995, grades 3-5
Ross, Katherine, 1995, grades 1-3:
Crafts for Thanksgiving. Millbrook
The Story of the Pilgrims. Random House
Ruelle, Karen Gray, The Thanksgiving Beast Feast. Holiday House, 1999, grades 1-2

San Souci, Robert, N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims. Chronicle, 1991, grades 1-3
Scarry, Richard, Richard Scarry’s The First Thanksgiving of Low Leaf Worm. Little Simon, 2003, grades 1-3
Schultz, Charles M., A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Simon & Schuster, 2002, grades 1-3
Sewall, Marcia, Atheneum, grades 1-3:
People of the Breaking Day. Atheneum, 1990
The People of Plimoth. Aladdin, 1986
Thunder from the Clear Sky. Atheneum, 1995
Siegel, Beatrice, Walker, grades 3-5:
Fur Trappers and Traders: The Indians, the Pilgrims, and the Beaver. 1981
Indians of the Northeast Woodlands. 1992
Silver, Donald M., and Patricia J. Wynne, Easy Make & Learn Projects: The Pilgrims, the Mayflower & More. Scholastic, 2001, grades 3-5
Skarmeas, Nancy J., The Story of Thanksgiving. Ideals Publications, 1999
Sorenson, Lynda, Holidays: Thanksgiving. Rourke, 1994, preschool-2
Stamper, Judith Bauer:
New Friends in a New Land: A Thanksgiving Story. Steck-Vaughn, 1993, grades 1-2
Thanksgiving Fun Activity Book. Troll, 1993, grades 1-4
Stanley, Diane, Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation. HarperCollins, 2004, grades 1-3
Stiegemeyer, Julie, Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration. Concordia, 2003, grades 2-4

Tryon, Leslie, Albert’s Thanksgiving. Aladdin, 1998, grades 1-3

Umnik, Sharon Dunn, ed., 175 Easy-to-Do Thanksgiving Crafts. Boyds Mills Press, 1996, grades 2-up

Waters, Kate, Scholastic, grades 3-up:
Giving Thanks: The 1621 Harvest Feast. 2001
Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy. 1993
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl. 1989
Tapenum’s Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times. 1996
Weisgard, Leonard, The Plymouth Thanksgiving. Doubleday, 1967, grades 1-3
Whitehead, Pat, Best Thanksgiving Book, ABC Adventures. Troll Communications, 1985, grades 1-2