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« A Reign of Witches Ended (Sujatha) | Main | When They Speak .... »

December 09, 2007

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Genetics: A Cutting Edge Scientific Tool (Or Wield The Tar Brush With Care) :

» Dubious parentage from Pharyngula
It would seem like sweet poetic justice if James Watson were found to be 1/8th African, but I'm afraid I don't quite believe it. This is news coming from a company called deCODE genetics, an Icelandic outfit that analyzes... [Read More]

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You can talk openly about dogs without being politically incorrect. You won’t get into trouble, lose your career or research grants, as you might if you reveal unpleasant truths about humans.

All domestic dogs, from Chihuahua to Great Dane, are species canis familiaris; breed genetic differences result from enforced separation by breeders/trainers for the last 800 years. Domestic dogs are all one species. Similarly, all humans are species homo sapiens with race differences resulting from separation over thousands of years by geographic barriers. Dog breeds and human races are directly analogous as sub-groups within the respective species.

Much can be learned from studying dogs; medical science does a great deal of this to avoid experimentation on humans. The brain is no exception, as dog brain structure and information flow processes are quite similar to that in humans. Numerous dog brain studies to analyze human brain diseases/conditions are in the medical literature.

Any experienced dog breeder will acknowledge the profound influence of genetics on intelligence and behavior. Traits such as trainability, aggression, prey drive, docility, bite inhibition are highly heritable and difficult to modify. Extensive evaluations of dog intelligence have developed breed rankings according to ease of training (number of repetitions needed to learn a command) and reliability (percent of time) of correct response to learned commands. Instinctive ability to to take correct action in complex situations is also recognized to vary with breed (there is a valid reason police K-9 units use German Shepherds instead of Pit Bulls). Among dog breeds, there is a huge Achievement_Gap, and it is GENETIC. This is all easily Googled…

Humans are not exempt from the fundamental rules of biology. Rushton’s publications (and James Watson’s recent comments) are heavily-supported with mountains of peer-reviewed research by well-credentialed scholars; numerous key citations are available in two recent books: Hart "Understanding Human History" and Lynn "Race Differences in Intelligence."

Here's one more that you might want to read: Malcolm Gladwell's review of James Flynn's "What is Intelligence?". And, yes, IQ, race and heritability are discussed.

Have read it. Flynn treats genetics and environment as separate variables. That is an extremely flawed assumption. In reality, they are not independent. Genetically smarter humans have the capability to better improve environments for themselves and their children. Simple example: having enough sense to come in from the cold. So even environment has a strong genetic component.

As IQs have ratched upward with time, due to improved environments, the racial gaps have remained essentially constant in America. The black white SAT gap has been around 200 points since the test was created. And that holds even at the top of the IQ spectrum: those blacks admitted to Ivy League universities, the cream of the black intellectual student crop, children of rich blacks who have had all the environmental advantages, the best blacks that can be scraped up anywhere in the country and given a free ride (to pump Ivy diversity numbers) are 200 points down from whites (TBC, pg452). And those aren't even the smartest whites, as some are children of rich alumni donors, legacy admissions, who get Ivy-admitted without meeting the same rigorous requirments as other appliccants...

Let me be very clear at the outset. I don't give a damn if Watson is 1/8 black, 9% Asian (some are looking at this number as a mitigating factor!!!) or 0.25% Martian. I don't even much care if deCode Genetics interpreted his DNA analysis data correctly for racial ancestry. All that is irrelevant to the content of my post. There is no triumphalism intended - I meant it as a cautionary note to not make too much of race and "innate" human worth, especially in areas where we know the environment plays a significant role (the fertile soil theory).

The reason this article caught my attention is that it may be a timely reminder that those who live by the sword of DNA may sometimes die or at least get nicked by the same. Watson had made pronouncements about IQ based on race, a characteristic which in his case, may well turn out to be fuzzier than black and white. Yet, he was so confident of the DNA's potential to predict human predilections that he recommended abortion of fetuses with a dumb or homosexual gene.

It is interesting that Big Don has enthusiastically quoted Rushton whose wisdom William Saletan now regrets having used to formulate his own sweeping generalizations.

BD, suppose you are right that the human race is indeed divided into "breeds" of Chihuahuas, Great Danes, Pitbulls and German Shepherds and our ancestry determines whether we fight, run or respond intelligently to complex situations. When are you and Rushton going to come out and boldly tell us which K-9 units each race should be assigned to? Don't forget the various degrees of fine tuning required for the numerous permutations and combinations of the mongrel breeds - black/white, white/brown, brown/ yellow and the 1/8ths, the 9 percenters and the 1/64ths. Who among us will hunt, till the soil, fly the planes or cogitate in an armchair? Until you have that cleared up and show the courage to recommend societal divisions based on your convictions, all this is quite silly and as in Watson's case, foolishly arrogant.

What is so ridiculous is the outrageous sums of tax monies going in attempt to equalize the outcomes for groups that are clearly unequal genetically. What a waste.

How much sense does a Dog_Diversity Program make? e.g. NCLB (No Chihuahua Left Behind), Affirmative Action for Dogs (moving chihuahuas into the K-9 corp equally with German Shepherds), forcing folks to have their German Shepherds trained in the same obedience classes with Chihuahuas, requiring hunters to use chihuahuas equally with retrievers, forcing sheep ranchers to use chihuahuas equally with border collies...?? Totally destroys the productivity of a merit-based dog utility. You get the point: Let the canine cream rise to the surface and keep the liberal dog-lovers out of it.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary (not my preferred dictionary, but comes up near the top among free dictionaries online), "racist" means:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/racist

I agree with Ruchira that it's better for people to come forward with their pre-judged conclusions at the outset than to force everyone to wait for them to lay their cards on the table.

The following equation:

Genetic difference (in the sense of incidence of different alleles)
+
Expenditures on programs to foster social equality
=
Outrageous waste of money on a "race" of people pre-determined by their genes to have a lower capacity

...requires a variety of information not offerred into evidence.

To believe that expenditures of tax money on social engineering are based on race, you have to create a definition of "race" that includes the disproportionate number of (disproportionately racist) poor white folks from places like the Central Valley, CA and from the South who rely on benefits. The "race" has to account for the disproportionately white farmers who survive on the crop subsidies that are one of the big benefits programs (in addition to Medicare and Social Security payments among sun belters) that mean that white "red staters" who respond so enthusiastically to race baiting are also the most reliant on federal funds, paid for by net-losers of federal tax dollars like majority non-"white" California...

Or you just have to believe that money spent on genetically "superior" white people is money better spent than on genetically "inferior" people of color...

You have to believe the social programs on which money is spent are not effective, a tautology based on the conclusion that "race" is the primary determinant of capacity...

In short, you have to believe "that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Then the question becomes, "why are you a racist?," a political question, not a scientific one.

The dog analogy is just bizarre. Mother nature never produced a chihuahua, or German Shepherd. Variations that different were engineered through careful, selective breeding based not on the environment, but on the will of generations of breeders actively seeking very specific traits within the larger set of traits that might have made the dog successful, from an evolutionary perspective (in fact, many such breeds have significant health problems and other disadvantages as a result of such inbreeding). The only comparable human analogy would be something like the Spanish Hapsburgs or other European royal families. But then, I suppose Charles II the Spain, as a European, would qualify as "canine cream," notwithstanding the underbite, infertility, and other serious limitations caused by his incestuous pedigree.

What a great thread; you people are finally beginning to get it -- Woof, woof!!!

Apropos of Anna's closing paragraph, this NYT story about puppy mills serving the "superior" residents of Bel-Air.

Top Poodle (who actually happens to be a very interesting human) e-mailed me to add this further elucidation:

I just think that a person comparing breeds of dogs with races of humans deserves a slightly lower mammalian response for his disanalogous rant.

Regarding the comment on trainability in dog breeds as a measure of intelligence, and differences here being due to genetics. I wouldn't be so sure about that. These may well be stable inherited traits, but in light of results obtained in selecting for "tame" foxes, and dogs that have gone feral, it is clear that many inherited traits are in fact epigenetic, extremely complex, and subject to rapid change (i.e. over a couple of generations).

I think all dogs are trainable however some are quicker at learning than others. Actually all animals for that matter. Great blog with good subjects here.

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