What if it really was like that?

If you read any amount of history, you will discover that people of various times and places have matter-of-factly believed things that today we find incredible (in the original sense of “not credible”). I have found, however, that one of the most interesting questions one can ask is “What if it really was like that?”

That is, what if our ancestors weren’t entirely lying or fantasizing when they believed in…say…the existence of vampires? If you’re willing to ask this question with an open mind, you might discover that there is a rare genetic defect called “erythropoietic porphyrinuria” that can mimic some of the classical stigmata of vampirism. Victims’ gums may be drawn back on the teeth, making said teeth appear fanglike; they are likely to be photophobic, shunning bright light; and, being anemic, they may develop a craving for blood…

I think the book that taught me to ask “What if it really was like that?” systematically might have been Julian Jaynes’s The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes observed that Bronze Age literary sources take for granted the routine presence of god-voices in peoples’ heads. Instead of dismissing this as fantasy, he developed a theory that until around 1000BC it really was like that – humans had a bicameral consciousness in which one chamber or operating subsystem, programmed by culture, manifested to the other as the voice of God or some dominant authority figure (“my ka is the ka of the king”). Jaynes’s ideas were long dismissed as brilliant but speculative and untestable; however, some of his predictions are now being borne out by neuroimaging techniques not available when he was writing.

A recent coment on this blog pointed out that many cultures – including our own until around the time of the Industrial Revolution – constructed many of their customs around the belief that women are nigh-uncontrollably lustful creatures whose sexuality has to be restrained by strict social controls and even the amputation of the clitoris (still routine in large parts of the Islamic world). Of course today our reflex is to dismiss this as pure fantasy with no other function than keeping half the human species in perpetual subjection. But some years ago I found myself asking “What if it really was like that?”

Let’s be explicit about the underlying assumptions here and their consequences. It used to be believed (and still is over much of the planet) that a woman in her fertile period left alone with any remotely presentable man not a close relative would probably (as my commenter put it) be banging him like a barn door in five minutes. Thus, as one conseqence, the extremely high value traditionally placed on physical evidence of virginity at time of marriage.

Could it really have been like that? Could it still be like that in the Islamic world and elsewhere today? One reason I think this question demands some attention is that the costs of the customs required to restrain female sexuality under this model are quite high on many levels. At minimum you have to prevent sex mixing, which is not merely unpleasant for both men and women but requires everybody to invest lots of effort in the system of control (wives and daughters cannot travel or in extreme cases even go outside without male escort, homes have to be built with zenanahs). At the extreme you find yourself mutilating the genitalia of your own daughters as they scream under the knife.

I don’t think customs that expensive can stay in force without solid reason. And it’s not sufficient to fall back on feminist cant and say the men are doing it to oppress the women, as if desire to oppress were a primary motive that doesn’t require explanation. For one thing, in such cultures women (especially older women out of their fertile period) are always key figures in the control system. It couldn’t function without them being ready to take a hard line against sexual “impurity” – often, a harder line than men do.

And, in fact, a large body of historical evidence suggests that it is possible to train most women to be uncontrollably lustful with strange men. All you have to do is limit their sexual opportunities enough, as in a system of purdah or strict gender segregation that almost totally prevents close contact with males other than close relatives.

What I’m suggesting is that the they’ll-fling-themselves-at-any-male model of female behavior believed by strict patriarchal societies is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy – that is, if your society begins to evolve towards purdah, women (who have only a limited fertile period) adapt by becoming more sexually aggressive. This in turn motivates stricter customs.

The effect is a vicious circle. At the extreme, the societies in which everyone expects women to bang strangers on five minutes’ notice find they elicit exactly that behavior with the methods they employ to suppress it. Well, except for clitoridectomy; that probably works, being your last resort when you’ve noticed that social repression is making your fertile women ever more uncontrollable when they can get at men.

We can find some support for this theory even in present time. I’ve noted before that in our modern, liberated era women seem not to be demanding as high a clearing price for sex as they should. In traditional terms, they’re being lustful. And this is in a culture that probably encourages sex mixing as much or more than any in history, driving the opportunity cost associated with not randomly humping strangers to an unprecedented low.

I’m not writing to suggest any particular thing we should do about this. What I’m encouraging is a variant of the exercise I’ve previously called “killing the Buddha”. Sometimes the consequences of supposing that our ancestors reported their experience of the world faithfully, and that their customs were rational adaptations to that experience, lead us to conclusions we find preposterous or uncomfortable. I think that the more uncomfortable we get, the more important it becomes to ask ourselves “What if it really was like that?”

243 thoughts on “What if it really was like that?

  1. >Prepare yourself for the onslaught of feminist outrage…

    The only danger I face from feminist outrage is that I might hurt myself laughing at it.

  2. It seems pretty obvious that the problem is that men are the more “uncontrollably lustful creatures”, but, either way, the customs are designed to minimize casual sex.

  3. If you’ve ever gone to a party or mixer at an all-girls school…. this isn’t so outlandish. Hell, even just accompanying your wife inside a maternity or children’s clothing store.

    It’s almost frightening, like you’re a juicy pork chop surrounded by very hungry chihuahuas. And these are women who are only partly segregated from men.

  4. I might add, the effects of gender segregation seem to be similar on men in places where it’s thoroughly practiced. As evidenced by what tends to happen to women (usually ignorant outsiders) who wander into those types of places and act normally (i.e. show signs of being unattached and “available”).

  5. >It’s almost frightening, like you’re a juicy pork chop surrounded by very hungry chihuahuas. And these are women who are only partly segregated from men.

    I think this might be a different mechanism, not so much lustfulness as status competition among the women.

  6. >Can I meet some of these indiscriminate women please?

    You’re probably too old for a Wellesley party, so the ick factor would override the “ohmigod it’s male, must mount it!” imperative.

    Go a decently high-end mall. Then find a store that specializes in children’s clothing. Go there, and ask for help, saying you need to pick out clothing for your [niece|nephew]. Their defenses will be down, and they will be half melted already- a ripe field of high quality females ready for the taking. The rest is up to you.

  7. I think this might be a different mechanism, not so much lustfulness as status competition among the women.

    With women that’s always possible, but it’s hard for them to fake certain signs of actual physical interest.

  8. It recently struck me that one of the reasons marrying a virgin might have been so important is disease. A virgin won’t have an STD, so marrying a virgin keeps you safe from getting an STD. In earlier times, STDs could be a life time of extreme misery or even a death sentence.

  9. Thus, as one conseqence, the extremely high value traditionally placed on physical evidence of virginity at time of marriage.

    That had more to do with ensuring that your children, who are going to inherit your property, were really yours, prior to birth control and paternity tests.

    And it’s not too much of a reach to imagine that it’s men who assume that their womenfolk will bang someone like a barn door after five minutes simply because that’s what they’d do. That explains the restrictions many cultures put on women without “what if it really like that”.

    It’s a fair question. But I guess my gut feel is, no, it’s not.

  10. The flipside is that with the increased gender mixing in modern life women have a higher threshold for sexual attraction.

    We see women as short as 5 feet tall specify in their online dating profiles that prospective partners be 6’4″ or taller. Men that tall are actually rather rare.

    Women want confident men, but what they call confident men call arrogant. The confidence that comes from general competence and specific expertise isn’t enough.

    I have long thought that the instinctive component of human behavior is much larger than many want to believe.

  11. I don’t doubt that it “seemed” like that and “seems” like that. I think you’re on to something regarding perception.

    But it ISN’T like that. And as people become civilized, they realize this, and realize how uncivilized their prior behavior was. Or at least, most of the time they do.

    Unless someone comes along and excuses it. Or justifies it. Then they may go right into their lizard brains. They can be led there. They are, every day.

    In short, the struggle of man is the struggle against all this, all the things you’ve described as “real.” They are real, seem real, but they’re not real.

  12. >And it’s not too much of a reach to imagine that it’s men who assume that their womenfolk will bang someone like a barn door after five minutes simply because that’s what they’d do.

    The trouble with this theory is that if it were true (that is, men are generalizing from a culture-independent feature of male behavior, and the adaptive response follows logically) all cultures would restrict female sexuality about equally.

    That is definitely not what we see in the anthropological record; the range of variation is large. Which makes me think there are at least two and possibly more game-theoretic equilibria in the space of mating strategies; one in which women are trained to self-control and exercise it because the opportunity cost of turning down sex is low, one that traditional patriarchal beliefs describe exactly, and possibly others.

  13. Ahhh…the temptation of forbidden fruit eh?

    I seem to recall that in the US – maybe during the 50s – there was such a successful indoctrination of youngsters about the perils of promiscuity, that people became concerned at the prospect of young adults *not* getting together…leading to a series of PSAs that highlighted all-American apple pie scenarios where good boys and girls meet and have a jolly respectable time – the weenie roast, for example.

  14. All you have to do is limit their sexual opportunities enough

    Brings to mind recent stories regarding the number of searches for porn in different areas of the country.

    Utah has the highest numbers.

    — Foo Quuxman

  15. This also illustrates the problem with systems of external restraint vs. teaching people to practice self-governing behavior. The laws must become ever more numerous and restrictive, ultimately regimenting every aspect of life. And this means that everyone will commit “three felonies a day”, as the eponymous book puts it, leaving it up to the discretion of the authorities to choose whom is worthy of prosecution.

    Western Civilization’s foundational principles include the idea that ${DEITY} knows not only what we do, but what we think. As Y’shua said, a man who looks upon a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart, whether he physically commits the act or his fear of the law suppresses him from doing so. And even the Ten Commandments include “thou shalt not covet”, which leads to destructive behavior like Occupy.

    The “Eastern” (including Thar) morality says that if you get caught doing something wrong, you are shamed, which means that whistleblowers should be punished for causing the shame, and you’re still allowed to lack self-control, so long as you avoid doing anything around witnesses or leaving evidence behind, but the Western morality says you feel guilt about even wanting to do bad things, even if no one other than you and God know about it. We are thus driven to train ourselves to have such self-control that we no longer consciously desire to engage in destructive acts. We don’t need the overbearing maze of laws to precisely circumscribe our behavior, because we have internalized the principles upon which those laws claim as their base.

  16. Worth thinking, when looking at the sort of feedback loops you’re describing, if anyone is profiting from all the effort. Selling a solution that makes the problem worse is a heck of a business as long as nobody catches wise.

    (Elsewhere – alas, I do not recall where – I recently read a blogger speculating on this dynamic in police states. Repression angers the populace, requiring more repression, requiring an expansion of the security forces….)

  17. Have you tried to tie this back in to what you know about evolutionary psych yet? Because I was just thinking about this over a cup of coffee, and it seems pretty obvious to me.

    Inbreeding is bad. There’s a pretty universal meme, that when you have a stable isolated population and then some strangers come to town, everybody wants to fuck the strangers. There’s probably a good reason for this.

    The populations that have practices leading to the self-fulfilling prophesy from the OP, also tend to inbreed. This is no secret, and the effects are visible. I’ve seen reports on certain immigrant populations (in places like the US and UK) originating in areas with such practices, who all tended to be extended family from the same certain villages in the ‘old country’ and who married in the extended family. One outcome is that their children tended to be, frankly, stupid stunted and unhealthy. They had shockingly higher occurences of developmental delays, need for special education etc than the norm in the new host country.

    Have you considered that maybe it’s just that one of these women, if given a chance, desperately wants access to fresh genetic material so at least *one* of her offspring might be healthy?

  18. Worth thinking, when looking at the sort of feedback loops you’re describing, if anyone is profiting from all the effort. Selling a solution that makes the problem worse is a heck of a business as long as nobody catches wise.

    Iatrogenesis. Like the welfare state itself, as a cure for “poverty”.

  19. Well the obvious problem with this theory is that such cultures tended to marry off women early – at around puberty or even before. Long years of involuntary celibacy were rare for young women.

    More like, when the parents choose a husband for a 14 years old girl it is going to be the boring, reliable good provider beta type. Not the exciting, unreliable alpha who has the better genes but would make a rather terrible husband / father. There are some evol-psy theories about mate the beta, cheat with the alpha kicking around. So it’s more like the “sexy bad guy” thing : http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/britneyspears/criminal.html

  20. The trouble with this theory is that if it were true (that is, men are generalizing from a culture-independent feature of male behavior, and the adaptive response follows logically) all cultures would restrict female sexuality about equally.

    Mostly, they do. Not using the same methods – it varies from “be a nice girl or no one will want to marry you” down to requiring an escort in public, but the intent is much the same. There aren’t that many exceptions from the pattern.

    You’re speculating that women become more sexually aggressive if they are kept away from men. I think the reverse is more likely to be true. From an evolutionary standpoint, yes women have a limited fertile period, but they also have to live with the consequences – so they tend to be choosier.

  21. @ESR @Jim

    I don’t understand this bicameral mind stuff – to me the standard theory is that you have a society based on some absolute king bossing people around, and then you simply imagine the universe, religion etc. along the same lines. What does the bicameral theory predict or explain better?

    All we have as input data is religious texts, but they do not directly describe primary experiences, they were combed through and modified by religious authorities a hundred times before going into general consumption, so just because someone somewhere thought it is a good idea to present people religious law as coming from a voice talking in your head, it does not prove that anyone ever actually experienced anything like that.

    And this stuff of the voice of conscience talking in your heart / head did not even die out in ancient times, it was even a popular Protestant metaphor a few generations ago if I am not mistaken.

    “Include the knower in the known!” – this works even with our 21st century brains if you try stuff like Zen meditation.

  22. The purdah and inbreeding thing might also serve to explain why certain regions and cultures have had such a voracious (past and present, this is ongoing) appetite for slaves.

  23. I don’t think customs that expensive can stay in force without solid reason.

    The Mesoamericans ritually sacrificed an awful lot of humans over a long period of time, and I don’t think their reasons were very solid.

  24. @Shenpen

    I disagree with “better genes”. Perhaps a barbarian tribe of hunter-gatherers or stock keepers needs those bad-boy traits. A seminomadic tribe needs a certain size territory or it begins to starve. It helps to have wild young men to butt heads with neighboring tribesmen and protect the territory.

    Since we adopted farming those bad-boy traits are a liability. People tend to resent having their barns burnt and their womenfolk kidnapped. Barbarian tribes make lousy neighbors.

    Most civilized cultures involve parents in mate selection. The things parents look for in a son-in-law rarely impress the girls. The smart parents give their daughters veto powers to minimize problems later on.

    This exerts selective pressure on men. It may not have had so much effect on women.

    Perhaps Women’s Lib is fueled by, among other things, a drive to escape parental guidance in mate selection.

  25. @Ltw
    >That had more to do with ensuring that your children, who are going to inherit your property, were really yours, prior to birth control and paternity tests.

    I think this is correct, or at least a large part of it. The point being that when a baby is born it is self evident who mama is, but not self evident who papa is. If the matrix of these cultural issues were simply the uncontrolled promiscuity of women one has to ask, why control that at all? If women want to bang everyone they meet who cares? Why pay a huge price to prevent this? Ensuring genetic propagation in face of this particular sexual diamorphism seems the obvious answer, and the only answer I can think of. Of course, my lack of imagination does not get to restrict reality.

    But I will add this, in reference to the practices of deeply controlling a woman’s sexuality. It is my observation that women have the ability to shut off their sexuality entirely. I don’t know the mechanism, but I am sure you all know women who are in unloving marriages where there hasn’t been any sex for twenty years. No masturbation either. Somehow they can simply switch it off entirely. It happens a lot when a women has been sexually injured (thinking psychologically here, not physically) but it also happens when they don’t have access to appropriate sexual partners.

  26. Societies with matrilineal descent tend to involve the women’s brothers in child rearing.

  27. A rather attractive female friend of mine reports having been to Saudi Arabia — where she was quite shamelessly hit on by every random shop owner and taxi driver.

    Maybe women’s uncontrollable sexual urges aren’t the primary problem in the Islamic world. Maybe it’s men’s uncontrollable sexual urges. As Ltw said, it’s all about who your heirs are, and who gets your property when you die; in an environment with randy men everywhere, if you have a particularly comely (healthy) wife then unless you keep meticulous track of her activities, you don’t have much of a way of knowing if the child she bears you is really yours. She doesn’t even need to be particularly needy; she can pick and choose from just about any panting, slobbering bloke in the village. Hiding her in veils so the other menfolk don’t get ideas can’t hurt.

    The Arabs’ cousins, the Hebrews, seemed to have devised a way of taming this problem — by genitally mutilating their men. While it’s disingenuous to say that Jewish laws on sexuality are not crazy, they don’t seem nearly as crazy as the extremes to which the Muslims have gone.

  28. A similar line of argument suggests why some cultures harshly punish women for being raped—a practice that strikes the modern progressive mind as being not only cruel but also insane: a complete non sequitur. How on Earth could it make sense to punish women for being raped? But if a woman in a traditional society is raped (presumably by someone other than her assigned male guardian), it means that she put herself in a position where she could be raped. In other words, being raped is an indication of irresponsible, even reckless behavior. (We may still condemn her punishers, of course, but we should at least try to understand them.)

  29. Dave Sill: “It seems pretty obvious that the problem is that men are the more “uncontrollably lustful creatures”,…”

    Yes, but the problem is that women’s “uncontrollable lustfullness” (to the extent that is an accurate description) is wildly more expensive to the woman and everyone around her, in the form of pregnancy. Systems to control the men have much worse bang-for-the-buck. Without this understanding, none of the systems anywhere make any sense; with this rather politically incorrect idea, most of them make some sort of sense, with matching preconceptions.

  30. Go and reread some of the “Game” blogs like Chateau Heartiste.

    There is only one difference I can see – the women want an Alpha male, who might make them pregnant but not provide for the baby very well. When “replacement level” is 4 or more children, getting pregnant outside of marriage (support and protection of the male and the tribe/village) is disastrous. Fatherhood was for the child from conception until they were independent, but part of that was children had to be their children, and legitimate fathers were held responsible for their legitimate children. Bastards were welfare dependents (that was unfair to the child, but the burden of supporting a mother and child was and is real – (non-black) Widows and orphans were not willfully that way).

    It ends up being disastrous today as well, but our values say cultural suicide, and demographic debt crashes are a price we are willing to pay for sexual licentiousness. Self-control, or the old classics, prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude are even derided! Yet when that happens we return to being brutes. Animals. Rationality in service of the animal instead of controlling it.

    The village has become the government, and we don’t insist that in the area of sex (and to a growing extent in things like private property) that the frontal cortex MUST override the limbic system and individuals are responsible for the consequences for not doing so. Nanny McState will kiss the boo-boo and make it all better.

    You can talk about it in the abstract, but if the “new morality” is only producing just over one child per couple, and Islam (and traditional Judiasm, Christianity, etc.) are producing 4, your meme and genome will die out. Preach natural selection, but then barrenness is unnatural and will be selected out. And only women can become Mothers, and only for a certain part of their lives. We used to revere motherhood – isn’t that what all the restrictions are about? Finding a woman to be a Mother, and a man to be a Father? Have we severed procreation from sex so far that we can’t even see the connection with the ancient traditions?

    We worry about leaving a wrecked earth or huge debt to “our grandchildren”, but if you look around, we aren’t leaving grandchildren who will be there to worry. The conventions that cheer and promote the culture – including and especially scifi, fantasy, and geekdom – are preemptive wakes, not showers.

    If you want real feminist ire, just take a real and honest look at what I think is properly called “The Culture of Death”, which is our current western materialist society. Although I think the state has ZERO business with marriage (other than enforcing it as a private contract and NOT overriding the “till death do us part” – I enjoy my Catholic compatriots expressions and continence when I ask why I need a government permit for a sacrament), that is what the “Gay Marriage” issue is about. And the destruction of Fatherhood – note the word is not Andro-archal, but Patriarchal. That can be done immoderately, but the virtue is moderation, temperance, not abstinence or the opposite vice.

    If there is no purpose, end, or TELOS, not much matters but maximizing your own personal pleasure in the short term. If you are worried about generations yet unaborted, the perspective changes.

  31. Good thoughts, and I think it extends far beyond sexuality and voices in one’s head.

    I believe humanity is still evolving, and that evolution can happen swiftly.

    We now think of Scots as the engineers who built so much of our world in the 1800s – but 500 years ago they were thought of as savage and ignorant. Is it possible that the Scottish people changed their phenotype or even genotype significantly within 300 years time, perhaps with the influx of genes from outside sources?

    As for sexuality, the idea of women and children as sexually innocent is relatively new. As noted many cultures have considered women to be sexually insatiable, but prior to Rousseau many cultures also considered children to be so sexually charged that they didn’t even try to rein them in until they reached adulthood (i.e., about age 12).

    Having read a good deal of history, I do think we are often guilty of judging the past by modern standards and presuming that our ancestors were mistaken when they reported what they witnessed, and I wonder if we really would have acted so differently in the past – or should have.

    Here’s a really controversial scenario: in recent years we have found connections between disease load in childhood, nutrition, and intelligence. There are a few African nations that today boast an average IQ in the 60s. Although there are many factors involved in IQ scores, a score that low probably represents something real, not just a cultural difference.

    When slaves from Africa were brought to the Americas, it was largely because of their ability to perform work that was physical, not mental, and because they had resistance to many of the diseases endemic in regions such as what we now call the southern U.S.

    Is it possible that the men who justified slavery as a means of benefitting and improving those enslaved had some basis in reality? What would we do if faced with a situation where the only people who stood a good chance of surviving in a harsh environment with exploitable resources had an average IQ of 60, and we did not have the luxury of being able to shunt a large portion of the labor force into institutions?

    We might institute a very similar system, even today, in the best interests of those incapable of making good choices for themselves, and hope to improve them to the point where they can live independently, or at least semi-independently. In fact, we have such systems and call them charity. Though we never call it slavery, from the perspective of those enrolled it operates much the same way – with many restrictions and the beneficiaries being told what to do.

    Of course, if we presume that the original proponents of slavery were honest in their appraisal, we can also see the great dangers in that project. Over time, with better nutrition, lower disease loads, better social institutions, and even introduction of genes from other populations, the enslaved class would naturally improve – just as the original proponents intended – but alongside those who took this path with the hopes of improving the objects of their attentions there were more who took this path with the intention of profiting for themselves, and after several generations a temporary solution to a temporary problem became a permanent fixture in that society, and those defending the institution for personal gain went so far as to destroy evidence of the historic cultural accomplishments of the peoples in question.

    This all seems far-fetched from a modern viewpoint, but I am not so sure we are qualified to judge. We think in terms of the increasingly brutal form of slavery practiced in the 1800s that became more authoritarian as a result of several attempted slave uprisings in the first decade of the 1800s, but forget that in the mid-1700s relations were good enough that in South Carolina on several occasions slaves were armed by their masters in order to participate in the Indian wars.

    Likewise, we see the art and craftwork from some of these African nations and note that there was considerable skill present there – and forget that these nations seldom sold off their best and brightest, but rather sold off those whose presence they would not miss.

    Of course, several hundred years later the descendants of those first enslaved might bear little resemblance to their forefathers, just as the Scots of the 1800s bore little resemblance to the Scots of the 1500s – what with better nutrition, lower disease loads in childhood, and so forth.

    Which leaves us with the disturbing question: were our ancestors correct in their observations, and in their intentions to improve those that they saw as deficient?

  32. @Alan

    The best argument I have found against controlling other people “For their own good” is to remember which road is paved with good intentions.

    I sincerely doubt that anyone involved with involuntary servitude for plantations in the tropics ever had good intentions. The death rates for both the indentured and the enslaved were too high. Hell, the death rates on the middle passage were apalling.

    The Hamster is strong.

  33. I think somebody just opened a can with the label “The Thite Mans Burden (TM)”…
    I love these libertarian blogs.

  34. Up until roughly the 1840s, the idea that women were insatiably lustful creatures, who put upon their menfolk with unrelenting demands for sex was a common trope in Western European cultures as well. Including America, founded by Puritans, Calvinists, and people who couldn’t abide by those loose morals of 17th Century Netherlands…

    The Industrial Revolution opened up more avenues for single women to earn a living other than being a carbuncle on the earning potential of a man – not many by modern standards, but an order of magnitude or more than had existed before…and women who suddenly had agency needed to be taken seriously as people.

    Indeed, those dowdy Puritans of Plymouth Rock documented several cases of social shunning where the man of the house did not properly service his wife’s sexual needs. In one case, the man in question hadn’t let his wife bang him like a barn door for two years, and he got publicly castigated by his pastor for failing to live up to his obligations!

    It wasn’t until the rise of Evangelical Protestantism in the 1860s that upper middle class and higher class women became the Angels of Purity Who Have To Be Coaxed To Fuck…and this was largely so that they could get political power without being naysaid as “weak, irrational women.” If you’re going to be wresting power from Victorian Gentlemen, you need to have some claim of moral superiority over them.

    This is when the term “fallen woman” entered the lexicon. You can’t become a “fallen woman” unless there’s some higher vantage point to fall from. Portrayals of lower middle class and lower class women portrayed them as rutting doxies and dollymops, with published screeds about the utter debauchery of Irish and Italian immigrant women who would drag men off into dark alleys and give that barn door a break from its systemic abuse.

    It was only through accepting the Salvation of Our Pasty White Celibate Savior and Lord that women attained a high enough moral standing to {fall|gain political agency|retain their status}.

    We’re still adjusting to the releasing of that mind set, 130 years later.

  35. A few “economic” remarks. These cultures were very prone to a dearth of elligible men due to their tribal wars and blood feuds. So women were not worth much. Their harrowing fear was also raising the child of an outsider. Whenever women became economical important, all that chastidy and virginity stuff went out the window.

    A case in point seems to have been late 18th century (east coast) USA. Child labor was valuable, so a widdow with four kids could support herself an a new husband. No questions asked anymore.

    And why should you look for any other explanation than the one given by Jessica? Women are more choosie because they have more to lose?

  36. It is my observation that women have the ability to shut off their sexuality entirely. I don’t know the mechanism, but I am sure you all know women who are in unloving marriages where there hasn’t been any sex for twenty years. No masturbation either. Somehow they can simply switch it off entirely. It happens a lot when a women has been sexually injured (thinking psychologically here, not physically) but it also happens when they don’t have access to appropriate sexual partners.

    Ain’t that a neat trick. Me, I’ve been looking for the off switch for this thing ever since its higher functions started coming online back in ’89 or so.

  37. My tentative theory about the divergence in beliefs about which sex is sexually insatiable is that there’s enough variation within each sex that people can make up whatever they want and find it plausible. Or maybe there’s some nutritional explanation or some other environmental difference in various cultures which affects men’s and women’s sex drives differently.

    Jeff Read, a very high proportion of American men are circumcised. I believe this is result of Protestant envy of Judaism. In any case, I haven’t heard that American men have lower sex drives than Europeans.

    Checks wikipedia. Rate in the US is lower than I expected. Your argument falls down because Arab men are typically circumcised.

    Eric, if you find feminist pushback uninteresting, you could try applying a similar style of argument to anti-semitism.

  38. @Jessica

    The inheriteance theory is overly simplistic. The biggest prize to inherit in the ancient world was the Emperor of Rome, and look into the clusterfuck of adoption that raised Marcus Aurelius into power. Also, they weren’t really individualists, property often belonged to the clan, extended family, not to the individual.

    Women shutting off sexuality: I have seen this. It was a really useless husband and lots of responsibilities had to be taken over by the woman, because her sense of responsibility to the kids and old mom and in general to the family was very strong and she could not give up the same way that guy did, and a sense of pride that the home must be clean even if nobody is helping, because husband, mom, adult kids are all lazy useless, so she transformed herself into a bulldog like workhorse who works the job, housework, and just does what her conscience dictates her that must be done, without any sense of joy or fun in her life. And that included sex. I pitied her a lot, then a bit less when I realized she draws immense amounts of pride from it. She feels bad about everything, except her own self, she feels very good about herself, a huge amount of well justified self-esteem, which despite all that brings some measure of happiness… but not enough. Really I was often wondering offering her a month of holiday at our place so that all the other people in her family grow the fuck up or starve. But she would be too proud to accept. So there is this “self appointed workhorse mode of living” that puts duty – duty in the sense of stuff that needs to be done but nobody in the family will do, so a sense of responsibility – that shuts of joy, and sex. Women need to have free time, have fun, joy, stress release, romance to want sex. Men often want sex even when overworked and stressed. This is my experience.

  39. BTW everybody I really enjoy the quality of discussions we have here, but it is too bad that our host posts so rarely. My usual hangouts don’t have these quality discussions. So what are your usual hangouts, especially for these kinds of anthropological, historical, philosophical discussions that to be honest interest me more than the tech stuff? Reddit nope, MetaFilter nope, Hacker News no longer, any other ones? Where do you folks normally have these discussions when ESR doesn’t post?

  40. Well the obvious problem with this theory is that such cultures tended to marry off women early – at around puberty or even before. Long years of involuntary celibacy were rare for young women.

    That’s not a problem with the theory, it’s an obviously predictable outcome of the perspective that women’s libido needs to be kept under control. The father wants her off his books before she can get out and ruin whatever value she has, and the husband wants both a younger woman and one who has had less likelihood of surreptitiously running around.

    I don’t understand this bicameral mind stuff – to me the standard theory is that you have a society based on some absolute king bossing people around, and then you simply imagine the universe, religion etc. along the same lines. What does the bicameral theory predict or explain better?

    The theory isn’t about the development of religion, it’s about the mind’s self-perception. Read the book; the theory is difficult to summarize without smashing a lot of the nuance, and his take on ancient texts (including, notably, much of Homer) is controversial but thought-provoking. (I’d be quite surprised if it weren’t a seed for a number of good sci-fi races.) The short, unfascinating version is that Jaymes believes that the running verbal commentary we have in our heads was not originally recognized as internally produced and was taken to be the voice of a spirit or god, sort of an opposite of the out-of-body experience.

  41. “What if it really was like that?” or rather “What was the reason they thought that?”, isn’t it?

    Long held ideas are not necessarily true.

    Also there are complications about “regulatory capture” of group with false ideas / expectations.

  42. @Ken Burnside,

    This checks out.

    Item 1, unsourced: 18th century Catholic Europe, France was surprisingly lewd, and in the 19th century French upper classy women shut down some count who tried to entertain them with erotic poetry as “Don’t be so old fashioned!'” – as in the 19th century old-fashioned meant sexually libertine – there was a sexually prudish counter-revolution going on. Story from a friend who read it in a book, it was originally sourced, but I don’t know the source.

    Item 2, sourced, Stefan Zweig in The World of Yesterday telling how incredible prudish the women of Vienna, 1900 were, as in, refraining to say words like “legs” or “pants”. But this was not religious. This was actually an Age of Reason thing: sex was seen as unreliable, because irrational, instinctive, not guided by reason, animalistic, not rationalistic, so it had to be suppressed by rules set by Reason alone.

    Item 3, sourced, Gertrude Himmelfarb in Victorian Minds explaining how chastity as a 19th century invention was pro-woman. Before there were ladies to respected and wenches to be, well, um, raped. Victorians wanted to eleveate all women to ladies, and this required this chastity thing to shut down sexual predatoriness of men – because living on a pedestal may be uncomfortable but it still beats living in the gutter.

  43. A very provocative posting. But some caveats…

    FGM is mainly an African thing, not a Moslem thing. There is an overlap, but it’s less than a 50% thing among Moslems world wide. But there are non-Moslem African societies where FGM is almost universal – and there are no non-Moslem African societies where women are kept under tight restraint.

    A lot of conservative Moslems (and recently, some Hindus) argue that women must be concealed and controlled and covered up because men cannot control themselves.

    In the polygynous marriage market of the Islamic core, the “alpha male” is not the “bad boy” type, but the wealthy and powerful man. These are “prime divider” societies. The potential cuckold is the failed or expired alpha – the wimp who inherited his position, or the old man whose physical strength has ebbed.

    A counter-example to the suggested “harem effect”: in Christian (and also Buddhist cultures. IIRC), there were cloistered women-only communities. It does not appear that these communities became hotbeds of fornication whenever a man showed up, or that they were tightly guarded. And it should be noted that in Europe, a lot of girls were unloaded on convents to save the family the cost of a dowry, so the inmates were not all true vocations.

  44. Sandra Mackey’s _The Saudis_ had an interesting bit on the poor Pakistanis who did the actual electrician, plumbing, etc. work for Saudi houses. These guys were terrified of getting caught alone in a house by a Saudi woman since she’d be desperately aggressive and the consequences for the workman would be dire.

  45. Alan,

    No. Don’t get so fixated on genetics. Scots changed their culture. There was hardly any migration in – much more out – and it was mostly a matter of Puritan culture telling people to work their asses off, be materialistic in making money, but be puritan in saving it, don’t spend it, abhor luxury, reinvest every bit in the business. A few generations of strong focus on making money and an abhorrence of spending it obviously generates a lot of surplus capital to be invested. That is, really, all. Consult Max Weber.

    I find geneticist theories of economic dev seriously missing every possible point that can be missed. Let’s take econ seriously – the gap between production and consumption, called savings and investment, is what makes every good development possible, so in other words a culture of hard work and savings. Not genes.

    Of course later on widespread wage labor made things more complicated, then Keynes etc. so it is not so clear anymore, there is room for debate, but anyway, back then it was.

  46. @Alan @BobW

    Read Edmund Burke’s arguments against slavery.

    – It was understood back in the 18the century that it is evil.

    – This evil was seen tolerable because they bought people who were already slaves and not enslaving free people, and they expected Christian masters to treat them better, so it was seen as lessening the overall evil, as everybody is made better off by good Christians buying slaves from cruel Pagan or Moslem masters, they expected the purchase to be Pareto-optimal. They did not see it as not evil back then in the 18th century, but they saw this making the evil tolerable.

    – Burke argued that a yearly 5% yearly death rate on Barbados means these masters are not good Christians at all, they are quite cruel, hence the excuse for the tolerability of this evil ran out, and should be abolished

  47. > Shenpen on Tuesday, April 9 2013 at 2:32 pm said:

    > Where do you folks normally have these discussions when ESR doesn’t post?

    That’s a good question; I’m also interested.
    For one, Steve Hsu’s blog, perhaps: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/

  48. When I read the opening paragraph, I was intrigued. Once I read the rest of the posting I was disappointed that Eric was unable to provide evidence in the geological record of when the Earth went from being flat and supported by turtles to being a spheroid. I was hoping for a new theory of cosmology.

  49. Evolution, and in particular cultural evolution, is not stagnant. However, these processes are very slow, and so it often appears that the norms of the present are somehow “correct” because have broad acceptance.

    Macro-scale male and female sexual behavior should be viewed as an ongoing evolutionary process that will ultimately enhance our species’ reproduction and robustness, lest we become extinct. Game theory modeling suggests that the wide spread availability of birth control has been a significant near-term game changer.

  50. Game theory modeling suggests that the wide spread availability of birth control has been a significant near-term game changer.

    And potentially just as large the pill’s effect on the 1970’s may be the expectation of advanced study for young people. With the default course for people my age (late 20s) being to go to college, likely graduate school, and then to get some career trajectory in place before looking around for long-term family-prospect mates, the sexual habits of today’s young adults (especially “hookup” culture) are frequently unrecognizable even to their “liberated” parent.

  51. Pingback: Two good exercises from ESR | viktorisaksen

  52. >The Mesoamericans ritually sacrificed an awful lot of humans over a long period of time, and I don’t think their reasons were very solid.

    What may have raised the payoff of the practice enough to make it net positive is the followon: cannibalism. I’ve read that their biome was short of useful animal-protein sources before the Columbian Exchange. If you think of the sacrificial victims as intermediates in the food chain it all begins to make a ghastly kind of sense.

  53. Do the facts in evidence really require that the oppression of women because they are “bad” be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

    What if some percentage of women were and always have been, as you say, “uncontrollably lustful”?

    What if the problems caused by your own daughter being in this group would be so severe that, even if the chances of her turning out like that were only in the single digits percentage-wise, it would be much better to be safe than sorry?

  54. Patrick: True, and there’s always the “a few spoil it for everyone” principle that is at the root of so many laws and customs throughout history.

  55. >What if some percentage of women were and always have been, as you say, “uncontrollably lustful”?

    This is undoubtedly true for sufficiently small percentages. The question is whether the actual percentage is high enough that even without the vicious-circle effect all those social controls are worth paying the costs on.

    I’m not sure how your speculation leads to different consequences than mine, though. If the society evolves a suppressive response to that small percentage, the self-reinforcing effect is probably going to kick in eventually.

  56. Shenpen, a fun blog is Tim Worstall’s, a Brit based in Portugal

    http://timworstall.com/

    He’s economics/politically focused, with a solid dose of classical liberal (in the Burke/Locke sense, not the modern meaning of liberal) ethics thrown in, and a prolific poster.

  57. One thing that seems relevant is the idea of “moral sentiments” that emerged in the 18th century. Earlier moral philosophy tended to view the “passions” as dangerous; right behavior came from controlling your passions with reason. The later view (propounded by Adam Smith among others) was that moral behavior emerged from pro-social emotions like sympathy. You can see the shift in English drama, from bawdy satirical Restoration plays, to softer, preachier, “elevating” plays in the 1700s (many of which were written by women), intended to motivate the audience to sympathize with the protagonists who are rewarded for moral behavior. Women were “naturally” more sentimental, purer, more idealistic…and less sexual.

    Both cultural norms (“women are sex fiends — lock them up!” and “women are pure creatures who hate sex”) aim to preserve female chastity. But the first is an external check and the second is an internal check. The post-Enlightenment West thinks that when something is bad, you shouldn’t even want to do it — that your “natural” self, your “instinctive emotions” should recoil against it. Older and non-Western cultures think “people want to do wrong ALL THE TIME, that’s why we have men with swords to stop them from doing it.”

    Frankly, I don’t think there is sex without society. You can’t talk about the “sex drive” in a social animal in isolation from social status. There isn’t an answer to the question “So how horny are women, really?” if “really” is supposed to mean “in the absence of cultural norms.” Women — and men — are, mostly, as horny as serves their interests. Which are mostly about gaining social status and making high-status babies.

  58. btw:
    ” as if desire to oppress were a primary motive”

    I’m pretty sure “desire to oppress” is a universal human primary motive. Monkeys love beating up other monkeys.

    There are a few freakish humans who genuinely don’t want to oppress anybody. (I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship with one.) Their behavior tends to look inexplicable to the rest of the population.

  59. @esr:

    I’m not sure how your speculation leads to different consequences than mine, though.

    It doesn’t in the societal constraints. There are two things I am questioning: (1) the starting conditions; and (2) what happens when the constraints are removed. I have known several women from what we consider “oppressed” societies, and they remained sexually restrained even when out from under any such constraints.

    Yes, I’m sure there is some element of the preacher’s kids being the worst, but I don’t think that’s what is happening here.

    As far groups of women fawning over rare males, my experience leads me to believe that a primary reason they do this is because it is _safe_. In general, both sexes like to flirt. Studies have consistently shown that men take it more seriously than women — that men believe that a flirting woman is more interested in him than she really is.

    In a way, the locking up of women is a lot like the “war on drugs” in this country. A lot of well-meaning parents believe that they can save their children if they can make drugs disappear. It’s a visceral reaction that kids need to be controlled for their own good. In the case of sex, the control falls harder on the girls, for the simple reason that (at least historically) a lack of control typically damages a girl a lot more than a boy.

    @Sarah:

    Women — and men — are, mostly, as horny as serves their interests. Which are mostly about gaining social status and making high-status babies.

    Seriously? That’s not why I have sex.

  60. Porphyrics do not crave blood, and hence they cannot be considered vampires. Their anemia may be controlled with blood transfusions but this is a recent finding, postdating the vampire myth by centuries.

    Like “global cooling” during the 70s, the porphyria-vampirism connection was a bit of since-disproved scientific speculation that the media ran with because it sold newspapers/magazines.

  61. A sidelight: Orthodox Jewish law has it that men owe sex to their wives rather than the other way around. I have no idea how this works out in practice.

  62. “At minimum you have to prevent sex mixing, which is not merely unpleasant for both men and women”

    I think this is a bit of cultural projection. I suspect that many Arab men have *no* problems with this. Women are for breeding, boys are for…

  63. “Orthodox Jewish law has it that men owe sex to their wives rather than the other way around. I have no idea how this works out in practice.”

    @Nancy Lebovitz: Judging from the large number of Orthodox couples perambulating their babies in my area, it seems to be working out quite well. (“Be fruitful and multiply.”)

    OTOH, I well remember the little Chasidic rabbi that handed my parents a pamphlet on the Orthodox Jewish laws of sex and marriage. They got quite a chuckle over it (not to his face, of course).

  64. @Nancy Lebovitz: More relevant to the discussion—almost as a counter-example—is the prohibition (within orthodox Judaism) of yichud: a man & woman between whom sex would be illicit¹ are not allowed to be secluded together. Both genders are equally “suspect” in this regard.

    1. Though not incestuous; under normal circumstances the incest taboo is considered sufficient to make seclusion between blood relatives safe and therefore permissible.

  65. Sarah said,

    There are a few freakish humans who genuinely don’t want to oppress anybody. […] Their behavior tends to look inexplicable to the rest of the population.

    Given an indictment that broad, I suspect the meaning you attribute to the word “oppression” does not match any I’m familiar with; in fact I would guess your definition is broad to the point of vacuity. Care to explain what you mean?

  66. “Oppressing” people —
    spite, winning at someone else’s expense, getting to tell others what to do.

  67. Seriously? That’s not why I have sex.

    Sure it is; you just aren’t aware of the calculations because they’ve been reduced to in-hardware black-box instructions over the generations.

  68. Religious and societal codes of moral conduct, particularly as applied to sexual behavior, are powerful examples of cultural memetics in action. Deviant conduct can be thought of as social mutation, and may or may not persist depending upon its effect of macro-scale evolutionary imperatives. First-person religious indoctrination is rapidly yielding to social media influence. Rap music and Facebook are becoming primary meme propagators.

  69. @Sarah:
    “Oppressing” people –
    spite, winning at someone else’s expense, getting to tell others what to do.”

    That’s a ridiculous and childish description.

    Spite is not oppression. Not at all. I

    I don’t know what you mean by “winning at someone else’s expense”, but winning isn’t oppression (what you do AFTER you win might be) and “getting to tell others what to do” is way, way to vague a description to be useful.

    Does the conductor *always* oppress the orchestra?

    The quarterback, the offensive line?

    Does the manager inherently oppress his employees, and the parent oppress the child because they “get to tell others what to do?”

    Nonsense. Parents tell their children what to do because generally children do really childish stuff that will get them killed, and because we don’t need any more uncivilized adults.

    A manager “tells” his employees what to because it is his job to organize their labor.

    Etc.

    Oppression is only when the oppressor has the *power* to *force* people what to do. A manager gives you a choice, do what the company wants or find another job. The Quarterback passes instructions, and if you don’t want to do that go play golf.

    The IRS? You give them money, or you get thrown in jail. THAT is oppression.

  70. “A lot of conservative Moslims (and recently, some Hindus) argue that women must be concealed and controlled and covered up because men cannot control themselves.”

    Quite a lot of the present day suppression of women in Muslim and Hindu societies is recent. Scarfs were rare in 1950’s Arabia, especially outside urban areas. They were reintroduced after a prolonged religious campaign.

    What is not mentioned in the popular press is that this “war against women” (no coincidence) is fueled by the economic emancipation of women. Women get educated and earn money (they do perform in school and in the job market than boys), hence women start to take control over family matters. This is obvious from the drop in birth rates all over the world, especially in Arab countries.

    Everywhere we see that in such neo-traditional societies the boys cannot keep up with the girls, so the boys start to bully the girls. You cannot lose a race if your opponent is prevented to run.

    To get back to the quote above. When boys are obsessed by girls, it must be the girls’ fault that the boys are not performing. Nice excuse to push the girls out of the race.

  71. I know, “feminist cant” is tiring. Not all feminists use cant, though (check out Camille Paglia, for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Paglia).

    But if you guys are looking for serious, documented, historical, anthropological, writing about all these issues, I’d seriously recommend reading at least the first volume of Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Second_Sex#Volume_One.2C_Facts_and_Myths

    You can hide it under a James Bond sleeve while reading it in the subway, if you want. Anyway, about why marrying a virgin was important, etc., it’s all much more documented and subtle (and complicated, I guess) than most of our/your first (and subsequent, for that matter) impressions. It’s not just “avoiding STDs”… It goes back far before man had even a basic understanding of them, anyway…

  72. @ Alan
    > There are a few African nations that today boast an average IQ in the 60s

    Are you sure you understand what IQ measures?

  73. This seems a highly unlikely explanation of the male behaviour of restraining female sexual behaviour. There are lots of evolutionary incentives for women to be choosy back in the day – because it didn’t pay to bear the economic cost of gestating a child and then raising it alone. If women are being less choosy now that’s because they can afford to be with institutions like marriage, alimony… etc.

    Having said that – men – did face the problem of cuckoldry. So it paid to keep an eye on your woman to prevent her from screwing around. (That they did screw around is not the same as calling them sexpots mind you!). This isn’t a problem for women since they know for certain a child is theirs. Men and women faced different selective pressures and thus developed different behaviours.

    There is a famous theory around this stuff by David Buss called “Strategic Interference” I think it’s more plausible than what is being offered here.

    http://www.homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/busslab/pdffiles/ConflictBetweentheSex.PDF

    I’ve also written about this in connection with a thought experiment I was thinking about at the time if folk be interested:

    http://reviewsindepth.com/2012/09/would-you-take-the-honeymoon-pill/

  74. @Alan,
    “Are you sure you understand what IQ measures?”

    I assume they used the standard “WAIS”. What is good for Mericans is good for Africans.

  75. @Sarah,

    Very good point, let me also add where it came from.

    Medieval Catholicism had a surprisingly sensible view about the effects of original sin. They held that human nature is “wounded” by it but not completely destroyed – merely that sinful things have a certain appeal, it is easier to do them than the virtuous things, so people need to put some effort into resisting the seductive charm of sin and doing the virtuous things will take some discipline, it will not be easy. But doable. We are capable of doing both good and bad, but the bad stuff is… easier. This, aside from its mythical origin, as an observation seems fairly accurate to me, for example this is largely how I deal with my own laziness: I need to fight it, I can win the fight, but every time I get too complacent for too long, thingink the fight is over, and let my discipline down laziness rears its head again.

    Enter Calvin. Calvin was pretty crazy. He held that human nature is not merely wounded by original sin, but made totally depraved by it. We are hopelessly bad natured – and nothing but divine grace can save us, all our efforts combatting our vices are hopeless.

    Now the important part.

    The Age of Enlightenment, modernity emerged mostly as big fuck-you to Calvin.

    Thinkers, writers, unhappy with the extreme strictness of their Calvinist upbringing – Hume and Rousseau especially had a brutal childhood – went to the other extreme: denying the extreme of total depravity, they did not want to stop at the Catholic middle ground, but went to the other extreme claiming our natures, natural instincts are inherently geared towards the good stuff.

    How can there be suffering, evil, tyranny, war, crime? Well the only way out was that if evil is not rooted in people themselves, but in the structure of society. Thus Leftism was born.

    (BTW I think Libertarianism is fairly close to the Catholic middle ground. Good people might as well live in anarcho-socialism. Totally depraved people deserve no freedom, they need a theocratical tyranny. People who can do both good and bad and must always choose between them, need a system where people give each other incentives so that they make for each other the good choice profitable and the bad choice costly. But this parallel should not be taken too far, Catholicism tends to support more of a Distributist market, there are some really fundamental philosophical differences.)

  76. @Sarah, regarding the desire to oppress: I think the point here is that a “pure” desire to oppress for the sake of oppression is fairly less influential compared to the huge bag of instances of controlling each others behavior for some kind of a practical purpose, as required by the circumstances.

    My go-to example is that before modern household appliances and 8 hour workdays, a working class household needed someone to work 12 hours in the coal mine and someone to spend 12 hours doing housework everything from hand washing to knitting sweaters to looking after 6 kids, and it made more sense to specialize than to do 6-6 hours each, so this is largely why women were kept “in the kitchen” and out of jobs, and not because their husbands loved power-tripping – everybody loves some extra income in the family if it can be practically arranged, especially in age much poorer than ours, what idiot would have turned that increase in the standard of living down for the sake of a bit of sadistic enjoyment at oppressing? Once it became possible to come home from work at 18:00 and turn on the automatic washing machine this necessarily changed.

  77. @Shenpen: “My go-to example is that before modern household appliances and 8 hour workdays, a working class household needed someone to work 12 hours in the coal mine and someone to spend 12 hours doing housework everything from hand washing to knitting sweaters to looking after 6 kids, and it made more sense to specialize than to do 6-6 hours each, so this is largely why women were kept “in the kitchen” and out of jobs, and not because their husbands loved power-tripping”

    This is very wrong and simplistic. Men are/were always the transcendent gender, defined by their action upon the outside world (“power-tripping”). Women were always the immanent gender, defined by their central role in the perpetuation of the species. Again, I recommend Beauvoir whose grasp on these historical and anthropological matters goes really far (and is very much sourced…).

  78. @Shenpen

    My go-to example is that before modern household appliances and 8 hour workdays, a working class household needed someone to work 12 hours in the coal mine and someone to spend 12 hours doing housework everything from hand washing to knitting sweaters to looking after 6 kids, and it made more sense to specialize than to do 6-6 hours each, so this is largely why women were kept “in the kitchen” and out of jobs,

    There’s another reason for the gender-based division of labor: Individual males are expendable; fertile females (and girls not yet fertile) are not. In extreme cases, if a tribe loses half its men, the survivors can double up at keeping the women pregnant often enough to stay above replacement levels. If half the women are lost, the survivors can’t possibly double their fertility; they’re already bearing babies at the point of diminishing returns (where trying to have them more often would produce a higher incidence of stillbirth, as well as taking resources that the next-older child would otherwise have). Also, the cumulative rate of maternal deaths due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth eventually caught up to overly-prolific breeders.

    That’s why men got to go hunt animals and risk being killed, while women gathered nuts and berries within the defensive perimeter established by the men. This is so basic to the survival of our species that I suspect some of it is hard-wired into us.

    But now, with medical science that vastly reduces the rates of infant and child mortality, (and of women dying in childbirth, cutting into their production numbers) so that the replacement fertility rate is 2.1 instead of 6+, individual women are as expendable as men. In the “half the women are dead” scenario, the surviving women could simply have an average of 4.2 children each, and the missing population would be replaced in a single generation.

    And, of course, most jobs today don’t involve dangers from large wild animals or black lung disease.

  79. Sarah: Women — and men — are, mostly, as horny as serves their interests. Which are mostly about gaining social status and making high-status babies.

    Me: Seriously? That’s not why I have sex.

    Christopher Smith: Sure it is; you just aren’t aware of the calculations because they’ve been reduced to in-hardware black-box instructions over the generations.

    Me: That’s silly. Yes, sex feels good for good evolutionary reasons. But if that were all there was to it, who would buy condoms and birth control pills?

  80. > The only danger I face from feminist outrage is that I might hurt myself laughing at it.

    or that one of them is armed, and gets the drop on you.

  81. Pingback: ESR asks “What if it really was like that?” « Quotulatiousness

  82. @ShenPen, @KenBurnside,

    Some additional thought about 17th-Century and 18-Century cultural attitudes towards female sexuality…

    Which attitude did Jane Austen support? She wrote in the 1810s.

    I seem to recall that her characters attended social events with mixed company. Daughters were allowed to travel unsupervised. One narrative (in Pride and Prejudice) has a daughter run away with a young man. Eventually they are found, discovered to not be married, and are pushed into a marriage.

    But I don’t remember the narration leaning towards either the women-as-sexually-hungry or women-as-pure-and-reserved.

    However, married women had a higher social status than unmarried women. That is most of what drives the plot.

  83. >I assume they used the standard “WAIS”. What is good for Mericans is good for Africans.

    The best measure of IQ (the one that yields the best predictions of other psychometric statistics – look up “Spearman’s g”) is vocabulary in one’s primary language. Other well-correlated tests include pattern matching and spatial rotation. None of these require any knowledge specific to one culture.

  84. @esr
    “None of these require any knowledge specific to one culture.”

    Primary language in Africa is a dubious concept. And then we are back into the fact that an IQ test written for a certain community cannot get an average IQ of 60 for that population.

  85. Me: That’s silly. Yes, sex feels good for good evolutionary reasons. But if that were all there was to it, who would buy condoms and birth control pills?

    We’re looking at different levels of “why” and running into the fallacy of composition. Having lots of indiscriminate sex (for males) and lots of accurately-calibrated sex (for females) is the best for their genes, and producing a pleasurable sensation gets selected for. That doesn’t mean that what’s best for your genes is best for you in the aggregate, either from a health perspective or a social one. So your “why” you have sex is an evolutionary result, but that doesn’t mean that the consequences are desirable for Patrick the whole person any more than that the preference for rare ripe fruit as a compact energy and vitamin source means that HFCS is a health food.

  86. Primary language in Africa is a dubious concept. And then we are back into the fact that an IQ test written for a certain community cannot get an average IQ of 60 for that population.

    Potentially fair on the first, wrong on the second. Abstract pattern matching (such as matrix tests) is extremely reliable and requires only the ability to see clearly. Once an accurate baseline for such tests is established in a population, it’s entirely possible that the median member of that population, who has an “average” vocabulary, corresponds to an IQ of 60 for the human population as a whole. There’s a whole subdiscipline of test design called norming that handles this exact issue.

  87. @Christopher Smith:

    > We’re looking at different levels of “why” and running into the fallacy of composition.

    No, _you’re_ looking at a different level than the original statement. “mostly as horny as serves their interests” was in reference to women and men, e.g. individuals, not genes.

    I’m pretty much horny all the time, not that it really serves my interests.

  88. esr:
    > What I’m suggesting is that the they’ll-fling-themselves-at-any-male model of female behavior believed by strict patriarchal societies is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy

    I don’t think any society has ever believed that women will fling themselves at any male, but at some males.

    And they do.

    Observe this popular you tube prank. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYU1a0lTTTw notice that those aggressively and closely following the fake famous person are all fertile age females (apart from his fake bodyguards, fake entourage and fake papparazi). There are lots of you tube videos showing similar pranks, and they often do close ups on the followers who show obvious signs of sexual excitement and predatory sexual aggression.

    The only question is how serious the society is about stopping it from happening.

    The clitoridectomy reflects the fact that touching the genitals is a key step in seduction, in our pre verbal and pre contractual mating ritual, that if a woman’s genitals are touched in the presence of an attractive male, she goes quiet, and rather limp and soft, and is apt to passively comply with further escalation, and tends to slide into the mating position.

    They cut the clitoris in order to fully replace our ancient pre verbal and pre contractual animal system of mating, with a system of explicit and negotiated verbal consent and contract.

  89. @SJ
    > Which attitude did Jane Austen support? She wrote in the 1810s.

    I have been super busy at work so unable to keep up with this rather verbose discussion. Who knew that sex was such a popular subject. :-)

    But, being a fan of Jane Austen, I feel compelled to comment here.I think her own words can best answer, from the opening of Pride and Prejudice:

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
    However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

    Marriage, certainly amongst the middle class, was vital for young women to preserve their futures. Society did not much allow them the opportunity to provide for themselves, and so only though a husband (preferably rich) and children could you ensure her own future, and have hope of happiness and fulfillment. Since the patriarchy of the time demanded virgin brides, a woman’s sexuality had to take second place to the process of ensuring her future. The cost of long term destruction of marital prospects over the rupturing of a tiny membrane were sufficiently high as to overwhelm the short term pleasures of doing so.

    These were facts well known and trained into young girls from a young age, and, through both that hope of self preservation, and the powerful moral force of the church, morality, religion and societal ostricization, combined together were usually enough to overwhelm her libido, and the most silly of emotions, love.

    The genius of religious morality is the guilt programming that makes it a self policing system, greatly reducing the cost of enforcing the control mechanisms of the church. The devil and hell were surely their greatest inventions.

  90. Oh how daringly politically incorrect, to suggest that women, due to evil male oppression, used to behave like libido addled sluts, but now no longer due to our morally superior liberation of women.

    Here is another item of evidence that female behavior has not changed. Middle class females were protected from unsupervised contact with males as much in mid nineteenth century England as in mid eighteenth century england – but some time between the eighteenth and nineteenth century it became horribly politically incorrect to suggest that middle class females might behave sluttishly, given the opportunity.

    Thus the theory that women were prone to uncontrollable sexual desire changed first, and changed in a way that had all the usual hallmarks of official truth being imposed from above, and then later restrictions on female behavior were eased.

    And again, the nineteenth century easing of restrictions of female behavior had all the usual hallmarks of social engineering from above, with a multitude of programs to “rescue fallen women” – by removing all adverse consequences of falling.

    Your theory requires that women be emancipated first, and then the assumption that they are down to fuck goes away, but what instead happened is that the assumption that are down to fuck was repressed as part of the program of emancipating women. The assumption that all or most women are down to fuck on the spot was repressed first, at pretty much the end of the eighteenth century (seventeen hundreds) and the beginning of the nineteenth century (eighteen hundreds), and emancipation followed in the mid eighteen hundreds.

  91. Jessica Boxer on Wednesday, April 10 2013 at 4:44 pm said:
    > These were facts well known and trained into young girls from a young age, and, through both that hope of self preservation, and the powerful moral force of the church, morality, religion and societal ostricization, combined together were usually enough to overwhelm her libido, and the most silly of emotions, love.

    Firstly this did not work for all of the young girls depicted in Jane Austen’s novels. Some got pregnant, and most of them, I would think all of them, required external social support to prevent them losing their virginity.

    Secondly, Jane Austen’s novels were written after the proposition that women were generally down to fuck given a few minutes of opportunity had already become politically incorrect, therefore cannot be assumed to be an entirely reliable account of female behavior.

  92. @James A. Donald
    > Oh how daringly politically incorrect, to suggest that women, due to evil male oppression, used to behave like libido addled sluts, but now no longer due to our morally superior liberation of women.

    That doesn’t make sense. Your argument was that women were all libido addled sluts who would have sex with any attractive guy given the opportunity, a fact plainly belied by the experience of every woman and every attractive guy I know. Nonetheless, your argument is internally inconsistent too. You say above that women’s licentiousness is due to evil male oppression, but I think you are other places making the argument that women are intrinsically licentious, and that the evil male oppression simply is there to prevent its manifestation, for our own good, us poor silly girls. Your cause and effect keep switching around.

    Liberation of women is a good thing intrinsically regardless of what they choose to do or not do with their vaginas, because liberation of people is an intrinsic good.

    I am particularly bothered by your view that, absent screaming protest or physical damage that a woman’s consent should be assumed in a rape case. Not because I think it is necessarily incorrect (I think it is incorrect, but I think it is closer to correct than most people do) but rather for the reason that you believe it is correct. Certainly one of the foundations of criminal justice is “innocent until proven guilty”, but you rather base your view on the assumption that “she was probably asking for it.” Which is horrendous. Justice denied is bad enough, blaming the victim is bad enough squared.

    Anyway, enough feeding the trolls.

  93. Dave Sill on Tuesday, April 9 2013 at 9:47 am said:
    > It seems pretty obvious that the problem is that men are the more “uncontrollably lustful creatures”

    Men always want more, but women always want better. Observe those prank you tube videos of fake fame. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9Ko6Xfa84w You don’t see men behaving like the women in those videos, so by that measure, it is the women that are the more uncontrollably lustful sex.

    As it says in the comments on the video: “clearly a damning indictment of the female race”

    The commenters cannot believe it was deranged uncontrollable lust, and accuse the women of being gold diggers, but look at their faces. It was lust, as anyone from the eighteenth century would have expected.

  94. James A. Donald, come on. Obviously many of these girls will care about bragging rights – girls tend to be more socially focused, so they care more about celebrities and the like. Also, pretty much everyone cares about affiliating with high-status/impressive folks. Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.

    With respect to the gist of this post, I’d say that, speaking in generalities, women are almost certainly _more_ lustful than popular culture gives them credit for – and this might well suffice to explain the popular myth. It’s less clear to me how this is supposed to pose any kind of danger to society, given the availability of reliable birth control and other modern technology. I’m not really sure what to make of ESR’s proposed mechanism, though of course strict social control may well play a role here; the forbidden-fruit effect is a common response to such attempted control in other cases.

  95. >I am particularly bothered by your view that, absent screaming protest or physical damage that a woman’s consent should be assumed in a rape case. Not because I think it is necessarily incorrect (I think it is incorrect, but I think it is closer to correct than most people do) but rather for the reason that you believe it is correct.

    Agreed. There is a good reason to go back to the old-fashioned standard of not classifying an interaction as “rape” absent signs of violence, but that reason has nothing to do with “she was probably asking for it” and everything to do with the fact that less strict definitions have failure modes that are very nasty for both individuals and the society around them.

  96. >Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.

    This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.

    One of the entertaining things about the minority of trolls who hang out here is that they don’t realize what this implies about themselves. Their attempts to emit cutting insults at me are utterly subverted by the obviousness with which they crave my attention.

  97. No, _you’re_ looking at a different level than the original statement. “mostly as horny as serves their interests” was in reference to women and men, e.g. individuals, not genes.

    Forgive my misstatement–*you* were discussing the interests of the “self”, and I had an impedance mismatch. (On an odd note, the wide-looking underscores break Firefox’s find function.)

  98. Which makes me think there are at least two and possibly more game-theoretic equilibria in the space of mating strategies

    Oh yeah, It’s been found that Don Juan and Mr. Cleaver both have higher reproductive success the more other men adopt the other strategy,

    Here’a another strategy split. Males are attracted to (or aroused by) two different sorts of females: sluts and virgins. The slut is a low-quality reproductive opportunity (may be infertile due to disease, or get pregnant with another male’s offspring, and the male doesn’t invest in the mother’s support during pregnancy or the child’s survival): the probabilty of actually begetting a child that will survive to reproduce is low. But she’s a low-cost opportunity. The total investment is a single bout of copulation, if the man can get it up. That’s why male-oriented narrative porn nearly always depicts aroused, easily had women.

    The virgin is a high-quality opportunity: young, healthy, fertile – but high cost. The investment can be a man’s lifetime earnings and his entire reproductive effort. But on average, it will yield multiple offspring. That’s why male-oriented image porn features women who look youthful and healthy.

  99. Winter on Wednesday, April 10 2013 at 1:52 am said:

    “A lot of conservative Moslims (and recently, some Hindus) argue that women must be concealed and controlled and covered up because men cannot control themselves.”

    Quite a lot of the present day suppression of women in Muslim and Hindu societies is recent. Scarfs were rare in 1950s Arabia, especially outside urban areas. They were reintroduced after a prolonged religious campaign.

    1950s Saudi Arabia? Or Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq?

    AFAIK, Saudi Arabia has always been very conservative. The “prolonged religious campaign” which has shifted the culture of other Moslem countries was in large part funded by the enormous oil jackpot which landed on Saudi Arabia. It funded massive Wahabbi mission activities. Also Saudi money now pays most of the expenses of Islamic institutions such as Al-Azhar. Other Saudi money (largely private) has gone to militant strict-Islamic groups like the Moslem Brotherhood.

    The result is that non-Arab Moslem societies have been “Arabized”, and Arab Moslems have been “Saudified”.

  100. @Guest – “Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.”
    @Eric – “This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.”

    This blog is unique and valuable in its own right. Not-to-put-too-fine-a-point-on-it, but if Eric keeled-over tomorrow and the blog continued, I could live with that. A lot of very bright and thoughtful people hangout here.

  101. > Obviously many of these girls will care about bragging rights – girls tend to be more socially focused, so they care more about celebrities and the like.

    They wanted to fuck the fake celebrity. You can tell by the way they move and the expressions on their faces. By and large, women do not brag about being fucked by high status males, unless they are fucked enough times to kid themselves they have a relationship.

    In the office, it typically takes three to four months between the employee having sex with the boss, and her disrupting the office by claiming boss status. The girls on the video were looking for a sixty second bang.

    In a society where there is no child support, women have to get married, so have to be virgins, so this sort of sex crazy behavior has to be stopped. It is a huge problem in such societies. So societies without child support are apt to employ drastic means to prevent it.

  102. I was wondering when JAD was going to show up in this discussion. He did not disappoint.

  103. More Work for Mother is a history of housework in the US. One of its claims is that until some parts of housework were mechanized (around the 1920s(?)), both housework and most jobs available for women involved so much physical labor that working outside the home carried a serious risk of death by exhaustion. “No wife of mine is going to work” reflected a serious attempt to protect her.

  104. Jessica Boxer on Wednesday, April 10 2013 at 6:21 pm said:
    > That doesn’t make sense. Your argument was that women were all libido addled sluts who would have sex with any attractive guy given the opportunity,

    That was never my argument. That was your adjustment of my argument. By adjusting my claim, you implicitly admit the truth of my original claim as I stated in my original words.

    I said “attractive male”

    And you keep substituting the words “any reasonably attractive male”

    The one implies that you bang like a barn door in a high wind every day with someone you have only been introduced to five minutes ago, which is of course untrue.

    The other implies similar events with a considerably lower frequency.

  105. > Certainly one of the foundations of criminal justice is “innocent until proven guilty”, but you rather base your view on the assumption that “she was probably asking for it.” Which is horrendous. Justice denied is bad enough, blaming the victim is bad enough squared.

    Observe the remarkably low number of victims among wives of heads of households – a tenth or a twentieth of all other categories of women.

    The category of women least likely to ask for it has rate of rape and sexual assault one tenth or one twentieth that of other categories.

    You might argue that this is because they are better protected than other categories, but categories such as “daughters of male head of household” are presumably similarly protected, but have rates ten times higher. So what do you think “wife of male head of household” is doing that is different from other categories?

    No one goes cruising looking to be robbed, but women do go cruising looking for a dicking. So, if we apply the principle, “innocent until proven guilty” to those charged with rape, we need to apply the principle “guilty until proven innocent” to those making the charges.

    You might say this is terribly unkind to the poor women, but the poor women are not the ones facing seven years of jail.

  106. PapayaSF on Tuesday, April 9 2013 at 11:44 am said:
    > The Mesoamericans ritually sacrificed an awful lot of humans over a long period of time, and I don’t think their reasons were very solid.

    I think their reasons were extremely solid. The Aztecs were a fascist regime that ruled by terror, the Incas were a communist regime that ruled by terror, so naturally both of them incorporated terror into their religions.

  107. PapayaSF
    “The Mesoamericans ritually sacrificed an awful lot of humans over a long period of time, and I don’t think their reasons were very solid.”

    Most sacrifices were POWs. Hence the enthusiasm by the other tribes when the the Spanish took on the Aztecs. Economically, driving off “foreigners” from their soils is good policy in agricultural societies.

    Human sacrifice in Aztec culture
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice_in_Aztec_culture

    Because the objective of Aztec warfare was to capture victims alive for human sacrifice, battle tactics were designed primarily to injure the enemy rather than kill him. After towns were conquered their inhabitants were no longer candidates for human sacrifice, only liable to regular tribute. Slaves also could be used for human sacrifice, but only if the slave was considered lazy and had been resold three times.

  108. @Jessica
    “That doesn’t make sense. Your argument was that women were all libido addled sluts who would have sex with any attractive guy given the opportunity,”

    For James, women are pets. He seems to get his information on women from observations of other pets.

  109. ” Instead of dismissing this as fantasy, he developed a theory that until around 1000BC it really was like that – humans had a bicameral consciousness in which one chamber or operating subsystem, programmed by culture, manifested to the other as the voice of God or some dominant authority figure (“my ka is the ka of the king”)”

    I think the gentleman may be a bit drug-naive. The “voice of God” is an experience easily reproduced by various psychoactive plants – today and before 1000 BC, whether Peganum harmala in the Middle East, Ayuhuasca in South America or tabernanthe iboga in west-central Africa.

  110. @Winter
    >For James, women are pets.
    In other words: “James is misogynistic, and therefore there cannot possibly be any truth to anything he says, so there is no need to even consider such possibility .”

    The problem with this smug superiority is that there are many ugly truths, and shutting our brains down whenever we encounter them ensures we’ll never be able to do a damned thing about them.

    It’s the same thing with the racial IQ disparities. Insisting that the data must be flawed may make you feel good about yourself as better than the racial-superiority types who marched “Untermenschen” off to the gas chambers, but what if you design unbiased tests, and the data still show an IQ gap? If you persist in feeling that it is inherently wrong to acknowledge statistically-significant differences in IQ between ethnic groups, you can never proceed to figuring out how those differences arose, and how the lower-IQ groups can be improved. In fact, in your willful ignorance, you may vote for politicians who promise policies that encourage behavior that will reduce the group average (such as inverse relationship between IQ and fertility) even further.

    Of course, now you can safely dismiss me: “Monster is racist, and therefore there cannot possibly be any truth to anything he says, so there is no need to even consider such possibility .”

  111. @The Monster: “The problem with this smug superiority is that there are many ugly truths, and shutting our brains down whenever we encounter them ensures we’ll never be able to do a damned thing about them.”

    Tell us which are these “ugly truths”, then. I can only see misogyny indeed, but probably not for evil reasons (I’m everything but a moralising prick): it just sounds like JAD lives in some sort of bubble where things are overly rationalised, on any (many, at least) subject(s). His interpretation of the “starfucking” behavior strikes me as a fantasy. There’s a huge difference between acting like an attention whore (and men as well are often prone to seek attention desperately, for instance through commenting on a blog or stalking women) and actually wanting a star’s cock in your vagina. We’ve all been witnesses to these situations. Concluding that “They wanted to fuck the fake celebrity” through crappy “body language” interpretation is at least dubious and proves a real lack of actual experience. I think.

    “It’s the same thing with the racial IQ disparities. Insisting that the data must be flawed may make you feel good about yourself as better than the racial-superiority types who marched “Untermenschen” off to the gas chambers, but what if you design unbiased tests, and the data still show an IQ gap?”

    Yeah, what if? March the low IQs to the nearest gas chamber?

    Seriously, what is the purpose or intellectual interest of desperately trying to prove that some groups have lower IQs? I’ve always wondered that.

    “Of course, now you can safely dismiss me: “Monster is racist, and therefore there cannot possibly be any truth to anything he says, so there is no need to even consider such possibility .””

    This is of course a fallacy whose English name I’m not aware of, but strikes me as victim posturing.

  112. @The Monster
    “Of course, now you can safely dismiss me”

    I was not aware you lived in the same fantasy land of make believe that JAD is inhabiting. James has shown time and again he is immune to reality in any form or shape.

    I do not see any relation with your “occasional” misconceptions. Or do you regularly tell people that they do not see what their own eyes are seeing and they do not observe what they experience?

  113. The Monster:
    “It’s the same thing with the racial IQ disparities. Insisting that the data must be flawed may make you feel good about yourself as better than the racial-superiority types who marched “Untermenschen” off to the gas chambers, but what if you design unbiased tests, and the data still show an IQ gap?”

    Don Calvus:
    Yeah, what if? March the low IQs to the nearest gas chamber?

    He didn’t say that. Pay attention.

    Some people are smarter than others. Some groups average smarter than other groups. To ignore or deny that that distorts public policy.

    If certain groups average lower intelligence then destroying the economic niches that people of lower intelligence traditionally fill impact those groups disproportionally.

    Smart people have an advantage. The game should not be rigged in such a way that the less-smart who try to follow the rules, work hard and are prudent cannot do well for themselves. This is not Lake Woebegone. All the children are not above average. There is an embarrasing plentitude of people of any ethnic background you care to name who have room temperature IQs.

    People are not all the same. It is bad for policy makers to pretend that everyone is the same. It is very bad for policy makers to insist that everyone be the same.

  114. @BobW:

    It is so much more complicated than IQ figures… Again, it’s just a convenient way to over-rationalise complex situations.

    This obsession with IQ is a strange one. If “smart people have an advantage”, which is very likely to be true in some conditions only, you also forget that some psychological traits, namely absence or reduction of empathy (in narcissistic perversion, for example), not related to intelligence, are probably much more likely to help someone “succeed” than a high IQ in politics or business, for instance. Not to mention networking, nepotism, corruption, etc.

    These are much more important problems to be tackled than hypothetical IQ discrepancy among groups (of course an euphemism for “races” in most cases).

  115. @The Monster:

    “but what if you design unbiased tests, and the data still show an IQ gap?”

    What would be, then, an “unbiased test”? I’m very curious. All the various IQ procedures measure adaptation to a set of sociocultural norms (for example, immigrants have better IQ years after their arrival). The rest is absolute fantasy.

  116. “These are much more important problems to be tackled than hypothetical IQ discrepancy among groups (of course an euphemism for “races” in most cases).”

    Actually, you may want to look at narcissism and sociopathy in the same manner as you do IQ. After all, sociopathy can be socially beneficial in the right amounts (do you really want your surgeon oozing with empathy and anxiety while he operates on you?)

  117. >All the various IQ procedures measure adaptation to a set of sociocultural norms (for example, immigrants have better IQ years after their arrival).

    The first claim is false – and easily shown to be false by correlation to physiological indices like brain size, degree of cortical folding, and rate of oxygen uptake. The second is true but not evidence for the first; individual immigrants’ IQs don’t go up, those of their children and grandchildren do.

  118. @JB: “After all, sociopathy can be socially beneficial in the right amounts (do you really want your surgeon oozing with empathy and anxiety while he operates on you?)”

    I see your point, of course. But that’s precisely why this isn’t qualified as sociopathy, just normal behavior. As regards most traits, pathology is a consequence of absence *or overpresence* of normal traits. It’s obvious that here, oversensitivity to human bleeding, for instance, would be a serious handicap!

  119. @esr: “The first claim is false – and easily shown to be false by correlation to physiological indices like brain size, degree of cortical folding, and rate of oxygen uptake. The second is true but not evidence for the first; individual immigrants’ IQs don’t go up, those of their children and grandchildren do.”

    I have to take your word for it, then.

    (Honestly now, I’m not at all fascinated with the subject, but if you would provide sources, I’d read them with attention.)

  120. >These are much more important problems to be tackled than hypothetical IQ discrepancy among groups (of course an euphemism for “races” in most cases).

    It’s not at all clear that this is true. What makes IQ important is that it is broadly predictive of many other indices of success and well-being. Thus, whatever you think it’s measuring, raising it (insofar as that is possible) is likely the single most valuable social intervention available. Conversely, if raising it isn’t possible and the variations are large, we know that most money spent on other kinds of interventions will be wasted and we can stop doing that.

    Like most people who dismiss the importance of IQ, you suffer from a severe case of argumentum ad consequentiam. Unfortunately for you, reality doesn’t care that you don’t like it. I’m not particularly happy with the consequences myself – I’d much prefer living in a world where no group IQ differences exist to give traction to vile racists and make various inequity problems nigh-intractable – but reality doesn’t care that I don’t like it, either. My choice is to face the truth and cope.

  121. @Don Calvus

    The Monster originally mentioned group differences in IQ as an example of an ugly truth. That is, a truth people would rather not hear, and which they rationalize not hearing by associating it with historical atrocity. Ignoring this particular ugly truth distorts public policy in ways that hurt everyone in every group.

    Narcistic Personality Disorder may be an advantage in the political arena. It is a liability in every other. It behooves us, therefore, to limit the political arena as much as possible.

    Sadly, though we may try to ignore politics, politics will not ignore us.

  122. “But that’s precisely why this isn’t qualified as sociopathy, just normal behavior.”

    Yes, definitionally it’s easy to qualify it as such. In practice, when you get to the nitty-gritty details, it frequently requires some moral juggling. There’s an old Internet meme “Slavery Gets Shit Done” – well, this is kind of similar – Sociopathy Gets Shit Done, sometimes shit mere faint-of-heart mortals dare not touch, and it’s a fine line where the saint ends and the monster begins.

  123. I think the gentleman may be a bit drug-naive. The “voice of God” is an experience easily reproduced by various psychoactive plants – today and before 1000 BC, whether Peganum harmala in the Middle East, Ayuhuasca in South America or tabernanthe iboga in west-central Africa.

    That’s not a refutation. It’s well-known that many drugs induce mental states that are also brought about by other means and that may have once been defaults. As an example, opoids aren’t actually painkillers; they simply remove the sense of pain-suffering from the conscious mind. Animal experiments indicate that many lower mammals experience pain in this way as a matter of course, feeling discomfort but not necessarily “suffering” in the sense that we use the word. There’s no inherent reason to believe that, e.g., a change in neurochemistry brought about by a mutation or even by a dietary change around the time of the Bronze Age might have shifted the sensation of the narrative voice from external to internal.

    I have to take your word for it, then.

    (Honestly now, I’m not at all fascinated with the subject, but if you would provide sources, I’d read them with attention.)

    This has already been covered upthread for the level of detail you’re asking about. Read the Wikipedia articles g and matrix and spatial tests, especially Raven’s matrices.

  124. “That’s not a refutation.”

    It wasn’t intended as a refutation, merely a more plausible, substitute theory.

    Take entheogens – get it – entheogens – a word which precisely describes the experience in question – process them through the cultural milieu in question and you have a far simpler explanation for the phenomenon in question.

  125. “This has already been covered upthread for the level of detail you’re asking about. Read the Wikipedia articles g and matrix and spatial tests, especially Raven’s matrices.”

    Yes I’m aware of them. I know I would score better at them than some friends of mine who didn’t go to geometry classes as much as I did. It doesn’t prove they’re less intelligent nor successful than me, at all.

    I have no problem accepting “ugly truths” at all. If they’re proved to me with arguments.

    I’m still waiting for non-biased arguments on that matter, really.

  126. Smart people have an advantage. The game should not be rigged in such a way that the less-smart who try to follow the rules, work hard and are prudent cannot do well for themselves.

    I agree with this, but I also agree with Don Calvus in that I don’t see why this requires so much effort to be expended to show that some groups are smarter on average than other groups. The above rules can be followed without doing any of that, because which group the smart people happen to belong to doesn’t even appear in the equation, so to speak.

  127. @esr: What makes IQ important is that it is broadly predictive of many other indices of success and well-being. Thus, whatever you think it’s measuring, raising it (insofar as that is possible) is likely the single most valuable social intervention available. Conversely, if raising it isn’t possible and the variations are large, we know that most money spent on other kinds of interventions will be wasted and we can stop doing that.

    But is there a *single* social intervention that will raise IQ, so that we can just focus on that and stop doing all the others? It seems to me that trying to raise IQ basically amounts to trying to raise kids the way they should be raised anyway: good nutrition, good exercise, good intellectual stimulation, etc. Do we really need a battery of IQ tests to tell us this?

    Also, I think we already know that there are lots of interventions we make that have zero or even negative payoff, even without any IQ tests. The data showing that throwing more money at schools doesn’t improve outcomes (beyond some basic level) is overwhelming, yet we continue to do so. I don’t think this will be solved by more IQ tests.

  128. BobW on Thursday, April 11 2013 at 11:33 am said: Smart people have an advantage. The game should not be rigged in such a way that the less-smart who try to follow the rules, work hard and are prudent cannot do well for themselves.

    Nor should the game be rigged to ensure that the less-smart get equal outcomes regardless of ability. Such rigging is SOP at most “elite” American universities, which have semi-secret minimum quotas for certain ethnic groups. They bend the rules into pretzels to meet them, defend these practices with fanatical zeal against legal and legislative opposition, and perform astounding feats of intellectual contortion to justify them.

  129. >But is there a *single* social intervention that will raise IQ, so that we can just focus on that and stop doing all the others?

    Making sure early-childhood nutrition is adequate seems to be important for allowing individuals to reach their genetic IQ ceiling. I’m not aware of any other intervention for which the evidence is not extremely equivocal and noisy.

  130. I agree with this, but I also agree with Don Calvus in that I don’t see why this requires so much effort to be expended to show that some groups are smarter on average than other groups. The above rules can be followed without doing any of that, because which group the smart people happen to belong to doesn’t even appear in the equation, so to speak.

    In part, because the United States has a legal principle that all groups are identical and that any difference in outcomes between groups is presumed to be the result of culpable discrimination until (and even sometimes after) proved otherwise. It’s euphemistically referred to as “disparate impact”.

    It wasn’t intended as a refutation, merely a more plausible, substitute theory.

    Take entheogens – get it – entheogens – a word which precisely describes the experience in question – process them through the cultural milieu in question and you have a far simpler explanation for the phenomenon in question.

    Simpler, perhaps, but they don’t account for either the ubiquity of the reported experiences (i.e., not just during ceremonies or other specific times) or their presence in stories (e.g., the Iliad) where there isn’t any mention of the substances. I’m not convinced of Jaymes’s claims, but he points out enough unsettling details that I’m not willing to dismiss them yet, either. Deciding the issue may require us to wait for Pastwatch.

  131. Peter Donis on Thursday, April 11 2013 at 1:46 pm said:
    “Smart people have an advantage. The game should not be rigged in such a way that the less-smart who try to follow the rules, work hard and are prudent cannot do well for themselves.”

    I agree with this, but I also agree with Don Calvus in that I don’t see why this requires so much effort to be expended to show that some groups are smarter on average than other groups.

    That’s not the point. The point is the enormous efforts expended to pretend that no groups are less smart on average than others.

  132. More generally I am tired of proposals for political solutions to perceived problems of fairness. The solution to bias in a process is not to add more.

    Often the critic sees nothing of value in the current process and declares none of the criteria are important. This is usually wrong and always insulting to those who have been selected previously. We hear “A chimpanzee could do your job!”

    This is especially problematic in the technical arena. The classic example is the Chernobyl accident. The people in charge were selected for their political reliability, not their competence.

    We know many ways to remove experimental bias. Some of them could be applied to other situations.

  133. >That’s not the point. The point is the enormous efforts expended to pretend that no groups are less smart on average than others.

    Right. And that tail wags the dog. Because employers dare not use IQ tests for fear of disparate-impact lawsuits, they have to fall back on much less efficient and more expensive proxies like ability to get a college diploma. The resulting waste is immense.

  134. @Christopher Smith: the United States has a legal principle that all groups are identical and that any difference in outcomes between groups is presumed to be the result of culpable discrimination until (and even sometimes after) proved otherwise. It’s euphemistically referred to as “disparate impact”.

    @Rich Rostrom: The point is the enormous efforts expended to pretend that no groups are less smart on average than others.

    I completely agree with this diagnosis of the disease; but I don’t agree with the treatment strategy that appears to be currently adopted, which is to respond by expending enormous effort to show that some groups are too less smart on average than others. Even if it’s true, it amounts to slapping a band-aid on gangrene.

    The root problem is not that the “disparate impact” crowd gets the wrong answer; it’s that they are asking the wrong question. Arguing that they have the facts wrong, rather than arguing that their whole way of looking at the issue is screwed up, is implicitly accepting their form of the question.

    The correct response is to say “Who cares whether group X has lower average IQ scores on tests? The question is, is this particular child getting what he/she needs?” Just as the correct response to group identity politics is to say “Who cares whether group X was mistreated on average in the past? The question is, is this particular person being mistreated?”

    (Yes, I understand that we are light-years away from this politically. I just don’t think that hammering away at average IQ test scores is going to help; I think it will, if anything, make things worse.)

  135. Because employers dare not use IQ tests for fear of disparate-impact lawsuits, they have to fall back on much less efficient and more expensive proxies like ability to get a college diploma. The resulting waste is immense.

    I agree with this too, but I would note that if employers could actually test job competence directly, they wouldn’t even need IQ tests; they could just, well, test job competence directly. At least one recent Supreme Court case held out some hope for this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricci_v._DeStefano

  136. “Simpler, perhaps, but they don’t account for either the ubiquity of the reported experiences (i.e., not just during ceremonies or other specific times) or their presence in stories (e.g., the Iliad) where there isn’t any mention of the substances.”

    I think this answers every objection you may have:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kykeon

  137. “Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.”
    @esr: “This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.”

    Why does this remind my of the main robot character is Niven’s short story “What Can You Say about Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?” Eric seems to attract the same kinds of people for much the same reasons as that character.

  138. (Yes, I understand that we are light-years away from this politically. I just don’t think that hammering away at average IQ test scores is going to help; I think it will, if anything, make things worse.)

    I don’t get the “hammering away”. The only person “hammering away” at average IQ test scores is you. This is either projection or some kind of strawman.

    About all everyone else ventures to claim is that individual and group IQ differences seem to be real, and have some follow-on consequences.

  139. I completely agree with this diagnosis of the disease; but I don’t agree with the treatment strategy that appears to be currently adopted, which is to respond by expending enormous effort to show that some groups are too less smart on average than others. Even if it’s true, it amounts to slapping a band-aid on gangrene.

    I’m not sure that we’re talking about the same disease; rather, we seem to be addressing comorbid conditions. You appear to be discussing the proper course of raising children, which I think we all can agree involves proper nutrition and instilling good habits and character, both of which need to be customized to the child in question.

    However, the government and legal system have been captured by the US-liberal insistence on treating “equals” as “identical with”, and most of the media narrative supports the false claim that there are no structural differences between groups of people. Pushing back on false accusations of racial or sex discrimination (usually attached to bogus lawsuits; for the most egregious of these, see EEOC v. Sears) requires sufficient ammunition, and as shotguns haven’t worked, these tropes are clearly zombies, and we’re having to trade in our bazookas for 88mms.

    I think this answers every objection you may have:

    Interesting, though still not dispositive. ((I think my translation of the Odyssey just used “beer”, which wipes out all the allusive connotation.) Absent any overly compelling evidence, I think that Jaymes’s proposal is going to stay labeled in my mind as “probably not true, but definitely interesting to ruminate on”.

  140. >> Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.
    >
    > This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.

    I would suspect those who comment *regularly* “do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating”, or perhaps to have Eric identify their self-perceived ingenuity (call me a hacker, please, please!).
    Perhaps there are those who comment less for fear of drawing unnecessary attention to themselves, or having Eric draw attention to our own stupidity.

    There are those of us who just find Eric interesting, or at least amusing in a useful way, and only comment when there’s something equally interesting, amusing, or useful to say. These seem to be a large minority, at least for the regulars. I suspect Eric draws more interesting people than he does trolls or idiots.

  141. @Christopher Smith: I’m not sure that we’re talking about the same disease; rather, we seem to be addressing comorbid conditions.

    I think we’re talking about the same underlying disease, but I started talking about a particular symptom whereas you just cut right to the disease itself.

    You appear to be discussing the proper course of raising children

    I was when I was responding to esr about possible interventions for raising IQ; but arguments about IQ differences are just one area in which the underlying disease manifests itself.

    the government and legal system have been captured by the US-liberal insistence on treating “equals” as “identical with”, and most of the media narrative supports the false claim that there are no structural differences between groups of people.

    This is the underlying disease (but maybe not the best way to describe it–see below), and symptoms show up in many places; as I said above, arguments about whether or not there are group differences in average IQ are just one symptom.

    Pushing back on false accusations of racial or sex discrimination (usually attached to bogus lawsuits; for the most egregious of these, see EEOC v. Sears) requires sufficient ammunition, and as shotguns haven’t worked, these tropes are clearly zombies, and we’re having to trade in our bazookas for 88mms.

    This is all tactics, and I’m trying to talk strategy. Yes, do whatever you have to to defend against a particular false accusation. But this doesn’t fix the underlying disease, and neither does trying to rebut claims of no group differences with claims of yes, there are group differences. The real problem is the idea of “group differences” as something worth talking or worrying about at all.

  142. Rich Rostrom on Thursday, April 11 2013 at 2:18 pm said:

    @Peter Donis: “I agree with this, but I also agree with Don Calvus in that I don’t see why this requires so much effort to be expended to show that some groups are smarter on average than other groups.”

    @Rich Rostrom: “That’s not the point. The point is the enormous efforts expended to pretend that no groups are less smart on average than others.”

    It is exactly the point.

    Why on earth would it be important to determine that on average some groups are more successful on IQ tests than other? Except to conclude that “Blacks are dumber than Whites”, which is probably the hidden premise. Seriously?

    Are you serious when you (general you) talk about employers unable to use IQ tests, due to political correctness or something? But have you tried to hire someone before? I’ve done it. Many times. And I always have hired competent people. I was testing *skills*, not fucking IQ! In my daily life and professional life, IQ score doesn’t have the slightest interest. And I’m doing really ok, and working with really smart people.

    There’s always some ideological/political agenda behind this kind of testing, it’s obvious.

    I don’t care whether the guy I’m working with has an IQ of 116 because he’s Black and could have achieved 124 if he was a White. It’s pure bullshit, partly funny when someone like Jim Goad (who I love) writes about it, but really sad when taken that seriously.

    So, yes, the question is: why is it important to say that people living in poor social conditions, mostly Black, achieve lower IQ scores *because they’re Black*, and not simply, which is most likely to be true, *because they’re living in poor conditions*?

    One of many possible biases, of course.

    I’m puzzled with that race/IQ obsession, really.

    It’s like the “monkeys with technology” we really are have the vanity to believe they can understand the human brain and summarize it into basic tests. Well, I just don’t buy that. And politically, I think it’s just both a pure waste of time and playing with fire.

  143. @Rich Rostrom: You seem to be making many of the same general points I am making, so I think we are in violent agreement.

    One thing we may differ about is that I think at least a fair portion of the emphasis on objective evidence showing group differences is a (mistaken) attempt to refute the pervasive claims that there are no such differences; in other words, it’s defensive, not offensive. (Of course there is certainly a fair portion of it that *is* offensive, in both senses of that word–using “evidence” about group differences, no matter how dubious, to justify writing off some groups.)

  144. Oops, my last post was in response to Don Calvus, not Rich Rostrom, so I should have said we’re in non-violent agreement. :-)

  145. This is all tactics, and I’m trying to talk strategy. Yes, do whatever you have to to defend against a particular false accusation. But this doesn’t fix the underlying disease, and neither does trying to rebut claims of no group differences with claims of yes, there are group differences. The real problem is the idea of “group differences” as something worth talking or worrying about at all.

    Perhaps, but I don’t think that that problem can be solved at all, period. There are too many opportunities for grievance-mongering, either heartfelt or cynical, and at least the distinction of “us” vs. “them” appears hardwired in the mammalian psyche. Certainly it’s possible for individuals to learn to get mostly past that (see Eric’s comments about sci-fi and inclusiveness), but it’s not the newborn’s default, and while I would love for that issue to be solved, I’d also like everyone to understand the fallacy of composition, which I think is a much easier task but also nowhere in sight.

    Are you serious when you (general you) talk about employers unable to use IQ tests, due to political correctness or something? But have you tried to hire someone before? I’ve done it. Many times. And I always have hired competent people. I was testing *skills*, not fucking IQ!

    Okay, a skill test then, on which white applicants do dramatically better than black ones. Let’s say a multiple-choice, objectively-scored test, normed for racial neutrality, covering specific subject matter that was disclosed beforehand to the applicants. You’re going to say that you have no concern about being sued if on such an objectively accurate test the white applicants all do well and the black applicants do poorly?

  146. I don’t think that that problem can be solved at all, period.

    This may well be true, but if it is, trying to fight it with facts about group differences is just as pointless as trying to fight it with arguments about why group differences shouldn’t be focused on. The best one can do is adapt.

  147. @Christopher Smith: “Okay, a skill test then, on which white applicants do dramatically better than black ones. Let’s say a multiple-choice, objectively-scored test, normed for racial neutrality, covering specific subject matter that was disclosed beforehand to the applicants. You’re going to say that you have no concern about being sued if on such an objectively accurate test the white applicants all do well and the black applicants do poorly?”

    You are living in a strange world.

  148. I’ve read a certain amount of traditional pornography. It often portrays women who are overwhelmingly interested in sex as a physical act, to the point where they will Do It with just about any man who comes along, or, if no man is available (or if there’s only one man, and that’s not enough to satisfy them), with another woman. That is, it constructs women as driven to same-sex activity by the sheer intensity of their physical appetites.

    I’ve read a modest amount of fanfic, and talked with women who consume and produce it, and so of course I know about slash. Slash portrays men who become sexually active with other men out of the closeness of their emotional bonding and the intensity of their need for emotional closeness, often boosted by physical or emotional injury (the classic “hurt/comfort” motif). That is, it constructs men as driven to same-sex activity by the sheer intensity of their need for emotional bonding.

    It seems to me that each of these represents one sex fantasizes about hot same-sex activity on the part of the other sex in a way that attributes its own motivational pattern to the other sex.

  149. So, yes, the question is: why is it important to say that people living in poor social conditions, mostly Black, achieve lower IQ scores *because they’re Black*, and not simply, which is most likely to be true, *because they’re living in poor conditions*?

    The only person who seems to think it’s important to say that is you. Why, I’m not really sure.

    What IS important is to be able to accurately observe reality, whether or not you like what you observe. The ability to do that is closely related to Eric’s definition of sanity.

  150. @Don Calvus
    >What would be, then, an “unbiased test”?

    I said to Winter, and extend to you… YOU design the test, by whatever criteria YOU think will account for social biases. If, after doing that, there are still statistically-significant differences, then what? How far will you go to evade knowing an ugly truth?

  151. @ Don Calvus

    You have to remember that many of the people who comment here style themselves as “libertarians”, but are probably better described as conservatives looking for allies.

    For them, the perceived intellectual rigour of libertarianism usefully clothes their otherwise distasteful prejudices.

    For instance, some seem to be very keen to find a justification for saying “I’m not racist … It’s just *true* that blacks are dumber than whites”.

    (They tend to get upset when it is pointed out, as you have, that an experiment which results in lower IQ average scores in a sample of “blacks” than in a sample of “whites” does not prove that the “blacks” are dumber than the “whites”.)

  152. Of course, the people who point out that the average white IQ is higher than the average black IQ usually also admit that (on average) Ashkenazi Jews and East Asians outscore whites, which makes the “white racism” charge seem pretty silly. “We’re #3!” isn’t much of a racial-superiority rallying cry.

  153. @Christopher Smith: “Okay, a skill test then, on which white applicants do dramatically better than black ones. Let’s say a multiple-choice, objectively-scored test, normed for racial neutrality, covering specific subject matter that was disclosed beforehand to the applicants. You’re going to say that you have no concern about being sued if on such an objectively accurate test the white applicants all do well and the black applicants do poorly?”

    You are living in a strange world.

    I thought as much.

    You have to remember that many of the people who comment here style themselves as “libertarians”, but are probably better described as conservatives looking for allies.

    For them, the perceived intellectual rigour of libertarianism usefully clothes their otherwise distasteful prejudices.

    For instance, some seem to be very keen to find a justification for saying “I’m not racist … It’s just *true* that blacks are dumber than whites”.

    Of course, you can’t be pinned down by any of those usefully undefined “many”, since you’ll always be talking about someone else, but I’m calling attempted but poorly executed Model L.

  154. @ PapayaSF
    > usually admit that (on average) Ashkenazi Jews and East Asians outscore whites

    Translation: “I’m not racist. Some of my best friends are Ashkenazi Jews/East Asians … and they’re very smart. Smarter than me. And definitely smarter than those dumb blacks.”

  155. @ Christopher Smith.
    > Model L
    Incorrect. I have no objection whatsoever to the application of rational skepticism to evaluate accusations of pervasive racism.

    My objection here is in fact to insufficient application of rational skepticism.

    Whether it is emprically true that a group of people grouped by a set of particular ethnic markers is “naturally” (genetically?) more or less “intelligent” on average than another group of people grouped by another set of ethnic markers is a question which is theoretically capable of being answered. However, in my view it is insufficiently critical to accept the results of “IQ tests” as answering that question without examining the very signficiant cultural and ethnographic context in which the question is asked.

    To start with, it is always interesting to ask why we might be interested in the outcome of such an experiment.

  156. Incorrect. I have no objection whatsoever to the application of rational skepticism to evaluate accusations of pervasive racism.

    How about the application of rational skepticism to the claim that there are no inherent genetic differences between roughly-defined groups that formed moderately-bounded reproductive cliques for a large number of generations?

    My objection here is in fact to insufficient application of rational skepticism.

    Application to what claim? Because the researchers concerned with the instant question have tried extremely hard for decades to find a combination of corrective factors that would explain the disparity in the results and have been unable to do so. These are people who very much want to avoid the conclusion that such large differences in IQ are inherent, for reasons ranging from political correctness to simple optimism and hope for humanity.

    Whether it is emprically true that a group of people grouped by a set of particular ethnic markers is “naturally” (genetically?) more or less “intelligent” on average than another group of people grouped by another set of ethnic markers is a question which is theoretically capable of being answered. However, in my view it is insufficiently critical to accept the results of “IQ tests” as answering that question without examining the very signficiant cultural and ethnographic context in which the question is asked.

    Do you think that these issues haven’t been raised extensively? If you have evidence that IQ is in fact meaningless (that is, you can demonstrate that the strong, consistent correlation between “whatever IQ tests measure” and a large number of external indicators such as academic and job performance and time preference), then you have a willing audience and the opportunity to make both a name for yourself and a serious contribution to the field. Otherwise, you’re just on a demand treadmill; no evidence will ever be enough that you won’t invoke some mysterious confounding factor that you can’t identify in order to avoid a conclusion you don’t like.

    To start with, it is always interesting to ask why we might be interested in the outcome of such an experiment.

    And if JAD were running the experiment, I’d completely agree with your reticence. However, the mountains of papers published on the subject are primarily written by people who have strong internal and external incentives to demonstrate that any so-called racial intelligence gap is due solely to external factors. They’ve identified some important factors, such as nutrition, but a significant statistical gap remains. You keep invoking some sort of shadow conspiracy, as though the “many” you’ve accused of racist trolling are somehow the psychological Illuminati. You have just as much access to the literature as anyone here; how about citations rather than innuendo?

  157. @ Christopher Smith
    > how about citations rather than innuendo

    Pot, meet kettle.

    (Oh, and the first Google hit for “are blacks less smart” is Stormfront).

  158. @ Christopher Smith
    > how about citations rather than innuendo

    Pot, meet kettle.

    Care to specify what you’re wanting citations on, most particularly things that wouldn’t be clearly demonstrated by reading a Wikipedia article or the first page of Google search results? You’ve invoked a racist conspiracy and disregarded the careful work of researchers to account for confounding factors in determining heritability of intelligence, and while I’ll throw you the bone of linking this article that Eric’s discussed at length previously, the snide implications of your comment that

    (Oh, and the first Google hit for “are blacks less smart” is Stormfront).

    permits me to wash my hands of you in good conscience.

  159. > How about the application of rational skepticism to the claim that there are no inherent genetic differences between roughly-defined groups that formed moderately-bounded reproductive cliques for a large number of generations?

    I have made no such claim. That you wish to attack something I have not said makes me think that you do not really wish to argue with the thinks that I have said.

    Again – you want to assert that observed “racial” differences in IQ test results equal differences in innate or “genetic” intelligence. There is significant literature on the subject which does not support that view.

    To return to a point made upthread, it seems important for some people’s worldview that they feel able to say that “blacks” are dumber than “whites”. I am interested in why that is the case.

  160. > invoked a racist conspiracy

    What rot. There need be no conspiracy and nor have I alleged one.

    You think I am hand waving away what you consider to be uncomfortable (?) truths.

    I think you are over-simplifying, for essentially political reasons, a complex issue in a way that does nothing to illuminate the “truth” but does allow evil racists to feel justified in their vileness.

  161. TomM
    “I am interested in why that is the case.”

    I think it is to make the world simple enough to feel comfortable. Having to evaluate and justify existing differences as the result of man-made social circumstances is much more complex than making it an act of god or bad luck.

    And science makes an appearance here *only* if it supports prejudices. So, there is extensive reflection on 19th century theoretical (population) genetics of humans, e.g., the ideas of Galton. But the actual results of modern genetic populations studies are dismissed as the result of political correctness (e.g., Dobzhansky).

    One simple example:
    Knowing that someone has African ancestry tells you little about his genetics as most of genetic variation found in humans is limited to sub-Saharan Africans (90%?). In contrast, knowing people who have roots in Ireland, Japan, or Terra del Fuego will tell you that they are genetically mostly alike.

    Furthermore, black people in the USA have only 50% or less genetic material from their African ancestry. So, even in the completely hypothetical case that their African ancestry is exclusively from a population that was genetically depressed in IQ, half of their ancestors in the USA would not have these alleles anyway, but the “Caucasian” versions.

    However, that information is complex, and therefore, unwanted.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.10234/abstract

  162. TomM on Friday, April 12 2013 at 3:00 am said:
    “I think you are over-simplifying, for essentially political reasons, a complex issue in a way that does nothing to illuminate the “truth” but does allow evil racists to feel justified in their vileness.”

    Every time I read libertarian views, I’m puzzled by this oversimplification, this need for dichotomy, in a way. And the contradictions. Like: “man, it’s not racist, really, it’s to know how we can work to rise these peoples’ IQ” and later you read “IQ is linked to physiological traits, and noone actually increases his IQ, his offspring can do, it’s different”. Well, guys, agree with yourselves. Can we or can we not “help” these people? (The real question being of course “do we want to” and the answer “what the fuck for”.) And how would we do that, in the frame of a libertarian society of individuals, with no welfare at all? Just curious.

    The question “why” cannot be answered by such assertions as “you may not like what reality tells you, but it is reality, so you’re delusional”.

    To be convinced that one understands, if not holds, “reality” is a really boastful statement. Especially when one tends to summarise it like this.

    As for Christopher Smith, sir, your question about IQ tests that I would design to remove any bias is totally irrelevant. As I told you, since I don’t give a rat’s ass about race, I neither try to get rid of any “bias”, nor do I even consider anything else than *skills* related to the job or mission, and *competence*. This include social skills.

    I would never hire an autistic person to perform jobs that need social contact. Mind you, autistic persons do perform higher on IQ tests on average. But I’m not stupid enough to rely on any sort of abstract “intellectual performance” test to make my judgment about people. Nor would I hire a robot or a computer.

  163. ISTM these topics provoke a particular constellation of obtuseness, jingoism, and associated intellectual sins, among all discussants. We’re so quick to misunderstand and misrepresent each other. Eventually we find a reason to break off discussion altogether, usually by closing the browser tab without replying, occasionally in less graceful fashion. I suspect it is the older and wiser who are able to discuss these topics without the constant compulsion to “truth”.

    It’s OK to read a proposition that disagrees with your experience or personal philosophies. It’s OK to let that proposition marinate a bit (say, six months) before integrating it into your experience or personal philosophies. It’s OK to revise such a decision later. It’s OK not to devise elaborate theoretical support for such a decision. It’s OK to tell us about your elaborate theories if you do have them. It’s OK not to damn everyone who requires a bit of rumination before integrating those theories. It’s OK not to damn everyone who rejects them on sight.

    Actually, it’s even OK to write a blog post that is entirely inquisitive and fanciful, containing any number of propositions one might consider without caring whether they’re “true”. It’s really good to do that, despite (or maybe partially because of) the ridiculous antics the post is sure to inspire in the comment section.

    Actually, if I hadn’t been travelling, I would have jumped in with Sarah against the dogpiling wrt “oppression” by various pedants who ought to read more Nietzsche, or maybe just the newspaper.

    Incidentally, by what tortuous path did we descend from the topic of gender disparities and how they might take different forms in different plausible human societies to the (to me, much less interesting) topic of “racial” disparities in the modern world? Is the latter topic “safer”, or is there something else at work?

  164. @Christopher Smith: Since you linked to Ricci v. DeStefano (which I also did upthread), it’s worth pointing out that in that case, the whites did much better the blacks on tests given by the city of New Haven; the city responded by throwing out the test scores and promoting the blacks anyway; and the *whites* then sued the city (and were upheld by the Supreme Court). I don’t think that’s quite the scenario you were thinking of in your comment.

  165. and promoting the blacks anyway

    Oops, should have re-read the Wikipedia page; the city actually threw out the test scores and promoted *nobody*.

  166. @Jess


    Incidentally, by what tortuous path did we descend from the topic of gender disparities and how they might take different forms in different plausible human societies to the (to me, much less interesting) topic of “racial” disparities in the modern world? Is the latter topic “safer”, or is there something else at work?

    One is a proxy for the other. We really don’t want to hit girls. Jessica Boxer and many others here can take care of themselves, but still….

    Did you read Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists in Wired? The writer dismisses meritocracy as a myth. This attitude is typical of the political class.

    Many of us have a certain investment in meritocracy. We think we are competent. For some of us it’s all we have, and we fear losing out if other criteria become more important.

    We also know that competence is vital. We fear the consequences of having fools in technical positions. We have too many too often now, but if selection criteria are explicitly political it’s much more likely. It is vital that selection criteria in all sorts of endevours put competence first, and any other qualities a distant second.

    Chernobyl. Columbia. Challenger. The Hyatt Regency hotel walkway collapse in Kansas City. Countless industrial accidents. This is what happens when political processes put fools in charge.

  167. @Peter Donis

    We could easily agree that the legal and political institutions in the USA are dysfunctional, as is explained in excruciating detail by commentators on this blog, eg, the example you gave.

    If US institutions are dysfunctional, only US citizens can mend them. Given the fact that the citizens seem to hate each other with a vengeance makes the outlook rather dim.

    What makes commenters on this blog look like utter fools is when they try to extrapolate their experiences with dysfunctional USA institutions to other countries under the assumption that it must be much worse there. It is different in every country. But it can be much better than in the USA.

  168. @Winter

    The thought that things could be much better in the USA than they are is a great comfort. Thank you.

    I suspect that other countries are equally disfunctional, only differently. I could be wrong.

    In any case, what works in The Netherlands will probably not work the same way here. Remember my screed about the dikes?

  169. @Winter: It is different in every country. But it can be much better than in the USA.

    Can you give any specific examples? You’re quite correct that I was talking about the USA, since it’s the only country I have enough familiarity with. But my impression is that the underlying disease (basically, group identity politics over individualism) is everywhere, if not always manifested in the same way. (I would expect it to be, since forms of it are observable in other species, e.g., chimpanzees, so it’s evidently an evolutionary adaptation that has been around for quite a while.)

  170. Incidentally, by what tortuous path did we descend from the topic of gender disparities and how they might take different forms in different plausible human societies to the (to me, much less interesting) topic of “racial” disparities in the modern world? Is the latter topic “safer”, or is there something else at work?

    Natural conversational drift. Started with The Monster responding to Winter taking the ad hom easy out when he couldn’t get the upper hand on JAD otherwise.

    Yes, some people comment here to have some kind of connection to esr. And some find this to be like a cafe (or a salon, if you will) full of smarter than average people and usually smarter than average conversation as well. But also sometimes soap opera. :)

  171. @TomM
    >For instance, some seem to be very keen to find a justification for saying “I’m not racist … It’s just *true* that blacks are dumber than whites”.

    The received wisdom is that there are no statistically-significant differences in intelligence between ethnic or gender groups. Therefore, when hiring practices deviate substantially from general demographics, it is proof of racist/sexist discrimination.

    No rational person claims that NBA teams are racist for hiring black players far beyond the black representation in the general population. Despite the fact that one quarter of the world’s population is Chinese, last time I checked there were precisely two Chinese NBA players. Nearly that many people live in India, which has yet to fill a single NBA roster spot to my knowledge.

    It is a widely accepted scientific fact that fast-twitch muscle fibers are dominant in the West African populations, which explains why the medal winners in Olympic 100 meter are always of West African extraction. Sprinting and jumping are obviously affected by these muscle fibers, and equally-obviously relevant to one’s ability to play the game of basketball.

    Marathons, however, are not won by West Africans. Instead, runners from eastern and southern Africa seem to dominate. And the “World’s Strongest Men” competitions are owned by northern Europeans. The weights these men must lift and pull have no ability to discriminate against Africans, Asians, Australians, and Native Americans, but it’s always possible that some form of discrimination prevents those people from getting the same training and nutrition. Clearly, there are individuals from these “weaker” places who are stronger than the average northern European, and individuals from the “slower” places who are better sprinters than average West Africans, and better marathoners than average eastern/southern Africans, but the best of the best in each case are what they are. No amount of wishing these gifts were uniformly distributed amongst all ethnic groups can change the fact that they are not.

    So, if there are true, statistically-significant differences in IQ among ethnic groups, that can’t be explained away as artifacts of systemic bias in the testing, a policy that requires hiring in positions that demand high IQ in strict accordance with census data will necessitate hiring less-qualified applicants solely due to racial criteria. And isn’t that what Branch Rickey hired Jackie Robinson to end?

  172. BTW, talking about outrage in respect to sex, have you guys seen the news about that poor chick in Maine who is being publicly humiliated for the dreadful crime of providing sexual services in exchange for money?

    Really, what the hell is wrong with people that they are spending so much effort and money on something that is basically nobody else’s business. I really, honestly can’t imagine why they are doing this.

    And really if this girl has to be humiliated in the public stocks, why aren’t her clients right there with her? Really, it makes me sick to my stomach. It is the very essence of patriarchal, anachronistic bullshit writ large on a humiliating public stage.

    I’m trying to decide if it is good for Zumba or not. She is always billed as the Zumba teacher prostitute. I guess they don’t want their name blighted with a “crime”, but I guess it also has the advantage of “do our exercise program and you will be hot enough that guys will pay you for sex.” Hmmh, tough call on the PR front.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/29/zumba-trial-guilty-plea/2036563/

  173. BobW: “The writer dismisses meritocracy as a myth. This attitude is typical of the political class.”

    Have you read Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon? There is a splendid scene early on where Randy Waterhouse delivers a rant on this subject to his wife and a roomful of her humanist/social scientist guests.

  174. @William H. Stoddard

    I just bought a copy when the Kindle price dropped a few days ago. I have yet to read it.

    I bet Neal Stephenson wrote a better rant than I did.

  175. The funny thing is that affirmative action has been in place in the US for decades, and yet the reputation of American products hasn’t dropped. My tentative theory is that hiring has a large random factor.

  176. @Nancy Lebovitz

    The funny thing is that affirmative action has been in place in the US for decades, and yet the reputation of American products hasn’t dropped. My tentative theory is that hiring has a large random factor.

    Oh? Really? I was under the impression that everything in the USA was crap.

    Just ask Winter. /snark

    I agree that hiring has a large random component. How can it not?

  177. As I told you, since I don’t give a rat’s ass about race, I neither try to get rid of any “bias”, nor do I even consider anything else than *skills* related to the job or mission, and *competence*.

    Then you’re at serious risk of being sued for not hiring enough $MINORITY, and if you dispute that fact, you might as well go ahead and call yourself a sovereign citizen.

    This include social skills. I would never hire an autistic person to perform jobs that need social contact.

    Amusingly, not only does this put you unquestionably in the wrong legally, I observe that one of the particular skills I bring as a consultant is the ability to explain technical issues understandably to non-technical people, which appears to be a rather unusual trait.

    @Christopher Smith: Since you linked to Ricci v. DeStefano (which I also did upthread), it’s worth pointing out that in that case, the whites did much better the blacks on tests given by the city of New Haven; the city responded by throwing out the test scores and promoting the blacks anyway; and the *whites* then sued the city (and were upheld by the Supreme Court). I don’t think that’s quite the scenario you were thinking of in your comment.

    No, I knew exactly what it was about. Don Calvus keeps accusing anyone who’s insisting of determining facts of having racist motivation and strongly implied (though he wouldn’t give a direct answer) that I was a paranoid lunatic for suggesting that a fair test on which black applicants did poorly was lawsuit bait. The New Haven test dismissal was based on exactly that logic, and the district and circuit courts upheld their claim summarily. Even the Supreme Court was deeply divided on the issue. Invoking the Ricci case was a litmus test to see whether the experienced HR professional had any idea of the actual litigation environment in the United States.

    You’re quite correct that I was talking about the USA, since it’s the only country I have enough familiarity with. But my impression is that the underlying disease (basically, group identity politics over individualism) is everywhere, if not always manifested in the same way.

    A couple of observations: The legal climate is certainly hostile in the United States, but from the stories I see, it’s France where riots are a matter of course, nearly always divided along native–immigrant (mostly Muslim) lines. I’ve only spent a short time in the Netherlands, but I got a strong though quiet sense of nativism there, too, some applied toward the Netherlands itself and some toward Europe generally, and even in The Hague nearly everyone I saw was white.

    The funny thing is that affirmative action has been in place in the US for decades, and yet the reputation of American products hasn’t dropped.

    Even if I were going to take your claim at face value, you both miss confounding factors and cherry-pick your output: American manufacturing has become dramatically more automated over the past few decades, and the primary effect of any economically irrational race-based policy will be first to raise prices, not to lower quality.

  178. Christopher Smith: “Then you’re at serious risk of being sued for not hiring enough $MINORITY, and if you dispute that fact, you might as well go ahead and call yourself a sovereign citizen.”

    No I’m not at risk. I’m not American, as my English mistakes demonstrate. We don’t have that level of affirmative action, god forbid. The only one we constitutionally can have (and have to some extent) is about people living in ghettos. Of course they’re not officially called “ghettos”.

    “Amusingly, not only does this put you unquestionably in the wrong legally, I observe that one of the particular skills I bring as a consultant is the ability to explain technical issues understandably to non-technical people, which appears to be a rather unusual trait.”

    But you don’t suffer from Asperger’s, do you?

    BTW, nothing personal here from me to you, I assure you… Sorry if I got a little carried away, I often do.

  179. “A couple of observations: The legal climate is certainly hostile in the United States, but from the stories I see, it’s France where riots are a matter of course, nearly always divided along native–immigrant (mostly Muslim) lines.”

    This is what I really want to explain. You’re right and wrong at the same time.

    France has put all Arabs and Africans in ghettos (you call them “projects” I think) after the decolonisation, along with poor Whites who couldn’t afford better. These Arabs and Africans were cheap labor and basically rebuilt France after WWII. Their offspring are French and have numerous reasons to get angry about the treatment they’ve been getting from the State since the 1970’s at least (check out Charonne 1961 — it’s not a wine –, or the movie “Dupont-Lajoie” if you find a dubbed version). I’ve lived in many such places and ironically the only time I’ve been somewhat “molested” was by two Whiteys and an Arab (I wouldn’t get so far as to draw a statistic from that alone fact) who tried to… steal my home keys.

    The “riots” here are not frequent, but I guess they’re almost all you get from France, which I can, sadly, understand, as I know a little bit about how medias and stereotypes work. Anyway, these riots, undoubtedly violent when they occur, are not divided along racial lines. The rioters are those project people, period. As it happens, of course, for historical, political and economical reasons, they include a majority of Arabs and Africans. But rest assured that a lot of Whites participate.

    I have no problem at all with “Reality”. I have a problem with people or programs stirring up hate, that’s all.

    I’ve been personally living in multicultural places in Paris over the last 20 years, as well as in rich (monocultural, of course) places, and I know where I prefer to live.

  180. “The “riots” here are not frequent, but I guess they’re almost all you get from France, which I can, sadly, understand, as I know a little bit about how medias and stereotypes work. Anyway, these riots, undoubtedly violent when they occur, are not divided along racial lines. The rioters are those project people, period. As it happens, of course, for historical, political and economical reasons, they include a majority of Arabs and Africans. But rest assured that a lot of Whites participate.”

    And to be perfectly clear: yes, you can hear white people swearing by “le Coran” and mimicking Arab ghetto-culture, I’m aware of that. You too have white “homies”. It’s very logical. And it also fails to demonstrate anything “race”-related.

  181. @Don Calvus

    And to be perfectly clear: yes, you can hear white people swearing by “le Coran” and mimicking Arab ghetto-culture, I’m aware of that. You too have white “homies”. It’s very logical. And it also fails to demonstrate anything “race”-related.

    But if you say anything negative about the culture of a minority group, you’re branded as “racist” (or possibly “islamophobic” in the case of the Arab culture). Furthermore, any member of the minority group who strays from that culture is branded as “inauthentic, “Uncle Tom”, “Oreo”, “coconut”, etc., as if one’s genes determine his culture.

    I think that much, probably most, of the differences between these groups is cultural. But there is too much evidence that at least some of it is genetic for an honest person to ignore. And that means we have to have a higher standard than “disparate impact” before we send in the Men With Badges And Guns to punish someone for “discrimination”.

  182. @The Monster: we have to have a higher standard than “disparate impact” before we send in the Men With Badges And Guns to punish someone for “discrimination”.

    Why should Men With Badges And Guns *ever* be allowed to punish someone for “discrimination”? Why is it a crime at all? I understand why it’s considered wrong by many people; I’m against it myself. But why is it a crime? The fact that such a thing is even contemplated at all, let alone the law of the land, is the real problem.

  183. Well, it may be so, as regards IQ as a measurement of “something”. But the only question to ask here is “what agenda does it serve”. What is the use for it, and what are the likely consequences of such racialism? (Not racism. The words are important.)

    I’ll end here, because I think I’ve got nothing more to say. Just a snippet from Bergson, a more intelligent man than I am, about intelligence, which, I think, is overrated. Intelligence in itself is useless. That’s why (among other reasons) I think IQ research not only is counter-productive but also fundamentally biased.

    (The translation is mine, so forgive the bad style…)

    “Whereas instinct is moulded around life’s form itself, intelligence, on the contrary, is characterised by a natural lack of understanding of life.
    Intelligence, taken as it comes out of nature’s hands, has for its main object the unorganised solid. It only apprehends clearly the discrete and immobility. It is at ease only with that which is dead. It invariably behaves as if it were fascinated by the contemplation of inert matter. Hence its astonishment when it turns towards the living and finds itself facing organisation.
    Precisely, because it always seeks to reconstruct and to reconstruct out of given, intelligence misses what is new in every moment of an history. It does not accept the unpredictable. It rejects all creation. Thus concentrated on what is repeating itself, only concerned about bonding the same to the same, intelligence turns away from the vision of time. It loathes the fluent and solidifies everything it has touched. We do not think real time, but we experience it.”

  184. @The Monster

    > The received wisdom is that there are no statistically-significant differences in intelligence between ethnic or gender groups. Therefore, when hiring practices deviate substantially from general demographics, it is proof of racist/sexist discrimination.

    So the reason you want to be able to say that “blacks” are dumber than “whites” is that you prefer to hire “whites” and you think that saying this will minimize the litigation risk that your preference represents?

  185. Thanks for the information about France. The projects/ghettos have an especially clever feature– they’re in the suburbs, which I assume means there’s even less economic opportunity than in cities. I blame government.

  186. Don Calvus on Thursday, April 11 2013 at 9:14 pm said:
    @Christopher Smith: “You’re going to say that you have no concern about being sued if on such an objectively accurate test the white applicants all do well and the black applicants do poorly?”

    You are living in a strange world.

    Yes, it is a strange world we live in, including you. Under U.S. employment law, any test or qualification which has “disparate impact” is presumed to be illegal discrimination unless the employer can prove that the test or qualification is directly related to ability to perform the job.

    IOW, in the case above, the employer is liable to be brought before the EEOC, charged with discrimination, and the burden of proof will be on the employer to show the charge is false. The EEOC is (by its nature) favorable to claims of discrimination. The costs of such proceedings are very substantial, and the employer will not be compensated or reimbursed, even if they win.

  187. @ Rich Rostrom
    > unless the employer can prove that the test or qualification is directly related to ability to perform the job

    As you acknowledge, the so-called disparate impact test is subject to the business necessity exception.

    So, if the things tested by an “IQ test” were actually (provably) related to the ability to perform the jobs that The Monster and Christopher Smith have in mind, the concerns they cite are false.

  188. Rich Rostrom on Friday, April 12 2013 at 7:15 pm said:
    “Under U.S. employment law, any test or qualification which has “disparate impact” is presumed to be illegal discrimination unless the employer can prove that the test or qualification is directly related to ability to perform the job.”

    And this is a problem why?

    If your test isn’t directly related to ability to perform the job, what is its purpose?

  189. TomM on Friday, April 12 2013 at 5:45 pm said:
    @The Monster “The received wisdom is that there are no statistically-significant differences in intelligence between ethnic or gender groups. Therefore, when hiring practices deviate substantially from general demographics, it is proof of racist/sexist discrimination.”

    So the reason you want to be able to say that “blacks” are dumber than “whites” is that you prefer to hire “whites” and you think that saying this will minimize the litigation risk that your preference represents?

    No, his preference is for hiring competent, qualified people without regard to race or gender. This includes not hiring incompetent or unqualified Slobbovians, when the proportion of Slobbovians in the applicant pool or general population exceeds the proportion of Slobbovians among qualified applicants.

    Which, under present U.S. law, an employer is practically required to do. Failure to meet the expected quota of Slobbovians is considered prima facie evidence of discrimination, which must be disproved by the employer at great expense before a hostile tribunal. There are safe harbors for some very obvious and necessary qualifications, but none for general mental ability.

    The pernicious effects of this rule include weakening of standards so that additional Slobbovians can be hired, hiring of marginally qualified Slobbovians in place of much better qualified others, and substitution of certifications, educational achievement, or other safe proxies for objective
    tests or the employer’s considered judgement about applicants’ abilities.

    One might compare it to a religious dogma that rain falls on Friday only once a month, and therefore wearing a raincoat or carrying an umbrella on a second Friday is prohibited. This results in practices such as never scheduling rain-vulnerable activities on Friday, or pretending on such a Friday that it is necessary to use a car to travel one block, or wearing only clothes that won’t be damaged by rain.

    All of which could be avoided by acknowledging that sometimes it does rain on a second Friday.

  190. @ Rich Rostrom

    > No, his preference is for hiring competent, qualified people without regard to race or gender.

    I’m right there with you, brother. But then …

    > This includes not hiring incompetent or unqualified Slobbovians, when the proportion of Slobbovians in the applicant pool or general population exceeds the proportion of Slobbovians among qualified applicants.

    you undo yourself with tortured doublespeak.

    There is no obligation to hire “incompetent or unqualififed Slobbovians” or any quota of them, as you seem keen to insist. Indeed, demonstrating that a person is (actually) incompetent or unqualified is a very good answer to the question why you did not hire them.

    However, saying that someone is a member of the group “Slobbovian”, and Slobbovians are generally known to be generally incompetent or unqualified (“just look – here’s a blog post which says so!”) is a very poor answer to the question of why you did not hire them.

    I don’t disagree that the expense and incovenience of defending spurious allegations of unlawful discrimination should be minimised and that businesses accused of applying dscriminatory hiring practices may find it difficult to adequately defend those practices. I think those issues are best addressed by having sensible people making sensible decisions about which cases are appropriate to prosecute.

  191. @Jessica Boxer:

    BTW, talking about outrage in respect to sex, have you guys seen the news about that poor chick in Maine who is being publicly humiliated for the dreadful crime of providing sexual services in exchange for money?

    Actually, (from what I have read of the case) if I had been on the jury, I probably would have thrown the book at her. Not for the sex, but for the recording of the sex…

  192. @TomM:

    There is no obligation to hire “incompetent or unqualififed Slobbovians” or any quota of them, as you seem keen to insist. Indeed, demonstrating that a person is (actually) incompetent or unqualified is a very good answer to the question why you did not hire them.

    The problem with litigation in this country is that anybody can sue you for anything, no matter how illogical on the surface, and you have to spend time and money defending, because the courts take stupid shit way too seriously.

    For example:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,517334,00.html

    You may be right that there is no formal quota; otoh, how do you measure the effects of “a range of policies and programs to promote diversity among its workforce…”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gonzalez_v._Abercrombie_%26_Fitch_Stores

  193. >So the reason you want to be able to say that “blacks” are dumber than “whites” is that you prefer to hire “whites” and you think that saying this will minimize the litigation risk that your preference represents?

    Wrong way around. Rational employers want to hire smarter people regardless of skin color, but until the difference in mean IQs is understood and factored into employment law most practices that help them do this will leave them vulnerable to legal attack on a disparate-impact theory.

  194. @TomM

    Indeed, demonstrating that a person is (actually) incompetent or unqualified is a very good answer to the question why you did not hire them.

    But it’s not a binary question of whether a given applicant is qualified; it’s that some other applicant is more qualified, or perhaps that the given applicant is OVER qualified, and the person making the hiring decision believes they’ll keep looking for a better job while working this one, and quit as soon as they find it, which means we’ll be right back trying to fill it again.

    The factors that go into a hiring decision are subtle and often quite subjective, which makes proving that the reason you hired that other guy is NOT because he’s white/Christian/Jewish/Chinese/male/heterosexual/Anglophone is difficult. Proving a negative usually is.

  195. > So the reason you want to be able to say that “blacks” are dumber than “whites” is that you prefer to hire “whites” and you think that saying this will minimize the litigation risk that your preference represents?

    For me, I want to be able to make a free trade of MY money for labor from whomsoever I want, using whatever criteria I want. If I don’t want to hire you because you have an annoying squeaky voice or I think your teeth look ugly or because your have a bad case or rosacea or BO, what right does anyone have to tell me who I should give my money to or not?

    Personally, I’d like to choose people based on competence, but I think I have a right to choose people based on the color of their hair, the size of their ears, their ethnic origin, or whatever bits dangle between their legs. Because it is my freaking money, and none of your business how I spend it.

    Of course how tax payer money is spent is an entirely different matter, and the tentacles of public money reach disturbingly far into the economy.

  196. The latest online heresy: Edenism, also known as The New Antropology. It’s penetrating into the manosphere/freedom-porn/Game circles at a rapid clip but it’s still somewhat underground even in the underground.

    Main instigators are Koanic Soul, Texas Arcane/Cleve Blakemore/Vault-Co, Matt Forney, and a few others.

    Interesting stuff:

    http://www.koanicsoul.com/blog/reading-faces-the-eyes-are-the-windows-to-the-soul/

    http://excavatingeden.com/

    TLDR: humanity is actually three (four) species: cro-mags, neanderthals, melons (and a tiny clique of Starchildren). This has all kinds of sociopolitical ramifications according to the edenists.

    Koanic posts your articles to his Delicious feed, so you are on HIS radar.

  197. Patrick Maupin on Friday, April 12 2013 at 11:04 pm said:
    “The problem with litigation in this country is that anybody can sue you for anything, no matter how illogical on the surface, and you have to spend time and money defending, because the courts take stupid shit way too seriously.”

    Now, I agree that this is probably the main problem here.

    esr:
    “Rational employers want to hire smarter people regardless of skin color, but until the difference in mean IQs is understood and factored into employment law”

    It will hardly ever happen, and if it does, I suspect that your country is going to face civil-war sized riots.

    Reasoning about IQ when you actually try to consider and apprehend the complex of human intelligence, social and technical skills, instincts, etc. needed to function properly and efficiently in human societies is an infantile, simplistic way of tackling the problem. It’s the equivalent of a kid playing “Outrun” or any other driving video game, and thinking he’s better than his dad when it comes to driving a real car on real roads.

    @Jessica Boxer:
    “Because it is my freaking money, and none of your business how I spend it.”

    I guess it would be a proper libertarian point of view. I can relate to it to some extent, but it is actually other peoples’ business, too, how you spend your money on a market, in this case the job market. If noone hires the guy with bad teeth, it may even become a serious problem.

    There’s a thin line between over-rationalisation of simplistic figures like IQ and racialism. There’s also a thin line between what you advocate here and eugenics, I guess.

    Me not like this very much.

    Also, in France at least, where such laws exist (but, again, not racially-focused), I never saw any employer bitching about having to hire 1% of handicapped people, for instance. This is, obviously, mandatory only for medium-size businesses (I don’t remember the threshold here, but probably 100 employees; it would make sense) and public administrations. I had, during my military service, to work with a deaf secretary for a while. She worked the job better than most. And I learned something in the process, too.

    Obviously, when I used to run a bar, I wouldn’t have hired her. But noone could have forced me to. And I remember the more intelligent barman I had like a proper douchebag who almost forced my business into closing, by opening late hours, drinking while working, and so on. I’m pretty sure this guy had a better IQ than most of my other bartenders. So what?

  198. I don’t think I buy the premises of the theory that women should be demanding a higher price for sex. In the absence of uncontrollable STDs or pregnancy, why? It’s pleasant. People generally like it. People who do not particularly withhold sex or demand commitment in exchange for it still tend to form stable relationships when they can.

    Honestly, my explanation for the decline in marriage is that we have these multi-million dollar organizations trying to tell people that it’s nothing more than an animal husbandry permit. The only way they can oppose marriage equality is to pretend that everything that makes marriage actually rewarding is meaningless and irrelevant.

    I’d also point out: The same-sex case gives a useful perspective on that analysis. If the demand of commitment comes from women, why do men want to marry each other? I think the assumption that men are uninterested in committed relationships is unsupported. There might be a statistical bias, but there’s not a general principle here I’d feel comfortable placing weight on.

    To put it another way: We have a fridge magnet showing a woman with a drink and mussed hair, captioned “I used to think I was a slut, then I realized I was acting like a man.” One of the outcomes of a more equal and liberated society is that men and women tend to behave in the same ways. Fine by me.

  199. The most funny thing in this threat is that men are pretending to know what women really want.

    Comments from women are not really acknowledged it seems.

  200. Meh: hey, what the heck is this … wait, this is kinda fun actually. I can’t wait for the HBD crowd to get wind of this :-P

  201. It’s the new HBD. Probably won’t be mainstream for a few years. The future has a fortuitous distribution in these circles :)

  202. > esr on Wednesday, April 10 2013 at 8:37 pm said:
    >
    > >Most people who comment on this blog do it partly as a way of sort-of affiliating with Eric.
    >
    > This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.

    Perusing this thread, I was mildly surprised by just how (willfully?) misinformed some of the commenters are. I don’t mean the folks who merely *disagree*, I mean the ones who seem to hold beliefs clearly false to fact. If they crave your (ESR’s) attention, I might have thought they’d have the sense to read up on subjects that clearly interest you, their host. Since they didn’t, I guess they just came to argue? (I clearly don’t have a good model for their behavior.)

  203. Don Calvus on Thursday, April 11 2013 at 6:49 pm said:
    > So, yes, the question is: why is it important to say that people living in poor social conditions, mostly Black, achieve lower IQ scores *because they’re Black*, and not simply, which is most likely to be true, *because they’re living in poor conditions*?

    Because if group X’s problem is poor conditions, some evil kulaks must be responsible for those poor conditions, and if so, we need to liquidate the kulaks.

  204. seebs on Saturday, April 13 2013 at 11:15 am said:
    > I’d also point out: The same-sex case gives a useful perspective on that analysis. If the demand of commitment comes from women, why do men want to marry each other?

    To épater les bourgeois

    Recall the recent “marriage” where the “married” couple proceeded to adopt nine children, all of them, by an amazing coincidence, male. You can guess what happened next.

  205. James A. Donald on Saturday, April 13 2013 at 8:34 pm said:
    “Because if group X’s problem is poor conditions, some evil kulaks must be responsible for those poor conditions, and if so, we need to liquidate the kulaks.”

    I get it. You’re the comic relief. Now, when you quit playing these simplistic video games, maybe we can talk.

  206. TomM on Friday, April 12 2013 at 9:00 pm said:


    @ Rich Rostrom

    > No, his preference is for hiring competent, qualified people without regard to race or gender.

    I’m right there with you, brother. But then …

    Would you support the following rule?

    “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

    If so, you’re a racist. That’s the text added to Michigan’s constitution by “Proposal 2” in 2006. “Proposal 2” was denounced as “racist fraud” and “Jim Crow” by opponents, who included the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, every black politician in Michigan, Al Sharpton, and the rest of the usual suspects.

    The same text was added to California’s constitution by “Prop 209” in 1996. I can find any number of descriptions of it as racist, too.


    > This includes not hiring incompetent or unqualified Slobbovians, when the proportion of Slobbovians in the applicant pool or general population exceeds the proportion of Slobbovians among qualified applicants.

    you undo yourself with tortured doublespeak.

    There is no obligation to hire “incompetent or unqualififed Slobbovians” or any quota of them, as you seem keen to insist.

    Tecbnically, no. But if an employer doesn’t hire the expected quota of Slobbovians, any rejected Slobbovian applicant can take the employer to the EEOC and require the employer to prove that the applicant is in fact unqualified and that the qualification not met is absolutely necessary to performing the job. Which proceeding is quite costly.


    Indeed, demonstrating that a person is (actually) incompetent or unqualified is a very good answer to the question why you did not hire them.

    Sure. But why should the employer be required to prove it to a third party?

    However, saying that someone is a member of the group “Slobbovian”, and Slobbovians are generally known to be generally incompetent or unqualified (“just look – here’s a blog post which says so!”) is a very poor answer to the question of why you did not hire them.

    You keep trying to turn this into a case of decisions being made by prejudice. Which it isn’;t, though it seems you want it to be.


    I don’t disagree that the expense and incovenience of defending spurious allegations of unlawful discrimination should be minimised…

    It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The process is the punishment.


    I think those issues are best addressed by having sensible people making sensible decisions about which cases are appropriate to prosecute.

    Meanwhile, back in the real world, any rejected applicant may bring a complaint, which complaint must be heard. There is no agency which decides “which cases are appropriate to prosecute.” (Which is actually a good thing. Such an agency could easily be captured by a dominant group and then ignore all complaints by other groups.) There are hundreds of attorneys who specialize in bringing such complaints.

    It’s a very lucrative field. Why? Because any plaintiff whose complaint is upheld gets an award of attorney’s fees, paid by the defendant. See

    http://www.eeoc.gov/federal/directives/md110/chapter11.html

    Successful defendants get nothing.

    To be sure, the EEOC will reject really obvious bogus complaints, and the lawyers know this and won’t take them. But the system is clearly weighted toward the plaintiff. The result is that when marginal or slightly submarginal candidates from favored groups apply, employers can’t just reject them in favor of better qualified applicants. That risks a costly EEOC proceeding and even more costly adverste judgement. They must either concoct additional requirements to exclude such applicants, or else hire some of them anyway and hope for the best.

    Incidentally, there are similar effects on firing decisions – which leads to the perverse result of the employer avoiding any favored-group applicant who isn’t a sure thing – because if the applicant doesn’t work out, firing the person could be difficult to impossible.

  207. esr on Friday, April 12 2013 at 11:48 pm said:
    Rational employers want to hire smarter people regardless of skin color, but until the difference in mean IQs is understood and factored into employment law most practices that help them do this will leave them vulnerable to legal attack on a disparate-impact theory.

    That’s not even necessary. All that is required is to place the burden of proof on claims that a qualification with disparate impact is unnecessary and intended to discriminate.

    Proving such a claim against a common-sense qualification that is basically intelligence-driven would be extremely difficult, and thus eliminate bogus claims.

  208. “I get it. You’re the comic relief. Now, when you quit playing these simplistic video games, maybe we can talk.”

    Lol U Mad?

  209. @seebs:
    “””
    I’d also point out: The same-sex case gives a useful perspective on that analysis. If the demand of commitment comes from women, why do men want to marry each other?
    “””

    You’re presuming that “commitment” is part and parcel of modern marriage. Between no-fault divorces and open marriages I would suggest that that is NOT necessarily a reasonable assumption.

  210. Don Calvus on Saturday, April 13 2013 at 10:45 am said:
    > It will hardly ever happen, and if it does, I suspect that your country is going to face civil-war sized riots.

    Blacks are incapable of rioting effectively except, as in the Detroit riots, when protected by the police and national guard. When, as in the Rodney King riots, they attacked non black areas without police protection, they got dealt with swiftly. In the aftermath of Katrina, they sometimes had police protection, sometimes did not. Where they did not, not a problem except for small scale and individual violence.

    Black riots used to be the astroturf of the official left. These days, having found blacks troublingly unreliable, they attempt to deploy the lily white Occupy crowd, which also proved ineffectual. When strangely, a thousand police could not control five hundred Occupiers, five rentacops could easily do so.

    Blacks can do individual violence and small group violence, including highly effectual flash mobs, but above a certain size, not effectual. Whites can do large group violence better, and in practice do do it better, even though it is highly illegal and officially white people never do it, since that would be white nationalism and the Klu Klux Klan.

    I am not sure why our masters are backing off from using black astroturf these days. Perhaps blacks are not taking orders from white leftists so well any more, or perhaps the supply of white guilt is in danger of being exhausted.

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  213. @BobW
    “I was under the impression that everything in the USA was crap.
    Just ask Winter.”

    Actually, I was just repeating the words of other people (on this very blog) living in the USA.

    My view of the USA is from three sources:
    1 Personal experience, which tells me the USA is a nice country populated by nice and reasonable people. Some areas, though, look rather dilapidated and did not feel comfortable to stay in.

    2 Official USA media, which tell me the country is in shambles driving off a cliff

    3 Comments on blogs, like this one, where citizens of the USA tell me their country is in ruins, governed by an evil, dictatorial regime, and on the verge of a civil war

    Now, I have never lived or worked in the USA, never been in a US court, nor in a US school. So, when people from the USA on this and every other blog mentioning the subject tell me US institutions are in shambles, why should I doubt it? The same with race relations.

  214. @Rick Rostrom

    That’s not even necessary. All that is required is to place the burden of proof on claims that a qualification with disparate impact is unnecessary and intended to discriminate.

    Proving such a claim against a common-sense qualification that is basically intelligence-driven would be extremely difficult, and thus eliminate bogus claims.

    It is expensive and time consuming to defend against a lawsuit, even if you win.

    There is no downside for the plaintif. They are in the civil rights advocacy business. Each lawsuit generates donations, maybe especially if they lose.

  215. @Winter

    We Americans are willing to criticize our country and our culture. It’s part of the self-correction mechanism that has worked well until recently.

    We’re also rather noisy in the media and on the internet. We’re big, so you tend to notice us. I’m sure it’s annoying at times. There’s no fixing it until the rest of the world catches up. I see signs of that. My daughter rather likes K-pop.

    The USA has a scale problem. In the beginning it was a time and distance problem. Now we’ve added population size and diversity. Not everyone lives under the same conditions and wants the same things.

    The Founders tried to deal with it by leaving most matters to the states. Most of our states are about the size of most European countries. Our federal system makes it relatively easy to move away from a disfunctional state. California is losing its middle class to other states, because the tax burden and cost of living are so high, and jobs for them are relatively scarce. High paid high tech barely notices even though they share apartments with six roomates.

    This all breaks down when matters are pushed up to the federal level.

    Some trace the federalization trend all the way back to President Woodrow Wilson. I say it was well under way when Theodore Rooseveldt was President.

    I suggest that Europe would be smart not to integrate any further. The Euro may have been a mistake. You don’t want EU bureaucrats making one-size-fits-all policy for everyone.

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  217. Winter on Monday, April 15 2013 at 3:06 am said:
    > 2 Official USA media, which tell me the country is in shambles driving off a cliff
    >
    > 3 Comments on blogs, like this one, where citizens of the USA tell me their country is in ruins, governed by an evil, dictatorial regime, and on the verge of a civil war

    And if we had as many hot burglaries, and areas off limits to the regular police, as you do, we would really be complaining.

    Consider your Gypsy problem. Official truth is that there is no problem, and none of you can say otherwise.

  218. There are other qualities besides IQ. Take me for an example. My SAT score from 1967 would easily get me into Mensa, but I haven’t done well in life, having the slacker nature. As my high-school Latin teacher said to me, “You are the laziest White boy in Dade County!”

  219. @Jim: “Whites can do large group violence better…” Yup, and that is the curse on our race, especially in the Twentieth Century when we got together in large groups with lots of deadly weapons and killed each other enthusiastically.

  220. >There are other qualities besides IQ.

    Sure there are. I’m an example in the opposite direction – my impact on the world has been greater than that of most people at or near my IQ level, because while many of them found comfortable but obscure niches in science or academia I went out and repeatedly kicked the world in the slats until it changed.

    The race is not always to the swift, the struggle not always to the strong, and the contest of ideas is not always won by the guy with the highest Spearman’s g. However, that is the way any prudent person will bet unless he wants to lose. When all other factors are accounted for, actual observation of outcomes (not mere theorizing) tells us that IQ is pretty potent.

  221. “Jaynes observed that Bronze Age literary sources take for granted the routine presence of god-voices in peoples’ heads. Instead of dismissing this as fantasy, he developed a theory that until around 1000BC it really was like that…”

    Among the practicing Christians and Buddhists I know, it still is really like that — of the ~20 religious people I’ve known well, at least 3 of them have heard god-voices or similar. Nobody in these circles considers such experiences especially surprising, though they’re not a daily occurrence or anything.

    However, current pop culture seems to maintain that only *crazy* people hear voices, so folks aren’t always willing to talk about it in mixed company.

    I’m curious for @esr’s take on this as a latter-day pagan (and as someone who’s actually read Jaynes’s book, which I haven’t).

  222. >I’m curious for @esr’s take on this as a latter-day pagan (and as someone who’s actually read Jaynes’s book, which I haven’t).

    One difference is that among modern-day people actual god-voices are rare and (except in psychotics) generally not obeyed without reflection. Another is that they’re now usually heard in settings which involve ritual induction of an altered, non-ordinary state of consciousness. Jaynes’s theory is that before the rise of narratizing unitary consciousness, the god-voices were a constant feature of everyday life.

    My experiences as a neopagan have not involved hearing god-voices in my head. I could probably induce that if I wanted to, but the mode of invocation we normally use is more like ecstatic communion with the chosen god-form – not speaking to the invoker but through the invoker.

  223. > Jaynes’s theory is that before the rise of narratizing unitary consciousness, the god-voices were a constant feature of everyday life.

    Ah, okay. That’s an interesting thought.

    > they’re now usually heard in setting which involve ritual induction of an altered, non-ordinary state of consciousness.

    FWIW, the three cases I mentioned were actually all intrusions into everyday life. They do seem to be connected to having some kind of regular meditative practice, though.

  224. Dan C on Friday, April 19 2013 at 9:34 pm said:
    > Among the practicing Christians and Buddhists I know, it still is really like that — of the ~20 religious people I’ve known well, at least 3 of them have heard god-voices or similar.

    And of the other ~17, ~12 are concealing the truth.

    The holy ghost is pretty much defined as the god voice, and most Christians hear the holy ghost (Which tends to sound remarkably like one’s father. Assuming your father was reasonably decent and sane, this is seldom a problem)

  225. > And of the other ~17, ~12 are concealing the truth.

    > The holy ghost is pretty much defined as the god voice, and most Christians hear the holy ghost (Which tends to sound remarkably like one’s father. Assuming your father was reasonably decent and sane, this is seldom a problem)

    Interesting. That doesn’t square with what I’ve heard from the ones I know, but perhaps you and I mean different things by “god voice”?

    What I meant was a full-on auditory hallucination, as if an actual invisible person is somewhere nearby and speaking to you. (One of my 3 cases was a vision, but I think similarly vivid). I expect at least a few people have had those and not felt the need to tell me, but 15/20 seems high.

    I only remember one Christian telling me about “hearing” the Holy Spirit specifically, and for her it seemed to be more like an intuitive feeling than a voice of any kind.

    But I’ve obviously met a tiny fraction of the world’s Christians, so if you can suggest any further reading about holy ghost voices, I’d be much obliged…

  226. > > And of the other ~17, ~12 are concealing the truth.
    > >
    > > The holy ghost is pretty much defined as the god voice, and most Christians hear the holy ghost (Which tends to sound remarkably like one’s father. Assuming your father was reasonably decent and sane, this is seldom a problem)

    Dan C on Sunday, April 21 2013 at 10:28 pm said:
    > What I meant was a full-on auditory hallucination, as if an actual invisible person is somewhere nearby and speaking to you.

    That is considerably less common.

  227. @Jeff Read: The Arabs’ cousins, the Hebrews, seemed to have devised a way of taming this problem — by genitally mutilating their men. While it’s disingenuous to say that Jewish laws on sexuality are not crazy, they don’t seem nearly as crazy as the extremes to which the Muslims have gone.

    This might make some sense if it addressed in any way the problem you claim it does, the sexual urges of men. Not only does it not do that, but if anything, the reputation of the Jewish male is on the randy side. And its not even clear that circumcision even reduces sexual pleasure for males, especially if it takes place during infanthood.

    It seems far more likely that circumcision could have been chosen for either or both of two reasons: 1) an obvious physiological marker that can be easily checked, yet tribal impostors and outsiders would find difficult and uncomfortable to try to emulate later in life (this makes sense if you realize that the Hebrews were more nomadic at first, and may not be expected to actually know if someone else is a Hebrew by having necessarily grown up together), and 2) benefits in terms of hygiene and reduction of disease spreading.

    Incidentally, traditional Judaism is also very strong in defending a woman’s reproductive rights, and not only must a man give his wife enough sex, but he must get her permission to change his occupation if that would be expected to reduce her supply of sex. Not getting enough sex is considered automatic grounds for a Get (divorce) from a husband, and he is publicly shamed for not having fulfilled his duty.

  228. @Jessica Boxer: BTW, talking about outrage in respect to sex, have you guys seen the news about that poor chick in Maine who is being publicly humiliated for the dreadful crime of providing sexual services in exchange for money?

    I cannot justify -any- State action to enforce personal morality, which is to say, any activity that does not endanger, defraud, or steal from others strikes me as no one else’s business.

    I agree that it is hypocritical to go after the prostitute and not the Johns.. but really, we should go after neither, I think.

  229. @esr This is probably true, and the odds that it is true rise with frequency of commenting.

    That could be true. Another part, though, that cannot be denied is that you have created a forum where people can intelligently debate a wide variety of topics and actually feel the need to defend and explain their positions instead of simply call each other morons, degenerates, etc. Sometimes these discussions seem to take a life of their own. So you have managed to create a space here with more value than you, yourself, have had to put in. And that is as high a compliment as any.

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