Godless Capitalist thinks Barack Obama will suppress genetic research into human biodiversity and human differences. Greg Cochran disagrees. First off, Godless says John McCain will allow more research into genetic differences.
Half Sigma is way off on this one. I don't want to diss him too hard because the h-bd realist blogosphere isn't big enough for internecine warfare, but come on now...Palin is the most libertarian candidate to run since the Reagan administration.
A candidate like Palin is only available because Alaska is a frontier region which has somewhat escaped the tender ministrations of the diversicrats in the lower 48.
1) First, the guys who think "worse is better" are morons. Rhodesia and South Africa prove that "worse is worse". The left can take a country all the way to the grave by controlling the media. A rightist backlash is NOT assured.
2) Second, from an h-bd realist perspective we're fighting to hold territory, not to take it. We just need to hold off the left till genomics can come through. We're going to be knocking off sacred cow after sacred cow in the next decade or so. "Race is a social construction" has now been completely dynamited by the genomic maps of Europe, the Hapmap, and all the related papers -- and that only took about 6 years time. Any knowledgeable person can now fillet an unreconstructed Lewontinite by just linking half a dozen recent vintage papers, and there will be literally hundreds by the time the decade is up.
Moreover, it's only a matter of time before the IQ/genomics correlations come down the pike, and that will change everything. But under Obama, there is a very serious risk that work on the genomics/race/IQ nexus will be outlawed or banned. Marcus Feldman and his rapid response teams are only the beginning of this...there are a lot more mutterings going on than have been made public, and left creationists will be ascendant as never before in an Obama administration. There is plenty of precedent: just look at how research into nuclear power, physical anthropology, and genetically modified plants have been brought to a shuddering halt in Europe (and slowed in the US).
It doesn't have to be an overt "ban", of course -- it can just be a series of obstacles to getting any funding for such "racist" studies. It's already well nigh impossible to study genetics, IQ, and race directly given IRB issues...all they'd need to do is apply even stricter scrutiny to the various loopholes that savvy scientists have been exploiting (e.g. Alzheimer's).
By contrast, 8 years of "hold" under a Palin administration will buy us the time we need. And it will be a "Palin administration", in that McCain will see that his popularity depends on his VP. I think amnesty is a *lot* less likely if Sarah has something to say about it.
Anyway -- all the rest regarding the ostensible "prole" nature of solidly middle class Palin is basically bullshit. I mean, for real? Does everyone forget that Obama is an agitator for the underclass, a longtime drug user born to an airheaded teenage mother, the son of an African polygamist and a member of a barbaric church? Obama is beloved by both Yale *and* Jail, and is an apologist for criminal vermin like the Jena Six. Palin is an advocate for the taxpayers. That's the difference between them.
So GC sees a McCain-Palin presidency as less bad than an Obama-Biden presidency. I have to say: I do not know. I can trot out major negatives about each ticket. Presidents once in office can do far more damage than we can foresee in advance. The best we can hope for is an ineffectual president. The downside risks are bigger than the upside potential.
Greg Cochran thinks genetic research into human biodiversity isn't suppressible because the cost of DNA testing has gotten so cheap that the US government suppression won't stop it. I agree on the cheapness. It is going to get orders of magnitude cheaper still.
I've thought about this question for ten years or so, and of course I've had more direct experience with the reaction to this kind of work than - well, anyone.
And I have to conclude that you're an utter loon. First, the idea that there is some difference in the way that the two political parties would react to controversial research results in this area is simply false. Mostly they won't react at all because they're not even interested. Second, the idea that we'll see draconian regulation of genetic data is highly unlikely: researchers will _not_ like it, independent generation of such data is going to be trivially cheap, and the scheme only works if the US conquers the world.
Worse than that - it'd make us fall behind in the great gene race with China. Darpa sure wouldn't like that.
Next, you seem to think that understanding the genetic roots of phenotypic differences between population groups will have dramatic effects - in particular, undermine people's core political beliefs - if allowed to. But in fact it will have minuscule effect. Genotypes are not more convincing than phenotypes, which we see every day. More to the point, you can't shift such strongly held, emotionally held beliefs with anything less than dynamite. And I don't mean _rhetorical_ dynamite.
Read more history.
I happen to think that the evidence from genetics is going to shift enough people's beliefs that many currently taboo subjects will reenter mainstream discourse. For defenders of the status quo genetic evidence represents a threat. The current foolish elite conventional wisdom about human nature (e.g. that all can be raised up to college level of intellectual performance) helps to justify educational policies that inevitably fail. The defenders of those policies do not want to defend their policies against detailed genetic evidence that some people really are dumb. So they do not want to see detailed mechanisms that explain why the dumb are dumb reaching the pages of scientific journals.
While the genetic evidence isn't going to shake the faith of most hard core Lefties it will embolden a lot of people who are currently fearful to speak their beliefs. The balance of forces in political battle will shift against the educational bureaucrats who argue that all can become college material, against the defenders of racial preferences, against redistributionists who argue that economic inequality is primarily the result of unfairness by capitalists.
Now, educational bureaucrats will continue to fight for more money. They'll just use different arguments. For example, they'll argue that training the less intellectually able with useful job skills requires a lot ratio of teachers to students and lots of intensive teaching. Redistributionists will argue that while intellect and hard work are responsible for part of inequality some inequality will be due to unfairness. Politicians will still campaign with Robin Hood arguments for the masses. But the Left will not win quite as many political struggles. Obama wants to win struggles for the Left. So he's not keen to see the Left weakened by the results of scientific research.
Cheap DNA testing by itself doesn't get us the identification of genetic variations that influence intelligence and personality. We need large scale comparisons of people for many different cognitive measures and lifetime behaviors correlated with DNA testing results. This requires collection of large amounts of social science data. The work probably won't get funded much in the US - unless some rich people pony up the money. But I'm hopeful that countries with less racially diverse populations will fund the research and we'll learn which genetic variations cause which differences in cognitive function.
Suppose Godless's worry about Obama is correct. The research will still get done more slowly elsewhere. But we have to keep in mind other considerations when selecting a President. One of my worries for a McCain Administration is that he could become demented while in office. He might not be willing to admit it to himself. His decision making could become even more erratic than his temperament and shallowness already makes it.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 September 21 01:52 PM Politics Human Nature|