Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heating up the ethnic-cultural comedy

Now that we've got a black president, people are feeling more empowered to make comedy not about empowerment, but about mocking stupidity. In this case, it's trans-racial appropriation of a grotesque caricature of that moronic subculture that imitates the music and lifestyle made by black people and predominantly consumed by bored suburban youth: gangsta rap.


There is a huge population of people trying to make themselves look like gangsters and thugs while talking in fabricated words and taking shirtless pictures of themselves in their bathrooms with camera phones. Fat 19-year-old's with half a dozen children that they dress up like dolls keep trying to talk to me as if I think they are human beings. I've decided to go undercover and infiltrate their community by acting as one of their own. Here are the results of my experiment...

http://www.holladaddy.com/


Most of those ensnared are black, but not all. He's an equal opportunity stupidity identifier. Look for this meme to catch on as people stop tolerating stupidity because it appears under the guise of racial empowerment.

And also from the "Let's all be equal" comedy files:


A drug that stimulates the body's tanning response — turning pasty skin caramel for up to two months — has been approved for human trials, but not for tanning.

"It's a bioabsorbable implant that you just inject into the skin," said Colin Mackie, director of business development for Clinuvel, the company bringing the drug to the U.S. "It stimulates melanin production."

Melanin is the body's natural pigment. It's responsible for the color of skin and protects humans from harmful solar radiation.

Wired


Reminds me of the time Oliver Wendell Holmes turned Steve Dallas "black" with his melanin ray.

Modernism (personal reality) kills


On the eve of a BBC1 documentary on the life of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution, Sir David has criticised the centuries-old idea running through the Judaeo-Christian tradition which assumes God gave the Earth to man to exploit and use in whatever way he saw fit in order to populate the world.

Sir David, 82, said the devastation of the environment has its roots in the first words that God supposedly uttered to humankind, as detailed in Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

"That basic notion, that the world is there for us and if it doesn't actually serve our purposes, it's dispensable, that has produced the devastation of vast areas of the land's surface.

"Of course it's a gross oversimplification, but that's why Darwinism, and the fact of evolution, is of great importance because it is that attitude which has led to the devastation of so much, and we are in the situation that we are in," he told the science journal Nature.

Independent


Just like a scientist: identify the hammer, not the hand that swings it!

The problem is the idea of a personal reality. I am human, therefore I gain the right to believe in my own reality and judge earth accordingly.

From that comes: we're all equal, because I'd hate to admit someone has better judgment skills than I do.

That in turn unravels into "no one can tell me what to do," and because that's bratty, it becomes "I am oppressed by the law / the money / the Gods."

And so we have a huge mass of people united only by "I only wanna do what I wanna do."


France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment figure rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce. New figures from the biggest bank in the Baltic show that the three post-Soviet states there face the biggest recessions in Europe.

It's a snapshot of a single day – yesterday – in a Europe sinking into the bleakest of times. But while the outlook may be dark in the big wealthy democracies of western Europe, it is in the young, poor, vulnerable states of central and eastern Europe that the trauma of crash, slump and meltdown looks graver.

Exactly 20 years ago, in serial revolutionary rejoicing, they ditched communism to put their faith in a capitalism now in crisis and by which they feel betrayed.

The Guardian


Ah, idiots. So resourceful in always finding someone to blame, thus obscuring reality.

They ditched 1968-style socialism in the 1980s because it was convenient.

Now they want to ditch capitalism for 1968-version-2.0-cum-Obama socialism, and are hoping that's the magic bullet.

All these buttons, just gotta press the right one!

Maybe look at the whole of society for a change, and identify where it's gone off course? Well, that brings us to the troubling realization that we're not all kings in our own domain... but it would save us... but it offends us personally, so it's taboo.

More than one society has died of its own taboos.


"Sarkozy gives money to the people who created this crisis, but what about the man in the street?" shouted Antoine Laurent, 20, a history student at the Sorbonne University.

Behind him a group chanted: "Stop the sackings, it's not up to workers to pay for bankers."

The Telegraph


No, dummies... it's not that easy.

You need to build infrastructure.

You're looking at a barren farm and saying "But the farmer got fed!"... yes, because if you're a farmer and you produce 20% of what crop you normally have, you better eat it, because no one else is going to give you anything.

These entitlement brats think we can just hand out cash and there are no consequences. Durrr, that cash has to come from somewhere -- if we just hand it out, we devalue it and so your $500 handout becomes $5 in the "old money." (We saw that happen in Mexico in the 1980s, remember?)

World leaders are in retreat as well. Sarkozy will do nothing radical because we all saw what happened to George W. Bush. Even if what you do is not that bad, the media and the great masses of clueless will fawn and howl and whine and riot until you're out of office, replaced by a panderer.

Behind the plastic smile of Barack Obama, for example, there's a simple Bill Clintonian truth: figure out what the polls say, and give it to them -- the undifferentiated masses -- because you never stay in power by supporting those with a clue.

You stay in power by supporting those who are clueless, and so demand a lot, and you can give it to them and not tell them it's going to be worth $5 tomorrow.

You stay in power, and the economy slowly collapses inward, and the next guy in office needs to deal with it.

But you? You've made the right decision, personally: you got your $25 million career and you can now afford to join the ultra-rich and leave behind your shattered homeland as it careens into third-world status.

Watch the USA and Europe do it.

What's more fascinating is the people who aren't rioting. The engineers at home designing breakaway civilizations. The country folk building hamlets. The hackers conspiring toward a technological new world order that could hide itself in the midst of the decay.

That's tomorrow's story. The fall of the West is yesterday's, in case you don't get the T.S. Eliot News and World Report.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Conservation is racist because it protects species from interbreeding


There is no justification for conservationists to defend particular species because of their “ethnicity”, Professor Christopher Smout writes in a new book, Exploring Environmental History.

Campaigns against “alien invaders”—such as the cull of American ruddy ducks to prevent them from breeding with European duck species—have no basis in science, he argues.

“Conservationists are up in arms because they fear the ducks will all get turned into some kind of mishmash,” he told The Independent.

“The conservationists would say: ‘We’re doing this because it’s endangering the genetic integrity of the white-headed duck.”

“I don’t think that’s a scientifically valid point of view. The concern with genetic integrity seems almost quasi-racist. Our attitude to alien species is culturally determined and sometimes you end up with rather bizarre actions by scientists.”

He added that interbreeding between species could often bring evolutionary benefits, and dismissed fears that the genetic identity of red deer in Scotland is threatened by silka deer, which were brought to the UK from Asia in 1860.

The Telegraph


Convenient of this professor to compile every cliche opposing defense of ethnic-cultural self-preservation into a single article. Well done!

Conservationists realize that each race of each species has adapted over thousands of years to its unique environment, and each race has its own genetic log of these adaptations. If it is suddenly convenient for new species to show up, we are not seeing proof of their adaptation to this environment in the long-term, only a shorter-term aggression.

So to mix the two is not only to reverse evolution and destroy natural selection, but to weaken the species for the future. Like all modern solutions, it's short sighted and outward-directed, not clear on differentiating between our impulses and how our world works.

Remember that race isn't genetic according to corporate barons and hippie activists alike

Your last three presidents think race isn't genetic.

Every single person in Hollywood thinks race isn't genetic.

All of the hippie activists think race isn't genetic.

Every American and multi-national corporation has adopted the position: race isn't genetic.

It flatters everyone to think we can all be whatever we want to be. Social mobility. If your grandparents were peasants, maybe you can be President. Hope, Change, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Liberty, Fraternity!

We also like to get ahead in social status by telling everyone they can be anything, and by helping those who cannot help themselves. These ineffective and inexpensive actions make us look good, even if we have to lie to do it.


African-American men with family histories of prostate cancer could benefit from a baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) reading to determine their probability of developing the disease.

The effect of the baseline PSA level on future prostate cancer risk was so robust that the correlation held true even for men with other significant risk factors.

Using a study cohort drawn from a longitudinal screening study enrolling more than 26,000 volunteers between 1991 and 2001, researchers analyzed a group of 329 African-American men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Eight percent of men in their 40s with both risk factors and a PSA above the median were diagnosed, as were 16 percent of men in their 50s. Twice as many men in their 60s with both risk factors and a baseline PSA above the median were diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Science Daily


Medical science treats all of these factors as important: race, age, PSA and risk-factors. African-Americans have more, different, and more pernicious cancers than white people.

At some point, we will grow up as a species and admit that evolution happened, and different groups going into different types of civilizations in different climates permitted genetic change -- or genetic adaptation. Africans, for example, are the most diverse; white people are the least diverse. But the specialized groups have genes adapted to deal with certain circumstances they encountered.

Our wise cohorts think that genetic engineering will be the future. But GM foods have worked so badly we're rethinking that. Race, like age and gender and other factors, is part of reality, and denying reality always ends badly.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why humanity is unable to respond to global warming and ecocide

We, the People, are about to exterminate multiple ecosystems on our planet and kill all things within them. In addition, we are about to raise our planet's temperature and cause other grisly effects. So say many but not all of our best scientists.

Yet nothing is happening. I mean, besides buying fluorescent light bulbs. Why? Do people not care? Do people want to do evil? Are we really this bad?

Think it through:

To act, we have to act together. If just some of us act, the others will take advantage of that and make themselves more powerful at the expense of those. This means that we have to force all of us together to do the same things.

Even more, we're divided by inequality, despite two thousand years of trying to eradicate it. Third world nations want the first world to take the brunt of this issue. First world nations point out that they have infrastructure obligations and aren't going to back down from civilization so others can get ahead.

Finally, we have to all somewhat agree on the issue, and we don't. Some scientists say that global warming is real, yet we can all recognize the kind of cliques that can form when an idea is trendy.

Many of us distrust the media and government, including people like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton who always pander to the crowd, doing exactly what is popular but not necessarily what's best in the long term.

Did that last sentence offend you? I was just about to mention how politically divided we are, forming our identities from politics and uncritically believed one side or the other.

We just can't get consensus on how we should act about global warming as a result of these factors.


The pioneering study, led by NOAA senior scientist Susan Solomon, shows how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are completely stopped.

The study examines the consequences of allowing CO2 to build up to several different peak levels beyond present-day concentrations of 385 parts per million and then completely halting the emissions after the peak. The authors found that the scientific evidence is strong enough to quantify some irreversible climate impacts, including rainfall changes in certain key regions, and global sea level rise.

NOAA


(My take on the above article: we're about to run into expensive petroleum, which is a good thing. In fact, it would be best if some nation like the USA took over a major part of the supply and hoarded it for military purposes. That would fix our global warming dilemma by not letting us get over the threshold identified in the article.)

Therefore, my prediction:

Humanity will take no effective action against environmental change, climate change, or ecocide. And we'd all rather be right, by our own political identities, than fix the problem -- at least we all go down together, equally.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We're all equal, and if not, we'll punish those more equal until they're equal like the rest of us


The coach of a Texas high school basketball team that beat another team 100-0 was fired Sunday, the same day he sent an e-mail to a newspaper saying he will not apologize "for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity."

On its Web site last week, the Covenant School of Dallas, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition," said the statement, signed by Kyle Queal, head of school, and board chair Todd Doshier.

"In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed," Grimes wrote in the e-mail, according to the newspaper. "We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity."

ESPN


We like to pander to the crowd with little fictions. When we cannot maintain those fictions, we get upset and blame someone, so that the rest of us can continue evading responsibility and living with an ethic of convenience.

That's clearly not the way to a superior society, but if you say that, you're a bigot and need to burn in hell and/or be fired, whichever comes first, you fascist.

Bush won


OSAMA BIN LADEN’S messages from the wilderness get little attention nowadays. Al-Qaeda has been unable to land a blow on Western soil since the 2005 London bombings. Its leaders lurk in Pakistan’s tribal belt, hiding from regular lethal attacks by America’s unmanned Predator aircraft. Their Pushtun hosts are tiring of their troublesome guests. Perhaps most damaging, former supporters publicly denounce its ideology.

The resultant bickering and low morale do not mean that al-Qaeda and its followers cannot still mount spectacular attacks. Western intelligence services are convinced the group tried to blow up several transatlantic airliners in 2006. It can still pose a menace in, say, parts of Asia. But for now, Mr bin Laden has to try to exploit the news, rather than to make it.

The Economist


Bush's plan for al-Qaeda wasn't much different than Reagan's plan for the Soviets: since war is basically a case of who can outspend the other, why not use the threat of war as a weapon to force your enemy into outspending themselves?

Al-Qaeda could afford to run an organization when they didn't need to hide every single detail of what they did. Now, they must have layers of additional protocol, and carefully hide their funds. All this adds up to a lot of money, and now they're broke and ineffective.

History will probably eventually note that G.W. Bush did this to them. Even while 78% of the American people whine like sofa-bound brats about him, he achieved what he set out to do: defeat the enemy and protect the homeland. Whether he did it for Jesus, alcoholics anonymous, or the goodness of his heart is probably irrelevant.

We all want to be with people like us

The big human fiction: we can all be whatever we want, at any time, because we're all important if we're socially important.

The reality: our abilities determine what we're going to be.

The controversy:


A holiday firm which emailed its customers offering 'chav free' vacations has found itself accused of class discrimination.

Activities Abroad contacted 24,000 customers with a list of names they were not likely to encounter on one of their holidays, including Britney, Dazza, Chardonnay and Candice.

In the email newsletter, headed Chav Free Activity Holidays, [Founder Alistair McLean] wrote: 'According to the Daily Mail, children with middle-class names such as Duncan and Catherine are eight times more likely to pass their GCSEs than children with names such as Wayne and Dwayne.

Stung into replying, Mr McLean launched an impassioned defence of his original email, writing: 'I simply feel it is time the middle classes stood up for themselves. We work hard to make a decent home and life for our families and we pay our taxes to contribute to our society and economy.'

'Unfortunately, everybody else in our society seems to take from us, whether it is incompetent bankers or the shell suited urchins who haunt our street corners.

The Daily Mail


If you work hard, think hard, take what you do seriously, you do not want to take a vacation alongside people who resentfully follow orders, are sloppy, and live lives of half-work and half-thought. You view these people as idiots, but not pejoratively, only that the reward of your work should include not being near them.

They, on the other hand, see no reason why they shouldn't have what you should have. And this issue has divided the West for centuries and now is destroying it: the we-should-all-have-it individualist have-nots, who have no idea that someone has to actually create wealth, and then the people who are trying to escape the morass of dysfunction made by the have-nots.


The targets for ‘abolishing child poverty’ do not aim to bring real light and rescue into these nightmare lives. They just aim to ‘close the gap’ between them and the remaining working households, the hated ‘middle class’.

It only makes sense when you grasp that the target is the difference in income between the neglected classes and the striving classes. It is nothing to do with the truly rich, for many New Labour backers are very rich themselves, and in any case, they will simply go elsewhere if they are robbed by the state.

The middle classes are not good because they are better off. They are better off because they are good. This is the fundamental truth that socialism has always hated.

For socialists believe that they alone are good, that their ideas alone are good. This leads on to the next stage – their belief that they alone should control the state, that they should decide what is good for us, and how we should be rewarded – and in the end that those who disagree with them are dangerous and should be silenced.

Peter Hitchens


Hitchens says it well: socialism is well-named, because it is when a group of people get together and using social logic of flattering each other, decide they're all entitled to whatever others have. Further, they argue, since they discovered this Christlike new Truth and Progress, they alone have the right to rule.

In France and in Russia, they left ruined societies behind them. In the third world, like Brazil or Venezuela, they specialize in driving out smart people and replacing them with teeming masses who are not only incompetent but hate anyone who is.

Police states exist when large groups of people exist who cannot control themselves. Since we can't acknowledge that some people can control themselves, and we need more people like this, we invent equal draconian rules to keep people in line since they do not have the common sense to do it themselves in all cases.

We should just grow up and get over this problem. Some are gifted by nature; they are the future of evolution. Others are not, and should not be supported. Let natural selection make better people. We need people who do not need to be controlled.

Thailand gets rid of parasites

Summary: Myanmar sets loose members of a minority sect, sends them to Thailand. Thailand says "Hmm, parasites," and drags them out to see and cuts them loose.


A CNN crew traveled to a remote stretch of the Thai coast four hours north of the tourist island of Phuket to investigate the growing reports that the Thai military was secretly detaining Rohingya refugees before towing them out to sea and setting them adrift.

One photo shows the Thai army towing a boatload of some 190 refugees far out to sea.

The Rohingya, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, have been fleeing their country in rickety boats for years, in search of a better life.

[A source in the Thai military] claimed local villagers had become afraid of the hundreds of Rohingya arriving each month, and that they were accusing the refugees of stealing their property and threatening them.

CNN


The same story everywhere:

People become refugees for a reason.

They then become parasites when they reach a new nation whose population is different than they are.

If we are to be penalized for excluding others for their differentness, who will speak up for us when immigrants exclude us because of our differentness, and refuse to assimilate?

The answer is that assimilation and integration never work, as is shown by the total lack of historical examples of successful multicultural ("diverse") societies.

Prison labor makes a comeback


But this farming town of 1,500 wants its criminal element to stick around. Town leaders say they don't know what they will do without the free or ultra-cheap labor the jailbirds provide. "Oh my goodness, gracious, they are such an asset -- they are our public-works department," said Ms. Hall.

Last year, Charleston's prisoners did 39,337 hours of community work, prison officials say, roughly the equivalent of 19 full-timers.

When a minimum-security prison was built in downtown Wooster, Ohio, a decade ago, "we took a lot of heat" from people who didn't want it, says Capt. Charlie Hardman of the sheriff's department there. But now that budget cuts could close the facility, he says, "People are concerned. Who is going to pick up the litter?"

WSJ


Why not view all of us as resources to be used as we best fit? Prison labor and robot labor eliminate the need for tiresome employees who hate their jobs, hate their lives and are consequently destructive.

It makes sense even further to go to a feudal system and enslave the chronically poor. They cannot manage their own lives, as is evidenced by the ghettos they create wherever they move. They cannot manage their own finances. They have trouble keeping jobs. Solution: tell them exactly what to do and provide a nice life for them via benevolent slavery.

Not everyone feels accepted and represented -- so dumb it down!

Exhibits in the progress of hilariously unsubtle yet completely ignored decline:


Learning to write in script is a time-honored tradition. But in today's time-starved classrooms, some around the country are questioning whether, given everything else vying for space in the curriculum and the increasing use of technology, teaching these children cursive is even necessary.

Local teachers say, if nothing else, its emphasis has diminished in recent years.

"Historically, we teach less cursive now," said Webb, whose class works on handwriting for short periods two to three days each week. "It seems we have more and more standards we need to cover. The emphasis is on science and reading."

{ snip }

Ninety percent of teachers who responded said their schools required instruction in handwriting. Of those who taught it, half of second-grade teachers and 90 percent of third-grade teachers offered cursive instruction.

Also, the emphasis has shifted from the beauty of handwriting to writing efficiently, the study found.

IndyStar


Science and reading... that sounds good. Those are good categories. You almost think, that's the right thing to do!, until you realize that those, too, are probably dumbed down. Science means watching nature TV and reading probably means political propaganda in very small words.

Continuing the circling of the drain:


Research suggests a third of UK adults will be grossly overweight within three years, with Britain even predicted to overtake the US as the most obese nation in the world.

The problem already causes 9,000 premature deaths in the UK a year and costs the NHS £1billion.

Daily Express


You have the freedom to be fat. You have the freedom to be dumb. You have the freedom to not give a damn about the national culture, and the freedom to run a business that indirectly creates destruction. I don't have the freedom to demand a functional society staffed by those I consider my peers, or the freedom to demand people think clearly.

That's not "freedom," because We define freedom.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Diversity: possibly poisonous


Multi-ethnic societies have always faced a high risk of dissension and civil war, and few such societies have been fully successful. Yet since the 18th century the United States has impressed foreign observers with its ability to unite and integrate people from diverse and even mutually hostile backgrounds (e.g., Crevecoeur, 1782/1997; de Tocqueville, 1835/1945).

{ snip }

Beginning in the 1960s, however, American society has seen a major movement away from
“unum” and toward “pluribus.” With the rise of identity politics, political correctness, and the multiculturalist movement in the 1980's, many historians and political scientists began to worry about new divisions and hostilities within American society.

{ snip }

In a widely cited book, The Disuniting of America, the liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger (1991, p.58) worried that "the cult of ethnicity exaggerates the differences, intensifies resentments and antagonisms, drives ever deeper the
awful wedges between races and nationalities. The endgame is self-pity and self-ghettoization."

{ snip }

When divisions are made on the basis of socially significant factors such as race,
religion, sexual orientation, or country of origin, the resulting intergroup hostility can be far more serious. The most deadly riots in American history, from the draft riots of 1863 to the Los Angeles riots of 1992, have been race riots (Morris & Morris, 1976). Most American street gangs form along racial or ethnic lines (Shelden, Tracy & Brown, 1997). It seems that people, especially young men, will spontaneously form groups based on racial or ethnic similarity, and groups of young men will actively seek out other groups of young men for competition and conflict (Tiger, 1969).

{ snip }

Several organizational behavior researchers have suggested that different kinds of diversity may have different kinds of effects. Jackson, Stone, and Alvarez (1992, p.56) distinguished demographic attributes from personal attributes. Demographic attributes are “those that are immutable, that can be readily detected during a brief interaction with a person, and for which social consensus can be assumed (e.g., sex, race, ethnicity, age).” Personal attributes, on the other hand, are “mutable and subjectively construed psychological and interpersonal characteristics (e.g. status, knowledge, behavioral style), which can change as a consequence of socialization processes." One personal attribute that they mentioned but did not discuss at length
is values, including attitudes of all sorts.

{ snip }

Moral diversity can be similarly defined as the state of a group when a substantial percentage of its members (20%?) do not value the most valued moral goods of a community. Moral goods are social, personal, or spiritual obligations (e.g., justice, social harmony, self-actualization, piety, chastity) to which one appeals to justify or criticize the practices and behaviors of others, and which are felt to be binding on all people (or at least on all people in a particular role or position; see Shweder & Haidt, 1993; Shweder, Much, Mahapatra, & Park, 1997). Moral goods are experienced as affectively laden self-evident truths, or intuitions; people care strongly about them, and find it difficult to explain their goodness to someone who does not share their intuition (Haidt, in press). A simpler but equivalent way of describing moral diversity is as the state of a group when many different ideas of right and wrong are represented, and there is no widespread consensus about which moral goods should be pursued.

{ snip }

An enormous body of research demonstrates the importance of similarity, particularly shared attitudes, for interpersonal attraction and cooperation (Byrne & Clore, 1970; Byrne & Nelson, 1965; Heider, 1958; Newcomb, 1961, 1978). Interacting with people who hold dissimilar attitudes raises skin conductance levels (Clore & Gormly, 1974), providing a visceral cue that may damage further interactions. Disagreements that challenge one’s cultural and moral worldview lead to desires for ostracism and punishment (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991). Byrne et al. (1975, p.206) noted that “the response to the threat raised by disagreement is to denigrate those who disagree; not only are they rejected, but they are also seen as lacking in intelligence, knowledge, morality, and psychological adjustment.”

Differentiating Diversities: Moral diversity is not like other kinds


Interesting point: if we're not all on the same page regarding our most commonly accepted values, our society falls apart. The biggest problems are the ones everyone assumes are obviously answered.

Haidt updates this research with a quick note of common sense:


The most offensive idea in all of science for the last 40 years is the possibility that behavioral differences between racial and ethnic groups have some genetic basis. Knowing nothing but the long-term offensiveness of this idea, a betting person would have to predict that as we decode the genomes of people around the world, we're going to find deeper differences than most scientists now expect. Expectations, after all, are not based purely on current evidence; they are biased, even if only slightly, by the gut feelings of the researchers, and those gut feelings include disgust toward racism..

A wall has long protected respectable evolutionary inquiry from accusations of aiding and abetting racism. That wall is the belief that genetic change happens at such a glacial pace that there simply was not time, in the 50,000 years since humans spread out from Africa, for selection pressures to have altered the genome in anything but the most trivial way (e.g., changes in skin color and nose shape were adaptive responses to cold climates). Evolutionary psychology has therefore focused on the Pleistocene era – the period from about 1.8 million years ago to the dawn of agriculture — during which our common humanity was forged for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

But the writing is on the wall. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide "races") adapted to local circumstances by a process known as "co-evolution" in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. The best documented example of this process is the co-evolution of genetic mutations that maintain the ability to fully digest lactose in adulthood with the cultural innovation of keeping cattle and drinking their milk. This process has happened several times in the last 10,000 years, not to whole "races" but to tribes or larger groups that domesticated cattle.

Recent "sweeps" of the genome across human populations show that hundreds of genes have been changing during the last 5-10 millennia in response to local selection pressures. (See papers by Benjamin Voight, Scott Williamson, and Bruce Lahn). No new mental modules can be created from scratch in a few millennia, but slight tweaks to existing mechanisms can happen quickly, and small genetic changes can have big behavioral effects, as with those Russian foxes. We must therefore begin looking beyond the Pleistocene and turn our attention to the Holocene era as well – the last 10,000 years. This was the period after the spread of agriculture during which the pace of genetic change sped up in response to the enormous increase in the variety of ways that humans earned their living, formed larger coalitions, fought wars, and competed for resources and mates.

The protective "wall" is about to come crashing down, and all sorts of uncomfortable claims are going to pour in. Skin color has no moral significance, but traits that led to Darwinian success in one of the many new niches and occupations of Holocene life — traits such as collectivism, clannishness, aggressiveness, docility, or the ability to delay gratification — are often seen as virtues or vices. Virtues are acquired slowly, by practice within a cultural context, but the discovery that there might be ethnically-linked genetic variations in the ease with which people can acquire specific virtues is — and this is my prediction — going to be a "game changing" scientific event. (By "ethnic" I mean any group of people who believe they share common descent, actually do share common descent, and that descent involved at least 500 years of a sustained selection pressure, such as sheep herding, rice farming, exposure to malaria, or a caste-based social order, which favored some heritable behavioral predispositions and not others.)

I believe that the "Bell Curve" wars of the 1990s, over race differences in intelligence, will seem genteel and short-lived compared to the coming arguments over ethnic differences in moralized traits. I predict that this "war" will break out between 2012 and 2017.

Edge


Something in me gets queasy when truth and observable knowledge are swept under the rug by social pretense.

I hope he's right, and that science continues to illuminate humanity from within without bowing to the opinions of humans as they'd like to consider themselves. So far, the record is very mixed.