7/06/2004

human bio-diversity

I define Racism as using Race to justify an unjust social stratification of a second-class citizenry. I use Race as an ethnic label, not a geographic one - a distinction I make knowing full well that ethnicity and geographic ancestry are tightly correlated. Note that racists tend not to make this distinction.

The scientific field of genetics, though a boon to scientific inquiry, has muddied the social waters with respect to Racism, by providing some racists a framework with which they couch their arguments in pseudo-scientific rationales. Ultimately, defending against that kind of insidious misuse of science requires a certain stubborness in adherence to specific moral principles, because acknowledgement of scientific principles usually leads to a gray area. Tacitus for example waded into the quagmire in a joust with Steve Sailer[1], and (IMHO) came out reasonably victorious, but not without ceding some high ground on debate.

How to navigate this contentious intersection of social policy and scientific inquiry? I start by asking myself some basic questions, which I will refer to as the "Cognition Questions":

CQ1. Do genetics influence cognition?

My answer: probably yes.

CQ2. Does race influence cognition?

My answer: 1. probably no, on an individual basis, and 2. possibly but nearly impossible to verify one way or another on a racial-group basis.

CQ3. Does IQ provide a true measure of cognition?

My answer: almost definitively not, since the IQ test is heavily biased in terms of cultural assumptions. That latter statement is a statement of psychology more than genetics.

CQ4. Is the human brain the seat of cognition?

My answer: I don't know. Physiologically, probably yes, but spiritually, almost definitely not.

My answers to Cognition Questions 1-4 inform my acceptance of the basic premises of human biodiversity (h-bd):

1. Humans, like all animals, have been subject to natural selection pressures.

2. Geographical and reproductive isolation produces intraspecies variation both because of genetic drift and because isolated groups are in different selection environments.

3. There is a long list of physiological traits of genetic origin whose incidence differs by geographical ancestry.

4. The brain is not a special organ which is off-limits to the effects of selection pressure and drift.


GC at GNXP defines people who deny premise 3 as "h-bd deniers" and provides examples of their arguments (with his own rebuttals). I find premise 3 convincing, because of my answer to CQ1 and because I make a distinction between race and geographical ancestry in CQ2.

The real moral question hinges on premise 4, however. I think that it might be a red herring, however, depending on how you answer CQ3 and CQ4. Based on my answers, I think I can accept premise 4 because I don't think that it has any fundamental bearing on the issue of race and cognition.

As a scientist myself, I am loath to deny a line of research because of a fear of its abuse. As the Tacitus discussion illustrates, there are however legitimate moral concerns that I do share, but ultimately cannot allow to bias my view on whether it shoudl proceed. The HapMap project is an example of a legitimate endeavour that has been almost derailed by moral concerns, as was the Human Genome Project itself (also see GC's spirited comments here)

Genetics WILL ultimately reveal the truth about h-bd - but the deeper question of human cognition is, I think, beyond the reach of Science. The absolute conviction of people like Sailer to the contrary is, I think, revealing.


[1]I've never read anything by Sailer or at VDare and neither do I intend to. I'm perfectly content in steering clear and ignoring their existences. Sometimes however the GNXP crowd links to Sailer as an authority, which I probably will interpret as weak evidence henceforth due to my bias in Tacitus's favor. If some scientific point is justifiable on the merits, then it should not need the imprimatur of a compromised and questionable figure like Sailer to give it legitimacy. Surely other non-controversial authorities exist?


14 comments:

Razib said...

aziz, razib here

props to being pretty objective, even if i disagree the general thrust of your conclusion. a few points:

Genetics WILL ultimately reveal the truth about h-bd - but the deeper question of human cognition is, I think, beyond the reach of Science.in the realm of cognition, i suspect you are focusing on the IQ issue too much. i have my own opinions on this point, but "general intelligence" is almost certainly a polygenic trait that is affected by hundreds of locii (though to varying degrees). there are other "cognitive" traits that seem to vary according to population. for example, my post shy blue eyed boy focuses on "introversion" & the relationship to the genes that influence coloration which might have pleiotropic effects on personality. obviously there is overlap between groups, but the post above opens the possibility that the contrast between quiet shy scandinavians and outgoing italians might have a biological component (that is, if blondes tend to be shy, and italians have fewer blondes in the population, etc.).

i can also bring up a simpler example, there has been a fair amount of recent research has pointed to the likelihood "that the lower expression of the MAOA-uVNTR polymorphism is related to a history of early abuse and may sensitize males" (from the abstract). so in this case, you have one locus with a powerful behavior affect (perhaps a regulatory gene that shuts on or off a whole cascade of hormones, etc.). if i had to bet, i suspect there wouldn't be enormous variability in the % of the population in disparate groups of the "off" allele. but, the possibility exists that this might prove to be true.

as for public policy ramifications, i tend to stay away from that, because the clear implication of the above research is that boys with the "off" version of the polymorphism at that locus should be placed in good homes at all costs. liberal democracy treats individuals as individuals before the law, so not much will change there.

on the other hand, organ donation is an issue, because different populations have different frequencies of HLA polymorphisms that determines tissue response. certain groups, like asian americans, need to be recruited, because the chances of matches within ethnic groups is usually higher than without ethnic groups (and mixed-race individuals often have problems with finding matchings because they often have novel HLA allele combinations).

Razib said...

Surely other non-controversial authorities exist?well, i would recommend Race: The Reality of Human Differences, co-authored by vincent sarich. sarich pioneered the us of molecular techniques in the 1960s which established a far more recent coalescence time for the chimpanzee-hominid split than paleontologists had thought. he was later vindicated by the fossils that were discovered. he worked a lot with allan wilson @ berkely, out of whose lab came all that work in the 1980s about "mitochondrial eve." sarich presents the argument in favor of a strong version of "human biodiversity" without much political baggage.

from where i stand, half of tacitus' objection to steve had to do with the paleocon vs. mainstream con split. in other words, it has to do with values & ends, as much as disputes over the topic of human biodiversity.

Godless said...

aziz -

Thanks for keeping it calm.

Concerning the reliability of IQ as a measure, I want to point you to this post on the fact that IQ correlates with brain structure.

That is, MRI measurements of brain geometry correlate with pen and paper IQ tests. And the correlations are nontrivial (.33 overall, .25 genetic factors - precise definitions of these terms at the link), especially for something so prima facie improbable.

I mean, it's pretty amazing. You wouldn't be able to predict the letters in your name or the street number of your house through direct measurements on the brain. But we can make a decent guess at your IQ, a guess that will beat random odds. Check out the article

Conrad said...

Do genetics influence cognition?I guess a lot would depend on how one defines cognition exactly and also of course, on the interaction with genetics with other environmental factors. I don�t think anybody would deny that genetics has no role to play; the only controversy that I can see is over how important this role actually is. I remain sceptical but I am not a scientist so I don�t know what work has been done in this area.

Does IQ provide a true measure of cognition?Given the complexity involved in trying to measure something like cognition, I wonder whether any single test will ever be able to even come near acting as a �true� measure.

Godless said...

Also, Aziz, re: Sailer.

Tacitus has shifted his position quite a bit in those comment threads. But one of the things he did say was this:

http://tacitus.org/story/2004/6/26/7177/62474

I don't think there's anything wrong with asserting that there are inheritable physical attributes within specific subgroups of people. There's a reason the best distance runners come from the east African highlands, after all. Now, is everyone going to condemn him as a racist? Sportscasters have been fired for far less. Where's the molecular biological evidence, I ask? He's basing this solely on non-genetic measures of performance such as Olympic medals, "natch".

It would be supremely ironic if someone who tries as hard as Tacitus does to express moderate views on controversial topics was smeared as a racist for his trouble.

I shall ignore Tacitus' intemperance towards h-bd believers for now - the point is just that he thinks that we are evil, but agrees with us on at least premise 3 of the above. For even getting to premise 3 his career can be ruined.

That, in a nutshell, is why I think it's unfair to put Sailer in the bozo bin without reading him. There are all kinds of people who disagree with you on all kinds of things. Why should premise 4 - an eminently reasonable premise in the light of this (see below) - be the moral threshold that separates good from evil?

http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/000808.html

GNXP readers can pick up a mild HBD angle at around 2 minutes & 40 seconds, when the interviewer asks about the contrasts in the multi-nation survey, Dr. John Maziotta responds that there are "...differences between Asian brains and European brains...brains in Asian populations tend to be spherical...European brains tend to be more elongated...this must be some aspect of evolution and how the genetics of the brain determine its shape and structure...."
I mean, Sailer has called for nothing more radical than an immigration reform act. Tacitus has called for the same thing. Maybe Tacitus should feel ashamed of himself for siding with a National Socialist :)

Godless said...

conrad:

I encourage you to check out this post.

http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/002366.html?entry=2366

there is a full PDF link here as well:

http://www.loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/IQ/NRN2004_IQ.html

Razib said...

...but let's take a step back. i'll be happy if people don't think i'm a "jack booted thug" even if i bring up the possibility of inter-group IQ differences being partly attributable to differences in genotype. there is a spectrum of trivializing inter-group differences.

there are those who would oppose attempts to tailor medical regimes based on statistical differences between populations. for example, many drug trials are based on sample of white males, and the results from white males are uncritically generalized. this is not cool in the short-term before personalized genomic tailoring of drugs & treatment is feasible, you have to take into account as much of the information as possible. it's like the USA sending powdered milk to areas of africa that suffered famine without realizing that most adult africans have issues with lactose digestion, so instead of relief, many suffered from diarrhea. of course, over 90% of northern europeans can process lactose fine, so that "lactose intolerance" is classified as a disease, though the majority of the world's population suffers from a mild case of this phenotype.

from where do these problems come from. two sources:

1) ignorance
2) ideology

the ignorance part stems from the old lewontin paper that asserts that 85% of differences are between individuals, while only 15% is attributable to group identity ("race"). there are serious problems with this, in that certain phenotypes do not show such overlap. lactose tolerance is an example. sickle cell anemia is another. by emphasizing human commonalities (this is pretty obvious, and you are only trying to convince bigots on this point), they neglect the differences that can be very important in certain contexts.

then there is the ideological point. those who wish to assert a malleability of human nature simply see inter-group differences as something that is a symptom of the disease of "determinism." they distort dynamic the gene-environment interactionism, the statistical reality of behavior and biology, and pretend as if some genetic scientists want to recast themselves in the role of "the fates." that's not what all it's about.

as apollo said, Gnothi se auton ("Know thyself"). in such a way, men and women can be true masters of their own destiny, because the seas must be charted and the mountains surveyed before they can be scaled.

Conrad said...

Razib,

I see what you are saying but this wasn�t the point I was trying to address. I agree that ignorance can severely handicap policy and lead to harmful consequences; this is hardly restricted to genetic science either; just looking at the way famine is responded to; it is pretty clear that the old Food Availability Decline (FAD) thesis is not representative of what causes famine in many contexts, as the work of Amartya Sen shows and massive imports of emergency food aid dumped on such local markets have perverse effects on local economies. In fact, many regions experiencing famines are actually net food exporters; but this is a side discussion. The broader point is that no one is really arguing for some form of Lysenkoism in genetics or a restriction of research agendas; what has upset some people, justifiably in my opinion, are the rather tall claims made by some proponents, which become increasingly qualified and reduced when faced with criticism about the magnitude and size of these differences. There is also the question of what public policy implication arise from any widespread inherited differences (assuming that are quantitatively significant) given the rather weak grounding most scientists have in social theory it is painful to see some of the assertions made � the most ridiculous recent one being the rather exaggerated and almost certainly false ones being advanced for GMO�s in �curing world hunger�. Generally speaking most such extrapolations depend on a rather basic understanding of neo-liberal economics and that too in its more extreme positivist manifestations � given that this is a branch of Social Science that has been spectacularly bad at making long-term predictions (and if you look at the attempt of many economists to predict even short-term data, not too impressive here as well) I can understand why there is a healthy amount of scepticism in some quarter to these extra-disciplinary forays.

then there is the ideological point. those who wish to assert a malleability of human nature simply see inter-group differences as something that is a symptom of the disease of "determinism." they distort dynamic the gene-environment interactionism, the statistical reality of behavior and biology, and pretend as if some genetic scientists want to recast themselves in the role of "the fates." that's not what all it's about.Well, I think you need to be careful here; I don�t see why there needs to be a tension necessarily between the two. Many social theorists and political scholars, in anycase subscribe to several forms of determinism themselves, it is simply non-biological factors which are seen as the motors of social change in their case. You should remember that the first waves of writers and thinkers on social and political theory that were influenced by Darwinism were found on both the Right and the Left; in fact one could make a good case in arguing that the latter up to the early part of the last century were far more numerous and most Socialist doctrines such as Marxism borrow heavily from and would be difficult to understand without a Darwinian theory of evolution and how social change happens.

as apollo said, Gnothi se auton ("Know thyself")Yeah, ironic given its location, as well as Apollo�s attribute as the god of prophecy, one wonder whether he wasn�t teasing a bit as real self-knowledge would have made this particular gift much less attractive. In anycase, it is one thing to talk of self-knowledge in this sense of the Self at an individual level; quite another to talk of it at a collective level and I am not sure the jump can be made. You might just convince that the Self can be explored and understood (though this would be heavily disputed these days) it would be much harder to argue that entire collection of selves could even be understood in the Apollonarian sense at least.

men and women can be true masters of their own destiny, because the seas must be charted and the mountains surveyed before they can be scaled.Self-knowledge and self-mastery are two quite different things; and in my experience they don�t tend to always go to together and sometimes are inversely related.

Ikram said...

Razib wrote:

as for public policy ramifications, i tend to stay away from that ... liberal democracy treats individuals as individuals before the law, so not much will change there.Razib, It would be great if the GNXP blog stayed out of public policy issues. But it is a group blog and there are a couple gnxp bloggers who reguarly make public policy prescriptions based on their HBD conclusions.

In my view, the prescriptions they make are very poorly thought out. Tacitus was right in that a conclusive finding of HBD in human intelligence will lead to a strongly redistributionist state. Moral equality of humans combined with pre-determined inequality of ability will lead people to wonder whether the the have-nots ought to have not. A return to one-nation Toryism and a retreat from liberalism, which has blank-slate/utilitarian roots.

Razib said...

Tacitus was right in that a conclusive finding of HBD in human intelligence will lead to a strongly redistributionist state. i've said this before, but if you find the redistributionist arguments in Rawls' A Theory of Justice persuasive, the reality of HBD will do nothing to change. if you are unconvinced, HBD will do nothing to change that (though i am influenced by Rawls' thinking though i don't buy all his axioms and the resulting propositions).

group differences emerge from individual differences, that is, group differences are the sum of its parts. much of Rawls' work is based on individual differences (of various kinds, genetic and non-genetic), and the addendum that various groups might differ in some fashion doesn't change much from where i stand, redistribution is based around individualistic utilitarianism.

let me use an analogy: the russian oligarchs are mostly jewish. there might be many reasons for this, nonetheless, a redistributionist would probably argue that they should pay their taxes and so forth. their jewishness is irrelevant, they pay taxes because they are rich, not because jews tend to be rich. similarly, cognitive and developmental studies seem to indicate that males tend to work things out in a physical manner more often than females given the same inputs. nevertheless, men and women have equal rights to buy guns and suffer the same penalties for crimes. no matter the likely average group differences.

where group differences come into play is to nullify uncritical acceptance of the paradigm that difference of outcomes is caused by racism, prejudice or some constraint on freedom. this applies to non-genetic factors, after all, few jews are pig farmers. nevertheless, an acceptance that groups on average might differ in aptitudes and orientations might suggest that all differences of outcome can not be attributed to social factors that can be re-engineered through legislation.

finally, note above that i said that race should be an important factor in health before full genomic sequencing becomes available. one's racial identity can be a piece of the puzzle used to evaluate probalistic assertions. in the case of full genomic sequencing though for each individual racial identity would become far less important since we have a more fine-grained direct view into the genome. but, we don't have that yet, so racial identification does add some data that might be of utility....

Razib said...

The broader point is that no one is really arguing for some form of Lysenkoism in genetics or a restriction of research agendas;frankly, that's not true conrad. for example, conferences have been disrupted and cancelled relating to the genetics of criminality. there are obviously ethical issues here, but there is a faction that a priori says "don't go there." the idea that racial identity might have some medical relevance is considered problematic by those who assert that inter-racial variation is trival.

I can understand why there is a healthy amount of scepticism in some quarter to these extra-disciplinary forays.sure, fair enough, but the fact is that i'm less concerned about *extra-disciplinary forays* than the fact that some people simply reject a priori the reality of inter-group differences, no matter the extent or trait. for example, one individual in the "tacitus" thread asserted that he was on average more related to someone of another race than his own race genetically. there are some serious problems with this sort of thinking (extrapolating from lewontin's "85% of variation is between individuals"). as aziz noted there have been objections to the haplotype map. we aren't talking about 2nd and 3rd order issues having to do with public policy based on science, we are talking the root science itself, as people are concerned with the potentional rather than reality of problems....

You should remember that the first waves of writers and thinkers on social and political theory that were influenced by Darwinism were found on both the Right and the Left; in fact one could make a good case in arguing that the latter up to the early part of the last century were far more numerous and most Socialist doctrines such as Marxism borrow heavily from and would be difficult to understand without a Darwinian theory of evolution and how social change happens.i'm well aware of that, the marxist geneticist jbs haldane was a eugenicist for a period (before he found the ethical issues too problematic), and maggie sanger also had those leanings. i use those data points on my blog to blunt the charge that we are nazis since after all members of the left are less likely to hurl crap when their own idols might be stained by it.

and the left is still involved in the intersection of biology and sociology. peter singer recently wrote a book about the darwinian left, and many of the original theorists of sociobiology are center-left, and robert trivers was a radical who supported the black panthers.

the political issues are not cut & dried. the scientific issues are developing. if the objectiosn were limited to IQ i might be able to accept that being "off limits", i understant the volatility and sensitivity of the topic. but as the protests against the hapmap and behavorial genetics as a whole indicate, that isn't the extent of it, there is a general opposition in some quarters to the re-expansion of biology back into the study of human behavior and societies (ergo, the glee with which some leftist scientists greeted the charges against anthropologist napoleon chagnon, though they later had to back off from most of the charges).

Conrad said...

that's not true conrad. for example, conferences have been disrupted and cancelled relating to the genetics of criminality. there are obviously ethical issues here, but there is a faction that a priori says "don't go there." the idea that racial identity might have some medical relevance is considered problematic by those who assert that inter-racial variation is trival.The link you gave doesn�t seem to be working; but my point is not that there isn�t any opposition whatsoever � this is obviously not true as you say. It is that I can�t see any sensible or effective opposition; I mean Creationists can still argue that evolution needs to be scrapped but I wouldn�t call their efforts, at least outside the US, all that effective or serious.

sure, fair enough, but the fact is that i'm less concerned about *extra-disciplinary forays* than the fact that some people simply reject a priori the reality of inter-group differences, no matter the extent or trait. for example, one individual in the "tacitus" thread asserted that he was on average more related to someone of another race than his own race genetically. there are some serious problems with this sort of thinking (extrapolating from lewontin's "85% of variation is between individuals"). as aziz noted there have been objections to the haplotype map. we aren't talking about 2nd and 3rd order issues having to do with public policy based on science, we are talking the root science itself, as people are concerned with the potentional rather than reality of problems....Very true, I don�t disagree with you here � but surely the answer to this is that if you want to be taken more credibly and strengthen the position of genetics outside its own disciplines; is the restrain those who make these kinds of forays outside their own discipline � and I have to say make fools of themselves as well as their subject in the process? I certainly would have more sympathy if this was done; unfortunately I can�t see that this is the case � though what has happened is that scientists in the field have themselves been divided along various ideological lines on these issues.

i'm well aware of that, the marxist geneticist jbs haldane was a eugenicist for a period (before he found the ethical issues too problematic), and maggie sanger also had those leanings. i use those data points on my blog to blunt the charge that we are nazis since after all members of the left are less likely to hurl crap when their own idols might be stained by it.Actually I think you have misunderstood me; one doesn�t even need to go into the area of Marxist conceptions of science � generally speaking they weren�t too impressive. The point is that for the early part of its history Marxism itself as a theory was regarded as being based on scientific principles and a careful deconstruction of Marxist political theory shows how it borrows from Darwinian notions of conflict as the driving motor of social change and in its own view of historical development � one of the reasons why Marx himself was so taken with Darwin�s work I believe. This is why for a long time Marxists liked to pretend that their theories were superior because unlike their rivals, theirs was based on �scientific principles�. Of course given how a lot of this turned out, one can understand why this is not necessarily a comparison that should give any comfort today.

I don�t see why you think Haldane or Sanger are taken to be the �idols of the Left� unless you have a very conservative view of what the Left comprises. Moreover, it porbably isn't a good idea to take individual thinkers and use them as counter-examples since in Europe at least, pretty much up to the rise of Stalin Marxism and other socialist theories were enormously attractive to intellectuals and I would hazard that a disproportionate number of them in the eary 20th century would have been attracted or influences by these strains at the time.

Many post-modernist leftists have made their careers out of criticising all such scientific narratives both from the Right, Centre and the Left as most famously shown by Lyotard�s work on the end of what he calls �grand narratives� of which science is clearly included as one. This post-structuralist turn has led most of the cutting edge thinkers from what could be termed as the left down very different directions, at least in the developed world, and their criticisms are grounded in quite different basis.

the political issues are not cut & dried. the scientific issues are developing. if the objectiosn were limited to IQ i might be able to accept that being "off limits", i understant the volatility and sensitivity of the topic.Well my objections here were slightly different and much more basic. I just question whether IQ can even be used as a measure of what I would understand as �intelligence� since I don�t think that it is a good measure � I am not saying that this attribute is not quantifiable but just that it seems to me highly unlikely that one single measure can capture it. More importantly, there seems to be an unsaid assumption that somehow inherited differences are large and can be much more so that differences through other factors; they way I think of it, being trained as an economist is the a differential set of endowments as starting points on a growth curve � now as we are all taught clearly countries have widely different levels of endowment positions but how fast they grown is not explained by this differential over long time periods since what matters much more is not what you are given but how you use it and how intensely. It is these differences in internal allocative dynamics and productivity that are much more important than just who starts where (which is also relevant but hardly decisive). It seems to me that many people who argue things like IQ links etc. and �cognitive elites� or whatever mix up these two different variables and tend to assume that initial relative endowments play a massive or determining role in performance.

Razib said...

It is that I can�t see any sensible or effective opposition; I mean Creationists can still argue that evolution needs to be scrapped but I wouldn�t call their efforts, at least outside the US, all that effective or serious.our difference in opinion might be a function of geography. the united states has strong identity politics movements rooted in the academy. the possibility that there might be 2nd or 3rd order implications from data that undermines their ideologies is enough for them to target deviants.

creationists have no voice in the academy, that is not true of those who suggest that they have had enough of genetic science. this tack is especially easy because some conservatives have joined in for their own reasons (the data doesn't always please the Right either, as they have their own utopian conceptions of human nature).

is the restrain those who make these kinds of forays outside their own discipline � and I have to say make fools of themselves as well as their subject in the process? I certainly would have more sympathy if this was done; unfortunately I can�t see that this is the case � though what has happened is that scientists in the field have themselves been divided along various ideological lines on these issues.well, this is one reason that many scientists who do this sort of research disavow racialist or sexist inclinations or implications in their research. scientists are by their nature caution, recall what happened after the cloning of dolly? the fact is that scientists aren't the only problem, the media tends to give the biggest megaphone to sensationalists and the public has a far easier time consuming oversimplified pap than the nuanced and often uninteresting minutiae of real science. there's enough blame to go around.

I don�t see why you think Haldane or Sanger are taken to be the �idols of the Left� unless you have a very conservative view of what the Left comprises. Moreover, it porbably isn't a good idea to take individual thinkers and use them as counter-examples since in Europe at least, pretty much up to the rise of Stalin Marxism and other socialist theories were enormously attractive to intellectuals and I would hazard that a disproportionate number of them in the eary 20th century would have been attracted or influences by these strains at the time.i don't harp on intellectual robustness in arguments with people what accuse me of being a "nazi," that's really not the point. selective quotes from people who are perceived as progressive and forward thinking can blunt the righteousness of many an accusor.

the rest of it i won't address, because it doesn't matter much in this discussion whether we disagree, rather, i am simply asserting that an open-mindedness on certain topics needs to be had. some people will not concede that, rather, a refusal to assent to certain propositions will result in the explicit accusation that you are a "nazi" and what not.

Conrad said...

.our difference in opinion might be a function of geography. the united states has strong identity politics movements rooted in the academy. the possibility that there might be 2nd or 3rd order implications from data that undermines their ideologies is enough for them to target deviants.creationists have no voice in the academy, that is not true of those who suggest that they have had enough of genetic science. this tack is especially easy because some conservatives have joined in for their own reasons (the data doesn't always please the Right either, as they have their own utopian conceptions of human nature).Fair enough, I certainly don�t think any area of Scientific enquiry needs to be curtailed unless it raises ethical questions; issues with Creationism etc. are theological ones which I think have no place influencing research agendas. Ethics however do need to be considered but shouldn�t be used as a screen for ignorance.

well, this is one reason that many scientists who do this sort of research disavow racialist or sexist inclinations or implications in their research. scientists are by their nature caution, recall what happened after the cloning of dolly? the fact is that scientists aren't the only problem, the media tends to give the biggest megaphone to sensationalists and the public has a far easier time consuming oversimplified pap than the nuanced and often uninteresting minutiae of real science. there's enough blame to go around.Yeah, true enough, though I think people are suspicious in that much of these disavowals are purely for public consumption and don�t really reflect a serious commitment on behalf of some scientists but obviously it isn�t possible to police disciplines in this fashion � nor is it necessarily desirable.

i don't harp on intellectual robustness in arguments with people what accuse me of being a "nazi," that's really not the point. selective quotes from people who are perceived as progressive and forward thinking can blunt the righteousness of many an accusor.Well, I don�t know the context and it doesn�t really matter too much. There is likely to be a lot of inane discourse about many of these things and considering that a lot of them are science or technically based I don�t see why it should stray into other areas and allow such insults to fly. The problem arises when science is used to make various public policy prescriptions or as a prop to individual scientists politics and here I can understand some of the criticism that is generated. One needs to distinguish between Science and Politics; I think there is one way of debating the former at the level of the generalist but another way of debating the latter. Unfortunately many scientists particularly those who favour some sort of differentialist genetic approach display what I can only describe as a painfully stupid understanding of subjects outside their own area of specialisation and their insistence in the face of substantive arguments to the contrary lead me to suspect that it isn�t exactly �detached scientific temperment� that drives many of their beleifs.

because it doesn't matter much in this discussion whether we disagree, rather, i am simply asserting that an open-mindedness on certain topics needs to be had. some people will not concede that, rather, a refusal to assent to certain propositions will result in the explicit accusation that you are a "nazi" and what not.Yes, I agree with the caveat however, that it is one thing to seek to pursue a line of scientific enquiry and quite another to draw or make certain political or social arguments from them. The latter need types of legitimation that come from outside science itself, and I don�t think mechanistic appeals to some sort of supposed science-derived results are adequate basis for making such decisions. It is here where a real struggle and conflict occurs and I am afraid that regardless of what science may or may not say; making certain political arguments or ethical judgements, can rightly be classified as �Nazi� on these basis. If that is what some individuals believe then they should come out and say so; rather than use science as a smokescreen to confuse the debate. (I should be clear here, that I am obviously not talking about you specifically, obviously).