Thursday, November 14, 2013

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Laura San Giacomo, 51. Perhaps she doesn't want to do it, but otherwise difficult to understand why she's not starring on one of those TVLand sitcoms. Actually, how about a TVLand sitcom with her, Amy Yasbeck, Hector Elizondo, and Jason Alexander? Isn't that a totally plausible cast? And, yeah, I'd watch it if it was on. It'd be better than the last thing they did together.

Back to business: there's always good stuff:

1. Good Aaron Blake analysis of what Tea Party and other radical Republican organizations look for when endorsing.

2. Nice back and forth this week about genetics and politics research. First, Larry Bartels argues that the research is unlikely to pass the "so what?" test.

3. Hans Noel follows up on that, and plugs his new, upcoming, book (which, from what I know of his work, should be excellent).

4. Some dissent from Mike Wagner. I'm with Bartels in the skeptical camp (although I'm not even remotely expert enough to discuss this stuff for real), but read both sides.

5. Not really related, but perhaps more interesting for those of you who aren't political scientists: good looking candidates don't really have an electoral advantage.


  1. I can understand why there might be skepticism of biopartisanism - after all, it may sound a lot like "we can't change your genes, so we might as well give up on you." Me, I've always found the constellation of conservative values perplexing. How does support for uncontrolled gun ownership and the death penalty peacefully cohabitate with a hatred for abortion, for example?

    However, as the research progresses, I'd like to see studies on how to usefully introduce new information to people with specific genetic biases. How can conservatives talk to liberals, and liberals talk to conservatives, in a way that balances their needs and desires? How can we make a deal with each other that everyone can live with? If the research suggests ways to harmonize how these groups intersect, it will be well worth the money.

  2. Far be it for any of us to question someone else's cottage industry, but I'm in the "so what?" camp on the biopolitics stuff. If memory serves, the average height of the 43 Presidents is, what, 6'3"? While the weighted (heighted?) average of the male population over the same time is probably 5.5 feet. Corporate chieftains tend to be pretty tall too, guys like Jack Welch notwithstanding (on a stool). Those corporate guys are pretty conservative, by contrast hollywood actors - typically short - are usually liberals.

    If we think of the liberal/conservative split in the terms Jonathan used (liberal = community oriented, conservative = individual oriented), then there must certainly be genetic differences - height the most obvious one - that would generally predispose a person to prefer the individual or community route.

    btw, if anyone cares: I'm average height. Fully explains my RINOness.

    1. Oops. 44 Presidents. Not one of those "Obama is not my President" things, my mind is just stuck in 2007.

    2. Totally understandable....I tossed 43 off the other day in class without realizing we were up to 44 until lecture was over (it wasn't an important point).

      I somewhat suspect that there's been less mentioning of Obama being the 44th than there was of Bush being 43, which makes perfect sense given the "41" and "43" nicknames that made their way out into soft news pieces.

    3. You were right the first time. There have been only 43 presidents so far. Obama is described as the 44th based on an old convention of counting Cleveland twice, due to his two non-consecutive terms.

  3. "So what?"

    This is evidence that even subtle behavioral differences between people are driven by genetics. The key prog idea is that genes don't have much to do with behavior (which progs believe is almost exclusively crafted by environment). Giant branches of the prog tree (e.g. feminism) are subject to pruning if it is shown that human minds are principally shaped not by "the patriarchy" or other silliness, but by genes. For progs, belittling genetics will be a long, fighting retreat. We all know where this leads.

    1. backyard, nice to hear from you - I suspected this topic would get you going. For me, "so what" is not a reflection that such differences don't exist, but rather that - at least in a political science sense - who cares?

      The argument I advanced above, which I understand has been researched (at least a little) is that big beefy dudes tend to embrace the ideology of self-reliance, and less big, less beefy dudes go for a more community focus. It surely takes no imagination to understand that those respective strategies maximize the interests of each group of individuals, and more importantly, their genes.

      What is interesting, though perhaps not in a political science sense, is which strategy is better, that is, more reproductively successful. I recall Jeff mentioning a while ago that at least in France, "big beefy dude" seemed to be a less reproductively successful strategy than on this side of the pond. It would seem that big beefy dudes, through violent conflict or war, are more likely to die before they hit their reproductive years. There are also advantages to being a big beefy dude - the question is obviously moot.

      And interesting - but probably not in a political science sense. The fact that these political differences generally exist more or less in line with the reproductive interests of the various Yawn.

    2. CSH,

      Setting aside your just-so-story, I'll reiterate that progs have claimed for years that The Gap, the dearth of women in peak scientific positions, and almost any other differences between races/genders are due to recent historical accidents and (snort!) "bias." You may yawn at the idea that genes cause these differences, but what happens when it is shown that Jews are genetically smarter than blacks? Another big yawn? The whole idiotic prog paradigm appears to be on a precipice when people can talk about groups of brains being shaped by genes.

    3. Its funny, backyard, as I write this Andrew Luck is being interviewed on the Titans field after tonight's game. Damn, that dude is some kind of nerdy. Even the nerds wouldn't want to hang with that guy. But he's well on his way to a life of glory and riches that will surely transcend knee-jerk assumptions about guys who conduct themselves the way he does.

      Your conclusions about genetics - they are science? I mean - real science? Or do they come from the same place that might cause one to dismiss Andrew Luck...i.e. cause it feels good? Are you sure you know what you think you know, or does it just feel good, and that's good enough?

    4. Crimethink:

      “The faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc [English Socialism], and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. In short . . . protective stupidity.”


    5. I get it. I'm slow, I like to think I hear dog whistles better than your average bear, but I guess your average bear thinks he is better than the average bear. The 'dangerous thought' on which we are on the threshhold is that the intellectually feeble will overwhelm, with great prejudice, the intellectually superior. This is why you cite the Ashkenazim so frequently. For all the ways that communities might assortively mate, the Ashkenazim notably rewarded high accomplishment with status and reproductive success. That was praiseworthy on their part, even if it (probably) didn't arise for genetic reasons. And that, reprehensibly, didn't end well. The developed west is on the same path, so the argument goes.

      Perhaps. Assuming these matters aren't genetic, at least in a deterministic way, than society must be structured in ways that help or hurt that situation. Here's a possibility: the forces that have compromised the less intellectual among us, over the last generation, have also provided them with an increasing comfortable life (e.g. cheap big screen tvs come at the cost of decent-paying working-class jobs).

      The race to the bottom is staged in increasingly comfortable vehicles. That's not the fault of faulty genes.

    6. The 'dangerous thought' on which we are on the threshhold

      The “dangerous thought” that progs are on the threshold of is that humans are affected by variation and natural selection. This is obvious from everything I’ve ever written at this blog on the subject, including in this comment section right here. This “liberal creationism” is as foolish as young Earth creationism. “Protective stupidity” is exactly what progs show about this topic: the inability to remember any facts, to understand any arguments, or to even pretend to not sneer in disgust. Progs are even moronically writing “Yawn” about evidence of the wrongness of their evil worldviews… exactly as Orwell predicted. If you accept as true some evidence that calls into question your beloved worldview, it shouldn’t elicit yawns if you are capable of admitting that you are wrong..

      Orwell wrote the book. Schools made nascent progs read it. All the tad-progs said that it was brilliant, and promptly assumed that it could never apply to them.

  4. Re: genopolitics
    That's a great, succinct critical response from Hans Noel. The research agenda implied by genopolitics just seems quixotic to me, as someone who embraces the importance of history and changing context to understand politics and what 'liberal' and 'conservative' mean.


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