Suppose HBD is True

by OrphanWilde6 min read21st Apr 2016190 comments

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Suppose, for the purposes of argument, HBD (Human bio-diversity, the claim that distinct populations (I will be avoiding using the word "race" here insomuch as possible) of humans exist and have substantial genetical variance which accounts for some difference in average intelligence from population to population) is true, and that all its proponents are correct in accusing the politicization of science for burying this information.

I seek to ask the more interesting question: Would it matter?

1. Societal Ramifications of HBD: Eugenics

So, we now have some kind of nice, tidy explanation for different characters among different groups of people.  Okay.  We have a theory.  It has explanatory power.  What can we do with it?

Unless you're willing to commit to eugenics of some kind (be it restricting reproduction or genetic alteration), not much of anything.  And even given you're willing to commit to eugenics, HBD doesn't add anything  HBD doesn't actually change any of the arguments for eugenics - below-average people exist in every population group, and insofar as we regard below-average people a problem, the genetic population they happen to belong to doesn't matter.  If the point is to raise the average, the population group doesn't matter.  If the point is to reduce the number of socially dependent individuals, the population group doesn't matter.

Worse, insofar as we use HBD as a determinant in eugenics, our eugenics are less effective.  HBD says your population group has a relationship with intelligence; but if we're interested in intelligence, we have no reason to look at your population group, because we can measure intelligence more directly.  There's no reason to use the proxy of population group if we're interested in intelligence, and indeed, every reason not to; it's significantly less accurate and politically and historically problematic.

Yet still worse for our eugenics advocate, insomuch as population groups do have significant genetic diversity, using population groups instead of direct measurements of intelligence is far more likely to cause disease transmission risks.  (Genetic diversity is very important for population-level disease resistance.  Just look at bananas.)

2. Social Ramifications of HBD: Social Assistance

Let's suppose we're not interested in eugenics.  Let's suppose we're interested in maximizing our societal outcomes.

Well, again, HBD doesn't offer us anything new.  We can already test intelligence, and insofar as HBD is accurate, intelligence tests are more accurate.  So if we aim to streamline society, we don't need HBD to do so.  HBD might offer an argument against affirmative action, in that we have different base expectations for different populations, but affirmative action already takes different base expectations into account (if you live in a city of 50% black people and 50% white people, but 10% of local lawyers are black, your local law firm isn't required to have 50% black lawyers, but 10%).  We might desire to adjust the way we engage in affirmative action, insofar as affirmative action might not lead to the best results, but if you're interested in the best results, you can argue on the basis of best results without needing HBD.

I have yet to encounter someone who argues HBD who also argues we should do something with regard to HELPING PEOPLE on the basis of this, but that might actually be a more significant argument: If there are populations of people who are going to fall behind, that might be a good argument to provide additional resources to these populations of people, particularly if there are geographic correspondences - that is, if HBD is true, and if population groups are geographically segregated, individuals in these population groups will suffer disproportionately relative to their merits, because they don't have the local geographic social capital that equal-advantage people of other population groups would have.  (An average person in a poor region will do worse than an average person in a rich region.)  So HBD provides an argument for desegregation.

Curiously, HBD advocates have a tendency to argue that segregation would lead to the best outcome.  I'd welcome arguments that concentrating an -absence- of social capital is a good idea.

3. Scientific Ramifications of HBD

Well, if HBD were true, it would mean science is politicized.  This might be news to somebody, I guess.

4. Political Ramifications of HBD

We live in a meritocracy.  It's actually not an ideal thing, contrary to the views of some people, because it results in a systematic merit segregation that has completely deprived the lower classes of intellectual resources; talk to older people sometime, who remember, when they worked in the coal mines (or whatever), the one guy who you could trust to be able to answer your questions and provide advice.  Our meritocracy has advanced to the point where we are systematically stripping everybody of value from the lower classes and redistributing them to the middle and upper classes.

HBD might be meaningful here.  Insofar as people take HBD to its absurd extremes, it might actually result in an -improvement- for some lower-class groups, because if we stop taking all the intelligent people out of poor areas, there will still be intelligent people in those poor areas.  But racism as a force of utilitarian good isn't something I care to explore in any great detail, mostly because if I'm wrong it would be a very bad thing, and also because none of its advocates actually suggest anything like this, more interesting in promoting segregation than desegregation.

It doesn't change much else, either.  With HBD we continually run into the same problem - as a theory, it's the product of measuring individual differences, and as a theory, it doesn't add anything to our information that we don't already have with the individual differences.

5. The Big Problem: Individuality

Which is the crucial fault with HBD, iterated multiple times here, in multiple ways: It literally doesn't matter if HBD is true.  All the information it -might- provide us with, we can get with much more accuracy using the same tests we might use to arrive at HBD.  Anything we might want to do with the idea, we can do -better- without it.

HBD might predict we get fewer IQ-115, IQ-130, and IQ-145 people from particular population groups, but it doesn't actually rule them out.  Insofar as this kind of information is useful, it's -more- useful to have more accurate information.  HBD doesn't say "Black people are stupid", instead it says "The average IQ of black people is slightly lower than the average IQ of white people".  But since "black people" isn't a thing that exists, but rather an abstract concept referring to a group of "black persons", and HBD doesn't make any predictions at the individual level we couldn't more accurately obtain through listening to a person speak for five seconds, it doesn't actually make any useful predictions.  It adds literally nothing to our model of the world.

It's not the most important idea of the century.  It's not important at all.

If you think it's true - okay.  What does it -add- to your understanding of the world?  What useful predictions does it make?  How does it permit you to improve society?  I've heard people insist it's this majorly important idea that the scientific and political establishment is suppressing.  I'd like to introduce you to the aether, another idea that had explanatory power but made no useful predictions, and which was abandoned - not because anybody thought it was wrong, but because it didn't even rise to the level of wrong, because it was useless.

And that's what HBD is.  A useless idea.

And even worse, it's a useless idea that's hopelessly politicized.

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I think you have grossly underestimated the importance of HBD and policy implications. If HBD is true, then all the existing correlational and longitudinal evidence immediately implies that group differences are the major reason why per capita income in the USA are 3-190x per capita income in Africa, that group differences are a major driver of history and the future, that intelligence has enormous spillovers totally ignored in all current analyses. This has huge implications for historical research, immigration policy (regression to the mean), dysgenics discussions (minor to irrelevant from just the individual differences perspective but long-term existential threat from HBD), development aid, welfare programs, education, and pretty much every single topic in the culture wars touching on 'sexism' or 'racism' where the supposedly iron-clad evidence is confounded or based on rational priors. (In terms of research, it also means that you can aggregate GWAS results across populations without worrying that population stratification or different linkage disequilibrium patterns are driving your results, which will make it easier to study complex traits like intelligence or violence.)

HBD ... (read more)

4buybuydandavis5yDon't agree at all. Differences in political culture are probably much more important. Once the Chinese stopped caring about whether the cat was communist or capitalist, and focused on whether it made money, their per capita income was off to the races. Interesting graph of the divergence of their per capita GDP from India right around 1980.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_GDP_of_China [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_GDP_of_China]
1OrphanWilde5yAll true. But all the same is true if HBD -isn't- true. It doesn't matter if some of the group differences are genetic in origin, given that others are not, we can still resolve those. Assume HBD isn't true, and measured intelligence differences are purely the product of cultural and nutritional and parasite load differences. Now assume HBD is true, and measured intelligence differences are the result of the above and also genetics. Do the implications here change? And here I disagree: Regardless of whether or not HBD is true, we should still be taking steps to increase intelligence, for example by iodine supplement distribution, and reducing parasite loads. The steps we should take don't depend on HBD being true or false.

It doesn't matter if some of the group differences are genetic in origin, given that others are not, we can still resolve those.

Those can be resolved but they will not make nearly as large a difference as currently expected, where current ideologies hold that all of that 3-190x per capita difference is due to environmental conditions, history, and racism. HBD implies that, just as with individual differences and the systematic failure of welfare and education randomized experiments to 'close the gap', we can expect this futility to occur on a country-level basis at some level of development. Countries like China (maybe) and North Korea (definitely) will be predicted to escape their current poverty levels with appropriate interventions... and countries like Subsaharan Africa to possibly not escape. (Which countries can be made more concrete in a HBD context by taking Piffer's country/group-level polygenic scores and looking at the residuals of a GDP/score regression for the countries which most over and underperform; the former can be predicted to not grow substantially, and the latter can be predicted to grow substantially.)

Remember how heritability works. If environments impro... (read more)

4Lumifer5y...that its population is significantly inbred to the degree of having much higher child mortality due to congenial defects [http://www.unz.com/gnxp/the-cost-of-inbreeding-in-terms-of-health/].
1wiserd7moI'm not sure that this can be assumed true (and forgive me if the point is addressed elsewhere. I have mostly only read this comment). If someone is phenylketoneuric, improved environment will eliminate what would otherwise be a profound difference between them and their cohort. Harsh environments tend to accentuate differences, including genetic differences. There's been some push to put lab animals through more rigorous trials to better observe subtle differences between them. If genetic susceptibilities to environmental insult explains many differences between populations then it's entirely possible for environments which address those susceptibilities to reduce the apparent portion of differences which are viewed as "genetic." We can't begin to predict whether improved environment will increase or decrease the differences due to genetic variance until we address the specific mechanisms underlying that variance. (And, in a kind of Catch-22 once we understand the underlying mechanisms we're very close to addressing the issue through some kind of direct intervention (like genetic editing of embryos.) ) This makes prediction even harder, since self-modifying systems are hell to reliably forecast till they reach some kind of equilibrium.
0roystgnr5yTo be fair, that's not entirely Pakistanis' fault [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/polio-eradication-vaccines/]. Is paranoia about Communist fluoridation plots more or less dysfunctional than paranoia about CIA vaccination plots? Does it make a difference that only the latter has a grain of truth to it?

Less.

Fluoridation of drinking water has never been shown to be safe or effective in randomized trials and you could never get approval from the FDA today to use it. The claimed benefits are pretty small in both health and monetary terms and would be wiped out by even a fraction of an IQ point loss; the expected benefit is quite small and so conspiracy theorists incorrectly killing fluoridation would not cause much regret.

Polio vaccines on the other hand have been shown to be safe & effective, and even if the CIA were using the polio program to kill dozens of Pakistanis each year (rather than 1 known inconclusive case), that still would be less than the number of polio vaccinators who have been assassinated and the hundreds of polio cases annually which will continue indefinitely and prevent the permanent eradication of polio. In this case, the regret from the conspiracy theories about polio vaccination is real.

0Lumifer5yLess, because in the former case your kids could have a few more cavities and in the latter case your kids could grow up dumb and/or crippled.
-2OrphanWilde5yThey're also causally upstream, given that intelligence is the problem. Meaning the problem is one of bootstrapping. This doesn't actually change any implications. The environmental factors will help -to- that level of development, however, and given that that level of development has not been achieved, they're still the corrective measures necessary. If genetics isn't a limiting factor, correcting the environmental factors will improve things. If genetics is a limiting factor, correcting the environmental factors will still improve things. Given that there's a factor we have no control over, and given factors that we might be able to control although it's a very difficult problem, the factor that we have no control over doesn't matter with respect to the solutions.
7gwern5yYes, it does, if you cannot bootstrap in the first place because you cannot implement the measures because of a population with low intelligence, high discounting, high crime and corruption rates etc. You're equivocating and it is not the case that regardless of genetics, all environmental interventions are equally profitable a priori. If genetics is a limiting factor on intelligence and other traits, then an environmental intervention - if you can manage it in the first place - will be restricted to its proximate effects and will not have the huge spillovers which led to the Great Divergence. If a population is at its genetic limit already and you successfully implement, say, iodization, the benefits will be limited to the immediate effects of reducing goiters and low energy, but you will not get the spillovers to homicide, the spillovers to greater education, the spillovers to higher income, the spillovers to lower discount rates and higher capital formation, etc. The cost-benefits for iodization are based on these benefits, not merely eliminating goiters! Likewise, if you cure malaria and a population is at the limit, you'll reduce how many people die of malaria and that'll be it. Maybe that much lower impact will still be worth it, but given how close to the edge a lot of interventions already are... It is not the case that all environmental interventions are always profitable and should always be done.
-5OrphanWilde5y
1skeptical_lurker5yIt matters a lot wrt how much money to spend on fighting parasites.
-1OrphanWilde5yIf the world were in danger of spending more than the optimal amount of money doing so, sure. In the world we live in, not so much.
0skeptical_lurker5yI disagree. The developed world should prioritise fighting existential risks over fighting parasites.
-2OrphanWilde5yThat strategy, historically, would have been the entirely incorrect move. What makes you think it is, today, the correct move?
2skeptical_lurker5yBecause historically we did not have the technology to kill everyone, or to kill most people, or to stop asteroids. Now we do have some of this tech, and are getting close to developing AGI. I'm not saying AGI is going to arrive soon, but we are close enough to start reasoning about friendliness. Besides, efforts towards malaria eradication, clean water etc are already fairly well funded. Aid to Africa has totalled over 2 trillion, IIRC. FAI research has a minute fraction of that so there are more low-hanging fruit.
0DanArmak5yI think you overstate the case. HBD being true would mean the differences between human groups are large enough to be important for all kinds of things. But it doesn't have to mean that these differences are so large that they swamp every other difference! There are plenty of other, undisputed differences between human groups, which are either non-biologically heritable, or are part of their geographical environment, that could contribute to or outright cause huge disparities between the US and Africa. As just one example, if you took the African climate, and the sub-Saharan African prevalence of human disease and parasites, and introduced it to the US in a counterfactual past, I expect US average incomes would be much lower. There are many other examples and arguments I could bring here, but I'm pretty sure you can think of them yourself. Differences in outcomes between groups in the US, or in the EU, are a much better case than the US vs. Africa or vs. China.
6Lumifer5yA lot of people forget that malaria used to be endemic in the South, Washington DC struggled with it, and Florida was just considered to be unfit for human habitation.
-2DanArmak5yThat is completely true, and I forgot about it. There are other parasites in Africa, but probably none as important as the mosquito-carried group. Thanks for correcting me. I still think there are other arguments to be made to the same end. A lot of historical contigency was needed to make this particular world. Even the biggest plausible inter-group variation claimed by HBD isn't big enough to overcome that and overdetermine outcomes.
0sight35yYes, and a lot of that contingency led to different populations being selected for different things.

Estimating a person's capability to do X, Y, or Z (do a job effectively, be a law-abiding citizen, be a consistently productive citizen not dependent on welfare programs, etc.) based on skin color or geographical origin of their ancestry is a heuristic.

HBD argues that it is a relatively accurate heuristic. The anti-HBD crowd argues that it is an inaccurate heuristic.

OrphanWilde seems to be arguing that, even if HBD is correct that these heuristics are relatively accurate, we don't need heuristics like this in the first place because there are even better heuristics or more direct measurements of a person's individual capability to do X, Y, or Z already out there. (IQ, interviews, etc.)

The HBD advocates here seem to be arguing that we do, in fact, need group-based heuristics because individual heuristics:
1. Are more costly in terms of time, and are thus just not feasible for many applications. 2. Don't really exist for certain measures, such as in estimating "probable future law-abidingness" or "probable future welfare dependency".
*3. Have political restrictions on being able to apply them. (For example, we COULD use formal IQ tests on job applicants,... (read more)

0TheAncientGeek5yAre US employers forbidden from setting all meet based tests, or just IQ tests? Because task-specific tests aren't just an alternative to IQ tests, they're a better alternative in almost every case.
0Matthew_Opitz5yTrue in many cases, although for some jobs the task might not be well-specified in advance (such as in some cutting-edge tech jobs), and what you need are not necessarily people with any particular domain-specific skills, but rather just people who are good all-around adaptable thinkers and learners.
-1Elo5ycan you put a newline before the 1. to improve the formatting. Thanks.

HBD isn't predictive; it's a null hypothesis. The predictive claim is the inverse: that there aren't substantial ability differences between racial groups. Unfortunately you do have to mention race because that's the claim that people are making; obviously the group of MIT students has a different mean IQ from the general population. So differences in outcome are because of different starting conditions, racism, or culture.

In particular, a belief in ~HBD means that, when black kids don't get into Harvard at population-representational rates, the system is unfair SOMEWHERE. Maybe it's a problem with lousy schools, maybe there's racism in college admissions, maybe it's generational poverty. But, as a society that values fairness, we have a duty to figure out what's going wrong and try to fix it.

With ~HBD, the system is unfair and we have a duty to fix it. With HBD, the way things are might be fair and something like affirmative action might actually be unjust. That doesn't mean they necessarily are fair--just because groups can be different doesn't preclude racism--just that they aren't automatically unfair.

1OrphanWilde5yWhy do we have a duty to fix a broken system which we didn't create, but no duty to fix genetic issues which produce the same problems?

That's an odd question to ask, when you're the one who excluded anything to do with eugenics as an implication of HBD...

I would say we have duties to fix the broken system in both cases, but the way to fix it is very different in each case, and so anyone interested in fixing it must care deeply about whether HBD is true. Personally, I really hope that once embryo editing becomes a reality, the government will simply subsidize it for everyone who wants it. It'll be expensive, but the positive externalities will pay for it countless times over, it can be justified economically on narrow individual difference grounds even more easily than on group 'fixing broken system' grounds so HBD's truth is unnecessary, subsidization resolves all the social and political issues, and is the ethical thing to do: no one deserves to be born broken because their parents were too broke or short-sighted to arrange for IVF and editing.

(I assume this is not a controversial position on a transhumanist forum...)

I think the scientific implications include a chance at a better understanding of the physical basis of intelligence, and hopefully ways of increasing intelligence.

0OrphanWilde5yFinding the genetic causation of intelligence would be fantastic. HBD isn't the idea that there's genetic causation of intelligence, however; it's the idea that the genetic causation factors vary in frequency between population groups (namely, races), and specifically, that certain population groups have lower intelligence as a result in the variance of frequency. To which I must respond that, while it should surprise us if those genetic causation factors don't vary in frequency across population groups, it should also surprise us if the frequency distribution of given genetic factors consistently advantages or disadvantages a single population group. (That is, there should be genetic causal factors which improve intelligence that are more common in black people, as well.) Which is to say, HBD, as a proper idea rather than racism, suggests we should be mixing races to get the best genetics from every group. Given, as I understand it, that the greatest variance in genetics tends to be in African people, the ideal is probably closer to the African cluster (being larger and thus having more potential for positive factors) than the European cluster. But that isn't the position HBD advocates generally take, to put it mildly.

To which I must respond that, while it should surprise us if those genetic causation factors don't vary in frequency across population groups, it should also surprise us if the frequency distribution of given genetic factors consistently advantages or disadvantages a single population group. (That is, there should be genetic causal factors which improve intelligence that are more common in black people, as well.)

No. Think about a random walk on a 1D line, or about generating a normal based on the sum of a lot of random variates. If you do 2 random walks A and B, do you think that A and B will wind up in the exact same position because 'there should be steps which increase the position in B as well'? Or, 'A and B should sum to the same, because B will have some variables which were higher than in A'? In expectation, A and B may have the same average value, and may asymptotically converge given enough steps or variates summed but in any particular realization, with a fixed number of steps of summed variates, they can and probably will be quite far apart. Genetic drift is a considerable force, and more still if you invoke any kind of different selection pressures (such as, say, for... (read more)

-4OrphanWilde5yThere are, last I checked, at least 100 genetic markers associated with intelligence. And convergence, short of genetic drift/selection pressures, should be expected; while it's possible for there to be a difference, given the law of large numbers, we should expect the distribution to be pretty similar. Selection pressures like plagues that wiped out the majority of the population on more than one occasion? Why are you surprised?
6gwern5yMany more actually, the upcoming SSGAC paper alone reportedly identifies 80+ hits but even that paper's full polygenic score only explains about a third to a fifth of SNP contributions, so there's going to be many more hits to come and probably thousands of non-zero variants beyond that. But it doesn't make a difference because both group and individual differences are based on the same set. Individual differences arise from very small net differences (due to the CLT), and so you only need small changes in allele frequencies to also produce group differences on the order of individual differences. Take a look at my calculations and simulations in http://www.gwern.net/Embryo%20selection#limits-to-iterated-selection [http://www.gwern.net/Embryo%20selection#limits-to-iterated-selection] making concrete the issue of how much absolute genetic difference translates to observed relative differences; it's not much, and it would take a very small average difference to produce group differences like we see. Or look at the scale of Piffer's polygenic scores. Also consider 'soft sweeps'. (I was looking into this because it has some important implications: the small variance means that embryo selection is going to be weak since you don't get embryos with large differences in their polygenic scores, but it also means that there is an enormous amount of potential improvement you could make with direct embryo editing. If the genetics of intelligence were just 50 genes or something small like that, selection would be more profitable since the sum of 50 random binomials is much more spread out than 10,000, but it also means that once you've edited all 50, you've 'run out' of genes to tweak and have topped out at a relatively few SDs of relative intelligence improvement. But with 10,000, you have so many knobs to tweak that you can go straight to whatever the neurophysiological limit of a human brain is.) 'Majority'? I don't think even the Black Plague killed a majority of the Euro
-4OrphanWilde5yAgain, absent selection pressures, and given that genetic drift is responsible, we should see the same kinds of variability on a more localized scale; we should see African subpopulations (given the large number of distinct genetic populations) with higher IQs than white people. The worst occurrence did, yes. But assuming this is the case, we should expect black populations to have higher disease resistance relative to white populations; is this the case? Except we're not talking about one white population and one black population, but dozens of each. Ah. No. After the first few just-so stories based on armchair philosophy while deliberately ignoring half the studies out there in a deeply conflicted field of study, I got bored with the topic.
8gwern5yA few points here: * we already know European and East Asian populations are probably the smartest genetically because they are the smartest now phenotypically; this has already been conditioned on, so it's illogical to say 'well, we should expect an African subpopulation to be higher'. The race has already been run and the first and second place prizes handed out, it makes no sense to say 'there were a lot of other runners so maybe one of them is in first place'. * the jury is still out on whether some African subpopulations might approach European/East Asian genetic levels. There is already a wide spread of per capita incomes there. African immigrants to the USA perform famously better than the native Africa-American population, and we don't know if this is solely due to a migrant selection effect. Nigerians in particular seem to do well, IIRC. (Piffer's results don't indicate any African subpopulations like this, but I have a lot of doubts about the method and whether he has enough SNPs or reference genomes to rule out sampling error and systematic biases.) * African subpopulations could be expected to be more closely related than to Europeans or Eastern Europeans, reducing the variability * and of course, selection cannot be ruled out. Selection is pretty important because we still need to explain why intelligence, which is so useful, has not been driven to fixation, and some of the older theories like mutation load are dead in the water, leaving only a few viable theories like balancing selection, which would directly imply that different genetic levels are due to tradeoffs for metabolic resources or faster lifecycles. WP says 30-70% is the usual range, but all of the majority percentages are isolated to small area or are urban areas which make up only a small fraction of national populations in that time period & would be expected to have much higher mortality due to density. In any case, even if the
5Desrtopa5yIt's likely, but I think it's important to remember that there are a lot of environmental factors which can depress IQ, and some populations may have high genetic potential which is being depressed by circumstance. The Dutch are the tallest nationality in the world today, but 150 years ago, they were among the shorter ones; as average height has risen in Western nations, the Dutch significantly overtook various populations that used to be much taller than they were.
3OrphanWilde5yGiven that European and East Asian populations have benefitted from substantial increases in intelligence on the order of at least 20 IQ points since we started measuring (the Flynn effect), it's not illogical at all. Africa is -huge-, with eight distinct mountain-separated geographic areas, and multiple island populations. IIRC, most genetic diversity in the human race exists in Africa. Selection can be ruled out, because it begs a serious question: What selection process is universal across a continent with dozens of distinct biomes which are in no way unique to the continent, but somehow fails to appear anywhere else in the world? Except that Europe wasn't exempt from the disease burden, and had it worse because of population density. Because the genetic drift of each geographically distinct subpopulation is going to be independent, it should really surprise us if they all happen to drift in the same direction. We should expect a normal distribution among subpopulations - meaning that we should expect some of the subpopulations to be smarter than average for global populations, once the Flynn effect is finished and all nutrition and health and society related gained can be made.
4gwern5yThe Flynn effect is dubious and always has been, so this is not much of a counter-argument. No one has demonstrated a meaningful increase in overall intelligence, just on one or two types of subtests, and if you've been following the latest research - since you've surely been reading up on these topics and following Thompson's blog if you are going to authoritatively sweep HBD to the ash heap of history, doubtless - the gains seem to reflect an attitude or conceptual shift rather than any sort of real intelligence gain. These hollow gains are why we see nothing on backwards digit span, nothing on reaction time, nothing on all the other aspects of intelligence, no 10x+ increase in tails/genius as expected from a +1.3SD in means... And yet, those geographic areas are still generally closer to each other and the island populations than they are to East Asia, say, and so my point stands, there will be more gene flow between them than more distant populations. They will be correlated and not as variable as one would expect. Which of the African groups will be highest genetically? I dunno, and it'll be interesting to see what the refined polygenic scores indicate; disease and parasite load might be a red herring and the relevant evolutionary environmental condition completely different. This is true but it does not mean that African populations are more closely related to random non-African populations than to each other. (See also Lewontin's fallacy.) This has as much to do with the rapid expansion of non-African populations from small colonizing populations; the number of variants in a population reflect its long-term size, and humans have been in Africa for hundreds of thousands of years while in some places like South America those populations have been there for maybe 10,000 years at most, so they reflect a lack of initial diversity and not enough mutations have accumulated to make them as genetically diverse as the African population as a whole. Who said it fails
0OrphanWilde5yYes. IQ is pretty obviously at least partially a trainable skill. This doesn't support HBD - and in fact argues against a substantial part of the evidence. Yet Africa has more genetic diversity than anywhere else. You mean a country which LBJ deliberately helped destabilize? The fingerprints of the US are clear on the civil wars which tore apart South America, just as much as the fingerprints of Europe are all over the civil wars which tore apart Africa. You realize portions of Africa are as far South as Europe is North from the equator? If we go back further in history, of course, we see a previous "Great Divergence", between North Africa and far Southern Europe and everywhere else. The northern Europeans were primitive savages during this era. Further back, and North Africa and the Middle East were the seat of civilization.
-2drethelin5yWhy would you ever assume that selection pressures were absent?
-3OrphanWilde5yWhy would we assume a universal selection pressure across a continent spanning dozens of biomes, pretty much none of which are unique to it, and with large geographic distribution such as to produce dozens if not hundreds of distinct population groups?
4gwern5yA universal selection pressure doesn't produce dozens of distinct population groups, it would homogenize them. What would help produce distinct population groups - in addition to the genetic drift and inherent random walk behavior of all partially or wholly separated population groups with non-panmictic mating behavior which would produce large differences anyway - is different selection pressures for different things in different places, potentially varying over time due to environmental and social changes. (Such as, to name one possibility, greater disease burden making intelligence less fit compared to diverting those metabolic resources into faster maturation or more robust immune systems.) Since the Arctic is not Asia is not Africa, there is no surprise that there might be different selection pressures, and the real question is why one would expect selection pressures to be universally identical such that evolution would stop at the neck.
-3OrphanWilde5yThe real question is why you think selection pressures in Africa, which is an extraordinarily diverse continent, would be universally identical such that evolution would stop at the neck. You keep bringing up "disease burden" - okay, I'll bite. What's your evidence that disease burden was substantially different in Africa, as a whole, than anywhere else prior to industrialization?
4gwern5yThis is not a controversial point. Warmer and tropical climates have always had higher parasite and disease loads than colder ones. If you disagree with basic stuff like this, the burden is on you.
-2sight25yAlthough in this case the relevant factor is that since humans originally evolved in Africa, it had more diseases that co-evolved with humans. Hence why South America, which has a cilmate similar to Africa had an even lower disease burden than Europe. At least until Europeans brought Africans, some of whom were infected with African diseases there.
-4OrphanWilde5yYou might want to look at Africa on a map, because it isn't all tropical. You seem to be thinking of Africa as a tiny place with uniform geography and climate and biome - it's not.
2NancyLebovitz5yNow that you mention it, I haven't heard of research on people who have the most varied ancestry.
0Lumifer5yNot quite. You are thinking of breeding people to develop a trait (in this case, intelligence) and are correct that you want diversity in your breeding stock. However what that diversity gets you is not just top-end results. It gets you variance -- basically, you'll get a few geniuses and a lot of idiots. In animal breeding that's not a issue -- you kill off (or prevent from breeding) all the failures and just keep the very few top results. For humans that would be... problematic. So if you encourage greater variance in outcomes and you keep all of them, the question becomes who breeds faster: idiots or geniuses. Let me point out that I'm not optimistic about that question. By the way, empirically people with both black and white ancestry have average IQs between the pure blacks and the pure whites. This seems to indicate that you don't get much by cross-breeding.
0James_Miller5ySometimes animal breeders find that two different breeds nick [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoroughbred_breeding_theories#Nicking] meaning their offspring consistently have more desirable traits than either of their parents do. To the best of my knowledge, this hasn't been observed in humans but then again I don't know if anyone has really investigated the possibility.
-1NancyLebovitz5yMy impression is that breeding from diverse backgrounds gets you hardiness-- mutts are less likely to have the specific genetic ailments you get from purebreds. On the other hand, you're less likely to get extraordinary development of particular traits. On what is possibly the gripping hand, that's dogs who've been selectively bred, which is not the same as people roughly adapted to different environments.
-2Lumifer5yYes, but I think this works on a different scale. Purebred domestic animals are usually heavily inbred, precisely to push a particular trait to new heights. In the standard textbook manner this makes the chances of the animal getting multiple copies of some recessive gene skyrocket, thus the fragility. The human equivalent is marrying your cousins (inbred human populations exist, they usually don't look too good) which is different (scale) than marrying someone from a large enough gene pool (e.g. like all Europeans).
-1OrphanWilde5yNot quite. It depends on who the mother is, and who the father is. But I'm suggesting something slightly different: To the extent we engage in eugenics to improve our genetic lineage, we should be pulling genetics from every stock.
-2Lumifer5yBut we don't and are not very likely to start in the near future.
1OrphanWilde5yGenetic modification isn't that far away, and in some respects with regard to some conditions genetic culling of reproductive cells is already here. Both are forms of eugenics.
2Lumifer5yDirect genetic modification CRISPR-style doesn't require any cross-breeding, you just insert the genes you like and delete the ones you dislike. In any case, this has little to do with the usefulness of HBD claims.

So, we now have some kind of nice, tidy explanation for different characters among different groups of people. Okay. We have a theory. It has explanatory power. What can we do with it? Unless you're willing to commit to eugenics of some kind (be it restricting reproduction or genetic alteration), not much of anything.

I think the first thing politicized HBD advocates would say is to restrict immigration, as this is less controversial than eugenics. Of course, (a) there are many other possible reasons to worry about immigration and (b) you can choose to filter only immigrants with good jobs (at the risk of brain draining the origin country if HBD is true).

HBD doesn't make any predictions at the individual level we couldn't more accurately obtain through listening to a person speak for five seconds, it doesn't actually make any useful predictions. It adds literally nothing to our model of the world.

Firstly, you need more than five seconds to assess someone's intellegence, otherwise job interviews would be over very quickly.

Secondly, it is difficult to assess things like propensity towards criminal behaviour, since anyone can claim not to be a criminal.

Thirdly, and of most ... (read more)

2gjm5yOrphanWilde is claiming not that you get all the information you need in 5 seconds, but that you get as much information in 5 seconds as you do from just knowing the candidate's skin colour[1]. 5 seconds is an awfully short time, but make it a minute and I think he's probably right. And there is much evidence that the outcome of an interview is often mostly decided very, very early on, the rest of the interview serving mostly as rationalization fuel. [1] This is, like everything else in this discussion, conditional on "HBD" being correct and skin colour therefore giving useful information (in expectation) about a person's cognitive abilities.
-2skeptical_lurker5yI'd be inclined to agree, but that's not what he said. What he said is that in 5 seconds you can gain not just as much information as from knowing the race, but so much more information that the racial information is rendered completely irrelevant. This is wrong, if HBD is right.
2gjm5yYes, it is wrong, and I already said so myself [http://lesswrong.com/lw/njj/suppose_hbd_is_true/d8w5]. (In fact, as it happens I said it before you did.) I wasn't claiming that everything you said is wrong; only that you misunderstood one claim OrphanWilde made. (You yourself split up your objections into "First", "Second", and "Third"; I was commenting only on the "First".)
2skeptical_lurker5yI'm not trying to argue with you, sorry if I came across like that. In fact I've already upvoted your comments in this discussion.
2gjm5yIt would appear that others have a different opinion of them :-).
0OrphanWilde5yEugine was present, and probably engaging in his usual downvoting habit.
0gjm5yThat is a fine explanation for the downvotes, but you will notice that my comments also came in for some pretty severe criticism from Lumifer and buybuydandavis, neither of whom (so far as I know) is an alias of Eugine.
-4OrphanWilde5yI understand Bayesian probability. I also understand that human beings aren't perfect Bayesian updaters, and find the arguments founded the basis that a theoretical mind operating on optimal rationality could get more information to be not-even-wrong. No. Correct. No, I'm not pretending humans are perfectly rational agents that can successfully utilize relatively low levels of information.
2skeptical_lurker5ySo your argument is that the information conveyed by HBD is so low that humans can't perceive it? IIRC the threshold for updating for the average person is 1/3 - increasing a Bayes factor by less than this is below the threshold of perception. Some HBD people claim that people of African descent are one standard deviation below normal IQ, and Ashkenazi Jews are one standard deviation above. Mensa is open to people of about IQ three standard deviations above normal. [edit: apparently its only two, but I'm leaving the following calculation unchanged] If the HBD people are correct, and the standard deviations are the same, then Ashkenazi Jews are 718 times* as likely than African people to have Mensa-level IQ. IIRC the difference in crime rates between Blacks and Asians is also quite large (>10x). Now, I'm not saying the HBD people are correct here - that's not my field - but the claims they make do concern very large differences which even a far from optimal Baysian updater could make use of, if the claims are correct. *From running in python: import scipy scipy.stats.norm.cdf(-2)/scipy.stats.norm.cdf(-4)
6Viliam5yIt's two standard deviations. (source [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensa_International#Membership_requirement])
2skeptical_lurker5yFixed, thanks.
-2OrphanWilde5yWhat's the difference in expected crime rate between a black man in a suit and an Asian man in a suit? What if it's merely business casual? What if it's jogging paints and a paint-covered t-shirt? What if they're both wearing clothes signaling clear gang affiliation? Once you consider more relevant information, race adds little to no additional information, meaning using it is more likely to move you -away- from the correct answer than towards it.
2skeptical_lurker5yThe thing about suits is its a signal that can be faked, if you have enough money. Perhaps that is why the mafia wear suits (source: TV), so it can help give the impression of being legitimate businessmen. Sure, in extreme cases such as wearing gang colours or tats that gives a lot of information. But some gangsters wear suits, and not all crime is organised crime, and I'm sure that perfectly ordinary businessmen who have no gang affiliations whatsoever commit crimes sometimes. In many circumstances race does give comparitivly little knowledge. Asian women commit violent crimes far less then black men, but if an Asian woman's fingerprints are on the murder weapon, then its her that the police should investigate. On that note, there are also large differences between men and women. I am a man, but I concede that while it may be sexist for a woman to be far more worried about male assailants than female assailants, this behaviour is also perfectly rational. WRT domestic violence the police do automatically assume that the man is the perpetrator, which is more likely than not the case, but also leaves the system open to abuse if being male is considered sufficent grounds for arrest in absence of any supporting evidence. The interesting thing about comparing the black/asian difference and male/female difference is that the side which supports discrimination based upon the difference is the left in one case and the right in the other, so its interesting to see whether people have a consistent opinion across both cases. One debate tactic is to counter "all men are potential rapists" and "men should be taught not to rape" is to compare with statements replacing sex with race, like "teach black people not to steal" in an attempt to expose underlying hypocrisy. Of course, these two cases are not exactly symmetrical. For anyone approximating a Baysian reasoner, for more information to move you away from the truth is absurd. However, I do acknowledge that any discrimina
4Lumifer5yThe children's cartoon Dora the Explorer which is heavily oriented towards Hispanics has a resident character named Swiper [http://dora.wikia.com/wiki/Swiper] who tends to steal stuff. In a lot of episodes Dora and friends stand around loudly yelling "Swiper, no swiping!" X-D
2DanArmak5yThis police assumption likely increases the number of falsely accused and convicted men, and of wrongly non-accused or acquited women. The justice system sometimes has very high conviction rates (i.e. persons convicted out of those brought to trial): above 90% for federal cases in 2001-2012 (random Google link to a PDF link from 2012 [https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/usao/legacy/2011/09/01/10statrpt.pdf] ). Therefore, one must ask what independent evidence we have about how much more likely men are to be the perpetrator in domestic violence cases.
0skeptical_lurker5yThis is a good point. Given that men commit more violence in general, it seems likely that they commit more domestic violence. However, I'm not sure that there is much evidence as to how large this difference is. One could look at the rates of domestic violence in male and female gay relationships, as this removes the 'the man is always arrested' bias, but there is evidence of differences in violence behaviour between gay and straight people, so this wouldn't help all that much. Perhaps look at the rates of mothers vs fathers beating children?
2DanArmak5yDifferent kinds of domestic violence (against children, spouses, parents, etc.) have significant psychological or behavioral differences. I don't want to generalize from "parents of gender X more likely to beat their children" to "people of gender X more likely to beat their spouse" without evidence. In any case, how do you propose to look at the rates of any kind of violence? If we don't trust data from the justice system, or from the police, and we obviously can't trust self-reporting and surveys, then what do we do? All data is relative to a definition of what constitutes domestic violence. Fifty or a hundred years ago, men raping their wives wasn't violence. Today, some surveyors (or police or judges) sometimes consider a wife hitting or raping her husband not to be violence, but the husband hitting his wife to be violence. We need to agree on a definition of violence, and then to find a reliable data source that uses the same definition.
0skeptical_lurker5yWell, this is one of the many problems with sociology. There are some obvious approaches to use, such as finding crimes which are solved far beyond doubt, such as where there are many witnesses or DNA evidence, and hope this generalises to crimes which are harder to solve, such as domestic violence. Of course, as you point out, these different kinds of violence might not generalise, as different people commit different crimes for different reasons. So I really don't know what to do about crimes that happen in private where there are no witnesses, short of putting cameras in every room of every house.
0sight25yAnd yet you belive yourself sufficiently rational that you can foresee all the implications encouraging people to believe things likely to be false [http://lesswrong.com/lw/uz/protected_from_myself/].

I'll state for the record that I disagree with most of the OP, but I won't go into a detailed discussion because it will take a lot of time and because it's the classic LW minefield a walk through which is likely to generate more heat (typically in the form of explosions) than light.

Eh, you are doing the thing where you want trades to be one sided. Like, wouldn't it be cool if bigotry was not only unfair, but also didn't save any time.

"HBD doesn't make any predictions at the individual level we couldn't more accurately obtain through listening to a person speak for five seconds,"

Like, judging folks by whatever apparent trait you prefer is instant. Saying (paraphrased) "But instead we can individually judge them after a short conversation". is cheating. It's like arguing against including auto dial in a phone, be... (read more)

2OrphanWilde5yInsofar as you can look at somebody, you can look at their clothes, which are far better signals. If you're looking for the guy who might mug you, the black guy with a button-up shirt and tie shouldn't even come up in your radar. Names contain more information than race, however, they are also strong signals of cultural upbringing, which again, is a far better signal than race. Bradley is more likely to be upper-class than Brad. Phineas is better than either. Anytime you can use race to make a quick assessment, there's a better signal that you could be using instead, just as quickly and easily. Namely, the signals that people choose for themselves, which will say far, far more about them than the qualities they didn't.
5WalterL5yI was kind of simplifying for ease of explanation. Obviously, filtering isn't a one and done. It's a process, yeah? Like, Michael Vick isn't likely to mug me, for a variety of reasons, but the most obvious is that he isn't here. He's also rich, and surrounded by photographers, but this pales in comparison to the filter of "not present". The first filter gets rid of the black dude in the suit and tie. He isn't here. He's off somewhere else. The setting of "be mugged" is not an environment where ties are worn. I look around, there are a variety of sketchy folks. The ladies (if there are any) are overwhelmingly the safer choice to ask for help. Sexist? Sure. True. Yep. Should I instead ask each of the rough looking folks a quick survey to figure out whether any of them are explicitly pacifists? Also...like, race/sex/whatever influence the choices that people make. If you want me to filter (as one of many filters, the first of which was "submitted their resumes to this job) on a choice instead of a category, it's usually going to be a one for one deal. Like, if I toss all the resumes named Jerome, I may not be explicitly racist, but come on.

affirmative action already takes different base expectations into account (if you live in a city of 50% black people and 50% white people, but 10% of local lawyers are black, your local law firm isn't required to have 50% black lawyers, but 10%).

I didn't know this. Could someone please give me a link confirming that affirmative action quotas depend on specific city?

Still, I can imagine a city where most members from some minority live on one side of the city, and your company is on the other side of the city, and you will be called racist simply because people don't like to commute to the opposite side of the city.

It's further back the pipeline than hiring - there just aren't very many black programmers - so trying to solve the problem at the hiring stage is solving the wrong problem.

-1Matthew_Opitz5yThat just pushes the question back one step, though: why are there so few black programmers? Lack of encouragement in school (due to racial assumptions that they would not be any good at this stuff anyways)? Lack of stimulation of curiosity in programming in elementary school due to poor funding for electronics in the classroom that has nothing to do with conscious racism per se? (This would be an environmental factor not having to do with conscious racism, but rather instead having to do with inherited lack of socio-economic capital, living in a poor inner city, etc.) Lack of genetic aptitude for these tasks? HBD could be relevant to how we address this problem. Do we mandate racial-sensitivity training courses, increased federal funding for electronics in inner-city schools, and/or genetic modification? Even if we do all three, which should we devote the most funding towards?
0OrphanWilde5yI'd hazard a guess it comes down to vitamin D deficiency. Without vitamin D supplementation, which few people do seriously, a society which revolves around staying indoors most of the time would be most problematic for people whose skin is evolved for a significantly higher degree of sunlight, as opposed to white people, whose skin evolved for relatively little and to maximize vitamin D production on what little they do get.
2James_Miller5yAlong similar lines, I've wondered if everyone in the U.S. going on a paleo diet would significantly lower the racial achievement gap. It would be ironic in the extreme if fear at looking into biological causes of group differences prevented us from finding easy-to-implement solutions to the achievement gap.
-2sight25ySo? A lot of said initiatives atempt to intervene further back in the pipeline as well.
2NancyLebovitz5yAnd torch [http://lesswrong.com/user/torch/overview/].

Do you also think that "HBD is false" makes no predictions and has no policy implications?

-4OrphanWilde5yCorrect. There are things that work (and work best on lower-IQ segments of the population - the Flynn Effect), and we can do them. "HBD is true" might have policy implications for the future - when both the benefits of nutrition, literacy/education (literacy appears to increase IQ), and healthcare have maxed out - but we're not in that universe right now.

You argue that (conditional on HBD, presumably in a version in which some gross trait like skin colour is informative about interesting things like intelligence) there's no point in anyone using race information, because (even with that hypothesis) there are other more informative ways of judging their intelligence.

But "there are other signals more informative than X" doesn't imply "there's no point looking at X". You may well get more information from someone's dress and accent and two minutes of talking to them than you get from their... (read more)

Widely-agreed-on HBD would provide a lot of cover for horrible racists

That's a very horrible reason for deciding to delude oneself about reality.

0gjm5yThere's no such thing as a good reason for deciding to delude oneself. But if investigating something has little apparent upside (e.g., if OrphanWilde is right or nearly right that, conditional on HBD being right, knowing it to be right wouldn't actually be very useful) and a likely outcome is making it easier for unpleasant people to do unpleasant things, that might be quite a good reason for not investigating it.
5Lumifer5yand Methinks these two things are very very similar. In almost all cases when one says "I will carefully avert my eyes and not look over there", one is deluding oneself. But your comment was an... interesting one. I did not expect such a clear case of "Screw the truth if it will offer succor to the enemy".
3gjm5yThat is neither what I said nor what I meant. (LW is interestingly opposite to the rest of the world on this stuff. In both cases, not taking an uncompromising position gets you jumped on. It just happens that the uncompromising positions you're expected to take are opposite to one another.)
1Lumifer5yOf course, that was a patented snarky one-liner interpretation :-) Dialing it down a couple of notches, what you said was that you'd much prefer not to look into a particular corner because what you could find there might be helpful to people you dislike. And hey, there is that guy on teh internets who thinks the corner is empty, anyways! The issue here, by the way, is not whether your position is uncompromising enough, the issue is whether it's coherent and consistent with other views you've expressed.
-2gjm5yNope, still neither what I said nor what I meant. Sorry, don't believe you.
6buybuydandavis5yTherefore manipulate those loathsome peasants with lies and suppress the truth to keep the peasants in line. The Noble Lie. Unfortunately:
1TheAncientGeek5yIf the baseline level of noble lies is zero, then it would make sense to keep it there, as a Schelling fence. However, I doubt that any society has a baseline of zero.
0buybuydandavis5yDo you have Noble Lies that you approve of? Or is the whole trick of Noble Lies that you'd never admit that they are lies? When people say crazy, obviously false things, I more and more wonder how much of what they are saying are things they don't believe themselves, but are just saying to go along with what others say, or manipulate others in Noble Lie fashion.
0TheAncientGeek5yNoble lies we approve of seem to us to be truths. Noble lies we dont approve approve seem to plain old lies..."crazy, obviously false things". So almost everybody thinks they are living ina Noble Lie free world. Noble lies of the right include "my tribe is objectively better than everyone else's" and "his majesty was placed on the theone, by God". Obsessing about four point differences in IQ is a version of the former.
0buybuydandavis5yDoesn't seem that way to me. If I tell a Noble Lie, I don't believe it (in the epistemic sense), but intend others to do so. If I spread a claim I think is true and it is in fact false, I'm just spreading a falsehood that I'm unaware of.
0TheAncientGeek5yIf what I say is correct, you would not be able to tell, solipsistically, if you believed in any lies that seemed true to you. You need to start with other people's lies, in particular by thinking about how persistent crazy ideas could fulfil an instrumentaal purpose.
1gjm5yThat is neither what I said nor what I meant. Yes, I agree, it could do that and that would be bad.
0buybuydandavis5ySo what did you mean? I thought the clear implication was that you favored suppressing the truth about HBD because you felt it would give bad people breathing room to do bad things. Or you just think that other people favored suppressing the truth about HBD on those grounds?
1gjm5yFirst: Not "suppressing the truth" but "not expending effort looking into something whose widespread belief would have bad consequences". Second: I said nothing about my own preferences, but about "why there is not much appetite (in most circles) for discussing (etc.)". Third: I do not advocate, neither do I think those opposed to "HBD" generally advocate, telling lies. Fourth: so far as I know, I don't regard anyone as "loathsome peasants"; in my idiolect "peasant" is not an insult, and the racists I know are mostly not peasants either literally or metaphorically. What you're doing here is taking what I wrote, finding the worst kinda-sorta-semi-defensible interpretation of it you can, and expressing it in ways clearly intended to make me look as bad as possible. Apparently you think that's a reasonable way to treat someone else; to my mind it's an act of hostility as overt as breaking my windows or my nose, though of course much less actually harmful.
4Lumifer5yI notice you're unusually curt and tetchy.
1gjm5y"Cet animal est très méchant: Quand on l'attaque, il se défend."
0Lumifer5yThe key word was "unusually".
0gjm5yAnd my point is that in this discussion I am being misrepresented and attacked unusually much. (I also happen to have an unusually strong dislike of the style of debate that proceeds mostly by insinuations, unstated implications and sideswipes, and have had for many years.)
1buybuydandavis5yWhen I see what I consider to be intellectually dishonest passive aggressive innuendo, I will often respond with a little hostility (closer to annoyance than the hostility I'd associate with breaking someone's nose) and convert the passive aggressive stance to an overtly aggressive interpretation to hopefully get past the bullshit and see if we can openly discuss the innuendo. It seems not.
1gjm5yThat's very curious, because "intellectually dishonest passive aggressive innuendo" is pretty much exactly how I would describe your response [http://lesswrong.com/lw/njj/suppose_hbd_is_true/d8yq] to me, and I honestly can't see that I've engaged in anything of the kind. So clearly we have a failure of communication. I'm not sure what open discussion you want to have that you think I'm avoiding, but let me try making a few things more explicit. * I do not know whether any HBD-ish thesis is true. I think it entirely possible that some might be. My impression is that what evidence there is almost all points that way, but that much of the evidence in question is really questionable in various ways, and the whole field is severely enough politicized (and difficult enough on account of a zillion confounding factors, not to mention weirdnesses like the Flynn effect) that I wouldn't be surprised to find a large fraction of the work in the field total crap. * I have not put a lot of effort into investigating HBD-ish claims, not because I fear that my doing so would somehow give cover to horrible racists[1] (I don't see how it would) but because I have only so much time and energy, and investigating HBD doesn't seem to score very well in terms either of fun or of utility. * I think some HBD advocates are horrible racists[1]. I think some HBD advocates are very much not horrible racists. So far as I can tell from introspection, my working assumption is that people who gleefully bring up HBD theses at every opportunity are more likely to be horrible racists, whereas people who merely say "yeah, probably" when asked about it are likely not to be. * So far as I can recall, nothing I have said on LW has been intended to insinuate that any other LWer is a horrible racist, with the possible exception of Eugine. * When I said that one reason why a lot of people are not keen on investigating HBD theses is that the most like
-3flame25yYou mean like all the Al Sharpton-style black demagogues? There are certainly a lot more of those people than there are white people satisfying your definition of "horrible racist".
0OrphanWilde5yThe issue isn't that there isn't extra useful information, the issue is that we're pretty terrible at quickly processing variable dependence to arrive at correct answers, where rapid processing is part of the situation in consideration. In that kind of situation, clothing alone will tell you more than clothing plus race - not because you couldn't arrive at a better answer given more information, but because the additional information is almost certainly going to be overweighted by virtue of the brain not having a good intuitive handle on either dependent variables or small numbers.
0Matthew_Opitz5yI don't know...would clothing alone tell you more than clothing plus race? I think we would need to test this. Is a poorly-dressed Irish-American (or at least, someone who looks Irish-American with bright red hair and pale white skin) as statistically likely to mug someone, given a certain situation (deserted street at night, etc.) as a poorly-dressed African-American? For reasons of political correctness, I would not like to share my pre-suppositions. I will say, however, that, in certain historical contexts (1840s, for example), my money would have been on the Irish-American being more likely to mug me, and I would have taken more precautionary measures to avoid those Irish parts of town, whereas I would have expected the neighborhoods inhabited by free blacks to have been relatively safe. Nowadays, I don't know what the statistics would be if you measured crimes perpetrated by certain races, when adjusted for socio-economic category (in other words, comparing poor to poor, or wealth to wealthy in each group). But many people would probably have their suspicions. So, can we test these intuitions to see if they are just bigoted racism, or if they unfortunately happen to be accurate generalizations?

No. Efforts at "diversity in tech" could still lead to a more optimal match of skills to jobs.

HBD does not deny that there may be biases limiting the hiring of quality of applicants, it would just deny that differential outcomes are prima facie evidence of such biases.

Still plenty of implications for eugenics.

P(Child_IQ | Mommy_Race,Mommy_IQ, Daddy_Race,Daddy_IQ) may still vary by race, so that there are plenty of implications for eugenics.

Such as this being false:

If the point is to raise the average, the population group doesn't matter.

I'd expect some reversion to the mean of the race, where Mommy_Race = Daddy_Race . Anyone got stats on that distribution?

I'd expect a broadening of the distribution where Mommy_Race <> Daddy_Race, and variability by race combination.

I think most of the allure of HBD comes from factors which are harder to measure than intelligence, like altruism or stronger bounds to kin and smaller bounds to state / nation / whatever. In general the point that some people are "better suited" for life in clan structure and some for life in other structures. I don't think you adressed any of this.

[Disclaimer: I'm not a proponent of HBD, so I don't guarantee to sum up the position correctly.]

-1OrphanWilde5yIt's not an argument I've encountered before with respect to HBD; I have encountered it in alt-right articles, but never in the same context as HBD. But insofar as there are such factors, given that we can't measure them, the evidence isn't exactly there.
-1Huluk5yWe can't measure them on an individual level; especially not on immigration where people can pretend to care more for laws. In contrast, people cannot really pretend to be of higher IQ. We can however get estimates for groups of people or people who do not have to fear negative consequences for "wrong" answers. Personally I'd assume that these differences are more cultural than genetic, so I don't think the argument for separation holds. But I can look up original HBD posts regarding this topic later. Edit: First I found, HBD chick has a ton of these, I think. https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/family-types-and-the-selection-for-nepotistic-altruism/ [https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/family-types-and-the-selection-for-nepotistic-altruism/]

As I understand it, HBD would also consider such racist questions as to whether or not cognitive traits that made civilizations form and advance in the first place are in part genetic or not. For example, Africa sort of went through the bronze and iron age as well, but the outcome was totally different. In mesopotamia writing was developed very early on and through large empires advancements were spread across vast regions. Although writing and other technologies reached Africa as well, they were adapted very poorly and even lost quickly over time. In Afri... (read more)

People seem to focus only on intelligence in these discussions. Does anyone not notice the racial composition of many pro sports teams?

Historically there may be causal reasons for differences in group capabilities. Are there studies, say, of the effects of celibacy in Catholic priests in the middle ages as causes for losing intelligence genes in the affected populations? Could there have been an effect of selecting for less intelligence in capturing slaves in Africa (populations would know there were kidnappers about; not everyone got captured, so why not... (read more)

I don't know anything to speak of about Al Sharpton. Horrible racism in the sense I describe is certainly not limited to white people. FWIW my guess at its relative prevalence differs from yours, but in any case I would expect HBD theses to be much more popular with white racists than with black racists. (Hi, Eugine.)

Unless you're willing to commit to eugenics of some kind (be it restricting reproduction or genetic alteration), not much of anything.

You don't actually need to do explicit eugenics to change population patterns. China had the same demographic development as Taiwan did. China's birthrate also rose directly after adopting the one-child-policy. Culture seems to be a much stronger factor then direct policies.

[-][anonymous]5y 0

HBD is similar to atheism some years ago, or heliocentrism some centuries ago. The evidence points one way and public opinion points another way. Many people will argue like this:

1) Believing the truth will encourage evil thinking, so we should believe the lie.

2) Believing the truth has no policy implications, so we might as well believe the lie.

3) Believing the truth is too politicized, so I'll claim neutrality and believe the lie.

But some people will reply, with childlike sincerity, that the truth is worth believing in. Otherwise why are we here?

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

So you're saying the social sciences are failing because black people are less intelligent than white people and they can't admit it.

Okay. How would one go about falsifying this belief of yours? What evidence would change your mind?

4Matthew_Opitz5yOne argument could be that many social scientists are being led down a blind alley of trying to find environmental causes of all sorts of differences and are being erroneously predisposed to find such causes in their data to a stronger extent than is really the case, which then leads to incorrect conclusions and policy recommendations that will not actually change things for the better because the policy recommendations end up not addressing what is the vast majority of the root of the problem (genetics, in this case).

Nope.

But in this case I'm not encouraging people to believe something that is false. I'm discouraging people from having a belief-value in a questionable belief with highly questionable value at all.

[-][anonymous]5y 0

If HBD is true then all the "diversity in tech" initiatives (not to mention Affirmative Action, etc.) are not onlt a waste of money but actively counter-productive.

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Is something supposed to be negated in that sentence?

If the birthrate falls drastically for a decade and then there a policy change and the birthrate rises, that's evidence that suggets that it's not clear that the policy change effectively lowers the birthrate. It's not conclusive evience, but it's evidence pointing in a direction.

They're wastes of money and counterproductive regardless of whether or not HBD is true.

1DanArmak5yDepends on what your goal is. If it's to hire the best workers, then they're counterproductive. If it's to provide equal job opportunities to workers regardless of their quality, then they're productive. If it's to make the ethnic/gender/etc. distributions of each profession and each workplace match the distributions of the country or the world, then they're very productive.
-2OrphanWilde5yNo, they aren't, because, for example in tech, there aren't enough women available to -hire-, regardless of how much affirmative action you pile on.
0DanArmak5yA strategy that is leads to hiring all available women is still very productive, if the alternative would be not hiring all of them. Besides, if you entice women enough (e.g. by guaranteeing employment), then the pool of available women will eventually grow bigger than it would have otherwise. (Whether it would reach parity, or exceed it, is a separate matter.)
-2sight25yDepends on the cause of the lack of blacks in tech. If the cause really is "white racism", in the sense of an irrational bias by whites in tech against hiring blacks, as proponents of those initiatives claim then the initiatives are not only highly useful, but morally necessary. Original thread here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/njj/suppose_hbd_is_true/d8wy].

That's true, and not news to me, but I still don't see why it makes sense as a reply or comment on what I said. HBD being true and a cause of differences in outcomes does not mean it is the only cause of those differences.

That's true, but I'm not sure what your point is here. How is different selection pressure related to the idea that environmental factors also influence outcomes? It's not as if everyone could evolve to perfectly overcome their local environmental challenges and have the same outcomes as everyone else.

-2sight25yEnvironmental factors cause selection pressure on humans. This is what causes HBD.

Yes, and that would likely cause American productivity and wealth to be lower than it is in reality.

-2sight25yYes, and "American" demographics would also be different.

Suppose you introduced the diseases after the US had already been settled, say in 1800?

-2sight25yThe same thing that happened to would be white settlement in Africa. A lot of people without immunity would die of the diseases until medicine advanced enough to deal with it.

Also, if we can admit HBD is true it will become acceptable to publish social science studies whose conclusions make racial differences in inteligence obvious. Maybe, that will help with the current crisis the social sciences are in.

Imagine trying to do astronomy, or physics, without being able to admit that the Earth goes around the Sun. In fact, I caould imagine a 17th century inquisitor making a similar argument to yours about "supposing heliocentrism is true", and he would have had a much better case than you do.

In both case what both you and... (read more)