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October 15, 2012 / JayMan

A snapshot of the problem

This is recent discussion on a Facebook post to which I replied, which demonstrates some of what we’re up against when talking about biological differences between people:

  • [Lady #1]: If you ever want to really depress yourself, look up the male vs. female student ratios of any graduate department of history. (Or, you know, mostly any other field that’s not nursing or social work.) Get your act together, America.

[A bunch of back and forth posts by other people in between]

  • [Me]: Is there anything saying that any academic department needs to have a 50-50 gender balance?
  • [Lady #1]: I don’t see any need for a perfect balance, and I think it’s certainly possible to have a perfectly good department that swings one way or the other. The problem is when it’s almost unheard of to find anything approaching gender equity nationwide. When we’re still at a point in our national timeline where history, the social sciences, and STEM fields in particular show a heavy lean in one direction, we are not doing enough as a society to get women into those fields and then to promote them once they’re through the door.
  • [Lady #1]: And again, I will argue that in the humanities and social sciences, there is a particular intellectual imperative to diversify the pool in as many respects as possible. Having the historical voice dominated by upper-class East Coast European males serves no one well.
  • [Me]: “The problem is when it’s almost unheard of to find anything approaching gender equity nationwide. When we’re still at a point in our national timeline where history, the social sciences, and STEM fields in particular show a heavy lean in one direction” – Why is that necessarily a problem?
  • [Lady #1]: You really don’t think it would be preferable to have more parity? Why not?
  • [Me]: Not necessarily. It’s better to let the ones best suited to the job and most inclined to the job do the job. Sometimes that will be more males, sometimes that will be more females (e.g., early childhood ed, secretarial work, nurses, many fields in the social sciences, particularly psychology, many over 95% female). Interesting fact: gender disparities *rise* in academic fields and in the workplace as you go to countries that are more free and more democratic from those that are less so.
  • [Lady #1]: Can you explain why you seem to imply that men are better suited than women in these fields? What makes that so? Also, are you aware that the fields you cite as female-dominated are among the most underpaid historically? Do you still find that acceptable?
  • [Lady #1]: Also, while it’s true that about 70% of recent psychology PhDs are female, it is also true that the percentage going into research and tier-1 professorial positions plummets. Most women earning psychology PhDs are going into outpatient practice and not earning a whole lot more than social workers.
  • [Lady #2]:  From my perspective, as a STEM graduate, the problem is that cultural biases — and our own blinders as people immersed in them — obscure who the ones best suited to the job really are. It’s all too easy to end up in post hoc reasoning — “the fact that people didn’t end up in a particular career path means they weren’t really good at it or weren’t really interested” — but that doesn’t make it true; people can have tons of aptitude, and may have had initial interest or the capacity for tons of interest in other circumstances. And if cultural factors disproportionately prevent certain people from attempting certain fields, or gaining enough proficiency to know if they have real aptitude or passion, how can we possibly be sure we’re getting the best suited people? It seems at least as likely that we are *missing* the best minds, from people who never entered in the first place. [Classic HBD-denial reasoning par excellence] There’s a really good book, Unlocking the Clubhouse, about the experience of prospective, actual, and dropped-out women CS majors at Carnegie Mellon in the late 1990s, and it chronicles the ways that factors that have nothing to do with aptitude or interest can keep people out of the field. (As someone who went to a different engineering school in the late 90s, and never considered majoring in CS because of cultural factors [about those cultural factors, see my third point about group cohension in the blog post linked below] and despite pretty clear aptitude, I found that just about every sentence of it rang true.) So if we lived in the hypothetical perfectly-equal universe, where people had equal access to fields of study and endeavour regardless of their gender or race or class or what-have-you? It’s quite possible that even there, we’d find fields whose ratios were nothing like 50/50. But the fact that they aren’t 50/50 here is not evidence that they wouldn’t be there.
  • [Me]: Check this out here. Please read it through to end to get what my thoughts are exactly on the matter:
    The Leaks in the Pipeline Found? | jaymans.wordpress.com
  • [Lady #1]: Also, do you really believe it’s simply an issue of willingness and inclination to do the job? You don’t think there are social factors at play that make male success in these fields more viable? Be aware that I have the whole evening to continue [plucking] your argument apart. 🙂
  • [Me]: As well, as you have all evening, you may be interesting in watching this (really, the whole series) to get an in-depth discussion of the issue: (Harald Eia’s Brainwash series)
  • [Me]: Starting here:
  • [Lady #1]: Lady #2, your last paragraph said what I have to say so much better than I have been, I think. 🙂 I’m perfectly willing to entertain the idea that, all things equal, women may not be as interested in these fields as men. But it’s ridiculous to think we’re anywhere near the point of having the social luxury of knowing for sure, and there’s enough empirical evidence of the glass ceiling to make arguing against its existence pretty ridiculous.
  • [Lady #1]: JayMan, you’re really going to let a widely debunked comedian’s “documentary” make your argument for you? [ad hominen invoked] I expect better from you. 🙂 Still awaiting your reasoning as to why men are more naturally-equipped to study any of these fields, especially the more intuitive ones. [Though I’ve already supplied my blog post and the Brainwash series]
  • [Me]: There actually *isn’t* a lot of evidence for a “glass ceiling” (there is some, as you see in my blog). But, that’s not the point. People use gender disparities, by themselves, as evidence *for* these glass ceilings and hidden discrimination. You can’t do that — by themselves, gender disparities mean nothing. Equality of opportunity doesn’t imply equality of outcome, and hence, *inequality* in outcomes doesn’t imply (nor does it disprove) inequality in *opportunity*.
  • [Me]: Lady #1, please read my blog and watch the videos. 🙂 The *argumentum ad hominem* isn’t really a fair way to seek truth in any situation…
  • [Lady #2]: 1) I was a math major. I took probability. I understand the argument Summers was making, and I did not pillory him for it at the time, precisely because most of the people who were did not appear to understand probability [and still don’t], and there are subtleties that are worth taking into account, or at least not dismissing out of hand. I also think that his argument overstates the importance of IQ.1a) And *even if* Summers’ argument is dead-on correct (and I’m willing to entertain that possibility), letting our cultures be conditioned too heavily on the group rather than the individual odds will shut out individuals who ought to be at any given table, as you note in your point about cultural homogeneity.2) The argument I’m making is not really about sex discrimination. Yes, that can be a part of it, but it also doesn’t have to be.3) I’m a mom. I could rant all day about the points with children. Yes, there’s an inescapable biological asymmetry there, and yes, availability of childcare is enormously important. But I will question the hell out of the implied assumption that childcare is a woman’s problem (yes, it is in practice, and that’s a huge problem, and again, anything that proceeds from it cannot possibly be taken as evidence for aptitude or interest in the ideal society). And I will also question the hell out of the assumption that being a mom has to wreck your career. Yes, I know about the earnings potential thing that happens — though that rests, again, on the myriad and subtle (as well as the really big) ways that childcare remains, even in egalitarian households, primarily the woman’s problem. But I’ve also had the experience personally of being dramatically *better* at my career — more organized, more ambitious, and enormously more successful on every possible scale — since having a kid. And those employers who assume that I’ll just have a kid and turn out lame can well and truly suck it. [demonstrating the psychology of women discussed by me in this post featured by Steve Sailer—my thanks to him] 4) But really it all comes down to the comment I said before.
  • [Lady #1]: JayMan, I’ve seen the videos before. They’re pretty infamous. As for your post…to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out where to even begin.
  • [Me]: Lady #2, as always, the best solution to the problem is to try to judge people as individuals as much as possible, regardless of gender or race. There are some inescapable complications (children for one — but, I’ve argued for more and more robust maternity leave, but, that can only partially ameliorate the problem, not completely eliminate it), but I think that’s probably the best bet in the vast majority of circumstances.
  • [Me]: Lady #1: Take your time. I’ll be around. 🙂
  • [Lady #1]: Also, if there’s anything I’ve taken from your post so far, it’s that nothing I say will matter anyway, what with me being a feminist and all. 😉 Gotta admit, I don’t often see that as a pejorative outside of Drudge.
  • [Me]: I’m not anti-feminist in the slightest. Just anti-falsehood. Modern feminists do spread a lot of empirically false stuff (though they are not alone in this aspect by any means).
  • [Lady #2]: I’m a fan of your argument for more robust maternity leave, though I’d be a bigger fan were it an argument for more robust *parental* leave — framing it as maternity leave sort of underscores the problem, yes?
  • [Me]: We could do that too. Politically speaking that’d likely be a bridge too far, but I’m cool with it. 🙂
  • [Lady #1]: So I was going to write a lengthy review of your post — in a word: precious — but then I read Dysgenic Fertility Among Blacks? Apparently, Yes | jaymans.wordpress.com, [and then alarm bells sounded, emotions flared up, and all logical reasoning was overridden] and now I have to spend my evening lighting things on fire. Seriously, if you’re going to use your blog to argue your case for you instead of replying to direct questions, you’re going to have to hide things like that from me first in order for me to attempt to take you seriously.
  • [Me]: I don’t walk away from anything on my blog (I would hope not, I wrote it). The facts are the facts. I would recommend reading this post however since you’ve touched on that topic: How Much Hard Evidence Do You Need? | jaymans.wordpress.com
  • [Lady #1]: I trust you’ll understand that I don’t have it in me to click on anything else after that last exposure.
  • [Me]: Why not?
  • [Me]: And no, I don’t understand.

[Though in reality, as I’ve just noted, I understand, all too well.]

  • [Me]: Lady #1, I will say that this demonstrates how intellectual discourse gets shuts down and how the nonsense of the type that Fox News peddles gets spread: when you see a claim you don’t like, it’s probably best to see what the claim is, then analyze and show why it is wrong with facts and reasoned arguments. It serves no one any good to shut down all rational discourse. There’s no way we’ll ever find what’s really the truth, whatever that may be, that way…

As of this writing, still no response from “Lady #1”, by the way. Interesting that, in this instance, the fact that I am a person of color talking about HBD didn’t seem to make one bit of difference…

Half Sigma’s recent words come to mind on this one.

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12 Comments

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  1. Anonymous / Oct 15 2012 6:22 PM

    jayman your last sentence reminded me of watching the rev wright in horror as he spoke to the naacp or maybe the nat press corp. it was during the last election he went on about how blacks didnt do well at white education cause there were left brained or something and that made them fidgety and musical.since discovering hbd im wondering maybe hes a genius
    look im a so called conservative or libertarian and ive grown up on the mean streets of nyc. when i first read the bell curve i wasnt surprised and thought his main point aboout the sorting of high iqs was more interesting i drank my way out od school into construction despite 128 iq bad irsh genes and some good. but ive watched the trades change over 30 years a real brain drain only people with something like alcoholism have any brains now of course affirmative action doesnt help.
    but i meant to say i think i know why the liberals cant face this, its just to horrible its been six months of reading all these blogs and books and the emotions have been quite intense and im a really stoic type found several dead bodies over years i give em cpr if theyre not to far gone or just alert authorities you know napalm in the morning and all. but the implications for America particularly with the immigration and the marxist in control politically we will sink into humiliating decline and whites like my children will end up like whites in south africa and theres no where else to its the same everywhere once euro dominant and i cant discuss this with anyone i have a lot of minority friends im ashamed even though i know truth just is and im dumber than a jew or asian doesnt help. and at a certain point all the excuses you make for a lot of bad behavior becomes harder and harder to convince yourself its only anecdotal..theres no way my university trained friends and family could handle this. its really funny in a way i just bought a house in crown hieghts brooklyn blacks constantly remark how im different i look them in the eye i dont fear them and i dont let stupidity pass but im street savy and quick to lend a hand ive trained dozens of minority appentices who end up respecting me for my high expectations of them.. but my white freinds think im a racist just cause i vote republican and they know some huxtable from grad school whatever.i applaud your honesty i understand youre blasion im sure being higher iq makes this easy for us in a way. oddly ive always been interested in race and politics was quite radical lefty as a kid and still want to fix the world im feeling hopeless lately. ironically id just decided the marxists would self destruct in a mountain of debt and a libertarian dawn would rise from the ashes. forgive my wqriting i type with two fingers
    ps glad no id required to post getting worried about big brother

  2. asdf / Oct 16 2012 1:43 PM

    In your other post you say that people are “far to dumb to consider nuance.” And that may be true as far as it goes. But plenty of people capable of understanding nuance still deny HBD.

    The more likely explanation is, “they have no incentive to consider nuance.” When one is picking a neighboorhood or school even the most blank slatist liberal always chooses white and gentrified because they have a strong personal incentive. By contrast most people don’t get the same thrill from arguing with others on the internet. They are out to win friends and influence people (for their benefit). There is no incentive to have a nuanced view of race in public; you’ll gain nothing from it.

    • asdf / Oct 16 2012 1:46 PM

      And I will add: If holding a view that would be bad is taxing, many people will actually convince themselves (consciously or unconsciously) that it isn’t true (to avoid the pain of cognitive dissonance). However, they may retain the true knowledge deep down to be recalled as needed and then forgotten the next instant. Orwell already covered this concept when he discussed “double think”.

    • asdf / Oct 16 2012 2:17 PM

      Why don’t you convert to political correctness?

      Since you can’t do anything about political correctness, why not just make the best of it?

      Why not exploit the situation instead of moaning about it?

      Do what is expedient – why not?
      *
      Why not make a successful career out of PC – like so many others?

      Why not surrender your private mind to PC, in the same way as you have already surrendered your public behaviour?

      By having any reservations at all, you are making yourself miserable – why not simply cast-aside those reservations?

      Just say an inner yes to what you will, anyway, be forced to do…
      *
      Since you necessarily inhabit the thought prison that is political correctness –then why not, at least, become one of the ‘trustys’ among the inmates – to assist with the smooth running of the gaol, and get yourself a few privileges.

      Why not, indeed, strive to become one of the guards? Somebody has to do the job? Maybe you could temper the severity of the regime?

      And herein lies the particular temptation for the intellectual elite – a temptation few resist.

      That (literally) soul-destroying pragmatism by which (for eminently sensible reasons) we quietly, by gradual degrees, change sides in the spiritual battle of the world: that unseen warfare between The Good and that which opposes The Good.
      *
      Well why not?

      There is no earthly reason why not.

      In a world of pervasive and powerful PC, there is really only one compelling reason for holding back and resisting in any way, shape or form – which is that embracing political correctness will shrink your soul.
      *
      If you do not believe in the soul, this reason will carry no force at all: so by your own calculations you are stupid to resist PC.

      Or, if you believe the soul is inviolable, and that nothing you think or do can affect the soul: then also, by your own calculations, you are stupid to resist PC.

      If you do not believe in Natural Law (innate knowledge of The Good), and that breaking Natural Law harms the soul: then logically you should learn to love PC.
      *
      If you do not believe in the reality of transcendental good – then you might as well go with the flow, allow yourself to be re-programmed: to learn, by regular practice, to re-label lies as truth, ugliness as beauty, evil as virtue; until PC has entered into your heart and soul, as well as pouring into your ears and out-from your mouth.

      *
      But political correctness is nihilism; therefore it is not merely political: it is also existential.

      To fight against political correctness is therefore ultimately an existential act: a battle to preserve the eternal soul.
      *
      But if you do not believe that political correctness will harm your eternal soul: then you would be well-advised to suck it up.

      Why not?…

    • JayMan / Oct 16 2012 3:04 PM

      You know, Steven Pinker’s anecdote in The Blank Slate about Marlon Brando not really being able to answer Connie Chung when she asked him why he decided to become an actor would probably not have rung with you.

      Why don’t you convert to political correctness?

      Since you can’t do anything about political correctness, why not just make the best of it?

      Probably because I’m a much better truth-seeker than I am a bullshitter… 😉

    • asdf / Oct 16 2012 2:17 PM

      Why is PC so shallow, flippant and reckless?

      The short answer is because PC intellectuals do not think intellectual discourse is serious.

      And they do not think intellectual discourse is serious because they do not think that anything is serious, because they are ‘relativistic’ nihilists (social constructivists) who do not believe in the eternal, unchangeable, objective nature of reality and who will soon be dead, anyway, so why bother?
      *
      PC tactical retreats in the face of serious rational discourse:

      1. Who knows?
      Nothing is certain. Subjective factors interfere everywhere. It is dangerous to claim certainty when none is to be had. Maybe you are correct, deep down, but as we never can know reality then we will never know for sure…

      In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.
      *
      2. Nothing is really real.
      Well, ultimately nothing is real anyway; so whether you are more correct than I am doesn’t really matter, because the universe is ultimately chaos; any apparent order is just a random blip on the road to entropy…

      In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.
      *
      3. It will last my time.
      Maybe you are correct, maybe my views will indeed lead to disaster, maybe currently-promoted behaviour is not sustainable or will destroy itself – but all that matters is that things keep going just long enough until I am gone. After all, when I am dead I won’t know anything about it either way…

      In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.
      *
      4. Death will put an end to it.
      Even if things do not last my time, even if things do become awful – even if they become intolerable – since the ‘immortal soul’ is a childish fiction, death will put an end to my misery – so I can always escape by killing myself…

      In the meantime I might as well enjoy myself, or at least avoid unnecessary suffering.

      *

      Atheism and nihilism therefore serve as a crutch to the politically correct elite.

  3. Kiwiguy / Oct 17 2012 12:14 AM

    Doreen Kimura has published a lot about this. Unfortunately her faculty page doesn’t appear to be available.

    “Women and men differ not only in physical attributes and reproductive function but also in the way in which they solve intellectual problems. It has been fashionable to insist that these differences are minimal, the consequence of variations in experience during development. The bulk of the evidence suggests, however, that the effects of sex hormones on brain organization occur so early in life that from the start the environment is acting on differently wired brains in girls and boys. Such differences make it almost impossible to evaluate the effects of experience independent of physiological predisposition. Behavioral, neurological and endocrinologic studies have elucidated the processes giving rise to sex differences in the brain. As a result, aspects of the physiological basis for these variations have in recent years become clearer. In addition, studies of the effects of hormones on brain function throughout life suggest that the evolutionary pressures directing differences nevertheless allow for a degree of flexibility in cognitive ability between the sexes.”

    http://www.dhushara.com/book/socio/kimura/kimura.htm

  4. Kiwiguy / Oct 17 2012 12:18 AM

    David Friedman makes the point in this post about how leftists tend to claim to believe in evolution, when it comes to discussing the implications they become creationists. I find it useful in these discussions – to just ask at the outset whether the person you’re conversing with believes in evolution (or creationism?). From that framework it’s easier to discuss how differences may arise.

    Friedman writes, in part:

    “Consider the most striking case, the question of whether there are differences between men and women with regard to the distribution of intellectual abilities or behavioral patterns. That no such differences exist, or if that if they exist they are insignificant, is a matter of faith for many on the left. The faith is so strongly held that when the president of Harvard, himself a prominent academic, merely raised the possibility that one reason why there were fewer women than men in certain fields might be such differences, he was ferociously attacked and eventually driven to resign.

    Yet the claim that such differences must be insignificant is one that nobody who took the implications of evolution seriously could maintain. We are, after all, the product of selection for reproductive success. Males and females play quite different roles in reproduction. It would be a striking coincidence if the distribution of abilities and behavioral patterns that was optimal for one sex turned out to also be optimal for the other, rather like two entirely different math problems just happening to have the same answer.

    The denial of male/female differences is the most striking example of left wing hostility to the implications of Darwinian evolution, but not the only one. The reasons to expect differences among racial groups as conventionally defined are weaker, since males of all races play the same role in reproduction, as do females of all races. But we know that members of such groups differ in the distribution of observable physical characteristics–that, after all, is the main way we recognize them. That is pretty strong evidence that their ancestors adapted to at least somewhat different environments.

    There is no a priori reason to suppose that the optimal physical characteristics were different in those different environments but the optimal mental characteristics were the same. And yet, when differing outcomes by racial groups are observed, it is assumed without discussion that they must be entirely due to differential treatment by race. That might turn out to be true, but there is no good reason to expect it. Here again, anyone who argues the opposite is likely to find himself the target of ferocious attacks, mainly from people on the left.”

    http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.co.nz/2008/08/who-is-against-evolution.html

    • JayMan / Oct 17 2012 1:57 AM

      Good point! I posted a similar thought on Facebook and I’m going to have to keep this in mind the next time I discuss this!

  5. M.G. / Oct 17 2012 6:58 AM

    then I read “Dysgenic Fertility Among Blacks? Apparently, Yes,” and now I have to spend my evening lighting things on fire. […] you’re going to have to hide things like that from me first in order for me to attempt to take you seriously.

    This person lives in an echo chamber, unfortunately, and doesn’t seem to be (at this point in her life) capable of asking serious questions about race or sex. In a word, an unserious person. But bless you JayMan, out in the mission field trying to open eyes, an often thankless task…It is in any case fascinating to watch the same mechanisms at work in the brain of a woman like this as with religious fundamentalists confronted with heresy. (Like in this study on ‘heretical counterfactuals’.)

    I wanted to stop in and say congratulations for the shout-out you got over at Steve Sailer. Now that’s encouragement! With work like yours, the conversation on HBD and policy is going to continue to spread, of that I’m sure. As they say in France, chapeau bas.

  6. Anonymoose / Oct 19 2012 2:50 AM

    What should unnerve and perhaps even terrify us is that obviously your interlocutor wasn’t stupid, or incapable of nuance/subtlety. She simply gave in to her basic biases repeatedly, her defenses against unwanted data held.

  7. Meda / Oct 30 2012 3:51 PM

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