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February 22, 2016 / JayMan

Enter Little Miss JayLady

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February 21, 2016 / JayMan

Features and Bugs

(This is also published at The Unz Review.)

A persistent misunderstanding both in the world of HBD and general medical and psychological science at large is the notion of what constitutes a “disorder.” When does a phenotype represent a physiological or behavioral malady? For behavioral issues, most people regard the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as the “final word” on this matter. While the DSM does make some attempt to assess actual impaired functioning, its assessments are tinged by cultural biases. A key component of DSM diagnostic criteria is social judgement of what is “proper” – what constitutes a correctly behaving person, according to the current cultural values?

Indeed, the DSM’s own Wikipedia page captures a many of the book’s problems:

Various authorities criticized the fifth edition both before and after it was formally published. Critics assert, for example, that many DSM-5 revisions or additions lack empirical support; inter-rater reliability is low for many disorders; several sections contain poorly written, confusing, or contradictory information; and the psychiatric drug industry unduly influenced the manual’s content. Various scientists have argued that the DSM-5 forces clinicians to make distinctions that are not supported by solid evidence, distinctions that have major treatment implications, including drug prescriptions and the availability of health insurance coverage.

But its more basic problems go deeper than that.

For starters, what do we mean by a “disorder?” The word implies that something is “out of order” – that is, something is not working as “intended.” Now when we’re talking about living things, that “intended” function is the function that survived the cruel process of elimination that is natural selection. Hence, any concept of a behavioral or physiological disorder must be informed by evolutionary theory. Medicine and psychiatry need to incorporate Darwinian processes.

As I begin, I want to be clear that it should be understood that all human behavioral traits are heritable, with “nurture” as its commonly thought of playing a minimal role to nonexistent role in each (see also Environmental HereditarianismThe Son Becomes The Father, and More Behavioral Genetic Facts). The rest of this post proceeds assuming an understanding of this reality.

However, the people making these assessments, even the “experts,” tend to be evolutionarily illiterate; that is, they have a poor understanding of evolutionary theory. This failing isn’t just academic; in addition to hindering the understanding the nature and origin of these phenotypes, ignorance of Darwinism leads to to difficulty managing and treating them.

This means that there are a host of phenotypes classified as “disorders” that in fact aren’t, as well as a good many that are in fact Darwinian disorders which are not classified as such.

My Twitter followers know that I have been making noise about this problem for some time. And now, enter Durisko, Mulsant, McKenzie, and Andrews, 2016, with their paper “Using Evolutionary Theory to Guide Mental Health Research,” published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.

The authors (who I suspect have read my writing) sum up the problem excellently in their abstract:

Evolutionary approaches to medicine can shed light on the origins and etiology of disease. Such an approach may be especially useful in psychiatry, which frequently addresses conditions with heterogeneous presentation and unknown causes. We review several previous applications of evolutionary theory that highlight the ways in which psychiatric conditions may persist despite and because of natural selection. One lesson from the evolutionary approach is that some conditions currently classified as disorders (because they cause distress and impairment) may actually be caused by functioning adaptations operating “normally” (as designed by natural selection). Such conditions suggest an alternative illness model that may generate alternative intervention strategies. Thus, the evolutionary approach suggests that psychiatry should sometimes think differently about distress and impairment. The complexity of the human brain, including normal functioning and potential for dysfunctions, has developed over evolutionary time and has been shaped by natural selection. Understanding the evolutionary origins of psychiatric conditions is therefore a crucial component to a complete understanding of etiology.

Durisko et al produce a neat chart that analyzes examples:


The sad fact of the matter is that there are some disorders the medical and psychiatric communities are correct in calling disorders but these communities are ignorant about why they are correct. These lead me to the first major cause of mental disorders.

A major challenge any functioning organism faces is genetic load. This is the burden of deleterious mutations that we all carry. For a discussion of this, see Greg Cochran over at West Hunter:

Get Smart
More thoughts on genetic load
The genetics of stupidity
The Golden Age

Intellectual Ambergris

In short, new mutations always arise. The majority of these mutations are neutral or harmful to fitness. Deleterious alleles are selected out at a rate proportional to their fitness impact; the bigger the fitness hit, the faster they are selected out. This means that alleles with mild fitness impacts can persist for many generations. Certain individuals can have more than their fair share of the these deleterious alleles.  In some cases, this leads to mental illness – when there are just one too many things “broken” in the brain. While the individual alleles that are causal to these illnesses are all rare and are all being selected out, new mutations continue to arise, hence, the illness persists in the population – each instance being genetically distinct from all the others.

Mathew Keller and Geoffery Miller detailed how this applies to mental illness in their 2006 paper. Genetic load largely* explains mental illnesses such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Since men generate sperm throughout their lives, older fathers pass on more mutations to their children. Hence, paternal age can be used to gauge the effect of de novo mutations on a phenotype, which is a clue to how much genetic load is involved. Autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder all show paternal age effects – that is, older fathers are more likely to have children with these afflictions (D’Onofrio et al 2014). These conditions are true disorders in the Darwinian sense, although research continues into the genetic architecture of these phenotypes. They are bugs, not features.

So the psychiatrists got these right. But, as we see above, there a host of “disorders” that they got wrong.

The biggest category here are the personality disorders, of which, psychopathy (or “antisocial personality disorder”) being the most prominent. (A review of the heritability of these personality disorders can be found here: Reichborn-Kjennerud 2010.) The rationale for categorizing these phenotypes as disorders in the DSM is as described quite well by Durisko et al (emphasis mine):

The DSM-5 defines mental disorder as “dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.” … (p20) and operationalizes this dysfunction with proxies such as the inability to work, maintain interpersonal relations, and take care of one’s self. Several authors have pointed out the difficulty this approach can have in distinguishing between normal and abnormal behaviour …

Distress, impairment, and inability to function in everyday life [that is, in modern society] are not necessarily indicative of biological malfunction … The normal functioning of the body’s evolved systems can at times be unpleasant and cause suffering.

Durisko et al go on mention childbirth as an example of a biological function though it causes pain and suffering even when it operates as it should, and that’s a good example. I will add that social undesirability is of course another factor that colors the DSM classification, as psychopathy illustrates perfectly.

Many of these “personality disorders” embody phenotypes that are continuously distributed in the population. My earlier post Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality illustrates this to an extent. For example, both anxious and psychopathic tendencies are not distinct categories but rather are continuously distributed in the population. Anxiety appears to relate to the HEXACO Emotionality and perhaps low eXtraversion. And the psychopathic traits are well represented by the Dark Tetrad, which is its own dimension (Honesty-humility) in the HEXACO. What we call “psychopaths” are just individuals who score above an arbitrary cut off on the Dark Tetrad dimension. I have argued that the prevalence of such traits is related to clannishness. What the authors of the DSM have done with most personality disorders is “pathologize” points of normal personality variation that don’t conform to the (very WEIRDO) ideal. These traits are adaptations nonetheless. Psychopathy is a feature, not a bug.

In the chart above by Durisko et al, they talk of “alternating selection” as maintaining many of these traits. Psychopathy (at least in WEIRDO environments – see the list in the beginning of the post Clannishness – the Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain) is commonly thought to be maintained by frequency dependent selection; that is, psychopathy is adaptive at low frequency but becomes maladaptive when it becomes too common.

I suspect that the general idea is correct. However, let me interject here that most discussion of the evolution of human traits ignores recent selection. There is group-level variation resulting from regional differences in selective pressures. To quote Greg Cochran, “every society selects for something“, and what that something is varies by time and place.

Hence, a lot of these ideas on the evolution of human behavioral traits (including the personality “disorders”) suffer from WEIRDO bias. For example, the”optimum frequency” of psychopathy varies from population to population – being much higher in clannish societies.

Indeed, Penke, Denissen, and Miller (2007) claim this is true for all personality traits. That is, variation is human personality is maintained by frequency-dependent selection, with most personality traits being most adaptive when they are found at intermediate frequencies. Of course, as per the above the optimum frequency for each personality trait will be different in different societies. These explain the group-level differences we see in most behavioral traits.

But aren’t there times when the extremes of something which is continuous distributed is bad – too much of a good thing, as it were? Sure. One example may be hoarding. As Cochran explains:

It could be that people, at least some people, just feel like saving, and would do so even if it were economically irrational.

It looks as if saving has had a bigger payoff in recent millennia than it typically did in the distant past. I’m not say that as an iron law, more as a tendency. There may have been ways of saving food for hard times (winter, mainly) quite a while ago, at least in cold climates… at least you’d think so.

Farming must have favored low time preference.

Grain crops can be stored, and seed must be saved for the next growing season.

where saving had higher payoffs, individuals that had a greater innate propensity to save ought to have had higher fitness.   Having lower time preference, acting more like homo economicus , may have been favored, but surely a simple hoarding tendency, more like a squirrel burying nuts for the winter, would have been favored as well.  Maybe there was selection for being more of a squirrel…

Of course there is a distribution of such traits, ranging from a little to a lot.  In a population with a greater mean amount of tendency-to-save, some would do so to a ridiculous extent.  Hoarders.  They may not be equally common in every population.

Anxiety “disorders” may be similar to hoarding in this way. People with extreme levels may just be the unfortunate beneficiaries of genes that were adaptive in their ancestral environments – albeit at more moderate levels.

Speaking of ancestral environments – sometimes a “disorder” arises because of a mismatch between the modern environment and the ancestral environment. An example would be altitude “sickness.” Individuals whose ancestors lived near sea level can have trouble in the lower atmospheric environment found at high altitude, and they exhibit all manner of maladies when at heights.  Here it’s clear that there is no actual disease present; rather the sufferer is outside the environment in which they evolved.

Substance addictions are shining examples of such phenotypes. Typically, the addictive agent was not present in the sufferer’s ancestral environment. Hence, when exposed to a world that has tobacco, cocaine, or alcohol, for example, they can become addicted.

Addicts remain in some societies that have had the offending substance for some time because selection against such afflictions is ongoing. We can see this in action when we look at Europe (from here):

Alcohol consumption in Europe inversely correlates with the length of time each society has practiced agriculture (from here).

See also Firewater | West Hunter.

Type II diabetes and perhaps irritable bowel syndrome may also be examples of these types of phenotypes. Afflictions that stem from environmental mismatch aren’t “disorders” in the Darwinian sense. Rather, there are a turnover in direction of natural selection.

This also, by the way, highlights a key fact about the aforementioned genetic load. There is a key difference between afflictions stemming from environmental mismatch and disorders stemming from genetic load (such as autism, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder). Where as the genes that cause substance abuse or altitude sickness are clearly adaptive in some environments (ancestral ones) and were selected for by evolution, the genes that lead to autism, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia are maladaptive in any environment.* Disorders caused by genetic load are true Darwinian diseases.

The reality of environmental mismatch puts the kibosh on a popular concept in the alt-right sphere, referring primarily to Northwestern Europeans: that is, “pathological altruism.” Specifically, some in this space view the universalist acts of Northwestern Europeans – such as inviting refugees and other immigrants from poor and/or war-torn Muslim countries (despite the higher crime rate and lower socioeconomic performance of these immigrants) – to live in Northwestern European countries as a type of pathology – i.e, a disorder. As Jared Taylor put it (emphasis mine):

We will turn our backs on our own group in the hope that members of other groups will do the same—despite clear evidence that other groups have no such intention.

A somewhat less deceived writer advises that if groups want to act altruistically towards other groups they should at least look for groups that follow the same rules. But this is as far as the book goes. Group pathology leads only to mistreatment of out-groups. Apparently none of the authors can conceive of pathology in which the in-group mistreats itself for the benefit of strangers.

Yet, of course, it is not a disorder.Pathological altruism,” at least when used to refer to this aspect of Northwestern European behavior, is a silly term. 

As I detailed in my post The Rise of Universalism, the universalist behavior of Northwestern Europeans is a natural consequence of their special flavor of reciprocal altruism, which is not strictly kin-centric and views all people (indeed, often non-humans as well) as potential recipients for sympathy. In that post, I explain how modern technology led to an inevitable increase in universalism among Northwestern Europeans – that runaway universalism was inevitable. Clearly an inherited phenotype can’t be a pathology when it is possessed by sizable fractions of the populations under consideration. Rather universalist sentiment is a feature, not a bug (or more accurately, it is the result of a feature).  It’s not even clear that such traits even have a direct negative fitness impact, as it’s not yet been established that such individuals aren’t the most fertile in these countries (though it appears to be presently deleterious in the United States).

Finally, as noted, just as there are phenotypes that are (for cultural reasons) classified as disorders that are in fact not, there are afflictions that are not classified as disorders that in fact are. Most poignant of these is obligate male homosexuality. The DSM long since removed it from its list of disorders. Yet there is no environment where lack of interest in the opposite sex is adaptive. It is literally a Darwinian disease. Yet, homosexuals make up 2-5% of the male population – a far greater fraction than the sufferers of disorders like schizophrenia. Genetic load is unable to explain the existence of such a common fitness-reducing disorder. The only workable explanation for such a common fitness-reducing disorder is a pathogen. 

As detailed by Greg Cochran (as collected in Greg Cochran’s “Gay Germ” Hypothesis – An Exercise in the Power of Germs), the proximate cause of homosexuality is likely damage resulting from an infectious agent. Numerous facts support this, including the very low heritability (< 22%, in stark contrast to most everything else). Indeed, pathogens are the other important source of human maladies, both physical and behavioral. Many diseases that don’t fall under the above category may be found to have pathogenic involvement*.

The primacy of sex drive and sexual reproduction to fitness (without it, little else really matters, evolutionarily) means that evolutionary theory can be used to evaluate other claimed disorders like – asexuality. True asexuality – a complete lack of interest in sex – would be as much a Darwinian disease as would homosexuality, at least for men. This would lead us to expect it to be very rare. And indeed despite earlier claims to the contrary, such appears to be the case (Cranney 2015).

The importance of sex drive is another reason to doubt another claimed disorder (that fortunately didn’t make the DSM V): sex addiction (aka “hypersexuality”). Sex drive is continuously distributed across the human population. This lends itself to the use of arbitrary cutoffs when declaring “pathological” states. Indeed, one Croatian study found that self-professed hypersexual men weren’t all that more sexual than men who simply claimed to be highly sexual – they just feel more ashamed about it. Now, as mentioned above, although continuously distributed traits could lead to “pathological” extreme cases (e.g. hoarding), there doesn’t seem to be much support for this notion in the case of sex addiction.

There will likely always be a level of subjectivity in what human phenotypes we label “disorders.” But at least by proceeding from a Darwinian model, we have a framework with which we can have a reasonable understanding of human disorder, and not continue to make things up to extent we presently do.

*I mentioned the role of pathogens in the existence of persistent human disorders. Greg Cochran and Paul Ewald make the case in their 2000 paper that genes for certain human maladies may stick around because they confer defense against pathogens. Hay fever may be a poignant example of this (Tyagi et al 2015). This may also be true for some genes that cause certain mental disorders.


February 3, 2016 / JayMan

Rebutting Chanda Chisala

(This is also published at The Unz Review.)

Chanda Chisala has been producing pile after pile of nonsense for quite some time. At first, I was content with simply leaving comments at his posts refuting his rubbish because it was rather easy to point out where he was full of baloney. Since then, I’ve been banned by him, mostly for my signature flair. 🙂

I intended to continue to ignore his nonsense since it was such obvious rubbish that it didn’t seem to be worth my (now very precious) time. But then I realized the value of having nonsense essays picked apart for the nonsense they are. Rebuttals are highly valuable to skeptical readers who doubt nonsense but can’t quite put their finger on the problems themselves. So, in that service, I write this rebuttal to Chisala’s latest piece.

Towards a Theory of Everyone

Chisala’s theory is that different human groups differ in the degree of genetic canalization, and that explains the differences in average IQ between groups. It seems he lifted the concept of genetic canalization from Greg Cochran, who I’ll let describe the phenomenon. From Survival of the Flattest | West Hunter :

Genetic canalization is the extent to which an organism is buffered against the effects of mutations. Waddington said “developmental reactions, as they occur in organisms submitted to natural selection…are adjusted so as to bring about one definite end-result regardless of minor variations in conditions during the course of the reaction”. Canalization can act to buffer against environmental perturbations, and selection for resistance to such environmental noise may also produce resistance to genetic noise. But right now I’m thinking about genetic canalization.

Up to some point, the effects of not too many, not too serious mutations would be buffered: those mutations wouldn’t change the phenotype. In the same way, your typical tractor is not designed to nanometer tolerances: parts can be somewhat out of spec – up to some limit – without messing up performance.

Canalization is a product of natural selection. There would be stronger selection for efficient canalization in a species with more genetic load

It might explain why load doesn’t seem to have much effect on IQ over most of the range, why we haven’t seen general IQ depression in the children of old men.

So Chisala’s idea is that certain racial groups have greater levels of canalization, and that makes them more resistant to environmental stresses that might lower average IQ.

Oh God! Where to begin….

It’s hard for me tell if Chisala really believes what he’s saying. Because the truth of the matter is that he’s a bullshit artist, either wittingly or unwittingly. It appears that he has only a superficial understanding of the matters he discusses, and he tries to weave together cherry-picked pieces of information into a seemingly convincing story – at least for those who don’t know any better.

First of all, Chisala is claiming that there are no “genetic” group differences in IQ. Rather, every group has the same average IQ potential, but each group has a different level of canalization, thanks to natural selection (and this is not even genetic canalization – as in resistance to mutations – as Cochran discussed, but resistance to purported environmental insults). This makes each more or less resistant to the purportedly IQ-depressing effects of deprived environment. So first it’s not genetic, but it is? Which is it, man?

I don’t even want to imagine what reaction this particular proposition would garner if you ran it by this guy. —>

Second, Chisala seems to have no understanding of the concepts of elite samples, founder effects, measurement error, sampling bias, or of basic statistical principles like statistics of small numbers. That’s not even to mention his apparent lack of understanding of the breeder’s equation (but at least there he has plenty of company). He seems to be mystified by apparent incongruities he encounters in his cherry-picked (and often outdated) samples because of his ignorance of these important concepts and many other facts.

I’m not going to debunk Chisala’s claims point-by-point, because, really that’s not necessary (and his piece is much to confused to make that a worthwhile endeavor). Instead, I’m going to point out some key facts make his claims ridiculous.

One of those key facts is this:


There are global differences in brain size. Brain size is certainly related to intelligence, both on the individual level (Pietschnig et al 2015) and (even more so) on the group level (though the both the group level and individual level correlations are less than 1.0). In order for Chisala’s idea to work, these environmental insults must also cause certain racial group differences in brain size.

But, as we know, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that environmental insults can affect brain size (see the Zika virus). And sure, sub-Saharan Africa is loaded with pathogens and other environmental insults. But racial differences in brain size are seen between people of European, African, and Asian ancestry in the United States (from Rushton & Jensen, 2010):

Armed Forces Brain Size Rushton Jensen

(At this point, of course, we cue the sociologist’s fallacy invoking the poorer environments of Blacks even in the U.S.) But, Chisala is claiming Blacks are more susceptable to environmental insults that supposedly affect IQ – insults that (save perhaps iodine deficiency) have not been shown to actually impact IQ in any wayI’ll go into more detail in a future post, but there is little solid evidence for a negative impact of most supposed environmental insults on IQ.

For now, I’ll give you Greg Cochran on this (from The Great IQ Depression | West Hunter):

We hear that poverty can sap brainpower,  reduce frontal lobe function,  induce the  fantods, etc.  But exactly what do we mean by ‘poverty’?  If we’re talking about an absolute, rather than relative, standard of living,  most of the world today must be in poverty, as well as almost everyone who lived much before the present.  Most Chinese are poorer than the official US poverty level, right?  The US had fairly rapid economic growth until the last generation or so, so if you go very far back in time, almost everyone was poor, by modern standards. Even those who were considered rich at the time suffered from zero prenatal care, largely useless medicine, tabletless high schools,  and slow Internet connections.  They had to ride horses that had lousy acceleration and pooped all over the place.

In particular, if all this poverty-gives-you-emerods stuff is true, scholastic achievement should have collapsed in the Great Depression – and with the miracle of epigenetics, most of us should still be suffering those bad effects.

But somehow none of this seems to have gone through the formality of actually happening.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that brain structure differs detectably by race, as previously discussed:

a new paper, Fan et al 2015, that the details of cortical surface structure of the brain is highly predictive of genetic ancestry. Indeed, as Fan et al put it:

Here, we demonstrate that the three-dimensional geometry of cortical surface is highly predictive of individuals’ genetic ancestry in West Africa, Europe, East Asia, and America, even though their genetic background has been shaped by multiple waves of migratory and admixture events. The geometry of the cortical surface contains richer information about ancestry than the areal variability of the cortical surface, independent of total brain volumes. Besides explaining more ancestry variance than other brain imaging measurements, the 3D geometry of the cortical surface further characterizes distinct regional patterns in the folding and gyrification.

Indeed, an earlier paper from this team (Bakken, Dale, and Schork, 2011) found that this workswithin racial groups as well, as the case with Europeans (see also the section Intraracial Group Variation below):

In our group’s previous study, we found that area measures of cortical surface and total
brain volumes of individuals of European descent in the United States correlate significantly with their ancestral geographic locations in Europe

Then there is the work David Piffer on polygenetic score. Basically, the known genomic hits to IQ vary in frequency between the different populations highly according to average IQ. From Piffer 2015:

Published Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS), reporting the presence of alleles exhibiting significant and replicable associations with IQ, are reviewed. The average between-population frequency (polygenic score) of nine alleles positively and significantly associated with intelligence is strongly correlated to country-level IQ (r = .91). Factor analysis of allele frequencies furthermore identified a metagene with a similar correlation to country IQ (r = .86). The majority of the alleles (seven out of nine) loaded positively on this metagene. Allele frequencies varied by continent in a way that corresponds with observed population differences in average phenotypic intelligence.

Here is a scatter plot from the paper:

Piffer polygene plot

Going even beyond this, if we follow Chisala’s logic and assume that somehow adverse reactions to the environment are responsible for the size, structural, and performance differences of African brains relative to other groups, then we have another problem: the performance difference between different human groups isn’t a 20th and 21st century phenomenon only – it goes back for the entirety of recorded history.

As we’ve seen before, and as Bryan Caplan recounts, the differences between human groups in development goes back thousands of years – such that level of development as far back as 1000 B.C. is predictive of development today. Indeed, as Easterly, Coming, and Gong (2007) recount:

We assemble a dataset on technology adoption in 1000 B.C., 0 A.D., and 1500 A.D. for the predecessors of today’s nation states. We find that this very old history of technology adoption is surprisingly significant for today’s national development outcomes. Although our strongest results are for 1500 A.D., we find that even technology as old as 1000 B.C. is associated with today’s outcomes in some plausible specifications.

It’s not like the poor performers and the strong performers of today are a new thing. They’ve been poor performers and strong performers throughout history (by and large). Indeed, in sub-Saharan Africa (emphasis mine):

Why this meandering reminiscence of mine about a random ruin in Turkey? Because sub-Saharan Africa has remarkably few ruins for its immense size.

This fact is not well known. It is so hazy in the contemporary mind that Henry Louis Gates managed to sell PBS on a six episode miniseries about African ruins called The Wonders of Africa without, apparently, anybody in PBS management calling his bluff about the lack of wonders that his camera crew would wind up documenting in one of the most boring documentary series of the 21st Century.

By contrast, as we know, there was plenty of development in East Asia and Europe, especially Northwestern Europe:




As Staffan put it, “we can’t adjust for their entire history.”

In any case, this recent nonsense idea of Chisala, aside from running afoul Occam’s Razor, is his attempt to undercut the rebuttal to the deprivation argument. That is, it is a common argument of blank slatists that poverty and other forms of deprivation are responsible for differences in average IQ and national performance. Aside from emptiness of the whole deprivation argument, as noted above, there is the fact (as pointed out by me in Welcome Readers from Portugal!) that outliers to this pattern of deprivation and IQ all perform in accordance to their measured IQ, not according to their level of deprivation. Poor rural Chinese perform nearly as well in IQ and scholastically as the other East Asian societies do. Citizens in wealthy Arab oil states perform as badly as those in poorer ones which lack oil. I’m sure Chisala doesn’t like this particular uncomfortable fact, so I suspect he concocted his feeble theory in part to try to nullify this unwelcome reality.

And finally, there is the fundamental problem that Chisala doesn’t understand either evolution or the formula that guides it, the breeder’s equation. There is no reason to suspect that human groups that have been separated for tens of thousands of years in vastly different environments would be the same in all their cognitive and behavioral qualities. In fact, a priori we should expect them not to be, since such equivalence after so many generations of separate evolution is nigh impossible.

I expected most of this to be obvious, which is why I haven’t paid too much attention to Chisala’s posts. But, I may have overestimated both his impact and people’s ability to spot the obvious, hence, this writing.

Commenters, please be aware of my comment policy.


December 24, 2015 / JayMan

The Chrismas Holiday

Look folks, I say “Merry Christmas” (and not “Happy Holidays”). And quite simply, here’s why:


Even though I am an atheist, the “Happy Holidays” euphemism is stupid.


November 26, 2015 / JayMan

Happy Thanksgiving 2015


Food for thought:


Passeth the cranb’rry sauce! The medieval origins of Thanksgiving

How and why did the dishes served at Thanksgiving dinner come to be so fixed?

Many assume that most of them were simply eaten by the Pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving. For this reason, they continue to be eaten today. And it’s true that most of the ingredients are American in origin: the turkey, cranberries, pumpkin, sweet potatoes – even the green beans in the casserole and the pecans in the pie.

Yet we only have one firsthand account of the “first” Thanksgiving – a brief paragraph by Edward Winslow that doesn’t mention any of these foods. And it’s been shown, time and again, that the idea of a unique culinary tradition originating from a feast between the Pilgrims and their Native American neighbors is more advertising myth than historical truth.

But maybe there is something, nonetheless, that’s very traditional about this meal.

In fact, there may be a very good reason these particular dishes – and even the way we eat the meal – came to be strongly associated with Thanksgiving. The first Americans simply mimicked or adapted the traditional fare, flavor combinations and rituals of Europe, using them to fashion the popular dishes we continue to enjoy today.

November 14, 2015 / JayMan

Terrorism Quotient

(This is also published at the Unz Review.)

(My reader poll results will have to wait, but rest assured, they’re coming.)

Yet another terrorist attack in Paris – this year:

I wish I could say I was even remotely surprised – perhaps only at the precise time, and that’s all.  For this is just another example of what I and so many others have been saying, as recently as the Cherlie Hebdo attack just in January.

Well, in this post, I’m here to straighten these people out on these things, as Bill Maher did in his interview with Brian Levin  after the Boston bombing – video does not allow embedding. Please visit the site:

The problem, ultimately, is this:

Green Map of Europe

The bulk of “terrorism” comes from one broad group of people: Muslims.

I know that that is partly a matter of definition:


But I want people to think of something. See this from my earlier post Guns & Violence, Again

Violence Map

Now see this (from Wikipedia):


The maps are pretty similar. The places on Earth with much interpersonal violence are generally also the places that larger-scale prolonged conflicts.

One might note that Muslim nations have fairly low rates of interpersonal homicide (assuming that these statistics are reliable, which is hardly guaranteed). This is partly because of the system of clan retribution, as Peter Frost explains here (The return of fear – emphasis mine)

Most Muslim immigrants come from societies where the State has pacified social relations only in recent times and where men still see violence as a legitimate and even necessary means to advance personal interests, to defend themselves and their families, and to acquire land, goods, and even women. Violence is constrained not by the State but by a balance of terror—the threat of retaliation by the victim or his kinsmen.

Hence, violence is Islamic societies quickly moves from being one-on-one (or one-on-a few or few-on-few) affairs as it is in many other places in the world to being protracted struggles between rival clans and tribes (featured at what is the MATTER with you people? | hbd chick):

What Muslim groups putatively lack in interpersonal violence, they more than make up for in prolonged mass conflict.

Despite these key facts, in response to this latest rampage in Paris, we have the usual nonsense, as representated by these Tweets:

In this post, allow me to introduce a very simple concept, as I will demonstrate with this Twitter exchange:

Let’s not forget this smart fellow here:

Perhaps what’s needed here is the idea of a terrorism quotient:

This is modeled after the “Amish Quotient” of Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending.

The idea is that there is a suite of behavioral traits that is more prevalent in many Muslim populations which makes them more likely to perpetrate acts of terrorism.

(Of course, every ethnic group has a group-typical suite of behavioral traits – an “quotient” – see Predictions on the Worldwide Distribution of Personality.

This is basic HBD.)

This is illustrated by the number of terrorist acts (defined here as instances of mass murder/assault/hostage taking) per capita for a given population. There is little question that this rate is incredibly high for many Muslim populations relative to other populations (and of course, there is a great deal of variation between Muslim populations) – even more so when you consider the sizes of the Muslim populations living in Western countries:

But the problem with Muslims in the West is hardly confined to terrorism, but plenty of regular old violence and other crime (especially in Europe – not so much in North America) – again from Peter Frost:

In France, Muslims make up 60% of all prison inmates, while being only 12% of the total population (Leclerc, 2014). Similarly, 7 out of 10 burglaries, assaults, and violent thefts are committed by first- or second-generation immigrants (Chevrier and Raufer, 2014). Most of these perps seem to be Muslim, although a third of them may be West Indians, Africans, and Roma of nominally Christian background. Muslims seem to be especially overrepresented in serious violent crimes that lead to prison sentences.

Similar trends are developing elsewhere. Muslims make up 70% all prison inmates in Spain and 45% in Belgium (WikiIslam, 2013 see Note 1;, 2013). In England and Wales, the figure is only 14%, versus 4.7% of the total population, apparently because certain other communities are likewise overrepresented (Morris, 2014, see Note 2).

A Danish researcher has studied the relationship between criminality and immigrant origin in Denmark, Norway, and Finland (Kirkegaard, 2014a; Kirkegaard, 2014b; Kirkegaard, 2014c; Kirkegaard and Fuerst, 2014). He found that the prevalence of Islam in the immigrants’ home country was the single best predictor of criminality both for “all crime” and for “violent crime,” being better than the home country’s mean IQ or GDP per capita and much better than its murder rate.

And let’s not forget Rotherham:

  • Report found 1,400 children abused between 1997 and 2013 in Rotherham
  • The figure is likely to be a conservative estimate of the true scale
  • Victims terrorised with guns and doused in petrol and threatened with fire
  • More than a third of the cases were already know to agencies
  • Author of the report condemned ‘blatant’ failings by council’s leadership
  • Action blocked by political correctness as staff ‘feared appearing racist’
  • Majority of victims described the perpetrators as ‘Asian’ [overwhelmingly Pakistani] men
  • Leader of Rotherham Council has stepped down with immediate effect
  • No council employees will receive disciplinary action, leaders state

This illustrates that the typical WEIRDO response to these crimes – such as pointing out (correctly) that only a small fraction of all Muslims commit these crimes, as true as that is, misses the point.

What’s more there is no reason to have large populations of Muslims in Northwestern European countries. It’s one thing when a group has a historic presence in a place, like American Blacks or the long-term Mexican residents of El Norte in the U.S. do. The country is as much theirs as it is that of the Whites living there. But the Muslim populations in Europe are overwhelmingly recent immigrants.

At the very least, one would imagine that it would be prudent to stop admitting more Muslims into these countries. As much as I am loathe to quote Ann Coulter:

But there’s a good chance that that won’t happen. Much of what I say here – meant to jar Northwestern Europeans into prudent action to protect their societies – may end up falling on deaf ears. The reason why is explained by the very same HBD that explains why Muslims are so much more violent, on average – namely, Northwestern European universalism:

Nobel-Muslim Plot

As we saw previously in my posts Clannishness – the Series: Zigzag Lightning in the Brain, there is a strong correlation between the size of the Muslim fraction in European countries and their scientific (and other intellectual) performance. A suite of behavioral traits found principally in Northwest Europeans – regard for all humanity, generosity, high-trust, the absence of kin-based social bonds –  leads them to accept clannish migrants. See The Rise of Universalism:

childlabormap Womens-right-around-the-world

Worse still, NW Europeans accept immigrants from the most incompatible corner of the world, the Muslim/Arab world:

In many respects, Muslim groups (especially Arab ones) are the polar opposites of Northwest Europeans. Northwestern European society is liberal, democratic, individualistic, secular, and high-trust. Arab society is illiberal, autocratic, collectivist, extremely religious, and low-trust. Social bonds in Northwestern European societies are primarily among non-relatives (at least past the nuclear family). Social bonds in Arab society are structured around kin. Institutions in NW European societies are rule-bound. Institutions in Arab societies are corrupt.

Corruption 2014

This is genetic in origin, the product of evolution.

For more, see these two key posts by HBD Chick:

big summary post on the hajnal line | hbd chick

community vs. communism | hbd chick

Because the differences between these groups of people is inherited, the result of centuries of natural selection in their respective environments, these features can’t be expected to change much. Northwestern Europeans and Arabs (and many other Muslim groups) are, as groups, largely incompatible. Social strife emerges when they are brought together as they are in modern Northwestern European countries.

To illustrate that Northwestern European universalism is responsible for the settling of large numbers of Muslims in Europe, note what you don’t see:

Unfortunately, the very HBD that leads to these differences also makes it hard for Northwestern Europeans to see the folly in their immigration policies. In reaction to events like the Paris attacks, we get this:

As discussed by M.G. over at Those Who Can See: Reacting to Spree Killings, Progressively

Oh, and for the New Atheists out there that like to blame Muslim violence on their religion, it’s worth noting that the behaviors we associate with religion – including the religion itself – are all heritable:

The Atheist Narrative 

Religion comes to the religious because that’s how their brains are wired. A believer cannot think any different … Believers literally have God/Earth spirits/Buddha on the brain. To such a person, their deities are as real as the Sun in the sky (since, after all, the believer’s brain is the only brain he’s got). Religiosity is highly heritable (as are all behavioral traits)…

This indicates that religious belief – or lack there of – is largely intractable. It is a futile effort to get people to give up religion en masse (or, for that matter, to get non-believers to believe). You may have some individual “successes”, largely because of changing the environmental context of people who already had the genetic potentialfor whatever belief you want to instill, but you’re not going to achieve broad change in the population.

However, the “New Atheists” don’t seem to see it that way. Many of these speakers, including the likes of Richard Dawkins, or groups such as American Atheistsproselytize atheism. Indeed, Dawkins, a self-described “militant atheist”, is very much an atheist evangelist.

The belief that these individuals’ actions appear to be based is that by spreading atheism and getting people to give up their religious beliefs, society can be improved.

As I have previous written, that is a foolhardy goal. The unsavory traits the New Atheists seek to change stem not from the religion, but from the people. Indeed, in the spirit of what HBD Chick would ask, where do religious beliefs come from? Sorry atheist zealots, you can’t get Muslims to behave like modern civilized (Northwestern European) people by getting them to give up Islam. You can’t turn the U.S. Deep South and Greater Appalachia into Yankeedom or the Midlandsby getting the former two to give up fundamentalist Christianity.

So what to do, then? First and foremost, especially for Northwestern European countries, is to stop admitting Muslims en masse into Europe.

 (It’s worth mentioning that the problem is much more acute for Europe than it is for NW European diaspora nations like the U.S. or Canada. Put simply, the Atlantic Ocean is a bigger barrier than the Mediterranean Sea. Europe gets a much more representative slice of the Muslim population. By contrast, immigrants to North America tend to be more select because of the demands of making the trip. Hence, here in the States we get higher IQ, less clannish Muslims. Of course, that’s not all that rosy – a smart terrorist is a much more dangerous thing than a stupid terrorist. But North American Muslims don’t have the incredibly high crime and poverty rates European Muslims do.)

At the very earnest, any attempts to address the problem should start with not making it worse. Even more troublesome, a loose, porous border allows radicalized Muslims to travel freely from terror hotspots in the Middle East to Western sites. France’s emergency reaction to close it’s border was the right step (but, on cue, there are calls for France to open its border once again –Why France Should Not Close Its Borders). Cutting the number of “refugees” granted asylum in Western nations would be next. (Most of whom are economic migrants anyway.)

That addressed new Muslims in the country, but what about the existing populations? I for one do not advocate mass deportations, nor do we need encourage Westerners to engage in mass persecution of their Muslim populations. That said, some steps can be taken to tackle the issue. For example:

  • Disallow entry for families of Muslim immigrants
  • Deport any immigrant convicted of a crime

Now, that said, for France – with it’s very high Muslim population and it’s much higher Muslim share of births in the country – there doesn’t seem to be an easy remedy. They’re in a hard position – and worst of all, they don’t even realize it, generally.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this matter headed to good places, neither for Europeans or for the Muslims and other foreigners that live in Europe. That last thing we need is to inspire backlash against the Muslim residents by the natives. One hopes that steps to address this issue in an orderly and humane way can be taken, but I have to admit, that’s just a hope.

November 2, 2015 / JayMan

Reader Poll 2015 – Let Me Hear From You!

(This is also published at But feel free to take the poll here, it all goes to the same place. 😉 Leave any actual blog comments to this post over at, please.)

I want to take the temperature of the room, so to speak. Here’s your chance to let me hear from you. I encourage all readers to participate, including the occasional drifters, lurkers, etc. The more people participate, the more accurate the results will be. Please chime in!

Results will be published in one week.

Questions marked with a red asterisk * are required. All the text boxes are (or should be, at least) optional