Re: Buzzwords (was)Judging Beauty (the sociobiological big three!)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sun May 07 2000 - 22:43:54 MDT

On Sunday, May 07, 2000 6:04 PM wrote:
> Yes, of course, and I think he is aware of the particular foibles which
> plague his opinions, if not empowered to change them. I am not sure that I
> understand how his theories are weakened by his dad; Marxism has little to
> with the land snails, or slugs or whatever he studies. Whether I am on
> list or any other, regarding his politics: I have no problem with
> other people's viewpoints, nor his Jewish/Atheist/Liberal persona.
> The book I am speaking of is called "The Mismeasure of Man' . It is not
> theoretical, or scientific... it's just a rare historical view,
> (somewhat humorously) various (at the time highly respectable, though now
> laughable) scientific experiments in which race and genetics were analyzed
> account for certain hegemonous nationalists to posit that they deserve a
> biologically "superior" intelligence over other races. Phrenology for
> instance. It is amusing.

I disagree. His Marxist background does seem to inform a lot of his
thinking. E.g., he is generally against the notion of general
intelligence -- the idea that there is some causal factor which some people
might have that makes them more intelligent overall than others -- despite
evidence that intelligence in one area often correlates with intelligence in
others. His bias against this seems to stem from his political views and
not from a dispassionate examination of the evidence. (Not that such an
examination would make one a rabid proponent of general intelligence, but it
might make one less extreme in opposition to it.:) Why? Economic
egalitarianism sells better if there's no such thing as general
intelligence. Why? One could make claim, as often is made, that one person
is smart at one thing, while another smart at another, and so on, ergo,
we're all equal. But the truth (sad or no) seems to be some people are just
smarter all around and some people are not so smart all around. (I draw no
political doctrine from this, but I do see it as not sitting well with
people who want to base their ideology on psychology.)

As for his biological theories, I don't think all he says is hogwash, but I
try to keep my errant meme detector on its highest setting when reading him.
(But I always have it on.:)

But, in particular, the best thing to do with all stuff in this area is to
try to look for transparency. (Which is why I champion cladistics.:)
Always ask:

1. What does she or he mean?
2. Why would someone believe that? and
3. How does she or he back up his claim?

Don't fall prey to wit and cute little asides. Granted, they do make
reading more pleasurable, but they can also lull one into agreement merely
because the author seems pleasant, witty, and an all around nice person.

My two cents!

Daniel Ust

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