Re: META: Neanderthal attitudes

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 3 Sep 1999 19:16:30 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 3 Sep 1999, Matt Gingell wrote:

> I certainly hope so, Nazi-boy.

As I said, I expected to get flamed (winks included). The main reason that I make the point is particularly in the U.S. (those of you who are non-U.S. can observe how screwed up the system is) -- we have a perspective that "we all *are* equal". And in cases where "inequalities" have arisen (perhaps due to old-boy power groups suppressing the up-and-coming), we have taken measures to balance the playing field.

Which of course, begs the issue -- that if society is always going to "balance" the playing field, so that my natural genetic "advantages" (whatever they may be) do not give one a demonstrable advantage, then what is the point of trying to succeed at all. My general observation would be that this is the situation that has occured in countries where everyone works "equally" hard and drives "equal" benefits -- i.e. the cream sinks to the bottom.

It is a *very* difficult situation to separate the historic advantages from the genetic advantages from the desire advantages. But if the response of a society is to "level" these so genetic/desire advantages are deemed equal to the correction of historic "disadvantages", then you have a recipe for diminishing the progess of the society.

> I'm uncomfortable though with the jump that generalizes that to ~50% of
> our genes, especially with regard to intelligence.

I'm primarily basing this on the intelligence/aging studies which seem to show 50%+ inheritability.

> The mind is a great deal more flexible than the body.

Absolutely, but can you make the argument that the mind can overcome *any* genetic defect? If not then we are simply arguing "scales". I would guess that the variety and relative advantage of different individuals on these scales makes the discussion highly fragmented.

> The breakdown of environmental and genetic influence isn't
> nearly so clear.

If you are going to make a 90:10 argument, yes. But if you are going to argue 50:50, 60:40, 30:70, then it is much less clear.

Which goes back to my premise -- there are people who are so far off the scale, that any efforts based on desire to overcome their genetic heritage are relatively pointless. You cannot turn a dog into a human no matter how much the dog would like to be human. The *only* way you can do that is by changing their genes.