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September 09, 2005

Comments

Andrew

Someone has pointed out to me that Steve Sailer has already lived up to expectations:

"More likely, it might well mean that people from different parts of the world might have different mental skills on average. For example, people from Africa might be better at improvising jazz solos, or playing point guard, or other skills that require the kind of interpersonal improvisatory skills that are hard to measure with an IQ test."

Abiola Lapite

I knew he wouldn't disappoint!

Jim

Something I was going to say to your post about dyslexia - these differneces tend to be sprinkled around in groups, and for very good reason. First, there is the advantage of hedging your evolutionary bets as a lineage. It is advantageous to try a new feature on one or two memebrs rather than putting all your eggs in some new basket right off the bat. This goes on forever because there are always new features to try out. Secondly, the most effective work groups always include a range of talents, learning styles, whatever you want to call them, and since the family or band has been the basic work group for most of our history, and it tends to have a genetic basis, there has to be some mechanism to get this advantageous diversity into what is going to be a rather homogenous group. So for human groups, as opposed to herds of cattle, there is an evolutionary need for mental diversity in kin groups. All that is to say this notion of mental homogeneity and IQs for whole racial groups is pretty simple-minded crap, even leaving aside the simple-mindedness of the notion of discrete genetic race.

Dyslexia and ADD are examples of this diversity, or rather, they are negative examples. Since ADD is advantageous for hunter and gatherer tasks, it is probably the norm for us. Army officers typically show symptoms of ADD because it helps a person manage very complex operations involving many people moving simiultaneously. Since dyslexia basically comes down to trouble with sequencing, and mild forms involve switching difgits in long numerals or inverting word order, it is also probably a default setting too. Natural languages, for instance, probably the commonest sequential task most people do, have lots of mechanisms for recovery from lapses in normal word order. Seeding people with those brains into work groups makes them a lot more effective.

Chuckles

His talk about Black improvisation is probably lifted from Sowell.
On another note, Black Studies departments around the country have done much to contribute to this "emotive", "communal" African stereotype. Chalk that up to reactionary scholarship.
As duly noted on Andrew's blog - improvisation in Classical Music is strangely absent when it comes to talk like this - and Black Athletes all of a sudden take center stage in glaring view of the fact that the Olympics for centuries werent exactly an African affair.
And then again - that the History of Science itself is suffused with examples improvisation goes unmentioned.

[...people from Africa might be better at improvising jazz solos, or playing point guard, or other skills that require the kind of interpersonal improvisatory skills that are hard to measure with an IQ test...]

A testament to ignorance! And who exactly are the "people from Africa"? One only needs to hop, step and jump through the continent itself to hear variations on this: "Yoruba are good at that", "Igbo are good at this", "the Wolof do this", "the Ga do that" - It seems even "Africans" themselves wouldnt go so far as to assigning an set of skills to the continental whole.
Neither did Europeans in a bygone age either.
Requests for slaves in many cases were specific as to ethno-national qualities of populations. Wolof and Fulani for the House, Coastal West Africans for the field. Igbo women as concubines etc.
When you get down to it, about the only property that Europeans of the age believed was universal to all Africans was Intellectual Inferiority.

dsquared

I seem to remember that wherever they went, the British Army would conduct their relations with tribes on the basis of a crude form of geographical rather than genetic determinism. Generalising from the Scottish and Pathans, they would always assume that hill tribes were violent but well-organised and attempt to make their alliances accordingly.

by the way

[for human groups, as opposed to herds of cattle, there is an evolutionary need for mental diversity in kin groups. ]

tsk group selection! isn't that tantamount to theism?

Chuckles

In the minds of Racists and Racialists alike, the line between Geographical Determinism and Blood based determinism is a thin one.
Particularly for African peoples, where Geography was posited to have so fundamentally altered their basic nature.
i.e. Geography causes blackness, which then perpetuates itself, or Geography causes stupidity which then perpetuates itself.

However, with regards to TAST, it wasnt just GeoDeterminism at work - Slavers specifically requested SeneGambian populations and Fulani populations for House Work etc, because they believed that they had been admixed with Caucasoid groups (the Hamitic hypothesis) and hence were more civilized, less aggressive, more amenable etc.

Jim

Theism! Horrors! No, I meant that to be an example of natural selection.

Thanks for that bit on the Scots and Pathans. I'll go for the part about the violence, but the Scots, organized? Just tell someone his daddy was a Campbell and watch the whole room turn into a bar brawl.

I don't know if you would call this a crude form of geographical determinism, but I have noticed that English people in the South (Anglo-Americans? Dixo-Saxons?) don't seem to bitch about heat and humidity as much as their kin from the old country. It can't be natural selection after so short a time; I think it's just simple acclimation.

David B

>First, there is the advantage of hedging your evolutionary bets as a lineage. It is advantageous to try a new feature on one or two memebrs rather than putting all your eggs in some new basket right off the bat.<

- Jim seems to have an interesting new evolutionary theory: group selection for genetic diversity. Perhaps he would like to explain to the rest of us how this would work?

dsquared

Group selection is hardly a new theory and since there are plenty of textbooks to suit all levels and wallets, I hardly think it's Jim's job to explain it here.

David B

'Group selection' is indeed hardly a new theory, but group selection for genetic diversity *is* - at least, if anyone knows of an example, let's have a reference.

David B

...actually, I just thought of an example myself. It is sometimes claimed that sexually reproducing clades have a long-term selective advantage over asexual ones because their greater genetic diversity buffers them against disease, climate change, etc. If Jim wants to build on this, I wish him luck!

Jim

David B,

Thanks. I was just noting general observations about groups that seem to compete well, not necessaily genetically specified groups. I am thinking for instance of military formations that are culturally diverse, both in terms of ethnic and class culture, as oposed to more uniform groups. Such organizations have an advantage in dealing with chaotic situations. Reference von Model's famous comment to the effect that Americans excel at war because war is chaos and Americans practice chaos on a daily basis.

There is a notion that species that invest in long childhoods beenfit form a higher ratio of adults to young, and this has been suggested as the evolutionary benefit for homosexuality with some organic basis in humans. Culturally based celibacy, such as monasticism or the rules that often inhibit shamans from marrying, have been offered as examples of how non-breeding behavior can improve the breeding success of a population.

Yeah, I have heard that bit about the selective advantage od sexual reproduction. Then I ehard that dandelions reproduce asexually - they produce seed without fertilization, but I am still waiting for some pathogen to develop and clean my lawn up.

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