Thursday, November 27, 2014

After Ferguson

     Several months ago, Nicholas Wade published a book on human evolution that I have only now had time to read: A Troublesome Inheritance. Wade articulated the case that human evolution has been “recent, copious and regional….” The implications of his conclusions—which only echo those of other works, such as Cochran and Harpending’s The 10,000 Year Explosion—are profound. Perhaps, as the studies Wade cites indicate, there actually are statistically significant differences at the genetic level among the races. The reigning academic dogma asserts that there are no such things as races. Yet, according to Wade the evidence of genetics refutes the dogma. Not only are there races, but the racially consistent differences among peoples may partly explain the persistent differences among nations.

     Well, such conclusions violate the Holy Catechism of the Ivory Tower. According to the priests of the Ivory Tower, any query about the truth of the Holy Catechism is nothing short of heresy. And the priests are not the only ones to believe so. They have for the better part of a hundred years been at work on essentially every educated person in western societies. Consider: All news reporters, all lawyers, all judges, all engineers, all accountants, all architects, and all public school teachers are required to have college degrees. The same is true for almost all filmmakers, almost all government officials, most corporate officers, and even most Christian ministers. Under these circumstances, essentially our entire ruling elite has passed through a minimum of four years of relentless indoctrination into the Holy Catechism—which is to say, political correctness.

     According to the Catechism, there are no meaningful differences between men and women, except that women have been and continue to be oppressed by men. According to the Catechism, people who want to have their sexual organs cut off are of perfectly sound mind. According to the Catechism, single mothers are more than capable of raising fine citizens without the help of fathers. According to the Catechism, income disparity is entirely explained by exploitation of the virtuous poor on the part of the vicious rich. And according to the Catechism, the consistent disparities in test scores and criminality between whites and blacks are fully due to racism.

     If the Catechism were true, then erasing these disparities ought to be a simple matter of adjusting the environment, of eliminating racist laws. Yet, we have seen those bad old laws repealed. We have seen affirmative action enacted. We have seen courts order the busing of children to enforce racial diversity in schools. We have even seen the election of a half-black president. If adjusting the environment were all it took to erase the disparities, then why do they persist?

     The faithful insist that we have not been trying hard enough or long enough. Yes, many of the bad old laws are gone. However, don’t we still see white police officers killing unarmed black teenagers? Don’t we still see blacks incarcerated at disproportionate rates? Don’t we still see that this remains a land of white privilege?

     Wade wisely avoids such stark questions. He rejects the notion that any race is superior to any other. Instead, all major groups of humans are perfectly evolved for physical and social conditions prevailing in their ancestral homes. Even the BBC has noticed that 81 of the 82 men who have run 100 meters faster than 10 seconds at the Olympic Games all share West African ancestry. Similar observations are to be made about the dominance of Northern Europeans in Olympic powerlifting. And the unique success of Ashkenazi Jews in the top intellectual fields remains a fact.

     Well, perhaps the data Wade has compiled are incomplete, or misleading, or even fraudulent. Perhaps. As a newcomer to these concepts, who am I to say? But if Wade’s data are sound, then the questions he avoids asking will have to be asked some day. Perhaps, for example, ethnic diversity is more likely to be a source of conflict in society than a source of strength. Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect different peoples to adapt to what may be ultimately alien life ways. Most of all, perhaps it is not so much that Western institutions have made Western prosperity, but rather that Western peoples have made possible Western institutions.

     If true, then the final speculation suggests we will continue to see attempts to impose Western solutions on non-Western societies fail. We tried to build a Western democracy in Iraq. We failed. We tried to instill Western values in Afghanistan. We failed. At some point, we may have to accept that our way of life is not for everyone. And if this is true, then Western peoples may need to be more careful about preserving our institutions at home—even if that means unlearning our own dogmas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

…And Yet

“Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”
—Gandalf

     In the months since I decided in favor of optimism about the future, the course of events seems to have conspired to serve me a dish of well-seasoned crow. This blog began as a small voice in protest against the judicial redefinition of marriage and the degradation of our ancient liberties. Now, we seem to have arrived at another, greater transition in the landscape on the road to tyranny. Since its inception, the federal Executive has been growing in power. Over the past century, in particular, the expansion of the federal bureaucracy has provided the executive with the tools to interfere in every part of our lives. The federal authority now regulates everything we do. Federal departments issue regulations that tell us what light bulbs we can buy and whether we must accept unisex restrooms. This has been an ever tightening soft tyranny, which itself is the child of Hedonism and Fear. Too many of us now want just to continue our self-indulgent lives, secure from responsibility and challenge. But, as we have noted before, the government that does everything for us can, at whim, do anything to us. It is now a bloated, imperial leviathan, far in excess of anything the Founders intended—though not beyond what they reasonably feared.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hiatus

     To a great extent, life as we get older becomes more about how to spend the time available. Other commitments have kept your author away this year, and there is no foreseeable change to those priorities. Additionally, some reading last year (chiefly, books by Matt Ridley and Peter Diamandis) has caused a major shift of perspective. The value of historical models in assessing our current predicaments may be lower than ever before, given the frame-breaking technology developing around us. It is quite likely no one outside the tech fields understands the profound implications that recent developments create for society and politics. It is equally likely the same thing is true of most people working in the tech fields. The human species has a realistic chance of effectively overcoming all material resource constraints in under a century. How could such a development not invalidate our historical wisdom? How long will the past remain useful as a lens for bringing the present into focus? To the extent one has leisure, is it not better spent looking forward than back?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Atheism Confirmed, Part II

     Graver still for the theistic cause, every year brings us explanations for what we observe in nature that are better than the explanations found in the Bible. We know now that epilepsy is not caused by demons; we know how to treat leprosy; we know the Earth orbits the Sun. Science has provided well-tested theories of nature that answer far more than the counterpart answers found in the Bible. Science gives us historical linguistics; mythology, the Tower of Babel. Mythology speaks of a divine column of fire and smoke at the top of a mountain; science speaks of a volcanic plume. The more one reads the Bible, the more it appears to be stuck in the Bronze Age. To credit the Bible as anything more than mythological literature produced by human beings at pre-scientific points in history would require abandoning robust explanations of natural phenomena in favor of superstition. The gaps in scientific understanding, those murky niches in which some of the faithful insist God may be hidden, are in fact already too narrow to conceal the Lord of Hosts. Like Victor Stenger, we must conclude the Biblical God is a failed hypothesis.

     Many Christians do acknowledge that the Bible should not be read as history. They prefer it as divine poetry, or sacred metaphor, the moral excellence of which establishes its supernatural truth. Until I actually began reading the Bible myself, I was prepared to accept that whatever its truth content, it might have social or political utility as a moral guide. Indeed, there seemed to me no reason to doubt that the book might even contain useful insights about human nature, which presumably hasn’t changed much in the past few thousand years. I was therefore astonished to find God allowing, endorsing, even commanding the worst behavior of which humans are capable: genocide, slavery, ritual murder, capital punishment for innocuous offenses, etc. How can believers defend Jephthah’s sacrifice of his own daughter? Or the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Joshua at God’s command? Or the casual endorsements of slavery? Or God’s breathtaking insistence on the death penalty for a man caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath? Moreover, I began to see the full moral implications of concepts like Hell or the flood of Noah. A God that could preside over such enormities is morally unworthy of worship. In my view, there are no sufficient answers to these objections. Clearly, the God of the Bible does not exist except as a creature of fiction. For that fact, having now assimilated the horror of Biblical immorality, I am grateful.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Technical Difficulties

     Not sure what Blogger has done with the pictures.  Will attempt to reload them if necessary.