If you thought eugenics was only an abstract notion…


You might want to look up Geoffrey Miller, evolutionary psychologist and general bigot, who wrote a piece for John Brockman’s Edge site on Chinese eugenics in which he’s practically drooling at the prospect of manipulating the human germ plasm. No, really, the West is doomed if we allow the Chinese to race ahead of us in practical eugenics!

Chinese eugenics will quickly become even more effective, given its massive investment in genomic research on human mental and physical traits. BGI-Shenzhen employs more than 4,000 researchers. It has far more “next-generation” DNA sequencers that anywhere else in the world, and is sequencing more than 50,000 genomes per year. It recently acquired the California firm Complete Genomics to become a major rival to Illumina.

The BGI Cognitive Genomics Project is currently doing whole-genome sequencing of 1,000 very-high-IQ people around the world, hunting for sets of sets of IQ-predicting alleles. I know because I recently contributed my DNA to the project, not fully understanding the implications. These IQ gene-sets will be found eventually—but will probably be used mostly in China, for China. Potentially, the results would allow all Chinese couples to maximize the intelligence of their offspring by selecting among their own fertilized eggs for the one or two that include the highest likelihood of the highest intelligence. Given the Mendelian genetic lottery, the kids produced by any one couple typically differ by 5 to 15 IQ points. So this method of “preimplantation embryo selection” might allow IQ within every Chinese family to increase by 5 to 15 IQ points per generation. After a couple of generations, it would be game over for Western global competitiveness.

There is unusually close cooperation in China between government, academia, medicine, education, media, parents, and consumerism in promoting a utopian Han ethno-state. Given what I understand of evolutionary behavior genetics, I expect—and hope—that they will succeed. The welfare and happiness of the world’s most populous country depends upon it.

Oh god. The high-decoupling.

First, sequencing DNA is not eugenics. Telling me how many genomes they sequence per year is not the same as telling me they have a eugenics program in operation. The Chinese government’s crackdown on He Jiankui suggests that they are a bit more hesitant than Miller imagines.

Second, the whole idea that they can get a 5-15 IQ point per generation increase is ludicrous. He’s postulating that a) the observed variation is entirely genetic, and b) that a ruthless pattern of selection is desirable and would have no unforeseen consequences. You can get equal, more equitable, and less disruptive effects by investing in better education. Note that IQ scores have been going upwards for the last century without the state choosing to cull the undesirables.

Third, the idea that IQ scores are a proxy for “competitiveness”, rather than the ability to do well on IQ tests, is a fallacious leap.

Fourth, why would you think eugenics would increase welfare and happiness? It would do the opposite for the majority of the population that lacks the arbitrary genetic markers they use for selection.

Fifth, he is an evolutionary psychologist, which means his understanding of “evolutionary behavior genetics” is feeble at best.

But he does imagine a country that tightly regulates its families on the basis of poorly understood DNA sequences is a “utopian ethno-state” that will increase the welfare and happiness of its citizens, which makes him a kind of third-rate villain in a dystopian SF novel.

If DNA data were as powerful as he imagines it is, though, don’t worry about the Chinese supermen overwhelming us. Comrade Geoffrey has done his part to sabotage the program by donating his DNA, corrupting the database with his genome rich mainly in ignorance and arrogance.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    If a State™ breeds for higher and higher IQ®, doesn’t said State run the risk of breeding people who are too smart to fall for the State’s bullshit?

  2. says

    You can get a 5-15 point IQ jump by improving your education system. Because IQ does not appear to measure something innate in the individual.

    Some IQ fans, who use it to justify racism, sinultaneously study for IQ tests (to puff up their scores) or take the tests multiple times (ditto) – basically refuting their own beliefs and showing that they’re not superior at all.

  3. nomaduk says

    The Eugenics Wars are running a little behind schedule; keep an eye open for a fellow named Khan Noonien Singh. I’m wondering whether, in the end, he gets ahold of one of Elon Musk’s projects.

  4. says

    the whole idea that they can get a 5-15 IQ point per generation increase is ludicrous.

    Even if you can get 5-15 points via genetic selection in that first generation, there’s no reason to think that the same genes that help you in the first generation would be compatible with a further increase in the next generation. You can’t just keep increasing things 5-15 points every generation because you increased them 5-15 points last generation. There can be absolute limits (increasing the ability to digest lactose is boolean and the age at which lactase-production stops can’t be boosted past the age to which humans live), there can be trade-off limits (height can increase but without dramatic changes to the human anatomy there’s a strict upper limit on height, even if we don’t know exactly what it is, and getting closer to that works fine for a bit but as you get even closer and even closer you start ending up with terrible health effects on the body even as height still increases), and there can be environmental limits (lead particulates) that require cleaning up or otherwise changing the environment before your genetic potential can have any effect at all.

    Further there’s all the interactivity. For instance, if you have a gene that makes one resistant to the neurotoxic effects of lead, then you might very well end up with a higher IQ score than other people who live in your home country if that country is lead-polluted. But if you grow up with an environment free of lead, that gene has no effect on IQ at all.

    So imagine that you find a correlation with this gene and IQ, and you genetically engineer it into your population. You won’t see any increase in max-IQ, you’ll just see areas of the country where children were lead poisoned have a bunch of children develop in the way that they would had those areas not be toxic. You’ll even get a bump in average IQ, but a) you could have gotten that bump just by cleaning up your pollution, which (as expensive as that is) is probably cheaper than genetically engineering over a billion children, b) you should be cleaning up that pollution anyway, so what have you gained, and c) there is exactly zero upward trend in the next generation. For all your work, you’ve gotten a one-time bump to average IQ and the vast majority of that bump is lifting below-average people up closer to average.

    it’s all so stupid.

    Plus, as we’ve all said numerous times, genetic engineering is not eugenics. :sigh:

  5. Walter Solomon says

    You can get equal, more equitable, and less disruptive effects by investing in better education.

    Not to mention nutrition.

  6. unclefrogy says

    I am amazed that people who are claiming to be educated and intelligent look at some ideas and fail to ask basic questions like is any of these things true or is it all guess work and wishful speculation. They seem to have forgotten the dropped first phrase “What if” in their predictions completely and just jump to some conclusion or other.
    It is my understanding that the Chinese government is investing a lot of time, effort and money into education at all levels as well and increasing their food supplies quantity and stability with home production and world market purchases. I would expect then to see an increase in “IQ” as a result. The results will also show the effects of the populations motivation and hard work.

  7. jack lecou says

    and b) that a ruthless pattern of selection is desirable and would have no unforeseen consequences.

    Yeah. Even in the best case it’s probably less Khan Noonien Singh, more the weird race who uses their power of telepathic suggestion to hide the fact that they’re actually helpless brain-slugs or whatever. A race of super-genius human pitbulls with body dysmorphia, breathing problems and reduced life span.

    Heck, even you did find some magic alleles that cleanly stimulated desirable neuron activity — without weird co-effects on skeletal structure or immune function or anything — there might be good reasons you don’t want too much of that. What if you manage to make people that are 20% smarter, but they have to sleep 40% longer to recover?

  8. raven says

    Fifth, he is an evolutionary psychologist, which means his understanding of “evolutionary behavior genetics” is feeble at best.

    That and his fallacy filled writing indicate that he is a…quack.

    He is a Jordan Peterson class quack at that.
    I expect him to soon announce his miracle diet plan to cure his medical conditions, followed by a near death experience in a Russian hospital.

  9. jack16 says

    IQ;”We don’t know what it is but we’re getting better and better at measureing it.”
    jack16

  10. says

    A “eugenics” program based on present knowledge and biases could well work the converse of a “5-15 point IQ increase in a generation”… unless it turns out the “eugenics” is selecting against the preexisting power structure.

    Take a look at the demographics (especially cultural demographics) of the populations use to establish IQ baselines a half century or more ago, compared to representations of entire populations. Notice not just the class-, race-, and other biases, but that the baseline seriously underrepresents the proportion of the population most likely to be culled: Those with genetic disabilities, especially those with obvious physical manifestations. Combine that with the increased (still needs improvement!) social integration of those with disabilities, increased lifespans and capabilities due to better medical care of those with disabilities, and so on. Mix in with the self-selection-by-flawed-test (Marcus @2 understates matters — just look at the number of people who desperately retake tests to get into Mensa!). It almost makes one wonder if there might be, say, tradeoffs involved in selecting for one desired trait…

    If you really want a demonstration of the problems, ponder the flaws in some prominent closed-loop families of “great” people; and further ponder that one of the reasons that the Kennedy clan is so uniformly supportive of Special Olympics and similar programs (and it’s hard to argue that the publicly visible members of the clan don’t at least meet the “5–15 IQ points above the specified median” criterion with a straight face) is that they have potential beneficiaries in their midst.

    Besides, all this group of advocates just wants better supervillains; or, more likely, more-capable minions to support their plans for world domination. Which, if you’ve ever heard Miller speak, is disturbingly plausible.

  11. John Harshman says

    The sort of eugenics Miller fantasizes about in China is a relatively benign sort. Instead of forced breeding/non-breeding, he just has couples choosing which of of their fertilized eggs (presumably in vitro fertilization?) to bring to term. No state involvement, as far as I can see. It’s the sort of thing imagined in Heinlein’s Beyond This Horizon. And it equally imaginary, likely impossible, and also full of the sort of unforeseen consequences found in any selective breeding experiment. But not really reprehensible.

  12. chris61 says

    @12 John Harshman
    <blockquote=>And it equally imaginary, likely impossible, and also full of the sort of unforeseen consequences found in any selective breeding experiment. I agree the approach would be full of unforeseen consequences but why imaginary or impossible since the technology (IVF and genome sequencing) exists? Or are you referring to the fact it would be impossible to carry this sort of thing out on anywhere near the scale required to significantly affect allele frequencies in the general population?

  13. brucej says

    , why would you think eugenics would increase welfare and happiness? It would do the opposite for the majority of the population that lacks the arbitrary genetic markers they use for selection.

    Oh, you mean the culls? They’re not really human; “welfare” and “happiness” don’t apply to them.

    proclaiming “We must not allow a eugenics gap!” is literally saying we need to be the best at genocide.

  14. unclefrogy says

    No state involvement, as far as I can see.

    if not then I see no difference between it and the practice of only staying within your class by the rich who can afford the medical interventions required to make that even possible.
    if “successful” over multiple generations it would result in some kind of hybrid human population surrounded by a more heterogeneous population.
    Like a pack of poodles surrounded by wolfs then ask which has a better chance of survival long term? no survival no inheritance.
    uncle frogy

  15. Monsanto says

    Damn! When the Chinese knocked my door wanting a DNA sample, they told me they were trying to replicate my manliness. I just wish I’d known they were really after my incredible IQ. I had no idea how smart Miller is. No wonder they need his DNA.

  16. John Harshman says

    why imaginary or impossible since the technology (IVF and genome sequencing) exists?

    Imaginary because it isn’t actually being done. Potentially impossible for a host of reasons, such as testing the genotype of fertilized eggs (though perhaps they intend to let them get to the blastocyst stage), the assumption that there is a sufficient reservoir of quantitative variation for this to work for many generations, and the idea that this hypothetical variation can be captured by harvesting a few eggs, as well as all the problems involved in breeding for single traits.

  17. cvoinescu says

    The reason China does so much sequencing is that they do it cheaply on a near-industrial scale, so most labs around the world find it more cost-effective to ship their samples to China and have them sequenced there, instead of maintaining an in-house capability. (While this is concerning, it’s not for the stated reasons.)

    Also, even assuming they find genes correlated to IQ, and they can do the pre-implantation selection of embryos, and that this gives them the 10-point increase on average, isn’t it preposterous to assume that the benefits would stack indefinitely, or even at all?

  18. chris61 says

    @ John Harshman
    <blockquote=Imaginary because it isn’t actually being done. Potentially impossible for a host of reasons, such as testing the genotype of fertilized eggs (though perhaps they intend to let them get to the blastocyst stage), the assumption that there is a sufficient reservoir of quantitative variation for this to work for many generations, and the idea that this hypothetical variation can be captured by harvesting a few eggs, as well as all the problems involved in breeding for single traits.
    Whole genome sequencing for IVF has been around for a while now (and yes, its done on blastocysts) and human beings have plenty of variation. I don’t think there’s much doubt that you would get what you select for although as you said, there’s likely to be a lot of unintended consequences. But given all the folks who turned out willing to cheat to get their children accepted into ivy league colleges I can’t imagine that plenty of them wouldn’t go for IVF and selection of embryos if they thought it would benefit their offspring.

  19. Ketil Tveiten says

    @PZ: I think your Comic Sans Monty Python Guy macro is malfunctioning; this stuff is clearly stupid enough to qualify.

  20. says

    I’ve got a new student. Bright kid. IQ test close to 130. Was always top of his class at his old (very prestigious private) school despite being the youngest.
    Also the single most unhappy child I ever met, and that says a lot given our usual clientele.
    Very clearly, his IQ isn’t doing him any good right now.
    +++
    As for that kind of eugenics working : you may believe it could work, given that we have the technology, but of course that means you have once again forgotten the most important part : you’re talking about human beings. Sure, there’ll always be some who embrace their chance of having a “designer baby” and IVF and preimplantation diagnostics absolutely do have their place in selecting against terrible genetic diseases like a 100% chance of cancer, but most people simply won’t do it. Women and others with uteri will not happily line up for months and years of invasive procedures that take so much, not just financially but also emotionally, when they can alternatively just fuck.
    And that’s just talking about planned pregnancies.

  21. petesh says

    BGI years ago fired Zhao Bowen, the “wunderkind” in charge of the IQ project, and closed it down — that Edge article is from 2013. Apparently Bowen got a bad case of swelled-head syndrome when he started getting press and pissed off his superiors. Also, he didn’t discover anything of significance.

  22. specialffrog says

    I’m reminded of the film Crimson Rivers. In the movie, neo-Nazis in the French Alps have been trying to selectively breed a ‘master race’. However it is going badly and they keep having to steal healthy children from the locals to keep up the pretence that it is working.

  23. jacobletoile says

    Also, there is a real generation time problem. If you have a population that is voluntarily selecting for traits, those traits will reflect fads, and as parents who possessed selected traits select different traits in their offspring the original selection becomes muddied. If you have a government program, it it still several generations before you will get results. Pick any government, have any maintained the same goals/ values for the last 80 years? In 10 years you can get 3, well evaluated dog generations with noticeable improvement, or you can get a prepubecent kid.

  24. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 jack16

    IQ;”We don’t know what it is but we’re getting better and better at measureing it.”

    jack16

    Oh we know what it is. An IQ score is whatever the I.Q test measures, by definition.

    It’s connecting it to the real world that is the problem. Supposedly I.Q maps into intelligence and as soon as we get a good grasp on what intelligence is, everything should be fine.

    IQ tests and scores are a rather crude but useful tool in the right hands when used properly. They can be amazingly badly abused since a single summary number is nice and neat but may mean diddly squat. (See Mensa)

    Most people who talk about wanting to raise IQ scores probably have not a clue what they are talking about. I suspect Geffery Miller may be in this group. He is an evolutionary psychologist which may be as bad as a Jungian like Peterson

  25. billseymour says

    (See Mensa)

    I did.

    Back in the late 70s, I squeaked into Mensa based on SAT scores totaling about 1350. The cutoff at the time was 1300. The Pittsburgh group was a lot of fun, and we spent quite a bit of time laughing at how stupid we all were. When I moved back to St. Louis in the early 80s, I went to a couple of meetings and found folks who were very impressed with themselves and took themselves very seriously. I quickly got bored and never went back.

    As for IQ tests, all the ones that I’ve taken seemed to be all about manipulating symbols, as in language or mathematics. I’m pretty sure that that ability makes life more interesting, but I’m not sure how much it helps one get through the day. It certainly doesn’t contribute much to making one a decent person.

  26. says

    @#21, Giliell:

    Have you, uh, actually paid attention to what’s going on outside your school? Anybody under the age of 40 who has a functioning brain is going to be either depressed or on drugs of one type or another. And the smarter such a person is, the harder it will be to ignore the obvious.

  27. says

    If Miller wants to worry about a government trying genetic manipulation he should worry about North Korea, not China. Not because they’ll produce a race of genetic supermen, but because they have a bad habit of doing things like kidnapping foreigners to help their programs. A classic example are the late South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok, and his wife, the late South Korean actress Choi Eun-nee. Both were kidnapped by North Korea in 1978 to make films for Kim Jong-Il, who was a big film fan. Fortunately they managed to escape in 1986.

  28. anat says

    Re: Ways to boost IQ: Besides nutrition and general education, one likely explanation for the increase in measured IQ over time in Western populations is an increase in the overall complexity of social and economic interactions.

    One example came from the early years of the Soviet Union. People living in traditional villages were incapable of performing logic tasks that we would consider rather basic, such as categorizing items (and deciding based on that which is the odd one out), sorting tiles of many hues by primary colors (as in, sort the many shades of red into one group, separate from many shades of blue), or making deductions based on premises they had no direct experience of (they could answer ‘In England the weather is cold and wet, would cotton grow in England?’, but not ‘In places where there is a lot of snow bears are white; place X has a lot of snow, what color are the bears there?’ – they would respond ‘I don’t know, I haven’t been there’). In contrast, people from the same ethnic background and culture who had been living on a kolkhoz for just a few months could perform those tasks.

  29. jrkrideau says

    @ 27 billseymour

    As for IQ tests, all the ones that I’ve taken seemed to be all about manipulating symbols, as in language or mathematics.

    This is not surprising as that is, generally, what the test designers are interested in. There may have been a few other things you might not notice buried in there but those are typically the main targets.

    If they were interested in your motor skills or reaction times they would be use different tests, and so on. An IQ test on its own is not all that informative beyond saying the testee is or is not comatose, may be able to tie own shoe laces, or probably can walk and chew gum at the same time. (Well, I simplify a bit).

  30. mykroft says

    Makes me think about a novel I’ll never get around to writing. Scientists work out how to convert any human cells into germ cells (primarily eggs). Russia and China start using the technology to convert cells from Olympic athletes and geniuses into germ cells that anyone in their countries can get to have superstar children. American politicians argue about getting left behind if they don’t do the same. Stars like Brad Pitt get paternity suits from people who converted skin scrapings into germ cells. Chaos ensues…

  31. chigau (違う) says

    If you (in general) have never taken an IQ Test, then you do not have an IQ.
    and that’s the truth

  32. says

    @26: The worst possible use of the “single-number scores” is in determining which defendants are not eligible for the death penalty because they are too intellectually deficient. One point — especially in Texas — often means the difference between “lethal injection” and “solitary confinement.” And the prosecutors — especially, but not only, those in Texas, and disproportionately when the defendant would, let us say, not have been a welcome citizen of the CSA — continue to argue those single-point and two-point variances as absolute for years afterward… even in the face of demonstrated inability of the defendant to understand that he’s been sentenced to die, let alone why.

    And then there’s the two-word refutation “idiot savant”; I’ve known a few in my professional life.

  33. says

    We currently have a president who has an IQ that’s probably near zero (he could not finish the test) and he’s the most powerful man in the world. IQ indicates social success how, again?

  34. Owlmirror says

    Note that IQ scores have been going upwards for the last century without the state choosing to cull the undesirables.

    This rise in IQ scores, by the by, is called the Flynn effect. WikiP:

    A 2017 survey of 75 experts in the field of intelligence research suggested four key causes of the Flynn effect: Better health, better nutrition, more and better education, and rising standards of living. Genetic changes were seen as not important.[28] The experts’ views agreed with an independently performed[29] meta-analysis on published Flynn effect data, except that the latter found life history speed to be the most important factor.[30]

  35. says

    Yes, the Vicar, I have
    One, unlike other people I do actually have a life. Hobbies, family, friends, you know, all that shit you can have when you are not a complete asshole.
    Two, what do you think school is? Some nice ivory tower safe space where all problems like poverty, discrimination, drug abuse and violence magically cease to exist once the bell rings?
    Three, no, while I actually made the cut off by two years, not everybody under 40 is depressed or on drugs. That’s just you. But I adore your ableism. It is quite a feat to argue that anybody who isn’t like you is just too stupid to realise they should be, on a thread where quite a lot of people with relevant knowledge are arguing about “intelligence” not being a particularly well defined trait.
    Four, I really don’t know what you in particular are complaining about, since you got exactly what you voted for.

  36. madtom1999 says

    Why is it the people with an interest in eugenics always seem to be the ones who would be first into the soylent green machine should it ever be introduced?

  37. says

    @#37, Giliell:

    A. Wow, maybe you [i]should[/i] be on some drugs, because you’re awfully touchy.

    B. “Exactly what I voted for”? I presume you mean in 2016? I voted for this, which looks nothing at all like what we’re getting — although it looks quite a bit like what some of the Democratic candidates are pitching this time, now that throwing up your hands and saying “fixing things is too haaaaaaard” has gone out of fashion for the moment, and “incrementalism” is starting to be appreciated as synonymous with excrementalism. It’s you who are getting a lot of what you voted for, since I presume you voted for Hillary Clinton’s “I already sold you out to the rich, so let’s take no stands against the Republicans for 4 years and hope they go away” platform. She promised to do nothing I wanted, and by golly, none of it is getting done. The Clinton ethos won, even if the Clinton cluelessness lost the Rust Belt and the Electoral College.

    Oh, except that, despite backing off on it when the public learned how incredibly horrifying terrible it was, she did put support for the right-wing wet dream that was the TPP back into the platform after irrevocably getting the nomination. So in a philosophical sense, even though Trump killed the TPP specifically, all his attempts to destroy environmental, worker, and consumer protections ought to make up for it to anybody who is stupid or treacherous enough to actually have wanted the TPP to pass. If he were smarter, he would have let it go through, and then none of us would be able to reverse or stop or even challenge all the changes and the Democrats would (rightly) get most of the blame, so we should probably be glad, for once, that he’s as incompetent as he is.

  38. Stuart Smith says

    Maybe it’s just me misunderstanding things because I’m a layman, but I had the impression that the best hedge against disaster for any species is genetic diversity. That in the end, the best thing a species can have is the ability to rapidly adapt to changing circumstances, and that the best way to accomplish that was to have a diverse population that carry a wide array of traits. Surely eugenics, by its very nature, runs counter to that. If you are intentionally selecting for specific traits, breeding to propagate specific genetic code, then it seems like you have to be losing diversity to do so.

    So, I understand why some smooth brained alt-right cockfrog with no education on the subject might think that eugenics was a good idea, but it’s puzzling to me that an expert in the field would hold such beliefs. Am I missing something?

  39. chrislawson says

    Stuart Smith@40 —

    The kind of genetic diversity bottleneck you’re talking about would only apply to an incredibly restrictive eugenics program that only allowed a tiny fraction of human genes to propagate. Not likely in real life. Plenty of other reasons to oppose eugenics, though.

    (Plus the problems with genetic diversity are overstated. Rabbits are an ecological disaster in Australia. The rabbit invasion started with the release of 24 rabbits in Winchelsea, Victoria in 1859. Ten years later, the colony was shooting 2 million rabbits a year without denting the population. The sparrow and the starling are major pests in the US with populations in the half-billion range. Those populations came from the release of small numbers of birds in the mid-19th century. Almost every place on Earth is now populated with invasive rats that hitched a ride on European ships. This includes remote islands seeded with rat populations that were initially tiny but are going strong hundreds of generations later.)

  40. says

    The Vicar, cupcake, master supreme of ableism, you’ve been on this forum with me for how many years and you still haven’t noticed I’m not American. Pretty much confirms my opinion of you. Anyway, I’m not going to discuss US elections with you exactly because you’re a self-centred pompous ass.

  41. jrkrideau says

    @ 33 chigau (違う)

    <iIf you (in general) have never taken an IQ Test, then you do not have an IQ.

    Ah,but you have a potential IQ that obviosly goes off the scale :) See Trump. D (2001 : 2020)

    @ 34Jaws

    The worst possible use of the “single-number scores” is in determining which defendants are not eligible for the death penalty because they are too intellectually deficient. One point — especially in Texas — often means the difference between “lethal injection” and “solitary confinement.”

    As I said , “They can be amazingly badly abused.” Hell, fentynal is probably useful if used properly.

    I believe Flynn of Flynn Effect fame spends a lot of his time testifying on this issue. Some US prosecutors. Texans in particular, seem to have a lust for the death penalty. If they can use a false argument and corrupted standard they will.

  42. jrkrideau says

    @ 30 anat

    Re: Ways to boost IQ: Besides nutrition and general education, one likely explanation for the increase in measured IQ over time in Western populations is an increase in the overall complexity of social and economic interactions.

    I am not sure I completely agree with this. I suspect you are right but that it is slightly more nuanced.

    IQ scores only measure some things. I think a good part of the increase in IQ scores is exposure to a more of the increasing complex interactions in the areas that IQ scores attempt to evaluate.
    It is a little liki educating economic stduents. After a while they start to think like economists.

    BTW is that material re the USSR from Luria’s work? I remember reading a little bit about it years ago and have lost any reference.

  43. anat says

    BTW is that material re the USSR from Luria’s work? I remember reading a little bit about it years ago and have lost any reference.

    Yes indeed. I was describing it from memory. I read about it in a book named ‘Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world’ by David Epstein.

  44. chrislawson says

    “Third, the idea that IQ scores are a proxy for “competitiveness”, rather than the ability to do well on IQ tests, is a fallacious leap.”

    The problem is that this has become a self-fulfilling truth. Because so many companies, govt agencies, legal processes, etc. depend on IQ to measure competitive advantage, it becomes a competitive advantage to have a high IQ (unless you are convicted of a capital offence).

  45. KG says

    Anybody under the age of 40 who has a functioning brain is going to be either depressed or on drugs of one type or another. – The Vicar@28

    Add depression to the long, long list of things The Vicar knows fuck all about.

  46. says

    The entire discourse around “competitiveness” has always struck me as kind of fascist in itself. It takes as its starting assumption that, at least among countries, alles Leben ist Kampf, and that all human beings can be classified as an asset or liability to the “struggle for existence” and nurtured or discarded appropriately, leading to its apotheosis in this idea that we must forcibly convert our entire population into a fascist nation of 7-foot-tall genius Aryan supermen (gendered word intended; such people don’t strike me as the biggest fans of women existing) to avoid the country being dominated and conquered by a fascist nation of 7-foot-tall genius Chinese supermen.

    Also have these people not stopped to consider just HOW MANY dead and horribly damaged babies they would have to make to yield even a handful of living eugenic subjects, if any at all? It’s not like the technology to create transgenic and eugenic humans “just works”; right now it doesn’t work at all and there’s not even an apparent path to make it work aside from brute force, i.e. kill babies in monstrous human experiments over and over and over and over, until a method yields survivors, which might never happen, in which case it would just be continuous child sacrifice to the crematorium forever. What a future! This is so much better than being allowed to live in freedom and safety! I can’t wait to be rejected by the human QC department and sent to the gas chamber!

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