Friday, January 30, 2015

The Intelligence of Race

Set aside the fact that Charles Johnson is a soulless ginger (heh), let's talk about race and intelligence and this assertion he makes about a fact of biology. But more, let's talk about the consequences of his assertion about that fact of biology.

To start, I will declare outright some biases: (a) I fucking love science (ahem) (b) I am bi-racial; specifically, I'm half white boy, half black girl. That sounds weird, but there you have it. I have some skin (heh) in the game, so to speak. And (c) I am a Christian.

I was born in Cameroon, lived the first half of my life in Nigeria in the west of Africa and then moved around until I settled in Florida, which is as close to a melting pot as you will have anywhere else in the US, both in literal and metaphorical terms. What this means is that, as an average observer of humanity--certainly enough to know I don't like most humans--I can tell you that there are truths to be found in generalities about groups. Where things start to fray is in applying those averages, those generalities to individual members of those groups. It takes a steady mind to avoid bigotry, and we are all of us guilty of it regardless of skin color.

For example, the myriad problems in Nigeria have at their root the deep divides between Nigerian ethnic and attendant religious groups: the eastern Igbos, reputed to be more intelligent than the northern Hausas, don't like the western Yorubas, etc. And they each say things about each other in generalities: "Don't trust an Igbo trader, son. He's out to steal as much as he can. Learn to bargain!" And so on.

We are generalization engines. We categorize. We sort and classify. It's what has made us the dominant species on the planet. But it is also the bane of our existence. The source of much strife, of war, of violence, of evil. With this in mind, let's talk about genetics, of which I know just enough from High School & College biology (I was a Zoology major at a University in Nigeria, intending on going on to Medical School). It is a fact that certain attributes pass genetically from generation to generation. It is, truly, settled science if there ever was such a thing. Among black Americans, a doctor will say, high blood pressure is more common. Sickle Cell Anemia is prevalent among black Africans, etc.

Chances are, you inherited your father's thighs or your mother's breasts--which would really suck for you if you're a man. Chances are, you'll likely die from the same disease that killed one of your grandfathers, if medical science doesn't find a cure. Chances are, people will say you have your mother's green eyes, Chances are, you and your sisters share your grandmother's Roman nose. And the list goes on.

There's no valid reason why genetic inheritance of attributes should stop, by human fiat, at the neck and go no higher. Those calf muscles you got from your father, but no one knows why you both suck at mathematics. No idea. Nonsense. Intelligence and the attendant capability is heritable. I've seen it, you've seen it. I believe, based on the evidence, that this is a fact of life.

Well now, what about groups? Ah now there's where the road is not so easy to walk. The Nazis (you knew it was coming) used the "biological fact" of racial differences to send millions to the gas chambers. Does this, one wonders, therefore invalidate the study of racial differences? Of course not, because to do so is to commit a logical fallacy. Are there racial differences between peoples and are those differences genetic? I say yes. Race, like sex, is most certainly not a social "construct" and it is foolish to think otherwise.

And if by extension, there are biological--including morphology--differences between the races, transferrable through the genes, and if, intelligence is likewise transferrable through the genes, it ought to follow that there are differences in intelligence between the races. As a half-black, half-white man, this makes sense to me; it does not make me uncomfortable in the least.

And this is why: I do not apply what I know to be true about groups to the individual members of that group. For two reasons: first because it's committing a logical fallacy to do otherwise and also because earlier I declared the bias that I am a Christian. What that means is that in the way I live my life and in my interactions with people, there are certain rules and regulations that govern and provide guidance to those interactions. I believe I am made in God's image (Imago Dei) and I also believe every human being on the planet is also made in God's image. This does not nullify the fact of our differences, of which there are many: racial, ideological, political, and so on. What is does do is require that I act accordingly for we are, all of us, God's children, brothers and sisters.

The problem is, we're humans. Fallible and fallen creatures that really suck generally. With evil in the heart, we seize on our differences to rationalize our evil actions against others. It is "harder" to shoot your son in the head than a stranger's. It is "easier" to kick a dog (Canis familiaris) than it is to kick a child (Homo sapiens). People and things that are different from us are easier to act against with malice. It is the stuff of which human history is made and all you have to do to convince yourself of this reality is to read a few history books.

So then, for argument's sake accept the fact of the matter that there are differences between the races. The question now is, so what? From which follows, no what? What are we to do with this information? As with most questions posed to humanity, it comes fraught with advantage and danger.

My doctor asks me for a family history so he can help me avoid "family-related" problems so I can live longer and healthier than my mother who died young. The racist down the street from me assumes because of my mother's skin color that I am unintelligent, if not outright stupid, and because of this, am two steps away from being violent. Well, in a way, he's right: I am steps away from being violent, but that requires he takes the first few steps first. :)

For good and for bad, there are differences between the races. For good, we can tailor health practices to ensure we all live longer. For bad, we can have Auschwitz. Personally, for you, as an individual, what should this bit of information do for you? Information, data, sitting there means nothing. You may as well have never known it--and I believe this is the path many take, to turn a blind eye. Does this mean that you will act in a certain way when you meet a black person? An Arab? A Jew? A Chinese man? Will it change the way you would have acted?

If it is shown that the intelligence of black Africans is lower than that of white Europeans, does this mean you now understand why black African countries are such hell holes? Does this remove the blinders, everything now clear? Does the relatively high intelligence of the Ashkenazi Jews now mean we should only have those Jews be scientists? Drawing only from that class of persons the doctors, engineers? Are you, as a white man, better than me, as a half-white man who is in turn better than a fully-black man? What does "better" mean in this situation?

As a government, do we start passing legislation barring certain groups from occupying certain posts in society based on genetics? Are we to segregate blacks in certain sections of our cities (which they already do on their own, by choice, it seems)? Japanese? Do we pass laws requiring that blacks cannot intermarry with Asians because the ensuing offspring will be "less capable" for society?

What do we do with this information, considering it's truth? Now, what? Considering how bad we are at statistics, replete through and through with cognitive bias after cognitive bias, now what.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tears on My Pillow

Ran into this gem published by our newspaper of record (I use that term loosely) here in Idaho, The Statesman. I'm going to quote it and intersperse my thoughts.
When a powerful organization called al-Qaida nurtures the violent fantasies of angry and disaffected men and enables them to obtain weapons and kill innocent civilians, we call that terrorism.
When a profit-driven industry lobby called the NRA makes it easy as pie for any angry or even crazy person to get handguns and assault weapons and act out their own violent fantasies against family and community members, does that count as terrorism, too?
Right off, you get the sense this is going to be a well-reasoned, thoughtful and sober reflection on the issues. "al-Qaida" is compared with the National Rifle Association because they both nurture the violent "fantasies of men" (not women?) by enabling them to "obtain weapons and kill innocent civilians."

Yes, those two organizations are different in name, perhaps, but that's where all difference ends. Must I point out the insanity of conflating these two organizations, really? Must I? Oh alright, I suppose I must. The NRA (I mean 'al-Qaida') enables crazy people to get handguns and assault weapons. I'd like to know how it does that exactly. Does it buy them the handguns? Does it encourage the crazy people to commit these atrocities? Does it put the evil in their minds, maybe using some "Inception"-type brainwashing? Does it make them crazy in the first place? I'm not quite clear what this person means by "enabling" because "easy as pie" isn't exactly a methodology.

To purchase a firearm, the NRA (I mean, 'al-Qaida') plays no part in the transaction whatsoever. To purchase a firearm, the person has two choices: buy from a dealer or buy from a private citizen. To purchase from a dealer, they must first have money, which isn't exactly easy to come by. So called "assault weapons" (so called because there's no one legal definition for what an assault weapon is) are expensive and the NRA, if anything, takes money not gives it.

At the dealership, the prospective buyer must pass a background check to ensure he or she is not a "prohibited person." Felons cannot purchase firearms, neither can those adjudicated mentally insane. So far, no 'Easy Pie' but it is simple as a concept: if you're not a felon or otherwise prohibited, nothing should come in the way of your obtaining a firearm, which is a right as recognized by the Second Amendment.

So what about private purchases? The first point to make here is an important and philosophical one: a firearm is not a sentient being, capable of making choices on its own. It is a tool, designed for the specific purpose of throwing a projectile in a certain direction, that direction chosen by the wielder of the firearm. It is a piece of property, no more no less. In many ways, it's like a car or a boat. As a private citizen, I ought to be able to sell my own private property, period. If you don't agree with this simply because it is a firearm, you are a tyrant-in-the-making.

That said, there are laws governing such transactions specifically because it is a firearm: the seller must be reasonably certain that the buyer is not a prohibited person. This means that most purchasers who do not know the buyer beforehand will insist on getting a bill of sale filled out, an ID check, and many insist that the buyer have a Concealed Weapons Permit which shows they've already passed an FBI background check. So far, no pie and the NRA (I mean 'al-Qaida') still hasn't made an appearance.

But, you protest, criminals and other prohibited persons get their guns somewhere! That's right: they buy them from other criminals. They do not go into gun stores. They do not buy them from law-abiding private citizens. Read the FBI reports on this and you'll find that criminals get the majority of their guns from strawman purchases (bad boy thug felon sends his baby momma who has no criminal record to buy him a gun) and of course from the streets.

As for crazy people obtaining firearms, until the day we can merely look at a person who has shown no signs of mental illness beforehand and foresee they are about to become insanely violent, we are forced to give them the benefit of the doubt. Mental illness is a terrible thing, but we all should not be guilty of it before clinical diagnosis. As easily as the mentally ill can use a firearm to cause violence, they can use a knife (as happened in China with those poor children) and they can use a car (too many examples of this abound) or something else, usually benign. It is the responsibility of society at large that before we strip someone of their unalienable rights--which include bearing arms--a sober judicial process must occur. We shouldn't be required to prove our sanity before exercising a basic and natural right. On second thought, maybe we ought to require proof of sanity before voting!

Now for "angry" persons obtaining firearms--what a ludicrous idea! Who hasn't been an "angry" person a few times in life? Prohibiting people from obtaining firearms because they're "angry" is insanity itself and pretty much rules out every man, woman, and child on the planet. Which is perhaps his goal, and if so, why doesn't he just say so?
As with most of the stupidity and irrationality in American public life, our friends, neighbors and family members are being killed on a weekly basis nationwide because this is what we have asked for, either by voting for politicians who are stooges of the NRA, or by not voting at all and thus leaving the decision to zealots.
In one breath you call Americans stupid and irrational but your "friends, neighbors and family members" who are killed on a weekly basis aren't stupid and irrational, they're just dead. Are those people not part of the stupid and irrational American public life? The connection he attempts to show between voting for politicians who are NRA (I mean, 'al-Qaida') stooges and his "friends and neighbors" being killed is tenuous, at best.

Let's see here: the politicians in Chicago, Democrats almost all, are hardly NRA stooges. In fact, Chicago and the state of Illinois has some of the most stringent gun regulations on the books. Yet it also has some of the highest murder rate committed with handguns (not "assault weapons," mind you which are statistically insignificant) in the nation. In fact, the areas with politicians who write the most stringent gun control measures into law have the highest rates of "gun violence." Interesting, that, no? So it seems where there's no NRA ('al-Qaida'), there's higher rates of "gun violence" which, alas, doesn't help his points.
So tell me again that a nation flooded with guns and plagued with mass murders is somehow freer and safer than nations such as Australia, Canada or England with vastly lower murder rates.
Somehow, I'm not feeling it.
And that's the key, isn't it? This whole letter is composed of "feels." You're not "feeling" it because basically, that's about all you're doing, is feeling. This is an unsteady appeal to emotion. None of the clear-eyed statistics actually supports your contentions so you blast out in a spittle stream of over-emotionality.

Well, I'm sure sorry to tell you this, but your feelings have no weight in overturning Second Amendment rights. As most Americans now agree, based on polling data, the Second Amendment is sacrosanct and gun control is nothing more than people control in hiding. The fact that someone, somewhere, will misuse their right to own firearms is not a reason to strip those rights away from everyone else. The fact that someone, somewhere, is sure to drink and drive is no reason to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Unless and until you commit a crime or are adjudicated mentally unstable, your rights are yours, given by the Constitution's 'Creator' and are not subject to your feelings.

As for the spurious claim about our nation flooded with guns is less "freer and safer" than Australia, Canada, or England, well that just does not hold any water! England and Australia have different populations in both numbers and culture than we do. Not only that, but their violence rates are higher per capita than ours. In fact, the United States is number 111 (One hundred and Eleven) in homicide rates worldwide and, if we take out the Democrat-controlled cities, we would fall even lower. We are freer, yes, and come to find out, we're safer, too.

Watch this, if you dare:

As an aside, it's rather interesting that you're calling out Australia and Canada where in the last few months violence with highly-regulated firearms have exploded into the news. France, with its Draconian firearms laws, just saw Islamic terrorists (NRA members?) murder police and journalists with semi-automatic rifles. How do you explain that away, I wonder?
And yes, I've been a gun owner all my adult life, am pro-hunting and attended the police funeral following the previous Moscow mass murders in 2007. Still not feeling it.
Chris Norden, Moscow
Well, Chris, the fact you're a gun owner "all your life" means nothing. It does not grant your opinion any more weight. That you want to limit firearm ownership, while being a firearm owner yourself, means nothing. It's a cheap rhetorical ploy to cover yourself in a mantle of reasonableness. It's sort of like saying that because you're married to a Jew, you are thereby free to be an anti-Semite.

The Second Amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with "hunting." Nice try. Go sell your crazy somewhere else, pal. Like Chicago.

I'm not a member of the NRA but this guy has given me all the reason I need to pull the trigger (no pun). Today, I'm joining the NRA (I mean, 'al-Qaida').

Read more here:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Triple Check

So as many of you have seen, this is what your hand would look like if or when a 9mm Speer Golddot +P goes into your palm and out through your wrist. It's not a good feeling at all. Having been shot by one now I know why so many people like them. Even after a couple hours, morphine and an oxycodone I still feel like a tank is sitting on my arm with a fire brand inside. I'll have everyone know I didn't cry at all the while time and no one else was endangered by the gun when it went off. Now for exactly what happened : I had just made it home from work and was gonna oil my gun and put my new grip pin and trigger pins in the gun. It was loaded with gold dot +Ps and I dropped the mag racked the slide and was pulling the trigger to take the slide off and had my palm in front of the muzzle to pull the tabs down like I would with any unloaded glock. I shot through my hand and out my wrist. I did everything right but the bullet didn't eject so there was still a bullet in the chamber. It's been a good learning experience for me, even though it sucks to have to learn the hard way to triple check, it's worth it in the end. Thanks to everyone who has checked on me, sorry I haven't replied go everyone but I wanted to make this post so everyone understood what happened exactly. I appreciate any prayers while I try and rest up and heal. Thank you all my friends!! #glock
A photo posted by Hunter (@hunterrwill) on

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ew, Christians

Douthat is right;
Palmer’s secular and scientistic worldview, of course, is not the worldview of the classical world, which was far more inegalitarian and cruel than the still-Christian-influenced secular humanism of our own era.
Read the rest, then with that in mind, read Palmer's loathsome article for Slate.