Sunday, August 09, 2009

Flesh and spirit: Over at iSteve, we see that liberals continue to worship the Scandinavians and are mystified by their efficiency. More than once, Steve has made the emperor-has-no-clothes point that, duh, Scandinavians are so... Scandinavian. The funny thing is that we totally get his tautology. He's not saying that their institutional arrangements are efficient, or that they have the right culture, or that they act as they do because of historical circumstances. When you talk about identity, we automatically think biology.

Why do people get angry when HBD-ers claim that the racial IQ gap is part genetic, and not when others say that blacks are dumb because of bad schools? It's because we believe that we are our genes, but we are not our environment. At the genetic level, egalitarians tell us, we're all potential Einsteins. Our true selves are awesome, it's just the institutions are bad.

This is all very convenient for liberals, but I detect an inconsistency. When I was in student, profs kept assigning readings that argued that on the question of abortion, nurture trumps nature. The body doesn't matter; it's culture that defines who you are. Then I'd read about some exotic tribe that doesn't consider you human until you can speak. Much of social science sees human beings the same as religious folks do: minds or spirits residing in a house of flesh. But it adds a collectivist twist that all spirits are interconnected and the product of each other. So which is it? Is our core spirit or flesh? Come on now: flesh is the only serious answer. You can have flesh without spirit, but no spirit without flesh.

Okay, you say, but what about all the biologists who are pro-choice? My guess is this, and people should weigh in an tell me where I'm wrong. It's overkill to call it the Mengela Syndrome, but it does get at the phenomenon that familiarity and science breed callousness. I don't have data, but many doctors and nurses seem to favor things like abortion and physician-assisted suicide because the job requires one to objectify the patient. It's too hard to get your job done if every person you treat is as human as, say, your own child. You might respond that they see a lot of suffering and want to relieve it. Fair enough, but science in general encourages the objectification of humans. There is a tendency to see them as objects to be manipulated. As much as I respect science, it is one cold bastard.

(Also--science breeds secularism which breeds liberalism, and people often pick their views to match those of their political party.)


  1. "It's overkill to call it the Mengela Syndrome, but it does get at the phenomenon that familiarity and science breed callousness."

    Tenderness decreases as we prove

    --Emily Dickinson.

  2. "One cold bastard?" How many times have we heard that in regards to HBD? "But... but... even if it's true, it's not nice!" Better the comforting lie than the harsh reality, eh? But it's cruel to be kind. When your false but comforting map leads you over the edge of a canyon, how nice is it, really?

  3. I don't know. I think most HBDers accept the existence of an environmental component, we just think that there is a genetic component to most human behavioral variation as well.

  4. I'm not convinced liberals don't think Scandinavia is Scandinavia because of culture. Hell, I think culture is a huge part of it myself. They used to be Vikings, after all.

  5. Anonymous6:53 PM

    Scandinavians are honest to a fault. In the U.S., this type of system would collapse.

    Some miscellaneous stuff:
    A Swede is unlikely to spew all sorts of vulgarities at you for accidently stepping on his new sneakers.
    A Finn knows when to shut up when the movie starts.
    Norwegians actually use their public trash cans.
    A Dane understands that blasting music at 2:00 AM will disturb sleeping neighbors.

    Until we somehow get people to develop this type of conscientiousness, the Scandinavian model that liberals love will never work.

  6. Anonymous7:10 PM

    First I must state that I pretty much disagree with you re everything on your blog. I am pro-abortion, pro-birth control, pro-death-penalty, and feminist.

    However, unfortunately you are right on the mark that medical science objectifies its patients.

    On some level this is a matter of practicality. A doctor must establish some degree of aloofness from the patient. A doctor that is too emotionally attached to a patient cannot treat that patient with the required analytical ability.

    It is an unfortunate truth.


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