Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Genes without Darwin

As a follow-up to the last post, I wanted to add that conservatives can draw on biological research without emphasizing evolution (Reader David expresses a similar idea). The point is that there is genetic diversity--whatever its source. It explains what nurturism cannot, and it's not going anywhere fast.

The graph shows two things: 1) a sizeable minority of Americans--I included all races--think that genes play a major role in determining personality; and 2) Republicans are a bit more open to the idea than Democrats. As the science continues to come out, conservatives would do well to sing the results from the rooftops. Leave Darwin out of it.

UPDATE: David Hume looks at belief in genes by demographic groups here.


  1. Anonymous7:58 PM

    "conservatives can draw on biological research without emphasizing evolution. The point is that there is genetic diversity--whatever its source."

    No they can't, and doing so is intellectually dishonest. How can you possibly believe that genes come from God (or aliens, I don't know) while adhering to the tenets of HBD? Natural selection, not "God made blacks stupid", is the foundation of the entire movement.

  2. Anonymous,
    Your conclusion doesn't follow. Christians believe that at the bottom, everything comes from God...genes included. However most Christians have historically believed that almost everything is to some degree inherited. They have never been lacking in the practices of animal husbandry, which involves both natural selection and artificial selection. A creationist might well respond to you that yes, God made people, but hundreds of generations of selective breeding and natural selection made some groups of people more intelligent than others. Most Christians would agree that God RARELY interferes in people's sexual selections and similarly rarely interferes in whether someone succeeds in reproducing. So all of the elements necessary for one group of people to diverge in one or more attribute distributions are there and in no way contradicted by Christian beliefs. And the genetic diversity IS there, albeit humans have a LOT less such diversity than most animals, having apparently had a massive genetic bottleneck at some point in our history (this too Christians can get behind, as a serious genetic bottleneck is one of their most popular stories in Genesis). Fountains of the Deep, Mount Toba, anyone?

  3. " the science continues to come out, conservatives would do well to sing the results from the rooftops. Leave Darwin out of it.

    It looks like conservative voters are barely more likely to believe in the potency of genetics. They really don't have anything to shout about that liberals don't.

  4. FemX: My point is that conservatives can grow by using research to show that social engineering doesn't work. For example, people differ in their ability to pay mortgages, so let the market decide.

    Biological research hurts the liberal message. To turn it to their advantange, liberals are going to have to shift to advocating government biological engineering--a jarring shift and a hard sell.

  5. This would not work. People are good at compartmentalization, but not THAT good at it. If you're pushing the idea that "science says this, therefore its true" in one arena, you can't just ignore it in another. Sure, individuals do that all the time, but as a message it can't work. You're either pro-science or anti-science.

    Being that a super-majority of Republicans are firmly in the "anti-science" camp, talking about HBD will never, ever be a successful strategy for a conservative audience. Talking about HBD to the general public makes more sense if you're trying to convince Democrats and moderates.

    Don't worry though, it's easy enough to convince Republicans that brown people suck -- just keep ranting about "illegals" and about how Obama isn't really American and how affirmative action is just. so. unfair. The message is clear enough.

    Oh, and don't forget to call every Democratic person of color a racist!! That's a great sneaky technique. It lets you obsess on their race while pretending you're anti-racist.

  6. Jewish Atheist,

    Natural and artificial selection are in an entirely different class than the theory of evolution through natural selection. One can observe natural selection, and practice artificial selection, and many people do. Both folk genetics ('the apple doesn't fall far from the tree') and Mendel's genetics make testable predictions that anyone can verify and make practical use of---one might say they are falsifiable. People can't hook up say, AGW or evolution in the macro sense in a lab and make a repeatable experiment. Physicists, chemists, and their allied engineers have built up an enormous reservior of prestige based on their discoveries that fit the falsifiable and repeatable criteria that many feel is being wrongly assumed by climate scientists and evolutionists.


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