The headline from LiveScience reads, “Boys with ‘warrior gene’ more likely to join gangs.” The byline reads, “By LiveScience Staff.” This is an era in which the death of a popular president is met with the reminder that he supported “states’ rights,” which was supposed to be racist code to win white votes. Therefore, surely the mainstream media must have had some unease to pass along research on the genetics of the “gangsta.” Despite the Borat-reminiscent choice of subject, the actual study did not broach genetic racial differences. The study reported that males with 2, 3, or 5 repeats of the promoter to the MAOA gene were twice as likely to join gangs and violently use weapons and four times as likely to both join gangs and violently use weapons. Another statistically significant finding was that white males were a third as likely to join gangs as non-white males. That MSNBC would pick up the story about race, violence, and genetics only a week after YouTube banned me for reporting on similar studies is rapid progress, indeed.
Change is here.
Last year, Jared Taylor and John Zmirak had an interesting exchange about race and IQ. Put me in Taylor’s camp, insofar as discussion of IQ is self-defense against blacks’ smashing of American education and standardized testing with disparate impact. However, the IQ emphasis is a throwback to the era of political correctness. This was a time of obfuscation about social science and statistics. The evidence was unsatisfying, and the debates were ugly. Despite some studies uncovering apparent IQ genes like DTNBP1, CHRM2, SNAP25, and COMT, the search for a genetic map of IQ has eluded scientists. A recent review article determined that the effect of any one such gene accounts for less than 1% of IQ variance, and not a single genetic locus is “unequivocally associated” with IQ. Moreover, as Taylor admits, “comparisons are odious.” Comparing IQ scores is particularly unseemly, as the very concept inspires ambivalence. Obsessing over IQ creates the impression that race realists consider the human brain to be little more than an IQ-producing machine. An inability to grasp the multifaceted nature of the personality suggests a lack of dimensionality in one’s own. It is not anti-intellectual to stay the boldest assertions about the genetics of race and IQ until the evidence exceeds mere statistical associations between behaviors and test scores.
So, it is time for race realists to get real. The time for arguing about the biology of intelligence has not yet come. Now is the time to educate people about the steady flow of data showing how recent evolution and the Founder effect have resulted in manifold genetic differences and genetic disparities between racial and ethnic groups. Usually the evidence will be nuanced with different prevalences of specific alleles in specific populations, as is the case with MAOA. However, a patience for working through the daunting complexity will have a lasting impact. The totality of the evidence will take heat off of groups that are traditional scapegoats due to their strengths and successes, such as Asians and whites. Likewise, it will end the patronizing implicit suggestion that sub-Saharan Africans are uniquely lacking in free will, such that oppression is to blame for their every problem. Obviously, the evidence will face resistance. As Jonathan Haidt predicted, “the ‘Bell Curve’ wars of the 1990s, over race differences in intelligence, will seem genteel and short-lived compared to the coming arguments over ethnic differences in moralized traits.”
On the other hand, notice how lacking in dissension the media’s reporting on the “warrior gene” has been. Violence is about as manifest as a phenotype can get. Violent delinquency possesses no equivalent of the Flynn effect. In terms of ethics, racial differences in genetic violence beg the question, “Who is oppressing whom?” I remember how a news anchor empathized with African-Americans who rioted in Los Angeles in 1992. When Indonesians rioted against Chinese people in 1998, no Western media outlet, to my knowledge, bestowed the Indonesians with righteous excuses. Mao Tse-tung said, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” In our media-driven society, the interpretation of violence has a far greater effect than the violence, itself.
The single greatest obstacle to the new racial realism may be overcoming the sense that it is a hopeless conclusion. Considering the latest progress in genetic engineering, as well as the possibility of other treatment modalities and early screening, a moral argument against spreading this knowledge is far more subjugating. What if race realism could cure inequality?