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Sunday, July 13, 2014

A classic left-wing "refutation"

How do you know that Nicholas Wade's A TROUBLESOME INHERITANCE is worth reading? Because the New York Times has published a second hit-piecereview. And it is a classic of its type, utilizing techniques that you see repeatedly here and elsewhere when left-wingers are attempting to cast doubt on something they cannot reasonably rebut.

First, David Dobbs resorts to the popular "Disproof by Citation" tactic. One often sees this used in reference to scientific studies (in particular John Lott's landmark study on gun crime), in which the left-wing critic will claim, almost always falsely, that some hitherto unknown figure has "demolished" or "destroyed" or "refuted" or "totally disproven" the "debunked" piece being cited.
In his 2007 book “A Farewell to Alms,” the economic historian Gregory Clark argued that the English came to rule the world largely because their rich outbred their poor, and thus embedded their superior genes and values throughout the nation. In her comprehensive takedown, the historian Deirdre N. McCloskey noted that Clark’s idea was a “bold hypothesis, and was bold when first articulated by social Darwinists such as Charles Davenport and Francis Galton in the century before last.” Indeed, over the past 150 years, various white Western scientists and writers have repeatedly offered biological explanations for Caucasian superiority. They have repeatedly failed because, as Mc­Closkey noted, none ever mounted a credible quantitative argument.
Note the phrase "comprehensive takedown". That is the first red flag. And yet, even without reading McCloskey, without even reading Clark, we can safely assume that both she, and Dobbs, are not being honest because we know that a) Clark's argument is not the same as those made by the social Darwinists, b) Clark's argument only refers to the English and not other white nations, c) the only part of the "comprehensive takedown" actually cited simply called Clark's idea a "bold hypothesis" before going off onto a tangent attacking other, unrelated parties. Furthermore, Clark does present a credible quantitative argument, one involving "the real day wages of English farm laborers from 1200 to 1800", "homicide rates", and other obviously quantitative factors. As Wade describes it:

"Clark has documented four behaviors that steadily changed in the English population between 1200 and 1800, as well as a plausible mechanism of change. The four behaviors are those of interpersonal violence, literacy, the propensity to save and the propensity to work."

Now, how can you reconcile McCloskey's claim that Clark did not mount a credible quantitative argument with the observable fact that this is exactly what Clark has done, complete with graphs and explanations of exactly how he is quantifying the four behaviors? By reading more carefully and realizing that McCloskey isn't actually addressing Clark, but rather Davenport, Galton, and others from the pre-quantification era of social science. Dobbs knows that most people don't read carefully, they only skim to see what they want to see. He's not actually lying about anything except for the assertion - which is a subjective matter - of the "comprehensive takedown", but he deceives the common reader into thinking that his assertion is supported. 

Second, Dobbs erects a strawman and burns it. Third, he resorts to outright lying.
And despite his protests to the contrary, Wade often sounds as if he sees the rise of the West as a sort of stable endpoint of human history and evolution — as if, having considered 5,000 years in which history has successively blessed the Middle East, the Far East and the Ottoman Empire, he observes the West’s current run of glory and thinks the pendulum has stilled.

If Wade could point to genes that give races distinctive social behaviors, we might overlook such shortcomings. But he cannot.
So, Wade specifically and repeatedly states he is not doing what Dobbs thinks he is doing, which Dobbs then uses as justification to reach a conclusion that manifestly and absurdly contradicts everything Wade is saying. Wade never claims that "the pendulum has stilled", quite to the contrary, his ENTIRE ARGUMENT depends upon the idea that the pendulum never stops swinging. And Wade does point to genes, specific genes, including the MAO-A gene, the SLC24A5 gene, the ABCC11 gene, and the EDAR gene that give races distinctive features as well as, in the case of the MAO-A gene, observably affecting their social behaviors.

Fourth and finally, Dobbs resorts to Vox's Second Law of Critical Dynamics. If I can imagine it, it must be assumed true. If you can't conclusively prove it, it must be assumed false.

Learn to recognize these deplorable rhetorical tactics. And never, ever, take a left-winger's word for anything. You'll be surprised how often they blatantly lie in the hopes that you won't bother doing the research necessary to call them out on it.

Labels: ,

59 Comments:

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2014 July 13, 2014 5:52 AM  

Epigenetics throws in the ultimate curve ball. To what extent is the culture causing the expression?

In reaching for any meta narrative it is important to note that commentaries assuming secularism are built on the delusion of the null set hypothesis with respect to religion - that states of pure existential rationalism can exist.

Anglophiles can guess why Britannia ruled the waves.

Christians would be foolish to do so.

Secularism destroys nations and individuals. Oliver Cromwell's "He that prays and preaches best will fight best" is merely an observation. The fact that historians have tried to white out Cromwell is telling.

[in my humble opinion - keep up the good work]

Anonymous Idle Liberal July 13, 2014 5:57 AM  

WOW JUST WOW

I cannot believe this is even on the internet in 2014.

SOMEONE SHOULD REPORT YOU

Anonymous Idle Spectator July 13, 2014 6:01 AM  

And Wade does point to genes, specific genes, including the MAO-A gene, the SLC24A5 gene, the ABCC11 gene, and the EDAR gene that give races distinctive features as well as affecting their social behaviors.

I wonder which genes are responsible for making a 63 IQ Caucasian clearly retarded, while a 63 IQ Ethiopian is perfectly presentable, and in fact, enjoyable to be around.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 6:34 AM  

SOMEONE SHOULD REPORT YOU

To the cyberpolice, one assumes. Consequences will never be the same!

Blogger buzzardist July 13, 2014 6:34 AM  

These summaries of Gregory Clark are simply wrong. Even more than Vox notes, they are wrong. Clark did not argue that England came to rule the world because their rich outbred their poor, instilling Caucasians with superior genes. Clark makes one reference to the possibility that there could be a genetic factor involved as a matter of mere speculation in the epilogue of a long book. For most of the book, he discusses how the wealthy passed on various virtues, sensibilities, and behaviors. Whether these were socially instilled or genetic really isn't material to his argument at all.

And, no, Clark does not offer this as a sufficient explanation for why the English took over the world. He doesn't even argue that the English took over the world. He's looking at the conditions that led to the Industrial Revolution, but, as he observes, the wealthy have outbred the poor in many societies, so this alone doesn't answer the question of why the Industrial Revolution happened.

Clark suggests that there must be something particular in English behavioral characteristics that were distinctive from previous societies, but this isn't his primary concern. Clark's main point is simply to dispel the myth that the Industrial Revolution and modern societies are bottom-up, up-from-the-bootstraps cultures. They aren't, and Clark demonstrates convincingly with plain numbers that it was downward mobility, not upward mobility at play during the Industrial Revolution. The bottom economic quartile of society had children survive at far below the replacement rate. The next quartile was barely at replacement rate. The next quartile finally started supplying kids significantly faster than people died. The top quartile averaged more than four kids per woman, far ahead of any other economic group.

Clark uses the observation that social movement was primarily (but not exclusively) downward to argue that this condition must have had far-reaching social effects. Second sons and the daughters who married wanted to reclaim the wealth that they knew as children. They'd received upper-class educations, and they'd received from their parents behaviors conducive to wealth accumulation. As a result, Clark argues, these fallen gentility worked hard and saved. A few were actually successful in reclaiming the wealth and status into which they'd been born. A few unfortunately ones fell even further down the social ladder. Most became the middle class, a demographic of educated people who largely fell from gentility, not who rose out of poverty. Poverty ultimately decreased because the poor didn't repopulate quickly.

Clark's speculation at the end of Farewell to Alms that there may be a genetic component involved is one that he doesn't begin to try to support until his next book, The Son Also Rises. There, he traces family names and matches them with particular professions (like medicine) that indicate high levels of intelligence and economic success. In this book, he steps outside of just England to look at populations around the world. In every society, Clark found, there were at least one or two last names that were statistically over-represented among successful professions. The study says nothing about racial superiority. But Clark was able to rule out mere material advantages based on how certain surnames succeeded over generations, even when the past generation may have fallen on hard times. Genetically, there is something passed along that if a person is born to one of these successful families, that person is more likely to be successful.

If liberals could just manage to state Clark's arguments fairly, we could begin to have a discussion. But they don't, and they won't. That discussion will not go well for them if they do.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 6:39 AM  

These summaries of Gregory Clark are simply wrong. Even more than Vox notes, they are wrong.

I haven't read Clark yet. But I'm not even remotely surprised to learn that the false characterization of his work is even more deceitful than I'd been able to tell from reading Wade.

The Left habitually favors rhetoric over dialectic, which usually makes it very easy to crucify them on rhetorical grounds using a dialectical base. But only if you do your homework and they're counting on the fact that virtually no one ever does.

And they have a strategy for those who do. They call them crackpots and extremists and try to justify avoiding any debate that will expose their deceitful rhetoric for what it is.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan July 13, 2014 7:09 AM  

Simply ask a leftard if they believe in the Blank Slate Theory, this crushes them simply because there exist no proof whatsoever for the BST, it is their Easter Bunny.

The whole of the modern left is built upon a fraud, hell I'll bet Marx would call them on this fraud, but thanks to Boas and his tribe of kooks and the people who are stupid enough to believe in utopia on Earth.

Anonymous jack July 13, 2014 7:13 AM  

Seems I must read Clark. Sounds like a sound mind at work there.
And, no, I'm not a racist/sexist/misogynistic/homophobic. I would enjoy improving my education, even at the expense of some abused sensitivities by some on the left.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan July 13, 2014 7:32 AM  

Good dob Jack of listing off the Four Horsemen of the Libtard Apocalypse and furthering there use as propaganda perjorative.

Anonymous jack July 13, 2014 7:40 AM  

Re Blank Slate Theory:
I suppose you could argue Locke's ideas till hell becomes chilly. I would suspect that the human baby largely does have a 'blank slate' (mortal mind wise) at birth, but, that slate and its abilities to be effectively 'written to' can, logically, have an genetic component that gives it added advantage. Maybe like two computers that start at the same basepoint after the operating system is installed but one might have 640k of fast memory and the other 4 or 8 GB of same. Guess which one will work better and go farther?
I don't know. As the technical world of the transhumanists matures and AI's are built, especially those that will be biologically based, we may find out some more advanced answers. Of course, there will always be those groups of humans, with corrupted memory or operating systems, that will deny anything not contained in a narrow world view. However, Soul is given by God, and however it happens, with whatever other advantages are in place, it cannot be denied that culture has it's impacts on the finished product. I cannot believe that an individual can 'manufacture, their own soul, regardless the Starbuck latte speedup in the minds of leftyites. This may be one answer to 'free will.' God hands out your OS and then you get to have at it.

Anonymous porphyry July 13, 2014 7:47 AM  

Where can I find a list of Vox's laws of critical dynamics? thanks

Anonymous reasonable cat lady July 13, 2014 7:50 AM  

SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!

Anonymous Hunsdon July 13, 2014 7:58 AM  

Deirdre McCloskey? That's the one who has described himself as a "literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative'! I'm a Christian libertarian."

Now that's who I'm going to turn to for rational, dispassionate, informed analysis.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 8:04 AM  

Where can I find a list of Vox's laws of critical dynamics? thanks

They are still in development. The first two:

FIRST LAW OF CRITICAL DYNAMICS: Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from insanity.

SECOND LAW OF CRITICAL DYNAMICS: If I can imagine it, it must be assumed true. If you can't conclusively prove it, it must be assumed false.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 8:09 AM  

Do not insist on commenting off-topic like that on your favorite subject again, Pat. That is a good way to find yourself in the spamfile. Monomanias are not smiled upon here.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 8:38 AM  

It's always amusing to see the bravado: "Go ahead and spam me." It makes me smile when, weeks, sometimes months, later, I get an email crying about how their comments keep disappearing.

Yes, that's exactly what happens once you're dumb enough to get yourself spammed. It will happen on every Blogger blog on which you comment. And, once I spam you, it's out of my control.

Anonymous Logan July 13, 2014 8:48 AM  

Yes, I'm also used to these debate tactics. The "Disproof by Citation" tactic is constantly used against Christina Hoff Summers' criticisms of feminism.

"Her statistics have been completely debunked... cuz someone in my Gender Studies class says so."

Anonymous Laz July 13, 2014 8:51 AM  

" I am a cleverer guy than you."

Smarter than a MENSA member? I highly doubt it.

Anonymous Big Bill July 13, 2014 8:52 AM  

The essence of Critical Theory is the take-down. Destroy, destroy, destroy. Do not get caught in the dialectical trap of having to propose a counter-society, counter-order, counter-religion, counter-ideology, counter-anything that is "better". From their perspective, once we have destroyed Evil Hegemony, whatever happens, happens, but it will surely give us more power that we have now.

You cannot expect the Crits to engage on a dialectical level.

Blogger Cataline Sergius July 13, 2014 9:00 AM  

Epigenetics studies are becoming a problem for every sacred cow out there. Just as an example, The Epigenetics studies on genes that are likely to express,..

..short version the guys who are working on inherited cancer, have found out that 16% of men born between 1920 and 1945, weren't actually the father's of their children. 16% of sweet little old grannies were a little too sweet when they were at their peak SMV.

Blogger Glen Filthie July 13, 2014 9:40 AM  

"You cannot expect the Crits to engage on a dialectical level..."

Said another way, Bill - you can't argue with idiots. Hate to say it, but our parents were not ignorant, hateful monsters. They understood a few things about coloured people that we today refuse to despite Africa, and places like Detroit and California.
One need not rely on scientific studies anymore - the empirical evidence of racial/cultural/sexual equality is all around us.

Anonymous DJF July 13, 2014 9:46 AM  

VD writes"""""The Left habitually favors rhetoric over dialectic, which usually makes it very easy to crucify them on rhetorical grounds using a dialectical base. But only if you do your homework and they're counting on the fact that virtually no one ever does."""""

They are also counting on that it takes time to do the homework and by the time you get it done and respond they have already moved onto a new variation of their taking points. You may respond with a fact based destruction of their argument but it buried in the comment section of their blog/paper/whatever and almost nobody reads it.

Only those people who are already experts in the subject or those who have their own access to major media can respond in time or with a big audience. They count on this and that is why they attack the qualification of the experts and also those who can get a big audience

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 10:00 AM  

They count on this and that is why they attack the qualification of the experts and also those who can get a big audience

That may explain why the trolling has steadily increased over time. It's been a bit bizarre to be increasingly accused of irrelevance while the blog traffic has increased 500 percent.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 10:02 AM  

Now, how can you rectify McCloskey's claim that Clark did not mount a credible quantitative argument with the observable fact that this is exactly what Clark has done

Did you mean reconcile?

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 10:10 AM  

I wonder which genes are responsible for making a 63 IQ Caucasian clearly retarded, while a 63 IQ Ethiopian is perfectly presentable, and in fact, enjoyable to be around.

I would say recruitment. That is, in those groups who have higher IQ parts of the brain that would be used for facile and meaningless conversation have been recruited for other intelligence-related functions. They would have been backfilled during subsequent development, but the retardation prevented that.

Anonymous Stilicho July 13, 2014 10:14 AM  

Critical Dynamics Proposed Rule: Height, hair, eyes, musculature, etc. are observably heritable while observing the heritability of intelligence makes one a de facto and de jure racist. Besides, intelligence and race do not exist.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 10:18 AM  

I would suspect that the human baby largely does have a 'blank slate'

I think you have to understand which parts of the slate are blank.

For example, babies are born knowing how to speak, they simply do not know the current local language and have to learn that. However, the breathing control, the production of sounds etc, is all pretty much hard-wired.

There are a number of other things that are pretty much hard wired, like recognizing the behavior styles of members of the same sex, etc.

Anonymous VD July 13, 2014 10:33 AM  

Did you mean reconcile?

Yes, corrected, thanks.

Anonymous Ed Sullivan July 13, 2014 10:36 AM  

Vox is a Libertarian, so of course he stands strongly against doing anything that would benefit another person.

Anonymous Stilicho July 13, 2014 10:38 AM  

There's a thread for that, Ed.

Anonymous Uncle Scrub Junky July 13, 2014 10:50 AM  

We are with you, Mr. Day!

Anonymous Fran July 13, 2014 11:18 AM  

What the hell does that mean, Ed?
And USJ, is that you on the right?

Blogger Random July 13, 2014 11:25 AM  

Ed's keen insight and piercing wit have surely driven our host tears.

Anonymous we find these truths to be self evident July 13, 2014 11:30 AM  

Maybe Vox is pretending to troll his own blog. Is Vox Ed?

Stranger things have happened.

Go Messi!

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 11:30 AM  

I suspect that Malcolm Fraser has been caught with his pants down once more ... and is USJ, since both of those are Australian themed postings ... go away!

Blogger Shibes Meadow July 13, 2014 11:45 AM  

There is no place in today's society for hate!!

Anonymous Curtis LeMay July 13, 2014 12:25 PM  

Hey Vox, here's one for you:

Terror, like charity, begins at home


All my friends are completely fucked, but they're such fun to have around.

Anonymous Athor Pel July 13, 2014 12:31 PM  

"Ayn Rand July 13, 2014 11:56 AM
...
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen."
...



Who knew Ayn Rand worshiped the Queen of Heaven? I didn't see that one coming. No, not at all.

Better watch out for those iconoclasts Ayn, they'll find your asherah and destroy it.

Anonymous Sir Walter Scott July 13, 2014 12:32 PM  

The one you deleted:

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well!
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,—
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonour’d, and unsung.

(It's all about you)

Anonymous Bobo July 13, 2014 1:05 PM  

"(It's all about you)"

It's all about me, too. Ouch, that hurt.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 1:09 PM  

Cleanup in aisle five. Someone was incontinent.

Anonymous All Hail J'America July 13, 2014 1:15 PM  

Those crazy brave, screwball Americans.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FxZF3FkmtU

Anonymous The Third Temple July 13, 2014 1:16 PM  

I just feel like punching the air! Heil Israel! God Bless Haifa!

Blogger Shibes Meadow July 13, 2014 1:23 PM  

He backtraced it!

Anonymous Free Enterprise July 13, 2014 1:30 PM  

It's a season of firsts:

Vox Day is the first American Libertarian (are there any other kinds?) to declare that everyone can burn on account of his need to buy at the best price from Amazon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3xgNXkuCz8

Anonymous Jack Amok July 13, 2014 1:54 PM  

Dobbs resorts to Vox's Second Law of Critical Dynamics. If I can imagine it, it must be assumed true. If you can't conclusively prove it, it must be assumed false.

I've noticed this tactic, especially the first part, getting increased use by the ankle bitters around here lately. It strikes me as classic hamerstering. They started with a conclusion and are just looking for ways to rationalize it.


They are also counting on that it takes time to do the homework and by the time you get it done and respond they have already moved onto a new variation of their taking points.

Reminds me of Churchill's quote about the lie being halfway around the world before the truth has it's boots on. And good insight DJF on how that fuels their need to disqualify anyone who has the facts close at hand to refute them.

Anonymous Luke July 13, 2014 2:19 PM  

Indirectly related to the OT (and to those who still believe that the act of crossing the Rio Grande converts crude nonWestern 3rd Worlders into latter-day Thomas Jeffersons):

http://www.unz.com/isteve/universal-pre-k-of-the-apes/

Chimpanzees raised by humans no cleverer

5:00PM BST 10 Jul 2014

"Chimpanzees raised by humans turn out to be no cleverer than those given an ape upbringing, research has shown.

Genes largely determine a chimp’s intelligence, a study has shown – and human intervention makes no difference to it at all.

Research into chimp intelligence could help scientists get a better handle on human IQ, say scientists. …

The new research involving 99 chimpanzees from a wide range of ages showed that genes explained about 50% of the differences seen in their intelligence test scores.

Chimps raised by human caretakers did no better in the tasks than individuals brought up by their chimpanzee mothers."

Anonymous Anti-Democracy Activist July 13, 2014 2:58 PM  

I suggest a Law of Critical Dynamics having to do with the left's belief that anthropologists are qualified to refute biologists on biology. This could relate to their belief that there is something that especially qualifies biologists to speak authoritatively on philosophy, astrophysicists on theology, and linguists on international politics and military affairs.

Blogger JACIII July 13, 2014 4:32 PM  

Apparently the leftist mind has not been set at ease over Wade's blasphemy. Dodd is simply saying reassuringly to the vapid, "It's ok to go back to ignoring what your eyes can see."

Anonymous The other skeptic July 13, 2014 4:46 PM  

No wonder the fudgepacking trolls are turning up here so frequently. They are trying to distract from the increase in AIDS rate among them.

Blogger rcocean July 13, 2014 6:07 PM  

This is just a variation on they did on Charles Murray when the "Bell Curve" come out. Depsite the fact that Murray went out of his way to state -correctly - that the book WASN'T about race, and WASN'T about inherited intelligence, the Liberals smeared him with "Racism" just the same.

How do you know when a Leftist is lying? When he opens his mouth.

Blogger rcocean July 13, 2014 6:09 PM  

By the way, reading a book about the best books of 1926-1935 by a liberal, but honest, librarian. This books was published in 1936. In it, she cites Durranty's book on the USSR as "the most honest, objective, reporting we have on Stalin and the USSR" and that "The NYT editors have double checked his facts to make sure they are accurate"

LOL

Blogger CM July 13, 2014 9:11 PM  

They are trying to distract from the increase in AIDS rate among them.

There's an outbreak in O-Town... and they are claiming its among people who typically are not at risk. I should go get tested.

Anonymous Daniel H July 13, 2014 9:18 PM  

>>And yet, even without reading McCloskey, without even reading Clark, we can safely assume that both SHE, and Dobbs,

McCloskey is not a woman. Donald McCloskey is a freak of a man who had himself castrated, injects himself with synthetic testosterone, wears a dress and prances around, calling himself a woman. A truly sick man.

Blogger CM July 13, 2014 9:21 PM  

McCloskey is not a woman.

Stupid chromies, ruining my delusion with their immutability. The government needs to start funding research into altering chromosomes.

Blogger CM July 13, 2014 9:22 PM  

And I think you meant synthetic estroegen.

Anonymous Daniel H July 13, 2014 9:30 PM  

>>And I think you meant synthetic estroegen.

Oops. Thanks for correcting.

Anonymous Anonymous July 15, 2014 8:29 AM  


Perhaps Dobbs & McCloskey should write a point by point refutation of Wade's work, have it <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/10/scholarly-journal-retracts-60-articles-smashes-peer-review-ring>appropriately peer reviewed like Bellesiles' tome was</a>, then publish it the proper scientific periodical & settle the issue of who's correct once & for all.

Simple as that!


Cassandra (of Troy)

Anonymous Anonymous July 15, 2014 8:40 AM  


Let's try that again & THIS time the right way.:

Sorry 'bout that!

>:~{


C (o T)

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