Do the good rise to the top?

Kim du Toit's pussification post has opened a can of worms much larger than manhood. One of the reasons it touched a raw nerve was because -- rightly or wrongly -- the man dared to speak about something not generally allowed to be addressed. Whether and to what extent controversial topics may be discussed is more important than the subject of manhood. And it is light years more important than the merits of du Toit's argument.

My question: are there some ideas too controversial for the blogosphere?

Let's stay with pussification for now (because I think it is less inflammatory than what's coming up).

Readers may remember that even the controversial du Toit was very careful to stick to conventional, mainstream manhood, of the World War II, Gary Cooper type. By no means did he want his readers to think in terms of what passes for manhood in urban ghettos:

...[N]or am I suggesting we support that perversion of being a Real Man, gangsta rap artists (those fucking pussies -- they wouldn't last thirty seconds against a couple of genuine tough guys that I know).

Speaking of rap music, do you want to know why more White boys buy that crap than Black boys do? You know why rape is such a problem on college campuses? Why binge drinking is a problem among college freshmen?

It's a reaction: a reaction against being pussified. And I understand it, completely. Young males are aggressive, they do fight amongst themselves, they are destructive, and all this does happen for a purpose.

Because only the strong men propagate.

OK. Fair enough. Biology rules. The strong survive. I cannot argue with that.

And because I cannot argue with it (and indeed, what a waste of time it is arguing with nature; you might as well argue against gravity!), I would like to consider some related material I stumbled upon recently. It certainly strikes me as relevant, but whether in a good or a bad way I just don't know; it might supplement du Toit's argument, it might work synergistically with it, or it might furnish a cultural warning sign pointing in a direction those who would lead us might not want to go. (Not being a "leader" and having no such aspirations, I get to pass the buck! To my bigoted and narrow-minded way of thinking, leaders suck almost as much as followers.....)

This is from David Adesnik's (HT Lincoln Cat) hard-hitting review of The Code of the Street, by Elijah Anderson:

I have been profoundly shocked by what I have read. What Anderson describes is nothing short of a culture that glorifies uncontrolled violence and conspicuous consumption while forcefully disparaging the virtues of responsibility, modesty, and compromise.

Anderson says time and again that it is not wrong to fear a young black man walking towards you with a North Face jacket, Timberland boots and an unwelcoming expression. And it is not just white America that fears him. Decent black America fears him. Other young black men may fear him. And perhaps most disturbing of all, this is exactly the reaction that the young man in question wants to provoke.

Frankly, if this book didn't have endorsements given by West, Edelman and Wilson, I would not believe a word it says. How, in the absence of first-hand knowledge, could I possibly conclude that so many black men (and women) subscribe to a set of principles that I (and most black Americans) believe to be nothing short of perverse? How, in the absence of first-hand knowledge, could I accept a version of reality that seems designed to validate an extreme political agenda?

The most heartbreaking section of Prof. Anderson's book concerns inner-city attitudes toward parenting. For the young men Anderson describes, persuading the mother of your child to accept your total abdication of responsibility for its welfare is an achievement, a demonstration of masculine bravado. In contrast, supporting one's child -- either financially or through marriage -- is considered a weakness.

I found this so heartbreaking because it seems to go against the most fundamental source of human compassion, the parental bond. I found it so heartbreaking because the victims of this insanity are innocent children.

While disapproving of it, I understand why many young black women and women denigrate academic achievement, denigrate respect for the law, and denigrate respect for their elders. But to destroy one's own children is more than I can comprehend.

I am still afraid that someone will respond to this post and point out a glaring flaw with Anderson's work that I have missed. A flaw I did not detect because of my own ideological blinders. A flaw exposing a willingness to believe the worst, a willingness that is analytically indistinguishable from racism. But for the moment I am persuaded that this is real.

It is not my job here to dissect Professor Anderson's work, not only because I haven't read it and am not an expert in the field, but because I think his thesis of "manhood" should be treated as true for the sake of argument -- and juxtaposed with du Toit's.

Who are the pussies, who are the real men, and who will win?

Might it be a mistake to answer this question only by looking at such things as brawn, strength, defiance, and a capacity for violence and brutality? Neither skinny little Japanese soldiers, their scrawny counterparts in Vietnam, nor the much touted Gurkha regiments were noted for brawn or brute strength. But they got the job done. It took an enormous effort to defeat the Japanese in World War II, and while there is no substitute for brawn and strength, the Atom Bomb was the product a team of scientists who could very well have been seen as "pussies" -- not only in their own time, but even today. How many real men would have had to die to acheive the same result as was achieved by these pointy-headed intellectuals who couldn't park a bicycle straight?

Is Bill Gates a real man? How much ass has he kicked?

What the hell is going on?

Is there such a thing as IQ? Am I allowed to ask questions about it, or will I run the risk of being demonized?

Take the common bumpersticker (which I'm sure you've all seen): "MY KID CAN BEAT UP YOUR HONOR STUDENT!" While divisive (perhaps on the level of divide-and-conquer?) that bumpersticker is certainly reflective of popular outrage, perhaps common sense, and supplies a rough, man-in-the-street rhetorical equivalent of du Toit's point (although du Toit himself may well have been one of those honor students lucky enough to have been the exception which proves the rule).

Is it smart or strong to encourage antagonism between the smart and the strong? Who benefits?

And, if it is fair to talk about the beaten down real man (no longer allowed by society to boast that his kid can beat up the honor student) is it really fair to neglect the bright kids? Are we doing them a disservice by pretending that a) there is no such thing as IQ; and b) even if there is such a thing, we will not allow it to matter?

Eric S. Raymond strikes me as one of the courageous few who has at least attempted to strike the same blow on behalf of the intellectual underdog which du Toit has for the masculine underdog.

I know, I know, right there many readers will argue that neither are underdogs! That the smart as well as the strong are "advantaged" and, for that reason, must be put down and kept down. du Toit offers a wake-up call to the masculine; RISE UP, REAL MEN! YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE EXCEPT YOUR APRON STRINGS!

Raymond's argument is similar, but more subtle. He merely warns that it is a mistake to ignore reality. Quite courageously (which I guess makes him a real man) he does not sidestep the racial implications:

[M]ale/female differences are insignificant compared to the real hot potato: differences in the mean IQ of racial and ethnic groups. These differences are real and they are large enough to have severe impact in the real world. In previous blog entries I've mentioned the one-standard-deviation advantage of Ashkenazic Jews over gentile whites; that's roughly fifteen points of IQ. Pacific-rim Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans etc.) are also brighter on average by a comparable margin. So, oddly enough, are ethnic Scots though not their close kin the Irish. Go figure...

And the part that, if you are a decent human being and not a racist bigot, you have been dreading: American blacks average a standard deviation lower in IQ than American whites at about 85. And it gets worse: the average IQ of African blacks is lower still, not far above what is considered the threshold of mental retardation in the U.S. And yes, it's genetic; g seems to be about 85% heritable, and recent studies of effects like regression towards the mean suggest strongly that most of the heritability is DNA rather than nurturance effects.

For anyone who believe that racial equality is an important goal, this is absolutely horrible news. Which is why a lot of well-intentioned people refuse to look at these facts, and will attempt to shout down anyone who speaks them in public. There have been several occasions on which leading psychometricians have had their books canceled or withdrawn by publishers who found the actual scientific evidence about IQ so appalling that they refused to print it.

Unfortunately, denial of the facts doesn't make them go away. Far from being meaningless, IQ may be the single most important statistic about human beings, in the precise sense that differences in g probably drive individual and social outcomes more than any other single measurable attribute of human beings.

Bear in mind that I didn't say that.

But take a look at this graph:

murray-iq-place-graph.gif

Again, is common sense being ignored? Put yourself in the position of a boss having to hire a new employee. Given a choice between two qualified applicants, one smarter than the other, who would YOU hire? (I don't think of myself as a bigot, but I have to confess that I would hire the smarter one.)

Eric Raymond's point -- that ignoring reality does not make it go away -- stands in stark defiance against a consensus that things like IQ should be ignored, as should things like masculinity. And more troubling, that somehow both should be made to go away.

A thing which, if possible at all, in my view could only be accomplished by means of the most grotesque methods of B.F. Skinner style social engineering imaginable. (Treatments once used to "cure" homosexuals could be dusted off and used again, you know.....)

Query: IQ stands for "Intelligence Quotient"; should MQ henceforth be measured, and called "Masculinity Quotient"? Or should we just pretend these aren't real things? I am not suggesting that it should be a negative judgment that one guy might not be not as intelligent, or another guy might not be as masculine. But isn't it making just as much of a judgment to stigmatize something as it is to praise it? Hell, I think this calls for the quote of the day:

Moderation, apparently, is inconceivable to some people.
If the whole IQ topic upsets you, then by all means I suggest you browse through some of these links! If you feel about intelligence (one way or the other) the way some people feel about masculinity, why, I'd be willing to bet you'll wind up in a frothing, foam-flecked frenzy! (Links via Upstream, via Eric S. Raymond.)

Why should the idea that there is such a thing as intelligence -- and it can be good -- be more inflammatory than similar ideas about masculinity? Why should either subject be inflammatory? Who gets to decide these things?

Is it a good idea to neglect bright kids, put them down, and drug them into submission?

Does sweeping things like IQ and masculinity under the carpet and pretending they don't exist heighten the possibility the bad (the more uncontrolled, dark sides) will rise to the top instead of the good?

How the hell would I know? I would dread being at the top! Being a borderline anarchist, I tend to distrust leaders and the whole concept of leadership. I define "leaders" as people who would tell me and others what to do. I recognize that there are and always will be such people, but allowing them free "reign" is something I consider anathema to a free society. At the same time, I recognize the need for minimal government, and I think the founders of this country offered a compromise with anarchy. Unfortunately, even that compromise has been compromised.

But "leaders" who would tell me how to be a man are about as ridiculous as those who would tell me how to be a homo -- or how to be intelligent. That kind of leadership I do not follow.

Those who do follow are, in my view, nether masculine nor intelligent. Ironically, of course, intelligence and masculinity can no more be eradicated by lame attempts at leadership than they can be created by leadership. Intelligence is innate. Masculinity is innate. Tampering with either, though, may, by hindering individuals who possess the characteristics, make them into monsters. Intelligent monsters, masculine monsters, or both.

I think the best approach might just be to acknowledge reality, and stop messing with people.

How very naive of me!

posted by Eric on 11.23.03 at 08:37 PM







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Comments

On an almost related tangent, I've long thought thte linking of race, genetics and IQ was a distraction from the real important point the IQ v.s. income studies have shown. That is, children born into low income household to parents with lower than average IQ are likely to have lower than average IQ themselves. Those children are likely to have lower incomes later in life. In that equation race is irrelevant.

Walter   ·  November 24, 2003 11:34 AM

I HATE the idea of equality. Equality is the Big Lie of the Left. The sexes are different, man and woman, masculine and feminine. This is under attack today in the name of equality. The strong, the intelligent, the beautiful, the noble, these are all under attack today in the name of equality. You don't need me to tell you what will happen if we lose these elites, Ayn Rand wrote "Atlas Shrugged" before I was born. Civilization will crumble -- in the name of equality. There will be no liberty. There will be no possibility of happiness. And all our lives will be miserable and pitifully short. We must destroy this lie of equality before it destroys us.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 24, 2003 7:38 PM

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