May 20, 2008

Are the Noble Lies Working?

I think you’d agree, Caleb, that we are currently living in a society in which some subjects are rendered beyond the pale by our patronizing elites: indeed, one’s career can be wrecked not simply for making a crude “nappy-headed hos” comment but for merely speculating on the subject of genetic differences (and even if you happen to be one of the world’s greatest living scientists and the man who helped discover the double-helix). Our noble lies are rigidly enforced. And yet, many of the institutions you mention—specifically families and our legal system—are in advanced stages of decay and collapse. Perhaps we should ask: Are our noble lies really working? Is willful lying actually effective in bringing about social harmony?   

Moreover, I think it’s rather limiting to think that scientists are going to discover a “dumb” gene, or something like this. Indeed, one reason I’d oppose all censorship of science is that we have no idea what today’s finding will lead to in the future. Perhaps they’ll discover evidence that will support The Bell Curve and increase our discomfort. Perhaps they’ll find evidence to prove Murray and Hernstein wrong and inspire social bliss. Perhaps they’ll discover new ways of understanding intelligence that make IQ testing outmoded.

In his latest work, Murray has already been moving well beyond any kind of black/white distinction: 

Homo sapiens actually falls into many more interesting groups than the bulky ones known as ?races.? As new findings appear almost weekly, it seems increasingly likely that we are just at the beginning of a process that will identify all sorts of genetic differences among groups, whether the groups being compared are Nigerian blacks and Kenyan blacks, lawyers and engineers, or Episcopalians and Baptists. At the moment, the differences that are obviously genetic involve diseases (Ashkenazi Jews and Tay-Sachs disease, black Africans and sickle-cell anemia, Swedes and hemochromatosis). As time goes on, we may yet come to understand better why, say, Italians are more vivacious than Scots.

Truth is Good.

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