Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 23, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE HUMAN CONDITION....Yesterday I chided Jonah Goldberg for believing (in my words) that serious problems of the human condition are "barely worth trying to improve in any deep rooted way." Today he responds:

Conservatives, generally speaking, don't believe that no problems are fixable. Rather, they simply believe that some problems are permanent....Permanent problems of the human condition can be lumped under the rubric of "sin" or human nature and the like. But whatever you call them, I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved. Certainly not war or greed or envy or lust.

Understanding human nature and human culture and taking them seriously is important. No contemporary liberal of my acquaintance thinks that these things are "ignorable," as Jonah implies in another post, but neither do we think that "careful control" is the only possible response to them.

Think. We haven't "solved" the problems of war or greed or envy or lust. But we've made progress, much of it through liberal institutions and liberal education. In the industrialized West, slavery is gone and racism has been genuinely reduced. Sexism is less prevalent. Conservatives themselves are fond of pointing out that liberal democracies don't typically wage war against each other. And as for lust, what's wrong with that in the first place?

(But I'll give him envy. There's not much evidence that we can do anything about that other than control its more virulent forms.)

Progress on these fronts is slow, arduous, easily lost, and obviously stronger in some places than in others. But it's real. We control what we can't change, but it's a mistake to think that genuine change is impossible. Culture is a powerful thing, and not an immobile one.

Kevin Drum 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (143)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

The key to reducing or mitigating all those "sins" is education. And, say what you will about liberal democracies, we have excelled at educating our citizens over the last 100 years or so. Almost makes you wonder why so many conservatives hate public education...

Posted by: Everett on June 23, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

You can eliminate the envy problem by making everyone better off than everyone else. Hey, that's at least as reasonable an idea as the Laughable curve.

Posted by: alex on June 23, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

I've made a huge mistake

Posted by: Gob Bluth on June 23, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

There's not much evidence that we can do anything about [envy] other than control its more virulent forms.

Is a redistributionist tax system a means of "controlling" envy, or is it one of the "more virulent forms" of it?

Posted by: Blue Dave on June 23, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why give him envy? Envy only becomes a problem with people do something else because of it: steal, murder, vandalize, etc.

THOSE are the crimes - envy is just a motive.

Posted by: rusrus on June 23, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

If you are rich and white, OF COURSE the problems of others are permenant!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 23, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

War, greed, envy, lust. Sounds like today's GOP.

Posted by: bubba on June 23, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

How about terror? Does Goldberg view a war on terror as futile?

Posted by: N/A on June 23, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Deleted

Posted by: karen on June 23, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

"But I'll give him envy. There's not much evidence that we can do anything about that other than control its more virulent forms." - Our corporatist culture does everything possible to exploit envy for monetary gain. It's the basis of our consumerist society. The last thing any Republican wants is a serious disruption of the envy/borrow/consumption cycle.

Posted by: chasmrich on June 23, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Tax systems have nothing to do with sin. Rather, they're merely a means of funding government programs that, depending on who's holding the reins, address whichever particular sin that person feels is cardinal. In these modern times, it would appear that THE cardinal sin is being not-rich. (We know that's a cardinal sin because it's forbidden by the lesser known 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not be not-rich.")

Posted by: Everett on June 23, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK


It's true we get old and die, and liberalism can't do anything about that, but we can do a lot about infant and maternal mortality and general health. Incidentally, back in the Middle Ages when smart people wrote about the Seven Deadly Sins, they understood that envy was self punishing and harmed those who envied more than those they envied.

Posted by: john s. on June 23, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

How about the eradication of malaria in the US? Gone. Smallpox? Gone except for lab samples. "Poverty" is still in the US, but children dying of malnutrition is almost unheard of. Warlords don't rape and pillage the countryside. Nor does the KKK anymore. Complete illiteracy is rare, and functional literacy is pretty standard. Politicians may get rich through corrupt means, but they don't embezzle the banks and run off to foreign countries.

And oddly enough, all of this is due to a strong central government.

Posted by: Gene in Chicago on June 23, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The key to reducing or mitigating all those "sins" is education. And, say what you will about liberal democracies, we have excelled at educating our citizens over the last 100 years or so. Almost makes you wonder why so many conservatives hate public education...

Disagree. Education is the icing on the cake. Public order and material abundance are the preconditions for the social progress that Mr. Drum describes -- and which progressives through the ages have pioneered.

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Your "laws, not men" comment seems appropriate for this post, too.

Posted by: Moe is me on June 23, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

This is a very old discussion. You can go back to John Milton and find him linking societal problems like poverty, class inequities, etc. to original sin.

There's no doubt that human beings have feet of clay, but it seems awfully convenient for people of one class to say social arrangements that favor them are permanent and "part of the human condition," as opposed to something that could be changed. Isn't that the kind of argument southerners made against the civil rights movement?

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

What do conservatives mean when they say that problems of human nature are intractable and unchanging? Sound to me like just an updated version of the old line that the world is as it is because of the divine order of things, so you'd better accept your place in it. This kind of thinking has served the interests of the rich and powerful for millenia.

I'm increasingly accepting of the view that "conservatism" really boils down to one thing: maintaining and expanding the wealth and power of an elite minority of the wealthy and powerful. Certainly this is the best paradigm for understanding the totality of the actions of the Bush regime over the last five years.

Posted by: Virginia Dutch on June 23, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I sort of disagree with this analysis, because there's this whole other "end of the world you gotta be saved" school of conservative thought which says almost the exact opposite.

They do seem to believe in a kind of human perfectibility, so long as one does it in the name of the Lord. It's what leads their leaders to claim that 9/11 happened because of abortion laws, or Katrina happened because of Mardi Gras. There's a notion that God punishes a wicked land, and we can make perfect laws which, if we forced people's obedience to them (which we could also do), people would happily follow them, God would be happy and things would be better.

I don't think the contrast is that liberals think people are perfectible and conservatives don't, I think the difference is that the two groups fundamentally disagree on how you make people more perfect and good.

Posted by: theorajones on June 23, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The key to reducing or mitigating all those "sins" is education.

Actually, research results indicate otherwise, for the return to schooling is dropping as more people enter higher education.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Permanent problems of the human condition" are precisely what conservatives are so good at conserving.

Posted by: trueblue on June 23, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Gene in Chicago: malaria in the US? Gone. Smallpox? Gone ... children dying of malnutrition is almost unheard of. Warlords don't rape and pillage the countryside ... Complete illiteracy is rare

Don't worry, we can change all that. I'd call it Libertopia, but our ruling class seems to prefer gov't assistance ("the Conservative Nanny State").

Posted by: alex on June 23, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, Karen's a psycho.

Posted by: fat smelly birkel on June 23, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, speaking of unsolvable problems, the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists are out in force today. Someone needs to get these people an Al Franken book just so we can watch their heads explode.

"Hates neo-cons ... but he's Jewish ... hates neo-cons ... but he's Jewish ... BOOM!"

Posted by: mmy on June 23, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

When Conservatives claim "some problems are permanent" it's usually a rationalization for taking no responsibility at all for ameliorating the difficulties faced by the less fortunate -- the poor; that portion of the middle-class that can't afford health-care or education at the highest levels of quality; the pricing of housing beyond what many can afford; etcetc.
It's a cheap cop-out that, in essence, boils down to: "We have not totally eradicated poverty, therefore Great Society programs were all failures and must be abolished" and "Some people get less from their Social Security than they woud have gotten had they invested equal funds in equities, therefore SS must be abolished;" etcetc.
It's a classic "False Dilemma" argument -- and facile and tempting enough that many people will buy into it.
Funny how those same people don't take the failure of Christianity to save every single soul as a reason to abolish Christianity.
(Credit where it's due -- I first heard these points made, only much more eloquently and cogently, by Mario Cuomo. I ain't no Domenech.)

Posted by: smartalek on June 23, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, new troll tactic, just insert some sugar-coated antisemitic slime so that we'll all run off to wash our eyes out after reading it. Vile, vile, vile.

More to the point, Goldberg promotes an expansive definition of what-cannot-be-solved. Over time, anything that can be solved or ameliorated with money, we should be able to make progress on, because the economy grows and we thus have more money to share/spend solving problems. It is only those intractable sins of greed and gluttony that hinder us (perhaps that is what he was referring to, eh?)

Government programs do a lot more than address some wingnut's idea of trendy sins. To take a purely game-theoretic view, government programs exist to fix "bad games". Often enough, they work to enhance the working of the free market, not impede it. Anywhere that there is assymetric information (e.g., insider trading) there is a risk of a market failure; government regulations can equalize the information imbalance and keep the market working.

If you want to mix in some social psychology (see Robert Frank's work, for example), there's a decent argument that a progressive tax system is efficiency-enhancing when you have a so-called tournament economy, and that overall happiness is increased if everyone earns more nearly the same amount of money (not "the same", but "more nearly the same").

Posted by: dr2chase on June 23, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Faced with the failure of his ideology to mitigate many important problems he has no choice but to beleive that mitigation of those problems is impossible.

Posted by: jefff on June 23, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's a shame Goldberg's a conservative and not a liberterian, because as a conservative, his answer is simply wrong given his values. Indeed, the very BASIS of the conservative movement is that human flaws can be fixed by the government - such as, particularly, lust, violence, war, etc. That, in fact, is SPECIFICALLY the focal point of the tension between conservatives and liberterians.

Goldberg is a class C, at best, thinker.

Posted by: Justin on June 23, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Deleted

Posted by: Carol on June 23, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Johah is a Jew first and foremost and everything he says is to condition his readers to the Jewish paradigm.

I'm the last guy to defend that dishonest conservative hack (but I repeat myself) Jonah Goldberg, but karen (and your sock puppets), kindly take your anti-Semitic rantings and jump in a lake, please. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: Gregory on June 23, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Drum is right, education is the answer. Think of how improved the situation in Darfur would be if we could only convince the Janjaweed to attend a few sexual harassment workshops.

Posted by: Carter on June 23, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Kevin, I believe there are definitely solutions to envy, its just that most liberal democracies don't seem to think envy is, in itself, a particular problem. The US is ESPECCIALLY of this mold. But envy is certainly less prevalent in, say, Denmark than it is here. And that is specifically due to the government's social programs and their interrelation with the country's identity, though I would also postulate that the result may be somewhat accidental a benefit.

Posted by: Justin on June 23, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight. Certain human failings are universal and permanent. Certain human virtues are uniquely American (see Judeo-Christian / Caucasian) and determined by the location one exists the vaginal cavity. I think I got.

Posted by: enozinho on June 23, 2006 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Back on topic:

Education is the icing on the cake. Public order and material abundance are the preconditions for the social progress that Mr. Drum describes -- and which progressives through the ages have pioneered.

Word.

As for lust, I agree with Kevin -- what's wrong with that? The only problem with lust (and envy, as someone pointed out upthread) is not the emotion but the actions taken in response to the emotion.

Posted by: Gregory on June 23, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

White people who have the luxury of sitting on their fat asses always think we live in the best of all possible worlds. And I am sooooo envious.

Posted by: Hotspur on June 23, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

When conservatives say things like this, I turn to the realm of anthropology for a reply - There are cultures where war is unknown (e.g. Inuit, Aborigine) and cultures where greed is uncommon (e.g. Mongolia). These are not innate human traits - they are learned. And just as humans can learn cultural norms and practices, they can unlearn them.

We can make this a better world and begin unteaching our kids greed and materialism and hatred and racism. We simply have to try. Conservatives don't even want to try.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 23, 2006 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's a conservative fantasy straw man of what liberals think- "Oh, they believe that they can make racism vanish. How naive."

But what liberals actually believe is that there will always be racists, but we can work towards a society where racism is not enshrined in law and those affected by it have recourse (lawsuits, shameing the perpetrators, etc.)

Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatism itself is a permanent problem of the human condition.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 23, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist just beat me to it, but in order to satisfy my requirement that I have to chime in on every post that references the moron, I must add that the idiocy of the conservatives is another permanent problem of the human condition.

Posted by: nut on June 23, 2006 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

There are cultures where war is unknown (e.g. Inuit, Aborigine) and cultures where greed is uncommon (e.g. Mongolia). These are not innate human traits - they are learned.

Link it!

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

But what liberals actually believe is that there will always be racists, but we can work towards a society where racism is not enshrined in law and those affected by it have recourse (lawsuits, shameing the perpetrators, etc.)

So what would liberals do about the fact that UCLA admitted only 96 Blacks into a class of 4,700 when they were not permitted to use preferences and lower standards?

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg is a class C, at best, thinker.

In this context, thinker does not mean what you think it means.

Posted by: nut on June 23, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made."
Emmanuel Kant

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 23, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

We've made significant progress against cannibalism and human sacrifice (at least I hope so).

Posted by: zeke on June 23, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

chasmrich,

Our corporatist culture does everything possible to exploit envy for monetary gain. It's the basis of our consumerist society.

So what's your alternative? Communism? "From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs?"

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

When conservatives say things like this, I turn to the realm of anthropology for a reply - There are cultures where war is unknown (e.g. Inuit, Aborigine) and cultures where greed is uncommon (e.g. Mongolia). These are not innate human traits - they are learned. And just as humans can learn cultural norms and practices, they can unlearn them.

We can make this a better world and begin unteaching our kids greed and materialism and hatred and racism. We simply have to try. Conservatives don't even want to try.
Posted by: Stephen Kriz

I think your delusional, but it's a good delusional to have that as a goal.

Ever seen the movie Fast Runner? Great film. It's based on an Inuit verbal legend. It involves murder, greed, envy, and the fight between good and evil. Sounds like the rest of the world to me. They just don't have enough people to have a war.

Ever heard of the Human universals as compiled by Donald Brown? Also good reading.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 23, 2006 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Your = you're (need to revise my auto-spell checking list)

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 23, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: It's not an either/or-- capitalism or communism. Can we opt to be something other than naked materialists? And can this inform our politics even if we live in a capitalist society? By the way, capitalism appears nowhere in the US constitution.

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's a conservative fantasy straw man of what liberals think- "Oh, they believe that they can make racism vanish. How naive."

No, it's not a strawman. Liberal mantras are full of blank slate thinking--"You have to be taught to hate" and the like. So is the knee-jerk liberal response of attributing all inequities and inequalities to culture and society, and resisting any biological explanations.

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

So what would liberals do about the fact that UCLA admitted only 96 Blacks into a class of 4,700 when they were not permitted to use preferences and lower standards?

Liberals would ask the obvious question on how "quality" of the class is determined. Is the new class "better quality" because they have higher test scores? How can we prove it?

I would wager that there would not be a statistically significant difference in retention rates, grades while in college, and graduation rates (all good measures of class quality) between the 'old' and 'new' model classes.

That's because I already know the secret of competitive college admissions - It's Arbitrary. No school just admits everyone who scored X or above on tests. Even Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, all of which could admit classes composed entirely of 1600 SAT and 4.0 GPA students if they chose, do not use this method. They choose not to because it makes no sense.

I would love to hear the explanations as to why a state that is 40% White has a 2% Black freshman class at a premier State University, when no one is complaining about the quality of graduates of UCLA admitted under an affirmative action regime that includes consideration for Blacks.

A state with 40 million people doesn't have at least 1000 top 15% of their class high school graduates who are black? Bullshit, or CA High Schools are the problem, not the colleges.

Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Arguing that a condition has been ameliorated is not an argument that the condition can be or has been fixed.

You seem to be arguing past one another.

Posted by: Birkel on June 23, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Why, oh why, do you give someone like Jonah Goldberg attention and an elegant reply?

Posted by: Jame on June 23, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: It's not an either/or-- capitalism or communism. Can we opt to be something other than naked materialists?

I don't know. What's a "naked" materialist? As opposed to what other kind of materialist? What's your alternative to this alleged "corporatist culture?"

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

A culture that isn't corporatist

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatism itself is a permanent problem of the human condition.
Posted by: SecularAnimist on June 23, 2006 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist nails it.
I declare this thread finished.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 23, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist just beat me to it, but in order to satisfy my requirement that I have to chime in on every post that references the moron, I must add that the idiocy of the conservatives is another permanent problem of the human condition.

I don't think this is fair. I believe that people are innately conservative, in the sense that they'd rather preserve and protect what they have and what they know. This isn't a stupid or irrational way to be, especially if you consider human history -- change is generally slow, and when it isn't it's almost always traumatic. Now, clinging to a behavior or a prejudice after it's become obviously harmful or counterproductive is "conservative" in a sense, but it's not really what anyone means by "conservatism" as an ideology or outlook.

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal mantras are full of blank slate thinking--"You have to be taught to hate" and the like.

It's a different view of human nature, I'll give you that. Liberals trust the basic nature of some people more than conservatives do. I think George Lakoff gets it right. It's something like a theological difference.

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

We've made significant progress against cannibalism and human sacrifice (at least I hope so).

Great. Thanks to fucking liberals I'll never get to try the really mouth-watering recipes in the Jeff Dahmer Does BBQ! cookbook.

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

And add to that an absolutist streak in conservatives. Like with the "reality based community" comment in the Ron Suskind story. If the empirical facts contradict a policy, damn the empirical facts.

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

When conservatives say things like this, I turn to the realm of anthropology for a reply - There are cultures where war is unknown (e.g. Inuit, Aborigine) and cultures where greed is uncommon (e.g. Mongolia). These are not innate human traits - they are learned. And just as humans can learn cultural norms and practices, they can unlearn them.
Posted by: Stephen Kriz

Typical example of feel-good liberal nonsense. Conflict, rape, revenge, jealousy, dominance and male coalitional violence are all on the list of Human Universals compiled by Donald Brown. These are traits found in all human cultures.

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

But what liberals actually believe is that there will always be racists, but we can work towards a society where racism is not enshrined in law and those affected by it have recourse (lawsuits, shameing the perpetrators, etc.)

Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Echoing on TangoMan's point, one of the liberal solutions to racism is to practice it themselves and to inflict onto innocent people in the form of affirmative action. Because they believe that their motives for doing so are noble, anyone who suffers as a result of this policy should just accept it rather than viewing it a violation of their rights and the equal protection clause.

A conservative looks at the fact that only 96 blacks were admitted into UCLA and will shrugg his shoulders and say "oh well." A liberal looks at that outcome and says that because of racism when no such racism exists or can be shown to exist.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved. Certainly not war or greed or envy or lust.

Certainly not caring, or not caring to try or liking these problems for what they so you can exploit them, would be the essence of human evil.

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

No, it's not a strawman. Liberal mantras are full of blank slate thinking--"You have to be taught to hate" and the like.

The Bible, among other great moral works, makes it pretty clear that you need to be instructed to NOT commit moral crimes such as murder. God provides instructions. If it was biologically obvious there would be no reason for God to tell us not to do it. God does not forbid the impossible, there is no commandment against laying eggs.

Why do racist Whites hate Blacks? Biology? Is there something in melanin that enrages Europeans and their decendants? Disliking those that are different seems to be a human trait, but hating Blacks specifically is a learned behavior.

Serbs hate Croats, but not Mexicans. Why? If there was some biological reason to hate Mexicans, everyone would hate them. Makes no sense, right?

So is the knee-jerk liberal response of attributing all inequities and inequalities to culture and society, and resisting any biological explanations.

Really? Because it looks to me like Slavery in the USA (a serious inequality) had a lot to do with culture, society, economics, and projection of force a lot more than it had to do with white people being physically superior to black people. Saying "but the white men had guns" is technology and culture.

If biological determination was superior to Culture, Economics, and Politics, there would be no real differences in cultures, since humans are pretty similar to each other.

It's not knee-jerk, it's common sense. People have to be taught to worship Kim Il Jung and commit themselves to Juche, they don't come out of the womb that way.


Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Solve? Maybe not. How about "alleviate"?

Posted by: Jim Strain on June 23, 2006 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Really my grammar and typing skills seem to be at a low ebb these days. My apoligies to anyone sensitive to proper syntax or complete sentences.

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Ever seen the movie Fast Runner? Great film. It's based on an Inuit verbal legend. It involves murder, greed, envy, and the fight between good and evil. Sounds like the rest of the world to me. They just don't have enough people to have a war.

It was a terrific movie, but even though there was conflict and violence they didn't seem especially warlike to me. Besides, except for a small fraction of late adolescent males, contemporary warfare is pretty vicarious, bloodless and impersonal -- nothing at all like what it's been like for most of human history. And I strongly suspect that that small fraction of males wouldn't be involved either, if they had decent jobs to go to....

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

These are traits found in all human cultures.

I don't know about that. You can find differences even in this country. Crime rates vary from state to state just like things like divorce rates vary greatly. Culture, custom, material circumstances probably all contribute.

As far as other cultures go, I once knew someone who worked in the peace corps in Botswana. She told me that violence was unheard of, and the crime rate was very low. On the rare occasion that someone's house was robbed there was never a confrontation. The robbers would always run away.

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

That's 'apologies'.

(Maybe it's the keyboard)!

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Jonah, quoting Leo Strauss: "Finite, relative problems can be solved; infinite, absolute problems cannot be solved. In other words, human beings will never create a society which is free from contradictions."...

"I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved. Certainly not war or greed or envy or lust."....

Wow. I guess I should go out of my way and read these idiots. Talk about comingling unrelated statements.

Which problems, exactly, are infinite? And whose looking for a 100 per cent perfect fix for everything? And I note poverty and disease doesn't get a mention ahead of pizza and air-conditioning.

These guys are really as unimaginative, narrow-minded and uncaring as they come across as. And though Goldberg probably isn't a Christian, how does this assertion of Conservative (and it has to be capitalized, because it's conservatism in the worst possible way) thought square with all his Christian-right bed-fellows? Sadly, they probably agree.

Anyway, basically, it's not money that can fix the problems. It's the mindset behind the money.

It's the money that goes to war.
It's the accumulation of money where the greed is.
There is envy, not just for money, where there is injustice.
As for lust, the misdirected lust seems to be on the right; if only there was a little more love for other than self.

Jonah Goldberg exposes the "Conservatives" for the greedy, self-concerned, shallow, no-hopers they really are. They have no concern for the environment or their fellow man.

An incurabe pox on all their houses!

Posted by: notthere on June 23, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

What about 'plague' and 'famine'?

Those used to be part of the human condition, and when was the last time there was a real plague or famine in an industrialized nation?

It used to be a sin to have polio or smallpox - and now we're eradicated both diseases VIA SCIENCE and gosh golly gee they're not sins anymore, too.

Conservatives like to forget they used to say man was never meant to fly.

Posted by: Crissa on June 23, 2006 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

A conservative looks at the fact that only 96 blacks were admitted into UCLA and will shrugg his shoulders and say "oh well." A liberal looks at that outcome and says that because of racism when no such racism exists or can be shown to exist.

Liberal: Something is wrong here- Blacks are 25% of the state and only 2% of the college freshmen. We are obviously doing something wrong. Maybe our admissions policies overfavor whites.

Conservative: I guess blacks aren't qualified for college. Oh well (shrug). Good thing it's not because of racism.

The hallmark of Conservatives who are racists (not all are) is the unshakeable belief that policies that favor Whites are "neutral" and policies that favor non-Whites are "unfair".

Statistics 101: If your actual result is wildly different from your expected result, something's up.

Posted by: Opie on June 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Alderaan,

A state with 40 million people doesn't have at least 1000 top 15% of their class high school graduates who are black? Bullshit, or CA High Schools are the problem, not the colleges.

You mean the CA high schools are deliberately giving Black students lower grades?

Look. First of all, the "top 15%," which IIRC is actually "top 12.5%," is the cohort of students automatically admitted to the entire UC system, not UCLA. Second, CA is not "40% White." 45% or so non-Hispanic white, somewhere around 6 or 7% black. (The non-Hispanic white enrollment at the flagship schools, for the record, is way under their percentage of the population, as for that matter is the admissions rate.) Third, every time someone argues that there's really not a lot of difference between one near-top-of-the-class student and another, I suggest just assigning the top whatever percent to campuses by lot, and there's this odd silence afterwards. See, UCB and UCLA must be preserved as "elite," so that having gone there is a bonus. I think the teaching at all campuses is likely pretty well equal in quality; but obviously it isn't the teaching that's at issue, only the branding.

I continue to believe that, if you really think college admissions are more or less arbitrary, you ought also to believe that they should be randomized as much as possible. If you really think any admissions candidate with certain minimal credentials is as worthy as any other one, just throw their names into a hopper. It's easy, and verifiably random.

Posted by: waterfowl on June 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Echoing on TangoMan's point, one of the liberal solutions to racism is to practice it themselves and to inflict onto innocent people in the form of affirmative action. Because they believe that their motives for doing so are noble, anyone who suffers as a result of this policy should just accept it rather than viewing it a violation of their rights and the equal protection clause.

A conservative looks at the fact that only 96 blacks were admitted into UCLA and will shrugg his shoulders and say "oh well." A liberal looks at that outcome and says that because of racism when no such racism exists or can be shown to exist.

Ummmm..... The historical reality is that liberal agitation moved us into an age in which blacks can attend UCLA (or any university) at all. Or apply for the same jobs. Or use the same recreational facilities.

Not that I expect right-wingers to be especially literate about any aspect of the past that doesn't show up on the History Channel. But even the yahoos at the National Review have (grudgingly, sotto voce) acknowledged that they were on the wrong side of the civil rights struggle.

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kevin Drum:

"I'll dignify Jonah Goldberg so you don't have to."

Posted by: Libby Sosume on June 23, 2006 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I would wager that there would not be a statistically significant difference in retention rates, grades while in college, and graduation rates (all good measures of class quality) between the 'old' and 'new' model classes.

You'd lose your wager, for we already know that Blacks who are admitted under preferences and quotas have higher failure rates, lower class rank, higher drop-out rates, lower graduations rates, and even when we get into the realm of professional education we see that their failure rate for medical and legal liscensure is far, far higher than their non-preference admitted peers.

Look, this is to be expected when you admit any class of people who are not as prepared as their peers for the work that they are to be doing, which in this case, is studying.

A state with 40 million people doesn't have at least 1000 top 15% of their class high school graduates who are black? Bullshit, or CA High Schools are the problem, not the colleges.

Look, I hope you'd agree that everyone is not cut out for college. Higher education parses by IQ, so a person with 70 IQ isn't going to go to college, no matter how intensive the instruction they receive in HS. It's also unlikely that an IQ of 100 will lead to success in college though that might get people barely admitted to some colleges. At 115 IQ we're probably looking at the mean IQ level of college students, maybe a bit higher. The problem that arises in your analysis is that there is nearly a century of pyschometric data, which doesn't budge, which documents that the mean IQ level of Blacks is 1 S.D. below that of whites. So, at a 115 IQ, with a white mean centered on 100, a black mean centered on 85, with a 15 point S.D., we're looking at 84.1% of whites being below the 115 IQ threshold, while 97.7% of Blacks are below that threshold. No form of affirmative action is going to solve this fundamental situation.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Goldberg bemoaning the hypothetical emergence of holographic porn prior to holographic Hamlet is just about the stupidest thing I've ever read in an major news daily op-ed. That said, it neatly reveals his elitist and puritanical streaks. Is pornography really one of the intractable problems of civilization? And the way he presents it is so disingenuous: "Porno is terrible, isn't it? It's an intractable problem, of course, and we can't do anything about it. But isn't it terrible?"

The guy should turn in whatever remnants of his libertarian credentials he's still clinging to. And he can have my holographic Jewel DeNyle movies when he pries them out of my cold, dead fingers.

Posted by: Andrew Wyatt on June 23, 2006 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal: Something is wrong here- Blacks are 25% of the state and only 2% of the college freshmen. We are obviously doing something wrong. Maybe our admissions policies overfavor whites.

Statistics 101: If your actual result is wildly different from your expected result, something's up.

Posted by: Opie on June 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Opie:

Why do you have an "expected result" where Blacks are to make up 25% of the incoming class? Simply because they make up 25% of the population? Please explain.

The historical reality is that liberal agitation moved us into an age in which blacks can attend UCLA (or any university) at all. Or apply for the same jobs. Or use the same recreational facilities.

Posted by: sglover on June 23, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, sglover, that was whole point of the civil rights struggle, but that was more than 40 years ago. What is the liberal excuse for using race as a factor for anything now?


Posted by: Chicounsel on June 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Tangoman:

Do you have any datasets not provided by the KKK and Stormfront?

Waterfowl:

You mean the CA high schools are deliberately giving Black students lower grades?

No, what I am saying is that California is so large that it seems highly likely that there are enough qualified Black applicants for UCLA.

Look. First of all, the "top 15%," which IIRC is actually "top 12.5%," is the cohort of students automatically admitted to the entire UC system, not UCLA.

I'm guessing that if Blacks are underepresented at UCLA, they are not all going to Irvine instead.

Second, CA is not "40% White." 45% or so non-Hispanic white, somewhere around 6 or 7% black. (The non-Hispanic white enrollment at the flagship schools, for the record, is way under their percentage of the population, as for that matter is the admissions rate.)

Do we know what % of the UCLA class is Asian or Latino?

Third, every time someone argues that there's really not a lot of difference between one near-top-of-the-class student and another, I suggest just assigning the top whatever percent to campuses by lot, and there's this odd silence afterwards.

I actually like this idea. However, the students should be able to choose which UC Campus they prefer there may be hardships in traveling to a distant campus for some or they may need to commute for financial reasons.

See, UCB and UCLA must be preserved as "elite," so that having gone there is a bonus.

Berkeley being elite has nothing to do with Undergrads. Both schools are major research universities.

I think the teaching at all campuses is likely pretty well equal in quality; but obviously it isn't the teaching that's at issue, only the branding.

For Undergrads, maybe. At the Graduate level, significant differences.

I continue to believe that, if you really think college admissions are more or less arbitrary, you ought also to believe that they should be randomized as much as possible.

Sounds logical.

If you really think any admissions candidate with certain minimal credentials is as worthy as any other one, just throw their names into a hopper. It's easy, and verifiably random.

My only objection is that Admissions Committes seek to balance a class along income, geography, interests, race, and other factors. I think this is a positive thing. This allows classes to meet people who are unlike them, and I think this is an important part of the college experience.

That being said, your idea is not crazy. The biggest objections always seem to come from Alumni (no more legacy admits).


Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Bible, among other great moral works, makes it pretty clear that you need to be instructed to NOT commit moral crimes such as murder.

Right. Because the authors of the Bible, thousands years ago, recognized a fundamental fact of human nature that liberals still haven't come to terms with.

Why do racist Whites hate Blacks? Biology?

Most likely in part, yes. A propensity to racism is probably written into our genes.

Really? Because it looks to me like Slavery in the USA (a serious inequality) had a lot to do with culture, society, economics, and projection of force a lot more than it had to do with white people being physically superior to black people.

This response is completely irrelevant to what I said. I didn't say that no inequalities are caused by culture and society. I said that the knee-jerk liberal response is to attribute all inequalities to environmental forces and to resist any biological explanation. At least, unless the evidence of a biological cause is so overwhelming that it cannot seriously be doubted.

If biological determination was superior to Culture, Economics, and Politics, there would be no real differences in cultures, since humans are pretty similar to each other.

Assuming "superior" is supposed to mean something like "greater in magnitude," your conclusion does not follow from your premise, and even if it did it wouldn't conflict with what I have said about environment (culture, economics, politics, etc.) vs. biology anyway.

It's not knee-jerk, it's common sense.

No, the knee-jerk response to attribute all inequalities to environmental factors and to resist all biological explanations is not only not "common sense," it's irrational and it's contradicted by a huge and growing body of empirical evidence regarding the role of biology in human behavior.


Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

GOP:

Provide an example of the role of biology in a particular human inequality.

Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK
The problem that arises in your analysis is that there is nearly a century of pyschometric data, which doesn't budge, which documents that the mean IQ level of Blacks is 1 S.D. below that of whites.

Its true that this is a problem with the idea that the problem must be with the lower schools alone.

Its not a problem with the idea, however, that the problem is social rather than natural; there are any number of environmental factors—many of which correlate well with poverty—that are empirically shown to contribute to low IQ and which blacks disproportionately suffer.

Conservatives like to talk about the focus of eliminating racism being establishing "equality of opportunity" rather than "equality of results", and, in theory that's a good idea. In fact, I'll go further and I agree that the goal should be "equality of opportunity". The problem with making that distinction, though, and setting the two as if they were competing goals is that it runs into problems when rubber meets the road because, empirically, the educational and economic results for one generation are shown to be one of the major factors in the educational and economic opportunity of the next. So, to the extent that equality of results is not acheived, it poses a substantial barrier to equality of opportunity.

This—like many policies areas—is a place where there answers aren't simple. And, its true, liberals may be to prone to blame the problem on "racism", which is certainly a lot easier than probing the complex factors locking people into generational poverty, just as conservatives are to prone to throw up their hands and say there is no problem that can productively addressed at all, that the "problem" is either that blacks lack capacity or that they lack the appropriate values. On both sides, people are too quick to either dismiss real problems, or simply cast them as personal moral failings (whether "racism" on the left or "laziness" on the right) or incapacity on the part of others, problems which either are inherently unfixable or at least problems which the speaker has no power or responsibility to fix.

And it's wrong, on both sides.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Bible, among other great moral works, makes it pretty clear that you need to be instructed to NOT commit moral crimes such as murder.


If the Bible instructs that it's not a moral work.

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Alderaan,

Do you have any datasets not provided by the KKK and Stormfront?

Nice zinger there :) Look, this isn't controversial at all and has been well documented. Here's a whole volume on the topic from Brookings

The controversy lies with the question of what is causing the IQ gap, but we can leave the cause out of this discussion if you'd like. The facts on the ground are what we have to deal with.

I'm guessing that if Blacks are underepresented at UCLA, they are not all going to Irvine instead.

You're guessing wrong. The black enrollment at other UC campuses is increasing for they are less selective.

Do we know what % of the UCLA class is Asian or Latino?

I believe that UCLA and Berkeley have about 43% Asian enrollment.

Provide an example of the role of biology in a particular human inequality.

We know that intelligence is highly heritable. We also know that people of lower intelligence have, as a group, lower levels of income.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

...What is the liberal excuse for using race as a factor for anything now?

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 23, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Legislation was passed over the the course of a number of years to remove overt racism from this country. All of them resisted every step of the way. 40 years later we are still trying to remove overt evidence of racism. Confederate flags over capitols, race-based court outcomes and sentencing, voting rights, continued racism and sexism in the workplace, and, most particulalry, not just the underperformance of black americans at school but the underperformance of a disproportionate number of minority dominated schools.

Everywhere I look I see racism that has the effect of "keeping them in their place". How can there be any upward mobility of the underpriviliged if even their education continues to be substandard -- and it's not just education.

Oh, that's right. Privilige comes with money. We've got it and we'll keep it. Back to your declining real-value minimum wage job, blackie. Hush up.

Posted by: notthere on June 23, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives, generally speaking, don't believe that no problems are fixable. Rather, they simply believe that some problems are permanent....Permanent problems of the human condition can be lumped under the rubric of "sin" or human nature and the like. But whatever you call them, I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved. Certainly not war or greed or envy or lust.

So Jonah, bubele, tell me: Why are we in Iraq?
Do you rate "transforming" the middle East at the point of a gun one of those problems which are easy and possible?

Posted by: Mooser on June 23, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

empirically, the educational and economic results for one generation are shown to be one of the major factors in the educational and economic opportunity of the next.

What you write is true but you treat the educational and economic factors as independent variables here, and that's simply not the case. This is why we see that Black children from middle income families, those earning over $70,000 per year, perform worse on standardized tests than do white children from low income families, those earning less than $10,000 per year. The Black children in this case clearly have economic, educational, and environmental advantages which are not maximized.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Provide an example of the role of biology in a particular human inequality.

Biological differences between the sexes, including the different roles they play in reproduction and the greater size, strength and aggression of men, influence the division of labor between the sexes and thus the inequalities arising from that division.

Biological differences in intelligence and other abilities between individuals influence their type of employment and thus the inequalities arising from different types of employment.

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK
What you write is true but you treat the educational and economic factors as independent variables here, and that's simply not the case.

No, I don't.

This is why we see that Black children from middle income families, those earning over $70,000 per year, perform worse on standardized tests than do white children from low income families, those earning less than $10,000 per year.

I'm not familiar with those particular results, but I think its worth noting that "slice in time" income levels are an easy measure, but do not capture the whole relative spectrum of economic inputs.

The Black children in this case clearly have economic, educational, and environmental advantages which are not maximized.

I would, at most, use the word "apparently" rather than "clearly" here; you are giving a limited unidimensional measure far too much weight.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Alderaan,

http://www.ucop.edu/news/factsheets/Flowfrc_9504.pdf

is a useful chart. Granted, it runs only through 2004. In that year, according to these stats (which are UC's own), 3432 freshmen enrolled at UCLA, of which 1117 were non-Hispanic whites, 1110 "Asian American," 380 "Chicano" and 126 "Latino," 117 "East Indian/Pakistani," 163 "Filipino," 99 "African-American," 10 "American Indian" (their term, not mine), and, oh, 47 "other" and 268 "unknown."

So, basically: African-Americans are underrepresented by something like a factor of three. Whites are underrepresented by 50% or so. Asian-Americans are vastly overrepresented; Hispanics are somewhat underrepresented. I am not sure about the smaller groups, because I don't know CA demographics well enough. Obviously, what these numbers ought to be compared against is the UC-eligible fraction of the 2004 HS graduating class, which I don't have.

Anyway, lots more where that came from in that chart. I did once work out most of the percentages, but I'm afraid I didn't save the results.

Posted by: waterfowl on June 23, 2006 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK
We know that intelligence is highly heritable.


But is it consistently heritable? Or is that heritability itself a function of the environment, as this paper finds:

Results demonstrate that the proportions of IQ variance attributable to genes and environment vary nonlinearly with [socioeconomic status]. The models suggest that in impoverished families, 60% of the variance in IQ is accounted for by the shared environment, and the contribution of genes is close to zero; in affluent families, the result is almost exactly the reverse.

Is it that if you are conceived under good conditions, have a mother who has good prenatal care, and have good early nutrition and pgysical and social environment, you tend to reach your "full potential" of intelligence, with the variation being largely genetic and what remains is, if not actually random, at least largely chaotic and unpredictable, but the farther you get from those conditions, the more of a role the environment plays and the less of a role genetic limits play?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

My only objection is that Admissions Committes seek to balance a class along income, geography, interests, race, and other factors. I think this is a positive thing. This allows classes to meet people who are unlike them, and I think this is an important part of the college experience.

Posted by: Alderaan on June 23, 2006 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of all the factors that you mention, only race is an individual factor. That is why it is so wrong for the government to use it in any form. Because even if one meets all other the factors, the race of the individual can be the deciding factor between getting in or not. And that is simply unfair and illegal.

Posted by: Chicounsel on June 23, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Biological differences in intelligence and other abilities between individuals influence their type of employment and thus the inequalities arising from different types of employment.

Pretty clinical. Why does there have to be such a hard wall between biology on one hand and culture/family upbringing on the other? Why would biology have to be so deterministic?

In one case some biological attribute might be a problem, in another it might not--or something might even be a strength, depending on how that person is raised and/or educated.

For instance if a parent works two jobs at minimum wage, the kid that they're trying to raise is not going to have much luck dealing with whatever biological attributes they have.

I'm not denying biology is important, but it sounds like an easy excuse for throwing up your hands and declaring yourself exempt from any responsibility.

Posted by: JJ on June 23, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK
Of all the factors that you mention, only race is an individual factor.

You are obviously using some bizarre definition of the word "individual" where interests, income, and "other factors" can be ruled out of the "individual" category.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

As a "blackie" (well, half a blackie) that graduated from UCLA, I can say that all the university horseshit (except for the free beer and sex) is vastly over-rated. I can also state that the most enlightening classes were those dealing with Freud and Marxism (which was nearly every liberal arts class in the late 80's). All of which leads me to say this: conservatives types have a problem admitting that an individual's human condition is actually and primarily a product of his/her social conditions. To do so, would lead to irritating feelings of guilt and responsibility (virtues innate of our species). So instead they choose hopelessness ("nothing can be done") to defend their mean-spirited ways and material middle class crap. Then (the gall of these nihilistic bastards!) they project their moral failure on everybody else (especially victims) and call it something fancy like le condition humaine. If there is a hell, such Christians should be accorded a special place.

Posted by: Hotspur on June 23, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Alderaan,

My only objection [to assigning all reasonably-eligible students to campuses by lot] is that Admissions Committes seek to balance a class along income, geography, interests, race, and other factors. I think this is a positive thing. This allows classes to meet people who are unlike them, and I think this is an important part of the college experience.

Well, sure, but exactly how is all that careful balancing supposed to make up entering classes more random than would, well, really randomizing them? Yes, there might be the odd bit of statistical clumping, but everyone knows that the real purpose of admissions staff is to get the right people to UCB and UCLA, and make sure the "well, we had to take them, they were in the top eighth" people are shunted towards Riverside or Merced. REAL randomization would make for a heck of a lot more mixing of class, race, origins, background. If that's what you want, this is much the easiest way to get it.

The obvious difficulty is that top students who wanted Berkeley or LA are going to chuck the UC system altogether if they don't get "the best." Of course, give randomization a decade or so, and there will no longer be a "best," and the problem will disappear. Understand, I don't mean that the teaching will go down to the LCD. I think the teaching at all the UCs is fine. I just mean that the idea that the "flagships" were specially good would disappear if their students were identical with students on other campuses.

Posted by: waterfowl on June 23, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

JJ,

Pretty clinical. Why does there have to be such a hard wall between biology on one hand and culture/family upbringing on the other?

I didn't say there's a "hard wall" between them, or anything to that effect. Biology and environment interact in many ways. I wish you'd respond to what I actually write.

Why would biology have to be so deterministic?

I don't know what this means. "So deterministic" of what?

In one case some biological attribute might be a problem, in another it might not--or something might even be a strength, depending on how that person is raised and/or educated. For instance if a parent works two jobs at minimum wage, the kid that they're trying to raise is not going to have much luck dealing with whatever biological attributes they have.

Again, this irrelevant to my point. I'm not denying that environment is a significant cause of many inequalities. I'm saying that biology is also an important cause. But liberals tend to resist any biological explanations of inequalities (unless, as I said, the evidence is so overwhelming that they can't seriously deny it).

I'm not denying biology is important,

Good. Spread the word to your fellow liberals. You might start with all the ones who hounded Larry Summers a while back for even suggesting that biology might be a significant cause of the lack of women in science/math/engineering.

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

IQ tests usually have a whole load of conditionals attached.

This one might be of interest as it is a US IQ test used in the UK. The study reflected on age, ethnic and cultural differences. See particularly pictorial IQ; pizza-tossing, surfboards, etc. are not things as familiar to UK participants, so culture clearly plays a measurable role in these tests:

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~psy086/dept/pdfs/BJCP_2005_WAISIIIUK.pdf#search='UK%20IQ%20study'

This short article has a certain interest,especially after the last election when college graduates and blue-collar workers reversed voting positions for the first time. US politics and IQ;

http://chrisevans3d.com/files/iq.htm

Posted by: notthere on June 23, 2006 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

GOP,

You might start with all the ones who hounded Larry Summers a while back for even suggesting that biology might be a significant cause of the lack of women in science/math/engineering.

Apparently you didn't get the secret report - Liberals are not members of the "reality based community" for they disavow the principles of evolution. Sure, unlike their cousins on the Right, the Creationists, they mouth the words of evolution, but deep down, they don't really believe that evolution is possible. The Creationists of the Right think that modern man was laid down in his present form by god, while the Creationists of the Left think that modern man came into being somehow immune to the principles of evolution.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

What Jonah Goldberg is trying to articulate, I think, is an argument put forward by Herbert Spencer in Social Statics or the Conditions Essential to Human Happiness Specified, and the First of them Developed (1851). This book is a wandering critique of the Doctrine of Expediency or the idea that government can, through legislation, bring about human happiness. This was the first polemic to systematically articulate the doctrine of laissez-faire economics as a guide to the organization of society. In it you find every argument conservatives give against big government liberalism.

In the introduction there is a case in point that denounces minimum wages for the starving Spitalfield (a part of London) silk weavers. Same argument as today, different century.

After a long campaign in the 1820s by warehousers (wholesalers) and Parliamentarians who embraced laissez-faire, the act that protected the silk industry in Britain was repealed. Prices dropped some 50% and unemployment soared and in the parish where most of the weavers lived relief increased by 600%.

The 150 years that separate us from Herbert Spencer have shown that government while not providing the greatest happiness can to a great deal to mitigate may ills. Spencer himself would have been amazed.

Posted by: bellumregio on June 23, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

TMWhat you write is true but you treat the educational and economic factors as independent variables here, and that's simply not the case.

CDNo, I don't.

My mistake then. So, with IQ being the independent variable, why do you find it suprising that there is a generational correlation to educational attainment and economic success?

Is it that if you are conceived under good conditions, have a mother who has good prenatal care, and have good early nutrition and pgysical and social environment, you tend to reach your "full potential" of intelligence,

Indeed, though it was not always thus. There are plenty of counterfactuals through history, and even present day. Look at the Vietnamese refugees who arrived in the US. Their lot in life was far worse than that of any individual born and living in the US. Terror of war, families ripped asunder, harrowing escape, brutality in lawless conditions, arriving in a land of foreign language and customs. There is loads of deprivation and psychic trauma to mine here, and yet, their climb up the educational and economic ladder has a far steeper slope than our own disadvantaged populations.

Posted by: TangoMan on June 23, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent article in the New Republic on Jewish intelligence,

http://www.tnr.com/user/nregi.mhtml?i=20060626&s=pinker062606

It has long been known that Ashkenazi diseases cluster in groups with a common metabolic pathway. . . (including) disorders of DNA repair, including the BRCA1 gene, which increases the odds of breast cancer. . . .They note that increased levels of sphingolipids foster neural growth in developing rodent brains, and that the normal version of the BRCA1 gene inhibits neural growth; but that is a long way from human intelligence.


This strongly suggests a direct interaction of heredity and environment. When a mother is pregnant she gets a tremendous dose of hormone stimulating neural production in her brain. If a gene that inhibits neural growth doesn't work the Jewish mothers brain gets an extra blast of it. This leads to much improved home life for the infant, as well as biasing Jewish women toward marrying men who can help with a more well-made childrearing environment.

Posted by: cld on June 23, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff Dahmer Does BBQ! cookbook.

Gives a whole new meaning to "finger-licking good."

Posted by: anandine on June 23, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

notthere,

[P]izza-tossing, surfboards, etc. are not things as familiar to UK participants, so culture clearly plays a measurable role in these tests[.]

Well, it was pizza-tossing, surfboards, and sharks, and I can't readily imagine a pictorial IQ question involving a shark that would be specially difficult for a British citizen. Nor do I understand this assumption that Americans naturally know all about surfboards and sharks. We really don't all live on the coasts, you know; there are those couple-thousand-mile-wide stretches of non-beachfront territory. I think your average Iowan or Nebraskan doesn't surf, and has never seen a shark warning, let alone an actual shark.

I'm less sure about pizza-tossing, because I don't know whether the tossing business was born in NY or somewhere in Italy. In any case, there's lots of great pizza in England, though I can't say I ever saw any tossed personally.

Posted by: waterfowl on June 23, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh dear, my favorite subject and only a few minutes to write about it.

Is there such a thing as human progress? Are human beings perfectible? Whose notion of perfection do we use anyhow?

I say yes, yes, and the universal one espoused by all religions and ethical thinkers: love one another. Personally, I dont see how anyone can study history, or even simply live in the world and keep his/her eyes open, and not see steady progress from darkness toward the light, covering the whole of human existence.

Just in my lifetime, I have seen an incredible reduction of racism, a vast increase in womens and minority rights, a decrease in wars, a hugely cleaner environment, a new concern for animal rights, our lifespan continues to increase. Even as our physical evolution is static, our understanding of who we are and what it means to be a human being increases.

Bye, maybe I can post later, when the thread is dying. Oh, well.

Posted by: James of DC on June 23, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

w/o a doubt this is the best left-right blog exchange I can remember.

tune in next week to see if sanity's a reliable fixture in rightblogistan.

Posted by: mencken on June 23, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

This is insane. The role of government, according to liberal thought, is not the eradication of personal sin or private vice.

Government's first role is warding off the Horsemen, and liberal democracy has done a stunning job.

Liberal democracies don't War with one another, they have eliminated Famine at least upon their own shores, mitigated Disease (Do you know anyone with Smallpox or Polio? Do you think that is because the government felt it could not affect such diseases?), and held off Death for longer and longer periods. These efforts have not been futile.

Next up for government according to liberalism is mitigating the remnants of the Horsemen's wrath, and the recognition that, to the extent to which these sufferings are random and individually catastrophic, the costs can be least painful if spread across the society.

So we would like the sick to be cared for regardless of their wealth.
We want none to be malnourished or hungry and can't even comprehend the idea of someone starving to death in our midst.

The idea that liberalism wants to regulate individual, personal vices through government is projection, that sounds more like the modern Right than any liberalism with which I am familiar.

The government can help, can mitigate, it should not control.

Posted by: mere mortal on June 23, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Crissa: when was the last time there was a real plague or famine in an industrialized nation?

Depends on whether you count AIDS as a real plague.

Opie: Liberal: Something is wrong here- Blacks are 25% of the state and only 2% of the college freshmen.

"Blacks remain about 7 percent of Californias population, growing about 1.1 percent annually."

http://www.dof.ca.gov/html/Demograp/race-eth.htm

Andrew Wyatt: Is pornography really one of the intractable problems of civilization?

Or a side benefit of modern technology. The printing press, photography, computers, CDs, high-speed internet: all progressed faster than they otherwise would have because porn users were willing to pay for early technology.

Posted by: anandine on June 23, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK
Liberal democracies don't War with one another

There are so few nation-years of "liberal democracies" in history that the expected number of such wars given the rate at which interstate wars occur is so low that this finding is not even remotely significant.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 23, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

GOP: It's not an either/or-- capitalism or communism. Can we opt to be something other than naked materialists?

I don't know. What's a "naked" materialist? As opposed to what other kind of materialist? What's your alternative to this alleged "corporatist culture?"
Posted by: GOP

----------------

So you're responding to yourself now? If you want to think out loud, can't you do that in your mother's basement where we don't have to hear you?

Posted by: Ken on June 23, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

All perspectives have some truth. No perspective is all truth.
The strength of liberalism is the willingness to try to improve things.
The strength of conservatism is the willingness to recognize how deep the roots of some problems go.
If you identify with conservatism only and reject liberalism, the problem that occurs is either despair or convenient passivity. In the worst case, one is passive in the face of true evil, such as slavery or fascism or torture.
If you identify with liberalism only and reject conservatism, the problem is that one can't see the deep roots of some problems and are less able to solve them. In the worst case, the attempt to force a solution that is too shallow for the actual problem results in massive suffering, for example the Cultural Revolution in China.
Refusing to see part of what is really present, either refusing to see the potential for change or refusing to see the vastness of the inertia that stands in the way in some areas, is a subtly aggressive stance that has the potential to result in aggression that is very unsubtle.

Posted by: kevin on June 23, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Oh dear, my favorite subject and only a few minutes to write about it.

Is there such a thing as human progress? Are human beings perfectible? Whose notion of perfection do we use anyhow?

I say yes, yes, and the universal one espoused by all religions and ethical thinkers: love one another. Personally, I dont see how anyone can study history, or even simply live in the world and keep his/her eyes open, and not see steady progress from darkness toward the light, covering the whole of human existence.

Just in my lifetime, I have seen an incredible reduction of racism, a vast increase in womens and minority rights, a decrease in wars, a hugely cleaner environment, a new concern for animal rights, our lifespan continues to increase. Even as our physical evolution is static, our understanding of who we are and what it means to be a human being increases.

Bye, maybe I can post later, when the thread is dying. Oh, well.

Posted by: James of DC on June 23, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

So you're responding to yourself now?

No, I was responding to JJ, as you might have realized if you had read more carefully.

Posted by: GOP on June 23, 2006 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans solved the problem of Greed: they packaged it as Good and declared victory.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on June 23, 2006 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Zen. Buddhism.

Doctrine of Not-Self is pretty compelling, all things considred.

On a totally different note, I'd recommend Mouffe's _The Democratic Paradox_, which spends a lot of time on the same subject as Kevin's post.

Posted by: Kenneth Rufo on June 23, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I am a physicist with a minor degree in philosophy. Goldberg's view of the so-called "condition humaine" ("human condition") is what is known as "determinism" in philosophy: Certain things can never be any other way; they are as they are and nothing will change that.

If I believed that, I would have little reason to value my life or anything other human endeavor. If the the "outcome" were already determined and, therefore, there is little that anyone can do alter the course of history, then why would anyone bother wasting the time? Did I tell you that I am a physicist? Well, we - those too stupid to understand "determinism" - have been altering the course of history almost every single day... The Manhattan project comes to mind... unless, of course, that was pre-determined too...

Anyway, Goldberg's world is not the one I would like to live in. There is a solution to every problem, including those that concern the so-called "condition humaine" (BTW, a Frenchman by the name of Andre Malraux penned a book titled "La Condition Humaine", read it.} And please read Sartre (any Sartre), and you will realize that everything is "contigent" and NOT determined.

Cheers for the fact that everything could always be "otherwise" (contingency). Nothing is pre-determined, Jonah!

DCS

Posted by: dcshungu on June 23, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Drum and Goldberg don't disagree; they are just using the language differently. Drum argues that progress has been made on a host of issues and wants to believe that this progress disproves Goldberg's contention that some problems are not solvable. But improvement is not solution, and conservatives are not arguing that improvement is impossible.

The disagreement is over strategy, means, and philosophy. Liberals want to set the goals high, even if they can never be reached, in order to get everyone working together; conservatives want to make the goals more realistic in order to avoid the despair that often follows the failure to achieve goals. Liberals want to bring the superior muscle of the federal government to bear to implement the solutions of most problems, in order to be sure all benefit from the changes; conservatives want smaller, localized solutions, believing that for most social, cultural, and political problems, the solutions are not necessarily obvious or even the same in all contexts. Liberals believe in the rationalist approach to solving social problems; conservatives believe in an experimental approach. Both can point to successes and at least as many failures, but as the country becomes more populous and more diverse, the "one approach for all" strategy seems to me less likely of success: One can't argue for the importance of identity and perspective in politics and also argue that centralized, uniform problem solving is the best approach.

Posted by: Mitch on June 23, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Drum and Goldberg don't disagree; they are just using the language differently. Drum argues that progress has been made on a host of issues and wants to believe that this progress disproves Goldberg's contention that some problems are not solvable. But improvement is not solution, and conservatives are not arguing that improvement is impossible.

The disagreement is over strategy, means, and philosophy. Liberals want to set the goals high, even if they can never be reached, in order to get everyone working together; conservatives want to make the goals more realistic in order to avoid the despair that often follows the failure to achieve goals. Liberals want to bring the superior muscle of the federal government to bear to implement the solutions of most problems, in order to be sure all benefit from the changes; conservatives want smaller, localized solutions, believing that for most social, cultural, and political problems, the solutions are not necessarily obvious or even the same in all contexts. Liberals believe in the rationalist approach to solving social problems; conservatives believe in an experimental approach. Both can point to successes and at least as many failures, but as the country becomes more populous and more diverse, the "one approach for all" strategy seems to me less likely of success: One can't argue for the importance of identity and perspective in politics and also argue that centralized, uniform problem solving is the best approach.

Posted by: Mitch on June 23, 2006 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

dcshungu
If I believed that, I would have little reason to value my life or anything other human endeavor. If the the "outcome" were already determined and, therefore, there is little that anyone can do alter the course of history, then why would anyone bother wasting the time?

Let me flip the question around. If you could be presented with a decision point, and it were possible to have you make the decision, the rewind time and have you make it again and again (or have 20 duplicates) are you saying you'd make it differently each time, randomly? If so, wouldn't that be irrational?

If instead you came to the same conclusion and took the same course of action each time, that would seem to be rational. How would this then not be deterministic?

It would seem rationality and determinism go hand and hand. Which doesn't mean the future is knowable.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 23, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Culture and "human nature" are not equivalent, but they influence each other profoundly. Traditional culture is based on an accomodation with human nature in which some individual (male) urges and behaviors are recognized as acceptable while others are proscribed.

Conservatives reify traditional culture while declaring that human nature is unchanging. For conservatives, culture is rooted in human imperfection. Liberals understand that culture can be changed to control and pacify the darker side of human nature.

The difference is in the results: liberal culture is more tolerant and less violent than conservative culture. It demands more of individuals, but bestows more in the long run. Liberal culture permits more "victimless" behaviors that are taboo in traditional cultures, but demands adherence to norms outlawing actual victimizing behaviors.

It is thus paradoxical that social conservatives are more prone to argue that a malevolent (liberal) dominant culture will subvert individual autonomy, while social liberals argue that unfettered culture (i.e., that which springs naturally from human reason and action) does not create violence or sexism.

Posted by: Silent E on June 23, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

But whatever you call them, I am at a loss as to what permanent problems of the human condition Drum thinks we've solved.

I can't believe that nobody has called Jonah on this: Any problems that have been solved are, by definition, not permanent. Duh! He asks the impossible: a problem that has been solved yet remains unsolved. Typical irrational thought from Jonah.

Posted by: exgop on June 23, 2006 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

One of the permanent problems of the human condition is inequality. Conservatives are dedicated to increasing it, with them on top, of course. Everything else is secondary. It's simple, really.

Posted by: TomB on June 23, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why does anyone care a rat's ass what that pudgy pervert Goldberg thinks? That son of a whore sissy has never done an honest day's work in his life and pontificates about shit he hasn't a fuckin' clue about. Someone should punch him once in the nose and watch him cry like a little girl....

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on June 23, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

...Well, it was pizza-tossing, surfboards, and sharks, and I can't readily imagine a pictorial IQ question involving a shark that would be specially difficult for a British citizen. Nor do I understand this assumption that Americans
naturally know all about surfboards and sharks.

Posted by: waterfowl on June 23, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly my point!

Jeez! The point isn't about you or me but about the fringe. Where you were brought up and how. You're not the only person who has been to Britain but who did you talk to and about what? Notice any age, gender, race or culture differences? This was a more scientifuc study than you or I might take and you just punt it.

Nice scientific bebuttal. Typical Repubnut!

Posted by: notthere on June 24, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike sez:

Let me flip the question around. If you could be presented with a decision point, and it were possible to have you make the decision, the rewind time and have you make it again and again (or have 20 duplicates) are you saying you'd make it differently each time, randomly? If so, wouldn't that be irrational?

To which I answer by asking:

The "Goldberg Variation" on the "Myth of Sysiphus"?

Nah...

DCS

Posted by: dcshungu on June 24, 2006 at 4:54 AM | PERMALINK

To which I answer by asking:

The "Goldberg Variation" on the "Myth of Sysiphus"?

Nah...

DCS
Posted by: dcshungu

You're going to have to elaborate on that one.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 24, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

[i]If you could be presented with a decision point, and it were possible to have you make the decision, the rewind time and have you make it again and again (or have 20 duplicates) are you saying you'd make it differently each time, randomly?[/i]

Not randomly, but depending on the issue I would learn from each decision point and alter my choice accordingly.

Posted by: ack ack ack on June 24, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Not randomly, but depending on the issue I would learn from each decision point and alter my choice accordingly.
Posted by: ack ack ack

That's a different scenario. I'm posing that each time you ran it, the situation would be identical. You would know on the 20th run only what you knew on the first. Obviously it's hypothetical.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 24, 2006 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike sez:
You're going to have to elaborate on that one.

I'll be happy too.

Through

    Red State Mike on June 23, 2006 at 10:24 PM
we have the following Jonah Golberg Variation ...

"If you could be presented with a decision point, and it were possible to have you make the decision, the rewind time and have you make it again and again (or have 20 duplicates) are you saying you'd make it differently each time, randomly?"

... on Albert Camus' Myth of Sysiphus:

"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor."
[snip]
"[A]s for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the cheek tight against the stone, the shoulder bracing the clay-covered mass, the foot wedging it, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two earth-clotted hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward the lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain."

"It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me. A face that toils so close to stones is already stone itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock."

"If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn."

Got that? "There is no fate [read: determinism] that can not be surmounted by scorn."

I am saying that even under your scenario, I would not necessarily reach the same decision 20 times because I am not a robot. I am like this Sysiphus guy... seemingly condemned forever to do the predictable but free because my mind is free to soar to unpredictable and unimaginable heights...

QED.

DCS

Posted by: dcshungu on June 24, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

The Native American populations made some serious progress in combatting these deadly sins. The Plains Indians for example often used coup sticks in lieu of deadly weapons, and the inter-tribal "wars" were not designed to end in massacre. In fact, the captured often willingly became a valued member of the capturing tribe. Sitting Bull adopted a boy who was in effect committing suicide by courageously fighting an overwhelming band of warriors. That son became a highly respected member of Sitting Bull's family. Regarding envy & greed, an ambitious man could only be selected for the "candidates" (men's council from which the chiefs were selected) if they had a reputation for feeding not only their own family, but the widows & orphans as well. And the "give-away" was an important part of most ceremonies. So one earned respect in the tribe for what one contributed, not from what one was able to deny others (private property). Thus envy of those held in high honor tended to motivate one to practice generosity rather than greed. What does Jesus say, "it's beter to give than to receive."

max

Posted by: max on June 24, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives think that we cannot end war because anger, violence and fighting are inherent in so-called "human nature."

But they are wrong, fundamentally wrong.

At bottom, victory in war is dependent on reason. Anger undermines victory.

Even if violence and fighting are part of the "human condition," this cannot be extrapolated to conclude that war is an inherent part of the human condition.

Individuals may become violent, but nations do not. Nations are not human beings, they are entities. Anger is a human characteristic, and to impute it to a non-living entity is gross personification.

Individual human violence, rooted in anger, does not lead to war. War is the organized use of violence by nations. Nations go to war for power over territory and resources, not because they are "angry" at each other.

While it is true that the anger of individual soldiers is created and used to spur the violence of war, those who plan and foment war must take care not to become angry, because anger is the enemy of creating a winning strategy.

Pacifist liberals believe that we can reduce the propensity of nations to go to war, not because we are utopian and believe in human perfectibility and an end what may be called a human propensity to violence.

We believe that we can end war because it is cruel to innocents, unnecessary, economically unfeasible and devastating to our planet. It ruins not only civilian lives, but the lives of the soldiers who survive its atrocities.

We believe that we can end war because war is at its base irrational. Even though we need to use human reason to "win" wars, wars are unreasonable activities that, while producing short term gains, almost always end in long-term disasters.

Pacifist liberals believe that we can end war the same way we ended slavery and widespread cannibalism--other irrational activities that made complete short-term sense to those who engaged in them. Because war, at its base, is as abominable and irrational as slavery and cannibalism.

Posted by: af on June 24, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

someone above wrote, conservatives want smaller, localized solutions, believing that for most social, cultural, and political problems, the solutions are not necessarily obvious or even the same in all contexts. Liberals believe in the rationalist approach to solving social problems; conservatives believe in an experimental approach.


This gives conservatives just way too much credit. A conservative is interested in nothing but self-graitification. Absolutely nothing else at all in any situation.

Posted by: cld on June 24, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

[url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/12-volt-trolling-motor.html]12 volt trolling motor[/url] 12 volt trolling motor http://artsmediamag.com/comments/12-volt-trolling-motor.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gooseneck-trailer-hitches.html]gooseneck trailer hitches[/url] gooseneck trailer hitches http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gooseneck-trailer-hitches.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/bird-repellent.html]bird repellent methods[/url] bird repellent methods http://artsmediamag.com/comments/bird-repellent.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/auto-insurance-through-payroll-deduction.html]auto insurance through payroll deduction[/url] auto insurance through payroll deduction http://artsmediamag.com/comments/auto-insurance-through-payroll-deduction.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/naples-florida-condos.html]rental condos in naples florida[/url] rental condos in naples florida http://artsmediamag.com/comments/naples-florida-condos.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/oldsmobile-aurora.html]2002 oldsmobile aurora[/url] 2002 oldsmobile aurora http://artsmediamag.com/comments/oldsmobile-aurora.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gmc-denali.html]2003 gmc sierra denali rear brake replacement[/url] 2003 gmc sierra denali rear brake replacement http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gmc-denali.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/2003-prom-dresses.html]2002 2003 prom dresses[/url] 2002 2003 prom dresses http://artsmediamag.com/comments/2003-prom-dresses.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/restaurant-tablecloths.html]restaurant tablecloths[/url] restaurant tablecloths http://artsmediamag.com/comments/restaurant-tablecloths.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/tennessee-cabins.html]secluded cabins east tennessee pet friendly[/url] secluded cabins east tennessee pet friendly http://artsmediamag.com/comments/tennessee-cabins.html

Posted by: sharai on June 24, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

[url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/12-volt-trolling-motor.html]12 volt trolling motor[/url] 12 volt trolling motor http://artsmediamag.com/comments/12-volt-trolling-motor.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gooseneck-trailer-hitches.html]gooseneck trailer hitches[/url] gooseneck trailer hitches http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gooseneck-trailer-hitches.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/bird-repellent.html]bird repellent methods[/url] bird repellent methods http://artsmediamag.com/comments/bird-repellent.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/auto-insurance-through-payroll-deduction.html]auto insurance through payroll deduction[/url] auto insurance through payroll deduction http://artsmediamag.com/comments/auto-insurance-through-payroll-deduction.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/naples-florida-condos.html]rental condos in naples florida[/url] rental condos in naples florida http://artsmediamag.com/comments/naples-florida-condos.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/oldsmobile-aurora.html]2002 oldsmobile aurora[/url] 2002 oldsmobile aurora http://artsmediamag.com/comments/oldsmobile-aurora.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gmc-denali.html]2003 gmc sierra denali rear brake replacement[/url] 2003 gmc sierra denali rear brake replacement http://artsmediamag.com/comments/gmc-denali.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/2003-prom-dresses.html]2002 2003 prom dresses[/url] 2002 2003 prom dresses http://artsmediamag.com/comments/2003-prom-dresses.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/restaurant-tablecloths.html]restaurant tablecloths[/url] restaurant tablecloths http://artsmediamag.com/comments/restaurant-tablecloths.html [url=http://artsmediamag.com/comments/tennessee-cabins.html]secluded cabins east tennessee pet friendly[/url] secluded cabins east tennessee pet friendly http://artsmediamag.com/comments/tennessee-cabins.html

Posted by: sharai on June 24, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK
All perspectives have some truth. No perspective is all truth. The strength of liberalism is the willingness to try to improve things. The strength of conservatism is the willingness to recognize how deep the roots of some problems go.

Posted by: kevin on June 23, 2006 at 7:06 PM

I like this approach. We should look for the virtues in both sides of the debate.

I would tend to define liberal/conservative more along the lines of emphasis on the group vs emphasis on the individual. In that characterization, selfishness is a fundamental conservative value and a feeling of responsibility to the rest of society is a fundamental liberal value.

I see the strength of liberalism as the ceaseless, optimistic belief in progress which is borne out by the hard facts of history. Progress is real.

I see the strength of conservatism as an emphasis on personal responsibility.

But denying human nature is not unique to liberals or conservatives. Human nature at its ugliest is something we all want to deny.

A problem--mostly for conservatives--is that when push comes to shove, many "conservatives" don't really believe in personal responsibility.

GWB exhibit A.

Posted by: obscure on June 24, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

DCS
I am saying that even under your scenario, I would not necessarily reach the same decision 20 times because I am not a robot. I am like this Sysiphus guy... seemingly condemned forever to do the predictable but free because my mind is free to soar to unpredictable and unimaginable heights...

I think that if you were to be able to replay the scenario 20 times (each time having experienced what you experienced and knowing what you had known as the first time) and made different decisions, that would mean you were not fully in control. Some outside force or some internal random number generator had its hand subtly on the tiller. To be deterministic is to be fully in control of your own actions.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 24, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike sez:
To be deterministic is to be fully in control of your own actions.

Classic example of a self-contradictory non sequitur:

Determinism = fate. Fate is the inescapable (viz. death). Simple example: Within the limits of the norm [no suicidal tendency, which would be an aberration and a sign of a "broken mind"], no one is in control of the decision for one's time and place of death. How then can you absurdly claim to be in full control of something [e.g., death] that is pre-determined?

Posted by: dcshungu on June 24, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Determinism = fate. Fate is the inescapable (viz. death). Simple example: Within the limits of the norm [no suicidal tendency, which would be an aberration and a sign of a "broken mind"], no one is in control of the decision for one's time and place of death.

I wouldn't label the time or place of death as a "decision" to be made. I don't think nature "decides" to drop a meteor on me, for example. I narrow the definition of "decision" as an irrevocable action I take in response to what I see and have seen (past and current history). Decision revolves around me.

How then can you absurdly claim to be in full control of something [e.g., death] that is pre-determined?

Don't confuse pre-determined with deterministic in this case. To me, deterministic means nonrandom, and if I respond rationally to the outside world, then I should be deterministic in my decision-making. Otherwise I am merely scatter-brained and have decisions made for me by some outside thing. So I'd rather be deterministic.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 24, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Just to be clear (hit return too soon)...

Determinism = fate

I'm narrowing the definition, I guess. Determinism means repeatability and rationality. If that leads to fate, then so be it.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 24, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike sez again:
To me, deterministic means nonrandom, and if I respond rationally to the outside world, then I should be deterministic in my decision-making. Otherwise I am merely scatter-brained and have decisions made for me by some outside thing. So I'd rather be deterministic.

Did you get the part about "The Jonah Goldberg Variation on "Le Mythe de Sysiphe"?...Otherwise, we are not on the same wavelength.

Sysiphus must do same thing again and again, and yet he comes out ahead. Why is that? If you figure that one out, then you will become a Liberal (w/Capiltal "L")

DCS

Cheers...

By the way, do you prefer Glen Gould's original rendition of the "Goldberg Variations" or do you prefer the "repeat" rendition ? I prefer the ones that he did when was less "Impetuous", meaning when we was older... Bluntly: I prefer the repeat "Goldbergs" to the original.

Cheers!

Dikoma


Posted by: dcshungu on June 25, 2006 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike sez:

Don't confuse pre-determined with deterministic in this case. To me, deterministic means nonrandom,


Please go up and speak with that chap over at the Red State college of the humanities and he will tell you what "determinism" means in scholarly circles... ("Deterministic" is the antonym of "contigent" in philosophical and academic circles). Determinism = fate. In a contingent world, there is "wiggle" room for such mundane things as "free will"...but not if your fate is to be, say, Judas Iscariot, then you're doomed...

The Jonah Goldberg Variation on Le Mythe de Sysiphe is a non-sequitur... Really. There are no "human condition" problems that are permanent! If you understand the true meaning in the "Myth of Sysiphus", you'd understand what WE mean...


Cheers mate,

DCS

Posted by: dcshungu on June 25, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

DCS

Please go up and speak with that chap over at the Red State college of the humanities and he will tell you what "determinism" means in scholarly circles...

Maybe in the scholarly circles of the humanities. In the scholarly circles of engineering and the "hard sciences" deterministic is offered in opposition to stochastic and means repeatable. It doesn't mean the outcome is known, since deterministic leaves room for unknowable.

Sysiphus must do same thing again and again, and yet he comes out ahead.

But he is not really doing the same thing again and again. He repeats nothing. He carries the memory of every previous toil up the hill with him, and can grow and change based on that knowledge. The state of the system changes. I reference you to our modern philosopher Harold Ramis and his best known piece of philosophy and a more complete study of the phenomenom you describe.

There are no "human condition" problems that are permanent!

I never said there were.

If you understand the true meaning in the "Myth of Sysiphus", you'd understand what WE mean...

I understand what you mean. I take issue with what you wrote upthread...

If I believed that (determinism), I would have little reason to value my life or anything other human endeavor. If the the "outcome" were already determined and, therefore, there is little that anyone can do alter the course of history, then why would anyone bother wasting the time?

It would seem to me that one can believe in condition humane (there are things about us humans that are eternal, like greed, envy, etc. that Goldberg made reference to) and yet not believe the outcome of the ensemble is determined. In fact, that appears to me to be the non sequitur. I don't think the atoms that make up a spacecraft are any different in their properties than the atoms that make up a pyramid. Yet the two (spacecraft and pyramid) are hugely different. Humans don't need to evolve or change in order for the systems created by humans to do so. With the same non-changing humans there are an infinity of possible systems to compose, many of which can improve our lot in life.

Q: Why did the philosophy major cross the road?
A: To pick up three credits. Better yet, he got three more coming back.

Posted by: Red State Mike on June 25, 2006 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Anna Lourdes observes that American society began losing its way when the word, sin, lost its common viability. I agree. You'd have to be a sinner not to.

Posted by: StuffEnuf on June 25, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Red State Mike

The laws of physics are deterministic, as is the physical world, once we have uncovered its secrets. A chair, once a chair, remains a chair until broken. "La condition humaine" ain't so...A man is an empty vessel that becomes "full" through a series of choices and decisions that he makes. Since the available choices for any situation are practically infinite, there are limitless possibilities of what an individual can become. You make one choice, you become someone (e.g., a murderer and rot in jail) or another choice and you turn into a completely different person (a saint,lawyer, physicist). There is no determinism there. It is all contingent, a split second decision that totally alters the outcome, picking one outcome out of many possible outcomes.

Posted by: dcshungu on June 25, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

mhr on June 26, 2006 at 8:23 PM sez:
To put it simply liberals like to be believe that man has no nature; that he is born a blank slate and that he can be molded by good education into something other than the acquisitive, greedy being that Marx saw as the great obstacle to the creation of the perfect society...blah...blah...blah...

Wrong. Who said anything about some external force or entity molding the individual into some utopian man? Reducing this to the myopic binary notion of liberals v. conservatives misses the beauty of the whole concept! The individual, through personal choices, molds himself into who he becomes!It is the ultimate concept of individual freedom and personal responsibility. You make the wrong choices, fuck up and wind up in jail, you'll have no one to blame but yourself, and doing time will be the consequence of your own poor judgement. The other side of that scenario is obvious...you reap the rewards for good, thoughtful decisions.

Posted by: dcshungu on June 27, 2006 at 2:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly