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Guns, Germs, and Steel: A Refutation

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JP Rushton

Richard Lynn

L:inda Gottfredson

Goodreads

2650 words

I first heard of Guns, Germs, and Steel (GGS) a few years ago while in a discussion about racial differences and their causes. The person linked me to the Wikipedia page on GGS. I then looked into it and it seemed to be an OK hypothesis. However, after reading the book myself and then reading critiques he got on it, it’s clear that Jared Diamond was attempting to pick and choose what to put into the book to come to the conclusions he already has come to. There are some interesting tidbits in the books, my favorite being only 14 beasts of burden have been tamed for human use out of 148 large wild creatures that can be tamed. Other than that, he spins facts and data from hereditarians to suit his own agenda.

Jared Diamond started wondering about the reasons for human inequalities after his New Guinean friend, Yali, asked Diamond why Westerners had so much more “cargo” (material possessions) than the New Guineans. Diamond then set forth to find out why human inequality existed. Diamond attempts to say that immediate environment and only environment is the cause of racial inequalities. However, what Diamond fails to say is that genetic isolation over thousands of years is the cause of racial differences in intelligence, muscle fiber typings, crime differences, age of first period, sleep, obesity and metabolic differences, racial/sex differences in testosterone, differences in climate which, over tens of thousands of years cause distinct phenotypic/genotypic differences, child rearing and age of first birth, slow and fast life history (r/K selection), etc. He also fails to bring up brain size differences between races/ethnicities. All of these factors are responsible for racial/ethnic inequalities.

Diamond’s main thesis in GGS is that human inequalities all boil down to amount of resources in the land and how they are able to be used with the geography of the area. He never brings up brain size as it pertains to  modern-day humans, EXCEPT in regards to New Guineans and how they are more intelligent than Europeans: (Diamond, 1997: 20, 36, 38, 40, 159, 198, 260):

My perspective on this controversy comes from 33 years of working with New Guineans in their own intact societies. From the very beginning of my work with New Guineans, they impressed me as being on the average more intelligent, more alert, more expressive, and more interested in things and people around them than the average European or American is. At some tasks that one might reasonably suppose to reflect aspects of brain function, such as the ability to form a mental map of unfamiliar surroundings, they appear considerably more adept than Westerners. Of course, New Guineans tend to perform poorly at tasks that Westerners have been trained to perform since childhood and that New Guineans have not. Hence when unschooled New Guineans from remote villages visit towns, they look stupid to Westerners. Conversely, I am constantly aware of how stupid I look to New Guineans when I’m with them in the jungle, displaying my incompetence at simple tasks (such as following a jungle trail or erecting a shelter) at which New Guineans have been trained since childhood and I have not.

It’s easy to recognize two reasons why my impression that New Guineans are smarter than Westerners may be correct. First, Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies with central governments, police, and judiciaries. In those societies, infectious epidemic diseases of dense populations (such as smallpox) were historically the major cause of death, while murders were relatively uncommon and a state of war was the exception rather than the rule. Most Europeans who escaped fatal infections also escaped other potential causes of death and proceeded to pass on their genes. Today, most live-born Western infants survive fatal infections as well and reproduce themselves, regardless of their intelligence and the genes they bear. In contrast, New Guineans have been living in societies where human numbers were too low for epidemic diseases of dense populations to evolve. Instead, traditional New Guineans suffered high mortality from murder, chronic tribal warfare, accidents, and problems in procuring food.

Besides this genetic reason, there is also a second reason why New Guineans may have come to be smarter than Westerners. Modern European and American children spend much of their time being passively entertained by television, radio, and movies. In the average American household, the TV set is on for seven hours per day. In contrast, traditional New Guinea children have virtually no such opportunities for passive entertainment and instead spend almost all of their waking hours actively doing something, such as talking or playing with other children or adults. Almost all studies of child development emphasize the role of childhood stimulation and activity in promoting mental development, and stress the irreversible mental stunting associated with reduced childhood stimulation. This effect surely contributes a non-genetic component to the superior average mental function displayed by New Guineans. That is, in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners, and they surely are superior in escaping the devastating developmental disadvantages under which most children in industrialized societies now grow up. Certainly, there is no hint at all of any intellectual disadvantage of New Guineans that could serve to answer Yali’s question. (Diamond, 1997: 20-21)

This is laughable. To say that a tropical people, pretty much isolated from the rest of the world is more intelligent than Europeans is not true at all. Just as Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence fails to explain away racial/ethnic differences in intelligence, so does Diamond’s. Jared Diamond clearly, by his own admission, wants to prove that these differences between humans only come down to immediate environment and are not genetic in nature. The fact that Diamond says that New Guineans are “probably superior to Westerners” … “escaping the devastating developmental damages under which most children in industrialized societies now grow up” shows how biased he is with this whole entire book. IQ tests are great predictors of g, general intelligence, and Westerners clearly are superior in terms of intelligence in comparison to New Guineans. Yea, you can’t build a shelter like they can and you look stupid to them because you can’t do what they can in their society. Duh, of course. The fact that he uses that as any type of evidence or revelation that New Guineans are smarter than Westerners is a wrong and 100 percent ideologically driven statement.

Rushton had some nice words for Diamond on brain size, intelligence:

In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond joins the debate over racial
differences in IQ. In a few ex cathedra pronouncements, Diamond brands the
genetic argument "racist" (pp. 19-22), declares Herrnstein and Murray's
(1994) The Bell Curve "notorious" (p. 431), and states: "The objection to
such racist explanations is not just that they are loathsome but also that
they are wrong" (p. 19). He summarises his solution to one of philosophy
and social science's most enduring questions in one credal sentence: 
"History followed different courses for different peoples because of
differences among people's environments, not because of biological
differences among peoples themselves" (p. 25).

Of course the allegations of “racism” arise, as usual when in discussions of racial differences in intelligence and level of civilizational achievement. Rushton also says:

Racial differences in brain size and IQ map very closely to the same cultural histories Diamond explains. Although Diamond dismisses such research as "loathsome", he fails to tell his readers what, if anything, might be scientifically wrong with any of it. One hundred years of research has
established that East Asians and Europeans average higher IQs than do Africans. East Asians, measured in North America and in Pacific Rim
countries, typically average IQs in the range of 101 to 111. Caucasoid populations in North America, Europe, and Australasia typically average
IQs from 85 to 115 with an overall mean of 100. African populations living south of the Sahara, in North America, in the Caribbean, and in Britain
typically have mean IQs from 70 to 90.Racial differences in brain size and IQ map very closely to the same cultural histories Diamond explains. Although Diamond dismisses such research as
"loathsome", he fails to tell his readers what, if anything, might be scientifically wrong with any of it. One hundred years of research has established that East Asians and Europeans average higher IQs than do Africans. East Asians, measured in North America and in Pacific Rim
countries, typically average IQs in the range of 101 to 111.  Caucasoid populations in North America, Europe, and Australasia typically average IQs from 85 to 115 with an overall mean of 100. African populations living south of the Sahara, in North America, in the Caribbean, and in Britain typically have mean IQs from 70 to 90.

Diamond fails to bring any of this up and blames everything on the immediate environment and what one population did or did not have. On page 199 Diamond writes:

From the microbes’ (smallpox) point of view, however, they’re just a useful device to enlist a host’s help in inoculating microbes into a body cavity of a new host. The skin lesions caused by smallpox similarly spread microbes by direct or indirect body contact (occasionally very indirect, as when U.S. whites bent on wiping out “belligerent” Native Americans sent them gifts of blankets previously used by smallpox patients).

This is hilariously wrong and a myth. Smallpox dies in a few minutes outside of the human body, so to say that a large amount of ‘Natives’ died due to ‘smallpox-infected blankets’ is wrong.

So basically what Diamond and other egalitarians like him say is that different levels of civilization can be traced to environmental differences and not innate differences of the people, which are environmental in nature, but over tens of thousands of years, not in the immediate present as Diamond thinks. Egalitarians then make the leap that since physical environment can explain civilization differences, that means all of these populations we call races are the same on average. Not only is that a non-sequitur, but the whole argument is a strawman. No one says that environment doesn’t matter. We can look at two countries within Sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa and Botswana. We can look at their level of economic freedom and see that they are the most wealthy countries in Africa despite the declines from the ANC. They are the second wealthiest in Africa.

Natural resources and human capital are also important, but the lack of the proper natural resource requisite for civilization in the past is not the reason for them being poor today since we can see actual African countries that are better off than the rest of Africa just by having economic freedom. The gap between SA and Botswana and Congo, is evidence that Congo’s poverty today is not traceable to the disadvantages to the dawn of civilization.

The hereditarian model is more sophisticated than Diamond’s environmental determinism since hereditarians incorporate innate intelligence as a factor in national wealth, whereas Diamond, by assuming all races are the same in the brain, has one less factor to work with in explaining the world. Hereditarians do consider the environment, but how it affects different populations in each environment over tens of thousands of years. With Diamond’s assumption that all of the races are the same in the brain, he, like all other egalitarians, makes the assumption that all racial inequalities come down to the immediate environmental differences and not innate intelligence differences which are the result of the environment over tens of thousands of years. Diamond attempts to say that racial differences are only skin deep. However, with modern genomic technology we can see that this is wrong. with racial differences in intelligence also affecting the average lifespan of that group, shows that there are genetic differences between genetically isolated groups of humans.

Diamond then makes a remark, as seen above, that the New Guineans are smarter than Europeans. So are all races the same in the brain except New Guineans? Does Diamond then accept that different environments can differently affect human brain development depending on where they are located? All this is to say that his work is completely irrelevant, he does nothing to explain why the different races perform differently in different parts of the world. Factors you may name are not in play today.

If egalitarians think it’s caused by environmental poverty in the past, they still have to argue about it today because that evidence still exists. GGS doesn’t invalidate the hereditarian argument. At all. It’s yet another failed attempt like The Mismeasures of Gould…. I mean The Mismeasures of Man, to show that racial differences only come down to the immediate environment and that there are no innate differences between the races.

Jared Diamond is a Marxist, and thus let his political views cloud his supposed objectivity to the actual data. Another self-professed Marxist, Richard Lewontin, has admitted that his political views have clouded his conclusions on scientific data. It has also been suggested by other researchers that Lewontin let his politics affect his scientific views. Another notorious and infamous Marxist ideologue who let politics come before science, who I’ve covered here a bit is Steven Jay Gould, a man who has denied sex differences in the brain and the factor, among numerous other things. Lewontin and Gould, due to the fact that they had a bigger impact on the publics’ perception on race and racial differences and their causes (Gould’s book being pushed for 30 years until Lewis et al, 2011 showed that he lied was dishonest in his reanalysis of Morton’s data and Lewontin being quoted, fallaciously I may add, that race doesn’t exist, which today is a modern myth).

All three of these men put into the publics’ mind that recognizing racial differences in intelligence and any other trait is ‘racist’ and ‘not worth discussing’ as humans are ‘all the same’. However, as our genomic technology gets better we will see that these small differences in genotype between humans do mean a lot in regards to intelligence and other factors that affect quality of life. The fact that Marxists such as Lewontin, Gould, and Diamond put their political ideology before the actual science speaks volumes on the strength of the hereditarian hypothesis. That they have to jump through so many hoops in an attempt to disprove it with either outdated information or outright lies spun in a fashion to give their side more credence shows that their beliefs and theory of human inequalities stands on shaky legs and will fall over once thoroughly looked over by anyone with an analytical mind for rooting out biases in science. The fact that people need to outright lie and spin facts in order to suit their agendas in an attempt to disprove the hereditarian hypothesis of human inequalities shows that genetic differences between populations are the cause for inequalities between races/ethnicities.

Diamond et al were exposed as the lying Marxist ideologues that they were. The study of racial differences is better off that these three men were shown to put their political ideology over science. Equality between humans doesn’t exist. The fact that there are phenotypic differences between genetically isolated populations shows that there are differences in the genome. These genomic differences are the product of tens of thousands of years of evolving in different habitats/climates. To downplay genetic differences (as Lewontin did) or attempt to say that the factor is ‘reified’ (as Gould did) or downplay evolutionary selection pressures on brain size and intelligence (as Diamond did) shows a huge bias as they completely overlooked anything that went against their hypotheses.

Diamond’s book is best looked at as what one thinks of the hereditarian argument through a Marxist persepctive (as is the case with The Mismeasure of Man) and how their biases make them completely disregard the factual truths on racial differences and their causes.

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17 Comments

  1. mobiuswolf says:

    I’m glad you read it. Now I can decline.

    Like

  2. Chinedu says:

    “Us realists will end up winning out in the end. Delusions of equality can only persist by not objectively looking at the data.

    Who exactly is unequal to you? It seems to me that white supremacists like you are the inferior ones. Studies in fact confirm that white supremacists are stupid. But you won’t discuss those studies, huh?

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      I’m a supremacist? Source? This says otherwise. Supremacy when it comes to human populations and other organisms doesn’t make biological sense.

      I do know that conservatives have lower average IQs. I was going to discuss them eventually.

      Who is unequal? Are all groups equal in physical and mental traits? Does equality exist in nature?

      Diamond’s thesis, like most all egalitarian writings in response to hereditarianism falls short. Diamond is a hack.

      Like

  3. Chinedu says:

    “Who is unequal? Are all groups equal in physical and mental traits?”

    Yes they are. Where is your proof that they aren’t? Hoping, praying and longing for inequality isn’t science. We know there is significant overlap in every mental and physical trait. So how do you arrive at the idea that some groups are unequal? Due to overlap and because no human attribute is found exclusively in any group it is IMPOSSIBLE to know that one group is superior or inferior in any human trait or attribute, including intelligence.

    Individuals are superior or inferior, not groups. How can you say a group is unequal in any attribute when vast hordes of that group are superior to you in that attribute? Do you even understand how the scientific method works? Do you really think you can walk into a room full of black people and just assume that you’re the smartest person in the room? Do you think you’re going be smarter than any random black person you encounter? I bet you wouldn’t bet anything of value on those propositions.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Yes they are. Where is your proof that they aren’t? Hoping, praying and longing for inequality isn’t science. We know there is significant overlap in every mental and physical trait. So how do you arrive at the idea that some groups are unequal? Due to overlap and because no human attribute is found exclusively in any group it is IMPOSSIBLE to know that one group is superior or inferior in any human trait or attribute, including intelligence.

      A perfect example for inequality in nature are Darwin’s Finches. They live in the same environment, with small differences, but they all evolved differently with different adaptations to suit them in that specific niche on the island. Despite evolving on the same island, they have different traits. Now, let’s take humans who evolved on the same island isolated but in differing environments on that island. The differences would be similar not the same, as Natural Selection doesn’t work like that.

      Of course there is significant overlap in all mental/physical traits. You should know that I am, always, speaking on averages. All intelligence researchers, specifically Rushton, Murray, Herrnstein, Gottfredson, Jensen et all all say that these are averages and that you cannot assume one’s intelligence based on membership, or lack thereof, of their racial/ethnic group.

      How is it impossible to know? We can use, for instance, the Ravens test. Is it impossible to know who is better at swimming or sprinting? Marathons? No it isn’t. There are objective measures that we can use to see these three things, just as we have objective measures to see who is more intelligent.

      Individuals are superior or inferior, not groups. How can you say a group is unequal in any attribute when vast hordes of that group are superior to you in that attribute? Do you even understand how the scientific method works? Do you really think you can walk into a room full of black people and just assume that you’re the smartest person in the room? Do you think you’re going be smarter than any random black person you encounter? I bet you wouldn’t bet anything of value on those propositions.

      I agree with the first half of your first sentence, not the second. Groups are superior on certain traits, whether sprinting, swimming or marathons. The same is true for intelligence. Just because there are numerous individuals who are superior on any given trait to myself does not mean that racial/ethnic differences are negated.

      Yes I understand the SM. Yes I know that you can’t gauge someone’s intellect just from knowing their racial/ethnic ancestry. It’d be stupid to say you could if that was the only information you had on the person in question. No I don’t think I’m smarter than any random black person I encounter, that’d be stupid to think. However, you can get an idea of one’s intelligence from interacting with them for a few moments. To say one is always better on any given trait over another from a different racial/ethnic group is intellectually dishonest and not true at all.

      Like

  4. Chinedu says:

    “Does equality exist in nature?”

    Yes. That’s precisely what nature does within species. In nature if organisms are of they same species, they invariably are equal. There may be differences on an individual level, but as groups they are equal. For example, it’s certain that among North American grey wolves, some are more intelligent than others. But it would be absurd to suggest that as a group, American grey wolves are more intelligent than Russian grey wolves.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      Yes. That’s precisely what nature does within species. In nature if organisms are of they same species, they invariably are equal. There may be differences on an individual level, but as groups they are equal. For example, it’s certain that among North American grey wolves, some are more intelligent than others. But it would be absurd to suggest that as a group, American grey wolves are more intelligent than Russian grey wolves.

      How different are the environments? Temperate in comparison to subarctic? Logic would dictate that the wolves that evolved in the subarctic environment would be more intelligent than wolves that evolved in a temperate environment, even being the same species.

      Like

    • ni67 says:

      Chinedu’s arguement makes no sense whatsoever.

      There are differences within A group of A(n) and A(n+1) individuals with respect to intelligence.
      Therefore, it cannot be true that all A(n) is more intelligent than all B(n).

      Nature doesn’t select for intelligence willy-nilly.
      If you can’t get the omega-3 and oils needed to make your brain, sorry but you’re not going to enjoy having a bigger brain or more specialized regions for sensory-detection.

      If you can’t lay your eggs / keep your young safe (mothers) to have long development times in the brain (high folding, high surface area), sorry but you’re not going to enjoy having a higher level of cognitive aptitude.

      If all factors are the same between two species with respect to their environment, and their evolutionary history/lineage is identical, and the selective pressures are pretty much equal, with the geographic distributions equal in abundance and density and locations, and the type of food, micro-climate, weather and so forth are similar, then yes there is a good chance that these two wolf packs will have a similar level of variance, and minimum and maximum intelligence.

      If organisms are of the same species, they are invariably equal.

      Wrong.
      Birds that live in one area that are conditioned in the lab to have no exposure to leaves, versus those that have foliage, when released, display different levels of time-sensitivity to pine/oak leaves, or something to that effect. (Population Biology)

      Ravens that spend time in cities, and are reproductively isolated for X generations, versus ravens in some wild areas must demonstrate different levels of intelligence mean scores. One has to crack nuts using cars, tricking human children, or annoy human adults, and establish cause and effect. The other just needs to ‘locate’ sources of food and enjoy them.

      Like

  5. thesitrep says:

    Jared Diamond is nothing more than an activist idiot.

    Like

    • RaceRealist says:

      The amount of lies and obfuscations in the book attest to that. Whenever I read a new book I never take what the author says until I look into what’s cited by the author.

      Like

  6. Chinedu says:

    ni67,

    Those are all LEARNED behaviors. A house cat is not going to be a wily or as “street smart” as a feral cat. But a house cat has the same genetic potential. Set it loose on the street and it will quick assimilate those behaviors. The same applies to your raven analogy.

    You’re not even smart enough to figure that out? Why are you even involved in this discussion?

    Like

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