The latest issue
of National Review
has a cover story by Jim Manzi on the "fallacy of genetic determinism."
, June 2, 2008 (Pay archive| free version
) ]Contrary to what some people
may think, I personally do not have a huge interest in genetics or intelligence testing. I do, however, have some interest in what Bill Buckley called "the prevailing structures of taboos."
Regardless of what Manzi thinks about race, genes, and intelligence; he certainly has no idea about what the bien pensants
think about said structure.
The piece begins with Manzi showing examples of the mainstream media trumpeting stories on the genetic basis of human behavior
within the past few months both Time and The New York Times Magazine have had cover stories on the evolutionary roots of morality; Time has had a second cover story on the biological basis of romance; Newsweek has had one article on the genetic explanation of psychological resilience and another arguing that varying incidences of disease-causing pathogens explain the degree to which different countries` policies are individualist or collectivist; NBC News has broadcast a story on the genetic basis for smoking addiction; ABC has had a story on the evolutionary origins of the incest taboo; and CBS has run a story titled "Eureka: Happiness Gene Found." Mass media are inundated with this biology-explains-all ideology.
Manzi proceeds to briefly write about why he thinks there are limits to this type of thinking, and then spends the rest of the article giving his opinion on the validity, or lack their of, of looking for genetic differences in intelligence and its implications. Sure enough he eventually gets to how these theories were used to justify forced sterilization and Nazi eugenics.
Then Manzi states,
It was, in fact, the conflagration of the Holocaust that made human eugenics a more or less forbidden research topic for decades. But this halt has proved temporary. As the Holocaust passes from living memory, and biology makes enormous advances, the human inclination to intellectual vanity is reasserting itself.
The piece starts off by mentioning Watson
`s discovery of the Double Helix, but does not mention the issue of the discoverer of DNA having his reputation nearly entirely destroyed and getting kicked out of the lab that he created over stating that he believed that their were genetic differences between the races. Whatever one thinks of the issue, it is certainly still quite a "forbidden topic"
Looking for the "Gay gene"
or "happy gene"
or even things like "designer babies"
may have been objectionable to many on religious grounds, but has rarely been taboo from a "this type of thinking led to Hitler"
standpoint; and certainly nowhere close to that of looking at the issue of human differences.
The real "forbidden topic"
is questioning racial egalitarianism—an issue National Review obfuscates
rather than breaches.