Saturday, April 7, 2012

Alert! Derbyshire Being Derbyshire Again!

I won't link the piece, only because I'm feeling pretty lazy right now - and earlier, Takimag was going down under the weight of traffic. Anyone hard at work linking this to the Cult of Gnu? Not that Derb's clearly part of that as far as I know, but hey.

I've read a few responses. I'm waiting for someone to try a point by point takedown on Derb's article, specifying where the racism was, and what he got factually wrong. If no one steps on and does this (at least, no one at the appropriate major/minor media outlets), I'm going to be a little worried.

So far the closest anyone has come in my brief glance over responses was a blog entry over at First Things. Said blogger denounced what they saw as Derb's denial of human exceptionalism (not sure what the grounds were at this moment), and some weird claim that there are no races. They lost me at the last one. Yes, yes, I know some scientist claims to have taken genetic samples from a wide variety of races and argued that in terms of genetic diversity there's more difference between various people living in africa than an african and a non-african in the US. But no, if you say 'there are no races' you either have to qualify your point so ridiculously that it becomes non-applicable in the Derb conversation, or you're bullshitting, or you're delusional. And the fact is, you can argue that all of the differences between supposed 'races' come down to environmental and cultural factors, and you still haven't blunted Derb's attack at all. And that's the point, isn't it?

So I'm waiting to see if anyone steps up and takes a scalpel to his article. If no one does and the response consists entirely of "Derb is a racist, he said racist things, for SHAME", then it's going to start to look like an Emperor's Clothes situation.


Gyan said...

To be focused on race and tribe is un-Christian (even anti-Christian) but Derbyshire does not pretend to be a Christian.

Crude said...

I'm not sure what you mean. Well, certainly Derbyshire doesn't pretend to be Christian.

But 'to be focused on race and tribe is un-Christian'? I'd have to hear more. Certainly to have an 'us versus them' racial attitude is unChristian. To recognize bare facts about different groups of people, or to recognize that different groups exist? That doesn't seem unChristian at all.

Keep in mind that Derbyshire may have said things in other columns or venues regarding race that are ridiculous, and I may have missed them. (I saw someone implying that Derbyshire rejected that culture rather than genetics played a large part in these debates. If he took such a view, I think he's foolish.)

But the column he wrote is the column that got him fired from NRO, so that's what I have to go on. I'm still waiting to hear about someone going down his column and eviscerating it piece by piece, or at least at the most contentious points. (What ARE the most contentious points? No one I've read has even said that much.)

Gyan said...

The classical and also the Christian focus has been the City, and not the tribe.

Love Thy Neighbor is a command that makes sense in City where the neighbors exist.

From a comment at First Things:
Derbyshire’s ‘The Talk’ has 15 points. The first six are unobjectionable for the most part. The 7th, 8th, and 9th are a mix of true, debatable, and false clauses. The 11th is gratuitous and channels Sailer. The 12th has a kernal of logic around which is an acre of trumpery. The 13th, 14th, and 15th are arch and ripe. The 10th has nine separate sub-headings and does describe roughly what people do in urban environments when they do not know precisely with whom they are dealing

Crude said...

Where's the false and debatable in 7, 8 and 9? ("Debatable" is always a flag for me. You can debate anything if you want. 2+2 = x? You can debate that the answer is 5 for years. You'll be wrong, but you can debate.)

I'll grant that 9 is not at all 'scientific'. But then again, Derb's giving his experience.

11. Gratuitous? I don't see how. Are you saying incorrect?

Not sure what "arch and ripe" means regarding 13, 14, 15. You could sell me on "way too cynical and self-serving" therem easily.

7-9, 11 and 12 seem to be where the action is, at least if they're false. Where's the falsehood? I ask that sincerely, since you seem ready to explain exactly that.

Gyan said...

The point 11 is: "Life is an IQ test".
A conservative magazine is justified in firing an author for such an extreme reduction.

It is also false, even empirically, absolutely non-Christian, sub-pagan and shows a monomaniacal attitude.

Chinese are supposed to have high IQ. But do they have freedom, rational government, low crime, etc etc.
Only yesterday there was news of a forced late-term abortion.

Crude said...

A conservative magazine is justified in firing an author for such an extreme reduction.

I think that's going way too far. I don't think Derb means 'You can evaluate someone's worth by their IQ test' or 'Having a high IQ means you're always right' or any other such thing. I think what he means is pretty straightforward: an IQ test measures the amount of aptitude you can be expected to have when performing a wide variety of tasks, from grasping concepts to learning to performing some cognitive tasks. It's not a number which is just floating around there representing something which has no impact on our lives when we interact with people.

Gyan said...

He explicitly links criminality with IQ. This may be empirically true in America but the reason is better provided by CS Lewis
"Modern thought breeds isolation and suicide among the rich; envy and murder among the poor"

I live in a Third World city of 1.5 million people; the average IQ is perhaps 80 and violent crime is almost non-existent.

Crude said...

He explicitly links criminality with IQ.


I'll grant you that he is arguing that blacks, at least blacks in America, A) have lower IQs on average and B) are more likely to be criminals on average. But I don't see where he makes a link of low IQ and crime. He doesn't seem to get into the 'why these crime rates' or 'why these IQ scores' whatsoever in the article - he just notes the statistics on both. (That was one of the articles' strengths. If he tried to argue that this was for purely genetic/racial reasons, he'd have been in a far more difficult situation intellectually.)

Maybe you mean other articles or views elsewhere. If so, I'd say again that I think culture is a major component in these things. But this particular article is the one that raised the ruckus, so it's what I'm keeping my eye on.

The Deuce said...

Hi, Crude:

I saw someone implying that Derbyshire rejected that culture rather than genetics played a large part in these debates. If he took such a view, I think he's foolish.

FWIW, he actually goes further than that. He's denied that culture plays *any* role in these debates, or even *can* play any role in principle. The actual words he's used are "Culture is phlogiston."

His argument is that "culture" simply means group behavior, so that when we say that a group acts a certain way because of their culture, we're really just saying that they behave that way because they behave that way.

Of course, the problem with that is that culture is *not* just group behavior. It's also the beliefs, values, traditions etc that *drive* behavior. To say that culture is simply group behavior you must implicitly assert that beliefs are just behaviors, a claim otherwise known as behaviorism, which is incoherent. But Derb is an extreme materialist reductionist, with a gnu-like disdain and ignorance of philosophy, so he makes that assumption without even realizing it.

The Phantom Blogger said...

I'm not really all that interested in the Derbyshire article but I have to agree with Gyan that Derb is making a link between IQ and Crime. After all the entire article is about black criminality. There would be no need for him to bring up black IQ levels unless he believed there was some correlation between the two things. Charles Murray who is a major influence on Derbyshire's thinking has wrote many articles on this topic and has mentioned it in his books. He frequently correlates low IQ with high criminality.

The Deuce said...

Btw, I do think that Derb is a racist, but that's actually not his primary problem. The real problem is that he's an ultra-Darwinian reductionist nihilist. The racism just follows from that because he's consistent.

As far as denying human exceptionalism goes, Derb has done that explicitly when asked about it. His answer was something to the effect that humans are only "exceptional" inasmuch as blind evolution happens to have left us with a higher intelligence than other animals, but that this is just a curious happenstance, and makes us no more exceptional than elephants are exceptional for having exceptionally long noses.

So the real problem is that Derb's views are thoroughly dehumanizing, and degrade all of us to absolute worthlessness. All of us are pointless, purposeless, cosmically accidental machines in his view, with no objective value.

Of course, he also thinks that blacks are generally less intelligent than whites who are less intelligent than East Asians, and so forth, and that this is the primary explanation for differences in criminality and so on (He wasn't completely explicit about it in that article, but if you've read him for a while, there's really no way to doubt that that's his position).

Now, if "human" is just a label we use for animals with no objective worth that happen by luck to have a higher IQ than other animals, and if there's really nothing objectively wrong with herding or killing animals we designate as "lesser" for food or clothing or protection or sport, and if some groups of the animals we call "human" actually have significantly lower IQ than others, and if this causes them to behave in ways that are relatively inconvenient or dangerous to the rest of us, then....

Well, you can see where that's going. Derb has effectively affirmed and advocated all the premises of "scientific racism." The only argument he can give against it is that *he personally* doesn't feel like going out of his way to treat people of other races as subhuman or advocate that others do so, which is really no argument at all. And even this is diminished by the fact that Derb *does* approve of euthanasia, abortion, and eugenics on pretty much those same grounds. And of course, in this latest article, one of the things that got people up in arms is that he recommends that you avoid being a Good Samaritan for black people, so he's already crossed that rubicon as well. It's just a matter of degree, not principle, to justifying other dehumanizing treatment at that point.

It's not just the claims about racial correlations with IQ on their own that got Derb burned here, imo. Most people who are familiar with Derb know the godless, arch-reductionist context from which he's making his arguments, and I think on some level they understand the implications here even if Derb doesn't spell them out, and that's what's really making them uncomfortable.

IMO, NR's real failing is that they didn't part ways with Derb years ago over his deeply anti-conservative, anti-religious, dehumanizing, materialist reductionism. In fact, they rarely if ever even bothered to confront him on it or to seriously argue against it. Since they weren't willing to even articulate their opposition to his reductionism then, they can't cite it as a reason to can him now, even though that's the thing that makes his "racism" what it is. So now they're left looking like unprincipled idiots, appearing to fire him because he wasn't liberal and politically correct enough, rather than because he's not a conservative.

Crude said...


After all the entire article is about black criminality. There would be no need for him to bring up black IQ levels unless he believed there was some correlation between the two things.

I disagree with this analysis, and here's why.

First, I think the article isn't just about black criminality: it's also about average black performance at cognitive tasks, in comparison to non-blacks. The "DMV Lady" isn't a criminal.

Second, the article is also largely about blacks as a group, period. Derb, in that article, nowhere connects low-IQ with criminality. But he does make two other correlations: between rates of criminality and race, and between IQ and race.

That said, I agree largely with The Deuce here, and if Derb really does think culture is irrelevant, he's a freaking moron. But that aside, the article is what it is, and he avoids such pitfalls in the article itself.

The Phantom Blogger said...

I agree that he doesn't explicitly state it but it seemed like an undercurrent theme within the article. I would have to re-read the article to properly analyses these points and as I said I'm not that interested in the article. But it seemed to be he was correlating bad behavior, not necessarily always criminal, with low IQ and hence criminality would come under that as well.

Crude said...

Alright. My reading of it doesn't have him drawing those lines, at least not explicitly. But if you disagree, that's that.

I think the rotten thing here is, of all the things to condemn Derb for, this article just seems like a bad choice. I don't deny this is a provocative piece, but I think the best you could condemn Derb for would be 'stuff he said elsewhere'. And the fact that people condemned him based on vague charges rather than pointing out explicitly where in the article he went wrong doesn't sit well with me.