Megan McCardle in WP: Who should decide what topics are off-limits?

Steve Sailer writes: McArdle: You Should be Allowed to Ask if It’s OK to Ask if Race Influences IQ, But Not to Ask if Race Influences IQ

…Okay, but should arguments based on the assumption that there cannot be empirical links between race and IQ also be ruled out of bounds? Should Mayor De Blasio’s argument that the Stuyvesant HS entrance exam must be biased because a couple of orders of magnitude more Asians than blacks pass it also be banned on the grounds that we aren’t allowed to speculate about such questions?

How would that work, exactly?

By the way, one leftist social scientist, James Flynn, actually made a major contribution to knowledge by discovering the Flynn Effect of rising raw IQ test scores in his effort to scientifically undermine Jensenism.


* If one wants people to shut up about race and IQ, one should also ask people to shut up about things such as “systemic racism” and blaming White people for Black and Hispanic underachievement.

* “isn’t the likelihood of getting it wrong just too high?”

Money quote. If there’s too high a chance of scientific endeavor producing ‘incorrect’ results, it must be prohibited. As well as asking about it. Even this post should be prohibited, as should this blog. This website–to be safe, the whole internet. Then we’ll get to work with the duct tape.

* This sort of talk is not worthy of the reasoned consideration you grant it. Obscurantism is not a legitimate political or philosophical position. Neither therefore, is the authority, moral, intellectual or political, of those that espouse it. Period.

* the eugenics that fueled the Holocaust.

You keep hearing this sort of thing parroted, but unless you mean something pretty specific–”Aryans” good, other people bad–by “eugneics”, it seems like b.s. to me.

I realize the Nazis killed off some disabled and retarded people, which you could call “murderous eugnics” if you wanted to. (American eugenicists simply argued that the retards and nut jobs shouldn’t reproduce, which i think as well–if you can’t take care of yourself, you shouldn’t be having kids.)

But the trade marked “Holocaust” we keep getting movies about was about killing Jews. That wasn’t eugenics but just race war….

Killing your enemy off has a long history. One could argue it’s the normal human response. (At least killing your male enemy off and enjoying their females has a very long history.) The Nazis would have been much better served to have done either “one nation, one people”–integration–or chasing them out–Zionism–or some combination. And would have done a whole lot less damage to the West. Some people just aren’t forward thinking.

Still how killing your enemy off in the Holocaust is specifically this new fangled thing “eugenics” as opposed to the very old-timey thing “killing your enemy off” … seems like a bunch of b.s.–propaganda–to me.

* Actually, spousal murder has been deemed entirely acceptable in many states. It’s called “battered wife syndrome” and allows you to murder your husband in his sleep as long as you have a good sob story.

* Being smart does not protect against non sequiturs and the like. He who won’t believe me could risk a look at – ehe – Pravda / Holocaust Denial. Not least: Nicholas Kollerstrom – Breaking The Spell – Red Ice Radio…

Individuals are weak. One of the big lessons of the middle ages is the following: Groups and culture allow people to grow/ become wise. Those then – with the help of the heavens above, might act in reasonable ways – and get along well with one another – – -and grow as a society and culture, too. (cf. Arno Borst, Barbarians, Heretics and Artists in the Middle Ages and: The Ordering of Time. From the Ancient Computus to the Modern Computer.

* If I remember correctly, early Nazi ideology held that Germany had to be rid of Jews not because they were inferior, but because they were “racially tougher” than the Aryans. After the Nazis took power, however, they found this was too hard a concept for the general public to wrap its head around. So, Hitler’s propaganda machine switched to demonizing Jews as dirty, ugly, subhuman, etc. That was an easier sell to a culture that was already anti-Semitic.

* This is sort of mental “stop and frisk.” You know you suspect something but not enough evidence to be quite sure.

* Exactly our policy prescriptions say that any disparity between the races is because of racism. If in a diverse society that is not the case this needs to be incorporated into our politics.

Also it’s ridiculous for a modern nation state to not have any idea of its human capital potential. The Chinese certainly will know.

* Maybe this is like taking the DNA test that tells you that you will die young of some genetic disease. Maybe you’re better off not knowing because there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.

We really don’t need to know more than we already know. The magnitude of the Gap (which has been fairly constant since the dawn of scientific intelligence measurement and was observed anecdotally since ancient times) and the # of blacks is perfectly well known. No one wants to draw any conclusions because the conclusions are too painful to draw and we can’t change the outcomes anyway.

* “And the potential cost of those particular errors simply too catastrophic to risk?”

What an unbelievably stupid question! How impaired do you have to be not to grasp that in the absence of scientific research we will be left with a completely unscientific — i.e., deliberately false — belief that must be designed to benefit the liars at the expense of others?

* “to the eugenics that fueled the Holocaust”

Idiotic slander on many great Americans and Englishmen.

Brandeis by the way joined Justice Holmes’s decision to uphold Virginia’s sterilization law in Buck v Bell.

Buck’s mother was probably schizophrenic and was unable to care for her three children (by different fathers) who were eventually institutionalized in a state facility with her. Buck was herself impregnated, allegedly by rape of a nephew of her foster family, and that baby was slow and died at age 8. The state judged her metal age to be 9 when she was 18 and thus a “moron.” Gould later claimed to have dug up her report cards from grade school showing she was a pleasant C+ student who was held back once.


“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

* Now that I have read the whole article itself, I would say that it is probably a subtle, quasi-troll by McCardle.

She is illuminating the stupidity and cowardice of the academics who are against scientific inquiry, while still keeping herself positioned as miles-away from any career-ending poltical incorrectness.

Her conclusion is that we need to ban the research, but only after a debate. In effect, we should shoot the prisoner but only after a trial. McArdle is smart enough to know how stupid and unpricipled this is.

P.S. The article also deliberately ignores that plenty of research on race and IQ has been done for decades.

* “All societies place some questions out of bounds because they’re too toxic; we don’t debate whether child molestation or spousal murder is acceptable.”

Again, she’s absolutely right. Not too long ago, the question of homosexuality being wrong was out of bounds. Like child molestation, it was not open for debate. It should have stayed out of bounds, but we have crossed the Rubicon – if homosexuality is OK, why NOT debate child molestation? Where (and how) do we draw the line if we are no longer guided by biblical teaching and millennia of Western tradition?

But, once you get around to issues that the Left favors, then it’s suddenly time to draw up the drawbridges and close the debate. Last year, the Left wanted to have a CONVERSATION about race (meaning that they got to lecture you and you were supposed to shut up and listen). But they realized that was a losing proposition (no one way paying them for their emotional labor of denouncing you). So the best bet was to close the debate entirely and declare the subject out of bounds.

* The main rhetorical styles:

Hedge : “(this is unrelated to the question of whether the group differences are partly innate)”

Safeword: “this argument doesn’t assume that the difference is innate in any way”

Default: argue assuming, but not stating, that ability is equally distributed

Password: stating in print that “ability is equally distributed in all groups”

Hedge is a declaration of weakness equivalent to “kick me with impunity, I’m yours.”

Safeword gives deniability to prevent bullying and career destruction.

Default means living another day

Password is a demonstration of fealty and unlocks access to resources and promotion.

* IQ is the third rail of social discourse just because it correlates with everything: directly with civic engagement, wealth, health, and social capital; inversely with crime, reproduction rate, and welfare dependence. IQ data provides highly persuasive evidence for tight immigration controls and eugenics. Only Christian ethics condemns eugenics and demands that we not discriminate according to IQ, which makes it hilariously hypocritical that liberals and immigrants push for effectively Christian social policies while at the same time condemning Christianity as white imperialism.

* I normally like McArdle but this is moronic – what’s she really saying, along with everyone else who says this is an area that is off-limits for discussion – is not that the odds are that it’s wrong are too high, it’s that the odds that it is correct is too high.

The entire leftist political platform and its policy prescriptions (along with most of the right as well) are that build on the idea that people are all basically the same, that your ancestry or sex is entirely irrelevant in determining where you end up, your capabilities, interests, etc. Therefore, anything other than near-perfect representation of every segment of society in every endeavor is evidence of oppression and malign forces.

Destroy that belief, and then the social engineers of the right and left have to admit that their prescriptions are useless and all the lack of success to date isn’t a product of lack of funding, not trying hard enough, etc. Obviously it would be better for everyone if we recognized that some people are smarter than others, some have different interests and so on, an this accounts for the massive academic achievement gaps, difference in who goes into what type of employment, and then we could stop fighting about it and accusing others of evil intent. But that’s not what works politically, so we’ll just keep pretending that we’re all just biological widgets that should all perform just how our betters think we should.

* Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but civic nationalist is just a stop-gap as well. I’ve already gone down your path, started as a libertarian and moved to an iSteve civic nationalist. I was happy there, certainly didn’t want to change, but the reality of the situation in the U.S. just keeps hitting you in the face. You can ignore it for awhile. (Actually, you’re a lot smarter that I am, so you’ll be able to ignore longer than I did.) But sooner or later, you start to notice that civic nationalism in a multi-everything society made of tribal groups simply doesn’t work.

The low IQ blacks and Hispanics combined with the high IQ but tribal Jews, South Asians and, to a degree, NE Asians will destroy civic nationalism. These groups have either no real understanding or no real love of the values and ideas of a bunch of dead white men. To them, the United States isn’t a ideal but an open-air market where they get the best deal for themselves and their kind.

* The interesting thing is that while we wring our hands and worry that perhaps we ‘just shouldn’t research this at all’, the Chinese are studying the hell out of this. It’s obviously important research and it’s obviously true.

And that’s the thing: while we’re writing mass-signed letters condemning blatantly obvious facts, people on the other side of the world–who are not our friends–are using these obvious facts as a foundation for far greater insights.

Time and tide wait for no man. This is what’s happening, we have to deal with it.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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