I just had a conversation with the devil.
Well, from what people have been posting, he seemed like the devil. But I know how the internet can be. Mitt Romney at one time was the devil. Now, I think he’s been degraded in those quarters to janitor of the hot place. Yeah, that one Romney who is out raising tons of money to help fix blindness among the poorest of the poor, that evil son-of-a-gun.
So when I saw there was a new head honcho in town, I decided to see what he was all about.
I did try reading various posts on the internet, but after a dozen or so of those, I realized it would just be easier to go to the source. And so I went to Vox Day’s website and clicked the contact link, which popped up an email.
I asked Day if he’d mind answering a few questions.
What you will read below is our conversation, arranged for easy reading.
Why am I doing this?
Well, who doesn’t want to scoop the devil? But beyond that, I agree with George R. R. Martin: internet conversations that are not moderated to maintain a tone of respectful disagreement are a bane upon us all. Actually, Martin said they were part of the devil’s alimentary canal, but I didn’t want to confuse the topic.
So I’d read a number of posts that Day had made and others folks had made about Day and saw all the bad juju going back and forth. And I wanted to know what this guy actually believed. Once I understood that, if I disagreed, then I could disagree in a way that I think is actually productive.
We talked about some of his views on two subjects—race and women. Are his ideas provocative? Well, you need to know what they are before you decide.
I’m following the conversation about the Hugos. Many of the conversations claim you are a racist and misogynist. Knowing how labels and slurs can magically become fact, I wanted to go to the source and understand what it is you truly believe. I’ve done some reading on your site. I’ve seen attack pieces such as this http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale#cite_note-real-ass-13.
But it’s all so scattershot and snippets out of context. I’m wondering if you might answer some questions. If so, my first questions are about your views on race.
- Do you believe Black Africans have, in general, less genetic potential for intelligence than White Europeans?
- Do you believe the same for the darker Asians like those from India or Indonesia?
- Which genetic group has the highest genetic potential for intelligence at this time?
- You mention three genetic groups here http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/01/more-highly-evolved.html. Are you talking about Europe/Asia, Africa, the Americas?
My response to those who claim I am racist or misogynist is simple: why do you reject science, history, and logic? It is not hateful to be scientifically literate, historically aware, and logically correct.
- Pure Homo sapiens sapiens lack Homo neanderthalus and Homo denisova genes which appear to have modestly increased the base genetic potential for intelligence. These genetic differences may explain the observed IQ gap between various human population groups as well as various differences in average brain weights and skull sizes.
- Yes, East Asians have been observed to have considerably higher IQs than Southeast Asians.
- The Chinese. Their average IQ is higher than the Ashkenazi Jews, who are genetically a refined group of Semitic-Italian crosses. To be more specific, the highest average IQ is found in Singapore.
- No, the genetic groups are the Homo sapiens sapiens/Homo neanderthalus crosses, the Homo sapiens sapiens/Homo neanderthalus/Homo denisova crosses, and the pure Homo sapiens sapiens. These broadly align with Europe, Asia, and Africa, but not exactly.
You may find this to be a useful reference on the intelligence front: https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/intelligence-a-unifying-construct-for-the-social-sciences-richard-lynn-and-tatu-vanhanen.pdf
Let me see if I’ve captured your overall approach. You feel it’s important to examine and conduct science without regard to political correctness. For example, if Vanhanen and Lynn say IQ is genetic, you feel the most appropriate thing to do is not attack them for being racists, but simply examine their data and conclusions dispassionately. It’s important to question it. Argue with it. Try to falsify, as we do with any other scientific claim. But not dismiss it simply on the basis that it doesn’t agree with our what we feel is morally right. Correct?
Yes. Science and history and logic exist regardless of whether we are happy about them or not. We have to take them into account.
It appears the Lynn & Vanhanen book suggests the genetic IQ differences were caused, not by Homo crosses, but by natural selection operating in colder climates over long periods of time. Can you provide another reference that discusses the DNA tracing and IQ correlation of the various crosses?
There are many articles on the Internet about DNA and IQ, I suggest you simply search them out and read a few. The data is conclusive, the rationale explaining the data is not.
I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you said the rationale explaining the data is not conclusive. What do you mean by that?
Regarding rationale, the data is beyond dispute. But we cannot explain why the data is the way that it is, we can only construct various explanatory hypotheses. Historical explanations are, for the most part, scientific fairy tales, literal science fiction.
I read your comment to Jemisin about African exposure to Greco-Roman culture. It seems you’re suggesting societies can’t make large change their culture (values and beliefs) over a few generations, or within one generation. Is that what you’re claiming? It doesn’t seem like you’re making a genetic-intelligence argument since 1,000-2,000 years seems too short for any type of significant evolution. Of course, if it’s a cultural argument, then I don’t see how it’s possible to say it’s impossible for a bunch of Jemisons to accomplish this since she was raised with the Western culture. Confused on your base point here.
Yes, I am claiming that societies are incapable of moving from full primitivism to full civilization within the time frame that primitive African societies have been in contact with what we consider to be civilization. It is a genetic argument. It takes that long to kill off or otherwise suppress the breeding of the excessively violent and short-time preferenced. African-American men are 500 times more likely to possess a gene variant that is linked to violence and aggression than white American men.
Two more questions. It doesn’t sound like you’re against immigration per se. You just think that if a society wants to continue, they need to breed. Right?
I am against large-scale immigration, particularly population-replacement immigration. Limited immigration, no problem.
I suspect someone is going to wonder if your ideas on race and IQ and violence mean you favor some type of eugenics program. So let me ask you: do you believe in selective breeding or sterilization? If so, would that be to promote the Homo crosses you think are better? Or just any trait from any group you think is superior?
No, I am not a eugenicist. I oppose forced selective breeding and sterilization. However, I also oppose dysgenic and dyscivic social policies, which is presently what we have across most of the West.
As much as I want to ask more about what you consider dysgenic and dyscivic policies, I think it would just lead to another topic, which would lead to another. Let’s talk about your views on women. Here are my initial questions.
- Do you believe a country is better off when women cannot vote?
- Do you believe a country is better off when women are not afforded equal education opportunities as men?
- What are the top topics of education do you think would be beneficial for women?
- I’ve read this post http://voxday.blogspot.ca/2012/06/scientist-beats-up-pz.html. It sounds like you think the main objective of a country or culture with regards to women should be to reduce female promiscuity (not necessarily male promiscuity) and increase the number of children each female bears. Is that correct?
- Referring to that same post, are you saying that genital mutilation and acid burnings are legitimate ways to treat women? Or are you saying that they are bad things, but that the societies that do such things have lower female promiscuity rates and higher fertility rates, and so it’s a small price to pay?
- Yes, in a representative democracy. However, note that I favor universal direct democracy and the jury is out there.
- It depends. It increasingly appears that a society is improved by widespread female education through high school, and harmed by it beyond that level. If you look at the demographics, a society that sends its women to college stops breeding. How this is supposed to benefit a society, I do not understand.
- Again, it depends. If a society is demographically dying, then yes, it had better do something to get its birth rate up or it will cease to exist. This isn’t rocket science. If a society is stable or growing demographically, it has no need to concern itself with such policies.
- You appear to have misread the post. PZ Myers claimed that there was no rational case to be made for the Taliban’s activities. I responded by demonstrating that the Taliban’s behavior is entirely rational, it is merely the consequence of different objectives and ruthlessness in pursuing them. But the mere fact that I am capable of observing a logical syllogism does not mean I share the assumptions involved or advocate the conclusion. Considering that the Taliban defeated the Soviets and appear to have outlasted NATO, I think it is remarkably stupid to dismiss them as irrational simply because they are willing to defend their way of life.
Even though it appears I misread the exchange with PZ Myers, your answers to 2 and 3 suggest you prioritize fertility rates as the main goal a society should have towards women. As long as the population is stable or growing, you feel a society can examine other goals or objectives. But only if those goals or policies do not negatively impact the population rate. Correct?
Yes. The NATIVE population rate. Immigration is used to cover up demographic decline, but it changes the nation.
Okay, what’s the reason you feel women shouldn’t vote in a representative democracy? And do you think only certain types of males should vote?
The reason women shouldn’t vote in a representative democracy is they are significantly inclined to vote for whomever they would rather f***. Hence the studies about height and hair being relevant to US presidential politics. That’s why women’s suffrage was pushed by the Communists and why it is the first plank of the Fascist Manifesto.
In a representative system, yes, only certain types of males should vote. And before you leap to any silly conclusions, please keep in mind that I have lived most of my life in political systems where I am not allowed to vote. Voting does not equal maximizing freedom and liberty.
First, what types of males do you think should vote in a representative government and what’s the main reason why?
Second, do you believe large numbers of males will vote based on sexual attractiveness as well when females are running for office?
Men who demonstrate sufficient long-term orientation and a willingness to put the national interest above self-interest.
No, men aren’t wired the same way.
How would you identify the types of men you mention? Military or law enforcement service? How would you determine who had a long-term view of things?
I have never given any thought to how such men would be identified. Every method is bound to fail in time.
Personally, I’d like to see direct democracy tried. We now have the technology, and it would be MUCH harder to corrupt than representative democracy. At least we don’t know exactly HOW it would fail.
This has been really helpful to me. I think it would be helpful to others wanting to understand you. Agreeing, of course, is a different matter. But that’s a different subject. Would you be okay with me posting this conversation on my site?
Sure, do as you see fit. The usual suspects will have their own hissy fits, but that’s of no concern to me. I find it amusing when people tell me they disagree with some of these things. Do they not understand that it is not me with whom they are disagreeing, but reality? Why people can understand that if pandas don’t breed, they will go extinct, but fail to grasp the same thing is true of nations is beyond me.
You will notice I wasn’t trying to challenge his ideas. Does that mean I agree with them lock, stock, and barrel?
No. I’m very skeptical about a lot of them.
But as I stated above, before I agree or disagree with someone, I need to understand them. And the best way to understand someone is to ask questions, listen, and verify I’ve understood accurately. The worst way to understand is to start with an attack.
In this stage, the goal is not to trick someone. It’s not to convince them that they’ve contradicted themselves. It’s not to prove any point.
It’s to hear them out. And if there are things that don’t make sense, to ask questions of clarification.
But what do I think about his ideas?
Well, let’s look at them.
I have to agree with his idea that we should try to look at science dispassionately. I think it’s dumb to reject someone’s science simply because the results offend our sensibilities.
We reject science because there are issues with the data, or the experiments, or conclusions. We reject it because it doesn’t fit with the observations. Or because we can’t replicate the results, or because it fails to predict as it claimed it could. But we only hurt ourselves when we reject it because it doesn’t fit our current political beliefs.
Okay, fine. But what about his views on race and women?
The Rhetoric of Offense
Well, they’re bound to rile feathers. And Day sometimes seems to go out of his way to state them in a way he knows is offensive. I didn’t feel he did that with me. But if you read the links above, you can see he does employ it with others.
Here’s my take on this. The rhetoric of offense is different than the rhetoric of explication. The latter is meant to explain. The former’s goal is to cause injury. It has no interest in sharing ideas. It only has interest in injuring someone, either to try to gain relief from an attack or to beat someone into submission, or because seeing folks get all riled up provides amusement.
A good portion of Day’s posts that I’ve read, admitting it’s nowhere near exhaustive, seem to contain a lot of the rhetoric of offense. And I think this dramatically undermines his ability to get others to consider his ideas, let alone believe them.
Sure, the attacks might bring like-minded folks to his side. But, for the most part, it does not provide the ground in which insight grows. Offense closes both parties off to challenges, biases, and ideas. It closes them off to new information. And new information is such an integral part of learning.
Some people say that tone shouldn’t matter. For example, you may lace the fact that the earth revolves around the sun with expletives, or say it to me sweetly, but the fact remains that the earth revolves around the sun. So asking for a more respectful tone is an ad hominine attack, a logical fallacy. It has nothing to do with the argument.
But here’s where I believe the anti-tone folks go wrong. Offense changes the message. When you call me a jackass, you’ve selected to promote one message over another. It doesn’t matter if you’ve couched your attack in a well-reasoned point because you have decided to no longer communicate your point. You’ve decided to communicate the offense instead.
Can’t we do both?
Not really. It’s like playing a country western tune of reason softly in the background while shoving a 110 decibel speaker blasting an annoying alarm in my face.
It’s like taking the statement “the cow jumped over the moon” and saying “the the the the the the the the the the the the the the” followed by a barely audible statement of the rest. All the receiver hears is “the”. And that’s what they respond to.
This means there’s no fallacy at play because there is no argument being communicated. Instead, you’ve communicated an attack. And invited a response to precisely the same.
If the speaker wants someone to consider his ideas, then he needs to speak in a way that invites consideration. I know, you can do that, and the receiver may still go into what sometimes feels like “a hissy fit.” We see this all the time, don’t we? Communication is indeed a two-way street. However, if the guy who was trying to explain decides to switch and respond with an attack, that’s his choice. But don’t call it explication or reason or conversation.
Day was perfectly polite to me. And I know it’s incredibly difficult sometimes to not attack when being attacked. I know his ideas, even when stated reasonably, will rile some folks. But it’s also true that he sometimes loads his communications with things he knows will offend. Things meant to injure and ridicule. Things which show little regard for others. I find it counterproductive. I think it’s wrong. But I also condemn the same tactic from the other side. And, yes, there is probably a time to use the rhetoric of offense, but that’s for another post.
Okay, but what about his beliefs, John?
Votes for Women
Do you agree it would be better for our nation if women didn’t vote?
I’m not convinced men aren’t affected by charisma. What? When males get in a group, all are equally popular? Or popular only because of their ideas, not their looks, money, power, physical prowess, etc? Nor am I convinced that women can’t be long-term thinkers. I haven’t seen any science that supports that idea. And my personal experience has been just the opposite. The women I know think a lot about the future. Furthermore, when I include women in councils, we usually come up with much better ideas.
Now Day might suggest there’s science to look at. That’s his prerogative. I’m incredibly skeptical. But I think the most productive thing to do in reaction to his claim is to gauge whether you think it merits serious consideration. If it does, or if you’re curious, examine the evidence and report your results. If it doesn’t, just say you haven’t seen anything to suggest its worth looking into further.
Education for Women
What about his idea that the most important thing for a society is to maintain the population, which means the most important thing for a woman is to have babies, and that education undermines this and therefore should be avoided?
In one way, he’s right. If you want to maintain a certain population, you do indeed have to breed.
But if that’s your goal, I don’t see education in general as the determining factor. Mormon women have, as a group, much more education than the average female in the United States AND they have more babies. Lots more. I don’t think it’s education per se. I think it’s the values and beliefs some education fosters.
Some data on Mormon education and family sizes: http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/publications/education-scholarship-and-mormonism and http://www.pewforum.org/2009/07/24/a-portrait-of-mormons-in-the-us/#4
Race and Intelligence
What about his ideas on race and IQ?
There are some groups that are taller on average than others, some that are shorter. On the face of it, I don’t see why some groups might not have a genetic disposition to more of one kind of intelligence and other groups less. I haven’t looked into this much. I don’t know anything about Homo sapiens sapiens, Homo neanderthalus, Homo denisova, and the various crosses.
However, I do question if IQ isn’t more about nutrition and early learning. I wonder if IQ tests really measure intelligence or just one type of problem solving. And I’m skeptical that it’s really that big of a difference. Maybe it is. I admit my ignorance and curiosity on this topic openly.
Race and National Success
What about his claim that Homo sapiens sapiens, which he claims are what we find in Sub-Saharan Africa ancestry, have more genes for violence than we do up north and so can’t at the present time build as successful a society?
This one makes no sense to me. I don’t see a difference in violence levels. Like the Romans weren’t violent? Or the Germanic tribes? Hitler and all those that followed him didn’t do violence? Napoleon and his armies? I don’t see how we selected against violence and short-term thinking. I’m incredibly skeptical of these claims.
Now, it could be he needed more space to lay them out. After all, I wasn’t asking for evidence or a full treatise. Only what he believed. But as it stands right now, I’m betting the types of violence he’s looking at are driven more by culture than anything else. And I don’t believe people are genetically predisposed against democracy.
Frankly, the ideas laid out in Guns, Germs, and Steel seem more predictive to me about what makes peoples successful than Homo crosses. But of course I’m always open to new information. However, even if this claim is true, it’s a fallacy to peg each member of a group to the average. People lie along a bell curve for all sorts of things, and it might be that any one person or community or even nation might actually have less of this than another from a different group.
Vox Day wasn’t the devil, dang it.
He is someone who espouses a couple of ideas that I agree with and a number that seem flat out wrong to me. He appears to be someone who enjoys the rhetoric of offense. I may investigate some of his claims. I may not. I am new to the topic of genetics, and am curious. Whatever I do, I found it useful to try to see for myself what the man believes. One thing that he and I agree on is how we should react to claims made with the purpose, not to offend and injure, but to expand our knowledge.
Now, I have no idea what types of comments this post will bring. Please note that I did not ask Day for his sources, or to lay out all the evidence he feels backs up these beliefs. That’s much too big for this post. You can certainly share your ideas and the science you find compelling. But this is my site, and by golly I request that if you post and want to express disagreement, that you disagree respectfully. Name calling, high-octane expletives, etc. will not fly here. Any post that fails to avoid this will be deleted. You can certainly try again, but if any prove unwilling to abide by this rule, I’ll simply block you to save myself some time.
I am much more interested in a discussion here than attack and offense.