Race exists as a biological reality; there are race differences in socially important traits like IQ; people’s brains are wired to prefer people like themselves; they are more likely to contribute to public goods like health care and education if the beneficiaries are of the same ethnic group; people trust others more if they live in homogeneous societies.To leftists:
Race doesn’t exist; the idea that it does exist is a fantasy of moral reprobates. To the extent that differences in traits like IQ are interesting at all, they are the result of capitalism, discrimination, or general evil. If it weren’t for white people behaving badly, we could easily build a strong, racially diverse multicultural society where all people can live happily ever after.In 2004, the GSS queried respondents on whether they believed experience determines personality or that genes play a major role in determining it.
As is often the case, the GSS question isn't optimal. How the "experience" answer is interpreted is important--the respondent is to presume it indicates experience as being the major determinant in personality, since the contrasting choice explicitly states as much, but in rushing through he might see experience, think it plays into personality to some degree, and thus choose it. That the question was only posed for a single year is also restrictive, although 2,300 people answered it.
Depressingly, only one-quarter (25.3%) of respondents said genes played a major part in determining personality. Meta-analyses of the big five show the personality traits to be 50% heritable in aggregate. Technically, that puts heritability right on the cusp of being a major determinant. But since it is unlikely that any other single cause constitues the remaining 50% of determination, in a vernacular sense it does constitute a major part. In any case, granting 50% heritability, at worst an even split among respondents should be expected.
The data suggest conservatives are 13% more likely than liberals are to see genes playing a major role in determining personality. But, contrary to Mac Donald's dichotomy, more than 70% of self-identified conservatives do not see genes being of much importance. When it comes to speaking (actions often suggest otherwise) publicly--that is, to strangers--the overwhelming majority of Americans give the blank slatist account of human diversity.
More depressingly, the more intelligent a person is, the less likely he is to attribute personality differences to nature. Setting the white Wordsum mean score to an IQ equivalent of 100 and assuming a normal distribution with a 15 point standard deviation, average IQ for those who believe (N=1225):
Experience primarily determines personality -- 99.1
Genes primarily determine personality -- 97.4
That is the trend among individual racial groups as well--the smarter, the less likely genes are offered as an explanation for personality. Cynically, this may just indicate that more intelligent people are better attuned to the dictates of political correctness. Being relatively more tactful, they are less likely to offer an answer they understandably believe might be viewed with hostility by the one receiving it.
The intelligence effect appears to hold within groups, and more-or-less between them as well. The percentage from each racial group that gives genes a major role in personality formation:
The sample size for Native Americans is too small to put much stake in. The differences by racial group are pretty marginal. Those of European descent are the most ecumenically-minded. It is not surprising that their tendency towards blank slatism (at least in public) complements their universality.
Interestingly, women are 34% more likely to say genes are a major determinant in personality than men are. Maybe it's because women pay more attention to their children than men do! Linda Gottfredson and Heather Mac Donald excepted, among psychologists and social scientists, however, my sense is that men are more likely than women are to hold a position of prominence for genes. But I could easily be wrong about that.
Also interesting is the realization that the entire IQ gap between the experience crowd and the gene crowd stems from differences among men. Intelligence has no relationship with the conception of how personality is formed among women. Average IQ among men who say (N=547):
Experience primarily determines personality -- 99.7
Genes primarily determine personality -- 96.1
Why? A false reading based on too flimsy a question, most of those conducting GSS interviews are women and consequently men actively try not to come off as offensive, or something else?
Tangentially, this kinda sorta constitutes a desirable (although it's not universally accepted as being as much) attribute that correlates inversely with intelligence. That is, lower IQ increases the chances someone says something politically incorrect but true. To quote Socrates, when it comes to crimethink:
"I found those held in the highest esteem were practically the most defective, whereas men who were supposed to be their inferiors were much better off in respect of understanding."Professor Bruce G. Charlton alerted me to a paper tracking over 7,000 Brits, comparing IQ at the age of 10 and social attitudes at the the age of thirty. It finds more progressive attitudes are associated with higher intelligence.
I suspect it is not that intelligent people are more oblivious to the realities of human biodiversity than unintelligent people are, but that they are more adept at playing the politically correct game. For instance, one of the attitudes is defined as "antiracism", arrived at by the following statement which correlated with IQ at .79: "I wouldn't mind if a family of a different race moved next door." Well, it's a safe bet that higher intelligence among whites is inversely associated with the chance of living next to NAMs. So even if these smart folks are theoretically welcoming of non-whites, they tend to live in neighborhoods few NAMs are able to afford. But actions aside, they know what the right answer to give is.
Ruminating on this is sobering. We in the Steveosphere are swimming upstream. The stronger the excoriations for violating politically incorrect taboos is, the less likely intelligent people are, out of a concern for self-preservation, to entertain thoughts about the taboos. More optimistically, the rapid improvements in DNA sequencing are rendering blank slatism more and more empirically absurd.
Finally, for those who've tinkered with the GSS, are there other attributes that proxy for courage, daring, boldness, or the like?
GSS variables used: GENEEXPS, SEX, RACECEN1