I ran across an observation I made over a decade ago about believing in genetic versus environmental problems that is always in the background for me when discussing the issues, but I have not expressly mentioned for a long time.
People prefer environmental explanations because it feels like we could therefore do something to fix a problem. We could come up with some technology, perhaps. We could pass some legislation to buy some things or make people stop doing some things. We could focus on education and self-improvement to make the problem go away, or at least get better. This is why conservatives can jump on the environmentally-based solutions as well. If we just taught kids more responsibility, got them into scouting, emphasised reading and math, had higher expectations, stopped them from saying "like," made them put their devices away...It's just a different list than what liberals have, but it's the same principle. And some of those traits like determination or cooperativeness or attention to detail or emotional control might also be largely heritable, just as an aside. There may not be the escape hatches there that folks were counting on.
But believing in genetics feels like just giving up, not doing anything about the problem. It feels like accepting the status quo and never giving women the vote or outlawing slavery or even trying to improve things. That's not strictly true, of course. There are things that are environmental, such as what language is spoken or what the expectations are for men versus women that are nonetheless very difficult to change quickly, and counsels to not bash your head against the wall too much are often offered. Really expensive solutions like ging to war just might not be worth it. And, there are things that are genetic that can be worked around rather than just shrugging and saying "Danny's always going to be stupid." But there is some truth in that division of whether we can change a thing or not. Many times, if something is genetic you will only have workarounds, never solutions, and the sooner you understand that the less energy you are going to waste.
But there is a darker reason, and I wonder how much it feeds in to the desire to have one sort of solution rather than another. If something is environmental, then there is someone to blame. They may be long dead or quite remote, but we can usually find a whipping boy to stand in for them if we must have a villain. If our blameable persons are nearby, so much the better. If things are genetic then who do we blame, God? I think that's a healthy start, actually, though not a good stopping point. But it pretty obviously gets ridiculous blaming your parents, who could only pass on what they received themselves. We could start blaming natural selection as a process, or even Nature itself, but that seems unsatisfying. We can scoot over to the environmental side and blame people or societies for not accommodating genetic differences, I suppose. We have some of that, and it's not unfair.
But if something about a societal problem is genetic, then what are we supposed to do about that, dammit? Are we supposed to just let things be unequal?
It's why we pretend that "we just don't know, it's not proven" when we do know and it is proven. It's so we can feel useful, feel like we're doing something, can demonstrate that we are doing something, have someone to blame, and can bind our anxieties about life's tragedies.