Friday, March 29, 2013

China And Social Darwinism

Ron Unz's article in The American Conservative How Social Darwinism Made Modern China has been linked by a few sites I follow.  Fascinating reading, and I think you will see why people want to share it.  It's one of those big-picture ideas that can frame how one thinks about other issues.

Relatedly, Steven Hsu's explanation of the Genetic Architecture of Intelligence.  Long.  Skip to 5:30.  The audio isn't great, so pick a time and place without background distractions. This is a great summary. 

The fiction in the movie GATTACA becoming fact in not too many years.

Here are the slides that go with the talk.

Update: BGI is also doing 10K genomes of autistic people.


james said...

Breeding for particular traits, deliberately or inadvertently, sometimes has unexpected side effects. I'd think that a complex phenomenon like intelligence would be linked to many other things, and not have bright line tradeoffs.

But, at the simplest level, energy devoted to brainpower isn't used for other things, so we could expect generalized tradeoffs such as slower maturity, less disease resistance, maybe more cancers; that sort of thing.

As a kind of primitive example, Aspergers seems to correlate with high intelligence in your heredity. If this proves true, then we can expect such a "breeding program" as China's to trail off at some level when the increase in number of children from having money hits the higher percentage of kids who don't find spouses.

It gets pretty complicated, since China gets hit with famines and the traits that help you survive those can be different from IQ. And long periods of civil disturbance would select for people who hung together tightly against outsiders (hdb-chick and cousin marriage?).

Incidentally, I don't qualify for their high-math ability testing program. I did OK, but not that well. (I looked through some old Putnam exams the other night. Good for practice in humility.)

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I believe that I shouldn't actually have qualified (on the general, not the 4D math one), but I did on paper and am hoping for a free genome sequencing.

I was intrigued with the emerging concept that you can't teach or increase g-factor very well, but it is .3 - .4 of life outcomes anyway - and you can teach many of the other qualities such as conscientiousness and perseverance. This was exactly what they were doing when I was goofing off in school. They were right and I was wrong. My son also pointed out this morning, as I was bemoaning all the effort I put in reading LOTR out loud three times, for example, that it may not have increased intelligence one whit, but it created a culture.

It would be interesting if our educational systems were reconfigured around the idea that the only thing they can accomplish are culture and the non-cognitives.

I have also encountered the theory of autism being more common in math, science, and engineering families, and represents a hyper-male response to the world and its objects. That would make it something like Tay-Sachs or the other brain diseases more common in Ashkenazi Jews, where there is some advantage to having a little, but a lot is destructive.