Ezra Klein

dishonest editor-in-chief.

I’ve long since become entirely inured to being called a racist. It says much more about the attacker than me.

[Saturday-afternoon update]

[Update Monday morning]

The Left’s denial of racial and sexual disparities isn’t ending racism and sexism; it’s fueling it. #PartyOfScience


22 thoughts on “Ezra Klein”

  1. In the aftermath of our conversation, many people have sought to paint me as a racist—but few have tried quite so hard as Ezra Klein, Editor-at-Large of Vox.

    After a statement like that I was expecting some very nasty accusations of racism against Harris from Klein.
    I didn’t find any. The articles that Harris is getting all steamed up about weren’t even written by Klein – the authors are psychologists Eric Turkheimer is the Hugh Scott Hamilton professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. Twitter: @ent3c. Kathryn Paige Harden (@kph3k) is associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Texas Austin. Richard E. Nisbett is the Theodore M. Newcomb distinguished university professor at the University of Michigan. and the argument is over the certainty of genetic contribution to racial IQ differences, and there are grounds to doubt the degree of certainty that Murry has about the extent of the role that genetics plays.

    Sometimes I don’t get Harris’s logic, he often draws conclusions that I don’t think are supported by the evidence he presents, and I know of others that have the same problem trying to follow his reasoning.

  2. After a statement like that I was expecting some very nasty accusations of racism against Harris from Klein.

    There’s a difference between “publish” and “write”. But yes, I don’t see the nasty accusations either. I can see how he could be upset by the criticism, but it seems pretty well aimed to me.

    In particular, the Flynn effect is a killer for the whole argument since the whole US population’s intelligence collectively supposedly increased in the past 80 or so years by twice as much as the alleged difference between White and Black population intelligence (which shrunk over the same period). That has to be almost purely environmental. So there is supposed to be a genetic difference between White and Black? Well, if it exists, it’s swamped by an obvious environmental change via the Flynn effect, which I think in itself kills the whole argument. At this point, there’s no case to be made for IQ differences between ethnic populations when there are known environmental differences that can in themselves explain fully the difference. Keep in mind that the real argument here is that the genetic difference in IQ between White and Black is significant enough that one should do something about it.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It also doesn’t help that a significant fraction of Blacks in the US are also White genetically (there has been significant mixing over the past few centuries).

    1. I’m aware of the difference between “write” and “publish”, I mention that Klein wasn’t the author only because I didn’t think the piece that Rand linked to was clear on that point.

      The Flynn effect is something that I’ve been considering as relevant to the race IQ debate for a few years. It was something mentioned in ‘The Bell Curve’ as a factor.

      In The Bell Curve Herrnstein and Murray wrote: “If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanation has won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are resolutely agnostic on that issue; as far as we can determine, the evidence does not yet justify an estimate.”wiki.
      So perhaps Murray has moved away from that ‘agnostic’ position, I’m going to have to find time to listen to that 2 hour podcast again.

      Other environmental factors that might contribute to racial differences in IQ are acculturation and Cooley´s concept of the looking glass self, which theorizes that a person’s self grows out of a person´s social interactions with others. The view of ourselves comes from the contemplation of personal qualities and impressions of how others perceive us – how we see ourselves does not come from who we really are, but rather from how we believe others see us.
      Basically, if Black people think that other people (including other Black people – even family) think that they will be less successful because of their race, this perception, whether well founded or not, will damage self belief. This I think could possibly cause a ‘butterfly effect’ on otherwise small environmental contributors to things like scholastic commitment which in turn would cause even larger racial IQ test differences.

  3. Harris really nails it here:

    Reflect for a moment, in this context, on how little you or anyone else cares about the data showing that Asians have a higher mean IQ than whites. How do you feel about this? Are you inclined to defame anyone who reports those data? Does this disparity need to be “managed”?

    Only one of these registers as hate speech, the other one is just noise.

    For the record I’m not a big fan of Murray. James Taranto, in one of his last best-of-the-webs, described him as the most virulent Never-Trumper he’d ever encountered. And the Middlebury dust-up; little known fact: Charles Murray co-writes The Bell Curve, gets rich, then drops a quarter-mil on his daughter’s undergrad education. At Middlebury. So he has personally financed part of the industrialized insanity going on at that cesspit.

  4. The notion that genetics has nothing to do with cognitive abilities is the left’s version of creationism. After all, if genes do not affect these abilities, how could they have evolved?

    And if genes DO affect them, how is it that there cannot be differences between races (as conventionally defined)? After all, there are plenty of other genetic differences that appear in other traits between these groups. What’s so special about the genes affecting cognitive abilities?

    1. The notion that genetics has nothing to do with cognitive abilities is the left’s version of creationism. After all, if genes do not affect these abilities, how could they have evolved?

      The protagonists aren’t arguing about that.

      And if genes DO affect them, how is it that there cannot be differences between races (as conventionally defined)?

      People have been playing tennis for a long time, most top tennis players are white, is this evidence that white people are genetically superior to other races at tennis?
      There are many genes that affect IQ, just as there are many traits that combine to make a great tennis player, two tennis players can have enormous differences in different aspects of their game but, add all those traits together and the two players can be very similar in overall ability.

      1. They are arguing about that. The Left believes that it’s all nurture, not nature. They have to believe that in order to believe in their ability to create the New Soviet Man.

          1. As I see it this discussion is mostly about statistical noise, is there any reliable measure of genetic difference in racial IQ or has reliable measurement been drowned out by non-genetic factors in the measurements, so in a way it’s a lot like the climate debate with left and right on opposite sides in terms of what can be counted on. While there’s a lot we don’t know about climate systems there’s also a lot we don’t know about environmental effects on cognitive development. I’ve seen next to no research on how Cooley´s concept of the looking glass self, might affect racial groups, and then there’s other aspects of culture and of course the Flynn effect, so the skeptics argue that reliable conclusions aren’t possible given our level of ignorance on how the mind works, the other side argues we know enough to say with confidence that there’s a significant difference in average racial IQ’s.

            The big difference between the climate and IQ debates is that we need to know about the extent of possible effects of anthropogenic climate change, but, because individuals are more important than race, there’s less urgency to reach conclusions on the genetic racial IQ debate (excepting those that think that political action is needed to deal with such genetic differences).

  5. The reason that the Left has to deny IQ science is because they hate individualism, and collectivism demands that people be treated as members of groups.

    To me that logic is backwards, it’s those arguing that racial IQ differences are important that are collectivizing people into groups. The Nazi’s were obviously keen on collectivizing races on intelligence.

        1. For the Left, Race is everything when that’s convenient for them, and nothing when that is convenient for them.

          It’s all so much more consistent if we just assess the individual based on common standards.

    1. Andrew Sullivan is being dishonest in the piece you link to, he makes it clear that Klein would not deny that genetics could contribute to racial differences in IQ, but then goes on to claim that Klein denies the possibility of racial differences in genetics being a possible contributor to differences in IQ.
      Sullivan also claims that:
      When he ran an article slamming Charles Murray and Sam Harris for having a completely reasonable podcast conversation about this, the piece didn’t just try to counter their arguments, it claimed that Murray and Harris were peddling in “pseudoscientific racialist speculation.”
      In fact the article did not claim that Murray and Harris were peddling in “pseudoscientific racialist speculation.”
      The whole paragraph:
      The left has another lesson to learn as well. If people with progressive political values, who reject claims of genetic determinism and pseudoscientific racialist speculation, abdicate their responsibility to engage with the science of human abilities and the genetics of human behavior, the field will come to be dominated by those who do not share those values. Liberals need not deny that intelligence is a real thing or that IQ tests measure something real about intelligence, that individuals and groups differ in measured IQ, or that individual differences are heritable in complex ways.
      Sullivan goes on:
      Klein still misrepresents his opponents, by insisting that Murray and Reich and Harris are arguing in favor of “the idea that America’s racial inequalities are driven by genetic differences between the races and not by anything we did, or have to undo.” This is demonstrably untrue.
      What’s untrue is that Klein is even suggesting that Murray and Reich and Harris are arguing that “the idea that America’s racial inequalities are driven by genetic differences between the races and not by anything we did, or have to undo.” That quote was in response to a passage he quotes from William F. Buckley, and Klein in that part of the article is talking in generalities, not about Murray and Reich and Harris (in one of the articles Klein makes it clear he has no problem with Reich’s position).

    2. The discussion, prior to Sullivan sticking his nose in, had at least stayed out of the gutter, from your quote it looks like the gutter is Sullivan’s natural habitat.

  6. Nature v.s. Nurture?

    If one groups nature is all ice cream and candy canes generation after generation century after century *in relative terms* and the other group’s nature is a living hell on earth that will not matter, in the long run?

    If one group’s nurture is the best healthcare the best education, best home life et cetera and the other group’s nurture is a living hell on earth … that will not matter in the long run?

      1. I would have thought it was obvious . are we the sum total of our genetic makeup – period – full stop or does environment and other factors shape it also the final disposition ..

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