Left-Wing Civil War: Battle over Role of Genetics

…between somewhat-sane “progressive” thought and the patently irrational, unscientific, batshit-crazy “woke” social-justice lunatics!

Please read this full long-form piece, “Can Progressives Be Convinced that Genetics Matters?“, published in an intensely left-biased media source (New Yorker). It addresses one liberal behavioral geneticist at UT, Paige Harden, on short sabbatical in Montana (who clearly is drumming up publicity for her new book, natch), and the “woke” attack mob still farther to her radical left.

That story is entertaining and revealing to read, and so is the phenomenon on other fronts as well, such as the battle between the social-justice radicals and the New Atheists over the science, logic and reason (even as a Christian, I’m also a scientist, and I agree with the New Atheists when they fight the woke cult on that!). The “SJWs” also have been going after radical feminists who refuse to yield to their redefinition demands regarding “transgender” rubbish, and what it means to be a woman (I sympathize with the “woman is a woman” feminists there, because of biology). See, I can agree with some liberals on some things! And to deny scientific truths and impugn science when it doesn’t conform to your social agenda is…unscientific.

Genetic differences and roles in ability and behavior are real, and deeply documented scientifically, but the anti-science faction of “woke” radicals to her left wants nothing to do with acknowledging such, and has given her hell over it. The New Yorker writer’s innate leftist bias is evident in tone, and it seemed the writer was diminishing this scientist’s standing slightly by referring to her physical attractiveness (yeah, I certainly agree she is, but that’s immaterial to the substance of the issue, and should be left to the reader and not the author to note). Still, especially for a piece from that outlet, I found the story remarkably evenhanded and balanced.

Conservative writer and author Robert Bidinotto did as well, in his commentary on Facebook, which he made open publicly and which I reproduce here (again, read the New Yorker piece first). His response is between the ellipses here:



ONE INTRAMURAL BATTLE ON THE LEFT is over two kinds of determinism: biological or environmental? Here’s an interesting article on the latest genetic research about the contribution genes might play in various personality traits and success in life. But precisely because such research may lead to conclusions that many leftists don’t want to reach, this particular genetic researcher, Kathryn Paige Harden, is under fire from the left — even though she, too, is a devout leftist.

Reading this long piece, I was struck by how leftists within the psychological research community — whether environmental or biological in their theoretical orientation — *want* their research to ratify their *political* values and agenda, and are eager to attack any research that doesn’t. Theirs isn’t a scientific search for truth; it’s ideological confirmation bias masquerading as science.

I was also struck that *all* sides in their debate were determinists of one sort or another. They all view individuals as playthings of forces beyond their control, whether biological or environmental. Their only argument is over *which* forces, circumstances, and influences “cause” people to be what they are and do what they do. The one principle absent from this entire discussion is *human volition* — free will. The idea that individuals might have any *choice* in how their lives turn out is never mentioned.

This is the root of the left’s view of individuals as helpless “victims,” powerless pawns of circumstance — not as active agents in shaping the outcomes in their own lives. And that view, in turn, is what leads them to regard an all-powerful, paternalistic government as the necessary “moral” agent to help victims overcome circumstances and have equal outcomes. However, these folks never bother to ask themselves: Without free will and choice, how can we determine what is or isn’t right or wrong? Why is equality moral, and inequality immoral? How can we choose the moral path if we aren’t free to choose in the first place? And how do *we*, the researchers, manage to freely reach such conclusions, then act on them, if our biology or environment compels us to think and act as we do?

In the absence of volition and choice, their determinism logically implies that they aren’t cognitively free to decide why their claims are *true*, to prove why their political prescriptions are *good*, or to choose the actions they say are *moral.* Without free will, none of that is possible. In fact, leftist determinists *can’t claim to *know* what they’re talking about,* since knowledge depends on the freedom to think in order to reach valid conclusions. So, my response to their claims is: “There, there, now…I know you just can’t help believing and saying all that crazy stuff you claim to believe.”


Bidinotto’s commentary is very reasonable as far as it goes, though he overlooks the “overrated bootstrapping on the right” part discussed in the article. But I agree with him that both sides of that debate long have overemphasized determinism (whether genetic or environmental) at the expense of free will and conscious, rational decision-making.

We might be predisposed to a choice, but aren’t inexorably bound to make that choice. We’re not preprogrammed robots, and conscious decision-making does exist. Sure, poor kids statistically are predisposed by environment to “succeed” less economically, and vice versa for rich kids. Poor kids who do, and rich kids who don’t, are seen as aberrations, and irrelevant exceptions too few in number to matter. But are they (we)? Is there something they (we) can tell us about how much effort and will matter within and despite your genetic or social circumstances?

We don’t put enough effort into studying the “exceptions”.

Sure, bootstrapping fails if the capability isn’t there genetically. To wit, there’s no way in hell I ever did, could, or will play basketball like Michael Jordan, play piano like Van Cliburn, fluently speak 5+ languages like Melania Trump, shoot rifles like Chris Kyle, nor perform theoretical astrophysics like Stephen Hawking, regardless of effort. Regardless of effort! [Cue Eastwood’s famous movie line about how a man must know his limitations.]

So…where the nature determiners and nurture determinists have it wrong — yes, the both of them — is that one can bootstrap toward the limits of one’s innate capabilities, and that bootstrapping absolutely does matter inside those natural genetic constraints.

It’s how a poor inner-city kid in dirty, roach- and rat-infested rental duplexes can become a multiply formally published atmospheric scientist, which quite obviously the kid was genetically capable of doing, or he wouldn’t have. I’m that kid.

Opportunity, luck, whatever you want to call it, lands on everybody in some form. But not everybody chooses to accept “lucky” opportunities and make the most of it. That I have seen, over and over and over. A few of the very smartest kids I knew, rich or poor economically to start, ended up in poverty, prison, or dead.

Within our inherited and often unknown limitations, I firmly believe effort, work, determination, bootstrapping, whatever you want to call it, absolutely matters. Why? I’ve lived it. I can’t fiddle like Charlie Daniels did, or bench-press 700 pounds like Larry Allen did, but I damn well am capable of doing severe-storms meteorology like Roger Edwards, however much or little that’s worth.

How do we nurture the nature of more people like that, like me? Paige’s research could be used to great benefit that way, if the woke left in particular that gives her so much unscientific, unjustified crap would step out of their dogmatic determinism (or better yet, just step aside and let the adults handle this).

Scattershooting 210901

Scattershooting while wondering why “trust the science” from the left to often abruptly ends at nuclear physics or fundamental human genetics…

THE ONE and ONLY BEST CO2 and ENERGY-INDEPENDENCE SOLUTION: NUCLEAR: An environmentalist makes a powerful case for nuclear and against so-called “renewables” to supply energy at big scale. There’s a decades-long tradition of unscientific, mathematically ignorant, irrational fear-mongering around nuclear. Never mind that nuclear is (by orders of magnitude!) the most energy-dense fuel source, with the lowest carbon emission, the safest record of all U.S. energy sources (fewest human and wildlife casualties), the least land area used for the amount of energy generated, continual and reliable (unlike solar and wind), has the lowest lifetime total waste volume compared to all fossils/wind/solar, and so on. Truly, nuclear is the greenest of green energy. And the technology to generate more energy with still less waste on an even smaller footprint has improved hugely since currently operating plants were erected in the ’60s through ’80s. Even if the Utopia of fusion isn’t realized soon, nuclear still is the safest, most efficient steady energy source for us all. Only ignorant, petty NIMBY bullcrap, science illiteracy, anti-scientific and illogical fear-mongering, and massive bureaucratic red tape are stopping us from becoming truly energy independent, with the lowest carbon production per capita among all nations. The way there is nuclear. If it were announced tomorrow that a nuclear plant would be built right behind my property, I’d welcome it with bells on. Just tap me into the juice, nuke-man.

PUBLIC-CRISIS MESSAGING MATTERS: Yes, as a formally published scientist, I know science matters, and changes. I also know messaging is important. As I’ve said before, consistent and clear communications matter in a crisis! Pretend for a minute you’re in a pre-pandemic time machine. SARS and MERS already have happened from remarkably similar viruses, and other RNA viruses have been studied for decades, so much already is known about such viruses in science. You’re told a coronavirus pandemic one is coming and that this will occur. Then, officially…

Let’s deny masks work, tell people not to get them, then mandate masks, then not differentiate between medical grade n95 masks & cloth rags, then say children are fine, then mask only children for a bit while telling the vaccinated to carry on as before the pandemic, officially declare vaccines as the way to end the pandemic, say the vaccines only reduce disease severity and aren’t stopping the pandemic, then reimpose mask mandates on vaccinated people, and then through all this confusing (for most folks, from their perspective) flip-flopping, express incredulous surprise that trust in institutions and expertise is being lost. Can you put yourself in another’s shoes? Do you get this point at all? Of course “the science changes”! Duh. Saying that is a straw man. The sciences of virology, epidemiology and immunology, however, existed before this pandemic, and have not changed anywhere nearly as wildly as the messaging has.

FOLLY of CONFORMITY in LANGUAGE FADS: On a somewhat related note, I find it annoying that the “woke” politically correct feel like they have to stick their unwelcome and meddlesome noses into everybody’s business, much like the Puritanical small-town busybodies of days of yore, or over-officious homeowner’s-association pests who nitpick the most minute details of everybody else’s house and lawn in the neighborhood. Same mentality! In the pandemic, they forced spineless and overly compliant news organizations to stop saying “Wuhan” when that is factually where the virus originated, in support of an unproven, subjective perception that systemic racism was happening on massive scales against Asians because of that. Then the factually from India “Delta” variant came along, and media and citizens mindlessly comply without question. Factually, it is the Wuhan virus and the India variant, and that’s what I call them. Don’t like it? As I often say: your problem, not mine. I deal in facts, not what might offend some soft, coddled, overly sensitive, privileged, overwhelmingly white-leftist busybodies. Regurgitating the pre-scripted phrase isn’t an act of wisdom nor kindness nor tolerance, it’s instead the opposite: it’s an act of supine conformist submission to a preapproved set of opinions.

BIG-CORPORATE SUCKING UP to CHINA:

This refusal to even acknowledge Uighur torture and genocide is craven corporate pandering to red Commie China by Coca Cola, much as we’ve seen from many other big companies and the NBA. Their “human rights” people only care about human rights when it doesn’t impact the bottom line much (if at all). Arguable and disputed sociopolitical events in the U.S.? “Woke” to the core, sucking up to the max to that bizarre conformity cult. Actual mass imprisonments, torture, and genocide of Uighurs, long-standing oppression of Tibet, a stiflingly Orwellian mass-surveillance state, and increasingly brutal oppression in Hong Kong? Cowardly silence. China has these faceless corporate suits and ties bought, paid for and leashed like obedient lap dogs. This guy from Coke even looks like a sniveling, spineless bureaucratic weasel, and is playing that part well. He should be in the movies. He wouldn’t have to act.

RADICAL PUBLIC-SCHOOL BRAINWASHING OF MINOR CHILDREN: BUSTED! Whistleblowers, gadflies and undercover operatives are some of my very favorite and most respected people, as they are heroes of openness and justice, exposing nefarious, illegal and diabolical activity in many levels of governments and corporations. Public education is a level of government and absolutely should be subject to whistle-blowing activity and undercover reporting. Project Veritas did just that with video of a radical Marxist teacher in Natomas Unified School District near Sacramento, one Gabriel Gipes, who:

  • Placed Antifa flag and Mao poster on the wall of his classroom, and shamed a student who was uncomfortable about that
  • Like some of the Capitol insurrectionists on the opposite part of the spectrum, holds that violent overthrow of the U.S. government is a good thing
  • Assigned extra credit for students who attended extremist left-wing events
  • Promised he’s not the only teacher there inclined toward radicalizing students: “There are three other teachers in my department that I did my credential program with — and they’re rad. They’re great people. They’re definitely on the same page.”

    The superintendent confirmed this “teacher” would be fired. Why was he hired? This tells me the real agenda there is: “We’ll radicalize children to the extent we can get away with it, until the PR gets too intense.” According to freelance journalist Andy Ngo, the school-board meeting included these speakers:
  • A black mom who said her daughter was brainwashed in 13 days
  • A Hispanic dad whose daughter noted that on the first school day, Gipe told the pupils that he e would turn them into “revolutionaries.” That’s consistent with Veritas’ recording where he admitted: “I have 180 days to turn them [students] into revolutionaries … Scare the f*** out of them.”
  • A Muslim parent calling for a criminal investigation into this “teacher”.

    These left-wing “woke” cult radicals are badly overplaying their hand, causing a lot of quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) backlash among the very groups they purport to support: racial minorities (including Ngo, the black dad and Hispanic mom), Muslims, and homosexuals (including Ngo). These lunatics don’t realize this ultimately going to undermine their own cause, which will be so fun to watch. What’s not fun is the damage they do by poisoning young minds with their parasitic ideologies.

PEOPLE I DON’T UNDERSTAND: Those who deny there’s a pandemic, or call it a “plandemic” seriously. Those who think males (that’s people with the XY chromosomes, for the biologically ignorant) should be using my wife’s or daughter’s bathrooms (and if I see a dude trying to go into a restroom with my wife or daughter, he’s not going to succeed). Those who stormed the Capitol thinking they were “making America great again,” when they were just being ignorant, herd-mentality fools. Those who think if a dude wears lipstick and a dress, he’s not a dude anymore (like putting lipstick and a pink bow on a boar makes it a sow…suuuuuure). Christians who grovel at an abject, unrepentant sinner and bombastic heathen like Donald Trump. Christians who support abortion, sexual activity of any kind outside monogamous man-woman marriage, or critical race theory (as if Jesus cared about race). Sometimes it seems so many on both sides have lost their collective and individual minds, or at least a moral compass of right, wrong and common sense.

Did I offend people on both sides with this segment? I did? Good! Outstanding! Shows I’m doing something right. Namely, thinking for myself, independently of anybody’s marching orders but God’s. And that’s OK with me. Why? Because ultimately, I will be answering to no mortal human — just God. Nobody on Twitter, nobody on Facebook, and not you either. I wasn’t put here to win popularity contests or conform to the worldly fads, but to adhere to truth. Your judgment won’t matter…only His. If you understand where I’m coming from and are cool with that, great — you get it. If not, learn and grow. Become more truly “tolerant” and “inclusive”.

R.I.P. Emmy the Cat

Early the afternoon of Sunday Aug. 1, we bid a sad yet fond farewell to our furry little buddy of 12 years, Emmy the cat. She passed peacefully, surrounded by the people she knows best: Elke and me, and our grown kids, for whom she was a loyal teenage companion and source of daily joy.

A small, tortoiseshell Himalayan, Emmy was a declawed stray, set loose in a neighborhood in north Norman, and made her way to us through my son David. We don’t know how old she was upon arrival, but guessed about a year. She was a sweet-tempered, adorable little bundle of fur, with a very laid-back, absent-minded, yet eagerly seeking disposition that charmed all who spent time with her. She blessed us with warmth, humor, beauty, and love for over a decade. Emmy also charmed every visitor with her wide-eyed curiosity, and willingness to accept affection easily compelled by that super-soft coat she wore.

I often said she was 60% fur, 40% cat — always a finicky eater and skinny little body hidden inside all that thick, plush fur. She had a marvelous repertoire of meek little vocal noises for every occasion — chirps, squeaks, wheezes, and short hums — sometimes loud howls, but seldom a true meow, and loved to receive affection. Nose, face and chin rubs were her special favorite; you couldn’t go wrong there. Petting, or even the mere reach toward petting, would elicit a deep, low-pitched, strongly vibrating purr, seemingly way out of proportion to her tiny size (6 pounds or less for most of her life).

To the end, she was a curious explorer of places she’d been many times, as if she was seeing them anew each time. We all could learn from that.

In the last couple years she has undergone a gradual decline amidst hip dysplasia, several eye and mouth infections that cost her some of both teeth and visual acuity, slow renal failure requiring increasingly frequent IV saline infusions, more-obvious confusion (beyond her scatter-brained norm), and more recently, increasingly apparent discomfort when walking and eating.

In her last few days, Emmy’s appetite and thirst waned. It was time. Emmy’s infusions and pills kept Elke at home instead of traveling for more than a day or so. Elke sacrificed countless hours for the sake of her beloved kitty, and grieved heavily those first few days. Still, we are not accepting any more pets for a long time. We’re content to remember those we’ve given good lives, and Emmy was among the very best.

We’re so glad to have had her and provided her with a loving, safe home. Adios and R.I.P., our “bug-eyed little fluffball”…Lord willing, you’ll be waiting on the other side with all the other great pets of our lives, and you’ll get as many nose rubs as you want forever in kitty heaven.

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