Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Race (ARNOLD KLING, FEB 23, 2024, In My Tribe)

In thinking about The End of Race Politics, a new book by Coleman Hughes, I came up with a description of the race debate using the metaphor of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. I assign a stance to each of the three symbols.

Rock is individualism. Treat people as individuals, not as members of a race.

Paper is equalitarianism. Treat differences in average outcomes by race as evidence of unfairness.

Scissors is realism. Explain differences in average outcomes by race by appealing to heredity and culture.

In the game, paper covers rock, scissors cuts paper, and rock breaks scissors. Translating from the metaphor, the most compelling argument against individualism is equalitarianism. The most compelling argument against equalitarianism is realism. And the most compelling argument against realism is individualism. […]

The problem with individualism (Rock) is that people intuitively find inequality offensive. If we treat people as individuals, and the resulting outcomes are unequal by race, this will not be acceptable. The unequal outcomes will be viewed as a sign that something is wrong with our society.

The problem with equalitarianism (Paper) is that it requires people to deny, implicitly or explicitly, that average differences by race in inherited or cultural characteristics can be significant. The realists want to confront the equalitarians over this.

The problem with realism (Scissors) is that it uncages the demon of racial stereotyping and prejudice. The individualists will insist that we should pay attention to differences across individuals, not differences across races.


Hunter-gatherers were violently wiped off the map by farmers, DNA reveals (Bronwyn Thompson, February 12, 2024, New Atlas)

Researchers from Sweden’s Lund University analyzed skeletons and teeth found in what is now Denmark, and found that 5,900 years ago, the region underwent a swift and total population change. Prior to this, Danish Mesolithic people of the Maglemose, Kongemose and Ertebølle cultures – genetically related to other Western European hunter-gatherers – were prominent inhabitants. But when Neolithic farmers arrived, an abrupt shift can be seen in DNA records, with next to no genetic contribution from the local hunter-gatherers.

Tracing the DNA timeline, the researchers could see that the hunter-gatherers had been swiftly wiped out by the late Stone Age, in what they suspect was a very bloody and very thorough takeover.


Robert Sapolsky is Determined to be Wrong (Richard Cocks, 12/12/23, Voegelin View)

In episode 693 of the podcast Modern Wisdom, Sapolsky, brought up an Orthodox Jew, reveals that at the age of fourteen he realized categorically that determinism is true, there is no purpose, and that there is no God. This bleak conclusion has never left him. This is the kind of age where one might consider the possibility that one’s parents and other people are actually robots and that solipsistically, one could be the only conscious actual human; whether other people are really seeing the same colors as you, and so on. Such puerile speculations normally recede into oblivion. Not for Sapolsky.

It’s like letting that teen reading of Atlas Shrugged determine your adulthood.


Humans may be the most powerful evolutionary force on Earth (Matthew Wills, 12/07/23, Big Think)

“Anthropogenic” is a key word of our time. It means caused by, and/or originating with, humans. It’s generally used to refer to climate change. But anthropogenic warming isn’t the only thing we’re collectively causing here on earth. Humans have become a major evolutionary force. In fact, we may be the most powerful evolutionary force going. We are driving rapid evolution—contemporary evolutionary change—in other species at rates that seem to be faster than anything else in history, barring the five great mass extinctions of earth history.

we flatter ourselves.


Macbeth Revisited: The Decline & Fall of Friedrich Nietzsche (Joseph Pearce, November 29th, 2023, Imaginative Conservative)

Like his tragic Shakespearean forerunner, Nietzsche begins by abandoning reason in pursuit of power. From the very outset, his denial of the existence of God had nothing to do with any rational process of thought: “Atheism, is not, for me, the consequence of something else … in my case it is something that goes without saying, a matter of instinct.” In similar vein, his rejection of Christianity had nothing to do with any rational process of thought and everything to do with pride and its prejudices: “[I]t is our preference that decides against Christianity – not arguments.”

If Nietzsche’s atheism and anti-Christianity is irrational, there is nonetheless a reason for it, a rationale for his irrationality. The man who refuses to subject himself to reason is freed from the rational constraints that reason imposes. He is the “freed man”, liberated by the will to power (der Wille zur Macht), who can do what he likes and “to whom nothing is now forbidden”. The rule of reason, “this last bondage”, must be cast off. “[W]e have abolished the world of truth,” Nietzsche proclaimed; “nothing is true”.

The consequences of such abandonment of reason to the appetite for self-empowerment was obvious enough, even to Nietzsche. The philosopher, he wrote, is “a terrible explosive from which nothing is safe”.

“This being so,” de Lubac comments, “it was not surprising that the drama that had taken shape in human minds quickly reached the point at which it burst forth in fire and slaughter.”


How Laws Evolved by Natural Selection (Peter DeScioli Ph.D., August 8, 2023, Psychology Today)

Laws may seem unlikely to come from evolution. There are so many laws, and they differ so much across societies. This variation shows that natural selection did not install a single code of laws in the human mind. We do not have 10 commandments, or five or 20, etched into our minds, or else we would see the same code of laws repeated in society after society.

But does this mean that human evolution has little to tell us about the origin of laws? Not at all. To see why, just compare laws to tools.

Quite. Evolution is just a tool for intelligent use.