RE: Serious concern

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue 19 Aug 2003 - 01:05:37 GMT

  • Next message: Brad - Eufrates: "RE: Serious concern"

    >From: Keith Henson <>
    >Subject: RE: Serious concern
    >Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 20:24:10 -0400
    >At 12:33 PM 18/08/03 -0700, Virginia wrote:
    >>But this leads to something I've been mulling lately. Do you all think
    >>that memes are *genetically* inheritable? I was wondering just
    >>yesterday if the general level of introspective intelligence in the
    >>populace at large would be affected with the seeming lack of huge
    >>reproduction numbers among the more academic sorts. If more gullible
    >>memes are genetically inheritable, then we're on a downslide for sure.
    >No, memes are not genetically inheritable, different mechanism.
    Thank you. Some have touted a long-term relation between the two (gene-meme coevolution), but this wouldn't be the same, if realized in the *real world*
    (tm), as saYING "memes" are genetically inheritable. At best a tendency to adopt certain mindsets or to attend to a particular kind of cultural information could itself be heritable, but that would be akin to the culturgen idea that Wilson has put forward (epigenetic tuning biases and all that).

    The neo-Lamarckian heritability of cultural information would lend some credence to Jungian archetypes, but that's a folk (read *Volk*) hereditarian construct based loosely on Haeckel's warped views of recapitulationary parallels between ontogeny and phylogeny. Great stuff for a thesis in its own right, but I haven't the time nor nerve right now...
    >That said, Aaron Lynch has argued for years that children are largely
    >infected by parental memes, so that meme sets that encourage large families
    >(e.g. Mormons) would spread by this way as well as "horizontally."
    >Aaron makes a strong case.
    >I am personally convinced that psychological traits such as gullibility
    >have strong genetic components.
    I think I'd stick to cultural components in the case of Mormons.
    >For example, descendants of Mormons would be expected genetically to be
    >more susceptible to cults than others whose ancestors were not sucked into
    >the major cult of a century and a half ago.
    With only a century and a half of time to work, plus dubious gentic bases for said susceptibility, I doubt you'll be finding some Mormonism leads to Scientology gullibility gene.
    >This seems to be born out in that an unexpectedly large number of (for
    >example) scientologists have Mormon ancestry.
    If this is indeed the case (are there conclusive demographic studies that back this claim?) that a large number of Scientologists got their start in Mormonism, I'd probably be tempted to look at social factors endemic to Mormonism that would ideationally (not genetically!) predispose a Mormon towards Scientology. Are Mormons anymore gullible than people calling TV psychics or falling for other ruses? I'd suppose there's plenty of non-Mormon gullibility out there and the gullible non-Mormons themselves susceptible to being involved in ideational sects (Scientology, The Way, Jehovah's Witnesses, Boston Red Sox, etc).
    >Your point about the larger genetic contribution of non academic types
    >(read lower IQ) is certainly a subject you can worry about. It used to
    >bother me a great deal. Roughly a decade ago I finally realized that *any*
    >measurable trait tends to result in reduced reproductive success at both
    >ends of the bell curve.
    >If this were not so, and the trait was due to genes, then the center of the
    >curve would drift due to differential gene selection until both ends *were*
    >seeing reduced reproductive success in about the same amounts. You can see
    >this in that very bright and very stupid people both tend to have fewer
    >kids. (It would be an interesting curve to plot)
    It would be more interesting if IQ (whatever that means) were demonstrably genetic.
    >Humans are (in my estimation) less than a generation away from gaining
    >complete control of their genes.
    Yes, didn't Aldous Huxley prophesize this?
    >If I felt it was even two generations away, I would put more effort into
    >encouraging bright people to have more kids.
    Why? Maybe they were "bright" because they had an environment conducive to their fostering a more widespread (universal?) human potential to a greater degree. In this non-hereditarian scchema, it might be better to encourage society to take the potential of underpriveleged (read poor and undernourished both physically and intellectually) more seriously.

    I wonder over the course of several generations whether the hereditarian
    (eugenic) on non-hereditarian (head start) model would win out.
    >Being the sort who leads by example, I had 5 (all girls) by two really
    >bright women.
    >"Regression to the mean" means that really bright parents will (on average)
    >have kids that are less bright than they are, but still well above average,
    >and a few of them will be sharper than their parents.
    Are "bright" and "sharp" attributable to distinct mappable genes? Or are we relying on twin studies?
    >A major problem is that one kid can outnumber two parents. :-) Kid
    >raising is a tribal project, always was.
    >Keith Henson
    >Keith Henson
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