“Intelligence” is a pretty good political and cultural litmus test nowadays. I don’t mean possession of the thing; I mean your reaction to the word.
The Left, though they fucking love science, have declared the human brain off limits to scientific inquiry. Intelligence is entirely cultural, they say, and you’re racist for even wondering if the obvious superficial differences between races go deeper. (Some Lefties go even further, of course, and maintain that there are different kinds of intelligence — emotional intelligence, for example — but as these are obvious rationalizations let’s leave them alone in their sadness). All humans have the same raw mental processing power, they insist. Culture unlocks it, and not coincidentally SWPL culture is the very best at that. Indeed you could be forgiven for thinking that Liberalism causes intelligence — they sure act as if it does, hence the Fundamental Paradox of Internet Liberalism.*
Vast swathes of the “Right,” on the other hand, insist that intelligence is nothing but biology. Culture has nothing to do with IQ, and IQ is destiny — Whitey von Saxon with the 101 IQ will be a software engineer; Dindu Nuffin with the 99 IQ can be, at best, Whitey’s janitor (Schlomo Goldstein with the 120 IQ, of course, rules the world, but don’t worry — despite his double-digit IQ advantage we still see through his laughably transparent schemes. Every. Single. Time).
I’m willing to concede that a lot of this is rhetoric. Measurable, easily observed differences in IQ, and their near-certain correlation with certain kinds of behavior, drive Lefties nuts, and it’s always fun to get science’s BFFs frothing at the mouth about how this one particular science doesn’t count (see also: Global Warming, basic economics, anything else that falls under “math is hard”). But a lot of it isn’t, and so we see “our” smart guys being just as dumb as theirs.
Whatever the differences in raw processing power may have been — or if there even were any — it’s obvious that folks in the past had vastly different functional intelligence, and that much of the difference was cultural. Read anything from the Early Modern period and you’ll see it right away. They can remember much better than we can, for example, holding long strings of complicated ratiocination in their heads without difficulty — by the time we’ve kinda sorta parsed out the first of Puritan’s propositions, his coreligionists have raised an army and beheaded the king. This was true for a long, long time. (One of the reasons the Gettysburg Address is so famous, for instance, is because it was short — orators back then went on for hours, and indeed the keynote speaker, Edward Everett, did go on for hours. Lots of people didn’t even hear Lincoln; he’d finished before they even knew he got started). This is not to say they were necessarily smarter back then — our blinky-light light-speed world would melt their brains, as surely as we’d die of brain-melting boredom in theirs. It’s just different, and no amount of pontificating about “biology is destiny” can remove the cultural component.
That certainty is the other thing bedeviling us, our allies on the “Right” as much as our enemies on the Left. Again, I’m willing to concede that a lot of this is rhetoric — acknowledging that lots of, say, Black misbehavior stems almost entirely from mental requirements in a technological society would go a long way towards crafting a useful social policy, and “IQ is destiny” is far from the worst slogan to ever rally troops. But it’s alienating, and it results in what we can call the Fundamental Paradox of Internet Conservatism — “no no, I don’t hate Black people; in fact I wish them the best! But if they’re destined to be nothing but hewers of wood and drawers of water, everywhere, forever, well…. I didn’t invent modern society, did I? IQ is destiny!” Dogmatic certainty is the Left’s game, and look where it has gotten them — they’re dogmatically certain about so many things, none of which is compatible with any other, that I’m continually surprised their heads don’t explode from the cognitive dissonance. Let’s not fall into the same trap, gentlemen.
*You Reich-wingers are too stupid to understand how awesome liberalism is, and I can prove it — if you were smart enough to understand what I’m saying, you’d be Liberals. And yet, here I am, arguing with you anyway.