SNUL: Culture Matters

At Z Man’s, another HBD discussion.  I’m not going to jump into it again, because I don’t feel like re-typing the same few things over and over and over and over…*  So, for the record, my take on genes vs. environment vs. culture.

Culture obviously matters quite a bit, as any breeze through a history book should tell you.  Heck, if you’ve made it past your own personal Wonder Years you should know this.  It’s not just nostalgia’s rosy glow; life really was different back then.  Watch episodes of old prime-time TV on Youtube; they look like they were made on Mars, for Martians.

I’m not just talking about ephemera, either, like Cosby sweaters.  They thought differently back then.  If the 1980s are too recent for you to see it clearly, go read some stuff from the Middle Ages.  You don’t really think, do you, that you could be the best doctor in Medieval France if you went back there armed with the germ theory of disease?

They weren’t ignorant; their brains were different.  “Scientific” thinking is VERY recent — Thomas Aquinas was better at logic than all of us put together, but he wasn’t a scientist; he’d find our mechanical conception of the universe soulless and repugnant.  His reasoning is deductive, our is inductive — it’s a huge difference, it’s important, and it’s entirely cultural.  The scientific/mathematical mode of thought is deeply unnatural to the human brain, and takes enormous social effort to maintain. For all his logic, Aquinas couldn’t understand our world; he was wired differently.

The questions are: how much does culture affect behavior, and what’s the mechanism?

Humans have hard limits — you’re not going to take a 70 IQ kid and make him a software engineer, no matter how great your cultural training program.  But within those hard limits, people are quite plastic.  Read up on the New Soviet Man to see it.  The NSM wasn’t what the Bolsheviks expected he’d be — Bolsheviks have a perfect track record when it comes to getting things wrong — but he’s a real thing nonetheless (you can find him in every faculty lounge in America).  Theodore Dalrymple was fond of quoting a dissident who estimated it’d take five generations for the Romanian psyche to recover from life under communism.

Did the New Soviet Man really believe in Bolshevism?  Do martyrs endure martyrdom because they really believe?  We’ll never know; the extremes of behavior are, and always will be, academic questions.  But culture can put hard limits on everything but the extremes.  It is simply NOT the case that, had modern movies been around in Ye Olden Tymes, Shakespeare and Marlowe would’ve been out of business.  Marlowe died in a gay knife fight — people of his times were plenty well versed in the seedier side of life.  They just didn’t want to see it on stage.  Culture, yo.

What kind of culture shall we have?  What are the limits it should impose?  Denying these questions is a biologism as crude, in its way, as the “social constructivism” of the SJWs.


*Yeah, I know, that could be an spot-on description of most of my output here.  The difference, Smart Guy, is that you’re free to not read here, whereas I’m clogging up everyone’s discussion over there.

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6 thoughts on “SNUL: Culture Matters

  1. Nate Winchester

    Part of the issue is that REALLY testing how much is biology vs culture would be just plain unethical. Not to mention do we ever want the government to know just how much they can manipulate us? 😉 Sometimes in life, a little uncertainty is for our own protection.

    1. Severian

      That’s the thing, though – we pretty much know already. If it could be done without genetic engineering, the Soviet Union, in their 70+ years in power, did it. That’s why I say that between the tackles, humans are pretty plastic. Totalitarian writing is pretty easy to recognize, for instance, even if the person is writing against the regime.

      I don’t really care about the exact percentages, even if we could fully know them (we can’t). I’m arguing against the crude biologism that’s all too common on the Alt-Right — because you can’t “enculturate” a 70 IQ kid into being a theoretical physicist doesn’t mean culture plays no role. If SJWs assume, via the blank slate, that people are infinitely malleable, the alt-right assumes that there’s no “give” to people at all.

      And that’s just false, as you can see from reading just about any history book, on any subject, in about five pages. We’re the Reality people; we need to acknowledge the reality of culture and its effects.

      1. Nate Winchester

        Ah. And on that we agree.

        Here’s what I’ve pointed out before: Look at a dog. Compare it to the wolf. How many years of evolution would it take to get a dog out of a wolf? Probably hundreds of thousands. Yet we have dogs now. Why? Humans used our intellect to get dogs. Intellect seems to have a factor on evolution such that we can get new species of animals in much, MUCH less time than it would take otherwise.

        So what does that say about us?

        This isn’t talking about eugenics but the simple fact that our intellect plays a role in our breeding. We don’t just go around producing offspring as often as we can. Even the most basic ghetto hoodlum that some MIGHT say does that, really doesn’t. Even if it’s not a lot, he and his baby mamas do utilize some of their brains to select each other from the crowd and screw.

        So obviously when you have a culture, impacting intellect, then you’re going to have an effect on the genetics and breeding of the population of that society.

        Of course genes and culture seem to place limits on each other. You can’t warp people into anything – genes will limit where your culture might go. But likewise the culture should place limits on what genes are allowed to continue on into the generations.

    1. Severian

      OK, but: Living creatures all use oxygen. Saying — as lots on the alt-right seem to — “get the genetics right, and we’ll be fine” is like saying “get the oxygen level right, and we’ll be fine.”

      Culture is not genetics. Genetics is not culture. Both are real, and both are important.

  2. Recusant

    Genetics is vitally important, but so also is culture. How you mould people was well illustrated by another Russian: Pavlov.


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