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.