Baggage claim

June 28, 2014 § 39 Comments

Below I made the contention that “human biodiversity” is basically nazi or close kin to naziism, because national socialism and HBD are both liberal modernity minus the ‘noble lie’ of zero group differences.

In the comment thread Kevin Nowell asks a question that, lets face it, probably occurs to many of the folks who read here.  (I’m not picking on Mr. Nowell: it is an excellent question, I’ve spent years pulling the positivist weeds in the garden of my own mind, and I still find the little buggers here and there sometimes).

This gets to the root of where some of the things you write conflict with the way I and perhaps others think. When you write about HBD or “neoreaction” or the “patchwork” or whatever concept you are writing about you are, it seems to me, thinking and writing not just about that particular concept or idea; but, about all the people who hold that idea, the other ideas they generally hold, and other ideas that are generally associated with that idea.

In my humble opinion this association of ideas with movements muddles conversation. If one wants to talk about the claim that there are biological differences across races there should be a word to describe this claim. I thought HBD was this word; but, if it is really something more, a word describing a whole movement or a whole worldview well now I need a different word that is limited to just the idea. Or do you think that is not possible?

I replied:

Most modern people have this notion that it is possible to talk about some interesting and complex aspect of reality without ‘importing’ all sorts of implicit and assumed metaphysical baggage, if you will.

But it isn’t.

My reply frustrated Mr. Nowell, and Malcolm reiterated the question.  But there is no such thing as “a word limited to [nothing but] the idea”. Language and meaning don’t work that way, as much as positivists may believe or wish that they did. “Assume positivism is true, then tell me what I want to hear” is begging the question at a basic foundational level.

We can already use the term ‘racial differences’ to talk about racial differences. The reason folks prefer ‘human biodiversity’ is not because it is easier to type or makes for a shorter acronym. The reason folks prefer it is precisely because of its metaphysical baggage. Same goes for other erstwhile popular neologisms, like Game and neoreaction.

§ 39 Responses to Baggage claim

  • Halec says:

    What’s your take on “diversity hiring”? What about the (decidely Orwellian) idea of employment “equity”?

  • That’s well said, Zippy. Thanks for not dismissing it out of hand, I appreciate the clarification.

    One of the reasons I harp on racial differences is because denying they exist often goes hand in hand with denying differences in cognitive ability, and I am pretty firmly convinced that this denial is the root of the problems in the school system.

    The problem looks something like this:

    1) People say that cognitive differences are real

    2) When you look at the numbers, you’ll notice that cognitive ability tends to correlate pretty well with self-identified race

    3) This is not allowed

    4) Thus, cognitive differences are not real, and instead are somehow a failure of the school system. And then we have the disastrophe that is common core as a result.

  • I should say, the problems in the school system that relate directly to academics.

  • […] Source: Zippy Catholic […]

  • Zippy says:

    Halec:
    I’ve argued before that from a strictly economic perspective, PC tyranny is good for (big) business because it creates liquidity.

    I’m not sure what you mean by employment equity.

  • jf12 says:

    Re: everything’s connected. It may not interest you, but the general problem of what it means to say a Ding an sich must be taken along with its connections is studied in the discipline of network science.

  • halec says:

    Zippy:

    I’ve argued before that from a strictly economic perspective, PC tyranny is good for (big) business because it creates liquidity.

    I’m not sure what you mean by employment equity.

    I’m thinking along the lines of how diversity is described here:
    http://nationofbeancounters.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/diversity-is-the-opposite-of-equality/

    Basically, hiring people because they fall under that definition of diversity. “Employment equity” is along the same lines, but closer to the definition of equality as specified above.

  • Dystopia Max says:

    “The reason folks prefer ‘human biodiversity’ is not because it is easier to type or makes for a shorter acronym. The reason folks prefer it is precisely because of its metaphysical baggage. Same goes for other erstwhile popular neologisms, like Game and neoreaction.”

    How DARE people supposedly interested in the truth speak in code when dealing with a hostile and poorly-educated general culture! I’ll bet they even have secret symbols, societies, and hiding places!

    In all seriousness, the real question is: If so, why do they care about the issue enough to dress it up in forms palatable to the general corrupted consciousness of the age?

    There is a form of public honesty that both big business and big government apparatchiks are perfectly capable of holding to, and it’s called toeing the party line, repeating the slogan as often as necessary until you believe it, and forming no beliefs from your own experiences or the experiences of others unless they match up with a pre-approved view that’s in society’s good graces. And it will send you to hell far more quickly and effectively than being an honest Nazi, or even an honest Communist.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    How DARE people supposedly interested in the truth speak in code when dealing with a hostile and poorly-educated general culture!

    So, it’s okay to lie for good ends?

  • Corruption in the direction that HBDers approve of is one of the reasons we have the ridiculous blank slate position at all.

    The idea that the scores might not always be what they appear to be is based on actual incidences (as recently as my own lifetime) of a black kid’s high score being marked down and that lower mark recorded, over and over again. It’s based on the white student selected for valedictorian status being given test answers in advance (yes, just like the athletes).

    The HBD response to actual corruption is to say that since there’s no detailed paper trail of corruption that all the results must be completely correct (where “results”= “proxies and made-up numbers based on assumptions. oh, and also test scores”). HBDers may not have faith in God quite often, but they sure have faith in their narratives of how not even test scores but assumptions that are declared just as good as test scores are superior to conventional narratives about cognitive variation.

    It may well be that a Gap exists, but it is more rather than less likely that it shrinks when comparing like to like, which never happens.

    I’d love an honest exploration of cognitive differences, but since people who like the term HBD are just as dishonest as those who don’t, that is clearly not ever going to happen.

  • Zippy says:

    Dystopia Max:

    In all seriousness, the real question is: If so, why do they care about the issue enough to dress it up in forms palatable to the general corrupted consciousness of the age?

    In all seriousness, this is a form of ad hominem: I am supposed to refrain from criticizing ideas and presentation because doggone it, the folks making the assertions care.

    There is a form of public honesty that both big business and big government apparatchiks are perfectly capable of holding to, and it’s called toeing the party line, repeating the slogan as often as necessary until you believe it, and forming no beliefs from your own experiences or the experiences of others unless they match up with a pre-approved view that’s in society’s good graces.

    I don’t think you know what the term “honesty” means. Or more likely you do, and you are so used to the ‘postmodern’ mode of expression that the irony of confirming my thesis with your own words is lost on you.

  • Mike T says:

    The reason folks prefer it is precisely because of its metaphysical baggage.

    So you are officially discounting the fact that some use it because…

    A) “racial differences” has a lot of linguistic baggage from the days of white racists who regarded blacks as some higher form of ape.
    B) it is an attempt to create a new concept of “racial differences” based on scientific observation, not the observations of those with biases they wish to confirm?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    Those ‘becauses’ of yours are ways of pointing out the tip of the iceberg of the metaphysical baggage. So it isn’t clear what you think I am ‘officially discounting’.

  • Kevin Nowell says:

    Thank you for expounding on the topic Zippy. You are right I was frustrated. Mainly though, is was at my own lack of ability to express my thoughts carefully and precisely. The thought that modernist, positivist errors are lurking somewhere in my mind is very disconcerting to me. After much consideration I daresay you are right and I shall have to adjust my own understanding.

  • The idea that the scores might not always be what they appear to be is based on actual incidences (as recently as my own lifetime) of a black kid’s high score being marked down and that lower mark recorded, over and over again. It’s based on the white student selected for valedictorian status being given test answers in advance (yes, just like the athletes).

    But have you ever actually looked at the data? Because I have. I’ve quoted it. Your response was basically “I don’t care, it’s all lies!”

    The type of conspiracy (and yes, I consider this a conspiracy theory) you’re suggesting is so huge, it would be completely absurd. It also flies in the face of all the government bias in favor of people of color, affirmative action at the college level being the obvious example.

  • It may well be that a Gap exists, but it is more rather than less likely that it shrinks when comparing like to like, which never happens.

    You’re correct, it does shrink, a little. But poor income self-identified whites still outscore, on average, low income self-identified blacks, and high income blacks. And people of color actually tend to get more test prep and more government aid than white people.

  • Also, by the way, I never actually studied, nor do I care about, HBD. I argued briefly with Zippy about it because it sounded as if it made sense at first blush and I wanted to know why he didn’t think so. He gave some pretty good reasons. Fair enough. That still doesn’t make the data go away.

  • No, I was referring to black people with direct experience of test scores and grades being replaced with lower ones. Hence the word “actual”, as in, really happened. Anyway I didn’t say it was all lies, only that it wasn’t unassailably provable that there is never corruption. As usual, an HBD response is to ignore the history of corruption that provided part of the motivations for the blank slaters. You can have a difference in performance (it’s certainly possible that it would remain a sizable one) even if everything is aboveboard, but it will be something different vs. when everything is not.

    Like I said, an honest exploration of differences would be great, if we had that, but we simply don’t. We have data and proxies for data, and it’s pretty much never like-to-like.

    HBD is useless because it’s dishonest and the elites already make sure to limit NAM access to the real goodies without it right this minute.

    Like I also said, we are being overseen and administered by the people who test high enough by the data you support as flawless. We already have those people running everything…right into the ground.

  • Dystopia Max says:

    “So, it’s okay to lie for good ends?”

    You got me. Obviously when the Nazis come for the Jews in the attic, you have to tell them exactly where they are, because lying is always wrong. When you hear the story of someone who hid Jews in his home and then told the Nazis searching for them exactly where they were, you have to tell them immediately when asked, and anyone horrified at the story is obviously a sinner.

    “In all seriousness, this is a form of ad hominem: I am supposed to refrain from criticizing ideas and presentation because doggone it, the folks making the assertions care.”

    When you start easily taking offense to mild suggestions, using the words ‘baggage’ and ‘adults’ in contexts that only women and writers for manboobz tend to use, sympathize heavily with any possible offense to people who are active enemies of the faith in practice, presenting other bloggers out of context and with the barest of addressing of their arguments, then you’re probably going to draw a whole lot of ad hominems.

    I don’t know how many adults you have on your side, but there damn sure ain’t any soldiers on yours, as they tend to put a premium on trust.

    “I don’t think you know what the term “honesty” means. Or more likely you do, and you are so used to the ‘postmodern’ mode of expression that the irony of confirming my thesis with your own words is lost on you.”

    I know what honesty is, and I know what dishonesty is. It’s very easy to lie by telling the truth:

    “Surely, when all is said, the ultimate objection to the English public school is its utterly blatant and indecent disregard of the duty of telling the truth. I know there does still linger among maiden ladies in remote country houses a notion that English schoolboys are taught to tell the truth, but it cannot be maintained seriously for a moment. Very occasionally, very vaguely, English schoolboys are told not to tell lies, which is a totally different thing. I may silently support all the obscene fictions and forgeries in the universe, without once telling a lie. I may wear another man’s coat, steal another man’s wit, apostatize to another man’s creed, or poison another man’s coffee, all without ever telling a lie.”

    In a time of active war against your people, your religion, your nation, and your morality, whose major events could have been compiled and commented on merely by reading last week’s Drudge Report, you’re posting snarky little quote-mining asides on the moral failings of your fellow soldiers. An apology or three may be in order, but my suspicions are that you think you can get in good with the present fake opposition if you present your future betrayal as a result of irreconcilable philosophical differences, which never actually bothered you before.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    You got me. Obviously when the Nazis come for the Jews in the attic, you have to tell them exactly where they are, because lying is always wrong.

    Yes, lying is always wrong. Lying is an evil. It cannot be justified. That’s what ‘evil’ means. Refusing to open your mouth in the first place is easily justifiable, however.

  • Zippy says:

    Dystopia Max:

    When you start easily taking offense to mild suggestions …

    I realize that on the Internet many people use the term “ad hominem” to mean “hey, he insulted me!”. But I was actually using it to refer to the logical fallacy.

    The “fellow soldiers” emotional appeal is nice and all, but the only “side” I am on is the side of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

  • Benjamin2.0 says:

    “In a time of active war against your people, your religion, your nation, and your morality, whose major events could have been compiled and commented on merely by reading last week’s Drudge Report, you’re posting snarky little quote-mining asides on the moral failings of your fellow soldiers. An apology or three may be in order, but my suspicions are that you think you can get in good with the present fake opposition if you present your future betrayal as a result of irreconcilable philosophical differences, which never actually bothered you before.”

    Perhaps he values fighting and dying with honor far more than winning at any cost. The former is a great deal more admirable and trustworthy. I wouldn’t trust a proponent of the latter not to cut my throat as I sleep should the other side give him a better offer. In the eternal Christian moral economy, integrity matters more than results. Read “The Consolation of Philosophy” by Boethius for details.

  • CJ says:

    “So, it’s okay to lie for good ends?”

    You got me.

    [snip]

    but there damn sure ain’t any soldiers on yours, as they tend to put a premium on trust.

    Premium on trust, unless it’s expedient to lie. Got it.

  • halec says:

    @Zippy

    Hi again. I was wondering if you could comment on the notion of hiring various groups (minorities, women, etc) for the express purpose of diversity of opinion/perspectives/etc (so-called “diversity hiring”). I’m wondering how it fits into liberalism in general, and how/whether it differs from the approach taken in decades past (such as affirmative action). Thanks.

    The general definitions I was thinking of are here: http://nationofbeancounters.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/diversity-is-the-opposite-of-equality/

  • […] own.  Positivism presumes that it is possible to isolate pockets of knowledge away from their metaphysical baggage.  A whole package of errors and wrongheaded thinking flows from positivism, some of which is […]

  • […] Liberalism therefore is an (again illusory, but resilient enough to prove satisfying to most people) mechanism for making politics and morality conform to expectation: to make them what we want and expect them to be, as opposed to discovering them as objective aspects of reality that we have to live with and conform to. Sola Scriptura and scientific positivism (scientism) are two ways of doing the same thing with respect to religious truth (doctrine): of making religious doctrine conform to our metaphysical baggage. […]

  • Arakawa says:

    The exchange on lying and expediency, touches on a question I’ve been mulling for a while. I would appreciate being able to understand this better, as my present confusion on this point produces a large portion of my inability to take Thomist type reasoning entirely seriously.

    So, natural law ethics (in the Thomist formulation) leads to a conclusion that lying is always and intrinsically evil; all well and good, but natural law ethics also has a thing called Just War theory which distinguishes between situations where killing a person is morally unjustifiable vs. when it can be morally justifiable.

    To me that seems an evident absurdum where you can get a situation in which blowing the Nazi’s head off with a shotgun would be immediately morally preferable to telling him a lie.

    Moreover, I have a difficulty reconciling my understanding of Just War theory with how deception actually gets employed in warfare. Is attempting to deceive the enemy as to the location and disposition of one’s forces always intrinsically evil and unjustified, or is it merely one of those aspects of a war that could be employed against an unambiguous enemy, but that one would be demented to resort to in any other situation? Kind of like the part where one kills people?

  • Zippy says:

    Arakawa:
    I haven’t “gone deep” on lying the way I have with some other subjects, e.g. property, torture, slavery. So I don’t have a series of posts to point you to, though it may be worth noting that I am definitely not an Aristotlean-Thomist in the contemporary understanding. Maybe someone else has something to say, or perhaps at some point I will “go deep” on lying.

    All evil sets itself against the truth, and lying uses language to deliberately and explicitly set another soul’s knowledge against the truth; so I am not sanguine about concluding that the prohibition of lying has any exceptions. But I haven’t thought and read about it specifically enough to really say more, at this point.

  • Arakawa says:

    Fair enough; I picked the wrong person to ask about Thomism, then. Usually when I find one of these threads, everyone has been too exhausted retreading the usual “lying to a Nazi that there are no Jews in your attic” scenario using the usual predictable arguments, to be willing to engage in any further discussion.

    The most cogent explanation of the issue about lying in Thomism I’ve found was from the folks on Ed Feser’s blog, where they separate lying (uttering a statement that is known to be false) from deception (causing someone else to believe a false statement, by whatever means). Deception may be morally justified (in a Just War sort of way), but it can’t ever be accomplished using lying, because lying is a misdirection of the faculty of communication from its natural end of communicating statements about reality. (So, uttering a false statement is like a verbal sin of Onan?)

    However, since deception without lying is tricky, oftentimes what happens is that mental reservation is proposed as a low-fat version of lying that supposedly doesn’t actually involve lying, ‘per se’. (Stating a series of individually true facts, or a formally true sentence, while omitting something in a way that — you can predict — will cause the other person to form a false interpretation.)

    This seems like a somewhat irrelevant distinction (i.e. the absolute wrongness of lying as identified by Thomism is something separate and additional to the conditional wrongness of deception; Feser has spent at least one blog post clearing this up). My real problem with this reasoning is that mental reservation with an intent to deceive the other person can actually be more self-defeating than telling a straight-up lie, because I might deceive someone with reservation, then I can more easily deceive myself that my action was not _really_ lying (it’s not as bad, according to Thomism), then when the whole thing comes up again, rather than honestly admit that I lied earlier, I can spin the whole thing as a misunderstanding (why, didn’t they know ?). So, all in all, if I have an actual temptation to deceive people, mental reservation is an incredibly dangerous habit to get into.

    So, it seems like the ‘natural law’ explanation I outlined above identifies that lying is wrong, but is somewhat off base on _why_ — and therefore draws the line in the wrong places. So, on the one hand, when one does resort to deception, the method is funneled towards things like mental reservation which strike me as even more questionable; on the other hand, the notion that uttering a false statement in and of itself is immoral, considered separately from the issue of deception, which is really the core issue here.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of contexts where one can utter a formally false statement (e.g. an actor in a play), but there are enough secondary social cues that ‘everyone knows’ the statement isn’t intended to be taken as true — so there is no deception intended or taking place. In practice ‘everyone knows’ is a gap wide enough to ram a right-wing Eastern Orthodox blogger through, but it takes quite a contrived argument to put acting on a moral par with intentional deception.

    (But as you identify: I would probably agree that deception (what you simply call ‘lying’) is intent to cause a person (yourself or someone else) to believe falsehoods, using whatever means. Whether uttering formally true statements or formally false ones, or even acting in a way that you know and intend to be misinterpreted by the other person, without saying anything as such.

    Likewise self-deception is simply doing anything to cause oneself to believe falsehoods rather than the truth.)

  • Zippy says:

    Arakawa:
    Ed Feser is definitely a far better representative of contemporary AT thought than I, and is vastly better informed on what it all entails. As for me I am probably best characterized, rather unfashionably, as some sort of Platonist.

    My intuition is that if and when I get around to doing due diligence on lying it will be similar to what happened with (e.g.) theft and usury. In order to understand them as intrinsically immoral I first had to understand property and currency, and how the modern metaphysic of property and currency has gone wrong. (I disagree with almost everyone about the nature of currency, for example, though I think where I ultimately arrived is very close to Aquinas’ understanding).

    With lying the situation is similar, but the foundations are meaning and language not property and currency, which makes the current discussion of positivism very much appropriate as preliminary. But I haven’t fully wrapped my mind around how it all hangs together yet. I had to re-understand what theft really is (and why it is always morally wrong without exception) based on what property really is, and that took time. I ultimately concluded that on theft and usury Aquinas was right all along, though almost nobody understands why (especially on usury).

    So anyway I can’t predict the outcome of an in depth exploration of the moral theology of lying that I haven’t done yet.

  • […] this is just the same old question-begging blindness to metaphysical baggage all over again. Contracts and other choices take place in a context, and the context is not itself […]

  • […] is nothing but the use of psychological techniques to influence the behavior of the opposite […]

  • […] of the natural law: that their approach to interpreting Scripture does not come with any metaphysical baggage. This claim is false. They do interpret Scripture in the light of their understanding of natural […]

  • […] points of view takes place.  All of these points of view take liberalism as a metaphysically basic background, and within the padded walls it makes sense to talk of left versus right; that is, left liberalism […]

  • […] to refer to racial differences.  The sciency-soundingness of the former carries the right materialist metaphysical baggage necessary to get past the reflexive rejection by the modern mind of anything which appears to […]

  • […] is that anti-realist theories attempt in various critical places to reduce value and/or property to nothing but the projection of subjective human intentions, understandings, preferences, will, or desire.  What […]

  • […] infrastructure in which Exxon operates and transacts.  Economic reality is not reducible to nothing but private […]

  • […]  In my experience, the folks advancing those arguments tend to be completely unaware of their own metaphysical baggage.  At the very least their metaphysical baggage remains hidden and unacknowledged — perhaps […]

  • […] Regardless of my ignorance, I keep thinking about the fact-value distinction because there are some deep implications. I mean: There are fundamental pre-thought assumptions that influence my thoughts before I […]

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