Epigenetics?

Chapter 13 of Human Diversity (2020) explains why outside (i.e. government) interventions cannot substantially affect cognitive ability or economic success.  Murray frames it as a syllogism:

  1. If environment explains little about cognitive repertoires; and
  2. If only environmental factors can be affected by outside interventions; then
  3. Outside interventions are constrained in the effects they have on cognitive repertoires.

Upon laying out the logic, he analyzes how one might challenge this syllogistic conclusion:

  1. The first premise is wrong for some important outcomes
  2. The first premise is wrong for the early stages of life
  3. The first premise is wrong when it comes to changing “self-concept”
  4. The second premise is wrong because non-environmental factors can be affected by outside interventions.
  5. But you’re ignoring epigenetics!

Murray mows down the first two with empirical evidence.  The “self-concept” point was interesting but it’s just speculative, wishful thinking psychobabble (the self-esteem movement – I’m OK You’re OK).  He dispenses with the fourth in 2 pages.  The last one, however, was new to me.  Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in genes that do not involve the underlying DNA sequence.  It’s a new field in biology.  Murray takes 8 ½ pages to lay out the controversy and uncertainty in Epigenetics.  Interestingly, we’ll see that while Murray’s critics warmly embrace Epigenetics, they ruthlessly despise and actively work to repress another new field in biology – Evolutionary Psychology (more on that later).

Upon reading Murray’s book it becomes clear that his critics are not attacking him for factual/logical disagreements but rather as part of an ongoing political/ideological war.  It’s these same enemies of truth and free speech/free thought that drive today’s cancel culture mob.  Fortunately, it will be temporary because scientific and moral truth is objective reality, despite the Left arguing that everything is relative and subjective.  They cannot question Murray’s “is”, so they vehemently argue about an “ought”.  And the disturbing thing is that Leftist try and disguise their ought arguments as is arguments – agenda driven intellectual dishonesty.

We analyzed the is vs. ought philosophical issue here on 6/11/19 and F. A. Hayek warned us of collectivists assault on truth here on 1/31/17.  It bears repeating now because, as we’ll see in our next War Chest project, intellectual freedom is currently under attack:

While the great majority of people are incapable of independent thought because they’re stupid and are happy to accept ready-made views, there is a small minority who are very much intellectually independent.  In a free society no one person or group is capable or ought to have the power to select those to whom the freedom of independent thought is to be reserved.  Nobody should be able to tell people what to think.  “To deprecate the value of intellectual freedom because it will never mean for everybody the same possibility of independent thought is completely to miss the reasons which give intellectual freedom its value.”

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