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Geneticists And Economists Clash Over "Genoeconomics" Paper

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the go-go-godwin dept.

Science 213

scibri writes "One side is accused of supporting ethnic cleansing; the other of being intellectually naive. Geneticists and economists are struggling to collaborate on research that explores how our genes influence and interact with economic behavior. Top economists are publishing a paper that claims a country's genetic diversity can predict the success of its economy. To critics, the economists' paper seems to suggest that a country's poverty could be the result of its citizens' genetic make-up, and the paper is attracting charges of genetic determinism, and even racism. But the economists say that they have been misunderstood, and are merely using genetics as a proxy for other factors that can drive an economy, such as history and culture."

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There is obviously a link here. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609443)

Correlation does not imply causation, but in general, the more pigment the natives have in their skin, the more likely the country is to have a poor economy. Just sayin'.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (0)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41609613)

This is typically due to oppressive rulers and a lack of freedom in their history close in relative time compounded by hundreds of years of being declared not worthy or less then human by more wealthy countries. It has little to do with the pigment of their skin other then how they have been treated by others as well as their own throughout the years..

Re:There is obviously a link here. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609969)

Exactly. Black students perform poorly on standardized tests because of a conspiracy to provide only grape-flavored, mentholated pencils to the test-taking students. That way, the black students never finish the tests because they end up eating the pencils halfway though.

Why, you ask? There was a manufacturing surplus of purple velvet seats and gold rims made for Geo Metros, and they had to be sold. Only the uneducated buy those things.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (0)

hazah (807503) | about 2 years ago | (#41610211)

Funny how those same black students will perform in a statistically insignificant way if they didn't know they were black to begin with. That stench of shit by the way... that's God telling you to change your pants. You've seemed to have soiled yourself as the stress of your delusions overwhelmed you.

FIGHT! (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41610591)

Between a pseudo-science and an immature discipline!

Re:There is obviously a link here. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610783)

I guess it was European oppression that kept them from developing written language for thousands of years after everyone else.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (3, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41611003)

East Africa was literate a millennium before Europe.

North Africa and West Asia invented literacy.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (3, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#41610967)

Yes. The world's longest-lived and wealthiest societies in all of history prove your thesis. NOT!

Egypt commanded through 3 principal epochs - over 3000 years of culturally continuous and reasonably enlightened civilization, outstripping the dreams of wealth in over that period.

They were able to accomplish this without your revolting melanin-deficiency.

This is but one example. Somehow, northern barbarians - who until a few short centuries ago, slept in the straw, still matted with their own dinner-filth - think they are the center of the universe. The maths and science they inherited from central and south asia have been used to rip the planet to shreds. Then they blame the victim as proof of their moral superiority.

Pathetic.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (2)

robot5x (1035276) | about 2 years ago | (#41611269)

it could also be quite convincingly argued that an economic lens is not really the most appropriate one through which to view history...

The ancient Egyptians had mind-boggling knowledge of astronomy, geometry - they knew pi, zero, the golden section - as well as a highly developed cursive script, and construction techniques that we still can't get anywhere near today.

I'm guess what I'm saying is that economic measures are already biased; the global economic structures currently in force are products of western civilisation which prides economy and wealth over other things which different cultures hold dear.

Re:There is obviously a link here. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41611155)

So the Scandinavian countries and the UK should be home to the superpowers and the US should be lagging far behind, with Australia being a poverty-ridden hellhole, right? Native Americans aren't a bunch of pasty white folks...

Correlation is not causation (5, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41609497)

Maybe it's the other way around, I would say it's more likely that economic success causes immigration, and therefore diversity.

If you RTFA (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609543)

you see the following:

The paper argues that there are strong links between estimates of genetic diversity for 145 countries and per-capita incomes, even after accounting for myriad factors such as economic-based migration.

Re:If you RTFA (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41609815)

That's impossible. Immigration is the only cause of genetic diversity in humans.

Re:If you RTFA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609937)

That's impossible. Immigration is the only cause of genetic diversity in humans.

Wrong.
Fucking is the only cause of genetic diversity. I'd have thought someone with as low of a UID as yours would have figured that much out by now.

Re:If you RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610023)

Fucking is the only cause of genetic diversity. I'd have thought someone with as low of a UID as yours would have figured that much out by now.

Not here on Slashdot...

Re:If you RTFA (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41610869)

Fucking is the only cause of genetic diversity.

No, that only creates more combinations of the same genes.

Re:If you RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610917)

A. "more combinations" IS diversity.
B. By that measure immigration does not cause diversity at all....

Re:If you RTFA (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41610011)

That's impossible. Immigration is the only cause of genetic diversity in humans.

No, it isn't. War, for example, is traditionally a huge cause of genetic diversity (after conquering a place, soldiers would often... well, rape the local women, to be frank, and even in a less-extreme scenario often slept with the more willing local women as they traveled). There is a reason there were often massive population booms after an invading army swept through a country. Any traveler has a possibility of spreading diversity, even if they aren't immigrating, and genes will spread across borders slowly over time even if the population remains relatively stationary.

Re:If you RTFA (3, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41610887)

War of conquest is a form of immigration.

Re:If you RTFA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610045)

Garbage like you should be castrated.

Re:If you RTFA (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41611299)

Yeah, I should've RTFA. The Nature headline misleadingly talks about prediction but there is no mention of that in the article, just pointing out common patterns between economic and genetical data. It's hard to tell what exactly the paper claims without reading it.

Re:Correlation is not causation (3, Informative)

mTor (18585) | about 2 years ago | (#41610751)

I recommend you read this article: Correlation is not causation : The Internet Blowhardâ(TM)s Favorite Phrase

The correlation phrase has become so common and so irritating that a minor backlash has now ensued against the rhetoric if not the concept. No, correlation does not imply causation, but it sure as hell provides a hint.

Re:Correlation is not causation (2)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#41611011)

By that logic we should get rid of the Pythagorean theorem, it's become too common and irritating. Could it be that the reason so many people point this out is because it's true?

Re:Correlation is not causation (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | about 2 years ago | (#41611183)

There's a lot of possible answers mixed in everywhere.

1. As you say... success encourages immigration
2. Perhaps genetic diversity allows different strengths from various genetic backgrounds to manifest themselves.
3. Perhaps there is a high tie in with culture and genetics... and different cultures interacting and mixing their ideas produce innovative results
4. Perhaps history is accounted for the spread of empire and the mixing that occurs there is also a cause for prosperity. When the British mixed with the Indians... a certain class of Indians adopted more successful British values... and also adopted some mixing with British genes for example.

But the actual articles is quite interesting to read.

Genetic diversity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609519)

...cannot overcome government policy or lack of policy. I think government policy would dwarf genetics in the economics dept.

Now show me the papers that correlate genetics with government policy.

Re:Genetic diversity... (3, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41609755)

Now show me the papers that correlate genetics with government policy.

Check out the genetic profiles of those living:

1. In govt run "projects" housing

2. In govt funded Welfare

3. In govt funded food stamp programs

4. In govt funded Medicaid

Adjust for % of each race in the the nation...and see what you come out with?

Regardless of your findings...which if done soundly with regard to the science of numbers...you'd get roasted over a public open fire and branded a racist.

While there is a huge cultural component to this...perhaps the culture also is somewhat genetics based?

Re:Genetic diversity... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609801)

Because chances are...you would be a racist, justifying your racist opinions with sloppy pseudo-science.

Just like the Bell Curve people, who purported to have objective science, but were really just basing their premises on a very subjective analysis. And the more they insisted they were basing things on their hard science, the more it was obvious they weren't.

There's a slight chance a person wouldn't actually be racist, but would be simply misguided, but I've rarely seen that to be the case.

Re:Genetic diversity... (2, Interesting)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#41610521)

No, you miss the point. I'll illustrate.

Verifiable fact: there are more black people in jail than whites in the US.

Said such a thing one, time, instantly branded racist. But you will note that the statement makes no claims about who commits more crimes, about whether more black people actually get charged or found guilty vs non-blacks where were not charged or found innocent, whether the number is a raw total, or a ratio of population at large.... ...it just states the current state of jail population. no conclusions, no innuendo. just a simple number. (well, quantity comparison anyway)

And if you say it, the first thing people say is "racist".

Re:Genetic diversity... (3, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#41610801)

No, you're not necessarily a racist, you just don't know statistics.

Verifiable fact: there are more poor people in jail than non-poor in the US. There is a much larger correlation between economic status and crime than there is between race and crime.

So, the fact that you "illustrated" this, shows one of a few possibilities. 1) you were unaware of this tighter correlation. 2) you are aware of this correlation, but don't believe it. (why?) 3) you are aware of this correlation, but don't understand it, and choose to promote the sloppy "more black people in jail" statistic as if it had any meaning by itself.

So you can continue lying with statistics -- very similarly to how people do with the male/female "wage gap" -- or you can adjust your rhetoric to include and account for all relevant data. My guess is you and cayenne8 will both continue lying with a smug superiority complex about how "you're not racist, you're just stating facts".

--Jeremy

Re:Genetic diversity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610665)

Because chances are...you would be a racist, justifying your racist opinions with sloppy pseudo-science.

Are you saying this because you have data, or is it just that you are using this kind of thinking to justify your own opinions in the same way that you are accusing other people of doing? I know where I'd bet my money on the answer to that.

Re:Genetic diversity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609871)

Let me guess, you are from the deep south.

Not that all southerners are racists, but a lot of them tend to be. It might be cultural to be a southern racist, but maybe the southern culture is somewhat genetics based? Are you related to Honey Boo Boo by any chance?

Re:Genetic diversity... (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41610181)

I have to disagree.

I've lived in Utah, Wyoming, and Connecticut before moving to Texas and I gotta say there is a shit ton of racists in Connecticut.

Re:Genetic diversity... (2)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#41610187)

Pot, meet Kettle.

Re:Genetic diversity... (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41610471)

I have seen as much or MORE racism in the north than I see here in the south. The KKK may run around in the south (but most southerners wish they would go away), but the Neo-Nazis are in the north.

Re:Genetic diversity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610885)

Not that all southerners are racists, but a lot of them tend to be.

And a lot of racial liberals are Northerners who don't have to actually live and work around other races. Real easy to be an egalitarian elitist when you live in lily-white New England and send your kids to a public school where there are all of a dozen black kids.

Re:Genetic diversity... (4, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41610071)

...perhaps the culture also is somewhat genetics based?

I'll bet you a dollar that it's not [imdb.com]

Re:Genetic diversity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41611151)

...perhaps the culture also is somewhat genetics based?

I'll bet you a dollar that it's not [imdb.com]

Humor aside, it's pretty easy to see what would really happen in this scenario. First off, the panhandler would take a paycut [wndu.com] . Then, the poor financial skills (more extreme than these [cracked.com] ) that made him homeless would make him terrible at his job.

It's a common misconception that the homeless are poor because of low income. Some are disabled or suffer severe mental illness, but most are not (or at least that's not why they beg). Substance abuse is the most common problem. They can't hold a job, and need vast amounts of money to fuel their drug/alcohol habit.

Re:Genetic diversity... (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41610371)

Now, look at the genetic social and family profiles of those who had to start out with less than nothing after being imported as property (but only the young and healthy, not the elders) and treated as sub-human even after being ruled no longer property.

In the U.S. there is a myth that anyone can succeed and that background has no part mostly because there are a fair few very wealthy wastes of oxygen that want to pretend that their great fortune in life is somehow connected to some greatness within them. That and economic oppression is easier if you can convince the oppressed that their own shortcomings are at fault.

Re:Genetic diversity... (1)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#41610399)

Culture, by definition, is not genetically transmitted. Behavior is influenced by both culture and genetics and teasing out which cause has what effect is a very, very tricky business. Merely observing a correlation between race and food stamp use is likely to get you labelled a racist because only a racist (or an ignoramus) would find it at all interesting. Carefully conducted research on the subject has demonstrated much better correlation with family income than with race for a host of societal ills that are typically ascribed to race in the USA.

Re:Genetic diversity... (4, Interesting)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 2 years ago | (#41610409)

The argument of the paper is *NOT* that there is a genetic driver to culture. The argument is that genetics is a useful *proxy* for culture, and one on which there is much clearer data. Most culture is strongly influenced by your family, who also happen to be your genetic influences. If you can track genetics you can also track culture.

For example - immigrants from Sweden to the US are going to have similar genetics to people who remained in Sweden. But they are also going to bring their culture with them as well, which is going to continue to influence their lifestyles significantly.

It is very hard to get data on how many people in the US have similar cultural influences to Sweden, but it is much less hard to find the people who have a genetic link to it, and therefore have an increased probability of having similar cultural influence.

You don't have to make any claim at all about genetic influences over cultural ones for this to be a useful line of study.

Re:Genetic diversity... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 years ago | (#41610445)

Um... that race wasn't even allowed to vote in every state until recently. Most of their grandparents couldn't even work the worst jobs in society because of discrimination. The fact that their grand children aren't running the country yet should be a given... oh wait.

Re:Genetic diversity... (1)

scot4875 (542869) | about 2 years ago | (#41610651)

And if you control for how their parents lived, there's an even tighter correlation.

As others have pointed out, you're just using sloppy statistics to justify thinly-veiled racism.

--Jeremy

Re:Genetic diversity... (1)

Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) | about 2 years ago | (#41611385)

Regardless of your findings...which if done soundly with regard to the science of numbers...you'd get roasted over a public open fire and branded a racist.

Uh, if I did your study in the US and released my numbers, the newspaper headline would be "Study Finds Blacks Poorer than Whites". I don't think I'd get raked over any coals for that.

You start getting into hot water when you talk about causes. Your study would just demonstrate an easily visible fact, and doesn't prove or really even suggest anything about anything relating to causation. If you want to say that the cause of this is somehow genetic, you're going to have to do a hell of a lot of work to convince people, and yes, you're probably going to be branded a racist. Part of this is political correctness, sure, but a lot more of it is the fact that most previous efforts [wikipedia.org] towards establishing an evolutionary explanation for poverty were little more than pseudo-scientific hackwork. The history of the field is very, very unpleasant, and that naturally makes most of us think unpleasant thoughts about current practitioners.

The other major issue is that you want me to look at the "genetic profiles" of people in various government programs and also "adjust for % of each race in the the nation". But the problem is that a race isn't a genetic profile. To use the obvious US example, we call African-Americans a "race", while studies have shown that Africa has more genetic diversity than any other continent [washingtonpost.com] . So you'd expect that the genetic makeup of a group of people descended from Africans would be more heterogeneous than that of a group of people without any (or many) African ancestors. (This of course ignores that most Africans dragged to the Americas came from a relatively small section of the continent, but it also ignores the fact that most African-Americans have a little bit of everything in their ancestry. It should roughly even it out.) The point is that it'd be really hard to explain the socioeconomic fate of an extremely genetically diverse "race" on the base of genetics, unless you could find a few very specific sets of genes causing economic backwardness or something. I mean, maybe they exist, maybe they're out there. Good luck. But it's really, really doubtful.

Economics is a science? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609541)

Science discards theories that fail in reality.

Re:Economics is a science? (2)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#41610703)

NOT Flamebait!

While there may be a study of economics out there, the field's leading representatives have become wholly wrapped up in politics. Those representatives are so thoroughly beholden to the political powers that be that they will say nearly ANYTHING to support the existing policies even where the supporting theory is obviously non-viable.

Imagine Carl Sagan talking about the beauty of a million epicycles all different with no rhyme or reason and what a fine sort of matter the crystal spheres must be made of to remain undetectable for all this time except in the way they govern the movements of the heavens around the Earth and you'll have some idea of where the public face of economics is at as a science.

When the real economists start standing up and calling bullshit on the political malpractice of economics, people will come to respect it as a science.

ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (3, Insightful)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | about 2 years ago | (#41609581)

In an open letter, the group said that it is worried about the political implications of the economists’ work: “the suggestion that an ideal level of genetic variation could foster economic growth and could even be engineered has the potential to be misused with frightening consequences to justify indefensible practices such as ethnic cleansing or genocide,” it said.

Well, I guess scientists had better go back and un-invent and un-discover any empirically verifiable or useful thing they may have invented or discovered that has the potential for misuse.

Re:ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#41609923)

To be fair, this topic had a rather dark history and, even when researchers were well intentioned, stuff like this has been used as the basis for eugenics multiple times already, including within the US. So their concern is rooted in some pretty solid history..... not hypothetical misuse.

Re:ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (4, Insightful)

cryptolemur (1247988) | about 2 years ago | (#41610029)

Especially so when dealing with pseudoscience like economics, where any explanation that justifies greed and sosiopathy is considered valid.

Re:ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41610139)

This and very much this. It's hard to imagine a marriage between genetics, a real science and economics - something that tails astrology and is just one jump ahead of homeopathy as a 'science'.

You will never get anything useful out of it. Economists should not be allowed to pretend to read hard science papers. It will just give them airs.

Re:ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#41611259)

Fair point, it's just disappointing that nobody thinks of this while participating in DARPA projects and other "defense" related work.

Re:ignore facts because of potential for misuse? (1)

WastedMeat (1103369) | about 2 years ago | (#41611311)

Replace "economic" with "academic" and water down the list of indefensible practices; you have our modern college admission policies, and the same people furious over studies like these advocate the hell out of practices like that.

Muddy Water to start with (1, Insightful)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41609609)

Religion in most of the world has a huge impact on economic success, as does the availability and quality of education. In addition the current financial state of a region makes a huge difference, when I don't worry about finding food I can read and study more. When clean water and sanitation are taken care of I can focus more on research and development of new ideas and technologies. A person forced to read a holy book instead of a science book probably won't be much help developing the next IPhone,

Re:Muddy Water to start with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609703)

Depends on which holy book [amazon.com] you're talking about.

Re:Muddy Water to start with (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41609765)

Many people learned to read science books because it was first considered important for them to be able to read holy books. Universities started off as not much more than seminaries.

Being someone who has read both holy books and science books, I'd say that the real cause of people having problems with science is either that they are uninterested or unable to read. Holy books don't really impinge too much on my reading of journals.

Re:Muddy Water to start with (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41609849)

A person forced to read a holy book instead of a science book probably won't be much help developing the next IPhone,

Well yes, if the science books are banned by the theocracy. But are science books and tech manuals all you read? I read the bible, science fiction, other fiction, nonfiction. Reading a bible doesn't stop you from learning.

Re:Muddy Water to start with (1)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41610397)

I could have phrased that better. Specifically I meant educations which are based wholly in theology and prohibit or strongly discourage the study of anything other than or conflicting with theological studies.

TED Talks (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41609619)

I thought we already determined that humans were as stupid as Monkeys when it came to economics and assessment of economic risk.

http://www.ted.com/talks/laurie_santos.html [ted.com]

The stupidz. Itz in ur geenz.

Re:TED Talks (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41610319)

Comparing a 50% chance of $0 or $1000 vs 100% chance of $500 it is rational to go for the $500. Because you assume you don't live forever, and you don't get infinite chances to make "free" money like that. Whereas if you got infinite goes at this, then sure they are about the same. For similar reasons it actually isn't that stupid for a poor unskilled and uneducated person to buy a lottery ticket if he wants to be a multimillionaire. Because his odds of becoming a multimillionaire in his lifetime by just working his way up, starting a successful business etc are also very low- in most countries social mobility is not that great. If he just wanted to be merely better off then he shouldn't waste his money on lottery tickets. Buying a lottery ticket makes even more sense if the jackpot has grown to a huge amount - in which case it can actually be considered an investment :).

For the other problem if you are risk averse you should not risk a 50% chance of losing $1000 when you can ensure your losses are limited to 500. So I find it interesting that the risk averse people are taking the chance.

Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (4, Insightful)

xtal (49134) | about 2 years ago | (#41609657)

It's ok for genes to predicate athletic ability, but not other abilities or behaviours?

Obviously our genes influence other behaviours. The small minded might not like that, but that's the way it is. Those who cry "racism" do a diservice to humanity in general - the bell curve applies to all populations, and the distribution of genes within a population is widely distributed. Studying how those genes interact is a good thing!

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (2)

saveferrousoxide (2566033) | about 2 years ago | (#41609829)

I think the difference is really a discussion of whether genes affect behavior as they do physical characteristics. It's the nature vs. nurture debate in (slightly) different clothes. Even that question boils down to one of whether we are more than complex chemical reactions; if there is some "self" that isn't a physical construct.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | about 2 years ago | (#41610127)

Yeah, Genes don't necessarily determine behavior, but they can play a big part in encouraging behavior.

My brother has genes for both a lean, athletic build, and ADHD, therefore he plays soccer due to his genes both giving him an advantage and a desire to run off steam.

I have a gene for very fair skin. I sunburn quickly, therefore my behavior is influenced towards wearing long sleeves or staying indoors on bright sunny days.

I know all living things including humans are just big, complex chemical and physical reactions, essentially deterministic. But we still have at least an illusion of free will, and that's good enough for me. Our brains are complex enough that we can't determine what anyone will do with a high level of certainty, unless we know they're operating in a very constrained system.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41609877)

Yeah, and origin of silicon is supposed to determine the frequency of a processor made of it.

Some things are KNOWN to have no dependence either observed or possible, and people like you should shut the fuck up instead of talking about them.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609935)

Not a single thing in this world is KNOWN to have no dependence. Gimps like you should shut the fuck up instead of talking at all.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41610845)

Not a single thing in this world is KNOWN to have no dependence.

That's incorrect. The frequency of stupid outburst from you, does not depend on the phase of the moon, contrary to the belief that originated the word "lunacy".

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41610145)

Some things are KNOWN to have no dependence either observed or possible, and people like you should shut the fuck up instead of talking about them.

So... genetics is known to have no influence on behavior? I'd definitely like to see that research. Or by "known" do you mean "not actually known but held by people so they appear not to be racist"? On the contrary, I can say that it very much is known that genetics will have an influence on behavior. People born with more testosterone will be more aggressive, people with dopamine dysfunctions tend to have certain psychoses, etc., and such things can be cause by genetic traits. Now, whether those traits can be abstract to an entire race or even large group of people, I don't know, and I rather doubt (even a "pure" race has enough genetic diversity that such traits are unlikely to be observable over the noise of normal human behavioral variation). But genetics itself will very much (and provably) have an influence on behavior.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 2 years ago | (#41610805)

So... genetics is known to have no influence on behavior?

There is no evidence for any of that in humans (who are not noticeably genetically diverse to begin with), and no proposed mechanism for such influence other than handwaving.

It's the folks who attribute 100% to either. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609995)

It's ok for genes to predicate athletic ability, but not other abilities or behaviours?

Obviously our genes influence other behaviours. The small minded might not like that, but that's the way it is. Those who cry "racism" do a diservice to humanity in general - the bell curve applies to all populations, and the distribution of genes within a population is widely distributed. Studying how those genes interact is a good thing!

Yes, absolutely,. The problem arises when some folks insist on making it 100% genes or 100% something else, when in fact reality is a subtle combination of all the above.

That's the danger with attributing genes to behavior - you get the asshatery of the racists and folks who don't understand that behaviour isn't determined be genes like say, Sickle cell anemia where if you have the gene you have sickle cell anemia 100% of the time. Many folks think all genes work like sickle cell anemia and completely miss the subtleties of environmental effects on gene expression.

At least that's how I remember the explanation from a geneticist I once met.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610019)

It's ok for genes to predicate athletic ability, but not other abilities or behaviours?

There is strong evidence to suggest that psychopathy / sociopathy is due to brain structure (genes).

If a small set of genetic variation can cause that much of a behavior difference in an individual, I don't see why a large set of genetic variations can't cause a behavior difference in a population.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41610067)

You're absolutely right.

However, I'd caution that predicting athletic ability is a little easier since you can trace the genes directly involved in making a person able to do physical labor. Genetics almost certainly affects just about everything in some form, but the effects are much more indirect in cognitive skills, and direct genetic factors could be completely overwhelmed by other factors.

That said, I also agree that we should not let racism shut down what is, in effect, an empirical truth: people have different genes and those genes cause differing effects. It is even potentially true that certain groupings of humans have disadvantageous genetic makeups for certain tasks. The problem is that the science has to be very careful to ensure that it is understood that such benefits/consequences are due to a specific genetic makeup affecting a specific kind of activity. They must also help maintain awareness that genetic disadvantages may represent challenges, but do not necessarily imply a consistent result.

In short, someone with a congenital disease with a high fatality rate could certainly outlive a genetically healthy child if the genetically healthy child had a parent prone to abusive behavior. Or more to the point, a child with a lower genetic predisposition for analytical thinking, but rigorous training and/or a genetic predisposition to having a stubborn ambition, could out-perform an untrained, and less motivated person who may have a genetic advantage.

Therefore, unless the genetic effects were very significant, I'd say that use of genetics is more a situation where we let a child decide what they want to do, and then help the child understand what the challenges they face, and assess if there is any extra assistance in aiding that child in reaching their goal.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41610205)

Yes, genes influence intelligence and behavior, but environmental factors have a much larger role. Not so with atheletic ability.

Re:Why would that be a surprising conclusion? (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 years ago | (#41611283)

So what you're saying is that all or at least the majority of Olympic athletes came from or were closely related to a long line of people who specialised in the same sport?

I'm gonna need a link there, champ.

Pity Japan --- so homogeneous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609813)

driver's licenses don't even have hair or eye colour --- obviously their genetic diversity is low and their economy must be horribly broken w/ nothing worth exporting.

Re:Pity Japan --- so homogeneous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610031)

driver's licenses don't even have hair or eye colour --- obviously their genetic diversity is low and their economy must be horribly broken w/ nothing worth exporting.

Your mistake is in assuming that hair color and eye color are primary indications of genetic diversity. Despite Japanese cultural belief to the contrary, the people we call "Japanese" are a mix of the Native Japanese, and an assortment of mainland Asian races. The few mostly "pure" blooded native Japanese bear more resemblance to the Natives of South America and the Polynesian peoples than they do to the "Japanese"... who are in reality more similar to the Korean and other "mainland" Asian races.

Poverty is a result of corruption. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41609819)

The numbers make that very clear. The relationship is staring us in the face, but it seems hidden in place sight, because it reveals too much about ourselves as we try to shed blame onto something/someone else. You have to steal from people to impoverish their society.

The study of economics without integrating human psychology is not science. It is more like astrology, and about as accurate.

The desire to dominate one's environment is genetic, however. Nature demands it. It is possible that some cultures confront it differently than others, but the variations are minor, and everything else is a revolves around it. We have the ability for everybody to live like kings right now, this moment, but most kings aren't happy without subservience.

Re:Poverty is a result of corruption. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610195)

Yes, this is the truth. The most economically successful societies like Germany have very high trust and low corruption. America is getting worse as more and more of the economic output is being skimmed off by financial and legal manipulators leaving less and less for the actual producers.

The paper is bunk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41609827)

A country can be very diverse and successful. Consider Canada and Singapore.

A country can be racially pure and successful. Consider Denmark and Switzerland (yes I realize they have four languages but they haven't had any immigration for a long time).

Success is cyclic. Today's world beating country is tomorrow's basket case. The Soviet Union was very diverse. It was one of the world's two super powers. Then it was a basket case. Now a more racially pure Russia climbing out of its hole. Similarly Japan. It is very racially pure. It was one of the strongest economies in the world. Now it appears to be on its way down.

For every example one way, there is an example the other way. The study is bunk.

Re:The paper is bunk (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41610261)

A country can be very diverse and successful. Consider Canada and Singapore.

A country can be racially pure and successful. Consider Denmark and Switzerland (yes I realize they have four languages but they haven't had any immigration for a long time).

Success is cyclic. Today's world beating country is tomorrow's basket case. The Soviet Union was very diverse. It was one of the world's two super powers. Then it was a basket case. Now a more racially pure Russia climbing out of its hole. Similarly Japan. It is very racially pure. It was one of the strongest economies in the world. Now it appears to be on its way down.

For every example one way, there is an example the other way. The study is bunk.

I think this is one of the more cogent responses of the issue. If the thesis of the study is that 'genetic diversity influences economic viability' then you are trying to correlate at least two variables that have had widely disparate values over time and fluctuate on different time scales (hundreds, if not thousands of years for genetics, years for economies). If you did this study 30 years ago when the genetics were probably the same and the economic indicators were different, what kind of result are you going to get.

Actually, I would posit that you could do that with the data set. Just take the genetics data and correlate it with WWI economics. Rinse and repeat.

These researchers were courting disaster (1)

IcyHando'Death (239387) | about 2 years ago | (#41610097)

It doesn't take a genius to foresee the sort of controversy this study might raise in the hands of the media. I'm sure the researchers themselves were very careful and conservative with their conclusions, but using race or genetic data as a proxy for something as easily obtainable as immigration history is just inviting trouble.

Nothing Great is created in a vacuum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610119)

Countries with greater trade become richer, and outmarriages become more common.

DUH

There must be *something* at the bottom. (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 2 years ago | (#41610123)

People don't like to have the concept of their free will undermined. That's why claims like this, true or false, are attacked by many not based on their evidence, but on the consequences of the conclusion. This kind of appeal to consequence is not valid. "X is false, because if it were true, then we wouldn't have free will." The traditional notion of free will is incoherent, and could not be true regardless of whatever studies come out. Unless you believe in immaterial souls (which introduces a whole new set of incoherences) there must be something at the bottom. If it's not genetic determinism (which I doubt), it will be either physical determinism or physical (e.g. quantum) randomness at the bottom deciding every aspect of how the universe propagates, including our decisions. Does this mean we can't have free will? Well if you are talking about the kind of free will that is defined as being uncaused or ungoverned by any lower process, then no we can't have that kind of free will. The question is: Why do we even want that kind of free will? What does it buy us? Everything you feel, experience, and decide is still real, it just doesn't work the way it seems. We can still hold people responsible for their decisions. In fact, it would be crazy not to. I think the biggest reason for pushback against any attacks on the traditional idea of free will is that it undermines the idea that you could have an eternal soul. People are, I dare say, genetically determined, to avoid death. As a thinking species, one of our tools for dealing with death is denial. We don't *really* die. We have eternal life in the next life. See, no need to cry little Suzie, Grandma is in a better place now. We will all see her again one day. It's so tempting to embrace that point of view, especially if you have experienced a life with great hardship and tragedy. But there is literally no good reason to actually believe this if you care, about truth more than comfort, or simply can't tolerate cognitive dissonance.

Re:There must be *something* at the bottom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610473)

It gets into the very essence of freedom.

A: Suppose that you have a date, but on the way to the date there's a car blocking your way, you have to drive a different way and you're late by a couple of minutes.

B: On the other hand, maybe you just realized you REALLY wanted a smoke, so you stop for one. As a result you're late by a couple of minutes.

A is about an obstacle that can be removed. It's about something whose existance makes you less free. That obstacle was whatever made you late to the date. The arguing in B is dangerous, because it sets precedence for arguing that what you want isn't really what you want. When you get there you can argue anything because it ceases to be about what a person seems to want and is instead turned into a question of whether he would REALLY want it, to which his own replies can be disregarded.

I have heard a similar argument from Swedish feminists on prostitution; Any prostitute who claims to want to do what she does does really not want to do what she does and her opinion can be disregarded.

The same can be applied to any "socially questionable" phenomenon. Pornography? Nobody wants it REALLY.

Doesn't scale (1)

biodata (1981610) | about 2 years ago | (#41610245)

Country seems such an arbitrary scale, especially since they vary in size so much. On larger scales this is nonsense, as Africa is the continent with highest human genetic diversity.

Re:Doesn't scale (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 2 years ago | (#41610339)

Africa, really? I would think that would have been America. The melting pot of the world and all that. Essentially, racial lineage diversity is a result of migration and trade. When people have a reason to move vast distances and intermingle with other cultures, births can become of such activity.

More Eugenics, where is the outrage? (2)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41610277)

Sorry, but this is yet another modern version of Eugenics being pushed in to your face. Just like "using DNA to determine future criminals" and "Detecting psychopaths by Tweets".

The people working on these papers expressing opinions like this are dangerous and should be locked up. Yes, it's that simple and yes, the propaganda they are spreading is extremely dangerous. If you don't understand the danger, go read a fucking history book and see what happens when people are convinced that genocide or racial superiority are good things.

Education and Society dictate a persons capabilities. If a person has a good education and ample opportunity, they tend to work for the betterment of the society they received their education in and have the opportunities in. If a person lacks education, how can they better society? If a person has education and no opportunity, what choice do they have other than harming society to survive? (And to usurp any stupid arguments you may have regarding farmers not needing education or some such, you are wrong. Farmers need to know how to be farmers, and need to know how to be content to be the best farmer possible. That requires as much education regarding society as a rocket scientist requires, but of course lacking the sciences required by the rocket scientists.)

This is basic sociology and psychology, with countless historical examples showing both sides of the argument. Hell, Socrates discussed the same thing in "The Allegory of the Artisan" (go read Plato's "The Republic" you lazy bastards!) well over 2 thousand years ago. It's not new, yet we still fall prey to the rhetoric of evil greedy people.

Re:More Eugenics, where is the outrage? (3, Insightful)

claytongulick (725397) | about 2 years ago | (#41610401)

Education and Society dictate a persons capabilities.

Do you have any supporting evidence of this other than a naive "I wish it were like this so it must be so!"

Want to throw out decades of research that support genetic influence of behavior on such diverse issues as alcoholism, personality disorders, etc...

A simple search of scholarly articles will give you plenty of studies conducted on identical twins raised in diverse social and economic situations, that have a genetic predisposition towards specific behaviors.

According to your point, if I had the right education, in the right society, I could be a NFL linebacker, correct?

Absurd.

Re:More Eugenics, where is the outrage? (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 2 years ago | (#41611041)

Naw, hell we have never ever had educated functional societies. History has never recorded anything for us to review, it's all just delusion based just like Carnegie Melon and Rockefeller tell us right?

Sarcasm aside, there is a tremendous amount of research backing my statements. If what I stated was false, we would never have seen a successful black person in America. It would have been impossible, because social opportunity and education would have no bearing on their abilities to move within society. We could say the same about Asians, especially the early Chinese who were not educated in China before migrating.

This statement you made is just plain foolishness. "Want to throw out decades of research that support genetic influence of behavior on such diverse issues as alcoholism, personality disorders, etc..." Sounds like someone is a bigot, and would much rather believe propaganda than understand the facts. Sure sure, alcohol is an addiction we have never seen in any society until recently right? It has to be only based on DNA, and nothing to do with society right? Wrong! Good to see the propaganda is working so my tax dollars are not completely wasted, but perhaps you should go investigate who defines those personality disorders you claim to be influenced by DNA. How about you read symptoms of each alleged disorder.

Let me be very clear regarding the point above. I do believe that mental problems exist. What I take issue with is you painting everything with a single brush, and neglecting the fact that society often plays a role in creating the mental problems. Much more than DNA which is often cited as a single cause when numerous factors including society are possible candidates. There is a nice Hegelian effect to defining new "disorders" and prescribing magic treatments for those "disorders". It's fucked up a whole generation of kids thanks to treatment for "disorders" that until 20 years ago were called "play time" and "puberty". Not every kid in the US has ADHD, but every doctor sure will prescribe you some meds for it, and in fact schools demand it when kids are seen as "over active".

Your last statement is extremely absurd, so you are correct with your last line (though your target was off). Are you really foolish enough to believe that education determines muscle mass? Society actually plays a role, but it's on such a fine level that it's not worth discussing with someone that refutes basic logic with absurd statements like you made.

Re:More Eugenics, where is the outrage? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610727)

The people working on these papers expressing opinions like this are dangerous and should be locked up.

People shouldn't be locked up just for having opinions. In fact, on the scale of dangerous ideas, these papers are nothing compared to what you just wrote in that quote.

RTFA: Correlation != Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41611265)

Did you RTFA? I guess not.

They're not saying that genetics *causes* economic success, merely that it can be used to predict it. The difference is important.

We're only calling them inbred (1)

shurel (2711183) | about 2 years ago | (#41610341)

how is that racist? Seriously though, need a clearer mechanism and fewer confounding factors to establish causation. In other news, Facebook use has been correlated with an increase in national foreign debt.

Academic Exercise, Genoeconomics is bogus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610369)

It's not the genes that determines economics. Lets look at an ECONOMIC MODEL(S) for CHINA, HONG KONG, and TAIWAN. Taiwan and Hong Kong was way ahead of China's economy due to their type of laws. Taiwan was way ahead of China because it's capitalistic form of government and Hong Kong has a very high level of security/safety and business types of structure due to influences from United Kingdom.
Let me list the things that would influence the outcome of economics power:
(1) Investments from Private & Public Sectors [Monies to invest from taxes and investors]
(2) Types of Laws and Regulations
          (2a) Poor Economic [Lack of oversight and lack of regulations, very low tax rates]
          (2b) Economic Power [high taxes=investments, services, & incentives] [lots of oversight and regulations=standards]
(3) Type of language used in the country shapes the behavior and thinking process
(4) The responsibility of Corporations, Billionaires, Millionaires, & Government to look after it's citizens and country. [Ethics, Morale Values]

wow (1)

DaWhilly (2555136) | about 2 years ago | (#41610423)

Why are we arguing about the content of a paper that hasn't yet been released? Why not wait for the paper to come out, read it, then argue about conclusions based on their supporting documentation?

Africa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610447)

Isn't it widely known among geneticists that Africa is the most genetically diverse place on Earth?

Obviously, African countries rule the world in economic strength....

Re:Africa? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 2 years ago | (#41610581)

It is widely known, but not among economists. :-)

Commentors missing the point (2)

mdarksbane (587589) | about 2 years ago | (#41610537)

The authors of the paper come right out and say that they are not arguing for a genetic *cause* to the correlations they measure.

Rather that since genetics and culture are both transmitted along family lines, that genetic diversity within a country is a useful proxy for cultural diversity, and that certain degrees of cultural diversity correlate with improved economic performance.

This has nothing to do with eugenics, and everything to do with a more quantifiable way to study the effect of culture clashes on a country's economy.

Social Darwinism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41610569)

This is nothing more than attempt to co-opt the language of science in order to explain away racism.

'Survival of the fittest' became a socio-political banner cry for Western Europeans in the 1870's who were bent on justifying their violent domination of other's resources and bodies. It was a convenient means of obfuscating the cognitive dissonance between the claim to power on the part of monarch's who had conspired with the Vatican for centuries to justify God-given right to power and the obvious philosophical conflicts with so-called New Testament Christian morality.

It's the same zenophobic basis for Truman dropping nuclear weapons on 200,000+ Japanese civilians in order to demonstrate to the Godless Communists of Russia that the United States was superior.

And underneath this thin veneer of ridiculous prejudice is the laughable assertion that 'economics' is a science. All you have to do is pick up any newspaper and read the business section to understand that this isn't so. Financial activity can be predatory or cooperative, and it is always subject to manipulation at the hands of people whose only goal is to amass wealth utilizing whatever means is at hand. It's complex behavior that takes place within a group with rules that are insufficient to preclude 'unfair' advantage.

Sophisticated people like it that way, and so they concoct elaborate arguments to keep it so.

Only one proposition is valid (1)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | about 2 years ago | (#41610913)

Only one of those 3 propositions is correct :
* infinite growth is possible is a finite world
* economics is a science
* Duke Nukem Forever has been released

The greatest thing that could happen to humanity (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#41611301)

The greatest thing that could happen to humanity is for scientists to find the set of genes that causes excessive greed, xenophobia, anti-social behavior, excessive religiosity and piousness, excessive selfishness , and especially the one that causes people to reject rational evidence in favor of "things that make me feel happy and special" .

Don't tell me there's not a genetic component to any of this, because there is. Women are less greedy, less warlike, less anti-social, more responsible, more cooperative, more egalitarian and fairer by a large measure ON AVERAGE than men. It's not a plot on the part of women to make men look bad.

If we're going to survive, we need to start taking responsibility for what we create. What is created now is something fit for an environment long past- one where destructive weapons and destructive practices only had so much power. Now that power is infinite and the world is populated by people who never evolved to survive their ability to wield that power.

Yeah, this is the most serious challenge facing humanity and in some sense the final challenge. If we don't destroy ourselves first, it's one we have to solve and where we have to go.

Intelligence and racism (0)

kipsate (314423) | about 2 years ago | (#41611335)

We people are not created equal. There are obvious, undeniable visible differences between races such as skin color and facial features. There are also undeniable physical differences between races. Dark people generally more easily develop muscle tissue and are stronger. The world record holder of the 100 meters sprint is and likely always will be a black person. Lighter skinned people have more ability to abstract, invent and plan ahead, skills that contribute to a persons intelligence.

In this time and age of political correctness we do not wish to label an entire race as being "less intelligent" than the other. It feels wrong to label dark skinned people as "less intelligent" than whites. This desire to treat all men as equal with respect of intelligence is exactly the root of the problem. Intelligence so highly regarded in our society that it has become the most important attribute by which we value a person. We see intelligence as a highly desirable property of a human being and the lack of it is looked down upon. Saying that darker skinned people are on the average less intelligent than lighter skinned people is synonymous with saying that dark skinned people are insuperior to light skinned people. Obviously this very wrong and exactly this narrow view is what makes any research on the relation between race and intelligence very uncomfortable and controversial. Scientifically speaking, intelligence is just another inheritable property just like traits such as length, hair color, eye color and of course skin color.

Is there an explanation for light skinned people to be on average more intelligent than dark skinned people? Perhaps there is. To put it really simplistically - in the jungle, whenever you get hungry, you hunt down and kill an animal and you will eat. To survive it is crucial to be fast, strong, agile, and as long as that makes it possible to survive, having the ability to plan or invent is only a small advantage towards survival and creating more offspring. If however the environment becomes more challenging, for instance away from the tropics, there will be seasons to deal with. Food will not be as abundant. Planning ahead for food (for instance by farming) will now be a crucial advantage as well as the ability to design and create tools is. Building proper shelter is more challenging but when done well, again greatly increases chances on survival. In general, further north where the environment is more challenging, the people that planned and invented will have created by far the most offspring. And for some reason skin color changed from dark to light on our path towards the north, making the difference in intelligence a difference in traits, i.e., appearance.

Racism is not the problem, because there are races. However, generalizing is. Regarding any "white" person to be more intelligent and hence superior to any "black" person is a generalization and rightfully offensive and upsetting. There are plenty stupid white people and intelligent black people around to disprove that.

Also I haven't discussed Asians which are in some aspects more intelligent than Caucasians. I haven't discussed jews - some of the biggest scientists ever to have lived on the planet were jews or of jewish descent. Perhaps jews are capable of reaching the highest levels of abstract thinking.

But if we would turn back the clock 100,000 years and be back in the jungle, the ability to run away from a tiger and climb a tree might be a better asset than having an IQ of 105.
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