Steve Sailer discusses genetics’ effect on intelligence and society

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

I just got around to reading Joseph Cotto’s Washington Times interview with Steve Sailer on genetics’ effect on intelligence and society:

If you read history books from 1945 to about 1970, you’ll notice that this “Eugenics caused the Holocaust” meme that we are all so familiar with today is largely absent. This assertion only became popular as the decades passed after the actual events. This sort of spin was largely dreamed up in the 1970s by publicists such as Stephen Jay Gould for their own ends.

For Gould and company, it was a club with which to discredit previous generations of academics and intellectuals, since most progressives (for example, John Maynard Keynes, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells) had been enthusiastic about the potential of eugenics. For instance, the two main founders of Silicon Valley, Fred Terman and William Shockley, were ardent proponents of eugenics.

That doesn’t mean Stanford invaded Poland, however.


Stephen Jay Gould was perhaps the world’s leading expert on a couple of genera of snails. He also possessed a mellifluous prose style, a strong urge to express himself, and a high opinion of his own capabilities. He had a definite knack for telling literary intellectuals what they wanted to hear in the way they wanted to read it. He was not, however, a psychometrician.

Gould offers a striking example of what Freud called “projection:” the tendency to ascribe one’s own flaws to others. Gould constantly denounced other scientists for bias, bigotry, poor math abilities, and inadequate experimental technique.

For example, in his 1981 bestseller The Mismeasure of Man, Gould famously lambasted an obscure 19th century scientist named Samuel Morton for being biased when conducting a study of skull sizes. Finally, in 2011, though, a team of six physical anthropologists replicated Morton’s work (something Gould never got around to doing) and discovered that Morton was more accurate than Gould. A 2011 New York Times editorial concluded:

“Ironically, Gould’s own analysis of Morton is likely the stronger example of a bias influencing results,” the team said. We wish Dr. Gould were here to defend himself. Right now it looks as though he proved his point, just not as he intended.


When looking at different neighborhoods, your real estate agent will explain to you that, all else being equal, the higher the locals students’ test scores, the more expensive the homes. There are a lot of reasons for this, such as that smart neighbors tend to do fewer stupid things like celebrating New Year’s Eve by shooting their guns off in the air.

In 21st Century America, the worst thing about being poor is not that you can’t buy enough stuff, it’s that you can’t afford to get away from other poor people.

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