Progress creeps on

The (generally quite lefty) Chronicle of Higher Ed has come out with a generally sane article on the intellectual fascism in the academia, with political correctness requiring equality of outcomes and identify politics, as well as the self-righteousness of seeing “our side” (the left) as being on the side of the angels, and the other side as evil. Of course, this last is the last stage before an actual shooting civil war (since the other people are evil, it is OK to kill them), but in the meantime leads to a complete breakdown of communication – just as in the (ongoing, as of this writing) Kavanaugh circus, the left’s allegations are primarily not credible because of their avowed “by any means necessary” attitude (these points are not simply philosophical – Blasey Ford came to Dianne Feinstein, not the Committee; Feinstein did not communicate with her colleague or the nominee (which would have given plenty of time for a non-public investigation and, if any truth were found, quiet withdrawal); the  democratic party is NOT perturbed by the extensively documented allegations against their own – Keith Ellison. I could go on).

Getting back to the Chronicle of Higher Ed piece, I was amused to see that the authors still need to sacrifice at the altar of political correctness:

 

Examples of this include the 2017 decisions of two mathematics journals to backtrack after initially accepting a paper on the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis, which asserts that men are overrepresented both among geniuses and among people of very low intelligence.

We emphasize that we are not advocates of the hypothesis; we believe that the distribution of genius is uncorrelated with gender (or race, etc.).

 

(boldface mine). In addition to the well-documented GMVH, there is plenty of completely uncontroversial data on race and gender differences in intelligence (both in the general levels and, particularly important for gender differences, differences in aptitudes for different kinds of skills). The authors (the second of whom is a sociologist) know better, but they are afraid of being pilloried. Sort of like all the “conservative” pundits, who say:

I would never watch Alex Jones. And if I did watch him, I would find him horrible. But still, it is a shame about his deplatforming.

 

The preamble is necessary to stop the listener/reader/watcher from thinking that the author is the kind of a, how to say,… oh, yes – Deplorable person who might watch Alex.

 

So, we are still pretty deep in the woods, and a complete breakdown seems likely, but there are some rays of sunlight shining through the dense PC canopy – more on this in the next post.

A remark on Hill’s work on the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis

Many of us are now familiar with the sad tale of Ted Hill’s encounter with censorship. The article has has caused a furore, and has been discussed at some length in a number of blogs, among them Terry Tao’s, (Sir) Tim Gowers’ in Mathematics, and also in some blogs by self-proclaimed experts in evolutionary biology, among them Reed Cartwright’s and Lior Pachter’s. Cartwright proclaimed the paper “hot garbage”, and Pachter could not wait to agree, and produced several pages of “debunking” of the paper, while also spewing pages of absurd accusations against Igor Rivin (the handling editor of the paper) [to his credit, Pachter stopped short of claiming that Rivin was actually Hitler].

While there is much to be said about the wisdom of trying to justify the unpublishing of a paper peer-reviewed in the accepted way and accepted, this is not the goal of this short post. Instead,  this writer was troubled by the question of whether the paper was, in fact, “hot garbage”. A short session with Dr Google revealed the Heterodox Academy post of a year or so ago (the post was occasioned by the famous Damore memo). While the Heterodox Academy article is very interesting in and of itself (it is mostly concerned with the data supporting the GMVH), what was most interesting was the comment by Rosalind Arden (a researcher at the London School of Economics), which I am taking the liberty of giving in its entirety here (I hope Dr Arden looks kindly upon this pilferage):

Rosalind

What is interesting about this post is that Dr Arden states that the explanation Hill proposes is, indeed, the front-runner in the evolutionary biology community. I then looked at the paper by Rowe and Houle, which, in the framework of the Life History Theory, develops the biological underpinnings in some depth. The paper, as Dr Arden mentions, is in under the rubric of the Lek Paradox. The Lek paradox is the following: in many species, males put on group “plays” (“lek” means play in Swedish) and the more spectacular males get to mate with the ladies, but mate is pretty much all they do, and do not participate in the raising of the offspring. The paradox is that the traits responsible for their good performance should, one might think, become more and more exaggerated (reducing variability), but they do not. Instead, variability increases. The short explanation (in this context) for the lek paradox is that these traits are actually a burden on the animal in other ways, so going too far would actually impede the survival prospects of the animal involved. Variability, however, is just the ticket. In any case, the paper is very interesting, once one gets past the jargon,  and seems to be the culmination of a long search by the authors and other researchers in the field.

In any case, the conclusion is that far from being “hot garbage”, Hill’s model is very sensible (indeed, more than just sensible) from the evolutionary biology perspective, and since the biologists did not actually state an explicit mathematical model, is clearly a contribution to the field, though, perhaps not quite as great a contribution as Hill thought, given that the mechanism is not new. I think that the hot garbage (or at least the egg) is covering the faces of Professors Cartwright and Pachter, who really should be ashamed of themselves.