Category Archives: Intellectualism

Ashkenazi Jews’ IQ: Judaism Itself, The Study Of Talmud, In Particular, Is a High-IQ Activity

History, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Judaism & Jews, Logic, Reason

This article reduces the reason for Ashkenazi Jews’ aggregate, genetically based, high IQ to Jewish exclusion and suffering: “selection events”:

… the frequent pogroms to which Jews were subject in Eastern Europe would have been “selection events” which would have selected for correlates of IQ such as future-orientation, social skill, planning and simply the wealth needed to escape. Thus, Lynn argued that, even though Jewish IQ was high before the Holocaust, it was probably even higher afterwards.

There are other reasons for the high IQ in Ashkenazi Jews predating the pogroms and the Holocaust. These have to do with the substantive nature of Judaism itself, not least the premium put on the study and analysis of scripture and certainly the study of Talmud. (I would argue that even the study of our Tanach, which Rabbi Ben Shapiro has mistakenly called Torah, does the brain good.)

At the secular, Israeli secondary school I attended, not enough Talmud was taught, unfortunately. Still, the process of reasoning, called pilpul, captivated me; it’s marvelous—magic, really.

There is the Socratic Method and there is pilpul—“a dialectical method of Talmudic study, consisting of examining all the arguments pro and con in order to find a logical argument for the application of the Law and at the same time to sharpen the wits of the student.”

The Talmud is calisthenics for the mind, for sure, but also sagacious.

Whittling down Jewish thinking and achievement over thousands of years to oppression-generated genetic mutations during the Middle Ages has its flaws. The article, “Are Jews Smarter?”, in the New York Magazine, puts paid to such reductionism:

To say that the Jews have a history of emphasizing scholarship is not just the fantasy of ethnic chauvinists and Woody Allen fans. To look at a single page of the Talmud is to understand this, with its main text at the center, its generations of rabbis arguing around the rim. The dialectic and critical reasoning are at its core.”

Remember, too, that the young scholar who did mental gymnastics the best got the prettiest girl …

Comments Off on Ashkenazi Jews’ IQ: Judaism Itself, The Study Of Talmud, In Particular, Is a High-IQ Activity

UPDATED IV (4/4/019): Did Stefan Molyneux Fail To Properly Credit Ideas From My Book, ‘Into the Cannibal’s Pot’?

Energy, Ethics, History, Ilana Mercer, Intellectualism, Logic, Morality, South-Africa

The implication in this Southern Poverty Law Center article is indeed that, in a 2015 video, vlogger Stefan Molyneux liberally used the material from my book, “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa,” published in 2011.

The authors at SPLC hate me just as much, so they don’t care to harp on unethical use of material they had traced to me (“Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa”), if there was any. Still, their facts imply that no attribution was made or  direct credit given to me for a Molyneux podcast based on the rather idiosyncratic ideas that came from a chapter in Cannibal titled “APARTHEID IN BLACK AND WHITE: A Strategy for Survival” (pp. 65-70).

Writes the Southern Poverty Law Center:

In 2015 Molyneux published a video wherein he quoted an unnamed historian who claimed that “Apartheid wasn’t an expression of racism but concern over the survival of the white population.” The source for this quote is Ilana Mercer, a paleolibertarian writer and pro-Trump activist. Mercer’s 2011 book, which forms the basis for Molyneux’s YouTube video, is entitled “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa.” The tome received a glowing review from Jared Taylor’s American Renaissance website. “Apartheid was never based on a theory of racial supremacy; rather, it was a survival strategy for the badly outnumbered Boers,” the review reads. This is a mirror image of Molyneux’s sleight of hand: a decontextualized racism is deemed immoral but it is argued that Apartheid makes sense. The real message Molyneux and Taylor are delivering to their audiences is that the application of racial discrimination in South Africa was essential to ensure white survival (read: dominance) and that force and laws should be applied to keep different races apart.

Of course, the ideas in my chapter, “APARTHEID IN BLACK AND WHITE: A Strategy for Survival” (pp. 65-70), are not quite those expressed by the second-handers.

In any event, one gets accustomed to such lowly practices in this business. But if this is indeed true, and Stefan Molyneux had failed to fully credit this author for ideas that are nearly verbatim from “APARTHEID IN BLACK AND WHITE: A Strategy for Survival” (pp. 65-70)—then this is a new low.

Citing one’s sources is the very essence of ethical thinking and writing. If you don’t, you can’t claim to be an ethical thinker, much less a thinker. You lose all credibility.

It’s also so unmanly—and oh so very common. Yuk.

UPDATE I (11/27):

As was said, “Citing one’s sources is the very essence of ethical thinking and writing. If you don’t, you can’t claim to be an ethical thinker, much less a thinker. You lose ALL credibility.”

Ever wonder why Stefan Molyneux, and many men on the so-called hard right (some of whom came well after me), have never asked me (one of the few people who knows the ins-and-outs of apartheid South Africa) on their shows to speak to matters South African (or to any other matters)?

A LOT OF men are simply uncomfortable with certain women. (Hint: Young blondes showcase them better and are easier to best.) As a result, libertarian men (or mini-men) end up mouthing crass, historically wrong, right-wing talking points, on their shows, about my birth place. Coming from libertarians, this laxness is a disgrace.

At least credit your sources if you don’t want to engage the writer! Before Into the Cannibal’s Pot, nobody spoke about South Africa in any meaningful way in the US, other than the praiseworthy WND reporters, and one or two others liberally credited in my book. You see, I cite my sources (primary and secondary) religiously. Again, many of the johnny-come-lately sorts whom the Mini-Men aforementioned (or hinted at) interview on their limited shows speak a load of right-wing crap about South Africa.

Still and all, some ideas are too idiosyncratic to be generic—which is the case with a hell of a lot of what’s in Into the Cannibal’s Pot.

UPDATE II (11/28): “The Art of the Ego: Review of Stefan Molyneux’s Stupid Book”

If you can get past the author’s redundant liberal preening (it sullies a solid piece), Alexander Douglas makes short work of Stefan Molyneux’s short-on-logic book.

… Molyneux’s first few chapters outline some basic principles of logic. His explanation of ‘logic’ is as terrible as you might expect from someone with neither qualifications nor natural talent (see this review). Molyneux is one of these people who thinks that (barely) being able to do the First Figure Syllogism is ‘knowing logic’?—?the logical equivalent of the Astonishing Human Calculator who can add single-digit numbers in mere seconds or Sir Andrew Aguecheek who can speak languages without book. The really telling thing, however, is how Molyneux deals with his own ignorance. …

… Here is what he says about abduction, for example … Now, many people don’t know what abduction is. Nothing wrong with that. And you might find yourself in an exam, where you’re asked to define abduction, and maybe you missed that lecture, or you drifted off, or you just can’t remember. Then you might just write some bullshit, hoping to get a few marks. Perfectly acceptable behaviour. But if you’re writing a book on reasoning, and you remember that abduction is a form of reasoning but you can’t quite remember what it is?—?can you imagine in that circumstance just writing down some bullshit and hoping to get a few marks? Wouldn’t you just google it or something? Imagine being so devoid of intellectual humility. …

… It does help to show that, while logicians have no claim to be any better at informal reasoning than anyone else, there is such a thing as being godawful at informal reasoning. I’m not sure I knew that before looking at this book. But Molyneux is as bad at reasoning as he seems to be at everything else. Yet somehow, through some Dunning-Kruger pathology, he seems to regard himself as good enough to educate others. He is desperately in need of education himself, although I wouldn’t blame you if you preferred to put him ‘through the fist’ (“There are only two ways to resolve disagreements: through The Argument, or through the fist”). …

Myself, I’ve never been able to get through anything Molyneux writes. Other libertarians, systematic thinkers all, have said the same. My favorite, David Gordon, calls Molyneux’s arguments “often preposterously bad.”

“A (Tiny!) Bit More on Molyneux,” also by Alexander Douglas, delves into the problems of logic.

UPDATE III (11/29/018): On crap output and arrogant overreach. As someone who labors over every sentence she puts out (to the best of my abilities, which are respectable but far from infallible), these points, as made by a professional logician, are good.

Alas, and as noted by Tocqueville in the 19th century and Solzhenitsyn in the 20th, conformity of thought and anti-intellectualism are powerfully prevalent among Americans (the kind who follow Stefan Molyneux type Svengalis) .

Molyneux on logic just humiliates himself. And frankly it’s irritating to have spent years of hard study trying to master some elementary logic and then have some pontificating fraud claim the right to lecture others without doing any work at all

An Open Letter on Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux” By Alexander Douglas.

UPDATE IV (4/4/019):

Comments Off on UPDATED IV (4/4/019): Did Stefan Molyneux Fail To Properly Credit Ideas From My Book, ‘Into the Cannibal’s Pot’?

Trump’s List

Intellectualism, Intelligence, Justice, Law, The Courts

Amy Coney Barrett: How can one fail to be impressed by this 46-year-old mother of seven, former Notre Dame law professor and clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia?

Speaking on Fox News (7/5), constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, certainly an intellect, intimated to Jason Chaffetz that none of the justices on Trump’s list quite matches Neil Gorsuch for intellect. Turley sagely advised that the president “choose intellect, not optics.”

As Micky Kaus grumbles, the Federalist Society vets for Roe v. Wade. But do they vet for Flores? Making sure Trump doesn’t pick a Bushesque act-of-love justice seems like Job #1 for border controllers right now.

Ted Cruz and Rand Paul support Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), for reasons they don’t specify. They say he has fine principles. Well, what are Lee’s principles?

Principle is important. So is intellect.

This Washington Post item is crammed with grammatical mistakes. Mismatched subject and verbs, for example. Disgraceful. But here is, “Trump narrows list for Supreme Court pick, with focus on Kavanaugh and Kethledge.”

UPDATED (10/30/018): St. John’s: The Most Rigorous College In America & What Every Young Mind Needs

Education, Human Accomplishment, Intellectualism, Intelligence, Literature, Logic, Technology

According to data reported by Tucker, only 31 percent of Americans who graduate from college can read a complex text/book.

By the same data’s telling, American kids are the dumbest in the developed world (facts I was reporting 14 years ago, already. In addition to the two hyperlinks provided, click “Education” to go back in time).

While our kids know less and less, their grades are only getting higher. The vaunted GPA is meaningless, except to give an idea of a student’s grades in relation to the inflated marks of his peers.

The most common grade given (the statistical mode?) in American college courses is an … “A.” “Forty-three percent of all letter grades are As.”

An exception to the rule is St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico (there is a Campus in Annapolis, MD, too), whose core curriculum is centered around what we call The Western Canon:

The great books (and works of art and music) upon which nobody contemporary has improved. (Everybody needs to be humbled by these works. I recently read some Plato abbreviated, after which I felt very small indeed. It’s all been said and thought-out before by the Greats. For example, an insight articulated and carefully thought-out in Into The Cannibal’s Pot; it was there. Plato said it already. Of course I was chuffed; it felt good. But how sad that this heritage—and with it the humility that comes with a recognition of true genius—is not being handed down.)

The video begins 4:22 minutes into the Tucker segment. (Tucker is a gem. The only gem on Fox News.)

St. John’s College admits only 800 and is producing the renaissance men and women of America.

ALL “freshmen must learn ancient Greek. ALL seniors struggle with quantum physics, along the way, as do they have to grapple with calculus, learn how to do differential equations, study Hegel and Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Adam Smith.”

“St. John’s is sailing against every trend in American higher education.”

Their “students read 200 serious books over the course of their education.”

Only 800 students qualify in admission and all must undergo this rigor.

This is the traditional liberal arts education that our greatest minds (thinkers, scientists, Founding Fathers) would have undergone 100 plus years ago. (Was not Thomas Jefferson a scientist and a philosopher and an all-round genius? Indeed he was.)

It’s an all-required curriculum. Everyone is required to take courses of equal rigor. There are no majors, no minors. No hiding. No skewing the grades Bell Curve.

Minds thus enriched can go on to become whatever they want, having been given the intellectual wherewithal to think, and the tools to both appreciate intellectual history, draw on it and from it.

American education is an exercise in egalitarian idiocy. In my opinion, educational egalitarianism and idiocy does the greatest harm to the gifted child.

And isn’t that the aim? To give all children the feeling they are equally gifted?

Ultimately, wonderful young minds should not be abandoned to the evaluation standards of what are mostly sub-intelligent, near-illiterate educrats, who’ve been disseminating dumbed-down subject matter, in institutions of “learning” in which everyone is a winner.

UPDATED (10/30/018): Rotting young minds. 

And when I refused to partake in mobile-device mania I was called a Luddite (backwards). When I tell friends their kids (essentially) don’t know how to READ; I am dismissed.

See: “‘Screens are Poison’: Tech Elites Keeping Devices Out of Their Children’s Schools

Comments Off on UPDATED (10/30/018): St. John’s: The Most Rigorous College In America & What Every Young Mind Needs