The Persistence of Bad Ideas

The old line about a lie being halfway around the world before the truth is out of bed is a keen observation, but it also suggests something about the nature of lies. That is, a lie that gets around has some appealing quality to it. The reason it spreads so quickly is people want to believe it. There’s something about it that ticks all the right boxes. As a result, even smart and skeptical people, not only want to believe it, but they want to help everyone else believe it. Some lies turn everyone they touch into willing accomplices.

Bad ideas are like that too. For some reason, people want to believe them, even when it really makes no sense to believe them. For example, most people still think your diet can have a significant impact on your health. That if you eat fatty foods, you will have a heart attack. At the extremes this is true, but most disease is genetic. When it comes to heart disease, diet has nothing to do with it. The same is true of things like cholesterol levels, where there is little data to support a link between “bad” cholesterol and heart disease.

Part of what drives the persistence of bad ideas is they seem to address a need among modern people to believe in free will. As the human sciences build the case that we are the product of our genetic coding, the need to believe we can overcome that by force of will becomes stronger. Therefore, if you have a family history of heart disease, you want to believe eating unpleasant food, like some form of preemptive penance, will ward off the reality of your genetic makeup. Your diet becomes a moral issue for you.

The concept of epigenetics seems to be following a similar path. It is becoming this catchall idea that lets people ignore what we know, in favor of speculative nonsense that has no supporting data. This set of long posts on the Arktos site the other day are a good example of the phenomenon. The argument from the author is that epigenetics is proving that experiences can be passed onto subsequent generation through a biological process, just as genetic traits like eye color are passed on from parent to child.

The author is picking up on something Oswald Spengler argued. That is, the land of a people shapes their sense of identity, how they see themselves and their purpose. This in turn shapes their culture. The author of the Arktos piece thinks science is proving that these collective cultural experiences as a people are shared, but also passed on to subsequent generations via the miracle of epigenetics. He points to some papers on the subject and this study on the children of holocaust survivors.

The original definition of epigenetics¹ is the study of how genes are expressed, from a biological perspective. Your DNA contains instructions for determining your eye and hair color, for example, but it also contains instructions for more subtle things like personality traits. You inherit your DNA from your parents. Epigenetics refers to ways in which those genes are turned on and off. Genes are the blueprint for creating proteins, while epigenetics is the study of how genes are read.

The way in which epigenetics is used here and in popular writing is the claim that your experiences can somehow be passed onto your children. This is complete nonsense and there is no evidence to support it. You cannot pass on your experiences to your off-spring through any known biological processes. This nutty idea was cooked up by left-wing agitators so they could claim victim-hood by proxy. Their ancestors were treated poorly, so they are now suffering from the same effects, as part of their biological inheritance.

To now put this bad idea to use in the name of race realism or the moral philosophy of Oswald Spengler is amusing, but every bit as a nutty. As Greg Cochran once put it, this line of reasoning is like saying if you chop off a cat’s tale, it’s kittens will be born without tales. There’s simply no known biological process for passing on experiences or learned behavior. In fact, the changes to how your genes are read as a result of environmental factors are reset in the zygote. In other words, you can’t pass on your experiences.

Now, the author of the Arktos piece is probably a nice guy with good intentions. His background is history and theology, so he can be forgiven for not understanding the human sciences part of this. That raises the question of why epigenetics is so attractive an explanation for someone without math or science. Why embrace something about which you know nothing? The obvious answer is it supports his main point, but another aspect of it is that old need to believe in free will. We are not just moist robots.

In this way, bad ideas are like great salesmen. The bad idea always flatters the person willing to believe it. Pitchmen and motivational speakers have relied on flattery since forever, because people like being flattered. The flattery of free will is that you, unlike the rest of those slobs out there, control your destiny. The promise of epigenetics is that your decisions today will alter the lives of generations to come, because your decisions will be passed onto them, whether they like it or not. You are a god.

Of course, it also suggests something about the future. Many think that the unriddling of the human genome will usher in an age of reason. The fact that our theological overlords have suddenly become evangelical opponents of the human sciences, while embracing things like epigenetics, suggests otherwise. Belief is powerful magic, that has always found a way to override factual reality. That’s probably the main reason bad ideas are like drug resistant viruses. They make it easy to avoid facing reality.

¹I’m not writing a biology textbook here, so if you’re tempted to sperg out on the science, restrain yourself. This is not a post about science.

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Babe Ruthless
Babe Ruthless
1 year ago

So we’re all NPC’s. Great, absolutely fucking great.

JZs
JZs
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

I was fortunate enough to read Edwards “The Freedom of the Will” when I was a young lad. Determinism is our lot. I’m comfortable with that conclusion. Why am I comfortable with that conclusion? Because for “ME” my sentiment here must be so necessarily. Get it?

JZs
JZs
Reply to  JZs
1 year ago

Hard to swallow for most but true: : https://www.edge.org/response-detail/27067

Alzaebo
Alzaebo
Reply to  JZs
1 year ago

JZs, I am a stupid dog- too stupid to know that doggies are not allowed to jump over the fence. I intend to jump that ridiculous fence anyways, the childish axiom of “Why Science and Religion are Incompatible”. Religious science is currently where medical sciences were in the 5th century, that is, in the Dark Ages. Neither priests nor professors know what, as in what it is, that they are talking about. Time for a new framework, a practical, quantifiable, verifiable union of science and religion. The older frameworks have reached their limit, unable to deal with our modern environment… Read more »

JZs
JZs
Reply to  Alzaebo
1 year ago

Alzaebo, I’m no atheist. And certainly have no desire to live in a world governed by them. I come from a reformed presbyterian background. My break with that tradition came from wrestling with the problem of evil and free will from a biblical perspective. The Bible claims that God made man in his image and perfect. But how could perfect man fall? Because he made a decision to disobey God? But God made him perfect, no? God gave him free will some will say. But that makes no sense given free will is none existent. So the will according to… Read more »

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  JZs
1 year ago

The Bible claims that God made man in his image and perfect. Nope. The word “perfect” appears nowhere in Genesis. As to “God created man in His own image” it’s obvious that the meaning there is something other than “identical to” because none of us is an all-powerful deity. We weren’t made perfect. Now, God may indeed be omniscient and know everything that will befall each one of us. However, if you accept the idea that God made us for a reason, it’s entirely possible to think that this existence — the death, the grief, the joy, the triumph, the… Read more »

JZs
JZs
Reply to  Vizzini
1 year ago

God made man in His image and it was good (in a moral sense, which to my mind is perefect in the sense God desired). Some claim this implies God gave man so called free will to choose either obedience or disobediece, which I believe was Augustine’s view. That view of a dualistic “good” creation is patently ridiculous. So God’s “ good” creation does not possess a causal inclination towards Him anymore than Satan? Edwards obliterated any causal chain in an origin of this description. At best this state of mans origin can be laid to mystery, not known fact.… Read more »

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  JZs
1 year ago

Just to clarify terms, how would you define free will, and what would be an empirical test of whether someone was exercising it?

JZs
JZs
Reply to  Vizzini
1 year ago

This might come off as a paradoxical answer but I think every act a person does is freely done according to their underlying nature. There is a causal chain in other words. It’s just that the causal chain isn’t known in its fullness by anyone. I don’t get hung up on WHY I act as I do. For example what part of ME brings thoughts into my head? What exactly is ME in a non material sense? I’m conscious of what might be called the end products of thoughts and actions in myself. Not sure of the antecedents to these… Read more »

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  JZs
1 year ago

Bah. This is standard, low-grade determinism thinking. Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t punish criminals. We should—in order to remove them from society when they’re dangerous, reform them so they can rejoin us, and deter others from apeing bad behavior. But we shouldn’t imprison people as retribution—for making a “bad choice.” And of course we should still reward people, because that rewires their own brains, and those of onlookers, in a way that promotes good behavior. We can therefore retain the concept of personal responsibility for actions, but reject the idea of moral responsibility, which presumes that people can… Read more »

Rod1963
Rod1963
Reply to  Babe Ruthless
1 year ago

Yep just meat machines. You could give your first born to Charles Manson to raise and he’d turn out just as well as if you raised him.

Culture doesn’t matter, parenting doesn’t matter, none of it does.

Might at as well just do a collective suicide and get it over with. Because nothing is worth fight for or even doing.

Lineman
Lineman
Reply to  Rod1963
1 year ago

Hey Rod I’m down in your area for business if you want to get together for coffee let me know…

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  Lineman
1 year ago

Apparently he really doesn’t have a choice as to whether he meets you for coffee or not.

Lineman
Lineman
Reply to  Vizzini
1 year ago


Lol…Humor is needed in these latter days…

Babe Ruthless
Babe Ruthless
1 year ago

“Our theological overlords have suddenly become evangelical opponents of the human sciences.”

Oh, trust me, they’re going to doublethink right through that. They’re going to be writing articles slamming genetic determinism while on the plane to secret clinics in China to concoct their designer babies.

It’s going to be the 21st-century equivalent of left-wing judges doing everything they can to make public schools shitty and dangerous, then sending their kids to fancy private schools.

DeBeers Diamonds
DeBeers Diamonds
Reply to  Babe Ruthless
1 year ago

I won’t hide my sympathies for “Lamarckian feedback” as a non-scientist. Whatever the scientific merits, I personally despise the so-called Neo-Darwinists that are promoted as way of undermining Christianity. If it takes lunatic gender theory leftism to knock the smugness off of the Dawkins, Myers, Nye, and DeGrasse Tysons of the world; I’m willing to accept the collateral damage.

Alzaebo
Alzaebo
Reply to  DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

Dawkin’s PC attitude almost made me forsake atheism.

bpromethiusb
bpromethiusb
Reply to  DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

that’s hitting the nail on the head DBD. Dawkins sanctimonious pontification is revolting. i would add Daniel Dennett to the list.

it might amuse you all to hear that my 12 year old son is begin fed Lamarckian theory at the Baptist school we are asking to help educate him. i’ve yet to figure out how that fits and forms an advantage to the fundamentalist Christian worldview. i’d love to hear any thoughts on that…

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  bpromethiusb
1 year ago

The most smug people in the world are biology teachers. Spent half my lifetime with them.

Jellyfish
Jellyfish
Reply to  bpromethiusb
1 year ago

I thought Lamarckianism (what I think Mr. Z terms epigenetics) was disproven over a century ago. The idea that if I cut off Fido’s tail, that Fido’s puppies will be tail-less, is self-refuting. And it just goes to show that no bad idea, however self-evident, ever dies, but just waits around for a new generation of rubes to discover it.

Tykebomb
Tykebomb
1 year ago

“If you chop off a cats tale, its kittens will be born without tales.”

Is this a typo or a brilliant turn of phrase about inherited victimhood?

Doctor Right
Doctor Right
Reply to  Tykebomb
1 year ago

Our friends have been chopping off foreskins since the Bronze Age. You think they’d wonder why they still have foreskins at birth.

Juri
Juri
Reply to  Tykebomb
1 year ago

I would call it a college education. Hey hey, hey ho, cat,s tails must grow.

DLS
DLS
Reply to  Tykebomb
1 year ago

I can spot typos from 50 yards, but I did not catch that. Very clever!

roo_ster
Member
1 year ago

Likely the second best defense against most Bad Ideas coming down the pike is a strong belief in a Good Idea. GKC’s Father Brown character summed it up: “It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose your common sense.” [_The Oracle of the Dog_ (1923)] “You hard-shelled materialists were all balanced on the very edge of belief — of belief in almost anything.” [_The Miracle of Moon Crescent_ (1924)] For my own part, belief in the Almighty does provide quite an anchor when the Bad Idea du jour bursts like a pustule upon the consciousness of… Read more »

DLS
DLS
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

“Belief is most likely one of man’s earliest evolved traits…” This is one of my arguments in favor of the existence of God. How does Darwinian evolution explain that a species’ survival is enhanced by centering it’s beliefs and actions around a falsehood. The Darwinian argument is usually that faith helps us deal with the knowledge of our impending deaths. But certainly the evolution of a truthful coping mechanism would be much more efficient. Unless of course God is truth.

bpromethiusb
bpromethiusb
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

belief in ridiculous things come at a cost, but it demonstrates that one is willing to incur that cost, and is therefore welcome in the group. leftists seem to be spiraling on this trait – more and more virtue signaling of progressively more ridiculous ideas – the cost of purity for retaining group membership.
kind of like a balding guy in a $200K Ferrari planning on picking up 20-something gold diggers. grotesque, but mysteriously works sometimes.

DLS
DLS
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

No, there have been many examples of religious symbols and gods that people through the ages have attached their faith to that have been shown to be false by science. However, these examples still reflect the universal yearning for a higher power that permeates every culture we have ever studied. That yearning is so strong it forms the center of existence for the majority of humans. The fact that different religions choose imperfect symbols to express their faith in a higher power does not negate that this phenomenon makes no sense from an evolutionary perspective, unless there is a god.

Alzaebo
Alzaebo
Reply to  DLS
1 year ago

A much better word than “beliefs” is “guidelines”.

No, we’re not born to believe a this or a that, but to form guidelines, mental maps of probability. That is what’s universal.

Member
Reply to  roo_ster
1 year ago

You want a prophylactic? Run up the swastika and proclaim, “Here I stand! God help me, I can do no other!”

Pursuvant
Pursuvant
1 year ago

A complex brain in a complex body in a complex environment, doing exactly what you would expect it to do – it runs moderately parallel. Your attention is lucky if it gets presented with 1 in 5 voluntary decisions before they are made by those “other thought threads”. Brains spend lots of time running on autopilot.

What decisions do get made by conscious attention or otherwise, they become cause and effect in a world, and those effects hit everybody with the consequences, especially your kids. Inherited bad ideas ? Not hardly.

You made choices with your IQ, now eat them.

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
1 year ago

The belief in Lysenkoism will never die on the Left, it’s just too useful. They keep changing the name, but the belief remains.

Al from da Nort
Al from da Nort
Reply to  Toddy Cat
1 year ago

T. C.;
Yes. One (of many) crazy things about this topic is that Progs. oppose the death penalty (it’s really not his fault_!).

The ultimate sanction of actual Darwinism *and* Lysenkoism is not reproducing. So if you really believe that bad behavior passed down, the only way to stamp out bad behavior is to prevent it from being passed down.

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

We seem to be doing a good job of that (not reproducing) lately.

dad29
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

…or you could do it Hitler’s way–the gas chambers. That was given the stamp of approval by Oliver Wendell Holmes (albeit Holmes was careful to mask his assent) and of course by Margaret Sanger–a great admirer of Hitler.

Al from da Nort
Al from da Nort
Reply to  dad29
1 year ago

dad; Just to be clear, I don’t endorse any sort of precautionary elimination, contra to the villains you cite who did. What I *am* saying is that a pretty obvious (after all, that’s how I came up with it) logical consequence of the view that either we have zero free will *or* that we’ll pass on our bad (anti social) behavior invariably to our descendants. Under either moral framework, precautionary elimination it would seem to be a civic duty, just like those villains held it to be. After all, even the tree-hugging DNR’s hereabouts are fine with putting down any… Read more »

dad29
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

I did not think YOU believed in cleaning up the species! I merely showed where it leads.

Pixels are difficult to work with.

You’re correct: we have the free will necessary and get to make choices–and yes, I think Western Civ is in danger.

David_Wright
Member
1 year ago

All I got out of this is a rationalization for Z to continue unabated on his hamburger diet.

Al from da Nort
Al from da Nort
Reply to  David_Wright
1 year ago

But what about bacon_?

Member
1 year ago

When confronted by the reality of the burgeoning science of genetics, you knew something had to give over on Lefty’s side. Either Lefty would admit defeat…or make a new “scientific” discovery! So Lefty seems to be moving to a new piece of ground on which to defend his blank slate theory, (his “all in all”). Naturally, the media will give Lefty all the cover he needs.

DeBeers Diamonds
DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

Repost from yesterday, the most important part of the Quilette gatekeeper

“Back when evolution was under attack from proponents of Biblical Creation and Intelligent Design, academic scientists were under no pressure to hold back criticism. This is because these anti-evolution movements were almost exclusively a product of right-wing evangelicals who held no power in academia”

No power, no power, no power. And that’s what the Intellectual Dork Web believes we deserve. To appropriate a leftist phrase, “representation matters”. Affirmative action for fundie profs.

Member
Reply to  DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

Heh. To use a legal term, Lefty says we have no “standing.”

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Nobody wants to admit it, but this Left hatred of whatever normal people like was behind a lot of the 1980’s – 1990’s Jihad against smoking. Yeah, smoking tobacco can be bad for you, but the campaign against it verged on the hysterical; besides, lots of research indicates that smoking weed is even worse, but somehow we never hear Lefties expatiating on the hazards of that, because weed is considered to be subversive of normal white culture (whether this is still true or not is another matter). We won’t even get into Lefty attitudes on health hazards like promiscuous gay… Read more »

Severian
Reply to  Toddy Cat
1 year ago

Frankly, this is why I am 100% in favor of pot legalization, any amount, for any purpose, anywhere — maybe then the goddamn stoners will finally shut! the f*ck! up!! about it. A guy who spends his 24/7 enthusing about how much he loves alcohol is a skid row bum; a guy who does the same with pot is the Libertarian Party chairman. Legalize it!!!

Al from da Nort
Al from da Nort
Reply to  Severian
1 year ago

Sev;
Come on, you know that they will just move on to another self-destructive cause that allows them to feel superior, no matter how bad for others or stupid it is.

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

Al, at some point I simply get curious about what it is they will come up with next. Does their cupboard ever get bare?

Severian
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

Al, of course. But… you can’t OD on pot. There’s a long game here, my friend. 😉

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  Al from da Nort
1 year ago

They have not yet found a cause sufficiently self-destructive: they’re still there. But I keep hoping.

Calsdad
Calsdad
Reply to  Severian
1 year ago

I don’t really care about the legalization of it one way or another – but what I do want to get back to , is a culture where smashing your car into my car while you’re stoned/drunk/high/whatever – it likely to lead to you getting your head cracked open. When I started driving back in the 80’s – driving drunk was not necessarily acceptable – but it was common. What was also common was the likelihood of getting a beatdown if you drove drunk and smashed into somebody else’s vehicle. Life simply doesn’t work correctly without consequences. And consequences in… Read more »

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  Calsdad
1 year ago

And, correspondingly, the price to excuse their consequences shouldn’t be coming out of my pocketbook — my tax money paying their Medicaid hospital expenses.

Calsdad
Calsdad
Reply to  Vizzini
1 year ago

The left has based it’s entire worldview on making sure that their consequences are paid for by somebody else.

This is why I keep going back to concentrating on the financial machinations undertaken by our government at all levels.

This stupidity isn’t funding itself.

Lineman
Lineman
Reply to  Calsdad
1 year ago

The left has based it’s entire worldview on making sure that their consequences are paid for by somebody else…
Definitely agree on that, problem is a quite a few on the right end of the spectrum have that view as well…

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  Calsdad
1 year ago

Calsdad, you totally nailed it on that one. A really awful and selfish way of going about things, central to an entire world view.

DeBeers Diamonds
DeBeers Diamonds
Reply to  Toddy Cat
1 year ago

The recent “wine aunt” meme touches on the fact that middle aged women are consuming far more alcohol than before. But it escapes cultural shaming. The GOP Congress actually gave the alcohol industry a tax cut last year. The reality is that oncoming Medicaid insolvency means a major tax hike is unavoidable.

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

Yeah, because Our Betters drink wine. Beer and whiskey, on the other hand, are for deplorables.

DeBeers Diamonds
DeBeers Diamonds
Reply to  DeBeers Diamonds
1 year ago

YMMV, but the leftists at this think tank can’t be making the whole thing up. Anyone recall where Sen. McCain (BIH) got the money he married into from???

https://www.brookings.edu/research/who-benefits-from-the-craft-beverage-tax-cuts-mostly-foreign-and-industrial-producers/

Corn
Corn
Reply to  Toddy Cat
1 year ago

I’m not a smoker, never have been… but it’s always puzzled me why smoking tobacco is seen as low class or trashy but smoking marijuana is, if not encouraged, more acceptable.

Severian
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

My definition of Leftism’s core dogma is “Reality is always wrong.” Combine that with the definition of Leftist politics — the desperate struggle to somehow, someway, **finally** make high school turn out the way it should’ve — and you’ve got Postmodern America right there.

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  Severian
1 year ago

“Reality is always wrong”. I realized last night that a huge portion of the people in this country are completely vested in the “Mueller will take down Trump” concept. Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Maybe Trump will wrongly be taken down by Mueller, and maybe Trump will get away with things he shouldn’t. In the kaleidoscope of fake news and ideas attached to agendas, who can tell what is real any more? A reasonably intelligent person would remember that any scenario is possible, including the one that if big things happen in DC, it may have no effect at… Read more »

NITZAKHON
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Very similar to Sowell; paraphrasing… “How can one of the Elites prove they’re Elite if they believe what the common man believes?”

Spot on. If the common man loves America, the Elites must hate America to differentiate themselves. Believe in G-d? Ditto. Abortion is murder? Ditto. Gender is an XX or an XY? Marriage is one man – one woman? Ditto.

Alzaebo
Alzaebo
Reply to  NITZAKHON
1 year ago

Ditto! It’s why our Betters, the bluenose Progressives, the public puritans, banned marijuana too.

(And drinking, and gambling, and cathouses, and smoking, all the things natural to a man and in accord with the Tenth Amendment)

James LePore
Member
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

I foresee a future where a Council of Perverts will be the ultimate arbiter of what is true. It will sort out the opposing claims of all the officially recognized identity groups. It’s decisions will not be appealable.

Utopia at last:

https://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=189515&sec_id=189515

DeBeers Diamonds
DeBeers Diamonds
Reply to  James LePore
1 year ago

Council?

Pope Tim Cook would never settle for anything less than absolute power.

Whitney
Member
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

I’m not watching “the funeral” but I just had a client bring it up and she was filled with Maudlin sentimentality. It makes me sick these people that destroyed the culture now are so sorry it’s gone. Hypocrites

Chaotic Neutral
Chaotic Neutral
1 year ago

“We are not just moist robots.” Great line! My reading of the arc of German philosophy from Kant to nietzche is an effort to salvage the idea of god or the spirit in the face of ever encroaching mechanistic science. Each philosopher seeks the interstices of the universe where god may still be hiding, until with nietzche there is finally the conciliation “god is dead!” I had some sperginess, but I will just say that I would be wary of the arguments against the link between heart disease and fats. There is still an overwhelming consensus in favor. Just from… Read more »

Severian
1 year ago

“Studies” like this are the gospel in the clownier parts of the academic clown quarter, as they “prove” that “systematic racism” is real — Dontarrious is failing out of high school because his great-great-great-great grandfather was a slave. I used to say “holy Lamarck, Batman!” but nobody with a Humanities PhD has ever heard of Lamarck. Fun times. One wonders when they’ll begin openly advocating positive eugenics, to breed the rayciss out of us.

Primi Pilus
Primi Pilus
Reply to  Severian
1 year ago

No need to advocate — they’re already DOING it … see Global War on Terror and its (Obama directed) follow-on: Overseas Contingency Operations. Who fights and dies?

Joshinca
Joshinca
1 year ago

This sounds like a rehashing of Lysenkoism.

Amazing how people keep returning to discredited ideas. What’s next, phrenology?

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Well…Lilek had some old crimes on his Bleat this week. One was an attractive woman who grifted, cheated, and committed murders now and again. The newspapers of the day (the 1920s or thereabouts) even published her head shot as a photo, when photos were rarely put in the papers. There was never any doubt she did any of it. But she kept getting let off, including by a judge who cited phrenology to justify letting her out—“her head shape says she wouldn’t do these sorts of things”.

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  Dutch
1 year ago

I’m sure that her head had something to do with it, but possibly not related to phrenology…

Maus
Maus
Reply to  Joshinca
1 year ago

We have already returned to a sort of phrenology. CH and the denizens of his blog propound a theory that the face reveals the inner woman or man. Thus “lawyercunts” have “man jaws” and “soy boys” have soft round faces and open, “glory hole” mouths. It’s amusing, but hardly scientifically creditable.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  Maus
1 year ago

I, too have thought about how silly that is, but I’ve also never been able to find a good, decent wife and mother with a man jaw.

Screwape
Screwape
1 year ago

The leftist affair with “science” is part alchemy and part con game. What persists, much like the program guarded within our genes, is the timeless appeal of gaining something from nothing. Many old books, take the Bible for example, fixate on a set of human frailties that invite and propagate the lies of the confidence men. The idea of lead into gold relies on just enough truth to tickle ones propensity toward greed, i.e. the similar nature of lead and gold: even when the methodology of science refutes this nature, the twinkle of possibility is maintained by the religion of… Read more »

dad29
Reply to  Screwape
1 year ago

“Something from nothing.”

Does “fusion energy” strike a bell? Same scam, different science.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  dad29
1 year ago

Makes sense on paper. But if it is ever achieved it will be one of those “ye shall be as gods” moments.

TomA
TomA
1 year ago

Science terminology, like many aspects of current society, is being misused by the practitioners of memetic indoctrination. Common folk have no inherent understanding of a highfalutin term like epigenetics (which has impressive phonetics) and therefore are inclined to give more credence than deserved. No one uses a dictionary anymore and charlatans love to bamboozle the ignorant with nonsense definitions. In a healthy society, charlatans are discouraged or disdained. Nowadays, they become internet stars. That suggests more about the nature of the audience than the continued existence of outlier scam artists.

Joshinca
Joshinca
1 year ago

There could be something to the effect they are observing and describing as “epi-genetics” in that a predisposition to environmental factors could be genetic. They are of course confusing cause and effect, which they almost always do.

Al from da Nort
Al from da Nort
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Z;
The ‘reset to factory specs’ *does* make a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective (prevents the waste of carrying zygotes with unsurvivable mutations to term). But it *also* tends to open the question of how ‘the engine of Darwinism’ (incorporation of beneficial mutations into the genetic line) can operate.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

The reset in the zygote makes a lot of sense given the fact that gonadal elements are formed in embryonic development before any personal experience ever takes place. In men at least there is also a blood brain barrier equivalent in the testicle between the sperm forming elements and the rest of the body. Anything that is over a certain molecular weight doesn’t get in. Hard to make a case for experiences to be passed on.

House of Pancakes
House of Pancakes
1 year ago

“If you chop off a cat’s tale, its kittens will be born without tales.”

More like, the kittens will be born with plenty of tales, most importantly “The Tale of how the evil goyim chopped off our mama’s tail, so now they have to pay us infinity reparations for all eternity, plus we cats get to terraform human society to suit the whims of us cats.”

Dollars to donuts this whole pseudoscientific fad is simply being used to prep a battle space, to lay the groundwork for making sure Whitey never, ever stops paying good cash money for the Slaveocaust.

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  House of Pancakes
1 year ago

The genetic version of “climate science”.

James_OMeara
Member
1 year ago

Back when he was a real philosopher and not a New Atheism shill, D. Dennett wrote a paper called “Why the law of effect won’t go away.” From Watson to Skinner and beyond, it keeps getting proposed and then refuted, and then “reformulated” and re-refuted. Why? Because, Dennett argues, even though false, it’s the only way to have a completely materialistic psychology. If not the Law of Effect (eg, Skinner’s operant conditioning) then there’s some kind of vital spirit, will, soul, etc. intervening. So although empirically false, it’s a necessary presupposition for materialistic science. Dennett of course agrees, but at… Read more »

dad29
Reply to  James_OMeara
1 year ago

Yup. “No free will” supposes that a human being is mechanical; a mere collection of atoms,. It also leads to the conclusion that obeying traffic laws is in the genetic code. Uh-huh.

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Random number generators are rarely, if ever, random. Just unpredictable. Most of them operate using some algorithm that produces a large irrational number, like pi, and some “seed” number that influences where in the irrational number’s digit sequence the random number generator will start. Good generators pick unpredictable values out of the operating environment — mouse movement, etc. — to generate the seed value(s) and use varying algorithms to make the initial starting conditions hard to replicate. But, like any equation, if you know the values that are being fed in, the values coming out are fixed.

Vizzini
Member
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Just that the appearance of randomness is deceiving. Maybe you knew all that, but not everyone does. Perhaps we shouldn’t always accept the results as random, depending on how important that number is, what we’re going to do with it, and who is behind the algorithm (God? The Devil? The government? Pick your situation.). Your life is pretty important; your life may not be absolute Calvinist determinism, but it also might not be completely random. Examining your life, looking for patterns isn’t always a bad way to go, though I’m sure it can be overdone if you find yourself in… Read more »

Pursuvant
Pursuvant
Reply to  dad29
1 year ago

“No free will” is a provocative overstatement to upset the theological. It overstates simple truth that brains run voluntary thoughts in parallel, and our conscious attention is not directed at every voluntary thought the brain raises.

It’s a phrase being used against us. Seven billion people should agree, it really does feel like something to have free will. I can’t shake it, nor do I want to.

Kevin Balch
Kevin Balch
Member
1 year ago

Epigenetics is cited for the transmission of trauma of holocaust survivors to their descendants. So we will never run out of holocaust survivors.

Tim
Tim
Member
1 year ago

If your heart says Stalin, your brain will say Lysenko.

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  Tim
1 year ago

I want a bumper sticker!

bilejones
Member
1 year ago

Epigenetics has suddenly reared its head so that another generation of Jews can continue the HoloHoax victim scam.

It’s not rocket science

Toddy Cat
Toddy Cat
Reply to  bilejones
1 year ago

No doubt, but never underestimate the desire of our dusky brothers to keep the gibs coming. There are at least a few Holocaust survivors still alive, but slavery – not so much. Hence the coming “Deshontay stuck up a Pick-n-Pack because his Great-Grandpa was a slave” meme

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  Toddy Cat
1 year ago

Naming a kid Deshontay is a form of epigenetics itself.

James_OMeara
Member
1 year ago

“That raises the question of why epigenetics is so attractive an explanation for someone without math or science. Why embrace something about which you know nothing? The obvious answer is it supports his main point, but another aspect of it is that old need to believe in free will. We are not just moist robots.” He doesn’t “know nothing” about epigenetics (at least if he really read the studies he cites). He’s not making a random assertion. Laymen on juries are asked to evaluate rival scientific claims all the time. A certain sort of person demands people “be scientific” all… Read more »

Maus
Maus
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

In point of fact, juries do not evaluate legal claims. They are instructed by the judge as to the law they must apply. Juries evaluate evidence. They are fact finders, choosing which facts have been creditably established by the evidence presented by the parties to the case. One type of evidence is the opinion of scientific experts on such matters as DNA identification, ballistics, toxicology, cause of death etc. Jurors must determine whether the facts as they have determinrd them are relevant to one or the other of often conflicting scientific opinions. It is also worth noting that a judge… Read more »

dad29
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

Umnnhhh…IIRC, juries decide facts. Judges (and appeals courts) decide legals. Thus, judges tell juries which law and how they should apply it to the fact-determination.

Compsci
Compsci
1 year ago

Interesting discussion. I read Cochran as well and that is where I stumbled on to you, Z-man. Currently, I’m having the tangent of this discussion with my ne

Julian
Julian
1 year ago

You linked to JayMan’s article about heart disease. The problem with JayMan is that he is a fat geneticist. He sees genetics everywhere and he wants an excuse to stay fat. I accept in advance that this is ad hominem and that I should fuck myself.

Yves Vannes
Yves Vannes
Member
1 year ago

K.Bolton isn’t so much wrong but simply misunderstands. It isn’t stated anywhere in the parts that I read of his essay, but he seems to assume all genomic expression is internal. He’s implicitly assuming the Nature vs. Nurture separation. This is dead wrong. Nurture is nature. It (nurture/culture) is the outward expression of innate aesthetic preferences that we have evolves with as a group. All of his “epigenetic” memories do exist but as the result of his interactions with his environment, the extended phenotype. Our collective memories are on every street corner, mantel piece, tale, tune, and so on. That’s… Read more »

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  Yves Vannes
1 year ago

Yves Vannes, taking your ideas a bit further, it seems like parts of our (western white) culture go out of their way to reject many of the common experiences of our culture and go in another direction entirely. They don’t want to dress western or eat western or raise their kids in a western set of shared experiences. Is it mommy and daddy issues? Is it the novelty of going in some other direction? Is it bonding instead to an alternative cultural orthodoxy that is edgy and hippy and values other things? All of the above? Then you have an… Read more »

House of Pancakes
House of Pancakes
Reply to  Dutch
1 year ago

@Yves Vanes — I recall an experiment a while back where there was an international cultural exchange between two artists, a Western landscape painter of the Romantic, sorta Barbizon/Hudson Valley school, and a CHINESE landscape painter of the more-or-less Sung scroll-painting style (think highly-washed brush-and-ink ethereal craggy mountains and pines wrapped in mist, Han-Shan type of stuff. Anyway, they sent the Barbizon guy to go paint rural China, and they sent the Chinese guy to go paint the Hudson Valley. You’ll never guess what happened. Actually, you will, and I bet you already did. @Dutch — part of the reason… Read more »

Dutch
Dutch
Reply to  House of Pancakes
1 year ago

House of Pancakes, I like your Yankees analogy. But what I can’t comprehend is while sympathy and generosity to the Little Leaguers is nice, why extend that to tearing apart the Yankees in the process? There is a cultural suicidal death wish baked into it somewhere. I don’t recall having ever seen such a widespread, virulent strain of it in any other culture. It’s as if the cultural virus had taken hold, but was allowed to spread for a long time without treatment. Now the virus has spawned a plague.

Member
1 year ago

Z Man: Secular Calvinist.

Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

“The Protestant Zeno: Calvin and the Development of Melanchthon’s Anthropology”:

https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/383451

😉

Reply to  DeathValley600
1 year ago

From the article, quoting Melancthon: “The Genevan battles over Stoic necessity are such that a certain person who disagreed with Zeno was thrown into prison.”

Rod1963
Rod1963
Reply to  DeathValley600
1 year ago

Quite so. Scientific men in white lab coats become the new secular priesthood promoting the theology of Biological Calvinism in the dying West.which is nothing but nihilism in a new dress.

“Nothing matters” and “we’re all NPC’s” is it’s creed.

Really if I wanted to wreck what;s left of Western Civ and take up where Derrida left off, I’d promote this Biological Calvinism as the cool new replacement for Po-Mo and Marxism.

Reply to  Rod1963
1 year ago

Genuine Calvinism is anything but nihilistic.

GU1
GU1
1 year ago

I can’t restrain myself! I agree with the general thrust of Jayman’s post and many of his assertions. I will say only this: hard, progressive weight training, with a diet appropriate for supporting your goals *will* net you noticeable and semi-permanent results. Most studies about exercise focus on useless cardio regimes or weight training regimens that are lacking in sufficient intensity, progressivity, or both. And most also either fail to account for diet or impose an inappropriate diet. I can’t promise you’ll live longer, but being lean and muscular certainly has its benefits. The effort it takes to get an… Read more »

Rod1963
Rod1963
1 year ago

This why you won’t see Biological Calvinists like Z as doctors. Dialog goes like this: Patient: What should I eat? HBD nerd:: Anything you want, any time and in any amount because diet is irrelevant to how your quality of life and how long you will live. Don’t worry about exercising either. It won’t help you. Your genetics determine everything so what you do doesn’t matter. Six months later the patient waddles in weighing 300lbs. Patient: You SOB you lied to me, I’m diabetic and suffering from high blood pressure and my kidneys are bad. HBD nerd; Blame your genetics… Read more »

tz1
Member
1 year ago

Is a Cat o’ 9 TALES an anthology, so if you cut one out, the kittens will have only ate?

I think you meant “tails”, not “tales” above

Christopher S. Johns
Christopher S. Johns
1 year ago

As mentioned ever so briefly in the article, I suspect that some of the recent vogue for this epigenetics stuff on the mystical-right has to do with a desire to infuse Jungian ideas with a hard science chemical legitimacy. When you recall that Jordan Peterson is a Jungian (of a rather tedious, academic sort) this project begins to make sense from a fan boy perspective, although the endeavor is mostly daft.

Lance_E
Member
1 year ago

The diet stuff was a little on the ridiculous side. It’s true that nutrition has an absolutely atrocious track record as a “scientific” discipline, but bodybuilders and powerlifters make excellent use of the good parts. Aside from that, we know for a fact that obesity is linked to dozens of different diseases, and diet is clearly a cause of obesity, even if the only link is total caloric intake (it’s not). Sailors of yore didn’t get scurvy because of their genetics, it was because of their diet. North Koreans are genetically identical to South Koreans, yet are distinctly shorter, because… Read more »

GU1
GU1
Reply to  thezman
1 year ago

You can’t look like Ahnold in his prime without steroids (good luck even with steroids), but you can get plenty jacked as a natty.

Compsci
Compsci
Reply to  GU1
1 year ago

Some of the videos I’ve watched interviewing retired bodybuilders seem to have it about right—it’s a matter of genes and steroids (and of course hard work and diet). Take all the steroids you want, but you ain’t gonna get there without the inherent “ability”, i.e. genes.

Teapartydoc
Member
Reply to  GU1
1 year ago

Your comments are about right. I’m getting old, and can’t lift near what I could in my youth, but I still look like I could bench 300. That stuff sticks with you with a little bit of work, no steroids needed.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

This post reminds of a hard sci-fi book I read a couple of months ago. It was a ruthlessly materialistic story that understands free will is mostly bullshit. I was pleasantly surprised that this idea is becoming more mainstream. I started reading sci-fi as a kid and I am still a fan but finding good books is nearly impossible now. Anyone have a suggestion for a sci-fi book on these types of topics?

BTW the book I just read was called Blindsight by Peter Watts. He is some kind of biologist but also a good writer.

Dtbb
Dtbb
Reply to  Nick
1 year ago

Just adout anything by Kurt Vonnegut. My fave is The Sirens of Titan.

House of Pancakes
House of Pancakes
Reply to  Nick
1 year ago

Not sci-fi per se, but sorta sci-fi-ish, very interesting, and on your topic…

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Lottery in Babylon,” “The Garden of Forking Paths,” “Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” “Pierre Menard: Author of Don Quixote”.

Vizzini
Member
1 year ago

Chateau Heartiste catches the man who dared to author The Art of the Argument and constantly lectures us about “facts and reason” committing one of the most disingenuously transparent and dishonest of rhetorical dodges:

https://heartiste.wordpress.com/2018/12/05/argumentum-ad-technicalitum/

As Zman said about bad ideas, people desperately want them to be true.

SteveD
SteveD
1 year ago

‘For some reason’
Ahh but if we only knew the reason…

SteveD
SteveD
1 year ago

‘The original definition of epigenetics¹ is the study of how genes are expressed’
No, epigenetics is inheritance which is not based on the DNA code. It includes prions and methylation of DNA.

SteveD
SteveD
1 year ago

There’s simply no known biological process for passing on experiences or learned behavior.

Epigenetics has that potential, though.

John Pate
Member
1 year ago

Whilst I agree that epigenetics has morphed into Lysenkoism championed by the usual suspects, and what makes you a man not a monkey is 100% genetic, ordered systems can be non-deterministic and conversely chaotic systems can be rigidly deterministic. Genetics doesn’t dismiss free will in any way, shape or form. Free will is a philosophical concept and science has little or nothing useful or interesting to say about it beyond some basic facts. The dirty secret is that science has no answers at all for any of the important questions in life. Even if you use the fruits of the… Read more »

Chris
Chris
1 year ago

Very interesting article and therefore sorry to be a grammar Nazi, but errors like those below detract from the credibility of an article (at least for me, as a one-time copy editor).

…if you chop off a cat’s tale (TAIL), it’s (ITS — possessive) kittens will be born without tales.(TAILS)

Member
1 year ago

Like the Blank Slate, leftists love epigenetics because it implies more “malleable” human beings. “Malleable” humans can be perfectly equal, physically and mentally, and are also ideal denizens of the various utopias leftists have cobbled together for us over the years. They like to claim they are on the side of “science.” In fact, they propped up the Blank Slate orthodoxy for more than half a century. Virtually every behavioral “expert” and “scientist” in the US played along, peddling the claim that there’s no such thing as human nature, a claim that’s transparently bogus to any reasonably intelligent 10 year… Read more »

MMinLamesa
MMinLamesa
1 year ago

Of course your diet can have a significant effect on your health. Do you think a lifetime of shoveling crap into your body is going to result in pleasant middle or senior years?

William M. Briggs
1 year ago

Railing about people misbehaving while simultaneously decrying free will is hilarious.

I, of course, had no choice but to say that.