Intellectuals Versus Ideologues

I think if I were to produce a defining characteristic of a true intellectual, I would say it is someone willing to consider possibilities that are not already on the table. When I say “true intellectual” I mean to distinguish the real thinkers from the pseudo-intellectual posers. The truly smart and curious are not constrained by or extremely interested in the current fads. When presented with a puzzle, they first try to imagine all of the possible solutions and then begin eliminating the impossible.

One of the useful lessons of mathematics is that there are some problems for which there are many answers. If you are presented with x – 3 = 0   or   x – 4 = 0 then you know x = 3, 4. In other words, X has more than one possible solution. A surprisingly high number of allegedly smart people struggle with that basic concept. When you get into more complex areas like human sciences, the range of solutions to a problem may include a combination of factors interacting to cause the observed phenomenon.

Therefore, the intellectual is someone that starts with the set of all solutions and narrows the list to those that are possible. The religiously minded, on the other hand, reverse the order of things. They first eliminate all the possibilities that fall outside the limits of their faith. A Christian, for example, will never consider the possibility that his faith is nonsense and Jesus was a fictional character. The Muslim will never consider that Mohamed was simply a medieval L. Ron Hubbard.

Throughout history, we have examples of the priestly class convincing the people that the calamity that has befallen them is due to their deviation from the faith. When the plague ravaged Europe, the religious were convinced it was due to God’s wrath. What else could it be? The English blamed the Viking invasions on the faithful falling out of favor with God. Revolutionaries blame the inevitable bad results of their revolution on enemies of the revolution.

Just to be clear, religion is vital to every society. Most people should not be thinking about all the possible causes of what is around them. Islam may be useless to Western civilization, but it serves a needed purpose in the East. Christianity was vital to the development of Western Civilization. In fact, it was what preserved the stock of human knowledge that was the foundation of the modern West. Today, the West would be better off if our leaders were Christians, instead of insane.

Even so, the difference between the intellectual and the ideological enforcer is all about the possibilities. A good example of that is in this post on NRO the other day from someone calling himself Mario Loyola. He is one of the thousands of public intellectuals living off the taxpayer at foundations around the Imperial Capital. His CV is here and you see the word “fellow” turn up a lot in his work history. Most of our “conservative” intellectuals have credentials from the liberal of institutions.

Anyway, his post is about black crime rates and the causes of those crime rates. This bit got my attention. “When America is ready for a real conversation about race, it will start here. It will ask honestly what the causes are. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that race has absolutely nothing to do with crime rates, and that government policies such as welfare are the real culprit, creating the urban blight and broken families that lead directly to crime.”

Let us first start with the phrase, “have a conversation.” When you want to kill time, you have a conversation about the weather. When you want to let someone else know things about yourself, you have a conversation. When you want to find answers to problems, you do not have a conversation. That is how you get fired. You are fooling around having conversations instead of doing work. In modern America, when a Progressive says she wants a conversation, you better run.

Putting that aside, the first thing Mario does in his “exploration of causes” is eliminate those that fall outside the permitted. In fact, he makes clear that he is not interested in that conversation at all. If you already have the answer, there is no need for further discovery. Once you find the answer, the next job is to tell the world about your wonderful insight. That is why scientists post the results of their experiments. It is how the stock of human knowledge increases.

Of course, Mario is not offering any evidence of his assertion. For this type of Progressive, race falls outside the set of acceptable causes so it is eliminated without further discussion. Because he is from the shadow end of the faith, he also feels the need to eliminate racism so he can focus on the welfare state. His post is not intended to start a conversation or begin the search for the causes of black crime. It is testimony in support of his particular brand of Progressivism.

It is not a great surprise that our public debates are echo chambers. Biology has become forbidden knowledge. So much so that few know anything about it. That is because biology is at odds with egalitarianism, the foundation stone of the Progressive faith. Once you accept that nature does not distribute her gifts equally among all men, Progressivism is untenable. It is akin to saying Christ was fictional or Mohamed was a con-man. That can never be allowed, no matter how many people die.

51 thoughts on “Intellectuals Versus Ideologues

  1. Loyola, amusingly, offers in the same article counterevidence that weakens his conclusion in the cited passage: “The disparity is not quite this dramatic in many places, and is significantly flatter when normalized for socioeconomic status, but a dramatic disparity holds throughout the country. As the report shows, the disparity is also wider for violent crime than for petty crime, an interesting and depressing fact in and of itself.”

  2. “A Christian, for example, will never consider the possibility that his faith is nonsense and Jesus was a fictional character… It’s akin to saying Christ was fictional or Mohamed was a con-man. That can never be allowed, no matter how many people die.”

    You are WAY off base here. When was the last time Christians killed off atheists for questioning whether Christ was a true historical person? We don’t do that, regardless of whatever your stilted view of church history. And you’re stating that we are equivalent to Mohammedans, who WILL murder you should you gainsay their false prophet, Mohammed? You’ve got a distaste for Christianity that you picked up in childhood. Okay, I get that. But you are libeling people like me who are otherwise your natural allies. I read your site every day and agree with almost everything you say. But this is libel, pure and simple.

    • You are reading in things I never included in my post. You assume that any mention of Christianity must be a criticism of your brand of Christianity, unless it complies 100% with your set of beliefs.

    • @ Backwoods Engineer – Like anyone who choses to read and comment on this site, thezman is as entitled to his opinion as you or I. He simply states a position and the rest of us can comment one way or another – or not. I am a Christian, and I take no offense to his comments even if I don’t agree with him. The history of the Christian church is not spotless – we all know that. But as Christians, we should be the last to condemn someone’s opinion or commentary of our faith. There’s already one group who does that and we know how that’s working out.

      God does not need us to defend Him. Jesus demonstrated His greatest strength by offering no defense when His life depended on it. Read Galatians 6:7 and ask yourself – are you defending God, or yourself? It is your honor at stake, your pride and security, your reputation—or God’s.


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  4. I don’t understand why this topic of crime, intelligence and race is such a big taboo. Blacks are at the top of the totem pole for physical stature and coordination and at the bottom for intelligence. Conversely Asians are at the top for intelligence and the bottom for physical stature.

  5. I get that this article had nothing to do with Christianity and that you’re free to draw whatever comparison you want on your own blog but most Christians DO consider the possibility that Jesus never existed. Even Paul spends some ink fleshing out the implications of one of the central tenets of Christianity – the resurrection – being possibly false (1 Corinthians 15:12 and onward). I agree with Paul’s conclusions.

    • Here’s the bit you’re missing. If you are a Christian and decide that Jesus was fictional and Christianity is nonsense, you stop being a Christian. Therefore when Christians contemplate the arguments about the existence of Jesus, they are not really open to the possibility that he was fictional unless they are prepared to abandon the faith.

      Progressives are even less open to biology as a first cause of human behavior, but it is a good parallel. In order for any of the flavors of blank slatism to consider biology as a primary cause, they must be willing to abandon their beliefs about human nature.

      The reason I’m drawing this connection between Progressives and Christians is to help explain Progressives, not say anything in particular about Christians.

      • Oh, I see. So unless you stop believing in Jesus, he is not “truly” open to the possibility.
        “No True Scotsman” fallacy, anyone?

        Just face it, Z man: this was a bad analogy that ruined an otherwise good article, and alienated a lot of people who are normally your allies.

  6. Interesting that in all the comments, no one has mentioned Mario Loyola. eh?

    It seems to me that a lot of the crime culture that infests the ghetto originated in the prison system. And unfortunately, the yute of America, in their quest to be “tolerant” and “open minded” accepted a lot of this crap into their lives without any thought whatsoever.

    Some examples include: pants flying at half-mast; the ridiculous fixation on super expensive tenny runners (Air Jordans, etc.); rap and hip-hop crap; ebonics dominating the language to where it almost qualifies as a language of it’s own (another example of self-segregation – don’t want the Man knowing what you up to!); the media making the black man their “house nigger” in all things liberal; Washington DC expanding welfare to strengthen its stranglehold on the ghetto and the “weapon” these angry people represent to be unleashed as they are currently starting to do at the behest of our fearless Leader Obozo.

    What happened to the good ‘ol days when convicts would be breaking rocks all day and be too tired to pump iron? What happened to having them do “hard” labor as punishment for their crimes to society instead of having TV, cell phones, lawyers, time to learn about Islam, how to be a better criminal, and the drug trade?

    What happened to breaking the will of the criminal and showing them that society will not put up with their crap? It is not the white man who will step on their neck, it is society demanding they get a clue and behave their sorry asses. The message should be “Don’t do this shit or there will be hell to pay!”

    Who gives a damn about nature or nuture at this point? The prison system, heck, the Justice system is just another big business and business is good! Build more prisons for all the repeat offenders. It is a revolving door for the ones who don’t get killed in the hood.

    The one thing that I do believe in is setting “expectations.” If there are not clear expectations that are quickly and fairly enforced, then the Rule of Law is non-existent and change is not possible, much less any degree of control.

  7. I believe the biblical definition of “faith” is: “The evidence of things unseen”. And from there it becomes if whatever lurking out there in the dark is true or false. Paradoxically, it was Ayn Rand, an atheist, who advised us to always “check our premises”.

    Some will claim “sin” became part of our DNA upon the Fall in Eden.

    Perhaps since then, every clash of the worldviews is determined by whatever God(s) we wish to serve. Truth vs. Falsehood. Light vs. dark. Science vs. superstition. The older I get, the more I realize all debates are rooted in theology one way or another. For intellectuals, it consists of what they see. For Ideologues, it is regarding what they believe.

    And for some debates there may be room for both. Consider creationism vs. evolution. I am NO scientist. Just an open-minded person. But regarding Darwin, I can respect the hard-science observation of inter-species mutation, or “micro-evolution” of… say… the flu virus. But I do have a problem making the giant leap of faith towards “macro-evolution”, or: “The Theory of Species Mutating into Other Species”.

    Is there “hard-science” proof of macro-evolution? In other words, as the flu virus mutates, it still remains a flu virus. Is there scientific proof of a virus evolving into a… say… a squirrel?

    It also seems evolutionists would have us believe on “faith” that complex systems such as the human eye developed via mutation. But modern science seems to prove that positive mutations are rare, they generally don’t survive in a population and they don’t add information. Moreover, in the development of complex cellular systems like the eye: All positive mutations must happen at once to survive and take over a population. This is called “irreducible complexity” and, from what I have read, it is statistically impossible in a 14 billion year old universe. True? Or False?

    Could Darwin’s Disciples today be finding themselves overwhelmed by the hard-science of Physics, Molecular Biology, Astrophysics and Probability Analysis? It makes me wonder if perhaps Creationism or even Intelligent Design are better theories and could send Evolution the way of the dinosaur.

    Yet, at the same time, the biblical account of Genesis says the earth is only 6000 years old. And the story of Adam and Eve sounds like a fairy tale to me. But the order of creation in Genesis does appear to correspond with Darwin’s order of evolution. How could this be when Genesis was written circa 1500 BC?

    Perhaps some debates are merely a matter of ideological proximity. And, when there are no definitive answers, only choices remain.

    • “Yet, at the same time, the biblical account of Genesis says the earth is only 6000 years old.”

      Actually, it doesn’t.

      “Although it is commonly rendered as day in English translations, the word yom has several literal definitions: … A long, but finite span of time – age – epoch – season.” (

      “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” Psalm 90:4 (English Standard Version).

      A “thousand” was the largest named number at that time and often used metaphorically to mean an arbitrarily large number. Isaac Asimov’s History of the Bible. (from memory).

      • @ Roy Lofquist – Given the unlimited power of God, a day could well be any length of time, even a million or a billion years, we simply can’t know. Scientific intellectuals can speculate, saying whatever they want to support their own belief system. And of course they all support each another because not doing so gets your funding cut or at least makes peer reviews more difficult.

        Job 38 & 39 are some of the few passages where God questions mans knowledge, rather than his faith. I have often read this as God challenging man from a scientific perspective since it covers all the hard sciences including biology, oceanography, astronomy, and atmospheric physics. If you read through the passage, you can tick off the things we have learned, and those that still remain beyond our grasp.

        “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!” [The scientific challenges to man] –
        * Biology: “Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? Do you observe the calving of the deer?”
        * Oceanography: “Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?”
        * Astronomy: “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, or fix their rule over the earth?”
        * Atmospheric physics: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?”

        It’s a subtle but important differences between Christianity and other religions because God actually challenges us to go figure it out and come back with an fact based answer rather than “Because a cleric said so”. That’s why the Christian west has done so well and everyone else is still living in the stone age. We took the challenge.

        • Well, a demigod would probably just be a repair to genetics. If that looked timelike or spacelike, that would be deterministic before during and after. Pretty much has to come from what is called where or when. One would have to have a conversation with those few dead fellows that were told not to discuss it. Actually, that would be terrifying to know that even mentioning the event would lead to rifts in the situation. Probably should have stayed dead through that part.

  8. In corporate business (and government) having a conversation isn’t the only way to stall for time. There’s also the “focus group” and the “task force”. Mostly nattering with busywork tossed in so that no one notices that no one really understands the problem let alone has any idea how to solve it.

  9. “When presented with a puzzle, they first try to imagine all of the possible solutions and then begin eliminating the impossible.”

    And yet our host summarily excludes, yea denies, the explanation that human beings are not singular animals but rather a combination of an immortal soul incarnate in a biological vessel.

  10. Greetings Zman. I think you put forward a good thesis but in the case of Christianity you used a bad example. I watch a lot of Christian vs Atheist debates including the biggest names on both sides of the aisle (William Lane Craig, John Lennox, Dinesh D’Souza, Richard Dawkins, Dan Barker, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, etc.) and every single time (and I do mean EVERY SINGLE TIME) the atheist floats the hypothesis of the non-existence of an historical Jesus he gets pulverized. And this happens even in matches where the atheist won a majority of the other points in the debate.

    Why do they do it? Why insist on a point (the non-existence of a historical Jesus) when the evidence is so strong against it? Beats me, though I have a hunch that this hypothesis solves some pro-Christianity quick popular arguments that are uncomfortable to analyze. One of this is C.S. Lewis Trilemma (i.e. Jesus was a liar vs Jesus was crazy vs Jesus was who He claim He was) where the problem is solved claiming Jesus never historically existed. Still…

    Instead of using the “fictional Jesus” example a better route (if I may) would be the discovery of Jesus’ Tomb. As Saint Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15, 14 for us Christians to know: “if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then all our preaching is vain, all our faith is vain”. A discovery of Jesus’ Tomb (and some fake attempts have been tried and even movies fantasizing about it have been made) would seriously shatter the foundations of Christianity.

    Example aside, your thesis is good. You put on the table that the difference between a true intellectual and a poser is that the true intellectual always make sure that the ideas he espouses are falsifiable, that there can be a scenario that makes you change your mind. This I watched in a debate between John Lennox vs Michael Shermer: John Lennox used evidence against the resurrection as a reason to stop being a Christian while Michael Shermer deflected the inquiry with a joke (“a million dollars magically appear in my bank account and I stop being an atheist”). I have also watch Dan Barker evade the falsifiability question.

    I leave with a reflection. I used to think that the phrase “Once you remove the impossible what remains, however extremely unlikely, must be the truth” to be pretty awesome, until I discovered that it has a significant flaw: how do you tell apart the impossible from the extremely unlikely? It is not as simple as it sounds.
    Have a good day Zman!

  11. And then there’s culture. Another example of the forbidden knowledge right in front of our faces. Can anyone other than a mindless multi-culti marxist deny that the ghetto thug culture is a factor in black-on-black crime_?

    To me its role* is even more obvious than biology. And yet by another elite religion ‘inversion of the obvious’, like individual egalitarianism assumes away individual biological differences, and feminism assumes away human sexual dimorphism, multi-culturalism assumes away any idea that some cultures may be better suited to our stage of technology than others, much less ‘superior’. Indeed it is to evade these very questions that the progs seek to demonize any talk of standards: If there are standards, then some cultures will be better than others. The Horror_!!!

    * The relationship between biology and culture is even further into the heart of the darkness that is the forbidden lore of the ancients. Because I am a Christian, I do not subscribe to either genetic or cultural determinism nor propose to operate society as though they were determinative, but it takes a real intellectual effort to blind yourself to the possibility that they might matter.

    At the very least we must stop glorifying thug culture and then acting baffled by its obvious consequences.

  12. I find American history fascinating, especially the formative years during the Revolution. The ideals and concepts of modern

    But I would argue the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” has been a real thorn in the side of American race relations ever since. They could have left that out entirely and just said “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” For a group of men who showed remarkable intellect and foresight, it seems they underestimated the power behind those words.

    With regards to the Christian reference, one only need look at the passage of Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will recognize them”. America’s founding fathers intellect and Christian faith planted an ideology that bore your nation very good fruit. Unfortunately, leaders and policy makers in America and Europe and most of the world today, not so much.

    • Edit to first line – I find American history fascinating, especially the formative years during the Revolution. Especially the ideals and concepts of modern democracy which were put into place by these particular men at that particular time in history. (Please thezman…an edit feature would be greatly appreciated!)

    • The Founders were possibly the best-educated group of non-intellectuals ever assembled. They all had at lest one (most several) real jobs – soldiers, farmers, business men, authors, etc… But most of them also had classical educations – Greek and Latin, Math, History, Logic, and Rhetoric.

      It probably didn’t occur to them to write at the kindergarten level of comprehension required these days, although some of them did warn about creeping growth of government and stupid voters.

    • @Karl – My ancestors heard “… all men are created equal” as “no man born a King,” justifying the struggle for independence. The obvious extrapolation “… and no man born a slave” justifying the struggle for emancipation.
      Would you be surprised to learn that race relations in America differ according to the folkway region within which they occur? Northern big city race relations follow the “southern immigrants unassimilated
      into the ‘puritan folkway zone norms’ conflict. An entirely different relationship obtains in the south owing to the hierarchal composition of the tide-water folkway (fully assimilated, at the bottom).
      In short, the founders, in order to manage the peace, crafted a peace treaty (constitution) between the mutually hostile folkway groups. Blacks constituted an insular sub-group within one of those folk-way groups (southern-cavalier). You’ll observe that all the race riots after the sixties have occurred in coastal and northern big cities. Is it possible that puritan folkway northerners despise southerners of any color?
      If so, then the problem isn’t race but rather folkway differentials. After all, how much trouble gets started when Americans go north and south? Quite a bit. Rather like northern and southern Italians, perhaps.
      Does a similar pattern obtain in Germany?

      • @ Pat Baker – The significant difference between the USA and Germany is up until the mid-60’s, Germany was a homogenous people. Common ethnicity of primarily northern Europeans with a minor mix of Slavic ethnicity in the eastern fringes along our old Polish and Czech borders (long since gone). Southern Europeans (Greeks and Italians) didn’t really get far north past Austria and Switzerland. Keep in mind like you we were once an agrarian society, so farmers stayed where they were. Because the land was already owned and/or occupied, opportunities were limited, which is why so many headed to the USA during the 1800’s.

        We never had blacks, certainly not slaves, so there was no real issue of race relations to even consider. One could argue there are regional cultural differences between German states, but certainly not racial ones. Now, however, with more immigrants arriving from the Middle East and Africa, that’s quickly changing.

  13. The problem with intellectuals and ideologues is that neither are accountable for results. They spout their ridiculous ideas all day – with zero real-life experience to back them up – without any accountability.

    I prefer the company of people with real jobs and respect their opinions far more than TV talking heads, or “fellows” from think-tanks. Thomas Sowell demolishes their type in “Intellectuals and Society”.

  14. That’s why the whole didn’t do nothin lives matter movement is so absurdly bizarre, it’s like the emperor’s new clothes meets the wolf who cried boy, something broadcasted directly out of bizarro opposite world.

    HILLARY CLINTON Tells Police to Quit Killing Black People at NAACP Convention

    “On Sunday three police officers were shot dead in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in an ambush attack by a Nation of Islam member. Three more were injured. This came a week after five police officers were shot dead in Dallas by a Black Power activist. On Monday Hillary Clinton told police officers to quit killing black people.”

    I wonder if she will say the same when speaking at the National Association for the Advancement of White People? As even more whites, and more unarmed whites, are shot by the police:

    “Whites are less than 3 percent of the hundreds of suspects who criminally fired weapons, while blacks, who make up only 23 percent of the population, were over 70 percent of the shooters. Of those killed by police, whiles who only 3 percent of the criminal shooters were an astounding 44 percent of those killed, Blacks who were over 70 percent of the shooters make up an astoundingly low, 22 percent of those killed!

    As the figures show, it is blacks who are far less likely to be fired upon or hit by police gunfire in proportion with their criminal activities, and, astonishingly, according to the official statistics, there are no—zero—recorded incidents of white suspects actually firing guns at the police, while nearly 70 percent of all shots fired at the police in that city came from gun-wielding black people and the rest from Hispanics. So, even though not a single white suspect fired at any police officer, 44 percent of those killed by police were white!”

    Let that sink in, found here.

    • A small correction for you. You say ” … while blacks, who make up only 23 percent of the population.” It is popularly given that the percent of black population in America is 13% but it is really just a bit more than 12% and probably shrinking considering all the abortions, black-on-black killing, and immigration of others going on as we speak.

      • Not to quibble, but there simply isn’t enough black on black murder to affect the population statistics. Further, these feral populations do not rely on monogamous pairings to reproduce, so the few thousands of bangers that are killed each year affect the breeders not at all. Neither does abortion affect population statistics. It is a convenience only. A woman has one, two, four kids on the public dime with or without abortions, which only affect the timing of her schemes. If abortion were both illegal and successfully enforced the only result would be less abortion, not more or less live births.

  15. “A Christian, for example, will never consider the possibility that his faith is nonsense and Jesus was a fictional character. ”

    Actually, some of us Christians have considered the possibility. Spent a lot of time with it actually. What’s amazing is that if you can do 3 leaps of faith: 1)God exists, 2)His Nature is merciful and just, and 3)Jesus is the Son of that God then the rest is easy money. Every other point of Christian theology has evidence or can be simply assumed to be within the power of the Creator of the universe. Christ’s story is one of enormous sacrifice and plain old grumpiness with humanity, which is exactly what one might expect of a son such a God.

    It is odd that there are 4 separate accounts in time when most things weren’t written down. It is odd that Christianity spread so quickly, at least to Europe and now continues to spread. (I get why “Kill and rape people and heaven is yours spread quickly – not pay attention to the 10 Commandments and love your neighbor) It is odd that there are angry mobs in Jerusalem 3 years after the start of public life in a time when news traveled as fast as donkeys. And the Gospels claim he knew he was going to die, why not just avoid Jerusalem? Either Jesus is completely insane or exactly what he said he was.

    Also the Mohammed analogy is strained because L Ron Hubbard only wrote books and collect money. I don’t recall him conquering cities and marrying child brides. Mohammed stands alone as the top of the violent cult crop. 🙁

    • This.

      Faith is hard. Doubt is easy. Only the dumbest and most closed-minded people never question their faith. xwnUX

    • I think you are confusing some things here. Progressives question their faith from time to time too. That’s the nature of faith. That’s different from saying, “Well, the only possible answer here is my religion is nonsense.”

      This is not a post about the tenets of your brand of Christianity, by the way.

      • I’m not so sure. When presented with the failures of socialism through the years, Progressives I’ve talked to just get hostile. Their current doctrine has no cohesion or logic to it. It is just a random set of beliefs that cannot be questioned – because.

        • The issue surely, Drake, is that progressives do not see socialism as a failure but rather that it has been thwarted at every end at turn. Something, perhaps magical, perhaps contrived by non-socialists, has happened or worked to stop socialism succeeding. With that as a base concept, there can be no questioning of what socialism is itself, only how the hell so many clever non-socialists, magicians and mysterious whims of nature have denied man the true freedom of being a faceless, empty worker drone in a socialist paradise.

  16. Seems to me that theft crime, which in a way is all crime, is caused by people who don’t have what they want. They decide that it is easier to take it from someone else than work to earn what they want. Some people have the moral background to NOT do that, some don’t have that moral background. I have never been accused of having a whole set of morals, myself, but stealing of any kind is outside my moral compass. I won’t do it, and I despise those who do.

    • My observation is that crime is mostly about impulse control and time preference. The former is biological and the latter is a mix of biology and culture. In the ghetto, everyone wants it now and many lack impulse control so they kill and steal to get what they want. Ask any cop that patrols the ghetto and they will tell you that most homicides are over stupid shit where one guy gets mad and starts shooting.

        • Everything is biological. Our hair color, eye color, skin tone, height, body type are all the result of genetics, Why would you think personality traits, instincts, temperament and all the stuff we lump under character would not have a genetic component?

          I’m not a genetic determinist, but our genes are what makes us what we are, including our ability to modulate our own nature. Someone who is naturally slow can improve their 40 time through practice and someone with poor impulse control can be trained to exercise more restraint, but there are natural limits.

          • “I’m not a genetic determinist, but our genes are what makes us what we are, including our ability to modulate our own nature.” You’ve drawn a fine line here. No doubt nature is a component, but only a component. I suppose I put more stock in the nurture side of the question.

          • I think Christians would argue it’s man’s nature to lean towards their own selfish nature; no one ever teaches a child to lie or be spiteful. They know that already.

            Genesis3:1 ~ Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

            Or to paraphrase that another way “”At this point, what difference does it make?”

          • It depends upon how you define Christian, I suppose. The old Calvinists would have argued that man’s deeds were merely a reflection of his nature. Catholics would have argued that man’s nature is entirely up to him and his deeds were the result of free will. One of the things I find amusing is how members of some of the new Christian sects claim to be the one true version of Christianity. I get that they think they are practicing the faith as Christ would have wanted, but there is a Johnny Come Lately vibe to it.

            Free will has always been the base assumption of man. Maybe some eastern mystics assume everything is following a script, but no where do we see the laws of society based on that assumption. Even Muslims who are fond of excusing anything as he will of Allah have laws. I think humans are simply incapable of accepting that man does not have as much free will as we believe. Even in our secular age, more “smart” people believe in magic than genetic determinism.

          • Karl, if you want to have some fun sometime, ask a feminist whether there’s some wisdom about gender nature encoded in Genesis 3.

          • Perhaps, concerning nurture vs. nature, there are no ‘sides.’
            Nurture is part of nature, no? Of course, I would argue that humans are capable of transcending instincts, the ability I understand as ‘spirituality.’
            Or do I misunderstand?

          • @ Pat Baker- I would argue man has no instincts. Reflexes, yes. Instincts, no.

          • Join the discussionPat-if you truly believe that you have never seen a second grade classroom in action.

          • Ciribiribin posits that nuture insures that blacks have lots of communities that behave like Quakers or the Amish. I can vouch for that having visited Flint, Jackson, Newark, Bedford Stuyvesant, East Chicago, Gary, and East St Louis.

            Love and happiness dwell there.

        • “How exactly is impulse control “biological?”
          How, exactly, is it possible for a sentient adult not to suspect or know that impulse control and time orientation are biological, and how could such a person be reached with experience or data when he has already demonstrated a life long ability to avoid such a conclusion? Let it be said, however, that nature is entirely innocent for your refusal to understand what is right under your nose.

          • Mr. Wilson that is a concise and astute observation that destroyed the contention of its author. Bravo.

        • There is a place in the human brain where “impulse control” takes place – or doesn’t.

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