Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Genetic Inequality

Like many academics I have become increasingly convinced of the power of genetics over the last decade. I was first awaken from my blank slatist slumber by E.O. Wilson but the evidence has since come in on all fronts.

Sociobiology or Evolutionary Psychology, as I think it has now morphed into, is becoming increasingly undeniable.

This has lead at least one pundit to declare that the new definition of a liberal is someone who believes in evolution but not in biology. That's clearly a jibe at old notions of class warfare and income inequality caused by injustice inherent in the "system"

Perhaps I am the only one to experience this but the triumph of sociobiology has actually made me less libertarian not more. If anyone was theoretically capable of anything then why tax people on the basis of their choices. In Jim the Janitor is sad because he earns less than Cecil the CEO then he should change his career path.

Tabula Rasa means the we, and our parents, are ultimately completely responsible for our lot in life. Even if society had a hand in it somewhere it certainly wouldn't help things for society to start rewarding behavior it didn't want in the first place.

If its not all a blank slate, however, then maybe Jim the Janitor could have never been a CEO, no matter how bad he wanted it, no matter how hard he studied, no matter what sacrifices his parents made to send him to the best schools. It just wasn't going to happen for him.

In crew (that's rowing for the uninitiated) we talk about stroke volume, or how much blood your heart can pump in a single beat. By the time you're on a college crew team either you have it or you don't. You can train you guts out. You can be in the gym everyday, but you will simply never beat a guy who has a physically much larger heart.

Its a sad thing to see guys struggling, and know that they can never achieve their goals. Its sad and we don't want it to be true. But it is true. I have seen men pass out as their hearts pumped away in a furious yet ultimately futile attempt to keep their muscles oxygenated.

The experience is made bearable only by the notion that not everyone can make the "A" boat and it wouldn't be a sport if they could. Yet, how does one deal with the notion that not everyone can be economically productive - at least not at the level many of us take for granted.

No matter how hard they try, now matter how much they train they simply can't do it. They just weren't made that way. Its hard to have a cold heart in the face of that reality.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Karl,
I just wanted to drop a note and say congrats on your professorship, and I enjoy reading the thoughtful commentary on your blog.
Susan H

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