Thursday, June 10, 2021

If black lives matter, why do we still have communism?

This essay isn't what you think it is.  You probably think that a right-winger is comparing the vast slaughter communism creates with the relatively modest number of killings by police of black men.  No I'm saying modest number of killings by police of black men is part of the vast slaughter communism creates.  


Some might be skeptical of police communism but they do provide service to citizens "according to their needs" and it gets funded by income tax i.e. "according to their abilities".  Don't bring up that they don't actually provide service completely according to need.  No communist does and we're not having the "it's not real communism" argument.   


But surely racism is the cause not communism, right?  Nope.  At worst 60% of black deaths at the hands of US police are due to racism.  This is assuming that all of the disproportionate black deaths are due to racism.  The greater violence of US police compared to UK police is responsible for well over 90% such deaths.   This is because the UK has much less than 10% of US police deaths per capita.  So even compared to other police services organized on communist lines the US is far more lethal to blacks than it would be if simple racism were the problem.  


So why would removing the communist system largely solve the problem?  Because the problem is one of incentives and accountability, and communism does both badly.  Consider what has to happen for a police officer to be punished for killing someone.  The body that employs him, the government, has to admit it's at fault.  The people who have to cooperate with the cops to help their prosecutions have to   act against them.  Fundamentally the system has to decide to inflict harm on it's own support.  The only reason this would happen is if the political cost of not punishing the cop is greater than not doing so.  This removes accountability but crucially it removes it both ways.  If a cop isn't punished when public perception says he should be it's blamed on political efforts to protect him, even if that is not the case.  


Privatizing police would remove both problems.  The government wouldn't control the private police, so they can't be blamed for their actions.  Because there would be multiple competing private police forces any police officer would be investigated by one (or more) independent organizations.  His buddies couldn't have his back even if they wanted to.  As a private citizen doing a private job he would have no special privileges like "qualified immunity".  The government decision to prosecute or not a private cop would not be seen as a political decision, any more than prosecuting any private citizen would be.  No interest group would see it as enabling abuse if cops didn't get charged.  A failed prosecution wouldn't be seen as a political blow either, merely incompetence. 


Lawsuits against private cops would also be more just because they would not be political.  It would not be a political matter whether a police organization settles a case of supposed police brutality.  There might be accusations of racial injustice, but those accusations wouldn't be used to win elections.  They would be a matter of corporate PR.  


Speaking of corporate PR the cops would have a great incentive to behave and to hire people who will behave.  Even ignoring lawsuits there's the problem that people hire people that protect them, not shoot them.  An officer that can't be trusted to refrain from homicide is not an asset to someone trying to compete in a market.  What is an asset is an officer that will respond to things that hurt their clients, and only those things.  Enforcing drug laws, arresting people who braid hair without a license won't get new clients.    


If government provided funds to individuals to buy their own police protection the poor would still have protection.  Possibly they would have more protection than they currently have since a private firm would have to protect their clients to avoid losing them.   In some cases police forces have failed to protect some minorities for decades, effectively leaving them with no police force (although they still get taxed).  In the event of widescale violence against a group police firms would have incentives to protect, rather than abandon, the oppressed.  


All problems with police, past and present, ranging from race-based oppression, political spying and intimidation, selective enforcement depending on victim or offender, repression of sexual and religious minorities etc. all stem from the police being part of the State's monopoly of force.  All stem from the Marxist mantra being applied to policing.  It's time to use the best method for producing cars, holidays, and insulin to producing security.  It's time to say no to communism, if you really want to protect black people, or anyone.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Stakeholder capitalism is just fascism for a good cause. Which means it's just fascism.

The first claim of "Stakeholder capitalism" (which I will call stakeholderism) is that it treats all stakeholders equally, which is a lie. Stockholders alone under Stakeholderism are not allowed to have anyone represent their interests alone.  Customers are allowed to buy solely on their perceived costs and benefits alone. Similarly workers are not compelled to keep at their jobs, either permanently or when they wish to take a break.  All other parties can proceed as though their interests were paramount to them except for stockholders.  


So it's based on a lie, but might it still be a noble lie, good for society?  No.  Even assuming that the goals of Stakeholderism are noble and worth taking control of someone else's property, this does not achieve goals easier than current methods.   Everything that can be done by taking control of companies policies could be done cheaper and more effectively by simply legislating or paying the companies to do things.


To understand why consider the people who would actually implement the policy of Stakeholderism and their incentives.  These would be corporate executives that get promoted and paid bonuses according to at least 3 competing goals.  These would be 1) long term profit, 2) short term profit and 3) serving the political goals of the government.  Let's not pretend that the goals would be set by anyone else but the government.  Their incentive would be to appear to be achieving all of these goals, even if that's impossible.  They would not be accountable for the failure of any of these goals because it would be impossible to sort out what was done to achieve which goal.  Any failure to be profitable would be blamed on the effort to achieve "social*" goals.  Any failure to achieve "social*" goals will be blamed on the necessity to produce profit.  They would have no special training in achieving "social*" goals  Any training they did have would be inadequate because there simply isn't the time to learn to be a good profit maker, a good social reformer and actually work at either profession.


But the incentive structure gets worse when we consider the government.  Large corporations are vulnerable to control by government because even small decisions can cost them millions or even billions of dollars.  They need to keep the government sweet at almost all costs.  So the corporation has a massive disincentive to pursue solutions that conflict with a government agenda.  Actually it's worse than that because no corporate officer could be sure how pursuing social goals might politically influential people.  So they would avoid funding or otherwise helping any program that might be politically controversial.  This is actually worse than leaving social programs to the government, since the government presumably knows what politically influential people want because they tell them.  If Program A has features that might offend feminists, race hustlers, "family values" people or whoever but it actually doesn't offend them, the government would know.  The corporation wouldn't even ask for fear of a backlash and potential political costs.


Stakeholderism actually makes the problem of government control of corporations worse.  If an organization openly says that it's all about profit they can't be questioned for pursuing it.  By claiming to be all about social good it makes it easier for the government to pressure them into supporting programs that suit the government.  There is no guarantee that programs the government supports will  achieve worthwhile social goals efficiently or at all.  There is no guarantee that government goals will be positive.  Governments have supported, at various times, racism, classism, inverted classism, religious bigotry, persecution for political opinions and homophobia.  Now you might say that the bad days are all behind us.  But if that's the case explain why Trump was either needed or happened (depending on whether you're for or against him).  


Now consider the control corporations have over government, which is inevitable once corporations realize the government controls them.  If a group controls you then human nature makes you want to control them, at least to the extent their control is neutralized.  This means that government might be prevented from examining the results of those pursuits by corporate influence.  If corporate influence isn't sufficient to prevent an examination the examination is unlikely to be objective.  The judgement will be made on political grounds not objective benefits because either the corporation or it's opponents will rig the results.  This is almost literally the worst method for determining the worth of a project.


But at least Stakeholderism provides more resources to achieve these noble goals right?  No, taxation can already transfer as much resources as Stakeholderism could to "worthwhile" causes.  The limit in either case is the potential collapse of the company not the unwillingness of corporate executives to support social goals.  If the income is taxes they have no choice but to support such goals.  Government doesn't ask.  Worse Stakeholderism encourages dodgy accounting to inflate the apparent cost of pursuit of social goals.  


Stakeholderism also encourages action on the wrong scale.  Large corporations are, or should be, at the most efficient size for their commercial pursuits.  Smaller than a certain amount and they cannot access economies of scale, larger and they can be crippled by management problems or other diseconomies of scale.  There is no reason why the proper size of an organization to correct a social problem would be even close the the proper size of any particular corporation.  If an effort is sufficiently small compared to the organization then it won't have a significant effect on it's decision making, it will be ignored by those in charge.  This will lead to either under- or over-resourcing of a project because the organization has no reason to care about small amounts.


A good program to correct a social ill requires a number of things, 1) resources, including labor, 2) a plan to efficiently use those resources, 3)  a method to asses the good and bad effects of the program, 4) a way to adapt the program to minimize the bad effects and maximize the good (if necessary by scrapping the project),  5) a way to avoid interference in the program by those who interests are compromised by it.  Stakeholderism is worse at all of these criterion that current methods, bad as they often are.


* Actually political goals.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Why racism is not an issue of "predatory" capitalism

This is a review of "Why racism is an issue of predatory capitalism" by Sam McKenzie Jnr. At no point in his article does Mr. McKenzie define capitalism, so he's not a serious thinker. Nevertheless he deserves a reply, because he wasted my time and must be punished.

 "Capitalism and racism are two systems in the soiled fabric of America’s flag that many agree will never lower or end."

Starting with a mixed metaphor isn't great but perhaps he was on a deadline.

"Until now, I don’t have many words on record about capitalism and how changing capitalism is key to ending racism."

Well you could start by showing that societies that ended capitalism became less racist, or at least didn't get more racist.  Since racism predated capitalism as most historians understand it it would be hard to argue that capitalism caused racism , but again he doesn't define capitalism.  Maybe what he calls capitalism actually predates racism.  Racist stereotypes by the way date back to at least ancient Athens.  

" In addition, the Black middle and upper classes don’t stand on solid ground because racism makes them more likely to fall into lower classes."

Actually we can't say that.  If there is significant racism that's a barrier to black people getting into the middle and upper classes, meaning that those that do achieve it are more capable.  Therefore it might be the case that black middle and upper class people are LESS likely to fall into the lower classes than white people people.  This is really his second claim and his second claim without evidence.

"But for those who fall, capitalism is an accomplice, an accomplice that demands the widest class divisions."

And here we go from unconfirmed claims to outright wrong ones.  The class divisions of capitalism are nowhere near as big as those of North Korea, medieval Europe, Dahomey under the warrior queens of almost any other society.  Capitalism is the greatest negater of class in existence.  There are no capitalist lords who can execute peasants, no capitalist bishops who can be tried only in ecclesiastical courts. When leftists talk about privilege they prove how little privilege there is.  I mean REAL privilege is being able to carry a weapon when no-one else is, or demand trial by combat.   It's not having people not assume you're stealing stuff in a shop. 

"In her book, bell hooks also writes, 'capitalism creates an environment of domination.' "

Before capitalism was there an "environment of domination"?  Hell yes, so clearly capitalism didn't create it.  Did it sustain it then?  Well it depends on what you call "capitalism" and again, because Mr. McKenzie is a professional agitprop producer he didn't.  What we do know about the actual progress of what most people call capitalism is that it eroded domination.  It ended slavery and serfdom in country after country. 

What caused most of the domination during the time when "capitalism" could be said to exist?  Well there's colonialism, which was a massive money loser and therefore not what most people call capitalist.  It was also exclusively empowered by government, not private business, although private business did of course take advantage of opportunities, abusive or otherwise.  There's also war, which again, is a loss-making government endeavor.  So again not "capitalist" as most people understand it.

 

"Capitalism and racism have an unending collaboration.

This alliance is visible in environmental racism, wage gaps, food sources, housing prices, lending practices, the drug trade, healthcare, the criminal justice system, student loan debt, and even stereotypes."

 

We will see below that he doesn't show this alliance is visible in any of these.  In fact he doesn't even show that "environmental racism" exists, let alone that capitalism increases it.

 

"We’ve seen businesses hide under capitalism as an excuse for dumping toxins in Black neighborhoods. It’s far too easy for business executives to say, 'we’re not racists, we’re capitalists.' But for the people on the receiving end of that toxic line, that’s a distinction without a difference."

Ok, firstly when have we seen this?  And what would be the point?  Dumping toxins in neighbourhoods gets you in trouble regardless of the race of the residents.  Even if capitalists did say this why would it not be true?  Do you imagine that someone who dumps dioxin in a black neighbourhood wouldn't do it in a white one?  Why?  

 

"Many health disparities swell in Black communities from the noxious combination of capitalism and racism that leaves people parched in food deserts with no stocked, affordable, and quality grocery stores."

So are you saying that there are no such stores because people don't want to sell to black people, or because black people don't make such businesses profitable?  Because if capitalism is stopping people selling "quality groceries" in black neighbourhoods where rent is cheaper then racism doesn't come into it.  Capitalists wouldn't open, or keep open, a loss-making store in a white area either.  If changing the race doesn't change the outcome, there is no racism. 

 

If on the other hand he's saying that "stocked, affordable and quality grocery stores" would make a profit that's worse.  He's saying that there are literally thousands of opportunities for profit and every single one of millions of potential capitalists are so racist they ignore it.  Bear in mind thousands of them are black. 

 

"For those who wish to grow old in their homes, it’s capitalism that prices out long-time residents."

No it's other people who want to live in those homes.  Why is the desire of one person to live somewhere more important than another person's desire to live there?  He seems to think that staying in a house you neither built nor paid for is somehow a right.  He doesn't justify this implication, or even make it clear, because he's a propagandist not an intellectual.

 

"That same capitalism allows preying banks to lend without end..."

Again, what does he mean by capitalism?  He seems to be condemning credit expansion here, but that's something government interference in the market creates, not the market itself.  Is he saying the current central bank model is capitalism and no other system is?  Because if you can get rid of the central banks the banks can't "lend without end" and therefore capitalism without central banks doesn't have this problem.  Or is he saying that there are multiple capitalisms and the one we have now allows these practices? 

 

" and use the most biting and bloodsucking practices."

Such as?  And where is his evidence that it's capitalism, rather than the State that allows these practices?  In a capitalistic system without massive state interference in banking might these practices end?  Might free market competition and a lack of government guarantees persuade bankers to abandon practices that alienate their customers?    Talking about what he refuses to cover takes up more space than what he does cover.

 

"If we want to talk about the drug trade, capitalism and racism push drug dealers to push drugs."

No drug buyers do that.  Nobody sells drugs because they don't like black people.  They sell them because that allows them to consume more goods and services.  Unless you propose a system where satisfying consumer demand doesn't benefit you that's going to be a constant.  Imagine what that system would be like, if what you produced had nothing to do with what someone wanted.  Still want to abolish capitalism.

 

"For a pharmaceutical industry, that’s callous with a stupidity and a cupidity for cash, we can blame capitalism for the lack of regulation and access."

There are literally billions of dollars of regulatory hurdles in the drug business.  Satisfying regulations takes YEARS.  If this is what he calls "lack of regulation" what would he be satisfied with?  And how is it capitalism's fault that drugs are hard to access after government adds years hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of bringing them to market?  This man seems to know literally nothing about the subjects he talks about.

 

"but healthcare and gaping wage gaps aren’t the concerns for a frighteningly frigid and rigid system of capitalism conjoined with racism."

You have shown literally no evidence for racism in the health care industry.  As for the frigidity and ridigity of the system where is the evidence that's due to capitalism and not the massive interference in the workings of capitalism in the healthcare industry?  Healthcare if probably the second most regulated economic sector in the USA, after banking.

 

"With criminal justice, capitalism and the criminal justice system are an illicit pair that reproduce unequal brutalization. It’s capitalism that heavily arms police forces as their suppliers get richer. "

No police forces are not capitalist institutions and without capitalism the police would still be armed.  Or do you imagine that police are only given guns so politicians can place gun orders?  Because that's paranoid as hell and provably wrong.

 

"The prison system has a quenchless demand for more prisoners to fill their ready-made roles because of capitalism."

But the prison system is mostly not capitalist and wasn't capitalist at all for the first century or so of it's existence.  In fact many prisoners are there for being capitalists.

 

 

"But also, it’s class and capitalism that make it easier to avoid jail or get out of jail for the right type and price."

Again, the court system isn't capitalist.  Even the legal system isn't very free market as there are strong government controls to restrict the trade.  Without restrictions on capitalism legal defence against criminal charges would be much cheaper, probably within the means of the poor.  But even that isn't the real problem.  Again the court system is not a capitalist system.  It doesn't have customers and therefore is not constrained to bring cases only against those who people want brought before it.  People who have not agressed against anyone and owe nobody compensation can be brought in and subject to it's judgement, regardless of whether anyone thinks it's worth spending the money to have this happen.  

 

"When I think about our schools, I see how capitalism and racism lead and lace them at every level. "

Then you're delusional because the education system in the USA is almost pure socialism.  Tens of thousands of dollars of a product is given away for free, mostly to people who wouldn't buy it for half it's cost and in many cases to people who don't want it at all. 

 

"Then for Black college graduates, saddled in a rat race with student loan debt much heftier than white students, "

No explanation is given of why that is or if this is after controlling for course selection.  Do black students take more expensive courses?  I don't know, so I can't say if this claim is even meaningful. 

 

"And as industries either saturate or abandon captive communities, predatory capitalism can engineer stereotypes with its systematic and selective exploitation and exclusion.'

None of this means anything.  He doesn't define what "saturating" a community would mean, nor how that community is "captive".  He doesn't say what "engineering" a stereotype would look like.  He doesn't show that "exploitation" has a meaning, let alone a negative one.

 

"My justice requires restitution for this mess. "

It's either justice or it's not, there's no such thing as "my justice". 

 

"To see progress and to end racism, we must finger capitalism too.

And with all the ways predatory capitalism attacks us by race, we need many hands striving to change capitalism.

Capitalism and racism are symbiotic, and capitalism finances the system of racism.

Malcolm X rightly told white America they 'can’t have capitalism without racism.' ”

There is literally no evidence for these claims in the article. 

"It’s clear white America wants capitalism and racism. "

White people have been voting against both for decades.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Eugenics works.


Could eugenics work?

Definition

First let's define work as "create a society which is more like the society someone might want". Eugenics is the effort to increase the frequency in a human population of genes useful for a purpose and decrease the frequency of genes harmful to that purpose.

Practicality

The answer is yes. Thousands years of selective animal and plant breeding has shown that you can alter the gene frequency in a population and achieve desired results. There is no physical difficulty in applying the same methods to human populations, other than potential resistance by the subjects. Obviously humans are better at preventing breeding by direction rather than as they like than dogs are. Of course morally most people have more problems forcing two people to breed or not breed than they have with two horses or wheat plants.



There are limitations on the usefulness of eugenics.
Firstly the effect you want to create must be possible by changing individual humans, even if you're changing a lot of them. Changing genetics will not directly make a society more democratic, so eugenics prevent or abolish dictatorships. It might however change behaviour patterns of people to promote or diminish democratic values, if those values are heritable.


Secondly the quality to be changed must be heritable, although it need not be entirely heritable. Heritability is quantifiable and equals the proportion of variance of a trait in a population that is due to heredity. For instance height is about 80% heritable. If you have a group all of whom have the genetics equal in effect on height their actual heights will vary by about 20% as much as the general population. The more heritable a trait is the more eugenics can be used to alter it. If a trait is only say, 20% heritable you will only be able to change 20% of the variation in the trait at best. Not that heritability talks about the variation in the trait not the trait itself. You can't increase height by 80% because heritability is 80%. You can change it by (at most) 80% of how much it varies. So if humans varied in height from 1m to 2.2 height varies by +/- 120 cm so at most you could change height by 96 cm. In practice that you couldn't change height that much for various reasons.


Thirdly you must be able to measure that trait well enough to guide eugenic decisions. Height is fairly easy to quantify, but suppose you wanted to breed for "niceness". How would you quantify it well enough to make a reproductive decision? Perfect measurement is necessary, but the less accurate the measurement the harder it will be make changes. I will define "proxy usefulness" (u) as the proportion of the variance in a trait that is indicated by the proxy. So instances with the same proxy rating the actual value of the trait will variance will by (1-u) * general trait variance. So for instance if you can measure height very accurately you might have a .99 proxy usefulness for height. That means that the variation in actual height from the height you record is .01 of the variation in height.

A trait high in heritability and with a good proxy to measure it by can be increased over time by eugenic means.

Fourthly eugenics will only work if a way to change reproductive decisions in a particular way. If you can't change who gets born or not born you can't use eugenics, which leads on to the next subject.

Morality

That leads to the question, should eugenics be used, and if so by what means and for what ends?
Let's deal with means first. Changing people's decisions about whether to breed is one set of means, technological means to alter the genetics of offspring are another. Let's deal with the former first. There are fundamentally 3 ways of changing a person's actions, force, reward and moral pressure.

Every attempt to use force to achieve eugenic ends has been abusive by definition and has the results you would expect from an abusive system. Those who want to put abusive systems in place tend to want to abuse, rather than solve the real problems of human beings. Therefore they are careless in their pursuit of any aims of actual value. Fundamentally a human being owns themselves, and therefore you have no right to control their reproductive system any more than you have a right to control their vocal chords. It should be noted as well that the Nazis extremely abusive in pursuing their goals and extremely vague about what those goals were. Defining what an Aryan is isn't easy. At least it isn't if you ignore all the actual science and history and make up a mythical ethnicity and call it 'Aryan'. Their efforts to eliminate mental disability were particularly clumsy because they refused to use the best proxies (which of course showed Ashkenazi Jews as smarter than Germans or anyone else).

Rewards are far preferable to force as a means of persuasion, provided the means of reward was not gained by force. This is for the same reason that wages are preferable to slavery as a means of getting cotton picked. Everyone has the right to make decisions about their own body. Everyone else has the right to offer them benefits for using it in ways the offerer would prefer. There is nothing inherently immoral about telling someone "You have a heritable trait that would make society worse if passed on, I will offer you these resources if you don't pass on those genes.". Neither is it immoral to say "I think you have heritable traits that would benefit society, you can have some resources if you breed.". It will be up to the owners of those resources to decide whether it is worth it to achieve eugenic goals.
Moral pressure is simply someone stating that they believe that doing something, or not doing it, is right or wrong. It is simply the expression of an opinion about the appropriateness of an action. If done without manipulation or deception there is no moral problems with this.

Thanks to technology selecting who should (not) breed and with who is only one eugenics method. Potential future individuals can be genetically selected or even improved before birth. An embryo found to have genes that are not beneficial can be terminated, in the case of in vitro fertilisation this can happen before implantation. This is already done with genes for serious genetic problems, but could be expanded to terminate all embryos that have genes for low IQ, or alcoholism. You can even choose to implant only those embryos that have the genes you want. This is not genetic engineering, no genes are being implanted in the embryo, they are only examined and used to determine if the embryo goes to term.

Provided you believe, as I do, that a clump of cells is not a human being then there is no moral problem in terminating it.

All these of course deal with the morality of the means, rather than the morality of the eugenic goals themselves.

Firstly of course the goals should be well-defined and refer to actual things that exist, not for instance the a mythical connection to some supposed past master race. Secondly the goals should actually make people's lives better. For example you could increase the general level of cognitive ability by eugenic means. Cognitive ability seems to have a good proxy in the form of IQ. It helps achieve improvements like better productivity, greater understand of phenomena and lower levels of violence. Other goals might be the reduction of harmful behaviours like addiction, which might have a genetic component.

Some people have claimed that eugenics would lead to problems of inbreeding, but that is unlikely to be a problem. Inbreeding became a problem with sub-species that were very intensively bred for particular traits. In dogs inbreeding became a real problem after the invention of "dog shows" that bred very intensively for very specific traits. When dogs were bred for more general traits like usefulness in sheep herding or in particular sorts of hunting inbreeding was not a serious problem. Additionally the populations they bred from were much smaller than the current human population. Even assuming that people will mainly breed within their own race* these races have hundreds of millions of members. Even if only the most desirable 1% bred (and that would be an extreme use of eugenics) there would still be enough diversity in that population to avoid inbreeding.

* Yes race is a valid genetic category of humans. Sorry if this is controversial but it's not to people who actually notice facts.

Monday, March 25, 2019

This post is commentary on "A feminist philosopher makes the case against Jordan Peterson Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist. By Sean Illing "

 "One part of the book that I found disturbing was when Peterson responded in his capacity as a psychologist to a particular client. According to Peterson, the client announced, “I think I’ve been raped.” "


He wrote that he immediately thought that alcohol was involved. How else to understand “I think”? But that wasn’t the end of the story. She added an extra detail: “Five times.” The first sentence was awful enough, but the second produced something unfathomable. Five times? What could that possibly mean? My client told me that she would go to a bar and have a few drinks. Someone would start to talk with her. She would end up at his place or her place with him. The evening would proceed, inevitably, to its sexual climax. The next day she would wake up, uncertain about what happened — uncertain about her motives, uncertain about his motives, and uncertain about the world. Miss S, we’ll call her, was vague to the point of non-existence. She was a ghost of a person. She dressed, however, like a professional. She knew how to present herself, for first appearances … Miss S knew nothing about herself. She knew nothing about other individuals. She knew nothing about the world. She was a movie played out of focus. And she was desperately waiting for a story about herself to make it all make sense. 

 I’d raise an alternative explanation: Maybe she was raped — five times, as she stated — and then was effectively undermined or even gaslit by her therapist."

OK let's consider what would have to have happened for that to be true.  She would have had to go drinking,  voluntarily, started talking to a man,  voluntarily,  gone home with this man,  voluntarily leaving herself vulnerable to bring raped.   And she would have had to had done this despite being having been raped before in the same situation multiple times. This is incredibly unlikely unless this woman has serious mental issues that make her testimony unreliable at best.

 To be clear, I’m not saying that that is what happened. I can’t possibly know, on the basis of what Peterson writes here. But I’d certainly like to know more, and I’m surprised Peterson has not yet been asked about these and similar passages, in which he comes across as highly contemptuous of female clients. Later, he goes on to say this about the woman: Who are you? What did you do? What happened? What was the objective truth? There was no way of knowing the objective truth. And there never would be. There was no objective observer, and there never would be. There was no complete and accurate story. Such a thing did not and could not exist. There were, and are, only partial accounts and fragmentary viewpoints. Funnily and sadly enough, Peterson sounds like a stereotypical postmodernist here — one of his chief intellectual foes. And it doesn’t seem accidental that his skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist." 

No this is not like post-modernism.   He is not saying the is no objective truth,  merely that it cannot be determined because there was nobody there who could objectively observe.  He is not skeptical of objective facts at all.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Genetic IQ differences between races are likely

This is a respose to "Why genetic IQ differences between 'races' are unlikely"  by Kevin Mitchell
"In the article, Reich emphasises the arbitrary nature of traditional racial groupings, but still argues that long periods of ancestry on separate continents have left their genetic marks on modern populations."
Note that he 'asserts' this, not concludes it based on the massive evidence that is literally as plain as the nose on  your face.

"These are most evident for physical traits like skin and hair colour, where genetic causation is entirely uncontroversial. However, Reich asserts that all genetic traits, including those that affect behaviour and cognition, are expected to differ between populations or races."
Again he characterises Reich's views as assertions.  This is not an argument.

"But it also suggests that since genetic variation will contribute to higher or lower IQ in any given population, the genetic differences between one group and another will also underpin mean differences in IQ.
In fact, the genetics and evolutionary history of intelligence suggest just the opposite."
Note that we're two paragraphs in and he hasn't even started to support this claim.

"Most of our traits, such as height, for example, are set by natural selection at an optimal level "
Actually height is only 80% heritable so it's not exactly 'set' by natural selection, the range within which environment can influence is set by natural selection.  That he made this basic a mistake this early is not encouraging.

"– it’s good for humans to be about so tall, on average. Some genetic variants tend to make people a bit shorter than average and some tend to make people a bit taller. The balance between these variants has been maintained by natural selection to keep average height 'just right'."
Actually it doesn't, it makes height tend towards the optimal from where it was, which is set by what the optimal was in previous generations.  So again, basic mistakes in evolutionary biology.

"Intelligence is not like that. Unlike height, where being ever taller had no benefit, strong evolutionary forces drove intelligence in one direction only in our ancient ancestors."
No that's not true at all for reasons he will actually mention later.  Even if it were true that doesn't mean that all population evolved intelligence at the same speed.

"This increasing selective advantage of ever greater intelligence led to a snowball effect, which was probably only stopped by the limitations of the size of the birth canal and the metabolic demands of a large brain."
Yes, that's right, genes for greater intelligence have COSTS, which means that his claim that there is only evolutionary pressure to increase intelligence is wrong.

"Evolution thus endowed us with a genetic program that holds the instructions of how to build our complex brains, with our resultant cognitive prowess. But any genetic program will be affected by chance mutations and this one is no different. What sets it apart from traits like height is that most genetic random mutations that affect on intelligence will do so negatively."
Here he's using the term "negatively" to mean "have less of this trait".  This is not very helpful since if you take negatively to mean "badly for the organism" the meaning is completely different and his conclusion applies to ALL traits.


"Instead, genetic differences in intelligence may largely reflect the burden of mutations that drag it down."
Or they may reflect mutations that increase intelligence but for some reason have not been fixed.  He actually mentions the reason why some intelligence-boosting genes might not be fixed*.  More on that later. 

"Because most random mutations that affect intelligence will reduce it, evolution will tend to select against them. Inevitably, new mutations will always arise in the population, but ones with a large effect on intelligence – that cause frank intellectual disability, for example – will be swiftly removed by natural selection. Mutations with moderate effects may persist for a few generations, and ones with small effects may last even longer. But because many thousands of genes are involved in brain development, natural selection can’t keep them all free of mutations all the time. It’s like trying to play multiple games of Whack-a-mole at once, with only one hammer.
The result is that any population at any time will carry a varied bunch of mutations that affect intelligence. These will differ between populations, clans, families, and individuals. This constant churn of genetic variation works against any long-term rise or fall in intelligence."
Only if we assume that all intelligence-boosting genes in humans are already fixed.  He really hasn't offered any evidence of this except the supposedly one-way pressure on intelligence.

"Another crucial point is that genetics tends to affect intelligence in a much more indirect way than it does skin colour, height, and other physical traits. Like that Formula One car’s performance, intelligence is an emergent property of the whole system. There is no dedicated genetic module 'for intelligence' that can be acted on independently by natural selection – not without affecting many other traits at the same time, often negatively."
Did you catch that?  The reason why intelligence boosting genes might not have been fixed in the human population yet?  There are human genes that boost intelligence but are disadvantageous in other ways.  These genes are not necessarily advantageous in any given environment.  The advantages of greater intelligence might not be worth the disadvantages of whatever costs the genes inflict.  Also this might change depending on the environment, which would explain genetic differences in intelligence that Mitchell denies can happen. 

"We need to get away from thinking about intelligence as if it were a trait like milk yield in a herd of cattle, controlled by a small, persistent and dedicated bunch of genetic variants that can be selectively bred into animals from one generation to the next."
While it's harder to selectively breed with large numbers of relevant genes it is not impossible.  Another mistake.

"It is quite the opposite – thousands of variants affect intelligence, they are constantly changing, and they affect other traits. It is not impossible for natural selection to produce populations with differences in intelligence, but these factors make it highly unlikely."
Actually it doesn't, if anything it makes it more likely.  For populations to have exactly the same average intelligence is unlikely because the total effect in the change of all genes that affect intelligence would have to be the same, despite there being dozens of such genes that affect other (dis)advantageous traits.

"To end up with systematic genetic differences in intelligence between large, ancient populations, the selective forces driving those differences would need to have been enormous."
No over the thousands of generations that they would have to be less than 0.015 IQ points per generation difference between the selection pressures of various races.

"What’s more, those forces would have to have acted across entire continents, with wildly different environments,"
Actually no, it would have had to have acted in part of an entire continent and the population in that part would have had to have bred with the rest of the continent.

"and have been persistent over tens of thousands of years of tremendous cultural change."
There hasn't been tens of thousands of years of tremendous cultural change, there have been a few thousand such years since we invented farming and herding.  Before that everyone's culture was hunter/gatherer groups.


"Such a scenario is not just speculative – I would argue it is inherently and deeply implausible."
More implausible than the effects of thousands of genes that affect a trait having exactly the same effect in different environments?  Given that hundreds of those genes have other effects that are differentially selected in the various environments this is not just implausible, it's science fiction.


"The bottom line is this. While genetic variation may help to explain why one person is more intelligent than another, there are unlikely to be stable and systematic genetic differences that make one population more intelligent than the next."
Far from supporting this claim Mitchell has actually provided all the evidence to refute it.

"So if we are concerned about people’s intelligence, we would do better to focus on the environmental and cultural factors that we know are involved and which can be changed."
That would depend on what context we're considering the intelligence in.  If you are considering whether the over- or under-representation of a population might be due to discrimination or other factors you HAVE to consider genetics.

"There is no shortage of them: maternal and infant healthcare, early life nutrition, exposure to neurodevelopmental toxins such as lead, and access to and quality of education all make a real difference."
Actually I don't think there's any evidence that education makes a real difference in IQ.

"IQ scores are a measure of a person’s intellectual ability, not the limit of their intellectual potential."
Which has nothing to do with the point.

"Focusing on things we can change should ensure that everyone can reach their potential."
But acknowledging things you can't change is essential if you're going to understand the subject.  But that wasn't what this article was about was it?

* Fixed means that all instances of a species have that genetic mutation.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

How not to debunk IQ

"It is via jjvb not via positiva."
Don't add Latin just to look smart.
 "Designed for learning disabilities, it ends up selecting exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”. "
And yet it predicts for almost all positive results in society from income to marriage stablity.
 "The concept is poorly thought out mathematically (a severe flaw in correlation under fat tails,"
Which again can't be too bad because it is the best predictor of almost all good results.

"fails to properly deal with dimensionality,"
It doesn't need to. Again it's a pretty good predictor of a number of things, that demonstrates it's useful and therefore not pseudoscience. Sure a series of measure for various types of mental functioning would be better. However so far you certainly haven't been able to provide such a series of measures.

"treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system"
OK firstly you know an instrument can be a complex system right? And in any case making a simplifying measurement of a complex system doesn't mean you're not treating it as a complex system. It just means you're concentrating on a subset of it's properties so as to more easily analyze it. You know, science?

"and seemed to be promoted by racists/eugenists,"
It doesn't matter who promotes it.

"people bent on showing that some populations have inferior mental abilities based on IQ test=intelligence;"
Nobody argues that IQ test=intelligence and in fact many people pushing the idea that disparate outcomes are explained by cognitive differences go BEYOND the IQ test.  They refer to 'g', the hypotheticized general level of intelligence and point out that questions that are 'g-loaded' are even more racially differentiated than general IQ questions.

" those have been upset with me for suddenly robbing them of a “scientific” tool, as evidenced by the bitter reactions to the initial post on twitter/smeara cmpaigns by such mountebanks as Charles Murray."
Given that Charles Murray is the most smeared academic I've heard of it's rich for you to complain that he responds with smears.  When we're talking about twitter the evidence is easily accessed, so screenshots or it didn't happen.

" psychometrics peddlers looking for suckers (military, large corporations) buying the “this is the best measure in psychology” argument when it is not even technically a measure"
I don't think you know what a measure is.  Nor do I think you understand why large organizations would want a proxy for something, which is not the same as a measure.

"it explains at best between 13% and 50% of the performance in some tasks( those tasks that are similar to the test itself),"
Earning an income isn't similar to the test itself.  Maintaining a stable marriage isn't similar to the test itself.  Health outcomes aren't similar to the test itself.  Yet all of these are predicted to some extent by IQ.

Far more important is the fact that 13% let alone 50% of the performance in a task is a HUGE difference!  Imagine if you have to pick someone for a task where success can be objectively measured.  Suppose that results from the first attempt form bell curve with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 20.  If you had a test that predicted 13% of the outcome that would mean that it had the task would have a mean of 102.6 standard deviation of 17.4 merely from hiring people who score at or above +1 standard deviation.   So over 2% extra productivity merely from applying one test and being somewhat selective on the basis of it.

"minus the data massaging and statistical cherrypicking by psychologists;"
Pics or it didn't happen.

"it doesn’t satisfy the monotonicity and transitivity required to have a measure"
Neither is required to be useful and again, SHOW YOUR WORK!

"(at best it is a concave measure)."
I have no idea what a concave measure is.  I looked up what you meant by "concave" and you named it stupidly (it should be "concave up").  How a measure can be concave I have no idea.

"No measure that fails 60-95% of the time should be part of “science” "
Actually it should the sign should just be reversed.  But please tell me one test where the predictions of IQ fail 60% of the time?  Show me something where if I make a prediction based on how IQ is presently understood I would not just fail as often as chance but 10-45% MORE OFTEN.  I think you're just lying now.

"The graph that summarizes the first flaw (assuming thin tailed situations),showing that  “correlation” is meaningless in the absence of symmetry. We construct (an intelligence test (horizontal), that is 100% correlated with negative performance (when IQ is, say, below 100) and 0% with upside, positive performance. We progressively add noise (with a 0 mean) and see correlation (on top) drop but shift to both sides. Performance is on the vertical axis."
Except for that to work you have to ASSUME that the actual correlation is 0% above a certain point.  This is a testable hypothesis.  It's predictions do not pan out.  If there was no effect of greater IQ past a certain point then extremely high IQ individuals would not have different results than those of moderate (but above threshold) IQ.  This is not the case.

" The problem gets worse with the “g” intelligence based on principal components."
No it doesn't.  I know it doesn't because you claimed it did and didn't support it.

"There is no significant correlation (or any robust statistical association) between IQ and wealth."
So you've found one measurement that didn't corelate to IQ, so what?  Considering that it almost certainly correlates to income and income corelates to IQ at about .23 that means that IQ correlates to income BETTER when wealth is taken into account.

"Most “achievements” linked to IQ are measured in circular stuff s.a. bureaucratic or academic success,"
If that were true it would be irrelevant since "most" is not the same as "all".  Otherwise we could just construct a million tests and say "Most achievements linked to IQ are measured in circular stuff." even if literally thousands of legitimate measures were linked to IQ.

"things for test takers and salary earners.;
What is wrong with earning a salary?  Why is that somehow an indication you aren't intelligent or aren't using intelligence to succeed.

"Wealth may not mean success but it is the only “hard” number,"
No it's not.  Income, conviction rates, accident rates, these are all hard numbers.  You are simply lying how.

" not some discrete score of achievements."


" You can buy food with a $30, not with other “successes” s.a. rank, social prominence,  or having had a selfie with the Queen."
Do you honestly think that nobody ever got free food because they had social prominence?  You don't human very well do you?

"Some argue that IQ measures intellectual capacity real worldr esults come from, in addition, “wisdom” or patience, or “conscientiousness”, or decision-making or something of the sort. No. It does not even measure intellectual capacity/mental powers."
Yes it does.  It's not prefect but if you want a task done that is cognitively complex IQ is a good predictor of whether someone can do it.  If you pick the highest IQ person out of a pair to do such a task you will be right significantly more than 50% of the time.


"If you want to detect how someone fares at a task, say loan sharking, tennis playing, or random matrix theory, make him/her do that task;"
If you want the task actually done on the other hand, particularly if it's a task that causes bad effects if done badly use all the useful measures to determine if they're going to be good first.  That includes IQ.

"we don’t need theoretical exams for a real world function by probability-challenged psychologists.  Traders get it right away: hypothetical P/L from “simulated” paperr strategies doesn’t count Performance=actual. What goes in people’s head or reaction to a screen image doesn’t exist (except via negativa)."
So the billions of hours spent in  simulators was a waste of time?  The idea that the only way to determine if someone might be good at something is to  have them actually do it is suicidally stupid.  I wonder if this guy will be good at running a nuclear power plan?  Well no way to tell let's just see.

Even in situations showing presence of a correlation Income-IQ, you seeM ONSTROUS noise. Even at low IQ! From Zagorsky (2007)."
So what?  Yes with .23 corelation there is a lot of noise.  That doesn't mean that ignoring IQ is a good idea.  It just means that it's not perfect.  You seem to think that a measure not being perfect means it's useless.  Or rather you pretend to think that.

"Why are we talking about it? This truncates the big upside, so we not even seeing the effect of fat tails. Fat Tails If IQ
is Gaussian by construction and if real world performance were, net, fat tailed (it is), then either the covariance between IQ and performanced oesn’t exist or it is uninformational."
I know you pretend to think you've shown that but you really haven't.

"It will show a finite number in sample but doesn’t exist statistically. Another problem: when they say "black people are x standard deviations away”. Different populations have different variances, even different skewness and these comparisons require richer models."
They really don't.  If blacks are say 5 IQ points lower a different variance might change exactly how many blacks you'd expect to be CEOs of major corporations, but it doesn't change that you wouldn't expect them to have substantially less than proportionality.  At least not unless you're saying that they have s.d. at least a point higher than whites.

"These are severe, severe mathematical flaws (a billion papers in psychometrics wouldn’t count if you have such a flaw).

See the formal treatment in my next book. Mensa members: typically high “IQ” losers
in Birkenstocks."
And here he was criticizing others for smears.  Of course mensa members are self-selected and not necessarily typical of high-IQ individuals.  How you quantify "loser" is not specified and I suspect not specifiable.

"But the “intelligence” in IQ is determined by academic psychologists like the
"paper trading” we mentioned above, via statistical negative performance (as it
was initially designed to detect learning special needs)"
You know they've changed the tests since then right?

"but then any measure would work there."
Yeah we measured whether they liked banana pancakes and it detected special learning needs.

"A measure that works in left tail not right tail IQ decorrelates as it goes higher) is problematic."
But that doesn't mean it's not useful.  You keep acting like this is a killer argument, it's not.  It would be if you could demonstrate that say, IQ 120 people were as likely to IQ 150 people to achieve any results.

"We have gotten similar results since the famous Terman longitudinal study,"
And yet you cite not a single such results, either relating the the Terman study or not.  Frankly from what I've read the Terman's study did show that the "gifted" children succeeded far above what chance would suggest, even correcting for the students being well educated and white.

" even with massaged data for later studies."
Show don't tell.

"The statistical spin, as a marketing argument, is that a person with an IQ of
70 cannot prove theorems, which is obvious for a measure of unintelligence but they fail to reveal how many IQs of 150 are doing menial jobs)."
Because that's irrelevant.  The relevant number is what proportion are doing extremely complex mental tasks successfully compared to the proportion at other IQ levels.  A proxy for this is holding highly paid and prestigous jobs, being published in scientific journals etc.

"It is a false comparison to claim that IQ “measures the hardware” rather than
the software."
Did anyone say it did?

" It can measures some arbitrarily selected mental abilities (in a testing environment) believed to be useful."
And shown to be by the consistent corelation of IQ to success at all levels, even if it decreases at higher levels.  Again, useful doesn't equal perfect.

"However, if you take a Popperian-Hayekian view on intelligence, you would realize that to measure it you would need to know the mental skills needed in a future
ecology,"
No because pattern recognition is valuable regardless of environment.  All successful prediction is based on pattern recognition.  In any case you're assuming that IQ doesn't corelate at all to general intelligence, that is the general ability to complete cognitive tasks.  It does.

"which requires predictability of said future ecology. It also requires the skills to make it to the future (hence the need for mental biases for survival)."
But IQ is corelated to getting to the future.

" 1) When someone asks you a question in the real world, you focus first on “why is he/she asking me that?”, which shifts you to the environment (see Fat Tony vs Dr John in The Black Swan) and detracts you from the problem at hand. Only suckers don’t have that instinct."
No most people in most contexts focus first on helping the person who appears to need help.  Sure in some contexts I might ask myself why they need the help, particularly if they are people who have shown themselves to act against my interests or who are behaving strangely by asking.  Some questions might invite that response.  For instance "Where would you hide a Supreme Court judge's body if you only had a few hours to shift it?" would tempt me to consider the askers motives.  "Where's the bus stop?" probably wouldn't.

" 2) Real life never never offers crisp questions with crisp answers"
Should you go back to the ex lover who raped one of your friends once and you multiple times?  That gets a fairly crisp no.

" most questions don’t have answers;"
How would you know that?  Where is your evidence?  And why is that relevant?  After all most questions are never asked because nobody cares.  What was the amount of katsup spilled on Chicago Cubs fans sitting in prime numbered seats during home games in the 1997 season?  Nobody knows and nobody cares.  There are an infinite amount of other questions I could ask that are equally irrelevant.

"perhaps the worst problem with IQ is that it seem to selects for people who don’t like to say “there is no answer, don’t waste
time, find something else”. "
Where is your evidence for this?  You say "seems" as though it's just something you came up with sans any specific evidence.  Like saying "Asians can't drive." because you remember seeing a lot of bad Asian drivers without considering any actual scientific data on Asian driving.

"3) It takes a certain type of person to waste intelligent concentration on classroom/academic problems."
Firstly note the assumption that these problems are a waste of time.  He shows no evidence of this and in fact there are literally thousands of examples of problems academics were interested in that were not a waste of time.  Things like imaginary numbers for instance.  Without understanding those we wouldn't have Euler's equation which is vital to understanding electrical waves, which this computer runs on.

"These are lifeless bureaucrats who can muster sterile motivation."
So they are "lifeless" because they can concentrate on something you can't see the point of, but which other people want them to do?  Wow, you're a really horrible person you know that?  I mean condemning people for being able to do a job someone else wants them to do.

"Some people can only focus on problems that are real, not fictional textbook
ones (see the note below where I explain that I can only concentrate with real
 not fictional problems)."
Then you're kinda stupid.  I mean if you can't think something through merely because you can't relate it to a physical entity your imagination is severely limited.

"4) IQ doesn’t detect convexity (by an argument similarto bias-variance you need to make a lot of small inconsequential mistake in order to avoid a large consequential one. See Antifragile and how any measure of “intelligence” w/o convexity is sterile edge.org/conversation/n)."
It doesn't need to.  Convexity is a quality of the world, not the minds inside the world.

To explain convexity as you uses the term is a situation where the costs from acting are likely to be small and the benefits big so making multiple mistaken acts for each beneficial one.

"To do well you must survive, survival requires some mental biases directing to some errors."
How is that relevant to IQ?

"5) Fooled by Randomness: seeing shallow patterns in not a virtue leads to naive interventionism."
And why would high IQ people see a higher ratio of shallow patterns to deep patterns than lower IQ people?  Sure they would see more patterns regardless of whether they were shallow or deep.  But you yourself point out the value of large numbers of attempt at something even if most are failures.  Hell you wrote a book about it.  So higher IQ people seeing more patterns is a good thing, even if most of them are shallow.

"Some psychologist wrote back to me: “IQ selects for pattern recognition, essential for functioning in modern society”. No. Not seeing patterns except when they are significant is a virtue in real life."
But nobody can see only the significant patterns, not even the smartest scientist trained for years.  What happens in fact is that we see a pattern and try to figure out if it's significant.  Now it's true that highly intelligent people will spend time trying to figure out if more chance patterns are in fact valid signifiers of a relationship.  That's OK if they also figure out more valid signifers of a relationship.  False positives are not as bad as false negatives.

" 6) To do well in life you need depth and ability to select your own problems
 and to think independently."
You're not going to define "do well in life" or "depth" are you?  While thinking independently can be valuable if you can't think WELL it's not helpful.  New ideas from an idiot are generally not worth the time to hear.  Present company excepted.

“ Upper bound: discount the massaging and correlation effects. Picked up from the highly
 unrigorous Intelligence: All That Matters by S. Ritchie.”
Note that again he does nothing to back up his claims that everyone else is disingenuously unrigorous etc.  Note that this is from the man who claimed that "most questions" don't have "crisp" answers without a single reference from any field.

 “Functionary Quotient: If you renamed IQ , from “Intelligent Quotient” to FQ
 “Functionary Quotient” or SQ “Salaryperson Quotient”, then some of the
 stuff will be true. It measures best the ability to be a good slave.”
No it measures the ability to complete complex tasks that have no direct benefit to you in an environment where completing that task pleases others.  In other words it demonstrates that you can work for other people, which in modern society is kinda important.  That's not being a slave.  It's being a worker and if you can't see the difference you're an idiot.  It does not indicate that these people are more subserviant, just that they are prepared to do what others want in certain specific circumstances.

 “The argument that “some races are better at running” hence [some inference about
 the brain] is stale:”
Arguments are valid or not, there is no such thing as "stale".

 “mental capacity is much more dimensional and not defined in the
 same way running 100 m dash is.”
How many dimensions something has determines how easy it is to measure, not whether it could have evolved to different extents in different races.  Nor is how something is defined relevant.  Evolution works on things that have real effects however we define things and whether we define them at all.  If we had never tried to define intelligence it would still have a differential effect on our survival and alleles for it would still reproduce at different rates than other alleles.

 ;The Flynn effect should warn us not just that IQ is somewhat environment
 dependent,”
Nobody denies this.

“ but that it is at least partly circular.”
????

 “If you looked at Northern Europe from Ancient Babylon/Ancient Med/Egypt, you would have
 written the inhabitants off... Then look at what happened after 1600.”
So what?  The fact that a group did not succeed compared to some other group in a different environment thousands of years ago doesn't mean anything about it's IQ or it's effect now.

 “The same people hold that IQ is heritable,”
Everyone in the field who isn't a complete joke holds that it's heritable.  The evidence is overwhelming.

“ that it determines success, that Asians have higher IQs than
 Caucasians, degrade Africans, then don’t realize that China for about a
 Century had one order of magnitude lower GDP than the West.”
So what?  Nobody said that high IQ in a population was capable of overcoming the massive problems that culture and government can create.  Find one person who believes in racial IQ differences that believes that whites in the most horrible political system imaginable would be able to thrive.

“ Reactions to this piece in the Alt-Right Media:”
Name one of the people you describe who identifies as alt-right or who qualifies under Richard Spencer's definition.

“all they got is a psychologist who still hasn’t gotten to the basics of noise/signal.”
Again stop making claims without evidence.


 “Mathematical Considerations
 CURSE OF DIMENSIONALITY A flaw in the attempts to identify “intelligence”
 genes. You can get monogenic traits, not polygenic (note: additive
 monogenic used in animal breeding is NOT polygenic).”
Out of the four ways you could be wrong in the above quote you got one right, and it was the one that favored your opposition.  It's possible to detect genes that affect a  polygenic trait.   That's what I think you meant to say since of course we can detect polygenic traits being tall is a polygenic trait and I can tell if you're tall.  There doesn't seem to be such a thing as "additive monogenic" traits.   Traits with many genes that add up to affect them are called "polygenic".  What I think you meant by polygenic is that a gene will affect a trait differently depending on the presence of absence of other genes.  These can be detected too, easily.

These "synergistic" genes each have an average effect on a trait equal to the probability that the combination of other genes they synergize with are present and the effect on the trait if they are.  So if having genes A, B and C have an effect on IQ of +1 and the probability of genes B and C being present given that gene A is is 0.01 the average effect of gene A is +0.01.  This if there is a population of 100 million people with Gene A the group average IQ will have an s.d. or 15/10,000 or about one sixth the size of the gene's effect.  So Gene A will be six sigmas out.  That's detectable.  Of course it depends on the numbers of people with the gene combination and the size of the effect, but that's true of non-synergistic effects too.  All that matters is a)  how probable is the genetic situation in the population, b) how big an effect does it have on IQ and c) how big is the population you study?   

I know you don't like to think about theorectical situations but it really helps to do so before commenting on them.