Saturday 17 August 2013

IQ research, the sexual revolution and traditionalist Christians - another litmus test


There is a link, a strong link, between the post-1965 demonization of IQ research and the sexual revolution - and therefore with traditionalist Christianity (that is, Christianity which sees itself in continuity with the Christianity of the past 2000 years).

First there is timing - intelligence research, and specifically the ideas of group differences in intelligence and hereditary intelligence, is merely a quantification of universal common sense among humans.

Yet this universal common sense was denied and then inverted from the mid-sixties, exactly in parallel with the sexual revolution.


Everybody had always known that - for example - men and women have significantly different abilities and natures, and that these differences are intrinsic (inborn).

Everybody had always known  that children - on the whole, on average - resemble-their parents in terms of abilities and personality - as well as appearance.

Research into intelligence and personality differences simply tries to put numbers to this stuff which everybody already knows and always has known

- yet in putting numbers to it, and making this knowledge thereby suitable for public discourse - there is inevitably a selectivity and distortion, as there is with all science.


There is a trade off, always, to getting greater precision - it comes at a cost.

The cost can be and should be discussed - the distortions and incompleteness need to be kept in awareness.

But the underlying reality remains.


What about the sexual revolution?

Well, just at the time when IQ research was being demonized, punished, vilified - so was traditional sexual morality.

This, again, was a matter of taking what everybody had always known and problematizing it.

In the first place,traditional sexual wisdom was not 100 percent correct - this was taken to mean that it was complete nonsense.

Secondly, it could be shown (sometimes honestly, often dishonestly) that different sexual traditions existed in different times and places.

But, instead of looking of common underlying features behind superficial differences, difference was instead taken to mean that sexual morality was purely arbitrary, and could be reinvented at will. 


A whole style of evaluation thus developed - which now rules the public domain.

This involves pseudo-scientific micro-methodological critique of whatever disagrees with the prevailing anti-traditionalist, New Left, politically correct consensus.

100 percent perfection or outright rejection is the evaluation rule for opposed ideologies - meanwhile the prevailing ideology is judged by its expressed aspirations and intentions, and gross incoherence thereby excused.

Since the mid-60s discourse on sexual morality involves highlighting the individual exceptions, creating thought experiments which showed that abandoning traditional ideas/ knowledge would not necessarily lead to disaster, at least not to instant disaster - it was possible to imagine, at any rate, situations in which a complete sexual free-for-all and abolition of all previous distinctions was a part of a kind of euphoric bliss...


That was what much of late 60s popular culture was about - imagining this state of sexually free bliss; and thereby rejecting all of human history, knowledge, wisdom up to that point.

And the evaluation style which made this possible is precisely the evaluation style which made possible the suppression/ rejection of all traditional human knowledge relating to ability (IQ) and human nature (personality) - to the point of denying that there was any such knowledge at all, and that the whole domain of hereditary differences was one created and sustained wholly by evil motivations (thus providing yet another reason for rejecting traditional wisdom - closing the loop, sealing the fly bottle).


This is why an acknowledgement of hereditary differences in abilities and personality has become a litmus test not just of political seriousness and honesty, but a litmus test of traditional religion.

What I mean is that traditional Christian denominations and there adherents will, sooner or later, be confronted with decisions which either affirm the reality of traditional knowledge concerning hereditary human differences - or else, in rejecting this traditional knowledge, they will find that they have also rejected the evaluation mechanisms which enable them to reject the sexual revolution - at which point they will inexorably move towards 'liberalism'/ secularization.

Alternatively, if traditional denominations adhere to the evaluation methods by which the sexual revolution may be rejected, they will sooner or later find that these same evaluations will lead them to accept the reality of significant hereditary differences in ability and character (including between sexes and any relatively genetically separated human groups) - and this will bring them into head-on conflict with prevailing public morality.


This ought not to be a surprise nor a challenge for Christians who see themselves as adherents of traditional standards; but in fact it often is a very big challenge - since this aspect of dishonest New Leftism has seeped almost everywhere and assumed the appearance of scientific skepticism and informed common sense.

But that is precisely why it is a litmus test - sooner or later traditional Christians will have to choose between the traditional understanding of human differences which also enables and underpins traditional sexual morality; and the New Left relativism and cultural constructivism about personality and intelligence which will swiftly lead to embrace of the sexual revolution.



Sojka's Call said...

Good post! The question that comes to mind for me is how to differentiate between science that should be considered by religion (Galileo, for example) with the valid issues you bring up in the post. It is easy to say that it is obvious which are valid and which are not and in the examples cited I agree. But, there are other more subtle issues that are going to come down to a difference of opinion.

Bruce Charlton said...

@SC - A theme of mine in recent years has been how rare are the necessary conditions for science, and how actual science is done by small numbers of people - I mean each active science being done by few enough people to fit in a room.

That means that most, almost all, science is taken on trust - so the critical factor is 'who to trust?' (who is both sufficiently competent and also honestly motivated)- sometimes more people are trustworthy, sometimes fewer.

Jonathan C said...

The connection you're drawing here is really non-obvious (at least to me), but pretty convincing now that I've thought about it. I wonder how you ever made the connection. At any rate, it goes to show that your writings on creativity are partly based on first-hand experience.

Karl said...

If the two changes you point to have a catchword in common, the word is equality. You have said a lot of good things about the incoherence of mere equality as an ideal, but now when you juxtapose the sexual revolution with mandatory squeamishness about noticing differences in capability, I find myself wondering how soon any egalitarians will notice how unequal the consequences of sexual liberation actually are. Men differ greatly in their attractiveness to women. Monogamy once maximized the median male's chance of getting at least one woman. Now the number of men who are shut out of the sexual marketplace seems to be growing.

Rather than look for data in support of this hunch, let me commend to you a little-known work of Aristophanes, the Ecclesiazusae. The women seize political power, enact socialism, and follow through by enacting that all shall have equal rights to desirable sexual partners. Such a right is a glaring omission in every contemporary egalitarian program of which I am aware.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Karl - I do not regard equality as a genuine desire - it is merely an excuse for something else.

Even in real equal societies - such as hunter gatherers - it is actually the outcome of each individual asserting that 'nobody else should have more than me' - rather than a genuine wish for equality.

See the postscript to:

I speak as someone who was briefly that ludicrous thing, a genuine egalitarian - but I was immensely annoyed and dismayed to find that nobody else on the Left actually agreed with this, especially not the Leftist governments, Trades Unions, feminists and so on

jgress said...

Interesting. My impression is that opposition to the sexual revolution is more important for traditional Christians than egalitarianism. Or rather, certain kinds of egalitarianism which impinge on the sexual revolution, like sexual equality, are indeed at odds with traditional Christianity, but other kinds of egalitarianism, like racial equality, have at best marginal significance in traditional Christian thought.

Within the traditional Church hierarchy, for example, there is a notion of inherently different roles for men and women. Only men may join holy orders, and in patristic writing about marriage it is clear that husbands are called to lead their wives, who in turn are called to obey. But I can't find anything similar regarding racial differences; men and women of any race can achieve any rank in the Church appropriate to their sex.

What are your thoughts?