A Worldview Vulnerable to ‘Hate Facts’

There’s an imaginary guy called Evan.

Evan believes, like his peers, that there are no significant biological differences between any two populations of humans. At least none that are caused by the expression of genes, and that relate to personality traits or cognitive ability.

In Evan’s view, with respect to these aspects at least, there’s a sense in which every healthy human begins as a blank slate. He’s convinced that environmental circumstances are overwhelmingly responsible for how the personality and cognitive ability of every human being develops. Evan believes this view is well supported by studies in the relevant fields.

This outlook also gives him hope that a very thoroughgoing kind of equality is possible through the right kinds of social program.

Evan also believes that it’s fair to describe statements that contradict his blank slate position as sexist or racist, depending on the kind of population the statement relates to. And that by extension, people who believe such statements are racists or sexists.

This combination of beliefs has Evan backed into a corner.

Even if we assume that none of the current findings that get grouped under the human biodiversity (HBD) umbrella have any merit, there’s much more enquiry to be done in these fields. We don’t know what will be found.

Evan isn’t free, psychologically, to go wherever the evidence takes him though. Going down one of those paths, in his view, also means accepting one of the most shameful and damaging labels in his society. In this context Evan is a very strongly motivated to ignore or otherwise find a way to reject any future evidence he comes across that suggests that there are important differences, in aggregate, between how the minds of different human populations work.

Critics of blank slate position sometimes refer to the inconvenient counter-evidence, the kind we can expect Evan to work hard to reject, as hate facts.

I think it’s unwise to attach normative judgements to empirical claims about the world that might turn out to be true.

To the extent that people like Evan care about the truth, and want to protect their ability to pursue it, I hope they reassesses how they’re using the terms racist and sexist.

See also Moldbug’s caution against IQism.