On Gay Marriage

A person initially stands in relation to the state as free. This being characteristic of the first relationship, the state must justify its actions that limit the freedom of its people. If this cannot be done, then a freedom-restricting law cannot be justly passed, and if such a law were already in place, it would have to be repealed. This is the logic that follows from the claim that a person starts off as free. If the initial relationship between a person and the state were the other way around, if a person had to justify why his freedom in this certain area of life should be granted, then the initial condition of a person would be that of a slave, and such a condition is unjust. It follows from this logic that opponents of gay marriage must provide a good reason why to limit marriage in the way that they propose. They must provide evidence that allowing people of the same sex to get married will bring some type of unquestionable harm to others. To claim that their God denounces it or to claim that it is simply their moral view is insufficient, since neither of those satisfy public reason, which states, in essence, that reasons that are in favor of some political rule must be justifiable to those who are affected.

The proponents of any freedom-restricting law must make three convincing arguments before it can be justly implemented. The first was already mentioned in the previous paragraph, and that is that the proponents must show how the specific action they want to make illegal will hurt others. This is to say that they must show why the state has an interest in making a free person less free. Once this is done, the proponents must show why limiting this specific freedom outweighs other values that we might have that support this freedom. For example, a convincing argument could be made that the interest in maintaining health outweighs the freedom that people have to ride public transportation undressed. The last argument that must be made is that the a freedom-restricting law is the only feasible way to prevent this harm to others. To provide a convincing argument for this, the proponents must show that other methods have already been used and have failed. Liberty is intrinsically valuable and should not be infringed unless it is the last resort to prevent harm.

To my knowledge, the first argument has not been convincingly made by proponents of traditional marriage. However, to give them the benefit of the doubt and for the sake of argument, let us assume that there is an unquestionable harm that will result if people of the same sex were allowed to marry each other. Let us assume, for example, that gay marriage will cause harm to a certain percentage of children by leading to higher divorce rates and more single parenting. And let us assume that those two phenomena unquestionably harm children. The second argument still needs to be made. The proponents of traditional marriage must make a convincing argument that the harm that is done to those children outweighs the freedom that people have to marry someone else of the same sex. This is a much harder argument to make because of the specific type of freedom they want to restrict. It is useful to clarify that not all freedoms are equal; some freedoms are more valuable than others. The freedom to ride the bus without clothes cannot be compared to the freedom that people have to marry someone else of the same sex, for the latter is part of the freedom to pursue happiness. However, once again, let us assume that this argument can be convincingly made. It is now necessary for the proponents of traditional marriage to show that banning gay marriage is the last resort to prevent this harm to children, meaning that they must show that all less freedom-restricting methods have been exhausted. This is a difficult task, and one that is increasingly difficult the more important the relevant freedom is, but one that must be done in order to justly restrict people's liberties.

Perhaps an example will illuminate the argument that I am proposing. Let us look at a possibly unjust law that parallels banning gay marriage, but for which a stronger justification can be provided—the one-child policy in China. Everyone can agree that overpopulation will harm others and that perhaps preventing overpopulation is more important than the freedom to have as many children as one wishes. That said, assuming that not all other less freedom-restricting policies were exhausted, the law is unjust. In the case of overpopulation, the more freedom-respecting solution would have been the empowerment of women. It is quite well understood that as women become more educated and independent, birth rates tend to fall. This would have been the more just way to prevent overpopulation, even though it would have been possibly more difficult. Let us take a look at another example—the sale of cigarettes. The fact that cigarettes cause unquestionable harm and that the benefit of preventing the harm outweighs the freedom to smoke does not lead to the conclusion that we must ban cigarettes. There are other ways to address the problem, and the way the United States did it—with the use of public awareness campaigns—was the right (and successful) way. Likewise, when it comes to the issue of gay marriage, it might be that the just way to do it is with similar public awareness campaigns.

In summary, the three arguments that must be convincingly made are the following: (1) the argument of unquestionable harm; (2) the argument of overriding harm; and (3) the argument of last resort. Until these arguments can be convincingly made, any freedom-restricting law cannot be justly implemented. Having said that, the three arguments above are not applicable in all cases. It is possible that in instances of extreme danger or harm the third argument can be dropped.

The act of restricting freedom should be done meticulously with the utmost care. If it is not done this way, it either does not prevent the feared harm or leads to injustice, and in the most unfavorable cases, it leads to both. Some of the gravest injustices of humankind tend to be intrinsically linked with the unjust implementation of freedom-restricting laws. Given this historical context, it is reasonable for anyone who is knowledgeable of the issue of oppression to put forth criteria that any policy must meet before it makes a person less free, with the criteria increasing in strictness the more valued the freedom. Furthermore, the criteria for such laws should be stricter when they are aimed at historically oppressed groups. The fact that a certain group has been historically persecuted and oppressed justifies an increased sensitivity to their issues, and the reason is this: the effects of tradition, whether they are just or unjust, are extremely difficult to eliminate. The influence of how things were done in the past, and the corresponding mentality, remains for many generations. Consequently, when a specific group has been historically treated unfairly, an increased sensitivity is necessary to prevent the implementation or continuance of any modern law that is based on the elusive vestiges of the unjust beliefs and practices of the past.

The argument presented here is not in favor of a formless marriage, but one that respects the freedom of people. Given this as the starting point, any restrictions on marriage, which are in essence restrictions on freedom, must be justified. Accordingly, if a conception of marriage is to be adopted, it must start from a wide conception and then move toward the narrower, if it is seen to be justifiable that it should be limited in such a way. With this in mind, let us now make an attempt at constructing a freedom-respecting conception of marriage.

First, let us address whether or not marriage can occur between a person and an object, a person and a nonhuman animal, an adult and a child, a child and a child, and a person with himself or herself. An immediate analysis of the conception of marriage should rule out any of these mentioned arrangements. Marriage, at the most basic level, is a contract. Being a contract, the participants must be able to give their consent. Objects, nonhuman animals, and children cannot do this and therefore should not be allowed in any arrangement of marriage. Moreover, the nature of a contract is such that it must take place between two or more people; thus, a person cannot marry himself or herself.

Now let us consider marriage between family members, polygamy, and same-sex marriages. At first, the argument against marriage between family members seems to be the health of the offspring. Assuming that it is true that closely related family members have an increased chance of giving birth to children with genetic disorders, there is a legitimate concern. However, if the health of the children were the first priority in a marriage, then the state would have to restrict marriage between any two people who have any genetic disorders that have a certain chance of being passed down. Though this difficult argument could be made, it is ultimately not the strongest reason why marriage between family members should not be allowed. A greater worry is power abuse, which is an infringement on one's liberty. If the marriage is between a parent and their child, there is a concern that the arrangement is not fully consensual. And given that consent is necessary for a just contract to take place, the state should be reluctant to allow such marriages, if it turns that after an empirical study there is good reason to believe in the existence of power abuse in such cases. If, however, the marriage is between siblings, there might be less worry that there is power abuse and thus should be more acceptable. Like marriage between a parent and their child, the main worry with polygamy is power abuse. And like the former, if after empirical study there is no good reason to believe in the existence of such abuse, then the state would not be justified in banning it. From this reasoning, we come to the following conclusion: any marriage should be allowed by the state if it consists of two or more fully consenting adults. Since gay marriage is consistent with this conception, it follows that same sex couples should be allowed to get married.

Being that a person initially stands in relation to the state as free, and being that consent is the expression of a person's free choice, the state cannot prevent any would-be marriage that consists of two or more fully consenting adults without infringing on people's freedom unless, again, the three convincing freedom-restricting arguments can be made. This is not to say that there is nothing more to marriage than consent—there are certainly elements of intimacy, devotion, and sacrifice that cannot be captured by the idea of a mere contract—but for the state, when deciding what model of marriage should be legally recognized, those elements are of second importance.

I shall conclude with this: Only after the initial relationship between a person and the state is acknowledged can we appropriately begin to speak of restricting freedom. If people are made less free before this is done, I fear that there will always be a group of people whose dignity shall be stripped away from them.

Youtube Search Suggestions

Here are some interesting Youtube search suggestions for different races/nationalities in alphabetical order.

I wasn't aware that Americans were giving up their citizenship.

Why are Asians eyes?

Afraid of chainsaws?

Both so hot and ugly.

Americans aren't afraid of the dark. USA! USA!

Because they're German.

Obsessed with fairness? Maybe I should look up ndtv.

I'm surprised that there aren't more suggestions.


That's a good question.

Can you be racist BECAUSE you're scared of black people?

My Life in St. Louis

I have lived in St. Louis for two and a half months now and I can finally say that it feels like a second home. I have a nice, cozy studio apartment located in a relatively nice neighborhood close to school. All of my classes have been both challenging and interesting. And I have made quite a few friends here through the various activities that I have taken up.

First the apartment. My place is on the third floor of this apartment building that was built in the 1920s, I believe. There is no central heating, but I do have a window unit. All the utilities except electricity are included in the rent, and the rent itself is not too high for this area. Since I am going to be here for about six years, I decided to buy real furniture for the first time in my life. I have a couch and two accent chairs. The kitchen is a decent size, but I do not have a lot of counter space, which is bad. Regarding the surrounding areas, I live about one mile away from school, which is extremely convenient because it is within biking and walking distance. The grocery store is about half a mile away, which is farther than I would like it to be, but extremely easy to get to with a bicycle. (Speaking of my bicycle, I bought one within the first two weeks of arriving here, and I managed to tie a milk crate onto the back of it. It has been extremely useful in carrying groceries.) The neighborhood that I live in is called the Central West End and it is filled with random shops and restaurants. There is also a light rail/subway station within walking distance, which is really nice even though the public transportation here is not that good. The unfortunate part of my neighborhood is that there is no large department store. In order to buy clothes, appliances, or furniture, I have to take the subway to Target or ask a friend for a ride. Most people here have cars as St. Louis is a driving city. In that sense, it is like a tiny Los Angeles.

Regarding schoolwork, the typical student course load here is three per semester. Currently, I am taking Kant, Hegel, and Aristotle. I have never done any Hegel before so I am very happy that I am being exposed to new material. I just wish that Hegel were easier to understand. He writes with such odd vocabulary that it is difficult for anyone who does not specialize in Hegel to actually understand him. Because of this, he is probably the most difficult philosopher that I have ever encountered. Regarding Kant and Aristotle, I have always read the work of people who have been influenced by them, but never their work directly. I am very glad that I am familiarizing myself with these famous philosophers. The more I learn about them, the more I realize why they are so widely read.

A couple of things regarding the philosophy department. First, St. Louis University (SLU) is not known for its political philosophy. In fact, I am the only political philosopher of my class of seven people. Second, being that SLU is Catholic, there is a strong religious presence here, especially in my department. The chair is actually a priest and I am the only one in my class who has no religion. (I am also the only Asian.) So in couple of ways, I am in the minority. That said, I have felt very welcomed ever since I arrived. I do not feel like I have been ostracized at all because of my beliefs.

Regarding my extracurricular activities, I have only great things to say. Before I even moved here, I told myself that I had to take improv and lindy hop classes. I am happy to say that I followed through with those plans and that they have brought so much joy into my life. It is difficult to express how much fun both of those activities are and how nice it is to be able to meet new, nice people. After doing philosophy all day, it is very satisfying to engage in an activity that is challenging in a completely different way that academia is while also being relaxing. I feel like I am developing myself in a myriad of ways and thereby living a more flourishing human life.

In other news, I am also happy to say that I recently came back from presenting a paper at a conference in Florida. The conference was hosted at the University of Tampa and was organized by this one philosopher who started this blog that I participate in. My paper was about Iris Marion Young's model of oppression and the feedback I got was quite helpful. I hope to be able to publish this paper and give myself a head start in the world of academia. What was also very nice about going to this conference was that it was mostly paid for by the school. Graduate students can get funding both from the department and from the Graduate Student Association. But due to their limited funding, they can really only cover the expenses of one trip per year, which is still nice.

All in all, I am very happy that I got the privilege to study here. The fact that I am getting a stipend to read, think, and write philosophy is wonderful. I cannot wait until next year when I start to teach Introduction to Philosophy. There will be a room full of freshman who are ready to take their first steps!

Racial Preferences in Dating

I recently read a very interesting article about racial preferences in dating. The study was conducted by Columbia University and the data was collected through multiple speed dating sessions that were organized by the experimenters. Here are the findings that I find interesting:
  1. We observe a strong asymmetry across genders in racial preferences: women of all races exhibit strong same-race preferences, while men of no race exhibit a statistically significant same-race preference. 
  2. Older subjects have a weaker same-race preference. 
  3. Our subjects do not find partners of the same race more attractive, so race-specific conceptions of attractiveness cannot account for these same-race preferences. 
  4. We also find that subjects’ backgrounds strongly influence their racial preferences. Subjects that come from intolerant places reveal stronger same-race preferences. 
  5. We also consider the effect of early exposure to other races. We find marginally significant evidence that those subjects that grew up in a ZIP code with a larger fraction of inhabitants of a particular race are less willing to date someone from this racial group. In other words, familiarity can decrease tolerance. This result is unaffected by controlling for the average income in the ZIP code. 
  6. We also find that more physically attractive people care less about the race of the partner. 
  7. We conclude that subject’s own race does not influence the rating of a partner’s attractiveness. 
  8. For male partners, our main finding is that Asians generally receive lower ratings than men of other races. In fact, when we run the regressions separately for each race, we find that even Asian women find white, black, and Hispanic men to be more attractive than Asian men. 
  9. We similarly find that female Asian partners are consistently rated as less attractive, though we also find that black females receive significantly lower ratings relative to whites. As above, we find that when these regressions are run separately for each race, even Asian men find white, black, and Hispanic women to be more attractive than Asian women. 
There are a couple of these findings that I find puzzling and for which I have no explanation. The first one is the fact that women care more about the race of the partner (1). And the second is that more physically attractive people care less (6).

On the other hand, there are a number of findings that completely make sense and are expected. This includes that older subjects have weaker same-race preferences, because you would expect the people who are more in a rush to be less picky (2). Another finding that falls under this category is the fact that people who come from more intolerant places have stronger preferences for the other partner to be of the same race (4). The last expected finding is the one that showed that Asian males are generally considered to be the least attractive (8).

Besides the unexplainable and the expected findings, there are also the findings that went counter to my expectations. The first one is the fact that familiarity can decrease tolerance. I would have expected that exposure to different races would make one more open (5). The second one is that all the different race of men found Asian women to be the least attractive (9). This was very surprising given the fact that Asian women are highly sexualized in the mainstream media.

Findings (3) and (7) are generally interesting, but I do not have any comments to make about them.

The article can be found here: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/emir.kamenica/documents/racialPreferences.pdf

On Intimacy

First of all, before I write out my feelings on intimacy, I should mention that I have spent the past 5 months in a wonderful relationship with a beautiful woman, a woman who is mainly responsible for what I shall refer to as my emotional enlightenment. I am fully aware that the term “enlightenment” is not a trivial one and so I was initially hesitant to use such a word. However, after careful thought, I have concluded that I must use that term if I am to do my recent experience any justice. I have in the past 5 months, without doubt, matured in the emotional realm more than the previous 10 years combined. And by using the term “matured” I am not claiming that I have solved any of my emotional issues, but rather that I have uncovered what many of them are. Because of my ex-girlfriend's intelligence, maturity, and patience, I can now begin to address the problems that I never knew existed. This entry is dedicated to her and our short, but precious, time together.

On Affection - The greatest revelation that I have had about myself resulting from my previous relationship is how insecure I am about an imbalance of affection. In short, I realized that I am very afraid of my partner liking me less than I like her. Furthermore, I realized that even the smallest, indirect indication of an imbalance of affection can turn my insecurity into anger. For example, let's say that I highly value sleeping with my partner and that we always sleep together at night. And let's say that one day we are at a party and it is starting to get late, but my partner does not seem to be keeping track of the time. In this scenario, I would take that as a sign that she simply does not value sleeping with me as much, because if she did, she would mention that she wants to go home. Every hour that passes without an indication of her wanting to leave would make me angrier and angrier. Of course it is possible that she simply loses track of the time because she is having fun with friends, but I would not see it that way because of my insecurity. My fear of an imbalance of affection acts as a lens through which I analyze my partner's behavior. This is unfortunate, but true.

On Envy - Another one of my emotional issues that I recently discovered is that I would be envious of my girlfriend if she were to have had more sexual partners than I have had. Through the utilization of a series of hypotheticals, I realized that I would have no problem with the number of people that my girlfriend has slept with, as long as that number is equal to or less than my number. (I should mention that I was very reluctant to acknowledge the conclusion I reached because envy is generally considered to be indefensible.) Furthermore, I suspect that I would also feel uncomfortable with my girlfriend being more experienced because it might remind me of the women who I would have liked to have been with, but who did not want me back.

One positive result of figuring this out is that I am now certain that I do not participate in “slut shaming,” which is what a potential partner might reasonably conclude if she were to realize that I were uncomfortable with her being very experienced.

On Being Traditional – It has always been obvious to me that in the realm of romance and relationships, I tend to be more traditional. This is not to say that I think marriage is for everyone or that I support heteronormativity, but that I am (1) in favor of monogamy and (2) against casual sex. To be clear, I do not claim that either are immoral. As long as everyone involved is a consenting adult who is fully aware of the situation, I do not think it is wrong. Rather, what I am saying is that I do not like them because of the values that I hold.

(1) The value that leads me to dislike multiple partners is specialness; I highly value the specialness of intimacy. Having multiple partners reduces that specialness because by definition, the more common something is, the less special it is. Does this mean that I want a woman who has never been with anyone before because it will be the most special? The answer is no. While it is true that past and future intimacy does lower the specialness of current intimacy, they are overwhelmingly positive. First, if you have not been with anyone before, you probably do not know what you want in a relationship, which I think is not good. Second, regarding future intimacy, if it does not work out between my partner and I, I would want her to find someone else. Because of those two reasons, past and future intimacy do not bother me. Again, I am not claiming that having multiple partners is immoral; rather I am saying that it does not sit well with my values. A perfectly reasonable person may prefer open relationships simply because they value freedom and fun more than specialness.

It may be pointed out that what makes intimacy special is not how rare it is, but the character of the connection. Sleeping with someone who one loves is simply more special regardless of how many other partners one has. There is certainly truth to this statement, but I do not think the commonness factor can be ignored.

Also, I should mention that another reason why I dislike multiple partners is because I am possessive. To be clear, this possessiveness does not come from fear or any other deeper emotion; it is simply possessiveness itself. I want the other person to be mine. And of course this is not to say that the other person is my property or anything like that. It simply means that both of us would belong to each other in an intimate way.

Of course jealousy would be another reason why I am not in favor of open relationships. To clarify, I think jealousy stems from fear of losing the other person, and while I do not think I am the jealous type, I would be afraid of being compared, and losing that comparison.

(2) The fact that I highly value specialness is also why I dislike casual sex. In fact, the reduced specialness of the act is implied in the name. However, the specialness reason aside, there is another reason why I would not want my partner to be in favor of or to have practiced casual sex, and that is I am afraid of what it means for our relationship. If my partner does not think that sex is reserved for an exclusive, romantic relationship, then does it mean that she thinks sex with me is less meaningful than I think it is? Perhaps not, because the connection that we have could make the sex just as meaningful for her. That said, the possibility of it not being as meaningful is always there, and given my fear of an imbalance of affection, it is something that would really bother me.

So far I have combined two distinct points: one is what I am in favor of; and two is what I think is acceptable for my partner to do. These two beliefs do not necessarily have to go together as it is quite possible that I dislike casual sex for myself, but find it completely fine for other people—including my partner—to practice. However, this is not the case. I would want my partner to share my values and it would bother me considerably if she did not. This is for two reasons. First, it would be generally unpleasant if my partner were to not share my beliefs. For example, it would difficult for me to be with a Republican. And second, it would be natural for me to imagine what my partner has done in the past, and that mental image would be painful. It would hurt me to imagine my partner having casual sex or being in an open relationship.

On the Different Types of Sex – Sex to me is a beautiful and romantic act that is reserved for an exclusive, intimate relationship. Unlike many people, I do not find “making love” to be an overly sentimental phrase; in fact, I find it quite wonderful. In certain circumstances, I find it hard to emotionally understand different views on sex. For example, in my mind, there exists only two types of sex: one is sex that consists of only physical pleasure; and two is “sex with romance,” which is the conception of sex that I hold. Let us refer to these types of sex as type 1 and type 3. These two types I can both intellectually and emotionally understand. However, it seems that for some people, there exists another type of sex in between the two that I mentioned. Let us call this “sex with emotional intimacy,” and refer to it as type 2. This is the type of sex that could exist in a “friends with benefits” relationship. Regarding this in-between sex, I can intellectually, but not emotionally understand it. I cannot see how type 2 sex is not an unripened form of type 3. For me, having feelings for someone is like a seed, and being physical with someone is equivalent to adding water and sunshine. This is to say that I can only emotionally understand one type of “like.” When I like someone, it is always the same type of feeling, but on a different position on a spectrum. I could like a person a little bit or like a person a lot. Of course I can emotionally understand the difference between a platonic connection and a romantic one, but if I were to sleep with someone, it could be only one type of “like.” It simply does not make sense to me that there is another intimate spectrum altogether. Ultimately, I do not think this is something I can truly understand unless I actually do it. However, since I do not intend on doing it, I must accept the possibility that it will forever remain foreign to me.

The last thing I would like to mention is how glad I am for my philosophical training. It has provided me with the intellectual tools to dissect and uncover my complex emotions that otherwise would have remained undiscovered, and that ultimately would have manifested in immature outbreaks of frustration, anger, and sadness.

Philosophy PhD

I'm very happy to announce that I've recently been accepted for the PhD program in philosophy at Saint Louis University. I can't express how happy I am at this moment. In fact, I'm still in a state of shock because I wasn't expecting to get accepted into any program this year. Out of the 16 programs that I applied to, 14 rejected me (I still haven't heard back from the last one). Every week for almost two months I received at least one rejection; it was extremely disheartening. I actually don't remember the last time I was so depressed for such a long time. To make myself feel better in this low point of my life, I started taking more showers and going on walks around the park. I know that sounds a bit silly, but they actually did help.

Before I describe the program, I should mention that they offered me a full financial package, which includes tuition remission, a stipend, and health insurance. And this is for all five years assuming that my academic performance is satisfactory. This is the typical teacher assistant package, I believe, and in return, I would need to teach a few courses throughout my time there. I've never taught a philosophy course before so I'm very excited.

A few interesting things about the program:
  • The program requires students to take courses in three out of the following four areas: epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and social and political philosophy. I've never done any reading on epistemology or metaphysics so I'm not sure which one I would like more, though my gut feeling tells me that I would prefer the latter. 
  • The program also requires students to take a course on advanced symbolic logic, which, according to the student handbook, is a course that “examines the metatheory of propositional and predicate logic.” I sort of know what that is, but I have no idea how difficult it will be. 
  • In order to graduate, I would also have to demonstrate reading proficiency in French and German. This is a bit unfortunate because I have no history with French whatsoever and I don't really care for it. This is going to be an interesting experience. 
  • My supervisor will be Dan Haybron, who is a philosopher who does research on well-being and its political implications. For those of you who don't know, his work almost completely coincides with my interests. In fact, there is almost no one else whose interests are more closely aligned with mine than Haybon's. I'm extremely happy that I will be able to study under him. 
Another thing I want to mention is that being accepted to this program means that my lifestyle is going to change. Ever since high school, I haven't lived in one place for more than two consecutive years. I have, for most of my adult life, been a nomad. On the one hand, I have quite enjoyed my travels and I don't regret any of them. Through my various experiences, I have learned much about foreign cultures and I have made many foreign friends. On the other hand, since I keep moving around, I constantly have to leave my newly acquired community (and this was especially painful when I left York). Staying in one city for the next five years will be a big change for me; I hope it will be overwhelmingly positive. In any case, I'm looking forward to it.

Before I end this post, I should mention a couple of the worries that I'm having. The first worry is that Haybron moves to another university. If that happens, I don't know what I'll do since there isn't anyone else in the department that does the research I'm interested in. The second worry is regarding the competitiveness of the job market for philosophy PhDs. There are simply not enough philosophy jobs for everyone. Furthermore, since SLU is not a high ranking school, the chances of me finding a tenure track position is even lower. I think I'll ultimately find something so I'm not too worried, but I am expecting the road ahead to be rough.

Race Differences in Intelligence

I recently finished reading a very controversial book called Race Differences in Intelligence by Richard Lynn. The structure of the book can be broken down into two main parts. The first part is a survey of a wide variety of academic literature that shows that there are differences in the IQs of different races. The second part is where the author presents his arguments on why there is reason to believe that these differences are partly determined by genetics, and why this happened. The author claims the variation of IQ observed between the different races is due to the various climates in which different groups had to survive. In essence, his argument is the following: since colder climates are more difficult to survive in, groups living in those areas eventually developed higher IQs.

The following table lists the races ranked in ascending order of their intelligence levels, and gives their geographical location and their median IQs.

According to Lynn, there are 10 reasons to believe why the variation of intelligence between the different races are at least partly genetically determined:
  1. It is a principle of evolutionary biology that when sub-populations of a species become geographically isolated and occupy different environments, they become genetically differentiated and eventually diverge so much that they become different species. It is in accordance with this principle that the races have become genetically differentiated for all characteristics for which there is genetic variation, including body shape; color of skin, hair, and eyes; prevalence of genetic diseases; and blood groups. It is inconceivable that intelligence would be the single exception to these differences. Some racial differences in intelligence must also have evolved as a matter of general biological principle.
  2. The studies summarized in the table show a consistency of the IQs of the races in a wide range of geographical locations that can only be explained by some genetic determination.
  3. The races differ consistently in IQ when they live in the same environments. Thus, Africans in the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, and Brazil consistently have lower IQs than whites. 
  4. When babies from other races are adopted by Europeans in Europe and the United States, they retain the IQs characteristic of their race.
  5. Mixed-race individuals have IQs intermediate between those of the two parent races. Thus, in the Weinberg, Scarr, and Waldman (1992) study of children adopted by white middle class families, at the age of 17 years blacks had an IQ of 89, those of mixed black-white parentage an IQ of 98, and whites an IQ of 106 (Lynn, 1994c). When the amount of European ancestry in American blacks is assessed by skin color, dark-skinned blacks have an IQ of 85 and light-skinned blacks have an IQ of 92 (Lynn, 2002a), and there is a statistically significant association between light skin and intelligence.
  6. The IQs of races explain the extent to which they made the Neolithic transition from hunter gathering to settled agriculture. This transition was made completely by the more intelligent races: the Europeans, the South Asians and North Africans, the East Asians, the South-east Asians, and the Native Americans; to some extent by the Pacific Islanders, who were handicapped by living in small and dispersed populations on small islands; minimally by the Africans; but not at all by the Bushmen and Australian Aborigines, with IQs of 54 and 62, who have made virtually no progress in the transition from hunter-gatherers to settled agricultural societies. The only anomaly is the Arctic Peoples, with their IQ of 91, who remain largely hunter-gatherers, but this is due to their very small and dispersed populations and the harsh climate of the Arctic Circle.
  7. The IQs of races are consistent with their achievements in the development of early urban civilizations with written languages, systems of arithmetic, and codified laws as shown by Baker (1974), who has documented that only the East Asians, the Europeans, the South Asians and North Africans, and the Southeast Asians developed early civilizations.
  8. All the twin studies that have been carried out in Europe, India, and Japan, and on blacks and whites in the United States, have found a high heritability of intelligence in national populations. It is improbable that these high heritabilities within races could co-exist with the absence of any heritability for the differences between the races.
  9. There are race differences in brain size that are associated with differences in intelligence, and brain size has a heritability of 90 percent (Baare, Pol et al., 2001) (see also Rushton and Osborne, 1995). The only reasonable interpretation of this association is that the races with the higher intelligence have evolved larger brains to accommodate their higher IQs.
  10. The consistency of all the racial differences in so many different nations, in the development of early and later civilizations, and the high heritability of intelligence wherever it has been investigated, all need to be considered in terms of Popper's (1959) theory of the logic of scientific explanation. This states that a scientific theory generates predictions that are subjected to empirical testing. A strong theory has few assumptions and generates a large number of predictions that are empirically verified. If the predictions are discontinued the theory is weakened and may even be destroyed, although a single disconfirmation can generally be explained or the theory can be modified to account for it. For the problem of race differences in intelligence, the theory that these have some genetic basis explains all the numerous phenomena set out in the points listed above, and there are no serious anomalies. The theory that the race differences in intelligence are to a significant extent genetically based fulfills Popper's criteria for a strong theory. Those who assert that there is no evidence for a genetic basis of racial differences in intelligence betray a lack of understanding of the logic of scientific explanation.
Needless to say, I'm quite irritated by this book. First, I don't want to believe that certain races are simply more intelligent than others. Being born and raised in America, I have adopted the racial sensitivity that has made me highly suspicious of any claims of racial superiority. That said, what I want to believe is completely different than what is true, and so if we only consider Lynn's arguments, I have to say that they seem to be quite reasonable. Assuming that his facts are correct, I can't think of any fatal flaws to his logic. However, the second reason why I'm irritated by his work (which is my academic criticism) is that the author adopts IQ as the sole measure of intelligence. I can accept the fact that certain races have higher IQs and perhaps that these variations are partly genetically determined, but I don't accept that we can truly measure intelligence using an IQ test. An alternative to equating IQ to intelligence is the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), which I have found to be much more reflective of the capacities of human beings. Howard Gardner, the main proponent of MI theory, argues that all non-disabled human beings are born with the following intelligences: musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist, and existential. Until advocates of race differences in intelligence incorporate MI theory and show that their conclusions still hold true, I don't accept the claim that certain races are more "intelligent" than others.

The Political Discussion We Should Be Having

Ever since Obama's historical reelection, Republicans have been trying to figure out why exactly they lost. This seemed (and continues to seem) to be a good question to ask. After all, the economy wasn't recovering as fast as people wanted and Obama added trillions of dollars to the national debt. One of the main proposed explanations of his reelection has been the change in demographics. The US, it has been said, is becoming more populated by non-white immigrants who tend to vote Democrat, or as Bill O'Reilly put it, “the White establishment is now the minority” and because of it, “50% of the voting public...want stuff.” This is just one specific example of the feeling among the Right that we are becoming a nation of “takers.”

Although I can see why many Republicans think this, saying that more and more people are being lazy ignores the legitimate ideology of the Left. I'm sure that there are many people who are lazy and who really do just want “stuff” from the government, but that's not what justifies redistributive policies. It would be the same if I were to say that Republicans want to lower taxes because they're selfish. Again, I'm sure this is true for many of them, but that's not what justifies lower taxation.

The honest debate that should be taking place is the one between “equality of opportunity” and “the right to one's property,” which, respectively, are the philosophical justifications that underlie much of left-wing and right-wing policies. Supporters of equality of opportunity would argue that the government has a role to play in leveling the playing field when it comes to living a flourishing human life. It is simply a fact that there is a large difference between the life chances of a person born into a poor family and those of someone born into a rich family. And since the discussion of socio-economic status cannot really be detached from the issue of race, the statement can reasonably be rephrased as the following: life is much more difficult for a black person than a white person. How can this be fair? Why should people suffer from a bad draw of the natural lottery if something can be done about it? They shouldn't, according to a supporter of equality of opportunity. In light of this reasoning, some redistribution of resources must take place and this unfortunately requires “taking” from the rich and “giving” it to the poor in some form or another.

 “But this is theft!” some would say on the right. “I earned my money by working hard and therefore, it belongs to me. By taking it away and giving it to others, it infringes on my rights.” There is validity in this argument. As the famous philosopher Robert Nozick pointed out, taxation is comparable to forced labor. If the government has a claim on a portion of one's income, it is equivalent to the government having a claim on a certain amount of hours of one's labor. This would be an unacceptable infringement on the right to one's property and to one's self, claimed Nozick. Take the example of an accomplished athlete, Michael Jordan. This person has a specific set of skills that are highly demanded by the public. Accordingly, millions of people are willing to buy tickets to see him  play basketball and so over a period of time, he becomes very rich. Can we truly say that his fortune doesn't belong to him?

This is the philosophical debate that we should be having in our public discussions, but instead, political commentators resort to petty attacks on character, which ultimately ignore the legitimate ideologies of both the Left and Right. If we sincerely want the better argument to win in the end, it must be done through the correct way by first recognizing that the beliefs of the other side are justifiable. Doing this may be difficult and so we might be tempted to just brainwash people into hating the other side, but it wouldn't be the right thing to do.

The Value of Love

The woman who shares my grandma's room at the nursing home is in a coma and has been for quite a long time. Everyday when I visit my grandma, I see the woman's husband there reading bible passages to her. One day I even saw the husband asleep in a chair while holding his wife's hand. Seeing this manifestation of love and dedication touched my heart and it made me realize that I am simultaneously sorry for and envious of the husband. On the one hand, I feel so bad for the man because it must be horrible to have your loved one in a such a condition, but on the other hand, I am extremely envious of the love that he has experienced in his life.

Someone once asked Noam Chomsky what love was and he responded by saying that he had no idea, but that life was empty without it. I have personally never fallen in love so I do not know if that is true or not, but I suspect that he is correct and that love is a crucial component of what it means to be human. This is not to say that it will only bring happiness—in fact, it often brings pain and suffering, as witnessed by the husband mentioned above—but it does mean that one will have a richer life. In light of this, I have realized that I highly desire to fall in love.

This has not always been the case, however. Indeed, just a few years ago love did not occupy any of my thoughts. Of course I thought about women, but it was not the same as how I think about them now. In the past, I never truly considered devoting myself to someone for the rest of my life. I never appreciated the idea of having a partner who would always stay by your side. And now, since my stance on love has developed, relationships based on anything less than true love seem to be quite pathetic.

I once watched a news special about a website that aimed to set up rich men with pretty women. (It was practically prostitution but was not illegal because it could not be proven that sexual services were traded for money.) In this special, they interviewed a number of people who used the site including a rich man who owned some production company in Hollywood. To be honest, the man seemed to be quite happy with his life. He had the money and he had the beautiful women. Moreover, he seemed to be perfectly accepting that his relationships were contingent on the fact that he was wealthy.

The question I asked myself after watching this report was this: “Would anyone who has experienced true love ever deem relationships based on money to be as meaningful?” My suspicion is no. I suspect that if that rich man actually fell in love, he would realize that all his previous relationships were "less than." But who knows? Perhaps there are people out there would find monetary relationships to be more fulfilling. I cannot say for certain. However, I am quite convinced that in the end, I personally would rather be the husband reading bible passages to my sick wife than the millionaire with his beautiful women.

Quote from Maslow

This is an excerpt from Maslow's The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.

We fear our highest possibilities (as well as our lowest ones). We are generally afraid to become that which we can glimpse in our most perfect moments, under the most perfect conditions, under conditions of greatest courage. We enjoy and even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in ourselves in such peak moments. And yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness, awe, and fear before these very same possibilities.

I have found it easy enough to demonstrate this to my students simply by asking, "Which of you in this class hopes to write the great American novel, or to be a Senator, or Governor, or President? Who wants to be Secretary-General of the United Nations? Or a great composer? Who aspires to be a saint, like Schweitzer, perhaps? Who among you will be a great leader?" Generally, everybody starts giggling, blushing, and squirming until I ask, "If not you, then who else?" Which of course is the truth. And in this same way, as I push my graduate students toward these higher levels of aspiration, I'll say, "What great book are you now secretly planning to write?" And then they often blush and stammer and push me off in some way. But why should I not ask that question? Who else will write the books on psychology except psychologists? So I can ask, "Do you not plan to be a psychologist?" "Well, yes." "Are you in training to be a mute or an inactive psychologist? What's the advantage of that? That's not a good path to self-actualization. No, you must want to be a first-class psychologist, meaning the best, the very best you are capable of becoming. If you deliberately plan to be less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be deeply unhappy for the rest of your life. You will be evading your own capacities, your own possibilities." 

Though the passage is elegantly written, I wonder how true it is that people are afraid of their own potential greatness. I always thought that people aimed lower because they were trying to be realistic.

Improving My Social Skills

Whenever I see a way to become a better person or to live a more flourishing human life, I take it upon myself to try to overcome whatever fear, prejudice or ignorance I have that is holding me back. This year, 2013, I have given myself the New Year's resolution to improve my social skills, which is something that I should have improved many years ago. The reason why I have only recently decided to pursue this endeavor is because conformity was never high on my priority list. Considering my somewhat rebelliousness nature, it only made sense that I rejected many social norms. However, the mistake that I made was ignoring how my actions made others feel. It was because of my discontent with conformity that I lacked the initiative to develop the ability to read people's emotions and the tact required to know what to say to whom. As a result of my low EQ, I have unintentionally insulted, offended, disrespected, and belittled those around me. It shames me think of all the people I have hurt throughout the years.

Through the conversations that I have had with my close friends, I have concluded that there are two reasons why social skills are important. The first reason is that knowing how to interact well with people is usually necessary to avoid making others feel uncomfortable. The second reason, which follows directly from the first, is that those with good social skills usually have more avenues open to them in their lives. Of the two related reasons, it is because of the former that I have decided to make an effort to improve myself. To be clear, my priorities in life have not changed. I still heavily value individuality and I still dislike conformity for its own sake. Anyone who has beliefs regarding how the world should be must accept the fact that to live according to one's principles will sometimes attract the disapproval of others and thereby limit the opportunities one will have. It is part of the deal so to speak. That said, to be an activist does not require one to be inappropriate or impolite or inconsiderate of others' feelings. In fact, if one believes in the importance of treating others well, which I do, it is imperative to prevent one's indignation from becoming incivility. This was my mistake.

For those that I have hurt in the past and for those I will hurt in the future, I sincerely apologize. I recognize that I have a problem and I am doing all I can to fix it. This is a battle I will continuously fight for the rest of my life.