Furthest Right

A taboo as strong as race: genetic Class differences

We assume social classes and races are imposed on otherwise “blank slate” individuals. The truth is that social classes, races, et al emerge from organic, immanent processes like evolution and social differentiation.

In a study recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, scientists at UC Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the School of Public Health report that normal 9- and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity.

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“Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult,” said Robert Knight, director of the institute and a UC Berkeley professor of psychology. “We found that kids are more likely to have a low response if they have low socioeconomic status, though not everyone who is poor has low frontal lobe response.”

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“These kids have no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage,” Kishiyama said. “Yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be. This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school performance.”


The article spends most of its time apologizing for its conclusions, and suggesting that poorer parents not sitting down to dinner with their kids is the reason why they have lowered cognitive ability. Note that not all poor kids have this; this corresponds to the social darwinist idea that parents who do not value money, or are disorganized and not slower, end up poor as well as those whose brains do not optimize them for any labor, so they default to manual, low-impact jobs.

The taboo-flinging, apologetics, and bad logic will undoubtedly hastily cover this discovery like a mound over a battlefield burial. This topic is as taboo as genetic differences between races — which exist, but may not be important; whether multiculturalism/pluralism is viable or not is another argument — because it points out what we loathe to know: we’re not in control of our lives, we don’t have free will, we can’t be anyone we want to be, and in fact, we serve in small and unimportant parts of a social structure. You are born smart or born not, as that pretty much decides the issue.

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