The Quadrantsphere and Biological Determinism

The ‘quadrantsphere’ is a collection of blogs whose subject matters encompass the quadrant of IQ, economics, race/gender and education, with bloggers ranging from Ross Douthat, to Thomas Friedman, to iSteve, and even this website. Additionally, topics that encompass the quadrantsphere are popular on Reddit and other sites that cater to a predominately educated, technologically literate, young adult audience. Topics in the quadrant typically involve people and their interactions with their environment and each other, with the potential to create controversy than more benign subject matters that involve things instead of people, like gardening or cars. A recurring theme of the quadrantsphere is that individuals – through their biology and or environment – have less control or free will than they want to believe, a view that many find controversial because determinism conflicts with the appealing and common notion of free will. This video by Gregory Clark starting at 20:00 explains how hereditary factors contribute to economic success, a view that is an anathema to many on the mainstream left and even the right. The right wants to believe that people can be reformed though hard work and lessening the influence of the government; the left believes individuals can achieve an egalitarian utopia with the help of the government; however, we’re of the opinion that any view that subscribes to individual malleability is probably wrong. We believe that the failure of so many people to thrive in this economic expansion and huge bull market is evidence of social Darwinism, the unfit falling between the cracks, and it’s a waste of resources to pull them out.

The left is comfortable with the idea that biology plays a role in physical ability such as jumping or running to name a few examples, and that some individuals are biologically endowed with more athleticism than others, but to intimate that some individuals, at biological level, are better predisposed to success at cognitive tasks, and that this ability is closely tied to socioeconomic status, is still taboo. The left tries to explain this away by arguing, unfortunately with much success, that the government doesn’t spend enough on social programs to close the achievement and wealth gap.