|This "Links" page works as a sort-of intellectual autobiography,
illustrating the thinkers who had the largest impact on me over the
For some time, I've believed that the most needed intellectual development
would be for someone to come along and reunify the traditions of Adam Smith
and Charles Darwin. Well, that person is here: Ed Miller is an economist
who has turned himself into a remarkable evolutionary biologist.
For example, it recently occurred to me that the remarkable personality
differences so often seen among brothers raised in the same household could
be the result of natural selection for personality diversity among one's
descendants. Just as it's advisable to diversity your financial investment
portfolio, it makes sense to diversify your most important portfolio: your
descendants. To insure their survival, your genes want your descendants to
include both aggressive, fearless risk-takers, and cautious stay-at-homes.
I jotted down this idea, and sent it to Ed. He sent me back a 30 page paper
he'd written on exactly that subject three years ago.
Ed writes mostly scientific papers, and does not seek out publicity.
But, he's creating a remarkable body of work that will someday be understood
as ranking among the most important in the study of human nature. The link
is to the excellent collection of Ed's papers on Louis R. Andrews' interesting
website, Stalking the Wild
About 15 years ago, Gilder turned himself into a high-tech visionary,
and has since made a lot of money. His computer articles are of course
interesting and often brilliant, though it's hard not to be wrong a lot of
the time in such a fast-changing field. What definitely has withstood the
test of time, however, are his writings from 1975-1981 synthesizing sex,
race, and economics.
Students of Human Diversity
Index of Diversity
This is a colossal collection of data (and highly sensible commentary)
about group differences: race, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, etc.
Dr. Rushton is a psychology professor at the University of Western
Ontario, and author of what I call Rushton's Rule: that on a remarkably wide
variety of physical, mental, and social measures, you find the African and
East Asian averages at opposite ends, with the white average in
the mediocre middle. I don't think anybody who has lived in multiethnic
big cities could sincerely dispute this observation (I noticed it when I
was at UCLA from 1980-82, and you probably are at least vaguely aware of
this phenomenon, too). That of course has not saved Dr. Rushton from an enormous
amount of abuse. The above link is to an autobiographical essay. And here's
selection of his papers.
Skelton -- Biological Anthropology Course
Dr. Skelton has graciously posted the full text of his 38 lectures
on Introductory Physical Anthropology at the University of
Montana. A part-time forensic anthropologist
(i.e., the cops call him in when somebody finds a decaying corpse and
they need to establish its sex and race as the first step in identifying
it), he is immune to the hoo-ha that pervades the field of anthropology.
This link goes to his 37th lecture, a fascinating description of how populations
differ in physical shape.
A psychologist at Northwestern, Bailey is a leading researcher into
homosexuality, and one of the handful of realists on this subject where
moralizing (whether of the religious or politically correct variety -- "Gays:
Sinners Against God or Victims of Society?") is standard.
The Rev. Reggie White
-- Remarks before the Wisconsin Legislature
Green Bay Packer lineman Reggie White recently made a speech in which
he asked, "Why did God make us so different?" He then listed strengths of
each major ethnic group in America, and concluded, "When you put all of that
together, guess what it makes? It forms a complete image of God." He was
vilified in the sports sections across America for saying this.
Dr. Brand is a London School differential psychologist, who was recently
fired by Edinborough U., despite his 27 years of tenure, for expressing
"disgraceful" opinions in his Internet newsletter. He appears to have put
his involuntary free time to work publishing everything he knows (which is
a lot) about the human mind on the Web. Highly educational and intensely
opinionated. Lots of fun.
My all time favorite columnist, for many years author of Fortune's
"Keeping Up" column. This is a link to his Forbes archive.
My coauthor on "Track & Battlefield" on the growing gender gap
in running performance. We actually are two separate people. I'm probably
the evil twin, but Stephen's pretty politically impious, too. He's a Ph.D.
sports physiologist from Texas currently teaching at Agder College in Norway.
This is Stephen's homepage for scientifically-oriented endurance sport
Executive Editor of Runner's World, Burfoot wrote the ground-breaking
1992 article "White Men Can't Run."
John Manners grew up in the highlands of Kenya and is friends with
many of the gold medalist runners from the fascinating Kalenjin tribe: they're
only 0.05% of the world's population, but they win 40% of the highest honors
in men's distance running.
Track & Field is a terrific source of raw data for anybody interested
in human biodiversity. Various Scandinavian fanatics have put together websites
with insane amounts of track statistics.
Steve wrote the classic "The Inevitability of Patriarchy," which has
a deep impact on me when I read it back in 1982: I finally saw a demonstration
that the social science could actually be a science.
Diamond's articles in the Discover magazine are usually a delight.
The early ones were collected in his brilliant book, The 3rd Chimpanzee.
Recently, however, he's decided that what the world needs is another Scourge
of Racism, which lead him to write quite possibly the dopiest article ("Race
without Color") ever written on the subject of race. In it, he argues that
traditional definitions of races are no more valid than races based on, say,
lactose intolerance: thus Swedes and African Fulanis belong in the lactose
tolerant race, while Japanese and African Ibos belong in the
lactose intolerant race. (This would mean many children would not
belong to the same race as both of their parents!) Not surprisingly,
this is rapidly becoming conventional wisdom. Of course, he never seems to
realize that races are simply based on family trees. They are extremely extended
Steven is a terrifically bright cognitive scientist, linguist, and
evolutionary psychologist. He's also a big admirer or Tom Wolfe and Thomas
Sowell. The dilemma he's facing is that he tries to deny the importance of
human diversity -- at the end of The Language Instinct he loudly announces
that nothing could be more boring than studying differences among humans.
(In reality, what could be more interesting?) The problem is that without
human differences to study, such as between stroke victims and healthy people,
or between men and women, he wouldn't know much of anything about human nature
in general. Similarities and contrasts are the warp and woof of information.
So, he'll either have to hamstring his curiosity or come out of the closet
and admit that the study of human biodiversity is critical to understanding
human nature. We'll see whether he has the courage to follow the science
rather than play it safe.
Calvin is an evolutionary neurophysiologist, rather in the mold of
Jared Diamond and Steven Pinker. His website is enormous and gorgeous to
The founder of sociobiology, this is a link to a couple of chapters
from his bestseller Consilience.
Dr. Miller is a young evolutionary psychologist at the University
of London, home of the Galton school of differential psychology, who is trying
to unite evolutionary psychology, with its emphasis on how all humans are
the same, and differential psychology, with it's emphasis on how we differ.
His upcoming book is Courting Minds: How Sexual Choice Shaped Human
Although lots of people prefer his exploding-cow-style stories, Dave
Barry is also one of America's most insightful observers of human nature.
Click here for the Amazon listing of his masterpiece,
Barry's Guide to Guys. This book contains enough brilliant (and of course
hilarious) ideas about the differences between males and females to
keep every evolutionary psychologist in America busy for a decade. The link
above is to an archive of his old columns.
That Sowell is never mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize
in Economics says a lot about the dreary state of economics. Sowell's
reached an interesting stage in his career: he's not particularly young anymore,
so does he conserve his efforts and focus on writing a few things
that will endure for decades, or does he write a huge amount in
order to influence the world right now? He's chosen to write
non-stop -- a book a year, a syndicated newspaper column, and his Forbes
column -- so only intermittently does he reach his maximum level of eloquence.
Still, pretty good Sowell is a lot better than practically anybody
One of the more interesting economists, Cornell's Frank has written
a Darwinian account of the role of human emotions, called "Passions within
Steve and I used to compete in debate and speech tournaments back
in high school. (He always beat me.) He's an economist now at the U. of
Wisconsin, and is co-director of Economics research (along with Brian Arthur)
at the celebrated Santa Fe Institute, home of Complexity Theory.
The leading British military historian, Keegan's
Face of Battle may have been the first historical work to fully
explain what combat is really like and why.
The leading sociologist of the military, Moskos was my main influence
when writing "Where
the Races Relate."
Men (and a Woman) of Letters
Chesterton was an overwhelmingly intelligent man. He's little known
today, except as an inexhaustible source for quotations. His current obscurity
is partly due to his Catholicism, and partly due to his cheerfulness. In
our high culture, "dark" is among the most prestigious adjectives. It probably
stems from the link between artistic creativity and clinical depression.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of exceptions to this prejudice, and
Chesterton, like Nabokov, was a big one.
B&W movie versions of Chandler's work, even classics like Bogart's
The Big Sleep, couldn't do justice to Chandler's Nabokovian eye.
Fortunately, Chinatown looks and sounds like genuine Chandler (even
though it's not).
The biggest single influence on my boyhood, I recently reread about
20 of his science fiction books. Between 1959 and 1966 Heinlein published
three books that remain cult novels today. Remarkably, they are worshipped
by three almost mutually exclusive audiences: Starship Troopers (military
men), Stranger in a Strange Land (hippies and New Agers), and The
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (libertarians).
I'm looking forward to someday seeing Adrian Lyne's censored version
of Lolita. I picked Lyne out as the best man to film Lolita
upon seeing his brilliant Pepsi ads of the early 1980's. Kubrick's version
is fun but artistically wrong-headed: how could he film this gorgeous ode
to the American outdoors in black & white in England?
Personae would be my pick as Book of the Nineties. Since
then she's devoted most of her enormous energy to becoming a pundit and a
celebrity, as this link to her Salon column shows.
Two points: (1) The key to appreciating Stoppard is to read his plays
before you see them. (2) During the Seventies and Eighties, Stoppard was
the English-speaking world's only leading writer of drama or fiction to regularly
include anti-communist themes in his works.
When I was in college in the late 1970's, nobody there (except me)
thought of Waugh as a great novelist. Conservatives who denounce attempts
to Expand the Canon should recall that they were largely responsible for
expanding the canon so that Waugh could be recognized as a peer of Fitzgerald
Like Waugh, Wodehouse was long dismissed as just another popular,
middle-brow writer; but he's finally recognized as one of the true literary
artists of the 20th century. Probably the closest we've since come to Bertie
and Jeeves's superbly crafted stories about nothing is
Wolfe might well be the Great American Writer of the second half of
the 20th Century. He's been largely missing in action since Bonfire of
the Vanities, but this long article on Edward O. Wilson, neuroscience,
IQ, evolution, and a lot of other stuff is certainly interesting, and shows
that he's plugged into the most important intellectual trends.
Men of Law
Professor Posner of the University of Chicago Law School and the Chief
Judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is almost certainly the most important
judge in America not on the Supreme Court. Yet, he's unlikely to ever ascend
to that body because his curiosity forces him to write books on topics sure
to get him in trouble if nominated (e.g.,
The other brilliant Richard in the U. of C.'s "Law & Economics"
movement, Epstein is author of the best book on race discrimination,
Dan is a law professor at Northwestern. Most notably, he is the world's
smartest opponent of gun control. I tried arguing with him a few times on
the subject, and found it was like playing chess with Kasparov: bang, bang,
bang, checkmate. He's also written hugely important law articles offering
the first practical alternative to the political gerrymandering of Congressional
Libertarian critic of modern American law, Olson is author of
Resource -- by Bill Chapman
Nerdishness is a hugely important topic in the modern world, with
self-proclaimed nerds like Bill Gates increasingly dominating the global
economy. Yet, as far as I can tell from web searches, no academic has yet
undertaken any sort of formal study of nerdishness. Therefore, the best sources
on this topic are websites developed by introspective nerds like Bill Chapman,
a Cal Tech grad and Silicon Valleyite.
The New Hacker's
Dictionary -- Portrait of J. Random Hacker
Steven Pinker of MIT rightly recommends this wonderful glossary as
providing the best portrait of nerdishness. Especially useful is the "Portrait":
it provides a more organized description of the typical computer hacker than
the lexicographical section.
Nerd or Autistic?
One intriguing avenue for future research into nerdishness is it's
connection with the better-studied phenomenon of autism.
A couple of years ago, a Canadian college student (pseudonym Gord Gekko)
e-mailed me to beg for articles for his new webzine. I sent him three unpublished
efforts (two of them have since been published by NR), which were
the only articles not by Gord Gekko in those issues, rather like the initial
issue of "Ivory Tower" in Waugh's Put Out More Flags. Strikingly,
Gord's webzine keeps getting better, and now has lots of articles each month
by people who aren't even Gord at all! It's still pretty Ayn Randish, but
that's a good phase for youngsters to go through -- after all, we now entrust
the American economy to a long-time Rand disciple, Alan Greenspan.
Doug is a witty fellow who puts out a "Christian Libertarian" homepage.
Lots of wry humor. Odd how Christian and Libertarian are usually seen as
incompatible today, when they were the two bedrock philosophies underlying
the enormous progress in Britain and America during the Victorian
Steve Sailer's Home Page