Science has an interesting way of destroying human constructed beliefs. The former antagonist was the Catholic Church, which had its own science squad to check along with the developments in Europe. The new religion, progressivism, has many scientists on the payroll who can manipulate behavioral studies to fit whatever message they want (ex: John Money + gender). The major pillar of their belief system is the tabula rasa (blank slate) default brain setting for humans. This is that wonderful contradiction where evolution happens everywhere except the human brain. They believe that a human brain can be crafted so that any baby given the right environment, stimulation and care (nurture) can grow up to be a heart surgeon. The human genome decoding and scientific work have revealed some interesting finds. The finds reveal lots of genetic links to diseases and tends to support the nature over nurture argument (Futurepundit spotlights many). The left is pretty clever. They have already begun their fallback, and are laying the groundwork for the next phase of the battle.
Nature vs. nurture is a huge debate because the core belief of progressives that with enough tinkering, society can perfect a human. The nurture pushers also can blame non-personal reasons for individuals and entire groups' failures. This excuses away dysfunction of many of the left's voters, provides the cause for funding of social workers, and can be used as a bludgeon for bringing up old, long dead systems (slavery, colonialism, the Spanish conquering Mexico) as an excuse for dysfunction 150 years later. From a materialistic and Marxist approach, the idea that people are just malleable cogs in a machine fits nicely. Considering current voting coalitions, this is incredibly important to the left of many Western nations as the assorted lefts usually have a patchwork of different racial and religious groups. Admitting that there are differences would probably cause a rift in that tapestry because why would one group ever let another part of the group be in charge if they were somehow found to be on average genetically inferior in some way? It moves from power on down to everything else. This is why the recent genetic studies have hammered the left, but they are crafty and have a plan in place that the media is already pushing: epigenetics + in utero environment.
The left is distressed by the growing mountain of genetic evidence that genes and different genetic combinations give rise to certain behaviors. An important thing about this retreat is that the left is admitting that genes are science and have validity, but here's their twist: it's predisposed, not predetermination and "please give us a sliver of hope in continuing our nurture charade by accepting phantom concept of epigenetics and environmental factors on gene expression". My twist right back to them is, giving someone a positive nurturing environment makes them predisposed to good behavior, not predetermined. They never let the blade swing back on them. The cathedral knows they are cornered on this genetic bit so they rolled out a Time article in 2010 on epigenetics titled "Why Your DNA is Not Your Destiny", the NY Times in '12 tried to explain that black kids scored lower than whites due to their moms not talking to them as much before age four, a marxist documentary in '12 stressed epigenetics (Zeitgeist) and the environment as an excuse for every social dysfunction. We're seeing lead pop up as an excuse for different levels of social dysfunction now. The professors in Zeitgeist used as authorities are at Harvard, Stanford etc. so even if they can't sway you, they'll sway enough future decision makers. They mention people having the genes, but they only get expressed if exposed to trauma, which can be in utero. Are we just going to have pregnant women and children under age 4 in luxury hotels? At some point, the madness has to stop and we just have to admit that people are different. The left has their defensive tools as they retreat for the next stage of the nature vs. nurture policy debate, and they also have some offensive weapons.
If you can't beat them, smear them. The Dailykos ran a little piece on human biodiversity (HBD) being racist. Weirdest part was the author citing that the HBD case had strong evidence, but it was still racist. Nice addendum to his column was how he typed that blank slaters were uncivil and had no argument while HBDers had a civil approach and good argument. It was still racist. He had to stress that it was racist, even if there was no proof of it being racist, because he had to signal to anyone on the fence that to believe in HBD or agree with HBD speakers is to be racist yourself. The worst thing you can call a white person is racist, so this is a potent tool. The left knows people have a general grasp on genes and DNA. The research showing a lot of things people notice but never mention (for fear of being a racist) to be true is building, and would make the left look stupid and protectors of a false god. To stop this, they must call the threat racist and scare anyone from associating or granting it credibility. Call it racist, call it extreme, call it fringe, but do not let average Americans consider it. Let me ask liberals one question: what is more racist: 1. saying there are built in differences for people that get amplified by their culture or 2. theories used by the NY Times that state that black/hispanic parents suck at raising their kids? I'd rather be accused of having genetic issues rather than be called a shitty parent (and by cultural differences -> race) because my kids don't do well at math. Calling it racist is akin to slapping a scarlet letter on it, and when done in print, it does not offer a chance for a retort.
I'm a believer in behavior being part nature and part nurture. If forced to state a split, 2/3 nature vs. 1/3 nurture. Sailer had a funny entry on the epigenetics stupidity in the fall. As I wrote in the alcoholism blog entry last week, external factors and childhood environment have some effect on people to make some decisions. I do think having two parents around has a big effect on children's life outcomes. I won't deny nurture's effect, but I'm not investing trillions into fighting battles with minimal effect. This argument will continue as long as our current political system continues. The left has too much to lose in policy decision making and too many clients and good soldiers to not fight genetic research at every turn. The tiny admission that these genetic studies have validity is a defeat for them. They will not let the other side win without drawing blood and laying down groundworks to slow down process.