Arriving Late to the HBD Party

February 07, 2013

Multiple Pages
Arriving Late to the HBD Party

An occasional point of discussion among us commentators on the dissident right is the degree to which our stuff is read by respectable pundits seeking inspiration. Steve Sailer, for example, is convinced that David Brooks is a regular reader of Steve’s blog. Others among us are dubious.

I used to be with the dubious. As it happens, I once shared a speaking platform with David Brooks. He treated me as if I had been dusted with plutonium; and this was before my defenestration from National Review. Opinion-respectability-wise, Brooks is the Victorian lady who referred to her piano’s legs as “limbs.” Brooks reading iSteve is about as imaginable as Eleanor Roosevelt pole-dancing.

Now I’m a tad less skeptical. Perhaps other pundits, including even bigfoots such as David Brooks, do read us.

What dented my skepticism? Listen.

On January 9th—note the date, please—I posted a piece titled “Is HBD Over?” on another Web magazine. I wondered whether HBD—which is to say Human Biodiversity, the topic of biological factors in the differences between human beings and human races—belongs to that sad category of notions that are correct too soon.

“Knowledge is knowledge and bears no necessary relation to the knower’s personality.”

Three days after that, the leftist webzine Daily Kos posted a long (1,400 words) piece under the title “Racism has a new name: HBD.” This wasn’t the first mention of HBD on Daily Kos, but it was the first in nearly three years, to the best of my Googling ability. (The searching was much confused by the fact that “HBD” is apparently an abbreviation for “Happy Birthday,” which I did not know until ten minutes ago.) The nub of the Daily Kos thing was that people interested in HBD are wicked.

Five days after that, the blog NextLevelUp ran an even longer (1,900 words) guest piece titled The Truth behind the HBD cult prt 1. NextLevelUp is a “game” blog telling young men how to improve their appeal to the opposite sex. The guest blogger was identified as “T.” He is the proprietor of a different blog, The Rawness, subtitled “human nature and sexual politics.” The nub of this one was that fans of “game” blogs should beware of websites promoting HBD (which has some overlap with “game”), because people interested in HBD are sick.

So you can see why there’s a dent in my skepticism. Perhaps respectable bloggers and establishment columnists really are listening.

If they are, they’ve come late to the HBD party. As I mentioned in my January 9th piece, the HBD listserv peaked in June of 2002 at 1,638 posts—an average of 54.6 posts per day!

So what do they have to say, these keen observers of the social scene who have just recently—possibly because of me—noticed HBD?

Not much. The Daily Kos piece is just content-free point-‘n’-sputter. Sample:

They know everything about the statistical analyses, but the differences between Asian styles of thinking and Western styles of thinking are beyond their ken; their cultural backgrounds are so narrow that they simply cannot conceive the notion that other people can think in ways unlike their own and still be intelligent.

Really? Well, here’s a funny thing: I recall some quite vigorous discussions of Nisbett’s Geography of Thought by the academics on the HBD listserv back in the day—the day, I mean, that dawned and dusked a decade or so before the Kos guy even heard of HBD. (If I wanted to be really snotty I might add that I have published two, count ‘em two novels populated almost entirely by Chinese people. But of course I am too modest to indulge in such flagrant self-promotion.)

“T,” the guest blogger at NextLevelUp, took a different tack. (And a longer one. He was just clearing his throat with that 1,900-word part 1. He followed it up with a 3,600-word part 2 and supplemented both parts with long responses in the comment sections! I am very much obliged to the friend who recently alerted me to the abbreviation “tl;dr.”)

What did he have to say? As I’ve just intimated, I didn’t read more than a portion of it—life’s too short—but I have it on good authority that the nub is: HBD-ers are white male losers who are ashamed of themselves for not living up to the superiority they claim for their race.

Does T actually know any HBD-ers? I know a couple of dozen. I’ve known some of them since the days of the listserv. (They included more than one female—here’s one—and more than one nonwhite—ditto—and a couple of self-made millionaires.) I’ve hobnobbed with HBD proponents for over a decade: stood on platforms with them, argued with them, fallen out and made up with them, stayed over at their houses, and got drunk with them once or twice. And this twerp, who can barely name one, is telling me about their personality issues? Pfffft.

It is in any case the lowest, most disgraceful kind of invective to accuse your opponent of mental illness. “I and other right-thinking people disagree with you. Therefore you are mentally sick.” A riposte on the same deplorable level would be: Well, maybe you are just a canting coward. As Mencius Moldbug said in a different context, speaking of the theories of Kevin MacDonald:

I admire conviction, I despise cant. Anti-Semitism was cant in Munich in 1936, or in 1886 for that matter. It is cant in Tehran today. In California in 2007, it can be nothing but conviction.

More robustly: Knowledge is knowledge and bears no necessary relation to the knower’s personality. There is a deep and fascinating branch of mathematics named Teichmüller Theory. Oswald Teichmüller was a passionate Nazi, last heard of fighting for Hitler’s Germany on the Eastern Front in 1943. I suppose T believes that Teichmüller Theory must therefore be invalid. If he’d like to discuss the issue with some actual mathematicians, I’d be happy to make the introductions.


Daily updates with TM’s latest