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The secret history of Silicon Valley

Sailer writes:

What has almost never been pointed out is that the two rivals for the title of Father of Silicon Valley, Shockley and Terman, have common roots in early 20th century Palo Alto’s scientific and ideological consensus, a now extremely unfashionable worldview that has been driven underground but remains fundamental to how Silicon Valley actually succeeds in the 21st century. (…)

Shockley then became a Stanford professor under Terman. At Stanford, he made himself one of America’s most hated men by pointing out the difference in average IQ between whites and blacks, noting the evidence for substantial heritability of intelligence and suggesting government subsidies to encourage less intelligent people to forgo reproducing. (…)

Silicon Valley chroniclers usually treat Shockley’s eugenics campaign as a regrettable and idiosyncratic anomaly. Yet Shockley was merely trumpeting what had long been a prevalent ideology in Palo Alto dating back to Stanford’s founding president, David Starr Jordan.

In 1902, Jordan published a pamphlet, The Blood of the Nation, that made a eugenic case against war, arguing that the battlefield kills the bravest and best. (Jordan’s argument became widely accepted in Britain after World War I.)


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