The Cartesian method doesn’t work if you just eliminate everything except self-evident axioms. Fortunately, we have access to more than just self-evident axioms. Consider the following short exchange, between two people. It touches on the race/intelligence issue, but it works for many other issues. This is just an instance of a wider phenomenon. You go in with the following assumptions, which provide the important subtext for the discussion:
- Person A believes that there are differences in intelligence between races, while Person B does not.
- Person A and Person B both believe that intelligence is largely genetic.
- Both people each think the other one believes that intelligence is not genetic, and pretend to believe that it is not genetic in public.
- Both people know that there are serious social consequences for the view that intelligence is genetic and for the view that there are racial differences in intelligence.
A: “Intelligence is largely genetic.”
B: “But if that’s true, then different races have different levels of intelligence. Are you racist?”
A: “I don’t believe that there are racial differences in intelligence!”
B: “Then you can’t believe that intelligence is largely genetic.”
Notice that Person B has a choice here. He can either decide that intelligence is not largely genetic and slip further into delusion, or he can decide that there are racial differences in intelligence and pretend to believe something that he doesn’t actually believe, as person A does. Guess which one happens more often? That’s right: the former. We more often slip into delusion because we live in a delusional society. What’s the way out?
The way out is to take the things you know are true, and eliminate those things that contradict them, ruthlessly. Don’t take only one issue, or you turn into, for example, a stupid White Nationalist who only cares about race. The answer is to subtract all value added to judgements based on social cache. That will free you.