May 24, 2014

2000: "Seven Dumb Ideas about Race"

Back in 2000, I read a disingenuous book review by Jared Diamond in the New York Times about how the leading population geneticist of the 1990s, L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, was “demolishing scientists' attempts to classify human populations into races in the same way that they classify birds and other species into races.” In response, I wrote for VDARE "Seven Dumb Ideas about Race." 

With lots of very old dumb ideas flying around in response to Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance, here are the first three dumb ideas from 14 long years ago. Since then, a vast amount of new genomic data has poured in, so it's about time we get over these Clinton Era mistakes:
If races exist, then one must be supreme. 
Much of the Race Does Not Exist cant stems from the following logic (if you can call it logic): “If there really are different racial groups, then one must be The Master Race, which means — oh my God – that Hitler Was Right! Therefore, we must promote whatever ideas most confuse the public about race. Otherwise, they will learn the horrible truth and they'll all vote Nazi.“ 
Look, this is one big non-sequitur: Of course, there are different racial groups. And of course their members tend to inherit certain different genes, on average, than the members of other racial groups. And that means racial groups will differ, on average, in various innate capabilities. But that also means that no group can be supreme at all jobs. To be excellent at one skill frequently implies being worse at something else. So, there can't be a Master Race. 
Sports fans can cite countless examples. Men of West African descent monopolize the Olympic 100m dash, but their explosive musculature, which is so helpful in sprinting, weighs them down in distance running, where they are also-rans. 
Similarly, there are far more Samoans in the National Football League than Chinese, simply because Samoans tend to be much, much bigger. But precisely because Samoans are so huge, they'll never do as well as the Chinese in gymnastics. 
Every person falls into a single clear-cut racial group. 
This one is so silly that I doubt that anybody who has thought about race in the real world for more than ten minutes believes this. Nobody can agree on how many racial groups there are, exactly who is in each one, or what to call them. 
Since nobody can agree on how many racial groups there are, exactly who is in each one, or what to call them, then race does not exist. 
This one's equally daft. Outside of mathematics, and of human inventions like the law, categories almost always fall across continuous dimensions. Where does “young” end and “old” begin? It all depends on the situation. For example, among female gymnasts, 18 is “old.” Among architects, 45 is “young.” Yet that does not mean that “age” is meaningless. Further, categories are typically fuzzy. Few people are 100% “sick” or 100% “well.” But “health” is still a useful concept. 
The best example of the fuzziness of natural categories is the concept of “extended family.” All the criticisms made about the fuzziness of racial groups apply in spades to extended families. How many extended families do you belong to? Well, at least two: your mom's and your dad's. But they each belonged to their parents' two extended families, so maybe you belong to four. And your grandparents each belonged to two … 
And what are the boundaries of your various extended families? If the question at hand is who you'd give a spare kidney to, you'd probably draw the limits rather narrowly. But, when making up your Christmas card list, you probably toss in the occasional third cousin, twice removed. And exactly what's the appropriate name for all these extended families anyway? 
In fact, extended families are even less clear-cut than racial groups. Yet, nobody goes around smugly claiming that extended families don't exist. 
But why is extended family such a perfect analogy for race? Because it's not an analogy. They are the same thing: kin, individuals united by common descent. 
There`s no natural law defining where extended families end. A racial group is merely an extended family (often an extremely extended family) that inbreeds to some extent. It's this tendency to marry within the group that makes racial groups somewhat more coherent, cohesive, and longer lasting than smaller-scale extended families.

Read the whole thing there.
       

14 comments:

Hugh said...

David Epstein's book "the Sports Gene" seems to have taken a more successful route in breaking down Gouldianism.

Differences in sporting ability are easier to see and it is harder to deny that there is a genetic component.

I think HBDers should concentrate on this line of attack if they really want to breach the Cathedral walls.

Dan said...

Sorry to be a bore but Zimmerman is pretty tough to pin down racially.

Rodgers is tough to pin down exactly.

Depending on your political view they are white or Hispanic-white, Mestizo or Latino. Chinese, British, Eurasian, mixed race, Amerasian.

These categories do exist. You see them in the faces of the two.

Anonymous said...

Of course no-one here has ever suggested or implied that a master race exists and your audience all share the belief that since the races of people all have different strengths and weaknesses they can't be ranked or evaluated.

Anonymous said...

The existence of orange as an intermediate between yellow and red does not mean that primary colors don't exist.

Jefferson said...

"Sorry to be a bore but Zimmerman is pretty tough to pin down racially.

Rodgers is tough to pin down exactly.

Depending on your political view they are white or Hispanic-white, Mestizo or Latino. Chinese, British, Eurasian, mixed race, Amerasian.

These categories do exist. You see them in the faces of the two."

You know what else is hard to pin down ? People who self identify with a race that does not match their phenotype at all.

For example there is a Columbia University professor named Gregory Howard Williams, who self identifies himself as "Black". Problem is this guy has an extremely Germanic Northern European phenotype. He self identifies himself as "Black" even though he looks Whiter than most Italians, Greeks, Jews, etc. Phenotype wise Gregory Howard Williams would stick out like a sore thumb if you dropped him off at the Brownsville housing projects in New York City for example.

Self identification aside, using Carleton Coon style racial anthropology, would Gregory Howard Williams be considered a Caucasoid or a Negroid ?

Anonymous said...

Fauxchehonkytas has the same problem with phenotype.

Reg C├Žsar said...

. Otherwise, they will learn the horrible truth and they'll all vote Nazi.

No, they won't. Only the progressives will.

People used to ask(maybe still do), how could the most advanced nation in Europe fall for National Socialism? I would counter, who but the most advanced people would succumb ?

Anonymous said...

"Sports fans can cite countless examples. Men of West African descent monopolize the Olympic 100m dash, but their explosive musculature, which is so helpful in sprinting, weighs them down in distance running, where they are also-rans."

Regardless, blacks dominate both short and long distance running.

Tim said...

I'm not sure the various races differing athletic talents makes the argument that there can be no master race. Ability to project military power would be a more relevant metric.

Anonymous said...

There`s no natural law defining where extended families end. A racial group is merely an extended family (often an extremely extended family) that inbreeds to some extent. It's this tendency to marry within the group that makes racial groups somewhat more coherent, cohesive, and longer lasting than smaller-scale extended families.

"Race" and "extended family" would be valid descriptions from the level of the species on down to any level you wish. Most species go extinct, so even at the widest possible level, it's not particularly long-lasting.

"Race" and "extended family" are thus too vague by themselves to refer to what people ordinarily mean by "race". You need more descriptors, such as a "race" and "extended family" that has been confined to a particular geographic area for X years, or something.

Anonymous said...

Regardless, blacks dominate both short and long distance running.

Not if it is horses that are doing the running

master race said...

It's not about being the best at everything. It's being mostly the best at most things that really matter. And also not being totally incompetent at those things which are necessary.

Whites and Asians are mostly the best and mostly competent. NAMs are rarely the best and rarely competent.

While I'm sure blacks are better at athletics and jazz, are those meager talents enough to offset the fact that they are mostly violent welfare parasites.

I think its disingenuous to say that once you believe in HBD you won't prefer one race over another in most situations and as neighbors and citizens overall.

Anonymous said...

Science marches on: "I like your genes: People more likely to choose a spouse with similar DNA", May 19, 2014, ScienceDaily.

"Individuals are more genetically similar to their spouses than they are to randomly selected individuals from the same population.

...published in... Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences... show that people... are more likely to pick mates who have similar DNA. While characteristics such as race, body type and even education have genetic components, this is the first study to look at similarities across the entire genome.

... "It is well known that people marry folks who are like them,"... "But there's been a question about whether we mate at random with respect to genetics."

...using 1.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms in each person's genome.

...compared the magnitude of the genetic similarity between married people to the magnitude of the better-studied phenomenon of people with similar educations marrying, known as educational assortative mating. They found that the preference for a genetically similar spouse, known as genetic assortative mating, is about a third of the strength of educational assortative mating.

...The findings could have implications for statistical models now used by scientists to understand genetic differences between human populations because such models often assume random mating."



Does a large amount of genetic diversity in a population perhaps contribute to lower overall marriage rates? (Contrast, say, LA and Wall Street with an average Amish congregation or mid-western town.)

Anonymous said...

Good analogy. Primary races should be the starting classifications.