May 15, 2014

NYT review of "A Troublesome Inheritance"

The New York Times hands their veteran reporter Nicholas Wade's book to somebody I've never noticed, Arthur Allen. A quick search suggests this Arthur Allen is this writer for the Huffington Post.*
Charging Into the Minefield of Genes and Racial Difference
Nicholas Wade’s ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’
MAY 15, 2014

By ARTHUR ALLEN

Few areas of science have contributed more to human misery than the study of racial difference. In the 1920s, eugenicists from top American universities promoted the sterilization of the unfit and later praised Hitler’s racial codes while advocating laws that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores. 

One of my commenters notes: "At least the reviewer waited until the second sentence to bring up Hitler."
Contemporary researchers have found it useful to examine genetic variations that affect traits like diabetes in Native Americans or high blood pressure in African-Americans. But in the shadow of the Holocaust, scientists in the United States have largely avoided the classification of races as a “futile exercise,” in the words of the population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza; the very concept of race is a matter of scientific debate. 

Almost a decade and a half ago, both leftist anthropologist Jonathan Marks and I pointed out the obvious problem with this popular interpretation of Cavalli-Sforza's forgivable attempt to use the newly fashionable race-does-not-exist verbiage to not get Watsoned avant la lettre: Just look at the map on the cover of Cavalli-Sforza's 1994 magnum opus the The History and Geography of Human Genes:


I noted in VDARE in 2000:
This is Cavalli-Sforza's description of the map that is the capstone of his half century of labor in human genetics: "The color map of the world shows very distinctly the differences that we know exist among the continents: Africans (yellow), Caucasoids (green), Mongoloids … (purple), and Australian Aborigines (red). The map does not show well the strong Caucasoid component in northern Africa, but it does show the unity of the other Caucasoids from Europe, and in West, South, and much of Central Asia." 
Basically, all his number-crunching has produced a map that looks about like what you'd get if you gave Strom Thurmond a paper napkin and a box of crayons and had him draw a racial map of the world.

From the left, the perceptive Marks wrote in his 2003 book What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and Their Genes:
But things quickly worsened, for Time ran a color figure from The History and Geography of Human Genes, in which each of the non-existent human races actually came color-coded: Africans yellow, Mongoloids blue, Caucasoids green, and Australians red. 
Quite literally! 
It was the old essentialist fallacy of Linnaeus, except now with different colors and computerized.

Cavalli-Sforza's map of the Old World from
the cover of a different edition.
But who can notice the cover of Cavalli-Sforza's book when on the inside he uses the word "populations" instead of "races?"

By the way, Marks is by nurture a leftwinger, but by nature he's a Noticer, and that hasn't made him very popular.

Back to Arthur Allen's review of Nicholas Wade:
In “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” however, Nicholas Wade argues that scientists need to get over their hang-ups and jump into studies of racial difference. “The intellectual barriers erected many years ago to combat racism now stand in the way of studying the recent evolutionary past,” he writes.

Mr. Wade, a longtime science writer for The New York Times, draws on the wealth of evolutionary data that has emerged from the decoding of human genomes. This research has enabled scientists to imagine our prehistory with more precision, and the picture is one of unexpectedly significant genetic change since many of our ancestors left Africa. Since this evolution affected traits such as skin color, body hair and the tolerance of alcohol, milk and high altitude, why not intelligence and social behavior as well? Mr. Wade asks. 
The central problem here is that if significant genetic-controlled behavioral differences exist among races, with scant (at most) exception they haven’t been discovered yet. To build a case with the evidence at hand requires a great deal of speculation, with the inevitable protrusion of the nonscientific worldview. 
Mr. Wade presents a few scattered genetic studies and attempts to weld them into a grand theory of global history for the past 50,000 years. Where Jared Diamond argued in “Guns, Germs and Steel” that environment and geography enabled Europe to develop a highly successful civilization, Mr. Wade says environmental pressures led to genetic differences that account for much of that advantage.

Here's my anecdote about when I pointed out to Dr. Diamond at the 2002 Milken Global Conference that his documentation of the massive environmental differences between continents would tend to select for the evolution of genetic differences between continental races.
“The rise of the West,” he writes, “is an event not just in history but also in human evolution.” 
Conservative scholars like the political scientist Francis Fukuyama have long argued that social institutions and culture explain why Europe beat Asia to prosperity, and why parts of the Mideast and Africa continue to suffer destabilizing violence and misery. 
Mr. Wade takes this already controversial argument a step further, contending that “slight evolutionary differences in social behavior” underlie social and cultural differences. A small but consistent divergence in a racial group’s tendency to trust outsiders — and therefore to accept central rather than tribal authority — could explain “much of the difference between tribal and modern societies,” he writes. 
This is where Mr. Wade’s argument starts to go off the rails.
At times, his theorizing is merely puzzling, as when he notes that the gene variant that gives East Asians dry earwax also produces less body odor, which would have been attractive “among people spending many months in confined spaces to escape the cold.” No explanation of why ancient Europeans, presumably cooped up just as much, didn’t also develop this trait. Later, he speculates that thick hair and small breasts evolved in Asian women because they may have been “much admired by Asian men.” And why, you might ask, did Asian men alone prefer these traits? 

Maybe Mr. Allen should ask Charles Darwin, whose 1871 classic The Descent of Man; and Selection in Relation to Sex offers at vast length a sexual selection theory for racial differences.
Mr. Wade occasionally drops in broad, at times insulting assumptions about the behavior of particular groups without substantiating the existence of such behaviors, let alone their genetic basis. Writing about Africans’ economic condition, for example, Mr. Wade wonders whether “variations in their nature, such as their time preference, work ethic and propensity to violence, have some bearing on the economic decisions they make.” 
For Mr. Wade, genetic differences help explain the failure of the United States occupations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. “If institutions were purely cultural,” he writes, “it should be easy to transfer an institution from one society to another.” It’s hard to know how to begin to address such a puzzling statement.

But pointing-'n'-sputtering is the standard response.
Mr. Wade acknowledges that specific evidence for the influence of “social behavior” genes is quite limited. The one example he presents repeatedly is the MAOA 2R variant, the so-called warrior gene that has been linked to violent behavior in men abused as children and is more common in blacks than whites or Asians. Mr. Wade admits that such genes at most create a tendency to violence, and adds that there may be other, yet undiscovered violence-susceptibility genes that could skew the racial picture. 
Mr. Wade’s distinctive focus is on how evolution, in his view, shaped different races’ “radius of trust,” or ability to assume loyalty to, say, a nation rather than a tribe, and to punish those who violate social rules. Modern civilizations select out violent individuals and their genes, which might be more valuable in tribal societies, he argues. 
When it comes to his leitmotif — the need for scientists to drop “politically correct” attitudes toward race — Mr. Wade displays surprisingly sanguine assumptions about the ability of science to generate facts free from the cultural mesh of its times. He argues that because the word “racism” did not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary until 1910, racism is a “modern concept, and that pre-eugenics studies of race were “reasonably scientific.” This would surely surprise any historian of European colonies in Africa or the Americas. 
“Science is about what is, not what ought to be,” Mr. Wade writes. “Its shifting sands do not support values, so it is foolish to place them there.” Yet he acknowledges that views of scientific truth are highly contextual. The philosopher Herbert Spencer “was one of the most prominent intellectuals of the second half of the 19th century, and his ideas, however harsh they may seem today, were widely discussed,” Mr. Wade writes. Why does he suppose that Spencer was so popular? Was it science’s “shifting sands” that gave his ideas credibility, or their tendency to support what powerful people wanted to believe?

What is it that powerful people want to believe (or, at least, want the rest of us to believe) today?
The philosopher Ludwik Fleck once wrote, “ ‘To see’ means to recreate, at a suitable moment, a picture created by the mental collective to which one belongs.” While there is much of interest in Mr. Wade’s book, readers will probably see what they are predisposed to see: a confirmation of prejudices, or a rather unconvincing attempt to promote the science of racial difference.

Arthur Allen is the author of “The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl,” to be published by W. W. Norton in July.
 
--------------------
* This Arthur Allen is almost certainly not the other Arthur Allen, I am relieved to say, whom a Google search turns up as a suspect in the Zodiac Killer mystery.   
        

77 comments:

ricpic said...

Race is naturally fascinating because it is so obviously a factor if not the factor in the organization of the world. And yet we are living in an age in which the topic is taboo. This anomaly - that something inherently fascinating must not be noticed or discussed - cannot hold.

Soylent Yellow said...

Probably by the time this comment gets through others will have made the point better, but, this is what Charles Murray predicted, and, Wade's book does have these soft spots. I wish Wade had spent time with "Why the West Rules--for Now" (I see no references to it in his book which is really too bad). It would have thinned his genetic argument down to the point where he might have left it out. As it is it looks too much like the kind of private HBD-tard ethno-preening you see so much of, here and elsewhere.

One good thing about the attack, is that being attacked is better than being ignored.

BTW, the best review of Wade I've read is Dr James Thompson's.

TGGP said...

What was so bad about Herbert Spencer?

HBD said...

At least the reviewer waited until the second sentence to bring up Hitler.

Anonymous said...

advocating laws that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores


Oh, the humanity! Thousands of Jews! Excluded!

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores

O, the horror!!

David said...

Seeing all that Hitler-Holocaust-immigration restriction handwaving at the top of the article, I guess the party line, though it's pretty stupid, is "BAD FOR THE JEWS," which is all that many NYT readers are interested in. But I wonder just who is trapped in a "mental collective."

Fleck's Wikipedia entry (which I suggest everyone check out) is sheer KMac catnip. Here is Fleck's quote from the review again:

"'To see' means to recreate, at a suitable moment, a mental picture created by the collective to which one belongs."

Lenin was more concise: "Who-whom."

Anonymous said...

"This anomaly - that something inherently fascinating must not be noticed or discussed - cannot hold."

Of course it can hold. Sex is inherently fascinating, yet some cultures haven't discussed it in ages. And those are actually the healthiest cultures around. Death is inherently fascinating, yet the healthiest cultures deny it completely, believing in the fairy tale of eternal life instead. I think that unlike religious fairy tales the leftist fairy tale about race is harmful to society. But that's separate from the question of whether or not humanity can ignore fundamental truths for thousands of years on end. Of course it can. If it couldn't, it would have probably gone extinct long ago.

Idle Spectator said...

That would have also excluded your own relatives, Laguna Beach Fogey. So, why the bitterness toward your own kind?

Anonymous said...

"Few areas of science have contributed more to human misery than the study of racial difference."

And we are off and running!

Anonymous:" In the 1920s, eugenicists from top American universities promoted the sterilization of the unfit"

As opposed to our current regime, which promotes the excessive reproduction of the unfit. Which is worse, sterilizing someone with an 85 IQ or encouraging her to have 5 kids? A question for posterity to answer.

Anonymous:" and later praised Hitler’s racial codes while advocating laws that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores."

Well, it also excluded plenty of Italians, Greeks, Russians, etc, but one supposes that Gentiles don't count.

Anonymous said...

where is rich dawkins?

Anonymous said...

A lengthier, more competent pan of Wade by H. Allen Orr is up at The NY Review of Books, behind a pay wall.

Orr mostly concedes the first half of the book.

He pans the second half. Some examples:

"[Wade's] much taken, for instance, with the difference between tribal and modern societies, but one of the most tribal peoples on the planet, the Scots with their clans, are now identified with some of the most modern of ideas and attitudes. Were David Hume and Adam Smith precocious carriers of a mutation that swept Edinburgh?"

(Fair question, but pretty glib as a counterpoint. The ancestors of Hume and Smith were probably lowland agriculturalists.)

"Geneticists have had an extraordinarily hard time finding genes that make substantive contributions to complex diseases like Type 2 diabetes. This doesn’t bode well, to put it mildly, for finding the genes that allegedly underlie subtle differences in predisposition to middle-class behavioral traits."

(I'm not qualified to assess this, but this is why you want to rely on, for the time being, rigorously documented patterns a la psychometrics. It was a mistake, as Cochran noted, to skirt psychometrics as a field of evidence and instead, say, speculate freely on East Asian creativity.)

"Wade responds that while the genes for violence are unknown, murder rates in the industrialized world are lower than those in sub-Saharan Africa, “a difference that does not prove but surely allows room for a genetic contribution to greater violence in the less developed world.” But if the issue is whether people differ innately in a behavioral trait, a material line of evidence cannot be that people differ in the trait. They may easily differ for other reasons."

(But if they persist on differing in a trait, even if placed in disparate environments with various governments spending billions trying to eliminate the difference, *that* should count as evidence.)

Anonymous said...

"The average IQ of a group, a team or a race matters little, if at all."

I bet he'd be ok with being operated on by a sub 90 IQ surgeon.

*snicker* Oops, there are no sub 90 IQ surgeons. Kind of proves my point does it?

Elmer said...

If Nicholas Wade's book bases its thesis on genetic differences between people without reference to the specific genes responsible for those differences, it doesn't carry any SCIENTIFIC weight. It seems like the analysis hinges on the idea that correlation is causation, which we know isn't true. I haven't read the book yet, but unless his model takes into account historical, geographical, and environmental differences (the Diamond thesis) and show how they are less substantial to broad differences between political entities than known, specific genes, it's just a pseudo-scientific appeal that codifies his prejudices instead of being a true scientific analysis.

Can anyone here who has read the book explain his modelling? Does he provide any equations or reference specific genes he thinks are responsible for these "racial" differences? Does he make any reference to epigenetics? Does he provide falsifiable hypotheses which can be tested?

Also: if you don't understand why Ghana can't become Denmark through loans, you don't know the history of these countries. Ghana was part of the Scandinavian "Gold Coast" -- European riches are built directly from the profits of colonialism, and introduced a stark inequality at the outset of the modern age. Not only did colonial powers forcibly extract resources from Africa, but they left a legacy of arbitrarily drawn borders and a history of economic repression of the natives. These historical conditions persist across the centuries, because no colonial power ever returns their profits to their former colonies.

Similarly, if you took Singapore (a former colony with a harbor directly in the middle of vital shipping lanes) and dropped it into the Sahara where Timbuktu was, I don't think anyone can maintain that it would have been as economically successful.



Anonymous said...

http://www.arthurallen.net/index.htm

I guess having a BA from Berkeley in Environmental Studies, being married to Margaret Talbot, and going to El Salvador in the 1980s as a "journalist" makes you an expert in genes and human behavior.

The beginning and end of the review are good examples of what is beginning to really irk me about the dominant

It's not that so many Jews see the world through Jewish-centric lenses. That's fine. It's that they're not even aware of how much their Jewish neuroses prejudice their judgments. Which problem is amplified because none of the rest of us are allowed to suggest that Jewish neuroses might be worthy of criticism or a prejudicial factor.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that when anyone asserts the existence of race, they are placed in the Nazi category, but those who deny it are never put in the "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy" category?

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Idle Spectator @ 6:50 ~ Huh?

Anonymous said...

"Similarly, if you took Singapore (a former colony with a harbor directly in the middle of vital shipping lanes) and dropped it into the Sahara where Timbuktu was, I don't think anyone can maintain that it would have been as economically successful."

Surely you don't want to tell me that Singaporeans (especially the Chinese) wouldn't shit all over any Subsaharan country today.

There were 2 subsaharan countries that were more successful than your average subsaharan country. South Africa and Rhodesia.

Now tell me what both of these countries had in common. And also tell me what happened once whitey left the vibrants with a vibrant economy and functional state.

People like you are filth and I think the likes of Steve and Wade are being charitable by addressing you with science instead of Vox Daylike rhetorical violence.

Jared Diamond's theories have been debunked gazillions of times.

Out of sheer curiosity though: if there is no such thing as race how can "racism" exist?

Anonymous said...

I'm just finishing up Wade's book, and I have to say I am disappointed. I'm actually quite sympathetic to the idea that race has a biological reality, and that there are important intellectual and temperamental differences between various populations. And Wade does a reasonably good job of establishing the biological reality of race in the first part of the book.

And then in the second part he blows it, by vastly overstating his case, and making weak and unpersuasive arguments against the conventional wisdom. Again and again I found myself just cringing.

Here is just one example. In attacking Jared Diamond's geographic argument, Wade, referring to the Europeans and the Aborigines, says:

If in the same environment, that of Australia, one population can operate a highly productive economy and another cannot, surely it cannot be the environment that is decisive, as Diamond asserts, but rather some critical difference in the nature of the two people and their societies.

Notice how Wade scores an own goal here? What Diamond actually claims is that the geography of Australia made it impossible for human beings to create an advanced economy in Australia. But Europeans creating a highly productive economy in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable, then exporting the whole damn thing to Australia and operating it there, and walking all over the Abos in the process, is completely consistent with Diamond's geographical determinism.

What is frustrating is that I am on Wade's side, and I think a lot of the ideas he is promoting are likely to be true. I just don't think he does a very good job promoting many of them. Believe me, if I were on the other side of the fence, my review would be much harsher than the NYT review linked here!

Anonymous said...

THIS is the best the NYTimes could come up with?

What does it matter that Abramson is out the door. The Times has sunk to the rung of a rag.

Anonymous said...

"But Europeans creating a highly productive economy in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable, then exporting the whole damn thing to Australia and operating it there..."

You're neglecting what Wade means by "operate."

Harry Baldwin said...

they left a legacy of arbitrarily drawn borders

Do you feel that borders drawn to include disparate, hostile tribes explain the inability of African nations to function? If so, do you agree that the current program of bringing disparate, hostile races within the borders of the US guarantees our ultimate inability to function? Why is it that multiculturalism is understood not to work in Africa but is supposed to work here, when the differences between African tribes are not nearly as profound as the differences between races in the US?

David said...

>without reference to the specific genes...carries no SCIENTIFIC weight<

So Mendel wasn't doing science, then, either.

Lefty Lawyer said...

The irony is that the left both supports race based affirmative action AND maintains that there are no innate racial differences in intelligence.

Acknowledging that there are racial cognitive differences makes a good argument for race based affirmative action - i.e., if members of a particular racial group are starting with a cognitive disadvantage, then it is rational to give them a boost based on their race (bear with me here, I'm not saying that iSteve readers would be persuaded by this argument, I am saying it is a rational argument to make that would be helpful to the pro-affirmative action cause.)

And the pro-affirmative action forces do shoot themselves in the foot on this one. I remember during the Prop 209 campaign in California, the pro-209 forces were saying don't worry, post-209 you will still be able to do affirmative action based on social class. The best argument to counter this would have been to cite the clear data showing that economically similarly situated black kids did not do as well on standardized tests, grades, etc. as white and Asian kids.

But, of course, no one made that argument.

ben tillman said...

advocating laws that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores

Excluding others is a human right. That's why rape is illegal.

ben tillman said...

"Few areas of science have contributed more to human misery than the study of racial difference."

When has the study of racial differences contributed to human misery AT ALL? I don't believe it has ever happened.

ben tillman said...

I haven't read the book yet, but unless his model takes into account historical, geographical, and environmental differences (the Diamond thesis)....

Diamond's thesis is that humans don't adapt to their environments, i.e., that natural selection doesn't occur. This is not something an intelligent person would take into account.

Anonymous said...

unless his model takes into account historical, geographical, and environmental differences (the Diamond thesis)


The Diamond thesis is claptrap, and transparent claptrap at that. It can't be falsified or disproved. He begins by assuming something we already know to be false, that the observed differences among human populations cannot be due to genetics.

David Davenport said...

European riches are built directly from the profits of colonialism ...

That is an argument for European superiority, don't you agree?

Who-whom, predator-prey, geddit?

Anonymous said...

Not only did colonial powers forcibly extract resources from Africa, but they left a legacy of arbitrarily drawn borders and a history of economic repression of the natives. These historical conditions persist across the centuries, because no colonial power ever returns their profits to their former colonies.



No wonder America is so poor ... the British never returned their profits to their former colonies!

Anonymous said...

"Notice how Wade scores an own goal here? What Diamond actually claims is that the geography of Australia made it impossible for human beings to create an advanced economy in Australia. But Europeans creating a highly productive economy in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable, then exporting the whole damn thing to Australia and operating it there, and walking all over the Abos in the process, is completely consistent with Diamond's geographical determinism."

Not really. The people who lived and thrived in Australia were prisoners, famously. It's not like the Aussies were getting a constant stream of immigrants from Britain that consistently provided the main source of population growth instead of birth rates.

It's one thing to claim that whites' superior weapons allowed them to destroy abbos. It's another thing to use that fact to explain how people that were sent there as criminal scum and who, with time became the main population of Australia, still managed to take that continent and turn it into some sort of first world country.

Anonymous said...

The central problem here is that if significant genetic-controlled behavioral differences exist among races, with scant (at most) exception they haven’t been discovered yet.


What? The behavioral differences are extensive and well documented. Perhaps he's just a bad writer (like so many people who get paid to write for a living) and he meant to argue that the genes controlling those behavioral differences haven't been discovered yet.

Anononymous said...

In the 1920s, eugenicists from top American universities promoted the sterilization of the unfit and later praised Hitler’s racial codes while advocating laws that would exclude thousands of Jews from our shores.

Replace 'eugenicists from top American universities' with 'left-wing progressive utopian socialists like Margeret Sanger, John Maynard Keynes (director of the Eugenics Society from 1937 to 1944), H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw'

Anonymous said...

What's so eye-rolling about the (mostly Jewish) hostility to the proposition of genetic differences among different populations is that Jews themselves accept that proposition as being absolutely true. I've spent a lifetime living around Jews and they take their own genetic superiority over blacks as a concrete fact. Why are they so desperate that everyone else NOT view the world in the same fashion as they do?

Anonymous said...

Wades' book opens wide the subject for discussion.

The evidence is already on the side of race realism...growing genomic evidence will shut up the deniers.

It's over for them. Their muddled attacks range from frenzied incoherent attacks to under their breath protestations.

I am reminded of the Wicked Witch melting.

Anonymous said...

Europeans creating a highly productive economy in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable then exporting the whole damn thing to Australia and operating it there, and walking all over the Abos in the process, is completely consistent with Diamond's geographical determinism


What's so "favorable" about "geographic conditions" in Europe? Australia has many different types of climate and geography. In places, especially the southern regions, its climate and geography is very western-European-like. There was nothing about the Australian geography or climate which prevented its indigenous population from developing the plow and irrigation and the other basics of a fairly sophisticated agricultural civilization.

Soylent Yellow said...

@Anonymous 5/15/14, 6:57 PM

The most I've seen from Richard Dawkins is this:

> If "race" is real, it should never be a criterion to decide anything. If Islam is a "race" it's the only "race" you can convert to or from.

https://twitter.com/RichardDawkins/status/466143130245693440

Then he refuses to be drawn further by followups. That may be a response to Wade, or maybe a random tweet. If I had to guess his primary target is Islam, and he already has to actively bail out from racism charges doing that, he doesn't want his message burdened by more.

BTW by 'ethno-preening' earlier I meant the tone of many of the comments here, not our host. I don't recall any from Steve himself.

David said...

Consider this stolen.

Hector Henry said...

The current mess on RACE has nothing to do with any scientific confusion. The basic realities of race have been clear, in terms of science, for generations.

And it was clear to grandmothers thousands of years ago in a common sense way.

No, this current mess is purely about mass psychological warfare that won't allow for any real discussion of race. The moment anyone attacks the PC view, they are called heretics and shouted down. THAT is what we must end for the sack of our children.

Anononymous said...

in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable

The first civs were in the fertile crescent and the Nile, where there is no frost during winter with big muddy rivers. NW Europe is buried in snow during winter. The Thames even froze once. Rivers are smaller and less muddy. In roman times it was covered in forests and thinly populated. It was not until the Dark Ages when now agricultural technologies were invented to allow the difficult land to be farmed that couldn't be before. Heavy plows to plant in the hard soil, where you merely need a digging stick in river silt. Crop rotation to compensate for poor soil fertility of land not receiving silt from a big river. Even with that, there is only one growing season per year, and you have to ride out the winter months on stored grains with no access to fresh vegetables. Crop failures are harder to recover from because of this. Famines were frequent due to long winters, killing frosts and the 'little ice age'. Scandinavia is even worse. NW Europe is only favorable with access Dark Age agricultural and food preservation technology. Paradise and the 'Garden of Eden' are always considered to be a tropical climate with lots of fruit bearing trees.

Anonymous said...

>At times, his theorizing is merely puzzling, as when he notes that the gene
>variant that gives East Asians dry earwax also produces less body odor, which
>would have been attractive “among people spending many months in confined spaces
>to escape the cold.” No explanation of why ancient Europeans, presumably cooped
>up just as much, didn’t also develop this trait.


Did this person take biology in high school? If the same adaptation is present in separate populations you need an explanation; if not no explanation is needed. This is objection is equivalent to the childish one demanding "Why the rest of the monkeys did not become men?"

Chicago said...

This often stated idea that Africans and others were made poor because Europeans carted off their "resources" is such bunk. The natives never knew what a "resource" was, had no use for them, had no way of extracting them. Only modern people could do anything with them. That remains the case to this day.

Anonymous said...

The philosopher Ludwik Fleck once wrote, “ ‘To see’ means to recreate, at a suitable moment, a picture created by the mental collective to which one belongs.”

So why bother with philosophy?

Anonymous said...

"in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable"

Trying to portray Australia as a barren and inhospitable land is fools errand, as others have pointed out here. My own area, South Australia, is often referred to as the driest state in the driest continent. Yet large swathes of SA resemble the boot of Italy, Sicily, Southern Spain, and the French Riviera in landscape and fertility.

It's not called godzone country for nothing.

Anonymous said...

With so much dangerous and irresponsible speculation that has come out of the social sciences in the last 100 years, Wade's reasoned thoughts on the genetic basis for human cultural evolution should be widely welcomed.

wheatsacker said...

Ref: Australia, I mentioned a while ago that England exported its underclass to Australia, and within ca. 100 years they had creates a strong first-world (an anachronistic term, but you know what I mean). The ruling elites of Britain imported a wave of middle and upper-class Jamaicans in the 1950s, and within a mere 60 years they have become little more than orcs - and this in spite of all the benefits of arriving into an already-functioning first-world country. Regression to the mean is as predictable and relentless as a terminator.

Zool said...

If Europe was poor and only became rixh by exploiting colonies, then why don't the poor countries of today simply acquire colonies and become rich?

Perhaps because in reality only already wealthy countries have the ability to make conquests and build empires. Which is kind of obvious when you think about it, but who cares about common sense? We have a whole civilization to shame into destroying itself!

peterike said...

The NY Times, predictably, is not allowing comments on the review. Their endless cowardice is wearisome.

Fun fact. When I clicked the "More" link to see if there were comments hidden under there, I got an add for "Belle," the latest bit of Hollywood race-mixing propaganda.

Jonathan Silber said...

Similarly, if you took Singapore (a former colony with a harbor directly in the middle of vital shipping lanes) and dropped it into the Sahara where Timbuktu was, I don't think anyone can maintain that it would have been as economically successful.

There is in fact a people dropped into a desert who, starting out there only some sixty years ago, are making a nice living for themselves, while surrounded by other peoples who, though in the neighborhood much longer, are quite unable to do likewise.

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, you hear about them in the papers now and then.

Dan said...

Aesthetics.

Although there is a study that suggests sexual attraction is...

female: Asian, white, black etc
male black, white, asian etc


European society is vastly more beautify and is thus more enduring, culture as a racial construct. A Beautiful thing is good for ever.
The styles generated by Le Corbusier v Sir John Soanes within the European
example tends to prove it.

Dan said...

That's not an own goal. Australia has every mineral and ore needed for a 21st century economy. Every species needed for farming vast quanities of meat are there. The Abbos simply were not curious about what was under their feet. It might well have a genetic root.

Sean said...

Does anyone seriously believe that the elite thinks people should be treated equally because the elite actually think (conta Wade) that all populations are in fact biologically equal?

We don't discriminate against the congenitally ill, or say of those with physical or mental handicaps, that we shouldn't look after them because it imposes too much of a burden on the productive members of society. So it is most unlikely to be true that our society would substantially alter course if we all acknowledged the correctness of Wade's bio-centric approach. Everyone already knows even if the elite won't admit they know.

I suppose Hitler is brought in because he is seen as the man who exposed the Two Cultures taxonomic fallacy, and proved the idea that bio logic is an unanswerable argument. So now we can't have give a fair hearing (without bringing in the supposed consequences of Hitlerism) to any hereditarian arguments about society because they are ... quite correct.

But the other side of the coin is that even if everyone accepted than non Asian minorities come up short in advanced societies, it probably would not actually change much. Because our society is based, not on reaction against policies of 100 years ago in Germany or the US, but on the default setting for white values, which is actually rather moral and altruistic, come what may.

Silver said...

European riches are built directly from the profits of colonialism, and introduced a stark inequality at the outset of the modern age.

That is why Ethiopia, which wasn't ever really colonized, is today so much richer. Rofl.

Face it, Elmer: humans are deeply, naturally, genetically, and irremediably unequal.

Silver said...

What Diamond actually claims is that the geography of Australia made it impossible for human beings to create an advanced economy in Australia. But Europeans creating a highly productive economy in Europe, where geographic conditions were favorable, then exporting the whole damn thing to Australia and operating it there, and walking all over the Abos in the process, is completely consistent with Diamond's geographical determinism.

If it were impossible for Aborigines to develop agriculture and industry in Australia it would have been impossible for the British settlers to practice agriculture and industry in Australia.

Intelligence matters. Choke on it.

Silver said...

Jonathan Marks thinks it's important to understand the similarities between human and chimps. Why not also the similarities between humans and fruit flies, with whom we share 60% of their DNA, or bananas, with whom we share 50%?

Marks needs to face reality: small differences make a big difference, and that's what really matters.

Anonymous said...

Steve weren't you the one who coined this sort of Jewish knee jerk reaction as the "Freikorps Freakout Syndrome" where the Jewish logic goes:

1) People notice things.
2) ???
3) Dachau

ogunsiron said...

Similarly, if you took Singapore (a former colony with a harbor directly in the middle of vital shipping lanes) and dropped it into the Sahara where Timbuktu was, I don't think anyone can maintain that it would have been as economically successful.
----
Singaporeand in Timbuktu might have taken longer to become prosperous but they'd have gotten there or they'd be on their way.

Only in the weird PC environment in which that writer dwells do people have a hard time understanding such things.

Black Africans themselves know damn well that east-asians are extremely capable and smart as a group.

Anonymous said...

If it were impossible for Aborigines to develop agriculture and industry in Australia it would have been impossible for the British settlers to practice agriculture and industry in Australia.

Uh... pretty hard to have much of a civilization without rice, wheat, potatoes, or maize.

Though, I would be curious to see how well a bunch of Brits could do with just kangaroos and macadamia nuts.

Silver said...

Though, I would be curious to see how well a bunch of Brits could do with just kangaroos and macadamia nuts.

Intelligence matters so you would expect them to have to done more than Aborigines. That's just fundamental.

Anonymous said...

Just imagine how bad it will be if/when it's discovered that the genes most responsible for high IQ and cooperative social behavior are riding along the same segments that control lighter skin pigmentation and round hair shafts..

"Sir, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we can use genetic engineering to eliminate the racial gap in education, IQ, and productivity along with the gulf in commission of violent crimes." "That's *great* news! Surely the bad news must pale in comparison." "Well sir, actually *pale* was an apt choice of words..."

Sadly, based on observations with domestication of other species, there's a pretty fair chance that this will be the case. The good news is that we may see every leftist/Marxist and multi-kulti fruitcake's head explode at the same instant around the world.

Stan D Mute

Anonymous said...

Singapore is a controlled experiment of sorts.

One need only visit the island of Batam, which sits directly across the strait from Singapore (to the south, in Indonesia).

Approximately the same size with good ports and most of Singapore's other geographical considerations, Batam continues to be an Indonesian Tijuana to Singapore's San Diego... the difference is the management, not the geography or the weather.

Anonymous said...

Uh... pretty hard to have much of a civilization without rice, wheat, potatoes, or maize.

Though, I would be curious to see how well a bunch of Brits could do with just kangaroos and macadamia nuts.


Yeah. That's the point Diamond makes (in much more detail) in GGS. I doubt any of these people who keep ridiculing Diamond have ever bothered to read his arguments. Seems like some people have a congenital need to believe that dark-skinned people are irredeemably dumb savages.

Dan said...

Typical stuff.

I suspect that they'd at least, at the very least, been in sea borne contact with what is now China. They'd have imported some sort of cattle to graze. Their diet would be sea based. They'd mine for minerals and ores.

guy incognito said...

* This Arthur Allen is almost certainly not the other Arthur Allen, I am relieved to say, whom a Google search turns up as a suspect in the Zodiac Killer mystery.

But how do we know that he is not another suspect with the same name?

Orlando said...

European riches are built directly from the profits of colonialism

Really? Europeans colonized sub-Saharan Africa for about 70 years (1890 – 1960). They have been gone for over 50 years by now. They left untouched infrastructure that Africans managed to ruin in no time. Before that time, it was just trade. Besides people, all they had to offer were basically gold and ivory. Are those real resources? Europeans introduced American plants like potatoes, corn etc. that led to steep population grows, by far exceeding the number of people that were exported.

Silver said...

I doubt any of these people who keep ridiculing Diamond have ever bothered to read his arguments.

While environments matter, Diamond deserves all the ridicule he gets and more. Poverty is the natural condition of existence. Prosperity is an achievement, and requires the application of human intelligence. The less intelligent an organism the more it relies on the bounty of nature. Diamond is typical of leftie loons in his failure (or refusal) to acknowledge this.

ben tillman said...

Yeah. That's the point Diamond makes (in much more detail) in GGS. I doubt any of these people who keep ridiculing Diamond have ever bothered to read his arguments.

Diamond’s thesis stated at page 25 of Guns, Germs & Steel:

"Authors are regularly asked by journalists to summarize a long book in one sentence. For this book, here is such a sentence: ‘History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves.”

The rather obvious hole in this thesis: environmental differences produce biological differences.

Diamond posits geological differentiation as causing cultural differentiation. Of course, this differentiation results in different selective pressures and, therefore, biological differences.

Humans migrated out of Africa many thousands of years before the advent of agriculture 13,000 years ago (to use Diamond’s date). Thus, if the first migration of homo sapiens out of Africa occurred roughly 110,000 years ago, humans had several thousand generations in which to adapt to new and different environments, even before the advent of agriculture, which accelerated changes in population size, social organization, and technology. And, thereafter, humans had another 500 generations to adapt to their diverse geographic environments and their continually diversifying cultural environments. (See Cochran & Harpending's The 10000 Year Explosion.)

Although environmental differences started this “feedback loop” (as Rushton terms it), biological differences must have arisen long before the historical events Diamond discusses and have continued to be shaped up to the present.

Thus, Diamond concedes all the facts necessary to refute hos thesis as long as we accept the law of natural selection.

Anonymous said...

The rather obvious hole in this thesis: environmental differences produce biological differences.

OK, that's plausible. But as Diamond says, the children of hunter-gatherer New Guineans fly planes and operate computers. It seemed they had the innate intelligence to come up to speed when they were nurtured properly and given the right education.

Doesn't every environment require intelligence to survive? Sure, people in cold places needed to come up with clothing and shelter, but there was also less threat from fauna, no? This is what makes me think that Diamond's arguments form part of the answer, and are not to be completely discarded as the genetics-first people want.

Anonymous said...

That's not an own goal. Australia has every mineral and ore needed for a 21st century economy. Every species needed for farming vast quanities of meat are there. The Abbos simply were not curious about what was under their feet. It might well have a genetic root.

Diamond's response would be that the plants and animals of Australia were not suited to domestication. That may or may not be true, but that's the argument Wade needed to address, and he doesn't. Instead he simply asserts that present day European success and Aboriginal failure cannot be explained by the environment, even though Diamond has in fact provided an explanation -- which Wade has not addressed -- that purports to explain precisely that.

What's so "favorable" about "geographic conditions" in Europe? Australia has many different types of climate and geography. In places, especially the southern regions, its climate and geography is very western-European-like. There was nothing about the Australian geography or climate which prevented its indigenous population from developing the plow and irrigation and the other basics of a fairly sophisticated agricultural civilization.

and

Trying to portray Australia as a barren and inhospitable land is fools errand, as others have pointed out here. My own area, South Australia, is often referred to as the driest state in the driest continent. Yet large swathes of SA resemble the boot of Italy, Sicily, Southern Spain, and the French Riviera in landscape and fertility.

Same problem. Diamond would say sure, the climate's nice, but there was nothing there you could domesticate, so the Abos never had a chance to get started.

If it were impossible for Aborigines to develop agriculture and industry in Australia it would have been impossible for the British settlers to practice agriculture and industry in Australia.

Intelligence matters. Choke on it.


British settlers practiced agriculture with domestic plants and animals native to Eurasia! See the problem? Diamond's claim is that there were no suitable species in Australia. The claim may be total bullshit, but you need to say so. You need to point to native Australian species that could in fact have been domesticated. Are there any? I don't know, and Wade doesn't tell me. Wade just misses the point.

What's really frustrating is that I totally agree that intelligence matters. In addition I think it's entirely possible that Australia Aborigines and Sub-Saharan Africans have significantly less of it than Europeans and Asians. If true (I can't say I'm 100% certain) this would clearly matter a lot. I just think Wade overstates his case dreadfully and makes an awful lot of unpersuasive arguments in the second half of his book. If I were a blank-slater I would have been laughing my head off.

Maxwell Power said...

The philosopher Ludwik Fleck once wrote, “ ‘To see’ means to recreate, at a suitable moment, a picture created by the mental collective to which one belongs.”

I remember when I had to write something for school and I'd hit up the Microsoft Encarta quote-of-the-day generator for an ending

Anonymous said...

Doesn't every environment require intelligence to survive? Sure, people in cold places needed to come up with clothing and shelter, but there was also less threat from fauna, no? This is what makes me think that Diamond's arguments form part of the answer, and are not to be completely discarded as the genetics-first people want.

Im sure no one is claiming its all genetics. But Diamond is essentially saying, or his flat-earth liberal fanboys want him to say, that Europeans have merely been very lucky with regards to plants, animals, weather and disease. Everybody else has just been unlucky - over and over again. All we have to do is redress that bizarre run of luck and eveything in the world will be fine.

ogunsiron said...

Who are or were the smartest hunter gatherers ?

I understand that the Inuit have a relatively high IQ. They seem to have a real hard time adapting to civilization because they're extremely violent and extremely prone to addiction and not so much for a lack of intelligence.

Is there nay evidence of hunter gatherers with IQs similar to that of the inuit from more favorable clines than the arctic ?
How advanced were the pacific north-west indians ?

ogunsiron said...

Anonymous said...
Just imagine how bad it will be if/when it's discovered that the genes most responsible for high IQ and cooperative social behavior are riding along the same segments that control lighter skin pigmentation and round hair shafts

===
Could ear wax form be related to IQ in any way? Could tooth shape be related to the propensity to sweat a lot? Could nail shape and thickness be related to the ability to control aggressivity ?

I think that the above aren't stupid questions because of the following :

"Generally speaking, the ectoderm differentiates to form the nervous system (spine, peripheral nerves and brain),[3][4] tooth enamel and the epidermis (the outer part of integument). It also forms the lining of mouth, anus, nostrils, sweat glands, hair and nails.[4]"

Silver said...

But as Diamond says, the children of hunter-gatherer New Guineans fly planes and operate computers. It seemed they had the innate intelligence to come up to speed when they were nurtured properly and given the right education.

Intelligence is unevenly distributed within populations as well as between populations. That some Papuans have learned these skills is predicted by the model. It doesn't change the fact the mean intelligence of their population is substantially lower. Speaking for myself, I would not breed with a Papuan no matter what her IQ. If this upsets you, choke on it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking for myself, I would not breed with a Papuan no matter what her IQ. If this upsets you, choke on it.

Given the quality of your comments here, I would much rather you didn't breed at all.

Geo. Cloony said...

Yep, Silver's off the market in Papua-land, ladies -- read it & wash that man out of your hair