May 23, 2014

Washington Post review of "Troublesome Inheritance"

In the Washington Post, Seth Shulman writes:
Book review: “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” by Nicholas Wade

By Seth Shulman, Friday, May 23, 5:10 PM E-mail the writer 
Is there a topic more divisive than race? If so, perhaps it’s the pairing of science and race. After all, recent generations have seen odious prejudices exploited under the guise of scientific legitimacy to justify discrimination, sterilization and even genocide.

You've got to give the Washington Post reviewer credit for waiting one more sentence than the New York Times reviewer before referring to Hitler.
... He musters a good deal of persuasive evidence that, as he puts it, “human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional.” It stands to reason that this should be so. After all, as evolutionary biologists have shown for countless species, the geographic separation of a population over time results in adaptations to specific environments. And, for many thousands of years, most human populations were separated into diverse geographic and social settings. ...
Wade gets into trouble, however, in the latter half of the book, which he describes as more “speculative.” A whole chapter is devoted to the subject of Jewish intelligence, in which he argues that the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes awarded to people of Jewish descent can be traced to the fact that Jewish money-lending in the Middle Ages required levels of literacy and numeracy far beyond those in the general population. That specialization, and the wealth it brought, he argues, conferred upon the Ashkenazi Jews of Europe an evolutionary advantage that became encoded in complex ways in their genes. 
There is little solid evidence to support this hypothesis; moreover, the combinations of genes conferring intelligence — if there are any — are unknown. 

"if there are any"? I'd be interested in hearing Shulman's speculation on how there might not be any genes conferring intelligence.
While Wade demonstrates a good deal of mastery over many of the technical issues involved, he strikes a remarkably cavalier note about the obvious social and political unease such research might engender. 
Brushing aside Jews’ sensitivities to this kind of research, for instance, he blithely proclaims: “The days of pogroms are past, and to ignore every difficult subject would serve only the forces of obscurantism.” And even though he offers a chapter on what he calls the “perversions of science” that led to eugenics and ultimately to the Holocaust, he never satisfyingly grapples with the reality that strictures against this type of research remain in place for a reason: namely that the science of racial differences presents an affront to our relatively fragile and hard-won political understanding (widely sanctioned internationally) that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. 
In an America still struggling with glaring disparities in opportunity between whites and blacks, for instance, it is hard to know what to make of Wade’s attempt to sweep aside such issues by simply proclaiming that “fears that the evolutionary understanding of race will promote a new phase of racism or imperialism are surely exaggerated. The lessons of past abuses are still vivid enough.” Or that “opposition to racism is now well entrenched, at least in the Western world.” Despite Wade’s seeming command of the science involved, statements like these set a tone that often makes him seem like an over-eager debater so keen to score points that he ultimately loses the larger argument.
    
In conclusion, we don't like your tone, young man.
   

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

"You've got to give the Washington Post reviewer credit for waiting one more sentence than the New York Times reviewer before referring to Hitler."

Well, you can't really blame them, Steve. Everyone knows about the enormous popularity of Hitler on university campuses across the country. Why, I can't cross the quad without seeing dozens of copies of MEIN KAMPF being eagerly read by undergraduates.

dearieme said...

"the science of racial differences presents an affront to our ... political understanding ... that all people deserve equal treatment under the law": that is a most horrible blunder. Equality before the law is a moral and practical issue, not a scientific one. To preach that it is scientific is to risk that the idea will be thrown out once the science of racial differences becomes undisputed. Dear God, what a reckless fool!

Steve Johnson said...

"I'd be interested in hearing Shulman's speculation on how there might not be any genes conferring intelligence."

Bonus points if that explanation allows for humans to be more intelligent than chimpanzees.

Anonymous said...

"namely that the science of racial differences presents an affront to our relatively fragile and hard-won political understanding (widely sanctioned internationally) that all people deserve equal treatment under the law."

So, HBD is bad not because it is untrue but because it insults our current ideological structure? Call me crazy, but that sounds rather like some of the arguments that were brought to bear against Darwin.Cf, for example, Disraeli's quip: "What is the question now placed before society with the glib assurance which to me is most astonishing? That question is this: Is man an ape or an angel? I, my lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and abhorrence those new fangled theories."

BurplesonAFB said...

Bonus points if that explanation allows for humans to be more intelligent than chimpanzees.

Well of course humans are more intelligent, look at how much more enriching the human infant's environment is. Why, did you know there are chimp households without a single book? Donate now. We are the world, we are the chimpdren.

Anonymous said...

the combinations of genes conferring intelligence — if there are any — are unknown.

Yes, it was totally stupid to believe in Gregor Mendel's ideas before ~2010 when the genes behind the pea traits he was tracking were identified.

Anonymous said...

Earlier you mentioned an African American female Janet McDonald, who sadly is deceased. She evidently was brilliant intellectually. Had a demonstrated high IQ as she was a Mensa member. Perhaps not genius but high IQ.

Now if 100,000 blacks produce one Janet Mcdonald caliber intellect and 100,000 whites produce 2, who cares? That's what I don't quite get about this IQ theorising. Maybe if you want to debate the relative merits of Benin vs Norway but as a hiring decision what does race have anything to do with the IQ of your hires? Or your spouse? or Neighbor? Those are decisions about one person not a 100,000.

Anonymous said...

IF THERE ARE ANY??????????????????????

HOLY SHYT.

Anonymous said...

Look up Steve's posts on disparate impact and the 4/5ths rule.

The Z Blog said...

Steve, sometimes you way of noticing is comedy gold. "You've got to give the Washington Post reviewer credit for waiting one more sentence than the New York Times reviewer before referring to Hitler."

My goodness. I may have blown a funny fuse with that one.

Anonymous said...

Now if 100,000 blacks produce one Janet Mcdonald caliber intellect and 100,000 whites produce 2, who cares? That's what I don't quite get about this IQ theorising. Maybe if you want to debate the relative merits of Benin vs Norway but as a hiring decision what does race have anything to do with the IQ of your hires? Or your spouse? or Neighbor? Those are decisions about one person not a 100,000.

US blacks have a population IQ roughly one standard deviation below whites. That means about 85% of the black population will have an IQ below 100, vs about 50% of whites.

An IQ of around 115 or so is a reasonable starting point for many professional jobs. That would be at about two standard deviations above the mean for blacks, meaning about 2.5% of the population is capable of meeting the minimum requirement, vs about 15% of whites.

IQ is strongly correlated with many measures of job success. While discrimination on the basis of race alone is wrong, one of the takeaways of the numbers above is that we shouldn't assume disparate outcomes is the result discrimination. In other words, don't be surprised if high energy physics is mostly white, Jewish, and asian, and this probably isn't the result of anti-black bias in physics departments.

Anononymous said...

Janet McDonald, who sadly is deceased. She evidently was brilliant intellectually. Had a demonstrated high IQ as she was a Mensa member.

Mensa has really dropped it's standards.

http://www.salon.com/1999/02/24/feature_374/
A dime bag for the schoolgirl

Janet Mcdonald

I had never gotten off the train at the Harlem stop but was sure I would blend in easily in the black neighborhood. [...]
I was a Vassar freshman buying heroin in Harlem, without benefit of white-skin privilege, wealth, or family ties. [...]
“How many you want, honey? One? Two? They a dollar a piece.” I read the marking on the big cardboard box of syringes: “Harlem Hospital.”


Up the Down Staircase:
Where Snoop and Shakespeare Meet

The transmission of moral values I leave to the literati preachers. My books house teen mothers, high school dropouts, shoplifting homeboys, preppy drug dealers, and girl arsonists.


Childrens books by Janet McDonald

Her best known children's book is Spellbound, which tells the story of a teenaged mother who ...

Harlem Hustle
The fast cash of the streets still tempts him, but the threat of getting locked up - again - is daunting. Maybe Eric's way out is as Harlem Hustle, the rapper he dreams of being.

Brother Hood

Chill Wind
Chilling out is her mantra until she receives a sixty-day termination-of-welfare-benefits notice. Without her monthly food stamps and assistance checks and with no help from the father of her two children

Off-Color
Spunky and headstrong, Cameron blasts music, challenges adults, and cuts class when she feels like it. She lives with her single mom

Whiskey said...

Anon -- see smart vs. stupid fraction.

If say, a significant portion of Black people have IQs around 70 or lower, given a mean of 85, then functionally they will not be able to read. See Detroit's 48% adult illiteracy rate, out of an 83% Black city.

Not being able to read means the population is economic dead weight. They are not fit even for McDonalds work because they can't read the signs demanding they wash their hands in the bathroom.

On the converse side, if you have a population with a mean IQ of say, 100, then you will have a fairly large amount of people with say, 115 IQs. People with that sort of IQ can do many useful things: pilot advanced aircraft, SERVICE THEM, fight infantry battles, other highly load IQ tasks.

One of the biggest class/nerdy non-Military White guy problems HBD has is buying into the idiot Kerry elite thinking that Military = stupid cannon fodder. This is probably true for many non-Western societies but has not been true for Western nations. For example, the Athenians and Thebans had their best and brightest in military service, it was the elite of Thebes that finally defeated Sparta's formidable military machine. The same was true for the Romans, Medieval and Modern Europe, the North and South in the Civil War, and it is easy to see that having not just a "genius" as leader (example Second Punic War) but a higher IQ population that can read, follow the intent not minutae of orders, in a chaotic and complex battlefield, means success. That is only cubed when complex machinery that must be maintained enters the equation.

Since success or failure in battle equals survival or annihilation as a people (just ask the Carthaginians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Gauls, the Numidians, the Visigoths, and the Moors about that) ... higher IQ at a min means population survival; lack of it means perhaps annihilation. It is not a measure of two geniuses versus one but how many moderately smart (seize the advantage of the "hinge of battle" when it presents itself) and stupid (fall into an avoidable trap) people you have on the battlefield.

Dennis Dale said...

The environmentalists' argument has gone from arguing-from-consequences (IQ is not heritable because it would be a bad thing if it was) to denouncing the opposite side for not employing the same logical fallacy, pretending their arguing from sound logic the whole time.

Anonymous said...

The notion that if you Do Darwinism Wrong it leads to Hitler is misleading. I encourage everyone to read Robert J. Richards's title essay in his collection Was Hitler a Darwinian? I was initially skeptical, assuming that the argument was going to amount to special pleading for a liberal hero, who ought to be cordoned off from the Nazis for no better reason that He's Our Guy. Nevertheless, Richards convinced me that that Hitler's outlook was not in any meaningful sense Darwinian.

The largest influence on Hitler's racism was arguably Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927), whose book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century went through an astonishing 30 editions in Germany between 1899 and 1944. Chamberlain's conception of the struggle of races (which was basically Hitler's conception) owed absolutely no theoretical debt to Darwin or even to the much-demonized Darwinian Haeckel, but rather chiefly to "Gobineau, Kant, Goethe, and Wagner." Chamberlain was a Kurtz-like figure who went native and embraced the windiest Teutonic romanticism.

leftist conservative said...

wow, it's weird the way the corporate establishment is so set on enforcing political correctness and punishing anyone who violates.

Corporations are all about money.
I wonder how money plays into political correctness, multiculturalism, mass immigration, et al.

Anonymous said...

"strictures against this type of research remain in place for a reason: namely that the science of racial differences presents an affront to our relatively fragile and hard-won political understanding (widely sanctioned internationally) that all people deserve equal treatment under the law. "

I never see anyone respond to this criticism of Wade's book by pointing out all the irresponsible speculation and fraudulent research committed over the last 60 years by the politically correct left. This should be front and center when combating such genetics-create-pogrom arguments.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Ernst Haeckel reminds me a little bit of Harpending. Robert J. Richards noted: "Haeckel, on his travels to Ceylon and Indonesia, often formed closer and more intimate relations with natives, even members of the untouchable classes, than with the European colonials."

Jonathan Silber said...

The environmentalists' argument has gone from arguing-from-consequences (IQ is not heritable because it would be a bad thing if it was) to denouncing the opposite side for not employing the same logical fallacy, pretending their arguing from sound logic the whole time.

Right; and this argument of the Left presumably is an instance of the "nuanced" thinking that they pride themselves on and that their enemies on the Right are incapable of.

Anonymous said...

If I understand it correctly Janet McDonald seems to have gotten crummy nurture, but still learned French and Law well enough to get a job in France as a lawyer. That's impressive and I doubt it was affirmative action at work, although her knowledge of American English made her unique and was important to her success.

So I don't see what the point of all the IQ talk is. In life you deal with individuals not demographics. Janet McDonald is way smarter than a dumb Jewish person. When she was alive I would rather Janet McDonald handle my legal affairs then a random Jew.

Anonymous said...

"So I don't see what the point of all the IQ talk is." - once again, the point is predictive power, not looking back and saying that so and so was capable, but looking forward to see who in all likelyhood will be.

Harry Baldwin said...

he never satisfyingly grapples with the reality that strictures against this type of research remain in place for a reason: namely that the science of racial differences presents an affront to our relatively fragile and hard-won political understanding (widely sanctioned internationally) that all people deserve equal treatment under the law.

How long has it been since Americans of different races received equal treatment under the law? And speaking of "never satisfyingly grapples," does Shulman grapple with the fact that he's arguing that political correctness should take precedence over scientific truth?

In an America still struggling with glaring disparities in opportunity between whites and blacks,

Shulman says opportunities, but he means outcomes. In the minds of people like him, they're synonymous.

Despite Wade’s seeming command of the science involved, statements like these set a tone that often makes him seem like an over-eager debater so keen to score points that he ultimately loses the larger argument.

Shulman favors the new style of debating pioneered by the Towson debating team, where you just spout gibberish and holler about white privilege.

Harry Baldwin said...

In life you deal with individuals not demographics.

Boy, you really have not been keeping up. On a personal level we can deal with individuals. On the level of political policy, we deal with demographics, and our unwillingness to acknowledge the reality of group differences leads to disastrous outcomes. For example, no sane country would figure that a good way to be economically competitive in the 21st century is to stock up on tens of millions of agricultural peasants from south of the border.

Chief Seattle said...

"So I don't see what the point of all the IQ talk is." - once again, the point is predictive power, not looking back and saying that so and so was capable, but looking forward to see who in all likelyhood will be.

No, it's not about predictive power at all. I wouldn't want to hire an average black, or white, or even Asian base on their race. It's about not having to explain why after I hired based on merit my employees don't represent a random sample of the population. It's not my fault, it's 50,000 years of history. That's the point.

Dennis Dale said...

So I don't see what the point of all the IQ talk is. In life you deal with individuals not demographics. Janet McDonald is way smarter than a dumb Jewish person. When she was alive I would rather Janet McDonald handle my legal affairs then a random Jew.

Why do we have to keep explaining this to people? Just replace races with populations (it was good enough for Cavalli-Sforza). Get it?
Imagine if medicine were limited by such polite ignorance, denying itself the predictive data drawn from genetic diversity. Of course many think we should do just that.

Then of course there's the social/political question of race and fairness. Two words: Disparate Impact. As long as policy and culture take equality of outcomes as the only measure of justice, we are doomed to blunder from boondoggle to boondoggle, until we're spent.

You say we should all treat people as individuals?* Well, we're waiting on you. But be warned: you are now a Reactionary, as defined in 2014.

*Don't you know that's racist?

Mark Caplan said...

"the disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes awarded to people of Jewish descent..."

Many have attributed the plethora of Nobel Prizes won by Jews and the paltry number won by Muslims as evidence of superior Jewish intelligence. Nonsense! Jews dominate because of the enticement of the $1 million award. If the Nobel Prize consisted of marriage to a 6-year-old virgin, Muslims would be unbeatable.

Luke Lea said...

re: dearime - "Equality before the law is a moral and practical issue,. not a scientific one. To preach that it is scientific is to risk that the idea will be thrown out once the science of racial differences becomes undisputed. Dear God, what a reckless fool!"

Brother, you got that right.

Anonymous said...

"No, it's not about predictive power at all. I wouldn't want to hire an average black, or white, or even Asian base on their race. It's about not having to explain why after I hired based on merit my employees don't represent a random sample of the population. It's not my fault, it's 50,000 years of history. That's the point." - back before businesses had to explain themselves for hiring whoever they wanted to hire they tended to test their workers. IQ won't save you from a disparate impact suit unless it can convince society as a whole to do away with such nonsense.

Silver said...

I encourage everyone to read Robert J. Richards's title essay in his collection Was Hitler a Darwinian?

I happened to read the same essay just last week. It succeeds quite admirably in distinguishing Hitler's ideas from Darwinian evolutionary theory. The charge usually made against Hitler is that he was a Social Darwinist, and while the essay acknowledges this, it does not draw a sufficiently strong distinction between Darwinism and Social Darwinism. This is disappointing because race-deniers typically insist on just such a connection: that applying Darwinian concepts to human beings necessarily leads to something like early 20th century Social Darwinism. Still, this essay makes a worthy contribution towards revealing race-deniers as the politically motivated frauds they are.

Anonymous said...

In conclusion, we don't like your tone, young man.

Steve, such snarky comments don't make your case for you, and fail to convince anyone outside your echo chamber.

Of all the reviews of Wade's book, this seems to be one of the weakest, but other thoughtful critiques have been made by people who understand genetics or statistics (or both.) You have yourself linked to them. Why don't you try to make scientific critiques of those reviews instead of picking and choosing a weak sentence here and there to make fun of?

Whenever a particular quality/trait/attribute (like intelligence or aggression) follows a normal distribution within a particular race (or genetic configuration if you will), the entire burden of evidence for monocausal explanations lies on people arguing for monocausality. You can't just focus on the tails and say, one race is better than another, when there is a huge overlap across races for most of the bell curves. Doing that makes you and Wade (if he indeed believes all his "speculations") sound like political (and not scientific) advocates.

Anonymous said...

IQ won't save you from a disparate impact suit unless it can convince society as a whole to do away with such nonsense.

I'm all for IQ-testing of juries.

Anonymous said...

Yeah winning a nobel prize is really the easiest way to get a million dolars.

dfordoom said...

In reviews I've read of Wade's book a couple of other recent books dealing with the same topic or related topics have been mentioned, notably J. Philippe Rushton's "Race, Evolution, and Behavior" and Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's "The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution" anyone here have any thoughts on these two books?

HA said...

"Considering he never met his biological father, that's not surprising...."

That is incorrect. Actually, he did meet him. Later on, when he found out that man from the restaurant he liked was actually his father, he still had no interest in getting to know more of him. Whereas he met his sister only after he had lawyers/detectives conduct a nationwide search.

"...a lot of Americans whose parents were immigrants have had trouble connecting with their family members."

Yeah, especially when said immigrant acts like a low-life to your biological mother, leaving her to eventually put the kids up for adoption. I think that's a little more relevant than any Syrian/American cultural gap.

The point is, it's not just nature, and it's not just nurture. There is such a thing as character, and it matters.

HA said...

"Mensa has really dropped it's standards."

Not necessarily. The criteria for Mensa entry -- SAT, GRE, etc. -- are all very imperfect measures of intelligence on an individual basis. The ability to score well on IQ tests (which is, after all, what IQ tests really measure) is a parameter that is much more useful for analyzing groups than for analyzing individuals, given that idiosyncrasies cancel out among the former. The last time I looked, the Mensa meet-up subgroups contained an unusually large number of pagan/occult themes and zaftig librarian-looking types favoring Goth or starchild haberdashery and Tarot readings (though maybe that was what stuck out to someone like me -- it was a very cursory overview, so take that with a grain of salt).

In any case, there are plenty of people who have more than a few screws loose, but still manage to do well on IQ tests.

Anonymous said...

The FT Isn't Just Saying Piketty Made A Mistake — They're Saying He Manipulated Data http://t.co/E5dmmpkWp8

Harry Baldwin said...

@ Mark Caplan --That's a keeper!

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

If I understand it correctly Janet McDonald seems to have gotten crummy nurture, but still learned French and Law well enough to get a job in France as a lawyer. That's impressive and I doubt it was affirmative action at work, although her knowledge of American English made her unique and was important to her success.

So I don't see what the point of all the IQ talk is. In life you deal with individuals not demographics. Janet McDonald is way smarter than a dumb Jewish person. When she was alive I would rather Janet McDonald handle my legal affairs then a random Jew.

5/23/14, 6:35 PM"

If Janet McDonald was alive you could ask her to explain averages to you.

Gordo

Anonymous said...

Mark Caplan said:
If the Nobel Prize consisted of marriage to a 6-year-old virgin, Muslims would be unbeatable.

Well, six year-old carousel riders ARE damaged goods. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Brushing aside Jews’ sensitivities to this kind of research, for instance ...



What the hell? Jews are the only group of people in the world who avidly pursue "this kind of research". The reason we end up discussing Jews in any discussion of HBD is because there is a large body of genetic data on Jews, amassed by Jewish researchers. At least a couple of times per year you'll read a (J)New York Times story about some new (Jewish run) study proclaiming how special and unique Jewish genes are, with the nearly-spoken sub-text being "Don't have sex with those goys, marry a nice Jewish boy/girl instead".

Wright Right and Rightier said...

For whatever reason Eiropean societies appear to have created a situation where advanced research can be conducted. Technically gifted men can go off and do the Male Pattern Autism thing and create planes, trains and automobiles. That's something inherently European.

Wright Right and Rightier said...

Any discussion of Eugenics among the Goyische is shut down faster than a deck chair on Brighton Pier on a rainy day with gale force winds.

Eugenics for me but not for thee.


If Eugenics had been applied for 100 years or so I think we'd now have a Mars colony.

Anonymous said...

Earlier you mentioned an African American female Janet McDonald, who sadly is deceased. She evidently was brilliant intellectually. Had a demonstrated high IQ as she was a Mensa member. Perhaps not genius but high IQ.

Now if 100,000 blacks produce one Janet Mcdonald caliber intellect and 100,000 whites produce 2, who cares? That's what I don't quite get about this IQ theorising. Maybe if you want to debate the relative merits of Benin vs Norway but as a hiring decision what does race have anything to do with the IQ of your hires? Or your spouse? or Neighbor? Those are decisions about one person not a 100,000.


You don't seem very bright. Maybe that's why you don't get the simple arguments about the ramifications of the AVERAGE PERSON'S intellect and personality on the societies they compose?

Maybe that's why you don't get the ramifications of said average person's qualities on the now culturally-dominant idea that whites "broke" blacks and little white babies in swaddling are going to be on the hook for blacks failing to measure up? If libs didn't want this stuff to come out, they shouldn't have blamed whites for black failure. Too late to take it back now.

You're like a witness claiming not to know why the court wants to know how the black fellow broke his leg when the case in question is a lawsuit blaming YT for breaking it. I.e., clueless.

ben tillman said...

"Bonus points if that explanation allows for humans to be more intelligent than chimpanzees."

Well of course humans are more intelligent, look at how much more enriching the human infant's environment is.


I understand you're lampooning Shulman's claim, but take it further: why aren't my or your doggies as smart as our children? Same household environment, right?

ben tillman said...

The largest influence on Hitler's racism was arguably Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927), whose book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century went through an astonishing 30 editions in Germany between 1899 and 1944. Chamberlain's conception of the struggle of races (which was basically Hitler's conception) owed absolutely no theoretical debt to Darwin or even to the much-demonized Darwinian Haeckel, but rather chiefly to "Gobineau, Kant, Goethe, and Wagner."

Disraeli was the father of racialism, yet you omitted him. Disraeli wrote Coningsby 11 years before Chamberlain was even born.

ben tillman said...



It's never happened, and it never will.