Human Biodiversity: A Troublesome and Inconvenient Inheritance

Update: No one should be surprised that the NYT is unable to live with a reporter who can handle the truth. After more than 30 years of solid science reporting, the NY Times is forcing Nicholas Wade to leave the paper, just days after his book “A Troublesome Inheritance” was released. Continue reading to learn why honest science reporting might make a publishing powerhouse so nervous:

It is getting harder for the modern skankstream in journalism and academia to ignore the harsh and politically incorrect findings of human population genetics. The skankstream tells us that there are no significant genetic differences between human populations. Genetics researchers tell us a different story. And now, in a book published this month by Penguin, a mainstream reporter for the New York Times comes out and explains just how badly the politically correct consensus has gotten it wrong.

Nicholas Wade, the New York Times’ chief genetics reporter, has published 1,052 articles in the newspaper of record since 1983. For most of this century, Wade has been methodically waging war in the Science section of the NYT against the liberal creationist myth that race isn’t real. He has now written a definitive book on the existence of biological differences among races, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, which will be published on May 6.

In his new book, Wade writes:

Ever since the first modern humans dispersed from the ancestral homeland in northeast Africa … the populations on each continent have evolved largely independently of one another as each adapted to its regional environment. … Because of these divisions in the human population, anyone interested in recent human evolution is almost inevitably studying human races, whether they wish to or not.

To Wade, race isn’t just skin deep. In fact, he finds the visual differences between races less significant than the behavioral. Evolution’s strategy for adapting to radically different environments is to “keep the human body much the same but change the social behavior.”

For example, in one study, the variant of the MAO-A gene most associated with aggression and delinquency was found in 5.2 percent of a sample of black males but only 0.1 percent of Caucasian males, which may explain a lot. __Takismag Steve Sailer

Charles Murray takes a look at this controversial new book in a WSJ review:

Mr. Wade devotes the second half of his book to a larger set of topics: “The thesis presented here assumes . . . that there is a genetic component to human social behavior; that this component, so critical to human survival, is subject to evolutionary change and has indeed evolved over time; that the evolution in social behavior has necessarily proceeded independently in the five major races and others; and that slight evolutionary differences in social behavior underlie the differences in social institutions prevalent among the major human populations.”

To develop his case, Mr. Wade draws from a wide range of technical literature in political science, sociology, economics and anthropology. He contrasts the polities and social institutions of China, India, the Islamic world and Europe. He reviews circumstantial evidence that the genetic characteristics of the English lower class evolved between the 13th century and the 19th. He takes up the outsize Jewish contributions to the arts and sciences, most easily explained by the Jews’ conspicuously high average IQ, and recounts the competing evolutionary explanations for that elevated cognitive ability. Then, with courage that verges on the foolhardy, he adds a chapter that incorporates genetics into an explanation of the West’s rise during the past 600 years. __ Charles Murray in WSJ

Of course, Nicholas Wade’s genetic explanation of “the rise of the West” parallels Charles Murray’s historical portrayal of Human Accomplishment in a complementary way. And Murray suspects that the skankstream in modern social science and journalism is just not able to handle the truth right now.

John Derbyshire has a few words to say about Nicholas Wade’s book, as well:

In his new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History, scheduled for publication May 6th, Wade raises high the banner of race realism and charges head-on into the massed ranks of the SSSM. He states his major premise up front, on page two:

New analyses of the human genome have established that human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional.

Those last four words are repeated at intervals throughout the narrative. They are, as it were, the keynote of the book; Wade returns to them many times to anchor his observations—and some speculations—on the history and development of human societies.

Along the way he has fun tweaking the SSSM-niks:

A few biologists have begun to agree that there are human races, but they hasten to add that the fact means very little. Races exist, but the implications are “not much,” says the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Too bad—nature has performed this grand 50,000-year experiment, generating scores of fascinating variations on the human theme, only to have evolutionary biologists express disappointment at her efforts.

That “too bad” is priceless. Even better is Wade’s tossing and goring of Jared Diamond’s absurd best-seller Guns, Germs, and Steel:

It is driven by ideology, not science. The pretty arguments about the availability of domesticable species or the spread of disease are not dispassionate assessments of fact but are harnessed to Diamond’s galloping horse of geographic determinism, itself designed to drag the reader away from the idea that genes and evolution might have played any part in recent human history.

In a dry little footnote to Diamond’s well-known assertion that the tribes of New Guinea are “in mental ability probably genetically superior to Westerners,” [Guns, Germs, and Steel, p. 21] Wade notes, with a reference, that the mean IQ for Papua New Guinea is 83, and adds:

If Diamond is thinking of some more appropriate measure of intelligence, he does not cite it.

Cognitive scientist Steven Pinker is also given a jab of the lance, though more respectfully.

… Wade’s longest and meatiest chapter, “The Recasting of Human Nature,” begins with economic historian Gregory Clark’s argument, in his 2007 book A Farewell to Alms, that the industrial revolution happened in England when it did because of evolved changes in behavior across the previous six centuries. __John Derbyshire in VDare

It is interesting that Nicholas Wade looks at Gregory Clark’s writings, because Clark also has a new book out, reviewed by Steve Sailer. Clark’s most recent book looks more closely at particularly prolific English families which have contributed to human advancement far beyond their mere numbers.

This is feisty material, far beyond the ability of most politically correct journalists, academicians, and politicians to assimilate — or even to face publicly.

Clearly some human groups are responsible for improving the human condition far out of proportion to the size of their populations. Likewise, some human groups are responsible for a far greater share of human violence, poverty, and under-achievement than one might expect from their proportion of populations in the cities of America and the rest of the western world. These numbers should be faced straight up, and examined closely.

Instead you see the skankstream marching in lock-step shouting as loud as they can: Na-na-na! I can’t hear you, I can’t see you, so you must not be there!

Unfortunately for the PC skanks, that approach will not work much longer — not for human biodiversity not for the climate apocalypse, and not for any number of other important issues which the skankstream does not care to face honestly.

Most schools indoctrinate young children in the PC skankstream’s way of thinking. The deadweight from that large-scale dumbing down will be a drag on the economies and intellectual thought of western nations for generations to come.

That is why educational and child-raising alternatives to the skankstream are so important.

The “culture wars” have barely begun. HFTB. PFTW. Be resilient. Be dangerous. Be competent. And pass it on.

A more extensive list of book reviews for Nicholas Wade’s book “A Troublesome Inheritance.”

Bonus Feature — Edited excerpt from Troublesome Inheritance:

Analysis of genomes from around the world establishes that there is a biological basis for race, despite the official statements to the contrary of leading social science organizations. An illustration of the point is the fact that with mixed race populations, such as African Americans, geneticists can now track along an individual’s genome, and assign each segment to an African or European ancestor, an exercise that would be impossible if race did not have some basis in biological reality.

… Human evolution has not only been recent and extensive, it has also been regional. The period of 30,000 to 5,000 years ago, from which signals of recent natural selection can be detected, occurred after the splitting of the three major races, so represents selection that has occurred largely independently within each race. The three principal races are Africans (those who live south of the Sahara), East Asians (Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans), and Caucasians (Europeans and the peoples of the Near East and the Indian subcontinent). In each of these races, a different set of genes has been changed by natural selection. This is just what would be expected for populations that had to adapt to different challenges on each continent. The genes specially affected by natural selection control not only expected traits like skin color and nutritional metabolism, but also some aspects of brain function. Though the role of these selected brain genes is not yet understood, the obvious truth is that genes affecting the brain are just as much subject to natural selection as any other category of gene.

… Anything that has a genetic basis, such as these social instincts, can be varied by natural selection. The power of modifying social instincts is most visible in the case of ants, the organisms that, along with humans, occupy the two pinnacles of social behavior. Sociality is rare in nature because to make a society work individuals must moderate their powerful selfish instincts and become at least partly altruistic. But once a social species has come into being, it can rapidly exploit and occupy new niches just by making minor adjustments in social behavior. Thus both ants and humans have conquered the world, though fortunately at different scales.

… Tribalism seems to be the default mode of human political organization. It can be highly effective: The world’s largest land empire, that of the Mongols, was a tribal organization. But tribalism is hard to abandon, again suggesting that an evolutionary change may be required.

The various races have evolved along substantially parallel paths, but because they have done so independently, it’s not surprising that they have made these two pivotal transitions in social structure at somewhat different times. Caucasians were the first to establish settled communities, some 15,000 years ago, followed by East Asians and Africans. China, which developed the first modern state, shed tribalism two millennia ago, Europe did so only a thousand years ago, and populations in the Middle East and Africa are in the throes of the process.

… behavioral changes in the English population between 1200 and 1800 were of pivotal economic importance. They gradually transformed a violent and undisciplined peasant population into an efficient and productive workforce. Turning up punctually for work every day and enduring eight eight hours or more of repetitive labor is far from being a natural human behavior. Hunter-gatherers do not willingly embrace such occupations, but agrarian societies from their beginning demanded the discipline to labor in the fields and to plant and harvest at the correct times. Disciplined behaviors were probably evolving gradually within the agrarian English population for many centuries before 1200, the point at which they can be documented.

Clark has uncovered a genetic mechanism through which the Malthusian economy may have wrought these changes on the English population: The rich had more surviving children than did the poor. From a study of wills made between 1585 and 1638, he finds that will makers with £9 or less to leave their heirs had, on average, just under two children. The number of heirs rose steadily with assets, such that men with more than £1,000 in their gift, who formed the wealthiest asset class, left just over four children.

The English population was fairly stable in size from 1200 to 1760, meaning that if the rich were having more children than the poor, most children of the rich had to sink in the social scale, given that there were too many of them to remain in the upper class.

Their social descent had the far-reaching genetic consequence that they carried with them inheritance for the same behaviors that had made their parents rich. The values of the upper middle class — nonviolence, literacy, thrift, and patience — were thus infused into lower economic classes and throughout society. Generation after generation, they gradually became the values of the society as a whole. This explains the steady decrease in violence and increase in literacy that Clark has documented for the English population. Moreover, the behaviors emerged gradually over several centuries, a time course more typical of an evolutionary change than a cultural change.

… In proportion to their population, Jews have made outsize contributions to Western civilization. A simple metric is that of Nobel prizes: Though Jews constitute only 0.2% of the world’s population, they won 14% of Nobel prizes in the first half of the 20th century, 29% in the second and so far 32% in the present century. There is something here that requires explanation. If Jewish success were purely cultural, such as hectoring mothers or a zeal for education, others should have been able to do as well by copying such cultural practices. It’s therefore reasonable to ask if genetic pressures in Jews’ special history may have enhanced their cognitive skills.

… the average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews is, at 110 to 115, the highest of any known ethnic group. The population geneticists Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran have calculated that, assuming a high heritability of intelligence, Ashkenazi IQ could have risen by 15 points in just 500 years. Ashkenazi Jews first appear in Europe around 900 AD, and Jewish cognitive skills may have been increasing well before then.

The emergence of high cognitive ability among the Ashkenazim, if genetically based, is of interest both in itself and as an instance of natural selection shaping a population within the very recent past.

… Civilizations may rise and fall but evolution never ceases, which is why genetics may play some role alongside the mighty force of culture in shaping the nature of human societies. History and evolution are not separate processes, with human evolution grinding to a halt some decent interval before history begins. The more that we are able to peer into the human genome, the more it seems that the two processes are delicately intertwined. _Nicholas Wade in Time

This entry was posted in Demographics, Genetics and Gene Expression and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Human Biodiversity: A Troublesome and Inconvenient Inheritance

  1. Times reader says:

    I was surprised to see Guns Germs & Steel ranks so highly on the bestseller lists where Wade’s new book is currently top in things like civilization and history etc. Presumably this is because GGS is part of the syllabus for a lot of schools? I recommend commenting on Amazon – pointing people to alternatives like “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evoution” or this book, which build on what Diamond has left out with up to date genetics.

  2. Mike Burns says:

    No mention of Neanderthal genes in the non-African genome, nor Denisovian. Still a brave book and an interesting read, if sometimes repetitive. Maybe a little editing is in order.

Comments are closed.