Get ready for Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance”

Nicholas Wade’s new book, A Troublesome Inheritance, drops on Amazon today. Wade, a science writer for the New York Times, has been critical of cultural anthropology in the past — and the feeling has pretty much been mutual. Inheritance is set to create a ground swell of indignation in the anthropological community because it is one of the most biologically reductionist writings to come out in years. The AAA has, to its credit, been on top of the issue and has hosted a showdown between Wade and Augustín Fuentes. Expect more coverage from us, including a couple of guest blogs, in the next couple of months.

Anthropologists of a critical bent take deep personal satisfaction in denouncing racism and reductionism wherever they find it. These days, its rare for something as blatant as Wade’s book to appear with the blessing of a major press. So… yeah. I’m guessing that it’s going to be on.

I personally prefer to use claims, reasons, and evidence to criticize authors. When books like this appear, however, its easy for passions to get inflamed and for people to make personal attacks: Jared Diamond’s comb-over is ugly, Charles Murray’s male pattern baldness makes him look like Princess Leia, etc. We also tend to make arguments of guilt from association: Madison Grant was wrong and so are you. Both of these rhetorical maneuvers don’t do justice to the uniqueness of an author’s position or engage its particulars directly — and thus are unanthropological.

As this moves forward I hope people punch above the belt. It shouldn’t be hard, since Wade is such an easy target.

Rex

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org

94 thoughts on “Get ready for Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance”

  1. Crazy anthropologist: “Race? Methinks it is an unfounded, unclear, useless concept. All concepts are traps, unless they are mathematically precise”…

    Crazy biologist: “Race? Methinks it is a distinct biological divide between clearly defined human groups, denied by the politically correct”…

    It seems to me that Crazy biologist did exist, but is now extinct, although he keeps on existing in the minds of his opponents. (Millions of people hold his opinions, obviously, but they are not educated biologists). Sadly, it also seems to me that Crazy anthropologist maybe still lingers on, although maybe on life support…

    Am I wrong here? Good riddance to both of them, at any rate. That should be our starting point.

    The concept of a “hurricane” existed long before modern meteorology defined it more thoroughly. Centuries ago, what was seen as a hurricane in one place, was possibly seen as a light storm in another. Should we therefore ditch the concept “hurricane” altogether? Or should science try to refine it, put it into context, underpin it with measurements, and also in a sense reinvent it?

    Daniel Dennett said: “There is good reductionism, and there is bad reductionism”. The biological reductionists have an immense responsibility to clearly outline the boundaries of their efforts, they must put up red flags the moment they start speculating. And they need to be open minded, and seek help from anthropologists in order to understand cultural explanations. There can be no understanding a Mozart symphony by playing the bass line only. Maybe Wade forgot that a bit, and became an easy target. Anyhow, the following quote from him bears repeating, I think, and maybe it can serve as a common ground, that is, if my hunch that the crazies are as good as extinct, is correct…;)

    “Human evolution has been recent, copious and regional”

    That is a fact. What are the implications?

  2. “Prof. Blub: Sorry but I don’t get the points you’re trying to make. My test corrects for bias based on socio-economic status and environmental influence, and should thus be a relatively clean test of the oft-made assertion that biology (i.e., “genes”) is a predictor of intelligence. Since we would be dealing with a relatively large population, evaluated statistically, I don’t think the possibility of someone suddenly becoming more (or less) intelligent overnight would be a factor.

    Does it at least account for vitamin deficits? Does it account for what people have been eating? This alone is different even at the same level of socio economic status. Does it account for how worried, stressed, happy, sad or if somebody has an identity crisis? I doubt it.

    “And while epigenetics may well be an important factor in human evolution, I don’t see it’s relevance in this situation.”

    Are you serious?

  3. “You would have to account for epigenetics too. Which will take a few generations from starting the research.”

    Why? If an admixture study of IQ holds up on its own, you don’t have to account for a more complex answer. If it doesn’t hold up, then you can look for other explanations.

    Epigenetics means environmental affects on genes that can be passed down through generations. A healthy or unhealthy prenatal environment can be passed down through generations. That is the most important environment in the development of a human beings brain. Thats how height changes on average in a population, eating good food can have an affect on your children and you grand children and so on.

    “People have been known to grow eight inches after high school, too. It’s extremely atypical.”\

    Do people grow back down 8 inches the second time they are measured and then grow back up the next time after that? Can somebodies worries and fears affect how tall that person is? Can somebody just be lazy then become shorter?. Can somebody not take the height test seriously and then become shorter or even taller by luck? Can someones education, experience in what puzzles and books they were exposed to change their height?

    “Longitudinal studies of IQ have shown it’s a highly stable characteristic.”

    That does not mean that the average IQ of a group of people including that group can’t change.

    “These conditions are so rare as to be outside the range of cognitive science. They’re hard to verify and study.”

    No but changing psychological traits by big margins is not rare. Thats millions and millions of people that change personality, change in IQ scores, change in brain structure and change in behavior. These are not rare at all.

    “There’s not the slightest reason to believe that man’s psychological traits are any more separated from evolution than his physical traits, regardless of what the superstitious Alfred Russel Wallace and the politically-motivated Stephen Jay Gould wanted you to believe.”

    Yes there is, absolutely with out even a smidgen of a doubt there is very good reason.

  4. Hey Rex can you add quotation marks on the first bit of my last comment in reply to Pincher Martin about the epigenetics part?

    This part needs to be in quotation marks like this:

    “Why? If an admixture study of IQ holds up on its own, you don’t have to account for a more complex answer. If it doesn’t hold up, then you can look for other explanations.”

    Thanks.

  5. politically-motivated Stephen Jay Gould

    As opposed to the non-politically motivated Nicholas Wade, who apparently believes he can explain the ‘rise of the West’ in genetic terms?

    Fact is, no human population will ever fit into a neat racial category. It doesn’t work like that. And while mental traits are surely subject to selection, HBDers’ arguments rest on claims of selective pressures operating decisively and perfectly on cognitive and emotional traits over the course of only a few generations. These claims are never convincing and they are never borne out by the evidence. My favourite is the claim, made by hbdchick and JayMan, that the Carolingian manorial system bred a population of docile but hard-working peasants – genetically so, of course – through selection. Quite a typical claim, and quite obviously nonsense.

  6. If you think that DNA can’t identify race, then go to one of the DNA testing services (23 and me, ancestryDNA, etc.) and you can get an ethnic origin report by race. Some services are able to resolve down to the regional level ( Scandinavia, Italy, and etc.) and the report will show which race is on what segment per chromosome. Folks researching their family tree identify common DNA segments with other researchers and are able to figure out common ancestors by looking up the ethnic group they share and following up that branch of their tree.

    This argument that race doesn’t exist or DNA can’t identify it is bogus.

  7. Bibi,

    Epigenetics means environmental affects on genes that can be passed down through generations. A healthy or unhealthy prenatal environment can be passed down through generations. That is the most important environment in the development of a human beings brain. Thats how height changes on average in a population, eating good food can have an affect on your children and you grand children and so on.

    I know what epigenetics mean, and I’m aware of the few experiments, such as the Dutch study, that have been used to support it.

    But if you have an large-scale admixture study, and the IQ-to-racial admixture is consistent across the board, then you don’t need an additional explanation for it. The genetics is sufficient. And you’re left trying to explain how an epigenetic effect would be so consistent across the board that it mirrors ancestral percentages.

    You might want to use slavery as a variable that is causing an epigenetic effect in lowering African intelligence, for example. But what if the relationship between race and IQ is still constant regardless of whether you are measuring someone of African heritage who came here because of slavery or not?

    Epigenetics is too often thrown about by those who don’t want to think about what the much better-known area of genetics is telling them. They think the field is a deus ex machina, ready to swoop in and rescue them from facing up to any harsh genetic realities they don’t want to face. But the findings in epigenetics are very recent and contingent. They shouldn’t be used to obscure what is being discovered in broad population-level science just because you don’t like the findings.

  8. Ringtail said: “This argument that race doesn’t exist or DNA can’t identify it is bogus.”

    The DNA tests to which you refer are designed to identify ancestry and no one is going to deny that every human has ancestors. Ancestry does NOT equal “race.” Obviously.

  9. Tarjie: “Should we therefore ditch the concept “hurricane” altogether?”

    No. Any more than we should ditch the concept “race,” which can be very useful when properly understood. I’m not a meteorologist but I wonder whether “hurricane” is currently considered scientifically valid, especially as used by ordinary people with no expertise. Racial stereotypes can be useful if you’re a doctor trying to identify patients who might need to be tested for sickle cell diabetes. But they are NOT useful when people make stupid claims about “negros” being lazy and shiftless, which, lets face it, your average American dearly believes. This is exactly the sort of thinking Wade argues for,despite his politically correct veneer.

  10. Mr. West,
    Could you please respond to Pincher Martin’s claim that a category does not have to be “neat” in order for it to have meaning. I think you are demanding too much when you expect a perfect, platonic category for race, rather than a statistical one (bimodal distribution in this case I think).

    I look around myself and find many many things that I can name, but the definition for which is not necessarily “neat” in the platonic sense. For example, what is a desk? My desk has a chair attached to it. Does that also make it a chair? If a tree naturally grew in the shape of a desk (however unlikely) would it be a desk? Or is it not a desk until someone uses it? I could go on and on like this, but ultimately, I still use the word “desk”, because it has statistical power (ie I can distinguish between a “desk” and a not “desk” 99.99% of the time).

  11. “But if you have an large-scale admixture study, and the IQ-to-racial admixture is consistent across the board, then you don’t need an additional explanation for it. The genetics is sufficient. And you’re left trying to explain how an epigenetic effect would be so consistent across the board that it mirrors ancestral percentages.”

    The more percentage of European the higher chance of having better prenatal and post natal environment, which are pretty much the most important stages of brain development. Better food and its affects are also passed down like I said, like with the most hereditary thing such as height, otherwise it would not increase on average like that per population.

    “You might want to use slavery as a variable that is causing an epigenetic effect in lowering African intelligence, for example. But what if the relationship between race and IQ is still constant regardless of whether you are measuring someone of African heritage who came here because of slavery or not?”

    African immigrants in USA do pretty well socially and educationally. However they are a bit selected so you can have half of your what if situation argument, for now. Heck, I’ll even agree with you completely just to make you happy. What if, sure, if there are absolutely no other possibilities then sure. Have it, its yours.

    “Epigenetics is too often thrown about by those who don’t want to think about what the much better-known area of genetics is telling them. They think the field is a deus ex machina, ready to swoop in and rescue them from facing up to any harsh genetic realities they don’t want to face. But the findings in epigenetics are very recent and contingent. They shouldn’t be used to obscure what is being discovered in broad population-level science just because you don’t like the findings.”

    All that link says is that people must not take it overboard. Which I am not doing. You are just using Ad hominem now.

    Bottom line is this, hereditary traits like height(which is the most hereditary) changes on average per population depending on nutrients and possibly other things affecting the genes and that affect being passed down. It happens very quickly sometimes in one generation(18- 25 years). IQ/brain structure is less hereditary, more plastic, can be affected by environment even more severely and its measured to change on average per population too.

    I’m not taking it any further than it should be.

  12. Bibi writes,

    Do people grow back down 8 inches the second time they are measured and then grow back up the next time after that? Can somebodies worries and fears affect how tall that person is? Can somebody just be lazy then become shorter?. Can somebody not take the height test seriously and then become shorter or even taller by luck? Can someones education, experience in what puzzles and books they were exposed to change their height?

    Do you trust the heights reported for the players in NBA? (You shouldn’t.) Do people not lie about their height? (They do.)

    The great thing about psychometrics is that every one of these questions that you think is valid and worth discussing was already dispensed with by informed psychologists many years ago. IQ’s validity as a concept has been tested and retested again and again.

    Variation in IQ scores is common. The same person taking the same IQ test will typically score about five points different.

    How common is a twenty-point difference? Not that rare, actually.

    From the source, who is a respected psychometrician at Illinois State University:

    Thus about 7% (1−0.93=0.07) of people have a difference score of 20 or more in this particular direction and about 14% have difference score of 20 or more in either direction. Thus, in this case, a difference of 20 points or more is only somewhat unusual.

    So, like I said, a twenty-point difference in an IQ test is not uncommon, just as someone growing several inches after high school is not unheard of.

    I’m using an imperfect analogy, of course. IQ can decrease just as easily as it increases; height cannot. But your original example had a person’s IQ increase by twenty points, and so I used height to show that sometimes an unusual increase can take place.

  13. I missed this earlier post by TNT.

    Pincher Martin, your red herrings (e.g. what is the good fight?) do not add intellectual substance to this discussion about Wade’s book.

    My reference to the “good fight” was clearly directed to your comment about A.J. West fighting the “good fight.” Read the top of my post and see the quote of your comment.

    Before reviewing the definition, I must mention that a senior researcher, Victor Graur, has already pointed out that the term ‘race’ predates contemporary research in genetics.

    So do the words “species,” “subspecies,” and “evolution by natural selection.” Do you plan to toss those words out of polite discourse, too?

    What is telling from your response is that the term [race] is absent. In its place we have ‘cluster of variations.’

    If you ask me to define race, I’m not going to use the word race in my response. That’s like you asking me, “What is blue?,” and I respond by saying “Anything blue.”

    Is there a valid reason to divide clusters by a given location?

    Yes, in the case of the major continental clusters, human populations did not breed nearly as much with outside populations as they did with those inside. That’s intuitive and pretty much what Darwinians believed in the nineteenth century. Geographical barriers limit breeding, and the continents were major geographical barriers.

    Does the aforementioned make us a race?

    You forget the context of the discussion. We were talking about continental clusters.

    As to your family, you refute your point before I can even get to it. You (hopefully) share no close genetic relationship with your wife. Hence, your family is not a race.

  14. Victor Grauer said, “The DNA tests to which you refer are designed to identify ancestry and no one is going to deny that every human has ancestors. Ancestry does NOT equal “race.” Obviously.”

    Yes, ancestry does not equal race. You miss my point. The DNA testing companies that test for ancestry also test for “ancestry composition”, their term for racial/ethnic mixture. The ancestry composition feature is a useful tool in identifying a common ancestor as I described in my previous post.

    For example, look at the 23-and-me site and scroll down to see where it gives “ancestry composition”.

    https://www.23andme.com/ancestry/

    23-and-me describes their ancestry composition tool.

    “Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 31 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.”

    So, 23-and-me claims that DNA can identify race/populations/ethnicity, whatever you want to call it. And, since the ancestry composition in the chromosome view has been hailed as useful in finding common ancestors especially for those of mixed race, doesn’t this support the abstract science that asserts that there is a DNA clustering for races?

    cheers

  15. Pincher, I certainly agree with you that epigenetics and other complicating factors are relevant only to studies that are poorly conceived. A test like the one I’ve proposed takes such factors into account, though that may not be obvious at first glance.

    However, you write as though you are happy to accept the results of other studies that imo are dubious to say the least. You can’t just give a bunch of African kids, ghetto kids, and Jewish kids an IQ test and then, if Jews do better, conclude it can only be because they have some sort of gene for intelligence the others lack. There are far too many factors at work in this sort of test. I realize that efforts have been made to correct for certain obvious sources of bias, but in all cases I’m aware of huge loopholes remain.

    Which is why I proposed a test that very neatly, if I may say so myself, focuses in on the central issue and leaves all other factors aside. I’ll add, by the way, that the test I’ve proposed is very likely to explode any notion that biological (or, if your prefer, “racial”) factors can predict IQ outcomes. Ghetto kids tend to do relatively poorly on IQ tests. But ghetto kids also have all sorts of other issues that affect how someone would do on any test. If you want to zero in on biological factors, then you don’t want to test ghetto kids vs. other groups of kids, you want to see how certain ghetto kids do compared to others whose ancestry is different.

    Same with Jews. To really determine whether Jewish IQ outcomes are biological rather than cultural, you want to devise a test that rules out cultural difference and focuses on biology. So again as with the ghetto kids, get a bunch of Ashkenazic Jews together and give them an IQ test. Then sort them on the basis of how “pure” their Jewish ancestry is. If biology is the deciding factor, then those with the purest Jewish ancestry should do significantly better than those with mixed ancestry. And again, I would expect to see no real difference.

    In principle, of course, intelligence might have a biological component after all, and I could be wrong. If the tests I’ve proposed are carried out and it turns out that those “African Americans” with the purest African ancestry get lower scores than those with mixed ancestry, and Jews with the purest Jewish ancestry do better than those with mixed ancestry, I’ll have no problem at all conceding that biology is indeed a factor. It’s a testable hypothesis and as a scientist I’ll be happy to accept the results of such a test, regardless of what it implies.

    What really bothers me is not the notion that intelligence is biologically determined, which is a perfectly testable hypothesis that might possibly be correct (though I doubt it) but the notion that biological determination is the equivalent of racial determination, which is a completely different matter. Biology is science, race is not.

  16. The rules here only allow me to post two comments in sequence, but I will try to eventually answer any remarks addressed to me.

    Bibi writes,

    That does not mean that the average IQ of a group of people including that group can’t change.

    Well, you were talking about an individual change earlier. Average IQs for large groups are much slower to change their relative position. But there’s been some evidence that blacks IQs in America have gone up a smudge in relation to white IQs. Not much, but some. And African IQs could clearly go up a great deal if one of these NGOs ever set its mind to making sure impoverished populations on the continent got the micronutrients they need.

    But, in general, no. Average IQ scores for large groups don’t move much. They are much more stable at the group level than they are for individuals. (And, yes, I know about the Flynn Effect. So don’t go down that line of argument unless you know what you’re talking about.)

    No but changing psychological traits by big margins is not rare. Thats millions and millions of people that change personality, change in IQ scores, change in brain structure and change in behavior. These are not rare at all.

    If you’re talking about large groups of people over short periods of time (anything less than a century), then seeing a significant change in psychological traits is extremely rare.

    Here, for example, is Francis Galton in 1873, talking about the virtues of Chinese immigrants settling Africa. In it, Galton compares the racial characteristics of Hindus, Africans, and Chinese:

    The natural capacity of the Chinaman shows itself by the success with which, notwithstanding his timidity, he competes with strangers, wherever he may reside. The Chinese emigrants possess an extraordinary instinct for political and social organization; they contrive to establish for themselves a police and internal government, and they give no trouble to their rulers so long as they are left to manage those matters by themselves. They are good-tempered, frugal, industrious, saving, commercially inclined, and extraordinarily prolific.

    The irony of this quote is that Galton wrote it at a time when China was struggling to turn back the Europeans grabbing at its coastal flanks. So you would expect Galton not to appreciate the virtues of an ethnicity unable to compete.

    Quite the contrary, however. Even when China was at its lowest ebb, Galton saw many of the same valuable traits in the Chinese that modern commentators see today.

  17. Mr West,

    As opposed to the non-politically motivated Nicholas Wade, who apparently believes he can explain the ‘rise of the West’ in genetic terms?

    Wade admits that part of his book is hypothetical and speculative. Why don’t you focus on the part of the book where the science is so settled that it’s practically “out of date.”

    I find it remarkable that you claim to have read Charles Murray’s review of Wade’s book and yet you unhesitatingly confirm Murray’s view that critics of Wade’s reporting would focus on the second half of his book at the expense of the first half, which was based on solid evidence.

    Charles Murray:

    Mr. Wade explicitly warns the reader that these latter chapters, unlike his presentation of the genetics of race, must speculate from evidence that falls far short of scientific proof. His trust in his audience is touching: “There is nothing wrong with speculation, of course, as long as its premises are made clear. And speculation is the customary way to begin the exploration of uncharted territory because it stimulates a search for the evidence that will support or refute it.”
    I fear Mr. Wade’s trust is misplaced. Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak.

    And along comes A.J. West to do exactly what Murray warned would happen.

  18. @ Pincher, the discussion doesn’t concern my or anyone else’s side comments, but rather it concerns Wade’s book. That is why your comment (and many others on this site) is a red herring. If you would stick to the topic of the thread, which I am sure you can, then we can come to discuss any pieces of evidence with reason.

    Isn’t this what you would prefer? That we, rather than sidetracking a discussion into peripheral points, deal with the substance of the arguments. Indeed, refuting a point that is peripheral to an argument is not the same as refuting the argument.

    Moving on then, the term race carries with it social baggage. More importantly, it is unclear if it is a scientifically valid term. A term like species, which is definitely scientifically valid, doesn’t cause the same problems. With any such scientifically valid term we should in principle concede that its validity rests on the fact that it describes phenomenon that exists independently of the observer. This means that someone can doubt that species (the referent of the term) exists, in the same way that some chap could doubt the chemical composition of water is H20, but it simply wouldn’t matter. Belief or doubt of its existence is irrelevant because in either case the brute facts of the world are that there are species and water is composed of H20. In principle, the referent exists and that is why the term holds its validity (also we would not water down the term species to circumscribe just about anything).

    If I understand you correctly, you stated that human populations bred, but that different groups bred with each other to differing degrees depending on whether in or out of a continent. Is that right?

    So this perspective definitely accounts for fuzzy boundaries, clines. And yes, geographic boundaries do indeed decrease the probability that entities on either side of them will breed.

    Now what does the science of population genetics show about populations in a given continent in relation to those in its fuzzy boundaries? Are groups far from the fuzzy boundaries closer to one another genetically?

    You then write:
    “You forget the context of the discussion. We were talking about continental clusters.”

    Later you claim that I refuted my own point. I suggest you review the definition you gave me–it lists geography not continents in particular. As such my example is consistent with your (Wade’s) definition. What does it say that such a small scale example fits the criteria for the macro scale

    (SIDE QUESTIONS: Pincher, are you a population geneticist or do you have, or are in the process or earning, an advanced degree in a related discipline? I ask because many others that share some of your views are not professionals. It is rare to find actual professors that make such claims)

  19. TNT,

    I’m responding directly to your points. I’m quoting your very words. I’m addressing your arguments. And those points cover aspects important to Wade’s book. I’m not sidetracking anything.

    Moving on then, the term race carries with it social baggage. More importantly, it is unclear if it is a scientifically valid term. A term like species, which is definitely scientifically valid, doesn’t cause the same problems.

    Biologists argue about the definition of a species all the time. They also argue about the definition of subspecies all the time. Here is one example of how the controversy is described:

    For many, an evolutionary theory is an explanation of the origin of “species.” But, in fact, the definition of species has long been in dispute. It is a vague and ambiguous word — a fact that most biologists would readily admit.

    So you’re wrong in assuming that “species” is some clear biological term.

    This has important policy implications, too. A type of California salamander, for example, was often portrayed as being anywhere from just one species to over twenty species. So do we have an abundance of one kind of salamander? Or do we have several species of salamanders in California that need federal protection?

    As the author of the piece I linked to states: “Thus drawing lines between species is difficult and can be controversial.”

    Or take the example of the eastern coyote.

    So you’re wrong to assume some clear-cut and uncontroversial definition of species exists. Biology is built upon many arbitrary distinctions. Race is just another such distinction.

    Now what does the science of population genetics show about populations in a given continent in relation to those in its fuzzy boundaries? Are groups far from the fuzzy boundaries closer to one another genetically?

    I think the answer to your second question depends. But obviously if a group is on the boundary, then by definition it is difficult to classify by continent. That’s why these sets are fuzzy rather than distinct. Are Ashkenazi Jews genetically West Asian or European? Are the Hazara East Asian or West Asian? Obviously, they’re both.

    But in general, as the word cluster implies, the genetic relationships of the continental races turn inward. That is, each continental group of peoples clusters together and separates itself from other continental clusters.

    The reason for this is pretty straightforward and intuitive. Once the world filled up, the people on each land mass were far more likely to breed with each other than they were with those people inhabiting other continents, and each continent had its own general environmental pressures which drove the selection of different human traits.

    Even large-scale human migrations were far more likely to take place within a continent than they were to another continent. This enhanced more continental clustering, while spreading beneficial traits around large areas.

    Now there are many, many exceptions to this rule, which is why it’s helpful to think of this as a statistical truth rather than some essential truth. And, of course, other genetic clusters exist besides those for continents.

  20. Victor,

    I disagree that giving the same tests to different people invalidates those results. If an IQ test can independently predict other phenomena regardless of what group takes the test, then it is scientifically useful.

    You can’t just give a bunch of African kids, ghetto kids, and Jewish kids an IQ test and then, if Jews do better, conclude it can only be because they have some sort of gene for intelligence the others lack.

    No one who is informed jumps to that conclusion based on one test. Rather they judge it by weighing the totality of evidence – everything from biological correlates to differing regressions to the mean.

    I realize that efforts have been made to correct for certain obvious sources of bias, but in all cases I’m aware of huge loopholes remain.

    Could you name some?

    The widespread assumption that cultural bias prevents African-Americans from doing better on the tests doesn’t hold up. African-Americans actually do better on vocabulary and other culturally-loaded tests relative to whites than they do on other subtests. There are also simple tests which are neither mathematical nor verbal, but the wide racial gap remains.

    Which is why I proposed a test that very neatly, if I may say so myself, focuses in on the central issue and leaves all other factors aside. I’ll add, by the way, that the test I’ve proposed is very likely to explode any notion that biological (or, if your prefer, “racial”) factors can predict IQ outcomes.

    I would put this differently. I would not say racial factors predict IQ scores. Rather, I would say that there is reason to believe that IQ has a large heritable component and that a large part of the differences between the various races are in part genetic. This is not just true of blacks and whites, but East Asians, Ashkenazi Jews, and Hispanic mestizos.

    Ghetto kids tend to do relatively poorly on IQ tests. But ghetto kids also have all sorts of other issues that affect how someone would do on any test.

    It’s not just ghetto kids who do poorly on the tests. The wealthiest segment of black America tests exactly the same as whites kids in poverty.

    For example, look at this remarkable table on SAT performance. Black kids from families earning more than $200,000 test only three points higher than white kids from families earning less than $20,000. They’re essentially the same.

    Social economic status does not explain the gap. It is huge and persistent.

    I’ll post more later about your comments on Jewish intelligence.

  21. “For example, look at this remarkable table on SAT performance. Black kids from families earning more than $200,000 test only three points higher than white kids from families earning less than $20,000. They’re essentially the same.

    Social economic status does not explain the gap. It is huge and persistent.”

    It explains part of the gap. One environmental condition that can affect education makes a difference to the gap, thats what that data shows. Thats not evidence for you, its against you.

    Thats not even by wealth, its by income which is different.

  22. To add to my previous comment. That SAT score and income study is not measuring the wealthiest group of African Americans. Its based off income.

    This statement here by you:
    “The wealthiest segment of black America tests exactly the same as whites kids in poverty.” Is not what your “evidence” is measuring.

    Its measuring income which is vastly different depending on Jobs and when you get the job. You can earn $20 000 but have way more wealth especially if its been passed down than somebody who earns $200 000.

  23. Pincher, I realize very well that IQ has been studied in a variety of ways and that “black” populations tend to come up short across the board. It does therefore seem, as Wade and so many others have argued, that the difference must be due to evolutionary factors and is thus biological. But I see a serious problem with that sort of explanation.

    Evolutionary adaptation always begins with a mutation in one single organism’s genome and is therefore always going to have a local impact, initially. The relevant genes spread as the organism’s lineage spreads, through population expansion, migration, conquest, whatever. For such an adaptation to be widespread among an entire “racial” group it would have to have started very early in the history of that group. In fact it would have to have started either at the same time as the other features that make the group “racially” distinctive or else have been established prior to that era. Otherwise it would be effective only locally, not globally within the entire “race.”

    Lactose tolerance is a good example of that. As a relatively recent development, we see it in various locations, both in Europe and Africa, and clearly it spread with the migration of herding people. But it is clearly not a population-wide adaptation, either in Europe or Africa. Maybe someday it will be, but presently, no.

    Now it’s important to understand that, according to the great majority of pop. geneticists, the ancestry of everyone now alive began in Africa. Thus we are all descended from the same ancestral group that Africans are descended from. So we all started from the same place, genetically. Thus, to account for the difference we now see, or think we see, the alleged gene for intelligence would have to be due to a post-Out of Africa adaptation. Now Asia is thought to have been settled by migrants from Africa roughly 80,000 to 60,000 years ago, with Europe being settled roughly 20,000 years later. Thus, for an “intelligence gene” to have arisen and spread among both Europeans and Asians, it would have to have arisen among that group of migrants or their early descendants. And that means a whole lot of folks would now be carrying that gene, including all the hunter-gatherer groups in South Asia, SE Asia, Melanesia, the Philippines, Siberia, and all the Amerindian tribal groups, since all are descendants of the same Out of Africa migrants.

    If the gene arose due to a later phase of evolution, as Wade apparently argues, then we would have to ask ourselves where. And how could such a gene have spread so widely among literally all Europeans and Asians AFTER these populations (or, if you prefer, races) had already been established in their geographical regions. By what mechanism could such a genetic dissemination have taken place?

    Which is why I’m skeptical of the way these IQ test findings have been interpreted, and strongly suspect that other factors are involved. They might not have anything to do with wealth or income, but I find it difficult if not impossible to believe they could have a genetic basis. Unless you want to argue that all the various hunter gatherer peoples outside of Africa would do as well as Chinese and Europeans on such tests.

  24. @ Pincher,

    I appreciate the informative response. And I stand corrected with respect to the species concept.

    The link below also discusses some variants of the species concept–biological species, recognition species, phenetic species, and phylogenetic species). Each of these concepts, of course, comes with their positives and negatives when applied to the particular organisms:

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/VADefiningSpecies.shtml

    We can see that proponents of each of the species concept will draw the line differently. In fact, some instances drawing the line is pretty clear cut (dogs & cats), but in others it is not (hooded crows and carrion crows).

    We can both agree, however, that the facts of the world are what poses problems to making such distinctions. We are not trying to arbitrarily tag a term onto some organism but rather we want to ensure that the term not only applies to a given organism but does so systematically with other similar organisms in a manner consistent with scientific knowledge. This of course doesn’t rule out debates about theoretical accounts of phenomena nor how to go about in the process.

    The rest of your comment I do not find objectionable. It is consonant with other accounts of human populations and migrations that I have read in the past, in an bio-anthropological course on human biological variation. Someone more well read, with research expertise, than myself might contribute something else, but I can’t other than agreeing with your response.

    Cheers

  25. Victor,

    I’m going to return to your earlier post about Jewish intelligence before moving on.

    You write:

    To really determine whether Jewish IQ outcomes are biological rather than cultural, you want to devise a test that rules out cultural difference and focuses on biology. So again as with the ghetto kids, get a bunch of Ashkenazic Jews together and give them an IQ test. Then sort them on the basis of how “pure” their Jewish ancestry is. If biology is the deciding factor, then those with the purest Jewish ancestry should do significantly better than those with mixed ancestry. And again, I would expect to see no real difference.

    The reason why an admixture test won’t work for determining Ashkenazi intelligence is because we have no idea what “purity” means for a recently-admixed population like the European Jews. We know that most Ashkenazis are genetically around a 50 percent/50 percent mix of some Middle Eastern population and a European (probably Roman) population. But is it closer to 60/40? Or 65/35? We just don’t know.

    More importantly, the recent intellectual advantage for the Ashkenazim may have been selected for over the last thousand years when the Jews were already an admixed population. So an admixture test won’t work with them.

    That doesn’t mean biology isn’t the deciding factor in the Ashkenazi IQ advantage. I’m pretty sure it is. But the biological advantage evolved far too recently for an admixture test to work, whereas many observers believe the opposite is true of the continental populations.

    But there is some validity to your general point. Will Jews lose their IQ advantage if they continue to marry outside their group? The answer is almost certainly yes. Even with assortative mating (i.e., smart Jews are more likely to marry smart gentiles than dumb gentiles), regression to the mean will continue to erode any biological advantage the Askenazi built up over the last thousand years or so. But it will probably take a few generations of outbreeding to bring Jewish IQs back in line with the gentile mean.

    What really bothers me is not the notion that intelligence is biologically determined, which is a perfectly testable hypothesis that might possibly be correct (though I doubt it) but the notion that biological determination is the equivalent of racial determination, which is a completely different matter. Biology is science, race is not.

    To me, this is a non sequitur Either the science of racial differences is true or not. If it’s not true, dump it. If it is true, then scientists should learn to live with it.

  26. Thanks Pincher. You make some pretty good points. But I’ll warn you: I’m an Ashkenazic Jew – and I’m intelligent. So be warned!

    “More importantly, the recent intellectual advantage for the Ashkenazim may have been selected for over the last thousand years when the Jews were already an admixed population. So an admixture test won’t work with them.”

    Well, I see no reason why we can’t discount all the historical admixture and judge on the basis of recent admixture. It could be as simple as: “Are both your parents biologically Jewish or only one?”

    “Either the science of racial differences is true or not. If it’s not true, dump it. If it is true, then scientists should learn to live with it.”

    My point was that we don’t need race to evaluate theories that hinge on biological determination. If the biological evolution of Ashkenazim has granted them superior intelligent it matters not whether race is a scientific concept or not. You can substitute “racial determination” for “biological determination” if you like, but that doesn’t make the notion of race scientific.

  27. Bibi writes:

    It explains part of the gap. One environmental condition that can affect education makes a difference to the gap, thats what that data shows. Thats not evidence for you, its against you.

    When you control for race, SES (socioeconomic status) correlates pretty well with test scores. But when you’re looking to explain the racial gap, SES means little to nothing.

    Keep in mind, too, that these scores do not control for ancestry. They are based on a dichotomous racial self-identification: you’re either black or white. Anecdotal information suggests that most higher-income blacks are more white than the typical African-American who has about 20 percent European ancestry. Barack Obama’s mother was white. The famous black professor Henry Gates is half-Irish. Julian Bond and Andrew Young were obviously heavily white. The old head of the NAACP, Walter White, was more than half white. The list goes on and on.

    Thats not even by wealth, its by income which is different.

    You’re right about this. I was sloppy in my original phrasing. I should have been more precise. Nevertheless, SES correlates pretty well with income.

  28. Victor,

    Well, I see no reason why we can’t discount all the historical admixture and judge on the basis of recent admixture. It could be as simple as: “Are both your parents biologically Jewish or only one?”

    True. But assortative mating will mask some of the regression to the mean.

    Allow me to illustrate. If a Jewish man with an IQ of 115 (about average for an Ashkenazi) goes to college and falls in love a gentile girl with an IQ of 110, their offspring’s IQ won’t be noticeably different from the parents’ average IQ.

    The parental midpoint in the above example is an IQ score of 112.5. (Just add the two scores together and divide by two.)

    Let’s assume a Jewish mean of 115 and a white gentile mean of 100. (That Jewish estimate for the mean is probably a little high, but let’s assume it for this exercise.) That makes the parental midpoint for the regression to the mean 107.5 (115 + 100 / 2).

    And let’s assume a heritability for IQ of 0.5.

    So what will be the expected IQ for the offspring this mixed marriage? Well, 107.5 + 0.5 * 5 = 110

    Now let’s do the same exercise and assume two Jewish spouses. A Jewish man with a 115 IQ goes to school and falls in love with a Jewish woman with an IQ of 105. The parental midpoint for the IQ in this match is 110, which is lower than in our previous mixed marriage because the Jewish woman’s IQ is slightly lower than the gentile woman’s.

    However, the parental midpoint for regression to the mean is 115, which is higher than in our previous example. That’s because the Jewish woman’s regression should, like her spouse’s, increase towards 115, not decrease towards the gentile mean of 100.

    So what is the expected IQ for the offspring of this Jewish marriage? 115 + 0.5 / 5 = 115.1

    So even though the Jewish man married a smarter woman in the first example, his offspring’s IQ fell back further because of a regression to a different mean.

    Mixed Jewish/Gentile marriage = 110 IQ

    Jewish marriage with one Jewish spouse of below-average IQ = 115 IQ

    Keep in mind that there is a lot of potential noise surrounding these examples. If you have a large enough sample to study, however, these estimates should be close to the average if our heritability figure for IQ is accurate.

    As you can see from the examples above, the difference is not dramatic. I haven’t done the work, but I’m guessing it would take at least a few generations of intermarriage for the IQ scores of the offspring of Ashkenazi mixed marriages to blend in with the surrounding gentiles. And by that time, Jews will most likely have long ago forgot they were even distinctive.

    My point was that we don’t need race to evaluate theories that hinge on biological determination.

    Sure you do. Ashkenazis are distinctive because they practiced endogamy and somehow selected for intelligence. If they had failed to do either of those things, they would not be smart today.

    Ashkenazis are a mixed population only when you consider their ancient genetic heritage, but they are a very distinctive and unique genetic cluster when you consider their recent breeding.

  29. Pincher Martin,

    Great to see someone making all the relevant arguments from my “side”! Thing is, most people who ascribe to HBD don’t know all the relevant reading, so they make us look rather bad. So to help it, would you cite the most relevant sources for our side so that readers who are yet on the fence can have a look? So far, I can identify you making use of NHAI (Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence) amongst others. Would like to know the rest!

  30. Pincher, I think you could get a meaningful result if you went back just one more generation to consider grandparents. You’d then have six ancestral genomes to work with rather than only two. Most people can recall the ancestry of their grandparents. I know that all my grandparents were of Jewish origin. And if one of them had not been Jewish I’m sure I’d know about that also. It’s also possible to assess relatively recent ancestry from DNA, as I understand it.

    As far as race is concerned, I find your response very revealing. You make the same mistake Wade makes. You assume ahead of time that race is meaningful biologically and make your deductions on that basis — so naturally race is going to come out the other end, as far as you’re concerned. Garbage in garbage out, as the saying goes. We do NOT need the concept of race to determine that “Ashkenazis are distinctive because they practiced endogamy and somehow selected for intelligence.” You seem to think that any biologically distinctive group is a race. Or that the biological distinctiveness of ANY group of related individuals proves that race is meaningful scientifically. The only basis for such a conclusion is that you have already accepted race as a given beforehand.

  31. Scott,

    A comprehensive bibliography would be too laborious and, I suspect, too tedious and dull for most readers. I’m happy, however, to support any specific claims in my remarks that you (or any others) have questions about.

    You’re correct that most of my arguments about Ashkenazi intelligence come from Cochran, Hardy and Harpending’s work. Wade was the first major reporter to introduce that work to the public, and Steven Pinker gave a wonderful public lecture about it to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. If you haven’t seen Pinker’s lecture, I highly recommend it.

  32. Victor,

    Pincher, I think you could get a meaningful result if you went back just one more generation to consider grandparents. You’d then have six ancestral genomes to work with rather than only two.

    A detailed family pedigree would be more informative about the likely traits of any particular Jewish individual’s offspring – certainly more than a simple regression exercise – but it wouldn’t be as informative about the kind of offspring that random-selectedly individuals in the Jewish population would likely produce.

    Remember, my exercise was designed not to help any particular individual trace out his pedigree and make a happy marriage, but to illustrate the effect on breeding between mixed populations with different IQ means and compare it to the product of an unmixed marriage.

    The answer is that the effect wasn’t huge in one generation, so long as you assume assortative mating. No Alexander Portnoys lusting after brainless shiksas. But over time, if the mixed Jewish/gentile matches continued over several generations, the Jewish intelligence would begin to blend in with the lower gentile mean.

    You assume ahead of time that race is meaningful biologically and make your deductions on that basis — so naturally race is going to come out the other end, as far as you’re concerned. Garbage in garbage out, as the saying goes. We do NOT need the concept of race to determine that “Ashkenazis are distinctive because they practiced endogamy and somehow selected for intelligence.”

    The only thing I assumed was that Jews have a persistent, higher IQ mean. Jewish performance on IQ tests and Jewish achievement since the nineteenth century is enough to establish that.

    But once you assume Jews have a different average IQ which has persisted over time, and you know something about the heritability of IQ, then you must assume Jews are naturally smarter than gentiles. You can come to no other conclusion.

    Do the genetics support that Jews have practiced endogamy over the last millennia? Yes, they do. They form a distinctive genetic cluster within Europe. Do Ashkenazi Jews have higher IQs than other Jewish groups? Indeed, they do. Do Ashkenazi suffer from genetic disorders which are related to the brain? Quite a few actually.

    Cultural differences can’t explain that. Only biology and race can explain it.

    You seem to think that any biologically distinctive group is a race.

    If you prefer, call it an ethnicity with a recent, common genetic heritage. Same difference.

    The only basis for such a conclusion is that you have already accepted race as a given beforehand.

    No, I have not. Ashkenazi DNA didn’t have to be distinctive. Yet it is. The Ashkenazim didn’t have to suffer from genetic disorders. Yet they do.

    Episcopalians and atheists also have high IQs in some surveys, and I don’t call either one of them a race.

  33. Do proponents of the genetic existence of race believe that humanity is polytipic as opposed to monotypic?

  34. Pincher, I’m sorry but I can’t follow your argument re my IQ test proposal, it just makes no sense to me. If in fact Ashkenazi Jews (AJ) have something in their genes that causes them to do better than anyone else on IQ tests, then statistically those with the purest AJ heritage will tend to do better, overall, than those from mixed marriages, or with non AJ grandparents. This has nothing to do with all the many generations of AJs and the varying degrees of admixture in the past, because the theory in question pertains to contemporary AJ’s, not the history of the “race.”

    “Cultural differences can’t explain that. Only biology and race can explain it.”

    Interesting. What is added to the meaning of the above by the words “and race”? Biology should be enough, no? The whole point of the debate is over the validity of the concept of race, not biology. So to make your point you need to demonstrate what it is about “race” that distinguishes from all the various biological groupings done by geneticists. You can’t just insist that they are the same because obviously they are not.

  35. Victor,

    You know, I suppose you might be able to make that kind of experiment if it’s designed right.

    When you made this point earlier, I was still thinking along the lines of continental admixtures. Our previous discussion focused on continental clusters, and since Jews are an admixed group of a West Asian and European provenance, my immediate thought when you brought up this idea was that a little additional European ancestry – the most likely group that Ashkenazis would mix with – wouldn’t be as easy to tease out because the population in question already has quite a bit of European ancestry and has been living among other European populations for the last two millennia.

    But now that I’ve thought about it a little longer, perhaps I’m wrong. The question would certainly be worth looking into. It has to be more difficult to do than the more straightforward black/white admixture study, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

    Interesting. What is added to the meaning of the above by the words “and race”? Biology should be enough, no?

    Well, you have to identify distinct groups of people by their DNA in order to compare them. And assuming you can identify a large group of related people by its DNA….

    But I certainly understand if the word “race” applied to the Jews makes you uncomfortable. So call it an ethnicity or population group if you like.

  36. Tint,

    Do proponents of the genetic existence of race believe that humanity is polytipic as opposed to monotypic?

    Why not both?

  37. Pincher,

    You tell me why the response to my question might be one, the other, or both. I am sincerely interested to know.

    Many of the genetics facts, as well as the general discussion of evolution, are not unknown to myself, most bio-anthropologists, and I dare say other four-field anthropologists. And yes, they do raise many questions. For instance, forensic anthropologists (in the US) can determine with a high degree of accuracy whether or not human remains would have been categorized as a certain race. And then we have AIMs, which enough are used, provide highly accurate results. This type of information is truly exciting when discussing human evolution.

    I would like to know switch gears a bit in the form of a general reading suggestion. Let’s see who among us is familiar with the literature on the general topic of human evolution.

    There are many books dealing in some ways with human biological variation, some that come to mind have been written by Loring Brace and Jonathan M. Marks. I would like to recommend Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction written by Professor Milford Wolpoff. In this book, Wolpoff attempts to explain human evolution through the multiregional model instead of the more popular “Eve” model.

    It will be interesting to see what other readers interested in our discussion on speciation, subspecies (race), and human biological variation, and general biology think about Wolpoff’s argument and evidence.

    Cheers everyone.

  38. The software seems to have choked on my last comment, probably because it’s too long. So this time I’ll break it up. Please forgive me if this results in a duplication.

    TNT, I haven’t read that particular book, but I’m familiar with Wolpoff’s viewpoint, and it is definitely worth considering in relation to our current discussion. He is indeed a multiregionalist, but his view of multiregionalism has altered over the years, in response to the genetic findings.

    It’s important to realize that the Recent Out of Africa (OOA) model is both new and truly revolutionary. Prior to its introduction in the 80’s or 90’s, I’d say many anthropologists accepted some form of multiregionalism (MR), as it seemed the only possible explanation of human evolution. For one thing, it provided a convenient explanation for racial differences: Europeans were descended from Neanderthals, Asians from Asiatic Homo Erectus populations, and Africans from African Homo Erectus and other archaic African species. All three strains converged at some point to homo sapiens status, but retained their racial distinctions based on the characteristics of their archaic forbears. As I understand it, Wolpoff initially accepted this view, and worked hard to find supporting evidence for it through an analysis of human fossil remains. He believed and still believes he can demonstrate strong phenotypical continuities from Erectus skulls to fully modern homo sapiens skulls in Eastern Asia.

    (continued in next comment)

  39. Don’t know what’s going on, but here is my third and final installment:

    In response to this new development, Wolpoff modified his theory, so that the three original archaic populations intermingled over millions of years through continual migrations, intermixing their genes and cultural traits in just the right manner to replicate the same genetic results now thought to support the Out of Africa model. For Wolpoff and supporters such as John Hawkes, the same genetic evidence can be seen as evidence for multiregionalism after all, if you are willing to accept an awful lot complexity and tweaking and special pleading — Occam be damned.

    Ironically, the new version of MR is no longer compatible with the clean racial divisions so neatly explained by the earlier one. So if the three archaic human groups did in fact intermingle to such a degree that their identity has become lost in the genetic jumble, then the theory would seem no longer compatible with the notion of a clear division between races after all. At the very least the new version of MR now embraced by Wolpoff considerably weakens the notion of race as a scientific explanation of biodiversity.

  40. TNT,

    I generally find debates over classifications uninteresting and more about philosophical and semantic distinctions than scientific distinctions.

    But If pressed I would say that the most interesting population distinctions are polytypic instead of monotypic. Consider the difference between the races in this photo. Aren’t they far more apparent, interesting, and meaningful than considering the real differences between, say, the Finns and the Irish?

    That’s not to say the Finns and Irish don’t have a lot of interesting and real biological differences between them, but they need to be studied to be drawn out, whereas the differences between Congo pygmies and even their Bantu neighbors are far more readily obvious to even an uninterested observer.

    So when you ask if races are polytypic as opposed to monotypic, I think the answer is both. In some cases, there are sharp breaks between races; in others cases, the differences blend imperceptibly into one another.

  41. I asked if proponents of the genetic existence of race believe HUMANITY is polytypic or monotypic…

    Your answer, which already assumes race or subspecies, formally presuposes the polytypic option.

    As far as I know the two terms are scientific, meaning we scientists use them for certain purposes when accounting for biological organisms.

  42. TNT,

    As far as I know the two terms are scientific, meaning we scientists use them for certain purposes when accounting for biological organisms.

    I’ve already pointed out to you that wasn’t always true even for the word “species,” and you still believe it’s true for far more obscure terminology like “polytypic” and “monotypic”?

    You’re expecting a level of semantic precision and consistency that does not exist in the real world.

    You want a good example of the lack of clarity involved discussion of race? Read this attempt by a couple of young HBDers to make sense of it as they seek to make their way to a definition of race.

    In particular, read the section IV-B, titled “Human Biological Races and Scientific Consensus,” and the section IV-G, titled “HHR and subspecies.”

    The first section has a series of surveys of anthropologists about whether race exists or not. As you can see, the poll results vary depending on the time and who was asked. But across all the surveys, nearly 40 percent of the anthropologists surveyed agreed that race was biological, and just over 50 percent said that race was not biological.

    That is then followed up by this poll of why the AAA critics of the bio;logical definition of race disagree with the concept.

    Read the authors’ wry comment afterwards.

  43. “I’ve already pointed out to you that wasn’t always true even for the word “species,” and you still believe it’s true for far more obscure terminology like “polytypic” and “monotypic”?

    You’re expecting a level of semantic precision and consistency that does not exist in the real world.”

    I do not follow your comment about semantic precision and consistency.

    Scientists (more precisely Zoologists) indeed do use both terms. This is independent of whether you find it obscure. It is part of science.

    My discussion about scientific terminology has attempted to describe how scientists fashion such terms as means of describing the world itself, as this is what we scientists are attempting to explain. As I previously mentioned the world either validates or invalidates the terms, which is not a straightforward matter as some terms work good in some instances and not others. This, however, does not negate that we scientists strive for accounts that explain the phenomena, meaning that it is the case and not a nice sounding explanation that isn’t the case.

    Our explanations make sense of the facts (many of which are coming from different lines of evidence) and as new facts are uncovered, or new methods devised, then we either modify our explanations or dump them.

    If certain terms as applied to organisms are then problematic given other organisms it isn’t that it is just left at that. It simply means that there is more we need to understand in order to make sense of the situation. This means that the actual stuff of the world is the ultimate arbitrater, and our ability to examine, analyze, and predict this stuff is what gets us closer to understanding it.

    In a side note, I’m sure you are aware that some of the earliest researchers on human biological variation were anthropologists. In fact, to this day it remains an area of research within the biological, and archaeological, subfield. And yes, in the past many anthropologists accepted a biological basis for race. This is far from a novel breakthrough. The question remains given what we know now about the human species based on different lines of evidence (biological, paleoarchaeological, genetic..) what can be said? What are the theoretical accounts? Pros and cons to each account?

    This is where I truly recommend the aforementioned book… It is one perspective, but it might present itself favorably or at the very least give you something to ponder.

  44. TNT,

    My apologies. I misread your initial comment. I thought you were asking if most people who identified races as genetically separate thought of them as subspecies (i.e., polytypic) or gradual clines (i.e., monotypic). Thus my answer was both.

    To answer your question again – I don’t know what most “proponents of the genetic existence of race believe,” but I suspect polytypic is the more commonly-held view.

  45. Ok, instead of wading through some endless text that purports to present “all sides,” as though this were some sort of trial or some vote had to be taken, let me make it easy for everyone.

    Geneticist Bryan Sykes, author of “The Seven Daughters of Eve,” used mtDNA to identify seven European-based haplogroups he referred to as “clans,” because each person whose DNA fell into one of these haplogroups shared a common female ancestor with everyone else in the same haplogroup. He describes this research in his later book, “Saxons, Vikings and Celts,” on pp. 102-107. The seven were labeled H, T, J, X, V, K and U. According to Sykes, “Over 95% of native Europeans are in one of the seven maternal clans.” The ages of these clans were estimated as ranging roughly between 45,000 ya to 10,000 ya, the estimated date of the period during which each clan “matriarch” was thought to have lived.

    He then attempted to determine where each of these “matriarchs” had lived. Using a sampling of haplotypes from all regions of Europe, he was able to determine, for example, that haplogroup V (he named it Velda) “reaches its highest frequency in two places — northern Spain and among the Saami of northern Scandinavia.” Since V “has accumulated far more extra mutations in Spain than in Lapland,” he tentatively decided to place its point of origin in northern Spain, roughly 17,000 ya.

    Now for some questions: first, do you think Sykes used the term “clan” instead of “race” only because he was afraid he might lose his funding? If that were true, then according to his research there must be at least seven different races in Europe. But according to Wade, Europe is the home of a singe race, the Caucasians. Which is it? Also, is it possible to claim as a single “race” a population centered in both northern Spain and Lapland? Finally, what about the paternal side of the DNA picture? Can we assume this would even roughly match the maternal side or must we think in terms of maternally based “races” and paternally based “races”? Or is there some other way of digging down into European DNA to sort the population into races (or if you prefer sub-races) by some other means?

  46. On the Eupedia website (http://www.eupedia.com/europe/origins_haplogroups_europe.shtml), we find a breakdown of European mtDNA haplogroups from a somewhat different perspective. (This one was last updated in 2013, so I’m assuming it’s more up to date than Sykes’ findings.) If you click on the link for haplogroups H&V, you’ll find the following summary:

    “H1, H3 and V are the most common subclades of HV in Western Europe. H1 peaks in Norway (30% of the population) and Iberia (18 to 25%), and is also high among the Sardinians, Finns and Estonians (16%), as well as Western and Central European in general (10 to 12%) and North-West Africans (10 to 20%). H3 is commonest in Portugal (12%), Sardinia (11%), Galicia (10%), the Basque country (10%), Ireland (6%), Norway (6%), Hungary (6%) and southwestern France (5%). Haplogroup V reaches its highest frequency in northern Scandinavia (40% of the Sami), northern Spain, the Netherlands (8%), Sardinia, the Croatian islands and the Maghreb. It is likely that H1, H3 and V, along with haplogroup U5, were the main haplogroups of Western European hunter-gatherers living in the Franco-Cantabrian refuge during the last Ice Age, and repopulated much of Central and Northern Europe from 15,000 years ago.”

    Let’s remind ourselves that for each of these haplogroups a common female ancestor can be identified, making all members of each haplogroup related through common ancestry. Which sounds like a definition of race, no? But take another look at the distributions: H1 peaks in Norway and Iberia, extending also to Sardinia, Finland and Estonia, as well as Western and Central Europe and North-West Africa. Does this really look like a race to you? And our friend Haplogroup V turns out to be found in fully 40% of the Sami, which many would probably want to identify as a separate race. They certainly look very different from most other Europeans.

    So, I ask you: how is it possible to claim that genetic results such as these are consistent with the traditional view of race? And by what definition of race, other than the definition of the haplogroups themselves, could each of these lineages be regarded as “racially” distinct? And once again, how do the male lineages for exactly the same European populations contribute to the “racial” picture?

    Does anyone really need more evidence than this?

  47. Wolpoff’s book, which barely mentions genetics, dates back to 1997. Brian Sykes’ first book dates back to 2001.

    Population genetics is a fast-moving field. If you take a year off, you’re going to miss a lot of ground-breaking research. Several reviewers who are sympathetic to Wade’s aims have pointed out that even his book is dated in some areas, and he published it this year.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the next five years completely revolutionizes our way of thinking about many population groups that we currently think we know a lot about. Old books are just not the way to go, unless you’re studying the history of race as an idea.

    But if we’re going to plug old books, then I recommend Vincent Sarich’s Race: The Reality of Human Differences

  48. It is true that certain developments within a field of study can render an older books dated. It is just as true that the opposite can occur. Wolpoff’s multiregional account’s view of gene flow between humans and neantherthals has been verified.

    What is the strength of such an approach? Simply that it builds off off various lines of evidence.

    And I assume that by “old books are not the way to go” you take these models to be static. Even ole Victor pointed out that some of Wolpoff’S ideas have changed. This is expected. That theories get modified by evidence is how science should work.

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