Tuesday, July 04, 2023

A Troublesome Inheritance, Revisited

I have posted about various theories to explain how Western Civilization surpassed others. Maybe it is time to reassess this book:
A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History is a 2014 book by Nicholas Wade, a British writer, journalist, and former science and health editor for The New York Times.[1][2][3][4] In the book, Wade argues that human evolution has been "recent, copious and regional"[5][6][7] and that this has important implications for social sciences.[8] ...

Wade writes about racial differences in economic success between Whites, Blacks, and East Asians, and offers the argument that racial differences come from genetic differences amplified by culture. In the first part of the book, Wade provides an account of human genetics research. In the second part of his book, Wade proposes that regional differences in evolution of social behavior explain many differences among different human societies around the world.[12]

The book has been widely denounced by scientists,

Wade got a lot of blawback when the book came out 9 years ago. Where does it stand now?

Most of the criticism was that Wade's theories were unproved and racially uncomfortable. So have they been disproved in 9 years?

Apparently not.

Here is one peer-reviewed published objection:

Recently, I signed a letter to the New York Times. ...

The objection to the book included its use of the population genetics literature to buttress claims for the existence of five major human races. ... The genetic differentiation of non-admixed human populations results from a serial founder effect from the out of Africa migrations, followed by the influence of isolation by distance. So it’s not surprising that continental groups are differentiable from each other. It doesn’t make them races, but according to A Troublesome Inheritance it does. ...

Its enthusiastic proponents already include some high profile white supremacists and a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

So he quibbles about a definition that is solidly backed by genetic research, and complains about some mythical grand wizard. No, there is no such wizard cited.

Here is a recent scholarly paper showing that races are real, and match common understandings:

Philosophers and biologists alike repeatedly assert that folk racial classification has no biological basis. A few representative quotes are below, but many more can be generated with ease:

• “There are no biological races, only man-made races” (Root Reference Root2000, 32).

• “The human species does not contain biological races now nor has it at any time in the past 250,000 years” (Graves Reference Graves2004, 20).

• “We know enough about race to be quite confident that races will not turn out to be significant biological kinds” (Dupré Reference Dupré, Koenig, Lee and Richardson2008, 52).

However, the goal of this paper is to debunk this common view.

Particularly, I show that ‘race’, in its current US meaning, is a rigidly designating proper name for a biologically real entity, specifically for the partition at the K = 5 level of human population structure. Since that partition is roughly coextensive with J. F. Blumenbach’s anthropological division of humankind, I call the partition ‘the Blumenbach partition’ in honor of Blumenbach.

Apparently the critics are just frightened by genetic determinism.

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