Even scientists have to face the truth about race

Charles F. Murray- a scholar who is routinely, but in my opinion incorrectly, classified as a libertarian- wrote up a review of an interesting new book that promises to seriously shake up our understanding of race:
The orthodoxy's equivalent of the Nicene Creed has two scientific tenets. The first, promulgated by geneticist Richard Lewontin in "The Apportionment of Human Diversity" (1972), is that the races are so close to genetically identical that "racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance." The second, popularized by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, is that human evolution in everything but cosmetic differences stopped before humans left Africa, meaning that "human equality is a contingent fact of history," as he put it in an essay of that title in 1984. 
Since the sequencing of the human genome in 2003, what is known by geneticists has increasingly diverged from this orthodoxy, even as social scientists and the mainstream press have steadfastly ignored the new research. Nicholas Wade, for more than 20 years a highly regarded science writer at the New York Times, has written a book that pulls back the curtain[...] 
The title gives fair warning: "A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History." At the heart of the book, stated quietly but with command of the technical literature, is a bombshell. It is now known with a high level of scientific confidence that both tenets of the orthodoxy are wrong. 
Mr. Lewontin turns out to have been mistaken on several counts, but the most obvious is this: If he had been right, then genetic variations among humans would not naturally sort people into races and ethnicities. But, as Mr. Wade reports, that's exactly what happens. A computer given a random sampling of bits of DNA that are known to vary among humans—from among the millions of them—will cluster them into groups that correspond to the self-identified race or ethnicity of the subjects. This is not because the software assigns the computer that objective but because those are the clusters that provide the best statistical fit [...]
Stephen Jay Gould's assurance that significant evolution had stopped before humans left Africa has also proved to be wrong—not surprisingly, since it was so counterintuitive to begin with. Humans who left Africa moved into environments that introduced radically new selection pressures, such as lethally cold temperatures. Surely, one would think, important evolutionary adaptations followed. Modern genetic methods for tracking adaptations have established that they did. A 2009 appraisal of the available genome-wide scans estimated that 14% of the genome has been under the pressure of natural selection during the past 30,000 years, long after humans left Africa. The genes under selection include a wide variety of biological traits affecting everything from bone structure and diet to aspects of the brain and nervous system involving cognition and sensory perception. 
The question, then, is whether the sets of genes under selection have varied across races, to which the answer is a clear yes. To date, studies of Caucasians, Asians and sub-Saharan Africans have found that of the hundreds of genetic regions under selection, about 75% to 80% are under selection in only one race. We also know that the genes in these regions affect more than cosmetic variations in appearance. Some of them involve brain function, which in turn could be implicated in a cascade of effects. "What these genes do within the brain is largely unknown," Mr. Wade writes. "But the findings establish the obvious truth that brain genes do not lie in some special category exempt from natural selection. They are as much under evolutionary pressure as any other category of gene." [...]
As the story is untangled, it will also become obvious how inappropriate it is to talk in terms of the "inferiority" or "superiority" of groups. [Didact: I disagree here, for reasons that will soon be explained.] Consider, for example, the Big Five personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. What are the ideal points on these continua? They will differ depending on whether you're looking for the paragon of, say, a parent or an entrepreneur. And the Big Five only begin to tap the dozens of ways in which human traits express themselves. Individual human beings are complicated bundles of talents, proclivities, strengths and flaws that interact to produce unexpected and even internally contradictory results. The statistical tendencies (and they will be only tendencies) that differentiate groups of humans will be just as impossible to add up as the qualities of an individual. Vive les diffĂ©rences. [,,,]
After laying out the technical aspects of race and genetics, 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.
This is the sort of book that most right-thinking scientists and writers would not even dream of writing, let alone publishing. It is crucial, however, that such dissent is heard, because it puts into concrete and scientific terms the facts of life that we observe all around us on a daily basis. I have not yet read Mr. Wade's book, but based on the fact that Charles F. Murray- a scholar for whom I have considerable respect, after having read his book Losing Ground last year- endorses it, I would say that it should be well worth a read.

There are a couple of major problems with Mr. Wade's argument against judging various races as "inferior" or "superior", by the way. The validity of the judgement depends on the metric used for the judging. To put it simply, let us consider which races have been successful at building and maintaining civilisations; which races have proven successful at advancing the body of available scientific knowledge; which races have consistently outperformed their competitors in terms of economic and sociopolitical success.

If you were to measure the achievements of various races by such metrics, several patterns immediately become very obvious and very clear.

First, Asians, Caucasians, and Jews routinely outperform everyone else in all of these metrics. Under ancient Chinese hegemony, human knowledge and scientific prowess advanced at a rate unseen until the Renaissance. Under first the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Byzantines, and finally the Christian West, human knowledge moved forward, albeit haphazardly at times. And as Mr. Wade points out, the Jews consistently show the greatest degree of outperformance in terms of intelligence, throughout their entire 6,000-year history.

Second, the Islamic world, and the African and Native American races, have also just as conspicuously underperformed. The Native Americans and other aboriginal races may well have lacked the competitive drive and extreme pressures that drove Western Europe to develop as rapidly as it did, but Islam did not lack these things- and yet the Islamic world essentially stagnated after each of its first two rapid expansions. I have outlined the reasons for this before- Islam, as an ideology, is essentially an Arabic tribal view of politics and human interactions, and as such is very poorly equipped to deal with anything that falls outside of that very narrow, very racially centred view of the world.

As for blacks, well, all you have to do is look at what black Africa has done with itself in the last 70 years. Or better yet, just look at Detroit- a city that is now over 70% black in most areas, and 90% black in the most blighted urban areas- and you will quickly see that, for whatever reason, they cannot maintain civilisation, let alone build it. If they could, why is sub-Saharan Africa so routinely blighted by sickness and famine, in an era when famine is now essentially a man-made disaster? If they could, why is Detroit not a paradise on Earth, instead of the shame of urban America?

Third, as Mr. Wade points out, there are very likely certain genetic explanations for why the West has proven so powerful and so resilient over the last 500 years. The rise of the Christian West has, on the whole, been a dramatic net boon to the world. Such a thing simply could not happen if race, and genetics, did not matter, for if that were true then there is no statistically significant reason why the Caucasian races of the West should necessarily have outperformed the Chinese and Indian races of Asia, even though for a very large part of the first millennium, the West lagged significantly behind China and especially India in various measures of scientific knowledge.

Fourth, as Mr. Murray points out early on in his review, this nonsense that Stephen Jay Gould promoted about human equality being a "contingent fact of history" is just that- nonsense. Equality does not exist in any meaningful sense anywhere, except in the eyes of the Lord, and that is a metric that we mere mortals simply cannot use. Equality between the sexes, between various ethnic and tribal groups, and between different races, does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist when examined under any rational metric. Vox Day has pointed out repeatedly that we are not even all equally homo sapiens; some of us are more Neanderthal than others, and some are as Cro-Magnon as can be. This lie should be consigned to the dustbin of junk science where it belongs, and I'm delighted that Mr. Ward's new book appears to do exactly that.

A word in closing: lest anyone misinterpret my words, I absolutely do believe that you should judge a man by his character, not by the colour of his skin- once you get to know him, that is. But you'd be a fool to think that his race tells you nothing whatsoever about who he is and what he thinks. Xenophobia, as I have said before, is a survival instinct, and a damn good one. And there is no reason whatsoever to avoid using generalisations about various races as a starting point for an interaction with someone you don't know. Once you get to know him and you see the specific experiences that moulded him into who he is, then by all means, adjust your perceptions.

However, do not think that generalisations about race are always and everywhere invalid. As Mr. Wade's book seems to show, that is just not the case.


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