The genome of history

DNA explains more than you think

17 May 2014

9:00 AM

17 May 2014

9:00 AM

Ever since Darwin published his uncomforting theory, people have been trying to exempt themselves from one or another of its unwelcome consequences. Today’s equivalents of the 19th century’s outraged clerics include the many social scientists, economists and historians who insist that evolution is of no relevance to their disciplines.

In the United States the leading social science organisations proclaim that race is a social, not a biological construct. They reject the obvious notion that races differ because the populations on each continent have been evolving independently of one another for the last 50,000 years. Economists treat people as interchangeable entities of little or no intrinsic interest. Could the nature of the humble human units that produce and consume all of an economy’s goods and services have any bearing on a society’s productivity? Heavens, no! That wouldn’t compute at all. Historians, too, like other social scientists, assume that social groups differ only in their culture, not their genetics, and dismiss the idea that inherited social behaviour might make Chinese society, say, slightly different from that of a hunter-gatherer band.

All these academic tribes have been averting their eyes and minds from the discoveries flowing out of the human genome during the past decade. These show that human evolution has been extensive, recent and regional.

Fingerprints of natural selection

Scientists scanning the genome for evidence of natural selection have detected signals of many genes that have been favoured by natural selection in the recent evolutionary past. No less than 14 per cent of the human genome, according to one estimate, has changed under this recent evolutionary pressure. Most of these signals of natural selection date from 30,000 to 5,000 years ago, just an eye-blink in evolution’s three-billion-year timescale. Recent evolution is very hard to detect, but with suitable groups, such as the large patient populations studied for medical reasons, one can see natural selection at work at the present day. Under the pressure of selection, the age of first reproduction among women born between 1799 and 1940 on L’Isle-aux-Coudres, an island in the Saint Lawrence River near Quebec, fell from 26 to 22 years. The researchers who gleaned this finding from the island’s parish records noted that the tendency to give birth at a younger age appeared to be heritable, confirming that a genetic change had taken place. ‘Our study supports the idea that humans are still evolving,’ they write. ‘It also demonstrates that microevolution is detectable over just a few generations in a long-lived species.’

Evolution doesn’t stop. Humans are no exception to the rule, and there’s no reason to suppose human evolution ground to a halt at some decent interval before the present, as historians and economists habitually assume.

The other fact to emerge from the genome is that natural selection has been regional. In the genomes of the three main races — Africans, East Asians and Caucasians (i.e. West Eurasians, meaning Europeans, Middle Easterners and people of the Indian subcontinent) — different sets of genes bear the signatures of natural selection. This is an interesting finding, but hardly surprising: each race, evolving independently, has adapted to its own set of regional challenges.

Yet many social scientists profess to believe that there is no biological basis to race. ‘Race is a recent human invention,’ proclaims the American Association of Anthropologists. ‘Race is about culture, not biology.’ Scientists who have been indoctrinated in this view find it hard to accept any other. Researchers get attached to the view of their field they grew up with, and, as they grow older, they may gain the influence to thwart change. For 50 years after it was first proposed, leading geophysicists strenuously resisted the idea that the continents have drifted across the face of the globe. ‘Knowledge advances funeral by funeral,’ the economist Paul Samuelson once observed.

Academics, obsessed with intelligence, fear the discovery of some gene that will prove one group of people to be brighter than another. In fact intelligence is probably governed by hundreds of genes, each with so small effect that none has yet been detected. But even if it were proved that one major race was genetically more intelligent than another, what consequence would follow? In fact, not much. East Asians score around 105 on intelligence tests, an average above that of Europeans, whose score is 100. A higher IQ score doesn’t make East Asians morally superior to other races. East Asian societies have many virtues but are not necessarily more successful than European societies in meeting their members’ needs.

Indeed, it’s hard to see anything in the human genome that would support any notion of racism. The genome proclaims the unity of humankind. Not only do all humans carry the same set of genes, but races are not even demarcated by alleles, the alternative forms of a gene. In fact they are not demarcated at all, in the sense of having any definable boundary; races differ merely in relative allele frequencies. It’s because of characteristic differences in allele frequencies, however, that geneticists can track along the genome of someone of mixed race, such as an African American, and assign each segment to an African or European ancestor. This exercise would be impossible if races lacked an evolutionary basis.

Natural selection and social behaviour

The genes that bear the fingerprints of natural selection affect nutritional metabolism, bone structure, skin colour and some are also active in the brain. Their role is unknown, but evidently brain genes are as much subject to natural selection as any other category of gene. A class of brain gene particularly likely to fall under evolutionary pressure is that of genes that affect social behaviour.


Edward O. Wilson was pilloried for suggesting in his 1975 book Sociobiology that many human social behaviours might have an evolutionary basis; his Marxist critics wanted to keep the mind a blank slate, mouldable by governments into Socialist Man. Research since then has established that Wilson was correct. From their earliest years, children wish to be part of a group, to obey its rules and to punish violators. People have an instinctive morality, a readiness to make any sacrifice in defence of their family or group. These and several other social behaviours seem to be inherent and therefore genetically based, even though the relevant genes have yet to be identified.

Any trait that has a genetic basis can be modified by evolution. There are reasons to think that social behaviour would be vigorously shaped by natural selection. One is that people survive not as individuals but as social groups; the nature of a society is highly relevant to its success and therefore likely to be a target of selection. Social species are rare and very difficult for evolution to contrive, but once the necessary altruistic instincts are in place, social species are highly successful. Both ants and humans have conquered the world, though fortunately at different scales.

In the case of ants, nature’s strategy been to keep the ant body much the same but to vary its social behaviour. Slight tweaks in social behaviour can quickly adapt an ant society to a different ecological niche. Thus leaf-cutter ants cultivate a mushroom-like fungus in underground caverns, army ants conduct devastating raids, other ants live in the thorns of acacia trees and so forth. Evolution has developed some 15,000 ant species just by varying their social behaviour.

With people, evolution seems to have followed the same strategy: keep the human body as is, but vary the social behaviour to let people exploit new niches. Humans are still a single species, but at least three evolutionary changes in social structure seem evident.

Historical changes in social structure

One is the transition from foraging to settled life. Modern humans first appear in the fossil record some 200,000 years ago, yet the first settlements date to merely 15,000 years ago, in the Near East. Putting a roof over one’s head and being able to own more than one could carry on one’s back seems such an obvious step. So why did it take 185,000 years for people to figure it out? Probably because it wasn’t a matter of perceiving the benefits of settled life, but of evolving the necessary social behaviours. Hunter-gathers are aggressive and egalitarian. Settlers live in larger groups and have to get on with people they are not related to. They must accept hierarchy and division of labour. The reason these behaviours appeared so recently is because they took so long to evolve.

Another social transformation that is evidently hard to make, and probably requires a makeover of social behaviour, is the transition from tribalism to modern states. Tribalism is the default human social organisation. It can be extremely effective — the world’s largest land empire, that of the Mongols, was a tribal state. It is also hard to abandon, so hard that an evolutionary shift in behaviour seems required. China was the first state to replace tribalism, developing in its place a bureaucracy beholden to an autocratic leader. Population build-up between the Yellow and the Yangtze rivers and incessant warfare between tribes were the forces under which the tribal system collapsed. The unification of China in 221 BC marked the emergence of the first modern state. Europeans took another thousand years to escape tribalism, noted symbolically as the time when the King of the Franks became King of France. Other populations, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, are in the throes of achieving this transition.

More specific evidence that evolution has shaped human social behaviour in the recent past comes from a third major social transition, from agrarian to modern economies.

This transition is usually known as the Industrial Revolution. Before the Industrial Revolution, almost everyone in agrarian economies but the rich lived near the edge of starvation. Whenever any improvement in farming technology raised productivity, more children were born, the extra mouths ate up the surplus and semi-starvation soon reigned again. This harsh regime is known as a Malthusian economy after the Revd Thomas Malthus, who described it in his 1798 ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’. As it happened, the Malthusian regime was nearing an end at the very time Malthus was writing because of the vast increase in productivity that was the essence of the Industrial Revolution.

The cause of the Industrial Revolution is the central issue of economic history, yet economic historians have arrived at no consensus as to what that cause or causes may have been. Their preferred candidates are institutions of various kinds, or access to resources. For a quite different explanation, step back to Malthus for a moment. It was from Malthus that Darwin derived the idea of natural selection. Darwin perceived that if people were struggling on the edge of existence, as Malthus described, then a person with the slightest advantage would have more children and bequeath this advantage to them. ‘Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work,’ Darwin wrote in his autobiography.

If the English population provided the example from which Darwin intuited the idea of natural selection, that population was surely being subjected to the same force. The question then is what traits were being selected for. The economic historian Gregory Clark, of the University of California, Davis, has documented four behavioural changes in the English population between 1200 and 1800 AD.  The level of violence declined, literacy increased, and so did work hours and the propensity to save. The effect of these changes, Clark notes in his 2009 book Farewell to Alms, was to transform the violent peasant population of 1200 into the disciplined workforce of 1800. Because the nature of the people had changed, productivity soared, and for the first time an increase in population failed to drag down the standard of living.

Clark not only documents the behavioural change in English society but also provides a plausible mechanism of hereditary transmission. From the study of wills he finds that the well-off had more surviving children than the poor. Since the size of the English population remained fairly constant, many children of the rich must have dropped in social status, diffusing the genes and values that had made their parents wealthy into the wider -population.

The same process presumably occurred in other agrarian populations, which is why the Industrial Revolution spread so easily to other European countries and later, after political obstacles had been removed, to the countries of East Asia.

With all three transitions, an evolutionary change is plausible but remains a hypothesis nonetheless: proof awaits discovery of the relevant genes.

Human differences

The continental populations or races have evolved largely independently ever since modern humans spread across the globe from their African homeland some 50,000 years ago. In many respects their evolution has been largely in parallel. Thus both Caucasians and East Asians have developed the pale skin necessary for living in high northern latitudes, but each has a different set of alleles for doing so. This is not so surprising: evolution can only work with the mutations available, and different mutations for contriving pale skin were present in the Caucasian and East Asian populations.

In social behaviour, too, the three main races have followed largely parallel tracks but on slightly different timescales, probably because of demographic factors. Caucasians first made the transition from foraging to settled life, East Asians were the first to abandon tribalism. In adapting to their local environments, these societies naturally gained different skills and attributes. For most of recorded history, Chinese civilisation has been more advanced than others. Since 1500, the societies of the West have shown greater dynamism and creativity. Clearly no society is intrinsically superior to any other, but inevitably each has its periods of greater relative success.

Many important features of today’s world lack explanation. Why are some countries rich and others persistently poor? Capital and information flow fairly freely, so what is it that prevents poor countries from taking out a loan, copying every Scandinavian institution, and becoming as rich and peaceful as Denmark? Africa has absorbed billions of dollars in aid over the past half-century and yet, until a recent spurt of growth, its standard of living has stagnated for decades. South Korea and Taiwan, on the other hand, almost as poor at the start of the period, have enjoyed an economic resurgence. Why have these countries been able to modernise so rapidly while others have found it much harder?

The answers to such questions may lie in a hitherto unexamined possibility, that human social nature has been shaped by evolution and that human groups therefore differ slightly in their social behaviour and in the social institutions that depend on that behaviour. This would explain why it is so difficult to export American institutions into tribal societies like those of Iraq or Afghanistan, just as it would be impossible to import tribal systems into the United States or Europe. Persistently poor countries, particularly those that are still tribally organised, have not been through the Malthusian wringer experienced by agrarian populations and may therefore find the transition to a modern state that much harder.

People, unlike institutions, can easily migrate from one society to another. Recall evolution’s formula for social species: keep the organisms the same, just transform the social behaviour. Human nature is pretty much universal apart from slight differences in social behaviour, variations in which can lead to very different kinds of society. Significant human differences lie at this level, not that of individuals.

If the fear of racism can be overcome sufficiently for researchers to accept that human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional, a number of critical issues in history and economics may be laid open for exploration. Race may be a troublesome inheritance, but it is better to explore and understand its bearing on human nature and history than to pretend for reasons of political convenience that it has no evolutionary basis.

Nicholas Wade has worked at Nature and Science magazines and is a former science editor of the New York Times. A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade is published by Penguin.

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Show comments
  • millermp1

    I never expected to live through an upheaval comparable to the refutation of geocentricism.

    On the other hand, it’s probably safe to say that the Left will not issue it’s “Papal Bull” for a few decades or so, long enough for everyone to have another laugh at their expense.

  • IainRMuir

    “East Asians score around 105 on intelligence tests, an average above that of Europeans, whose score is 100.”

    But that’s not the full story, is it?

    • Winston_from_the_Ministry

      No, as was explained in the article.

      • AlisonMS

        I think you’ve missed the point.

        • Winston_from_the_Ministry

          I think you’re making an assumption.

  • rtj1211

    The biggest delusion of all eugenicists is this: they assume that there is one set of genes which is advantageous for all periods of history.

    This is complete bunkum. The reason that species diversity is so important is so that, NO MATTER WHAT MAY OCCUR OUTWITH THE LIMITS OF TOTAL ARMAGEDDON, subsections of the population will emerge to take advantage, make hay, help others, lead their species etc etc.

    Far right nonsense about ‘genetic superiority’ is that: nonsense. It is saying that under a very specific set of circumstances, WHICH MAY NOT PERTAIN IN THE FUTURE, certain genetic subtypes have a current, time-limited advantage.

    They have all the authority of monocrop agricultural extremists of the 20th century, whose misguided notions are now replaced by a deeper understanding of the nature of the environmental world. They made hay for 3 generations and now, their outdated approaches are being superceded.

    The ones who overthrew them? People of different outlook, talents and skills.

    Using eugenics, they would have been wiped out as inferior subspecies……

    • Terry Field

      Ah I see where you are going – dim people will come into their own in a world when there is nothing to do and nothing to achieve!!!
      Got you!!!!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        The retards will inherit the Earth?

        • Terry Field

          Your little note is, in fact, of immense significance. There is no direction ‘upwards’ with evolution – all life does, it would appear, is respond to conditions. Our descendent in the distant future may end up as slug-like creatures, with little intellect, a desire to remain where life is well understood, and to retain a supply of earth for contemplative chewing ‘of an evening’.
          A bit like socialists.
          There is, however, in a macro sense, intimations that the universe is ‘prop’ life – only recently have metabolic functions been observed in liquids unbounded by cellular structures.
          This raises the old question; is there physical ‘purpose’, intention, to the physics of the universe, that promotes life so efficiently.
          Who knows? Nobody, but worth a reflective conjecture.

      • anneteak

        Not quite.

        At the moment white people are better at swimming, black people at marathons.

        If, after Armageddon, it’s necessary to run fast to get food… and at great distances, then more black people will survive than whites.

        Intelligence will only matter if it is needed to survive.. For example, by having the means gained from other fields of endeavour , to employ the runners.

        • Terry Field

          You are on very dangerous ground; the last one to remind us that the negro runs better because of the narrow hips, and thus gives birth to smaller headed children (and the reverse for the very intelligent Japanese, I recall) had a sticky end – even if it may well be correct in every particular.
          Hope you have body armour in this anti-science world!!!

          • anneteak

            As the cover of an old Watchtower magazine stated:

            ‘What good is a degree during a nuclear attack?’

        • StephanieJCW

          Really? ‘Black people are better at marathons’? I doubt it.

          I am pretty sure there are far more white British marathon winners, than black Jamaican ones.

          • anneteak

            Here’s something novel for you.. It’s called ‘reading’.

            It’s when you look at the words and find out they have a meaning.

            Look carefully at my post..run your finger along the lines..it will help.

            And try and spot the word ‘Jamaicans’.

            100 marks and a gold star if you do.

          • StephanieJCW

            Oh dear.

            Take your own advice.

            I was trying to help you out with a very simple to understand analogy – but it appears to be beyond you.

            ‘Black people’ are not ‘better at marathons. Some population groups, for various, more nuanced reasons may perform better at longer distance running (you wouldn’t be able to grasp those) but that absolutely does not equate to: ‘black people being better at marathons’.

  • Raw England

    We Nationalists have known these obvious facts for ages.

    It is PALPABLY blatant that the races are intensely different in every single way: physically, mentally and societally.

    Race is everything. It explains why Africans are unable to build or maintain civilisation; it explains why black people behave consistently in a very different way to White people, or Chinese people. More sinister is the way in which White people are now branded racist because black people are unable to do well in school, and in life in general…..

    Race also explains why Whites have built the most advanced civilisation in the entire history of mankind.

    It should, even more importantly, remind us that its our race that makes us what we are, and our nations what they are. And then we should remind ourselves, urgently, that the two other foreign races have colonised our nations, and will, eventually, be the majority.

    Whites are now only around 8% of the world population…

    • Chris Bond

      “White people are now branded racist because black people are unable to do well in school, and in life in general…..”
      Quite correct. It’s the same faulty logic that results in anti-semitism due to the prevalence of Ashkenazim Jews in intellectual life. They have an average IQ half, or one a standard deviation above the mean (108-115) which results in a greater percentage of Ashkenazim being represented in the higher IQ range due to the distribution of the bell curve. Our elites (see Labour and the Judge quotas) are running a race industry based on NAZI logic.
      *Slow hand clap*

      The key additional point to remember is one simple fact – IQ averages do not mean everyone in that group has that IQ.

      • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

        re your point on anti semitism and intelligence.

        Observing that superior intelligence , which is probably unremarked and the rise to positions of influence as a consequence, which most definitely is noticed, may be used by many as the basis of anti semitism

        The danger is using such influence to direct national policies in the interests of lets be frank…Israel.
        That will generate quite legitimate anti semitism.

        See USA Middle East foreign policy.

        I could never figure why the UK demos after the cartoon imbroglio, calling for heads to roll etc, were at first treated so passively.
        Maybe , i only suggest, that it is in the interest of err err Israel for us to see how dangerous Islam really is.

        How many university professors of the humanities , whatever their background should the taxpayer support ?
        Welfare to useless work i call it !

      • StephanieJCW


        Men, on average, are taller than women.

        That does not mean every man is taller than every women. Why do people not get that?

        • MacTurk

          None of your breathtakingly obvious statement has anything to do with the stupid idea that there is any genetic, or biological, basis for racially classifying humans/

          Mr Wade is not a scientist, and never has been.

    • Damon

      “Race is everything. It explains why Africans are unable to build or maintain civilisation.”
      Erm, just curious, is anyone else on here as sickened as I am by this twot and her odious drivel? I mean, I know the internet is the racist’s playground, just like talk radio, but still.
      You describe yourself as a “nationalist”, Yet the rebarbative effluent that drips off your keyboard shows, above all, that you have no understanding of real “British” values whatsoever. B-gger off back to Dachau, or Sachsenhausen, or Buchenwald, there’s a love, and leave *decent* English people in peace.

      • Raw England

        Hehe xx

      • Kennybhoy


      • James Masters

        The statement that race explains why Africans are unable to build or maintain civilisation is very obviously correct, except to someone who doesn’t want to realise it. The fact that you describe it as ‘sickening’ says more about you than it does about him.

        • First L

          African civilisation is at a minimum 2,000 years older than European civilisation. Genetic differences between peoples is not an excuse for racism and ignorant stupidity.

      • GenJackRipper

        I know, I know. It’s hard to read facts without shame when you’ve been brain-washed from an early age not to listen to such talk.

      • disqus_KdiRmsUO4U

        As usual: no attempt to address the argument just the usual PC mindlessness..it ,the argument , sounds nasty to me so it must be wrong.

        Quite pathetic!

      • pp22pp

        People like you are wrong logically, which means that, in the end, you are wrong morally. Wetting your pants is not an adult way to react. What we need to do is figure out how to deal with reality while hanging on to our decency.

        • Damon

          “People like you are wrong logically, which means that, in the end, you are wrong morally.”

          It’s true that “people like me” feel a reflexive disgust for notions of racial hierarchy, partly because we know what those lovely ideas led to in the last century.

          I’m aware that I’m in danger of merely hurling assertions, just like your side, so consider an argument. The Roman legionary in the first century, stepping off his boats onto the shores of Britain, will also have felt a sense of overwhelming cultural superiority to the semi-naked, blue-painted savages that stood shrieking on the beach in front of him. Contemporary intellectuals such as Livy and Asinius Pollio despised the barbarous, illiterate Germans (for instance) for their cruelty, their social anarchy and their mass human sacrifices.

          Most observers in the classical world, in other words, believed that north Europeans would never be capable of civilization. You and your mates should at least consider the possibility that you’re making the same mistake about Africans.

          • pp22pp

            Tacitus would not have agreed with you and the schools of Gaul were considered to be the best in the Empire. Arminius, who drove the Romans from Germany, was Roman educated and was considered highly intelligent. I can read Latin, too.

          • First L

            As another geologist by training I can only agree. I often think that everyone should be taught geology from an early age as clearly those who do not have the basic knowledge of how the earth works and the sheer vastness of time and its action on species and how very little everything actually matters in that context – have very little true understanding of either the physical or social sciences.

          • mikewaller

            Although the estimates relied upon by Mark Twain of how long the planet had been is existence and how long the human race had been around were far too low, these errors canceled each other out. So his suggestion that if the height of the Eiffel Tower is taken to represent the existence of the planet then the thickness of the paint on top of the pinnacle represents the existence of humans is broadly correct. This has always seemed to me the most powerful way of giving those with no understanding of these things a realistic sense of perspective.

            However, if I have a raging toothache, none of the above makes it seem other than of of transcending importance that I get something done about it! [:-)]

          • M_Young

            Do white people have the right to exist?

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      You have to admit that for many centuries Mother Church ran interference, particularly in the field of astrophysics.

      • Raw England

        Elaborate, please, Jack.

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          The Catholic Church has only just got around to admitting that Galileo was right about the relationship between the sun and other orbs.
          Better late than never.

      • Chris Bond

        Yeah. not knowing the earth revolved around the sun compares with 70 years of retarded policies from the western worlds governments.
        At least we got all this diversity though….

    • channel.fog

      But if ‘we’ are superior how will the ‘inferior’ races be able to dominate ‘us’? Surely ‘we’ will always be one step ahead because of our inborn superiority. Or is the problem that you are whistling in the dark, lashing out because of your own personal sense of inferiority and disappointment with your life, which you project onto others?

      • GenJackRipper

        Because we’re letting ourselves being shamed for what we’re good at.

      • mikewaller

        Have you actually read the article? The key fact it contains has nothing to do with the potentialities of those of African ethnicity. It lies in the simple observation that “East Asians score around 105 on intelligence tests, an average above that of Europeans, whose score is 100”. There is no doubt that from the Renaissance through to the twentieth century something in the European mix produced major breakthroughs in the entire spectrum of human activity. However as we English know all too well in respect of association football, to have pioneered an activity by no means assures one of everlasting dominance. So what chance the hoped for “knowledge economy” if the folks with whom you are competing are not only nicking all your secrets, they are also inherently smarter? Can’t help thinking this issue is so overwhelming that the dreary old blacks vs. whites debate is dragged out solely to avoid having to look into the abyss.

    • Bonkim

      In-breeding will destroy the White population soon – the Plebs will take over.

      • Raw England

        Haven’t they already taken over?

      • uberwest

        Out breeding will destroy it much much sooner

        • Bonkim

          New vigour. Don’t want neo-Nazis here.

          • uberwest

            I’m a patriot, and patriots have far greater value than degenerate low life amoral traitor scum. I’m not out to change the world to make it more English, I just want England to stay English.

          • Bonkim

            England – has it always been the land of the Angles? Come again – the various populations that have settled on this land have changed it to what it is today. Nothing stands still in nature. You may not like it but change and adaptation to change is the essence of evolution. Those that do not adapt perish.

          • Chris Bond

            Again, you seem to have a fantasy version of hybrid vigor. Dumping half of Pakistan, or sub Saharan Africa on the UK will not create “strength”. It’s creates problems. Serious problems. A third world population will give you a third world result.

          • Bonkim

            Jumping to conclusions – mass immigration will of course ruin Britain – no doubt about that – with world populations exploding and resources depleting fast Britain is dependent on the outside world – like it or not you will not be able to shut yourself from the outside world and survive for long.

          • Chris Bond

            erm, have you actually looked at the average IQ of the worlds population groups? or that fact that hybrid vigor in humans is bunkum? and to cut you off before you try it – IQ is hereditary, and no, immigrants beyond the second generation do not improve on this. (and the second gen jump is surely to do with increased English ability). http://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/iq-by-region-maps/

          • Bonkim

            Jumping to conclusions – if you had any intelligence would have probably discussed logically instead of blowing your spleen about first and second generation generation jump by being in contact with clever Brits. Look up the people who are at the cutting edge of science and technology, Maths, etc, see the distribution of non-Caucasians there. Yes certain people stand out in the intelligence – more importantly their contribution to science and technological development and Britain stands high in the count – as do Scots, Jews, Germans, Chinese, Indians, and many others – it is not a racial thing although genes do contribute; history, environment, history, religion, and culture also play their part in creating the environment within which genes play their contribution.

            Most in Britain that are intelligent don’t shout how clever they are but get on with doing clever things.

          • pp22pp

            Genes are fundamental. Without those no amount of education will make a difference. Deal with it!

          • pyrosphere

            Aye, so you are inferior to many whites and superior to many whites.
            Just as you are inferior to many blacks, browns, yellows, and every other major denomination of humans, and superior to others.

            So what’s the utility behind judging me on the basis of my race, instead of the average of any other countless categories or ancestral populations to which I can be denominated into?
            If I test higher than most of any race, should I then argue with the presumption that you are genetically inferior to me, personally?

            Why not judge me on the basis of my family’s average intelligence, or extended family’s, or income categories, or academic achievement, or my extended family as of 3 generations, or 50 generations back? All will give you a more accurate picture of my personal capability than categories as broad and varied as race. Or better yet, just judge my potential as an individual.

            I’ll tell you why, because you’re a racist fartbag and you need to ascribe to convenient ‘in-group / out-group’ categories to feel you ‘belong’ regardless of your personal worth.

            Ultimately, you’re a parasite on human suffering. I’d get that checked; it’s a personality trait that might just have a genetic foundation.

          • pp22pp

            We’re talking about populations not individuals. Unfortunately, my own race does not come out top. I am big enough to accept that and move on. For what it’s worth, 20% of blacks are more intelligent than the average white.

            Races are extended families.

          • pyrosphere

            “We’re talking about populations not individuals.”

            Yes, and there are countless populations any given individual can be binned into. Education and income can also be a surrogate for inherited intelligence. Any given genetic marker can be used to establish a population. If we use some genotype found to manifest some influence on human cognition, we can certainly establish superior and inferior groups that would be mixed race. I can group people into separate populations entirely randomly and find some average difference on the basis of any trait. The question then is, what is the utility of employing the category?

            “Races are extended families.”

            You have thousands of generations of extended families that can be traced back to migration from Africa. If I made a judgement of your individual intelligence or that of your immediate family one should of course expect that to yield a more accurate and reliable result than if I extrapolated from a population of millions that bins you on the basis of some tertiary correlate to the actual phenotype being selected for.

            The mean IQ of Indians in India 85; yet if we use economic competence and education as a category, should Indian diaspora in the US then be said to be the most superior race in terms of testing performance, in the same manner as Jewish diaspora in Europe? Should Indians and Jews feel proud of their diaspora community, but diasspointed by their ethnic ancestry as a whole? Should they be more proud of one than the other? Or maybe they should just be proud of their immediate family? Does any of this really matter, given that the denominations are scientifically arbitrary?

            This is of course not to mention that it is an incredibly amateur mistake to conflate heritability with genetics, something the author of this piece seems to overlook. Religion is heritable. Being born as a slave is heritable. Likelihood of obtaining a college degree is heritable. None of these things are genetic.

            “I am big enough to accept that and move on.”

            You are framing the discussion as though it makes one a ‘lesser’ to disagree. You should care, because blatant misinterpretation and abuse of data and ‘just-so’ stories are being used to advocate for regressive political ideology.

          • pp22pp

            Shut up!

          • Bonkim

            Free speech is a wonderful thing – wasted on the ignorant and idiots. So yes best to shut up..

      • MacTurk

        Most of the White population of the UK ARE plebs…..

    • Liz

      Civilisation is a feature of urbanisation and centralisation of administration which in turn is a feature of climate and landscape. You need a temperate climate for it to develop, otherwise you have to be nomadic. Great civilisations have followed wealth and military might, ie empires where there is a steady supply of free or cheap labour and talent and of taxes. British men really weren’t much to write home about while they were under the Roman and Norman yokes, they couldn’t fend off the invasions and colonisations and their inventiveness amounted to very little. It took a change in geopolitics and the rise of the British empire for them to instigate the industrial revolution. Likewise women experienced a hiatus in their inventiveness while they were under a patriarchal yoke, legal (if not social or cultural or political or economic) equality has seen the emergence of a new dynamism. Africa is labouring under a post-colonial yoke that saw them asset stripped and false national borders imposed. It took Britain a great deal longer than 50 years to bounce back from a similar experience – try 1500 years.

      • Chris Bond

        erm….no. What you have written is quite a jumble of incoherence backed with no evidence. I do however find a couple of points interesting. One current theory for the development of higer IQ among populations that left Africa is the premise that more temperate climates reduced the genetic load caused by infection and climate. This would be a process which took thousands of years. So merely dumping non Europeans on European soil will no imbue them with a civilizing energy as you seem to imply.
        And as for “women experienced a hiatus in their inventiveness”, this depends on you definition of inventiveness. If you mean creating quasi psychotic feminist nonsense regarding “micro aggression” and gender ideologies which desperately try to refute the underlying genetic differences between sexes (most clearly shown by the XX and XY chromosome pairs) then I suppose you are correct. But, then again, being creative with no reference to reality is easy (I could sit here and write a book on Unicorns flying to another galaxy on rivers of rainbows and this would contain as much truth as gender mainstreaming). Being creative with reference to reality e.g. technological innovation is hard and actually important.

        As for post colonialism, there is always a blind spot with regard to Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan – they appear to have not been informed of your theories on the effects of colonialism. Also, Africa a) has vast amounts of resources – you seem to have a cartoon image of white people taking everything and leaving nothing, and b) White people left institutions and civilization (The Congo was an industrial dynamo) – the post colonial handing of governance to indigenous movements which all coincidentally appear to have all been socialist resulted in extreme barbarity and genocide, odd isn’t it? Quite frankly, to blame that on Colonialism is a bit of a sick joke.

        • Liz

          Yes yes, I understand you are a willfully-ignorant and stupid misogynist, there’s no need to labour the point.

        • Raw England

          You’re my hero ♥

      • pp22pp

        Please tell me you don’t get paid for spouting this rubbish!

    • StephanieJCW

      ” it explains why black people behave consistently in a very different way to White people,”

      Except this is nonsense isn’t. You seem unable to accept that people are individuals

    • ChuckRamone

      If you’ve read Wade’s book, you’d find that he includes whites in the Caucasian racial group, which also includes the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East. That easily surpasses 8% of the world population. Don’t worry, there are enough of you.

      • Helmut_Schmidt69

        He was not referring to Caucasians in general, but the specific sub-group from Europe. Race is real, it does explain the world in many ways, but differences among extended family groups are arguably more interesting.

        • ChuckRamone

          Well, by that logic, there are only small percentages of every subgroup of every race. You can keep playing the endangered species card if it makes you feel special.

    • MacTurk

      God but this is certifiably stupid, and divorced from reality.

      There is no – repeat NO – biological or genetic basis for any of your crudely racist and historically ignorant nonsense.

      “Race is everything”? Utter tosh, from someone whose inferiority complex, and entitlement mentality, is glaringly obvious.

      I should also point out that your prophet of racism is unable, in his own book, to decide how many ‘races’ there are, nor how to define them, or their characteristics, consistently?

      You are a gullible fool, following a cynical huckster.

  • http://www.themolinist.com/ Matthew Simmermon-Gomes

    This is a grossly ahistorical misapplication of the science of human difference that serves only the end of furthering apologism for the violent colonialism that whites have wrought upon the world. The reason dark people are poor is because our genes are inferior; but not those clever Asians, they’re a smart bunch! Inventing a biological basis for 400 year old social constructs does not change history.

    • Terry Field

      You are a leftie polemicist; your colourful assertions are hysterical perversions of truth and history.
      Sentence two is correct. Sentence three, of course, is bunk.

    • cartimandua

      Every civilization was violent and colonial from the very beginning of time.
      Dark people are poor because they treat women worse than goats to this day and outpopulate their environments with child marriage, high birth rates, polygamy etc.
      That leads to war pestilence and famine.

      • transponder

        That’s only the beginning of it.

        • cartimandua

          No its going to be a lot of it. Mirror neurons need empathy brains and hedonic social structures and empathy brains are more often found in women.
          That is why northern European countries have done so much better.

        • cartimandua

          No its going to be a lot of it. Mirror neurons need empathy brains and hedonic social structures and empathy brains are more often found in women.
          That is why northern European countries have done so much better.

          • transponder

            How do I get more of this hedony? I feel a bit low on it lately, doc. ;^)

          • cartimandua

            Hedonic refers to leadership in a group arising from “having the best idea” rather than being able to beat everyone else up.
            One could see how that would be beneficial in terms of problem solving.
            So the places where women could lead and sometimes did from the ice age onwards (northern Europe) valued leadership based on the best ideas (even if men were in leadership positions.) That has been an ongoing advantage.
            It means problems are solved,and tasks completed rather than an agonic (baboon like) facing off shouting “whose the man”. That doesn’t seem to produce adequate or useful problem solving.
            Its why military officers are chosen because they can lead and inspire not because they can bully.
            The selections include motivating a group to solve a problem.

    • Mike Barnes

      Are you saying there’d be no warfare in Africa if it wasn’t for white people? There’d be no tribes, just one big black happy family of 1 billion people?

      • Chris Bond

        That always seems to be the premise. It seems like “whites” have X-men style powers. We seem to possess a “racism” field which depresses the abilities of anyone from a different ethnicity.This field is long lasting and pernicious. Maybe we should be given magneto style helmets.

      • uberwest

        The arabs were far worse for far longer.

    • Chris Bond

      “Inventing a biological basis for 400 year old social constructs does not change history.”
      Discovering a biological basis does changes history – it brings reality back into the leftist abortion it had become. Especially the past 70 years – beginning with the disastrous decolonization period, and moving on to the present disastrous immigration policies.

    • transponder

      Golly you really drink the Kool-Aid, don’t you? I wonder whether you’ve had an original or self-generated thought in your whole life. Your comment here doesn’t suggest it.

  • SirMe

    Why does this even matter? Genetic technology and engineering will be possible in the coming future. So if there are genetic differences within certain races that are considered a disadvantage, then genetic engineering should solve this dilemma.

    • Bob339

      Boy are you dumb. Diversity is what keeps nature going.

      • Terry Field

        Daaah – the relatively unfit disappear.
        Heard of him?

    • Terry Field

      Silk purse;
      Pigs ear;

    • Helmut_Schmidt69

      It’s more of a religion now than anything else. I don’t think we’ll have genetic engineering, myself. But more advanced eugenics systems will likely be able to greatly speed up evolution, particularly in Africa.

      The truth is blacks have the most to gain from this technology.

  • Terry Field

    At last the pernicious codswallop that ‘we are all the same’ is being comprehensively rejected.
    Not before time.
    Truth will out, despite the worst influences of the pernicious left.

    • transponder

      You think ‘despite the worst influences of the pernicious left’? I’m not so sanguine, unfortunately. The Left and truth don’t get along.

  • cartimandua

    Mirror neurons and they probably needed the greater gender equality of northern Europe (and empathizing brains) which enabled large group functioning.

    • LucieCabrol

      That does not sound very scientific….empathizing brains, do they go ‘aaah’?

      • cartimandua


        “According to the originator of the theory, Simon Baron-Cohen, the E-S theory has been tested using the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ), developed by him and colleagues, and generates five different ‘brain types’ depending on the presence or absence of discrepancies between their scores on E or S. E-S profiles show reliable sex differences in the general population (more females showing the profile E>S and more males showing the profile S>E).[1] The E-S theory is a better predictor of who chooses STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects than is gender.[2] The E-S theory has been extended into the ‘Extreme Male Brain’ (EMB) theory of autism and Asperger syndrome, which are associated in the E-S theory with below-average empathy and average or above-average systemizing.[3]”
        Its not gender specific but empathizing types tend to permit working in larger groups.
        Northern Europe has always had women in positions of power from the ice age.
        This arose from the climate and environment.
        We were then better at forming large groups.
        Mirror neurons
        “Given their purported role in social cognition, one prominent neuroscientist has proposed that a defective mirror neuron system is what causes autism, a neurodevelopmental condition characterized primarily by impairments in social interaction and communication. The same researcher argues that the discovery of mirror neurons is ‘the single most important “unreported” story of the decade’, and has even referred to the cells as ‘the neurons that shaped civilization’, because human culture involves the transfer of complex skills and knowledge from person to person.”

        • LucieCabrol

          Ahh…I see where you’ve made your school girl error….mistaking Psychology for a science, and taking something seriously that was printed in the Guardian. Try harder.

          • cartimandua

            Psychology and Psychoanalysis these days “diddums” are backed up by findings from neuroscience. MRIs and f MRIs can actually see things previously recorded by human observation. Human observation and counting was right.
            But if you don’t think “counting things” is valid then you don’t believe in evidence gathering at all.
            What do you do for medical care?
            In a program on tv about this not long ago they looked at the length of fingers which indicated exposure to testosterone in the womb. Funnily enough the most testosterone exposed also had the most systematizing thinking. Its about neurobiology as well.
            It wasn’t in one specific gender either so one gets female mechanical engineers (like my step niece) and you get male vicars.

  • Jack

    This article suffers from a number of basic factual errors. Here are three.

    1. “Thus both Caucasians and East Asians have developed the pale skin necessary for living in high northern latitudes . . .”

    These skins don’t evolve because they’re necessary for people to live in high northern (or low southern) latitudes. They’re simply a consequence of the absence of any pressure to adapt to strong sun. Over time and without any other pressure to do so, any gene pool will lose this trait. Necessary? Of course not – but the distinction should be grasped by anyone promoting a perspective on genetics.

    2. ” The unification of China in 221 BC marked the emergence of the first modern state. Europeans took another thousand years to escape tribalism, noted symbolically as the time when the King of the Franks became King of France. Other populations, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, are in the throes of achieving this transition.”

    Perhaps China may have been the first modern state, but the claim rests on a peculiar definition of modern which ignores the birthplace of western democracy in
    Athens, the administrative sophistication of Rome, and just a few civilisations
    in the Middle East, such as Egypt, Sumeria, Assyria, etc. If the people living
    there are ‘in the throes of achieving’ the transition to a modern state, then
    it’s not for the first time. Why hasn’t their gene pool protected them from such

    3. “The answers to such questions may lie in a hitherto unexamined possibility . . .”
    This claim is not unexamined. In fact, until c.1945, several European countries
    kept whole departments at universities examining the consequences of this idea.
    For instance, some universities in Central Europe kept a Racial Hygiene institute until 1947. Such institutes closed because acting on the results of their research had proved disastrous for supposedly genetically superior populations.

    In addition, the article fails to examine the fundamental issue of the differences
    in environment acting on gene pools. Check, for instance, Jared Diamond’s Guns,
    Germs and Steel for a reader-friendly account of the effect of exposure to
    wider ranges of disease as a fundamental factor influencing human development.

    • Chris Bond

      “…Jared Diamond’s Guns,Germs and Steel…”
      You were actually raising interesting issues until you quoted Jared Diamond…

      • Jack

        So address what interests you! Facts are important for everyone.

        • Chris Bond

          1)I would like to look into the development paler skin in colder climates, as It is one area that I have not had a look into. I would presume it’s not so much and absence of a production of melanin, but vary genes regarding the levels of melanin production. I would say it was a necessary development prior to understanding of vitamin requirements (pro vitamin D+ light requirements).
          2) you issue regarding what constitutes a “state” is valid. China has arguably had a continuous one for 2000 plus years (with minors interludes of short periods), but as for the modern world, this can only really be said to date from the creation of stable nations in Europe. Previous civilizations had risen and fallen back into tribalism. With the example of the middle east, there has been vast amounts of population movements, with the majority of the present incumbents being of Yemeni origin I believe, and only really setting down with the Muslim invasions. The place has been subject to repeated destruction and population movements prior to this. (vandals and Carthage, Alexander the great, Roman empire etc etc).
          The whole premise is largely based on civilization encouraging certain selective breeding patterns and acting as a feedback loop, coupled with removal of violent outliers in the population.
          We accept such things in farm animals, but when it comes to man all rules get throw out of the window. I mean, would you claim pig breeding is linked to how much “privilege” the leaner pigs have got – or would you accept it is genetic?

          • Raw England

            I have to say, I’m pondering whether we Whites were, in fact, an evolution in the races. It would make sense in every possible way.

            Mr Wade does allude to this strong possibility in the article, though subtly.

          • Liz

            Not when you see them on holiday it doesn’t.

          • Chris Bond

            Reading the literature, it appears the prevailing theories is that human leaving Africa resulted in a reduction in the genetic load of deleterious mutations though a number of potential routes – changes in mating patterns (younger conception), reduced immune system requirements etc, coupled with needs for additional forward thinking due to winter etc. A slightly more “controversial” avenue is the admixture from neanderthals of all populations except sub Saharan’s (they never left Africa and never encountered neanderthals). This is complicated, but demonstrates bio diversity. The Neanderthal genome mapping showed that we inherited depression and crohn’s disease http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25944817

            It’s not so much a case of seeing white people as being an evolution, more as an adaptation to the relevant environments. African are beautifully adapted to Africa as they have much more effective immune systems for the region. Also note, evolution can go back as well as forward (see this for an example of a dog cell which became a virus – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canine_transmissible_venereal_tumor)

          • Raw England


            Thank you for this excellent, informative and articulate reply, Chris.

          • Chris Bond

            If you want more, there is a whole community of people devoted to science out there. The genome mapping in – 2003 is creating a revolution, and the finding are coming at the present world system like a locomotive. The whole edifice of the current world is wrong – immigration policy, economic policy, sociology, political science – all totally wrong as they work on the basis of replaceable human units and cultural imprinted behavior.
            Have fun with these –

          • transponder

            How on earth can one ‘inherit’ an emotional-cognitive state that has nothing to do with genes? Emotional-cognitive states, transitory as they are and subject to situation, are not heritable.

          • Helmut_Schmidt69

            You are unfamiliar with the discipline of evolutionary psychology. What you state is false. Obviously, the emotional reaction, while triggered by environmental perception, is itself hereditary.

          • transponder

            Ha! ‘Evolutionary psychology’ is a make-it-up-as-you-go-along squishy ‘science’ absolutely ripe for flim-flam.

          • LucieCabrol

            Slight problem is that the east asians have a higher IQ than us on average!!

    • cartimandua

      And China stopped footbinding when? OOh they are so successful they are still missing millions and millions of females.

      • Jack

        Definition of modern, as I said.

      • LucieCabrol

        One was traditional practice of a brutal nature and the other, communism of a brutal nature.

    • transponder

      Your pale-skin argument assumes that there is no positive benefit to UV receptiveness. I grew up with the assumption that I had pale skin so that the benefits of the sun could reach me — not simply because, away from the African sun, I had no need for built-in sun-block.

  • KA1033

    This essay is filled with so many basic errors that it is an embarrassment. I will simply note the following:

    “The researchers who gleaned this finding from the island’s parish records noted that the tendency to give birth at a younger age appeared to be heritable, confirming that a genetic change had taken place.”

    That the heritability of a trait changes IN NO WAY implies that a genetic change has taken place. Heritability can and does change with environmental changes. Consider a simple example. Suppose you have a trait that is caused by a genetic predisposition interacting with an environmental trigger. In a population in which everyone has the genetic predisposition but not everyone is exposed to the environmental trigger, THE HERITABILITY OF THE TRAIT IS 0 (i.e., 0% of the variation in the trait is due to genetic variation). Conversely, in a population in which everyone is exposed to the environmental trigger but only some members of the population have the genetic predisposition, the heritability is 100% (i.e., 100% of the variation in the trait is due to genetic variation). Hence, heritability of traits changes constantly due to changes in the population and environment.

    Does the author of this even know what heritability is?

  • transponder

    Interesting — as is

    These and several other social behaviours seem to be inherent and therefore genetically based, even though the relevant genes have yet to be identified.

    And they never shall be found, as there is no gene for morality: it’s an outcome and consequence of our cognition and social awareness.

  • transponder

    ‘Humans are still a single species’

    I find this very interesting, on account of the willingness of scientists to demarcate a ‘species’, or at the very least a ‘subspecies’, on the basis of traits that are at least as minor as the traits that mark off different human gene pools.

    Don’t you EVER confuse a wheatear with a chiff-chaff, even though they look identical (different song, see?)! If you could fool a chiff-chaff with a non-wheatear song they’d mate quite handsomely, which rather spoils the ‘different species’ idea. But when it comes to humans, many scientists — self-identified Leftists, progressives, and in the United States, members of the not-very-democratic capital-D Democratic Party — are squeamish even about acknowledging such a thing as ‘race’.

    Why the double standard among biologists? Biology itself — their own discipline — doesn’t support it.

    • Bonkim

      Survival of the fittest.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Or alternatively, non-survival of the thickest.

  • Gwangi

    If you thought our university system was one of academics allowed freedom of thought, then think again.
    Even asking the question about whether race or ethnicity affects anything (physical, mental, IQ) will get you suspended.
    Therefore, asking questions is now wrong and seen as inappropriate ion our higher education system. Brilliant!

    • Gwangi

      You are of course allowed to be an Islamist extremist and to encourage others to be Islamic terrorists at British universities; this is called ‘promoting diversity’ apparently. Hoorah inshallah!

  • Bonkim

    Rubbish – civilizations come and go – lifecycle – Locations such as China, Central Asia, and India had been rich in history – climate, environment, and ability of the people to organise society and their commerce determine levels of prosperity. Social organisation degenerates as societies get more prosperous and therefore lax – more vigorous groups of people take risk and exploit the weaknesses and extend their control. Western societies have become more organised, grown vigorous over the past three hundred years as the Eastern societies have collapsed. The Chinese and Indians are rising up again – but the world has also hanged – the earth is over-populated, resources running dry, social and economic inequalities have become endemic; there will be an almighty struggle for survival soon, those that are already in advantageous positions will survive – but overall world population and economy will collapse – whether mankind survives or not – that should be the question.

    • Raw England

      Which is why we MUST implement drastic, radical changes to reclaim our precious nations, and eject the foreigners.

      Oh, and the only reason our civilisation is dying, is because of immigration and multiculturalism.

      We still have the power to reverse it…..but we have very little time left. So very, very little time.

      • Bonkim

        ……….because people are more inbred and getting soft – immigrants are more risk-takers and vigorous. Same story three hundred years back when hungry Europeans ventured forth and colonized the new world.

    • Liz

      Empire and civilisation to hand in hand. It’s not genetic, it’s economic.

      • Bonkim

        Yes – that was the point – opportunity, environment and drive all play their part – social organisation and discipline key to domination. Religion is also a major factor in social organisation and willingness to go forward or recede backward..

  • channel.fog

    It’s interesting reading the comments on here – bang goes any idea of the Spectator as an intelligence magazine if they’re anything to go by: the usual crowd of bitter, disappointed onanist bedsit failures with their dreams of being mighty eagles.

    • uberwest

      You appear to have made that comment during working hours. Either you’re a public servant, a welfare dependent or a student. Perhaps if you got a proper job you’d grow up a bit..

    • vieuxceps2

      Whereas you, Channel Fog,have contributed mightily to the debate,haven’t you? Your fellow onanists await your enlightening views…..,

  • JinBow

    Let’s talk science.

    Ants began to diversify 60 million years ago. Those wildly different traits that Wade talks about in his article? They’ve been differentiating for 60 million years.

    Humans left Africa 600,000 years ago. So they’ve been diversifying for only 1% of the time as ants. Now if Wade wants to suggest that our propensity to “successful” social structures is a feat of evolution, I suggest he uses an comparative example that is actually comparative.

    We also shouldn’t forget that Humans are vastly more complex, and so evolutionary changes will take longer. Our social abilities might diversify in a million years or so. But, as we know from the fact that you can drop a baby from Africa in a european setting and it will grow up to be european in every way but physical traits, the argument he’s trying to make is entirely false.

    Now, let’s talk history.

    Ponder the “point” that Wade made about creativity: “Since 1500, the societies of the West have shown greater dynamism and creativity”. From cubism to rap music, dance to fashion, Europe has been wholeheartedly stealing and appropriating the culture of Africa for centuries. Now creativity is subjective (which makes his point invalid to begin with), but the “creativity” that Wade is alluding to was and is informed significantly by pre-existing forms of African expression.

    The thing is that anyone can make up pseudo-scientific racist rubbish to add false credence to their prejudice. And anyone can agree with that racist rubbish in order to satisfy their own warped egos.

    But if you actually take the time to look at the argument presented here, you’ll see that even an apparent “expert” has been reduced to clutching at straws. Mostly because, at this point in human evolution, racist eugenics has no scientific basis.

    I would never want to stop you from trying to argue this nonsense – freedom of speech and all. But, if you’re going to be this intellectually dishonest about it? Why bother?

    • Chris Bond

      Point one – science

      Your whole argument is based on not having paid attention to any scientific discoveries in the past decade. The humane genome has been mapped. Evolution following humans leaving Africa has been “copious” – this is not disputed. There has even been admixture from archaic human populations (Denisovian and Neanderthal). It’s been proven by genetics. It’s not conjecture,and the example of ants is comparable. Humans and ants are animals subject to evolution; something socialist, modern anthropologist and general leftist refute- and something which belies the underlying religiosity of their belief systems.

      “you can drop a baby from Africa in a European setting and it will grow up to be European in every way but physical traits” – I suppose this is why we have “white privilege”, the black/ white IQ gap which remains even in adoption (the very example your are citing) and general affirmative action quotas.

      Point Two – history

      This becomes a point of subjectivity. I would follow Wade in asserting creativity would be the advances in science, technology, literature and music (aka classical). I would personally class the modernist movements such as cubism and the majority of rap as a descent into barbarism and stupidity. Can you really compare Little Wayne banging on about his “hoes” and shooting people, while backed by a simple beat to anything produced by Beethoven? really? or how about the rubbish excreted by the likes of Warhol and Picasso compared to any artist pre 1900?
      The leftist constant promotion of non European cultures (except East asian) is a like an attempt at “rubbing” peoples noses in practices with a sophistication which the west outgrew 2000+ years ago. It’s like a 24/7 attempt to punish use for our temerity to be more advanced.
      We must have equality! and if other can’t be pulled up, then others need to be pulled down.

      Science based on empiricism is not pseudo-science.”Science” based on marxist ideology is.

    • vieuxceps2

      Anyone who thinks that rap music and dance are examples of African culture stolen by Europeans has a low opinion of Africans and an even lower opinion of Europeans.

    • LucieCabrol

      Get the GCSE first mate.

  • roger

    It will be interesting to see how human evolution copes with the coming ‘pinch’ in the global population when it drops from 9 billion to a billion or so due to climate change.
    Sociology, anthropology and politics are not scientific, genetics and biochemistry are.

    • LucieCabrol

      Youve been reading too much ursula Leguin my friend.

  • alexander

    The link between wealthy and by association non-violent genes diffused into the general english population from 1200-1800 which in turn makes them less violent is laughable.

    Those same wealthy families would have been the descendants of the normans and the turncoat upper class segment of the english population which brutally inflicted violence upon the general population to get to the top and maintain their feudal aristocratic status as overlords.

    • pp22pp

      The high aristocracy also got itself killed in huge numbers in wars and palace feuds.

      • alexander

        And was in turn replaced by an aristocracy willing to use an increased or equal level of violence or an aristocracy that was better at violence and warfare to take their position.

        • LucieCabrol

          Its called people fighting for power…you are just as ruthless Alexander.

          • alexander

            Thank you for sharing your self-projected ruthlessness

          • LucieCabrol


    • LucieCabrol

      Not entirely true as the descendants of successful and wealthy back in 1200 would largely be related to everyone by now, the poor vanquished, not so much.

      • alexander

        I don’t quite understand how your response challenges my statement?

        • LucieCabrol

          Merely saying that the family is all one family…we are all related to Charlemagne…so just more ruthless parts of the same family, or maybe cleverer parts of the same family are the rulers.

          • alexander

            Yes go back far enough and we are all related and yes the more ruthless humans historically were at the top and have in turn conferred this historical advantage onto their descendants many of whom are still at the top at present due to the murderous deeds of their feudal overlord ancestors.

            I am arguing against Wades contention that wealthy genes are somehow less violent than peasant genes and by diffusing them into the general population from 1200-1800 it becomes less violent.

            If there is such a thing as a violent gene then the wealthy would possess this gene as compared to the general population as to get to the top they would have needed to be more violent. So diffusing this gene into the general population would not make it less violent.

  • Michael H Kenyon

    Fighters and fornicators who start having children earlier have more evolutionary fitness than educated late starting parents. And in any ecological niche other than the modern business world, the fighting-fornicating types are more likely to survive.

    • LucieCabrol

      Your view has a certain easy attraction but I suspect it only works on a micro scale; countries stuffed with that characteristic tend to get hit by the big events rather more severely….and thence their culture is set back heavily leaving the more socialised cooperative cultures to pull away from them.

  • salt_peter

    I rather like the way the article quietly stopped discussing the general influence of genetic changes through evolution and slithered into discussing the very recent social changes brought about firstly by the discovery of agriculture, and secondly by established dominants (especially in Britain) who found a way of making oodles of dosh by exploiting the energy stored in coal.

    Both discoveries changed the world for ever, and both happened too quickly to be the result of ant-like adaptation to change through evolution.

    Almost unnoticed, the article underhandedly conflated random selection with homo- sapiens’ ability to use the brain that propelled them all into the stone age.

    That is, the ability to make voluntary choices to shape the world to suit him rather than adapting to it, which is the opposite of evolution.

    Either that or (ignoring the invitation to eugenic bigotry) I missed the point of the article entirely.

    • Bonkim

      adaptation is part of the evolutionary process – those that don’t adapt and change perish.

      • littleted

        “adaptation is part of the evolutionary process – those that don’t adapt and change perish.”

        Which is precisely what has not happened to mankind over the last 15,000 years.

        Mankind adapted the environment to suit him, rather than the other way round.

        • Bonkim

          aend of the line soon – as populations explode and resources depleting fast. The accelerated process over the past 100 years has destroyed much of the resources, and environmental balance that kept it ticking as you say for 15,000 years – man has not adapted, simply moved away from the destruction to newer pastures – end of the line soon – give or take a century or two if not decades.

        • LucieCabrol

          Not entirely true..example…in Europe humans developed the process of brewing which they discovered stopped them getting infections due to the alcohol…thus light meads and similar were drunk , even by the very young. As a result those with intolerance to alcohol were generally not ‘selected for in the population.
          In the far east tea was the way the people went, boiling water which obviously didn’t need alcohol. As a result we have a difference in the two population groups…many chinese groups cannot process alcohol and go bright red very quickly when drinking….an evolved difference due to different circumstances and environment.

  • Terence Hale

    We must accept the new rules of racial pride and must call such people “non-whites” which replace hitherto Afro-American, Colored People, Darkies, Blacks, Negroes. All media must be revises to accept these new rule or face a fine of £5.

  • Terry Field

    It is plainly the case that there are pronounced differences in inherited characteristics in the many different population groups across the world. The article seems to state what we know to be true from our life experiences.
    It is clear and obvious that some groups cope better with advanced technical civilisation than others.
    There are clearly observable aptitudinal differences between the different groups that make up the human race, with very significant competence differences that we are aware of from daily experience.
    The most spectacular development differences are the subject of the most strident denial strategies of the intellectually threadbare social scientists and political polemicists.
    Ditching the codswallop that has propelled a hundred thousand dud careers has been an AWFUL long time coming.
    Thank god for genetics and real science, not cod-science made up by social and political dreamers for self-interest.

  • pyrosphere

    Of course race is a social construct. That doesn’t mean it’s meaningless, but it has practically little scientific use. The fact that race categories can be ascribed taxonomic significance doesn’t make race useful in making judgements about the intelligence of individuals. You are genetically more similar to your sibling than to your first cousin, and your first cousin than your second, etc. etc. all the way back to the common ancestor of all modern humans.

    You can establish an ancestral line at any of thousands of generations; the only reason race categories is given any special treatment is because of its history.as a convenient political and ideological tool for creating denominations of humans. We still use race categories so they are of course still relevant, even just as social constructs.

    Of course we’re always going to make more accurate judgements if we make judgements of individual capacities on the basis of smaller categories than larger ones. Judging an individual’s intelligence to determine an individual’s intelligence will yield more accurate results than passing judgements on the basis of taking an average to any category to which they belong. Especially considering no race as a monopoly on any given phenotype. Of course, race isn’t the only category we can pass judgements on the basis of either. We can make judgements on the basis of income and education and favorite film and color of pants one is most likely to wear on Thursday and any one of infinite categories we can bin any given individual into.

    It is also incorrect to assume that meaningful differences in selection has occurred on the basis of all genotypes dependent on one’s ecological niche, simply because we notice selection on the basis of some. Any two given humans are extremely similar across almost all phenotypes. There is evidence that ecological-niche-specific selection has occurred on traits relating to skin color, facial features, food digestion, disease resistance. But it is not right to extrapolate selection on the basis of some traits to all traits. That would certainly be observer bias; all humans are almost entirely indistinguishable across the vast majority of phenotypes.

    There is no evidence that intelligences were selected for differently. The full range of intelligences distinct to modern humans, exists in, and was thus selected for, in Africa. Africa too selected for the heights of human intelligence. It makes no sense to claim a given trait to be hereditary without reference; of course in less developed nations, the hereditary component of testing performance will be lower than more developed nations.

    For about a century, Vienna was the center of human enlightenment. It was an absolute powerhouse of creativity and innovation and general progress in the arts and sciences. What’s more, its population was less than 100,000 humans at the time. So what’s happened since then? Why doesn’t Vienna have the same or Delhi, India? Why doesn’t it have the same scientific productivity as Boston, US? Did Viennese become an intellectually inferior race? Did other races evolve to their level since then? More likely, other parts of the world simply caught on to some good ideas on how to run an economy, culture, academia, and government.

    According to the World Bank, the rate of poverty reduction in the developing world has been greater in the last 50 years than the last 500. During WW1, the average IQ of the US was estimated to be about 85; back when the US was ethnically much more Caucasian than today. An IQ of 85 is lower than the average for blacks in the US today. So did blacks and whites ‘evolve’ more?

    The people who cite the superiority of cities in some nations of others as evidence of racial superiority in some capacity remind me a bit of climate change deniers. “Global warming is a hoax! If the globe were warming, why was it so cold today morning?” This is a problem of perspective. Humans have been around for millions of years. Life has been around for billions of years. We are neither at the beginning nor end of human history. The ebb and flow of civilization over the last 500years or the 30 years since you were born, is too often a convenient tool for ‘just-so’ stories ever so carefully crafted to fit racist propaganda.

    • http://www.DNotice.org/ Dean Jackson

      “Why doesn’t Vienna have the same GDP as Delhi, India?”

      Because the European Central Bank is sabotaging net (new) productive investments via low interest rate policies, thereby starving capital formation for such new business enterprises. The same low interest rate policy is taking place with the Bank of England, Federal Reserve, and Bank of Japan, meaning the West’s (and Japan’s) economies are being sabotaged by an outside source. Who? Why who else…Moscow & Allies, of course.

    • KingOfGondor

      Eh? I bet Vienna has a much much higher GDP per capita than New Delhi, which has lots of poor people languishing in slums. Just comparing gross GDP is dumb.

  • pyrosphere

    “The researchers who gleaned this finding from the island’s parish
    records noted that the tendency to give birth at a younger age appeared
    to be heritable, confirming that a genetic change had taken place.”

    This is a very amateur assumption; enough to make one seriously question the competence of these researchers. Heritability is not genetic. Heritability is a measure of genetic variation out of total variation.

    100 years ago, graduating college was highly heritable, because almost all college students were male. Thus, having a college degree correlated strongly with chromosomal difference (presence of an X chromosome). Today, graduating college is not nearly as heritable. This isn’t because humans have evolved to carry the college-graduating gene more commonly on their y-chromosome or an autosome. In fact, this difference change heritability is not at all due to genetic difference.

    200 years ago, the chances of being born into slavery in the US was highly heritable in the same manner. Being a slave, however, is not a genetic trait.

    There are countless heritable traits with no direct genetic basis.

  • ohforheavensake

    Copying in a pretty devastating review of Wade’s work from Jonathan Marks, who, unlike Wade, is a scientist-

    The Genes Made Us Do It

    The new pseudoscience of racial difference.




    Where scholars see changes in ways of life, New York Times science journalist Nicholas Wade imagines mutations in genes and brains that led to changes in ways of life.

    Americans reject aspects of science—vaccinations, anthropogenic climate change, evolution—for diverse reasons. Sometimes those reasons are religious, sometimes economic, sometimes political. Segregationists in the early 1960s, for example, maintained that the American public was being led astray by a cabal of Communists, anthropologists and Jews, who were busily subverting the minds of students with insidious ideas about human equality. That was indeed the takeaway of a widely read 1961 book called Race and Reason by a segregationist named Carleton Putnam.

    Several decades later, those themes are given a new life in A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, by Nicholas Wade. It is not about segregation, of course; even racists have moved on. But it is a paranoid, anti-intellectual screed about how scientists are misleading you about race in order to set their own egalitarian political agenda, one that does not harmonize with Wade’s.

    The thesis of this book is that although culture is important, genetic microevolution (subtle genetic changes in a population over time) best explains the course of human history—from how we first settled down in villages, to the Industrial Revolution, to “the adaptation of the Jews to capitalism.” And since the author explains that he uses the term “adaptation” in the peculiarly narrow sense of “a genetically based evolutionary response to circumstances,” it is hard to make excuses for his choice of words. This is not about Jews “adapting” through high rates of literacy and exclusion from land ownership, but about having the right package of innate propensities.

    Nicholas Wade is a prominent science journalist who works for the New York Times, but—unlike what you may have come to expect from that profession—A Troublesome Inheritanceactually strives to invalidate the very science it is ostensibly about. That science is anthropology, and over the last century or so, it has demonstrated that whatever biological differences exist among human populations do not explain their social or cultural differences, which are the products of historical, not microevolutionary, forces.

    This is, obviously, something of a political landscape—or more precisely, a landscape of bio-politics, in which biology (or at least arguments that sound like biology) can be brandished for or against the welfare of certain classes of citizens. In times past—and not too far past, if you remember The Bell Curve (1994)—the argument went that social stratification in America was caused by innate intellectual differences, and consequently that government programs designed to assist the socially disadvantaged and to ameliorate economic inequality were useless and doomed to failure.

    It’s an old theme. Why aren’t you the Pharaoh? Because the Pharaoh is a better kind of being than you, with better ancestors and better innards. So Wade’s book is of a piece with a long tradition of disreputable attempts to rationalize visible class distinctions by recourse to invisible natural properties. The author repeatedly avows that his ideas are politically neutral, unlike those of the scientists he is busy repudiating. Yet the sources for many of his ideas about the history of society come from the political scientists Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington, and frankly, if you can’t tell that they have an ideological axe to grind, then you probably shouldn’t be writing books.

    Unlike The Bell Curve, however, which at least tried to disguise itself as a work of science, A Troublesome Inheritance has no such pretensions. It is entirely derivative, an argument made from selective citations, misrepresentations and speculative pseudo-science. But it will receive attention, and we need to pay it attention, because of The Bell Curve, which reintroduced scientific racism to a new generation in the guise of a statistical analysis of IQ scores. Twenty years and many critical tomes later, we know that just about every aspect of it was baloney. But the lesson is that when scholarship has to deal reactively with highly publicized and politicized pseudoscience, that’s trouble.

    Aggressively anti-science

    Wade believes that wide swaths of the human species are effectively homogeneous—genetically, mentally and socially. Thus, after adopting the quaint idea that there are five basic kinds of people, roughly corresponding to the continental regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania, Wade explains, “Chinese society differs profoundly from European society, and both are entirely unlike a tribal African society.” But this is anthropology of the early 19th century, when the best explanation for human diversity was that the sons of Noah had migrated to Lagos, Seoul and Oslo, respectively, and became fruitful and multiplied, forming three distinct human races. (Everyone else was conveniently explained away as somehow impure or inauthentic.)

    Wade is not wrong in noting that different groups of people have subtle genetic differences on account of their histories. Usually these are in nonfunctional parts of the genome, but very rarely, they occur in the functional genes themselves, which might therefore have some sort of effect on the form and structure of the body. This is not news; anthropologists have been trying to tabulate and understand the biological differences among peoples for many decades. Anthropologists eventually concluded that the human species does not come naturally packaged into a reasonably small number of reasonably discrete kinds of people (i.e., “races”); and that issues identified as “racial” are actually social, economic and political, with the associated biological variation being merely a convenient red herring. For example, the average size of people’s brains, which scientists a century ago loved to talk about, is simply irrelevant to a discussion of human rights—and we now know that brain size tracks body size far more closely than it tracks IQ score, in any event.

    So why talk about bodies and gene pools at all, when the subject is social and economic disparity? There is a lot of good, recent multi-disciplinary literature on the relationships among race, patterns of human variation, and modern genomics—for example, Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, edited by Barbara Koenig, Sandra Lee and Sarah Richardson; Genetics and the Unsettled Past, edited by Keith Wailoo, Alondra Nelson and Catherine Lee; Thicker Than Bloodby Tukufu Zuberi; Backdoor to Eugenics by Troy Duster; and Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts, to name just a few. But Wade has availed himself of none of these. Rather, he takes an enormous leap and speculates retrogressively that groups of people may simply differ in genes that affect personality and behavior. In his earlier book Before the Dawn (2007), Wade opined freely about the possible existence of ping-pong genes among the Chinese. Now he speculates about genetic propensities for violence among Africans, obedience in Chinese and capitalism in Jews. Mercifully, he stops short of inventing genes for basketball, laundry and stand-up comedy.

    It is when Wade ventures into evolutionary waters that his scholarly weaknesses become most evident. His presentation of evolutionary theory is reductive and freshman-level. It is hard to find a book on evolution today that fails to mention epigenetics—the ways in which DNA can be modified in direct response to the environment, and those DNA modifications can be stably transmitted—but this is one such book. Flexibility and reactivity are not in Wade’s evolutionary arsenal. To acknowledge the plasticity and adaptability of the human organism—which has framed most scientific work in human biology over the last century—would be to undermine Wade’s theme of the independent, unforgiving external world exacting its selective toll on the human gene pool.

    Unsurprisingly, for such a fundamentally anti-intellectual work, the writing is glib, the thought is superficial and the references are minimal. “Both religion and race are essential but strangely unexplored aspects of the human condition,” he explains, apparently oblivious to the quite extensive explorations of both subjects from many scholarly standpoints. But this permits him to make up the science as he goes along. In his chapter on “human social nature,” for example, we learn: “The urge to punish deviations from social norms is a distinctive feature of human societies.” Except that societies don’t have urges, of course. And the people who compose societies can rationalize, or get away with, all kinds of things. It is not merely that human social life involves rule-governed behavior; it is that rules are also there to be bent and circumvented, so that people can be both obedient and pragmatic simultaneously—which is why more thoughtful and knowledgeable writers don’t go quite so easily from the punishment of deviancy to the invention of a simple genetic module for it.

    Or a page later: “An inbuilt sense of morality evolved, one that gave people an instinctive aversion to murder and other crimes, at least against members of their own group.” If you think there’s an instinctive aversion to “murder and other crimes,” then you need to watch The Godfather again. (Sure, that was fiction, but so is this book, although less accurately labeled.) And if you try to weasel through with the phrase “their own group,” then you need to think about the formlessness, situation-dependence and hierarchical nature of a “group.” What constitutes “their own group”? The Corleones, the New York mob, Sicilian-Americans, urban immigrants, Americans or Earthlings? Group membership is actually quite flexible and, as we now say, constructed. And there certainly doesn’t appear to be any inborn aversion to lying, embezzling, insider trading, fraud, graft or usury—so on what basis can we reliably assert anything inborn about other particular crimes?

    When it comes to the antecedents of human society, Wade believes that chimpanzee society is ancestral to our own. Unfortunately, hardly any evolutionary primatologists today would agree with him. Instead, they believe that aspects of chimpanzee society, such as prominent female estrus displays, are quite singular among the apes, and thus not a useful model for a human precursor.

    When Wade speculates about human prehistory, he becomes entangled in contradictory fictions. He writes of the Paleolithic age:

    People as they spread out across the globe at the same time fragmented into small tribal groups. The mixing of genes between these little populations was probably very limited. Even if geography had not been a formidable barrier, the hunter-gatherer groups were territorial and mostly hostile to strangers. Travel was perilous. Warfare was probably incessant, to judge by the behavior of modern hunter-gatherers.

    Where to begin with such a hodge-podge of pseudo-prehistory? If we know hunter-gatherer groups are very mobile, and they were busily spreading, then on what basis do we suppose there was such limited mixing of genes? They certainly overcame the hostility, peril and warfare readily enough to do all that spreading, and a lot of trading as well. Trade was a critical and ubiquitous feature of early human ways of life. All over the world, archaeologists have discovered shells, feathers and raw materials from far away; and where goods flow, so do genes.

    In the Neolithic Age, a very interesting genomic time in Wade’s opinion, people began settling down and growing their own food. “Most likely a shift in social behavior was required,” he writes, “a genetic change that reduced the level of aggressivity common in hunter-gatherer groups.” Wait—what hunter-gatherer groups are we talking about here? And what do we know about their gene pools, or their levels of aggression? Of course people’s behavior changed when they settled down in villages. But where scholars see changes in ways of life, Wade imagines mutations in genes and brains that led to changes in ways of life.

    Radical idiocy

    Speculative genetic explanations for social phenomena have an old and undistinguished history, some of which Wade reviews superficially, presumably to demonstrate his skill at reviewing topics superficially. The common thread, though, is that such explanations have always been (1) put forward to establish a bio-political point, to draw imaginary limits around the social progress of certain human groups; (2) accompanied by the dissimulation that they are not political statements, but merely value-neutral science; and (3) false.

    However, any thoughtful person can enumerate all kinds of reasons to think that the general behavioral propensities of large groups of people have evolved to be roughly the same. First, human evolution has been principally the evolution of adaptability, not of adaptation; that is to say, we evolved to be intellectually flexible, not static. Second, in concert with that understanding of human evolution, immigrant studies show that people can fully adopt any different way of life in a generation or two. Names change, accents disappear and economic advancement over time seems to make the newcomers look just a bit less alien and threatening. Third, we tend to solve our problems principally technologically these days, and have been doing so for quite a while, and that is not a function of mental propensity, but of social process.

    To be fair, Wade has an underlying model, derived from the work of a radical hereditarian economist named Gregory Clark. Wade summarizes:

    [The late Medieval English] rich had more surviving children than did 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. … Moreover, the behaviors emerge gradually over several centuries, a time course more typical of an evolutionary change than a cultural change.

    From the (social Darwinist) presumption of genetic differences in the capabilities of the British social classes, Wade tracks “nonviolence, literacy, thrift and patience” into the lower classes via gene flow.

    This is a slightly new spin on a set of old prejudices, but hardly science, much less modern or value-free science.

    History is not an organic property. That is to say, if you want to understand our world, the stuff inside peoples’ heads (neurons and genes) seems to be much less important than the stuff between people’s heads (social relations and cultural forms)—and even Wade acknowledges this throughout. “Genes … can be overwhelmed by learned behavior, or culture,” he writes. He notes “the vast power of culture to shape human social behavior…” and reiterates later that “culture is a mighty force, and people are not slaves to innate propensities.” Kind of makes you wonder why he bothered to write this book at all. Disclaimers like these suggest that Wade hasn’t even got the guts to own his ideas. If the influence of culture has been so mighty and vast, then it stands to reason that that is what you should be reading books about; not this one. Wade’s labor has effectively been to fabricate a small tail to wag a mighty big dog.

    There is little to recommend here. This book is as crassly anti-science as any work of climate-change denial or creationism. And like those odd birds, Wade adopts a radical relativism of expertise. Sure, all the relevant experts say one thing, but he’s going to tell you the truth.

    It’s a sad day for the profession of science journalism.

  • cartimandua

    We do know that humans are intersubjective and that a baby will regulate its hormonal states in relation to the Mother in a feedback loop.
    Perhaps another problem for tribal societies is the “village raising a child”.

  • Fargo Wells

    Patriots and Citizens: Slice through the illusions conjured up by clowns like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • pearlsandoysters

    There’s a good story to illustrate some points. In the 20th century Japanese government invited ethnic Japanese to relocate from Brazil to Japan, which some ethnic Japanese duly did. However, it turned out that they were so “Brazilian” in terms of “culture” that it was deemed necessary to provide them with a means to move back to Brazil; they were a way too expressive and emotional which goes against Japanese social mores. So, ethnicity failed miserably and culture reigned supreme in this particular empirical example.

    • KingOfGondor

      Yeah, it undercuts Wade’s argument, don’t you think?

      • pearlsandoysters

        It does in fact. Culture is a highly ambiguous concept, however the racial determinism is absolutely unacceptable because it nullifies that we all are “political animals” and happen to belong to particular societies and absorb the rules that govern them, sometimes without reflections or reservations. Stoics would have it that we are collections of the wrong preconceptions by the time we are adults. Society is much more powerful way to foster social mores than the gens.

  • mikewaller

    I think that evolutionary psychology has the potential to tell us far more about ourselves than perhaps we would like to hear; yet as our evolved natures incline us towards behaviours deeply destructive to ourselves, our kind and the planet as a whole, I think it crucial that such explanations are heard. For example, we need to understand the evolutionary underpinnings of our wholly illusory sense of self and the reason why we are so hag driven to relatively better than the Joneses.

    Given this, dragging this wonderful new science into the tired old quagmire of inter-racial comparisons seems to me highly counterproductive.

    P.S. Can anybody explain to me why “the age of first conception” can safely be assumed to be a heritable trait? Certainly daughters may be able to pressurise mum into agreeing to an earlier marriage of the daughter than mum would have like, by saying “Well what age were you when you married dad?”; but that doesn’t make the trait heritable in a biological sense.

  • ohforheavensake

    i notice there’s no mention of epigenetics here: you should read into it, Nicholas- it’s very interesting.

    Basically, it’s a branch of biology that traces the way social organisation triggers genetic changes. Apparently, our genes get triggered only in relation to the society we inhabit; so, rather than societies exhibiting genetic traits, genetic traits change quickly, as society changes.

    Which effectively disproves your argument. Sorry about that.

    • pp22pp

      I’ sure Mr Wade knows what is meant by epigenetics. It’s a straw die-hard Lysenkoists like to cling on to.

  • Picquet

    Rather destroys the argument that “diversity” is a Good Thing; not to say that homogeneity is any better, but certainy unity, and specifically unity of purpose is the natural and most desirable trait. This also applies to the much maligned label “Normal”, of course.

  • fitz fitzgerald
  • KingOfGondor

    Many important features of today’s world lack explanation.

    Not really, there have been a lot of explanations put out. It’s just that you (Wade) choose to ignore or reject all of them and choose to posit a genetics-only explanation.

  • Andrew Penman

    Great article. I recently finished working on a short animated documentary that covers similar issues. Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4-Od8cq5Gk