Nicholas Wade’s *A Troublesome Inheritance*

Overall I was disappointed by my read of this book and I write that as someone who very much has liked Wade’s NYT pieces on similar topics.  I appreciated the honesty and courage of the work, but I felt Wade needed to have pushed deeper in book-length form.

For instance the discussion of intelligence and its evolution should have been drenched in the Flynn Effect.  It wasn’t.  The first few chapters didn’t cut to the chase quickly enough.

Wade makes a big mistake arguing that “race” is a coherent concept.  Surely that is a semantic issue which cannot move his case forward much, but can hurt it if he fails to establish his claims.

There is much I admire about Greg Clark’s (previous) book, but Wade doesn’t seem to realize Clark has hardly any evidence in support of his “genetic origins of capitalism” thesis.

The word “Denisovan” didn’t appear nearly enough.

We are told that Ashkenazim Jews may have sacrificed visual and spatial skills for other forms of (superior?) intelligence, but what about all the great Soviet Jewish chess players and mathematicians?  And did the shtetl really have so many more centuries of capitalistic training to offer than did say Istanbul?  I’m not suggesting anyone is required to answer these questions, but once you start playing the generalization game — especially on this particular topic — one ought to spend a lot of time picking up or at least recognizing all these loose ends and indeed there are many of them.

Had Kindle not tracked the percentage so accurately, I would have been surprised when the book ended.

Ross Douthat offers some remarks and links to a few other reviews.  VerBruggen had a good take on the book.  Arnold Kling is reading it too.  Here is Andrew Gelman’s review.

Overall reading this book didn’t budge my priors, which I suppose means…it did in fact budge my priors.


How much does a book need to budge your priors for it to not have in fact budged your priors?

We are told that Ashkenazim[sic] Jews may have sacrificed visual and spatial skills for other forms of (superior?) intelligence, but what about all the great Soviet Jewish chess players and mathematicians? And did the shtetl really have so many more centuries of capitalistic training to offer than did say Istanbul?

Yes, it did. From the period of the 800s toward the 1500s Ashkenazi Jews didn't live in the agricultural shtetl communities, most lived in urban areas.

Those committed to the orthodoxy will remain committed, those that are not will remain convinced race matters. This book isn't going to change anyone's mind. I think the point is that this perspective is written by someone who can't be easily denounced as a racist thus at the very least the actual material can be evaluated.

Just to summarize the thread for outsiders who happen to stumble into this thread. Any book that supports the superiority of MR readers will be supported by extensive argumentation by same MR commenters, anyone (TC) not aligning themselves intellectually with the position that the race of MR commenters is superior to others are anti-intellectual idiots.

I, and people like me, have been hearing this same self serving arguments for hundreds of years, describing in the latest "scientific" terms why your superior to me. Argument has never been the same. BUT, the conclusion always has.

That's why I'm still on the fence, although as the arguments chase down their prey more vigorously each cycle, I'm slowly coming around to that conclusion "that you are more superior than my race......or whatever I am, and you are"

although there's this pesky stat that always catches my eye (in fact it's the first thing I look at when the thread subject touches on race).... Whenever the post is about race it will garner 100+ comments EVERY time. By far the most on average of ANY MR topic... If I was from a more intelligent race, I would suspect that this reflected very strong priors in the MR commentsphere on a subject that touches on the crucial near and dear topic of social positioning.

But hey, this group is to intelligent and to well educated to succumb to something as dumb as anything like that.

One should acknowledge differences without automatically jumping to inferior-superior conclusions.

Sorry, stopped reading after "your superior"

Much of modern art can be attributed to the mediocre visuo-spatial intelligence of Ashkenazi Jewish artists.

It's less the fault of the artists than of the critics and art dealers, as Tom Wolfe explained so amusingly in 1975 in "The Painted Word."

Much of modern art can be attributed to the CIA.

By the way, I've never seen anybody ask Tom Wolfe if he had any ties to the CIA. Wolfe got his Ph.D. at Yale in the American Studies department, which was pretty much ground zero for CIA recruiting.

That's an intriguing question. You may also recall that Wolfe was assigned by the Washington Post to cover Cuba. He consistently down plays that time in his life and rarely mentions any of his work there.

Yes, although he talked about his days in Cuba a little while promoting his Miami novel and it seemed pretty bland. But it's still pretty interesting to speculate upon.

How many writers were CIA connected? The late Peter Matthiesen started up the Paris Review to give him some kind of justification for his CIA job. He claimed that George Plimpton didn't know about the CIA link, but I like to think that some of my tax dollars went to fund George Plimpton's lifestyle, which makes me happier than most of the other things my tax dollars have been spent on.

How much did WFB remain linked to the CIA after his year with the CIA in Mexico? Irving Kristol?

I don't know where Wade's getting the notion that Ashkenazim genetics sacrificed spatial skills. I think the consensus is that the genetic tradeoff made for higher symbolic intelligence came from physical attributes, not other mental ones. You see plenty of Jewish chess players, but not many athletes.

Consider golf course architecture, one of the most 3-dimensional of the minor arts. Although it's likely that a higher percentage of Jews than gentiles belonged to country clubs for most of the 20th Century, I'm not aware of any Jewish golf course architects until the 21st Century

Sure, but consider the possibility that the typical American Jewish male is of average gentile spatial intelligent and +1SD symbolic intelligence. If so gentiles would still have a comparative, but not absolute, advantage in pursuits heavily loaded on spatial reasoning. You'd expect Jews to be underrepresented even though they're equally talented with regards to this ability.

I realize my reasoning could be applied to the same point I made about athletics. But the underrepresentation at high levels of sports is more indicative of an absolute disadvantage. There's very few jobs that come with as much prestige and status as professional athletes. So anyone with physical high giftedness would probably pursue it regardless of his other talents.

You often see those Jews who have outstanding visual cognitive skills (e.g., Einstein, Feynman, Kubrick, Spielberg) rising to the very top of their highly competitive fields.

"So anyone with physical high giftedness would probably pursue it regardless of his other talents. "-
Unless you are Becker and chose Math club over Handball.

Probably attributable to diminishing marginal returns to intelligence sub-types. Someone with +3SD symbolic intelligence and +2SD spatial intelligence is probably going to be more successful than someone with +5SD symbolic and baseline spatial. Since Jews already start at higher symbolic you'd expect Jewish success to be more heavily loaded on spatial intelligence relative to gentiles.

Psychologist Leon Kamin, one of the co-authors with Lewontin and Rose of "Not in Our Genes," is roughly +4SD symbolic intelligence and -2SD visuo-spatial intelligence. A professor who was one of his grad students told me that Kamin doesn't really believe that anybody actually finds diagrams informative. He suspects that all claims to reason visually are just some kind of Emperor's New Clothes fraud.

Doug, I don't think you are right about Sport. To excel in a sport you have to put a lot of time and effort into it, usually at around the same age that people are trying to get into University. That's frowned on in some cultures, nobody loves cricket more than Sri Lankans, but Lankan immigrants in Australia will tell their kinds to study first, and play cricket as time allows. In fact most parents of any community would say the same thing, but some will be more relaxed than others. I am guessing that American Jews are in the less relaxed part of the spectrum.

Question on symbolic vs. spatial intelligence. In rough terms, would it be fair to say that Newton was more spatial and Leibniz more symbolic? Or in general, that geometry is spatial and algebra is symbolic?

Just trying to grok.

@Brian, I'd say your distinction is a pretty accurate one.

Golf course architecture? Are you serious?

First, I'd like to see the backup for your claim, especially counting only clubs that had courses, which many did not.

More important, you are aware, I trust, that whatever the membership statistics most clubs would not accept Jewish members. What makes you think they would have hired Jewish golf course architects?

Finally, how many golf club architects are you aware of?

More important, you are aware, I trust, that whatever the membership statistics most clubs would not accept Jewish members.

Most people weren't Jewish, so you're going to need a lot more than that if you want to address Steve's claims regarding relative percentages. By the way, Jews actually started many country clubs of their own that would not accept non-Jewish members..

Finally, how many golf club architects are you aware of?

Uh.. I suspect you may not have seen Steve's writing before outside of MR comments.

Frankly, I'm as ignorant as you re. golf course architecture. Speaking out of ignorance, I would imagine that you need to work up a bit of a reputation on the lower levels to get a contract to do a course that golf course aficionados would be aware of. So not surprised that while the most famous of the Jewish-only country clubs, Hillcrest, has a golf course.. it was designed by a Scotsman. I would imagine that making your mark as a golf course architect might involve creating some less illustrious courses in some rural areas, which gentiles would probably be in a better position to accomplish.That said, there must have lived many Jews with the requisite talents to build a good course in the past few centuries. It seems unfortunate that at least one of the Jewish-only clubs did not give such a person their patronage.

"Finally, how many golf club architects are you aware of?"

I could probably name at least one golf course designed by each of 75 to 125 different architects. And there are hundreds of people who know more about golf course architecture than I do. I would guesstimate a thousand books have been published on the subject in English since Charles Darwin's grandson Bernard Darwin published the first one in 1910. I only own a few dozen.

As for Jews and country clubs, yes, I know all the stereotypes, like how the Wolf of Wall Street guy explained his firm's crimes on the grounds that he and and his employees' grandfathers weren't let into the right country clubs. But I've found an Anti-Defamation League study from the early 1960s on the subject of country clubs, and it's quite eye-opening. The history turns out not to be much like the legend. I'll write it up someday.

Right, there were major advantages in the golf course architecture business to having a Scottish sounding or at least English sounding name: Charles Blair MacDonald, Donald Ross, Alister Mackensie, Robert Trent Jones, etc.

And there were some advantages in being a small town boy -- Pete Dye's dad built himself a 9-hole course on his farm -- although the bigger advantage was in being rich, both for social contacts and being able to travel to Scotland to study the great courses.

Jewish country clubs hosted the US Open and PGA in the 1920s and 1930s, but they apparently stopped hosting major championships when the civil rights era came along. The 1962 PGA championship was supposed to go to Brentwood in SoCal, but the state attorney general started asking questions about why there were no black members, so the members dumped hosting the PGA, and Jewish clubs in general stopped volunteering to host big tournaments like they did before WWII. I believe Quaker Ridge, where George Gershwin played to a 10 handicap, has hosted the low key Walker Cup amateur tournament, but in general the great Jewish clubs have maintained a very low profile in the world of golf since the beginning of the Civil Rights Era.

Bradley Klein of GolfWeek has successfully campaigned to get several deserving Jewish clubs such as Fenway on the Top 100 lists -- until recently they just weren't on the radar screens because they are so quiet.

Anyway, the oldest observation among professional country club managers is that Jewish clubs made most of their money off the dining room and gentile clubs made most of their money off the bar.

Yeah, but Sandy Koufax made up for all of it....

Explain the early NBA, which was overrepresented.

Wade does not want to be bunking with Steve Sailer and John Derbyshire so excessive caution is to be expected. The keepers of public morals are swarming and they make few exceptions. If Murray was trying to publish the Bell Curve today, he would find no takers. I don't blame public intellectuals for keeping their heads down. Unless you have tenure, the risk is too high.

I look forward to reading it, but I have low expectations.

Well the sort of anti-immigration stuff you and Steve Sailer post is just not helpful to the future of this country. Very counter-productive. Frankly I don't believe there's some big conspiracy against intellectuals who say things you like it's just that the evidence is slim to nill so it would be careless to make such claims.

No conspiracy against Watson, Richwine, and others?

Not very convincing

Please don't use this username for non-satirical discussions, it's disappointing when I expect to be entertained and get let down.

Are 100 years of intelligence tests, twin studies, adoption studies, studies of regression to the mean, brain scans and just plain old observation not sufficient?

The hereditarians are arguing a simple point, with overwhelming evidence, that does not rely on conspiracy theory, god-of-the-gaps or accusing anyone who disagrees with them of hate crimes. The problem is a lack of intellectual honesty from people who should know better.

We need to wait for more data about the Flynn Effect. Yeah right.

BTW, anybody notice that reviews of unpopular books are always the same? "I really was expecting more from Mearshimer and Walt. Too bad, I was expecting more from Nicholas Wade. Unfortunately, despite a promising start, Charles Murray failed to deliver . . . " I guess "kill them with disappointment" is considered more effective.

A classic example of this is Tyler's snippy 2009 review of Cochran and Harpending's "The 10,000 Year Explosion:"

We shouldn't be too hard on Tyler -- unlike most people, over time he learns.

My take on Tyler's brief review is that he felt he had to comment, but he would rather have a colonoscopy than talk about this topic. I don't blame him or any public person for avoiding banned topics. But, you point is well taken. The bad review of taboo material seems to follow a formula.

Tyler values his comments section as a place where his regulars can alert economists to new ideas while he maintains Plausible Deniability. That's a valuable service he performs.

Perhaps the other side is not saying that it is wrong but that admitting it has the potential to produce very bad results. Does one tell another that they are fat even if they are?

@ MR Commentor,

1. In theory it seems unsurprising that natural selection would favor different traits in different cultures and environments.

2. That is exactly what you see in terms of phenotypes.

3. Genomic evidence is actually emerging of group differences. eg Piffer (2014).

No sane person cares about the future of a "country". Normal and healthy people care about their nations, and -- since immigration is the replacement of a nation by foreigners, in whole or in part -- all normal and healthy people oppose it.

Who needs conspiracy when you have a confederacy of dunces?

"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."

He might find plenty, scientific racism or racialism or whatever isn't as persecuted as people assume. There's plenty of uses of classifying and lumping people and trying to generalize whatever within behavioral genetics, scientists aren't as persecuted as you think.

I'm gonna leave it at that but somehow internet politics has taken up some fictional mantle of fighting some imaginary leftist academic conspiracy within the field of genetics. The people you are defending, the "public intellectuals" don't even have any training or real contribution to the field, they are just people capable of reading science papers more or less.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Genetics, and the Word was Genetics.

I guess you haven't heard but in fact the bird is the word, the bird.

Why are you writing about a book whose author's name isn't Piketty?

I offer here a more coherent semantic concept of race than the traditional one espoused by Wade:

Oh! That sounds so cute.

Theoretical physicist and BGI Cognitive Genomics member Steve Hsu's post on race remains one of the best.

Chu is an experimentalist. At least that's what he got his Nobel for.

Different person. Chu, Hsu.

For instance the discussion of intelligence and its evolution should have been drenched in the Flynn Effect.

LOL. Evolution is probably faster than we think but it ain't that fast. Devolution, on the other hand ...

Lots of issues with Flynn's thesis, Tyler. Even a cursory reading of Wiki is enough to spot them.

Devolution, on the other hand …

Is evolution

Well- yes- in the same sense that changes in the genus Canis are evolution.

Give me a wolf over a cowering village mutt any day.

Why? Dogs are a far more successful population. They're somewhat symbiotic, but so are humans when you get right down to it. I'll take the life of a farm dog over a reintroduce wolf trying to eat livestock in Wyoming.

I don't really think Wade fleshes out his arguments with enough science in some sections. Greg Cochran on his blog notes there are some errors places as well.

One of the factual issues is with him tossing the whole eugenics movement under the bus in order to build ethos with politically correct leftists (and increasingly libertarians too). I understand the need to ethically distance yourself from the excesses of the eugenics movement, but he overlooks the fact that a lot of what they said was factually correct. A number of recent papers support the idea that genotypic intelligence is falling, even while test scores were rising due to environmental improvements.

Also, I wish Tyler would stop bringing up the Flynn effect, It doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

Wade ignores the topic of race and IQ, even though it's actually much more scientifically established than personality difference research between populations. He cites Ron Unz at one point on this, even though Unz has been debunked. I am aware that he couldn't have published this book if he discussed this in any detail.

I still don't understand Tyler's rating system though. The book is much more rigorous than a great deal of the social science/humanities books than Tyler usually recommends. I thought it was a pretty entertaining book; despite it being watered down sociobiology.

I agree with many of your points, especially that the Flynn effect is widely misunderstood and probably not terribly important anyway, but you lose me with phrases like "Unz has been debunked". I think you mean to say that "many people take issue with some/many of Unz's points", but to blanket-dismiss him in that way is like when Slate or Salon or Mother Jones says e.g. that The Bell Curve has been "largely debunked", i.e. nothing to see here, move along folks.

> A number of recent papers support the idea that genotypic intelligence is falling
That's something I think the average Salon/Slate/Mother-Joneser really has no inkling of. And there I don't mean only the recent buzz about "we are less intelligent than the Victorians", which finding is still contested in IQ circles, but more the idea of dysgenic IQ trends in general. Most people would assume that the "average" IQ in the world is still 100, but it's much more likely about 88, or even 85, seeing as lower IQ people have many more kids than do high IQ people, and this rend seems to be accelerating. Idiocracy is basically a real thing,

Most people would assume that the “average” IQ in the world is still 100, but it’s much more likely about 88, or even 85, seeing as lower IQ people have many more kids than do high IQ people, and this rend seems to be accelerating.

In the US, it seems that the big fertility transformations amongst the intelligent / rich happened in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and then they've kind of hung around having 1-2 kids since then, while the less intelligent / poor have more slowly been reducing fertility. Peak "dysgenics" was probably when people were talking about it most.

So the trend is not accelerating, but deaccelerating.

Well, yes, but if you were offered a loan of a large sum of money with interest starting at 50% p.a., declining by 1% over the next 30 years until it reached 20% and stayed there, would you take it?

The situation is bad enough in the US, but if you look at the could go through a fifth of the world's most fecund nominal 'nations' before getting to one where a person who was nice- rather than rational and in need of a bit of labour- would bring a child into the world. And you don't hit nations with a national IQ of >90 or so until about a third of the way down. Those nations are France and Israel. Anyone who thinks the birthrates of those two countries aren't vastly dysgenic doesn't know the first thing about them.

I'll just leave this here.

That XKCD comic is incredibly relevant- though perhaps not for the reasons you or Randall think it is.

When the people pointing out the problems are shouted down by people who only tangentionally address the problems- by denying them based on utter nonsense spewed by politically motivated academics- it doesn't mean that the shouting side 'wins'. It only means the shouting side has screwed us all.

"A number of recent papers support the idea that genotypic intelligence is falling, even while test scores were rising due to environmental improvements."

do you have an example of one?

5 seconds on google:

That paper says genotypic IQ is falling (like 1 point over 50 years), but that phenotypic IQ is not increasing.

No way in hell am I googling those search terms.

"A number of recent papers support the idea that genotypic intelligence is falling, even while test scores were rising due to environmental improvements."

Assuming it is true, so what? Suppose musical talent is partly genetic and it turns out musically untalented people tend to marry each other and have more children than musically talented people. Yet, if we were to observe a growing number of musical geniuses in our society or a higher level of talent in music programs, orchestras, etc., that ought to suggest there is no real cause for alarm as the interaction of genes and environment would be more than compensating for any alleged dysgenic trend. Likewise, if you claim intelligence is falling but that this decline is difficult if not impossible to measure, maybe the problem is with your model of intelligence and the relative insignificance of supposed genotypic intelligence.

So what indeed. Who cares if people are getting intrinsically less capable. As long as we have this sustainable errrr.... successful errrr.... education system to indoctrinate errrrr.... educate them, we should be fine.

The claim is that the decline is real and that is is measurable. What we lose is future potential. Music may still be good, but not as good as it could have been.

I'd say Sailer nailed it. Hedgehog vs fox.

Here's my review of "A Troublesome Inheritance:"

It is not a compliment, steve.

However, you should look at how well the taxonomy of the 19th century has held up to genetic evidence for other animals.

Held up pretty darn well. The correspondence is particularly strong for mammals.

Right. Linnaeus did a remarkable job setting up the categories, considering he was doing it before the theory of evolution came along.

I can't say much about a book I haven't read, and this review hardly makes me want to shell out the $15.

But it seems to me two very different topics are being conflated into one.

The first of those two topics is the need to update the widely used 19th century concept of "race". The discovery of DNA in the 1950s should have led to a revolution in the concept of race, but instead the topic became a sort of intellectual taboo. While politically correct academics insisted "race" didn't exist at all, the general population and even governments carried on using old concepts of broad racial groups such as "Caucasian" long after they had been scientifically disproved.

It's ironic that political correctness shunned discussion of DNA and race because the science of DNA actually disproves racism. We now know from the observable rate of mutations that evolution proceeds very slowly, and the characteristics that separate perceived "races", such as skin color, hair texture and color and nose height, evolve relatively rapidly in response to climate. Before the discovery of DNA, it seemed plausible given the huge technological advantages enjoyed by Europe and its colonies that white people had evolved superior traits living in relatively civilized conditions over the past several thousand years. Racism was considered science. We now know that Europeans descend mainly from people who were living in conditions in northern Europe that were as primitive as those in sub-saharan Africa until as recently as the classical era. We also know thanks to study of DNA and its mutation rate that the couple thousand years since then is simply too short for significant evolution to have occurred.

As DNA studies advance it's inevitable that we will gain a much better understanding of how the world's races divided and mixed and divided and mixed over the course of the past tens of thousands of years. This too is a political minefield. It will be possible to scientifically demonstrate that the Sicilian race really was dramatically changed by interbreeding with the Moors. It will be possible to demonstrate that the Russians are not closely related to other Slavs but are in fact mostly descended from Finno-Ugrian peoples. The Hungarians and Romanians will be equally deeply displeased with what their DNA teaches them about their ancestry, if they ever get the guts to confront the facts. For now DNA population study is still in very early stages, and the inventors of silly and often bigoted national mythologies are more active interpreting the threadbare evidence than are serious scientists.

The second of those two topics is how much behavior and intelligence depend on race.
That's a legitimate question, but science hasn't really got very far yet towards answering it. Just reading the brief description on Amazon, this review and the comments, I get the impression this book takes a very lazy, speculative approach based on stereotypes and misnomers. European Jews evolving a genetic affinity for capitalism during at most a couple thousand years in which they were somewhat more likely to be traders than the rest of the European population? That obviously is not based on any DNA or other empirical evidence. Sounds like the sort of uninformed guessing that gave us the theory of the Caucasian race.

You are about 15 years behind the times in terms of current science.

@ SS - no doubt you are aware of and implicitly referring to the 70s to 80s era experiments that showed natural selection in bird populations in Central America in a few generations, and a more recent one involving guppies in the same region? But humans, unlike birds or guppies, can learn and hence environment is more important than you think. Further, though this is more controversial, in a speculative post I posted on Usenet years ago, I showed even Lake Tanganyika cichlids can, "neo-Lamarckian" style, affect evolution (in a nutshell, cichlids sometimes favor certain colored fish over others, it becomes a 'fad', and these fish become prominent more so than either natural selection or random mutations would predict; the phenotype of course is correlated to the genotype. It has been shown that the different colors have no effect on survival, and these colors, like fashion statements, come and go over time).

You sordid little racist. LOL. Not sordid, that was just flame bait.

Also see this on your much vaunted "science": (SS and Adolf have something in common)

The differences are much more than skin color? There is different body structure as well. Denying that any changes could've taken place in the brain is willful ignorance.

Dog breeds have differential intelligence and behavior traits, differing human races are at least as different as dog breeds, therefore it remains completely plausible that there could be differential intelligence and behavior traits between human races. Sure humans can adapt but they are still limited by their base genetic abilities. One only needs to look at the pervasive education gap, IQ gap, income gap etc. to see their are real differences. One could further look at the history of nations and peoples and see very clearly that the makeup of the people matters. Or one could come up with a bunch of contrived bs to ignore what's right in front of their eyes in order to be a cool pc status seeker.

But humans, unlike birds or guppies, can learn and hence environment is more important than you think.

That is the current debate. Environment boosters have overplayed their hand, and given us public policy based on such. We shall see if there are any corrective mechanisms in policy making, but the Cathedral is strong.

I can't tell if I'm LOLing over referencing Wikipedia or "a speculative post on Usenet".

And apparently birds can't learn? That sounds like some ground breaking science. You must tell the people who research the learned behaviour of birds about this.

" the couple thousand years since then is simply too short for significant evolution to have occurred"
Are you high? 2000 years = 80 generations (assuming people having kids at an average age of 25). If you were to selectively breed 80 generations of dogs for a trait such as size or aggressiveness, don't you think that would lead to some pretty substantial results? Likewise, if (some) humans have breeding selectively for that long (say, Ashkenazi Jews), wouldn't that have a similar effect? Or can you not even go there, intellectually? Too soon?

You should shell out the $15 and buy the book. You will see a lot has changed. Or you can just google a bit:

Here is a review of many studies showing the Hungarians what their ancestry is:

Here is one for the Russians:

There are many more studies for every population you can think of.

A couple of thousand years is too short for significant evolution? We have definitely evolved since the populations separated into different regions. For example, the agenesis of wisdom teeth ranges from nearly 0% for Tasmanians all the way to nearly 100% in indigenous Mexicans.

Another one is lactase persistance which is as recent as 5,000 years ago and the allele frequency for this trait varies wildly around the world too.

Studying the genetics of recent human evolution is a fairly robust field these days. It isn't even a field really, it is just Biology. Mr. Wade could probably write a new book on this topic every year and the material would be fresh each time.

Believe it or not, eighty generations is a very short time on the evolutionary scale. The natural survival and mating selection of humans obviously can't be compared to managed breeding of domestic animals.

Your example of lactose tolerance only proves my point. This is the only seemingly recently evolved trait that anyone has so far come up with. Some of you are claiming it's only 5000 years old, though you have no scientific grounds for that, and my guess is it's four to ten times that old. It has very gradually spread from northern Europe, and the main reason for its spread is not its own benefit, but the coincidental success of northern Europeans in conquering much of the world. That success had mainly to with physical size and meat in the diet, and is much the same story as the parallel spread of western Africans across sub-Saharan Africa, without lactose tolerance.

The khazaria links also only confirm what I wrote, especially that such studies are at very early stages.


I'm no expert, but obviously the "races" however you want to define them differ in very significant ways that are not just "skin deep". For example, the very well known medical differences, e.g. susceptibility to different genetic diseases, differing responses to treatments, etc.

You seem to take things too far in the opposite direction. Lactose tolerance, sickle cell anemia and a recent gene discovered in Tibetans that controls hemoglobin levels all vary between populations and plausibly emerged in recent times. Lactose tolerance is high not just among Northern Europeans but also Mongolians and Central Asians and lower among Chinese and lower still in the far south of China and Southeast Asia -- google around for the lactose tolerance map of Eurasia and Africa. It seems pretty plausible that lactose tolerance co-evolved along with the selective breeding of dairy mammals and that the genetic mutation may well have occurred independently in different parts of the world.

1. Lactose tolerance evolved more than once -- it's present in parts of Africa as well as northern Europe, and in places that can't be explained by European admixture. (Side note: what's up with the Masai? They apparently show up as lactose-intolerant on tests, but their diet relies on large amounts of milk.)

2. Some traits are even more recent than lactose tolerance.

Everything substantive you said here is basically wrong. The traits you claim were selected for in response to things like climate were not for almost all human populations. Sexual selection and population effects accounting for fast spread, that's possible. Then the other things you said "can't evolve that fast" can.

Your example of lactose tolerance only proves my point. This is the only seemingly recently evolved trait that anyone has so far come up with. Some of you are claiming it’s only 5000 years old, though you have no scientific grounds for that, and my guess is it’s four to ten times that old.

The domestication of cattle took place 10,000 years ago at the earliest, and hunter-gatherers and early pastoralists and farmers did not have the allele for lactase persistence. This is confirmed by research on the DNA of early Neolithic Europeans. The DNA data are consistent with strong recent selection on lactase persistence in Europeans. Aside from the Europeans, there are other peoples that have long had a dairy-based diet, such the Tutsi and the Fulani, and these peoples also have high rates of lactase persistence. Lactase persistence is not a unique phenotype in this sense, as there are lots of evidence for recent natural selection in humans.

Believe it or not, eighty generations is a very short time on the evolutionary scale. The natural survival and mating selection of humans obviously can’t be compared to managed breeding of domestic animals.

80 generations is plenty of time, and selection does not even need to be that strong. For quantitative traits (i.e., most traits), the response to selection, R, is simply R = h^2*S where h^2 is additive heritability and S is the average difference between the parent generation and the selected parents. For example, if h^2=0.5 and S=0.025 SD (i.e., the mean of selected parents is 0.025 SD above the parental mean in each generation), the population mean for the trait in question will rise by 1 standard deviation in 80 generations.

Tom, you would greatly benefit from reading Wade's book or Cochran and Harpending's "The 10,000 Year Explosion" where these issues are explained.

Once again Tyler punts on race. Beneficial for his bank account and social calender. Detrimental to our public discourse.

"Matt Yglesias wonders how, in a world that requires technical skill and social skills, those of us in the room have survived. It seems that most work for think tanks, newspapers, and other non-profits. Tyler replies that our presence in the room is indicative of marketing skills. Each of us has proven adept at marketing, with wealthy donors as our consumers in most cases."

But not that detrimental, unfortunately . . .

Did Tyler Cowen only read the first half of Clark's book ? His thesis is NOT that the British became genetically capitalist, but that Europeans (NW Europeans?) became genetically capitalist. He chose England as the case study because the data on the "survival of the richest" was most complete there. In the last third of the book what does he argue ? The pioneer inventions of the 1st phase of the Industrial Revolution in Lancashire were laughably simple & many of them might have conceivably been invented 2000 years earlier (like the flying shuttle). In fact the French invented the much more sophisticated jacquard loom for silk textiles, which didn't start an industrial revolution there. So why England ? Clark's answer : any of those European countries could have done it, technological innovations were much in the air. But England just happened to pioneer tech innovations in an industry (cotton textiles) that produced mass consumption items whose primary raw material was cheap Southern cotton. And England also had a rapid population explosion around the same time, unrelated to the industrial revolution, which amplified the consumer base. Technological innovations in France, the Netherlands, northern Italy, etc. did not result in mass consumption items. Clark even talks about the printing press, how that results in manifold increases in book printing TFP hardly anyone read books anyway...

"The pioneer inventions of the 1st phase of the Industrial Revolution in Lancashire were laughably simple & many of them might have conceivably been invented 2000 years earlier (like the flying shuttle)."

The notion that the industrial revolution could have happened in Roman times or earlier is quite common, but completely unsupported by history. It's based on the model of technology in general being a few major breakthroughs, rather than a continuous stream of incremental improvements. Even though similar devices *could* have been built in much earlier times, by 1800 the total technology stack made those same devices much more cheap, practical, reliable, and effective. Most notably if you go back to 1000 AD you completely lose calculus and even much of algebra. That makes the engineering *way* harder.

Metallurgy also backtracks quite a bit. Not only are you stuck with flimsier components, but you don't have furnaces that can handle the heat of coal fire. Coal's a much cheaper and less labor intensive form of energy than wood. Then you also get into a recursive problem that without cheap energy mining becomes a lot harder, which means you get a lot less metal, which you're already making into crappier alloys to begin with. You also lose a lot of basic mechanical engineering knowledge and devices learned from the past few centuries of watchmaking, locksmithing and carpentry. You lose a lot of chemistry, particularly the ability to make alkalines in any sizable volume, which makes both textiles and metallurgy much more difficult. This doesn't even get into the agricultural productivity that's lost that would make it virtually impossible to feed an industrial labor force.

+1. Thanks. I learned more from that comment than I have from many entire books.

Me too.

Thanks Doug.

How much did physical wealth accumulation, as opposed to technological advances, matter?

Empirical studies say: not much. McCloskey has a great, non-technical round-up of the economic history literature on the subject in her book "Bourgeois Dignity."

Thanks, very illuminating. But I wasn't trying to say that the industrial revolution could have happened 2000 years earlier, only that some of the first inventions that kickstarted things in Lancashire were incredibly simple, and there was nothing special about them that required they had to be made in England rather than in the Netherlands or Flanders. By the way, what technology required calculus to generate in 1800 ? This isn't a rhetorical question, but a genuine one.

I think what Wade should have done is write a long article for a general interest magazine on the reality of race and recent, regional evolution, and then waited another 5-10 years for more genetic and evolutionary study of these issues before writing this book.

Wade has written 1,052 science articles for the New York Times since 1983. He's written scores of articles in the New York Times in this century demolishing the conventional wisdom that race does not exist. Way back in 2003, I pointed out a dozen articles Wade had published in 2001-2003 documenting the first half of his new book. How much longer is he supposed to wait?

What "conventional wisdom" are you referring to that "race" does not exist?A lot of people would point out that how races are broken down have a degree of arbitrariness to them; a point which is rather accurate. Furthermore, the common racial divisions described are mostly along the lines of the most obvious features of appearance, such as skin color. Are pygmies a separate race? Are clusters of people in some regions where there are high incidences of certain diseases a separate race? Are Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese each separate races? What about differences across China?

Good questions, Jon.

Are you asking them for rhetorical effect or are you genuinely interested in finding answers?!

A roundup of reviews of Wade's work is here:


Stephen Pinker on twitter says this work "explodes race-is-only-a-social-construction myth." Yet Tyler Cowen says race isn't a coherent concept. Now I don't know what to think.

Does Garrett Jones have an opinion?

Re-read that sentence. Tyler does NOT say race is not a coherent concept. He says the author made a mistake arguing that it is. What Tyler means is that he could have have focused on "genetic populations" instead of the word "race" and it would have made it easier for him.

At this stage I don't think anyone knows what to think. I think I know what I'm supposed to think, but sometimes I even get that wrong. Hope this doesn't help.

You are supposed to think "Make money fast". Through rewarding hard work if you're a 'bright', through working hard the whole day long and then blowing the money on the lottery if you're not.

Intellectual inquisitiveness into the things that show up the screwed up politics of the Western nations as insane doesn't come into it.

If we agree that government policies should not depend on any type of self-identified individual characteristics at all, then we shouldn't care about any type of self-identification. This seems me to be a good place to end up. If there are traceable gene pools with better or worse performance characteristics in certain areas, that may be interesting, but let's leave it out of policy. The one observation that seems important is that it would make the obvious point that every field of human endeavor will not necessarily demographically resemble the population, and that while every effort should be made to ensure equal opportunity (which does not currently exist), looking at demographic outcomes or engineering them is probably a mistake.

If Sweden might be a great place to live because it is inhabited by Swedes then it makes sense not to let non-Swedes in in large numbers.

Thank you. If the concept of 'disparate impact' went away, perhaps the whole fixation on groups, rather than individuals, would also go away.

For example, some government policies not tied to "self-identified individual characteristics" might be:

Universal living wage
Free college

It takes little creativity to imagine how these two policies would impact the population differently, along "self-identified" lines, despite being self-identity-neutral.

IF individual phenotypes are hereditary, unique, and can be broadly categorized by "race" (either traditional groupings, or more nuanced "from-where-did-ones'-ancestors-hale"), than the incentives involved in ANY social policy will differently impact the overall population along racial lines.

More importantly, as Tyler has pointed out before, universal suffrage has had a horrific impact on practical politics. I think we'd probably disagree over which stage of universal suffrage has been most negative. To me- it'd be the last stage that made politicians focus on 'the feels' over everything else. Others might be more annoyed by the idea of a working man with a family getting some say in whether his children will live a better life than him.

One thing I do wonder about those people who are wholy focused on intellectual manners, and intelligent enough to live in a community in which a libertarian ideal could conceivably work- would they rather live in the Austro-Hungarian empire of the late 18th century, and be genuinely free, or live in the 21st century American empire? Sure, the Hapsburgs didn't impose criminal tax rates, didn't tolerate corruption, and didn't impose speech restrictions that will lose any healthy normal person who talks too much his job or even land him in prison. But back then, technology and nasty racist bigots would have made it difficult for a Keralan to move to Vienna. Which freedoms are really more important?

There are now a number of studies that demonstrate lower visual reasoning among Jews than gentile whites. So Tyler's post has the usual ring of a dilettante talking out of his depth. An interesting finding is that Australian aborigines seem to have far better spatial navigation abilities than whites, although they have far lower average IQs. Spatial reasoning and IQ seem to be separate.

It does seem to be true that Jewish directors tend to be more dialogue-oriented than visually oriented. The obvious exception is Kubrick, who was clearly a visual genius and a great all-around director.

"There are now a number of studies that demonstrate lower visual reasoning among Jews than gentile whites."


From the link " Non-Jewish whites showed no distinctive profile at all."

"Spatial reasoning and IQ seem to be separate." : Perhaps IQ is a social construct! Not surprising for Aborigines to have better spatial reasoning , since it probably helped in hunting and gathering food.

I frankly doubt that you paid attention to the link. Non-Jewish whites "showed no distinctive profile," meaning that they were balanced across the 5 measures. Jews were much less balanced, doing exceptionally well at Verbal reasoning and below the non-Jewish white average in spatial reasoning.

See my comment below, but that's not what the study says. The factors are orthogonalized, so it says that Jews do below average in spatial, when controlled for the other four factors. Since the factors are almost assuredly all positively correlated, orthognolization will show sub-average coefficients for a test taker that does average on one factor but above average on the other four.

Thanks, but that doesn't necessarily prove that American Jews have lower overall spatial skills. Backman's study orthogonalized the factors. The factor scores don't represent an independent subset of questions. Jews scored well above gentiles on the math section. Consider if the test consisted of algebra (math only) and geometry (loaded on math and spatial). Jews score above +1SD on algebra at gentile mean on geometry questions. A regression on math-space orthogonalized factors will assign an above average math coefficient and a below average spatial coefficient. Even though Jews did equally well on geometry.

All Beckman's study reveals is that relative to gentiles with the same math ability, Jews have lower spatial skills. Not that Jews have overall lower spatial skills.

Along those lines, you'll also notice that blacks score the highest on the memory factor of Backman's model. I don't think there's any evidence to support that blacks have higher than average memory, nor is it what Bachman's model reveals. It only says that blacks have higher memory relative to whites when controlled for the other four factors.

Take a look on Wikipedia at Oscar nominees for Best Cinematographer, Best Director, the two Best Screenwriter awards, and Best Picture (Producer). Cinematography is generally far more gentile than the other categories (although the best guy currently, Emmanuel Lubezki of Mexico, is Jewish). My guess is that in America, Jews with outstanding visual skills (Kubrick, Spielberg, etc.) tend to become directors rather than stick with cinematography.

No coincidence that Kubrick was also a very good chess player.

Here's a list of highly Oscar honored directors. You can see a moderate Jewish v. gentile division in terms of dialogue v. scenery (e.g., John Ford v. William Wyler, Billy Wilder v. David Lean, etc. ), although the best guys tend to be either very good at both or are very good at hiring the right people to make up for their shortcomings.

"The following ... directors have received multiple Best Director nominations. The list is sorted by the number of total awards (with the number of total nominations listed in parentheses).

4 – John Ford (5)
3 – William Wyler (12)
3 – Frank Capra (6)
2 – Billy Wilder (8)
2 – David Lean (7)
2 – Steven Spielberg (7)
2 – Fred Zinnemann (7)
2 – Elia Kazan (5)
2 – George Stevens (5)
2 – Clint Eastwood (4)
2 – Frank Lloyd (4)
2 – Joseph L. Mankiewicz (4)
2 – Miloš Forman (3)
2 – Ang Lee (3)
2 – Leo McCarey (3)
2 – Lewis Milestone (3)
2 – Oliver Stone (3)
2 – Robert Wise (3)
2 – Frank Borzage (2)
1 – Martin Scorsese (8)
1 – Woody Allen (7)
1 – George Cukor (5)
1 – Michael Curtiz (5)
1 – John Huston (5)
1 – Francis Ford Coppola (4)
1 – Mike Nichols (4)
1 – Joel Coen (3)
1 – Bob Fosse (3)
1 – Roman Polanski (3)
1 – Sydney Pollack (3)
1 – Carol Reed (3)

That's right -- Jews never become surgeons as they lacked spatial ability. Sheesh.

I think that this whole line of energetic discussion right here is too full of personal anecdote and too lacking in European Jewish history (and what people did for a living) to be useful.

>An interesting finding is that Australian aborigines seem to have far better spatial navigation abilities than whites

Nature or nurture? Many Australian aboriginal languages encode compass direction, rather than relative direction -- so you don't say something is to the left or the right of you ('left' and 'right' don't even exist as concepts there AFAIK), you use the compass direction instead. (The classic example here is Kuuk Thaayorre, which encodes sixteen directions. I'm not sure how many distinctions other languages make.) It's not implausible that the ability to tell compass direction comes from the fact that it's encoded in the languages, rather than its presence in the languages coming from greater genetic ability for spatial reasoning.

Has anyone tried to learn this ability?

I've read every review I can find on this book and the book does sound disappointing for this reason: I can't tell if Wade says anything new in it. If I already read Steve Sailer and the other racialists on the web, is there anything new I'm going to learn from reading this book?

There hasn't been a lot of disagreement between me and the Science section of the New York Times over the last 13 years:

In the late Soviet Union economists were basically allowed to accept market principles in academic discussions and even employ them when the CCCP decided they needed to boost production or efficiency in some arena. What separated technocrat and dissident was that the latter used those principles to criticize policies that the politburo was not interested in changing. The NYT science section has a fair bit of leeway to get into these topics, as long as it makes sure to refrain from specifically applying them to issues that might contradict the politics section.

People are underrating what Wade was doing for the last 13 years in the New York Times, although Wade requires good reading comprehension. I pulled out quotes from a dozen Wade NYT articles from 2001-2003 in the link above to my 2003 article. It's pretty dynamite stuff, but almost nobody noticed what he was up to, which says a lot about the power of the zeitgeist to enstupidate Americans.

"In the late Soviet Union..."

1. You are not going to learn any new Science

2. You are going to learn what happens in your society when a distinguished and relatively prominent Science journalist publishes a prominent book in which he shows a bit of courage and gets as close as possible to promoting an unorthodox and taboo truth without risking utter ostracization.

3. You will learn who cannot risk publically aligning with that position in order to maintain their position and current and future influence. And you will learn the techniques they must employ in order to walk the narrow path between sacrificing their integrity promoting the erroneous orthodoxy itself, and supporting the accurate contrarian position. Don't hold anything against Prof. Cowen, he's doing good work, but sometimes he writes a post the purpose of which is not to be a reflection of his genuine understanding or position, but, essentially, to allow Sailer to write in the comments section and do the actual updating of priors. Asking why people successfully avoid the subject and remain respectable by constantly talking about the Flynn Effect just might be relevant to this lesson.

Learning the topology of PC and influence in your society, and observing the consequences, is in fact very important. Reading the book itself will tell you whether the negative reviews are giving Wade a fair shake or not, and if they're not, that's revealing, and the answer to 'why not' is extremely enlightening. And also depressing. Learning how to achieve success in life by walking the line, not sacrificing your integrity, but leveraging your popularity, esteem, and status to occasionally promote truth-tellers, is also a very valuable thing to learn.

Another thing to learn is the answer to the question of, "What the point of Wade's book if it has to be so mellow?"

The point is to very gently walk up to the question of the origin of disparities between human population groups (don't get hung up on the semantics of 'race', just concentrate on genetic relatedness). Right now, the PC-orthodox theory of the origin those disparities is 100% discrimination, oppression, privilege, historical legacy, etc. The orthodoxy says that all human population groups are neurologically uniform in the distribution of various cognitive talents and abilities. That argues for both the necessity and moral imperative of even extremely obnoxious government interventions in countless circumstances involving personnel selection and redistribution of resources.

If, on the other hand, a large fraction of that disparity is fairly attributable to genetics instead of social injustice, then bigotry and discrimination is not a good explanation for the disparity, and thus the government crusade against discriminating employers and coercive disparate impact policies are unjustified. Also, if the 'test score gap' cannot be closed by any reasonable government policy, then we should stop slandering decent educators doing the best they can with the materials they have as 'bad teachers' who fill 'bad schools'.

Indeed, if those who are influential and persuasive over the elites in the political class who craft policy could adopt even a 50/50 nature-nurture model of the origin population group disparity, then the implication is a complete upheaval and revolution in government policy, the positive benefits of which cannot be overstated.

As an opening salvo in that 'So What?' war, Wade's cautious eggshell-walking, and Prof. Cowen's snippy review, are unfortunate deviations from the ideal due the oppressive ideological environment, but they are nevertheless to be commended.

You forgot one important point. You say that if there are inevitable genetic differences in test scores that we cannot blame teachers who are doing the best job possible. But there is a third option, it might well be that they are also bad (in the overall establishment sense) because they will not adopt age old methods of instruction that work to improve the lives of the less capable. Emphasis on discipline, good work habits, and inculcation of certain norms of behavior matter and it might well be that personality traits are more malleable then iq. But it would mean acknowledging that stricter schools (such as military academies or some catholic schools) can in fact help with lower class youth. The Nobelist James Heckman seems to be moving into this territory by focusing on noncognitive skills and what he calls the inculcation of "character" while noting that iq is mostly fixed after early childhood.

Right. Much of post-1960s liberalism begins with:

Assume everyone is above average in intelligence.

The 1960s were, more than anything else, Smart Liberation.

How effective has "walking the line" been at getting people to adopt a 50/50 model? Have disparate impact laws been rolled back? Does the BOE not introduce a new idiotic close the gap curriculum with regularity? Have PC witch hunts and racism phobia decreased?

Murray published The Bell Curve 20 years ago. All this "walking the line" stuff has had 0% effect on achieving your stated objectives. If anything, things got worse.

I maintain that "walking the line" is just another word for cowardice, meant as a way to assuage guilt so that it isn't turned into potentially meaningful action.

20 years after The Bell Curve you've got this shit at the national debate championship, and we all politely "walk the line" by just sitting there and taking it.

Maybe, if you read it closely and hit something you haven't come across before.

The real value doesn't come from providing information to those in the know. And due to the (general media) blackout, it isn't going to open the eyes of anyone who has much influence in the current power structure.

On the other hand- it wouldn't be a bad book to lend to intellectually curious and generally rational friends are ignorant of the origin of human differences, who might be more open to reading a book from a NY Times science reporter, than nasty evil racist people on the internet.

Let me reiterate that Wade has published scores of articles on the genetics of race in the New York Times in this century. Those articles had a lot of impact on me, but I read them closely. They didn't seem to have much impact on many people outside the 10 or 20 thousand people who read me.

For example, if you take Steve Sailer's description of race (which is a good illustration of the **near** meaningless of the concept), let's say we mean that all people who share the same great-grandparents are of the same race. And we study all these groups, and see a wide divergence of outcomes, economically and otherwise. Now we back off and say all people who share the same great^N-grandparents are of the same race. As N increases, we at some point come to one human race, with one average outcome. There is probably no objective way to pick N. If the point of the exercise is to argue at some level of N we can discriminate cultural/genetic interactions and feedbacks I would confess that I find that highly implausible. Why not just argue the simpler points that there will be distributions of outcomes within gene pools, and that some cultures are better at pushing the human condition forward? The genetic distributions can't really be changed, and we certianly don't want to base policy on them. Is this just a complicated way to wage a cultural battle?

The study of racial groups involves all the usual lumper v. splitter trade-offs also found in the study of languages, cultures, even species:

None of which have produced particularly useful results.

It seems to me to be pseudoscience likely used for political aims. And there is no disputing here the likely actual genetic differences between groups, whether arising statistically or from other factors. It's a complex business, like macro-economics or climate science.

Mesa, you wrote: "Why not just argue the simpler points that there will be distributions of outcomes within gene pools, and that some cultures are better at pushing the human condition forward?"

The trouble is you'd have to actually notice and then NAME one of these "cultures", which would be tantamount to some terrible -ism or other.

"None of which have produced particularly useful results."

What has the study of species ever accomplished?

Umm, well Darwin's "Origin of Species" did have some influence.

Lumping vs splitting is a very important aspect in product development, marketing and sales. If a company chose to target the "indian" market, it will not have as much success as it would if it had the ability to target indian regions or states individually. But you can't go all the way down to neighbourhoods, that would be too costly. Depending on your constraints, there is a useful point, a useful "N" as you call it.

In medicine atleast, my doctor told me that many Indians have a gene that other caucasians from portugal to afghanistan do not have, in the large numbers that we do, which makes us more susceptible to heart attacks. Knowing that is useful. Ofcourse, doing the genetic test and finding out whether I have the gene is even more useful, but my financial constraints prevent me from gaining that knowledge.

> Now we back off and say all people who share the same great^N-grandparents are of the same race. As N increases, we at some point come to one human race, with one average outcome.

First off, that's not how it works. You're incorrectly assuming that your number of ancestors grows Θ(n^2). If you had actually read through Sailer's whole article, you'd be familiar with the concept of pedigree collapse.

And secondly, your argument is basically a continuum fallacy. Do different religious denominations not exist because, if you trace them back enough, they're the same? How about Linux distros? Is Ubuntu not a Debian, or are you blind to that distinction, insisting that like HP-UX and OpenBSD, it's just another member of the Unix-like family?

"As N increases, we at some point come to one human race"

Don't stop there: keep increasing n and we get to our eukaryotic forbears. Not only will this complicate Thanksgiving menu planning, but perhaps indicate that you have to draw the line somewhere.

The concept of pedigree collapse is totally outside of the contemporary mindset. I'd never heard of it until about a decade ago. I'd worked out that it logically had to be true, which means that lots of other people must have noticed it, so there has to be a name for it, so I set out to find it and, lo and behold, there's a wikipedia article about it and lots of past research by genealogists and so forth. But I was in my mid-40s and had never heard of it yet.

In general, the entire subject of genealogy needs to be a bigger part of contemporary intellectual life. Today, it's treated as if it were a hobby for old people. Knitting gets more respect. But understanding the basics of genealogy is essential to understanding humanity.

Tyler Cowen on the 10,000 Year Explosion:

The authors report that we have Neanderthal genes even though this seems to fly in the face of recent discoveries and more importantly the evidence that such interbreeding (if it occurred) mattered is extremely speculative.

Once again, we have a dilettante wildly out of his depth, frantically waving his hands. "Nothing to see here folks, these wackos think we're part Neanderthal. How CRAZY they are!"

It's really good for public intellectuals to lay down their markers and make concrete public predictions instead of hiding behind the language of unfalsifiable hedged sophistry. We should encourage that.

Notice that Prof. Cowen is not laying down his marker very clearly here. For example, it's just a matter of time before we completely figure out the nature of the Flynn Effect, it's causes and limits, and also comes up with a very solid understanding the genes responsible for cognitive ability.

When that happens, we should build Prof. Cowen et al a Golden Bridge upon which to gracefully retreat and admit his error in the face of overwhelming 'new evidence', which will help, we hope, one day, to tip the conventional wisdom in the more accurate (though currently taboo) direction. Can't you hear this clever 'recantation' in your ears already when you imagine it?

My marker is nutrition or something.

Then you'd see things like continued increases in height.

I'm pretty sure that what andrew' meant was that past increases in test scores and heights were due to better nutrition (calories, and fortification of foodstuffs with essential trace elements like Iodine), and the Flynn Effect for IQ is accounted for by the same cause as the Height Effect (does it have a name). But because improvements in nutrition have hit the region of diminishing returns (indeed, saturation, and even over-abundance since obesity is a huge problem), that we shouldn't expect to see any more improvement.

Furthermore, we shouldn't put our faith in the hypothesis that cognitive ability is that malleable or influenceable through optimal pedagody, instead of being largely genetically determined. That should, for example, inform our discussion about education policy and whether we should be making any extraordinary interventions to close the test score gaps between population groups, because it would tell us whether it is reasonably to expect to make any progress with endless innovations in wishful thinking when one is fighting against something as immutable as genetics.

The tragedy is that it's pretty clear who already knows, understands, and agrees with all this. But one must realize it's neither wise to say so, nor is it in the interest of anyone who hopes for those with a platform to influence elite opinion so we have a better, more accurate conventional wisdom one day. But such are the days in which we live.

I'm guessing there's more going on with the Flynn Effect than just nutrition. Basically, life is becoming more like an IQ test every decade. Back before WWII, the IQ guys, especially Raven, anticipated which direction the world would be moving.

@Steve Sailer:

It'd be great if you do a new series on your theory of the Flynn Effect. Actually, it seems you are claiming that we are observing the combination of multiple effects: both better nutrition, and greater incentives for intellectual exercise. The important question is how much more can we squeeze out of these effects, and for which population groups.

My impression is diminishing marginal returns for the left half of the bell-curve, but increasing rooms for improvement when one gets to +1 or +2 SD.

That's another question though. Are these Flynn effects broad-based, or does the 'Life is an IQ test' tend to preferentially boost the IQ's of folks who were talented to begin with, which raises the average.

There's an interesting economics-of-human-capital question here too. If you correlate income (or lets say 'average marginal productivity') with IQ, and the income distribution is famously exponential when plotted against percentiles, then raising oneself from -1 to -0.5 SD will not be be worthwhile in terms of increased wages, but going from +1 to +1.5 SD could be highly lucrative.

Of course, it really depends on what all the other +1 SD's are doing, and what the labor supply looks like at your targeted human-capital level. If the zone right above you is being flooded, then what's the point of self-improvement?

Oh snap ... now you can make a Economics of the Flynn effect, progressive argument against open immigration.

"You see, the Flynn effect means that those black kids could raise their IQ's and close the test score gap, but we have to provide the market incentives to motivate them to work hard at school and make the effort worthwhile. But if you continuously increase the labor supply at 0.5 SD above their average such that the wages in that tier are stagnating and effectively pegged near the left limit of the minimum wage, then you remove the incentive. It's a regressive and high marginal tax rate on human capital - just like the high MRT's on benefits, where the rate is highest at the left part of the distribution, and lowest at the right. Talk about policy perpetuating inequality and privilege, and trapping people in their poverty! Also, it means that corporations are able to extract the surplus (marginal productivity - minimum wage) by continuously flooding this particular labor-market zone with an immigrating labor supply, and that's both exploitative of the workers, and utterly demoralizing for the heavily-underemployed tier just below them. If the Flynn effect is true, then that demoralization makes a plausible hypothesis for the origin of the test-score gap. Yes, we could 'make work pay' by trying to reduce MRT's on Human Capital at the low end through subsidies, but we can't afford both the making of those subsidies and open immigration into a particular tier of the labor market. The most efficient way to accomplish the social goal is to greatly tighten the labor market in the tier just above the target group whose test scores we seek to increase.


First there was too much on Neanderthals in 1000 yr explosion (which apparantly isn't interesting), now there's too little on Denisovans in this book (which apparantly is interesting).

This post seems like a good example of mood affiliation as camoflague. TC more or less admits that he agrees with the basic 'heretical' premises of the book, but by writing about it with an overall negative mood, he can avoid being too strongly associated with heresy in reader's minds.

Or maybe he just had a few criticisms of the book and wrote them on his blog?

Not everyone who doesn't love this book is a P.C-whipped zombie!

I'm not claiming that his criticisms aren't sincere, more that he choses to focus on seemingly minor criticisms for a reason.

It's probably because he knows how obsessed his readers are with race.

Most everybody is interested in who is related to whom. It's very hard not to be. You can try not to be when you are young, but the longer you live, the more you observe.

I married outside of my race and, based on your writings, I don't think about it nearly as much as you do. I mean, it's nice that race gives you something to do, I guess, and my wife and I could use your work to feel superior to other people, if we were so inclined, but, damn, do you ever just chill out about it? It's the singular focus of your life, and it all seems pretty meaningless to me. You don't seem like a bad guy, for a white supremacist, but I can't imagine ever wanting to talk to you, because I can't imagine any topic coming up without you wanting to talk about race. Like, the NFL draft.

"Hey, Steve, what do you think of Teddy Bridgewater?"

"Well, you know, MD, Johnny Football and Derek Carr are statistically more likely to make good decisions in the pocket based on what we can assume about their genetic heritage and probable IQs."

"Yeah, um, so, what, he should have gone in the 2nd round then?"

Uh, Teddy Bridgewater is a terrible quarterback. Not because hes black, but becauses hes mediocre at best. Same goes for the other two you mentioned (Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr). None of them are first round draft talents, but they play a premium position, and so there will always be teams who overdraft. Blake Bortles is the only QB worth mentioning, and even he was a reach at no.3 overall. The 2014 NFL draft was a repeat of 2006, where two overrated QB's, Vince Young and Matt Leinart, soaked up all the press because of their fame rather than merit. Meanwhile Jay Cutler is the only QB from that first round still playing in the NFL today. The same will repeat itself with Bridgewater, Johnny Football, and Bortles.

Also, its amusing to call Steve Sailer a white supremacist considering hes part Jewish. Hes actually butted heads publicly with white activists like Jared Taylor over white nationalism vs civic nationalism, or racialism vs "citizenism", as Sailer has coined it. Why make such accusation in the first place when its clear hes nothing of the sort?

I mean if people are this outraged and spiteful over discussion over settled science like human biodiversity, I can only imagine their hysterics over a controversial field like evolutionary psychology.

@ Steve Sailer: "You often see those Jews who have outstanding visual cognitive skills (e.g., Einstein, Feynman, Kubrick, Spielberg) rising to the very top of their highly competitive fields. - "

Which of Einstein's work displays visual cognitive skills ? "Gedanken" (thought)experiments do not necessarily translate into visual cognition, only cognition of the highest order.

Google the "Visual Imagination" subchapter on pp. 27-29 of "Einstein in Context," edited by Mara Beller and Robert S. Cohen.

Thanks. Its ironic to discover that the article in question is by Prof.Thomas Hughes ( who passed away earlier this year) , an accomplished Historian of Technology . I was briefly his student at Penn and it was a pleasure to discover this article.

Glad to be of help!

Well, now, one prominent historian argues that capitalism actually originated in Mexico. Here's my interview with professor John Tutino about his book, Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajio and Spanish Norther America (Duke U Pr):

Looking at Mexico in New Ways: An Interview with John Tutino

Most people accept there are distinct differences in intelligence between individuals within a deme. These within-deme differences have to be due to a number of alleles that are segregating within a population. But somehow there's a special feedback system that prevents allele differences between demes. I'm skeptical.

If evolution can affect visible characteristics like hair, skin and limb length, there's no logical reason it can't affect invisible characteristics like temperament and intelligence.

'Had Kindle not tracked the percentage so accurately, I would have been surprised when the book ended.'?

Best satire site on the web.

So one of the ideas in the book is that blacks are so much more violent than the other races because they haven't evolved under dense population pressures like whites and asians, where inter-personal violence was selected against.

The high rate of disease in sub-Saharan Africa kept population density quite low until the last century. Thus they evolved to go through puberty faster, with less social cooperation and more inter-personal violence. Get what you can, while you can.

John Reader's "Africa: Biography of a Continent" is superb on how different the ecological challenges facing humans in Africa were from what we're familiar with from Eurasia.

Here's a good article you ought to read if you aren't otherwise entrenched in a bias, like many laymen readers here seem to be.

One of the important facts about these "interpersonal violence" genes are that they have pretty complex ways of altering behavior, and only function given specific environments. There's no gene that says you will be violent this comes about only when its turned on or off by high rates of childhood stress and violence in what are called epigenetic factors. Again I'm gonna shamelessly plug Robert Sapolsky again but really anyone ought to listen to his lectures before even concluding about this topic.

Its remarkably stupid how anyone can speculate on what levels of violence were or were not selected for. There's no reason to assume hunter gatherers were inherently violent, infact that San Bushmen, probably among the most original to human lifestyles for 200kya until the holocene, are remarkably non-violent with much less rates of endemic warfare than agricultural societies tend to be, can easily discount this. The second is that interpersonal violence is selected for in scarcity, which is more common in denser areas, speculations aside virtually everyone is capable of expressing interpersonal violence given epigenetic factors mediating stress response and the fact that aggression is linked with greater stress.

Other things being that, the type of categorical thinking is remarkably ignorant for anyone to assume. Races aren't actual races with different attributes if you are X person. They are differences in frequencies at most, not surprising given limited genetic differences of less than a hundred genes between groups.

Perhaps for an encore and as a couplet to accompany Wade's argument, someone can produce a nice scientifically argument to prove the relative success of males over females is also genetic. After all, the genetic difference between men and women is far greater than between members of the same sex and women are nowhere near as successful as men in the sciences, the arts, business, government, literature or anything really except child bearing and nagging their husbands. It's absolutely incontestable and the evidence is overwhelming.

That way being a white man, especially a really really rich one, would be the absolute bomb in a modern milieu of newly legitimised social, cultural, economic and cultural discrimination...errm discernment...

Sorry, but I don't believe a word of this crap. People are just people, and some of them are always trying to make out a scientific case for their superiority over others.

btw I'm a white man, just not a rich one.

It's not about superiority. It is scientific fact that men are over-represented at the extremes, both high and low. Many more men have very high IQs and very low IQs, for example. And yes, it is genetic.

And yes, it is genetic. You know this how?

Because there is no other remotely plausible explanation

...that you can think of, therefore there can be none. Recognise the fallacy?

Next, somebody will claim that the male sex tends to be better at slamdunking than the female sex. Where will the madness end?

Precisely what I'm asking here. It's a senseless discussion guaranteed to inflame passions, pride and prejudices.

Senseless... except for all the lives it can save, as Wade explains.

Cliff: tell me in your own words how it saves lives preferably in a few sentences.

Patients can be treated in part based on their race, improving survival rates, but only if the doctor believes in race and only if researchers do as well.

@Ss - what a fool believes... so by analogy you are saying the "male" XY is a different "race" than the female (XX)? Shows how much you have to learn.

You are confusing phenotype with genotype. Sure there's differences between the "phenotypes" (or "races"), but it's small: a bunch of bell shaped curves that look more or less the same. One superimposed on top of the other will pretty much look the same, with some small differences relating to the specific phenotype, like for example the genes for black skin will not be as common in the "white race" as in the "black race". But the variation will be about the same for everything except the genes for influencing the phenotype.

What you and others confuse as "race" is simply environment: a kid whose father was a diamond cutter in Belgium will also likely (more so than chance) become a diamond cutter. And both father and son will likely practice the same religion. You even see environment in identical twin studies where the kids were separated at birth.

Is this a joke?

Yes. Or a drug-addled or conspiracy theorist level rant. His exactly opposite of true understanding of twin studies speaks for that.

"So one of the ideas in the book is that blacks are so much more violent than the other races because they haven’t evolved under dense population pressures like whites and asians, where inter-personal violence was selected against."

Is that what the book argues? So how did whites evolve to structural violence that is orders of magnitude greater than any interpersonal violence purportedly expressed by blacks? Squeamish about interpersonal violence but not about mass violence using technology? Is a white man piloting a drone 3000 miles from the kill site violent or not? No doubt this is a product of their genetically assisted success in the sciences that enable them to control the inferior races more effectively.

What does interpersonal violence really mean when the distinction between it and structural violence is so murky?

Is the distinction really murky? And have you considered that you may be the most racist commenter so far?

Cliff, I confronted my racism decades ago.

On this matter right here and right now? No.

Tell me why you think I am the most racist commentator here.

Only you are talking about "inferior" races, "controlling" other races, "genetically assisted success in the science", "whites" "evolving to structural violence orders of magnitude greater"...

You should learn to recognise sarcasm when you see it. The use of genetics to explain relatively evanescent socio-cultural and socio-economic phenomena is one I personally find abhorrent and deeply racist.

You're barking up the wrong tree.

A simple distinction is between organized violence (e.g., the Manhattan Project) and disorganized violence (e.g., a couple of homeless guys shoving and biting each other in an alley).

Not such a simple distinction Steve, which is why I ask the question.

Punching or stabbing a person is interpersonal violence. Right? Telling your lackey to do that interpersonal violence or not? Shooting a person. Interpersonal, yes? Giving the order to do so? Interpersonal or not?

The pilots of Enola Gay - interpersonal or not? What about the Boston Bombers? Interpersonal or not. What if these bombers actually threw these bombs at people rather than planted them? Interpersonal or not?

The distinction is only clear at the extremes, not in the middle where there is a large gray and essentially meaningless grey line.

Hardly meaningless -- cultures that tend to have low levels of disorganized violence, such as 20th Century Germany or Japan, tend to be good at organized violence, if they so choose. Cultures that suffer lots of disorganized violence are less likely to get a half dozen aircraft carriers within range of Pearl Harbor.

"cultures that tend to have low levels of disorganized violence, such as 20th Century Germany or Japan, tend to be good at organized violence, if they so choose."

If that is true, then perhaps high levels of disorganised violence are preferable in principle. Maybe if all societies were such, no one would have found the time or the inclination to invent nuclear weapons, fuel air bombs, DU artillery and bombs, planet killing biological weapons, and other WMDs. This is NOT a great quid pro quo.

"Cultures that suffer lots of disorganized violence are less likely to get a half dozen aircraft carriers within range of Pearl Harbor."

You serious? The US has both. How many nukes, aircraft carriers does it have? How many people die in gun related deaths in the gun-worshiping culture of the US? In any case, high levels of interpersonal violence such as in Africa are often symptoms of structural dysfunction, eg; the colonial legacy, rather than causes of same.

"How many nukes, aircraft carriers does it have? How many people die in gun related deaths in the gun-worshiping culture of the US?"

Go look at the nuclear scientists that work at Los Alamos, then hang out with the street gangs of Detroit. Do these two groups of people strike you as being from the same culture?

'Go look at the nuclear scientists that work at Los Alamos, then hang out with the street gangs of Detroit. Do these two groups of people strike you as being from the same culture?"

Doug - that is embarrassing. The scientists are not the killers any more than the workers in the munitions factories are killers, it is the people that use their work to kill ...that are the killers. Even these people don't "hang out with the street gangs" as they are a different category of violent killer, like Eichmann, those that bring mayhem on the masses without getting actual blood on their hands. They leverage interpersonal violence with directly engaging in it.

Remember the phrase "the banality of evil"? It always amazes me that people are more afraid of the individual thug than the quiet bureaucrat who can dial up mass murder. Must be a primate thing. The difference is you probably won't know the anonymous bureaucrat who orders your death along with that of your family/ethnic group/city although you are likely to smell the breath of the thug that shoves a knife into your heart.

The difference is that if Eichmann was born 50 years later he'd probably cause little more evil than maybe being some jerk middle manager. On the other hand Stanley Williams would have almost certainly caused mayhem in whatever time and place he was born to. The type of men who perpetuate organized, dis-personal violence can easily be suppressed with proper social structuring. Modern day Germany and Japan are testaments to that. Thuggish, inter-personal violence is much harder to control and suppress. That's why the countries that were highly criminal 70 years are pretty much still the most criminal ones today.

"The type of men who perpetuate organized, dis-personal violence can easily be suppressed with proper social structuring. "

Indeed. I think the proper social structuring to which you are referring is Utopia.

Think, man. The thesis is that low levels of interpersonal violence allows greater levels of organised violence. The same social structuring, according to this reasoning, that curbs interpersonal violence leads to the more destructive organised violence. it's like squeezing a balloon. The more you squeeze one part of it the more it bulges elsewhere. Back in the day, the world had Eichmann. In this day, the world has Obama, all fully sanitised and legitimised by the State in implementing the most incredibly violent policies of violence both internationally and domestically. Maybe one day, the likes of him and his predecessors can by easily suppressed with proper social structuring.

If the citizenry of a state of organised violence are lucky, their leadership will wage war or mayhem on foreigners. If not, then the leadership and their goons prey on the citizenry, as is increasing the case in Ukraine and the USA. USA is par excellence in organised violence, but it is starting to feed on its own people, cf the incredible incarceration rates (many for profit), and numbers of citizens killed every year by an increasingly militarised and psychotic law enforcement structure.

The number of people dying in wars or genocide has fallen by at least an order of magnitude from 100 years ago. You can be opposed to US foreign policy and think it overly interventionist. I certainly do. But it's totally absurd to believe that the modern US military represents one iota of the violence or brutality exhibited by historical superpowers.

The US spends billions on weapons designed *not* to kill enemy civilians. Rather than rape and pillage, the US dumps massive amount of resources into educating, developing and helping the people that it attacks. US soldiers operate under the most restrictive rules of engagement in military history. The only reason modern insurgencies are so effective is because of how violence shy the US military is. America could have saved years and trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan by mimicking the Boer War. But it didn't because it could never even contemplate such brutality. Any major political figure who even suggested anything close to the way Victorian Brits routinely operated would assuredly be promptly booted from office. Any military figure would certainly be court martialed.

There's nothing utopian about it. The world since 1945 has done a remarkable job of greatly reducing the scale and intensity of highly organized violence.

But doesn't the US have a really high murder rate (and lots of people incarcerated) compared to other industrialized countries? And yet we manage to do the organized warfare thing pretty effectively, too. (We can knife you in a dark alley for crack money, *and* we can nuke you from orbit.)

"The distinction is only clear at the extremes, not in the middle where there is a large gray and essentially meaningless grey line.
- See more at:"

That's not right.

If i'm a policymaker who wants to curb violence, then i'd rather be dealing with organized violence than disorganized violence because disorganized is impassioned and impetuous, whereas organized violence is the opposite -- bureaucratic, perfunctory and planned.

Since organized violence is planed and thought- out, you're generally dealing with more reasonable people than the perpetrators of disorganized violence; and reasonable people are a lot easier to persuade. Furthermore, organised violence is perfunctory or motivated by money/power, so all you need to do is offer the perpetrator a better deal.

Your example of a lackey fits neatly into my conception of violence. The lackey is only doing it because he's being paid. Maybe he'd stop being a lackey if he could get a better job elsewhere.

And yet it is abolishing organised violence that policy makers often steer clear from, often because they are the perpetrators themselves, or collaborating with groups that practice organised violence, or simply because it is too difficult: wipe out one lot to leave a power vacuum that will only be filled by another possibly worse group employing organised violence. Organised violence can be overground (corporate and goverenment), or underground (criminal corporate and government black ops) - not that there is always a clear distinction to be made between the two - so perhaps the will to destroy organised violence can be subsumed by the convenience of doing deals with its perpetrators, eg: the collaboration by the Mexican government with the Sinara cartel or maybe to keep it under some sort of control.

Which costs more lives? Is that a meaningful calculus?

I don't tend to think so because a hot blooded killer and a bureaucratically rational killer, like say Eichmann have something in common. They are both killers except that one can do so on an industrial scale that the other cannot.

Wade makes a big mistake arguing that “race” is a coherent concept.  Surely that is a semantic issue which cannot move his case forward much, but can hurt it if he fails to establish his claims.

Whether or not race is “a coherent concept”, if you apply genetic clustering algorithms to humanity, they basically come up with the same population structure amongst humanity as the old racial models, for the same number of clusters / categories.

That's interesting, no? It tells us that, to the extent it's valid to describe humans as a population of different varieties*, the varieties are essentially what the old racial models tell us they are.

*there is lots of evidence that it is actually slightly more accurate to think of populations as not in a category, but rather having a position in a dimensional space describing human population structure.

but “race” as in a set of categories, and the categories we actually have, is probably the best description of human population structure we can do verbally, the best way we can *talk* about human population structure (there have been lots of efforts, and this is the best).

The word “Denisovan” didn’t appear nearly enough.

why on earth would it? because you have a wrong intuition that archaic admixture has got to be a really important factor in making populations different to one another?

selection is likely to be more important than the levels of admixture described. plus it's not like Oceanians are particularly distinct on any of the traits Wade talks about here.

We are told that Ashkenazim Jews may have sacrificed visual and spatial skills for other forms of (superior?) intelligence, but what about all the great Soviet Jewish chess players and mathematicians? 

Visual and spatial abilities are pretty separate, certainly in the brain (where there are two fairly separable ventral and dorsal pathways that relate to each). Maths loads strongly on spatial abilities, across the human population, so it's unlikely that any group good at maths has absolutely very low spatial abilities, compared to one that is not.

Chess does not show any particular sign of being particularly loaded on spatial ability.

"Chess does not show any particular sign of being particularly loaded on spatial ability."

Unless you are playing Mr. Spock, chess is 2-dimensional. 3-dimensional cognition is fairly distinct from the general factor of intelligence. Perhaps it's kind of like how when you buy a personal computer the 3-D graphics often come on a separate chip.

I have decent two-dimensional visual intelligence, but weak 3-d intelligence, which was the downfall of my boyhood ambition to be a golf course architect. The margins of my high school textbooks are filled with 2-d maps of cool golf holes I dreamed up during class, but there are very few 3-d sketches. I've always lacked the 3-d brainpower to adequately imagine complex topography like a high quality green complex. I could probably write a sentence about the general slopes of most of the greens on my favorite course, but I've met a golf design aficionado, Tommy Naccarato, who could write a paragraph on each of over a thousand different greens he's played. That's pretty discouraging.

Steve, here is a good way to test spatial IQ of Jews:

We know that Jews dominate chess -- and this makes sense because chess does not require high spatial intelligence.

But Blindfold chess does require a lot of spatial intelligence, perhaps the most of any activity.
According to Wikipedia, the USSR banned blindfold chess in 1930 because it was deemed a health hazard.

So we expect Jews to dominate chess in general, but we expect them to be lacking in blindfold chess. Maybe you could look at this and post the data on your blog. It looks like an easy experiment.

I have seen my grandfather play blindfold chess against 5 people simultaneously in 5 different rooms - i.e. they had the board, he was sitting in a chair telling me his moves which I would then run over to the different rooms.

Just an anecdote, but your hypothesis may not hold.

"Whether or not race is “a coherent concept”, if you apply genetic clustering algorithms to humanity, they basically come up with the same population structure amongst humanity as the old racial models, for the same number of clusters / categories. That’s interesting, no?"

That's the unforgivable part: the old WASPs were mostly right. If Francis Galton, Rudyard Kipling, and Madison Grant had sat down together to draw up a racial map of the world, it would have looked an awful lot like a 2014 map drawn up from the latest genome scans.

Right, Galton's "Heriditary Genius" got validated by Gregory Clark "Son Also Rises" recently.

It's a necessary complement to look at talents from a heriditary PoV. The libertarian model of hard work & free markets only works with the right hardware. But there are hardly any libertarian economists who acknowledge this. They don't want to be part of a school of thought that has low status in today's society; low status, because it conflicts with the model policymakers use to maintain law, peace & order.

And yet those same clustering algorithms cannot account for why the white person in Kent might genetically resemble a black person in Lagos more than his equally white neighbour next door.

It's been interesting, but I've seen enough. Bye.

And yet those same clustering algorithms cannot account for why the white person in Kent might genetically resemble a black person in Lagos more than his equally white neighbour next door.

That's because it never happens unless we use only few genetic markers. Quoting from this article:

Thus the answer to the question “How often is a pair of individuals from one population genetically more dissimilar than two individuals chosen from two different populations?” depends on the number of polymorphisms used to define that dissimilarity and the populations being compared... Given 10 loci, three distinct populations, and the full spectrum of polymorphisms (Figure 2E), the answer is ... 0.3, or nearly one-third of the time. With 100 loci, the answer is ∼20% of the time and even using 1000 loci, 10%. However, if genetic similarity is measured over many thousands of loci, the answer becomes “never” when individuals are sampled from geographically separated populations.

For someone so ignorant, you're amusingly arrogant. You have been misinformed &or are willfully telling lies. Go back to the 90s.

It's at your own disadvantage to believe in myths, you'll be hubbled by wrong ideas about the world that will cost you dearly in your future endeavors

There can be no explanation for a phenomenon that does not exist.

Yep. So most genetic factors are randomly distributed, and not ethnically stratified.

This means, so two ethnically far people can be close on random distributed factors when few locii are considered.

But once many are, this averages out to everyone being equally distant from one another and only the ethnically stratified locii start to explain remaining overall closeness (so overall Kent-Lagos connections never happen).

And with that, James would not return to the thread.

It remains a mystery to me why people don't notice that the Jews did not start doing impressive things (in the sense of "making it into non-Jewish-centric history books") until around emancipation, with the exception of Spinoza.

My impression is that Jewish culture and/or genes *turn into a superpower when brought into contact with modernity.* It's the combination that matters, not blood or ancient culture alone.

Also, the tradeoff between intellectual and physical skills is so easily explained by child development (kids who spend their days reading never get good at playing ball) that there's no need to posit a genetic cause.

"The tradeoff between intellectual and physical skills is so easily explained by child development (kids who spend their days reading never get good at playing ball) that there’s no need to posit a genetic cause."

Sir Roger Bannister was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. As Wikipedia notes:

"More notable was that he had reached this record with so little training, while practising as a junior doctor. Bannister went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College at the University of Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement, he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system."


"My impression is that Jewish culture and/or genes *turn into a superpower when brought into contact with modernity.*"

This is essentially the thesis of this book:

Another way of looking at it is: Ashkenazi Jews were modern for maybe 800 years before the Industrial Revolution made it cool to be modern. Confined in skilled middle class professions, banned from what Karl Marx termed the "idiocy of rural life", Jews were already well ahead in the key skills the new technical civilisation needed, once it finally arrived.

Jews had been so much richer than gentiles on average in Europe that they didn't pay much attention to advances in Christian culture until Moses Mendelsohn noticed the Germans were pulling ahead and launched the Jewish Enlightenment in the later 18th Century.

That's the Yuri Slezkine interpretation.

Yet, if we apply common sense, we quickly realise urbane polished medieval merchants and taxmen were far from what we think of as modern, as far, in their own way, as medieval princes and warriors.

Although not unsuited for life in a modern environment (perhaps more than a person still adapted to medieval peasant norms would be), their personalities, foibles and cultures does not touch on the real breaks from traditionalism, irrationality, ingroup bias, traditional attitudes to material production, that actually define what is interesting and valuable about modernity. Medieval merchants were mere middlemen, rentiers and marketers, not true moderns.

(Modernisation is, if we can tie it to an ethnic at all, about the WEIRDest people in the world, Northwest Europeans.)

It remains a mystery to me why people don’t notice that the Jews did not start doing impressive things (in the sense of “making it into non-Jewish-centric history books”) until around emancipation, with the exception of Spinoza.

You don't think staying alive for centuries as a commonly despised minority is impressive? You don't think Columbus (from a converso family) and the Jews who financed his voyages and the Jews who had earlier made important advances in navigational technology did anything impressive?

Columbus was Italian, not Jewish, and was generally financed by the Spanish crown.

"Italian, not Jewish"? What an amazing thing to say! A Jew can't live in Italy?

Columbus’s proposal to the Spanish monarchs was initially rejected as too costly. Only when Luis de Santangel, the realm’s comptroller-general, grandson of a converted Jew, agreed to personally finance the venture did Ferdinand and Isabella give their consent. Columbus received additional backing from some of Spain’s most influential Jewish financiers, among them Isaac Abravanel....

Jews made few contributions to science until modern times, for one thing.

It's a bit more complicated than that. They did contribute in the fields of medicine, cartography, and navigational technology (as mentioned above).

But it's not hard to find Jewish historians who say things like "Jews had been heavily involved in science and technology at the end of the Middle Ages." See the Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism, by Alan T. Levenson, available on Google Books.

I would really like one of the proponents of differences between racial groups to define those racial groups. Various comments above seem to be suggesting that the relevant groups are good old fashioned white, black, yellow, red, aborigine.

But let's take e.g. the fact that in uk people of Indian origin have very different social cultural profile than people of Pakistani origin for fairly obvious social and cultural reasons. Are they not the same "race"? Are they not the same race as British or Russians or swedes? What about Thais, Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, native Americans and Mexicans? Aren't they supposed to be the same race? What about the very large ethnic differences amongst Chinese people? What about the clear and obvious physical differences between different African populations (watch an Olympic marathon final and an Olympic sprint final). So what is the level at which proponents of race operate?

Ideally, we lump or split as is optimal for whatever we're talking about, just as, say, linguists or naturalists or art historians try to do.

Yes, there are certain traits a Thai can be very different to than a Southern Chinese, despite these two groups being about as different as Greeks and Georgians, or an Italian can be very different to an Ashkenazi Jew on, despite these groups being about as similar overall as Spanish and French.

So to this extent, using these clusters as races and talking about “race differences” can be limited. It's not total.

At the same time, one of interesting implications of these clusters is it demonstrates that “race differences” could evolve (even if they do, of course, have to be evidenced), as the races are coherent breeding populations to a certain extent and over certain time scales. Reproductive isolation to a certain extent is necessary for the evolution of group differences.

And there are certainly big differences in the selective sweeps in humanity, that more or less match these clusters in magnitude. The biggest difference in selective sweeps is the Out of Africa sweep between Africans and all out of Africans. The next biggest is the one that affects all Eastern Non-Africans (Oceanians, Amerindians, East Asians) alike. And then we get much smaller sweeps that distinguish between the populations that are subsequently less differentiated from this general pattern of sweeps, in the order Oceanians, Native Americans, East Asians and Europeans.

This all follows the order in which clusters break off and are differentiated in a representative dataset (e.g. if we want to divide the world into 2 kinds of people, its Africans and non-Africans. 3 people, Africans, West Eurasians and Eastern Non-Africans, etc.).

But there may be other differences that certainly could evolve within substructured populations within clusters, over other timescales. The patterns continue beyond the five main clusters, and smaller, less generally explanatory clusters are particularly likely to be relevant for recent selected differences.

That race has a certain validity for population structure and thus for talking about populations and likely selected differences (presumably this is what you mean by being a "proponent of race") does not mean it is total.

Fine, my complaint is that you are assuming "likely selected differences" that "could evolve" but which are not "evidenced". What for example are these traits that you think Thais have very different from "South Chinese"? And what evidence is there that any differences between these groups or sub-groups are genetic rather than social or cultural? It is a giant leap from saying that there are genetic clusters to saying that there are proven genetic differences between these clusters that explain the social and cultural differences between these groups. It seems more obvious to say that there are no proven genetic differences between these clusters and that social and cultural factors can explain the social and cultural differences between different groups.

At the moment, with the groups we have tested with cross ethnic adoption studies, sometimes a difference appears genetically hereditary, sometimes it doesn't. More often it seems like most differences are partially genetically hereditary. These cross ethnic adoption studies are also backed by intra ethnic adoption studies showing high heritabilities of the traits examined, and it is more parsimonious to assume equal heritability for all groups unless there is other compelling evidence.

Purely cultural advantages with no genetic reliance generally look like they're very quickly learned by people who have any degree of communication, certainly within a nation.

Correctly though, yes, given the impracticality of running the above kind of studies for all combinations of group differences on every trait, we don't know for sure that any given difference is genetic until we have complete and high detail genetic models of most traits. That is why genetic research must continue.

The real giant leap is saying that any differences are proven, or should even be assumed, to be due to social or cultural factors (or any non-genetic factors).

Maybe we have some different definition of social and cultural factors, but to me these are known facts about the history, geography, society and economy of a place which might explain why we find a given society as it is today. It seems obvious that explanations based on these knowns should take precedence over possible explanations that might one day be proven.

You find the evidence from cross ethnic adoption studies to be quite convincing, but I would be frankly amazed if there was a large body of cross ethnic adoption studies covering significant numbers of groups and traits (you imply yourself the impracticality of such an exercise), though I stand to be corrected (links?).

I am also surprised by this statement, "Purely cultural advantages with no genetic reliance generally look like they’re very quickly learned by people who have any degree of communication, certainly within a nation." This implies that we already know which cultural advantages are genetic and which are not, whereas I thought that we were at least pretending that this is still an open issue? And the statement further implies that any culture's advantages over other cultures will either dissappear very quickly (those not reliant on genetics), or will never dissappear or only very slowly disappear (those reliant on genetics). This does not really fit with any reading of history which I am familiar with. But again I stand to be corrected.

This from one of the links above seems to be the most sensible comment on here given our present state of knowledge.

"Q: One last question. Your paper on assessing genetic contributions to phenotype, seemed skeptical that we would ever tease out a group-wide genetic component when looking at things like cognitive skills or personality disposition. Am I reading that right? Are "intelligence" and "disposition" just too complicated?

A: (Risch) Joanna Mountain and I tried to explain this in our Nature Genetics paper on group differences. It is very challenging to assign causes to group differences. As far as genetics goes, if you have identified a particular gene which clearly influences a trait, and the frequency of that gene differs between populations, that would be pretty good evidence. But traits like "intelligence" or other behaviors (at least in the normal range), to the extent they are genetic, are "polygenic." That means no single genes have large effects -- there are many genes involved, each with a very small effect. Such gene effects are difficult if not impossible to find. The problem in assessing group differences is the confounding between genetic and social/cultural factors. If you had individuals who are genetically one thing but socially another, you might be able to tease it apart, but that is generally not the case.

In our paper, we tried to show that a trait can appear to have high "genetic heritability" in any particular population, but the explanation for a group difference for that trait could be either entirely genetic or entirely environmental or some combination in between.

So, in my view, at this point, any comment about the etiology of group differences, for "intelligence" or anything else, in the absence of specific identified genes (or environmental factors, for that matter), is speculation."

As much as people are accused of PC wishful thinking on race it seems that there are plenty of people that are willing to seize on any "evidence" to justify their a priori racial prejudices.

Or consider differences in sprinting ability, which has huge influence on, say, the NFL Draft going on now. Do we know all the genetics yet? No. Will we? Eventually, more or less? Can we say that blacks tend to be better sprinter than whites even if we don't all the genes yet? With a high degree of confidence, yes. The real world data is just overwhelming: e.g., the last 64 finalists in the men's 100m dash in the Olympics, going back to 1984) have been black -- and, typically, very black.

But you cannot just lump and split as you wish. "Blacks" have not won all recent 100m finals, people of west African ancestry, presumably with specific genes associated with fast twitch fibres, have won the recent 100m finals.
There has never been an East African winner. So no, you cannot say that "blacks" are better sprinters than "whites". And you cannot take every difference between groups and ascribe them to "racial" differences with the definition of race changing each time.

Of course he can - he does it all the time.

Apparently so. The 100m is actually an argument against the views of Steve Sailer. Even in a relatively simple activity such as getting a fast start and then running fast in a straight line the genetics makes up for about a 1% difference and still requires significant training and dedication. That is enough difference to win a medal at the pinnacle of elite performance in a simple physical task, but if that is the clearest and most significant difference between "the races" it really doesn't add up to much. That is before we get to much more complicated traits like intelligence or business acumen where the genetic basis is likely to be much more complicated and much more affected by environment.

Since you feel yourself qualified to speculate on this topic, I would think you ought to understand how basic principles any first year studying genetics knows.

I mean you didn't even reply to genetics vs. heritability point which is very important given heritability first of all does not eliminate non-random factors for example environment, second of all it doesn't account for one of the most key things in genetics, that GENES EXPRESS IN RESPONSE TO ENVIRONMENT, and shuts on and off in utero and in early childhood development in what is known as epigenetics. This carries over when you measure heritability alongside studying a parent and offspring in one environment and comparing it to a parent-offspring in a total different one.

There's a good lecture you ought to watch by a stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky, who also attacks the flaw among some human "behavioral geneticists" and evolutionary psychologists who seem first of all to not really understand genetics, second of all do not seem to now that you don't study things in two different developmental environments and conclude from that and third not to study things with remarkable conflating variables, which are inevitability things relating to human culture.

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I know nobody is reading this anymore, but the proponents of racial differences need to answer some of the criticisms in this review of Wade's book if they want to be taken seriously.

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