More or less: Darwinian view of genes means racism is justified, courtesy New York Times.
“It’s the people, stupid: a review of Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance”
Chapter 9 is about the rise of the West, and contains a natural experiment I did not realise had taken place. Historian of science Huff explained that in 1608 a Dutch spectacle maker invented the telescope and within a few decades this spread around the world, thus putting all cultures on an even footing, allowing them to look up to the stars and come to some conclusions. For once, there was a level playing field. In Muslim India the calendar was revised, but the Ptolemaic system was retained and no telescopes were built for a century. In the Muslim Ottoman empire telescopes fared no better. They reached Istanbul by 1626, were used in the navy, but no improved telescopes or observatories were built, nor were European astronomy texts translated, and no debates took place about what the telescope revealed. China probably got the telescope in 1618 and recognised it helped predict astronomical events more precisely, as avidly demonstrated by Jesuits who were using it to drum up converts. The Emperor noted their successes, but he and his court had no interest in European research, despite the Jesuits feeding them all the relevant material. In Europe an Italian, hearing a description of the new device, built one himself, turned it to the heavens and observed the moons of Jupiter, used the existence of those satellites to provide empirical evidence in favour of the theory that planets were satellites of the sun, and thus favoured the helio-centric solar system hypothesis. This got him into trouble with the local religion, but his ideas shot across Europe anyway, starting a scientific revolution. However, he lacked a proof, even though he had the wit to use a pendulum as a timing device (but not as an earth bound indicator of the earth’s rotation). Just as well that, when shown the instruments of torture by the Inquisition, Galileo Galilei thought it prudent to recant his views (in public at least). Europeans were innovative, outward looking, eager to develop and apply new knowledge and sufficiently open, eventually, to have a revolution in thought. Elsewhere there was a deficit of curiosity.
Here a reviewer tries to revive the ghost of eugenics. Heck no.
Fellow science journalist Stephen Hsu defends Wade here.
The London Spectator gave the idea an entertaining cover.
Here’s a Scientific American review:
The last part of the book is likely to be regarded as more controversial because it deals mainly with effects of genetics on cognitive, social and personality traits and is much more speculative. However Wade fully realizes this and also believes that “there is nothing wrong with speculation, of course, as long as its premises are made clear”, and this statement could be part of a scientist’s credo. The crux of the matter is to logically ask why genes would also not account for mental differences between races if they do account for physical differences. The problem there is that although the hypothesis is valid, the evidence is slim for now. Some of the topics that Wade deals with in this third part are thus admittedly hazy in terms of evidence. For instance there is ample contemplation about whether a set of behavioral and genetic factors might have made the West progress faster than the East and inculcated its citizens with traits conducive to material success. However Wade also makes it clear that “progressive” does not mean “superior”; what he is rather doing is sifting through the evidence and asking if some of it might account for these more complex differences in social systems. Similarly, while there are pronounced racial differences in IQ, one must recognize the limitations of IQ, but more importantly should recognize that IQ says nothing about whether one human is “better” or “worse” than another; in fact the question is meaningless.
Okay. How about this: All questions are valid, but if people are really concerned about one thing or another, it might be useful to ask what answers they would accept as valid.
For example, if you want to know why Canada has a low rate of violent crime, it might be more useful to ask about our culture than about our (multi)ethnic makeup. Why do most newcomers, regardless of their ethnic makeup, just adjust?* (Others tend to get fined, jailed, or deported.)
Note: We’re not sayin’ nothin’ more because we never believed any part of this stuff anyway. People who agree to hate us are slitting each other’s guts and calling everyone else a “creationist.”
So thinking humans are not just like squirrels or cats means you are a creationist.
Hey, at one time we owned the brand. Just shows ya.
Like that poor fellow who bust into a local house. My neighbour was going to call into a right wing US talk show host’s program to protest his demeaning characterization of Canadians (as “pussies”). Then she remembered that her friend had called her that morning to tell her that, coming back from a party, she and her husband had surprised a fellow in their bedroom—and spent half the night talking to him about the importance of correct life choices, gave him $50, wished him well, and never called the police.
So my friend put down the phone and abandoned her place in line. Later, that guy himself called the host, claiming that he was seriously oppressed in Canada, because he just could not be free of all the well-meaning people who were trying to help him get his life on track. He would rather be in the worst jail in the United States than listen to any more of them. (Hey, think this one out, guys: = Low Canadian crime rate.)
If this didn’t happen, it certainly could have.
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