A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History

A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History - Nicholas Wade Wade is a Racist. That is how the ‘left thinking social sciences’ rate this book (see http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/23/a-troublesome-racial-smog/) – to be fair, Wade does not have much time for the left thinking social sciences either

Wade starts A Troublesome Inheritance with lots of disclaimers and reasons why this book is not ‘racist’. This doesn't instill much confidence, especially since the use of language in the book could be read, particularly by the left thinking social sciences looking for a reason to find offence, as quite deliberately offensive.

That aside there are some interesting points
1)The human ‘genes’ are the same for all ethnic groups
2)How those genes are expressed (Alleles) do vary between ethnic groups
3)Differences in ethnic groups can be explained if you accept that natural selection
a.Still happens in humans
b.Has happened in different ethnic groups since dispersal from Africa

So far nothing controversial.

Then Wade suggests that natural selection does not just affect physical attributes (skin colour, lactose tolerance, malaria resistance, etc) but also social aspects of human behaviour. In other words some groups may well be naturally selected to work in their social groups in a different manner from other groups. To be honest, with the current thinking around ‘memes’ and the interactions between these, and potentially the human brain, I don’t see this as particularly controversial – it is an idea with some merit which could do with further study.

If Wade had left it at this, granted, it would be a much shorter book – maybe he could have filled it up with some actual science and or read a bit wider around memes and culture – however he persists with the analysis, in what appears to be a very speculative way. I think this detracts from the original thrust of the arguments above - it certainly isn't helpful to suggest (without a hard-core understanding of the science, backed up with copious quantities of evidence) that natural selection at the genetic level is the reason why (to paraphrase the text) ‘Jews are good with money’, ‘tribal people (that is Africans and Middle Eastern Peoples) are more violent’ and ‘Western Europeans are better than everyone else because we invented the Industrial Revolution’. If there were legitimacy in the idea of genetic natural selection of social values and culture (to complement memes, which Wade doesn't even mention) then Wade has completely shot himself in the foot.

The only conclusion it is possible to make is that Wade is deliberately trying to stir people up. Certainly the idea that ‘race’ does not exist is, in my view, based in faulty or reactionary thinking, but I am not sure A Troublesome Inheritance is likely to do anything except legitimize those that want a good reason to be racist, or to push those that ‘don’t believe in race’ further into the hand of the ‘left thinking social sciences’.

The last chapter however, is actually quite good – summarising what is discussed, but in a much more sensible way. I’d recommend skipping to this if likely to get too offended.

Could have been done better.