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A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Posted June 28, 2014

    This book is extremely controversial -- though I fear that many

    This book is extremely controversial -- though I fear that many of those who pan it haven't bothered to read it.
    In fact, most of the information here is well-known and scientifically accepted. The first point is that there are gene variations that affect behavior, just as there are genes that affect health. The second is that genes are not evenly distributed -- that some genes are more common in certain populations than in others. The third is that these genes could be said to run in groups. So, for example, the gene for sickle-cell anemia is common in people of African origin, rare in those not of African origin. The gene for lactose tolerance is common in Europeans, rare elsewhere. These are basic facts.
    And it is also fact that there are many genes which cluster in that same way. So there are groups of genes found typically in Europeans, in Africans, in people in the far east. This is fact. It is also fact that, using these genetic traces, it is possible to identify where a person's ancestors came from.
    Also, because genes influence behavior, it means that certain behaviors are more common in some populations than others.
    That's the nice way to put it. The hot-button way of expressing it is that "Race means something."
    It is perhaps unfortunate that Nicholas Wade chose to use the word "Race," because it frankly leads people to assume things that Wade does not assume. Saying that "race is real" is not the same as saying that (for instance) ALL Whites are more/less intelligent than ALL Blacks, or that ALL Blacks are faster/slower than ALL Whites, or any such thing. It just means that there are statistically measurable differences, in some areas, between peoples from different parts of the world.
    Of course there are. Tibetans can breathe at higher altitudes than most people. Inuit can handle colder temperatures than inhabitants of Kenya. But use the word "Race" and... it all goes crazy.
    So forget that Wade used the word "Race" and concentrate on what he has to say. And that is VERY interesting. He makes arguments about how genes could affect history, society, and culture. About where we might go in the future. Tremendously important ideas, if they can be verified.
    That is not to claim that everything in this book is correct. Wade reaches some conclusions I think dubious, and he fails to see some obvious logical consequences of the ideas he presents. It is not a perfect book. Rather, it is the starting point for what could be a tremendously fruitful discussion.
    If, and only if, people will actually read the book, and not read what they think it is about.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    Trashy speculative pseudoscience, by a non-scientist

    Racist, unscientific BS. Pass it by.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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