As many of you already know, the NY Times science editor Nicholas Wade is coming out with a new book this May: A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. From Amazon’s book description:
Fewer ideas have been more toxic or harmful than the idea of the biological reality of race, and with it the idea that humans of different races are biologically different from one another. For this understandable reason, the idea has been banished from polite academic conversation. Arguing that race is more than just a social construct can get a scholar run out of town, or at least off campus, on a rail. Human evolution, the consensus view insists, ended in prehistory.
Inconveniently, as Nicholas Wade argues in A Troublesome Inheritance, the consensus view cannot be right. And in fact, we know that populations have changed in the past few thousand years—to be lactose tolerant, for example, and to survive at high altitudes. Race is not a bright-line distinction; by definition it means that the more human populations are kept apart, the more they evolve their own distinct traits under the selective pressure known as Darwinian evolution. For many thousands of years, most human populations stayed where they were and grew distinct, not just in outward appearance but in deeper senses as well.
Advanced copies of the book have already been sent out, and quite a bit of commotion is beginning to build.
Given Wade’s popularity in scientific journalism and that fact that his previous books (e.g. Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors) have been best-sellers, how will the Cathedral deal with this book? What strategies will the Cathedral utilize to address it?
I’ve been thinking about this question and I see five options:
A. Try to criticize the actual arguments of the book and discredit them. A few might try unsuccessfully to do this, but given the fact that the evidence for human biodiversity is becoming overwhelming, I doubt many will even try.
B. Try to ignore the book. The Cathedral is able to do this for lesser-known authors, but Wade is fairly mainstream and widely read. This strategy will probably prove futile.
C. Point and sputter “racist,” etc. I’m sure many journalists will utilize this tactic. Who knows, maybe some journalist will discover that Wade once stayed at the same hotel as some politically incorrect figure, and by association of whom journalists will attempt to smear Wade. They’ll grasp for whatever straws they can find.
D. As Gregory Clark recently advised, the Cathedral could admit there is genetic inequality and instead of focusing on inequality focus on poverty. The initial shock of publicly admitting HBD is real would be great, as it would invalidate all the lies told over the past 75 years, but people would get over it and the Cathedral could shift gears and find other justifications for its pet projects. Nonetheless, I don’t see the Cathedral taking this route, as any acknowledgement of HBD would undermine its legitimacy.
E. Be honest, admit HBD is true, and let the chips fall where they may. Yea right!
Except for E, probably a little of all the above, but mostly C, I predict.
Roundup of Book Reviews of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance