Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade

Jennifer Raff —  May 21, 2014 — 574 Comments

“…for he has no right to give names to objects which he cannot define.” –Charles Darwin

Do “races” exist as meaningful biological categories? Physical anthropologists and human biologists have been studying race (i.e., blacks vs. whites, or Europeans vs. Asians) for centuries. For most of that time, they subscribed to the perspective that race was a taxonomic category, and they sought to identify the biological characteristics (such as cranial shape or skin color) that characterized and defined these different groups. This perspective assumed that each individual was a member of a single racial category, that the differences between racial categories were biological, and that these categories were predictive of other traits (such as ancestry, temperament, intelligence, or health).

But it gradually became clear that this understanding was not scientifically sound. Groupings of people by skin color did not produce the same result as groupings of people by skull shape, nor of blood type. Furthermore, as scientists began to study human variation with the tools of genetics (in the process creating my fields, anthropological genetics and human population genetics), it became apparent that human genetic variation does not divide humans into a few discrete groups. There are virtually no sharp boundaries, either with physical features or with patterns of genetic diversity, that show where one population “ends” and the next “begins”.

These observations have led the majority of physical anthropologists, human biologists, and human geneticists in recent decades to conclude that the racial groups we recognize are social categories constructed in a specific cultural and historical setting, even if we consider physical features when categorizing people. These social categories can have biological consequences (for example, someone who experiences the stress of racism may be more likely to develop high blood pressure and hypertension than someone who does not).

Racial groupings differ from culture to culture. For example, although in the United States Chinese and Japanese peoples are usually viewed as one “race” (Asian), they are seen as members of different racial groups in South Africa. Racial groupings also vary over time within a single culture, as can be seen below in the United States census classifications of race over several decades.

The United States census classifications of race or color, 1890-1990. Table 1 from Lee, S. (1993) “Racial classifications in the US census 1890-1990.” Ethnic and Racial Studies Volume 16 (1).

The United States census classifications of race or color, 1890-1990. Table 1 from Lee, S. (1993) “Racial classifications in the US census 1890-1990.” Ethnic and Racial Studies Volume 16 (1).

 

However, according to former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, we should never have stopped thinking of race as a biological taxonomic category. In his new book, “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History”, Wade takes it upon himself to educate scientists about the errors of our interpretations of human genetic diversity.

Wade claims that the latest genomic findings actually support dividing humans into discrete races, and that the genetic makeup of different races contributes to behavioral and economic disparities.   In a spectacular failure of logic, he asserts that those who disagree that races are meaningful biological categories in humans must ALSO think that human populations do not differ genetically, or have not been affected by evolution.

 

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

 

There is a lot to criticize in this book, particularly Wade’s imaginative storytelling in chapters 6-10 (“a much more speculative arena,” as he puts it). He explains that English populations have a “willingness to save and delay gratification”, which “seems considerably weaker in tribal societies” (pp. 184-185), and these differences must be genetically based, despite his admission that “the genetic underpinnings of human social behavior are for the most part still unknown” (p. 15), and numerous critiques of this hypothesis. In chapter 8, he asserts that Jews are adapted for capitalism in a manner analogous to the Eskimo’s adaptation to survival in an Arctic environment (p. 214) — an assertion unsupported by scientific evidence, to put it mildly. (Wade seems to be unaware of the consequences of laws prohibiting Jews from owning land and farming over much of Europe for centuries – and instead speculates that “their genes were adapted for success in capitalism”).

But others have already critiqued these aspects of his book. I’m far more interested in the central premise of Wade’s argument, which is passing unchallenged by all but a few reviews: “At least at the level of continental populations, races can be distinguished genetically, and this is sufficient to establish that they exist” (p. 122). If Wade is right and races are distinct biological categories, then we would reasonably expect that they would be unambiguously different from each other genetically and physically (as well as behaviorally, according to Wade). One should be able to define each race with a set of objective criteria, which could be used by any person to independently reach the same classifications (and number of classifications) as Wade. Furthermore, these categories should have predictive power; that is, features that define race should be in concordance with new discoveries of genetic diversity.

What is race?
To begin with, Wade can’t provide a clear definition of “race.” He tries to rely instead on loose associations rather than definitive characteristics, which forces him to conclude both that physical traits define race but that the traits can vary from person to person: “races are identified by clusters of traits, and to belong to a certain race, it’s not necessary to possess all of the identifying traits” (p. 121).

With such a shifty, casual footing, it’s no surprise that Wade’s conclusions are unsound. He can’t keep the number of races straight:

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 8.21.17 PM

Wade can’t settle on a definite number of races because he can’t come up with a consistent, rigorous definition of what “race” means. He uses terms like “major race”, “race”, “subrace”, “group”, or “population,” but doesn’t provide any serious, objective ways to distinguish between these terms for arbitrary groupings of people arbitrary groups.

Rather than just announcing his subjective opinions about race, Wade wants to ground them in science. He tries to use genetics: “Such an arrangement, of portioning human variation into five continental races, is to some extent arbitrary. But it makes practical sense. The three major races are easy to recognize. The five-way division matches the known events of human population history. And, most significant of all, the division by continent is supported by genetics.” (p. 94)

To support his claim, Wade relies heavily on a 2002 paper (by Rosenberg et al.) that used a program called structure to group people based on similarities in markers distributed across the genome. He notes that the program identified five major clusters in this 2002 study, which corresponded to the major geographic regions (Africa, Eurasia, East Asia, Oceania, and America) of the world. Therefore, Wade argues, these results clearly show that humans are divided up into racial categories that match continents.

Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve, who recently reviewed Wade’s book in the Wall Street Journal, agrees:

A computer given a random sampling of bits of DNA that are known to vary among humans—from among the millions of them—will cluster them into groups that correspond to the self-identified race or ethnicity of the subjects. This is not because the software assigns the computer that objective but because those are the clusters that provide the best statistical fit.

But Wade and Murray are both wrong. Structure didn’t simply identify five clusters. It also identified two, three, four, six, and seven clusters. (Rosenberg et al. 2002 actually identified up to 20 divisions, but 1-7 are the primary ones they discussed. They also divided their worldwide sample up into regions, and then ran structure within those regions, to look at more fine-scale population structure.)

 

Figure 1 from Rosenberg et al. 2003 showing Structure runs at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 populations. Each population is separated by a black line. Each thin vertical line represents one person. Ancestry groupings inferred from the program on the basis of genetic similarity are represented by different colors, so that a thin vertical line that is ~60% purple and 40% orange indicates a person who was inferred to have 60% ancestry from the “purple” genetic cluster and 40% ancestry from the “orange” genetic cluster.

Figure 1 from Rosenberg et al. 2002 showing structure runs at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 populations. Each population is separated by a black line. Each thin vertical line represents one person. Ancestry groupings inferred from the program on the basis of genetic similarity are represented by different colors, so that a thin vertical line that is ~60% purple and ~40% orange indicates a person who was inferred to have 60% ancestry from the “purple” genetic cluster and 40% ancestry from the “orange” genetic cluster.

 

Why? Researchers using structure have to define the number (K) of clusters in advance, because that’s what the program requires. The program was designed to partition individuals into whatever pre-specified number of clusters the researcher requests, regardless of whether that number of divisions really exists in nature. In other words, if the researcher tells structure to divide the sampled individuals into 4 clusters, structure will identify 4 groups no matter what–even if there is really only 1 group, or even if there are really 14 groups.

So, when Rosenberg et al. (2002) told structure to use K=6? They got six clusters, with the sixth corresponding to a northwestern Pakistani group, the Kalash. Does this make the Kalash a separate race? Wade doesn’t think so. When they told structure to use K=3? They got three clusters back, corresponding to Africa, Europe/Middle East/South Asia, and East Asia/Oceania/Americas. So are Native Americans and Australians not separate races? Rosenberg et al. never published any statistical evidence that justifies picking 5 races instead of 7, or 4, or 2 (although such methods do exist–see Bolnick et al. 2008). Wade seems to like K=5 simply because it matches his pre-conceived notions of what race should be:

“It might be reasonable to elevate the Indian and Middle Eastern groups to the level of major races, making seven in all. But then many more subpopulations could be declared races, so to keep things simple, the five-race, continent-based scheme seems the most practical for most purposes.” (p. 100)

Practical. Simple. Wade wants us to cut up human diversity into five races not because that’s what the statistical analyses show, but because thinking about it as a gradient is hard.
Wade isn’t even using the tools of genetics competently. The authors of the paper he relied on, as well as subsequent studies, showed that different runs of the program with the same data can even produce different results (Bolnick, 2008). Structure’s results are extremely sensitive to many different factors, including models, the type and number of genetic variants studied, and the number of populations included in the analysis (Rosenberg et al. 2005). When Rosenberg et al. (2005) expanded the 2002 dataset to include more genetic markers for the same population samples, they identified a somewhat different set of genetic clusters when K=6 (Native Americans were divided into two clusters and the Kalash of Central/South Asia did not form a separate cluster). In fact, Rosenberg et al. (2005) explicitly said:

“Our evidence for clustering should not be taken as evidence of our support of any particular concept of ‘biological race.’”

Finally, the creators of structure themselves caution that it will produce rather arbitrary clusters when sampled populations have been influenced by gene flow that is restricted by geographic distance (i.e. where more mating occurs between members of nearby populations than between populations that are located farther apart, a pattern we geneticists refer to as isolation by distance). As this pattern applies to the majority of human populations, it makes the results of structure problematic and difficult to interpret in many cases. These limitations are acknowledged by anthropological geneticists and population biologists, who interpret the results of structure cautiously. It’s very telling that Wade, a science reporter, chose to ignore the interpretations of the experts in favor of his own.

Human biological variation is real and important. I’ve studied it my entire professional career. We can see this variation most easily in physical traits and allele frequency differences between populations at extreme ends of a geographic continuum. Nobody is denying that. Let me repeat this: no one is denying that humans vary physically and genetically. All anthropologists and geneticists recognize that human differences exist. But Wade, and others who agree with him, have decided that certain patterns of variation—those which happen to support their predefined notions of what “races” must be—are more important than others.

Wade’s perspective fits with a larger pattern seen throughout history and around the world. Folk notions of what constitutes a race and how many races exist are extremely variable and culturally specific. For example, the Bible claims that all peoples of the world are descended from Noah’s three sons, mirroring the popular concept of three racial divisions (Caucasians, Africans, and Asians). On the other hand, the five-part division of races seems most “logical” to Wade. Anticipating confusion on this point he claims: “Those who assert that human races don’t exist like to point to the many, mutually inconsistent classification schemes that have recognized anywhere from 3 to 60 races. But the lack of agreement doesn’t mean that races don’t exist, only that it is a matter of judgment as to how to define them” (p. 92).

A matter of judgment. So, rather than being defined by empirical criteria, as Wade had asserted so confidently earlier in the book, it really is just a subjective judgment call. The differences between groups are so subtle and gradual that no objective lines can be drawn, so Wade draws his own on the basis of his own preconceptions.

How subtle is the gradient that Wade is chopping up? Humans are incredibly similar genetically. We only differ by about 0.1% of our genome. Compare that to chimpanzees, our closest relative. Individual chimps from the same population show more genetic differences than humans from different continents.

The genetic differences that exist in human populations are important, because they help us understand our evolutionary history. The most genetic diversity is found in populations in Africa, where our species originated. Subsequent migrations across the continents resulted in sampling a subset of the genetic diversity present in the ancestral populations; thousands of years of localized evolution and cultural practices have produced region-specific adaptations, such as the ability to thrive at high altitudes. These adaptations have influenced particular genes and traits, but the overall pattern of genetic variation is clinal, meaning that for the most part it varies gradually with geographic distance.  Groups that live close together are more closely related to each other (and more genetically similar) than they are to groups farther away. (People marry and have children more frequently with people who live close to them than they do with people who live farther away). Other evolutionary forces (founder effects, selection, drift, and migration) have all contributed to patterns of genetic diversity that we see in populations today.

But these patterns of human diversity don’t give us a scientifically viable definition of race as a taxonomic unit. As Agustin Fuentes puts it, with emphasis added:

“when you compare people from Nigeria, Western Europe and Beijing you do get some patterned differences…but these specific groups do not reflect the entire continental areas of Africa, Europe, and Asia (the proposed “continental races” of African, Caucasian and Asian). There are no genetic patterns that link all populations in just Africa, just Asia or just Europe to one another to the exclusion of other populations in other places. If you compare geographically separated populations within the “continental” areas you get the same kind of variation as you would between them. Comparing Nigerians to Western Europeans to people from Beijing gives us the same kind of differences in variation patterns as does comparing people from Siberia, Tibet and Java, or from Finland, Wales and Yemen, or even Somalia, Liberia and South Africa— and none of these comparisons demonstrates “races.”
In fact if you use the common level of genetic differentiation between populations used by zoologists to classify biological races (which they called subspecies) in other mammals, all humans consistently show up as just one biological race.”

(Also see Templeton AR, 2013. Biological races in humans. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.04.010)

Wade even seems to agree with population geneticists that there aren’t any races, just clinal distributions of genetic diversity: “Because there is no clear dividing line, there are no distinct races—that is the nature of variation within a species.” (p 92).

In other words, he can’t define distinct races. He just knows them when he sees them

I’ve focused a lot of this review on numerous technical details because I think that it’s very important that non-geneticists understand the degree to which Wade is distorting the results of recent research on genome-wide human variation. I won’t speculate whether this distortion is deliberate or a result of simple ignorance about genetics, but it is serious. There is a great deal more in this book that also needs to be critiqued, such as Wade’s assertion that the genetic differences between human groups determine behavioral differences, resurrecting the specter of “national character” and “racial temperaments”. But as I’ve shown here, Wade’s book is all pseudoscientific rubbish because he can’t justify his first and primary point: his claim that the human racial groups we recognize today culturally are scientifically meaningful, discrete biological divisions of humans. This claim provides a direct basis for the whole second half of the book where he makes those “speculative” arguments about national character.  In other words, the entire book is a house of cards.

It’s also worth noting the extent to which Wade’s argument here is a variation on the Galileo fallacy: the fact that one bravely holds a minority view in science is considered to be sufficient evidence of the worth of one’s position. I’ve seen it used over and over again in responses to my criticisms of pseudoscience, and it’s no more persuasive for Wade than it is for creationists or homeopaths.


Further reading:

“If scientists were to make the arbitrary decision that biological race is real, can you think of a positive outcome?” –a nice piece by Holly Dunsworth: http://ecodevoevo.blogspot.com/2014/05/if-scientists-were-to-make-arbitrary.html

Agustin Fuentes’ online debate with Wade: (https://aaanetevents.webex.com/ec0606l/eventcenter/recording/recordAction.do?theAction=poprecord&AT=pb&internalRecordTicket=00000001fcaac3649dadd2c6e78a2511ed436c75acea0fcceaf7ff0731dc4216dec6996b&isurlact=true&renewticket=0&recordID=8614987&apiname=lsr.php&needFilter=false&format=short&&SP=EC&rID=8614987&RCID=e801bfd96855006077205e3d2e023699&siteurl=aaanetevents&actappname=ec0606l&actname=%2Feventcenter%2Fframe%2Fg.do&rnd=4944230866&entactname=%2FnbrRecordingURL.do&entappname=url0108l)

“The troublesome ignorance of Nicholas Wade”, also by Agustin Fuentes:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/agustin-fuentes/the-troublesome-ignorance-of-nicholas-wade_b_5344248.html?utm_hp_ref=tw&utm_content=bufferfad4c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

“On the origin of white power” by Eric Michael Johnson:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2014/05/21/on-the-origin-of-white-power/

A critique of Structure:
Bolnick DA. Individual ancestry inference and the reification of race as a biological phenomenon. In: Koenig BA, Lee SS-J, Richardson SS, editors. Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press; 2008. pp. 77–85.

Jon Marks: “The genes made us do it: The new pseudoscience of race.”

http://inthesetimes.com/article/16674/the_genes_made_us_do_it

Barbujani and Colonna, 2010. Human genome diversity: frequently asked questions.

http://www2.webmatic.it/workO/s/113/pr-1400-file_it-Barbujani-Colonna.pdf

******************************************

Many thanks to Deborah Bolnick, Colin McRoberts, Jay Kaufman, Jonathan Kahn, Troy Duster, and Rick Smith.

 

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Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

574 responses to Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade

  1. 

    This question will likely make me unpopular with white supremacists and other assorted bigots around the world, but I was raised in a community with multiple European and African nationalities. I’d appreciate any non-technical scientific input you can provide, but in half a century as a writer and professional journalist, it has always seemed to me that, should a team of skilled forensic scientists be presented with a corpse lacking any skin to distinguish race or ethinicity, and lacking DNA testing, it would be virtually impossible to determine what the racial or national heritage of the corpse was. Is this just wishful thinking on my part or is there a basis in fact. Frankly, while I strongly believe in the Solutrean Hypothesis based on my own research, I want to vomit every time a see white supremacists on the internet embracing the Stanford/Bradley position solely because it would mean the Americas were first inhabited by whites. Don’t they realize all mankind came out of Africa?
    What’s your take?

    • 

      I shouldn’t write this late at night. My apologies to all for the incredible run-on sentence above. I know better. Just tired. :-)

    • 

      It’s wishful thinking. Although I don’t know why you’d be so bothered to learn that there are distinctive morphologies across the globe.

    • 

      *** corpse lacking any skin to distinguish race or ethinicity, and lacking DNA testing, it would be virtually impossible to determine what the racial or national heritage of the corpse was. Is this just wishful thinking on my part or is there a basis in fact***

      In fact forensic anthropologists can often identify the race of a person from their skeletal features.

      ***Don’t they realize all mankind came out of Africa?***

      Yes, the discussion is about human races, not whether there are separate _species_.

    • 

      Wade covers your hypothetical in the book. By skull features dominant race of the corpse can be determined accurately 80 percent of the time. I believe this is in the US, where races are often mixed (I don’t have the text; I listened to the book). If it the cases were of pure African, Asian, or white European corpses, the success rate would probably be higher.

      Skull features are also one of the most telling and hot-button issues as far as differences in the races, because they indicate, at least roughly, brain construction/mass, and possibly degree of departure from prehumans by characteristics such as prognathism.

    • 

      Have you ever thought about why you see bigots and supremacists everywhere around you? Have you heard about Freudian self-projection? I won’t coment on your knowledge of forensic anthropology, because it is absolutely ridiculous.

  2. 

    You know the golden rule, don’t you boy? Those who have the gold make the rules.

  3. 

    “But Wade, and others who agree with him, have decided that certain patterns of variation—those which happen to support their predefined notions of what “races” must be—are more important than others.”

    You are grossly misattributing cause and affect here. American society is insanely, massively, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously, OBSESSED with those predefined notions of “races.”

    Racial inequality, racial gaps in income, education, housing, employment, affirmative action, racial patterns in voting, incarceration, etc. etc.

    American society is to “race” as people who like TV are to Breaking Bad.

    Wade’s point, which should be really, really hard to miss, is to say to all the obsessed sociologists “hey guys, the ‘races’ your talking about are people with isolated geographic ancestries. Their recent evolutionary diversions have left them with clusters of differing allele frequencies that lead to disparate physical and behavioral traits. You might see fit to try to take the differences into account in your analyses, you know, instead of pretending they don’t exist or outright denying that they exist because of some weird ideology.”

    • 

      Except that Wade has no evidence that these behavioral traits, that he attributes to genetic differences, actually exist. He speculates that they exist, he assumes they exist, but there is no evidence for it. These behavioral traits, based on genetic differences, that you think should be taken into account, are simply made up out of whole cloth to fit pre-existing biases.

      • 

        “These behavioral traits, based on genetic differences, that you think should be taken into account, are simply made up out of whole cloth to fit pre-existing biases.”

        Or completely over exaggerated.

      • 

        LOL – behavioral traits are made up? That’s crazy!

        • 

          Behavioral traits that can be ascribed to genetic causes are what is made up. Wade has long been a proponent of “there is a gene for X,” for example, a speech gene, a God gene, and so on, and wrote many misguided columns about it.. He wrote a whole book about a God gene, the hypothetical and non-existent faith instinct. Now he has done the same thing for behavioral traits, i.e., there is a gene for X.

          • 

            “Behavioral traits that can be ascribed to genetic causes are what is made up.”

            Lol. So gays aren’t born that way? So conversion therapies are cool? I’ll page Rick Santorum

      • 

        Physical and cognitive differences exist. Stands to reason behavior differences exist as well. But regardless, the lack of strong evidence to the third does not justify ignoring the first two.

        So, for example, the “racial gap” in education is well explained in part by the corresponding IQ gap between the same groups. Instead of analyzing academic achievement through a racial lens at all, Sociologists could accept that if the kids at school A have an average IQ of 90 and the kids at school B have an average IQ of 110 then the kids at A won’t score nearly as well on the ACT as the kids at school B. This seems a sound alternative to declaring school A a “failing” school and threatening to fire teachers for being lazy or incompetent, as evidenced by their students sub-par ACT scores.

        It doesn’t even matter really if one wants to ignore the mountain of evidence that general intelligence is real and highly inherited. Even the most solipsistic rationals about how racism or cultural bias in testing has managed to cause an entire standard deviation in average IQ between European and African descended Americans, or the belief that general intelligence is a myth and correspondence between IQ and academic achievement is the result of evil witchcraft, would not require the cruelty of firing teachers for not performing the impossible, would not require sending black students to universities they can’t compete in and seeing them drop out or flunk out in large numbers, etc.

        • 

          Anyone who thinks that the huge variety of human talents can be summed up in a single number can’t be, ahem, very intelligent. I suspect that you don’t understand the mathematics of IQ sufficiently well to see its flaws.

          It’s scarcely an exaggeration to say that IQ measures your similarity to the psychologists who set the tests. On that basis I’d be rather worried if I scored highly.

  4. 

    ***We only differ by about 0.1% of our genome. ***

    As BGI Cognitive Genomics Project member Steve Hsu notes:

    “A common argument is that 99.9 percent genetic similarity cannot leave room for “consequential” differences. But modern humans and Neanderthals are almost as similar (~ 99.8 percent; we have high accuracy sequences now for Neanderthals), and there are significant differences between us and them: both physical and cognitive. However, because humans and Neanderthals are known to have interbred, we are still part of the same species. (Would it be fair to refer to them as a separate “race”? Is the modern-Neanderthal difference merely a social construct?) Furthermore, this 0.1 percent genetic variation accounts for human diversity encompassing Confucious, Einstein, Shaq and Shakespeare.”

    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/whats-new-since-montagu.html

    • 

      What is that 0.1% difference in though? Whats the 0.2% difference between Neanderthals and us in? Difference in actual genes vs alleles makes big difference to what you are measuring.

      Also the debate as to weather Neanderthals were cognitively that different to us is still far from resolved. Have you even tried to look at the other side? Just go to google and check.

      On top of that even the old ideas of different hominid species are under threat. Go check the “Georgia skull” on google.

      “Confucious, Einstein, Shaq and Shakespeare” What would their difference be if they had the same environment? From inside moms tummy to the identity placed on them by the world.

      These people are on the extremes too. Even then how different are they in personality? Why don’t you try measure the similarities first.

      • 

        If you’re going to have to keep enlarging “the single and only race of humanity” to include groups alive a million years ago, this is going to get even sillier.

      • 

        ***Also the debate as to weather Neanderthals were cognitively that different to us is still far from resolved. ***

        @ Gugu,

        I know. My point and the point Hsu is making, is that the .1% different claim is fairly meaningless. You can get significant variation.

        ***“Confucious, Einstein, Shaq and Shakespeare” What would their difference be if they had the same environment? From inside moms tummy to the identity placed on them by the world.***

        Probably pretty significant. Somehow I doubt that Einstein would be able to play basketball like Shaq! Also, behavioural traits are heritable (a significant portion of the variation between individuals is due to variation in their genes).

        • 

          “I know. My point and the point Hsu is making, is that the .1% different claim is fairly meaningless.”

          No its not because the fact that the 0.1% is in the same kind of thing makes a difference to the statement. Its in allele variations of the same genes. Its not the same thing as the difference between monkeys and humans, or even female and male.

          “Somehow I doubt that Einstein would be able to play basketball like Shaq!” Einstein would be able to play basketball though. He might even be pretty good who knows, maybe not pro but good. You don’t need to dunk to be good at basketball. See thats the thing, the difference you are measuring is very small, even when comparing extremes.

          Behavioral traits are heritable but they are less heritable than things like height(shaq). On top of that height has been changing on average per population by margins as big as the differences between groups now. Its a few centimeters by generation, way faster than selection can have an effect. Same goes for things like IQ. Also heritable does not mean its caused by genes, it just means something was passed down. It could be epigenetics or prenatal, things your grandmother ate can effect you.

          What if people simply don’t want research done on them or for them to be grouped based on genes? Then what? They have no rights simply because “SCIENCE!”?

          • 

            “Behavioral traits are heritable but they are less heritable than things like height”–NOT TRUE!!

            Actually some behavioral traits (such as intelligence as measured by IQ) are heritable to the approximately the same degree as height (about 60 to 80% of variation due to genetics).

            The problem is that you Environmentalists (Politically Correct but Scientifically Incorrect) want to shut down the views of us Hereditarians (Politcally Incorrect but Scientifically Correct) by ruling us out of order just because our viewpoint is inherently “RACIST”.

            But unfortunately to a large degree the scientific TRUTH is indeed RACIST.

            Eventually the truth will win out, modern science is sort of like the supreme court. During the next ten years our Hereditarian theory of ethnoracial group differences will win the day in the court of science. Sorry about that.

          • 
            anonymousskimmer June 1, 2014 at 11:01 am

            @Galtonian:

            IQ is not a behavioral trait, any more than height is a behavioral trait. Both IQ and height will have effects on behavior, such as ducking under doors, but these are side effects, not direct effects.

  5. 

    The knee jerk reaction people have to this whole thing is more than justified.

  6. 

    “In fact if you use the common level of genetic differentiation between populations used by zoologists to classify biological races (which they called subspecies) in other mammals, all humans consistently show up as just one biological race.”

    Except that charlatan Templeton mixes up apples with oranges in order to achieve the desired result.

  7. 

    “So, when Rosenberg et al. (2002) told structure to use K=6? They got six clusters, with the sixth corresponding to a northwestern Pakistani group, the Kalash. Does this make the Kalash a separate race? Wade doesn’t think so.”

    What if we sampled more populations between southern Russia and Afghanistan?

  8. 

    “But Wade and Murray are both wrong. Structure didn’t simply identify five clusters. It also identified two, three, four, six, and seven clusters.”

    Yes. Depending on the growing degree of genetic diversification. What’s wrong with that?

  9. 

    “A matter of judgment. So, rather than being defined by empirical criteria, as Wade had asserted so confidently earlier in the book, it really is just a subjective judgment call. The differences between groups are so subtle and gradual that no objective lines can be drawn, so Wade draws his own on the basis of his own preconceptions.”

    Let’s abolish the whole Linneaus taxonomy. It’s subjective, after all. Where to draw a line between an order, family or class?

  10. 

    “How subtle is the gradient that Wade is chopping up? Humans are incredibly similar genetically. We only differ by about 0.1% of our genome. Compare that to chimpanzees, our closest relative. Individual chimps from the same population show more genetic differences than humans from different continents.”

    Except that genetic differences between subspecies of big apes approach the level of speciation, right?

    Compare genetic differences among human races with genetic differences documented in subspecies of other mammalian species….

    https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/woodley-2009-is-homo-sapiens-polytypic-human-taxonomic-diversity-and-its-implications.pdf

  11. 

    “Also see Templeton AR, 2013. Biological races in humans. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2013.04.010

    Would professor Templeton finally give us a favor and retire? Or will he continue in his self-destructive, masochistic blamage?

  12. 

    Thank you Jennifer for this well written rebuttal to Wade’s race nonsense. I’m curious as to what racists want to do with all of their “race is scientific” theories. Enslave the lesser races? Exterminate the lesser races? What exactly is the value of determining that mankind is separated into several distinct races? Or the value of decrying the fact that race is a social construct which has been used by White supremacists to justify their racist actions against Blacks, Native Americans, Indigenous Australians, etc.?

    That’s what I’d really like to know. Wade and ilk should just cut to the chase and be forthcoming about their desires. Unfortunately for them, racism isn’t quite as acceptable as it used to be. Hence their desperation to cloak it in scientific language.

  13. 

    This here quote is outdated:

    “There are no genetic patterns that link all populations in just Africa, just Asia or just Europe to one another to the exclusion of other populations in other places.”

    Actually, there is a genetic “pattern” that links the vast majority of populations in Europe, and right now it’s probably best known as Western European Hunter-Gatherer ancestry. See here:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.6639v2

    The only Europeans that lack this ancestry are groups like Ashkenazi Jews and probably Roma, both of which aren’t usually considered to be native to Europe, and also a few populations from the edge of continental Europe, like eastern Sicilians.

    • 

      Bahahahahaha.

    • 
      Larry Moniz, Multiple Award-winning author and Investigative Reporter. June 13, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Half a century ago I waded through a book called “Mein Kampf” in an effort to understand the maniacal mind of a certain “Fuhrer” of the German people. Whille on the surface some of his rationalizations seemed mildly plausible, I found the totally to be one of the scariest things ever written, Edgar Allen Poe notwithstanding. I found some of the labels and rationalizations being tossed about here virtually just as offensive: “Wade claims that the latest genomic findings actually support dividing humans into discrete races, and that the genetic makeup of different races contributes to behavioral and economic disparities. In a spectacular failure of logic, he asserts that those who disagree that races are meaningful biological categories in humans must ALSO think that human populations do not differ genetically, or have not been affected by evolution.”

      Then there’s the 2012 story about American Indian genetics carried in the Boston Globe: As I noted in my recent paper “Chasing the Beringia Land Bridge Myth” (Amazon Kindle, 2014: “Perhaps the most interesting portion of the story was a few sentences further down, in which the Boston Globe quoted one scientist as saying: “Geneticists, we’re sort of amateurs — we’re not steeped in the deep understanding of history the linguists and archeologists have, but we do have access to information they don’t,” according to David Reich, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School who led the study, along with a scientist at the University College, London.” Perhaps, but most scientsts work with an escape clause carefully inserted into their research findings. Words and phrases such as: “perhaps, maybe, conclude, lead us to believe, indicate and even maybe.” It’s rather like weather forecasting in he first half of the 20th Century. In their rush to build reputations for themselves, some scientists simply make educated guesses that are passed off as the latest knowledge in a field. The sad part is that even when those findings are later refuted by others, the orginial scientists who reached such conclusions then stick by them and prefer to look like the proverbial court jester, or fool, rather than accept the current reality.

      • 
        Larry Moniz, Multiple Award-winning author and Investigative Reporter. June 13, 2014 at 7:21 am

        Nt apologies for the typo, the end of the third line should read: “I found the totality to be one…”

  14. 

    Do dog breeds exist, or are they a social construct? We can breed wolves with dogs, does that mean the wolf/dog distinction is useless and irrelevant?

    If we can breed canis lupus familiaris for behavioral traits, why not homo sapiens?

    If intelligence aids survival and reproductive fitness, wouldn’t it have a genetic component, just like strength, agility, lactose tolerance, etc.? (Humans consistently mate within about a half-SD on the IQ curve, by the way.)

    I can look at a picture of Jennifer Raff and a picture of Rachel Jeantel and tell you what genetic testing would confirm: Jennifer has fewer ancestors in common with Rachel than she does with other Anglo-Europeans. It’s not just a social construct.

    • 

      For that matter, if intelligence is not genetic then how can you explain the differences in intelligence between, say, humans and chimpanzees…or caterpillars?

      Clearly behavior has genetic origins – we see it in the innate behaviors of innumerable species, including humans. They appear in us from infancy – mouthing, grasping, the Moro reflex, etc. – and there are even observed racial differences in behavior in infants. Clearly, if nature can hardwire a critical behavior into our DNA it will do so, because that is generally far more efficient and a far greater guarantor of survival than having to learn such behaviors anew with each generation.

      But while Dr. Raff openly acknowledges that physical traits have genetic origins, she adamantly refuses to acknowledge genetic origins of many behavioral traits. How much evidence does she need?

      Don’t get me wrong – I get what Dr. Raff is saying. She may be right, in one sense, that you cannot provide strict (or at least easy and obvious) criteria which define what constitutes a “race.” Race is defined by genetic variation, and there are simply too many genes in the human genome to draw clear boundaries. We can’t even say how many races there are. But that is no different than asking me how many relatives I have. What counts as a relative? Parents, siblings, first cousins, third cousins once removed? Given how blurred the notion of “family member” becomes at the edges, should we now and forever ban use of the concept of “family”?

      Dr. Raff is an anthropological geneticist, and when she looks at the human genome, she sees complexity. That’s exactly what we should expect of her. But while the rest of the world may appreciate complexity, we also want clarity. The failure to clearly and easily define race does not mean that they therefore do not exist, or that they don’t serve ofttimes as a useful classification for laymen or even, occasionally, for scientists.

      But since there is no such thing as race, I sincerely hope we can get Dr. Raff to lend her voice to the movement opposing affirmative action, quotas, and set-asides – or perhaps even oppose laws banning “racial” discrimination – since, of course, you cannot have such policies if there is no such thing as “race.”

  15. 

    Colin said: i>The Atlantic Ocean separates my family from our ancestors in Ireland and/or Scotland. Are we different races?

    A show of hands: how many people did not at this point realize (assuming they had not already) that Colin is either

    a) pathologically dense, or

    b) arguing in bad faith and sophistry in order to hide the fact that he’s losing out to Chuck et al.?

    Anyone?

    BTW, for those more familiar with Colin’s posting, how often does he remind the reader that he is a lawyer, and does this get less or more annoying with each repetition? Given Colin’s interest in having Steve Sailer answer the questions put to him, perhaps he might chime in on any of the above.

    • 

      HA, one of those things we learn in law school (I’m a lawyer, BTW) is to test assertions. Sailer asserted that the Atlantic Ocean is “a highly objective line between races.” We can test that assertion by asking whether it’s possible to identify populations separated by the Atlantic Ocean that aren’t in fact separate races by anyone’s reckoning. It’s a little tricky because it’s hard to tell how different racialists define “race.” Sailer seems to do it by a visual estimation, based on his assessment of Fuentes, or else by an arbitrary assessment of whether their families are inbreeding closely enough in time.

      I think either measure is just a proxy for Sailer’s gut instinct. And I suspect that he would decide that I and my British ancestors are all part of the same race, despite the “highly objective line between races” that lies between us, and has for at least a century.

      How far would I have to be from those ancestors before Sailer would assign us to different races? I can’t say–only he can, because his assessment is purely subjective. The presence of the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t make it objective, nor does the passage of some arbitrary amount of time.

      In other words, Sailer’s casual definition of a “highly objective line between races” is neither objective nor a line between races.

      Why do you get angry about people who are skeptical about racialist theories? I don’t tend to see that in people who are engaged in a serious analysis of the facts.

      • 

        Hi Colin. Read my comment below. It was stimulated by your discussion with Chuck. i think it might address some of your criticisms and I’d like feedback if I’m missing something or getting it wrong.

        • 

          Sure. It’s quite long so I probably won’t get to it for a few days–I leave on a business trip in a few hours and won’t be able to check in much until later in the week. Sorry to so poorly reward the effort you went to.

      • 

        “one of those things we learn in law school (I’m a lawyer, BTW) is to test assertions. Sailer asserted that the Atlantic Ocean is “a highly objective line between races.” We can test that assertion by asking whether it’s possible to identify populations separated by the Atlantic Ocean that aren’t in fact separate races by anyone’s reckoning”

        Surely his point is that when we talk about races, we are talking about populations that underwent some divergent evolution in their ancestral lands. The Atlantic Ocean did prevent cross fertilization of the African and South American populations. They picked up more and more different mutations as the generations went on and thus their evolution started to diverge and a genetic distance was established between them. Now those of African descent that live in Brazil have genomes more like Africans in Africa than like native south Americans (carrying the marks of their ancestors Africa based evolution) . That’s why they look like Africans and have hair like Africans, because they are genetically Africans. That is their ancestral land, home to their recent ancestors.

        • 

          That may have been his ultimate point, but it doesn’t make the Atlantic Ocean an objective line between races; the extent of the genetic separation necessary to divide one race from another is still utterly subjective, not objective.

      • 

        Okay, so make whatever criticisms you want, if you want. I will read them but I can’t spend too much more time on this so I wont reply as I don’t want to get into a debate. Like I said in the main post, I don’t think it really matters all that much whether we use the word race, as long as we recognise genetic variation in its particular complexity and its particular character, including the continental clusters and whatever else. Naturally, we will also realise that for any given allelle or set of allelles, some populations and population clusters will have them in greater or lesser frequency. Thus its entirely theoretically possible to for SS African populations to be better dancers for genetic reasons (assuming the brain and nervous has something to do with dancing and genetics have something to do with the brain and nervous system) or whatever other behavioural and cognitive differences we observe. Its all theoretically possible- the divergent evolution need not be skin deep. Humans could vary just as much cognitively as they do in appearance, and in patterns that correlate with the appearance variations as they are markers of divergent evolution.

        Anyway, all that seems to me to be possible and whether we use the term race is largely academic, is it not? But don’t get me wrong- I do not hope that those different group averages exist, especially in intelligence. Just as the debate over the concept of race is mainly of academic relevance, the issue of race and IQ will either be resolved by genetic studies or probably not at all. The studies that will lead to that and even potentially to neo-eugenics are preceding as we speak. So I may as well stop talking about it and just wait for information to come out over the next few decades. I hope if there does turn out to be racial IQ differences that humanity can handle it maturely and without resorting to unwise or harmful courses of action (I’m not terribly optimistic about this). I am curious though.

        • 

          Lastly, for full disclosure, in case its not blatantly obvious already, I’m not speaking as any kind of qualified expert. Just an interested layman like yourself.

  16. 

    One of the main criticisms of the idea of race seems to be that although human populations do cluster into groups with various genetic distances between them, the number of clusters you chose to value is arbitrary; the computer can divide all of the genomes into however many clusters are pre specified and which number of clusters you give importance to depends on social preconceptions of what race means.

    The problem is sometimes described as one of resolution and granularity. This is how I conceptualise it: presuming that you have a diagram of population clusters on a computer screen (with proportional genetic distances shown), and you have information for 1 to 100 clusters, you could ‘zoom in’ to look at each of the 100 degrees of resolution and see a different number of races (although presumably zooming in still maintains the presence of the larger clusters but just gives more minute detail). In my diagram, the dot or blob representing a population could be sized according to population size to show significant outliers like South Asians…and as you zoom in the blobs differentiate into smaller ones. Any preference for a particular number is said to be unjustified and chosen to support socially popular preconceptions. Am I getting this right?

    Lets say you look at the highest resolution image you can practically fit on a computer screen and still show genetic distance accurately; would it not be visible to the eye that there are a certain number of major clusters in the data? A cluster *obviously* being a group of populations in which the two most distant from one another are significantly closer than either are to the nearest population from another major cluster. Would that not then give you something that can be reasonably described or meaningfully described as major races? You could then have as many typologies of minor races as you wished.

    Note that demanding less clusters than the true amount would give a misleading picture but you could not demand more major clusters than there are…after a certain point, you would see all the major clusters and further zooming would only lead to more detail in each cluster.

    Or is it messier than I am making out? Aren’t such clusters obviously apparent in the data itself? Would this still hold (that most populations are part of a major cluster, of which there are x amount) if you literally had data for every human genome…or are the clusters appearing more separate due to selective choosing of populations, leaving out intermediary populations?

    Would the clusters not correspond to major geographic areas like continents and also patterns of migration out of Africa such that you could add lines connecting the dots to shows lineage and splits between clusters and populations over time? You could presumably also map the cluster diagram onto a map of the world- showing all the correct distances between all the populations on the same diagram would presumably produce a diagram in which the clusters would take the same relative positions as the continents, though not necessarily in proportion to the geographic distances. In this case the different approaches to race (genetic populations, lineages, geographically isolated populations) are seen as simply different parts of the same picture, not mutually exclusive arbitrary conceptions. They ARE genetic population clusters and at the same time they ARE lineages that migrated, moved to relatively isolated locations, formed breeding populations (populations in which the members breed with each other at a significantly higher frequency than with outsiders), and diverged genetically (which is why there are the clusters). Other (pre-scientific?) conceptions based on looks are crude and antiquated…they could tell something was going on but we can now understand what.

    The striking thing is that before genetic analysis, we could so accurately identify major genetic clusters by looking, though this wasn’t infallible and could lead to mistakes- there are south east Asians that look very very like Africans despite large genetic distance because they have the same equatorial adaptations to climate. I could even tell the difference between some of the minor clusters. For example, I’m confident I could tell the difference between a group of Irish men and Dutch men by looking at them- that’s how visible even a relatively small amount of divergence can be. We could tell a lot by looking, even if we could also make mistakes that way. The traditional classifications were not completely arbitrary- they did correspond to genetic groups.

    Social classifications are not ‘completely arbitrary’. You couldn’t just make up one and say it is equally valid as the traditional classifications. For example: ‘there are five races: those from the west side of continents, east, north, south, and central.’ Or a completely arbitrary ‘race 1: South Asians and Australian aborigines; race 2: Native south Americans and Europeans’ etc. None of these definitions could find any genetic support whatsoever, whereas the traditional classifications can.

    One could say that there is no single valid conception of race because there are so many possible racial typologies, from ones that identify 5 races to ones that identify 100 or 1000. But even from that point of view, it is not strictly accurate to say that ‘race’ however defined has no biological validity. All the typologies have biological validity. And if it can be operationalsied in a simple, clear way (like Chuck’s genetic similarity principle) then it is meaningful and potentially useful. Its simply up to us whether we chose to use it. Plus as I have argued, there conceptually could a definite number of obvious major clusters, meaningfully described as races. Or perhaps not, depending on whether you chose to use that word.

    In any case, even if you think that genetic variation is too messy to fit traditional conceptions of race, or there is no definitive typology emerging from the data itself, or you just choose not to use the term race because you think it could be in some way harmful, and so you don’t call the clusters races and you abandon the language of race and just talk about populations and clusters, this doesn’t in any way undermine the arguments about population average IQ differences being genetic. So you can talk about this in either racial or non-racial terms, as follows: Option 1) The European race has a higher IQ than the African race. Option 2) European populations have higher average IQs than Sub Saharan African populations (due to differing frequencies of IQ boosting alleles in those populations.) Or if you want to be more specific, for example, 3) the national average IQ of Nigeria is significantly lower than the national average IQ of Britain due to variation in the frequency of IQ boosting mutations. Same could be true for any number of other traits.

    So, the issue of whether or not races exist is academic. To say that they don’t doesn’t really make all that much difference to anybody and doesn’t circumvent the problem of group IQ differences and whether they are genetic. Or any number of other contentions.

    Given that that is so, the hbd movement, however nice or nasty, positive or negative, could survive the deconstruction or abolition of race as a concept, and could even potentially accept it and continue to talk about human biological diversity, which exists, even as acknowledged by those who argue against ‘race’ as a concept. That is not to mention that part of their purview is biological gender differences.

    • 

      The above comment is not Steve Sailor. You can probably tell pretty easily by reading it but I thought I’d make it absolutely clear. I’m a Steve that comments occasionally on HBD blogs.

    • 

      I withdraw this statement: “You could presumably also map the cluster diagram onto a map of the world- showing all the correct distances between all the populations on the same diagram would presumably produce a diagram in which the clusters would take the same relative positions as the continents, though not necessarily in proportion to the geographic distances.” I don’t think that’s exactly true but it doesn’t make any difference to the rest of the paragraph. The lineage lines would still correspond to migration patterns and the clusters to relative geographic isolation. So population genetic clusters, and the migration, separate lineages and geographic isolation (usually due to natural barriers) would still all line up and provide complimentary parts of a full picture.

  17. 

    Note: even if there has been cross fertilization through history, there has been enough relative isolation for the human population to differentiate into clusters and not enough cross fertilization to counteract that. So what difference does the degree of cross fertilization make? There has obviously not been enough to stop the development of ‘races’ or clusters… and in fact in some cases there might have been very little for long periods of time anyway.

  18. 

    I read A Troublesome Inheritance and found it interesting but incomplete. I learn more from Understanding Creation and Evolution: A Biblical and Scientific Comparative Study by Howard Ray White, which I found on Amazon. Truthseeker

  19. 

    Que bonito blog, hace unos dias encontre esto en la red, y pues la verdad soy seguidor de este blog ahora, Yo tambien tengo un Blog de Preguntas para Ask Visitenlo es una gran red Social

  20. 

    Hey maybe this will be of interest, its in relation to these twin studies and heritability stuff.

    http://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/still-chasing-ghosts-a-new-genetic-methodology-will-not-find-the-missing-heritability/

  21. 

    ” If Wade is right and races are distinct biological categories, then we would reasonably expect that they would be unambiguously different from each other genetically and physically (as well as behaviorally, according to Wade). ”

    No, we don’t. You are making the same old continuum fallacy that is in every egalitarian article.
    Vagueness alone does not necessarily imply invalidity.
    Just because something cannot be defined precisely it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
    Can you tell me for example where the color red commences on a rainbow? No, you cant but it doesn’t mean that the color red doesn’t exist.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Roundup of Book Reviews of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance | Occam's Razor - May 21, 2014

    […] Raff:  “Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade”  (Another twist on Lewontin’s Fallacy.  See Gregory Cochran’s: Phenotypes vs […]

  2. I would not want to be Nicholas Wade right now » Pharyngula - May 21, 2014

    […] Two more meaty reviews of his li’l book of racism: One by Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist who debated Wade, and the other by Jennifer Raff, yet another anthropologist with expertise in genetics. […]

  3. I would not want to be Nicholas Wade right now – Pharyngula - May 22, 2014

    […] Two more meaty reviews of his li’l book of racism: One by Agustin Fuentes, an anthropologist who debated Wade, and the other by Jennifer Raff, yet another anthropologist with expertise in genetics. […]

  4. What we’re reading: The vital importance of mosquitoes’ gut microbes, an app for classroom genetics, and how to fish for p-values without really trying | The Molecular Ecologist - May 22, 2014

    […] “Wade wants us to cut up human diversity into five races not because that’s what the statistical analyses show, but because thinking about it as a gradient is hard.” […]

  5. PZ Myers Wades into the Troublesome Inheritance controversy | Uncommon Descent - May 22, 2014

    […] that our second favourite neutral theorist (or whatever) PZ Myers has wade-ed into the comments to this post by Jennifer Raff, on Nicholas Wade’s new book attempting to rehabilitate Darwinian racism, A […]

  6. The construction of race | Rturpin's Blog - May 23, 2014

    […] are lauding it, while biologists and anthropologists are more critical. Jennifer Raff explains why the genetics is not what Wade claims. And that is the bottom line. Work that is built on genetics has to get the […]

  7. Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade – Some further comments from the PoV of brain research | Shane O'Mara's Blog - May 23, 2014

    […] This is a superb and important piece by Jennifer Raff. I would make a few comments from brain science regarding this debate. There has been a very serious and large-scale effort in neuropsychiatric genetics and neurological genetics to pin down genes of relevance to conditions such as depression, schizophrenia and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. To put it mildly, these ‘in your face’ brain disorders (there’s little subtlety about these conditions) have yielded many disappointments by way of really meaningful effect sizes or gene relationships. The literature is replete with examples of disappearing effect sizes, where initial large effects disappear on replication or increased sample size (here are a few: BDNF; 5’-HTTLPR; genes for ‘alcoholism’; have a look at this Dorothy Bishop piece). Instead, the picture is very complicated with multiply-related small effects – and this is in well-controlled studies with clinical registers and disabling psychopathological conditions (see this wonderful piece on statistical genomics and schizophrenia as a good example).  […]

  8. Links 5/23/14 | Mike the Mad Biologist - May 23, 2014

    […] Way too many doctors are prescribing antibiotics in error, study says The First GMO Field Tests: From their very first field test in 1987, GMOs have been the subject of intense debate. What we fight about when we fight about GMOs. Historical Trends in Predoc and Postdoc Stipends and Average Grant Sizes The Big Melt Accelerates Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade […]

  9. I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (05 May 2014) – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science - May 24, 2014

    […] in its logic & blatantly misrepresents evolutionary biology”; Jennifer Raff looks at the ‘scientific façade’ of genetics in the book; H Allen Orr dives deep into its […]

  10. Reestablishing the Significance of Race: Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” rebuts the pseudoscience of race denial | The Occidental Observer - White Identity, Interests, and Culture - May 24, 2014

    […] example, University of Texas genetics professor Jennifer Raff faults Wade because computer programs designed to find genetic clusters in human populations can be […]

  11. I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (05 May 2014) | Gaia Gazette - May 24, 2014

    […] in its logic & blatantly misrepresents evolutionary biology”; Jennifer Raff looks at the ‘scientific façade’ of genetics in the book; H Allen Orr dives deep into its […]

  12. Nicholas Wade’s Book has Officially Abolished the “Race is a Social Construct” Lie | Daily Stormer - May 26, 2014

    […] example, University of Texas genetics professor Jennifer Raff faults Wade because computer programs designed to find genetic clusters in human populations can be […]

  13. Nicholas Wade and Race: Building a Scientific Façade | - May 27, 2014

    […] post originally appeared on the author’s personal blog. Click here to read the complete version and participate in a discussion about […]

  14. How A Troublesome Inheritance gets human genetics wrong | The Molecular Ecologist - May 29, 2014

    […] to take issue with Wade’s claims. Biological anthropologist Jennifer Raff has published a withering critique of Wade’s populaton genetics argument, which covers much of what I will discuss here. I […]

  15. Nicholas Wade defends “A Troublesome Inheritance” | VDARE.COM - May 30, 2014

    […] Jennifer Raff’s effort. Read the comments, especially by Chuck (from whom I borrowed that Darwin quote in my last […]

  16. Human races are real: a rebuttal to Jennifer Raff’s review of Nicholas Wade’s “A troublesome inheritance” | Gaspard Bellaud - May 31, 2014

    […] Jennifer Raff’s review of Nicholas Wade’s book on race, I could not help but admire the heights of delusion to which […]

  17. Around the Web Digest: Week of May 25 | Savage Minds - June 1, 2014

    […] Agustín Fuentes (Psychology Today, HuffPo), Jon Marks (In These Times, HuffPo), and Jennifer Raff (Violent Metaphors, HuffPo) wrote some less than favorable reviews on Wade’s book. Wade (a journalist who purports […]

  18. Nicholas Wade’s troublesome approach to scientific critiques « Violent metaphors - June 2, 2014

    […] I go over this briefly in my recent piece on the Huffington Post, and in much greater detail here on this blog, but essentially Wade is using patterns of human variation in populations as a justification for […]

  19. Noli Irritare Leones » The Kindness of Strangers - June 7, 2014

    […] argument about the size and scope and nature (not the reality) of regional genetic variation. Here’s Jennifer Raff, who does research on the genomes of ancient and modern populations, on the anti-Nicholas Wade side […]

  20. A Simple Lesson on the Social Construction of Race | Moorbey'z Blog - June 12, 2014

    […] Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade […]

  21. A Teachable Moment | The Opposing Thumb - June 24, 2014

    […] by UC Berkeley’s Michael Eisen; Orr’s old mentor, Jerry Coyne; Jennifer Raff’s key point on a fundamental misunderstanding of data analysis; Patrick Clarkin on the more general subject of the link between genes and physical or behavioral […]

  22. A guide to the science and pseudoscience of A Troublesome Inheritance, part I: The genetics of human populations « Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! - July 1, 2014

    […] for Wade’s conclusions. The first of these, as has been pointed out by Jennifer Raff on her blog, Violent Metaphors, and as Jeremy Yoder explains in great technical detail at The Molecular Ecologist, STRUCTURE (the […]

  23. Science online, take the stairs edition | Jeremy Yoder - July 1, 2014

    […] book digging for genetic differences between human populations doesn’t deliver the evidence, misinterprets population genetic results, and seems really to be an exercise in justifying pre-existing […]

  24. Wade’s book reviewed… - July 6, 2014

    […] Raff http://violentmetaphors.com/2014/05/21/nicholas-wade-and-race-building-a-scientific-facade/: Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific […]

  25. The Warrior Gene, Back from the Grave | Science.xcuz.me - July 9, 2014

    […] is rare in non-Africans and thought to predispose one to violence. However, an anthropologist named Jennifer Raff succeeded in invading the field of genetics, and she countered our claim by posting a study by […]

  26. Whites Win, Because Genes. My Times review of “A Troublesome Inheritance” | Neuron Culture - July 10, 2014

    […] Others have already reviewed this book elsewhere, with particularly sharp takes coming from Jennifer Raff, Eric Johnson, H. Allen Orr, Jerry Coyne, and, also at the Times, Arthur Allen. (A fuller […]

  27. Yet more responses to scientific racism « Violent metaphors - July 15, 2014

    […] Jeremy Yoder’s critique here, Chris Smith’s here, Joseph Graves’ here, and mine here ), his misunderstanding of evolution (see Michael Eisen’s critique here, and Eric Michael […]

  28. Geneticists say popular book misrepresents research on human evolution : Nature News Blog - August 8, 2014

    […] published in June by Penguin Press in New York. The 278-page work garnered widespread criticism, much of it from scientists, for suggesting that genetic differences (rather than culture) explain, for […]

  29. Genetics professors unite in criticism of Nicholas Wade’s book. « Violent metaphors - August 8, 2014

    […] a series of recent posts I and several others have strongly criticized Nicholas Wade’s recent book “A […]

  30. Reviews of Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” [Greg Laden's Blog] | Gaia Gazette - August 11, 2014

    […] Raff, Jennifer: Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade […]

  31. Reviews of Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” – Greg Laden's Blog - August 11, 2014

    […] Raff, Jennifer: Nicholas Wade and race: building a scientific façade […]

  32. Science for the People: Troublesome Inheritance | The Finch and Pea - October 17, 2014

    […] and Human History. DNA researcher Jennifer Raff and science journalist David Dobbs share their critiques of the claim that differences between genetically distinct “races” are responsible for […]

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