Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why HBD or hereditarianism lacks credibility

In his recent blog post (Why Did Civilization Lag in Africa? 9/19/2014-  HBD leader Steve Sailer makes a number of claims, most of which are contradictory or easily debunked. He illustrates why HBD or hereditarianism lacks credibility when dealing with people who actually use scholarship and logic, as opposed to easy one liners that entertain the gallery. This post will demonstrate 8 grounds on which HBD or "hereditarianism" lacks credibility, all illustrated by one of its leading pitchmen, Steve Sailer. These 8 weaknesses include:

1-- Lack of up to date knowledge on history, anthropology and economics
2-- Weak logic and analysis in general, including frequent contradiction by its own "supporting" references
3-- Use of name-calling, labeling etc as a substitute for clear, logical analysis
4-- A penchant for building dubious or false strawmen to "refute"
5-- Frequent use of easy one-liners as a substitute for logic or analysis
6-- An underlying racial animus against blacks and racial double standards
7-- A penchant for covering the above weaknesses by playing the "political correctness" claim card
8-- Using of "supporting" references that actually debunk or contradict proffered claims


"In Freakonomics in 2012, superstar economist Daron Acemoglu and his sidekick James A. Robinson used a Q & A with readers to promote their book Why Nations Fail and its all-purpose theory that “extractive institutions” rather than “inclusive institutions” were to blame for anything bad that ever happened anywhere in the history of the world."

^^This is a laughable strawman- and a typical "HBD" approach- create a bogus strawman to "refute." Acemoglu et al do not blame "extractive" versus "inclusive" institutions as an all purpose explanation for " anything bad that ever happened anywhere in the history of the world."

ACEMOGLU ON HIS BLOG ANSWERS A POST BY A REPUTED "HAITIAN" ABOUT BACKWARD BLACK PEOPLE- eerily similar to other web posts by "concerned black people" who conveniently set up "heridiatarian questions." The use of a "black" persona is apparently to disguise true intent. The questioner seems somewhat like the fake "black militants" who conveniently appear on assorted HBD websites to spout the most extreme "revolutionary" rhetoric.. setting up strawmen t be conveniently "refuted" by "the facts." Right....  But let's play along for now...

    Q. I am from Haiti, a country that you guys speak of quite often. I moved here to the States about ten years ago for school. Anyway, I’ve always wondered why countries dominated by blacks have done so terribly (and I am not trying to make us look stupid)? My questions stems from the fact that even within Haiti, the wealthier people are the sons and daughters of ex-pats from Europe or Syria, but in the larger picture, countries heavily dominated by blacks tend to fail. I don’t know many countries in the world where blacks are at the top of the social pyramid; it is concerning. Does it have to do with slavery; more than slavery, education? And how would it be solved in a 30-year plan for example? -Jean-Marc Davis

Acemoglu replies- then Sailer takes umbrage:

    A. The fact that nearly all countries which are headed by black people are poor is a coincidence.

    There is nothing intrinsic about black people that makes such countries poor. Just look at Botswana — it is run by and for black people, but it is one of the great economic success stories of the past 50 years. The same is true of several Caribbean countries, such as the Bahamas. The reasons for this are several-fold. Let’s focus just on Africa. Historically (before European influence), Africa developed extractive institutions for reasons that are not well understood.

    For instance, the fact that the construction of centralized states in Africa lagged behind Eurasia is not really understood. This history of extractive institutions then created a terrible vicious circle in the early modern period. First, the slave trade destroyed states and made economic institutions more extractive, and the poverty of Africa then allowed it to be colonized by Europeans. This left a legacy of extractive institutions with which African countries have been struggling since independence. But there is nothing inevitable in this process. Fifty years ago, you would have asked “How come every country run by Asians is poor”?

    We don’t ask that because we know that many Asian countries have changed their development paths. They, of course, had advantages Africa did not have, such as a history of centralized states. More broadly, there is nothing inevitable about the fact that the Industrial Revolution happened in Britain and soon after spread to Western Europe and these countries’ superior technologies allowed them to colonize large parts of the world. This was the outcome of a long contingent process of institutional change. This process did not happen in Africa, but that has nothing to do with black people but rather different histories of institutions and different shocks. In the book, we illustrate this by talking about Ethiopia. In 400AD, Ethiopia looked very similar to states in the Mediterranean basin, but then it experienced very different shocks and while these other societies changed, Ethiopia got stuck.


"Obviously, this explanation wouldn’t strike anybody better informed and more objective than Daron Acemoglu, the Malcolm Gladwell of MIT, as terribly persuasive.

Actually this statement demonstrates that it is Sailer HIMSELF who is poorly informed, and knows little about current economics, anthropology or history. Sailer objects because the hard scholarship of Acemoglu and Gladwell of MIT debunks the standard simplistic "HBD" race card line ( or racial "evolution" line) of virtuous 'Caucasoid genes" as the source of all light and good. If such mundane facts as institutional governances, colonial structures that delivered massive power to corrupt following leaders, economic patterns, transport etc etc are mentioned, well heavens! - it must be wrong- a product of dastardly "political correctness" or "unpersuasive." In the simplistic HBD universe, only the race party line gets the top spot..

Having no credible analysis- Sailer then plays the "political correctness" card in advance He says:

 "(Of course, I often wonder if implausibility isn’t considered a virtue these days. If the point is to demonstrate your True Faith, then Acemoglu and Robinson’s opening tactical salvo of “The fact that nearly all countries which are headed by black people are poor is a coincidence” isn’t as funny as it would sound to the Man from Mars. If the point is not science but witch-sniffing, then making assertions so lunkheaded they are bound to raise a smile in anybody with an active brain is brilliant, even if it’s simultaneously stupid)."

Actually here again Sailer demonstrates his talent for name-calling, but when it comes to actual logic, facts and analysis, he falls woefully short, again demonstrating his lack of grasp where current economics, history and anthropology is concerned. It is all too easy for HBDers to holla about "witch-sniffing" or "political correctness" -rather than engage in credible analysis, based on hard data. In this sense, Sailer demonstrates how HBD rests on a foundation of endlessly repeated racial propaganda and distorted right-wing tropes.

Sailer says:

"So, rather than critique Acemoglu’s thrashings, let me try to work out a fundamental explanation for why Africa, the home of anatomically modern humans, was long so far behind even other tropical lowlands such as the Yucatan.

Sailer tries his hand at "explanation" but HIS limits and "thrashings" are readily apparent. Right off the bat his opener is flawed. Africa was not "far behind" other tropical places such as the Yucatan. IN fact Africa produced some of the most sophisticated large scale civilization in human history- in the Nile Valley/Nile Basin. And within that valley, almost 20% of Egypt falls within the tropical belt. Its fundamental peopling was by tropical Africans (Zakrewski 2004, 2007; Yurco 1996, 1989, Keita 2005, 1992; Lovell 1999; et al) not the "Middle Easterners" or Europeans" or Asiatics (like Greeks, Romans, Assyrians, Persians, Hyskos, Arabs etc) who were to come in significant numbers later. Here's what conservative anthropologist Nancy Lovell, someone recommended by Mary Lefkowitz herself has to say about that:

"There is now a sufficient body of evidence from modern studies of skeletal remains to indicate that the ancient Egyptians, especially southern Egyptians, exhibited physical characteristics that are within the range of variation for ancient and modern indigenous peoples of the Sahara and tropical Africa.. must be placed in the context of hypotheses informed by archaeological, linguistic, geographic and other data. In such contexts, the physical anthropological evidence indicates that early Nile Valley populations can be identified as part of an African lineage, but exhibiting local variation. This variation represents the short and long term effects of evolutionary forces, such as gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection, influenced by culture and geography."
--Nancy C. Lovell, " Egyptians, physical anthropology of," in Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, ed. Kathryn A. Bard and Steven Blake Shubert, 1999). pp 328-332)

Sailer says:

"I’ve put up a picture above of an immense ruin I visited five years ago, the theater in Miletus in what’s now southwestern Turkey, because there are a lot of ruins in this world. Turkey is full of ancient ruins (as are Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru).

Sailer puts up a picture of a big ancient ruin (a stadium) and uses this as a base to opine HBD boilerplate about African "backwardness." This is typical of the naive "eyeball anthropology" seen in HBD to distort African history, and also illustrates a pattern of distortion and racial animus that is at the foundation of HBD, despite pious protests to the contrary. In any event however, two things undermine the boilerplate HBD narrative of anti-black distortion:
(a) the African peoples of the Nile Valley/Nile Basin and further south (parts of the Nile Basin are "sub-Saharan" by the way) produced structures equal or greater, and

(b) such impressive stadium-like ruins are themselves scarce in ancient "hotbeds" of Caucasoid purity- northern Europe for example. They are scarce to non-existent in the territory of virtuous Nordics or Germanics- appearing neither or barely in ancient Germany, Sweden, Holland, France etc etc.  The British Isles are no different- where are the pyramids of Wales for example? And megalithic construction with astronomical functions make one of the earliest appearances in human history millennia near the border of today's Sudan- an indeed is seen as a key formative influence in Egyptian civilization by credible scholarship- Nabta Playa. Megaliths by the way appear in ancient Central Africa before Stonehenge.

Stonehenge in England is one of the few big monumental constructs in northern Europe, but this is far exceeded or more than matched in the Nile Valley and the Kingdom of Kush in the Sudan- itself a "sub-Saharan" entity that produced its own ancient pyramids and burial complexes, despite a resource base that had a fraction of what was available to their Egyptian cousins on the much vaster, more populous territories of the northward Nile.  Reader even mentions Askum in the Horn of Africa, which by the way is "sub-Saharan" - a place with plenty of "big ruins."
"The early Askumites built in stone. They erected massive carved monoliths over the graves of their leaders (one was 33 meters long and weighed over 700 tonnes, arguably the largest single piece of worked stone ever hewn." (Reader, pg 208).

 In short, "big buildings" (Sailer's facile "HBD litmus test") are scarce in antiquity among supposed paragons and pace-setters of goodness and light - northern Europeans. And as demonstrated by Sailer's own "supporting" reference, Reader's book, "sub-Saharan" Africans produced some of the biggest structural items in the world. Curious isn't it? Sailer says such is non-existent, but his "supporting" reference, Reader, flatly contradicts his claims. This is a typical pattern with HBD.

Sailer says:

 "Why this meandering reminiscence of mine about a random ruin in Turkey? Because sub-Saharan Africa has remarkably few ruins for its immense size. This fact is not well known. It is so hazy in the contemporary mind that Henry Louis Gates managed to sell PBS on a six episode miniseries about African ruins called The Wonders of Africa without, apparently, anybody in PBS management calling his bluff about the lack of wonders that his camera crew would wind up documenting in one of the most boring documentary series of the 21st Century.

This is typical laughable "HBD" stuff. Sailer is unable to analyze the data- as noted above- lacking the knowledge and ability to evaluate current scholarship in history, anthropology and economics. As regards his "comparison," the same could be said of northern Europe- it contains remarkable few ruins for its immense size and supposed "Caucasoid DNA" blessings. And "Sub-Saharan" Africa includes the kingdom of Kush, which had its own writing system, iron industry and monumental construction. The southward movement of the Sahara obscures this fact, making numerous African cultures far to the north "sub-Saharan. Kushite civilization documented by credible scholars along these lines easily debunks Sailer's claim.

Sailer says:
"The only book I’ve read that has wrestled seriously with the implications of sub-Saharan Africa’s relative lack of ruins is John Reader’s extraordinary Africa: Biography of a Continent. Reader’s argument is that the reason there are few ruins is because there was little wealth in sub-Saharan Africa before outside interventions."

Actually Reader does not address "ruins" as such much in his book, but he contradicts Sailer's claim by showing a number of places in Africa with "ruins." Nor does he say lack of ruins is due to lack of wealth. Sailer's rant is simple dissimulation and distortion, deliberately misrepresenting Reader's scholarship to push his brand of "HBD" propaganda. Curiously for someone who claims to have read the book Sailer cannot produce one direct quote- instead posting second hand paraphrases from book reviews as seen below. But perhaps a quote would undermine Sailer's sleight of hand. Indeed, Reader does manage to mention monumental construction in Africa's Nile Valley which includes the Kingdom of Kush - itself a sub-Saharan entity with administrative links deep into the Sudan and trade links as far afield as Central Africa. Indeed, numerous African cultures once far north have been made "non-Sub Saharan" by the steady southward spread of the Sahara, but that cannot hide the central facts about the African civilization of the Nile Valley/Basin that was Kush or 'Cush' (in Biblical text). QUOTE: 

"the wealth and power of Meroe at its height during the last few centuries BC is not at all surprising, particularly since the island of Meroe was also richly endowed with both iron ore and the hardwood timber needed for charcoal..

Among the monumental ruins of a civilization lying today on the island of Meroe, huge mounds of slag testify to the scale of iron production that powered its rise and ultimately brought about its downfall...

"Even iron-smelting technology, so powerful a formative element of the Meroe civilization, is older in West and central Africa and therefore cannot have been introduced from Meroe.. any residual feeling that Egypt or Nubia must have been responsible for developments in sub-Saharan Africa will have to be abandoned and Bantu-speaking people accepted as innovators in their own right."
--Reader (pages 191-199)

Uh oh. Wait a minute. Didn't Sailer earlier tell us Reader said Africa lacked wealth? In fact, Reader made no such claim. Sailer simply lies about what is being said. Indeed Reader (pages 191-199) tells us about some very wealthy places in Africa, places with plenty of monumental ruins, the very wealth that Sailer claims Reader says is "non-existent." Reader even mentions Askum in the Horn of Africa, which by the way is "sub-Saharan" - a place with plenty of "big ruins." (QUOTE: "The early Askumites built in stone. They erected massive carved monoliths over the graves of their leaders (one was 33 meters long and weighed over 700 tonnes, arguably the largest single piece of worked stone ever hewn." (Reader, pg 208). In short, Sailer misrepresents and distorts Reader's book.

And let's look at alleged pace-setting European "role models." Have THEY been free of "outside intervention"? Not at all. In fact, Europe has been a massive borrower, copier and user of "outside intervention" - from the key plant and animal domesticates that today feeds most of Europe's population, to advanced metallurgy and other techniques, to writing, to cultural products nowadays deemed "European" - like the influential Christian religion. When has Europe ever been free of "outside intervention" dear reader? Crickets chirping.. I thought so...

The Nile Basin from whence numerous African civilizations sprung is itself a "sub-Saharan" entity touching not only Egypt and Nubia, but also the Sudan, Ethiopia  East African areas like Kenya and even into Central Africa

Sailer quotes from a book review not Reader:  He says:

"The Economist’s 1998 review of Reader’s book noted:

Much of Africa’s history is explained by its fragile soils and erratic weather. They make for conservative social and political systems. “The communities which endured were those that directed available energies primarily towards minimising the risk of failure, not maximising returns,” says Mr Reader. This created societies designed for survival, not development; the qualities needed for survival are the opposite of those needed for developing, ie, making experiments and taking risks. Some societies were wealthy, but accumulating wealth was next to impossible; most people bartered and there were few traders."

But all this book review demonstrates is that Africa has suffered from numerous environmental difficulties that has hindered large scale wealth over a wide area. No surprise there on this old news, and this is nothing unusual. White "role models" in parts of Europe lacking good soils or having environmental disadvantages, such as Ireland, or the Balkans did not accumulate much wealth either. Africa is nothing special in this regard. Reader's tome actually UNDERMINES some standard HBD race-mongering distortions attributing large scale civilizations of wealth as the product of "Caucasoid" virtue or purity.  And such "purity" does not exist as modern scientific studies show, and touted  "role models" are themselves massive borrowers and copiers of ideas, materials and techniques from outside Europe.

Sailer says:
In fact, there were few people. Whereas the rest of the world tended to butt up against Malthusian limits on the amount of food that the burgeoning population could wrest from the ground, tropical Africa had plenty of land but strikingly few people. The problem, according to Reader, was that African humans had a hard time outcompeting other living things in Africa, such as diseases (falciparum malaria and sleeping sickness, most notably) and giant beasts (such as elephants).But too high a density of population, such as in cities, made people sitting ducks for diseases borne by mosquitoes and tsetse flies. The germs in tropical Africa were even worse than the megafauna.

It is hilarious that Sailer "discovers" Reader, but he seems not to realize how Reader undermines many of his own beloved, and simplistic HBD race notions. It is not "Caucasoid genes" that are important. Much less dramatic, (and a bit too complicated for the HBD race-mongering "faithful") are such mundane things as geography, climate etc etc- points long observed by Thomas Sowell in his "Culture" trilogy some years before Reader, or his Ethnic America (1981) almost 2 decades before Reader's tome. . 

Sailer again quotes another book review-

Thomas Pakenham’s 1998 review of Reader’s book in the New York Times explains:

"Why did Africa south of the Sahara fare so badly in the last three millenniums? Reader explains Africa’s handicaps in terms of disease and climate. He contrasts the happy colonists who ”by leaving the tropical environments of the cradle-land in which humanity had evolved . . . also left behind the many parasites and disease organisms that had evolved in parallel with the human species.”

  It is telling again that Sailer does not give any direct quotes from his supposedly "supporting" reference, but instead puts forward paraphrases and reviews of someone else- a typical HBD pattern as well. And while Reader acknowledges the handicap of tropical diseases and parasites, (the spread of hrses for example was hindered by the tsetst fly), but he notes that despite these obstacles, (and contrary to Sailer's "HBD" claims), sub-Saharan Africa did produce its own elaborate, powerful and wealthy civilizations.

Sailer says:
"In the African Garden of Eden lurked enemies all the more potent because they were invisible: the malaria bug and other lethal organisms. The liberation of Africa from these enemies began with the period of European exploitation and has continued, somewhat haphazardly, as European drugs are exported to Africa.

This is hardly news. In fact Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel also mentioned the role of debilitating diseases. It is ironic that Reader is here in the same company with Diamond, and yet in a number of assorted blog posts, Sailer rails furiously against Diamond for an "environmental" outlook that fails to uphold favored "racial" explanations. Yet ironically, we have Sailer a decade and a half later, "discovering" and agreeing with Diamond's "environmental" observations, apparently not fully recognizing how they undermine his current and earlier "race explanation" positions.

Sailer says:

"So, tropical Africans couldn’t learn to live in dense urban populations, with all the advanced trades made possible by the concentrations of city life. They largely remained small villagers scratching a living from the ground.

Laughable. What Sailer fails to realize is that "tropical Africans" would include the Africans of Egypt, Nubia and Kush (in present day Sudan- and a "sub-Saharan" entity), where there were indeed recognizable urban populations. But lack of urbanization or slow urbanization elsewhere is nothing special. As late as the 1700s Early Industrial Revolution era, China for all its advances only had about 3-4% of its population urbanized (W. Easterly 2014 The Tyranny of Experts. 146) As late as 1914, only 14-15% of Russia, a massive land, was urbanized. London as late as the 1500s had a mere 50,000 inhabitants, dwarfed multiple times by contemporary Cairo on the African continent of the same era. (Urban World History: An Economic and Geographical Perspective  By Luc-Normand Tellier 2009).

Reader also notes (page 225) that complex urban societies arose in West Africa a millennia before Arab arrival. QUOTE: "West African history was 'unshackled from the Arab stimulus paradigm in the 1970s.. wherein the transformation to a complex urban society began 1,000 years before the arrival of the Arabs." and that cities like Jenne-jeno circa 800AD that already had numbers rivaling contemporary London. Other scholars put it in perspective showing African urbanization depending on the era was quite comparable with or exceeding other cities in several European kingdoms: Algiers in the 1600s had 150,000, Mekenes in Morocco 200,000, Kano had about 75,000 in the late 1500s, and Niani, capital of Mali had 60,000 inhabitants in 1324 (James Tarver 1996- The Demography of Africa- pg 93). Reader also notes that the development patterns of some African cities are nothing special- Chinese urbanization showed similar  patterns- QUOTE: "Remarkably similar settlement processes appear to have characterized the urbanization process at sites of similar age in China, suggesting that this alternative to hierarchal social system and coercive centralized control strategy of classical definition may have occurred worldwide.."

Note- the quotes in red above undermining his claims are from Sailer's own "supporting" reference.

Sailer says:
"Also, in contrast to the rest of the world, where sexual restraint had its Darwinian advantages in avoiding the Malthusian Trap, tropical Africans found it advantageous to procreate as thoughtlessly as an NFL star like Adrian Peterson, Antonio Cromartie, or Travis Henry. Children weren’t likely to starve because their working mothers could grow enough food for them in the thin tropical soil (without fathers needing to do the heavy lifting of plowing, as on continents with better soil).

Sailer's delivers some facile one-liners about the NFL's 'Adrian Peterson' but they can't cover for his lack of knowledge and shallowness. For one thing, growing food on thin tropical soils is anything but "easy." One can only laugh at Sailer's nonsensical notions- but they are typical of HBD.  And "Sexual restraint" is rather unimpressive among European "role models," as witnessed by their embrace of "gay" marriage, leading and high levels of child porn consumption and production, and disproportionately high levels of child molestation. And in fact high child mortality rates in historical Europe did encourage "thoughtless procreation," with the simple logic that the more children on hand, the more chance some might survive that mortality.

Logic is not Sailer's strongpoint. He seems not to realize that his own one-liners, popular as they may be to the "HBD" gallery undermines his position. Just as Europeans found it advantageous to have plenty of children to ride out high child mortality, so also Africans found it advantageous to have plenty of children to ride out the impact of the debilitating wave of tropical diseases that cut down their children. But notice the racial animus of Sailer coming through. Its not simply that his analytical skills or logic is lacking, but he demonstrates the racial double standards and animus that lies at the heart of HBD. When European have plenty of children that's OK. When Africans do, well it must be due to "lack of sexual restraint."

Sailer says:
And the children were probably going to die of random diseases anyway, for which no amount of paternal investment could protect them before modern medicine.

This too is dubious on Sailer's part. For one thing, the high procreation rates are themselves a parental investment to ensure some survivability into the next generation. And even children who eventually perished  had to be fed or cared for.  Furthermore as credible scholars have long shown, Africa has the lowest infanticide rate in the world, far below supposedly more virtuous European or Asiatic "role models" (QUOTE: "Africa has been reported to have a lower incidence of infanticide than all of the other continents."
--Milner, L.S. (2000). Hardness of Heart / Hardness of Life: the stain of infanticide. University Press. p. 160 )

As far as the United States, the massive, often heart-rending searches of black ex-slaves for their children, with some people roaming hundreds of miles to recover them, testify to "parental investment" of blacks, as they struggled to put together family lives ravaged and brutalized by white southern slave regimes. And after the Civil War these people strived to create stable family structures so often destroyed under the white slave regime- indeed every census taken between 1890 and 1940 shows black marriage rates exceeding that of whites. This pattern began to break down after WW2, particularly with the rise of the white run and initiated liberal welfare state of the 1960s, but more fundamentally the process of urbanization that destroyed relatively more conservative rural mores. Such breakdown under urbanization happened with the white Irish as well (Sowell 1981), but see, that's OK. Its only when a black man shows up that a double standard emerges. The "negative parental investment" Sailer references is not only dubious, but is a standard part of the narrative of HBD racial animus against blacks- a continual campaign of propaganda and distortion.

Sailer says:
Is Reader’s late 1990s theory of the difference between Africa (and thus Africans) and the rest of world true? It’s similar to Jared Diamond’s theory in the contemporary bestseller Guns, Germs, and Steel, but is far more detailed, plausible, and interesting. Unlike Diamond’s rather airy theory, it has the advantage / disadvantage of explaining much that we see in modern America as well. Reader didn’t really want to draw out the modern implications in the manner of J.P. Rushton, but it’s pretty obvious reading his book that there are connections between prehistoric Africa and inner city black America.

Here Sailer builds a laughable strawman, again colored and infused by racial animus- and the usual one-liners. Note how said one-liners about "inner city black America" substitutes for logic. Perhaps it finally dawns on Sailer that Reader's observations are similar to what Diamond also argues, arguments that Sailer himself in various posts rejects and fights against. Sailer touts Reader's "readibility"- but it is Sailer whose reading comprehension is lacking for Reader undermines Sailer's own simplistic "HBD" narrative on several key points. 

Even more ironic, Sailer's touted reference devotes 7 pages to the standard HBD notion (and one beloved of JP Rushton and the HBD 'faithful') of black natives lolling about at "ease" in tropical environments- a distorted notion derived from old 19th century race tropes but also in part from 1960s studies of the !Kung Bushmen or San of the Kalahari which posited an "original affluent society" among hunter-gatherers (Lee 1966). Lee's work has been superseded by more recent research, but unfortunately it has been twisted by HBDers beyond recognition, and scholar Reader debunks such distortions thoroughly.

In fact, far from alleged "ease" and "affluence", the African !Kung faced a bitter struggle, posting exceptionally low fertility rates, below that even of other surrounding African groups and high child mortality rates (40 percent of kids died before reaching maturity)- again well exceeding other nearby Africans. A small population size in an area that could have supported much more also gave misleading impressions of "affluence" - and the harsh calculus of survival demonstrated severe nutritional stress on the !Kung at various times of the year- individuals for example could lose 6 percent of their body weight in the dry season, and hard-pressed native women suffered a pounding physiological stress disrupting reproduction - with intensity matching that of modern female athletes. So much for "easy" alleged "tropical affluence" by "the natives." QUOTE:

"The economic effect of a skewed population structure and low dependency ratio suggest an alternative to the Utopian images of affluence and leisure which have been drawn from Lee's researches among the !Kung. Perhaps the !Kung were not such a perfect iconic example of hunting and gathering community living in harmony with the environment after all.

The large number of old people, and the bulge moving up the population pyramid could indicate that the population was larger in the past; that a decline in the birth rate had occurred over the past few generations, and that the apparent affluence of the current generation was simply the consequence of there being fewer people exploiting resources that were capable of supporting many more... the measure of the !Kung's viability as a population lay not in the number of old people, nor in the apparent affluence of its providers, but in the number of infants that were born and raised.. Here again, the statistics were remarkable: the fertility rate of the !Kung recorded Nancy Howell was exceptionally low. Whereas women in Africa generally had an average of six live births during their reproductive lifespan, !Kung women had only three on average. Furthermore, 40 per cent of their offspring died before reaching maturity and Howell calculated that the !Kung's high mortality and low fertility gave them population growth rate of below 0.5 per cent per year - less that one-fifth of the rate for Africa as a while,, not even half that of the United States.. the !Kung lived in conditions of greater stress than first impressions had suggested. Images of Utopia and the original affluent society began to fade..

'Lee's studies of !Kung diet and caloric intake have generated a misleading belief.. that the !Kung are well wed and under no nutritional stress.' On the contrary there were months every year during which their lives were predictably arduous and stressful; there were years when the mongongo harvest failed. Eighty individuals weighted at intervals over the course of twelve months, lost up to six percent of their body weight during the dry season.. A revaluation of !Kung women's foraging and subsistence routine identified a degree of physiological stress matching that which disrupts the reproductive function of female college athletes. Even the much-vaunted food-sharing practices of the kung were found to be rather less egalitarian than previous accounts indicated."

--John Reader 1997, Africa: A biography of a continent. pp 118-125 

Sailer says:
In the decade and a half since Reader published his highly readable Africa: Biography of a Continent, has any economist, evolutionary theorist, or geneticist directly grappled with testing his model? Not that I’m aware of. Instead, we have goofs like Acemoglu dominating our intellectual life, such as it is. Isn’t it about time to give serious attention to John Reader’s theory?

One can only laugh out loud here, and Sailer should hope he does not get what he wishes for. To the contrary, Reader undermines Sailer's own simplistic "HBD" narrative on several key points. This decade and a half old book has observations that are old news, like the role of debilitating vectors in hindering African development. And people like Morris (Why the Rest Rules 2010) and Kaplan (Revenge of Geography 2012) have added more data that demonstrates the key role played by geography, a role much more significant than simplistic race memes and distortions that ate the stock in trade of HBD. 

 It is also significant that Sailer excludes much else of what Reader says about geographical handicaps or problems in Africa (such as poor access to navigable rivers, climate like rainfall levels, coastlines lacking many natural harbors, thin tropical soils etc etc) to focus on diseases and parasitical infections. These other factors are very important in other credible analyses, but Sailer conveniently  ignores most of them. Why? Because a distorted focus on "diseases and parasites" again ties into the racial animus that underlies HBD- you know- (roll ominous bogeyman soundtrack and "Ebola" video) those "darker types" stricken with yucky diseases. But here's Reader again, HBDer Sailer's own "supporting" reference, on the advanced food production in Africa and how environmental disasters crushed early advances. When these disasters receded, African food production, including some of the world's most productive agriculture (on the Nile) surged ahead.

“Dating from more than 15,000 years ago, the evidence from the Nile valley is arguably the earliest comprehensive instance of an organized food-producing system known anywhere on Earth. Given time, this pioneering system might have developed into the stupendous civilization that ruled ancient Egypt for two and a half millennia from about 5,000 years ago. But it could never be. Disaster struck the Nile Valley as its population reached a peak, and by 10,000 years ago occupation density had plunged to a level only slightly above that known for the time of the Wadi Kubbaniya site. The cause of the calamity originated more than 2,000 kilometers to the south, in central Africa at the headwaters of the Nile, where climatic amelioration which followed the last glacial maximum had brought a very marked increase in rainfall.. Around 13,000 years ago, heavy and persistent whih had already flooded even the desiccated Kalahari basin with a number of large lakes moved steadily northward..

The effects downstream were catastrophic. From a sluggish river flowing through shallow braided channels, the Nile was transformed over a period of five hundred years (12,000 to 11,5000 years ago) into what has been called the 'wild' Nile. Extremely high floods were only the beginning of the problem.. With the Nile now flowing through a single deep channel, the extent of the floodplain was severely reduced. The quantities of available plant foods declined.. The levels to which the human population had soared could not be sustained,.. Conservative assessments conclude that regular annual rain began to fall on the region from about 11,000 years ago; additional rain in the valley can hardly be viewed as compensation for the devastating floods its inhabitants had suffered.."
--Africa: A Biography of the Continent, by John Reader, 1997, pp. 155-156

So there you have a major environmental impact documented by his own "supporting reference" that shaped culture and civilization on the continent, but Sailer skips it entirely, because no doubt, it does not offer the right grist for the "negrodamus" propaganda mills. HBDers pride themselves on "racial reality." They should just come clean and admit that racism or racial animus is at the core of their project. No need to hide and obfuscate or whine about "political correctness" when debunked. Just declare your animus right up front - so it's out in the open and people know where you are coming from.

As demonstrated above, Sailer, a leading figure in the HBD movement, illustrates several weaknesses of HBD/ hereditarianism and why it lacks credibility. To wit:
1-- Lack of up to date knowledge on history, anthropology and economics
2-- Weak logic and analysis in general, including frequent contradiction by its own "supporting" references
3-- Use of name-calling, labeling etc as a substitute for clear, logical analysis
4-- A penchant for building dubious or false strawmen to "refute"
5-- Frequent use of easy one-liners as a substitute for logic or analysis
6-- An underlying and persistent racial animus against blacks and racial double standards
7-- A penchant for covering the above weaknesses by playing the "political correctness" claim card
8-- Using of "supporting" references that actually debunk or contradict proffered claims

Perhaps one final quote from the "supporting" reference, John Reader's book- Africa: Biography of a continent" summarizes the bankruptcy of numerous HBD approaches, including not only standard propaganda claims about fundamental human advances originating in Europe, but the pattern of "supporting" references that actually debunk the arguments of those who proffer such "references." As he does on numerous places, Reader debunks several cherished HBD notions. Here's another one- QUOTE:

"The Katanda sites are at least 75,000 and possibly as much as 90,000 years old, an age which demands revision of some entrenched Eurocentric views on human cultural development. Hitherto it had been widely believed that although modern humans had evolved in Africa and first migrated from the continent around 100,000 years ago, the manufacture of specialized tools and the development of sophisticated cultural practices such as complex economic strategies, large scale social networks, personal adornment, and an expanded use of symbols in art and daily life arose in Europe, central Asia, Siberia and the Near East between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago. The Katanda evidence contradicts this view, pushing back the invention of specialized tools at least 35,000 years and making Africa the origin not only of anatomically modern humans but also of modern human behaviour."
--John Reader, 1997, Africa: A Biography Of The Continent, p139


Some gays find welcome home in the 'alt-right' as nationalist organizations step up recruitment

Racial discrimination is alive and kicking in employment, housing and credit markets

Sowell 3- new data shows backward tropical evolution? Wealth and Poverty- An International Perspective in Trump era

Sowell 2- Wealth, Poverty and Politics- International Perspective - Trump era to bring these issues into sharper focus?

Sowell- Liberal intellectuals and hard questions about race differences- Trump era may force them to focus?

Trump properties discriminated against black tenants lawsuit finds

Stealing credibility- Dinesh D'souza has prison epiphany- after hanging with the homies- Hallelujah Hilary!

Shame on you, and your guilt too- A review of Shelby Steele's 'Shame'

Go with the flow 3- more DNA and cranial studies show ancient African migration to, or African presence in ancient Europe

Go with the flow 2- African gene flow into Europe in various eras

DNA studies show African movement to Europe from very ancient times

Guilt3- Why the "white privilege industry" is not all there

Guilt2- Media collaborates with guilt mongers - or how to play the white victim card

How Obama plays on white guilt

Blacks oppose free speech- more ramshackle "research" from "the East"..

Hands off the Confederate flag

Despite much more wealth than blacks, whites collect about the same rate of welfare and are treated more generously

African "boat people" ushering in European demographic decline

The forgotten Holocaust- King Leopold's "Congo Free State" - 10 million victims

Are violent minorities taking over California and the West?

Presidential hopeful Ben Carson meets and Greeks

Contra "ISIS" partisans, there have been some beneficial effects of Christianity

The social construction of race, compared to biology- Graves

Why HBD or hereditarianism lacks credibility

Leading Scientists criticize hereditarian claims

Thai me down - Thais fall behind genetically related southern Chinese, Tibetans below genetically related East Asians like Koreans and other Chinese

Time for liberals to respect "the south" ... in a way of speaking.. the south of Egypt that is..

Irony 2: touted High IQ "G-men" cannot reproduce themselves

Unz and Sowell: Unz debunking Lynn's IQ and Wealth of Nations. Sowell debunking the Bell Curve

Irony 1: touted High IQ types are more homosexual, more atheist, and more liberal (HAL)

Elite white universities discriminate against Asians using reverse "affirmative action"

Deteriorating state of white America

Racial Cartels (The Affirmative Action Propaganda machine- part 2

Hereditarian's/HBD's "Great Black Hope"

Exploding nonsense: the 10,000 Year Explosion

We need "rational racism"? Proponent Dinesh D;Souza becomes his own test case

The Affirmative Action Propaganda Machine- part 1

Two rules for being "really" black- no white wimmen, no Republican

The Axial age reconsidered

Cannibal seasonings: dark meat on white

"Affirmative Action" in the form of court remedies has been around a long time- since the 1930s- benefiting white union workers against discrimination by employers

Mugged by reality 1: White quotas, special preferences and government jobs

Lightweight enforcement of EEO laws contradicts claims of "flood" of minorities "taking jobs"

Railroaded 3: white violence and intimidation imposed quotas

Railroaded 2: how white quotas and special preferences blockade black progress...

Railroaded 1: How white affirmative action and white special preferences destroyed black railroad employment...

Affirmative action: primary beneficiaries are white women
7 reasons certain libertarians and right-wingers are wrong about the Civil Right Act

Social philosophy of Thomas Sowell

Bogus "biodiversity" theories of Kanazawa, Ruston, Lynn debunked

JP Rushton, Michael Levin, Richard Lynn debunked. Weaknesses of Jared Diamond's approach.

In the Blood- debunking "HBD" and Neo-Nazi appropriation of ancient Egypt

early Europeans and middle Easterners looked like Africans. Peoples returning or "backflowing" to Africa would already be looking like Africans

 Ancient Egypt: one of the world's most advanced civilizations- created by tropical peoples

Playing the "Greek defence" -debunking claims of Greeks as paragons of virtue or exemplars of goodness

Quotations from mainstream academic research on the Nile Valley peoples

Assorted data debunking

Evolution, brain size, and the national IQ of peoples ... - Jelte Wicherts 2010

Why national IQs do not support evolutionary theories of intelligence - WIcherts, Borsboom and Dolan 2010
Personality and Individual Differences 48 (2010) 91-96
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Are intelligence tests measurement invariant over time? by JM Wicherts - ?2004
 --Dolan, Wicherts et al 2004. Investigating the nature of the Flynn effect. Intelligence 32 (2004) 509-537

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Race and other misadventures: essays in honor of Ashley Montagu... By Larry T. Reynolds, Leonard Lieberman

Race and intelligence: separating science from myth. By Jefferson M. Fish. Routledge 2002. See Templeton's detailed article referenced above also inside the book
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Oubre, A (2011) Race Genes and Ability: Rethinking Ethnic Differences, vol 1 and 2. BTI Press
For summary see:
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--S OY Keita, R A Kittles, et al. "Conceptualizing human variation," Nature Genetics 36, S17 - S20 (2004)

--S.O.Y. Keita and Rick Kittles. (1997) *The Persistence ofRacial Thinking and the Myth of Racial Divergence. AJPA, 99:3
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Alan Templeton. "The Genetic and Evolutionary significnce oF Human Races." pp 31-56. IN: J. FiSh (2002) Race and Intelligence: Separating scinnce from myth.

 J. FiSh (2002) Race and Intelligence: Separating science from myth.


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Oubre, A (2011) Race Genes and Ability: Rethinking Ethnic Differences, vol 1 and 2. BTI Press

Krimsky, S, Sloan.K (2011) Race and the Genetic Revolution: Science, Myth, and Culture

Wicherts and Johnson, 2009. Group differences in the heritability of items and test scores

--Joseph Graves, 2006. What We Know and What We Don’t Know: Human Genetic Variation and the Social Construction of Race

J. Kahn (2013) How a Drug Becomes "Ethnic" - Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics, v4:1

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