Saturday, August 16, 2014

Leading scientists criticize hereditarian claims

A recent blog post by anthropologist Jennifer Raff reports on a statement signed by 139 leading scientists "with expertise in genetics, human biology, biological anthropology, and evolution" who have weighed in to critique the "hereditarian" flavored book - A Troublesome Inheriance- by Nicholas Wade. These are heavy duty scholars, some of whom such as Rosenberg, are believers in race. A Science article on the letter states:

The letter was spearheaded by five population geneticists who had informally discussed the book at conferences, says co-organizer Rasmus Nielsen of the University of California, Berkeley. “There was a feeling that our research had been hijacked by Wade to promote his ideological agenda,” Nielsen says. “The outrage … was palpable.”
Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not.
We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures.
This letter is highly inconvenient for Mr. Wade, making it clear that the senior researchers in the fields from which he’s trying to marshal support categorically reject his storytelling and bad science. Nor can he continue to make the (untrue) argument that critiques of his book are largely politically based, and conducted mainly by social scientists. A strong blow has been dealt to scientific racism today."
Yet another blogger says:
  • Noah Rosenberg, the lead author of a 2002 paper that Wade leans on especially heavily, ”Genetic Structure of Human Populations,“ as well as at least two other authors of the paper.
  • Yale’s Kenneth Kidd, who is one of the world’s most respected population geneticists, a central figure in establishing the field, and another co-author on the 2002 Rosenberg paper.
  • Stanford’s Jonathan Pritchard, another co-author on that paper and the researcher whose lab designed the ”Structure“ genetic analysis software that created the ”clustering“ data Wade says supports his argument.
  • Sarah Tishkoff, lead author of a 2009 paper on ”The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African-Americans“ that Wade cited extensively as crucial support.
  • Jun Li and Richard Myers, the lead and senior authors of a 2008 paper, ”Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation,” that, as I noted in my review, Wade misrepresented as supporting his argument.

Dr. Raff continues:
"Disturbingly, Mr. Wade appears to be adopting the methodology of his “HBD” followers in claiming that evolution requires  acceptance of his view of race. The data do not support that position, and saying so doesn’t make any of us anti-evolution, no matter how loudly he says it."

Full blog post here:

My take: Raff has done a service in publicizing this.  Hereditarians or "HBDers" are experts at playing their own "race card." It takes 4 forms:

1) THE VIRTUOUS MEN OF SCIENCE TACTIC: This involves vociferous claims to be objective, fact-finders, anchored in scholarship. What they don't say is that too often, much of the scholarship they present like that of much touted leading hereditarian Professor JP Rushton, or open racialist Richard Lynn is dubious, or highly distorted, or conveniently cherry-picked to exclude contrary scholarship. It is also often simplistic, as in assorted MAO-A ("violence gene") "smoking gun" claims. Weaknesses are often covered with a  pompous bluster air of messianic certainty. But don't take my word for it. Here's conservative businessman Ron Unz, himself a bankroller of some HBD scholars, who finds some of their claims to be distorted and weak.

Another 30 peer reviewed links could be posted exposing assorted HBD pretensions but you get the picture..

2) THE PERSECUTED "RACIAL REALIST": This tactic involves posturing as  a noble "teller of truth" saying "what no one else dare say" - heroic figures, beset by the dastardly forces of "political correctness"  and traitorous "liberals." Alack and alas, too often this is a convenient dodge for not engaging hard questions based on hard data and scholarshi. Is testosterone for example really a significant determiner of violence in ethnic groups? If so, why have lower testosterone Germans perpetrated the worse genocide in human history? And how about those mild-mannered Chinese- racking up body counts in the tens of millions under "the thought of Chairman Mao?"

Rather than testosterone let's substitute the "smoking gun" MAO-A ("negro violence gene"). Even a cursory review of the many bold claims surrounding this alleged "smoking gun" debunks touted certainties.Some studies show more links with environmental conditions such as childhood maltreatment. rather than embedded "genetic causes" that supposedly "promote" violence. QUOTE:

"The interaction with childhood maltreatment also proved robust to sensitivity analyses and generalized across studies of either cross-sectional or longitudinal design and studies in which maltreatment exposure was assessed by family (self, parent) report only or included independent informant sources. It is noteworthy, too, that MAOA variation interacted with childhood maltreatment to predict outcomes referenced to both childhood/ adolescence and adulthood, dependent measures of both con-tinuous and categorical distribution, and both violent and non- violent antisocial behaviors. The latter finding suggests that the low-activity MAOA genotype heightens maltreatment-dependent risk for a range of conduct problems and not aggression or criminal violence specifically."
--Byrd and Manuck 2014. MAOA, childhood maltreatment and antisocial behavior

Likewise Haberstick et al 2005, and another study using a clinical sample of males referred for substance abuse or conduct disorder problems [Young et al., 2006] [show] a direct effect of maltreatment on subsequent antisocial behaviour, but not MAOA genotype, was reported.  In addition, results from analyses using a measure of violent victimization during adolescence in place of childhood maltreatment [Haberstick et al., 2005] also did not replicate the interaction hypothesis of Caspi and colleagues (2002). (Taylor 2013).

So much for the "smoking gun" on the "negro violence gene." "Politically correct liberals" seem to have the bad habit of exposing the sweeping claims of hereditarians both factually and logically. Obviously this is "unfair" to self-servingly styled "tellers of uncomfortable truths." 

3) THE PLAUSIBLE DENIAL TACTIC: This tactic involves 3 methods:

(a) The stacked deck pullback- insinuation of the racial subtext, but pulling back just enough to permit "plausible denial" that race or a particular racialist approach or conclusion is being pushed. Hence a blog post, article or book may work a stacked deck, loading up on a particular item- i.e. "gene indicators of violence among groups"- being sure to highlight the black statistics but then at the end pulling back to "innocently" aver any intent at implying something "racial." The Bell Curve, aside from its naive use of correlations, is a masterful example of the stacked-deck pullback.

(b) The "mere" thought experiment- in this dodge. a "thought experiment" is invoked- mere speculation and wondering- they say. Building on the stacked deck, the reader is asked to indulge this speculation. What if genes were discovered that were the primary determinants of violence? Could this explain rates of black criminality? Could this gene be "associated" with other things like IQ. childbearing, hell, even rap music? The "thought experiment" allows the stacked deck data to be used widely to insinuate all sorts of distortions, but since it is "not real" but "merely" or "only" a "thought experiment" - then "plausible denial" is preserve. Harpending and Cochran in their book 10,000 Year Explosion use "thought experiments" quite handily.

(c) The back-handed diss - The back-handed diss disparages targeted racial others via use of distorted or inaccurate commentary on what appears they claim to be a "factual" matter. Thus Harpending and Cochran say in their book:

“In most ways (except for their use of iron tools) African technology and social organization were simpler than that of Amerindians- at any rate simpler than Andean and Mesoamerican civilizations."

The only thing wrong with this statement is that it is rubbish. It reveal a profound lack of understanding and up to date scholarship about Africa. In fact for millennia, Africa was a leader in technology and social organization. As shown by credible mainstream archaeologists and anthropologists,(Zakrewski 2004, 2007,Kemp 2005, Bard 2001, Redford 2001, Smith 2002, Keita 1992, 2005, Godde 2009 etc etc)  it was tropical Africans, from the south, that established the Dynasties- they pioneered the first systematic writing systems, some centuries earlier than Mesopotamia.  (See Gunter Dreyer's excavations- Dreyer 1999- Umm El-Quaab I- The Predynastic Royal Tomb U-j and Its Early Writing-Evidence) Centuries later on into the New Kingdom, it was these same Egyptians that played a key part in the adaptations and adjustments that led to alphabetic scripts by Semitics in Egypt which in turn spread throughout the Mediterranean world to Europe. (See Yale's David Sacks' (2003) "Language Visible" for the data). It was these same tropical Africans that went on to do systematic large scale irrigation, including some of the "social organization" that made possible some of the greatest engineering works of all time. All this is well established by credible mainstream scholars. About 20% of Egypt by the way falls within the tropical zone. It was these same Africans under such rulers as Mansa Musa for example that could post economies and kingdoms exceeding several of the kingdoms of contemporary Europe. Mali at one time for example produced one-third to one-half of the world's gold supply and controlled an area the size of Europe.

Harpending and Cochran then go on dismissively refer to  areas of Africa “not influenced by Islamic civilization- west, central and southern Africa" as if these areas of Africa need to independently pioneer everything to be validated. They do not make a similar insinuation for parts of  Europe - such as the Nordic zone or British Isles that came late to advanced technology and organization in antiquity, and copied and borrowed in huge quantities. This is a typical  pattern of hypocrisy by some right wing hereditarians when it comes to Africa. Part of the pattern is to hail and tout historical innovation or advances anywhere in Europe, even when they derive from or build upon innovations/advances from elsewhere, but to dismiss developments in Africa unless they appear throughout the continent, or to dismiss African developments as the product of some outside influence.

 Note the double standard. Europe itself is a massive borrower and copier of technology from other peoples- inventing neither the alphabet, nor pioneering the key domesticates that underpin 'civilization', nor even cultural products such the massively influential Christian religion for example. Why the hypocritical double standard that lets Europe massively borrow and copy from the world over but when in comes to Africa, Africans somehow are deficient if they copy something? Why the hypocritical double standard that hails Greeks who borrow techniques and concepts from the sub-tropical "Middle East" but distorts, downplays and denies African achievements within Africa, such as the Nile Valley?

4) THE SPADE IN THE SHADOWS/BLACK BOGEYMAN TACTIC: The bread and butter of hereditarianism is the black bogeyman- the sinister, looming OTHER- the 'spade in the shadows'. This figure is the foremost driver. Part of the "HBD" enterprise is of course anchored in segregationist justifications of Jim Crow, an enterprise heavily steeped in scientific racialism, and handsomely financed by organizations such as the Pioneer Fund and individual donors. As under Jim Crow. the ominous, inferior, brutish, threatening negro is the central subtext. Oh, more sophisticated proponents breezily deny such. Like any good politician, hereditarians know the game of telling different audiences different things. To the gullible and naive, they are merely intrepid explorers, heroes "unjustly" persecuted by "the liberals." Why we are just exploring the data, they piously chirp. 

To the true red meat, true-believing "faithful" the charade is often discarded altogether, as the snarling, sneering racialist and openly racist networks of blogs, websites and forums attest. I was surprised one day to run across one forum where the denizens therein, "the white faithful" spent the bulk of their time obsessively cataloging the movement of interracial celebrity couples. Another picture of Tiger Woods chaps for the obligatory "Two Minutes of Hate"? The black bogeyman is the central driver, the lifeblood that drives the whole "HBD" or hereditarian culture. Strip away the pious denials, noble postures or sleight of hand, and as they themselves like to phrase- there lies the bottom line of "racial reality." To be sure also, other designated enemies, particularly Jews, or "hypergamous" white women (translation- women the denizens have little chance of getting who seem to attract a peculiar rage),  enter into the OTHER mix, but the bottom line, beneath it all, the central object of animus, is the lurking 'spade in the shadows'.

The use of the term "Human Biodiversity" by hereditarians is a smokescreen, calculated to obfuscate and hide the racialist component and obsession that is at the heart of "HBD." Race is at the center- it is the engine of the HBD world - whether it be in bogus science re "racial evolutionary differences" or shaky scientific cover for certain social policies, or a newer, ostensibly more "objective" and respectable packaging for the Nazi and Kluxer race-baiters of old. There are people who say they are willing to look at any hypothesis but HBDers already have a set ideology rooted in conscious or sub-conscious bias.

Joint products of "racial evolution"...


Other Links

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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