On the biology of race

Massimo Pigliucci Scientia Salon:

L9781594204463The biology of human races is back in the news, big time. This is because of a new book by former New York Times journalist Nicholas Wade, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History [1].

The basic thesis of the book is that human races are real, and that their genetic differences — which according to Wade evolved rapidly after the invention of agriculture — account for much of the behavioral differences among human groups, as well as for the success of some and the failure of others.

Here is a sample of quotes from Wade himself, to give you an idea of what he is up to [2]:

[Trying to explain why Western societies have been capable of developing advanced democracies while others haven't] “Conventionally, these social differences are attributed solely to culture. But if that’s so, why is it apparently so hard for tribal societies like Iraq or Afghanistan to change their culture and operate like modern states? The explanation could be that tribal behavior has a genetic basis.” (Indeed, but what explains the difference between the cultures of North and South Korea, which — as Allen Orr notes in his review of the book (see below) — are certainly genetically very close to each other?)

More here.