A Troublesome Inheritance is good at explaining some things, but poor when it comes to the majority of its subject matter.
The first few chapters, describing how humans differentiated from our chimp-like ancestors, and how basic moral instincts are genetically inscribed into our children's DNA even before we start to teach them right from wrong with our languages or religions, is very edifying. Yet again I'm struck by just how important monogamy is to moral development. The only real difference between chimps and mankind is that we became monogamous whereas they maintained their ruthlessly competitive harems -- all morality and civilization seems to turn around this singular fulcrum point. This should occasion comment in the proclivities of blacks that remain promiscuous to this day, with an 80% illegitimacy rate. In fact, President Zuma of South Africa, newly reelected to a second term, is an outright polygamist who stands out shamelessly in the light of day with his dozen or so wives, plus the women he raped during his days of 'impetuous youth,' but then again practically all South African men have raped a woman or two in their lives so we shouldn't be too judgmental of their president.
Polygamy, in the ruthless sense where a big man tries to collect all the women in the region to himself by force, is the #1 deterrent to cooperative societies, and as such the #1 deterrent to moral and just civilizations. Rape and polygamy are essentially the same thing. As Mohammed explained, men in Islam are allowed up to four wives (of course Mohammed had a special dispensation from Allah that allowed him to have as many wives as he wanted, including even delectable 9 year olds), but can also keep as many mistresses as they please, so long as they were seized during war/plunder/raiding of the infidel. IE, polygamy is okay, and so is rape! Have at it, boys! The two customs almost always travel hand in hand, both in the chimpanzee/animal kingdom below us, and the pathetic customs of the archaic regions of the world today. Any pairing not based on mutual respect, equality, and love, is rape, or at best prostitution, no matter how you try to dress the situation up.
Ironically, I predict an era will emerge where loving polygamy becomes the norm, as only a few men are competent enough to attract women in the modern world today. With 60% of college graduates being women and only 40% men, but marriages almost always staying within the same level of education/income between the sexes, loving, voluntary polygamy almost has no choice but to re-emerge in the modern world. Women would much prefer to be one among many mates of a lawyer or doctor than resign themselves to being the lifelong companion of a dishwasher. Somehow the dishwasher's loving devotion just isn't enough to get the heart beating with excitement. This type of polygamy will yield eugenic results in the long run, and everyone who enters it volunteered for it, not out of economic necessity but simply because they preferred the arrangement over staying single, where working women are already doing just fine for themselves. Modern polygamy should be legalized and even encouraged. Anything that could increase the birth rate of highly intelligent, highly educated men and women would be a good thing in our current dysgenic nightmare. African and Islamic polygamy is not the same, and it has more in common with chimpanzee social life than, shall we say, western norms.
But after explaining the evolutionary and biological basis for the differences between the races and human nature, the book diverges into the realm of mere speculation. The ridiculous gap in this book stands out like a white elephant, the subject no one is allowed to name. If civilization as we know it depended on the evolution of behavioral traits that were not yet 'ready' until 1800 AD, like literacy, thrift, pacifism and self-restraint, why were the Greeks and Romans already so proficient in these traits by 400 BC? It was said in Rome that you could travel across the fullness of its highways with a bag of gold in your hand and never be robbed, the Empire was so safe. Factories of diligent workers churned out enough glass for the entire Mediterranean basin to consume. Greeks had invented calculus, computers, steam engines, and predicted the existence of the atom. Philosophers like Plato and Socrates to this day have not been beaten by any contemporary thinker in terms of describing a well lived life or a good man. There are no lack of heroic individuals in Greco-Roman history. Giant public works projects, from temples to aqueducts to Coliseums, were organized and built. Literature was so good that their works are still read admiringly to this day simply for their entertainment value. Nicholas Wade never once addresses the accomplishments of Greece and Rome, which renders his entire evolutionary argument dead on arrival. Everyone in the 1800's compared themselves to Greco-Roman culture. For someone in the 21st century to speak glowingly of how great 1800's British were compared to their 1200's forebears is eye-rollingly missing the point. 1800's British could care less about 1200's British. Their competition was, and always would be, the Roman Empire which once ruled their island all the way up to Hadrian's wall, the name of perhaps the greatest ruler in all of history.
Did the Roman Empire's genome evolve to the epitome of human greatness, collapse, regress back into degeneracy, only to see it quicken back to eugenic grace millennia later? It just sounds too absurd.
Rather than a vague set of behavioral genetic traits suddenly jumping up in quality over the course of a few centuries, sparking off the industrial revolution out of deterministic necessity, the weight of the evidence seems to show that our ancestors were always virtuous, bright, and accomplished in all fields, and the variations in Europe's level of grandeur were matters of pure historic chance, the product of one battle, one plague, one inventor, or one bad ruler rather than any grand evolutionary design. Europe in 500 BC already had Greece and Rome, Europe in 1000 AD had grand cathedrals, gothic music, chivalric conduct, and enterprising Vikings willing to sail across the Atlantic ocean, Europe in 1500 AD had the printing press, freedom of religion (and thought in general), commerce, the Sistine Chapel, and the discovery of America, Europe in 1700 AD had democracy, the rule of law, the laws of gravity, optics, and motion, world commerce, fictional books for the sake of pure entertainment, operas, ballets, orchestras, and armies which could defeat foreigners even when outnumbered 100 to 1. And yet I am to believe that Europe took off because of evolutionary progress that just started to show up in the year 1800, because Europeans had finally become suitable vessels for the Industrial Revolution?
Europe was always ready for the Industrial Revolution. It was sheer bad luck that it didn't start during the Greco-Roman times. It may have simply come down to Archimedes getting killed by that idiot Roman soldier, even though he had been expressly ordered not to harm the scientist but to apprehend him alive. All history hinged on that one chance event. Once the Roman empire fell, Europe fell into a state of perennial violence that made economic and cultural progress virtually impossible. If it wasn't Vikings, it was Vandals. If it wasn't Vandals, it was Saracens. If it wasn't Saracens, it was Turks. If it wasn't Turks, it was Mongols. And after the Mongols came the black plague, which decimated Europe all over again. The first time Europe even had a chance to get back on its feet was 1500, and whaddyaknow, the moment they got that chance they took it. After 1500 the exponential growth of Europe back to its former glory and beyond was not a story of Europeans gaining newly acquired powers, but simply resuming the natural course they would have taken from the start of history, if not for a few unfortunate accidents along the road.
The people described in ancient literature, like the Iliad of Homer, are no less civilized or virtuous than we are. They may be a little violent for our tastes, but their sense of honor, duty, and self-sacrifice is no different from our own. The idea that we've evolved in the last few hundred years to be a new man, 'industrial man,' is insulting. Are you really going to tell me that Joe Blow, a perfect example of our new-fangled 'industrial man,' is a more evolved primate than Socrates? Hector? Cicero? Aeschylus? Euclid? Epictetus? Plutarch? Alexander the Great?
No doubt, good habits and a virtuous citizenry are key to a nation's success. But the genetic potential for Europeans to be virtuous is at least as old as Europe's oldest literature -- because the literature describes heroic individuals, and, in the case of Thucydides, entire heroic nations, from beginning to end.
Far more likely, the Industrial Revolution was caused by a boom of economic and demographic growth, whose creative surplus finally crossed the threshold necessary for a philosophical revolution, Thomas Paine's 'Age of Reason' and Francis Bacon's Novum Organum. This boom began after the Black Death and never really slowed down, going straight from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment to the Industrial Revolution in one swift push. The reason why Eastern Europe fell behind Western Europe is that it was still stuck fighting the wars against the Turks and Mongols that Western Europe was free to ignore for centuries of undisturbed peace and tranquility. When Russians are free to their own devices, they keep up with the West in cultural and scientific brilliance just fine. This is a pretty simple thought experiment that isolates the variable of just what made Britain such a likely prospect for the birth of the modern world. Britain was an island, isolated from all of its foes, who hadn't been successfully attacked since 1066. Russia meanwhile, at the time, was still trying to wrest its soil back from the Khans, and trying to rescue its kidnapped slaves from the Crimean Tatars. How exactly was it supposed to stop long enough to invent the steam engine?
History is the richest and most interesting story humanity has ever written. To throw out the lessons of history and insist evolution, not actual people and actual events, shaped the modern world we see before us today, is trampling over a great and priceless treasure of human knowledge and wisdom.
So much for his central thesis. My next objection to Nicholas Wade is his facilely absurd claims that just because some races are smarter, richer, less criminal, more accomplished, longer lived, with more justice and liberty for all than others doesn't make them 'superior,' which is a 'meaningless term anyway,' . . .
Okay, Wade, what do you think is superior? *Crickets*
Okay, let's make this easier on you, Wade. Between these two traits, which would you prefer your daughter to have -- Smart or stupid? Violent or temperate? Vicious or refined? Rich or poor? Productive or parasitic?
Now, between two races, which of the two traits do you prefer?
You can't just list how white and East Asians and Jews are superior in all ways to Blacks and Australian Aborigines, and then turn around and say they're all equal, and it's a meaningless concept anyway, we're all just minor variations on a theme. Is productive vs. parasitic a 'minor' variation? Smart or stupid? Vicious or refined? Violent or temperate? Rich or poor? These all seem like rather major variations to me.
Obviously, if differences within racial genomes give rise to major differences in outcomes, the differences that lead to these major differences must be deemed as of major consequence as well. This would be like a doctor telling you, "Aside from just this one minor variation of your stomach having malignant cancer, your health is just a meaningless variation from the norm!"
Cancer may be just a few mutations, it may just be a few cells big in size, but it has life and death consequences. Racial differences are the same. These are dramatic consequences that give rise to the difference between freaking mud huts and skyscrapers. Between voodoo sacrifices and men on the moon. Does that sound like a minor variation to you? What exactly would be major then?
Likewise, his objection to eugenics is also on the face of it pathetic. He says that intelligence isn't a good trait, so there's no point breeding for it. In that case, I would like to ask him, is he glad that he has the intelligence to be an author and editor for Science magazine? Is he glad his children are smart enough to graduate from college and get high status, high paying jobs? Is he thankful for all the inventions that surround him, invented by highly intelligent men, that make his life easier every second of his day? Does he listen to any music, read any books, or watch any movies, directed, composed, and written by intelligent artists? Intelligence isn't a good trait? He knows he's lying. There's a smarmy smirk on his face as he writes sentences like this. How can he even say such an awful thing? Intelligence isn't a good thing? Then how are we any better than the animals?
Even if, for some insane reason, eugenics shouldn't breed for intelligence, why wouldn't we use it to improve human health? It's well known that mental illness is hereditary, as are various physical congenital diseases. Is there any reason to visit these awful genes upon a new generation of innocent children? How about human beauty? Is there any reason various people should be born with misshapen facial features that doom them the moment they leave the womb? Do you know how much money is spent on orthodontists, plastic surgeons, hair dyes, cosmetics, etc, etc, all of which could be obviated if nature just got us right the first time? How about having a good body? Is there anyone who doesn't wish to be fit, thin, fast, strong, well coordinated, with sharp reflexes, good eyesight, tall, non-bald, etc? You can't see anything eugenics could breed for?
Just how blessed is Nicholas Wade, to assume that humanity is just fine the way it is, without any need for improvement whatsoever at a base level? Do you know how many people wish they were different, and how much they would give for a chance to change? Eugenics gives all future generations of mankind that chance. And you want to take it away from them? Worse, you want to call eugenics an evil mistake, science gone wrong? Why, exactly, is three generations of imbeciles not enough?
The worst part about this book is how often he says an obviously politically correct thing which he doesn't even believe himself. For instance, he says there is no aesthetic superiority of fair skin over dark. This flies in the face of thousands of years of linguistic usage, where 'fair' is synonymous with beautiful. Nor is this restricted to 'racist whites.' Hispanics prefer fair women in their beauty talent shows and soap operas. Indians prefer fair women in their bollywood movies. Blacks buy skin creams to make their skin lighter. Asians do the same. In fact, the entire world aspires for fair skin, from Seal to O.J. Simpson to Tiger Woods, every black who has a chance ditches his racial compatriots and grabs himself a white woman. Not only is it self-evident, it is the revealed preference of all men and all women on Earth, that fair skin is the most beautiful.
Naturally, the nordic, utterly unique looks of our blonde hair, red hair, blue eyes, green eyes, and every other exotic combination makes a mockery of the brown/black world, which is just one listless monotone. The two can't even be compared. No aesthetic difference between fair skin and foul? Yeah, right.
Nicholas Wade dismisses the conclusion of IQ and the Wealth of Nations, even though IQ is the best correlate to success of any statistic, whether on an individual basis or a national one. IQ and the Wealth of Nations does not say IQ is everything, it says it is about half the cause of prosperity, the other half being freedom (as described by the Heritage Freedom Index.) This can explain every single disparity between IQ and wealth, like China. Hong Kong and Taiwan, also occupied by Chinese, seem to be doing just fine, just by having a little injection of this elixir called freedom. When freedom is taken into account, IQ explains everything. IQ is a far likelier explanation for why some countries, ethnicities, or races have done better across history than others, than a nebulous 'agrarian-driven evolution of good behavior in the past few hundred years' as described by Wade.
Rather than good manners, wasn't it IQ that was improving across time in Britain? If the children of the rich and intelligent were edging out the poor and unintelligent, wouldn't IQ be the main factor that led to Britain's dynamic success in the 1800's?
Basically, the book is worthless. It's educational in the first few chapters, but the snide, smirky, almost teenage level of sarcasm that ironically discusses these topics is not what I expect from a serious scientific and dispassionate review of the evidence. Eugenics is no good because it leads to smart people coming up with theories like Marxism? Well what about when it leads to theories like quantum physics? Or the germ theory of disease? Or personal liberty? How about those theories? Does intelligence count then? I hear J.S. Mill was a pretty smart guy. Should you ask him to turn his brain in for a more standard, model T version, because intelligence is never a good thing? How about Einstein?
If you want to argue against something, at least do so in good faith. Not in a one line joke, that breezily tries to pass off an entire topic as beneath your notice. Superiority is a meaningless concept? Really? How about 'preferability' then. Is it okay if I prefer to be smart, beautiful, healthy, and fit? How about just preferring to belong to the race that's invented the entire modern world, as opposed to the race that never got out of the stone age? Is there any grounds for preferring that race? Or is that just crazy talk?
The best whopper is probably when he says blacks could be called the best race, because they have the most genetic variation. All that genetic variation, which leads to exactly. . .what? Money? Power? Fame? Jail? I don't see how their genetic variation is helping any, fox. Please explain why they 'win' due to having so much of it. Just run that by me again. . .
Ultimately, Nicholas Wade is just a coward who isn't willing to say what he really believes. As a result, his book is a waste of time, because it isn't logically coherent. If he would stand on principle and simply announce, "yes, some races are more genetically blessed than others," his book could have meant something. As it stands, it's just a discordant heap of words.