Flipping the Script on Race and Genetics

Thankfully, Arthur Allen at The New York Times isn’t buying what a new high profile book about genetic determinism and race is selling:

Conservative scholars like the political scientist Francis Fukuyama have long argued that social institutions and culture explain why Europe beat Asia to prosperity, and why parts of the Mideast and Africa continue to suffer destabilizing violence and misery.

Mr. Wade takes this already controversial argument a step further, contending that “slight evolutionary differences in social behavior” underlie social and cultural differences. A small but consistent divergence in a racial group’s tendency to trust outsiders — and therefore to accept central rather than tribal authority — could explain “much of the difference between tribal and modern societies,” he writes.

This is where Mr. Wade’s argument starts to go off the rails.

Books like Nicholas Wade’s “A Troublesome Inheritance” take deep-roted stereotypes about races and cultures and try to create a scientific basis for their validity. This is most clearly perceivable if you flip the script on them. Francis Fukuyama and Nicholas Wade aren’t arguing, for example, that white people, whether through genetics or culture, lack empathy, and that is why white people have such a profound history of slaughtering, enslaving and oppressing racially different people.

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