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Dobbs vs. Wade

David Dobbs reviews ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’ in the NY Times. Once again, Nicholas Wade falls flat.

If Wade could point to genes that give races distinctive social behaviors, we might overlook such shortcomings. But he cannot.

He tries. He tells, for instance, of specific gene variants that reputedly create less trust and more violence in ­African-Americans and, he says, explain their resistance to modern economic institutions and practices. Alas, the scientific literature he draws on is so uneven and disputed that many geneticists dismiss it outright. Wade also cites a 2008 paper that analyzed the genomes of almost 1,000 people from 51 populations around the globe. That paper found that people from different regions do indeed tend to have distinctive genomes. But Wade errs in saying the paper supports his idea that genetic selection has created races with particular social inclinations.

To begin with, the 2008 study mentions nothing about race. It merely establishes that many of the slight differences between human genomes cluster by geography at many scales, including continents, and that genomes from any given location will most likely be similar, just as two people from a particular place will most likely speak with similar accents.

Second, and far more serious, the paper’s authors specifically state that while selection may sometimes create genetic differences between populations, they saw little evidence that selection shaped the small genetic differences they found. In fact, they say the differences can be largely explained by “random drift” — arbitrary changes in genes having little to no effect on people’s biology or behavior. All of this directly contradicts Wade’s argument. Yet he baldly claims the study as support.

And he does this sort of thing repeatedly: He constantly gathers up long shots, speculations and spurious claims, then declares they add up to substantiate his case.

You know, mangling peer-reviewed articles and throwing a prejudicial slant on science that ignores the totality of the evidence is what creationists do, but I’m sure Wade’s HBD supporters will be along shortly to accuse Dobbs of being a ‘new creationist’.


Check out Dobbs’ blog post on the article. Very first comments are tiresome cliches from the same usual bores who show up to defend racism, flinging around accusations of “New Creationism” and “Cultural Marxism”. Prediction fulfilled.

Comments

  1. chigau (違う) says

    Is ‘African-American’ a different Race® than ‘African-Canadian’?

  2. says

    I took a look over at David Dobb’s website to read what he had written there and the first comment is everything I have come to expect from Wade’s supporters. Absolutely ludicrous and ignorant, invoking the New Creationist gambit that PZ posted about a few weeks ago.

    I probably like Wade’s book more than you do but what I do not like is all the New Creationism that many of Wade’s critics are invoking:

    http://oi58.tinypic.com/33my649.jpg#sthash.1Q7J4iSV.dpuf

    The “race is a social construct” mantra of Cultural Marxists is not only wrong but is also just plain tiresome. These Cultural Marxists are the true enemies of Darwin, so, at the end of the day, I must side with Darwin against these ideological critics.

  3. azhael says

    The “race is a social construct” mantra of Cultural Marxists is not only wrong but is also just plain tiresome. These Cultural Marxists are the true enemies of Darwin, so, at the end of the day, I must side with Darwin against these ideological critics.

    If it is so wrong and tiresome, why not show us the data that conclusively puts this to rest? Oh? What’s that? You don’t have any? Hmmmm….But wait, that would seem to mean you don’t have a fucking clue what you are talking about and you are just basing all of this on your preexisting prejudice and a deep missunderstanding of what science is, coupled with lots of ignorance. It’s almost as if you are just a sound bite machine spewing things that sound vaguely powerful to you…enemies of Darwin….New Creationism….I’m sure the usage of those terms is extremely reassuring to others of your ilk that you all know science and must be in the right.

    It’s extremely satisfying to see this unscientific arseholes being destroyed so thoroughly by the scientific community.

  4. lakitha tolbert says

    What I’m getting extremely tired of is yet another kook scientific book attempting to describe why PoC are deficient. Not even questioning their presumption of deficiency, that shit gets real tired real fast.

  5. christianhuseby says

    Ok I am just going to say, predicting that racist HBD ninnies will show up to a blog post and whine is like predicting the sun rise. Not a lot of special powers needed. Although first post, they are exceptionally timely.

  6. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    christianhusebyIf you’re referring to chigau’s post #1 above I’m afraid you’ve missed the mark. That right there is terse snark, something she’s known for ’round these parts. If you’re not referring to that, sorry, carry on….

  7. PatrickG says

    christianhuseby is presumably referring to the first comment on the linked article, which is breathtaking in its inanity.

  8. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    PatrickG. Sigh. I’m sure you’re right, what with last couple of lines in PZ’s OP pointing it out and all. You know, I could have sworn I read this post right the way through just seconds before commenting…. my brain hates me. Sorry christianhuseby.

  9. kayden says

    “He tells, for instance, of specific gene variants that reputedly create less trust and more violence in ­African-Americans”

    How is it possible for a gene to create trust or more violence? I’m not a scientist but this claim doesn’t make sense. I would think that certain African Americans suffer from stress which causes less trust and more violence in specific settings, i.e., inner cities with high crime rates, poor job prospects, etc. But I assume that White Americans would suffer the same stress factors under similar conditions.

    Wade simply sounds like a White Supremacist. Nothing new.

  10. Gnumann+, out&proud cultural marxist (just don't ask me about Gramsci) says

    It kinda funny how these people never seem to get what a social construct actually is (they’re usually not that good on social Marxism either).

    And could anybody please point me to the elite social Marxist governing class that’s oppressing the wingbats? It looks like they could use some pointers on how to run things… (And of course I want my grand conspiracy handouts).

  11. zhenshchina says

    I think it’s amusing how someone called the black commenter (well, mixed, though he calls himself black when it’s convenient) uncle ruckus :/

    This though: “Too bad for him modern behavioral genetic studies show that the shared environment term – which represents the direct “cultural” transmission from parents to child is exactly zero.”

    Dafuq?

  12. says

    lakitha tolbert:

    What I’m getting extremely tired of is yet another kook scientific book attempting to describe why PoC are deficient. Not even questioning their presumption of deficiency, that shit gets real tired real fast.

    I completely agree.

    ****

    kayden:

    How is it possible for a gene to create trust or more violence?

    I’d really like to know the answer to this as well.

  13. M Steinberg says

    ***If Wade could point to genes that give races distinctive social behaviors, we might overlook such shortcomings. But he cannot.***

    To be fair, doesn’t Wade note MAOA-2R? Beaver et al noted:

    There has been a great deal of research examining the link between a polymorphism in the promoter region of the MAOA gene and antisocial phenotypes. The results of these studies have consistently revealed that low activity MAOA alleles are related to antisocial behaviors for males who were maltreated as children. Recently, though, some evidence has emerged indicating that a rare allele of the MAOA gene-that is, the 2-repeat allele-may have effects on violence that are independent of the environment.

    (Psychiatr Q. 2013 Dec 11. )

    And this does different frequencies across groups.

    The prospect of genes linked to different traits occuring in different frequencies across groups is hardly novel. Professor Robert Weinberg noted the exact same prospect 10 years ago in Biology 7.012 at MIT:

    >Weinberg (@ 32:40): … And what happens if one of these days people discover alleles for certain aspects of cognitive function? Chess playing ability. The ability to learn five different languages. The ability to remember strings of numbers. The ability to speak extemporaneously in front of a class, for what it’s worth, for 50 minutes several times a week.

    Whatever ability you want, valued or not so valued, what if those alleles begin to come out? And here’s the worse part. What if somebody begins to look for the frequency of those alleles in different ethnic groups scattered across this planet? Now, you will say to me, well, God has made all his children equal. But the fact is if you look at the details of human evolution, some of which I discussed with you a week ago, last week, you’ll come to realize that most populations in humanity are the modern descendents of very small founder groups.

    … So the fact is it’s inescapable that different alleles are going to be present with different frequencies in different inbreeding populations of humanity or populations of humanity that traditionally have been genetically isolated from one another..

    What’s going to happen then? I don’t know. But some scientists say, well, the truth must come out and that everything that can be learned should be learned, and we will learn how to digest it and we will learn how to live with that. But I’m not so sure that’s the right thing. And you all have to wrestle with that as well. …

    MIT biology – Weinberg

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