Human Biodiversity Books Reviewed

by Steve Sailer


www.iSteve.com



Table of Contents
Click on the underlined link to go to my review

Kwame Anthony Appiah & Amy Gutman -- Color Conscious : The Political Morality of Race
2 out of 5 stars Gutman dull and dogmatic, Appiah intelligent but wrong

John R. Baker -- Race
4 out of 5 stars Erudite, fascinating, arguable

L.L. Cavalli-Sforza -- The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution
2 out of 5 stars Politically correct spin covering up superb research

Susan Cayleff -- Babe : The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias
3 out of 5 stars Great subject, dull lesbian propaganda

Dinesh D'Souza -- The End of Racism : Principles for a Multiracial Society
4 out of 5 stars Excellent on the little questions, dubious on the big ones

Robert A. Heinlein -- Starship Troopers
4 out of 5 stars Prophetic picture of a multi-ethnic mono-cultural army

John Hoberman -- Darwin's Athletes : How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race
2 out of 5 stars Failed attempt to prove blacks aren't better athletes

Jonathan Kingdon -- Self-Made Man : Human Evolution from Eden to Extinction?
4 out of 5 stars Unusual but plausible ideas on origins of human biodiversity

Michael Levin -- Why Race Matters
3 out of 5 stars Decimates racial cant, but has little to offer in its place

Steven Pinker -- How the Mind Works
5 out of 5 stars Enormously entertaining

Eugene Robinson -- Coal to Cream : A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race
3 out of 5 stars Nicely written, important topic, but not thought through

J.P. Rushton -- Race, Evolution and Behavior : A Life History Perspective
5 out of 5 stars Rushton's Rule: African --> European --> East Asian

Dan Seligman -- A Question of Intelligence : The IQ Debate in America
5 out of 5 stars The best introduction to the IQ controversy

Pierre L. Van Den Berghe -- The Ethnic Phenomenon
5 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of disillusionment: Marx meets E.O. Wilson

Tom Wolfe -- Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers
5 out of 5 stars An pioneering study of human biodiversity in America

Tom Wolfe -- A Man in Full
5 out of 5 stars The Great Darwinian Novel

Tom Wolfe -- Ambush at Fort Bragg
4 out of 5 stars What exactly is it that gay men do?

 

Reviews in Full

Click on any title to go to that book's page at Amazon.com

Kwame Anthony Appiah & Amy Gutman -- Color Conscious : The Political Morality of Race

2 out of 5 stars Gutman dull and dogmatic, Appiah intelligent but wrong
November 25, 1998
Amy Gutman argues that racial quotas are needed because of racial discrimination. There is some truth to this: for example, the Nixon administration invented quotas to fight blatant discrimination by craft unions in Philadelphia, and it's hard to imagine any other tactic working to end discrimination by unions devoted to enforcing anti-competitive, nepotistic hiring. Unfortunately, Gutman makes no attempt to distinguish anti-competitive organizations from competitive ones, which have economic incentives to not discriminate. In fact, I don't think Gutman is even aware of the distinction. She merely assumes that if blacks are under-represented anywhere, it's because of discrimination. Well, we've certainly heard that before, so what's the point of writing another book if you're just going to repeat the same old dogmas?

Appiah, on the other hand, is a more open and intriguing thinker. This may stem from the near-comic ironies of his position in life. He is a Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard, but he's not very Afro-American. He was born in Ghana of a local father and an English mother. He has spent a lot of his career arguing that "race" has no biological "essence," but is just a social construct.

It's not hard for him to knock down the absurd strawmen he sets up. He assumes that if there is no Platonic essence to each race, and that if each member of each race can't be perfectly identified, the whole concept of race must be discarded. Of course, reality is not Platonic, it's relativistic and probabilistic. It's humorously hypocritical for a relativist like Appiah to denounce the concept of race just because it's relativistic.

For example, all his criticisms of the concept of race apply with equal, if not greater, force to the concept of family. Nobody can agree on the precise numbers of races? Nobody can agree on the precise number of extended families either. Are some people descended from more than one race? Well, everybody is descended from more than one family. There's no single gene that proves you belong to one race or another? Well, there's no single gene that proves you are your father's child either. Paternity testers examine a host of genes in order to increase the probability of a correct attribution. (In fact, the exact same DNA techniques are used by forensic scientists to inform police of the probable race of criminal who left a bloodstain at the crime scene.)

Why does family provide so many perfect analogies for race? Because they aren't analogies: a race is an extremely extended family. There are no hard and fast borders between families and races -- the only qualitative difference is that races show a degree of endogamy (in-breeding), which means that races are actually somewhat more coherent and definite, and less fuzzy than families.

 

John R. Baker Race

4 out of 5 stars Erudite, fascinating, arguable
November 25, 1998
Baker is an extraordinarily learned biologist, who approached the topic of race among humans with the same thoroughness that he brought to studying race among non-humans animals.

Much of his data comes from before political correctness completely enshrouded anthropology in the late 1960's, so the vocabulary often seems dated. Nonetheless, many of his views on the ancestry of different populations, based on morphology, linguistics, archaeology and the like, have been confirmed by recent genetic testing (see Cavalli-Sforza's "History and Geography of Human Genes" -- and, please, do read C-S' book, don't just satisfy yourself with C-S's deceitful cover stories about how politically correct his finding are.)

Baker's focus in the concluding chapters is on different races' capabilities to found a civilization. He gives a 23 point test of whether a culture can be reasonably considered a civilization, and examines various races' accomplishments in this regard. This book is worth reading in tandem with Jared Diamond's Pulitzer prize-winning "Guns, Germs, and Steel," in which Diamond argues that every racial group in the world did as well as any other group could have with the resources of that region. Baker anticipated a number of Diamond's arguments and refutes them (e.g., could sub-Saharan Africans have put elephants to work like Asians and Carthaginains did?), but the truth probably lies somewhere between the two authors' views.

Baker's exploration of the capability of different groups to start true civiliations is certainly interesting, yet, I wonder how relevant this question is to the modern world, where there is no need to invent new civilizations because you can download an Anglo-American one from the Internet.. The Japanese, for example, have shown relatively little talent at originating a civilization, but vast skill at borrowing others' novel ideas and adapting and, often, improving them. Similarly, the question of whether Africans could have invented a civilization on their own is interesting, but it's not as germane as Baker seems to assume to the more pressing question of how African-Americans can best fit into the existing American civilization. Further, some groups that did little to build their own civilizations, and still seem to have a certain amount of trouble fitting into others' civilizations -- e.g., sub-Saharan Africans and the Irish -- have contributed an extraordinary amount to the culture of modern life.

 

L.L. Cavalli-Sforza -- The Great Human Diasporas : The History of Diversity and Evolution
2 out of 5 stars Politically correct spin covering up superb research
October 11, 1998
Cavalli-Sforza holds the world's most politically incorrect job: tracing the origins of genetic differences among races and ethnic groups. Not surprisingly, C-S loudly asserts a series of pious cover stories about the meaning of his work, even though the wonderful data he accumulates subverts fashionable ideas like "There is no such thing as race." Obviously, people can't agree on exactly how many races there are, what to call them, or precisely who is in them. But the same criticisms can also be made of the concept of "extended family," but that doesn't mean extended families don't exist. The reason for the similarity between the concepts of race and extended family is simply because races are extremely extended families.

Similarly, C-S likes to say there is far more differentiation within groups than between groups. Of course, in reality it all depends on which trait you are talking about. Consider the job of identifying individuals for police investigations. Fingerprint variation is largely individual, skull shape is a mixture of individual and racial, while the general appearance of a living person (the gestalt of skin color, hair, facial features, etc.) is largely racial.

Fortunately, C-S doesn't seem to take his politics seriously, so he plows ahead with the world's best research into genetic differences.

C-S's genetic diagrams point to a reasonably coherent 5 or 6 race model: Indo-Europeans (Caucasians); sub-Saharan Africans; Amerindians (related to Asians of course); Papuan/Australians; and East Asians, who can either be thought of as one race or as two divided into Northeast Asians and Southeast Asians. There are of course a number of smaller groups that don't fit the model particularly well.

This book, written for a general audience, is especially larded with political correctness. His more technical and more expensive books are more informative.
 

Susan E. Cayleff -- Babe : The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias
3 out of 5 stars Great subject, dull lesbian propaganda
November 19, 1998
The author spends a lot of time patting herself on the back for discovering that Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the greatest woman athlete of the first half of the 20th Century,  was a lesbian -- wow, who could possibly have imagined that? Considering that Babe had a prominent Adam's apple and was as stridently competitive in anything and everything in life as Ty Cobb, lesbianism did not exactly come as a shock to me.

What's really surprising is that the author fails to prove her case: she interviewed the young woman golfer who moved in with Babe and her husband George Zaharias after George ballooned up to 400 pounds, but the author never got around to asking Babe's gal-pal if she and Babe really did the nasty. In fact, I was more struck by reading about the intensely heterosexual love affair between Babe and her professional wrestler husband. Some time in her late twenties, after her Olympic triumphs, Babe suddenly grew breasts and developed an interest in boys. She then only seems to have fallen out of love with her he-man husband when he turned into a huge marshmallow.

 
Dinesh D'Souza -- The End of Racism : Principles for a Multiracial Society
4 out of 5 stars Excellent on the little questions, dubious on the big ones
October 11, 1998
It's ironic that liberal critics dumped so heavily on D'Souza, because he built his book around a series of assumptions about race that are straight from the liberal conventional wisdom on the subject. In fact, the parts of his book that liberals objected to most vehemently stem logically from his application of politically correct principles. Here are the disastrous assumptions that drained much of the value from a book so chock-full of information and intelligence about minor matters (e.g., his discussion of rational discrimination by cab-drivers is excellent). D'Souza's assumptions:

1. That the word "racism" is still a useful and meaningful term. In contrast, I would suggest that "racism" has become to the 90's what "unAmericanism" was to the 50's: a smear word intended to shut off logical thought.

2. That whites invented racism. In contrast, I would suggest that favoring those who are genetically related to you, and disfavoring those who aren't is a human universal. Its origin lies in a form of natural selection called kinship selection, which encourages us to favor the reproductive success of our genes not only within our own bodies, but within the bodies of people we share those genes with. See William Hamilton or Richard Dawkins [The Selfish Gene] for the math.

3. That the definition of a "racist" is someone who believes there are genetic differences among the races. This is the exact equivalent of a 19th century bishop saying that the definition of a "sinner" is someone who believes humans are descended from apes. The question of genetic differences is an empirical issue, not a matter of faith. That people who are married to a member of another race very often believe in the importance of genetic differences should give anybody pause who tries to glibly equate racist and hereditarian.

4. That behavioral differences among races stem solely from cultural differences. Obviously, this culture-only dogma begs the question of where cultural differences came from. Also obviously, the evidence for genetic differences among races is overwhelming, as any honest man who watches sports on TV can testify. In fact, D'Souza provides an excellent summary of some of the evidence for the reality and significance of genetic differences ... then simply rejects it all with no more explanation that that it's "too suspect to count."

5. That because genetics counts for nothing, everything that's wrong with black society today is the result of black culture. This is what drove so many blacks and white liberals into frothing rages over the book. In contrast, a realist perspective would suggest a much more positive perspective on African-American culture. Much of what's distinctive about African-American culture is descended from West African culture, which is, from the Darwinian point of view of reproductive success, a rational adjustment to conditions prevailing in West Africa in ages past. Unlike in the cold north, where male hunters provided most of the food to survive the winter and thus wives were expensive, in West Africa most women could gather enough to feed themselves and their children year-round, making husbands into expensive luxuries, who had to justify themselves by being sexy. This economic fact of life allowed men to have more wives than was affordable in hunting-dependent climes. The affordability of having many wives increases the competition among men, which manifested itself both in fighting among men and in wooing of women via talk, song, dance, etc. (The African-American pimp-ho relationship is an extreme version of this.) The male losers in these struggles failed to pass on their genes, while the winners had lots of kids who would carry onward their genes for muscularity (useful in fighting other men), handsomeness, charisma and improvisational ability (useful both in becoming a leader of men, and in attracting women).

Thus, the economic situation inherent in West Africa became embedded over time in the genes, producing a race that's especially talented at physically competing against other men for women and in charming women. Thus, African-American culture is hardly the all-around bleak failure described by D'Souza, but is outstanding at producing personalities to fill many of the most popular roles in American society: athlete, entertainer, Army general, politician, preacher, plaintiff's attorney, etc. It's failings are largely the flip side of its successes. The high crime rate, for example, stems from the same high degree of masculinity, which makes African-Americans good soldiers and great athletes.

This is not to say that, for instance, today's high crime rate among blacks is permanent. It suggests, however, that solutions will have to be crafted that take into account black's higher degree of masculinity, and try to direct that potent energy into socially positive directions. That's why the highly masculine Army, for example, succeeds better at giving blacks the values they need to succeed than do do-gooder programs. Similarly, the black advantage over whites at mental improvisation (so visible in basketball, jazz, preaching, rap, etc.) suggests that blacks would tend to do best at jobs like sales where improvisatory ability and male charisma are most valuable.

Robert A. Heinlein -- Starship Troopers

4 out of 5 stars Prophetic picture of a multi-ethnic mono-cultural army
September 4, 1997
Heinlein was America's greatest science-fiction writer, and one of the most interesting minds of the 20th Century. Starship Troopers is one of his three novels to achieve cult status. Remarkably, each appeals to a different cult: Starship Troopers to soldiers, Stranger in a Strange in a Strange Land to hippies, and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress to libertarians. One thing I'd like to add is that Starship Troopers offered a brilliant preview of what our Army has become in the last 15 years: a successful multiethnic institution. The soldiers in the book come from practically every society on earth. The narrator, for example, is a Tagalog-speaking Filipino named Juan Rico. As military sociologist Charles Moskos has pointed out, the reason the U.S. Army succeeds in getting people from a diverse variety of ethnic groups to work together is because it is NOT multicultural: it's monocultural. It imposes a very distinct militaristic culture upon its recruits. And it offers a unifying goal: victory. (Sports teams are similar.) This offers lessons for the rest of our society, especially our elite universities, which are having so much more trouble dealing with ethnic diversity than the military or college athletic squads. 

 

 

John Hoberman -- Darwin's Athletes : How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race

2 out of 5 stars Failed attempt to prove blacks aren't better athletes
January 20, 1998
Like most cultural studies professors, Dr. Hoberman denounces as "racist" any who doubt that all ethnic differences have purely social origins. He rushes in to one topic, though, where his allies fear to tread: Dredging up various historical data, he tries to show that the intensifying link between between race and athletic success somehow stems solely from cultural conditioning. His struggles with the evidence, though, recall the old joke about the Soviet worker on the Leningrad Baby Buggy Factory’s receiving dock. Unable to buy a buggy anywhere, he pilfers a set of parts. Sadly, the only way they turn out to fit together is as a machine gun. Likewise, Dr. Hoberman ends up strafing himself in the foot with his own theoretical baby buggy. Revealingly, he deplores integrated sports precisely because they "create the proverbial level playing field." Letting us fans watch lean East Africans outdistance the world’s runners, or brawny Samoans flatten NFL quarterbacks, or lithe Chinese dive and tumble for Olympic gold, or muscular athletes of West African descent out-sprint, out-jump, and out-hit all comers... Well, it just encourages us couch potatoes to believe our lying eyes rather than what Thomas Sowell calls the "visions of the annointed." 

Jonathan Kingdon -- Self-Made Man : Human Evolution from Eden to Extinction?
4 out of 5 stars Unusual but plausible ideas on origins of human biodiversity
October 8, 1998
Jonathan Kingdon is an English biologist who was born and raised in Kenya. He is an expert on East African animals, including that most fearsome of African-born predators, man. Here he examines human evolution, especially the relatively recent diversification of our species into countless ethnic groups. How did the major races originate? And what role did tool-making play in our evolution? Kingdon is inspired by a deep love of human variability, as his lovely pencil drawings of the people he has encountered around the world make clear. Everybody talks about "celebrating diversity" these days, but in practice that usually means the opposite: trying to prevent anybody from noticing the kaleidoscopic biodiversity of the human race. Kingdon dissents from this anti-knowlege, anti-human dogma.

One of his most interesting speculations is that modern black Africans (as opposed to the older, lighter-skinned aboriginal pygmies and bushmen) actually originated outside Africa. He believes that modern humans first originated in Africa, then spread throughout the Old World. These were probably brown rather than black in color, because most people don't need the extreme degree of sun resistance that black skin provides -- only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Everybody else has enough sense to take a siesta when the sun is high. However, one lifestyle would require tremendous sun-resistance: beachcombing. Collecting clams, fish, and other water's edge life requires being out in the sun whenever low tide occurs. Kingdon hypothesizes that around the Indian Ocean a race of beachcombers became adapted via natural selection to the sun, then returned to conquer Africa and drive the native pygmies, bushmen, and hottentots into the margins of Africa. In support, he cites the odd fact that small remant populations of very black African-looking people are found here and there many thousands of miles to the east of Africa: e.g., the "negritoes" of the Anadaman Islands (south of Calcutta), Malaysia, and the Philippines, as well as the larger blacks of Melanesia in the Pacific. There is little archaeological evidence to support this theory, but that would not be surprising since ocean levels are much higher today than during the Ice Ages. Hopefully, the Human Genome Diversity Project lead by Cavalli-Sforza will produce definitive evidence pro or con on this ingenious but currently far-from-proven notion.

Michael Levin -- Why Race Matters
3 out of 5 stars Decimates racial cant, but has little to offer in its place
October 11, 1998
One positive long term trend in intellectual life is that some philosophers are growing bored with rehashing the Western philosophical tradition for the Nth time, and are instead turning loose their powerful analytical minds on real world problems. Levin, a professor of philosophy at CCNY in Harlem, grapples with an extremely street-level issue: why do African-Americans commit violent felonies almost an order of magnitude more often than other Americans? A frequent victim of muggings by blacks himself, Levin offers a simple answer: blacks tend to be less intelligent and more impulsive. It's certainly bracing to watch Levin simply destroy the conventional wisdom on the subject. Nonetheless, it appears to me that Levin's personal experience at the hands of black muggers leaves him uninterested in trying to think of much to do about black crime. In 1930 whites outnumbered blacks in prison by 3.5 to 1. The Great Leap Forward in black crime occurred in the mid-60's. Was the cause the civil rights revolution, the increase in welfare payments, the drug wave, or what? These non-genetic questions are very relevant today, but Levin has little to say about the historical record. Whether Levin likes it or not, we're all in this together, and we're not going to get out of it without an approach that's both realistic and pro-black.
Steven Pinker -- How the Mind Works
5 out of 5 stars Enormously entertaining
June 19, 1998
Pinker is a tremendously exciting thinker with a gift for analogy and pattern recognition that rivals, say, John Updike, Camille Paglia, and Dave Barry at their best. His gift for illustrating the most abstruse workings of the mind with dead-on-the-money examples from the Godfather, or The Simpsons, or the Rolling Stones seems to annoy many (humorless and not really-as-smart-as-they-think-they-are) people no end. Too bad for them.

Another reason for the sniffy tone of many of these readers' comments is Pinker's political incorrectness. He considers the Standard Social Science Model of thinking about humanity to be a disaster for American intellectual life. ... The one weakness in Pinker's approach is that he tries to restrict the science of human nature to just how all human brains are similar. He's not as self-assured (or bigoted) about this in this book, as in his previous bestseller "The Language Instinct," but he still acts as if studying how brains differ is totally boring. Of course, he can't actually NOT study mental differences becaus similarities and differences are the warp and woof of information. If we were all the same, you couldn't get a grip on how our brains work. Thus, vast amounts of the data he uses about how (supposedly) all brains work comes from comparisons of healthy brains to stroke-victims and other tragically defective brains. Further illustrating this point, the last third of his book deals mostly with sex differences. ... Psychological research has been divided for over a century into the followers of Wundt (like Pinker), the "experimental psychologists," who emphasize how brains are alike versus the followers of Galton (like Arthur Jensen), the "differential psychologists," who emphasize how brains differ. This artificial divide is finally collapsing: see Jensen's new "The g Factor" for a detailed account of how the "differential" IQ researchers are using traditional ! "experimental" laboratory techniques like PET scans. The future belongs to the synthesists who are equally concerned with both similarities and differences. ... The problem with this, of course, is that humans tend to differ in somewhat predictable patterns. (1) It's now respectable in the harder sciences to discuss sex differences: in fact, evolutionary psychology largely consists of the study of sex differences. (2) However, the study of sexual orientation differences, especially between gay men and lesbians, who differ radically on dozens of traits remains largely off limits. (3) The great taboo, however, is the 3rd dimension of difference: race. (Note how Jensen's masterpiece has been almost utterly ignored.) ... The greatest untouched territory in the study of human nature are the fascinating correlations between sex and race. For example, a topic that psychology has yet to examine in any formal fashion is nerdishness, even though the public is fascinated by it at present (no doubt due to the rise of Bill Gates). Clearly, this is a heavily male trait. Clearly, it also differs by race with Northeast Asians being more nerdish on average than whites who tend to be more nerdish than West Africans. Just as clearly, though, African-Americans tend to be more stereotypically male in musculature and personality than whites and especially) Asian-Americans. ... The great choice confronting Pinker is whether to honestly examine race, or to limit himself to just marginally pushing the envelope of what can be politely discussed. 

 

Eugene Robinson: Coal to Cream : A Black Man's Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race

3 out of 5 stars Nicely written, important topic, but not thought through
August 6, 1999
African-American Washington Post reporter/editor Robinson recounts how he was posted to Brazil. He initially likes how in Brazil there is no sharp color line, in contrast to the U.S. where "one drop" of African blood makes you "black." However, he eventually notices that it doesn't seem to make much difference in terms of who succeeds in the country. The people at the very top are all white and at the very bottom (leaving aside the Indians) are all black, and for all those in between, where you end up in life seems to correlate fairly closely with skin color. The most notable exceptions, as in the U.S., are star black athletes and entertainers. One might think that the fact that two separate social systems generate the same racial pattern of accomplishments might spark Robinson's curiosity, but that topic is left untouched. It's a pity he was never assigned to any black-ruled African countries. That might have been more thought-provoking.

He becomes convinced that black Brazilians are being held back by their lack of racial consciousness. If they organized themselves as a racial pressure group, like African-Americans have, they could demand racial quotas (of the kind which presumably have benefited the author's career at the Washington Post).

Unfortunately, besides the usual problems caused by affirmative action, there's a specific reason why it wouldn't work well in Brazil: because the races aren't so easily distinguished there, it wouldn't be clear who "deserves" to benefit from quotas. Due to the one drop rule and social pressures against miscegenation (including lynching), there really aren't that many people in the U.S. who are mostly white but a noticeable amount black. One recent study found that self-described white people were somewhat less than 1% black.  (Most of the near-white African-Americans you can name are actresses or models, like Jennifer Beals, because long hair and other white features tend to be more in demand on women than on men.) Down through the generations in the U.S., people with any African blood have been socially discouraged from marrying whites. This has tended to mean that a mulattos' descendents seldom get whiter and normally get darker. As the line against miscegenation deteriorated in the last three decades, the number of young mostly-white American people has started to grow, but it's still small. Thus, in America you find two easily distinguishable groups: whites (who very rarely have any African blood) and "blacks" (who normally have white blood, but seldom much more than 50%). Thus, here it's not hard for bureaucrats to decide whether somebody qualifies for affirmative action or not.

In contrast, in Brazil, you have a whole bunch of people who are at least mostly white but may or may not have some black blood. Do they qualify for affirmative action? Ultimately, millions of individual decisions about who gets the special privileges would have to be made by bureaucrats. If I know anything about Brazil, bribery would be rampant. Thus, a great amount of the quotas will end up being filled by wealthier near-whites, at the expense of impoverished blacks.

J.P. Rushton -- Race, Evolution and Behavior : A Life History Perspective

5 out of 5 stars Rushton's Rule: African --> European --> East Asian
October 11, 1998
One of the most obvious features of multiethnic society in North America today is that on a host of dimensions, both physical and behavioral, people of black African descent and people of East Asian descent tend to fall at opposite ends of the spectrum, with whites tending to occupy the mediocre middle. This is clearly evident in sports, muscularity, crime, popular entertainment, technology, even interracial marriage, where 72% of black-white marriages are black husband-white wife, while 72% of white-Asian marriages are white husband-Asian wife (1990 Census).

Even though many people have noticed this pattern, Rushton deserves a huge amount of credit for putting it in print. Sadly, we live in an era whose motto seems to be "Remain oblivious to the obvious". Rushton has had to endure Orwellian persecutions for his contribution to scholarship.

Dan Seligman -- A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America

5 out of 5 stars The best introduction to the IQ controversy
June 2, 1998
While I don't agree with Seligman on everything, this is far and away the best introduction for the general reader to the enormous literature of the IQ controversy. It's superbly readable, and, amazingly enough in this age of bloated books, short.
Pierre L. Van Den Berghe -- The Ethnic Phenomenon
5 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of disillusionment: Marx meets E.O. Wilson
November 25, 1998
Van Den Berghe is a white sociologist born in the old Belgian colony of the Congo. Disgusted by white oppression of Africans, he became a fairly conventional liberal on race relations. But, as he overcame his Eurocentric focus on white crimes, he realized that race-based exploitation and violence are universal human curses. This lead him to sociobiology, and its bedrock finding: the theory of kin selection: The more genes we share with another individual, the more altruistic we are toward him. And the less kind we are toward our more distant kin.

Since there is no fundamental boundary between family, ethnic group, and race, Van Den Berghe coined the brilliant term "ethnic nepotism" to describe the human tendency to favor "our people" at the expense of others.

This is the most significant advance ever in the Marxist analysis of economic exploitation. By substituting kinship for class as the great engine of history, Van Den Berghe has invented a neo-Darwinian Marxism with enormous explanatory power and predictive power. This 1981 book's accuracy was confirmed by the subsequent breakup of the communist world into clashing ethnic groups.


Tom Wolfe -- Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers
5 out of 5 stars An pioneering study of human biodiversity in America
February 25, 1999
"Radical Chic" has become a byword, but the often overlooked "Mau-mauing the Flak Catchers" resonates more today. It's the story of how Great Society poverty programs were set up to only give out grants to "authentic" inner city groups, their "authenticity" being measured by how well they could physically intimidate the bureaucrats administering the give-aways. Wolfe's hilarious account of the different average physiques of black, Mexicans, Chinese, and Samoan protestors and the greatly differing degrees of fear they elicited in whites foretells by 3 decades "A Man in Full's" obsession with the muscle to fat ratio of each character. Mau-Mauing remains an early masterpiece in the emerging field of human biodiversity studies. Plus, it's extremely funny.

Tom Wolfe -- A Man in Full
5 out of 5 stars The Great Darwinian Novel
December 28, 1998
Wolfe is best known as the leading American chronicler of each the last three decades, but in this novel he moves deeper into the more timeless terrain of human nature. His famous 1996 Forbes ASAP essay on Edward O. Wilson demonstrated that he has been grounding himself in the latest Neo-Darwinian thinking about how differences in sex, race, and sexual orientation impact society. Like the evolutionary psychologists (e.g., Steve Pinker), he's obsessed with how reproduction leads to the sex differences that make up the bedrock of human nature. Like the students of human biodiversity (e.g., me), Wolfe's fascinated by how race differences resemble faint sex differences: for example, few serious novels have been more concerned with its characters muscle to fat ratios. This may seem superficial but it's not, since muscle and fat percentages correlate with male and female hormones, which in turn correlate with personality and behavior (e.g., aggressiveness).

Wolfe has been noticing racial differences in muscularity at least since Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers almost 30 years ago (recall Wolfe's description of how white bureaucrats fear hard-muscled black protestors, are less afraid of Mexicans, are not afraid of Chinese, and are dumb-founded by the massive Samoans), so it's not as if his recent readings in neo-Darwinism have radically altered his world-view -- instead they've merely brought organizing principles to his decades of obversations of humanity.

Icon Tom Wolfe -- Ambush at Fort Bragg
4 out of 5 stars What exactly is it that gay men do?
December 28, 1998
Wolfe's the leading chronicler of the last 40 years of the 20th Century. If you've read Wolfe's every published word, like I have, you'll find fascinating this audio tape-only fragment that is all that has survived from an early, New York-based draft of A Man in Full.

It's interesting to speculate on whether any major magazine would have published this ferocious satire. It describes how the media pushes male homosexuality without ever having the guts to describe exactly what is it that gay men do to each other. Obviously, the gay lobby is extremely strong today, and one of their chief goals is to minimize frank public discussion of what gays actually do. For example, all the enormous amount of verbiage spewed over the murder of poor Matthew Shepard avoided the obvious question of why did he agree to go off with those two thugs?

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