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Human Biodiversity

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As I pointed out in VDARE in 2002, the greatest accomplishment by an American woman sculptor is Malvina Hoffman’s spectacular Races of Mankind collection created for Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History Museum.

Now you might think that in an age constantly on the look out for female talent of the past, this would be honored. But from the late 1960s onward, Hoffman’s immense set of over 100 bronzes was broken up and intentionally insulted and denigrated by the museum for ideological reasons, for failing to bow down to the anti-human biodiversity dogmas of the late 20th Century. For example, the life-size 6’8″ Nuer Warrior bronze was displayed down in the basement utility room next to the Penny Squeezer machine.

Lately, the Field Museum has decided to treat Hoffman’s artistry a little more respectfully, but just with lots of printed labels insulting it. From the New York Times:

‘Races of Mankind’ Sculptures, Long Exiled, Return to Display at Chicago’s Field Museum

CHICAGO — For decades, the bronzes created by the artist Malvina Hoffman for the Field Museum’s “Races of Mankind” exhibit have had a ghostly afterlife at the institution. Hailed at their unveiling in 1933 as “the finest racial portraiture the world has yet seen” and viewed by millions of visitors, the sculptures were banished to storage in 1969, embarrassing relics of discredited ideas about human difference.

Some were later scattered through the museum, like the Australian aboriginal man who stood guard for a time outside a McDonald’s on the ground floor, minus his original boomerang and spear. But to curators they remained strangely compelling, if troubling, objects.

“When I first came here, I sort of fell in love with them,” Alaka Wali, an anthropologist at the museum, recalled recently. “But there was always debate about what the museum should do with them. They were problematic objects.”

Now the Field Museum has put 50 of the 104 sculptures back on display as part of “Looking at Ourselves: Rethinking the Sculptures of Malvina Hoffman,” an exhibition exploring both Hoffman’s artistry and the vexed history of the dubious scientific ideas that her talent was enlisted to serve. At the time of the bronzes’ creation, many anthropologists believed that the world’s people could be divided into distinct racial types, whose visible differences in skin tone, hair texture and bone structure explained differences in behavior.

It’s an idea, the show makes clear through wall texts and video touch-screen displays, that scientists have abandoned, though hardly one that has entirely gone away.

“It’s not as if just because scientists say race is not a biological fact, that it doesn’t continue to have an impact,” Ms. Wali, who curated the exhibition, said during a tour of the gallery. She stopped near a section discussing the legacy of scientific racism, which includes photographs of Black Lives Matter protests.

“Scientists can now show that human genetic variation doesn’t correspond to racial types,” she said. “But people don’t always listen to scientists.”

People who say that “human genetic variation doesn’t correspond to racial types” aren’t actually scientists speaking scientifically. Look, in this century, there have been a gigantic number of genome studies, and, on net, the’ve overwhelmingly bolstered the general outlook of the old physical anthropologists.

A Nuer man from Sudan and a Tamil man from southeastern India. Commissioned in the 1930s to illustrate racial types, over 100 bronzes by Hoffman were packed away in embarrassment.

Pygmy family

… It was Field who, in 1929, voted with the museum’s board to commission a group of artists to depict the world’s varied “racial types in a dignified manner.” Instead, the whole job went to Hoffman, a New York sculptor who had studied with Rodin, in what The New York Times called “probably the largest commission ever granted any sculptor,” male or female.

Hoffman traveled the world looking for models with her husband, Samuel Grimson, who took thousands of photographs and made film clips of potential subjects. Hoffman, who once studied anatomy by dissecting cadavers alongside medical students, approached the project with a meticulous realism, using different patinas to subtly suggest skin tones.

The “Races” exhibit, which opened in 1933, included both simple busts and elaborate life-size pieces showing people shooting arrows, climbing trees or posing with spears. In the center stood “Unity of Man,” showing noble figures representing what were believed to be the world’s three main racial groups shouldering the globe equally. But its overall thrust — driven home by diagrams showing different nose types and the like — was unmistakable: The world’s peoples could be arranged in a hierarchy, from the primitive to the most civilized.

About 10 million visitors viewed the exhibit over the next three decades, according to the museum, and a show of miniature reproductions traveled the country. But by the 1960s, the scientific theories behind the show had fallen into disrepute. In 1969, the exhibit was dismantled. The Field also halted publication of a “Map of Mankind” based on the exhibit, after receiving a letter from the poet Amiri Baraka (born LeRoi Jones), who denounced it as “white racist pseudo anthropology.”

If you can’t trust Amiri Baraka’s scientific expertise, who can you trust?

Science has shown today that “we share a common ancestry and the differences among people are not as great as they seem,” according to the website for “Race: Are We So Different?” — a traveling exhibition created by the American Anthropological Association.

At the Field, the few permanent exhibits that address human variation focus on cultural differences, like a wall of shoes from around the world that Ms. Wali curated in 1997.

Oh boy …

Commenter Yak-15 adds:

Last year I went to Member’s Day where I was able to see the newly constructed exhibit displaying Hoffman’s statues. While the walls were adorned with anti-hate messages, stories about racism and the KKK, the statues stick out in sharp contrast to the attempted obfuscation of their meaning. It is amazing to see in person.

It is as though the Catholic Church took the bones of Sue (the T-Rex) and made an exhibit showcasing the divine brilliance of God in constructing an elaborate hoax to test mankind’s faith in the Bible’s creationism.

Likewise, in this case, the cultural construct on display is equally beautiful and revealing. The viewer sees the clear differences in the models in all their brilliant biological diversity.

Simultaneously, he confronts the dissonant, conflicting message of the exhibit – that race does not biologically exist. As such, the display is unintentionally meta. The bronze figures are not the center of focus. Rather, it is the spate of extreme measures that arbiters of “social justice” take to defend their worldview in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary.

In this respect, it is perhaps the most brilliant work of millennial art. I hope people from 50 years will be able to see it in all its glory.

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From CBS Sports:

A Dallas FC under-15 boys squad beat the U.S. Women’s National Team in a scrimmage

The match was in preparation for Thursday’s USWNT friendly versus Russia
Roger Gonzalez
Apr 04, 2017 • 1 min read

In preparation for two upcoming friendlies against Russia, the U.S. women’s national team played the FC Dallas U-15 boys academy team on Sunday and fell 5-2, according to FC Dallas’ official website.

This friendly came as the U.S. looked to tune up before taking on Russia on Thursday night in a friendly.

Of course, this match against the academy team was very informal and should not be a major cause for alarm.

Indeed. The USA women’s team that lost 5-2 to adolescent Dallas boys then beat the Russian national women’s team 4-0.

By the way, let me repeat my suggestion that rather than try to keep alive a women’s league based on cities, instead the national women’s team should just barnstorm around America with the Russian national women’s team as their Washington Generals. Patriotic feminist sports chauvinism sells a lot better in America than city-based women’s leagues.

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I finally went to see two popular animated movies at the $3 theater: Disney’s big budget / big hit Zootopia and the medium budget / medium hit Angry Birds based on the Finnish smartphone game. Like a lot of mainstream movies these days, both are allegories about classic iSteve topics like biodiversity.

Zootopia is a cop movie set in a utopian city of talking animals where lions lie down with lambs, where predator and prey normally get along with perfect amity. It’s about a tiny girl bunny who comes to the big city to follow her dreams and be a policeman, even though everybody tells her only large animals can be cops. To solve a big case and convince the police chief, a hard-headed Cape buffalo voiced by Idris Elba, that she belongs on the force, she has to enlist the help of a handsome fox conman (Jason Bateman).

Zootopia likely started out as a satire on diversity and political correctness, but then self-emasculated itself when early research reports came back that audiences want political correctness about diversity and feel-good pap: Anybody can be anything they dream of, as long as they work out enough.

The movie is still quite decent, although it’s painful to think about how good it could have been if that much talent had been given free rein to follow their instincts without PC being given a chokehold on their creativity.

From Slate today comes an article worrying that Disney almost didn’t gut their own movie:

This Deleted Scene From Zootopia Would Have Made the Racial Allegory a Lot More Disturbing

By Aisha Harris

After months and months of vague promos, Zootopia’s arrival in theaters came as a surprise to viewers—not only was the film fun and entertaining, but it was also totally a message movie about the perils of racial profiling. And if you thought about it too hard, the racial allegory quickly began to fall apart: What’s with the discriminated-against predators also being in positions of institutional power? And why, in a movie about shutting down stereotypes, is the fox actually sneaky and the weasel really a cheater?

And why, in the scene that get the biggest laughs, are all the clerks at the Van Nuys Department of Motor Vehicles (pretty much the Van Nuys DMV I go to and where Homer Simpson’s sister-in-laws Patty and Selma work) sloths? And not stereotype-shattering sloths, but sloths who fulfill every stereotype you ever guiltily entertained about sloths and DMV clerks?

And there’s this scene that stereotypes wolves as liking to howl:

Moreover, if you watch closely, the filmmakers disclose what a Malthusian nightmare a predator-free ecosystem would be. For example, here is the rabbit heroine saying goodbye to her mother, father, and 275 siblings as she heads off to Zootopia. Watch Bunnyburrow’s population counter at 0:45:

Still, after decades of questionable and/or downright racist on-screen depictions of people of color, Disney’s attempt to address such heavy subject matter in an animated kids’ movie can be considered a valiant effort and a sign of progress.

Which is why it’s probably a good thing that a deleted scene from Zootopia that is now online didn’t make it into the final cut of the film.

This deleted scene explains the key question of why the 10% of the population who are predators don’t follow their instincts:

For starters, the tone of the scene is considerably darker than that of the lighthearted romp the movie eventually became. It depicts a ceremony, soon revealed to be a “taming party,” in which a young bear cub named Morris prepares to become a “big bear.” His father presents his eager, ecstatic son with a collar in front of a room full of equally eager and ecstatic bear cubs: “With this collar, Zootopia accepts me,” the papa bear announces, wistfully, as Morris repeats after him. There’s a tinge of sadness and hesitation as he goes to put it around Morris’ neck, and understandably so—Morris is soon given an electric shock after becoming too excited. The room gasps, and a startled Morris hugs his father tight.

The idea of animals in a kids’ movie suffering a form of ritualized corporeal punishment in order to gain acceptance by others is already pretty heavy—but it’s made even more disturbing when you consider it within the context of the film’s blatant racial allegory. The suggestion that the only way for the predators to coexist in the world of Zootopia is to “tame” them in adolescence would have brought in some icky, very colonial notions about race that such a film probably wouldn’t be able to engage with properly, to say the least. So let’s all be grateful that the top dogs at Disney made a wise decision to let this scene go.

And here’s another deleted scene, showing Jason Bateman’s male lead, a fox, having his taming collar temporarily removed by a doctor:

In other words, the predators were forced to stop preying on the prey pretty much the same way Alex is tamed in A Clockwork Orange. The idea of a huge budget talking animal knock off of the themes of A Clockwork Orange is pretty awesome.

But that explanation for why the world works the way it does was cut out of the movie because it wasn’t lame and PC enough. So in the final version of the movie, all the animals have just “evolved” to not prey on each other. Why? Just because. No cost is paid to evolve, there are no tradeoffs, no choices, nothing of interest.

To me, this lowers the stakes in the movie and makes the film quickly forgettable. Which is too bad because it has a lot going for it otherwise.

Here’s a documentary about how the creators were told by Disney suits and marketing researchers to drop the shock collars and make the movie about the evils of stereotypes:

Because audiences like Goodthink.

Angry Birds is set on a paradisiacal island where birds, lacking predators, have evolved to be flightless, much like the now extinct dodo bird of Mauritius and other birds on predator-free islands that have since been plagued, sometimes into extinction, by the arrival of human sailors, along with their pigs, dogs, and rats. Feral egg-eating pigs remain a major threat to rare birds on Hawaii.

The birds on their isolated island live in pleasant harmony with each other, caring for their eggs, taking yoga classes, and, sure enough, there’s the bird version of the Free Hugs guy from Times Square. (I told you that guy was famous.) Almost everybody is happy except for grumpy Red (voiced by Jason Sudeikis), who is an Angry Red Bird. He gets sentenced to anger management therapy.

Then a boatload of pigs arrive from an unknown island.

The naive birds, having never met pigs before, don’t listen to Red’s warning that something seems fishy about these friendly pigs.

SPOILER ALERT: The pigs steal all the birds’ eggs and take them back to their island for a feast. Red leads the now angry birds in an attack on Piggy Island, which requires the flightless birds to shoot themselves at the pig city using sling shots. The birds heroically retrieve their eggs and go back to their own island, and don’t live happily ever after with the pigs at all.

The movie is based on old fashioned 1990s Edward O. Wilson / Jared Diamond-style concern for biodiversity (here’s Diamond’s chapter in The Third Chimpanzee on the sad fate of the giant flightless birds of New Zealand after the Maori and their pigs arrived). But it seems topical today because of the Camp of the Saints floating hijrah in the Mediterranean.

It’s not bad, although it will appeal most to very small children.

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Japanese sumo wrestling has perhaps the oldest dataset of professional sports statistics in the world, going back to 1761. (English thoroughbred racing pedigree tables are of similar antiquity — I traced one Kentucky Derby entrant back to a progenitor who carried a cavalry officer in the Battle of Boyne in 1690.)

Japan was perhaps the only culture that was modernizing somewhat independently of Europe. Most of the major old civilizations of the world were in stagnation as Europe was taking off, which is one reason Europe dealt with them so easily. Isolationist Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867), though, while falling further behind Europe, was at least making progress. Developing sports statistics is obviously not a major breakthrough, but it does reflect a culture that is innovating.

A long article by Benjamin Morris in FiveThirtyEight looks at what can be found out from a German sports nerd’s website of all sumo stats since 1761.

The problem with sumo as Japan’s natural sport is human biodiversity: the sport rewards height and weight, and the Japanese just aren’t very tall and fat. The last time I checked in on sumo, 1998, giant English-speaking Polynesians like Konishiki and Akebono were starring in Japanese sumo. They’ve faded out, but nowadays, the champions in Japan are almost all Mongolians, with an occasional Eastern European:

Today, international wrestlers have taken over the sport. In January 2016, then-31-year-old Japanese ozeki Kotoshogiku won his first tournament. This might have been an unremarkable event, except that it was the first tournament won by any Japanese wrestler since January of 2006. Of the 58 tournaments in between, 56 were won by Mongolians; the other two were won by a Bulgarian (Kotooshu) and an Estonian (Baruto).

It’s a nature and nurture thing: Mongolians tend to be tall and strong, but they also come from that wrestling belt that extends along the Eurasian steppe into Eastern Europe, where many of the cultures love wrestling.

• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
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Screenshot 2016-01-26 19.01.03

Pygmy Family, Malvina Hoffman

Be honest: pygmies don’t sound as though they actually exist. Homer Simpson could have added them to his observation, “Lisa, vampires are make-believe, like elves, gremlins, and Eskimos.”

But there are quite a few of them. From the New York Times:

There are about 920,000 pygmies in central Africa, but their forest communities are fragmented and endangered by logging, mining and land clearance, according to a consortium of researchers who collaborated to create the first scientific estimate of the size of the population.

Because there is so little census data on pygmies, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where most of them live, the survey relied on techniques normally used for counting animals and plants.

The authors gathered data from 26 collaborators, including anthropologists, biologists and human rights groups.

Starting with the known locations and habits of 654 pygmy camps in five countries, the scientists mapped out grids of terrain across central Africa where similar camps could exist.

There are also populations around the Indian Ocean and southwestern Pacific that are pygmy in size, but don’t appear to be closely related genealogically to the pygmies of Africa. My impression is that these groups are much fewer in number. For example, there are 20th Century photographs of pygmy-sized people in the jungle of northeastern Australia, but nobody has seen any in recent decades.

Interestingly, the NYT still uses the term “pygmy,” which sounds like the kind of thing you aren’t supposed to say. Wikipedia explains:

The term pygmy is sometimes considered pejorative. However, there is no single term to replace it. Many prefer to be identified by their ethnicity, such as the Aka (Mbenga), Baka, Mbuti, and Twa.

The same is true for numerous other ethnic names, but that doesn’t stop them from changing names. For example, the Canadian insistence that Eskimo is a slur and must be replaced by Inuit irritates the non-Inuit Yupik Eskimos of Alaska. But perhaps this urge among white people to change the names of nonwhite peoples to embarrass and befuddle other white people is finally receding?

What seems to be strengthening is the prejudice against mentioning differences in average physique among racial groups. For example, this NYT article goes on to with four paragraphs of useful introductory information about pygmies, e.g., “Genetically, they are related to the Khoisan people of southern Africa who speak “click” languages.” But there’s no mention of their height, even though, or because, that’s what readers would likely most like to know: “Just how short are pygmies?”

• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
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Back in 2002, I wrote in VDARE:

America’s most spectacular trove of human biodiversity depictions is badly abused today. One of the most impressive American female artists remains in obscurity, in an age which dredges up forgotten women artists as role models, because of her sins against racial correctness.

Malvina Hoffman has been called “the greatest American artist you’ve never heard of” and “the American Rodin.” She studied under Auguste Rodin, the greatest sculptor since Bernini, and Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mt. Rushmore. Her style was more realistic than Rodin’s, which helped drive her out of fashion in a 20th Century art world obsessed with abstraction.

In 1930, the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago commissioned her to create 91 full size bronzes and 13 marbles depicting in exquisite detail the “The Races of Mankind.” She traveled the world to complete this most titanic sculptural project undertaken by any American woman ever.

In 1933, the Hoffman exhibit opened in the Field Museum’s spectacular custom-built “Hall of Man.” It was a major part of the Chicago World’s Fair and remained a popular institution for decades afterwards. But it was shut down in 1968 because, well, because it was 1968.

Hoffman’s collection was broken up. A quarter of it is now in Cedar Rapids. When I last visited the Field Museum in 1999, only about half the statues were on display, and many of those were pushed into dark corners, often without labels. The magnificent 6’8″ Nilotic Nuer warrior, with proportional masculine endowment, was down in the basement next to the dusty souvenir-making Mold-o-Vac and Penny Squeezer machines.

I asked a curator about this neglect. She told me the sculptures deserved to be treated with disdain because they weren’t realistic. …

But Ms. Hoffman published photos of many of her subjects in her autobiography. The only thing unrealistic about them is that Hoffman, Rodin’s pupil, no doubt made them all a little healthier, handsomer, and more heroic looking. Is that so bad?

The real reason her great accomplishment is treated with disdain is that it vividly and memorably demonstrates human biodiversity.

And that’s what the museum’s social anthropologists fear and loathe.

From tomorrow’s New York Times:

‘Races of Mankind’ Sculptures, Long Exiled, Return to Display at Chicago’s Field Museum

CHICAGO — For decades, the bronzes created by the artist Malvina Hoffman for the Field Museum’s “Races of Mankind” exhibit have had a ghostly afterlife at the institution. Hailed at their unveiling in 1933 as “the finest racial portraiture the world has yet seen” and viewed by millions of visitors, the sculptures were banished to storage in 1969, embarrassing relics of discredited ideas about human difference.

Some were later scattered through the museum, like the Australian aboriginal man who stood guard for a time outside a McDonald’s on the ground floor, minus his original boomerang and spear. But to curators they remained strangely compelling, if troubling, objects.

“When I first came here, I sort of fell in love with them,” Alaka Wali, an anthropologist at the museum, recalled recently. “But there was always debate about what the museum should do with them. They were problematic objects.”

Now the Field Museum has put 50 of the 104 sculptures back on display as part of “Looking at Ourselves: Rethinking the Sculptures of Malvina Hoffman,” an exhibition exploring both Hoffman’s artistry and the vexed history of the dubious scientific ideas that her talent was enlisted to serve. At the time of the bronzes’ creation, many anthropologists believed that the world’s people could be divided into distinct racial types, whose visible differences in skin tone, hair texture and bone structure explained differences in behavior.

It’s an idea, the show makes clear through wall texts and video touch-screen displays, that scientists have abandoned, though hardly one that has entirely gone away.

“It’s not as if just because scientists say race is not a biological fact, that it doesn’t continue to have an impact,” Ms. Wali, who curated the exhibition, said during a tour of the gallery. She stopped near a section discussing the legacy of scientific racism, which includes photographs of Black Lives Matter protests.

“Scientists can now show that human genetic variation doesn’t correspond to racial types,” she said. “But people don’t always listen to scientists.”

Especially when after 15 years of genome studies, the scientists who know what they are talking about say the exact opposite.

The new exhibition, which runs through the end of the year, was financed in part by Pamela K. Hull, a granddaughter of Stanley Field, the museum’s president from 1909 to 1964, who paid for the restoration of the bronzes.

It was Field who, in 1929, voted with the museum’s board to commission a group of artists to depict the world’s varied “racial types in a dignified manner.” Instead, the whole job went to Hoffman, a New York sculptor who had studied with Rodin, in what The New York Times called “probably the largest commission ever granted any sculptor,” male or female.

Hoffman traveled the world looking for models with her husband, Samuel Grimson, who took thousands of photographs and made film clips of potential subjects. Hoffman, who once studied anatomy by dissecting cadavers alongside medical students, approached the project with a meticulous realism, using different patinas to subtly suggest skin tones.

The “Races” exhibit, which opened in 1933, included both simple busts and elaborate life-size pieces showing people shooting arrows, climbing trees or posing with spears. In the center stood “Unity of Man,” showing noble figures representing what were believed to be the world’s three main racial groups shouldering the globe equally. But its overall thrust — driven home by diagrams showing different nose types and the like — was unmistakable: The world’s peoples could be arranged in a hierarchy, from the primitive to the most civilized.

About 10 million visitors viewed the exhibit over the next three decades, according to the museum, and a show of miniature reproductions traveled the country. But by the 1960s, the scientific theories behind the show had fallen into disrepute. In 1969, the exhibit was dismantled. The Field also halted publication of a “Map of Mankind” based on the exhibit, after receiving a letter from the poet Amiri Baraka (born LeRoi Jones), who denounced it as “white racist pseudo anthropology.”

After all, who knew more about evolution and genetics than Amiri Baraka?

Science has shown today that “we share a common ancestry and the differences among people are not as great as they seem,” according to the website for “Race: Are We So Different?” — a traveling exhibition created by the American Anthropological Association.

At the Field, the few permanent exhibits that address human variation focus on cultural differences, like a wall of shoes from around the world that Ms. Wali curated in 1997.

Now that’s exciting natural history!

… The Hawaiian man shown on a surfboard was Sargent Kahanamoku, a member of a well-known Hawaiian family (and brother of the famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku). The model for a bust of a “man from eastern China” was Dr. Hu Shih, the diplomat and scholar who helped establish the modern Chinese script.

• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
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On GoTrackTownUSA, 3 time All-American female distance runner Alexi Pappas writes:


By Alexi Pappas / TrackTown USA

EUGENE, Ore. – My family stood together in the small waiting room just outside the Oval Office, nervously smiling like a group of kids waiting their turn at the top of a waterslide. My brother Louis stood at the front of our pack, ready to walk in first – he had spent the past few years working on President Obama’s staff, and this was his last day on the job. The Oval Office door cracked open and laughter spilled out into the waiting room. The family ahead of us walked out, and there he was: the President of the United States, standing just a few feet away.

We shook his hand one by one. Louis introduced me as a professional runner from Eugene, Oregon. The President’s attention then focused directly on me. First, he told me about his visit to Hayward Field during his 2008 campaign. A wonderful place, we agreed. At that moment, Mr. Obama looked me directly in the eye. “You have a gift,” he said. “You were born with a body that was meant to run long distances, more than the average human.”

I was taken aback. Right away I knew what I wanted to say in response … but dare I risk embarrassing my brother and disagree with Mr. Obama? I started by thanking the President, and then I couldn’t help myself – I added that my performance in the sport is actually a result of hard work, motivation and support from my community.

This was not the answer the President wanted to hear.

“No, no,” he said, “Your body is able to flush out lactic acid better than the average person – running is what you were born to do.” Mr. Obama’s energy and tone were so confident and convincing that he could have told me the moon is really made out of cheese and I would have agreed with him. I nodded and thanked him. Besides, our five-minute meeting time was up. I left the Oval Office feeling very honored, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about what the President had said.

The idea that I was meant to run, that I was born with a special ability, felt like it subtracted from my own willpower and motivation to pursue something to the fullest and at the highest level.

A couple of Christmas-shopping seasons ago, the President was seen buying Sports Illustrated reporter David Epstein’s explicitly HBD book The Sports Gene. The Los Angeles Times reported:

But most of Obama’s choices lean more toward pure escapism.

“The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” by Sports illustrated writer David Epstein, tries to dispel common myths about what makes athletes great.

Personally, I think that studying sports for patterns that are revealing about humanity in general, such as the roles played by nature and nurture, isn’t pure escapism.

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Back before 1992 Olympics, Runner’s World executive editor Amby Burfoot published a cover story “White Men Can’t Run” pointing out the West African / East African distinction between who wins Olympic sprints versus distances races.

At that point, blacks of West African descent had made up all of the last 16 finalists in the Olympics men’s 100m dash, the race that determines the World’s Fastest Man. A white Scotsman had won the 100m dash at the Moscow 1980 Olympics, but in both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, all the finalists who had made it through three preliminary rounds were black.

Amazingly, that’s now true for eight straight Olympics; 64 out of the last 64 finalists have been black from 1984 through 2012. That’s one of most astounding statistics in all of human biodiversity studies.

On the other hand, a few non-blacks have had some success in the 100m in recent years. A white Frenchman became the first white man to clearly break the 10 second barrier, getting as low as 9.92 in 2011. And Japanese sprinters regularly make the Olympic semifinals, so this streak no doubt won’t last forever. This spring Bingtian Su of China became the first Asian to run 9.99.

In Beijing, at the current world championships of track & field (one tier below the Olympics), Usain Bolt of Jamaica, 2008-2012 Olympic gold medalist, edged out Justin Gatlin, the American 2004 Olympic gold medalist who was twice subsequently caught for PEDs, in a time of 9.79 to 9.80.

Of note, Bingtian Su of China pleased the home fans in the semifinal by tying his recent Asian record of 9.99. In the expanded 9-man final, he finished last at 10.06.

• Category: Race/Ethnicity, Science • Tags: Human Biodiversity, Sports 
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Track and Battlefield
Everybody knows that the “gender gap” between men and women runners in the Olympics is narrowing. Everybody is wrong.
by Steve Sailer and Dr. Stephen Seiler
Published in National Review, December 31, 1997
Everybody knows that the “gender gap” in physical performance between male and female athletes is rapidly narrowing. Moreover, in an opinion poll just before the 1996 Olympics, 66% claimed “the day is coming when top female athletes will beat top males at the highest competitive levels.” The most publicized scientific study supporting this belief appeared in Nature in 1992: “Will Women Soon Outrun Men?” Physiologists Susan Ward and Brian Whipp pointed out that since the Twenties women’s world records in running had been falling faster than men’s. Assuming these trends continued, men’s and women’s marathon records would equalize by 1998, and during the early 21st Century for the shorter races.
This is not sports trivia. Whether the gender gap in athletic performance stems from biological differences between men and women, or is simply a social construct imposed by the Male Power Structure, is highly relevant both to fundamental debates about the malleability of human nature, as well as to current political controversies such as the role of women in the military.
When everybody is so sure of something, it’s time to update the numbers. So, I began an in-depth study with my research partner, Dr. Stephen Seiler, an American sports physiologist teaching at Agder College in Norway. (Yes, we do have almost identical names, but don’t blame him for all the opinions in this article: of the two of us, I am the evil twin).
The conclusion: Although the 1998 outdoor running season isn’t even here yet, we can already discard Ward and Whipp’s forecast: women will not catch up to men in the marathon this year. The gender gap between the best marathon times remains the equivalent of the woman record holder losing by over 2.6 miles. In fact, we can now be certain that in fair competition the fastest women will never equal the fastest men at any standard length race. Why? Contrary to all expectations, the overall gender gap has been widening throughout the Nineties. While men’s times have continued to get faster, world class women are now running noticeably slower than in the Eighties. How come? It’s a fascinating tale of sex discrimination, ethnic superiority, hormones, and the fall of the Berlin Wall that reconfirms the unpopular fact that biological differences between the sexes and the races will continue to play a large, perhaps even a growing, role in human affairs.
First, though, why is running the best sport for carefully measuring changes in the gender gap? Obviously, there are different size gender gaps in different sports (and even within a sport: in basketball, for example, the gap in slam dunking is enormously greater than in free throw shooting). Indeed, women do sometimes “beat top males at the highest competitive levels” in equestrian, yachting, drag racing and a few other riding sports, as well as in some stationary events like shooting. One self-propelled sport where women arguably outperform men is ocean swimming, in which they’ve achieved amazing firsts like paddling from Alaska to Siberia. (This is a rare sport where a higher body fat percentage is a boon.) Two Olympic sports are open only to females: synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics. In America, however, both the male and the feminist sports establishments roundly ridicule these events (undeservedly in the case of rhythmic gymnastics, an enchanting exercise). Similarly, other demanding but female-dominated physical activities like dancing, aerobics, and cheerleading are seldom considered sports at all by Americans.
Thus, the current climate of opinion demands that we analyze a “major” (i.e., traditionally male) sport. In these games, however, women’s sports advocates insist on “separate but equal” competition. Separateness, however, badly hinders the equality of measurements. Since they play in what might as well be alternative universes, it’s difficult to confidently quantify, for example, precisely how much better the NBA’s Michael Jordan is than the WNBA’s Sheryl Swoopes.
Fortunately for our analytical purposes, men and women currently compete under identical conditions in ten Olympic running events, making their times directly comparable. In general, track is ideal for statistical study because it’s such a simple sport: all that matters are the times. Another advantage to focusing on running is that it’s probably the most universal sport. Track medalists in the 1996 Olympics included an Australian aborigine as well as runners from Burundi, Trinidad & Tobago, South Korea, Mozambique, Norway, and Namibia. Running is so fundamental to life and so cheap that most children on Earth compete at it enough to reveal whether they possess any talent for it.
So, Ward & Whipp were certainly correct to concentrate upon running. As they noted, the gender gap did narrow sharply up through the Eighties. Let’s focus upon those ten directly comparable races. Way back in 1970, women’s world record times averaged 21.3% higher (worse) than men’s. But during the Seventies women broke or equaled world records 79 times, compared to only 18 times by men, lowering the average gender gap in world records to 13.3%. In the Eighties, women set 47 records compared to only 23 by men, and the gender gap shrank to just 10.2%. Further narrowing seemed inevitable in the Nineties.
Yet, male runners are now pulling away from female runners. Women’s performances have collapsed, with only five record-setting efforts so far in this decade, compared to 30 by men. (The growth of the gender gap has even been accelerating. Men broke or tied records seven times in 1997, the most in any year since 1968.) The average gender gap for WR’s has increased from 10.2% to 11.0%. And since four of the five women’s “records” set in the Nineties occurred at extremely questionable Chinese meets (as we shall see later), it’s probably more accurate to say that for relatively legitimate records in the Nineties, men are ahead of women 30 to 1, and the average world record gender gap has grown from 10.2% to 11.5%.
Despite all the hype about 1996 being the “Women’s Olympics,” in the Atlanta Games’ central events — the footraces — female medalists performed worse relative to male medalists than in any Olympics since 1972. In the 1988 Games the gender gap for medalists was 10.9%, but it grew to 12.2% in 1996. Even stranger is the trend in absolute times. Track fans expect slow but steady progress; thus, nobody is surprised that male medalists became 0.5% faster from the 1988 to the 1996 Olympics. Remarkably, though, women medalists became 0.6% slower over the same period.
Why is the gender gap growing?
1. In the Longer Races. From 800m to the marathon, but especially in the 5,000m and 10,000m races, the main reason women are falling further behind men is discrimination, society forcing women to stay home and have six babies. Of course, I’m not talking about the industrialized world, but about a few polygamous, high-birth rate African nations. All 17 male distance record-settings in the Nineties belong to Kenyans (9), Ethi
opians (5), Algerians (2), or Moroccans (1). A culture can encourage all women to pursue glory in athletics or to have a half-dozen kids, but not both. Thus, Kenya’s high birth rate (not long ago it was more than five times West Germany’s) has contributed to an ever-swelling torrent of brilliant male runners, but has kept any Kenyan woman from winning Olympic gold.
Wilson Kipketer of Kenya
These facts, though, raise a disturbing question: Why is women’s distance running so debilitated by sexism in these obscure African countries? Because, as bankrobber Willie Sutton might say, that’s where the talent is. You can’t understand women’s running without comparing it to men’s running, and that has become incomprehensible unless you grasp how, as equality of opportunity has improved in men’s track, ethnic inequality of result has skyrocketed. The African tidal wave culminated on August 13, 1997 when Wilson Kipketer, a Kenyan running for Denmark, broke the great Sebastian Coe’s 800m mark, erasing the last major record held by any man not of African descent.
African superiority is now so manifest that even Burundi, a small East African hell-hole, drubbed the U.S. in the men’s distance races at our own Atlanta Games.
Yet, there are striking systematic differences between even African ethnic groups. This can best be seen by graphing each population’s bell curve for running. The Olympic events from 100 meters to the marathon run along the horizontal axis, and the percentage of the 100 best times in history go along the vertical axis. For Kenyan men, for example, a lovely bell curve appears showing which distances they are best suited for. These East Africans are outclassed in the 100m and 200m, but become competitive in the 400m, then are outstanding from 800m to 10,000m, before tailing off slightly in the marathon (42,000m). Not surprisingly, the Kenyan’s peak is in the middle of their range — the 3,000m steeplechase — where Kenyans own the 53 fastest times ever.
In contrast, for the black men of the West African Diaspora (e.g., U.S., Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, Britain, and France), only the right half of their bell curve is visible. They absolutely monopolize the 100m. Men of West African descent have broken the 10 second barrier 134 times; nobody else has ever done it. They remain almost as overwhelming in the 200m and 400m, then drop off to being merely quite competitive in the 800m. They are last sighted in the 1500m, and then are absolutely not a factor in the long distance events.
While there are the usual nature vs. nurture arguments over why African runners win so much, there is no possibility that culture alone can account for how much West African and East African runners differ in power vs. endurance. Track is ultracompetitive: Coaches test all their runners at different distances until they find their best lengths. Even in the unlikely event that Kenya’s coaches were too self-defeating to exploit their 100m talent, and Jamaica’s leadership was ignoring their 10,000m prodigies, American and European coaches and agents would swoop in and poach them. No, what’s infinitely more plausible is that both West Africans and East Africans are performing relatively close to their highly distinct biological limits.
None of this conforms to American obsessions about race. First, we dread empirical studies of human biodiversity, worrying that they will uncover the intolerable reality of racial supremacy. Is this fear realistic? Consider merely running: are West Africans generally better runners than whites? In sprints, absolutely. In distance races, absolutely not. Overall racial supremacy is nonsense; specific ethnic superiorities are a manifold reality.
Second, our crude racial categories blur over many fascinating genetic differences between, for example, groups as similar in color as West and East Africans. And even within the highlands of East Africa there are different track bell curves: Ethiopians, while almost as strong as Kenyans at 5,000m and longer, are not a factor below 3,000m. And the African dominance is not just a black thing. Moroccans and Algerians tend to be more white than black, yet they possess a bell curve similar to, if slightly less impressive than, Kenyans. Further research will uncover many more fascinating patterns: for example, Europeans appear to be consistently mediocre, achieving world class performances primarily at distances like 800m and the marathon that fall outside of the prime ranges for West Africans and Kenyans.
These ethnic patterns among male runners are crucial to understanding the causes of the growth in the gender gap, because it appears that women runners possess the same natural strengths and weaknesses as their menfolk. For example, the bell curves for men and women runners of West African descent are both equally sprint-focused. Therefore, if a nation’s women perform very differently than its men, something is peculiar. With high-birthrate African countries like Kenya and Morocco, it’s clear the social systems restrain marriage-aged women from competing. This offers hope that the distance gender gap will someday stop widening. Indeed, since the Kenyan birthrate began dropping a few years back, we have begun to see a few outstanding Kenyan women.
2. In the Shorter Races. The gender gap is widening not just because men (especially African distance runners) are running faster today, but also because women (especially East European sprinters) are now running slower.
From 1970-1989, white women from communist countries accounted for 71 of the 84 records set at 100m-1500m. In contrast, white men from communist countries accounted for exactly zero of the 23 male records. Those memorable East German frauleins alone set records 49 times in just the sprints and relays (100m-400m). This was especially bizarre because men of West African descent have utterly dominated white men in sprinting. Another oddity of that era is that communist women set only seven (and East Germans none) of the 48 female records in the 5k, 10k, and the marathon.
The crash of women’s running was br
ought about by two seemingly irrelevant events in the late Eighties: Ben Johnson got caught, and the Berlin Wall fell. At the 1988 Olympics, in the most anticipated 100m race of all time, Johnson, the surly Jamaican-Canadian sprinter who could benchpress 396 pounds, demolished Carl Lewis with a jaw-dropping world record of 9.79 seconds. Two days later Johnson was stripped of his medal and record because his urine contained steroids — muscle-building artificial male hormones. Embarrassed that it had let a man called “Benoid” by other runners (because his massively muscled body was so flooded with steroids that his eyeballs had turned yellow) become the biggest star in the sport, track officialdom finally got fairly serious about testing for steroids in 1989.
Then the Berlin Wall fell, and we learned exactly how East German coaches enabled white women to outsprint black women: by chemically masculinizing them. It turns out that masculinity — in its lowest common denominator definition of muscularity and aggressiveness — is not a social construct at all: East German biochemists simply mass-produced masculinity. Obviously, the communists weren’t the only dopers, but they were the best organized. Newsweek reported, “Under East Germany’s notorious State Plan 14.25, more than 1,000 scientists, trainers and physicians spent much of the 1980′s developing better ways to drug the nation’s athletes.” East German coaches are now finally going on trial for forcing enormous doses of steroids on uninformed teenagers. The Soviet Union, although less brilliant in the laboratory, also engaged in cheating on an impressively industrial scale.
Even today, this pattern of women’s records coming mostly from communist countries continues: four of this decade’s five female marks were set by teenagers at the Chinese National Games, where tough drug testing is politically impossible. (The 1997 Games in Shanghai were such a bacchanal of doping that all 24 women’s weightlifting records were broken, but weightlifting’s governing officials had the guts to refuse to ratify any of these absurd marks.) In contrast to the astounding accomplishments by China’s fuel-injected women, Chinese men’s performances remain mediocre. [Note: a few weeks after this was published, the Chinese Women's Swim team was disgraced at the World Championships in Australia, when a Chinese woman swimmer was caught trying to smuggle Human Growth Hormone into the country, and numerous teammates were caught by steroid testing.]
Exemplifying the differences in drug testing between the Eighties and Nineties are the contrasting fates of two Eastern European women: Jarmila Kratochvílová and Katrin Krabbe. The extremely muscular Miss Kraticholivova, described by Track & Field News as a “Mack truck,” won the 400m and the 800m at the 1983 World Championships, and her 800m record still stands. Runner Rosalyn Bryant commented, “I’m still not envious of the ‘Wonder Woman’ of Czechoslovakia. I could have chosen the same way, but I didn’t want to change my body, given to me by God, into a new shape. … Five years ago she was a normal woman. Now she is all muscles and runs World Records.” Her rival Gaby Bussmann called her, flatly, “a man.” Miss K. replied, “One day, if [Ms. Bussman] produces performances like mine, she will have to have sacrificed some of her good looks. In athletics, one has to decide how much to sacrifice. The women of the West don’t work as hard as we do.” Miss K. was never caught by the drug tests of her day.
In contrast, Katrin Krabbe, a product of the old East German training system, won the 100m and 200m at the 1991 World Championships to rave reviews. Track & Field News called her “beautiful” and “sleek,” and pointedly contrasted her to the “masculine” Miss Kraticholivova. Even before her victories, young Ms. Krabbe had signed a million dollars in modeling and product endorsement contracts. Although she couldn’t have been very heavily doped by Eighties’ standards, in 1992 she was disqualified because of tampering with her urine sample. Thus, East German women won eight medals at the 1988 Olympics, but during the 1992 and 1996 Games combined, reunited Germany’s women could garner only a single bronze.
Flo-Jo, Before (1984)
The communists were almost completely stumped at producing male champions because the benefits of a given amount of steroids are much greater for women than men. Since men average 10 times more natural testosterone than women, they need dangerously large, Ben Johnson-sized doses to make huge improvements, while women can bulk-up significantly on smaller, less-easily detected amounts. The primitive testing at the 1988 Olympics did succeed in catching Benoid; yet the female star of those Games, America’s Florence Griffith-Joyner, passed every urinalysis she ever faced. The naturally lissome Flo-Jo may have been the world’s fastest clean 200 meter woman from 1984-1987, but she kept finishing second in big races to suspiciously brawny women.
Flo-Jo, After (1988)
She then asked Ben Johnson for training advice, and emerged from a winter in the weight room looking like a Saturday morning cartoon superheroine. She made a magnificent joke out of women’s track in 1988, setting records in the 100m and 200m that few had expected to see before the middle of the 21st Century. Then, she retired before random drug testing began in 1989, having passed every drug test she ever took.
Why didn’t the East German labs synthesize successful women distance runners? Although artificial male hormones are fairly useful to distance runners (in part because they increase the will to win), sprinters get the biggest bang for their steroid buck. The shorter the race, the more it demands anaerobic power (which steroids boost), while the longer the race, the more it test
s aerobic and heat dispersal capacities.
Doping has not disappeared from track, but runners have responded to better testing by using fewer steroids, and by trying less potent but harder to detect drugs like Human Growth Hormone. These new drugs affect both sexes much more equally than Old King Steroid. The decline in steroid use has allowed the natural order to reassert itself: before steroids overwhelmed women’s track in the Seventies, black women like Wilma Rudolph and Wyomia Tyus dominated sprinting. Today, lead by young Marian Jones, who is potentially the Carl Lewis of women’s track, black women rule once more. However, white women are still much more heavily represented among the top sprinters than are white men.
This could mean that the “ethnic gap” in natural talent between West Africans and Europeans is smaller among women than men. Or, more likely, doping continues to enhance women’s times more than men’s. Thus, if testing can continue to improve faster than doping, the gender gap would tend to grow even wider.*
In conclusion, studying sports’ gender gaps offers new perspectives on a host of contemporary issues seemingly far removed from athletics, such as women in the military. Ironically, feminists in sports have successfully campaigned for the funding of thousands of sexually segregated, female-only teams, while feminists in the media and Congress have compelled the Armed Forces (outside of the defiant Marines) to sexually integrate basic training and many operating units, even including some combat teams.
Who’s right? Female college coaches have some powerful reasons for believing that coed competition would badly damage their mission of turning girls into strong, take-charge women. For example, they fear that female athletes would inevitably be sexually harassed.
Even more distracting to their mission than the unwanted sexual advances from male teammates, however, would be the wanted ones. This opinion is based on more than just lesbian jealousy: research on single sex vs. coed schools shows that teenage girls are more likely to develop into leaders in all-female groups, whereas in coed settings young females tend to compete with each other in coyly deferring to good-looking guys. Any hard-headed female basketball coach could tell you that merging her team with the school’s men’s team would simply turn two dedicated squads now focused on beating their respective opponents into one all-consuming soap opera of lust, betrayal, jealousy, and revenge. (Does this remind you of the current state of any superpower’s military?) Yet, feminists utterly forget to apply their own hard-earned wisdom to the armed forces: on the whole, deploying young women in cramped quarters alongside young fighting men does not make the women into better warriors, it make them into moms. For example, the Washington Times reports that for every year a coed warship is at sea, the Navy has to airlift out 16% of the female sailors as their pregnancies become advanced.
Reorganizing the military along the lines of the sexually segregated teams characteristic of contemporary college sports will do much both to more fully use the potential of women in uniform and to quell the endless sexual brouhahas currently bedeviling our coed military. Yet, the crucial issue remains: Should women fight? The main justification feminists give for a coed-izing the military is that lack of combat experience unfairly hampers female officers’ chances for promotion.
We can again turn for guidance to female coaches. The main reason they favor sexual apartheid on the playing fields is that in open competition males would slaughter females. It seems reasonable to conclude the same would happen on the battlefields. This may sound alarmist. After all, running’s gender gap is a rather marginal-sounding 1/8th; surely, many women are faster than the average man, and, by the same logic, many would make better soldiers.
First, though, as economists have long pointed out, competition occurs at the margins: runners don’t race against the average Joe, but against other runners. And soldiers fight other soldiers. Second, while the moderate width of track’s gender gap is representative of many simple sports that test primarily a single physical skill (the main exceptions are tests of upper body strength like shotputting, where the top men are as much as twice as strong as the top women), in free-flowing multidimensional sports like basketball where many skills must be combined, overall gender gaps tend to be so imposing that after puberty females almost never compete with males. Consider what traits help just in enabling you to dunk a basketball: height, vertical leaping ability, footspeed (to generate horizontal momentum that can be diverted into vertical liftoff), and hand size and hand strength (to dunk one-handed).
Not one of these five individual gender gaps is enormous, but they combine to create a huge difference in results: almost everybody in the NBA can dunk compared to almost nobody in the WNBA. Basketball, however, is far more than slam and jam. Throw in the need for massiveness and upper body strength in rebounding and defense, wrist strength in jumpshooting, etc., and multiply all these male advantages together, and the resulting gender gap in basketball ability is so vast that despite the WNBA’s state of the art marketing, it’s actual product resembles an all white high school boys’ game from a few decades ago.
Although the unique ease of our Gulf War victory encouraged the fantasy that technology has made fighting almost effortless, the chaos of combat will continue to demand a wide diversity of both physical aptitudes (like being able to hump a load of depleted-uranium ammunition) and mental attitudes (like the urge to kill) that interact to create a huge gender gap in fighting ability.
While in theory it might be nice if we could accommodate ambitious female officers’ need for combat experience by negotiating during wars with our enemies to set up separate all-female battles between our Amazon units and their Amazon units, this is where the analogy with sports finally breaks down: opponents in war don’t have to play by the rules … causing our women to be defeated, captured, raped, and killed. Still, if (as, in effect, so many feminists insist) female officers’ right to equal promotion opportunities requires that they be furnished with female cannon fodder, there is one proven formula for narrowing the gender gap to give our enlisted women more of a fighting chance. Feminist logic implies that just as our military once imported ex-Nazi German rocket scientists, it should now import ex-Communist German steroid pushers.
Steve Sailer is a businessman and writer. Dr. Stephen Seiler is an American sports physiologist at Norway’s Agder College. Yes, they really are different people, and, No, they haven’t yet decided which one is the evil twin. Background statistics are posted at . This is the final draft rather than the slightly shorter and slightly different one published in National Review. So blame us for anything you don’t like, not the magazine.
Updates as of 4/12/2014:
- I was trying to be optimistic about the future of women’s running in 1997, but my reference to Marion Jones, the American heroine of t
he 2000 Olympics, turned out unfortunate: she went to prison in 2005 in relation to her steroid use.
- I was naive about the explosion of new distance running records set by East Africans in the mid-1990s. In retrospect, it appears that the anti-anemia drug EPO arrived in East African distance running circles around 1995. Before then, EPO seems to have been largely restricted to some European runners.
- I updated my data analysis by nationality and race up through the 2008 Olympics here.
- Current best times in all track and field events are kept up to the moment by Peter Larsson here. Feel free to check out how much the big picture has changed statistically over the last 17 years since I wrote this article.
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Last month, psychologist James Thompson hosted a scientific conference for researchers interested in IQ and human biodiversity topics at an undisclosed location in Europe. I advised him last year to keep arrangements non-public because a somewhat similar conference a decade-and-a-half ago was broken up by a mob of anti-science fanatics.

I would have liked to have attended, but I can’t afford trips to Europe.

James has now posted a few of the abstracts of presented papers on his Psychological Comments blog.
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Human Biodiversity, IQ 
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From my book review in Taki’s Magazine:

Structured around the dismantling of the profitable notion pushed by self-help seers such as Malcolm Gladwell that 10,000 hours of monomaniacal practice is the secret of success, David Epstein’s The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance is one of the best books on human biodiversity in recent years.  

Beyond undermining Gladwellian blank-slatism, Epstein extols the sheer pleasure of noticing humanity’s variety for its own sake. On his book’s penultimate page, he writes:  

…sports will continue to provide a splendid stage for the fantastic menagerie that’s human biological diversity. Amid the pageantry of the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, make sure to look for the extremes of the human physique.…It is breathtaking to think that, in the truest genetic sense, we are all a large family, and that the paths of our ancestors have left us wonderfully distinct. 

Epstein, a Sports Illustrated reporter, builds upon the work of journalists such as Jon Entine (Taboo) and me in taking an evenhanded look at the roles of both nature and nurture.

Read the whole thing there.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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James Thompson of University College London recently wrote of J.P. Rushton, who died last week:

Phil Rushton is tough minded, and has needed to be. Scholarly enquiry often leads to surprising answers, and expounding unpopular views is no project for the faint hearted. His key achievement has been to gather together what would otherwise have been a rag tag of disparate findings and bind them into a coherent pattern of r-K evolutionary strategies. His approach is one more example of an Eysenkian gesamtkunstwerk, to which those of hereditarian persuasion seem drawn, in which an over-arching theory provides a sweet symphony that brings order to chaos. This has given the debate about behavioural differences between genetic groups a new rationale, and for that alone Rushton deserves praise. 

In terms of his approach to the data he has shown doggedness in tracking down evidence and arguing his case. His 2005 review with Jensen sets out the hereditarian case as thoroughly and forcefully as has ever been achieved, and must be considered his shared magnum opus. In the best sense of the term he has been Jensen’s bulldog, taking on all comers with dogged persistence. 

(T.H. Huxley was known as “Darwin’s bulldog.”)

Jensen and Rushton were able to draw together the main points of a complex argument and also retain the sense of challenge and flexibility as they invited their critics to grasp the gauntlet they had thrown down. By proposing to identify the 10 major fields of contention, and by rating their own progress in each of them they challenged others to reply. 

What is most notable about Rushton is his intellectual resilience. He can grasp the big picture, and can assemble evidence in its favour. He has the capacity to understand the implications of individual findings, and to track down confirmatory or dis-confirmatory consequences. He can also link together entirely disparate publication networks, such as looking at cousin marriage in Japan to illuminate group differences in America. At every stage of discovery he believes he has done enough to convince his critics, but finds that the goal posts have been moved yet again. He has had to pick his way through a maze of imprecise hypotheses, as his critics reply to his specific proposals with a general portmanteau complaint that “these effects could be due to any number of things”.  As he himself has observed, the hard-line environmentalist position is not progressive. It does not deign to specify environmental effects in any rigorous way, but tends to multiply ad hoc objections and demand standards never yet achieved in social science. It would be enough to discourage the strongest of constitutions, but despite reverses Rushton pushes on, tracking down weak arguments, studying the implications of research results so as to take them to further levels of examination,  gathering new evidence, and as a consequence leaving well-constructed cairns of evidence along the trail-ways of exploration for other researchers to follow.

A reader has dug up some 1970s pictures of Rushton with a bass guitarist’s head of hair.

Visitation will be Tuesday, funeral Wednesday in London, Ontario, Canada (not London, England, which had me momentarily confused since Rushton was a leading light of the London School descending intellectually from Darwin and Galton), Details here.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
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For Americans planning on watching on tape delay, I won’t give away who won the finals of the men’s 100m dash on the London track, but I will note who didn’t make it to the finals for the eighth consecutive Olympics, beginning with 1984: a non-black. That’s 64 men in a row of primarily black African descent.

Three non-blacks were among the 24 semifinalists striving for the eight spots in the finals:

- A Chinese fellow who then ran an unimpressive 10.28.

- A young Japanese runner, Ryota Yamagata, who failed to advance with a decent 10.10. The Japanese typically have one or two semifinalists in the Olympic 100m, although I don’t think they’ve made the finals since the Los Angeles Olympics of 1932.

- Most interestingly, an 18-year-old U.K. runner Adam Gemili, who appears to be largely a swarthy Caucasian of Middle Eastern descent, who finished third in his semifinal at 10.06, just shy of the 10.02 needed to move on.

The fastest white 100m man of all time, France’s Christophe Lemaitre, who has a personal best of 9.92, decided to pass up on the 100m in favor of concentrating on the 200m where he felt he has a better chance of medaling. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Over at West Hunter, Greg Cochran has been introducing a a fairly new and potentially important theory of the genetic origins of race differences in IQ.  It’s less a theory of evolution than of devolution. The mechanism causing effective differences, he argues, is less selection for higher IQ due to differences in the environment (e.g., winter versus tropics selecting for forethought); instead, a large driver is differential rates in random mutation leading to differences in average level of deleterious genetic load, which tend to correlate with climate warmth.


What would happen if people moved somewhere where the mutation rate was far lower? 

Their genetic load would decrease with time, assuming that they were still subject to much selection. Today, everybody has hundreds of nicked or broken genes:  selection keeps eliminating them, while mutation keeps creating them.  The suspicion is that their effect is quite large.  This hypothetical population would have fewer and fewer.  In a few thousand years, they would lose most of the variants that decrease fitness by 1% or more.

Cochran’s next post looks at some data on the rates at which random mutations creep into the reproduction process.

Too Darn Hot? 

Posted on July 14, 2012 by gcochran9 

Several recent papers  give me the impression that there is regional variation in mutational load.   One can slice this a number of ways. Dan MacArthur and company looked for mutations that knocked out genes – loss-of-function or LOF mutations.  Mutational load is the sum of all deleterious mutations – LOF mutations are a clear-cut subset of total mutational load. 

Some of the LOF mutations they are found are common, and are presumably neutral, maybe even beneficial, but most are rare and likely deleterious.  The kicker is that they found significantly more LOF mutations in their African population sample than in their European and East Asian samples – 25% higher.  That was unexpected. 

Population history (and mutation rate) determine the variation you expect to find in neutral genes, but significantly deleterious mutations should be in mutation-selection balance.  A neutral variant might easily be a million years old, but a deleterious variant will  last, on average, 1/s generations, when s is the decrease in fitness caused by that variant.  A mutation that decreases fitness by 1% should disappear in  100 generations or so, about 2500 years.  Ancient bottlenecks should not influence the frequency of such noticeably deleterious mutations. 

Another related paper, by Jacob Tenessen et al,  looked at a large set of coding genes, sequencing many times (average depth of 111x)  for high accuracy. As in in MacArthur’s paper they found that the average person carries many probably-deleterious mutations, mutations which are individually rare.  Each person carried, on average, mutations expected to change function (almost always for the worse, although usually only a little for the worse)  in 313 genes (out of the 15,585 they studied. 

They looked at African-Americans and Americans of European descent, about a thousand of each.  They saw what MacArthur’s group did: there were significantly more probably-deleterious mutations in the 80%-African population.  When they used a loose definition of functional variation, about 20% more : with a more conservative definition,  which should have a higher fraction of truly deleterious genes, about 29% more. 

…    The only simple explanation (that I can think of)  is a higher mutation rate.

One possibility is that heat tends to cause a higher mutation rate.

Henry Harpending then summed up:

Pre-term Births 

Posted on July 16, 2012 by harpend= 

The model that Greg is dancing around suggests (1) that there is variation in mutation rate dependent on temperature or something correlated with temperature, (2) higher mutation rates cause a higher genetic burden in human populations, (3) leading to IQ reduction and other minor dings

Here’s my model of this theory (which is probably pretty woozy):

Imagine, say, a factory that builds a complex product, such as a car, according to a complicated set of instructions. But, the instructions on how to build the next car are passed on via the Game of Telephone, with mistakes inevitably creeping in. Sometimes, big mistakes are made, and the resulting car is such a disaster that it can’t function at all and has to be scrapped. But, most of the individual mistakes are minor and just mean, say, that instead of delivering 268 horsepower, the engine generates 267. Over time, the Telephone Game build up mistakes until a car is completely unusable and has to be scrapped. At that point the workers go find a better car and get the instructions for that car relayed to them. So, on average, most cars don’t come off the assembly line performing at spec, but they perform well enough to make it through a test drive. 

Now imagine two factories making the same car from roughly the same overall design. One is in Nagoya and the other in Lagos. It’s so hot and humid alla the time in Nigeria, unfortunately, that the workers get distracted during their Game of Telephone and have a higher rate of errors when transmitting plans from one generation to the next. 

In the comments, commenter extraordinaire Jason Malloy writes:

See these posts from February and April for the conceptual background. 

While not fully or explicitly articulated, this is the first New Big Theory of race differences in quite a while, and an interesting alternative to the reigning sociobiological models available since the 1980s. In the latter models intelligence and reproductive differences are seen as consequences of natural selection in divergent latitudes, but this new model replaces natural selection with accumulated mutational burdens. The differences at lower latitudes are not selectively advantageous, but dysfunctional. 

Dr. C
ochran notes that complex adaptive systems, involving the functioning of many genes, should be the most vulnerable to genetic load, so this would obviously be the brain and probably reproductive physiology. So in addition to higher general mortality, dysfunctions associated with mutational burdens might include: 

- Lower intelligence
- Higher retardation
- Higher mental illness 

- Lower birthweight
- Higher premature births
- Higher infertility
- Higher reproductive deformities
- Higher miscarriage (and general obstetric complications)
- Lower sperm quality 

Of course there is a difference between establishing population differences in genetic load, and proving that this is related to population differences in socially valued traits. I’m not sold on this as a replacement for sociobiological models, although there are aspects that make it useful and attractive in different ways. For example, I recently found that ethnic differences in rate of homosexuality are inversely correlated with latitude. Since theories of selectively advantageous homosexuality fall flat, this theory seemed like a better fit.

In the comments to Henry’s post, I offer a couple of tentative criticisms, which you can read there.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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At West Hunter, Gregory Cochran writes about the distinction between extremely deleterious genetic mutations that frequently kill people before they pass on their bad gene (e.g., Huntington’s Disease) and mildly detrimental mutations that reduce Darwinian fitness in the range of 1 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter are more common because they can build up over the generations before they keep an individual from reproduciing.

… So… most  genetic load in humans is made up of many, many  mutations that each have fairly small effects.  A smaller fraction of the genetic load consists of mutations with big effects on fitness. 

… One important point is that a single highly deleterious mutation has a good chance of pushing the whole organism in some odd direction in phenotype space.  In other words, the same mutation that drops your IQ, or damages your heart, may also make you look funny.  At lower IQs, more and more kids are considered to suffer from ‘organic’ retardation.  On the other hand, a higher-than-average number of small-effect mutations should also interfere with really complex systems such as the brain (and reduce IQ), but because of the law of large numbers, wouldn’t tend to have any particular direction in phenotype space.  As far as I can tell, an extra-large dose of small-effect mutations, which we will henceforth call genetic noise, would not make you funny-looking.

Would the converse be true? Would good-looking but not very bright people also tend to have more genetic noise, as well, just in different places

Individuals can vary in the amount of genetic noise they carry, and populations can as well, depending on the relative intensity of selection and on the mutation rate, which might also differ.  For example, although having an unusually old father does not much affect the amount of genetic  noise an individual carries, a culture in which fathers were typically 55 would undoubtedly accumulate an unusually high amount of genetic noise, over a couple of millennia. 

If a kid’s parents have a higher-than-average amount of genetic noise, on average the kid will as well. This sure looks like what we usually call non-organic or familial retardation. 

Most of the within-population variation in IQ looks to be familial rather than organic.  If I’m right, this means that most IQ variation – what we might call the normal range – is caused by differences in the number of slightly deleterious mutations.  None of them would show up in a QTL search, because all are rare. And that is where we stand thus far:  no  intelligence QTLs have been found – although you never know what you’ll see in the next population.  On the other hand, shared chromosomal segments would mostly contain the same slightly deleterious mutations,  and so IQ should correlate with genetic similarity, which is what Visscher has found.

So, think of models for the genetics of IQ like horsepower in cars. In one model, a lot of people get the engine designed for 200 horsepower, some get the engine designed for 400 horsepower,  and some get the engine designed for 100 horsepower. Occasionally, something very bad happens in the manufacturing process or the maintenance process (e.g., Down’s Syndrome) and people get an engine that only delivers 50 horsepower. 

Cochran’s new model is at the other end of the spectrum: Most people get engines designed for 300 horsepower, but there are a whole lot of minor glitches in the manufacturing process (some because the blueprints have had accumulating errors creep into them in copying until they get thrown out, some de novo). So, most people get a mental engine somewhere in the 100 to 300 horsepower range, typically falling out in a bell curve. 

But what about the 400 horsepower people known to history?

Many great scientists and mathematicians have likely had relatively low levels of genetic noise combined with some fairly deleterious de novo mutations; with the net effect of a powerful mental engine strangely focused on some particular topic not directly related to fitness.  Low noise, high weirdness.   Math, not sheilas. One might look for advanced paternal age in such cases.

Read the whole thing there. There’s one phrase in it that hints at the next stage of his theory, but I’ll leave it at that.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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I frequently post excerpts from serious articles that sound as if I wrote them as parodies. But here’s a terrific section from a New York Times article Australia’s Changing View of the Dingo by James Gorman and Christine Kenneally that hits on about a half dozen or more iSteve golden oldie themes in a row. This stuff is just plain interesting. You have to work hard to convince yourself you aren’t interested in the human equivalents of these topics. And that just makes you boring and dull-witted.

Dingoes are generally classified as a subspecies of wolf, Canis lupus dingo, although in the past they have been classified as a subspecies of dog and as a separate species. 

As a long-time critic of both thinking of human racial groups as “subspecies” and of proclaiming that Race Does Not Exist because of the problems with the subspecies concept  I’m always on the lookout for news of scientists being befuddled about how to classify other animals, especially ones as well-known to us as canines.

Linnaeus did a tremendous job of classifying plants and animals into useful, reasonable categories, but the categories are for our convenience. I’ve argued that what people are most interested in about other people are not their Linnaean classification, but who their relatives are. Thus, a racial group is an extended family that has more coherence and continuity than run of the mill extended families because it is inbred to some degree.

By way of analogy, think about a very expensive type of animal for whom we know the entire genealogy going back scores of generations: the thoroughbred racehorse. The color of the coat is of little interest to buyers and bettors. They don’t need to classify bays and grays separately because they know the actual genealogy of every horse: e.g., Seabiscuit was the grandson of Man o’ War while his archrival War Admiral was the son of Man o’ War and therefore Seabiscuit’s uncle.

Now, we don’t know the genealogy of individual dingos, so we study how they look, how they behave, any archaeological record, and their DNA to figure out how to classify them for important purposes of our own, such as Australia’s equivalent of the Endangered Species Act. But, scientists still wind up arguing over how to classify them because classifications are something we impose for our own purposes. The only thing that inevitably exists is genealogy: father, mother, child.

Physically, they resemble a generic, medium-size dog, about 40 pounds, usually tan-colored, with pricked ears and a bushy tail. 

If you let dogs mate randomly, as in much of the Third World, that’s typically about what you wind up with. The dingo is distinctive looking in some ways, but in general looks like the Indian pariah dog of the streets. A 2004 DNA study said dingos were more closely related to Chinese dogs, but both seem pretty close to the Default Dog.

The rest of this excerpt is equally interesting.

They do not have some of the physical signs of domestication found in many dog breeds, like barking as adults. They breed once a year, like wolves, and when undisturbed they have a stable pack structure topped by one male-female pair, the only ones in the pack that reproduce. 

Bradley Smith, a research associate in public health at Flinders University in Adelaide who has studied dingoes, said by e-mail that experimental tests put dingoes closer to wolves in the kind of intelligence they display. “Both dingoes and wolves, being highly effective predators, are great at problem solving, working well in groups, and independent problem solving,” he said. 

But they also understand humans in a way that wolves do not. They get it when a person points at something, while wolves are clueless or supremely uninterested. Dingoes are not as good as dogs, however, at following a human’s gaze. 

Dingoes, Dr. Smith wrote, “seem to be a prime example of one of the first types of ‘dogs’. Not domestic dogs as we know them now, but some form of early dog that made it easier for the human-canid relationship to develop. You could almost say dingoes are frozen in time — as they have made a very good home in Australia and have been isolated for many thousands of years.” 

Dingoes came to Australia 3,500 to 5,000 years ago, probably with Asian seafarers, and already at least partly domesticated. At the time, people had been on Australia for almost 50,000 years, without dogs. The dingo quickly became an essential part of Aboriginal life and stories. 

Deborah Rose, a professor at Macquarie University in Sydney who has done research with Aboriginal peoples and is the author of “Dingo Makes Us Human,” said the dingoes were a deep part of Aboriginal life. “The dingoes had names, they had kinship classifications, which makes them so unlike all other animals in Australia,” she said. “They had a place at the campfire.” Or even closer. The phrase “three-dog night” has been attributed to indigenous Australians as a way of describing how cold it was. However, it does not seem that Aborigines bred dingoes selectively.

Wikipedia has a less well-written but even more extensive article on dingoes and all the controversies involving their racial purity that are a big deal in Australia for legal and other reasons.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Today’s conventional wisdom that Science has proved that race does not exist (and all the more or less comic variants on that) seems to my recollection to have reached a crescendo in the single year, 2000, when there was a vast amount of hype over the Human Genome Project. For leaders of the vastly well-funded undertaking, as well as their political overseers such as Bill Clinton, it was seen as essential to put the right racial spin on DNA research.

For example, below are excerpts from a big New York Times article by Natalie Angier from 2000, “Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows.”

That was hardly the worst Race Does Not Exist article from 2000, but, still, this is pretty embarrassing to read a dozen years later in an era when Henry Louis Gates is ready to roll with his 3rd reality series on PBS later this month, in which he has celebrities get their DNA tested and then springs on them the results of what their racial admixture is.

The irony, of course, is the that the rapid development of the gene sequencing technology celebrated in 2000′s orgy of Race Does Not Exist pronouncements, immediately began undermining the dogma in its moment of greatest triumph.

Still, very few people notice the contradiction between this dogma about what Science Says that they absorbed in 2000 and have held ever since versus all the scientific discoveries of the last 12 year. For example, reporter Nicholas Wade of the New York Times published dozens of the articles over the next decade systematically dismantling Angier’s article, but almost nobody noticed. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on, especially when the lie ties into the status system. 

August 22, 2000 

Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows 


Scientists say that while it may be easy to tell at a glance whether a person is Asian, African or Caucasian, the differences dissolve when one looks beyond surface features and scans the human genome for DNA hallmarks of “race.” 

The Science of Differences
If racial labels have “little or no biological meaning,” what is the best way to address racial differences, politically or scientifically? 

In these glossy, lightweight days of an election year, it seems, they can’t build metaphorical tents big or fast enough for every politician who wants to pitch one up and invite the multicultural folds to “Come on under!” The feel-good message that both parties seek to convey is: regardless of race or creed, we really ARE all kin beneath the skin. 

Yet whatever the calculated quality of this new politics of inclusion, its sentiment accords firmly with scientists’ growing knowledge of the profound genetic fraternity that binds together human beings of the most seemingly disparate origins. 

Scientists have long suspected that the racial categories recognized by society are not reflected on the genetic level. 

But the more closely that researchers examine the human genome — the complement of genetic material encased in the heart of almost every cell of the body — the more most of them are convinced that the standard labels used to distinguish people by “race” have little or no biological meaning. 

They say that while it may seem easy to tell at a glance whether a person is Caucasian, African or Asian, the ease dissolves when one probes beneath surface characteristics and scans the genome for DNA hallmarks of “race.” 

As it turns out, scientists say, the human species is so evolutionarily young, and its migratory patterns so wide, restless and rococo, that it has simply not had a chance to divide itself into separate biological groups or “races” in any but the most superficial ways. 

“Race is a social concept, not a scientific one,” said Dr. J. Craig Venter, head of the Celera Genomics Corporation in Rockville, Md. “We all evolved in the last 100,000 years from the same small number of tribes that migrated out of Africa and colonized the world.” 

Dr. Venter and scientists at the National Institutes of Health recently announced that they had put together a draft of the entire sequence of the human genome, and the researchers had unanimously declared, there is only one race — the human race. 

Dr. Venter and other researchers say that those traits most commonly used to distinguish one race from another, like skin and eye color, or the width of the nose, are traits controlled by a relatively few number of genes, and thus have been able to change rapidly in response to extreme environmental pressures during the short course of Homo sapiens history. 

And so equatorial populations evolved dark skin, presumably to protect against ultraviolet radiation, while people in northern latitudes evolved pale skin, the better to produce vitamin D from pale sunlight. 

“If you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent,” said Dr.
Harold P. Freeman, the chief executive, president and director of surgery at North General Hospital in Manhattan, who has studied the issue of biology and race. “This is a very, very minimal reflection of your genetic makeup.” … 

By contrast with the tiny number of genes that make some people dark-skinned and doe-eyed, and others as pale as napkins, scientists say that traits like intelligence, artistic talent and social skills are likely to be shaped by thousands, if not tens of thousands, of the 80,000 or so genes in the human genome, all working in complex combinatorial fashion.
The possibility of such gene networks shifting their interrelationships wholesale in the course of humanity’s brief foray across the globe, and being skewed in significant ways according to “race” is “a bogus idea,” said Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti, a geneticist at Case Western University in Cleveland. 

… Dr. Eric S. Lander, a genome expert at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., admits that, because research on the human genome has just begun, he cannot deliver a definitive, knockout punch to those who would argue that significant racial differences must be reflected somewhere in human DNA and will be found once researchers get serious about looking for them. But as Dr. Lander sees it, the proponents of such racial divides are the ones with the tough case to defend. 

“There’s no scientific evidence to support substantial differences between groups,” he said, “and the tremendous burden of proof goes to anyone who wants to assert those differences.”
Although research into the structure and sequence of the human genome is in its infancy, geneticists have pieced together a rough outline of human genomic history, variously called the “Out of Africa” or “Evolutionary Eve” hypothesis. 

By this theory, modern Homo sapiens originated in Africa 200,000 to 100,000 years ago, at which point a relatively small nu
mber of them, maybe 10,000 or so, began migrating into the Middle East, Europe, Asia and across the Bering land mass into the Americas. As they traveled, they seem to have completely or largely displaced archaic humans already living in the various continents, either through calculated acts of genocide, or simply outreproducing them into extinction. 

Since the African emigrations began, a mere 7,000 generations have passed.

A mere 7,000 generations?

And because the founding population of émigrés was small, it could only take so much genetic variation with it. 

As a result of that combination — a limited founder population and a short time since dispersal — humans are strikingly homogeneous, differing from one another only once in a thousand subunits of the genome. 

“We are a small population grown large in the blink of an eye,” Dr. Lander said.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Chuck at Occidentalist assembles a bunch of test reports, here and here. It’s not as well-studied of a subject as it is in the U.S., so it’s hard to make sense of all the data, but most point toward the white-black gap in the U.K. being well under a standard deviation.

I haven’t seen a good meta-analyses by a British researcher who knows the ins and outs of all these acronyms like GCSE. (For example, a few years ago a British researcher slipped up on writing about regional differences in performance on the SAT in the U.S. because he didn’t know that only the most ambitious students in the Midwest take the SAT instead of the ACT — so what pitfalls await American kibbitzers among British test scores?) But most of the data seems to suggest a smaller cognitive and/or achievement gap in the U.K. than in the U.S.

It has been apparent for some time now (see this post at Racial Reality) that in Britain, the lads are not all right. In the U.S., we’ve become familiar with gender gaps on school achievement tests favoring black and Hispanic girls over their brothers, but we see less of this among whites and Asians. This is among the better evidence that culture — fear of being put down by your co-ethnics for Acting White, etc. — is depressing NAM performance. 
On a lot of tests, in Britain, there’s even a bigger gender gap favoring the distaff side, but it seems to go across all ethnicities, even Chinese. We see weird things like girls whose parents are from Africa outscoring white boys and maybe even East Asian boys on some tests. 
As I pointed out in a couple of articles in 2005, class is the big divide in Britain rather than race. “Class” is a 1500-year-long project to civilize the Conan the Barbarian warlords who inundated the Roman Empire to act like “gentlemen.” By the late 20th Century, all that politeness, all that studying, all that self-discipline, was striking young males of the lower classes as pretty gay. Thus, chavism. 
In contrast, there isn’t all that much of an oppositional culture among blacks in Britain, since assimilating into the white working class isn’t terribly hard: You like ‘aving a pint while watching footie on the telly, too? The proportion of mixed race children appears much larger than in the U.S. As historian David Starkey pointed out during the English looting last summer, that blacks were in the lead, but whites were right behind in the looting — something you don’t see in the U.S much at all.
Moreover, blacks in Britain are of immigrant origin: West Indian and African, with the Africans doing better on tests, typically. Some not insignificant fraction of Africans in Britain were brain-drained from Anglophone ex-colonies to work in National Health as nurses and doctors. In the U.S., West Indians and African immigrants tend to outperform native blacks. The Bell Curve found that in the NLSY79 longitudinal study, blacks who were immigrants or the children of immigrants outscored native African-Americans by an average of 5 IQ points. 
But, those are just a few speculations. It’s an interesting question that, as far as I know, hasn’t been studied terribly systematically.

Update: lots of good stuff in the comments from people who know more about what they are talking about when it comes to Britain than I know.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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Chuck at Occidentalist has been blogging up a storm lately of statistical analyses on various interesting questions. He vents:

What really frustrates me is Lazy HBD. There are dozens of public use data sets waiting to be explored from a HBD perspective. Statistical packages can be downloaded for free. All sorts of HBDish questions can be addressed: Do 2nd generation Blacks do worse on cognitive tests than 3rd+ generation Blacks? Do mixed White and Asians outperform Whites? What is the standardized difference between first, second, and third generation Hispanics controlling for SES? Does color correlate with IQ in the Hispanic population? Does color correlate with crime in the Black population? But it seems that few are interested. I don’t get it.

I’d get right on it, but I have to take a nap first. 
Seriously, there truly is a huge amount of data out there. Various longitudinal studies have been going on for decades that follow thousands of individuals throughout their lives. The 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth is the most famous because Herrnstein and Murray made it the centerpiece of The Bell Curve. But there are many other ones. 
Of course, it’s a lot of work to do it right, as Chuck’s wrestle through multiple blog posts with the old question of whether light-skinned blacks score higher on IQ tests than do dark-skinned blacks. Richard E. Nisbett argued that the lack of a correlation falsifies the theory that racial gaps in IQ are partly genetic. But the answer Chuck came up with appears to be ultimately yes there is a correlation, although it’s not enormous. But as Chuck’s work showed, there are a fair number of wrinkles that must be dealt with. 
Meanwhile, Inductivist looks at the Add Health questionnaire data to see if respondents overrate their own intelligence versus their scores on the survey’s vocabulary tests:

First, people do have a tendency to rate their intelligence correctly–self-described intelligence is positively correlated with measured IQ–but the tendency is only moderate. Next, males are not more likely than females to inflate their smarts. By contrast, blacks are significantly more likely to–compared to whites. The other racial/ethnics groups do not differ from whites. 

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
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Gregory Cochran writes in 2012 Edge question series on “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?”

Germs Cause Disease 

The germ theory of disease has been very successful, particularly if you care about practical payoffs, like staying alive. It explains how disease can rapidly spread to large numbers of people (exponential growth), why there are so many different diseases (distinct pathogen species), and why some kind of contact (sometimes indirect) is required for disease transmission. 

In modern language, most disease syndromes turn out to be caused by tiny self-replicating machines whose genetic interests are not closely aligned with ours. 

In fact, germ theory has been so successful that it almost seems uninteresting. …

A huge amount of money has been devoted to searching for the genetic causes of slow-acting diseases because with the development of genome sequencing we have a very handy lamppost to search for our keys under. Looking for germs that might cause slow diseases has not been a priority because nobody has much of a plan for how to do it.

This isn’t a terribly bad strategy. It’s like when I’m playing golf and I slice my teeshot toward a tangle of head-high thornbushes. I might go look for my ball on the next fairway to the right: maybe the ball happened to bounce through all the thorns an on to the short grass of the wrong fairway. That probably didn’t happen, but if it did, well, I can find my ball a lot more easily than if it’s in the thorn bushes. But, when my ball doesn’t turn up sitting pretty on the next fairway over, I try not to be disappointed.

Similarly, with big diseases, the balls aren’t sitting up on the short grass where it would be easy to find them. The 21st Century hasn’t seen a lot of cases of common diseases being caused by common gene variants, just as Cochran predicted back in the 20th Century. But few are thinking about how to wade into the thorn bushes to look for them.

It is still worth studying—not just to fight the next plague, but also because it has been a major factor in human history and human evolution. You can’t really understand Cortez without smallpox or Keats without tuberculosis. The past is another country—don’t drink the water. 

It may well explain patterns that we aren’t even supposed to see, let alone understand. For example, human intelligence was, until very recently, ineffective at addressing problems causing by microparasites, as William McNeill pointed out in Plagues and Peoples. Those invisible enemies played a major role in determining human biological fitness—more so in some places than others. Consider the implications.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Human Biodiversity 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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