The letters column of the Sunday New York Times Book Review carried a sharp attack on Nicholas Wade’s best-selling new book A Troublesome Inheritance by several individuals, organizers of a denunciatory public statement that they had persuaded some 139 prominent genetic scientists to sign.
Although these signatories may be credible experts in their own scientific fields, their participation revealed themselves to be total laughingstocks as public intellectuals, demonstrating that they had not even bothered to read the book they were so harshly condemning.
One of their central charges against Wade was that he had claimed that worldwide differences in IQ test results were due to recent natural selection and largely caused by genetic differences. Yet as Wade has now pointed out, he had actually made exactly the opposite suggestion, noting on pp. 192-3 of his book the strong evidence that large differences in worldwide IQ may be caused by environmental factors such as wealth and education, with changes in those conditions sometimes causing relative IQ rises of 10 or 15 points within just a single generation or so.
I am well aware of his position on this controversial topic because he had cited my own 2012 article Race, IQ, and Wealth as his source for this analysis. In that long analysis and the series of a dozen or more columns that followed, I had provided the overwhelming empirical evidence against what I termed “the Strong IQ Hypothesis,” drawing primarily upon the data gathered by leading IQ advocates such as Richard Lynn.
Nicholas Wade is hardly an insignificant figure, being a longtime science editor and reporter at The New York Times and perhaps America’s foremost journalist on evolutionary matters, whose previous bestsellers have gathered almost universal praise. Therefore, I find it very odd that his most strident critics apparently have not bothered to carefully read the book they were attacking.
One might suspect that the organizers of the vilification campaign perhaps quietly feared that Wade’s views were likely correct and that reading his persuasive book might reduce their zeal in criticizing it, much like the timorous ideological opponents of Richard Lynn had for years avoiding his writings, thereby failing to notice that he had scored a game-ending own-goal against his IQ-determinist theories.
In any event, I expect that this contretemps will at least quickly generate 139 additional book sales for Wade, or at least 139 quick visits to local academic libraries by cheapskate scientists.