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the Human Biodiversity Reading Club: I Thought I...
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The
Human Biodiversity Reading Club: I thought I would start to
periodically list important articles and books I’m reading in order to
generate discussion about them. Andrew Sullivan’s been doing this for a
few weeks and is making rather a lot of money off the little kickback
that Amazon gives you for touting books. Good for Andrew. It’s
one of the best ideas yet for making money off personal web journalism.

I’m going to start off, however, with
something free, a 7-page article called "In
Our Genes
," which proposes a "model system for
understanding the relationship between genetic variation and human
cultural diversity
." A rather interesting and important topic,
no?

It’s by two friends of mine, Henry
Harpending of the U. of Utah, who is a rare combination of mathematical
geneticist and field anthropologist (inventor of the important Dad
vs. Cad
distinction), and by Greg Cochran, the brilliant rocket
scientist
turned evolutionary theorist. The title is a pointed
rejoinder to Not in our Genes, the famous anti-sociobiological
tract by the neo-Lysenkoist scientists Richard Lewontin, Steve
Rose, and Leon Kamin, although it’s also an attack on the evolutionary
psychology party line
handed down by John Tooby and Leda Cosmides,
which Steve Pinker enthusiastically summed up as "differences
between individuals are so boring!"
(I’ve since managed
to persuade Steve that differences between individuals are a tiny bit
interesting.)

Harpending and Cochran’s paper starts off
rather technically but it soon turns into a wild ride through some of
the biggest questions out there about humanity.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)