Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Some sources/influences on my previous post, and my thinking in general, are listed below. I'm not recommending that everyone run off and buy all of these books, but they might pique your curiosity. Of course, to the extent one has time, it's always good to read and re-read the classic h-bd/evolutionary psychology writers such as Herrnstein & Murray, Sailer, Pinker, Dawkins, Dennet, and E.O. Wilson.
I consider all of these works, as those of Murray, Sailer, Pinker, Plomin et. al. to be good examples of what George Orwell called "the empirical habit of thought," which I believe is critical to understanding human diversity and defeating what Godless Capitalist termed the "Death Star 2.0" [see comments] version of PC. In fact, all the books below except (perhaps) for the textbook Multivariate Data Analysis make what are at least crypto pro-hbd statements. As an aside, one problem with crimethinking is that it tends to be decentralized and hard to find, much less to unite and make use of. Thus, I think it is useful to "think outside the box" in terms of finding pro h-bd works and thinkers.
Descartes' Error--Antonio Damasio
Spiritual Evolution--George Vaillant
The Wisdom of the Ego--George Vaillant
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Revisited--George Vaillant
What You Can Change and What you Can't--Martin E.P. Seligman
Multivariate Data Analysis--Hair et. al.
Comment: O'Brien in 1984 spookily reminds me of Richard Lewontin and his disturbing capacity for doublethink and goodthinkfulness (i.e. willingness to swallow and propagate orthodoxy in the face of well-known facts, such as Lewontin's denying race and genetic influences on behavior in spite of his rather extensive knowledge of genetics and population genetics in particular). Lewontin strikes me as the kind of person who, if he were in power, would force people to be "re-educated" for speaking of the biological basis for human behavior, while unknown to the public, promoting the study of pharmacology, gene therapies, and genetic engineering as tools to increase his power and the power his pseudo-socialist State. In fact, the potential usefulness of biotechnology as a mind control tool is the one thing that makes me have some misgivings about it (though I am still very much in favor of the advancement of biotech).
Monday, October 08, 2007
Saturday, April 07, 2007
That seems to be the conclusion of a recent review of Nick Wade's Before the Dawn published in Nature Genetics:
My reluctance to recommend the book stems also from Wade's discussions of 'race' and biology. I agree with Wade that there is something biological about racial categories. In my opinion, although racial identity is socially negotiated, people use physical traits as cues when 'assigning' a racial identity to themselves or another individual. Racial categorization isn't blind to biology. ... Although one might detect biological differences between races, any highlighting of the racial categories (just a subset of groups with biological correlates) has social costs, according to recent social science research. On the other hand, Neil Risch, cited often in the book, has argued that there are significant (medical) costs of ignoring the relationship between racial categories and biology. I suggest that these different costs be weighed in each circumstance where one might link 'race' and genetics. Wade's broad description of races as clearly delineated biological entities is unjustified in the context of a book about human history intended for a general audience. Why use the term 'race', when 'geographic ancestry' or 'continental origin' are more accurate and less costly in social terms, especially since Wade's definition of 'race' is "continent of origin"? I suggest acknowledging the correlation between racial labels and continents of origin, and saving the term 'race' for contexts in which social costs are outweighed by other costs.
This is not the argument I expected to follow the sentence "My reluctance to recommend the book stems also from Wade's discussions of 'race' and biology." In this case, the author isn't being snide by putting race in quotes, as she really means the word race rather than its referent. How often do scholars write that consternation over race is largely related to extra-scientific concerns?
However, I have to criticize this argument, at least to the extent that I'm able to examine the evidence presented. A footnote to the "recent social science research" showing that using the word 'race' is harmful (but that cryptic synonyms are OK) would be appreciated, as this forms the basis of the argument against discussing 'race'. Is it only harmful to discuss 'race' and 'genetics' or 'biology'? Is the attribution of racial differences to environmental/cultural causes not similarly harmful? Is it really true, as is implied, that Wade is morally obliged to substitute most instances of "race" in his text with "continent of origin"?
There's a lot to commend in this review, largely stemming from the reviewers' honesty and directness, and especially in contrast with this hatchet job published in the sister journal Nature.
Update - full text:
Given the rich content of Nicholas Wade's latest book, Before the Dawn, I wish I could simply recommend the book, describe its highlights and stop there. Wade provides a valuable overview of the last ten years of scientific literature on genetic insights into the history of our species. He is an excellent storyteller, weaving the scientific results into a thrilling tale of human migration and settlement, competition and warfare, cultural and linguistic evolution and environmental challenges. The history of our species is a fascinating one, and Wade brings it to life.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
I like to buy technical books, and generally I use Abebooks.com, and cross-reference with Amazon, Froogle and MySimon. One thing I've noticed (especially Abebooks and Froogle) is that some overseas sellers are dirt cheap. But, being overseas I'm generally reluctant to purchase because I wonder about the hassles if something gets messed up in the chain of delivery. When I mean "overseas," I'm talking India or Argentina, not Britain (where the books aren't than much cheaper, if at all, especially taking into account shipping). Any experiences to relate?