February 06, 2014

A few weeks later in publication date”€”Amazon.com gives May 6th”€”will come the latest from Old Etonian polymath and New York Times human-sciences reporter Nicholas Wade: A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History.

The most provocative claims in this book involve the genetic basis of human social habits. What we might call middle-class social traits”€”thrift, docility, nonviolence”€”have been slowly but surely inculcated genetically within agrarian societies, Wade argues.

I should very much like to get advance galleys of Wade’s book for review here at Taki’s Magazine, but the literary editors I’ve pleaded with tell me that publishers don’t do galleys anymore, so I must wait until they’ve got the thing bound up and ready for sale.

Wade’s book is ahead of Clark’s. Behind Clark, published last December 23, is Race and Sex Differences in Intelligence and Personality: A Tribute to Richard Lynn at Eighty. This one I have read: The publishers were kind enough to send me a copy. The book’s first chapter is a Q&A with Lynn; the other 14 chapters are essays by various scholars on topics where Lynn has done significant work.

Lynn is a cheerful Englishman with a very long career in psychometry: He graduated from Cambridge University in 1953. What is generally called the Flynn Effect“€”the overall rise in IQ scores across the 20th century”€”was earlier spotted by Lynn and is more formally called the Lynn-Flynn Effect. Later he collaborated with Finnish psychometrist Tatu Vanhanen on IQ and the Wealth of Nations.

All three of these books are very naughty indeed”€”naughtier, relative to our dominant social attitudes, than anything available in 1963 Soho. The topics they discuss are radioactive. “Discrimination is irrelevant”? “Middle-class social traits…inculcated genetically”? “Race and sex differences in intelligence and personality”? Good grief! Pass the smelling salts, Lucy.
However, as with the stock of low-end Charing Cross Road bookstores fifty years ago, the topics dealt with here are of wide, if guilty, interest. How much social mobility would there be in a perfectly meritocratic society? How has human genetics helped shape human history? Why are some nations richer and more orderly than others? Every thoughtful person has pondered these things at some point. Why not find out what has been learned by scholars who have spent their lives elbow-deep in the data? I predict good sales.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!