A good, evenhanded summary of the candor-and-realism point of view is now available from The Ulster Institute for Social Research. It is a little (142 pages) handbook titled Race and Equality: The Nature of the Debate by John Harvey, a retired British scholar. Very calmly and without any polemic, Harvey lays out what is known and unknown about the topics in his title. I can’t improve on the brief summary Harvey gives in his introduction:
In Chapter 1 our starting point is the concept of human equality, since this underlies so much social and political discussion.…Chapter 2 looks at genetic influences on the species as a whole, and on the behavior of individuals. It also considers what is meant by the differences between groups. Chapter 3 includes an introduction to the processes of evolution and examines the evidence for racial variation in species other than man. Chapter 4 is concerned specifically with human evolution over its tens of thousands of years.…Chapter 5 considers medicine and race, and the rapidly expanding use of DNA analysis in genealogy.…Chapter 6 looks at a selection of modern studies reporting on human racial variation. Chapter 7 suggests three underlying processes which may help to explain racial behavior, and Chapter 8 shows how the concept of race can provide students of human affairs with a powerful explanatory tool.…
It is, as I said, a handbook, going briskly through all the main points of interest: twin studies, genetic bottlenecks, “market-dominant minorities,” and so on.
If I have a quibble, it is that Harvey should have given the Lewontin Fallacy a good kick as he passed through his material. One still hears this fallacy from ignorant or willfully deceptive people, though it is very easily demolished. Harvey could have also given a thumbnail description of the Fixation Index, which isn’t that hard to understand. Henry Harpending does it with only a few nifty diagrams.
That’s only me quibbling, though. Race and Equality is a good contribution to the possibility of a rational discussion of this—for Americans—unavoidable issue, a blessed contrast to the girlish flushing and shrieking, the moral posturing and indignant denouncing, the staged temper tantrums and willful illogic of what passes for conversation about race in our society today.
John Harvey’s book won’t be of much interest to a Japanese person or an Icelander. Then again, they can afford not to be interested in race.
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