[Marxism] Review of A Troublesome Inheritance | American Anthropological Association

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Fri May 16 09:03:02 MDT 2014

The Times pans him too!

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:

> ======================================================================
> Rule #1: YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
> ======================================================================
> (The author of this review of Nicholas Wade's "A Troublesome Inheritance"
> is Jonathan Marks, an anthropologist who wrote brilliant take-downs of
> Napoleon Chagnon's memoir. Wade, a supremely annoying sociobiologist and NY
> Times science reporter, wrote a glowing review of the memoir. I deal with
> the Wade-Chagnon connections here: http://louisproyect.org/2013/
> 02/20/what-the-press-is-saying-about-napoleon-chagnon/)
> At the heart of A Troublesome Inheritance is a simple dissimulation. Wade
> repeatedly asserts that his interlocutors are mixing their politics with
> their science, but he isn't, for he is just promoting value-neutral,
> ideology-free science. And yet the primary sources for Wade's discussion of
> the history of human society are Francis Fukuyama and Samuel Huntington.
> One gets the impression that either Wade is lying, or he wouldn't be able
> to recognize ideology if looked him in the eye and slapped him silly.
> Wade lays out his ideas about race in Chapter 5, as a rhetorical exercise
> in selective and mis-reporting. His centerpiece is a 2002 paper, published
> in Science by a group led by Stanford geneticist Marcus Feldman, which used
> a computer program called Structure to cluster populations of the world by
> their DNA similarities. When they asked the computer to cluster peoples of
> the world into two groups, the computer gave them EurAfrica and
> Asia-Oceania-America. When they asked the computer for three groups, the
> computer gave them Europe, Africa, and Asia-Oceania-America. When they
> asked the computer for four groups, it gave them Europe, Africa,
> Asia-Oceania, and America. When they asked it for five groups, it gave them
> essentially the continents. And when it asked the computer for six, it gave
> them the continents and the Kalash people of Pakistan. (They asked the
> computer for up to seventeen clusters, but only published the results up to
> six.)
> Wade misreported these results as validating "the five races" in the New
> York Times back in 2002. In an important edited volume from 2008 (called
> "Revising Race in a Genomic Age"), Deborah Bolnick explained the
> misinterpretation of the results from Structure, and in the same book the
> senior author of that study, Marcus Feldman, also explained those results
> quite differently than Wade does. Why, then, does Wade persist in this
> genetic misreporting? Perhaps for the same reason he persists in his
> anthropological misreporting. In Chapter 6, Wade casually explains that
> among "the Yanomamo of Venezuela and Brazil, aggressive men are valued as
> defenders in the incessant warfare between villages, and those who have
> killed in battle - the unokais -- have on the average 2.5 more children
> than men who have not killed, according to the anthropologist Napoleon
> Chagnon," citing Chagnon's 1988 paper that indeed made that claim. And yet,
> although that claim has been definitively shown to be bunk - that is to
> say, not robustly derivable from the data - Wade continues to repeat it,
> most recently in the New York Times last year. There is, again, a direct
> parallel to arguing with creationists here: they have their story and they
> will stick to it, and reality just doesn't matter to them.
> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/american-anthropological-
> association/review-of-a-troublesome-i_b_5316217.html
> ________________________________________________
> Send list submissions to: Marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu
> Set your options at: http://lists.csbs.utah.edu/
> options/marxism/acpollack2%40gmail.com

More information about the Marxism mailing list