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on 30 May 1999
Rushton's Race, Evolution, and Behavior is one of the finest books I have read. He documents the race differences clearly and with many citations that lend to credibility. Furthermore, he provides a beautiful theory on why the races differ that doesn't ignore human evolution, but embraces it. Rushton's book is the only one that I have read that not only documents race differences, but explains why the differences exist even when people have tried to ignore them and/or eliminate them.
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on 30 October 1998
The meticulous research and careful. logical argument make this a fascinating and informative book. It covers a subject that is full of misinformation and political axes. Rushton avoids both.
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on 10 December 1998
The p.c. crowd brays about the importance of acknowledging the difference between peoples but when shown one they turnaround in a nice bit of Orwellian "doublethink" and deny the difference if it doesn't advance their social agenda. This book will cause that crowd to hit the roof. They will accuse Rushton of "sterotyping" (as if statistical measurement is a bad thing!)and "deplore" his findings. Of course, deploring is a normative exercise, not an empirical one, so such objections to this work are irrevelant. If the p.c. crowd wants to find data that obviate Rushton's conclusions they should get to work. But then again if they were successful in proving Rushton wrong there would not be any "differences" for them to celebrate!
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on 2 September 1999
This books makes me really understand reality. I recommend it wholeheartily to anyone who accepts the scientific truth of evolution. This book explains everything that is important about being human, It is one of the achievements of the century, and a great honor to the human species.
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on 30 October 1998
The meticulous research and careful. logical argument make this a fascinating and informative book. It covers a subject that is full of misinformation and political axes. Rushton avoids both.
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on 1 January 2013
The theory that blacks are innately less intelligent than other races has been described as the most controversial and incendiary theory in psychology, if not in all science. Philippe Rushton has seen to it that this can no longer be said to be the case. He has done so by developing a theory that proposes that persons of sub-Saharan African ancestry are, on average, not only innately less intelligent than whites and Asians, but also innately more predisposed to criminality and promiscuity. A theory more out of sync with the prevailing zeitgeist could hardly be envisaged.

Given the nature of his thesis, it is hardly surprising that the majority of reviewers seem to have evaluated Rushton's theory on political rather than scientific terms. In doing so, they have polarised. The majority condemn the work as pseudo-science. A smaller minority (although a minority obviously over-represented among reviewers because it is those of this particular political persuasion who are drawn to a work such as this) take the other extreme, hailing its author as a new Galileo and his persecutors as a part of a new Inquisition. Few reviewers seem willing to treat Rushton's thesis with disinterested and objective detachment, namely the proper scientific outlook to which to aspire when approaching any topic, no matter how emotive.

Many attacks on Rushton's work claim that he is motivated by racism or a desire to justify racial oppression. As I am not qualified as a mind-reader, it is not possible to for me to determine Rushton's motivations. However, both in his work and in person, Rushton does at least a passable imitation of a scientist striving towards disinterested objectivity and truth. The same cannot be said for many of his critics, whose critiques often reek of what Bernard Davies termed the 'moralistic fallacy' (Davies 1978).

On the other hand, Rushton does seem to be a person who relishes controversy. It is surely no accident that the only two theories which he claims fame for having originated, what he calls 'Differential K Theory' and 'Genetic Similarity Theory', both of which are presented in the current work, are both capable of being used to justify racism - and, indeed, have been used openly in this manner, albeit not by Rushton himself.

At any rate, whatever the underlying motivations of both Rushton and his many critics, their views deserve to be assessed on their substantive merits rather than by reference to an armchair psychoanalysis purporting to determine the ideology or beliefs that may or may not have motivated them. In short, whether or not Rushton is motivated by racism in positing his theory has no bearing on whether that theory is true.

My own opinion, as will become clear, is that both these theories - 'Differential K Theory' and 'Genetic Similarity Theory', both of which are presented in the work which forms the subject of the current review - are fundamentally theoretically flawed.

Genetic Similarity Theory

In chapter four of the work currently under review, Rushton introduces the second most controversial theory for which he is known, namely 'Genetic Similarity Theory'. Most reviews have ignored this theory, perhaps because its presentation is limited to a single chapter.

Although it touches on similarly sensitive issues of race and biology, this theory is conceptually entirely separate from 'Differential K Theory', the theory with which most of the rest of the book is concerned. It is perfectly consistent to accept one of these theories yet reject the other. Each therefore deserves to be assessed separately and in its own right.

In essence, Genetic Similarity Theory claims that the more genetically similar two individuals are, the more they are innately predisposed to preferentially affiliate and cooperate with one another. The theory is an extrapolation of WD Hamilton's theory (1964a, b) of inclusive fitness (often referred to as 'kin selection').

Unfortunately, as Linda Mealey pointed out in several critiques directed at Rushton and this theory (Mealey 1985; 1989), it is appears to rest on a simplified misunderstanding of kin selection - at least according to the orthodox 'Dawkinsian' interpretation of kin selection (Dawkins 1979; cf. On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration).

Inclusive fitness theory suggests that individuals will behave altruistically to biological relatives, even at a cost to themselves, because relatives are likely to share genes with one another by virtue of their common descent. More precisely, according to 'Hamilton's rule', an individual will behave altruistically by aiding the reproductive success of a third-party at a cost to his own reproductive success only where the cost to him is outweighed by the benefit to the third-party multiplied by the coefficient of relatedness between the two parties (i.e. how closely related they are).

However, genes predisposing a person to behave altruistically towards genetically-similar individuals who are not biologically related to them would not evolve through kin selection. This is because, although a person judged to be genetically similar to oneself on the basis of externally detectable characteristics (for example hair or skin colour) may indeed share many genes in common with oneself (namely the genes coding for these traits), if these genes are not shared by virtue of common descent (i.e. biological relatedness or kinship), they are no more likely to share the separate genes coding for the altruistic behaviour itself. Therefore, the genes coding for altruism would not promote their own survival and propagation by coding for altruism towards genetically-similar but non-related others.

Assessing genetic similarity in others can, however, function as a mechanism of Kin Recognition (i.e. recognising kin for the purposes of deciding whom to be altruistic towards). This mechanism is referred to as 'phenotypic matching'. However, this is conceptually separate, uncontroversial and not original to Rushton.

The only exception to this is what Dawkins refers to as the 'Green Beard Effect', which Rushton refers to on p72, whereby it is hypothetically posited that a gene would be promoted by natural selection if it predisposed an individual to have both a green beard and a tendency to behave altruistically towards other individuals with green beards. However, it is widely regarded as implausible that a single gene could code for both these characteristics. And, even if it were possible, the population would be vulnerable to invasion by a gene coding for the green beard but not for the altruism, which would benefit from the altruism without incurring the cost of reciprocation.

Another problem with the Genetic Similar Theory is that kin selection concerns only altruism and says nothing per se about the preferential affiliation. Contrary to Rushton's theory, there is no reason, for example, that individuals should preferentially seek to mate with genetically similar others, as Rushton suggests (p75-80). On the contrary, taken to an extreme, this could result in maladaptive inbreeding depression and resulting offspring homozygous for recessive alleles and hence of low fitness.

It is therefore notable that even Rushton's co-formulators of the theory and erstwhile collaborators (Rushton, Russell & Wells 1984) have subsequently had second thoughts regarding its usefulness, at least in regard to explaining mating patterns (Russell and Wells 1994).

As for Rushton's belief that 'genetic similarly theory' can explain conflict between racial and ethnic groups (p85-88; see also Rushton 2005), it is doubtful if the benefit conferred by altruistic acts would ever be sufficient to satisfy Hamilton's Rule given the only very distant biological relatedness of large ethnic groups which characterize much of the modern world (Brigandt 2001).

Instead, ethnocentrism may reflect a misfiring of psychological mechanisms that evolved in the context of the small kin-based groups in which humans spent most of their evolutionary history (Tooby and Cosmides 1989). Alternatively, Richard Dawkins has suggested that racism may reflect a misfiring of kin-recognition mechanisms relying on physical resemblance to assess relatedness (Selfish Gene: p100).

For an earlier but more sophisticated attempt to explain racial and ethnic conflict in terms of Hamiltonian inclusive fitness theory (i.e. kin selection) see Pierre Van Den Berghe's The Ethnic Phenomenon.

r/K Selection Theory

I now move on to the theory which takes up of the bulk of the book and which is chiefly responsible for the book and its author's infamy, namely that which he refers to as 'Differential K Theory'. This is based on the ecological concept of r/K selection theory, whereby it is posited that species vary on a continuum focussing, at one end of the spectrum, on maximising quantity of offspring at the expense of parental investment ('r selection'), and, at the other, on the converse ('K selection').

Rushton posits that, although humans are all at the extreme K end of the spectrum, individuals of sub-Saharan African ancestry are less so, whereas individuals of 'Mongoloid' extraction are more so, with Caucasians intermediate but closer to Mongoloids. He amasses a data on a whole suit of life-history traits on which the races appear to differ, on which Caucasians are usually intermediate between Mongoloids and sub-Saharan Africans and which seem superficially to fit this theory.

There are three problems with Rushton's application of r/K selection theory:

1) Most ecologists have abandoned r/K selection theory as obsolete;

2) There is no theoretical ground for supposing that African populations have been any less subject to K-selection than any other human groups and at least two reasons for supposing the precise converse;

3) There is no obvious connection between many traits that Rushton describes (e.g. criminality, penis-size, intelligence) and r/K selection.

The first thing that needs to be said regarding r/K selection theory is that modern ecology has generally, if not wholly abandoned the theory, at least largely moved beyond it to more sophisticated theories of life-history tradeoffs. However, Rushton's application of the theory is especially problematic. In fact, a mainstream interpretation of r/K selection theory would suggest that Europeans and Asians would be more r-selected and Africans more K-selected, the precise reverse of Rushton's theory.

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, K-selection is associated with stable environments, whereas r-selection is associated with variable environments. Whereas tropical climates such as are found in Africa, where blacks evolved, have relatively stable climates all year round, climate in Eurasia, where Europeans and Asians evolved, varies seasonally.

Rushton responds to this objection by arguing that it is the predictability of variations rather than the variation itself that is the key factor and, although variable, artic conditions vary in a predictable manner, with cold winters and warmer summers occurring with regularity on a yearly basis (p249). In contrast, variations in tropical zones are supposedly less predictable.

However, this seems to be contrary to the orthodox interpretation of r/K selection theory. Moreover, whether conditions are less predicable in Africa is questionable. For example, famines and drought appear to be not significantly more common in Africa than they are elsewhere (Miller 1993: p666-7). Neither is it clear that variability would produce r selection in a species such as humans (Miller 1993).

However, there is a second reason one would expect Europeans and Asians to be more r-selected which Rushton does not address - namely, the fact that, whereas K selection is associated with populations that have already grown to the carrying capacity of the environment, r-selection is associated the colonisation of new habitats, where fast reproductive rates are advantageous.

Yet, according to the 'out-of-Africa' theory of modern human origins (which Rushton accepts: p217-228), anatomically-modern humans first evolved in Africa, before subsequently migrating to populate the rest of the world. This would suggest that r-selection would be stronger in the more recently colonised areas (i.e. Eurasia - not to mention the Americas, Australia etc), whereas K selection would be stronger in Africa, where humans first evolved. Yet this is virtually the exact opposite of Rushton's own theory.

It is notable that even researchers who accept at face-value Rushton's controversial claims regarding both race differences in psychology, physiology and behaviour and the innate basis for these differences do not universally accept Rushton's theoretical explanation for these patterns. Indeed, what is, in my view, the most comprehensive and coherent theoretical critique of Rushton's theory is that of Edward Miller (1993), a fellow 'race realist' who accepts most of the race differences uncovered by Rushton as real and innate in origin.

Moreover, in a subsequent paper, Miller develops an alternative theory of the evolution of many of the life-history traits identified by Rushton. According to his theory, most of the race differences identified by Rushton can be explained more parsimoniously by reference to the higher levels of parental investment, especially male parental investment, required to successfully raise children in colder climates found outside of tropical Africa (Miller 1994).

Rushton (Rushton and Ankney 1993) has responded to Miller by arguing that the latter's theory is not really an alternative but is rather compatible with and incorporated into his own theory. However, this merely begs the question of what relying on the concepts of r and K selection theory really adds to the explanation provided by Miller, other than reliance on a problematic concept (namely, r/K selection theory) itself increasingly abandoned by modern ecologists. The principle of Occam's razor dictates that Miller's theory is preferred because it seems to more parsimoniously account for all the data Rushton presents.

Quite apart from these general problems with the applicability of r/K selection theory to human racial variation, it is not altogether clear how some of the traits on which Rushton focuses relate to the r/K continuum. I will consider a few of the more problematic characteristics that Rushton tries to relate to r/K selection.


Even Rushton acknowledges that, in respect of body size, the characteristics of the 'three principle races' are the precise converse of what his theory would predict (p215-6). r/K selection theory suggests that more K selected organisms, benefiting from greater parental investment per offspring, should be larger, whereas r selected organisms should be smaller.

But East Asians, the most K selected population according to Rushton, are in fact smaller in stature than individuals of most other races. On the other hand, Pygmies apart, black people seem to be, as fans of NBA basketball will attest, if anything slightly taller on average than even most whites (at least when living in First World economies and hence not suffering from the sort of malnourishment still widespread in much of sub-Saharan Africa).


More importantly, although it is a major component of his theory, there does not appear to be any obvious reason why high levels of intelligence should be associated with K selection - although admittedly there does appear to be some association between the two traits across taxa (p200-207) and some theorists have linked intelligence to K selection (p199). Yet the question remains, why should investing heavily in a few offspring necessarily require more intelligence than producing lots of offspring?


There seems no obvious reason why criminality is associated with r selection and Rushton fails to spell out any reason for such an assocation. Moreover, I am unaware of any studies suggesting an association between criminal-like behaviour (e.g. aggression, intra-specific predation) and r selection in non-human species.

Perhaps it could be argued that high levels investment in offspring (i.e. K selection) and, in particular, care for dependent infants requires enhanced levels of empathy and conscientiousness, traits that also, as a by-product, reduce those criminal behaviours that require either lack of empathy or poor impulse control.

However, Miller (1994: at p234) contends that it is K selection that is associated with intra-specific aggression because it is individuals from K-selected species who are competing for limited resources in populations at or near the carrying capacity of their environment. In contrast, he quotes from James Gould (Ethology: The Mechanisms and Evolution of Behavior: p367) who observes that "among r-selected species, on the other hand, fighting would be a waste of their most precious commodity: time".

Penis Size

Another trait which Rushton presupposes is associated by r/K selection is penis size (p166-169). Rushton's pronouncements on this issue have aroused particular attention in the media where he is widely quoted as suggesting that there exists a direct trade-off between brain and penis-size.

In his defence, Rushton's theory does not appear to be quite as preposterous as that. However, Rushton never does spell out precisely why penis size is in any way related to r/K selection.

One suggestion developed by Rushton's fellow 'race realist' Richard Lynn (Lynn, In Press) is that racial differences in penis size may reflect differences in levels of polyandry (female promiscuity). Differences in levels of polyandry may then themselves be explained by differences in levels of r and K selection.

This draws on the theory that the human penis has evolved as a sperm displacement device (Human Sperm Competition: 170-174; see also Gallup et al 2003; Gallup and Burch 2004; Goetz et al 2005). On this view, a larger penis functions to remove the sperm deposited by rival males by functioning as a suction piston. Therefore, races characterised by higher levels of polyandry will have been subjected to selection for larger penises.

Alternatively, differences in genital size might be a by-product of differing levels of sex hormones that themselves result from r/K selection (Lynn 1990).

However, contrary to Rushton and Lynn, a strong case can actually be made that brain size and penis size are actually positively rather than negatively correlated.

Larger brains require larger heads which, in turn, require larger vaginas to enable women to successfully give birth to large-headed infants. This, in turn, selects for larger penises so as to fill the vagina.

In support of this theory, it is notable that humans have, among primates, both the largest brains and the largest penises (Human Sperm Competition: Copulation, Masturbation and Infidelity: p167).

The problem in each case is that Rushton never explicitly addresses the issue of why any of these characteristics are related to r/K selection. Instead, he simply ploughs ahead with presenting his copious data on race differences with respect to the characteristic in question, simply presupposing that the relationship between the characteristic and r/K selection is self-evident and not in need of explanation. Only in Chapter Ten, entitled 'Life History Theory', does he offer a rather generalized discussion of r/K selection theory, without unfortunately bothering to relate it to all the specific traits in respect of which he has provided data in the preceding chapters.

Climate and Intelligence

Drawing on the work of among others Richard Lynn (see Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis), Rushton claims that, in contrast to tropical areas, "colonising temperate and cold environments leads to increased cognitive demands to solve the problems of gathering food and gaining shelter and general survival in cold winters" (p228) because plant food is available only seasonally, hunting is more difficult because of the lack of cover in which in hide, and individuals must develop technologies such as clothing, fire and shelter so as to keep warm.

This seems plausible but hardly compelling. The usual charge levels at evolutionary explanations for human behaviours - namely that they represent, in the language of Stephen Jay Gould, 'just-so stories' - for once seems to have some merit.

After all, surely an equally strong case could be made that living in tropical environments imposes greater cognitive demands. For example, surviving the excessive cold in cold environments may be no more difficult than protecting oneself from excessive heat and the damaging effect of excessive exposure to sunlight in tropical climes.

For example, Rushton contends, "hunting in the open grasslands of northern Europe was more difficult than hunting in the in the woodlands of the tropics and subtropics where there is plenty of cover for hunters to hide in" (p228). However, if hunting is indeed facilitated by greater availability of cover in which to hide, then this presumably assists predators in hunting humans just as much as it helps humans themselves hunt their own prey - and there is no obvious reason why avoiding the increased risk of being eaten by predators in tropical zones should not put just as much of a premium on intelligence as the greater difficulty catching prey in temperate zones.

Moreover, if it were indeed the case that conditions in Africa and other tropical zones were more propitious and favourable given the greater year round availability of plant foods (p228), then, according to basic Darwinian (and Malthusian) principles, the thriving population would multiply until such a point as it reaches the carrying capacity of this environment at which point the environment would no longer be so favourable given the excess of competing organisms.

Therefore, given that populations expand to reach their carrying capacity, differences in the availability of resources such as food are unlikely to be a driving factor behind the evolution of intelligence or other traits. In contrast, rather than focussing on ecological factors in driving the evolution of human intelligence, modern researchers have looked instead to social factors such as an ability to out-compete rival members of their own species rather than to successfully feed on other species (i.e. Macachiavellian Intelligence). In support of this theory, Robin Dunbar has famously demonstrated the existence of a positive correlation between brain size and group size across the primate order.

At any rate, a critical test case of this theory of the influence of climate on intelligence is provided by the Inuit people (Eskimos). They have certainly been subjected to harsh winters and therefore, according to Rushton's theory, should have high levels of intelligence. However, Inuits do not evidence the high IQ which Rushton's theory would predict.

On the contrary, according to the data presented by Richard Lynn (himself incidentally an enthusiastic supporter of Rushton's theory, and proponent of his own similar theory regarding the influence of climate on behaviour), the Inuit IQ is only 91 (Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis: p250-252, p212) - high for a foraging group, but well below that of Europeans and East Asians. This is despite the fact that they are classified as 'Mongoloid' under Rushton's rather simplistic racial taxonomy and, moreover, according to further data cited by Lynn, have larger brains than any other racial group (Ibid.: p153, p212), a factor also viewed as important by Rushton.

Rushton's Data

My discussion has focussed on the theory with which Rushton attempts to explain the data he reports. A brief comment is in order regarding the reliability of the data itself. Race differences in IQ have been far more intensively studied than the other race differences which Rushton reports, such as rates of criminality, monozygotic twinning and sexual behaviour and morphology. The data on penis size is even more unreliable given the sensitivity of the subject, the intimate nature of the measurements required and hence the lack of serious scientific studies on the topic.

Furthermore, even with regard to IQ differences, the difference between blacks and whites (especially blacks and whites in the US) has been far more intensively studied than that between whites and Asians. The latter disparity is both smaller in magnitude and less consistent. Indeed, the higher IQ attributed to 'Mongoloids' actually seems to be limited to East Asians. South-East Asians, also 'Mongoloid' in Rushton's terminology, actually score slightly lower in IQ than do Europeans, as do Native Americans, who Rushton also classifies as 'Mongoloid' for some purposes, namely when the data is consistent with his theory (especially during Chapter Seven, when discussing rates of maturation and personality). This can be taken perhaps to reflect, again, the gross over-simplicity of Rushton's crude tripartite racial taxonomy.

Furthermore, it is only in respect the black-white intelligence gap that there is substantial evidence bearing on the issue of whether these differences are mediated by environmental differences or genetic differences, such as trans-racial adoption studies and studies of racial admixture. Even here the findings conflict and are open to interpretation (contrast: Rushton & Jensen 2005; Nisbett 2005).

In short, not only is the theoretical framework by which Rushton seeks to explain the race differences he claims to document fundamentally flawed, but also the race differences themselves are often far from conclusively established, and, where they are established, are not conclusively established as being genetic rather than environmental in origin.


Research on the possible biological basis for race differences in psychology, behaviour and cognition ought not to be deemed outside the bounds of acceptable debate. Such research is both a legitimate scientific endeavour and potentially valuable given the potential social consequences (at the aggregate statistical level) of any such differences uncovered.

Unfortunately, however, Rushton's work fails to provide a coherent and plausible theoretical explanation for the race differences he purports to uncover. It is, however, a legitimate, if flawed, scientific work and deserves scholarly critique rather than the persecution of its author. It is only by allowing the free discussion of ideas, even ideas currently perceived as controversial and offensive (and even ideas that turn out to be wrong!) that knowledge and science - and by extension humanity - can progress.

In short, even if Galileo had turned out to be wrong about the sun and the earth, burning him at the stake would have remained more wrong still.


Brigandt, I. (2001). The homeopathy of kin selection: an evaluation of van den Berghe's sociobiological approach to ethnicity. Politics and the Life Sciences 20:203-215.

Davis BD (1978). "The moralistic fallacy". Nature 272(5652):390

Dawkins R (1979) `Twelve misunderstandings of kin selection' Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 51(2): 184-200

Gallup, G. G., & Burch, R. L. (2004). Semen displacement as a sperm competition strategy in humans. Evolutionary Psychology 2:12-23.

Goetz, A.T., Shackelford, T.K., Weekes-Shackelford, V.A., Euler, H.A. Hoier, S., Schmitt, D.P., & LaMunyon, C.W. (2005) Mate retention, semen displacement, and human sperm competition: a preliminary investigation of tactics to prevent and correct female infidelity. Personality and Individual Differences 38:749-763

Goetz, A.T., Shackelford, T.K., Platek, S.M., Starratt, V.G., & McKibbin, W.F. (2007) Sperm Competition in Humans: Implications for Male Sexual Psychology, Physiology, Anatomy, and Behavior. Annual Review of Sex Research 18:1

Hamilton, W. (1964a). "The genetical evolution of social behaviour. I". Journal of Theoretical Biology 7(1):1-16.

Hamilton, W. (1964b). "The genetical evolution of social behaviour. II". Journal of Theoretical Biology 7(1):17-52

Lynn R (1990) `Testosterone and gonadotropin levels and r/K reproductive strategies' Psychological Reports 67(3):1203-1206

Lynn R (In Press) `Rushton's r-K life history theory of race differences in penis length and circumference examined in 113 populations' Personality and Individual Differences

Mealey, L. (1985). Letter to the Editor: Comment on Rushton, Russell, and Wells' "Genetic Similarity Theory". Behavior Genetics 15(6):571-574.

Mealey, L. (1989). Letter to the Editor: A Comment on Rushton and Nicholson. Ethology and Sociobiology 10(4):309-310.

Miller (1993) Could r selection account for the African personality and life-cycle? Personality and Individual Differences 15(6):665

Miller, E. (1994). Paternal provisioning versus mate seeking in human populations, Personality and Individual Differences, 17:227-255.

Nisbett, R. E. (2005). Heredity, environment, and race differences in IQ: A commentary on Rushton and Jensen (2005). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11:302-310.

Rushton, J. P. (2005). Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary psychology, and genetic similarity theory. Nations and Nationalism, 11:489-507.

Rushton, J. P., & Ankney, C. D. (1993). The evolutionary selection of human races: A response to Miller. Personality and Individual Differences, 15:677-680.

Rushton, J. P., & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty years of research on race differences in cognitive ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11:235-294.

Rushton, JP, Russell, RJH, & Wells, PA (1984) Genetic similarity theory: Beyond kin selection Behavior Genetics 14(3):179-193

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Tooby, J. & Cosmides, L. (1989) Kin selection, genic selection and information dependent strategies. Behavioral & Brain Sciences 12(3):542-544
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on 8 September 2010
Highly recommended (and - maybe I shouldn't say this - an abbreviated version is downloadable; it appears to be a fifth or less than the unabridged version). I have a few doubts:--

[1] Geographical and biological: Is Africa benign, or dangerous? The climate is more manageable than the colder northern climates. But it's not only man that likes it - there are snakes, insects, parasites, poisonous and spiny plants, predatory animals that make books on African diseases horrific. Large parts have soil (as does Australia) that isn't much use for growing things - laterite, full of iron oxide. Does Africa encourage fast breeding with little parenting? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Much of the world is something like pure accident: some areas have dates, or rice, or crops able to be bred as maize, or wheat. Some seemed to have no staple. Some have clean springs of water; others presumably don't. Some have edible animals. Some have timber suited for building. Some have good soil. Some have specific raw materials: gold, copper, naphtha as in 'Greek fire'; some don't - I believe Australian soil is low in molybdenum. Some have earthquakes. Some have everyday aspects which have long-term risks. There must have been a huge element of luck in human development.

Because of the way inventions depend on other inventions, and because science is so recent, empiricism must have had a tremendous effect throughout human evolution. Fire, metal alloys, plants suited to make fabrics, ropes, easily-cut stone... pottery, knives, symbolic writing ... gunpowder, shipping.. This for example glass was unknown in China for centuries. Science was invented by a few westerners and this depended to some extent on inventions: lenses, weights and measures. It's easy to imagine the amazement of aborigines in Australia on entering a wooden sailing ship.

Another important distinction is defensibility: Europe is exceptional in having territories marked off by mountains, seas, snow barriers - to this day countries are identifiable by these geographical markers. But other areas are trackless and unbounded and vast - prairies, steppes, jungles. Any area unable to defend itself is at risk: imagine mediaeval London magically moved to Timbuktu or Turkey.

I'm just making the perhaps obvious point that environments have a vast effect. If China had had a calm inland sea like the Mediterranean, maybe they'd have colonised the world. If nobody had happened to find that urine could be used to make potassium nitrate, perhaps gunpowder would never have been discovered. It's as well to be cautious in speculation.

[2] Rushton considers blacks, orientals (these are 'yellow' - rather than Indian), and whites. As far as I can see, he doesn't face another taboo, of 'semites'. They appear to be completely omitted. Kevin MacDonald has filled this gap on analogous lines to Rushton, though his work is more ideas-based than biological. MacDonald's work is an important reminder of the importance of 'memes'. Rushton has an r-strategy, and K-strategy. MacDonald adds in- and out-group strategies for internal competition.

[3] Inheritance is a digital matter, but Rushton doesn't (I think) look at the cases where some characteristic definitely does, or doesn't, exist in an individual. For example, the ability to make enzymes that digest alcohol or milk. He concentrates on gross effects, which of course may be the sum of many genes. One has to assume that (e.g.) genetic tendency to violence can't be mental, but must be a function of hormones and musculature and quickness of irritability; reasonably enough, Rushton doesn't go into detail. However it's as well to be aware that the actual mechanisms are not known or not well understood, so this allows a loophole for environmentalists to criticise.

[4] AIDS. It's fairly well-known this is a mistake. (If you prefer, a fraud). Discount all this material!

Well-worth reading. Much of it in fact has a familiar, if remote, ring to it; surely you've heard it before? You have, and it's been censored or buried or evaded. Revise your outlook, therefore! It's too important to ignore.
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on 22 February 2015
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on 10 July 2015
“Race, Evolution and Behavior: A life History Perspective,” by Professor J. Philippe Rushton, is an excellent introduction to race realism. Race realism is the belief that race is an important biological classification of the human species, that the races differ significantly in average ability levels and behavior, and that these differences have been caused by different evolutionary pressures lasting for hundreds and thousands of years.

Professor Rushton’s descriptions of racial differences are well documented, and obvious to anyone who has given the matter ample reading and observation. Unfortunately, his explanation of how these differences evolved is not completely satisfactory.

Professor Rushton points out that Orientals tend to be more intelligent than whites, who tend to be more intelligent than Negroes. Negroes have higher rates of crime and illegitimacy than whites, who have higher rates than Orientals. These differences are found throughout the world, even when whites or Orientals are poor.

Professor Rushton gets into trouble when he maintains that these differences are genetic, rather than the results of social conditioning. And he has gotten into trouble. Although he had tenure at the University of Western Ontario, efforts were made to fire him. The American Association of Physical Anthropologists revoked his membership in 2000.

Nevertheless, those who maintain that racial differences are environmental need to point to an environment in which the same differences do not recur. They can’t.

But do races even exist? Haven’t our betters told us that race is only a social construct? Well, yes they have. Now on most issues I think that the consensus of the experts is more likely to be right than wrong. Unfortunately, on the subject of innate racial differences the consensus has been coerced. We can see this in the persecution suffered by Professor Rushton, and those of like mind, such as Professor Arthur Jensen of Berkeley. Professor Jensen received death threats, and at times required police protection for explaining in an essay published in 1969 in the Harvard Educational Review why programs like No Child Left Behind were likely to fail. No Child Left Behind has failed. Professor Jensen’s persecutors have not apologized. Neither have those who persecuted Professor Rushton.

The assertion “Race is only a social construct,” is an example of the circular reasoning fallacy. In circular reasoning one assumes what one needs to prove. In this case “race” is defined as “a social construct.” Definitions are not scientific facts. They are social constructs.

For decades forensic scientists have been able to identify a person’s race by the person’s skeleton. Now, DNA testing makes it possible, not only to identify a person’s race, but specific countries where the person’s ancestors came from.

One does not need to read Race, Evolution and Behavior in order to learn that in the United States blacks have a rate of violent crime that is over seven times the white rate, a rate of illegitimacy that is nearly three times the white rate, and that there is a persistent race gap in academic performance and mental aptitude test scores. Evidence of this can be found on the internet with a few key strokes and clicks of the mouse.

Those who blame the persistence of black dysfunction on “systemic racism” need to explain why black rates of crime and illegitimacy have risen since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed, while black academic performance has hardly improved at all, despite expensive efforts to improve them.

The only flaw in Race, Evolution and Behavor is that it does not present a completely plausible explanation of how racial differences evolved. Professor Rushton argues that the split between Negroes and everyone else happened about 100,000 years ago. DNA evidence indicates a more recent time, perhaps 60,000 years ago.

Moreover, Professor Rushton argues that living in cold climates is what caused whites and Orientals to evolve higher IQ’s and lower rates of crime and illegitimacy. There is certainly, some truth to that. Frigid winters require people to make thick clothing, and buildings that can be kept warm. Farmers need to save for the future, so that they will have enough food to survive through the winter.

Nevertheless, Neanderthals survived in Europe for several hundred thousand years through three ice ages. Remains of their campsites, as well as the shape of their brains indicate that they were significantly less intelligent than the Cro Magnons who displaced them. Those Cro Magnons were descendants of modern humans who had much more recently left Africa.

For a more complete explanation of the evolution of racial differences one should read, “The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.” This is reviewed on Amazon here:

According to The 10,000 Year explosion farming and civilization exert different population pressures than hunting and gathering. Farmers need to be able to plan ahead for at least a year. They need to be able to defer gratification. If they do not clean up after butchering an animal, the remains will spread disease. These differences require more intelligence than hunting and gathering. Civilization requires more intelligence still. Men who have the intelligence to become merchants, government officials, scribes, money lenders, artists, and so on tend to become more prosperous than men who are laborers. They tend to have more children who survive and reproduce.

Agriculture began in the Mid East ten thousand years ago. Civilization began there five thousand years ago. Both were begun by Caucasians. Negroes in Africa began agriculture four thousand years ago. Except for the Nubians and the Ethiopians, large numbers of Negroes only began living in cities during the twentieth century. Negro behavior and aptitude gives evidence of their more recent emergence from a Paleolithic way of life.

Here is where Race Evolution and Behavior, and The 10,000 Year Explosion do not explain as much as they should. Agriculture and civilization each began in what is now China about a thousand years later than they began in the Mid East. Nevertheless, the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese nations are more evolved than Europeans.

The higher average IQ’s of Chinese and those of Chinese immigrants throughout the world can be explained by the Imperial Exam System. For two thousand years young men who could pass the exams were given substantial incomes. They were expected to have several wives, and many children. During much of this time intelligent peasant boys in Europe were entering the Roman Catholic priesthood, where they were required to have no children at all.

Nevertheless, the Japanese and the Koreans had no comparable exam system. They average higher IQ’s than the Chinese.

These anomalies do not disprove the central arguments of Race, Evolution and Behavior and The 10,000 Year Explosion. They do mean that additional research, and explanations are necessary, and that there should be no sanctions against this research and these explanations. Those who maintain that race is only a social construct should be expected to debate their thesis without being able to punish those who agree with Race, Evolution and Behavior.
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on 16 February 1999
The wonderful reviews of this book I found here are perhaps evidence that we should take all such offerings at Amazon with a boulder of salt. At the risk of being labelled a braying pc-er, let me ask you to THINK BEFORE YOU LEAP into bed with Rushton's perception of human variation. His logic is, in brief...1. Human groups differ in some traits (e.g. crime & sex), 2. Human groups differ in some genes (e.g. those affecting skin color), therefore , 1 is because of 2. This logic is neither "obvious" nor "brave" nor "anti-pc"'s just flawed at the core. Rushton's been rejected by most evolutionary ecologists not because he is a seeker of hard truths that shatter pc illusions, but because he uses blizzards of often irrelevant numbers and paper thin or incorrect logic to make arguments that automatically resonate with many folks regardless of their knowledge of the science involved(see other reviews here). How brave.
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