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:--
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
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.
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"...it'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.