I enjoyed the book, and am having fun take notes. I enjoyed the excerpt in Time Magazine from Nicholas Wade’s book and was looking forward to reading the entire book.
My disclaimer. I’m not an expert on genetics, just an interested layman. I will throw in some of my own views on what Mr. Wade brought up.
Political Correctness and Race. There is a fear among many that mentioning race will bring out the worst. The American Anthropological Society considers race a recent concept. Well, without genetics, we had no real scientific baseline. People used to refer to the “Irish race,” for example. In the past, race was really anything that was, “the other.” Us and them. Nothing scientific about it. On page seven, he states, racism and discrimination are wrong as a matter of principle, not science. Also academics interested in intelligence fear a gene will prove one race with more intelligence than others. Intelligence has a genetic basis, but no genetic variant has been found. Look at the 100 yard dash. All Olympians have West African ancestry. Few question that. There is also much about the human genome we still do not know.
On page 59, Wade mentions Marxists. Probably see less about Marxists now, but I remember them on my college campus. Marxists don’t like the idea of genetics driving certain things, because their entire idea was based on the idea of developing the “New Socialist Man.”
Now we get to the beginnings of agricultural society 15,000 years ago. Hunter Gatherer societies were fairly egalitarian. With agricultural, you had territory and something you had to protect.
Herders had even more to protect. An agricultural village can lose some of its crop, like the peasants in the Kurosawa movie The Seven Samurai. A pastoral society loses all its animals in a raid, they starve. I’m thinking of the George MacDonald Fraser book The Border Reivers. These are tough people. No wonder they were sent first to Ulster in Ireland and then to the North American frontier. These groups create elite warrior groups, like the Zulu. In herder societies, you are raised to fight, you are constantly fighting.
In an agricultural society, you now have a headman, who organizes defenses for his community and diplomacy with neighboring areas. When you grow more, you have city states.
There seems to be a pattern. A certain size equals a certain level of civilization. Learned behavior in culture goes along with some genetically driven social behaviors.
Wade mentions on page 71, if the races continued to be isolated, we would have drifted apart into different primate species.
OK, we come back to the question, what is race? Some say there are three main races.
1. Sub Saharan Africans.
2. Caucasians. (Including Europe, the Near East, and Indian Subcontinent).
3. East Asians, who split apart from Caucasians about 30,000 years ago.
As we learn more about the genome, we can have some more classifications. You might be able to consider Tibetans as a separate race, because they have the genome for surviving at high altitudes. (Other studies have said the Ancient Denisovans mixed with them). Australian Aborigines split apart so long ago, they can be considered a race. Some classification schemes recognize as many as 60 races.