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    Original Essays | July 14, 2015

    Joshua Mohr: IMG Your Imagination, Your Fingerprint



    When I was in grad school, a teacher told our workshop that if a published novel is 300 pages, the writer had to generate 1,200 along the way. I... Continue »
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      All This Life

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A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History

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Publisher Comments:

Drawing on startling new evidence from the human genome, an exploration of how and why the human population differentiated into distinctive races beginning fifty thousand years ago

Fewer ideas have been more toxic or harmful than the idea of the biological reality of race, and with it the idea that humans of different races are biologically different from one another. For this understandable reason, the idea has been banished from polite academic conversation. Arguing that race is more than just a social construct can get a scholar run out of town, or at least off campus, on a rail. Human evolution, the consensus view insists, ended in prehistory.

Inconveniently, as Nicholas Wade argues in A Troublesome Inheritance, the consensus view cannot be right. And in fact, we know that populations have changed in the past few thousand years—to be lactose tolerant, for example, and to survive at high altitudes. Race is not a bright-line distinction; by definition it means that the more human populations are kept apart, the more they evolve their own distinct traits under the selective pressure known as Darwinian evolution. For many thousands of years, most human populations stayed where they were and grew distinct, not just in outward appearance but in deeper senses as well.

Wade, the longtime journalist covering genetic advances for The New York Times, draws widely on the work of scientists who have made crucial breakthroughs in establishing the reality of recent human evolution. The most provocative claims in this book involve the genetic basis of human social habits. What we might call middle-class social traits—thrift, docility, nonviolence—have been slowly but surely inculcated genetically within agrarian societies, Wade argues. These “values” obviously had a strong cultural component, but Wade points to evidence that agrarian societies evolved away from hunter-gatherer societies in some crucial respects. Also controversial are his findings regarding the genetic basis of traits we associate with intelligence, such as literacy and numeracy, in certain ethnic populations, including the Chinese and Ashkenazi Jews.

Wade believes deeply in the fundamental equality of all human peoples. He also believes that science is best served by pursuing the truth without fear, and if his mission to arrive at a coherent summa of what the new genetic science does and does not tell us about race and human history leads straight into a minefield, then so be it. This will not be the last word on the subject, but it will begin a powerful and overdue conversation.

About the Author

Nicholas Wade received a BA in natural

Product Details

ISBN:
9781611762778
Author:
Wade, Nicholas
Publisher:
Penguin Audiobooks
Author:
Sklar, Alan
Subject:
Genetics
Subject:
Biology-Genetics
Edition Description:
CD-Audio
Publication Date:
20140531
Binding:
COMPACT DISC
Language:
English
Dimensions:
5.74 x 5.26 x 1.52 in 0.5 lb

Related Subjects

Audio Books » Nonfiction
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Western Civilization
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Genetics

A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History Used Compact Disc
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