Race and Genetics

A sane reader writes:

"I am all for rigorous scientific research on this subject.  Of course there is a lot of genetic diversity and different genetic adaptations (including cognitive) between populations.  But without becoming as reactionary as the Harvard Humanities department, I am very skeptical about subsets and broad generalizations based solely on race–because those groups are often too broad and arbitrary.  I don’t discount the Bell Curve’s statistical analysis, but I also don’t think it is a definitive answer of what is going on in human populations in regard to race–any more or less than I think Jared Diamond’s politically correct theory of geographical determinism is a definitive answer.  Instead I suspect there is a very complex relationship between a variety of factors (genetic, geographical, cultural ideas, even dumb luck) that control the rise and fall of civilizations and success of certain populations.  When looking at nature vs. nurture, culture is often the driving force of natural selection–and genetic changes can appear to happen almost spontaneously when such forces come to bear (which explains the rapid shift of skeletal structure in Europe and Asia after agriculture became widespread)."

That’s the trouble with reality: it’s all so fiendishly complicated. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t investigate every angle of the subject, free from political correctness and excessive social pressure.