The denial of human nature is extremely prevalent, most noticeably in our institutions of higher learning. To most academics, the fact that there could be population differences that are genetic in nature is troubling for many people. However, denying genetic/biological causes for racial differences is 1) intellectually dishonest; 2) will lead to negative health outcomes for populations due to the assumption that all human populations are the same; and 3) the ‘lie of equality’ will not allow all human populations to reach their ‘potential’ to be as good as they can be due to the fact that implicit assumption that all human populations are the same. Anti-hereditarians fully deny any and all genetic explanations for human differences, believing that human brain evolution somehow halted around 50-100 kya. Numerous studies show that race is a biological reality; it doesn’t matter what we call the clusters as those are the social constructs. The contention is that ‘all brains are the same color’ (Nisbett, 2007; for comment see my article Refuting Richard Nisbett), and that evolution in differing parts of the world for the past 50,000 years was not enough for any meaningful population differences between people. But to accept that means you must accept the fact that the brain is the only organ that is immune to natural selection. Does that make any sense? I will show that these differences do exist and should be studied, as free of any bias as possible, with every possible hypothesis being looked at and not discarded.
Evolution is true. It’s not ‘only a theory’ (as some anti-evolutionists contend). Anti-evolutionists do not understand the definition of the word ‘theory’. Richard Dawkins (2009) wrote that a theory is a scheme or system of ideas or statements held as an explanation or account of a group of facts or phenomena. This is in stark contrast to the layperson’s definition of the word theory, which means ‘just a guess’. Evolution is a fact. What biologists argue with each other about is the mechanisms behind evolution, for any quote-mining Creationists out there.
We know that evolution is a fact and it is the only game in town (Dawkins, 2009) to explain the wide diversity and variation we see on our planet. However, numerous scholars deny the effect of evolution on human behavior (most residing in the social sciences, but other prominent biologists have denied (or implied there were no differences between us and our ancestors) the effect of human evolution on behavior and cognition; Gould 1981, 1996, for a review of Gould 1996, see my article Complexity, Walls, 0.400 Hitting and Evolutionary “Progress” and Stephen Jay Gould and Anti-Hereditarianism; Mayr 1963; see Cochran and Harpending 2009). A prominent neuroscientist, who I have written about here, Herculano-Houzel, implied that Neanderthals and Antecessor may have been just as intelligent as we are due to a neuronal count in a similar range to ours (Herculano-Houzel 2013). This raises an interesting question (which I have tackled here and will return to in the future): did our recent hominin ancestors at least have the capacity for similar intellect to ours (Villa and Roebroeks, 2014; Herculano-Houzel and Kaas, 2011)? It is interesting that neuronal scaling rules hold for our extinct ancestors, and this question is most definitely worth looking into.
Whatever the case may be in regards to recent human evolution and our extinct hominin ancestors, human evolution has increased in the past 10,000 years (Cochran and Harpending, 2009; Wade, 2014). This is due to the dispersal of Anatomical Modern Humans (AMH) OoA around 70 kya; and with this geographical isolation, populations began to diverge with no interbreeding with each other. However, this is noticed most in ‘Native’ Americans, who show no gene flow with other populations due to being genetically isolated (Villena et al, 2000). Who’s to say that evolution stops at the neck, and no further evolution occurs on the brain? Is the brain itself exempt from the laws of natural selection? We know that there is no/hardly any gene flow between populations before the advent of modern-day technology and vehicles; we know that humans differ on morphological and anatomical traits, why are genetic differences out of the question, especially when genetic differences may explain, in part, some of the variation between populations?
We know that evolution is true, without a reasonable doubt. So why, do some researchers contend, is the human brain exempt from such selective pressures?
A theoretical article by Winegard, Winegard, and Boutwell (2017) was just released on January 17th. In the article, they argue that social scientists should integrate HBD into their models. Social scientists do not integrate genetics into their models, and the longer one studies social sciences, the more likely it is they will deny human nature, regardless of political leaning (Perry and Mace, 2010). This poses a problem. By completely ignoring a huge variable (possible genetic differences), this has the potential to harm people’s health, as race is a very informative marker when discussing diseases acquisition as well as whether certain drugs will work on two individuals of different races (Risch et al, 2002; Tang et al, 2005; Wade, 2014). People who deny the usefulness of race, even in a medical context, endanger the lives of individuals from different races/ethnies since they assume that all humans are the same inside, despite ‘superficial differences’ between populations.
The notion that all human populations—genetic isolation and evolution in differing ecosystems/climates/geographic locales be damned—is preposterous to anyone who has a true understanding of evolution. Why should man’s brain be the only organ on earth exempt from the forces of natural selection? Why do egalitarians assume that all humans are the same and have the same psychological faculties compared to other humans, despite the fact that rapid evolution has occurred within the human species within the last 10,000 years?
To see some of the most obvious ways to see natural selection in action in human populations, one should look to the Inuits (Fumagalli, 2015; Daanen and Lichtenbelt, 2016; NIH, 2015; Cardona et al, 2014; Tishkoff, 2015; Ford, McDowell, and Pierce, 2015; Galloway, Young, and Bjerregaard, 2012; Harper, 2015). Global warming is troubling to some researchers, with many researchers suggesting that global warming will have negative effects on the health and food security of the Inuit (Ford et al, 2014, 2016; Ford, 2012, 2009; Wesche, 2010; Furgal and Seguin, 2006; McClymont and Myers, 2012; Petrasek et al, 2015; Rosol, Powell-Hellyer, and Chan, 2016; Petrasek, 2014; WHO, 2003). I could go on and on citing journal articles for both claims, but you get the point already. The main point is this: we know the Inuit have evolved for their climate, and a (possible) climate change would then have a negative effect on their quality of life due to their adaptations to the cold weather climate. However, egalitarians still contend, with these examples and numerous others I could cite, that any and all differences within and between human populations can be explained by socio-cultural factors and not any genetic ones.
One of the best examples of genetic isolation in a geographic locale that is the complete opposite from the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA; Kanazawa, 2004), the African savanna in which we evolved in. I did entertain the idea of the Savanna hypothesis, and while I do believe that it could explain a lot of the variance in IQ between countries (Kanazawa, 2007), his hypothesis doesn’t make sense with what we know about human evolution over the past 10,000 years.
The most obvious differences we can see between populations is differences in skin color. Skin color does not signify race, per se, but it is a good indicator. Skin color is an adaptation to UV radiation (Jablonski and Chaplin, 2010, 2000; Juzenienne et al, 2009; Jeong and Rienzo, 2015; Hancock, et al, 2010; Kita and Fraser, 2016; Scheinfeldt and Tishkoff, 2013), and is therefor and adaptation based on climate. Dark skin is a protectant from skin cancer (Brenner and Hearing, 2008; D’Orazio et al, 2010; Bradford, 2009). Skin cancer is a possible selective force in black pigmentation of the skin in early hominin evolution (Greaves, 2014). With these adaptations in skin color between genetically and geographically isolated populations, are changes in the brain, however small, really out of the question?
A better population to bring up in regards to geographic isolation having an effect on human evolution is the Tibetans. For instance, Tibetans have higher total lung capacities in comparison to the Han Chinese (Droma et al, 1991). There are even differences in lung capacity between Tibetans and Han Chinese who live at the same altitude (Yangzong et al, 2013), with the same thing noticed for peoples living in the Andean mountains (Beall, 2007). Tibetans evolved in a higher elevation than the Han Chinese who lived closer to sea level, so it makes sense that they would be selected for the ability to take deeper inhales They also have a larger chest circumference and greater capacity than the Han Chinese who live at lower altitudes (Gilbert-Kawai et al, 2014).
Admittedly, the acceptance of the usefulness of race in regards to human differences is a touchy subject. So much so, that social scientists do not take genetics into account in their models. However, researchers in the relevant fields accept the usefulness of race (Risch et al, 2002; Tang et al, 2005; Wade, 2014; Sesardic, 2010), so the fact that social scientists do not is to be ignored. Race is a social construct, yes. But no matter what we call these clusters, clines, demes, races, ethnies—whatever name you want to use to describe them—this does not change the fact that race is a useful category in biomedical research. Race is an issue when talking about bone marrow transplants, so by treating all populations as the same with no variation between them, people are pretty much saying that differences between people in a biomedical context do not exist, with there being other explanatory factors behind population differences, in this case, bone marrow transplants. Ignoring heritable human variation will lead to disparate health outcomes for all human populations with the assumption that all humans are the same. Is that what we want? Is that what race-deniers want?
So there are anatomical and physiological differences between human populations (Wagner and Hayward, 2000), with black Americans having a different morphology and lower fat-free body mass on average in comparison to white Americans. This, then, is one of the variables that dictates racial differences in sports, along with muscle fiber explaining a large portion of the variance, in my opinion. No one denies that blacks and whites differ at elite levels in baseball, football, swimming and jumping, and bodybuilding and strength sports. Though, accepting the fact that these morphological and anatomical differences between the races come down to evolution, one would then have to accept the fact that different races/ethnies differ in the brain, thusly destroying their egalitarian fantasy in their head of all genetically isolated human populations being the same in the brain. Wade (2014) writes on page 106:
“… brain genes do not lie in some special category exempt from natural selection. They are as much under evolutionary pressure as any other category of gene”
This is a hard pill to swallow for race-deniers, especially those who emphatically deny any type of selection pressure on the human brain within the past 10,000 to 100,000 years.
Winegard, Winegard, and Boutwell (2017) write:
Consider an analogy that might make this clear while simultaneously illuminating the explanatory importance of population differences. Most cars are designed from the same basic blueprint and consist of similar parts—an internal combustion engine, a gas tank, a chassis, tires, bearings, spark plugs, et cetera. Cars as distinct as a Honda Civic and a Subaru Outback are built from the same basic blueprint and comprised of the same parts; so, in this sense, there is a “universal car nature” (Newton 1999). However, precise, correlated changes in these parts can dramatically change the characteristics of a car.
Humans, like cars, are built from the same basic body plan. They all have livers, lungs, kidneys, brains, arms, and legs. And these structures are built from the same basic building blocks, tissues, which are built of proteins, which are built of amino acids, et cetera. However, small changes in the structures of these building blocks can lead to important and scientifically meaningful differences in function.
Put in this context, yes, there is a ‘universal human nature’, but the application of that human nature will differ depending on what a population has to do to survive in that climate/ecosystem. And, over time, populations will diverge away from each other, both physically and mentally. The authors also argue that societal differences between Eurasians (Europeans and East Asian) can be explained partly by genetic differences. Indeed, the races do differ on the Big Five Personality traits, with heritable components explaining 40 to 60 percent of the variation (Power and Pluess, 2015). So some of the cultural differences between European and East Asians must come down to some biological variation.
One of the easiest ways to see the effects of cultural/environmental selective pressures in humans is to look at Ashkenazi Jews (Cochran et al, 2006). Due to Ashkenazi Jews being barred from numerous occupations, they were confined to a few cognitively demanding occupations. Over time, only the Jews that could handle these occupations would prosper, further selecting for higher intelligence due to the cognitive demands of the jobs they were able to acquire. Thus, Ashkenazi Jews who could handle the few occupations they were allowed to do would breed more and pass on variants for higher intelligence to their offspring, whereas those Jews who couldn’t handle the cognitive demands of the occupation were selected out of the gene pool. This is one situation in which natural selection worked swiftly, and is why Ashkenazi Jews are so overrepresented in the fields of academia today—along with nepotism.
Winegard, Winegard, and Boutwell (2017) lay out six basic principles for a new Darwinian paradigm, as follows:
- Variation is the grist for the mill of natural selection and is ubiquitous within and among human populations.
- Evolution by natural selection has not stopped acting on human traits and has significantly shaped at least some human traits in the past 50,000 years.
- Current hunter-gatherer groups might be slightly different from other modern human populations because of culture and evolution by natural selection acting to influence the relative presence, or absence, of trait-relevant alleles in those groups. Therefore, using extant hunter-gatherers as a template for a panhuman nature is problematic.
- It is probably more accurate to say that, while much of human nature is universal, there may have been selective tuning on various aspects of human nature as our species left Africa and settled various regions of the planet (Frost 2011).
- The human brain is subject to selective forces in the same way that other organ systems are. Natural selection does not discriminate between genes for the body and genes for the brain (Wade 2014).
- The concept of a Pleistocene-based environment of evolutionary adaptedness (EEA) is likely unhelpful (Zuk 2013). Individual traits should be explored phylogenetically and historically. Some human traits were sculpted in the Pleistocene (or before) and have remained substantially unaltered; some, however, have been further shaped in the past 10,000 years, and some probably quite recently (Clark 2007). It remains imperative to describe what selection pressures might have been actively shaping human nature moving forward from the Pleistocene epoch, and how those ecological pressures might have differed for different human populations.
No stone should be left unturned when attempting to explain population differences between geographically isolated peoples, and these six principles are a great start, which all social scientists should introduce into their models.
As I brought up earlier, Kanazawa’s (2004b) hypothesis doesn’t make sense in regards to what we know about the evolution of human psychology. Thus, any type of proposed evolutionary mismatch in regards to our societies do not make much sense. However, one mismatch that does need to be looked into is the negative mismatch we have with our modern-day Western diets. Agriculture was both a gift and a negative event in human history. Yes, without the advent of agriculture 10,000 years ago we would not have the societies we have today. However, on the other hand, we have higher rates of disease compared to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This is one evolutionary mismatch that cannot and should not go ignored as it has devastating effects on our populations that consume a Western diet—which we did not evolve to eat.
Winegart, Winegart, and Boutwell (2017) then discuss how their new Darwinian paradigm could be used by researchers: 1) look for differences among human populations; 2) after population differences are found, causal analyses should be approached neutrally; 3) researchers should consider a broad range of data to consider whether or not the trait or traits in question are heritable; and 4) researchers should test the posited biological cause more indepth. Without understanding—and using—biological differences between human populations, the quality of life for some populations will be diminished, all for the false notion of ‘equality’ between human races.
There are huge barriers in place to studying human differences, however. Hayden (2013) documents differing taboos in genetics, with intelligence having a high taboo rating. Of course, we HBDers know that intelligence is a highly heritable trait, largely genetic in nature, and so studying these differences between human populations may lead to some uncomfortable truths for some people. On the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, Ceci and Williams (2009) said that “the scientific truth must be pursued” and that researchers must study race and IQ, much to the chagrin of anti-hereditarians (Horgan, 2013). He does write something very troubling in regards to this research, and free speech in our country as a whole:
Some readers may wonder what I mean by “ban,” so let me spell it out. I envision a federal prohibition against speech or publications supporting racial theories of intelligence. All papers, books and other documents advocating such theories will be burned, deleted or otherwise destroyed. Those who continue espousing such theories either publicly or privately (as determined by monitoring of email, phone calls or other communications) will be detained indefinitely in Guantanamo until or unless a secret tribunal overseen by me says they have expressed sufficient remorse and can be released.
Whether he’s joking or not, that’s besides the point. The point is, is that these topics are extremely sensitive to the lay public, and with these articles being printed in popular publications, the reader will get an extremely biased look into the debate and their mind will already be made up for them. This is the definition of intellectual dishonesty, attempting to sway a lay-readers’ opinion on a subject they are ignorant of with an appeal to emotion. Shouldn’t all things be studied scientifically, without any ideological biases?
Speaking about the ethics of putting this information out to the general public, Winegard, Winegard, and Boutwell (2017) write:
If researchers do not responsibly study and discuss population differences, then they leave an abyss that is likely to be filled by the most extreme and hateful writings on population differences. So, although it is understandable to have concerns about the dangers of speaking and writing frankly about potential population differences, it is also important to understand the likely dangers of not doing so. It is not possible to hide the reality of human variation from the world, not possible to propagate a noble lie about human equality, and the attempt to do so leaves a vacancy for extremists to fill.
This is my favorite quote in the whole paper. It is NOT possible to hide the reality of HBD from the world; anyone with eyes can see that humans do differ. Attempting to continue the feel-good liberal lie of human equality will lead to devastating effects in all countries/populations due to the implicit assumption that all human groups are the same in their cognitive and mental faculties.
The denial of genetic human differences, could, as brought up earlier in this article, lead to negative effects in regards to health outcomes between populations. Black Americans have higher rates of hypertension than white Americans (Fuchs, 2011; Ferdinand, 2007; Ortega, Sedki, and Nayer, 2015; Nesbitt, 2009; Wright et al, 2005). To overlook possible genetic differences as a causal factor in regards to racial differences will mean the deaths of many people since people truly believe that people are the same and that all differences come down to the environment. This, however, is not true and believing so is extremely dangerous to the health of all populations in the world.
Epigenetic signatures of ethnicity may be biomarkers for shared cultural experiences. Seventy-six percent of the genetic alteration between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in this study was due to DNA methylation—which is an epigenetic mechanism used by cells to control gene expression. Therefore, 24 percent of the effect is due to an unknown factor, probably regarding environmental, social, and cultural differences between the two ethnies (Galanter et al, 2017). This is but one of many effects that culture can have on the genome, leading to differences between two populations, and is good evidence for the contention that the different races/ethnies evolved different psychological mechanisms due to genetic isolation in different environments.
We must now ask the question: what if the hereditarian hypothesis is true (Gottfredson, 2005)? If the hereditarian hypothesis is true, Gottfredson argues, special consideration should be given to those found to have a lower IQ, with better training and schooling that specifically target those individuals at risk to be less able due to their lower intelligence. This is one way the hereditarian hypothesis can help race relations in the country: people will (hopefully) accept intrinsic differences between the races. What Gottfredson argues in her paper will hopefully then pacify anti-hereditarians, as less able people of all races/ethnicities will still get the extra help they need in regards to finding work and getting schooling/training/jobs that accommodate their intelligence.
People accept genetic causes for racial differences in sports, yet emphatically deny that human races/ethnies differ in the brain. The denial of human nature—racially and ethnically—is the next hurdle for us to jump over. Once we accept that these differences in populations can, in part, be explained by genetic factors, we can then look to other avenues to see how and why these differences exist between populations occur and if anything can be done to ameliorate them. However, ironically, anti-hereditarians do not realize that their policies and philosophy is actively hindering their goals, and by accepting biological causes—if only to see them researched and held against other explanations—will lead to further inequality, while they scratch their heads without realizing that the cause is the one variable that they have discarded: genetics. Still, however, I see this won’t happen in the future and the same non-answers will be given in response to findings on how the human races differ psychologically (Gottfredson, 2012). The races do differ in biologically meaningful ways, and denying or disregarding the truth will not make these differences disappear. Social scientists must take these differences into account in their models, and seriously entertain them like any other hypothesis, or else they will never fully understand human nature.