Inquiries into fake history: Antoine Duchesne (1766) and Georg Forster (1786) on “race” in context to natural history

Science is replete with fake, whiggish histories peddled to bolster new paradigms. Biology is no exception. Two examples are the The Essentialism Story (Winsor, 2006; Richards, 2010; Wilkins, 2013) and The Classic View/The Mutationism Myth (Stoltzfus, 2010; Stoltzfus and Cable, 2014). According to the former, early biologists were inexplicably caught in the thrall of Platonic-Aristotelian typological essentialism, which resulted in the failure to recognize the significance of individual variation and which consequently retarded the recognition of evolution. According to the second, early geneticists were caught in the grip of saltationism, which resulted in the rejection of natural selection and held back for decades the synthesis between Mendelian principles and evolutionary theory. As expected, in these tellings, the actual historical views are often barely recognizable.

The most prominent, yet least discussed, example of pseudohistory of science has to be what should be called The Race Narrative. The Race Narrative is meta-myth, comprised of several related tales, which typically involve some permutation of: “”Race” never described a classification which had a proper place in natural history or a classification which, given how it was historically understood, was applicable to humans, but rather was a political construct imposed to oppress certain human groups, which was then back rationalized by natural historians, who read reality through the political ideology of their times.” Often The Essentialism Story and, to a lesser extent, The Mutationism Myth are incorporated into this Narrative.

To give just a few examples:
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“Communities of descent”

After some deliberation, I determined that the locution “race” is inessential. As such, I now disavow the arguably controversial view that this is necessary when it comes to understanding biological variation, human and otherwise…. At the same time, it has become evident that the concept which I refer to as “lineage population,” which I hitherto called “natural division,” a concept which corresponds with Darwin’s “communities of descent,” as understood in On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races is indispensible. I clarify that concept and discuss it in relation to other systematic ones.

Lineage population: A concept needed by an observer of nature? Preprint.

Abstract: The genealogy-based classificatory programs of Kant and Darwin are briefly discussed for context. It is detailed how in biology there is no unambiguous term to reference infraspecific-level descent-based divisions. The term lineage population is introduced and defined for analytic purposes: a lineage population is one of a set of divisions of intrafertile organisms into which members are arranged by propinquity of descent. It is argued that the lineage population concept avoids the ambiguities associated with related biological and anthropological concepts and polysemes such as population, ethnicity, and race. Other terms and concepts, such as form, cline, cluster, geographic population, breeding population, genetic population, breed, species, subspecies, ancestry, geographic ancestry, biogeographic ancestry, ancestral population, ancestry population, natural division, and population lineage, are discussed in relation to this concept. It is concluded that the lineage population concept is a useful analytic tool which picks out, in line with the Kantian/Darwinian perspective, an interesting class of biological variation.

New MQ paper

Kirkegaard, E. O. W. & Fuerst, J. (2016). Inequality in the United States: Ethnicity, Racial Admixture and Environmental Causes. Mankind Quarterly 56(4).

Previously, we looked at the association between overall state-level biogeographic ancestry (BGA) and overall state-level outcomes. It was found that European BGA relative to African and Amerindian BGA was associated with better outcomes. In this paper, the analysis is extended by looking at the state-level ancestry-outcome associations individually for black and Hispanic self-identified race-ethnicity (SIRE) groups. General socioeconomic factor (S) scores were calculated for US states by SIRE groups based on three indicators. The S factor loadings were generally stable across subgroup analyses and the factor scores were stable across factor analytic extraction methods (for the latter, almost all r’s ≈ 1). For Whites, Blacks and Hispanics, there were strong correlations between cognitive ability scores and S factor scores across states (r = .55 to .78; N = 28-50). This pattern also held when all data were analyzed together (r = .86, N = 115). Furthermore, the size of the Hispanic-White and Black-White S and cognitive ability gaps strongly correlated across states (r = .62 to .69; N = 36-37). Lastly, parasite prevalence did not plausibly explain SIRE gaps in cognitive ability because gaps were smaller in more parasite-rich states (combined analysis r = -.17, N = 91). We found that climatic and geospatial variables did not correlate strongly with cognitive ability and S scores when scores were decomposed by SIRE group, but did so at the total state level, even after statistically controlling for SIRE composition.

Into the IQ shredder

Wang, M., Fuerst, J., Ren, J. (2016). Evidence of dysgenic fertility in China. Intelligence, 57, 15-24.

From the discussion: “We’ve seen, in Table 4, that urban populations in China exhibited a relatively high dysgenic fertility trend in the 1951–1970 birth cohort. For this same cohort, the trend was much smaller in the rural populations. It suggests that dysgenic selection is related to urbanity. This supports Pan’s (1923) observation that “modern urbanization has had so many dysgenic effects upon the race.”

Philosophical Reflections on On Genetic Interest

I will leave a sum in my last will for my body to be carried to Brazil and to these forests… and this great Coprophanaeus beetle will bury me. They will enter, will bury, will live on my flesh; and in the shape of their children and mine, I will escape death. — Hamilton, 1991

Opening reflections

Through reproduction, living beings obtain immortality. This was the view of the ancients. All beings seek the divine, which is the eternal. For mortals, unending life can only be had through generation. While the individual particularity is doomed, through reproduction the general form can be perpetuated and a type of eternity can yet be grasped. In De Anima, Aristotle expresses the view thusly:

For any living thing … the most natural act is the production of another like itself, an animal producing an animal, a plant a plant, in order that, as far as it nature allows, it may partake in the eternal and divine. That is the goal towards which all things strive, that for the sake of which they do whatsoever their nature renders possible… Since then no living thing is able to partake in what is eternal and divine by uninterrupted continuance for nothing perishable can for ever remain one and the same, it tries to achieve that end in the only way possible to it[.]

In Plato’s Symposium, Diotima accounts for filial love likewise:

For among animals the principle is the same as with us, and mortal nature seeks so far as possible to live forever and be immortal. And this is possible in one way only: by reproduction… And in that way everything mortal is preserved, not, like the divine, by always being the same in every way, but because what is departing and aging leaves behind something new, something such as it had been… So don’t be surprised if everything naturally values its own offspring, because it is for the sake of immortality that everything shows zeal, which is Love.

Genetic Interest

A decade ago, Frank Salter published On Genetic Interests: Family, Ethnicity, and Humanity in an Age of Mass Migration (OGI). The book’s stated purpose was not to account for human behavior, “but rather to offer social and political theory about what individuals should do.” The book attempts to answer a theoretical question: “How would an individual behave in order to be adaptive in the modem world?” — where “adaptive” means maximizing the survival chances of the totality of one’s unique gene frequencies. In line with the book’s title, Salter concerns himself with individual, family, ethnic and species genetic stake. He concludes that a portfolio with a balanced investment in all of these is preferable. He asks, “Which [gene conserving] strategies are best?” And then replies that focusing exclusively on any one level of genetic interest is suboptimal. He concerns himself largely with “ethnic genetic interest” (EGI) for two reasons. First, reigning ideologies neglect it. They end up, as he notes, advancing species genetic interest (e.g., radical Christianity and humanism) and, when not, individual and family interest. And second, mass immigration presently threatens the existence, as coherent biocultural groups, of many ethnic groups.

Salter, both an ethnologist and political scientist in training, notes that he was motivated to write OGI after having discovered, with the help of anthropologist Henry Harpending, that the aggregate kinship shared by members of a typical ethnic or racial group, relative to random members of the species, “was typically 1000 times greater than” he originally anticipated. Prior to writing the book, he had been using van den Berghe’s theory of ethnic nepotism as a heuristic to understand ethnological findings. He wrote the book in light of his findings and the ongoing replacement-level immigration to the West. He felt that the biological impact of that process needed to be analyzed and discussed.
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The Genealogy of Differences in the Americas

The first two of our admixture in the Americas papers have been published at Mankind Quarterly. To note, as I am skeptical of a behavioral genetic model, we advanced a genealogical one with an unspecified mode of inter-generational transmission. Similar models have been adopted in the economic literature (for example: Putterman and Weil, 2010; Spolaore & Wacziarg, 2015). For open access, we uploaded our papers to Research Gate. For the sake of transparency, the 18 supplementary files, the R syntax and the other data files have been made publicly available at Open Science Frame. The six commentaries are locked behind a paywall, but we covered most of the criticisms in our reply paper. If you can get a hold of them, though, they are well worth the reading. The conclusion of the reply paper sums up our general position:

We were pleased with the caliber of the comments. While incisive, none of them have inclined us to alter our conclusion concerning the R~CA-S hypothesis. But what now? First, more data. Specifically, indices of national cognitive ability need to be refined and more regional data needs to be located. In searching for this, it would be helpful to collaborate with researchers who are more familiar with Latin American datasets. Second, it would be worthwhile to further investigate a discriminatory model of individual differences using kinship designs and also to further investigate geographic models of regional differences, for example, using individual-level longitudinal data (to see if relocation to higher absolute latitude or colder regions has a positive effect on individual-level outcomes). Our models, in aggregate, are consistent with the view that contemporaneous cold weather and/or latitude is causally associated with positive outcomes, but an accurate assessment of the magnitude of these effects necessitates taking into account intergenerational factors. More generally, proponents of genealogical, discriminatory and geographic models have a mutual interest in building and making accessible databases that allow for the testing of these competing and probably co-occurring models.

As part of the reply we wrote another paper which focuses on the U.S. and will be published in the summer edition. Three related projects are also in the works.


Fuerst, J., & Kirkegaard, E. O. W. (2016). Admixture in the Americas: Regional and national differences. Mankind Quarterly.

Ibarra, L. (2016). Statistics vs Scientific Explanation. Mankind Quarterly.

Flores-Mendoza, C., & Da Silva, J. A. (2016). Great effort, interesting results, but not everything is what it seems. Caution is required. Mankind Quarterly.

de Baca, T., Figueredo, A. J., & Garcia, R. A. (2016). Commentary on Fuerst and Kirkegaard: Some groups have all the luck, some groups have all the pain, some groups get all the breaks. Mankind Quarterly.

Christainsen, G. (2016). Admixture in the Americas: Social Differences as a Reflection of Human Biodiversity. Mankind Quarterly.

León, F. R. (2016). Race vis-à-vis Latitude: Their Influence on Intelligence, Infectious Diseases, and Income. Mankind Quarterly.

Pesta, B. (2016). Does IQ Cause Race Differences in Well-being? Mankind Quarterly.

Fuerst, J., & Kirkegaard, E. O. W. (2016). The Genealogy of Differences in the Americas. Mankind Quarterly.

The Evolutionary Default Hypothesis and Negative HBD

Jayman (2016) argues:

There is no reason to suspect that human groups that have been separated for tens of thousands of years in vastly different environments would be the same in all their cognitive and behavioral qualities. In fact, a priori we should expect them not to be, since such equivalence after so many generations of separate evolution is nigh impossible.

We can quantify the expectation.

When it comes to quantitative genetic trait differences between populations, the evolutionary default expectation is that differences will be commensurate with the degree of drift (not to be equated with neutral mutations). For diploids, the formula is:


VA G,B is the genetic variance between groups
VA, C is the additive genetic variance in a common ancestral population
2FST is 2 times the fixation index with respect to low mutation rate biallelic polymorphs of the type that underlie the traits in question (see: Edelaar and Björklund, 2011) Continue reading

Measured Proficiency of Ethnic Groups in Canada

Jason Malloy and I have individually collected a large number of papers and research reports from countries around the world detailing ethnic and racial differences. I have sent some of the stuff to Richard Lynn, lost a number of reports due to hard drive failures, and simply haven’t got around for various reasons (time, health, other priorities, etc.) to posting on the remainder. In response to an article by Chanda Chrisala, James Thompson recently suggested that it would be informative to look at ethnic differences in other American countries. As such, I will comment on a few studies from Canada and Brazil. Regarding Canada, there seems to be no published detailed ethnic data for the nation as a whole — though many reports discuss the Aboriginal/overall Canada gap. The country has a number of national longitudinal surveys which most likely contain the relevant variables, but as far as I am aware no has looked into the issue. Nonetheless, since the 1980s the Toronto public schools have published research reports which decompose math and reading pass rates by linguistic, ethnic, and racial background.

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The Measured Proficiency of Somali Americans

The discussion of the performance of African immigrants led by Chanda Chisala has been of unusually poor quality. As such, I thought that I might write a brief tutorial post on how to locate data and estimate differences in hopes that this will inspire better research practices and more rigorous debate. I will also elaborate on the Jensenist position and its predictions, as Chanda, and apparently many others, do not seem to have a good grasp of it at least in its quantified form.

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Heritability of Racial and Ethnic Pride, Preference, and Prejudice

A while back, in “People in the Future Will Not Look Like Brazilians”, Razib suggested that the great amalgamation will stall because those who are inclined to out mix will do so, taking with them their xenophilic dispositions. The suggestion prompted a commenter to question whether there was any evidence that preferences for (racial) endogamy had, as seemingly presumed by Razib’s argument, a non-trivial genetic component. Apparently, there has been very little genetically informed research on this or closely related topics. Nonetheless, I was able to locate eight studies based on five independent samples which provided heritability estimates for some measures of national, ethnic, or racial pride, preference, or prejudice. The study results are summarized in the table below.

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