@NeoconMaudit suggests that having Charles Murray review A Troublesome Inheritance, a new book on genetics and race by New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, looks almost like “trolling” on the part of the Wall Street Journal.
According to Murray, the book lays out the science in effect completely overturning the “race is a social construct” orthodoxy, and restoring the outlines of traditional views at least in some major part: “It appears that the most natural of all ways to classify humans genetically is by the racial and ethnic groups that humans have identified from time out of mind.” With his own experience as co-author of The Bell Curve in mind, Murray predicts a systematic attack on the book, on Wade, and on anyone caught live buying it:
Before they have even opened “A Troublesome Inheritance,” some reviewers will be determined not just to refute it but to discredit it utterly—to make people embarrassed to be seen purchasing it or reading it. These chapters will be their primary target because Mr. Wade chose to expose his readers to a broad range of speculative analyses, some of which are brilliant and some of which are weak. If I had been out to trash the book, I would have focused on the weak ones, associated their flaws with the book as a whole and dismissed “A Troublesome Inheritance” as sloppy and inaccurate. The orthodoxy’s clerisy will take that route, ransacking these chapters for material to accuse Mr. Wade of racism, pseudoscience, reliance on tainted sources, incompetence and evil intent. You can bet on it.
I have yet to find a major by-lined review of the book, but Publisher’s Weekly points to the model for reception that Wade himself proposes:
Science journalist Wade (Before the Dawn) ventures into territory eschewed by most writers: the evolutionary basis for racial differences across human populations. He argues persuasively that such differences exist and that they have been “ignored by academics and policy makers for fear that such inquiry might promote racism.” But, Wade argues, the essence of racism is an assertion of superiority of one race over the others, while the recognition that genetic differences lead to behavioral tendencies provides no such value judgment.
@NeoconMaudit further suggests that coping with this issue – one of many questions posed by science to ideology, but an especially explosive one – “will be one of liberalism’s chief challenges.” By “liberalism,” he goes on to explain, he means “the sort of ideology to which 90+ per cent of us moderns in the West subscribe.”
The challenge or question would appear to be whether a scientifically sound restoration of the category of race, under whatever name or re-configurations, can be sustained without being sooner or later converted into “value judgment.” The difficulty in adopting Wade’s hopeful or possibly naive view might rest in its foundations, since the racial differences of the sort that biological science or Wade’s rendering of it seem to support would themselves constitute value judgments of a very particular and concrete type: Survival-critical – or “life and death” – responses to selection pressure, a kind of implacable and inexorable natural value judgment. In any social system under any “pressure” at all – in other words, any social system like all those known to us – some traits will be, on average, more highly valued, and in a survival-critical sense, than others. “Different but equal” may last as an ideal or a guide, or point of social insistence and civic faith, but may remain difficult to practice, with the results, backed by the best genetic science has to offer, continually threatening that faith and undermining that insistence.
The action may unfold much as Murray’s reading of real-existing political-intellectual selection pressures predicts, or maybe we will discover that we have evolved on these subjects. Perhaps Wade will find champions in the “clerisy” after all, liberal pundits who recognize an interest in heading off the impulse to assign a dogmatic reading and to announce general orders of proscription. We could perhaps seek to imagine some hardier variation on traditional American liberal-universalist ideology, a glorification of hybrid vigor and the uses of a diverse gene stock, a mixed rather than white racialism, still an exceptionalism of a sort, but once again in transit to a more just world order, on sociobiologically evolutionary rather than merely political time scales.