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JSPES, Vol. 40, Nos. 1-2 (Spring-Summer 2015)
pp. 117–128

BOOK REVIEW ARTICLE: A Gentle Look at Race, Evolution and Genetics: Nicholas Wade’s Elevation of Science Over Ideology

Dwight D. Murphey

Wichita State University, retired

A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History

Nicholas Wade
The Penguin Press, 2014

There has been an odd duality within the scientific consensus on matters of evolution. Evolution is understood as fact – indeed, as the cornerstone of much thinking in the social sciences. At the same time, running on another track, when it deals with matters of race the consensus denies evolution and genetics, coming to the conclusion that race is a “myth.” In the book discussed here, Nicholas Wade, a New York Times science advisor, runs counter to this unscientific second track. With quiet objectivity and good sense, he affirms the existence of race and ties it to the differing evolutionary adaptation of the peoples who had migrated from Africa to the various continents. While acknowledging that the understanding of the human genome has not yet progressed far enough to provide solid proof about the effect, if any, of genes on social behaviors, he offers persuasive arguments supporting an inference of a genetic role. Though unassuming, his book amounts to a revolutionary challenge to one of the great ideologicallyinduced abuses of science.