A review of the book Children of Prometheus: The Accelerating Pace of Human Evolution by Christopher Wills, 1998. Reviewed by Matt Nuenke, January 2001.
Christopher [Wills], I have read your book Children of Prometheus: The Accelerating Pace of Human Evolution, and I am curious about a couple of points. You refer many times to the "master race." Who are they? The Jews, the Japanese or some other group? If we look at who makes the most money and has the most wealth, it seems the two master races would be Jews or Eastern Asians. You also stated: "Our species is moving into a period of great but nonetheless manageable danger. Population pressure, while easing slightly, is still a terrible threat to our health and to the well being of the ecosystem on which we depend. Nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare continue to be perils, particularly in the hands of nationalists and religious extremists trying to preserve intact their antiquated ideas and their already hopelessly contaminated gene pools." Again, are you slamming the Jews here? Israel is super nationalist, ultra religious, and has nuclear weapons. And their gene pools are highly inbred. Or are you referring to some other nation? Could you please clarify whom you are referring to? I am doing a major review of your book, but some of your insinuations are hard to decipher and need clarification. Sincerely, Matthew Nuenke (email correspondence dated 11/20/2000 to Christopher Wills).
[Email response from Chris Wills dated 11/23/2000] Of course, I was referring to nationalists and religious extremists of every nationality and race. I was not singling out any one of them in particular, although I did mention some historical and present-day examples. My point is that such nationalism and extremism is becoming less and less meaningful as racial groups mix and cross-cultural exchanges become more common. I hope that you include this comment in your review. [Dr. Christopher Wills, Professor of Biology, University of California at San Diego. Email address firstname.lastname@example.org]
Well, I must infer that Dr. Wills then must be very worried about Israel. He didn't deny that they are nationalist, xenophobic, armed with weapons of mass destruction, and willing to use them in a first strike. But of course that is not what his book is all about.
First, it is a very good book that covers a lot of material that is of interest to evolutionists and eugenicists. That is, 95% of the material is not new but it is useful for those interested in the subject matter. So like many books in this genre it has two purposes: to establish Dr. Will's knowledge of the subject matter and make it appear to be objective and empirical, while at the same time promoting a political agenda that falls into the abyss of the utopian dream of universal egalitarianism. While he intermittently lashes out at nationalists and religious fanatics as if they have no right whatsoever for holding the views that they do, he then demands that all human races be forced to intermarry so that we are all mixed up genetically. He then claims that we will accelerate the evolutionary process, but he doesn't really explain to what purpose.
So the really fascinating reading of this book is the inherent contradictions, deceptions, and moral positioning Dr. Wills uses to try and advance what is in essence his own form or nationalism and religious fanaticism. That is the nation as one global nation under totalitarian control by the egalitarian elite, and the religious fanaticism of Marxism, universalism, socialism, or whatever name you attach to this neo-Marxist lot of academics.
Before I take apart this sophomoric proposal for universal brotherhood, let me lay out what the basic premise is: When subspecies (human races) that are genetically different begin to interbreed, the results are "profound" and "generally positive." Keep this simple message in mind as you read this review. But first let me point out at the beginning just a few reasons why it is nonsensical.
First, it is based on the premise that different races are in some real way genetically different, a premise that Wills repeatedly denies to be true throughout the book. For example, he claims that human races are now interbreeding and we are also [all] getting smarter (see my review of The Rising Curve, published by the American Psychological Association that refutes this pollyannaish view). The fact is for example that if sub-Saharan Blacks with an average IQ of 70 were to interbreed with Ashkenazi Jews with an average IQ of 117, the offspring would in fact be somewhere between the two groups; somewhere around an average IQ of 95! This IS "profound" but it is hardly "generally positive!" Those offspring are more likely to end up in jail or on welfare than the offspring of the pure Ashkenazi Jew.
Second, there is no evidence that there is either a benefit or harm done to the human species by intermarrying (inbreeding depression) or racial mixing (hybrid vigor). Only extreme inbreeding has been shown to cause some recessive genes to be overly expressed in offspring. The fact is, with six billion humans, there is no sound argument that inbreeding adversely impacts any particular race. For example, Ashkenazi Jews have a high incidence of Tay-Sachs disease and therefore they have a high incidence of Jews marrying Jews with children having the disease. But genetic testing can prevent this disease, and the high intelligence of Jews has been far more beneficial than harmful. They have practiced a high level of inbreeding, with nieces commonly marrying uncles, thereby increasing their racial purity and intelligence. And they have prospered as a result. (see MacDonald's trilogy on group evolutionary strategies. A review of the three books is available at http://www.neoeugenics.net/mac.htm.)
Third, we humans are no longer subject to the random laws of evolution. Wills is attempting to use the same laws of evolution on humans that are meant for fruit flies. Natural selection no longer applies to human evolution because we have the ability to direct our own evolution, and thanks to socialism the unfit no longer succumb to selection pressures that fruit flies succumb to. The rules are no longer the same for all species. Reproductive rules for humans are written in human behavior as well as political laws and United Nation's proclamations. We have taken cognitive control of our evolutionary future. Wills doesn't seem to understand this---or prefers to ignore it.
I am sure I could come up with several more reasons why Wills' premise makes no sense, but the above three will suffice for now. For an additional elegant rebuttal see John Bryant's article "Evolution: The Essential Criticisms Answered."
DECONSTRUCTING THE TEXT
The book starts out with a story about our primate relatives the orangutan. As it turns out, there are two subspecies---one from Borneo and the other from Sumatra. They were discovered to be subspecies (different races) after they had initially been allowed to breed in zoos. Now, heaven forbid according to Wills, we must restore this racial purity of the two orangutans by killing any of the hybrids that resulted from this race-mixing. And the reason is that it gives us cause to preserve the habitats of the two different races! That is, they are different enough behaviorally to need different habitats. But isn't this what Philippe J. Rushton has been claiming (see his book Race, Evolution and Behavior)? That low IQ sub-Saharan Blacks are suited for tropical Africa, and high intelligent Eastern Asians are suited for the cold of northern Asia?
Well then, if it is appropriate to maintain the racial purity of the two orangutan races, why is it not also wrong to destroy the culture of human racial groups by interbreeding? Could we also justify destroying all human hybrids because races are suited for different habitats or cultures? Why is racial policy so different for our near relatives? And isn't this the same genocide that Hitler proposed against racial hybrids? It seems Wills has different standards for the evolutionary meaning of different species. Apparently, humans are a different lot all together and simplistic evolutionary principles like hybrid vigor or race mixing also do not apply to humans as they apply to other organisms.
Where Wills really stretches his credibility is in the way he presents the differences in races and what it means. He states that the races have been separated for over 100,000 years until recently, and he admits that therefore they are different behaviorally. But intelligence is the most salient difference between races, as seen by the level of hostility making such an observation elicits, and yet he goes out of his way to dismiss and deny that intelligence differences could be genetic.
Instead, he tries to substitute intelligence with some other human traits like "strength" versus "watch making." By doing this, he is attempting to show that it would be beneficial if nation A with a lot of "strong" people bred or intermarried with nation B with a lot of "watch making" people so that both nations would benefit from having some of each. This is a real stretch since intelligence subsumes so much of what goes into making a person successful and valuable in the modern world as we know it and as it will become even more so. Of all traits, intelligence is shown to matter the most.
But how about these other traits he seems to think might be in an overabundant supply in one race versus another? And let's look at one we know really exists. Almost all male marathon runners come from several countries in northern Africa, and especially from just one specific tribe in Kenya. When I ran the 2000 New York Marathon these genetic differences were striking. When I arrived the day before at the Hilton Hotel and entered the lobby, filled to capacity with runners, the Kenyans stood out like giants. Even though they were small in stature, they were so physically different from everyone else that they easily stood out, even in comparison to other North Africans (see my review of the book Taboo that discusses the athletic genetic differences between Blacks and Whites). So is the ability to run a marathon what Wills is trying to enhance? Well if the Kenyans have a lock on this sport, why would they want to give it up to have more "watch makers?" (Actually, just substitute intelligence and we have a real debate here that makes sense.)
So while denying the differences between races in intelligence, Wills in fact is arguing that these differences in fact exist to such an extent that some racial groups will be deprived of enough "watch makers" or enough "marathon runners." Well, the truth is that all any nation really lacks are enough people with high intelligence. This is the common concern in many countries, that their children are not doing well enough in school or that they do not have enough skilled workers for highly technical jobs. I am unaware of any other behavioral trait or even skill that has raised concerns in any nation for being in short supply, it is always generalized as just skilled labor (smart workers).
So I have to infer that Wills is really talking about intelligence, or he is talking just nonsense. That is, he is trying to make the case that humans should interbreed in order to enhance hybrid vigor, but he is unable to articulate exactly what traits he is trying to invigorate! In fact, he declares that anyone who even discusses the possibility of human dysgenics is a racist and probably some type of supremacist. And yet, isn't that what the debate is all about in the United States when it comes to the failure of the educational system to educate? Isn't there an equal probability that it is due to the low average intelligence of the American student as compared with such countries like Japan, as it is any real failure in the system to educate? After all, we spend far more money per capita on our students as most other first world countries, and have far less to show for it. It seems one reason is most certainly that we have large racial groups with average low IQs as reported by the American Psychological Association.
Later he tries to make the argument that genetic variation, again brought about by race mixing, will be a boon to human evolution. He seems to be saying that evolution will increase "as long as it happens to be plentifully endowed with genetic variation in the form of a wide assortment of alleles [genetic differences]. But of course in order for evolution to work on variation there must be selection where the unfit will not reproduce as many offspring as the more fit." But humans no longer submit to this model. Culture makes it possible for the less fit to have more offspring than the fit, or the more productive, or the better watch makers, or the faster runners, or any one of numerous other traits. So the argument is invalid. And it is especially invalid when we think of group selection.
Evolution can also select on groups. Now, if we consider groups as nations, the nation with the highest average IQ may well win out over the people in another nation with a lower average IQ. For example, if we had a world where some advanced nations practiced eugenics, and borders were secure, then evolution would advance even faster through purposely-directed evolution. Genetic variation may supply the options, but not all the variation will be selected for in the end. Smart genes will be selected for over stupid genes. Tall genes will be selected over pygmy genes. And better-looking people will be selected over the ugly people. And in the end, the homogeneous nation that practiced intelligent eugenics would win out over the nation or people that does not. So it makes perfectly good sense for races who are more successful to not breed with those that are less so.
Let's look at just two groups. The Ashkenazi Jews have an average IQ of 117 and are far more successful than are sub-Saharan Africans who have an average IQ of 70 (See The Phenomenon of the Jews). If every one of these Jews intermarried with an African, the average intelligence of this new hybrid group would be an average of 95. Hardly a smart move for the Jews! In fact, it has been convincingly argued that the Ashkenazi Jews have a high average IQ because they did not mix with other races, selected for intelligence in breeding and matchmaking, and have a high degree of ethnocentrism to keep the race pure. That is, they are evolutionarily successful because they do not interbreed but practice eugenics. Just the opposite of what Wills contends. Now remember, we have a working model of success in the Ashkenazi Jewish strategy. Wills' strategy of race mixing is conjectural and highly problematic given he is trying to prove what may work with fruit flies will also apply to humans who live in a communal/cultural milieu that violates all of the initial premises.
Wills laces his book throughout with errors and falsehoods, that when looked at realistically actually support the conclusion that intermarriage between groups that differ genetically as he has pointed out, will destroy the evolutionary process. He claims for example without evidence that "People who are ill adapted to the modern world will be less likely to have children . . . ." We know of course that this is in fact wrong, as first world countries continue to decline in births as they prosper in this "modern world" while population groups who can't even feed themselves continue to have too many children. One factual lie after another must be used in this book to make Wills' real point that race mixing is good because he hates the White race. He seems to relish in the thought that race mixing will "wipe out" the hated "master races."
Of course, all this can only happen if human nature is truly absent any kin recognition. That is, humans have no particular preference for selecting one mate over another based on genetic likeness. Unfortunately for Wills, the studies that have been done show that people do tend to prefer their own kind. Races do mix for various reasons on occasion, but there is no evidence that racial mixing will proceed the way he envisions. For example, Northeastern Asians tend to marry Whites where they have the opportunity. But genetic studies show that Northeastern Asians are closer genetically to Whites than they are to Eastern Asians. So this is not that unusual, and both groups are intelligent. That does not mean that Whites and Blacks however will mix racially to any great degree, and if they do it will be the very low intelligent White with the already low intelligent Black. There are exceptions of course, as can be seen when Black sports stars often marry White women with their newfound wealth. Women will often look at the wealth of a male, as many males want the youth and beauty in females, hence racial kinship will be pushed aside. But the racial mixing that Wills so yearns for is nowhere in sight.
What is more likely to happen is that with universal education, the stratification that comes from assortative mating will increase the differences in intelligence and the standard bell curve will spread out. In the past, many people who had innate intelligence never had the opportunity to display it or to utilize it. Now, with all children channeled into educational programs that enhance each individual's talents and puts them on display for all to see, selection for intelligence when choosing a mate will increase. And as intelligence increasingly becomes the single most important indicator of one's status, earning power, and prestige it will drive the elite intelligentsia further away from the mean, as the mixing of people with different levels of intelligence is reduced. Remember, up until just a few decades ago, all over the world, going on to higher education had more to do with the wealth and status of the family you came from than your innate intelligence. Now, the meritocracy is replacing this social elitism where the not so intelligent could hide within the family. It is no longer so easy to hide one's abilities. The state tests, retests, and likes are sent off to schools with likes, as the residue is left behind to mate. This is far from the mixing and destratification that Wills is hoping to see happen.
Wills' other great hope is that European nations will all be swamped by overpopulated third worlder's and the great racial melt-down can proceed as planned. What he fails to recognize is human nature, and the pendulum swings that such large demographic changes bring. We are already seeing a backlash against multiculturalism as the varying immigrant groups attempt to divide up the spoils of European prosperity. Wills seems to think that there is no end to the hospitality that this "xenophobic" White population will show towards foreigners. And yet as we see today, virtually every Western nation is embroiled in controversies with regards to how much crime, poverty, and social welfare they are willing to tolerate from the influx of outsiders.
The majority of people of these so-called democratic nations do not want unrestricted immigration---it is foisted upon them by capitalist and universalist elites. The former strictly to reduce workers' wages by expanding a cheap and pliable labor force, and the latter because they have never given up their dream of a totalitarian egalitarianism---that is a return to one form or another of the Marxist vision. Throughout this book, there is one underlying theme. Wills has a deep and troubling hatred for any racial or ethnic group that would like to preserve their unique culture. He is willing to grant to the orangutans and other animals what he would strip away from all humanity---a feeling of community in uniqueness. This pathological hatred that seeps out against all forms of particularism is the single common thread of this book. It is a ritualistic condemnation of all that is different and diverse between racial or ethnic identities. This is the new fascism of the left, to destroy any dissent by the majority to keep their cultures in tact.
Most of these neo-totalitarian academics in this genre attack only Western culture, but Wills has broadened his vision to the East as he takes issue with the homogeneous Japanese culture. He predicts---as part of his vision to destroy this holdout against universalism with their very law abiding and prosperous society---that they too will eventually have to import labor as the West has done. But he forgets one thing, it is just as easy to export the factories and managers rather than import labor to accomplish the same thing. That is, to save their nation the Japanese have decided to expand outward, not implode inward and destroy their very existence. I suspect the reason that the Japanese have been able to maintain their culture is because they do not have an internal elite, different from the Japanese culture, trying to destroy their particularism. In the West, few nations have this internal solidarity in racial identity.
You could almost say that this book is a divide between the North and the South. Wills seems to hate any racial group that forms the Caucasian to Eastern Asian continuum, continually referring to them as the "master races" because they are prosperous. That seems to be the only consistent criteria used. And in his mind then, to destroy the "master races" means to destroy human prosperity (sound like Communism all over again?). He declares for instance that "If the enzyme present in the cells of Europeans and Asians had been made in the active form, the result would be copious quantities of melanin, producing skins and hair as dark as those of Africans and Melanesians. This small abnormality found in the 'superior' white races, has had vast and terrible consequences for our species." Oh really? I always thought the left included Asians in the category of "people of color?" Wills seems to think otherwise. And he makes no distinction between shades of color. But the fact is, skin color has never been the criteria that separates human races. It may be one of many indicators that humans use to categorize people into recognizable groups, but how dark your skin is of itself is of no consequence.
The upper Brahmin classes of India have dark skin, but we would not mistake them or include them in with Australian Aborigines for example. And recent studies in Brazil have shown that the Brazilians classify individuals by how dark they are and how pronounced their Negroid features are. That is, they are independent labels when people classify each other (Brazilian men of all races prefer lighter skinned women). This straw man is used over and over again by the Marxists. What they are trying to claim is that we judge people by the color of their skin while ignoring other behavioral traits. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. The racial discussion in the United States has to do with the average IQ of different ethnic groups, their crime rates, their rates of failure or welfare dependency, etc. No one really cares how dark his or her skin is. It is not what the discussion is all about, but it is one way to try and dismiss the salient issues of genetic differences in intelligence, so it is clung onto for dear life. To give up the "race is skin color" ruse is impossible for these Pseudoscientists.
Finally, in order for his premise to work, Wills MUST establish beyond a reasonable doubt that different racial groups do not vary in innate intelligence. It is worth mentioning that his book was first published in 1998, long after The Bell Curve came out in the fall of 1994. The press universally condemned The Bell Curve in the following year, but researchers in psychometrics continued to go over the numbers. In fact, the following year, the APA as I mentioned earlier issued a report that vindicated the results. And subsequent research has further confirmed that intelligence is primarily genetic in adults, ranging from 60% to 80%. This is a much higher correlation than many other behavioral traits that usually have genetic correlations of around 30 to 50%. So how does Wills deal with these facts? By lying of course.
He states that programs like Head Start improve young children's IQs only to be lost when they grow up, ignoring the empirical data that earlier gains in IQ are due to "teaching to the test" and are not in fact real gains at all. He ignores all of the data that has failed to show that the environment has any real impact altering the average intelligence between racial groups, the elusive factor X (see Jensen's lengthy refutation of the environmental argument). He claims that the hereditarian viewpoint reached its nadir during the Reagan years, when in fact it has been accelerating during the last decade or so with the success of twin and adoption studies.
The only evidence provided by Wills that I needed to look up because I was not familiar with it was some research findings by Devlin. Looking into the premise, Devlin claims we should be interested in "narrow" and not "broad" heritability (well, only if you are breeding chickens, dogs or pigs would one be interested in "narrow" heritability --- see Jensen, 1998). But what is more informative than the research presented by Wills is the way it is presented, and it is a fallacy that is used over and over again when a pseudoscientist has run out of sustainable arguments. Wills states, "With their findings Devlin and his colleagues have effectively destroyed the IQ meritocracy idea." Whenever you read a statement like this, where one study purports to prove or disprove the correlation between intelligence and genes or environment, you should instantly recognize that the author is flat out lying to you because they have no consensus. Never, in psychometrics, will one study provide any such definitive proof. This is why meta-analyses is becoming so important in psychometrics and in other fields of study. Answers to questions are found by looking at numerous studies, all of which have biases, artifacts and other problems. It then becomes necessary by using meta-analyses to combine all of the studies together to find the real correlations. Wills of course is aware of this fact, and that is why I can flatly state he is lying. Sentences like the first one in this paragraph are never used in academically reviewed journals and books because they are patently false. In science, it is again the preponderance of evidence from numerous sources and perspectives that wins out in the end. And today, January 1, 2001, the hereditary view of intelligence has gained significant ground since The Bell Curve.
Back to Devlin and his findings. I tried to find follow-up research to sustain his work to no avail. It was summarily debunked or ignored by other academics and we are back to the genetic contribution to intelligence on the order of 60 to 80%. But the pendulum keeps moving towards genetics and away from environment as causation between race differences in intelligence. In the last few years, more precise morphological data acquired has continued to show real differences between races. Now, with sophisticated means of measuring brain sizes like MRI, along with specific parts of the brain, we know that less intelligent people do in fact have smaller brains on average than more intelligent people (and racial groups). A recent study of Australian Aborigines has shown that they have superior "visual memory" and the visual cortex of their brain is about 25% larger than in other groups. This ability came about through selection pressures over 80,000 years where they had to be able to navigate the trackless wastes of Australia. But on the down side, their overall brain sizes are about 85% that of the European brain. Ergo their low average IQs.
Wills will continue to hope that all the races will disappear before we have a definitive answer with regards to intelligence and race. But that does not look very promising now that the Human Genome Project and other advanced technologies are hard at work collecting the hard evidence needed to put the cultural determinists finally to rest. Genetics is now within our immediate view, not just the phenotypic expression. Shortly, we will know exactly which genes and gene alleles are responsible for intelligence, and we will be able to look directly at the genetic frequency of alleles by race. When that happens, the absurd notion that breeding Aborigines with Japanese will produce some superior racial polymorphism will finally be exposed as a sham and nothing more than an attempt to destroy racial cultures because they get in the way of the neo-totalitarians desire for a world of mediocrity where they will have total control over the minds and lives of the masses.
In his book, The Holocaust Industry, Norman Finkelstein states:
Indeed, The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world's most formidable military powers, with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a "victim" state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States has likewise acquired victim status. Considerable dividends accrue from this specious victimhood---in particular, immunity to criticism, however justified. Those enjoying this immunity, I might add, have not escaped the moral corruptions that typically attend it. . . . Indeed, the secular success story of American Jewry validated a core---perhaps the sole---tenet of their newly acquired identity as Jews. Who could any longer dispute that Jews were a "chosen" people? In A Certain People: American Jews and Their Lives Today, Charles Silberman---himself a born-again Jew---typically gushes: "Jews would have been less than human had they eschewed any notion of superiority altogether," and "it is extraordinarily difficult for American Jews to expunge the sense of superiority altogether, however much they may try to suppress it." What an American Jewish child inherits, according to novelist Philip Roth, is "no body of law, no body of learning and no language, and finally, no Lord . . . but a kind of psychology: and the psychology can be translated in three words: 'Jews are better.'" As will be seen presently, The Holocaust was the negative version of their vaunted worldly success: it served to validate Jewish chosenness.