I’m enjoying these Steve Sailer book reviews on Amazon.com:
Dinesh D’Souza — The End of Racism : Principles for a Multiracial Society
4 out of 5 stars Excellent on the little questions, dubious on the big ones
October 11, 1998
It’s ironic that liberal critics dumped so heavily on D’Souza, because he built his book around a series of assumptions about race that are straight from the liberal conventional wisdom on the subject. In fact, the parts of his book that liberals objected to most vehemently stem logically from his application of politically correct principles. Here are the disastrous assumptions that drained much of the value from a book so chock-full of information and intelligence about minor matters (e.g., his discussion of rational discrimination by cab-drivers is excellent). D’Souza’s assumptions:
1. That the word “racism” is still a useful and meaningful term. In contrast, I would suggest that “racism” has become to the 90’s what “unAmericanism” was to the 50’s: a smear word intended to shut off logical thought.
2. That whites invented racism. In contrast, I would suggest that favoring those who are genetically related to you, and disfavoring those who aren’t is a human universal. Its origin lies in a form of natural selection called kinship selection, which encourages us to favor the reproductive success of our genes not only within our own bodies, but within the bodies of people we share those genes with. See William Hamilton or Richard Dawkins [The Selfish Gene] for the math.
3. That the definition of a “racist” is someone who believes there are genetic differences among the races. This is the exact equivalent of a 19th century bishop saying that the definition of a “sinner” is someone who believes humans are descended from apes. The question of genetic differences is an empirical issue, not a matter of faith. That people who are married to a member of another race very often believe in the importance of genetic differences should give anybody pause who tries to glibly equate racist and hereditarian.
4. That behavioral differences among races stem solely from cultural differences. Obviously, this culture-only dogma begs the question of where cultural differences came from. Also obviously, the evidence for genetic differences among races is overwhelming, as any honest man who watches sports on TV can testify. In fact, D’Souza provides an excellent summary of some of the evidence for the reality and significance of genetic differences … then simply rejects it all with no more explanation that that it’s “too suspect to count.”
5. That because genetics counts for nothing, everything that’s wrong with black society today is the result of black culture. This is what drove so many blacks and white liberals into frothing rages over the book. In contrast, a realist perspective would suggest a much more positive perspective on African-American culture. Much of what’s distinctive about African-American culture is descended from West African culture, which is, from the Darwinian point of view of reproductive success, a rational adjustment to conditions prevailing in West Africa in ages past. Unlike in the cold north, where male hunters provided most of the food to survive the winter and thus wives were expensive, in West Africa most women could gather enough to feed themselves and their children year-round, making husbands into expensive luxuries, who had to justify themselves by being sexy. This economic fact of life allowed men to have more wives than was affordable in hunting-dependent climes. The affordability of having many wives increases the competition among men, which manifested itself both in fighting among men and in wooing of women via talk, song, dance, etc. (The African-American pimp-ho relationship is an extreme version of this.) The male losers in these struggles failed to pass on their genes, while the winners had lots of kids who would carry onward their genes for muscularity (useful in fighting other men), handsomeness, charisma and improvisational ability (useful both in becoming a leader of men, and in attracting women).
Thus, the economic situation inherent in West Africa became embedded over time in the genes, producing a race that’s especially talented at physically competing against other men for women and in charming women. Thus, African-American culture is hardly the all-around bleak failure described by D’Souza, but is outstanding at producing personalities to fill many of the most popular roles in American society: athlete, entertainer, Army general, politician, preacher, plaintiff’s attorney, etc. It’s failings are largely the flip side of its successes. The high crime rate, for example, stems from the same high degree of masculinity, which makes African-Americans good soldiers and great athletes.
This is not to say that, for instance, today’s high crime rate among blacks is permanent. It suggests, however, that solutions will have to be crafted that take into account black’s higher degree of masculinity, and try to direct that potent energy into socially positive directions. That’s why the highly masculine Army, for example, succeeds better at giving blacks the values they need to succeed than do do-gooder programs. Similarly, the black advantage over whites at mental improvisation (so visible in basketball, jazz, preaching, rap, etc.) suggests that blacks would tend to do best at jobs like sales where improvisatory ability and male charisma are most valuable.
Michael Levin — Why Race Matters
3 out of 5 stars Decimates racial cant, but has little to offer in its place
October 11, 1998
One positive long term trend in intellectual life is that some philosophers are growing bored with rehashing the Western philosophical tradition for the Nth time, and are instead turning loose their powerful analytical minds on real world problems. Levin, a professor of philosophy at CCNY in Harlem, grapples with an extremely street-level issue: why do African-Americans commit violent felonies almost an order of magnitude more often than other Americans? A frequent victim of muggings by blacks himself, Levin offers a simple answer: blacks tend to be less intelligent and more impulsive. It’s certainly bracing to watch Levin simply destroy the conventional wisdom on the subject. Nonetheless, it appears to me that Levin’s personal experience at the hands of black muggers leaves him uninterested in trying to think of much to do about black crime. In 1930 whites outnumbered blacks in prison by 3.5 to 1. The Great Leap Forward in black crime occurred in the mid-60’s. Was the cause the civil rights revolution, the increase in welfare payments, the drug wave, or what? These non-genetic questions are very relevant today, but Levin has little to say about the historical record. Whether Levin likes it or not, we’re all in this together, and we’re not going to get out of it without an approach that’s both realistic and pro-black.
J.P. Rushton — Race, Evolution and Behavior : A Life History Perspective
5 out of 5 stars Rushton’s Rule: African –> European –> East Asian
October 11, 1998
One of the most obvious features of multiethnic society in North America today is that on a host of dimensions, both physical and behavioral, people of black African descent and people of East Asian descent tend to fall at opposite ends of the spectrum, with whites tending to occupy the mediocre middle. This is clearly evident in sports, muscularity, crime, popular entertainment, technology, even interracial marriage, where 72% of black-white marriages are black husband-white wife, while 72% of white-Asian marriages are white husband-Asian wife (1990 Census).
Even though many people have noticed this pattern, Rushton deserves a huge amount of credit for putting it in print. Sadly, we live in an era whose motto seems to be “Remain oblivious to the obvious”. Rushton has had to endure Orwellian persecutions for his contribution to scholarship.