Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dobbs attacks Wade some more

Here is the next paragraph in Dobbs criticism of Wade:

"Wade builds much of his case around historical ideas like Gregory Clark’s hypothesis about English breeding; the political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s notion that Western democracies represent a high point in the evolution of social institutions; and the economic historian Niall Ferguson’s view that the West “succeeded because it was an open society.” These values and institutions, Wade says, were both shaped by and drove the evolution of Caucasian genes."

Here is what Wade actually writes:  ". . . each race has developed the institutions appropriate to secure survival in its particular environment.  This, then, is the most significant feature of human races: not that their members differ much as individuals -- they don't -- but that their society's institutions differ because of slight differences in social behavior.

"A landmark analysis of human history in terms of social institutions has recently been written by the political scientist Francis Fukuyama.  Fukuyama has nothing to say about race but his thesis, describing how each of the major civilizations adapted its institutions to its local geography and historical circumstances, provides a road map of human social adaptation and the different paths taken by each civilization. 

"Fukuyama's premise, like that of North quoted above, is that institutions are rooted in human social behavior.  'The recovery of human nature by modern biology . . . is extremely important as a foundation for any theory of political development, because it provides us with the basic building blocks by which we can understand the later evolution of human institutions,' he writes."

Wade's discussion of Fukuyama's applicable ideas seem logical and benign to me.  Fukuyama's ideas as quoted are consistent with ideas of natural selection.  I don't read Wade as "conjecturing" so much as drawing attention to a parallel between social and physical science.  I have encountered other writers doing this sort of thing, Bryan Sykes for example in The Seven Daughters of Eve, subtitled "The Science that Reveals our Genetic Ancestry," who makes use of anthropology, history and archaeology.

I've watched National Geographic-type documentaries where someone is showing life evolving, shaped by its environment.  It seems a bit excessive to criticize Wade for doing something similar.

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