Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Razib Khan, National Geographic & Race

The "races of Europe" created by Gilbert Grovsenor for National Geographic
In January 2016 in his Unz site column, Razib Khan responded to someone who wanted to promote the notion of "human biodiversity" and proof of intelligence based on race by writing:
honestly i would just sit on my hands for now. in the next < 5 years the genomic components of traits like intelligence will finally be characterized. this is not speculation, but anticipation based on research going on now.
Which would appear to indicate that Razib Khan holds out great hopes for genomic evidence for race-based intelligence.

Elsewhere in the same Unz column, Khan wrote:

A different section of statement relays Fisher’s view of the empirical realities, which would make him extremely unpopular today:

Sir Ronald Fisher has one fundamental objection to the Statement, which, as he himself says, destroys the very spirit of the whole document. He believes that human groups differ profoundly “in their innate capacity for intellectual and emotional development” and concludes from this that the “practical international problem is that of learning to share the resources of this planet amicably with persons of materially different nature, and that this problem is being obscured by entirely well intentioned efforts to minimize the real differences that exist”.

But it's odd that Khan considers Fisher's beliefs to be "empirical realities" (although regrettably unpopular ones) when Fisher's understanding of race must have been formed by the race map above, which classifies the French as "Greco-Latins" while the Germans are classified as "Teutons" (along with the British) and meanwhile Khan says in 2017:
“French-German” is a cluster almost certainly because there are no clear and distinct genetic differences between French and Germans. 
So other than agreeing that "race" exists, Khan's understanding of who is which race based on genetic evidence is completely different from Fisher's "empirical realities." And this doesn't seem to concern Khan in the least. It seems as though, so long as one is a true believer in the vague concept of "race" it doesn't matter if the racial classifications themselves are all over the place.

Unlike Razib Khan, National Geographic appears to have rethought its position, not on who belongs to which racial group, but rather the existence of race itself. The map above is from National Geographic in 1918, but ninety-nine years later they published an article: Why Race Is Not a Thing, According to Genetics which is primarily an interview with geneticist Adam Rutherford who says:
In many ways, genetics makes a mockery of race. The characteristics of normal human variation we use to determine broad social categories of race—such as black, Asian, or white—are mostly things like skin color, morphological features, or hair texture, and those are all biologically encoded.

But when we look at the full genomes from people all over the world, those differences represent a tiny fraction of the differences between people. There is, for instance, more genetic diversity within Africa than in the rest of the world put together. If you take someone from Ethiopia and someone from the Sudan, they are more likely to be more genetically different from each other than either one of those people is to anyone else on the planet!
If I was Razib Khan, I wouldn't hold my breath about finding any stupidity markers on African genes any time soon.

Based on their Twitter interactions, Khan appears to be on much friendlier terms than I would have predicted with Rutherford, who was called a  “race denialist” this past August by “American Renaissance’s John “too racist for National Review” Derbyshire.

Khan and Derbyshire have a mutual admiration society going back to at least 2005.

And when Khan was dumped by the NYTimes Derbyshire spoke up for him.

Razib Khan believes that he is unfairly treated because of his racialist positions but I think a big factor in his career trajectory is that he is just not very bright, and people outside of the right-wing bubble are not so willing to forgive that.

Khan has spent much of his career impressing people who believe in white supremacy and he's apparently found that a convincing argument for his own brilliance. And so in his mind the only possible reason for his career failures are the dastardly machinations of the barbaric Left and the media.