I just began my tourâ€”my bookâ€™s been out one weekâ€”and itâ€™s been a great ride with only a few speed bumps. The only prickly issue has been the debate over â€œrace.â€ After all, my book came out in the wake of James Watsonâ€™s comments about Africa and blacks that led to his public self-immolation.
â€œRaceâ€ IS a thread throughout my book. Itâ€™s not that I endorse the conceptâ€”itâ€™s a slippery term with lots of not-so-nice historical baggage. But I discuss it throughout. You have to if your reviewing the history of the Israelites and Jews. Humans are different because of their geographical roots, and evolution. How do we talk about it? Thatâ€™s the challenge. In a previous book, Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why Weâ€™re Afraid to Talk About It, I managed to navigate the debate over â€œraceâ€ and genetic differences pretty well. I pointed out, for example, that 494 of the top 500 of the all time fastest 100 meter times are held by a runner of primarily West African ancestry (thatâ€™s almost all African Americans, for example); yet West Africans are terrible, at the elite level, in distance running. The flip is true of East Africans, such as Kenyans: great distance runners, lousy sprinters. Itâ€™s â€œin the genesâ€--the way evolution has shaped different ancestral populations (letâ€™s get off this simplistic black/white stuff). Even recent intermixing of â€œracesâ€ hasnâ€™t wiped out SOME deep differences.
Abrahamâ€™s Children extends the debate to the issue of disease proclivities, which is the real focus of human genome research. I raise that critically important subject by discussing, and in one chapter, Jewish IQ. So far, the public reaction has been civil. I talked before a packed house at CalTech in Pasadena in an event sponsored by the Skeptic Society. Nothing was off limits there, and we had an open debate. Then I moved on to DC., where I spoke at the American Enterprise Institute. The ideological spectrum was represented on the panel, and it too was civil. Then the Washington Post wrote an article on it: Nature or Nurture? Well, Smart Guy? From a â€˜no publicity is badâ€™ standpoint it was great, but it was snarky, suggesting that the entire book (and the forum) was focused on Jews staring at their navels â€” e.g. A Jewish obsession with their intelligence. It was just another way to avoid talking about a central theme of the book: human biodiversity, which is the most important focus of human genome research. The Post missed the story, in the same way most journalists missed the Watson store. Distort the story. While we on the panel mostly talked about the effort to find a new language to discuss racial differences in medicine, the Post turned into Borscht Belt schtick. Oy Vey. Thatâ€™s what happens when you go on the road.
For more information, visit my website: www.abrahamschildren.net