I want to thank Kambiz for the kind introduction. For those of you not familiar with my name, I had a previous book that addressed issues of interest to the anthropology community: Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It (Public Affairs, 2000). It was generally received well, with good reviews in The New York Times, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and Scientific American, among others, but it certainly came in for fire from cultural anthropologists. I committed the biggest atrocity known to modern cultural anthropologists and post-modernists: finding genetic legitimacy in the folk concept of “race.”
The research into “race” has evolved significantly in seven years with sophisticated haplotype, such as one by studies by Neil Risch and Esteban Burchard. Humanity is in the early stages of a biotechnological revolution that is transforming our understanding of the nature of human nature––the commonalities that bind us, but also the differences that confer uniqueness in individuals and often distinguish one group from another. We are far from understanding either the genetic makeup or the origins of complex traits, from behavior to intelligence. Because of the blur of culture and the environment, we may never be able to do so completely. But we are getting closer, and this is not just fanciful speculation.
Our collective challenge is what we do with these nuanced notions of race and racial stereotypes. Armand Marie Leroi, the respected evolutionary developmental biologist at Imperial College in London has written:
“Race is merely a shorthand to enable us to speak sensibly, though with no great precision, about genetic rather than cultural or political differences. But it is shorthand that seems to be needed. One of the more painful spectacles of modern science is that of human geneticists piously disavowing the existence of races even as they investigate the genetic relationships between ‘ethnic groups’.”
I’d appreciate some feedback from readers of this site.