Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond and Anthropology

     Ok, Anthropology, one day after my post on Nicholas Wade, and that post gets more hits than the last five or six posts here put together.  I get it, you like Nicholas Wade, and especially complaining about him.  You don’t like biological reductionism, and think that such studies are used to reinforce racist ideologies.  For what it is worth, I more or less agree.

But for some reason you don’t want to read stuff that critiques biological reductionism on its own terms, and opt for those presented by the anthropology’s favorite bogeymen, which from recent activity in the blogosphere seem to include Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond, and Razib Khan. I know because I follow the hits on this blog, and my account, and the hit masters are those posts which mention those three names.  In contrast, my April 30 post about six inches below this post is doing realtively poorly, as is the article it mentions “Of Looking Glasses and Mirror Neurons….” Which was published last month in Perspectives on Science.  It is about The Looking Glass Self, a fantastic concept from sociology, and the advantages of using it rather than that favorite of the biological world, The Mirror Neuron Hypothesis.  Please read this rather than the latest diatribe about Nicholas Wade, or the others.

And if you want a further dose of social scientific critique of biological data, go read Jonathan Marks What it Means to be 98% Chimpanzee, and Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man.  It is better to read these classics, then to spend time complaining about the latest from Nicholas Wade or Jared Diamond.  There are plenty more great citations to social scientists like Susan Engel, Omar Lizardo, Timothy Ingold, Richard Wilkinson, Pierre Bourdiue in the bibliography of my article—believe me sociology and anthropology are in an excellent position to create an alternative to biological reductionism—just do it!

Anthropology is a wonderful subject—show the world how wonderful it is by practicing it, and have the confidence that the rest of the world will notice.  I certainly have.


9 Responses to “Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond and Anthropology”

  1. Magus Janus says:

    I thought Gould had been proven a fraud? Curious that you would cite him of all people as an example….

  2. Tony says:

    Gould misused data for one part of his argument, which is different than saying that the logic behind his argument is fraudulent. I would encourage you to read the whole book which is about the nature of scientific reasoning, rather than the results of any one experiment.

  3. John Smith says:

    Gould did more than simply misuse data. He was guilty of doing exactly that which he was accusing Morton of. Gould wasnt just a liar; he was a hypocrite.

  4. Tony Waters says:

    John Smith: I see you are using the old “change the subject”rhetorical technique along with what is probably a pseudonym. Neither is a particularly effective debating technique.

    As for hypocrisy it is a universal characteristic–hardly a reason to dismiss a 400+ page long argument.

    Have you read Gould yourself? I did last semester, and still highly recommend it to my students, etc. I especially recommend the chapter on factor analysis. I also pointed out the critique you and Magus Janus point to.

  5. […] – see also Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond and Anthropology from tony […]

  6. Jennifer says:

    “Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man”


    Gould has been proven to be a complete fraud:

  7. […] Waters engages in a little pointing and sputtering, “racist,” and then recommends Gould (yea, this fraud), as a […]

  8. Tony Waters says:

    Whoa, seems I’ve attracted some people who don’t like Gould, and unlike Gould don’t use their name.

    It is apparent they haven’t read Gould. I wonder if they have also not read the four or five other books I recommend in my post.

  9. […] see also Nicholas Wade, Jared Diamond and Anthropology from tony […]

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