[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

Tom Tobin korpios at korpios.com
Sat Feb 2 16:19:10 UTC 2008

On 2/2/08, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:
> I find myself uneasy with the sweeping conclusions in this book.
> I don't think genetics changes the population quickly enough to be the
> *sole* cause of the Industrial Revolution in the UK. He is effectively
> claiming that the UK race is genetically bred to rule the world. Isn't
> that what they call 'racism'?

Caveat: I haven't read the book (yet — just dropped it on my to-read
list).  Assuming its conclusions are invalid (merely for sake of the
instant discussion), I'd be inclined to call it "bad science" rather
than "racism".  "Racism" is a cognitive "stop word" that tells us
"stop thinking".  Whether or not there are differences between
"races", and furthermore whether or not we can even meaningfully
describe what a "race" is — these are *factual* questions, not moral
ones, and they should be studied with an open mind.  Neither a racial
supremacist nor an "enlightened" scientist does the world any favors
by ignoring evidence that contradicts their ideals.

I haven't read "Guns, Germs, and Steel" yet, either, but it strikes me
as a more appropriate way of approaching the issue: offering an
alternative argument that may be better supported by the data
currently available.  Of course, for all I know, any of these
arguments — _Alms_, _Guns_, etc. — may have been written in bad faith,
with an intended conclusion in mind before research began.  (Such is
the way with much "science", I'm afraid.)

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