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A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,276 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Drawing on startling new evidence from the human genome, an explosive new account of the genetic basis of race and its role in the human story

Fewer ideas have been more toxic or harmful than the idea of the biological reality of race, and with it the idea that humans of different races are biologically different from one another. For this understandable reason, the idea h
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Penguin Press
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Michelle The book is questioning beliefs from the community of social scientists that humankind all emerged from Africa and went separate ways but experiences …moreThe book is questioning beliefs from the community of social scientists that humankind all emerged from Africa and went separate ways but experiences and environments did NOT cause any further evolution of people's intelligence (for one thing) and they merely began to look different on the outside only.
If you mean it is racist to consider differences between people then you might think it is. I do not in any manner think there is any racist intent in the book.
I think it is interesting to ponder these questions. Reviews I have seen make the case that 'no human evolution' once people left Africa is a sacred concept or something. A clue is the supposition that some people are smarter than others.(less)

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Brad Foley
Jun 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
I wanted to give this book a 2, simply because when Wade actually writes about science here his writing was (mostly) clear, and while simplistic, largely factually correct. But most of "Troublesome" was fact-free speculation. Not only did Wade fail to achieve his stated goals in "Troublesome" (showing that ongoing evolution has shaped culture in the last 10K years), he scored a number of outrageous own-goals in the process.

And let's be clear, I expected to like this book. I'm a behavioral geneti
Fletcher Gordon
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It will be very interesting to see how the mainstream media reacts to this work: furious denunciation (possible), studied non-attention (possible), or thoughtful analysis (unlikely, but possible).

Virtually the entire edifice of social-policy conventional wisdom depends on holding fast to the orthodox faith that "Race is a social construct." Even questioning this to the tiniest degree will basically get you labelled a Nazi. Heavily ideological thought enforcers from Franz Boas through Stephen Jay
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am grateful to have been provided an advance uncorrected proof of this book from and The Penguin Press.

As a Social Sciences graduate, I've long wondered why "race" is a taboo subject in the USA and other Western societies. Somehow the unwritten rule is that to acknowledge the concept of race, to study it, to define it, even to discuss it, is equivalent to the exaltation of some human groups and the vilification of others. This important (in my humble opinion) new book both puts f
E. Kahn
Jun 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
288 pages of "I'm not racist, but..." ...more
Sep 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Moved to ...more
Deborah Halliday
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
A Troublesome Inheritance is a troublesome book. It is troublesome not because it presents a theory that different races, ethnicities, and human populations exhibit different social behaviors due to genetic inheritance, and that evolution of differing genes govern social behavior, but because it bases these claims on shaky ground surrounded by legitimate history and science. The author attempts to stave off criticism by telling us that today any hint of a genetic basis for cultural difference is ...more
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Four stars, not because the author never ventures onto "shaky ground" but because he does so and does it skillfully. Actually, his arguments are brilliant and I can't wait for academia to attempt to disprove some of his more speculative arguments. He asserts in the opening of the book that speculation and attempting to prove or disprove it is what leads science. It's no different than Jared Diamond's speculation in Guns, Germs, and Steel to which the author responds to (albeit several years late ...more
Scott Rhee
Sep 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, anthropolgy
Science has always been politically charged. Just ask Copernicus, Galileo, and Darwin. Politics and religion have no place within science, but, unfortunately, politicians and religious leaders have, throughout the ages, forced their way into fields of expertise that they know little to nothing about. This has led to many egregious examples of pseudo-science or bad science being conducted in the name of politics and religion.

Science writing, a field of journalism that has probably never been giv
Seema Singh
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a thought provoking book. So much of logic and good science. It is considered to he controversial but for people with an open mind, it will be worth reading.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
While I read this book--especially the first half--I found much of it to be interesting, almost revelatory. But the second half is so utterly awful that it made me doubt everything else, rendering the book almost entirely worthless.

Here's how this works: the first half surveys the scientific evidence of actual differences among the various human races. (The races are all human, i.e., of the same species. But variety exists as a biological fact. I don't see much of a problem with that when one is
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
I'm not sure feno- and genotypes have been distinguished by the author well enough to write an informed research on this. ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
A Troublesome Inheritance poses some ideas that race is not only very clearly defined genetically, but that these distinctions in DNA account for not just the physical characteristics of certain populations, but also some of the social and cultural behaviours.
The book frequently misrepresents much of the work that is used to defend his assertion that recent evolution within so-called races explains why certain people appear to be better or worse at certain things. According to Wade, the English
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author simply states what seems obvious: We are in significant part a product of our genes, we are influenced by our environment but nature plays a role as well as nurture. Our genetics play a role in our emotional characteristics (violence, trust, time frame for gratification, etc.) as well as our physical appearance. That over the past hundreds of thousands of years evolution has shaped man and when we became separated there was divergence among people creating different races. He creates ...more
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This poor, scared man gets five stars because:

"Another kind of flaw occurs when universities allow a whole field of scholars to drift politically to the left or to the right. Either direction is equally injurious to the truth, but at present most university departments lean strongly to the left. Any researcher who even discusses issues politically offensive to the left runs the risk of antagonizing the professional colleagues who must approve his requests for government funds and review his arti
Billy Roper
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Nicholas Wade walks up to the line of political correctness and kicks it with this controversially honest look at the reality that, as we all know in our heart of hearts, Genes-R-Us. Just as species exist despite the fact that lions and tigers or donkeys and zebras can mate and reproduce, so do races, and so do ethnicities. In fact, equality is a social construct, not a biological reality.

Others, such as Rushton, have gone further than Wade in researching what role our genetic inheritance plays
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an important book to firmly reestablish that race is indeed a genetic reality. Political ideology has stood in the way of science for far too long and it has been detrimental to human progress. I have been studying genome mapping with an emphasis on ancient DNA, so I was familiar with much of the material.
Nicolas Wade presents an introduction to some of the important genetic studies that have laid waste to the false race is just a social construct theory. Things are presented in a clear
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
First of all, it took cajones to write this book and even though I'm not 100% sure how much I agree with Wade I respect the hell out of him for having the guts to write this. Our culture is far too touchy about issues about race and sex and we really need science to beyond that. In a country where most people don't even believe in evolution the last thing we need is science pussyfooting around it's implications.

I was disappointed that he didn't talk more explicitly about epigenetics. That's rea
This is scientific racism.
It defies logic that this is still being published in 2018-oops published in 2014.
In what reasonable mind are Africans more aggressive than Europeans? White men are *the* most aggressive people in recorded History.
Seriously, why are white people like this?
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A most important book to be read by those who are looking for the way the world really exists. In other words how humans have evolved since leaving Africa about 50000 years ago as told by the evidence recorded in the human genome.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I experienced this book in audio. This is a really good audio presentation that is easy to follow, and very concise. The general theme of this book is that all men ARE NOT created equally. This author uses genetics, evolution, and cultural comparisons to substantiate his contention that, not only is each man created uniquely, but races also differ substantially.

The author laments that modern scientists too quickly discard racial research for fear of triggering social tensions. But the author’s
Alexander Kosoris
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I’m very torn with this book.

On the one hand, I felt it was a thoughtful exploration as to how genetics affects different ethnicities and culture. On the other, most of what is discussed at length is merely speculation––luckily, acknowledged by the author. Wade takes the time to explain the historical basis of discussion and research pertaining to race, along with the obvious cans of worms that open up as a result. Of course, this comes as the explanation for the dearth of information surroundin
Mar 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Ugh. Honestly, he lost be completely about 75 pages in when he insisted on the very outdated idea that humans first migrated into the Americas no more than 15,000 years ago. Despite various sites dated to, at most, 30,000 years old and on average 20,000 years old. If he can't get that right, what hope did the rest of his book have? What Wade is offering is essentially a theory of economic and social inequality, explaining systematic racial differences in prosperity based on a combination of inna ...more
Alan Marchant
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, science
A Troublesome Inheritance addresses a very small scientific question, the nature and significance of race in the human species. But because this has been literally a taboo topic for the past generation, science writer Nicholas Wade deserves praise for his substantive effort to illuminate it from several perspectives. His oft repeated thesis is, "human evolution has been recent, copious, and regional." The book is remarkable for synthesizing recent research from a very broad range of disciplines ...more
Jeremy Yoder
May 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
From my review for The Molecular Ecologist:

Knowing what I do of evolutionary genetics, and of how our judgments about the visible differences among human populations have shifted over time, I’m far more inclined to think that the social, economic, and cultural differences among human societies are products not of our genes, but of how we treat each other.

Wade’s inclinations are, quite obviously, different from mine. However, comparing Wade’s claims to the scientific work he cites, I find it hard
Dec 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This book should come with a warning label. "Contains swill and tripe of the most vile kind, read at your own risk." I couldn't finish it. The author seems hell-bent on proving his supposition that Northern European descendant humans are genetically better than Black Africans. He repeatedly sites lactose tolerance as "evidence" and his literature review of 150 year old science is laughable considering what we know about genetics today. Readers interested in this topic would be better served with ...more
Bryce Anderson
I read this because I heard it was divisive. It is. it starts with about 6 chapters of "see I'm not racist look at the science I know" before going into "but isn't it funny how I've found genetic reasons for racist stereotypes?" and then finishing with hints of an incoming race war. For every point he makes that is tenable it's followed by more that almost certainly have roots in racism. Ever few generations we get new science that people with racist thoughts will try to use to justify their bel ...more
Erica Strand
Jul 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book is completely racist. Wade basically argues that white people are intellectually superior to black and brown people. The problem is: all the measurements of intellect are devised by white people.
Vagabond of Letters, DLitt
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
'Darwin's perpetually disturbing theory obeys no one's religious or political beliefs... if evolution can not halt, then history must proceed within its framework and be subject to evolutionary change.
'Knowledge is...a better basis for policy than ignorance.' (p251)
Because human evolution is regional, copious, and recent.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Excellent book describing how genetics affects and interacts with culture to result in distinctly different societies.

The author starts out aserting that decoding of the human genome has provided evidence that “human evolution is a continuous process that has proceeded... throughout the historical period and up until the present day... No less than 14% of the human genome, according to one estimate, has changed under recent evolutionary pressure.”

The major races, adapting to different challenge
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45 likes · 12 comments
“Though there is still a large random element, the broad general theme of human history is that each race has developed the institutions appropriate to secure survival in its particular environment. This, then, is the most significant feature of human races: not that their members differ in physical appearance but that their society’s institutions differ because of slight differences in social behavior.” 6 likes
“Politically oriented scientists often proclaim that there are no distinct human races, seeking to imply, without actually saying so, that races do not exist. One reason that races exist, though not distinctly, is that the features characteristic of a race are often distributed along a gradient. Almost all northern Chinese have the sinodont pattern of dentition, but the farther one goes toward southern China and Southeast Asia, the greater the percentage of people who are sundadonts and the fewer who are sinodonts.” 5 likes
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