Negotiating the gap

Open Behavioral Genetics, 2014

Abstract

This essay presents four academics—Richard Dawkins, Claude Lévi-Strauss, John Tooby, and Leda Cosmides—and how they negotiated the gap between personal conviction and mainstream discourse. All four came to the conclusion that human populations differ not only anatomically but also in various mental and behavioral predispositions. These differences are statistical and often apparent only between large groups of people. But even a weak statistical difference can affect how a society will develop and organize itself. Human biodiversity is therefore a reality, and one we ignore at our peril. How, then, should one negotiate this gap? Of the above academics, Claude Lévi-Strauss made the fewest compromises, whereas the others chose various mixed messages, perhaps hoping that someone else would pick up the ball and run with it. Today, the question remains unanswered. How can one get the message across without being penalized? There are no easy answers, and that may be part of the problem. Too many people are looking for answers that are easy—that cost little in terms of reputation, career prospects, or acceptance at the next cocktail party. Why not instead assume that everything worthwhile has a cost and then look for ways to minimize the cost?

Keywords
antiracism, Claude Lévi-Strauss, gene-culture co-evolution, human behavior, human genetics, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides, Richard Dawkins

Reviewed by
Davide Piffer, John Fuerst, Meng Hu

Review time 32 days.