[evol-psych] Post modernism and anti-science thinking
Friday, January 28, 2000
THE BLACK EDGE
Are athletes of African descent genetically superior?
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By Gary Kamiya
As both black athletic domination and our knowledge of genetics,
physical anthropology and physiology
have grown, it has become increasingly hard to assert that environmental
factors alone can explain black
superiority in sports. Jon Entine's "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate
Sports and Why We Are Afraid
to Talk About It" will make it even harder.
In support of his thesis, Entine relies on two different bodies of
evidence: the undeniable, but
scientifically "soft," record of black athletic achievement, and the
still contested but increasingly
accepted theories of anthropologists, physiologists and geneticists.
Neither alone is decisive, but
taken together, they are -- to a layman -- pretty convincing. Most
important of all, Entine refutes
the idea that there is any sinister corollary to black genetic
superiority in athletics.
It might be objected that Entine's entire argument is conceptually
flawed from the outset, because
"race" itself is a meaningless concept. In a lucid discussion, Entine
demolishes the voguish
assertion that "there's no such thing as race," explaining that the
argument over the word is little
more than semantic. "Limiting the rhetorical use of folk categories such
as race, an admirable goal,
is not going to make the patterned biological variation on which they
are based disappear," he argues.
Entine takes several gratifying swings at postmodern academic fog
machines, who in their scholastic
zeal to make sure everything comes out racially rosy simply throw
science overboard. As Entine argues
again and again in "Taboo," the mere fact that legitimate arguments may
also have been advanced by
racists, or that scientific facts may play into invidious stereotypes,
is not sufficient reason to abandon
those arguments or deny those facts. The mania against "essentialism,"
taken to its logical extreme, is
nothing but an assault on the spirit of scientific inquiry itself.
It's hard to regard Entine as having dubious motives for writing this
book. He approaches the subject
with neutral curiosity about the fascinating variety of the human race.
But despite this, "Taboo" is
certain to provoke cries of outrage in some quarters.
READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW AT:
6178 Grey Rock Rd.
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Author of "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are
Afraid to Talk About It" (PublicAffairs], available January 2000;