This sort of thing has a lot to do with why, if I could do it over again, I wouldn’t have bothered with anthropology. Reading a review like Jon Marks on A Troublesome Inheritance, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that refusing to consider the implications of Wade’s argument has everything to do with protecting the academic turf anthropologists have carved out, and nothing to do with scientific inquiry or truth.
It would be one thing if Marks just thought Wade was wrong; he’s a geneticist (as is Greg Cochran, who was also unnerved by some of the sources), Wade isn’t. But he doesn’t even bother to argue with the thing, he just calls it “idiocy,” “fundamentally anti-intellectual,” and “as crassly anti-science as any work of climate-change denial or creationism.”
If you’re paying attention, Marks tells us what this is actually about: “Wade’s book is of a piece with a long tradition of disreputable attempts to rationalize visible class distinctions by recourse to invisible natural properties.”
What really chaps the good professor’s ass is that Wade has violated political dogmas, not scientific ones — because genetics itself, to Marks, is a political dogma. I’m not exaggerating.
Note that the review also appears in a labor rag. And that he once tried to get someone fired over Wade’s invitation to speak at a Leakey Foundation audience on one of his earlier books. And that Savage Minds has declared war on A Troublesome Inheritance, in between unbelievably stupid posts about anthropologists as “scholarly hipsters.”
The AAA debate between Wade and Agustín Fuentes is online, and can be streamed here. It’s worth a watch. More debate here, and here’s Steve Sailer’s old piece on reading Marks’ Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race, and History.
I also can’t resist linking to this epic rant from A.J. West back in January on why he regrets studying socio-cultural anthropology:
I want to emphasise that I am not in any way a political conservative and I don’t oppose the social and political aims that have become entrenched parts of anthropology departments. But I don’t think those aims are what anthropology is about, I don’t think obscurantist pseudo-philosophy is a good way to achieve them, and I don’t think writing obscure academic texts about how humans are now trans-human feminist cyborgs empowers minority groups or the working class, or achieves any worthwhile aim in any sphere of human activity.