They sought to study the human species from the perspective of zoology. In other words, they sought to adopt the disinterested perspective, and detachment, of, as Edward O Wilson was later to put it, “zoologists from another planet” (Sociobiology: The New Synthesis: p547).
Thus, Morris proposed cultivating:
“An attitude of humility that is becoming to proper scientific investigation… by deliberately and rather coyly approaching the human being as if he were another species, a strange form of life on the dissecting table” (p14-5).
In short, Morris proposed to study humans just as a zoologist would any other species of non-human animal.
Such an approach was an obvious affront to anthropocentric notions of human exceptionalism – and also a direct challenge to the rather less scientific approach of most sociologists, psychologists, social and cultural anthropologists and other such ‘professional damned fools’, who, at that time, almost all studied human behavior in isolation from, and largely ignorance of, biology, zoology, and the scientific study of the behavior of all animals other than humans.
As a result, such books inevitably attracted controversy and criticism. Such criticism, however, invariably missed the point.
The real problem was not that the ethologists sought to study human behavior in just the same way a zoologist would study the behavior of any nonhuman animal, but rather that the study of the behavior of nonhuman animals itself remained, at this time, very much in its infancy.
Thus, the field of animal behavior was to be revolutionized just a decade or so after the publication of ‘The Naked Ape’ by the approach that came to be known as, first, sociobiology, now more often as behavioral ecology, or, when applied to humans, evolutionary psychology.
Mathematical models, often drawn from economics and game theory, were increasingly employed. In short, behavioral biology was becoming a mature science.
In contrast, the earlier ethological tradition was, even at its best, very much a soft science.
Indeed, much such work, for example Jane Goodall’s rightly-celebrated studies of the chimpanzees of Gombe, was almost pre-scientific in its approach, involving observation, recording and description of behaviors, but rarely the actual testing or falsification of hypotheses.
Such research was obviously important. Indeed, Goodall’s was positively groundbreaking.
After all, the observation of the behavior or an organism is almost a prerequisite for the framing of hypotheses about the behavior of that organism, since hypotheses are, in practice, rarely generated in an informational vacuum from pure abstract theory.
However, such research was hardly characteristic of a mature and rigorous science.
When hypotheses regarding the evolutionary significance of behavior patterns were formulated by early ethologists, this was done on a rather casual ad hoc basis, involving a kind of ‘armchair adaptationism’, which could perhaps legitimately be dismissed as the spinning of, in Stephen Jay Gould’s famous phrase, ‘just so stories’.
Robert Wright picks out a good example of this crude group selectionism from ‘The Naked Ape’ itself, quoting Morris’s claim that, over the course of human evolution:
“To begin with, the males had to be sure that their females were going to be faithful to them when they left them alone to go hunting. So the females had to develop a pairing tendency” (p64).
To anyone schooled in the rudiments of Dawkinsian selfish gene theory, the fallacy should be obvious. But, just in case we didn’t spot it, Wright has picked it out for us:
“Stop right there. It was in the reproductive interests of the males for the females to develop a tendency toward fidelity? So natural selection obliged the males by making the necessary changes in the females? Morris never got around to explaining how, exactly, natural selection would perform this generous feat” (The Moral Animal: p56).
In reality, couples have a conflict of interest here, and the onus is clearly on the male to evolve some mechanism of mate-guarding, though a female might conceivably evolve some way to advertise her fidelity if, by so doing, she secured increased male parental investment and provisioning, hence increasing her own reproductive success.
The problems with ‘The Naked Ape’ begin in the very first chapter, where Morris announces, rather oddly, that, in studying the human animal, he is largely uninterested in the behavior of contemporary foraging groups or other so-called ‘primitive’ peoples. Thus, he bemoans:
“The earlier anthropologists rushed off to all kinds of unlikely corners of the world… scattering to remote cultural backwaters so atypical and unsuccessful that they are nearly extinct. They then returned with startling facts about the bizarre mating customs, strange kinship systems, or weird ritual procedures of these tribes, and used this material as though it were of central importance to the behaviour of our species as a whole. The work done by these investigators… did not tell us was anything about the typical behaviour of typical naked apes. This can only be done by examining the common behaviour patterns that are shared by all the ordinary, successful members of the major cultures-the mainstream specimens who together represent the vast majority. Biologically, this is the only sound approach” (p10).
Thus, today, political correctness has wholly banished the word ‘primitive’ from the anthropological lexicon. It is, modern anthropologists insist, demeaning and pejorative.
Indeed, post-Boasian cultural anthropologists in America typically reject the very notion that some societies are more advanced than others, championing instead a radical cultural relativism and insisting we have much to learn from the lifestyle and traditions of hunter-gatherers, foragers, savage cannibals and other such ‘indigenous peoples’.
Morris also rejects the term ‘primitive’ as a useful descriptor for hunter-gatherer and other technologically-backward peoples, but for diametrically opposite reasons.
Thus, for Morris, to describe foraging groups as ‘primitive’ is to rather give them altogether too much credit:
“The simple tribal groups that are living today are not primitive, they are stultified. Truly primitive tribes have not existed for thousands of years. The naked ape is essentially an exploratory species and any society that has failed to advance has in some sense failed, ‘gone wrong’. Something has happened to it to hold it back, something that is working against the natural tendencies of the species to explore and investigate the world around it” (p10).
Instead, Morris proposes to focus on contemporary western societies, declaring:
“North America… is biologically a very large and successful culture and can, without undue fear of distortion, be taken as representative of the modern naked ape” (p51)
It is indeed true that, with the diffusion of American media and consumer goods, American culture is fast becoming ubiquitous. However, this is a very recent development in historical terms, let alone on the evolutionary timescale of most interest to biologists.
Indeed, viewed historically and cross-culturally, it is we westerners who are the odd, aberrant ones.
In short, although we may inhabit western cities today, this is not the environment where we evolved, nor that to which our brains and bodies are primarily adapted.
Therefore, given that it represents the lifestyle of our ancestors during the period when most of our behavioral and bodily adaptations evolved, primitive peoples must necessarily have a special place in any evolutionary theory of human behaviour.
Indeed, Morris himself admits as much himself just a few pages later, where he acknowledges that:
“The fundamental patterns of behavior laid down in our early days as hunting apes still shine through all our affairs, no matter how lofty they may be” (p40).
Indeed, a major theme of ‘The Naked Ape’ is the extent to which the behaviour even of wealthy white westerners is nevertheless fundamentally shaped and dictated by the patterns of foraging set out in our ancient hunter-gatherer past.
Thus, Morris suggests that the pattern of men going out to work to financially provision wives and mothers who stay home with dependent offspring reflects the ancient role of men as hunters provisioning their wives and children:
“Behind the façade of modern city life there is the same old naked ape. Only the names have been changed: for ‘hunting’ read ‘working’, for ‘hunting grounds’ read ‘place of business’, for ‘home base’ read ‘house’, for ‘pair-bond’ read ‘marriage’, for ‘mate’ read ‘wife’, and so on” (p84).
In short, while we must explain the behaviors of contemporary westerners, no less than those of primitive foragers, in the light of Darwinian evolution, nevertheless all such behaviors must be explained ultimately in terms of adaptations that evolved over previous generations under very different conditions.
Indeed, in the sequel to ‘The Naked Ape’, Morris further focuses on this very point, arguing that modern cities, in particular, are unnatural environments for humans, rejecting the then-familiar description of cities as “concrete jungles” on the grounds that, whereas jungles are the “natural habitat” of animals, modern cities are very much an unnatural habitat for humans.
Instead, he argues, the better analogy for modern cities is a ‘Human Zoo’:
“The comparison we must make is not between the city dweller and the wild animal but between the city dweller and the captive animal. The city dweller is no longer living in conditions natural for his species. Trapped, not by a zoo collector, but by his own brainy brilliance, he has set himself up in a huge restless menagerie where he is in constant danger of cracking under the strain” (The Human Zoo: pvii).
Morris adopts what he calls a zoological approach. Thus, unlike modern evolutionary psychologists, he focuses as much on explaining our physiology as our behavior and psychology. Indeed, it is in explaining the peculiarities of human anatomy that Morris’s book is at his best.
This begins, appropriately enough, with the trait that gives him his preferred name for our species, and also furnishes his book with its title – namely our apparent nakedness or hairlessness.
Having justified calling us ‘The Naked Ape’ on zoological grounds, namely on the ground that this is the first thing the naturalist would notice upon observing our species, Morris then comes close to contradicting himself, admitting that we actually have more hairs on our bodies than do chimpanzees.
However, Morris summarily dispatches this objection:
“It is like saying that because a blind man has a pair of eyes, he is not blind. Functionally, we are stark naked and our skin is fully exposed” (p42).
Why then are we so strangely hairless? Neoteny, Morris proposes, provides part of the answer.
This refers to the tendency of humans to retain into maturity traits that are, in other primates, restricted to juveniles, nakedness among them.
Besides our hairlessness, other human anatomical features that have been explained either partly or wholly in terms of neoteny, whether by Morris or by other evolutionists, include our brain size, growth patterns, inventiveness, upright posture, spinal curvature, smaller jaws and teeth, forward facing vaginas, lack of a penis bone, the length of our limbs and the retention of the hymen into sexual maturity (see below). Indeed, many of these traits are explicitly discussed by Morris himself as resulting from neoteny.
However, while neoteny may supply the means by which our relative hairlessness evolved, it is not a sufficient explanation for why this development occurred, because, as Morris points out:
“The process of neoteny is one of the differential retarding of developmental processes” (p43).
In other words, humans are neotenous in respect of only some of our characters, not all of them. After all, an ape that remained infantile in all respects would never evolve, for the simple reason that it would never reach sexual maturity and hence remain unable to reproduce.
Instead, only certain specific juvenile or infantile traits are retained into adulthood, and the question then becomes why these specific traits were the ones chosen by natural selection to be retained.
Thus, Morris concludes:
“It is hardly likely… that an infantile trait as potentially dangerous as nakedness was going to be allowed to persist simply because other changes were slowing down unless it had some special value to the new species” (p43).
As to what this “special value” (i.e. selective advantage) might have been, Morris considers, in turn, various candidates.
One theory considered by Morris theory relates to our susceptibility to insect parasites.
Because humans, unlike many other primates, return to a home base to sleep most nights, we are, Morris reports, afflicted with fleas as well as lice (p28-9). Yet fur, Morris observes, is a good breeding ground for such parasites (p38-9).
Perhaps, then, Morris imagines, we might have evolved hairlessness in order to minimize the problems posed by such parasites.
However, Morris rejects this as an adequate explanation, since, he observes:
“Few other den dwelling mammals… have taken this step” (p43).
An alternative explanation implicates sexual selection in the evolution of human hairlessness.
Substantial sex differences in hairiness, as well as the retention of pubic hairs around the genitalia, suggests that sexual selection may indeed have played a role in the evolution of our relative hairlessness as compared to other mammals.
Morris, however, rejects this explanation on the grounds that:
“The loss of bodily insulation would be a high price to pay for a sexy appearance alone” (p46).
Indeed, according to Amotz Zahavi’s handicap principle, it is precisely the high cost of such sexually-selected adornments that made them reliable fitness indicators and hence attractive to potential mates, because only a highly ‘fit’ male can afford to grow such a costly, inconvenient and otherwise useless appendage.
Morris also gives unusually respectful consideration to the highly-controversial aquatic ape theory as an explanation for human hairlessness.
Thus, if humans did indeed pass through an aquatic, or at least amphibious, stage during our evolution, then, Morris agrees, this may indeed explain our hairlessness, since it is indeed true that other aquatic or semiaquatic mammals, such as whales, dolphins and seals, also seem to have jettisoned most of their fur over the course of their evolution.
This is presumably because fur increases frictional drag while in the water and hence impedes swimming ability, and is among the reasons that elite swimmers also remove their body-hair before competition.
Indeed, our loss of body hair is among the human anatomical peculiarities that are most often cited by champions of aquatic ape theory in favor of the theory that humans did indeed pass through an aquatic phase during our evolution.
However, aquatic ape theory is highly controversial, and is rejected by almost all mainstream evolutionists and biological anthropologists.
As I have said, Morris, for his part, gives respectful consideration to the theory, and, unlike many other anthropologists and evolutionists, does not dismiss it out of hand as entirely preposterous and unworthy even of further consideration.
On the contrary, Morris credits the theory as “ingenious”, acknowledging that, if true, it might explain many otherwise odd features of human anatomy, including not just our relative hairlessness, but also the retention of hairs on our head, the direction of the hairs on our backs, our upright posture, ‘streamlined’ bodies, dexterity of our hands and the thick extra layer of sub-cutaneous fat beneath our skin that is lacking in other primates.
However, while acknowledging that the theory explains many curious anomalies of human physiology, Morris ultimately rejects ‘aquatic ape theory’ as altogether too speculative given the complete lack of fossil evidence in support of the theory – the same reason that most other evolutionists also reject the theory.
Thus, he concludes:
“It demands… the acceptance of a hypothetical major evolutionary phase for which there is no direct evidence” (p45-6).
Morris also rejects the theory that was, according to Morris himself, the most widely accepted explanation for our hairlessness among other evolutionists at the time he was writing – namely the theory that our hairlessness evolved as a cooling mechanism when our ancestors left the shaded forests for the open African savannah.
The problem with this theory, as Morris explains it, is that:
“Exposure of the naked skin to the air certainly increases the chances of heat loss, but it also increases heat gain at the same time and risks damage from the sun’s rays” (p47).
Thus, it is not at all clear that moving into the open savannah would indeed select for hairlessness. Otherwise, as Morris points out, we might expect other carnivorous, predatory mammals such as lions and jackals, who also inhabit the savannah, to have similarly jettisoned most of their fur.
Ultimately, however, Morris accepts instead a variant on this idea – namely that hairlessness evolved to prevent overheating while chasing prey when hunting.
However, this fails to explain why it is men’s bodies that are generally much hairier than those of women, even though, cross-culturally, in most foraging societies, it is men who do most, if not all, of the hunting.
It also raises the question as to why other mammalian carnivores, including some that also inhabit the African Savannah and other similar environments, such as lions and jackals, have not similarly shed their body hair, especially since the latter rely more on their speed to catch prey species, whereas humans, armed with arrows and javelins as well as hunting dogs, do not always have to catch a prey themselves in order to kill it.
I would tentatively venture an alternative theory, one which evidently did not occur to Morris – namely, perhaps our hairlessness evolved in concert with our invention and use of clothing (e.g. animal hides) – i.e. a case of gene-culture coevolution.
Clothing would provide an alternative means of protect from both sun and cold alike, but one that has the advantage that, unlike bodily fur, it can be discarded (and put back on) on demand.
This explanation suggests that, paradoxically, we became naked apes at the same time, and indeed precisely because, we had also become clothed apes.
The Sexiest Primate?
One factor said to have contributed to the book’s commercial success was the extent to which its thesis chimed with the prevailing spirit of the age during which it was first published, namely the 1960s.
Another element that jibed with the zeitgeist of the sixties was Morris’s emphasis on human sexuality, with Morris famously declaring:
“The naked ape is the sexiest primate alive” (p64).
Are humans indeed the ‘sexiest’ of primates? How can we assess this claim? It depends, of course, on precisely how we define ‘sexiness’.
Obviously, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then sexiness is located in a rather different part of the male anatomy, but equally subjective in nature.
Thus, humans like ourselves find other humans more sexy than other primates because we have evolved to do so. A male chimpanzee, however, would likely disagree and regard a female chimpanzee as sexier.
However, Morris presumably has something else in mind when he describes humans as the “sexiest” of primates.
What he seems to mean is that sexuality and sexual behavior permeates the life of humans to a greater degree than for other primates. Thus, for example, he cites as evidence the extended or continuous sexual receptivity of human females, writing:
“There is much more intense sexual activity in our own species than in any other primates” (p56)
However, the claim that sexuality and sexual behavior permeates the life of humans to a greater degree than for other primates is difficult to maintain when you have studied the behavior of some of our primate cousins. Thus, for example, both chimpanzees and especially bonobos, our closest relatives among extant non-human primates, are far more promiscuous than all but the sluttiest of humans.
Indeed, one might cynically suggest that what Morris had most in mind when he described humans as “the sexiest primate alive” was simply a catchy marketing soundbite that very much tapped into the zeitgeist of the era (i.e. the 1960s) and might help boost sales for his book.
As further evidence for our species’ alleged “sexiness” Morris also supposedly unusually large size of the human penis, reporting:
“The [human] male has the largest penis of any primate. It is not only extremely long when fully erect, but also very thick when compared with the penises of other species” (p80).
This claim, namely that the human male has an unusually large penis, may originate with Morris, and has certainly since enjoyed wide currency in subsequent decades.
Thus, competing theories have been formulated to account for the (supposedly) unusual size of our penes.
One idea is that our large penes evolved through sexual selection, more specifically female choice, with females preferring either the appearance, or the internal ‘feel’ of a large penis during coitus, and hence selecting for increased penis size among men (e.g. Mautz et al 2013; The Mating Mind: p234-6).
“The dimensions and elasticity of the vagina in mammals are dictated to a large extent by the dimensions of the baby at birth. The large head of the neonatal human baby (384g brain weight compared with only 227g for the gorilla…) has led to the human vagina when fully distended being large, both absolutely and relative to the female body… particularly once the vagina and vestibule have been stretched during the process of giving birth, the vagina never really returning to its nulliparous dimensions” (Human Sperm Competition: Copulation, Masturbation and Infidelity: p171).
In turn, larger vaginas select for larger penises in order to fill this larger vagina (Bowman 2008).
Interestingly, this theory directly contradicts the alleged claim of infamous racescientistPhilippe Rushton (whose work I have reviewed here and here) that there is an inverse correlation between brain-size and penis-size, which relationship supposedly explains race differences in brain and genital size. Thus, Rushton was infamously quoted as observing:
“It’s a trade off, more brains or more penis. You can’t have everything.”
On the contrary, this analysis suggests that, at least as between species (and presumably as between sub-species, i.e. races, as well), there is a positive correlation between brain-size and penis-size.
According to Baker and Bellis, one reason male penis size tracks that of female vagina size (both being relatively large, and especially wide, in humans) is that the penis functions as, in Baker and Bellis’s words, a “suction piston” during intercourse, the repeated thrusting functioning to remove any sperm previously deposited by rival males – a form of sperm competition.
Thus, they report:
“In order to distend the vagina sufficiently to act as a suction piston, the penis needs to be a suitable size [and] the relatively large size… and distendibility of the human vagina (especially after giving birth) thus imposes selection, via sperm competition, for a relatively large penis” (Human Sperm Competition: p171).
Interestingly, this theory – namely that the human penis functions as a sperm displacement device – although seemingly fanciful, actually explains some otherwise puzzling aspects of human coitus, such as its relatively extended duration, the male refractory period and related Coolidge effect – i.e. why a male cannot immediately recommence intercourse immediately after orgasm, unless perhaps with a new female (though this exception has yet to be experimentally demonstrated in humans), since to do so would maladaptively remove one’s own sperm from the female reproductive tract.
“[Man] is proud that he has the biggest brain of all the primates, but attempts to conceal the fact that he also has the biggest penis, preferring to accord this honor falsely to the mighty gorilla” (p9).
Moreover, the largeness of our brains, in which, according to Morris, we take such pride, may actually be the cause of the largeness of our penes, for which, according to Morris, we have such shame (here, he speaks for few men).
Thus, large brains required larger heads which, in turn, required larger vaginas in order to successfully birth larger-headed babies. This in turn selected for larger penises to fill the larger vagina.
In short, the large size, or rather large girth/width, of our penes has less to do with our being the “sexiest primate” and more to do with our being the brainiest.
In addition to his discussion of human penis size, Morris also argues that various other features of human anatomy that not usually associated with sex nevertheless evolved, in part, due to their role in sexual signaling. These include our earlobes (p66-7), everted lips (p68-70) and, tentatively and rather bizarrely, perhaps even our large fleshy noses (p67).
He makes the most developed and persuasive case, however, in respect of another physiological peculiarity of the human species, and of human females in particular, namely the female breasts.
Thus, Morris argues:
“For our species, breast design is primarily sexual rather than maternal in function” (p106).
“The evolution of protruding breasts of a characteristic shape appears to be yet another example of sexual signalling” (p70).
As evidence, he cites the differences in shape between women’s breasts and both the breasts of other primates and the design of baby bottles (p93). In short, the shape of human breasts do not seem ideally conducive to nursing alone.
The notion that breasts have a secondary function as sexual advertisements is indeed compelling. In most other mammals, large breasts develop only during pregnancy, but human breasts are permanent, developing at puberty, and, except during pregnancy and lactation, composed predominantly of fat not milk (see Møller et al 1995; Manning et al 1997; Havlíček et al 2016).
On the other hand, it is difficult to envisage how breasts ever first became co-opted as a sexually-selected ornament.
After all, the presence of developed breasts on a female would originally, as among other primates, have indicated that the female in question was pregnant, and hence infertile. There would therefore initially have been strong selection pressure among males against ever finding breasts sexually attractive, since it would lead to their pursuing infertile women whom they could not possibly impregnate.
How then did breasts ever make the switch to a sexually attractive, sexually-selected ornament? This is what George Francis, at his blog, ‘Anglo Reaction’, terms the ‘breast paradox’.
Morris does not address this not insignificant problem. However, he does suggest that two other human traits unique among primates may have facilitated the process.
Our so-called ‘nakedness’ (i.e. relative hairlessness), the trait that furnished Morris’s book with its title, and Morris himself with his preferred name for our species, is the first of these traits.
“Swollen breast-patches in a shaggy-coated female would be far less conspicuous as signalling devices, but once the hair has vanished they would stand out clearly” (p70-1).
Secondly, Morris argues that our bipedalism (i.e. the fact we walk on two legs) and resulting vertical posture, necessarily put the female reproductive organs out of sight underneath a woman when she adopts a standing position, and hence generally out of the sight of potential mates. There was therefore, Morris suggests, a need for some frontal sexual-signaling.
This, he argues, was further necessitated by what he argues is our species’ natural preference for ventro-ventral (i.e. missionary position) intercourse.
In particular, Morris argues that human female breasts evolved in order to mimic the appearance of the female buttocks, a form of what he terms ‘self-mimicry’.
“The protuberant, hemispherical breasts of the female must surely be copies of the fleshy buttocks” (p76).
Interestingly, he makes a similar argument in respect of another trait of humans not shared by other extant primates – namely, our inverted lips.
Again, this seems intuitively plausible, since, like female breasts, lips do indeed seem to be a much-sexualized part of the human anatomy, at least in western societies, and in at least some non-western cultures as well, if erotic art is to be taken as evidence.
These everted lips, he argues, evolved to mimic the appearance of the female labia.
As with Morris’s idea that female breasts evolved to mimic the appearance of female buttocks, the idea that our lips, and women’s use of lipstick, is designed to imitate the appearance of the female sexual organs has been much mocked.
However, the similarity in appearance of the labia and human lips can hardly be doubted. After all, it is even attested to in the very etymology of the word.
Of course, inverted lips reach their most extreme form among extant sub-species of hominid among black Africans. This Morris argues is because:
“If climatic conditions demand a darker skin, then this will work against the visual signalling capacity of the lips by reducing their colour contrast. If they really are important as visual signals, then some kind of compensating development might be expected, and this is precisely what seems to have occurred, the negroid lips maintaining their conspicuousness by becoming larger and more protuberant. What they have lost in colour contrast, they have made up for in size and shape” (p69-70).
Thus, rejecting the politically-incorrect notion that black Africans are, as a race, somehow more ‘primitive’ than other humans, Morris instead emphasizes the fact that, in respect of this trait (i.e. everted lips), they are actually the most differentiated from non-human primates.
Again, Morris suggests that humans’ unusual vertical posture, brought on by our bipedal means of locomotion, may have been central to the evolution of this trait.
Thus, if a female were to walk off immediately after sexual intercourse had occurred, then:
“Under the simple influence of gravity the seminal fluid would flow back down the vaginal tract and much of it would be lost” (p79).
This obviously makes successful impregnation less likely. As a result, Morris concludes:
“There is therefore a great advantage in any reaction that tends to keep the female horizontal when the male ejaculates and stops copulating” (p79).
The chief adaptive function of the female orgasm therefore, according to Morris, is the tiredness, and perhaps post-coital tristesse, that immediately follows orgasm, and motivates the female experiencing these emotions to remain in a horizontal position even after intercourse has ended, and hence retain the male ejaculate within her reproductive tract.
“The violent response of female orgasm, leaving the female sexually satiated and exhausted has precisely this effect” (p79).
However, the main problem with Morris’s theory is that it predicts that female orgasm should be confined to humans, since, at least among extant primates, we represent the only bipedal ape.
Morris does indeed argue that the female organism is, like our nakedness, bipedal locomotion and large brains, an exclusively human trait, describing how, among most, if not all, non-human primates:
“At the end of a copulation, when the male ejaculates and dismounts, the female monkey shows little sign of emotional upheaval and usually wanders off as if nothing had happened” (p79).
Unfortunately for Morris’s theory, however, evidence has subsequently accumulated that some non-human (and non-bipedal) female primates do indeed seem to sometimes experience responses seemingly akin to orgasm during copulation.
Thus, Alan Dixson reports:
“Female orgasm is not confined to Homo sapiens. Putatively homologous responses [have] been reported in a number of non-human primates, including stump-tail and Japanese Macaques, rhesus monkeys and chimpanzees… Pre-human ancestors of Homo sapiens, such as the australopithecines, probably possessed a capacity to exhibit female orgasm, as do various extant ape and monkey species. The best documented example concerns the stump tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), in which orgasmic uterine contractions have been recorded during female-female mounts… as well as during copulation… De Waal… estimates that female stump-tails show their distinctive ‘climax face’ (which correlates with the occurrence of uterine contractions) once in every six copulations. Vaginal spasms were noted in two female rhesus monkeys as a result of extended periods of stimulation (using an artificial penis) by an experimenter… Likewise, a female chimpanzee exhibited rhythmical vaginal contractions, clitoral erection, limb spasms, and body tension in response to manual stimulation of its genitalia… Masturbatory behaviour, accompanied by behavioural and physiological responses indicative of orgasm, has also been noted in Japanese macaques… and chimpanzees” (Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems: p77).
Thus, in relation to Morris’s theory, Dixson concludes that the theory lacks “comparative depth” because:
Certainly, female orgasm, unlike male orgasm, is hardly a prerequisite for successful impregnation.
Thus, American physician, Robert Dickson, in his book, Human Sex Anatomy (1933), reports that, in a study of a thousand women who attended his medical practice afflicted with so-called ‘frigitity’ (i.e incapable of orgasmic response during intercourse):
“The frigid were not notably infertile, having the expected quota of living children, and somewhat less than the average incidence of sterility” (Human Sex Anatomy: p92).
In most mammals, Morris reports, “it occurs as an embryonic stage in the development of the urogenital system” (p82). However, only in humans, he reports, is it, when not ruptured, retained into adulthood.
Regarding the means by which it evolved, the trait is then, Morris concludes, like our large brains, upright posture and hairlessness, “part of the naked ape’s neoteny” (p82).
However, as with our hairlessness, neoteny only the means by which this trait was retained into adulthood among humans, not the evolutionary reason for its retention.
In other words, he suggests, the hymen, like other traits retained into adulthood among humans, must serve some evolutionary function.
What is this evolutionary function?
Morris suggests that, by making first intercourse painful for females, it deters young women from engaging in intercourse too early, and hence risking pregnancy, without first entering a relationship (‘pair-bond’) of sufficient stability to ensure that male parental investment, and provisioning, will be forthcoming (p73).
However, pain experienced during intercourse occurs rather too late to deter first intercourse, because, by the time this pain is experienced, intercourse has already occurred.
Of course, given our species’ unique capacity for speech and communication, the pain experienced during first intercourse could be communicated to young virginal women through conversation with other non-virginal women who had already experienced first intercourse.
However, this would be an unreliable method of inducing fear and avoidance regarding first intercourse, especially given the sort of taboos regarding discussion of sexual activities which are common in many cultures.
At any rate, why would natural, or sexual, selection not instead simply directly select for fear and anxiety regarding first intercourse – i.e. a psychological rather than a physiological adaptation. After all, as evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists have convincingly demonstrated, our psychology is no less subject to natural selection than is our physiology.
Although, as already noted, the evolutionary function, if any, of the female hymen has received surprisingly little attention from evolutionists, I can think of at least three rival hypotheses regarding the evolutionary significance of the hymen.
First, it may have evolved among humans as a means of advertising to prospective suitors a prospective bride’s chastity, and hence reassuring the suitor of the paternity of offspring that subsequently result and encouraging paternal investment in offspring.
This would, in turn, increase the perceived attractiveness of the female in question, and help secure her a better match with a higher-status male, and hence increase her own reproductive success.
Thus, it is notable that, in many cultures, prospective brides are inspected for virginity, a so-called ‘virginity test’, sometimes by the prospective mother-in-law or another older woman, before being considered marriageable and accepted as brides.
Alternatively, and more prosaically, the hymen may simply function to protect against infection, by preventing dirt and germs from entering a woman’s body by this route.
This, of course, would raise the question as to why, at least according to Morris, the trait is retained into sexual maturity only among humans?
Actually, however, as with his claim that the female orgasm is unique to humans, Morris’s claim that only humans retain the hymen into sexual maturity is disputed by other sources. Thus, for example, Catherine Blackledge reports:
This then would appear to be the most parsimonious explanation.
The works on human ethology of both Richard Ardrey and Konrad Lorenz attracted much attention and no little controversy in their day. Indeed, they perhaps attracted even more controversy than Morris’s own ‘The Naked Ape’, not least because they tended to place greater emphasis on humankind’s capacity, and alleged innate proclivity, towards violence.
In contrast, Morris’s own work, placing less emphasis on violence, and more on sex, perhaps jibed better with the zeitgeist of the era, namely the 1960s, with its hippy exhortations to ‘make love not war’.
Yet, although all these works were first published at around the same time, the mid- to late-sixties (though Adrey continued publishing books of this subject into the 1970s), Morris’s ‘The Naked Ape’ seems to be the only of these books that remains widely read, widely known and still in print, to this day.
Partly, I suspect, this reflects its brilliant and provocative title, which works on several levels, scientific and literary.
Morris, as we have seen, justifies referring to humans by this perhaps unflattering moniker on zoological grounds.
Certainly, he acknowledges that humans possess many other exceptional traits that distinguish us from all other extant apes, and indeed all other extant mammals.
Thus, we walk on two legs, use and make tools, have large brains and communicate via a spoken language. Thus, the zoologist could refer to us by any number of descriptors – “the vertical ape, the tool-making ape, the brainy ape” are a few of Morris’s own suggestions (p41).
But, he continues, adopting the disinterested detachment of the proverbial alien zoologist:
“These were not the first things we noticed. Regarded simply as a zoological specimen in a museum, it is the nakedness that has the immediate impact” (p41)
This name has, Morris observes, several advantages, including “bringing [humans] into line with other zoological studies”, emphasizing the zoological approach, and hence challenging human vanity.
Thus, he cautions:
“The naked ape is in danger of being dazzled by [his own achievements] and forgetting that beneath the surface gloss he is still very much a primate. (‘An ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a valet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet’). Even a space ape must urinate” (p23).
Thus, the title works also on another metaphoric level, which also contributed to the title’s power.
The title ‘Naked Ape’ promises to reveal, if you like, the ‘naked’ truth about humanity—to strip humanity down in order to reveal the naked truth that lies beneath the façade and finery.
Morris’s title reduces us to a zoological specimen in the laboratory, stripped naked on the laboratory table, for the purposes of zoological classification and dissection.
Interestingly, humans have historically liked to regard ourselves as superior to other animals, in part, precisely because we are the only ones who did clothe ourselves.
Thus, beside Adam and Eve, it was only primitive tropical savages who went around in nothing but a loincloth, and they were disparaged as uncivilized precisely on this account.
Yet even tropical savages wore loincloths. Indeed, clothing, in some form, is sometimes claimed to be a human universal.
Yet animals, on the other hand, go completely unclothed – or so we formerly believed.
But Morris turns this reasoning on its head. In the zoological sense, it is humans who are the naked ones, being largely bereft of hairs sufficient to cover most of our bodies.
Stripping humanity down in this way, Morris reveals the naked truth that beneath, the finery and façade of civilization, we are indeed an animal, an ape and a naked one at that.
The power of Morris’s chosen title ensures that, even if, like all science, his book has quickly dated, his title alone has stood the test of time and will, I suspect, be remembered, and employed as a descriptor of the human species, long after Morris himself, and the books he authored, are forgotten and cease to be read.
 Morris is certainly right that anthropologists have overemphasized the exotic and unfamiliar (“bizarre mating customs, strange kinship systems, or weird ritual procedures”, as Morris puts it). Partly, this is simply because, when first encountering an alien culture, it is the unfamiliar differences that invariably stand out, whereas the similarities are often the very things which we tend to take for granted. Thus, for example, on arriving in a foreign country, we are often struck by the fact that everyone speaks a foreign unintelligible language. However, we often take for granted the more remarkable fact that all cultures around the world do indeed have a spoken language, and also that all languages supposedly even share in common a universal grammar. However, anthropologists have also emphasized the alien and bizarre for other reasons, not least to support theories of radical cultural malleability, sometimes almost to the verge of outright fabrication (e.g. Margaret Mead’s studies in Samoa).
 It is true that there has been some significant human evolution since the dawn of agriculture, notably the evolution of lactase persistence in populations with a history of dairy agriculture. Indeed, as Cochran and Harpending emphasize in their book The 10,000 Year Explosion, far from evolution having stopped at the dawn of agriculture or the rise of ‘civilization’, it has in fact sped up, as a natural reflection of the rapid change in environmental conditions that resulted. Thus, as Nicholas Wade concludes in A Troublesome Inheritance, much human evolution has been “recent, copious and regional”, leading to substantial differentiation between populations (i.e. racedifferences), including in psychological traits such as intelligence. Nevertheless, despite such tinkering, the core adaptations that identify us as a species were undoubtedly molded in ancient prehistory, and are universal across the human species.
 However, it is indeed important to recognize that the lifestyle of our own ancestors was not necessarily identical to that of those few extant hunter-gatherer groups that have survived into modern times, not least because the latter tend to be concentrated in marginal and arid environments (e.g. the San people of the Kalahari Desert, Eskimos of the Arctic region, Aboriginals of the Australian outback), with those formerly inhabiting more favorable environments having either themselves transitioned to agriculture or else been displaced or absorbed by more advanced invading agriculturalists with higher population densities and superior weapons and other technologies.
 This passage is, of course, sure to annoy feminists (always a good thing), and is likely to be disavowed even by many modern evolutionary psychologists since it relies on a rather crude analogy. However, Morris acknowledges that, since “’hunting’… has now been replaced by ‘working‘”:
“The males who set off on their daily working trips are liable to find themselves in heterosexual groups instead of the old all-male parties. All too often it [the pair bond] collapses under the strain” (p81).
This factor, Morris suggests, explains the prevalence of marital infidelity. It may also explain the recent hysteria, and accompanying witch-hunts, regarding so-called ‘sexual harassment’ in the workplace. Relatedly, and also likely to annoy feminists, Morris champions the then-popular ‘man the hunter‘ theory of hominid evolution, which posited that the key development in human evolution, and the development of human intelligence in particular, was the switch from a largely, if not wholly, herbivorous diet and lifestyle, to one based largely on hunting and the consumption of meat. On this view, it was the cognitive demands that hunting placed on humans that selected for increased intelligence among humans, and also the nutritionalvalue of meat that made possible increases in highlymetabolically expensive brain tissue. This theory has since fallen into disfavor. This seems to be primarily because it gives the starring role in human evolution to men, since men do most of the hunting, and relegates women to a mere supporting role. It hence runs counter to the prevailing feminist zietgeist. The main substantive argument given against the ‘man the hunter theory’ is that other carnivorous mammals (e.g. lions, wolves) adapted to carnivory without any similar increase in brain-size or intelligence. Yet Morris actually has an answer to this objection. Our ancestors, fresh from the forests, were relative latecomers to carnivory. Therefore, Morris contends, had we sought to compete with tigers and wolves by mimicking them (i.e. growing our fangs and claws instead of our brains) we would inevitably have been playing a losing game of evolutionary catch-up.
“Instead, an entirely new approach was made, using artificial weapons instead of natural ones, and it worked” (p22).
However, this theory fails to explain how female intelligence evolved. One possibility is that increases in female intelligence are an epiphenomenal byproduct of selection for male intelligence, rather like the female equivalent of male nipples. On this view, men would be expected to have higher intelligence than women, just as male nipples are smaller than female nipples, and the male penis is bigger than the female clitoris. That adult men have greater intelligence than adult women is indeed the conclusion of a recent controversial theory, though the difference is very modest (Lynn 1999). There is also evidence this sexual division of labour between hunting and gathering led to sex dithfferences spatio-visual intelligence (Eals & Silverman 1994).
 Another difference from modern evolutionary psychologists derives from Morris’s ethological approach, which involves a focus on human-typical behaviour patterns. For example, he discusses the significance of body language and facial expressions, such as smiling, which is supposedly homologous with an appeasement gesture (baring clenched teeth, aka a ‘fear grin’) common to many primates, and staring, which represents a form of threat across many species.
 Interestingly, however, he acknowledges that this statement does not apply to all human races. Thus, he observes:
“Negroes have undergone a real as well as an apparent hair loss” (p42).
Thus, it seems blacks, unlike Caucasians, have fewer hairs on their body than do chimpanzees. This fact is further evidence that, contrary to the politically correct orthodoxy, racedifferences are real and important, though this fact is, of course, played down by Morris and other popular science writers.
 In other words, a male silverback gorilla may mate with the multiple females in his harem, but each of the females in his harem likely have sex with only one male, namely that silverback. This means that sperm from rival males are rarely simultaneously present in the same female’s oviduct, resulting in minimal levels of sperm competition, which is known to select from larger testicles in particular, and also often more elaborate penes as well.
 Alternative theories for the evolution of permanent fatty breasts in women is that they function analogously to camel humps, i.e. as a storehouse of nutrients to guard against and provide reserves in the event of future scarcity or famine. On this view, the sexually dimorphic presentation (i.e. the fact that fatty breasts are largely restricted to women) might reflect the caloric demands of pregnancy. Indeed, this might explain why women have higher levels of fat throughout their bodies. (For a recent review of rival theories for human breast evolution see Pawłowski & Żelaźniewicz 2021.)
 However, to be pedantic, this phraseology is perhaps problematic, since, to say that breasts and lips are ‘sexualized’ in western, and at least some non-western, cultures implicitly presupposes that they are not already inherently sexual parts of our anatomy by virtue of biology, which is, of course, the precisely what Morris is arguing.
 For example, if I recall correctly, extremely annoying, left-wing 1980s-era British comedian Ben Elton once commented in a one of his stand-up routines that the male anthropologist (i.e. Morris, actually not an anthropologist, at least not by training) who came up with this idea (namely, that lips and lipstick mimiced the appearance of the labia) had obviously never seen a vagina in his life. He also, if I recall correctly, attributed this theory to the supposed male-dominated, androcentric nature of the field of anthropology – an odd notion given that Morris is not an anthropologist by training, and cultural anthropology is, in fact, one of the most leftist-dominated, feminist-infested, politically correct fields in the whole of academia, this side of ‘gender studies’, which, in the present, politically-correct world of academia, is saying a great deal.
 To test this theory, we might look at other relatively dark-skinned, but non-Negroid, populations. Here, the theory receives, at best, only partial support. Thus, Australian Aboriginals, another dark-skinned but unrelated group, do indeed tend to have quite large lips. However, these lips are not especially everted. On the other hand, the dark-skinned Dravidian populations of Southern India are not generally especially large-lipped, but are rather quite Caucasoid in facial morphology, and indeed, like the generally lighter-complexioned, Indo-European speaking, ‘Aryan’ populations of northern India, were generally classified as ‘Caucasoid’ by most early-twentieth century racial anthropologists.
 This theory is rather simpler, and has hence always struck me as more plausible, than the more elaborate, but also more widely championed so-called ‘upsuck hypothesis’, whereby female orgasm is envisaged as somehow functioning to suck semen deeper into the cervix. This idea is largely based on a single study involving two experiments on a single subject (Fox et al 1970). However, two other studies failed to produce any empirical support for the theory (Grafenberg 1950; Masters & Johnson 1966). Baker and Bellis’s methodologically problematic work on what they call ‘flowback’ provides, at best, ambivalent evidence (Baker & Bellis 1993). For detailed critique, see Dixson’s Sexual Selection and the Origins of Human Mating Systems: p74-6.
Ethnocentrism is a pan-human universal. Thus, a tendency to prefer one’s own ethnic group over and above other ethnic groups is, ironically, one thing that all ethnic groups share in common.
In ‘The Ethnic Phenomenon’, pioneering sociologist-turned-sociobiologist Pierre van den Berghe attempts to explain this universal phenomenon.
In the process, he not only provides a persuasive ultimate evolutionary explanation for the universality of ethnocentrism, but also produces a remarkable synthesis of scholarship that succeeds in incorporating virtually every aspect of ethnic relations as they have manifested themselves throughout history and across the world, from colonialism, caste and slavery to integration and assimilation, within this theoretical and explanatory framework.
Van den Berghe extends this idea, arguing that humans have evolved to sometimes behave altruistically towards, not only their close biological relatives, but also sometimes their distant biological relatives as well – namely, members of the same ethnic group as themselves.
Thus, van den Berghe contends:
“Racial and ethnic sentiments are an extension of kinship sentiments [and] ethnocentrism and racism are… extended forms of nepotism” (p18).
However, contrary to both critics of his theory (e.g. Brigandt 2001) and others developing similar ideas (e.g. Rushton 2005; Salter 2000), van den Berghe is actually agnostic on the question of whether ethnocentrism is ever actually adaptive in modern societies, where the shared kinship of large nations or ethnic groups is, as van den Berghe himself readily acknowledges, “extremely tenuous at best” (p243). Thus, he concedes:
“Clearly, for 50 million Frenchmen or 100 million Japanese, any common kinship that they may share is highly diluted … [and] when 25 million African-Americans call each other ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, they know that they are greatly extending the meaning of these terms” (p27).
“Until the last few thousand years, hominids interacted in relatively small groups of a few score to a couple of hundred individuals who tended to mate with each other and, therefore, to form rather tightly knit groups of close and distant kin” (p35).
“The natural ethny [i.e. ethnic group] in which hominids evolved for several thousand millennia probably did not exceed a couple of hundred individuals at most” (p24)
Thus, van den Berghe concludes:
“The primordial ethny is thus an extended family: indeed, the ethny represents the outer limits of that inbred group of near or distant kinsmen whom one knows as intimates and whom therefore one can trust” (p25).
On this view, ethnocentrism was adaptive when we still resided in such groups, where members of our own clan or tribe were indeed closely biologically related to us, but is often maladaptive in contemporary environments, where our ethnic group may include literally millions of people.
Another not dissimilar theory has it that racism in particular might reflect the misfiring of an adaptation that uses ‘phenotype matching’, in particular physical resemblance, as a form of kin recognition.
Certainly, van den Berghe takes pains to emphasize that ethnic sentiments are vulnerable to manipulation – not least by exploitative elites who co-opt kinship terms such as ‘motherland’, ‘fatherland’ and ‘brothers-in-arms‘ to encourage self-sacrifice, especially during wartime (p35; see also Johnson 1987; Johnson et al 1987; Salmon 1998).
However, van den Berghe cautions, “Kinship can be manipulated but not manufactured [emphasis in original]” (p27). Thus, he observes how:
“Queen Victoria could cut a motherly figure in England; she even managed to proclaim her son the Prince of Wales; but she could never hope to become anything except a foreign ruler of India; [while] the fiction that the Emperor of Japan is the head of the most senior lineage descended from the common ancestor of all Japanese might convince the Japanese peasant that the Emperor is an exalted cousin of his, but the myth lacks credibility in Korea or Taiwan” (p62-3).
This suggests that the European Union, while it may prove successful as customs union, single market and even an economic union, and while integration in other non-economic spheres may also prove a success, will likely never command the sort of loyalty and allegiance that a nation-state holds over its people, including, sometimes, the willingness of men to fight and lay down their lives for its sake. This is because its members come from many different cultures and ethnicities, and indeed speak many different languages.
For van den Berghe, national identity cannot be rooted in anything other than a perception of shared ancestry or kinship. Thus, he observes:
Thus, so-called ‘civic nationalism’, whereby national identity is based, not on ethnicity, but rather, supposedly, on a shared commitment to certain common values and ideals (democracy, the ‘rule of law’ etc.), as encapsulated by the notion of America as a ‘proposition nation’, is, for van den Berghe, a complete non-starter.
Yet this is today regarded as the sole basis for national identity and patriotic feeling that is recognised as legitimate, not only in the USA, but also all other contemporary western polities, where any assertion of racial nationalism or a racially-based or ethnically-based national identity is, at least for white people, anathema and beyond the pale.
Moreover, due to the immigration policies of previous generations of western political leaders, policies that largely continue today, all contemporary western polities are now heavily multi-ethnic and multi-racial, such that any sense of national identity that was based on race or ethnicity is arguably untenable as it would necessarily exclude a large proportion of their populations.
Whereas ethnocentrism is therefore universal, adaptive and natural, van den Berghe denies that the same can be said for racism.
“There is no evidence that racism is inborn, but there is considerable evidence that ethnocentrism is” (p240).
Thus, van den Berge concludes:
“The genetic propensity is to favor kin, not those who look alike” (p240).
As evidence, he cites:
“The ease with which parental feelings take precedence over racial feeling in cases of racial admixture” (p240).
In other words, fathers who sire mixed-race offspring with women of other races, and the women of other races with whom they father such offspring, often seemingly love and care for the resulting offspring just as intensely as do parents whose offspring is of the same race as themselves.
Thus, cultural, rather than racial, markers are typically adopted to distinguish ethnic groups (p35). These include:
Behavioural criteria, especially language and dialect (p33).
Bodily modification and language represent particularly useful markers because they are difficult to fake, bodily modification because it is permanent and hence represents a costly commitment to the group (in accordance with Zahavi’s ‘handicap principle’), and language/dialect, because this is usually acquirable only during a critical period during childhood, after which it is generally not possible to achieve fluency in a second language without retaining a noticeable accent.
In contrast, racial criteria, as a basis for group affiliation, is, van den Berghe reports, actually quite rare:
“Racism is the exception rather than the rule in intergroup relations” (p33).
This is because, prior to recent technological advances in transportation (e.g. ocean-going ships, aeroplanes), members of differentraces (i.e. groups distinguishable on the basis of biologically inherited physiological traits such as skin colour, nose shape, hair texture etc.) were largely separated from one another by the very geographic barriers (e.g. deserts, oceans, mountain ranges) that reproductively isolated them from one another and hence permitted their evolution into distinguishable races in the first place.
“Even the strongest social barriers between social groups cannot block a specieswide [sic]sexual attraction. The biologyof reproduction triumphs in the end over the artificial barriers of social prejudice” (p109).
“We have not been genetically selected to use phenotype as an ethnic marker, because, until quite recently, such a test would have been an extremely inaccurate one” (p 240).
Humans, then, have simply not had sufficient time to have evolved a domain-specific ‘racism module’ as suggested by some researchers.
Racism is therefore, unlike ethnocentrism, not an innate instinct, but rather “a cultural invention” (p240).
However, van den Berghe rejects the fashionable, politically correct notion that racism is “a western, much less a capitalist monopoly” (p32).
On the contrary, racism, while not innate, is, not a unique western invention, but rather a recurrent reinvention, which almost invariably arises where phenotypically distinguishable groups come into contact with one another, if only because:
“Genetically inherited phenotypes are the easiest, most visible and most reliable predictors of group membership” (p32).
For example, van den Berghe describes the relations between the Tutsi, Hutu and Pygmy Twa of Rwanda and neighbouring regions as “a genuine brand of indigenous racism” which, according to van den Berghe, developed quite independently of any western colonial influence (p73).
Moreover, where racial differences are the basis for ethnic identity, the result is, van den Berghe claims, ethnic hierarchies that are particularly rigid, intransient and impermeable.
For van den Berghe, this then explains the failure of African-Americans to wholly assimilate into the US melting pot in stark contrast to successive waves of more recently-arrived European immigrants.
Thus, van den Berghe observes:
“Blacks who have been English-speaking for several generations have been much less readily assimilated in both England… and the United States than European immigrants who spoke no English on arrival” (p219).
Thus, language barriers often break down within a generation.
As Judith Harris emphasizes in support of ‘peer group socialization theory’, the children of immigrants whose parents are not at all conversant in the language of their host culture nevertheless typically grow up to speak the language of their host culture rather better than they do the first language of their parents, even though the latter was the ‘cradle tongue’ to which they were first exposed, and first learnt to speak, inside the family home (see The Nurture Assumption: which I have reviewed here).
As van den Berghe observes:
“It has been the distressing experience of millions of immigrant parents that, as soon as their children enter school in the host country, the children begin to resist speaking their mother tongue” (p258).
While displeasing to those parents who wish to pass on their language, culture and traditions to their offspring, this response is wholly adaptive from the perspective of the offspring themselves:
“Children quickly discover that their home language is a restricted medium that not useable in most situations outside the family home. When they discover that their parents are bilingual they conclude – rightly for their purposes – that the home language is entirely redundant… Mastery of the new language entails success at school, at work and in ‘the world’… [against which] the smiling approval of a grandmother is but slender counterweight” (p258).
Instead, phenotypic (i.e. racial) differences can only be eradicated after many generations of miscegenation, and sometimes, as in the cases of countries like the USA and Brazil, not even then.
Meanwhile, van den Berghe observes, often the last aspect of immigrant culture to resist assimilation is culinary differences. However, he observes, increasingly even this becomes only a ‘ceremonial’ difference reserved for family gatherings (p260).
Thus, van den Berghe surmises, Italian-Americans probably eat hamburgers as often as Americans of any other ethnic background, but at family gatherings they still revert to pasta and other traditional Italian cuisine.
Yet even culinary differences eventually disappear. Thus, in both Britain and America, sausage has almost completely ceased to be thought of as a distinctively German dish (as have hamburgers, originally thought to have been named in reference to the city of Hamburg) and now pizza is perhaps on the verge of losing any residual association with Italians.
Yet if racially–based ethnic hierarchies are particularly intransigent and impermeable, they are also, van den Berghe claims, “peculiarly conflict-ridden and unstable” (p33).
Thus, van den Berghe seems to believe that racial prejudice and animosity tends to be more extreme and malevolent in nature than mere ethnocentrism as exists between different ethnic groups of the same race (i.e. not distinguishable from one another on the basis of inherited phenotypic traits such as skin colour).
For example, van den Berghe claims that, during World War Two:
“There was a blatant difference in the level of ferociousness of American soldiers in the Pacific and European theaters… The Germans were misguided relatives (however distant), while the ‘Japs’ or the ‘Nips’ were an entirely different breed of inscrutable, treacherous, ‘yellow little bastards.’ This was reflected in differential behavior in such things as the taking (versus killing) of prisoners, the rhetoric of war propaganda (President Roosevelt in his wartime speeches repeatedly referred to his enemies as ‘the Nazis, the Fascists, and the Japanese’), the internment in ‘relocation camps’ of American citizens of Japanese extraction, and in the use of atomic weapons” (p57).
Similarly, in his chapter on ‘Colonial Empires’, by which he means “imperialism over distant peoples who usually live in noncontiguous territories and who therefore look quite different from their conquerors, speak unrelated languages, and are so culturally alien to their colonial masters as to provide little basis for mutual understanding”, van den Berghe writes:
“Colonialism is… imperialism without the restraints of common bonds of history, culture, religion, marriage and blood that often exist when conquest takes place between neighbors” (p85).
Thus, he claims:
“What makes for the special character of the colonial situation is the perception by the conqueror that he is dealing with totally unrelated, alien and, therefore, inferior people. Colonials are treated as people totally beyond the pale of kin selection” (p85).
However, I am unpersuaded by van den Berghe’s claim that conflict between more distantly related ethnic groups is always, or even typically, more brutal than that among biologically and culturally more closely related groups.
After all, even conquests of neighbouring peoples, identical in race, if not always in culture, to the conquering group, are often highly brutal, for example the British in Ireland or the Japanese in Korea and China in the first half of the twentieth century.
Indeed, many of the most intense and intractable ethnic conflicts are those between neighbours and ethnic kin, who are racially (and culturally) very similar to one another.
Thus, for example, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, Greeks and Turks in Cyprus, and Bosnians, Croats, Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans, and even Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East, are all racially and genetically quite similar to one another, and also share many aspects of their culture with one another too. (The same is true, to give a topical example at the time of writing, of Ukrainians and Russians.) However, this has not noticeably ameliorated the nasty, intransient and bloody conflicts that have been, and continue to be, waged among them.
Of course, the main reason that most ethnic conflict occurs between close neighbours is because neighbouring groups are much more likely to come into contact, and hence into conflict, with one another, especially over competing claims to land.
Yet these same neighbouring groups are also likely to be related to one another, both culturally and genetically, because of both shared origins and the inevitable history of illicit intermarriage or miscegenation, and cultural borrowings, that inevitably occur even among the most hostile of neighbours.
Nevertheless, the continuation of intense ethnic animosity between ethnic groups who are genetically, close to one another seems to pose a theoretical problem, not only for van den Berghe’s theory, but also, to an even greater degree, for Philippe Rushton’s so-called ‘genetic similarity theory’ (which I have written about here), which argues that conflict between different ethnic groups is related to their relative degree of genetic differentiation from one another (Rushton 1998a; 1998b; 2005).
It also poses a problem for the argument of political scientist Frank K Salter, who argues that populations should resist immigration by alien immigrants proportionally to the degree to which the alien immigrants are genetically distant from themselves (On Genetic Interests; see also Salter 2002).
Since racially-based hierarchies result in ethnic boundaries that are both “peculiarly conflict-ridden and unstable” and also peculiarly rigid and impermeable, Van den Berghe controversially concludes:
“There has never been a successful multiracial democracy” (p189).
Of course, in assessing this claim, we must recognize that ‘success’ is not only a matter of degree, but also can also be measured on several different dimensions.
Thus, many people would regard the USA as the quintessential “successful… democracy”, even though the US has been multiracial, to some degree, for the entirety of its existence as a nation.
Certainly, the USA has been successful economically, and indeed militarily.
However, the US has also long been plagued by interethnic conflict, and, although successful economically and militarily, it has yet to be successful in finding a way to manage its continued interethnic conflict, especially that between blacks and whites.
Indeed, as van den Berghe acknowledges, even societies divided by mere ethnicity rather than race seem highly conflict-prone (p186).
Thus, assimilation, when it does occur, occurs only gradually, and only under certain conditions, namely when the group which is to be assimilated is “similar in physical appearance and culture to the group to which it assimilates, small in proportion to the total population, of low status and territorially dispersed” (p219).
Thus, van den Berghe observes:
“People tend to assimilate and acculturate when their ethny [i.e. ethnic group] is geographically dispersed (often through migration), when they constitute a numerical minority living among strangers, when they are in a subordinate position and when they are allowed to assimilate by the dominant group” (p185).
The latter, “acculturation”, involves a subordinate group gradually adopting the norms, values, language, cultural traditions and folkways of the dominant culture into whom they aspire to assimilate. It is therefore largely a unilateral process.
In contrast, however, “assimilation” goes beyond this and involves members of the dominant host culture also actually welcoming, or at least accepting, the acculturated newcomers as a part of their own community.
Thus, van den Berghe argues that host populations sometimes resist the assimilation of even wholly acculturated and hence culturally indistinguishable out-groups. Examples of groups excluded in this way include pariah castes, such as the untouchable‘dalits’ of the Indian subcontinent, the Burakumin of Japan and, at least according to van den Berghe, blacks in the USA.
In other words, assimilation, unlike acculturation, is very much a two-way street. Thus, just as it ‘takes two to tango’, so assimilation is very much a bilateral process:
On the one hand, minority groups may sometimes themselves resist assimilation, or even acculturation, if they perceive themselves as better off maintaining their distinct identify. This is especially true of groups who perceive themselves as being, in some respects, better-off than the host outgroup into whom they refuse to be absorbed.
The same is also true, more obviously, of alien ruling elites, such as the colonial administrators, and settlers, in European colonial empires in Africa, India and elsewhere, for whom assimilation into native populations would have been anathema.
‘Passing’, ‘Pretendians’ and ‘Blackfishing’
Interestingly, just as ‘market-dominant minorities’, ‘middleman minorities’, and European colonial rulers usually felt no need to assimilate into the host society in whose midst they lived, because to do so would have endangered their privileged position within this host society, so recent immigrants to America may no longer perceive any advantage to assimilation.
Contemporary cases of ‘passing’, however, though rarely referred to by this term, typically involve whites themselves attempting to somehow ‘pass’ themselves off as some variety of non-white (see Hannam 2021).
Interestingly, all three of these women were both employed in academia and involved in leftist politics – two spheres in which adopting a non-white identity is likely to be especially advantageous, given the widespread adoption of affirmative action in college admissions and appointments, and the rampant anti-white animus that infuses so much of academia and the cultural Marxist left.
This strongly suggests that, whereas there were formerly social (and legal) benefits that were associated with identifying as white, today the advantages accrue to instead to those able to assume a non-white identity.
For all the talk of so-called ‘white privilege’, when whites and mixed-race people, together with others of ambiguous racial identity, preferentially choose to pose as non-white in order to take advantage of the perceived benefits of assuming such an identity, they are ‘voting with their feet’ and thereby demonstrating what economists call ‘revealed preferences’.
This, of course, means that recent immigrants to America, such as Hispanics, will have rather less incentive in integrate into the American mainstream than did earlier waves of European immigrants, such as Irish, Poles, Jews and Italians, the latter having been, primarily, the victims of discrimination rather than its beneficiaries.
Given the ubiquity of ethnic conflict, and the fact that assimilation occurs, if at all, only gradually and, even then, only under certain conditions, a pessimist (or indeed a racial separatist) might conclude that the only way to prevent ethnic conflict is for different ethnic groups to be given separate territories with complete independence and territorial sovereignty.
This would involve the partition of the world into separate ethnically homogenous ethnostates, as advocated by racial separatists and many in the alt-right.
Yet, quite apart from the practical difficulties such an arrangement would entail, not least the need for large-scale forcible displacements of populations, this ‘universal nationalism’, as championed by political scientist Frank K Salter among others, would arguably only shift the locus of ethnic conflict from within the borders of a single multi-ethnic state to between those of separate ethnostates – and conflict between states can be just as destructive as conflict within states, as countless wars between states throughout history have amply proven.
In the absence of assimilation, then, perhaps fairest and least conflictual solution is what van den Berghe terms ‘consociationalism’. This term refers to a form of ethnic power-sharing, whereby elites from both groups agree to share power, each usually retaining a veto power regarding major decisions, and there is proportionate representation for each group in all important positions of power.
“All the linguistic, class, religious and party-political quarrels and street demonstrations have yet to produce a single fatality” (p199).
Belgium is, however, very much the exception rather than the rule, and, at any rate, though peaceful, remains very much a divided society.
Indeed, power-sharing institutions, in giving official, institutional recognition to the existing ethnic divide, function only to institutionalize and hence reinforce and ossify the existing ethnic divide, making successful integration and assimilation almost impossible – and certainly even less likely to occur than it had been in the absence of such institutional arrangements.
Moreover, consociationalism can be maintained, van den Berghe emphasizes, only in a limited range of circumstances, the key criterion being that the groups in question are equal, or almost equal, to one another in status, and not organized into an ethnic hierarchy.
However, even when the necessary conditions are met, it invariably involves a precarious balancing act.
Just how precarious is illustrated by the fate of other formerly stable consociationalist states. Thus, van den Bergh notes the irony that earlier writers on the topic had cited Lebanon as “a model [consociationalist democracy] in the Third World” just a few years before the Lebanese Civil War broke out in the 1970s (p191).
His point is, ironically, only strengthened by the fact that, in the three decades since his book was first published, two of his own examples of consociationalism, namely the USSR and Yugoslavia, have themselves since descended into civil war and fragmented along ethnic lines.
Slavery and Other Recurrent Situations
In the central section of the book, van den Berghe discusses such historically recurrent racial relationships as “slavery”, “middleman minorities”, “caste” and “colonialism”.
In large part, his analyses of these institutions and phenomena do not depend on his sociobiological theory of ethnocentrism, and are worth reading even for readers unconvinced by this theory – or even by readers skeptical of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology altogether.
“An essential feature of slave status is being torn out of one’s network of kin selection. This condition generally results from forcible removal of the slave from his home group by capture and purchase” (p120).
This then partly explains, for example, why European settlers were far less successful in enslaving the native inhabitants of the Americas than they were in exploiting the slave labour of African slaves who had been shipped across the Atlantic, far from their original kin groups, precisely for this purpose.
Thus, for van den Berghe, the quintessential slave is:
“Not only involuntarily among ethnic strangers in a strange land: he is there alone, without his support group of kinsmen and fellow ethnics” (p115)
This, however, is likely to be only a temporary condition, since, at least if allowed to reproduce, then, gradually over time, slaves would put down roots, produce new families, and indeed whole communities of slaves.
When this occurs, however, slaves gradually, over generations, cease to be true slaves. The result is that:
“Slavery can long endure as an institution in a given society, but the slave status of individuals is typically only semipermanent and nonhereditary… Unless a constantly renewed supply of slaves enters a society, slavery, as an institution, tends to disappear and transform itself into something else” (p120).
Paradoxically, van den Berghe argues that racism became particularly virulent in the West precisely because of Western societies’ ostensible commitment to notions of liberty and the rights of man, notions obviously incompatible with slavery.
Thus, whereas most civilizations simply took the institution of slavery for granted, feeling no especial need to justify its existence, western civilization, given its ostensible commitment to such lofty notions as individual liberty and the equality of man, was always on the defensive, feeling a constant need to justify and defend slavery.
“If it was immoral to enslave people, but if at the same time it was vastly profitable to do so, then a simple solution to the dilemma presented itself: slavery became acceptable if slaves could somehow be defined as somewhat less than fully human” (p115).
This then explains much of the virulence of western racialism in the much of the eighteenth, nineteenth and even early-twentieth centuries.
Another important, and related, ideological justification for slavery was what van den Berghe refers to as ‘paternalism’. Thus, Van den Berghe observes that:
Thus, in the American South, the “benevolent master” was portrayed a protective “father figure”, while slaves were portrayed as childlike and incapable of living an independent existence and hence as benefiting from their own enslavement (p131).
This, of course, was a nonsense. As van den Berghe cynically observes:
However, despite the dehumanization of slaves, the imbalance of power between slave and master, together with the men’s innate and evolved desire for promiscuity, made the sexual exploitation of female slaves by male masters all but inevitable.
As van den Berghe observes:
“Even the strongest social barriers between social groups cannot block a specieswide [sic] sexual attraction. The biology of reproduction triumphs in the end over the artificial barriers of social prejudice” (p109).
Thus, he notes the hypocrisy whereby:
“Dominant group men, whether racist or not, are seldom reluctant to maximize their fitness with subordinate-group women” (p33).
The result was that the fictive ideology of ‘paternalism’ that served to justify slavery often gave way to literal paternity of the next generation of the slave population.
This created two problems. First, it made the racial justification for slavery, namely the ostensibleinferiorityof black people, ring increasingly hollow, as ostensibly ‘black’ slaves acquired greater European ancestry, lighter skins and more Caucasoid features with each successive generation of miscegenation.
Second, and more important, it also meant that the exploitation of this next generation of slaves by their owners potentially violated the logic of kin selection, because:
“If slaves become kinsmen, you cannot exploit them without indirectly exploiting yourself” (p134).
This, van den Berghe surmises, led many slave owners to free those among the offspring of slave women whom they themselves, or their male relatives, had fathered. As evidence, he observes:
This leads van den Bergh to conclude that many such ‘free people of color’ – who were referred to as ‘people of color’ precisely because their substantial degree of white ancestry precluded any simple identification as ‘black’ or ‘negro’ – had been freed by their owner precisely because their owner was now also their kinsmen. Indeed, many may have been freed by the very slave-master who had been responsible for fathering them.
Thus, to give a famous example, Thomas Jefferson is thought to have fathered six offspring, four of whom survived to adulthood, with his slave, Sally Hemings – who was herself already three-quarters white, and indeed Jefferson’s wife’s own half-sister, on account of miscegenation in previous generations.
Of these four surviving offspring, two were allowed to escape, probably with Jefferson’s tacit permission or at least acquiescence, while the remaining two were freed upon his death in his will.
This seems to have been a common pattern. Thus, van den Berghe reports:
“Only about one tenth of the ‘negro’ population of the United States was free in 1860. A greatly disproportionate number of them were mulattoes, and, thus, presumably often blood relatives of the master who emancipated them or their ancestors. The only other slaves who were regularly were old people past productive and reproductive age, so as to avoid the cost of feeding the aged and infirm” (p129).
Yet this made the continuance of slavery almost impossible, because each new generation more and more slaves would be freed.
Other slave systems got around this problem by continually capturing or importing new slaves in order to replenish the slave population. However, this option was denied to American slaveholders by the abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
Instead, the Americans were unique in attempting to ‘breed’ slaves. This leads van den Berghe to conclude that:
“By making the slave woman widely available to her master…Western slavery thus literally contained the genetic seeds of its own destruction” (p134).
However, contrary to orthodox Marxist theory, van den Berghe regards ethnic sentiments as more fundamental than class loyalty since, whereas the latter is “dependent on a commonality of interests”, the former is often “irrational” (p243).
“Nationalist conflicts are among the most intractable and unamenable to reason and compromise… It seems a great many people care passionately whether they are ruled and exploited by members of their own ethny or foreigners” (p62).
In short, van den Berghe concludes:
“Blood runs thicker than money” (p243).
Another difference is that, whereas Marxists view control over the so-called ‘means of production’ (i.e. the means necessary to produce goods for sale) as the ultimate factor determining exploitation and conflict in human societies, Darwinians instead focus on conflict over access to what I have termed the ‘means of reproduction’ – in other words, the means necessary to produce offspring (i.e. fertile females, their wombs and vaginas etc.).
Thus, he concludes, intermarriage, especially if it occurs, not only frequently, but also in both directions (i.e. involves both males and females of both ethnicities, rather than always involving males of one ethnic group, usually the dominant ethnic group, taking females of the other ethnic group, usually the subordinate group, as wives), is the ultimate measure of racial equality and assimilation:
“Marriage, especially if it happens in both directions, that is with both men and women of both groups marrying out, is probably the best measure of assimilation” (p218).
In contrast, however, he also emphasizes that mere “concubinage is frequent [even] in the absence of assimilation” (p218).
Moreover, such concubinage invariably involves males of the dominant-group taking females from the subordinate-group as concubines, whereas dominant-group females are invariably off-limits as sexual partners for subordinate group males.
Thus, van den Berghe observes, although “dominant group men, whether racist or not, are seldom reluctant to maximize their fitness with subordinate-group women”, they nevertheless are jealously protective of their ‘own’ women and enforce strict double-standards (p33).
For example, historian Wynn Craig Wade, in his history of the Ku Klux Klan (which I have reviewed here), writes:
“In [antebellum] Southern white culture, the female was placed on a pedestal where she was inaccessible to blacks and a guarantee of purity of the white race. The black race, however, was completely vulnerable to miscegenation.” (The Fiery Cross: p20).
The result, van den Berghe reports, is that:
“The subordinate group in an ethnic hierarchy invariably ‘loses’ more women to males of the dominant group than vice versa” (p75).
Indeed, this same pattern is even apparent in the DNA of contemporary populations. Thus, geneticist James Watson reports that, whereas the mitochondrial DNA of contemporary Columbians, which is passed down the female line, shows a “range of Amerindian MtDNA types”, the Y-chromosomes of these same Colombians, are 94% European. This leads him to conclude:
However, while the ethnic group as a whole inevitably suffers a diminution in its fitness, there is a decided gender imbalance in who bears the brunt of this loss.
“The men of the subordinate group are always the losers and therefore always have a reproductive interest in overthrowing the system. The women of the subordinate group, however frequently have the option of being reproductively successful with dominant-group males” (p27).
Indeed, subordinate-group females are not only able, and sometimes forced, to mate with dominant-group males, but, in purely fitness terms, they may even benefit from such an arrangement.
“Hypergamy (mating upward for women) is a fitness enhancing strategy for women, and, therefore, subordinate-group women do not always resist being ‘taken over’ by dominant-group men” (p75).
This is because, by so doing, they thereby obtain access to both the greater resources that dominant group males are able to provide in return for sexual access or as provisioning for their offspring, as well as the ‘superior’ genes which facilitated the conquest in the first place.
Thus, throughout history, women and girls have been altogether too willing to consort and intermarry with their conquerors.
The result of this gender imbalance in the consequences of conquest and subjugation, is, a lack of solidarity as between men and women of the subjugated group.
“This sex asymmetry in fitness strategies in ethnically stratified societies often creates tension between the sexes within subordinate groups. The female option of fitness maximization through hypergamy is deeply resented by subordinate group males” (p76).
One slave captured in Eastern Europe even went on to become effective queen of the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power. Hurrem Sultan, as she came to be known, was, of course, exceptional, but only in degree. Members of royal harems may have been secluded, but they also lived in some luxury.
Indeed, even in puritanical North America, where concubinage was very much frownded upon, van den Berghe reports that “slavery was much tougher on men than on women”, since:
“Slavery drastically reduced the fitness of male slaves; it had little or no such adverse effect on the fitness of female slaves whose masters had a double interest – financial and genetic – in having them reproduce at maximum capacity” (p133)
Yet, curiously, however, patterns of interracial dating in contemporary America are anomalous – at least if we believe the pervasive myth that America is a ‘systemically racist’ society where black people are still oppressed and discriminated against.
On the one hand, genetic data confirms that, historically, matings between white men and black women were more frequent than the reverse, since African-American mitochondrial DNA, passed down the female line, is overwhelmingly African in origin, whereas their Y chromosomes, passed down the male line, are often European in origin (Lind et al 2007).
However, recent census data suggests that this pattern is now reversed. Thus, black men are now about two and a half times as likely to marry white women as black women are to marry white men (Fryer 2007; see also Sailer 1997).
This observation led controversial behavioural geneticist Glayde Whitney to claim:
“By many traditional anthropological criteria African-Americans are now one of the dominant social groups in America – at least they are dominant over whites. There is a tremendous and continuing transfer of property, land and women from the subordinate race to the dominant race” (Whitney 1999: p95).
Instead, perhaps the beginnings of an explanation for this paradox can be sought in van den Berghe’s own later collaboration with anthropologist, and HBD blogger, Peter Frost.
Here, in a co-authored paper, van den Berghe and Frost argue that, across cultures, there is a general sexual preference for females with somewhat lighter complexion than the group average (van den Berghe and Frost 1986).
In subsequent work, Frost argues that ecological conditions in sub-Saharan Africa permitted high levels of polygyny, because women were economically self-supporting, and this increased the intensity of selection for traits (e.g. increased muscularity, masculinity, athleticism and perhaps outgoing, sexually-aggressive personalities) which enhance the ability of African-descended males to compete for mates and attract females (Frost 2008).
In contrast, Frost argues that there was greater selection for female attractiveness (and perhaps female chastity) in areas such as Northern Europe and Northeast Asia, where, to successfully reproduce, women were required to attract a male willing to provision them during cold winters throughout their gestation, lactation and beyond (Frost 2008).
This then suggests that African males have simply evolved to be, on average, more attractive to women, whereas European and Asian females have evolved to be more attractive to men.
This speculation is supported by a couple of recent studies of facial attractiveness, which found that black male faces were rated as most attractive to members of the opposite sex, but that, for female faces, the pattern was reversed (Lewis 2011; Lewis 2012).
These findings could also go some way towards explaining patterns of interracial dating in the contemporary west (Lewis 2012).
“The Most Explosive Aspect of Interethnic Relations”
However, such an explanation is likely to be popular neither with racialists, for whom miscegenation is anathema, nor with racial egalitarians, for whom, as a matter of sacrosanct dogma, all races must be equal in all things, even aesthetics and sex appeal.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, multi-racial Britain’s first modern post-war race riot, the 1958 Notting Hill riot in London 1958, began with a public argument between an interracial couple, when white passers-by joined in on the side of the white woman against her black Jamaican husband (and pimp) before turning on them both.
Meanwhile, Britain’s most recent unambiguous race riot, the 2005 Birmingham riot, an entirely non-white affair, was ignited by the allegation that a black girl had been gang-raped by South Asians.
Meanwhile, at least in the west, whites no longer seem participate in race riots, save as victims. However, an exception was the 2005 Cronulla riots in Sydney, Australia, which were ignited by the allegation that Middle Eastern males were sexually harassing white Australian girls on Sydney beaches.
Thus, in Race: The Reality of Human Differences(which I have reviewed here, here and here) Sarich and Miele caution that miscegenation, often touted as the universal panacea to racism simply because, if practiced sufficiently widely, it would eventually eliminate all racialdifferences, or at least blur the lines between racial groups, may actually, at least in the short-term, actually incite racist attacks.
This, they argue, is because:
“Viewed from the racial solidarist perspective, intermarriage is an act of race war. Every ovum that is impregnated by the sperm of a member of a differentrace is one less of that precious commodity to be impregnated by a member of its own race and thereby ensure its survival” (Race: The Reality of Human Differences: p256)
This “racial solidarist perspective” is, of course, a crudely group selectionist view of Darwinian competition, and it leads Sarich and Miele to hypothesize:
“Paradoxically, intermarriage, particularly of females of the majority group with males of a minority group, is the factor most likely to cause some extremist terrorist group to feel the need to launch such an attack” (Race: The Reality of Human Differences: p255).
 Actually, however, contrary to Brigandt’s critique, it is clear that van den Berghe intended his “biological golden rule” only as a catchy and memorable aphorism, crudely summarizing Hamilton’s rule, rather than a quantitative scientific law akin to, or rivalling, Hamilton’s Rule itself. Therefore, this aspect of Brigandt’s critique is, in my view, misplaced. Indeed, it is difficult to see how this supposed rule could be applied as a quantitative scientific law, since relatedness, on the one hand, and altruism, on the other, are measured in different currencies.
“In many cases, the common descent acribed to an ethny is fictive. In fact, in most cases, it is partly fictive” (p27).
 The question of racial nationalism (i.e. encompassing all members of a given race, not just those of a single ethnicity or language group) is actually more complex. Certainly, members of the same race do indeed share some degree of kinship, in so far as they are indeed (almost by definition) on average more closely biologically related to one another than to members of other races – and indeed that relatedness is obviously apparent in their phenotypic resemblance to one another. This suggests that racial nationalist movements such as that of, say, UNIA or of the Japanese imperialists, might have more potential as a viable form of nationalism than do attempts to unite racially disparate ethnicities, such as civic nationalismin the contemporary USA. The same may also be true of Oswald Mosley’s Europe a Nation campaign, at least while Europe remained primarily monoracial (i.e. white). However, any such racial nationalism would incorporate a far larger and more culturally, linguistically and genetically disparate group than any form of nationalism that has previously proven capable of mobilizing support. Thus, Marcus Garvey’s attempt to create a kind of pan-African ethnic identity enjoyed little success and was largely restricted to North America, where African-Americans, do indeed share a common language and culture in addition to their race. Similarly, the efforts of Japanese nationalists to mobilize a kind of pan-Asian nationalism in support of their imperial aspirations during the first half of the twentieth century was an unmitigated failure, though this was partly because of the brutality with which they conquered and suppressed the other Asian nationalities whose support for pan-Asianism they intermittently and half-heartedly sought to enlist. On the other hand, it is sometimes suggested that, in the early twentieth century, a white supremacist ideology was largely taken for granted among whites. However, while to some extent true, this shared ideology of white supremacism did not prevent the untold devastation wrought by the European wars of the early twentieth century, namely World Wars I and II, which Patrick Buchanan has collectively termed ‘The Great Civil War of the West’. Thus, European nationalisms usually defined themselves by opposition to other European peoples and powers. Thus, just as Irish nationalism is defined largely by opposition to Britain, and Scottish nationalism by opposition to England, so English (and British) nationalism has itself traditionally been directed against rival European powers such as France and Germany (and formerly Spain), while French nationalism seems to have defined itself primarily in opposition to the Germans and the British, and German nationalism in opposition to the French and Slavs, etc. It is true that, in the USA, a kind of pan-white American nationalism did seem to prevail in the early twentieth century, albeit initially limited to white protestants, and excluding at least some recent European immigrants (e.g. Italians, Jews). This is, however, a consequence of the so-called ‘melting pot’, and really only amounts to yet another parochial nationalism, namely that of a newly-formed ethnic group – white Americans. At any rate, today white American nationalism is, at most, decidedly muted in form – a kind of implicit white racial consciousness, or, to coin a phrase, ‘the nationalism that dare not speak its name’. Thus, Van den Berghe observes:
“In the United States, the whites are an overwhelming majority, so much so that they cannot be meaningfully conceived of as a ruling group at all. The label ‘white’ in the United States does not correspond to a well-defined ethnic or racial group with a high degree of social organization or even self-consciousness, except regionally in the south” (p183).
Van den Berghe wrote this in 1981. Today, of course, whites are no longer such an “overwhelming majority” of the US population. On the contrary, they are already well on the way to becoming a minority in America, a milestone that is likely to be reached over the coming decades. Yet, curiously, white ‘racially consciousness’ is seemingly even more muted and implicit today than it was back when van den Berghe authored his book – and this is seen even in the South, which van den Berghe cited as an exception and lone bastion of white identity politics. True, White Southerners may vote as a solidly for Republican candidates as they once did for the Democrats. However, overt appeals to white racial interests are now as anathema in the South as elsewhere. Thus, as recently as 1990, a more or less open white racialist like David Duke was able to win a majority of the white vote in Louisiana in his run for the Senate. Today, this is unimaginable. If the reason that whites lack any ‘racial consciousness’ is indeed, as van den Berghe claims, because they represent such an “overwhelming majority” of the American population, then it is interesting to speculate if and when, during the ongoing process of white demographic displacement, this will cease to be the case. One thing seems certain: If and when it does ever occur, it will be too late to make any difference to the ongoing process of demographic displacement that some have termed ‘The Great Replacement’ or a ‘third demographic transition’.
 Actually, I suspect that, on average, at least historically, both mothers and fathers may indeed, on average, have provided rather less care for their mixed-race offspring than for offspring of the same race as themselves, simply because mixed-race offspring were more likely to be born out of wedlock, not least because interracial marriage was, until recently, strongly frowned upon, and both mothers and fathers tended to provide less care for illegitimate offspring, fathers because they often refused to acknowledge their illegitimate offspring and had little or no contact with them, and mothers because, lacking paternal support, they usually had no means of raising their illegitimate offspring alone and hence often gave them up for adoption or fostering.
“Long distance migrations have easily occurred on foot and over several generations, bringing people who look different for genetic reasons into contact with each other. Examples include the Bantu in South Africa living close to the Khoisans, or the pygmies living close to non-pygmies. The various groups in Rwanda and Burundi look quite different and came into contact with each other on foot. Harpending notes that it is ‘very likely’ that such encounters between peoples who look different for genetic reasons have been common for the last 40,000 years of human history; the view that humans were mostly sessile and living at a static carrying capacity is contradicted by history and by archaeology. Harpending points instead to ‘starbursts of population expansion’. For example, the Inuits settled in the arctic and exterminated the Dorsets within a few hundred years; the Bantu expansion into central and southern Africa happened in a millennium or less, prior to which Africa was mostly the yellow (i.e., Khoisan) continent, not the black continent. Other examples include the Han expansion in China, the Numic expansion in northern America, the Zulu expansion in southern Africa during the last few centuries, and the present day expansion of the Yanomamo in South America. There has also been a long history of invasions of Europe from the east. ‘In the starburst world people would have had plenty of contact with very different looking people’” (Macdonald 2001: p70).
 Others have argued that the differences between Tutsi and Hutu are indeed largely a western creation, part of the ‘divide and rule’ strategy supposedly deliberately employed by European colonialists, as well as a theory of Tutsi racial superiority promulgated by European racial anthropologists known as the ‘Hamitic theory’ of Tutsi origins, which suggested that the Tutsi had migrated from the Horn of Africa, and had benefited from Caucasoid ancestry, as reflected in their supposed physiological differences from the indigenous Hutu (e.g. lighter complexions, greater height, narrower noses). On this view, the distinction between Hutu and Tutsi was originally primarily socioeconomic rather than racial, and, at least formerly, the boundaries between the two groups were quite fluid. I suspect this view is nonsense, reflecting political correctness and the leftist tendency to excuse any evidence of dysfunction or oppression in non-Western cultures as necessarily of product of the malign influence of western colonizers. (Most preposterously, even the Indian caste system hasbeenblamedonBritishcolonizers, although it actually predated them, in one form or another, by several thousand years.) With respect to the division between Tutsi and Hutu, there are not only morphological differences between the two groups in average stature, nose width and complexion, but also substantial differences in the prevalence of genes for lactose tolerance and sickle-cell. These results do indeed seem to suggest that, as predicted by the reviled ‘Hamitic theory’, the Tutsi do indeed have affinities with populations from the Horn of Africa and East Africa. Modern genome analysis tends to confirm this conclusion.
 Exceptions, where immigrant groups retain their distinctive language for multiple generations, occur where immigrants speaking a particular language arrive in sufficient numbers, and are sufficiently isolated in ethnic enclaves and ghettos, that they mix primarily or exclusively with people speaking the same language as themselves. A related exception is in respect of economically, politically or socially dominant minorities, such as alien colonizers, as well as ‘market-dominant’ or ‘middleman minorities’, who often resist assimilation into the mainstream culture precisely so as to maintain their cultural separateness and hence their privileged position within society, and who also, partly for this reason, take steps to socialize, and ensure their offspring socialize, primarily among their own group.
 Some German-Americans were also interred during World War II. However, far fewer were interred than among Japanese-Americans, especially on a per capita basis. Nevertheless, some German-Americans were treated very badly indeed, yet the latter, unlike the Japanese, have yet to receive a government apology or compensation. Moreover, there was perhaps justification for the differing treatment accorded Japanese- and German-Americans, since the latter were generally longer established and more integrated, and there was perceived to be a real threat of enemy sabotage. Also, with regard to van den Berghe’s observation that nuclear atomic weapons were used only against Japan, this is rather misleading. Nuclear weapons could not have been used against Germany, since, by the time of the first test detonation of a nuclear device, Germany had already surrendered. Yet, in fact, the Manhattan Project seems to have been begun with the Germans very much in mind as a prospective target. (Many of thescientistsinvolvedwereJewish, many having fled Nazi-occupied Europe for America, and hence their hostility towards the Nazis, and perhaps Germans in general, is easy to understand.) Whether it is true that, as van den Berghe claims, atomic bombs were never actually likely to be “dropped over, say, Stuttgart or Dortmund” is a matter of supposition. Certainly, there were great animosity towards the Germans in America, as illustrated by the Morgenthau Plan, which, although ultimately never put into practice, was initially highly influential in directing US policy in Europe and even supported by President Roosevelt. On the other hand, Roosevelt’s references to ‘the Nazis, the Fascists, and the Japanese’ might simply reflect the fact that there was no obvious name for the faction or regime in control of Japan during the Second World War, since, unlike in Germany and Italy, no named political party had seized power. I am therefore unconvinced that a great deal can necessarily be read into this.
 This was especially so in historical times, before the development of improved technologies of long-distance transportation (ships, aeroplanes) enabled more distantly related populations to come into contact, and hence conflict with one another (e.g. blacks and whites in the USA and South Africa, South Asians and English in the UK or under the British Raj). Thus, the ancient Indian treatise on statecraft and strategy, Arthashastra, observed that a ruler’s natural enemies are his immediate neighbours, whereas his next-but-one neighbours, being immediate neighbours of his own immediate neighbours, are his natural allies. This is sometimes credited as the origin of the famous aphorism, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’.
 The idea that neighbouring groups tend to be in conflict with one another precisely because, being neighbours, they are also in close contact, and hence competition, with one another, ironically posits almost the exact opposite relationship between ‘contact’ and intergroup relations than that posited by the famous ‘contact theory’ of mid-twentieth psychology, which posited that increased contact between members of different racial and ethnic groups would lead to reduced prejudice and animosity. This, of course, depends, at least partly, on the nature of the ‘contact’ in question. Contact that involves territorial rivalry, economic competition and war, obviously exacerbates conflict and animosity. In contrast, proponents of ‘contact theory’ typically had in mind personal contact, rather than, say, the sort of impersonal, but often deadly, contact that occurs between rival belligerent combatants in wartime. In fact, however, even at the personal level, contact can take many different forms, and often functions to increase inter-ethnic animosity. Hence the famous proverb, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. Indeed, social psychologists now concede that only ‘positive’ interactions with members with members of other groups (e.g. friendship, cooperation, acts of altruism, mutually beneficial trade) reduces animosity and conflict. In contrast, negative interactions (e.g. being robbed, mugged or attacked by members of another group) only serves to reinforce, exacerbate, or indeed create intergroup animosity. This, of course, reduces the ‘contact hypothesis’ to little more than common sense – positive experiences with a given group lead to positive perceptions of that group; negative interactions to negative perceptions. This in turn suggests that stereotypes are often based on real experiences and therefore tend to be true – if not of all individuals, then at least at the statistical, aggregate group level. I would add that, anecdotally, even positive interactions with members of disdained outgroups do not always shift perceptions regarded the disdained outgroup as a whole. Instead, the individuals with whom one enjoys positive interactions, and even friendships, are often seen as exceptions to the rule (‘one of the good ones’), rather than representative of the demographic to which they belong. Hence the familiar phenomenon of even virulent racists having friendships and sometimes even heroes among members of races whom they generally otherwise disdain.
 However, Van den Berghe acknowledges that racially diverse societies have lived in “relative harmony” in places such as Latin America, where government gives no formal political recognition to racial groups (e.g. racial preferences and quotas for members of certain races) and where the latter do not organize on a racial basis, such that government is, in van den Berghe’s terminology, “non-racial” rather than “multiracial” (p190). However, this is perhaps a naïvely benign view of race relations in Latin American countries such as Brazil, which is, despite the fluidity of racial identity and lack of clear dividing lines between races, nevertheless now viewed by most social scientists, not so much as a model ‘racial democracy’, so much as a racially-stratified ‘pigmentocracy’ , where skin tone correlates with social status. It is also arguably an outdated view of race relations in Latin America, because, perhaps due to indirect cultural and political influence emanating from the USA, ethnic groups in much of Latin America (e.g. blacks in Brazil, indigenous populations in Bolivia) increasingly do organize and agitate on a racial basis.
 I am careful here not to refer to refer the dominant culture as that of either a ‘host population’ or a ‘majority population’, or the subordinate group as a ‘minority group’ or an incoming group of migrants. This is because sometimes newly-arrived settlers successfully assimilate the indigenous populations among whom they settle, and sometimes it is the majority group who ultimately assimilate to the norms and culture of the minority. Thus, for example, the Anglo-Saxons imposed their Germanic language on the indigenous inhabitants of what is today England, and indeed ultimately most of the inhabitants of Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well, even though they likely never represented a majority of the population even in England, and may have made only a comparativelymodest contribution to the ancestry of the people whom we today call ‘English’.
 Interestingly, and no doubt controversially, Van den Berghe argues that blacks in the USA do not have any distinctive cultural traits that distinguish them from the white American mainstream, and that their successful assimilation has been prevented only by the fact that, until very recently, whites have refused to ‘assimilate’ them. He is particularly skeptical regarding the notion of any cultural inheritances from Africa, dismissing “the romantic search for survivals of African Culture” as “elusive” (p177). Indeed, for van den Berghe, the whole notion of a distinct African-American culture is “largely ideological and romantic” (p177). “Afro-Americans are,” he argues, “culturally ‘Anglo-Saxon’” and hence paradoxically ”asAnglo as anyone… in America” (p177). He concludes:
“Ghetto lumpenproletariat blacks in Chicago, Detroit and New York may seem to have a distinct subculture of their own compared collectively to their white neighbors, but the black Mississippi sharecropper is not very different, except for his skin pigment, from his white counterparts” (p177).
“Afro-Americans owe their distinctiveness overwhelmingly to the fact that they have been first enslaved and then stigmatized as a pariah group. They lack a territorial base, the necessary economic, and political resources and the cultural and linguistic pluralism ever to constitute a successful nation. Their pluralism is strictly a structural pluralism inflicted on them by racism. A stigma is hardly an adequate basis for successful nationalism” (p184).
 It has even given rise to a popular new hairstyle among young white males attempting to escape the stigma of whiteness by adopting a racially ambiguous appearance – the ‘mulatto perm’.
 Interestingly, the examples cited by Paddy Hannam in his piece on the phenomenon, ‘The rise of the race fakers’ also seem to have been female (Hannam 2021). Steve Sailer wisely counsels caution with regard to the findings of this study, noting that anyone willing to lie about their ethnicity on their college application, is also likely even more willing to lie in an anonymous survey (Sailer 2021 ; see also Hood 2007).
 Actually, the Northern Ireland settlement is often classed as ‘centripetalist’ rather than ‘consociationalist’. However, the distinction is minimal, with the former arrangement representing a modification of the latter designed to encourage cross-community cooperation, and prevent, or at least mitigate, the institutionalization and ossification of the ethnic divide that is perceived to occur under consociationalism, where constitutional recognition is accorded to the divide between the two (or more) communities. There is, however, little evidence that centripetalism have ever actually been successful in encouraging cross-community cooperation, beyond what is necessitated by the consitutional system, let alone encouraging assimilation of the rival communities and the depoliticization of ethnic identity.
 The reason for the difference in the attitudes of leftists and liberals towards majority-rule in Northern Ireland and South Africa respectively seems to reflect the fact that, whereas in Northern Ireland, the majority protestant population were perceived of as the dominant ‘oppressor’ group, the black majority in South Africa were perceived of as ‘oppressed’. However, it is hard to see why this would mean black majority-rule in South Africa would be any less oppressive of South Africa’s white, ‘coloured’, and Asian minorities than Protestant majority rule had been of Catholics in Ulster. On the contrary, precisely because the black majority in South Africa perceive themselves as having been ‘oppressed’ in the past, they are likely to be especially vengeful and feel justified in seeking recompense for their earlier perceived oppression. This indeed seems to be what is occurring in South Africa, and Zimbabwe, today. Interestingly, van den Berghe, writing in 1981 was wisely prophetic regarding the long-term prospects for both apartheid – and for white South Africans. Thus, on the one hand he predicted:
“Past experience with decolonization elsewhere in Africa, especially in Zimbabwe (which is in almost every respect a miniature version of South Africa) seems to indicate that the end of white domination is in sight. The only question is whether it will take the form of a prolonged civil war, a negotiatedpartition or a frantic white exodus. The odds favor, I think, a long escalating war of attrition accompanied by a gradual economic winddown and a growingwhiteemigration” (p174).
Thus, van den Berghe was right in so far as he predicted the looming end of the apartheid system – though hardly unique in making this prediction. However, he was wrong in his predictions as to how this end would come about. On the other hand, however, with ongoing farm murders and the overtly genocidal rhetoric of populist politicians like Julius Malema, van den Berghe was probably right regarding the long-term prognosis of the white community in South Africa when he observed:
“Five million whites perched precariously at the tip of a continent inhabited by 400 millions blacks, with no friends in sight. No matter what happens whites will lose heavily, perhaps their very lives, or at least their place in the African sun that they love so much” (p172).
However, perhaps surprisingly, van den Berghe denies that apartheid was entirely a failure:
“Although apartheid failed in the end, it was a rational course for the Afrikaners to take, given their collective aims, and probably did postpone the day of reckoning by about 30 years” (p174).
 The only other polity that perhaps has a competing claim to representing the world’s model consociationalist democracy is Switzerland. However, van den Berghe emphasizes that Switzerland is very much a special case, the secret of its success being that:
“Switzerland is one of those rare multiethnic states that did not originate either in conquest or in the breakdown of multinational empires” (p194).
It managed to avoid conquest by its richer and more powerful neighbours simply because:
“The Swiss had the dual advantage in resisting outside conquest: favorable terrain and lack of natural resources” (p194)
Also, it provided valuable services to these neighbours, first providing mercenaries to fight in their armed forces and later specialising in the manufacture of watches and what van den Berghe terms “the management of shady foreigners’ ill-gotten capital” (p194). In reality, however, although divided linguistically and religiously, Switzerland does not, in van den Berghe’s constitute true consociationalism, since the country, with originated as confederation of fomerly independent hill tribes, remains highly decentralized, and power is shared, not by ethnic groups, but rather between regional cantons. Therefore, van den Berghe concludes:
“The ethnic diversity of Switzerland is only incidental to the federalism, it does not constitute the basis for it” (p196-7).
In addition, most cantons, where much of the real power lies, are themselves relatively monoethnic and monoliguistic, at least as compared to the country as a whole.
 Indeed, since the Slavs of Eastern Europe were the last group in Europe to be converted to Christianity, and it was forbidden by Papal decree to enslave fellow-Christians or sell Christian slaves to non-Christians (i.e. Muslims, among whom there was a great demand for European slaves), Slavs were preferentially targeted by Christians for enslavement, and even those non-Slavic people who were enslaved or sold into bondage were often falsely described as Slavs in order to justify their enslavement and sale to Muslim slaveholders. The Slavs, for geographic reasons, were also vulnerable to capture and enslavement directly by the Muslims themselves.
 In the antebellum American South, much is made of the practice of slave-owners selling the spouses and offspring of their slaves to other masters, thereby breaking up families. On the basis of van den Berghe’s arguments, this might actually have represented an effective means of preventing slaves from putting down roots and developing families and slave communities, and might therefore have helped perpetuate the institution of slavery. However, even assuming that such practices would indeed have had this effect, it is doubtful that there was any such deliberate long-term policy among slaveholders to break up families in this way. On the contrary, van den Berghe reports:
“It is not true that slave owners systematically broke up slave couples… On the contrary, it was in their interest to foster stable slave families for the sake of morale, and to discourage escape” (p133).
Thus, though it certainly occurred and may indeed have been tragic where it did occur, slaveholders generally preferred to keep slave families intact, precisely because, in forming families, slaves would indeed ‘put down roots’ and hence be less likely to try to escape, lest, in the process, they would leave other family members behind to face the vengeance of their former owners alone and without any protection and support they might otherwise have been in a position to offer. The threat of breaking up families, however, surely remained a useful tool in the arsenal of slaveholders to maintain control over slaves.
 While acknowledging, and indeed emphasizing, the virulence of western racialism, van den Berghe, bemoaning the intrusion of “moralism” (and, by extension, ethnomasochism) into scholarship, has little time for the notion that western slavery was intrinsically more malign than forms of slavery practised in other parts of the world or at other times in history (p116). This, he dismisses as “the guilt ascription game: whose slavery was worse?” (p128). Male slaves in the Islamic world, for example, were routinely castrated before being sold (p117). Thus, while it is true that slaves in the American South had unusually low rates of manumission (i.e. the granting of freedom to slaves), they also enjoyed surprisingly high standards of living, were well-fed and enjoyed long lives. Indeed, not only did slaves in the American South enjoy standards of living superior to those of most other slave populations, they even enjoyed, by some measures, higher standards of living than many non-slave populations, including industrial workers in Europe and the Northern United States, and poor white Southerners, during the same time period (The End of Racism: p88-91; see also Time on the Cross: the Economics of American Slavery). Ironically, living standards were so high for the very same reason that rates of manumission were so low – namely, slaves, especially after the abolition and suppression of the transatlantic slave-trade (but also even before then due to the costs of transportation during the ‘middle passage’) were an expensive commodity. Masters therefore fully intended to get their money’s worth out of their slaves, not only by rarely granting them their freedom, but also ensuring that they lived a long and healthy life. In this endeavour, they were surprisingly successful. Thus, van den Berghe reports, in the fifty years that followed the prohibition on the import of new slaves into the USA in 1908, the black population of the USA nevertheless more than tripled (p128). In short, slaves may have been property, but they were valuable property – and slaveholders made every effort to protect their investment. Ironically, therefore, indentured servants (themselves, in America, often white, and later, in Africa, usually South or East Asian) were, during the period of their indenture, often worked harder, and forced to live in worse conditions, than were actual slaves. This was because, since they were indentured for only a set number of years before they would be free, there was less incentive on the part of their owners to ensure that they lived a long and healthy life. Van den Berghe concludes:
“The blanket ascription of collective racial guilt for slavery to ‘whites’ that is so dear to many liberal social scientists is itself a product of the racist mentality produced by slavery. It takes a racist to ascribe causality and guilt to racial categories” (p130).
Indeed, as Dinesh D’Souza in The End of Racism, and Thomas Sowell in his essay ‘The Real History of Slavery’ included in the collection Black Rednecks and White Liberals, both emphasize, whereas all civilizations have practised slavery, what was unique about western civilization was that it was the first civilization ever known to have abolished slavery (at, as it ultimately turned out, no little economic cost to itself). Therefore, even if liberals and leftists do insist that we play what van den Berghe disparagingly calls “the guilt ascription game”, then white westerners actually come out rather well in the comparison.
 Indeed, in most cultures and throughout most of history, the use of female slaves as concubines was, not only widespread, but also perfectly socially acceptable. For example, in the Islamic world, the use of female slaves as concubines was entirely open and accepted, not only attracting literally no censure or criticism in the wider society or culture, but also receiving explicit prophetic sanction in the Quran. For this reason, in the Islamic world, females slaves tended to be in greater demand than males, and usually commanded a higher price. In contrast, most slaves transported to the Americas were male, since males were more useful for hard, intensive agricultural labour and, in puritanical North America, sexual contact with between slaveholder and slave was very much frowned upon, even though it certainly occurred. Thus, van den Berghe cynically observes:
“Concubinage with slaves was somewhat more clandestine and hypocritical in the English and Dutch colonies than in the Spanish, Portuguese and French colonies where it was brazen, but there is no evidence that the actual incidence of interbreeding was any higher in the Catholic countries” (p132).
“First-class blacksmiths were being sold for $2,500 and prime field hands for about $1,800, but a particularly beautiful girl or young woman might bring $5,000” (Roll, Jordan, Roll: p416).
 Actually, exploitation can still be an adaptive strategy, even in respect of close biological relatives. This depends of the precise relative gain and loss in fitness to both the exploiter (the slave owner) and his victim (the slave), and their respective coefficient of relatedness, in accordance with Hamilton’s rule. Thus, it is possible that a slaveholder’s genes may benefit more from continuing to exploit his slaves as slaves than by freeing them, even if the latter are also his kin. Possibly the best strategy will often be a compromise of, say, keeping your slave-kin in bondage, but treating them rather better than other non-related slaves, or freeing them after your death in your will. Of course, this is not to suggest that individual slaveholders consciously (or subconsciously) perform such a calculation, nor even that their actual behaviour is usually adaptive. Slaveholding is likely an ‘environmental novelty’ to which we are yet to have evolved adaptive responses.
 Others suggest that Thomas Jefferson himself did not father any offspring with Sally Hemmings and that the more likely father is Jefferson’s wayward younger brother Randolph, who would, of course, share the same Y chromosome as his elder brother. For present purposes, this is not especially important, since, either way, Heming’s offspring would be blood relatives of Jefferson to some degree, hence likely influencing his decision to free them or permit them to escape.
 Quite how this destruction can be expected to have manifested itself is not spelt out by van den Berghe. Perhaps, with each passing generation, as slaves became more and more closely biologically related to their masters, more and more slaves would have been freed until there were simply no more left. Alternatively, perhaps, as slaves and slaveowners increasingly became biological kin to one another, the institution of slavery would gradually have become less oppressive and exploitative until ultimately it ceased to constitute true slavery at all. At any rate, in the Southern United States this (supposed) process was forestalled by the American Civil War and Emancipation Proclamation, and neither does it appear to have occurred in Latin America.
 Another area of conflict between Marxism and Darwinism is the assumption of the former that somehow all conflict and exploitation will end in a future posited communist utopia. Curiously, although healthily cynical about exploitation under Soviet-style communism (p60), van den Berghe describes himself as an anarchist (van den Berghe 2005). However, anarchism seems even more hopelessly utopian than communism, given humanity’s innate sociality and desire to exploit reproductive competitors. In short, a Hobbesianstate of nature is surely no one’s utopia (except perhaps Ragnar Redbeard).
 The idea that there is “ambivalence in relations between black men and women in America” seems anecdotally plausible, given, for example, the delightfully misogynistic lyrics found in much African-American rap music. However, it is difficult to see how this could be a legacy of the plantation era, when everyone alive today is several generations removed from that era and living in a very different sexual and racial milieu. Today, black men do rather better in the mating market place than do black women, with black men being much more likely to marry non-black women than black women are to marry non-black men, suggesting that black men have a larger dating pool from which to choose (Sailer 1997; Fryer 2007). Moreover, black men and women in America today are, of course, the descendants of both men and women. Therefore, even if black women did have a better time of it that black men in the plantation era, how would black male resentment be passed down the generations to black men today, especially given that most black men are today raised primarily by their mothers in single-parent homes and often have little or no contact with their fathers?
“The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.”
 A popular alt-right meme has it that there are literally no white-on-black rapes. This is, of course, untrue, and reflects the misreadingof a table in a US departnment of Justice report that actually involved only a small sample. In fact, the government does not currently release data on the prevalence of interracial rape. Nevertheless, the US Department of Justice report (mis)cited by some white nationalists does indeed suggest that black-on-white rape is much more common than white-on-black rape in the contemporary USA, a conclusion corroborated by copious other data (e.g. Lebeau 1985). Thus, in his book Paved with Good Intentions, Jared Taylor reports:
“In a 1974 study in Denver, 40 percent of all rapes were of whites by blacks, and not one case of white-on-black-rape was found. In general, through the 1970s, black-on-white rape was at last ten times more common than white-on-black rape… In 1988 there were 9,406 cases of black-on-white rape and fewer than ten cases of white-on-black rape. Another researcher concludes that in 1989, blacks were three or four times more likely to commit rape than whites and that black men raped white women thirty times as often as white men raped black women” (Paved with Good Intentions: p93).
“Some researchers have suggested, because of the frequency with which African Americans select white victims (about 55 percent of the time), it [rape] could be considered an interracial crime” (Criminology: A Global Perspective: p544).
To validate flawed sociological dogmas such as cultural determinism and feminism, generations of American anthropologists have bravely ventured into remote deserts, jungles and other dangerous, primitive and inhospitable corners of the globe in an effort to discover (or, if necessary, to fabricate) the existence of a society in which traditional western sex-roles are reversed.
However, way back in the early-1970s, Milner and Milner, two American anthropologists, discovered precisely what their colleagues have been searching for in vain, namely a culture in which sex roles are reversed, right in America’s own backyard – or rather in America’s own backstreets.
This was the underground subculture of pimps and ‘hos’. Here, in stark contrast to the traditional sexual division of labour in western (and indeed many non-western) societies:
“Women are the economic providers… [whereas] a man may spend hours a day on his hair, clothes and toilette while his women are out working to support the household” (p5).
Another feature of the pimp lifestyle at odds with mainstream American culture is the prevalence of polygyny. Thus, Milner report that many pimp-ho households are polygynous, being composed of a single pimp and several prostitutes, and polygyny is regarded as the ideal (p5).
Interestingly, this family structure and pattern of economic activity in many respects parallels that still prevailing in much of sub-Saharan Africa, where polygyny is ubiquitous and women are self-supporting and perform most agricultural labour (Draper 1989).
One controversial interpretation, then, is that people of black African descent are genetically predisposed to such a mating system since it was adaptive in much of sub-Saharan African, and that African-Americans are simply recreating in America an approximation of the mating system, and economic system, of their African forebears.
Of course, since pimp culture has now been popularized by generations of ‘gangsta rappers’, the “secret world” promised by the authors in their subtitle may be more familiar to modern readers than on the book’s first publication in 1972 (though, even then, blaxploitation films had already introduced the black pimp archetype to the wider public). However, the picture created in rap lyrics is necessarily so comically caricatured out of all recognition that the Milners’ exploration of the reality behind the absurd caricature remains as revelatory as ever.
Male Dominance and Pimp Philosophy
Of course, although women are the economic providers and pimps concerned with their clothes and appearance, in one crucial respect, conventional sex roles appear to be, not reversed, but rather accentuated in American pimp culture.
Thus, in American pimp culture, male dominance was, the Milners’ emphasize, absolute and categorical.
However, what the Milners refer as ‘pimp philosophy’, namely the worldview and philosophy passed down among pimps from mentor to student and described by the Milners in detail, raises serious questions about whether this too, in some respects, represents a reversal of the sex roles apparent in mainstream society and whether, in ‘square’ society, it is indeed men who are really dominant (see also The Myth of Male Power: which I have reviewed here and here).
Thus, according to the ‘pimp philosophy’:
“Whitemen (and square blacks) are thought to be ‘pussy-whipped’ by their wives after having been brain washed by their mothers to accept female dominance as the natural order of things. Most families today are controlled by women, who direct the goals and manage the money… by withholding sexual favours” (p161).
Thus, Martha Barletta reports that reports that women are responsible for about 80% of household spending in modern America (Marketing to Women: p4); while another marketing researcher, Bernice Kanner, reports that women make approximately 88% of retail purchases in the US (see Pocketbook Power: p5).
Thus, according to ‘pimp philosophy’, square husbands are ‘pimped’ by their wives every bit as ruthlessly as street-prostitutes, by being obliged to earn money and financially support their wives in return for sexual favours.
Thus, according to ‘pimp philosophy’, the Milners report: “The highest level of prostitution is—the wife!” (p221).
“Whether the men want to admit it or not, every woman is a ho regardless of what the status is—housewife, nun, prostitutes, whatever you want to say. The Housewife gets longevity, you know. She gets the vacation every year, she gets the security with the fella on the twenty-five-dollar-a-year job. Vacation every summer, the golf club, country club” (p227)
Interestingly, this view of male-female relations directly converges with that of anti-feminists such as Esther Vilar who expressed similar ideas in her book 1971 classic, The Manipulated Man, which I have reviewed here.
For example, one pimp describes how wives supposedly bear children only, or at least primarily, because:
“She knows once she has one or two babies she’s gonna have him locked down tight and even if he leaves she can still get four or five hundred dollars a month [in maintenance payments] if he’s making any kind of money” (p227).
This parallels Vilar’s description in The Manipulated Man of offspring as “hostages” in her chapter title “children as hostages”, since they are used, like hostages kidnapped in order to make a ransom demand, to demand additional monies from the unfortunate father. Thus, the pimp quoted by the Milners explains:
“His wife is pimping him, see? She gets him to get up every morning, cooks his breakfast to make sure he’s good and strong, gives him his vitamin pills and everything, hands him his little briefcase, you know, so he can get out there and get the buck so she can go play bridge, go get her hair done, understand?” (p229)
The pimp-ho relationship is then directly analogous to the relationship between husband and wife, only with the gender roles reversed. Thus, in the endnote to chapter one, the Milners approvingly quote sociologist Travis Hirschi as observing:
“The similarity of the pimp-prostitute relationship to the husband-wife relationship, with the economic roles reversed, is too obvious to overlook” (p285; Hirschi 1962).
According to the pimps interviewed by the Milner’s during their research, the process of socializing and indoctrinating males to willingly accept their assigned role as ‘beta providers’ begins in childhood. Thus, the Milners report:
“Several pimps asserted that pimping comes from Black men being supported by their mothers as kids [in single-parent households] and deciding to continue the arrangement… Most pimps, however, believe that they were raised by their mothers not to be pimps, but to be tricks. ‘Trick marriage’ is seen by the pimps as a man’s servitude to women in exchange for ‘her pussy’” (p174-5).
Thus, since it is mothers who are responsible for most childcare, they indoctrinate their sons from infancy to accept ‘trick marriage’ and female dominance as the natural, normal and healthy state of affairs. Thus, one pimp observes:
“She is, from the time you are a kid, understand, giving you a certain set of values which in reality is a woman’s set of values. She is brainwashing you to the extent of how to treat a woman” (p176).
As a result of this indoctrination:
“If you are a boy, say twelve years old, and you see Mom and Dad fighting you naturally come to the defense of Mom… [because] from the time you were young, she’s the one who changed your diapers, bathed you, made sure that you were clothed and shoed and everything else, so you naturally come to the defense of Mom. And you forget entirely the fact that it was Dad was the one who made the money that put her in the position to do all these things in the first place. So when you become a man and encounter a woman you automatically accept the values which were taught to you there.” (p177)
“Men have been trained and conditioned by women, not unlike Pavlov conditioned his dogs, into becoming their slaves.”
Thus, Vilar observes:
“The advice a mother gives to her teenage son going out on his first date is a good example of woman’s audacity: Pay the taxi; get out first; open the door on the girl’s side and help her out. Offer her your arm going up the steps or, if they are crowded, walk behind her in case she stumbles so that you can catch her. Open the door into the foyer for her; help her out of her coat; take the coat to the cloakroom attendant; get her a program. Go in front of her when you are taking your seats and clear the way. Offer her refreshments during the intermissions – and so on” (The Manipulated Man: p40-41).
As a consequence of such early indoctrination, even one otherwise resolutely ‘red-pilled’ player acknowledged:
“There are things in me right now that I can’t help that have been conditioned over a period of time. I do things automatically, you know. I open doors for old ladies and if I go through a doorway, and hesitate and let the woman go first” (p177).
Thus, whereas the family structure of the ghetto has, on account of the prevalence of female-headed households and absent fathers, been characterized by sociologists as matriarchal, black players suggest a more nuanced interpretation:
“Although the ghetto leans towards matriachy, players admit, it isn’t as all-pervasive or as smoothly functioning as the White matriarchy of the majority. For the White man is not even aware that he lives in a matriarchy, while Black men are becoming more sensitive to being pimped by both White society and their own Black women… White men, like Samson, are still sound asleep and unaware that Delilah has cut their hair” (p171).
Indeed, the analogy with ‘red pill philosophy’ and the so-called men’s rights movement is made all but explicit by the Milners when they write:
“Woman’s liberation movement is not revolutionary, say the players. What would be truly revolutionary would be the liberation of men” (p227).
However, the black players are capitalists at heart and hence reject all political liberation movements, including, not only women’s liberation, but also black liberation:
“In this… the pimp expresses a common ghetto sentiment: ‘Fuck Black power and White power; I believe in green power’” (p223).
Thus, the Milners recount one anecdote of how:
“[When] a militant black man in the bar loudly proclaimed ‘I’m gonna get my piece and shoot all the whiteys’… another player replied, ‘Don’t do that, brother. Shit, you gonna take all my business away’” (p237).
The same would apply to the liberation of men. After all, according to pimp philosphy, it is only because:
“So-called normal and moral marriage is aberrant… [that] many husbands… pay hos for sex they cannot get at home, which [pimps] point to as the final degradation of the American male under the heel of the almighty bitchy American wife. She not only doesn’t give him what he is paying for, but forces him to go out and also pay some other woman if he wants sex. Often he pays another woman only to have a shoulder to cry on, because the wife loses respect for a man she can dominate and is unhappy in her unnatural unwomanly role as boss” (p175).
“But, of course… I wouldn’t have it any other way, trick. Because, without you and your fucked-up illusions, without your fucked-up sex life—I’d be out of business tomorrow” (p251).
Pimp Philosophy Evaluated
Pimp philosophy is certainly illuminating and thought-provoking.
It is moreover undoubtedly more insightful than feminist theory, which represents the dominant paradigm for understanding the relations between the sexes among social scientists, journalists in the mainstream media, the academic establishment, politicians, women’s rights activists and other such professional damned fools.
Indeed, although they never quite go so far as to endorse it, the Milners themselves are nevertheless clearly taken by what they call ‘pimp philosophy’, and even acknowledge:
“Once the world, and particularly the relations between the sexes, is viewed from a black player’s vantage point, things never again seem quite the same” (p243).
Indeed, according to the Milners, this is hardly surprising.
“Like the sociologist and anthropologist, pimps and hustlers depend for their livelihood on an awareness of social forces and the human psyche… [but whereas] the social scientist rarely applies his knowledge directly, and so has far more leeway than the hustler or the pimp in being wrong before he is out of a job” (p242).
In other words, unlike feminist sociologists and women’s studies professors (and indeed anthropologists like themselves), who are insulated in universities behind ivory towers at the taxpayer’s expense and can therefore can hold fast to their flawed ideological dogmas with blind faith notwithstanding all evidence to the contrary, the pimp’s psychological and sociological analysis is subject to ruthless falsification at the hands of the market forces beloved of neoliberal economists.
However, in claiming that male dominance is the natural state of humanity, pimp philosophy seems, to me, to have taken something of a wrong turn.
Thus, according to the pimps, male dominance is the natural and harmonious order of mankind, and this was disrupted only when, according to ‘pimp mythology’ (an ingenious reinterpretation of biblicalmythology), Adam gave in to sexual temptation, and was tempted by Eve to bite into the forbidden fruit (i.e. pay for sexual favours), thereby becoming, not the first man, but rather the first trick (p168-70; p259-60).
Therefore, according to the pimps, as a result of this decision to bite into the forbidden fruit, most men are no longer ‘real men’ but rather mere ‘tricks’. Pimps themselves therefore represent, according to the ‘players’ themselves:
“The only real men [left] in America today” (p162).
However, viewing male dominance as the natural and harmonious order of mankind necessarily raises the question: If, as pimps contend, male dominance is so natural and harmonious, why then is it found, at least in the West today, only among a small and exclusive subculture of pimps? What is more, why, even among pimps, is it maintained only by levels of violence and of self-control on the part of pimps far greater than that typically apparent in conventional, so-called ‘square’ relationships?
However, the real flaw in the pimp perception of male dominance as the natural and harmonious state of nature lies in the nature of the pimps’ own dominance over their prostitutes and the lifestyle and occupation of the prostitutes themselves.
Thus, as the Milners themselves observe:
“[Although] the Book [i.e. the unwritten code of how to pimp passed from mentor to student] provides a blueprint for a male-dominated society and a rationale for wrestling all control over men from women… ironically, this condition is achieved by making women’s full-time occupation the control of men who are outside the subculture” (p48).
In other words, the pimp’s exploitation of his women necessarily relies and depends on those women’s own exploitation of other men.
“A ho… is both ‘pimping’ off her customers and is being a trick [i.e. being pimped] by her man” (p213).
The ‘Book’ provides, then, not a blueprint for male domination throughout society, but rather a blueprint for domination by a necessarily small subset of men – an exploitation both of women (i.e. the prostitutes whom the pimp controls) but also, indirectly, of other men (i.e. the clients of these prostitutes).
The pimp survives, then, not only through the exploitation of women, but also, more fundamentally, by the vicarious exploitation of other men (namely the prostitutes’ clients, or, aptly named, ‘tricks’).
“A pimp is really a whore who has reversed the game on whores. So Slim, be sweet as the scratch, no sweeter, and always stick a whore for a bundle before you sex her. A whore ain’t nothing but a trick to a pimp. Don’t let ’em georgia you. Always get your money in front just like a whore.” (Pimp: The Story of My Life: xxi).
On this view, with their characteristically feminine concern for clothing, fashion, hair and hygiene and their ability, like housewives, to leech off the income of their sexual partners, pimps represent, not so much, as they themselves contend, “the only real men in America today” (p162), but rather second-rate female-impersonators.
 Indeed, many aspects of sex roles (e.g. sex differences in intraspecific aggression, and in levels of parental care) appear to be, not only cross-culturally universal, but also universal throughout the mammalian order, and indeed widespread among animals in general. This, of course, reflects the fact that they are not only innate, but moreover the product of analogousselection pressures operating among many different species (see Bateman 1948; Trivers 1972). Thus, for example, in all human societies for which data is available, men are responsible for an overwhelming majority of homicides, and also represent the majority of homicide victims. Similarly, in all documented cultures, mothers rather than fathers provide the vast majority of direct care for infants and babies.
 To illustrate just how comically caricatured public perceptions of the pimp lifestyle have become, it is worth pointing out that, in response to the use of the term in many rap songs, many people seem to believe that a ‘pimp stick’ is, to quote one definition, “an ornate or gaudy cane, as might be used by a stereotypical pimp”. In fact, however, pimps traditionally carried no such stick. Instead, the phrase ‘pimp stick’ originally referred, and among pimps presumably still refers, to a weapon composed of “two wire coat hangers twisted together” which is used by pimps as a whip with which to discipline disobedient whores (Whoreson: p212).
 Curiously, the Milners claim to have interviewed Iceberg Slim (alias Robert Beck, née Robert Lee Maupin) and refer to this supposed interview at various points in their book. However, Beck himself, without mentioning them by name, denies this in The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim (p200), where he accuses the Milners of stealing black culture, i.e. what would today be called ‘cultural appropriation’. The mysterious interview is supposedly contained in the recently published collection, Iceberg Slim: The Lost Interviews With The Pimp.
“Baker’s treatise, compendious and ponderous, is possible the last major statement of traditional race science written in English” (The Race Gallery: p61).
Inevitably for a scientific work first published over forty years ago, ‘Race’ is dated. In particular, the DNA revolution in population genetics has revolutionized our understanding of the genetic differences and relatedness between different human populations.
Lacking access to such data, Baker had only indirect phenotypic evidence (i.e. the morphological similarities and differences between different peoples), as well as historical and geographic evidence, with which to infer such relationships and hence construct his racial phylogeny and taxonomy.
Phenotypic similarity is obviously a less reliable method of determining the relatedness between groups than is provided by genome analysis, since there is always the problem of distinguishing homology from analogy and hence misinterpreting a trait that has independently evolved in different populations as evidence of relatedness.
However, I found only one case of genetic studies decisively contradicting Baker’s conclusions. Thus, whereas Baker classes the Ainu People of Japan as “Europid” (p158; p173; p424; p625), recent genetic studies suggest that the Ainu have little or no genetic affinities to Caucasoid populations and are most closely related to other East Asians.
On the other hand, however, Baker’s omission of genetic data means that, unusually for a scientific work, in the material he does cover, ‘Race’ scarcely seems to have dated at all. This is because the primary focus of Baker’s book – namely, morphological differences between races – is a field of study that has become politically suspect and in which new research has now all but ceased.
Thus, Baker’s ‘Race’ can be viewed as the final summation of the accumulated findings of the ‘old-style’ physical anthropology of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, published at the very moment this intellectual tradition was in its death throes.
Baker’s ‘Race’ is indeed a magnum opus. Unfortunately, however, at over 600 pages, embarking on reading ‘Race’ might seem almost like a lifetime’s work in and of itself.
Not only is it a very long book, but, in addition, much of the material, particularly on morphological race differences and their measurement, is highly technical, and will be readily intelligible only to the dwindling band of biological anthropologists who, in the genomic age, still study such things.
This inaccessibility is exacerbated by the fact that Baker does not use endnotes, except for his references, and only very occasionally uses footnotes. Instead, he includes even technical and peripheral material in the main body of his text, but indicates that material is technical or peripheral by printing it in a smaller font-size.
Baker’s terminology is also confusing. He prefers the ‘-id’ suffix to the more familiar ‘-oid’ and ‘-ic’ (e.g. ‘Negrid‘ and ‘Nordid‘ rather than ‘Negroid’ and ‘Nordic‘) and eschews the familiar terms ‘Caucasian’ or ‘Caucasoid’, on the grounds that:
“The inhabitants of the Caucasus region are very diverse and very few of them are typical of any large section of Europids” (p205).
However, his own preferred alternative term, ‘Europid’, is arguably equally misleading as it contributes to the already common conflation of Caucasian with white European, even though, as Baker is at pains to emphasize elsewhere in his treatise, populations from the Middle East, North Africa and even the Indian subcontinent are also ‘Europid’ (i.e. Caucasoid) in Baker’s judgement.
In contrast, the term ‘Caucasoid’, or even ‘Caucasian’, causes little confusion in my experience, since it is today generally understood as a racial term and not as a geographical reference to the Caucasus region.
Certainly, the term ‘Caucasoid’ makes little etymological sense. However, this is also true of a lot of words which we nevertheless continue to make use of. Indeed, since all words change in meaning over time, the original meaning of a word is almost invariably different to its current accepted usage.
Yet we continue to use these words so as to make ourselves intelligible to others, the only alternative being to invent an entirely new language all of our own which only we would be capable of understanding.
Unfortunately, however, too many racial theorists, Baker included, have insisted on creating entirely new racial terms of their own coinage, or sometimes new entire lexicons, which, not only causes confusion among readers, but also leads the casual reader to underestimate the actual degree of substantive agreement between different authors, who, though they use different terms, often agree regarding both the identity of, and relationships between, the major racial groupings.
Another problem is the book’s excessive historical focus.
Judging the book by its contents page, one might imagine that Baker’s discussion of the history of racial thought is confined to the first section of the book, titled “The Historical Background” and comprising four chapters that total just over fifty pages.
However, Baker acknowledges in the opening page of his preface that:
“Throughout this book, what might be called the historical method has been adopted as a matter of deliberate policy” (p3).
Thus, in the remainder of the book, Baker continues to adopt an historical perspective, briefly charting the history behind the discovery of each concept, archaeological discovery, race difference or method of measuring race differences that he introduces.
In short, it seems that Baker is not content with writing about science; he wants to write history of science too.
A case in point is Chapter Eight, which, despite its title (“Some Evolutionary and Taxonomic Theories”), actually contains very little on modern taxonomic or evolutionary theory, or even what would pass for ‘modern’ when Baker wrote the book over forty years ago.
Instead, the greater part of the chapter is devoted to tracing the history of two theories that were, even at the time Baker was writing, already wholly obsolete and discredited (namely, recapitulation theory and orthogenesis).
Let me be clear, Baker himself certainly agrees that these theories are obsolete and discredited, as this is his conclusion at the end of the respective sections devoted to discussion of these theories in his chapter on “Evolutionary and Taxonomic Theories”.
However, this only begs the question as to why Baker chooses to devote so much space in this chapter to discussing these theories in the first place, given that both theories are discredited and also of only peripheral relevance to his primary subject-matter, namely the biology of race.
Anyone not interested in these topics, or in history of science more generally, is well advised to skip the majority of this chapter.
“The Historical Background”
Readers not interested in the history of science, and concerned only with contemporary state-of-the-art science (or at least the closest an author writing in 1974 can get to modern state-of-the-art science) may also be tempted to skip over the whole first section of the book, entitled, as I have said, “The Historical Background”, and comprised of four chapters or, in total, just over fifty pages.
These days, when authoring a book on the biology of race, it seems to have become almost de rigueur to include an opening chapter, or chapters, tracing the history of race science, and especially its political misuse during nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries (e.g. under the Nazis).
The usual reason for including these chapters is for the author or authors to thereby disassociate themselves from the earlier supposed ‘misuse’ of race science for nefarious political purposes, and emphasize how their own approach is, of course, infinitely more scientific and objective than that of their sometimes less than illustrious intellectual forebears.
However, Baker’s discussion of “The Historical Background” is rather different, and refreshingly short on disclaimers, moralistic grandstanding and benefit-of-hindsight condemnations that one usually finds in such potted histories.
Instead, Baker strives to give all views, howsoever provocative, a fair hearing in as objective and sober a tone as possible.
Only Lothrop Stoddard, strangely, is dismissed altogether. The latter is, for Baker, an “obviously unimportant” thinker, whose book “contains nothing profound or genuinely original” (p58-9).
Yet this is perhaps unfair. Whatever the demerits of Stoddard’s racial taxonomy (“oversimplified to the point of crudity,” according to Baker: p58), Stoddard’s geopolitical and demographic predictions have proven prescient.
Overall, Baker draws two general conclusions regarding the history of racial thought in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
First, he observes how few of the racialist authors whom he discusses were anti-Semitic. Thus, Baker reports:
The rest of the authors whom he discusses evince, according to Baker, “little or no interest in the Jewishproblem”, the only exception being Friedrich Nietzsche, who is “primarily an anti-egalitarian, but [who] did not proclaim the inequality of ethnic taxa”, and who, in his comments regarding the Jewish people, or at least those selectively quoted by Baker, is positively gushing in his praise.
Baker’s second general observation is similarly curious, namely that:
“None of the authors mentioned in these chapters claims superiority for the whole of the Europid race: it is only a subrace, or else a section of the Europid race not clearly defined in terms of physical anthropology, that is favoured” (p59).
However, this focus on the alleged superiority of certain European subraces rather than Caucasians as a whole likely reflects the fact that, during the time period in which these works were written, European peoples and nations were largely in competition and conflict with other European peoples and nations.
Only in European overseas colonies were Europeans in contact and conflict with non-European races, and, even here, the main obstacle to imperial expansion was, not so much the opposition of the often primitive non-European races whom the Europeans sought to colonize, but rather that of rival colonizers from other European nations.
Therefore, it was the relative superiority of different European populations which was naturally of most concern to Europeans during this time period.
In contrast, the superiority of the Caucasian race as a whole was of comparably little interest, if only because it was something that these writers already took very much for granted, and hence hardly worth wasting ink or typeface over.
The Rise of Racial Egalitarianism
There are two curious limitations that Baker imposes on his historical survey of racial thought. First, at the beginning of Chapter Three (‘From Gobineau to Houston Chamberlain’), he announces:
“The present chapter and the next [namely, those chapters dealing with the history of racial thinking from the mid-nineteenth century up until the early-twentieth century] differ from the two preceding ones… in the more limited scope. It is are concerned only with the growth of ideas that favoured belief in the inequality of ethnic taxa or are supposed—rightly or wrongly—to have favoured this belief” (p33).
Given that I have already criticised ‘Race’ as overlong, and as having an excessive historical focus, I might be expected to welcome this restriction. However, Baker provides no rationale for this self-imposed restriction.
Certainly, it is rare, and enlightening, to read balanced, even sympathetic, accounts of the writings of such infamous racialist thinkers as Gobineau, Galton and Chamberlain, whose racial views are today usually dismissed as so preposterous as hardly to merit serious consideration. Moreover, in the current political climate, such material even acquires a certain ‘allure of the forbidden’.
However, thinkers championing racial egalitarianism have surely proven more influential, at least in the medium-term. Yet such enormously influential thinkers as Franz Boas and Ashley Montagu pass entirely unmentioned in Baker’s account.
Moreover, the intellectual antecedents of Nazism have already been extensively explored by historians. In contrast, however, the rise of the dogma of racial equality has passed largely unexamined, perhaps because to examine its origins is to expose the weakness of its scientific basis and its fundamentally political origins.
The second restriction that Baker imposes upon his history is that he concludes it, prematurely, in 1928. He justifies closing his survey in this year on the grounds that this date supposedly:
“Marks the close of the period in which both sides in the ethnic controversy were free to put forward their views, and authors who wished to do so could give objective accounts of the evidence pointing in each direction” (p61).
Yet this cannot be entirely true, for, if it were, then Baker’s own book could never have been published – unless, of course, Baker regards his own work as something other than an “objective account of the evidence pointing in each direction”, which seems doubtful.
Certainly, the influence of what is now called political correctness is to be deplored for impact on science, university appointments, the allocation of research funds and the publishing industry. However, there has surely been no abrupt watershed but rather a gradual closing of the western mind over time.
Thus, it is notable that other writers have cited dates a little later than that quoted by Baker, often coinciding with the defeat of Nazi Germany and exposure of the Nazi genocide, or sometimes the defeat of segregation in the American South.
Indeed, not only was this process gradual, it has also proceeded apace in the years since Baker’s ‘Race’ first came off the presses, such that today such a book would surely never would have been published in the first place, certainly not by as prestigious a publisher as Oxford University Press (who, surely not uncoincidently, soon gave up the copyright).
Moreover, Baker is surely wrong to claim that it is impossible:
“To follow the general course of controversy on the ethnic problem, because, for the reason just stated [i.e. the inability of authors of both sides to publicise their views], there has been no general controversy on the subject” (p61).
Having dealt in his first section with what he calls “The Historical Background”, Baker next turns to what he calls “The Biological Background”. He begins by declaring, rightly, that:
“Racial problems cannot be understood by anyone whose interests and field of knowledge stop short at the limit of purely human affairs” (p3).
This is surely true, not just of race, but of all issues in human biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology and political science, as the recent rise of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology attests. Indeed, Baker even coins a memorable and quotable aphorism to this effect, when he declares:
Certainly, he is right to emphasise that differences among human populations are analogous to those found among other species. Thus, his discussion of racial differences among our primate cousins are of interest, but also somewhat out-of-date.
However, his intricate and fully illustrated nine-page description of race differences among the different subspecies of crested newt stretched the patience of this reader (p101-109).
Are Humans a Single Species?
Whereas Baker’s seventh chapter (“The Meaning of Race”) discusses the race concept, the preceding two chapters deal with the taxonomic class immediately above that of race, namely ‘species’.
For sexually-reproducing organisms, ‘species’ is usually defined as the largest group of organisms capable of breeding with one another and producing fertile offspring in the wild.
However, as Baker explains, things are not quite so simple.
Moreover, in respect of extinct species, it is often impossible to know for certain whether two ostensible ‘species’ interbred with one another (p72-3). Therefore, in practice, the fossils of extinct organisms are assigned to either the same or different species on morphological criteria alone.
On purely morphological criteria, Baker questions humanity’s status as a single species:
“Even typical Nordids and typical Alpinids, both regarded as subraces of a single race (subspecies), the Europid, are very much more different from one another in morphological characters—for instance in the shape of the skull—than many species of animals that never interbreed with one another in nature, though their territories overlap” (p97).
These two ostensible species (or subspecies), both found in the UK, do not interbreed with one another, but each does interbreed with intermediaries that, in turn, interbreed with the other, such that there is some indirect gene-flow between them. Interestingly, the species ranges of the different intermediaries form a literal ring around the Arctic, such that genes will travel around the Artic before passing from lesser black-backed gull to herring gull or vice versa (p76-79).
Indeed, even the ability to produce fertile offspring is a matter of degree. Thus, some pairings produce fertile offspring only rarely.
For example, often, Baker reports, “sterility affects [only] the heterogametic sex [i.e. the sex with two different sex chromosomes]” (p95). Thus, in mammals, sterility is more likely to affect male offspring. Indeed, this pattern is so common that it even has its own name, being known as Haldane’s Rule, after the famous Marxist-biologist JBS Haldane who first noted this pattern.
Other times, Baker suggests, interfertility may depend on the sex of the respective parents. For example, Baker suggests that, whereas sheep may sometimes successfully reproduce with he-goats, rams may be unable to successfully reproduce with she-goats (p95).
Moreover, the fertility of offspring is itself a matter of degree. Thus, Baker reports, some hybrid offspring are not interfertile with one another, but can reproduce with one or other of the parental stocks. Elsewhere, the first generation of hybrids are interfertile but not subsequent generations (p94).
Indeed, though it was long thought impossible, it has recently been confirmed that, albeit only very rarely, even mules and hinnies can successfully reproduce, despite donkeys and horses, the two parental stocks, having, like goats and sheep, a different number of chromosomes (Rong et al 1985; Kay 2002).
Yet, as Darwin observed as far back as 1871 when himself discussing the question as to whether human races are to be regarded as mere belonging to separate species:
“Even a slight degree of sterility between any two forms when first crossed, or in their offspring, is generally considered as a decisive test of their specific distinctness” (The Descent of Man).
Yet, although today interracial relationships are now increasingly common, and hence such relationships are not noticeably less fecund than those involving couples of the same race, Baker nevertheless concludes:
“There is no proof that hybridity among human beings is invariably eugenesic, for many of the possible crosses have not been made, or if they have their outcome does not appear to have been recorded. It is probable on inductive grounds that such marraiges would not be infertile, but it is questionable whether the hybridity would necessarily be eugenesic. For instance, statistical study might reveal a preponderance of female offpsring” (p97-8).
Is there then any evidence of reduced fertility among mixed-race couples? Not a great deal.
However, this is a simple reflection of the differences in physical size between whites and Asians, with smaller-framed Asian women having difficulty birthing larger half-white offspring. Thus, the same study also found that white women birthing offspring fathered by Asian men actually have lower rates of caesarean delivery than did women bearing offspring fathered by men of the same race as themselves (Stanford University Medical Center 2008).
This lack of selection against either European-derived (or African-derived) genes in African-Americans suggests that discordant genes did not result in reduced fitness among African-Americans.
Humans – A Domesticated Species?
A final complication in defining species is that some species of nonhuman animal, wildly recognised as separate species because they do not interbreed in the wild, nevertheless have been known to successfully interbreed in captivity.
A famous example are lions and tigers. While they have never been known to interbreed in the wild, if only because they rarely if ever encounter one another, they have interbred in captivity, sometimes even producing fertile offspring in the form of so-called ligers and tigons.
This is, for Baker, of especial relevance to question of human races since, according to Baker, we ourselves are a domesticated species. Thus, he approvingly quotes Blumenbach’s claim that:
“Man is ‘of all living beings the most domesticated’” (p95).
Thus, with regard to the question of whether humans represent a single species, Baker reaches the following controversial conclusion:
“The facts of human hybridity do not prove that all human races are to be regarded as belonging to a single ‘species’. The whole idea of species is vague because the word is used with such different meanings, none of which is of universal application. When it is used in the genetical sense [i.e. the criterion of interfertility] some significance can be attached to it, in so far as it applies to animals existing in natural conditions… but it does not appear to be applicable to human beings, who live under the most extreme conditions of domestication” (p98).
Thus, Baker goes so far as to question whether:
“Any two kinds of animals, differing from one another so markedly in morphological characters (and in odour) as, for instance, the Europid and Sanid…, and living under natural conditions, would accept one another as sexual partners” (p97).
On the contrary, they were separated from one another by the very geographic obstacles (oceans, deserts, mountain-ranges) that reproductively isolated them from one another and hence permitted their evolution into distinct races.
Thus, Northern Europeans surely never mated with sub-Saharan Africans for the simple reason that the former were confined to Northern Europe and surrounding areas while the latter were largely confined to sub-Saharan Africa, such that they are unlikely ever to have interacted.
Only with the invention of technologies facilitating long-distance travel (e.g. ocean-going ships, aeroplanes) would this change.
Ultimately then, the question of whether the human race is a single species is a purely semantic dispute. It depends how one defines the word ‘species’.
Likewise, whether human races can be said to exist ultimately depends on one’s definition of the word ‘race’.
Using the word ‘race’ interchangeably with that of ‘subspecies’, Baker provides no succinct definition. Instead, he simply explains:
“If two populations [within a species] are so distinct that one can generally tell from which region a specimen was obtained, it is usual to give separate names to the two races” (p99).
Neither does he provide a neat definition of any particular race. On the contrary, he is explicit in emphasizing:
“The definition of any particular race must be inductive in the sense that it gives a general impression of the distinctive characters, without professing to be applicable in detail to every individual” (p99).
Is Race Real?
At the conclusion of his chapter on “Hybridity and The Species Question”, Baker seems to reach what was, even in 1974, an incendiary conclusion – namely that, whether using morphological criteria or the criterion of interfertility, it is not possible to conclusively prove that all extant human populations belong to a single species (see above).
Nevertheless, in the remainder of the book, Baker proceeds on the assumption that differences among human groups are indeed subspecific (i.e. racial) in nature and that we do indeed form a single species.
“Subraces and even races sometimes hybridise where they meet, but this almost goes without saying: for if sexual revulsion against intersubracial or interracial marriages were complete, one set of genes would have no chance of intermingling with the other, and the ethnic taxa would be species by the commonly accepted definition. It cannot be too strongly stressed that intersubracial and interracial hybridization is so far from indicating the unreality of subraces and races, that it is actually a sine qua non of the reality of these ethnic taxa” (p12).
Thus, in nonhuman species among whom subspecies are recognized, there usually exist similar hybrid or intermediary populations around the boundaries of each distinct subspecies. Indeed, this phenomenon is so recurrent that there is even a biological term for it – namely ‘intergradation’.
Yet this does not cause biologists to conclude that the subspecies in question either do not exist or that their boundaries are somehow arbitrarily delineated and artificial, let alone that ‘subspecies’ is a biologically meaningless term.
Some people seem to think that, since races tend to blend into one another and hence have blurred boundaries (i.e. what biologists refer to as clinal variation), they do not really exist. Yet Baker objects:
“In other matters, no one questions the reality of categories between which intermediaries exist. There is every graduation, for instance, between green and blue, but no one denies these words should be used” (p100).
However, this is perhaps an unfortunate example, since, as psychologists and physicists agree, colours, as such, do not exist.
Instead, the spectrum of light varies continuously. Distinct colours are imposed on this continuous variation only by the human brain and visual system.
Using colour as an analogy for race is also potentially confusing because colour is already often conflated with race. Thus, races are referred to by their ostensible colours (e.g. ‘blacks’, ‘whites’, ‘browns’ etc.) and the very word ‘colour’ is sometimes even used as a synonym, or perhaps euphemism, for race, even though, as Baker is at pains to emphasize, races differ in far more than skin colour.
Using colour as an analogy for race differences is only likely to exacerbate this confusion.
Yet Baker’s other examples are similarly problematic. Thus, he writes:
“The existence of youths and human hermaphrodites does not cause anyone to disallow the use of the words, ‘boy’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’” (p100).
“We tend to use crude labels in everyday life with the realization that they are fuzzy and subjective. I doubt anyone thinks that terms such as ‘short’, ‘medium’ and ‘tall’ refer to discrete groups, or that humanity only comes in three values of height” (Relethford 2009: p21).
In short, we often resort to vague and impressionistic language in everyday conversation. However, for scientific purposes, we must surely try, wherever possible, to be more precise.
“Is social class… a useless concept because of its cline-like tendency to merge smoothly from case to case across the distribution, or because its discrete categories are determined by researchers according to their research purposes and are definitely not ‘pure’” (Race and Crime: A Biosocial Analysis: p6).
However, the same leftist social scientists who insist the race concept is an unscientific social construction, nevertheless continue to employ the concept of social class almost as if it were entirely unproblematic.
However, the objection that races do not exist because races are not discrete categories, but rather have blurred boundaries, is not entirely fallacious.
After all, sometimes intermediaries can be so common that they can no longer be said to be intermediaries at all and all that can be said to exist is continuous clinal variation, such that wherever one chose to draw the boundary between one race and another would be entirely arbitrary.
With increased migration and intermarriage, we may fast be approaching this point.
Remarkably, Baker even manages to anticipate certain erroneous objections to the race concept that had not, to my knowledge, even been formulated at the time of his writing, perhaps because they are so obviously fallacious to anyone without an a priori political commitment to the denying the validity of the race concept.
Certainly, he is at pains to emphasise that, among humans, differences between racial groups go far beyond skin colour. Indeed, he observes, one has only to look at an African albino to realize as much:
“An albino…Negrid who is fairer than any non-albino European, [yet] appears even more unlike a European than a normal…Negrid” (p160).
For Baker, these are what he calls “secondary characters” that cannot be used for the purposes of racial classification because they are not present among all members of any group, but differ only in their relative prevalence (p186).
It is therefore irrelevant from the perspective of cladistic taxonomy, whereby organisms are grouped, not on the basis of shared traits as such, but rather of shared ancestry. From the perspective of cladistic taxonomy, shared traits are relevant only to the extent they are (interpreted as) evidence of shared ancestry.
“One must always be on the lookout for the possibility of independent mutation wherever two apparently unrelated taxa resemble one another by the fact that some individuals in both groups reveal the presence of the same gene” (p189).
In evolutionary biology, this is referred to as distinguishing analogy from homology.
“There are two groups of people [i.e. races] with the conbination of dark skin and frizzy hair—sub-Saharan Africans and Melanesians. The latter have often been called ‘Oceanic Negroes,’ implying a special relationship with Africans. The blood-group data, however, show that they are about as different from Africans as they could be” (Race: The Reality of Human Differences: p134).
But Diamond’s proposed classification is even more preposterous than these early pre-Darwinian non-cladistic taxonomic schemes, since he proposes to classify races on the basis of a single trait in isolation, the trait in question (either lactose tolerance or the sickle-cell gene) being chosen either arbitrarily or, more likely, to illustrate the point that Diamond is attempting to make.
Yet even pre-Darwinian taxonomies proposed to classify species, not on the basis of a single trait, but rather on the basis of a whole suit of traits that intercorrelate together.
In short, Diamond proposes to classify races on the basis of a single character that has evolved independently in distantly related populations, instead of a whole suite of inter-correlated traits indicative of common ancestry.
Interestingly, a similar error may underlie an even more frequently cited paper by Marxist-geneticist Richard Lewontin, which argued the vast majority of genetic variation was within-group rather than between-group – since Lewontin, like Diamond, also relied on ‘secondary characters’ such as blood-groups to derive his estimates (Lewontin 1972).
The reason for the recurrence of this error, Baker explains, is that:
“Each of the differences that enable one to distinguish all the most typical individuals of any one taxon from those of another is due, as a general rule, to the action of polygenes, that is to say, to the action of numerous genes, having small cumulative effects” (p190).
Therefore, this leads to the “unfortunate paradox” whereby:
“The better the evidence of relationship or distinction between ethnic taxa, the less susceptible are the facts to genetic analysis” (p190).
As a consequence, Baker laments:
“Attention is focussed today on those ‘secondary differences’… that can be studied singly and occur in most ethnic taxa, though in different proportions in different taxa… The study of these genes… has naturally led, from its very nature, to a tendency to minimise or even disregard the extent to which the ethnic taxa of man do actually differ from one another” (p534).
“From the perspective of taste-deficiency the Europids are much closer to the chimpanzee than to the Sinids and Paiwan people; yet no one would claim that this resemblance gives a true representation of relationship” (p188).
However, applying the logic of Diamond’s article, we would be perfectly justified and within our rights to use this similarity in taste deficiency in order to classify Caucasians as a sub-species of chimpanzee!
The third section of Baker’s book, “Studies of Selected Human Groups”, focusses on the traditional subject-matter of physical anthropology – i.e. morphological differences between human groups.
Baker describes the physiological differences between races in painstaking technical detail. These parts of the book makes for an especially difficult read, as Baker carefully elucidates both how anthropologists measure morphological differences, and the nature and extent of the various physiological differences between the races discussed revealed by these methods.
Yet, curiously, although many of his measures are quantitative in nature, Baker rarely discusses whether differences are statistically significant. Yet without statistical analysis, all of Baker’s reports of quantitative measurements of differences in the shapes and sizes of the skulls and body parts of people of different races represent little more than subjective impressions.
This is especially problematic in his discussion of so-called ‘subraces’ (subdivisions within the major continental races, such as Nordics and the Meditaranean race, both supposed subdivisions within the Caucasiod race), where differences could easily be dismissed as, if not wholly illusory, then at least as clinal in nature and as not always breeding true.
Yet nowhere in his defence of the reality of subracial differences does Baker cite statistics. Instead, his argument is wholly subjective and qualitative in nature:
“In many parts of the world where there have not been any large movements of population over a long period, the reality of subraces is evident enough” (p211).
One suspects that, given increased geographic mobility, those parts of the world are now reduced in number.
Thus, even if subracial differences were once real, with increased migration and intermarriage, they are fast disappearing, at least within Europe.
Is ‘White’ a Social Construct?
One other interesting observation may be made with regard to Baker’s proposed racial taxonomy. Save when quoting from other earlier authors who did use these terms, Baker himself never once refers to ‘White people’ or the ‘the White race’.
Not only does he, as we have seen, reject the use of colour for the purposes of racial classification, he also does not seem to recognize white people as constituting a useful racial category in the first place. Thus, not only do the white race find no place in his racial taxonomy either as a race or a subrace, neither is any synonym covering roughly the same set of people included (p624-5).
Of course, Baker’s ‘Europid race’ might appear, from its name, to cover much the same ground, since the ancestral homelands of those today classed as ‘white’ are roughly commensurate with the geographical boundaries of Europe.
In fact, however, its meaning is much broader, as Baker uses the word ‘Europid’ to refer to what other authorities call the ‘Caucasian race’, and, as he is himself at pains to emphasize, the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa, the Middle East and even South Asia are all classified Caucasoid/Europid (p160), and Baker even argues that the Aethiopids of the Horn of Africa are predominantly Caucasoid/Europid (p225).
Instead, while indigenous Europeans are grouped together with North Africans, South Asians and Arabs as‘Europid’, they are also subdivided among themselves into such subraces as ‘Nordid’, ‘Mediterranid’, ‘Osteuropid’, ‘Dinarid’ and ‘Alpinid’. Yet the indigenous homelands of at least some of these subraces, notably the ‘Mediterranid’, extend outside of the European continent into North Africa and the Middle East, and include some peoples whom we would today hesitate to call ‘white’, who are unlikely tothemselves identify as such, and who would certainly not be recognized as ‘white’ by most white racialists.
This conclusion seems to have been shared by most other early twentieth century physical anthropologists. For example, Carleton Coon, in The Races of Europe, contended that:
Unlike Baker, Coon does indeed use the phrase ‘the white race’, and indeed regards his 1939 book as a study of this race. However, he clearly intends this phrase to carry a rather broader meaning than that with which it is usually invested today, since he regards, for example, “the Gallas, the Somalis, the Ethiopians, and the inhabitants of Eritrea” as all being “white or near white”, a view that would hardly endear him to most contemporary white racialists (The Races of Europe: p445).
Thus, while they would certainly reject the idea that race is a mere ‘social construct’ as preposterous, I suspect Baker, along with other early twentieth-century racial anthropologists such as Coon who employed the same or equivalent terminology, might actually agree with the race deniers that the concept of a ‘White race’, at least as it is defined and demarcated in the Anglosphere today, is indeed an artificial construct with no biological validity, which owes more to geographical and even religious factors (i.e. the traditional boundary between Chistendom and the Islamic world) than it does to measuable phenotypic, or, for that matter, genetic, differences.
“Studies of Selected Human Groups”
This third section of the book focuses on certain specific selected human populations. These are presumably chosen because Baker feels that they are representative of certain important elements of human evolution, racial divergence, or are otherwise of particular interest.
Unfortunately, Baker’s choice of which groups upon which to focus seems rather arbitrary and he never explains why these groups were chosen ahead of others.
In particular, it is notable that Baker focuses primarily on populations from Europe and Africa. East Asians (i.e. ‘Mongoloids’), curiously, are entirely unrepresented.
After a couple of introductory chapters, and one chapter focussing on “Europids” (i.e. Caucasians) as a whole, Baker’s next chapter discusses Jewish people.
In the opening paragraphs, he observes that:
“In any serious study of the superiority or inferiority of particular groups of people one cannot fail to take note of the altogether outstanding contributions made to intellectual and artistic life, and to the world of commerce and finance, generation after generation by persons to whom the name of Jews is attached” (p232).
However, having taken due “note” of this, and hence followed his own advice, he says almost nothing further on the matter, either in this chapter or in those later chapters that deal specifically with the question of racial superiority (see below).
Instead, Baker first focuses on justifying the inclusion of Jews in a book about race, and hence arguing against the politically-correct notion that Jews are not a race, but rather mere practitioners of a religion. Baker gives short-shrift to this notion:
In other words, Baker seems to be saying, because Judaism is not a religion that actively seeks out converts (but rather one that, if anything, discourages conversion), Jews have retained an ethnic character distinct from the host populations alongside whom they reside, without having their racial traits diluted by the incorporation of large numbers of converts of non-Jewish ancestry.
Yet, actually, even proselytizing religions like Christianity, Catholicism and Islam, that do actively seek to convert nonbelievers, often come to take on an ethnic character, since offspring usually inherit (i.e. are indoctrinated in) the faith of their parents, apostates are persecuted, conversion remains, in practice, rare, and people are admonished to marry ‘within the faith’.
These include a short but wide skull and a nose that is “large in all dimensions” (p239), the characteristic shape of which Baker even purports to illustrate with a delightfully offensive diagram (p241).
Likewise, Baker claims that Sephardic Jews, the other main subgroup of European Jews, are likewise “distinguishable from the Ashkenazim by physical characters”, being slenderer in build, with straighter hair, narrower noses, and different sized skulls, approximately more to the Mediterranean racial type (p245-6).
But, if Sephardim and Ashkenazim are indeed “distinguishable” or “recognisable” by “physical characters”, either from one another or from other European Gentiles, as Baker claims, then with what degree of accuracy is he claiming such distinctions can be made? Surely far less than 100%.
Moreover, are the alleged physiological differences that Baker posits between Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and other Europeans based on recorded quantitative measurements, and, if so, are the differences in question statistically significant? On this, Baker says nothing.
The next chapter concerns “The Celts”, a term surrounding which there is so much confusion and which has been used in so many different senses – racial, cultural, ethnic, territorial and linguistic (p183) – that some historians have argued that it is best abandoned altogether.
Baker, himself British, is keen to dispel the notion that the indigenous populations of the British Isles were, at the time of the Roman invasion, a primitive people, and is very much an admirer of their artwork.
Thus, Baker writes that:
“Caesar… nowhere states that any of the Britons were savage (‘immanis’), nor does he speak specifically of their ignorance (‘ignorantia’), though he does twice mention their indiscretion (‘imprudentia’) in parleying” (p263).
Of course, Caesar, though hardly unbiased in this respect, did regard the indigenous Britons as less civilized than the Romans themselves. However, I suppose that barbarism, like civilization (see below), is a matter of degree.
“Their skulls scarcely differ from those of the Anglo-Saxons who subsequently dominated them, except in one particular character, namely, that the skull is slightly (but significantly) lower in the Iron Age man than in the Anglo-Saxon” (p257).
Thus, dismissing the politically-correct notion that the English were, in the words of another author, “a truemultiracialsociety”, Baker claims:
Citing remains found in an ancient cemetery in Berkshire supposedly containing the skeletons of Anglo-Saxon males but indigenous British females and hybrid offspring, he concludes that, rather than extermination, a process of intermarriage and assimilation occurred (p266).
However, the indigenous pre-Celtic inhabitants of the British Isles were, he concludes, less Nordic than Mediterranid in phenotype.
Such influences remain, Baker claims, in the further reaches of Wales and Ireland, as evidenced by the distribution of blood groups and of hair colour.
“The tendency towards the possession of dark hair was much more marked in Wales than in England, and still more marked in the western districts of Ireland” (p265).
This conclusion is based upon the observations of nineteenth century English ethnologist John Beddoe, who travelled the British Isles recording the distribution of different hair and eye colours, reporting his findings in The Races of Britain, which was first published in 1862 and remains, to my knowledge, the only large body of data on the distribution of hair and eye colour in the British Isles to this day.
Yet recent population genetic studies suggest that even the so-called Celts, like the later Anglo-Saxons, Normans and Vikings, actually had only a quite minimal impact on the ancestry of the indigenous peoples of the British Isles.
The Celts, moreover, likely arrived from on the British Isles from continental Europe by the same route as the later Anglo-Saxons and Normans – i.e. across the English channel (or perhaps the south-west corner of the North Sea), by way of Southern England. This is, after all, by far the easiest, most obvious and direct route.
This leads Baker to conclude that the Celts, like the Anglo-Saxons after them, imposed their language on, but had little genetic impact on, the inhabitants of those parts of the British Isles furthest from this point of initial disembarkation (i.e. Scotland, Ireland, Wales). Thus, Baker concludes:
“The Iron Age invaders transmitted the dialects of their Celtic language to the more ancient Britons whom they found in possession of the land [and] pushed back these less advanced peoples towards the west and north as they spread” (p264).
But these latter peoples, though adopting the Celtic tongue, were not themselves (primarily) descendants of the Celtic invaders. This leads Baker to follow Carleton Coon in concluding:
“It is these people, the least Celtic—in the ethnic sense—of all the inhabitants of Great Britain, that have clung most obstinately to the language that their conquerors first taught them two thousand years ago” (p269).
In other words, in a racial and genetic, if not a linguistic, sense, the English are actually more Celtic than are the self-styled ‘Celtic Nations’ of Scotland, Ireland and Wales!
However, this is not what Baker means by referring to Aboriginals as “primitive”. Indeed, unlike his later chapters on black Africans, Baker says nothing regarding the technology or culture of indigenous Australians.
Instead, he talks exclusively about their morphology. In referring to them as “primitive”, Baker is therefore using the word in the specialist phylogenetic sense. Thus, he argues that Australian Aboriginals:
“Retain… physical characters that were possessed by remote ancestors but have been lost in the course of evolution by most members of the taxa that are related to it” (p272-3).
In other words, they retain traits characteristic of an earlier state of human evolution which have since been lost in other extant races.
Baker purports to identify twenty-eight such “primitive” characters in Australian aboriginals. These include prognathism (p281), large teeth (p289), broad noses (p282), and large brow ridges (p280).
Baker acknowledges that all extant races retain some primitive characters that have been lost in other races (p302). For example, unlike most other races (but not Aboriginals), Caucasoids retain scalp hair characteristic of early hominids and indeed other extant primates (p297).
However, Baker concludes:
“The Australids are exceptional in the number and variety of their primitive characters and in the degree to which some of them are manifested” (p302).
“The early male forefathers of man were, as previously stated, probably furnished with great canine teeth; but as they gradually acquired the habit of using stones, clubs, or other weapons, for fighting with their enemies or rivals, they would use their jaws and teeth less and less. In this case, the jaws, together with the teeth, would become reduced in size” (The Descent of Man).
Therefore, it is possible, Kohn provocatively contends, that:
“As brain tissue expanded… it did so at the expense of the temporalis muscles, which… close the jaw. Since smaller temporalis muscles cannot close as large a jaw, jaw size was reduced. Consequently, there is less room for teeth” (Race, Evolution and Behavior: Preface to Third Edition: p20-1).
Thus, leading mid-twentieth century American physical anthropologist and racialist Carleton Coon reports:
“The critical differences between [“the ancestors of our living races”] and us lie mostly in brain size versus jaw size – the balance between thinking thoughts and eating foods of various degrees of fineness” (Racial Adaptations: p113).
Thus, Aboriginals have, on average, Baker reports, not only larger jaws and teeth, but also smaller brains than those of Caucasians, weighing only about 85% as much (p292). The smaller average brain-size of Aboriginals is confirmed by more recent data (Beals et al 1984).
In this sense, then, Australian Aboriginals ‘primitive’ brains may indeed be linked to the primitive state, in the more familiar sense of the word ‘primitive’, of their technology and culture.
San Bushmen and Paedomorphy
Whereas Australian Aboriginals are morphologically “primitive” (i.e. retain characters of early hominids), the San Bushmen of Southern Africa (“Sanids”), together with the related Khoi (collectively Khoisan, or, in racial terms, Capoid) are, Baker contends, “paedomorphic”.
By this, Baker means that the San people retain into adulthood traits that are, in other taxa, restricted to infants or juveniles, and is more often referred to as neoteny.
“The penis, when not erect, maintains an almost horizontal position… This feature is scarcely ever omitted in the rock art of the Bushmen, in their stylized representations of their own people. The prepuce is very long; it covers the glans completely and projects forward to a point. The scrotum is drawn up close to the root of the penis, giving the appearance that only one testis has descended, and that incompletely” (p319).
Humans in general are known to be neotenous in many of our distinct characters, and we are also, of course, the most intelligent known species.
“Although mankind as a whole is paedomorphous, those ethnic taxa (the Sanids among them) that are markedly more paedomorphious than the rest have never achieved the status of civilization, or anything approaching it, by their own initiative. It would seem that, when carried beyond a certain point, paedomorphosis is antagonistic to purely intellectual advance” (p324).
As to why this might be the case, he speculates in a later chapter:
“Certain taxa have remained primitive or become paedomorphous in their general morphological characters and none of these has succeeded in developing a civilization. It is among these taxa in particular that one finds some indication of a possible cause of mental inferiority in the small size of the brain” (p428).
Moreover, other authorities class East Asians as a paedomorphic race, and Baker himself classes “the bulk of the population” of Japan as “somewhat paedomorphious” (p538).
However, the Japanese, along with other Northeast Asians, not least the Chinese, have undoubtedly founded greatcivilizations and have brains as large as, or, after controlling for body-size, even larger than those of Europeans, and are generally reported to have somewhat higher IQs (see Lynn’s Race Differences in Intelligence: which I have reviewed here).
The protruding buttocks of Sanid women are, Baker contends, qualitatively different in both shape and indeed composition from those of other populations, including the much-celebrated ‘big butts’ of contemporary African-Americans (p318).
Thus, whereas, among other populations, the shape of the buttocks, even if very large, are “rounded” in shape:
“It is particular characteristic of the Khoisanids that the shape of the projecting part is that of a right-angled triangle, the upper edge being nearly horizontal … [and] internally… consist of masses of fat incorporated between criss-crossed sheets of connective tissue said to be joined to one another in a regular manner.”
Regarding the function of these enlarged buttocks, Baker rejects any analogy with the humps of the camel, which evolved as reserves of fat upon which the animal could call in the event of famine or draught.
Unlike camels, which are, of course, adapted to a desert environment, Baker concludes:
However, although he does not directly discuss this, Baker presumably regards this as a recent displacement, resulting from the Bantu expansion, in the course of which the less advanced San were displaced from their traditional hunting grounds in southern Africa by Bantu agriculturalists, and permitted to eke out an undisturbed existence only in an arid desert environment of no use to Bantu agriculturalists.
Instead of having evolved as fat reserves in the event of famine, drought or scarcity, Baker instead suggests that Khoisan buttocks evolved through sexual selection.
The caloric demands of pregnancy and lactation are indeed the probable reason women of all races have greater fat deposits than do males.
Indeed, an analogy might be provided by female breasts, since these, unlike the mammary glands of other mammalian species, are present permanently, from puberty on, and, save during pregnancy and lactation, are composed predominantly of fatty tissues, not milk.
Elusive Elongated Labia?
In addition to their enlarged buttocks, Baker also discusses the alleged elongated labia of Sanid women, sometimes referred to, rather inaccurately in Baker’s view, as the “the Hottentot apron”.
Some writers have discounted this notion as a sort of nineteenth-century anthropological myth. However, Baker himself insists that the elongated labia of the San are indeed real.
The fourth and final section of ‘Race’ turns to the most controversial topic addressed by Baker in this most controversial of books, namely whether any racial group can be said to be superior or inferior to another, a question that Baker christens “the Ethnic Question”.
He begins by critiquing the very nature of the notion of superiority and inferiority, observing in a memorable and quotable aphorism:
Thus, if one is “concerned simply with the question whether the taxa are similar or different”, then, Baker concludes, “there can be no doubt as to the answer” (p421).
Indeed, this much is clear, not simply from the huge amount of data assembled by Baker himself in previous chapters, but also from simple observation.
However, Baker continues:
“The words ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ are not generally used unless value judgements are concerned” (p421).
Any value judgement is, of course, necessarily subjective.
On objective criteria, each race can only be said to be, on average, superior in a specific endeavour (e.g. IQ tests, basketball, mugging, pimping, drug-dealing, tanning, making music, building civilizations). The value to be ascribed to these endeavours is, however, wholly subjective.
On these grounds, contemporary self-styled ‘race realists’ typically disclaim any association between their theories and any notions of racial superiority.
Although he alludes in passing to race differences in athletic ability, Baker, in discussing superiority, is concerned primarily with intellectual and moral achievement. Therefore, in this final section of the book, he turns from physiological differences to psychological ones.
Of course, the two are not entirely unconnected. All behaviour must have an ultimate basis in the brain, which is itself a part of an organism’s physiology. Thus:
“Cranial capacity is, of course, directly relevant to the ethnic problem since it sets a limit to the size of the brain in different taxa; but all morphological differences are also relevant in an indirect way, since it is scarcely possible that any taxa could be exactly the same as one another in all the genes that control the development and function of the nervous and sensory systems, yet so different from one another in structural characters in other parts of the body” (p533-4).
Indeed, Baker observes:
“Identity in habits is unusual even in pairs of taxa that are morphologically much more similar to one another than [some human races]. The subspecies of gorilla, for instance, are not nearly so different from one another as Sanids are from Europids, but they differ markedly in their modes of life” (426).
In other words, since human races differ significantly in their physiology, it is probable that they will also differ, to a roughly equivalent degree, in psychological traits, such as intelligence, temperament and personality.
In discussing the question of the intellectual and moral superiority of different racial groups, Baker focusses on two lines of evidence in particular:
While his data on race differences in IQ is therefore now dated, Baker’s discussion of the track-record of different races in founding civilizations remains of interest today, if only because this is a topic studiously avoided by most contemporary authors, historians and anthropologists on account of its politically-incorrect nature – though Jared Diamond, in Guns, Germs and Steel, represents an important recent exception to this trend.
The first question, of course, is precisely how one is to define ‘civilizations’ in the first place, itself a highly contentious issue.
Thus, Baker identifies twenty-one criteria for recognising civilizations (p507-8).
However, the latter are inherently problematic. What constitutes moral superiority itself involves a moral judgement that is necessarily subjective.
In other words, whereas technological and scientific superiority can be demonstrated objectively, moral superiority is a mere matter of opinion.
Thus, the ancient Romans, transported to our times, would surely accept the superiority of our technology – and, if they did not, we would, as a consequence of the superiority of our technology, outcompete them both economically and militarily and hence prove it ourselves.
Take, for example, Baker’s first requirement for civilization, namely that:
“In the ordinary circumstances of life in public places they [i.e. members of the society under consideration] cover the external genitalia and greater part of the trunk with clothes” (p507).
This criterium is not only curiously puritanical, but also blatantly biased against tropical cultures. Whereas in temperate and arctic zones clothing is essential for survival, in the tropics the decision to wear clothing represents little more than an arbitrary fashion choice.
The requirement that a civilization’s religious beliefs not be “purely or grossly superstitious” (p507) is also problematic. As a confirmed atheist, I suspect that all religions are, by very definition, superstitious. If some forms of Buddhism and Confucianism are perhaps exceptions, then they are perhaps simply not religions at all in the western sense.
As for his complaint that the religion of the Mayans “did not enter into the fields of ethics” (p526), a complaint he also raises in respect of indigenous black African religions (p384), contemporary moral philosophers generally see this as a good thing, believing that religion is best kept of moral debates.
However, in doing so, he is judging the cultures in question by distinctly Western moral standards. The Aztecs, in contrast, may have viewed human sacrifice as a moral imperative and may therefore have viewed European cultures as morally deficient precisely because they did not butcher enough of their people in order to propitiate the gods.
Likewise, whereas Baker views cannibalism as incompatible with civilization (p507), I personally view cannibalism as, of itself, a victimless crime. A dead person, being dead, is incapable of suffering by virtue of being eaten. Indeed, in this secular age of environmental consciousness, one might even praise cannibalism as a highly ‘sustainable’ form of recycling.
Whereas his previous chapters discussing specific selected human populations focussed primarily, or sometimes exclusively, on their morphological peculiarities, in the last four of these chapters, focussing on African blacks, his focus shifts from morphology to culture.
Thus, Baker writes:
“The physical characters of the Negrids are mentioned only briefly. Members of this race are studied in Chapters 18-21 mainly from the point of view of the social anthropologist interested in their progress towards civilization at a time when they were still scarcely influenced over a large part of their territory, by direct contact with members of more advanced ethnic taxa” (p184).
Unlike some racialist authors, Baker acknowledges the widespread adoption of advanced technologies throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa prior to modern times. However, he attributes the adoption of these technologies to contact with, and borrowings from, outside non-Negroid civilizations (e.g. Arabs, Egyptians, Moors, Berbers, Europeans).
Therefore, in order to distinguish the indigenous, homegrown capacity of black Africans to develop advanced civilization, Baker relies on the reports of seven nineteenth century explorers of what he terms “the secluded area” of Africa, by which term Baker seems to mean the bulk of inland Southern, Eastern and Central Africa, excluding the Horn of Africa, the coast of West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea (p334-5).
In these parts of Africa, at the time these early European explorers visited the continent, the influence of outside civilizations was, Baker reports, “non-existent or very slight” (p335). The cultural practices observed by these explorers therefore, for Baker, provide a measure of black Africans’ indigenous capacity for social, cultural and technological advancement.
On this perhaps dubious basis, Baker thus concludes that there is no evidence black Africans ever:
Fully domesticated any plants (354-6) or animals (p373-7); or
Invented the wheel (p373); or other ‘mechanical’ devices with interacting parts (p354).
Also largely absent throughout ‘the secluded area’, according to Baker, were:
Let’s review these claims in turn. First, it certainly seems to be true that few if any species of either animals or plants were domesticated in what Baker calls the “the secluded area” of sub-Saharan Africa.
However, with respect to plants, there may be a reason for this. Many important, early domesticates were annuals. These are plants that complete their life-cycle within a single year, taking advantage of predictable seasonal variations in the weather.
“Within their mere one year of life, annual plants inevitably remain small herbs. Many of them instead put their energy into producing big seeds, which remain dormant during the dry season and are then ready to sprout when the rains come. Annual plants therefore waste little energy on making inedible wood or fibrous stems, like the body of trees and bushes. But many of the big seeds… are edible by humans. They constitute 6 of the modern world’s 12 major crops” (Guns, Germs and Steel: p136).
However, the wild auroch, from whom modern cattle derive, was undoubtedly even more formidable, being, not only larger, more muscled and with bigger horns, but also surely even more aggressive than modern bulls. After all, one of the key functions of domestication is to produce more docile animals that are more amenable to control by human agriculturalists.
Compared to the domestication of aurochs, the domestication of the zebra would seem almost straight forward. Indeed, the successful domestication of aurochs in ancient times might even cause us to reserve our judgement regarding the domesticability of such formidable African mammals as hippos and African buffalo, the possibility of whose domestication Diamond dismisses a priori as preposterous.
Certainly, the domestication of the auroch surely stands as one of the great achievements of ancient Man.
Reinventing the Wheel?
Baker also seems to be correct in his claim that black Africans never invented the wheel.
However, it must be borne in mind that the same is also probably true of white Europeans, who, rather than independently inventing the wheel for themselves, had the easier option of simply copying the design of the wheel from other civilizations and peoples, namely those from the Middle East, probably Mesopotamia, where the wheel seems to be have first been developed.
Indeed, most cultures with access to the wheel never actually invented it themselves, for the simple reason that it is far easier to copy the invention of a third-party through simple reverse engineering than to independently invent afresh an already existing technology all by oneself.
The real question, then, is not why the wheel was never invented in sub-Saharan Africa, but rather why it failed to spread throughout that continent in the same way it did throughout Eurasia.
Thus, if the wheel was known, as Baker readily acknowledges it was, in those parts of sub-Saharan Africa that were in contact with outside civilizations (notably in the Horn of Africa), then this raises the question as to why it failed to spread elsewhere in Africa prior to the arrival of Europeans. This indeed is acknowledged to remain a major enigma within the field of African history and archaeology (Law 2011; Chavez et al 2012).
After all, there are no obvious insurmountable geographical barriers preventing the spread of technologies across Africa other than the Sahara itself, and, as Baker himself acknowledges, black Africans in the ‘penetrated’ area had proven amply capable of imitating technological advances introduced from outside.
Why then did the wheel not spread across Africa in the same way it did across Eurasia? Is it possible that African people’s alleged cognitive deficiencies were responsible for the failure of this technology to spread and be copied, since the ability to copy technologies through reverse engineering itself requires some degree of intellectual ability, albeit less than that required for original innovation?
One might argue instead that the African terrain was unsuitable for wheeled transport. However, one of the markers of civilization is surely its very ability to alter the terrain by large, cooperative public works engineering projects, such as the building of roads.
Thus, most of Eurasia is now suitable for wheeled transport in large part only because we, or more specifically our ancestors, have made it so.
Another explanation sometimes offered for the failure of African to develop wheeled transportation is that they lacked a suitable draft animal, horses being afflicted with sleeping sickness spread by the tsetse fly.
However, as we have seen above, Baker argues a race’s track record in successfully domesticating wild animals is itself indicative of the intellectual ability and character of that race. For Baker, then, the failure of sub-Saharan African to successfully domesticate any suitable species of potential draft animal (e.g. the zebra: see above) is itself indicative of, and a factor in, their inability to successfully develop advanced civilization.
At any rate, even in the absence of a suitable draft animal, wheels are still useful.
On the one hand, they can be used for non-transport-related purposes (e.g. the spinning wheel, the potter’s wheel, even water wheels). Indeed, in Eurasia the invention of the potter’s wheel is actually thought to have preceded the use of wheels for the purposes of transportation.
In other words, humans can themselves be employed as a draft animal, whether by choice or by force, and, if there is one arguable marker for civilization for which Africa did not lack, and which did not await introduction by Europeans, Moors and Arabs, it was, of course, the institution of slavery.
African Writing Systems?
What then of the alleged failure of sub-Saharan Africans to develop a system of writing? Baker refers to only a single writing system indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa, namely the Vai syllabary, invented in what is today Liberia in the nineteenth century in imitation of foreign scripts. Was this indeed the only writing system indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa?
Of course, writing has long been known in North Africa, and ancient Egypt even lays claim to have invented the first written script, namely hieroglyphs, although most archaeologists believe that they were beaten to the gun, once again, by Mesopotamia, with its cuneiform script.
However, this is obviously irrelevant to the question of black African civilization, since the populations of North Africa, including the ancient Egyptians, were largely Caucasoid.
However, save for those of recent origin, almost all of these writing systems seem, from the descriptions on their respective wikipedia pages, to have been restricted to areas outside of ‘the secluded area’ of Africa as defined by Baker (p334-5).
The only ancient writing system mentioned on this wikipedia page that was found in what Baker calls ‘the secluded area’ of Africa isLusona. This seems to have been developed deep in the interior of sub-Saharan Africa, in parts of what is today eastern Angola, north-western Zambia and adjacent areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Thus, it is almost certainly of entirely indigenous origin.
It therefore appears to fall far short of a fully developed script in the modern sense.
Indeed, the same seems to be true, albeit to a lesser extent, of most of the indigenous writing systems of sub-Saharan Africa listed on the wikipedia page, namely Nsibidi and Adrinka, which each seem to represent only a form of proto-writing.
Only Ge’ze seems to have been a fully-developed script, and this was used only in the Horn of Africa, which not only lies outside ‘the secluded area’ as defined by Baker, but whose population is, again according to Baker, predominantly Caucasoid (p225).
Also, Ge’ze seems to have developed from an earlier Middle Eastern script. It is therefore not of entirely indigenous African origin.
It therefore seems to indeed be true that sub-Saharan Africans never produced a fully-developed script in those parts of Africa where they developed beyond the influence of foreign empires.
However, it must here be emphasized that the same is again probably also true of indigenous Europeans.
Indeed, most writing systems were developed, if not directly from, then at least in imitation of, pre-existing scripts. Like the wheel, writing has only been independently reinvented afresh a few times in history.
The question, then, as with the wheel, is, not so much why much of sub-Saharan Africa failed to invent a written script, but rather why those written scripts that were in use in certain parts of the continent south of the Sahara, nevertheless failed to spread or be imitated over the remainder of that continent.
African Culture: Concluding Thoughts
In conclusion, it certainly seems clear that much of sub-Saharan Africa was indeed backward in those aspects of technology, social structure and culture which Baker identifies as the key components of civilization. This much is true and demands an explanation.
However, blanket statements regarding the failure of sub-Saharan Africans to develop a writing system or two-storey buildings seem, at best, a misleading simplification.
Indeed, Baker’s very notion of what he calls ‘the secluded area’ of Africa is vague and ill-defined, and he never provides a clear definition, or, better still, a map precisely delineating what he means by the term (p334-5).
Indeed, the very notion of a ‘secluded area’ is arguably misconceived, since even relatively remote and isolated areas of the continent that did not have any direct contact with non-Negroid peoples, will presumably have had some indirect influence from outside of sub-Saharan Africa, if only by contact with peoples from those regions of the continent south of the Sahara which had been influenced by foreign peoples and civilizations.
After all, as we have seen, Europeans also failed to independently develop either the wheel and writing system for themselves, instead simply copying these innovations from the neighbouring civilizations of the Middle East.
Why then were black Africans south of the Sahara, who were indeed exposed to these technologies in certain parts of their territory, nevertheless unable to do the same?
Perhaps one factor impeding the movement of technologies such as the wheel and writing across sub-Saharan Africa in pre-modern times is the relative lack of navigable waterways (e.g. rivers) in the region.
As emphasized by Tim Marshall in his book Prisoners of Geography, rivers in sub-Saharan African tended to be non-navigable, mainly because of the prevalence of large waterfalls that made transport by river a dangerous venture.
Since, in ancient and premodern times, transport by river was, at least in Eurasia, generally easier, safer and quicker than by land, Africa’s generally non-navigable river system may have ironically impeded the spread throughout Africa even of technologies that were themselves of use primarily for transportation, such as the wheel.
Pre-Columbian Native American Cultures
Baker’s discussion of status of the pre-Columbian civilizations, or putative civilizations, of America is especially interesting. Of these, the Mayans definitely stand out, in Baker’s telling, as the most impressive in terms of their scientific and technological achievements.
Baker ultimately concludes, however, that even the Maya do not qualify as a true civilization, largely on moral grounds – namely, their practice of mass sacrifices and cannibalism.
No doubt if western cultures were to be judged by the moral values of the Mayans, we too would be judged just as harshly. Perhaps they would condemn us precisely for not massacring enough of our citizens in order to propitiate the gods.
However, even seeking to rank the Mayans based solely on their technological and scientific achievements, they still represent something of a paradox.
Indeed, Baker educates us that it is was Mayans, not the Hindus or Arabs more often credited with the innovation, who first invented the concept of zero – or rather, to put the matter more precisely, “invent[ed] a ‘local value’ (or ‘place notational’) system of numeration that involved zero: that is to say, a system in which the value of each numberical symbol depended on its position in a series of such symbols, and the zero, if required, took its place in this series ” (p552).
Thus, Baker writes:
“The Maya had invented the idea [of zero] and applied it to their vegisimal system [i.e. using a base of twenty] before the Indian mathematicians had thought of it and used it in denary[i.e. decimal] notation” (p522).
However, on the other hand, according to Baker’s account:
“They had no weights… no metal-bladed hoes or spades and no wheels (unless a few toys were actually provided with wheels and really formed part of the Mayan culture)” (p524).
Yet, as Baker alludes to in his rather disparaging reference to “a few toys”, it now appears the these toys were indeed part of the Maya culture.
Thus, far from failing to invent the wheel, Native Americans are one of the few peoples in the world with an unambiguous claim to have indeed invented the wheel entirely independently, since the possibility of wheels being introduced through contact with Eurasian civilizations is exceedingly remote.
Thus, the key question is, not why Native American civilizations failed to invent the wheel, for they did indeed invent the wheel, but rather why they failed to make full use of this remarkably useful invention, seemingly only employing it for seemingly frivolous items resembling toys (but whose real purpose is unknown) rather than for transport, or indeed the production of ceramics, textiles or energy.
Terrain may have been a factor. As mentioned above, one of the markers of a true civilization is arguably its very ability to alter its terrain by large-scale engineering projects such as the building of roads. However, obviously some terrains pose greater difficulties in this respect, and the geography of much of Mesoamerica is particularly uninviting.
The Inca, but not the Aztecs and Maya, did have the llama. However, llama are not strong enough to carry humans, or to pull large carts.
Of course, for Baker, as we have seen above, a race’s track record in domesticating non-human animals, including for use as draft animals, is itself indicative of that race’s ability and capacity to build and maintain advanced civilization.
However, in the Americas, most large wild mammals of the sort possibly suited for domestication as a draft animal were wiped out by the first humans to arrive on the continent, the former having evolved in complete isolation from humans, and hence being completely evolutionarily unprepared for the sudden influx of humans with their formidable hunting skills.
However, it is simply not true that, in the absence of a draft animal, wheels vehicles “offered no advantage over human porters”, as claimed by Diamond. On the contrary, as dicussed above, humans themselves can be employed as draft animals (e.g. the wheelbarrow and pulled rickshaw), and, as Diamond himself observes in a later chapter:
“Human-powered wheelbarrows… enabled one or more people, still using just human muscle power, to transport much greater weights than they could have otherwise” (Guns Germs and Steel: p359).
Moreover, as again discussed above, the wheel also has other uses besides transport, one of which, the potter’s wheel, actually seems to have been adopted before the use of wheels for transportation purposes in Europe. Yet there is no evidence for the use of the potter’s wheel in the Americas prior to the arrival of Europeans.
As for the Mayan script, this was also, according to Baker, quite limited. Thus, Baker reports:
“There was no way of writing verbs, and abstract ideas (apart from number) could not be inscribed. It would not appear that the technique even of the Maya lent itself to a narrative form, except in a very limited sense. Most of the Middle Americans conveyed non-calendrical information only by speech or by the display of a series of paintings” (p524).
Indeed, he reports that “nearly all their inscriptions were concerned with numbers and the calendar” (p524).
“The Middle Americans had nothing that could properly be called a narrative script” (p523-4).
Baker vs Diamond: The Rematch
However, departing from Baker’s conclusions, I regard the achievements of the Mesoamerican civilizations as, overall, quite impressive.
This is especially so, not only when one takes into account, not only their complete isolation from the Old World civilizations of Eurasia, but also of other factors identified by Jared Diamond in his rightly-acclaimed Guns, Germs and Steel.
Thus, whereas the Eurasian cultural zone is oriented largely on an east-to-west axis, spreading from China and Japan in the East, to western Europe and North Africa in the West, America is a tall, narrow continent that spreads instead from north-to-south, quite narrow in places, especially at the Isthmus of Panama, where the North American continent meets South America, which, at the narrowest point, is less than fifty miles across.
As Diamond emphasizes, because climate varies with latitude (i.e. distance from the equator), this means that different parts of the Americas have very different climates, making the movement and transfer of crops, domesticated animals and people much more difficult.
This, together with the difficulty of the terrain, might explain why even the Incas and Aztecs, though contemporaneous, seem to have been largely if not wholly unaware of one another’s existence, and certainly had no direct contact.
As a result, Native American cultures developed, not only in complete isolation from Old World civilizations, but even largely in isolation even from one another.
Moreover, the Americas had few large domesticable mammals, almost certainly because the first settlers of the continent, on arriving, hunted them to extinction on first arrival, and the mammals, having evolved in complete isolation from humans, were entirely unprepared for the arrival of humans, with their formidable hunting skills, to whom they were wholly unadapted.
In these conditions, the achievements of the Mesoamerican civilizations, especially the Mayans, seem to me quite impressive, all things considered – certainly far more impressive than the achievements of, say, sub-Saharan Africans or Australian Aboriginals.
This is especially so in comparison to sub-Saharan Africa when one takes into consideration the fact that the latter region was neither completely isolated from Eurasian civilizations nor as narrowly oriented on a north-west as are the Americas.
Thus, as has been emphasized by astrophysicist Michael Hart in his book, Understanding Human History, Diamond’s theory is a rather more successful explanation for the technological backwardness and underdevelopment of the pre-Columbian Americas than it is for the even greater technological backwardness and underdevelopment of sub-Saharan Africa.
Thus, if these black Africans and Australian Aboriginals can then indeed be determined to possess lesser innate intellectual capacity as compared to, say, Europeans or East Asians, then I feel it is nevertheless premature to say the same of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
In addition to ranking cultures on scientific, technological and moral criteria, Baker also assesses the quality of their artwork (p378-81; p411-17; p545-549). However, judgements of artistic quality, like moral judgements, are necessarily subjective.
However, interestingly, with regard to styles of music, Baker recognises the possibility of cultural bias, suggesting that European explorers, looking for European-style melody and harmony, failed to recognise the rhythmical qualities of African music which are, Baker remarks, “perhaps unequalled in the music of any other race of mankind” (p379).
“A Reminder of What Was Possible”?
The fact that ‘Race’ remains a rewarding some read forty years after first publication, is an indictment of the hold of politically-correctness over both science and the publishing industry.
In the intervening years, despite all the advances of molecular genetics, the scientific understanding of race seems to have progressed but little, impeded by political considerations.
Meanwhile, the study of morphological differences between races seems to have almost entirely ceased, and a worthysuccessor to Baker’s ‘Race’, incorporating the latest genetic data, has, to my knowledge, yet to be published.
Today, some forty years after Baker penned these very words and as the boundaries of acceptable opinion have narrowed yet further, I recommend Baker’s ‘Race’ in much the same spirit – as both an historical document and “a reminder of what was possible”.
 Genetic studies often allow us distinguish homology from analogy, because the same or similar traits in different populations often evolve through different genetic mutations. For example, Europeans and East Asians evolved lighter complexions after leaving Africa, in part, by mutations in different genes (Norton et al 2007). Similarly, lactase persistence has evolved through mutations in different genes in Europeans than among some sub-Saharan Africans (Tishkoff et al 2009). Of course, at least in theory, the same mutation in the same gene could occur in different populations, thus providing an example of convergent evolution and homoplasy even at the genetic level. However, with the analysis of a large number of genetic loci, especially in non-coding DNA, where mutations are unlikely to be selected for or against and hence are lost or retained at random in different populations, this problem is unlikely to lead to errors in determining the relatedness of populations.
In his defence, the Ainu are not one of the groups upon whom Baker focuses in his discussion, and are only mentioned briefly in passing (p158; p173; p424) and at the very end of the book, in his “Table of Races and Subraces”, where he attempts to list, and classify by race, all the groups mentioned in the book, howsoever briefly (p624-5).
Although we no longer need to rely on morphological criteria in order to determine the relatedness between populations, differences between racial groups in morphology and bodily structure remain an interesting, and certainly a legitimate, subject for scientific study in their own right. Unfortunately, however, the study and measurement of such differences seems to have all but ceased among anthropologists. One result is that much of the data on these topics is quite old. Thus, HBDers, Baker included, are sometimes criticized for citing studies published in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century. In principle, there is, however, nothing wrong with citing data from the nineteenth or early-twentieth century, unless critics can show that the methodology adopted have subsequently been shown to be flawed. However, it must be acknowledged that the findings of such studies with respect to morphology may no longer apply to modern populations, as a result of recent population movements and improvements in health and nutrition, among other factors. At any rate, the reason for the paucity of recent data is the taboo associated with such research.
This is a style of formatting I have not encountered elsewhere. It makes it difficult to bring oneself to skip over the material rendered in smaller typeface since it is right there in the main body of the text, and indeed Baker himself claims that this material is “more technical and more detailed than the rest (but not necessarily less interesting)” (pix).
Yet another source of potential terminological confusion results from the fact that, as will be apparent from many passages from the book quoted in this review, Baker uses the word “ethnic” to refer to differences that would better to termed “racial” – i.e. when referring to biologically-inherited physical and morphological differences between populations. Thus, for example, he uses the term “ethnic taxon” as “a comprehensive term that can be used without distinction for any of the taxa that are minor to species: that is to say, races, subraces and local forms” (p4). Similarly, he uses the phrase “the ethnic problem” to refer to the “whole subject of equality and inequality among the ethnic taxa of man” (p6). However, as Baker acknowledges, “English words derived from the Greek ἔθνος (ethnic, ethnology, ethnography, and others) are used by some authors in reference to groups of mankind distinguished by cultural or national features, rather than descent from common ancestors” (p4). However, in defending his adoption of this term, he notes “this usage is not universal” (p4). This usage has, I suspect, become even more prevalent in the years since the publication of Baker’s book. However, in my experience, the term ‘ethnic’ is sometimes also used as politically correct euphemism for the word ‘race’, both colloquially and in academia.
In both cases, the source of potential confusion is the same, since both terms, though referring to a race, are derived from geographic terms (Europe and the Caucasus region, respectively), yet the indigenous homelands of the races in question are far from identical to the geographic region referred to by the term. The term ‘Asian’, when used as an ethnic or racial descriptor, is similarly misleading. For example, in British-English, ‘Asian’, as an ethnic term, usually refers to South Asians, since South Asians form a larger and more visible minority ethnic group in the UK than do East Asians. However, in the USA, the term ‘Asian’ is usually restricted to East Asians and Southeast Asians – i.e. those formerly termed ‘Mongoloid’. The British-English usage is more geographically correct, but racially misleading, since populations of the Indian subcontinent, like those from the Middle East (also part of the Asian continent) are actually genetically closer to southern Europeans than to East Asians and were generally classed as Caucasian by nineteenth and early-twentieth century anthropologists, and are similarly classed by Baker himself. This is one reason that the term ‘Mongoloid’, despite pejorative connotations, remains useful.
Moreover, the term ‘Mongoloid’ is especially confusing given that it has also been employed to refer to people suffering from a developmental disability and chromosomal abnormality (Down Syndrome), and, while both usages are dated, and the racial meaning is actually the earlier one from which the later medical usage is derived, it is the latter usage which seems, in my experience, to retain greater currency, the word ‘Mongoloid’ being sometimes employed as a rather politically-incorrect insult, implying a mental handicap. Therefore, while I find annoying the ‘euphemism treadmill’ whereby terms once quite acceptable terms (e.g. ‘negro’, ‘coloured people’) are suddenly and quite arbitrarily deemed offensive, the term ‘Mongoloid’ is, unlike these other etymologically-speaking, quite innocent terms, understandably offensive to people of East Asian descent given this dual meaning.
 For example, another ethnonym, ‘Asian’, is also etymologically problematic. Thus, the word ‘Asia’, the source of the ethnonym, ‘Asian’, derives from the Greek Ἀσία, which originally referred only to Anatolia, at the far western edge of what would now be called Asia, the inhabitants of which region are not now, nor have ever likely been, ‘Asian’in the current American sense. Indeed, the very term Asia is a Eurocentric concept, grouping together many diverse peoples, fauna, flora and geographic zones, and whose border with Europe is quite arbitrary. Another even more etymologically suspect ethonym is, of course, the term ‘Indian’ (and its derivatives ‘Amerindian’, ‘Red Indian’ and ‘American Indian’) when applied to the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
 The main substantive differences between the rival taxonomies of different racial theorists reflect the perennial divide between lumpers and splitters. There is also the question of precisely where the line is to be drawn between one race and another in clinal variation between groups, and whether a hybrid or clinal population sometimes constitutes a separate race in and of itself.
 Indeed, somewhat disconcertingly, even Hitler’s Mein Kampf is taken seriously by Baker, the latter acknowledging that “the early part of [Hitler’s] chapter dealing with the ethnic problem is quite well-written and not uninteresting” (p59) – or perhaps this is only to damn with faint praise.
To clarify, both Boas and Montagu are briefly mentioned in later chapters. For example, Boas’snow largely discredited work on cranial plasticity is discussed by Baker at the end of his chapter on ‘Physical Differences Between the Ethnic Taxa of Man: Introductory Remarks’ (p201-2). However, this is outside of Baker’s chapters on “The Historical Background”, and therefore Boas’s role in (allegedly) shaping the contemporary consensus of ‘race denial’ is entirely unexplored by Baker. For discussion on this topic, see Carl Degler’s In Search of Human Nature; see also Chapter Two of Kevin Macdonald’s The Culture of Critique (which I have reviewed here) and Chapter Three of Sarich and Miele’s Race: The Reality of Human Differences (which I have reviewed here, here and here).
Thus, there was no new scientific discovery that presaged or justified the abandonment of biological race as an important causal factor in the social and behavioural sciences. Later scientific developments, notably in genetics, were certainly later co-opted in support of this view. However, there is no coincidence in time between these two developments. Therefore, whatever the true origins of the theory of racial egalitarianism, whether one attributes it to horror at the misuse of race science by the Nazi regime, or the activism of certain influential social scientists such as Boas and Montagu, one thing is certain – namely, the abandonment, or at least increasing deemphasis, of the race category in the social and behavioural sciences was originally motivated by political rather than scientific considerations. See Carl Degler’sIn Search of Human Nature; see also Chapter 2 of Kevin Macdonald’s Culture of Critique (which I have reviewed here) and Chapter Three of Sarich and Miele’s Race: The Reality of Human Differences (which I have reviewed here, here and here).
 That OUP gave up the copyright is, of course, to be welcomed, since it means, rather than gathering dust on the shelves of university libraries, while the few remaining copies still in circulation from the first printing rise in value, it has enabled certain dissident publishing houses to release new editions of this now classic work.
This is, at least, how Baker describes this ‘species complex’ and how it was traditionally understood. Researching the matter on the internet, however, suggests whether this species complex represents a true ring species is a matter of some dispute (e.g. Liebers et al 2006).
 In cases of matings between sheep and goats that result in offspring, the resulting offspring themselves are usually, if not always, infertile. Moreover, actually, according to the wikipedia page on the topic, the question of when sheep and goats can ever successfully interbreed is more complex than suggested by Baker.
“The form of the skull of a child is directly connected with the characteristics of the structure of the mother’s pelvis—they should correspond to each other in the goal of eliminating death in childbirth. The mixing of the races unavoidably leads to this, because the structure of the pelvis of a mother of a different race does not correspond to the shape of the head of [the] mixed infant; that leads to complications during childbirth” (Raciology: p157).
“Women on lower races endure births very easily, sometimes even without any pain, and only in highly rare cases do they die from childbirth. But this can never be said of women of lower races who birth children of white fathers” (Raciology: p157).
Thus, he quotes an early-twentieth century Russian race theorist as claiming:
“American Indian women… often die in childbirth from pregnancies with a child of mixed blood from a white father, whereas pure-blooded children within them are easily born. Many Indian women know well the dangers [associated with] a pregnancy from a white man, and therefore, they prefer a timely elimination of the consequence of cross-breeding by means of fetal expulsion, in avoidance of it” (Raciology: p157-8).
This, interestingly, accords with the claim of infamous late-twentieth century race theorist J Philippe Rushton, in the ‘Preface to the Third Edition’ of his book Race, Evolution and Behavior (which I have reviewed here), that, as compared to whites and Asians, blacks have “narrower hips”, giving them “a more efficient stride”, which provides an advantage in many athletic events, and that:
“The reason Whites and East Asians have wider hips than Blacks, and so make poorer runners, is because they give birth to larger brained babies” (Race, Evolution and Behavior: p11-12).
However, contrary to the claim of Avdeyev, I find support from contemporary delivery room data, for the claim that women from so-called ‘lower-races’ experience greater birth complications, and mortality rates, when birthing offspring fathered by European males. On the contrary, it is only differences in overall body-size, not brain-size, that seem to be the key factor, with East Asian women having greater difficulties birthing offspring fathered by European males because of the smaller frames of East Asian women, even though East Asians have brains as large as or larger than those of Europeans (Nystrom et al 2008). Neither is it true that, where inter-racial mating has not occurred, then, on account of the small brain-size of their babies:
“Women on lower races endure births very easily, sometimes even without any pain, and only in highly rare cases do they die from childbirth” (Raciology: p157).
 Examining the effects of interracial hybridization on other traits besides fertility, there are mixed results. Thus, one study reported what the authors interpreted as a hybrid vigour effect on g-factor of general intelligence among the offspring of white-Asian unions in Hawaii, as compared to the offspring of same-race couples matched for educational and occupational levels (Nagoshi & Johnson 1986). Similarly, Lewis (2010) attributed the higher attractiveness ratings accorded to the faces of mixed-race people to heterosis. Meanwhile, another study found that height was positively correlated with the distance between the birthplaces of one’s parents, itself presumably a correlate of their relatedness (Koziel et al 2011). On the other hand, however, behavioural geneticist Glayde Whitney suggests that hybrid incompatibility may explain the worse health outcomes, and shorter average life-spans, of African Americans as compared to whites in the contemporary USA, owing to the former’s mixed African and European ancestry (Whitney 1999). One specific negative health outcome for some African-Americans resulting from a history racial admixture is also suggested by Helgadottir et al (2006). It is notable that, whereas recent studies tend to emphasize the (supposed) positive genetic effects resulting from interracial unions, the older literature tends to focus on (supposed) negative effects of interracial hybridization (see Frost 2020). No doubt this reflects the differing zeitgeister of the two ages (Provine 1976; Khan 2011c). At any rate, even assuming that it can be shown that mixed-race people either enjoy improved health outcomes as compared to monoracial people as a consequence of hybrid vigour, or impaired health outcomes due to outbreeding depression, this is not directly relevant to the question of whether the different human races are to be regarded as separate species. As Darwin wrote:
“The inferior vitality of mulattoes is spoken of in a trustworthy work as a well-known phenomenon; but this is a different consideration from their lessened fertility; and can hardly be advanced as a proof of the specific distinctness of the parent races… The common Mule, so notorious for long life and vigour, and yet so sterile, shews how little necessary connection there is in hybrids between lessened fertility and vitality” (The Descent of Man).
Interestingly, while languages and cultures vary in the number of colours that they recognise and have words for, both the ordering of the colours recognised, and the approximate boundaries between different colours, seems to be cross-culturally universal. Thus, some languages have only two colour terms, which are always equivalent to ‘light’ and ‘dark’. Then, if a third colour terms is used, it is always equivalent to ‘red’. Next come either ‘green’ or ‘yellow’. Experimental attempts to teach colour terms not matching the familiar colours show that individuals learn these terms much less quickly than they do the colour familiar terms recognised in other languages. This, of course, suggests that our colour perception is both innately programmed into the mind and cross-culturally universal (see Berlin & Kay, Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution).
Indeed, as I discuss later, with respect to what Baker calls ‘subraces’, we may already have long previously passed this point, at least in Europe and North America. While morphological differences certainly continue to exist, at the aggregate, statistical level, between populations from different regions of Europe, there is such overlap, such a great degree of variation even within families, and the differences are so fluid, gradual and continuous, that I suspect such terms as the Nordic race, Alpine race, Mediterranid race and Dinaric race have likely outlived whatever usefulness they may once have had and are best retired. The differences are now best viewed as continuous and clinal.
 While Ethiopians and other populations from the Horn of Africa are indeed a hybrid or clinal population, representing an intermediate position between Caucasians and other black Africans, Baker perhaps goes too far in claiming:
“Aethiopids (‘Eastern Hamites’ or ‘Erythriotes’) of Ethiopia and Somaliland are an essentially Europid subrace with some Negrid admixture” (p225).
Thus, Lewontin famously showed that, when looking at individual genetic loci, most variation is within a single population, rather than between populations, or between races (Lewontin 1972). However, when looking at phenotypic traits that are caused by polygenes, it is easy to see that there are many such traits in which the variation within the group does not dwarf that between groups – for examp7e, differences in skin colour as between Negroes and Nordics, or differences in stature between as Pygmies and even neighbouring tribes of Bantu.
 In addition to discussing morphological differences between races, Baker also discusses differences in scent (170-7). This is a particularly emotive issue, given the negative connotations associated with smelling ‘bad‘. However, given the biochemical differences between races, and the fact that even individuals of the same race, even the same family, are distinguishable by scent, it is inevitable that persons of different races will indeed differ in scent, and unsurprising that people would generally prefer the scent of their own group. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that this is indeed the case. In general, Baker reports that East Asians have less body odour, whereas both Caucasoids and blacks have greater body odour. Partly this is explained by the relative prevalence of dry and wet ear wax, which is associated with body odour, varies by population and is one of the few easily detectable phenotypic traits in humans that is determined by simply Mendelian inheritance (see McDonald, Myths of Human Genetics). Intriguingly, Nicholas Wade speculates that dry earwax, which is associated with less strong body-odour, may have evolved through sexual selection in colder climates where, due to the cold, more time is spent indoors, in enclosed spaces, where body odour is hence more readily detectable, and producing less scent may have conferred a reproductive advantage (A Troublesome Inheritance: p91). This may explain some of the variation in the prevalence of dry and wet ear wax respectively, with dry earwax predominating only in East Asia, but also being found, albeit to a lesser degree, among Northern Europeans. On the other hand, however, although populations inhabiting colder climates may spend more time indoors, populations inhabiting tropical climates might be expect to sweat more due to the greater heat and hence build up greater bodily odour.
A few exceptions include where Baker discusses the small but apparently statistically significant differences between the skulls of ‘Celts’ and Anglo-Saxons (p257), and where he mentions statistically significant differences between ancient Egypian skulls and those of Negroes (p518).
 Thus, of the infamous Khazar hypothesis, now almost wholly discredited by genetic data, but still popular among some anti-Zionists, because it denies the historical connection between (most) contemporary Jews and the land of Israel, and among Christian anti-Semites, because it denies that the Ashkenazim are indeed ‘chosen people’ of the Old Testament, Baker writes:
“It is clear they [the Khazars] were not related, except by religion, to any modern group of Jews” (p34).
 Baker thus puts the intellectual achievements of the Ashkenazim in the broader context of other groups within this same subrace, including the Assyrians, Hittites and indeed Armenians themselves. Thus, he concludes:
“The contribution of the Armenid subrace to civilization will bear comparison with that of any other” (p246-7).
Some recent genetic studies have indeed suggested affinities between Ashkenazim and Armenian populations (Nebel et al 2001; Elhaik 2013).
“Weisbach‘s nineteen Jews vied with the Patagonians in possessing the longest nose (71 mm.) of all the nineteen races examined by him … while they had at the same time the narrowest noses (34 mim)” (Jacobs 1886).
This data, suggesting that Jewish noses are indeed long but are also very narrow, contradicts Baker’s claim that the characteristic Ashkenazi nose is “large in all dimensions [emphasis added]” (p239). However, such a nose shape is consistent Jews having evolved in an arid desert environment, such as the Nagev or other nearbydeserts, or in the Judean mountains, where the earliest distinctively Jewish settlements are thought to have developed. Thus, anthropologist Stephen Molnar writes:
Hans Eysenck refers in his autobiography to a study supposedly conducted by one of his PhD students that ostensibly demonstrated statistically that people, both Jewish and Gentile, actually perform at no better than chance when attempting to distinguish Jews from non-Jews, even after extended interaction with one another (Rebel with a Cause: p35). However, since he does not cite a source or reference for this study, it was presumably unpublished, and must be interpreted with caution. Eysenck himself, incidentally, was of closetedhalf-Jewish ancestry, practising what anti–SemiteKevinMacdonald calls ‘crypsis’, which may be taken to suggest he was not entirely disinterested with regard to to question of the extent to which Jews can be recognized by sight. The only other study I have found addressing the quite easily researchable, if politically incorrect, question of whether some people can or cannot identify Jews from non-Jews on the basis of phenotypic differences is Andrzejewski et al (2009).
 This is one of the few occasions in the book where I recall Baker actually mentioning whether the morphological differences between racial groupings that he describes are statistically significant.
 Interestingly, Stephen Oppenheimer, in his book Origins of the British, posits a link between the so-called ‘Celtic’ regions of the British Isles and populations from one particular area of the Mediterranean, namely the Iberian peninsula, especially the Basques, themselves probably the descendants of the original pre-Indo-European inhabitants of the peninsula (see Oppenheimer 2006; see also Blood of the Isles). This seemingly corroborates the otherwise implausible mythological account of the peopling of Ireland provided in Lebor Gabála Érenn, which claims that the last major migration to, and invasion of, Ireland, from which the modern Irish primarily descend, arrived from Spain in the form of the Milesians. This mythological account may derive from the similarity between the Greek and Latin words for the two regions, namely ‘Iberia’ and ‘Hibernia’ respectively, and between the words ‘Gael’ and ‘Galicia’, and the belief of some ancient Roman writers, notably Orosius and Tacitus, that Ireland lay midway between Britain and Spain (Carey 2001). However, while some early population genetic studies were indeed interpreted to suggest a connection between populations from Iberia and the British Isles, this interpretation seems to have been largely been discredited by more recent research.
On the other hand, the Welsh, in addition to being darker-haired than the English, are also darker-eyed, with a particularly high prevalence of dark eyes being found in certain more isolated regions of Wales (The Races of Europe: p389). Interestingly, as far back as the time of the Roman Empire, the Silures, a Brittonic tribe occupying most of South-East Wales and known for their fierce resistance to the Roman conquest, were described by Roman writers Tacitus and Jordanes (the Romans themselves being, of course, a Mediterranean people) as “swarthy” in appearance and as possessing black curly hair. The same is true of the, also until recently Celtic-speaking, Cornish people, who are, Coon reports, “the darkest eyed of the English” (The Races of Europe: p389). Dark hair is also more common in Cornwall(The Races of Europe: p386). Cornwall is, Coon therefore reports, “the darkest county in England” (The Races of Europe: p396). (However, with the historically unprecedented mass migration of non-whites into the UK in the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond, this is, of course, no doubt no longer true.) Yet another complicating factor is the prevalence of red hair, which is also associated with the ‘Celtic’ regions of the British Isles, but is hardly a Mediterranean character, and which, like dark hair, reaches its highest prevalence in Wales (The Races of Europe: p385). Baker, for his part, does not dwell on this point, but does acknowledge, “there is rather a high proportion of people with red hair in Wales”, something for which, he claims “no satisfactory explanation… has been provided” (p265). Interestingly, Baker is skeptical regarding the supposed association of the ancient Celts with ginger or auburn hair. He traces this belief to a single casual remark of Tacitus. However, he suggests that the Latin word used ‘rutilai’ is actually better translated as “red (inclining to golden yellow)”, and was, he observes, also used to refer to the Golden Fleece and to gold coinage (p257).
“We are an ancient people, and though the [British] Isles has been the target of invasion and opposed settlement from abroad ever since Julius Caesar first stepped onto the shingle shores of Kent, these have barely scratched the topsoil of our deep rooted ancestry” (Blood of the Isles: p338).
However, population genetics is an extremely fast moving science, and recent research has revised this conclusion, suggesting a replacement of around 90% of the population of the British Isles, albeit in very ancient times (around 2000BCE) associated with the spread of the Bell Beaker culture and Steppe-related ancestry, presumably deriving from the Indo-European expansion (Olalde et al 2018). Also, recent population genetic studies suggest that the Anglo-Saxons actually made a greater genetic contribution to the ancestry of the English, especially those from Eastern England, than formerly thought (e.g. Martiniano et al 2016; Schiffels et al 2016).
 However, in The Origins of the British, Stephen Oppenheimer proposes an alternative route of entry and point of initial disembarkation, suggesting that the people whom we today habitually refer to as ‘Celts’ arrived, not from Central Europe as traditionally thought, but rather up the Atlantic seaboard from the west coasts of France and Iberia. This is consistent with some archaeological evidence (e.g. the distribution of passage graves) suggesting longstanding trade and cultural links up the Atlantic seaboard from the Mediterranean region, through the Basque country, into Brittany, Cornwall, Wales and Ireland. This would also provide an explanation for what Baker claims is a ‘Mediterranid’ component in the ancestry of the Welsh and Irish, as supposedly evidenced in distribution of blood groups and the prevalence dark hair and eye colours as recorded by Beddoe.
 Actually, the meaning of the two terms is subtly different. ‘Paedomorphy’ refers to the retention of juvenile or infantile traits into adulthood. ‘Neoteny’ refers to one particular process whereby this end-result is achieved, namely slowing some aspects of physiological development. However, ‘paedomorphy’ can also result from another process, namely ‘progenesis’, where, instead, some aspects of development are actually sped up, such that the developing organism reaches sexual maturity earlier, before reaching full maturity in other respects. In humans, most examples of paedomorphy result from the former process, namely ‘neoteny’.
 These genitalia, of course, contrast with those of neighbouring Negroids, at least according to popular stereotype. For his part, Baker accepts the stereotype that black males have large penes. However, he cites no quantitative data, remarking only:
“That Negrids have large penes is somtimes questioned, but those who doubt it are likely to change their minds if they will look at photographs 8, 9, 20, 23, 29, and 37 in Bernatzig’s excellently illustrated book ‘Zwischen Weissem Nil und Belgisch-Kongo’. They represent naked male Nilotids and appear convincing” (p331).
But five photos, presumably representing just five males, hardly represents a convincing sample size. (I found several of the numbered pictures online by searching for the book’s title, and each showed only a single male.) Interestingly, Baker is rightly skeptical regarding claims of differences in the genitalia between European subraces, given the intimate nature of the measurements required, writing:
“It is difficult to obtain measurements of theses parts of the body and statements about subracial differences in them must not be accepted without confirmation” (p219).
 Interestingly, in their book Big Brain: The Origins and Future of Human Intelligence, neuroscientists Gary Lynch and Richard Granger devote considerable discussion to a supposedly extinct species of hominid, termed Boskop Man or alternatively the ‘Boskopoid race’, who, they claim, possessed, as compared to other hominid species (ourselves included), extremely large brains, paedomorphic traits and some physical resemblence to living San Bushmen. However, anthropologist-blogger John Hawks has critiqued this claim in a blog post where he argues that the Boskops are no longer recognized as a distinct species (or subspecies) of hominid and also that the cranial capacity of those remains formerly identified as ‘Boskop’, though certainly large, has nevertheless been exaggerated. In this, Hawks cites Singer (1958), who argues that those skulls identified as ‘Boskops’ should instead be classified as Khoisan, from whom they were formerly distinguished solely on the basis of their brain size. However, as Baker suggests, living San Bushmen have very small brains as compared to other extant human races, at least according to data cited by Richard Lynn in his book, Race Differences in Intelligence (reviewed here).
 Indeed, the claim that East Asians are especially paedomorphic or neotenized as compared to other races is not restricted to researchers in the racialist or hereditarian tradition. On the contrary, no lesser leftist champion of racial egalitarianism than infamous scientific fraudandcharlatanStephen Jay Gould conceded:
“It is hard to deny that Mongoloids… are the most paedomorphic of human groups” (Ontogeny and Phylogeny: p134).
 Baker does discuss the performance of East Asians on IQ tests, but his conclusions are ambivalent (p490-492). He concludes, for example, “the IQs of Mongolid[i.e. East Asian] children in North America are generally found to be about the same as those of Europids” (p490). Yet recent studies have revealed a slight advantage for East Asians in general intelligence. Baker also mentions the relatively higher scores of East Asians on tests ofspatio-visual ability,as compared to verbal ability.However, he attributes this to their lack of proficiency in the language of their host culture, as he relied mostly on American studies of first and second-generation immigrants, or the descendants of immigrants, who were often raised in non-English-speaking homes, and hence only learnt English as a second-language (p490). However, recent studies suggest that East Asians score relatively lower on verbal ability, as compared to their scores on spatio-visual ability, even when tested in a language in which they are wholly proficient (see Race Differences in Intelligence: reviewed here).
 Indeed, in proposing tenable environmental-geographical explanations for the rise and fall of civilizations in different parts of the world, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel represents a substantial challenge to Baker’s conclusions in this chapter and the two books are well worth reading together. Another recent work addressing the question of why civilizations rise and fall among different races and peoples, but reaching less politically-correct conclusions, is Michael Hart’s Understanding Human History, which seems to have been conceived of as a rejoinder to Diamond, drawing heavily upon, but also criticizing the former work.
 Interestingly, Baker quotes Toynbee as suggesting that:
“An ‘identifying mark’ (but not a definition) [of] civilization might be equated with ‘a state of society in which there is a minority of the population, however small, that is free from the task, nor merely of producing food, but of engaging in any other form of economic activities-e.g. industry or trade” (p508).
Yet a Marxist would view this, not as a marker of civilization, but rather of exploitation. Those free from engaging in economic activity are, from a Marxist perspective, clearly extracting surplus value, and hence exploiting the labour of others. Toynbee presumably had in mind the ‘idle rich’ or ‘leisure class’, as well perhaps as those whom the latter patronize, e.g. artists, though the latter, if paid for their work, are surely engaging in a form of economic activity, as indeed are the patrons who subsidize them. (Indeed, even the ‘idle rich’ or ‘leisure class’ engage in economic activity, if only as consumers.) However, this criterion, at least as described by Baker, is at least as capable of applying to the opposite end of the social spectrum – i.e. the welfare-dependent underclass. Did Toynbee really intend to suggest that the existence of the long-term unemployed is a distinctive marker of civilization? If so, is Baker really agreeing with him?
 The full list of criteria for civilization provided by Baker is as follows:
“In the ordinary circumstances of life in public places they cover the external genitalia and greater part of the trunk with clothes” (p507);
“They order their society by a system of laws, which are enforced in such a way that they ordinarily go about their various concerns in times of peace without danger of attack or arbitrary arrest” (p507);
“They permit accused people to defend themselves and call witnesses” (p507);
“They do not use torture to extract information or punishment” (p507);
“There is some appreciation of the fine arts” (p508);
“Knowledge and understanding are valued as ends in themselves” (p508).
 Actually, some of the criteria include both technological and moral elements. For example, the second requirement, namely that the culture in question “keep the body clean and take care to dispose of its waste elements”, at first seems a purely moral requirement. However, the disposal of sewage is, not only essential for the maintenance of healthy populations living at high levels of population density, but also often involves impressive feats of engineering (p507). Similarly, the requirement that some people “live intowns or cities” seems quite arbitrary. However, to sustain populations at the high population density required in towns and cities usually requires substantial technological, not to mention social and economic, development. Likewise, the building and maintenance ofroads linking these settlements, also mentioned by Baker as part of the same criterion, is a technological achievement, often requiring, like the building of facilities for sewage disposal, substantial coordination of labour.
“Until the arrival of Europeans there was no literate civilization in the continent’s black belt. The Negro had no written language, no numerals, no calendar, no system of measurement. He never developed a plow or wheel. He never domesticated any animal. With the rarest exceptions, he built nothing more elaborate than mud huts and thatched stockades” (IQ and Racial Differences: p2).
 This, of course, depends on precisely how we define the words ‘machine’ and ‘mechanical’. Thus, many authorities, especially military historians, class the simple bow as the first true ‘machine’. However, the only indigenous people known to lack even the bow and arrow at the time of their first contact with Europeans were the Australian Aboriginals of Australia and Tasmania.
 With regard to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Baker emphasizes that “the buildings in question are in no sense houses; the great majority of them are simply walls” (p402). Nor do they appear to have been part of a two-storey building (p402). Unlike some other racialist authors who have attributed their construction to the possiblypart-JewishLemba people, Baker attributes their construction and design to indigenous Africans (p405). However, he suggests their anomalous nature reflected that they had been constructed in (crude) imitation of buildings constructed outside of the “secluded area” of Africa by non-Negro peoples with whom the former were in a trading relationship (p407-8). This would explain why the structures, though impressive by the standards of other constructions within the “secluded zone” of Africa from the same time-period, where buildings of brick or stone were rare and tended to be on a much smaller scale (so impressive, indeed, that, in the years since Baker’s book was published, they have even had an entire surrounding country named after them), are, by European or Middle Eastern standards of the same time period, quite shoddy. Baker also emphasizes:
“The splendour and ostentation were made possible by what was poured into the country from foreign lands. One must acknowledge the administrative capacity of the rulers, but may question the utility of the ends to which much of it was put” (p409).
 Several plants seem to have been domesticated in the Sahel region, and the Horn of Africa, both of which are part of sub-Saharan Africa. However, these areas lie outside of what Baker calls the “secluded area”, as I understand it. Also, populations from the Horn of Africa are, according to Baker predominantly Caucasoid (p225).
 The sole domestic animal that was perhaps first domesticated by black Africans is the guineafowl. Guineafowl are found wild throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but not elsewhere. It has therefore been argued, plausibly enough, that it was first domesticated in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Baker reports that the nineteenth-century explorers whose work he relies on “nowhere mention its being kept as a domestic animal by Negrids” (p375). Instead, he proposes it was probably first domesticated in Ethiopia, outside the “secluded area” as defined by Baker, and whose population are, according to Baker, predominantly Caucasoid (p225). However, he admits that there are no “early record of tame guinea-fowl in Ethiopia” (p375).
 The relative absense of large wild mammals outside of sub-Saharan Afirca may partly be because such mammals have been driven to extinction or had their numbers depleted in recent times (e.g. wolves have been driven to extinction in Britain and Ireland, bison to the verge of extinction in North America). However, it is likely that Africa had a comparatively large number of large wild mammalian species even in ancient times. This is because outside of Africa (notably in the Americas), many wild mammals were wiped out by the sudden arrival of humans with their formidable hunting skills to whom indigenous fauna were wholly unadapted. However, Africa is where humans first evolved. Therefore, prey species will have gradually evolved fear and avoidance of humans at the same time as humans themselves first evolved to become formidable hunters. Thus, Africa, unlike other continents, never experienced a sudden influx of human hunters to whom its prey species were wholly unadapted. It therefore retains many of large wild game animals into modern times.
 Of course, rather conveniently for Diamond’s theory, the wild ancestors of many modern domesticated animals, including horses and aurochs, are now extinct, so we have no way of directly assessing their temperament. However, we have every reason to believe that aurochs, at least, posed a far more formidable obstacle to domestication than does the zebra.
 Actually, a currently popular theory of the domestication of wolves/dogs holds that humans did not so much domesticate wolves/dogs as wolves/dogs domesticated themselves.
Aurochs, and contemporary domestic cattle, also evince another trait that, according to Diamond, precludes their domestication – namely, it is not usually possible to keep two adult males of this species in the same field enclosure. Yet, according to Diamond, the “social antelope species for which Africa is famous” could not be domesticated because:
“The males of [African antelope] herds space themselves into territories and fight fiercely with one another when breeding. Hence, those antelope cannot be maintained in crowded enclosures in captivity” (Guns, Germs and Steel: p174).
Evidently, the ancient Eurasians who successfully domesticated the auroch never got around to reading Diamond’s critially acclaimed bestseller. If they had, they could have learnt in advance to abandon the project as hopeless and hence save themselves the time and effort.
“More study has been devoted to the craniology of ancient Egypt than to that of any other country in the world” (p517).
From such data, Baker reports:
“Morant showed that all the sets of ancient Egyptian skills that he analysed statistically were distinguishable by each of six criteria from Negrid skulls” (p518).
For what it’s worth, this conclusion is also corroborated by their self-depiction in artwork:
“In their monuments the dynastic Egyptians represented themselves as having a long face, pointed chin with scanty beard, a straight or somewhat aquiline nose, black irises, and a reddish-brown complexion” (p518).
“It was a common artistic style in many ancient Mediterranean cultures to portray men with red skins and women with white skins. This was done, presumably to reflect the fact that the men would have been outside working in the fields” (Children of Ra: p33).
Actually, according to anthropologist Peter Frost, this artistic convention reflects real and innate differences, as well as differing sexually selected ideals of male and female beauty (see Dark Men, Fair Women). Most interestingly, Kemp also includes photographs of some Egyptian mummies, including Ramses II, apparently with light-coloured hair. At first, I suspected this might reflect loss of pigmentation owing to the process of decay occurring after death, or perhaps to some chemical process involved in mummification. Robert Brier, an expert on mummification, confirms that Ramses’s “strikingly blond” hair was indeed a consequence of its having been “dyed as a final step in the mummification process so that he would be young forever” (The Encyclopedia of Mummies: p153). However, he also reports in the next sentence that:
“It would appear that their head-hair was curly, wavy, or almost straight, and very dark brown or black” (p518).
This conclusion is again based on the evidence of their mummies, and, since mummification was a costly procedure largely restricted to the wealthy, it again contradicts Kemp’s notion of a ‘Nordic elite’ ruling ancient Egypt. On this and other evidence, Baker therefore concludes:
“There is general agreement… that the Europid element in the Egyptians from predynastic times onwards has been primarily Mediterranid, though it is allowed that Orientalid immigrants from Arabia made a contribution to the stock” (p518).
Writing appears to have been developed first in Mesopotamia, then shortly afterwards in Egypt (though some Egyptologists claim priority on behalf of Egypt). However the relative geographic proximity of these two civilizations, their degree of contact with one anther and the coincidence in time, make it likely that one writing system was copied from the other. It then seems to have been independently developed in China. Writing was also developed, almost certainly entirely independently, in Mesoamerica. Other possible candidates for the independent development of writing include the Indus Valley civilization, and Easter Island, though, since neither script has been deciphered, it is not clear that they represent true writing systems, and the Easter Island script has also yet to be reliably dated.
Actually, it is now suggested that both the Mayans and Indians may have been beaten to this innovation by the Babylonians, although, unlike the later Indians and Muslims, neither the Mayans nor the Babylonians went on to take full advantage of this innovation, by developing mathematics in a way made possible by their innovation. For this, it is Indian civilization that deserves credit. The invention of the concept by both the Maya and the Babylonians was, of course, entirely independent of one another, but the Indians, the Islamic civilization and other Eurasian civilizations probably inherited the concept ultimately from Babylonia.
Interestingly, this excuse is not available in Africa. There, large mammals survived, probably because, since Africa was where anatomically modern humans first evolved, prey species evolved in concert with humans, and hence gradually evolved to fear and avoid humans, at the same time as humans themselves gradually evolved to be formidable predators. In contrast, the native species of the Americas would have been totally unprepared to protect themselves from human hunters, to whom they were completely ill-adapted, owing to the late, and, in evolutionary terms, sudden, peopling of the continent. This may be why, to this day, Africa has more large animals than any other continent.
 Baker also uses the complexity of a people’s language in order to assess their intelligence. Today, there seems to be an implicit assumption among many linguists that all languages are equal in their complexity. Thus, American linguists rightly emphasize the subtlety and complexity of, for example, African-American vernacular, which is certainly, by no means, merely a impoverished or corrupted version of standard English, but rather has grammatical rules all of its own, which often convey information that is lost on white Americans not conversant in this dialect. However, there is no a priori reason to assume that all languages are equal in their capacity to express complex and abstract ideas. The size of vocabularies, for example, differs in different languages, as does the number of different tenses that are recognised. For example, the Walpiri language of some Australian Aboriginals is said to have only a few number terms, namely words for just ‘one’ ‘two’ and ‘many’, while the Pirahã language of indigenous South Americans is said to get by with no number terms at all. Thus, when Baker contends that certain languages, notably the Arunta language of indigenous Australians, as studied by Alf Sommerfelt, and also the Akan language of Africa, are inherently impoverished in their capacity to express abstract thought, he may well be right.
This does not reflect merely the prurience of researchers. Rather, given that reproductive success is the ultimate currency of natural selection, mating behaviour is, perhaps along with parental investment, the form of behaviour most directly subject to selective pressures.
Almost all of this research traces its ancestry ultimately to Donald Symons’ ‘The Evolution of Human Sexuality’ by Donald Symons. Indeed, much of it was explicitly designed to test claims and predictions formulated by Symons himself in this very book.
However, if human evolutionary history were characterized instead by long-term pair bonds, then men would have evolved to be maximally attracted to somewhat younger women (i.e. those at the beginning of their reproductive careers), so that, by entering a long-term relationship with the woman at this time, a male is potentially able to monopolize her entire lifetime reproductive output (p189).
More specifically, males would have evolved to prefer females, not of maximal fertility, but rather of maximal reproductive value, a term borrowed from demography and population genetics which refers to a person’s expected future reproductive output given their current age. Unlike fertility, a woman’s reproductive value peaks around her mid- to late-teens.
On the basis of largely anecdotal evidence, Symons concludes that human males have evolved to be most attracted to females of maximal reproductive value rather than maximal fertility.
Subsequent research designed to test between Symons’s rival hypotheses has largely confirmed his speculative hunch that it is younger females in their mid- to late-teens who are perceived by males as most attractive (e.g. Kenrick and Keefe 1992).
Why Average is Attractive
Symons is also credited as the first person to recognize that a major criterion of attractiveness is, paradoxically, averageness, or at least the first to recognize the significance of, and possible evolutionary explanation for, this discovery. Thus, Symons argues that:
“[Although] health and status are unusual in that there is no such thing as being too healthy or too high ranking… with respect to most anatomical traits, natural selection produces the population mean” (p194).
Consistent with this theory, studies have found that women’s mate preferences vary throughout their menstrual cycle in a manner compatible with a so-called ‘dual mating strategy’, preferring males evidencing a willingness to invest in offspring at most times, but, when at their most fertile, preferring characteristics indicative of genetic quality (e.g. Penton-Voak et al 1999).
Interestingly, Symons even anticipated some of the mistakes evolutionary psychologists would be led into.
Thus, he warns that researchers in modern western societies may be prone to overestimate the importance of female choice as a factor in human evolution, because, in their own societies, this is a major factor, if not the major factor, in determining marriage and sexual and romantic relationships (p203).
However, in ancestral environments (i.e. what evolutionary psychologists now call the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness or EEA) arranged marriages were likely the norm, as they are in most premodern cultures around the world today (p168).
However, whereas Symons’s book set out much of the theoretical basis for what would become the modern science of evolutionary psychology, Wilson’s chapter on “Sex” has dated rather less well, and a large portion of chapter is devoted to introducing a now faintly embarrassing theory of the evolution of homosexuality which has subsequently received no empirical support (see Bobrow & Bailey 2001).
In contrast, Symons’s own treatment of homosexuality is innovative. It is also characteristic of his whole approach and illustrates why ‘The Evolution of Human Sexuality‘ has been described by David Buss as “the first major treatise on evolutionary psychology proper” (Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology: p251).
Rather than viewing all behaviours as necessarily adaptive (as critics of evolutionary psychology, such as Stephen Jay Gould, have often accused sociobiologists of doing), Symons instead focuses on admittedly non-adaptive (or, indeed, even maladaptive) behaviours, not because he believes them to be adaptive, but rather because they provide a unique window on the nature of human sexuality.
Accordingly, Symons does not concern himself with how homosexuality evolved, implicitly viewing it as a rare and maladaptive malfunctioning of normal sexuality. Yet the behaviour of homosexuals is of interest to Symons because it provides a window on the nature of male and female sexuality as it manifests itself when freed from the constraints imposed by the conflicting desires of the opposite sex.
This desire for sexual variety is, of course, obviously reproductively unproductive among homosexual men themselves. However, it evolved because it enhanced the reproductive success of heterosexual men by motivating them to attempt to mate with multiple females and thereby father multiple offspring.
In contrast, burdened with pregnancy and lactation, women’s potential reproductive rate is more tightly constrained than that of men. They therefore have little to gain reproductively by mating with multiple males, since they can usually gestate, and nurse, only one offspring at a time.
It is therefore notable that, among lesbians, there is little evidence of the sort of rampant promiscuity common among gay men. Instead, lesbian relationships seem to be characterized by much the same features as heterosexual coupling (i.e. long-term pair-bonds).
The similarity of heterosexual coupling to that of lesbians, and the striking contrast with that of male homosexuals, suggests that it is women, not men, who exert decisive influence in dictating the terms of heterosexual coupling.
Thus, Symons reports:
“There is enormous cross-cultural variation in sexual customs and laws and the extent of male control, yet nowhere in the world do heterosexual relations begin to approximate those typical of homosexual men… This suggests that, in addition to custom and law, heterosexual relations are structured to a substantial degree by the nature and interests of the human female” (p300).
This conclusion is, of course, diametrically opposite to the feminist contention that it is men who dictate the terms of heterosexual coupling and for whose exclusive benefit such relationships are structured.
It also suggests, again contrary to feminist assumptions of male dominance, that most men are ultimately frustrated in achieving their sexual ambitions to a far greater extent than are most women.
Thus, Symons concludes:
“The desire for sexual variety dooms most human males to a lifetime of unfulfilled longing” (p228).
Here, Symons anticipates Camille Paglia who was later to famously observe:
“Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy” (Sexual Personae: p19).
Criticisms of Symons’s Use of Homosexuality as a Test-Case
There is, however, a potential problem with Symons’s use of homosexual behaviour as a window onto the nature of male and female sexuality as they manifest themselves when freed from the conflicting desires of the opposite sex. The whole analysis rests on a questionable premise – namely that homosexuals are, their preference for same-sex partners aside, otherwise similar, if not identical, to heterosexuals of their own sex in their psychology and sexuality.
Symons defends this assumption, arguing:
“There is no reason to suppose that homosexuals differ systematically from heterosexuals in any way other than their sexual object choice” (p292).
Indeed, in some respects, Symons seems to see even “sexual object choice” as analogous among homosexuals and heterosexuals of the same sex.
For example, he observes that, unlike women, both homosexual and heterosexual men tend to evaluate prospective mates primarily on the basis their physical appearance and youthfulness (p295).
Thus, in contrast to the failure of periodicals featuring male nudes to attract a substantial female audience (see below), Symons notes the existence of a market for gay pornography parallel in most respects to heterosexual porn – i.e. featuring young, physically attractive models in various states of undress (p301).
This, of course, contradicts the feminist notion that men are led to ‘objectify’ women only due to the sexualized portrayal of the latter in the media.
Instead, Symons concludes:
“That homosexual men are at least as likely as heterosexual men to be interested in pornography, cosmetic qualities and youth seems to me to imply that these interests are no more the result of advertising than adultery and alcohol consumption are the result of country and western music” (p304).
Indeed, Symons himself mentions the evidence of an association between homosexuality and levels of masculinizing androgens in utero (albeit in respect of lesbians rather than of male homosexuality) just a few pages before his discussion of the promiscuous behaviours of male homosexuals (p289).
As Buller also notes, although gay men seem, like heterosexual men, to prefer youthful sexual partners, they also appear to prefer sexual partners who are, in other respects highly masculine.
Indeed, the models in such magazines seem in most respects similar in physical appearance to the male models, pop stars, actors and other ‘sex symbols’ and celebrities fantasized about by heterosexual women and girls.
How then are we to resolve this apparent paradox?
One possible explanation that some aspects of the psychology of male homosexuals are feminized but not others – perhaps because different parts of the brain are formed at different stages of prenatal development, at which stages the levels of masculinizing androgens in the womb may vary.
Indeed, there is even some evidence that homosexual males may be hyper-masculinized in some aspects of their physiology.
For example, it has been found that homosexual males report larger penis-sizes than heterosexual men (Bogaert & Hershberger 1999).
This, researchers Glenn Wilson and Qazi Rahman propose, may be because:
“If it is supposed that the barriers against androgens with respect to certain brain structures (notably those concerned with homosexuality) lead to increased secretion in an effort to break through, or some sort of accumulation elsewhere… then there may be excess testosterone left in other departments” (Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation: p80).
Another possibility is that male homosexuals actually lie midway between heterosexual men and women in their degree of masculinization.
On this view, homosexual men come across as relatively feminine only because we naturally tend to compare them to other men (i.e. heterosexual men). However, as compared to women, they may be relatively masculine, as reflected in the male-typical aspects of their sexuality focused upon by Symons.
Interestingly, this latter interpretation suggests the slightly disturbing possibility that, freed from the restraints imposed by women, heterosexual men would be even more indiscriminately promiscuous than their homosexual counterparts.
Evidence consistent with this interpretation is provided by one study from the 1980s which found that, when approached by a female stranger (also a student), on a University campus, with a request to go to bed with them, fully 72% of male students agreed (Clark and Hatfield 1989).
In contrast, in the same study, not a single one of the 96 females approached by male strangers with the same request on the same university campus agreed to go to bed with the male stranger.
Yet what percentage of the female students subsequently sued the university for sexual harassment was not reported.
Pornography as a “Natural Experiment”
For Symons, fantasy represents another window onto sexual and romantic desires. Like homosexuality, fantasy is, by its very nature, unconstrained by the conflicting desires of the opposite sex (or indeed by anything other than the imagination of the fantasist).
Symons later collaborated in an investigation into sexual fantasy by means of a questionnaire (Ellis and Symons 1990).
However, in the present work, he investigates fantasy indirectly by focusing on what he calls “the natural experiment of commercial periodical publishing” – i.e. pornographic magazines (p182).
In many respects, this approach is preferable to a survey because, even in an anonymous questionnaire, individuals may be less than honest when dealing with a sensitive topic such as their sexual fantasies. On the other hand, they are unlikely to regularly spend money on a magazine unless they are genuinely attracted by its contents.
Before the internet age, softcore pornographic magazines, largely featuring female nudes, commanded sizeable circulations, despite the not insubstantial stigma attached to their purchase. However, their readership (if indeed ‘readership’ is the right words, since there was typically little reading involved, save of the ‘one-handed’ variety) was almost exclusively male.
In contrast, there was little or no female audience for magazines containing pictures of naked males. Instead, magazines marketed towards women (e.g. fashion magazines) contain, mostly, pictures of other women.
Indeed, when, in the 1970s, attempts were made, in the misguided name of feminism and ‘women’s liberation’, to market magazines featuring male nudes to a female readership, one such title, Viva, abandoned publishing male nudes after just a few years due to lack of interest or demand, then subsequently went bust just a few years after that, while the other, Playgirl, although it remained in publication for many years and did not entirely abandon male nudes, was notorious, as a consequence, for attracting a readership composed in large part of homosexual men.
Symons thus concludes forcefully and persuasively:
“The notion must be abandoned that women are simply repressed men waiting to be liberated” (p183).
Indeed, though it has been loudly and enthusiastically co-opted by feminists, this view of women, and of female sexuality – namely women as “repressed men waiting to be liberated” – represents an obviously quintessentially male persepective.
Indeed, taken to extremes, it has even been used as a justification for rape.
Thus, the curious, though recurrent, sub-Freudian notion that female rape victims actually secretly enjoy being raped seems to rest ultimately on the assumption that female sexuality is fundamentally the same as that of men (i.e. indiscriminately enjoying of promiscuous sex) and that it is only women’s alleged sexual ‘repression’ that prevents them admitting as much.
Unfortunately, however, there is notable omission in Symons’s discussion of pornography as a window into male sexuality – namely, he omits to consider whether there exists any parallel artistic genre that offers equivalent insight into the female psyche.
Symons touches upon this analogy only in passing, when he observes that:
“Heterosexual men are, of course, aware that the female sexuality portrayed in men’s magazines reflects male fantasy more than female reality, just as homosexual women are aware that the happy endings of stories in romance magazines exist largely in the realm of fantasy” (p29).
Yet, while feminists perpetually complain about how pornography supposedly creates unrealistic expectations of women and girls and puts undue pressure on women and girls to live up to this male fantasy, few men complain about how the equally unrealistic portrayal of men in romance literature creates unrealistic expectations of boys and men and puts undue pressure on boys and men to live up to a female fantasy.
Female Orgasm as Non-Adaptive
An entire chapter of ‘The Evolution of Human Sexuality’, namely Chapter Three (entitled, “The Female Orgasm: Adaptation or Artefact”), is devoted to rejecting the claim that the female orgasm represents a biological adaptation.
However, subsequent generations of evolutionary psychologists have developed less naïve models of the adaptive function of female orgasm.
For example, Geoffrey Miller argues that the female orgasm, and clitoris, functions as an adaptation for mate choice (The Mating Mind: p239-241).
Of course, at first glance, experiencing orgasm during coitus may appear to be a bit late for mate choice, since, by the time coitus has occurred, the choice in question has already been made. However, given that, among humans, most sexual intercourse is non-reproductive (i.e. does not result in conception), the theory is not altogether implausible.
On this view, the very factors which Symons views as suggesting female orgasm is non-adaptive – such as the relative difficultly of stimulating female orgasm during ordinary vaginal sex – are positive evidence for its adaptive function in carefully discriminating between suitors/lovers to determine their desirability as father for a woman ’s offspring.
This leads to some decidedly cynical conclusions regarding the true nature of sexual and romantic relations among humans.
For example, Symons argues that it is adaptive for men to be less sexually attracted to their wives than they are to other women – because they are themselves liable to bear the cost of raising offspring born to their wives but not those born to other women with whom they mate (e.g. those attached to other males).
Another cynical conclusion is that the primary emotion underlying the institution of marriage, both cross-culturally and in our own society, is neither love nor even lust, but rather male sexual jealousy and proprietariness (p123).
Marriage, then, is an institution borne not of love, but of male sexual jealousy and the behaviour known to biologists as mate-guarding.
As well as its excessive focus on debunking sixties ethologists like Morris, ‘The Evolution of Human Sexuality’ is also out-of-date in a more serious respect Namely, it fails to incorporate the vast amount of empirical research on human sexuality from a sociobiological perspective which has been conducted since the first publication of his work.
For a book first published thirty years ago, this is inevitable – not least because much of this empirical research was inspired by Symons’ own ideas and specifically designed to test theories formulated in this very work.
In addition, potentially important new factors in human reproductive behaviour that even Symons did not foresee have been identified, for example role of levels of fluctuating asymmetry functioning as a criterion for, or at least correlate of, physical attractiveness.
In contrast, in support of his theories Symons relies largely on classical literary insight, anecdote and, most importantly, a review of the ethnographic record.
However, this latter focus ensures that, in some respects, the work remains of more than merely of historical interest.
After all, one of the more legitimate criticisms levelled against recent research in evolutionary psychology is that it is insufficiently cross-cultural and, with several notable exceptions (e.g. Buss 1989), relies excessively on research conducted among convenience samples of students at western universities.
Given costs and practicalities, this is inevitable. However, for a field that aspires to understand a human nature presumed to be universal, such a method of sampling is highly problematic, especially given what has recently been revealed about the ‘WEIRD-ness’ of western undergraduate samples.
‘The Evolution of Human Sexuality’ therefore retains its importance for two reasons.
First, is it the founding work of modern evolutionary psychological research into human sexual behaviour, and hence of importance as a landmark and classic text in the field, as well as in the history of science more generally.
Second, it also remains of value to this day for the cross-cultural and ethnographic evidence it marshals in support of its conclusions.
 Actually, the first person to discover this, albeit inadvertently, was the great Victorian polymath, pioneering statistician and infamous eugenicist Francis Galton, who, attempting to discover abnormal facial features possessed by the criminal class, succeeded in morphing the faces of multiple convicted criminals. The result was, presumably to his surprise, an extremely attractive facial composite, since all the various minor deformities of the many convicted criminals whose faces he morphed actually balanced one another out to produce a face with few if any abnormalities or disproportionate features.
 Another factor leading recent researchers to overestimate the importance of female choice in human evolution is their feminist orientation, since female choice gives women an important role in human evolution, even, paradoxically, in the evolution of male traits.
 Actually, in most cultures, only a girl’s first marriage is arranged on her behalf by her parents. Second- and third-marriages are usually negotiated by the woman herself. However, since female fertility peaks early, it is a girl’s first marriage that is usually of the most reproductive, and hence Darwinian, significance.
 Indeed, the human anatomical trait in humans that perhaps shows the most evidence of being a product of intersexual selection is a female one, namely the female breasts, since the latter are, unlike the mammary glands of most other mammals, permanently present from puberty on, not only during lactation, and composed primarily of fatty tissues, not milk (Møller 1995; Manning et al 1997; Havlíček et al 2016).
 Wilson terms his theory “the kin selection theory hypothesis of the origin of homosexuality” (p145). However, a better description might be the ‘helper at the nest theory of homosexuality’, the basic idea being that, like sterile castes in some insects, and like older siblings in some bird species where new nest sites are unavailable, homosexuals, rather than reproducing themselves, direct their energies towards assisting their collateral kin in successfully raising, and provisioning, their own offspring (On Human Nature: p143-7). The main problem with this theory is that there is no evidence that homosexuals do indeed devote any greater energies towards assisting their kin in raising offspring. On the contrary, homosexuals instead seem to devote much of their time and resources towards their own sex life, much as do heterosexuals (Bobrow & Bailey 2001).
 As we will see, contrary to the stereotype of evolutionary psychologists as viewing all traits as necessarily adaptive, as they are accused of doing by the likes of Gould, Symons also argued that the female orgasm and menopause are non-adaptive, but rather by-products of other adaptations.
 This is not necessarily to say that rampant, indiscriminate promiscuity is a male utopia, or the ideal of any man, be he homosexual or heterosexual. On the contrary, the ideal mating system for any individual male is harem polygyny in which the chastity of his own partners is rigorously policed (see Laura Betzig’s Despotism and Differential Reproduction: which I have reviewed here). However, given an equal sex ratio, this would condemn other males to celibacy and perpetual ‘inceldom’. Similarly, Symons reports that “Homosexual men, like most people, usually want to have intimate relationships”. However, he observes:
“Such relationships are difficult to maintain, largely owing to the male desire for sexual variety; the unprecedented opportunity to satisfy this desire in a world of men, and the male tendency towards sexual jealousy” (p297).
It does indeed seem to be true that homosexual relationships, especially those of gay males, are, on average, of shorter duration than are heterosexual relationships. However, Symons’ claim regarding “the male tendency towards sexual jealousy” is questionable. Actually, subsequent research in evolutionary psychology has suggested that men are no more prone to jealousy than women, but rather that it is sorts of behaviours which most intensely provoke such jealousy that differentiate the sexes (Buss 1992). Moreover, many gay men practice open relationships, which seems to suggest a lack of jealousy – or perhaps this simply reflects a recognition of the difficulty of maintaining relationships given, as Symons puts it, “the male desire for sexual variety [and] the unprecedented opportunity to satisfy this desire in a world of men”.
 Indeed, far from men being led to objectify women due to the portrayal of women in a sexualized manner in the media, Symons suggests:
“There may be no positive feedback at all; on the contrary, constant exposure to pictures of nude and nearly nude female bodies may to some extent habituate [i.e. desensitize] men to these stimuli” (p304).
 Thus, some men might indeed welcome being ‘raped’, albeit only under highly unusual circumstances – namely by an attractive opposite-sex partner (or, in the case of homosexual men, an attractive same-sex partner) to whom they are sexually attracted. Thus, Kingsley Browne, in his excellent Biology at Work (which I have reviewed here) quotes the perhaps remarkable finding that:
Of course, large numbers of women also report rape fantasies (Bivona & Critelli 2009). Yet this does not, of course, mean they would actually welcome real sexual assault, which would almost certainly take a very different form from the fantasy. In practice, therefore, members of neither sex are ever likely to welcome sexual assault in the form which it is actually likely to actually come.