The Corner

The Swelling Wave

A number of thoughtful readers have written in on my Monday column

(geneticist makes house call) by remarking that the way genes determine the

characteristics of living things is complicated & not very well

understood — it depends to some degree on the interaction of a gene with

(a) other genes, and (b) the environment a gene, or its host organism,

happens to find itself in.

All of that is perfectly true, and I did not say or imply otherwise. In

this area of science, though, it remains the astounding case that _the

dominant consensus in the public square is an extremist one_.

That dominant consensus is, in fact, the assertion that genes do _nothing at

all_, most certainly nothing to do with brain function! The consensus is,

as Steven Pinker has scoffed: “See no genes, hear no genes, speak no

genes.” This is preposterous. Genes, with all their complications and

subtleties, are tremendously important in determining our characteristics –

both physical and personality characteristics — as every parent surely


My column leaked out to several lefty websites, where there has been much

sneering at it as a typical attempt to buttress white male supremacy etc.

etc. For the record, my visitor — the “datanaut” — is a dark-skinned

South Asian. He boasted to me, in fact, about how easy it is for him to win

arguments with campus lefties by pulling race on them — “I’m darker than

you, so what do you know?…” He says it generally does the trick.


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