I just finished reading “The 10,000 Year Explosion” by Gregory Chochran and Henry Harpending.
My opinion is that it is a decent book for those who are not already familiar with the fundamentals of race realism. It is a good gateway book. There is a lot of repetition – which makes it any easy read. I finished it in one day.
I found some of the arguments, presented in the book, wanting. For example (pg. 59) under “skeletal evidence” for Neanderthal contributions to the modern genome, the most powerful arguments are not even brought up. This was a great disappointment for me.
The authors assume, throughout the book, that the “out of Africa” theory is correct. This can be forgiven since, to entertain other possibilities would have immensely complicated their task. It certainly made more sense for them to simply go along with the worst assumptions of the enemy camp, in this case, and build their arguments on that basis. Whether we accept or reject “out of Africa” is not central to this case and the book’s arguments are robust enough either way.
Toward the end, the authors tackle the challenge of higher average I.Q. for Ashkenazi Jews and its possible link to certain genetic diseases. I think the authors made a convincing argument for “heterozygote advantage” – that carriers of one copy of certain genes have an advantage while carriers of two copies suffer grave consequences. The analogy to Whippets in dogs was interesting. I also appreciate the arguments in favor of Ashkenazi Jews being a genetically distinct group. One of these days, I hope to do a DNA test on myself just to see if the testers can determine my Jewish ancestry from the swab alone. According to the authors, Ashkenazi Jews average some 60% Mideastern DNA. I wonder what mine is…
One major factor in Ashkenazi I.Q., that the authors considered of no consequence, is Talmudic scholarship. They focus entirely on Jewish financial activities such as money lending and tax collection instead. Regarding religious study, they write (pg 202):
Although the Ashkenazim put a tremendous amount of intellectual energy into Talmudic analysis during this period, we do not believe that the resulting body of work provides evidence of unusual mental acuity. Despite its historical significance and its importance to the Jewish culture and religion, it is fair to say that it hasn’t drawn a great deal of interest outside of the Jewish community.
… but the rabbis did not take their wives from “outside the Jewish community”. They took them from within the community. It was specifically religious scholarship that made a man coveted as a husband. So the authors’ argument here makes no sense. Also, there is copious evidence for mental acuity within the Jewish literature in question. The fact that most of it deals with how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is beside the point. Did the authors really read through the literature in question to reach their conclusion? Somehow I doubt it. Anyway, being an Ashkenazi Jew myself, I must be right!
The entire spirit of the book is captured in just one paragraph in its conclusion (pg. 226):
The explosion is ongoing: Human evolution didn’t stop when anatomically modern humans appeared, or when they expanded out of Africa. It never stopped – and why would it? Evolutionary stasis requires a static environment, whereas behavioral modernity is all about innovation and change. Stability is exactly what we have not had. This should be obvious, but instead the human sciences have labored under the strange idea that evolution stopped 40,000 years ago.