Human Biodiversity--proxy

Bosley_J (BosleyJ@ORE.PSB.BLS.GOV)
Mon, 4 Dec 1995 15:32:00 EST

My colleague Ruth McKay, a real anthropologist but Internet-challenged,
asked if I would post the following abstract of a paper presented at the
recent AAA meet that Ruth really resonated with..since it's brief, I agreed
to do her this favor. If anyone wishes to comment to Ruth, please do so
off-list to, OK?

Author: Jonathan Marks
Title: The Conflict of Anthropology and Genetics against Hyper-materialism
and Folk Heredity

Abstract: Anthropology is responsible for the refutation of two commonsense
folk syllogisms, which nevertheless endure in the popular consciousness. The
first, popular since the turn of the century, runs: Genes code for the
Brain; the Brain is the seat of the Mind; the Mind contains Thoughts;
therefore, bad thoughts are caused by bad genes. while this has the
perennially seductive appeal of materialistic biology behind it, the
syllogism is as false now as it was when advanced by the early proponents of

The second is that the observation of consistent differences between groups
of people implies a constitutional basis for those differences. The
inference of an innate origin simply on the basis of consistency of
observation lies in the realm of "folk heredity," not in modern genetics,
and has been consistently refuted by physical anthropology in this century.

"Nature-Nurture" is a false dichotomy promoted by hereditarians since
Galton. It is both ahistorical and unbiological. Contemporary discourse
could more profitably be structured around two other axes: biological
history vs. social history; and within-group variation vs. between-group
<end abstract>

Ruth also gave me a citation to a book that includes a fuller treatment of
this topic:

Marks, Jonathan; Human Biodiversity; Aldine, 1995 (paper)

John Bosley