Prolific author and star of “Radio Derb,” John Derbyshire, presented a broad, insightful history of the tension between race realism and race denialism. Earlier generations were much wiser than ours. What Mr. Derbyshire called the “long 19th century”—the period from 1776 to 1914—was one of unsystematized but also undeceived observation of human differences, and an instinctive grasp of the power of heredity. It also saw the gradual acceptance of evolution as the cause of group differences. After the First World War, advances in genetics, psychometrics, and sociobiology led to an increasingly scientific understanding of the three main traits that distinguish both individuals and groups: Behavior, Intelligence, and Personality, or what Mr. Derbyshire calls BIP. It is now unquestionable that all aspects of BIP are significantly influenced by genes.
Unfortunately, there has been a catastrophic retreat from both science and common sense. Ours is an era of what Mr. Derbyshire calls “race denialism,” in which “all observed group differences are said to be superficial, and all statistical differences are said to be caused by historical and social circumstance.” Because deniers still hold power, race realists are waging guerilla war for the truth. One tactic is to uncover and publicize “hate facts,” or “things that are demonstrably true but that we are not supposed to talk about.”It would be comforting to think that science will prevail, but Mr. Derbyshire warned that “scientific thinking is very unnatural.” Most people never get beyond emotion, or even belief in magic, and are adept at ignoring anything that undercuts their beliefs. Mr. Derbyshire noted that the West has already moved on to “sex denialism.” “If you can deny sex differences,” he asked, “what human trait can you not deny?” Denialists are like the White Queen in Through the Looking Glass: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”