Ma and Pa Anonymous Attorney, uncomfortably aware of their middle-aged son's interest in genetic racial differences, got me Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,
by Yuval Noah Harari, an Israeli history professor. Not, I am sure, to persuade me of anything, but just because it seemed up my alley.
First published in 2011 (in Hebrew) and then in 2014 (in English), it's a Jared Diamond
-esque trip laced with Harari's Big Thoughts on evolution, religion, life, people, all of human history, etc. Harari is a 40-something gay vegan who lives with his husband on an Israeli kibbutz, according to Wikipedia.Sapiens
begins tantalizingly enough, with a discussion of imagined orders and how they serve as touchpoints for mass human cooperation. Division of humans into "superiors and "commoners" might be a figment of the imagination, he says, but so is "equality." "All men are created equal", he observes, is a purely aspirational declaration.
"According to the science of biology, people were not 'created'. They have evolved. And they certainly did not evolve to be 'equal.'
In addressing the Interbreeding v. Replacement theories of out-of-Africa evolution, he notes
that if the Interbreeding theory is right, "there might well be genetic differences between Africans, Europeans and Asians that go back hundreds of thousands of years. This is political dynamite, which could provide material for explosive racial theories."
And, he concedes, the appearance of small amounts of Neanderthal DNA
in humans, discovered
in 2010, pushed the Interbreeding theory to the front.
But then, on page 152
, he preserves his tenured position, book sales and popularity with this
: "Between blacks and whites there are some objective biological differences, such as skin color and hair type, but there is no evidence that the differences extend to intelligence
And that's that. I haven't read past that sentence. Maybe I will and maybe I won't. There's so much evidence to the contrary, his credibility on whatever else he might have to say is shot.