Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book: A Troublesome Inheritance

A few months ago (or maybe it was summer), I saw many people arguing about this book whether the author Nicholas Wade expressed "racist" ideas and whether the book had any "value" etc. I hate debates on what people call "controversial" topics. In my world, there is nothing controversial. You can say what you want. I respect everyone's ideas and even "insults." Also I had enough reasons to think that the book was worth reading. First, I read this post and then I saw several people's and "scientists" ' anger towards the author and his post. 

So, I bought the book and read it. 

I found the book really well written and clear. There are several parts that I do not agree with the author. But, there is no need to try to insult the author or the book. Moreover, there is no need to try to suppress others' ideas. Censor has no place in this century and in this country. It absolutely has no place in science. So, if you don't agree with him, you can try to write a better one and disprove what he said. It must be very simple if you are an expert in your field. This is where the problem stems from. Being a "science blogger" does not give you any credibility or expertise in a specific field of science. I saw people saying the he is not an expert so he is not eligible to write  book like this. Well, hello everyone can write anything as they want just like you write blogposts on topics that you have no understanding of. 

I saw a group of scientists wrote a letter saying "We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures." This is the best way at least to tell public that there are flaws in the book. A better one would be to write a better book defending your position. But, I guess not many people will do that since it requires writing more than a few hundred sentences. 

As far as I know, Wade gave an answer and said that he had asked for feedback but had never gotten any or something along these lines (I don't remember where I read it). So, it looks like the debate will go on. Maybe he will write another book. We will see.

Anyway, I think the book is worth reading. Believe it or not, the whole book is not about race and genetics. 

A few quotes worth noting (not associated with race debate) :

"researchers do not act independently but rather as communities of scholars who constantly check and approve one another's work."
 "[Paul Samuelson] Knowledge advances, funeral by funeral."
"Science is about what is, not what ought to be."

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