How Much Is Race Determined by Genetics?

Question: I am a college biology professor who specializes in University Affirmative Action Programs. It is clear that human races are genetically different and have genetically adapted to where they evolved; these are scientific facts and are not debatable.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
I am a college biology professor who specializes in University Affirmative Action Programs. It is clear that human races are genetically different and have genetically adapted to where they evolved; these are scientific facts and are not debatable. For examples, because of body form and fat distribution, Eskamoes [sic] are better adapted for cold. The Thai, who evolved in hot & humid tropical forests, are superior thermal-coolers. Whites better absorb sunlight and make Vitamin D, whereas dark-skinned people are superior at blocking harmful UV radiation in the tropics. Tropical races have superior genetics for fighting malaria–for example, there are at least 7 different gene-based anti-malaria defenses among different populations in Papua New Guinea. I could list nearly 100 gene-based adaptations of specific human populations.

The point is that the races are not equal. For the most part, each is superior in their native environment. For example, white missionaries died like flies in Papua New Guinea due to inferior genes for fighting tropical diseases, whereas NA Indians died from lack of genes to fight European diseases.

Africans are generally better athletes than whites, but different African populations are better at different sports. Eastern Africans, who evolved in hot dry grasslands where long-distance walking was essential, are superior marathon runners. West Africans are the world’s best sprinters and jumpers.

Unfortunately, 100 years of IQ studies suggest that Jews, Europeans and Northeast Asians have superior IQ. The Basque people also apparently have a high IQ. In contrast, hundreds of IQ tests have suggested that Africans are at least one Standard Deviation lower than Europeans in IQ.

During 200,000 years of evolution, virtually no African peoples moved beyond the Stone Age, devised a written language, learned to work stone or metal to any extent, or invented the wheel. Today, despite 200 years of contact with the Europeans, there is not a single “working” sub-Sahara country. Also everywhere Africans have settled, be it Brazil, Haiti or Sweden, they remain at the bottom of society and technical accomplishment. African societies tend to be brutal and backwards, and with a low standard of living.

Having superior cold or hot tolerance or superior sun block or malaria-fighting ability or better athleticism was very important 1,000 years ago. But in today’s complicated technical civilizations, the most important factor for success is intelligence.

I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just trying to understand why the hundreds of black students who have come through my AA programs have generally not measured up to the average intelligence levels of white, Jewish and Asian students. What if, because of genes, the Eskimo will never be heat-tolerant, the Thai will never be cold-adapted, whites and Chinese will generally never be great long-distance runners or basketball players? And what if because of genes, blacks generally do not have equal intelligence to whites and Asians? A million years of Head Start and AA will not change that. Please send me your thoughts.

Science has made tremendous advances in understanding genetics, especially over the past five years. The mapping of the human genome has proven that the outward, physical manifestations of race are determined by a very small number of genes (less than 6 percent). Genetic studies have also proved that there are no significant differences between human beings and that there is only one species of human. The concept of race has been judged to be biologically meaningless and the American Anthropological Association also rejects the concept of race.

External differences in human beings can be traced to geographic isolation after human beings migrated from Africa. This has been documented by the National Geographic Genographic Project. We are all of African decent.

What’s left to your e-mail is the social construct of race. Your eugenic observations on IQ make a scientifically invalid leap from culture to genetics to intelligence. On top of this, your reliance on a standardized test to determine intelligence is also bankrupt. We have written about standardized tests in the magazine and will have further articles in 2007. Tests don’t judge intelligence, and many factors impact test scores, notably economic level. That poverty can be traced to race in our country is the result of bigotry and racism, not genetics.

As far as your comments about Africa, you can connect almost all of the current problems in Africa to colonialism. The disgusting behavior of “civilized” European nations has not been proactively redressed to this day. It is a system maintained to extract raw materials without having to pay a fair price for them.

It’s sad to say that we human beings share a tendency to oppress. It is a common feeling to think that holding one group back elevates another group–but it doesn’t work that way in an economic model, noted by no less than George Washington, who observed that an acre of land was less expensive in Virginia than an acre of land in Pennsylvania–despite the quality of the Virginia land being superior. His conclusion, borne out by economists, was that slavery depressed value and freedom elevated it. In my opinion, science has caught up to economics. Now it’s a matter of we humans coming to grips with our own self-destructive behavior.

In closing, I have to note that I find it impossible to believe that a biology professor at a large public university would be so profoundly ignorant of the current state of genetic research and opinion. Your e-mail reflects a desire to be a bigot.

I’m sorry for your students. That you are involved with affirmative-action programs turns my stomach. You should consider yourself fortunate that you do not work for either of the two schools I am a board member of.


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  • Luke,I think your condemnation of the questioner was unfair given that this is a space for people who have questions that they don’t feel safe asking elsewhere. As an African-American, I too have wondered why it seems that most of the modern technological advances are attributed to whites from various countries. And why does it appear that mixed race individuals seem to have superior intellect and talent, i.e. Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Halle Berry. I ask myself those questions because I don’t want folks to know that I question equality.

  • Well this is how I see. I do not believe for one second the whites are superior (LOL). I believe that certain people (not groups) just don’t apply themselves. It has nothing to do with intelligence, rather than laziness. Blacks have made a lot of contributions to this world that others suppress. My question is why? Why do people continually try to suppress goups. The bottom line is our country would be a lot smoother if we actually embraced one another in deeds and not just words.

  • I will like to comment on your statement about African Americans being better athletes than whites this is not true because I am a 16 year old and I am not White nor African American, I am mixed such as biracial I am Indian,Irish,French White, Native American and Creo and I am a athlete and I beat a lot of races and I also lose some but it has nothing to do with are race it has something to do with are abilities/talents because the only thing different between people is the melanin in their skin and the height and weight and accents that people carry but when looking at a person all females have the same body parts and so do males.

  • I agree 100% with Luke. It was exactly what I was thinking when I read the question.
    In response to Guest posted on May 11, 2009: You say that you don’t want people to think that you question equality but you do. Have you ever heard of Martin Luther King Jr, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Dave Chappelle, the list can literally go on and on. You are either living under a rock or you choose to ignore the MANY talented black people with “intellect and talent”

  • You should all read Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”

  • I am appalled by the question!!! Are you serious? What rock did you crawl from underneath? Allow me to educate your obviously small, backwards, ignorant, inferior mind. Africans developed the first real civilization that has documented proof of language, architecture, and engineering– Egypt. Egyptians used sophisticated engineering, architecture, and community planning systems in building pyramids that your mind can’t even conceive. Imotep completed the first open heart surgery thousands of years prior to your Aristotle was even thought of. Here is a long list of African Americans and their inventions: Biscuit Cutter, A.P. Ashbourne; Super Soaker, Lonnie Johnson; Folding Bed, L.C. Bailey; Bicycle Frame, Issac R. Johnson; Coin Changer, James A. Bauer; Space Shuttle Retrieval Arm, Wm. Harwell; Rotary Engine, Andrew J. Beard; Printing Press, W.A. Lavallette; Car Couple, Andrew J. Beard; Envelope Seal, F.W. Leslie; Letter Box, G.E. Becket; Laser Fuels, Lester Lee; Stainless Steel Pads, Alfred Benjamin; Pressure Cooker, Maurice W. Lee; Torpedo Discharger, H. Bradberry; Window Cleaner, A.L. Lewis; Disposable Syringe, Phil Brooks; Pencil Sharpener, John L. Love; Home Security System, Marie Brown; Fire Extinguisher, Tom J. Marshal; Corn Planter, Henry Blair; Lock, W.A. Martin; Cotton Planter, Henry Blair; Shoe Lasting Machine, Jan Matzeliger; Ironing Board, Sarah Boone; Lubricators, Elijah McCoy; Horse Bridle Bit, L.F.Brown; Rocket Catapult, Hugh MacDonald; Horse shoe, Oscar E. Brown; Elevator, Alexander Miles; Pacemaker, Otis Boykin; Gas Mask and Stop Light, Garrett Morgan; Guide Missile, Otis Boykin; Traffic Signal, Garrett Morgan; Lawn Mower, John A. Burr; Hair Brush, Lyda Newman; Typewriter, Burridge & Marshman; Heating Furnace, Alice H. Paker; Train Alarm, R.A. Butler; Airship, J.F.Pickering; Radiation Detector, Geo. Carruthers; Folding Chair, Purdgy/Sadgwar; Peanut Butter, George W. Carver; Hand Stamp, W.B. Purvis; Paints & Satins George W. Carver Fountain Pen W.B. Purvis Lotion & Soaps George W. Carver; Dust Pan, L.P.Ray; Automatic Fishing Reel, George Cook; Insect Destroyer Gun, A.C. Richardson; Ice cream Mold, A.L. Cralle; Baby Buggy, W.H. Richardson; Blood Plasma, Dr. Charles Drew; Sugar Refinement, N. Rillieux; Horse Riding Saddle, Wm. D. Davis; Clothes Dryer ,G.T. Sampson; Celluar Phone, Henry Sampson; Pressing Comb, Walter Sammons; Arm for Recording Player, Joseph Dickinson; Curtains, Rod S.R. Scottron; Doorstop, O. Dorsey; Lawn Sprinkler, J.W. Smith; Doorknob, O. Dorsey; Automatic Gearshift, R.B. Spikes; Photo Print Wash, Clatonia J. Dorticus; Urinalysis Machine, Dewey Sanderson; Photo Embossing Machine, Clatonia J. Dorticus ;Hydraulic Shock Absorber ,Ralph Sanderson; Postal Letter Box, P.B. Dowing; Refrigerator, J. Standard; Toilet, T. Elkins; Mop, T.W. Stewart; Furniture, Caster David A. Fisher; Stairclimbing Wheelchair, Rufus J. Weaver; Guitar, Robert Flemming ,Jr; Helicopter ,Paul E. Williams; Golf Tee, George F. Grant; Fire Escape Ladder, J.B. Winters; Motor, J. Gregory; Telephone Transmitter, Granville T. Woods; Lantern, Micheal Harney, Electric Cutoff Switch, Granville T. Woods; Thermo Hair Curlers ,Soloman Harper; Relay Instrument, Granville T. Woods; Gas Burner, B.F. Jackson; Telephone System, Granville T. Woods; Kitchen Table, H.A. Jackson; Galvanic Battery, Granville T. Woods; Video Commander, Joseph N. Jackson; Electric Raillway System, Granville T. Woods; Remote Controllers, Joseph N. Jackson; Roller Coaster, Granville T. Woods; Sani-Phone, Jerry Johnson; Auto Air Brake, Granville T. Woods. Still think all we can do is run, play football, and basketball? Have you checked out Forbes lately? The owner of Radio One, Jay-Z, Puffy, 50 Cent. Yeah, they all run multi million dollar businesses that include more than just music. They own and operate clothing lines and fragrances. Do you know their largest consumer group? White kids ages 14-25. Some your most successful CEO’s are major companies are African American! I am almost at a loss for words. I can not believe that in 2010 there are still people that think like you. And you are college professor? And a university actually has the nerve to allow you to work with an Affirmative Action program? Let me point something else out to you. Do you realize that your precious plantations in the south would never have thrived had it not been for, not just the manual labor of blacks, but for the intellectual genius of us as well? We were your architects, your agricultural planners, your engineers, etc… We just didn’t get the title and the check that goes along with it. Your attitude is disgusting and racist!

    • Thank you for posting this. Because the ignorant question and that one ignorant response set me on edge.

  • I want to than you for busting this so called college professor for his obvious bigoted views. It is a shame that in this day and age such ignorance still exist on that level.

  • Quetzalcoatl

    Time for a history lesson.

    The only cultures that developed writing independently were the Mesopotamians and Chinese. The Greeks’ writing system is based on Mesopotamia’s (Latin => Greek => Phoenician => Mesopotamian).

    Also, the Mesopotamians created: The first kings, The first epic story (Gilgamesh), The first laws, the first court-of-laws, marriage, the first military, SCHOOLS, writing, money, geometric algebra (used to solve real architectural problems and constructed buildings which STILL STAND), consumer protection laws, THE WHEEL, and the list goes on forever. None of those originated from Europe independently.

    Even the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilizations developed schools independently (the Aztec Empire was the first place in the world where boys AND GIRLS were required to attend school), and developed architecture advanced enough that they built an island city which housed more people than London, with sanitation and separation of freshwater from saltwater… Europe was incapable of anything of that sort until around the 19th century (about 500 years later, half a millenia).

    Now if it wasn’t for a slave from Africa teaching George Washington about inoculation (No it didn’t originate from Britain), over half of George Washington’s revolutionary army would have died from smallpox, and there would be no USA.

    That’s African medicine for you, clearly they developed logical ways of thinking which produced empirical results, at least better than European bloodletting. I wish I could speak more about them but obviously the school system in the USA doesn’t bother to mention the origins of everyday things unless it comes from Europe, otherwise they merely mention a ‘thing’s’ first European counterpart.

    Most of, if not all of Europe was insignificant in world affairs, untechnological, unsystematic, ghetto, and dirty, until about the 17th century. With the exception of a few extraordinary Greek scholars, Roman and british laws, Europe contributed very little to the world.

    Whites being ‘intelligent’ and ‘humane’ and ‘clean’ is a very new thing.

    The Chinese built the first firearms, had the first spy agency, developed the TESTING system used so heavily in education today, is the longest lasting civilization, and forced literacy upon everyone they conquered. The Mesopotamians invented glass and everything mentioned previously…

    Europe doesn’t have much if anything going for it from a historical perspective. All of ‘their’ contributions are build-offs of things that were invented by other races.

    “Unfortunately, 100 years of IQ studies suggest that Jews, Europeans and Northeast Asians have superior IQ…”

    Just like most of ancient Europe, the Jews (ancient Hebrews) were backwater, illiterate, insignificant, hateful, and an extraordinarily low IQ tribe which contributed nothing to society at large. Then they became bankers.

    A good understanding of history will shred your views of racism; those that are significant now certainly weren’t in ancient times, although they imply that in the media often. Luckily, hardcore academia is only concerned with the truth, although it spreads slowly.

    You are a product of something I consider dangerous in the modern schooling system; it is only concerned with telling of Europe’s accomplishments as well as how badly Europeans treated others. There needs to be more emphasis on contributions of other cultures and proof of how all cultures had good and bad sides to them, physical and intellectual. What is being done now is conducive to making non-whites feel marginalized.

    Also, In Mesopotamian literature, they distinctly separate themselves from ‘white’ and ‘black’ skinned people, and did not migrate from Europe the same way Iranians did. Therefore, although they are close to middle eastern countries which label themselves as Caucasian, the Mesopotamians were not white or Hebrew (before anyone tries to lie about this).

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