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Where Do We Go from Here? Comment on Fuerst et al. (2021)

Gerhard Meisenberg

Published: 2021/12/01


In the Fall 2021 issue of Mankind Quarterly (62:1), two papers were published about cognitive ability in genetically admixed African American and Hispanic populations in the United States. The main conclusion of the authors is that in the two cohorts they studied, cognitive ability is substantially influenced by genetic admixture proportions, even after taking account of plausible social and environmental factors such as socio-economic family background and self-reported discrimination. This commentary critically examines the findings and places this research into a broader context. First, the evolutionary theories under investigation in these two studies are stated and critiqued, and prior probabilities — the probability of different working hypotheses to be true before results are obtained — are estimated; second, the authors’ methods and conclusions are assessed; third, avenues for future research in the field are sketched; and fourth, the historical and social context is assessed with a view on the ability or inability of modern societies to profit from the results of this research. The conclusion is that the research appears fundamentally sound, its results can guide efforts to reduce socio-economic inequalities in the world, but that present-day human societies appear to be incapable of doing so. Keywords: Race differences, Intelligence, Evolution, Polygenic scores, Admixture

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