Allen Orr & Steve Sailer : Four Degrees of Separation

In his review of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance, H. Allen Orr had this to say about Wade’s speculations about the tribal nature of the societies in Iraq and Afghanistan :

One of Wade’s main plausibility arguments involves the difficulty of transferring social institutions from one group of people to another. As he puts it, “one indication of such a genetic effect is that, if institutions were purely cultural, it should be easy to transfer an institution from one society to another.” As we’ve learned, this isn’t always true. For example, “American institutions do not transplant so easily to tribal societies like Iraq or Afghanistan.” And that, it seems, is that. We are to conclude that the differences are probably partly genetic.

A little earlier, in his initial reaction to Wade’s book, Orr’s former teacher Jerry Coyne appealed to Jared Diamond and Steven Pinker :

I won’t go into more detail, because I originally intended to review this book for a large venue but decided not to because I found the book so bad that I became dispirited, and I also lacked the time (and knowledge of alternative sociological explanations) to do it justice. One needs a Pinker or a Diamond to review the book properly.

I refer Professor Coyne to the volume The Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2004, edited by Saviour Pinker himself.


In that tome he will find a 2003 article, selected by Saviour Pinker, called “The Cousin Marriage Conundrum” by Steve Sailer, in which the author predicted that democratic practises and civic culture would be impeded by the practise of consanguineous marriages in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or Professor Coyne can convey his mouse-click to the free online version of Sailer’s piece.

(There’s also a nice “Five Degrees of Separation” between Allen Orr and Gregory Clark, again involving Professor Coyne, but it’s not nearly as easily outlined.)

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2 Responses to Allen Orr & Steve Sailer : Four Degrees of Separation

  1. Pingback: Roundup of Book Reviews of Nicholas Wade’s A Troublesome Inheritance | Occam's Razor

  2. PE, your last two links are broken. You’ve got an extra ‘l’ on the htm in the Sailer link ( and there’s an extra space at the end of the Pinker link.

    And….well played, sir!


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