Writings and Letters

A blog oeuvre… a "bloeuvre"

Tag: genetics

Race and Truth (Or… More Bullshit Science is Supposed to Prove…)

PREVIOUSLY on Iaian’s Brain:

“Christ, I haven’t been paying attention to current events too closely. What have I missed? Let me just check what’s going on at The New York Times Op-Ed, that usually gets my blood boiling. Oh, what’s this? ‘How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’‘? Yes, yes this’ll do.”

And now the exciting conclusion:

Folks. There’s just no such goddamn thing as Race. Good night!

I really shouldn’t have to go further, but apparently scientific racism just never dies. (Andrew Sullivan certainly doesn’t seem to want to let it.)

So let me try to briefly roll up my sleeves and handle this. Because… nobody asked and it’s my site, I can do as I damn well please!

Firstly, what do I mean by Race and why capitalize it? I’d like to distinguish “Race” as a Platonist-like concept of something that exists in itself outside human intervention, as opposed to “race” which is a social construct that has deep historical and cultural roots. I flatly reject Race and any attempts to prove its existence through biological (or any other) means. Though I still recognize race as a real theory made by humans from beliefs and events with real-life consequences.*

In Dr. Reich’s first piece, he would like to have the reader believe: “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’.” Furthermore, the consensus to the contrary held amongst those in the genetic and biological and sociological and humanities circles is dangerous because it: “denies the possibility of substantial biological differences among human populations.” (Italics mine)

What’s it all mean? Well, basically, Davey here wants us to believe that our genes can signify certain Truths about our Races—even when it comes to intelligence. (If your ears are already tingling, that’s because you’re picking up on the dog-whistle racism.) How does he reach such a “seismic” conclusion? You see, kiddo, he did a study a bit ago where some folks with prostate cancer had genes that linked back to West Africa. If genetics can be signifiers for certain things like diseases, why not intelligence? he says.

Hmm… there’s already a few problems. 1) There’s no such thing as Race. 2) Genes are simply an instruction manual to tell our body how to work; this runs the gamut, but they do not tell us to “be white”… that’s the job of society. 3) There’s no such thing as Race. 4) Simply because some gene(s) is found in West Africa does not mean it cannot be found elsewhere and the fact that Dr. Reich has not looked into this (or at least did not share his findings in his op-ed) and is quick to want to call this a racial trait should cause the reader’s bowels to inflame with dubiousness! 5) There’s still no such thing as Race. 6) Genes can be influenced by their environment. So even though a gene can be traced back to a certain region, it might not matter when the there and then of West Africa and the here and now of the United States are so vastly different and have different impacts on said gene. 7) Say it with me: “There’s no such thing as Race.” 8) Let’s jump to the glaring dissimilarities between using genes to track diseases like cancer and drawing the conclusion the same can be said for the social construct called “intelligence”. How does one describe intelligence? Is it like the lump of malignant tumor in your prostate, or more so a language classification of how society describes certain people with certain abilities in certain categories that are (to say the least) limited in their scope (I’m looking at you IQ tests!). Is racism a sign of intelligence? Are we more-intelligent white European descendants genetically predisposed to thinking we are racially superior to the rest? Dear Brutus, was it actually written in our stars all along? 9) There’s no such thing as Race! 10) The reader should be highly skeptical of anyone who tries to synthesize the very complex interplay of genetics into old social, historical tropes like “race” because… 11) And this is the most important point, there is no such thing as Race.

Now. I want to say I don’t think Dr. Reich is a eugenics-thumping racist. In fact, he really tries to distance himself in his second article and lame mea culpa/attempt to save face. He attempts his best to state his case again that he really doesn’t believe in the kind of old-fashioned Race all those Nazis and white supremacists were talking about. He’s a different kind of racist—I mean!—he sees a very narrow and specific understanding of how genetics can point to something he’s calling Race… but he doesn’t want us to worry about it. He makes this most breathtaking claim at the end: “…we do not need to be worried about what we will find because we can already be sure that any differences will be small…”

Uh-huh. Well, David. If your foregone conclusion (which has not been verified or agreed upon by any respected person in any related field) is so small and need not worry us (gee, one might want to say it’s… “negligible”), then… WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU WRITE THIS HUNK OF INCHOATE, UNSUBSTANTIATED DUMPSTER TRASH IN THE FIRST PLACE?!

Why, why you see it’s because Dr. Reich wants to protect us… from the racists!

The problem with this logic is that you’re continuously going to have to find buttresses against racists as long as they are still around. Racists gonna be racist. And if you say something like: “Actually, I think genetics do prove ‘natural’ disparities between human groups—like Africans and Europeans, etc.—and we can call these different groups ‘races’. And even though the results aren’t back from the lab, and might not be in for a while (or if ever), and even when they do come in, the disparity will be insignificant, and though I’m going off a very myopic sample base and drawing large conclusions my body of evidence can’t cash, I feel comfortable presenting my opinion and using my title of ‘Harvard Geneticist’ in The New York Fucking Times**… and also plug my book.” you are doing a real shit job of what you are purporting in the first place.

Case in point, Dr. Reich’s article was picked up by Andrew Sullivan, who then began soft-pedaling his eugenics claptrap again. I’m sorry, Andrew, black people just aren’t innately inferior to whites. I know your (and my) ancestors raped and pillaged and exploited nearly all of Africa for a few centuries, but that doesn’t lead to any useful conclusion of European (aka white) supremacy over Africans (aka urbans, err, I mean blacks), unless the conclusion you are trying to draw up is a racist one. Then, yes, I suppose I see how that’s quite useful. But you really have to work hard to make a whole group of human beings seen as lesser than you. It just doesn’t come naturally!

To let my pragmatic self take the wheel for a moment, what’s the cash value of an article like Dr. Reich’s? What use does it have for our social project? If one purpose is to engender a social imaginary that sees people of all colors as equals in an effort to combat the awfulness of racism, how does an article like this, supporting an unproven half-thought really get us there? As it stands, I don’t see how Dr. Reich’s stated opinions can help anybody but those who believe in some essential qualities of certain human beings that can be distinguished and help reify their imagined prejudices.

Ladies and gentlemen. Children and gimps. I know we all long for some answers in this deeply irrational world. I know we’re all just looking around, trying to make sense of why things are just so, and how incredibly easier and more satisfying life would be if we just had some core truths we could rely on. Sadly, it just doesn’t work that way. And when we lean too heavily on a tool of understanding like science to try and prove something True like Race, we’re only inviting ourselves to further bathos, disillusionment, and frustration. And more importantly, we’re elongating the agony of those who have socially and historically suffered for long enough.


I’d like to recommend a few books for Dr. Reich and anyone else out there that might be curious to learn about how silly, but violently dangerous, the concept of Race is. These books have helped me along the way.

  • The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
  • Racecraft by Barbara J. Fields and Karen Elise Fields
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

*It was brought to my attention that my use of Race in the original version of this piece did not offer a clear explanation of what I meant. This paragraph is an attempt to rectify that mistake.

**And shame on The New York Times. They pulled this kinda shit about fifteen years ago when they released some useless chart that misrepresented our genetic differences and ignored our overwhelming similarities. This kind of half-assed journalism really takes the wind of the Integrity Sails. [Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People, New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), p. 393]

DET Talks: The GCC Future

(The following transcript comes from the March 5th Democratic Educational Technological Talks—sponsored by the United Bondholders of America for America Coalition (UBAAC)—in the Year of Our Lord, Trump 2019. The speaker, Rannick Hollandaise, founder and CEO of Compassionate Capitalist Solutions LLC, talked about his companies efforts to expand the human genome in new and exciting ways.)

The GCC Future

“I want to start by painting a picture for you. Not literally, I have no skills. [Laughter] But I want you to close your eyes and imagine a mother walking through a store with her son. Let’s say it’s around Christmas time. She makes the mistake of taking a turn down the toy aisle of the store. There the child is inundated with this wide array goods. All the brands, all the action figures, they’re all there. Of course the boy becomes aflutter with all these toys. He wants everything he can possibly get his little hands on. But the mother, of course, cannot afford everything presented in the aisle. She tries to reason with him, but he becomes greatly depressed, and even though they leave the aisle with two toys (which she really shouldn’t be buying for financial reasons and others) the little boy is still upset.

“Imagine now, another mother mistakenly walks her daughter down that same toy aisle… say they rearranged the store overnight so the women are understandably confused, it used to be the cutlery aisle after all. [Laughter] Anyway, mother walks with her daughter, but instead of coveting everything she sees, the daughter simply walks by as if she is observing paint drying. The girl doesn’t care. The two walk on. Nothing happens.

“Now, of course, we all might be thinking: ‘bad parenting’ or ‘greedy childish impulses’ are to blame in the first scenario, and applaud the mother in the second scenario for presumably her better parenting skills. Or we might think this is some sort of gender comment. Boys being impetuous materialists, and girls are not. We of course know that to be empirically untrue. [Laughter] We may even think the products appealed better to the boy than girl for whatever reasons, the mysterious waving of the invisible hand and whatnot.

“Whatever we may be thinking, we might not recognize that both situations present problems. The first is obvious, the child is upset and the mother is in worse-off financial standing for trying to satisfy the boy. The second, the mother and girl seem unharmed, but what about the companies that have made these toys? Won’t they be hurt? And furthermore, won’t the mommies and daddies that work at those companies be negatively effected by the no-sale? Maybe not in this one instance, but extrapolating from there, you can begin to see the larger issue at hand. It is an issue that has plagued economists, business people, politicians, parents, consumers, pretty much every person around the world. The human relation to consumption. What is it? How does it work? What are the components? Who are the actors? And so on.

“We’ve tried for centuries to understand the right balance of and conquer that ineffable social alchemy between survival, consumption, and purpose. But in today’s modern world this seems less and less likely to happen. More companies come out with more goods to satisfy more needs of more people. How could we possibly make any progress in satisfying people’s consumer demands and reach the admirable goal of full-employment? The simple answer is: we can’t. Not as the way things are. We are stuck is a vicious feedback loop of anxiety, consumption, debt, and work. We will likely be stuck in this pattern until we eliminate ourselves from the world theater. And that’s the optimistic point-of-view… [Laughter]

“For centuries, we have been looking outward for answers only to come up empty-handed. But now that’s about to change. At CCS, we’ve been working for years on a completely novel way to alter our behavior in a positive manner for America. And the key to cracking this code is a code itself, located within us. Our very own genetic code. Through a process of—what we call—‘genetic commercialization’ we have been able to go into the human genome and change the DNA in order to create certain favorable characteristics. These characteristics are related to human desire and relationship with consumerism.

“Through our genetic engineering, we are able to construct the human mind to have certain set wants and needs. By simply tinkering with a few chromosomes, we are able to properly effect the human brain so that, even as a baby, the human already craves certain types of goods and products.

“Now, I know what you might be thinking: How do I invest? [Laughter] We’re already working closely with some of the largest corporations in the country, and have received another large grant from the government to continue our research and implementation well into 2025. It’s very exciting for us.

“But I’m not here to gloat. Well, maybe a little. Why I think we’re seeing such support and cooperation is because the future needs to be a little more organized, and genetic commercialization is a necessity. No longer will we be plagued by a sea of goods, for we will already have our genes pre-programmed to enjoy certain things and be opposed to others. Certain percentages of the population will love Disney, Coca-Cola, Hershey’s and Ford Automobiles, where others will prefer Hasbro, Pepsi, Nestle, and GMC. And others more. It will be very much like now, but instead of inter-corporate consuming habits being a burden to us, it will become part of our nature. Buying General Mills products will become as easy as breathing air to us.

“With designated sections of the population genetically devoted to certain brands for their entire lives, companies can always guarantee profits, keep a consistent workforce, which means employees won’t need to stress about keeping their jobs, consumers will never spend too far outside of their income and therefore get into too much credit trouble, and we eliminate a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to handling the market. We will essentially create a predictable consuming world, rich with people consuming American products and boosting American jobs and lifestyles.

“There is no limit to what we can make our DNA do. But there is a catch. It is us. We cannot manipulate DNA of people who are already born. Every one in this room cannot be saved—I mean fixed—I mean genetically perfected—I mean… [Laughter]

“Us ‘old-fashioned’ types will have to keep doing things the way we’ve always known, but the next generation is the key. Fetal manipulation is necessary to properly enacting genetic commercialization. The process is a little too technical and complicated for this seminar, and I’m already running out of time, but to put it simply: we have to remove the fertilized egg from the uterus and perform the patented DNA-swap procedure—humbly called the ‘Hollandaise Maneuver’—to insert the new brand-specific DNA. Then we place the embryo back in the uterus and let nature take its course.

“We already know this works… this is a picture of our very first successful test subject. This is Adam. Last year we performed the Hollandaise Maneuver and Adam was born nine months later, perfectly healthy. Over the course of the last six months, we have been testing out products with Adam. One of the brands we implanted into his DNA was for Procter & Gamble, not Johnson & Johnson or other family goods companies. When we tried to use products belonging to competitive brands, Adam either shied away from the products, or (very interestingly) developed rashes. His body and mind were clearly rejecting the other corporate brands, preferring Procter & Gamble’s products. It was a revolutionary breakthrough. We’ve been testing his other brand-DNA characteristics and so far have been met with success. It’s a very encouraging development.

“And when Adam grows up and decides to have children (because we’ve reinforced the reproductive drive in his DNA, too), he will most likely pass along some of these commercialized genes to his children. Assuming we can implement matters the way we believe we can, Adam will meet an Eve with commercialized genes, too, and they will have children who crave one set of their brands or the other—so in addition to wondering whose eyes their baby has, or whose nose, they’ll also wonder if the baby has their love for Pantene and Cornflakes, or Neutrogena and Cheerios.

“As I mentioned before, we’re already working closely with corporations and the government. There are a few companies that are holding back cautiously, but we are certain they will come around to us. Much like the agricultural revolution, all it takes is one acting group to change the world. We just need one corporate entity to join us and the rest will follow. And we don’t have one, we are already working closely with more than twenty conglomerates. In addition, we are teaming up with the administration towards passing legislation that will make our genetic commercialization a routine part of the circle of life—at least for the latest crop of parents. Then within the next, say, twenty to forty years, we will have implemented our first genetically commercialized generation of Americans, and—might I add—advanced the human species.

“We’re calling this project ‘Genetically Commodified Children’ or  ‘GCC Kids’ for fun. Imagine it, an entire next generation of youths who know exactly what they want to experience and purchase, and an entire world of workers and businesses developed around those consumers, Supply and Demand working together in perfect harmony.

“It’s really not hard to imagine anymore. The future is now.”

[Vehement Applause]