Think of genes as the frame of a house: they determine the shape and set limits, but much of the important stuff gets added over time. He's also willing to ask tough questions--and come up with answers that anger people on all sides of the issue. And why are we so uncomfortable when we discuss this? On the whole, a disappointing book. But the possibility that genetics has something to do with it should not be ruled out a priori for political reasons. Many white kids, in states like Indiana, put in just as much time as black athletes.
Men and women alike became enormously stronger with these drugs, and the State's scientists kept one step ahead of the Olympic skeptics and eventual tests to keep pumping up their athlete's ability artificially. What is amazing is that sprinters come from West Africa; but the long distance marathon runners are virtually all from the same ethnic group in Kenya--the Kalenjin. But I had another friend who shall go nameless, who is a distinguished black American, had been an athlete, and excelled at the highest levels in other fields. The world's top sprinters and marathoners nearly all trace their ancestry to Africa. Physical and physiological differences, infinitesimal as they may appear to some, are crucial in competitions in which a fraction of a second separates the gold medalist from the also-ran. But when we talk about people such as Einstein and Mozart—or Mark McGwire, Jim Brown, and Péle—genes count a lot. The dust jacket for hard covers may not be included.
Unlike the brain, muscles can be inspected and probed to find out how blacks are different. In other words, human populations are genetically more different than Lewontin and others who have relied on his work realize. At first, blacks were considered inferior and incapable of competing with whites. And he investigates whether or not there is any linkage between physical superiority and intellectual ability. He jumps around alot, and hits a wide range of topics. Geneticists today hardly understand how traits like size and weight are inherited in fleas, let alone how athletic aptitudes are passed along in humans. Taboo respects these justifiable concerns.
And why are we so uncomfortable when we discuss this? He never ever raised the subject with me. Success will always remain a mysterious brew. Coming from a geneticist, rather than a sociologist or anthropologist, Lewontin's article had enormous influence, although not everyone was convinced. It concentrates on two primary adaptations that are important in many sports: quick bursts of speed and long distance endurance. In virtually every weight category, blacks dominated. He early in the books states his general thesis.
It is hard to make a plausible environmental argument to counter this wealth of evidence. The challenge is in how we conduct the inquiry so that human biodiversity might be cause for celebration of our individuality rather than suspicion about our differences. And once they entered the field of sport, nothing was spared for their advancement. In virtually every sport in which they are given opportunity to compete, people of African descent dominate. A deluded person can make excuses for other sports, but in the one event where raw ability wins out, blacks not only dominated, they totally monopolized the events.
Jon Entine not only raises the question, he strives to answer it in Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It. Yet the explanatory power of biology has its limits. This book finally brings that chapter to a close, and we can begin to look at athleticism with the same tools and analytical perception that we have devoted to intelligence. How this fact will be interpreted will largely determine whether or not we use the evidence presented here to understand our differences and celebrate them, or use those differences to drive others away from us, as we have in the past. The former Wimbledon champion was finishing A Hard Road to Glory, his sweeping history of the black athlete. And we should not forget that though black athletes may dominate sports, blacks in general do not: the ownership and high-level management of every major sports franchise and the various leagues are still in white hands to the virtual exclusion of African Americans.
The challenge is in whether we can conduct the debate so that human diversity might be cause for celebration of our individuality rather than fanning distrust. The sooner people accept the obvious that the peoples of the world are not physically and mentally identical, the better off the world will be. He shows why it is not just being black that matters, it makes a huge difference as to from where in Africa your ancestors are. And I think it's to the advantage of the black athletes to be proud that God was on their side. Nobody is a racist for pointing out differences in ethnic groups. This is a tough book to review, so many positives and negatives.
The East Germans had little to show for their utopian state, so they embraced an all-out effort to replace economic success with Olympic success. Taboo digs into evolution itself, and explains how individual differences are not only possible but are to be expected from the history of humans evolving in radically different climates and ecologies. Race—based on ancestry and marked by skin color, ethnicity, and geography—is a fuzzy concept. Different racial groups evolved adaptations that helped them to survive, and it is only natural that intelligence and physical attributes as well would not be equally distributed under drastically varying environments. Some scholars cry foul at the idea that blacks are physically gifted, seeing this as a subtle way of saying that they are therefore intellectually stunted. Entine recalls the long, hard road to integration, both on the field and in society.
We may not yet be able to definitively deconstruct the relationship of nature to nurture, but we are refining our questions. Professional sports in the Americas are dominated by men and women of West African descent. In reality no one has been afraid to talk about this supposed black domination in sports. Unfortunately, it was not forthcoming, only a general repeat as stated in the first section. It is every boy's dream to be an athletic star.