Born to Run?

William Voegeli’s essay “Liberty, Equality, Reality” (Fall 2019), was an interesting contribution to debate on nature and nurture in physical and intellectual attributes. In general, his discussion of my most recent book, Skin Deep, was fair, but on two points I dispute his emphasis.

First, he says I offer a “grudging acknowledgement” that population genetics can play a role in athletic achievement. There was nothing grudging about it (although I do show that these claims are often off the mark). I included the chapter to show that a wide range of physical attributes and liabilities are influenced by population genetics, but that this doesn’t apply to intelligence, and I explain why. In addition to my discussion of athletic genes, I devote a further chapter to discussing how genetic markers can help us understand the historical movement of populations (citing David Reich’s work favorably) and I also discuss diseases that differ between populations in considerable detail.

Second, he says that “Evans goes so far as to suggest that we should stop using the word ‘intelligence’

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