Sex and Race in the Long Shadow of the Human Genome Project
Published on: Jun 07, 2006

Roger N. Lancaster is professor of anthropology and director of the Cultural Studies Ph.D. Program at George Mason University. His most recent book is The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture.

The Dramatic Rise and Sudden Fall of “The Risk-Taking Gene” (And Other Symptoms of a Contemporary Condition)

In 1996, The New York Times inaugurated the silly season of a decade characterized by an unwarranted faith in the power of science to answer questions about the meaning of human existence (and marked in particular by a mania for genetic explanations of the same). On the second day of the new year, science journalist Natalie Angier reported the results of two separate studies under the front-page headline, “Variant Gene Tied to a Love of New Thrills.” Thus was born the “thrill-seeking gene,” a term that circulated widely in print and broadcast news stories, joined heady debates, and quickly entered into vernacular English.

Within days, Gina Kolata, another prominent science writer at the Times, was exploring the ethical dimensions of such research in behavioral genetics, a field that, in supposedly probing the deepest mysteries of the human condition, also augured the possibility of “research best not done at all.” In a Sunday feature article, Kolata fretted not just over the possibility that new classes of stigmatized people could emerge from such studies—for example, biologically hardwired risk-takers, or people genetically predisposed to drug-addiction—but worse yet, that science was on the verge of intervening as never before to “sooth an impulsive personality, quell a rapist’s tendencies or dull an alcoholic’s cravings.” In a brave new world in which “every difficult behavior could be ameliorated” and “every rough personality made smooth,” where, the article wondered, would be “the core of the human soul?” Kolata’s headline queried: “Is a Gene Making You Read This?”1

In no time, drug abuse, criminality, risky sex, President Clinton’s shenanigans—you name it—were all being attributed to the thrill-seeking gene. In 1999, Time even ran a cover story on the subject (“Why We Take Risks”), announcing an evolutionary-psychological perspective on thrill-seeking (“For Our Ancestors, Taking Risks Was a Good Bet”)—about three years after it had become evident that the two studies on which the whole concept was based could not be replicated.2

As with the rise and fall of the thrill-seeking gene, so, too, have there been any number of other scientific “discoveries” announced with great fanfare only to be quietly retracted at a later date. In the early 1990s, studies by Simon LeVay, J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard—and, most notably, Dean Hamer (who was also the source of one of the two “thrill-seeking gene” studies)—grabbed headlines by purporting to establish a biological, even genetic, basis for male homosexuality.3 Methodological criticisms, alternative interpretations, and cautions from the comparative social sciences (where studies of cultural variation square poorly with the idea of a singular, timeless, biologically-fixed homosexuality) were lost in the blare of front-page headlines: “First Evidence of a Biological Cause for Homosexuality,” announced the LA Times (30 August 1991). “Genes Tied to Sexual Orientation,” trumpeted The Washington Post (17 December 1991). USA Today matter-of-factly proclaimed: “Study Shows Homosexuality is Innate” (17 December 1991). A notorious Newsweek cover queried: “Is This Child Gay?” (24 February 1992). The Advocate (27 May 1997), went one better, depicting on its cover a pink fetus illuminated against a bright red background. The caption read: “Endangered species. This child has the gay gene. Will he be aborted because of it?”

By the close of the decade, it became clear that the findings of none of the famous “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies could be replicated.4 But you’d have to have read stories buried pages deep in the same newspapers to notice. And even while The New York Times gave coverage—on page 19—to research that dramatically failed to replicate Hamer’s “gay gene” studies, the author of the article nonetheless spun the results as a minor setback in the quest for a gay gene, underscoring “the difficulty scientists face in finding genes that underlie complex human behaviors.” The same story gave Hamer five paragraphs of rebuttal space in a nineteen-paragraph article.5

Neoliberal Dreams and the Trashing of the Public Sphere

“Genomania,” the term used by Ruth Hubbard and others to describe a generalized rage for genetic models, claims, and explanations, seems as good an appellative as any for the pervasive media obsession of the past fifteen years.6 This enthusiasm for genetic explanations has been especially acute wherever practices or institutions related to sex are concerned. It wasn’t ever thus. As Micaela di Leonardo reminds readers of Exotics at Home, when Time ran its cover story on the new “science” of sociobiology, it gave extensive space to rebuttals by prominent anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Marvin Harris as well as Harvard biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin. The upshot of the coverage in Time and elsewhere was actually quite critical of sociobiology.7 By contrast, throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, the major news venues have essentially served as cheerleaders for every imaginable variant of bioreductivism: hormonal tales, evolutionary fables, fanciful genetics—and now, a re-born scientific racialism.

Why, then, the shift? How is it that ideas once deemed too crude to explain anything are now invoked to explain almost everything? The answer to this question is necessarily complex, as it tracks shifting discourses in the public sphere and prevailing cultural trends against the backdrop of a changing social formation. It also requires that we relate ideas and ideologies to ongoing social struggles, as these are embedded in their political-economic context.

The very different reception for bioreductivist paradigms in today’s marketplace of ideas corresponds to no new discoveries that would clinch the case for “nature” over “nurture” on any question of social import. On this point, the facts remain much what they were in 1984, when Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon J. Kamin wrote: “Up to the present time no one has been able to relate any aspect of human social behavior to any particular gene or set of genes. . . Thus, all statements about the genetic basis of human social traits are necessarily purely speculative.”8

Instead, the rise of genomania seems inextricable from the long decline of public sociology (and of public intellectuals generally). This decline began in the Nixon years: It first took form as conservative discontent with penal and welfare policies informed by sociological expertise. Highly publicized attacks on public intellectuals like Margaret Mead fed this process, which accelerated throughout the Reagan/Bush years and has yet to be reversed. Over the same span of years, academic culture was becoming progressively disengaged from meaningful social engagement. Now, as in the past, the interpretive social sciences provide an ample repository of historical and ethnographic studies that disprove bioreductivism’s flimsy universals and cardboard cutout models of human nature. But whereas sociobiological claims once faced systematic, factual rebukes from anthropologists, sociologists, engaged humanists, even biologists—critiques that were informed and substantial but that could still be put in educated laypeople’s terms—today’s bioreductivist claims face decidedly less decipherable responses from a generation of scholars weaned on the arcane vocabularies of deconstruction and poststructuralism. Advances (such as they are) on the intellectual front have thus drawn heavily against loans on the political front. The resulting dumbed-down public sphere has been largely ceded to those who can serve up bite-sized homilies, rousing sermonettes, and comforting quotes.

Identity politics—the quintessentially modern justification for political action and social redress by appeal to supposedly deep-seated, essential identities—has also provided fertile ground for bioreductivism. A segment of the gay rights movement, for example, has always argued that same-sex desires are inborn, congenital, fixed, immutable, and invariant. The “gay gene” was thus embraced by some activists as the basis for legal arguments for gay civil rights. At the same time, fables about the evolution of sexual differences proved irresistible to certain currents of cultural feminism. Meanwhile, men’s movement enthusiasts were invested from the start in such stories. For many, the much-invoked “crisis of masculinity” resulted from a postfeminist society’s failure to acknowledge and accommodate men’s inborn needs, the genetic and evolutionary heritage of manhood.

As the foregoing might suggest, genomania drew many of its preoccupations from the institutional shifts accompanying neoliberalism and the advent of what I dub “sexual postfordism.”9 That is to say, bioreductive accountings served to stabilize sexual desire, gender roles, family forms, and so on, during a period when nothing much seemed very stable about them. They purported to root identity in the points de capiton of biology.

Genomania also drew its psychic sustenance more directly from a key component of 90s neoliberalism: its unrestrained technophilia. For the 1990s was also the brief era of dot-com capitalism, with its unabashed faith in the power of the cybernetic code. At its apogee, the new, wired economy was imagined in ways that blurred the difference between nature and culture. Cybernetic inventions were said to express the principles of natural selection—indeed, the wired economy in toto was said to be a “rainforest”: Too complex for anyone to control, it would supposedly provide a “habitat” within which a variety of forms might happily evolve. The title of Michael Rothschild’s book—Bionomics: The Inevitability of Capitalism—says a great deal about the period, its penchant for wishful thinking and ideological whimsy, the attribution of what we most desire or dread to nature, imagined in high tech terms.10 The recurring hero of such narratives was the plucky little gene, who strives to better his lot in a hostile, high-tech world.

The Human Genome Project traded in dot-com stocks from the beginning, working for many years off the assumption that virtually every imaginable trait expresses a gene or a variation thereof, thereby encouraging the circulation of key terms from the cybernetic revolution. The “human genome” was said to be a “program,” a “code,” a “set of instructions,” or a “hereditary script”; the term “design” was taken less as metaphor than as description; certain tendencies or practices were said to be “hardwired” into the human organism, and so on. Thus, the most expensive science project in human history both tapped and reinforced the perspective dubbed “Digital Darwinism” by its critics.

In reducing all of life to a text, code, or set of instructions, Digital Darwinism makes for remarkably bad science. As Richard Lewontin shows in The Triple Helix, “any computer that did as poor a job of computation as an organism does from its genetic ‘program’ would be immediately thrown in the trash and its manufacturer would be sued by the purchaser.”11 But it made for remarkably good PR, and the Human Genome Project—which was every bit as much about PR as about science—created extraordinarily fertile conditions for the growth of bioreductivism at the fin de siecle. The idea that science was on the verge of “learning the language in which God created life,” as Bill Clinton put it at an official White House ceremony,12 combined with the unwarranted impression that a host of life-saving gene therapies were but five to ten years away, stoked ever-rising expectations, fostered magical thinking on many fronts, and resulted in an air of almost messianic longing.

Biotechnology companies aggressively marketed this millenarian vision, whipping up interest in science, especially genetics, among journalists, politicians, investors, and the public at large—thereby kiting their stocks and feeding revenues. Eager to stay abreast of the latest developments in high-profit, high-impact sectors like cybernetics and biotechnology, newspapers created new science supplements to capture breaking news. Editors wanted breathless stories about ever-grander discoveries; they certainly didn’t want stories about theories that didn’t pan out or the limits of genetic research. The net effect of all these trends was the development of ever-more PR-savvy “science” (I enclose the word in quotation marks because there was nothing very rigorous or scientific about much of what was passed along for public consumption) and a relaxation of standards of reportage. Combine this repositioning of popular science in public venues with social anxieties about ongoing institutional transformations, and you have the basic recipe for a suspension of reasoned incredulity and unprecedented trashing of the public sphere.

Genomania After the Bust

Here, as elsewhere, I have cast much of my discussion in the past tense, giving genomania a definite decade: the 1990s. On Sunday, February 11, 2001, the genomic speculative bubble finally burst, at least for anyone prepared to contemplate the proposition logically, when The New York Times front-page headline read: “Genome Analysis Shows Humans Survive on Low Number of Genes.” Science reporter Nicholas Wade—who only months before had touted genomania in no uncertain terms—previewed forthcoming reports in the journals Nature and Science. Researchers at Celera Genomics and at the international public consortium working on the Human Genome Project, he writes, have found “that there are far fewer human genes than [previously] thought—probably a mere 30,000 or so—only a third more than those in the roundworm” (and only a little more than double those of the fruit fly). Previous widely-circulated estimates of the number of genes in the human genome had run as high as the perplexingly precise figure of 142,634. (Subsequent studies have further slashed these early estimates to 20,000—25,000.13)

The logical implications of this finding, there for anyone to see, were widely noted by scientists (including scientists working on the Human Genome Project) and journalists over the following week. If it is granted that human beings are considerably more than one-third times more complex than roundworms, the additional complexity could not owe to genetic causes. More specifically, if humans not only “survive” but flourish on a mere 20,000—25,000 genes, then an entire chain of reductive causal arguments collapses: first, the idea that each gene is responsible for making its own unique protein, second, the derived idea that there is a one-to-one correspondence between “gene” and “trait,” and finally, the notion that the genome could ever give, in micro, a “blueprint” for the organism as a whole. And if 20,000—25,000 genes seems too few to explain the biological uniqueness of the individual human organism, such a number might seem all the more unconvincing when offered in reductivist accountings for psychological tendencies, social actions, and cultural forms.

But not so fast. Genetic reductionism was never really about science; it was about ideology. Its main social effect has been not to convey up-to-date genetic information to the public but to keep serious scientific discussions out of public venues. And since genomania ultimately has no real product to push, no scientific application to sell, and admits no tests that might falsify its core premise of a closed and predetermined human nature, the inflated fortunes of genetic reductionism might well prove more resilient than that other ideologically-driven windfall of the ’90s: the paper fortunes amassed on the dot-com dominated NASDAQ stock exchange.

In fact, the “thrill-seeking gene” is still with us, as is the “gay gene”: they routinely show up in serious and non-serious venues, in newspaper articles, magazine pieces, and everyday conversation. Behavioral geneticists seem undaunted by the collapse of extravagant claims. And just ask anyone who reads The New York Times, Time, or Newsweek what science is good for, and chances are they’ll tell you: It helps us understand the evolution of human nature, the genetic basis for human actions and social identities. If recent publications are any indication, positions among the bioreductivists are hardening—an index, one imagines, of ideological functions in the wake of September 11, which inaugurated another era of instability and uncertainty.

Thus, Stephen Pinker’s heavily-publicized book, The Blank Slate (which was given a lengthy, fawning spread in The New York Times science section) brandishes a revised list of “human universals” not much more sophisticated than those “fake universals” dismissed by Alfred Kroeber generations ago.14 Without adding any qualitatively new discoveries about human cultures—and by subtracting considerably from what is actually known about cultural variation—Pinker issues the standard charge that critics of bioreductivism are “in denial” about the brute facts of human nature. In step with the campaign to rewrite again the norms governing public discussions of “human nature,” science journalist Nicholas Wade writes as though the discovery that human beings have far fewer genes than previously suspected has actually simplified the task of reductive analysis. (Perhaps it does, since the question of “evidence” is almost completely out of the picture now.) He waves the banner of Science against those very scientists whose genetic studies convince them of the folly of genomania.15

There has been some backpedaling in a few quarters. At the peak of 90s genomania, Matt Ridley plumped a particularly vulgar form of bioredructivism, attributing a largely imaginary “human nature” to principles of sexual selection and deriving basic ethics from Darwinian principles.16 His recent book, Nature via Nurture, has none of that.17 It purports to give a new, synthetic view of how genes (undeniably) interact with the environment. But on closer inspection, and in virtually every instance, Ridley casts the relationship between nature and culture largely on biology’s terms. Culture, it would seem, is there to enhance, accelerate, impede, or otherwise modify what was in the genes already.

More bracing has been Dean Hamer’s descent into ever more profound depths of pseudoscientific quackery. His latest book caps off a recent string of assertions that we’re genetically “hardwired” to believe in God.18 One suspects that the new creationism, “Intelligent Design,” has made headway in the science curriculum in no small part because the new bioreductivism has already planted the idea of a telos in nature: in sloppy uses of the word “design,” in overblown language about the “code” of life, and in general in the idea that nature serves up moral lessons. Meanwhile, others conduct research on the power of prayer, attempting to establish the notion that prayer itself, and not the knowledge that one is being prayed for, enhances medical outcomes, thus giving new life to Adorno’s old refrain about mass beliefs that are “one part positivism, one part magic.”

“Race” is a Fiction, Racism is Real

Although ongoing discussions of “race” in scientific circles and in popular science have been far more muted than discussions of gender and sexuality, recent postings in The New York Times and elsewhere probe a longstanding trip-wire in public sphere discourses, spinning the discredited line that “race” is a viable genetic concept, and casting all exceptions to this claim as being politically (not scientifically) motivated.19 Arguments currently being aired thus sidestep the longstanding consensus among biological anthropologists that the five or six familiar geographic races do not usefully capture human phenotypic or genotypic variations.20 To make a long argument short: Biologists have had far better results using a technique called “multivariate analysis” to map the distribution of a species’ traits over a geographic territory.21 This technique has the advantage of recognizing an important—though often mysterious—feature of all systems of classification: There’s little that’s objective and much that’s arbitrary about the work of classification. The number and shape of geographical populations one identifies will thus depend on the criteria one employs in making distinctions. But even this technique, which produces dozens or scores of geographically-based “sub-groups” rather than five or six “sub-species,” scarcely seems applicable to human beings in the wake of ages of empire and migration.

Many of the current efforts by geneticists and journalists to rehabilitate long-discredited ideas have been notoriously imprecise, invoking average regional phenotypic variations (between, say, Scandinavians and Southern Italians) or ethnic variations in the propensity for certain diseases to support the validity of racial categories. Actually, regional or ethnic variations of this sort undermine the idea that broad typologies based on five or six racial categories are scientifically or medically useful. What they show, once again, is that phenotypic and genotypic variations are gradual, ingrading, and multi-dimensional.

Efforts to revivify race as a scientific concept have often been framed in terms of the supposed medical benefits a racialized genetics might have for African-Americans.22 But “genetic diseases” are not “racial” (or even “ethnic-regional”) diseases: they are genetic risks for diseases, which are sometimes unevenly distributed among various groups. Sickle cell anemia, for instance, disproportionately affects the descendants of populations who lived in Malarial zones. This means an elevated risk for Americans whose ancestors came from parts (not all) of sub-Saharan Africa; it also implies an elevated risk for Americans whose ancestors lived in some Southern Mediterranean areas. Can there, then, be special drugs for African-Americans (or whites), as a recent study has claimed?23 Undoubtedly, certain alleles are associated with responsiveness to certain drugs; and some of these alleles will be unevenly distributed amongst people of different ancestries. But this implies that drug treatments ought to be based on a person’s allele, not on his or her “race.” Using “race” as a substitute for “allele” in this case is tantamount to malpractice. Now, as over the past fifty years, a proper understanding of the relationships between populations, genetics, and heritability turns any practical or scientifically informed conversation away from conceptions of “race” and toward far more nuanced understandings of physical variation.

More to the point: The elevated health risks (heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes) that are typically invoked in these discussions are, in America, diseases of poverty with known environmental causes. Loose talk about genetic factors—or worse yet, racial genetic factors—thus serves to steer public conversation away from topics like social stratification and the actuarial consequences of unequal access to basic health care. But that’s where this long train of developments began: with unsystematic and ultimately unscientific talk about how genes guide such complicated cultural matters as risk-taking, sexual desire, family structures, and more. Genetic racialism is but the last in trail of a sorry lot. In all cases, genomania gives a picture-perfect snapshot not of science but of ideology—which is to say: It effects the conflation of social acts with natural facts.

Whither Reductivism?

Such conflations are consequential. They steer private investments and public funding. They affect policy. They imbue folkloric common sense (much of it derived from the failed science of past centuries) with the prestige of settled science. They anchor a worldview that disallows, on principle, precisely what this moment of war and crisis calls for: an expansive social imagination; a serious analysis of how race, class, gender, and sexuality are articulated in a changing political economy; a clear-headed look at late neoliberal trends toward the consolidation of empire and the hardening of an authoritarian, irrational culture.

It scarcely seems premature to mark the ominous possibilities prepared by this growing empire of bad science and pseudo-science. Today, new bioreductivisms vie for space in a deteriorating public sphere with assorted variants of scientific racialism, creationism, prayer-power mysticism, faith-based science, puritanical self-improvement schemes, and repressed memories sex panics. The twin specters of eugenics and social purity haunt a great many of these fevered imaginings. Although bioreductivism’s relationship to these other growing forms of irrationalism remains unsettled, new variants and hybrids could emerge from the detritus of American culture.

Current attempts to geneticize “race” seem especially inauspicious. To put matters as starkly as possible: Conditions comparable to these have not existed since the defeat of Nazism resulted in a wholesale discrediting of eugenics and scientific racialism at the end of World War Two. The scope of bioreductivism and the scale of pseudoscience could expand again, exponentially, under different conditions, to new ends, in the near future.


Some passages in this article appear, in various contexts, in The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture and in “The Place of Anthropology in a Public Culture Reshaped by Bioreductivism.” A longer more fully developed version is in press as Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. Thanks to colleagues and students in various forums for helpful feedback and encouragement. Special thanks to all the usual suspects, for good conversation and good ideas: Denise Albanese, Samuel Colón, the late Dwight Conquergood, Marcial Godoy, Micaela di Leonardo, Bill Leap, Jonathan Marks, Jeff Maskovsky, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Paul Smith, Daniele Struppa, and Brett Williams.


1 Gina Kolata, “Is a Gene Making You Read This?” The New York Times, 7 January 1996.

2 Karl Greenfeld, “Life on the Edge,” Time (6 September 1999): 154(10). Natalie Angier, “Maybe It’s Not a Gene Behind a Person’s Thrill-Seeking Ways,” The New York Times, 1 November 1996.

3 Simon LeVay, “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men, Science 253 (1991): 1034–1037. J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry 48 (1991): 1089–1096. J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, “Are Some People Born Gay?” The New York Times, 17 December 1991. Dean Hamer, et al., “A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation,” Science 261 (1993): 321–327.

4 George Rice, et al., “Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28,” Science 284 (23 April 1999): 665–667. J. Michael Bailey, et al., “Genetic and Environmental Influences in Sexual Orientation and Its Correlates in an Australian Twin Sample,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 78(3)(March 2000): 524–536. William Byne, et al. “The Interstitial Nuclei of the Human Anterior Hypothalamus: An Investigation of Variation with Sex, Sexual Orientation, and HIV Status,” Hormones and Behavior 40 (2001): 86-82. Roger Lancaster, The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), pp. 268-271. Preliminary airings of contrary research, accompanied by misgivings about the “gay brain” and “gay gene” studies, appeared in print by the mid-1990s: see Elliot Marshall, “NIH’s ‘Gay Gene’ Study Questioned,” Science 268 (30 June 1995): 1841. Robert Finn, “Biological Determination of Sexuality Heating Up as a Research Field,” The Scientist 10(1)(8 January 1996): 13-16. Sciencescope, “No Misconduct in ‘Gay Gene’ Study,” Science 275 (28 February 1997):1251.

5 Ericka Goode, “Study Questions Gene Influence on Male Homosexuality,” The New York Times (23 April 1999).

6 Ruth Hubbard, “Genomania and Health,” American Scientist 83 (January/February 1995): 8-10. See also her essay on this web forum.

7 Micaela di Leonardo, Exotics at Home: Anthropologies, Others, American Modernity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 358.

8 Richard Lewontin, Stephen Rose, and Leon Kamin, Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature (New York: Pantheon, 1984), p. 251. See also Lewontin's essay on this web forum.

9 Lancaster, Trouble, pp. 317-321.

10 Michael Rothschild, Bionomics: The Inevitability of Capitalism (New York: Armonk, 1992).

11 Richard Lewontin, The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 17.

12 Nicholas Wade, “Genetic Code of Human Life is Cracked by Scientists,” The New York Times, 27 June 2000.

13 International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, “Finishing the Euchromatic Sequence of the Human Genome,” Nature 431 (21 October 2004): 931-945.

14 Stephen Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Viking Penguin, 2002). Nicholas Wade, “Scientist at Work: Stephen Pinker; In Nature vs. Nurture, a Voice for Nature,” The New York Times (Science Desk), 17 September 2002. Alfred Kroeber, Anthropology (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948 [1923]), pp. 311-12. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (New York: Basic, 1973), pp. 39-40.

15 Nicholas Wade, “The Other Secrets of the Genome: The Story of Us,” The New York Times (Week in Review), 18 February 2001.

16 Matt Ridley, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (New York: Macmillan, 1993). Matt Ridley, The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (New York: Penguin, 1996).

17 Matt Ridley, Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and What Makes Us Human (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).

18 Dean Hamer, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into Our Genes (New York: Doubleday, 2004). Matthew Alper, The “God” Part of the Brain (New York: Rogue Press, 2001). Andrew Newberg, M.D., et al., Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (New York: Ballantine, 2001).

19 If scientific racialism now enjoys respectability in the serious public sphere, this development owes much to the labors of a single New York Times science reporter, Nicholas Wade. His articles touting “race” as a valid scientific concept began almost immediately after the collapse of the Human Genome Project’s inflated expectations. See Nicholas Wade “For Genome Mappers, the Tricky Terrain of Race Requires Some Careful Navigating,” The New York Times (National), 20 July 2001; “Race Is Seen as Real Guide to Track Roots of Disease,” The New York Times (Science Times), 30 July 2002; “For Sale: A DNA Test to Measure Racial Mix,” The New York Times (Science Times), 1 October 2002; “Gene Study Identifies 5 Main Human Populations, Linking Them to Geography,” The New York Times (National), 20 December 2002; “The Palette of Humankind,” The New York Times (Science Times), 24 December 2002; and “Two Scholarly Articles Diverge on Role of Race in Medicine,” The New York Times (National Desk), 20 March 2003. Admittedly, Wade’s most recent articles on race have been more nuanced than the earlier ones: They give space to prominent critics of the idea that race is a sound genetic concept. See Nicholas Wade, “Articles Highlight Different Views on Genetic Basis of Race,” The New York Times (National), 27 October 2004; and “Race-Based Medicine Continued...,” The New York Times (Week in Review), 14 November 2004). But this comes too late to substantially alter the shift in climate the reporter helped to perpetuate.

20 See American Anthropological Association [1998] Statement on “Race,”

21 Stephen Gould, Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History (New York: Norton, 1977), pp. 231-236.

22 Betsy Hart, “Going PC May Be Hazardous to Your Health,” Chicago Sun-Times (Editorial), 15 April 2001. Nicholas Wade, “Race Is Seen as Real Guide to Track Roots of Disease,” New York Times (Science Times), 30 July 2002. Sally Satel, “I Am a Racially Profiling Doctor,” The New York Times Magazine (5 May 2002), p. 56. Armand Marie Leroi, “A Family Tree in Every Gene,” The New York Times (Op Ed), 14 March 2005.

23 Anne Taylor, et al. “Combination of Isosorbide Dinitrate and Hydralazine in Blacks with Heart Failure,” New England Journal of Medicine 351 (20) (11 Nov 2004): 2049-2057.