I will probably be doing another podcast with James Miller soon. Suggestions are welcome. I’m considering reviewing more dreadful yet influential books and/or articles: readers have already suggested some, such as Jonathan Marks’ new book, and that article about twin studies in Slate. I would, I think, include books that are seriously wrong but not utter dreck. The candidates should include books that are not brand-new – I could diss The Republic, for example.
Name a book.

I will run gofundme or similar appeals for these efforts: I gotsta get paid.

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104 Responses to Topics

  1. I’d like you to review one of my favorite recent (from 2015) books, The Secret of our Success by Joseph Heinrich. So this wouldn’t be a snark review, but rather a book I think deserving serious thought.

    Main thesis is gene-culture evolution made us human. In pithy form: human see, human do is what made us what we are. We learn my imitation. That is a skill and instinct monkeys do not have. So we got good at imitating, and this led to cultural learning, which led to brains finely honed to copy/imitate/support the tribe. Language came later once this evolved.

    If you haven’t seen it, this interview with Tyler Cowen covers the basics
    View at

    From that interview, I think this section in particular about his next work should be interesting.


    HENRICH: In my latest project I’m really looking at the kind of spread of the Western church into Europe and how it transformed the social structure in ways that I think led to individualism, it led to a different kind of cultural psychology that would eventually pave the way for secular institutions and economic growth. The church is the first mover in that account.
    COWEN: What did the British and Dutch arguably have that, say, other parts of Europe or for that matter China might not have had as much of?
    HENRICH: When the church first began to spread its marriage-and-family program where it would dissolve all these complex kinship groups, it altered marriage. So it ended polygyny, it ended cousin marriage, which stopped the kind of . . . forced people to marry further away, which would build contacts between larger groups. That actually starts in 600 in Kent, Anglo-Saxon Kent.

    • Lee Wang says:

      These ideas were all thought up by HBDchick It is not only the main idea of Outbreeding = WEIRD but IIRC he even refers to smaller details like obscure 5th century church councils and Sint Augustinus writing on consanguinity. I am loath to call somebody a fraud without having read his book but I find it extremely troubling.
      Hopefully somebody who has read it can reassure me.

      • Yudi says:

        The Secret of Our Success has little to say about outbreeding. I think he plans to discuss it and monogamy in a new book. The Secret of Our Success is a great book and I encourage anyone to read it.

  2. Thursday says:

    Jonathan Marks would be a good choice.

    Problem is that the most books opposed to race and sex realism tend not to be scientific, but philosophical. I suppose it might be fun have Cochran read Sarah Salih’s summary of Judith Butler, but I’m not sure what would be the point. So, we’re kind of left with the likes of Richard Nisbett, Cordelia Fine’s other book, the stereotype threat people, talent deniers people like Geoff Colvin, Daniel Coyle or David Shenk, Carol Dweck. It’s not God’s plenty. I suppose there are people like Geoffrey Miller or James Flynn who Cochran disagrees with, but are still worthwhile researchers.

    BTW, Jordan Peterson from UofT does a fine job demolishing some flimsy psych constructs here in this video from his Personality class:

  3. Greying Wanderer says:

    neanderthals and metabolism

  4. Jason says:

    The topics raised in this post regarding your views on E.O. Wilson and group selection would be interesting:

  5. In Tyler Cowen’s new book he predicts a great future for Africa and its expats in coming years . I would love to see you challenge him to a bet on that, similar to your post Turok of the North. He’s pretty excited by black crime matters, burn I think the recent howling is actually a prelude to an admission the dream of equality is dead. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter (Charles Murray predicted there are at most 5 more years of prog blank slate plausible deniability before genetics reinforces stereotypes that have now existed for thousands of years) though James will probably run screaming from the topic.

    • magusjanus says:

      Murray is naive. If people can be socially forced into ignoring their own eyes and experiences and common sense, they can trivially be forced to ignore genetic evidence. Heck they’ve ignore decades of twin studies and psychometrics.

      • JayMan says:

        Well there’s the fact that twin studies produce results even the genetically aware refuse to accept: that rearing environment has no impact on intelligence or behavioral traits. People have no trouble ignoring that, though admittedly it is counter-intuitive.

        • RCB says:

          “rearing environment has no impact on intelligence or behavioral traits.”
          Let’s try to be precise, please. I believe what you’re trying to say is that “on the whole, variance in shared environment contributes very little to the total variance of cognitive or behavioral traits.” Which is true.
          But “has no impact on” doesn’t mean that to most readers.
          Someone might interpret “no impact” to mean “no study has ever shown that variance in shared environment contributes to the total variance of a behavioral trait”, which would be wrong.
          Worse, someone might take it to mean “there is nothing you can do to affect the intelligence of your children”. Also wrong.

    • Give James a break, he has kids and is employed by a university!

  6. Diana Fleischman has an almost assuredly wrong explanation for homosexuality

    If you did a review it’d be interesting but if you debate with her it’d be downright popcorn worthy. She’s fun, check out her Twitter. Will heckle you with more if I think of anything.

  7. jd016 says:

    British science journalist didn’t like your latest review and called you racist here ( but deleted the tweet. She has a book coming out.

  8. Maciano says:

    Clearly you can get way more 500$. I wanted to donate, but target had already been reached. You could ask 2000$, easy.

    I’d really like to hear more about your views on eugenics. I think open border policies have made genetic engineering inevitable for the West if it wants to continue as a world political force. Will we overcome our current cultural antipathy? (New eugenics does not need to be authoritarian.)

    • Yudi says:

      As Cochran has written elsewhere, the West’s own dysgenic trends have made the need for eugenics urgent. Ironically, this might curb some of the mouthfoaming about racism, if the usual suspects can be convinced that everyone’s getting dumber.

      • albatross says:

        Genetic modification of kids probably won’t look so much like eugenics. I expect it will be taken up first by the most ambitious and smartest people, whose kids will be smarter and healthier, and that it will take a long time (if ever) before the lower class/working class is doing much of it. We could easily get a weird bimodal distribution of intelligence (and a bunch of other stuff)–a big underclass of people who can just about learn to read and do basic arithmetic, and a small overclass of people who teach themselves calculus by watching the Khan Academy videos when they’re twelve. They probably won’t have anything in common, and you could imagine some really ugly social dynamics between them. Like the dumb jocks vs the nerds, but times a thousand, and where the nerds really can build death rays or something as a final solution to the dumb jock problem.

    • Darin says:

      Yup. We are in the 109th year of Our Ford, and we still rely on primitive hand craft methods to produce the new generations. It is about time to get the assembly line up and running. Greg Cochran for World Controller!

  9. adamthefirst says:

    How about ‘The Races of Europe’ by Carleton S. Coon? I read again a while ago and a lot of its conclusions really go hand in hand with a lot of these new populations genetics studies.

    • Yudi says:

      In line with this should be People and Races by Alice Brues, which contains the single best definition of race I’ve ever seen. It was The 10,000 Year Explosion of the 1970s. Nor is there a hint of prejudice anywhere in it, dispelling the myth that it’s impossible to believe in the reality of race without being Evil.

  10. Yudi says:

    I’m curious what you have to say about Eric Turkheimer and his findings of lower heritability in poor populations, as well as his position that the black/white achievement gap is environmental.

  11. RJW says:

    I would like to hear about chronic infections and your work with Ewald.

  12. MawBTS says:

    More conspiracy theories: yours are of a very high quality. Maybe James Miller has some to share also.

    • magusjanus says:

      high quality cuz they’re probably true. USS Liberty. Vela. Tularemia.

      Though I personally prefer the more batsht crazy ones, and hope to hear more about the Alexander the Great clone vs. Genghis clone battle of the future 😀

    • I’d like to hear Greg’s thoughts on whether the Liberty, and similar topics of pertinence to our relationship to our Greatest Ally (settlements, etc), will find a surprise address during the current administration.

      • engleberg says:

        Too bad McGonagle is dead- I’d have liked to see him ambassador to Israel supervising the move of the embassy to Jerusalem. Not because I believe conspiracy theories about the attack, but because I don’t. It’s a big bad world where bad things happen and competent people are useful. Same reason Israel sent the IDF pilot who led the attack to NASA.

        • gcochran9 says:

          What’s to believe? Plenty of people saw the intercepted attack orders. Here.

          • engleberg says:

            Right, no magic conspiracy, IDF shot up a reconnaissance ship watching their war and blew smoke to keep getting aid.

            • gcochran9 says:

              They were ordered to kill everyone on the ship and almost managed it. Why would they want to sink an American recon ship? No reason, except to make it look as if someone else did it.

              The smoke-blowing didn’t work, nor was it necessary: almost all the top guys in Washington believed it was deliberate, except possibly McNamara. Johnson decided to let the Israelis get away with it, and that was that.

              The Israelis didn’t ‘keep getting aid’, because we didn’t give them any significant amount of aid in 1967. That began in 1969, under Nixon.

              • engleberg says:

                ‘No reason, except to make it look as if someone else did it.’

                I’d think the reason was orthodoxy-sniffing inside the IDF. All the goyim are out to get us, every Israeli knows it, are you a GOOD Israeli? Sniff, sniff. Bomb this American spy ship or you are no good! That’s a really stupid reason, but normal in war. If they’d done it just to frame someone else, why aren’t there records of, say, radio signals purporting to be Egyptian or Russian?

                Nixon sure wildly expanded aid and made it official, but there was always a lot of help from the US to Israel. Israelis who thought the US was on Israel’s side would be targets for orthodoxy-sniffing.

              • gcochran9 says:

                “normal in war” Hardly. Skating on the edge of insanity, more like it. If the US military had been allowed to react normally, Israel would have been stomped for the Liberty attack.

                There were substantial private donations to Israel from US citizens, but as for governmental aid, very little until 1969. The Israelis were at first sorta-kinda aligned with the East Bloc (weapons from Czechoslovakia in 1948), then were tight with France (Mirage jets, nuclear collaboration).

  13. magusjanus says:

    The biggest bang for the buck is something that will get attention. Heck we got Deirdre McCloskey to comment here when you eviscerated her/him! Maybe Acemoglu, or Thomas Friedman, Jeffrey Sachs, or heck even Gladwell could be fun to stir some attention. Then we bombard said person with critique via email/twitter/amazon, and hope to get a reaction.


  14. V says:


    “Scientists Seek to Update Evolution: Recent discoveries have led some researchers to argue that the modern evolutionary synthesis needs to be amended.” (Carl Zimmer, 2016)

    “Twin studies are pretty much useless” (Brian Palmer, 2011)

    “Sex redefined: The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.” (Claire Ainsworth, 2015)

    “g, a Statistical Myth” (Cosma Shalizi, 2007)

    “The Domestication of the Savage Mind” (Cosma Shalizi, 2009)

    “The Tide of Opinion on Group Selection has Turned” (David Sloan Wilson, 2015)

    “The extended evolutionary synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions” (Laland et al., 2015)

    “The IQ Conundrum” (Cato Institue, 2007)


    Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count (Richard E. Nisbett, 2010)

    Brain Storm: The Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences (Rebecca M. Jordan-Young, 2011)

    Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (Anne Fausto-Sterling, 2000)

    Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference (Cordelia Fine, 2010)

    Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths about Human Nature (Agustín Fuentes, 2012)

    Why I Am Not a Scientist: Anthropology and Modern Knowledge (Jonathan Marks, 2009)

    What it Means to be 98% Chimpanzee: Apes, People, and their Genes (Jonathan Marks, 2003)

    The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea (Robert Wald Sussman, 2016)

  15. Mike K says:

    How about “The Man Who Would Be Queen” by Michael Bailey?

  16. Jason says:

    Plato’s Republic? How much?

  17. Asher says:

    Sartre’s Being and Nothingness

  18. valiance says:
    “Implicit in this exchange is a request for me to develop an attractive, semi-coherent ideology that sells itself and doesn’t automatically lead to cutting the balls off of Western Civilization.

    I. Why do I have to do everything?

    II. Show me the money!”

    I’d like to hear more about said ideology.

  19. Schrodinger says:

    Joseph Henrich – the secret of our success
    Daren Acemoglu- Why Nations fail

    And of course your views on Donald.

    • Schrodinger says:

      Almost forgot:

      • The problems with people who consider themselves experts: 1) In some fields (e.g. sociology) they are wrong much more often than right; 2) expert predictions are notoriously bad about politics and economics. See Philip Tetlock’s books on the accuracy of credentialed experts.

  20. randombraziliandude says:

    So, anyone can give me a good book recommendations on what sets high achivers apart from the rest and hbd in general.

  21. adamthefirst says:

    How about ‘Intellectuals and Race’ by Thomas Sowell? He basically debunked the Black-White IQ Gap.

  22. Two books that are not dreadful or utter dreck, but have been pretty influential, and might merit review:
    Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond
    The Great Divergence, by Kenneth Pomeranz

  23. Greying Wanderer says:

    thoughts on great filter

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      Haidt’s thing on Cons vs Libs in context of

      rC < rB

      is almost like Cons focus on the r part and Libs on the C/B part

  24. AnonC says:

    I’d like to know if you have an opinion about the common predictions of mass unemployment caused by automation in the next, say, 30 years.

  25. Julian says:

    In addition to Guns, Germs & Steel, ‘Why Nations Fail’ would be an interesting one to review.

    “”Ranging from imperial Rome to modern Botswana, this book will change the way people think about the wealth and poverty of nations…as ambitious as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel.”
    —Bloomberg BusinessWeek”

  26. Asher says:

    All joking aside i absolutely second the Nichols book

  27. Mike Byrne says:

    Blood of the Celts. New book by Jean Manco.

  28. Cantman says:

    I would like to see Cochran tackle the New Testament.

  29. M says:

    I was about to suggest EO Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth”, but seems like Dawkins already did a job on that one:

    But how about the original EO Wilson, Martin Nowak and Corina Tarnita paper in Nature? Wilson says in his reply to Dawkins (also in the above link) that nobody has been able to refute the math supporting their argument. If that’s really true, perhaps Cochran would like to have a go.

  30. Yudi says:

    I’d be very interested in seeing Greg discuss a brand new book called The Genome Factor by Dalton Conley and Jason Fletcher. It’s a description of the importance of heritability for the social sciences, the quest to find the genes causing population variations, and an attempt to update and test The Bell Curve’s ideas. The book has a lot of potential, but it’s not perfect (wrong ideas about the meaning of African genetic diversity, for example). Still, I think it represents a major step in the right direction, after all this time in which people have tried to deny or ignore this stuff in the public realm.

  31. Maybe covering the mental illnesses that are straightforward ‘errors’ vs, those that are just the edges of a normal bell curve vs. those caused by developmental insults (infection or severe beatings).

    So obvious single-gene de novo mutations vs. psycopathy and hypomania vs. narcolepsy.

    You’ve touched on this in a bunch of posts and it’s pretty fascinating stuff.

    Tyler Cowen style underrated/overrated:

    underrated/overrated disease threats, underrated/overrated health behaviors, underrated/overrated policy changes.

    In the disease vein: some heuristics for guessing if a given disease is ultimately caused by a microorganism. You’ve touched on this before but haven’t gone super into depth– it’s a fun topic.

  32. V says:

    Steven Pinker and H. Allen Orr go at it over evo psy:

    Orr mentions that Gould “thoroughly dismantled” Pinker in an exchange over Gould and Lewontin’s spandrels argument. That exchange is here:

  33. V says:

    Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature (R.C. Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon J. Kamin; 1984)

  34. RCB says:

    Lots of folks have mentioned Henrich. Henrich’s stuff mostly follows in the “cultural evolution” school that Rob Boyd and Pete Richerson largely pioneered in anthropology (Henrich was student of Rob Boyd). Rob and Pete wrote a math heavy book in 1985, which consequently had no impact on anthropology. 20 years later they wised up and wrote a book called “Not By Genes Alone” with no equations in it. The title makes it sound like a refutation of genetic determinism, but it’s not really that. Loosely, the idea is that humans, more than any other animal, rely on social learning (aka cultural inheritance) to acquire many behaviors. Dawkins’ memes, basically. But whereas Dawkins mostly stopped there, they attempted to develop a mathematically rich theory of how genetic evolution affects cultural evolution, and vice versa, using all the same machinery as traditional pop gen. One controversial sub-topic is cultural group selection: that whereas large scale group selection usually doesn’t work on genetic variation, the different rules of cultural inheritance makes it more plausible for cultural variation.

    This is probably all too esoteric to discuss with James, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the topic eventually.

  35. NobodyExpectsThe... says:

    On the conspiracy theory side for the podcast;

    Patton murdered? And is so, likely culprits?

  36. j says:

    Topic: The apparent paradox of American Ashkenazim’s much higher average IQ than Israeli Ashkenazim. I think it is because of widespread Perchlorate contamination of the aquifers and consequent deficient Iodine uptake. In general, Israeli low IQ (87?) is curious in itself. Could it be explained by Iodine deficiency?

  37. RCB says:

    Another one: my impression is that you don’t think particularly highly of libertarians. I think discussing that with James would be relevant – if I’m right.

  38. V says:

    Henry Harpending’s profile in The Southern Poverty Law Center:

  39. Temples and Ashes says:

    I’d love to hear your thoughts on religion–why/how it developed, what purposes it serves, and anything you’d be willing to share about your personal religious beliefs.

    And I’ve been a monthly donor to you through PayPal for a while (you can confirm by checking the email I posted this comment with), so should have racked up enough money with you already to pay for this!

    Thanks for all the interesting stuff you write.

  40. Anonymous says:


  41. Pale Primate says:

    Ever thought of doing youtube videos on different topics? I know there is that one talk you gave up on youtube, but I am talking about having your own channel.

  42. jc says:

    I’d like to hear you discuss lee kuan yew, the crazy things you think bill gates believes in

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