What I've Been Reading
By Bryan Caplan
2. La Perdida. Graphic novel about a (half)-Mexican American leftist poseur who moves to Mexico, meets actual Mexican Marxists, and discovers their true nature… the hard way. It’s also a nice illustration of adverse selection in love and friendship; the emotionally abusive and economically parasitic lead gradually alienates everyone she knows, except the people who are even more emotionally abusive and economically parasitic than she is.
3. Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius. This behavioral genetic classic shows that exceptional achievements run in families – in law, science, music, athletics, and much more. Contrary to my expectation, though, it makes only the feeblest efforts to distinguish nature and nurture. Galton’s one pertinent argument is that the biological nephews of childless Popes are much less distinguished than the biological sons of similarly accomplished men – even though Pope’s nephews and great men’s sons enjoy comparable nepotistic advantages.
4. Monster. This is an 18-volume graphic novel about a Japanese doctor living in Germany who tries to make sense of a mysterious series of murders. It all leads back to a pre-1989 East German plot… or does it? In the end, ten volumes would have sufficed, but I never wanted to stop.
5. The 10,000 Year Explosion. This book tries to sell a genocentric vision of human history in just 227 pages of actual text. Contrary to a lot of wishful thinking, human evolution has radically accelerated over time, and it’s easy to demonstrate that genes for traits like lactose tolerance and disease resistance had massive historical effects. But ultimately the book feels evasive. At several points, the authors seem like they’re about to reinvent Rushton‘s wheel (they never cite him), but stop short. Instead of trying to explain the achievement gaps between the world’s main peoples during the last two centuries, they retreat to the fascinating but tangential subject of the evolution of Jewish intelligence. It was hard to put this book down, but it felt rushed. The authors should have gathered stronger evidence, tackled harder cases, then put all their cards on the table.