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September 12, 2015 / JayMan

Henry Harpending: Extremist – Says the Southern Poverty Law Center

(This was also posted on the Unz Review, 8/27/15)
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) current “Featured Extremist” (their words) is none other than the mild-mannered Henry Harpending of West Hunter.

Extremist Info



They go into a fair amount of detail about Harpending and his work, but take a look at what they say. Are they actually trying to discredit him (emphasis mine)?

Henry Harpending is a controversial anthropologist at the University of Utah who studies human evolution and, in his words, “genetic diversity within and between human populations.” Harpending is most famous for his book, co-authored with frequent collaborator Gregory Cochran, The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, which argues that humans are evolving at an accelerating rate, and that this began when the ancestors of modern Europeans and Asians left Africa. Harpending believes that this accelerated evolution is most visible in differences between racial groups, which he claims are growing more distinct and different from one another. The evolution of these racial differences are, in Harpending’s account, the driving force behind all of modern human history.

You don’t say? I did:

He is also a eugenicist who believes that medieval Europeans intuitively adopted eugenic policies, and that we should recognize the importance of eugenics in our own society.

In His Own Words:

“The reason the Industrial Revolution happened in 1800, rather than the year one thousand, or zero, which it could have, the Romans certainly could have done it, is that a new kind of human evolved in northern Europe, and probably northern Asia. And that this led to the Industrial Revolution—this new kind of human was less violent, had an affinity for work. When you view your parents or grandparents, and you know that they’re retired, they could relax. But afterwards they can’t just sit on the couch and relax, they’ve got to go and get a shop and work on a cradle for their grandchildren… I’ve never seen anything like that in an African. I’ve never seen anyone with a hobby in Africa. They’re different.”
—“Preserving Western Civilization” conference, 2009

Yup (see National Prosperity).

“Group differences, as far as we know, are in the DNA. Nobody yet has found any credible environmental effect on IQ or academic achievement. And believe me, people have been frantically looking for one for sixty, seventy years. Nothing. If you look at the quantitative genetic analyses, they’ll talk about a contribution from genes, and a contribution from environment. What that contribution from environment is, is random error. It doesn’t matter who raised you, as long as they didn’t hit you on the head with a hammer. It doesn’t matter whether you have high or low self-esteem. Everything has been shown just not to be there.

(See The Son Becomes The Father and More Behavioral Genetic Facts.)

The gap between ethnic groups is not closing in this country. There have been announcements that it’s closing for at least the last twenty years, usually in the New York Times, it’s not there, there’s no difference. There’s no change. Nothing changes.”
—H.L. Mencken Club meeting, 2011

“Among Herero there is no such thing as an accident, there is no such thing as a natural death, witchcraft in some form is behind all of it. Did you have a gastrointestinal upset this morning? Clearly someone slipped some pink potion in the milk. … Our [African] employees were so adamant to show me the truth that they pooled their money so they could take me to the local witch doctor, who would turn me into a frog. ‘Of course he can do that, it is easy for them to do, even to white people’ they said. … A colleague pointed out a few weeks ago, after hearing this story, that if it is nearly pan-African then perhaps some of it came to the New World. Prominent and not so prominent talkers from the American Black population come out with similar theories of vague and invisible forces that are oppressing people, like ‘institutional racism’ and ‘white privilege’.”
—“My friend the witch doctor,” West Hunter blog

I will say that many (primarily poorer) Jamaicans are similar in that regard. See also bewitched | hbd chick

They continue (emphasis added):

According to Henry Harpending, innate racial differences are the defining element of human society. Harpending believes that all variation between racial and ethnic groups—including cultural differences, social and economic disparities, and achievement gaps—are the result of recent and ongoing human evolution. Harpending’s most thorough elaboration of these beliefs is found in his book, co-authored with Gregory Cochran, called The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution. Much of what Harpending and Cochran claim in The 10,000 Year Explosion builds on the work of economist Gregory Clark, who believes that the Industrial Revolution and British global dominance can best be explained evolutionarily.

According to Clark’s book A Farewell to Alms, which Harpending has described as “one of the greatest books in human biology,” most living Britons descend from the upper classes of the medieval period. Because the wealthy left approximately twice as many surviving children as did the poor, Clark argues that the traits that defined the wealthy were selected for, and became prevalent in British society. And, unsurprisingly, Clark argues that the wealthy achieved their wealth by virtue of superior qualities like peacefulness, diligence, and intelligence; these traits were thus bred into the genetic heritage of white Britons. This became what Harpending calls the evolution of a “new kind of human,” found only in populations of western European and East Asian descent.

Harpending takes Clark’s argument further. He believes that present-day hunter-gatherer societies prove that the “old kind” of human is “impulsive, violent, innumerate, illiterate, and lazy.” He insists that everyone knows this to be true about non-European, non-Asian populations, but that anthropologists aren’t allowed to say so because these are considered “hate facts.”

Wait, so they’re saying they’re not? What’s this page for then, exactly?

Instead, academics are forced to pretend “that these are really all charming, lovely people who are just the victims of capitalism.”

Harpending and Cochran are also co-authors of one of the most prominent “HBD” blogs, West Hunter. HBD, or “human biodiversity,” is the latest iteration of a long tradition of scientific racism. Proponents of HBD maintain a vocal online presence, and are at the forefront of efforts to mainstream white supremacist thought. West Hunter features a mixture of anthropology, HBD, and generic racist, far-right musings.

I guess they couldn’t take the “mega-aggressions” offered at West Hunter.

In other articles and book chapters, Harpending has made often bizarre claims about race, biology, and social structures. These include the idea that sociopathy and “hysteria” are adaptive traits in men and women respectively, as well as support for Jean-Philippe Rushton’s idea that a genetic “ethnic nepotism” explains racial solidarity and racism, and that “diversity decreases national cohesion and the ability of governments to make rational economic decisions”.

As readers here know, I have disagreed with Hapending’s and Rushton’s ideas of ethnic nepotism (since “Ethnic Genetic Interests” Do Not Exist). A key difference is that I went into great detail on why this is so. This SPLC piece is heavy on incredulity but light on specific counterarguments.

In one article, coauthored with Peter Frost, an HBD blogger and columnist with no current academic affiliation, Harpending proposed another explanation for why western Europeans were supposedly genetically predisposed to be less violent than other racial groups. In this article and in talks he has given to friendly, non-academic crowds, Harpending has argued that the introduction of the death penalty in medieval Europe contributed to the “genetic pacification” of the population through “the steady removal of individuals who were more genetically prone to personal violence.” He has even suggested that this took place because medieval Europeans invented institutions like governments, courts, and contracts,

Indeed, see here (also on the Unz Review): Western Europe, state formation, and genetic pacification).

which Harpending apparently believes had never existed anywhere before being introduced in 11th century England.

Actually, Peter Frost wrote a paper saying that a similar process may have occurred in the Roman Empire (Frost, Peter 2010, The Roman State and genetic pacification).

Possibly his strangest argument is that Amish populations in the United States experience evolutionary selection towards “Amishness,” which can be expressed in terms of an “Amish Quotient,” or “AQ.” According to Harpending, a high “Amish Quotient” translates to increases in “affinity for work, perseverance, low status competition, respect for authority, conscientiousness, and community orientation.”

See Inferring an AQ | West Hunter and Boiling Off | West Hunter. I cite this process to explain the conservatism and other characteristics of the Great Plains. See More Maps of the American Nations.

The model for “Amishness” is based on earlier work found in Harpending’s most controversial paper, coauthored with Cochran and Jason Hardy, “A Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.” The piece, in their own words, “elaborates the hypothesis that the unique demography and sociology of Ashkenazim in medieval Europe selected for intelligence.”

That it was.

In 2009, Harpending participated in a conference on “Preserving Western Civilization,” where he spoke alongside notorious racists like Peter Brimelow (president and chief contributor to the white nationalist and Jean-Philippe Rushton (president of the eugenicist Pioneer Fund from 2002 until his death in 2012).

Harpending’s talk at the conference was a full-throated defense of scientific racism. In it, he argued that anthropological analysis could identify and explain traits he claimed were shared by people from central Africa, Papua New Guinea, and Baltimore (his favorite metonym for the African-American community as a whole). These included violence, laziness, and a preference for “mating instead of parenting.” This is especially the case in Papua New Guinea, where, according to Harpending, “[w]hat these guys do is kill their neighbors. That’s their favorite activity—oh, they love it! They love it! It’s the high point of their lives. They get their DNA into the next generation by being killers, and violent. And if there’s evolution going on, that kind of society is selecting for unpredictable, violent males.”

These inherent traits mean that in societies where males are provided with necessities like food, whether from female farmers or from welfare checks, you find that “when there’s plenty of food, men do male stuff like putting on make-up, fighting, raiding, and telling stories. Male effort seems to be competitive effort, rather than parental effort.”

Reaffirming his belief in the fundamental similarities between Papuan gardening societies and African-American communities largely dependent on welfare, he later asked: “Where are these [traits] found? In post-industrial cities, among the underclass, you know, street corner males with fancy sneakers, looking good, combing their hair, males strutting around, macho. This is absolutely typical whether it’s highland New Guinea or Baltimore.” These traits were contrasted with those of Europeans and northern Asians who have evolved higher intelligence and “tend to be more disciplined than people who take life for granted.”


Harpending has also spoken several times at Paul Gottfried’s Baltimore-based H.L. Mencken Club, which hosts an annual meeting of prominent far-right thinkers and academic racists. In his 2011 talk at the Mencken Club, Harpending argued that money spent towards education is wasted, because variation in test scores is due entirely to the racial makeup of the test-taking populations. He claims that “Anglo” students in every state perform equally well on standardized tests regardless of education expenditures, and that black students are also comparable across state lines, thus the gap between white and black students’ scores is entirely genetic and has nothing to do with the educational environments. He does acknowledge that the data shows there have been gains in average scores of black students relative to white students, but insists that these are not “real.”

Education Realist might have a thing or two to say here.

Harpending also used his 2011 Mencken Club talk to promote eugenics. Hearkening back to his ideas of “genetic pacification,” Harpending claimed that “[w]hat happened in medieval Europe was brutal enforcement of laws. We didn’t go to the movie on Saturdays, we went to the public hanging. Criminals were treated without mercy.” He added that “this is eugenics. … [W]e killed off the violent folks, we replaced poor folks with the offspring of the prosperous… . Most of us are descended from exactly this process, another point being that the rest of the world isn’t like us.”

He goes on to claim that because the rest of the world has not enjoyed the centuries of eugenic policies that transformed Europeans into a “new kind of human,” non-European peoples are fundamentally incapable of adopting western, democratic norms. This, in Harpending’s view, is the only reason the war in Afghanistan failed to produce a stable, democratic government.

It concludes this way:

Harpending’s work provided a great deal of the foundation for Nicholas Wade’s controversial 2014 book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History. Wade relied entirely on the Harpending, Cochran, and Hardy paper on Ashkenazi intelligence for one chapter of his book, and much of the rest relied on Harpending’s gloss on Gregory Clark’s work. Notably, when around 140 prominent population geneticists wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times complaining that Wade’s book had radically misinterpreted their research, Harpending sneeringly dismissed this as “preening and posturing,” and a “pretentious pronouncement claiming that ‘they were genetics’ and that Wade was abusing ‘their’ knowledge.”

Anyone notice something? In their piece to discredit Harpending, they’ve selected quotes and claims that pretty much make the case for HBD, much like my earlier post (featuring “Misdreavus”) Why HBD. A novice reader coming to this SPLC piece would realize that there must be something to this HBD thing, presuming they were not deterred by the SPLC’s God-like decree that this topic matter is evil and hence verboten.

For the record, here’s the evil extremist, “White Nationalist” in action…

I have said that the case for HBD will soon become impossible to ignore. The Church can make only so many sanctions before more Galileos with their own telescopes see the real truth. As the wall of dogma collapses under its own weight, the powers on high will scramble to suppress the truth even more. Donald Trump and his recent success may be a sign that the Gatekeepers are failing in this aim (see time 13:00, courtesy The Audacious Epigone):

The problem is simple: try as you might to suppress them, facts about the world do not go away, and will continue to be discovered and re-discovered over time. Dogma can keep the truth shrouded for a while, but this is an ultimately limited process. The awful truth (see “Squid Ink“) becomes known.

The theme for this post, something to really capture the threat posed by the evil extremist Henry Harpending…


Leave a Comment
  1. evolutiontheorist / Sep 13 2015 2:52 AM

    Nothing like going after a guy while his health is down.

    Think they’ll be after you, next?

    • JayMan / Sep 16 2015 9:30 AM

      I’ll consider it a badge of honor if they do come after me.

    • evolutiontheorist / Sep 16 2015 12:18 PM

      Of course. But it might involve inconveniences.

  2. Anonymous / Sep 28 2015 10:07 PM

    “I’ve never seen anyone with a hobby in Africa.”

    Putting aside the validity of Harpending’s work and his other views, this is a nutty comment. Whether or not he was serious, it helps to not give people like the SPLC ammo (not to deny they won’t seize on anything) by saying idiotic things like this.

  3. Anonymous / Jun 7 2016 8:08 PM

    Hi Jayman,

    I’m an until-now silent follower of your blog, but just recently happened to stumble upon this particular post. You had this to say: “I have said that the case for HBD will soon become impossible to ignore. The Church can make only so many sanctions before more Galileos with their own telescopes see the real truth. As the wall of dogma collapses under its own weight, the powers on high will scramble to suppress the truth even more.”

    As an avid believer in HBD myself, I would love to believe this is true. However, right now I’m just not seeing it — at all. Rather, I’m just seeing political correctness just become a more and more powerful force. So my questions are, quite simply, when do you think things will start turning around, and what would have to happen to prompt this?


  4. John Engelman / Oct 23 2016 1:28 PM

    The 10,000 Year Explosion is one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. I wrote a book review for it that is on Amazon here:

    I wrote a review of Peter Frost’s essay “The Roman State and Genetic Pacification,” that can be found on American Renaissance here:

    Those who try to disprove the writing of Henry Harpending rely on appeals to emotion. They think they only need to quote him to anger their readers. Many of us who read his quotes find them convincing, and decide to read his books and essays.

    Race is not merely a social construct. It is an important biological classification. The different races differ significantly in average ability levels and behavior, although racial overlap in ability and behavior exists. These differences are the result of evolving in response to different population pressures that have lasted for thousands of years.

    In tribal societies all men fight in inter tribal warfare. The best warriors have more than one wife, and consequently more sons who inherit their violent inclinations and talents. In urban civilizations the military becomes an occupational specialty. Most men never participate in war. The men who are the most prolific are those who are the most intelligent, and consequently the most prosperous. Men with criminal inclinations are usually killed, or they die in custody. This is why races that have practiced civilization the longest have the highest IQ averages, and the lowest crime rates.

    Race realism is not a movement, but a scientific theory with political implications. The best introduction to race realism that I have read is “RACE, EVOLUTION AND BEHAVIOR,” by Professor J. Philippe Rushton.

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