Are Interracial People Healthier And More Attractive?
Receiving unsolicited manuscripts of
soon-to-be-published books in the mail can be a
forbidding event. Somebody has gone to the trouble of
sending me a big box full of hundreds of pages of
typescript because they value my reaction. But do I
really want to react?
my surprise and pleasure, however, the newly-released
Breeding Between the Lines: Why Interracial People are
Healthier and More Attractive by Alon Ziv turned
out to be a quick, lively, and witty read. (Here`s his
Even more to my delight, Ziv, whom I had never heard of
before, was clearly influenced by many of my
VDARE.COM articles on genetics and race.
Thus, it`s with some regret that I must say I`m
unconvinced by his thesis—that interracial marriage
boosts the offspring`s vitality and looks due to the
phenomenon known to animal breeders as "hybrid vigor".
But, while I can`t accompany Ziv all the way to his
conclusion, he`s an entertaining and informative guide
on an intellectual journey well worth taking.
(By the way, Ziv tells me he`s probably not related to
Sabbetai Zevi, whose
followers form much of the secular elite of
Turkey—much as he would enjoy being the descendant of a
Ziv points out, dog breeders can quickly create an
enormous variety of dog breeds by mating close relatives
possessing the desired traits. . The huge, web-footed
Newfoundland, for instance, has been bred to possess
both the instinct and the physical capabilities to save
people from drowning. The
German Shepherd is a wonderfully useful breed whose
history goes back to a single dog in 1899.
The tradeoff, however, is that German Shepherds are
prone to 132 different genetic disorders. Thus many dog
owners believe that mutts, on average, tend to be
healthier, smarter, and better-adjusted that expensive
purebreds (although they tend to lack their special
abilities—if you are drowning, you`d rather rely on a
purebred Newfoundland than on a mutt).
The technical reason for the better average health of
mutts: "hybrid vigor". The more closely related
you are to your mate, the more likely your offspring
will inherit two copies of deleterious recessive genes.
So marrying someone genetically distant from you can
improve the odds that your children won`t suffer from
this article, I`ll discuss the evidence concerning the
health consequences of interracial breeding. In an
upcoming essay on the sexier topic of attractiveness,
I`ll offer an alternative theory to account for the
widespread impression that
interracial people are better looking.
make his Politically Correct argument about the benefits
of interracial marriage, Ziv logically has to first make
the Politically Incorrect point that race exists. He
makes no attempt to finesse his way around this issue.
Instead, he follows my VDARE.com article of May 24,
Ink Cloud", in ridiculing the race deniers.
Ziv notes that the 1994 tome
The History and Geography of Human Genes by the
dean of population genetics, Stanford`s L. Luca
Cavalli-Sforza, and two coauthors
"is the bible of human diversity; except that I
think it may be longer than the actual Bible… But to see
how it fits into the doublethink of race science
politics, you don`t even need to open it. On the back
cover, Time magazine writes that it proves
`racial differences are only skin deep.` … The New
York Times refers to a more recent Cavalli-Sforza
book as `dismantling the idea of race.`"
Ziv goes on:
"To see how false these assertions are, one needs
only to flip over The History and Geography of Human
Genes and look at the front cover. All the research
in this weighty volume is distilled into one map… I
Steve Sailer … put it best when he wrote,
`Basically, all of [Cavalli-Sforza`s]
number-crunching has produced a map that looks about
like what you`d get if you gave
Strom Thurmond a paper napkin
and a box of crayons and had him draw a racial map
of the world.`"
(This image is hosted on Vdare.com
was more sympathetic with Ziv`s hybrid vigor theory in
the past. An essay of mine on
Tiger Woods from 2000, "
Caublinasians Genetically Superior?", provided a
bit of a preview of some of Ziv`s arguments. In it, I
"Still, a careful study of
biracial white-Japanese children in Hawaii did find
that their IQ`s were two points higher than those of
their monoracial peers of the same socio-economic
Since then, however, I just haven`t seen much more
evidence come along to back the hybrid vigor theory as
being terribly important in America.
There`s no question that inbreeding is a major problem
western half of the Muslim world (and among
Pakistani immigrants in Britain), where marriages
first cousins are considered the ideal
marital arrangement. In Iraq, for instance, about
half of all married couples are first or second cousins.
Arthur Jensen, the
leading researcher on intelligence, reports that,
besides increasing the likelihood of major birth
defects, inbreeding reduces "birth weight, height,
head circumference, chest girth, and resistance to
infectious diseases." IQ is lowered by a few points
Among Europeans, inbreeding tends to be found both in
the highest classes, among royalty, and at the highest
Italian ancestor of my wife`s was famous in his
in the Apennines as a true romantic because he wooed
and won a girl from the town 1,500 feet in elevation
down the mountainside. Most of the other local swains
couldn`t be bothered with the long trek back uphill and
therefore married village girls. Not surprisingly, the
villagers tended to be short and a little unhealthy,
until the generation after motorbus service first made
the outside world conveniently accessible.
Interracial marriage is the surest cure for inbreeding.
But it`s also close to overkill. Simply marrying
somebody of the same race but from the next valley will
eliminate most "inbreeding depression" in your
Americans have such a horror of inbreeding that there`s
less of it here than anywhere else on earth:
less than one percent of Americans in the
middle of the 20th Century were married to a first
or second cousin. Further, Americans have moved so many
times in settling this country that the less obvious
forms of inbreeding that occur when the same families
occupy the same village for centuries, a situation where
married couples might well be, say, fourth, fifth, and
sixth cousins to each other by
multiple genealogical paths, are rarer here than in
And there is a downside to intermarriage.
The obverse of hybrid vigor: the possibility that
combining genes which didn`t evolve to work together
might cause health problems due to incompatibilities.
For example, ace genetics reporter
Nicholas Wade wrote in the New York Times (
about a gene variant that is benign in whites and Asians
but more than triples the heart attack risk in
Stefansson [of Iceland`s
DeCode Genetics] said he believed that the more
active version of this gene might have risen to
prominence in Europeans and Asians because it conferred
extra protection against infectious disease.
"Along with the protection would have come a
higher risk of heart attack because plaques that build
up in the walls of the arteries could become inflamed
and rupture. But because the active version of the gene
started to be favored long ago, Europeans and Asians
have had time to develop genetic changes that offset the
extra risk of heart attack.
"The active version of the inflammatory gene
would have passed from Europeans into African-Americans
only a few generations ago, too short a time for
development of genes that protect against heart attack,
Dr. Stefansson suggested." [
Find Stirs Debate on Race-Based Medicine]
Like hybrid vigor, genetic incompatibilities across
racial lines unquestionably exist in some cases. So the
key empirical question is: what the net balance of the
two opposing forces?
Gregory Cochran told me that he and University of
Utah population geneticist
Henry Harpending once scanned the medical literature
to see if interracial mating increased human fertility
(due to hybrid vigor) or decreased it (due to genetic
incompatibilities). They concluded that whatever net
effect might exist was smaller than the statistical
margin of error in the studies.
More research needs to be done. But my best guess at
present is that interracial individuals typically turn
out to resemble the averages of their racial
backgrounds. Not supermen nor defectives—just average
the other hand, the variance of multiracial
people is no doubt higher. For example, two small
sisters live across the street from me who are half
Japanese and half
Irish. One little girl looks purely Japanese, yet
her sister doesn`t look East Asian at all. You`d
probably guess she`s Greek or Persian.
working hypothesis about attractiveness: multiracial
people tend to be no more and no less good looking than
the weighted average of their ancestors. But their
greater genetic variety leads many people to assume they
are more attractive on the whole.
will explain what I think are the reasons for this in an
upcoming VDARE.COM essay.
[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and