Imagine a group of people that deeply believe in the Great Pumpkin. So much so, they have not only developed a religion and culture around it, everything that defines them is based in the existence of the Great Pumpkin. Their culture and social structures would collapse if they discovered the Great Pumpkin was myth. The news is full of examples of people who would die for their religion so this should not be a terribly difficult thought experiment.
Now, flip around the other way. Imagine a group of people that have based everything about their existence on the belief that the Great Pumpkin does not exist. Unlike atheists, these people have actually managed to build a viable culture and institutions around the absolute faith in the Great Pumpkin being a myth. Everything they are is based on it. Tolerance for any Great Pumpkin-ism is impossible because it is essentially a denial of their essence.
Now, let’s assume these people know of one another and are within travel distance of one another. The former group, let’s call them the Positives, are going to be hell bent on converting the latter group, that we’ll call the Negatives. On the other hand, the Negatives are not interested in converting the Positives. The mere fact that these people are able to tolerate Great Pumpkin belief means they are capable of denying everything that makes up the very being of a Negative. Therefore, they want to destroy the Positives.
Now, replace the Great Pumpkin with race.
That’s where things stand in America when it comes to race. Most people accept that race is a real thing and different people come from different parts of the world. For most people, it is a casual awareness that does not animate their life beyond the fringes. By that I mean, they think about it when they see a sign for Martin Luther King Boulevard or a bunch of a Spanish guys hanging out on the corner. Others take it more seriously as an academic or intellectual pursuit, while others just like wearing white and burning crosses.
The other side of the fence we find the race deniers. Everything they believe, their sense of self and their world view, is based on race being a myth. The trouble is they are facing a mountain of scientific evidence that contradicts their belief. The mountain is not only growing, it is growing rapidly. Studies like this one seem benign to normal people, but they are a stake through the heart of a race denier.
Economists at the University’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) have looked at why certain countries top the world happiness rankings. In particular they have found the closer a nation is to the genetic makeup of Denmark, the happier that country is. The research could help to solve the puzzle of why a country like Denmark so regularly tops the world happiness rankings.
Dr Eugenio Proto and Professor Andrew Oswald, based in the Department of Economics, found three forms of evidence for a link between genetic makeup and a nation’s happiness.
Firstly they used data on 131 countries from a number of international surveys including the Gallup World Poll, World Value Survey and the European Quality of Life Surveys. The researchers linked cross-national data on genetic distance and well-being.
Dr Proto said: “The results were surprising, we found that the greater a nation’s genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported wellbeing of that nation. Our research adjusts for many other influences including Gross Domestic Product, culture, religion and the strength of the welfare state and geography.
The second form of evidence looked at existing research suggesting an association between mental wellbeing and a mutation of the gene that influences the reuptake of serotonin, which is believed to be linked to human mood.
Dr Proto added: “We looked at existing research which suggested that the long and short variants of this gene are correlated with different probabilities of clinical depression, although this link is still highly debated. The short version has been associated with higher scores on neuroticism and lower life satisfaction. Intriguingly, among the 30 nations included in the study, it is Denmark and the Netherlands that appear to have the lowest percentage of people with this short version.”
The final form of evidence looked at whether the link between genetics and happiness also held true across generations, continents and the Atlantic Ocean.
Professor Oswald said: “We used data on the reported wellbeing of Americans and then looked at which part of the world their ancestors had come from. The evidence revealed that there is an unexplained positive correlation between the happiness today of some nations and the observed happiness of Americans whose ancestors came from these nations, even after controlling for personal income and religion.”
For the race deniers, this is like seeing the Great Pumpkin walking down Main Street. This is not a correlation teased out of data one can dismiss. You have hard genetic science. More important, if a small localized population of humans in the heart of Europe can have some weird genetics that manifest in personality and culture, groups walled off from Europe my oceans and mountains are going to have even more unusual mutations.
The race deniers will be undone by the fact Denmark is full of Danes.