I'm reading Cochran and Harpending's new book. I hope to have something to say about its scientific content when I'm done. But this post is just about the penumbra of political implications around it. The book seems to carefully skirt most of the really controversial implications of its thesis. There is a chapter devoted to the evolution of the apparently superior intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews, but nothing on the inferior intelligence of other groups, which is what really gets people excited or exercised. This seems prudent. Cochran and Harpending may plan on letting their fellows in the "Human Biodiversity" community tease out the racial implications.
But if that's the case, why is Harpending appearing at a conference with a collection of hardcore racists and lunatics? Doesn't seem like wise public relations to me. Does he really want to ally himself with people like Lawrence Auster, who calls "Darwinism" "the biggest intellectual fraud in history" and displays an unhealthy obsession with Michelle Obama's looks? This is not the strategy of someone who wants their ideas taken seriously.
Just to be clear -- the truth of whatever scientific theories Cochran and Harpending are putting forward is independent of the author's politics, character, or associations. In theory. In practice, however, science is a human institution like any other and the fates of theories are tied to a multitude of social concerns besides their factuality or lack thereof. If C&H's theories are true, it would be a shame for them to be ignored because of their author's politics.
The converse possibility is that the truth of C&H's theories will be powerful enough to make socially unacceptable racism acceptable again. That seems unlikely, to put it mildly.
Oddly, a major theme of this conference appears to be the purported existential threat to Western Civilization posed by the Islam, while Harpending's co-author Cochran is on record as dismissing that idea as laughable hysteria.
Another amusing thing about this conference: the organizer and about a third of the presenters are Jewish, which is causing some difficulties among those racists who would otherwise be on board with a project like this. It's pretty tricky, this effort to promote civilization-scale asabiya.