This article is about the science journalist. For the psychologist and academic, seeNicholas J. Wade
Nicholas Wade (born 17 May 1942) is a British author and journalist.
His 2014 book A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History was widely denounced by the scientific community for misrepresenting research into human population genetics.
Wade immigrated to the United States in 1970.
Wade was a science writer and editor for the journals Nature, from 1967 to 1971, and Science, from 1972 to 1982. He joined The New York Times in 1982 and retired in 2012, but he freelances occasionally for his former employer. At the Times he served as an editorial writer covering science, environment and defence, and then as an editor of the science section.
His 1980 book, The Nobel Duel: Two Scientists' Twenty-one Year Race to Win the World's Most Coveted Research Prize, described the competition between Andrew Schally and Roger Guillemin, whose discoveries regarding the peptide hormone led to them sharing the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. According to the Washington Post Book World, it "may be the most unflattering description of scientists ever written." Betrayers of the Truth: Fraud and Deceit in the Halls of Science (1982), co-authored with William J. Broad, discusses historical and contemporary examples of scientific fraud.
In the 2000s, Wade's books began to focus on human evolution. He released Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors in 2006, which is about what Wade referred to as "two vanished periods" in human development, and The Faith Instinct in 2009, about the evolution of religious behavior.
In 2014, Wade released A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, in which he argued that human evolution has been "recent, copious, and regional" and that genes may have influenced a variety of behaviours that underpin differing forms of human society. The book has been widely denounced by scientists, including many of those upon whose work the book was based. On 8 August 2014, The New York Times Book Review published an open letter signed by 139 faculty members in population genetics and evolutionary biology. After publication, the letter was signed by 4 more faculty members. The letter read:
Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development. We reject Wade's implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not.
We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade's conjectures.
The book was further criticized in a series of five reviews by Agustín Fuentes, Jonathan M. Marks, Jennifer Raff, Charles C. Roseman and Laura R. Stein. which were published together in the scientific journal Human Biology. Marks, for instance, described the book as "entirely derivative, an argument made from selective citations, misrepresentations, and speculative pseudoscience." Other reviews were more moderate in their criticism, such as that of H. Allen Orr, who wrote in The New York Review of Books that "Wade's survey of human population genomics is lively and generally serviceable. It is not, however, without error. He exaggerates, for example, the percentage of the human genome that shows evidence of recent natural selection."
In May of 2021, Wade published an article which advanced the claim that COVID-19 originated from a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. This claim is at odds with the current scientific consensus that the virus most likely has a zoonotic origin.