Rule Five: Enthusiasm on the dance floor is a really bad idea at the office party. Reserve this behavior for your morning dressing routine or your cousin's wedding where you don't know anybody. At the office party, let geography be your guide. Where were your ancestors 400 years ago? If they lived south of the 30th parallel north, but west of 90 degrees east longitude, you may dance enthusiastically. Otherwise, keep shuffling with a smile. Do not flail. In your genome, wild dancing fits on a continuum that starts at "mid-life crisis" and ends at "seizure."
The geographic region Ms. Spenser describes is the one shown above. By invoking our ancestry of 400 years ago, she is letting the word “geography” serve as a proxy for the concept we now call “race”.
But Ms. Spencer exaggerates. It would be more accurate to say that the distribution of ability for graceful movement may vary slightly among “geographies”, and that Europeans are under-represented among graceful dancers. If she wants to bring genetics into the argument, she should note the obvious; that those humans gifted with the XX chromosome are over-represented among those with extraordinary grace in movement.
But don’t touch this topic if you work in academia. As one former local university president said:
My point was simply that the field of behavioral genetics had a revolution in the last fifteen years, and the principal thrust of that revolution was the discovery that a large number of things that people thought were due to socialization weren't, and were in fact due to more intrinsic human nature, and that set of discoveries, it seemed to me, ought to influence the way one thought about other areas where there was a perception of the importance of socialization. I wasn't at all trying to connect those studies to the particular experiences of women and minorities who were thinking about academic careers.
By making such remarks about small differences in ability, this particular fellow has now become too “controversial” to continue as a local university president or to appear on the Globe Op Ed page.