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I talked with Rutgers University professor of anthropology R. Brian Ferguson about Steven Pinker, Napoleon Chagnon, Marvin Harris, anthropo...

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Methinks it is like a weasel ~ Steven Pinker equivocates again

Yesterday Steven Pinker tweeted a link to another unctuous blog post from Jerry Coyne groveling before the Master.

It was no surprise to read Coyne suggesting that anybody who criticizes the work of Pinker is a "Pecksniff."
So you can look forward to that (as usual, the Pecksniffs will come out in force to criticize it, no matter what he says). Steve said he’ll start writing it in about a year, and I suspect it won’t be long after that until it’s finished (he wrote The Better Angels of Our Nature in only a year and a half).
The term "Pecksniff" indicates that Coyne believes Pinker's critics are guilty of hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles.

Pecksniff is a Dickens character. If I had to choose a Dickens character to compare to Coyne, I'd have to say Uriah Heep: his name has become synonymous with sycophancy.

Pinker on the other hand reminds me of a Shakespeare character, Polonius.

But I was surprised by Coyne when he wrote this:
 We talked about determinism, free will, the evolution of music (Steve thinks that there is not an adaptive evolutionary basis for music and musicality, even though music is universal in all cultures),
This struck me as odd because in his immortal review of The Blank Slate, Louis Menand wrote:
...To say that music is the product of a gene for "art-making," naturally selected to impress potential mates - which is one of the things Pinker believes..."
But when I reviewed the chapter on art in The Blank Slate to find the source, I found Pinker saying the opposite:
"...The psychological roots of (artistic) activities have become a topic of recent research and debate. Some researchers, such as the scholar Ellen Dissanayake, believe that art is an evolutionary adaptation like the emotion of fear or the ability to see in depth. Others, such as myself, believe that art (other than narrative) is a by-product of three other adaptations: the hunger for status, the aesthetic pleasure of experiencing adaptive objects and environments, and the ability to design artifacts to achieve desired ends...
However Menand can be forgiven for missing that since later in the chapter dedicated to his anti-20th century art jeremiad, Pinker seems to forget he just said art is a by-product of a "hunger for status" providing yet another example of Pinker's signature trait, equivocation.

A trait Menand himself noted:
Having it both ways is an irritating feature of "The Blank Slate." Pinker can write, in refutation of the scarecrow theory of violent behavior, "The sad fact is that despite the repeated assurances that 'we know the conditions that breed violence,' we barely have a clue," and then, a few pages later, "It is not surprising, then, that when African American teenagers are taken out of underclass neighborhoods they are no more violent or delinquent than white teenagers." Well, that should give us one clue. 
Pinker's entire point about 20th century modernism and post-modernism is that they deny human nature - which means evolutionary adaptation, which is the basis of hereditarian beliefs.

Pages after he says he does not believe art appreciation is an evolutionary adaptation, Pinker writes:
Once we recognize what modernism and postmodernism have done to the elite arts and humanities, the reasons for their decline and fall become all too obvious. The movements are based on a false theory of human psychology, the Blank Slate. They fail to apply their most vaunted ability - stripping away pretense - to themselves... 
...Young children prefer calendar landscapes to pictures of deserts and forests, and babies as young as three months old gaze longer at a pretty face than at a plain one. Babies prefer consonant musical intervals over dissonant ones...
I assume that is what prompted Menand to write the funniest line in his review:
To say that music is the product of a gene for "art-making," naturally selected to impress potential mates—which is one of the things Pinker believes—is to say absolutely nothing about what makes any particular piece of music significant to human beings. No doubt Wagner wished to impress potential mates; who does not? It is a long way from there to "Parsifal."
So Pinker wants to have it both ways - claim art is not an evolutionary adaptation itself but rather a by-product of something that truly is - hunger for status - while at the same time claim that modern art is unpopular because it denies evolutionary adaptation.
The dominant theories of elite art and criticism in the twentieth century grew out of a militant denial of human nature. One legacy is ugly, baffling and insulting art. The other is pretentious and unintelligible scholarship. And they're surprised that people are staying away in droves?
But modern art does not deny what Pinker clearly states is actually an evolutionary adaptation trait, hunger for status. If you are truly elite, a high-status individual, by definition you don't care what the droves want. The French even have an expression for it: epater les bourgeoisie, used to describe the attitude of artists from Pinker's beloved pre-20th century:
...a French phrase that became a rallying cry for the French Decadent poets of the late 19th century including Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud.[1] It means "to shock the bourgeoisie".[2]
The continuing popularity of Baudelaire and Rimbaud demonstrates that what was once considered ugly, baffling and insulting may one day be enjoyed, even by the bourgeoisie.

And I don't know if only elites are buying the work of Cindy Sherman, one of the human-nature denying scoundrels mentioned in The Blank Slate, but her work is now often sold for millions of dollars.

Phil Torres, attacked by Pinker and Coyne for daring to make a valid critique of Pinker's work - which I assume makes him a Pecksniff to Coyne - wrote:
...they refuse — they will always refuse, it’s what overconfident white men do — to admit making mistakes when they’re obviously wrong.
But thanks to Pinker's predilection for taking both sides of a position (AKA weak and strong pinkerism), it's hard to tell exactly when he's making a mistake. He seems to constantly hedge his bets. And when he wants to say something nasty about his critics, people like Coyne and Shermer are apparently happy to do it for him.

As a result, the intellectual failures (and the petty and vindictive nature) of Steven Pinker go unrecognized by many.

But every now and then a member of the elite will point it out.

Enter POLONIUS 
   HAMLET 
God bless you, sir! 
   LORD POLONIUS 
My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently. 
   HAMLET 
Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel? 
   LORD POLONIUS 
By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed. 
   HAMLET 
Methinks it is like a weasel. 
   LORD POLONIUS 
It is backed like a weasel. 
   HAMLET 
Or like a whale? 
   LORD POLONIUS 
Very like a whale. 
   HAMLET 
Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.  
   LORD POLONIUS 
I will say so. 
   HAMLET 
By and by is easily said. 
Exit POLONIUS

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sean Ono Lennon - IDW supporter

Many times John Lennon's second son, Sean Ono Lennon has expressed support for Bret and Eric Weinstein.

Eric is of course the founder of the "intellectual dark web" with ties to Trump-supporting plutocrat Peter Thiel.

Lennon has become a darling of the right.

It absolutely sickens me to think that money earned through the music of the Beatles might get funneled by someone who never had to work a day in his life to race science or anti-trans hatred or misogyny or other right-wing IDW projects.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Steven Pinker, signal boosting race science hack Noah Carl


Steven Pinker gave the career of racist Steve Sailer a boost, and is a consistent defender of Pioneer Fund recipient Linda Gottfredson, so it's no surprise he decided to signal boost Noah Carl, writing in Areo (Quillette's hereditarian twin sister) and claiming to be a free speech martyr.

Carl is a purveyor of the most antiquated race science possible, as I discussed here. His "science" is based on hypotheses about "race" developed centuries ago and debunked by 21st century genetics.

Pinker demonstrates once again the IDW's determination to mainstream race "science."

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The mind of a racist, part 6: Steve Sailer and IDW funding


When Steven Pinker dropped him in 2011, Steve Sailer lost his most direct connection to mainstream respectability, and had to be content to promote his career through the right-wing racist ecosystem of VDARE, Taki and Unz.

In 2017 New York Magazine wrote an article about Sailer, The Man Who Invented Identity Politics for the New Right, about his "subliminal influence" on well-known conservatives:
As Michael Brendan Dougherty of The Week has observed, Sailer has exerted “a kind of subliminal influence across much of the right … even in the places where his controversial writing on race was decidedly unwelcome.” Sometimes that influence has not even been subliminal — David Brooks has cited Sailer in The New York Times on the correlation between white fertility rates and voting patterns, Times columnist Ross Douthat has referenced Sailer’s analogy between Breitbart-style conservatism and punk rock, and the economist Tyler Cowen has described him as “the most significant neo-reaction thinker today.
The Tyler Cowen connection is most important: Cowen is a Koch man, discussed at Naked Capitalism: Tyler Cowen, Koch Brothers Funding, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, and Academic Freedom

The Intellectual Dark Web has many ties to Koch money, most prominently through the careers of Charles Murray and Christina Hoff Sommers. Sommers is a resident scholar of the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute and Murray is AEI's F. A. Hayek Chair in Cultural Studies. Other IDWs have received direct Koch organization funding and Steven Pinker has received indirect Koch funding.

And now Mercatus has a new funding scheme aiming to provide financial aid to members of the IDW and the like-minded, "Emergent Ventures" noted in September 2018 by TechCrunch:

Tyler Cowen,  who I interviewed here, is a fascinating economist. Part pragmatist and part dreamer, he has been researching and writing about the future for a long time in books and his blog, Marginal Revolution. Now he and his university, George Mason, are putting some money where his mouth is. 
Cowen and the team at GMU are working on Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program for moon shots. The goal is to give people with big ideas a little capital to help them build out their dreams. 
“It has long been my view that risk-takers are not sufficiently rewarded in the world of ideas and that academic incentives are too conservative,” he said. “The intellectual scene should learn something from Silicon Valley and venture capital.” 
Cowen is raising $4 million for the first fund. He announced the fund in a podcast on the Mercatus website. 
“People such as Satoshi and Jordan Peterson have had huge impacts (regardless of one’s degree of enthusiasm for their ideas), and yet in terms of philanthropic funding the world just isn’t geared to seed their ambitions,” said Cowen.
Peterson is a member of the IDW, and is known for his crackpot ideas (biologist PZ Myers made a series of videos about them) and I assume the Satoshi mentioned is not the pseudonym of an influential bitcoin programmer but rather Satoshi Kanazawa, best known for his claims that "Sub-Saharan Black African countries suffer from chronic poverty and disease because their people have lower IQs, and black women are objectively less attractive than women of other races..."

Both claims with which Steve Sailer enthusiastically agrees.

Satoshi Kanazawa also wrote an obituary of extreme race science promoter J. Phillip Rushton (seen here addressing the white supremacist American Renaissance convention) and  called him a "modern-day Gaileo."

It seems in the case of Cowen and Emergent Ventures, Sailer's controversial writing on race is welcome, at least coming from someone who is not Sailer.

According to the Emergent Ventures web site:
Launched with $1 million grant from the Thiel Foundation, the mission is to jumpstart high-risk, high-reward ideas that advance prosperity, opportunity, and wellbeing. The fellowship provides participants with the short-term resources and support to quickly develop and test their ideas. 
In addition to financial support, participants will have access to mentors and networks in the George Mason community, such as Mercatus’ faculty director, Tyler Cowen, and industry leaders across the country. Emergent Ventures is looking to make a bet on talented individuals with unique ideas for changing the world. Sign up above to keep in touch.
The apparent founder of the IDW, Eric Weinstein, works for Trump supporter Peter Thiel and promotes him often.

Steve Sailer's views are not at all out of line with the views of people whom Koch and Thiel and Cowen want to support. And we know Sailer and leading race science promoter and Koch favorite Charles Murray have a mutual admiration.

So why doesn't Sailer get Koch money?

We know he doesn't, at least as of April 2019.



The person Sailer is tweeting at is Alex Nowrasteh, who works for Koch via the Cato Institute.

But Sailer doesn't seem to like him much and he really doesn't like Koch, even grouping him in with the biggest of the right-wingers' bete noirs:
The BLM/Hillary/Koch/Soros/NYT plan for betting the country on less law and order?
It seems that the AEI/Koch faction of the right prefers open borders and Sailer and the current ruling faction of the Republican Party, the Trumpers, prefer closed borders.

It's the classic division of conservative America - the rah rah capitalism side and the rah rah racism side.

I don't think the two sides disagree fundamentally about a race-based human hierarchy. I don't think the Koch side has any love for people from Central and South America.

Immigrants, especially unskilled immigrants, will work for cheap and that's good for people like Koch.

The difference between the two sides is the degree to which racism trumps capitalism. Steve Sailer is fine with capitalism, but he hates other "races" more than he loves capitalism. And although Charles Murray doesn't mind being associated with him, Sailer is probably just a little bit too obvious about his open contempt for black people for those who control the plutocrat purse strings.

But it could change. If the IDW manages to gain mainstream acceptability for race "science" the rah rah capitalism wing will no longer have to feel embarrassed about Steve Sailer's bluntness, and might start shoveling money his way.

It's possible they are already considering it, based on tweets I happened to observe. I originally wrote about that here.

This tweet (below) indicates to me that rather than dismissing Sailer, it's possible those in Kochland are arguing whether to publicly align with Sailer.

If they do, we will know that the right has decided to make a full-scale attack on any progress made since the days of the Civil Rights Movement. And they may even attempt to twist the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. to do it.


When will someone representing Bill Watterson make HBD Chick stop 
smearing his work by associating Hobbes with her racism?



Saturday, January 4, 2020

The mind of a racist, part 5: Steve Sailer and Taki's Magazine

I pointed out in part 4 of The mind of a racist: Steve Sailer and VDARE that Sailer has decided that all race issues were resolved in the 1960s, in spite of systemic racist practices like redlining.

In spite of the evidence in media reports as in the NYTimesSailer denies that redlining exists:
But, you don’t understand, the 2017 homeless subsidization program is going on now, while redlining hasn’t happened since 1968, so, obviously, redlining is more determinative of today’s behavior.
Steve Sailer believes whatever he wants to believe. And he has so little self-awareness he wrote a response in Taki's Magazine to Race, genetics and pseudoscience - an explainer in which he actually claims:
In contrast, I tend toward the exact opposite writing style. I may not convince you of my ideas, but I’m going to provide you with a lot of data and examples.
But as we've seen, he couldn't even be bothered to Google "redlining" and learn that redlining is still happening now.

Steve Sailer is lazy and delusional and racist, but luckily for him, those are advantages in a world with a vigorous racist network, funded by wealthy men such as Ron Unz and Panagiotis "Taki" Theodoracopulos.

Theodoracopulos is ten years older than Donald Trump but they sound like they have much in common, and their families traveled in the same circles:
The Donald told Harry Theodoracopulos (brother of Taki), 77, from New York, that he was no longer welcome at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach because he claimed he verbally abused caddies and talked too loudly on the driving range.
The Theodoracopulos brothers, like Trump, became rich by being born into it, although the Theodoracopuli haven't had multiple bankruptcies, unlike Trump, by avoiding high-stakes endeavors like casino-building. Taki Theodoracopulos works for mainstream publications like The Spectator, a weekly British magazine:
The millionaire playboy has breezily called himself a "soi-disant anti-Semite" and peppers his conversation with words like "wop", "yid" or "dago"; yet he has survived seven editors and five proprietors. 
Taki has his own online magazine, where he doesn't have to worry about editors. "Taki's Mag" has a rogues gallery of far right columnists.



And let's not forget it was once edited by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.

It was in a column in Taki that Gavin McInnes expressed his admiration for Steven Pinker:
... I'm talking about brave souls such as Ezra Levant, Anthony Cumia, Ann Coulter, Greg Gutfeld, Kathy Shaidle, Bill Whittle, Jared Taylor, Dana Loesch, A.J. Delgado, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Charles C. Johnson, Mary Katharine Ham, James O'Keefe, John Bolton, Sean Hannity, Phelim McAleer, K.T. McFarland, Mark Steyn, Steve Sailer, Jon Derbyshire, Steven Pinker, Thomas Sowell, Charles Murray, Peter Brimelow, Jonah Goldberg, John Stossel, Doug Stanhope, Jim Goad, Naomi Schaefer Riley, Katie Pavlich, Charles Krauthammer, Kevin D. Williamson, and Garfunkel and Oates. 
Another member of the IDW, Charles Murray, gets a mention, as does white supremacists Jared Taylor of American Renaissance, Claire Lehmann's buddy Ezra Levant and Steve Sailer.

I've been asked why I pay attention to a nobody like Steve Sailer. It's because in the world of right-wing racists, Steve Sailer is somebody, living on the largess of plutocrats.

So far as I know, though, Sailer has not been able to get funding from the top level of the eco-system, Charles Koch. But that could change. I'll talk about that next.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

NYTimes promotes Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence paper. Again.

I'm proud to have interviewed anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson, critic of the paper "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence."

Ferguson said:
...it was a pretty stark hypothesis because it was proposing that particular conditions would confer a five-point IQ increase. That's a lot. It's testable. It was proposed in the journal which was formerly called The Eugenics Review and it got a tremendous amount of attention. 
Nicholas Wade brought it to the readers of the New York Times twice. Now one
question is why is an untested hypothesis getting so much attention?
 
You would think that if they found evidence for it - but there was no evidence. This was an untested hypothesis. Steven Pinker helped legitimize this.  
Well what struck me was that him saying that it was good science and when you actually look at the science, it's not good science. I mean they get the wrong diseases in some cases, they, if you look at their proposition that these different diseases - just just the idea that these diseases boost IQ - if you look at their the actual science of it, that’s not what it says...
So now the NYTimes Bret Stephens is promoting it again:
The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. When it comes to Ashkenazi Jews, it’s true. “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data,” noted one 2005 paper.
Stephens links to the Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence paper.

There were some good responses on Twitter:


Bessner is referring to the infamous incident in which Stephens threw a fit because he was referred to as a "bedbug" as a joke, on Twitter.



I teach classes in strategic political communication. Every week, for the last seven years, I have begun each class session with a simple question: “What happened in the news this week?” The idea is to draw out lessons about how strategy and power work in the digital age. I often joke that it is my job to have a professional opinion about the latest Twitter storm. 
But then Bret Stephens, a New York Times columnist, emailed me on Monday night, cc’ing my university provost, to scold me over a milquetoast joke I had made on Twitter about bedbugs at the Times. I’ve never been a fan of Stephens, so when I saw the news about bedbugs at the newspaper and everyone joking about it, I contributed a joke about Stephens. His email was a bizarre overreaction (he was offended that I called him a metaphorical bedbug) — my joke had gotten no traction on social media, and was pretty tame — so I posted about his response on Twitter. Something clicked, and the story went immediately viral. The original joke had zero retweets and nine likes. It now has 4,700 retweets and 31,200 likes. I have spent the past two days in the center of the viral media controversy, instead of observing with interest from the sidelines.
Stephens was so angry at the response he quit Twitter:
Stephens responded by quitting Twitter. Then he wrote a column last Friday that one could say was a massive subtweet of the entire situation. Accompanied by a picture of Nazi propagandist-in-chief Joseph Goebbels, Stephens argued that the politics of the current moment echoes that of 80 years ago, “plus three crucial factors: new forms of mass communication, the rhetoric of dehumanization and the politics of absolute good versus absolute evil.” And then he went there:
Radio then, like Twitter today, was the technology of the id; a channel that could concentrate political fury at a time when there was plenty to go around.... 
The political mind-set that turned human beings into categories, classes and races also turned them into rodents, insects and garbage. “Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing,” Heinrich Himmler would claim in 1943. “Getting rid of lice is not a matter of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness.” Watching Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto burn that year, a Polish anti-Semite was overheard saying: “The bedbugs are on fire. The Germans are doing a great job.” 
Today, the rhetoric of infestation is back.
As historian Daniel Bessner put it, “Well, he did it. Bret Stephens compared his being called a bedbug on Twitter to the genocide of 6 million Jews.”
==========


Now if he would only quit the NYTimes.


UPDATE: The NYTimes posted this on the article:

An earlier version of this Bret Stephens column quoted statistics from a 2005 paper that advanced a genetic hypothesis for the basis of intelligence among Ashkenazi Jews. After publication Mr. Stephens and his editors learned that one of the paper’s authors, who died in 2016, promoted racist views. Mr. Stephens was not endorsing the study or its authors’ views, but it was a mistake to cite it uncritically. The effect was to leave an impression with many readers that Mr. Stephens was arguing that Jews are genetically superior. That was not his intent. He went on instead to argue that culture and history are crucial factors in Jewish achievements and that, as he put it, “At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t. They are representational.” We have removed reference to the study from the column.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The mind of a racist part 4: Steve Sailer, VDARE & the strategy to deny African American history

As we have seen in The mind of a racist part 3, although Steve Sailer asks for donations at the Unz Review web site, Unz doesn't have a system in place to accept donations.

Sailer instead suggests a variety of direct options, from PayPal to Bitcoin. And he provides a link to his old web site and to VDARE. Sailer advises:
Please don’t forget to click my name at the VDARE site so the money goes to me...
VDARE has been kiboshed from use of Paypal for being, I dunno, EVIL. But you can give via credit cards, Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, check, money order, or stock.
It's odd considering that Unz Review is - or perhaps once was, more respectable and less obviously evil than VDARE. Many of the same writers work for both, like Sailer, John Derbyshire (fired from The National Review for being too racist), Pat Buchanan, but Unz Review includes those who are not white supremacists like Ted Rall and Ron Paul. I would have thought Unz would be the ones to handle the money.

But as we've discussed, Ron Unz is a big contributor to VDARE too, so there may be no significant distinction, financially, between Unz Review and VDARE. Except that VDARE is a nonprofit, which has been controversial.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center profile, VDARE:
(was) established in 1999 by the Center for American Unity, a Virginia-based nonprofit foundation started by English immigrant Peter Brimelow, VDARE.com is an anti-immigration hate website "dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century. 
Now run by the VDARE Foundation, the site is a place where relatively intellectually inclined leaders of the anti-immigrant movement share their opinions. VDARE.com also regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites.
Most recently Brimelow was in the news thanks to his connection to the Trump administration via Stephen Miller:
Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDARE, believes that diversity has weakened the United States, and that the increase in Spanish speakers is a “ferocious attack on the living standards of the American working class.” 
Jared Taylor, the editor of the white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, is a self-described “white advocate” who has written that “newcomers are not the needy; they are the greedy.” 
Their websites were among the sources cited by Stephen Miller, the White House aide who is the driving force behind President Trump’s immigration policies, in emails and conversations with conservative allies at Breitbart News when he was a young Senate aide. A cache of those emails, obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, provides new insight into the ideas that have shaped Mr. Miller’s thinking and suggest he has maintained deeper intellectual ties to the world of white nationalism than previously known.
Is it any wonder why the IDW, Republicans and professional racists like Steve Sailer hate the SPLC?  I recommend you support them.

I have said many times that a strategy of race science proponents is to minimize or deny the history of African Americans, as IDW Sam Harris has done, explicitly, including not only the impact of the massacres and lynchings of the descendents of the Emancipated, but incidents of looting of black wealth, finally being discussed in the media, like the NYTimes 1619 Project.

I haven't yet seen the television series The Watchmen (I don't have HBO) but I've heard one or more of its episodes reference the Tulsa massacre, the mass murder and looting of "Black Wall Street." This is a very positive development. More people need to know about this kind of atrocity which happened far more than is recognized.

In his anti-1619 post in VDARE, Steve Sailer shows exactly what I mean by the race science attempt to erase African American history:
Basically, it’s The Bell Curve question once again: If we utterly rule out of consideration all the facts and logic in The Bell Curve, then how can we explain why only 7 blacks passed the Stuyvesant HS entrance exam in 2019, despite decades of massive spending to uplift black performance? 
As each year brings us further into the Post-1960s future, the answer for why blacks aren’t achieving more must lie far in the past, such as in 1619. 
But of course the answer can’t lie even further back than 1619, such as in 1618 or in the tens of thousands of years when, as geneticist David Reich has pointed out, humanity was split into two basic large populations: the Out-of-Africans and the Still-in-Africans. 
It just can’t, because looking further back than 1619 would diminish the guilt that could be imposed upon white Americans to give their money to black Americans.
It's amusing to see Sailer whining about giving money to black Americans. Where would Sailer be without the right-wing racist wingnut welfare infrastructure that supports him exactly because he attacks black Americans?

And his description is, naturally, a misrepresentation of the 1619 project. One of the best, and most relevant pieces is The Wealth Gap which details some of the ways that black wealth has been stolen since Empancipation and the insidiousness of redlining. A practice, it has been proven, is still going on in New York state.

Sailer has one recent anecdote about black students and Stuyvesant entrance exams, and so he declares the reason for African American failure to thrive is genetics, as claimed in The Bell Curve.

Sailer believes, apparently, perfect social, political and economic parity was achieved in the 1960s, contrary to all evidence.

And by the way, I think I triggered Steve Sailer into blocking me on Twitter by pointing out that the "out-of-Africans" were probably the losers of turf wars and also mated with Neanderthals and so are less pure homo sapiens than the "Still in Africans."

So why VDARE? The name comes from Virginia Dare, one of the "lost colony" residents of Roanoke Virginia, and a baby during the three years before the colony was lost.

As the New Yorker explains:
In the hands of its literary interpreters, the Roanoke colony became a reprieve from a conquered, mapped, and increasingly developed American landscape. It also became the literary property of post-Confederate nostalgia, the “lost colony” linked symbolically to the “lost cause.” In an 1866 novel called “Roanoke; or, ‘Where Is Utopia?’ ” Calvin H. Wiley, who had been superintendent of public schools in Confederate North Carolina, set the colony’s descendants in a place where “the wild and restless demon of Progress has not yet breathed … its scorching breath on the green foliage of nature,—filial reverence, parental tenderness, conjugal fidelity, neighbourly kindness, and patriotic integrity.” 
In 1875, an anonymous “M. M.” published a story in Our Living and Our Dead, a North Carolina magazine dedicated to Confederate nostalgia and anti-Northern fomentation, in which Indian magic had turned Virginia Dare into an enchanted white doe who haunted the coastal forests for a century and witnessed the Indians’ "extinction, and the wide occupation of their forfeited patrimony, by that superior race, the Anglo-Saxon, with their bondsmen, the sable African, the red man’s inferior.” M. M.’s Virginia Dare also prophesied the Civil War as a national disaster: “divided, brave brothers fall beneath the yoke of despotism.”
White supremacists like to turn their biggest failures into victory narratives.

Another contributor to both Unz Review and VDARE is Taki Theodoracopulos, who also has his own magazine. We'll look at that next.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The mind of a racist, part 3: Steve Sailer and the Unz Review


Continuing from The mind of a racist, part 2

Steve Sailer has had a "journalism" career, for about twenty years more or less, thanks to right-wing sugar daddies, in addition to having his career promoted by Steven Pinker.

This is what Paul Krugman means when he talks about wingnut welfare:
Wingnut welfare is an important, underrated feature of the modern U.S. political scene. I don’t know who came up with the term, but anyone who follows right-wing careers knows whereof I speak: the lavishly-funded ecosystem of billionaire-financed think tanks, media outlets, and so on provides a comfortable cushion for politicians and pundits who tell such people what they want to hear. Lose an election, make economic forecasts that turn out laughably wrong, whatever — no matter, there’s always a fallback job available.
Sailer thanked his sugar daddies in the intro to his 2008 book (free online) AMERICA’S HALF‐BLOOD PRINCE BARACK OBAMA’S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE"
I am especially indebted to my many patrons, most of whom wish to remain anonymous, who have donated sums of money, small and large, so I can continue to get by as a full‐time professional writer. Due to political correctness, we’re heading into an era when individualistic writers once again depend not upon the mass media for their pay, but upon enlightened patrons. Fortunately, the Internet allows heretical thinkers to help scratch out a living from the small donations of people around the world.
Sailer has had a column at the Unz Review since 2004 and is currently fundraising there:
First: You can use PayPal (non-tax deductible) by going to the page on my old blog here. PayPal accepts most credit cards. Contributions can be either one-time only, monthly, or annual.

Second: You can mail a non-tax deductible donation to: Steve Sailer P.O Box 4142 Valley Village, CA 91617-0142

Third: You can make a tax deductible contribution via VDARE by clicking here. (Paypal and credit cards accepted, including recurring “subscription” donations.) Please make sure to click the box for: Make contribution to author
Note: the VDARE site goes up and down on its own schedule, so if this link stops working, please let me know.
Other methods you can use to pay Steve Sailer include Bitcoin, transfer via Wells Fargo or Chase and Google wallet.

Sailer claims 2019 has been a good year, according to these metrics:
2019 has been another strong year for iSteve. So far in 2019 there have been 1,685 blog posts comprising 666,9555 with is a lot, perhaps a half dozen typical books. You all have contributed 226,393 comments comprising 15,744,145 words, which is an insane amount. So far, iSteve has seen 4,211,669 unique visits total 10,355,015 page views with a little under 2 weeks to go in 2019. 
It’s been a very good year and I thank all my readers for their contributions, which dwarf mine in volume. On the other hand, as Reggie Jackson once said about the 1977 New York Yankees, I’m the straw that stirs the drink.
So what do you get for your money?

Well judging by Sailer's Unz blog for the past couple of days you get Sailer's thoughts about Harry Potter, Sailer's thoughts on the J.K. Rowling transgender controversy, twice, Sailer apparently suggesting - ironically or not, it's unclear - that Amy Klobuchar said something racist. And last, something about Trump.


What's interesting about Sailer's blog posts is how little work must have gone into them. They most often consist of large block quotes from others with a few comments from Sailer, interspersed. For example his post "Is Trump the best thing that ever happened to journalism?"



But Steve Sailer doesn't need a lot of words to express his hatred and contempt for black people. And he counts on his hereditarian readers to understand their underlying inferiority so he doesn't usually have to spell it out.

Sailer is obsessed with the idea that the housing bubble of 2008 was the fault of Those People. Sailer writes:
...Our society so focused on the problem of not enough mortgage money being lent to nonwhites that, surprise, surprise, we ended up lending too much mortgage money to nonwhites during the Housing Bubble.
Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman addressed that issue in one of his blog posts. I don't include the charts here:
...the fact that those libruls in Congress caused the bubble is just part of what everyone knows, even though it’s not true. 
Just to repeat the basic facts here: 
1. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was irrelevant to the subprime boom, which was overwhelmingly driven by loan originators not subject to the Act.
2. The housing bubble reached its point of maximum inflation in the middle years of the naughties:
3. During those same years, Fannie and Freddie were sidelined by Congressional pressure, and saw a sharp drop in their share of securitization - while securitization by private players surged.
 
Of course, I imagine that this post, like everything else, will fail to penetrate the cone of silence. It’s convenient to believe that somehow, this is all Barney Frank’s fault; and so that belief will continue.
But the kind of people who read Steve Sailer are going to have much more confidence in the opinions of a sore-headed racist with a marketing background than in Krugman.

The bubble was caused by unregulated lending to low-income people of all ethnicities. Sailer harps on "nonwhites" because his focus is on blaming Those People for the problem.

Now it's true that a higher percentage of blacks have bad credit and lower income than whites. This is due to African American families starting out with nothing at all after emancipation, and then enduring 150 year of anti-black brutality and theft of black resources and wealth.

But when evidence that blacks are still being discriminated against shows up, this is how Sailer spins it in an article entitled Black Retirement Planning.
Discrimination lawsuits alleging racism by deep-pocketed corporations (a.k.a., Black Retirement Planning) are a popular topic for credulous news articles.
The lawsuit in question is about discrimination against a wealthy ex-football player who wants to be a private client - a banking term that indicates high-asset clients -  and was told he couldn't because he was black.

Then the article notes:
This year, researchers for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that black mortgage borrowers were charged higher interest rates than white borrowers and were denied mortgages that would have been approved for white applicants.
The important point here is "denied mortgages that would have been approved for white applicants."

In other words, the black applicants in question were as well-qualified as the white applicants. The only variable was ethnicity. But of course Sailer has to say this in sarcastic response:
As we all know, the 2008 mortgage meltdown was due to not lending enough money to minorities.
So to recap, a lawsuit over a wealthy black man trying to take advantage of a bank "private client" designation like any other wealthy bank customer might is declared by Sailer to be an example of "black retirement planning."

And an example of well-qualified black applicants being denied mortgages on the basis of ethnicity is connected by Sailer to his claim that black people caused the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

To Steve Sailer, financially-qualified black people are the same as financially un-qualified black people thanks to the logic of racism : those people are all the same.

Sailer thinks no black people are qualified for the same type of mortgage as white people because it's not their income, but their blackness, that would cause them to default on a mortgage.

This is the same thought process behind Sailer personally retrying and reconvincting the Central Park Five on the basis that a black teenager stabbed a white woman in Manhattan, thirty years later.

And Steve Sailer makes a living spewing this toxic, hateful, sleazy racism.

Now I don't doubt Sailer gets small donations from his reader base, but where would Sailer be without plutocrats like Ron Unz?

Sailer, reposting his own American Conservative article from March 2009 in Unz Review:
...the man who did more to head off the dangers posed by bilingual education is a friend of mine. In fact, he’s my boss: The American Conservative’s publisher Ron Unz.

The Spectator suggests Ron Unz is a Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic Jew:
Contrarianism begins, by and large, with the valid conclusion that many of the ‘facts’ that we are told — by politicians, or the media, or academic and religious institutions — are less than wholly true. You begin to question other aspects of conventional wisdom. There is nothing wrong in this. Yet your questions, and methods of answering them, have to be rational. Otherwise your iconoclastic instincts are unmoored from reason; your passions and biases take over in the flattering guise of independent thought. You question established narratives but swallow alternative claims. You leap to alternative ideas but avoid questioning yourself. In the most extreme cases, you begin by questioning the grounds for preemptive wars and ends by claiming that religious Jews routinely worship Satan. 
That, sadly, appears to be what has happened to Ron Unz.
That would explain why Unz is publishing articles recently like Vulture Capitalism is Jewish Capitalism.

Unz isn't only a Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic Jew, he's a big fan of race science and Steven Pinker:
For example, in 2002 Harvard’s Steven Pinker, one of America’s most prominent evolutionary psychologists, published The Blank Slate, an outstanding critique of this incorrect reigning dogma, which specifically included a lengthy debunking of Gould, Lewontin, and their circle. Not only was the book a huge seller and glowingly discussed throughout the MSM, but I was stunned to read an equally favorable review in The Nation, pole-star of America’s political Left. I naturally assumed that the full collapse of Gouldism was underway, an impression enhanced once the august New York Times later published an article describing an important instance of Gould’s scientific fraud.
According to SourceWatch:
Unz publishes The Unz Review. He formerly served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine. In the past, he served as founder and chairman of English for the Children, a nationwide movement to dismantle bilingual education. [1] Unz has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the far-right website VDARE, claiming that he supports them because they are "mostly broke and they write interesting things." In August 2018, Unz published a long essay in The Unz Review in which he supports Holocaust Denial.
Unz would have been the keynote speaker for VDARE's first conference had it not been cancelled by the venue owner. Jared Taylor and Steve Sailer had also been scheduled to speak.

As I have mentioned, Sailer also writes for VDARE, so Sailer is doubly-supported by Ron Unz. I'll talk about VDARE next.

Friday, December 20, 2019

The mind of a racist, part 2: Steve Sailer's fear of Pakistanis

Although the Steven Pinker tweet I shared in the previous post, The mind of a racist, part 1: Steve Sailer promoted by Steven Pinker was a year old, yesterday's tweet shows Pinker is still promoting hereditarianism.



In response to Pinker, Evolutionary Biology PhD student Kevin Bird pointed out how weak the paper is for the hereditarian point of view.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb had a stronger response.


The hereditarian belief that genetics explains virtually all aspects of human cultural behavior is well-demonstrated by Pinker's promotion of Sailer's crackpot theories about Iraqis and democracy.

David Buller demonstrated how reflexive the hereditarian explanation for human behavior is in his critique of evolutionary psychology, Adapting Minds, Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature, published in 2006.

David Buss (another big name in hereditarianism) mistakes female sexual slavery for female choice.

Buller:
...in a well-documented study, the anthropologist William Irons found that, among the Turkmen of Persia, males in the wealthier half of the population left 75 percent more offspring than males in the poorer half of the population. Buss cites several studies like this as indicating that "high status in men leads directly to increased sexual access to a larger number of women," and he implies that this is due to the greater desirability of high-status men (David Buss 1999 "Evolutionary Psychology the New Science of the Mind"). 
But, among the Turkmen, women were sold by their families into marriage. The reason that higher-status males enjoyed greater reproductive success among the Turkmen is that they were able to buy wives earlier and more often than lower-status males. Other studies that clearly demonstrate a reproductive advantage for high-status males are also studies of societies or circumstances in which males "traded" in women. This isn't evidence that high-status males enjoy greater reproductive success because women find them more desirable. Indeed, it isn't evidence of female preference at all, just as the fact that many harem-holding despots produced remarkable numbers of offspring is no evidence of their desirability to women. It is only evidence that when men have power they will use it to promote their reproductive success, among other things (and that women, under such circumstances, will prefer entering a harem to suffering the dire consequences of refusal).
So here is how you do an hereditarian study:
  • Observe human social behavior 
  • Buss observes that high status Turkmen men have increased sexual access to a larger number of women.
  • Proclaim it's the result of genetics.
  • Based on his belief that adaptation controls all human behavior, Buss assumes the greater sexual access is due to women finding high status men more sexually desirable. 
  • Done.
  • Buss is done because, thanks to his belief in all-controlling adaptation, he can't be bothered to examine the lives of Turkmen women. It falls to others to point out that the Turkmen society - like many societies throughout history and even continuing into the present time (sometimes via Facebook) - force women into arranged marriages. This information will never be acknowledge by Buss, who instead publishes his work as "Evolutionary Psychology the New Science of the Mind."
The stubborn hereditarian denial of the reality of non-genetic human social arrangements is a never-ending problem in part because they pretend they don't ignore it.

For example, in a VDARE article I linked to here Sailer writes:
Q. Are global differences in IQ caused solely by genetics? 
A. No. As I wrote in VDARE.COM back in 2002: 
"A clear example of how a bad environment can hurt IQ can be seen in the IQ scores for sub-Saharan African countries...

But if you look at Sailer's actual output it is clear that he doesn't account for environment in human cultural behavior. In his Cousin Marriage Conundrum he writes about Pakistanis:
According to the leading authority on inbreeding, geneticist Alan H. Bittles of Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, “In the resident Pakistani community of some 0.5 million [in Britain] an estimated 50% to 60+% of marriages are consanguineous, with evidence that their prevalence is increasing.”
Sailer thinks the prevalence of Pakistani cousin-marriages is due to the genetic nature of Pakistanis,  which is why he believes that Pakistani cousin marriages will continue increasing in England, in spite of the fact that cultural and socio-economic conditions, especially for women are completely different in England than they are in Pakistan.

And of course he is wrong
But as I hear from some people in their teens and early twenties, that doesn't guarantee interest in cousin marriage. Attitudes are shifting. “I wouldn’t marry my cousin because I consider them like my siblings,” says Ilsa, a 17-year-old student from London. “In my opinion, it’s an option. If you want to, you can get married. It’s not like your family is going to force you. It just depends on what the person wants.”
The reason people marry their cousins in Pakistan is because their marriages are arranged. As Pakistani immigrant families, generation by generation, acclimate to the cultural practices - and most importantly, economic opportunities for women - of England, Pakistani families will have less and less power to arrange their children's marriages, and the custom will die out in England.

Arranged marriages are not the result of genetics. They are due to a complex historical, economic and infrastructural network of cause and effect. The Turkmen selling women into marriage is one form of arranged marriage. Pressuring your child to marry a cousin is another. 

The important thing about arranged marriages is that they are extremely common throughout human history. So common there's reason to believe they existed pre-history. 

This puts a serious crimp in the hereditarian claim that human social hierarchies are adaptations, a result of sexual selection. There's plenty of reason to believe that for much of human history many people, and especially women, didn't choose who they had sex - and reproduced - with, they were forced to have sex with whomever their parents chose for them, in cultures that didn't allow divorce and did not have a concept of spousal rape. 

In other words, human sexual preferences were often ignored, throughout human cultural history, in defiance of sexual-preference-adaptation theories of hereditarians.

And so hereditarians simply ignore that reality.

As Louis Menand wrote in his important review in The New Yorker of Pinker's The Blank Slate:
The insistence on deprecating the efficacy of socialization leads Pinker into absurdities that he handles with a blitheness that would be charming if his self-assurance were not so overdeveloped. He argues, for example, that democracy, the rule of law, and women's reproductive freedom are all products of evolution. The Founding Fathers understood that the ideas of power sharing and individual rights are grounded in human nature. And he quotes, with approval, the claim of two evolutionary psychologists that the "evolutionary calculus" explains why women evolved "to exert control over their own sexuality, over the terms of their relationships, and over the choice of which men are to be the fathers of their children." Now, democracy, individual rights, and women's sexual autonomy are concepts almost nowhere to be found, even in the West, before the eighteenth century. Either human beings spent ten thousand years denying their own nature by slavishly obeying the whims of the rich and powerful, cheerfully burning heretics at the stake, and arranging their daughters' marriages (which would imply a pretty effective system of socialization), or modern liberal society is largely a social construction. Which hypothesis seems more plausible?
So although Steve Sailer's overt racism is an embarrassment to the more respectable purveyors of hereditarianism like Steven Pinker and David Buss, his racism is based on the very same hereditarian logic of "deprecating the efficacy of socialization."

And Steve Sailer doesn't think that cousin-marriage is the only essential genetic trait of Pakistanis.

In a recent article for Unz, Sailer posted a tweet from ABC News that said:
Stunning scene in Pakistan as hundreds of lawyers storm a hospital, attacking doctors and staff to avenge what they said was an assault by doctors on a colleague.
Officials say three patients died when doctors had to flee the scene. https://abcn.ws/2LQfKEC 
To which Sailer responds:
You are probably thinking: “Thank God I wasn’t born in Pakistan.”
But that just proves you are racist and therefore deserve to have your country taken over by immigrants from Pakistan (population 219 million).
It's actually not racist to say "Thank God I wasn't born in Pakistan" because saying so acknowledges that the issue is socio-economic-political conditions in Pakistan.

It's Sailer's message that is racist, because the problem according to Steve Sailer is that immigrants from Pakistan could take over your country with their innate, natural-born, crazy violent ways.

This is the reality of hereditarian beliefs, no matter how much it is white-washed.

And in fact, it is the standard template for the output of Steve Sailer.

Kevin Bird recently wrote a piece called The Hereditarian Hypothesis and Scientific Racism in which he says:
Instead of Nobel Laureates and respected tenure track faculty, the new generation of race scientists on the Pioneer Fund dole are untrained post-graduates. While the campaign to promote scientific racism is losing ground in academic venues, it is still lively in online communities under monikers like “Human Biodiversity” and “Race Realism” (Saini, 2019).
But I think this is overly-optimistic. First because "biosocial criminology" has established an hereditarian beachhead in academia, as I discuss here.

And then there are people like Steve Sailer, who make a living spewing racist pseudo-science thanks to the largess of right-wing racist plutocrats, which I will talk about in The mind of a racist, part 3.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The mind of a racist, part 1: Steve Sailer, promoted by Steven Pinker


As far as I can tell, Steven Pinker has decided to ignore the existence of Steve Sailer since 2011.

But Sailer can't let Pinker go.

Sailer can be seen just a year ago in Taki's mag (founded by right-wing extremist Taki Theodoracopulos, and once edited by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer) praising Pinker:
...Pinker, for example, is an outspoken advocate of the politically incorrect science of IQ and heredity. For instance, Pinker tweeted earlier this year: 


The Blank Slate is cracking: With polygenic scores corroborating twin & adoption studies in showing IQ is in good part heritable, even schools & left-leaning mags are walking back the tabula rasa.
How does Pinker avoid getting in trouble like DNA researcher James D. Watson or Pinker’s friend Larry Summers, former president of Harvard until he gave a Pinkerian talk on sex differences in IQ? I’m not sure, exactly. Perhaps it’s that the lithe, long-haired, soft-spoken Pinker seems like the archetype of the liberal college professor.
Or perhaps would-be SJW deplatformers intuit that they’d come out of a collision with the extraordinarily smart Pinker as badly as Malcolm Gladwell did in 2009 when the New Yorker writer tried to taint Pinker with guilt by association with me and my impolitic views on IQ and race. Gladwell’s career has never fully recovered from the drubbing the seemingly mild-mannered Pinker gave him.
If you want to see an actual drubbing you should read the exchange of letters between Pinker and Stephen Jay Gould in the New York Review of Books in 1997.  This is what happens to Pinker when he comes up against someone who knows what they are talking about. (The same thing happened, although at a much lower key, in Pinker's meeting with Krugman.)

GOULD (my highlight):
Pinker quotes me correctly in noting that I accept natural selection as the only known cause of “eminently workable design”—and he then writes, again correctly (although I would add the restrictive adjective “complex” to the beginning of the phrase), that “adaptive design must be the product of natural selection.” But, two paragraphs later, and now in the sarcastic mode, he ridicules me with a very different claim that he regards as equivalent:
Those blinkered, narrow, rigid, miserly, uncompromising ultra-panselectionists whom Gould attacks are simply explaining complex design in terms of its only known cause.
I’m astonished that Pinker doesn’t see the key fallacy here (and he states the point several times, so he has not just made a careless slip): “complex design” does not equate with “complex adaptive design” (or what I preferred to call “eminently workable design”). Complex design forms a much broader category than adaptive design—and has many other potential evolutionary causes. Which brings us to the subject of “spandrels”—just one of the nonadaptive ways to build crucial parts of complex designs (but incomprehensible as a concept to Pinker because he conflates complexity with adaptation).
Gould is pointing out Pinker's over-reliance on adaptation to the exclusion of other evolutionary mechanisms, which Gould calls "Darwinian fundamentalism."


What interests me about the Taki passage is Sailer's accurate observation that Pinker's reputation is generally untainted in spite of the fact that he holds the same hereditarian beliefs as James Watson and Larry Summers.

And I have written about Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections.

Sailer speculates it's Pinker's appearance and demeanor that shields him from well-deserved criticism, which I find a far more plausible explanation than that "SJW deplatformers" are afraid of Pinker's mighty intellect.

But I think the two main reasons for why Pinker's hard-core hereditarianism is ignored are:
Pinker liked Sailer's crackpot theory about Iraq and democracy "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" so much he included it in the 2004 volume of "The Best American Science and Nature Writing" which he co-edited with Tim Folger. (Folger wouldn't take any of the blame for Sailer when I wrote and asked him about it.)

"The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" was originally published in The American Conservative (founded by Taki Theodoracopolus) and can be found here.

The fact that the article was published in a rightwing political magazine should have been a clue that its focus is politics rather than "science and nature."

The article almost touches on "science and nature" a few time, but you can tell how "scientific" it is when Sailer first makes a reference to in-breeding hillbillies in the article:
Americans have long dismissed cousin marriage as something practiced only among hillbillies. That old stereotype of inbred mountaineers waging decades- long blood feuds had some truth to it. One study of 107 marriages in Beech Creek, Kentucky in 1942 found 19 percent were consanguineous, although the Kentuckians were more inclined toward second- cousin marriages, while first-cousin couples are more common than second-cousin pairings in the Islamic lands.
Then Sailer finishes the article like this:
In summary, although neoconservatives constantly point to America’s success at reforming Germany and Japan after World War II as evidence that it would be easy to do the same in the Middle East, the deep social structure of Iraq is the complete opposite of those two true nation-states, with their highly patriotic, co-operative, and (not surprisingly) outbred peoples. The Iraqis, in contrast, more closely resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys.  
As I wrote when I first reviewed the article:
He is claiming that the history of feuds between the Hatfields and McCoys had something to do with inbreeding. Apparently since the families lived in West Virginia and West Virginia has a reputation for inbreeding hillbillies (which is bogus) Sailer decided to go ahead and conflate inbreeding with the feud. That's the level of scholarship we're talking about here.
Now remember, Steven Pinker was the editor responsible for bringing this piece into "The Best American Science and Nature Writing." And yet he had no problem with Sailer mixing up claims of Kentucky inbreeding with the Hatfield/McCoy feud.

But as I've noted, Pinker is big on scolding others about careless fact-checking while being a bad fact-checker himself.

Other obvious problems with Sailer's article include his references to biblical characters as if they were historical, and his claim that consanguinity rates control forms of government. It took me minutes to debunk that:
A quick glance at a Five-Thirty-Eight data form on global consanguinity by country indicates that Iraq is not the most consanguineous country in the world. It's number 16. Meanwhile Kyrgyzstan is number 7 and has a Presidential Republican form of government, like Bangladesh, which is only number 33 on the list. Croatia, which has the same form of government has a cousin marriage rate of 0.1% - less than the US with 0.2%.
Sailer's article, although he makes references to genetics several times, does not demonstrate that Iraqis are genetically indisposed to democracy. And in fact in the last paragraph of the article he uses the phrase "the deep social structure of Iraq."

So what exactly does the deep social structure of Iraq have to do with science and nature? Clearly Steven Pinker believed there was something to do with science or nature there.

I think the solution to that puzzle is this: to the mind of an hereditarian like Pinker or Sailer, every single aspect of human culture, regardless of even the most obvious socio-political-environmental dynamic, is the direct result of genetics.

And this belief comes from the adaptationist essentialism at the heart of hereditarianism as noted by evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and again 22 years later by developmental biologist P. Z. Myers.

In his "science" article Sailer writes:
Cousin marriage averages not much more than one percent in most European countries and under 10 percent in the rest of the world outside that Morocco to Southern India corridor. Muslim immigration, however, has been boosting Europe’s low level of consanguinity. According to the leading authority on inbreeding, geneticist Alan H. Bittles of Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, “In the resident Pakistani community of some 0.5 million [in Britain] an estimated 50% to 60+% of marriages are consanguineous, with evidence that their prevalence is increasing.”
In part 2 of "The mind of a racist" we'll look at Sailer's more recent thoughts on Pakistanis.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Steve Sailer in "The Best American Science and Nature Writing" 2004

NOTE this was originally published on my personal blog in February 2018. I am reposting it here because I will be discussing it soon in a new post.

Ugh, I'm probably the only human being to read "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" since 2005.
Ugh


Steven Pinker and Steve Sailer go back to at least 2002 when Sailer interviewed Pinker about The Blank Slate. although he mentioned Pinker even earlier on his iSteve blog and used the term "human biodiversity" too. I haven't found Pinker mentioning Sailer publicly after 2011 when he used Sailer for a positive blurb for "Better Angels."

Sailer still talks about Pinker though, posting Pinker's PC video in a recent Unz column.

Pinker must have been aware of Sailer's attitudes about race by 2004. Sailer was already saying this kind of stuff in 1997:
On average, black men tend to appear slightly more and Asian men slightly less masculine than white men, while Asian women are typically seen as slightly more and black women as slightly less feminine than white women.
Obviously, these are gross generalizations about the races. Nobody believes Michael Jackson could beat up kung-fu star Jackie Chan or that comedienne Margaret Cho is lovelier than Sports Illustratedswimsuit covergirl Tyra Banks. But life is a game of probabilities, not of abstract Platonic essences. 
This is notable not only for what he says about race (and his identifying three races, black, white and Asian) but especially his use of "Platonic essences." I think the evo-psycho bros got the term "Platonic" in reference to race from Steve Sailer.

Turns out Sailer uses the term a lot, including the definition most people are familiar with, "non-sexual." But he uses other meanings more often. In addition to Platonic essences Sailer mentions Platonic archetype, idealism, idea, ideals, essentialism, universal, Temptation and form.

Sailer had also had a column at VDARE since 2000 and had published The Left Side of the Bell Curve in 2000 which says things like:
Thus, in the 1960s when American intellectuals imported Swedish sexual morals, along with Swedish-style welfare for unmarried mothers, it had few ill effects in Minnesota (traditionally the highest IQ state). But it proved an instant disaster for African-Americans.
I have yet to find Steven Pinker disavowing anything Sailer has ever said.

I can't guess what made Pinker think it was a good idea to include a known racist in a collection of science writing. Especially since "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" isn't really about science, unless you mean political science since Sailer doesn't get into the genetics of inbreeding except in passing.

The final paragraph:
In summary, although neoconservatives constantly point to America's success at reforming German and Japan after World War II as evidence that it would be easy to do the same in the Middle East, the deep social structure of Iraq is the complete opposite of those two true nation-states, with their highly patriotic, cooperative, and (not surprisingly) outbred peoples. The Iraqis, in contrast, more closely resemble the Hatfields and the McCoys.
It's interesting he didn't mention the third member of the Axis, Italy. We'll come back to that.

He is claiming that the history of feuds between the Hatfields and McCoys had something to do with inbreeding. Apparently since the families lived in West Virginia and West Virginia has a reputation for inbreeding hillbillies which is bogus Sailer decided to go ahead and conflate inbreeding with the feud. That's the level of scholarship we're talking about here.

By "reforming" Iraq what Sailer means is "rebuild Iraqi society in order to jumpstart the democratization of the middle east."

A quick glance at a Five-Thirty-Eight data form on global consanguinity by country indicates that Iraq is not the most consanguineous country in the world. It's number 16. Meanwhile Kyrgyzstan is number 7 and has a Presidential Republican form of government, like Bangladesh, which is only number 33 on the list. Croatia, which has the same form of government has a cousin marriage rate of 0.1% - less than the US with 0.2%.

So there doesn't seem to be any connection between a country's percentage of cousin marriages and form of government. But you couldn't expect Steve Sailer to do any research, he has his nice simple theory about cousin marriages and democratic reform and it's so much easier than doing any work.

And why should he work, when Steven Pinker will apparently include any old crap in "the best" American science and nature writing.

There's really no structured argument in this article, Sailer is all over the place. He uses the Bible as an example of "Middle Eastern norms" writing:
Jacob's dozen sons were the famous progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Due to inbreeding, Jacob's eight legitimate sons had only six unique great-great grandparents instead of the usual eight. That's because the inbred are related to their relatives through multiple paths.
And don't even get Sailer started on the incest problems with Adam and Eve's children! Sailer doesn't mention Adam and Eve but why not? They're in the Book of Genesis too.

Sailer cites Jacob's family as actual historical people. I can't wait until Sailer explains the genetics of how Jacob lived to be 147.

The only time Sailer talks about the genetics of cousin marriage is this:
Of course there are also other disadvantages to inbreeding. The best known is medical. Being inbred increases the chances of inheriting genetic syndromes caused by malign recessive genes.
He then gets into kin selection and declares that "nepotism is biologically inspired "- which is the standard evo-psycho literary atrocity since by definition nepotism is "inspired" by one's family connections. "Nepotism is biologically inspired" is a tautology.

And while Sailer admits that inbreeding is a medical risk, he should probably say that he believes it's also an indicator of high genetic intelligence. The evo-psychos as a group seem to be convinced that Azkenazi Jews are genetically the smartest "race" and yet Israel is number 29 on the cousin-marriage list and also the Ashkenazi Jews in particular are massively inbred. The Jewish magazine Forward reports:
A model based on the genetic sequencing of 128 Ashkenazi Jews concludes that today’s Ashkenazim descend from the fusion of European and Middle-Eastern Jews during the medieval era, between 600 to 800 years ago.
The math also indicates that today’s sprawling community of Ashkenazi Jews — there are more than 10 million around the world — derived from just 350 people or so. That previously postulated population bottleneck — a drastic reduction in population size — occurred between 25 to 32 generations ago, the scientists say.
The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications by a team headed by Columbia University’s Shai Carmon.
So apparently inbreeding makes Jews smarter but only makes Arabs incapable of democratic forms of government.

OK so now we get to the Italian issue. Sailer writes:
Are Muslims, especially Arabs, so much more loyal to their families than to their nations because, due to countless generations of cousin marriages, they are so much more genealogically related to their families than Westerners are related to theirs? Frank Salter, a political scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany whose new book Risky Translations: Trust, Kinship and Ethnicity takes a sociobiological look at the reason why Mafia families are indeed families, told me: "That's my hunch. At least it's bound to be a factor."
This is such a perfect evo-psycho paragraph. It sounds learned - hey, Max Planck Institute! - but when you actually try to figure out what he's getting at, it falls apart.

The actual description of the Salter book on Amazon is:
Trust is a central feature of relationships within the Mafia, oppressed minorities, kin groups everywhere, among dissidents, nationalist freedom fighters, ethnic tourists, ethnic middlemen, exchange networks of Kalahari Bushmen, and families subjected to Stalinist social control. Each of these types of trust is examined by a leading scholar and compared with the expectations of neo-Darwinian theory, in particular the theories of kin selection and ethnic nepotism.
A search of the book on "consanguinity" shows that the Mafia use three other relationship types besides consanguinity. In contrast to the reason Arab families "are indeed families" which Sailer claims is because they are related by blood. So where is the connection? Just because Salter takes a "sociobiological look"? And the best Salter can do is "that's my hunch." Wow, so scientific.

And by the way, Italy is rated as 0.6% on the cousin-marriage data sheet, lower than France, Sweden or Canada.

There's a fascinating article in the New Yorker from the last month called The Woman Who Took On the Mafia by Alex Perry. And the sexual politics among these mafia families, people evo-psycho bros would characterize as "white" (or European or possibly Mediterranean  depending on their mood) are every bit as regressive as the most traditional patriarchal tribe in the Middle East. Which should tell you that it's not about race or religion - both things that evo-psycho bros have used to explain when some groups of people in the Middle East are violent.

But they can never admit that it's socio-environmental and economic conditions that drive the behaviors and not genes or sacred texts. Because they have this whole simple paradigm set up, and in order to make it work, you have to deny environmental factors.

Evo-psycho bros sometimes admit environment is important but they have no actual theories on how environment impacts human behavior so they almost completely ignore it. That was the problem at the root of Pinker's "Better Angels" which the New Yorker trashed. If your primary way to explain human behavior is evolution, which is of course the point of evolutionary psychology, well you aren't going to be much good at explaining any changes in human behavior that happen in less than hundreds of thousands of years.

So why did Pinker include a poorly-reasoned, non-scientific explanation for Iraqi non-democratic tendencies in this collection? Well apart from blackmail I think it's most likely because Pinker didn't realize how bad it was himself, because Pinker is not a very good writer and not a clear thinker.