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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Get off Jerry Coyne's lawn, whippersnappers

Jerry Coyne, Steven Pinker's fanboy recently seen defending the IDW project to negate history, wants you to know he'll have none of this slang nonsense:

1.) “tea” as in “gossip” or “dirt”. “Spill the tea” is now the equivalent of “tell all” or “spill it”. The Urban Dictionary gives an example:
“Girl, did you know Renee is having ANOTHER baby? And the babby daddy is the same guy who she found out has been cheating on her!”
“OMG, spill the tea on that drama!!!!”
An example from this article in HuffPo:
to wit:Demi Moore’s new memoir is giving you all the tea you could possibly want about her life and then some.
This is odious. Why can’t they just say “juicy details” or “gossip”. The word “tea” here is the verbal equivalent to virtue flaunting—it’s “I’m with-it” flaunting. I have no use for such people.


"spill the tea" derives, like much of American slang, from African American vernacular

How dare they invent a term of which a race science-promoting old white man does not approve!

Just wait until he hears about that "jazz"!
A strange word has gained wide-spread use in the ranks of our producers of popular music. It is "jazz," used mainly as an adjective descriptive of a band. The group that play for dancing,  when colored, seem infected with the virus that they try to instil as a stimulus in others. They shake and jump and writhe in ways to suggest a return of the medieval jumping mania. The word, according to Walter Kinglsey, famous in the ranks of vaudeville, is variously spelled jas, jass, jasz, and jasez; and is African in origin....
Later on the article references the poem "Congo" which can be heard, read by author Vachel Lindsay here.

Click here to enlarge and read the article "The Appeal of the Primitive Jazz" from The Literary Digest, 1917. I found it online here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Outline article on modern phrenology

How might phrenology - original or modern -
explain the biologically-endowed
predilections of the sumptuary scofflaw?
I already liked the article in The Outline entitled People keep trying to bring back phrenology, especially this sentence:
Lately, the term “phrenology” most readily invokes the so-called “Intellectual Dark Web” — that loose network of hack popular scientists and race realists who consider themselves, bizarrely, to be in the business of “questioning orthodoxies” with the reactionary propaganda they promote to a blinkered audience of acolytes for profit.
before I realized they'd linked to Pinkerite in this one:
In part, this is because Quillette, the online magazine prominently associated with the intellectual dark web, has literally defended phrenology
I'd never heard of The Outline before. According to its about page:
The Outline is a new kind of publication founded by journalists and storytellers. We want to help you understand the world better, feed your curiosity, challenge your assumptions, and show you something new.
We’re dedicated to telling the right stories for right now, and our coverage is focused on the increasingly complex confluence of culture, power, and technology.
The problem with phrenology and its descendant "biosocial criminology" should be obvious after a brief moment of reflection: to understand criminals you have to understand what is classified as crime. Even hereditarians must admit that the concept of "crime" and systems of punishment do not exist in nature.

Things that have been criminal in the past include the theater, dancing and wearing clothing that was too fancy. And today, in some places, homosexuality and women traveling without official male permission are crimes.

And then there are studies like this one:
We found that, compared to their share in the population, blacks are almost twice as likely to be pulled over as whites — even though whites drive more on average, by the way. We also discovered that blacks are more likely to be searched following a stop. Just by getting in a car, a black driver has about twice the odds of being pulled over, and about four times the odds of being searched. Hispanic drivers, overall, are no more likely than whites to be pulled over, but much more likely to be searched... African Americans are much more likely to be searched after a stop than white drivers, but less likely to be found with drugs, guns, alcohol or other forms of contraband after discretionary searches.
But like all hereditarians, biosocial criminologists seek to eliminate all forms of knowledge, especially the historical record, to prioritize knowledge based on genetics and "evolution."

Or rather, their form of evolution which is to say one in which only natural selection - "adaptation" - counts as PZ Myers explains in this important and useful video.

And recently the queen of hereditarianism, Claire Lehmann was seen on Twitter demonstrating the IDW desire to eliminate history.

This discussion happened close to or on Columbus Day (it's an effort to track Lehmann's tweets because she's blocked Pinkerite.) It makes me wonder if that set Lehmann off because in the good old days the "empirical enterprise" of history ignored or downplayed the atrocities committed by European explorers like Columbus, but more recently, thanks in large part, I believe, to the work of Howard Zinn, the atrocities are less likely to be ignored.

Clearly Zinn's work still bothers the far-right, the people who believe in the supreme glory of European culture, as shown in this recent piece on the Federalist, a publication by Ben Domenech (fired three days after being hired, for plagiarism, from the Washington Post), and which is funded by... nobody knows.

John Jackson in his Fardels Bear blog, notes the same hostility to history from another member of the IDW as well as his fanboy Jerry Coyne:
Coyne, Pinker, and the like object, not to postmodernism but to history. Thomas Kuhn wrote of scientists’ “textbook histories” of science; those little potted histories you might find at the beginning of an undergraduate science textbook that recount the great achievements of the field. These achievements, Kuhn wrote were “seldom in their original form,” which means that those histories were designed to trumpet scientific success without being bothered with what really happened in science’s past. This is the kind of history preferred by Coyne who actually recommends Pinker’s account of the Enlightenment which real historians of the Enlightenment find completely unsupportable (also here or here). Or see my treatment of his caricature of the history of science he presented in the Blank Slate. 
But to truly understand the wrong-headed anti-history project of the IDW we need to read Razib Khan, who has been encouraged by Pinker:
If we removed all the history that we take for granted we’d be amazed that the indigenous peoples had so little demographic impact, and, that the larger numbers of people of partial African ancestry did not move into the general “white” population. 
"If we removed all the history" - that's what the IDW is aiming for.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Quillette on a downhill slide

Quillette, the modern phrenology publication, has always been crap. This was predictable since it was founded by one of Ezra Levant's alt-right content creators, misogynist race science proponent Claire Lehmann.

For a brief while there, things were looking good for Quillette. But all during 2019 things have been going downhill.

It should be noted that Quillette's Patreon account does not display its numbers so Graphtreon, whose dashboard for Quillette can be seen below, uses an estimate.

It's interesting to note that Quillette's patron numbers are on a sharper decline trajectory than its donations. Which means a more concentrated funding base for Quillette, and probably a higher percentage of plutocrat funding. We know that Quillette does get funding directly from a right-wing Australian plutocrat, Mark Carnegie, and from others (my guess is Koch) whom Claire Lehmann has declined to name.

Even if Quillette received no funding via Patreon, it's likely it would continue to be supported thanks to wingnut welfare. But it is still encouraging to see that more people are catching on to how very little use Quillette is for anything other than disseminating right-wing opinions and support for race science. And we mostly have Nassim Nicholas Taleb to thank for raising awareness about Quillette.

Another fun fact - when you type "Quillette" into Google, this is what you get. I think the growing group of Quillette opponents on Twitter, in addition to Taleb, deserve credit for "quillette phrenology."

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Another race massacre & the ongoing IDW project to erase African American history

Pinkerite has written about grifter James Lindsay, author at Quillette in the past, focusing on his refusal to admit who paid him to run the "grievance hoax" and his bizarre conspiracy theory that women's studies are sleeper cells created to "rot society from within."

This tweet demonstrates his commitment to one of the primary tactics of the IDW:  deny the history of African Americans, a history inextricable from racism.

Erasing African American history is necessary to maintain the IDW position that failure to thrive by black people in the United States is not due to legal and extra-legal injustice over four centuries, but rather African Americans' own innate lesser intelligence and criminal tendencies, a belief promoted by a network of individuals in criminology departments in colleges across the United States.

Note that in this tweet Lindsay doesn't express criticisms of the author or the content of the book - he objects to children being told about racism, period.

And this is perfect timing for Lindsay since the New York Times just ran, the day before, a story about yet another massacre of black people by the white majority, an atrocity I'd never heard of. From the story:
One hundred years ago this week, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in American history unfolded in Elaine, Ark., a small town on the Mississippi. Details remain difficult to verify. The perpetrators suppressed coverage of the events, and the victims, terrified black families, had no one to turn for help. In fact, local police were complicit in the killing of untold numbers of African-Americans.
Pinkerite has noted the fact that there are far more of these race massacre incidents throughout American history than is generally recognized. And considering how under-reported even horrifically violent incidents are, it seems reasonable to assume there are many others that have not been recorded at all, because they merely resulted in looting of African American wealth and prospects for creating wealth. The excellent 1619 project details the systemic fraud used to rob African Americans.

The NYTimes article about the Elaine massacre includes this:
Families of union members found no welcome when they returned to their homes. The wife of Frank Moore had hidden for four weeks. When she came back to her neighborhood, a plantation manager, Billy Archdale, told her “if she did not leave, he would kill her, burn her up, and no one would know where she was.” Most of those who survived found their homes emptied of possessions that appeared in white peoples’ homes.
Another tactic used by the IDW is to suggest that exactly because African American history is full of so much injustice, those who discuss injustice are blind to what's really important - genetics - as Sam Harris said to Ezra Klein:
 you are unwilling to differentiate scientific fact and scientific data and reasonable extrapolations based on data, from past injustices in American history, these are totally separate things —
Harris, one of the more respectable members of the IDW (in contrast to people such as Stefan Molyneux and Mike Cernovich) is pushing the idea that American history should be "differentiated" from scientific fact, data and "reasonable extrapolations."

John Paul Wright, criminology professor at the University of Cincinnati, explained the thought processes behind the IDW's hereditarianism like this:
...evolutionary theory helps explain why race-based patterns of behavior are universal, such as black over-involvement in crime. No other paradigm organizes these patterns better. No other paradigm explains these inconvenient truths.
The only way the hereditarian explanation can win is to erase the most important alternative explanation for "black over-involvement in crime."

The NYTimes article about the Elaine massacre includes this passage (my highlight):
On Oct. 7, Colonel Jencks declared the insurrection over and withdrew his troops. He brought the men and women deemed insurrectionists to the Phillips County jail in Helena. On Oct. 31, a grand jury indicted 122 black men and women for offenses ranging from murder to night riding. A jury convicted 12 black men in the murders of three white men, even though two of the deaths had occurred from white people accidentally shooting each other in a frenzy. The “confessions” of the black men had been secured through torture. Black people were thus blamed, sentenced and jailed for their own massacre.
That is the goal of the Intellectual Dark Web: to blame black people themselves, via the wrong-headed, adaptation-essentialist hereditarian version of "evolutionary theory" for the results of centuries of oppression.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Quillette, Phrenology and Biosocial Criminology

The people behind a couple of Twitter accounts I follow got together to discuss "human biodiversity" - Kevin Bird was interviewed for the "Embrace the Void" podcast.

It's an interesting discussion and you should listen to it.

But I have two objections that are related to each other - the first is that they agreed that Quillette isn't technically a pro-phrenology publication. The second, I felt they struck an overly optimistic note on the current status of "human biodiversity" in Academia.

(Also a minor correction - the Pioneer Fund predates WWII by two years.)

I've edited this exchange a little indicated by ellipses. The transcript starts with minute 54:46 of the published interview.

So if you had to predict or guess, where do you feel the human biodiversity movement is heading in ten years or so...
So I imagine there's still going to be people making claims based on whatever the new techology is, it's pretty much been around since Galton in the early 20th century and since the eugenics movement was really popular and widespread. And the only thing that's making me hopeful is the group is losing legitimate figureheads because the rest of mainstream science is moving without them, it's moving past their ideas. Francis Galton was a hugely impactful field-changing scientist and he was a racist and a eugenicist, like through and through. Then you fast forward -
That happens you know.
Eugenics really phased out of popularity after WWII for very obvious and understandable and valid reasons. And it resurged again after people who were previously racist and eugenicist were no longer in the limelight and so they started forming shadow organizations like the Pioneer Fund and they found people like Richard Lynn and J. Phillippe Rushton and Linda Gottfredson and they started creating a new race science factory with really prominent psychologists...
(discussion of "Superior" review in Quillette by Bo Winegard and Noah Carl)

...wasn't that the article where they mention craniometrics?
That's the one that got everybody to call Quillette "Phrenology Magazine," which is perfect.
Which is technically not accurate...
...Crainiometry was a methodology used for phrenology and inferences made from phrenology but they are not isomorphic things. I still think that calling them phrenologists is true in spirit and so I hold steadfast to doing it but literally it is inaccurate...
...what's happened now is there is no-one with the same legitimacy and power in the field that Galton had or that Richard Lynn had or Arthur Jensen, as time has moved on and as the rest of the fields of science related to these questions have recognized them to be lacking in evidence and justification it has become less popular and less credible people are the figureheads of the movement and so I hope that in a couple of decades there are not people with the reputation in the field who are also spearheading these sort of race science movements like there have been in the past. It's already largely fizzling out within Academia and so once that happens it's a different ballgame the same way as dealing with creationist and climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers is different because they're not actively infiltrating Academia to produce research in align - like formal Academic reputable research...  
I've previously written that in fact it is accurate to claim Quillette supports phrenology, they published a defense of phrenology by Samuel Forster, at the time a criminology undergraduate and who now edits a magazine called Banter, which appears to be a member of the Quillette media family, featuring an interview with grifter James Lindsay, and Areo editor Iona Italia.

In the article Forster makes the connection between phrenology and "biosocial criminology," but he isn't the only one. I recently found a thesis called Biosocial Criminology Versus the Constitution by Karen E. Balter for her Masters in Criminology at Regis University, a Catholic college in Denver. 

In spite of the title, Balter is very much in favor of biosocial criminology, and she is clearly influenced by the leading proponents of biosocial criminology, citing people like Kevin Beaver, Brian Boutwell and yes, John Paul Wright many times. 

As always with biosocial criminologists, her concern is political correctness and she mentions the Lawrence Summers controversy:
Ultimately, Summers resigned. There were various reasons for his action. One reason for his departure revolved around what he said in that speech and the media’s interpretation that Summers was sexist. His comments were based on recognized academic research that supported what he said. However, Beaver and Nedelec (2015) explain that his delivery could have been less callous, and that he could have offered statements that qualified his position. The debate continues, and history provides an explanation.
The Summers controversy had nothing to do with criminology but rather with Summers' hereditarian position that women's brains are innately inferior to men's brains when it comes to STEM subjects. What connects the Summers incident with the concerns of biosocial criminologists is getting their hereditarian message across with less controversy - "less callous."

As with the Forster article in Quillette, Balter finds fault with Lombroso not because she has a problem with phrenology but because Lombroso gave it a bad reputation and she even presents an example of other critics (besides me) who believe this to be true of biosocial criminologists:
The 21st century finds Carrier and Walby (2014) claiming that “Lombroso’s legacy is typically that of embarrassed and patronizing heirs” (p. 14). Biosocial criminologists, according to Carrier and Walby, leave behind atavistic determinism and replace it with what appears to be a more acceptable picture of the same. In other words, today’s biosocial criminologists simply changed the vernacular contained in their research to what they call biopathologization [sic]; everything is a biological disease process.
And Balter admits:
Biocriminology owes its earliest roots to phrenology through its use of biology to explain social behaviors (sociobiology), selective behavior (evolutionary criminology), and the effect of environment on behavior (Rafter et al., 2016).
It's not surprising that a concern of biosocial criminologists is inventing ways to make their positions more palatable. "Human biodiversity" has found a comfortable niche in Academia through Biosocial Criminology and as the title of the Balter thesis makes clear, they know eventually the issue will come to whether the laws of the United States will accept the argument of Biosocial Criminology that its version of phrenology - not head bumps but skin color - is a valid methodology to determine who is likely to have a biologically-endowed inclination to commit crimes. 

What the Larry Summers hereditarian pity parties never mention is that three years after Summers resigned from the Harvard presidency he joined the Obama administration. Poor Larry Summers, destroyed by political correctness.

And Kevin M. Beaver does not seem to have suffered from his phrenology-rooted beliefs. He is currently doing very well as the Judith Rich Harris Professor of Criminology · Director, Distance Learning Program at Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

And in the latest book listed on his FSU page, Advancing Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy, published by the very respectable Routledge, Beaver, with Joseph A. Schwarz writes in the chapter "The utility of findings from biosocial research for public policy":
The biosocial perspective has quickly become one of the leading areas of research within the field of criminology. During the past decade, there has been a tremendous amount of scholarship examining the various ways in which biosocial factors are associated with criminal involvement, delinquency, criminogenic traits and other forms of antisocial behavior. Despite the vast amount of biological research produced over a relatively short period of time, there remains significant concerns regarding this line of inquiry. Of all the criticisms leveled against biosocial research, perhaps those dealing with public policy implications have been the most acrimonious and tenacious. Critics can often be heard arguing that biosocial findings will inevitably lead to a new eugenics movement, that they will justify the use of even more punitive sanctions, and that they will shift attention away from treatment and rehabilitation to harsher forms of incarceration and punishment (Beaver 2013). Following this line of reasoning, biosocial studies, and those scholars conducting such research are either knowingly or unknowingly advocating for the implementation of oppressive policies designed to subjugate criminal offenders.

These critiques regarding the policies that could stem form biosocial research, however, are largely unfounded and likely to originate from a lack of understanding of the biosocial perspective and a misperception regarding the meaning of biosocial findings...
John Paul Wright is cited many times in this book. And Beaver edited a book, Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research in which Wright says:
Page 149:...Areas afflicted by crime and other social pathologies are more frequently black than white, and even less frequently Oriental. Part of the reason for these visible and dramatic differences may have to do with the differential abilities of races to organize socially.

Page 150: From the available data it would seem ludicrous to argue that "race" is a construct devoid of a biological or evolutionary backdrop. That evolutionary forces have produced biological variance across races is now scientifically undeniable. That many of the characteristics that define races appear to be universal and time stable is also undeniable. Evolution can produce many forms of adaptations, but it cannot produce equality.
The connection between race and criminal behavior is clearly complex and involves a range of historical, social, psychological and individual variables. Evolution however, provides a powerful mechanism to understand the development of human races and the distribution of traits and behaviors within and across races. It helps explain why races would appear and under what conditions races would appear. It helps to explain why certain traits would be beneficial and why these traits such as higher IQ, would be unequally distributed across races. Moreover evolutionary theory helps explain why race-based patterns of behavior are universal, such as black over-involvement in crime. No other paradigm organizes these patterns better. No other paradigm explains these inconvenient truths.
So it's rich that Beaver and Schwarz would claim that critics have a misguided understanding of the "biosocial perspective" - thanks to Wright, and Beaver himself for including Wright's chapter on the "Inconvenient Truth" of African American criminality in the book he edited, the world can see exactly how racist the biosocial perspective is.

Beaver understands exactly how extreme his positions are. But Beaver's delivery is "less callous" than Wright's even when Beaver appears, twice, on the YouTube channel of white supremacist Stefan Molyneux to promote his biosocial criminology theories to a very receptive Molyneux.

It should be no surprise that Linda Gottfredson and Charles Murray are also cited in the Advancing Criminology book. Beaver is a fan of The Bell Curve as he recounts in his recruitment narrative in the introduction to The Nurture Versus Biosocial Debate in Criminology: On the Origins of Criminal Behavior and Criminality:
One of the key discussion points that repeatedly emerges when talking with biosocial scholars is how they converted to the biosocial perspective. Take, for example, the experiences of two of us (Boutwell and Barnes). Perhaps most fortuitous was that Beaver was a new faculty member - already deeply enmeshed in the biosocial perspective - when Brian Boutwell and J. C. Barnes arrived at Florida University (FSU) for their graduate studies. Like most students, they entered into the program with very little background in biology, genetics and evolutionary psychology. Boutwell completed his doctoral training in criminology. Barnes studies criminology and criminal justice, also receiving a doctorate in criminology. Our exposure, though, was to the same concepts, theories, and ideas that most of our colleagues experienced in their graduate and undergraduate training in various sociology, political science, and criminology/criminal justice programs. How, then, did we arrive at our current stance that biosocial research is perhaps the most appropriate method for studying human behavior?

Boutwell’s conversion to biosocial science occurred during his first semester in graduate school at FSU. Many of the graduate students elected to enroll in a class known as Proseminar. In the course, a different faculty member would lecture each week regarding his or her particular substantive area of research, offering the students a broad overview of what the faculty as a whole was doing within the college. It was intended, in many ways, to jump start potential mentoring relationships between new students and current faculty. Each week, following the lecture, a group-based reaction paper was due, which included a general response to the topic of that week's presentation. Brian's group was assigned to write a reaction paper to the lecture given by Kevin Beaver. That week, Kevin discussed the broad strokes of biosocial research, offering a very general overview of the basic concepts and ideas. The reaction paper, interestingly enough, expressed concern and reservation regarding the dangers and moral questionability of biosocial research. On further reflection, however, Brian felt somewhat guilty about this incorrigible stance on a body of research he knew nothing about; he sought Beaver out for a further conversation. That conversation blossomed into a broader discussion, which eventually led to collaboration, publication, and ultimately a mentoring relationship that continues to this day (Boutwell & Beaver, 2008).

Barnes' conversion to biosocial research involved far less resistance. He enrolled in FSU's doctoral program via the University of South Carolina's (USC) Master's program. Though he was not attending FSU with the intention of becoming a biosocial scholar, he was introduced to Kevin during his first semester and quickly developed a mentor-mentee relationship. Early discussions between Beaver and Barnes were not particularly "biosocial"but more broadly concerned current theoretical explanations of antisocial behavior. At some point J. C. and Kevin conjured up a paper idea, which J. C. was to take the lead on. The paper required a brief discussion of genetic factors related to human behavior. J. C., recalling a lecture from his time at USC, pulled his notes from a filing cabinet and was surprised to find that he had taken extensive notes on the subject and had even written in the margins of several papers comments such as "this is the type of research I want to do."

Within a year of each other, Boutwell and Barnse because immersed in the work of behavior geneticists, psychiatrists, molecular geneticists, developmental psychologists, neuroscientists, and biologists. Terrie Moffatt and Avshalom Caspi's work, for instance, revealed the intimate connection between environment and genotype, and how ignoring either one produces an incomplete picture of human development. Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, along with other eminent scholars like Richard Lynn, Hans Eysenck, and Linda Gottfredson, revealed the far-reaching importance for traits like human intelligence on a host of outcomes that criminologists and sociologists spend great deal of time trying to understand. The writing of Judith Rich Harris, perhaps one of the most important yet least appreciated of child developmentalists ever, shook many of their closely guarded beliefs about the role of parenting in child development. And of course, the writings of Charles Darwin illustrated in a broad sense what true science should look like - unashamedly based in fact, carefully constructed, and logically assembled in a testable and falsifiable manner. The list could go on. Ultimately, the evidence for Brian and J. C. became too overwhelming. Human behavior was a product of biology and the environment. In some cases, biology appeared to matter more, and in some cases it appears to matter less. But in no instance was there a complete irrelevance for either biology of the environment when studying human behavior. Both are intimately intertwined and simply must be studied in all their interwoven complexity. For all three of us, there was no way around this fact. To operate in a void, only offering passing lip service to the importance of biology was simply not going to be good enough.

Oddly enough, however, it has recently become almost "fashionable" to do biosocial research. Indeed, on might argue that setting up a "debate" between sociology and biology is tantamount to erecting a straw man. As we have already mentioned, certain lines of research (like findings in molecular genetics) have yet to penetrate some of the top journals in criminology. More important, there are still areas that are staunchly off limits to biosocial scholars. Consider the experience of one of the editors while sitting in his office on campus. The door was open and a colleague entered to chat. The conversation was pleasant, until the visitor noticed a copy of Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve (1994) lying on the desk. This realization prompted an odd look from the colleague followed by a very interesting question, which we paraphrase here: "Why would you read such a book. Don't you realize that it is a dangerous piece of literature?" You might have thought a rattlesnake lay curled on the desk. The idea had never entered the editor's mind that the book, or any of its ideas, was dangerous. The editor responded by asking whether the individual had read the book. The response was a resounding "no," why spend timer reading something that simply had to be false?

Though it is a mere anecdote, the collegial conversation represents in a microcosm our experiences since converting to biosocial research. Indeed, there is evidence bearing on a larger trans int he field (Wright et al., 2008). A general rejection of biosocial research is clearly illustrated by Wright and colleagues' analysis of over 6000 criminology/criminal justice faculty members across 33 doctoral granting programs in the discipline. Of those faculty members, 12 reported any time of training or interest in the incorporation and examination of biological factors in relation to overt from of antisocial and aggressive human behavior. As Wright and colleagues note, that represents a whopping 2% of the scholars who are responsible for training the next generation of criminological scientists. If one thinks that the filed has moved past the need for a debate, perhaps one should reconsider.
So Kevin M. Beaver, a leading proponent of biosocial criminology is just chugging along with a nice career, "converting" undergraduates to the belief that black people have evolved to be more inclined to criminality than other "races." Publishing books and papers, appearing on white supremacist YouTube channels, promoting the work of Charles Murray, Linda Gottfredson and John Paul Wright and suffering no consequences at all. Not even close to the terrors endured by Larry Summers before he joined the Obama administration. Although I am surprised that Beaver hasn't been asked to join the Trump administration, his views on race would not be out of place there.

So no, I would not agree with Kevin Bird that human biodiversity has not infiltrated Academia. They are just hiding in plain sight, trying to be "less callous" in delivering their truth about African Americans, after those lapses, like publishing John Paul Wright's blunt explanation of biosocial criminology beliefs or appearing with Stefan Molyneux.

Eventually, when the biosocial criminologists have enough converts and enough funding from plutocrats, they will begin their mission: to ensure police departments are aware of the new phrenological methodology of identifying criminals by their skin color.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Apparently you can make this stuff up ~ Steven Pinker and the non-ban of James Flynn

Steven Pinker continues to aid and abet the Quillette grievance grift.

This time, Quillette published an article by well known intelligence researcher James Flynn in which he claims that his book was "banned" by his publisher.

Pinker echoes the term "banned" in this tweet.

But he wasn't actually banned. He submitted his work to Emerald Publishing in Great Britain and they rejected it and explained why:
I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. By the nature of its subject matter, the work addresses sensitive topics of race, religion, and gender. The challenging manner in which you handle these topics as author, particularly at the beginning of the work, whilst no doubt editorially powerful, increase the sensitivity and the risk of reaction and legal challenge. As a result, we have taken external legal advice on the contents of the manuscript and summarize our concerns below. 
There are two main causes of concern for Emerald. Firstly, the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. For example, one test is merely whether it is “likely” that racial hatred could be stirred up as a result of the work. This is a particular difficulty given modern means of digital media expression. The potential for circulation of the more controversial passages of the manuscript online, without the wider intellectual context of the work as a whole and to a very broad audience—in a manner beyond our control—represents a material legal risk for Emerald. 
Secondly, there are many instances in the manuscript where the actions, conversations and behavior of identifiable individuals at specific named colleges are discussed in detail and at length in relation to controversial events. Given the sensitivity of the issues involved, there is both the potential for serious harm to Emerald’s reputation and the significant possibility of legal action. Substantial changes to the content and nature of the manuscript would need to be made, or Emerald would need to accept a high level of risk both reputational and legal. The practical costs and difficulty of managing any reputational or legal problems that did arise are of further concern to Emerald. 
For the reasons outlined above, it is with regret that Emerald has taken the decision not to publish your manuscript. We have not taken this decision lightly, but following senior level discussions within the organization, and with the additional benefit of specialist legal advice. I realize that this decision will come as a disappointment to you and hope that you will be able to find an alternative publisher with whom to take the work to publication.
As the rejection letter points out, the book might be actionable in the United Kingdom and they'd rather not take the legal risk of publication.

As with the James Damore controversy, Quillette is ready to take a stand against the right of a private enterprise to make its own decisions about its best interests.

And in fact James Flynn, a New Zealander, could look for another publisher, like say, in New Zealand, or even self-publish. Apparently the right to a platform, regardless of the opinion of the owner of the platform, is what "free speech" means to the right-wing Quillette and IDW gang.

The big enemy here is the government of the UK with its restrictive speech laws. But Quillette has a narrative that says that the left is oppressing free speech, especially of right-wing views, especially race science. And they are not interested in an anti-UK narrative. So instead they spun the story as a "ban" - and Steven Pinker went right along with it.

Quillette fans understand what the correct narrative is supposed to be, in spite of the facts stubbornly refusing to conform with the narrative.

What surprised me most from this little incident was all the people who had no idea Steven Pinker has a long and friendly association with Quillette:

As readers of this blog know, Pinker has been retweeting Quillette articles, especially race science articles, for years, and even published a piece in Quillette.

And of course Pinker was a booster of race science careers long before Claire Lehmann, Australian correspondent for the right-wing extremist Rebel Media, founded Quillette.

So it's clear that this Pinkerite blog is still necessary to continue letting the public know who Steven Pinker really is.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

UPDATE: Virginia reconsiders its devotion to race science

Recently Pinkerite noted the state of Virginia was being sued for requiring self-classification of race for marriage licenses.

The good news is Couples in Virginia Can Marry Without Disclosing Their Race
The attorney general said denying a marriage license for a couple’s refusal to disclose their race poses “serious constitutional questions.” New forms include a “declined to answer” option.
The article links to the list of races provided by Virginia, and it's amazing. The race science proponents of Quillette could never be so imaginative. Among the races listed are "English," "French" and "English-French," "European, " "Jackson (Jack) White " (???) , "Japanese" and "Nipponese," "Octaroon" and "Quadroon," "Red" and "Zorastrian" (the last is a religion.)

But hey, who is to say they are wrong, since the presumed experts on race, the proponents of race science have declared that you can invent any race classification system you like, as long as it works for you maaaaahn.

For the record here are some of the race science categories proposed by race science proponents:

The Winegard/Boutwell system:
Caucasians, East Asians, Africans, Native Americans, and Australian Aborigines
The Gottfredson/Molyneux system
Ashkenazi Jew, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, African-Americans, Africans
The system used by Kevin Beaver, J. C. Barnes , Brian B. Boutwell, J. Mitchell Miller, Rashaan A. DeShay, Norman White
White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Other
"Hispanic" is not a race in the same way that "white" and "black" are races, since Hispanics as a group have African and European and other ancestries, but in two of the "race" classification schemes above, they throw Hispanic in anyway. And the Winegard/Boutwell system mentions East Asians but not South Asians, so where does that leave people from India? Are they counting Indians as Caucasian? But yet Indians are counted as "black" in the race classification of England. Meanwhile, the Gottfredson/Molyneux system doesn't mention Native Americans at all, are they counting them in with Asians?

And amusingly, Brian Boutwell is represented by two difference systems, one which counts Hispanic as a race, and one which does not.

It's a big steaming mess, the race classification systems of race science. But as the Winegards and Boutwell make clear, you can invent a system that is useful to you. And to hell with standards, reason, coherence or empiricism.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Race science & 18th century classifications

Johannes Blumenbach did not find the Sami people
of Finland aesthetically pleasing so he
considered them separate from other "Caucasians."
I got into a battle recently on Twitter with one of the more blatantly white supremacist proponents of race science, over my piece "On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism" reaches its apotheosis."

The white supremacist, who goes by a pseudonym and appears to fancy themselves quite the science expert, did not seem to get the point of the article which is this:
This logical disconnect, between believing there are "white" and "black" races whose test scores can be compared, while at the same time holding that there is no empirical basis - or even just a standard that hereditarians can agree on amongst themselves - for race classification is the incoherent, insane foundation of hereditarianism - also known as "race science."
It's the logical disconnect - insisting one doesn't need to determine biological races empirically while at the same time insisting that "black" and "white" races exist as biological phenomena and you can compare their evolutionarily-endowed intelligence levels.

His argument was that taxonomists don't have empirical classifications for bacterium and so therefore it isn't fair to ask race science proponents for evidence-based classification schemes.

As a result I ended up diving into a number of articles on taxonomy. And it turns out the reason taxonomies are not completely empiricism-based is because taxonomies are in flux as scientists - real scientists, not race science proponents - reconsider traditional classifications.

The paper Virus taxonomy: the database of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) explains:
Taxonomic classification is a scientific endeavor whereby biological organisms are grouped together and placed into their proper taxonomic hierarchy based on the characteristics that form a unique descriptor identifying a particular organism. This research process is driven by individual scientists who publish their work, providing their evidence for the proposed classification. As new data are obtained either on the organisms previously studied, or on related organisms, the classification hierarchy may change. The principles, procedures, and nomenclature used to name taxa, is handled by one of the international organizations charged with developing the necessary guidelines. For example, naming of animal species is subject to the principles established by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (2,5). Naming of bacterial species is guided by the International Committee on Systematic Bacteriology (3).
I think it's safe to assume that the work of taxonomic classification is expected to be based on evidence, rather than say, whim as proposed by the Winegards and Brian Boutwell in their Reality of Race article:
...there aren’t a fixed number of film categories. The amount and the granularity of film categories depend upon the interests of the people using them. Your friend might use four (horror, comedy, drama, and science fiction), whereas Netflix might use an apparently limitless and startlingly specific supply. (See Daniel Dennett’s book for a variety of points and related examples centering on the topic of species).   
The same principles apply to racial categories. If one knows that Thomas is a Caucasian, one can be reasonably sure that Thomas has relatively light skin, and that he has recent ancestry in Europe. But racial categories, like film categories, aren’t immutable essences that perfectly sort humans into distinct groups.
The race science proponents, although they are happy to allow without complaint the likes of Stefan Molyneux and Linda Gottfredson to present their own race categories, complete with intelligence rankings, don't have anything like a commission on race nomenclature. Because, let's face it, that would be a lot of work, and it's much easier to publish poorly-vetted pseudoscience in a phrenology rag like Quillette or appear on a YouTube channel run by a white supremacist. And even worse for them, attempting to create an evidence-based race classification system might result in the abandonment of race as a biological reality altogether - which would be a serious problem for race-based careers, although not completely insurmountable thanks to wingnut welfare.

Linnaean taxonomy from 350 years ago was based primarily on appearance. DNA sequencing caused a reconsideration as with Procyonidae for example, as this Wiki explains:
There has been considerable historical uncertainty over the correct classification of several members. The red panda was previously classified in this family, but it is now classified in its own family, the Ailuridae, based on molecular biology studies. The status of the various olingos was disputed: some regarded them all as subspecies of Bassaricyon gabbii before DNA sequence data demonstrated otherwise.[5] 
The traditional classification scheme shown below on the left predates the recent revolution in our understanding of procyonid phylogeny based on genetic sequence analysis. This outdated classification groups kinkajous and olingos together on the basis of similarities in morphology that are now known to be an example of parallel evolution; similarly, coatis are shown as being most closely related to raccoons, when in fact they are closest to olingos
Real scientists change their views based on new information. They are not content to stick to a system invented in the 18th century.

In contrast, race science proponents are very happy to stick with 18th century race classifications as Bo Winegard demonstrates, and not only in his use of the term Caucasian. Winegard wrote a book review of Saini's "Superior" along with rightwing hereditarian Noah Carl and made it clear that race science is based on 18th century classifications:
In a well-known study, Noah Rosenberg and colleagues found that human genetic variation largely corresponds to broad geographic regions and, more compellingly, that it closely matches Johann Blumenbach’s 1781 classification of human morphological variation into five races: Caucasians, Americans (Amerindians), Ethiopians (Africans), Mongolians (East Asians), and Malaysians (Oceanians). When Rosenberg’s article was first published, it came under a certain amount of criticism. However, he and his colleagues responded robustly to these criticisms in a follow-up article. Among the most compelling findings reported in their follow-up is that if one samples subpopulations from the five major genetic clusters, those separated by a given geographic distance tend to be more genetically similar if they are from the same cluster than if they are from different clusters. This indicates that, although human genetic variation is mostly clinal, it is partly discontinuous. (Blumenbach’s typology is one of those Saini dismisses as “arbitrary” without offering any evidence or argument.)
Caucasian variety Colour white cheeks rosy hair brown or chestnut coloured head subglobular face oval straight its parts moderately defined forehead smooth nose narrow slightly hooked mouth small. The primary teeth placed perpendicularly to each jaw the lips especially The lower one moderately open the chin full and rounded In general that kind of appearance which according to our opinion of symmetry we consider most handsome and becoming To this first variety belong the inhabitants of Europe except the Lapps and the remaining descendants of the Finns and those of Eastern Asia as far as the river Obi the Caspian Sea and the Ganges and lastly those of Northern Africa.
Race science is still using "Hispanic" as a "race" as we saw when Stefan Molyneux and Linda Gottfredson included that category in their race-intelligence hierarchy.

The one thing that genetic testing won’t tell you is whether or not you are Latino or Hispanic. That’s because people from Latin America typically are a mix of European, African, and Native American ancestry. You might also find Middle Eastern, East Asian and Ashkenazi ancestry folded into your results. And as much as it is in the DNA, that rich mixture of ancestry is also embedded in the art, music, and food that make up Latino culture.
Another example is the  2014 NYTimes article by Carl Zimmer Black? White? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier which also uses information from 23 and Me:
On average, the scientists found, people who identified as African-American had genes that were only 73.2 percent African. European genes accounted for 24 percent of their DNA, while .8 percent came from Native Americans. 
Latinos, on the other hand, had genes that were on average 65.1 percent European, 18 percent Native American, and 6.2 percent African. The researchers found that European-Americans had genomes that were on average 98.6 percent European, .19 percent African, and .18 Native American.
Zimmer's article triggered Razib Khan and Steve Sailer because, as race-obsessed as they are, they understood what it meant: there's a clear disconnect between social race and biological ancestry. Although their defense was to marvel at how white European Americans are, while suggesting we should ignore the historical record (like the "one-drop rule" which explains everything about why "whites" are so white) and only look at DNA evidence to understand race.

The subjects of race science studies invariably self-identify their race, in spite of the fact that we've known for at least a decade that DNA ancestry is often at odds with social race identity. In the past few years there have been stories in the media about people who were completely wrong about their own ethnic ancestry.

 The blithe confidence of race science proponents in subject self-identiifcation was confirmed for me when I asked Kevin Beaver, responsible for "converting" (his word) college undergraduates to race science, whether he used DNA testing to establish subject ancestry. He responded via email:
In all of my research, I have analyzed secondary data which has only included self-identification of race/ethnicity.  As a result, I was never able to examine ancestry based on genetic testing.
And Kevin Beaver, far from criticizing Stefan Molyneux and his race classification scheme from a  December 2015 YouTube video, appeared on Molyneux's YouTube channel in May 2016. But Kevin Beaver has no problem with classifying "Hispanic" as a race, he himself considers Hispanic a race, as can be seen in his 2016 paper, co-written with J. C. Barnes , Brian B. Boutwell, J. Mitchell Miller, Rashaan A. DeShay, Norman White entitled Exposure to Pre- and Perinatal Risk Factors Partially Explains Mean Differences in Self-Regulation between Races.

Here is a chart, visible with the abstract in the link above, which presents five race categories: White, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Other.

In spite of their frequent self-presentation as heroes of reason and science, when the empirical data does not tell race science proponents what they want to hear, they are happy to toss out empiricism and as the "Reality of Race" article by Ben and Bo Winegard and Brian Boutwell recommends, classify race based on personal preference using 18th century concepts. Why not use "Hispanic" - or as in the case of the Rockland County, "Mulatto" and "Moor"? And then use those categories in your studies of "Self Regulation between Races"?

And that is what race "science" is all about. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The breath-taking double standards of Cathy Young and Christina Hoff Sommers

I was just writing about Cathy Young's toxic misogyny and blatant double-standards - her hatred of Kristen Roupenian for portraying a fictional man unflatteringly, contrasted with her admiration for Eron Gjoni, the evil freak who kicked off GamerGate by violating the privacy of his ex-girlfriend in retaliation for her breaking up with him.

But even I was absolutely thunderstruck by the incredibly shameless double-standard, publicly displayed by Sommers and Young in response to this tweet.

A woman spilled the dirt on the personal life of Aziz Ansari - she's bad.

A man spilled the dirt on the personal life of Zoe Quinn - he's good.

And the only factor that switches the hatred of Sommers and Young to admiration is gender. Plain and simple.

Christina Hoff Sommers and Cathy Young have to be the sleaziest, the stupidest and because of their obvious internalized misogyny, the most pathetic examples of public intellectuals I have ever seen this side of the loathsome Camille Paglia. I said, several months ago about them and Quillette's Claire Lehmann:
So although I think the Catty Persons' motivation is primarily financial I also think there is something about the characters of all three women - something twisted and damaged - that makes them so well-suited to their professional careers of incessantly attacking women and women's aspirations.
And wow, they seem to be determined to prove how right I was.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Brian Ferguson Interview

I talked with Rutgers University professor of anthropology R. Brian Ferguson about Steven Pinker, Napoleon Chagnon, Marvin Harris, anthropology, chimps and gangs of New York.

The interview happened in a diner in Manhattan so there is background noise.

The video has a transcript available and you can read it here too.

  • Introduction: 00:00
  • Brian Ferguson, Marvin Harris & Cultural Materialism 00:46 
  • Chimpanzees, War & History: Are Men Born to Kill? and arguments with Jane Goodall 04:29 
  • Evolutionary Psychology v Napoleon Chagnon 09:31 
  • Pinker's List 12:28 
  • How Jews Became Smart: Anti-'Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence' 18:53 
  • Origins of Gangsters in New York 23:09

Some links associated with this interview:
Papers by Ferguson
Books by Marvin Harris

"On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism" reaches its apotheosis

Steven Pinker promoting utter crackpottery
to his thousands of followers who have
confidence in his scientific opinions

I saw a tweet about this story today from the Associated Press:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Three couples planning to get married in Virginia have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a state requirement that they disclose their race on their marriage application. 
Civil-rights lawyer Victor Glasberg, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Alexandria, says the requirement is a vestige of Virginia’s Jim Crow laws and that Virginia is one of only eight states requiring marriage applicants to disclose their race. 
One Virginia county, Rockbridge County, provided a list of more than 200 potential races to a couple that questioned the requirement. It included “American,” ″Aryan,” ″Moor” and “Mulatto,” according to the lawsuit.
This is a perfect example of the race classification system promoted by Ben Winegard, Bo Winegard and Brian Boutwell published by Quillette entitled On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism which holds that you can classify "race" any way you wish:
...there aren’t a fixed number of film categories. The amount and the granularity of film categories depend upon the interests of the people using them. Your friend might use four (horror, comedy, drama, and science fiction), whereas Netflix might use an apparently limitless and startlingly specific supply. (See Daniel Dennett’s book for a variety of points and related examples centering on the topic of species).  
The same principles apply to racial categories. If one knows that Thomas is a Caucasian, one can be reasonably sure that Thomas has relatively light skin, and that he has recent ancestry in Europe. But racial categories, like film categories, aren’t immutable essences that perfectly sort humans into distinct groups. There aren’t a fixed number of racial categories, and the number researchers use is partially a matter of convenience. One might start with five continentally based categories (i.e., Caucasians, East Asians, Africans, Native Americans, and Australian Aborigines) and then add more categories as one’s analysis becomes more granular (e.g. Ashkenazi Jewish, Mizrahi Jewish, and so on). These categories aren’t real in some metaphysical sense, but they are useful, and they do have predictive value.  In this, they are like many other constructs in the social sciences such as self-esteem, intelligence, and agreeableness. They represent traits that cluster together; they predict outcomes; and they can be quantified.
But the absence of an empirical standard to determine race does not prevent the Winegard brothers from supporting the race classification system in The Bell Curve, which claims that lower test scores of "black" people compared to "white" is due in part to innate inferior intelligence of "black" people. 

This is called the hereditarian hypothesis. In their article entitled A Tale of Two Bell Curves published in, where else, Quillette, the Winegard brothers write:
Of course, there are other possible explanations of the Black-White gap, such as parenting styles, stereotype threat, and a legacy of slavery/discrimination among others. However, to date, none of these putative causal variables has been shown to have a significant effect on the IQ gap, and no researcher has yet made a compelling case that environmental variables can explain the gap. This is certainly not for lack of effort; for good reason, scholars are highly motivated to ascertain possible environmental causes of the gap and have tried for many years to do just that. 
For these reasons, and many more, in a 1980s survey, most scholars with expertise rejected the environment-only interpretation of the racial IQ gap, and a plurality (45%) accepted some variant of the hereditarian hypothesis.
This logical disconnect, between believing there are "white" and "black" races whose test scores can be compared, while at the same time holding that there is no empirical basis - or even just a standard that hereditarians can agree on amongst themselves - for race classification is the incoherent, insane foundation of hereditarianism - also known as "race science."

And alleged scientists like Steven Pinker and Jerry Coyne both promoted "On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism" to their thousands of followers. I posted Pinker's tweet for the article above. Jerry Coyne wrote:
On to “race”, a loaded word if ever there was one. Browsing through Quillette, I found a short but very good 2016 article about race by Bo Winegard, Ben Winegard, and Brian Boutwell, “On the reality of race and the abhorrence of racism“. It’s one of the more sensible pieces on race written for a popular audience, and takes the position I mentioned above; as the authors say, “Promoting a tolerant cosmopolitan society doesn’t require denying basic facts about the world.” Or, as they say, using italics to emphasize their view, “Racism isn’t wrong because there aren’t races; it is wrong because it violates basic human decency and modern moral ideals.”
Jerry Coyne, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution thinks this utter crackpottery is "one of the more sensible pieces on race written for a popular audience."

So to be crystal clear: the race science view of race, promoted by Coyne and Pinker is that there are biological races but we can't say exactly what those biological races are.

But clearly Coyne believes in biology-based classification systems even for human ancestry.

And we know that Coyne believes that human races/ethnicities/ecotypes "evolved different traits."
“Race” (or “ethnicity”, if you like that word better) is simply a term for human “ecotypes”: groups of different evolutionary ancestry that have evolved different traits.

So why do the actual scientists of race science refuse to push for an empirical standard of biological race classification?

We see the results of the failure to come up with a standard for race classification in the Rockbridge County system with its list of 200 potential races including  “American,” ″Aryan,” ″Moor” and “Mulatto."

And if you say, well those Rockbridge County people doubtless weren't scientists - is their system any different from the one proposed by the Winegards and Boutwell and endorsed by Jerry Coyne and Steven Pinker? After all, the Reality of Race article makes clear that each individual can invent their own classification system based on utility:
These categories aren’t real in some metaphysical sense, but they are useful, and they do have predictive value.
The government of Rockbridge County at some point decided that "Moor" and "Mulatto" were useful and have predictive value. And the "researchers" that the Winegards/Boutwell mention have no basis on which to tell them they are wrong. That's the beauty of the Netflix system of hereditarian race classification.

Now the question is whether proponents of race science are too mentally disorganized to understand the disconnect between claiming there are no clear race categories while at the same time claiming that different races "have evolved different traits" or if race science proponents understand the logic problem but are confident that the mentally disorganized people in their fan base don't understand the problem. And then there are those who like to hear that their bigotry is based on science, and so not racism at all, but rather an "abhorrence of racism."

I'm inclined to the stupidity rather than the malice hypothesis. But more research on the mental abilities of race science proponents needs to be done.

The actual sensible view of race is not from another piece of Quillette garbage but rather from one of the objecting brides-to-be:
In Arlington County, bride-to-be Ashley Ramkishun said she was told that if she objected to listing a specific race, she could list “other.” 
“We’re not others. We’re human beings,” she said.