Why Pinker? Why "Pinkerite"?

Hello and welcome to Pinkerite. Pinkerite is a podcast (and this related website) looking at race science and the Intellectual Dark Web with a focus on Steven Pinker. Why Pinker? According to Bari Weiss, who wrote the definitive article about the Intellectual Dark Web for the New York Times in May 2018, Pinker is the exemplar of Intellectual Dark Web respectability. She wrote: More

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Mankind Quarterly, The Pioneer Fund and The Bell Curve

I only just  recently learned of Mankind Quarterly and The Pioneer Fund in reference to The Bell Curve. Although the current archives of Mankind Quarterly only go back to 1982 and only provide abstracts, without a login, Unz Review, the former employer of evo-psycho bro Razib Khan and current employer of alt-right Steve Sailer, provides issues of Mankind Quarterly all the way back to the beginning, 1960, and you can download them in PDF format. They don't appear to be full issues, just individual articles.

And there are some doozies in there. I found a dire warning against race mixing in an article entitled Ales Hrdlicka on Race Deterioration and Race Destruction by Donald A. Swan from the January 1977 issue of Mankind Quarterly. Here is how it ends. I emphasized the last paragraph. WOW.
Nearly half a century has passed since the presentation of Professor Hrdlicka's paper on race deterioration and race destruction. During that time considerably more scientific evidence has been accumulated of the existence of large and significant differences between the primary races of man in cerebral morphology and on a variety of measures of behavior and intelligence. Specialized research designed to investigate the causes of these observed racial differences has demonstrated that genetic factors underlie these behavioral differences to almost the same degree as racial differences in anatomical, physiological, and biochemical traits. On the basis of these studies, it is evident that the white and yellow races are biologically more advanced and have attained a higher level on the evolutionary scale than the more primitive negrid and austrolid races. Consequently, mixture between the more advanced northern races and the more primitive tropical races can only be of disadvantage to the former and result in their racial deterioration.
For the United States of America, Hrdlicka's warning of nearly 50 years ago is still valid today—" assimilation of the colored population into the white is the one real cause of anxiety to those who contemplate the future of the American people."
Who is Donald A. Swan? Well now, let's see what Wikipedia says:
In 1966, Swan was arrested on mail-fraud charges. During the raid on Swan's apartment in Queens, New York, the police found Nazi memorabilia, weapons and ammunition.[2] 
A book by George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party was also found, as well as a photograph depicting Swan with American Nazi Party members.[3] 
Swan died in June 1981. After his death, Swan's papers were purchased and donated to Roger Pearson at the Institute for the Study of Man, under a Pioneer Fund grant of $59,000.[2][4]
I'd love to see the Pioneer Fund's financial statements. I did find an archived copy of the most recent, now defunct Pioneer Fund web site via the Wayback Machine.

I also found articles by Richard Lynn in Mankind Quarterly including this one, The Evolution of Racial Differences in Intelligence which provides details on the Northern Superiority hypothesis (I'm not aware of an actual name for it so I came up with one).

Lynn, like evo-psycho bro Brian Boutwell, is a guest at Stefan Molyneux's media outlets.

This is the same Richard Lynn who I discussed here, who claimed that the Irish are less intelligent than the English. Although I haven't found out how that fits in with his Northern Superiority hypothesis yet.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The New Yorker and The Better Angels

As far as the Quillette gang is concerned, evolutionary psychology - which they often conflate with evolutionary biology in order to paint skeptics as anti-science - contains The Absolute Truth about women and about non-whites. And anybody who doesn't go along 100% with the claims of people like Steven Pinker is in denial of human nature and - per Pinker - reality itself.

Here we see another low-nutritional-value piece of work in Hackette: It’s Time for Evidence-Based Gender Policy written by Teresa Gimenez Barbat.

She references Pinker indirectly:
We still don’t have a way to liberate political decision-making from ideologies, interests and emotions. I have been a member of the EU Parliament since November 2015, when I joined a liberal political group with a particular ideological orientation – ALDE – but for now there is no such thing as an autonomous intelligent robot doing the hard job for us. We have a bounded rationality and a political nature. This implies that political reasoning obviously does not operate from a “blank slate”, but in the context of the existing social institutions, constrained by a set of evolved adaptations, biases and inherited orientations that vary individually.
And she references Pinker directly:
I am persuaded that the Rights Revolution of the past few decades, including the fight for cultural delegitimization and legal prosecution of violence against women, carried out by the feminist movement, represents a clear example of moral progress. At the same time, I think a new “twist of the screw” is needed to include all the real victims – women, men, and children of both sexes – as Steven Pinker suggests in a chapter of his book The Better Angels of Our Nature

Kolbert writes:
Pinker names thinking itself as the ultimate pacifier. “One would expect that as collective rationality is honed over the ages, it will progressively whittle away at the shortsighted and hot-blooded impulses toward violence, and force us to treat a greater number of rational agents as we would have them treat us,” he writes.
Both evolutionary psychology (aka sociobiology) and the belief that ideas drive behavior - "idealism" are what Marvin Harris called "research strategies" which he contrasted with his own approach to understanding human culture, "cultural materialism."

Harris criticizes idealism - sometimes called "structuralism" here:
The intuition that thought determines behavior arises from the limited temporal and cultural perspective of ordinary experience. Conscious thoughts in the form of plans and itineraries certainly help individuals and groups to find a path through the daily complexities of social life. But these plans and itineraries merely chart the selection of preexisting behavioral "mazeways." Even in the most permissive societies and the richest in alternative roles, the planned actions - lunch, a lovers' tryst, an evening at the theater - are never conjured up out of thin air but are drawn from the inventory of recurrent scenes characteristic of that particular culture. 
The issue of behavioral versus mental determinism is not a matter of whether the mind guides action, but whether the mind determines the selection of the inventory of culturally actionable thoughts. As Schopenhauer said, "We want what we will, but we don't will what we want." Thus the human intuition concerning the priority of thought over behavior is worth just about as much as our human intuition that the earth is flat. 
To insist on the priority of mind in culture is to align one's understanding of socio-cultural phenomena with the anthropological equivalent of pre-Darwinian biology or pre-Newtonian physics. It is to believe in what Freud called "the omnipotence of thought." Such a belief is a form of intellectual infantilism that dishonors our species-given powers of thought. (Cultural Materialism, pp. 59 - 60)
Harris criticizes sociobiology (evolutionary psychology's identical twin) here:
It took billions of years for natural selection to create specialized adaptations for fishing, hunting, agriculture; for aquatic terrestrial and aerial locomotion; and for predatory and defensive weaponry, such as teeth, claws, and armor. Equivalent specialities were developed by cultural evolution in less than ten thousand years. The main focus of human sociobiology ought therefore to be the explanation of why other species have such minuscule and insignificant cultural repertories and why humans alone have such gigantic and important ones. 
But sociobiologists conceive their task to be something else - namely, the identification of the genetic components in human cultural traits. This represents a fundamental misdirection for human social science and a diversion of resources from the more urgent task of explaining the vast majority of cultural traits that do not have a genetic component. (Cultural Materialism, pp. 125)
As I demonstrated yesterday, Steven Pinker has no qualms in The Blank Slate about claiming any cultural phenomenon, even artistic fashions can be explained through evolutionary psychology. 

But he seems to have given up using that as the only explanation in Better Angels. But Pinker is still a sociobiologist at heart. So he uses both sociobiology and idealism and switches up whenever he wants.

Using more than one research strategy is what Marvin Harris calls "eclecticism":

I generally like the work of Marvin Harris because he advances clear and testable explanations, and I cite him favorably in several places in How the Mind Works. But his view of human nature is too narrow — everything boils down to calories. People have to eat, but they have to do other things as well, such as winning sexual and parenting partners, and that doesn’t fit into his one-dimensional, quasi-Marxist-materialist view of human nature. If he acknowledged that man does not live by bread alone, he would have contributed even more to anthropology.
Which reveals that Pinker understands fuck-all about cultural materialism. Which does not surprise me. Although at least he acknowledges Harris's clear and testable explanations, something you sure can't say about Better Angels. Kolbert writes:
Those developments which might seem to fit into his schema—a steady rise in the percentage of Britons who identify themselves as vegetarians, for instance—are treated in detail. Yet other episodes that one would think are more relevant to a history of violence are simply glossed over. Pinker is virtually silent about Europe’s bloody colonial adventures. (There’s not even an entry for “colonialism” in the book’s enormous index.) 
This is a pretty serious omission, both because of the scale of the slaughter and because of the way it troubles the distinction between savage and civilized. What does it reveal about the impulse control of the Spanish that, even as they were learning how to dispose of their body fluids more discreetly, they were systematically butchering the natives on two continents? Or about the humanitarianism of the British that, as they were turning away from such practices as drawing and quartering, they were shipping slaves across the Atlantic? And what does it say about the French that they liked to refer to their colonial project as la mission civilisatrice?
This demonstrates how Pinker fails to have any kind of intelligible organizing principle - he just bops around talking about whatever he feels like talking about, so if he finds vegetarianism in Great Britain more interesting than how the Spanish treated indigenous Americans, well that's what he's going to talk about, regardless of the relative significance of each phenomenon to the history of violence.

The result is that for all his words, Pinker provides no useful explanation for anything. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Barack Obama: race denier & Bell Curve critic

Before I get back to reviewing the incredibly bad scholarship of the Winegard bros on The Bell Curve, I want to take a side trip to discuss the political angle.

The defenders of Steven Pinker keep proclaiming that he can't possibly have any views in common with the alt-right because he's such a big liberal, as evo-psycho bro Jesse Singal said in his white-washing op-ed for the NYTimes:

The idea that Mr. Pinker, a liberal, Jewish psychology professor, is a fan of a racist, anti-Semitic online movement is absurd on its face, so it might be tempting to roll your eyes and dismiss this blowup as just another instance of social media doing what it does best: generating outrage.
Just a short note re yesterday’s post about accusations that Steve Pinker is a member of the alt-right simply because he called some alt-righters literate and intelligent in a discussion of how to keep people from becoming right-wing. I found on the Internet a list and discussion about Harvard donors to the Democratic Party, which apparently comes from “public filings” accessed by the Harvard Crimson. Among members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Pinker was the third largest donor to the Democratic Party...
But clearly Democrats don't all agree about race being something besides a social construct as Barack Obama makes crystal clear in his recent interview with David Letterman.
"The long view on human history... uh... it turns out that we come up with all kinds of reasons to try to put ourselves over other people. Racism is a profound example of that but obviously, biologically there's no actual reality to it other than we made this thing up. We made it up, over time what happens is, because it manifests itself in very concrete ways: slavery, Jim Crow, subjugation, it becomes a social reality and it ends up having very real impacts. It is true that African Americans on average are poorer than other Americans. Well it's not because of their race it's because of the social constructs over the course of three, four hundred years that made them poor."
Now it's still unclear if Steven Pinker agrees with the premise in the Bell Curve that African Americans are genetically intellectually inferior to everybody else, but he has no qualms about promoting the work and/or careers of those who do, including J. Phillippe Rushton, Arthur Jensen, Steve Sailer,  Razib Khan, Ben Winegard and Bo Winegard as I have demonstrated in this evo-psycho bros series.

And we certainly do know that Pinker thinks that anybody who refutes the notion that all humanity is divisible into discrete biological races denies reality as he clearly states in this video.
I've written a book on the concept, The Blank Slate the Modern Denial of Human Nature, about the idea that any aspect of human talent or temperament has any biological basis has often been seen as political and morally and emotionally incendiary in most of the 20th century. And in the book I try to analyze how one can sensitively deal with discoveries of a biological basis of human personality and intelligence including possible discoveries about genetics of group differences. I think it's safe to say that the current approach, or at least in recent decades was to deny the existence of intelligence, I mentioned "The Mismeasure of Man" as the foremost example, to deny the existence of genetically distinct human groups - there is a widespread myth that there is no such thing as race whatsoever, that it is purely a social construction and to call the people who don't do  this Nazis. But on the other hand there is a quotation, I don't know who's responsible for it: "reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it." In a way it does matter what our emotional reaction is to various findings, they are what they are..."
So Steven Pinker believes so strongly in the concept of biological race that he thinks anybody who disagrees with him denies reality itself.

So Steven Pinker thinks that Barack Obama is a a reality-denier

In spite of Pinker being a Democrat.

Ironically I came to find Obama's criticism of The Bell Curve via Razib Khan's old web site. He reposted it at Unz here. He got it from the NPR web site. This is 1994, when Obama was a civil rights lawyer and writer living in Chicago. I assume this is a transcript from an actual audio recording. How I would love to have access to the audio of Obama saying these words.

October 28, 1994
SHOW: All Things Considered (NPR 4:30 pm ET)
Charles Murray’s Political Expediency Denounced
SECTION: News; Domestic
LENGTH: 635 words
HIGHLIGHT: Commentator Barack Obama finds that Charles Murray, author of the controversial “The Bell Curve,” demonstrates not scientific expertise but spurious political motivation in his conclusions about race and IQ. 
BARACK OBAMA, Commentator: Charles Murray is inviting American down a dangerous path. 
NOAH ADAMS, Host: Civil rights lawyer, Barack Obama. 
Mr. OBAMA: The idea that inferior genes account for the problems of the poor in general, and blacks in particular, isn’t new, of course. Racial supremacists have been using IQ tests to support their theories since the turn of the century. The arguments against such dubious science aren’t new either. Scientists have repeatedly told us that genes don’t vary much from one race to another, and psychologists have pointed out the role that language and other cultural barriers can play in depressing minority test scores, and no one disputes that children whose mothers smoke crack when they’re pregnant are going to have developmental problems. 
Now, it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that with early intervention such problems can be prevented. But Mr. Murray isn’t interested in prevention. He’s interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically, the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it’s artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell. It’s easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray’s calculations. After watching their income stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, realor perceived, that minorities may enjoy. 
I happen to think Mr. Murray’s wrong, not just in his estimation of black people, but in his estimation of the broader American public. But I do think Mr. Murray’s right about the growing distance between the races. The violence and despair of the inner city are real. So’s the problem of street crime. The longer we allow these problems to fester, the easier it becomes for white America to see all blacks as menacing and for black America to see all whites as racist. To close that gap, we’re going to have to do more than denounce Mr. Murray’s book. We’re going to have to take concrete and deliberate action. For blacks, that means taking greater responsibility for the state of our own communities. Too many of us use white racism as an excuse for self-defeating behavior. Too many of our young people think education is a white thing and that the values of hard work and discipline andself-respect are somehow outdated. 
That being said, it’s time for all of us, and now I’m talking about the larger American community, to acknowledge that we’ve never even come close to providing equal opportunity to the majority of black children. Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children. Real opportunity would mean a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work, jobs that can return some structure and dignity to people’s lives and give inner-city children something more than a basketball rim to shoot for. In the short run, such ladders of opportunity are going to cost more, not less, than either welfare or affirmative action. But, in the long run, our investment should payoff handsomely. That we fail to make this investment is just plain stupid. It’s not the result of an intellectual deficit. It’s theresult of a moral deficit. 
ADAMS: Barack Obama is a civil rights lawyer and writer. He lives in Chicago.
You have to wonder if Pinker thinks that Obama is one of those contributing to making the public discussion about The Bell Curve "ignorant and dishonest."

Obama says: "...it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out that with early intervention such problems can be prevented..."

 In administering I.Q. tests to diverse groups of students, Professor Jensen found Level I ability to be fairly consistent across races. When he examined Level II ability, by contrast, he found it more prevalent among whites than blacks, and still more prevalent among Asians than whites. 
Drawing on these findings, Professor Jensen argued that general intelligence is largely genetically determined, with cultural forces shaping it only to a small extent. For this reason, he wrote in 1969, compensatory education programs like Head Start are doomed to fail.
Again, as I have demonstrated, Steven Pinker supports the work of Arthur Jensen, both directly as we see in this Boing Boing interview, and indirectly when he recommends the work of the Winegard bros, who constantly refer to Jensen in their work.

Pinker likes to pretend there are no political repercussions for racist swill disguised as science like The Bell Curve. But not for lack of "racial realists" trying as when Jensen proclaims Head Start was doomed to fail. The data show that Head Start did not fail.
Research has demonstrated strong long-term impacts of random assignment to high-quality preschool programs from the 1960s and 1970s, including Perry Preschool and the Abecedarian program. Head Start, the large-scale federal preschool program, has also been shown to improve post-preschool outcomes, including high school completion and health outcomes.
But if Jensen had his way, all those kids who did benefit from Head Start would not have, due to the assumption of their innate, racial, intellectual inferiority.

That is why people who really understand what Steven Pinker is all about, as PZ Myers does, express such disgust with Pinker and call him a lying right-wing shitweasel.

I want to add my support especially to the weasel epithet. I picked up on that aspect of Pinker long ago and said this in 2011:
Pinker is constantly inventing straw-man liberals and academics he can accuse of all kinds of awfulness, so it's always satisfying when the actual liberals at The New Yorker get a hold of his books and tell you how poorly-reasoned and all-around weaselly they are.
I really recommend the Letterman interview with Obama. Not only for Obama, who is wonderful of course, but because Letterman expresses regret that he wasn't more involved in the Civil Rights movement in his youth. Letterman in my experience has always been kind of a glib wise-ass, but he's incredibly sincere in this interview and tells Obama he's the only president he's ever really respected on a personal level. I was really surprised and impressed by Letterman.

And it's likely that David Letterman does NOT think that Barack Obama is a reality denier, unlike Steven Pinker. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The graphophobia present in Steven Pinker's fan base

This tweet is by Pinkerite Evan Sandhoefner
and this is his web site.
There's something that's puzzled me for some time about Steven Pinker's fan base. They seem to have a form of graphophobia.

I blogged about this in my personal blog some months ago, when one of Pinker's far-right fans, someone so racist he described famous white supremacist Jared Tayler as "a mild-manner statistician and dedicated proponent of freedom of association" suggested that the mere fact that I created a diagram "Steven Pinker's rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections" was an indication that I was a crazy paranoid.

I don't remember there being any similar suggestions among Pinker's fan base when Bari Weiss joined Pinker to Stefan Molyneux and other extremists in her article on the Intellectual Dark Web.

Go a click in one direction and the group is enhanced by intellectuals with tony affiliations like Steven Pinker at Harvard. But go a click in another and you’ll find alt-right figures like Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich (the #PizzaGate huckster) and Alex Jones (the Sandy Hook shooting denier).
For his part, Pinker praised the article. So what is the issue here? Do Pinkerites have a problem with the same information presented in graphic format that they are OK with when it is presented as text?

I find it very odd that the response of Pinker fans to my pointing out that Pinker indisputably promoted the career of white supremacist Steve Sailer when he included Sailer's (very bad) work in "The Best Science and Nature Writing of 2004" is NOT "that's awful that Steven Pinker promoted the career of a white supremacist" but rather "that bitch is crazy for pointing out that Steven Pinker promoted the career of a white supremacist.

There's just something about Pinkerites that makes them refuse to acknowledge Pinker's pro-race science activities.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Journalists have been failing us a long time on evolutionary psychology

Jesse Singal, given a platform to white-wash the public statements of Steven Pinker in the New York Times, thought he has a gotcha for those who criticize evolutionary psychology:

He's talking about Barbara Ehrenreich, leftwing writer and author of Nickel and Dimed a good piece of work.

Although I like some of her work I have issues with Ehrenreich. She's a Berniebro. She has idiotic ideas about the reason smoking was banned in New York City parks

But unfortunately for Singal, Ehrenreich doesn't agree with him about evolutionary psychology and The Bell Curve. This is not the first time I've asked concerning the output of an evo-psycho bro: do they read the work they citeHe links to an article Ehrenreich wrote in The Nation, twenty-one years ago. Please note the darker yellow section I highlighted.

So no, Singal, she's not on your side. She called The Bell Curve "pseudo-biology."

The failure on the part of journalists to seriously engage with the claims of evolutionary psychology is a constant. The failure is either because the journalist is already in the tank for evolutionary psychology, in the case of Singal, or they are intimidated by all the science talk.

 I wrote on this blog in 2011:
Now it's not surprising that Pinker has a hissyfit over the New Yorker review of his most recent book "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined." - Pinker is not accustomed to analysis by someone who is not baffled by his bullshit - and legions in the media are. Pinker is accustomed to being lionized and revered.
Here is a link to the New Yorker's review of Better Angels by Elizabeth Kolbert. It's almost as perfect a take-down of Pinker's idiocies as Louis Menand's review of The Blank Slate.

Back in 1994 Stephen Jay Gould, in his thorough review of The Bell Curve, discussed the problem:
The Bell Curve is even more disingenuous in its argument than in its obfuscation about race. The book is a rhetorical masterpiece of scientism, and it benefits from the particular kind of fear that numbers impose on nonprofessional commentators. It runs to 845 pages, including more than a hundred pages of appendixes filled with figures. So their text looks complicated, and reviewers shy away with a knee–jerk claim that, while they suspect fallacies of argument, they really cannot judge. In the same issue of The New Republic as Murray and Herrnstein's article, Mickey Kaus writes, "As a lay reader of 'The Bell Curve,' I am unable to judge fairly," and Leon Wieseltier adds, "Murray, too, is hiding the hardness of his politics behind the hardness of his science. And his science, for all I know, is soft.... Or so I imagine. I am not a scientist. I know nothing about psychometrics." And Peter Passell, in the Times: "But this reviewer is not a biologist, and will leave the argument to experts." 
The book is in fact extraordinarily one–dimensional. It makes no attempt to survey the range of available data, and pays astonishingly little attention to the rich and informative history of its contentious subject. (One can only recall Santayana's dictum now a cliché of intellectual life: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.") Virtually all the analysis rests on a single technique applied to a single set of data—probably done in one computer run. (I do agree that the authors have used more appropriate technique and the best source of information. Still, claims as broad as those advanced in The Bell Curve simply cannot be properly defended—that is, either supported or denied—by such a restricted approach.) The blatant errors and inadequacies of The Bell Curve could be picked up by lay reviewers if only they would not let themselves be frightened by numbers—for Herrnstein and Murray do write clearly, and their mistakes are both patent and accessible. 
I think this explains, at least partially, how Pinker has gotten away with supporting the careers of professional racists for over twenty years. There is a direct connection from The Pioneer Fund to J. Phillippe Rushton (who served as its president) to Steven Pinker who consistently promotes the work of Rushton and to the next generation, the proponents of "human bio-diversity" being groomed by Quillette, the Winegard bros.

And yet you still find journalists like Singal parroting the right-wing line that the only problem with evolutionary psychology is political correctness.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The question must still be asked: why does anybody take Sam Harris seriously?

Recently Sam Harris was sympathizing with Charles Murray, the heir to the racism-infused science of the Pioneer Fund, and got into a debate with journalist Ezra Klein.

Harris called out Ezra Klein on Twitter about the article.

Big mistake. Klein published this excellent piece Sam Harris, Charles Murray, and the allure of race science which caused Harris to have a meltdown.

It was widely agreed on Twitter that Harris made a big mistake in reprinting sans permission his exchange with Klein. It was left up to me to point out that Harris doubled-down on Murray's racism by offering as a defense a link to the Winegards article in alt-right Quillette "The Tale of Two Bell Curves" - I blogged about only a section of that article which took me five blog posts to cover, which can be read here:

Tale of Two Bell Curve responses:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Steven Pinker & Steve Sailer

Steven Pinker included Steve Sailer's piece on why Iraqis are too in-bred to have a democracy, in "The Best American Science and Nature Writing" in 2004 because of course he agreed with it. 

Contrary to Pinker's reputation as a serious intellectual, what I have found time and again on reading his work is that it is often based on unsupported and untestable assumptions, and a complete disinterest in data.

The latter is demonstrated by Pinker's claim - in the right-wing tradition - that marriage prevents violence in men, a claim completely contradicted by data, as I discuss here.

Here we see Pinker discussing in 2007 in an article in the New Republic, Sailer's piece "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" and of course he does not mention Sailer's inclination to white supremacy.
In January 2003, during the buildup to the war in Iraq, the journalist and blogger Steven Sailer published an article in The American Conservative in which he warned readers about a feature of that country that had been ignored in the ongoing debate. As in many traditional Middle Eastern societies, Iraqis tend to marry their cousins. About half of all marriages are consanguineous (including that of Saddam Hussein, who filled many government positions with his relatives from Tikrit). The connection between Iraqis' strong family ties and their tribalism, corruption, and lack of commitment to an overarching nation had long been noted by those familiar with the country. In 1931, King Faisal described his subjects as "devoid of any patriotic idea … connected by no common tie, giving ear to evil; prone to anarchy, and perpetually ready to rise against any government whatsoever." Sailer presciently suggested that Iraqi family structure and its mismatch with the sensibilities of civil society would frustrate any attempt at democratic nation-building.
The idea that there is a reverse correlation between cousin marriage and democracy is easy enough to debunk, as I did when writing about "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum" - by looking at the existing data on cousin marriage.

But as we have seen in the case of the magic of marriage, Pinker isn't interested in data if it's going to contradict his favorite sociobiological theories. 

It's true that it's easier to get data now on such things as consanguinity by country than it was in 2003 when Sailer published the piece, but that shouldn't matter - if Sailer and Pinker expect to be taken seriously on their claims about important issues, they should be expected to put a little work into backing their claims. 

And Sailer's "prescience" doesn't explain why, although Nigeria has a cousin-marriage rate of 51.2 - the highest in the world except for Kuwait and Burkina Faso, compared to Iraq's rate of 34.3, Nigeria is a democracy.

Pinker doesn't come up with arguments for why data doesn't tell the true story and thus why he and his friend Steve Sailer are correct in spite of data. Rather he completely ignores the existence of data.  It seems as though it has never even occurred to him that there might be data out there. His lack of intellectual curiosity is astounding.

And Pinker is the shining exemplar of scholarly respectability in the "Intellectual Dark Web" per Bari Weiss. This gives you some sense of what a joke the "Intellectual Dark Web" is.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Steven Pinker is radicalizing the alt-right

Pinker recommended to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers this article in alt-right Quillette entitled Heritability and why Parents (but not Parenting Matter) written by his old buddy Razib Khan and a criminologist, Brian Boutwell.

Brian Boutwell, Ph.D. is Associate Dean for Research and Corporate Partnerships, College for Public Health and Social Justice and Associate Professor Criminology and Criminal Justice at Saint Louis University, College for Public Health and Social Justice.

The article says in part:
...Criminologists (and psychologists) have been aware for some time that criminal involvement runs in families* and is also heritable (a good portion of that heritability seems to be narrow-sense, though not all; see quillette.com/#comments). The psychologist Robert Krueger and colleagues some years back, provided evidence that humans mate assortatively for antisocial and criminogenic behaviors (put differently, highly antisocial individuals tend to pair off with each other in a non-random fashion).

Does this completely explain the concentration of crime in certain families? No. Can it be safely ignored and assumed to be irrelevant? No. Just as narrow-sense heritability is a puzzle piece that can tell you something about where the distribution of a trait could be headed in a population, it also helps inform the question of why certain traits cluster in families.
Boutwell has authored or co-authored, if my count is correct 24 articles for alt-right Quillette.

Now Pinker declared the Boutwell/Khan piece in Quillette "witty and smart" but he doesn't explain how the "criminal involvement runs in families" theory aligns with why the Irish had high rates of violent crime a hundred years ago, as he discussed in his PC video:
In the case of, say, rates of violent crime, it used to be — go back 100 years, the rate of violent crime among Irish Americans was far higher than among other ethnic groups. That obviously changed. There's no reason that that can't change in the case of current racial differences
Surely if criminality ran in families the Irish would still have high rates of violent crime.

And then there is Australia:
New South Wales, a state in southeast Australia, was founded by the British as a penal colony in 1788. Over the next 80 years, more than 160,000 convicts were transported to Australia from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, in lieu of being given the death penalty. 
Today, about 20% of Australians are descendants of convicts, including plenty of prominent citizens. 
Wow, Australia must be a hellhole of criminality based on the family crime trait theory. Oops, nope, Australia has lower murder rates than most countries, including England.

So does Pinker agree with the hereditarian explanation about crime or the environmental one? He can't have it both ways, the two are mutually exclusive.

In the PC video Pinker said:
Now, if you've never heard these facts before and you stumble across them, or someone mentions them, it is possible to come to some extreme conclusions. Such as that women are inferior, that African Americans are naturally violent.
It turns out that Brian Boutwell has come to the "extreme conclusion" that African Americans are naturally less intelligent than whites.

Boutwell is a bit less direct when discussing African American violence but in his interview with alt-right Stefan Molyneux he references a theory by former head of the Pioneer Fund  J. Philippe Ruston's called "Life History" and associates it with "an evolutionary theory of criminal behavior" beginning around 56:30 on the video. Rushton says things like:
The reason why Whites and East Asians have wider hips than Blacks, and so make poorer runners is because they give birth to larger brained babies. During evolution, increasing cranial size meant women had to have a wider pelvis. Further, the hormones that give Blacks an edge at sports makes them restless in school and prone to crime.
Boutwell tries to distance himself from bigots, as he writes in Quillette:
It is true that bigoted people might use data about race and IQ to support nefarious political agendas, buttressing their own prejudices with scientific sounding arguments. However, the way to address this danger is not by distorting previous research or publicly attacking scholars who investigate this issue. Rather, it is by promoting the vision of society that Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated decades ago, one in which people are judged by their actions and the content of their characters and not by the average traits of a group (ethnic, political, religious, or otherwise).

The reality of racial variation cannot be hidden behind a veil of pleasant myths in perpetuity. And if researchers and moralists insist upon a noble lie about human genetic sameness, then they will not be prepared to grapple with the difficult ethical challenges that human variation in a cosmopolitan society presents.
Boutwell refers above to the off-quoted section of King's "I Have A Dream" speech in which he says:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
It's breath-taking the way Boutwell jumps from "not be judged by the color of their skin" to "the reality of racial variation" which means, in practice, claiming black people are genetically less intelligent and more criminal than white people.

So what actually distinguishes Boutwell from a bigot with nefarious political agendas, buttressing his own prejudice with scientific-sounding arguments?

Boutwell's "science" is bad. First because although race means everything to Boutwell and the hereditarians, they have no clear definition of race, and so there is no objective way to determine the "race" of any individual. Although they've learned from alt-right racist Steve Sailer to claim that this is all perfectly fine because we can't expect to have "platonic essences."

They admit to not testing subjects for genetic ancestry.

They don't admit they got lots of their data from racists. Although they did.

And then there's the Northern Superiority Hypothesis that Richard Lynn appears to have dreamed up. I've mentioned Lynn, making claims about Irish, English, Welsh and Scottish intelligence although they are genetically indistinguishable from each other.

And what about nefarious political agendas? Boutwell has no qualms about promoting his theories both via alt-right racist Stefan Molyneux, and by allowing the white supremacist media outlet American Renaissance to republish his work from Quillette.

Apparently there is nothing that a scientific racialist like Brian Boutwell can do that is racist, in his mind, not even making common cause with white supremacists.

So while Steven Pinker is pointing at the media and colleges, claiming they are inadvertently radicalizing the alt-right by denying "the truth" which leads to them over-reacting and believing that blacks are naturally violent, Pinker is sending his Twitter followers directly to people who say the very thing he considers an "extreme conclusion."

It's not the media and the colleges who are radicalizing people, it's Steven Pinker himself. Both by connecting to the work of racialists but also by lending racialists like Boutwell and Khan and Steve Sailer respectability thanks to his own science celebrity.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Steven Pinker and hereditarianism: the disconnect

Steven Pinker, who has no problem claiming "respectable media" is guilty of radicalizing the alt-right by suppressing "the truth" is in return adored by respectable media.

I've already discussed Jesse Singal in the New York Times white-washing Pinker's remarks. Remarks that were video-taped and so anybody who bothers to look could see that Singal misrepresented what Pinker had said. But luckily for Singal and Pinker few people bother to check, so certain they are of Pinker's innate goodness.

Pinker is currently promoting his latest book, Enlightenment Now and this is fairly typical of the press's approach to Steven Pinker - this is Andrew Anthony in the British left-wing newspaper The Guardian:
Pinker’s trademark mop of silver curls, more like that of an ageing hard rock guitarist than an Ivy League academic, a pair of twinkling blue eyes and a ready expression of amusement beam out from my screen.
I was hoping the New Yorker would have reviewed Enlightenment Now by this point, so I could get a less worshipful perspective on Pinker from the press, but so far they haven't published anything. 

The liberal press loves Pinker and of course the racist right loves Pinker - although unlike Pinker, at least American Renaissance acknowledges the existence of The Pioneer Fund. I have yet to find any evidence that Pinker has ever acknowledged the connection between the Pioneer Fund and the Bell Curve.

Considering how often Pinker accuses critics of hereditarianism of being influenced by liberal politics, it is absolutely remarkable that Pinker wouldn't at least mention the Pioneer Fund if only to explain why it doesn't matter that some claims made in the Bell Curve are based on work funded by actual white supremacists.

So why doesn't Pinker mention the Pioneer Fund? Well for one thing the fawning press doesn't trouble him by asking such unpleasant questions, too entranced by Pinker's twinkling blue eyes to even think straight, much less do the hard work of digging into Pinker's background.

As I mentioned in this series, journalists have been failing us for a long time concerning evolutionary psychology.

While the press has been doing its best to avoid noticing how squirelly Pinker is about hereditarianism occasionally reviewers can't help but notice it.

And so, having claimed there is genetic evidence that intelligence is a heritable condition, and having asserted that races are little more than large, inbred families, Pinker himself ducks the issue that generates most anger. In parentheses on page 144, he states: "My own view, incidentally, is that in the case of the most discussed racial difference – the black-white IQ gap in the US – the current evidence does not call for a genetic explanation." 
Good. I believe he is right. But why does he go on to say that Steven Rose is wrong to believe that IQ tests tell you nothing useful, or that race is a doubtful biological category? And why, after arguing the science of this question for many decades, do we all still "believe" rather than "know" one way or the other?
His admirers on the racist right have also noticed a disconnect. In the American Renaissance review of Blank Slate, available via the Wayback Machine, Samuel Francis writing in 2003 ponders:
Prof. Pinker is firm and clear about the “inherent” or “innate” characteristics and behavior of human beings—human nature — that exist before anyone has a chance to scribble on the blank slate. Not only aggression and sexual differences but also intelligence he acknowledges to be in large part genetically grounded, but on the Big Taboo—race—he is vague and even contradictory.
He endorses the environmentalist theories of the origins of civilization of Jared Diamond and Thomas Sowell as opposed to racial ones, and tells us that “My own view … is that in the case of the most discussed racial difference—the black-white IQ gap in the United States—the current evidence does not call for a genetic explanation.” Yet, six pages later, he tells us that “… there is now ample evidence that intelligence is a stable property of an individual, that it can be linked to features of the brain (including overall size, amount of gray matter in the frontal lobes, speed of neural conduction, and metabolism of cerebral glucose), that it is partly heritable among individuals, and that it predicts some of the variations in life outcomes such as income and social status.” Combined with the different scores of blacks and whites on IQ tests, of course, this implies that the “most discussed racial difference” has a significantly genetic and not an environmentalist explanation...
Pinker's admirers on both the left and the racist right sense that something is not quite right here. This is echoed by reviews in The New Yorker, the only media outlet not completely baffled by Pinker's bullshit. I'll talk about that next.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Exploring the Intellectual Dark Web

Bari Weiss, conservative columnist at the New York Times in her infamous article on the topic, mentioned the people in the list below, as either members of or allies of the "intellectual" dark web.
  1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali 
  2. Mike Cernovich 
  3. Sam Harris 
  4. Heather Heying 
  5. Alex Jones 
  6. Charlie Kirk 
  7. Claire Lehmann 
  8. Abby Martin 
  9. Stefan Molyneux 
  10. Charles Murray 
  11. Douglas Murray 
  12. Maajid Nawaz 
  13. Candace Owens 
  14. Jordan Peterson 
  15. Steven Pinker 
  16. Joe Rogan 
  17. David Rubin 
  18. Ben Shapiro 
  19. Michael Shermer 
  20. Debra Soh 
  21. Christina Hoff Sommers 
  22. Eric Weinstein 
  23. Bret Weinstein 
  24. Kanye West 
  25. Milo Yiannapoulos

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Charles Murray, another member of the intellectual dark web

Like Steven Pinker and Sam Harris, Charles Murray is also a fan of alt-right Quillette, home of some of the world's most prominent hereditarians, "race realists" and "biosocial criminologists."

Murray is of course most famous for The Bell Curve from twenty years ago, written with lots of studies funded by white supremacist organization The Pioneer Fund.

I knew many articles first published in Quillette found a second home at the white supremacist publication American Renaissance - what I didn't realize was the number of Quillette articles are republished there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

My favorite Bouie tweet yet

When I mentioned on Twitter that my blog posts about Khan had been used by Bouie in his Khan takedown, Claire Lehmann freaked out.

I've been hoping that Bouie would focus more attention on Quillette and the "Intellectual Dark Web" and it looks like he's doing it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Why Steven Pinker? Why Pinkerite?

Hello and welcome to Pinkerite. Pinkerite is a podcast (and this related website) looking at race science and the Intellectual Dark Web with a focus on Steven Pinker.

Why Pinker?

According to Bari Weiss, who wrote the definitive article about the Intellectual Dark Web for the New York Times in May 2018, Pinker is the exemplar of Intellectual Dark Web respectability. She wrote:
Go a click in one direction and the group is enhanced by intellectuals with tony affiliations like Steven Pinker at Harvard. But go a click in another and you’ll find alt-right figures like Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich (the #PizzaGate huckster) and Alex Jones (the Sandy Hook shooting denier).
It’s hard to draw boundaries around an amorphous network, especially when each person in it has a different idea of who is beyond the pale.
And of course Pinker has praised authors in Quillette (described in the same article as "...the publication most associated with this movement") whose "race science" positions are so extreme they've had their Quillette articles reprinted in the white supremacist American Renaissance and appeared on alt-right Stefan Molyneux's Youtube Channel, as I have documented in Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections.

Another reason is that he's admired by the media and people who describe themselves as liberal. Even my beloved Justin Trudeau who tweeted images of himself with Pinker in March of 2018. Some of them may not care that Pinker is a long-time promoter of race science but my hope is that this project will prevent them from pleading ignorance.

Finally, I know a lot about Steven Pinker's career because I've been following it since the publication of The Blank Slate. I've mentioned Pinker many times on my personal blog, which I've had since 2005.

I actually thought Pinker might be moving away from extreme hard-right positions on race, among other things, until the beginning of this year when there was a controversy over Pinker's remarks on political correctness, the alt-right and his charge that academia and the "respectable media" refuse to discuss things like black crime.

Predictably, respectable media and the NYTimes jumped in to defend Pinker as with Jesse Singal's piece in the NYTimes. On reviewing Singal's work and tweets it appeared to me that Singal could fairly be described as a Pinkerite - someone in agreement with the evolutionary psychology-based views of Steven Pinker.

I'm not the first person to use the word Pinkerite though - it appeared at least as early is the superb review of The Blank Slate, called "What Comes Naturally" by Louis Menand in the New Yorker. Menand suggested that in spite of Pinker's misunderstanding of Virginia Woolf's literary views, Woolf was a Pinkerite.

The controversy and the response prompted me to write a long series of blog posts under the keyword evo-psycho bros, which I still occasionally add to, on my personal blog. This podcast is the next step.

I won't stick exclusively to talking about Steven Pinker though. I think that there's lots of information about race science and the "intellectual dark web" that should be known more generally. I will also critique the concept of race and discuss how sloppy the race science proponents themselves are when promoting studies of race and intelligence. I will also talk about the history of African Americans and the ways that race science proponents attempt to erase that history in an effort to claim that any socio-economic failures of African Americans is due in part or in whole to genetic inferiority.

A word about this project's devotion to accuracy: if anybody reading this blog or listening to the podcast notices anything inaccurate or factually incorrect please contact me at info@pinkerite.com. I have no interest in inventing anything about Pinker, race science or the intellectual dark web. The truth as always is stranger than fiction.