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Monday, June 20, 2022

Taking out the trash on Stone Mountain

Happy first official Juneteenth federal holiday!

Pinkerite had the day off from the day job, in honor of this new holiday.


commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Civil War had ended.

Although the slaves were Black, I don't think this should be considered a Black-only holiday. 

Everybody who hates the enslavement of human beings has cause to celebrate.

My thoughts today turned to the continuing glorification, in the United States, of the Confederacy. Although some monuments have been removed - and I recently saw an interesting documentary on the subject on PBS, which I recommend, called Neutral Ground, there are still plenty left. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (you should donate to them) created a map in 2019 of monuments, existing and removed, and updated it in February 2022.

One of the biggest removal challenges is Stone Mountain. A year ago NPR ran a piece about it:

The carving at the center of the debate is the largest Confederate monument in the world. It depicts Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, on horseback.
"To remove the carving would take a small, tactical nuclear weapon," Stephens said. "Three acres of solid granite, it's probably not going anywhere, that's why we're telling the story about it."

But this is bullshit, and we know it's bullshit, thanks to the squabble among the various KKK members and KKK sympathizers who created the Stone Mountain carving:
The project was greatly advanced by C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and first president and Honorary Life President of the Georgia State Division. After obtaining the approval of the Georgia UDC, she set up the UDC Stone Mountain Memorial Association. She chose the sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the project and invited him to visit the mountain (although, despite his Ku Klux Klan involvement,  she "would not shake his hand—he was, after all, a Yankee")...

...Financial conflicts between Borglum and the Association led to his firing in 1925.  He destroyed his models, claiming that they were his property, but the Association disagreed and had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was warned of the arrest and narrowly escaped to North Carolina, whose governor, Angus McLean, refused to extradite him, though he could not return to Georgia. The affair was highly publicized and there was much discussion and discord, including discord between Sam Venable, the Association, and its president Hollins Randolph.  The face of Lee that Borglum had partially completed was blasted off the mountain in 1928.
So Lee's face was already blasted off Stone Mountain once, in 1928. It should be easy as pie for us, one hundred years later, to do it again.

I came across a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2017 titled How the Confederates might actually come off Stone Mountain that had some suggestions: 
We asked Bentkowski and other geologists to leave aside political considerations and just think about the logistics of erasing the giant sculpture. They all agreed that removing it is an achievable, if costly, engineering feat...

...There’s the non-explosive option, said Derric Iles, the state geologist for South Dakota, home to Mt. Rushmore, which was carved by the first of three sculptors who worked on Stone Mountain. Air chisels and air hammers could be used, but only if “you have all the time in the world,” Iles said. And money.

So that brings it back to explosives. If you’ve ever descended into the bowels of the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, you’ve seen what targeted explosives can create; tunnels big enough for a train to run through. The stone walls bear the scarring from explosives and the holes bored to put them in place. That’s what would happen at Stone Mountain.

...The relief could be covered, said Robert Hatcher, distinguished scientist in geology at the University of Tennessee. The figures would be smoothed down, then the area filled with concrete.

“It wouldn’t be very pretty,” Hatcher said. “It would deface the mountain...”
But the mountain is already defaced with white supremacy-loving traitors, so not really a problem.

The article keeps talking about how expensive it would be to remove the bas-relief sculpture, but that demonstrates a lack of imagination. I have an idea that would not only pay for the removal, it would address the concerns about "erasing history" that Confederacy-lovers always complain about.

The carving is apparently between 400 and 500 feet off the ground. According to this article, a Civil War era cannon is capable of a range of almost a mile.

I say we set up a row of Civil War era cannons, hoist them to the best trajectory and make people pay for the honor of shooting holes in the Stone Mountain glorification of treason and slavery. Not enough to completely obliterate the image, just enough to express contempt for the slavery-loving traitors portrayed and for the Ku Klux Klan terrorists who brought this bas-relief abomination into existence. 

At a thousand bucks a pop, I guarantee patriots will be lining up for miles for the privilege.

So we get to keep "history" but remove the glorifying aspect.

But of course the real issue here is not logistics or finances. The problem is that in the United States, and especially in the South, there are still many who do not want their precious slavery-loving traitors to be treated disrespectfully. The issue is a political one - always has been, always will be.

A thousand bucks a pop - such a bargain.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bret & Heather & Game Theory

I don't talk much about Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying on Pinkerite, even though they are bona fide members of the Intellectual Dark Web and related by blood and marriage to Peter Thiel's number 1 lackey, Eric Weinstein. While they are sleazy scam artists, hyping ivermectin for Covid...

...That leaves Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying, the ex-Evergreen professors, married couple, and co-hosts of the Dark Horse podcast who have made ivermectin advocacy a cornerstone of their work. (Heying has called the “demonization” of ivermectin the “crime of the century.”) Heying and Weinstein extensively discussed the TOGETHER trial during Saturday’s episode of their podcast, denouncing it as poorly designed, suggesting it actually hadn’t been randomized or placebo-controlled (it was), and primarily recommending other people’s potted analyses, including Martenson, the economic researcher, and a site called IVM Meta, a site which claims to be a constantly updating real-time meta analysis of ivermectin studies.

...they don't promote race pseudoscience as far as I am aware.

But I had to share this. Beware if you are drinking liquids while watching this, said liquids may come shooting out your nose.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

So whatever happened to the University of Austin?

The University of Austin (UATX) made a big splash when Bari Weiss announced it last fall. But I haven't heard much about it lately. Even Quillette has absolutely nothing to say about it, even though many of the professors listed for "Forbidden Courses" are Quillette authors or connected to Quillette in some other way.

Many people assumed UATX was a scam and a jobs program for the racist right. 

As the Center for Media Democracy said in November 2021: Bari Weiss’ New “Fiercely Independent” University Closely Tied to Right-Wing Koch Network

 And not only Koch - the article notes the Thiel connection:

The school’s only known financier is Joe Lonsdale, a board member of Cicero Research and a founding UATX trustee, who co-founded the controversial Palantir Technologies big-data firm with GOP megadonor Peter Thiel. Along with Lonsdale—who has been accused of rape, something he denies—two apparent family members and a colleague at his venture capital firm, 8VC, make up Cicero Research’s board.

Thiel is a funder of Quillette. So of course there's a heavy emphasis on supporting racism at the University of Austin:


Several UATX figures have taken public stances against efforts to combat racism and other bigotry in society, and they have used the resulting blowback from their communities to launch right-wing media tours as free speech warriors and victims of oppression.

In a piece he wrote for the white nationalist-friendly Quillette during a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, Princeton classics professor and UATX adviser Joshua Katz called a Black student activist group a “local terrorist organization,” resulting in condemnation by other faculty and the university’s president. Then Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal printed his characterization of the events, including his “survival” of “cancellation.” Katz sued the American Council of Learned Societies for alleged “viewpoint discrimination” after it withdrew his delegate status because of his anti-anti-racist Quillette piece.

Katz is responsible for other controversies. He admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student, for which he was disciplined, and additional accusations of inappropriate conduct have emerged.

University of Chicago geophysics professor and UATX adviser Dorian Abbot co-wrote an op-ed for Newsweek called “The Diversity Problem on Campus,” arguing against diversity, equity, and inclusion practices with regard to admission, faculty hiring, and course content. Abbot’s assertion was that universities are being racist against white people by trying to help traditionally marginalized people enter traditionally white-dominated spaces. He even compared diversity, equity, and inclusion to practices in Nazi Germany. As a result, MIT canceled a lecture he was scheduled to give, and Weiss lent Abbot her blog for his account of being “cancelled.”

Newsweek’s opinion editor, Josh Hammer, is a fellow at the right-wing nationalist Edmund Burke Foundation and previously worked for right-wing publications including The Daily Caller. The Edmund Burke Foundation hosts an annual National Conservatism conference. At this year’s conference, which concluded on Nov. 2, several UATX figures spoke alongside Hammer and other right personalities, including Mark Krikorian, executive director of anti-immigrant hate group the Center for Immigration Studies: Hirsi Ali and UATX advisers Sohrab Amari and Glenn Loury. Peter Thiel gave the keynote address.

It seems to me that the racist right are attempting to create their own Galt's Gulch, starting with a right-wing libertarian university. 

Doonesbury addressed University of Austin back in January. 

And PZ Myers has some recent thoughts about UATX:

Oh hey, speaking of fake universities, let’s check in with the University of Austin. June 2022 is a big month for them, because this is when they have their very first course offering, “The Forbidden Courses“. They’ve had to scale back a bit, unsurprisingly. The courses will not be held in Austin — they’ve rented some lovely spaces in Dallas for the whole thing. The “course” is all of 4 days long, and there are two course sessions…you could apply for both if you wanted. It is not accredited...

...I looked at that mess and figured their student body was going to be tinier than they expect, except they did one thing exactly right. They are paying bodies to attend.
Due to the support of a generous grant from our donors, there is no cost to attend the program. Hotels, some meals, and activities are covered by UATX. A $300 stipend will be given to participants to defray costs from travel, some meals, and other incidental expenses. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of participants.
Whoa. I wish we could just pay our students to attend my university, and take care of their housing and meals at no cost. This is what you get when millionaires and billionaires back your efforts to destroy public education. I wonder what contribution Elon Musk made?

He was not impressed right from the start:

I like that Myers refers to Pinker as a weasel at minute 9:00. Sure, so many reviewers of Pinker's work accuse him of trying to have things "both ways" and say that he is "blithe" - but I say, let's also get "weasel" going!

UPDATE: Myers just published a new video today: PZ vs Peterson vs Dawkins.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Steven Pinker having it both ways as usual

Reviewers of Steven Pinker's work notice his logical inconsistencies, which is especially amusing when Pinker's work is about logic.

Back in September when Pinker's book "Rationality..." was released, Ted McCormick, writing in Slate, noted the inevitable Pinker logic fail, which has been characterized by other reviewers as Pinker "having it both ways":

Rather than argue for his own liberal, technocratic goals, however, Pinker lets their presumed superiority color his use of “rational” and “irrational” throughout. This creates a recurring dissonance, since what is irrational (or “cockamamie,” or “stupid”) from his perspective often turns out to be eminently rational by his initial definition: That is, it serves the purposes of those who hold to it effectively. 

I give other examples of Pinker's critics noticing Pinker trying to have it both ways here.

The article also notes Pinker's (inevitable) hypocrisy, combined with his inevitable support for far-right, race pseudoscience-promoting organizations:

Blaming universities’ “suffocating leftwing monoculture” for popular mistrust of expertise, Pinker mentions two examples in the text: University of Southern California professor Greg Patton’s removal from a course after using the Chinese ne ga, which can sound like the N-word, and testimony from unnamed personal “correspondents.” (In a footnote, he invites readers to look to Heterodox Academy, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Quillette—all of it—for further examples.) The very next paragraph warns of “illusions instilled by sensationalist anecdote chasing.” Doctor, heal thyself!

And although Pinker, along with right-wing media, trumpeted the Greg Patton controversy far and wide, in the end, the university found in Patton's favor:

After weeks of an internal investigation by USC’s Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX (EEO-TIX), however, Patton was found to have acted appropriately, as Garrett announced to students and the rest of the Marshall School community in a September 25 email. The EEO-TIX found that “the concerns expressed by students were sincere,” the dean wrote, “but that Professor Patton’s actions did not violate the university’s policy. They have also communicated this to the professor and he allowed me to share their conclusion with you.

One or more hyper-sensitive students made an absurd charge against a professor, the university investigated the issue, and the professor was found to have acted appropriately. 

So is Steven Pinker's right-wing fear-mongering an example of rationality? I suppose if your goal is to curry favor with the deep pockets of the racist right, then yes, it is rational.

But going back to Pinker having it both ways. I mentioned recently that anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson introduced me to the work of another anthropologist, Douglas Fry, who sent me a link to his review of Pinker's 2012 book "Better Angels of Our Nature." 

I enjoyed Fry's review especially because he also noticed Pinker's trait of having it both ways:

Pinker’s evident fondness for state-based solutions also seems to make for greater analytical confusion as he tries to supply an anatomy of peaceable instincts that may inhere in human subjects apart from the imposition of state control. Pinker proposes that along with self-control, a moral sense, and the capacity to reason, a fourth “better angel” in our nature is empathy. But Pinker can’t seem to make up his mind about empathy. On the one hand, he quotes Charles Darwin in his final chapter’s epigraph, thereby appearing to give a last word to the great natural scientist’s hopeful formulation: 
As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
However, Pinker concludes earlier in the book, after much discussion, that it is actually rights, norms, and policies—not empathy—that are important for protecting people from violence. Pinker also concludes that “empathy can subvert human well-being when it runs afoul of a more fundamental principle, fairness.” If that’s the case, then why isn’t fairness promoted to angel status and empathy demoted? It’s hard to avoid the impression that Pinker is just jumping, halfheartedly, onto the empathy bandwagon in the wake of best-selling treatments of the subject such as Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization (2009) and Frans de Waal’s The Age of Empathy (2009)—both of which are far more thorough and lucid treatments of the subject than one finds in The Better Angels of Our Nature.
Whatever else you can say about Pinker, he's consistent.

Fry shared his review of Napoleon Chagnon's self-aggrandizing autobiography "NOBLE SAVAGES My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes — the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists." The autobiography was called "a lively and paranoid romp through the thick jungles of the Amazon and the thicker tangles of academic and religious intrigue" by the NYTimes.

Fry's review can be accessed via JSTOR here. Fry critiqued Chagnon's claim that Yanomami men who killed more also fathered more children, explaining why Chagnon's calculation is incorrect, which concurs with Ferguson's paper Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war

The critique was enough to get Fry on Chagnon's enemies list:

I had begun to think that somehow I had escaped being put on the "detractor list" for my mathematical recalculation of Chagnon's unokai data (Fry 2006; Miklikowska and Fry 2012), but then I discovered that he cites a book I co-edited (Kemp and Fry 2004) as a supposed example of an ad hominem attack related to his 1988 unokai article (Chagnon, 2013: 278). However, Chagnon got the basic facts wrong. The only mention of Chagnon in the edited book involves his use of the label "fierce," has nothing to do with his 1988 article, and says nothing that could be considered ad hominem (Kemp and Fry 200422: 5). 

Regular visitors to this Pinkerite site will not be surprised to learn that Steven Pinker (and other supporters of sociobiology) is a big fan of Chagnon.

Fry also shared a link to an interview with Phillip Dwyer, author of The Dark Angels of Our Nature, which raises many of the objections that Ferguson did in his Pinker's List and adds a few more. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Matthew Yglesias supports the career of anti-Black racist political operative Razib Khan

I've noted before the association between rightwing political operative anti-Black racist Razib Khan and mainstream "centrist" Matthew Yglesias before

Recently Khan circulated a letter condemning Scientific American because he didn't like a Black woman writing that E. O. Wilson was maybe a racist.

As it turned out, Wilson was even more racist than many of us realized.

Khan got a bunch of the usual clueless dopes in the science world to join in his campaign, and when some of them finally got clued into Khan's 20+ years as a promoter of the extremist racist "science" of Wilson's pal J. Phillippe Rushton, they thought better of their support for Razib Khan.

But Matthew Yglesias thought their dismay over Khan's anti-Black racism was doing harm to a "healthy intellectual climate" as he sarcastically tweeted.

But although Khan retweets Yglesias regularly, I never saw Yglesias retweeting Khan.

Until now.

He includes a link to Khan's Substack.

Murder rates broken out by gender can be found all over the Internet - if that's an issue Yglesias really wanted to talk about. He didn't need to rely on Razib Khan for the information. But yet, for some reason, Yglesias had to use his respectable mainstream platform to give one of the main followers of J. Phillippe Rushton greater credibility. 

Of course Steven Pinker has been promoting Khan for close to 20 years, and there are a bunch of other mainstream media people who promote Khan.

The next time a creep like Andrew Sullivan claims that systemic racism is a thing of the past, point out that many mainstream media people, including Matthew Yglesias, gladly support the career of extremist anti-Black racist Razib Khan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The endless hypocrisy of Steven Pinker

The endless hypocrisy of Steven Pinker - to whine about science being politicized while being a long-time ally of the racist right, from Steve Sailer to - currently - the appalling Razib Khan - both of whom are financial beneficiaries of Holocaust denier and some time Republican politician Ron Unz.

Pinker often relies on his fanboys, like Michael Shermer and Jerry Coyne to present his views, which he did again recently, when he complained about Science magazine via Coyne.

In his letter, Pinker wrote:
Science magazine appears to have adopted wokeism as its official editorial policy and the only kind of opinion that may be expressed in the magazine. An example is the recent special section on the underrepresentation of African Americans among physics majors, graduate students, and faculty members. This situation is lamentable and worthy of understanding. But the six articles in the issue assume as dogma that the underrepresentation is caused by “white privilege”: that “the dominant culture has discouraged diversity,” and “white people use their membership in a dominant group to assert political, cultural, and economic power over those outside that group.” Though Science is ordinarily committed to open debate on scientific controversies, no disagreements with this conspiracy theory were expressed. And though the journal is supposedly committed to empirical tests, no data were presented that might speak to alternative explanations, such as that the cause of the under-representation lies in the pipeline of prepared and interested students. If we want to increase the number of African Americans in physics, it matters a great deal whether we should try to fix the nation’s high schools or accuse physics professors of white supremacy. Yet Science magazine has decided, without debate or data, to advocate the latter.
Most interesting to me was this part:
And though the journal is supposedly committed to empirical tests, no data were presented that might speak to alternative explanations, such as that the cause of the under-representation lies in the pipeline of prepared and interested students.
Pinker is very aware of alternative explanations for Black American under-representation in science, because he has been promoting the career of Razib Khan, for two decades, as recently as October 2021

The main focus of Razib Khan's career is to represent Black people, especially Black Americans as essentially separate from the rest of humanity. Much like his early influence, J. P. Rushton did.

Pinker avoids mentioning the race pseudoscience explanation directly, probably because that would link Pinker too obviously to what he has been indirectly - but indisputably - promoting for twenty years. 

Steve Sailer, a steadfast supporter of Pinker even ten years after Pinker stopped mentioning Sailer in public, has wondered at Pinker's ability to hold the same racist views as James Watson without suffering a career set-back:
How does Pinker avoid getting in trouble like DNA researcher James D. Watson or Pinker’s friend Larry Summers, former president of Harvard until he gave a Pinkerian talk on sex differences in IQ? I’m not sure, exactly. Perhaps it’s that the lithe, long-haired, soft-spoken Pinker seems like the archetype of the liberal college professor.
If anybody would know about Pinker's actual views on race, it would be Steve Sailer, who is very confident he has been a big influence on Pinker.

But for once I agree with Sailer - it is surprising that Pinker has gotten away with promoting race pseudoscience for so long with almost no impact on his career as celebrity intellectual. 

The likely answer - the media is too lazy and stupid and respectful of celebrity intellectuals.

The media's attitude towards Pinker's hiding-in-plain-sight pattern of promoting race pseudoscience is pretty well summarized by an email exchange I had with Gideon Lewis-Kraus who wrote:
If you have emails between Pinker and Sailer, I will gladly review them... 

With the implication that anything less than direct correspondence is not worth talking about.

That's why I was so amazed when, last autumn, the Guardian, once seen publishing dreamy love letters to Pinker's twinkling blue eyes and silver hair, published an interview in which Pinker was asked about his connection to Steve Sailer, for the first time, as far as I am able to discover, in twelve years:

Many critics allege that Pinker’s recent remarks are part of a longer history of comments and behaviour that have come dangerously close to promoting pseudoscientific or abhorrent points of view. To take a single example: the journalist Malcolm Gladwell has called Pinker out for sourcing information from the blogger Steve Sailer, who, in Gladwell’s words, “is perhaps best known for his belief that black people are intellectually inferior to white people”. Angela Saini, a science journalist and author of Superior: The Return of Race Science, told me that “for many people, Pinker’s willingness to entertain the work of individuals who are on the far right and white supremacists has gone beyond the pale”. When I put these kinds of criticisms to Pinker, he called it the fallacy of “guilt by association” – just because Sailer and others have objectionable views, doesn’t mean their data is bad. Pinker has condemned racism – he told me it was “not just wrong but stupid” – but published Sailer’s work in an edited volume in 2004, and quotes Sailer’s positive review of Better Angels, among many others, on his website.
Pinker has expressed regret for his connection to Jeffrey Epstein. And this Guardian interview could have been his chance to express regret for promoting Sailer, but instead he denied promoting Sailer at all, preferring to mischaracterize his connection to Sailer as mere "guilt by association" as if Pinker simply bumped into Sailer at a student pageant at a school where they both had kids enrolled, and some dastardly woke person took their photo together and published it.

And of course Pinker would not express regret for his promotion of the career of Razib Khan, since he's continued to do it. Razib Khan's view is that Black Americans are innately morally and intellectually inferior, a position revealed most recently in his review of Charles Murray's latest book "Facing Reality." 

Khan presents the hereditarian view he shares with Murray as no big deal:
At a mere 168 pages, it is considerably shorter than the 500-plus pages of Murray’s previous book, Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class. That’s because there are only two big ideas being forwarded: that different races in America “have different violent crime rates and different means and distributions of cognitive ability.” That’s it. Though there is more reasoning and analysis between the covers, the whole work rests on these two pillars.
"That's it." Two pillars: 1. "races" in America have different violent crime rates and 2. "races" have different cognitive ability.

This appears early on in the review. Everything Khan writes after this is based on the assumption of a biological reality of "race" and how it creates differences in violent crime rates and cognitive ability - Khan especially focuses on the race differences of being a Black American:
But why read a book on this topic when you can discover these facts within a few minutes? Tables on SAT scores by race are available in the Journal of Blacks In Higher Education, which pointed out in 2005 that “whites were more than seven times as likely as blacks to score 700 or above on the verbal SAT.” Wikipedia, meanwhile, has an entry entitled “Race and Crime in the United States,” which plainly states that a bit over 50 percent of victims and offenders in homicides are African American. The same website tells us that African Americans are about 13 percent of America’s population. Would you also be surprised to face the reality that the perpetrators of homicides are overwhelmingly young and male as well? These dots are there for anyone to connect if they like.
The presumption of innate Black inferiority makes everything so simple. And Razib Khan likes simple, which is why he once suggested we "remove all the history we take for granted" in our understanding of race in America.
So I have to take issue when The New York Times posts articles with headlines such as White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier. What genetics is showing is that in fact white Americans are shockingly European to an incredibly high degree for a population with roots on this continent for 400 years. 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. 
The mystery of why "people of partial African ancestry did not move into the general white population" is solved by knowledge of the history of slavery and miscegenation laws. The only reason you would suggest removing all the history, the key to understanding the issue, is either because you're an idiot or you have a racist agenda.

To see how much Khan still denies Black history, check out this paragraph from the Quillette review:
For instance, to understand “white flight” in the 1960s and 1970s, all you need is to know that American culture and history has always been bathed in systematic racism and white supremacy. Never mind the massive crime wave of the late 1960s and 1970s that might have driven white residents out of dangerous neighborhoods in search of safety. 
Khan seeks to disconnect the "massive crime wave" from the historical record - the empirical facts - that demonstrate that yes indeed, "American culture and history has always been bathed in systemic racism and white supremacy." 

He's able to "connect the dots" that he thinks prove biology-based Black inferiority but not the dots from systemic racism to poverty to crime.

Steven Pinker did not address Khan's blatantly racist views when Khan interviewed him last October, a few months after Khan published his review in Quillette. 

Steven Pinker is a fan of Quillette, which is such a booster of race pseudoscience that its articles on race are reprinted by the white supremacist American Renaissance.

Khan's view of race is an extremist one, promoted by the (Koch-funded) American Renaissance and VDARE. How could Pinker possibly ignore something so extreme? 

What other reason can there be, except because Pinker agrees with Khan?

Pinker reveals his agreement with Khan in the interview:
Yeah, it's interesting that a number of the Catholic abuses of the scientific and public intellectual reasoning arena that I documented in "The Blank Slate" in '02 all of the elements of what we now call cancel culture, there were there were threads of it then going back even to the 70s in the reaction to E.O Wilson's, sociobiology...
The reaction to Wilson's sociobiology was because of its racist implications. Here Pinker seeks to equate that reaction with religion-based, anti-science irrationality.

We know now exactly how racist Wilson was, thanks to Wilson's exchange of letters with hardcore racist J. P. Rushton - and since it is correspondence, it is evidence that even Gideon Lewis-Kraus would find significant

But Steven Pinker tries to pass it off as no big deal, and then claims that using Wilson's correspondence - which Wilson chose to make available to researchers - is "slander."

The sociobiology/race pseudoscience view of Black Americans as a "race" more innately violent and having lesser cognitive ability than other races does not conflict with Pinker's suggested alternative to Science magazine's alleged wokeness:
"though the journal is supposedly committed to empirical tests, no data were presented that might speak to alternative explanations, such as that the cause of the under-representation lies in the pipeline of prepared and interested students..."
The "pipeline of prepared and interested students" could be explained by the sociobiology view, that Black American students are unprepared and uninterested in physics because they genetically lack the cognitive ability to become prepared enough, and are not interested in science due to their essential nature. 

When you already believe that racism and sexism are no big deal, all roads lead to sociobiology. Including for the pipeline problem.

Pinker mentions a possible source of the pipeline problem:

 ...it matters a great deal whether we should try to fix the nation’s high schools or accuse physics professors of white supremacy. Yet Science magazine has decided, without debate or data, to advocate the latter.

So what exactly is wrong with the nation's high schools? Well as the The Century Foundation study on the issue notes:
Inequality begins in childhood: The United States is underfunding our public schools by nearly $150 billion annually, robbing millions of children—predominantly minority and low-income children—of the opportunity to succeed.
So why is it that public schools for minority and low-income children - often in the same category - are underfunded? Could it have something to do with systemic racism?

Well not according to Steven Pinker, he's already ruled out systemic racism as "dogma" -
 But the six articles in the issue assume as dogma that the underrepresentation is caused by “white privilege”: that “the dominant culture has discouraged diversity,” and “white people use their membership in a dominant group to assert political, cultural, and economic power over those outside that group.” 
So if it isn't systemic racism what's left? If the legacy of slavery, followed by anti-Black terrorism (like Tulsa), and Jim Crow and the unequal distribution of government grants and funding for schools and redlining and the home appraisal gap, etc etc etc.  - "all the history that we take for granted" - are ruled out, what is left to explain Black failure to thrive?

Steven Pinker's long-time ally, Razib Khan, has the answer - genetic Black inferiority. They have failed to thrive because they are born that way. That's what Khan means by "connecting the dots."

Khan revealed his contempt, for those who think history holds the key to Black American failure to thrive, in his interview with yet one more IDW-related media outlet:

Ultimately like I know people in Academia who talk about like systemic racism and prejudice and all this stuff, I just say like it's really easy, all you need to do is minorities that you think should have these jobs, you guys just need to like draw straws and one out of five of you resign and free up the positions, hire somebody of color, and we're all good, right, it's a simple thing to do, but they never do it, do they? They don't make the hard decision, I told an acquaintance of mine who wanted to talk to me about racism and I just got sick of it, and I was just like, well what you need to do is give your son's inheritance to a Black family. If you're talking about wealth and equality right now, he needs to be poor, and make his own way, and they need to have money, so just do it. And the person flipped out at me. Cause they just wanted to talk. And I'm just not super interested in talking. I am a non-white person. I don't need to be talked to about racism all the time. It's not interesting to me.

"give your son's inheritance to a Black family"

Problem solved. No big deal. Now don't bother Razib Khan with talk about racism. It's not interesting to him.

The alternative to "wokeness" is a vicious, right-wing, biology-is-destiny point of view with serious political ramifications, or as Khan said in his Quillette review: 
(Murray's) thesis is that American society faces disaster if it is not prepared to confront certain politically uncomfortable facts about race.
And if people like Murray had their way (Murray is also funded by Koch via AEI), it would be perfectly legal to discriminate in employment, on the basis of race.

But sure, let's listen to Steven Pinker and his rightwing goons whine about how politicized Science magazine is.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Resources from anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson

Anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson
Although many come to this site to read about the latest IDW/race pseudo-science idiocies, quite a few have visited to check out my interview with anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson, Global Urban Studies/Urban Systems Ph.D., Division of Global Affairs, Sociology and Anthropology, International Institute for Peace at Rutgers University.

Check out Ferguson's site at https://www.rbrianferguson.com

The interview is available in audio and transcript formats. The post for the interview also includes links to many excellent resources.

I heard from Ferguson recently that he will be publishing a new book this year. In 2021 he published Masculinity and War - this excellent paper includes a refutation of the evolutionary psychology approach to the issue - such refutations are always welcome here at Pinkerite. 

(Check out biologist PZ Myer's efficient and effective refutation of the entire evolutionary psychology research strategy here.)

And Ferguson pointed me to an excellent YouTube video, by Lewis Waller, entitled Steven Pinker is WRONG about the decline of violence - all critiques of the claims of Steven Pinker are very much welcome here at Pinkerite.

Ferguson also introduced me to the work of Douglas Fry, Professor & Chair Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the School of Health and Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Fry's website is here. Both he and Ferguson are mentioned in the Lewis Waller video.

Friday, April 29, 2022

O my prophetic soul

So a couple of weeks ago, when Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter was still only a strong possibility, I speculated that once Musk took over, people like professional transphobe, Quillette contributing editor Colin Wright would be free to say hateful things without occasionally being called out for it. 

So yesterday Elon Musk retweeted a graphic created by... Colin Wright. 

Clearly Musk is a friend of the right-wing IDW Quillette ideology.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Steven Pinker defends E. O. Wilson, claims calling Wilson a racist, in print, is "slander"

Michael Shermer wrote a post for his Substack to defend the indisputably racist E.O. Wilson, against the charge of racism, and Steven Pinker tweeted in support of Shermer - of course.

The evidence for Wilson's racism isn't about "spaces" or "thoughts" - it is based on Wilson's encouragement of racist J. P. Rushton.

As an author of the r/K model, one would have expected Wilson to have been outraged at Rushton’s proposal, which implied, as many nineteenth-century scientists did, that human “races” constituted different species—a view no reputable biologist, including Wilson, would have publicly defended. But Wilson immediately dashed off a letter to Rushton applauding his application of the r/K model as “one of the most original and interesting [ideas] I’ve ever encountered in psychology,” adding that the work was “courageous.” “In this country the whole issue would be clouded by personal charges of racism to the point that rational discussion would be almost impossible,” he wrote, urging Rushton to “press ahead!”


...one is bound to ask what, precisely, Wilson found so “important” or “brilliant” about an argument that, in essence, Black people have evolved to breed more and be less intelligent than white? Rushton, unabashed by public criticism, was unafraid to promote ideas that Wilson would not. But Wilson’s desire to see those ideas advanced is repeatedly made clear in his support for his colleague, to the extent that he even overlooked an obvious misapplication of his own theory.

It is clear that Wilson thought Rushton's conviction, that Black people are a separate species from other "races," was not a misuse of the Wilson's r/K concept, but rather a "breakthrough in psychology."

You have to wonder if Steven Pinker believes racism exists at all. He certainly never disavowed hardcore racist Steve Sailer, whose career Pinker promoted, in spite of an apparent public break with Sailer in 2011.

And Pinker continues to promote the career of Razib Khan, who is a long-time admirer of Rushton and who wrote in Quillette in the past year that Black Americans are an existential threat to the United States because of their peculiar racial difference from the rest of humanity.

In the Pinker tweet above, Pinker is promoting a claim by Michael Shermer that Wilson was not a racist.

  But Michael Shermer is a racist who does not believe that Ruston was a racist.

Some excellent responses by David Sepkokski on Twitter. Pinker's tweet doesn't show in my screen cap of Sepkoski's retweet because like so many other people, I am blocked by Pinker.

Sepkoski is co-author of one of two articles published fairly recently that highlight the fact that the papers that Wilson himself left for posterity demonstrate how racist E. O. Wilson was.

The evidence makes it clear Wilson took great delight in the racist speculations of J. P. Rushton, which used Wilson's own work as an inspiration. 

And the evidence also shows that Wilson understood just exactly how racist Rushton's work was. 

Only a promoter of race pseudoscience like Steve Pinker could be deliberately obtuse enough - or shameless enough - to claim this is no big deal. 


After I posted this on my blog, I saw that hardcore professional racist Steve Sailer jumped in to defend his buddy Steven Pinker, and his hero, E. O. Wilson. It's odd how much racists love Wilson and Pinker. 

I couldn't see the original tweets from Sailer of course, because, like Pinker, Sailer blocked me.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Twitter versus professional rightwing hate-monger Colin M. Wright

There's been a lot of talk about Twitter lately and creepo Elon Musk's desire to devour it whole

If right-wing plutocrat Musk takes over Twitter, we will remember fondly the days when Twitter occasionally dinged hate-mongers like Quillette contributing editor Colin M. Wright.

I don't remember which of Colin Wright's almost infinite number of transphobic tweets I reported. It has to be over a month ago since I did, I've hardly been doing any Pinkerite-related things in the past month.

Although Wright's focus is primarily demonizing a tiny minority of human beings he sometimes dabbles in the CRT grift invented by slimeball Chrisopher Rufo. That got Trump to retweet him.

As I said a few months ago, Colin M.Wright, like Razib Khan, is a sad case - a background in science, but he makes a living as right-wing political operative.

But I just found out that Colin M. Wright has four entries in the Retraction Watch Database.

So maybe that's why he chose to make a career out of being a Trumpist hate-monger - maybe he was just no damn good as a scientist.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Why Biology is not Destiny

Great review of Kathryn Paige Harden's book "The Genetic Lottery" in the New York Review of Books: Why Biology is not Destiny by M.W. Feldman and Jessica Riskin.

You can tell Harden is a complete hereditarian, in spite of her denial, by the way rightwing racist political operative Razib Khan likes to promote her work.

The entire piece is what good science writing should be, unlike the garbage written by Steve Sailer (and promoted by Steven Pinker) or the ineptitude of Khan. It holds together cohesively by playing off the "frog boiling" metaphor used by Harden herself. 

It begins:

You must know the parable about the frog that sits in a pot of water being gradually heated, allowing itself to be boiled alive: because the change happens gradually, it never realizes it should leap out. Reading Kathryn Paige Harden’s book The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality is a similar experience, as the author ingenuously points out. “Like a frog being slowly boiled alive,” she observes, readers follow her argument “from an uncontroversial premise to a highly controversial one.”


Harden is a dedicated frog boiler. She introduces many comfortably room-temperature premises: measurement is essential to science; people differ genetically; genes cause conditions such as deafness; a recipe for lemon chicken produces variable results but never leads to chocolate-chip cookies. Lulled to complacency by such anodyne and often homey observations, we soon find ourselves in a rolling boil of controversial claims: genes make you more or less intelligent, wealthier or poorer; every kind of inequality has a genetic basis.

And concludes:

Back finally to frog boiling: this practice, it turns out, is directly, not just metaphorically, related to arguments for a biological hierarchy of intelligence. The first experiments testing the reflexes of frogs in gradually heated water took place in the mid-nineteenth century, around the same time as the first theories of the biological basis of intelligence. Experimenters also lobotomized frogs, severed their spinal cords, heated and chilled their brains, and subjected them to strychnine poisoning, among other forms of torture, to see how these affected their reflex responses. Spencer cited these experiments in support of his theory that intelligence arose by infinitesimal degrees from the rudimentary reflexes of lower animals, through higher animals, “the inferior human races,” “the villager,” and “the man of ordinary education,” to “the advanced man of science”—i.e., Spencer himself.

Harden was right to compare her reasoning to the reasoning of the frog boilers. Both the logic and the experimental program of frog boiling exemplify the essentialist tradition in which she is a participant. But the theory doesn’t hold up in experiments: the frog, if intact and in a vessel it can escape, will actually jump out rather than be boiled alive. Our message to you, reader, is accordingly simple: jump out.

Beautiful literary styling combined with excellent logic and science points unencumbered by technical terms that only statisticians can understand:

Among other phenotypes associated with “educational attainment” for which Harden cites genome studies are “grit,” “growth mindset,” “intellectual curiosity,” “mastery orientation,” “self-concept,” “test motivation,” and especially “a trait called Openness to Experience, which captures being curious, eager to learn, and open to novel experiences.” Harden doesn’t reveal just who calls this important trait “Openness to Experience” or how they measure it. Surely, there must be disagreement among researchers about what constitutes this phenotype or others in the list, such as “grit.” More so, at any rate, than about what constitutes macular degeneration.

Explaining how social scientists make genome-wide association studies and polygenic scores, Harden writes:

Correlations between individual SNPs and a phenotype are estimated in a “Discovery GWAS” with a large sample size…. Then, a new person’s DNA is measured. The number of minor alleles (0, 1, or 2) in this individual’s genome is counted for each SNP, and this number is weighted by the GWAS estimate of the correlation between the SNP and the phenotype, yielding a polygenic index.

This alphabet soup in the passive voice implies that no one actively does all this estimating, measuring, counting, weighting, correlating—or that these are such technical processes that any human presence in them is irrelevant. But people are making interpretive decisions at every stage: how to define a phenotype and select people to represent it, how to count these people, which single-nucleotide polymorphisms to consider, how to weight and aggregate them. Interpretive decisions are of course essential to all science, but here there are a great many opinions dressed up in facts’ clothing. 

Including this fascinating bit, a possible explanation for why so many find "heritability" so hard to express in plain language and always resort to statistics-talk:

The confusion between correlation and causation in fact first arose in connection with arguments for the biological, hereditary basis of intelligence. The mathematical concept of correlation—a measure of the degree to which two variables are associated—came into existence as a linchpin of the conjoined sciences of statistics and eugenics in the 1880s. Galton developed fundamental concepts of statistics, including correlation, deviation, and regression, to provide the mathematical basis for a new “science of improving stock,” for which he coined the term “eugenics.” This mathematics of heredity, Galton believed, revealed evolutionary patterns in “human qualities and faculties”—for example that they naturally followed a “normal distribution,” or bell-shaped curve.

And most important to the mission of this blog, Harden's support for race pseudoscience, which makes her work the darling of racists, which is either sneaky or feckless, depending on how deliberate Harden's weasel words are:

Having distinguished genetic ancestry from race, however, Harden continually elides the two, as when she says that genomic research has so far been based almost entirely on “people whose recent genetic ancestry is exclusively European and who are overwhelmingly likely to identify as White.” Harden mentions this fact about genomic research in order to explain that her claims about the genetic basis of differences in intelligence apply only to differences among white-identifying people rather than to differences between whites as a group and people of other racial identities.

Here again Harden echoes her predecessors: Galton wrote in 1869, “The range of mental power between—I will not say the highest Caucasian and the lowest savage—but between the greatest and least of English intellects, is enormous.” Social class, as much as race, provided the focus of Galton’s eugenic writings; he too argued for an innate biological hierarchy of intelligence among white people. Harden’s assertion that “genetics can be causes of stratification in society” accords well with Galton’s view that social classes were based in biology.

Regarding race, Harden’s message is to relax: She has nothing to say about genetics and intelligence in nonwhite people, so how can her argument have racist implications? Moreover, she writes that the genome studies of white people will likely not be “portable” to other races, which will differ in frequencies and co-occurrences of genetic variants, precluding interracial comparisons based on such studies. What happened to the idea that races aren’t natural kinds? Once again Harden elides the crucial distinction between genetic populations and races when she writes that genome studies will probably not apply across “genetic ancestries or socially defined races.” Her use of italics seems to emphasize a distinction between ancestry and race, yet she continually treats them as equivalent, offering no explanation for why race would pose a significant barrier to applying genome study results across populations defined by genetic ancestry.

I had hoped that Adam Rutherford or Eric Turkheimer would have written this kind of response but wonder if their affection for Harden has prevented them from doing so. I understand they are both busy but the book was published last September.

When I saw this review I tried to share it with Harden on Twitter, only to discover she had blocked me, probably for disagreeing with her claim she's not an hereditarian. I have found that blocking is the standard way that hereditarians deal with critics.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Jon Stewart vs. Andrew Sullivan and Laura Ingraham

I expressed admiration last week for a recent Jon Stewart piece on racism. Then I found out a little later about his confrontation with Andrew "Bell Curve" Sullivan, possibly on the same episode:

This is a beautiful piece of work. My only quibble is that Stewart let Sullivan off without getting him to admit what he really believes. 

Stewart did push back on Sullivan's standard right-wing talking point, that the reason Black people are worse-off economically, as a group, is because of "black culture." 

Sullivan must have been as shocked as Steven Pinker was, when someone from the Guardian asked Pinker about his friendly relationship with racist extremist Steve Sailer. It would be great if Stewart could get Pinker on his show, but if Pinker saw the firm, if relatively gentle way Stewart handled Sullivan, Pinker might decide against it. Pinker is even more accustomed to deference from the media than Andrew Sullivan.

But since Sullivan is not normally confronted on his race beliefs, on video yet, he was extremely aggrieved by this conversation, and whined about it like a whiny biznatch.

According to The Wrap:

Jon Stewart is firing back at conservative political commentator Andrew Sullivan’s claims that he was “ambushed” by the comedian on Apple TV+’s “The Problem with Jon Stewart” last week.

In a lengthy Substack post on Friday, Sullivan accused Stewart and the other guests on the show of “unprofessionally” making him appear racist during their conversation, which he chalked up to them pushing “woke” narratives.

However, Stewart wasn’t having it. He swiftly issued a response on Twitter, writing: “Nonsense ⁦@sullydish⁩. Our booker handled this last minute ask impeccably. Mr Sullivan was told, texted and emailed a detailed account of who was on the program, the content and intent of the discussion.”

Bari Weiss, or to be more exact, her girlfriend Nellie Bowles, defended Sullivan.

Stewart had a few words for her too, which gave me a chance to provide a link to the video. At this rate even the usually clueless mainstream media will eventually become fully aware of Sullivan's support for race pseudoscience.

But will Sullivan's other pals, like members of the IDW or his fellow members of the board of advisors of FAIR (which includes former Fox News star Megyn Kelly) come to Sullivan's defense? 

Stay tuned!