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PZ Myers dissects evolutionary psychology: brief, sharp and fabulous

I admit I LOL'd at the part about "lighting up like a Christmas tree." WATCH AND LEARN all IDWs!

The Brian Ferguson Interview

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Steven Pinker cited by a United Nations report - and not in a good way

I despise the publication Jacobin, friendly with and in some cases publisher of people associated with the misogynist "Dirtbag Left." Jacobin published an article not long ago suggesting that feminism should not be about women.

Jacobin has nothing nice to say about feminism except of course "socialist feminism" which is, as Jacobin author and contemptible human being Doug Henwood explained:
“...about moving towards that ideal [of a more peaceful, more egalitarian society], and not merely placing women into high places while leaving the overall hierarchy of power largely unchanged. 
In other words, until women have demonstrated sufficiently that they have done enough for everybody else they should stop demanding a share of the power. Under socialist feminism women will learn to STFU and wait their turn. Perhaps that's why Henwood hates Hillary Clinton far more than he hates Donald Trump.

 Jacobin also hates Paul Krugman who has done far more to persuade people of the benefits of socialized medicine than all Jacobin authors combined.

And as Bari Weiss demonstrated, right-wingers find much to love about the Dirtbag Left, especially the misogyny.

I think there are definitely benefits to socializing many things. But I don't agree that all human problems will be solved by the Great Socialist Revolution.

But all that being said, what's not to like about the title of a recent Jacobin piece: It's Official - Steven Pinker is full of shit ?

The article itself contains the message of virtually every other article in Jacobin: "socialism is the answer" so besides the title, the real value of the piece is the link to a page which links to the United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

The Report cites Pinker:
Huge progress has been made in improving the quality of life for billions of people over the past two centuries, but it does not follow that “extreme poverty is being eradicated.”4 Many world leaders, economists, and pundits have enthusiastically promoted a self-congratulatory message, proclaiming progress against poverty to be “one of the greatest human achievements of our time,”5 and characterizing “the decline [in poverty]... to less than 10 per cent, [as] a huge achievement.”6 Others have paid tribute to the role of economic growth and capitalism in lifting a billion people “out of dire poverty into something approaching a decent standard of living.”7
Footnote 4 is: Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now (2018), p. 116.

Just last year Pinker was promoting Enlightenment Now and all his other socio-political views, in his role as celebrity intellectual, at the United Nations.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Who is Gregory Cochran?

As discussed previously on Pinkerite, one of the authors of the untested hypothesis, promoted by Steven Pinker, "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence"(NHAI) is the late Henry Harpending who has his very own profile as a "white nationalist" in the Southern Poverty Law Center web site.

Anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson seems to be one of the few academics who did a thorough critique of the NHAI, producing a paper How Jews Became Smart: Anti-"Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence."

I have never found any scholarly response to Ferguson's paper, including from any of the authors of the NHAI paper.

I did find one of the co-authors, Gregory Cochran, insulting Ferguson multiple times.

On Cochran's blog, originally co-authored with Harpending called West Hunter Cochran mentions Ferguson three times. In 2014 he made a reference to Ferguson, who was quoted by the NYTimes arguing against the theory that chimpanzees are inclined to violence. Cochran snipes:
But none of these things can really be true – because although they by no means prove that war is biologically innate among humans, this kind of evidence does suggest that it might be – and that is obviously impossible, by the most powerful of all epistemological principles. It would hurt Brian Ferguson’s feelings.
Nothing Ferguson says in the article Cochran links to has anything to do with Ferguson's feelings.

And then there is Cochran's admiration for Robert E. Howard the fiction author famous for Conan the Barbarian. Cochran mentions him at least eight times on the blog and thinks his "priors" were more accurate than a bunch of scientists:
But Howard’s priors were more accurate than those of the pots-not-people archeologists: more accurate than people like Excoffier and  Currat, who assume that there hasn’t been any population replacement in Europe since moderns displaced Neanderthals. More accurate than Chris Stringer,  more accurate than Brian Ferguson.
Cochran compares Howard to Ferguson in another blog post about theories on Polynesians in 2016:
If you want to approach this kind of problem with reasonable priors, read Robert E Howard, not Brian Ferguson.
Cochran also insulted Ferguson on Twitter.

Cochran has published in the usual right-wing race science-swilling media, like the racist Taki's Magazine which also publishes Steve Sailer.

As you might expect, Sailer is a big fan of Cochran's work. You can see him in this tweet exchange saying the only reason the claims in the NHAI paper have never been supported in the fourteen years after it was published, is because of a conspiracy to squelch it because it might be true.

And of course Cochran is a contributor at race science central, Quillette.

On his own blog, Cochran reveals he is a fan of HBD Chick and The Bell Curve.
Like many of us who are fascinated with human diversity, she has little or no interest in what are called race differences. The original impetus for “HBD blogging” seems to have been the reaction of thoughtful knowledgeable people to the self-righteous squealing and outright lying that followed The Bell Curve and before that Jensen’s 1969 monograph. No one it seems cares much about that any longer.
It's amusing that Cochran claims that HBD has nothing to do with "race differences" - the term HBD was coined by Steve Sailer, professional racist, and it is always used to indicate a belief in the intellectual inferiority of Black people - and the "squealing" about The Bell Curve is because of its claims of race and intelligence.

We know something about Cochran and Harpending, but what about Jason Hardy, the third co-author of NHAI? It seems that Hardy was a student of Cochran and/or Harpending at the University of Utah, but there's no evidence he's had anything to do with race science since the NHAI paper.

Here's the weird thing about Cochran and the University of Utah - according to his LinkedIn profile Cochran was adjunct professor of anthropology there from 2004 - 2015. But the Education section of his LinkedIn profile shows he has no credentials in anthropology. He has degrees in mathematics and physics.

Nevertheless Cochran has made a much bigger impact as an anthropologist than as a mathematician or physicist. In 2009 the LA Times ran a profile on Cochran. It's since been removed from the newspaper's web site but is still available via the Wayback Machine.

They even have a photo of Cochran with a caption:
Gregory Cochran in his home office in Albuquerque, N.M. Cochran, a physicist and genetics buff, and geneticist Henry Harpending have developed a controversial theory that the presence of many lethal genetic diseases affecting the brain among Ashkenazi Jews may also be responsible for increased intelligence in the population.
According to the article...
...They wrote up their theory and sent it off to a journal. It was rejected. 
Harpending said he gave it to an anthropologist friend, editor of another journal, who asked to publish it there. That plan was called off. The friend, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the topic, said the paper was clearly controversial and its extraordinary claims required extraordinary evidence -- which was lacking. 
The paper found a home in a 2006 issue of the Journal of Biosocial Science, published by Cambridge University, after its release online in 2005.
The theory quickly spread among anthropologists and geneticists.
Within a few months, "every academic I came in contact with knew about this," said R. Brian Ferguson, an anthropologist at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. Many found it irresistible. A young colleague told Ferguson that the paper convinced him of the power of using genetics to study behavioral differences among people.

To Ferguson, that was a dangerous idea. There may indeed be versions of genes that are unique to Ashkenazi Jews, but it would be impossible, he said, to prove that those genes are responsible for higher IQs.
"This is not a legitimate area of research," he said. 
Others are more receptive to the theory, despite its thorny implications.

Dr. Melvin Konner, a biological anthropologist at Emory University in Atlanta, said he's impressed by the theory's ability to explain why all the Ashkenazi diseases are clustered "on about five pages of a biochemistry textbook." But, he added, Cochran and Harpending still have to show that the genes play a direct role in brain development.
"There's evidence that some of them do," he said. "It's not a crazy idea. It's just not nearly a proven idea."
It would be easy to test the theory, said Steven Pinker, a Harvard cognition researcher: "See if carriers of the Ashkenazi-typical genetic mutations score higher on IQ tests than their noncarrier siblings." 
Cochran and Harpending readily acknowledge the need for such experiments. But they have no plans to do them. They say their role as theorists is to generate hypotheses that others can test. 
"One criticism about our paper is 'It can't mean anything because they didn't do any new experiments,' " Cochran said. "OK, then I guess Einstein's papers didn't mean anything either."

I always find it annoying when anybody refers to race science as "dangerous" because the real problem is that race science is a collection of untested just-so stories, as the saga of the NHAI demonstrates.

And I think all these men love to be considered dangerous for promoting race science. Probably makes them feel strong and powerful like Conan the Barbarian.

I interviewed Ferguson about NHAI and he never said anything about the theory being "dangerous" - he said it was very bad scholarship and untested.

Steven Pinker believes NHAI would be easy to test. And yet where are the tests? Why aren't Pinker and Cochran pushing for, or even funding those tests? I'm sure Pinker could talk one of his plutocrat contacts - like his friend Bill Gates - into funding such tests. And Pinker is undoubtedly wealthy enough himself to afford to fund tests, if he really cared about the NHAI hypothesis. And why wouldn't he? It is a big part of his beliefs from his tweeting links to race science articles in Quillette, to defending Linda Gottfredson and Noah Carl to his promotion and defense of the NHAI hypothesis.

If he is so certain that ethnicity and intelligence are interrelated, and the NHAI is a testable hypothesis to demonstrate that, you would think he would do everything in his power to get the NHAI tested and proven.

For his part Cochran isn't interested in doing experiments, but he nevertheless thinks the NHAI hypothesis is so impressive he compares it to Einstein's theories.

So who is Gregory Cochran? Based on what I have found, he is a self-important former adjunct professor of anthropology with no academic credentials in anthropology, a "genetics buff" who writes for race science-promoting and even racist media, and responds to serious critiques of his untested hypothesis not with scholarly arguments but with insults. 

As a scientist, I'd say Cochran is closer to Robert E. Howard than he is to Albert Einstein.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

RIP Michael Brooks

I had my differences with Michael Brooks, as I have with all Dirtbag Left-adjacent pundits, but he did a great service for those who oppose the race science bullshit of the IDW, Pinkerites and the racist Right with his discussion of Sam Harris's conversation with Ezra Klein, which I posted in May 2019 and am reposting here. His hatred for the Democratic Party aside, he was a really bright guy and he was only 36.

RIP Michael Brooks.


Pinkerite has mentioned this debate before in I Have a Nightmare: Steven Pinker, Quillette and the "biological reality of race" and Michael Brooks, sometime co-host with Sam Seder, offers some very worthwhile commentary. BONUS: he mentions The Pioneer Fund.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Chotiner v Williams: the New Yorker comes through again


So I am pleased but not necessarily surprised that the one media outlet that made an effort to seriously and critically examine the claims of Thomas Chatterton Williams is the New Yorker, in this interview Williams did with Isaac Chotiner.

I had already observed Williams' Koch connection. I think we'll be seeing Williams' Quillette byline any day now.

The Twitterati had some good takes:

I suspect Williams was so bad at answering Chotiner's questions because Williams did the letter on behalf of a right-wing grift.

But the best tweet is the moral of this story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf erases Pinker's race science support - Steven Pinker approves this message part 2

Steven Pinker believes the same
hereditarian claims used by
race science promoters.
Part 1 here

So I did a little Googling on Friedersdorf and according to the American Prospect, Friedersdorf is a Koch man and long-time hawker of the right-wing free speech grift.
It's not just the IDW itself: Some of its key popularizers also get Koch funding. Bari Weiss and The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf—who has been one of the most visible defenders of Peterson in the mainstream media—have both received cash prizes from the Koch-funded Reason Foundation, where David Koch himself sits on the board of trustees. And remember “The Coddling of the American Mind”? Well, one of its co-authors, Greg Lukianoff, is the head of that campus free-speech watchdog, FIRE. That organization is funded, of course, by the Koch brothers (for good measure, the Charles Koch Institute also did a laudatory write-up of the piece). 
Now that I know about Friedersdorf I have to wonder if he has an obligation to defend other Koch people because they all work for the same guy. Especially since it appears that The Atlantic is part of Team Koch:
The Atlantic is perhaps the worst offender. Last year it launched “The Speech Wars,” a reporting project that seeks “to understand where free speech is in danger and where it has been abused.” Even though the magazine had just been bought by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs and was seeing all-time high circulation and web traffic, The Atlantic solicited funding for the project from none other than the Charles Koch Foundation (the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Fetzer Institute are also underwriters). 
When I asked The Atlantic for comment, a spokesperson replied that “editorial control for this series—as with every piece of journalism we create—rests solely with The Atlantic.” But the magazine refused to deny that reporters and editors with “The Speech Wars” are ever in contact with the Koch Foundation. Editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg did not respond to my request for comment, and The Atlantic has not disclosed how much money it has received from the Koch Foundation.
So it is possible Friedersdorf isn't really a fan boy or a lazy, incompetent journalist, but rather a very partisan journalist.

In any case, Friedersdorf tried to erase Pinker's race science activities recently in The Atlantic. We discussed the Pinker tweet in part 1, now let's look at the other issue, per Friedersdorf:
...and to a 2006 article Pinker published in The New Republic reviewing the work of three researchers from the University of Utah who argued, per Pinker’s description of their Journal of Biosocial Science paper, “that Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic advantage in intelligence, and that the advantage arose from natural selection for success in middleman occupations (moneylending, selling, and estate management) during the first millennium of their existence in northern Europe, from about 800 C.E. to 1600 C.E.” 
Pinker reviewed evidence for and against their hypothesis at length, reached no solid conclusion of his own, highlighted the potential downsides of such research and the problems with banning it, and did all this in a context he understood as follows: 
The idea of innate Jewish intelligence is certainly an improvement over the infamous alternative generalization, a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. And attention to the talents needed in the middleman niche (whether they are biological or cultural) could benefit other middleman minorities, such as Armenians, Lebanese, Ibos, and overseas Chinese and Indians, who have also been targets of vicious persecution because of their economic success. And yet the dangers are real.
This seems rather far afield and easily distinguishable from favoring a revival of scientific racism.
As with the Pinker Bell Curve tweet, this doesn't prove what Friedersdorf thinks it proves.

Friedersdorf doesn't bother to give the name of the "work" or the  "three researchers" but I am very familiar with The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (NHAI) hypothesis, an untested speculation that was promoted by the NYTimes' Nicholas Wade, as well as Steven Pinker.

Anthropologist Brian Ferguson wrote a response to the paper called How Jews Became Smart: Anti-'Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence. And I spoke to Ferguson about it a year ago:

The basic hypothesis was that Ashkenazi Jews have 18 inherited physical conditions that are bad for the health, some fatal, some just uncomfortable... And the argument... was that these may have been selected for because in heterozygotes - that means people who have one copy of the gene but not both copies of the gene - these genes confer higher intelligence and that in a period from about 800 to 1650 AD, Eastern European Jews were confined to high cognition occupations such a money-lending... And so having one copy of the gene gave them higher intelligence and that offset the deaths or other diminished reproduction from having two copies of the gene or otherwise. 
So this was a hypothesis and it was a pretty stark hypothesis because it was proposing that particular conditions would confer a five-point IQ increase. That's a lot. It's testable. It was proposed in the journal which was formerly called The Eugenics Review and it got a tremendous amount of attention. Nicholas Wade brought it to the readers of the New York Times twice. 
Now one question is why is an untested hypothesis getting so much attention? You would think that if they found evidence for it - but there was no evidence. This was an untested hypothesis. Steven Pinker helped legitimize this. Well what struck me was that him saying that it was good science and when you actually look at the science, it's not good science. I mean they get the wrong diseases in some cases, they, if you look at their proposition that these different diseases - just the idea that these diseases boost IQ - if you look the actual science of it, that’s not what it says...
Ferguson is very clear: Steve Pinker helped legitimize this.

And Pinker is still doing it right up to the present time as I noted in May:

Steven Pinker, as the Politico article fails to mention, is in the public record as a supporter of the NHAI paper. Some years ago he gave a speech, still available on Youtube, called "Jews, Genes and Intelligence." Although he never bluntly states that the NHAI hypothesis is correct, he begins the lecture by strongly defending a pillar of race science belief - that "race" is biological: 
Pinker then spends the rest of the lecture coming up with support for the NHAI hypothesis.
I think it's safe to say that the current approach at least the approach for 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 there are that it's 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.
So contrary to his misleading self-presentation in the Politico piece, Pinker is not a neutral observer of a controversy about NYTimes "censorship" or simply a believer in free speech - he is a devoted partisan of the cause of race science. As is another co-author of the piece, Jonathan Haidt.
Pinker feels so strongly about race being biological that he says not believing it is the same as not believing in reality itself:

"reality is what refuses to go away when I stop believing in it."

Although Friedersdorf doesn't name the paper's authors, Pinker does in the New Republic article Friedersdorf mentions:
The Utah researchers Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending (henceforth CH&H) proposed that Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic advantage in intelligence...
Maybe Friedersdorf doesn't mention any names because if you Google the late Henry Harpending you will find he has an entry on the Southern Poverty Law Center web site under white nationalist.

From everything I've seen of Cochran, he is a piece of work too and I will be devoting a post to him one of these days. He has many insulting things to say about Brian Ferguson, but no counter-arguments that I have found. Cochran, naturally has written for Quillette.

What most interests me about Friedersdorf's defense of Pinker and the NHAI hypothesis is that he quotes Pinker not expressing disagreement with it, but rather expressing fear about what would happen if it turned out to be true:
The idea of innate Jewish intelligence is certainly an improvement over the infamous alternative generalization, a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. And attention to the talents needed in the middleman niche (whether they are biological or cultural) could benefit other middleman minorities, such as Armenians, Lebanese, Ibos, and overseas Chinese and Indians, who have also been targets of vicious persecution because of their economic success. And yet the dangers are real.
However "the idea of innate Jewish intelligence" is not new. I pointed out recently that the alleged innate higher intelligence of Jews appears - along with the inevitable flip-side of race science, the alleged innate lower intelligence of Black people - in an article by segregationist Henry E. Garrett, "The Equalitarian Dogma" published in Mankind Quarterly in 1961:

It appears to me that the NHAI paper didn't discover the possibility of innate superior intellectual ability of Jews, but was rather an attempt to find a "scientific" explanation for a long-held race science belief.

What's most disturbing about all this is that there is a group of race science promoters with high profiles, who are considered respectable compared to the obvious racists like Stefan Molyneux and Steve Sailer: Pinker, Andrew Sullivan, Jonathan Haidt and of course the probably dozens of "biosocial criminologists" hoping to mainstream the idea that Black people are innately more criminal than other "races."

As I have documented, Steven Pinker promoted the career of racist Steve Sailer for years, even including a truly awful article by Sailer that as far as I can see has nothing to do with science or nature, in a collection of "the best" science and nature writing.

Pinker stopped acknowledging Sailer's existence some time after 2011. But Pinker has never stated it was a mistake to promote Sailer. It's possible Sailer has emails or even recordings of Pinker making blunt statements about race and has threatened to release them if Pinker ever denounced Sailer. 

Sailer himself will tell you he had an influence on Pinker.

But I think more likely Pinker has never denounced Sailer because Pinker agrees with Sailer, but Sailer became a liability to Pinker's career.

But the career of Steve Sailer demonstrates there are many old white right-wing plutocrats who are happy to support race science promoters - even those as obviously racist as Sailer. So why wouldn't a Koch or a Thiel do the same thing with "celebrity intellectual" Pinker?

And with all that money and all those Pinker fan boys in established media they might get away with it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf erases Pinker's race science support - Steven Pinker approves this message part 1

Steven Pinker approves this message
I was just talking about Steve Sailer marveling over how Steven Pinker gets away with promoting race science without blowback, unlike Larry Summers or James Watson, and I suggested that Pinker's avoidance of blowback is due, in addition to Pinker's endless campaign of self-promotion and lack of intellectual integrity, to his many fan boys in established media.

So what do they (the authors of the linguist letter) have against Pinker? Four passages convey the argument. 
We set aside questions of Dr. Pinker’s tendency to move in the proximity of what The Guardian called a revival of “scientific racism”, his public support for David Brooks (who has been argued to be a proponent of “gender essentialism”), his expert testimonial in favor of Jeffrey Epstein (which Dr. Pinker now regrets), or his dubious past stances on rape and feminism. 
In the first clause of this indictment, the signatories do not accuse Pinker of “scientific racism” with the attendant obligation to substantiate the charge. They merely claim that Pinker tends to “move” in “the proximity” of what one newspaper “called” a revival of scientific racism. These are the same tenuous, abuse-prone, guilty-by-association tactics that the far right has used to tar academics by linking them to Communism or Islamism. 
The letter links to a Pinker Tweet that states, “The Bell Curve: I don't agree with it on race, but public discussion of the book has been ignorant and dishonest”––in other words, a Tweet that repudiates rather than validates the part of the book that critics attacked as racist––and to a 2006 article Pinker published in The New Republic reviewing the work of three researchers from the University of Utah who argued, per Pinker’s description of their Journal of Biosocial Science paper, “that Ashkenazi Jews have a genetic advantage in intelligence, and that the advantage arose from natural selection for success in middleman occupations (moneylending, selling, and estate management) during the first millennium of their existence in northern Europe, from about 800 C.E. to 1600 C.E.” Pinker reviewed evidence for and against their hypothesis at length, reached no solid conclusion of his own, highlighted the potential downsides of such research and the problems with banning it, and did all this in a context he understood as follows: 
The idea of innate Jewish intelligence is certainly an improvement over the infamous alternative generalization, a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. And attention to the talents needed in the middleman niche (whether they are biological or cultural) could benefit other middleman minorities, such as Armenians, Lebanese, Ibos, and overseas Chinese and Indians, who have also been targets of vicious persecution because of their economic success. And yet the dangers are real.
This seems rather far afield and easily distinguishable from favoring a revival of scientific racism.
Now I don't know if Friedersdorf grabbed this opportunity to erase Pinker's race science support through his love of Pinker or through sheer journalistic laziness or both. As a mediocre white man, it's possible Friedersdorf feels an obligation to defend and support that most successful, most mediocre of white men, Steven Pinker.

In any case, if Friedersdorf had put in the tiniest bit of effort, he would understand the significance of the links provided in the letter. Perhaps the linguists thought media people like him would make an effort, underestimating just how lazy or deliberately obtuse are the men with comfortable perches in established media.

So about the tweet...
The letter links to a Pinker Tweet that states, “The Bell Curve: I don't agree with it on race, but public discussion of the book has been ignorant and dishonest”––in other words, a Tweet that repudiates rather than validates the part of the book that critics attacked as racist–
I've already discussed Pinker's tweet, which is a perfect example of the "having it both ways" lack of intellectual integrity of Steven Pinker. Here it is again:

If Friedersdorf had made the tiniest effort to look and reflect, he would see that the article Pinker links to, "A Tale of Two Bell Curves" is in Quillette, a leading supporter of race science, written by Ben and Bo Winegard, both devoted to race science, sometimes known as "Human Biodiversity" (HBD).

And Friedersdorf might have perceived that the Winegard article does not demonstrate Pinker's claim that "public discussion of the book has been ignorant and dishonest."  Since at least Stephen Jay Gould's 1994 review of the book, the public discussion of The Bell Curve has centered around critics taking issue with the book's claim about black intelligence, to quote Gould:
Herrnstein and Murray's second claim, the lightning rod for most commentary extends the argument for innate cognitive stratification to a claim that racial differences in IQ are mostly determined by genetic causes—small difference for Asian superiority over Caucasian, but large for Caucasians over people of African descent.
There is no "Two Bell Curves" - there is one Bell Curve with defenders of race science refusing to seriously respond to critics of the race science promoted in The Bell Curve.

 And then there is the fact that the Quillette article itself is in one hundred percent agreement with The Bell Curve's claim about racial IQ differences and genetics. The Winegards explicitly rule out all environmental possibilities for lower IQ test scores for African Americans (my highlight):
Of course, there are other possible explanations of the Black-White gap, such as parenting styles, stereotype threat, and a legacy of slavery/discrimination among others. However, to date, none of these putative causal variables has been shown to have a significant effect on the IQ gap, and no researcher has yet made a compelling case that environmental variables can explain the gap. This is certainly not for lack of effort; for good reason, scholars are highly motivated to ascertain possible environmental causes of the gap and have tried for many years to do just that.
So apparently unless Pinker declares explicitly his devotion to race science, lazy pseudo-journalists and well-platformed media fan boys will continue to ignore his activities, which not only includes sending his followers to an article that supports the claims of the Bell Curve, but also all the other activities I've been documenting on this blog for the past two years.

And that includes Steven Pinker's promotion of the Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence hypothesis. I will look at that in part 2.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Right before she quit the NYTimes Bari Weiss was planning a story on Quillette

Quillette's Toby Young pushing the right-wing "cancel culture" narrative of course:
I’m disappointed that Bari Weiss has resigned from the New York Times and not just because she was one of the few voices of reason on the paper. A while ago, I flew to New York at Bari’s request to be interviewed by her for a forthcoming profile of a group of maverick writers and intellectuals in what was billed as a follow-up to her famous piece on the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ — a kind of Junior College branch. 
Among those to be featured were the African American essayist Coleman Hughes; the Australian editor-in-chief of Quillette, Claire Lehmann; and the Swedish columnist Paulina Neuding. We spent an enjoyable afternoon together at the Times building on Eighth Avenue, having our photographs taken and being wined and dined by Weiss in the boardroom. I was looking forward to seeing the piece.
Every one of them is on staff at Quillette except Coleman Hughes
  • Claire Lehmann — Editor in Chief, Sydney | claire@quillette.com
  • Toby Young — Associate Editor, London | toby@quillette.com 
  • Paulina Neuding — European Editor, Stockholm | paulina@quillette.com 
Hughes is apparently kept on by Quillette to attack Black writers and Black projects.
So my guess is that Weiss quit at least in part, specifically because she was discouraged from writing the Quillette piece. Young writes:
As Weiss wrote in her resignation letter: ‘Op-eds that would have easily been published just two years ago would now get an editor or a writer in serious trouble, if not fired. If a piece is perceived as likely to inspire backlash internally or on social media, the editor or writer avoids pitching it. If she feels strongly enough to suggest it, she is quickly steered to safer ground. And if, every now and then, she succeeds in getting a piece published that does not explicitly promote progressive causes, it happens only after every line is carefully massaged, negotiated and caveated.’
"Just two years ago" in May 2018 Weiss published her "famous piece" promoting the Intellectual Dark Web.

A month after that, Weiss can be seen partying with the Quillette gang.

Top tweet: Pamela Paresky is a Quillette author and works for the Koch-funded FIRE, Lenore Skenazy has been featured on a Quillette podcast, and Cathy Young is of course the contemptible GamerGate promoting Cathy Young.

Bottom tweet: Bari Weiss and Quillette author (also featured in the Koch-connected Spiked) Jacob Mchangama.

My guess is someone at the Times decided that Weiss had to choose between being a writer for the New York Times or being public relations coordinator for the "Intellectual Dark Web." And Weiss chose the IDW.

There were rumors that Weiss would be doing a project with Andrew Sullivan and Peter Thiel (IDW Eric Weinstein's boss) but so far nothing.

Young is trying to use all this for his own project:
I think the time has come to open a US branch of the Free Speech Union, the organization I set up in Britain earlier this year that stands up for the speech rights of its members. If you want to get involved, email me at info@freespeechunion.us.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Steven Pinker and his fan boys

Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections
Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right
and hereditarian connections
I am certainly not interested in saying anything untrue about Steven Pinker. I think his verifiable history of promoting race science and in the case of Steve Sailer, promoting the career of a bona fide racist, while at the same time swanning around the world, expressing his opinions on everything and anything in the role of - in the words of the recent NYTimes hagiography - "celebrity intellectual" is sufficiently ghastly sans embellishment.

And if Pinker's fan boys are to be believed, I haven't said anything untrue about Pinker. Because if I did say something untrue about their hero and sometime shoe model, wouldn't they tell me about it?

But all I can get out of them is content-free insults.

My article Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections, especially seems to enrage them to the point of inarticulation. Just the concept alone, a diagram containing information, short-circuits their brains.

It's annoying enough when Steve Sailer and other recipients of wingnut welfare, like Quillette staff members Colin Wright and Bo Winegard insult me personally without explaining what is wrong with the data presented -

- but even Pinker's college professor fan boys do it.

For instance, Lee Jussim a "distinguished professor" and chair of the department of psychology at Rutgers suggested that it was insane to present Pinker's connections in a diagram format.

Now Jussim is in deep with Quillette and uses segregationist terminology and his career seems to consist of saying over and over: "stereotypes are real" so I don't hold him in very high regard to begin with. But as wacky as I think he is, I still find it bizarre that he is so repulsed by information in pictorial form. It's all verifiable stuff. It's a fact that Steven Pinker chose to publish the work of Steve Sailer in the 2004 edition of "The Best of Science and Nature Writing." It's in the public record. Pinker even admits it on his web site.

So why is it so crazy that I drew a line between Pinker and Sailer, and Pinker and the book he edited? I explain why I did so in the text. Why does Lee Jussim consider this "nutso"?

And now another college professor has come at me over Pinker. My article Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections is posted at Academia and I occasionally get comments. This weekend I got a couple from Douglas Eckberg, retired professor of Sociology from Winthrop University.

He stopped by to suggest that my work is somehow tainted because I am a "left-wing partisan" (I've written about Steven Pinker's hypocrisy on this issue) and then suggested I don't understand Pinker's work (presumably he classifies me with Stephen Jay Gould as well as all those New Yorker and NYTimes reviewers who have panned Pinker's books, as just too stupid to comprehend Pinker's brilliance.) Naturally, he does not say what I got wrong about Pinker.

Steve Sailer marveled that unlike James Watson or Lawrence Summers, Pinker has received very little blow-back over his support for hereditarian hypotheses. Although like all "Summers was a martyr to political correctness" complainers, Sailer neglects to mention that Summers went to work at the Obama administration after stepping down as president of Harvard. Although since Sailer considers Obama his arch-enemy maybe Sailer considered that a demotion.

I suggested Pinker gets away with it because of Pinker's relentless self-promotion coupled with Pinker's lack of intellectual integrity. But another strong possibility is Pinker's fan boys in mainstream media.

This was first most glaringly obvious when Pinker, speaking at a Koch-funded event, claimed the New York Times among others radicalized the alt-right. He received some negative response for that so the New York Times got one of Pinker's fan boys Jesse Singal (also on the Koch payroll but best known for antagonizing the trans community) to defend Pinker. His piece was so dishonest PZ Myers responded:
But then this kind of disingenuous denial of reality, of focusing superficially on he said/she said note-taking, is exactly what the New York Times specializes in.
It certainly does when it comes to Pinker. Recently Pinker got to play free speech martyr because some linguists did not want him to represent them. He was defended everywhere from the National Review to Mother Jones. It was his dream come true I imagine - much like Christiana Hoff Sommer's response to someone yelling Black Lives Matter at her in front of a camera.

And the New York Times gave the martyr a big spread, How a Famous Harvard Professor Became a Target Over His Tweets.

One of the very few voices speaking for the linguists, Todd Synder, wrote a response to the deck-stacking by Michael Powell in the NYTimes:
Meanwhile, it is the public signatories of (the linguist letter) — especially early-career linguists like myself — who have already been met with threats of abuse and retaliation. Both from online trolls, fans of Pinker and the “Intellectual Dark Web” (unfortunately unsurprising, given the current state of the online world) and from some more senior voices in the field, enough so that some non-signatories of TOL felt the need to write a public letter condemning such reactions. If anyone in this story is in danger of suffering any actual consequences as a result of “fraught cultural battles”, it’s people like me whose careers are potentially jeopardized by willing to take a public stance which threatens to upset the status quo. And all the more so for my colleagues who are women, or who are non-binary, who are people of color, who already have a tougher time fighting for a career, and who attract an unequal amount of the harassment and abuse from Pinker supporters.  
Pinker sees himself as someone bravely standing against public opinion, but he represents the status quo, not its opposition. His is the voice that “carries power”, not the letter writers’. It would be nice if the Times would reflect that actuality, rather than making Pinker out to be the powerless victim.
Although I should say that I was not impressed by the linguist letter which deliberately put aside Pinker's support for race science:
Though no doubt related, we set aside questions of Dr. Pinker’s tendency to move in the proximity of what The Guardian called a revival of “scientific racism”,
The Letter was so weak and feeble a statement against Pinker I could easily believe it was written by friends of Pinker in order to give him a chance to play the free speech martyr. That has ended up being its main impact.

It's my impression that there is a kind of gentlemen's agreement among the mostly white men who run established media, to avoid embarrassing Steven Pinker, their celebrity intellectual, with questions about his support for race science.

But maybe that's why Pinker's fan boys get so tongue-tied with rage by my article with the diagram. It has an impact. The diagram makes it clear at a glance that Pinker has connections with the alt-right, conservatives and hereditarians. It may not be considered significant by Pinker or the media, since I'm a nobody and they are big on credentials, but people do look at it, and unlike most of the text-dense and often very badly written academic papers available online, people can understand the information easily and quickly. I have a background as a technical writer - helping people to absorb complex information quickly is my job. But it's not what you'd call a prestigious intellectual job, not like being an op-ed writer for the Times like David Brooks.

The fan boys hate the diagram, not because anything in it is incorrect, but because I have ignored the gentlemen's agreement and embarrassed, if not Pinker himself (I believe he has no sense of shame) but rather the fan boys.

Meanwhile Pinker needs a safe space on Twitter so he has set his account so only those he follows or mentions can comment on his tweets.

In this tweet we see Pinker promoting two other race science proponents

Friday, July 17, 2020

More good work from Colbert

Ugh, Steven Pinker, Thomas Chatterton Williams, J. K. Rowling, Andrew Sullivan and all the rest of those race science-swilling, Koch-funded and transphobic creeps can really bum you out in high doses.

Every now and then Pinkerite has to touch base with the good guys.

Steven Colbert is doing very good work against racism lately. First with Jon Stewart and now with W. Kamau Bell.

I've been a fan of Bell since I first heard of him in 2012. I loved his standup work.

In this episode of The Late Show, Colbert and Bell discuss the history of race and how it developed out of an imperialist, economic imperative. Really stellar work for a talk show.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Straight talk from a Pinker fan

Steven Pinker, it has been well established, is a fan of race pseudo-science, but is a weasel about it.

But Pinker's fans, many of whom are Trump supporters, know exactly what Pinker and his gang like Quillette, the IDW and many of the signers of the Harper's Letter really stand for. And it isn't a pure, disinterested love of open and honest discourse.

The honesty expressed in the tweet from Left Abandoned was as refreshing as the bigotry was extreme.

Number one on the list is of course race science.

This is who Pinker's fans are - because that is who Pinker is.

The goal of Pinker and his friends is to establish race science, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-trans bigotry and misogyny as "moderate" ideas.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Cancelled by Thomas Chatterton Williams

Alas, fallout from my criticism of the Harper's Letter - Pinkerite has been cancelled by the instigator of the Letter, the self-important, Koch-friendly Thomas Chatterton Williams.

I found this out on the very day that Williams reported that his (I guess former) friend had to "self-expel" from Williams' home in the French countryside for speaking ill of Bari Weiss without providing enough backup.

There's just something so funny about this, I was laughing until I was out of breath. 

I think it's the combination of the location - the French countryside (and now includes a chateau)  plus throwing his friend out for insufficient argument plus over Bari Weiss plus his impulse to share it on Twitter plus the ever-popular stock character The Hypocrite.

Although apparently Williams deleted the tweets at his wife's request.

Not only is the immortal Thomas Chatterton Williams thread a meme, but now "self-expelled" is a thing.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Another pundit compares Trump's strategy to the Reichstag Fire

NYTimes Roger Cohen:
Trump is preparing the ground to contest any loss to Joe Biden and remain president, aided, no doubt, by Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department. 
I know, it’s unthinkable. So was the Reichstag fire. Europeans, like Americans, should focus on just how unfunny Trump is.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Koch-connected and transphobic Letter participants

According to SourceWatch:
As of February 2020, Charles Koch Institute listed the Reason Foundation as a "participating organization" on its website.
The Reason Foundation publishes Reason Magazine which recently bragged that 14% of the signers of the Harper's Letter are Reason contributors, with another six recently promoted by Reason.
There are also a whole lot of Reason contributors here, including Deirdre McCloskey, Cathy Young, Jonathan Rauch, Jonathan Haidt, Emily Yoffe, Jesse Singal, Kmele Foster, Katie Herzog, John McWhorter, Kat Rosenfield, Nadine Strossen, Laura Kipnis, Wendy Kaminer, Francis Fukuyama, and Malcolm Gladwell. (On it, too, are recent Reason interview subjects Meghan Daum, Coleman Hughes, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Steven Pinker, Bari Weiss, and Garry Kasparov.)
Thomas Chatterton Williams, a sensible young part-black man of letters, has organized an open letter in Harper’s by old-fashioned center-left liberals against cancel culture.
I think the Letter is likely a project Williams dreamed up together with someone representing Koch interests, which has been for quite some time trying to influence the media and academia through free speech grifts.

Last week, Kmele Foster, Matt Welch, and Michael Moynihan interviewed the conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan for their podcast, The Fifth Column. The hosts and their guest spent much of the hourlong interview discussing the bellicose state of political discourse and left-wing activists who refuse to debate their opponents and even their allies, including Sullivan. “The only right that gay people had, for the longest time, was the the First Amendment right,” Sullivan said. 
I'm surprised Sullivan wasn't asked to sign the Letter, especially since like many funded by Koch (including Letter signers Pinker and Haidt,) he's a fan of race science and appears to be tight with "HBD Chick" a pal of Steve Sailer.

It's funny to see Welch trying to deflect from Koch race science support in the article:
No, I don't want to hang out professionally or personally with Nazis and/or race/IQ obsessives...
You do, Matt Welch. You already do.

Welch tries to use the "but Lefties signed the Letter" tactic:
The vast majority of public-facing writers and intellectuals I see scoffing at "cancel culture" and dismissing as a single tiresome monolith a grouping that includes Katha Pollitt, Martin Amis, Shadi Hamid, Margaret Atwood, Greil Marcus, George Packer, Michelle Goldberg, Randi Weingarten, and Zaid Jilani, are at some point just telling on themselves. You do not want to hear left-of-center thinkers bemoaning the free speech "illiberalism" on the left, and you are not curious whether at least a handful of people you have previously respected might have a legitimate concern or two about an issue you claim to hold dear. Noted.
I think those Lefties were invited to sign the Letter - a Letter that on the surface sounds high-minded and craftily avoided naming names or specifics about the cases they were complaining about - exactly so that its devisers could claim bi-partisan support.

And two of those Lefties are known as transphobes. And Jilani is a fan of Quillette an author at Quillette.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

J. K. Rowling and the Feckless Ego

Steven Pinker was very pleased that J. K. Rowling was a signer of the "free speech" Letter along with a bunch of the wealthy and the famous and Quillette authors who don't appreciate criticism from the hoi polloi.

Rowling, who, as her Twitter profile says, is a writer who sometimes writes under a man's name...

...apparently decided that being known for writing fantasy books and being worth, at least in 2017, a billion dollars (earned while masquerading as a man), wasn't enough, so she went after one of the least powerful groups in the world: transgender people.

Trans people make up a tiny minority of the US population (0.6%) and the AMA noted last year that anti-trans violence was on the rise.

Rowling's reputation as a transphobe has been two years in the making.

J. K. Rowling has been accused of transphobia thanks to tweets like this:

It should be noted that Rowling will be 55 soon. Does she really want to draw the line for being a woman at the ability to menstruate? 

Rowling's feckless, reckless attacks on transpeople resulted in criticism, which resulted in her presenting herself as a brave hero if not an outright martyr.

Which reminds me of something economist Paul Krugman said about the very wealthy:

It should also be noted that Rowling, like Claire Lehmannwhose publication Quillette is rank with transphobia, used the threat of a lawsuit against a critic - because that's what people who love free speech do.

Update - seen on Twitter recently - Rowling accepting praise for her alleged heroism.

Even more heroics from Rowling

How J.K. Rowling helped kill a proposed American LGBTQ civil rights law
After the historic Supreme Court ruling that LGBTQ people are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Democrats tried to use the momentum to bring the Equality Act to a vote in the Senate. The proposed law would make it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, health care, and other areas. 
Two Republican senators quickly spiked the move, with one of them citing British Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to claim that the bill didn’t have enough “empathy” for those who want to discriminate. 
Related: Staff at J.K. Rowling’s publisher won’t work on her new book after her anti-trans rants