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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Jerry Coyne defends Steven Pinker again

Jerry Coyne generates another aggrieved whine-fest on behalf of Steven Pinker.

Coyne writes:
I’ve never seen Steve commit a shoddy act nor engage in ad hominem arguments.
But I documented Pinker doing just that in January of this year.

Coyne also writes:
This is puzzling to me as he’s a nice guy and can’t be accused of Misogyny and Nazism Through Tweeting. 

Later Coyne says:
He’s also been accused of being an alt-righter, and that’s the most mendacious accusation of all. Pinker is on the Left, though more toward the center than are, say, the Justice Democrats. He donated a sizable sum to the Democratic Party during the last election cycle, and I know from conversations with him that he’s not the neo-Nazi you’d guess from reading, say, Ph*ryng*l*.
The word Ph*ryng*l* refers to PZ Myers blog Pharyngula.

If you do a search on Pinker in Myers' blog, what you will discover is that Myers was once just as much a fan of Pinker as Coyne. But unlike Coyne, learning about Pinker's race science connections and his defense of the alt-right - which, as Myers rightly observers was really an excuse to attack the left - Myers has changed his view of Pinker. (Just as I had once been a fan of Coyne but by 2011 began to reconsider.)

Now it isn't that Coyne is simply loyal to Pinker - if you read Coyne's blog you will find that he basically agrees with Pinker - and Quillette - about everything, but especially the misogyny and Islamaphobia.

Naturally Coyne doesn't mention Pinker's connections to race science promoters Razib Khan and Steve Sailer. Pinker has promoted both their careers. And then there is Pinker's support for Quillette, a magazine that publishes so much that is agreeable to white supremacists that American Renaissance has reprinted many Quillette articles.

Quillette's founder Claire Lehmann, whom Pinker has never criticized to my knowledge, but rather only the opposite, is clearly a right-winger, not only because of her work for far-right Rebel Media but because of her classic right-wing positions on issues like, most recently, the poor.

Pinker himself pushed the "marriage is the answer to violence" trope of the right in "Better Angels" and I explain here how the data demonstrate that marriage rates and violence rates decreased together beginning around 1990.

Lehmann is a big fan of professional misogynist Camille Paglia. Pinker described Paglia as a "feminist" in "The Blank Slate." This is what Paglia thinks of women.
"If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."
But in the mind of Steven Pinker, a person can have absolute contempt for women and yet at the same time be a feminist.

As I have demonstrated, Pinker claimed to be appalled by the beliefs of the alt-right but at the same time recommends the work of the very people who claim black people are innately more violent and stupid than other races.

So how can Steven Pinker claim he isn't a right-winger and a racist and a misogynist while supporting and promoting right-wingers and racists and misogynists?

Having it both ways is an irritating feature of "The Blank Slate." Pinker can write, in refutation of the scarecrow theory of violent behavior, "The sad fact is that despite the repeated assurances that 'we know the conditions that breed violence,' we barely have a clue," and then, a few pages later, "It is not surprising, then, that when African American teenagers are taken out of underclass neighborhoods they are no more violent or delinquent than white teenagers." Well, that should give us one clue. He sums the matter up: "With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution." This is just another way of saying that it is in human nature to socialize and to be socialized, which is, pragmatically, exactly the view of the "intellectuals."
Pinker's "having it both ways" tendency is so bad I caught him doing it in the same sentence:
And there he is doing it in "Better Angels." You can't say we don't know if marriage is the cause or effect and then in the very same sentence say it seems to be the cause. If you have decided that something is the cause, you argue for it. What kind of rhetorical bullshit is that, to say "we don't know" and then declare we do know in the same sentence?
Pinker seems to exist in a "having it both ways" reality. 
I've called Pinker a weasel and PZ Myers called him a lying shit-weasel, but let us consider the possibility that Steven Pinker, rather than deliberately arguing out of both sides of his face as some kind of obnoxious strategy, simply does not understand that you cannot logically claim two incompatible positions are both true at the same time.

It's possible that Pinker has succeeded thanks to money and connections and his success has convinced others that he is bright. And there are enough people in this world - people like Jerry Coyne - who are themselves so deficient in logical and coherent thought that Pinker's deficiencies don't register with them.

And since the deficiencies don't register, they can't fathom why people like Myers find them so irritating. And so they explain it to themselves like this:
As best I can understand, people don’t like him because he’s famous and they’re not...

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