Friday, April 12, 2019

Pinkerite graphophobia: meet Colin Wright and Lee Jussim

I've observed previously how many fans of Steven Pinker are appalled by the concept of representing information in graphic form.

Steve Sailer's fans don't much like it either.

Here we see Quillette author Colin Wright, who clearly hasn't read the diagram's accompanying text, claiming there's no validity to the diagram.

And also that it's insane and truly kooky.

According to his Quillette bio Wright has a PhD in evolutionary biology from UC Santa Barbara. Considering that UC Santa Barbara is a center for evolutionary psychology and the professional home of Leda Cosmides, John Tooby and Napoleon Chagnon it's maybe not so surprising that Wright seems more interested in evolutionary psychology than evolutionary biology. Which would make him very useful to Quillette, which is devoted to promoting evolutionary psychology. I will be looking at some of its articles on EP soon.

It's odd though, that the IDW and its allies didn't seem at all perturbed by the Bari Weiss  NYTimes article in May 2018 "Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web" linking together some of the same people that I did - and the Weiss article provides even less explanation than my diagram and text.

Weiss links Steven Pinker to four extremists, ever so casually, in a single paragraph, like this:
Go a click in one direction and the group is enhanced by intellectuals with tony affiliations like Steven Pinker at Harvard. But go a click in another and you’ll find alt-right figures like Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich (the #PizzaGate huckster) and Alex Jones (the Sandy Hook shooting denier).
I only linked Pinker to two of those four extremists. And I explained who they were and why I was linking them.

And Wright wasn't the only one to have such an extreme response to my diagram. I received dozens of hostile tweets claiming it was evidence I was crazy, and also, "nutso" per Rutgers professor and Quillette author Lee Jussim.


(Jussim is Nate Honeycutt's PhD advisor. Honeycutt was the 2014 honoree for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) Student Spotlight. FIRE, as discussed yesterday, is funded by the Kochs and other right-wing plutocrats.)

So why the almost primitive aversion to graphics from Wright and Jussim? Why the need to claim that factually accurate information is "truly kooky" simply because it's presented as an image?

One theory I have is that many IDW people are not big readers and had not seen the Weiss article.  So instead of learning of the Pinker to Molyneux connection for the first time from someone who admires and lionizes the IDW, they received the information from a critic who thinks there might be something disturbing about the fact that, for good reasons, Steven Pinker is counted as part of the same group as Stefan Molyneux.

The fact that Steven Pinker has promoted the career of a flat-out racist like Steve Sailer, and in such a well documented way must be unpleasant to some of Pinker's admirers, but rather than reassessing their hero-worship of Pinker, they prefer to declare whoever (except Bari Weiss) mentions this unpleasant fact to be craaaaaazy.


Speaking of Steve Sailer, after arguing with IDWs on Twitter about the diagram, it occurred to me that it might be time to revise it. It would be more appropriate to link David Duke to Richard Spencer rather than Molyneux. I found a tweet from Molyneux denouncing Duke.

Richard Spencer however can be seen in this video in a car with David Duke and it seems they coordinated during the Charlottesville disaster.

David Duke is a fan of Steve Sailer too, but I'm not sure exactly what Steve Sailer's opinion is of Duke, although I have never found him criticizing him. I asked Sailer directly on Twitter, but so far no response.

I didn't know much about Lee Jussim before tangling with him and Pamela Paresky and their friends on Twitter the other day over Jesse Singal's hypocrisy. Jussim is apparently in deep with the IDW, but I didn't think he was a hardcore proponent of race science. So I was really surprised to find him retweeting John Paul Wright in a contentious exchange between Jussim and some people I follow on Twitter.

John Paul Wright is the most blatantly racist of the academic promoters of race science.

Wright mentioned on his Conservative Criminology blog that he admired Jussim and said he looked forward to meeting him. I assume they have met since then, offline. They certainly seem to have "met" on Twitter.

John Paul Wright has his own connection to Stefan Molyneux, appearing on his Youtube channel to share thoughts on race and crime and to rant against the left.

This is why it's important to model the IDW - you document the interconnections, some more significant than others, among plutocrats like the Kochs, conservative scientists with political axes to grind and right-wing extremists.

And although I have nothing against information presented as text, people can absorb information from pictures at a glance. It's a principle I use in my work as a technical writer. Graphics are a good method to convey complex information as painlessly as possible.

Fortunately I've never worked with any developers on my tech writing jobs who have had meltdowns over graphic information. Then again, developers often use graphic models themselves to convey connections among components in a system.

I imagine if Colin Wright and Lee Jussim saw one of these they would freak right the hell out.



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