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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bret Weinstein: intellectual sloth or gigantic shitweasel?

I've mentioned in the past that race science proponents are extremely careless when they talk about race, often conflating ethnicity and "race" whenever they wish, and then claiming that their critics are anti-science for denying the existence of "race" when in fact their critics believe that ethnicity is real, but that "race" is something else.

In this case the author of the NYTimes article on "The Intersection of Race and Blood," Rose George, does all the work of being sloppy about terminology, and Bret Weinstein picks it up and runs with it.

The imprecision about race jumps right out of the gate in the first lines:
“We need black blood.” 
I didn’t know what to say to this, not least because it had been said by the head of donor services at England’s National Health Service Blood and Transplant. The interview was for a book I was writing on blood, a topic I knew a little about by then, but the baldness of his statement still shocked me. Surely we’re all the same under the skin?

Rose George is British. If you are an American and you think you know what a Brit means when they call someone black, you are probably wrong. In Britain "black" is much more expansive than in the US:
Historically, the term has most commonly been used to refer to Black people of New Commonwealth origin, of both West African and South Asian descent. For example, Southall Black Sisters was established in 1979 "to meet the needs of black (Asian and Afro-Caribbean) women".[7] Note that "Asian" in the British context usually refers to people of South Asian ancestry.[8][9] "Black" was used in this inclusive political sense to mean "non-white British".[10]
And it appears that in fact George really is talking about a "black" girl of Indian ethnicity:
Much of (blood) variance “has been driven by evolutionary selection by bacteria, malaria and parasites,” says Connie Westhoff, executive scientific director at the National Center for Blood Group Genomics at the New York Blood Center. If malaria finds its way into the bloodstream via a particular antigen, that antigen may change to defend itself, leading to different blood types. Cholera thrives better on intestinal cells derived from O-type stem cells, but O is also more protective against malaria. For many complicated reasons, only 27 percent of Asians have type A, but 40 percent of Caucasians do. Type B is found more commonly in Asia than Europe. 
This works not just with blood types. Sickle cell trait is now known to protect against malaria, which is why sickle cell, a painful and debilitating disease caused by malformed blood cells, is found frequently — but not only — in people with African heritage, because malaria thrives in Africa. 
This past winter, the case of a little girl named Zainab Mughal in South Florida illustrated all this complexity perfectly. Zainab, who is now 3, has neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer, and her treatment — chemotherapy and stem cell transplants — means she will need blood.
Weinstein delivers a lecture on science |to the anti-race science heathen  
But she also has rare blood. She belongs to the fewer than 1 percent of the population missing an antigen that the other 99 percent have, making her blood some of the rarest in the world. In her case, she lacks both the antigens Indian B and Big E. Via appeals to the American Rare Donor Program, and then the International Rare Donor Panel in England, Zainab’s local blood banker, One Blood, found five donors with the same extremely rare type.
Ironically, in some historical classifications of "race," people from India were considered "Caucasians."
The term Caucasian originally referred in a narrow sense to the native inhabitants of the Caucasus region.[14] In his The Outline of History of Mankind (1785), the German philosopher Christoph Meiners first used the concept of a "Caucasian" (Kaukasischen) race in its wider racial sense.[4][15][16]

Meiners acknowledged two races: the Caucasian or beautiful, and the Mongolian or ugly. His Caucasian race encompassed all of the ancient and most of the modern native populations of Europe, the aboriginal inhabitants of West Asia (including the Phoenicians, Hebrews and Arabs), the autochthones of Northern Africa (Berbers, Egyptians, Abyssinians and neighboring groups), the Indians, and the ancient Guanches.[17]
Which gives you a good idea of how random race classifications are. And George demonstrates the standard race/ethnicity conflation so common in the media:
...While no one is suggesting forced segregation of blood bags, it’s now scientifically established that blood can be racially or ethnically specific...
What does "racially or ethnically specific" mean in this context? George is not a very clear writer - in spite of the fact that she apparently makes a living as a freelance writer -  but I think what she's doing here is presenting race and ethnicity as literally interchangeable terms.

To immediately understand why they are not, note that "Italian" and "Irish" are ethnicities but Italians and Irish are considered the same race - white. At least they are both considered white now.

Bret Weinstein is a biologist and evolutionary theorist and there's no reason why he would have to just accept an article written by a freelance writer with no apparent science background at face value.

Weinstein attempting to justify himself
In this tweet he attempts to justify his failure to talk clearly about "biological terms of art." This is bullshit. All he has to do is point out that "ethnicity" and "race" and "population" etc. are not the same. He's a scientist, he was a teacher, if he can't offer insight into the issue, who can?

Instead what he did was weaponize an imprecisely written article against critics of race science, starting with condescendingly describing his opponents as a circle holding "fashionable" opinions as if it's just so much cocktail party chatter.

Now why did Bret Weinstein do this?

Is it because he's just so intellectually slothful that he can't be bothered to provide useful insight on a topic for which he was trained?

Or is Bret Weinstein a gigantic shitweasel (like Steven Pinker) whose real career is to play a scientist in order to best further the political agenda of the Intellectual Dark Web, which is significantly funded by right-wing plutocrats?

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