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Friday, June 7, 2019

The good guys: Fardels Bear on race science

"Fardels Bear" banner art
I found a great web site via Twitter: Fardels Bear - A History of the Alt-right.

The site has posted two great pieces on race science this week:

False premise 5: “When dealing with this topic, it’s useful to step back from any definitive assertion to contemplate a less divisive question: is it possible that human populations could differ in cognitive ability, at least in part, because of their different evolutionary histories?” 
See how reasonable they are being? Just asking the question: isn’t it possible black people are just stupider than white people because of how they are from Africa and all? What? I’m just asking!
Since Quillette goes to great lengths to deny there are any social or political reasons for asking this not-at-all provocative question we are free to ask why they are asking it. What scientific question is at stake? It is very difficult to posit an answer outside the context of a racist society where such “cogitive differences” have huge social consequences.
And, to be clear, the history of race science has shown that the question is not a new one and that it has been explored in a lot of depth for over a century. And the research program proposed by Quillette has failed to establish any reasonable conclusion at all. If there were evolutionary reasons for differences in “cognitive capacity” among “races” we would know by now. It is reasonable to conclude that the question is no longer a reasonable one to ask.  How long must we suffer people with very questionable motivations asking it?
And more recently Fardels Bear published Arthur Jensen and His Nazi Friends. The whole article is informative and excellent, and he discusses something discussed in Pinkerite - the incredibly slipperly way - seemingly by design - that race science proponents use race-related terminology.
Several times in this space I warned of equivocating between a “genetic population” and “race.” The trick of simply substituting “population” for “race” leads readers to think that our conventionally defined races are genetic populations which they definitely are not, but allows the writer to sound scientific and up-to-date.  Jensen gained enormous credibility by using the language of population genetics.   But all he did was steal that language without properly using the concepts. Jensen actually studied conventionally defined (and socially constructed) “races” unless his subjects actually took some kind of genetic test to make sure they were of the same breeding population with their fellow test-takers. Jensen claimed to study genetic populations because he wanted sound scientific. He simply claimed that we can tell just by looking at someone what “population group” they belonged to. Here’s the key passage:
This is practically axiomatic, according to the geneticists with whom I have spoken…. Races are more technically viewed by geneticists as populations having different distributions of gene frequencies. These genetic differences are manifested in virtually every anatomical, physiological, and biochemical comparison one can make between representative samples of identifiable racial groups (Kuttner, 1967). (p. 80)
Jensen simply moves from a socially defined “race” like “black” to the claim that they are the same as a genetic population. He knows this because of “geneticists with whom I have spoken.” Which geneticists? He provides us with a citation with to (Kuttner, 1967). Aha! Regular readers know Robert Kuttner!
Kuttner, as you probably guessed without even checking the link, is a hard-core racist.
Fardels Bear is a project of writer and history John Jackson.
Pinkerite will be making an effort to include more science-based opponents of race science in this blog going forward. Starting with an interview with anthropologist and Pinker critic R. Brian Ferguson.