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Sunday, September 8, 2019

"On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism" reaches its apotheosis

Steven Pinker promoting utter crackpottery
to his thousands of followers who have
confidence in his scientific opinions


I saw a tweet about this story today from the Associated Press:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Three couples planning to get married in Virginia have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a state requirement that they disclose their race on their marriage application. 
Civil-rights lawyer Victor Glasberg, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Alexandria, says the requirement is a vestige of Virginia’s Jim Crow laws and that Virginia is one of only eight states requiring marriage applicants to disclose their race. 
One Virginia county, Rockbridge County, provided a list of more than 200 potential races to a couple that questioned the requirement. It included “American,” ″Aryan,” ″Moor” and “Mulatto,” according to the lawsuit.
This is a perfect example of the race classification system promoted by Ben Winegard, Bo Winegard and Brian Boutwell published by Quillette entitled On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism which holds that you can classify "race" any way you wish:
...there aren’t a fixed number of film categories. The amount and the granularity of film categories depend upon the interests of the people using them. Your friend might use four (horror, comedy, drama, and science fiction), whereas Netflix might use an apparently limitless and startlingly specific supply. (See Daniel Dennett’s book for a variety of points and related examples centering on the topic of species).  
The same principles apply to racial categories. If one knows that Thomas is a Caucasian, one can be reasonably sure that Thomas has relatively light skin, and that he has recent ancestry in Europe. But racial categories, like film categories, aren’t immutable essences that perfectly sort humans into distinct groups. There aren’t a fixed number of racial categories, and the number researchers use is partially a matter of convenience. One might start with five continentally based categories (i.e., Caucasians, East Asians, Africans, Native Americans, and Australian Aborigines) and then add more categories as one’s analysis becomes more granular (e.g. Ashkenazi Jewish, Mizrahi Jewish, and so on). These categories aren’t real in some metaphysical sense, but they are useful, and they do have predictive value.  In this, they are like many other constructs in the social sciences such as self-esteem, intelligence, and agreeableness. They represent traits that cluster together; they predict outcomes; and they can be quantified.
But the absence of an empirical standard to determine race does not prevent the Winegard brothers from supporting the race classification system in The Bell Curve, which claims that lower test scores of "black" people compared to "white" is due in part to innate inferior intelligence of "black" people. 

This is called the hereditarian hypothesis. In their article entitled A Tale of Two Bell Curves published in, where else, Quillette, the Winegard brothers write:
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. 
For these reasons, and many more, in a 1980s survey, most scholars with expertise rejected the environment-only interpretation of the racial IQ gap, and a plurality (45%) accepted some variant of the hereditarian hypothesis.
This logical disconnect, between believing there are "white" and "black" races whose test scores can be compared, while at the same time holding that there is no empirical basis - or even just a standard that hereditarians can agree on amongst themselves - for race classification is the incoherent, insane foundation of hereditarianism - also known as "race science."

And alleged scientists like Steven Pinker and Jerry Coyne both promoted "On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism" to their thousands of followers. I posted Pinker's tweet for the article above. Jerry Coyne wrote:
On to “race”, a loaded word if ever there was one. Browsing through Quillette, I found a short but very good 2016 article about race by Bo Winegard, Ben Winegard, and Brian Boutwell, “On the reality of race and the abhorrence of racism“. It’s one of the more sensible pieces on race written for a popular audience, and takes the position I mentioned above; as the authors say, “Promoting a tolerant cosmopolitan society doesn’t require denying basic facts about the world.” Or, as they say, using italics to emphasize their view, “Racism isn’t wrong because there aren’t races; it is wrong because it violates basic human decency and modern moral ideals.”
Jerry Coyne, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ecology and Evolution thinks this utter crackpottery is "one of the more sensible pieces on race written for a popular audience."

So to be crystal clear: the race science view of race, promoted by Coyne and Pinker is that there are biological races but we can't say exactly what those biological races are.

But clearly Coyne believes in biology-based classification systems even for human ancestry.

And we know that Coyne believes that human races/ethnicities/ecotypes "evolved different traits."
“Race” (or “ethnicity”, if you like that word better) is simply a term for human “ecotypes”: groups of different evolutionary ancestry that have evolved different traits.

So why do the actual scientists of race science refuse to push for an empirical standard of biological race classification?

We see the results of the failure to come up with a standard for race classification in the Rockbridge County system with its list of 200 potential races including  “American,” ″Aryan,” ″Moor” and “Mulatto."

And if you say, well those Rockbridge County people doubtless weren't scientists - is their system any different from the one proposed by the Winegards and Boutwell and endorsed by Jerry Coyne and Steven Pinker? After all, the Reality of Race article makes clear that each individual can invent their own classification system based on utility:
These categories aren’t real in some metaphysical sense, but they are useful, and they do have predictive value.
The government of Rockbridge County at some point decided that "Moor" and "Mulatto" were useful and have predictive value. And the "researchers" that the Winegards/Boutwell mention have no basis on which to tell them they are wrong. That's the beauty of the Netflix system of hereditarian race classification.

Now the question is whether proponents of race science are too mentally disorganized to understand the disconnect between claiming there are no clear race categories while at the same time claiming that different races "have evolved different traits" or if race science proponents understand the logic problem but are confident that the mentally disorganized people in their fan base don't understand the problem. And then there are those who like to hear that their bigotry is based on science, and so not racism at all, but rather an "abhorrence of racism."

I'm inclined to the stupidity rather than the malice hypothesis. But more research on the mental abilities of race science proponents needs to be done.

The actual sensible view of race is not from another piece of Quillette garbage but rather from one of the objecting brides-to-be:
In Arlington County, bride-to-be Ashley Ramkishun said she was told that if she objected to listing a specific race, she could list “other.” 
“We’re not others. We’re human beings,” she said.