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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Steven Pinker lies about the Larry Summers controversy, and tells us how to live a really good life, like him

The contemptible Steven D. Levitt interviewed the even more contemptible Steven Pinker recently.

No doubt part of Pinker's current "I Am A Free Speech Martyr" world tour.

The interview was the usual ass-kissing that Pinker has come to expect from his media fanboys.

And no I am not exaggerating. At the end of the interview (40:28) Levitt says:
It seems to me that you have lived a really good life. Do you have advice on living a good life?
Pinker doesn't contradict Levitt's hero worship - he thinks as highly of himself as his fanboys do. So he responds by sharing his deep thoughts.

As per usual, Levitt doesn't ask Pinker about his previous support for professional racist Steve Sailer. As I've observed, it is clear that the media - mostly still controlled by the Pinker fanboy demographic, white men over 50 - has a gentlemen's agreement to never embarrass Pinker by asking him about his connection to Sailer.

Here's what Pinker said about the Summers controversy, beginning in the recording at minute 24:21:

...(Summers) based some of his arguments on a chapter in one of my books, called "Gender", in The Blank Slate, Modern Denial of Human Nature, so I already had a dog in that fight. Also it offended me the way in which Summers was distorted by highly intelligent people. He made a statistical argument that the variance among male abilities was greater than the variance among female abilities in spatial cognition, so he had a higher percentage of men at the high end and at the low end, even if the means were the same and even if there were at any given level of ability you obviously have both men and women, and that was turned into "women can't do math" by some professors of science who clearly had no particular interest in accurate citation but wanted to get people riled up. It does not mean that every man is better at spatial ability than every woman there are lots and lots of women who are better than the average man, and conversely women are on average better at verbal fluency and arithmetic calculation than men. Still that doesn't mean that every woman is better than every man, there are many men who are better than the average women. It's symmetrical. It did offend me that that basic way of just thinking about exceptions versus general tendencies was expunged from this debate in the service in the moral outrage.
Levitt then assures Pinker that the alleged "moral outrage" was a good thing because he's getting attention. Pinker laughs and says that's what his literary agent tells him.

First notice Steven Pinker's tendency to accuse his opponents of having no valid intellectual reason to say what they say but rather to suggest they only want to "get people riled up" for the sake of "moral outrage."

If anybody misrepresents what Larry Summers said, it's Steven Pinker. What Summers clearly said was that men where INNATELY better at STEM than women. I've had to make this argument so many times because Summers apologists reflexively lie about it. 

This is what Summers said exactly (my highlight):
So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. 
So Summers mentions "variability of aptitude" as part of women's alleged lesser "intrinsic aptitude."

And please note: he said it as part of a Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce.

Larry Summers was suggesting to attendees of a conference on "diversifying the science and engineering workforce" that the greater factor (as opposed to the lesser factors of "socialization and continue discrimination") in the lack of diversity is that women have lesser ability at STEM. 

The obvious inference is that the reason for lack of diversity in STEM is due to women's innate lack of intrinsic aptitude. So a slap in the face to the people who organized the conference, who most assuredly did not believe that the reason for the lack of STEM diversity was due to the evolved intrinsic lesser aptitude of women.

And Summers' attitude was especially threatening to the career of any woman in STEM working at Harvard since at that time Summers was President at Harvard and had already been accused of discriminatory hiring practices

Summers' claim about women and STEM is based on Steven Pinker's garbage "The Blank Slate" which itself is based on the laughably crippled pseudoscience of evolutionary psychology.

Summers apologists like to portray him as another martyr of free speech but as the American Prospect notes in Falling Upward: The Surprising Survival of Larry Summers:
Though much has been written about Summers, it’s worth reviewing the dynamics of his influence, serial repositioning, and uncanny survival. The more mistakes Summers makes, the more he is treated as a seer.
Levitt is contemptible because he suffers from the same syndrome as Steven Pinker, as Krugman noted about Levitt:
Noah Smith isn’t very happy with Steve Levitt, who thinks he was being smart by telling David Cameron that he should scrap the NHS and let the magic of the marketplace deal with health care. Strangely, Cameron wasn’t impressed.
I think there are actually several things going on here. One is a Levitt-specific, or maybe Freakonomics-specific, effect: the belief that a smart guy can waltz into any subject and that his shoot-from-the-hip assertions are as good as the experts’. Remember, Levitt did this on climate in his last book, delivering such brilliant judgements as the assertion that because solar panels are black (which they actually aren’t), they’ll absorb heat and make global warming worse.
You can see why Levitt would think Pinker is such a swell, good life-living guy - they are very similar.

And then there is Levitt's grotesque attitude towards women and sex as noted by Amanda Hess and Sady Doyle in their immortal discourse: Why Doesn't Steven Levitt Suck Dick for a Living? 

The only way Steven Pinker's "good life" of lying and supporting pseudoscience is going to be addressed in full by the mainstream media will mostly likely be when all his fanboy cohort retires or dies out.