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Monday, October 26, 2020

The Human Strategy

Thanks to being made aware of the Guide to Marvin Harris Papers yesterday - thank you Brian Ferguson -  I found the original article Big Bust on Morningside Heights written in 1968 by Marvin Harris for The Nation magazine. It was found on Archive.org.

I also was made aware, thanks to the Guide, that Harris had a column in Natural History Magazine called The Human Strategy and I was able to find it, also on Archive.org and I will be sharing it as I find and process each month's column.

The first of them "Warfare Old and New" is available as one PDF and as images below.

Warfare Old and New appeared in the March 1972 edition of Natural History.









Sunday, October 25, 2020

Checking out the Guide to the Marvin Harris papers, 1945-2001

Source tweet

Marvin Harris died on this day, nineteen years ago, and today anthropologist Brian Ferguson (I interviewed him in 2019) happened to email me with a link to the Guide to the Marvin Harris papers, 1945-2001 at the Smithsonian Institute Virtual Archives. 

Ferguson reports that the Guide was arranged by anthropologist David Price.

Price shared this photo of Harris on Twitter - wow I didn't realize Harris went through a hippie stage.


I have a few small gripes about the Guide:

The name of anthropologist Maxine Margolis (who I also interviewed) is misspelled "Margoline" in the Sources Used section.

Harris's article for The Nation is written as "Big Busts on Morningside Heights" but the original article was Big Bust - singular. The article with original title is available on archive.org.

I also think the biographical notes should at least make a reference to Harris's appearances on the Charlie Rose show and in a video by Hazel Henderson. I have provided excerpts from both here on Pinkerite

A less minor issue is that the Biographic Notes section should, in my opinion, include a mention of Ferguson's role in Harris's refining the emic/etic concept to include the mental/behavior dimension, which I discussed with Ferguson in the interview.

But Price deserves credit for arranging this, it's an important addition to Harris's legacy. Harris is a huge influence on Pinkerite, especially concerning Steven Pinker's race and gender essentialism.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Jerry Coyne finally semi-wakes up

It's been obvious for months that grifter James Lindsay is on board the Trump train, but Jerry Coyne managed to remain obtuse - deliberately or otherwise - until Lindsay literally declared he was voting for Trump and then not even Coyne could play dumb anymore.

But for some reason it bothers Coyne not at all that Lindsay works with - and probably for - religious extremist Michael O'Fallon. I think it's most likely O'Fallon's influence - cash transactions or otherwise - that explains why Lindsay supports Trump.

Coyne certainly was aware of New Discourses, the project run by O'Fallon, Lindsay and Coyne's friend Peter Boghossian.

PZ Myers notes that James Lindsay was a speaker at a conference run by O'Fallon.



Lindsay is also a shameless hypocrite - but then Coyne is Steven Pinker's leading fan boy and occasional mouthpiece and Pinker is shameless too.


You have to wonder if Coyne will ever regret his fervent support for such an obvious con man and grifter like Lindsay, or if Coyne is just as shameless as Pinker and Lindsay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is part of the media gentlemen's agreement on the career of Steven Pinker

I wasn't surprised that Steven Pinker, in his latest media appearance, this time on a podcast with National Public Radio's 
social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, was not asked about his long-time and ongoing support for race science.

I was surprised that the interview wasn't about Pinker's free speech martyrdom, for a change, but rather focused on Pinker's Panglossian schtick, which, although full of his usual specious arguments is probably the least objectionable of all of Pinker's causes.




On top of all that, even his most devoted fan boy, Jerry Coyne, won't declare with absolute certainty that "Stephen," the bike-riding enthusiast Harvard professor who shows up in the testimony of Virginia Giuffre, one of Jeffrey Epstein's victims, is definitely not Pinker.

And Pinker is gob-smackingly, utterly shameless.

So why do men in the media work so hard to protect Steven Pinker from criticism while blowing sunshine up his ass? Why are they so invested in promoting Pinker as a celebrity intellectual?

You can understand why a Koch beneficiary like Conor Friedersdorf and Pinker's professional twin Freakonomics Steve D. Levitt would  be invested in promoting the celebrity intellectual career of Pinker, but I expect something better from the partially public-supported National Public Radio.

I suspect the primary reason Pinker shows up everywhere from the United Nations to Koch-funded events is pure laziness. Steven Pinker has an impressive PR machine and it is easy for media schedulers to say yes to another Pinker media inquiry, instead of making an effort to go out and find the less media-groomed, who actually know what they are talking about and are not part-time political operatives like nuclear energy lobbyist Pinker.


But as to why they refuse to bother him with questions on his activities in support of race science and even bona fide racists is still a mystery. The media has no problem asking Andrew Sullivan about his support for race science. Perhaps Pinker's PR team makes them agree in advance not to ask Pinker embarrassing questions? Or are people in the media so awed by Pinker's status as celebrity intellectual - a status that the media itself granted Pinker - that they dare not trouble him with questions on topics he'd rather not discuss?

Monday, October 12, 2020

Reviewing David Reich's methods

Fantastic deep dive in the New York Times from January 2019 that I missed  - Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps by Gideon Lewis-Kraus

I hadn't been aware of Lewis-Kraus, even though I had read and liked his article about the Slate Star Codex for the New Yorker. I found he is highly esteemed, if a Twitter search on his name is any indication - lots and lots of praise for his work, which has covered a wide range of topics. To my amazement, he doesn't yet have a Wikipedia page, something I will find time to remedy soon.

The Lewis-Kraus DNA article focuses on David Reich and his dominance in the field of genetics. I've been interested in Reich since I discovered many hereditarians think Reich is on their side thanks to Reich's March 2018 NYTimes op-ed. This in spite of Reich's statement that race is a social construct. 

However, Lewis-Kraus makes an excellent point about Reich's op-ed:
He was careful to differentiate the idea of a genetic population from the old idea of race, which he agreed was a social rather than biological fact. But he nonetheless gave comfort to those who maintain that on the deepest of all levels our destiny is written into our genetic signature. It was hard not to see that conviction reflected in the findings of Reich’s papers, which seemed to blithely recapitulate discredited theories of Pacific expansion, making categorical claims not only about four individual skulls but about the shape of human history — claims that were essentially indistinguishable from the racialized notions of the swashbuckling imperial era.
Even more important to me, Lewis-Kraus provided a perfect illustration of the problem of trying to understand human societies strictly through genetics, which is something hereditarians Razib Khan and Sam Harris would like very much to do.

Lewis-Kraus:
A thought experiment might help to illustrate this. Imagine that the written history of our current era were lost to time, and paleogenomicists of the future were trying to explain the peopling of North America on the basis of a few bones that dated from between the 16th and 20th centuries. If these bones included the descendants of British, Spanish and French colonists as well as those of Yoruba slaves, the researchers might conclude that European migrants arrived together with African migrants and that their “sex-biased admixture” created the people known henceforth as Americans. From our perspective, those geneticists wouldn’t exactly be wrong about all this — but nobody would accuse them of being right, either.
That David Reich appears to indulge in the same type of thinking as Khan and Harris is a sign he might be more aligned with the hereditarian point of view than I previously realized. And Lewis-Kraus demonstrates that Reich is seemingly getting special treatment by the big science magazines, to the detriment of researchers using different methods and to the possible detriment of science itself:
I sat in the dark next to Frederique Valentin, a French bioarchaeologist who was an author on Reich’s original Vanuatu paper; it was she who made the final contribution that rescued the effort, the Tongan petrous bone. As it turns out, in 2015 she submitted a manuscript to Nature that made an almost identical argument to Reich’s. She had reached the same conclusions upon examination of the cranial morphology of the exact same skulls, which she believed more closely resembled those of Asians than those of Papuans. But her paper was rejected by Nature. As far as she or many others could tell, the only difference between her conclusions and Reich’s were those of methods — hers old, theirs shiny and new — and rhetorical grandeur. I asked if she thought that Reich’s definitive statements about Lapita origins were warranted.

“A small sample,” she replied, “is only representative of itself.”

The controversy over paleogenomics was becoming a near-ubiquitous presence in archaeology journals, and Bedford, as an author on all three Vanuatu papers, had recently written the introduction to an academic forum on the subject, in the journal Archaeology in Oceania. The evident differences between the two competing follow-ups put him in a bit of a bind, because his name was on both of them. “Both papers,” Bedford maintained, “arrive at a similar conclusion,” that initial Austronesian settlement was followed by a Papuan gene flow. But as the introduction continued, it became increasingly clear that he could not, in fact, at all believe that both could be right, and he tipped his hand in favor of the Jena paper, with its emphasis on an “incremental and complex” process that accorded much better with the artifactual record as he had spent his career understanding it.

There may be good reasons why the hereditarians think Reich is one of their guys.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

The plutocrat-funded war on Black history continues with Bret Stephens

When we last discussed Bret Stephens here at Pinkerite, it was in reference to Steven Pinker and three other right-wing hereditarians with ties to Koch funding sources, making dramatic claims of censorship over a Bret Stephens column

There had been a controversy over Stephens' citation of the often-debunked, highly speculative paper from 2005, the Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence hypothesis co-written by Henry Harpending, a white nationalist and Gregory Cochran, a right-wing creep.

More recently I talked about the plutocrat-funded war on the 1619 project.

And now we see Bret Stephens firing another shot in the endless hereditarian war on Black history. You can't be more obvious you are fighting for the hereditarian side than by citing Quillette, as Stephens does, in his piece for the NYTimes.

I wrote a comment on the article and my comment was published.

Like all who hold hereditarian views - which he all but admitted when he cited in one of his columns the Natural History of Ashkenazis paper (co-written by a white nationalist) - Bret Stephens is hostile to discussing the history of Black people in the United States. The 1619 project includes an excellent piece on the Black wealth gap, which explored the various methods used to steal Black wealth. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/racial-wealth-gap.html

Many people were unaware of the extent of the looting of Black wealth, and until recently many people did not know about the various race massacres perpetrated on successful Black communities, like Tulsa.
 
If you don't know of all the many ways that Black people were thwarted in the past 150+ years in their efforts to make a better life, you are more likely to believe the hereditarian claim that the reason Black people failed to thrive in the US, post-Emancipation, is due to their own bad genes. An idea that people like Andrew Sullivan have been promoting since at least The Bell Curve, published in 1994. 
The fact that Stephens cites in this piece Quillette, a right-wing rag devoted to promoting hereditarian beliefs, is a dead give-away exactly where Bret Stephens is coming from. 
The Right is waging a plutocrat-funded war on Black history for the hereditarian cause and Bret Stephens and Quillette are part of it. 
https://www.pinkerite.com/2020/09/jerry-coyne-railing-against-1619.html

Saturday, October 3, 2020

What the IDW is really all about and the Dunning-Kruger effect

Married couple Bret Weinstein and Heather E. Heying are, along with Eric Weinstein, the leading exemplars of the Intellectual Dark Web so it's no surprise they are also exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger effect. As described in the Forbes article The Dunning-Kruger Effect Shows Why Some People Think They're Great Even When Their Work Is Terrible:

Coined in 1999 by then-Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognize their own incompetence. And not only do they fail to recognize their incompetence, they’re also likely to feel confident that they actually are competent.

Bret and Heather appear to be having a competition on Twitter today to determine which one of them is the biggest exemplar of Dunning-Kruger.

First Bret tells the International Chess Federation how chess works:



Then Heather tells Mathematical Association of America how math works.


These two are truly the perfect combination of stupidity and arrogance.

Meanwhile Eric Weinstein, founder of the IDW, explains what the IDW is all about, which aligns exactly what I've been saying about the IDW all along: it's about claiming Black people as dangerous and violent.

Now is a good time to mention that Eric Weinstein is the Managing Director of Thiel Capital.






Some random anonymous Black guy uses bad words and says mean things about the police. And this is presented by Eric Weinstein as somehow "what comes next" for tech platforms and universities.

It's likely that those are references to two of the IDWs grifts - the "tech platforms" refers to the James Damore Google letter grift, and the universities refers to the Evergreen grift

This tweet truly does reveal for all to see what the "Intellectual Dark Web" is about. 

That and helping exemplars of the Dunning-Kruger make a living. For as Heying said about the Evergreen grift, quoted by Bari Weiss, in Weiss's big IDW profile:
The exile of Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying from Evergreen State brought them to the attention of a national audience that might have come for the controversy but has stayed for their fascinating insights about subjects including evolution and gender...

“Our friends still at Evergreen tell us that the protesters think they destroyed us,” Ms. Heying said. “But the truth is we’re now getting the chance to do something on a much larger scale than we could ever do in the classroom.”

The quote also demonstrates the way IDW grifters portray their perceived enemies - Heying makes a claim about what the protestors think, not based on evidence, but rather based on what "our friends tell us."