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PZ Myers dissects evolutionary psychology: brief, sharp and fabulous

I admit I LOL'd at the part about "lighting up like a Christmas tree." WATCH AND LEARN all IDWs!

The Brian Ferguson Interview

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Charles Murray blows it all up

The main argument - possibly the only argument made by promoters of race pseudo-science - against the claim they are racists is this: they can't be racist because although they believe Black people are innately more stupid & criminal as a group, they believe it is wrong to discriminate against individuals. 

Charles Murray just blew it all up. In the screen cap above Murray makes the argument that it's perfectly fine to discriminate against individuals in a job application scenario if they have a Black-sounding name.

Not only is this racist, it's the legal definition of discrimination.

If permissible discrimination on the basis of race is not systemic racism, then nothing is. Which is exactly Murray's goal - to deny the existence of systemic racism.

Denial of systemic racism is of course the leading race pseudo-science tactic: deny the 400-year-long system of immiseration in the United States, perpetrated against enslaved people and their descendants, a system that is still active now.

The goal is to blame the victims by saying their own genetics are at fault, not systemic racism. 

Charles Murray is awful, but it must never be forgotten that his career of denying systemic racism and promoting race pseudo-science has always been propped up by right-wing plutocrats like William H. Hammett and Charles Koch, and promoted by journalistic hacks like Andrew Sullivan.

If Murray and his enablers could succeed in making discrimination on the basis of ethnicity legal again through race pseudo-science, the result would be continuing immiseration and a vicious cycle: Black people have been systematically immiserated for 400 years, and as a result they have failed to thrive. Take that failure to thrive, use it to justify further immiseration by denying Black people equal job opportunities.

The goal of Murray and his enablers: to maintain a permanent underclass on the basis of race. They are thoroughly evil human beings.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Two charts demonstrating how far-right is the board of advisors of FAIR

When Christopher Rufo announced the creation of the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, he claimed it was a coalition of liberals, moderates and conservatives and he illustrated this claim with an image of the FAIR board of advisors.

As you might expect from a cynical, right-wing operative who takes money from Charles Koch, this claim was a big fat lie. The board was very right-leaning then, and it's only become more right-leaning ever since.

Having followed the antics of the Intellectual Dark Web for several years now, I recognized at a glance that the board was packed with members of the Intellectual Dark Web, Quillette authors and other promoters of race pseudo-science, and a little research proved that all current members of the board but one have a connection to at least one right-wing cause or organization.

Then recently, the New Yorker published an article that made it clear that Rufo is probably the Kochtopus flunky of the year, thanks to his cynical and successful efforts to build up the previously obscure "critical race theory" into a Republican target of hatred and hysteria.

New York Magazine also ran a critique of Rufo:

Rufo’s role is clear. He takes critical-race theory as a concept, strips it of all meaning, and repurposes it as a catchall for white grievances. “The goal,” he tweeted, “is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think ‘critical race theory.’ We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.” In an interview with the Post, he said the tweet described an “obvious” approach: “If you want to see public policy outcomes you have to run a public persuasion campaign.”

I think it's likely FAIR itself is funded by Koch, considering how many Koch employees are on the board, and also because the one issue that unites the FAIR board of advisors is opposition to critical race theory, as this table demonstrates.

I think it's likely that you don't get on the board of advisors of FAIR unless you vow your undying opposition to critical race theory, but in this table I only included those board members who are on the public record opposing CRT - but I'd be willing to bet that Ajouz, Davis, Hill, Keig and Kors just haven't gotten around to discussing CRT on social media, or I missed their public declarations somehow.

Alexander Lloyd makes clear how important Critical Race Theory hysteria was in his decision to join the FAIR board of advisors.

The closest FAIR has to a liberal is Lisa Feldsher, who is the only board member not in the table. Feldsher does not have much social media presence, but she's not exactly what you would call a flaming progressive. Her political issues are anti-Semitism and the standard right-wing trope, if liberals and Hollywood really cared about social justice they would solve problems even in places where they have no power to make changes while at the same time implying that Islam is the main source of homophobic violence in the world.

I created a second chart, which is less granular than the table. In this pie chart I matched each FAIR board member with one affiliation. Since this web site is devoted to criticizing the IDW, if they are a named member of the IDW, they are counted as IDW even if they have several other affiliations. 

The next tier is a Koch organization affiliation, then a Quillette byline, then a connection to a right-wing organization like The Federalist or they are known for right-wing positions, like Megyn Kelly, Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan. 

Finally if they have no other affiliations (that I have discovered yet), they are counted as anti-CRT. Lisa Feldsher is counted as "Other" although I'd bet serious money she also is opposed to CRT.

The data make it inescapably clear, that FAIR is a far-right organization, judging by its board of advisors.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

FAIR update ~ a lawsuit, the New Yorker, Megyn Kelly & new members

FAIR has had a fair amount of churn in its board of advisors since the organization was founded in March, so it's no surprise the board of advisors has changed again since we last looked

The board started out with a mere 31 members, but now has 39 and it has consistently added right-wingers to the board, in spite of Christopher Rufo's lie that the organization represents all points on the political spectrum.

But before we review the new board there's headline news in FAIR world. 

To the surprise of nobody paying attention to the legalistic ambitions of FAIR, a member of the board of advisors, Maud Maron, has instigated a lawsuit against the Legal Aid Society for calling her a racist. The Society calls the suit "...a frivolous and misguided attempt to use litigation to harass a nonprofit employer and its employees who have spent their careers advancing social justice causes."

The New Yorker did a profile of Christopher Rufo, the Koch-funded Trump supporter, called How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict Over Critical Race Theory. From the article:

As Rufo eventually came to see it, conservatives engaged in the culture war had been fighting against the same progressive racial ideology since late in the Obama years, without ever being able to describe it effectively. “We’ve needed new language for these issues,” Rufo told me, when I first wrote to him, late in May. “ ‘Political correctness’ is a dated term and, more importantly, doesn’t apply anymore. It’s not that elites are enforcing a set of manners and cultural limits, they’re seeking to reengineer the foundation of human psychology and social institutions through the new politics of race, It’s much more invasive than mere ‘correctness,’ which is a mechanism of social control, but not the heart of what’s happening. The other frames are wrong, too: ‘cancel culture’ is a vacuous term and doesn’t translate into a political program; ‘woke’ is a good epithet, but it’s too broad, too terminal, too easily brushed aside. ‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain,” Rufo wrote.

Absolutely cynical, which is what anybody who knows anything about this pack of grifters, race pseudo-science promoters and Trump supporters would expect.

Meanwhile, Megyn Kelly was in the news recently for attempting to downplay the January 6 insurrection:

Conservative journalist and pundit Megyn Kelly is downplaying the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying national media covering the insurrection that day made the incident out to be worse than it actually was.

"A faction turned," Kelly said during a recent episode of her podcast of the people who gathered in Washington, D.C., to protest the congressional certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory. "But there's no question the media represented this as so much worse than it actually was."

Kelly is the perfect representative of the FAIR board of advisors: conservative and full of shit.

So there are four new members of the board, since last check-in and all four are what you'd expect: right-wingers and "critical race theory" grifters: Yiatlin Chu, Angel Eduardo, Zander Keig and Alan Charles Kors. More details about each below.

FAIR seems to be the Intellectual Dark Web 2.0, with an anti-critical race theory agenda in perfect harmony with the Republican Party.

1. Michael Ajouz - Republican, donated to Romney and Ted Cruz.

2. Ayyan Hirsi Ali - right-wing anti-Muslim and on the Koch payroll via the American Enterprise Institute. Named member of the Intellectual Dark Web.

3. Peter Boghossian recently attacked Pinkerite's founder, has the possible distinction of appearing as a guest more than anybody else on racist Stephan Molyneux's show. Quillette author. Business partner of Christian nationalist right-wing extremist Michael O'Fallon.

4. Liang-Fang Chao - "Computer Scientist" - Critical Race Theory alarmist grifter.

9. Lisa Feldsher - runs a PR firm with many corporate clients. Fake liberal.

10. Niall Ferguson -  husband of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and right-wing creep, who was involved in a controversy in which he targeted a liberal student, as discussed by Krugman in 2018. Employee of Koch through AEI.

11. Kmele Foster - right-wing, anti Black Lives Matter, on the advisory council of the Koch-funded FIRE.

12. Tim van Gelder - "entrepreneur, philosopher" and fan of right-wing, Koch-funded free speech grifter  Andrew Doyle, a former member of the FAIR board of advisors

13. Samantha Harris - contributor at the Federalist Society, Senior Fellow at the Koch-funded FIRE. Connected to Maud Maron somehow. Author at Quillette. Lawyer of Joshua T. Katz, member of the Academic Freedom Alliance.

14. Jason D. Hill - self-declared conservative, Ayn Rand fan and author at the far-right Federalist. Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, founded by right-wing extremist David Horowitz.

15. Nathan Hoffman - Republican operative working against the public school system.

16. Coleman Hughes - Koch employee via City Journal, Quillette author, apologist for race science.

17. Inaya Folarin Iman - Founder and Director of anti-Black Lives Matter The Equiano Project and along with right-wing IDW member Douglas Murray is a director the Free Speech Union, founded by eugenics fan and Quillette editor Toby Young.

18. Zaid Jilani - former left-winger and author at Quillette.

19. Zander Keig [new] - Conservative.

20. Megyn Kelly - known for saying Santa Claus and Jesus were white when she was a star at Fox.

21. Alan Charles Kors [new] - co-founder of the Koch-funded FIRE.

22. Alexander Lloyd - fan of Quillette and members of the IDW, Bitcoin bro.

23. Glenn Loury - right-wing, Quillette author, Koch-funded.

24. Maud Maroncalled a racist by the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, then sued them for it.

25. John McWhorter - author at Quillette, supported by Koch via AEI and City Journal.

26. Douglas Murray - named member of the IDW and according to WikipediaHis views and ideology have been linked to far-right political ideologies by a number of academic[10]and journalistic[11] sources. He has also been accused of promoting far-right conspiracy theories,[12][13][14] and of being Islamophobic.[15]

27. Steven Pinker. Of course.

28. Robert Pondescioauthor at The Federalist, fan of the work of Charles Murray, senior fellow and vice president for external affairs at right-wing think tank Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Senior fellow of the Koch-funded AEI.

29. Wilfred Reilly - conservative author at far-right Regnery Publishing - founder William H. Regnery died recently.

30. Ian RoweKoch employee via AEI.

31. Christopher Rufo - rabidly pro-Trump, Koch employee via City Journal. Rufo does not have a byline in Quillette, but predictably, Quillette adores him.

32. Michael Shermer - named member of the Intellectual Dark Web, doesn't believe systemic racism exists, critical race theory alarmist and creep.

33. Abigail Shrier - Quillette author, rabidly anti-trans.

34. Erec Smith - Quillette author and co-founder of right-wing organization Free Black Thought along with Charles Murray apologist Michael DC Bowen and Jason Littlefield, author at Quillette's twin Areo and opponent of critical race theory. Fun fact: Smith, Littlefield and Zander Keig are all in business together in an organization called Empowered Pathways.

35. Eli Steele - Quillette author, Koch employee via City Journal.

36. Andrew Sullivanright-winger, promoted The Bell Curve, race science promoter.

37. Bari Weiss - right-winger, promoter of the Intellectual Dark Web and pals with same.

38. Thomas Chatterton Williams - chateau bouncer, Koch employee via AEI

39. Kenny Xu - Development Officer at Young America's Foundation a right-wing youth organization. Author at the Federalist and the Daily Signal. Trump supporter.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Is Eric Weinstein a crackpot?

 Just last month I called Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying crackpots, and now thanks to this Washington Post article I discovered this substack asking if Eric Weinstein is a crackpot.

Is Eric Weinstein—unofficial founder of the “Intellectual Dark Web,” money manager for eccentric billionaire Peter Thiel, and frequent guest on the Joe Rogan show and other power podcasts, where he’s gained a reputation for brilliance—a crackpot?

Times are tough for the Intellectual Dark Web these days.

Timothy Nguyen explains what a puffed-up, grifting clown Eric Weinstein is.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Trump's Reichstag moment - Pinkerite called it in April 2020

According to a book on the Trump presidency called "I Alone Can Fix It" about to be released:

In the days leading up to January 6, Leonnig and Rucker write, (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark) Milley was worried about Trump's call to action. "Milley told his staff that he believed Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military."

Milley viewed Trump as "the classic authoritarian leader with nothing to lose," the authors write, and he saw parallels between Adolf Hitler's rhetoric as a victim and savior and Trump's false claims of election fraud.

"This is a Reichstag moment," Milley told aides, according to the book. "The gospel of the F├╝hrer."

Ahead of a November pro-Trump "Million MAGA March" to protest the election results, Milley told aides he feared it "could be the modern American equivalent of 'brownshirts in the streets,'" referring to the pro-Nazi militia that fueled Hitler's rise to power. 

Pinkerite was sounding the alarm about Trump's re-election campaign as early as July 2019, especially with the Republican party's connection to grifter and Quillette team member Andy Ngo and his lawyer, Republican committee woman Harmeet K. Dhillon but I didn't use the term "Reichstag fire" in reference to Trump until April 2020.

On his show yesterday, Colbert referred to Trump, flat-out, as a "fascist." Nobody except MAGA freaks miss Trump, but there is nothing quite like Trump to bring out Colbert's comedic genius.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Right-wing race-monger Razib Khan testifies: getting cancelled is no big deal

I had the misfortune of thinking about the race-obsessed, history-denyingright-wing Razib Khan recently because it came to my attention that "The New Liberals" - funding source unknown - had promoted Khan by interviewing him for its podcast. 

The audio clip included with the promotional tweet expresses to perfection what an utter asshole Khan is, especially on the issue of race. 

Khan's voice is as obnoxious as his politics so I have transcribed the audio for you, dear Pinkerite reader, but I won't pretend it wasn't an awful experience:

Ultimately like I know people in Academia who talk about like systemic racism and prejudice and all this stuff, I just say like it's really easy, all you need to do is minorities that you think should have these jobs, you guys just need to like draw straws and one out of five of you resign and free up the positions, hire somebody of color, and we're all good, right, it's a simple thing to do, but they never do it, do they? They don't make the hard decision, I told an acquaintance of mine who wanted to talk to me about racism and I just got sick of it, and I was just like, well what you need to do is give your son's inheritance to a Black family. If you're talking about wealth and equality right now, he needs to be poor, and make his own way, and they need to have money, so just do it. And the person flipped out at me. Cause they just wanted to talk. And I'm just not super interested in talking. I am a non-white person. I don't need to be talked to about racism all the time. It's not interesting to me.

Listening to that clip... I didn't think I could have a lower opinion of Khan, but wow, those supremely obnoxious words plus that obnoxious voice is a powerful combination.

Talking about racism isn't interesting to him, claims Razib Khan, and he denies the very existence of systemic racism, but he has been obsessed with race and genetics, for a long time

You have to wonder what possible acquaintance of Khan's, who isn't already a flaming race-obsessed rightwing stooge, would try to talk to Khan about race. 

I checked out Khan's substack to see if he is still obsessed with race, and of course he is. It seems to be the one thing he cares about more than anything else in the world. 

But I found something worthwhile on Khan's blog. I found Khan testifying that getting "cancelled" is absolutely no big deal

Of course I also had to endure Khan's prose, which is always awful, as well as his bloated self-regard.

Testify, race-monger:

Six years on, I cannot think of a single person I value or a single place I’ve wanted to be that I no longer have access to because the New York Times deemed me beyond the pale. There are a boatload of fascinating, principled people in America and beyond who don’t care who the 21st-century New York Times thinks is pure enough. I’ve recorded podcasts with dozens of them. Thousands more give me their emails and pay me good money to tell them data-backed stories about the history of the human race on Substack.

I doubt the people who pay Khan good money do it for the alleged "data-backed stories about the history of the human race" but rather, for Khan's right-wing race-mongering. 

While reading, I was also reminded of another facet of Khan's personality, his cowardice, when he refers to Jamelle Bouie without naming him:
Cathy Young is buddies with Khan & a shitty person
It’s a funny commentary on our times that one of the people they say was most rabid behind the scenes about protecting the readership of The New York Times from a dangerous mind like mine, has since joined The New York Times. Does America feel safe now, buddy?

There's a reason the people who hire Khan are generally right-wing extremists like the publishers of the racist Taki's Magazine - they don't care about literary qualities, they care that he's conservative and promotes race pseudo-science. 

But like people on the Koch dole, like the equally obnoxious Cathy Young (Khan's buddy), they imagine they have careers because of their intellectual and literary excellence.

But back to Khan's testimony. I was recently talking about Jamelle Bouie's role in keeping Khan off the NYTimes and my small part it in. So it's good to know that, in spite of the constant whining about cancel culture, in every conceivable media outlet, by Khan's friends like Steven Pinker and Pinker's toady Jerry Coyne, an enterprising right-wing race-monger can still make a good living saying supremely stupid, obnoxious things, even without the imprimatur of the New York Times. As Bari Weiss can surely tell you.

I wish Khan would get the word out to the other members of the Quillette/IDW industrial complex, that getting cancelled is no big deal because Angel Eduardo was just being promoted by The New "Liberals" for whining about it.

It seems that Eduardo is the latest edition to the the right-winger-packed Board of Advisors of FAIR

I will have plenty to say about that clown car soon.

Friday, July 9, 2021

American Renaissance still loves Claire Lehmann's Quillette

Which makes perfect sense, as Quillette has always been a promoter of race pseudo-science, very much like American Renaissance, per the Southern Poverty Law Center (my highlight):

Founded by Jared Taylor in 1990, the New Century Foundation is a self-styled think tank that promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research that purport to show the inferiority of blacks to whites — although in hifalutin language that avoids open racial slurs and attempts to portray itself as serious scholarship. It is best known for its American Renaissance magazine and website, which regularly feature proponents of eugenics and blatant anti-black racists. The foundation also sponsors American Renaissance conferences every other year where racist "intellectuals" rub shoulders with Klansmen, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

Here we see Steve Salerno gloating along with Claire Lehmann because she wasn't "cancelled" after she made an international ass of herself with her evidence-free attacks on Sha'Carri Richardson and Florence Griffith-Joyner.

American Renaissance liked Salerno's thoughts on race so much it posted excerpts from his Quillette article. 

Steve Salerno, Quillette, May 10, 2018

At that time the number was 7. Since then, the number has risen to 25

Of course Lehmann and her followers would claim that Lehmann is "uncancellable" when nobody ever expected her to be cancelled. She's always been known as a sleazy, shameless "journalist" dedicated to promoting racist beliefs.

How could she be cancelled? She founded Quillette and the people who support it do so exactly because it gives them race pseudo-science extreme enough to find favor with American Renaissance, while still managing to claim respectability thanks to its association with mainstream media people like the media's favorite sacred cow and "celebrity intellectual" Steven Pinker. 

Her unapologetic racism likely makes her funders, including right-wing plutocrat Mark Carnegie, love her even more.

If American Renaissance hasn't been "cancelled," why would Claire Lehmann be?

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Best title of the year: why Quillette sucks

 At Boing Boing: Why Quillette sucks

Lehmann's clueless vulgarity was such that even right-wingers cringed at her tweets. The New York Times' Jamelle Bouie, certainly not among them, remarked that it'd been a while since he'd seen "Twitter unite against a single person like it has united against the Australian caliper magazine lady."

She did have a defender, though, in the form of commentator Dave Rubin, who (while careful to distance himself from her) suggested that she should sue someone who had called her website, Quillette, a "white supremacist blog". While Rubin's proposal is legally illiterate, it did strike me that the casual invocation of "supremacist" obscures what Quillette's all about, the culture that eats its strategy for breakfast. It's not just the distinction hinted at by Bouie, between the Calipers racists and the Hoods racists, but the peculiar culture of self-serious, middle-class, constantly sneering Britishy media people who think things are just absurd.

I'll note here that Jamelle Bouie was instrumental in preventing Razib Khan, race pseudo-science hawker and friend of Claire Lehmann from getting a gig at the NYTimes by publicizing Khan's race statements - and Bouie linked to my personal blog which had a post from 2013 which presented quotes from the first incarnation of Khan's Gene Expression web site.

I mentioned this later on Twitter, while criticizing racist Bo Winegard and his promotion of race science, and Claire Lehmann had a meltdown, although, as is her habit, she wasn't concerned with accuracy - I never said I got Khan fired.

Which ties into another aspect of the Boing Boing piece:

The "intellectual dark web" of free-speech absolutists, as it was self-defeatingly named, is a regular source of legal threats and covert (if perhaps naive) support of authoritarian personalities and institutions. The "censorship" they complain of often amounts to mere criticism, experienced by their giant egos as injury. But the formal state-backed censorship they threaten to use themselves is all too real. Lehmann herself once threatened to sue someone for "defaming" Quillette because it's "going to be fun".

I wrote about Lehmann's threatened lawsuit, mentioned above, in a two-parter: How conservative and white supremacist is Quillette?

I don't know if I buy the emphasis on a British/Commonwealth point of view the article has. The Intellectual Dark Web, closely tied to Quillette, is mostly Americans.

The most important journalism concerning Quillette has yet to be written, which is the article examining, in depth, who funds Quillette.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Quillette founder Claire Lehmann continues to make a name for herself...

...as a lying, shameless racist.

And since this blog is called Pinkerite, we must remember that Steven Pinker and Claire Lehmann have a warm mutual admiration society.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Much-needed paper by Adam Rutherford and other scientists

The Abstract

The language commonly used in human genetics can inadvertently pose problems for multiple reasons. Terms like ‘ancestry’, ‘ethnicity’, and other ways of grouping people can have complex, often poorly understood, or multiple meanings within the various fields of genetics, between different domains of biological sciences and medicine, and between scientists and the general public. Furthermore, some categories in frequently used datasets carry scientifically misleading, outmoded or even racist perspectives derived from the history of science. Here, we discuss examples of problematic lexicon in genetics, and how commonly used statistical practices to control for the non-genetic environment may exacerbate difficulties in our terminology, and therefore understanding. Our intention is to stimulate a much-needed discussion about the language of genetics, to begin a process to clarify existing terminology, and in some cases adopt a new lexicon that both serves scientific insight, and cuts us loose from various aspects of a pernicious past.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Vice discovers that IDW grifters gonna grift

The Intellectual Dark Web continues to get increasingly pathetic. Per the Vice article Why Is the Intellectual Dark Web Suddenly Hyping an Unproven COVID Treatment?
It's a familiar set of claims, amounting to an assertion that being given the broadest possible platform is the same as being silenced, and that one's theories being tested is the same as them having been suppressed. While Big Tech continues to issue a confused, belated, and at times contradictory response to the problem of people using its platforms to promote health quackery, Weinstein, Heying, Taibbi, and Weiss have positioned themselves as the vanguards of intellectual freedom by, in their ways, buttressing these claims. In fact, and without, perhaps, even realizing it, they’ve acted as foot soldiers for something entirely commonplace: a politicized and pseudoscientific response to a deadly disease.

Although Evergreen State College gave Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying a payout to get them to resign, it's looking more and more like half a million dollars was a bargain to get rid of this couple of crackpots.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Can't say I did not see this coming - Charles Murray triples down on race pseudoscience

In his next book Facing Reality: Two Truths About Race In America, to be published June 15, Charles Murray goes full Nazi, claiming racism doesn't exist, only "groups" that are genetically inferior. 

But I wonder who exactly he is counting as "we" here. 

It's important to note that the career of political scientist Charles Murray has been subsidized by Koch and other right-wing plutocrats.


Sunday, June 6, 2021

Phil Torres and the godless grifters

Great piece just published in Salon by Phil Torres called Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right


New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity.

Fast-forward to the present: What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized. This may sound hyperbolic, but it's not when, well, you look at the evidence. So I thought it might be illuminating to take a look at where some of the heavy hitters in the atheist and "skeptic" communities are today. What do their legacies look like? In what direction have they taken their cultural quest to secularize the world?

Pinker borrowed a quote from Bailey, who didn’t cite the original source and who lifted the quote from its original context to mean the opposite of what Zencey had intended. This led Zencey to confess to me, “how this guy [i.e., Pinker] managed to become a public intellectual in fields so far removed from his expertise is something to wonder at.”

For his fair points, Shermer called Torres a "cockroach." Coyne said he "wasn't impressed" and ran Pinker's response for him, like a good little Uriah Heep. Pinker's gob-smackingly shameless response was "so what?" 

But then, except for Salon and The New Yorker, Pinker knows he can count on the media and his friends at Koch-funded organizations to lionize him as a celebrity intellectual and promote his latest schtick without question - especially without questioning his views on race science and his support for people like Steve Sailer, Linda Gottfredson and Razib Khan.

Speaking of race science, I see Jerry Coyne is promoting the bullshit of the other leading race-monger, Andrew Sullivan, employing the Right's usual tactic of claiming systemic racism doesn't exist in the United States because it's no longer encoded in the law. Coyne writes:

The term “structural racism” is my personal bugaboo, as it’s become a synonym for just “racism”, with the “structural” tacked on to add gravitas and a supposed intensity of malfeasance. But “structural” racism is racism built into some institution or structure, like laws or rules, not simple acts of bigotry. As for “pain,” well, I accept very few of these claims as accurate. “Pain” has become another word for “offense” or even “manufactured offense.”

I assume Coyne will feel obliged to defend his brothers in right-wing race pseudo-science against Torres again, and I will address it when he does.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Tom Hanks spreads the word about Tulsa and other massacres

One hundred years after the Tulsa massacre it is finally being acknowledged on a wide scale - from President Biden to Tom Hanks.

Hanks in the NYTimes today:

 How different would perspectives be had we all been taught about Tulsa in 1921, even as early as the fifth grade? Today, I find the omission tragic, an opportunity missed, a teachable moment squandered. When people hear about systemic racism in America, just the use of those words draws the ire of those white people who insist that since July 4, 1776, we have all been free, we were all created equally, that any American can become president and catch a cab in Midtown Manhattan no matter the color of our skin, that, yes, American progress toward justice for all can be slow but remains relentless. Tell that to the century-old survivors of Tulsa and their offspring. And teach the truth to the white descendants of those in the mob that destroyed Black Wall Street.

Today, I think historically based fiction entertainment must portray the burden of racism in our nation for the sake of the art form’s claims to verisimilitude and authenticity. Until recently, the Tulsa Race Massacre was not seen in movies and TV shows. Thanks to several projects currently streaming, like “Watchmen” and “Lovecraft Country,” this is no longer the case. Like other historical documents that map our cultural DNA, they will reflect who we really are and help determine what is our full history, what we must remember.

Although this comment on Twitter is probably true:

I commented on the piece, which was published in the NYT:

Bravo to Tom Hanks for joining with others, including President Biden, during this past week in recognizing the tragedy of 1921. But missing from Hanks' piece is the year 1619. While many of us, of all ethnicities are struggling to understand how the story of the Tulsa massacre could be buried so thoroughly, Republicans and their race pseudo-science loving friends of the "Intellectual Dark Web" are attacking those associated with the 1619 Project, published in the NYTimes, exactly because the Project revealed how much slavery and its aftermath have shaped the United States. We should all talk about the suppression of knowledge of the 1921 massacre and we should also fight the attempts to suppress the 1619 Project.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Right-wing cancel culture & FAIR

As anybody who isn't brain-dead was already aware, the Right is incredibly hypocritical when it comes to "cancel culture" but their hypocrisy doesn't matter because they are also shameless. 

So no surprise to see a branch of the Federalist Society stomping on the First Amendment by retaliating against a law student for mocking the Federalist Society.

It was the final day of classes at Stanford Law School, May 27, when Nicholas Wallace said he was blindsided by a message from one of the deans informing him that his graduation was in jeopardy for potential misconduct.

His offense: sending an email flier to fellow law students in January that he pretended was from the Federalist Society, a prominent conservative and libertarian group with a chapter at the law school.

The satirical flier promoted a discussion about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, featuring Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, and the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton. The title of the mock event: “The Originalist Case for Inciting Insurrection.”

The chapter’s leaders were not amused. They filed a complaint on March 27 with the university, which said in a message to Mr. Wallace that it wasn’t until May 22 that the complainants had asked the administration to pursue the matter. 

Speaking of the Federalist Society, one of the members of the FAIR Board of Advisors, Samantha Harris, is a contributor of the Federalist Society

And the Board has a new member who pushes the Board even further right: Hoover Institute employee  Niall Ferguson, husband of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and all around creep, who was involved in another controversy in which a liberal student was targeted, as discussed by Krugman in 2018:

Ferguson is, as it happens, one of those conservative intellectuals who hyperventilate about the supposed threat campus activists pose to free speech — indeed, calling the campus left the “biggest threat” to free speech in Trump’s America. At Stanford, he was one of the faculty leaders of a program called Cardinal Conversations, which was supposed to invite speakers who would “air contested issues.” 
Among the invited speakers was Charles Murray, famous for a much-debunked book claiming that black-white differences in I.Q. are genetic in nature. Not surprisingly, the invitation provoked student protests. This was the context in which Ferguson engaged in a series of email communications with right-wing student activists in which he urged them to “unite against the S.J.W.s” (social justice warriors), “grinding them down.” And he suggested “opposition research” against one left-wing student. A student!

To date FAIR has not expressed any thoughts about the Federalist Society's targeting of a student, but certainly having a history of targeting a student is no bar to joining the Board of Advisors of FAIR.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Race science in action


The NFL on Wednesday pledged to halt the use of “race-norming” — which assumed Black players started out with lower cognitive function — in the $1 billion settlement of brain injury claims and review past scores for any potential race bias.

The practice made it harder for Black retirees to show a deficit and qualify for an award. The standards were created in the 1990s in hopes of offering more appropriate treatment to dementia patients, but critics faulted the way they were used to determine payouts in the NFL concussion case.

The article doesn't say what the standards were based on, but my money's on The Bell Curve.

This is what happens when race science is the used in real-world situations. Pure discrimination.

I'm waiting for the race mongers to speak up about this: the Quillette gang, Charles Murray, Steven Pinker, Jerry Coyne, Michael Shermer, Andrew Sullivan, etc.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021


From Current Affairs 


Lobsters’ serotonin receptors are much like humans’, to the point where lobsters can be affected by anti-
depressants. Lobster social structure is hierarchical. What does this tell us about human beings and our innate need for hierarchy?

a. Human beings, like lobsters, desire to be ruled by a single Uberlobster, who reigns under the sea on a throne of barnacles and blood. 
b. Human beings, like lobsters, desire to be eaten by a larger, more intelligent, and more mobile species. That’s why I’ve set up radio beacons inviting alien gourmands to descend to our world and choose among us. Welcome, diners of the galaxy! I’m the meatiest! 
c. Human beings, like lobsters, sometimes die of exhaustion while molting, which is why getting dressed in the morning is so haaaard. 
d. Human beings, like lobsters, only mate when the female of the species selects a male, lurks outside his house, and pees a mighty stream of pheromone-scented urine on his door. If this isn’t what your personal mating behavior looks like, you are not obeying your natural genetic instinct, and must correct yourself accordingly.


Monday, May 31, 2021

Adam Rutherford, Thomas Chatterton Williams and Quillette

Thomas Chatterton Williams is best friends with Bari Weiss, so it's no surprise that he's also friendly with her best friends, the IDW-Quillette industrial complex.

Here he is agreeing with Caliper Claire Lehmann, founder of Quillette, the most race pseudo-science friendly publication since American Renaissance.

Where Williams aligns with the Quillette gang the most, it seems, is on the issue of reparations. Quillette promoted the career of race pseudo-science apologist Coleman Hughes until he ended up being famous as the Black guy who opposed slave reparations in Congress.

We also see Williams snarking about Ta-Nehisi Coates with Quillette author Chloe S. Valdary who also happens to be a fan of man-boy love lover Camille Paglia.

Valdary runs a project, Theory of Enchantment, that appears to have no visible means of funding, so it's likely supported by the standard right-wing plutocratic money that funds so many people in the IDW/Quillette industrial complex.


So Thomas Chatterton Williams is pretty cozy with Quillette people, but his friendly colleague Adam Rutherford is definitely not. You can see Rutherford's contempt for Quillette when he mentions it during his interview with Williams.

Rutherford the moment he begins to say "Quillette."

Since he is a critic of race science, and doesn't worship dead famous men as gods, Rutherford is a natural enemy of Quillette. Recently Quillette ran an article by Sean Welsh complaining that Rutherford was not sufficiently respectful of Francis Galton's Great Man of Science status enough to prevent Rutherford from mentioning Galton's support for eugenics. 

Of course Quillette is pretty OK with eugenics, its London editor is Toby Young, known for his support for eugenics

In spite of all that, I was surprised to see the beginning of this Twitter exchange between Rutherford and Claire Lehmann. I was just saying how extremely diplomatic Adam Rutherford usually is, so he must really despise Quillette to respond that way.

Please note that Lehmann starts the Twitter thread below by retweeting race-obsessive creep and friend of Steven Pinker, Razib Khan.

In that last tweet we see Lehmann griping because Rutherford gave a good review to Angela Saini's book "Superior: The Return of Race Science." Lehmann herself made sure to give the task of reviewing the book to notorious racist Bo Winegard and race pseudo-science extremist Noah Carl

But Rutherford almost immediately switches back to his customary diplomacy, conceding a point which I think he should not have conceded.

I had to laugh at Lehmann trying to make Rutherford's reasonable request for a response to a point into "men who have the gall to tell me what to do." 

Dear baby Jesus she is such a clown. As Seth Rogen recently discovered.

I understand why Rutherford usually tries to be nice to the race pseudo-science gang. His job is science communicator. He's not interested in checking to see if Thomas Chatterton Williams is utterly lacking in intellectual integrity, one moment acting as though he has a gotcha moment proving that race is biological on August 12, then on August 18 agreeing with Adam Rutherford that race is not biological.

That's why Pinkerite is here, to point out what absolute weasels people associated with the IDW/Quillette industrial complex are, and I feel no need to be diplomatic about it. 

Although I don't think I could ever be as perfectly shameless as Steven Pinker or Claire Lehmann.  

I like to think of myself as an American cultural critic and author, like Thomas Chatterton Williams.

Except of course I don't take money to be an activist for democracy-hating Charles Koch.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Pinkeresque career of Thomas Chatterton Williams

I once admired Thomas Chatterton Williams. I liked his literary style and anti-essentialist point of view when he critiqued Ta-Nehisi Coats.

The author Thomas Chatterton Williams, who is partly black, wrote a piece last October about the fetishization of race that happens among anti-racists as well as racists. Williams wrote:

I have spent the past six months poring over the literature of European and American white nationalism, in the process interviewing noxious identitarians like the alt-right founder Richard Spencer. The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish. 
This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural.

But then he decided to become an activist when he "spearheaded" the transparently Koch-connected Harpers Letter and then went on the Koch payroll.

What we see Williams doing in the tweet above is called "having it both ways" and it reminds me of Steven Pinker, who has been accused by his critics throughout his career of wanting to have things both ways.

Which claim does Pinker want to make: that pluralism reigns in evolutionary psychology (and I characterized the field unfairly), or that adaptationism reigns as a synonym for “evolutionary reasoning” (and my warnings are sterile)? He can’t have them both.

Louis Menand's review of The Blank Slate:

Having it both ways is an irritating feature of "The Blank Slate." Pinker can write, in refutation of the scarecrow theory of violent behavior, "The sad fact is that despite the repeated assurances that 'we know the conditions that breed violence,' we barely have a clue," and then, a few pages later, "It is not surprising, then, that when African American teenagers are taken out of underclass neighborhoods they are no more violent or delinquent than white teenagers." Well, that should give us one clue. 

 Most scientists are content with this trade-off. But every so often a scientist like Pinker tries to have it both ways, and to suggest that science can provide empirical evidence to show that some ends are preferable to others.

And here's an example I observed: Pinker claiming he doesn't agree with The Bell Curve on race while simultaneously sharing a link to a Quillette article that says The Bell Curve was correct about race. He's thanked by Ben Winegard, co-author of the article. 

Another thing that Pinker and Williams have in common is "weak and strong Pinkerism" which I adapted from Ezra Klein's term "weak Murrayism." When sharing the stage with someone Pinker respects, like Paul Krugman, Pinker avoids mentioning that he already offered a solution on a topic Krugman says there is no answer for: the changing violence levels in New York City. Pinker's solution, offered in "The Better Angels of Our Nature," was marriage

But he did not mention it during their talk, perhaps because he suspected Krugman would scoff at it. And he would probably be right. In 2012 Krugman criticized the "marriage is magic" belief promoted by Pinker in Better Angels and by Charles Murray.

...the new book at the heart of the conservative pushback, Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” does highlight some striking trends. Among white Americans with a high school education or less, marriage rates and male labor force participation are down, while births out of wedlock are up. Clearly, white working-class society has changed in ways that don’t sound good.

But the first question one should ask is: Are things really that bad on the values front?

Mr. Murray and other conservatives often seem to assume that the decline of the traditional family has terrible implications for society as a whole. This is, of course, a longstanding position. Reading Mr. Murray, I found myself thinking about an earlier diatribe, Gertrude Himmelfarb’s 1996 book, “The De-Moralization of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values,” which covered much of the same ground, claimed that our society was unraveling and predicted further unraveling as the Victorian virtues continued to erode.

Yet the truth is that some indicators of social dysfunction have improved dramatically even as traditional families continue to lose ground. As far as I can tell, Mr. Murray never mentions either the plunge in teenage pregnancies among all racial groups since 1990 or the 60 percent decline in violent crime since the mid-90s. Could it be that traditional families aren’t as crucial to social cohesion as advertised?

As I mentioned recently, it was easy enough to debunk the argument that marriage prevented violence by looking at the marriage and violence statistics. Krugman makes the same point in the last paragraph quoted above. 

In his video with Adam Rutherford, Williams, who feels very strongly about Robin DiAngelo-style essentialism, barely mentions the issue, then drops it. 

Another item I noticed - at about minute 34:35 in the video, Williams starts babbling something semi-coherent about Obama and Kamala Harris:

- yeah I think that is a good thing and I think that you know she [Kamala Harris] provides in some ways a more interesting conversation around this than Barack Obama did for a variety of reasons, one of which is that um you know she married a white man and I think that uh you know in a way Barack Obama marrying Michelle Obama and and the children and being in that family I think it brought him into a into a, I think that we all have a kind of we all have a way of kind of eyeballing it and seeing if it looks like what we think it is, and I think Barack Obama satisfied many people but Harris raised the question for others in a in a way that maybe is going to be really interesting um but getting y'all go ahead -

It sounded like he was deliberately obfuscating, so I looked up what Williams said on Twitter. Ah hah - much clearer.

So by marrying Michelle, Obama was, according to Thomas Chatterton Williams, "marrying into blackness." He didn't state that clearly in the interview, probably believing that Rutherford might push back on that. And who wouldn't? Williams appears to have never heard of the "one drop" rule. But of course he is aware of it. Why would he then claim that Obama, who was already plenty Black per the one drop rule, "married into blackness?" And he seems to be defending the concept of "biological race" saying: "if biological race isn't real then how is the daughter of a man from Jamaica and a mother from India "black" in the sense that the 8th generation descendant of Georgia slaves is?"

If he asked Rutherford, I assume Rutherford would have pointed out that the answer is that biological race isn't real, but the one drop rule is a real social race convention, which is why those two vastly different ethnic combinations are both considered Black.

So which does Williams believe - that race is not biological, in agreement with Rutherford? Or that it is biological? Perhaps Williams doesn't know, himself, because he hasn't thought it through in any real depth. This would be no surprise, because his interview with Ian Chotiner in the New Yorker in July 2020 made it clear that Thomas Chatterton Williams is an intellectual lightweight.


What about people having the right to say certain things based on their identity? I was wondering if you thought that people could be privileged to say certain things or speak on certain topics, or that the most important thing was to judge the words themselves.

I studied philosophy. I genuinely believe that the most important thing is to judge the quality of the insights, the idea, the language, the argument. I don’t think that there is a Black point of view, because Black people don’t all agree on anything. When you say that somebody has more authority to speak as a Black person, what does that mean? 

In “Losing My Cool,” you wrote, “Where I lived, books were like kryptonite to” the N-word [the text uses “niggas”]—“they were terrified, allergic, broke out in rashes and hives.”


I stand by everything in that book.


That’s not something a white person can really say in most polite societies. It’s also an idea that I think a lot of people would find very problematic—that books were like kryptonite to Black people.


That’s why the context is important. The whole book was about how books were my father’s life and that the Black culture that he comes from was one that prioritized education as the most important thing that a human being could participate in, the act of cultivating yourself. That comes in the context of me saying that the kind of street culture that I was in was making a false claim that books were kryptonite, that they were not for us. We were fooling ourselves in that we were participating in a culture that was monetizing the glorification of our anti-intellectualism, which is my argument against hip-hop culture. When it’s sliced into this little bit on Twitter, it’s to make me look like some type of racist who hates his Blackness. When, in fact, the book is a love letter to the kind of Black culture and tradition that my father comes from.


Just to give the context, you finish off that paragraph by saying, “Charles Dickens was something that swung between your legs, not the author of Martin Chuzzlewit. You could get your ass kicked for name-dropping and using big words. Brothers weren’t out to be poets or theoreticians; most of the time, they weren’t even trying to be articulate—they talked with their hands (fists, daps, slaps, pounds, peace signs, jump shots, tabletop percussion) and yearned to be athletes and rappers, not scholars or gentlemen.” The point I was trying to make was that this is something that you can say and get published in a book because of your identity and other people can’t.


Other people can’t, but is that the best way that we can have conversations around knowledge and human experience, that other people can’t? That I’m not sure about. Because I can imagine a situation where you could understand my experience enough where you could actually suggest some insight into the dynamics that play around toxic masculinity or street authenticity that gets conflated with racial authenticity.

The fact that you’re not allowed to publish that is not my choosing. I think that there’s a way that you could engage in that that would be good-faith and would be equally insightful even if you’re coming from outside the identity. It’s not the blood or the skin that gives you the ability to understand the spirit.


I know that the kryptonite and book line is from a Chris Rock bit from a long time ago.




But it also seems to me an idea that has a racially charged history to it, and that we should want to be careful when people say things like that. Maybe that’s where we disagree.


Here’s where I draw a line, and this is why it takes people to actually listen to arguments and not scan quotes for gotcha clickbait. I’m not saying you. I’m saying that people love the gotcha as a very good way to get likes and a good way to get the dopamine hits. I engage in it just like a lot of us, because we’re all incentivized to behave this way, and it’s worth something to resist. But, if you engage in a good-faith way, then I think you can actually have conversations about difficult subjects. What I’m saying is that we’re not reading each other in the way that’s conducive to everybody having the ability to encounter the other’s experience. We’re engaging each other in ways that contribute to the fortification of identity epistemology, and I think the thing that’s so sad about that is it limits the amount of conversation we could have. That is impoverishing if what you actually care about is knowledge and ideas and making a kind of multi-ethnic society work.

I guess my point would be that if a white person said that line, I’m not sure the appropriate response would be to sit and thoughtfully listen to them.


It really depends on what made a white person say that.


I can think of one thing that might.


What’s that?


I was kidding...

So Chotiner's point is that, in spite of Williams' philosophical training, Williams takes advantage of "identity politics" to write about Black people in a way that would be perceived much differently had his identity been white.

I want to point out something else. Williams wrote in his book:

You could get your ass kicked for name-dropping and using big words. Brothers weren’t out to be poets or theoreticians; most of the time, they weren’t even trying to be articulate—they talked with their hands (fists, daps, slaps, pounds, peace signs, jump shots, tabletop percussion) and yearned to be athletes and rappers, not scholars or gentlemen.”

It's striking that Williams would portray this as an ethnic issue. Williams is 40 so he would have been in high school in the 1990s. In the 20th century there was a word for boys in American high school culture who were anti-intellectual, who preferred athletics to academics: jocks. Plenty of white boys are also jocks. I went to school with them. 

That Williams chose to portray jock attitudes as a form of "black culture" probably goes a long way towards explaining how he ended up on the Koch payroll.

I thought this was the most astute response to the Chotiner interview.

My theory is that Pinker and Williams have incoherent theories about the world and display a lack of intellectual integrity in discussions with smart "celebrity intellectuals" because ideas are not really what drives them. I think what drives them are their careers: making money and getting respect. And so, when they receive recognition by being linked with someone who is well-known and well-respected, Pinker and Williams feel there is no point in engaging in a serious clash of ideas. Once Pinker was on stage with Krugman, and once Williams was on Zoom with Rutherford, game over: they had achieved their objective. 

As intellectually slothful as Pinker and Williams are, they must be aware that their own careers are not based on brilliance or originality or insightfulness, but rather on their ability to please right-wing plutocrats who have in turn advanced their careers. A practice known as wingnut welfare.

If Williams really believes that he can be purely a writer while on the Koch payroll, he's kidding himself. He's going to have to perform activist functions. Koch isn't interested in ideas either - Koch is interested in having his tame intellectuals promote policies that benefit the financial interests of Charles Koch.

Another issue that I think Williams avoided during his interview with Rutherford - Rutherford's contempt for Quillette. More in the next post.

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