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Thursday, April 29, 2021

This was too easy


The publication that the Quillette gang has been waiting for, for at least a couple of years, appeared the other day, The Journal of Controversial Ideas. I will be talking about the Journal soon but want to talk about the interview with one of the three official editors, Peter Singer.

The interview was in The New Yorker, which is rarely a good omen for race science supporters, and so...


A lot of your works cite white male academics who, for lack of a better phrase, take up a lot of space in intellectual conversations: Joshua Greene, Steven Pinker, Timothy Garton Ash, Michael Sandel, Benedict Anderson, John Rawls, to name a few. Because so much of your work is fundamentally about equity, I wonder if that is something that’s on your radar.


That’s the manner in which I was educated, I suppose, and which still is very influential in the ideas that I’m involved with. I’ve certainly worked with a lot of philosophers who are not male, but they have been white generally. I’ve got a project now about the issue of global population, with Alex Ezeh, a demographer of Nigerian origin at Drexel University. I worked with Pascal Kasimba when I was at Monash University, who is of African descent, on a project relating to in-vitro fertilization. I have also co-authored things with people of Asian descent, with Yew-Kwang Ng, for instance. But, I have to say, I want to work with people whose ideas are, you know, at a level of discussion that I’m interested in, and that I’m progressing. If you’re thinking of the work of Africans, for example, I don’t know the work of many of them that is really in the same sort of—I’m not quite sure how to put this—participating in the same discussion as the people you’ve just mentioned. 

Now that I've looked at Singer's activities, I think it's likely Singer likes to cite Pinker - who is not a philosopher - so often because Singer also supports race science. More about that soon.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Isopoint & Adam Rutherford


I'm really enjoying geneticist Adam Rutherford's How to Argue with a Racist and I found this video of Rutherford that is relatively brief but covers some of the important items from the book. The item that I find especially interesting is "the isopoint" which is described in Wikipedia as:

...genetic isopoint is the most recent point in a given population's past such that each individual alive at this point either has no living descendants, or is the ancestor of every individual alive in the present.

 You can jump to minute 4:10 in the video to get Rutherford's explanation. One of the fun facts that comes out of the isopoint concept is that, because Viking contact with Europe comes before the European isopoint, that means that anybody with European ancestry is a descendant of Vikings.

Rutherford is very critical of commercial genetics testing companies like 23 and Me but nevertheless I found something interesting in my list of 23 and Me relatives a few years ago.

...it's clear that the human family tree is even more tangled than I realized.

The new feature "DNA Relatives" displays everybody in the 23 & Me database with DNA in common. I have a total of 1151 DNA relatives.

The closest relatives are two first cousins, one "MR" on my father's side and Sean on my mother's side.

I share 12.4% DNA with Sean and 6.36% DNA with MR. Curiously, I share more DNA with one of Sean's daughters, 8.66% than I do with my own paternal first cousin.

But what's even odder is that my maternal and paternal cousins are related to each other. In the table below there is my paternal cousin's name, MR (name redacted) in the first column, then my connection and percentage shared DNA in the second column, then Sean's connection to MR, which, true, is only "Distant Cousin" at 0.07% but still that is weird.

So 23 and Me can't be all bad, seeing as it provides evidence of the convergence that ends in the isopoint.

Rutherford is a celebrity in the UK but he's hardly known at all in the US, which is surprising. He's attractive, charismatic, funny and has a beautiful voice with a plummy British accent, which Americans can't resist. I assume he's not a science celebrity here through his own choice, I can't imagine any US science organization missing the chance to have Rutherford as a host of a science program.

In any case, I am very glad Rutherford is explicitly critical of race science, he is performing a very important service to humanity.

Another great video of Rutherford is the time he was asked by Humanists UK to deliver "The Voltaire Lecture" and was given the Voltaire medal.

In the middle of the Voltaire Lecture, Rutherford dumps on Voltaire for being "a hideous racist." 

There is much more to the video than that, but I laughed out loud at that point. The dumping begins at 26:40 in the video.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Has Cathy Young read Quillette?

Recently on Twitter, fellow critics of the IDW were discussing the fact that Lee Jussim (who is not a fan of Pinkerite) was once a critic of race science. I was surprised by this, I had assumed he was always a race science promoter, pushing terms from the segregationist south like "Equalitarianism" and forming a mutual admiration society with biosocial criminologist John Paul Wright.

But one of the fellow critics shared with me some threads from the time of Jussim's opposition to race science and I was surprised by this exchange. Cathy Young asked Jussim if he would turn his anti-race science argument into an article and said that Quillette would be an "obvious choice" for the submission.

Which is why I wonder if Cathy Young, who has written for Quillette has ever read Quillette. In all the years I've been tracking Quillette, I have not detected any evidence that it's ever published an article that argues against race science. It's always been clear to me, in spite of Quillette's claim to be about "free thought" that in fact it is dedicated to right-wing positions, including race science.

It would be surprising if they did run a critique of race science, since one of the people listed in Quillette's Who We Are (described elsewhere as "Quillette's team"), Bo Winegard, has a career that appears to be built entirely on a foundation of race science, in addition to the fact that he is a racist. I doubt Claire Lehmann, who has nurtured and defended the career of Winegard would suddenly turn on his very raison d'être.

The timeline of Jussim critiquing race science is curious. The screen cap of the argument I posted is from August 11, 2019, but Jussim was already declaring his admiration for biosocial criminologist John Paul Wright some time before June 2019, which is when I wrote about the Jussim-Wright connection. 

But could Quillette really have published an anti-race science piece and I somehow missed it? I tweeted to everybody on Quillette's Who We Are page (if they were on Twitter and hadn't blocked me) to ask. No response, of course.

I've been listening to Adam Rutherford's "How to Argue with a Racist" and he addresses Bo Winegard's "blacks are better at basketball" trope. I will be talking about Rutherford's work soon.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Crikey catches Claire Lehmann in a lie

According to Crikey

The right’s finest minds 
Yesterday, The Australian reported on the emergence of a new journal of “controversial ideas” led by Professor Peter Singer, which will (sigh) push back against cancel culture, in part by allowing researchers to publish under pseudonyms — thus freeing them to discuss difficult ideas without putting their careers in jeopardy or “suffering intimidation on social media”.
Today comes an approving think piece from Claire Lehmann, founder of “intellectual dark web” publication Quillette. Under the heading “What’s in a pen name? Freedom to think in the age of Digital Big Brother”, Lehmann argues pseudonyms are a great way of withholding data from big tech and that “there are often good reasons for people to conceal their identities that have nothing to do with abuse or trolling”. 
Fair point. But then she goes on to say:

We have published writers under pseudonyms at the online magazine I founded, Quillette, but only after verifying the author’s real identity. 

Which would have been a really easy thing to not specifically say. Back in 2019, Quillette published a piece under the byline “Archie Carter”. Carter described himself as a Marxist-Leninist construction worker and his argument was that the Democratic Socialists of America was doomed as an organisation, partly because of (you guessed it) a fixation with “inclusivity”, pronouns and “feminist procedures” were alienating to the fellow working men he brought along to meetings. In other words, a slice of fried gold for a publication so averse to identity politics and leftist orthodoxy.
You see where we’re going with this. Carter was a fake name and the article was a hoax, an attempt by some guy in Chicago to pass the “ideological Turing test”.

UPDATE - while poking around Twitter archives I found this exchange, which I missed the first time. Here we see Claire Lehmann demonstrating both the rigorous editorial standards and the civility that the Quillette/IDW gang are always patting themselves on the back for.

Friday, April 23, 2021

The American Humanist Association should take back Steven Pinker's humanist award too

As usual, PZ Myers has a great response - and I missed that Pinker
quoted Toby Eugenics Young Quillette editor, in his letter to the AHA

To nobody's surprise the right-wing/IDW/Quillette gang has come out in support of long-time bigot and obnoxious creep Richard Dawkins, because the American Humanist Association withdrew Dawkins' Humanist of the Year award.

The Friendly Atheist provides the details. Many of the usual suspects are supporting Dawkins and his anti-human bigotry: Ayaan Hirsi Ali (IDW, far-right, bigot); Shermer (IDW, race science, creep); Peter Boghossian (grifter, creep); Jerry Coyne (race science, Steven Pinker's #1 fanboy); Sam Harris (IDW, race science, dummy).

The article also flagged a number of atheist organization types who I will have to check out to see how much they support right-wing/race science/IDW beliefs.

And of course, Steven Pinker.

Pinker points out that other problematic people have received Humanist of the Year awards. He should be included in that list.

My question is, what took the AHA so long? Dawkins has been an incredible anti-Muslim, anti-woman bigot for years now. He only recently started attacking transexual rights, probably because all his friends are doing it. 

As for Pinker, this blog attests to Pinker's unconscionable career of promoting race pseudo-science, evolutionary psychology pseudo-science, Quillette, a rag for race science and anti-trans and other reactionary positions and Pinker has even promoted professional racists like Steve Sailer and Bo Winegard.

As usual, PZ Myers has a good response: Idolatry of the atheist kind is just as repellent as any other

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Possibly the most racist thing that Quillette employee Bo Winegard has said yet

We know that when Winegard uses the term "group differences" he means race.

Now so far there's no evidence that Caliper Claire Lehmann approves Winegard's tweet. On the other hand there's no evidence she has any intention of firing him from Quillette. The reason why is most likely because she agrees with him. 

And that's what Quillette is.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Andrew Sullivan cries defamation because someone said he supports race science, then doubles-down on race science

When we last saw Andrew Sullivan here on Pinkerite, he was praising the Bari Weiss-promoted Brearley dad letter that said there has been no systemic racism since the 1960s. 

Well the Brearley dad controversy has yielded dividends. On one of the threads about the dad letter, Andrew Sullivan cried defamation because someone pointed out that he supports race science, a pseudo-science that claims that Black underachievement proves the Black "race" is evolutionarily less intelligent than other "races."

Sullivan then followed up by doubling-down on race science.

I was not surprised to see him retweeting Bo Winegard, professional racist.

Tom Scocca noted the absurdity.

Jamelle Bouie weighs in.

Now we may all have fun laughing at the logic fail of Andrew Sullivan but it's important to note that  Andrew Sullivan is now an Advisor for an organization, FAIR, which believes in the biological reality of race so strongly that it coined a term "Neo-racism" which includes only those who believe race is a social construct in this new definition of racism. And this organization is devoted to litigation.

I wonder if Bari Weiss, also a FAIR Advisor, tweeted the Brearley letter for the consideration of the FAIR legal experts as a possible legal action. 

Yes people like Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan are stupid and laughable, but it's likely they are backed by right-wing plutocrat money, like their pal Conor Friedersdorf.

Sure it's fun to laugh at dummies like Weiss and Sullivan, but it's quite possible for dummies, backed by a lot of money, to do a lot of harm on behalf of right-wing extremists.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

What Bari Weiss believes

To understand why the Right and the Intellectual Dark Web and the Quillette gang hate the 1619 Project so much, you have to understand that they believe systemic racism ended in the United States in the 1960s, in spite of a mountain of evidence that shows otherwise. The anti-1619 forces are ignorant of Black history and wish to stay that way.

Bari Weiss just published on her substack the letter of a man Weiss names as Andrew Gutmann, who is yanking his kid out of private Brearley school.

Part of his letter.

If he can afford to send his kid to a private school then Andrew Gutmann must surely know how Google works and could have found these articles (my highlights):

December 2019:

This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry

This year, researchers for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that black mortgage borrowers were charged higher interest rates than white borrowers and were denied mortgages that would have been approved for white applicants.

An investigation reveals widespread housing discrimination against blacks and other minorities in New York’s suburbs, more than 50 years after the Fair Housing Act.

North Carolina’s third-largest city, officers pulled over African-American drivers for traffic violations at a rate far out of proportion with their share of the local driving population. They used their discretion to search black drivers or their cars more than twice as often as white motorists — even though they found drugs and weapons significantly more often when the driver was white.

Officers were more likely to stop black drivers for no discernible reason. And they were more likely to use force if the driver was black, even when they did not encounter physical resistance.


It took me ten minutes to find these articles showing indisputable evidence that in policing, banking and real estate, there is systemic racism. 

And on top of that, there is the issue of the compounding effects of systemic racism that looted black wealth prior to the 1960s and left a legacy of immiseration

If you don't believe there is systemic racism NOW it's because you are refusing to look or you don't wish to believe it.

Andrew Sullivan approves the Brearley dad message, of course.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

FAIR - more right-wing than ever

A little over a month ago I wrote about how FAIR, the organization touted by Trumper toady Christopher Rufo as bi-partisan has a board of Advisors that is distinctly right-leaning. 

More recently I wrote about how phony bi-partisanship is apparently a preferred Koch organization strategy.

FAIR has added two more people to its Advisors board. 

Let's meet them:

So FAIR is even more right-wing than before!

UPDATE - I just noticed the FAIR Advisors lost Andrew Doyle, the talentless right-wing satirist who was paid by Koch to run the Spiked "Unsafe Space Tour" so the further tilt to the right isn't as extreme as I thought but Kenny Xu more than makes up for the loss of Doyle in terms of right-wing views. And Ajouz gave money to TED CRUZ.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

So why is Koch so bad?

Illustration from The Economist article Kochtopus's Garden

I make a big deal about all the connections between Steven Pinker and his friends and Charles Koch. But why? What's so bad about Koch

I was first alerted to the awfulness of Charles Koch - or rather the Koch brothers because David Koch was still alive then - thanks to Jane Mayer's 2010 New Yorker piece
Covert Operations The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama

From the piece:

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.


The brothers realized that their brand of politics didn’t sell at the ballot box. Charles Koch became openly scornful of conventional politics. “It tends to be a nasty, corrupting business,” he told a reporter at the time. “I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas.” According to Doherty’s book, the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script.” A longtime confidant of the Kochs told Doherty that the brothers wanted to “supply the themes and words for the scripts.” In order to alter the direction of America, they had to “influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.”


The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny. Recently, President Obama took aim at the Kochs’ political network. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, in Austin, he warned supporters that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case—which struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns—had made it even easier for big companies to hide behind “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity.” Obama said, “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation”—or even, he added, “a big oil company.” 

The Kochs were not happy about the article and tried to retaliate against Mayer according to a NYTimes article What Happened to Jane Mayer When She Wrote About the Koch Brothers.

Eleven years later, David Koch is dead but Charles Koch is still at it. And it appears that what Charles Koch has decided is that since voters don't like libertarian ideas, the real problem is democracy itself. Mayer recently wrote again for the New Yorker about Koch:

A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers’ network—reveals the participants’ worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill’s provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn’t worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress.

But they have a plan - phony bipartisanship:

On the call, McKenzie, the Koch operative, cited one “ray of hope” in the fight against the reforms, noting that his research found that the most effective message was arguing that a politically “diverse coalition of groups opposed” the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union. “In our message example that we used, we used the example of A.C.L.U., Planned Parenthood, and conservative organizations backed by Charles Koch as an example of groups that oppose H.R. 1,” he said. “I think, you know, when you put that in front of people . . . they’re, like, ‘Oh, conservatives and some liberal groups all oppose this, like, I should maybe think about this more. You know, there must be bigger implications to this if these groups are all coming together on it.’ ”

However, that test message was inaccurate. Planned Parenthood does not oppose the For the People Act. It is, in fact, on a list of organizations giving the legislation their full backing. And the A.C.L.U. supports almost all of the expansions of voting rights contained in the bill...

I think Koch flunkies got the memo. Just recently I noted that Koch employee and Trump supporter Christopher F. Rufo was trying to pass off FAIR as a bipartisan group when it is clear it is far right-leaning and full of people who take money from Koch-supported organizations.

Mayer and the New Yorker are national treasures for their reporting on Koch. It's curious that the New Yorker is also one of the few media outlets that isn't baffled by Steven Pinker's bullshit - or the bullshit of other Koch-funded grifters.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Steven Pinker and his other connections

I've mentioned here on occasion that Pinker fanboys freak out because I created a diagram (with associated text which they never seem to read) demonstrating Pinker's connections to the Right and/or purveyors of race "science." 

I've also noted previously on this blog that Steven Pinker appears to be a sacred cow of the media, and has escaped serious blow-back for his support of race science in a way that Andrew Sullivan, for example, has not. 

How did Steven Pinker, "celebrity intellectual" achieve this? Even after another celebrity intellectual, Malcolm Gladwell, called out Pinker's promotion of professional racist Steve Sailer, 12 years ago.

I've speculated on this before, suggesting it could be the Pinker PR machine or his lack of intellectual integrity, but another likely reason is that Pinker has the right connections.

In addition to his connections through colleges and connections to rich guys like Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Gates, Pinker is or has been, according to his CV on boards of 76 scientific, scholarly and public interest organizations - most of them are current.

Editorial Boards of Scientific and Scholarly Journals

  1. American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience
  2. Canadian Psychology, 2003-.
  3. Cognition, 1982-2008.
  4. Cognitive Science, 1991-1996.
  5. Daedalus, 2002- .
  6. Developmental Review, 2019- .
  7. Earth & Sky, 2007- .
  8. English Linguistics, 2003- .
  9. Essays in Philosophy of Humanism, 2012– .
  10. Evolution and Human Behavior, 1998- .
  11. Evolution and Culture, 2020- .
  12. Evolutionary Psychology, 2001- .
  13. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2014- .
  14. Intercultural Pragmatics, 2003- .
  15. International Journal of Bilingualism. 1996- .
  16. Journal of Child Language, 1994-2004. 
  17. Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2000- .
  18. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 2014- .
  19. Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, 2008- .
  20. Language Acquisition, 1990-2004; Advisory Board, 2004- .
  21. Language and Dialogue, 2010- .
  22. Mind & Society, 2002- .
  23. PLoS ONE, 2006-2015.
  24. PsyCh Journal, 2018- .
  25. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 2014- .
  26. The Evolutionary Review, 2008- .
  27. The Humanist, 2007- .
  28. The Scientific Study of Literature, 2010-.
  29. Theoria et Historia Scientiarum: An International Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies, 2000- .
  30. Trends in Cognitive Science, 2000-2010.
  31. Words, 2002- .

Advisory Boards of Scientific, Scholarly, and Public Interest Organizations

  1. Apolitical, 2018- .
  2. Breakthrough Institute, Senior Fellow, 2018- .
  3. Campus Freedom Network, 2009- .
  4. Cellular Agricultural Society, 2020- .
  5. Center for Empathy in International Affairs, 2015- .
  6. Center for Inquiry Canada, 2016- .
  7. Center for Research on Language, Mind, and Brain, McGill University, 2003- .
  8. Cognitive Neuroscience Society, 1994- .
  9. Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, 1979- .
  10. Counterweight, 2021- .
  11. Cybereditions, 1998- .
  12. The Decade of Behavior, 2003-2005
  13. Diamond Sky Productions/The Day the Earth Smiled, 2013- .
  14. E. O. Wilson Foundation, 2007- .
  15. Endangered Language Fund, 1998- .
  16. English for the Children, 2001-2004.
  17. Environmental Progress, 2016– .
  18. Ford Hall Forum, 2012- .
  19. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 2007- .
  20. The Foundations Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Max Planck Society, 2019- .
  21. Global Secular Council for the Scientific Study of Nontheism, 2014- .
  22. HumanProgress.org
  23. Institute for Science and Human Values, 2010- .
  24. International Academy of Humanism, 2010- . 
  25. International Association for the Study of Attention and Performance, 1992- .
  26. Kärnfull Energi, Sweden, Pro Bono Advisory Board, 2020- .
  27. National Writing Project Writers Council, 20106– .
  28. Naturalism Research Project, Center for Inquiry.
  29. NSF Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University, 2011- .
  30. Office of Public Policy, Center for Inquiry, Washington DC, 2006- .
  31. Origins Project, Arizona State University, 2009- 2018.
  32. Oxford University Press, Heretical Thought series, 2013- .
  33. Paul G. Allen Institute for Brain Science, 2001- .
  34. Peace Research Endowment, 2012- .
  35. Planet Word Museum of Language Arts, 2016- .
  36. Potential Energy, 2019- .
  37. Rock-It Science, 2008- .
  38. Secular Coalition for America, 2007- .
  39. Sesame Workshop, 2012- .
  40. Science for Peace, 2009- .
  41. Science and Entertainment Exchange, National Academy of Sciences, 2008- .
  42. Society for Evolutionary Analysis in Law, 2009- .
  43. Society for Language Development, 2003- .
  44. Student Achievement and Advocacy Services, 2002- .
  45. World Science Festival, New York, 2006- .

In addition to those, he's an Advisor to FAIRHonorary President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation; on the Board of Directors of Ideas Beyond Borders, and likely more.

I see two of the organizations listed by Pinker also have connections to the Right, including Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) funded by Koch - I mention FIRE in my Pinker diagram, and Human Progress, also Koch-funded. There are probably more.

I should have been paying better attention because I just noticed Pinker is publishing a new book due in September, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters. I can't wait for the New Yorker magazine review - the New Yorker is one of the very few publications that isn't baffled by Pinker's bullshit. 

But then, Pinker isn't a New Yorker advisor nor a board member.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Human Strategy: You Are What They Ate

The latest installment of the column Marvin Harris wrote for Natural History, in 1972, "The Human Strategy." He talks about the significance of humans having grinding-type teeth and how that demonstrates that early human diets were primarily vegetarian. 

Harris opens by mentioning his son which is sad, because his son died young.


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