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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!

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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.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Adam Rutherford and Thomas Chatterton Williams

I've been watching a lot of Adam Rutherford videos lately, focusing on those related to his most recently published book, "How to Argue with a Racist" and the other day I came across a video conversation between Rutherford and Thomas Chatterton Williams recorded August 18, 2020.

The transcript is available here.

I was surprised by the video for several reasons, starting with the very low number of views - only 233 when I watched it. It was sponsored by a Florida bookshop, Books and Books as a promotion for the shop and for Rutherford's book.

I was especially surprised that Williams was so agreeable to Rutherford's message, which is that race is a social but not a biological phenomenon.

One of Williams' best pals is Bari Weiss, who promotes the race science-friendly "Intellectual Dark Web," and the claim that systemic racism has not existed since the 1960s

One of Weiss' best friends is Andrew Sullivan, who is, along with Steven Pinker, the foremost media normalizer of race science, and race science says that race is a biological phenomenon.

Recently Thomas Chatterton Williams has become a member of the heavily right-leaning Board of Advisors of FAIR, which includes Pinker, Sullivan and Michael Shermer, another promoter of race science. 

FAIR is so thoroughly controlled by the pro-race science position that there is, on the FAIR web site, a new FAIR-invented word for racism that deliberately excludes those who believe race is a biological phenomenon: "Neo-racism."

The FAIR Board of Advisors: race pseudo-science promoters,
Quillette authors and Koch beneficiaries

Then there are nine board members who are Quillette authors, in addition to Pinker. While those authors may not have come out in direct support of race science (although I consider Coleman Hughes a race science apologist), Quillette's pro-race science position does not concern them enough that they refuse to write for it.

Many beneficiaries of Charles Koch are FAIR board members - and that's just the ones that are obviously getting Koch money. I personally would wager that Andrew Sullivan and Bari Weiss have some kind of Koch dark money conduit, since at least the time when both stormed off their big establishment media gigs simultaneously.

But it's indisputable fact that the following FAIR board members take money from Koch-supported organizations: Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Kmele Foster; Samantha Harris; Coleman Hughes; Glenn Loury; John McWhorter; Ian Rowe; Christopher Rufo; Eli Steele, and Thomas Chatterton Williams himself.

Charles Murray, who is not on the FAIR board, is also a recipient of Koch money. Koch money and race pseudo-science seem to go together. 

Speaking of Sullivan and Murray, they were just promoting race pseudo-science together today.

Williams "spearheaded" the Harpers letter published in July, 2020. I noted that many of the signers had Koch organization connections. Then in December 2020 it was announced that Williams would be on the Koch payroll

But in August 2020, in between the Harpers letter and coming out of the wingnut welfare closet, Thomas Chatterton Williams seemed to agree with Adam Rutherford that race is not a biological phenomenon.

There was one moment in the discussion early on, at minute 11:45, when Williams mentioned the Robin DiAngelo-influenced content at the Museum of African American History, but Rutherford said he hadn't heard of it and then they moved on, before Williams got a chance to point out that the museum content, which made essentialist claims about race, came from "woke" opponents of racism.

I'm a long-time critic of Robin DiAngelo because of her race essentialism, but it is absurd for Williams to criticize her for her essentialist beliefs when he publicly aligns himself with Andrew Sullivan, who has had a much longer career than Robin DiAngelo of promoting race essentialism.

I'm not entirely convinced Rutherford was unaware of the museum controversy. He's usually on top of the latest controversies, judging by his videos and Twitter feed, and he is good at handling people, to the point where I believe if he ever stopped being a science communicator he could have a job as a diplomat. He's professional and even charming in his public appearances. This comes, I suppose, from years of being a frequent presenter of sometimes controversial subjects. His diplomacy, along with his scientific expertise, makes him one of the best possible opponents of race science. 

Before speaking to Rutherford, Williams got quite exercised about the Museum, as can be seen by these tweets.

But in conversation with Rutherford, Williams drops the hot potato at the slightest push-back and then spends the rest of the interview agreeing with everything Rutherford said.

This seeming lack of intellectual integrity makes me wonder if Williams has modeled his career on that of Steven Pinker. More in the next post

Thursday, May 27, 2021

I would love to see Turkheimer debate Pinker

I doubt Pinker would debate Turkheimer, and even if he did, I have a feeling we would see the weak and strong Pinkerism effect as when Pinker had a discussion, (it was initially advertised as a debate but it was not), with Paul Krugman. During the conversation Krugman said:

...it's a great time now to live in New York if you can afford a place, which is the problem.
But housing costs aside, there was a period when social order really did break down to a very important extent.
We did go from being from a city that was pretty safe, was never completely violence free, but it was a pretty safe place in the early 1960s.
It became an extremely-- well, maybe not by the standards of the Middle Ages or Stone Age societies, but by modern standards New York became a very dangerous place, and peaking in the 1980s.

So did Pinker step up and say that he knew the answer? 

No, but he had the answer in his book "The Better Angels of Our Nature:"

...The idea that young men are civilized by women and marriage may seem as corny as Kansas in August, but it has become a commonplace of modern criminology. A famous study that tracked a thousand low-income Boston teenagers for forty-five years discovered that two factors predicted whether a delinquent would go on to avoid a life of crime: getting a stable job, and marrying a woman he cared about and supporting her and her children. The effect of marriage was substantial: three-quarters of the bachelors, but only a third of the husbands, went on to commit more crimes. This difference alone cannot tell us whether marriage keeps men away from crime or career criminals are less likely to get married, but the sociologists Robert Sampson, John Laub, and Christopher Wimer have shown that marriage really does seem to be a pacifying cause.

As it happens it was easy enough for me to debunk "marriage really does seem to be a pacifying cause" by comparing marriage rates with violent crime rates and noticing that both dropped at the same time. 

If Pinker had been right, as marriage rates dropped, violent crime should have gone up due to the removal of that "pacifying cause."

There is so much else that is wrong with "Better Angels" as discussed by this New Yorker review, which annoyed Pinker so much he called on race monger Razib Khan - who is a terrible writer - to defend his work.

Pinker gets away with promoting bullshit because he doesn't debate anybody these days. He used to, until it was clear he would keep embarrassing himself, as when he and Elizabeth Spelke had a nature/nurture debate at Edge and Spelke handily won by actually knowing what she was talking about as an expert on child development.

Even further back there was an exchange of letters between Pinker and Stephen Jay Gould over evolutionary psychology in 1997. The results were predictable:


If we define poetic justice as defeat by one’s own favored devices—Robespierre before the guillotine or Midas in golden starvation—then we might be intrigued to find Steven Pinker, a linguist by training, upended by his own use of words.

He begins by unjustly characterizing my two recent articles on “Darwinian Fundamentalism” as a misguided attack on the nascent field of evolutionary psychology. I can’t imagine, first of all, what thesaurus could cast such a broad net for synonyms of “fanatic.” More importantly, I cite evolutionary psychology as just one illustration within a much wider critique—and I devote only the last part of my second article to the subject. My objections, however forceful, are clearly offered with constructive intent, for I praise the field’s goal, while arguing that a truly evolutionary psychology cannot arise when leading practitioners so strongly exaggerate an adaptationist style of explanation that represents but one mode of evolutionary causation among many legitimate alternatives. 

I think Pinker learned his lessons and is unlikely to risk an actual debate with Turkheimer. 

And Pinker will always have Jerry Coyne ready to defend and praise him, while calling anybody who notes that scientists can sometimes be assholes as "Pecksniffs."

I’d like to think that, in the future, instead of being known as “The man who took down Darwin,” Fuentes will be known as “The Pecksniff who went after Darwin but failed to score a hit.” The man’s scholarship is shoddy, and his piece looks like an excuse to flaunt Fuentes’s own moral superiority—or the moral superiority of moderns over Victorians. But if you want to hear about moral improvement without the snark and finger-pointing, it’s better to read Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The race pseudo-science Trojan horse: "viewpoint discrimination"

Steven Pinker, seen here opposing "viewpoint 
discrimination" by supporting the
race pseudo-science career
of Stefan Molyneux's pal, crackpot
Linda Gottfredson

Some on the Right are claiming to be against the denial of tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones but it looks to me as though they have decided to use that as a Trojan horse for the term "viewpoint discrimination."

The Koch-funded FIRE in its statement on the Hannah-Jones issue uses the term "viewpoint discrimination."

In his Atlantic article on the subject, the Koch-funded Conor Friedersdorf uses the term "viewpoint discrimination" nine times.

Conor Friedersdorf is an apologist for Steven Pinker's promotion of race pseudo-science.

Being opposed to viewpoint discrimination sounds great, but what the Right means in practice is that if you oppose someone promoting racist or sexist points of view you are practicing "viewpoint discrimination."

Inevitably the racist Right will use "viewpoint discrimination" to defend the promotion of race pseudo-science on behalf of racists like Quillette employee Bo Winegard and "biosocial criminologists" including John Paul Wright.

Quillette author Joshua Katz used the term in his lawsuit alleging that the American Council of Learned Societies practiced "viewpoint discrimination" against him. 

One of Katz's attorneys is Samantha Harris, a member of the board of advisors of the far-right-leaning FAIR. She is also a Senior Fellow at FIRE so understands why it's important to use exactly that phrase, "viewpoint discrimination."

So far FAIR has not pretended to care if Nikole Hannah-Jones' viewpoint was discriminated against.

Fun fact about Katz - he's been accused of sexual misconduct while teaching at Princeton.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Remembering Black Wall Street

One of the most important antidotes to the claims of race pseudo-science (that Black people are, compared to other "races," innately less intelligent and more criminal, and even have a lesser ability to "organize socially" per "biosocial criminologist" John Paul Wright) is acknowledging the systemic racism in the United States that actively hindered the Black struggle to achieve prosperity after slavery.

So I'm very glad to see the NYTimes is focusing on Black Wall Street, which was destroyed by the racial resentment of the white majority in Tulsa Oklahoma 100 years ago this coming weekend. 

And as I've noted, although the Tulsa massacre was probably the most horrific post-Emancipation "race riot," it certainly wasn't the only one.

The message to Black people from the white majority was clear - "don't get too uppity or we will destroy you." 

The lesson that can be learned from this is that systemic racism can be extremely powerful without the law behind it. There was no law passed that said Black people couldn't build prosperous communities: the underlying beliefs of the white majority caused the destruction of Greenwood.

The potential that was destroyed is well expressed in the article:

“What if we had been allowed to maintain our family business?” asked Brenda Nails-Alford, who is in her early 60s. The Greenwood Avenue shoe shop of her grandfather and his brother was destroyed. “If they had been allowed to carry on that legacy,” she said, “there’s no telling where we could be now.” 

Another important aspect of the Tulsa massacre is the fact that it was white-washed out of history. As the NYTimes article notes:

The final insult of the massacre came in the silence. For decades, Tulsa deliberately ignored and covered up what had happened in Greenwood. Many descendants said they learned about the mob and the killings only as adults — and even then, some of the recounting was told in whispers.

People on Twitter attest to their ignorance of the Tulsa massacre.

And as a result of the white-washing, people like Charles Murray, John Paul Wright and Steve Sailer and their media enablers like Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan and Steven Pinker and the IDW-Quillette industrial complex can claim total ignorance of the many ways that Black people tried, like any other "race," to build businesses and create better lives. 

They can deny the legacy of extra-legal systemic racism that thwarted Black people at every turn and that led them into immiseration. 

The victims of systemic racism are then blamed for their oppression by claims from "biosocial criminologists" and other race mongers that Black people's communities are poor because there is something inferior about Black genetics.

The racist Right is not going to sit back while the history of Black oppression is finally being fully acknowledged though. I've noted the hostility of the IDW & friends to the 1619 Project - and their antagonism is getting results.

The news outlet NC Policy Watch reported on Monday that the university’s dean, chancellor, and faculty had backed Hannah-Jones’s appointment to the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, a tenured professorship, after a “rigorous tenure process at UNC.” But in an extraordinary move, the board of trustees declined to act on that recommendation. Hannah-Jones was instead offered a five-year, nontenured appointment following public and private pressure from conservatives. Notably, other Knight Chairs at the journalism school have been tenured on its professional track, which acknowledges “significant professional experience” rather than traditional academic scholarship. Hannah-Jones’s Pulitzer and MacArthur genius grant surely qualify.  

Friday, May 14, 2021

The FAIR Board of Advisors - more lousy with right-wingers than ever

When we last looked at the advisory board of FAIR it was even lousier with right-wingers than at its founding, a mere month earlier

Now, another month later, even more changes are afoot with the Board, which seems pretty odd for an organization less than a year old.

So Helen Pluckrose is no longer on the board. However, Inaya Folarin Iman, "journalist, writer" is now in, and she's Pluckrose's political twin as can easily be seen by Pluckrose's appearance on the home page of The Equiano Project, of which Iman is the Founder and Director. The Equiano is your absolutely standard right-wing project, pretending to care about Black people while relentlessly attacking and lying about critical race theory, "wokeness" and Black Lives Matter.

Iman is also a pal of Douglas Murray, "conservative British political commentator" and named member of the Intellectual Dark Web who is also, surprise! another new member of the FAIR board of advisors.

The third new member of the board is Erec Smith who is, surprise surprise, an author at right-wing, race science-promoting Quillette.

So the Board lost one right-winger but added three more which means the FAIR board of advisors, which pretends to be, per Trump-loving Board member Christopher Rufo, a coalition of liberals, moderates and conservatives, is even more right-wing than ever. 

And with Pluckrose gone, the Board of Advisors is down to only one member - Boghossian - of the unholy trinity of shameless grifting weasels: Boghossian/Lindsay/Pluckrose.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Is "man/boy love" what the IDW means by "Western Civilization"?

Pinkerite has previously noted that Camille Paglia is the Intellectual Dark Web's idea of a feminist and I suggested it was likely because she's a "feminist" who hates women. There is no clearer expression of Paglia's pure contempt for women as helpless losers than her statement that:

If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.

Sexual Personae (1990)

This is why the IDW loves her. Because they agree with her - and in the case of Quillette's founder Claire Lehmann, with the above statement, explicitly.

Steven Pinker in "The Blank Slate, " published in 2002, praised Paglia as a real feminist in contrast to Gloria Steinem. As the NewYork Magazine review of The Blank Slate notes:

Pinker musters his vast armies of intellectual allies (these range from Kant to the editors of The Onion) and goes back into the past in search of enemies. He air-drops Camille Paglia into a dispute over rape with Susan Brownmiller...

But we shouldn't let Paglia's misogyny prevent us from noting her support for child rape. 

Here is the web site of the North American Man/Boy Love Association proudly displaying her support for their cause

In case you don't want to give the NAMBLA site more hits, here is what it says:

These days, especially in America, boy-love is not only scandalous and criminal, but somehow in bad taste. On the evening news, one sees handcuffed teachers, priests and Boy Scout leaders hustled into police vans. Therapists call them maladjusted, emotionally immature. But beauty has its own laws, inconsistent with Christian morality. As a woman, I feel free to protest that men today are pilloried for something that was rational and honorable in Greece at the height of its civilization.

~ Camille Paglia, activist and author

          in Sexual Personae (New York,Vintage Books1991).

Quillette author Chloe Valdary has recently been singing the praises of Camille Paglia and even gave a heads-up about her to Trump-adoring Koch employee Christopher Rufo

Dear Camille:
For many of us children of the '60s, the recent death of Allen Ginsberg was a major loss. But some critics contend that Ginsberg's legacy is stained by his support for the North American Man-Boy Love Association. What are your feelings about Ginsberg? What do you think of his pro-NAMBLA stand? 
San Francisco hippie

Dear Hippie:

Allen Ginsberg, along with Marshall McLuhan and Norman O. Brown...

...As far as Ginsberg's pro-NAMBLA stand goes, this is one of the things I most admire him for. I have repeatedly protested the lynch-mob hysteria that dogs the issue of man-boy love. In "Sexual Personae," I argued that male pedophilia is intricately intertwined with the cardinal moments of Western civilization. Donatello's historically pivotal bronze sculpture, "David" (1430), was my main exhibit -- a languidly flirtatious work that would get the artist arrested for kiddie porn these days. In "Vamps & Tramps," I said that Western moralism and hypocrisy have driven the matter underground and overseas, where impoverished Third World boys now supply the sex trade.

Allen Ginsberg was the apostle of a truly visionary sexuality. Like the expansive, sensual, democratic Whitman but unlike the twisted, dishonest, pretentious Foucault, he saw the continuity between great nature and the human body, bathed in waves of cosmic energy. Seen from this pagan perspective, Ginsberg's celebration of boy-love was pure and sinless, demonstrating the limitations of Judeo-Christian paradigms of sexuality.

The last line is especially amusing considering Valdary tweets that Paglia "gives an incredible defense of religion." Which religion is Valdary talking about, paganism? From Paglia's point of view, Judeo-Christianity is limited by its refusal to sanction male pedophilia (except of course for the decades of allowing rapist priests to run wild.)

But more importantly, it's clear that Paglia is not merely an apologist for child rape, she considers it admirable and states flat out: "I argued that male pedophilia is intricately intertwined with the cardinal moments of Western civilization."

And she doesn't have a problem with the Third World sex trade. Rather, she seems to feel that if only "moralism and hypocrisy" hadn't driven the underage sex trade underground here, pedophiles wouldn't have to travel so far to get their boy-raping done. 

Paglia published this in 1997. Pinker was praising her as an "equity feminist" in 2002

Steven Pinker is ready to jump down the throat of Taylor Swift for the misuse of the word "literally" but Paglia's support of child rape does not faze him in the least. Pinker praises her. He considers Paglia an ally.

I haven't been able to find Christopher Rufo's opinion of Camille Paglia, but his employer Charles Koch apparently adores her because Koch's City Journal promotes Paglia without mentioning her love of "man/boy love." I doubt Rufo would speak out against Paglia's admiration for male pedophilia as long as his pay-master forbids it.

So what is the deal with people like Steven Pinker and Chloe Valdary and other members of the Intellectual Dark Web? Do they really not care that Paglia is a vocal defender of child rape? Do they think supporting child rape is no big deal? Do they agree with Paglia that child-rape is a critical building block of their beloved "Western Civilization"?

Are they really that evil?

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Rutherford's takedown of the Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence (NHAI) paper

Gregory Cochran is offered money to 
review "How to Argue with a Racist"

Pinkerite has often mentioned with approval the takedown of NHAI by anthropologist Brian Ferguson, and I was very pleased that Adam Rutherford also criticizes the very bad science involved in NHAI, in his book "How to Argue with a Racist."

Gregory Cochran is one of the two still-living authors of NHAI and is still involved in promoting race science (the third author was the late white nationalist Henry Harpending.) 

I have written about Cochran in the past year, noting his hostility towards Ferguson. So I wondered if Cochran was trash-talking Rutherford too. But the only mention of Rutherford I found on Cochran's West Hunter blog was the comment, displayed above. The West Hunter blog post that rgressis commented on demonstrates Cochran's continued obsession with race, and is entitled Black Doctors, Black Babies

Cochran wrote:

There’s a paper out claiming that black infant mortality is much higher when they’re treated by white doctors, rather than black doctors.

Could it be that MCAT scores have negative predictive value?

No, there’s a simpler explanation: the report is nonsense.  A metaphorical cee-gar to the first person to explain why.

And the next question is: why do the pinheads that authored this paper have jobs?

Cochran doesn't explain why the authors are pinheads nor why the report is nonsense. He does offer a metaphorical cigar to his followers, but does not, as far as I can tell, award it, for the "simpler explanation." So his problem with the paper (other than the conclusion) is still unknown.

I had to laugh though, as I scrolled along, to see Cochran complaining about the professional status of the authors of the paper:

gcochran9 says:

For some reason I assumed the authors were MDs. Not so: business school, public health. I can only hope that they become more familiar with how medicine actually works – much more familiar, and soon.


As I noted in my first post about Cochran, he taught anthropology without a degree in anthropology, but instead was described by the Los Angeles Times around the time of the publication of NHAI (2006) as "a physicist and genetics buff" 

And of course the godfather of contemporary race science is neither a biologist nor a geneticist: Charles Murray is a political scientist whose literary career has been supported by right-wing plutocrats plus studies funded by the racist Pioneer Fund.

Now to the take-down. I have transcribed this from the audio book. Curiously Rutherford never provides the full name of the paper, Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence, and just refers to it as "the paper" throughout.

...'winnowing through persecution' is another suggestion in the paper. Somehow acts of oppression and tyranny resulted in survival of the smartest. The authors however are clear in the paper that they can't explain how that would work, as no such effect is seen in other persecuted people. I find it most strange that you'd include such guesswork in a scientific study...

...Cochran et. al describe money-lending and other forms of commerce that are presumed to be the preserve of Jews as "cognitively demanding jobs" and that "the Ashkenazi niche was so specifically demanding of accounting and management skills." Presenting this as evidence also sounds pretty sketchy to me. Medieval money-lending is not exactly rocket science and it's definitely not medieval brain surgery. 

They also cite specific biological factors and physiological effects that could increase intelligence. In the ancient days of 2006, we knew less than we do today about neuroscience and how biochemistry and cells relate to thought and action. But not that much less. Neuroscience is a vibrant field, but the truth is that we still really have very little idea of how neuronal growth and connectivity relate to cognition. If I have succeeded in convincing you that genetics is bewilderingly complicated, apply that to the development of the physical brain and the esoteric nature of thought, and you face one of the great frontiers in science. The suggestion that some disease genes have specific effects on the growth of neurons in a way that might enhance IQ reflects a profoundly simplistic view of neurological development...

...the model they are copying is that of sickle-cell anemia... the disorder is often thought of as being specific to Black people and therefore an example of how biology recapitulates race. But this is not correct. Sickle-cell trait has the effect of being protective against malarial infection. But the price of this protection is a terrible disease. Its existence corresponds not with ethnicity but with the geographical distribution of malaria, because they have evolved along side each other. It is indeed common among people of recent African ancestry, but only those whose descent co-locate with malaria zones, which represent a slice across the middle of the African continent. Similarly, sickle cell disease and traits exist at a high frequency in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and India in a passim which mirrors the range of malaria. The suggestion by Cochran et al is that the cost of selection for genes involved in intellectual prowess is a high frequency for a handful of diseases (Tay Sachs etc.) that might be important in brains. As carriers of the disease genes occur at measurable frequencies in the population with little disease effect, it is suggested that these genetic variants are evidence for a genetic basis for enhanced intellect...

...the complexities of the arguments for and against the potential intellectual benefits of these particular genetic conditions are a total mess in terms of different studies arguing in support of selection, against selection, or for founder effects, genetics bottlenecks, or neutral drift where changes in DNA are neither beneficial nor detrimental. Cochran et. al. suggest other genes or bits of DNA that may be involved in promoting growth of neurons or the dendrites that grow out of them, and link to other brain cells. 

They didn't know this at the time of writing their paper but we now know that the genes associated with intellectual capability are myriad and are very small but cumulative effect. Pixels on a colossal screen. Of the genes identified so far, and remember that while we know these genes are important, we don't know what they do and therefore why they are important, many are expressed in the brain as indeed are thousands of genes and therefore may well have a direct effect on intellect. There are databases that list hundreds of GWAS results and thousands of genes. You can enter a gene and ask the database to pull out studies that indicate the gene is associated with any one of dozens of types of traits, from height to mortality to bones, as well as cognitive and neurological. I checked the current databases for the disease genes that Cochran et. al suggest might be driving selection for Jewish  brains, to see if at the time of writing they associated with brains or cognitive abilities. The result - not one of them does.

Speculation is sometimes an important part of science. Trying to dream up an explanation for an observation can be a productive way of honing a scientific question in the absence of data that explains it. But not in this case. This one paper has a resounding echo and continues to foster influence and discussion. It was championed by the then-science editor of the NYTimes, Nicholas Wade, in multiple articles and subsequently in a book that was almost universally derided by the genetics community as error-strewn and specious. But celebrated by racists. 

The celebrity psychologist Jordan Peterson uncritically cited Cochran's work in February 2019 when writing about the disproportionate success of Jews in intellectual pursuits. I don't pretend to know the motivations of people publishing controversial work which does not fare well against the ruthlessness of scientific scrutiny. In my opinion, the Cochran study may appear to be pursuing scientific truth in the face of political correctness, instead it reads as political but neither true nor scientifically correct...

...to my mind commitment to these fingers-crossed speculations says more about the people that hold these views so tenaciously than it does about Jews, Blacks or any ethnic group. Some of the scientists and race-fixated ideologues are actual racists. Others merely contrarians or skeptics convinced they have unearthed some secret knowledge that has been quelled by a conspiratorial majority.
Arguments that the presence of brain disorders at high frequency in Ashkenazi Jews might explain the enrichment of genes that boost brains is woolly conjecture. And can be abandoned with current data to hand. Winnowing through persecution is also merely idle speculation and has no place in a decent scientific paper. These are fractionally more sophisticated versions of the evolutionary crime that we call adaptationism, also referred to as panglossism, after Voltaire's character Dr. Pangloss... it's the assumption that natural selection is responsible for specific human behaviors rather than happenstance or processes that are neither positive nor negative but have simply drifted into existence. In the genomic age we are capable of actually seeing the parts of the genome where selection has taken place and there are population-specific mutations that indicate positive selection of particular genes as adaptations to the local environment. Pigmentation, specific diets, resistance to diseases such as malaria and other traits are demonstrably local adaptation that are part of humankind's success of colonizing the world. 

Adaptationism is an error because in many cases it results in untestable hypotheses, but ones that are appealing because they sound superficially convincing: Blacks are good sprinters because of selection during slavery; Jews are intellectually gifted because their history of persecution enriched genes associated with brains. The evidence for selection of genes for intellect in Jews is weak. Is it not simply more scientifically parsimonious to suggest that a culture that values scholarship is more likely to develop scholars... 

...money-lending is a common stereotype not least because of Shakespeare's Shylock. In fact money-lending was a trade that was extremely limited in time and space within Jewish culture in Europe and by the end of the 15th century had largely vanished from Jewish populations. Yet the implication of Cochran et. al's scientific speculation is that business and financial acumen has driven the evolution of Jewish brains...

Rutherford mentions something I also mentioned recently - that in spite of NHAI being roundly criticized by the genetics community, people like Jordan Peterson (and Steven Pinker) keep promoting it as if it is settled science.

Strict adaptationism, described by Rutherford as "the assumption that natural selection is responsible for specific human behaviors..." is the foundation of evolutionary psychology which, like race science, is sociobiology. In this excellent video PZ Myers addresses the problems with evolutionary psychology and why adaptationism is wrong.

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