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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

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