Featured Post

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

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.


Blog Archive