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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Pinker's guilt: more than by association

Steve Pinker is every-freaking-where these days, even more than usual, making the rounds, giving interviews to promote his Rationality book, which does not look promising and which brought us the already-classic review in the New York Times.

I don't bother with most Pinker interviews, knowing from grim experience how the establishment media loves to treat Pinker with kid gloves, sometimes to the point of grotesque fawning.

But since Pinker was interviewed in Salon by someone outside his usual interviewer demographic (middle-aged white man who hero-worships celebrity intellectuals without question) I decided to take a look.

Mary Elizabeth Williams does not fawn all over Pinker, which was refreshing, but it was still a frustrating read, and Pinker got to mention his favorite defense "guilt by association."

There's a classic list of dirty tricks that you can use to win an argument that don't bring you any closer to the truth, like ad hominem argumentation. You try to discredit your debating opponent on personal grounds, to imply that he or she is morally tainted. There's guilt by association. You try to discredit someone in terms of who they hang out, who they've published with, what conferences they've gone to. Argument from authority. You say, "Well, so-and-so has a Nobel Prize. Are you going to argue against him?" 

"Argument from authority" reminds me of the time ethics-free grifter Peter Boghossian attacked me on Twitter for daring to criticize much-cited public figure Steven Pinker. Pinker has promoted Boghossian's blatant grift, natch.

More importantly, the passage demonstrates that by his own definition of "guilt by association" Pinker has lied about his connection to Steve Sailer. Even the Guardian called him on that: Pinker didn't publish "with" Steve Sailer, Pinker selected an article written by Sailer to include in the best "Science and Nature Writing" of 2004.

It was clearly a favor to Sailer, since the article, "The Cousin Marriage Conundrum," is a piece of absolute shit. I reviewed it but I don't think I've done justice to its true awfulness and must revisit it one of these days.

But that's a question that the lazy feckless journalists of the establishment media will never ask of Pinker: "why did you publish a shitty article by a shitty racist in a publication called 'the best writing'?"

Why, in spite of the indisputable evidence that Pinker's connection to Sailer is far more than "association," did Pinker use the "guilt by association" defense when asked about Sailer?

I think we know why.