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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!

The Brian Ferguson Interview

Friday, December 31, 2021

The meeting of the race pseudoscience brain trust is called to order


You cannot have a race pseudoscience brain trust meeting without Greco-Roman statuary to signify "The West." 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

FAIR grifter update - even further right than ever - can it be possible???

Nothing gives Warren more credibility than the fact
that misogynist rightwing tax-evading
plutocrat Elon Musk hates her.

The FAIR board of advisors is leaning so far right now, it's a wonder it hasn't fallen over entirely.

Back in July I did a tally of the board and its political leanings. Very far right.

So who's out now and who is in?

Well the only one who appears to be gone is Christopher Rufo. I guess his main assignment of trying to prevent discussions of race in American classrooms under the umbrella of CRT is taking up all his time.

But Rufo is verrrrry far right. A Trump supporter, a Koch employee, and is or was "a research fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Christian think tank known for its opposition to the theory of evolution and advocacy for intelligent design to be taught in public schools."

Will the FAIR gang be able to not only make up for Rufo's extremism, but add enough members of right-wing alignment to allow the FAIR board of advisors to tilt even further starboard?

You can count on the FAIR gang. 

The newly added members are Jonathan Kay, Batya Ungar-Sargon, Tim Urban and John R. Wood, Jr.

Jonathan Kay of course is the right-wing editor of the race pseudoscience rag Quillette. So Quillette connection. Check.

Batya Ungar-Sargon: "Newsweek opinion editor: Fauci represents 'extremely arrogant and highly politicized elite." Wrote an anti-woke book. Complete rightwing establishment media asshole. Check.

Tim Urban worships Elon Musk. Elon Musk was seen on Twitter recently, combining plutocrat disdain for paying taxes with misogyny. So economically conservative. Check.

John R. Wood, Jr. - Republican who loves Trump. Check.

Watch him at CPAC asking God to bless Trump. It will make your skin crawl.

So these four, while individually not as horrible as Christopher Rufo, are each pretty horrible in their own special way and that more than makes up for the loss of Rufo.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Help fight racist, perjuring scofflaw Emil Kirkegaard

Emil Kirkegaard, described by comedian Stewart Lee as a "weird far-right paedophilia apologist called Emil" is also a perjurer who was ordered by the court to pay the legal costs of a person he sued, Oliver Smith. 

Of course Kirkegaard is refusing to pay. 

Smith has set up a gofundme to help defray the costs of going after Kirkegaard in his native Denmark.
In May 2020 I won a frivolous libel suit filed by a vexatious litigant named Emil O. W. Kirkegaard in the High Court of England and Wales. My comments he sued me for were not ruled to be defamatory under statute law (they did not cause him "serious harm") and my legal defence of honest opinion was successful. Kirkegaard subsequently lost the assessment of costs that dragged on until September 2021. In October 2021 he missed the deadline and refused to pay my legal costs of 35,971.67 (which includes two separate costs orders + interest) and is in contempt of court. I am now taking him to court in his own country (Denmark) to enforce the court orders and judgment. I am raising money to cover the enforcement costs.

More information can be found on the following webpage: https://oliveratlantis.com/emil-kirkegaard/

I have donated and I recommend you do too. 

Race pseudoscience is a many-headed hydra and opposing one race pseudoscience-monger like Kirkegaard is opposition to all. Quillette author and extreme racist Noah Carl has published in Kirkegaard's OpenPsych. Carl likes to team up with Quillette employee and racist Bo Winegard to defend race pseudoscience

Charles Murray is a supporter of Kirkegaard. In this tweet we see him supporting a "human biodiversity" fundaraiser for Kirkegaard - and another for racist Bo Winegard.

I will admit to having one thing in common with Emil Kirkegaard though - we both believe Steven Pinker is a "racial hereditarian."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Anna Krylov embarrasses herself in print again

When we last discussed Anna Krylov, professor of Chemistry at the University of Southern California, here at Pinkerite, it was to criticize her essay "The Peril of Politicizing Science" in which I demonstrated that Krylov was a hypocrite who believes that if she promotes a manifestly political position it is not really politics.

Then there is her logical incoherence - scoffing along with Steven Pinker at the idea that words have power, while simultaneously claiming a grave existential threat over changing the words in the names of science prizes and terms and even in an advertisement for soap

Finally there is her moral incoherence. She clearly thinks that "canceling" is bad - she even equated it with being burnt at the stake. And yet she appears to decry the removal of the name of a murderous Soviet dictator from towns and other public edifices as "canceled."

Well Krylov has published a new piece on the same old topic, this time in the horrendous Quillette, proving I was correct when I said, at the end of my previous critique of Krylov: "she truly is a member of the Quillette/IDW industrial complex."

She co-wrote the Quillette article with someone named Jay Tanzman. Tanzman is identified merely as "a freelance statistician." There is a Jay Tanzman mentioned in a few academic journals where the name is connected to "Tanzman Statistical Consulting, Los Angeles, California, United States of America" but a search for "Tanzman Statistical Consulting" shows no results for that company name.

Krylov reiterates her moral - or perhaps mental - incoherence in this new article (my highlight):
My own home town of Yuzovka, I noted, was called Trotsk (after Leon Trotsky), then renamed Stalino after Trotsky was purged, then Donetsk when Stalin was posthumously canceled by Khrushchev. Survey the stream of recent renamings of awards, buildings, and even laws of physics, and modern parallels aren’t hard to find. The intrusion of newspeak into science and education is truly Orwellian.
So her hometown started out as Yuzovka - which was named after a Welsh businessman named John Hughes. (Don't ask me how they got Yuzovka out of Hughes.) Then the town was renamed after Trotsky, then renamed after Stalin. Once again we see her say that Stalin was 'canceled.' Is that supposed to be a bad thing? She appears to be making a point in complete opposition to her belief that cancel culture is the great Satan.

Nowadays the town is called Donetsk - named after a river. I think we should all thank "cancel culture" for that.

I had to laugh at this section of her Quillette article:

I expected to be viciously mobbed, and possibly cancelled, like others before me. Yet the result surprised me. Although some did try to cancel me, I received a flood of encouraging emails from others who share my concern with the process by which radical political doctrines are being injected into STEM pedagogy, and by which objective science is being subjugated to regressive moralization and censorship. The high ratio of positive-to-negative comments (even on Twitter!) gave me hope that the silent liberal majority within STEM may (eventually) prevail over the forces of illiberalism.

Now of course she provides no evidence that anybody tried to "cancel" her. And we don't know what she means by the word "cancel" - in her lexicon it could mean anything from having your name removed from something to being burnt at the stake.

But clearly she drank the crazy Quillette Kool-aid before publishing the first piece.

The link on the word "others" in the cited paragraph is to a piece by reactionary academic Lee Jussim, whose entire career appears to involve repeating "stereotypes are real" over and over again. In the piece she links to, Jussim moans about, among other "cancellations," racist Bo Winegard failing to have his contract renewed at a college. Winegard holds such extreme views that he advocates for national ethnic quotas which sounds straight out of the Nazi playbook.

In her Quillette piece Krylov warns us, all evidence to the contrary, that there is a nefarious mob out there. How nefarious?

Their efforts are directed, often single-mindedly, at enforcing contortions of language and ideology within their own rarified institutions, forming task forces to rename equations, invent microaggressions, police language, rename moths and ants, and repackage soap. And they are completely vicious in the use of mob tactics to intimidate or cancel those who dare object to their extreme strictures. Again, the parallels with the USSR of my youth are rather obvious.

That's right - renaming things and repackaging soap are the equivalent, in Anna Krylov's mind, of the USSR. This position would be rational if the worst thing the Soviet Union ever did was rename things.

I think this might be the last time I write about Krylov. I am beginning to feel more pity for her than anything else, in her public displays of irrationality and fear-mongering. Writing an incoherent mess for a racist rag like Quillette is a complete embarrassment, especially for someone who had a reputable STEM career. 

When her career ends, I expect she'll claim she was cancelled, but I doubt the reason will have anything to do with her politics.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

This excellent Quillette logo

I first saw this image on Twitter a few months ago, but recently I decided to find out who created it.

Incorporating literal calipers into the Quillette logo is perfection. Quillette is the leading promoter of race pseudoscience (outside of the proudly racist American Renaissance, which likes to repost Quillette articles) which is based on 18th century racial beliefs. Quillette even ran a pro-phrenology article.

I've had this tweet up for 24 hours now, and although it's gotten a fair amount of attention, nobody has come forward. 

Recently a right-winger on Twitter claimed the Intellectual Dark Web is not right-wing. I set them straight though. It seems unlikely that a group of people associated with the publication Quillette would be anything but right-wing.

Quillette founder Claire Lehmann once threatened an op-ed writer with a defamation lawsuit for saying that Quillette is "a conservative website which has been happy to publish authors known for promoting theories of white supremacy."

In spite of that being the writer's opinion, it is also, on examination, an accurate description of Quillette.

Steven Pinker and Quillette have a mutual admiration society. For obvious reasons. 

I had to laugh at this recent tweet from Pinker about Claire Lehmann:

The reason this is such a big deal, for Lehmann to diverge from the right on this one issue, is because the vast majority of Quillette supporters are right-wingers.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Pinker: the left is "out to lunch" to attribute crime to poverty and racism

During a mercifully brief interview with Graham Lawton of New Scientist, Steven Pinker, the world's most annoying man, compared the belief that crime is caused by poverty and racism to climate change denial.
...scientists are often surprised that there is so much denial... and it is sometimes attributed to scientific uh ignorance or scientific illiteracy... as it turns out itself a uh less than rational belief because it's not based on empirical studies of why people deny climate change... and what those studies show is that the deniers are actually no more ignorant of science than the believers, in fact a lot of people who endorse the scientific consensus are really uh out to lunch when it comes to the science of climate change, they think it has something to do with the ozone hole and toxic waste dumps plastic straws in the ocean. 

What does predict people's belief in climate change is just their politics the farther you are to the right the more denial there is.

Now that's a case in which the scientifically respectable conclusion is aligned with the left but there are also cases that go the other way, where it's the the uh the left that's out of touch with the scientific facts. 
The left was uh completely out to lunch when it came to... the um causes of crime, badly badly wrong when it uh - it still does... when it attributes crime to um poverty and racism...

But since the media almost always treats Pinker's utterances as unquestionable pearls of scientific wisdom, Lawton did not ask Pinker what he thinks is the true cause of crime.

I looked around for other instances of Pinker discussing crime, and found a Pinker interview from May with his fellow Quillette author Coleman Hughes. While Hughes is a Black American, he is also an apologist for race pseudoscience and a Koch employee, via the Koch-funded City Journal, and I wondered if Pinker was going to go all-in on a race pseudoscience explanation for crime.

Instead what I found was Pinker said something different about racism and crime:


...But I want to ask now a deep and basic question relating to human nature and a kind of fundamental disagreement on what human nature is and how that relates to violence. And and the question, which is deceptively simple, is: "What is the cause of crime? What causes people to commit crime? Does the question make sense? If so, why or why not?" And just how do you view that--because and the context is, most people I talk to about this issue take it for granted that crime is, you know, we know the causes of crime--poverty, inequality, systemic bias, hopelessness, despair. And I have no doubt that that is true in some cases, but I - I - I've been persuaded by by by many arguments that sort of hold that human nature can can kind of just tend towards this to begin with. 

So, where do you stand on that? And how do you, how do you think of that? 


Yeah, there are ah, there different kinds of crime and there are different people who commit them out of different motives. Generally, it's certainly true that a lot of crime occurs in poor neighborhoods. And poor people are more likely to commit violent crime. It's not true, necessarily true of violence in general, especially through history when it used to be the aristocrats that had their armed retinues and would engage in contests of honor and revenge, dueling men men of honor as in the opening scene of Romeo and Juliet when two aristocratic families have a a street fight. 

So it's, that's not a given, but it tends to be true now. In general it's--although there are many causes of crime--they're not all racism and inequality, the ah especially not when it comes to changes over time.

So apparently Pinker does think that racism and poverty are causes of crime, just not the only ones. 

It would appear that in May 2021, Steven Pinker did not believe "leftists" were incorrect to the point of climate-change-denial-incorrectness. But in December 2021 he did.

Did Steven Pinker change his mind between the May and December? Or is this yet one more example of weak and strong pinkerism

Did Pinker change his response based on his audience, the way Pinker's buddy Razib Khan did on the issue of "white supremacy"?

Pinker's interview with Hughes demonstrates Pinker's utter obtuseness - it must be based on his own political leanings - when it comes to data:
...The great American crime decline, which began in 1992, which saw rates of violent crime plunge to half their levels in you know, in New York it plunged 75 percent. This was during a period of rising inequality. And even though there've been there was a slight deep systemic decrease in racism--not enough to have brought crime rates down that quickly, 50 percent in eight years...

We saw in "Better Angels" that Pinker attributed Black American high crime rates to low Black marriage rates. In spite of the data showing the opposite - marriage rates fell along with crime rates.

Pinker doesn't say what metric he is using to determine "inequality" here. But we do have one useful metric, which involves looking at data, so maybe that explains why Pinker missed it: 

And Black unemployment rates, while historically higher than white unemployment, also fell at the same time.

Seriously, what is wrong with Steven Pinker? Is he incapable of the tiniest effort to find data?

I'm not the first to be baffled by Steven Pinker. Way back nineteen years now, Louis Menand wrote the perfect Pinker review and said:

...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...

The paragraph captures the "having it both ways" phenomenon seen repeatedly in Pinker's public opinions.

In the Hughes interview, right after Pinker claimed, without evidence, that inequality rose after 1992, he said this:

And even though there've been there was a slight deep systemic decrease in racism--not enough to have brought crime rates down that quickly, 50 percent in eight years--a lot of crime is opportunistic. People, there's a strong correlation between people who commit crime and lack of self-control.

Now "self-control" is a favorite subject of the biosocial criminologists, and they believe Black people possess less of it. As the reliably blunt rightwing biosocial criminologist John Paul Wright wrote:
While self-control is an important executive function, so, too, is intelligence. Indeed, there is no other individual variable as studied as intelligence. While hotly debated, thousands of studies of millions of individual intelligence scores indicate that IQ follows traditional racial categories (Rushton & Jenson, 2005). Asians have an average IQ of 106, Caucasians 100, and Blacks 85 (Lynn, 2006; Sarich & Miele, 2004)…

...Self-control and IQ covary, so that individuals with low self-control are also more likely to have low IQ. These deficits are potent enough to predict many of the negative life-course factors that afflicted individuals will experience. Longitudinal analyses of cohorts of individuals demonstrate that these individuals will face multiple problems across their life- course and that their self-limiting choices will show a high degree of continuity. Most will fail at their education and will then encounter problems in employment… They likely will live a fluid existence, relocating from place to place but often within the same economic stratum (Wright & decker, 1997). Finally their relationships will frequently be marred by conflict, unfaithfulness and unreliability. This pattern holds for anyone with deficits in executive control functions, black, white or Asian, but due to the distribution of low IQ and low self- control found in black populations, it is more often reflected in the lives of blacks.


Those passages were published in "Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research" edited by Anthony Walsh and Kevin Beaver.

I was aware that Steven Pinker promoted Brian Boutwell, a biosocial criminologist, but I wasn't aware how connected Pinker was to biosocial criminology until recently. I will be discussing that soon.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Has Peter Thiel funded Quillette?

Byline Times has an interesting article on Trump-supporter Peter Thiel's international right-wing connections, entitled PETER THIEL’S Free Speech for Race Science Crusade at Cambridge University REVEALED.

The article revealed a fascinating tidbit that I hadn't known: Claire Lehmann sits on the advisory board of Toby Young's "Free Speech Union." 

But the biggest bombshell was the article's mention of a recently-published book, The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power by Max Chafkin, which claims that Thiel secretly funded Quillette.

Lehmann denies it:
Quillette founder Claire Lehmann has completely and unequivocally denied recent claims published in a new biography of the billionaire, The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power, by Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Max Chafkin that “Thiel was secretly funding” Quillette around 2016.

Lehmann told Byline Times that Chafkin’s account is “wrong on multiple levels” and based on the claims of “a notorious internet troll and fraudster”. Peter Thiel’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

However, the social connections of key Quillette contributors to the “Thiel network” around Cambridge University points to an alignment of interests and ideology illuminating the extent to which several Quillette writers and editors operate within Peter Thiel’s sphere of influence. 
But I'd believe almost anybody before I'd believe Claire Lehmann, up to and including a "notorious internet troll and fraudster."

I don't like The Baffler, but they get credit for mentioning the issue when the Chafkin book was first published, in September:

Bankrolling Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker is only the tip of the iceberg: one source told Chafkin that Thiel had secretly funded Quillette (Claire Lehmann, the publication’s founder, has said that Thiel’s start-up manual Zero to One, coauthored with Blake Masters, inspired her to create the magazine); he also funds a journal that questions the scientific consensus on evolution and climate change.

I'm kicking myself for missing this Thiel-Quillette claim for three months.

I've been wondering about Quillette's funding sources for years now. It was already obvious there was some connection between Thiel and the Intellectual Dark Web because crackpot Eric Weinstein works for Thiel, but I never found any information proving a direct funding connection.

Peter Thiel funding Quillette does seem inevitable and it would especially make sense because Quillette has been such a big supporter of right-wing grifter and Trump-aligned ratfucker Andy Ngo.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The problem with "heritability"

I've been thinking about this for several months now, about what to do with this word, "heritability."

The problem is that it is often used in reference to genetics, but it can either mean "something caused by genetics" or "something not caused by genetics."

For example:

Today, researchers rely on genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to find the genetic variants that are relevant to a specific trait. In GWAS the genomes of individuals are analyzed to see if particular genetic variants are correlated with variation in traits of interest. GWAS results have identified hundreds of variants underlying phenotypic variation in humans, mice, fruit flies, rice, maize, and many other taxa. Yet, despite the large number of alleles that have been identified using this technique, the amount of phenotypic variation they explain is just a fraction of what twin and pedigree studies predict is heritable. For example, twin studies have shown that approximately 80% of variation in human height can be explained by genetic factors (Silventoinen et al., 2012). However, the results of the best powered GWAS only explain around 20% of such variation (Wood et al., 2014). This gap is known as the ‘missing heritability problem’.

The "missing heritability problem" is pretty clearly a problem with predictions about genetics - far less evidence has been found, than was anticipated, for specific genes influencing specific human traits.

And yet, for example, educational attainment is also said to be an "heritable" trait :

SNP heritability increased with socioeconomic deprivation for fluid intelligence, educational attainment, and years of education. Polygenic scores were also found to interact with socioeconomic deprivation, where the effects of the scores increased with increasing deprivation for all traits.

"Years of education" is a social phenomenon, not a genetic one. But it is still called "hereditable."

To give one extreme example: in American chattel slavery, not only were slaves rarely taught to read, they were often actively prevented from learning to read. So illiteracy could be said to be highly "heritable" in American slaves - the children of slaves were about as likely to be illiterate as their parents. But obviously this has nothing to do with a genetic ability to learn how to read.

The way heritable is used, it sounds like it describes an action - as if "heritable" educational attainment is the act of passing down educational attainment from one generation to the next. 

Instead "heritable" is the observation that nothing has changed from one generation to the next. "Heritable" is nothing more than a statistical description of stasis.

Apparently Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt (a Koch money beneficiary via Heterodox Academy) both believe the term "heritability" means "genetic."

But hereditarians would want to believe "heritability" means "genetic" because their answer to everything is "genes."

I have long joked that the "nature assumption" is so strong among promoters of sociobiology that this is how they do their studies:

Step one: observe a human behavior

Step two: declare the cause "genetics"

Step three: write a paper declaring the victory of nature over nurture

The term "nature assumption" is a nod to that darling of biosocial criminology,  Judith Rich Harris, who wrote "The Nuture Assumption" and who, I recently discovered, was hugely influenced by Steven Pinker, which I will discuss in a future post.

Recently hereditarians were taking yet another premature victory lap for nature over nurture, this time based on claims by "behavioral geneticist" Kathryn Paige Harden. Those claims were immediately assumed to be a victory for race pseudoscience by people like Quillette author Nathan Cofnas:

The fecklessness of sociobiologists was what annoyed Tom Scocca so much in his response to the New Yorker article about Harden written by Gideon Lewis-Kraus:

Here's how Lewis-Kraus described Harden's own account of the tool she uses to address the most loaded social questions of our time:
GWAS simply provides a picture of how genes are correlated with success, or mental health, or criminality, for particular populations in a particular society at a particular time.....GWAS results are not "portable"; a study conducted on white Britons tells you little about people in Estonia or Nigeria.
That is, the genome makes people unequal, but it does so by an unclear mechanism, the effects of which are contingent on a person's social position in a particular time and place. Yet the reader was supposed to share Harden's regret or bafflement that Darity, a scholar of the material processes of racial inequality, would be hostile to her work.

In other words, Harden absolutely does not have evidence for the claim that correlations between some social conditions and some GWAS results are caused by genes, but nevertheless she goes ahead and makes that claim.

And not only makes the claim - she compares those who have doubts about her claim with bank robbers. But being a drama queen seems to be a pretty common trait, over the years, among promoters of sociobiology and its many sub-categories: evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, race science, etc. Is "drama queen" an heritable trait for sociobiologists?