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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

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The racist manifesto: Black people are not part of American heritage and history


Pedro L. Gonzalez is an embarrassment to any organization except Chronicles, the right-wing extremist magazine that employs him and also employs infamous racist Taki Theodoracopulos of Taki's Mag.

Here we see Gonzalez making an even bigger name for himself in racist circles by claiming that a Black American flautist playing James Madison's crystal flute is "about humiliating white people, about desecrating American history and heritage."

Gonzalez reminds us that no matter how far back Black American roots go in the history of America, he - like all filthy stinking disgusting racists - will never consider Black Americans part of American history and heritage.

Also note-worthy, his bonkers suggestion that "white people" have been "conquered." Unless by "conquered" he means "no longer permitted to own slaves."

And considering that Gonzalez is a fan of the Confederacy, that is mostly likely what he does mean.

Sweet Jesus, Pedro L. Gonzalez is a cross-burning level flaming racist.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Andrew Sullivan, still promoting racist pseudoscience

Andrew Sullivan is well-known for promoting the racist nonsense of Charles Murray's The Bell Curve.

More recently, when confronted by a New York Times reporter, Sullivan stepped back just a tiny bit from race pseudoscience.

I tried out my most charitable interpretation of his view on race and I.Q. (though I question the underpinnings of the whole intellectual project): that he is most frustrated by the notion that you can’t talk about the influence of biology and genetics on humanity. But that he’s not actually saying he thinks Black people as a group are less intelligent. He’d be equally open to the view, I suggested, that data exploring genetics and its connection to intelligence would find that Black people are on average smarter than other groups.

“It could be, although the evidence is not trending in that direction as far as I pay attention to it. But I don’t much,” he said. (He later told me he’s “open-minded” on the issue and thinks it’s “premature” to weigh the data.)

“I barely write about this,” he went on. “It’s not something I’m obsessed with.”

But he also can’t quite stop himself, even as I sat there wishing he would. “Let’s say Jews. I mean, just look at the Nobel Prize. I’m just saying — there’s something there, I think. And I’m not sure what it is, but I’m just not prepared to accept the whole thing is over.”

It was obvious that Sullivan was still committed to race essentialism and pseudoscience by his mentioning Jews and the Nobel Prize - he's referencing the Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence hypothesis, created by racists, with the goal, I believe, of inventing a "scientific" justification for a long-standing racist belief about Jews

In the past week, Sullivan not only recommitted himself to race pseudoscience, he did it via an even less-reputable individual, Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, best known as being described by comedian Stewart Lee as "weird far-right paedophilia apologist called Emil."

Emil Kirkegaard has such a bad reputation that even Abdel Abdellaoui refused to participate in a conference unless Emil O. W. Kirkegaard was disinvited from the Racist Roundup.

I think it's likely that Abdellaoui is just as committed to sociobiological (hereditarian) explanations of human hierarchies, given that he is an ally of anti-Black racist Razib Khan, as Kirkegaard. I think the issue is about status - Kirkegaard doesn't have the academic credentials that most people associated with the International Society for Intelligence Research, aka "the Racist Roundup" have.


However, I doubt this indicates that Sullivan is no longer a believer in race pseudoscience.

Then Kirkegaard jumped on the thread to defend white supremacy.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Stewart Lee triggers Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais posted the section of his recent stand-up where he portrays transgender people as rapists dressed as women lurking in ladies rooms. 

There has been much speculation as to why Gervais decided to brag about his success with bigots this week, and the general consensus is that he was triggered by Stewart Lee, in this recent interview.

Fans also noticed the five-time Golden Globe host liked a string of tweets, with one describing Stewart as having ‘never been relevant or funny.’

I’m joking of course! But should anything be off-limits for humour, especially during the horror of The Corona Virus (Wuhan Bat and Pangolin Snack ™ ® Co Ltd)? It’s a question answered by Ricky Gervais himself in a syndicated Press Association interview provided free to the Aberdeen Evening Express, and newspapers nationwide, in March. The “Wokefinder General” (Sarah Vine, Daily Mail) concluded: “There is no better tool to get you through bad things… than with a sense of humour.” I am sure this was a sentiment shared privately by his cast every day during the filming of After Life (Netflix).

And James Alcaster has to my knowledge gone after Gervais most directly for his transgender bigotry.

I've mentioned Lee on this blog before clashing with members of the Intellectual Dark Web - racists Toby Young and Emil O W Kirkegaard.

The best thing about Stewart Lee triggering Ricky Gervais is that more people have discovered who Stewart Lee is.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Who funds Quillette?

Quillette's about page says this:

How is Quillette funded?
Quillette's revenue comes from our readers. We are a grassroots organisation that relies on voluntary subscriptions and community membership as our primary revenue stream.

You could say that wealthy plutocrats are also readers of Quillette, and so the first sentence could be technically the truth. 

Elsewhere on the page, Quillette claims to be "politically non-partisan" but phony bipartisanship is a favorite right-wing tactic, especially from Charles Koch. And I would bet good money Koch is a funder of Quillette. And even if not, many people who have written for Quillette have also been paid by Koch for other things:
  • Andrew Doyle
  • Coleman Hughes
  • Razib Khan
  • Charles Murray
  • Naomi Schaefer Riley
  • Steven Pinker
  • Cathy Young
And more. You can check out the database of Quillette authors here, current as of November 2021. I will have to update it soon.

And two right-wing plutocrats have been identified in the media as Quillette funders: Mark Carnegie and Peter Thiel.

...Australian investment banker and venture capitalist Mark Carnegie is also a supporter and has poured money into a funding round scheduled to end this week. 
"[The backers] see that my long-term project has some merit and value and they want to support it," Ms Lehmann said. "It’s not exactly philanthropy, but no one who is investing is expecting to make a huge sum of money in the next 12 or 24 months."

Carnegie, a proponent of independent publishing, was a donor before becoming an investor this year and organised to meet Ms Lehmann after reading a series of Quillette articles and discovering the founder was Australian.
Lehman admits there are multiple "backers" of Quillette. I doubt Quillette decided to stop taking right-wing plutocrat money, or that the right-wing plutocrats stopped offering. 

Mark Carnegie is Principal at M.H.Carnegie & Co. and Founder of MHC Digital Finance. His Twitter timeline reveals he's a Bitcoin Bro with a fondness for the usual IDW/Quillette gang and Noah Smith, which probably indicates Smith has gone ever further right than when I last checked and found him supporting the career of Razib Khan. Carnegie has many opinions about American politics and apparently hates all Democrats and government regulations, especially concerning finance.

The other media-identified Quillette funder, Peter Thiel, is much better-known than Carnegie.

(Charles) Johnson also used his crowdfunding company, WeSearchr, to finance a campaign to uncover evidence that (Gawker Media founder Nick) Denton, had committed a crime so that he could be sent to prison. The WeSearchr page, which included an illustration of Denton in stripes and behind bars, raised $50,000, much of it contributed by Johnson himself. Because few people outside of the shadowy world of far-right politics knew of Thiel's patronage of the alt-right, the press mistook it as a grassroots uprising. The journal Quillette - an outlet that Thiel was secretly funding, according to Johnson - used the trending hashtag (#ThankYouPeter) as proof that "ordinary readers" were on Thiel's side, effectively making Johnson's campaign look organic. 
It would be great to discover when and how much and who else is funding Quillette outside of the "grassroots" that Quillette claims. I don't know Australian law, but since Quillette is Quillette Pty Ltd, a privately-held company according to the Quillette About page, I don't think it's possible to audit Quillette's funding. 

Notice that one sentence from The Contrarian:
Because few people outside of the shadowy world of far-right politics knew of Thiel's patronage of the alt-right, the press mistook it as a grassroots uprising.
That's because the press is stupid, lazy and gullible. Imagine how much more we would know about what right-wing racist plutocrats are up to, if it wasn't.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Who else is promoting racist neo-Nazi Bo Winegard? Carole Hooven of the Harvard Department of Human Evolutionary Biology

Steven Pinker, one of the biggest promoters of race pseudoscience is at Harvard. So it shouldn't be a surprise that there are other promoters of such garbage at Harvard.

Yesterday I noted former Harvard president Lawrence Summers promoting professional racist Bo Winegard. But although Summers has had quite a career, constantly falling upwards (what were you thinking Obama?) he's long been known as a bigot who justifies his bigotry through laughably weak evolutionary psychology

And although this is beside the point, I was reading not long ago what an enormous slob Summers is. It's only interesting because I seriously doubt a woman could be such a slob as that and have the professional career Summers has had. Am I right Janet Yellen?

But now I find Carole Hooven, of Harvard's Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, also promoting racist Bo Winegard, and she thanks him for his work - his work for Quillette, the Peter Thiel funded right-wing racist online magazine, so racist that American Renaissance likes to excerpt its articles on race.

Racists like Razib Khan and Andrew Sullivan claim there is no longer systemic racism, but that is easily disproved when you consider the network of right-wing racist plutocrats who provide funding for racists, from Ron Unz granting hundreds of thousands to Steve Sailer, Razib Khan and Gregory Cochran, to Thiel funding Quillette to the Koch and Mercer funding vehicle DonorsTrust which gives millions to white supremacist organizations VDARE and American Renaissance

But of course it's not enough to have extremist media pushing anti-Black racism, you need people like former Harvard president Lawrence Summers and current Harvard employees Steven Pinker and Carole Hooven to help mainstream absurd racist pseudoscience beliefs.

Although Pinker is no longer seen promoting Bo Winegard - probably because, like Steve Sailer, Winegard's racism became too blatant even for Pinker, he certainly has in the past. 

Because of course he has.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Lawrence Summers retweeting racist neo-Nazi Bo Winegard

It's been known for a long time that the Peter Thiel-funded Quillette is a right-wing racist garbage rag

So of course we see former secretary of the treasury Lawrence H. Summers retweeting an article from Quillette.

But not just any article, it is an article written by one of the most blatant racists in the Quillette stable and that is saying a lot.

It's authored by Bo Winegard, who was seen not too long ago advocating for country-level racial quotas, a scheme the Nazis famously executed. 

I've mentioned Winegard's racism many many times on this blog.

So from what I can tell, racist Steve Sailer influenced Pinker and then Pinker influenced Summers.

But I wasn't aware until now that in addition to being comfortable with misogyny, Summers is also comfortable with racism. But there it is. This is the guy he retweets:

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Friday, August 12, 2022

The nonprofit racists club: the International Society for Intelligence Research

The full-time professional racist club is not 
a good club to be in - and notice that Khan
is feeling sorry for himself claiming people lie about him.
Without providing any evidence, of course.

I really should have been paying more attention to the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR), seeing as how it is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading race pseudoscience.

Much more solid than the relatively amorphous Intellectual Dark Web.

In my defense, tracking the Intellectual Dark Web has been taking up a lot of my time, on top of my day job.

But my neglect of ISIR was remedied today. I saw some tweets go by about someone I had never heard of before, Emily Willoughby, and I really didn't pay attention. Until I saw psychologist Erik Turkheimer defending her.

Not suspecting anything worse, silly trusting me, I began with the assumption that Willoughby was just a typical clueless dummy who incorrectly believes that "heritability" is a measure of genetic causation. Something that both Turkheimer and the paper The Heritability Fallacy have explicitly argued against.

But Willoughby, it turns out, is very much devoted to the cause of promoting race pseudoscience, as I eventually realized.

I am really starting to have doubts about Erik Turkheimer. He always seems to end up defending hereditarians.

And what is wrong with "behavioral genetics" that people like Turkheimer believe that heritability is not a measure of genetic causation, while so many others believe it is a measure of that very thing. As Jonathan Haidt demonstrates in this image.

Nobody in the field ever seems to address what should be a major issue: they can't agree on the meaning of one of their most important terms. One more reason to think that "behavioral genetics" is just another recurrence of socio-biology, with a thin veneer of gene statistics to make it look legitimate.

So Willoughby, it turns out, is not only a long-term enthusiastic admirer of some of the most racist ghouls in the race pseudoscience universe, like Gregory Cochran, HBD Chick, Charles Murray and Linda Gottfredson, but she is on the board of directors of the International Society for Intelligence Research.

The mainstream media, as usual, ignores this shockingly racist organization in spite of its annual conferences featuring hardcore racists. But fortunately The New Statesman did publish an article about them, in 2018:

After we exposed his involvement with eugenicists, Toby Young pointed out that the conference at which he actually spoke, that of the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR), was “super-respectable” and attended by “numerous world-renowned academics”.

He is entirely correct. The ISIR is home to many great scientists, and its journal Intelligence is one of the most respected in its field. Yet Richard Lynn, who has called for the “phasing out” of the “populations of incompetent cultures”, serves on the editorial board of Intelligence, along with fellow director of the Pioneer Fund Gerhard Meisenberg, who edits Lynn’s journal Mankind Quarterly. Two other board members are Heiner Rindermann and Jan te Nijenhuis, frequent contributors to Mankind Quarterly and the London Conference on Intelligence. Rindermann, James Thompson, Michael Woodley of Menie and Aurelio Figueredo, all heavily implicated in the London Conference on Intelligence, helped to organise recent ISIR conferences. Linda Gottfredson, a Pioneer Fund grantee and former president of the ISIR, famously authored a letter in the Wall Street Journal defending Charles Murray’s assertion that black people are genetically disposed to an average IQ of “around 85”, compared to 100 for whites.

The tolerance afforded to eugenicists threatens the reputation of respectable scientists. Stephen Pinker, the world-renowned cognitive psychologist, spoke at last year’s ISIR conference. Another speaker at the conference, however, was the aforementioned Emil Kirkegaard, a “self-taught” eugenicist who has written a “thought experiment” which discusses whether raping a drugged child could be defended, and whose research into OKCupid made international headlines for its “grossly unprofessional, unethical and reprehensible” use of personal data.
Ah yes, Steven Pinker. Of course. At the racist roundup. If there is a pack of racists, chances are very good that Steven Pinker will be somewhere nearby. And he still can't stop promoting the career of anti-Black racist Razib Khan.

OK these people are sickening and I have French homework. More soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Trump must be beaten down

Dictator appeaser Damon Linker, who works for the libertarian (founded by Cato members!) think tank Niskanen center (racist Razib Khan's buddy Matthew Yglesias works for them) argues that we shouldn't hold Trump accountable because we'll make the filthy MAGA cult angry.

It's funny, isn't it, that you never see pundits warning MAGAs to tone it down.

You're never going to see an article in the NYTimes or the Washington Post or sponsored by any think tank that says something like: "hey guys, half the country thinks that you and Trump are an existential threat to American democracy - and by extension, the entire world, so maybe you should tone down the rhetoric a little or even maybe rethink your trajectory."

Of course not. 

Because while few mainstream media pundits will come right out and say so, they know that MAGAs can not be reasoned with. They are stupid and evil and resolutely stubborn in their insistence on remaining stupid and evil. Just like any German supporter of Adolf Hitler was.

Linker claims that "half" the country thinks Trump should not be subject to the rule of law, but doesn't back this claim with statistics. The only statistic his article provides is to demonstrate that Trump is more popular with hardcore Republicans ("...the results of the straw poll at last weekend’s CPAC conference, which the former president won with 69 percent") than before.

Since one of Linker's jobs is working at a think tank, he surely must be capable of performing basic research - or asking a Niskanen flunky to do it for him - his exaggeration about "half the country" must be deliberate. 

Half of Americans (50%) think former President Donald Trump should be charged with crimes based on the evidence presented at the House January 6th hearings,

Let alone not think Trump is above the law. And that's half of all Americans, not 69 percent of the hardest hard-core Democrats.

And because 50% of Americans don't think Trump should be charged doesn't mean they actively think he shouldn't be. Many people don't pay attention to anything outside their own tiny lives and so haven't given it much thought. Just like Nixon was popular well into Watergate because so many people - especially Republicans - are ignoramuses:

(Nixon's) support among his allies (who had included some conservative southern Democrats as well as Republicans) had already started to erode significantly, but it was the “smoking gun” tape that finally forced his resignation on August 8, before the House could vote on impeachment. At that point, the public was clearly behind impeachment, although a significant minority of Americans — including most Republicans — still didn’t think Nixon should be removed from office.

But back to our inability to reason with MAGAs. Since you can't get through to MAGAs with reason, what would get through to MAGAs?

The only thing they respect. Power.

Although we didn't have a straw poll to find out, it seems plausible that many Germans supported Hitler right up until the end. Right until he was beaten down. Where were all the Nazi-sympathizers after Hitler was done? Suddenly very scarce.

And that is why Trump must be beaten down. Using every legal means, he must be beaten down. Constantly. Without ceasing. UNTIL HE IS DONE.

Only then will we be free of both him and his filthy treasonous, dictator-loving cult.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

James Lindsay, banned from Twitter for being a neo-Nazi

A tweet by James Lindsay,
darling of the Intellectual Dark Web
and a neo-Nazi

Anybody could see that James Lindsay was a right-wing extremist kook.

I first mentioned his extremism back in 2019. I mentioned him a few times since then, the most prominent was when he came for me, which gave a nice little boost to this blog, and a good chance to talk about his insane "your mom" hypocrisy.

(His partner in grift, Peter Boghossian, also came for me.)

So I'm not surprised Lindsay rode the right-wing extremist grifter gravy train to its logical conclusion: anti-Semitism, as reported in The Daily Beast

Finally, Twitter gave him the boot for hateful conduct.

But this blog could not call itself Pinkerite with any self-respect without spending a moment to mention how much Steven Pinker loved and supported James Lindsay. Along with Andrew Sullivan and Jerry Coyne.

Ending, one hopes, at least by the time Lindsay went full neo-Nazi.

Pinker praising Lindsay's book Cynical Theories.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Steve & Gregory & Henry & Steven: how racist Steve Sailer birthed "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" paper that Steven Pinker loves so much

The far-right, race pseudoscience-promoting,
Thiel-funded trash-rag Quillette likes to
use Steven Pinker in its promotional materials -
presumably with his enthusiastic permission

Quillette is at it again, promoting race pseudoscience

(The link goes to the Wayback Machine snapshot of the article, not to Quillette itself.)

And given how much Steven Pinker loves Quillette, and vice-versa, it was appropriate that Pinker got a shout-out in the article, in reference to his promotion of the paper "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence":

Although they comprise only about 0.2 percent of the world’s population, the Jewish people account for a large portion of its top achievers in domains of intellectual success. For example, they have won between a fifth and a quarter of the world’s Nobel prizes, and comprise over half of its chess champions. Ashkenazi Jews are particularly noted for their high achievement, including their high average performance on IQ tests. In his textbook IQ and Human Intelligence (Oxford University Press, 2011), Nicholas Mackintosh gives the following summary:

[I]t has long been known that Ashkenazi Jews have an unusually high average IQ (see Chapter 1); some of them also have the misfortune to suffer from a number of diseases, such as Tay Sachs disease, caused by the possession of two copies of particular recessive genes. One suggestion is that the two are linked: while homozygotes with two copies of the genes develop the disease, heterozygotes with only one copy develop higher than usual intelligence (Cochran et al., 2006). (Mackintosh 2011, p. 285)

Aside from its scientific importance, this topic of research is also an important part of the rebuttal to antisemitic explanations for Jewish achievements. In 2006, Steven Pinker wrote in the New Republic that “Jewish achievement is obvious; only the explanation is unclear. The idea of innate Jewish intelligence is certainly an improvement over the infamous alternative generalization, a worldwide Jewish conspiracy.”

I've written many times of Pinker's support for the NHAI paper.

The paper, which is an untested hypothesis, debunked by, among others, anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson and geneticist Adam Rutherford, was written by Gregory Cochran, a one-time recipient of over half a million dollars from Holocaust-denying kook Ron Unz, and who has written for Quillette and the racist Taki's Magazine; and Henry Harpending, who has his own white nationalist profile at the Southern Poverty Law Center site

But that's not all. I've written about this before but it doesn't hurt to underline it - the "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" paper so beloved by Quillette's favorite public intellectual, Steven Pinker, was not only written by a couple of racists, it was facilitated by professional racist Steve Sailer.

2012 was the year Steven Pinker abruptly stopped mentioning Sailer in public, after spending years promoting Sailer's career (that promotion was resolutely ignored by the media until very recently.)

In 2012 Sailer made this claim in proudly racist VDARE: (The link goes to the Wayback Machine snapshot of the article, not to VDARE itself.)

On a rather less epochal note, the publication of The 10,000 Year Explosion marks the tenth anniversary of my invitation-only Human Biodiversity email group, which I started in 1999.

And that's where Greg and Henry got to know each other! Peter Brimelow
[note: founder of VDARE] recently called to my attention that the inscription on the Westminster Abbey tomb of concert impresario J.P. Salomon reads, "He brought Haydn to England …" Perhaps my gravestone will read, "He introduced Cochran to Harpending."

If anybody doubts the United States is in the grip of systemic racism, mention this fact to them.

Considering how many racists were involved in the creation of "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" - and considering how much race pseudoscience promoters like Quillette and Steven Pinker love the paper, it looks to me like the whole project was simply an attempt by racists to give "scientific" credence to an old racist trope, expressed 60+ years ago by infamous segregationist Henry E. Garrett, writing in infamously racist Mankind Quarterly, funded by the infamously racist Pioneer Fund.

The article by Garrett is entitled "The Equalitarian Dogma." This term, "Equalitarian," used by  segregationists against their critics, is sometimes revived by Quillette-associated race pseudoscience promoters like Bo and Ben Winegard and Michael Shermer who are certainly aware of the term's use by segregationists. I assume the segregationist connection is precisely why they use the term.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Buh-bye trolly Elon Musk

So it looks like the whole Elon Musk takeover of Twitter is no more. Hoorah.

Elon Musk is a trollish, toxic individual and appears to be an ally of the Intellectual Dark Web with all its race pseudoscience promotion and transphobia

Quillette of course was a big booster for a Musk-controlled Twitter.

So it was a great relief to discover the deal has fallen apart.

This Week in Google provides an interesting discussion of the situation.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The latest example of Steven Pinker supporting the career of race pseudoscience promoter Razib Khan

Razib Khan is pretty well-known at this point for his anti-Black racism, and his long history of supporting the racist pseudoscience of J. P. Rushton and Charles Murray. This doesn't seem to bother Pinker at all.

It's curious - Pinker stopped mentioning Steve Sailer by 2012, after being a strong supporter of his for several years, but his support for Khan, whose views on race appear to be indistinguishable from Sailer's, continues. Why is that?

Now that the media has finally gotten around to asking Pinker about his support for the career of Steve Sailer, maybe it will ask him about his support for Razib Khan.

Pinker's interest in Ashkenazi genetics is probably related to his support for the wildly speculative and never-tested hypothesis laid out in the paper "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" written by two friends of Steve Sailer, the white nationalist Henry Harpending and the cranky race pseudoscience promoter - and beneficiary of Ron Unz money - Gregory Cochran. Razib Khan also received Unz money

Friday, July 1, 2022

The endless hypocrisy of Steven Pinker: infinity & beyond!

In this second part of the infinite series on the endless hypocrisy of Steven Pinker, we look at Pinker and Koch-funded, Koch-defendingFederalist Society contributor Harvey Silverglate, singing the praises of Carl Sagan.

Where? Why of course in the right-wing, race pseudoscience-promoting, Peter Thiel-funded Quillette

(I linked to the Wayback Machine version of the article to avoid giving Quillette the hits.)

Can there be any doubt that if Sagan was alive today, Pinker and all the rest of the plutocrat-funded Quillette gang would hate him for being too "woke"?


And if Sagan was alive today, I don't doubt he would despise racist Quillette and everybody associated with it.

In this paragraph in the article we see Steven Pinker reaching new heights of hypocrisy:

(Sagan) highlighted the virtues common to science and civil liberties that are needed to deal with these challenges: freedom of speech, skepticism, constraints on authority, openness to opposing arguments, and an acknowledgment of one’s own fallibility.

Wow. The shamelessness of the last two items took my breath away:

Openness to opposing arguments: Steven Pinker never ventures outside his cozy plutocrat-funded bubble to talk to anybody who might give him an opposing argument. 

Probably because when he does venture outside his bubble, he is asked about his promotion of the career of hardcore racist Steve Sailer

How unpleasant for Steven Pinker. He can be sure that Quillette has no problem with his promotion of Steve Sailer since Quillette is 100% in favor of Sailer's racist views, as displayed in its very positive review of Charles Murray's race pseudoscience screed against Black Americans, written by J. P Rushton's most devoted disciple, Razib Khan. Steven Pinker, naturally, has also been promoting the career of Razib Khan, since at least 2006.

Pinker is also infamous for blocking anybody on Twitter who has anything critical to say.

Acknowledgement of one's own fallibility: the only time Pinker has ever admitted to being wrong, to the best of my knowledge, is for helping Jeffrey Epstein's legal defense. He's never admitted it was a bad idea to promote the careers of Steve Sailer or Razib Khan, and he's resolutely ignored others pointing out that he miscalculated evidence in "The Better Angels of Our Nature" such as Brian Ferguson's paper  Pinker's List.

And when Steven Pinker was caught misrepresenting the words of others, as if the others agreed with him, Pinker had his fanboys Jerry Coyne and Michael Shermer attack Phil Torres for daring to point out the truth and for good measure, Shermer called Torres a "cockroach."

Pinker for his part, misrepresented the complaint against him and then said "so what?"

The rest of Torres’s complaint consists of showing that some of the quotations I weave into the text come from people who don’t agree with me. OK, but so what? 

Which is typical Pinker. Whenever someone mentions his long career of promoting race pseudoscience from Sailer to Khan to Quillette, his response is "guilt by association." As if picking a truly wretched piece written for a far-right publication and including it in a volume of "The Best Science and Nature Writing" is pure, innocent "association."

Monday, June 20, 2022

Taking out the trash on Stone Mountain

Happy first official Juneteenth federal holiday!

Pinkerite had the day off from the day job, in honor of this new holiday.


commemorates the events of June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved African Americans of their freedom after the Civil War had ended.

Although the slaves were Black, I don't think this should be considered a Black-only holiday. 

Everybody who hates the enslavement of human beings has cause to celebrate.

My thoughts today turned to the continuing glorification, in the United States, of the Confederacy. Although some monuments have been removed - and I recently saw an interesting documentary on the subject on PBS, which I recommend, called Neutral Ground, there are still plenty left. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (you should donate to them) created a map in 2019 of monuments, existing and removed, and updated it in February 2022.

One of the biggest removal challenges is Stone Mountain. A year ago NPR ran a piece about it:

The carving at the center of the debate is the largest Confederate monument in the world. It depicts Confederate Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, on horseback.
"To remove the carving would take a small, tactical nuclear weapon," Stephens said. "Three acres of solid granite, it's probably not going anywhere, that's why we're telling the story about it."

But this is bullshit, and we know it's bullshit, thanks to the squabble among the various KKK members and KKK sympathizers who created the Stone Mountain carving:
The project was greatly advanced by C. Helen Plane, a charter member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and first president and Honorary Life President of the Georgia State Division. After obtaining the approval of the Georgia UDC, she set up the UDC Stone Mountain Memorial Association. She chose the sculptor Gutzon Borglum for the project and invited him to visit the mountain (although, despite his Ku Klux Klan involvement,  she "would not shake his hand—he was, after all, a Yankee")...

...Financial conflicts between Borglum and the Association led to his firing in 1925.  He destroyed his models, claiming that they were his property, but the Association disagreed and had a warrant issued for his arrest. He was warned of the arrest and narrowly escaped to North Carolina, whose governor, Angus McLean, refused to extradite him, though he could not return to Georgia. The affair was highly publicized and there was much discussion and discord, including discord between Sam Venable, the Association, and its president Hollins Randolph.  The face of Lee that Borglum had partially completed was blasted off the mountain in 1928.
So Lee's face was already blasted off Stone Mountain once, in 1928. It should be easy as pie for us, one hundred years later, to do it again.

I came across a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 2017 titled How the Confederates might actually come off Stone Mountain that had some suggestions: 
We asked Bentkowski and other geologists to leave aside political considerations and just think about the logistics of erasing the giant sculpture. They all agreed that removing it is an achievable, if costly, engineering feat...

...There’s the non-explosive option, said Derric Iles, the state geologist for South Dakota, home to Mt. Rushmore, which was carved by the first of three sculptors who worked on Stone Mountain. Air chisels and air hammers could be used, but only if “you have all the time in the world,” Iles said. And money.

So that brings it back to explosives. If you’ve ever descended into the bowels of the Peachtree Center MARTA Station, you’ve seen what targeted explosives can create; tunnels big enough for a train to run through. The stone walls bear the scarring from explosives and the holes bored to put them in place. That’s what would happen at Stone Mountain.

...The relief could be covered, said Robert Hatcher, distinguished scientist in geology at the University of Tennessee. The figures would be smoothed down, then the area filled with concrete.

“It wouldn’t be very pretty,” Hatcher said. “It would deface the mountain...”
But the mountain is already defaced with white supremacy-loving traitors, so not really a problem.

The article keeps talking about how expensive it would be to remove the bas-relief sculpture, but that demonstrates a lack of imagination. I have an idea that would not only pay for the removal, it would address the concerns about "erasing history" that Confederacy-lovers always complain about.

The carving is apparently between 400 and 500 feet off the ground. According to this article, a Civil War era cannon is capable of a range of almost a mile.

I say we set up a row of Civil War era cannons, hoist them to the best trajectory and make people pay for the honor of shooting holes in the Stone Mountain glorification of treason and slavery. Not enough to completely obliterate the image, just enough to express contempt for the slavery-loving traitors portrayed and for the Ku Klux Klan terrorists who brought this bas-relief abomination into existence. 

At a thousand bucks a pop, I guarantee patriots will be lining up for miles for the privilege.

So we get to keep "history" but remove the glorifying aspect.

But of course the real issue here is not logistics or finances. The problem is that in the United States, and especially in the South, there are still many who do not want their precious slavery-loving traitors to be treated disrespectfully. The issue is a political one - always has been, always will be.

A thousand bucks a pop - such a bargain.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Bret & Heather & Game Theory

I don't talk much about Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying on Pinkerite, even though they are bona fide members of the Intellectual Dark Web and related by blood and marriage to Peter Thiel's number 1 lackey, Eric Weinstein. While they are sleazy scam artists, hyping ivermectin for Covid...

...That leaves Brett Weinstein and Heather Heying, the ex-Evergreen professors, married couple, and co-hosts of the Dark Horse podcast who have made ivermectin advocacy a cornerstone of their work. (Heying has called the “demonization” of ivermectin the “crime of the century.”) Heying and Weinstein extensively discussed the TOGETHER trial during Saturday’s episode of their podcast, denouncing it as poorly designed, suggesting it actually hadn’t been randomized or placebo-controlled (it was), and primarily recommending other people’s potted analyses, including Martenson, the economic researcher, and a site called IVM Meta, a site which claims to be a constantly updating real-time meta analysis of ivermectin studies.

...they don't promote race pseudoscience as far as I am aware.

But I had to share this. Beware if you are drinking liquids while watching this, said liquids may come shooting out your nose.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

So whatever happened to the University of Austin?

The University of Austin (UATX) made a big splash when Bari Weiss announced it last fall. But I haven't heard much about it lately. Even Quillette has absolutely nothing to say about it, even though many of the professors listed for "Forbidden Courses" are Quillette authors or connected to Quillette in some other way.

Many people assumed UATX was a scam and a jobs program for the racist right. 

As the Center for Media Democracy said in November 2021: Bari Weiss’ New “Fiercely Independent” University Closely Tied to Right-Wing Koch Network

 And not only Koch - the article notes the Thiel connection:

The school’s only known financier is Joe Lonsdale, a board member of Cicero Research and a founding UATX trustee, who co-founded the controversial Palantir Technologies big-data firm with GOP megadonor Peter Thiel. Along with Lonsdale—who has been accused of rape, something he denies—two apparent family members and a colleague at his venture capital firm, 8VC, make up Cicero Research’s board.

Thiel is a funder of Quillette. So of course there's a heavy emphasis on supporting racism at the University of Austin:


Several UATX figures have taken public stances against efforts to combat racism and other bigotry in society, and they have used the resulting blowback from their communities to launch right-wing media tours as free speech warriors and victims of oppression.

In a piece he wrote for the white nationalist-friendly Quillette during a resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests nationwide, Princeton classics professor and UATX adviser Joshua Katz called a Black student activist group a “local terrorist organization,” resulting in condemnation by other faculty and the university’s president. Then Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal printed his characterization of the events, including his “survival” of “cancellation.” Katz sued the American Council of Learned Societies for alleged “viewpoint discrimination” after it withdrew his delegate status because of his anti-anti-racist Quillette piece.

Katz is responsible for other controversies. He admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student, for which he was disciplined, and additional accusations of inappropriate conduct have emerged.

University of Chicago geophysics professor and UATX adviser Dorian Abbot co-wrote an op-ed for Newsweek called “The Diversity Problem on Campus,” arguing against diversity, equity, and inclusion practices with regard to admission, faculty hiring, and course content. Abbot’s assertion was that universities are being racist against white people by trying to help traditionally marginalized people enter traditionally white-dominated spaces. He even compared diversity, equity, and inclusion to practices in Nazi Germany. As a result, MIT canceled a lecture he was scheduled to give, and Weiss lent Abbot her blog for his account of being “cancelled.”

Newsweek’s opinion editor, Josh Hammer, is a fellow at the right-wing nationalist Edmund Burke Foundation and previously worked for right-wing publications including The Daily Caller. The Edmund Burke Foundation hosts an annual National Conservatism conference. At this year’s conference, which concluded on Nov. 2, several UATX figures spoke alongside Hammer and other right personalities, including Mark Krikorian, executive director of anti-immigrant hate group the Center for Immigration Studies: Hirsi Ali and UATX advisers Sohrab Amari and Glenn Loury. Peter Thiel gave the keynote address.

It seems to me that the racist right are attempting to create their own Galt's Gulch, starting with a right-wing libertarian university. 

Doonesbury addressed University of Austin back in January. 

And PZ Myers has some recent thoughts about UATX:

Oh hey, speaking of fake universities, let’s check in with the University of Austin. June 2022 is a big month for them, because this is when they have their very first course offering, “The Forbidden Courses“. They’ve had to scale back a bit, unsurprisingly. The courses will not be held in Austin — they’ve rented some lovely spaces in Dallas for the whole thing. The “course” is all of 4 days long, and there are two course sessions…you could apply for both if you wanted. It is not accredited...

...I looked at that mess and figured their student body was going to be tinier than they expect, except they did one thing exactly right. They are paying bodies to attend.
Due to the support of a generous grant from our donors, there is no cost to attend the program. Hotels, some meals, and activities are covered by UATX. A $300 stipend will be given to participants to defray costs from travel, some meals, and other incidental expenses. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of participants.
Whoa. I wish we could just pay our students to attend my university, and take care of their housing and meals at no cost. This is what you get when millionaires and billionaires back your efforts to destroy public education. I wonder what contribution Elon Musk made?

He was not impressed right from the start:

I like that Myers refers to Pinker as a weasel at minute 9:00. Sure, so many reviewers of Pinker's work accuse him of trying to have things "both ways" and say that he is "blithe" - but I say, let's also get "weasel" going!

UPDATE: Myers just published a new video today: PZ vs Peterson vs Dawkins.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Steven Pinker having it both ways as usual

Reviewers of Steven Pinker's work notice his logical inconsistencies, which is especially amusing when Pinker's work is about logic.

Back in September when Pinker's book "Rationality..." was released, Ted McCormick, writing in Slate, noted the inevitable Pinker logic fail, which has been characterized by other reviewers as Pinker "having it both ways":

Rather than argue for his own liberal, technocratic goals, however, Pinker lets their presumed superiority color his use of “rational” and “irrational” throughout. This creates a recurring dissonance, since what is irrational (or “cockamamie,” or “stupid”) from his perspective often turns out to be eminently rational by his initial definition: That is, it serves the purposes of those who hold to it effectively. 

I give other examples of Pinker's critics noticing Pinker trying to have it both ways here.

The article also notes Pinker's (inevitable) hypocrisy, combined with his inevitable support for far-right, race pseudoscience-promoting organizations:

Blaming universities’ “suffocating leftwing monoculture” for popular mistrust of expertise, Pinker mentions two examples in the text: University of Southern California professor Greg Patton’s removal from a course after using the Chinese ne ga, which can sound like the N-word, and testimony from unnamed personal “correspondents.” (In a footnote, he invites readers to look to Heterodox Academy, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Quillette—all of it—for further examples.) The very next paragraph warns of “illusions instilled by sensationalist anecdote chasing.” Doctor, heal thyself!

And although Pinker, along with right-wing media, trumpeted the Greg Patton controversy far and wide, in the end, the university found in Patton's favor:

After weeks of an internal investigation by USC’s Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity and Title IX (EEO-TIX), however, Patton was found to have acted appropriately, as Garrett announced to students and the rest of the Marshall School community in a September 25 email. The EEO-TIX found that “the concerns expressed by students were sincere,” the dean wrote, “but that Professor Patton’s actions did not violate the university’s policy. They have also communicated this to the professor and he allowed me to share their conclusion with you.

One or more hyper-sensitive students made an absurd charge against a professor, the university investigated the issue, and the professor was found to have acted appropriately. 

So is Steven Pinker's right-wing fear-mongering an example of rationality? I suppose if your goal is to curry favor with the deep pockets of the racist right, then yes, it is rational.

But going back to Pinker having it both ways. I mentioned recently that anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson introduced me to the work of another anthropologist, Douglas Fry, who sent me a link to his review of Pinker's 2012 book "Better Angels of Our Nature." 

I enjoyed Fry's review especially because he also noticed Pinker's trait of having it both ways:

Pinker’s evident fondness for state-based solutions also seems to make for greater analytical confusion as he tries to supply an anatomy of peaceable instincts that may inhere in human subjects apart from the imposition of state control. Pinker proposes that along with self-control, a moral sense, and the capacity to reason, a fourth “better angel” in our nature is empathy. But Pinker can’t seem to make up his mind about empathy. On the one hand, he quotes Charles Darwin in his final chapter’s epigraph, thereby appearing to give a last word to the great natural scientist’s hopeful formulation: 
As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.
However, Pinker concludes earlier in the book, after much discussion, that it is actually rights, norms, and policies—not empathy—that are important for protecting people from violence. Pinker also concludes that “empathy can subvert human well-being when it runs afoul of a more fundamental principle, fairness.” If that’s the case, then why isn’t fairness promoted to angel status and empathy demoted? It’s hard to avoid the impression that Pinker is just jumping, halfheartedly, onto the empathy bandwagon in the wake of best-selling treatments of the subject such as Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization (2009) and Frans de Waal’s The Age of Empathy (2009)—both of which are far more thorough and lucid treatments of the subject than one finds in The Better Angels of Our Nature.
Whatever else you can say about Pinker, he's consistent.

Fry shared his review of Napoleon Chagnon's self-aggrandizing autobiography "NOBLE SAVAGES My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes — the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists." The autobiography was called "a lively and paranoid romp through the thick jungles of the Amazon and the thicker tangles of academic and religious intrigue" by the NYTimes.

Fry's review can be accessed via JSTOR here. Fry critiqued Chagnon's claim that Yanomami men who killed more also fathered more children, explaining why Chagnon's calculation is incorrect, which concurs with Ferguson's paper Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war

The critique was enough to get Fry on Chagnon's enemies list:

I had begun to think that somehow I had escaped being put on the "detractor list" for my mathematical recalculation of Chagnon's unokai data (Fry 2006; Miklikowska and Fry 2012), but then I discovered that he cites a book I co-edited (Kemp and Fry 2004) as a supposed example of an ad hominem attack related to his 1988 unokai article (Chagnon, 2013: 278). However, Chagnon got the basic facts wrong. The only mention of Chagnon in the edited book involves his use of the label "fierce," has nothing to do with his 1988 article, and says nothing that could be considered ad hominem (Kemp and Fry 200422: 5). 

Regular visitors to this Pinkerite site will not be surprised to learn that Steven Pinker (and other supporters of sociobiology) is a big fan of Chagnon.

Fry also shared a link to an interview with Phillip Dwyer, author of The Dark Angels of Our Nature, which raises many of the objections that Ferguson did in his Pinker's List and adds a few more. Check it out.

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