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Saturday, February 5, 2022

Jerry Coyne learns who J. Phillippe Rushton was, Kathryn Paige Harden denies being an hereditarian, E. O. Wilson was a racist

Jerry Coyne, Steve Pinker's #1 fanboy and a firm supporter of racist Razib Khan should have some idea of the history of race pseudoscience. I recently demonstrated how much Khan's views on race - which continue to this day -  are influenced by J. Phillippe Rushton

Coyne got around to responding to the Farina/Gibbons article on Wilson's support for the career of Rushton, which I mentioned recently. In his blog post Coyne reveals the astounding depths of his ignorance.


But this new article... has substantial documentation, based largely on Wilson’s association with and promotion of the work of J. Phillippe Rushton, a Canadian psychologist and author who apparently spent much of his life trying to show that there were racial hierarchies based on IQ, with, of course, black people below white. It would not be too strong to call the man an obsessive racist. I had never heard of the guy before the two authors found evidence of Wilson’s association with Rushton, but since then I’ve read more about it and also heard from two people who knew Rushton.

Imagine aligning with Razib Khan and yet somehow remaining so ignorant of his history.

But there will always be people like Greg Mayer, whose addendum Coyne includes in his post. Mayer attempts to minimize Wilson's racism by portraying him as just a poor martyr, the way race pseudoscience proponents like to portray themselves:
But the key context for Wilson’s support of Rushton is Wilson’s own experience with attempts to silence him and brand him a racist dating back to the publication of Sociobiology in 1975. Science for the People– the publisher of F&G’s piece– was a prominent antagonist of Wilson at that time and, evidently, to this very day. Wilson, as quoted by F&G, saw this as a matter of academic freedom. 
It's clear that the reason Wilson was such a supporter of Rushton was because he agreed with him. 

And it should be no surprise. Sociobiology is the attempt to justify current human hierarchies as the result of nature. So there is no non-racist sociobiology.

The New York Review of Books just published another article on Wilson's connection to Rushton, Ideology as Biology by Mark Borrello and David Sepkoski. And it makes clear that racism is absolutely baked into sociobiology. My highlight.
In 1975, Wilson published a lengthy treatise on the evolution of social behavior in animals titled Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. While Wilson’s primary focus in the book was on nonhuman animals, in its final chapter he extended sociobiological analysis to humans. Here he suggested, among other things, an evolutionary and genetic basis for “the behavioral qualities that underlie the variations between cultures,” as well as for “marked racial differences in locomotion, posture, muscular tone, and emotional response that cannot be reasonably explained as the result of training or even conditioning within the womb.”
Of course I loved this section of the article. My highlight:
While authors like Herrnstein and Murray have been shunned for the fairly openly racist social policies they promoted, Wilson has remained a safe authority for such contemporary hereditarian participants in this debate as Steven Pinker, Robert Plomin, and Kathryn Paige Harden. Rather than taking Wilson’s death as an opportunity to interrogate that authority, many of his fellow scientists have chosen a kind of sainthood for him instead of a frank examination.
Harden had some problems with that passage.

I don't know about her citing Wilson, but it's pretty clear that Kathryn Paige Harden is an hereditarian

Her area of study, "behavioral genetics," is standard sociobiology, and Harden believes in hereditarianism so fervently that in her recent book she compared skeptics of her scheme to apply "genetic differences" to social policy with bank robbers:
The tacit collusion in some areas of the social sciences to ignore genetic differences…is wrong. It is wrong in the way that robbing banks is wrong. It is stealing. It’s stealing people’s time when researchers work to churn out critically flawed scientific papers, and other researchers chase false leads that go no where. It’s stealing people’s money when taxpayers and private foundations support policies premised on the shakiest of causal foundations. Failing to take genetics seriously is a scientific practice that pervasively undermines our stated goal of understanding society so that we can improve it. (p. 186)
I don't think it's an accident she is grouped with uber-evolutionary psychology promoter David Buss on their university web site.

And who would promote the career of Rushton-influenced race pseudoscience promoter Razib Khan (who recently called Harden his friend) but another hereditarian?

I find it hard to believe that when Harden posted this tweet she was ignorant of Khan's reputation as a race pseudoscience-monger, since she tweeted her support for him not long after the controversy over Khan's being rejected by the NYTimes due to his racist history.

Speaking of Razib Khan, he will probably be happy he was name-checked in the piece.

In their hurry to defend Wilson, the signatories of the letter may not have realized the past involvement of its author, science blogger Razib Khan, with alt-right and white nationalist publications like The Unz Review and the Internet forum VDARE. When some learned of Khan’s background and withdrew their names, it brought a fresh round of outrage on social media and in popular science blogs.

The article highlights exactly why E. O. Wilson can be called, without reservation, a racist:
Rushton was arguing that “r/K selection theory” applies to different human races. This model was developed in the 1960s by Wilson and the population biologist Robert MacArthur to characterize distinct evolutionary reproductive strategies among different species of animals. It distinguishes species that produce large numbers of offspring (or those that are “r-selected”) with little subsequent parental investment (for example, many insects) from those that produce few offspring (or are “K-selected”) with greater parental investment (elephants, humans). Rushton’s intent was rather to demonstrate that “behavioral genetics seems to suggest that r/K relationships are heritable” among humans, and that, furthermore, different human “races” have different strategies: specifically, that Black people are r-selected, while whites are K-selected. Moreover, he carefully explained to Wilson that this model accounted for racial disparities in IQ, postulating that Black people are not selected for high intelligence because their selection strategy favors, essentially, quantity over quality.

As an author of the r/K model, one would have expected Wilson to have been outraged at Rushton’s proposal, which implied, as many nineteenth-century scientists did, that human “races” constituted different species—a view no reputable biologist, including Wilson, would have publicly defended. But Wilson immediately dashed off a letter to Rushton applauding his application of the r/K model as “one of the most original and interesting [ideas] I’ve ever encountered in psychology,” adding that the work was “courageous.” “In this country the whole issue would be clouded by personal charges of racism to the point that rational discussion would be almost impossible,” he wrote, urging Rushton to “press ahead!”
As the article notes:
...one is bound to ask what, precisely, Wilson found so “important” or “brilliant” about an argument that, in essence, Black people have evolved to breed more and be less intelligent than white? Rushton, unabashed by public criticism, was unafraid to promote ideas that Wilson would not. But Wilson’s desire to see those ideas advanced is repeatedly made clear in his support for his colleague, to the extent that he even overlooked an obvious misapplication of his own theory.

E. O. Wilson was a racist.

Case closed.