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Friday, January 20, 2023

Jerry Coyne promoting racist Razib Khan

Steven Pinker stopped publicly promoting the career of professional racist Steven Sailer by 2012, but he was still promoting the career of Razib Khan, whose racist beliefs are virtually identical to Sailer's, in 2021

Khan's unhinged racism is clear in his review of racist Charles Murray's latest work of pseudoscience, written for racist rag Quillette. Khan agrees with Charles Murray that Black people are an existential threat to the United States. But then, as I've noted, sociobiologists are often drama queens, certain that those who are not true believers in sociobiology are dooming the world.

I was wondering if Pinker was still promoting Khan, so I was Googling around a little. I didn't find anything about Pinker, but I did find that racist goon Jerry Coyne had jumped in to do his part by promoting Khan in a blog post last month.

Khan's article is titled: 

You can’t take it with you: straight talk about epigenetics and intergenerational trauma
The true story of a powerful molecular process and how pseudoscience co-opted it

I find it incredibly funny that a right-wing political operative like Khan, whose entire racist-plutocrat-funded career is devoted to racist pseudoscience is writing about "pseudoscience."

Khan is a terrible writer, incapable of efficiently organizing and conveying information, which is why his career exists purely thanks to people like racist crackpot Ron Unz and the funders of racist Taki's Mag and racist Quillette and racist VDARE, as well as whoever is funding him, probably secretly, via his Substack

Khan's article, according to Coyne, is an "excellent piece... written for the intelligent and scientifically inquisitive layperson.

But Coyne doesn't care about writing ability any more than the racist plutocrats who fund Khan, I suspect. 

Khan's literary ability is beside the point. I seriously doubt he wrote this article out of a pure love of sharing information. I think he wrote it, like everything else he writes, because racists are paying him to promote racist bullshit. In this piece he only lightly touches on his inevitable motivation, in his reference to a "blank slate" in a sub-heading, but it's there.

I don't think epigenetics is needed to explain Black failure to thrive, the historical record is sufficient, but Khan and his ilk are opposed to any explanation for Black failure to thrive other than the pseudoscientific belief that Blackness makes them stupid and violent.

We know that Khan is also opposed to the historical explanation, when he suggested we "remove all the history."

I don't have strong feelings about epigenetics and its possible implications, and I don't know enough about it to critique Khan's article on scientific terms. But I do know bad writing when I see it. 

In his article, Khan starts out with an excessively complicated IKEA furniture instruction manual analogy. 

He then goes on to make an unsupported claim:
In the last decade, sweeping mainstream-media claims about epigenetics’ expansive role in shaping our world have become hard to escape.
What "mainstream media" is Khan reading? If you did a survey of a random collection of college-educated people, I guarantee you that a tiny percent of them could define the term "epigenetics." 

Towards the end of the article, he lightly sprinkles five links to sources that discuss possible epigenetic implications and family trauma, and none of them is more recent than 2018. Not exactly "hard to escape."

And since he doesn't have much in the way of support for his claim, he tries to stretch a statement by Justin Trudeau into support for epigenetics because Trudeau used the term "intergenerational trauma." 

In 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement about the controversy around Catholic schools for Aboriginal Canadian children where he stated:

…we must continue to learn about residential schools and the intergenerational trauma they have caused. It is only by facing these truths and righting these wrongs that we, in partnership with Indigenous peoples, can move toward a better future.

What jumped out at me was the casual deployment of the concept of “intergenerational trauma,” which seems out of nowhere to have become ubiquitous. Google Books’ Ngram search feature tells us that the term did not exist before 1985, with its use increasing gradually until 2012 when it hit an inflection point and began to shoot up. 

Khan then includes a definition of "intergenerational trauma" from Wikipedia which says:

The mechanism for transmission of trauma may be socially transmitted (e.g., through learned behaviors), through the effects of stress before birth, or perhaps through stress-induced epigenetic modifications

So "socially transmitted" or stress before birth or PERHAPS epigenetic

But Khan is going to keep the Trudeau statement in there anyway, giving the impression that Trudeau meant epigenetics. Because it "jumped out at me." Jesus, Khan is so sleazy it sets my teeth on edge.

Once Khan moves past his bad analogy and unsupported claim about the inescapability of epigenetics, he immediately gets into the weeds with a terrible, endless sentence, with a call-back to his terrible IKEA analogy.
Epigenetics encompasses the molecular mechanisms that determine how relevant sections of DNA’s single universal instruction manual are interpreted and applied uniquely in each specialized cell, as specific pages of the manual are consulted (or not) according to each cell’s role in your body.
It makes you tired just reading it.

The only good thing you can say about Khan's literary output is that it's so bad, it's unlikely to give him a larger audience. 

And thanks to the Substack platform, you can see who liked the piece, along with links to their own social media. It gives you a good sense of how generally far-right and racist Khan's audience is. People like "human biodiversity" promoter Jonny Anomaly and anti-woke hater of the 1619 project Reality Always Wins and anti-vax crackpot "Rotten in Denmark."

Intelligent and scientifically inquisitive people would do much better to read about epigenetics from people who know how to organize information, who can write well, and who are not career-long right-wing racist political operatives. 

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