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Saturday, January 21, 2023

Steven Pinker and Amy Wax and Persuasion

So Pinker hasn't been promoting Razib Khan, directly, that I could find, since 2021. So what has Pinker been up to?

Publishing his usual bullshit, specifically in the "Persuasion" Substack.

Persuasion, which was founded in June 2020, a few weeks before the Harper's Letter was published, appears to be part of the Harper's Letter scheme, associated with the Intellectual Dark Web and the Quillette gang.

Thirteen signers of the Harper's Letter are associated with Persuasion, including founder and editor in chief Yascha Mounk. The named instigator of the letter, Thomas Chatterton Williams, currently taking money from the Koch-funded AEI, is on the Board of Advisors.

Persuasion also has an About page which lists "People," which includes Mounk and some members of the Board of Advisors, like Pinker, Haidt, Yoffe, McWhorter; various others (including "David"); plus two more Harper's Letter-signers, Jonathan Rauch and → Ian Buruma.

You can see how much Persuasion is aligned politically with the Intellectual Dark Web and Quillette by a glance at the "Most popular" articles on its home page:
  • Keira Bell: My Story - about regretting being transgender - anti-trans is a pillar of the Intellectual Dark Web/Quillette, and, because those are funded by the same people who fund conservative politicians, a new pillar of the Republican Party. Quillette talks about Bell a lot. Of course.
Many people ask why any of this should matter in the age of Donald Trump—a president who attacks free speech, stokes bigotry and division, and believes he is above the law. It matters because we have seen what happened when his enablers on the right failed to stand up to the worst impulses of their leader. These enablers are now morally responsible for the tragic consequences of their inaction.
But if Peter Thiel has funded Quillette - and I think the claim is true - then the very people Yoffe admires take money from the same guy who funds Trump. It makes the "left is just as bad" defense incredibly hollow.
  • The Warped Vision of "Anti-Racism" by Trump-loving right-wing extremist Batya Ungar-Sargon, who, like Pinker, Haidt, McWhorter and Thomas Chatterton Williams is on the Board of Advisors of the (I believe) Christopher Rufo-founded, right-wing anti-CRT-scam FAIR for all. Ungar-Sargon's is the second "anti-racism is bad" piece in Persuasion's "Most Popular" list which should tell you exactly who is reading Persuasion. Her article spews the usual bullshit about the 1619 Project ("it's postmodern!") you can expect from the Quillette/IDW gang of goons and ghouls. Even if she takes money from Newsweek instead of Quillette.
Pinker has published two articles in Persuasion. The most recent is from this month and continues his current project of presenting himself as the arbiter of Rationality while promoting race pseudoscience as calm, cool reason.

I've long noted that Pinker is a weasel, so it is no surprise that he compares those who disagree with race pseudoscience to members of QAnon:

QAnon might be likened to a live action role-playing game, with fans avidly trading clues and following leads. Its progenitor, Pizzagate (according to which Hillary Clinton ran a child sex ring out of the basement of a DC pizzeria), also had a make-believe quality...

...Many of us are nonplussed by this way of thinking. It’s one thing to believe that Hillary Clinton is a morally compromised person—everyone is entitled to an opinion—but it’s quite another thing, and completely unacceptable, to express that opinion as a fabricated factual assertion.

But it’s our mindset that is exotic and unnatural. For many of us, it’s the dividend of a higher education which has imparted the sense that there is a fact of the matter about states of the world; that even if we don’t know it, there are ways of finding out; and that, as Bertrand Russell put it, “It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it is true.” Indeed, one could argue that this mindset is the most important dividend of higher education.

Or at least, it used to be. Here's another candidate for a mythology zone: the sacred creeds of academic and intellectual elites. These include the belief that we are born blank slates, that sex is a social construction, that every difference in the social statistics of ethnic groups is caused by racism, that the source of all problems in the developing world is European and American imperialism, and that repressed abuse and trauma are ubiquitous.

In spite of my best efforts, Pinker is not known primarily as a promoter of race pseudoscience, but his belief about race and racism is the same as that of Amy Wax, who is well-known as a racist.

Let's review:

Steve Pinker: 
...another candidate for a mythology zone: the sacred creeds of academic and intellectual elites... that every difference in the social statistics of ethnic groups is caused by racism...

The centerpiece of wokeness is that all disparities, all group disparities, are due to racism, racism, racism, racism.

How is what Pinker said any different from what Wax said? I see no difference in content, only a difference in style.

Although Pinker gives an extra little weasel twist by portraying his racism as pure rationality, opposed to those crazy myth-loving "elites."

And note that Pinker's term "sacred creed" is very close to the term "sacred values" used by  Quillette Associate Editor Bo Winegard, a long-time promoter of race pseudoscience and even an advocate of national ethnicity quotas (you know, like the Nazis were.) Pinker is on the record as admiring Bo Winegard and his twin brother Ben.

Steven Pinker is the genteel mask of the hardcore racism that Amy Wax shouts from the rooftops.

And that's why Steven Pinker is more pernicious than Amy Wax and that's why this blog focuses on media-darling/sacred cow celebrity intellectual Steven Pinker and not on the more obviously racist Amy Wax.

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