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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Steven Pinker and the race pseudoscience network

Carole Hooven was seen last August on Pinkerite, along with Larry Summers, when each was promoting Quillette's racist/neo-Nazi editor Bo Winegard last year.

It seems that Hooven's career is now supported by Steven Pinker. I'm not surprised.

Pinker is a long-time supporter and some-time contributor of racist rag Quillette, and an admirer of Bo Winegard.

Pinker is no doubt a supporter of Hooven because she's another believer in the sociobiology/evolutionary psychology school of gender and race essentialism, the "scientific" justification for right-wing bigotry.

In this article in the September 2022 edition of the Archives of Sexual Behavior,  Hooven defends Larry Summers' belief in the inferiority of lady brains in STEM.

In spite of Summers' claim, women's participation in STEM is steadily rising

We know that's not due to women's genetics or brain structure changing in such a short period of time. 

Maybe it's due to pushback against the essentialist beliefs that sociobiologists like Summers, Pinker, Winegard and Hooven cling to for dear life.

In the article, Hooven proposes the crackpot social affinity theory that is the absolute favorite sociobiologist explanation for why people are hostile to their pseudoscience-based claims. Bo Winegard is a big fan.

Why do people direct such outrage at scholars who are trying to do their jobs, discovering and communicating how the world works? In the aftermath of the Summers imbroglio, Steven Pinker, the well-known professor of psychology at Harvard, argued that Summers had been met with such vitriol because he had violated a cultural taboo. (Pinker 2005)  People who belong or want to belong to a social group, whether centered around political views, or a country or school, ethnic or gender identity, can signal their loyalty to the group and its values by demonstrating their "moral purity." (Paresky, 2022)

This fanciful explanation demonstrates how detached sociobiologists are from basic human social reality - maybe that's why they believe so reflexively that virtually all contemporary human behavior is the result of evolved biological essences.

The far more likely explanation for the Summers controversy is because at the time Summers made the statement he was the president of Harvard, speaking at a conference on why women were underrepresented in STEM, and Summers suggested the problem was women themselves.

To spell it out in a way that even a sociobiologist might grasp, Summers represented a clear institutional threat to women who were interested in STEM careers. How idiotic do you have to be to seriously believe the controversy was due to "moral purity"?

I would say that Hooven, Pinker, Paresky and Winegard are being deliberately obtuse, but I'm afraid it might not be deliberate. 

In this recent video, at minute 1:10 Hooven says:
...(Pinker's) also interested in, obviously, at lot of the kinds of issues that I'm interested in, The Blank Slate, is, you know, his early book, had a big impact on me and my thinking - how I thought about sex differences...

...more than anyone else at Harvard... he gave me a new office, he took me into his department, he stood up for me, he counseled me, it's been a really difficult time and he, if it weren't for him I really would not be at Harvard any more and I am because of him.... 

But Pinker has long been a champion of those who support sociobiology, as his ongoing support for hardcore race pseudoscience extremist Linda Gottfredson demonstrates.

"The Blank Slate" was Pinker's evolutionary psychology manifesto, so perfectly reviewed by Louis Menand in the New Yorker when it was released in 2002:
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. He sums the matter up: "With violence, as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution." This is just another way of saying that it is in human nature to socialize and to be socialized, which is, pragmatically, exactly the view of the "intellectuals." 
My theory for why Pinker tries to "have it both ways" is because he wants plausible deniability for his actual beliefs about Black people.

The New Yorker review mentions Judith Rich Harris, but the review does not mention how instrumental Pinker was in promoting the career of Harris
Moreover, when her great encourager Steven Pinker and I each nominated her paper for the annual award for “outstanding paper on general psychology,” the judges selected her as co-recipient of the—I am not making this up—George A. Miller Award. (To his credit, Miller later termed the irony “delicious.”)
Harris is so popular among believers in sociobiology that a leading promoter of "biosocial criminology," Kevin Beaver, is the Judith Rich Harris Professor of Criminology at Florida State University.

Biosocial Criminology holds that Black people are innately less intelligent, and more criminally-inclined than members of other "races." We know this because there is a book edited by Kevin Beaver, Biosocial Criminology: New Directions in Theory and Research in which his fellow biosocial criminologist John Paul Wright is given a chapter to argue that belief:

Page 149:
...Areas afflicted by crime and other social pathologies are more frequently black than white, and even less frequently Oriental. Part of the reason for these visible and dramatic differences may have to do with the differential abilities of races to organize socially. 
Page 150:
From the available data it would seem ludicrous to argue that "race" is a construct devoid of a biological or evolutionary backdrop. That evolutionary forces have produced biological variance across races is now scientifically undeniable. That many of the characteristics that define races appear to be universal and time stable is also undeniable. Evolution can produce many forms of adaptations, but it cannot produce equality. 
The connection between race and criminal behavior is clearly complex and involves a range of historical, social, psychological and individual variables. Evolution however, provides a powerful mechanism to understand the development of human races and the distribution of traits and behaviors within and across races. It helps explain why races would appear and under what conditions races would appear. It helps to explain why certain traits would be beneficial and why these traits such as higher IQ, would be unequally distributed across races. Moreover evolutionary theory helps explain why race-based patterns of behavior are universal, such as black over-involvement in crime. No other paradigm organizes these patterns better. No other paradigm explains these inconvenient truths.
I have no doubt Pinker holds similar beliefs. He has consistently promoted and supported those who hold these beliefs (Razib Khan, Bo Winegard, Linda Gottfredson, Steve Sailer) and his beliefs echo those of racist Amy Wax.

Unfortunately any time Pinker is interviewed, the interviewer treats him with kid gloves, due to the rarely broken gentlemen's agreement and refuses to make Pinker express exactly what he believes, as in this interview:
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...
So if the problem isn't poverty and racism... what exactly is the problem? Pinker is too much the weasel to come right out and say it.

Pinker's influence extends to the promotion and support of the much debunked claims of the hypothesis called "Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" created by two racists, who were brought together by racist Steve Sailer.

The publisher of the Hooven video, Freedom Pact likes to platform members and friends of the IDW including Bret Weinstein, Heather Heying, Niall Ferguson, Chloe Valdary, Dave Rubin, Douglas Murray and David Buss. 

The Freedom Pact website reveals nothing about who is funding them, but given how IDW-leaning its guests have become since 2018, including two interviews with Ivermectin-promoting Bret Weinstein, the brother of Peter Thiel's employee and apparent crackpot, Eric Weinstein, and given Thiel's reported financial support for race pseudoscience-promoting and IDW-connected Quillette, I have my suspicions.

And I predict that one day Carole Kennedy Hooven will have her own Quillette byline, where she can share her grievances with Quillette's far-right, racist and mostly male readership.

If Quillette will support Amy Wax's right to be a public racist troll while working for an educational institution, they'll certainly support Hooven.