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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

Friday, June 30, 2023

Majority Report vs. Bari Weiss and "sugar daddy Harlan Crow"

This is a beautiful piece of work. I've already talked about the implosion of the far-right-leaning IDW grift  FAIR but the Majority Report focuses on Weiss's shamelessness and her relationship with the ultra-corrupt Harlan Crow.

At the end they talk about the right-wing dark money network funding all the fascism, which is one of the most important issues in the US right now.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Is Bo Winegard ready to teach at Williams College? What about the University of Chicago?

Bo Winegard has a Substack, dedicated to racism, called Aporia

Naturally Aporia is on Substack because Substack is run by a bunch of Thiel-connected ghouls who find racism perfectly acceptable to publish.


Jerry Coyne, of the University of Chicago and Luana Maroja, of Williams College recently co-wrote a reactionary political screed in the Skeptical Inquirer, in which they presented racist neo-Nazi Bo Winegard as a victim of Marietta College - although they don't mention the college by name:

But the central question about genetics in the culture wars involves behavioral characteristics of different populations and ethnic groups, with differences in intelligence being the subject deemed most taboo. In light of the checkered history of this work, it behooves any researcher to tread lightly, for virtually any outcome save worldwide identity of populations could be used to buttress bias and bigotry. Indeed, even writing about this subject has led to sanctions on many scientists, who have “found themselves denounced, defamed, protested, petitioned, punched, kicked, stalked, spat on, censored, fired from their jobs and stripped of their honorary titles.” A well-known example is Bo Winegard, an untenured professor in Ohio who was apparently fired for merely suggesting the possibility that there were differences in cognition among ethnic groups. This is why most biologists stay far away from this topic.

They must both be aware of Winegard's long career of supporting "race realism." So why would they dishonestly present him as "merely suggesting the possibility that there were differences in cognition among ethnic groups"?

Marietta College never released a statement on why it declined to invite Winegard back, but it seems that Coyne and Maroja are convinced Winegard was a victim of political correctness. 

So here's my theory: Jerry Coyne and Luana Maroja want "race realism" taught at University of Chicago and Williams College and they'd like Bo Winegard to do the teaching.

I assume neither Coyne nor Maroja would agree to work for their respective colleges if they believed they were too woke to teach race realism. And Coyne, in particular is obsessed with any signs of wokeness

As P.Z. Myers noted, Coyne and Maroja are academic insiders:

It’s somewhat peculiar to read the complaints about a dogmatic stranglehold from these people. Coyne is a well-known, established, and successful scientist — he is a graduate of Harvard, and is now an emeritus professor of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, one of the most prestigious institutions of evolution research in the country. Maroja is a full Professor of Biology, and Chair of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Program at Williams College. I don’t see how they can complain that their careers have been “strangled” by the Left.

Coyne and Maroja are the establishment.* Their careers are built on convincingly supporting the dogmas of biology (which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.) They have immense amounts of academic power and influence, and have far more potential to be the strangler, rather than the strangled. Yet somehow they have the idea that science is being politically purged by progressive social justice, which they claim doesn’t care about truth.

I am no expert on the politics of academia, but it appears to me that both of them have the clout required to get Bo Winegard a job at their colleges. Much like Steven Pinker manages to hook up his fellow proponents of sociobiology/evolutionary psychology.

And after all, if "race realism" is good enough for Marietta, it must be good enough for Williams and UChicago.

Along with multi-decades-long professional racist Steve Sailer, Bo Winegard is an absolute true believer in the essential inferiority of Black people. Which is why he's a defender of The Bell Curve's claims about the innate inferiority of Black people. And why Sam Harris used Winegard's article in racist shitrag Quillette to defend Murray. Sailer and Winegard are in perfect harmony with racist troll Amy Wax.

Of course Bo Winegard has "demographic concerns." You know, like the Nazis.

As long as Bo Winegard promotes the notion of white superiority himself, he will refute the notion of white superiority. What a pathetic racist loser.

UPDATE Bo Winegard is very chummy with Emil. O. W. Kirkegaarrd, who was too embarrassing, finally, even for the International Society for Intelligence Research.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Sabine Hossenfelder is pushing an agenda and shouldn't be taken seriously

I'd say that Sabine Hossenfelder is pushing an agenda and (say it through clenched teeth)


Excellent, patient and thorough debunking of Hossenfelder's infamous, poorly-sourced, biased and dishonest video on transgenderism. On a YouTube channel called eigenchris.

Rebecca Watson also has a good response to Hossenfelder.

I seriously doubt that, even should Sabine Hossenfelder be made to watch eigenchris' video, she would see the problem with her own claims on transgenderism, because I think Hossenfelder, like many people associated with the Intellectual Dark Web is convinced that she speaks from pure, objective rationality and only those who disagree with her are tainted by politics and/or ideology.

That idiotic, arrogant certainty is straight out of the Anna Krylov playbook.

Sabine Hossenfelder is (say it with a British accent) the worst.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

That gloriously woke Murderbot

I've enjoyed some science fiction over the years, usually when it is funny, like The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but I wouldn't call myself a real sci-fi fan.

But I love Martha Wells' series Murderbot Diaries

A huge reason is because it's funny, often subtley funny. For instance, Murderbot will casually remark, "six seconds dragged by." A little reminder that the character, as a cyborg, experiences time differently from humans.

I don't actually read the books, I listen to them on audio and the Audible voice-actor, Kevin R. Free, is superb in the role. He also does the voices of often dozens of other characters in a single book.

Murderbot is basically a super hero, but its superpowers are all strictly based on technology. The Murderbot Diaries are one of the best examples of the third of Arthur C. Clark's three laws:

 "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

If the text wasn't describing the technological infrastructure supporting Murderbot's actions, it would look like magic: drones obey its unspoken (but transmitted) commands; it habitually opens locked doors on ships, buildings, etc. (by hacking their security codes), while erasing all evidence it was even there; survives injuries that would kill a human (and which are repaired by robot-operated medical systems); needs very little air and no food; as well as its super speed and strength.

Wells typically describes these infrastructures in detail, which perhaps doesn't bother me as much as others because I am a technical writer and used to that kind of thing. Although I confess even I think, every now and then "was it really necessary to give so much technical detail there?" but still, I appreciate the tech detail because it really adds to the "world building" sense of realism of the series.

Murderbot's character is fascinating because of the tension created through the juxtaposition of its disdain for human frailty and messiness - it often observes that human habitats have "that dirty sock smell" while at the same time it feels compelled to protect humans at any cost, and often does so with lots of guns and violence.

But in spite of the gun-happy aspect of the Murderbot series, it is gloriously woke. In the societies described in the stories, jobs are not assigned based on gender, of which there are more than just male and female; most marriages are multi-partnered and multi-gendered; many, possibly most of the humans are described as having dark skin but there is no ethnicity-based caste system; and corporations are evil. Although even societies in the Corporation Rim seem to observe gender and ethnic equality and practice polyamory.

The sci-fi site TOR COM published this piece by a trans woman which makes interesting points about Murderbot:

For me as a trans woman, All Systems Red’s concoction of heartbreak and ever-present anxiety felt achingly familiar to me (even as Murderbot’s narration and dry delivery cracked me up more often than not), as I looked back at various pressure points in my own transition. The novella has a lot to say about building a personal identity on the fly.

In a different article, the same author writes:

ART—a Murderbot-derived acronym for “Asshole Research Transport”—is sarcastic; or at least Murderbot reads every attempt at communication as sarcastic. With the amount of processing power ART has, and with the fact that Murderbot is hanging out in its belly for the duration of a long journey, Murderbot is forced to engage with it. In a cascade of “oh shit” moments, Murderbot slowly realizes that ART wanted company on the long voyage…which is the last thing Murderbot wants.

As in All Systems Red, creating relationships in the midst of boredom, usually through the copious use of Space Netflix, plays a huge part in the narrative. It’s their shared enjoyment of Murderbot’s favorite serials that draws ART out of its shell (Murderbot notes that some metaphorical hand-holding is required when ART became “emotionally compromised by a fictional media serial.”). And it’s the way an unlikely friendship develops.

ART has no qualms about asking Murderbot tough questions. It’s difficult when you’ve worked hard to establish an identity, however fragile it may be, and other queer people start poking holes in it. Even out of concern.

“You will be identified as a SecUnit.”

That stung a little. “I can pass as an augmented human.” Augmented humans are still considered humans. I don’t know if there are any augmented humans with enough implants to resemble a SecUnit. It seems unlikely a human would want that many implants, or would survive whatever catastrophic injury might make them necessary. But humans are weird. Whatever, I didn’t intend to let anyone see more than I absolutely had to.

“You look like a SecUnit. You move like a SecUnit.”

To me this stung as much as anything I’ve read in awhile, because this is a conversation about passing. And you don’t really want to hear about passing from someone else who is in a not-quite-similar situation as yourself.

Another piece in TOR compares Murderbot to someone on the autism spectrum:

In The Murderbot Diaries, we follow the titular Murderbot: a security unit (SecUnit) living in a sci-fi dystopia known as the Corporation Rim, where capitalism runs even more disastrously rampant than it does in our world. Our friend Murderbot is a construct—a living, sentient being created in a lab with a mix of mechanical and organic parts. In the Corporation Rim, SecUnits are considered property and have no rights; essentially, they’re lab-built slaves. It’s a dark setting with a dark plot that’s saved from being overwhelmingly miserable by Murderbot’s humorous and often bitingly sarcastic commentary, which forms the books’ first-person narration.

From the earliest pages of the first book, I was thinking, “Wow, Murderbot is very autistic.” It (Murderbot chooses to use it/its pronouns) displays traits that are prevalent in real-life autistic people: it has a special interest in the in-universe equivalent of soap operas; it hates being touched by anyone, even people it likes; it feels uncomfortable in social situations because it doesn’t know how to interact with people; it hates eye contact to such an extent that it will hack into the nearest security camera to view somebody’s face instead of looking at them directly (which, side note, is something that I would do in a heartbeat if I had the capability).

On a blog review of one of the novellas, "Fugitive Telemetry" the reviewer says:

Interestingly, none of these adventure readers complained about the somewhat “woke” politics that Wells has been offering, which suggests nobody cares as long as the readers’ other requirements are met.
My guess: they accept the woke politics because of all the guns. 

Anyway, I highly recommend Murderbot. The next book "System Collapse" is coming out in November.

UPDATE: According to Martha Wells herself, you can pre-order the Libro.fm audio version (with Kevin R. Free yay!) now!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

P.Z. Myers bites back!

Excellent post on P. Z. Myers' site Pharyngula in response to the typically wrong-headed Jerry Coyne article in Skeptical Inquirer.

Favorite bites:

(Quoting Coyne): 3. Evolutionary psychology, the study of the evolutionary roots of human behavior, is a bogus field based on false assumptions. 

Great. On this one, he cites me directly as the purveyor of this supposedly misguided claim. I wrote, “The fundamental premises of evo psych [evolutionary psychology] are false,” which is accurate, I did say that. I also said a lot more, explaining what those faulty premises are… but Coyne & Maroja omit that, for some unexplainable reason. Instead, they come up with an anodyne definition of evolutionary psychology: our brains and how they work–which yield our behaviors, preferences, and thoughts–sometimes reflect natural selection that acted on our ancestors.

One problem here is that I agree with that sentence, so once again, they have invented dissent where none exists and have hidden away the problem with evolutionary psychology. The idea that genes and evolution have shaped our behavior is accepted and not at all problematic, but Coyne & Maroja assert that opponents of evolutionary psychology deny the role of evolution on behavior.

Bluntly, that is an outright lie.

They think they can get away with it because they’ve obscured what premises of evolutionary psychology I consider false. It’s a quote mine.

Where I consider evolutionary psychologists to fail is in methodology and poor theory — they take the unjustified shortcut of assuming any modern behavior is the product of genetic traits that were locked in place in the Pleistocene, and are always the product of selection, and that therefore any hypothetical selective scenario they invent is valid and worth publishing as science. They seem to be entirely oblivious to alternative modes of evolution, treating natural selection as the only significant force, ignoring the facts of drift and migration. They are masters of the just-so story, building hypotheticals about ancient human ways of life and ‘testing’ them with surveys of middle-class students enrolled in Psych 101 courses.

I do not deny that human biology and behavior are the product of evolution, but rather that evolution is more complex than evolutionary psychologists imagine it to be, and that the tools of psychology are sadly inadequate to address the problem.

What I teach in the classroom:

Every species is the product of a long history of evolutionary forces, and those forces involve more than just a cartoonish idea of endlessly optimizing selection. You’ve learned about nearly-neutral theory, about lineage analysis, about the mathematics of comparing traits (they would have gotten all that in even my introductory classes), and that accurately determining the evolutionary trajectory of a population requires detailed measurement and observation and rigorous mathematical analysis. Please do apply what you’ve learned to behavior and psychology, but do it better than the evolutionary psychologists have.


(Quoting Coyne): 5. Race and ethnicity are social constructs, without scientific or biological meaning.

Oh god, make it stop. Coyne & Maroja take a bold step in favor of race realism.
To be fair, they take a waffly stance, being ambiguous about how we ought to talk about ethnicities instead, about how many races/ethnicities there are, and how we can use race information to fine-tune medical treatments or even how we can solve crimes by reconstructing perpetrators from their genetic information (see previous section; no, you can’t). He uses these excuses to defend… Bo Winegard?
Indeed, even writing about this subject has led to sanctions on many scientists, who have “found themselves denounced, defamed, protested, petitioned, punched, kicked, stalked, spat on, censored, fired from their jobs and stripped of their honorary titles.” A well-known example is Bo Winegard, an untenured professor in Ohio who was apparently fired for merely suggesting the possibility that there were differences in cognition among ethnic groups. This is why most biologists stay far away from this topic.
“merely suggesting the possibility” is a curiously tepid way to describe a guy who openly describes himself as an “ethno-traditionalist”, “cultural nationalist”, and “racial realist” and who calls Arthur Jensen his “intellectual hero.” He’s a loud and proud racist who thinks white people are superior!

 Here’s how I handle this in my classes:

Don’t be a fucking racist goober. 
More seriously, in the last two weeks of my genetics course I gave the students a dozen peer-reviewed papers on how geneticists were addressing the issue of race, put them in groups, and had them give presentations on the papers they chose to discuss. Get into the literature, and you’ll discover most modern geneticists have little patience with so-called “scientific racism,” any more than they are interested in discussing “scientific creationism.” There are exceptions, obviously. Usually they’re posting on Quillette or other race-realist forums. Or publishing in Skeptical Inquirer or the Journal of Controversial Ideas.

The supposedly liberal Coyne is thrilled that his fellow race pseudoscience promoting ghoul, Andrew Sullivan, likes his garbage.

Jon Stewart helped Sullivan reveal what a right-wing reactionary ass he really is. Exactly reactionary old crank Jerry Coyne's kind of guy.

Oh look, racist Noah Carl is also a big fan of the sleazy racism of Coyne and Maroja.

Friday, June 23, 2023

The Republican Party - up to even more evil - aided and abetted by Elon Musk

From the NYTimes:
...Republican lawmakers and activists are mounting a sweeping legal campaign against universities, think tanks and private companies that study the spread of disinformation, accusing them of colluding with the government to suppress conservative speech online.

The effort has encumbered its targets with expansive requests for information and, in some cases, subpoenas — demanding notes, emails and other information related to social media companies and the government dating back to 2015. Complying has consumed time and resources and already affected the groups’ ability to do research and raise money, according to several people involved.

They and others warned that the campaign undermined the fight against disinformation in American society when the problem is, by most accounts, on the rise — and when another presidential election is around the corner. Many of those behind the Republican effort had also joined former President Donald J. Trump in falsely challenging the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

“I think it’s quite obviously a cynical — and I would say wildly partisan — attempt to chill research,” said Jameel Jaffer, the executive director of Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute, an organization that works to safeguard freedom of speech and the press.


Twitter, under Mr. Musk, has made a point of lifting restrictions and restoring accounts that had been suspended, including the Gateway Pundit’s. YouTube recently announced that it would no longer ban videos that advanced “false claims that widespread fraud, errors or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past U.S. presidential elections.”

Time to ship Apartheid Clyde back to South Africa.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

SOME MORE NEWS ~ Are Drag Queens Coming For Your Kids??

 I love these guys. I give them money on Patreon. You should too.

There's something about Cody Johnston's delivery that makes me laugh - even when he isn't saying something expressly funny, his semi-random delivery always sneaks up on me.

Bonus content: a thorough analysis of the horrible self-declared stochastic terrorist, Libs of TikTok Chaya Raichik from Katy Stoll who also shines in this episode as a drunk party girl.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Skeptical Inquirer joins forces with rightwing political operative Jerry Coyne

Well you would expect something like this from The Skeptic, which is owned by extreme race pseudoscience supporter Michael Shermer.

But I didn't expect The Skeptical Inquirer would join forces with reactionary race pseudoscience ghoul Jerry Coyne and some creep I assume he met at Peter Thiel's CPAC for racists, Luana S. Maroja, who apparently takes money from rightwing crackpot Peter Thiel's leading courtier Bari Weiss.

This is your brain on race pseudoscience

It should be clear to everybody by now that Jerry Coyne is not a scientist - he is a right-wing political operative, probably taking money from Thiel or Koch or some other racist plutocrat. 

Coyne went after P. Z. Myers, who is a scientist. 

Coyne's utter lack of professional and personal ethics was on full display when he made a presentation at Peter Thiel's CPAC for racists (featuring racist troll Amy Wax) and mentioned Myers and described him as a "blogger" rather than a biologist. I'm amazed he didn't repeat that in the article:
3. Evolutionary psychology, the study of the evolutionary roots of human behavior, is a bogus field based on false assumptions. The biologist P.Z. Myers joined several other critics of this field (once called sociobiology) when he asserted that: “The fundamental premises of evo psych [evolutionary psychology] are false.” Even social psychologists, who almost universally accept evolution itself, are far less enthusiastic about the idea that evolution explains important aspects of human psychology, social attitudes, and preferences.

But Myers’s widely accepted view is misguided, for the fundamental premise of evolutionary psychology is simply this: our brains and how they work—which yield our behaviors, preferences, and thoughts—sometimes reflect natural selection that acted on our ancestors. Nobody denies this for our bodies—palimpsests of once-adaptive traits that are no longer useful (wisdom teeth, tailbones, and transitory coats of hair in embryos)—but opponents of evolutionary psychology deny it for our behaviors. But there is no scientific reason for such duality. Why on earth should our bodies reflect millions of years of evolution while our behaviors, thoughts, and psychology, molded by the very same forces, are somehow immune to our past? The only way this could be true is if human behaviors lacked genetic variation, a sine qua non for evolution. Yet research has shown that our behaviors are among the most genetically variable human traits!

And so the “sociobiology wars” of the seventies, launched by E.O. Wilson’s eponymous book, continue under a new name, but the subject remains human exceptionalism—the view that we’re somehow nearly free of the evolutionary forces that molded behavior in other species. It’s true that the early days of evolutionary psychology included some “soft” research that proposed dubious and untestable adaptive hypotheses for our behavior, but now the field has reached an explanatory maturity that has to be taken seriously.
Coyne links on "misguided" to an article in - what, an important magazine on biology? Or a general magazine like Scientific American? No, he links to garbage Areo, which is basically Quillette light

This is a good opportunity to post again Myers' evisceration of evolutionary psychology, in a superb video.

Coyne mentions E. O. Wilson, who as we know, irrefutably, was a racist.

Now once Areo and Wilson are cited, you know that jaw-dropping racist bullshit will not be far behind. 

All the blather about GWAS and "individual differences" and how race is really really real is worth skipping because all you have to know about Coyne and Maroja is the way they describe career racist Bo Winegard:
But the central question about genetics in the culture wars involves behavioral characteristics of different populations and ethnic groups, with differences in intelligence being the subject deemed most taboo. In light of the checkered history of this work, it behooves any researcher to tread lightly, for virtually any outcome save worldwide identity of populations could be used to buttress bias and bigotry. Indeed, even writing about this subject has led to sanctions on many scientists, who have “found themselves denounced, defamed, protested, petitioned, punched, kicked, stalked, spat on, censored, fired from their jobs and stripped of their honorary titles.” A well-known example is Bo Winegard, an untenured professor in Ohio who was apparently fired for merely suggesting the possibility that there were differences in cognition among ethnic groups. This is why most biologists stay far away from this topic.
I really hope Coyne's problem is early-stage dementia because otherwise he has no excuse for being such a sleaze. 

First, Marietta College did not release a public statement about Winegard's employment status, giving Winegard and a network of right-wing racist allies a chance to spin the issue as Winegard, Champion of Free Speech

Third, Winegard isn't only a race pseudoscience ghoul, he is a neo-Nazi with dreams of national racial quotas.

This is Jerry Coyne's example of a poor abused martyr for science. 

What a horrible reactionary ghoul Coyne has become. 

And the Skeptical Inquirer is a disgrace.

UPDATE: apparently Skeptical Inquirer has been on a downhill slide for years now, I just haven't been paying attention:

On Facebook:

Kavin Senapathy is with Martina Fern and
92 others.

March 18, 2020 ·

I have an update about how the Center for Inquiry and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry have reacted to my recent Undark essay (https://undark.org/.../center-for-inquiry-race.../) in which I criticize their indifference to matters of race, racist pseudoscience, and the white supremacy among their ranks.
Wait for it …
Within days, they removed all of my Skeptical Inquirer articles and my Point of Inquiry episodes from their website...

From the Undark article:

Meanwhile, scientific racism — the idea that there are biological differences between so-called races, often paired with a notion that the white race possesses superior intellect — has made a disturbing comeback, in tandem with the resurgence of white nationalist groups. This revival of racist pseudoscience has prompted widespread alarm in the scientific community, including a 2018 statement from the American Society of Human Genetics that denounced attempts to use genetics to “bolster bogus claims of white supremacy.”

Two years ago, in an inept attempt to address the issue, CFI published a special issue of Skeptical Inquirer: “A Skeptic’s Guide to Racism.” The issue, penned exclusively by white men, demonstrated CFI leadership’s woefully shallow grasp of how racism works. In an article on “critical thinking approaches to confronting racism,” the magazine’s deputy editor, Benjamin Radford, referenced the view of evolutionary psychologist and author Steven Pinker that “the overall historical trends for humanity are encouraging”— a view that has been criticized as glossing over the plights of the most marginalized people. Radford’s contribution to the special issue also seemed to ignore the elephant in CFI’s room: He made not even a passing mention of the staggering racial disparities within his own organization — and within the very pages of the publication he was writing for.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Elon Musk: STILL a stochastic terrorist

Elon Musk is a menace to the United States and should be sent back to South Africa.

And Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joe Rogan should be sued into bankruptcy. They too are stochastic terrorists, using their platforms and their mobs of idiot fanboys to threaten the lives of scientists.


A vaccine scientist says anti-vaccine activists “stalked” him at his home Sunday after Joe Rogan and others, including Twitter owner Elon Musk, challenged the scientist to debate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccine proponent and Democratic presidential candidate, over vaccine misinformation.

Peter Hotez, a Houston-based scientist and pediatrician in global health, vaccinology and neglected tropical disease control, spent much of the pandemic debunking misinformation spread online about covid-19 and the vaccines targeting the coronavirus. He was also part of a Nobel Prize-nominated team of scientists who created an affordable, easy-to-make coronavirus vaccine.

Hotez criticized Rogan over the weekend as “awful” for hosting Kennedy, one of the country’s leading anti-vaccine advocates who has peddled false claims linking vaccines to autism, on Rogan’s wildly popular podcast last week. In response, Rogan publicly challenged the vaccine scientist to debate Kennedy, in a tweet Saturday that’s now been viewed more than 50 million times. Rogan said he’d give $100,000 to the charity of Hotez’s choice “if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit.” Then, billionaires claimed they’d give more money and vaccine skeptics piled on. Among them was Musk, who tweeted that Hotez was “afraid of a public debate, because he knows he’s wrong.”

If you are still on Twitter you are enabling that asshole Elon Musk - GET OFF TWITTER NOW!

I learned from Watson that idiot Michael Shermer was part of the idiot mob.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Happy Juneteenth!

Fellow Americans visiting Abe Lincoln on
June 19, 2023 at 8:19 AM
Today I went on a pilgrimage to the Lincoln memorial as a Juneteenth observance. Yes I know Lincoln had issues and faults in his opinions of Black people, but even Frederick Douglass, a sometimes fierce critic of Lincoln, appreciated Lincoln - and Lincoln appreciated Douglass - as recounted in Douglass' recollection of the reception at the White House after the second inaugural:

I said, ‘Mr. Lincoln, I must not detain you with my poor opinion, when there are thousands waiting to shake hands with you.’ ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘you must stop a little, Douglass; there is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours. I want to know what you think of it?’ I replied, ‘Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.’

When they get around to making a Juneteenth monument, I will visit that instead.

The second inaugural is carved into the north wall of the Monument. I got a photo of that too.

I think this may be the first time I've visited Washington DC without being part of a protest.

I'm currently reading a book that analyzes the second inaugural called 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Posthumous justice for the Philadelphia 15

From the NYTimes:

When they enlisted, the Navy had promised training and assignments that would lead to advancement, but the Black sailors soon found that those opportunities did not exist for them. They were forced to be servants for the ship’s officers, “limited to waiting on tables and making beds” as so-called mess attendants, they wrote.

For daring to speak out, a few of the men were jailed and all of them were kicked out of the Navy with discharges that forever labeled them as unfit to serve.

The plight of the group, which became known as “the Philadelphia 15,” faded from public attention as World War II erupted. But the injustice they faced, and the stigma their discharge papers carried, lived on for more than 80 years.

On Friday, in a ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, four surviving family members of two of those men, brothers John and James Ponder, accepted a formal apology from the Navy for the racist treatment their loved ones had endured as sailors aboard their ship.

Finally justice is done.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Conor Friedersdorf ~ Koch man AND Thiel man 💲💲💲💲💲

I've noted before that Conor Friedersdorf is a wingnut welfare recipient, spouting right-wing talking points while funded by Charles Koch.

But there's no law against taking money from more than one right-wing plutocrat at a time, and it looks like Friedersdorf has decided to throw himself in with the blatantly racist Quillette. It was credibly claimed that Quillette has taken money from Peter Thiel.


And speaking of double-dipping - from the beginning I suspected that Koch was in the financial mix for Quillette - and not just because so many Quillette authors were also taking money from Koch organizations.

So it's not just the Donors Trust-funded white supremacist American Renaissance reprinting Quillette articles.

Fun fact: Peter Thiel also contributes to Donors Trust.


I wrote to Friedersdorf about this, not expecting a reply, but I got one:


Are you under the impression that you get paid to go on the Quilette podcast? You do not. Nor do I make any money from the Koch brothers, one of whom is dead. 

I am paid by The Atlantic and by the Best of Journalism newsletter that I started. 

Thanks for writing, I'm glad to be able to correct your inaccurate impression.




So here I thought Conor Friedersdorf was offered too much money to refuse, but it turns out he's so unconcerned about Quillette's promotion of race pseudoscience that he's willing to do a Quillette podcast for free. I guess my suspicion that he agreed with Pinker was correct.

And I assume what he meant to say was that he was not taking money from Charles Koch anymore, since according to the American Prospect:

It's not just the IDW itself: Some of its key popularizers also get Koch funding. Bari Weiss and The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf—who has been one of the most visible defenders of Peterson in the mainstream media—have both received cash prizes from the Koch-funded Reason Foundation, where David Koch himself sits on the board of trustees. And remember “The Coddling of the American Mind”? Well, one of its co-authors, Greg Lukianoff, is the head of that campus free-speech watchdog, FIRE. That organization is funded, of course, by the Koch brothers (for good measure, the Charles Koch Institute also did a laudatory write-up of the piece).

The Atlantic is perhaps the worst offender. Last year it launched “The Speech Wars,” a reporting project that seeks “to understand where free speech is in danger and where it has been abused.” Even though the magazine had just been bought by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs and was seeing all-time high circulation and web traffic, The Atlantic solicited funding for the project from none other than the Charles Koch Foundation (the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Fetzer Institute are also underwriters).

I never used the term "Koch brothers" in my email to Friedersdorf. I wrote about David Koch's death back in 2019.

And as far as Friedersdorf's "Best of Journalism" newsletter - it's on Substack and I have my suspicions about that platform.

But I guess Friedersdorf is right, my impression was inaccurate - I had thought he was a financial opportunist, but now my impression is that he is a true believer in race pseudoscience.

And looky here - Trump's would-be enabler Damon Linker, "senior fellow in the Open Society Project at the Niskanen Center," is working for Quillette. I assume Quillette pays for articles, if not for podcasts.

Quillette was once considered an IDW publication, but it appears to be rapidly becoming the  publication of the American right. 

Another indication - besides the Donors Trust thing - how comfortable the American right and faux centrists are with race pseudoscience. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Biologist vs. Steven Pinker

Biologist Keira Havens has written a superb piece on the appalling race pseudoscience career of Steven Pinker. Well-written, well researched and even funny:
Gould wasn’t wrong when he said that the field of evolutionary psychology had some work to do in developing falsifiable hypotheses and considering causal factors other than biology (an issue it continues to struggle with today). But hit dogs will holler. Pinker rushed to the head of the pack to defend his friends, the concept of biological determinism, and the narrow, barren conclusion such dogmatic thinking generates. Enthusiasm doesn’t translate to expertise though, and Pinker reveals an inability to distinguish between origins and outcomes and a weakness for flawed studies, citing phrenology-adjacent work to support his arguments.

Gould responded:
If we define poetic justice as defeat by one’s own favored devices — Robespierre before the guillotine or Midas in golden starvation — then we might be intrigued to find Steven Pinker, a linguist by training, upended by his own use of words”.
Even though Gould passed away in 2003, Pinker still fights his ghost on the regular, probably because burns like that leave you scarred for life.

But my favorite part of her post is her timeline of Pinker's career. Of special interest to me is this bit, because I've been planning to write about this little incident for a long time and will, soon:
2012 — Pinker helps fellow hb-d member and holocaust denier Ron Unz tailor a critique of self-described “scientific racist” Richard Lynn’s work on IQ, emphasizing his openness to it as a legitimate area of inquiry. (arguments about who is the real racist get ever more surreal in these circles).
And here's a fun coincidence - in the next bullet point Havens mentions a conflict between John Horgan and Pinker and his gang:
2013 — Pinker, an advocate for the biological inevitability of war, coordinated with Wilson, Dawkins, and Dennett to urge that book reviewer John Horgan either denounce a book critiquing an ethnographer (Chagnon) and his writing on his subject (the Yanomami of the Amazon) or recuse himself entirely, warning that a positive review might ruin his career. Horgan, in conversation with Chagnon for more than a decade at that point, does not cave to the pressure, later saying “I’m only sorry that my review did not point out the irony that Chagnon — unlike some of his hard-core Darwinian champions and like many of his critics — rejects the view of war as an instinct.”

I was still working on my review of Darkness when I received emails from five prominent scholars: Richard Dawkins, Edward Wilson, Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett and Marc Hauser. Although each wrote separately, the emails were obviously coordinated. All had learned (none said exactly how, although I suspected via a friend of mine with whom I discussed my review) that I was reviewing Darkness for the Times. Warning that a positive review might ruin my career, the group urged me either to denounce Darkness or to withdraw as a reviewer.

I responded that I could not discuss a review with them prior to publication. (Only Dennett persisted in questioning my intentions, and I finally had to tell him, rudely, to leave me alone. I am reconstructing these exchanges from memory; I did not print them out.) I was so disturbed by the pressure from Dawkins et al—who seemed to be defending not Chagnon so much as the sociobiology paradigm--that I ended up making my review of Darkness more positive. I wanted Darkness to be read and discussed, to get a hearing. After all, Tierney leveled what I found to be credible accusations against not only Chagnon but also other scientists and journalists.
Demonstrating how accurate it is to refer to the race pseudoscience gang as a gang.

BTW - Edward Wilson is E. O. Wilson the indisputable racist and Marc Hauser was accused by Harvard of research misconduct. So he's a natural for the race pseudoscience gang.

It so happens that just the other day I discovered a video of a discussion on war for the now-defunct Philoctetes Society. It features historian David Blight, whom I recently mentioned for the first time on Pinkerite; anthropologist R Brian Ferguson whom I've mentioned many times; the psychiatrist, the late Dori Laub; and moderated by John Horgan. But I hadn't realized Horgan is a hero.

Thanks for your excellent work, Keira Havens.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

E. O. Wilson misrepresents his critics' objections to sociobiology

He does it for the Peter Thiel-funded Big Think.  A really annoying thing about Big Think content is that it often does not provide dates for videos.

While Wilson was misrepresenting his critics' objection to sociobiology, he was encouraging and agreeing with racist charlatan J. P. Rushton:
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!"
This is the essence of sociobiology - claim the current social hierarchy is the result of nature, and claim human races are different species.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Randroids promoting Charles Murray and race pseudoscience

I recently mentioned two Black intellectuals of the Left discussing the motivations of the Black people who work for the Right. Right-wing plutocrats are happy to shovel tons of money at anybody willing to promote their views.

Here's an example: Aaron Briley, agreeing with Charles Murray that Black brains are innately inferior to brains of other "races." 

The YouTube channel that posted this is The Objective Standard Institute, a bunch of Ayn Rand cultists - and I knew immediately that is what they are, because if you have even a passing familiarity with the "philosophy" of Ayn Rand, the term "objective" is a red flag. Ayn Rand called her collection of pet peeves and predilections "Objectivism."

I wrote a lot about Ayn Rand, her beliefs and her wretchedly bad novel "Atlas Shrugged" eight to ten years ago on my personal blog.

The OSI doesn't put Rand on the homepage, but it was quick work to search their site and find Rand all over it.

And here is Executive Director Craig Biddle giving a talk on the wonders of Ayn Rand.

And here he is having a chat with idiot Dennis Prager

Charles Murray is not a biologist, he's a political scientist whose entire career has been propped up by right-wing racist plutocrats. His goal is to justify racist practices as "science." As we see Murray doing a couple of years ago.

If Charles Murray had his way, it would be legal to discriminate against any Black job applicant on the basis of pseudoscientific, racist beliefs.

The Peter Thiel-funded Big Think can also be seen promoting Charles Murray here.

NOTE: Aaron Briley appears to be no longer associated with The Objective Standard Institute. I tracked down his Linked In profile, which mentions nothing about the OSI - perhaps he suddenly acquired a conscience? And although his resume lists him as Adjunct Faculty with Central Texas College, I can't find anything else online that connects him to the college.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Happy Loving Day

From the website:

Loving Day is the anniversary of a historic court decision for interracial marriage.

Every year on June 12th, it’s a global day of visibility, education, and community.

It's important to realize that WITHIN LIVING MEMORY it took a court case to allow two people of different ethnicities to marry in a state in the United States. 

Imagine believing that systemic racism, and the impact of a centuries-long race system, no longer exist.

Mildred Loving's arrest warrant is available on the New York Historical Society website.

The charge reads: 

...Mildred Jeter, a negro in the said County did on the 2nd day of June, 1958, unlawfully and feloniously did go out of this State for the purpose of being married to Richard Loving, a white person, and with the intention of returning, and was married to the said Richard Loving out of State, and afterwards returned to and resided in it, cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The case was not finally decided until June 12, 1967. Only 56 years ago. Well within living memory. 

Thank you, Mildred and Richard Loving for fighting against the insanity.

"An antiwoke organization implodes" - buh-bye FAIR!

“You have a lot of people with an extreme amount of wealth driving an extremist agenda.”

I was going to write about Jerry Coyne whining about the criticism of his little IDW grift perpetrated in cahoots with Quillette author and crackpot Anna Krylov. Best part, Coyne uses the phrase "Lee Jussim is an antiwoke social psychologist at Rutgers." Pinkerite has often noted the right-wing reactionary, vicious, race pseudoscience-loving loserosity of Lee Jussim

The second best part was when Coyne unironically describes race pseudoscience-promoting reactionaries Steven Pinker and Jonathan Haidt and Koch employee and reactionary Quillette author John McWhorter as "of the left."

Jerry Coyne and his right-wing allies live in a hermetically-sealed bubble.

Coyne was especially mad at P. Z. Myers, because Myers had this excellent response to the Krylov/Coyne grift. One of the best parts: "screw you McWhorter."

UPDATE: Myers responds to Coyne's complaints. Will Coyne ever stop embarrassing himself with his pathetic right-wing stoogery?

But there is much MUCH bigger news, which I found by looking at Coyne's website - the far-right reactionary FAIR grift "implodes!"

I had already noted how many members of the FAIR board of advisors were right-wingers, Trump supporters and Republicans.

The news comes from the New Yorker:

Professionally, Bartning had never worked on issues related to race or civil rights; he was an entrepreneur and investor who had helped American Express launch its online travel business and later helped lead the personal-care company E.O.S. One of his most recent ventures was a failed startup that sought to connect local farms with chefs. But he resolved to do something about what he was seeing at Riverdale—maybe even start an organization to counter it. He read an article in the Jewish magazine Tablet, about the rise of a new ideology on the left—a “mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality”—and another parent offered to connect him with Tablet’s editor and with the author of the article, Bari Weiss.

I had always assumed that Christopher Rufo was the real founder of FAIR, although Bartning had been given the credit, as I noted in September 2021

But as with so many horrible right-wing reactionary projects, this one is the work of Peter Thiel's leading courtier, Bari Weiss.

The New Yorker article demonstrates what professional journalists should be doing: getting past the lies. Although the article's description of right-wing extremist Peter Boghossian was unfortunately extremely flattering.

The article, written by Emma Green, mentions so many people I've discussed on this site for their connection to race pseudoscience and/or the Intellectual Dark Web: creepy Melissa Chen; Substack's Lulu Cheng Meservey, the awful former Quillette editor Colin Wright; Hoover ghoul Niall Ferguson; Angel Eduardo; Quillette author Glenn Loury; Koch employee/Randroid Kmele Foster.

The article is long but the gist is that Bion Bartning, who is basically a normie, although "independently wealthy," decided to wade into a culture war campaign dear to the American Right and the Republican Party - preventing discussions of systemic racism. 


“I’d say that, in the first few months of starting FAIR, I didn’t realize the degree to which this was being politicized,” he told me. “Getting this issue tied up in a culture war between two political parties is dangerous and could end up pushing things toward a more dehumanizing approach, because people get locked into their position.” 

Bartning's tragedy was that someone connected him to Bari Weiss - Madam Culture War herself.

Eventually Bartning achieves this insight:

“There are too few in the donor class who want to bolster moderation,” he said. “That’s part of what’s happening in our culture. You have a lot of people with an extreme amount of wealth driving an extremist agenda.”

Probably the biggest get of the article is the revelation of Weiss' coziness with Supreme Court corrupter Harlan Crow:

But it was Weiss, more than anyone else, who was clearly the group’s big draw. She brought in a half-million-dollar donation from Harlan Crow, a Texas real-estate developer who, ProPublica recently reported, paid for years of undisclosed vacations and private-jet travel for the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. 

Bari Weiss is, through and through, a right-wing political operative taking money from some of the most evil and crackpot plutocrats in the world to help the anti-democracy Republican Party make the United States a worse place, through the promotion of culture wars.

For me one of the best aspects of the article is that it provides a window into the Intellectual Dark Web Culture War issues factory:

Weiss had already been talking with a few of her friends about creating a new anti-woke organization. One was Melissa Chen, a writer and the managing director at Ideas Beyond Borders, a nonprofit that takes books about concepts such as liberty and reason and translates them into Arabic, to make them more accessible; she later described herself as a conservative who was forming her trajectory in “the anti-woke space.” Another was Peter Boghossian, a former professor best known for getting absurd papers about subjects such as dogs perpetuating rape culture at dog parks published in feminist and postmodern academic journals to expose what he saw as corruption in scholarship, and who has earned some prominence as a public intellectual defending free speech and opposing illiberalism. Chen and Boghossian had workshopped a pitch to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, for a project to create “a modern-day Death Star” to wage “ideological warfare” on the “enemies of modernity”; their plan involved writing coördinated op-eds and promoting anti-woke content, but it was rejected. Weiss and her friends also sought advice from Niall Ferguson, a historian at the Hoover Institution, about the best way forward.

Bari Weiss is truly a conscience-deficient individual. 

UPDATE: P. Z. Myers comments:

It does me good to see one of those hateful anti-woke organizations falling apart, but it’s also dismaying to see how easily radical conservative groups can suck money out of the pockets of the obscenely rich. I guess if you’re extremely wealthy you can easily throw a million dollars here, a half million there, as long as the recipient panders to the bigotry that comes naturally to bloated capitalist nepo babies.

UPDATE: Charles Murray is such a good buddy of Harlan Crow, he dedicated one of his more recent sociobiology books to him.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Gavin Wax & Amy Wax & far-right extremism

So it seems that Gavin Wax is a cousin of infamous racist troll Amy Wax, a speaker at Peter Theil's CPAC for racists.

Who is Gavin Wax? 

Well according to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Less than three weeks after the Mar-A-Lago meeting, a collection of radical right figures gathered at an event hosted by the New York Young Republican Club (NYYRC) in Manhattan. Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, Steve Bannon and Greene hobnobbed with #Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec, prominent white nationalist activists Peter and Lydia Brimelow, and an array of ultranationalist European leaders.

The NYYRC gala captured the dark mood that has overtaken a growing faction of the American right: one fixated on dominating enemies, ruminating on their own perceived victimhood, and weaving a reality in which dramatic action – including violence – is justified.

“We want to cross the Rubicon. We want total war. We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets,” NYYRC president Gavin Wax told attendees.

Peter and Lydia Brimelow are the racists who live in White Supremacist Castle.

One more connection between Republicans and hard-core racists.

Wax was in the news more recently for being fired by the Babylon Bee:
The Babylon Bee – the satirical news site under fire for its unceremonious, public firing of New York Young Republican President Gavin Wax – has finally actually sent Wax his termination papers, The National Pulse understands.

Almost a week after Bee founder Seth Dillon took to Twitter to sack Wax over what appears to be his support for Donald Trump (Dillon and the Bee are DeSantis supporters and have done business with the Florida Governor), the site notified Wax...

Imagine being so extreme that even Seth Dillon thinks you're too much.

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