Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Steven Pinker, Quillette, and the Trump supporter dark triad

Some of Steven Pinker's fanboys took offense over my connecting Pinker to various alt-right types.

But if anything Pinker continues to confirm his connection to the alt-right, such as his most-recent promotion of alt-right Quillette. But then, Quillette, fellow promoters of "race realism" are big fans of Pinker too.

Less than a year ago, Quillette's founder Claire Lehmann appeared in a video together with alt-right extremist Gavin McInnes in support of the alt-right's favorite victim James Damore. 

Of course Steven Pinker is also a defender of Damore, but he'd have to be since Damore's memo is simply a regurgitation of Pinker's own evolutionary psychology theories, much like Larry Summers' speech informing women of their STEM inferiority - at a conference on women in STEM careers - was.

What Pinker and his crowd represent is the resentment of white men, most clearly demonstrated by Trump voters, whom, a study in the news today indicates, are not worried about money but instead are worried about status:
Trump support was linked to a belief that high-status groups, such as whites, Christians or men, faced more discrimination than low-status groups, like minorities, Muslims or women...

But meanwhile Claire Lehmann's buddy Gavin McInnes is trying to push the idea that the real enemy is Islam.

The Trump-supporter dark triad in a nutshell.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Presidential candidates at Cooper Union

I was at Cooper Union - the location of one of Lincoln's most famous speeches to see Hillary Clinton deliver the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for Pen America.

Both the PEN official who introduced Clinton and Clinton herself referenced Lincoln's speech, which was a good idea. It was apparently an amazing speech and is given credit for Lincoln's successful presidential campaign. 

An eyewitness that evening said, "When Lincoln rose to speak, I was greatly disappointed. He was tall, tall, -- oh, how tall! and so angular and awkward that I had, for an instant, a feeling of pity for so ungainly a man." However, once Lincoln warmed up, "his face lighted up as with an inward fire; the whole man was transfigured. I forgot his clothes, his personal appearance, and his individual peculiarities. Presently, forgetting myself, I was on my feet like the rest, yelling like a wild Indian, cheering this wonderful man."
The text of Lincoln's speech is available online of course, and well worth the read as I discussed on this blog some years ago. I would really love to find a video deliver this speech with the barn-burning delivery I think it deserves. I found Sam Waterson giving the speech, but I don't think he does it justice. If only I could hire Daniel Day Lewis.

I doubt anybody could top Lincoln, but Clinton's speech is very good and she got off quite a few zingers against Trump. You can watch it here.

Everybody in the room of course would have preferred that Clinton joined the presidential brotherhood instead of Trump, but there is a sort-of connection between Clinton and Lincoln - she gave the Arthur Miller Lecture. Miller's daughter is married to Daniel Day Lewis. I love him, so much in Lincoln.

Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay and this first scene from the movie strikes me as the most Kushneresque of them all.

Lincoln (2012) – Opening Scene from LYNN MADSEN'S VIDEOS on Vimeo.

More on SPLC's article about the Right

In my excitement over the Southern Poverty Law Center's mention of Sam Harris I neglected to mention the Steven Pinker connection.

The article that mentions Harris is focused on pathways into the alt-right, based on evidence provided in an alt-right discussion group:
The two threads, titled “WHAT BROUGHT YOU INTO THE MOVEMENT?” and “Path here beginning from Gavin (McInnes),” asked posters to reflect on their own “red pill” narratives and provide tips for converting others. “Here’s the challenge,” a user identified as The Somalisher wrote. “Create a list of succession from the Alt-Light to us. I have friends who like Gavin…But I can’t exactly throw [Andrew] Anglin at them.” 
The user continued, “It sometimes requires softer steps to ‘radical’ perspectives.”
The number of times each individual or platform was mentioned as an influence was tallied, and those mentioned by three or more posters are listed in the chart below. Disconnected as they might seem, the most cited influences — the “politically incorrect” 4chan board /pol/ and the American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor — hint at two common paths to the alt-right: either through participation in the rampantly racist and misogynistic online trolling culture of 4chan and its offshoots, or through exposure to Taylor’s variety of pseudo-academic “race realism” that couches timeworn racist tropes in the language of science.
Within alt-right spaces like TRS, these two fibers of the movement are woven together — resulting in an ironic, meme-ified version of old-school race science — and embellished with antisemitism.
Here is the chart provided by SPLC below. It doesn't surprise me at all that many of the names who influenced those joining the alt-right also appear in my diagram Steven Pinker's rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections: Jared Taylor, Stefan Molyneux, Gavin McInnes, VDARE, Taki's Magazine, Richard Spencer, Steve Sailer and with my updated chart, Sam Harris. I find it especially interesting that Harris and Sailer have the same number of citations.

The SPLC is only reporting the data collected at this right-wing group, but Sam Harris considers reporting the data a sign of the "stupidity" of SPLC.

And of course science racism promoting ninnies like alt-right Claire Lehmann (also on my Pinker chart) are going to support Harris.

Harris's tweet refers to Maajid Nawaz who sued the SPLC for calling him an anti-Muslim extremist, but I doubt he believed he could win - the SPLC calling Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist was an opinion. And they have plenty of reporting about Nawaz to back them up. But even if they didn't, the fact remains that opinion is protected by the First Amendment in the United States. 

I think Nawaz's real goal was to hurt SPLC financially. Certainly his fans at InfoWars would love that. Back in 2015 Nawaz had no problem with InfoWars as Glenn Greenwald discovered.

Abbey Road cover photo outtakes

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Steven Pinker's rightwing, alt-right and hereditarian connections, version 2

I have added Sam Harris to the chart in honor of his shout-out at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The PDF version is available here.

Click the image to see a larger version.

The series on "evo-psycho bros."

  1. https://mcclernan.blogspot.com/search/label/evo-psycho%20bros

    What are hereditarians?

    Although right-wing and alt-right are fairly well-known terms, "hereditarian" is not and requires an explanation.

    "Hereditarian" - an advocate of the theory that individual differences in human beings can be accounted for primarily on the basis of genetics.

    Although in practice the term most often refers to racial differences, as discussed by Linda Gottfredson:
    Rushton and Jensen’s (2005) hereditarian hypothesis is that Black–White differences in general intelligence (IQ, or the general mental ability factor, g) are “substantially” genetic in origin...


    Other terms which are similar are "evolutionary psychology," "human biodiversity" and "racial realism." Related to these terms is "biosocial criminology."

    Steven Pinker

    Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research in visual cognition, psycholinguistics, and social relations. He grew up in Montreal and earned his BA from McGill and his PhD from Harvard. Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, to be published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.


    The Blank Slate

    Written by Pinker, published in 2002, this is the New Testament to The Bell Curve's Old Testament for hereditarians.
    Although Steven Pinker claims in The Blank Slate that he doesn't agree with the conclusions about black intelligence made in The Bell Curve, he has never to my knowledge explained why, although he agrees with almost every other hereditarian claim, the Bell Curve is wrong about that.

    ...Intellectuals deny biology, according to Pinker, because it interferes with their pet theories of mind and behavior. These are the Blank Slate (the belief that the mind is wholly shaped by the environment), the Noble Savage (the notion that people are born good but are corrupted by society), and the Ghost in the Machine (the idea that there is a nonbiological agent in our heads with the power to change our nature at will). The "intellectuals" in Pinker's book are social scientists, progressive educators, radical feminists, academic Marxists, liberal columnists, avant-garde arts types, government planners, and postmodernist relativists. The good guys are the cognitive scientists and ordinary folks, whose common sense, except when it has been damaged by listening to intellectuals, generally correlates with what cognitive science has discovered. I wish I could say that Pinker's view of the world of ideas is more nuanced than this...

Even newer at Quilbert - alt-right Claire "free speech" Lehmann wants SPLC sued

Alt-right Claire Lehmann likes to shamelessly proclaim that Quilbert is a beacon of free speech in the world.

In other alt-right Claire Lehmann news, Lehmann thinks that women are too stupid to handle engineering.

Here is what the Southern Poverty Law Center said about Harris:
The “skeptics” movement — whose adherents claim to challenge beliefs both scientific and spiritual by questioning the evidence and reasoning that underpin them — has also helped channel people into the alt-right by way of “human biodiversity.” Sam Harris has been one of the movement’s most public faces, and four posters on the TRS thread note his influence. 
Under the guise of scientific objectivity, Harris has presented deeply flawed data to perpetuate fear of Muslims and to argue that black people are genetically inferior to whites. In a 2017 podcast, for instance, he argued that opposition to Muslim immigrants in European nations was “perfectly rational” because “you are importing, by definition, some percentage, however small, of radicalized people.” He assured viewers, “This is not an expression of xenophobia; this is the implication of statistics.” More recently, he invited Charles Murray on his podcast. Their conversation centered on an idea that lies far outside of scientific consensus: that racial differences in IQ scores are genetically based. Though mainstream behavioral scientists have demonstrated that intelligence is less significantly affected by genetics than environment (demonstrated by research that shows the IQ gap between black and white Americans is closing, and that the average American IQ has risen dramatically since the mid-twentieth century), Harris still dismissed any criticism of Murray’s work as “politically correct moral panic.” 
For posters on TRS, Harris’ work blended easily into that of more overtly racist writers like Paul Kersey, whose popular blog, “Stuff Black People Don’t Like,” is reposted on American Renaissance. The site “really gets the noggin joggin and encourages you to search for answers,” one user wrote. Their “biggest stepping stone” was from Harris’ work to Kersey’s blog: “It was there I learned about race realism, IQ, genetics, bell curves, and the economic/political drivers behind the pushing of ‘diversity.’”
Presumably Claire Lehmann is just too ignorant to know how libel laws work in the United States, and too lazy to make an effort to find out. But in fact the United States actually does stand for free speech, and so there's no way the SPLC could be sued for any of this. Any more than I can be sued for documenting Steven Pinker's right-wing, alt-right and hereditarian connections.

Speaking of which, now that Sam Harris has gotten a shout-out from the SPLC I am now duty-bound to update my Pinker chart and add Sam Harris. Pinker is a firm supporter of Harris, which makes sense since they are at about the same intellectual level and support scientific racists.

Friday, April 20, 2018

So what's new at Quilbert?

Somebody on Twitter referred to the alt-right rag Quillette as "Quilbert" recently - I'm not sure if it was deliberate or the result of a rogue spell-checker, but I thought it was funny.

The news at Quilbert is that there is little new at Quilbert. In spite of professional author Jonathan Kay having become the Canadian editor several weeks ago, nothing much seems to have changed. Which makes sense since Kay apparently thought Quilbert was just dandy as it was.

I was surprised to see criticism of Kevin Williamson, but that's probably more due to his position being so extreme (he wants abortion made a hanging offense) even the Quilbert crew has issues with him. Well, not everybody in the Quilbert crew

But for the most part it's still the same old alt-right/libertarian Quilbert:
  • there is still an extreme gender ratio favoring men. Of the 24 items currently listed under "recent" only two are written by women. 
  • All references to feminism are anti-feminism. 
  • Many of the authors are grad students or amateurs, as when admitted conservative Steven Messenger reviews "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt. The review is a rambling tiresome slog. It's as though the review was written by someone with no expertise in psychology but rather might have spent his entire career as a mechanical engineer. Which is in fact what Steven Messenger has done.
Quillbert's James Damore and Jordan Peterson fevers seem to have broken, but don't worry, Quilbert still provides masculinity-panic content.

So much winning, Jonathan Kay.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I may have to go see this puppet show

Puppet Ayn Rand
It's been quite a while since I blogged much about Ayn Rand. I was on an Ayn Rand binge three years ago when I was reading "Atlas Shrugged" as homework for an as-yet unproduced play I wrote about Rand and her influence on Alan Greenspan. But once Trump came along the idea of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve being a former acolyte of Ayn Rand no longer seemed wacky and improbable.

But then I read about this puppet show which also features Noam Chomsky and Karl Marx and I am intrigued:
About halfway through the play, Musk puts a copy of “Atlas Shrugged” into the Print-a-Friend, and out pops Ayn Rand, wearing the signature dollar-sign pin she favored in real life.
Mr. Reyes read Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead” as a teenager, but unsurprisingly is not a fan, though he said he appreciates her theatrical qualities.
“She’s a great character for comedy because she’s a sociopath,” he said. “There are so many very crazy things she said.”
I believe she was more likely on the autism spectrum than a sociopath.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jesse Singal demonstrates once again he's a terrible journalist

Well that didn't take long for Jesse Singal to keep this going. I'm beginning to think that Singal is not only a really bad excuse for a journalist but a raging narcissist. Which would explain why so many hits on his name are people writing about him, rather than the other way around.

Anybody with a basic comprehension of the English language would understand that the reason I posted the link to the Change.org petition had nothing to do with any claims about Singal being alt-right. I never even used the term alt-right in the blog post.

Right before the list which included the link to the change.org petition I wrote:
Because it's possible that one of these days his editors will get tired of his habit of turning himself into the story:
How is it possible that Jesse Singal can be a journalist while having a reading comprehension issue?

Singal initially came to my attention because of his carelessness with facts - a trait you would think would disqualify someone from earning a living as a journalist. As PZ Myers noted about Singal's defense of Pinker:
Even when they vaguely puzzle out this point, Pinker supporters don’t understand it. What does Jesse Singal say in the New York Times? 
(Myers quoting Singal) 
The clip was deeply misleading. If you watch the whole eight-minute video from which it was culled, it’s clear that Mr. Pinker’s entire point is that the alt-right’s beliefs are false and illogical — but that the left needs to do a better job fighting against them.  
(end quote)
No. He clearly says that the alt-right’s beliefs are the fault of the “PC” Left, which says nothing about making better arguments to oppose them, and is a falsehood. His talk was about doling out the blame to the Left, not about fighting the alt-right. If you listen to the whole 8-minute video, what you hear is Pinker first saying that you can’t voice certain facts on campus, then stating those facts (self-refutation, anyone?), then explaining that his facts are more complex than he let on, which is what the college professors he’s blaming already do. But then this kind of disingenuous denial of reality, of focusing superficially on he said/she said note-taking, is exactly what the New York Times specializes in.

I said this at the time and today's exchange has only confirmed it: Jesse Singal is a lazy sloppy journalist and that trait is just as apparent in his tweets. 

Jesse Singal is still a lazy half-wit "journalist"

No surprise to see that one of the fans of lazy half-wit "journalist" Jesse Singal is right-wing Koch brothers hack Cathy Young.

I was amused to read the comments in this thread, although not because the commenters were deliberately funny. Much like Singal himself, his Twitter followers are, try as they might, wit-less.

Almost none of them seems capable of actually reading what I've written about Pinker and his evo-psycho bro followers, or understanding it. But then, you really can't expect intellectual rigor from people who are impressed by Steven Pinker.

It actually has been a super year for Jesse Singal - he's under-qualified to be a journalist and yet he gets paid to write. He should count his blessings. 

But maybe that's why he cultivates hacks like Cathy Young - maybe someday Singal will give up journalism, which he really isn't suited for, and get Cathy Young to help him get a career that does suit him - wingnut welfare. 

Because it's possible that one of these days his editors will get tired of his habit of turning himself into the story:
With any luck Singal will screen cap this too and post it on Twitter and we can keep it going - I'm happy to keep adding to the "stories about Jesse Singal" collection.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


April in Paris with Macron & Trudeau

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mon dieu, my heart can only take so much

My two francophone 21st century men together again. Oh lah lah!

How is it possible I did not know about this visit in advance?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

More pix of 21st century men

This cafeteria is where the infamous Cordon Bleu incident occurred. Please note the sign above Macron.

Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie

So many adorable pix of Trudeau & Obama - this is one of my favorites

Very recent Macron pic shared by his official photographer on Instagram

Friday, April 13, 2018

Tellement occupée!

I am so busy these days I barely have time to blog. I'm putting together a podcast associated with NYCPlaywrights - and if I get really ambitious I might do another podcast about my findings in the world of evo-psycho bros / bio-social criminology and their antidote, cultural materialism.

And since the weather is nice I have no excuse to NOT get out there and get some exercise & sight-seeing.

And then there are mes étudiés française. Actually I'm trying to combine my French studies with my podcast - I'd love to do some theater-related podcasts at least partially in French.

And now some French cliches in French. Also available in English.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Ma belle-fille est une star de cuisine maintenant

Je veux rencontrer le chef de l'hôpital de ma belle-fille, Bruno Tison, et m'exercer à parler français avec lui.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Stefan Molyneux, gigantic misogynist

Image from We Hunted the Mammoth
Dave Futrelle of We Hunted the Mammoth reminds us of what a horrible misogynist Stefan Molyneux is. So of course evo-psycho bros have appeared on his video channel - John Paul Wright, Brian Boutwell and Kevin Beaver and Richard Lynn, as well as Jordan Peterson and Michael Shermer and Ezra Levant. 

The only bigger Canadian misogynist than Molyneux is Gavin McInnes.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

More reasons why The Bell Curve is crap

By way of PZ Myers is this blog post by Mano Singham about the problems with The Bell Curve. Singham mostly quotes himself from his response to The Bell Curve in 1995.

This part reminded me of what I recently blogged about, Jordan Peterson and Conor Friedersdorf and Dunning Kruger - getting the dummies to believe how smart they are in spite of those damn intellectuals and liberals:
For the reader who does not share the ideology propounded in the book, another curious (and highly irritating) feature is the authors’ ingratiating efforts to co-opt readers into believing their thesis. They appeal to the reader’s vanity with statements asserting that the fact that the reader has waded so far through the book is a sign that the reader has a superior I.Q. Like many of the assertions in the book, one could quite convincingly argue the opposite.
Because hereditarians are mostly members of the "group" they, just coincidentally of course, consider the most intelligent, white men, they are therefore sanguine about the potential problems of branding various "groups" as less intelligent as we see wingnut welfare recipient Bo Winegard do on Twitter.

As Singham observed
'When all the dust settles, the authors of The Bell Curve are merely saying that the people and groups who dominate our society do so because of their intrinsic ability and merit, that this is the way things were meant to be, and that they and those like them should be benefited even more. When has it ever been an act of courage to assert that those in power have a natural right to that power? True, the authors were subjected to some scorn in the scientific community because of the flaws in their work. But facing those attacks does not imply courage. It takes courage to defend the powerless against the powerful; it merely takes gall to claim courage for defending the privileges of the powerful.

We Leftists don't disdain people who aren't intelligent, we disdain people like Bo Winegard who  presume to defend evolutionary psychology in right-wing rags by proclaiming the many scientists who criticize evo-psycho as "just-so stories"(including Stephen Jay Gould and PZ Myers) simply have "a faulty understanding of science" unlike him, Bo Winegard, "Professor at Marietta." 

I couldn't find anything via Google that connected him to "Marietta" which I must assume is Marietta College in George but really WTF knows? Winegard is off the Dunning Kruger effect chart.

Nobody is denying genetically caused IQ differences. This is the standard strawman of the hereditarians, conflating evolutionary psychology with evolutionary biology. 

Singham presents an analogy that maybe even a Winegard could grasp:
Simply stated, [Murray and Herrnstein’s argument] goes like this: If the variation in a particular individual trait is caused by genes, then the difference in average values of the trait in populations must also be caused by the genes. In the I.Q. debate, this argument takes the following form: variation in I.Q. among individuals in a population is caused (to a large extent, at least) by each individual’s genes. For group A, the average I.Q. score is higher than for group B. Hence members of group A must, on average, have higher I.Q. genes than members of group B. 
However plausible this sounds initially, the fallacy of this logic becomes immediately obvious with a little thought and the use of a popular analogy. If we randomly take some corn seed and plant it in uniform, rich, well-tended soil, we will get a distribution of plant heights whose variation is caused by their genes. If we take a sample of seed from the same source and plant in poor soil, we will again get a variation of heights that is caused by the genes. But the second group will have a lower average height than the first, even though the plants come from the same gene pool. This difference in average values is caused by the environment and not the genes, a fact known to every farmer. 
So it is possible to have a variation that is purely genetic in some trait within a single group, while the difference in average values of the same trait between different groups is caused purely by environment. For example, the variation in individual heights has a substantial genetic component. But in Japan, which has been a relatively isolated country, average heights have risen considerably since World War II, a fact easily explainable by better nutrition.
Bingham points out how poorly defined both race and intelligence are.
It is safe to say that, despite decades of effort by very determined people, we are not much closer to a definitive answer to the question of the roles of race and intelligence in the processes of social and economic stratification of society. All kinds of hypotheses can be invoked to explain the data. And this shouldn’t be too surprising. As I emphasized above, both race and intelligence are poorly defined and operationally ambiguous. When you have two variables that are ill-defined, it is asking too much to expect a simple relationship between them to emerge.
But of course if you are motivated by right-wing beliefs, like Bo Winegard and the people who publish his crap, you won't care about the inconvenience of ill-defined variables, you will simply hand-wave the problem away.

An then you will: declare the matter settled in favor of the superiority of white men; point out that just because your neighbor might be a member of the stupid group doesn't mean you'll hate him (unlike those Leftists) and; anybody including actual scientists who suggest that evolutionary psychology is full of "just-so" stories has a faulty understanding of science.

Unlike Bo Winegard "Professor at Marietta."

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Spring sprang in Central Park

Deciduous & Coniferous

These ubiquitous lamps in Central Park are not only light-bringing and decorative,
most of them have a little metal plaque about three feet from the bottom which indicates which cross street you are closest to 

in Central Park. You can see this one has one -you can click the picture to get a better look.

In Arcadia ego

Small piece of the Conservatory Garden - I arrived too late and it was closed. Starting in
April it stays open an hour longer so I'll be back again soon to get more pix.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Shit, it's Schopenhauer

I've always been conflicted about Schopenhauer with his tendencies to misogyny and anti-Semitism. Both those tendencies are not as simple as they have been represented, but still they are bad enough. And Schopenhauer is no different than other revered philosophers in his racism, even Hume and Voltaire were racists as Ezra Klein demonstrated in his recent take-down of Sam Harris.

But it looks as though Schopenhauer might have invented the Northern Superiority hypothesis, which I had previously given credit to Richard Lynn.
The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) attributed civilizational primacy to the white races, who gained sensitivity and intelligence via the refinement caused by living in the rigorous Northern climate:
The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer in colour than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Islands. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want, and misery, which, in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it all came their high civilization.[50]
Again, as I asked before, if their original climate was so nice, why did these migrants leave and go to hostile climates? The proponents of the Northern Superiority hypothesis never seem to even think of that issue.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Jordan Peterson and Conor Friedersdorf and Dunning Kruger

I found out thanks to a tweet by Tabatha Southey that Noah Berlatsky is creating an ebook which discusses Jordan Peterson. Berlatsky shared some of the book on his Patreon page. It's all excellent. This is how it begins:
 "Look for your inspiration to the victorious lobster, with its 350 million years of practical wisdom," professor and clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson gushes manfully in his best-selling advice book 12 Rules for Life. "Stand up straight, with your shoulders back." 
If that sounds ridiculous, it is only because it is ridiculous. To state only the most obvious problems, lobsters don't have shoulders. They are creeping arthropods with segmented limbs; they do not look like people, and none of their joints can be reasonably described as shoulders. Lobsters also do not stand up straight; they crawl across the sea bottom. Peterson refers to dominant lobsters as having an "upright and confident posture", but lobsters don't have skeletons, much less postures. "Stand up straight like a lobster" isn't even coherent enough to be bad advice, much less good advice. It's simply nonsense gibberish—and that's before you get to the assertion that contemporary lobsters have been around for 350 million years, which is about as accurate as saying that humans have been around for 100 million years because that's when placental mammals first enter the fossil record. 
So what does Peterson think he's talking about? Ostensibly, his claim is that lobsters live in hierarchical societies. Low-status lobsters supposedly have different brain chemistry from high-status lobsters, and that different brain chemistry affects their posture. From this, Peterson concludes that human hierarchy is natural, and that if you model your posture on that of a high status lobster, you will change your brain chemistry and be more successful. Shorn of the logical fallacy of scrambling cause and effect (hypothetical shouldered lobsters stand up straight because they are successful, they aren't successful because they stand up straight) the reasoning is the equivalent of arguing that sloth bears eat their children if the children are unhealthy, so human mothers should eat any premature children. The difference of course being that sloth bears are a lot more closely related to us than lobsters. They even have shoulders.  
I admit I didn't read much of Peterson before deciding he was a crackpot - I took a shortcut: I first heard of Peterson through alt-right Claire Lehmann interviewing him in alt-right Quillette. Actually I saw a tweet by Lehmann chortling over Peterson's idiotic impression of a straw-feminist which linked to the Quillette interview. If Lehmann thought he was clever, I assumed there was something very wrong with him. 

And there was, as P.Z. Myers soon confirmed in his two videos explaining what was wrong with Peterson's claims about lobsters.

But really, although I admire Myers' work and appreciate his generosity in giving his time outside of academia to make videos discussing evolutionary biology topics, with those two lobster videos he kind of brought a bazooka to shoot down a gnat. Peterson is so confused and so far from actual science his bizarro fantasias hardly seem worth the time of an eminent evolutionary biologist to debunk. On the other hand, Myers regularly tangles with creationists, so debunking bizarro fantasias is something he enjoys doing in his spare time. 

Peterson doesn't care whether he's right or not about the actual biosociology of lobsters, and his followers don't care. They want to strike out at people who are telling them that white men don't necessarily deserve to automatically be at the top of the world's hierarchy and Peterson is happy to give them smart-sounding ammunition. And by smart-sounding I mean in the sense of Tabatha Southey's Is Jordan Peterson the Stupid Man's Smart Person?

There are lots of not-very-bright people out there, although thanks to the Dunning Kruger effect they don't believe they are not-very-bright. In fact they often think they are very bright indeed, judging by the attitudes copped by Quillette authors. And so when a hack like Peterson comes along, using STEM terms and complicated charts and telling them that they are the smart ones, the philosopher-kings who get why the Disney movie Frozen is anti-male propaganda, they eat it up. And they just can't understand why these so-called intellectuals and those damn liberals don't recognize Peterson's obvious greatness.

The Dunning Kruger poster children don't write exclusively for hacky-tacky man-caves like Quillette. Here is Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic asking Why Can't People Hear What Jordan Peterson is Saying?

Friedersdorf believes the real problem is interviewer Cathy Newman:
Actually, one of the most important things this interview illustrates—one reason it is worth noting at length—is how Newman repeatedly poses as if she is holding a controversialist accountable, when in fact, for the duration of the interview, it is she that is “stirring things up” and “whipping people into a state of anger.” 
At every turn, she is the one who takes her subject’s words and makes them seem more extreme, or more hostile to women, or more shocking in their implications than Peterson’s remarks themselves support. Almost all of the most inflammatory views that were aired in the interview are ascribed by Newman to Peterson, who then disputes that she has accurately characterized his words. 
There are moments when Newman seems earnestly confused, and perhaps is. And yet, if it were merely confusion, would she consistently misinterpret him in the more scandalous, less politically correct, more umbrage-stoking direction?
It appears that Newman didn't do a good interview, but on the other hand Peterson is a crackpot. But Peterson's fans, especially at Quillette could not stop talking about Cathy Newman.

But although, as the Guardian described it, Quillette is a website obsessed with the alleged war on free speech on campus, I never heard about the threats against Newman until a recent Vox article about Peterson which notes:
When Cathy Newman, a journalist for the UK’s Channel 4, challenged Peterson’s arguments in a televised interview, she received so many death threats that she had to get help from the police. “There were literally thousands of abusive tweets — it was a semi-organized campaign,” she recalled in an interview. “ It ranged from the usual ‘cunt, bitch, dumb blonde’ to ‘I’m going to find out where you live and execute you.’”
Not a word about this from those free speech champions at Quillette. But then Quillette and Conor Friedersdorf were the ones telling their readership that Cathy Newman was a big meanie out to be mean for no good reason to Jordan Peterson. 

Friedersdorf is apparently still not ready to admit there's a problem with Peterson.

People can hear what Peterson is saying and as a result think he's an idiot, a charlatan, a crackpot and a hack. The real question - or maybe not so much a question - is why Conor Friedersdorf doesn't get that.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The question must still be asked: Why does anyone take Sam Harris seriously?

Sam Harris, like Steven Pinker is a New Atheist with a hoard of worshipful fan-boys. I am on the record disliking Harris since 2009. Including writing blog posts entitled Why Sam Harris is a second-rate thinker, at best and Sam Harris throws a hissyfit and Sam Harris is still a xenophobic bigot.

I've also referenced this article Why does anyone take Sam Harris seriously? many times.

But I've mostly ignored him in my evo-psycho bros series since he's been less obviously hereditarian than people like Pinker and Jerry Coyne. Well he's fixed that.

Recently Harris was sympathizing with Charles Murray, the heir to the racism-infused science of the Pioneer Fund, and got into a debate with journalist Ezra Klein. Then more recently Harris, like Pinker and Razib Khan seem to be under the impression that the recent NYTimes op-ed by David Reich supports hereditarian views when it doesn't.

Harris called out Ezra Klein on Twitter about the article.

Big mistake. Klein published this excellent piece Sam Harris, Charles Murray, and the allure of race science which caused Harris to have a meltdown.

It was widely agreed on Twitter that Harris made a big mistake in reprinting sans permission his exchange with Klein. It was left up to me to point out that Harris doubled-down on Murray's racism by offering as a defense a link to the Winegards article in alt-right Quillette "The Tale of Two Bell Curves" - I blogged about only a section of that article which took me five blog posts to cover, which can be read here:

Tale of Two Bell Curve responses:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hereditarians declare victory in spite of what David Reich actually said

I found it amusing to read Razib Khan suggesting that the work of David Reich is support for  Khan's own beliefs. In The National Review he writes:
Who We Are and How We Got Here then addresses the reality that large numbers of public intellectuals are extremely hostile to the idea that humans can be grouped together into distinct population clusters. In other words, since race is a pernicious social construction, population geneticists need to tread very carefully. Reich is frank that the time may have come to break the alliance geneticists have made with academics who declare that all differences between groups are trivial. He suggests that science is advancing at such a rate that we will soon understand the genetic basis of complex behaviors in exquisite detail — and that researchers should be prepared for the possibility that some findings will be discomfiting to contemporary sensibilities.
As always with hereditarians, Khan lies about "large numbers of public intellectuals" but then that's the purpose of straw men. Few people deny that there are ethnic differences but in order to paint the Enemy as anti-evolution hereditarians constantly conflate ethnicity and race. The only question is, are they too stupid or careless to realize that's what they are doing, or are they just weasels?

In any case, what Reich said in his NYTimes op-ed piece last Sunday is the opposite of what hereditarians like Khan believe:
At a meeting a few years later, Dr. Watson said to me and my fellow geneticist Beth Shapiro something to the effect of “When are you guys going to figure out why it is that you Jews are so much smarter than everyone else?” He asserted that Jews were high achievers because of genetic advantages conferred by thousands of years of natural selection to be scholars, and that East Asian students tended to be conformist because of selection for conformity in ancient Chinese society. (Contacted recently, Dr. Watson denied having made these statements, maintaining that they do not represent his views; Dr. Shapiro said that her recollection matched mine.) 
What makes Dr. Watson’s and Mr. Wade’s statements so insidious is that they start with the accurate observation that many academics are implausibly denying the possibility of average genetic differences among human populations, and then end with a claim — backed by no evidence — that they know what those differences are and that they correspond to racist stereotypes. They use the reluctance of the academic community to openly discuss these fraught issues to provide rhetorical cover for hateful ideas and old racist canards.
Razib Khan is on the record supporting both Watson and Wade:

But obviously The National Review wants plausible deniability for its long history of racism and hereditarians like Khan are happy to provide it.

And Reich agrees with what I've said about addressing hereditarian views: Reich wants scientists to fight against the Pinkers and Khans of the world:
This is why knowledgeable scientists must speak out. If we abstain from laying out a rational framework for discussing differences among populations, we risk losing the trust of the public and we actively contribute to the distrust of expertise that is now so prevalent. We leave a vacuum that gets filled by pseudoscience, an outcome that is far worse than anything we could achieve by talking openly.
The reason that scientists aren't fighting against hereditarian views is because most of them have dismissed them as nonsense. And scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson would rather not focus on it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Jonathan Kay declares his allegiance to the alt-right

Jonathan Kay was once an admirable journalist, but has been going downhill for the past year or so and now appears to have hit rock-bottom - he's decided to declare his total allegiance to the alt-right by becoming the editor of Quillette.

Jonathan Kay once ghost-wrote for Justin Trudeau. Now he's pals with former associates of Ezra Levant, the obsessed and conflicted arch-enemy of Justin Trudeau. How sad.

But o my prophetic soul: I was just speculating yesterday that Quillette might be the beneficiary of Koch brothers money - this adds even more to the likelihood that Quillette is getting wing nut welfare, if not from the Kochs then from some other right-wing plutocrats. Kay's star is descending, but he at least has had an actual career unlike the usual grad students and alt-right extremists and Koch brother hacks like Jonny Anomly who normally contribute to Quillette. I assume Quillette has to pay real money for Kay, although I assume the gig will be part-time.

Faith Goldy is one of the more
notorious (former) associates of Ezra Levant
Kay has already contributed to Quillette as a writer, and he's really the perfect editor for a rag with such flimsy journalistic ethics. At Quillette they censor critics while shamelessly proclaiming: Quillette is a platform for free thought. We respect ideas, even dangerous ones. We also believe that free expression and the free exchange of ideas help human societies flourish and progress.

What a sleazy & demonstrable lie.

But Jonathan Kay will go one step further - if he disagrees with you he will literally suggest you are insane. That's what Quillette means by the "free exchange of ideas."

But then Jonathan Kay knows who his real audience is.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Jonny Anomaly, Koch brothers hack

The Kochtapus
So it looks like Jonny Anomaly, like pal of Quillette Christina Hoff Sommers, is in with the Koch brothers.

After doing a little Googling around about Anomaly I discovered this:
Remember professor Jonny Anomaly? When faced with public outrage last September, he canceled his anti-public school lecture at a Koch-funded University of Arizona class in Tucson. 
Like Jack Nicholson in The Shining…he’s back. Anomaly will present “Public Goods and Education” on Thursday, January 25 at 12:30 pm in the Maloney Room, Social Science building 224, on the UofA Campus in Tucson... 
...The dark-money Charles G. Koch foundation donated $1 million to the UofA to create the “Center for the Philosophy of Freedom,” which is a think tank designed to turn students into future lobbyists for the right-wing, anti-education foundation.
It seems like wherever you find the Koch brothers you find advocates for racist "science." The Kremlin of biosocial criminology, Florida State University also takes Koch money:
Today, the Kochs’ friendship with Florida State University appears stronger than ever. 
An email written in September 2014 by Jesse Colvin, Florida State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy development director, indicates the Charles Koch Foundation is committed to funding the work of economic department doctoral students “during 2015-2016 and in subsequent years.” 
A series of other meetings and conversations between Hardin, from the Charles Koch Foundation, and Florida State University officials followed, documents indicate. 
In November 2014, Florida State University officials huddled in the office of newly installed university President John Thrasher for a meeting entitled “Koch briefing.” Schnittker, the university spokesman, said the meeting was an “opportunity for our new president to be briefed by university staff about a gift agreement that obviously preceded his tenure.” Hardin of the Charles Koch Foundation was not present, Schnittker said. 
Meanwhile, when officials at the Florida State University Project on Accountable Justice went hunting for funding, the Charles Koch Foundation factored into their strategy. 
The Koch brothers, after all, were telegraphing their intent to make criminal justice reform a personal priority, reasoning that “overcriminalization,” like overregulation of industry, is resulting in more Americans enjoying fewer economic freedoms.
As the Boston Review notes:
Thanks to journalists like Jane Mayer and Daniel Schulman, the unprecedented influence of a single family on the American political landscape is now widely known, if only in broad outline: the secretive mechanisms for funneling “dark money” make an exact accounting impossible, but in the twenty-first century, the Koch network has in effect functioned as a private political party. While simultaneously pouring previously unheard-of sums into Republican campaigns and turning the Tea Party faction into a disruptive force at the state and national levels, the Kochs have invested heavily in the network of think tanks and campus programs that would package libertarianism for policymakers.
I really wonder if Quillette is getting some of that sweet Koch brothers money too, with all its connections to Koch brothers hacks.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Alt-right Quillette, equalitarianism & the White Citizens' Councils

I was frankly surprised that I was permitted to comment in the first place on an article by Jonny Anomaly (I'm still not sure if that's a real name or a punk rock name), a some time co-author of evo-psycho bros Brian Boutwell and Bo Winegard in Quillette. So it was no surprise to eventually find that the interchange I had with him in the comments section of his piece in Quillette  What the Alt-Right and Regressive Left Have in Common was suddenly disappeared and the comments section closed.

No surprise at all from the alt-right gang at Quillette who like to pose as champions of free speech and enthusiasts of lively exchange. They are precious snowflakes who absolutely cannot tolerate criticism.

But onto the article. Anomaly cites one of the evo-psycho bros, Bo Winegard, also a writer for Quillette (where else?):
As Bo Winegard recently argued, many on the radical left are committed to a kind of cosmic egalitarianism which manifests itself in the religiously held dogma that evolution cannot have produced group differences in socially valued traits...
Actually Winegard doesn't use the term "egalitarianism" he uses the term "equalitarianism" with a QU in the article, entitled "Equalitarianism and Progressive Bias." Winegard writes:
Ben Winegard, David Geary, and I wrote a comment on a Behavioral and Brain Sciences’ article about political bias in 2015, in which we forwarded what we termed the “paranoid egalitarian meliorist” (PEM) model of progressive bias. I’ve come to believe that the name is inevitably and uncharitably pejorative (“paranoid” sounds bad even though it is descriptively neutral), so my colleagues and I have renamed it equalitarianism; however, I still think the basic model is accurate.
Bo Winegard didn't invent the term equalitarianism. The term was used, with just as much contempt, by the mid-20th century segregationists of the southern United States. Carlton Putnam used it, cited in the book The Citizen’s Council: Organized Resistance to the Second Reconstruction by Neil R. McMillen
Setting forth his ethnological assumption in an influential and widely circulated book, Race and Reason (1961), Putnam asserted that one need not have advanced scientific training to dispute theories of racial equalitarianism: “Any man with two eyes in his head can observe a Negro settlement in the Congo… can compare this settlement with London or Pris, and can draw his own conclusions regarding relative levels of character and intelligence…” That so few informed Americans saw things so clearly was compelling proof to Putnam that the nation had been victimized by a “pseudo-scientific hoax” popularized by such early exponents of racial equipotentiality as Franz Boas and several subsequent generations of like-minded anthropologists more devoted to “the demo-goddess of Equalitarianism” than to “the Goddess of Truth.”
Putnam had so much in common with the 21st century hereditarians.

The term "equalitarian" pops up quite frequently in this book, which is a history of The Citizens' Councils:
The Citizens' Councils (also referred to as White Citizens' Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist, extreme right,[1] organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954.[2] After 1956, it was known as the Citizens' Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States,[3] mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also opposed voter registration efforts and integration of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and violence against citizens and civil-rights activists. 
By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably yet remained an institutional basis for the majority of white residents in Mississippi. The successor organization to the White Citizens' Councils is the St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985[3] to continue collaborations between Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist political agendas in the United States. Republican politician and past Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi was a member[4] while North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Georgia Congressman Bob Barr were both strong supporters of the Council of Conservative Citizens; David Duke also spoke at a fund raising event, while Patrick Buchanan's campaign manager was linked to both Duke and the Council.[5] 
In 1996, a Charleston, SC, drive-by shooting by Klan members of three African American males occurred after a Council rally; Dylann Roof, the perpetrator responsible for the murder of nine Emanuel AME church members in Charleston in 2015, espoused Council of Conservative Citizens rhetoric in a manifesto.[6]
Many of the modern proponents of hereditarianism and opponents of "equalitarianism" come from Southern states and work for colleges in the South. Bo Winegard seems to be practicing a slightly updated form of old-time Southern white racism.

Carlton Putnam wasn't considered a crazy racist radical, by the way, he was extremely respectable:
Carleton Putnam (December 19, 1901 – March 5, 1998) was an American businessman, biographer, writer, and segregationist. He graduated from Princeton University in 1924 and received a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from Columbia Law School in 1932. He founded Chicago & Southern Airlines in 1933, which in 1953 was merged with Delta Air Lines. He would later serve as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines and hold a seat on its board of directors until his death.[1][2]
Here we see that Henry E. Garrett published "The Equalitarian Dogma" in the pages of Mankind Quarterly, the ultra-racist publication supported by The Pioneer Fund, which also financially supported many of the scientific racialists whose work was used in creating The Bell Curve. I've written about Mankind Quarterly in this series before.

The article points to IQ testing as the justification of innate black inferiority and rages against communism - just as the hereditarians at Quillette do.

The Mankind Quarterly archives are provided via The Unz Review - not for some historical edification but because Unz Review is a racist web site and seeks to preserve the views of Mankind Quarterly, which also published work by Richard Lynn, an important source for The Bell Curve.

Before my comments were censored by Quillette, the first of my exchanges with Anomaly was captured in the Wayback Machine. In it I point out the connection between Anomaly and Unz Review.

Anomaly does NOT challenge the alt-right in the article. Rather he focuses on anti-Semitism, no doubt because anti-Semitism is usually not something promoted by Quillette founder Claire Lehmann's old alt-right employer  Ezra Levant. Except when Levant supported Gavin McInnes' anti-Jewish rant which I discussed here.

But except for anti-Semitism (sometimes) and Trump, the Claire Lehmann strain of the alt-right is in agreement with every other strain of the alt-right.

The White Citizens' Councils and the editors of Mankind Quarterly would be very proud indeed of people who fight against "equalitarianism" - people like Bo Winegard and Claire Lehmann and Jonny Anomaly.