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Oct 06 2012

Jean Philippe Rushton is dead

In case you haven’t heard of him (good for you!), he was an academic who promoted racism.

In 2002, Rushton became president of the Pioneer Fund, which has for decades funded dubious studies linking race to characteristics like criminality, sexuality and intelligence. Pioneer has long promoted eugenics, or the “science” of creating “better” humans through selective breeding. Set up in 1937 and headed by Nazi sympathizers, the group strove to “improve the character of the American people” through eugenics and procreation by people of white colonial stock. Pioneer has financed a number of leading race scientists, lavishing large sums each year on those who work to “prove” inherent racial differences that the vast majority of scientists regard as nonsense.

He has died of cancer on Tuesday. That’s a rough way to go, and I’m sorry for that — but I regret even more that he wasted most of his life poisoning the discourse with evil racist nonsense.

95 comments

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  1. 1
    Marcus Ranum

    Slightly off-topic: I’m all for speaking ill of the dead. After all, it’s a good time to do it. I’ve always wondered how that “Don’t speak ill of the dead” idea got started in the first place. Fear of ghosts? Fear of some horrible tyrant that played dead and then revealed he was still alive in the form of a spectacular purge?

  2. 2
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Oh good news!

  3. 3
    vaiyt

    @1:

    It’s more like “the person is dead, it’s over, no need to spit on them when they can’t answer”.

    Of course, stupid/evil people die, but their memories and ideas remain, so I don’t agree with that. I’m all for speaking ill of the dead if it prevents other people from being like them.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    It’s more like “the person is dead, it’s over, no need to spit on them when they can’t answer”.

    Ah, that makes sense! You can’t train a dead horse!

  5. 5
    timgueguen

    Scott Thompson as Buddy Cole, commenting on Rushton’s ideas, although his name is never mentioned. Probably NSFW.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuLVv56YGXQ

  6. 6
    bryanpesta

    fwiw, the Elsevier journal, Personality and Individual Differences, has a series of in-press / peer reviewed articles celebrating his contributions to the field:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/aip/01918869

    (these are listed by date; as of today, the relevant articles start around #53).

  7. 7
    laurentweppe

    I’ve always wondered how that “Don’t speak ill of the dead” idea got started in the first place

    Probably by someone who got sick watching a cowardly bully gleefully bashing a dead person they’d never have dared to challenge when they were alive and capable of fighting back.

  8. 8
    Neil Rickert

    I won’t be shedding any tears for Rushton.

  9. 9
    alkaloid

    @Neil Rickert:

    Neither will I. I also have no trouble speaking ill of the dead, or for that matter being glad that they’re dead if I think they’re bigoted enough to deserve it.

  10. 10
    stevecrossley

    I graduated from The University of Western Ontario (now Western University) in London, Canada where Rushton was a prof. I remember the controversy at the time, and a large part of both the academic and student bodies were agitating for his immediate firing, if not execution. The student groups I could understand, as they tended to be single-issue focused.

    I was shocked however at the attitudes of the Faculty Association. Some seemed prepared to abandon J-P’s protections of academic freedom without seeing how that precedent could potentially affect their research programs and interests down the line too.

  11. 11
    Matt Penfold

    I was shocked however at the attitudes of the Faculty Association. Some seemed prepared to abandon J-P’s protections of academic freedom without seeing how that precedent could potentially affect their research programs and interests down the line too.

    I see where you went wrong in your reasoning. You confused academic freedom with the freedom to say whatever shit comes into your head.

    Can you explain how you came to make such a mistake ?

  12. 12
    observer17

    Curious that his critics can’t deny that his data was pretty solid and he continued to be published in top journals and publications.

    Whole-brain size and general mental ability: A review. International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 691-731. (2009).

    Rushton, J. P., & Ankney, C. D. (2007). The evolution of brain size and intelligence. In S. M. Platek, J. P. Keenan, & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Evolutionary cognitive neuroscience (pp. 121-161). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    Can you explain how you came to make such a mistake ?

    heh.

    I’ve met quite a few people in academia who figure the overton window needs to be shifted in the direction of academic freedom, so end up championing rather extreme and silly notions, just to accomplish that singular task.

    They love it when you argue with them about it, because it serves BOTH ends:

    -they get to move the window to the left(?)
    -and, in your responses, people get to see what the actual rational approach to educational freedom is.

    not attributing the current poster you are responding to with such complex motives, but it’s possible.

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    Curious that his critics can’t deny that his data was pretty solid and he continued to be published in top journals and publications.

    you’re sure about that, are you? that all his racist contentions were backed up by largely accepted experiments and data?

    methinks you aren’t actually as familiar with the literature on this subject as you pretend to be.

    as if brain size and intelligence were the ONLY thing this fool ever spouted about, and even THAT is far from accepted by the majority of the community working on the subject.

    that you can cherry pick both Rushton’s work, AND the peer reviewed lit says little except that you are likely fundamentally intellectually dishonest.

    I’d wager money on it, in fact.

  15. 15
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    observer has been here before playing this same game

  16. 16
    Ichthyic

    observer has been here before playing this same game

    ah. did sound… familiar.

    I suppose nobody will take me up on my wager then, since IIRC it already more than proved it is completely intellectually dishonest, and beyond.

    I’d say I was employing an ad-hom, but experience suggests accurate description instead.

  17. 17
    chrislawson

    observer17,

    Poor papers get published all the time, even in prestigious journals. The original Wakefield scam paper was published in The Lancet. I recommend you visit Retraction Watch and take a look at the journals these papers come from.

    Even so, I decided to take your challenge and look at the first of the papers you referred to by Prof Rushton. It’s free online here (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2668913/) if anyone wants to check it out. And it’s a terrible paper. It sets itself up as a systematic review, but does not describe the search strategy and actually states that no attempt was made to find unpublished evidence (crucial for preventing publication bias in a review). The inclusion criteria for the papers reviewed contains no test for quality: so long as the paper reported an association, it was included. Some of the correlations quoted are terribly low (0.11, for instance), and yet this is presented as important. The authors perform a meta-analysis using the wrong statistical technique.

    And they grotesquely misquote Darwin. Here’s their “quote”:

    Charles Darwin (1871) cited Broca’s studies in The Descent of Man to support his theory of evolution:

    No one, I presume, doubts that the large size of the brain in man, relatively to his body, in comparison with that of the gorilla or orang, is closely connected with his higher mental powers. We meet the closely analogous facts with insects, in which the cerebral ganglia are of extraordinary dimensions in ants; these ganglia in all the Hymenoptera being many times larger than in the less intelligent orders, such as beetles…

    The belief that there exists in man some close relation between the size of the brain and the development of the intellectual faculties is supported by the comparison of the skulls of savage and civilized races, of ancient and modern people, and by analogy of the whole vertebrate series.

    Note the ellipsis. Because the very next sentence Darwin wrote after the first paragraph is: “On the other hand, no one supposes that the intellect of any two animals or of any two men can be accurately gauged by the cubic contents of their skulls. It is certain that there may be extraordinary mental activity with an extremely small absolute mass of nervous matter: thus the wonderfully diversified instincts, mental powers, and affections of ants are notorious, yet their cerebral ganglia are not so large as the quarter of a small pin’s head. Under this point of view, the brain of an ant is one of the most marvellous atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the brain of a man.”

    And only two sentences down from the second quoted para, Darwin writes: “Nevertheless, it must be admitted that some skulls of very high antiquity, such as the famous one of Neanderthal, are well developed and capacious…” and then goes on to list other factors unrelated to intelligence that influenced the evolution of human brain size, such as the skull changes necessitated by shifting to an upright stance.

    In short, this is a crappy paper by a scientist looking selectively for evidence to support his racist, bio-determinist presuppositions. Rushton managed to get it published in a journal with an impact factor of 0.88 in a field that would be unfamiliar with the method for conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis. So, well done to him, I guess.

  18. 18
    shripathikamath

    Well, it is better than a racist is dead than alive. We did not even have to cause it!

  19. 19
    shripathikamath

    Curious that his critics can’t deny that his data was pretty solid and he continued to be published in top journals and publications.

    Well, he is dead, and he was a racist. If I have to live with the burden that you allege has not been met, well, so be it.

  20. 20
    laurentweppe

    @ chrislawson

    in other words, he was another social darwinist who quote-mined Darwin to make his prejudice sound all sciencey

  21. 21
    kayden

    Remember Rushton quite well. Was at York University in Toronto when his controversial theory that Black men had big penises and smaller brains than Whites and Asians came out. Can’t say I’ll be shedding any tears re his death.

  22. 22
    chrislawson

    @laurentweppe

    Yep. Darwin had a lovely way of writing by setting out all the evidence he could think of in favour of a proposition, and then setting out all the evidence he could think of against it. He tended to have a rather conversational style as well. All of which makes him ripe picking for quote-miners. You can take one or two sentences out of Darwin and make it look like he believes almost anything. One of the best giveaways that Darwin has been quote-mined is when the statement seems to be adamantly supportive of a proposition. Even the things he believed in strongly, he presented with as much counter-argument as he could think up.

  23. 23
    chrislawson

    As for speaking ill of the dead, I suspect the taboo is in place to protect the feelings of the bereaved. In as much as one does not want to upset people in the process of grieving I think it’s a good principle. But in as much as it allows the most appallingly noxious people to have their beliefs and writings protected from fair criticism just because they’re recently dead, I think it’s a terrible principle.

  24. 24
    kraut

    “He has died of cancer on Tuesday. That’s a rough way to go, and I’m sorry for that”
    why sorry if an arsehole kicks the bucket?
    Anybody sorry for Goebbels? He was just a racist arsehole with more power.

  25. 25
    PatrickG

    Anybody sorry for Goebbels?

    PZ invoked Godwin’s law with the initial post, did you really have to compound it? ;)

  26. 26
    observer17

    ***that you can cherry pick both Rushton’s work, AND the peer reviewed lit says little except that you are likely fundamentally intellectually dishonest.***

    @ Ichthyic,

    Do you hold the author of this blog to similar standards? He’s a scientist and cherry picks a quote from an obviously biased source. Also, contrary to that quotation I’m not aware of any evidence of what the majority of scientists think on his work. For example, I was quite surprised to find the environmentalist explanation of group differences was in fact the minority according to the Snyderman & Rothman survey. Three times more respondents favoured an environmental & genetic explanation. Is there any similar survey on Rushton’s work?

  27. 27
    kraut

    PZ invoked Godwin’s law with the initial post, did you really have to compound it? ;)

    Ok, not all racist are nazis, but all nazis are racist. I guess the comparison between a nazi rightwing racist and a non nazi rightwing racist is too much to bear for some.

  28. 28
    kraut

    Ps – I hope that PZ has more spine when opening a controversial topic than his so called co -blogger Chris who just runs when somebody posts contrarian views.
    Opening a topic that is inherently inflammatory and than hiding behind bunny rabbits is an act of quite astonishing hypocrisy and cowardice.
    If you cant stand the heat – leave the fucking oven alone.

  29. 29
    Ichthyic

    who just runs when somebody posts contrarian views.

    dude!

    you posted a cat murder-love fest, then told chris to go fuck himself.

    I’m hoping you just get your ass tossed in the dungeon immediately if not sooner.

    nothing you say could be of any worth after that debacle.

  30. 30
    Ichthyic

    Do you hold the author of this blog to similar standards?

    yes, I do. in fact we all do here.

    but what you’re doing is not comparable.

    get lost.

  31. 31
    observer17

    @ Patrick G,

    Jonathan Haidt’s work on demonization and sacredness probably applies here. They tend to inhibit free thought and discussion based on evidence.

  32. 32
    observer17

    ***in fact we all do here.***

    ^^ just as I was making a comment above about Jonathan Haidt’s work on tribal morality :)

  33. 33
    chrislawson

    kraut,

    Mentioning Nazis is not a Godwin if the mention is fair. The Pioneer Fund was founded by actual Nazi sympathisers; not only that, but enactment of Nazi racial and eugenics laws in the US was one of the two principle motives behind the founding of the Pioneer Fund.

    At the risk of quoting Wikipedia, “While falling foul of Godwin’s law tends to cause the individual making the comparison to lose their argument or credibility, Godwin’s law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent’s argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.”

  34. 34
    observer17

    @ chris lawson,

    One of the curious things is that research in the US swung so hard against any genetic interpretations that it became very difficult to get funding even for twin studies. For example Thomas Bouchard struggled to get funding for his twins raised apart study and eventually got funding from Pioneer. As far as I’m aware that study had stood up pretty well & there have now been numerous twin and adoption studies showing that a significant amount of within population variation is due to genetic variation.

    Thanks for the interesting comments above regarding the ‘whole brain size’ paper. I hadn’t looked through it recently, but recall they reported unpublished research from Ralph Holloway. In terms of bio-determinist presuppositions they do note environmental influences too. But those are fair criticisms.

  35. 35
    Ichthyic

    just as I was making a comment above about Jonathan Haidt’s work on tribal morality

    seriously?

    get lost, fuckwit.

  36. 36
    Argle Bargle

    kraut #27

    PZ invoked Godwin’s law with the initial post

    If one is discussing something where Nazism is pertinent, like a 1930s organization started by Nazi sympathizers, then Godwin’s Law is not applicable. Similarly, if one is discussing World War II and Hitler is mentioned, Godwin’s Law is not applicable.

    As chrislawson notes in #33, the Pioneer Fund has Nazi origins. Since Rushton was president of the Pioneer Fund, Godwin’s Law is not involved when discussing Rushton.

  37. 37
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    PZ invoked Godwin’s law with the initial post

    So by your incorrect application of Godwin’s law, even mentioning Henry Ford’s Nazi sympathies would violate it.

    You’re a moron.

  38. 38
    observer17

    ***just as I was making a comment above about Jonathan Haidt’s work on tribal morality

    seriously?***

    @ Ichthyic,

    Yes, I thought it was relevant. No need to get abusive. Read chris lawson’s post’s – they’re a good example of how to make critical comment in an intelligent manner.

  39. 39
    Ingdigo Jump

    *pours mountain dew on Observer17′s brain pan*

  40. 40
    Ichthyic

    they’re a good example of how to make critical comment in an intelligent manner.

    but they’re entirely wasted on you.

  41. 41
    im

    Goood riddance.

    Especially, because being a racist promoting a false view of eugenics that assumed whites to be objectively superior, he is part of the reason nobody accepts eugenics as a good idea and assumes it is based on racism.

  42. 42
    Ingdigo Jump

    @im

    Eugenics is still a stupid idea for a host of other reasons.

  43. 43
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    he is part of the reason nobody accepts eugenics as a good idea

    Wut

  44. 44
    Ingdigo Jump

    Seriously, even form a practical point of view, in a world where everyone else is looking at possible GM or gene therapy, talking about improving humanity by selective breeding is like blaming Henry Ford for no one taking Stage Coaches seriously.

  45. 45
    observer17

    @ im,

    I thought he found East Asians to be “objectively superior”?

    Also, I’m not sure what you mean by eugenics? Are you suggesting that traits like intelligence and height aren’t partially heritable? What are your thoughts on this MIT lecture by Professor Robert Weinberg?

    http://infoproc.blogspot.co.nz/2011/05/forbidden-thoughts.html

  46. 46
    Ingdigo Jump

    Oh look Im, one of those racists wants to talk eugenics with you. You must be so proud

  47. 47
    observer17

    #46,

    Classic.

  48. 48
    PatrickG

    So by your incorrect application of Godwin’s law, even mentioning Henry Ford’s Nazi sympathies would violate it.

    You’re a moron.

    No, I tried to make a snide comment with the intent of silly humor. Obviously didn’t work. C’est la vie.

    But I really should have realized that any incorrect citation of Godwin’s Law would rile you up. What a failure on my part! What an unexcusable, intolerable error! With abject humility, I throw myself at your feet and beg apologies for the grievous error I made in a throwaway comment in a blog comment section! O Chimp, my laments shall fill the night!

    Sheesh.

    I highly recommend having a medical professional remove that stick from your ass. Might require surgery, since it really does seem to chafe.

  49. 49
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Observer

    Inane

  50. 50
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Patrik G

    What ever did Pharyngula do before we got our own Weasly?

  51. 51
    PatrickG

    @ Ing: Couldn’t tell you, not familiar with your reference.

  52. 52
    Ichthyic

    Seriously, even form a practical point of view, in a world where everyone else is looking at possible GM or gene therapy, talking about improving humanity by selective breeding is like blaming Henry Ford for no one taking Stage Coaches seriously.

    I’m definitely looking forward to splicing genes for chromatophores into myself someday.

    I’ll be a walking talking mood ring.

  53. 53
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Ichthyic

    And on that mythical day, I shale, I promise, invite you to join my poker game

  54. 54
    Ichthyic

    I promise, invite you to join my poker game

    but I’m already terrible at poker.

    why wait?

    :)

  55. 55
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I highly recommend having a medical professional remove that stick from your ass. Might require surgery, since it really does seem to chafe.

    Sorry, you’ll have to forgive my reading of Kraut’s post 27 and lack of block quoting, and not having read up a few to see yours, as if he was saying it, and being serious.

  56. 56
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I was incorrectly responding to him and not you.

    That’s what I get for reading and posting from an iPad.

  57. 57
    observer17

    @ Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”,

    That’s probably an accurate way to describe your comment. I was trying to be polite.

  58. 58
    Ingdigo Jump

    Obvious troll is obvious, someone do a clean up

  59. 59
    Ichthyic

    That’s probably an accurate way to describe your comment

    I see.

    so, on the one hand you expect “intelligent responses”, and on the other you offer… “I know you are but what am I”.

    just…

    leave.

  60. 60
    observer17

    I was responding in kind. As noted above, the comments suggesting I leave mesh with my observation you think this is a tribe. Apparently I don’t share your sacred values so you’re showering me with abuse.

    Note this is a Freethoughtblog. Grow up.

  61. 61
    Ingdigo Jump

    @observer

    Yes you’re correct. You don’t have basic humanist values of honesty, intelligence and tolerance. You can contribute nothing and are not wanted.

    Note this is a Freethought Blog, not Free Thought Blog.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but not to have anyone listen.

  62. 62
    PatrickG

    @ Rev. BigDumbChimp:

    Sorry to be so snarky in return to you! Carry on.

  63. 63
    Ingdigo Jump

    Seriously observer going into some place and walking up to someone and announcing ‘objectively I think science shows you’re a degenerate inferior because of some racist psuedoscience bullshit’ and having people get mad at you don’t mean it’s a tribe.

    I imagine you get kicked out of a lot of “tribes”

    This “tribe” thing is a defense mechanism you’ve developed to avoid facing the reality. it is you. People don’t like you.

  64. 64
    Ingdigo Jump

    If anyone missed my brain pan joke before, in MST3K there was a race of “superior” beings called Observers that walked around with their brains in pans. They constantly made claims of superiority and and intellectual greatness while never being able to back it up and being constantly outwitted. I thought his name was apt for someone who has removed their mind and thinks everyone else is beneath them

  65. 65
    Ichthyic

    As noted above, the comments suggesting I leave mesh with my observation you think this is a tribe.

    you’re still free to think whatever you want.

    it’s just that nobody cares, because you’re a moron.

    *shrug*

    you’d be doing yourself a favor by simply leaving before you get tossed, but I doubt you will.

  66. 66
    observer17

    What are your views on Peter Singer’s “A Darwinian Left”? I suppose he’s not intelligent, humanist or tolerant?

  67. 67
    Ingdigo Jump

    But Ichthy, that would remove his sense of smug superiority from those phebs having to ban him because they couldn’t handle the truth!

  68. 68
    Ichthyic

    If anyone missed my brain pan joke before, in MST3K there was a race of “superior” beings called Observers that walked around with their brains in pans.

    for some reason, i always thought that was a rip on that old star trek episode

  69. 69
    Ichthyic

    I suppose he’s not intelligent, humanist or tolerant?

    If Singer came here I’d be happy to discuss his book with him.

    You, OTOH…

  70. 70
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Observer

    I can’t comment, I havn’t read it.

    Looking over the synopsis it seems to be an argument that the Left has rejected/misunderstood Darwing (lol what?) and rejected him while evolutionary science and fitness can actually make their ideology realizable because co-operative societies are fit.

    I doubt I’d be likely to read it from the blurb because I don’t seem to be the target audience so it’s more of a “yeah duh” argument.

    And it has nothing to do with you seemingly. The idea of race and racism is scientifically invalid the suggestion that Singer in this case is akin to a neo-confederate proping up bullshit racialism is absurd.

  71. 71
    observer17

    ***sense of smug superiority from those phebs having ***

    Have you read your own posts?

  72. 72
    Ingdigo Jump

    for some reason, i always thought that was a rip on that old star trek episode

    They’re a parody of the Q I believe. Supposedly omnipotent

  73. 73
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Observer

    I’m sorry you’re confused. Feeling superior to YOU doesn’t mean I feel superior to everyone. I don’t have to think I’m Ghandi to think I’m better than the low bar you set

  74. 74
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Have you read your own posts?

    Have you?

  75. 75
    Ingdigo Jump

    Observer’s obvious insecurity with their intelligence isn’t surprising (touched a nerve have I?). The racist view is comforting to such people. No matter how bad I am at least I’m better than *blank*

  76. 76
    Ingdigo Jump

    On a side note Pinker and Singer on this issue with their instance that the Left feels “a recognition of human nature is incompatible with progressive ideals…” is baffling to me.

    Hell what is the progressive views on economics, welfare and prison reform if not an attempt to engineer away unpleasantness caused by human nature?

  77. 77
    myeck waters

    Damn, racists are as boring and predictable as YECs.

  78. 78
    Ichthyic

    Have you read your own posts?

    as if on cue, we get yet another “I know you are but what am I”

    such valuable and precious commentary, there, cupcake.

  79. 79
    observer17

    ***On a side note Pinker and Singer on this issue with their instance that the Left feels “a recognition of human nature is incompatible with progressive ideals…” is baffling to me.

    Hell what is the progressive views on economics, welfare and prison reform if not an attempt to engineer away unpleasantness caused by human nature?***

    # 76,

    That is true. Although there is a good argument by George Monbiot on how libertarianism/pure free market approaches are inconsistent with human nature (in response to Matt Ridley). Monbiot writes:

    “Dr Ridley and I have the same view of human nature: we are inherently selfish. But the question is whether or not this nature is subject to the conditions that prevailed during our evolutionary history. I believe that they have changed: we can no longer be scrutinised and held to account by a small community. We need governments to fill the regulatory role vacated when our tiny clans dissolved….

    Wherever modern humans, living outside the narrow social mores of the clan, are allowed to pursue their genetic interests without constraint, they will hurt other people. They will grab other people’s resources, they will dump their waste in other people’s habitats, they will cheat, lie, steal and kill. And if they have power and weapons, no one will be able to stop them except those with more power and better weapons. Our genetic inheritance makes us smart enough to see that when the old society breaks down, we should appease those who are more powerful than ourselves, and exploit those who are less powerful. The survival strategies which once ensured cooperation among equals now ensure subservience to those who have broken the social contract.

    The democratic challenge, which becomes ever more complex as the scale of human interactions increases, is to mimic the governance system of the small hominid troop. We need a state that rewards us for cooperating and punishes us for cheating and stealing. At the same time we must ensure that the state is also treated like a member of the hominid clan and punished when it acts against the common good. Human welfare, just as it was a million years ago, is guaranteed only by mutual scrutiny and regulation.”

    http://www.monbiot.com/2007/10/23/libertarians-are-the-true-social-parasites/

  80. 80
    Ichthyic

    oh god, now you’ve done it. you encouraged it ever so slightly.

    well, it’s all yours now, Ing.

    *hands over mop and bucket*

  81. 81
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Observer

    What now you’re trying to talk to me like a real boy? Go away kid your bothering me. I put my question over in Thunderdome where I can hope for someone here with better expertise in that issue than me to share thoughts.

  82. 82
    observer17

    Fair enough. I’ll just say that you want a good discussion of evolutionary psychology in the context of progressive v conservative views, I’d recommend Eric Beinhocker’s chapter on “politics & policy: the end of left versus right” in ‘The Origin of Wealth’.

  83. 83
    Ichthyic

    kthxbye

  84. 84
    oursally

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum. Do not speak ill of the dead.

    The theory was that the evil spirits of the dead people would come back and get you. In some cultures you couldn’t speak their names at all because it would attract them. For the same reason people change their appearance after someone dies (black clothes, ashes in face) – so the ghost can’t recognise them.

  85. 85
    Anri

    Eugenic review of the commenters in this thread has determined that Intelligence is sufficient for baseline operations. Unfortunately, Empathy for Fellow Humankind is low and must therefore be enhanced.

    We await certain volunteers in the Death Chambers. Those lacking in Empathy that do not volunteer will be judged lacking in sufficient Intelligence as well and be Reprocessed With Extreme Prejudice.

    That is all, carry on.

  86. 86
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’ll just say that you want a good discussion of evolutionary psychology

    There is no such animal. Nothing but fantasy.

  87. 87
    blf

    You can’t train a dead horse!

    Volts. Lots and lots of volts.

    Just have a fire extinguisher handy.

  88. 88
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Nerd

    I’ll just say that you want a good discussion of evolutionary psychology

    I disagree. I point out that i had a very good evopsyche class in uni that did have good discussions. True a lot of the good research done were by anthropologists, neurosciences and sociologists/psychologists rather than straight evopsyche but it’s wrong to just dismiss the discussion. The biggest problem I have with the evopsyche approach is that I’m not sure what it brings to the table. The exact origins of observed phenomena often can’t be demonstrated (hence the criticism of just-so stories) and any of the real useful stuff on connecting behavior to biology probably would come from neuroscience. Additionally, I feel that evopsyche can be a lot like the Mona Lisa recreation, an interesting question but one that doesn’t seem likely to be very helpful; how we work is more useful than why we work.

    TLDR: some things of evopsyche and the discussions are good, but the problem comes from looking at X because of Y which often requires undue simplification or unverifiable results/assumptions. The particularly bad evopsyche comes from people doing that while being historically/socially/anthropologically illiterate and not thinking to first check if the phenomena they seek to explain actually exists

  89. 89
    Ichthyic

    The theory was that the evil spirits of the dead people would come back and get you.

    Spirits of people like Rushton must be even busier in death than in life then.

  90. 90
    Ichthyic

    The particularly bad evopsyche comes from people doing that while being historically/socially/anthropologically illiterate and not thinking to first check if the phenomena they seek to explain actually exists

    btw, this was my criticism of ALL of Francis Collins objections to evolutionary biology being able to explain behavior, especially those found in his book, which otherwise was a decent enough treatise on how modern genetics (especially the human genome project) supported evolution.

    so, it goes both ways:

    ignorance sustains just as many REJECTIONS of evolution and selection being able to explain things as it does uncritical acceptance.

    This also, btw, spins off into the major objections to Gould’s old “Spandrels” paper.

  91. 91
    samson202

    Frank Miele, Senior Editor of Skeptic, also has Pioneer Fund connections, and a long history of promoting scientific racism. Other than John Lynch , I haven’t seen anyone in the skeptic/freethought movement point this out, much less find any fault with it. I find this deeply troubling.

  92. 92
    myeck waters

    Where there you go, samson. It’s troubling to you? There’s a cause you can work on. Maybe start a blog documenting the case against Miele? It just rings suspiciously like concern trolling when you choose to mention it in a thread about someone else.

  93. 93
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Possible, but it doesn’t read that way to me. This is after all a thread mentioning the Pioneer Fund.

    So I’m going with:

    Good comment, samson202. I’m glad to have that brought to my attention.

  94. 94
    im

    “Seriously, even form a practical point of view, in a world where everyone else is looking at possible GM or gene therapy, talking about improving humanity by selective breeding is like blaming Henry Ford for no one taking Stage Coaches seriously.”

    Actually not. GM or gene therapy of humans gets tarred with the eugenics brush. These idiots made a whole swath of transhumanism risky territory.

  95. 95
    georgebean

    Now news is beginning to trickle out that Arthur Jensen, too, has died Oct 22.

    He is a far more complicated man to come to grips with than Rushton. My take reading about him from friends and foes alike who knew him is that he was a decent and honest (although biased, as we all are, to opinions that cost us dearly, no matter how innocent or well meaning the intent). But he was gifted (and he was) with a “quant type brain”–and shortchanged when it comes to the imagination necessary to, critically thinking-wise, appropriately contextualize his numbers to the intricately complex cultures and subcultures underpinning the data. Numbers made too much sense to him, so that he spent the greater part of his career validating his formative conclusions and debunking his clumsier or poorly quantified critics, while at the same time he seemed to minimize or was otherwise oblivious how hereditarian theories about IQ determinism, social mobility, etc, were to be disproven in his own lifetime.

    He was also shortchanged in the “clue” department. Nobody with a “clue” would have thought they could invoke the volatile notion of “dysgenics” in the same, however well intended, argument that “different learning styles” gleaned from IQ tests should be respected, not obscured, by demographic politics. Nobody with a “clue” would have thought that Pioneer Funded research was better than nothing. And finally, nobody with a “clue” would have co-authored with nor lent their legitimacy to Rushton. Rushton was in a myriad of ways, the anti-Jensen, and no “clue” Jensen seems never to have grasped this.

    A Jensen / Flynn co-authorship might have been a scientifically electric catalyst to the Bigger Thinking needed to analyze underachievement. It’s a tragedy to Jensen that his findings are linked to Rushton and The Pioneer Fund instead.

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