If you ever doubted that Steven Pinker’s sympathies lie with the alt-right


Just watch this clip.

He starts out by explaining that the alt-right are highly literate, highly intelligent people who have been radicalized by exposure to true statements that have never been voiced on college campuses. You see, once Leftist dogma has been exposed as a falsehood, these bright young people just take the red pill and veer way off in the opposite direction.

You might be wondering, as I was, what were these True Facts that have triggered the defection of these brilliant students from progressive causes? Give me specific examples! He obliges.

  • Capitalist societies are better than communist ones. How odd. I don’t see anyone insisting on that: instead, I see a lot of academics who point out the flaws in capitalism, which, apparently, are lies and don’t exist. Then he makes it worse by using as more specific examples the difference between North and South Korea (I’ve never met anyone who thinks North Korea is a better place to live than South Korea.) or between East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall. You will rarely encounter a more pure and absolutely dishonest straw man.

    How about if the comparison is between, say, a ragingly capitalist country like the USA, and a socialist democracy like Sweden? It gets a bit less obvious.

  • Men & women are not identical in their life priorities or sexuality. Again, who is arguing that men and women are identical? He says there is someone on the Harvard campus who argues this, but doesn’t bother to name names. Generally what I’ve seen on the left is approval and encouragement of differences — that men and women are different, but that the bigger differences are between individuals, and that those differences should be respected. We do object to being compelled to fit into the straitjacket of just two stereotypical gender roles. We also don’t think you can go from a karyotype to a flawless description of life priorities or sexuality.

  • Different ethnic groups commit violent crimes at different rates. Oh, yeah, he went there. Look at crime statistics and all those violent black criminals! We’re done, that’s all the analysis you need to do (and, by the way, those leftist college professors do not deny the statistics at all). But why do black communities have higher crime rates? It wouldn’t have anything to do with poverty, or discriminatory policing, or the existence of laws that basically criminalize being poor, would it?

    And of course he brings up that always-useful distinction, that Islamic people are more likely to be suicide bombers, as if that were the sole kind of violence that one ethnic group can perpetrate on another. How many Muslims have been killed by Christians? This is not to excuse either kind of violence, but to point out that playing selective games with the statistics to ignore institutionalized violence is profoundly dishonest.

I’m just going to have to say it outright: Pinker is lying here. These are all ideas that are routinely discussed at universities. The leftist positions he is caricaturing are far less dogmatic than he is claiming, and the alt-right positions far more so. There is no censorship that prevents addressing them; there is an expectation of greater, more evidence-based rigor in any discussion of such complex social, economic, and historical issues, and trying to pull the kind of misrepresentations and naive assertion of stereotypes that Pinker is babbling about here will get your arguments slapped down hard. I am shocked that a Harvard professor would promote such ignorance and falsehoods.


Here’s a longer clip in which Pinker goes on to say the same sort of things that are routinely said in classrooms, all while doubling down and saying the “politically-correct left” is not allowing them to be said. He is completely un-self-aware. I guess it only counts if a politically incorrect person like Pinker says them as if they were his own novel idea, rather than the mundane substance of typical classroom discussions.

Comments

  1. Artor says

    Anyone who thinks the alt-right is particularly intelligent or educated is saying more about their own intelligence than anything else.

  2. Kevin Anthoney says

    How about if the comparison is between, say, a ragingly capitalist country like the USA, and a socialist democracy like Sweden? It gets a bit less obvious.

    Hmmm. What have you heard about Sweden?

    What I’ve heard about Sweden is that they’re quite strongly free market – more than the US. However, once they’ve done the free market thing they strongly redistribute the wealth created. This is quite different from Socialism, where the Government runs and/or regulates everything.

    I’ve also heard that the go-to guy on how Sweden actually works, and how to apply such a system to the US, is Lane Kenworthy. I haven’t got round to reading him myself yet, but he might be worth a look.

  3. Vivec says

    Uh, okay, Pinker. Is the fact that the Alt-right are fucking Nazis somehow based in these “true statements that universities don’t teach”?

    Because like, there’s a reason why the 14 words aren’t part of any fucking curriculum, and it’s not TEH EVIL LEFTISTS AT IT AGAIN.

  4. thirdmill says

    I don’t know if, as a group, the alt-right is more intelligent or less intelligent than the general population, but I’m quite certain there is no correlation between being highly intelligent and being a decent human being. Examples of individual sociopaths with high IQs abound. So even if Pinker is right about that, so what?

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Here’s the thing Market Economy=/=capitalism. Consumer economy=/=capitalism.
    Capitalism–an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
    Socialism–a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
    Welfare State–a social system based on the assumption by a political state of primary responsibility for the individual and social welfare of its citizens.

    A welfare state can be capitalist or socialist. There is zero evidence that either capitalist economies outperform socialist ones, and actually differences between individual socialist and capitalist economies are sufficiently large that there probably is no way to infer one way or the other from the evidence.

    Increasingly, the US economy is neither socialist nor capitalist, but kleptocratic.

  6. says

    So from this, we can confidently conclude that the Alt-Right are a fluxy mixture of gender creationist, race creationist and culuture creationist, that is: whatever you’re born as or born into, that’s your lot, and deviant behaviour is the fault of permissive artsy types. Girls do girl things, blacks do black things, Moors do crazy things, and I supposed we are to conclude that smRt white chaps do clever things.

    /snark
    What actual fuck. Shows how long since Pinker paid attention in a classroom, either as a participant or observer.

  7. says

    Different ethnic groups commit violent crimes at different rates.

    That’s a full-blown eugenicist’s argument, right there. [stderr] It’s a form of post hoc reasoning that can only be engaged if you ignore the potential other causes of an effect, and it’s such sloppy thinking that Pinker’s ‘public intellectual’ license needs to be re-privatized.

    Here’s another form of Pinker’s statement, which may make it a bit more obvious:
    Certain ethnic groups get shot by police more than others. Does that mean that those ethnic groups are more likely to be bad people, or that the police are disproportionately shooty?

    Pinker ought to be aware of the studies that correlate exposure to lead-based paint and gasoline fumes, poverty, and violent crime or he’s been dozing off in his armchair for the last few years. It’s just one example of the many ways that crime and poverty are linked – and, yes, race and poverty are linked as well. I didn’t realize Pinker was such a shallow and bad thinker.

  8. says

    Establishment Atheism™️ really is turning into a fucking crypt, isn’t it?

    We have Learned Whites virtually lining up to support or spout the most despicable people and most retrograde notions, then shrieking when they’re challenged, however reasonably or fairly. For their next trick, they publicly mourn the “movement” and ululate about rifts and schisms. Moving on, they’ll tail-gun for teasers and trolls, who are apparently allowed to voice their deeply-held beliefs unfettered, while those who don’t subscribe to free speech absolutism are blocked, bollocked and burned.

    And all while claiming to be the mostest Skepticalest! Wankers.

  9. Saad says

    Different ethnic groups commit violent crimes at different rates.

    I love how the White Thinky Rational Bros love to focus on ethnicity and violence* and not on gender and violence.

    The funny part is… the ethnicity and violence thing is actually an own goal too :)

  10. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    So the purpose of college is to teach random, more or less obvious facts? I can just imagine the classes at Steve Pinker U:

    Chemistry: some thing go kablooey when you mix them. Others don’t.
    Biology: most mammals have four legs. Most fish don’t.
    Physics: if you drop things, they fall. Except when they don’t.
    Economics: some people have a lot of money, others don’t.

  11. unclefrogy says

    the alt-right and those who support and defend it like Mr. Pinker here are not it seems so very interested in reason and discussion of the issues as they are in complaining about how no one is listening to them enough and that instead they are listening to the left . Regardless of their protestations that they want honest debate they will take no argument ,no contrary evidence. It is what they believe is true regardless. In that way it is just like religion . They seem to believe if they shout their belief about how things are vwithout, you know actually looking to see if what they believe is true is really true, if they can silence all dissenting opinion then what they believe will be in fact true. What is keeping the new millennium of alt-right utopia/nirvana from happening is all the fault of those who disagree and descent from their orthodoxy. We do not have to guess how that problem would be dealt with if given the chance and the power.
    uncle frogy

  12. Vivec says

    @12
    I would assume the shallow thinking comes in when one equates “X group is more frequently arrested per capita” with “X group actually commits more crimes per capita”.

    One can make a solid argument for the former – but the latter is both unjustified and fails to take into account the role of societal prejudice in law enforcement.

  13. Michael says

    PZ I don’t think he was saying “the alt-right ARE highly literate, highly intelligent people who…” but rather his statement is “…comes from the often highly literate, highly intelligent people, who gravitate to the alt-right…”. He’s saying a sub-set of intelligent people are alt-right, which I would assume is correct. A bit like all German shepherds are dogs, but not all dogs are German shepherds error. A subtle point perhaps, but your second sentence does come across that way to me, which in turn has you claiming he said something that he didn’t or that he might not actually mean.

    I also have to wonder who he is talking about at the beginning, as the video begins mid-sentence “…his affiliation might be up for grabs…”

  14. Vivec says

    @17
    My argument wasn’t that “black people don’t commit crimes”, but cool, I guess.

    My contention is that its not justifiable to assume that the entirety of the figures are actual crimes committed by people of color. It could, for example (and this what i believe to be the case) that it is a proportion of legitimate crimes and a proportion of false arrests.

  15. unclefrogy says

    that is the nut of the ‘problem” about crime stats.
    What are they in a really comprehensive way,
    what are the factors that effect “crime” really. what is crime who commits it. How are laws enforced, all the social factors. environmental factors?
    Without that data it is all just belief like a religion
    because what I suspect is the real concern around crime is not crime but some degree of except-able order.
    As much as the lower classes commit certain classes of crime more often so do other classes commit different classes of crime, as well as the lower classes are victims of crime and exploitation by the more upper classes. employers, land lords, marketing and finance companies . being cheated by a contract is not as disruptive as being robbed at gun point but in either case the victim is still a victim.
    It just ain’t as fucking simple as almost all the arguments and discussions seem to want to make it.
    uncle frogy

  16. Vivec says

    @21
    If you’re referring to the NCVS, there’s a pretty heavy skew in favor of recording the sorts of crimes that people of color are arrested for (ie illegal drug related offenses being grouped in under the ‘severe crime’ category) while completey cutting out the types of crimes disproportionately committed by white people (ie white collar financial crime).

    That is, of course, also discounting the usual gamut of problems with surveys – victims are fallible and by virtue of living in the US are inundated with racism and bigotry.

    Defintely far from a bulelt-proof source, and certainly not one that dismisses the idea of unjust criminalisation.

  17. logicalcat says

    At the end of the day, regardless of errors in our part in understanding Pinkers words, he is still actively lying his ass off. This part “true statements that have never been voiced on college campuses” is a straight up lie.

  18. =8)-DX says

    Well, Spencer who invented the “alt-right” is “highly literate, highly intelligent”. You have to admit the dude is clever if he can pull off leading a room in the Hitler salute and still convince thousands of idiots online that he’s not a Nazi, that “peaceful ethnic cleansing” is all fine and dandy and convince a bevy of rightwing blowhards to parrot his talking points to the point of thinking being an “ethnostatist” is the new punk rock (*spits).

    But yeah, most Nazis alt-righters are dumb as bricks and their arguments crumble under any scrutiny.
    =8)-DX

  19. gijoel says

    I saw a meme about white supremacists that said that if your greatest achievement in life is the colour of your skin then you need to have a long look at yourself.

  20. raven says

    Capitalist societies are better than communist ones.

    This is an incredibly flimsy strawperson.
    Communism has been dead for decades.
    It failed and the USSR imploded.
    The 1950’s want their paranoia back.

    Anyone who rattles on about commies in 2018 is an idiot.

  21. raven says

    Capitalist societies are better than communist ones.

    FWIW, there is no such thing as “Capitalist societies”.
    Capitalism itself is a basic idea that has diverged and changed over the centuries to the point that there are many forms that differ a huge amount among themselves.

    Some forms of capitalism don’t work all that much better than even communism did.
    For every South Korea there are a dozen Third World countries going nowhere.
    Much of the Third World is the Third World due to oligarchic monopoly capitalism backed up by lethal force from the captive state.

    Our current form of capitalism has a drop dead feature built in.
    Economic inequality is growing steadily.
    So what happens when the 0.1% has all the money and the rest of us have barely enough to survive?
    The system stops dead.
    Because almost no one has any money to buy stuff!!!

  22. raven says

    But yeah, most Nazis alt-righters are dumb as bricks and their arguments crumble under any scrutiny.

    QFT.
    White Supremacists are self refuting.
    Because they aren’t superior to the general population in any way whatsoever.
    To take a current example, the Bundy mob that took over Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

    Most of them were low education, had dismal employment records, chaotic family lives, and a history of pointless crimes up to and including murder.

  23. says

    You are a bad journalist and you should feel bad. You cut off his speach at very important point.
    https://youtu.be/7Vcn4cnpv6Y?t=41m
    If you’re not interested in the video, here’s what Pinker says, word for word: these are unwarranted conclusions because for each one of these facts there are very powerful counterarguments for how they DONT WARRANT RACISM, SEXISM AND ANARCHO-CAPITALISM and so on.

    He is not defending any alt-right ideas. WATCH THE REST OF THE TALK!

  24. says

    I watched the whole thing. It’s linked to in my post.

    He is claiming that leftist professors lie to students and hide away the complications of social reality which he, brave intellectual that he is, is willing to reveal to his audience of Classical Liberals, and that the reason college students join the alt-right is because they recoil from the fact that wicked leftists hide the FACTS. And the FACTS are that capitalism is superior to communism, men and women are different from each other, and black and brown people commit more crimes.

    His lie is that the Left denies his “facts”. They don’t. They present them with the evidence that superficial interpretations of the “facts”, like the ones he presents at the beginning, are simply invalid, and that there are ten thousand complicating factors you have to consider. His entire schtick was to paint the alt-right as more enlightened and open-minded than Leftist college professors by lying about what is presented in social science classes. He is slandering his colleagues to pander to fascists.

  25. Ogvorbis wants to know: WTF!?!?!?! says

    Harvard seems an odd place to be peddling the alt-right. I don’t mean that Harvard faculty and/or students are left-wing radicals (I’m sure some are), but rather that Harvard is one of the premier places of higher education in the US. A school that (for most of us) is extremely hard to get into. A school that prides itself on having really good teachers. So why would Pinker, a man who teaches at one of the best schools in the country, a man who teaches some of the best students in the country, embrace a philosophy that prides itself on presenting simplistic and jingoistic answers to complicated questions? If a student wants simple answers, go to fucking Liberty University, not Harvard. For every problem, there is a simple solution that is not only wrong, but most likely harmful. And the alt-right embraces these simplistic solutions. Fuck, Pinker, embrace how messy reality is.

  26. Sonja says

    I think Pinker is trying to explain how easy it is to brainwash young, uneducated people in the alt-right ideology by making very simplistic arguments to them — then he gives the examples of what these simplistic arguments are. He should have used Stephen Colbert’s term of “truthiness” — things that sound true to an uneducated person, but are actually false if you understand reality.

  27. robertandrews says

    This is a very dishonest post, and you are distorting what Pinker is saying. First of all, you need to be able to tell the difference between what he claims are “true statements” that are not sayable on campus, and his own reasons for thinking they are not controversial.

    He says it is controversial to argue on campus that capitalist societies are better than communist ones, but he does NOT say that are no problems with capitalism. Your own sarcastic commentary: “the flaws in capitalism, which, apparently, are lies and don’t exist” doesn’t reflect anything he said. Rather, as you can hear from the clip, he merely points out that it is better to live in South Korea than North Korea – and he does NOT argue that this is a controversial statement on campus. That is your own misunderstanding.

    On the topic of gender, he was clearly talking about Larry Summers who argued that IF evidence of a cognitive gap at the low and high ends between men and women reflects reality then it MAY also reflect hiring choices and resultant discrepancies in gender representation in certain fields. Despite the fact that this was couched in nuanced language it was indeed considered beyond the pale and he had to resign. Presumably remarks such as those of Sir Tim Hunt may also be relevant. Are the differences in representation between men and women causes for celebration of difference on the left in academia? Hardly. So, I think you are, at the very least, missing the point here.

    As for crime rates among ethnic groups, and the distribution of suicide bombing attacks between different religious groups, all Pinker is saying here is that these are facts. If someone were to voice them, then it may at the very least bring down a certain amount of opprobrium before stopping to talk about the reasons. Look at you, up and running and outraged immediately. Stop the video and let’s call him an alt-right shitweasel!

    I think you proved his point. His voicing of the facts gets him tarred. The knee-jerk burn-the-witch denunciations are part of the problem, as he sees it. And what is the problem? Well, the subject of the talk is about whether a censorious form of political correctness that is common in academia led to a backlash and ultimately the election of Donald Trump. Now whether you agree with Pinker or not, you are being utterly dishonest by claiming this makes his sympathies lie with the alt-right.

  28. lotharloo says

    Facts by themselves are not very useful, however, facts can be tied together to support or propose a hypothesis. The reason Alt-right likes to present facts such as “black people commit more crimes”, or “there are way more men scientists than women” or “there too many inventions by white people” or “this and that great deeds were done by white people” is to propose a theory of racial and sexual superiority. To pretend otherwise either shows cluelessness or sympathy with Alt-Right. I would like to think that Pinker is just being a dumbass but we cannot ignore the other alternative explanation.

  29. says

    what he claims are “true statements” that are not sayable on campus: What are they? Because they’re not what he says they are. Nothing he claims is unsayable is actually unsayable, and is often the subject of long, in-depth discussions.

    He strawmans the “capitalism is better than communism” argument by using a bogus comparison between North and South Korea. That is a dishonest comparison. There aren’t swarms of leftists on college campuses singing the praises of Kim Jong Un. But he’d like the audience to think that is relevant!

  30. lotharloo says

    @robertandrews:

    Larry Summers …he had to resign.

    Resigned from the position of the President of the University. Nobody is entitled to that position. If you say something that can be construed as racist or sexist, even if you did not intend to and even if you don’t believe in it, the same thing will happen to you. However, Larry Summers can say all that and more and keep his day job. So, no, Pinker is full of shit even at this case.

  31. says

    Stephen Mills

    Are you kidding? First of all that is not the only evidence. The 31% of murders committed by blacks for example would mean that most blacks are arrested for murders committed by non-blacks if they didn’t commit more murder per capita cause they are only %13 of the population.

    As much as you want to believe it, but “31% of murders committed by blacks” isn’t a plain and simple fact, statistics don’t lie, leftists deny reality thing.
    First of all, “murder” is not a very clear cut definition. This is a convicted murderer. Who gets and doesn’t get tried for murder and subsequently convicted for murder is highly dependent on race and gender. Just think of the thousands of people killed every year by the police where virtually no-one gets ever tried, even for manslaughter.
    Or all the “gun accidents” that would clearly fit the category of “murder” where I live.
    Or the horrible and unequally applied “stand your ground” laws.
    Now, even without going into socioeconomic reasons for higher crime rates, your argument already falls apart.
    +++
    As for Pinker, I think much of this can already be seen in “Better Angels”, where he happily proclaims that the 20th century was the most peaceful one, that the Vietnam war wasn’t really a US thing and where he misrepresents data so badly that the scientists behind it need to speak out against him.
    Some thinker he is.

  32. says

    PZ @37: “Nothing he claims is unsayable is actually unsayable, and is often the subject of long, in-depth discussions.”

    Indeed, this is a clear trope of the right (not just the alt-right), that demonstrates its own wrongness every time it’s spoken, written or blogged. What they mean is, they can’t say these things without being criticised for it, and that they are ill-equipped to handle the criticism, either intellectually or emotionally. Pinker, by virtue of being a presenter of ideas which have received their own criticism, should be well aware of how wrong this statement is, and should know better than to repeat it uncritically.

  33. robertandrews says

    PZ Myers: “He strawmans the “capitalism is better than communism” argument by using a bogus comparison between North and South Korea. That is a dishonest comparison.”

    If the North and the South are not examples of communism and capitalism, respectively. Are they not? Similarly East and West Germany.

    “There aren’t swarms of leftists on college campuses singing the praises of Kim Jong Un. But he’d like the audience to think that is relevant!”

    He doesn’t say there are or even imply there are, so how you can divine his intentions to deceive the audience is something you may wish to explain.

    Let’s make the distinction clear. The statement that he believes is true is that “capitalist societies are better than communist ones”. That’s the bit that he thinks is controversial on campus if not off it.

    Now, as a way of showing it is not actually controversial he talks about why that is. His support for saying it is true is by asking whether you would prefer to live in North or South Korea. He is NOT saying that anyone is arguing for living in North Korea or singing the praises of Kim Jong Un. That is YOUR strawman!

    Whether living in the US or Sweden is better is the bit you added and is irrelevant, because it it not a question of communism or capitalism. Do you get that now?

  34. says

    Me @41: Plus, of course, the whole thesis of “Now look what you made me do” needs a thorough criticism of its own. Any idea is going to get misrepresented by somebody; that doesn’t mean that that idea gets an automatic pass. People say lots of unkind things about flat-earthers, for example, without bothering with a critical analysis; it’s still not a great idea to become a flat-earther just because your peers shout you down when you demonstrate you don’t understand geometry.

    If it’s really much of a thing, then the lack of critical tools we supply these young people is the problem that needs to be sorted out, not to mention the tarring of any faction with the faults of its more extreme members. Some lefty yahoo thumped a neo-nazi instead of engaging him in formal debate? Doesn’t mean that neo-nazis have never been engaged in honest debate by the left, or never been given plenty of space to condemn themselves with their own rhetoric.

  35. Alt-X says

    Oh look, another whiteman telling people i’m a criminal and something less because of my skins melanin levels.

    How so very brave of him to speak up against the left and their calls for equality, how does he find the courage to speak up?! /s

  36. says

    robertandrews

    If the North and the South are not examples of communism and capitalism, respectively.

    Please give a coherent definition of communism and an analysis on how it applies to North Korea. I may have slept through that part, but I don’t remember the “hereditary absolute monarchy” part.

    Similarly East and West Germany.

    Depends. Are you an old Nazi or are you a communist who had suffered in a KZ? Depending on that question, the answer becomes difficult. Just for your information, there were tons of people who emigrated from West to East Germany.

    Oh, but I can play that, too: Would you rather live in Cuba or Afghanistan?

  37. robertandrews says

    lotharloo: “Facts by themselves are not very useful, however, facts can be tied together to support or propose a hypothesis. The reason Alt-right likes to present facts such as “black people commit more crimes”, or “there are way more men scientists than women” or “there too many inventions by white people” or “this and that great deeds were done by white people” is to propose a theory of racial and sexual superiority. To pretend otherwise either shows cluelessness or sympathy with Alt-Right. I would like to think that Pinker is just being a dumbass but we cannot ignore the other alternative explanation.”

    Pinker is well aware that the facts by themselves are not very useful, and that the alt-right use them for their own malicious ends. If you actually bother to watch what Pinker says after this video is abruptly cut off mid-breath-intake from Pinker to signal that he has more to say, you will see that he says that people hearing these facts for the first time may be liable to make unwarranted conclusions from them and then lists a number of false conclusions that the right do make, while saying that there are in fact a number of anti-racist or anti-sexist conclusions that actually follow from them.

    This video and commentary is cherry-picked the way that 9/11 Truthers like to claim that someone called for the Twin Towers to be detonated or that Osama bin Laden was known not to be involved. It could be out of lazily failing to look up the context or it could be deliberate. I would like to believe those who are jumping on this bandwagon are just being dumbasses, but I cannot completely ignore the alternative explanation.

  38. robertandrews says

    Alt-X: “Oh look, another whiteman telling people i’m a criminal and something less because of my skins melanin levels.”

    He’s doing nothing of the kind. Please at least watch what he says after the video is cut.

  39. says

    He is saying they are driven to the alt-right and their false conclusions because the left is not discussing them.

    Jesus fuck. THAT IS THE LIE.

    The left discusses these things all the time. So does academia, and by the way, academia and the left are not synonymous.

  40. Vivec says

    I must have missed the part where North Korean citizens mutually control the means of production, rather than being forced into slavery by their autocratic hereditary overlord.

    Besides, there totally are no social classes in North Korea, right? No military elite that get to live in the fancy nice city and get that UN food as a perk?

    If anything, North Korea is closer to some kind of traditional Absolute Monarch Feudalism, with the trappings of a modern country stapled on.

    Anyone claiming North Korea represents an archetypal Communist country has no idea what communism entails.

  41. robertandrews says

    PZ Myers: “Jesus fuck. THAT IS THE LIE.

    The left discusses these things all the time. So does academia, and by the way, academia and the left are not synonymous.”

    No, but even if you are right, this does not make Pinker an alt-right sympathizer. In fact, what he said was that the true statements are what gets people into trouble. You argue “Nothing he claims is unsayable is actually unsayable, and is often the subject of long, in-depth discussions.”, but look what happens. THIS VIDEO is an edited clip from a long, in-depth discussion, and he goes on to say that the “unsayable things” do NOT warrant sexist and racist conclusions. Yet that part of the discussion has been cut off! So you have the irony of his unsayable quotes being isolated from the discussion only to be denounced by the frothing denizens of your blog, led by you.

  42. robertandrews says

    Vivec: “Anyone claiming North Korea represents an archetypal Communist country has no idea what communism entails.”

    You may be right. BR Myers argues that North Korea is in fact closer to a racial supremacist fascist state. But that’s something of a nitpick. Maybe there never has been an authentic communist state, but pretty much all claiming to be have been worse than capitalist ones. That’s the unobjectionable bit that Pinker is referring to. But he points out after the clip that it DOES not lead to the conclusion that anarcho-capitalism follows from this.

  43. Vivec says

    @54
    Cool, if the claim was that “fascist totalitarian autocracies that claim to be communist but do not fit the definition in amy meaningful way are worse than selected capitalist countries” then I’d be far more likely to agree.

  44. says

    I’ll tell you what. Pinker can now openly denounce the alt-right, without his usual mealy-mouthed whining about leftists and PC and Free Speech, and then I’ll believe you.

  45. KG says

    North Korea (the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”) no longer even claims to be communist. The 2009 constitution dropped all references to communism. References to Marxism-Leninism (usually considered the ideological basis of “communist states”) had been dropped earlier (in the 1992 constitution). So Pinker is not just cherry-picking his examples, he’s picking an “example” that isn’t one. And is even North Korea (let alone, say, Cuba) worse than capitalist states such as Nazi Germany, Leopold’s Congo, the pre-WWII Japanese Empire, the states that transported millions of African slaves across the Atlantic in the 18th and 19th centuries – or even Assad’s Syria or the present-day “Democratic Republic of” Congo? That’s why bald statements such as “Capitalist states are better than communist ones” are not just “controversial”, but fucking stupid, and any academic presenting them as “FACTS” is rightly regarded with contempt.

  46. says

    As someone who has spent a quarter of his life behind iron curtain i would like to nip in with a note that there was never a comparison between a “communist” and “capitalist” states. Such statement is too simplistic. There is more axes to politics than just “communism-capitalism”. The comparison is more acurately between “autoritarian/totalitarian states led by a single party named communist party” and “capitalist states by democratically elected leadership”.

    Indeed after the iron curtain fell, some good things were kept and people were unwilling to let go of them and are glad we did keep despite some politicians pushing for far more drastic “USA#1” approach to reforms – like universal healthcare, paid sick and maternal leave. And equaly some good things were actually destroyed when capitalism took over – there are examples of previously state owned companies that were producing high quality products at a competitive price with western companies which were in the legislative chaos after the revolution bought off and deliberately destroyed for profit (“tunneling”) etc.

    All the bad things that I remember from those times had more to do with state authoritarianism, totalitarianism, denialism of evidence that challenged politically motivated reasoning of the ruling party and from them stemming supression of personal freedoms and persecution of dissidents.

  47. says

    KG
    Well, there’s a reason why the capitalist states are quite selectively picked, the different experiences for different populations are treated as noise and the reasons why living in Switzerland may be so nice are the things that are kept nicely quiet by people demanding to “discuss everything”!
    Capitalism kills millions a year is a fact they really don’t like mentioning.

  48. pacal says

    I don’t take Steven Pinker seriously at all. Regardless of whether or not PZ has characterized Pinker in this video accurately the bottom line is that Pinker engages in straw manning on a massive scale.

    In fact Pinker wrote a whole book The Blank Slate which is replete with straw men, everything from the “Blank Slate” idea to crap about the “Noble Savage” etc. Pinker continually regurgitates a caricature of political correctness run amuck, about what Liberals or the “left” actually think etc. It is collection of stereotypes that owes a great deal to the at times hysterical campaign against political correctness that has been going on for a generation.

    Further Pinker has at times commended the “courage” ( His word), of those exploring issues of Racial / Ethnic biological differences. He also has found “intriguing” and “suggestive”, (His words) the idea of sex differences in things like Math ability. ( Suposidlly kicking in with the start of puberty.)

    Finally Pinker seems to have a hard time recognizing that a great deal of the Alt-Right are in fact racists and sexists. He seems to be more intent on denouncing the PC bogyman.

    I frankly don’t think that Pinker is either a racist or a sexist but he seems to think that in some sense they are under vicious unfair attack by his bogyman PC. And Pinker’s fantasy bogyman PC is simply at best an exaggeration and at worst a total falsehood.

  49. Sonja says

    I think Pinker is trying to make the point that the alt-right uses simplistic arguments, cherry-picked data, and ingrained cultural stereotypes to brainwash uneducated (but intelligent) young people to their side. This is true, and somewhat obvious. PZ should acknowledge that Pinker is right about this and also do a mea culpa on the title of this blog post.

    All of the dissecting of the accuracy of Pinker’s examples of alt-right simplistic arguments is just noise. His point is that they are not accurate (although is very quick explanations of “why” are terrible).

    I appears that their (PZ’s and Pinker’s) differences lie in academia’s role in educating young people learn to how to think critically, evaluate sources, analyze data, understand history and context, recognize and ignore fallacious arguments, etc.

    Pinker is buying into the Right’s narrative that academia is too “Politically Correct” (I cringe when I hear that term because I know its current definition was invented by Dinesh D’Souza) and failing in its educational goals because it does not address the alt-right’s simplistic arguments, and on this point, PZ (an actual educator of young people) has the best standing to make his case.

  50. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The idea that people are driven into the arms of the Alt-right is wrong for the simple fact that most folks don’t need to be driven at all–it’s only a short walk from where they live. Humans are social animals. Our social bonds with our identity group are strengthened by a threat from an “other”.
    Politicians and academics know they don’t have to come right out and say racist things. They can simply provide a scaffolding of “facts” removed from context or analysis and let people build their own comfy, little racist nest over them. Dog whistles, both- sides-ism, what about-ism, JAQing off…it all serves the cause of parochialism, nationalism and yes, racism and sexism.
    So, no, the Alt-right are not intelligent. They are stupidly and lazily following their natural tendencies without questioning their assumptions. And Pinker is encouraging them in their stupidity and laziness.

  51. thirdmill says

    Lotharloo, No. 38, “If you say something that can be construed as racist or sexist, even if you did not intend to and even if you don’t believe in it, the same thing will happen to you.” That should not be the standard. Someone looking to be offended can construe just about anything as racist or sexist. I think the standard should be that a comment has to actually *be* racist or sexist by an objective definition of the terms.

    Stephen Mills, taking your word for it that the 31% figure is accurate, before the European colonists and slave traders arrived, Africa was mostly peopled by communities with strong family and tribal structures. The dysfunction found in the American inner cities mostly didn’t exist. They had their problems — all societies do — but it was the coming of the Europeans that created the catastrophe.

  52. mnb0 says

    @2 “once they’ve done the free market thing they strongly redistribute the wealth created.”
    Which is the definition of socialist-democracy, so who exactly are you contradicting?! Not PZ.

    Before praising the virtues of capitalism, compared to communism it might make sense to look what happened to Russia from 1989 on, when it adopted a capitalist system. Like it or not (and I dislike him), since Putin became president in 2000 and reintroduced a (quite corrupt) form of state control the Russian economy improved.

    https://blogs-images.forbes.com/markadomanis/files/2012/07/CoreEurope-Russia-GDP-PPP.png

  53. lotharloo says

    @65 thirdmill

    that should not be the standard.

    Remember that this is about someone in a position of leadership. I would have the same opinion if he had said that “we should teach creationism if it turns out that evolution is wrong, dating methods are wrong and that the complexity of living organism cannot be explained by mechanisms of natural selection.” That would also be an unacceptable statement from the president of a university.

  54. lotharloo says

    robertandrews:

    If you actually bother to watch what Pinker says after this video is abruptly cut off mid-breath-intake from Pinker to signal that he has more to say …

    Actually yes I take back that part of my criticism.

  55. says

    Another point: I don’t see students being converted in reaction to liberal professors, ever. I see conservative students coming in with a chip on their shoulders already, fueled by nonsense like the stuff Pinker is spouting, who double-down on their insistence that we’re brainwashing them, even when we’re inviting open discussion of their issues. Blaming their inability to formulate a decent argument for Republican policies, for instance, on imagined suppression by liberal professors is far easier than actually coming up with those arguments.

  56. jrkrideau says

    @ Giliell

    Would you rather live in Cuba or Afghanistan?

    Blast, you beat me to it. My question was, “Would you prefer to live in “capitalist” El Salvador or “communist” Cuba?

    Oh, the “hereditary absolute monarchy” part is outlined on pg. 70221 in footnote 25 of Das Kapital. How could you have missed it!

  57. JP says

    “once they’ve done the free market thing they strongly redistribute the wealth created.”
    Which is the definition of socialist-democracy, so who exactly are you contradicting?! Not PZ.

    No, that’s the definition of Social Democracy, not Democratic socialism. (Bernie Sanders calls himself the latter, but he is really the former.) Social Democracies have mixed economies and still allow the capitalist class to own the means of production, and as such, they’re rapidly being eroded by the capitalist class.

    Democratic socialism entails workers owning the means of production, while additionally being democratic. (The two are not mutually exclusive.)

    Very different. One is opposed to capitalism fundamentally, the other is not

    (And the Social Democrats killed Rosa Luxemburg!)

  58. rodw says

    PZ:

    His lie is that the Left denies his “facts”. They don’t.

    Yes they do. They say that they are not facts. Most of the commenters here (including yourself) have disputed whether they were facts. Pinker is saying that they are indisputable facts that in no way support the alt-right agenda when considered carefully.

  59. thirdmill says

    Lotharloo, No. 67, I very much doubt that it will turn out that evolution is wrong, but if it did, then science goes where the evidence takes us. And the thing I find dangerous about your position is that if I’m reading you correctly, you’re elevating a desired policy result over evidence. You’re saying, in essence, that evidence only matters to the extent that it doesn’t conflict with what you believe, which sounds suspiciously like a lot of creationists I’ve met.

    It is one thing to say that there is no actual evidence that women don’t have an aptitude for science. I agree there is no evidence that women have no aptitude for science. But it is another thing entirely to say that even if there were such evidence it should be ignored because it would clash with a desired policy goal. At that point, you’ve abandoned science.

  60. logicalcat says

    @rodw

    No one here is saying they are not facts, only that the facts when subject to further scrutiny reveals larger issues and other facts surrounding it. Everyone here is doing what you think Pinker is doing, except they do not have a history of bullshitting about the threat of PC culture in order to appeal to both progressives and alt-right. Its a centrist gambit…March for science anyone?

  61. rodw says

    @logicalcat

    Pinker knows he cant appeal to the alt-right – he’s a Jew. I don’t know what most progressives think of him but I’ve always thought his appeal has been mostly to centrists anyway. The only recent work of his that I’m familiar with is “Better Angels” which the right attacked pretty strongly. I think they were threatened by the evidence that the world becomes a better place as religion fades.

  62. says

    The funny thing about the “fact” that the “left denies” and obviously “silences you” for uttering that “Men & women are not identical in their life priorities or sexuality” is that it’s kind of literally the starting point of gender studies which both Pinker and the Alt Reich hate and half of sociology.
    What they then don’t like are the answers. Instead they’re going “nanana, I can’t hear you” or “Evopsych shows that women like pink because berries” or “biological facts 11!!!!”.

  63. rodw says

    logicalcat

    No one here is saying they are not facts, only that the facts when subject to further scrutiny reveals larger issues and other facts surrounding it

    That’s exactly what he is doing and its why he makes the claim that those facts don’t support the alt-right. You need to watch the full 8 minute clip, not the part PZ took out.

    Consider the claim that its a fact that the violent crime rate among blacks is 8 times higher than among whites (and much higher still than among Asians) Some might think there are 2 possibilities here. The first is that the statistic is racist propaganda and there is no difference among in violence among ethnic groups….or… the second- that blacks ( like the Irish) are just naturally inclined to criminality. The third possibility is a bit more complex: that desperate economic and social situations ( which can be remedied) can lead to high levels of violence. I don’t know if Pinker would say this but it seems to me that some on the left assume most people aren’t smart enough to consider the 3rd scenario and if the statistic is admitted as true that will lead to many to the second conclusion. The only choice then is to deny the statistic as propaganda.

  64. lotharloo says

    @thirdmill:

    I don’t think we are talking about the same thing. My point is that someone who is in the position of leadership or public relations must be extra careful in what they are saying. Saying that “if men have superior mental power compared to women, then this can explain the gender gap” is fine for an academic but not for someone in the position of leadership. I don’t understand why you keep ignoring this part that I have already repeated many times already. The president of a university should not give any credence towards ideas that we are fairly certain to be false, whether it being creationism, anti-vaccination, or “superiority of white race”. Do you get it? Or are you going to repeat the same thing over again? It has nothing to do with science. It has everything to do with politics.

  65. thirdmill says

    lotharloo, you’re right, it has everything to do with politics, and there are enough horrible examples of science being abused for politics that I get skittish whenever it looks like that’s what’s happening, regardless of whose politics. Science should ignore politics and go where the evidence leads.

    I see no evidence for creationism, anti-vax or white supremacy. However, sometimes it is a useful thought experiment to say, “If creationism were true, what then?” You’re basically asking what conclusions would flow from that premise even though you think the premise is wrong. Sometimes, asking and answering the question helps to show why the premise is wrong; spend a few minutes actually thinking through what the world would look like if it had been formed in 6 solar days 6000 years ago, and you’ll soon figure out that creationism is total nonsense. And I don’t see that just because someone is in leadership precludes them from being allowed to do thought experiments.

    And your original statement was that anything that could be construed as racist or sexist should result in sanctions. Sorry, but over the years I’ve encountered entirely too many stupid people who can’t follow an argument to say that just because some idiot somewhere “construes” something, that it should result in a penalty for making what might be a perfectly fine argument.

  66. logicalcat says

    @rodw

    I KNOW he is doing that.I know. Read my post again.

    Oh, and PZ linked the full video fyi. And since we are on the subject of cutting things…you did that to my comment.

  67. logicalcat says

    @rodw

    Doesn’t matter all that much if he is a jew or not. Milo was gay and jewish dating a black man, and while his popularity is waning he did have a very large alt-right following at one point. Some racists are okay with other minorities, as long as they keep their mouth shut or validate their views. The new game is now stressing centrism as a way to have your cake and eat it too. Foster a anti-sjw following while placating the other side saying “no really I am progressive too. Just not PC SJW progressive” *rolls eyes*. Hell some really love them because its a useful way to deflect criticism. “have a X friend”. Jewish nazis existed, even during the third reich.

  68. says

    The only choice then is to deny the statistic as propaganda.

    Goodness, half this fucking thread is doing exactly what Pinker does we never do, i.e. putting these “facts” and statistics into context.
    Usually what we then hear is “you’re just making excuses”.
    Pinker smartly and aptly beats a complete strawman.

  69. robertandrews says

    @lotharloo #68: “Actually yes I take back that part of my criticism.”

    Thank you.

    I think PZ Myers should also acknowledge he got it wrong. He claimed the video shows he is an alt-right sympathizer when the full talk demonstrates the opposite. I think a lot of PZ Myers’s followers have uncritically lapped it up. Yet now, having made the accusation, he doesn’t want to retract it unless Pinker meets a new standard to refute Myers’s mischaracterization.

  70. billyjoe says

    The comments from Robert Andrews and Steven Stills are clearly correct:
    The heading of this blog post is not correct – Steven Pinker does not illustrate any alt right sympathies in the full 8 minute video, and only seems to do so in the truncated 3 minute clip which essentially takes what he says out of context! In fact he clearly and pointedly disagrees with the alt right (though I think he means that “far right”)
    How about some honesty from all those who jumped on the bandwagon.

  71. says

    I watched the full video
    While it isn’t as damming as the short version, I would say that the title is still correct.
    Why?
    Because Pinker is actively lying in order to excuse the Alt Reich, diminishes their danger and their racism.
    They are just misguided kids and “PC culture is to blame.
    Fascism is rising and Pinker is going after those who will be marched to the camps first.

  72. says

    I watched the entire video. Pinker is absolutely not an Alt-right sympathiser. This is self evident from the way he presents his thesis. The only person to emerge from this poorly is Mr Myers. I think he should sacrifice a goat to say sorry.

  73. says

    Actual Swede here, please stop calling us a socialist country – we aren’t, we are more of a hybrid.

    It is true that we have high taxes and high redistribution of wealth through advanced social services (free healthcare, free education including post-graduate degrees etc) , but our economy is very much free-market driven. Sure, it is more regulation-laden than the American model, but it’s capitalist all the same.

    I’m not sure what would be an actual example of a socialist state,but there has to be better examples than us.

  74. methuseus says

    @Christopher Svanefalk:

    Actual Swede here, please stop calling us a socialist country – we aren’t, we are more of a hybrid.

    If Sweden is a hybrid, it’s democratic socialism or something similar. Still socialistic. There are many forms of socialism. The companies being owned by the workers is only one type of socialism, and that definition has never been the only definition even when socialism was first conceived.
    As far as I know, there is no major socialist state in the world. There are some small areas that are not necessarily economically powerful that would be called true socialist societies I’m sure, but Sweden, Denmark, and the other countries that are socialist democracies are still “socialist”. They just aren’t 100% socialist, but still majorly socialist in many ways.

  75. billyjoe says

    Giliell,

    “Pinker is actively lying in order to excuse the Alt Reich, diminishes their danger and their racism”

    We must be watching different videos.

  76. says

    I’m banned from Jerry’s blog because I suggested that “Western” rules about clothing differ from those in Islamic countries only in degree, not in kind. I did so politely, other posters (who weren’t banned) agreed with me, I didn’t violate “Da Roolz”. He was scathing in an email in which he replied to my question as to why I was banned. I’ve written something similar on other blogs and (somewhat disappointingly) it didn’t even generate much discussion, let alone lead to a ban. I’ve also heard from others that Jerry doesn’t ban two types of commentators: those who agree with him, and those who don’t but are buffoons.

    So, my sympathies with him are limited, though I still follow his blog somewhat as he raises some interesting points.

    I agree with this wholeheartedly, though:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/surprise-pinker-smeared-again-by-those-who-distort-his-words/

    You got it wrong, PZ, and are yourself a prime example of why some people (probably few in any meaningful sense) don’t vote left (and some might even vote right) because the “progressive left” has turned into its own caricature, and at the same time adopts the tactics of Fox News, Breitbart, etc (cherry-picking, taking things out of context, etc).

  77. beingapznis21 says

    Pinker has only written 10 books outlining his views.

    He is the furtherest thing from an Alt-Right sympathiser imaginable.

    The video in question makes it clear that he opposes the Alt-Right.

    If PZ Myers wants to insist the opposite against all the evidence, then it’s clear who the liar is.

  78. says

    Sweden: I speak Swedish, I’ve spent about a year there altogether (spread out over more than 30 years), I know many Swedish people, I know a lot about the country.

    It is not socialist in the sense that most people in the US understand the word, though somewhat more in the past than now. Definitely not communist (though the communist party was a minor participant in some social-democrat led governments). Of course, any sensible country is “socialist” compared to the USA. It is definitely more similar to Germany, the Netherlands, etc than, say, former Yugoslavia or Eastern Bloc countries, let alone North Korea.

    The Social Democratic Party was the leader of most governments in the last decades, and have had a big influence on the country. So, yes, things like nationalized health insurance exist, but calling these “socialism” is not far removed from calling ObamaCare “socialism”.

    Many people who have never been there have a very distorted view of Sweden. A prime example of this is the movie The Prize.

    Yes, it is hugely preferable to the States as a place to live, in large part because of less violent capitalism and what Germany calls “social market economy”, but not socialist as most people in the USA understand the term.

  79. lotharloo says

    For those defending Pinker, can you name one incident where someone was “banned” for expressing any of those facts Pinker mentioned? Can you name one??? If you cannot then Pinker is lying as PZ pointed out.

    Just to remind you, criticism is not the same thing as getting “banned”.

  80. lotharloo says

    Also, Jerry Coyne has absolutely no leg in this discussion. The valiant defender of free speech who constantly bans commentators for whimsical reasons, even when they correct his ignorant opinions on matters as benign as “English Grammar”, has defended various trollish activities of all-right over and over again on his blog. Last year finally Milo did enough even for him so the Professor wagged his finger at Milo (https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/12/16/milo-finally-goes-too-far/ ) but even then he could not also blame the victim of MIlo’s bullying:

    As for the student singled out, I can also understand her rancor. How horrible it must have been to see yourself mocked in that way! All I can say is that she undercut her arguments by calling the chancellor names like “asshole” and “a cowardly piece of shit”. That’s just indulging in the same name-calling as Milo did, and accomplishes nothing.

    Wow, mr Professor, you compassion is truly astounding. How dare a victim of abuse express anger? They should know their place and be polite, or else they are at the same level as Milo.

    And if you dig a bit deeper, you realize where Mr Ceiling Cat’s sympathies lie:

    Now I’ve listened to a lot of Milo’s talk, and besides the attack on the student, it was, as usual, provocative and challenging to Leftists. Had he omitted the bit about the student, I see it as an appropriate talk, and I have to say that I agree with some of the bits on identity politics….

    P.S: I could say a lot more about Coyne but here’s another link: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/uc-berkeley-faculty-and-students-call-for-campus-boycott-during-free-speech-week/

    So apparently, boycotting classes and speeches is not something that you should allowed to be doing. If someone invites a jackass to spout opinions that you have heard a million times already from the millions of other oassholes all around the globe, you should shut up and listen anyways or else you are a regressive leftie!

    And then there is this bit:

    What’s most interesting are those departmental affiliations. Nearly every signer is from the humanities: gender studies, film studies, history of art, rhetoric, film and media, ethnic studies, English, African American studies, theater and dance performance, comparative literature, and so on. The only people even close to being scientists are one faculty member and one graduate student in anthropology, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and someone of unspecified rank from the Department of Public Health and Medical Anthropology. That’s a total of four people not in the humanities, or 3%.

    Why do you suppose that is? Where are the biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and so on? Indeed, there’s not even anyone there from philosophy!

    No, I think it’s because the departments represented by the signatories have been polluted by postmodernism, which in effect denies that there’s any truth to be found and, by extension, rejects debate, reason, and argument as a way to effect progress. They simply espouse an Accepted Dogma that can’t be questioned.

    That’s where Jerry Coyne’s sympathies lie. If you are against humanities, you are doing fine, even if the Professor wags his finger at you from time to time.

  81. billyjoe says

    For the record, I have also been banned from commenting on Jerry Coyne’s blog.

    (I was banned because I called him out for putting up some other poster’s comment for everyone to criticise whilst simultaneously banning him and hence effectively denying him a right of reply)

  82. billyjoe says

    Lotharloo,
    We are talking about the headline of PZ’s post – it is clearly and obviously incorrect that Steven Pinker’s sympathies lie with the Alt Right.
    I’m not sure why that is so hard to admit.

  83. lotharloo says

    @billyjoe:

    I don’t agree with how PZ words it but he has a point. Let’s review:

    1) Pinker distorts facts and claims that it is “flamingly radical to claim that capitalist societies are better than communist ones”. As PZ points out, this is absolutely false and there is no evidence for it.

    2) Pinker calls them highly intelligent. This is another bullshit claim. There is no one on the alt-right who can be described that way. No one. Zero. They are all fucking idiots, even though you can technically be a racist and smart, I cannot think of even one person who qualifies for the title of “highly intelligent”. Spencer? Nope. Milo? Nope. Coulter? Nope. Sargan? Bhahahahah. Jordan B Peterson? LOL.

    I personally think that Pinker (as well as Coyne) have some sympathies with alt-right: they want to bash “political correctness”, they want to be “anti-sjw”, they want to be edgy and bash “trigger warnings”, the idea of “cultural appropriation” etc. etc.. That’s where they sympathize with alt-right. So while I think PZ’s title is a bit inaccurate, I don’t think he is way off. And if you read Coyne blog, you know this and you know he sympathizes with alt-right on all of these points.

  84. robertandrews says

    lotharloo: “I personally think that Pinker (as well as Coyne) have some sympathies with alt-right: they want to bash “political correctness”, they want to be “anti-sjw”, they want to be edgy and bash “trigger warnings”, the idea of “cultural appropriation” etc. etc.. That’s where they sympathize with alt-right. So while I think PZ’s title is a bit inaccurate, I don’t think he is way off. And if you read Coyne blog, you know this and you know he sympathizes with alt-right on all of these points.”

    This is total rubbish, and just looks like an attempt to salvage the smear job that has been shown to be baseless.

    Pinker points out some statements that are met with censorious disapprobation in left-wing or university settings and the response is censorious disapprobation. Then the very statements are picked over to show that while, yes, they might kinda sorta be true, they aren’t the full story dontchaknow! This is in ignorance of the fact that Pinker himself explains in the bit that was cut off that these statements are true but not the whole story, and that he brings up all the objections himself almost word-for-word. Yet, the people posting here while having to accept that they were off-target still maintain that they are right anyway because of “PC” or “trigger warnings”. Jesus! Don’t you think that maybe Pinker (and Coyne) are true to their word that they don’t want to see censorship on campus and that they have nothing to do with the alt-right?

  85. says

    @101, lotharloo

    they want to bash “political correctness”, they want to be “anti-sjw”, they want to be edgy and bash “trigger warnings”, the idea of “cultural appropriation” etc. etc.. That’s where they sympathize with alt-right.

    I don’t think that list of contentions adds up to “alt-right”. Your confusing all opposition to these things, with the alt-right. But the alt-right is a much more specific subset of opposition. It is the white nationalist nazi type:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alt-right

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Alt-right

  86. Vivec says

    @102

    Don’t you think that maybe Pinker (and Coyne) are true to their word that they don’t want to see censorship on campus and that they have nothing to do with the alt-right?

    No, not really. If nothing else, they’re useful idiots that share goals with the alt-right, and that’s enough for me.

  87. gmacs says

    The fact that Pinker likes to blame black people for racism* (Don’t call out racism too harshly, or white people will just be more racist) and feminists for sexism (same argument but with men) is all I need to know to dismiss him as a person to listen to.

    And yes, I think that’s enough, because those are terrible stances to take. First of all, that is the only thing that makes me feel offended as a white male: the idea that I might be one harsh criticism away from throwing on a Klan hood or “swallowing the red pill”. Second, if calling out racism only makes racism worse, than what recourse is left to the oppressed?

    *Oh, how he loves to condescend to Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter.

  88. lotharloo says

    @robertandrews:

    This is total rubbish

    Heh. So I assume if I show evidence you will correct yourself? I hope so, brace yourself:

    Pinker: “Life is triggering, the best literature should be” plugging a confused article against trigger warnings by Coyne https://twitter.com/sapinker/status/598925647495491586?lang=en

    Pinker tweeting another confused article about “cultural appropriation”: https://twitter.com/sapinker/status/875049579795931137?lang=en

    And of course Pinker is a favorite of “anti-sjw” and in fact they do a very nice job of clipping his talks which makes it very easy for me to find his confused view:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFfCXgWr9zk
    Here is one where he babbles about “intolerance in the left” and plugs “Christina Hoff Sommers” who was obviously banned by the left from ever using internet and sentenced to house arrest … just kidding, she was merely criticized which in the deluded mind of Pinker is an intolerable offense!

    So I guess I covered all of my claims. But enough about me. Now it’s time for you to put up some evidence:

    Pinker points out some statements that are met with censorious disapprobation in left-wing

    Provide when any of those three statements were met by “censorious disapprobation” (and once again, criticism IS NOT CENSORSHIP).

  89. lotharloo says

    @Brian:

    I don’t think that list of contentions adds up to “alt-right”.

    I am not claiming Pinker is alt-right. I am saying he has sympathies with alt-right on those issues. This is related to the discussion of whether PZ’s article title is misleading or dishonest. I think PZ could have titled this post differently but I don’t think it is too off. Coyne, Pinker as well as many on the left have a lot of sympathies with right and alt-right when it comes to these cultural issues (you can take the latest Sam Harris podcast with Shapiro as another evidence in this direction).

  90. says

    @107, lotharloo

    I am saying he has sympathies with alt-right on those issues.

    And sympathies (on those issues, among others) with people who oppose the alt right.

    So what does your statement even mean then? What does the alt-right have to do with it?

  91. lotharloo says

    @Brian Pansky:

    You can have sympathies with alt-right on issues X,Y and oppose them on issues Z, T. And? The point is that their stance on issues X and Y is quite ignorant (at best) and they do not see that alt-right’s position on X and Y aligns very nicely with their support for Z and T.

    What does the alt-right have to do with it?

    I’m not sure what you mean by this but alt-right is a prominent group among the “anti-feminist”, “anti-racism”, “anti social justice” etc etc. groups and talking about alt-right was part of the original discussion (based on Pinker’s “[them being] highly intelligent” comment).

  92. lotharloo says

    @Stephen Mills:
    Are you high or just incapable of reading comprehension?

    Quote by Steven Pinker:

    [it is] flamingly radical to claim that capitalist societies are better than communist ones

    PZ Myers at OP:

    I’m just going to have to say it outright: Pinker is lying here. These are all ideas that are routinely discussed at universities.

    So if your claim is PZ fucked up and Pinker is correct, show me one instance where someone was censored for claiming what Pinker said. One example. Just one fucking example.

    So again, are you capable of reading or what?

  93. Vivec says

    @110

    PZ just server them up a beautiful example that does nothing but give credence to these claims.

    If you’re arguing from the sheer optics and pragmaticism of this act, I think you’re operating under the fundamental misunderstanding that regressive skeptics like Coyne and PZ’s detractors would think any better of him regardless of what he did.

    By this point, PZ is such a memetic boogeyman for the anti-SJ Skeptic community that he could probably mea culpa and reject all his SJ beliefs, and they’d still mock him for “selling out to the regressive left” or whatever.

  94. lotharloo says

    @114:

    Yes your typo confused me but did PZ completely change his post at some point? Because if not then I cannot make sense of your post on iota. PZ’s entire point at OP is that Pinker is lying and that all of these are being discussed and none of them are problematic for discussion. If you accept this, then what the fuck is it that PZ fucked up about? That seems to be the entire point.

  95. ojalaquellueva says

    PZ does an excellent job of making Steven Pinker’s points for him. Most people familiar with Steven Pinker will probably have a hard time getting past the title. If you’re not familiar with Steven Pinker, try substituting “the Pope’s” for “Steven Pinker’s” and “Isis” for “alt-right” to get an idea of how ludicrous it sounds.

    Steven Pinker often uses the rhetorical technique of setting up a sympathetic counter argument, then flipping it around to demolish it. You can see this technique in action if you watch the full video clip which PZ links to at the bottom (not the truncated clip which PZ uses to support his claims, and which includes only the counter argument). I urge you to watch it carefully and in its entirety before commenting on this post.

    For a good discussion of why this post is misleading, see this recent commentary by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne:

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/surprise-pinker-smeared-again-by-those-who-distort-his-words/

    Another post discusses the strange practice of willful misrepresentation, using examples of how statements by both Chris Harris and Steven Pinker have been quoted out of context to imply meanings exactly opposite to what was intended. Harris and Pinker, along with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, are frequent targets of such misrepresentation.

    https://concretemilkshake.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/playing-dumb-the-masochism-of-misrepresentation/

    For those not familiar with the writings of Steven Pinker, rather than basing your opinion of him on this misleading post, I recommend starting with his important and very readable book “The Better Angels of our Nature”. He is a wonderful writer.

  96. Vivec says

    I don’t think you’re really going to find anyone here with much sympathy for teh poor misrerpesented regressive atheist community.

    Definitely not me – anything worth listening to from Hitchens, Dawkins, or Harris has long since been devalued by their support for war, racism, torture, and misogyny.

  97. lotharloo says

    @ojalaquellueva:

    Oh really?
    Quote from Pinker at around 1:30:

    In university campuses this statement [Capitalist societies better than communist ones] is considered a flamingly radical statement

    Got any evidence for that or is Pinker full of shit?

    Also, for my take on Jerry Coyne see 98.

  98. lotharloo says

    @117:

    I looked and I cannot see them. Maybe you can point them out? As far as I can see PZ has been saying the exact same thing: Pinker is lying and distorting facts which even you admit to be the case.

  99. says

    robertandrews

    Pinker points out some statements that are met with censorious disapprobation in left-wing or university settings and the response is censorious disapprobation.

    And your evidence for that is? I mean, apart from “because Steven Pinker says so”. Because that’s the crux of the matter: Pinker is lying, because half the fucking humanities are dealing exactly with those questions. There’s tons of academic writing on different life choices in men and women, or people studying current Middle Eastern politics.
    It is a lie and it is a lie that does exactly do one thing: demonize the nasty “politically correct left” and humanise the fascists who are just bright innocent kids being mislead by the Alt Reich because the aforementioned pc police repressed those fucking truths.

    And connect that with Jerry F. Coyne:

    What’s most interesting are those departmental affiliations. Nearly every signer is from the humanities: gender studies, film studies, history of art, rhetoric, film and media, ethnic studies, English, African American studies, theater and dance performance, comparative literature, and so on. The only people even close to being scientists are one faculty member and one graduate student in anthropology, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and someone of unspecified rank from the Department of Public Health and Medical Anthropology. That’s a total of four people not in the humanities, or 3%.

    It’s pure hatred against the humanities, not because they are suppressing some truths but because they are actually asking some uncomfortable questions.

  100. Saad says

    Still waiting for him to flip this one:

    Scientists’ March on Washington plan compromises its goals with anti-science PC/identity politics/hard-left rhetoric

  101. logicalcat says

    I mean for fucks sakes guys. Not putting the blame on the alt-right for their odious views by lieing about the expression of certain controversial facts being oppressed IS sympathizing with teh alt-right. He basically shifts teh blame onto those darned SJW/pc brigade.

    Also you Pinker apologists cant read. More than once you accuse PZ of distorting what he is saying while simultaneously distorting what he, and some of us too, are saying and this is done with a complete unawareness of your own hypocrisy in doing so.

  102. logicalcat says

    And as Saad and myself earlier in this thread have pointed out, this particular article about Pinker was not written in a vacuum. He DOES have past behavior of sympathizing with the far right and repeating similar bullshit they themselves made up.

    You know what? Ive seen this behavior a lot from so called leftists/progressive. they claim to be progressive, spout the right canards, the right words, make fun of and critizise the ‘right’ people, and its all fine. The minute…the SECOND, someone calls that person out on their own behavior and criticize them and all of a sudden its “Political Correctness gone mad!!” and “the regressive left SJW”. Thats what Pinker is.

  103. says

    Oh, please. Pinker’s whole thesis is that the alt-right is a reaction against dishonest representation of the facts by the academic left, and he lists a set of what he calls “facts” that he claims are not discussed by the Left. That he later tries to set himself up as the reasonable centrist who does discuss the complexities of those issues does not change the fact that he is fucking LYING about what is taught in sociology or criminal justice or political science courses. Hardly anyone would teach that communism is an unalloyed superior philosophy to capitalism (or the reverse). No one tries to hide the fact that individuals have diverse physiologies, or claim that men and women are identical. Courses on the history and sociology of middle eastern cultures are always wrestling with the causes of real differences in those societies.

    Read what I wrote. Listen to what he said. He actually said that he was listing “true statements that have never been voiced on college campuses”. That is an indefensible lie.

  104. billyjoe says

    Lotharloo,

    Let me put it as simply as I can:

    Pinker: Claim X is censored. Claim X is WRONG.
    Alt Right: Claim X is consored. Claim X is CORRECT.

    If we agree that claim X is not censored, all that means is that Steven Pinker and the Alt Right are both wrong about that.

    To believe that Steven Pinker sympathises with the Alt Right, you would have to believe that Steven Pinker agrees with the Alt Right that claim X is correct.

    Either that or you have a pretty loose definition of the word “sympathise”.

  105. Vivec says

    @127
    He called the supposedly censored claims “facts”, so yes that would imply that he believes them to be true, by definition.

  106. rietpluim says

    In my experience, virtually everybody who positioned themselves in the political center, was a flat out Nazi.

  107. Vivec says

    @129
    Color me surprised. By its very nature, maintaining a centrist position implies tempering beneficial, constructive ideas with racism and greed.

    Even the centrists that don’t become out-and-out nazis act as useful idiots (See: ‘classical liberal’ Youtube Skeptics that act chummy with nazis due to their shared hate for feminism and give fascist thinkers a platform.)

  108. says

    “Capitalist societies are better than communist ones.”

    Actually, I’d say that this isn’t even that clear-cut a truism, considering that it depends on what one means by “capitalist”, “communist”, “better”, and the time period being discussed. For instance the difference between the North Korean and South Korean economies today is enormous and obvious, but in the 1960s, North Korea had a GNP per capita above South Korea’s.

    Also, if we’re in the 1960s, does the Soviet Union count as “communist” and Brazil count as “capitalist”? Who’s society is “better”? If we’re talking about today, is China communist or capitalist, and why? Is its society “worse” than, say, Liberia?

    This is not to defend communism, but just to point out that if Pinker is really saying that richer, more open societies are richer and more open than authoritarian autarkies, well, he’s making a circular statement, not stating a truth.

  109. lotharloo says

    @billyjoe:
    Wait, what? I think you got it backwards. Let’s play the game more realistically.

    Alt-right:
    1) Facts, X_1, X_2,… are true (“most inventions being by white males”, “stats about advancement of western societies”, “backwardness of some other societies”, “so many awards won by males”, “so many top whatever professions being white males”, etc. etc.).

    2) Facts X_1, X_2, … are being censored. They don’t let you talk about them. They are trying to suppress you. They are trying to make you be ashamed of being a white male.

    3) We need to stand up, we need to fight. There is tyranny against white culture.

    4) Women/other select races are inferior. They are being imported to our country. We need to fight them back. White genocide! Yadda yadda!

    5) If they win, white culture is gone, human race is doomed because the genius white race is destroyed! Blah blah.

    Facts in step 1 are correct and everyone including Pinker agrees that there are other more reasonable explanations for them. However, Pinker lies about step 2 and goes pretty much up to middle of step 3 in his crusade about “regressive left”. So there, he has sympathies with alt-right about a major part of their identities (them being suppressed and censored).

  110. says

    Follow up thought:

    Maybe if Pinker thinks that no one on college campuses claims “Capitalist societies are better than communist ones” is a truth, it’s because even college freshmen are supposed to know not to treat a normative statement like a factual one.

  111. robertandrews says

    lotharloo: “I assume if I show evidence you will correct yourself? I hope so, brace yourself:”

    You misunderstand. I am not saying he doesn’t criticize PC, trigger warnings or the like. I am saying that it does not mean he is sympathetic to the alt-right.

    You can argue that just like most people on the alt-right, Pinker has two eyes and a nose, but those are weasel-words. The implication PZ Myers is making is that Steven Pinker essentially agrees with all the things that make the alt-right bad, hence the post title…

    “If you ever doubted that Steven Pinker’s sympathies lie with the alt-right Just watch this clip.”

    But as we have established, the clip is dishonestly cut in such a way that it removes all the points that Pinker himself makes to refute the conclusions that the alt-right come to.
    Now you and the majority of commenters here are trying to distract from the fact that Pinker is blatantly opposed to alt-right conclusions by bringing in all kinds of other rationales. What PZ Myers needs to do first is admit he was wrong.

  112. robertandrews says

    PZ Myers: “Read what I wrote. Listen to what he said. He actually said that he was listing “true statements that have never been voiced on college campuses”. That is an indefensible lie.”

    We did read what you wrote. You wrote a number of indefensible lies to the effect that Pinker’s sympathies lie with the alt-right.

    I will make a prediction that at some point on his next book tour, Pinker will face a lot of opposition to speaking on campus because there are rumours afloat that he is a member (or fellow traveller or useful idiot) of the alt-right.

  113. Vivec says

    @134

    The implication PZ Myers is making is that Steven Pinker essentially agrees with all the things that make the alt-right bad, hence the post title…

    He agrees with a substantial amount of negative beliefs that the alt-right holds, as well as apparently believing some dubious as fuck “facts” that just happen to support the alt-right position.

    By that point, yeah, I’m pretty cool with calling him sympathetic to them.

  114. logicalcat says

    @robertandrews

    Shifting the blame to pc/sjws is being sympathetic to them. Whats the indefensible lie PZ made? The brunt of his post is about how Pinker is lieing about what gets talked about in colleges.

  115. Saad says

    robertandrews, #134

    You can argue that just like most people on the alt-right, Pinker has two eyes and a nose, but those are weasel-words.

    But pretty much everybody has two eyes and a nose. A nose isn’t a defining characteristic of the alt-right. Whining about political correctness (we all know what that’s code for) and things like diversity and BLM is.

    The implication PZ Myers is making is that Steven Pinker essentially agrees with all the things that make the alt-right bad, hence the post title…

    I think that would be a pretty unfair implication to make. He doesn’t agree with all the things the alt-right says. Just some of them.

  116. Saad says

    logicalcat, #137

    Shifting the blame to pc/sjws is being sympathetic to them.

    This is really all that needs to be said. I don’t know what’s so hard to understand about that.

  117. says

    Robertandrews
    1. I’m still waiting for your evidence that what Pinker says is actually true.
    2. How would you call it when somebody makes up lies about group A in order to (partly) excuse the actions of group B?
    3. If you are worried about the hypothetical backlash Pinker might face in the future, how worried are you about actual death threats made against a black professor and his child?
    That is a climate stirred by people like Pinker.

  118. robertandrews says

    Vivec, “He agrees with a substantial amount of negative beliefs that the alt-right holds, as well as apparently believing some dubious as fuck “facts” that just happen to support the alt-right position.”

    Then you have obviously been fooled by the edited video clip into thinking he supports the alt-right positions when the ENTIRE point of him doing so was to argue that they do NOT support the alt-right.

    logicalcat: “Shifting the blame to pc/sjws is being sympathetic to them.”

    Again, you misunderstand what he is doing. He’s arguing that certain tactics (such as no-platforming) have a counterproductive effect, and that it is better to be, and to be seen to be, open to discussing all views. Even if you disagree that there is campus censorship, the widespread perception of it, in his opinion, strengthens the alt-right which he is clearly describing as a Bad Thing! Your eagerness to shove him into the same camp as the alt-right, as PZ Myers and others here are doing, is symptomatic of the very problem he is identifying.

    Saad: “This is really all that needs to be said. I don’t know what’s so hard to understand about that.”

    That’s all that needs to be said? Really? So, a mention of PC and a disagreement with campus policies on freedom of expression is enough to put Steven Pinker in the same camp as white supremacists and nationalists? Do you not understand how this is an egregious smear? You cannot be familiar with Steven Pinker or his work and think that he is in any way sympathetic to people who are effectively neo-Nazis.

  119. robertandrews says

    Giliel,

    1. I’m still waiting for your evidence that what Pinker says is actually true.
    2. How would you call it when somebody makes up lies about group A in order to (partly) excuse the actions of group B?
    3. If you are worried about the hypothetical backlash Pinker might face in the future, how worried are you about actual death threats made against a black professor and his child?
    That is a climate stirred by people like Pinker.”

    1. This is actually irrelevant to the charge that he is sympathetic to the alt-right. This has been said a number of times already.
    2. If Group B is the alt-right, then he is not excusing their actions. He is arguing that Group A are being counter-productive.
    3. That link doesn’t work, but actual death threats are horrific and disgusting. It is also disgusting to argue that Pinker is responsible for these death threats. There is no way that he would support such things.

  120. Vivec says

    @141
    Nope. By his own words and the words of his own supporters in this very fucking thread, he opposes “pc culture”, “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces” and the like. That’s enough regressive bullshit to make him a useful idiot for the alt-right.

  121. says

    Which is it? Is it “one valid argument is buried in an post of otherwise total bullshit” or is it “He just keeps repeating his one valid argument”?

    I have to say it’s really hard to argue against this “blame political correctness” bullshit when its fervent proponents like to pretend that the bullshit doesn’t exist.

  122. goon says

    Checking in after a long time…

    Yup, PZ and his groupies are still a group of intellectually dishonest douchebags.

    Have a good one.

  123. logicalcat says

    @Stephen Mills. Maybe you are new here, but yes that line means he added it later. The longer version doesn’t change anything. Pinker is a liar.

  124. logicalcat says

    @robertandrews

    So, a mention of PC and a disagreement with campus policies on freedom of expression is enough to put Steven Pinker in the same camp as white supremacists and nationalists?

    No. Saying someone is sympathetic to the alt right is not the same thing as saying you are a nazi. No one here is thinking in absolutes. All it means is that he sympathizes with them. Exactly what I said. Or at the very least he is a useful idiot for them. He is not on the same camp…he is adjacent to them.

    Again, you misunderstand what he is doing. He’s arguing that certain tactics (such as no-platforming) have a counterproductive effect, and that it is better to be, and to be seen to be, open to discussing all views. Even if you disagree that there is campus censorship, the widespread perception of it, in his opinion, strengthens the alt-right which he is clearly describing as a Bad Thing! Your eagerness to shove him into the same camp as the alt-right, as PZ Myers and others here are doing, is symptomatic of the very problem he is identifying.

    I understand well what is happening. The appearance of censorship is counterproductive to combating the alt-right, as you say. Except, who is here helping to perpetuate the appearance of censorship? Pinker is. He is making excuses for them using one of their own lies. That is being sympathetic. There is no widespread censorship of the ideas he expresses. People who get no platformed are usually terrible trolls who offer nothing new to the discussion, a discussion that’s been talked to death. There are also plenty of leftists speakers who have also been no platformed. He should know. Hell, he does know. It is a lie. If you lie for a group, you are sympathetic to that group. Sorry.*

    What WE are saying is that the alt-right gets strengthen thanks to useful idiots like Pinker who offer an excuse which Nazis use to validate their own stupidity and hatred. To use a parallel on the left; its like Bill Maher or Jill Stein saying that “vaccines are good, I’m not an anti-vaxxer yall. Now if you will excuse me I’m going to spend the next several minutes rehashing popular lies common among anti-vaxxers BUT YOU CANT SAY i’M ONE OF THEM NA NA NA NA NA NA!” and then to no ones surprise (except their apologists) they have a large anti-vaxx audience. Thats Pinker, except with common alt-right tropes. Centrists are more damaging than the alt-right, at least that’s my opinion. And that’s because they aid extremism by offering excuses and shifting blame. You cant do that without sympathizing with them. If he had no sympathies, he wouldn’t have said shit. He wouldn’t care. There were people who were sympathetic to Spencer for getting punched. I wouldnt put them in the same camp as Nazis. So enough of that disingenuous bullshit.

    Again I must state, no, he is not a Nazi or part of the alt-right. He is just their tool. Knowingly or not I don’t know.

    *Not sorry.

  125. says

    Stephen Mills, if you don’t want to be accused of sympathizing with the Nazis, maybe dont introduce them as “bright young people” and then argue that they are just being seduced by the baddies, but it is really the fault of the horrible “pc police”, about whom you then shamelessly lie.

  126. Saad says

    robertandrews, #141

    That’s all that needs to be said? Really? So, a mention of PC and a disagreement with campus policies on freedom of expression is enough to put Steven Pinker in the same camp as white supremacists and nationalists?

    No, I didn’t say a “mention of PC and a disagreement with campus policies” is all that needs to be said. How did you get that? I even quoted specifically what I was referring to:

    Shifting the blame to pc/sjws is being sympathetic to them [the alt-right].

    Also, he’s not merely “mentioning” PC. He’s taking a very bad position on it.

    If one of your views, if put into full practice, would make the cause of the alt-right a little bit easier to achieve, then you are effectively sympathetic to them.

  127. says

    This article by the NYT was good…the over reaction to this clip is pretty ridiculous and demonstrates poor critical thinking. The reaction seems to be tribal emotionalism, from my perspective.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/social-media-dumber-steven-pinker.html

    Also, I see many here calling Steven Pinker stupid. How can one of the world’s most influential intellectuals (not to mention a brilliant Harvard professor) be stupid? He might be wrong, but it’s incredibly dimwitted to call him stupid as many here are doing. Again, it’s emotion, not critical thinking or logic. I also see a lot of religious zeal among atheists on the left on many political subjects…that’s a bit ironic to me as a fellow atheist…

    “Pinker has been named as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals by various magazines. He has won awards from the American Psychological Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society and the American Humanist Association. He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013. He has served on the editorial boards of a variety of journals, and on the advisory boards of several institutions. He has frequently participated in public debates on science and society and is a regular contributor to the online science and culture digest 3 Quarks Daily.”

  128. robertandrews says

    logicalcat: “What WE are saying is that the alt-right gets strengthen thanks to useful idiots like Pinker who offer an excuse which Nazis use to validate their own stupidity and hatred.”

    The only way that Nazis get to use Pinker’s work to validate their own stupidity and hatred is by misrepresenting him in exactly the same way that PZ Myers and his disciples do, i.e. by pretending that a dishonestly edited video exemplifies his thoughts on the alt-right.

    logicalcat: “To use a parallel on the left; its like Bill Maher or Jill Stein saying that “vaccines are good, I’m not an anti-vaxxer yall. Now if you will excuse me I’m going to spend the next several minutes rehashing popular lies common among anti-vaxxers BUT YOU CANT SAY i’M ONE OF THEM NA NA NA NA NA NA!” and then to no ones surprise (except their apologists) they have a large anti-vaxx audience.”

    Analogy fail. Pinker demonstrated that alt-right arguments fail. Pinker does not have a “large alt-right audience”. You may not have got the memo, but the alt-right are anti-semites, and Pinker is Jewish.

    logicalcat: “Thats Pinker, except with common alt-right tropes. Centrists are more damaging than the alt-right, at least that’s my opinion.”

    Not a Nazi, but worse? That’s just silly, depending on what you mean by “centrist”. Do I take it that this is a bogeyman term of yours or other members of the forum here?

    logicalcat: “And that’s because they aid extremism by offering excuses and shifting blame. You cant do that without sympathizing with them. If he had no sympathies, he wouldn’t have said shit. He wouldn’t care. There were people who were sympathetic to Spencer for getting punched. I wouldnt put them in the same camp as Nazis. So enough of that disingenuous bullshit.”

    To me, most of you here are just doing a kind of Godwin argument. All of you know that to call someone an alt-right sympathizer is essentially to make them beyond the pale. And it is doing so without properly investigating Pinker’s argument.

    If you really want to tackle Pinker’s argument, all you have to do is show examples of the very things he says you can’t say on campus being freely said on campus. You could probably collect lecture notes and PowerPoint slides of professors saying the very things that Pinker believes you cannot. That would be a refutation of his argument.

    But for some reason, that is not what you people want to do. Instead, the bucket of slime is necessary, and you don’t care if your argument is fallacious. It is basically a vindictive and spiteful tactic, and your protestations that you are not calling him alt-right, only sympathetic to the alt-right are similar to Jim Carrey or Jenny McCarthy saying that they are not against vaccines, and then spouting a bunch of anti-vaxx bullshit.

    logicalcat: “Again I must state, no, he is not a Nazi or part of the alt-right. He is just their tool. Knowingly or not I don’t know.”

    Is this, “I’m not saying he’s alt-right…but he’s alt-right!”

  129. robertandrews says

    Giliel: “So I conclude that robertandrews is simply ok with Pinker lying and the effects this has.”

    You haven’t demonstrated any effect. You have asserted, without evidence, that somehow, in some way, Pinker has been responsible for death threats against a black professor. But you have not even bothered to fill in the blanks. The argument is…

    A: Pinker rubbishes PC and blames it for Trump getting elected.
    B: ?????
    C: bad climate.
    D: ????
    E: Death threats against a black professor

    In conclusion: Pinker is responsible and Robert Andrews is okay with it.

    If that’s your conclusion you may want to ask logicalcat for some lessons. Speaking of which…

  130. robertandrews says

    logicalcat/ Saad: “Shifting the blame to pc/sjws is being sympathetic to them. [alt-right]”

    Well then, Slavoj Zizek is apparently sympathetic to the alt-right. If your argument leads to patently absurd conclusions like that, then it is probably not a very good argument.

    This is why I say it is essentially a Godwin argument. It isn’t one that should be taken seriously. If someone is a vegetarian, there will always be some dickhead who will say, “You know who else was a vegetarian? Hitler!” And if someone is against circumcision or kosher food preparation, “You know who else was against circumcision or kosher food preparation? Hitler!”

    And you need to be careful when making this argument because others can also make their own arbitrary defnitions for “sympathetic to the alt-right” which might be just as persuasive.

    PZ Myers thinks Islam is vile. You know who also thinks Islam is vile? The alt-right. Therefore PZ Myers is sympathetic to the alt-right.

    Do you see how easy it is to slime someone?

  131. robertandrews says

    Oh, and what happened to Stephen Mills’s posts? The ones I read seemed civil enough and argued the points under discussion. What did he do that received the non-existent censorious disapprobation that never happens?

  132. says

    Robertandrews
    What is it now?
    Does Pinker have any effect on debates and political climates or not?
    And if “brilliant Harvard professor” blatantly lying doesn’t have any effects, then what is the big deal with PZ and his post?
    Also, either your reading comprehension is sub par or you are pulling a Pinker here by claiming I blamed Pinker directly for the death threats.

  133. says

    If you ever doubted that this site makes dishonest posts…
    DO NOT just watch the embedded clip! Watch the entire thing, and you will see what a horrible job of quote mining this hit piece is. Trigger warning! The whole clip is only for people who want to know the truth. It is only for those who want to go on and see that Pinker’s WHOLE premise was that, rather than saying “oh no, he didn’t go THERE!” implying subjects that should not be discussed in any context, that if the facts are not brought out and discussed by decent people in the full context of all the reasons that might account for them, some people will be more susceptible to accepting the radical extremist conclusions of the alt-right. His entire presentation was literally a warning to others that what people like (IMO) PZ are doing is strengthening the alt-right and that is a BAD thing. The Daily Stormer literally reported this talk as honestly as Pharyngula – though with a lot of disgusting irrelevancies thrown in. But both are quote mining Pinker to portray his talk as being almost the diametric opposite of what it really was. And as I read the comments here, it is clear that few if any of you bothered to watch the entire talk, so the quote mine worked. If you were creationists, you would be claiming that Darwin admitted that the human eye could not have evolved.

  134. says

    @Pat
    Specifically which part of the video demonstrates which part of PZ’s post is wrong?
    At the minimum a time point and quotes from the video and PZ’s piece are required.

    I note that none of your comment is relatable to anything specific in PZ’s piece.

  135. says

    Brony,
    You mean aside from the dishonest title? Let’s start with this:

    “Different ethnic groups commit violent crimes at different rates. Oh, yeah, he went there. Look at crime statistics and all those violent black criminals! We’re done, that’s all the analysis you need to do (and, by the way, those leftist college professors do not deny the statistics at all). But why do black communities have higher crime rates? It wouldn’t have anything to do with poverty, or discriminatory policing, or the existence of laws that basically criminalize being poor, would it?”

    If you watched the whole talk, you would KNOW what a dishonest straw man this is. Pinker continued on pointing out several non-racial factors likely to be the cause of those statistics, and even noted that long ago crime and violent crime among the Irish in America was much higher than most groups but is no more, and concluded that there is no reason to think that the same result can likely be achieved for racial minorities today if those other factors are addressed. Yet PZ portrayed his comments without this, and instead dishonestly implied that Pinker had ignored those things when PZ said, “We’re done, that’s all the analysis you need to do”. I have added two others, and could go on further, but this comment will already be too long. You really need look no further than this first example to see that this post is dishonest.

    “He starts out by explaining that the alt-right are “highly literate, highly intelligent people” who have been “radicalized” by exposure to “true statements that have never been voiced on college campuses”. You see, once Leftist dogma has been exposed as a falsehood, these bright young people just take the red pill and veer way off in the opposite direction.”

    That bears no resemblance to Pinker’s thesis, and I assume PZ is intelligent enough to know this. Pinker never once mention “dogma being exposed as lies”. He was speaking of situations such as I have been dealing with with my nephew. A senior at UCLA, he had taken some women’s studies courses, and business courses, and business ethics courses, and never once been exposed to reputable studies indicating that the wage gap as he had been repeatedly told of was at the very least questionable. He had also never been exposed to the meta data behind campus rape studies which once he was, he knew form his courses on statistical analysis made those studies which he had been presented with as fact, highly questionable. He was first exposed to these facts by alt-right people, and did jumped to the conclusion that important truths were being hidden, or at least not included as important parts of his education, and rather than doing further careful research to discover if the original claims still had merit or not, he jumped to the conclusion that the alt-right and their conclusions were most likely correct. I have been (at least on some of the things he began buying into) managed to talk him down where my research had shown alt-right conclusions to be wrong, BTW, wage gap was not one of those. But Pinker never implied that the ideas of the left had been exposed as lies in reality, but that it can SEEM that way, if all sides are not discussed reasonably. And if Brad’s experience is anything close to representative, they are not. He was booed, and not allowed to finish his thesis presentation to one of his business classes. The topic was the real wage gap, and how we can address it. The contention was that most of the EARNINGS gap can be accounted for by factors outside the control of an employer, such as job selection, hours worked, etc. but that there still was an estimated 4% to 6% gap that could not be easily accounted for, and he had suggested that using the false meme of women earning 77 cents to a man’s dollar for the same work detracts from actually eliminating the difference which may well be due to bias. Despite his peer-reviewed data, and careful analysis, his 30 minute presentation was cut off at just over 15 minutes and he was told he would need to submit a new thesis or fail the class.

    “I’m just going to have to say it outright: Pinker is lying here. These are all ideas that are routinely discussed at universities.”

    That which is asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence. I do know that SOME universities (thankfully, my Alma Mater among them have done a fairly good job of maintaining a semblance of open discussion, in that they do not allow “no-platforming”, or protesters blocking or disrupting controversial speakers. The problem is that, even in MY university, there are many topics that are avoided in classrooms, and that is part of the problem that Pinker is trying to expose. If the ONLY people discussing these things are the alt-right (and often they are) then the only context in which students are exposed to these facts is a bad and biased one. There was a story from my university, with a full excerpt from a text of a class called social dynamics and their economic impacts. In one chapter the 77 cents to a dollar wage (not earnings) gap myth was presented as fact, and used as an example of how systemic bias still exists in the workplace. Nothing in the class presents even the possibility of any other option. So if some alt-right loon shows up on campus with a bevy of peer-reviewed research calling that claim into question, no sane student would NOT wonder if they were not being given the whole truth in their classes.

  136. chris61 says

    @164 Brony & @166 Nerd

    Seriously dudes? That’s the best you can do? It’s an eight minute video. Somebody tells you PZ quote mined it and rather than devoting eight minutes to ascertaining whether or not that’s true, you want them to demonstrate that by quote mining it in turn? You should be embarrassed to call yourselves skeptics!

  137. vucodlak says

    @ Pat Doyle, #163

    The whole clip is only for people who want to know the truth. It is only for those who want to go on and see that Pinker’s WHOLE premise was that, rather than saying “oh no, he didn’t go THERE!” implying subjects that should not be discussed in any context, that if the facts are not brought out and discussed by decent people in the full context of all the reasons that might account for them, some people will be more susceptible to accepting the radical extremist conclusions of the alt-right.

    Pinker’s WHOLE premise rests on the lie that “PC culture” and safe spaces are strangling all discussion of controversial topics on campus when, in fact, these controversial topics are discussed in great detail at universities all around the US. This most definitely includes the topics Pinker brings up as examples of things that you supposedly aren’t allowed to talk about.

    I’ve watched the whole 8-minute video, not the abbreviated version. Pinker doesn’t do away with this lie. He doubles down on it. This lie is a favorite of the alt-right, and a major talking-point of every right-wing media outlet I’ve encountered. This is where the accusation of sympathizing with the alt-right comes from- Pinker is carrying water for them by spreading this nonsense.

    Also?

    Trigger warning!

    Just FYI: Using terms one obviously doesn’t understand always carries a risk of making the user look like a damn fool.

  138. Dave Grain says

    chigau: what the fuck does it have to do with you why they are “still here”? Who died and made you the FTB pope?

    Sorry for not adding anything to the discussion myself here, but this kind of petty, pointless bullying from the usual suspects (chigau, nerd) really pisses me off.

  139. chigau (違う) says

    Dave Grain
    chris61 has been commenting here for quite some time, usually to whinge.
    you … I don’t know from a proverbial terran aperture.
    Are you asking for attention?

  140. vucodlak says

    @ chigau (違う), #171

    I’ve noticed Dave Grain in the comments, always complaining about something in a manner that suggests an attempt to start fights and stir shit up. Once in a while, Dave Grain’s comments have a tiny nugget of a point buried in the assholery, but mostly I think it’s a low-energy attempt at trolling. Or, as you suggest, just plain attention-seeking. I’m sure I’ll wind up on the Dave Grain Shit-list for this comment.

    Hiya, Dave. Life’s too short for pretense, so why don’t I cut to the chase and acknowledge that, yes, I’m a terrible person. I swear at the sun and stomp cities flat. I devour small, cuddly woodland animals just to hear their bones crunch between my teeth. I used to skip class in college because I didn’t want to walk up the hill. I’m bloody fiend. Your work here is done. Feel free to spread your unique brand of justice elsewhere.

  141. chris61 says

    @169 chigau

    … you are such a putz …
    why are you still here?

    I enjoy PZ’s posts. Why are you still here?

  142. KG says

    Well then, Slavoj Žižek is apparently sympathetic to the alt-right. If your argument leads to patently absurd conclusions like that, then it is probably not a very good argument. – robertandrews@159

    Well, since you mention him, you might like to consider what Richard Spencer thinks of Žižek:

    Slavoj Žižek is my favorite leftist

    I consider Žižek a pompous, posturing fool rather than a sympathiser with the alt right like Pinker (who cites Steve Sailer as a respectable source of information. (If you don’t know who and what Sailer is, find out.) But there’s no doubt that the alt-right can hum along to many of the “anti-PC”, anti “liberal-left” tunes Žižek sings, from his highly privileged podium, and others also see an overlap.

Leave a Reply