I love it when they call me a creationist

The Cultural Marxist War against Darwinism

Creationists: evolution is a social construct, not biologically real.

Liberal Creationists: race is a social construct, not biologically real.

Charles Darwin: I’m not a creationist: I’ll use the word ‘race’ in title of my Origin of Species

Been there, been accused of that. It’s such a familiar story I’m surprised it was worth a story in Religion & Politics. “Creationist!” is an extremely common accusation against anyone who disagrees with racists — they sincerely believe that their bigotry is as well supported by the science as evolution, which tells you right there how well informed they are about evolution and racism. So, yeah, I get a lot of this crap in my inbox.

Mark Looy, one of the cofounders of Answers in Genesis (perhaps the largest creationist organization in the world today), acknowledges that viewpoint diversity, stating “creationism is a very broad term with multiple definitions.”

But it would have to get a lot broader to include someone like Holly Dunsworth, a biological anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island who studies human evolution—and a self-described atheist. Nonetheless, earlier this year, Dunsworth and other scientists were somewhat surprisingly described as “cognitive creationists” in the first article published by the Journal of Controversial Ideas, a new publication that accepts anonymous peer-reviewed research on contentious ideas. The piece on creationism, credited to the pseudonym “Shuichi Tezuka,” targets these scientists’ criticisms of recent publications claiming that IQ is genetically determined and that different nationalities or ethnicities score differently on IQ measurements of mental abilities. What Dunsworth and other critics call a dangerous reprise of racist (and often sexist) tropes corrupting scientific research, Tezuka likens to the creationist practice of rejecting scientific truths because the results are morally or ideologically distasteful.

Happens all the time. I understand what they’re trying to do, ‘“creationism” is being used to describe and delegitimate arguments against a reductive genetic definition of race and identity’, but it’s not very effective.

In both these cases—of intelligence testing and Indigenous identity—“creationism” is being used to describe and delegitimate arguments against a reductive genetic definition of race and identity. While few scientists would claim that genetics play no role whatsoever in one’s identity, the idea that cultural or ethnic identity can be assessed solely or primarily by DNA is frequently criticized. Dunsworth pointed me to a recent article she co-authored arguing against the idea that race is a primarily biologically constructed. “‘Race’ is far more than ancestral/inherited DNA and is far more than geographically patterned morphological variation like skin color,” she said via email. It’s only by treating race as a genetic/biological category—and ignoring the role that history, culture, law, and environment play in how ideas of race are used—that make possible claims that intelligence can be genetically correlated with certain ethnic types or that authentic Indigenous identity can be found though a blood test.

The catch is they’re trying to dishonestly accuse a critic of a belief they definitely do not hold, so it undermines any trust we might have in their honesty, and turns the debate into a joke full of their lies.


  1. iiandyiiii says

    Crap science. If you want to make a conclusion about population genetics, you need tons of genetic data from the populations you’re studying. What these assholes are putting their money on is test scores — as if test scores could provide any information at all about population genetics. It’s the same sort of bullshit pseudo-scientists the racial supremacists have been spewing for decades, if not centuries.

  2. Artor says

    “Creationism is a very broad term with multiple definitions. When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

  3. PaulBC says

    First, hahahahaha no, PZ Myers is not a creationist. Now please feel free to scroll past the rest of my overlong comment if you like. It consists of speculation and loosely informed opinion (and yes, now that you ask, I do have a great liking for formulating and expressing my own opinions).

    I think creationism or at least a poor understanding of evolution is the single reason that so many “normal” people of all stripes are racial essentialists (they ascribe specific, immutable characteristics to population clusters they call “races”). In fact, while most people consider it an insult to be called a racist, the essentialist assumption is so pervasive that nearly everyone needs to work hard against it and probably don’t even notice when they’re applying it to an individual (unconscious bias).

    Before the migration out of Africa was understood, it was intuitively reasonable to imagine populations starting out separately and trying to chop them into races (as you may find in an old encyclopedia). But given that we all have fairly recent common ancestors, it’s a complete absurdity.

    Usually when people produce “research” about IQ differences between “races”, their goal is to put a veneer of science on their preconceptions and reinforce racially biased public policy, particularly in education, and in such a way that benefits people like them. What a funny coincidence that my objective science proves that society should value me more than other people!

    I would start in the other direction by asking what they consider to be the goal of education. Is it to cherrypick “elite talent” and apply the most resources to them? (Which seems to be the implicit assumption.) What if the goal is to reach a baseline for everyone up to their abilities and produce an informed populace? In the latter case, you may reach different conclusions even from the same “bell curve”. Not everyone needs to solve partial differential equations, play a classical piano score passably, or do gymnastic triple flips. Everyone who can possibly read, apply simple quantitative reasoning, or avoid common logical fallacies really does need to build those skills. And that is most of us. The rest is irrelevant.

    I consider myself pretty good at mathematics relative to the general population. I also know people who are much, much better. Elites like von Neumann or Ramanujan were acknowledged as brilliant even by other brilliant people. How much was genetic and how much was environment? In these cases, I think most people agree at least a lot of it was genetic (I do). However, it is not a racially essential characteristic of Indians or Hungarian Jews. There may be some abilities that cluster in some populations. They are also highly variable and only make sense relative to environmental conditions.

    There are definitely “clusters” of genetic traits. There are famous families like the Bachs or the Bernoullis. When you try to identify these as “races”, however, you are by definition a racist and might as well own the term. Are Herrnstein and Murray racists? Yes. (Note I didn’t ask whether their work has any merit. That’s a different question, but I would answer “I doubt it.”)

    Finally, so what if some people score higher on an IQ test? We also know that some people have a genetic potential to be taller. Some have different hair and skin colors. Some can digest lactose and some cannot.

    If there is anything that makes me “smart” it is no more special than whatever makes my thyme plant bushy and not long and stringy like a morning glory. In fact, it’s probably very similar. My brain is bushier in some places, stringier in others. The placement varies only because of the expression of some genes and the resulting proteins. Someone else has different bushy or stringy places, and that makes me better at say spatial reasoning, and makes them better at symbolic manipulation. Also, this innate difference had to be reinforced by education. But it doesn’t make me “special” or “better.” Our brains are just living structures like anything else, and we should give them proper care. They don’t make us better or worse people. They are also no more exalted than our physical characteristics.

  4. imback says

    Why am I not surprised that “cognitive creationism” was coined by Michael Shermer [here].

    Using “creationism” like this is ridiculous and undermines one’s whole argument. Another transparently vapid argumentation problem, as mentioned in the second quoted part of Adam Shapiro’s essay in Religion & Politics, is the accusation that if one argues that genetics does not solely determine a thing then they mean genetics plays no role in that thing. It’s black and white argumentation, so to speak, whereas the evidence inevitably points to a gray zone. The real answer to such questions is almost always some continuum.

  5. drsteve says

    I suppose it’s particularly timely that this summer I finally, finally got around to reading The Mismeasure of Man, legendary creationist Stephen J. Gould’s extended argument against genetic determinism’s role in theories of intelligence testing.

    On the other hand, the delightfulness of the read was undercut by the knowledge that this book has never been untimley during my entire lifetime which began not long after it was first published. . .

  6. raven says

    The American Conservative
    Race/IQ: Irish IQ & Chinese IQ
    Ron Unz August 14, 2012 edited for length

    First, Lynn was hardly unique among leading IQ experts in characterizing the Irish as being low IQ. For example, Hans Eysenck, one of the foremost IQ researchers of the 20th century said exactly the same thing in his 1971 book “Race, Intelligence, & Education,” claiming that the Irish IQ was very close to that of American blacks, and that the Irish/English IQ gap was almost exactly the same size as the black/white gap in the U.S., being roughly a full standard deviation. So the huge and apparently well-designed 1972 study of 3,466 Irish schoolchildren which placed the mean Irish IQ at just 87 hardly seems an absurd outlier.
    This rapid convergence between Irish and British IQs should hardly surprise us. According to the GSS, the Wordsum-IQs of (Catholic) Irish-Americans rank among the very highest of any white ethnic group, with a value almost identical to that of their British-American ethnic cousins.

    One of the racial groups that consistently scored low on IQ tests for a century were the Irish. A whole lot of educated people thought the Irish were dumb.

    Then more recently, the Irish started scoring higher on IQ tests, equal to the British who were often the people calling them dumb. Irish-Americans always scored high on IQ tests and in fact, two of our recent presidents, Clinton and Biden are mostly Irish.

    So what does this show? What we already know.
    IQ measured by tests is very plastic and malleable. It is strongly influenced by socio-economic status, early childhood conditions, and education.
    That a given population scores low on IQ tests tells you very little about their genetics.

  7. PaulBC says


    Irish-Americans always scored high on IQ tests

    Selection bias? Those, after all, were the ones smart enough to leave. Kidding… but my ancestors were all Brooklyn Irish, and include professionals such as doctors and attorneys around the turn of the 20th century.

    Mathematician William Rowan Hamilton would probably not be “low IQ” on anyone’s list. James Joyce?

    It is strongly influenced by socio-economic status, early childhood conditions, and education.


  8. kome says

    There is a lot of laziness lurking underneath most if not all racist, sexist, and other kind of prejudicial essentialist claims. Not just intellectual laziness (the kind that leads to the shoddy science practices that has been used to prop up prejudicial views on “scientific” grounds), but a justification for a more general laziness on the part of the believer of the prejudicial belief. If X group is just naturally and intrinsically disposed to be superior/inferior on Y trait or behavior than another group, then no one needs to do any work.
    As an example, a man doesn’t need to prove himself as being better at math than women. He just is and no amount of work any woman does learning math will ever permit her to be better at math then “men” even if she can demonstrate being better at math than an individual man. This alleviates work for the individual man who wants to be taken seriously as a math person. It also alleviates work for schools in evaluating applications for entry into their programs or employers evaluating job applications. Because if the application is of a man, well then he’s already granted credit for being able to succeed in the program or on the job, while an application for a woman gets scrutinized to hell and back just to make sure she has what it takes, and any imperfection (including being a woman) is reason enough to reject her application.
    The prejudicial belief simultaneously validates itself, acts as its own defense mechanism from critique, and is itself a critique on opposing beliefs (“look at how much work they need to do to make the scientific record look like women aren’t naturally bad at math, focusing on systemic sexism, and inventing a distinction between explicit and implicit bias, and blaming men for women’s math scores”). This allows the people who believe the claim to continue lazily coasting along without doing any work to reflect on the belief. Prejudicial beliefs are, in many important ways, structurally and functionally similar to conspiracy theory beliefs. You don’t need to bother doing any real investigative work on a statement of fact if your assumptions are the conclusion and contradiction is itself evidence of the conclusion.

  9. unclefrogy says

    so you are a creationist if you do not believe in some just so story and you are a creationist if you do believe in a just so story?
    I guess that makes me a creationist regardless kind of like the religionists who insist everyone believes in god just that some hate the god.
    in this day and age the number of “pure race” individuals on the planet are vanishingly small. that is all I am willing to say on the subject now in short form even considering the absurdity of races and IQ test results even being defined.

  10. yaque says

    When I read “… call me a creationist” My mind jumped immediately to “evolutionary psychology”.
    Well, it is racism adjacent …

  11. JoeBuddha says

    My favorite comment about IQ tests is that they measure the ability to do well on IQ tests. Period.