If this is what we’re like, the heart of America is rotten

The Washington Post continues it’s depressing dissection of Ales Hrdlicka. I wish we could say he was a forgotten relic of a benighted time, but no, some anthropologists were still celebrating his life in more recent years.

Rachel Watkins, a biocultural anthropologist, worked at the Natural History Museum in the early 2000s after the Smithsonian had reckoned with what he had done in Larsen Bay. She recalled when employees at the museum gathered around a cake to commemorate the anthropologist’s birthday more than 50 years after his death.

“He was … deified,” said Watkins, now an associate professor and department chair of anthropology at American University. “It’s like Thomas Jefferson at [the University of Virginia].”

Ugh. The old ghoul should be treated as a shameful embarrassment, but instead he’s lionized by some now as much as he was in life (he died in 1943). This newspaper article from 1926 is incredible, not only for how credulous the journalist was,but for how smugly and confidently Hrdlicka makes predictions about the future evolution of the American population — don’t worry about the flappers, they’ll be strict parents.

(You can click on this to get an enlarged article that is marginally readable.)

The modern white nationalists and racists didn’t just appear out of thin air. They’ve been here all along, provided with pseudo-scientific support from establishment scientists like Hrdlicka.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    “Hrdlicka” – sounds too Slavic to be a real American.

    How much of his pseudoscholarship was motivated by striving to move his own ancestry from the “them” group to the “us”?

  2. Dennis K says

    Yikes what a painful read. What a sick monster. “The flapper of today,” he says, “appears to the world as a good-for-nothing little creature.” Makes me wanna kick something.

    Fitting that the article below carries on about light traveling through “ether”.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Dennis, the final nail in the coffin for luminiferous aether was finally driven home in the 1920’s and that paper is from 1926. A quick eyestrain inducing look at that article was mentioning the study of cosmic rays on mountain tops and balloons, something observed around a decade earlier.
    As for the subject of the article, sounds like a really bad hangover from the Victorian era.

  4. Ada Christine says

    girls born after 1893 only know three things: 1. jazz 2. be a good for nothing creature 3. twerk. 4. eat hot chip and lie

  5. StevoR says

    @1. Pierce R. Butler : Not sur ehow much difference it really makes but :

    Alois Ferdinand Hrdlička,[1] after 1918 changed to Aleš Hrdlička (Czech pronunciation: [ˈa.lɛʃ ˈɦr̩d.lɪtʃ.ka]; March 30,[2] 1869 – September 5, 1943), was a Czech anthropologist who lived in the United States after his family had moved there in 1881. He was born in Humpolec, Bohemia (today in the Czech Republic).

    Source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale%C5%A1_Hrdli%C4%8Dka

    Also from there :

    e also threw out the corpse of an infant that was found in a cradleboard but forwarded this artifact along with the skulls and other remains to New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

    Just what the..? Why the?

  6. Silentbob says

    Sorry to be the schoolboy but it sounds like a joke name for a drunk. (Ale being a type of beer, and ‘hard liquor’ referring to spirits.) X-D

  7. birgerjohansson says

    Alex Hard-liquor acted pretty much like anthropologists in Sweden did at the time.

  8. StevoR says

    @ ^ birgerjohansson : That was the case for Oz too for instance :

    In Australia’s case, those skeletons were literally found in an anatomy department storeroom. Staff at the University of Melbourne in 2003 unearthed the bones and skulls of hundreds of people, many of them indigenous and stolen from traditional graves.It was a ghoulish symbol of the racist practices of the once-lauded Professor Richard Berry, an anatomy professor at the university from 1906 to 1929 who strove to prove Aboriginal people were not as smart as white people. The English-born academic was one of the most influential flag bearers of the eugenics movement – using genetics to ostensibly “improve” mankind – which was later appropriated by Nazi Germany.

    Source : https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39376013

    A lot of elements in common with the man in the OP here.. I wonder if there was a connection between all these various (widespread?) racist corpse collectors – Berry, Hrdlička & the Swedish ones? If they knew each other, inspired each other, egged each other on in “Bone Wars” type rivalries? Clearly a common (for values thereof) and sadly seen as acceptable unacceptable fad or custom of that period.. Warped zeitgeist?

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Yup. Definitively zeitgeist.
    The SS Ahnenerbe even ordered crania of Soviet sergeants directly from the extermination camps.
    BTW Nixon and Reagan were prominent members of the species. I am sure their families willnnot mind if we dig them up for science.
    Also, king Leopold. Not for science, I just want to make a goblet from the skull of the murdering bastard.*

    *yes, I know crania are not water-proof. That is why Ukko and the gods invented plastic passing.

  10. billseymour says

    birgerjohansson:  given all the pollution in the waters these days, lots of us might be passing plastic without knowing it. 8-)

  11. Walter Solomon says

    His take on flappers reads like something a modern day incel would write about modern young women who, according to said incel, will end up regretting the indiscretions of their youth such as riding on the “cock carousel.”

    Apparently this long-dead asshole has influenced some of the worse scumbags of our time.

  12. Walter Solomon says

    StevoR #9

    It was a ghoulish symbol of the racist practices of the once-lauded Professor Richard Berry, an anatomy professor at the university from 1906 to 1929 who strove to prove Aboriginal people were not as smart as white people.

    He sure went through a lot of trouble trying to prove something that was taken for granted by nearly all white people at that time. Why?

  13. StevoR says

    @ ^ Walter Solomon : The gnawing insecurity of knowing that what he was claiming and what was commonly believed actually was NOT true? However much he wanted it to be and tried to make it be?

  14. says

    “The flapper of today,” he says, “appears to the world as a good-for-nothing little creature.”

    …fit only to be looked down upon by good-for-nothing big creatures.

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