URLs du Jour

2021-09-08

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  • Betteridge's Law of Headlines May Apply. The New Yorker has a long article which doesn't, as near as I can tell, answer the headline question: Can Progressives Be Convinced That Genetics Matters?. It's about a new book by Kathryn Page Harden, The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality. She's a lefty ("with her commitments to social justice"), but also a scientist who's unwilling to ignore what the science says.

    But what I really want to excerpt is the article's subhed:

    The behavior geneticist Kathryn Paige Harden is waging a two-front campaign: on her left are those who assume that genes are irrelevant, on her right those who insist that they’re everything.

    Who out there believes that genes are "everything"? Let's see hands… I don't see any hands.

    In fact, I noticed that Charles Murray (who's cited as a bad "right" example in the article) had a recent tweet in response:

    I've mentioned this before, but as long as lefties ignore and distort what "the other side" actually says on the matter, we ain't close to having a decent conversation.


  • Just ask Lysenko. Where have I mentioned this before? Well, in my report on The Cult of Smart by actual communist Fredrik deBoer. (I didn't like the book too much, but that's not important right now.) deBoer also provides commentary on the New Yorker article at his substack: Genes Believe in You. He notes the pressure he got when word got out he might believe that there might be genetic factors behind cognitive abilities:

    I’ve told this story before, but I feel moved to tell it again. In 2018 hundreds of verified users on Twitter and thousands of their unverified hangers-on started a meltdown about me. Their claim of injustice was that my book, recently under contract, was a pro-race science book. This claim was remarkable not just because it was false, but also because my book did not exist - I had not written it yet. They were making pronouncements with absolute confidence about the argumentative contents of a book that did not have contents. This was particularly strange because my elevator pitch to publishers literally began with the assertion that racial differences in education are not genetic - “someday we’ll close the racial and gender achievement gaps, but what will remain is even more insidious, the innate talent gap.” None of this stopped hundreds of journalists and academics, whose job it is to both collect and source information, from spreading this claim about my book with absolute confidence across thousands of tweets. When I searched for hours for the source of this idea I found that it came from a single unverified pseudonymous shitposting account with a Michael Cera avatar and a few hundred followers. That was the standard of information sufficient for people who now work at places like The New York Times and The Washington Post and Buzzfeed and many more, and at some of the most prestigious universities in the world, to assassinate my character and begin a campaign to get my book dropped by my publisher. To my knowledge not a single one, not one, has ever retracted the tweets or apologized, despite the fact that they have had over a year now to verify that the actual book is explicitly and unambiguously anti-race science.

    This is the rhetorical environment in which [Kathryn Page Harden] must now survive.

    The rude thing is… I just don’t believe people, on this issue. When they say that they think all people have the same innate ability to perform well in school or on other cognitive tasks, that any difference is environmental, what I think inside is, I don’t believe that you believe that. When researchers in genetics and evolution who believe that the genome influences every aspect of our physiological selves say that they don’t believe that the genome has any influence on our behavioral selves, what I think inside is, I don’t believe you. I think people feel compelled to say this stuff because the idea of intrinsic differences in academic ability offend their sense of justice, and because the social and professional consequences of appearing to believe that idea are profound. But I think everyone who ever went to school as a kid knew in their heart back then that some kids were just smarter than others, and I think most people quietly believe that now. Like I said, it’s rude. But I can’t shake it.

    What liberals don’t like, they mock. What they cannot refute, they ridicule.

    I'd quibble with the word "liberals" in that last sentence. It's not particularly liberal.


  • Once upon a time you dressed so fine… Kevin D. Williamson looks at the latest journalistic faceplant: Like a Rolling Stone. And recalls their previous debacle, the University of Virginia rape-that-wasn't.

    Like most of the phony hate crimes and fabricated racial and sexual insults that have for years been an epidemic among young Americans, especially on college campuses, the Rolling Stone rape hoax was a neurotic casserole of familiar ingredients: social and romantic disappointment, weaponized envy, prejudice, mental-health problems, and a progressive-activist culture in which the effort to discredit and abominate cultural enemies — more often than not dishonest — takes the place of argument.

    These things follow a pattern: When Lena Dunham made up a story about being raped while a student at Oberlin, her fictitious villain was not a member of the chess team or the president of the campus Sierra Club chapter but a swaggering College Republican; when North Carolina Central University student Crystal Mangum made up a story about being gang-raped, the malefactors were the Duke lacrosse team; the UVA hoax author, Jackie Coakley, falsely claimed that she was gang-raped by members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity as part of an initiation ritual. When feminist activist Judy Munro-Leighton made up a story about being raped, she chose as her assailant Brett Kavanaugh, who was at the time a Supreme Court nominee in confirmation hearings. Jussie Smollett alleged that he was assaulted in the wee hours by . . . weirdly bitey Trump-loving Empire fans who just happened to have a length of rope and a quantity of bleach on their persons as they roamed the freezing streets of Chicago on an early January morning.

    In all of these cases, the story wasn’t about what the story was about.

    None of those fabricated rapes was presented as a mere crime of sexual violence — a crime that happens every day in these United States, disproportionately affecting not college women (who are, in fact, less likely to suffer rape than are women the same age who are not in college) or well-heeled activists but poor women in isolated urban and rural communities, women with little education, women on Indian reservations, illegal immigrants, etc. The stories and the data associated with some of these places are shocking.

    But here’s the thing: Nobody cares about those women.

    Not really. Of course, they’ll say they do. In reality, the kind of women our newspaper editors and magazine publishers care about are college students, white tourists abroad, and celebrities. But the most important variable in these hoaxes is not any of the personal qualities of the fictitious victims but the cultural resonance of the fictitious attackers. If you want to see a Native American leading the nightly news, put him in front of some white high-school kids wearing MAGA hats.

    What "journalists" at Rolling Stone etc. are really out for is indicting their favored targets: in the Ivermectin case, those GOP-voting Rogan-listening science-denying ignorant Okies.


  • On a related, or actually the same, note… Jim Treacher reassures us in his headline: No, Emergency Rooms Aren't Filling Up with People OD'ing on Horse Paste.

    This all started when Joe Rogan got COVID and didn’t die even though he isn’t vaccinated, right? He said his doctor prescribed ivermectin, and then that instantly became “Joe Rogan takes horse medicine.” From there, it was a short trip to “People who probably listen to Joe Rogan are OD’ing on horse drugs.” It doesn’t need to be true, it just needs to make you feel superior to the people you hate.

    (I think this post is available to non-subscribers. If it isn't, you should subscribe.)


  • The ACLU should just change its name. Glenn Greenwald writes more in sorrow than in anger… waitaminnit, might be the other way 'round… Well, anyway, he seems to have a longer memory than your average ACLU member: The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics. In response to a recent NYT op-ed from two ACLU wonks in favor of vaccine and masking mandates:

    The op-ed sounds like it was written by an NSA official justifying the need for mass surveillance (yes, fine, your privacy is important but it is not absolute; your privacy rights are outweighed by public safety; we are spying on you for your own good). And the op-ed appropriately ends with this perfect Orwellian flourish: “We care deeply about civil liberties and civil rights for all — which is precisely why we support vaccine mandates.”

    What makes the ACLU's position so remarkable — besides the inherent shock of a civil liberties organization championing state mandates overriding individual choice — is that, very recently, the same group warned of the grave dangers of the very mindset it is now pushing. In 2008, the ACLU published a comprehensive report on pandemics which had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics.

    The op-ed was written by two ACLU workers: the "national legal director" (David Cole) and the "director of the ACLU program on freedom of religion and belief" (Daniel Mach). So it's not two guys in the mailroom. Might not be an official ACLU position, but it's pretty close.

    So they should change their name ACL(IFFTAISOLG)U: the "American Civil Liberties (If and Only If They Are In Support Of Leftist Goals) Union.