Academic mob goes after scholar for simply urging debate on issues of race, genes, and intelligence

This is the first piece from Quillette I’ve seen that doesn’t have an author—it’s an editorial written by “Quillette Magazine”. (Could that be Claire Lehmann?) But it doesn’t matter, for the piece describes a genuine academic witch hunt, one of many we’ve seen in the past two years. Click on the screenshot to read the editorial, and note that its title mocks along with the Stalinist nature of these mobs and of the “open letter” denouncng social scientist Noah Carl of the University of Cambridge:

Carl’s interest is “how intelligence and other psychological characteristics affect beliefs and attitudes,” and his Big Sin was to defend the right of academics to study and write about race, genes, and intelligence. As Quillette notes, Carl argues “that stifling debate in these areas is more likely to cause more harm than allowing them to be freely discussed by academics.”  But these topics are some of the Taboo Subjects Not Open to Academic Debate. (Carl, by the way, appears to think that there’s no resolution about the genetic contribution of IQ differences between “races”.)

That doesn’t matter. As Quillette reports:

Three hundred academics from around the world, many of them professors, have signed an open letter denouncing Dr Carl and demanding that the University of Cambridge “immediately conduct an investigation into the appointment process” on the grounds that his work is “ethically suspect” and “methodologically flawed.” The letter states: “we are shocked that a body of work that includes vital errors in data analysis and interpretation appears to have been taken seriously.” Yet the letter contains no vidence of any academic misconduct. It does not include a single reference to any of Dr Carl’s papers, let alone any papers that are “ethically suspect” or “methodologically flawed.”

Drawing on disparate fields of research in psychology, psychometrics and sociology, Dr Carl’s papers have been peer reviewed and published in journals such as Intelligence, Personality & Individual Differences, The American Sociologist, Comparative Sociology, European Union Politics, and The British Journal of Sociology. His papers have been cited 235 times since 2013.

Much of Dr Carl’s research focuses on how intelligence and other psychological characteristics affect beliefs and attitudes. Papers include: Leave and Remain voters’ knowledge of the EU after the referendum of 2016Cognitive Ability and Political Beliefs in the United Statesand his most cited paper, published in Intelligence in 2014, Verbal Intelligence is correlated with socially and economically liberal beliefs.

Which of these, or any of Dr Carl’s other papers, contain “vital errors in data-analysis”? We’re not told. Nevertheless, on the strength of these allegations alone, with no supporting evidence provided, the letter’s authors have invited people to sign the petition—and hundreds have.

Quickly scanning the list of signatories, I found—as is usual in such cases—that nearly all the signatories are in the humanities, with a real dearth of people in the hard sciences (by “hard,” I mean biology, physics, and chemistry). (There are a couple of physicists and, curiously, a larger dollop of mathematicians.) Why is there always this disparity between scientists and humanities scholars?

At any rate, this kind of mindless denunciation of someone without evidence—except for Carl’s attending a meeting at which Even More Demonized People spoke—is typical fare in academia these days. I wonder how many of the people who signed that letter even read a single paper by Dr. Carl.

72 Comments

  1. Merilee
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  2. kelly
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    From the humanities eh? The very group, specifically the postmodernists, who put a lot of effort into producing bafflegab in an attempt to convince the world of how intellectually and morally superior they are?

    And here is this study, make of it what you will:

    “”Dupree and her co-author, Susan Fiske of Princeton University, began by analyzing the words used in campaign speeches delivered by Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to different audiences over the years. They scanned 74 speeches delivered by white candidates over a 25-year period. Approximately half were addressed to mostly-minority audiences—at a Hispanic small business roundtable discussion or a black church, for example. They then paired each speech delivered to a mostly-minority audience with a comparable speech delivered at a mostly-white audience—at a mostly-white church or university, for example. The researchers analyzed the text of these speeches for two measures: words related to competence (that is, words about ability or status, such as “assertive” or “competitive”) and words related to warmth (that is, words about friendliness, such as “supportive” and “compassionate”).””

    “”The researchers found that liberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white. No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner. “It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree says. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”””

    https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/white-liberals-present-themselves-as-less-competent-in-interactions-with-african-americans

  3. dd
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    One of the signatories discussed in the article, Dr. David Graeber is described by Wikipedia as “an American anthropologist and anarchist activist.”

    I thought that was funny. Yet again, I understand that anthropology may be the most politicized/woke field in academia….

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Graeber

  4. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of the reactions that EO Wilson received back in 1975 with the publishing of Sociobiology; I was in graduate school and many mates were arguing against the book so asked them “have you read his book?” and most had not.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      “It’s a classic” – meaning a book which adorns many bookshelves but almost no-one has read.
      (I finished “Slaughterhouse 5” this week. So it goes.)

  5. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many of the people who signed that letter even read a single paper by Dr. Carl.

    Why, absolutely all of them! After all, their open letter states:

    “A careful consideration of Carl’s published work … leads us to conclude …”.

    … and they wouldn’t be fibbing, would they?

  6. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    I had hoped that such scary phenomena of academic life were safely behind us, in last-century Europe.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Right, because explaining differences in intelligence and criminality by reference to race is not at all scary or reminiscent of last-century Europe. It’s not like the entire country of Germany had an experiment with that in the 1940s or anything. /s

  7. J Cook
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    On the Quillette site; the next article down is a podcast conversation with Heather McDonald covering much of the social upheaval caused by this madness. Worth listening to.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    (by “hard,” I mean biology, physics, and chemistry)

    No love for the rock[et] scientists over in the geology department, boss? 🙂

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 12:47 am | Permalink

      I cannot help posting this:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THNPmhBl-8I

      The thing about it is, you can see the punchline coming for at least half a minute, and you still crack up when it arrives. (Or at least, I do).

      cr

      • Posted December 9, 2018 at 5:51 am | Permalink

        One of my favourites.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 9, 2018 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        Good one. I’ve seen it but it’s easy to enjoy again.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      We’re perfectly capable of banging our own drums.
      More so than the average drummer, maybe.

  9. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    It’s worth pointing out that those signing the open letter are opposed to a whole area of research being done at all, regardless of how well done it is. They explicitly state that:

    “We call on St Edmund’s College, the University of Cambridge, and the Newton Trust to issue a public statement dissociating themselves from research that seeks to establish correlations between race, genes, intelligence and criminality in order to explain one by the other.”

    So their complaints about “methodological flaws” are not their real concern.

  10. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Scientists generally make conclusions when justified by facts.
    People in the humanities generally make conclusions justified by ideas mulled over in their minds while sitting in their armchairs.

    When I was in college we referred to psychologists who drew conclusions and theories without research as armchair psychologists.

    They seem to be still around.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Yes, still around…right over there next to the armchair philosophers.

  11. Jon Gallant
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    These academic lynch mobs are reminiscent of developments in the late-lamented USSR between the 1930s and the 1960s. There too, a branch of study—the one called Genetics in the West—was made taboo on ideological grounds, and replaced by a Marxist-Leninist hustle mislabelled “Michurinism”. As a direct result, the USSR, with more graduates holding an advanced Biology degree than any other country in the world, played virtually no role in the revolution of molecular biology that swept through real science in the 2nd half of the 20th century. Luckily, the reenactment of this farce in our ivory towers is limited (so far) to departments so little concerned with the physical world that they cannot do real physical damage.

    It is often forgotten that the enforcement of “Michurinism” in the USSR began as a maneuver for academic status and power by ambitious ignorami, notably Trofim Lysenko. The same dynamic is obvious enough in the spread of postmodernist and grievance study doctrines in the Anglo-American academic world. Maybe acolytes of these doctrines denounce any departure from their orthodoxies with such intensity out of fear that their emptiness will be recognized..

  12. Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    What it makes me think is, would this be used as a justification to disefranchise (arbitrarily) a “race” or group of people.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      If only we had centuries’ worth of evidence for an affirmative answer to that question. 😉

      • Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        That looks like a sarcastic reply but I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.
        Two words CLASS STRUGGLE.

  13. Caldwell
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I think Carl is correct in saying (refs omitted):

    “Why does this area of research incite such vitriolic indignation? A likely reason, as Winegard and Winegard argue, is that for a large number of academics in the West, the notion of biological sameness between groups (classes, sexes, races) has become what Tetlock calls a ‘sacred value’.2 Sacred values possess at least two important properties. First, they are incommensurable with respect to instrumental values: no amount of a sacred value can be traded off for any amount of an instrumental value. And second, proposals to accept such trade-offs are met not merely with rejection, but with moral outrage.”

    ++

    My questions is: “Why is the sameness of groups a sacred value?”

    +++
    Another IQ researcher, James Thompson, says ““Scientific Racism” is an oxymoron.”

    “The truth cannot be racist, and lies cannot be science. If you say something truthful about a racial difference then that is true, not a lie, and not racism. If you say something about racial groups which is untrue, then that is not science, it is false, and science has to correct mistakes as soon as possible.”

    • rickflick
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      “Why is the sameness of groups a sacred value?”
      I’m sure it’s the long history of racial abuse – slavery, the holocaust, native American displacement, etc.
      The question is, can humanity now move on from there and study humanity objectively? It doesn’t seem we are ready.

      • gayle ferguson
        Posted December 10, 2018 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        ^this!

  14. Christopher
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    So, can scientists who are actually in his field sign an open letter in support of being allowed to do science? Would the show of solidarity be worth a try? I mean, it won’t change the minds of the ideologues fighting his work…but it might help him personally. I dunno how these things work so I’m just throwing that out there.

    • yazikus
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      So, can scientists who are actually in his field

      I haven’t finished perusing the entire list of signatories, but if the below is true (on Rational Wiki) – the signing humanities academics are indeed part of his field, no?

      Carl was born and grew up in Cambridge, England. He has a BA in Human Sciences, an MSc in Sociology and PhD in Sociology from the University of Oxford;

      • Christopher
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        Do I detect a bit of snark in your comment?

        I’m simply asking if people in his field, which I suppose would be Sociology in a general sense, would come to his defense and if this would help. Looking over the list of signatories, based on those who included their field, I count 22 who specify Sociology (again, ignoring more refined definitions, sub-fields). English (23), Education (20), History (16), and Geography(13) round out the main fields of study, with 45 different catergories overall. Admittingly, many of the sub-fields may consider themselves under the Sociology umbrella, and of course I didn’t seek out those who did not list their field, so this is an imperfect look at best.
        Humanities is a wide ranging collection of fields, so, no, I would not consider everyone (excepting the four people in physics, the life science policy, five maths, one medicine, and maybe the one in environment)on this letter as “in his field” simply because they fall under the heading in a course catologue as “Humanities”.

        So, I’ll ask the question again, Would it not be helpful for people in his field of SOCIOLOGY to counter this obnoxious anti-education letter with a supportive letter of their own, arguing in favor of academic freedom?

        • Posted December 10, 2018 at 2:19 am | Permalink

          The field of sociology is experiencing a rift at the moment, with some moving toward more rigorous scientific methodology, while the rest cling to the old fuzzy-feely approach.

          You can guess which group is the ‘woke’ one.

  15. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  16. yazikus
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Curious about what criticisms his research has received, a quick google turned up this:

    One of the studies written by Carl for one of the OpenPsych journals was one on the correlation between British opposition to UK immigrants of different nationalities and their arrest rates there. Published in 2016, the study concluded that “in the UK, net opposition to immigrants of different nationalities (n = 23) correlates strongly with the log of immigrant arrests rates (r = .77; p = 0.00002; 95% CI = [.52, .90]) and with the log of their arrest rates for violent crime”. It was cited favorably in the Daily Caller and Infowars. However, it has been criticized for alleged serious methodological flaws, with McMaster University geographer Niko Yiannakoulias writing that it “offers no insight on the matter [of whether immigrant groups’ criminality is related to opposition to such groups] either way, and…research this bad should never be published in any form” (emphasis in original).

    It links to Yiannakoulias’ blog, where he writes about the flaws in the research. I’m still reading myself, but thought it was interesting.

  17. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    When I was an undergrad in the early 70s, student protests were commonplace. Of course, even then, it was always the humanities, with a lecture workload of ~15hrs a week, who were protesting. In physics, with close to 40 hours lectures and lab work, there was never enough free time to engage politically. Any spare time tended to be spent in the union bar.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      Having studied both humanities (French language and lit) and science, I don’t think it’s quite fair to pooh-pooh the humanity students’ courseload. No, there are no labs, but there might be 1000 pages of heavy reading/week plus multiple papers to write.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! In the Humanities we are required to do a lot of our own research – we don’t get the knowledge handed to us on a plate. Whether we do well depends on whether we work in the time we’re not at lectures or do other stuff.

        I frankly get annoyed at the constant disparagement of the humanities. I’m a history graduate, and I’ve never behaved the way those attacking this guy are (which is appalling – isn’t university all about seeking out knowledge?).

        I don’t think it’s humanities that’s the problem, but society as a whole. Work of lesser quality is now accepted in many ares. The snowflakes aren’t allowed to fail. Helicopter parenting where kids are constantly mollycoddled is creating kids that don’t know how to deal with the real world. Universities baby students in a way that would have been unthinkable in the past. It hasn’t affected the hard sciences as much because their exams etc work differently.

        Also, it’s easier to test scientific knowledge in an interview situation. A BA can often hide their ignorance because they have the “gift of the gab” and it becomes obvious too late.

        My alma mater began requiring BA students to pass a paper about how to how to structure and annotate essays, how to construct a sentence (!!!) etc about ten years ago. Students should know that before they get to uni imo. To me, it’s an indictment of our education system.

        /rant

        • Merilee
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

          Agreed on all you’ve written, Heather (especially on current state of secondary education).

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 8, 2018 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

          “I don’t think it’s humanities that’s the problem, but society as a whole.”
          “It hasn’t affected the hard sciences as much because their exams etc work differently.”

          So what you’re saying is, it *is* the humanities that are most affected. 🙂 And we all know where the worst of the pomo nonsense originated. And it *is* worse in universities than in society as a whole, simply because society as a whole is more reactionary and ‘commonsensical’.

          I suspect a lot of the crumbling of academic rigour originated with democratic anti-elitist ideals that could see nothing wrong with awarding degrees in rap music or voodoo studies. (I just made those two up but I’ll bet someone, somewhere, has offered courses…)
          And because there is no established corpus of required knowledge on those subjects, anyone who could make a token showing would get their degree. This is egalitarianism gone toxic.

          I would dearly love to see Humanities departments return to their senses.

          “I frankly get annoyed at the constant disparagement of the humanities. I’m a history graduate, and I’ve never behaved the way those attacking this guy are.”

          Now you know how any old-fashioned, moderate middle-right Republican feels (there is rumoured to be one still alive, somewhere). 😉

          cr

        • Robert Bray
          Posted December 10, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

          First of all, Ms. Hastie, I always read and learn from your posts, and sometimes I visit ‘Hastie’s Homilies’ too (I think of it as ‘Hastie Pudding’). So I’ve paid my respects. . . .

          But I think you’re mistaken this time: it IS largely the fault of the ‘humanities’ that undergraduate education in the U.S. is such a mess. I mean the humanities broadly construed: literary studies, soft sociology/cultural anthropology and philosophy. Since the post-structuralist infection of the late 1960s, followed by all its spawn of -isms that have led to the direly doctrinaire ‘intersectional’ ‘red guard’ academic politics of the right now––this half-century of intellectual nihilism has left the humanities with nothing to do but act like social justice police in a broken precinct that fewer and fewer students find attractive (small wonder!) and that university administrations hold in contempt and WITHhold from serious budget waterings.

          All this has been our own fault (I was a professor of English in a liberal arts college for a long, long time). We should have seen the logical outcome of raw, anarchic relativism; we should have insisted on a teaching methodology that looked closely inward at our texts rather than flimsily outward toward social generalization; and, finally, we should have worked tirelessly toward a goal of objectivity in the interpretation of literary works.

          But we didn’t. To the ineffable sorrow of at least some of us who professed. And now my own institution puts its faculty through workshops such as ‘advanced empathetic intervention’ (whatever that may be), which suggests that faculty ask ‘troubled’ students questions like ‘if your tears could talk, what would they say?’ This sort of infantilization might have a positive role in, say, middle school counseling. But to formalize it for the ‘best and brightest’ 18-21 year olds is at best a waste of everyone’s precious educational time and at worst risks a serious intellectual injury to the students and a grinding down of the spirit of their professors.

          Could MY tears speak, they’d cry out that the university where I spent the decades of my vocation has lost its way. Rigor is mortis.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted December 10, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

            I can see why you and others are disagreeing with me, but I think what’s happened is I wasn’t clear enough in what I said.

            The problem has indeed been manifesting itself the most in the humanities, and the US appears to have suffered more than most.

            However, when I analyze stuff, I always try and find a root cause, and I think the problem starts before university. They have this crop of kids who have been coddled, and many of the worst are ending up in humanities demanding easy rides. Another cause here is the insistence on a degree for even the most basic of jobs, when other forms of tertiary education would actually be far more useful and effective.

            Oh, and you don’t have to call me Ms Hastie or say nice things before you disagree with me. I’m just Heather and it doesn’t worry me to have my opinions challenged. I’m not precious about them. As long as it’s an academic argument and not a nasty one, I’ll likely enjoy the debate.

  18. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been following this story ever since it broke, and was hoping you’d eventually post something about it. For people who want to object to what’s being done to Carl, there are a pair of counter-petitions:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJDDEVOCiTd4OliZi1IFyFLkoR543eMWJN0rD-YeNXswPnYQ/viewform
    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScv3FNDGQd3g0I4QjLp04VVs6FeRhhRVrOtNq76QI4YvBm3IA/viewform

    The list of names hasn’t been updated recently, so a lot more people have signed these than are listed on that page. I think the two might eventually get merged into a single petition.

    They seem to especially value the signatures of well-known academics, so it would definitely be valuable for Dr. Coyne to sign one of these, if he feels strongly enough to do that.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Everybody should read these links and consider signing up.

  19. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    As far as I can tell, a lot of this outrage has come about because Dr Carl took part in one of the meetings of the London Conference on Intelligence (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Conference_on_Intelligence), which does seem to have some dubious eugenic-related content. But that alone should not be a reason to try to obliterate him from the university. If his work and his conclusions are wrong, his critics should show that they

  20. Steve Pollard
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Aargh! Hit ‘post’ by mistake! Meant to say that his critics should show that they are wrong. And if his results are confirmed, they need to revise their approach to doing science.

  21. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Quillette also had a post today by Alexandra Berryhill who is described as:

    “Alexandra Berryhill is the pseudonym for an over-30 undergraduate student at an American university. She can be reached at alexandra.berryhill@gmail.com.”

    https://quillette.com/2018/12/07/take-it-from-someone-who-has-suffered-real-physical-abuse-words-arent-violence/

    I suspect we are going to see more and more such posts where the author feels they need to hide from the SJW police. Who wants their life severely perturbed just to make a point?

    • phil brown
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I read that piece. In it she discusses the abuse she suffered as a child from her father, and I think that’s probably why she requested anonymity. It’s quite common, I think, for people to want to remain anonymous when discussing such sensitive issues.

      • Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it is common but she also said that it was done with and had mostly put it behind her. I’m not saying you’re wrong though.

    • Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      This does not speak well of the intellectual atmosphere and the political situation in the so-called free world.

      • Posted December 8, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        “Free” has always been a relative term.

  22. Posted December 8, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t they simply rebut his work in the journals if it is a matter of poor methodology and data?

  23. Steve Gerrard
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Having poked around a bit at various links, I think there is a bit of evidence that Noah Carl may have a bit of “whitey” bias. I don’t see anything that should prevent him from being an academic, though.

    The problem for the field is that if they decide that it can include only sociologists that don’t believe in racial differences, they will have boxed themselves in. Their conclusions will always boil down to “sociologists who don’t believe in racial differences conclude that there are no racial differences,” which will never be an interesting or satisfying result.

    • Posted December 10, 2018 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      Define “whitey bias”.

  24. Posted December 8, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    Any study of how DNA affects any part of behavior should be valid. Personality, intelligence, social skills and any other set of skills or abilities should be studied and discussed. Basic research into DNA could turn up any number of valuable advances in understanding of disorders, diseases, handicaps to just mention a few fields that are important.

  25. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I think this is yet another piece of evidence that the ‘Humanities’ are not a scientific field, do not have the intellectual rigor to be called ‘scientific’ or even ‘learned’, and have no place in academia. Their work is ethically suspect and methodologically flawed. They should all be closed down and ejected from universities.

    cr

    • yazikus
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      That would include Dr. Carl here, you realize?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 8, 2018 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        I’ve just realised that. 🙂

        I was actually replicating the over-reaction of the mob going after Dr Carl, there. Not sure if my sarcasm was obvious.

        cr

    • Merilee
      Posted December 8, 2018 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      You would close down English and History departments?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 9, 2018 at 12:35 am | Permalink

        That was my Philistine persona coming out. 😉

        If I closed down an English department, it would be on the grounds that it was irredeemably infected with Pomo, in much the same way as we destroy a herd of cows with foot-and-mouth disease. Not because the study of languages is valueless.

        In fact I’m fascinated by the way in which languages develop, how they’re inter-related, and how they influence each other. But I’m interested in the “is”, not some wannabe pomo social reformer’s view of the “ought”. The proper place for “ought” is politics, and there I’m a socialist. But the two should not mix.

        The same goes for history. I’d like to know the facts. Whether Richard III killed the Princes in the Tower (or not) is a fact, and it would be fascinating to know for sure. Now I know that it’s very hard to establish a historical account without putting a personal spin on it, but I think historians should try to be objective. The pomo relativists would doubtless say that (a) you can’t so (b) you shouldn’t even try. And tRump obviously agrees with them, though for entirely self-serving and pragmatic reasons.

        cr

        • Merilee
          Posted December 9, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          I realized after you posted that you were being somewhat tongue-in-cheek😬
          I agree with you 100% on the po-mo bs.

  26. Matthew
    Posted December 9, 2018 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    The full facts have not been reported here. The reason Noah Carl has gotten into trouble is because he has co-written several papers with a white supremacist Emil Kirkegaard.

    Emil Kirkegaard is a white nationalist blogger and founder of openpsych

    https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Emil_Kirkegaard

    Openpsych is a white supremacist open access journal that Carl Noah has contributed to and edited. It is not acceptable that a Cambridge don is publishing articles with a white nationalist.

    • Posted December 9, 2018 at 4:34 am | Permalink

      I am reporting what Quillette says. I find one preprint authored by the two but no other papers. Regardless, if there are many methodological flaws and errors in these papers, nobody has memntioned any (nor did you). Banning or hounding someone because he has “co-written several papers with a white supremacist” is of course ludicrous. It is the CONTENT of the papers and whether the conclusions are biased or flawed that matters. You don’t shun someone because of who their co-authors are; that’s not the way it works in academia. You can criticize them or not give them jobs if their WORK is flawed.

    • Posted December 9, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

      It is not acceptable that a Cambridge don is publishing articles with a white nationalist.

      Why not?

      Also, I wouldn’t trust Rational Wiki as a source without confirmation from elsewhere. (Rational Wiki is down at the moment for me, so I can’t even see what it says).

      • Posted December 10, 2018 at 2:28 am | Permalink

        Rationalwiki is a tendentious, biased site, run by the same Atheism Plus crowd who blog at and support Freethoughtblogs.

    • T. H.
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 6:15 am | Permalink

      Well, according to Rational Wiki, Quillette is a ‘right-wing online magazine associated with the “intellectual dark web” and is popular with the alt-right, for its social conservatism, opposition to political correctness, anti-feminism, islamophobia’, and Claire Lehmann an ‘alt-right Australian anti-feminist, transphobic crank’

      https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quillette
      https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Claire_Lehmann

      Distortions, lies, and fabrications. Served to you by a website purportedly dedicated to rationality and critical thinking.

      • Posted December 9, 2018 at 6:25 am | Permalink

        I don’t know who writes Rational Wiki, but they get a lot of stuff wrong, and clearly have an Authoritarian Left agenda.

      • Posted December 9, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        “Rational Wiki” lies compulsively. It’s authors have the same attitude towards reason as did the medieval Catholic Church: reason is there to be the chastened, meek handmaiden of dogma. Not to do any independent inquiry, let alone any criticism of dogma. It is only there to establish justification for what is already accepted.

    • Adam M.
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      I find it curious that people in the intelligence research community are so often called white supremacists. As far as I’ve seen they’re pretty much all Ashkenazi Jew / Asian supremacists.

  27. Matthew
    Posted December 9, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Ok if you do not trust rationalwiki for its left-wing bias just run a quick Google search on Emil Kirkegaard – he was in about 20 newspapers in January 2018 for his controversial claims about child rape, there are also various newspaper reports about his white nationalist activities.

    According to Biologist PZ Myers

    “Kirkegaard. He’s one of those anti-semitic ‘white genocide’ lunatics, but that’s not even the worst part of his character: he has a way to justify raping children”

    https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/01/10/chloroform-consenttheyre-both-the-same-thing-right/

    Kirkegaard has written quite a few papers with Noah Carl. Here is Noah Carl’s profile at openpsych:

    https://openpsych.net/person/6

    • Posted December 9, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      P. Z. Myers is hardly a reliable source. But even if Carl did write papers with Kirkegaard, and Kirkegaard is as odious as portrayed, you can’t demonize someone this way, making claims about their science, without supporting those claims. That was my point, not who Carl hung around with or published with. Let the detractors give a rebuttal of the false claims. That’s the way a scientist’s work is debunked: not by character assassination based on who they hang around with or publish with! What we see is a witch hunt based on unsubstantiated claims about the veracity of a man’s work. I’m prepared to be a detractor, too, if and when I see a cogent rebuttal of what Carl has said. So far I haven’t seen it, just a bunch of people baying for his blood.

      And no, RationalWiki is a bit of a leftist loonybin: that entry on Claire Lehmann is way over the top.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted December 9, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Where is the rebuttal of the content of Carl’s papers?

    • Posted December 10, 2018 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      According to PZ Myers, “Jerry Coyne gets everything wrong.”

  28. Posted December 9, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I disagree with the view of several commenters that it is OK to ban Noah Carl because he allegedly is a white supremacist, or at least hangs around such people and publishes together with them. I think that nobody should be cut off research because of his political views. If someone fears that his supposed bias will supposedly affect his work, science has always been done and will always be done by real human beings burdened with biases.

  29. Posted December 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    A little bird told me that Dr. Trofim Lysenko and Mr. Winston Smith have signed that denouncement with enthusiastic comments. 😉 They’re submissions haven’t been processed yet, I guess.


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