Sunday, March 04, 2018

Steven Pinker & "racial realism"

No matter how drunk and disheveled
the Irish were seen to be, they
were still classified as white.
You can read the transcript from Steven Pinker's "PC" video here, and you can watch the long version of the video here.

He begins:
“The other way in which I do agree with my fellow panelists that political correctness has done an enormous amount of harm in the sliver of the population that might be ... I wouldn't want to say persuadable, but certainly whose affiliation might be up for grabs... comes from the often highly literate, highly intelligent people who gravitate to the alt-right. Internet savvy, media savvy, who often are radicalized in that way — who swallow the red pill, as the saying goes, the allusion from The Matrix.  
When they are exposed the first time to true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, or in The New York Times, or in respectable media, they are almost like a bacillus to which they have no immunity. And they're immediately infected with both the feeling of outrage that these truths are unsayable, and no defense against taking them to what we might consider to be rather repellent conclusions. 
Steven Pinker talks about "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, or in the New York Times..."

He said that at a college campus. And when his remarks were criticized he was immediately defended by New York Times.

There are few people who get to express their views in the mainstream media more often than Steven Pinker. As it says on Pinker's blog:
...Currently Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard, he has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has won numerous prizes for his research, his teaching, and his nine books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature, and The Sense of Style. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, a Humanist of the Year, a recipient of nine honorary doctorates, and one of Foreign Policy’s “World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals” and Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World Today.” He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and writes frequently for The New York Times, The Guardian, and other publications. His tenth book, to be published in February 2018, is called Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
So what "true statements" are he suggesting have been suppressed by colleges and the New York Times? This series on evo-psycho bros has focused on race,  so I am quoting only items related to race:
You can go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Look it up on their website. The homicide rate among African Americans is about seven or eight times higher than it is among European Americans...

Now, if you've never heard these facts before and you stumble across them, or someone mentions them, it is possible to come to some extreme conclusions. Such as that women are inferior, that African Americans are naturally violent.
Because for each one of these facts, there are very powerful counterarguments for why they don't license racism and sexism and anarcho-capitalism and so on.

Number two, the principle of opposition to racism and sexism is not a factual claim that the sexes and races are indistinguishable in every aspect. It's a political and moral commitment to treat people as individuals, as opposed to pre-judging them by the statistics of their group. Third, we know that some of the statistical generalizations about races and sexes change over time, so what is true now may not necessarily be true in 10 or 20 years.

...why you can believe that differences between the races exist, and be very strongly opposed to any form of racism.

In the case of, say, rates of violent crime, it used to be — go back 100 years, the rate of violent crime among Irish Americans was far higher than among other ethnic groups. That obviously changed. There's no reason that that can't change in the case of current racial differences.

These are all reasons why you can believe all of these and not necessarily drift toward extremist positions — in fact, why you can be a progressive, a centrist, a liberal, even a leftist, and believe all of these. Because you're exposed not only to the facts, but how to put them in context.

But worst of all, you're never exposed to the ways of putting these facts into context so that they don't lead to racism...
It appears that Pinker believes the "true statements that have never been voiced in college campuses, or in the New York Times..." concerning race include:
  • The homicide rate among African Americans is about seven or eight times higher than it is among European Americans
  • Races are not indistinguishable
  • Differences between the races exist
And according to Pinker, the homicide rate could potentially be explained by something other than genetics because violence levels among "ethnic groups" can change over time.

As always with proponents of evolutionary psychology, Steven Pinker conflates race with ethnicity whenever he wishes. He compares Irish and African American crime rates, but in the case of African Americans he uses the term "race" and with the Irish he uses "ethnicity." I have demonstrated how astoundingly careless the hereditarians are about distinguishing among race, ethnicity and ancestry.

We don't know the distinct ethnicities of most African Americans thanks to the slave system which brought most of their ancestors to this country. And so their race is conflated with their ethnicity.

But since European Americans can trace their ancestries to distinct ethnic groups their ethnicities - "Irish" and their race "European American" are acknowledged as separate classifications.

African slaves of various ethnicities were thrown together and thanks to sex amongst themselves and rape by white slavers, African Americans have no clear separate ethnic identities. Although perhaps you could make the case that "descendent from the enslaved people of the United States" is its own separate ethnicity.

I think it's inarguable that one of the reasons why the Irish were able to integrate fairly quickly into American society is because, in spite of the fact that the Irish were generally considered drunken slobs unfit for decent society during the early years of massive Irish immigration, they were physically indistinguishable (and it turns out genetically indistinguishable) from the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants who ruled the United States. The Irish were, as far as I have been able to discover, always considered white. A generation or so after immigration the Irish could easily pass for even the wealthiest WASP.

Obviously that was not the case with African Americans who not only had ethnic features easily distinguishable from WASPs, but had until 1865 been treated like animals and were freed for the most part with no property of their own and had to start their freedom journey from the absolute bottom, with nothing. And roadblocks were constantly thrown in their way.

Occam's razor would indicate that these obvious, indisputable factors are a far more likely explanation for black poverty and related criminal behavior in the United States, a mere five or six generations after Emancipation, rather than a pan-continental genetic tendency to criminality.

Especially when the genetic tendencies are based on evo-psycho theories like the Northern Superiority Hypothesis and the warrior gene. And methodology that ignores genetic testing. And that fact that some data of the hereditarian foundational text The Bell Curve comes from racists.

Those of us who don't agree with hereditarian explanations for human behavior say that it's social conditions that determine the behavior of ethnic groups, as P.Z. Myers pointed out:
If you listen to the whole 8-minute video, what you hear is Pinker first saying that you can’t voice certain facts on campus, then stating those facts (self-refutation, anyone?), then explaining that his facts are more complex than he let on, which is what the college professors he’s blaming already do.
You can't disagree with the hereditarian conclusions about the data and at the same time deny the data exists. 

And as I have discovered in this evo-psycho bro series, there are hereditarians in American colleges right now who are talking about black criminality and intelligence.

I'll talk about that next.