A recently retired New York Times reporter has written a book, A Troublesome Inheritance, espousing Darwinian racism, that is, the belief that evolution has been occurring rapidly. This, we are told, resulted in races having different hereditary IQs.
Naturally, we were wondering why the PC police haven’t pounced. Of course the thesis is nonsense, but that isn’t why the PC police haven’t pounced. It’s just that Darwinian racism didn’t used to be a PC brand of nonsense. Now it apparently is.
Here is a revealing bit from a mostly favourable review in Evolutionary Psychology:
Most social scientists explicitly denounce mind-body dualism as an anachronistic theory that was decisively refuted by modern advances in biology and neuroscience. In practice, however, many implicitly harbor dualistic beliefs, especially when theorizing about potentially incendiary topics such as sex or race differences. The physiognomies and physiques of the sexes or races may vary, but their minds do not. This selective dualism implicitly assumes that the material inside the skull is impervious to selective forces and that the mind, like Descartes’ res cogitans, mysteriously transcends the laws of physics. Because this belief is completely at odds with current knowledge about the world, and with the explicit pronouncements of most social scientists, it is difficult not to see it as a manifestation of political ideology. This does not mean that every researcher or scholar who harbors such beliefs does so because of his or her political preferences; rather, it means that selective dualism has achieved near fixation in academia because it coheres with the ideology of egalitarianism1 that is a prominent component of the worldview of most educated citizens, including professors (see Inglehart and Welzel, 2005; also, many social scientists are liberal, which might compound this problem—see Inbar and Lammers, 2012). Haidt (2013) and others (e.g., Tetlock, 2002) have noted that conscious and unconscious ideologies, like small and imperceptible fluctuations on a superficially smooth surface, can subtly direct the path of science. If these ideologies are wedded to strong political or moral commitments, they can create a “moral tribe”[*] who values ideological consistency more than open and honest inquiry.
So rejection of racism is now part of mind-body dualism (= the assumption that the mind is real, and not simply an illusion created by the buzz of neurons in the brain)?
We have honestly never heard before that one needs to be a mind-body dualist to oppose racism. But if people insist it is true, Uncommon Descent (where everyone is some kind of mind-body dualist) is here for you. 😉
So, let’s see. In “PZ Myers Wades into the Troublesome Inheritance controversy,” I noted that invoking Darwin’s name means that one can advance a racist doctrine safely now. (The Kleagle died recently of envy, I am told. Fundamentalism had prevented him from espousing Darwinism, and now look … )
I said in irony that this was a real triumph of progressive politics. But it turns out that it is not an irony at all. One of the authors of the review, “Darwin’s Duel with Descartes” is Ben Winegard.
Here’s his bio from a leftist site (along with that of a co-author on an article there):
Ben Winegard is a graduate student studying evolutionary and developmental psychology at the University of Missouri. He has published peer-reviewed articles on sports fandom and female body dissatisfaction. He also has an interest in radical politics and activism. … Cortne Jai Winegard has a Master’s Degree in community development and urban planning. She is active in the Columbia, Missouri area promoting simple living and biking. She does not own a motor vehicle and is proud of it. She is also interested in radical politics and activism.
So Darwinism was how racism became an okay left-wing cause?
This whole “Troublesome Inheritance” controversy would appear to be two things (among others, doubtless):
1. An attack on the idea that the human mind has any real existence or that human reasoning has any independence from Darwinian genes. If this assumption is correct, it accounts for the peculiar lumping of a variety of people unsympathetic to creationism into the category, creationists.
That’s standard leftist practice. A “creationist” turns out to be anyone who is unsympathetic to whatever their program is at the moment. So everyone who doesn’t want creationist “cooties” has to run around trying to figure out what the program even is, to get on board with it.
2. Troublesome Inheritance is also probably a renewal of racism on the cultural left. If so, that would explain why “race as a biological construct” suddenly matters so much in those quarters, after it has been in eclipse so long. As is usual with such people, former heroes are now dogs, and the rest of us must figure out what their new program will be. Of that, we are not sure.
[*] Moral tribe? The Canadians who refuse to tolerate legal domestic abuse even though some say it is part of their religion and culture, can be thought of as a “moral tribe.” So? And your point is what, exactly? – O’Leary for News
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