In his zeal to defend science from the onslaught of those allegedly waging a “war on science” Steven Pinker (in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education taken from his recent book, Enlightenment Now) cries foul against anyone who dares suggest that science (including Darwinian science) has anything to do with racism. Racism, Pinker informs us — as if anyone needed to be informed — is much older than the dastardly scientific racism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Pinker admits that scientific racists deserve our opprobrium, but he rescues science from any taint by assuring us that scientific racism was not really scientific, but merely pseudoscientific. The problem with labelling views such as scientific racism as pseudoscience is that it is anachronistic. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries scientific racism was mainstream in biology and anthropology; it was taught at most major universities and was featured in most textbooks.
Indeed, in the 19th century many scientific racists used some of the exact same arguments as Pinker does to defend their turf: They asserted that their views were scientific and anyone who challenged racism was denying science (the Nobel Prize-winning biologist Konrad Lorenz advanced this argument, as did many others). Scientific racists painted their opponents as uneducated people blinkered by religion or some other form of ideology. Thankfully, Pinker rejects scientific racism, and he is using science to defend different ideals, but his approach is the same: We wear the lab coats, so you must believe us. More.
Yes. “Pseudoscience” just means that none of the perpetrators can be considered responsible for any of the damage done. Current authorities just alter the program and go on being authorities, with no reckoning.
And after all this time, what do we see? Science journal freakouts over US public schools while the actual assault on science today is the war on evidence from within the university. Evidence, after all, is oppressive.
See also: Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: But it’s too late for enlightenment now
Historic journal Nature is freaked out over American public school science classrooms – again
Biology is real, if not popular: Lone scientist squares off with social justice warriors. And where’s Big Science?