March 17, 2013

Remembering Stephen Jay Gould: Bully and Boob

Natural History magazine, in which the late Stephen Jay Gould went on at such length for so many years, offers a perspective on Gould's career by the distinguished physical anthropologist Ian Tattersall that's outwardly celebratory, but is actually a pretty funny account of Gould's penchant for projection of all his own intellectual inadequacy, ethical shortcomings, and ethnic hostility on to the morally and technically superior scientists that he fulminated against. (Of course, you have to read it closely and all the way to the end to notice this.)
Remembering Stephen Jay Gould 
By Ian Tattersall 
... Principally in the 1970s—when memories of the struggle for civil rights in the United States during the previous decade were still extremely raw

Or, in other words, when the battles were already won
—Gould devoted a long series of his columns to the subject of racism, as it presented itself in a whole host of different guises. In his very first year of writing for Natural History, he ruminated on the “race problem” both as a taxonomic issue, and in its more political expression in relation to intelligence. He even made the matter personal, with a lucid and deeply thoughtful demolition in Natural History of the purportedly scientific bases for discrimination against Jewish immigrants to America furnished by such savants as H. H. Goddard and Karl Pearson.

A historical farrago, of course, but one that millions of people still believe: Jews didn't score well on IQ tests. A simple historical reality check, such as noting the vast rise of Jewish students at Harvard in the first two decades of the 20th Century and the subsequent imposition of admissions quotas, would suggest that Gould got the story backwards (as indeed he did).
Gould also began his long-lasting and more specific campaign against genetic determinism, via a broadside against the conclusions of Arthur Jensen, the psychologist who had argued that education could not do much to level the allegedly different performances of various ethnic groups on IQ tests. And he began a vigorous and still somewhat controversial exploration of the historical roots of “scientific racism” in the work of nineteenth-century embryologists such as Ernst Haeckel and Louis Bolk. 
But Gould’s most widely noticed contribution to the race issue began in 1978, with his attack in Science on the conclusions of the early-nineteenth century physician and craniologist Samuel George Morton, whom he characterized rather snarkily as a “self-styled objective empiricist.”

It's important to keep in mind this in mind about Gould's jihad against Morton: it's not as if Gould was courageously attacking some giant figure in the history of science with numerous still active defenders. Barely anybody outside of physical anthropologists had heard of Morton when Gould started his crusade against him. The only reason Morton was famous in the 1970s was because Gould was so angry about him. Gould wasn't picking a fight with the current state of the art skull expert, he was picking a fight with a guy who had been dead for 127 years, who had been dead for 8 years when The Origin of Species was published. It was absurd, but it made Gould a lot of money.
In three voluminous works published in Philadelphia between 1839 and 1849—on Native American and ancient Egyptian skulls, and on his own collection of more than 600 skulls of all races—the widely admired Morton had presented the results of the most extensive study ever undertaken of human skulls. The main thrust of this study had been to investigate the then intensely debated question of whether the various races of humankind had a single origin or had been separately created. Morton opted for polygeny, or multiple origins, a conclusion hardly guaranteed to endear him to Gould. Along the way, Morton presented measurements that showed, in keeping with prevailing European and Euro-American beliefs on racial superiority, that Caucasians had larger brains than American “Indians,” who in turn had bigger brains than “Negroes” did. 
After closely examining Morton’s data, Gould characterized the Philadelphia savant’s conclusions as “a patchwork of assumption and finagling, controlled, probably unconsciously, by his conventional a priori ranking (his folks on top, slaves on the bottom).” He excoriated Morton for a catalog of sins that included inconsistencies of criteria, omissions of both procedural and convenient kinds, slips and errors, and miscalculations. And although in the end he found “no indication of fraud or conscious manipulation,” he did see “Morton’s saga” as an “egregious example of a common problem in scientific work.” As scientists we are all, Gould asserted, unconscious victims of our preconceptions, and the “only palliations I know are vigilance and scrutiny.” 
That blanket condemnation of past and current scientific practice was a theme Gould shortly returned to, with a vengeance, in his 1981 volume The Mismeasure of Man. Probably no book Gould ever wrote commanded wider attention than did this energetic critique of the statistical methods that had been used to substantiate one of his great bĂȘtes noires, biological determinism.

Gould was in over his head when it came to the kind of statistics required to contribute to psychometrics.
This was the belief, as Gould put it, that “the social and economic differences between human groups—primarily races, classes, and sexes—arise from inherited, inborn distinctions and that society, in this sense, is an accurate reflection of biology.” 
In Mismeasure, Gould restated his case against Morton at length, adding to the mix a robust rebuttal of methods of psychological testing that aimed at quantifying “intelligence” as a unitary attribute.

Think about how colleges use SAT scores in admission. Do they look at a unitary SAT score: Most do. Do they look separately at Math and Verbal scores separately: Usually. Do they look at the newer Writing score? Some do, some don't. Do they look at SAT Subject Test scores? Some do, most don't. Do they look at subtest scores on the SAT? Maybe a few do, but I've never heard of it.

In other words, we have the usual Lumper and Splitter situation. I.Q. works the same way. The military won't let you enlist if you are in the bottom 30% on the IQ-like AFQT test used in The Bell Curve. But, if they do let you enlist, they are fairly interested in your subtest scores on the AFQT's superset ASVAB in helping determine what kind of job you'll get.

This isn't really that complicated, but Gould was too knuckleheaded to get it.
One of his prime targets was inevitably Arthur Jensen, the psychologist he had already excoriated in the pages of Natural History for Jensen’s famous conclusion that the Head Start program, designed to improve low-income children’s school performance by providing them with pre-school educational, social, and nutritional enrichment, was doomed to fail because the hereditary component of their performance—notably that of African American children—was hugely dominant over the environmental one.

As you can see by looking around you, everything has changed since the publication of Jensen's Harvard Education Review article in the 1960s. Since then, The Gap has completely disappeared, proving Jensen wrong and Gould right.
A predictable furor followed the publication of Mismeasure, paving the way for continuing controversy during the 1980s and 1990s on the question of the roles of nature versus nurture in the determination of intelligence. 
This issue of nature versus nurture, a choice between polar opposites, was of course designed for polemic, and attempts to find a more nuanced middle ground have usually been drowned out by the extremes.

Who exactly are these extremes on the purported Nature Only side that had their hands on the Megaphone to do the drowning? Jensen was on the side of Nature and Nurture, and he sure didn't have the Megaphone. Gould did, and he was the extremist on the Nurture Only side.
So it was in Gould’s case. An unrepentant political liberal, he was firmly on the side of nurture. As a result of his uncompromising characterizations of his opponents’ viewpoints, Gould found himself frequently accused by Jensen and others of misrepresenting their positions and of erecting straw men to attack. 
Yet even after Mismeasure first appeared, the climax of the debate was yet to come. In 1994, Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published their notorious volume, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. At positively Gouldian length

but with unGouldian heapings of data, correctly analyzed
, Herrnstein and Murray gave a new boost to the argument that intelligence is largely inherited, proclaiming that innate intelligence was a better predictor of such things as income, job performance, chances of unwanted pregnancy, and involvement in crime than are factors such as education level or parental socioeconomic status. They also asserted that, in America, a highly intelligent, “cognitive elite” was becoming separated from the less intelligent underperforming classes

But as we can see 19 years later, it's totally clear that Herrnstein and Murray were wrong because society is so much more egalitarian today. Oh, wait ...
, and in consequence they recommended policies such as the elimination of what they saw as welfare incentives for poor women to have children.
To Gould such claims were like the proverbial red rag to a bull. He rapidly published a long review essay in The New Yorker attacking the four assertions on which he claimed Herrnstein and Murray’s argument depended. In order to be true, Gould said, Herrnstein and Murray’s claims required that that what they were measuring as intelligence must be: (1) representable as a single number;

See "Splitter-Lumper" above
(2) must allow linear rank ordering of people;

Which is what Gould's Harvard does in evaluating applicants, what the U.S. Army does, what everybody does. Obviously, rank ordering people has its faults, but the point of The Bell Curve is that tests do have some degree of predictive power, which is what science is about. Gould, however, was far less interested in predicting the future than in controlling the past to control the future.
(3) be primarily heritable;

Or partly heritable. Remember, Gould was the Nurture Only extremist.
and (4) be essentially immutable.

Or, as Herrnstein and Murray said, IQ gaps appear to be "intractable" by plausible government remediation programs. For example, today you see that the most fashionable solution for The Gap is to more or less kidnap tiny black children and hand them over to college graduates to raise during almost all of their waking hours, then drop them off with their kin only for sleeping. Maybe that will work, maybe not, but you can see how far fashion has gone for the Borrowed Generation to be the conventional wisdom of the moment.
None of those assumptions, he declared, was tenable. And soon afterward he returned to the attack with a revised and expanded edition of Mismeasure that took direct aim at Herrnstein and Murray’s long book. 

The funny thing about Gould is that he seemed to have a very high impression of his own IQ, and lots of people shared that view, but there were always doubters, such as Paul Krugman. I doubt if Gould was as smart as Dave Barry.
There can be little doubt that, as articulated in both editions of Mismeasure, Gould’s conclusions found wide acceptance not only among anthropologists but in the broader social arena as well. But doubts have lingered about Gould’s broad-brush approach to the issues involved, and particularly about a penchant he had to neglect any nuance there might have been in his opponents’ positions. Indeed, he was capable of committing in his own writings exactly the kinds of error of which he had accused Samuel Morton—ironically, even in the very case of Morton himself. 
In June 2011, a group of physical anthropologists led by Jason Lewis published a critical analysis of Gould’s attacks on Morton’s craniology. By remeasuring the cranial capacities of about half of Morton’s extensive sample of human skulls, Lewis and colleagues discovered that the data reported by Morton had on the whole been pretty accurate. They could find no basis in the actual specimens themselves for Gould’s suggestion that Morton had (albeit unconsciously) overmeasured European crania, and under-measured African or Native American ones. What’s more, they could find no evidence that, as alleged by Gould, Morton had selectively skewed the results in various other ways. 
The anthropologists did concede that Morton had attributed certain psychological characteristics to particular racial groups. But they pointed out that, while Morton was inevitably a creature of his own times, he had done nothing to disguise his racial prejudices or his polygenist sympathies. And they concluded that, certainly by prevailing standards, Morton’s presentation of his basic data had been pretty unbiased. What is more, while they were able to substantiate Gould’s claim that Morton’s final summary table of his results contained a long list of errors, Lewis and colleagues also found that correcting those errors would actually have served to reinforce Morton’s own declared biases. And they even discovered that Gould had reported erroneous figures of his own. 
It is hard to refute the authors’ conclusion that Gould’s own unconscious preconceptions colored his judgment. Morton, naturally enough, carried all of the cultural baggage of his time, ethnicity, and class. But so, it seems, did Gould. And in a paradoxical way, Gould had proved his own point. Scientists are human beings, and when analyzing evidence they always have to be on guard against the effects of their own personal predilections. 
There is no doubt whatsoever that Gould’s humane and passionate writing in defense of racial equality will be looked upon by future anthropologists and historians as a beacon of rational positivism in an age in which genetic reductionism was showing alarming signs of resurgence—as indeed it still is, as race-stratified genome-wide association studies continue to dominate research on human variation.

In other words, the more science advances, the more Gould is left behind.
As Gould’s longtime friend, the anthropologist Richard Milner, told a correspondent from Discover magazine: “Whatever conclusions he reached, rightly or wrongly, he did with complete conviction and integrity. He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”

The ends justify the means.

This essay is fairly damning, but I wonder: how many readers noticed. I have to imagine that Tattersall (or the editors) calculated this pretty nicely: Nick Wade will notice it's a takedown of Gould, but 98% of the subscribers will just take away "side of the angels."

75 comments:

  1. " He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”

    The pursuit of truth means nothing, nothing to their ilk.

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  2. "There is no doubt whatsoever that Gould’s humane and passionate writing in defense of racial equality will be looked upon by future anthropologists and historians as a beacon of rational positivism in an age in which genetic reductionism was showing alarming signs of resurgence—as indeed it still is, as race-stratified genome-wide association studies continue to dominate research on human variation."

    That last clause--Mr. Tattersall seems very Gouldian. Like, man, what's wrong with the study of racial differences or the study of male-female differences or the study of anything as long as the truth is what is sought? Just another anti-science guy.

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  3. Gould was a good writer though. His essays on random natural history subjects are very engaging.

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  4. ...but is actually a pretty funny account of Gould's penchant for projection of all his own intellectual inadequacy, ethical shortcomings, and ethnic hostility on to the morally and technically superior scientists that he fulminated against.

    The typical scotch-irish.

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  5. Gould wasn't "humane and passionate", it was dishonest and sleazy.

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  6. Slightly OT:
    Astonishing racial disparities in the new class admitted to NYC elite public schools:

    —Stuyvesant offered admission to 9 black students; 24 Latino students; 177 white students; and 620 students who identify as Asian.
    —Bronx Science offered admission to 25 black students; 54 Latino students; 239 white students; 489 Asian students; and 3 American Indian/Alaskan Native students.
    —Brooklyn Tech offered admission to 110 black students; 134 Latino students; 451 white students; 960 Asian students; and 5 American Indian/Alaskan Native students.

    http://www.schoolbook.org/2013/03/15/high-school-admissions

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  7. I imagine that theLevel Playing Field Initiative has a framed photo of Gould placed at the head of their table during meetings.

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  8. "The ends justify the means."

    Can they really be that proud of these ends? How is the average American Indian or African American better off today because of Stephen Jay Gould's work?

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  9. Gould was a paradigmatic exemplar of what is destroying the West.

    The American Lysenko.

    Anon.

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  10. If the Chinese figure out how to engineer genius babies by selecting the smartest gametes or zygote for a given couple, that black Americans will exploit the hell out of that technology. It would be terribly interesting to live in a world with super-intelligent dark-skinned black people.

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  11. What a lame article by Tattersall. His big conclusion is that Scientists are human too--really? No kidding... Ever sat through a department meeting, or spent even 1 month at a Western university? Yes, amazing to consider, professional academics or "researchers" i.e. hired hands nevertheless operate under finite resources and divergent incentives which drive them into sectarianism, petty feuds, and the backstabbing of perceived rivals. Zounds

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  12. 'As Gould’s longtime friend, the anthropologist Richard Milner, told a correspondent from Discover magazine: “Whatever conclusions he reached, rightly or wrongly, he did with complete conviction and integrity. He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”'

    I don't even know where to begin with this statement. Conviction yes, integrity not so much. One suspects that the bias was conscious rather than unconscious. And as far as his bias being on the side of the angels, I think the jury is out on that one. If those angels were Hebraic, then Herrnstein was on the side of the devil. Who knew?

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  13. "Can they really be that proud of these ends? How is the average American Indian or African American better off today because of Stephen Jay Gould's work?"

    That was never the point. I suspect that his real point was to prevent another Holocaust. And much like a good elephant repellant, Gould's single-handed prevention of the great Holocaust of 1985 was magnificently successful. You have Gould to thank.

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  14. He was the American Trofim Lysenko.

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  15. IMO, if the angels stand for falsehood then they're not angels. You can't polish this turd.

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  16. This post has a cute 1990s, Usenet kind of feel to it. It's easy to imagine the ">>'s" indenting the quoted article. Appropriate retro feel, given the subject matter.

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  17. "He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”

    Well, there you have it. Modern leftist humanism laid bare: they've got the wrong thoughts, but they're the Right Thoughts.

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  18. Gould was not a liberal but a self-described Marxist.

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  19. "If the Chinese figure out"

    they haven't?

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  20. Well I for one still have Gould to thank. I took "Thinking about Thinking" by the Three Yiddish Amigos (Dersh, Gould and Nozick) and discovered in the bound class notes J. Philippe Rushton's survey articles laying out the r/K theory in detail. It blew my mind as much as La Griffe du Lion did a decade later.

    It was probably the single best idea I got out of Harvard.

    Thanks again, guys!

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  21. OT -- totally. But the Jodi Arias trail seems to have some iSteve worthy interest. Mormon male victim, Hispanic (perhaps old school) alleged perp. The two and their friends seem all to have rattled around much of the Great Basin, at least the southern parts of it, despite having California connections.

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  22. theo the kraut3/17/13, 11:59 PM

    > deeply thoughtful demolition in Natural History
    > of the purportedly scientific bases for discrimination
    > against Jewish immigrants to America furnished
    > by such savants as H. H. Goddard and Karl Pearson.


    wikipedia.org Karl Pearson:


    Goddard established an intelligence testing program on Ellis Island in 1913. The purpose of the program was to identify "feeble-minded" persons whose nature was not obvious to the subjective judgement of immigration officers, who had previously made these judgements without the aid of tests.[4] When he published the results in 1917, Goddard stated that his results only applied to immigrants traveling steerage and did not apply to people traveling in first or second class.[5] He also noted that the population he studied had been preselected, cutting out those who were either "obviously normal" or "obviously feeble-minded", and stated that he made "no attempt to determine the percentage of feeble-minded among immigrants in general or even of the special groups named – the Jews, Hungarians, Italians, and Russians"; a qualifier omitted in works by opponents of the study of intelligence such as Gould and Kamin.[4]

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  23. There is no doubt whatsoever that Gould’s humane and passionate writing in defense of racial equality will be looked upon by future anthropologists and historians as a beacon of rational positivism in an age in which genetic reductionism was showing alarming signs of resurgence—as indeed it still is, as race-stratified genome-wide association studies continue to dominate research on human variation.

    He's already glumly nostalgic for the dark ages.

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  24. Dave Pinsen - Can they really be that proud of these ends? How is the average American Indian or African American better off today because of Stephen Jay Gould's work?

    Not better off at all. But then that's not the point, the point is to attack and undermine The Hated Enemy - white folks. In which case Gould is still succeeding from beyond the grave.

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  25. Jonathan Silber3/18/13, 3:50 AM

    Both the Liberals and the Islamists are fanatics.

    And both think that, because they're on the side of the angels, anything and everything is permitted them.

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  26. Boas, Montagu, Gould, people like this always seem to grab the megaphone and control the message.

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  27. "" He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”

    Lies are never "on the side of the angels." If you truly believe in "racial equality", and you truly believe all the enormous differences in behavior and outcome are due only to environment and nuture (or lack thereof), then you should welcome whatever truth comes.
    And anyway, whose side are those "angels" on that he's talking about. Vast injustices have been done to the so-called privileged racial classes in America in the past 60 years. That's been extensively discussed in this blog.

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  28. FredR: Gould was a good writer though.

    Gould became a terrible writer as the years went on, his prose progressively more verbose and logorrheic.

    -meh

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  29. he was on the side of the angels

    to clarify: he was on the side of the Jews who control the bullhorn (and so am I, thank you sir, may I have another?)

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  30. Can they really be that proud of these ends? How is the average American Indian or African American better off today because of Stephen Jay Gould's work?

    You assume the ends are to make American Indians or African Americans better off. You assume this, of course, because that's what they say their ends are, but after decades of seeing the results, it's time to assume they have different ends, since they are largely pursuing the same policies that have failed in the past.

    Ignore what they say, watch what they do.

    Based on what they're doing, they appear to be attempting to stifle dissent on any and all issues in order to create a stratified society in which a self-selected few are on top. Helping "disadvantaged minorities" isn't the goal, and if nonesuch existed they'd make up a new class to fit the need. For example, if the old nastiness in racial subjugation faded into the background, they might find a minority oppressed because of their sexual preference. One can see this progression news, and how new outrages are always being created: gay marriage, for example.

    Again, ignore what they say, watch what they do.

    It's really difficult to do that, at times, because most of us have been raised to be polite, and assume that people mean what they say. Hell, in this case most of those making the pronouncements probably believe what they're saying.

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  31. It would be terribly interesting to live in a world with super-intelligent dark-skinned black people.

    That world is currently known as Hollywood.

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  32. "He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form, and if he was guilty of the kind of unconscious bias in science that he warned against, at least his bias was on the side of the angels.”

    Standard apology of Stalin's crimes. It was on the side of angels to create an equal society.

    The very problem is fighting ALL kinds of race-ism. One should fight radical racism and pseudo-scientific racism but one should defend rational race-ism that only means races exist and racial differences exist and racial consciousness is natural.

    Radical and/or pseudo-scientific anti-racism is as evil as radical racism. It is equally blind.

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  33. "Anonymous FredR said...

    Gould was a good writer though. His essays on random natural history subjects are very engaging."

    I tried reading a book by Gould once. I forget which one - something he wrote in the late 70s or early 80s. It was just about unreadable - verbose to the point of distraction. He was obvioulsy so in love with his own prose, that he never bothered to check whether his words actually conveyed the meaning he intended (or indeed, any meaning at all). It was also self-consciously stuffed with baseball references as if to say: hey, I am a regular american guy - I like baseball. Which of course, he wasn't. He was an ivy-league elitist and a marxist intellectual.

    Gould was a fraud. He was ultimately nothing but a propagandist and a purveyor of unscientific beliefs that were in fact wrong. Not much of a legacy for someone who was purportedly a scientist.

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  34. Well, Miss gives less welfare to blacks and it has more poor blacks with kids. More liberal states like Washignton gave a little more welfare but have less poor blacks with kids. Other factors are involved here.

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  35. "the most fashionable solution for The Gap is to more or less kidnap tiny black children and hand them over to college graduates to raise during almost all of their waking hours, then drop them off with their kin only for sleeping."

    I went to the much touted Abecedarian Project and tried to estimate the cost of educating each little black tot.

    My rough estimate based on the annual investment and number of kids served (no pension costs, facility costs, etc.) was somewhere between $125,000 and $250,000 per year per kid.

    There were also the opportunity costs: it required a large stable of nubile young white women who should be making white babies and educating white children.

    The dollar cost and the racial cost are just not worth the sacrifice to the white community. However, if the Negro community wishes to take responsibility for their race and pay for this I certainly wouldn't stand in their way. Better Physics than Fiddycent.

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  36. Mr. Gould's "anti-racism" or what presumably passes for it...how has it prevented the squandering of lives that are led by blacks in Oakland, Detroit, the 9th Ward of New Orleans, and an endless number of cities and communities across the land. How? Can his defenders tell me? Can his kind tell me?

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  37. ben tillman3/18/13, 9:50 AM

    He was a tireless combatant against racism in any form....

    Except the form of racism that holds Whites collectively guilty for acts of nature.

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  38. "Obviously, unless the resident whose chair was stolen or pumpkin smashed actually witnessed these acts of vandalism being committed by an African-American person, an assumption by the victim or the author about the ethnicity of the perpetrator is patently foolish. "

    "Last summer he was sitting on his stoop in a lounge chair and went in to use the bathroom, and when he returned, there was no chair—a neighbor watched a black kid on a bike zero in to lift it."

    It is extrordinarily rare for whites to commit pranks, much less crimes, against the elderly. That kind of depravity is almost exclusively a black thing.

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  39. Today we have another such popular pseudo-scientific theorist - Jared Diamond. They occupy much the same niche. I am close to having read everything Diamond has written just as I read almost every popular book by Gould. Both are gracious authors but I read them slowly because I disagree with nearly all their conclusions. I have to fight my way though their books.

    Both are innumerate. Diamond includes no numbers at all in his books and Gould only pretended to. Gould confessed himself that he wasn't any good at math and I take him at his word. See his article on "spandrels".

    But oddly enough he wrote at least two books in which he lectured his readers pompously about statistics. He often used baseball analogies to appear folksy but to anyone who knew even a little math this was hardly needed. He only discussed elementary concepts. He wrote ponderous lectures on mistaking the median for the mean and vice-versa - as if he was imparting the wisdom of the ages. He should have stuck to his personal attacks on the character of Victorian scientists.

    It's odd how people who are bad at numbers become famous for their math work. Another example of someone who is self confessed as not very mathematical is Michael Mann of the "hockey stick" fame. I wonder if Mann like Gould is a Marxist?

    Already Gould's considerable fame is fading. Dressing up a leftist political lecture as an essay on scientific history isn't a very effective mechanism for lasting regard, no matter how well done. He is nowadays remembered for only two things: punctuated equilibrium and the mustard seed bias in cranial measurements.

    It always seemed to me that punctuated equilibrium is just a product of scale and discrete versus continuous. Evolution happens one organism at a time. Either a specific individual reproduces or it doesn't. It's a dicrete phenomenon. Continuity only appears when you stand back. In the classic example horses seem to have smoothly and continuously grown taller. At least that how it looks from a smattering of fossils and millions of years of time. But of course that's an observational illusion. Conventional Darwinian theory was smoothing the bumps out like anti-aliasing software. Gould supplied a needed corrective. Good job.

    But he has also become the most famous scientific villain since Cyril Burt was accused of dry labbing his twin studies.

    For all his speculating about the subject biases of Morton, he has shown himself to be the one victimized by his own prejudices. He didn't even try to replicate Morton's measurements by experiment. He revealed himself to be the real "arm chair philosopher". He approched the issue as a lterrary man not a scientist.

    Most of the liberal public still think he has debunked racial differences in brain sizes but that view can't last. Morton wrote before there was medical imaging at all. Today millions have had MRIs and Cat Scans. These brain revealing technologies are commonplace. You can see your brain now if you just ask your doctor for the films. They are like the results of blood tests - once rare and mysterious - now routine.

    Blacks really do have smaller brains and all of Gould's wondrous prose can no longer hide this fact.

    Albertosaurus

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  40. So let me see. Its wrong for Gould to have spent so much time constantly attacking a dead person-says the person constantly attacking (the dead) Gould.

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  41. Boas, Montagu, Gould, people like this always seem to grab the megaphone and control the message.

    It's a pattern anthropologists themselves should be interested in and trying to explain.

    See Chapter 2 in Kevin MacDonald's "Culture of Critique", The Boasian School of Anthropology and the Decline of Darwinism in the Social Sciences.

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  42. "on the side of the angels"

    more like

    On the side of the fallen angels just like the father of lies. Gould called the truth lies, and evil good.

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  43. I remember leafing through a couple of Tattersall's books over the years. He seemed a lot like Diamond, not as bad as Gould, but he was clearly upset by the political implications of the gene-centered view of evolution. This would have been like giving Diamond a retrospective on Gould, if you ignore the fact that Gould's widow has been attacking Diamond for pointing out people in New Guinea are violent. They picked a somewhat favorable reviewer and still got some ample criticism of Gould. If they had got say a more knowledgeable theoretical biologist or population geneticist he or she would likely have ripped Gould to pieces, alas, The Powers That Be were not going to let that happen.

    E.O. Wilson's former Harvard colleague and co-author Bert Holldobler would have been nice, but of course he is German, and a Bavarian to boot, which can't be allowed. They could have gotten A.W.F. Edwards of Cambridge U. who demolished Richard Lewontin's spurious arguments about racial diversity. But hey, he's British and must therefore subconsciously be representative of WASP privilege. Plus he is a protege of Ronald Fisher, who believed in Eugenics, and we all know Eugenics=Fascism because Gould told us so, this despite the fact that lots of 20th century lefties believed in it ardently as well, so no chance he would do the retrospective either. So they picked a politically palatable WASP from Britain who wouldn't attack him too much.

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  44. Gould stuck his nose in everywhere. Conway-Morris blew his analysis of the Burgess Shale out of the water. He was the better scientist.

    Be we all know who made the most money. Being PC can be very lucrative.

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  45. Gould is a product of Antioch College,as am I.He was the guest speaker at my commencement in 1981.
    if you want to understand Gould's views on race,you need look into Antioch. it will tell you all you need to know>

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  46. i learned the words ineluctable & inexorable from him:) i read "mismeasure" 4 times from the early 80s to early 90s. the first time i believed it. then the bloom was off the rose. when i met him he called me "the mental tester" in a friendly way:) While i despise his leftist lying tactics, I must say he was good at conveying: "evolution does NOT mean progress, just adaptation to changing local environment."

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  47. The real mismeasure of man involved penis size.

    In order to allay white male fears about the Negro threat, liberal scientists lied that all penis sizes are more or less the same across races.

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  48. "Gould stuck his nose in everywhere. Conway-Morris blew his analysis of the Burgess Shale out of the water. He was the better scientist."

    I still would blame Gould less than those who enabled him. No matter how much he had to say, he wouldn't have been heard unless the powers that be favored him and promoted him over truthtellers.
    I mean Jared Taylor has a lot to say too, but is he given the platform Gould had? That is the real difference.
    Same thing with Malcolm Gladwell. He didn't so much succeed as was favored for success.
    Same thing with Obama, a total nonentity.

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  49. He seemed a lot like Diamond, not as bad as Gould, but he was clearly upset by the political implications of the gene-centered view of evolution.


    Is there some other view of evolution?

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  50. "In order to allay white male fears about the Negro threat, liberal scientists lied that all penis sizes are more or less the same across races."

    Relax, dawg. This cracker won't be in your territory. I'm busy where I am...

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  51. anony-mouse said...
    So let me see. Its wrong for Gould to have spent so much time constantly attacking a dead person-says the person constantly attacking (the dead) Gould.


    This sort of thing has become so common in comment thread debate. Anything but engage ideas and assertions.

    But let's take this seriously, if only to reveal its silliness: criticism of Gould's legacy of mis-characterizing the legacies of the dead is off limits, you see, because he's dead.

    I say great, let's entomb his record of distortion with his corpse--but that requires the cooperation of Gould apologists: stop holding him up as an exemplar of reasoning and we'll stop revealing this as a fraud. Deal?

    Gould not only picked his fights with conveniently passed-on giants, he picked them with giants who had no willing defenders in the Boasian tyranny post-WWII. A rather typical bully then--one with no real balls.

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  52. "Well, Miss gives less welfare to blacks and it has more poor blacks with kids. More liberal states like Washignton gave a little more welfare but have less poor blacks with kids. Other factors are involved here."


    I don't know the stats and you haven't given them so I'll just throw this out: I'm going to guess that most people in Miss of all races are much less likely to have abortions than all people in WA state are. It's a religious thing.

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  53. I encourage people to read the Krugman link. The "evolution by jerks" line he repeats is extremely funny in its context.

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  54. Is there some other view of evolution?

    Well Gould's view was: It can't be true, because that would mean guys like Galton were right all along. That's why Gould and his fellow travelers at Harvard coined the term "biological determinism". Guys like Gould, Diamond, and Tattersall are carry-overs from before gene-centered evolution took over the field, by the time those ideas had taken over they were already middle-aged and still carried with them the pre-gene centered views.

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  55. Harry Baldwin3/18/13, 5:41 PM

    Same thing with Obama, a total nonentity.

    Is Obama really a nonentity? Was it his quality as a non-entity that caused people to see a potential national candidate in him ten years ago? Was it his nonentitiness that enabled him to beat the favored Hillary for the 2008 nomination, and go on to win the presidency twice?

    Calling Obama a nonentity is like calling Brad Pitt or Robert De Niro nonentities. There may not be much going on in there but they certainly have something that's proven immensely valuable. The Republicans could have used such a nonentity in the last two elections.

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  56. Steve, 98% of readers aren't going to make it to the bottom of that page. Most are going to look at the picture and think "Gould liked to converse with giraffes. What a nice guy."

    Maybe 10% are going to read the first paragraph or two and conclude that Gould was popular, interesting, a virtuoso, and generally important figure in evolutionary anthropology.

    Maybe 2% will read all the way to the end. Of those two percent, maybe 1-1.5% are going to come out with the impression that Gould had some problems, but was on the side of the angels, racism is bad hmmmkay, etc.

    The remaining 0.5%-1% probably knew before reading it that Gould was an inveterate liar, a staunch opponent of the truth, a fraud who will be remembered by history as an American Lysenko. Of those people, there will be two camps. One will hate him, his kind and everything he stands for. The other camp will privately celebrate his mendacity and use his life as a study in profiting from con-jobs. They will treat him as a master to be learned from. Outwardly, those same people will outwardly play dumb and feign a caring, sharing nature when writing about him, excusing him for every sin in whatever manner they think will be plausible. And they will laugh.

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  57. "Harry Baldwin said...

    Is Obama really a nonentity? Was it his quality as a non-entity that caused people to see a potential national candidate in him ten years ago? Was it his nonentitiness that enabled him to beat the favored Hillary for the 2008 nomination, and go on to win the presidency twice?"

    George W. Bush is a non-entity, and he was elected too. The President is now little more than an empty vessel into which party operatives and campaign donors poor their hopes and schemes. So, yes, Obama is a non-entity.

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  58. "anony-mouse said...

    So let me see. Its wrong for Gould to have spent so much time constantly attacking a dead person-says the person constantly attacking (the dead) Gould."

    No, Steve was criticizing Gould for wrongly and maliciously attacking a dead person.

    And your post was as tendentious and mendacious as most of your posts are.

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  59. "Is Obama really a nonentity?"

    In substance, yes. He lucked out from the beginning because the media was on his side.
    Look, if the media had given McCain/Palin the Obama-treatment and Obama/Biden the McCain/Palin treatment, Obama would have lost.

    Obama didn't beat Hillary. Obama with media wind behind his back beat Hillary.

    Nonentities can win in American politics. Bush II won twice and managed to convince 80% of American that the invasion of Iraq was totally necessary. Why? Media backed him on that.

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  60. Is Obama really a nonentity? Was it his quality as a non-entity that caused people to see a potential national candidate in him ten years ago? Was it his nonentitiness that enabled him to beat the favored Hillary for the 2008 nomination, and go on to win the presidency twice?

    Yes, yes, and yes. Any more questions?

    But seriously, it was his lack of anything resembling a personality or record that enabled white voters to project their wishes upon him. Past black candidates like Jesse Jackson were unelectable because they stood for things. Obama -- as he himself said -- was enough of a blank slate that different people could assume he stood for their different beliefs about what their vision of a post-racial, half-black, half-white candidate would stand for.

    Too much "entity-ness" would have spoiled that.

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  61. Harry Baldwin3/18/13, 10:05 PM

    It's fine to say that Obama won largely because he had the media and other powerful forces backing him, but to say he's "a total nonentity" implies that the media could have pushed any schmo into the presidency. Obviously, Obama has personal qualities that enabled him to make the most of the advantages offered him. The same thing might be said of Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy. Weren't they nonentities too? What is the purpose in calling someone who rises to the presidency a nonentity--literally, "one of no importance or influence"--other than as a putdown? It can be dangerous to hold your enemies in contempt.

    This line of argument reminds me of the claim many make that Obama is a stammering idiot who can't formulate a sentence without the help of his teleprompters, when in fact he has done well in debates and is obviously a fairly intelligent (though not brilliant) person.

    As far as Bush, I would consider him as more of an empty vessel than Obama, though I don't think nonentity is the right word for either of them.

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  62. Mr. Anon, Gould actually wrote a baseball book, a collection of essays call Triumph and Tragedy, a Lifelong Passion for Baseball. A copy was given to me a friend who's also a Yankees fan.

    Gould is like every other NYC-born Jew who comes to Boston: he wore his Yankees fandom on his sleeve.

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  63. "Anonymous said...

    Mr. Anon, Gould actually wrote a baseball book, a collection of essays call Triumph and Tragedy, a Lifelong Passion for Baseball. A copy was given to me a friend who's also a Yankees fan.

    Gould is like every other NYC-born Jew who comes to Boston: he wore his Yankees fandom on his sleeve."

    So it is an elaborate fraud. It all strikes me as a tactic for saying, in effect, "Look, I must be a loyal, traditional American - I like baseball. My marixist subversion of everything else in society not withstanding."

    I don't care. A commie rat is still a commie rat, even if he does like baseball. And, anyway, it was not germane to talking about the Cambrian explosion.

    And all that not-withstanding, the fact remains: as a writer, Gould stunk.

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  64. "Harry Baldwin said...

    It's fine to say that Obama won largely because he had the media and other powerful forces backing him, but to say he's "a total nonentity" implies that the media could have pushed any schmo into the presidency."

    I think they could. Again - G.W. Bush leaps to mind. Someday, they may push into office somebody of such obvious schmoeness that their power to do so will be revealed.

    "Obviously, Obama has personal qualities that enabled him to make the most of the advantages offered him."

    Yeah. Blackness. He was the first SWPL sounding black to be elected to the Senate - Bingo! He's in. I remain unimpressed with him.

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  65. So let me see. Its wrong for Gould to have spent so much time constantly attacking a dead person-says the person constantly attacking (the dead) Gould.

    So, let me see. Jews' tendency to reflexively defend other Jews (even the bad ones) means Jews aren't ethnocentric (what we call "racist" when whites do it).

    In order to allay white male fears about the Negro threat, liberal scientists lied that all penis sizes are more or less the same across races.

    Ever notice how the issue of race and penis size never seems to involve mentioning all those tiny yellow dicks? I mean, it's not like there's a developed black country that pumps out lots of porn, so there's still some mystery there. But yellow dicks? Case closed.

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  66. Is Obama really a nonentity?

    He only became a Senator because Star Trek woman's former husband was removed by having their sealed divorce records opened by a judge.

    He is a White Sox fan who could not name one member of their World Series winning team.

    Luckily he can avail of AA so that nobody will notice this.

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  67. "It is extrordinarily rare for whites to commit pranks, much less crimes, against the elderly. That kind of depravity is almost exclusively a black thing."

    That's certainly not true in the UK. Tormenting the elderly or the disabled tends to be a native thing, usually by underclass youths. Young black men do kill old people, but generally in street or doorstep robberies.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20021122164913/http://www.right-now.org/articles/rn2702.htm

    In the UK, the old asylums where "simples" or "naturals" once lived are all sold for housing sites, and the mentally challenged have been living "in the community" - where they're exposed to some of the other people who live there. Half a dozen people with "learning disabilities" have been beaten or tortured to death in the last few years.

    http://ukcommentators.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/yet-more-torture-in-community.html


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  68. Gould's vast success at closing minds politically stemmed from his controlling the past. He picked out some scientist that had been dead for over a century to make up nonsense about. In contrast, I wish Gould were around now to defend himself.

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  69. "That's certainly not true in the UK. Tormenting the elderly or the disabled tends to be a native thing, usually by underclass youths. Young black men do kill old people, but generally in street or doorstep robberies."

    This says otherwise.

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  70. I believe that Gould's propensity for being biased extended even into some of his solely biological research. His 1989 paper on the terrestrial gastropod Cerion makes claims that are not supported by the data nor the analysis. Persons with excessive self-regard are most pitiful when their record is reviewed posthumously.

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  71. That's certainly not true in the UK. Tormenting the elderly or the disabled tends to be a native thing, usually by underclass youths. Young black men do kill old people, but generally in street or doorstep robberies.

    I have to agree. There is a long tradition in Anglo-Saxon communities of sending off their elderly, disabled, and neuro atypical to some cornfield or another, for their own protection of course. Ethnic peoples have a little more respect.

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  72. As Jensen said in the end of his interview for Race Intelligence and Genetics, Gould's prejudice probably came from being raised Jewish by communist parents in New York City.

    But who really believes that Gould did not misrepresent this on purpose?

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  73. "As Jensen said in the end of his interview for Race Intelligence and Genetics, Gould's prejudice probably came from being raised Jewish by communist parents in New York City."

    Prolly true. But we have to cut him some slack in regards to his feelings. He was born in 1941, when Germany invaded the USSR and was on the verge of winning.

    Though there's been a lot of respectable pseudo-scientific anti-race-ism since WWII, there was plenty of pseudo-scientific race-ism in the first half of the 20th century, and this sort of thing became the official doctrine of the most powerful nation in Europe and was enforced all over Europe where Nazis gained control. Result? Millions of Jews were massacred.
    So, from that angle, I can understand Gould's emotional than merely ideological allergy to racial ideas.

    He was a fraud but also human.

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  74. "It was also self-consciously stuffed with baseball references as if to say: hey, I am a regular american guy - I like baseball".

    It's also a particularly popular sport with ethnics from the Northeast, especially Jews. He may have been using baseball references to make his text resonate with regular readers, but his love of baseball was probably sincere.

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  75. But who really believes that Gould did not misrepresent this on purpose?

    The apologists are stopping just short of saying he did, but it's okay because of those "angels" (has anyone consulted them?.

    Note how Tattersal assumes Morton as carryng the "baggage" of his era despite that "baggage" having not influenced his science--his errors worked against his thesis (suggesting perhaps a deliberate effort on his part to avoid bias, by trimming the sails of his expectations).

    Tattersal would have you believe Gould and Morton were acting with equal integrity, when in fact the former was essentially lying, and the latter was not.

    I think it reveals Tattersal and his ilk have come to believe that convention--at least the convention of the present, their convention--has empirical value, even as they praise Gould's supposed revelation of that subconscious bias! What Tattersal is saying is "our God is greater than your God".

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