257 Search Results for: race

No Voice at VOX: Sense and Nonsense about Discussing IQ and Race

Sam Harris, a noted commentator, recently had a podcast discussion with Charles Murray about the reaction to the publication of The Bell Curve in 1994. It is an informative, respectful discussion and I urge you to listen to it. Shortly after this podcast, the popular online news site VOX.com, ran a piece with the headline: “Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ—Podcaster and author Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it.” The piece mostly restates old arguments that continue to misrepresent what The Bell Curve actually said about race and genetics. It is based on a selective reading of the research literature and the assertion of facts that are not supported by a weight-of-evidence. There is nothing new or original in the arguments and these arguments have been challenged many times by other experts in the field. Nonetheless, VOX gave new life to the false narrative that Murray is “peddling junk science” about average IQ score differences among racial/ethnic groups being genetic and therefore some groups are genetically inferior. The …

Five Key Debate Moments That Altered the Course of a Presidential Race

Every presidential election year in my American Political Campaigns and Elections course, I get an opportunity to spend a full lecture discussing with students some of the famous moments from historic presidential debates. I explain to students that while the presidential candidate debates are supposed to be about presenting policy alternatives to undecided voters, almost no one pays any attention or remembers what the candidates say about policy. Instead the media covers the debates and voters interpret the debates in a winner and loser format. Which candidate connected to voters the best? Who had the best zinger or inspirational line? Some famous moments in debate history have reinforced the public’s negative perceptions of candidates, while other key moments have helped dispel such notions. Here are five from past presidential debates, chosen for their impact on the election campaign and outcome. 1960: Kennedy-Nixon In 1960, Richard Nixon had served as the Republican vice president for eight years after six years in Congress. Senator John Kennedy had served in Congress for 14 years, but was only 43 …

On the Reality of Race & the Abhorrence of Racism Part II: Human Biodiversity & Its Implications

If you observe the residents of Japan and compare them to residents of the rural southern United States, you’ll note some differences. Some differences will be stark, others less so, yet they will not be isolated to religious and cultural practices. The differences that emerge will bleed into psychological and temperamental traits that also vary in noticeable ways across populations. The reason for the existence of these differences, though, admits of no simple answer. Prevailing wisdom holds that the cultural and psychological differences that exist across human population groups were shaped largely by a confluence of history, sociological forces, and pure chance. This is likely true to some degree, but the prevailing wisdom — from my point of view — is incomplete. In Part I, we argued that human races exist, meaning that humans can be meaningfully classified into coherent groups based on genetic ancestry. If we’re going to take seriously the existence of meaningful racial variation we also have to at least consider that the genetic differences that exist across racial and ethnic groups …

On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism

Most people believe that race exists. They believe that Denzel Washington is an African American, that George Clooney is a Caucasian, and that George Takei is an Asian.* Many intellectuals, however, contend that this belief results from an illusion as dangerous as it is compelling. “Just as the sun appears to orbit the earth”, so too do humans appear to belong to distinct and easily identifiable groups. But, underneath this appearance, the reality of human genetic variation is complicated and inconsistent with standard, socially constructed racial categories. This is often touted as cause for celebration. All humans are really African under the skin; and human diversity, however salient it may appear, is actually remarkably superficial. Therefore racism is based on a misperception of reality and is as untrue as it is deplorable. With appropriate qualifications, however, we will argue that most people are correct: race exists. And although genetic analyses have shown that human variation is complicated, standard racial categories are not arbitrary social constructions. Rather, they correspond to real genetic differences among human populations. …

The Shame and the Disgrace of the Pro-Islamist Left

By supporting fundamentalists, the Left simply chooses one camp in a political struggle without acknowledging it. Maryam Namazie, a trenchant campaigner against religious fundamentalism, made this observation last week during a fraught lecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. It would turn out to be pertinent. Namazie’s appearance at Goldsmiths was causing trouble before the event had even begun. The day before the event, the university’s Islamic Society (ISOC) let it be known that they considered Namazie to be a “renowned Islamophobe” whose presence on campus would cause ISOC members to feel “extremely uncomfortable,” and constitute a violation of their “safe space.” Such a reaction was tiresome but unsurprising. Goldsmiths’ ISOC is, after all, an Islamist-led organization, dominated by people who hold precisely the kind of beliefs Namazie spends her days attacking. When expressions of Islamist self-pity failed to get her disinvited, ISOC members resorted to childish disruption of the talk itself, giggling, talking, heckling, and interfering with her power-point as she tried to speak. The video of the event (which can be seen here) makes …

The Skeptical Optimist: Interview with Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is the founder of The Skeptics Society, and its associated magazine Skeptic. He is a science writer with a monthly column in Scientific American and the author of many books including The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom, and, most recently, Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia. I contacted Dr Shermer for an interview with Quillette: what follows is a transcript of our conversation, conducted via email.  *   *   * Q: Thank you for taking the time to talk to Quillette. You recently published Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, can you briefly describe what your new book is about, and the research you did for it? Michael Shermer: Since I just finished my book tour I can now do this while standing on one foot! Here are some take-home points: It’s a myth that people live twice as long today as in centuries past. People lived into their 80s and 90s historically, just not very many of them. What modern science, technology, medicine, and public health have done …

The Evergreen Meltdown

A case report will often describe a condition that is an extreme or unusual version of what one might typically observe. In medicine, it can be used to illustrate and explore disease mechanisms and the underlying pathology of more common manifestations of an illness. What has transpired and continues to transpire at The Evergreen State College where I teach provides some important lessons. My college is now famous for its intense student protests, the bizarre ousting of biology professor Bret Weinstein, and the absence of public support for Weinstein from faculty and a college president who thinks he might be a white supremacist. But these are only clinical symptoms of a much deeper disorder that had been growing at Evergreen for some time, and is only at its early stages in many universities across the country. Evergreen’s prognosis is guarded at best, but it might explain what ails higher education in general. Earlier this month, in his annual State of the College address, President George Bridges announced that next year’s projected enrollment for Evergreen will …