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  #1  
Old 04-23-2017, 05:21 AM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Interesting podcast conversation between Sam Harris and Charles Murray (of "Bell Curve" fame)

Or, many might say, of Bell Curve "infamy". But it sounds like he's gotten a raw deal.

I'd be interested in discussing this podcast, but I would ask that you actually listen to it in its entirety before weighing in. If you listen at 1.5x speed like I do (though you'd have to use a podcatcher of some sort to do that, or wait a few days until Sam puts it up on YouTube), it's only an hour and a half of your time.

In case anyone's wondering why I posted this in the Pit: the title of the episode is "Forbidden Knowledge", and that kind of says it all. Sam said he thinks The Bell Curve was the most controversial book of the past half-century, and as they dig increasingly into its contents, he talks about "beginning to pull out the control rods" and so on.
  #2  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:10 AM
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I somehow doubt you're getting many takers on a podcast that's over two hours long featuring a guy talking about his signature achievement, a book which acts like racism is black people's fault.
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:16 AM
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EDIT: stupid software

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Old 04-23-2017, 07:36 AM
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I can't imagine two people I'd rather listen to less on the subject of poverty, class, and race than those two. If Murray is ever interviewed by someone who isn't a bigoted autodidact on matters of sociology, then I'll listen.

I recommend a book of essays called Racecraft, which discusses Murray and the idea of forbidden knowledge.

Last edited by Richard Parker; 04-23-2017 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:09 AM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.
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Old 04-23-2017, 08:51 AM
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Doesn't make them wrong though.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:03 AM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.
You're asking for quite a commitment. If there was a transcript, then I might take the time to read it, or at least take a look... but 90 minutes or more of listening? For a guy made famous by promoting "blacks are inherently intellectually inferior" and one of the kings of Islam broad-brushing attacks? No thanks.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 04-23-2017 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:04 AM
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The OP will bring America together in not wanting to hear these two guys talk.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:28 AM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.
You're going to have a lot of nothing to say then, amigo.
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Old 04-23-2017, 09:51 AM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.
In what universe does this even qualify as a thread? Is it good enough for me to say, "Here's this youtube documentary about Chemtrails by Mike Adams I'd like everyone to talk about. Please watch it, it's only five hours long and almost certainly contains a massive load of bullshit, tell me what you think!"? Is that a good thread starter?
  #11  
Old 04-23-2017, 11:22 AM
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Arguement by Podcast is no better than Argument by Youtube. This goes into the pile with all the Truthers and Birthers who insisted we watch the latest 3-1/2 hour conspiracy video without any commentary of their own.
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:57 AM
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I did skim and checked some bits of that podcast.

In essence, his naiveness shows by thinking erroneusly that he was essentially exonerated in academia. And no, while intelligence can be inherited (as he wants to pretend that it was the main reason of many disagreeing with him) the point from most experts is that it does happens in all "races". And latest evidence about brain plasticity and other issues show that there is a lot of environmental and nurturing factors that are giving us what we see, we are are more than just genes.

There is also a lot of talk in the podcast about the recent mistreatment Murray got at a university he was making a speech. Even I do agree that any student that put a hand on him should be expelled or suspended, but then a typically fascist side seen on many scientific racists shows up when he demanded in the podcast that all students that did protest by showing their backs and chanting against him should also be suspended or expelled.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/u...e-protest.html

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Old 04-23-2017, 12:25 PM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.

Go away, kid.

For those of us who read that fish-brained, bigoted pile of pseudoscience the first time around, and the many pieces debunking it, and listened to all the debates surrounding it, and had a right to think we'd put it behind us, listening to Charles Murray cry about it today is not necessary or helpful. He declined to have the trash peer-reviewed before publication, which would have prevented his well-earned opprobrium.

In fact, I resent the attempt to re-litigate 20 year old discredited racist tropes for the benefit of any snot-nosed Derbyshire wannabe who thinks it's a clever argumentative tactic to take discussions of race in America back to first principles.

What else you got in your kit bag to peddle? A copy of Bilbo's Separation or Mongrelization, some passages of which sound quite reasonable and maybe the late Senator got a bad rap?

Go away.

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Old 04-23-2017, 01:36 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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The OP will bring America together in not wanting to hear these two guys talk.
Sam's podcast has been as high as #4 in the iTunes rankings (and that was pretty recently: Feb. 2017).
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Old 04-23-2017, 01:51 PM
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Sam's podcast has been as high as #4 in the iTunes rankings (and that was pretty recently: Feb. 2017).
AFAICS, Sam Harris has given time to him because his first amendment rights and well being were threatened. Mind you, I think Sam should not had done so for the pedantic reason that the college had prepared to make an interview regardless if there was a hecklers veto. His interview and speech was in any case made, so giving him more of an audience was dumb IMHO.
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:06 PM
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:20 PM
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Go away, kid.

For those of us who read that fish-brained, bigoted pile of pseudoscience the first time around, and the many pieces debunking it, and listened to all the debates surrounding it, and had a right to think we'd put it behind us, listening to Charles Murray cry about it today is not necessary or helpful. He declined to have the trash peer-reviewed before publication, which would have prevented his well-earned opprobrium.

In fact, I resent the attempt to re-litigate 20 year old discredited racist tropes for the benefit of any snot-nosed Derbyshire wannabe who thinks it's a clever argumentative tactic to take discussions of race in America back to first principles.

What else you got in your kit bag to peddle? A copy of Bilbo's Separation or Mongrelization, some passages of which sound quite reasonable and maybe the late Senator got a bad rap?

Go away.
Bolding mine. Fucking cosigned. Murray belongs in the same category as Andrew Wakefield and Peter Duesburg - absolutely terrible pseudoscientists whose main, horribly flawed or dishonest work resulted in the world being a substantially worse place. The fact that he got attacked for going to a university should not by any stretch of the imagination be an excuse to give them more exposure. It should be seen as a reason to ask, "what the fuck is wrong with this university?!"
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:22 PM
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What else you got in your kit bag to peddle? A copy of Bilbo's Separation or Mongrelization, some passages of which sound quite reasonable and maybe the late Senator got a bad rap?
It took me a few seconds to realize you weren't talking about the hobbit.
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Old 04-23-2017, 03:44 PM
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I have nothing to say to anyone who refuses to listen to the episode and instead just spouts boilerplate ad hominem. If that means crickets, so be it.
Stop being a dictator. You want to discuss something, you bring up what it is you want to discuss. That's how this board works. You don't get to say "click this link." That gets threads closed.

There is no ad hominem here, as you have not brought up any sort of argument. We're simply pointing out that this guy is a racist, and thus we have no interest in listening to him.

The thing about the freedom of speech issue is that, while you have the right to speak, you can't demand that people listen to you.

Maybe you want to listen. I don't. I would think you'd sympathize, with you saying you were going to not listen to Trump (something I also do).

If you want to talk about some of what he said, then actually bring forth an argument about what he said. Just like people do when they discuss shitty things Trump has said.

Last edited by BigT; 04-23-2017 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:25 PM
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I don't go into a thread about a Trump speech and insist that although I refuse to watch the speech, I will mouth off about it anyway.

And how is it okay to say "I just saw an interesting movie on a controversial topic--let's discuss" but not to do the same with a podcast? In this case you don't need to shell out $20 or more, hire a babysitter, etc. You can just click the link I helpfully provided, and listen while you wash dishes​ or drive to work.

Or you can just pass on the podcast...and the thread. I'm not making anyone do anything.

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AFAICS, Sam Harris has given time to him because his first amendment rights and well being were threatened.
He mentioned that early on, but then they went into an extensive discussion of science. Sam's main counterpoint was not "your data/methodology/conclusions are flawed", but (paraphrased) "what good does it do society to shine a light on these facts?", which is a valid question/objection to explore.
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Old 04-23-2017, 05:48 PM
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Sam's main counterpoint was not "your data/methodology/conclusions are flawed", but (paraphrased) "what good does it do society to shine a light on these facts?", which is a valid question/objection to explore.
Here, I'll make you smarter than Sam Harris on this subject in five paragraphs or less.

The idea of a black race including humans with widely varying ancestries and ethnicity does not come from the study of biology. It was invented by slavers in America. They wanted to justify treating transatlantic slaves differently from indentured servants from Europe. This imagined "race" of humans was held to be inherently unintelligent, and therefore could rightly be treated differently.

Is it just a big coincidence that Murray's speculation about genetic differences just so happens to map onto both the categories of humans and their inferiorities invented by nineteenth-century slavers? Perhaps, in this galactic coincidence, the slavers' self-serving creation of a black race just so happened to align with an underyling difference in the propensity to have genes associated with intelligence? No, it's not a coincidence.

We know it's not a coincidence because the only reason to investigate genetic differences on the level of race is to support racism. Classification of humans into a handful of races based (very) loosely on continental origin of ancestors isn't an especially useful classification regime if you want to understand or predict the distribution of non-superficial heritable traits. There's too much genetic diversity within those categories, and in any event, they don't actually map onto any proper measure of genetic distance. If you had a dial you could turn where 0 was all humans and 10 was immediate families, going smoothly from least to closest genetic relationship, at no point on the dial would you find a set of populations groups that includes the categories invented by slavers.

Despite this fundamental disconnect between genetics and the idea of races, some like Murray continue to insist that investigation of population genetics at the level of racial categories is useful. They argue that if there are differences in gene propensity between self-identified racial groups, then these differences justify the usefulness of racial categories as an analytical tool and justify the search for additional differences in propensity. But the results of such racial analysis are only meaningful if you start with the premise that racial categories are not arbitrary. Accordingly, guys like Murray assert that there are observed differences at the level of race that demand explanation at the racial level. But the obvious cause of differences at the level of race is that race was the creation of racism. It was and continues to be a category of classification explicitly created to keep people in bondage. Identifying the results of that bondage as evidence of some underlying difference is a monstrous instance of reverse causation.

The reason few real scientists are interested in research on racial genetic differences is that it's not especially interesting discover a difference in gene propensity between arbitrary categories invented by slavers. If a scientist discovered that people named Jerry were more likely to get testicular cancer, it would not be heralded as a scientific revolution. It would be regarded as the discovery of statistical difference between arbitrary groups that doesn't tell us about why one arbitrary set contains more people with that gene. The same is true for investigation of racial difference. Even when you discover some difference, like propensity to have sickle cell genes, all you've discovered is that different arbitrary sets contain different sub-populations of people. It is at most a crude step toward discovering the actual underlying cause (in that example, ancestry among people afflicted by malaria). There's no particular reason to start at the crude step. Except, of course, if your goal is to support policies to oppress black people (or guys named Jerry), then that level of analysis makes perfect sense. And so it is with guys like Murray. If you want to rail against affirmative action, you have to analyze people at the level of race.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:03 PM
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Here, I'll make you smarter than Sam Harris on this subject in five paragraphs or less.
Addressed on the podcast, and a perfect illustration of why I am not interested in engaging with anyone who doesn't listen to it. The discussion there is already in response to what you said here. If you had specific rebuttals to those responses , that would be contributing something new and interesting.

But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
  #23  
Old 04-23-2017, 06:07 PM
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Addressed on the podcast, and a perfect illustration of why I am not interested in engaging with anyone who doesn't listen to it. The discussion there is already in response to what you said here. If you had specific rebuttals to those responses , that would be contributing something new and interesting.

But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
Seems to me that you do not know how to respond to him, even if you claim that you did hear the podcast. That figures.

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Old 04-23-2017, 06:07 PM
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Addressed on the podcast, and a perfect illustration of why I am not interested in engaging with anyone who doesn't listen to it. The discussion there is already in response to what you said here. If you had specific rebuttals to those responses , that would be contributing something new and interesting.

But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
If witchcraft is make believe then the Salem witch trials never happened. Got it.
  #25  
Old 04-23-2017, 06:12 PM
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But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
Can I nominate this for the Dumbest Thing Written By A Doper On The Dope 2017 contest?
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:17 PM
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The Salem witch trials analogy sounds clever at first blush, I grant you. But it doesn't hold up. What are the corresponding analogues for BLM, the CBC, the NAACP, or affirmative action?
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:18 PM
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But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
This is a phenomenally stupid thing to say. If you'd like me to explain it, I'd be happy to, but I think you should be able to figure it out on your own.

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Old 04-23-2017, 06:20 PM
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The Salem witch trials analogy sounds clever at first blush, I grant you. But it doesn't hold up. What are the corresponding analogues for BLM, the CBC, the NAACP, or affirmative action?
What's to explain? Slavers created a category to classify and oppress people. It worked really well. We had chattel slavery for hundreds of years, and related oppression a hundred years after. People fighting that oppression are, often, the victims of it. They are all too often defined by it. That doesn't make the category not arbitrary ab initio or suggest some underlying genetic basis for it.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:21 PM
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Is this the best discussion that The Straight Dope can do about this topic?

There are two thoughtful people discussing an important topic, and both have opinions that are within mainstream of the science in the field. (Murray says that intelligence is determined partly by genetics and partly by the environment, same as most other researchers.)

Taking longer than we thought, indeed.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:22 PM
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Can I nominate this for the Dumbest Thing Written By A Doper On The Dope 2017 contest?
I assume you limited the nominees to 2017 because you don't want your claim that you called the election (you were for it before you were against it, LOL) from 2016 to be in the running?
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:36 PM
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What's to explain? Slavers created a category to classify and oppress people. It worked really well. We had chattel slavery for hundreds of years, and related oppression a hundred years after. People fighting that oppression are, often, the victims of it. They are all too often defined by it. That doesn't make the category not arbitrary ab initio or suggest some underlying genetic basis for it.
So let's be clear: you presumably believe women and GLBTQ+ people are victims of discrimination based on actual innate, inborn characteristics, but black people are just a make-believe category? You must therefore think it's perfectly valid for Rachel Dolezal to identify as black? Just as valid as for Barack Obama to do so, anyway. Right?

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Is this the best discussion that The Straight Dope can do about this topic?

There are two thoughtful people discussing an important topic, and both have opinions that are within mainstream of the science in the field. (Murray says that intelligence is determined partly by genetics and partly by the environment, same as most other researchers.)

Taking longer than we thought, indeed.
Hear, hear.

Last edited by SlackerInc; 04-23-2017 at 06:37 PM.
  #32  
Old 04-23-2017, 06:39 PM
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So let's be clear: you presumably believe women and GLBTQ+ people are victims of discrimination based on actual innate, inborn characteristics, but black people are just a make-believe category? You must then think it's perfectly valid for Rachel Dolezal to identify as black, then? Just as valid as for Barack Obama to do so, anyway. Right?
My God you're being dense. Race is no more valid a biological or genetic concept than national origin. That doesn't mean that it's not a real sociological and historical concept. There are no biological races. There are indeed sociological races, which have changed many, many times (and probably are still changing). Racism isn't based on biology -- it's based on sociological categorization that was invented and utilized mainly to justify various forms of oppression.

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  #33  
Old 04-23-2017, 06:39 PM
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Is this the best discussion that The Straight Dope can do about this topic?

There are two thoughtful people
lolno

nothing "thoughtful" about Sam Harris, who willfully refuses to bother to understand an entire discipline of human knowledge because it conflicts with his "I'm so smart I can figure it out all on my own"-derived prejudices

or Charles Murray, who apparently has never taken an anthropology class in his life

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discussing an important topic
Israel is an important topic, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to feel compelled to hear what Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford have to say on the matter.

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and both have opinions that are within mainstream of the science in the field. (Murray says that intelligence is determined partly by genetics and partly by the environment, same as most other researchers.)
lolno

that's like saying that David Irving's opinions are within the mainstream of Holocaust scholarship because he acknowledges that there were a shitton of dead Jews.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:40 PM
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Smart Person: "Nations are entities that have manmade boundaries with no basis in geology."

Dumb Person: "That's stoopit. You must think nationalism doesn't exist either."

Smart Person: "I can't even."
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:45 PM
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So let's be clear: you presumably believe women and GLBTQ+ people are victims of discrimination based on actual innate, inborn characteristics, but black people are just a make-believe category? You must therefore think it's perfectly valid for Rachel Dolezal to identify as black? Just as valid as for Barack Obama to do so, anyway. Right?.
No. None of that follows. Racial classification is something imposed upon you, for most people, based on customary superficial characteristics (some genetic), known family, and cultural practices. Some people don't get readily classified. How they self-identify then depends on any number of individual circumstances. Americans treat Barack Obama as black before he opens his mouth. That makes him black. People treat Rachel Dolezal as white before she identifies otherwise. That's the main difference, for sociological purposes.

None of that affects the question of whether racial classification is based on convenience to dead Virginians as opposed to some biological truth about genetic clustering. It's the former, not the latter.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:48 PM
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My God you're being dense. Race is no more valid a biological or genetic concept than national origin. That doesn't mean that it's not a real sociological and historical concept. There are no biological races. There are indeed sociological races, which have changed many, many times (and probably are still changing). Racism isn't based on biology -- it's based on sociological categorization that was invented and utilized mainly to justify various forms of oppression.
I'll be "dense" like Steven Pinker and Sam Harris every day of the week, and twice on Tuesdays, before being "smart" like iiandyiiii. Thanks all the same.

And with that, I am done--unless and until someone wants to discuss the actual content of the podcast.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:48 PM
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OP, EVEN IF the interview has something new and interesting to say (which you have made no effort to confirm), under what circumstances would YOU take an hour and a half of your precious time to discuss something on a message board that's already been discussed hundreds of times already? Why can't you just tell us the innovative arguments that haven't already been hashed over in previous threads about this subject?
  #38  
Old 04-23-2017, 06:49 PM
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I'll be "dense" like Steven Pinker and Sam Harris every day of the week, and twice on Tuesdays, before being "smart" like iiandyiiii. Thanks all the same.

And with that, I am done--unless and until someone wants to discuss the actual content of the podcast.
What did I say that you disagree with or don't understand? Or for that matter, what did I say that Pinker or Harris disagree with?
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:50 PM
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Smart Person: "Nations are entities that have manmade boundaries with no basis in geology."

Dumb Person: "That's stoopit. You must think nationalism doesn't exist either."

Smart Person: "I can't even."
Well put.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:55 PM
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He mentioned that early on, but then they went into an extensive discussion of science. Sam's main counterpoint was not "your data/methodology/conclusions are flawed", but (paraphrased) "what good does it do society to shine a light on these facts?", which is a valid question/objection to explore.
Well, it's good that they didn't clutter up a science discussion with data or methodology or any of that stuff!
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:04 PM
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But I will just point out that if race is make-believe, the same must needs be true of racism. You can't have it both ways.
Belief in make-believe things aren't harmful? So If I believe...bananas cures cancer (something's that's clearly flat-out WRONG), it cannot cause harm?!? What a crock of shit.

Christ. Racists can both be WRONG and virulent.

Last edited by orcenio; 04-23-2017 at 07:07 PM.
  #42  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:05 PM
SlackerInc SlackerInc is offline
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Or for that matter, what did I say that Pinker or Harris disagree with?
Sigh. I can't help myself. "Someone is wrong on the internet!"

https://twitter.com/sapinker/status/746710280684601348?
Quote:
To oppose racism, you don't have to say "races don't exist"- Bad idea to depend on this dubious empirical claim.
https://www.samharris.org/site/full_...itorial-policy
Quote:
I had discovered in the intervening years that many people erroneously believe that “race” and “ethnicity” are synonymous. But race is primarily a biological concept, while ethnicity is a cultural one—capturing things as diverse as religion, nationality, language, dress, social customs, and food preferences.
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Well, it's good that they didn't clutter up a science discussion with data or methodology or any of that stuff!
They did extensively discuss those things. But they were not what Sam took issue with. Jesus, just listen, for chrissakes!
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Old 04-23-2017, 07:07 PM
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Belief in make-believe things aren't harmful? So If I believe...bananas cures cancer (something's that's clearly flat-out WRONG), it cannot cause harm?!? What a crock of shit.

Christ. Racists can both be WRONG and cause harm.
Then "whiteness" and "white privilege" cannot be real.
  #44  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:08 PM
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Sam Harris is just plain incorrect on race being "primarily a biological concept". The Pinker quote doesn't dispute anything I said. I never said "races don't exist" -- I said they were mainly a sociological concept (especially races as commonly discussed -- black, white, etc.), not a biological or genetic one.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 04-23-2017 at 07:09 PM.
  #45  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:09 PM
Beren Erchamion Beren Erchamion is offline
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Sam Harris = willfully-uninformed moron CONFIRMED.
  #46  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:10 PM
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Then "whiteness" and "white privilege" cannot be real.
Those are also sociological/historical, not biological phenomena.
  #47  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:20 PM
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If I had a podcast or show, I probably wouldn't choose to interview advocates of the inherent intellectual inferiority of black people explanation for various achievement and test score gaps (also known as the "blacks are dumber" hypothesis, or the "the slavers were right" hypothesis, etc.). But if I did interview Charles Murray, I'd ask him the following questions:

Why didn't you submit The Bell Curve for peer review?

Why didn't you include discussion of studies and research with is directly contrary to this hypothesis?

Do you think it's coincidence that the worst-performing groups for test scores and various achievement statistics in the US are the two groups that have been treated by far the most abominably in American history (black people and Native Americans), or does that centuries of abominable treatment have something to do with these statistics and gaps?

Are you really willing to accept a conclusion that matches those reached by pseudo-scientific slavery-justifiers of past centuries about inherent intellectual ability, with absolutely zero information about what genes and gene sets are responsible for high and low intelligence, and how prevalent those genes and gene sets are in various population groups? If so, why?

If Sam Harris asked these questions to Charles Murray, I will gladly listen to the podcast at my first opportunity. If he didn't, then that reflects very poorly on Mr. Harris. I think Harris is brilliant in many ways, but he's also blind in many ways -- probably not coincidentally, a lot of those ways are quite common for very successful straight white males.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 04-23-2017 at 07:24 PM.
  #48  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:26 PM
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Sam Harris is just plain incorrect on race being "primarily a biological concept".
Sam is the most impressive polymath of the modern world (Pinker is up there too). You're a dude on a message board who didn't even believe me when I told him his view differed with Sam's. I know who I'm going to take more seriously--sorry, bud.

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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
The Pinker quote doesn't dispute anything I said. I never said "races don't exist" -- I said they were mainly a sociological concept (especially races as commonly discussed -- black, white, etc.), not a biological or genetic one.
Then how about this Pinker quote, from his Pulitzer-nominated (and awesome) book The Blank Slate?

Quote:
Nowadays it is popular to say that races do not exist but are purely social constructions. Though that is certainly true of bureaucratic pigeonholes such as “colored,” “Hispanic,” “Asian/Pacific Islander,” and the one-drop rule for being “black,” it is an overstatement when it comes to human differences in general. The biological anthropologist Vincent Sarich points out that a race is just a very large and partly inbred family. Some racial distinctions thus may have a degree of biological reality, even though they are not exact boundaries between fixed categories. Humans, having recently evolved from a single founder population, are all related, but Europeans, having mostly bred with other Europeans for millennia, are on average more closely related to other Europeans than they are to Africans or Asians, and vice versa. Because oceans, deserts, and mountain ranges have prevented people from choosing mates at random in the past, the large inbred families we call races are still discernible, each with a somewhat different distribution of gene frequencies. In theory, some of the varying genes could affect personality or intelligence (though any such differences would at most apply to averages, with vast overlap between the group members).
For good measure, let's throw in some Richard Dawkins, from his book The Ancestors' Tale:

Quote:
It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species and then partition it into a between-race component and a within-race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them. Only a small admixture of extra variation distinguishes races from each other. That is all correct. What is not correct is the inferene that race is therefore a meaningless concept. This point has been clearly made by the distinguished Cambridge geneticist A.W.F. Edwards in a recent paper “Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy.” R.C. Lewontin is an equally distinguished Cambridge (Mass.) geneticist, known for the strength of his political convictions and his weakness for dragging them into science at every possibile opportunity. Lewontin’s view of race has become near-universal orthodoxy in scientific circles. He wrote, in a famous paper of 1972:

Quote:
It is clear that our perception of relatively large differences between human races and subgroups, as compared to the variation within these groups, is indeed a biased perception and that, based on randomly chosen genetic differences, human races and populations are remarkably similar to each other, with the largest part by far of human variation being accounted for by the differences between individuals
This is, of course, exactly the point I accepted above, not surprisingly since what I wrote was largely based on Lewontin. But see how Lewontin goes on:

Quote:
Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. Since such racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxnomic significance either, no justification can be offered for its continuance.
We can all happily agree that human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. That is one reason why I object to ticking boxes on forms and why I object to positive discrimination in job selection. But that doesn’t mean that race is of “virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance.” This is Edwards’s point, and he reasons as follows. However small the racial partition of total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are highly correlated with other racial characteristics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance.
  #49  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:34 PM
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Sam is the most impressive polymath of the modern world (Pinker is up there too). You're a dude on a message board who didn't even believe me when I told him his view differed with Sam's. I know who I'm going to take more seriously--sorry, bud.
Where did I say I didn't believe you? Is asking a question disbelief? I just wanted to know. Thanks for answering.

I'm sure Harris would love you to believe that he's "the most impressive polymath of the modern world". I'm not so inclined to buy into that, especially if he says something as dumb as race is "primarily a biological concept". Doesn't make him stupid, but I think he's probably not as smart as he thinks he is (a very common flaw in very successful people -- especially very successful straight white males).

Quote:
Then how about this Pinker quote, from his Pulitzer-nominated (and awesome) book The Blank Slate?
Pinker's also a brilliant guy who nonetheless gets things wrong sometimes (and I liked the Blank Slate a lot). And this quote doesn't really disagree with anything I said. Race is primarily sociological, and not primarily biological. Skin color has some genetic basis, and race has some correlation with skin color. But there are many groups with dark skin who are not closely related, but nonetheless have been lumped together in the same racial groups (and other such inconsistencies based on the whims and convenience of racists). In that sense, and in a way that is wholly consistent with this Pinker quote, race is primarily a sociological and not a biological concept.

Quote:
For good measure, let's throw in some Richard Dawkins, from his book The Ancestors' Tale:
Another smart guy and a good book, and a guy who gets things wrong sometimes (notoriously stuff that has to do with women and rape culture). And another quote that doesn't disagree with the fact that race is primarily based on things other than biology and genetics.

This part of Dawkins' quote is the most important: "It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species and then partition it into a between-race component and a within-race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them." (bolding mine)

That's what I'm saying, and that's what Harris gets wrong.

So which is it? Is Harris correct, or Dawkins? Those quotes are in direct contradiction with each other.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 04-23-2017 at 07:35 PM.
  #50  
Old 04-23-2017, 07:34 PM
Beren Erchamion Beren Erchamion is offline
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Sam is the most impressive polymath of the modern world (Pinker is up there too).
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Ooooh, that's a good one! You really made my day, thanks. Got any more?
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