Sunday, July 04, 2004

Racist Quackery and Anonymous Cowardice

Ah, the joys of the Internet! There's nothing quite as amusing as taking apart contemptible cowards who love to dish it out but can't take their own medicine. When one makes it one's full-time occupation to perpetuate ridiculous, logically-addled and poorly-sourced quackery about the supposedly innate savagery and stupidity of entire races, the least one ought to be able to display is a thick skin about the criticisms that might come one's way. When one takes it upon oneself to pose as a fearless fighter for truth in the face of the evil politically-correct egalitarian hordes, it really isn't asking too much that one sign one's name to what one has to say, much less permit critical responses from those who don't find one's pose quite so daring. When one takes to calling oneself a "race realist" and/or a "scientific racist", it really doesn't do to get upset when others call one a racist as well, and when one insists on one's statistical expertise but fails to display an understanding of the possible consequences of multicollinearity, or even that correlation and causation aren't one and the same thing, it ought to come as no surprise to one that one gets called a charlatan.

In all of the above, I am speaking, of course, of that oh so brave yet lonely voice on behalf of politically incorrect "truths" who is known to the world as "Godlesscapitalist." Stung to the quick by one too many of my dissections of his illogical rantings about innate black inferiority and the imaginary nature of racism in modern America, this gutsy fighter for truth, who can think of no better way to display his courage than to hide behind a pseudonym, has now decided that he ought to be able to dish out all the pseudoscientific claptrap he pleases on his blog without having to deal with excessively penetrating criticisms from the likes of myself; no, what he wants is an audience so pre-disposed to swallow his rubbish whole, and so lacking in critical facilities as to be unable to even discern that it's being fed rubbish, that the only response that will ring from the crowd is one of uninterrupted praise and hosannahs to his unique genius. Thus does one prove to the world the depths of one's courage!

The sad thing about this whole business is that human genetics is an intrinsically interesting field with plenty of fascinating and important questions that are well worth asking, but unfortunately racial obsessives like "Godlesscapitalist" (whoever (s)he may really be) are so strongly compelled to focus on "racial" differences, however slight, that they are entirely unable to follow up any of these much more promising avenues of inquiry. P.Z. Myers and the rest of the folks who contribute to the Panda's Thumb show with great flair just how useful weblogs can be in imparting knowledge of the wonders of biology without pandering to base prejudices or simplifying excessively, and it is all the more the pity that no one is currently doing the same for human genetics: instead we have to make do with hoary propagandistic rants about race, intelligence and sex drive that wouldn't have been out of place in 1930s Nazi textbooks on "Rassenhygiene", inevitably accompanied by much macho chestbeating about how bold and fearless the anonymous racist coward issuing such rants supposedly is. There's a difference between what real scientists get up to and what quacks who'd like to pass themselves off as scientists occupy themselves with, and that is what makes the difference between a scientific class act like Professor Myers and a cowardly crackpot like "Godlesscapitalist."

This anonymous quack has made a big fuss about how the HapMap project will vindicate once and for all the completely unsubstantiated claims he's been making forever about the innate, genetic nature of the differences in mental abilities and proclivities between races, and I for one can hardly wait to see what he has to say in the coming months on this issue. My impatience isn't due to any high expectations I have of what will issue from his quarter, but stems from an eagerness to see how many of the errors in reasoning from the list I've drawn up in advance will actually end up appearing in his posts! I'm betting at least 70 percent will show up, and more likely 90 percent, with even a few I haven't yet thought of thrown in for good measure.