but perhaps I should have explained. He is one of those leftist ideological evolutionary biologists who denies that there is any such thing as human races.
N. N. Taleb blasts him here, after some controversy about the racial make-up of the Roman Empire.
A philosopher of science, Massimo Pigliucci tried to jump in on the Mary Beard debate from twitter comments, not seeing the argument, writing the highest ratio of BS commentary over original text (only a few tweets). Had he understood anything about statistics he would have worried about the high noise signal ratio.Pigliucci gives his side here.
My point is here. His …
I got angry with him because a philosopher should not engage in strawman arguments. It would be bullshitting [clearly in the Franfurt sense of the word]. Yet he did it. My issue with Beard was representativeness: you do don’t mess with people’s perception of the past. He went off about scientism, something I spent my life fighting using probability limits.
Nowhere did Beard claim that the presence of dark skinned individuals was “typical” in Roman Britain. She only stated that there was such presence, period. For that kind of modest claim, and despite Taleb’s disdain for it, “anecdotal” evidence is enough.So I guess that if there was at least one dark skinned Roman, then that justifies a BBC cartoon portraying Romans as dark-skinned.
The larger issue is that Pigliucci is offended by any discussion of the racial make-up of Roman since he does believe that races exist, or that we should talk about them if they do.
If you think Pigliucci is nutty, here is a worse example in Slate:
It was argued to me this week that the Google memo failed to constitute hostile behavior because it cited peer-reviewed articles that suggest women have different brains. The well-known scientist who made this comment to me is both a woman and someone who knows quite well that “peer-reviewed” and “correct” are not interchangeable terms. This brings us to the question that many have grappled with this week. It’s 2017, and to some extent scientific literature still supports a patriarchal view that ranks a man’s intellect above a woman’s. ...So some Europeans a few centuries ago invented "whiteness" and race, but did not invent any objective science. All their science was stolen indigenous peoples. The article sounds like a joke, but it is not.
Most saliently in the context of the Google memo, our scientific educations almost never talk about the invention of whiteness and the invention of race in tandem with the early scientific method which placed a high value on taxonomies — which unsurprisingly and almost certainly not coincidentally supported prevailing social views. The standard history of science that is taught to budding scientists is that during the Enlightenment, Europe went from the dark ages to, well, being enlightened by a more progressive mindset characterized by objective “science.” It is the rare scientific education that includes a simultaneous conversation about the rise of violent, imperialist globalization during the same time period. Very few curricula acknowledge that some European scientific “discoveries” were in fact collations of borrowed indigenous knowledge. And far too many universally call technology progress while failing to acknowledge that it has left us in a dangerously warmed climate. ...
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is a particle physicist, philosopher of science at the University of Washington, and editor in chief of the Offing. Follow her on Twitter.
(I sometimes to post comments on Pigliucci's blog, but he arbitrarily deletes comments he does not like.)