Monday, October 21, 2019

Indian books on Superior and Inferior

I enjoy John Horgan's SciAm columns, especially when he expresses skepticism for fad scientific work. For example, he appears to be winning a bet that no Nobel Prize will be awarded for string theory.

He has his share of goofy ideas, such as his belief in abolishing war.

His latest column is a rant against scientific work on human races, as all such work is inherently racist
But no, he was condemning Watson’s critics, whom he saw as cowards attacking a courageous truth-teller. I wish I could say I was shocked by my host’s rant, but I have had many encounters like this over the decades. Just as scientists and other intellectuals often reveal in private that they believe in the paranormal, so many disclose that they believe in the innate inferiority of certain groups. ...

I once suggested that, given the harm done by research on alleged cognitive differences between races, it should be banned. I stand by that proposal. I also agree with Saini that online media firms should do more to curb the dissemination of racist pseudoscience. “This is not a free speech issue,”
Really? Scientists and intellectuals often reveal in private that they believe in the paranormal? I doubt that.

My guess is that he is just using "paranormal" as a word to cover beliefs he does not recognize.

I am no expert in race research, but there is a lot of it, and I cannot believe it is all bogus.
I read Superior: The Return of Race Science by British journalist Angela Saini (who is coming to my school Nov. 4, see Postscript). Superior is a thoroughly researched, brilliantly written and deeply disturbing book. It is an apt follow-up to Saini’s previous book, Inferior, which explores sexism in science (and which I wrote about here and here). Saini calls “intellectual racism” the “toxic little seed at the heart of academia. However dead you might think it is, it needs only a little water, and now it’s raining.”
British? She has Indian parents, and India is famous for its racial/caste divisions. And its sexism too, for that matter.

Her books are mostly politics, not science. The favorable reviews just show how science has been corrupted. Here is how she writes:
If anything, the public debate around race and science has sunk into the mud. To state even the undeniable fact that we are one human species today means falling afoul of a cabal of conspiracy theorists. The “race realists,” as they call themselves online, join the growing ranks of climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers in insisting that science is under the yoke of some grand master plan designed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. In their case, a left-wing plot to promote racial equality when, as far as they’re concerned, racial equality is impossible for biological reasons.

How did we get here? How did society manage to create so much room for those who genuinely believe that entire nations have innately higher or lower cognitive capacities,
Maybe because some nations have achieved much more than other nations?
What has started with a gentle creep through the back door of our computers could end, if we’re not careful, with jackboots through the front door of our homes. Populism, ethnic nationalism and neo-Nazism are on the rise worldwide.
No, this is just leftist paranoia. Neo-Nazism does not even exist, as far as I know.


  1. Dear Roger,

    Looks like you don't have an issue with *any* Indian/Hindu author born in a *Brahmin* caste.


    But you have repeatedly spoken about Ms. Saini. Why?

    Ms. Saini, in case you don't know, was not---it would be a ``kshatriya'' (often dismissed by Brahmin caste-borns in your country as ``Satraps''---etymologically, the second being a distorted form (``apbraunsh'') of the first.

    But *they* *(most) always* love to do that, anyway. [If you ran into an exception, know that he was better than your average Christian American.]

    And, yes, in my view, Ms. Saini is a Brit. Make what you wish to, out of that fact, anyway. [I'm sure it won't be much. But do tell your ``handlers'' to look a bit into rich Brahmins in your country as well.]

    Sincerely, and [really] wishing you best,

    [PS: This is not a defence of hers. I would be happy to let her die with her contradictions, if any; though, my upbringing would urge me to try to correct her too; though, the list by now has become too big for me to correct.]

  2. I have no idea about the caste of Saini or any other Indian.