SocraticGadfly: Is Michael Shermer a racialist?

November 21, 2010

Is Michael Shermer a racialist?

Years ago, the editor of Skeptic magazine had made it clear through his blogging that he was a thoroughgoing, and thoroughly nonskeptical, economic libertarian when it came to matters of government regulation, economics, economics and allegedly rational human behavior, etc.

So, I stopped reading Skepticblog.

Well, recently, out of boredom, an expansion again of my skeptical horizons and other things, I started reading again. And, there is a lot of good stuff.

But, Shermer's at it again, with a hugely unskeptical lovefest for Bjorn Lomborg's newbook and movie.

The main thrust of the blog post is bad enough.

But, here's what caught my eye:
My own Senior Editor, Frank Miele, who is an expert on evolutionary biology and biodiversity (and is one of the fastest and most facile researchers I’ve ever known), challenged Lomborg on several of the chapters in his book, and we had a lively and successful debate.

That would be the same Frank Miele who is coauthor of the book "Race," about which I blogged when it came out as being "Bell Curve light."

A few comments from that blog post:
Pages 9-10 have a laughably racist “genetic” rather than sociological assumption of evidence for various types of athletic prowess. (I await every new world-class African swimmer or hockey player to refute "athetics of the gaps" thoughts like this.)

More seriously, here's a sociological counterexample. Chinese children, and adults, are known from research to have an above-average percentage of musical perfect pitch. Genes?

And, the piece de resistance on page 10 — the “mean sub-Saharan African IQ of 70.” All together, now, can we say Bell Curve? (See below.)

Add to this the fact that Miele and his co-author think blacks are "stuck with being stupid:
239: “No one has demonstrated a method of compensatory education that produces relatively permanent increases in mental ability, as opposed to learning how to answer specific test items correctly.”

Five years ago, Miele held the same position vis-a-vis Shermer that he does today: Senior editor at Skeptic magazine.

"Race" was never questioned, let alone dismantled, in that magazine's pages.

Since Miele is clearly a racialist (and his racialist co-author of "Race," Vincent Sarich, is on Skeptic's editorial board to boot), and maybe even a full-blown racist for all I know, how can we assume any different of Shermer?

Update, Dec. 20, 2010: Looks like Shermer, Miele and Sarich need to do some reading about group intelligence, too.


Kristjan Wager said...

Shermer has never impressed me. His arguments always seems to boil down to: "I was once stupid enough to believe in X, but I don't any longer, so you can trust my skeptical skills on the issue of X", where X is the subject of hand.

In other words, I don't think he is a real skeptic - rather he is someone who has been convinced by others to be critical of stuff he has believed in the past.

His flirtations with AGW denial and his libertarian tendencies just proves my point.

Still, it's sad to hear that he hangs around with racialists

Ing said...

Shermer has NEVER impressed me. I've always thought he was an arrogant fuck who thought he was far cleverer than he really was; repackaging psychological, philosophical and sociological ideas from DECADES ago as his own new idea. What a load.

See now while I in general agree that with a goal based morality you can have a objectively "best" system, I think Shermer is starting to demonstrate the problem with this. Being convinced that your way is "objectively best" may lead to the same arrogant dickery and self righteousness as "God ordained" morality.

Gadfly said...

Ing, you said it perfectly. I think a similar argument applies to many (tho I certainly wouldn't say all) Gnu Atheists.

Ing said...

To be fair to some. Many are more or less open about NOT having anything new to say but being of interest for popularizing what has been a long standing stance.