December 12, 2010

Libertarianism, skepticism shouldn't be mixed

A point for pondering: Maybe worries about conflating libertarianism and skepticism by some skeptics are of more concern in the abstract than in the concrete.

A second point for pondering: Specific to SkepticBlog and potential racialism issues, not libertarian ones, don't you think the NAACP, etc., and not just some of your readers, would vehemently protest an attempt at a PBS show, if they knew that?

A third point, which I won't try to cram in this blog is — let's not forget the third person of the unholy trinity, Pop Evolutionary Psychology. It, like racialism, IMO, has a fair amount of overlap with libertarian political beliefs.


The potentially extended about dangers of mixing libertarianism and skepticism? Look at SkepticBlog and some of its recent posts, especially by Michael Shermer and Brian Dunning.

Dunning first, to focus on him and the issue of whether or not he's a libertarian.

Brian Dunning is currently engaged in bald-faced denialism of his libertarian sourcing, especially Steve Milloy's JunkScience.

Of course, here's why Dunning's such a denialist — Milloy's blatant denialism on global warming is trumpeted on the front page of JunkScience:
Now that the most absurd but potentially catastrophic junk science in human history is unraveling and we are preparing to declare victory over gorebull warbling we can devote more attention to neglected junk.

Taking Liberty -- How Private Property is being Abolished in America

Click here to jump straight to the global warming (a.k.a. "climate change", "global weirding", "people are icky, nasty, weather-breaking critters"... ) section if you so desire.

It's clear from that that Milloy engages in pseudoscience. Dunning was busted on using this website as a source, so hides his embarrassment at his ideological bias being discovered by raging against critics allegedly engaged in conspiracy theories, distortions, not telling him his errors and more.

Steven Novella originally got snookered by Milloy years ago and refusing to weigh in on Dunning's defense of "accidentally using" Milloy now.

Regarding that:
An irony in all of this is that if you go back and listen to early episodes of SGU, the Novella gang praised junkscience as a reputable website. They even had Milloy on to talk about his website (didn't discuss DDT, as far as I can remember). But you can tell that red flags were raised during the interview with Steve Novella, when Milloy was using language suggesting an ideological bias when discussing certain issues. And after that interview, SGU never mentioned junkscience again, except when criticizing it in an interview (I think, with Christopher Mooney). If only Brian had been privy to those early episodes, he may have steered away from the site all-together.

Well, considering that Dunning refuses to pull in his horns, AND that Novella has yet to put up his own post on Skepticblog about this at all, I doubt Dunning would have "steered away." Shermer hasn't steered away from worse; rather, he's gone swimming in it again.

Now Shermer, on issues of both libertarianism and racialism.

Shermer has been a libertarian of long standing. Outside this blog, as editor of Skeptic magazine, he's been an "enabler" of racialist Frank Miele for what, more than a decade now. Fellow racialist and co-author of "Race" with Miele, Vincent Sarich, is on the editorial board; Miele is listed as "senior editor."

(Related to this, here's my review of the Miele/Sarich book "Race."

And, my post on how this relates to Shermer ... which in turn relates to the analogies I'm drawing in this post.)

And, in for a penny, in for a pound on racialism. Dunning's snarky comment, on his website, about U.S. white liberals' alleged pseudo-concern for sub-Saharan Africans, not only is to me incidental supporting evidence for him being a libertarian, it also raises the question, to me, of whether he has any racialist thoughts rattling around in his braincage. (See how racialism can at least piggyback on libertarianism in one of my comments below.)

That said, the snark goes less to raising the flag of what his stance on racial issues might be than it goes to support for his being a libertarian (other incidental support, I mention in another comment), but, in part given that Shermer's fluffing of Miele on SkepticBlog is what really set me off, it raises my antennae.

Add, speaking of that, Skepticblog partner No. 4 (more on "partner" below) Daniel Loxton claimed that Shermer was past that, on a comment to a skeptic friend's Facebook post about a month ago. That makes almost half of the group, four of ten, having some degree of question mark over their heads on conflating libertarianism and skepticism.

Now, about that "partner" talk?

With 10 different members, I say it's a legitimate analogy to compare SkepticBlog to a law firm, with each blogger a "partner" similar to those at a law firm.

And, based on my experience with a with a particular political blog, Daily Kos, we're going to take that analogy in a particular direction.

Back about four years ago, Armando Llorens-Sar was Kos founder Markos Moulitsas' right-hand man. But, many people including me, asked and kept asking why he was refusing to reveal the name of the law firm where he "worked." He claimed it was because it could hurt his business.

Not quite. It turned out he was a partner at the firm, as opposed to "working" there. It a corporate representational firm which had some clients, such as Clorox and Walmart, taboo to many liberals.

I noted on Kos, before being banned, that Armando could have sold out of his partnership or asked to be bought out and how he ignored this idea. Note that a similar analogy applies here, to getting rid of Shermer and Dunning, or else others starting a new group blog. The six "silent partners," or the six + two, if you count the "abetting" duo of Loxton and Novella, have their chance to stand up for skeptical credibility, principle and practice. (Note: The "abetting" is in scare quotes; per Leo's comment below, Loxton at least has spoken on SkepticBlog about this and been ridiculed. That, in turn, gets back to the "partnership" issue and whether, or not, he and Novella believe further action on their part is warranted.)

Next, I'm going to move beyond analogies to personal experience.

I can speak about the down side, or simply the "groups representation" issues, of group blogging from a personal perspective.

About four years ago, I was asked to become part of a joint political blog. But, on a number of specific issues and ultimately, on the rise of Obama, it became clear that others there, especially the co-founders of the blog, were "Democrats right or wrong" type liberals, who didn't to engage in critical analysis of politics and stances in general, or just who Obama was — or was not — in particular.

So, I was eventually "asked to leave." (The primary co-founder wound up becoming Steve Benen's "woman Friday" at Washington Monthly, illustrating just how much of a craptacular "Democrats right or wrong" person she was, and is.

Anyway, I realized I was a square peg in a Kos-type blog, and wasn't going to convert any other bloggers. And, especially not being a "senior partner," I accept that others had the right to boot me, etc.

So, the law-partnership analogy has a personal side.

And, that's the other place in which my observations are grounded. Ergo, by analogy with my group blogging experience, contra Loxton and Novella writings elsewhere, my observation is that the libertarian "issue" on SkepticBlog must not be THAT big of a deal to them there. Or, to put it another way, maybe the worries about conflating libertarianism and skepticism are of more concern in the abstract than in the concrete.

Yes, that is provocative beyond the original version of this post. And, it's meant to be, but NOT in a Brian Dunning way.

I'll now wrap up with a few final thoughts.

As it stands, this conflation of skepticism and libertariansim is bad for skepticism in a number of ways. Credibility, confusion of what skepticism is and more all result.

Specifics?

Some people may thing that there's a litmus test on political skepticism, i.e., you're not a good enough skeptic unless you're a libertarian. Others may think that the skeptical enterprise has an inherent bias. (Note the explicit libertarianism of Pop Ev Psycher Steve Pinker, for a parallel.) And more.

Now, if like Howard Gardiner apparently did on religious belief to a degree, if Shermer and Dunning want to compartmentalize their skepticism, fine. Just be honest about it!

And, if you ARE going to do that, then you can't judge other people's skepticism, either.

UPDATE, Oct. 29, 2011: Welcome, Skeptic's Guide to the Universe readers. I don't have a "vendetta" against Skepticblog, just against ideology masquerading as skepticism. Brian Dunning and Michael Shermer both do it regularly with their libertarianism. (So does non-Skepticblog Skeptic Penn Jillette, the magician.) Shermer also leaves himself "open" to critical purview otherwise, for having known racialists on his magazine's masthead.

Why pointing these things out should be considered a possible "problem," I don't know.

And, if you'll click either the skepticism or pseudoskepticism tags, you'll note that I take a skeptical eye at skeptics outside the magazine, like the above-named Penn and others who are Gnu Atheist evangelists, or even occasionally a Chris Mooney type.

UPDATE, Dec. 3, 2011: And now, claiming the Kyoto Accord was more politics than science, Dunning once again shows us why he's NOT a real skeptic. If we're lucky, a federal court will put him on ice for a few years.

19 comments:

Chris Lindsay said...

I posted a reply on our the Michigan Skeptics website as well, but thought I would re-post a portion of it here.

I sort of have a problem with using political labels as a rebuttal to an argument. To me it's comparable to AGW-deniers dismissing man-made global warming arguments as coming from liberals. I can understand if people reject libertarianism in principle, but I don't think it's worthy skeptical argument. Any one from different political ideologies can and does employ logical fallacies and flawed evidence.

I don't think the mistakes in Dunning's DDT episode comes from a libertarian bias. I think it came from a selection bias of which he may have not been aware.

Now, you can argue that his political ideology predisposes him to that selection bias.

But I think I would need to see more examples of similar mis-steps in his Skeptoid catalogue to justify that position. And I would be interested in going back to look at examples with a more skeptical/critical eye.

Lastly, regarding the Novella reference on your blog, since you quote me - I want to clarify the point. I don't think you quoted me out of context, but rather, I think I could've made the point better.

I don't think that there's an expectation that Brian Dunning should've been familiar with Milloy's interview on SGU. That was way back in September, 2005. I brought it up, just to show how it's easy to see Milloy's website as being credible to those who aren't predisposed to a position he discusses.

It's not until you talk with him, before his bias becomes apparent. So I believe Brian if he went into the issue of DDT cold and found his webpage on the DDT:FAQ containing references (this webpage is one of the top google hits for DDT), and didn't even see his complete website, or heard him speak on FoxNews.

Anonymous said...

"The six "silent partners," or the six + two, if you count the "abetting" duo of Loxton and Novella, have their chance to stand up for skeptical credibility, principle and practice."

I think you're way off base on this one. I don't see how either Daniel Loxton or Steven Novella are abetting either Dunning or Shermer. They have neither aided or encouraged either of them in their Libertarianism. I should note too that Dunning claims an eclectic assemblage of political beliefs not straight Libertarianism.

Also, if you're calling on Loxton and Novella to speak out on what constitutes scientific skepticism and good practices, you might be unaware that both have done so many, many times. In Daniel's case, at least half a dozen times on that very blog (and he's been flamed mercilessly for doing so).

Gadfly said...

@Chris — First, I think you’re much more charitable on Dunning’s intentionality, or lack thereof, than not just I, but many respondents to his SkepticBlog post are. I, and I will assume they, all see his continued, and in fact escalating, defensiveness and anger, as proof thereof.

But, even if you are correct about his **initial** mistake, that still doesn’t explain the defensiveness, the refusal to admit he’s wrong, the refusal to admit that he’s had his errors pointed out to him, etc.

As for Milloy, credibility and appearances, I’m not a “professional skeptic,” and Google didn’t exist back in the 1990s. Nonetheless, I can’t but think that, back then, more fact-checking could have been done earlier.

Speaking of Google, if Dunning just clicked a certain link because it was the top one on Google, and did not do any background investigation, doesn’t that go even further as evidence on his lack of good methodology?

So, then, by your own point of view, you’ve set up what seems to be a true dilemma — Dunning either is engaged in biased work, or he’s engaged in shoddy methodology. If the latter is true, then we should distrust other podcasts of his for other reasons.

Frankly, I doubt that’s true; I think the political bias is more likely.

In both cases, his and Novella’s as I noted on Dunning’s SkepticBlog post, the counter-example is Bob Carroll. He got snookered by Penn/Teller on secondhand smoke, but then admitted that, corrected himself and even apologized.

If Dunning does that, I’ll change my stance on him.

I’m not holding my breath, by the way he’s acting now.

Gadfly said...

@Leo — We’ll probably have to agree to disagree.

I stand by my law firm and its partners analogy.

As for Loxton’s past comments, that’s sad in several ways.

First is that, from the responses, he apparently didn’t “get,” didn’t take away from the, the degree of support that this libertarianism disguising itself as skepticism gets, and therefore didn’t think it was that serious of an issue.

Second, “abetting,” in the legal version of the word, if not the popular one, includes inaction when in advance knowledge of a crime being perpetuated, or not making, in essence, every reasonable attempt to stop that crime. Have the “six,” or the “six plus two,” made every reasonable attempt? I think I would say no. Others who object to Shermer and Dunning’s politicization of the site, if they thought about my analogy and agreed with it, would probably agree with the lack of total effort.

Third, when some comments to Dunning’s post got delayed, Novella chided some people for conspiratorial thinking. That too goes back to the analogy. If you’re going to defend a partner in the face of egregious behavior, then you’ve got to accept the “slings and arrows” that go with that.

Fourth, as I noted by posting the top grafs of JunkScience’s homepage in this blog, and in a comment on Dunning’s post, it goes beyond thoughts about libertarianism vs. skepticism. It’s about junk science being on the pages of the blog repeatedly. It reflects on the blog as a whole. Pure and simple.

Fifth, based on points 1-3, I personally wonder why Loxton and Novella aren’t even more active on this issue. Like Dunning claiming he likes to be provocative to drive up site hits, do Loxton and Novella tolerate keeping Dunning and Shermer in the fold for similar reasons?

Sixth, by volume of posts, to take the analogy further, one could argue that SkepticBlog has senior and junior partners. Shermer, Dunning, Novella and Loxton would all theoretically be the former. I’m not sure any of the others would be. Different than a law firm though, they’ve made themselves junior partners to the degree they haven’t posted more, which might make all the partners look better in this regard by “diluting” Shermer’s and Dunning’s posts.

Ergo, the “six” or the “six + two” can and should do more. They have a responsibility to do more.

Gadfly said...

One more comment — beyond libertarianism, neither of you gentlemen have even deigned to touch Shermer's ongoing support for Frank Miele (and I'll also assume, Vincent Sarich) on this blog, not just on Skeptic magazine.

Whether it's a true or false dilemma, for those in the know about Miele, which of the two is a bigger black eye for SkepticBlog — the semi-regular libertarian-driven posts, or wondering when a post of Shermer's might have a racialist angle in the future? That's why I was so concerned about Dunning's snarky comments about U.S. white liberals and sub-Saharan Africans on his site — I honestly don't know what lurks behind them.

Anonymous said...

Well, given that Skepticblog isn't owned by Daniel, I'm not sure what he can do beyond making his opinions known -- which he does, and has for years, repeatedly.In his 2007 essay, Where Do We Go From Here, he says of attempts to redefine scientific skepticism to encompass Libertarian political ideology:

It is an issue as divisive as it is peripheral, and it’s pure poison for us as a movement.

Steven Novella has made his views on the scope of scientific skepticism known since the late 1990s with articles in the major skeptic magazines (if you ask Daniel, I know he has a ready link to verify this).

Plus, I have to say I'm really disturbed by the framing of this in legal terms. No crime has been committed here. Skepticism is a leaderless, fractured and marginal social movement at best. People like Milloy (or Penn & Teller) may coopt the term, but if they didn't have millions of dollars of corporate and right wing funding behind them, they would surely get no where by attempting to hijack the skeptical movement.

Anyway, I've had my say, so I'll just agree to disagree with you on this. Which kinda seems to me must be with the non-Libertarian inclined members of Skepticblog.

Anonymous said...

Resubmitting this since it looks like Blogger ate my previous comment...

Well, given that Skepticblog isn't owned by Daniel, I'm not sure what he can do beyond making his opinions known -- which he does, and has for years, repeatedly.In his 2007 essay, Where Do We Go From Here, he says of attempts to redefine scientific skepticism to encompass Libertarian political ideology:

It is an issue as divisive as it is peripheral, and it’s pure poison for us as a movement.

Steven Novella has made his views on the scope of scientific skepticism known since the late 1990s with articles in the major skeptic magazines (if you ask Daniel, I know he has a ready link to verify this).

Plus, I have to say I'm really disturbed by the framing of this in legal terms. No crime has been committed here. Skepticism is a leaderless, fractured and marginal social movement at best. People like Milloy (or Penn & Teller) may coopt the term, but if they didn't have millions of dollars of corporate and right wing funding behind them, they would surely get no where by attempting to hijack the skeptical movement.

Anyway, I've had my say, so I'll just agree to disagree with you on this. Which kinda seems to me must be with the non-Libertarian inclined members of Skepticblog.

Gadfly said...

@Leo: I didn't mean for my legal analogy to imply a "framing," on the issue of abetting.

Otherwise, on Daniel, I'd like a mea culpa from him, since he claimed on FB that, in essence, Shermer wasn't doing that type of blogging any more. And, like the biblical dog returning to its vomit, he is.

On the "fracturing," tis true, and per our discussion of whether or not to use the word "skeptic" as a self-describer, it's understandable. But, this doesn't help the fracturing! So, in that sense, it's a "branding" issue that's at stake.

Finally, as much as Dunning, and as much as Shermer on his libertarianism, really ...

Shermer's fluffing of Miele is what REALLY set me off. Given that Miele's been with Skeptic the mag for more than a decade, and ditto on Sarich ...

Sorry ... but ALL the other members of Skepticblog have some responsibility there.

Frankly, I think if they had integrity, they never would have joined in a partnership with Shermer in the first place, on that issue/grounds. I know I wouldn't.

Have Novella, Loxton or any others commented on THAT anywhere?

Gadfly said...

And, another reason to wonder if Dunning is in the Shermer camp on racialist-type issues?

Commenter Febo @2 on Dunning's Skepticblog post:
I’ve heard that you recently tweeted something like, “If you were offended by the DDT episode, you’re really going to be offend by the IQ episode.”
Makes me wonder. Does it make you wonder?

Beyond that, Daniel's last comment from the document you linked is ... er, ironic, at the least? In his postscript, after saying skepticism shouldn't be confounded with libertarianism, he says "Let's go to work." And he wrote that more than a decade ago.

Dear Daniel, re Skepticblog, I'd say there's still work on your plate.

That said, I'm grateful you said on FB that Shermer wasn't posting libertarian screeds at SkepticBlog anymore, or else I wouldn't have realized he still was, with perfect timing.

Jim Lippard said...

I think your original post is right that organized skepticism shouldn't allow itself to become affiliated with/represented by/advocate libertarian (or any other) political ideology. But your count of libertarians at skepticblog.com appears to be unfounded--of your four alleged advocates of libertarianism-as-skepticism, only Shermer appears to actually qualify. Dunning may have some libertarian leanings, but he has disclaimed self-identifying as such. Novella and Loxton are both strongly associated with the 35-year "scientific skepticism" position of CSI (CSICOP), addressing testable paranormal and pseudoscience claims. Loxton in particular has been quite vocal about a return to that position, in response to skeptical groups getting mired in religious and political issues.

I do share your dismay at Dunning's failure to correct his errors on the DDT Skeptoid issue, but ironically, I think the focus on the question of political ideology has served as a diversion from the main issue. It's created an opening for him to complain about being misidentified as a libertarian instead of addressing the factual errors.

It seems to me that Novella's remarks about conspiratorial thinking about moderation delays were right on target. I find it amazing how people who spend all their free time on the Internet don't seem to understand that not everyone else does, and even a day or two delay in moderation approval doesn't necessarily imply that censorship is occurring.

You offered a suggested senior/junior partner distinction. While Daniel Loxton is certainly an up-and-coming skeptic with deserved and growing influence, I suspect he'd put himself into the "junior" category, both due to his relative recency into the field of professional skeptics and by the fact that he's employed by Skeptic magazine, which is owned by Shermer's organization. (And the fact that his magazine is "Junior Skeptic.") You're right that he's one of the more prolific contributors to skepticblog.com.

I can't agree with your claim that integrity requires one to never collaborate with people who one disagrees with politically, though I agree there are ethical lines to be drawn about lending to support to organizations advocating erroneous, harmful, and unethical positions. It seems to me that when Skeptic magazine has entered into controversial territory, it has at least usually provided ample space for contrary views--such as Alondra Oubre's critique of Miele & Sarich's book on race, which was apparently a precondition for publishing Paul Gross's positive review of the same book.

Gadfly said...

Jim, the last point first. Skeptic's treatment of that issue seems to be a bit like the mainstream media's "equal points of view" treatment of global warming and denialism.

And, in any case, it hasn't changed M&S's official relationship to the mag.

That said, it's quite arguable that, in your words, racialism is all three - erroneous, harmful and unethical. I've talked elsewhere in the issue of Pioneer Fund grants, and Pioneer Fund's current board's non-denial "denial" of the significance of Pioneer's origin.

2. Re Novella and moderation. None of my comments to Dunning's post, nor any of mine to any of Shermer's, has been moderated. The fact that Lambert and BugGirl's posts WERE held up, even if not for deliberate reasons, opened SkepticBlog up to claims of a conspiracy, IMO. That ties with the whole issue of credibility, which the "six" or "six + two" apparently don't get. Instead, Novella himself got defensive with his "get a life" type comment.

And yeah... I forgot Loxton is also associated with Skeptic the mag.

And, forgive me if this sounds conspiratorial ... between the blog and the mag, he'd have motive to play down Shermer's libertarian postings and say, "Come on back and read us." Small light bulb went on.

Beyond that, per the article Leo linked above, Loxton was first warning about the libertarian issue more than a decade ago, as you note yourself. So, I think it's fair to call him "senior."

I didn't mean to imply or state that Loxton & Novella are libertarian, but rather that, as "abetters," they run the issue of "appearance." Judging by the amount of sound and fury, they can again see the credibility issue if they want to.

As for Dunning's denial of being a libertarian, I take it with a grain of salt. He also bills himself as a venture capitalist. No guarantee that means he's libertarian, but call it a 2 percent contributor in terms of circumstantial evidence.

Finally, as for magazines, though I subscribe to neither, this is why I'm more likely to read Skeptical Inquirer than Skeptic. And, I never would give money to Skeptic.

Anonymous said...

I think you're confusing Daniel Loxton's WDWGFH from 2007 with Steven Novella's SI article Scientific Skepticism, CSICOP, and the Local Groups from 1999.

Gadfly said...

Ahh, I think you're correct. My apology on the confusion on dates and thinking that Daniel's article was older than it is. OK, he would fall in the "junior partners," or "junior partners eligible for promotion to senior partners."

That said, Novella and Loxton are the only other partners to even weigh in on Dunning's post. I'd like to hear from the rest of them .... on their perception of Dunning, their philosophy of a partners' blog and association, and more.

Daniel Loxton said...

"Otherwise, on Daniel, I'd like a mea culpa from him, since he claimed on FB that, in essence, Shermer wasn't doing that type of blogging any more. And, like the biblical dog returning to its vomit, he is."

I'm afraid I have no idea what comment you're talking about. I make a great many lightweight, informal comments on Facebook; none should be considered more than conversation among friends. (I consider my private Facebook presence an off-duty space.)

That said, it is indeed my sense that Shermer's interests are leaning back toward his more traditional earlier work in skepticism. But Shermer covers a lot of ground, and his libertarian interests are well known. I expect he will continue to explore those themes from time to time.

As for myself, my position is a matter of record (PDF). I am not a libertarian ("there are many skeptics, including myself, who don't have the time of day for libertarianism") and I have spoken often and openly about the dangers of conflating skepticism with political ideology ("A politically aligned, partisan
skepticism…is crippled, its scientific credibility destroyed"), or atheism, or other non-scientific topics. (Do note that Michael Shermer published and promoted my sentiments about libertarianism. Censorship is certainly not an issue.)

Similarly, Steven Novella and I discussed libertarian conflation at some length on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe. (I attracted considerable heat from grassroots commenters for having done so).

Gadfly said...

@Daniel IIRC, and, it's been a couple of months ago, I made a commment on a Facebook post of Leo's that I'd long ago stopped reading Skepticblog because of Shermer's libertarian posts, and you said something to the effect that he's not like that any more.

Jim Lippard said...

Gadfly: Can't disagree with you on the last point, I think those issues are similar and that Skeptic almost certainly has stepped too far in the direction of publishing unreliable info (though I'm more informed on the AGW issue than the race issue). Pat Frank's anti-AGW article in Skeptic couldn't have passed peer review in a climate science journal, for example.

On the comment moderation issue, it's clear that not all comments get moderated, only ones that get caught in by spam filtering. It probably uses a scoring mechanism where, e.g., including links or multiple links to a site increase the spam score. This is fairly commonplace.

Gadfly said...

Jim, thanks for the follow-up. That said, it's "nice" to know what I'm missing. I'm going to link racialism and libertarianism below in a separate comment.

And, good point on the moderation; I know multiple URLs is a usual trigger.

Gadfly said...

On racialism and its likely (to me) links to libertarianism, I'm going to try to reduplicate Miele's, or Murray's, likely train of thought.

1. IQ scores show average African-American IQ is lower than other groups.
2. We know that American has a wide variety of individual opportunities, etc. (Libertarian thought No. 1)
3. Therefore, if not constrained by certain factors, surely black Americans wouldn't "choose" to be dumber, as shown in IQ tests.
4. Since they do, and it can't be primarily for social causes (Premise 2 restated, with the note that racialists don't totally dismiss environmental influences), therefore it must be in large part due to hereditarian influences.
5. Since this hereditarian influence manifests itself so strongly in the black race, it must be race-related.

Take out that Premise No. 2, and a lot of the argument is undercut. And, of course, in studies in both the U.S. and abroad in social anthropology and sociology, it IS undercut.

Now, arguably, Premise No. 2 is ultimately a bias that comes from racialism (or omit the "-al" syllable perhaps), but, libertarianism provides a more "polite" veneer for it.

Gadfly said...

Oh, related to my post just above, here's my review of the Miele/Sarich book "Race." http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2005/03/race-is-it-bell-curve-light.html

And, my post on how this related to Shermer ... which in turn relates to the analogies I've been drawing in this post: http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2010/11/is-michael-shermer-racialist.html