Friday, November 03, 2017

Race-obsessed Razib Khan - still obsessed with race PART 1

I actually didn't wonder very much about Razib Khan's reaction to the Undark piece about him, Race, Science, and Razib Khan by Michael Schulson. I thought the article bent over backwards to be fair to Khan, and it certainly supported its claims about Khan - and gave Khan a chance to try to deny his race obsession. So I assumed Khan wouldn't have a notably negative response. 

I should have known better. He wrote a couple of weeks ago:
After the recent hit piece that was written about me in a well respected science journalism publication* (which has really updated my priors as to what I think about journalism and how much, or honestly little, I respect the profession) there is really no point in engaging with any prominent liberal that is outside of science because their minds are made up. I am honestly OK with that since I’m not liberal, and I still retain influence and following on the Right, where people are more open-minded about the world in my opinion (basically I think anyone who has sympathies that they have the courage to make vocal with classical liberalism will end up on the Right eventually; I’m looking at you, Bret Weinstein).
It's interesting that Khan considers himself a conservative: he is not white, he's an atheist, pro-choice and pro-science. I assume that the reason he thinks that the Right is more "open-minded" than liberals is because the Right accepts without question the nineteenth-century "science"  that claims humans can be arranged in "race"-based hierarchies. Because obsessing over race is what Khan does.

I was interviewed a year ago for the Undark article because I have been criticizing Khan since the earliest days of this blog, so my blog posts about him tend to appear on Google searches of Khan. Thanks to this visibility, I was a contributing factor in his being denied a post at the New York Times

As I said, I thought Schulson was much too sympathetic to Khan:
For all of this, dismissing Khan as a crank would be a mistake. While his associations are extremist, his science is not, and very little of what he writes about human genetics falls outside the pale of ordinary scientific discourse. Khan is also not alone in bridging the worlds of scientific racism and mainstream science and science writing. The Times dropped Khan in 2015, less than a year after one of its own science journalists, Nicholas Wade, published a book that made more sustained, incendiary arguments about race, with far more blowback from scientists.
In fact he is a crank - and a lousy writer too. The fact that the NYTimes publishes another crank, Nicholas Wade, does not make Khan any less of a crank. It's interesting that Schulson quotes Khan as saying: "Obviously, I don’t condone (racism)” while writing this about Wade:
“I can’t control how people use the book,” said Wade, who retired from The Times last year but still regularly contributes freelance articles to its science section — and who was himself interviewed by Khan back in 2010. Wade insisted that the book was not racist, but in an phone call, he also did not take an opportunity to disavow the white nationalists who have embraced it. He was dismissive of the controversy that surrounded “A Troublesome Inheritance,” and of the biologists’ letter to The Times. “It was an attempt to suppress a discussion of race,” Wade said. “Almost everything in the book you can find in The New York Times in my articles, and none of these guys objected at the time.”
I don't think this means that Khan is any less racist than Wade though. I will discuss that tomorrow.