Thursday, January 18, 2018

Steven Pinker and Steve Sailer: remuneration not repudiation

In yesterday's post I discussed the connection between Steven Pinker, one of the evo-psycho bros and  alt-righter Steve Sailer. Today I want to underline one particular fact - go to the bottom of this post for the thumbnail summation.

In 2000 Steve Sailer wrote an article for VDARE,  described in Wikipedia:
VDARE is an American website focused on opposition to immigration to the United States and is associated with white supremacy,[2][3] white nationalism,[4][5][6] and the alt-right.[7][8][9] Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia describes VDARE as "one of the most prolific anti-immigration media outlets in the United States" and states that it is "broadly concerned with race issues in the United States".[10] Established in 1999, the website's editor is Peter Brimelow, who believes that "whites built American culture" and that "it is at risk from non-whites who would seek to change it".[10] 
The group has been described as white supremacist.[2] The Southern Poverty Law Center describes VDARE as "an anti-immigration hate website" which "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites", including Steve Sailer, Jared Taylor, J. Philippe Rushton and Samuel T. Francis.[7] Brimelow acknowledges that VDARE published writings by white nationalists but said that VDARE is not a "white nationalist Web site".[11][12][13]
Although anti-immigration VDARE is named after Virginia Dare whom the people associated with the website like to fetishize as a beautiful white woman, Dare was of course the daughter of immigrants to North American, if not "the United States" and a member of the "lost colony" of Virginia. As I wrote about 5 years ago, she may have got eaten by people. 

The article in 2000 by Steve Sailer uses The Bell Curve to justify claims of black intellectual inferiority and is entitled America and the Left Half of the Bell Curve and includes the following:
IQ is off-limits today because people who are verbally facile, such as journalists and academics, tend to assume that reality is largely constructed from words. Thus, if we would all just stop writing about unpleasant facts, they would disappear.
Please note that journalists and academics refusing to write about unpleasant facts is exactly what Steven Pinker was talking about in his infamous PC video. So not only was Pinker riding a favorite alt-right hobbyhorse, it's one they've been riding since before they were called the alt-right. Sailer continues:
Unpleasant Fact # 1: Five out of six African-Americans have IQs below the white average. But not talking about this IQ difference has singularly failed to make it go away. The black-white gap has remained roughly one standard deviation for the last 80 years. 
What the censorship has accomplished, however, is preventing the emergence of a more a nuanced and optimistic view of black-white differences. Although IQ is, by far, the single most effective measurement known to the social sciences for predicting human outcomes, it`s hardly omniscient. Indeed, African-Americans tend to be better than whites at certain mental abilities that IQ tests are bad at gauging, such as the improvisatory creativity that makes them world-beaters in jazz, basketball, rap, running with the football, and preaching. (See “Great Black Hopes”,  my 1996 article that introduced this novel perspective. Also check out “The Half Full glass”  for my more advanced 1998 review of Jensen`s The g Factor.)
Again we see how Pinker echoed Sailer in Pinker's PC video:
"What the censorship has accomplished, however, is preventing the emergence of a more a nuanced and optimistic view of black-white differences. "
There's no evidence anybody has been censoring IQ scores - neither Sailer nor Pinker can be bothered to provide any. And it's funny that Sailer thinks that the problem is journalism and academia aren't promoting a "more nuanced and optimistic view of black-white differences" since in Sailer's mind that nuanced view is that while blacks may be possessed by nature of lower intelligence, they are good at jazz, rap and sports. 

Sailer goes into fuller detail in a 1998 review of The g Factor: the Science of Mental Abilities, by Arthur R. Jensen. The review was once available on his iSteve website, which isn't available anymore except via The Wayback Machine.
I'm pleased to point out that IQ tests can't accurately measure at least one mental faculty in which blacks tend to outperform whites and Asians in real life. Despite lower mean IQ's, African-Americans are not a race of talentless dullards, but are instead the most charismatic contributors to 20th Century popular culture. What mental factor underlies the black revolutions in music, sport, oratory, dance, and slang? Subjective, improvisatory creativity. 
For example, like a lot of NBA stars, Scottie Pippen's below-market contract, ill-timed trade demands, team-damaging pouts, and numerous child-support obligations imply that when given time to think, he often chooses unwisely. Yet, in the flow of the game, he's a Talleyrand at real-time decision-making. Leading a fast break, there are no permanent right answers. Even "Pass the ball to Michael Jordan" gets old fast as defenses habituate. Similarly, the NFL running back, the jazz soloist, the preacher, and the rapping DJ all must heed others' expectations and instantly respond with something a little unexpected. IQ tests -- by necessity objective and standardized -- can never measure this adequately. 
Further, despite his data's inevitable shortcomings in this regard, Jensen does report that blacks possess particular mental weaknesses and strengths. Among individuals with equal g's, whites and Asians (like males) are typically stronger in those visual-spatial skills so useful in engineering and many skilled trades. In contrast, blacks (like females) often enjoy better short-term memories and thus can mentally juggle more balls in social situations. (This probably contributes to the black advantage in improvisation). Jensen's findings confirm my intuition (NR, 4/6/98) that while whites and Asians tend to be less masculine than blacks in physique and personality, they are typically more masculine than blacks in mental abilities. Put bluntly, whites and Asians tend to be nerdier than blacks. How many blacks would sincerely disagree?
So according to Jensen and Sailer, blacks, like females enjoy "better short-term memories" which make them (blacks not women) good at music, sport, oratory, dance and slang.

The presidential candidacy of Barack Obama must have been a shock to Sailer who wrote a response, published by VDARE, to Obama's "Dreams From My Father" in October 2008 called AMERICA’S HALF‐BLOOD PRINCE BARACK OBAMA’S “STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE".

Curiously Sailer compares himself to Obama in the introduction of the book, writing: 
To my father and mother, who, together, gave me more than just dreams.
Sailer was an even more obscure fringe figure at that time than he is now, and he compares himself to the leading candidate in a US presidential race. Which gives you some idea of the bafflement and resentment of racist white men in response to Obama's career. Naturally Sailer makes sure to remind you Obama is half-white, right in the title. To get a sense of what Half-Blood Prince is about, here's a helpful paragraph from page 39:
This book serves as a reader’s guide to Obama’s Dreams from My Father. The would‐be President has written a long, luxuriant, and almost incomprehensible book, so I have penned a (relatively) short and brusque book that explains who Obama thinks he is. I mostly follow his life as it unfolds in Dreams, up through his marriage to Michelle in 1992. I especially emphasize the little‐understood but critical four years he spent in Indonesia from age six to ten, during which his white mother, for surprising reasons of her own, set about systematically inculcating in him the racial grievances, insecurities, and ambitions that make up the pages of Dreams.
I've read "Dreams" and it is not in any sense "almost incomprehensible" and of course the most important thing for Sailer is Obama's mother "inculcating in him the racial grievances..."

Most interesting of all to me is Sailer's thanks to his patrons in the introduction:
I am especially indebted to my many patrons, most of whom wish to remain anonymous, who have donated sums of money, small and large, so I can continue to get by as a full‐time professional writer. Due to political correctness, we’re heading into an era when individualistic writers once again depend not upon the mass media for their pay, but upon enlightened patrons. Fortunately, the Internet allows heretical thinkers to help scratch out a living from the small donations of people around the world.
He includes a link to a page on another version of his web site, still online, asking for money.

Like Razib Khan, Sailer owes his career to wealthy racist patrons. But both of these racist hacks would be lifted above the far-right fringe thanks to their association with Steven Pinker.

In Sailer's case, Pinker edited a book called The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2004 and included work by Sailer.

So in summation: just four years after Steve Sailer, whose academic credentials are limited to an MBA from UCLA in finance and marketing, was opining for VDARE that while blacks were intellectually inferior to all other "races" at least they were good at jazz and basketball, Steven Pinker included Sailer's work in "The Best American Science and Nature Writing."

I have yet to find any evidence that Steven Pinker has ever repudiated any claims Steve Sailer has made about race. He prefers rather to pay him to write, and as recently as 2011, quote him for a blurb for one of his books ("Better Angels.")

I emailed Pinker's co-editer Tim Folger about the inclusion of Sailer in the publication. If he responds I will post on this blog.

But there is still the question of what, exactly Steven Pinker thinks is "race." More soon.

UPDATE: Tim Folger wrote back:
Hi Nancy,

Thanks for letting me know about this. In hindsight Sailer's story shouldn't have been included in the anthology, and we should have looked into his background more carefully. Until reading your email today, I knew nothing about Sailer's alt-right connections. Steven Pinker selected the story, and unfortunately I never discussed the article with him, an oversight that I regret.

I am waiting for my second-hand copy of "The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2004" to arrive so I can find out exactly what Pinker hired Sailer to say.