Science and Politics in Academe: Good Research is Not Enough

Charles Jansen


At first glance, few people are as disagreeable as individuals with a touch of Asperger’s. Basically, they are high-IQ guys who tend to intuitively grasp things like logic, mathematics, and mechanics, yet are remarkably inept at socializing with other people. Because of their inborn characteristics, people on the Asperger’s end of the spectrum are often “nerds” who spend far more time facing a computer or slaving away in a lab than with other people. We have all seen The Social Network (2010) and its portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg’s alleged personality: a strange mix of raw genius, social clumsiness and lack of scruples, the latter allowing Zuckerberg to rip off the Winklevosses and betray his best friend Eduardo Saverin according to the wish of the gleeful manipulator Sean Parker. (Notice that the shared Jewishness of Zuckerberg and Saverin didn’t prevent the former from betraying the latter. That community has its breakdowns in ethnic networking too.)

Dark Enlightenment figure Nick Land claims that the biodiversity people — those scorned as “racists” by the mainstream media and parasitic class — are endowed with low agreeableness. They tend to have “low verbal inhibition, low empathy, and low social integration, resulting in chronic maladaptation to group expectations. …  Mild autism is typical, sufficient to approach their fellow beings in a spirit of detached, natural-scientific curiosity, but not so advanced as to compel total cosmic disengagement.”

There is a grain of truth here. Trying to understand one’s fellows from the objective, disinterested point of view of science is not a behavior everyone will be attracted to or able to attain. Calm reflection about abstract principles is different from both blind habit and the passionate defense of some dogma — or one’s people. The pure scientist, after all, can never “take his own side.” He must forever be purely objective.

Honest — sometimes excessively; balanced in his epistemology to the point of favoring the groundbreaking — or plain truth in general — to popular dogmas; naively believing that his grand abstractions are an excellent recipe for society, like the Enlightenment thinker Condorcet who believed in an unlimited and exponential progress in future history.

Despite these tendencies toward social and intellectual blindspots, it is certainly true that HBD proponents are committed to science. Never deceptive, they do their best to get good data. Far from obnoxious, HBDers in my experience are much more sociable than Land admits — even if they don’t reveal it at first glance.

Unfortunately, their skepticism, aloofness and a lack of aggressiveness remain an Achilles heel. Living and working in an academic milieu that is anything but objective and disinterested — an academic world that treats them with hatred and scorn, they tend to remain aloof and unconcerned with changing their immediate social environment, much less the world.

The Academic Ivory Tower

Focused on their work, scientists may tend to let go unnoticed major political events around them. They may even despise demonstrations and politics as unnecessary trouble coming from retarded mobs — until, of course, they get out of the lab and find out how their research will be affected by what the mob cares about.

Edward O. Wilson, who coined the term sociobiology, exemplified the prototypical spirit when he wrote the first lines of his Sociobiology (1975) chapter on man: “Let us now consider man in the free spirit of natural history, as though we were zoologists from another planet completing a catalog of social species on Earth.”

There is clearly no political activism involved here. Wilson’s aim was gaining a sufficient detachment to notice behaviors and patterns that are usually beyond the radar of our perception, or that we take so much for granted that they escape our consciousness. For years, Wilson had been busy compiling hundreds of studies on various animals, primarily ants, as well as studies on human behavior. In doing so, this quasi-Martian anthropologist failed to notice what was happening in his immediate academic surroundings. Thus, when he published his 800-page book with only a tiny chapter on man as an animal, Wilson faced a backlash he never imagined and for which he was quite unprepared:

Having expected some frontal fire from social scientists on primarily evidential grounds, I had received instead a political enfilade from the flank. A few observers were surprised that I was surprised. John Maynard Smith, a senior British evolutionary biologist and former Marxist, said that he disliked the last chapter of Sociobiology himself and ‘it was also absolutely obvious to me — I cannot believe Wilson didn’t know — that this was going to provoke great hostility from American Marxists, and Marxists everywhere.’ But it was true. … In 1975 I was a political naive: I knew almost nothing about Marxism as either a political belief or a mode of analysis; I had paid little attention to the dynamism of the activist Left, and I had never heard of Science for the People. I was not an intellectual in the European or New York-Cambridge sense. (E. O. Wilson, Naturalist, 1994)

If one defines conservatism as an anti-ideology and a “leave us alone” cry, scientists tend toward conservatism. Science is about finding out the truth, not promoting any ideology. There is no desire to promote conflict, apart from engaging in healthy, evidence-based scholarly debate.

Pioneer Ahead, Myopic on the Flanks

science-human-diversity-history-pioneer-fund-richard-lynn-hardcover-cover-artThis posture of the scientist above the political fray is especially noticeable in The Science of Human Diversity (2001, hereafter SHD), a book by the psychologist and IQ-specialist Richard Lynn. It recounts the history of the Pioneer Fund, a granting agency created in 1937 to fund studies on human differences. The Pioneer has channeled millions of dollars from private donations to fund numerous studies, including the famous Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. Since it was associated with proponents of eugenics and devoted to studying genetic influences, Pioneer became a target of the Left after the cultural upheaval of the 1960’s. Indeed, the preface of SHD starts by mentioning a dramatic TV report where Pioneer is depicted as aiming to “eradicate black people,” with references to Hitler and scary music on the background. The preface goes on to mention the abuse and persecution suffered by Pioneer-funded scientists, two of whom were attacked by a violent mob in a seminary, another having to give classes by videoconferencing, others pressured to resign, etc.

Being targeted by the Left is never easy. Whether it materializes in mobs, student associations or professional watchdogs, its tactics are ruthless. Public shaming, social isolation, intimidation, physical violence, pressure to get the miscreant fired from his job, legal actions: all these are routinely used by the activist academic left. The designated bad guy of the day has no right to a sense of moral or intellectual integrity, much less free speech. SHD often refers to attacks from the Left: the big fuss against Arthur Jensen’s 1969 paper interrogating the possibility of enhancing intelligence by altering educational environments, the hostility faced by the Nobel prize winner William Shockley, attacks by the “radical (pseudo)scientist” Stephen Jay Gould (see here) and Leon Kamin, the libel campaign and trial against J. Philippe Rushton, and many other cases. In a recent interview, Richard Lynn noted that he refrained from popularizing the results of his research for no less than thirty-five years because he was “afraid of the consequences” on his career and family. Indeed, Lynn waited until he became a professor emeritus to publish a stream of books on IQ as it relates to genetic influences, race, sex, and national culture.

Yet, while reading SHD, I couldn’t help but think that something was missing. The book does a good job presenting the most important people who have worked with Pioneer along with their various achievements. It is spiced up with excellent descriptions and witty anecdotes. We learn, for example, how William Shockley ordered a lettuce leaf and nothing more at a classy restaurant because he was on a diet, then paid $40 for the lettuce and drank several Martinis along with his “meal.” Both the academic and the human side of the Pioneer-associated people are sketched, showing their illustrious careers and their huge contributions to science.

Nonetheless, where is the metapolitics? Having been targeted repeatedly by the Left, the Pioneer nevertheless eschewed the metapolitical struggle for norms and ideas. There is almost nothing on that. It seems that Dr. Lynn wants to focus on the positive, the growing scientific progress. In doing so, there is little on how the power of the Left impacts the real-world influence of this progress.

Only the passages dedicated to the psychologist Henry E. Garrett focus on the Left and its “egalitarian dogma,” as Garrett labeled it (pp.67–9). Lynn mentions the Left here because Garrett himself was puzzled by the rising influence of a set of ideas that seemed devoid of any empirical basis. As a scientist, Garrett advanced an explanation for this puzzling phenomenon: he saw it as the result of three distinct factors, namely 1) the rise of Franz Boas and the blank slate school; 2) Hitler’s alleged use of eugenics; and 3) the rise of the Left in general. (Writing in 1961, Garrett was living in the midst of the “civil rights” struggle where the left was beginning to show its muscle.)

Yet Garrett’s point is astonishingly superficial — as if these are passing fads that will eventually undergo the normal corrective process of science rather than reflecting real world ethnic and political interests that are not so easily altered. The basic reality was that the rise of the Left meant that truth really didn’t matter for shaping real world policy. Pioneer Fund scientists were engaged in a purely academic exercise that would remain in dust-gathering journals, isolated and quarantined from the arena of political combat, its producers shunned and ostracized.

In his Preface, Harry A. Weyher (President of the Pioneer Fund) exhibits a kind of forced optimism based on a belief in the corrective power of science, claiming that Richard Lynn has “hastened the day when the media [and] society at large … will see through the distortions” and peacefully accept what they had rejected with anger for so long: the reality of race differences. This seems to say that the Boasian school had arisen magically, just like the other parts of the Left, and that at some point in the future they will just as magically be overturned and the truth will out — as if simple scientific truth and research of the highest quality will somehow become acceptable to the academic and media left, so that they will all change their opinions and we will enter a golden age where Arthur Jensen has buildings named after him at elite universities.

But how can this scientific truth ever triumph without a complete revolution deposing all the tentacles of our hostile elites, particularly in the media and the academic world? For the left, it’s never been about truth or scientific rigor. The Pioneer associates seem to hope that truth is powerful by itself. Well, sorry to disappoint, but it isn’t.

Forgotten Pedagogy

The same plight can be observed in a book by Hans Eysenck, a psychologist who stood with Arthur Jensen when the latter was singled out as a “racist.” In 1973, this prolix researcher published The Inequality of Man (1973, hereafter IofM), a balanced review of the literature and knowledge of human differences up to that time. Eysenck is fully aware of the hostility to be endured by anyone who upholds the existence of human differences: he had already gone through it when he dared to support Jensen in the controversy resulting from his 1969 paper.

Eysenck’s book is balanced and informative. Aimed directly at the political mainstream, it mentions the “education reforms” promoted by the Left and comments on them from the point of view of science. As he doesn’t preach to only the converted, Eysenck has to go slowly and pull his punches. As it is, IofM might be a good entry point for many doubting individuals who feel there is something wrong with the conventional wisdom. It is loaded with interesting insights, thoughtfully ruminations on the history of science, philosophical issues, studies on toddlers’ reflexes, IQ, how adopted children behave more like their biological parents than the adopters, and many other topics. IofM was a good summary of the state-of-the-art, but of course it did not break through to have a major influence on the public.

As the book struggles to steer within the bounds of the moderate and publicly acceptable, it also shows a crucial lack of understanding of metapolitics. Eysenck correctly identifies Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a source of unfounded dogma on human equality, but fails to grasp how the dogma became so powerful in the twentieth century that it could overturn decades, if not centuries, of honest research on human nature. He claims to find it “strange” that people burst into anger when one discusses the genetic roots of abilities. Whereas his opponents are gleefully certain they know the truth, he exhibits a cautious skepticism, and as a result IofM likely attracts academically oriented minds but passes beneath the radar of the vast majority of people. Eysenck claims to defend a fair middle between leftist blankslatism and eugenics, underlining how recognizing the reality of innate differences will improve the “equality of chances.” He defends “toleration” as a “counterpoise” against shaky ideas and dogmas. To no avail of course. Again, while proclaiming the absolute certainty of their belief in human equality, the Left cares nothing for truth.

Eysenck’s posture reminds one of David Hume’s skeptical empiricism. Hume, a major figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, wrote that “a wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” Hume was wary of enthusiasms and dogmas. He decried the power of “imagination” to form new dogmas and then lead people into ideological wars.

In the same way, Eysenck defends toleration, academic freedom, and a foundational role for scientific and empirical evidence; he can be read as one of Hume’s heirs. His tendency to steer between what he perceives as extremes — the blank slate view and eugenics — is typically Humean too.

However, had Eysenck carefully read Hume, he would also know that the eighteenth-century philosopher had seen that passions — not reason — play a powerful motivational role in our minds. Reason can inform us, but reason alone doesn’t decide our behavior. Reason works more like a press secretary or a lawyer for our passions than as a committed scholarly researcher. Hume correctly saw that only a passion can counter a passion and how illusory it was to believe that mere arguments, even the best, would never be able to overturn sacred dogmas.

To oppose the torrent of scholastic religion by such feeble maxims as these, that it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be, that the whole is greater than a part, that two and three make five; is pretending to stop the ocean with a bulrush. Will you set up profane reason against sacred mystery? No punishment is great enough for your impiety. And the same fires, which were kindled for heretics, will serve also for the destruction of philosophers. (David Hume, Natural History of Religion)

Conclusion

Other books could, of course, be mentioned here, such as the work of J. Philippe Rushton, or The Bell Curve. The point here is that while genuine science and truth are likely to stand on our side, it doesn’t alleviate the necessity for metapolitical warfare or for preventing small parts of truth from being used by the Left to attack us. It is true, for example, that a small minority of Whites practiced slavery — but it is also true that our ancestors were the only people to energize social movements to abolish it for moral reasons, while pretty much the entire rest of the world continued to practice it.

Science can tell us that Whites have a higher IQ than some groups (but not others) due to our ancestor’s adaptation to the Ice Age, and it can inform us of our genetic inheritance. Science can find blond- and red-haired mummies in remote deserts. But by itself, science as promulgated by academic and media elites does not necessarily serve the interests of Whites, and in fact that is obviously the case now. Prominent scientists at elite universities are not writing op-eds in the elite media that we have a birthright over Europe or legitimate interests as Whites, including an interest in protecting our cultural and genetic integrity. We have to make a concerted metapolitical effort to defend these. We have to achieve a clear consciousness of who we are and what we want. Science is doubtless a part of this adventure — but it won’t help us without a great deal of metapolitical work of slogging through the institutions. This means that we can’t rely on “common sense,” mere truth or any impersonal process to save us: we have a great struggle ahead of us for survival.

If you believe evolutionary psychology and heritability studies reveal important truths about ourselves and others, welcome on board. But we also need a metapolitics fashioned to achieve our interests as Whites, whatever the science says about Black/White IQ differences and other topics much beloved by HBD folks.

Metapolitics isn’t obvious. Metapolitics isn’t nice, and it certainly isn’t easy. It sometimes can mean insane toil. I dare to think, though, that it is also more promising than merely doing science and passively hoping that SJW armies or professional finger-wavers will ever care about scientific truth. For them, it’s a war. No holds barred.

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