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Greed Is Good (and So Is Racism)

greed-and-racism-2.JPGThere’s been some eruptions on the Gold-Plated Racism front lately:

— A Very Serious Author, using either bogus information or misusing actual data, tries to make the case that charity is icky, especially if it goes to non-European people.

— A Very Serious Pundit, using bogus studies that have already been debunked about eleventy-five-billion times over, tries to show that brown people just aren’t as good as white people and never will be.

The people behind many of these well-financed regurgitations of racism, cloaked in the mantle of faux-scholarship? Why, that would be the Pioneer Fund:

Behind the ideas of race scientists for the past half-century, there has been money — and lots of it.

If you scratch the surface of almost any of the prominent race scientists of recent decades, you will find the same well-endowed institution: the Pioneer Fund. Established in 1937 to “improve the character of the American people” by promoting the study of eugenics and the procreation of descendants of the original white colonial stock, Pioneer has funded many of the leading Anglo-American race scientists of the last several decades.

These grant recipients have included William Shockley, Hans J. Eysenck, Arthur Jensen, Roger Pearson, Richard Lynn, J. Philippe Rushton, R. Travis Osborne, Linda Gottfredson, Robert A. Gordon, Daniel R. Vining Jr., Michael Levin and Seymour Itzkoff.

Hmmm. Some of these names sound familiar. Ah, I see: Atrios has caught NPR — which along with PBS has been seriously trashed intellectually by the right-wingers Bush has appointed over at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — treating one of the worst of them as if he was a Very Serious Person:

DNA pioneer James Watson caused a furor recently after saying Africans were intellectually inferior to Westerners. Farai Chideya talks about why the conversation of race and intelligence persists with Phil Rushton, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario.

Like Watson, Rushton says people of African descent have a lower IQ and smaller brain size, which he says is “50 percent genetic and 50 percent cultural.”

Rushton is the head of the Pioneer Group, an organization dedicated to the research of intelligence and racial differences.

Ah, the Pioneer Group. AKA the Pioneer Fund. Which has ties to Jesse Helms, the oil-billionaire Hunt brothers, and various white-power groups such as the UK’s “Northern League”.

And here’s what NPR isn’t telling you about James Watson:

Either he hasn’t paid attention to his own field for the last decade or he’s lying,” says my colleague Dr. Robert Pollack, quietly and matter-of-factly. “I’m not sure which is worse.” Pollack is a former dean of Columbia College. He has been a professor of biology since 1978 and teaches a required course that covers DNA-based evolution to 500 first-year students each year. …

This isn’t about anything remotely contestable,” continues Pollack. “The genes that regulate the amount of melanin beneath the skin are simply not expressed in the brain. It’s been tested, reproduced, published, established. The social responses to skin color differences are real; race is not. Race is a choice. Watson chooses to hold on to a false construct about Africans. He could choose not to.”


A lot of people think a debate would be fair. What would Pollack say to a face-off? “You must understand: the London Science Museum and Rockefeller University revoked his speaking invitations not because of anything to do with free speech or fear of debate. He’s been allowed to retire from Cold Spring Harbor because he no longer speaks as a scientist. Under the First Amendment, you can be any kind of nut case and babble your piece. But honesty is the cornerstone of empirical inquiry…. You don’t, you simply cannot, either ignore or make up facts. Watson has trashed that precept. Watson’s fame rests on his being a consummate icon of the scientific profession. But he tanked the clearest of data. This is as inexplicable as it is inexcusable. The only legitimate question for debate is what conceivably could be in it for him.”

By the way: Ever notice that so many anti-tax and anti-social-spending people are also racist as all get out? Then again, they are Republicans: It comes with the territory. As Brad over at Sadly, No! says, what they’re REALLY saying is this: “No more money for stupid and hopeless ni**ers!! Spend it on no-bid contracts for my corporate masters instead!!!”

(Graphic created from this photo by yomanimus and this photo by blmurch. Both originals were posted under a Creative Commons license.)

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