Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Michael Shermer, racism & social "science"

I can't believe I forgot to blog on this priceless specimen of pseudoscientific obscurantism. The following, constructed from old e-mails, is fragmentary. I don't think I ever wrote out my entire analysis of why this article by Shermer is utterly bankrupt. Perhaps you will be able to see it for yourselves.

08 Jan 2007
We're all racists, unconsciously: Kramer just blurted out what unfortunately comes naturally to all of us.
By Michael Shermer, L.A. Times, November 24, 2006

. . . Stumbling on this old article, I find myself amazed that Shermer has the cheek to pronounce himself a scientific expert on matters such as these. He makes some remarkable extrapolations from these little experiments and declares, based on his expert knowledge of evolutionary theory, that the biases he lists are simply natural in-group out-group programming instilled in us by evolution. And that's his explanation in toto. This, from an alleged skeptic. With friends like Shermer, Harris, and Dawkins to explain sociopolitical realities to the world in the name of science as childishly as they do, who needs enemies?

16 Jan 2007
While a couple other people [on the now-defunct Freethought Forum] expressed skepticism viz. the psychological experiments in question, nobody saw the essential problems with Shermer's
BS. The secular humanist community is simply not prepared to move beyond its shallow scientism to a wider methodological basis for explaining social phenomena. And these postmodernist shits have only made the job more difficult.

I find I can't get through a single day of intellectual work without addressing the fundamental dichotomy at the highest level.

I am operating with this duality of scientism and irrationalism at a very high level, because in fact even those few who recognize the duality have not refined their analysis sufficiently or applied it to contemporary situations. I've been addressing it in the secular humanist/atheist community, and these people are not prepared to deal with it. I've been questioning their heroes Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Shermer, Wilson, etc. and they can't deal with it. The one person I found [in this particular forum] who admits of my fundamental criticism is a dingbat who's into postmodernism and queer theory. This is the ideological landscape we're living on.

No comments: