Times Literary Supplement
Originally posted Feb 20
"Race science” seems to be the hideous new trend of 2020. Last month, an article in the journal Philosophical Psychology calling for greater investigation of purported genetic bases for racial IQ differences became the focus of intense academic controversy. Then came a new book, Human Diversity, from Charles Murray, prompting the New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie to tweet: “i guess we’re gonna spend february arguing with phrenologists”. And then just this week, a twenty-seven-year-old consultant to the British government quickly resigned following media reports of his apparent musings on eugenics.
What’s going on? Why are we suddenly talking about this nonsense again? Donald Trump, and the winks he tosses to torch-wielding “blood and soil” marchers, may have something to do with it. Clearly there is a market for white coats who cater to white hoods. But the “race science” racket is growing, and we needn’t assume that all its practitioners have such transparently bigoted motives. Rather, I suspect that some are in it for the iconoclastic thrill of prodding at bien pensant pieties from behind the intellectual shield of capital-S Science.
There has always been a certain sort of mind that delights in saying whatever is verboten, from the Marquis de Sade to Christopher Hitchens. The writer George Packer worries that, in the high-stakes moral atmosphere of the Trump era, we no longer have cultural space for such fearless exploration of opinion. But I think this gets things exactly backwards. Trumpism is partly a result of the fact that it is now much easier to acquire an audience for heterodoxy. You don’t have to be a gifted essayist; you need only a Twitter account and lack of moral inhibition. Thoughtful iconoclasts aren’t silenced, they’re merely lost amid the din of so many icons being artlessly shattered.
The info is here.