December 17, 2007

Deirdre McCloskey Endorses The Wisdom of Repugnance; or, Too Many Damn Steves!

Deirdre McCloskey, who is probably the most prominent female economist in America, issues a peeved review of economic historian Gregory Clark's "A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World." Dr. McCloskey writes:

"Clark most engagingly summarizes an enormous scientific literature, and if he gets any substantial number of noneconomic intellectuals innocent of economic history to grasp what we other students of such matters all know happened 1600 to the present we will in our great-heartedness forgive him for the rest. The trouble with this hope is that his distinctive hypothesis is going to appeal only to the Steve Sailers, Stephen Pinkers, and Seth Roberts of the world and is going to repel everyone else."

It's amusing to hear the former Donald McCloskey, of all people, appeal to what Leon Kass calls "The Wisdom of Repugnance."

By the way, I don't know who Seth Roberts is, but the story behind McCloskey lumping "the Steve Sailers" and "Stephen [sic] Pinkers" together is that McCloskey is part of a cabal of high IQ transsexuals, including computer scientist Lynn Conway (pictured here towering over Brent Scowcroft) and ecologist Joan Roughgarden, who have waged a vicious smear campaign against Northwestern U. psychologist J. Michael Bailey. Bailey's unforgivable sin was publishing a book that included a theory of transsexualism at odds with the I-always-felt-like-a-little-girl-inside story promoted in public by most transsexual intellectuals, such as McCloskey, who was the captain of his high school football team.

As part of their jihad, McCloskey and Co. have tried to smear anybody, such as Pinker or myself, who has ever written anything positive about Bailey. Not surprisingly, the transsexuals teamed up with the Southern Poverty Law Center in their attempt to shut down all heresy on the subject and wreck the careers of anyone sympathetic toward Bailey. The New York Times exposed the nastiness of McCloskey and Co.'s censorship and guilt-by-association campaign earlier this year.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

29 comments:

SKT said...

I was confused by "It's amusing to hear the former Donald McCloskey", so I had to look it up... WEIRD.

Dennis Mangan said...

Seth Roberts is a UC Berkeley psychologist who wrote "The Shangri-La Diet", and who has written critically on his blog regarding Dierdre McCloskey and in support of "The Man Who Would Be Queen". McCloskey didn't like that at all, and apparently has a propensity toward lawsuits.

http://www.blog.sethroberts.net

Steve Sailer said...

I guess you could assume it's a rule of thumb that a man who pays to have his personal parts chopped off will tend to take things a little too personally!

quo vadis scipio said...

...is part of a cabal of high IQ transsexuals

one wonders how the transsexuals get along with the "gender is a social construct" crowd. if it's a social construct then there should be no need for elaborate biological retooling.

whatever. they can all agree that the destruction of normality is paramount. frankfurt school theory demands attacks on all norms. subvert. destabilize. kill a society's norms and then work from a blank slate.

"we create our own reality"

Jason Malloy said...

I don't know who Seth Roberts is

You guessed it. Just someone who defended Bailey and therefore got sucked into the attack zone.

For context, see this series of exchanges between Roberts and McCloskey from several months back:

"Kaiping Peng, a friend of mine who is a professor at Berkeley, recently said to me that professors have an unusual place in our society: They are expected to tell the truth. Hardly anyone else is, he said. But what happens when they do?"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/seth-roberts/can-professors-say-the-tr_b_60781.html
[Posted August 16, 2007]



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/08/25/can-professors-say-the-truth-letter-from-mccloskey/
[August 25th, 2007]



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/08/26/can-professors-say-the-truth-another-letter-from-deirdre-mccloskey/
[August 26th, 2007]



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/08/26/can-professors-say-the-truth-my-reply-to-deirdre-mccloskeys-2nd-letter/
[August 26th, 2007]




http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/08/29/can-professors-say-the-truth-deirdre-mccloskeys-3rd-letter/
[August 29th, 2007]



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/08/29/can-professors-say-the-truth-deirdre-mccloskeys-4th-letter/
[August 29th, 2007] Ben Barres shows up.



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/09/01/can-professors-say-the-truth-more-from-deirdre-mccloskey-and-the-email-she-doesnt-want-you-to-see
[September 1st, 2007]



http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/09/21/can-professors-say-the-truth-letter-from-willow-arune/
[September 21st, 2007]

TGGP said...

I reviewed McCloskey's review here. Here is my last paragraph:

On a final goofy note, McCloskey says in an endnote primarily about Clark not acknowledging the contributions of other economic historians (primarily McCloskey) “his distinctive hypothesis is going to appeal only to the Steve Sailers, Stephen Pinkers, and Seth Roberts of the world and is going to repel everyone else”. I can’t think of anyone other than McCloskey who considers the three to be like-minded outcasts of polite society. Perhaps they are imagined all as one amorphous mass, drinking flaxseed oil whilst analyzing the language used by sports-casters in between plotting their assaults on Truth, Justice and the American Way.

TGGP said...

A funny thing about MtoF transexuals (Ben Barres is an example of FtoM) is that many feminists, especially the radical lesbian ones, refuse to accept them. I don't have a dog in the fight, but it's an interesting example of how trying to appease all minority groups leads to inconsistencies. It seems to have released more ire than the feminist vs fundamentalist muslim issue, where it is normally just righties pointing out the contradiction.

Steve Sailer said...

My wife had me munching on flaxseed for awhile. It’s like eating greasy birdseed.

Steve Sailer said...

Yes, McCloskey’s argument against evolution because of regression to the mean is goofy both in general and in his specific example:

“As Francis Galton put it in making a similar calculation —Galton in
1901 got further than Clark—very high inherited height or intelligence or bourgeois virtue dissipates
strongly in children and more in grandchildren, “owning to the combination of ancestral influences—
which are generally mediocre—with the purely parental ones.”13 Galton was part of Darwin’s family,
first notable in Erasmus, Charles’ and Francis’ grandfather. But their sons and daughters regressed.
That puts paid to his long-run story.”

In reality, Erasmus Darwin’s descendants are probably the most intellectually distinguished lineage in world history: they produced ten members of the Royal Academy of Science over six straight generations, plus composer Ralph Vaughn Williams and the most famous golf writer, Bernard Darwin.

If not the Darwins, then the most distinguished lineage might be the Huxleys. Darwin’s bulldog T.H. Huxley was the grandfather of Sir Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley, and the least famous brother, Arnold Huxley, who won the Nobel in Chemistry.

The secret of enduring success was careful marriages — the Darwins married Wedgewoods and Keynes (e.g., child movie star Skander Keynes of “Narnia” is the direct descendant of Charles Darwin), while the Huxleys married into the Arnolds (of Thomas and Matthew fame).

Ron Guhname said...

Transsexuals are a detriment to society since they cause valuable time to be wasted. I have spent almost a year trying to figure out if my neighbor is a man or a women.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
You should consider this praise! One, she was reduced to ad-hominem, implying an incapacity to engage you directly. Two, the guilt by association fallacy wasn't to bad either. I am reading Steven Pinker's, 'The Stuff of Thought' right now. It's intellectually challenging, and keeps it's debate on the level. Steven Pinker's honesty and bravery is something to admire.

I have been noticing the tactic of slurring individuals to induce consent more recently. The way to handle it is to stick to the facts and let the 'right thinkers' contort themselves into knots.

dodo said...

Hell hath no fury like a transexual questioned, it appears.

I wonder why this is? Or do I?

Seth Roberts said...

how quickly they forget...

http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2007/01/17/charles-murray-vs-charles-murray/#comment-575

Anonymous said...

Seth: To be fair, that was a "standard-issue IQ argument 1A". Sailer probably does like 60-70 of those a year.

dearieme said...

Bitches!

Kai Carver said...

Wow, everyone's being very catty here, but McCloskey's criticism of Clark, which can be summed up as: regarding the origins of the "Industrial Revolution, ideas and culture can matter more than genes", looks pretty good and well-argued (and entertaining) to me. I haven't read Clark's book, and I'd be happy to read some counter-arguments to McCloskey's review, but I'm less interested in transsexualism or blogger wars.

Here's an example of McCloskey's prose when she's not talking about Steve Sailer (which she does only at the bottom of a footnote of her 10-page article, a footnote to a side-argument claiming Clark doesn't acknowledge academic sources):

"Think about it. If you are the parent of four children, and can read, what is the transition probability that all four of your children will read? It is extremely high, at any rate in a society that for some reason values literacy. Thus in families today “going to college” is extremely inheritable, but in one generation. Unlike my Irish ancestors, my Norwegian ancestors on the Hardanger Fjord were reading by the late 16th century, and never stopped. Why? Clearly, because of that Protestant Reformation, a literal Deus, to which Clark in his book explaining modern Europe allots eight words. No religion, please: we’re demographic historical materialists. The impoverished Norwegians (no bourgeois virtues there, eh?) learned to read quickly. The habit spread across families. And once in a family it stayed there."

David said...

Trannies should be very careful with invoking "The Wisdom of Repugnance."

Graham Asher said...

"Unlike my Irish ancestors, my Norwegian ancestors on the Hardanger Fjord were reading by the late 16th century"

How does she know? That's over 400 years ago. Did she research her distant ancestors, establish that the Norwegians signed their names in parish registers when getting married and the Irish used an X, or something (assuming that writing ability implies reading ability, and that people could write more than their signatures)... but that seems unlikely. Were her ancestors famous enough to be notoriously illiterate in Ireland and famously literate in Norway?

I believe Ireland was relatively literate (in Irish) in Tudor times, despite the disruption caused by English invasions. Norway had its troubles, too - it was under Danish control and the Norwegian language was (I believe) in disfavour. But how much is known about relative levels of literacy?

dougjnn said...

Wow, everyone's being very catty here

Catty perhaps, but that's a world of difference from Madame McCloskey's utterly without restraint campaign of hysterical leftist destruction, or attempted destruction, of Bailey.

Who the hell do these PC leftist extremists think they are? Why should they be immune from character assassination while at the same time anyone significantly to the right of them or who merely is skeptical of some of their claims on a science and factual inquiry basis isn't whatsoever?

Sometimes common wisdom is uncommonly wise.

The common phrase "hysterical queens" comes to mind.

keypusher said...

Seth: To be fair, that was a "standard-issue IQ argument 1A". Sailer probably does like 60-70 of those a year.

In any case, that dispute between Roberts and Sailer underlines how bizarre it is to lump them together as McCloskey does. The only thing they appear to have in common is a belief that McCloskey and others treated Bailey very badly.

Evil Neocon said...

This goes to show you how deranged the Academy is. In most places a Trans-sexual would be considered a clownish joke. Not worthy of serious consideration on anything.

Only Hollywood (where I believe one of the Matrix Brothers got the Swedish Operation and looks like a melted wax figure according to reports) does the Academy find it's match.

Both seem marginalized in the lives of ordinary people.

There is a huge hunger for say, the Teaching Company stuff on almost anything, but Adult-Ed classes from most Universities/Colleges/Community Colleges seem in little demand.

Bill said...

I believe Ireland was relatively literate (in Irish) in Tudor times, despite the disruption caused by English invasions. Norway had its troubles, too - it was under Danish control and the Norwegian language was (I believe) in disfavour. But how much is known about relative levels of literacy?

-graham asher


The Norwegians still can't figure out how to write their own language. They have nynorsk, bokmal, etc. But the Swedes and Danes did have a history of encouraging something approaching universal education through the Lutheran Church. Norwegian, Danish and Swedish are not really separate languages so much as Scandinavian dialects, so there wasn't much of a language barrier between them.

If you want a better example than McClosky offered, check out the history of literacy in Estonia, which was under Swedish rule from the 16th-18th centuries. Literacy in Estonia was not widespread until the late 19th century.

The statement by McCloskey that his (sorry, can't wish away that Y chromosome) Norwegian ancestors were reading by the late 16th century seems a bit optimistic to me. Unless he is descended solely from clergymen, they probably were mainly illiterate. However, therein lies the difference. McCloskey's assertion is a rhetorical sleight-of-hand, because in both Ireland and Norway the large majority of the population was rural at that time, and outside of big towns and cities it was only priests and ministers who read extensively, and Irish priests did not have (legitimate) kids. So, yes, it is likely that at least one of his ancestors from Hordaland was literate, but that doesn't mean that all the people there were much better off than Irish in that regard.

Marc said...

This goes to show you how deranged the Academy is. In most places a Trans-sexual would be considered a clownish joke. Not worthy of serious consideration on anything.

As someone who had Gender Identity Disorder (GID) as a kid and can still remember how confusing, bizarre, and upsetting it was to feel like something that I was clearly not, I can't let this slide. Transexuals are people who happen to have something seriously askew with their brains and, as such, are more deserving of our sympathy than our ridicule.

If a kid is born with hydrocephalus, would you ridicule him as a clownish freak not to be taken seriously because his head is too big? Of course not. Laying aside the issue of autogynephalic transexuals, let's say they find a biological cause of GID. Let's say it is, basically, the result of some subtle developmental defect over which the individual has no control. Would you still look at transexuals as clowns?

Anonymous said...

Steve:I am offended by you referring to the operation Deirdre had as a "man having his private parts chopped off"! When a man decides to have sex-reassignment surgery,it should be referred to by its proper name: A "taikadichotomy".Which is usually followed up by: an "addapusstomy". Women who choose surgery undergo an "addadichtomy". Hope I cleared things up!---Trent Lott

David said...

let's say they find a biological cause of GID ["Gender Identity Disorder"]

Let's say global warming is causing by hot air from people's mouths. Is it now time for the government to compel everyone to use sign language?

We should act on the basis of evidence rather than on the basis of speculation and "let's say" arguments.

There is more evidence that gender confusion is a psychological disorder than there is evidence that it is a biological disorder.

Rob said...

Shorter David: yeah I like feeling superior. I has a penis! And nothing else going for me.

Marc, not to get too personal, but did you grow up in fundamentalist home? It seems many transpeople are basically gays who can't stand the social stigma.

Marc said...

We should act on the basis of evidence rather than on the basis of speculation and "let's say" arguments.

Fair enough.

There is more evidence that gender confusion is a psychological disorder than there is evidence that it is a biological disorder.

From what I've read, there is evidence that it is rooted in physical differences in the brain. Now that I think about it, it's quite possible that my thinking on this is rooted partially in my own experience. I "snapped out of it" as I was going through puberty, and I always kind of assumed that physiological changes were to credit for that, given the timing. On the other hand, if it were purely a psychological disorder, surely there would be some treatment for it that didn't involve surgery.

Regardless of whether it has its roots in biology or some environmental trauma, my point that people with GID deserve sympathy, not contempt, stands.

David said...

marc,

Sympathy, in a political context, too often gets translated into a transfer of power, i.e., into "rights" (enforceable by law). We should demonstrate our sympathy for people who are suffering from disorders by having no sympathy whatsoever for the disorders - by curing the disorders. Since we've referred to physical disorders of the brain, which best shows sympathy toward the autistic: curing autism, or making autism a "right" and legal deference to autistics qua autistic a duty? Examine the history of the "Deaf" (capital D) movement - whose members fight curing infants who are deaf - to see where "sympathy" can lead politically when it is misplaced.

David said...

I sympathize with Van Gogh. I do not approve or sympathize with his cutting off his ear; and I find the results of such self-mutilation repugnant in the specifically Kassian sense.