Open Thread, 03/10/2020

In ancient Republican Rome a dictator was appointed for a fixed time for a fixed task. Lucius Cornelius Sulla was one of those dictators. If you haven’t, I recommend Sulla: The Last Republican.

locStra: Fast analysis of regional/global stratification in whole genome sequencing (WGS) studies.

Their Campaign Jobs Just Dried Up. And on Venmo, the Drinks Are Flowing. This is interesting because of who writes ane edits at The New York Times.

Being Called a Cult Is One Thing, Being Blamed for an Epidemic Is Quite Another. 50% of people in South Korea are not religious (no religious affiliation).

Top Saudi Royal Family Members Detained. MBS is a high-roller, risking the wrath of his extended family.

I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me. If you read some American history this is patently obvious through any casual reading of the 1619 Project. It’s a piece of propaganda with factual themes.

India’s Wine Country: A Charming Work in Progress.

Controlling for Human Population Stratification in Rare Variant Association Studies.

Episode of The Insight on Ancient Egyptian Genetics. More positive reviews, please!

Neglected Quaternary legacy of biodiversity for the Mountains of Southwest China. Important for paleoanthropology.

I blurbed Libby Copeland’s The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are. It’s a good read, and I do recommend it sincerely if you are interested in this topic.

For Seoul’s Poor, Class Strife in ‘Parasite’ Is Daily Reality.

Adaptive potential and evolution in new environmental conditions.

I’ve Been Fired. If You Value Academic Freedom, That Should Worry You. The headline reminds me of a Neoplatonic philosopher in 500 A.D. writing “I’ve been persecuted. If you value the old gods that should worry you.” “Academic freedom” is a 20th-century concept that persists as a shadow. It is basically a dead-letter. The intellectual project exists to serve power, so power one must become for it to serve you. You will never out-argue your jailer, they are always correct. Make them your prisoner, that is the only way to freedom and liberty.

The Pied Pipers of the Dirtbag Left Want to Lead Everyone to Bernie Sanders. I listen to Chapo. They’re funny, if a bit repetitive and unfair. The author of the piece, Nellie Bowles, is a scion of California’s landed aristocracy. There is a class war going on. Just know which side everyone is on…

Worse Than a Crime, a Bumble. tfw IRL friend falls into the Claremont circle…

Genomic islands of differentiation in a rapid avian radiation have been driven by recent selective sweeps.

0

15 thoughts on “Open Thread, 03/10/2020

  1. Class War: More like a struggle between “overproduced elites” a la Turchin, no? With Chapoesque white ‘highly educated’ elites unsuccessfully attempting to rally&discipline the polyglot urban/minority poor into a “progressive vanguard” ::versus:: the white revanchist elites who have successfully allied with the evangelical rural white poor. If it were class war pure and simple then perhaps coulda-shoulda-woulda have forged a long-postulated right/left working-poor alliance cohering around common immiseration issues. But that moment has passed, with Chomsky now bemoaning the missed opportunity for that class alliance, and much credit for that failed working-poor alliance is due to the anti-strategic uncompromising perfectionism of the obstreperous Chapoesques who have proved themselves incapable of winning even the left-tending black vote, much less winning the vote of the ravaged right-leaning heartlanders.

    New York Times: I subscribe, but yes corrupting itself with facile virtue signaling. But is it worth it to also buy a Wall Street Journal subscription? The Times still does retain some spread of viewpoints and of course maintains a host of actual writers in actual field offices around the world. And do I observe that the WSJ also hasn’t seen fit to grant Razib its forum?

    1+
  2. Regarding the “elite overproduction”: the main page of NYT is a good example. Its Op-Ed section seems to be taking more and more of its total area. So many smart omniscient voices who know exactly what’s wrong with the world. Same with many other papers. For this reason, I read my American news mainly from Reuters. Maybe it has some bias (which newslet wouldn’t?), but at least it’s not full of pundits and their “Why …?” and “How …?” columns.

    For contrast, there is a nice Russian magazine called Siberian Times. I don’t care so much whether it is a part of some Putinophile media-conglomerate, but at least its subject matter is often fresh, straight from the permafrost.

    1+
  3. The Politico article seems to me to be a very fair critique of both The 1619 Project and its critics. It’s not clear to me after reading some, not all, of both sides, that the errors in the project (and yes there are some unnecessary errors) are fundamentally important. I’d agree with the ending statement of the Politico article, “It is easy to correct facts; it is much harder to correct a worldview that consistently ignores and distorts the role of African Americans and race in our history in order to present white people as all powerful and solely in possession to the keys of equality, freedom and democracy. At least that is the corrective history toward which the 1619 Project is moving, if imperfectly.”

    0
  4. brian,

    the fixation on overall ideology/paradigm as opposed to particular *details of fact* is a tendency among nazis and communists. basically, if facts are wrong, that’s OK, the ‘big picture’ is what matters. it basically makes dialogue and exchange totally irrelevant, and it’s all power, as ideologies become sealed off.

    instead of moving beyond one biased ideology, 1619 proposes to place in its stead another one. who cares if the facts are hilariously implausible and offbase? it’s the ‘bigger picture’ that matters.

    4+
  5. correct a worldview that consistently ignores and distorts the role of African Americans and race in our history

    It was slavery and the consequences that are important threads in American history, not black people per se.

    That said, I don’t know of any reason why black people and their uplifters shouldn’t have the right to re-write history and place themselves at the center.

    0
  6. That said, I don’t know of any reason why black people and their uplifters shouldn’t have the right to re-write history and place themselves at the center.

    Because it’s not true?

    1+
  7. @Roger Sweeny

    Because it’s not true?

    It is true.

    Every “people” have the right to their own history, myths, and legends.

    How could it be otherwise?

    0
  8. 1. If most of the facts are correct and line up to a different presentation of history than what was commonly accepted, then yes it is the big picture that matters, or at least what matters the most. (I recognize that professional historians in the last 20 years already have a more nuanced view, although the Politico article does a good job of pointing out the problems that the critics have had in their own work over the years.)

    2. Mistakes also matter, even if they don’t change the overall conclusion. It especially weighs against the project that it asserted the American Revolution was in part to protect slavery (a statement that’s 95% incorrect, not 100% incorrect) even when warned that was wrong. The broader aim of showing how little-to-nothing in the Revolution was done to help slaves while the Brits made token and belated efforts to sabotage slavery among the rebels, is more important and it’s also correct. Still, mistakes and unforced mistakes matter.

    3. Whether the authors correct this mistake will tell a lot about their intentions. If they won’t, and especially if they make things worse, then they fall more closely into Razib’s category of ideologues than journalists doing imperfect and occasionally biased historical journalism. We all have biases, the question is how much we do to fight our biases.

    4. There was one other mistake I’m aware of in the project, over-emphasizing the role of slavery in the economy. This is mistaken reliance on a historian, AFAIK not one that they were told was wrong beforehand. It should also be corrected. That historian apparently made a number of other mistakes elsewhere, but those other mistakes don’t tell you much about the project’s accuracy.

    5. The project asserted that African-Americans fought for their interests mostly alone without white allies. This is too squishy a statement to be weighed right or wrong, but I think it was wrong as a matter of journalism to assert it’s simply right without presenting another viewpoint. I think it was a good thing though to help people consider the horror that our country brought on millions of people who spent their lives in slavery without any white allies that they ever saw.

    6. Any other mistakes?

    0
  9. iffen: “It was slavery and the consequences that are important threads in American history, not black people per se.”

    Well, “black people” (or, more exactly, the blacks-descendents-of-slaves) are the “consequences” (or one of them).

    0
  10. @ Miguel

    Well, “black people” (or, more exactly, the blacks-descendents-of-slaves) are the “consequences” (or one of them).

    There must be a bad connection. That’s what I said.

    0
  11. There was one other mistake I’m aware of in the project, over-emphasizing the role of slavery in the economy.

    this is factually an essential problem with the 1619 narrative, which extends TNC’s ideas (which are predicated on the material centrality of slavery). it’s a plausible idea, but it turns out the *big fact* of the american economy is the shift starting in new england from being a commodity economy to manufacturing one. the south progressively became more marginalized economically compared to its cultural prestige which was ‘locked-in’ relatively early…

    2+
  12. iffen: “It was slavery and the consequences that are important threads in American history, not black people per se.”

    The words “and the consequences” have no limitations on them, and so anything in America today is in part a consequence of 250 years of slavery for millions of people. To that extent, I don’t see much meaning in the statement. Kind of like saying “It was the settlement of the North American East Coast and its consequences that are important threads in American history, not the colonists per se.”

    If OTOH the statement is meant to read “African-Americans who aren’t slaves have not constituted an important thread in American history,” then I think it’s clearly wrong, even for the antebellum era. Hopefully that wasn’t the intent.

    More broadly, slavery doesn’t have to “be” the central feature of the antebellum economy to matter economically. It certainly was “a” central feature for the broader economy, as well as the central feature of the cotton economies dominating most of the Deep South. Overstatement is unfortunate and should be corrected, but it’s not a fundamental error especially where understatement was the rule in the history taught to children (especially in the Deep South and even today).

    0
  13. There is more than one aspect to consider when discussing the 1619 Project.

    One is the consternation expressed by some people that the NYT would publish this project. To those people I would point out that, in addition to publishing addendums to correct articles from the left side of the front page, something we all expect, this paper also publishes “corrections” to opinions on the right side of the page. That’s all I have to say about that.

    The 2nd point is the unfair and unwarranted criticism directed at Nikole Hannah-Jones. I don’t know how she could have been any clearer in explaining the purpose and composition of the project, and for whom the project was created and to whom it is directed. To criticize her for doing what she said she was going to do under the guise of criticizing her and her co-writers for not “writing history” the way that you want it written is agin the rules, to say the least.

    Arguably, “The” fault line in America is the black/white divide. Arguably, the main reason that it is the fault line is not because they are two different races, but because of the existence of the institution of slavery in our past.

    but it’s not a fundamental error especially where understatement was the rule in the history taught to children (especially in the Deep South and even today).

    If we want to teach our children about the heroics of the Lost Cause and the triumph of Redemption that’s our business, not yours. Just like it is Nikole Hannah-Jones’ business if she wants to teach black children the history in her 1619 Project. She is entitled and we are entitled. And one more note on the project. Nikole Hannah-Jones was repulsed by her father’s display of the American flag as a demonstration and affirmation of his patriotism. If her project enables more black Americans to have those same feelings that her father had, I count that as being a very good thing.

    It is pointless to argue “history” against propaganda.

    0

Comments are closed.