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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  November 2002

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE November 2002

Subject:

Re: Sociobiology in the Nation Magazine

From:

Ian Pitchford <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 4 Nov 2002 19:38:18 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (120 lines)

Louis Proyect wrote:

Social claims based on brain research have long been used to distance
privileged groups from those judged to be less worthy. As Gould
(1980:153, 1981: 52-69) shows, nineteenth-century scientists such as
Morton and Broca looked for and found "objective" evidence to prove that
whites had larger brains than Indians and Blacks. Morton, for example,
believed he was being objective and scientific, but his unconscious
biases were so powerful that they influenced his results (Gould
1981:69).
_______

REPLY: This has nothing to do with Wilson, Dawkins, or Pinker - incidentally
the latter includes in "The Blank Slate" many examples of quotations that have
been made up by critics.

I also didn't realize that anybody still believed the Gould/Morton story. Here
are the comments of two paleoanthropologists C. Loring Brace and Ralph Holloway
posted to evolutionary-psychology

[24 July 2000]

(1) There is no evidence whatsover that Dr. Samuel Morton packed seeds
into white crania more forcefully than he did with other groups. That
Morton might have been a racist is very likely, but that he fudged the
data from his collection is not evident.
(2) There is a paper by John Michael, published in either the 1987 or 1988
volume of Current Anthropology in which Michael, as an undergraduate,
re-examined the Morton Collection while at Penn, and found that indeed,
Morton's rankings were correct. Gould was contacted (the full story is
available from Alan Mann, a physical anthropologist there), but refused to
comment taking the condescending position that he had written what could
only be the last word on Morton's Collection. (As an aside, I have spoken
with many students, graduate and undergraduate and colleagues in
sociocultural and physical anthropology who believe that Gould actually
studied the Morton Collection. He never did, but only the published
accounts of Morton's. Which is fine, but the world out there has a
different impression than the real one).

The recent edition of Mismeasure makes no mention of Michael's study which
was brought to Gould's attention giving him ample opportunity to comment
in his new edition. I find it very difficult to swallow that opinion that
this was simply some simple oversight.

(3) The discussion by Gould on IQ, "g". factor anaysis, is simply
dismissive as if opined by god him(her)self without any attempt at
scholarship or reviewing of recent findings.

These examples are such a far cry from and contrast with "Ontogeney and
Phylogeny", that I have lost my respect and admiration for this openly
politicalization of areas of difficult research and complexity to
which he is simply blinded by both his politics and pretentiousness.

For fuller views, read the Rushton review of Mismeasure.


Ralph L. Holloway Dept. Anthropology
Columbia University
NY, NY 10027
212-854-4570
Fax= 212-854-7347
__________

[3rd June 2002]

> Before Gould becomes canonized, it would be useful if after reading his
> first "Mismeasure" edition, that one then read the short paper by John
> Michaels in Current Anthropology on a re-analysis of Morton's crania, I
> think 1987 or 1988, and then re-read Gould's most recent edition of
> "Mismeasure", and explain why, with Michaels having brought the paper to
> Gould's attention, there isn't the slightest attempt to modify his own
> mischaracterization and mismeasuring of Morton's analysis. Ditto for
> Broca's leaning on the scales.
>
> Sorry, but Gould was simply dishonest and I am tiring of the continual
> lauding of such dishonesty.
>
>
> Ralph L. Holloway
> Dept. Anthropology
> Columbia University
> NY, NY 10027
> 212-854-4570
> Fax= 212-854-7347
> Web Page www.columbia.edu/~rlh2
>

Amen to that, Ralph.  John S. Michael's paper appeared in Current
Anthropology in April, 1988.  Gould did acknowledge his mistake in a
chapter in Sandra Harding (ed.) The "Racial" Economy of Science: Toward a
Democratic Future (1993).  He noted that he had not gone to Morton's
original text but worked from a Xerox copy of Morton's chart and read the
mean for the African sample as 80 when the range was 84-98.  As he
admitted, "I never waw the inconsistency -- presumably because a low value
of 80 fit my hopes."  As he noted, "The reason for this error is
embarrasing" (footnote on p. 109).  Since he wrote so much on the history
of ideas and the history of science, he, of all people, should have known
better, but he was persistently susceptible to reflecting what Herbert
Butterfield called "Whig History," or "presentism," that is interperting
the outlook of the people of the past from the perspective of the values
of the present.

Loring Brace

_____________


Ian Pitchford PhD CBiol MIBiol
The Human Nature Review
http://human-nature.com/

Department of Psychiatry
Creighton University School of Medicine
3528 Dodge Street
Omaha, NE 68131, USA

Tel: 402.345.8828
Fax: 402.345.8815
http://medicine.creighton.edu/psych/

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