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Another interesting take on evolutionary psychology or
sociobiology.  I guess they just can't unload this baggage no
matter how hard they try.

-- Ivan
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CULTUREBOX
Evolutionary Psychology's Anti-Semite
Judith Shulevitz
Posted Monday, Jan. 24, 2000, at 7:35 a.m.


What scares people about the trial
[http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/irving/0,2759,121797,00.html] going
on in London over whether Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt
libeled Holocaust denier David Irving by calling him a liar
is that British law requires Lipstadt to show that her
statement was true. If she can't prove beyond a doubt that
the Holocaust took place, Irving might win. That would be a
devastating blow to historical accuracy if it happens, but
Culturebox thinks it won't. There's a lot of truth on
Lipstadt's side, and very little on Irving's. Plus Lipstadt
has one of the best lawyers in London and is planning to call
several heavyweight scholars to testify. Irving, on the other
hand, is acting as his own lawyer and so far has named very
few witnesses and experts, none of whom anyone has ever heard
of.

If Irving doesn't appear to be taking the necessary steps to
win, why else might he have brought the lawsuit? For
publicity, is the obvious answer--to air his own views, as
well as those of his witnesses. And that's what scares
Culturebox. Irving's claim that there were no gas chambers at
Auschwitz is bad enough, but since it bears directly on the
question of his truthfulness, it will be refuted on the spot.
Irving's experts, on the other hand, are being called to
testify on issues tangential to the case, and their twisted
theories could well go unanswered. One expert, John Fox, the
former editor of a British Holocaust journal, will probably
argue that Lipstadt and the Jews are trying to shut down free
discussion of the Holocaust. Irving's other expert is an
American professor named Kevin MacDonald, whose ideas about
Jews have almost no relevance to the case but represent the
broadest, ugliest, and most vicious anti-Semitism passing for
scholarship in this country today.

We know more or less what McDonald will say on the stand,
because he recently put a copy of his written statement to
the British court on the Internet. (Click here
[http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lm&list=h-antisemitism]
to go to the discussion group where he posted it. At the
drop-down dialogue box, select postings for January 2000,
then click on a posting titled "MacDonald's statement in the
Irving/Lipstadt trial," dated Jan. 18.) The bulk of
MacDonald's testimony will be a summary of his three books
about Jews: A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a
Group Evolutionary Strategy (Praeger, 1994); Separation and
Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism
(Praeger, 1998); and The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary
Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century
Intellectual and Political Movements (Praeger, 1998). Here is
what he says in them--in Culturebox's words, not his. (If you
want to read MacDonald's own summary, clink on the link
above. To read a fuller account of his books, go to his Web
page [http://www.csulb.edu/~kmacd/].)

MacDonald's central thesis is that Judaism is best understood
not as a religion but as a blueprint for an experiment in
eugenics--a "group evolutionary strategy," he calls
it--designed to maximize a single trait: intelligence. For
thousands of years, he says, Jews have separated themselves
from their neighbors, choosing to confine themselves to a
closed society with strict rules against marrying outside the
group. They have lived by policies of extreme group loyalty
and obedience to rabbinical authority, which served to
maintain their racial purity; and they practiced
low-birth-rate, high-investment parenting, which is the royal
road to a high group I.Q. They conferred social status (which
brings along with it the most desirable women) on men
according to their brilliance--indeed, says MacDonald, study
of the Talmud was nothing more than a casuistic exercise
meant to weed out the dim. Eventually, their highly developed
genes for mental and verbal acuity, as well as their social
aggression (also carefully bred-in), gave the Jews powerful
tools that enable them to dominate neighboring ethnic groups
in the endless war of all against all for food and resources.


In his second book, MacDonald explains why Jews have
encountered so much anti-Semitism for so many years: It was
justified. Gentiles reacted to Jews the way any group of
animals on the veldt would when confronted with a group of
superior animals likely to challenge them successfully for
control of the available resources--they tried to destroy the
Jews before the Jews destroyed them. Even the most extreme
forms of anti-Semitism, such as Nazism, can be seen not as
aberrations but as "a mirror image" of Judaism, with its
emphasis on creating a master race. (MacDonald does not deny
that the Holocaust occurred, but he appears to think it was
rooted in an immutable biological chain reaction that the
Jews set off.) Faced with the hatred of gentiles, Jews have
often resorted to a "strategy of crypsis"--that is, they have
pretended not to be Jews. Do the Jews themselves realize what
they're up to? MacDonald goes back and forth on this point;
one moment he'll chastise Jews for believing their own
religious rationalizations, the next he'll explain that they
can't help it--they're genetically "prone to self-deception."

In his third book, MacDonald takes on what he calls the
"Jewish" intellectual movements of the 20th century, from
psychoanalysis to Marxism to "Boasian anthropology" and "the
Frankfurt School of social research." His argument is that
the ideas of secular Jewish intellectuals are merely a device
to promote tolerance of the Jewish presence by gentiles--so
that the Jews can more efficiently pursue their nefarious
agenda of systematic breeding and control of resources. A
good example of this is cultural anthropology: Its Jewish
founder, Franz Boas, shifted the focus of anthropology away
from Darwinism and eugenicism and toward the study of culture
in order to bring an end to the criticism of Jews as a race.
Even if an intellectual movement (such as liberalism) was
founded by non-Jews, the minute Jews join it, they'll take it
over, because their ancestral history predisposes them to
form "highly cohesive groups": "Intellectual activity is like
any other human endeavor: Cohesive groups outcompete
individualist strategies." Ideas that MacDonald identifies as
Jewish, he invariably finds to be not only subtly
self-interested but also repellent by any ordinary (which is
to say gentile) moral or intellectual standard. Freud
"conceptualized himself as a leader in a war on gentile
culture." When Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin
expressed doubts about sociobiology back in the 1970s, their
approach exemplified the kind of "skeptical thrust of Jewish
intellectual activity" that results in Jewish "nihilistic
anti-science."

Toward the end of the third book, MacDonald lays out his
solution for restoring what he calls "parity" between the
Jews and other ethnic groups: systematic discrimination
against Jews in college admission and employment and heavy
taxation of Jews "to counter the Jewish advantage in the
possession of wealth."

It is not a coincidence that MacDonald spends much of his time
in his third book attacking the enemies of Darwinism and
sociobiology--or evolutionary psychology, as it is usually
called today. MacDonald identifies himself as an evolutionary
psychologist, and indeed, most prominent figures in the field
would at least know his name. But, remarkably, to
Culturebox's knowledge, no American evolutionary psychologist
has publicly objected to his work. This is not to say that it
has been celebrated. A man in his 50s, MacDonald is still an
associate professor of psychology at a third-rate school,
California State University in Long Beach. [Note from
Culturebox two days later: She was wrong about this. He is in
fact a full professor. My apologies for the error.] But much
more important to an academic than his title is his standing
among his peers, and there MacDonald is on firmer ground:
He's the secretary, archivist, newsletter editor, and
executive board member of the professional organization the
Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES), to which the
majority of America's leading evolutionary psychologists
belong. He edits a small journal called Population and
Environment. And the three books summarized above appeared in
a series edited by Seymour Iztkoff, a well-known if extremely
conservative scholar of the genetics of intelligence at Smith
College.

Are MacDonald's peers aware of what he's writing in the name
of a field long accused of fostering--unfairly, many of them
would say; by Jews, MacDonald would say--sexist and racist
stereotypes? Do other evolutionary psychologists have an
opinion on MacDonald? Culturebox called several well-known
members of HBES, specifying in her voice messages that she
was writing an article about MacDonald. Few returned her
phone calls, but those who did said they'd never read his
Jewish trilogy. Two leading scholars said they had read
papers of his on other subjects and found them "muddled";
one academic said she had been forced to reject a
paper by MacDonald on child development for an
anthology she was editing. When Culturebox described the
contents of MacDonald's books to them, they expressed extreme
shock and said he contradicted the basic principles of
contemporary evolutionary psychology. "The notion that Jews
are a genetically distinct group doesn't make it on the basis
of modern population genetics," said John Tooby, the
president of HBES and a professor of anthropology at the
University of California at Santa Barbara. Also, he said,
"group-selection theory"--the idea that natural selection can
occur at the level of a group (such as a bunch of Jews) as
opposed to individuals--was debunked in the 1960s, and though
some scholars are working to bring group-selection theory
back, it remains a minority view.

Not everyone in the field is as critical as Tooby, however. A
review praising MacDonald's first book appeared in
the journal Ethology and Sociobiology four years ago
(the publication was in the process of being taken over
by HBES at the time); the author, John Hartung, a professor
at the State University of New York and a former secretary of
HBES, concluded that the Holocaust, "the most enormous act of
reactive racism ever perpetrated," had been misrepresented as
an unjustified evil so as to cow non-Jews into looking the
other way while Jews "purloin" land in Israel. According to
Lingua Franca, which covered the incident, the only public
reaction to Hartung's review was a "tepid" letter by the
journal's editor saying he didn't realize that it could be
offensive, and an outright defense of Hartung by HBES's
then-president, Dick Alexander. As for MacDonald, the author
of the book that inspired these remarks, there was little
visible effort at the time to refute him or to challenge
the appropriateness of having him serve in so many key
positions.

On the contrary. MacDonald thanks several prominent
evolutionary psychologists in the acknowledgments to his
trilogy. Among them is David Sloane Wilson, the leading
advocate of group-selection theory. What exactly these
scholars did for MacDonald is unclear. (Wilson did not
return Culturebox's phone calls.) But MacDonald appears to
have given them an opportunity to have their names
suppressed, because there are other scholars he says he could
have identified but didn't: "Regrettably," he writes, they
"have asked that their names not appear here."

Can we blame the field of evolutionary psychology for Kevin
MacDonald? Intellectually speaking, no. Evolutionary
psychology is a fairly new endeavor trying to overcome an
extremely disturbing past, and you can't make serious
scholars accountable for all the discredited notions their
peers cling to. But we can hold specific academics
responsible--Itzkoff comes to mind--and we can ask what on
earth the officers of HBES were thinking when they allowed
MacDonald to become such an active member of their
organization. If the response to Hartung's review is any
indication, they would probably say that they don't believe
in censoring their members. But it is the job of a scholarly
association not just to foster discussion but also to police
the boundaries of its discipline. When this evolutionary
psychologist and HBES officer testifies in the Irving trial,
he is bound to get his counterparts in a lot of trouble. In
many ways, they deserve it.
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