Faculty, Department of Anthropology
AUTHOR

Jonathan Marks

G. G. Simpson story #4



There's a new "species" of orangutan.  I hope it's very successful, because I love orangutans. But of course there is no discovery of a new species here; what's new is the recognition of between-group differences.  In other words, we have a new highly endangered species of orangutan, and the old highly endangered species now has 800 fewer members than it had the other day. What it really means is that we have changed what we mean by "species" as primatology has become...

Annoying books, cont'd: Matt Ridley's "The Evolution of Everything"


Matt Ridley's book, The Evolution of Everything, answers the question, “What if everything in the universe were to be understood as differentially-replicating elements, whose bestest alternatives have been tested in free competition and have thrived to produce all the good stuff in the world?” The first few chapters deal primarily with the evolution of the natural order, and the remaining dozen with the evolution of socio-cultural forms, and the big message is: Systems...

Epigenetics as epiphenomenal

               There is an interesting intellectual war going on right now, between scientist/author Siddhartha Mukherjee and molecular geneticists.  It was precipitated by Mukherjee’s recent article in The New Yorker on the wonderful world of epigenetics.
               Geneticist Jerry Coyne  objected stridently to the New Yorker...

Homo naledi shows how biological anthropology is not biology, and can't be, and shouldn't be


            I once read somewhere that the most interesting thing about human evolution is how everbody thinks they understand it.

            I suspect it's because everyone thinks they own a piece of it.  It's the story of where we came from, after all!  And not just any story of where we came from - it's the authoritative, scientific story.

            The authoritative origin...

Wade, weighed


            There are three interesting differences between Nicholas Wade’s new book A Troublesome Inheritance and The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray twenty years ago.  The first is that The Bell Curve really did try to make itself look like science.  Herrnstein was a real psychologist, and it was a big fat book with statistics and graphs.  And several critical volumes later, we know...

Who wants Charles Murray to speak, and why?

Some years ago, I wrote a broad critique of The Bell Curve, that old Social Darwinist psychology tome from 1994 by the hereditarian psychologist Richard Herrnstein and conservative political theorist Charles Murray. It was in a very nice collection edited by Besteman and Gusterson (who ought to be a law firm, but are actually cultural anthropologists), called Why America’s Top Pundits are Wrong.
             A few years later, Paul Erickson...

Brief review of Tom Wolfe's "The Kingdom of Speech"

I really wanted to like this book, for the simple reason that any book that the obnoxious fruifly geneticist Jerry Coyne is that contempuous of, can't be all bad. But sadly, it really is all bad.
Tom Wolfe's new book is indeed as bad as advertised, but it isn't creationist. His big idea is taken from linguist Daniel Everett (Language: The Cultural Tool), that language isn't a biological autapomorphy, like eyebrows or valgus knees, but a discovery or invention, like bifacial handaxes....

The time Simpson sounded like Carlin

          G. G. Simpson loved words, and used them exceedingly well. He kept the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary behind his writing desk. He also subscribed to the updates that the OED regularly published.           One day when I arrived, he was particularly gleeful because he had gotten a volume of the updates, which included slang usages. He showed me the book, which was the volume S.       ...

Nazis love Nicholas Wade. Shouldn’t that be a problem for him?


          The nutters at The American Renaissance are promoting A Troublesome Inheritance like mad.  Likewise at The Occidental Observer.  According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,
Wade’s book has been publicly endorsed by former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, championed by noted white supremacists like Jared Taylor, John Derbyshire, and Steve Sailer, and tirelessly promoted on the neo-Nazi forum...

Science imitates art?

Once you deflect the accusation that a cabal of Jewish commie anthropologists is stifling discourse on human variation and that there really are just, like, four kinds of people – there really is an interesting question lurking behind all the nonsense.  Namely, if there really are, say, four  kinds of people out there, then how come nobody noticed it until 1684?  That’s the year that François Bernier, French physician and traveler, anonymously published...
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