the deplorable Ronald Fisher

Cambridge is posthumously canceling the great statistician.  Nothing notable about that.  Let me draw your attention to a few points in the linked article.

Other academic institutions are engaged in similar discussions. University College London has re-labelled buildings named after two other, perhaps even more prominent eugenicists of the late 19th and early 20th century, Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. The point is not to denigrate their achievements in areas where recognition is due – Pearson established a range of statistical methods that, like Fisher’s, are still in use today.

Weird.  It’s as if none of the founders of the science of statistics believed in racial egalitarianism.

The author continues

The point is, any memorial to racists and eugenicists “creates an unwelcoming environment for many in our community”, as Michael Arthur, provost of UCL, has rightly said. The right way to understand them and their ideas is through a properly contextualised display in a museum, not through an uncommented memorial that conceals more than it reveals.

Memorials in the end are less about the past than about the present and the future. The questions institutions need to ask of themselves are, what contribution do the memorials they display make to building a future that is democratic and inclusive and encourages all their members to respect one another’s identity? And what should they do with those that don’t?

Note the dishonesty.  The goal here, of course, is to make a less inclusive academic community, one where everyone knows that dissent will not be tolerated.

Also, journalists used to write slanted articles without explicitly tipping their hands, as the author does with “rightly”.  Who is going to be convinced by that word of endorsement who wasn’t already?  It’s so much more effective to control who gets the first and last word in, or even to fall back on “some say”.  The earlier part of the article is biased against Fisher, but only in the end does it start dictating to readers what our beliefs should be.  I think the goal now is less to convince readers than to protect writers.  In any opinion or news piece, there must be no question where the writer stands.  Otherwise, he opens himself to attack.  This is presumably why I keep finding articles, some of which are otherwise quite interesting and well-written, with bizarre out-of-place insults of Donald Trump thrown in.  Years ago, I was reading a book review of Thomas Nagel’s “Mind and Cosmos”, and the reviewer made the shocking claim that it was Nagel’s own fault other philosophers had snubbed his book, because at one point he mentioned intelligent design without endorsing it but without attacking it either.  Neutral description is no longer allowed, even in philosophical circles.  Look how they went after Scott Alexander for writing a refutation of neo-reaction because he tried to first provide a fair description of it.

3 Responses

  1. Trying to look at motivation, this is working towards an obliteration of history, of the past.

    (As I’ve commented here before, eugenics was almost universal among mid 20th century intellectuals on the left; Roman Catholics being the major exception.)

    As for the tone of the article; I find it makes sense to think of the ruling establishment as being continually engaged in an elaborate exercise in persuading each other that they are benignly motivated; that they are Not merely short termist and selfish careerists, obediently serving evil masters.

    It takes some doing; but so long and real Christianity is absent or feeble, it seems to be long term possible for most people to work diligently to implement the developing global totalitarianism – while living the lie that they are agents of freedom, justice and peace.

  2. At the cultural level, the erasure of eugenicists is just an excuse to erase intelligent white males. A century ago, almost all intelligent whites were in some sense eugenicists. I personally think it had much more to do with the fact that they owned (and wagered on) horses than it did with social Darwinism. They knew that a thoroughbred would beat a mustang every time. There were hard eugenicists and soft eugenicists, but almost no one of intelligence championed indiscriminate breeding. In any case, if your goal is to erase the past, you must vilify a behavior or attitude that was nearly ubiquitous in the past.

    At the biological level, this seems like a conspiracy to breed a physically degraded underclass. Everyone nowadays with the intelligence to know that “blood will tell” will disavow eugenics publicly and practice eugenics privately. Charles Murray has proven assortative mating in our professional classes; and this is, of course, eugenic so far as the family is concerned. Meanwhile the proles who actually swallow the lie and breed indiscriminately tend to become an ever more distinct proletarian underclass.

    You rightly point out the increasing frequency with which “rightly” is wrongly inserted into reportage. It is one of the many ways a “reporter” winks to his readers to indicate which side of a dispute is “correct.”

  3. It’s also dishonest to equate eugenics with “racism”. Not that the eugenicists were particularly PC on race, but when they talked about “the unfit” it’s much more likely that they had lower class whites in mind. That is, their main bigotry was the same as that of their contemporary critics.

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