Friday 10 June 2011

The Satoshi Kanazawa Affair and Vaclav Havel's Poster Test



"The manager of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!

"Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world?...

"I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient"



Dennis Mangan said...

The statement from EP Journal is shameful, and I agree with your interpretation.

Curt Dunkel said...

Given your history I would like to see your comment on the letter's having it both ways with peer review. First, peer review good, then peer review bad. Or is it the other way around. The letter is deplorable.

"We have previously pursued the usual scientific channels open to us to counteract what in our view is Kanazawa‟s poor quality science by reviewing and rejecting his papers from scientific journals","Kanazawa's work has been criticised on scientific grounds numerous times in peer-reviewed journals" should read we liked the paper when we reviewed it, but that was a blind review and if we knew it was him we would have rejected it.

My guess is that he will get rejected by editors right away now, circumventing blind peer review.

Then we get this. "The peer review process is not perfect and appears to have failed when dealing with Kanazawa‟s poor quality work." But, I thought the criticism were in peer-reviewed journals.

Which is it, peer review good or peer review bad?

Pat Hannagan said...

Our PM Julia Gillard won't take time to meet the visiting Czech PM Vaclav Klaus.

She has put her sign up in her window too, though it simply states "I am afraid".

Bruce Charlton said...

@CD - You have spotted that mainstream modern scientists are incoherent about peer review, when they not actively wrong.


The fact is that many of the signatories (some of whom I know personally and and whose work I value) have themselves published seriously non-PC work; work which means they could easily be in Kanazawa's position tomorrow or next week, at the whim of the press or anyone else who wishes to denounce them.

But one difference betyween Kanazawa and his critics is that he writes clearly and explicitly and in public what they write in a disguised code in private.

The letter attacking Kanazawa is motivated by the fear that his work will allow outsiders to recognize that evolutionary psychology is mostly unacceptable to PC: Kanazawa is seen as directly career-threatening, endangering the discipline.

So Kanazawa is a sacrificial victim offer to propitiate the hungry monster of PC.

Kanazawa has been tied to a stake by his colleagues with this message around his neck:

"Take him, eat him - spit out the bones, you are welcome; but please leave us alone!"

Bruce Charlton said...

@PH - it does not surprise me that politicians will use any excuse not to be in the same room as Vaclav Havel.

It must be deeply humbling for some of the most despicable persons on the planet to be in the presence of such rare courage and virtue.

I imagine that modern politicians would hate being made to feel humble - such armoured pride, habitual deceit and casual destructiveness must surely find the sensation of humility to be merely humiliating.

Bruce Charlton said...

Alex comments that: " I am aware that political correctness trumps scientific explanation whenever there's a contest between them."

But I am not going to publish any comments discussing the quality of Kanazawa's work. That is not relevant here.

All I need say is that (speaking as a professional evolutionary psychology) Kanazawa has done some work which I have found useful.

Several of the frightened scapegoating evolutionary psychologists who signed the letter sacrificing Kanazawa have also done work which I have found useful.

So, for me, this is not a question of the usefulness of work; it is first a question of the integrity of science, and beyond that of the basic moral principles of human society.

Political correctness is evil and totalitarian, and - whether we can do anything about it, which is doubtful - we need to be clear about this fact.

This letter against Kanazawa is a clear and pure example of totalitarian repression (ie repression of the soul) of precisely the type seen in the later era of the Soviet Empire, as experienced and described by Vaclav Havel.

The rest is merely a distraction.