HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH William Saletan over a decade later admits that, oh yeah, “race” science is not science. I read his original Bell Curve post back then and was so alarmed that I stuck it in my dissertation as a footnote on the perils of oversciencing society. And have since refused to read a single fucking word by that man.
His mea culpa is decent, but it still trucks in the dubious tendency of science discourse to delegitimize other ways of learning and knowing.
No, data aren’t racist. But using racial data to make genetic arguments isn’t scientific. The world isn’t better off if you run ahead of science, waving the flag of innate group differences. And if everyone is misunderstanding your attempts to simultaneously link and distinguish race and IQ, perhaps you should take the hint. The problem isn’t that people are too dumb to understand you. It’s that you’re not understanding the social consequences of your words. When you drag race into the IQ conversation, you bring heat, not light. Your arguments for scientific candor will be more sound and more persuasive in a race-neutral discussion.
I guess he’s writing to other sciency people and uses argumentation that may reach them better than, say, reminding them that history and sociology also exist. But I’d prefer a stronger interrogation of society’s reliance on overreaching sciencization. You don’t stop AFTER completing your specious research to wonder how it may affect historically oppressed people. You ask yourself when you’re setting up the damn study if science is even the right way to answer your question.
Similarly, 24 year-old Elizabeth, you don’t ask AFTER writing a whole dissertation on white guys and power if it was maybe a good idea to stake your academic career on a tortured genius dude whose depiction of women made you uncomfortable. You should have read Mary Karr before you started and asked yourself: If a person’s response to The Liar’s Club is not “How can I write something this volcanic?” but “How can I pull my best Richard III, kill this queen’s husband, and convince her I’m king?” maybe such a person doesn’t deserve your scholarly attention.
But hindsight is 70/2000 I guess. Staking my career on David Foster Wallace worked out as well for me as asking white dude bosses for promotions. Across careers, I remain unpromoted.
Now the #metooing of Junot Díaz and David Foster Wallace reminds us that our love of tortured boy geniuses costs us; now we slap our foreheads that maybe if a dude author writes about dude characters treating women like shit, it’s because the author treats actual women like shit; now with our limited times, budgets and energies: I dare you: Start reading women. Instead. Instead. Read women instead.
Also, pay more for the mineral sunscreen that makes you look ghostly. It turns out our chemical sunscreen has been killing coral.