A Reader's Guide to Andrew Sullivan's Defense of Race Science

Oh, dear. America's favorite stoner blogger, Andrew Sullivan, is worried that "p.c. egalitarianism" has "strangled" "the study of intelligence." But what does that mean? Let us help you translate!

A million years ago, when the internet was just a gleam in Tina Brown's eye, Andrew Sullivan edited The New Republic, which was a Serious Magazine that had no time for your Liberal P.C. Dogma, such as "Race Is an Arbitrary and Unscientific Concept" or "Intelligence Is a Difficult Thing to Define, Let Alone Measure." As such, Sullivan gave a cover story to The Bell Curve, a horrendous piece of shoddy sociology about how blacks are not as smart as whites, and neither are as smart as The Chinaman; besides the general philosophical problems with writing a book-length study of the intersection between two variable, difficult-to-define, and scientifically problematic concepts, it was methodologically unsound and its data cherry-picked from a variety of unsavory sources.

It's looked back upon by most people as a profoundly embarrassing episode, even for The New Republic, which thrives on saying silly shit, and yet, Sullivan, who writes as though literally nothing has been written on the subject since, continues to insist on defending not just The Bell Curve but a general investigation into "intelligence." Weirdly, "intelligence," int his case, always seems to mean "the ways that black people are stupid," but I'm sure that's just a coincidence? He's spent the last week telling anyone who will listen that he is totally not a racist, but, look, he's just saying, scientifically, black people are stupider.

November 21

Sullivan writes: "The Study Of Intelligence [has] been strangled by p.c. egalitarianism."
Translation: "The 'politically-correct' belief that all people are equal, is preventing the study of intelligence, which is best done by cherry-picking sociological data about how black people are stupider than white people."

Sullivan writes: "The right response to unsettling data is to probe, experiment and attempt to disprove them—not to run away in racial panic."
Translation: "Probing, experimenting and disproving 'unsettling data,' as dozens of researchers, sociologists, geneticists and scientists have done over the last several decades, is the same thing as running away in racial panic, because it does not confirm the hypothesis that black people are stupider than white people."


November 23

Sullivan writes: "[R]esearch is not about helping people; it's about finding out stuff."
Translation: "Research is not about helping people; it's about finding out stuff, in particular, if that stuff confirms that black people are stupider than white people."

Sullivan writes: "[W]hen public policy holds that all racial difference in, say, college degrees, are due to racism, a truth claim has already been made[.]"
Translation: "It's important to study this so we can stop trying to help black people get college degrees."


November 28

Sullivan writes: "No one is arguing that "that black people are dumber than white," just that the distribution of IQ is slightly different among different racial populations, and these differences also hold true for all broad racial groups[.]"
Translation: "No one is arguing that black people are stupider than white people, just that black people are stupider than white people in a slightly more complicated way."

Sullivan writes: "No, not 'only for Africans'. The differential between Caucasians and Asians - or between Ashkenazi and Sephardim Jews - is also striking in the data."
Translation: "How can I possibly be racist if I'm saying that Asians and Jews are more cunning than white people?"

Sullivan writes: "I certainly don't have profound knowledge of the deep research of experts in the field."
Translation: "I have no clue what I'm talking about, but that's not gonna stop me."


November 29

Sullivan writes: "I do tend to get concerned when politics cramps research and when certain facts are suppressed[.]"
Translation: "I am super grumpy about the fact that there is wide agreement among scholars that black people are not stupider than white people."

Sullivan writes: "I had no interest in this subject until I saw the data in Murray's and Herrnstein's book. I was, frankly, astounded by it. As a highly educated person, I had never been exposed to this data. And yet, it turned out it was undisputed."
Translation: "LA LA LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU THE BELL CURVE IS SCIENCE SHUT UP."

Sullivan writes: "It was provoked by empirical data acquired from the measurement of intelligence in the 20th Century—immediate liberal hysteria denying that race as a biological construct existed at all. Piffle."
Translation: "Let me disprove the agreed-upon fact that race is social, not a biological, construct: Piffle."

[Photo by Geoff Livingston/Flickr]