Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Linking not a compliment in this particular case

Okay so what annoys me about this article? Let me count the ways.

First off, if social scientists want to be taken seriously, they need to acknowledge that their gig is different from physical science. Some humility about final conclusions is needed in both, but much more so in social science. And coming to broad conclusions about decline in the ancient and modern worlds based on no more than a less-complete-than-you'd-like-to-think genome record is remarkably inane.

Second, the scientist appears to be kind of a quack, definitely one with an ax to grind, but he's taken seriously and treated as an authority here.

And last but not least, this article in short order attracted some world class jaw dropping racists. It may seem unfair to blame the Telegraph or Penman for this, but the comments are strangely in tune with the article itself.


susan said...

Dr Penman, or how I learned to stop worrying and came to love Biohistory: Victorians were biologically superior, Britain fought WW1 because the population had never had it so good, WW2 was caused by anxious mothers, modern Britain is literally Rome and arts degrees are destroying Western civilization.

I don't know where to begin in mocking this guy's book.

susan said...

and as far as rude and ignorant internet commentary is concerned my opinion is that there'd be a lot more people wearing flattened noses if they uttered those remarks in public.

Ben said...

Penman - and I wasn't sure it was the same guy at first, but his Amazon profile confirms it - got rich in Australia building a lawnmowing business. To be fair he seems to have been competent at that. Then he got a Ph.D so he could get his theories taken seriously, even though they sounded better in the original German of Oswald Spengler.

Maybe internet commentary is a needed (anti) social outlet for the ignorant.