I’m extremely pleased to announce the original publication of a 6,000 word article by Prof. Robert Trivers, one of the most influential evolutionary theorists of the last few decades. He provides a series of fascinating personal vignettes describing some of the famous evolutionary biologists he has known over the last half century, including such celebrated figures as William Hamilton, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Lewontin. (the text is under copyright by The Biosocial Research Foundation).
As I have mentioned over the years, my strong interest in evolutionary matters goes back at least to the 1970s, and I remember telling all my friends that Richard Dawkins’ newly published The Selfish Gene was some of the most important books of the decade. That was also where I first encountered Trivers, whom Dawkins had solicited to write the introduction to his book, helping to lend him the academic credibility he needed for his controversial ideas. Given my personal history, I am obviously very proud to now be publishing an original article by a theorist of such longstanding stature.
In rereading that 1976 introduction, I noticed the following statement by Prof. Trivers:
The recent progress in social theory has been substantial enough to have generated a minor flurry of counter-revolutionary activity. It has been alleged, for example, that the recent progress is, in fact, part of a cyclical conspiracy to impede social advancement by making such advancement appear to be genetically impossible.
This is surely a reference to the notorious activities of Profs. Gould and Lewontin, and the other Marxist denizens of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who formed The Sociobiology Study Group of Science for the People to denounce and vilify the emerging science of evolutionary psychology. Their supporters later went so far as to physically attack Harvard’s E.O. Wilson, a founder of the field, at a Washington, D.C. meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, while they themselves, in good Lysenkoist tradition, spent years doing their best to purge their intellectual opponents from our top academic institutions.
In corrupt societies, bad deeds frequently go rewarded, and in the years that followed, Gould, a notorious academic fraud, was provided the platform of some of America’s most prestigious media outlets—The New York Review of Books and Natural History magazine —to promote his scientific opinions, many of which were incorrect, nonsensical, or dishonest; his books, such as The Mismeasure of Man, became widely assigned texts in college courses, thereby serving to misinform entire generations of students. And by an amusing irony of fate, the noisy attacks on mainstream evolutionary theory by this self-proclaimed Marxist eventually caused him to become a leading inspiration for ignorant religious Creationists, who gleefully used his arguments in their long but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to expel Darwinism from our public schools during the 1980s and 1990s.
Meanwhile, the campaign of public vilification against evolutionary biology by Gould, Lewontin, and their numerous academic allies, such as Steven Rose and Leon Kamin, often sought to tarnish their opponents as ideologically-motivated advocates of “fascism” or “racism.” Indeed, when their activist supporters physically attacked Wilson, they did so while shouting “Racist Wilson you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” But these harsh slurs, so widely propagated in the media at the time, were almost totally absurd. Among the leading evolutionary biologists, William Hamilton seems to have been generally apolitical, while E.O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins were mainstream academic liberals, as are most of today’s prominent theorists, such as Harvard’s Steven Pinker.
But the most amusing example of the total dishonesty of the Gould/Lewontin charges comes in the person of Robert Trivers himself, who was probably ranked among the leftmost of academic radicals. Not only did he eventually become the only white member of the Black Panther Party, but his views seem to have changed little over the decades, with his most recent book, The Folly of Fools, being dedicated to the memory of his closest friend, Huey Newton. By contrast, Gould seems to have been a notorious “limousine leftist” and a remarkably money-hungry self-promoting careerist, annually earning hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in public speaking fees and many additional millions in book contracts.
Aside from a short year or two working under E.O. Wilson in college, I did not personally know any of these prominent scholars, who have played such an important role, for good or for ill, in shaping modern evolutionary theory, probably the most important scientific field of the last half-century. Therefore, I found Trivers’ candid descriptions of their personality and activities reaching back into the 1960s a fascinating insight into our intellectual history, and I hope that many readers of The Review will have the same reaction. Certainly historians of science should pay close attention to this account, written as it is from the inside. And I believe this original publication represents an important milestone for our small webzine.
On a different matter, nearly two years ago I published a highly controversial article that closed with the following penultimate paragraph:
Consider that over one-quarter of all the urban black males in America have vanished from our society, a loss-ratio approaching that experienced by Europeans during the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Yet these astonishing statistics have largely remained unreported by our major media and hence unrecognized by the general American public. Should the medieval scribes of the Fourteenth Century have ignored the annihilating impact of the bubonic plague all around them and merely confined their writings to more pleasant news?
I am now pleased to report that The New York Times, our national newspaper of record, has finally broken this embargo of silence with a major front-page story a few days ago followed by a lead editorial on Sunday. However, for whatever reason, they chose to avoid focusing on the urban numbers, thereby headlining the remarkable “disappearance” of one-sixth of all black men, instead of the even more astonishing one-quarter within urban areas. Indeed, for the three cities with the largest black populations—New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia—the actual figure is greater than one in three.
Finally, our webzine appears on track for another record-breaking month of comments and total traffic, spearheaded as usual by the taboo-shattering posts of our star blogger, Steve Sailer.