Having been enormously preoccupied with software development work over the last few weeks, I was forced to sacrifice my own writing, but certain important recent developments are overdue for mention.
While I was deeply immersed in the intricacies of PHP and CSS, my small webzine marked its first major media success. As many readers may already be aware, our star blogger Steve Sailer scored a huge journalistic coup two weeks ago when he exposed the fact that world-renowned Marxist celebrity-academic Slavoj Zizek had plagiarized his review of Kevin MacDonald’s controversial books on Jews from the pages of American Renaissance, Jared Taylor’s small White Nationalist publication. This surprising juxtaposition of several bold-faced ideological names and extremist schools of thought attracted the mainstream media like flies, with the initial article in Newsweek accumulating a remarkable 700-plus tweets, more typical of a front-page story in The New York Times, and soon provoking additional pieces in NPR, Slate, the Huffington Post, Gawker, and numerous other MSM outlets.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this tidal wave of media discussion provided more public visibility in just a few days to MacDonald, Taylor, and Steve himself than any of them had received over the last several years combined, and perhaps this might even have been true of Zizek as well, since his world-famous name had previously been completely unfamiliar to me. Indeed, when I recently googled “Slavoj Sailer” the top result after the Newsweek article was a very amusing piece on an obscure ultra-right blog, conspiratorially suggesting that Zizek was actually a secret fan of MacDonald and Taylor and had deliberately plagiarized their White Nationalist writings in order to provoke a media firestorm and thereby better publicize their highly controversial ideas. If so, then the poor Marxist scholar must have grown very annoyed that it had taken almost a full decade for anyone in our feckless media and academic circles to blow the whistle on his utterly blatant theft.
I personally believe that the truth is far more mundane and similarly explains the enormous number of recent high-profile incidents of plagiarism by prominent academics, pundits, and other public figures. I doubt that any of these individuals, certainly including poor Zizek, ever knowingly stole the paragraphs in question. Instead, all these various figures have become far too preoccupied with their television appearances and other ego-gratifying celebrity-maintenance activities to do any writing of their own, and therefore delegate that thankless task to secret understudies, while skimping on their payments. Since the latter do not put their names on the finished product, they occasionally steal what they are too lazy or busy to produce on schedule, sometimes leading to public embarrassments for their flummoxed employers.
In the case of Zizek, the fraud was so gross that I suspect an even longer supply chain was responsible. Perhaps soon after the scandal broke, he was angrily yelling at the grad student whom he secretly pays $1000 per month to ghost most of his Marxist tracts, after which that unhappy fellow sheepishly slunk away only to begin yelling at the college sophomore to whom he himself secretly sub-contracts the Zizek work in exchange for $30 a week plus an occasional keg of beer. The sophomore himself hardly felt any guilt at all for his misbehavior, since he couldn’t understand why someone paid such paltry sums would do anything more than a bit of googling followed by copy-and-paste. Indeed, Zizek eventually admitted that “a friend” had given him the questionable text that he had published under his own name, perhaps neglecting to mention that he regularly provided his helpful “friend” a small monthly stipend in cash.
Meanwhile, my own philosophy is that plagiarism is completely necessary when the Internet is filled with so many fine writers, who deserve full credit and greater distribution for the excellent work they have produced over the years.
As an example of this, I am very pleased that we have now republished the full Internet archives of Robert Bonomo, a fascinating writer whose Cactus Land website I just stumbled across a few months ago. His pieces on the NYT’s constant excoriation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the surrealistic media landscape of the Trayvon Martin Affair, and other highly controversial events of the recent or distant past are quite intriguing, and readers should form their own opinions on the persuasiveness of his analyses and reconstructions.
The other important addition to our small webzine has been the acquisition of the complete columnar and comment archives of Peter Frost, a prolific writer on anthropological issues, whose Evo and Proud blogsite yielded up some 400,000 words of articles and over a million words of comments, all of which are now immediately available at The Review, with future columns to run weekly.
I have been friendly with Peter for about a dozen years now, becoming acquainted with him through Steve Sailer’s old HBD list, an email discussion group now grown dormant due to the rise of blogs and twitter. I also owe Peter a special debt of gratitude regarding my own research. Several years ago, I happened to mention that during my college days studying under renowned evolutionist E.O. Wilson, I had worked out what might be a plausible model for the evolution of increased intelligence in the Chinese people, and Peter expressed considerable interest in seeing my old piece, which had just been gathering dust in the decades after my graduation. I hadn’t laid eyes on the paper in over a quarter century, but the organization of my archives proved its worth, and I managed to locate the old term paper in just five minutes among the 200 boxes of old papers that I keep in a storage unit. I quickly scanned the crude typescript and put it up on the Internet, where it generated quite a bit of discussion among several scientifically-oriented bloggers.
A couple of years afterward, I was stunned to discover that my college term paper had been cited in an academic journal by a leading international researcher, and this prompted me to update and publish it in a much more respectable form, becoming my article “How Social Darwinism Made Modern China,” subsequently cited in various academic journals and also in Nicholas Wade’s recent book on human racial issues. Since my ideas had been so similar to those that Gregory Clark developed in his influential 2007 book A Farewell to Alms, Peter has been particularly generous in frequently referring to the Clark-Unz model of human evolution. Anyway, without his original interest, my article would certainly not have been written.
On the other hand, his regard for my work has certainly not been universal, and when I published my highly controversial 2012 critique of Richard Lynn’s Race/IQ theories, Peter became one of my sharpest critics, publishing three lengthy columns attacking my ideas, and drawing a huge number of equally hostile comments from angry Lynn partisans. Readers can judge for themselves the outcome of that sharp and extended debate.
His addition as a regular columnist is a major boost to our webzine, and should greatly strengthen our Science category, until now largely carried on the shoulders of blogger Razib Khan.
Having acknowledged my debt to Peter Frost, I should take this opportunity to provide an even greater statement of thanks to the late J. Philippe Rushton, longtime professor of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, who died in 2012, and whose chance interest actually launched all my own major articles of the last few years.
Although starting in the mid-1990s, I had done quite a bit of public policy writing for several years, during the 2000s I became preoccupied with my all-consuming content-archiving Internet project, and by 2009 I had published almost nothing for nearly a decade, despite my nominal title of Publisher at The American Conservative. As I have mentioned above, I had spent those same years as a member of a lively email discussion group, organized by Steve Sailer, and a very common topic of discussion was immigrants and immigration, with my own generally favorable views usually marking me out as a tiny minority of one on the subject. A frequent sub-topic was crime, and my claims that Hispanics had approximately the same crime rates as whites drew endless derision and ridicule from the overwhelming majority of the other list-members.
After years spent debating that particular topic, I no longer bothered even arguing the case, but occasionally wrote humorous asides on the issue. Then in 2009 one of my satirical notes improbably caught the eye of Rushton, who had been a very occasional participant in the email list. Being a bit humorless, he failed to realize that my remarks were intended as tongue-in-cheek, and after three or four explanatory exchanges, I was finally forced to state my position as explicitly as possible: ”Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age.” He found my claim totally astonishing, saying that it utterly contradicted everything he had learned about the topic and even threatened to overturn his entire ideological world-view, so painstakingly built up over the previous thirty years of scientific investigation into human differences. Therefore, he said I couldn’t possibly be right.
When a gentleman who is arguably the world’s foremost White Nationalist academic scholar basically says he’ll eat his own hat if your contradictory racial analysis proves correct, the intellectual challenge was just too tempting to resist, so I took a short break from my PHP coding to write up my findings, enlisting Razib Khan to run the actual urban crime correlations. Sure enough, the quantitative results came out exactly the way I knew they would, with the crime rates following the precise pattern I’d first noticed almost twenty years before when I’d casually eye-balled a big city crime rate table in a printed volume of the U.S. Statistical Abstract.
My resulting Hispanic Crime cover story in TAC was the longest piece I’d written in a decade and became one of the magazine’s most successful articles. I was very pleased with how the piece came out and the huge resulting online debate it sparked, while my article together with its follow-on coverage spent years dominating the entire first page of the search results whenever anyone googled “Hispanic Crime” or “Latino Crime.” I’d very much like to think that my analysis has substantially influenced informed opinion over the years and just a few days ago I was asked to provide a blurb to the latest scholarly book of Prof. Ramiro Martinez, Jr. of Northeastern University, perhaps America’s leading academic researcher on the specialized topic of Hispanic crime and violence. But although I believe I eventually won over both Rushton and most of my other thoughtful skeptics, I’ll have to admit that the comment threads of my own webzine are still infested by some stubbornly ignorant blockheads on the subject.
In any event, the success of that one Rushton-inspired article in early 2010 eventually led me to return to serious policy writing in earnest, with my subsequent major articles and informal columns now totaling at least a couple of hundred thousands words.
That my findings so shocked and surprised Rushton was particularly gratifying given that his own scholarly work on human evolutionary patterns had so impressed me decades earlier. Although The New York Times recently highlighted his ground-breaking psychological research during the 1970s, as a non-specialist I’d never been aware of those studies and he had only come to my attention during the mid-1990s, when his highly controversial book Race, Evolution, and Behavior first appeared and began receiving some attention. By chance, the book was released almost simultaneously with The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, and a small bit of the furor surrounding the latter spilled over to the former as well.
Personally, I regarded the two books as falling into entirely different categories. Despite the huge media frenzy surrounding The Bell Curve, the book seemed rather uninteresting to me, and I ran out of steam at about page 100 in the 800 page volume. After all, the lead author, Harvard’s Prof. Herrnstein, had been writing pretty much the same thing for the previous quarter century, starting with his very famous 1971 article in The Atlantic.
By contrast, Rushton’s k/R analysis of human evolutionary history was absolutely fascinating, and filled with a massive collection of facts and details totally unknown to me. I remember casually discussing the two different books with a politically-moderate academic friend of mine at the time, and we both agreed that while the ideas in the much-hyped Bell Curve were neither particularly new nor provocative, Rushton‘s research was absolutely fascinating and probably worth a Nobel Prize, though it might take thirty years for such controversial material to become accepted to allow it. When Rushton died of cancer in 2012 at the relatively young age of 68, I mentioned to one of Harvard’s most prominent scholars that my prediction could no longer be tested. The next year the far more fortunate Peter Higgs finally won his Nobel Prize in Physics at the age of 83 for work he had done a half-century earlier.