“to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”

that’s the epigraph on the title page of “The Malleus Maleficarum” — “The Hammer of the Witches” — THE handbook on witchcraft from the late middle ages (you can read it here). while it does discuss some interesting things, like whether or not a belief in witches should be part of the roman catholic church’s orthodoxy (the epigraph pretty much answers that question) and how witches got their powers (from satan!), most importantly it explains the procedures for uncovering witches (via a witch-hunt). it, and other books like it, came in real handy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries during the heydays of the witchcraft trials in europe and north america.

they’re still killing “witches” in papua new guinea today. in 2009, over fifty people in just two png provinces (there are twenty-two provinces altogether) were tortured and killed because the crowd concluded they were witches. they’re still at it this year. in fact, there are some concerns that, if anything, the witch-hunting has sped up. from the sydney morning herald last month:


“Kapi is the local gravedigger…. He is paid about 150 kina ($67) a grave; if a family wants him to build a proper, cement gravestone, that is extra. Then there is the time-consuming and more important task of guarding the graves from *sangumas*, or witches, the belief in which is almost universal in PNG.

“‘The *sangumas* come at night to eat the corpses,’ Kapi tells me matter-of-factly. ‘It’s like meat to them. It’s how they get their magical powers. And not just one, but five or 10 can come and cut up the body; “You get this hand … you get this leg ….”‘

“During the day, ‘they look just like us,’ Kapi explains. He says at night, however, they sneak into the cemetery disguised as cats or dogs, snakes, rats, bats or frogs….

“Kapi shows me his gun, pieced together using hessian strips, metal pipes and a steel spring. It can shoot only one bullet at a time, meaning that if you miss, the sanguma invariably get away. ‘But it doesn’t matter,’ Kapi tells me. ‘Sometimes we shoot the sanguma in the eye or the leg or neck, then if the next day we see a man missing an eye or with cut from a bush knife, then we know he is the sanguma.’

“‘But how do you know for sure?’ I ask.

“‘We know,’ Kapi replies.

“‘So what do you do?’

“‘We kill him.’

“‘Have you done this yourself?’

“‘Yes, plenty,’ Kapi says, nodding. ‘We tie him up and burn him up, in public. We burn him alive….’

“In 2011 she [janet kemo] was the second wife of a man called Kemo Fogodi, who became ill with what turned out to be tuberculosis. When Fogodi began coughing up blood – a sure sign of sorcery – Kemo was accused by her husband’s family of using witchcraft to kill him. Early one morning, while her husband lay helplessly ill nearby, she was hauled out of bed by a group of 15 men, one of whom tied a chain around her neck. She was then dragged 800 metres up a muddy track, through a forest, and tied to a mango tree, where she was tortured for 12 hours.

“‘The men used a hammer to smash my teeth and break the bones in my hands,’ Kemo says. ‘They chopped my face and head and burned me with iron bars that they had heated in a fire.’

“They also cut the tendons in her wrists and carved a cross in her chest with their bush knives. Kemo was blindfolded but recognised the voice of her husband’s nephew, Junior Taweta. ‘Junior asked me, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” By this stage I was only barely conscious, but I said, “Junior, I’m not a witch! I’m a child of God!”‘

janet kemo was lucky (i guess) and survived. read the rest of the article to hear what’s happened to some others … only if you have a strong stomach though. here’s some more:

“Not surprisingly, Highlands funerals, or *haus krais*, are highly charged affairs. It’s not unusual to find women prostrate on the road, clawing at the dirt in agonised displays of grief. If the deceased died suddenly, talk invariably turns to sorcery, with a *glasman* or *mambu* man brought in, usually from outside the area, to identify the guilty party. *Glasmen*, who can be paid handsomely for their services, are, in essence, black-magic consultants; they use bowls or glasses of water into which they gaze until the faces of the witches magically appear. (*Mambu* men perform the same service, only with a piece of bamboo, or *mambu*.) They are powerful figures, all care and no responsibility.

“‘The glasman looked into the water and made clear to us who did the witchcraft,’ a man who claims to have taken part in an attack on a witch near the town of Goroka tells me. ‘But then he said, “It’s up to you what you do next….”‘

“Few societies have collided with modernity quite so hard and fast as the Highlands of PNG, where the first white explorers, many of them Australian, only began appearing in the early 1930s. The transition that followed, ‘from stone to steel in one generation’, would have been traumatic for any people, but for a nation as fractious as PNG, which has more than 800 separate languages, the result has been a cultural car wreck. Town life, television, the predations of ‘civilisation’ and consumer culture, all have proved wildly destabilising, a situation that has, in combination with a lack of education and opportunity, actually heightened the allure of magic….

“*Sanguma* lore has similarly flourished, spinning off into ever wilder and more arcane territory. *Sangumas* are said to have their own ‘parliament of witches’ at Mount Elimbari, a sheer, pyramid-shaped limestone peak between Goroka and Kundiawa. They are thought to operate in regional hierarchies, with *kumo* kings and queens who plan mob-like ‘hits’ and approve, when necessary, the restoration of stolen body parts. They are also tech-savvy, increasingly using special ‘*kumo* guns’, ‘*kumo* helicopters’ and ‘*kumo* jets’, plus powerful hand-held lights that allow them to see at night.”

douglas walton has spent a lot of time researching and thinking about argumentation and logical fallacies. he’s analyzed witch-hunts and come up with a set of properties that characterize the witch-hunt (see “The Witch Hunt as a Structure of Argumentation” [pdf]):

1) pressure of social forces
2) stigmatization
3) climate of fear
4) resemblance to a fair trial
5) use of simulated evidence
6) simulated expert testimony
7) nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence
8) reversal of polarity
9) non-openness
10) use of the loaded question technique

wrt the first one — “pressure of social forces” — i’ll get to that below. some historians/other researchers have really looked into the social forces behind witch-hunts, with some very interesting results. “stigmatization” and “climate of fear” are kind-of self-explicatory, although i’ll get back to climate of fear again below as well.

“resemblance to a fair trial”: in the png examples above, nothing resembles a fair trial — unless being tied to a tree and tortured is what passes for a fair trial in png (trial by ordeal?). nevertheless, these are pretty clearly witch-hunts, so i think we can conclude that there doesn’t have to be a “mock trial” in a witch-hunt — although it certainly would be a plus, i would imagine. “use of simulated evidence” and “simulated expert testimony”: for example, all the stuff about the glasmen and mambu men looking into bowls of water to see the guilty party. ’nuff said. “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence”: the witches in png enter cemeteries disguised as dogs or cats or frogs. okaaaay.

“reversal of polarity”: this, which is very important, refers to the fact that the burden of proof is reversed in the witch-hunt or trial. the accusers or the prosectors don’t really have to bring much, if any, evidence against you — we know you’re a witch — otherwise why would you have been brought to trial for being a witch? see? it’s up to you to prove you’re NOT a witch. and good luck with that, because the rules are usually rigged against suspect witches (“she drowned, so she wasn’t a witch! yay?”). “non-openness” is related to this — the judge and the jury (the mob) have already decided in their minds that you are a witch. they are not “open” to hearing otherwise.

finally, “use of the loaded question”: we saw this in the article above when the nephew of the man who died of tb asked the widow, “Janet, you drank the blood from your husband, when are you going to give it back, so that our uncle can have his life again?” right.

historians who have studied witch-hunts, both religious and political ones, have found that they generally take place during times of turmoil or uncertainty. they are rituals of a sort in which social (and sometimes physical) boundaries are defined — witch-hunts are, at these critical moments, extravagant ways of working out who’s in the in-group and who is not. and woe to anyone who is not. the turmoil and uncertainty are the “pressures of social forces.”

from Meaning and Moral Order: Explorations in Cultural Analysis [pgs. 114-121 – links added by me]:

“Witch-hunts, therefore, are a type of ritual. They occur sporadically, unlike holiday celebrations. But they generally consist of public acts involving patterned events in which messages are communicated about values and norms that have allegedly been violated….

“The witch trials in colonial Massachusetts were examined from this perspective by Kai Erikson in his book ‘Wayward Puritans’ (1966). Erikson showed that these trials had occurred not simply at random but in three distinct spurts. The first of these ‘crime waves’ took place during the second half of the 1630s, the second occurred in the late 1650s, and the third broke out in 1692. The interesting feature of these outbursts was that they coincided perfectly with crises in the authority structure and values of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first followed closely on the heels of the so-called antinomian controversy involving Anne Hutchinson. The controversy poked at the heart of colonial authority because it challenged the worthiness of the Puritan clergy to legislate in spiritual matters. Hutchinson and her followers argued that the doctrine upholding the ‘priesthood of the believer’ should be more strictly interpreted, giving residents greater freedom to decide on their own qualifications for religious and political participation or leadership. The second bout of witch-hunting came into being in 1656 and continued for nearly a decade. According to Erikson, it was instigated chiefly in response to the arrival in the Puritan colony of Quakers, who, though few in number, symbolized a departure from the Puritans’ staunchly ascetic values. The Quakers’ emphasis on inner spirituality challenged the theocratic discipline of the colony much in the same manner as Hutchinson’s alleged antinomianism. Neither of these episodes involved accusations of witchcraft per se, only charges of heresy. The third outbreak did. It was the famed witch-hunt in the town of Salem. The crisis this time was more severe because it involved a genuine threat of serious potential consequences for the political leadership of the colony. This threat was from England, and it involved both the possibility of losing title to the entire colony at the hand of the king and a series of disputes with the Puritan hierarchy in England over theological points and questions of church discipline.

“Erikson concluded from these three episodes that witch trials were collective rituals that emerged in response to ‘boundary crises’ in the moral order of the Massachusetts colony….”

“Erikson’s use of the term ‘boundary’ is largely figurative. It subsumes a variety of collective values, definitions, and relations. Disputes over boundaries arise in a number of ways, including internal disagreements, ambiguities over the correct or effective application of cherished values, redefinition of boundaries by the physical inclusion of new members, and external threats. Hugh Trevor-Roper’s (1967) [see also] discussion of witch-hunting in Europe during the same period provides instances where boundary disputes can be taken literally….

“The spatial distribution of European witch-hunts…. It was primarily in border areas where Protestants and Catholics were caught up in controversies over geographical boundaries and political jurisdictions that witch-hunts broke out. Nor was it simply the presence of adherents to an alien faith that became the target of these rituals. Catholics did not round up Protestants and accuse them of heresy, nor Protestants, Catholics. Each groups found subversives within its own camp, not traitors who were explicily allied with the enemy, but weak souls endangering the solidarity of the total community by practicing sorcery.

Under threat of external attacks on the community’s physical boundaries, greater certainty was needed about the statuses, loyalties, and values of members within the community. The presence of religious competition at the borders may have created uncertainties about the location of these borders themselves, but the more immediate source of ritual activiety was the need for greater clarity about the social relations within the community. In order to mobilize its resources to the maximum, the community needed to know where its members stood and, more important, needed to shore up those loyalties to the community as a corporate entity that may have grown blurred with the passage of time and the pressures of individual or localistic demands. Witch trials became meaningful rituals under these circumstances. They dramatized the nature of collective loyalties and defined precisely the range of acceptable and unacceptable religious activity.

witch-hunts are “most likely to occur in situations of social *uncertainty*…. [T]he greater the uncertainty that exists about social positions, commitments to shared values, or behavioral options likely to influence other actors, the greater the likelihood that behavior will take on a ritual dimension of signficance….” a type of “uncertainty” most closely tied to witch-hunts “invovles external shocks to a cultural system. One way of interpreting the effect of these shocks is to say that they introduce new sets of contingencies into the system. Understandings communicated by external groups — the king, religious out-groups, Populists — now have to be related to existing understandings, whereas the two systems were formerly capable of functioning in isolation.”

what happened to jason richwine this week — and everyone else who’s been watsoned for politically incorrect crimethink, like john derbyshire — was a witch-hunt. no question about it. and it wasn’t even metaphorically a witch-hunt, or even just kinda like a witch-hunt — the event bears all the traits of an actual, honest-to-goodness witch-hunt like they do it in papua new guinea or used to do it in medieval europe, just with less violence, that’s all.

the politically correct chattering classes, both on the left AND on the right, who went after richwine behaved EXACTLY, in every regard, like png witch-hunters (except, like i said, for the violence). the richwine affair was an irrational ritual so that all those involved — and everybody watching — would be absolutely clear from now on what the acceptable boundaries are when it comes to discussing immigrants or non-whites or … whomever.

what did we have? “stigmatization”? check. (plenty more examples out there like that one.) “use of simulated evidence”? did anyone actually read jason’s thesis? no. check. “simulated expert testimony”? i don’t have any links on hand now, but i saw appeals to stephen jay gould in rebuttals to jason’s research. definitely simulated expert testimony! “nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence” and “use of the loaded question technique”? probably, but i don’t have examples (anyone?). we’ll leave those as unknown for now. [edit: i now have an example of “use of the loaded question technique.”] “resemblance to a fair trial”? well, like in the png examples above, there was no mock trial, but there was certainly a trial of sorts in the press/on the internet. “reversal of polarity” and “non-openness”? oh, yeah! richwine was obviously guilty of being a warlock crimethinker from the moment someone discovered his thesis. and pretty much NO ONE was open to hearing otherwise — no one who isn’t already a crimethinker themselves, that is.

“climate of fear.” climate of fear is an interesting one because it’s something that sorta feeds back into the whole system exacerbating it all, since what’s going on is that, not only are the richwines and derbyshires of the world afraid (or supposed to be afraid, anyway), EVERYone is afraid — afraid of becoming the next one accused of being a witch/crimethinker. as we saw above from Meaning and Moral Order, witch-hunts occur sporadically, so you can never know when or where the next one will be — or who the next victim will be. witch-hunts are terrorizing — and they’re meant to be. from walton [pg. 396 – pdf]:

“A climate of fear is a third important characteristic of the initial conditions of the witch hunt. First, the witch hunt is based on, and propelled by fear of the stigmatized individuals that are the objects of the hunt. Witches are portrayed, for example, as both repellent and dangerous. But second, the whole procedure of the witch hunt is suffused with fear. Everyone who could be accused is terrified, because they know that targeting is relatively random, and even an innocent person can be accused. But also, they know that once they are accused, and caught up in the tribunal process, the consequences are horrific (for anyone whose reputation matters to them) and the outcome is inevitably certain to be bad. Thus a climate of (well-founded) fear is characteristic of the whole process of the witch hunt.

this is why everyone piles on the accused so quickly and with full force — because they REALLY want to establish in a very public way that they, themselves, are NOT witches/crimethinkers, ’cause none of them want to experience being on the wrong end of a witch-hunt.

edit: i should’ve mentioned that none of these behavioral patterns are particularly conscious ones for the witch-hunters involved. they’re just acting on some sort of instinct — a herding instinct or something. some people out there might, of course, understand how to get a good witch-hunt rolling and use such events for their own purposes. not saying that that’s what happened this week — just sayin’.

i’m having a hard time figuring out what the “pressure of social forces” factor is for all the politically correct people who take part in these watsonings/witch-hunts. i mean, witch-hunts supposedly take place in eras of turmoil and uncertainty — and, while I certainly feel we’re living in an era of uncertainty with all this mass immigration and rapid changes, what are the pc people concerned about? they LIKE all this change and multiculturalism, don’t they?

and they can’t possibly feel threatened from the alt-right, can they? the left might feel threatened by the right on many issues and vice versa, but since almost all of them are politically correct these days, they can’t feel threatened by each other on that count. or do they? i really don’t know — help me figure this out!

the only thing i could think of is that maybe they actually are afraid of the brave new world they’re creating (a la putnam [pdf]), but because they want to run with the herd, they don’t want to voice any concerns — and so their concerns/fears are coming out in nervous witch-hunts? i dunno. but check this out — from Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance [pg. 195]:

“The example of the Renaissance witch craze provides a lesson for contemporary society: Multiculturalism does not eradicate the moral panic. Indeed, the more diverse the society, the larger number of moral panics, as competing symbolic-moral universes produce their own folk devils, each with exaggerated fears and anxieties. In turn, these folk devils resist such definitions, drawing, as they will, on the support from members of competing symbolic-moral universes. The modern scene of moral panics thus witnesses a larger number of moral panics, some in conflict, some potentiating each other, and some flourishing and fading as quickly as they have come into being. The modern, complex moral structure of societies may very well create a social setting which gives rise to a multitude of moral panics.


there is NO way to win if you’re on the losing end of a witch-hunt. trying to be rational will not get you ANYwhere. we’ve learned that by experience, and now on reading about witch-hunts, we can see that there is nothing rational about them — and they’re not meant to be rational affairs. they are ritual events that serve to clarify social norms and boundaries of acceptable behavior.

the only thing to do, i think, is, like heartiste keeps telling us, to reframe the discussion entirely. i gave that a shot with my post on friday about why human biodiversity is true (and, therefore, why these politically correct people are wrong), but i don’t think that that reframes the discussion enough. you want, of course, to turn it around completely and put the witch-hunters on the defensive. being one of those aspergian-types who prefers her discussions to be logical, i have NO idea how to do this. feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments. thanks! (^_^)

remember, though, to disbelieve in witchcraft the evilness of racism is the greatest of all heresies. recant and be saved! (~_^)

update: see also a loaded question and bewitched.

(p.s. – due to me spending way too much time on this post today, and due to the call of that siren known as procrastination [read: will be spending the rest of the day on reddit/twitter], this week’s linkfest will happen on tuesday.)

(note: comments do not require an email. omg! they killed kenny!)



  1. Whoa. I’m not sure this is the example you wanted as an equivalence. The 15th C text did not have the influence critics assume. It’s hard to make a case that it had much of any influence in witch-hunting, actually. The phenomenon precedes the book and did not increase after.

    Belief in witches may be more of a scientific heresy than a Christian one. It grows up in the era when the idea that there are physical laws that are little-known, yet can bring great individual consequences, become poplular. Before that comes into play, Christian persecutions took different forms.

    It’s a long, difficult subject, and your main point was to show how HBD-believers are subject to something of a witch-hunt, not so much an understanding of how actual medieval witch hunts came to be. But there’s a lot of squeezing the data into preconceived notions on this subject in general.


  2. @avi – “It’s a long, difficult subject, and your main point was to show how HBD-believers are subject to something of a witch-hunt….”

    not “something” of a witch-hunt. an actual witch-hunt, albeit a political one (i.e. not really looking for a “witch,” per se, but a heretic). same features. same behavioral patterns.

    @avi – “Belief in witches may be more of a scientific heresy than a Christian one.”

    doesn’t matter what you dress ’em up as. witch-hunts are witch-hunts — whether they happen in medieval europe or papua new guinea or twenty-first century washington d.c. same general behavioral patterns (although the specific behaviors, like degree of violence, might change) — that’s the point.


  3. @jayman – “Also, interestingly, many of the perpetrators of these modern witch hunts are the descendants of the Puritans…”

    i have to learn more about the puritans. i really do!

    @jayman – “Brilliant post btw! It must have taken a lot of work…”

    thanks! (*^_^*) yeah … time for a little r&r. some GoT maybe. (^_^)


  4. Richwine’s idea was to let only smart people immigrate (regardless of race). This seems like a bad idea because you would be robbing Africa, Mexico, Egypt, etc. of what few smart people they have. (Of course this is already happening to some extent.) It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to do it deliberately. It would be much better to not allow any immigration. Diversity just doesn’t work. (Though it seems to function well enough in Vancouver because there are few Mexicans, Muslims or Africans.)

    What a mess the world is. Populations with low average IQ, lots of inbreeding and corruption are never going to be able to make a safe, prosperous, functional country. And they will never accept that their problems are of their own making. They will continue to blame the more successful countries for all their problems.

    People in the dysfunctional countries want to move to the functional countries, but if too many of them come, they will bring the dysfunction with them and soon the entire world will be dysfunctional. Safe, functional countries will not exist anywhere, and will become a memory. In fact soon it will be forgotten that they ever existed.

    I’m a racist thought criminal to say such a thing. Even if I was retired (and didn’t fear losing my job) I still couldn’t make such a statement in the real world because my grown children would dis-own me.


  5. “being one of those aspergian-types who prefers her discussions to be logical, i have NO idea how to do this. feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments. thanks”

    I don’t think you can change your nature in this way. To do the sort of thing Heartiste suggests you need to be naturally devious.


  6. Although what i don’t get it why the witch-hunters got away with saying Richwine’s data is wrong when the data is totally accepted throughout academia. There is no debate on the data. The PC position in academia is not that the collated results of millions and millions of IQ tests are wrong but that IQ isn’t an accurate measure of intelligence.

    So the whole thing is weird. There must be scores of books and papers written by liberals which use the exact same data – as the data is not in dispute – but which explain the results in terms of things like stereotype threat and cultural bias etc.


  7. Great post!! :o)

    HBD Chick, I do believe that you are my favorite witch. Keep on working your black magic!


  8. It’s more like they are trying to have a witch hunt but there are no angry villagers to support them. They can probably still hurt Richwine but the climate seems to be changing. Slate has an interesting article about this affair, often criticized for being contrarian but still fairly mainstream and not targeted for any hate fests that I know of,



  9. The hammer on witches was on index for forbidden books. There is a reason why witch hunt was much more popular in protestant countries than in catholic.


  10. Great post. The situation does indeed bear all the hallmarks of a witch-hunt. It’s a bit like a modern day Mccarthyism. Anyone with vaguely leftish tendencies could be hunted down, outed, and branded as a ‘Communist’ traitor; today anyone skeptical of immigration or who suggests that there are differences between groups of people can be hunted down, outed, and branded as a ‘Racist’ and lose their livelihood.


  11. not sure it will work once the witch hunt is on. but fit opposing mainstream egalitarian views. I have always believed the best approach was to use fairness. most people do not realise it, and even do not want to. understand it, but equality ( of results) and fairness and fundamentally opposed. theory do not work, but actual stories of workers losing their job to less qualified minority members ( that can be proven to be less performing afterward) will go a long way, especially in this economy.

    Speaking of what could be the fear behind the witch hunt? imho it’s the fact that politically correct view is losing steam, quickly. at least in Europe, the majority had clearly shifted, even if it is not to visible because of inertia and association with Nazism. Some initiatives that mobilised a significant percentage of population for promoting diversity ( small badges, stickers,….) do not exist anymore, because they would completely fail in the general population… so would show that the emperor had no clothes…


  12. Exactly right: “he’s a witch – get him!” — ironic that modern-day witch-hunters are so “anti-bullying!” They bully heretics (witches, “racists,” tea-partiers, etc.) They tolerate only those who blindly support the party line: all are exactly equal on all “variables.” They sacrilize equality & throw truth under the bus wherever it conflicts with their holy equalness (as per Jon Haidt’s research). yikes – i just used the word “they” a lot – natural human reaction – making it an “us vs. them” thing so we can bind to our side. Haidt’s ideas & research help illuminate this – & advise that we can’t change the DWL SWPL view unless we first get on the side of their elephant instead of explaining it rationally to their rider (if that doesn’t make sense, just google that metaphor!) cheers, goody panjoomby


  13. “Although what i don’t get it why the witch-hunters got away with saying Richwine’s data is wrong when the data is totally accepted throughout academia. ”

    Actually Charles Murray, for one, who actually read Richwine’s thesis, says he cherry picked his data to make the differences look worse than they actually are. I’ll try to get a copy of the thesis and let readers judge for themselves


  14. “he cherry picked his data to make the differences look worse than they actually are”

    I don’t know why he would do this – the real data is damning enough, and I doubt that that would have made it past his (august) thesis committee. At any rate, the only germane question is, was the Heritage report correct with regad to the costs of immigration? Who gives a damn about Richwine’s thesis anyway, it was the Left that brought this up.


  15. Here’s what I can find Charles Murray saying about Richwine;

    ‘Reached by phone today, Murray remembered his impressions. “Jason’s dissertation was, I think, a careful presentation of the data on the subject. His mistake is that he wrote about a taboo subject,” he said. “And to write about IQ and race or ethnicity is to take a very good chance of destroying your career. And I really hope that doesn’t happen”

    Can someone please find where Murray claims that Richwine cherrypicked his data?


  16. @luke – “Actually Charles Murray, for one, who actually read Richwine’s thesis, says he cherry picked his data to make the differences look worse than they actually are.”

    @toddy cat – “Can someone please find where Murray claims that Richwine cherrypicked his data?”

    yes, luke. i think we’re gonna need a link or a reference for that quote.

    @luke – “I’ll try to get a copy of the thesis and let readers judge for themselves.”

    jason’s thesis on online @scribd. (ftr – i haven’t read it.)


  17. ***of course, to turn it around completely and put the witch-hunters on the defensive***

    I think asking these people whether they are Creationists is a useful starting point.* They have an aversion to being called something so ‘anti-scientic’ and religious. Also, by framing it in terms of an implication of evolution (different environments/cultures favoring difference traits) it’s easier for people to understand I think.

    Also, it’s perhaps useful to note that the existence of group differences shouldn’t imply much about individuals or individual rights.

    * http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/05/jason-richwines-racial-theories-are-nothing-new/275743/



  18. Luke
    “Actually Charles Murray, for one, who actually read Richwine’s thesis, says he cherry picked his data”

    Even if that was true it doesn’t change the basic point which is – as far as i’m aware – the PC academic consensus is that the gigabytes of IQ data available are correct in themselves but that IQ doesn’t measure intelligence. If so it’s pretty weird that academia doesn’t mention to the media that the witch hunt was over the wrong bit as there must be dozens of liberal books using the same data.


  19. @ Can someone please find where Murray claims that Richwine cherrypicked his data?

    Sorry. Murray was sarcastically channeling Unz on Richwine and I didn’t catch the sarcasm. Me bad. I apologize. Murray sent me a link to the dissertation and informed me it is now in the public domain. (See above) In the Acknowledgments — since when do PhD theses have acknowledgements? — Richwine identifies Murray as his primary adviser “whose detailed editing and relentless constructive criticism have made the final draft vastly superior to the first.” He also thanks several research assistants by name! Clearly, writing an academic thesis ain’t what it used to be. I predict this thing is coming out as a book — soon.


  20. Botticelli wrote:
    I think asking these people whether they are Creationists is a useful starting point.

    It’s no use. It will just enrage them and make their heads explode. Then they will heap fuel onto the witch-burning fires even faster.


  21. Richwine’s idea was to let only smart people immigrate (regardless of race). This seems like a bad idea because you would be robbing Africa, Mexico, Egypt, etc. of what few smart people they have. (Of course this is already happening to some extent.) It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to do it deliberately.

    On the other hand, we can always send smart people back out to them again, and are exporting smart books, technologies and media. I think ultimately, without some degree of altruism amongst the super smart, whether that is in not choosing to migrate or in going to a poor country to help the people there, even the middle class of the West is screwed.

    The element I dislike in the “Let the smart immigrate” can be seen in the foreign born Asian-American community and their kids.

    The Asian-American community has very diverse educational qualifications compared to their host countries and countries of origin. Much more at the low end and at the high end. That’s most visible in the South Asian-American group and least in the South East-Asian but it’s intermediate amongst the North-East Asians as well (you can look up the data, but Chinese migrants are pretty phd and no education heavy compared to their nation of birth). It wouldn’t really be possible for the level of super elite accomplishment by North East-Asian Americans to happen based purely on them being an exactly randomly sampled set of North East-Asians (as much as they would still be smart).

    And you can see them developing this upper caste like attitude, probably rather natural for the South Asians, but very obvious in the Chinese as well. This might have existed anyway with North East Asian IQ differences, but is attenuated by this phenomenon.

    It would be the same if all the top 8th of Africans were selected to go to some European country with no migrants.

    This is probably for me the most likely story of Ashkenazi IQ – rather than them starting out dumb and being selected to be smart, they are simply a subsample of the Roman Empire Jewish population which was smart who were reproductively isolated in Europe. I don’t there isn’t any reason why this doesn’t explain the genetic trends Cochran and Harpending cite.

    I don’t think this is a good thing for any civilization.


  22. Imagine if the headline had been “Richwine Mobbed by Liberal Media Establishment.”

    Or better yet, “Richwind Mobbed by New Netherland’s Media Establishment.” They who control the cultural apparatus control the country.


  23. Every household in North Korea has a radio which is always on and always tuned to one station controlled by you know who. Here in America every household is equipped with a television which can be tuned to multiple news sources all of which are controlled by you don’t know who.


  24. How would you describe “the few” who control the cultural apparatus? I would say it is made up of the Ashkenazi and WASP elites, who are now married to each other, with a few token minorities thrown in for window dressing. It is based in NYC with outposts in DC and the Ivy League.


  25. Make that the Anglo/Catholic elite instead of WASP. Thus the group that controls the cultural apparatus can be described as made up half-and-half of America’s Ashkenazi and Anglo/Catholic elites. The point is that they are few in number and are based in New Netherlands. Their map of the US is like that old New Yorker cartoon in which all of America pretty much disappears from the viewpoint of Manhattan (with the exception of DC, Boston, and the gold coast of California).


  26. Instead of Manhattan make that the Upper East and West Sides together a few posh bedroom communities in the greater NYC metropolitan area.


  27. Continuing my political analysis (which readers are probably already tired of):

    If the power of New Netherlands is to be overthrown it will have to be as the result of coordinated grassroots movements in the ten “other nations” Colin Woodard identifies in his great little book. It will have to have its own newspaper and its own internet network (keep in mind we are now at the mercy of Google, Facebook, and Bing, who can censor us at any moment they choose. It will have to be on guard against co-option by behind-the-scenes big money as happened with the Tea Party Movement. And yes, it will have to be a multi-cultural, multi-racial alliance operating within the new demographic order, whose aim is to forge a new American political identity in line with the last sentence in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Hbd issues will not be emphasized. Instead the moral equality of all groups in the sense that everyone’s happiness is equally important. I think it must also offer a new way of life that appeals to all groups across the spectrum as outlined on my little website, though that might just be me. Finally it will have to recruit a new counter elite of highly intelligent, articulate, and well educated people, whose material interests are tied to the materials interests of the peoples they represent. This elite will have to be organized into something like a new neo-Catholic church on Presbyterian lines (i.e., democratic election of officers) with a broad Judeo-Christian world view. It might even describe itself as Jewish.

    I’m not going to write anymore about this. Over and out.


  28. I think that the best comment on the Richwine affair comes from (of all people) David Frum, who said

    “Maybe Richwine did his math wrong. If he did it wrong, it would remain wrong even if he spent his leisure hours rescuing orphans from burning buildings. Maybe he did his math right. Then it would remain right even if he moonlighted as Grand Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.” That about sums it up, I think…


  29. I’ve started thinking about in-group/out-group dynamics in terms of r/K selection theory.

    In short, r-selection occurs when food is plentiful and results in lots of offspring, and low effort per offspring. Everyone bands together in large groups. Think sheep. K-selection occurs when food is scarce, and results in fewer offspring, with high effort per offspring. Think lions.

    I don’t know how much scientists pay attention to this any more, they may have moved on, but it is certainly true that there is a class of argument (and arguer) who focuses on in-group/out-group. The best argument is the one that frames the opponent as being alone and isolated in their beliefs.

    This is very different to the K-style argument where the focus is on what is actually true, regardless of whether it is popular or safe to articulate or not. Both strategies can lead to success or failure.

    When encountering a r-style argument, you can stick to a K-counter-argument but it will not work because fundamentally you are being attacked from a place of emotion (fear) and the goal is not to disprove anything you say, but to isolate you.

    A more effective counter then might be another r-style argument that isolates the original accuser. Something like “Everyone knows Democratic Politicians are pro-Amnesty because Mexican immigrants will vote for them. This disenfranchises all law-abiding Americans, it lowers wages for Africans Americans, blue-collar union workers, which is unconscionable when we have such high unemployment. We need to be focused on what is best for this country, and work to help unemployed americans. These Democratic Politicians only care about stealing from tax payers to import people who will vote for them, and are in the minority”.

    Something like that.


  30. This is probably for me the most likely story of Ashkenazi IQ – rather than them starting out dumb and being selected to be smart, they are simply a subsample of the Roman Empire Jewish population which was smart who were reproductively isolated in Europe. I don’t there isn’t any reason why this doesn’t explain the genetic trends Cochran and Harpending cite.

    Dead wrong.

    Assume that the narrow-sense heritability of IQ is 0.5 (which is a high figure for most quantitative traits), and assume that the average Jewish IQ during Roman times was close to the modern day average for Mizrahi Jews (~91). In order for selective migration to have done the trick, the average Jewish emigrant would have had to have an IQ of over 139.

    Yeah, that would mean Ashkenazi Jews would have to be descended exclusively from the brightest 0.001% of Jews during classical times. Get real, son.

    Point is, you can’t possibly explain these outcomes without pervasive and ongoing selection since the medieval era. Jews aren’t particularly inbred, which is what you might expect from a bottleneck severe enough to isolate their brightest one-thousandth — runs of homozygosity are no more common among Ashkenazim than they are among non-Jewish Europeans.

    In addition, recessive genes for mendelian diseases have reached an unusually high frequency among Ashkenazi Jews — and in the case of Gaucher’s disease, a frequency of 1 out of 15 Ash. Jews, compared to 1 in 20-40 thousand among gentiles! A disproportionate number of these genes regulate sphingolipids, a family of lipids that is crucial for neuronal development. There is no possible way that these alleles could have drifted to such a high percentage unless they carried a powerful heterozygote advantage.

    But in the end, whether or not Cochran and Harpending’s model is correct is moot.

    The question is, why the hell do people defend totally implausible and baffling notions like yours with the utmost certainty? It’s not selective migration, stupids! Just do the math.


  31. Since I’ve produced the only modern edition of the Latin text of the Malleus Maleficarum, I feel compelled to point out that Montague Summers (who produced the 1928 translation linked to above) was an unreliable dilettante. Anyone who wants to know what the text says would be better advised to consult my own paperback translation!


  32. @chrisdavies09 5:53AM

    If you think Joe McCarthy was carrying out a witch-hunt, you’d be wrong. For a start, there are no witches, whereas there really were Soviet agents working to subvert the US: http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/Articles/KGB%20Exonerates%20McCarthyism.html and: http://hillyardhistory.net/uploads/McCarthy_-_Was_he_right_about_Soviet_espionage__CNN_Cold_War_-_Then_and_Now_-_Red_Scare_revisited_.pdf
    The Soviet show trials would be a much better example of a political witch-hunt than Joe McCarthy.


  33. Matt
    “This is probably for me the most likely story of Ashkenazi IQ – rather than them starting out dumb and being selected to be smart, they are simply a subsample of the Roman Empire Jewish population which was smart who were reproductively isolated in Europe.”

    I think the idea of IQ-skewed migration – mirroring the perceived (not sure if actual) IQ-skewed more recent east asian immigration – is a bit unneccessary when there was a very clear-cut historical mechanism for that IQ selection to have taken place.

    From about 400AD or so (not sure exactly) the Church gave Jews a monopoly on banking and money-lending which mostly lasted in Western europe until the expulsions around 1300 AD onwards. That must have selected for IQ because within that niche it’s not Jews competing with non-Jews it’s Jews competing with other Jews in a specific niche with above average (for the time) cognitive demands. The smarter ones would have won and assuming a “Farewell to Alms” effect i think that must have selected for IQ. At the same time if IQ is being specifically and primarily selected for you’d expect a trade-off on the other side of the equation e.g. health effects, which applies here also.

    I’d have thought c. 900 years would be long enough to have an effect?

    I don’t think the same argument necessarily applies in the since then as Jews stopped being in their own unique ecosystem – at least not to the same extent.


    As an aside it makes me wonder if the British Raj by giving the Parsees a similar sealed-in niche may have skewed their selection in an IQ-centric way also thus heightening their genetic problems as a side-effect.


  34. @martin – “If you think Joe McCarthy was carrying out a witch-hunt, you’d be wrong. For a start, there are no witches, whereas there really were Soviet agents working to subvert the US.”

    the mccarthy hearings and all that jazz were absolutely, definitely part of a witch-hunt. just because there were actual soviet/communist agents to be found, and that were found, does not mean that the whole exercise was not a witch-hunt.

    again, witch-hunts of all sorts — those that involve looking for “witches,” or those that involve rooting out religious heretics, or even the political kind — all serve the SAME function: to define who’s in the in-group and who’s in the out-group — and, at the same time, to define for everybody what you need to do to stay in the in-group.

    the mccarthy hearings were not just about finding spies — they also served to very visibly, for the entire country to watch and observe, demonstrate what were acceptable sorts of behavior and which ones were not (being a communist and/or spying for the soviets).

    the soviet show trials, like you mentioned, as well as the ones that happened in china during the cultural revolution were also political witch-hunts.


  35. “i’m having a hard time figuring out what the “pressure of social forces” factor is for all the politically correct people who take part in these watsonings/witch-hunts.”

    It’s worth remembering that progressivism oppresses progressives too. While some large fraction internalizes the anti-racist propaganda, a similar if not larger fraction is just pretending. When Richwine gets Watsoned, their visceral reaction is, “Oh shit! That’s what I believe! Dear sweet Jesus please let nobody find out.” What’s a good cover, they think? Jump in on the witchhunting.

    See also: the constant guilt the progressive feels for all their racist thoughts.

    “being one of those aspergian-types who prefers her discussions to be logical, i have NO idea how to do this. feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments. thanks”

    First, Richwine’s mistake was not about IQ. As you note, many researchers have found the same, but only he became a media fixation. His mistake was to explicitly reason forward about immigration. That’s a no-no. Who cares about the truth? We only care about power, or, in euphemism, ‘policy.’

    So I have a candidate technique. I can probably explain it to you. However, I can’t usefully explain it using the Richwine affair. If you want to supply me with an example more immediate to us here on this blog, I could use that.

    Richwine should have called them out on it being about power, and then turned the racism charge back on them.
    Makes sense? Can you extrapolate the reasoning behind it? I wouldn’t be able to, so props if you can.


  36. hmm, perhaps when called a “racist” one can respond with “so what? YOU’re a witch!”


  37. […] (political) witch-hunts and the nature of witch-hunting: – “to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies” – a loaded question – why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right – […]


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