This Friday, the twentieth of May, will mark the twentieth anniversary of the day that Dr. Stephen Jay Gould was summoned to give an account of himself before the court of the Supreme Judge in Whom he professed unbelief. For his sake, we can only hope that unbeknownst to the world the saving Light of the Gospel broke through the darkness of his heart at some point before that moment.
Dr. Gould, as you may have gathered from the preceding, was not a man with whom I agreed about much. He was a biologist and paleontologist who taught at Harvard University. He achieved fame among his scientific colleagues for his theory, co-authored with Niles Eldridge of Columbia University, of punctuated equilibrium. To the general public he became famous as the kind of scientist who would appear on television – he played himself on The Simpsons once - occasionally hosting his own specials, and who would write books and essays that put science into layman’s language for popular consumption. Evolution was a major – it would probably be fair to say, the major – focus of his career. Not evolution merely in the sense of adaptation, the idea that living species exist in changing environments to which they must adapt in order to survive, which is both observable and obvious, but evolution in the sense of adaptation and natural selection being offered as the “scientific” answer to the question of why we are here. Indeed, his and Eldridge’s punctuated equilibrium theory was a response to a common objection to evolution in this sense of the word, namely that the fossil record rather than indicating new species gradually evolving from other species over a long period of time, shows a remarkable stability within species through history. The theory proposes that the evolution of new species takes place in short, rapid, bursts that occasionally take place in a history of biological life that is otherwise generally a stasis. I am of the firm view that science in the sense of the natural sciences has no answer whatsoever to the question of why we are here and that this question is ultimately an ontological question admitting only metaphysical and theological answers. Indeed, I go further and take the position that the true answer to that question is to be found in the words that begin the sacred canon of my own faith, as they do the sacred canon of the religion of Dr. Gould’s ancestors. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” is how those words are rendered in the Authorized Bible. In the original, the ancient tongue of Dr. Gould’s ancestral religion, they are בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ (this is pronounced "Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz”). Dr. Gould was militantly opposed to this answer, to its being offered as an alternative in academe, and to those like the late Dr. Henry Morris who maintained that it was the better answer from a scientific point of view. My own disagreement with Dr. Morris was from the opposite point of view to Dr. Gould’s – that Dr. Morris conceded too much to Modern philosophy and assigned too much epistemological value to science by maintaining that science is capable of speaking to this question. (1)
Interestingly enough, apart from his opposition as an evolutionist to creation, Dr. Gould was also noted for his long-running feud with certain other evolutionists, those who tried to use evolutionary biology to explain the behaviour of social species and human psychology. The best known example of the former is probably Richard Dawkins, and of the latter most likely Steven Pinker, both men who like Dr. Gould write for popular audiences. While as a creationist I don’t really have a dog in this fight and it might seem logical to suppose that if forced to pick sides I would choose Dr. Gould who despite his anti-creationism was less overtly hostile towards faith and religion than Dawkins I would be more inclined to favour his opponents because both his methods and motives I find to be repugnant. Dr. Gould’s involvement in these controversies always seemed to have less to do with science than with his political views. He was very left-wing in his politics, and while he would later distance himself from the overt Marxism of his father, early in his career at Harvard he became associated with Science for the People, a New Left organization of students and faculty that was notorious for its use of disruptive tactics on campuses and at meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that are similar to those employed by Antifa groups today. The group opposed what it called “pseudoscience” which in its usage essentially meant science that supported conclusions or was employed in ways with which Marxism disagreed. It was in the context of his involvement with this group that Dr. Gould, like his Harvard colleague and fellow Science for the People activist Dr. Richard C. Lewontin, first came into conflict with another Harvard colleague, the late entomologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson. In 1975 Wilson had published Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, a lengthy tome in academic textbook format, that blended ethology – the study of animal behaviour – with something that should probably be called sociology, i.e., the study of human social behaviour, although it resembled very little of what actually goes by this name – synthesizing the two into a common field of social behaviour, animal and human, as explained by theories of evolutionary biology derived from the same research (George C. Williams, W. D. Hamilton, John Maynard Smith, Robert Trivers, et al.) that Richard Dawkins would popularize one year later in his The Selfish Gene. The book and the discipline to which it gave its name were both immediately condemned by Science for the People. The condemnation took the form of an ad hominem attack on the author. The closest thing to an argument that addressed his theories rather than his character was the accusation of biological determinism, an interesting accusation coming from people who were themselves committed to a materialistic view of the world and man. Mostly, however, it consisted of attacks on the author’s character, accusations that he was motivated by fascism and racism. Signed by a number of left-wing scientists, including Stephen Jay Gould, the attack on Wilson was submitted to The New York Review of Books whose editor had the poor taste to publish it. To their credit, Gould and Lewontin who formed the Sociobiology Study Group in opposition to Wilson, were at least willing to engage Wilson, Dawkins, et al., in open debate, and when, at one of the debates organized by their group at the annual meeting of the AAAS, Wilson was doused with water by activists from the far-left militant International Committee against Racism shouting “Racist Wilson you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide”, Gould even apologized to Wilson and condemned the behaviour as inappropriate. His own activist response to Wilson’s book, however, had undoubtedly paved the way for the more militant form of activist response that came later. Furthermore, while he would later try to distance himself from this kind of activism, he would continue making ad hominem accusations of racism against other scientists. His book length broadside against the study of human intelligence, especially its quantification and the consideration of hereditary components such as the g factor, The Mismeasure of Man, (2) first published in 1981, then expanded in 1996 to include an attack on Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray over their 1994 The Bell Curve is a case in point. (3)
The above, incidentally, demonstrates the fallacy of the widespread conservative contention that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classrooms are somehow immune to the disease of academic wokeness to which the Humanities in all but the most traditionalist of campuses seem to have completely succumbed. As far back as 1970s, activist scientific academics like Gould and Lewontin were attempting to have scientific theories condemned as pseudoscientific on the basis of their non-conformity to left-wing ideology and more specifically to the elements of left-wing ideology that are now so emphasized in wokeness. STEM classes are clearly not invulnerable. (4) Giving up the Humanities to the Left and concentrating on STEM, therefore, is clearly not a viable alternative to recovering a classics based approach to the Humanities in which contemporary thought and trends are held up to the standards of ancient civilization rather than the other way around.
Having said all of the above, it is not my purpose in this essay to concentrate on the many things over which Dr. Gould was wrong but rather on one thing he got right. One of the very last things that he did was to edit the 2002 edition of The Best American Essays, an annual anthology launched in 1986 by series editor Robert Atwan (the original The Best American series, The Best American Short Stories, goes back to 1915) As guest editor for the 2002 edition, Dr. Gould got to select twenty-five non-fiction essays from a larger list of candidates selected by the series editor from various magazines, reviews and journals published in the United States the previous year. His selection was overall quite excellent – the first essay to appear in the anthology is “The Tenth Muse” by Jacques Barzun which had appeared in Harper’s in September 2001, discussing “Demotica”, i.e., the muse of popular culture. Gore Vidal’s essay about Timothy McVeigh from the same month’s issue of Vanity Fair, which would also be included in the author’s own 2002 anthology Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace made the final selection. So did John Sack’s “Inside the Bunker” from the February 2001 issue of Esquire. This is the essay that I wish to stress. Somebody had alerted me to this essay when it first came out. I read it and have been referring people to it ever since. It was certainly worthy of inclusion in this anthology and, given the volatile nature of the subject matter it took a degree of courage for Dr. Gould to include it.
John Sack passed away about two years after Dr. Gould. He was a literary journalist, part of the group that were dubbed the “New Journalists”. The foremost representative of this group would be Tom Wolfe – the guy who became famous for writing books with titles like The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamlined Baby but is probably best remembered as the guy who always wore immaculate white suits, Labour Day be damned. Others included Hunter S. Thompson – the author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and Joan Didian. Sack, whose work was published in places like Esquire, obviously, and the Atlantic, Harper’s and The New Yorker, was the war correspondent of the group. Beginning with the Korean War, which he covered for Stars and Stripes after finishing his studies at Harvard, Sack covered every war in which his country, the United States, was officially involved until his death.
Sack also authored a number of books and these tended to be quite controversial. While covering the Vietnam War, for example, he had done a number of interviews with Lt. William L. Calley Jr., the American officer who was convicted of war crimes in regards to the My Lai massacre of 1968. These became the basis of a book that Sack published in 1971. This caused him all sorts of grief when the American government demanded he turn his materials over to them and testify in the case against Calley, and arrested and indicted him when he refused to do so. One might think it would be hard to top that as far as controversy goes, but his 1993 An Eye for An Eye did just that. As the titular reference to the Lex Talionis suggests, this was a tale of revenge. The subtitle was “The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945”. Set in Poland, in the last days of World War II and the period immediately after the war, in the time following the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe in which the USSR was ethnically cleansing the region of Germans, it tells of the internment camps that the Soviets set up under the NKVD/MGB in Poland, sometimes re-using camps captured from the Germans, in which they placed captured Germans, and over which they set as administrators several of the Jews who had been interned in the Nazi camps. Canadian writer James Bacque had sparked controversy in 1989 with his Other Losses, which was about Germans who had died in internment camps administered by the French and Americans under General Eisenhower in roughly the same period (1944 on into the post-War period). Sack’s book was for reasons that should be plain even more controversial.
Sack, it should be noted, was of Jewish ethnicity.
Sack’s book, and the controversy it generated, gained him an invitation to speak at the 2000 conference of the Institute for Historical Review in California. The Institute for Historical Review, founded by Willis Carto and David McCalden in 1978, (5) is an organization devoted to historical revisionism in general, with an emphasis on World War II revisionism, and more specifically what the late Gary North called “hard-core war revisionism”, the distinction between this and soft-core war revisionism being that the latter looked into questions of America’s entry into the war, whether it was justified and in the United States’ interest, and the duplicity of the Roosevelt administration in bringing it about (a less American-centric version of this can be found in the writings of A. J. P. Taylor) and the former looked into questions of extent, methodology and ultimate goal pertaining to the atrocities attributed to the Nazi regime. Historical revisionism is the process of asking questions about conventional, generally accepted, accounts of historical events and suggesting and arguing for alternative accounts. It is widely regarded as coming in two forms, one good and one bad, depending upon the motives and methods of the revisionist. If the revisionist is seeking after truth, if he wishes to make the historical account conform more accurately to events as they actually happened, this is good revisionism. If he is motived by ideology and wishes to make the historical account conform to his ideology even if this means falsifying it, making it conform less with events as they actually happened, this is bad revisionism. The hard-core war revisionists of the Institute for Historical Review are almost universally reviled as being the worst of the bad kind of revisionists. “Holocaust deniers” they are called by most historians, as if the Holocaust were an article of faith to be believed rather than a historical event to be discussed, an attitude which itself raises a number of rather interesting questions about the mainstream narrative. While Sack did not hold revisionist views with regards to the Holocaust itself he nevertheless accepted the invitation to speak at the conference. His article for Esquire early the following year was his account of that experience.
The distinction between good truth-seeking revisionists and bad ideological revisionists is not really of much value except when it comes to reminding revisionist historians of what they should be striving for. Everyone, or at least almost everyone, engaged in historical revisionism is seeking truth and to make the historical record conform to events as they were. Where ideological – or, to use slightly less loaded terms philosophical, religious, political – notions enter in is that they influence how we perceive and judge things to be true or not. To lump all revisionists who ask questions about a specific occurrence such as the Holocaust into the bad ideological revisionist category is to oversimplify something that is actually quite complex and to commit an injustice in doing so. It is widely assumed by those who revile the people whom Sack addressed that the very nature of the revisionism they are engaged in means that they could not possibly be motivated by anything other than anti-Semitism, racism, admiration for Adolf Hitler and a wish to revive his movement, and the like. (6) Indeed, certain organizations and special-interest groups seem to think that “Holocaust denial” somehow makes the person who engages it complicit in the guilt of the historical crime he is said to deny. In my country, the Dominion of Canada, where the Liberal government has announced its intention of criminalizing “Holocaust denial” progressives have long taken this even further. Under our traditional system of justice, someone accused of a crime is entitled to the presumption of innocence and to a full legal defense. Nobody would consider it appropriate to attack the defense attorney who is representing an accused murderer and treat his acting as counsel for the defense as if this made him an accomplice to murder. In cases like this, we recognize that insisting upon the rights of the accused, even if the accused actually is guilty, is absolutely essential because without those rights we would all be helpless against anyone who wished to harm us with a false accusation. There are many up here who seem to think that this does not apply to “Holocaust deniers” or other accused of some sort of “hate speech”. Five years ago, Upper Canadian lawyer Barbara Kulaszka died. She had been part of the defense team in the Zündel trials in the 1980s and since the death of the legendary Doug Christie four years previously had been the leading defense attorney fighting for free speech for those accused of “hate” in Canada. A memorial service was held for her at the Richview branch of the Toronto Public Library in Etobicoke on the twelfth of July, 2017 but pressure was placed upon the library to withdraw from its agreement to allow the space to be used for this. To their credit the library did not cave to this pressure. Nevertheless, all those self-appointed anti-“hate” experts who think they have the right and duty to tell other Canadians what we are allowed to say and think, sent out the clear message to any lawyer who might be tempted to follow in the footsteps of Christie and Kulaszka in the future, that if they take on the cases of those accused of “hate” they can expect to find themselves smeared with the same accusations as their clients, with their funerals being given the Fred Phelps treatment when they die. (7)
Indeed, it was not just lawyers who received this message. During the original Zündel trials of the 1980s and the James Keegstra trial of the same period, the question of whether it was right to put people on trial for their words and opinions was vigorously debated in the press and while many did, it was by no means expected of all who took the free speech side of the debate that they denounce both the views of Zündel and Keegstra and the men themselves for holding those views. Today it is different. The few opinion writers in the mainstream media who have criticized the present Liberal government’s plans to criminalize “Holocaust denial” have made sure to inform us of just how vile and despicable they consider the “deniers” to be. Those, whether they be lawyers, writers or activists, who fight for a free marketplace of ideas against censorship and thought control and who stand up for those accused of committing verbal or thought crimes ought not to be assumed or expected to agree with everything said by those they stand up for. If you are only willing to stand up for the right and freedom to speak of those with whom you agree then you either don’t understand or don’t believe in a free marketplace of ideas. Neither should the defenders of freedom be expected to denounce individuals whose right to speak they are defending but who hold very unpopular views. We would not expect a lawyer defending someone accused of a heinous crime to publicly denounce his client. Indeed, we would consider it unprofessional and inappropriate of him to do so. To make the denunciation and demonization of “Holocaust deniers” a requirement of those defending the “deniers”’ rights and freedom of speech if the defenders do not wish to be smeared with the same brush as those they are defending is no different from demanding such unprofessional and inappropriate conduct from a lawyer. Or it is arguably worse because it amounts to insisting that advocates of the free marketplace of ideas agree to accept something that is the equivalent of price-fixing in the marketplace of goods and services thus fundamentally redefining the very idea of a free marketplace of ideas. The arrogance of those who demand that we denounce the “Holocaust deniers” if we wish to be able to defend their right to speak freely without being suspected of agreeing with them would itself be sufficient reason for me to refuse to give in to such a demand even if it were not the case, as it happens to be, that given a choice of whom I would rather a) run into in a dark alley late at night, b) be stranded on a remote island with, or even just c) be invited to the same dinner party as, I would gladly choose the company of Ernst Zündel, James Keegstra, Paul Rassinier and Robert Faurisson, leaving aside the fact that these are all deceased, over the members of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network any day. Indeed, even if the deceased gentlemen named had been the cartoonish villains, cackling wickedly as they tied women to railroad tracks and foreclosed on widows’ houses that they are depicted as having been, which I don’t think to be the case, they would still be more interesting and better company than the awful, pretentious, self-important, bores with which I just contrasted them.
The transition from healthy, vibrant, debate to this whole sick “you must denounce them or you are one of them” mentality was already underway when John Sack’s article came out and it was a breath of fresh air. He began by telling how his curiosity was piqued by the invitation prompting him to accept it. Then he told of his arrival in California to be told the secret location of the meeting at the last minute to avoid possible violence from the Jewish Defense League, the terrorist organization founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, subsequently led by Irv Rubin and his widow and based in the same state as the IHR, which had attacked the group in the past. From there he moved on to discussing the other attendees and how normal they were – ordinary clothes, ordinary conversation:
All in all, the deniers that day and that weekend seemed the most middling of Middle Americans. Or better: Despite their take on the Holocaust, they were affable, open-minded, intelligent, intellectual. Their eyes weren’t fires of unapproachable certitude, and their lips weren’t lemon twists of astringent hate. Nazis and neo-Nazis they didn’t seem to be.
He gave his impression from his first day there as being that the people at the conference were not anti-Semites or Nazis, but the most ordinary of Americans, who like “everyone in America” believe “one or another ridiculous thing”. Throughout the remainder of the essay he did not deviate from this impression but rather reiterated and reinforced it.
When it comes to his account of the actual lectures at the conference, he treated the views of the presenters fairly. This is a remarkable contrast with how they are generally treated. A couple of years before Sack’s essay came out, I read the book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, which came out the same year as Sack’s An Eye for an Eye and was written by Deborah Lipstadt who was an Assistant Professor of Religion at Emory University when the book was released, becoming Professor of Modern Jewish and Religious Studies later that year. My impression, and it was by no means only my own, was that Lipstadt was an activist rather than a scholarly historian. She did not interact with the arguments of the people she was writing about and refute them. Indeed, she made a huge deal about not doing so, on the grounds that had she interacted with their ideas and given reasons why they were mistaken, this would be debating them, and debating them would conceding that the Holocaust was open to debate. It did not seem to occur to her that by doing so she removed the Holocaust from the realm of history and placed it in the realm of dogma, or that there was any inconsistency between this and her claim to be a professional historian. Much like the anti-“hate” experts here in Canada, she came off as telling people that the “Holocaust deniers” were bad people and that rather than form our own conclusions about that by examining what they had to say for themselves, we should just take her word for it. I refused to swallow that line of thinking and after looking in to what the people she so vilified had to say in their own words, concluded that one could not possibly form an accurate impression of their views from Lipstadt’s book. By contrast, someone reading Sack’s essay would learn from the onset of the portion where he discussed what was said at the conference, that the “Holocaust deniers” do not deny Hitler’s anti-Semitism, that Jews were sent to concentration camps, or that a great many died and were cremated there. When it comes to what the “deniers” do deny, that genocidal intent lay behind all of this, Sack gave his reasons for disagreeing with them, but also observed where elements of their argument – that the confession from the Auschwitz commandant was obtained by torture and that others confessed to things that nobody considers to be true – were correct.
Of the speakers who spoke that weekend, Sack counted six “who’d run afoul of the law because of their disbelief in the Holocaust and the death apparatus at Auschwitz”. After give short accounts of the first five, then thanking God that the United States has the First Amendment – how much longer this will the case now that Joe Biden has appointed a Ministry of Truth remains to be seen, although I suspect the American Supreme Court, if it survives the current progressive fury onslaught against it for wanting to allow states to ban baby murder again, will make short work of this – Sack went on to give a lengthy account of his interaction with the sixth, a man already mentioned in this essay with whom Canadians of my generation will be familiar assuming they paid any attention to the news while growing up. Sack wrote:
The man’s name is Ernst Zundel. He’s round-faced and red-faced like in a Hals, he’s eternally jolly, and he was born in Calmbach, Germany. If you saw the recent movie about the Holocaust deniers, Mr. Death, he’s the man in the hard hat who says, “We Germans will not go down in history as genocidal maniacs. We. Will. Not.” He has become a hero to anti-Semites and, like every denier, has been called anti-Semitic himself, but it’s just as honest to say that the Jews who (along with God) oversee the Jewish community are in fact anti-Zundelic, anti-Countessic, anti-Irvingic, and, in one word, anti-denieric. The normal constraints of time, temperance and truth do not obstruct some Jewish leaders from their nonstop vituperation of Holocaust deniers. (8)
After providing examples of such vituperation from Elie Wiesel and Abraham Foxman, he then expressed his disagreement in these words:
Myself, I disagree with these Jewish leaders. Most deniers, most attendees in their slacks and shorts at the palm-filled hotel, were like Zundel: people who, as Germans, had chosen to comfort themselves with the wishful thinking that none of their countrymen in the 1940s were genocidal maniacs.
Sadly, if this essay was read by anyone with influence in the Canadian and American governments at the time, the point failed to sink in. The year after this essay was included by Dr. Gould in the Best American Essays 2002 anthology the American government arrested Zündel, who had moved to the United States and married an American citizen, sent him back to Canada, where our government under the enhancement of its security certificate powers that Jean Chretien had introduced after the events of the eleventh of September, 2001, held him in solitary confinement, while a biased judge heard secret “evidence” that he – a non-violent man who had been the victim of terrorist violence on the part of the aforementioned Jewish Defense League back during his earlier trials – somehow posed a national security threat, and in 2005 he was deported to Germany, a country which, having learned absolutely nothing at all worth learning from the experience of totalitarianism under Hitler, put him on trial again, and sentenced him to five years in prison for “inciting racial violence”, which was their absurd interpretation of his having expressed his views about the Holocaust. When Zündel died a few years back, Bono – neither Cher’s ex nor the front man for Irish rock band U2 but Toronto Sun neoconservative columnist Mark Bonokoski – apparently thinking himself not bound by the basic rules of human decency in this case, wrote an article in the opposite spirit of de mortuus nil nisi bonum dicendum est and heaped further abuse upon a recently deceased man whose treatment at the hands of our, the American, and the German governments was what was truly appalling, not the man’s eccentric views. This was a textbook example in how not to be classy.
Sack, by contrast, was a class act all the way and in the last portion of his essay, which in addition to treating Holocaust revisionism as being a fundamentally defensive response to the anti-German attitudes that had arisen during and after the war, treated the over-the-top hate-filled response to it by, among others, Jewish leaders, as also being a phenomenon requiring explanation, Sack summarized his own address to the conference – about how hate, like its opposite love, is something that is not depleted by being given away but rather grows, and how anyone – Jew, German, whatever – can be brought to do horrible things if they indulge in it – said that it met with loud and long applause, and concluded by saying:
The conference ended on Monday. No one was attacked by the Jewish Defense League. The deniers (revisionists, they call themselves) meet next in Cincinnati, and they have invited me to be the keynote speaker there. I’ve said yes.
The people Sack was writing about had been subjected to what can only be called dehumanization and demonization, for their dissent from the conventional historical account of the Holocaust of World War II. The frequent targets of violence themselves, progressive – and even, much more to my disgust, conservative – commentators typically write as if this violence was justified and if these people themselves are committing some sort of violence by their opinions and words. While “wokeness” and “cancel culture” have come under some much deserved criticism in recent years, albeit criticism that is insufficient and which should have started years earlier, any attempt to counter these things is bound to fail so long as those opposing this neo-totalitarianism tolerate this mistreatment of Holocaust revisionists. Sack’s essay, treating them as the human being they are, and even intelligent and scholarly ones when such accolades are deserved as they are in the case of the historian David Irving, was a pleasant change from the toxicity that permeates most conventional discussion of this topic. Sadly, it is to the best of my knowledge, the only essay of its kind to find its way into a mainstream publication to this day.
Dr. Gould was right to include it in Best American Essays 2002. It would make my short list for an anthology of the best essays of the twenty-first century. It was good to see a man who got almost everything else wrong his whole life finally get something right at the very end.
(1) Dr. John W. Robbins' " The Trinity Foundation - The Hoax of Scientific Creationism ", published in The Trinity Journal (July/August 1987) and which was originally a talk given to the Baltimore Creation Fellowship is a good summary of how the "scientific creationist" approach compromises Christian truth. Among other things he points out that "scientific creationism" produced a definition of "creationism" so disconnected from the Bible and religion that it could have included Stephen Jay Gould.
(2) A sizable portion of this book was devoted to an attack on the craniology of Samuel George Morton, an early nineteenth century American physician with a very big skull collection, which he measured and correlated with the intelligence of those who had provided these relics. Proving Morton to have been a quack motivated by racist bias was an obsession of Dr. Gould's - he had devoted a paper to this same subject about three years before the book was first published. Since nobody at the time Gould’s book came out derived his own work from Morton's this had all the appearance of a straw man. Morton was long dead, obscure, held to a view of human origins – polygenism - that each of the human races arose separately and not from common stock - that has never been widely held, all making him an easy target. Interestingly, though, two separate research teams examined Morton's skull collection, now the property of the University of Pennsylvania, and concluded the Gould was wrong in accusing Morton of sloppy measurements. Another large portion of the book is devoted to Sir Cyril Burt. Burt, who died about ten years before the first edition of The Mismeasure of Man was published, had been Professor and Chair of Psychology at University College London until his retirement in 1951. After his retirement he had published a number of papers presenting research that supported the idea of a large hereditary component of human intelligence including comparisons made between twins, identical and fraternal, some who had been raised together, and others who had been separated at birth. Shortly after Burt’s death Leon Kamin, who was Chair of Psychology at Princeton at the time, argued that something was wrong with Burt’s research because the correlation coefficients in several of his twin studies papers were identical even though they were dealing with subject groups of different sizes, implying that fraud was involved which implication was made in his 1974 The Science and Politics of IQ which attempted to portray psychometrics and herediterian concepts of intelligence as pseudoscience motivated by racist politics. Kamin’s implied accusation of fraud was made explicit, expanded upon and made more sensational by Oliver Gillie a couple of years later who reported that he could find no trace of two women who had been Burt’s research assistants in the twin studies and had been credited with co-authoring or in a couple of cases sole authorship of papers on the results and suspected that Burt had made the two up. When Burt’s authorized biographer Leslie S. Hearnshaw published his book in 1979, he accepted the charges against Burt. Burt was much more recent than Morton and as was not the case with Morton his work had been very influential on the hereditarian psychologists who were active when Gould published his book – among others Arthur R. Jensen who was Professor of Educational Psychology at University of California, Berkeley, Richard Herrnstein, and Hans J. Eysenck of King’s College, London who had studied under Burt. Gould, needless to say, treated the charges as an open-and-shut case. The charges however, were far but proven. Eight years after Gould’s book first came out Robert B. Joynson’s The Burt Affair was published by Routledge. Joynson went over the whole case and concluded that the accusations of fraud against Burt were false. The papers in which the alleged fraud was perpetrated were written during Burt’s long retirement, based upon data that had been collected between World War I and World War II. His “missing” research assistants, Mary Howard and Jane Conway, had most likely been social workers who began assisting him when he was working as school psychologist for the London County Council, and thus were never found by those who were looking for them in the later period in connection with the University. His accumulated research material was moved around a number of times during the war and required reassembling after. This was a long process and Burt began publishing long before it was complete. As more of the data was recovered, Burt updated figures where more information was available, and re-used the old figures when it was not, taking it for granted that it would be obvious this is what he was doing. The correlations that are the most invariable are the ones that have the least to do with the matter over which Gould, Kamin, et al. accused Burt of perpetrating fraud. Ronald Fletcher similarly concluded that Burt had been falsely accused in Science, Ideology and the Media (1991). The fact that other twin studies done by other researchers fairly consistently yield data similar to Burt’s and which support his conclusions is difficult to explain if the accusations of fraud are correct. Is everyone who engages in this sort of research a fraud motivated by racist politics? Note that the scientists who have come to hereditarian conclusions have represented the entire political spectrum. Arthur Jensen, for example, was a fairly conventional American liberal in the 1960s, at least until American liberals decided he had to be un-personned over his 1969 Harvard Educational Review article about IQ. Conversely, those who hurl sweeping accusations against scientists engaged in psychometrics, sociobiology, or anything else that treats human nature as something other than a tabula rasa as being motivated by crude, racist, sexist, etc., politics all seem to come from the same place on the left wing of the political spectrum. Their accusing others of basing their science on their politics looks a lot like what Freud called projection, don’t you think?
(3) Dr. Edward O. Wilson recounted the famous dispute with his colleague at length in his autobiography Naturalist (1994). See also Dr. Ullica Segerstråle's Defenders of Truth: The Battle for Science in the Sociobiology Debate and Beyond (2000).
(4) This is an understatement. Twenty-two years ago, when Celera and the publicly funded Human Genome Project announced the basic completion of their project of mapping the human genome, then-Celera CEO J. Craig Venter made an asinine remark about how this research had disproven the biological reality of race. This sort of thing – that race is not a biological reality, because the genetic differences within what we call races is so much greater than that which can be found between the races and so race must be a social construct imposed upon biology for dubious social-political reasons – is now routinely taught in the sort of hard science classes that many conservatives think to be so resistant to academic wokeness. It is an idea that comes straight out of the softer social sciences that were long ago taken over by Marxists. It is nonsense. As was observed at the time the exact same reasoning could be used to argue that sex is not a biological reality but a social construct. A single chromosome determines whether someone is male or female. The genetic variation between individuals within both sexes is much greater than this. Little did anyone who pointed out this obvious flaw in the liberal argument then suspect that a couple of decades later the Left would indeed be insisting that there is no biological reality of sex, that there is only “gender” of which the individual is whichever the individual thinks he/she/it/whatever is, that men can be pregnant and menstruate, and all sorts of other similar and related rubbish.
(5) Willis Carto is probably most remembered as founder and head of the Liberty Lobby which published a weekly tabloid The Spotlight with a right-wing populist editorial stance that specialized in stories about currency devaluation, bankers colluding against the public interest, the misdeeds of internationalist, globalist, organizations and think tanks, government cover-ups of various stripes, and basically the sort of thing that is generally considered “conspiracy theory” today. Say what you will about this sort of material – and there is much that can be said both for and against it – articles from The Spotlight that appeared sensational and fringe, to put it mildly, when they first came out, have sometimes taken on the appearance of “they were on to something” from hindsight. To give one example, in 1979 they ran a two-part interview with World War II veteran Douglas Bazata who claimed that he was approached by William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) – the war era predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency – and asked to murder General George S. Patton, that he had turned Donovan down, but someone else had done it and arranged for it to look like an accident. At the time it was widely assumed that The Spotlight and Bazata were both capitalizing on Brass Target which had come out the previous year starring Sophia Loren, John Cassavetes, Robert Vaughn and Max van Sydow, which was the film version of Frederick W. Nolan’s novel The Oshawa Project (or Algonguin Project in the American edition) the plot of which centred around General Patton (played by George Kennedy in the film) being murdered and his murder disguised as an accident. Much later, Robert K. Wilcox wrote a book-length argument that this is in fact what happened – Target Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton (2008). A few years later Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard also wrote a book on this subject, Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General (2014). David McCalden the co-founder and first director of the Institute for Historical Research had been an activist with the National Front before moving to the United States. While the political activism of both men lends weight to the organization’s many critics who say it is motivated entirely by political ideology its present director, Mark Weber, who has been in that role since 1995, is certainly a credentialed historian. It was Weber who extended the invitation to John Sack on the suggestion of David Cole, as the latter revealed in his 2014 memoir Republican Party Animal. Cole, who met McCalden towards the end of the latter’s life, ended up inheriting his papers and books and, taking up this line of research on his own, gained a certain degree of fame or infamy depending upon how you look at it in the 1990s as a Jewish Holocaust revisionist, which was regarded as a novelty even though decades earlier, before the Holocaust was elevated to the level of inscrutable dogma, there had been plenty of these in libertarian circles. Threats from the JDL prompted him to recant in the late 1990s, after which he changed his name to David Stein and became a documentary filmmaker and an event organizer for Hollywood conservatives and Republicans who dropped him like a hot potato when he was “outed” as David Cole about a decade ago (mainstream conservatives are generally as useless as tits on a bull when it comes to standing up for people, even their friends, in situations like this). Cole most certainly was not motivated by ideology of any sort. Michael Shermer, the editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine, and author of Why People Believe Weird Things a 1997 book in which acceptance of the conventional, secular, late twentieth-century, worldview is treated as critical thinking and various ideas outside of this worldview – the way Cole et al. thought about the Holocaust and my own understanding of creation which the author once shared before jumping from Christianity through various other religions to his present superstitious belief in science receive the largest sections – as irrational superstition, to which Stephen Jay Gould contributed a foreword and which for a while was a fairly popular crib for those who regard their university indoctrination as education, their conventional views as enlightened, and are looking for pat answer arguments to justify their smug feelings of intellectual superiority over others who disagree with them, called Cole a “meta-ideologue”, that is, someone who digs in to the deeper explanations underneath ideologies, which seems like it must be very close to how Shermer saw his own role in writing the book mentioned.
(6) Nobody, after all, could possibly have formed a skeptical opinion about the account of atrocities committed in the part of Nazi-occupied Europe that the Soviets drove the Nazis out of and which was occupied by the Soviets after the war and remained under Communist control until the late 1980s, because of questions about the reliability of information largely controlled by the government that perpetrated the Katyn Forrest Massacre (1940) and blamed it on the Germans, now, could they?
(7) It is interesting to note that the late Fred Phelps, the ultra-Calvinistic minister of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas who attained notoriety for picketing the funerals of homosexuals, decades earlier had been a lawyer who specialized in the same sort of cases – and on the same side – as the Southern Poverty Law Center (sic).
(8) Sack spelled Zündel’s name without the umlaut or the e after the u that is often used as a substitute for a u with umlaut in English transliteration of German names. I have left it as he spelt it in quotations from his essay, but used the umlaut myself in other references to Zündel.