Replies to Birney, Raff, Rutherford & Scally

  • Ewan Birney, Jennifer Raff, Adam Rutherford, Aylwyn Scally. Race, genetics and pseudoscience: an explainer. Ewan’s Blog: Bioinformatician at large.
  • Additional remarks by Raff on her blog On Race, Genetics, and Pseudoscience
    • Main thing of interest “Over the course of a year, we worked together on a statement that best reflects our consensus view of human genetic variation, race, and even the fraught topic of race and IQ.”
    • Spent a year apparently on writing a brief blogpost and not even getting past the obvious strawmen.

Birney et al wrote a blogpost attacking hereditarianism. They did it in the curious way of not actually citing or even linking to any hereditarian writing, but making vague references like:

… A small number of researchers, mostly well outside of the scientific mainstream, have seized upon some of the new findings and methods in human genetics, and are part of a social-media cottage-industry that disseminates and amplifies low-quality or distorted science, sometimes in the form of scientific papers, sometimes as internet memes – under the guise of euphemisms such as ‘race realism’ or ‘human biodiversity’. Their arguments, which focus on racial groupings and often on the alleged genetically-based intelligence differences between them, have the semblance of science, with technical-seeming tables, graphs, and charts. But they’re misleading in several important ways. The aim of this article is to provide an accessible guide for scientists, journalists, and the general public for understanding, criticising and pushing back against these arguments.

So, their article is a sort of “here’s why the other people are pseudoscientists, they are so bad in fact we shall not even link to them”, typical of holier than thou woke scientists. In reality, their blogpost attacks a lot of strawmen, which is not so surprising given that they refuse to read (it seems) and cite the people they purport to engage with. For this reason, I don’t think engaging with this piece is much worth the time, since it is better spent doing actual genomics research on race that might provide some answers. However, others felt it was worth replying, here’s a collection:

I will add more if I see them. All the above are from people Birney et al presumably had in mind when they wrote their piece.

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