Bret Stephens Unites the Internet
The New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens ignited the interwebs with his latest op-ed on Ashkenazi Jews (paywalled), which, among other things, cites some highly questionable sourcing.
As it is a paywalled piece, Daily Beast summarizes thusly:
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens is once again stirring outrage—this time with a piece entitled “The Secrets of Jewish Genius” that cites a paper co-authored by an academic labeled an “extremist” eugenicist and celebrated by white supremacists.
Stephens’ op-ed on Ashkenazi Jews was denounced all over social media as an example of race science bunk.
“How is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of 1 percent of the world’s population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?” Stephens wrote.
He said that Jews “are, or tend to be, smart” and cited the 2005 paper “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence” by Gregory Cochran, Jason Hardy, and Henry Harpending, which declares that Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group. Stephens’ take? “Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different,” he wrote.
As Stephens began trending on Twitter and the New York Times’ tweet of his column was ratioed, the study he cited and its authors drew new scrutiny. Nieman Lab director Joshua Benton noted that the Times itself had published an op-ed last year by a Harvard geneticist, David Reich, in which he denounced Harpending’s work.
A 2005 Times article about the paper cited by Stephens quoted a Cornell University geneticist as saying Harpending and company “make pretty much all the classic mistakes in interpreting heritability,” though also quoted scientists with a less critical view.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has Harpending, who died in 2016, on its list of extremists and lists his ideology as “white nationalist.”
“Harpending has given talks on these ideas at white supremacist conferences, and is widely celebrated among white supremacists on forums like Stormfront and the Vanguard News Network, who see a champion for their cause behind his academic rhetoric,” the center said.
What say you?