Archive for September, 2011

We Are All Laurasians

Until the discovery of Neanderthal admixture in all non-African populations by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the most publicly popular narrative of human evolution and settlement around the globe was the Out of Africa model, which posited that all humans descended from a single population of humans originating in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago who proceeded to settle the globe in the subsequent years, completely replacing whatever archaic hominids may have been occupying the lands that they settled.  The model received a further blow after the sequencing of DNA from a fossil finger bone found in Denisova revealed that Melanesian populations had further admixture with the population to which the individual whose finger was found belonged.

The notion that all humans were completely descended from a single population living in Africa 200,000 years ago appealed to the ideological framework of some on the secular left who saw it both as a rebuke to the Creationist narratives that were held by scriptural literalists as well as a possible means of arguing that race itself was a meaningless concept.  Ironically, just as this worldview was disintegrating, Richard Dawkins placed this T-shirt for sale at his site’s store:

But Dawkin’s design is certainly not the only “We are all Africans” T-shirt design.  Here’s one that is cataloged with a set of “Atheist Designs” at Spreadshirt:

Here is one version from Squidoo that actually directly incorporates the Out of Africa model:

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The Galton Inequality

One of the popular signifiers of Christianity has been the ΙΧΘΥΣ symbol, which has been standardized for use on the rear bumpers of devoutly Christian drivers everywhere, sometimes with the Greek written on the belly as can be seen below on the left.  In response, some secularists produced the image on the right showing a fish with legs and DARWIN written on its body as can be seen below on the right.  Since then there have been an explosion of competing bumper logos symbolizing the ideological combat of Darwinians and Christian Creationists made on both sides.

In a similar vein, Glaivester (hat tip: Eugenicist) has made a parody of the equal sign:

While I like the concept, I think that the execution needs some improvement in two areas. The first is that in the inequality sign (≠), the slash runs in the opposite direction. The second is that, though Glaivester’s version seems to be a parody on the logo of the Human Rights Campaign, the formost LGBT* lobbying organization in the United States, it is quite a bit more elongated than the original logo. As such, using the original logo as a template (the blue background version, on the left), I’ve made my own version of the Galton Inequality, as shown on the left.

I’ve also created a Logos page where I have some variations on the graphic for those who would prefer a different color combination.  Feel free to use and distribute these logos as you see fit.

*Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender, for those uninitiated in gender politics

It’s been over half a year since I created this blog, but looking back, I’ve noticed that I have not yet given a a satisfactory explanation of my pseudonym, which is important, since taking it at face value could give a mistaken impression.

Apostasy is typically refers to rejection of one’s religious origins and has mostly been used in conjunction with Islam because of that particular religion’s attitude toward apostasy.  On that front, I would qualify as an apostate from Christianity, but when I created the blog, the apostasy I had in mind was political:

It is a bit more difficult to describe my political views.  They are easiest to define in the negative: I, unlike most of my friends and family, am not a conventional American liberal or progressive.

I choose to use the word “apostate” to refer to my turning away from American liberalism because in many ways, that ideology has a quasi-religious structure such that morality is partially tied to politics.  In particular, the concept of equality plays a strong normative role in the worldview of the Left and it is one of the main tenets that I reject, which by the definition set forth by Paul Gottfried, makes me a Man of the Right.

I choose to refer to myself as a reluctant apostate because I understand the difficulty of apostasy as a viable route to a worldview and that is that an apostate is defined by what he is not and in opposition to his past worldview.  An apostate is giving up a system of beliefs without necessarily adopting a complete replacement.  While as an apostate, I reject the structures of thought that predominate the Left, I recognize the dangers that this entails.  Just as a religious apostate can fill the newfound void with an even more pernicious worldview, such as Marxist communism, one who rejects the doctrines of the Left must be aware that some of the alternatives lead down a far more destructive path.

I’d also like to add my reluctance as an apostate as has some personal roots.  Most of my family and the people who I’ve associated with through most of my life would identify as liberal or progressive.  The fact that I am writing under a pseudonym is an indicator of the extent to which I am willing to air my heretical views publicly.


In recent weeks, a YouTube poster with the user name HeyRuka has been held up among a few bloggers in the race realist blogosphere.  As someone with a pseudonymous blog, it is heartening to see a young woman who is willing to argue against the conventional wisdom on racial matters and on video, no less.  However, as Unamused points out in a recent post, her main focus as a video blogger is on atheism.  For example, here she is riffing on antitheism:

While as per my initial post, I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist, I can’t say that I endorse many of her statements.  I personally find the religious thinking to be overly superstitious and I don’t partake in religion myself, but I cannot deny that religious people tend to be more charitable than the nonreligious or that religion provides an important social bond for societies around the world, a fact reflected in its etymology:

From religiōn-, the stem of the Latin religiō (“scrupulousness”, “pious misgivings”, “superstition”, “conscientiousness”, “sanctity”, “an object of veneration”, “cult-observance”, “reverence”), from religō (“I bind back or behind”), from re + ligō (“I tie, bind, or bandage”).

Nonetheless, I consider myself to be an agnostic atheist and I put emphasis on the atheism.  When I brought that up months ago in a  comment on hbd chick’s blog, she gave the following reply:

i’m an agnostic atheist, too, more-or-less. my gut tells me there is no god, but my head tells me that we can’t be sure. but, if i were interviewed for the gss i would definitely respond #2 [NO WAY TO FIND OUT, the GSS option for agnostics].

I respect that viewpoint, but I’d like to use the rest of this post to discuss why given the choice of identifying as an agnostic or an atheist I choose atheist.  As Unamused aptly pointed out, a discussion of atheism cannot be productive unless the ground rules are set.  I also liked Unamused’s definitions of theism and atheism, so I’ll quote them here:

Theism means belief in the existence of gods, so I define atheism, sensibly enough, as lack of belief in the existence of gods.

I would further add, in the same vein, a definition of agnosticism as lack of a knowledge claim concerning the existence of gods.

The reason that I primarily identify as an atheist rather than an agnostic is that identification as an atheist says something about one’s view of reality while agnosticism says something about one’s view of the state of one’s knowledge.  While I do think that acknowledgment of the limitations of one’s knowledge is important and that an atheist who is certain that no being that would qualify as a deity exists is foolish, I think that it is more important to emphasize one’s view of reality over one’s view of knowledge if a choice must be made.

To be clear, I have a basic view of reality that does not include any deities.  I acknowledge that I do not know that I am correct my exclusion of deities and I further believe that, barring the emergence of extraordinary evidence provided in favor of a deity’s existence, it would be impossible for me to determine whether or not deities exist to an extent that would satisfactorily qualify as knowledge.  Nonetheless, it seems to me that quirks of the human mind are a more plausible explanation of the widespread existence of mystical beliefs than the actual existence of God or lesser deities and that given the knowledge presented by modern physics and biology, no deity is necessary to explain the current state of the Universe.

A Warmer World

I haven’t posted anything regarding the topic of climate change, but I did want to highlight what I thought was a very good article by John Derbyshire in Taki’s Magazine under the title “Al Gore’s Dream of Power”, which touches on some recent comments by former Vice President Al Gore comparing global warming skeptics with racists during the civil rights era.  While many liberals upon hearing the title of the article and that the author is a conservative would assume that this was another piece aimed at discrediting scientific consensus by attacking Al Gore, Derbyshire states that science tells us that:

The Earth’s climate is variable. It is currently varying on an overall (several-year moving average) warming trend. Some part of this current trend is due to human activity.

Indeed, while many elements of the political Right have hewn to a line that anthropogenic global warming is a hoax, the fact is that the great majority of climate scientists accept some form of anthropogenic global warming and the evidence against it is currently pretty weak.  What really is at issue is the normative aspect of this fact and the politics surrounding it.  Conservatives have done themselves some damage by choosing to dispute the science itself, though open dispute is healthy for science, rather than asking whether the effects of an average temperature rise were truly dire events and discussing the power, or lack thereof, that political actors have in shaping our climatic future.

Those two issues are ones of great uncertainty, but in both cases, the evidence is stacked against those seeking radical political approaches to climatic issues.  Contrary to the claims of Bill Nye, there is nothing that suggests that Irene was “caused” by climate change.  It was, in fact, a rather mundane hurricane whose most noteworthy feature was that its path led to America’s largest city and media center, New York.  The repeated conflation of periodic weather events with rising global temperatures is an area with regard to climate that those on the political Left are frequently grasping at straws with regard to evidence.

Further, while higher average temperatures may be detrimental to some regions, it is hard to argue that expanded temperate zones and longer growing seasons in higher latitudes as well as the opening of new sea lanes during summer months, all of which are likely consequences of an upward creep in average global temperature, are bad events.  The extent to which this would be a dominant trend relative to predictions of sea level rise that threatens low-lying populations such as Bangladesh is outside the scope of reliable climate modeling.

Finally, the constellation of interests around the globe make it unlikely that any major global political action will succeed at preventing a significant amount of fossil fuel usage, which is suspected of being man’s largest contribution to the current climate trend.  Furthermore, given fossil fuels’ status as the most commons sources of energy, stemming from their reliability, versatility, and prices, combined with their finite availability, any cuts in short term usage are likely to be nearly balanced out by greater future usage as easily accessed deposits would simply be depleted more slowly, barring civilizational collapse, an outcome far worse than what all but the most dire predictions regarding Earth’s climate countenance.

In any event, I would recommend John Derbyshire’s piece, as I think it is an accurate assessment of the landscape we face in terms of the science, the politics, and the uncertainty, and advocates a sound approach to thinking about the topic, one that has been eschewed both by most on the Left and the Right.