Re: Race, Science, & Political Correctness

Phil Nicholls (
Sun, 08 Dec 1996 02:30:30 GMT

Bob Whitaker <> wrote:
>Phil Nicholls wrote:
>> Bob, I have actually read much of Coon's work and as far as I am
>> concerned Coon was ill-treated by anthropology and by some
>> anthropologists. Milford Wolpoff's multi-regional hypothesis of
>> human origins is based in no small part on Coon's work.

>> I will go even farther. I can remember the backlash against
>> sociobiology by cultural anthropologists and only a fool would believe
>> that this was not about the politics of cultural anthropology and it's
>> rejection of anything it say as biological determinism.

>> I remember being part of the graduate student faculty search committee
>> and how any physical anthropologists whose work suggested any sympathy
>> to sociobiology was immediately rejected.

>> I can also tell you about Vincint Sarich's class at UC Berkeley being
>> disrupted by individuals who are uncomfortable about the questions he
>> asks and being labeled a racist for asking them.

>> Bob, what you are doing is exactly the same as what those students and
>> anthropologists did. They label anyone who disagrees with them a
>> bigot, a racists, a biological determinist.
>> You label everyone who disagrees with you a "PC Clone."
>> How very sad that you have become the thing you hate.
>> Phil Nicholls
>> "To ask a question, you must first know
>> most of the answer." Robert Sheckley

> You're making excellent points, but I am afraid that the allowance
>given to heresy early in the centruy is simply no longer the case in
>anthropolgy. What you say about the suppresion of sociobiology and of
>Carleton Coon has been repeatedly and loudly denied by the PC clones in
>this newsgroup.

Bob, you began this whole think with a rant on Boas which turned out
to be historically inaccurate. Your point was that anthropology was
somehow ALWAYS at the call of "the establishment." The fact is
that anthropology is always somewhat heretical -- at least a part of
it is. It seems to try to re-invent itself every 20 years or so.

Sociobiology was not suppressed. There were those who tried but it
was the exception rather than the rule. There is even a journal now
-- Ethology and Sociobiology. A lot of cultural anthropologists
don't like it, but so what. The fact is that sociobiological models
can very easily turn ugly and have. We need the opposition to keep
them from those excesses. Biology is not destiny, it is just

Carelton Coon was ill-treated by some anthropologists but he continued
to teach, was able to publish. Coon's problem was that he was about
20 years out of date. No matter how you cut it, racial taxonomies
are typological. Coon's five racial groups lumped together peoples
whose phenotypic similarity had more to do with parallel evolution.
Race was abandoned because it was replaced by better methods of
studying biological variation and not because of any plot by PC

Finally, your "shouting" has nothing to do with my mentioning the
various incidents and I really doubt if others simply deny that these
t hings happen. The point is that they do not happen often enough to
justify the hysteria you manifest here.


> If I had not kept shouting, you would not have said what you said in
>this newsgroup.
> The simple fact of the matter is that in this day and age, one must
>call the PC clones repeatedly, because there is no countervailing force
>inside the academy.

Phil Nicholls
"To ask a question, you must first know
most of the answer." Robert Sheckley