dumber than I thought

Mike Lieber (U28550@UICVM.BITNET)
Wed, 19 Oct 1994 16:04:15 CDT

I have received comments both online and offline about my "slanderous" epithets
in reference to Rushton. I used these with forethought to communicate my
contempt for what I see as his manipulation of this list. What I did not
emphasize strongly enough was how dumb I am. I saw his ad and his starting the
thread as a strategy, and like an idiot I thought it was to sell books to US.
Whatever else Rushton may be, he is certainly not dumb. He had to know the
kind of reaction he'd get and that his chances of selling books to us was
Zilch. So why would he want to take the inevitable ration of doo-doo that he
had to know he was going to get? An offline note from someone at his
university finally gave me the answer. Seems that the undergrads come into
introductory anthropology courses believing that Rushton is an anthropologist
and that what he is doing is anthropology. Where do they get that idea?
Then it hit me. Here is a guy advertizing a new book that is bound to be
controversial. If that is so, then he can reasonably expect to go on the
road with the book, and if he plays his cards right, he'll get on a few talk
shows. So what does that have to do with us? Think strategy.

Here's a guy who can't claim to be an anthropologist but seems able to
convince undergrads that what he does is anthropology. Now if there is a way
to link himself with anthropology and anthropologists, he gets an aura of
legitimacy at our expense. At this point, he can truthfully say something
like the following: "I have had extensive discussions with my colleagues in
anthropology, and ...." Or "I belong to an active association of
anthropologists, and we have discussed these matters at great length." If he
has saved the notes into a file, he can print them out on separate sheets, and
show the pile to the audience as proof of his assertion. It wasn't sales he
needed from us, it was legitimacy. We've been had big time.

I am not ashamed, and I am not asking for your forgiveness. The words I used
to convey my contempt do not begin to do justice to the potential damage that
this man can inflict on Anthro-l and on our discipline or to the cynicism
with which these manipulations appear to have been conducted. I would
suggest that instead of worrying about what I now think of as mild epithets,
we better start thinking about how we're going to respond to any attempts by
Rushton or by his publicity people to publically link his work to legitimate
anthropological scholarship and to anthropologists.