In which I deconstruct a NYT profile of Steve Pinker

The New York Times has a new profile of Steve Pinker, with a photo that, while nice, doesn’t include his cowboy boots. It concentrates mostly on the letter signed by 550+ academics calling for the Linguistic Society of America to rescind Pinker’s “distinguished fellow” and “media expert” status. Since I’ve discussed that letter in detail, I won’t go over it here, but simply give my take on some of the statements in the NYT’s generally fair profile. I’ll just add, by way of self-aggrandizement, that you read about that here  (as well as the letter in Harper’s that Pinker signed) well before it appeared in the paper of record. And the NYT’s report adds little to what I said. Further, you can read me for free!

Click on the screenshot to read.

The Times comments are indented, while mine are flush left.

The linguists demanded that the society revoke Professor Pinker’s status as a “distinguished fellow” and strike his name from its list of media experts. The society’s executive committee declined to do so last week, stating: “It is not the mission of the society to control the opinions of its members, nor their expression.”

Good for them! That’s a slap in the face to the letter signers. But then there’s this:

But a charge of racial insensitivity carries power in the current climate, and the letter sounded another shot in the fraught cultural battles now erupting in academia and publishing.

What power did it carry if it didn’t accomplish what it set out to do? The “power of Twitter”? (I’d add that “sounded another shot” is bad writing. “Fired another shot” would be better.)

In an era of polarizing ideologies, Professor Pinker, a linguist and social psychologist, is tough to pin down. He is a big supporter of Democrats, and donated heavily to former President Barack Obama, but he has denounced what he sees as the close-mindedness of heavily liberal American universities. He likes to publicly entertain ideas outside the academic mainstream, including the question of innate differences between the sexes and among different ethnic and racial groups. And he has suggested that the political left’s insistence that certain subjects are off limits contributed to the rise of the alt-right.

This is the kind of wording that I read differently from others, perhaps because I think the Times has an agenda.  Why does somebody have to be “pinned down?  What are the “pins” on which we’re to be impaled? “Progressive woke leftist,” “Liberal”, “Centrist,” “Conservative, and “Nazi”?  Pinker is a left-centrist, I suppose, but one who thinks for himself and is unwilling to accept “received wisdom” without data behind it. The description of his intellectual independence is positive to me, not “something hard to pin down,” and why bother to pin someone down in the first place? All they had to say is that he’s a liberal but has independent opinions that often don’t jibe with the mantras of progressive Leftism.  The Times would prefer somebody to be pinned down because it fits better into their Manichaean ideology.

The origin of the letter remains a mystery. Of 10 signers contacted by The Times, only one hinted that she knew the identity of the authors. Many of the linguists proved shy about talking, and since the letter first surfaced on Twitter on July 3, several prominent linguists have said their names had been included without their knowledge.

Several department chairs in linguistics and philosophy signed the letter, including Professor Barry Smith of the University at Buffalo and Professor Lisa Davidson of New York University. Professor Smith did not return calls and an email and Professor Davidson declined to comment when The Times reached out.

These people are a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards. Why would they sign such a strong letter and then refuse to talk about it, or decline to comment? I suspect it’s because their “accusations” proved to be a bunch of nonsense and that many of them are embarrassed to have signed it. I’d love to chat with some of them and ask them, for instance, why referring to Bernie Goetz as “mild-mannered”, when several liberal media did at the time he shot people on the subway, is such a sin. And who included people’s names without their knowledge?

The linguists’ letter touched only lightly on questions that have proved storm-tossed for Professor Pinker in the past. In the debate over whether nature or nurture shapes human behavior, he has leaned toward nature, arguing that characteristics like psychological traits and intelligence are to some degree heritable.

The heritability of the traits mentioned, like IQ, is not in question. IQ is at least 50% heritable within populations, becoming more heritable with age—up to 80%. What you do with those data is contentious, but the NYT implies here that the data simply reflect Pinker’s “arguments” rather than real scientific evidence. It’s like saying this: “In the debate about whether evolution or creation is true, Pinker has leaned toward evolution, arguing that observations like the fossil record and biogeography support evolution.” This way of describing real data as a sort-of-opinion is implicitly anti-science.

The clash may also reflect the fact that Professor Pinker’s rosy outlook — he argues that the world is becoming a better place, by almost any measure, from poverty to literacy — sounds discordant during this painful moment of national reckoning with the still-ugly scars of racism and inequality.

Partly, I’m sure, but note that Pinker was demonized by the far Left long before George Floyd was murdered. And his claims about the moral improvement of humanity are more than arguments, as they’re based on data. That’s why Better Angels is filled with graphs. Many of his claims about things getting better are simply uncontestable.

Finally, a telling omission:

The linguists insisted they were not attempting to censor Professor Pinker. Rather, they were intent on showing that he had been deceitful and used racial dog whistles, and thus, was a disreputable representative for linguistics. . . .

Umm. . . here’s what the original said (my emphasis):

We want to note here that we have no desire to judge Dr. Pinker’s actions in moral terms, or claim to know what his aims are. Nor do we seek to “cancel” Dr. Pinker, or to bar him from participating in the linguistics and LSA communities (though many of our signatories may well believe that doing so would be the right course of action). We do, however, believe that the examples introduced above establish that Dr. Pinker’s public actions constitute a pattern of downplaying the very real violence of systemic racism and sexism, and, moreover, a pattern that is not above deceitfulness, misrepresentation, or the employment of dogwhistles. In light of the fact that Dr. Pinker is read widely beyond the linguistics community, this behavior is particularly harmful, not merely for the perception of linguistics by the general public, but for movements against the systems of racism and sexism, and for linguists affected by these violent systems.

There’s more than just “censorship” here; in particular there’s the claim that they aren’t judging the morality of Pinker’s actions. That claim is laughable in view of the letter’s repeated accusations of racism and sexism against Pinker, and the implicit accusation that Pinker knew exactly what he was doing with his “dog whistles”. Aren’t those connected with morality? I think the funniest sentence in the letter, and the most duplicitous, is the first sentence in the paragraph above.

As I said, I think the profile, by and large, is pretty good and objective. But it leaves out crucial parts of the kerfuffle, and irks me by implying that data-based claims are simply “arguments”.

 

60 Comments

  1. DrBrydon
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Video of the condor, Jerry.

  2. Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    The article struck me by its author’s cowardliness, trying very hard to play things down the middle and not take sides. It’s like the evening network news where they just report the facts and the controversy in order to let the viewer make his/her own opinions. I sense the author’s fear that the Woke editors and readers judge him as being on Pinker’s side. It is just so bland.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      I have not read the full article, but I thought not taking sides is what one would hope to see in such an article. Though even with that goal in mind they could certainly do better in various places. The bit about not being able to pin Pinker down seems especially strained.

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I suppose it was news, not opinion. It was categorized under the “U.S.” section rather than “Opinion”.

      • darrelle
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know exactly what Paul had in mind, but a positively common problem I see in journalism these days is that the “not taking sides” thing has long since become a caricature of what I, and probably you, think that phrase is supposed to mean. It has become a ludicrous, sort of like “You should keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out!” Gradually over the past few decades journalism has taken “telling both sides of the story” and “not taking sides” to the point where their brains have fallen out.

        What has gotten lost, IMO, is what is actually true. Simply relating various sides, allowing people on various sides to have their say, and not saying anything about the truth of the matter or the factual accuracy of what any of the sides have said, is a grave disservice to society. This particular article, while far from the worst, does exactly that sort of thing in both subtle and not so subtle ways.

        Journalism not taking sides on opinions is one thing but reducing everything to matters of opinion, all of which have equal validity, has, in my opinion, provided significant reinforcement for many of the reality denying attitudes on both the Right and the Left.

        • Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

          There is such a problem, where not taking sides means not educating the public about the issues. The worst I see in this is where CNN will host a discussion about some nasty issue du jour, and to entertain but not educate us they have spokes-persons, not experts (big difference) who are on opposite sides. They then proceed to yell at each other for 5 minutes. Nothing useful happens, of course, and then the host says “well, I guess we will just leave it at that!”

          • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

            Actually, CNN used to do that but now they seem mostly to have experts on that present their side of things. Some might call it liberal but I think they mostly just try for rational and factual.

            The opposition no longer sends anyone to be on CNN, judging by what the hosts say. Chris Cuomo invites them to tell their side of the story but, according to him, they don’t respond. I don’t blame them as their side of the story wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny. A couple of years ago, arguments could be made in favor of, say, Trump’s approach to Chinese trade but what are they going to offer in favor of his approach to the pandemic?

  3. William Boecklen
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    “He likes to publicly entertain ideas outside the academic mainstream, including the question of innate differences between the sexes and among different ethnic and racial groups.”

    I guess biology is now considered outside the academic mainstream.

  4. Mike
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    I thought that a significant tell here is that Michael Powell is a *sports* writer for the NYT. Admittedly he has no sports to write about these days, but it says a lot that the profile was not written by anyone from the news or opinion side of the paper.

  5. darrelle
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    “These people are a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards”

    Did you write that in your best George C Scott channeling Patton voice? That’s certainly the way I readheard it!

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Further, you can read me for free!

    WEIT would still be a bargain at twice the price.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure what to think of that!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        That you’re dealing with a non-STEM major who lacks a firm grip on the zero property of multiplication?

        But if it makes you feel better, I’ll make that at triple the price. 🙂

  7. Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Data and the scientific method are whiteness and aren’t more reliable than people’s “lived truths” (don’t ya know).

    Hench they are, by definition, false and suspect.

    Yesterday my local (increasingly woke) NPR station, a guest said that (I paraphrase; but only a little) Columbus was no explorer, he was just a completely evil person. And it went completely unchallenged.

    My local NPR has become: Identity politics all the time. Every story is now being presented through the lens of identity politics.

    Even Science Friday now feels the need to discuss, in every segment, how people of color feel about the subject (as if anyone can speak for all non-white people!). Not too long ago, they had a segment with some kind of Native American religious leader and they talked about their “other ways of knowing”; and Ira Flatow (I’m sure on pain of keeping his job) did not challenge this. On an effing show about science! It’s not good identity politics to ask, “how do you know that?” Good grief!

    Nearly every week, some segment makes me come close to pulling the plug on my sustaining support. But they are still better than the other news sources, which is basically scary.

  8. darrelle
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “This way of describing real data as a sort-of-opinion is implicitly anti-science.

    Excellent point. Another thing that struck me about the passage in question is that they simply mischaracterized Pinker’s position on the nature vs nurture issue. He doesn’t lean towards nature. Sure, he did very nicely skewer the Blank Slate hypothesis. But he doesn’t lean one way or the other. He understands that both nature and nurture are significant factors. And really, there aren’t many things that are as “no shit” as that.

  9. eric grobler
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    “in the NYT’s generally fair profile”

    Perhaps time for another staff revolt?

  10. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    “… the current climate …”

    That phrase, along with “what’s going on now”, I have grown to interpret as weak, lazy writing. Because it is always the “current climate”, there is always something “going on now”. What, precisely, these related phrases mean, is unclear. However, their function in persuasion is evident.

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      Sub

  11. Type Logician
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Re your query about the names on the Pinker/LSA letter: Ray Jackendoff’s name was electronically forged on the petition, and he was horrified and indignant when he was informed that it was there. Ray and Pinker have collaborated in the past—in particular on a celebrated takedown of a 2002 paper in Science by Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch—which appeared in Elsevier’s journal Science Direct, and my guess is that whoever put it in there was trolling not just Pinker but Jackendoff, who as far as I know holds views of Pinker 180º opposed to those expressed the open letter. Michel de Graff at MIT also had his name added without his knowledge and had it removed as soon as he became aware of the fact. A few other names which appeared were obviously facetious, including one which is an anagram of ‘Enlightenment’. There was apparently only very loose control—or maybe none—over the authenticity of the signatories by the people circulating the letter.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      If there are forged signatures on the letter, and I see no reason to doubt it, then the letter is invalid as far as I am concerned. It brings into question the integrity of the author.

      • Type Logician
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Absolutely.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      If they weren’t so yellow-bellied, they would have forged Pinker’s name to it. That would have carried some weight!

    • James Walker
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      Not only was there apparently no attempt to verify the signatories, there was no attempt to ascertain that they were even LSA members – anyone who “identified” as a linguist was allowed to sign.

  12. CCC
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile prominent democratic politicians (like AOC) say that cancel culture doesn’t exist. Well of course they say that, that’s exactly what you would say if you were part of it.

    I always said that AOC is the Sarah Palin of the Left…

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      AOC is smarter than Palin but it’s a low bar, admittedly.

      • CCC
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, I agree. I think AOC is less dumb than Palin, but only because of the age difference. Still, give her some years and she’ll become as dumb as Palin.

  13. Posted July 16, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised nobody really questioned the authorship of the letter, or the way in which signatures were obtained.

    Sorry, but I don’t understand your statement, “IQ is at least 50% heritable within populations, becoming more heritable with age—up to 80%.” The first part is clear, but what age is referred to in the second? Sorry if I’m a bit dense.

    • Adam M.
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      As you get older, the amount of variation in IQ that can be attributed to environment diminishes and the amount of variation in IQ that can be attributed to genes increases. In other words, environmental differences have a larger effect on children’s intelligence, but they don’t last; as people grow up those environmentally caused differences diminish.

      • Posted July 17, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        If the causes vary with age, doesn’t that mean that IQ is changing? It can’t be due to a different thing and be the same thing? I did not know IQ was considered to vary. All I know is that it is somewhat of a fraught concept, at least its measurement.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Based on a meta-analysis of 11,000 sets of twins, among other research and evidence.

      See the description of genetic amplification in this paper:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270739/

  14. Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    The article by Powell virtually defines the term “wishy washy”.

  15. rickflick
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “…harmful, not merely for the perception of linguistics by the general public, but for movements against the systems of racism and sexism”

    There’s the smoking gun, right there. They admit they, the movement against racism/sexism, are furious when anyone presents data that conflicts with their beliefs.

  16. Filippo
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    ” . . . Professor Pinker’s rosy outlook . . . . sounds discordant. . . .”

    This is reportorial opinionating.

    (One is no less entitled to say that reportage is – and reporters are – “discordant,” – and for that matter “controversial.”)

    “Sounds” is synonymous with “seems.” If the “sounds” thang must be included, it should be part of a quote from a third party (still expressing an OPINION).

  17. Jeffrey Punske
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I know for a fact that he NY Times author did speak to people who he then failed to quote.

    He also appears to have mostly just gone down the list alphabetically.

    Speech is not due to anyone. Many viewed Mr. Powell’s previous work and simply concluded that comment would not be prudent because it is unlikely they would be fairly represented.

    The questions dogging the LSA and Dr. Pinker are not questions of free speech. Bringing them up confuse the issue. They are questions of association and representation. I defend fully Dr. Pinker’s right to articulate whatever view he wishes– no matter how odious it is. However, I do not wish those views to be presented in my name. That is quite simple and quite reasonable.

    • Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      What is not reasonable is to say that Pinker’s views as represented by the letter were odious. The letter misrepresented them, every one. So if you bought into the letter’s thesis, I think you’re sorely mistaken.

      • Jeffrey Punske
        Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

        David Adger in this blog post sums it up better than I can.

        https://davidadger.org/2020/07/09/that-lsa-letter/

        • Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

          Adger is a Pecksniff who has no sense of how to interpret a tweet: he goes for the worst possible explanation because he’s a Pecksniff who just wants to be offended. I analyzed all the criticisms (save the race one, and I’d defend Pinker there, too), and found them insupportable.
          And because of his misguided, hair-trigger analysis, Adger wants to strip Pinker of his honors.

          Too bad the LSA doesn’t agree with you and Adger. . . .

          • Type Logician
            Posted July 16, 2020 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

            @Jeffrey Punske: you might also check out the widely circulated letter from Barbara Hall Partee, a member of the first generation of LSA Fellows and arguably the most distinguished living semanticist. She demonstrates quite convincingly—and in a way completely consonant with Jerry’s own analysis—what the letter and the signatories got wrong about Pinker’s post. While you’re at it, take a look at Mother Jones’ trenchant dissection of that disgraceful letter, and its abuse of language. The authors and the signatories of that letter have a *lot* to answer for.

            And as an LSA Fellow, Pinker isn’t presenting his views in your name, or anyone else’s but his own. Neither he nor anyone else on the roster of the LSA Fellowships is a mouthpiece for your views, the LSA’s views in general, or anyone else’s but his own. The LSA designated him a Fellow on the basis of a very strong record, over his long scholarly lifetime, of empirically-based research, articulately presented and clearly argued. That description stands. You disagree with his conclusions? No one is stopping you from publishing counteranalyses.

        • Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          Adger says it is all about “misrepresentation and harm.” Nowhere does Adger tell us why these crimes perpetrated in a few tweets warrant stripping Pinker of his LSA honors. Surely a rule of engagement in these social media times should be to assume that someone’s opinion may not be adequately expressed in a tweet or two. Such tweets should be a starting point for discussion, not cancelling.

    • Filippo
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      “I know for a fact that he [sic] NY Times author did speak to people who he then failed to quote.”

      Do you feel as free to state that you know for a fact that the names of one or more alleged signees had their names added to the letter without their permission?

      They apparently did not want the letter’s “views to be presented in their names.”

    • Mike
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Mr. Powell is a sports reporter. How could anyone “[view his] previous work and… conclude[] that comment would not be prudent because it is unlikely they would be fairly represented”?

  18. Posted July 16, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    “He is a big supporter of Democrats, and donated heavily to former President Barack Obama, but he has denounced what he sees as the close-mindedness of heavily liberal American universities.”

    Also New York Times

    “Obama on Call-Out Culture: ‘That’s Not Activism’
    The former president challenged young activists for being judgmental. “You should get over that quickly,” he said.”
    -2019/10/31

    How quickly they forget!

  19. Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Pinker’s “Better Angels…” would still carry the same hit to wokeness and the aggreived holding that all the stats, graphs, data, would still look the same if it was some other author, academic, had compiled it into a mammoth book… it’s tone and delivery might or most likely be different but if the goal is to show a human direction i.e. struggle from a violent past, “Better Angels” was a eye-opener.
    Their mistake is to think that Pinker is responsible for exposing us to it when we ‘feel’ so much… inequality, racism, violence and agitation.
    Somehow this describes Pinker as a person who opposes human moral and civil progress and to deny their right to shallow tribal pessimism.
    The job is not done and never will be, is that pessimistic enough for them.
    So in a nutshell:
    Let’s shoot the piano player!

    • Mateus Barros
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      One of the yellow-bellied cowards who signed the original letter here.

      Honestly kind of taken aback by reactions to the original letter to the LSA like this hot take.

      To my knowledge there have been many people talking about the letter, defending having signed it, and continuing the discussion about Pinker’s problematic (to say the least) positions on the issues brought up in the letter.

      It’s not just linguists either, here’s an entire journal issue dedicated to criticism of Pinker’s Better Angels by professional historians, for example.

      https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/historical-reflections/44/1/historical-reflections.44.issue-1.xml?fbclid=IwAR3x6PMMioh2CZFnZ3tiW3ZmrQJ797-974gFlcKiJolnYiavf674o50cEm0

      In any case, I’ll second what Professor Punske mentioned above – I’ll defend Professor Pinker’s right to say whatever he wants, no matter how odious. The letter had nothing to do with free speech, and everything to do with issues of representation and association.

      It’s only cancel culture if it comes from the Cancelle region of France. Otherwise it’s just sparkling consequences.

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        “Hot take”? I went through the letter accusation by accusation. Honestly taken aback by those who, like you, want to strip Pinker of his honors because you misinterpreted his tweets. Seriously, describing Bernie Goetz as”mild-mannered” gets someone demonized? And you participate in that. Shame on you!

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        “I’ll defend Professor Pinker’s right to say whatever he wants, no matter how odious.”

        Doesn’t sound like it. Perhaps you need to look up “defend” in the Linguist’s Dictionary. One should engage someone with “odious” views, not try to damage their career. I guess you should have added “but I reserve the right to personally attack people with whom I differ.” What shall we call THAT right?

      • Posted July 16, 2020 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Odious? How are Pinker’s views odious? If you think his facts are wrong or misleading or misinterpreted, show why. If the facts are right, and you find them odious, too bad.

  20. Klav
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    A linguistics post-doc has written a blog post identical in topic to yours, with exactly the opposite point. He too discusses the NY Times article point by point, but argues that it is a slanted pro-Pinker piece that misrepresents the opposition. Taking no sides here, but interesting to compare:

    View at Medium.com

  21. Steve Gerrard
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    “The clash may also reflect the fact that Professor Pinker’s rosy outlook…sounds discordant during this painful moment of national reckoning with the still-ugly scars of racism and inequality.”

    A national reckoning with the scars of racism is precisely the sort of good thing that can take place in a society which has gotten better over the decades! We couldn’t do it then; we can (maybe) do it now; this is the very definition of improvement.

    Young people insisting we come to terms with our past and fix the wrongs: is that our bad angels talking, or is it our better angels?

    • Mike
      Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

      “A national reckoning with the scars of racism is precisely the sort of good thing that can take place in a society which has gotten better over the decades! We couldn’t do it then; we can (maybe) do it now; this is the very definition of improvement.”

      +1

  22. kelskye
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure why it’s unfashionable (perhaps even taboo) not to be pinned down by political tribal beliefs. With such a huge range of topics the modern political world demands an opinion from us on, how people come to their current beliefs is going to vary wildly, thus making divergence the expectation rather than exception.

    I personally look back at the beliefs I once had and how they differ from now, and I can see the influence of particular thinkers and events that have shaped it. Why would this be different for anyone else?

  23. Jon Gallant
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    If the circulator(s) of the letter added
    some “signatories” without consulting them, shouldn’t that qualify the perpetrator(s) to
    be thrown out of the LSA and perhaps out of their professional appointment or graduate fellowship? Do linguists not consider forgery to be unprofessional conduct? I
    am under the impression that forgery and identity theft are crimes under federal law.

  24. Carl
    Posted July 17, 2020 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Pinker and Coyne are two of the good guys – smart, honest, courageous. That they seem heroic is a very sad commentary on our current culture.


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