More mishigas at Scientific American: A claim that opposition to evolution comes from white supremacy, not religion

July 11, 2021 • 10:00 am

As Scientific American continues its inexorable circling of the drain, it’s approaching the drainhole itself. For, from a week ago, we have an op-ed by Allison Hopper asserting that Americans’ rejection of evolution—73% of Americans are either straight-up Biblical creationists (40%) or think God helped guide evolution (33%)—is due not to religion as many suppose, but to white supremacy. It’s all about racism, Jake! (I was not the first to proposed the religion-is-the-main-cause of rejecting-evolution thesis, but laid out the case, with supporting data, in a paper in Evolution in 2012.)

Hopper rejects that thesis in her Sci Am article, saying that the idea that people reject evolution because of religion is a “lie”. To wit:

“I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies. “

Well, she’s dead wrong about her thesis, as I’ll argue below, but also in her claim that evolution denialism “perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.” It does nothing of the sort! You really have to distort your thinking to claim that people are prone to deny evolution because they’re white supremacists, much less embrace the idea that creationism (which is what I’ll call “evolution denial”, since they’re pretty much equivalent in America) creates “violence against Black bodies”. What kind of violence? Has any black person been harmed in the name of creationism? And what is it with this “black bodies” trope?  That seems to me distinctly unwoke, since the trend in “progressive” language is to emphasize the humanity of oppressed people, i.e., “enslaved persons” instead of “slaves”. Saying “black bodies” instead of “black people” clearly dehumanizes people, and I deplore it.

But I digress. Before we examine Hopper’s arguments, such as they are, here are her bona fides from the article:

Allison Hopper is a filmmaker and designer with a master’s degree in educational design from New York University. Early in her career, she worked on PBS documentaries. More recently, she’s been creating content for young people on the topic of evolution. She has presented on evolution at the Big History Conference in Amsterdam and Chautauqua, among other places.

And here’s her article, which you can read for free by clicking on the screenshot below:

Hopper is trying here to jump on the current bandwagon that everything is about race, including rejection of evolution. And, she implies, once we acquaint people with the fact that creationism is a product not of religion but of white supremacy, they’ll give up their creationism and embrace evolution.

Her argument goes like this:

1.) Many people don’t realize that all humans descend from African ancestors (true).

2.) Those African ancestors had dark skin. (Also true.) However, in their case “black” or “brown” does not equate with “oppressed”, since there were no white people to oppress them. Different species of hominin may have oppressed each other, but that had nothing to do with pigmentation.

3.) Importantly, human culture sprang from dark-skinned ancestors who had religion, language, fire, and tool use. These were the foundations, argues Hopper, for the culture we have today. It’s true that these bases (except, perhaps, for religion and language, about whose origin we know virtually nothing) probably sprang from dark-skinned ancestors. But other features of modern culture evolved in Europe and the Middle East, where natural selection had already been lightening skin color. (This constant emphasis on the overweening importance of skin color repels me.) At any rate, agriculture and its attendant amenities of civilization probably arose about 12,000 years ago in the Middle East among people who were not black (but may have been brown) and further developed by people of all colors, including whites and Asians. But who cares? Only someone obsessed with racism and determined to make it the basis for everything bad.

4.) Hopper cares, for she says that evolution’s truth dispels the Biblical story that Adam and Eve (who were supposedly white) were instrumental in creating black people, who descended from a bad person—Cain—who killed his brother. This “mark of Cain” thesis that supposedly connects creationism with white supremacy, is advanced in several ways by Hopper:

Science education in the U.S. is constantly on the defensive against antievolution activists who want biblical stories to be taught as fact. In fact, the first wave of legal fights against evolution was supported by the Klan in the 1920s. Ever since then, entrenched racism and the ban on teaching evolution in the schools have gone hand in hand. In his piece,What We Get Wrong About the Evolution Debate, Adam Shapiro argues that “the history of American controversies over evolution has long been entangled with the history of American educational racism.”

In fact, anybody who looks at the data on creationism sees immediately its connection with the Biblical creation story (not including Cain)—the view that God created everything almost instantaneously, with humans made in His/Her/Their image. Everybody promoting creationism and intelligent design is religious, and all creationist organizations are religious at bottom.

In my life I’ve met hundreds of creationists, and every one of them was religious. (David Berlinski, whom I haven’t met, may be the one exception, but that’s just one person and he may be dissimulating about religion anyway.) They make no bones about their views, either. Yet in none of these people have I heard anything about white supremacy. Sure, there may be racists among creationists—there has to be given the connection between Evangelical Christianity and the South—but you’d have to essentially make things up to argue that creationism comes from white supremacy and that its connection with religion is “a lie.” (At any rate, were Hopper’s story of Cain and Abel true, it still shows a connection between creationism and religion.)

But wait! There’s more:

The fantasy of a continuous line of white descendants segregates white heritage from Black bodies. In the real world, this mythology translates into lethal effects on people who are Black. Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible are part of the “fake news” epidemic that feeds the racial divide in our country.

There are those “Black bodies” again.  But what are the “lethal” effects? Were black bodies really killed because white bigots and lynchers were motivated by a refusal to accept our ancient ancestry? I doubt it, and I doubt whether they were motivated by religion, either. They were motivated, I believe, by tribalism and the heritage of slavery with its attendant beliefs that blacks were inferior beings.

In fact, when Hopper talks about the dearth of children’s books on evolution, she inadvertently admits that religion (not the story of Cain and Abel!) is tilting kids towards creationism:

If you go on Amazon and look up “children’s books on evolution” you will find about 10–15 relevant titles. This is in contrast to the hundreds of children’s books on other scientific subjects such as chemistry, astronomy and other less controversial subjects. I found only one book on evolution for preschoolers, called Grandmother Fish. The author had to self-fund the book through Kickstarter.

On the other hand, there are hundreds of children’s books available on Amazon that focus on biblical origin stories. Science deniers are pumping money into a well-funded antievolution machine. In 2007, the creationists built their own Bible-themed museum and amusement park. What they understand is that to reach young children you need music, colorful characters and celebration.

Kids get their religion long before they learn evolution, and by the time they’re presented with Darwin and his successors, they’ve had at least a decade of indoctrination in the Bible, with many being Biblical literalists. They are effectively immunized against evolution. Racism is a separate issue.

In the end, Hopper argues that if we can just tell the story of evolution properly, including that we all came from Africa and our earliest ancestors were dark-skinned, creationism would go away:

. . . even in the current literature about human origins that we do have, the end point of evolution is often depicted as a white man carrying a spear. This image not only eliminates our African heritage but also erases women and children from the picture. Because evolution is foundational knowledge, we need the story to be told in many different ways, by many different voices.

As we move forward to undo systemic racism in every aspect of business, society, academia and life, let’s be sure to do so in science education as well. Embracing humanity’s dark-skinned ancestors with love and respect is key to changing our relationship to the past, and to creating racial equity in the present. These ancient people made the rest of us possible. Opening our hearts to them and embracing them as heroic, fully human and worthy of our respect is part of the process of healing from our racist history.

I wasn’t aware that the teaching of evolution was systemically racist; do teachers really deny that our ancestors were African? And does Hopper really believe that accepting that will get rid of racism? Really? Even Darwin was a monogenist, saying that all groups of humans arose from a single ancestor who probably lived in Africa. Did that get rid of racism? I don’t think so, though some people think Darwin’s monogenism was part of a strategy to combat racism.

(I can’t get over my gag reflex when hearing that we need to embrace our ancestors with “love and respect”, since I don’t know that they were either lovable or respectable)

Okay, now what’s the evidence against Hopper’s thesis? It’s strong:

a.) Ask people why they think evolution didn’t happen. Many will say because they believe the Bible or the Qur’an. Nobody will say because it shows that white people are superior. (Of course, you can say they won’t admit their bigotry.)

b.) Every creationist organization from Answers in Genesis to the Discovery Institute is based on religion, while we find no creationist organizations whose platform is white supremacy. As I said, the two are tangentially connected because of the religious and white-supremacist nature of the American South, but this is a matter of correlation, not causation.

c.) Most telling: several surveys, listed and summarized in this paper, show that blacks and Hispanics deny evolution more than do whites. This is the opposite of what Hopper predicts, but makes sense under the “religion-first” hypothesis, since blacks and Hispanics tend to be more religious than whites in general.

d.) There is a highly statistically significant negative correlation between the religiosity of 34 European countries and their acceptance of evolution, as I noted in my Evolution paper. Most of these countries are nearly all white, save France and Germany, which have high acceptance of evolution (and more black people than, say, Iceland or Demark). The US is near the bottom in accepting evolution (I’ll give the data in a minute), not because the U.S. has a higher percentage of whites than most European countries—it doesn’t—but because the U.S. is far more religious then Europe.

Here’s the correlation I found. The U.S., labeled, is next to last in accepting evolution, while below us lies only Turkey: a Muslim country that, by the way, happens to comprise many “people of color”. Note that the most religious countries, to the right, are the least accepting of evolution. I discuss issues with these data (nonindependence, etc.) in the Evolution paper.

And here are the data from Miller and Scott (2006) that I used to make the plot for my own paper:

The religiosity of these countries, which appears in the graph above, came from other sources given in my Evolution paper.

The thing to note is that virtually all these countries are white, and yet the correlation holds across them all. As I said, the countries with the highest proportion of evolution rejectors (those at the bottom)—are not only the most religious, but also probably contain the highest proportion of people of color. This is what the religious hypothesis proposes, but it goes counter to Hopper’s thesis, which predicts that the whitest countries should be the least accepting of evolution, for rejection of evolution is a sign of white supremacy. (Of course, you could argue that white supremacy will be manifested only in countries with a substantial proportion of black people, but that’s pushing it.) In fact, Hopper’s argument is a post facto confection to support anti-racism, and appears to make no predictions that seem to stand up to scrutiny.

It seems to me that Hopper is not only deeply misguided, but also motivated by ideology, tying creationism directly to white supremacy, and almost completely dismissing its connection to religion. As I always say, “You can have religion without creationism, but you can’t have creationism without religion.” Hopper seems to have deliberately ignored data inimical to her hypothesis, which of course is what one does when afflicted with the kind of confirmation bias that comes with wokeness.

And it’s just another sign that whoever’s in charge of Scientific American is letting through ill-informed and erroneous material.  What has happened to that once-respectable magazine? Is there no longer an audience for the lively yet informative articles they used to publish? Are they becoming the Evergreen State of popular science magazines?

h/t: Eli

76 thoughts on “More mishigas at Scientific American: A claim that opposition to evolution comes from white supremacy, not religion

  1. Allison Hopper is a filmmaker and designer with a master’s degree in educational design

    Ark Fleet, Ship B. Definitely the B-Ark. Got your baggage? There’s the gangplank.
    Sorry, but the A and C Arks have been delayed by unforeseen problems and will be laid down shortly once the construction yard has cleared the B-Ark. Have a nice day. No you don’t need your passport. Next please.
    Telephone sanitiser? B-Ark. There’s the gangplank.

    More seriously, we do need people like this. Those alligator farms don’t entirely feed themselves.

    1. There’s a more substantial objection to her thesis – I’ll send the Powerpoint (laden with Turing-complete Bitcoin-mining macro-viruses) to the B-Ark after it leaves the Solar system. If she claimed that “white supremacy” and the religious-basis for rejection of evolution had a 1.000 correlation, then she wouldn’t have added anything to existing work on the topic. Since there are non-religious anti-evolution wingnuts (the panspermia-wingnuts being a case in point), then I think she’ll have problems demonstrating that.
      If she means that she’s identified a novel group of anti-evolution wingnuts, who got there via a route of white supremacy rather than purely-religious wingnuttery, (or, for that matter, panspermia-wingnuttery) , then that might be a useful result.
      Personally I suspect that, at most, she’s going to explain a couple of tens of percent of the anti-evolution box of wingnuts, not the majority (in the USian sample). But the considerable majority of her cohort of white-supremacist anti-evolution wingnuts have got there through the evil of religion. Kill the transmission of the religion (that’ll probably involve breaking the parent-child transmission route), and you’ll significantly reduce the transmission of both anti-evolution wing-nuttery and white-supremacist wing-nuttery. Tackle the biggest problem first.

      1. Is panspermia really wingnut? I think that it was launched as a hypothesis, or rather a speculation, about abiogenesis, by the late Francis Crick.
        If it were to turn out to be true, highly unlikely, it would have little to no impact on evolutionary theory.

          1. I seem to recall that panspermia was involved in Fred’s ‘theory’ on the evolution of nostrils. He opined that they point downwards in order to protect us from extraterrestrial viruses falling from space! Hmmm…..

            A rather surprising idea coming from the fella who discovered stellar nucleosynthesis.

            1. Hoyle did some good work early on, but became increasingly fringe, even crackpot, later. He believed that archaeopteryx was a hoax. He tried to save the steady-state cosmological model way after its due date. He coined the term big bang, but meant it pejoratively.

              In any field, there are people who do good work early on then later, not so much. One-hit wonders anyone?

        1. If it were to turn out to be true, highly unlikely, it would have little to no impact on evolutionary theory.

          Yes it would, since it would no longer be necessary to assume that the evolution responsible for life on earth today must be able to happen in the time that has been available on earth, or that all intermediate forms did at one time exist on earth, or even that earth must possess all the prerequisites for life to originate, since part of the development happened on another planet possibly before earth was even created.

          1. You appear to be conflating evolution with the origin of life, but they are separate phenomena. Panspermia only requires that the first inklings of life began elsewhere before arriving on earth. In no way does panspermia change what we know about evolution, for which the evidence is established and overwhelming.

            If panspermia was responsible for the origin of life on earth it must have happened really early, as we have fossils of primitive bacteria dating back 3.5 billion years. We know that all life on earth has a common ancestor, so it would take some serious mental gymnastics to claim panspermia occurred more recently than that.

            The term ‘intermediate forms is a bit of a misnomer, as all life forms are intermediate. That said, I don’t understand your claim that all intermediate forms wouldn’t have had to exist on earth. How would you justify that claim? Given that:

            a) we have copious evidence of ‘intermediate forms’, including zillions of fossils – none appear out of place in their lineage
            b) It’s an established fact that life on earth has a common ancestor, so it follows that all intermediate forms since the earliest life appeared has a common ancestor

            The only way I could imagine that claim being true is if these intermediate forms were first created elsewhere and then dropped on earth, neatly fitting into the evolutionary tree. But how could that happen? It’s hard to envision something like an ambulocetus being deposited safely on earth from outer space.

            1. Would we still call it panspermia if we discovered life on Mars and showed that it had originated on Earth? It is quite likely that transfer of mass has occurred in both directions.

            2. You appear to be conflating evolution with the origin of life, but they are separate phenomena.

              Look, I am not an advocate of the panspermia theory and I am not arguing for its plausibility. I am merely responding to a post that asserted that it is at odds with evolution. The issue of origin is relevant to evolution since if an organism arrived on earth there would be no evidence on earth of the evolution of that organism prior to arrival. Nor need there be sufficient time for that organism to have evolved naturally on earth.

              Panspermia only requires that the first inklings of life began elsewhere before arriving on earth. In no way does panspermia change what we know about evolution, for which the evidence is established and overwhelming.

              The panspermia theory does not assume that evolution did not happen. It posits that some part of the evolution happened on another planet. Apparently Francis Crick believed that the complexity of DNA was such that there was insufficient time on earth for it to have evolved naturally.

              The term ‘intermediate forms is a bit of a misnomer, as all life forms are intermediate. That said, I don’t understand your claim that all intermediate forms wouldn’t have had to exist on earth. How would you justify that claim? Given that:
              a) we have copious evidence of ‘intermediate forms’, including zillions of fossils – none appear out of place in their lineage
              b) It’s an established fact that life on earth has a common ancestor, so it follows that all intermediate forms since the earliest life appeared has a common ancestor

              If DNA evolved on another planet then there would be no precursors to DNA on earth, which could be thought of as intermediate life forms. Furthermore, if DNA arrived on earth through panspermia it seems likely that within its structure would be found the results of prior evolution. To the extent that a form of life is, within its genome, only one step short of having a certain capability, we could expect it to fully express that capability through random mutation in less time than it would take to develop that capability on earth entirely by natural processes. Also, panspermia could happen over a great number of years and still have the same common ancestor.

              When you say “none appear out of place in their lineage” that’s exactly the issue that is debated with respect to the Cambrian Explosion. The study Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic? entertains the idea that panspermia played a role. I know that Jerry disagrees and believes that conventional evolutionary theory is sufficient to explain this event. I am not arguing that he is wrong or that the points made by this paper are reasonable. However, there are competent scientists who are troubled by the time frame of certain Cambrian life forms. I am simply making the point that panspermia means that certain previous life forms will not be found on earth, that this does not contradict evolution, and that this would have a significant impact on our understanding of at least the time frame of evolution.

        2. It pre-dates Crick by quite a bit – actually, I associate it more with Fred Hoyle, but even he copied it from IIRC Arrhenius about the turn of the last century.
          It isn’t flat-out impossible, but with the biochemistry of our instance of life, the travel times are ridiculously long – unless your encysted microbes are actively steering your radiation-protecting 2000-odd tonne projectile. Somehow. Mega-vacuum cilia? Telekinesis? “Vibrations”, “man”?
          But as a solution to the problem of abiogenesis, it is completely non-functional. All it does for examining the problem of abiogenesis is that it changes the locus of the essential event (abiogenesis) from the relatively constrained one of “early Earth, 4.2-3.8 Gyr ago” to an unknown planet of unknown (and little constrained) chemistry, somewhere in the galaxy between 12 and 4 Gyr ago. (The fossil record, plus a small amount of travel time, pins the more recent date.).
          As a problem-solving approach, it is pure wingnuttery.
          I admit that I’ve never met a panspermist who thinks of it as a solution to anything other than the Argument from Incredulity.

        1. Most of the ones I meet are searching desperately for anything to get around their incredulity about abiogenesis. Absolutely anything. Including space-aliens.

      2. There may be variants of panspermia that are wingnuttish but, on the whole, it is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis. It’s pretty hard to prove so anyone who strongly believes it is true is considered a wingnut. Without evidence, it seems to align more with the “universal life force” crowd.

        1. They certainly cling onto it too. It seems to accrete those who don’t appreciate just how large the universe is, and how far apart things are. Since there was one of those Star Trek movies on the tube over the weekend, the line “too much LDS” seems appropriate.

  2. “Opening our hearts to them and embracing them as heroic, fully human” This is a religious sermon. Our ancestors were no heroes or villains – they simply survived and made children.

  3. I think she’s wrong about the number of children’s books on evolution, though Amazon (here in the UK) mixes them in with non-science dinosaur fiction, which isn’t helpful.

    1. I did mean to add that I only picked out her fallacy about children’s books on Amazon because our host had comprehensively demolished the main aspects of (what passes for) Hopper’s argument.

  4. Next up: Hopper’s rebuttal in next month’s Scientific American

    “Well, Religion is a Form of White Supremacy, Too; A Reply to Coyne.”

  5. Racism and the evolutionary basis of human speciation are perfectly compatible, as long as the evolutionary storyline reflects sufficiently bad science. Is anyone else here old enough to remember the furor when Carlton Coon’s The Origin of Races—a treasure trove of garbage to feed the racists and anti-Semites whose views Coon was totally at home with, based on a seriously misguided application of natural selection as the driver of hominid evolution—first appeared? Coon was totally upfront about his white supremacist views, and militant in his belief that the Darwinian framework provided a solid foundation for his bigoted pseudoscience. So what about him, Ms. Hopper?

  6. Islam is what you would call a creationist religion with > 1 billion adherents and the majority of them are not white. I’d say that contradicts her hypothesis.

    I’ve never seen evidence that any creationists I’ve talked to are actually white supremacists. There probably are racist people out there who believe that black skin is the “mark of Cain,” but most Christians these days seem to believe all people are created in the likeness of God.

    Plenty of non-white people are Christian too. I know a lot of African, Hispanic, or Filipino Christians. I’m pretty sure they aren’t white supremacists.

      1. All religions are creationists of one flavor or another.

        Not Buddhism, which claims to be in accord with established scientific fact and doesn’t believe in a creator God.

  7. “I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.”

    Her choice of language appears to be an attempt to incite violence against those masked liers who won’t take her thesis as God’s truth. Black bodies? Are they dead?
    If she argued using an adult tone the absurdity of her claim would be even more obvious than it already is.

      1. Thanks for that. Typical – Foucault was a fountain of bad ideas.
        The whole “black bodies” thingy seemed kind of new (and its increasing use is new)… and it repulses me; it seems grotesque and disrespectful.
        D.A.
        NYC

  8. Other scholars have already proclaimed that human genetics, the names of birds, knitting, polyphonic music, mathematics, and science fiction are all expressions of “white supremacism”, so Ms. Hopper’s announcement comes as no surprise. We look forward to new articles about the central role of white supremacism in blank verse, bicycles, the wind mill, numismatics, kite-flying, backgammon, and the use of kitchen utensils. Before long, we can expect these discoveries to emanate form whole new academic departments of Critical White Supremacist Studies.

    Incidentally, I wonder whether the current fad for the term “black bodies” is kind of homage to Physics,
    where a blackbody is something that absorbs all radiation. This would be comparable to Luce Irigaray’s celebrated discovery that the speed of light was sexist, which did not, unfortunately, become as popular as the usage under discussion.

    1. Like the gender and sex spectrum, “black bodies” could be seen a lighter example of “Physics Envy” — more serious examples lift highly technical physical or mathematical ideas in a metaphorical way. Such metaphor is not used to enlighten, but to obscure trivialties. “Physics envy” is a common term among critics, with many examples from postmodernism, biology, feminist theory to economics.

      Supposedly, it arises when a field has too many ideas and interpretations, and not enough opportunity (structural, methodical etc) to cut them down. That’s when, apparently, academics try to fortify their pet theory by borrowing from physics (and maths) as a rhetorical device.

      1. Indeed. See Sokal and Bricmont’s Fashionable Nonsense (also published under the sharper-edged title Intellectual Impostures, in the UK I think) for the definitive debunking of postmodernists’ attempts to appropriate math and physics (which none of the postmodernists in question seem to have the basic competence to understand, even a little bit).

        As S & B say, `They imagine, perhaps, that they can exploit the prestige of the natural sciences in order to give their own discourse a veneer of rigor. ‘ Wow. Talk about an explosive direct hit below the waterline….

    1. The intent is to imply that black people are being treated as objects or commodities, not as individuals. So those using the term cannot be charged with dehumanizing anybody since they are using the term ironically.

  9. Just a minor note:

    “her claim that evolution “perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.”

    I might misuderstand, but perhaps you’ve inadvertently left out a word, in this sentence? Her claim is that “evolution denial” perpetuates segragation, etc.

    1. It is simpler than you suppose. The claim is that both evolution and denial of evolution, along with everything else and denial of everything else, “perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.” This principle is the axiomatic basis of Critical Studies.

      1. In logic, if ~p /\ ~~p, then anything and everything is true. So yes, once you say that both X and its contrary are (morally) false, well, the sky’s the limit!

  10. She might want to mention this to the ~50% of black Baptists who believe humans were created in their present form.

  11. thank you for illuminating the errors in Hopper’s arguments and thought process. My only quibble is with the last word in this paragraph:

    “Kids get their religion long before they learn evolution, and by the time they’re presented with Darwin and his successors… (t)hey are effectively immunized against religion.”

  12. My mom guilt tripped me into going to mass with the family the summer after my freshman year in college. It’s 1967 and I had stopped going to church the minute I left home. But, my job as the oldest child was setting a good example for the younger kids. Anybody remember those days? So I agreed. We’re living in the middle of Korea on an army base and off we trudged to the base’s only church. The priest talked about evolution and suggested that maybe Adam and Eve were apes. Made me think that maybe religion and science aren’t totally incompatible after all.

      1. “After a fashion” is the operant phrase. The Catholic Catechism still maintains that it is imperative to believe that all humans are the literal descendants of Adam and Eve. Plus they think that humans are unique in having souls. I wouldn’t call that “accepting evolution.”

        1. Yeah, that Adam ‘n’ Eve thing (without which there is no Original Sin) is a tough circle to square.

        2. I went to a Catholic high school and the teachers in theology class (yes, really) were accepting of evolution but they viewed it as directed by God. I don’t think they read the catechism properly because if you asked them about Adam and Eve they would usually retreat into the “it’s a metaphor” (for what? um …) explanation.

          1. Yes, the catechism itself says that Genesis uses “figurative language” but goes on to say it “affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.” which is essentially impossible to square with evolution.

            1. … it “affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.”

              And they know this how? (I mean, other than that it allows them to render unfalsifiable a scriptural myth that they’re trying desperately to cling to anyway.)

  13. I think Ms. Hopper is fulla the fecal stuff in her premise. Nonetheless, I think the old-line white supremacists were and are also creationists. (After all, the ratio decidendi of the trial judge for upholding the anti-miscegenation laws eventually overturned in Loving v. Virginia (1967) was that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”)

    But the new-fangled white supremacists — the so-called “racial realists” or adherents of so-called “scientific racism” — accept evolution, albeit a pseudoscientific, tendentious version of the theory when it comes to human evolution.

    1. Everyone was a creationist if you go back far enough. Moreover, the real racists were the ones with the poly genetic origin theses for human beings over the idea of a common ancestor (Adam & Eve).

      As far as “race realism” versus “constructionism”, that is pretty much semantics. According to David Reich, not a pseudoscientist, there are significant genetic differences in continental populations across geographical boundaries (like the Altai Mountains). The old school argument was that genetic differentials were continuous across terrain, so racial ascriptions were completely arbitrary, and that is, of course, empirically false since we began mapping the genome. Plus you have different admixtures with ancient hominids across geographical boundaries. You have real differences between gene pools, thus you can identify the race of an individual based on their genetic code. In contrast, being a fluent Arabic speaker can not be determined based on solely biological data. Something is “really” biological if it can be determined solely on the basis of biological testing. Something is “really” cultural if it can be determined solely on the basis of cultural signatures (e.g., ascriptive religious identities for the most part). On the other hand, any system of classification is arbitrary so there is always that to fall back on (the Atlantic Ocean is socially constructed, not a physical entity because its existence reflects an arbitrary line we drew on a map).

      Race is problematic because it has been used to refer to continental racial groups in disciplines like physical anthropology and to refer to ethnic/national groups, the second of which is culturally constructed. Plus many people in the world are multiracial in the sense of being admixtures of different continental groups, so what to do with them. Add on top the history and politics of race. Further, race tends to reify what amounts to genetic similarities between individuals in a way that leads to universalized statements about races and their members (Lewontin claimed something like 6.3% of genetic material was shared between members of an ancestral group). Thus, people talk about populations. However, these shared genes are extremely important in, for example, medicine (sub-Saharan Africans have genes that make them more susceptible to aggressive prostate cancer), and Lewontin was wrong to say the similarities have no scientific interest or value.

      We are getting to a point where the prog talking points have gotten so far from reality that anyone with a freshmen comprehension of population genetics can only snicker. This can only bode poorly for prog politics as it is only a matter of time before blank slatism joins Creationism in the scrap heap, or else it becomes necessary to utilize political repression on population genetics and scientists. Given the importance of these tools to fields like medical science, there is too much capital on the line to shut it down. It was a lot easier in Stalin’s day. A lot of people carry on as if the question of whether to go out and become a Nazi depended on an empirical question such as whether group differences in outcomes are influenced by genetic differences between these groups. (Eric Turkheimer appears to believe this.) A commitment to equality is a normative commitment, not an empirical one, and it is only a matter of time before we see some paper published on genes and educational attainment comparing racial groups.

      The data is all there, the statistically significant genes are increasingly being discovered, and its only a matter of time before someone does a study before they retire:

      https://www.nature.com/articles/s41588-018-0147-3

      Genes have such a large effect size and there is such a high heritability between genes and behaviors that it would be unsurprising if the results of that study ended up not being P.C. Further, what kind of pseudoscience is it when guys who win Noble Prizes like James D. Watson and William Shockley are “pseudoscientists” and nitwit activists with no accomplishments are not? [Robert Trivers had some heterodox views as well.] If the current crop of idiots had been in charge, they probably would have purged Shockley and we’d still be using vacuum tubes. David Reich’s article in the NYT was, I think, intended to say wake up liberals, stop talking like idiots. It hasn’t helped.

      At the end of the day, people have much more in common with each other genetically than they have differences. It comes down not to “race realists” versus “race constructionists” but rather to liberal humanists versus the race reductionists (white nationalists, Nazis and “anti-racists”, etc.)

  14. I think the term “black bodies” may ultimately originate with the writings of Michele Foucault. However, not that he used the term “black bodies” itself.

    Instead, he is one of the main thinkers who foregrounded the body as something cultural, not just biological. That the body has a history and something impinged upon by society….hence the name of his books like “Discipline and Punish” (“Surveiller et Punir” in French) and so on….

    My sense is that Ta-Nehisi Coates may have been influenced by Foucault and appended the word “black” to the cultural construction, if you will, of “body”.

  15. One could make a better case that early acceptance (not denial) of evolution emerges from the belief in white supremacy. Post-Darwin, it was widely expected that humanity arose from early Europeans (or Asia, maybe), since civilization was seen as more advanced and therefore humanity lived in those areas the longest. The first early human fossils were found in Europe and Asia, exactly as expected at the time.

  16. If you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

    If you only have CRT everything looks like racism.

  17. Look, it is all really quite simple, as I learned in my Southern Baptist Sunday school: Noah had three sons; one fathered the white race, one the yellow race, the other the black race. Noah cursed one of the sons, whose descendants thus became subservient to the other races.

  18. “At any rate, were Hopper’s story of Cain and Abel true, it still shows a connection between creationism and religion.)” – Indeed. As Hopper writes,

    Depending on the poll, up to 40 percent of percent of adults believe that humans have always existed in their present form (i.e., they believe in an unbroken human lineage stretching back to Adam and Eve)

    Unless I missed something, that is evidence that religion, not white supremacy, is behind denial of evolution?

  19. “At the heart of white evangelical creationism is the mythology of an unbroken white lineage that stretches back to a light-skinned Adam and Eve.”

    That’s not an evangelical Christian story but a Jewish story from the OT. Hopper missed an opportunity to blame Jews, lump them in with white evangelicals, and show her support for Palestinians. She needs to up her game here.

    Also someone should tell Hopper about Harun Yahya, who was at one time the most energetic and spendthrift creationist working in America. Definitely not a white guy.

  20. On the other hand, an African American colleague told me a few years ago that he’s against evolution because it’s racist, because Darwin was racist. This guy is also an evangelical Christian. You do the math.

  21. It’s hard to know what to make of Table S3 since the question they asked groups theistic evolutionists (i.e. creationists) with true evolutionists (i.e. believe that life evolved due to natural processes). A better type of survey is the one done by Pew, where they divided the “evolutionists” up into three groups: (a) entirely natural, (b) theistic, (c) evolution, but not sure between (a) and (b), and showed that the results depend significantly on how the question is asked.

  22. But what the non-evolutionists deny is that humans are related to apes. They don’t deny that Europeans are related to Africans. In fact, according to the Adam and Eve story, that is affirmed. So the notion that anybody is a non-evolutionist in order to not be related to Africans is just gibberish. Of course, anybody can believe anything but if a person wants to assert that people are motivated by reason X then it’s very curious that she does not cite anybody who acknowledges reason X. If nothing else some in the population of avowed racists must be willing to cite that belief if they hold it.

  23. I heard about the article elsewhere, absolutely stupid – and a free kick to people like the Discovery Institute. Is it even worth buying popular science magazines any more?

  24. Besides her arguments being nonsensical, she seems to be one of those people whose entire philosophy revolves around an all-powerful cadre of White supremacists.
    I will concede that White supremacists exist, but they are pretty hard to find, to the point of being mostly imaginary.
    It is just like the fundamentalists who need a secretive cabal of Humanists who are in league with Satan. Without them, there is little point to all the evangelical histrionics. Of course, the people they accuse do not even particularly believe in Satan, or even souls.
    Antifa needs fascists. Without fascists everywhere, Antifa is just a bunch of people acting out their violent tendencies.

    They are all groups that cannot easily justify their actions without inventing an arch enemy to fight.

    “Black Bodies” is just an annoying term, besides being a pretty good warning sign that anyone using it is a crackpot.

    1. I will concede that White supremacists exist, but they are pretty hard to find, to the point of being mostly imaginary.

      You misunderstand the nomenclature. Like the term ‘racism, ‘white supremacy’ has been redefined by the cognoscenti and no longer refers to hatred or hate groups. According to Robin DiAngelo, “White power and privilege is termed White supremacy.” So, to be a white supremacist is to be a normal white in the U.S. This terminology has the added feature of allowing the “antiracists” to liken people to Nazis and the KKK but then with an innocent expression complain that you misunderstood them.

        1. No, they use the conventional definition. A 2006 Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) assessment defined White supremacy as follows:

          “White supremacists believe that the white race is superior to all other races and was created to rule them. They view non-whites as subhuman and usually refer to them in derogatory terms.”

          DiAngelo is not going after individuals or urging us to recognize traits in them. Her point is that this evil is part of the fabric of the culture. Her mission is that we all recognize the utterly irredeemable nature of our society and be willing to tear it up root and branch.

  25. If white supremacists deny evolution happened, how can they also claim that intelligence is selected for?

  26. ‘Importantly, human culture sprang from dark-skinned ancestors who had religion, language, fire, and tool use.’

    Tool use was long before Homo sapiens .

    So was fire. Homo erectus used fire.

    What science are they teaching them at Scientific American?

  27. Creationists I have read or talked to fall into two camps:
    Camp 1 – it is a consequence of their account of his to interpret Genesis.
    Camp 2 – “life just looks designed” i.e. making an inference to design.

    While I’m sure there are some who had racist leanings, and others who may harbour white supremacist sympathies, a total of zero have even implicitly suggested a link between the two. Creationism is a theological / philosophical stance, and while no doubt there are revival considerations, the rhetoric as well as their explicit accounts don’t no near white supremacy.

  28. If New Zealand and Australia were added to the table, and hence the graph, they would make the trend line even steeper. Both have very high levels of acceptance of the Theory of Evolution and very low levels of religiosity.

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