I used to tell people all the time that if you have a chance to listen to Greg Cochran speak, you should take it, as he is probably the smartest person you will ever hear. Cochran has excelled in two fields, physics and anthropology. The former requires a very big brain in order to gain entry. In the case of anthropology, many of the people in the field are crazy or sociopaths. To be an exception and contribute to the stock of human knowledge, requires a rare combination of curiosity and blinkered indifference to social pressure.
Cochran has contributed three very important ideas that may not be correct, but they open up new avenues to understanding human evolution and biological diversity. In the book The 10,000 Year Explosion, he and his partner, the late Henry Harpending, explained how agriculture and human settlement accelerated human evolution. This explains local differences in skin color, eye color, hair texture disease resistance and other genetic differences in human populations. It also explains personality and cognitive differences.
Another idea, one that has received less positive press, is Cochran’s theory that homosexuality must be caused by something outside of evolution. For example, a pathogen that sets off a chain of events in the womb resulting in the child being a homosexual. Cochran points out that the observed level of exclusive homosexuality means genes cannot be the cause of homosexuality.The fitness cost of genes ‘for’ homosexuality being too great. Natural selection would have eliminated the gene.
His “gay germ” idea is controversial and it could be completely wrong, at least in the case of homosexuality. It’s utility is really in how it changes thinking about human disease and the treatment of those diseases. Take something like Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have spent decades laboring under the assumption it is genetic, but have had little success in finding any proof. Well, what if the cause is something like a pathogen that sets of the process in the brain? What if cardiovascular disease is caused by pathogens?
That’s a huge and controversial idea, but it probably is not the one that most scandalizes the moral authorities. Cochran is most infamous for his work on Ashkenazi IQ. A dozen years ago, he and his partner Henry Harpending published The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence. In it they argue that Ashkenazi ████inherit higher verbal and mathematical intelligence than other ethnic groups, on the basis of inherited diseases and the peculiar economic situation of Ashkenazi ████in the Middle Ages.
The paper is controversial for three reasons. One is the heretical idea that IQ is a real thing that can be measured. Worse yet, they claim intelligence is heritable, which means it is largely immutable. Smart parents have smart kids. Both ideas are against everything we believe and probably a direct threat to our democracy. It’s not who we are. Only very bad people think that human diversity is the result of biology. Everyone knows that racism is the cause of all the bad differences, while diversity is the cause of the good differences.
That’s bad enough, but the most outrageous aspect of the paper is that it focuses on the special people and that’s not allowed. Even mentioning them in a direct way is justifiably forbidden now. After all, the Nazis started noticing these people, talking about their “group differences” and before long the Holocaust! The fact that racists and white supremacists often reference this paper is proof enough that it should be banned, the authors forced to confess and then they should be hurled into the void as a lesson to others.
If further proof is needed, this post on Greg Cochran’s blog should be enough. The post itself is just one sentence long, but in the nearly 200 comments, Cochran counter signals Holocaust skeptics so hard he probably sprained something while banging away at the keyboard. Clearly, it is the sign of a guilty conscience. At the minimum, it suggests he is worried that the morality police will be coming for him soon. He hopes that his outburst can be presented at his trial and he will be given a reprieve. Good luck with that pal.
All joking aside, the post and the comments are a hilarious bit of Boomer posting. Ron Unz is an eccentric guy and he is prone to conspiracy theories. It’s hard to know how much he believes them. He could just find them intellectually titillating, like reading a very clever crime novel. I get the sense that he is fascinated by the fact there is an official narrative and it is ruthlessly enforced. Almost all Americans struggle with the bit of reality. Either way, the worst you should say about Ron Unz is that he is a harmless weirdo.
Casual indifference is never allowed in a theocracy, at least with regards to the moral codes. You are either enthusiastically on the right side of the question or you are an enemy of the faith. There can be no middle ground. Maybe Cochran is worried that the authorities will be coming for him soon, so he is hoping to inoculate himself against charge of insufficient signalling against antisemitism. Like a lot of Boomers, he still thinks we live in a rule based society and that you can appeal to reason when defending yourself.
He would deny this and probably threaten to punch me in the nose for suggesting it, but false consciousness is common with many old white men. Just look at the comment thread in that post. Why are people in 2018 so worked up about something that happened 80 years ago in a foreign country? The cultural and ideological processes of the neo-liberal age blind people to their own motivations. You can be sure that the people commenting on that post felt great about it, but they never bothered to wonder why.
All that aside, they will be coming for Greg Cochran soon enough. If he is lucky, the non-binary, gender non-specific persons of uterus from the campus committee on inclusion will only require him to wear a dunce cap on campus. Maybe they will make him recant what he said about Cordelia Fine, peace be upon her. It’s only a matter of time and appeals to reason will have no impact, because we live in an unreasonable age, ruled by ridiculous people. One day, there will be a knock on the door and they will have come for Cochran.