Evolutionary Psychology's Anti-Semite

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Jan. 24 2000 10:35 AM

Evolutionary Psychology's Anti-Semite

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On the contrary. MacDonald thanks several prominent evolutionary psychologists in the acknowledgments to his trilogy. Among them is David Sloane Wilson, the leading advocate of group-selection theory. What exactly these scholars did for MacDonald is unclear. (Wilson did not return Culturebox's phone calls.) But MacDonald appears to have given them an opportunity to have their names suppressed, because there are other scholars he says he could have identified but didn't: "Regrettably," he writes, they "have asked that their names not appear here."

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Can we blame the field of evolutionary psychology for Kevin MacDonald? Intellectually speaking, no. Evolutionary psychology is a fairly new endeavor trying to overcome an extremely disturbing past, and you can't make serious scholars accountable for all the discredited notions their peers cling to. But we can hold specific academics responsible--Itzkoff comes to mind--and we can ask what on earth the officers of HBES were thinking when they allowed MacDonald to become such an active member of their organization. If the response to Hartung's review is any indication, they would probably say that they don't believe in censoring their members. But it is the job of a scholarly association not just to foster discussion but also to police the boundaries of its discipline. When this evolutionary psychologist and HBES officer testifies in the Irving trial, he is bound to get his counterparts in a lot of trouble. In many ways, they deserve it.