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Kevin MacDonald writes: > Re Dan Kriegman: Kriegman is a practicing psychoanalyst who, so far as I know, has never published in a mainstream evolutionary journal on anything. Like David Lieberman, he has a less than zero academic reputation. Kriegman put together a symposium on my work which I agreed to participate in only after he said it would happen anyway whether or not I participated. Then he sent me a 50-page, single-spaced paper with his criticisms a day or two before I left for the conference. As a result, I didn't bother dealing with it--how could I in 15 minutes, although to the best of my recollection he simply stated my conclusions and called them racist. In my presentation I simply presented the basic theory and data on Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy, but the discussion afterward had nothing to do with the theory or data but whether I was a racist or not. A complete lynching. I can hardly wait if and when he publishes something on this. Kevin MacDonald. < ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ It's true that I was overwhelmed with my immersion in Kevin MacDonald's work as I prepared for the symposium at HBES. I had hoped to read all three volumes of his work. Instead, I was able to complete a thorough reading and critique of only volume one and some skimming of the other two. This did lead to a fifty page single spaced paper. But I certainly did not present 50 pages in my 15 minutes: I hit on some highlights of the problems with Kevin MacDonald's work and cited numerous examples from Volume I. It would seem to me that I could respond to a critique of one of my papers/books as I happen to know them pretty well. Other people's works are more of a problem, which is why I had to work so hard and felt so overwhelmed; when presenting something that was likely to draw a sizable crowd, I wanted to be sure I knew my stuff. And I arranged the program so that Kevin had the last word. As far as his only having 15 minutes, Kevin, you've had 1 1/2 years and you haven't made a peep! You've ignored my criticisms and I watch some of them reappear on h-antisemitism. The basic criticisms were: Where is your control group? What is your evidence that Jews as a group behave differently from other groups in similar ecological/intergroup conflict circumstances? Taking your examples of Jewish activity, I offered counterexamples of gentile activity that were extremely similar in similar circumstances and I asked how you can ascribe characteristics to some nature of the group members when you haven't shown, in any manner that would be considered scientific, that the differences in behavior are due to something biological as opposed to situational. To do the latter, you need to do science, i.e., control for variables such as different social contexts. E.g., do Jews really band together and show more ingroup altruism than other groups who are surrounded by a larger group that they feel threatens them? For a week or two after 9/11, I saw no road rage in America. It has returned (may even be worse). But at the moment of solidarity and communal identification under a clear sense of threat (that has diminished as people found out that life does go on) and a need to respond in a unified fashion, ingroup tensions diminished and Americans showed ENORMOUS ingroup altruism. Do you think that a threat to a group makes their genes mutate and become more Jewish? When one doesn't need a comparison group, you have the repeated phenomenon of scientific finding by declaration; it's so because I said it's so. For example, "There is no question that Judaism has been characterized by high levels of within-group altruism" (p. 153). Since all groups evidence significant within-group altruism, this statement has no meaning unless it is taken to mean "unusually high" or "high in comparison to what is usually found in groups." But MacDonald makes no attempt to measure actual Jewish within-group altruism, not to mention measuring within-group altruism in another group and making an actual comparison, not to mention measuring within-group altruism in another group in similar ecological circumstances and making a comparison. Then, this scientific-fact-by-declaration is used to argue that this unusual level of within-group altruism is mediated, in part, by genetic differences between Jews and gentiles. When you are doing a literature/culture search for signs of your hypothesis, that you find supporting evidence should come as no surprise. What is fascinating about Michael Bradley is that his ideas are more clearly divorced from reality but are supported with the same exact type of scholarship/science. That is, you look for supporting themes and when you find them you build your conclusions around them in a poetic, literary manner. There are no controls (like a control group), no standards for determining if a good argument based on so and so's words reflects reality accurately. It's basically, "This seems to make sense to me. It all fits together. Doesn't it? Therefore, it's truth." That isn't science. Go back to Francis Bacon and his warning: "Man's sense is falsely asserted to be the standard of things: on the contrary, all the perceptions, both of the senses and the mind, bear reference to man and not to the universe; and the human mind resembles those uneven mirrors which impart their own properties to different objects ... and distort and disfigure them." (Novum Organum, i, 41). The scientific method was an attempt to reign in such "religious" scholarship---i.e., argument based on the assertions of the most articulate or forceful minds---and force us to pay attention to facts in a controlled context in which the meaning of those facts could be teased out from other extraneous variables. The paranoid personality can weave elaborate systems of belief around real features of the world. With no measurements of supposed Jewish traits and no attempt to control for variables other than biology that could account for them, how do we/you know your method is not doing the same thing; even if your "paranoia" is more mild than Bradley's? Indeed, I documented examples of selective scholarship in which you picked out the parts that fit your theory and ignored the contradictory evidence. This included several quotations from the Torah in which you, for example, focused on the admonition to not marry outside the faith when in fact the admonition was to not allow your ideology/religious beliefs to be "poisoned" by those of your non-Jewish wives. In fact, there were clear instructions on how to take gentile women to be among your wives. Since I was easily able to document your selective scholarship with those sources I knew, why should I suppose that I would not find the same thing if I studied the sources you used that I didn't know? Why have you not responded to the numerous examples I gave demonstrating this type of selective scholarship and the problems posed by basing "science" on such a methodology? Some examples from my paper (all page numbers unless otherwise stated are from A People that Shall Dwell Alone, by K. MacDonald): All of a sudden, when it comes to analyzing gentile behavior, MacDonald switches away from a genetic to an ecological analysis of human culture in which one must primarily understand the context in which a cultural phenomenon occurs. He presents no evidence to support the notion that the Jewish strategy represents a fundamental feature of their biological being, while the gentile response is purely ecologically controlled (i.e., is a defensive reaction and, "in a fundamental shift," operates, to some degree, against their truer nature, which is to be more individualistic and tolerant of otherness and more open to assimilation and exogamy). For MacDonald, Jews act, gentiles react. Because of this, MacDonald is able to ignore the data of gentile collectivism and ethnocentrism and conclude "Whereas prototypical Western societies have shown strong tendencies toward assimilation and individualism, Judaism is at it s essence exclusivist and collectivist. ... The foregoing provides evidence that the Near Eastern peoples, and especially the Jews, tend in general toward racial exclusivity and collectivism compared to most Western societies." (p. 245) Alleged, innate, Jewish separatist tendencies are not needed to explain Jewish group behavior in the face of clearly formed antisemitism. Such outgroup enmity is known to be a powerful force in maintaining strong group identity. But MacDonald knows this and repeatedly mentions the fact that anti-Semitism has been and continues to be a major factor solidifying the Jewish group and Jewish identity. So, it is all the more striking when he seems to find it highly meaningful that "Jews have retained an intense commitment to their ingroup over a very long period of historical time and despite very high levels of hostility directed at them by surrounding peoples." (p. 229, also see p. 230) Despite high levels of hostility? What may need explaining is how they survived as a group, but powerful outgroup hostility, as MacDonald repeatedly acknowledges elsewhere (e.g., pp. 160, 218, 259 n.6), is more than sufficient to create and maintain "intense commitment." So, how can you claim that this is a genetic, biological, innate tendency of Jews more than other people? Where is the evidence? In arguing that Jews would not intermarry and kept others in a lower status, MacDonald tells us "further indication of the low status of the offspring of foreigners [which] comes from the very negative attitudes toward Solomon's many foreign wives. Solomon is cursed with the fragmentation of his kingdom after his death as the result of this practice (1 King's 11:11...)" (page 41) But that is a highly biased interpretation of a selectively chosen passage from the Bible, which actually reads: "The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord's command. So the Lord said to Solomon, since this is your attitude and you have not kept My covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates." (1 King's 11:9-11) It is true that Solomon was worshiping the gods of his foreign wives. However, the Lord does not punish him for having foreign wives, he had hundreds. One can have foreign wives if: 1) they were taken from distant lands, 2) their kin are not allowed to live among you (with their "detestable practices" that could take one away from Yahweh, and 3) you do not adopt their religious beliefs. The danger of foreign wives is that they will turn the Jew away from his God toward worshiping other gods. Solomon actually built temples to these other gods. Now that's the kind of thing that gets the Old Guy ticked. This type of misreading of the Bible occurs repeatedly. For another example, MacDonald states "... Moses orders the execution of Israelite men who consort with Moabite women" (Num. 25:1-13). Again, that is not what occurred. It is true that the Bible says that "the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab" (Num. 25:1), but that is not what got God angry. What follows that MacDonald left out shows us the concerns of God (or of the priestly redactors of the Bible): "And they [the Moabite women] called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal of Peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal of Peor." (Num. 25:2-5) In each case when God is angered by something to do with foreign concubines or wives, the issue is almost always ideological impurity or disloyalty to God. Again, this is highly consistent with Kriegman and Kriegman's theory which emphasizes ideological purity for the effective use of religion in intergroup conflict. And it makes far more sense from an evolutionary perspective in which the primary purpose of going to war is to enhance one's reproductive success. "... although humans appear to be biologically predisposed toward ingroup-outgroup conflict, there is no reason whatever to suppose that group membership or group permeability itself is genetically determined; that is, there is no reason to suppose that there is a genetic imperative that societies MUST be organized around impermeable groups, and indeed, prototypical Western societies have not been organized in this manner. ... The outstanding feature of Judaism has been that it has steadfastly raised barriers between Jews as an ingroup and the surrounding society as an outgroup. But ... the erection of cultural barriers between Jews and gentiles is a critical aspect of Judaism as a culture." (MacDonald, The Culture of Critique, 1998, p. 44) MacDonald repeatedly makes this claim: The outstanding feature of Judaism has been that it has steadfastly raised barriers between Jews as an ingroup and the surrounding society as an outgroup. In contrast, "To be sure, some Jews do prefer to remain among their own within a particular society, but here again, Jews are hardly unique. The prevalence of ethnic neighborhoods (or people of particular racial and ethnic groups socializing on campus) is evidence of this. But there is ample evidence to prove that Jews have often been segregated from the general population not of their choice, but as the result of official government policy. The Pale of Settlement in czarist Russia, the creation of Jewish ghettoes in medieval Europe, forced expulsions in almost every European country, and the requirement of Jews to wear the Star of David in 13th century England stand as examples of imposed segregation." (D. Schwartz, one of MacDonald's fellow faculty at CSULB in an email discussion forum) Indeed, as we will see, MacDonald does not present any probative evidence that Jews erect such barriers to any greater degree than other groups. His response to the evidence of forced segregation by gentiles is that, at times, Jews imposed their own segregation. Again, this latter fact is no different from other groups who, at times, struggle to remain separate and is essentially unresponsive to the challenge to his theory presented by a history of forced segregation. Another claim is that "Even when the ghetto was imposed by the gentile authorities, 'many rabbis would have liked the walls of the ghetto higher' (Johnson 1987, 238)," is also not very impressive as segregation is usually in the interests of those whose high status derives from clear group membership, valuing the ingroup, fearing the outgroup, etc. Relative to Jews, people who live in more Northern, cold climates (e.g., Northern Europeans) would evidence less of a tendency toward collectivist cultures (p. 237) and presumably less ethnocentrism because "ethnocentrism would thus be of no importance in combating the physical environment" (p. 237). "Such a perspective would not imply that Northern Europeans lack collectivist mechanisms for group competition, but only that these mechanisms are relatively less elaborated and/or require a higher level of group conflict to trigger their expression." (p. 260 n. 15) Northern Europeans having less collectivism than Jews tend toward the more individualist end of the individualism-collectivism spectrum. So in comparison to Jews, Northern Europeans like other "People in individualist cultures, on the other hand, show little emotional attachment to ingroups. ... Individualists have more positive attitudes toward strangers and outgroup members and are more likely to behave in a pro-social, altruistic manner to strangers. People in individualist cultures are less aware of ingroup/outgroup boundaries and thus do not have highly negative attitudes toward outgroup members. ... They ... show little emotional commitment or loyalty to ingroups ... Opposition to outgroups occurs ... but the opposition is more "rational" ... " (p. 229) MacDonald acknowledges the fact that Northern Europeans can be very collectivist, e.g., Nazism. However, he claims that this was a mirror image reaction to Judaism and an adoption of the Jewish strategy for intergroup competition. Maybe he ought to tell that to all the other peoples of the world who have been violently subjugated by stranger loving, outgroup positive, rational Europeans. Where were the Jews they were reacting to there? This type of argument begins to feel like we are entering Wonderland with the "Red Queen talking backward." While avoiding stating it baldly, MacDonald clearly implies -- and antisemites have taken him to be saying -- that Jews specialized for a parasitic role vis a vis gentiles. How does he do this without saying it? On page 17, he discusses specialization for specific roles in inter-species competition. He notes that generalists are less likely to do anything really well, so specialization is in order. In this discussion of inter-species competition and specialization he specifically mentions three roles: predator, parasite, and primary producer. He then immediately (p. 18) goes on to say that he will show how Jews used cultural practices for, as well as eugenics to breed themselves into "a specialized role within human societies. . . . Moreover, another result of this specialization is that Jews in the Diaspora have almost never been engaged in what ecologists term primary production . . . Rather . . . Jews have become specialized for occupational niches at the upper levels of the human energy pyramid. And in ecological terms, this implies that Jews as a group, like other high status groups ... serve as consumers of energy produced by lower-status gentile members of society laboring in the area of primary production." Thus, we have role specialization between species into predator, parasite, and primary producer. Jews are then clearly seen as an alien other (a closed, "pseudo-speciated" group [p. 111]) that is not a primary producer-- ”i.e., that is a consumer who doesn't produce--leaving only predator and parasite in his list of role specializations. This obvious implication cannot have escaped MacDonald's notice for he is well aware that pioneers of IQ measurement "Galton and Pearson believed that Jews had developed into a parasitic race which used its superior intelligence to prey on gentiles." (p. 188) It is therefore not a great leap to assume--as antisemites, in fact, do--”that he is suggesting that Jews have a parasitic (or predatory) role in stratified societies. Though MacDonald modifies this bias by noting that Jews are "like other high status groups," it seems disingenuous to act surprised that the implication that Jews are specialized for parasitism is picked up as his conclusion by white racists. He clearly seems to be stating that gentiles in comparison to Jews are primary producers some of whom temporarily (i.e., not as an innately, specialized group like Jews) are parasitic/predatory on the production of other, lower status gentiles. One could argue that I am reading meaning into his words, that this juxtaposition of ideas lends itself accidentally to these implications. However, the same line of thinking is presented in the same manner earlier: "... human societies are seen as ecosystems in which different human groups are analogous to species occupying a common ecosystem and engaging in competition and/or reciprocity with each other. Thus, in the natural world, an ecosystem may comprise producer species as well as several levels of predator species and parasitic (and hyperparasitic) species. ... The analogy with humans would be that stratified human societies offer the possibility of complex intrasocietal ecological strategies." (p. 3) I think it is reasonable to conclude that he is offering to present an analysis of human intergroup competition as analogous to an ecosystem with producer, predator, and parasitic species. And it is clear in MacDonald's writing that if one were to place Jew and gentile into these roles, gentiles would play the role of the producer species and--though he does not state the following, the implication follows from the foregoing--this leaves the Jews as parasites or predators. This is the essential condition when the groups display their true nature. While MacDonald does acknowledge the ugly reality of antisemitism, based on this analysis about the inherent, innate nature of the two groups, antisemitism is seen to be an overreaction to being, essentially, successfully parasitized. Indeed, Jews are not only not primary producers, they are also relatively incapable of making productive contributions. Northern peoples required specialized intelligence for mechanical invention in order to cope with the Ice Age. Jews, on the other hand, lack this abilityâ€”which is a strange claim for yet another reason: he reports that Jews are equal (about average) to gentiles on sub-tests that he claims are correlated with this ability. Jews, according to MacDonald specialized in verbal intelligence for abilities that are important for social influence "and would be expected in a people who evolved in large groups" (p. 222). The contradictions abound. First, as just noted, his own data show Jews to be equal to gentiles on the type of intelligence he claims is related to innovation (and superior if we use as the criteria Nobel prizes in science or actual innovation in Israel where Jews have the incentive for patient innovation for they can own the products of their innovations). Second, after making numerous claims about how Jews "evolved" during the Diaspora in relatively small, closed groupsâ€”especially as compared to the larger, gentile "host" societyâ€”now he is claiming that Jews have relatively more of those faculties developed for life within large groups. Not to mention the marked success of Northern Europeans in coalitional aggression, success that requires quite a bit of facility for coordinated action within very large groups and, as Kriegman and Kriegman (1997) suggest, may be the quintessential adaptive function that led to the human ability to live in large groups. However, given these arguments, MacDonald goes on to explain why "Jews started businesses that used simple technology" (p. 191, n. 13). On the one hand, we can explain this fact (assuming that it is true) by using a supposed Jewish deficit in inventiveness, as MacDonald does. Or we can explain it the same way we explain the lack of focus on agricultural enterprise: You have to have the essential prerequisites for farming or complex manufacturing, i.e., social stability and the capacity to own and control significant resources over considerable periods of time, in order to invest in either farming or large scale complex innovation and manufacturing. And MacDonald clearly knows that Jews could not count on such prerequisites "since they have often been subject to capricious seizures of property, expulsions, and confiscatory taxation" (p. 140). Farms and complex manufacturing only payoff over large time periods after large initial investments that, at first, result in a net loss. Jews, who could not count on long term stable ownership to make slow, incremental innovative investments, invested in quick, high risk (p. 140) economic ventures where shorter periods of stability and ownership could pay off (before their investments and profits were confiscated). Again, note that in Israel, where the prerequisite conditions do exist, Jews have achieved remarkable success in both agriculture and very complex innovative manufacturing. MacDonald, continuing his unsupported speculations, suggests that Jews are emotionally predisposed for high risk ventures (p. 140 along with his arguments for natural selection for risk taking on p. 212). In contrast to the supposition of such an innate propensity for risk taking and an innovation deficit, what MacDonald considers (and presumably, the average gentile historically considered) high risk was actually lower risk for Jews for whom a gentile "low risk" venture--e.g., long term patient establishment of a farm owned by those who cleared and worked the land--would have been a foolishly high risk venture. I can even imagine the dialogue among two Jews (mostly translated from the Yiddish): "Schmuck! Why are you busting your ass clearing that land? You think once you get it producing, the goyim'll let you keep it? Have you gone completely meshuga?" Given the (unsupported) argument for impoverished innovative capacities in Jews, it is not hard to see where this will lead, as MacDonald well knows. "This is a difficult area because a theme of anti-Semitic writing in Germany was that Jews were not innovators, but only appropriated the inventions of others." (pp. 190-191) Indeed, it is a difficult area. Knowing this, it might be wise not to enter. Certainly it would be foolish to enter it unprepared (i.e., with very limited, inconclusive data). But enter it MacDonald does and a number of antisemitic racists are glad he did. "Jewish clannishness and separateness have been sufficient conditions for at least moderate levels anti-Semitism ... I show that since the Enlightenment Jewish groups have been quite aware of this and have acted to lessen external signs of separateness (e.g., the Reform movement) while exhibiting great concern with the corrosive effects of these assimilative tendencies on group continuity." ("Reply to Robert Pois" from MacDonald's website) This makes the Reform movement a "strategy" for lessening "signs of separateness" in order to lessen anti-Semitism. More obvious and likely possibilities are thus discounted. . . . Rather than the Reform movement being something that could make more sense than traditional Judaism (and was thus a genuine sign of assimilation to a larger post-enlightenment culture), to some Jews--such as my first generation Reform Jewish American parents who didn't even believe in God, not to mention His being angry if they ate ham-- for MacDonald this becomes a "strategy" (i.e., was a sign of group identification and collectivism posing deceptively as assimilation) for lessening anti-Semitism. The logic here becomes contorted: Jews bring on an anti-Semitic reaction when they claim to be the chosen people. But if they don't believe in a God who has chosen them, then they are deceptively trying to lessen antisemitism so they can out-compete the gentiles in the resource competition (thus, ultimately bringing on antisemitism). It does seem like Jews are damned if they do and ... well, just damned if they do, because no matter how they act, you know they do, damn it! Or consider MacDonald's claim that Reform Judaism's openness was a necessary deception in order to avoid charges of misanthropy (pp. 97, 99): There was no real openness. A bit later, he states that Zionism (p. 99) and neo-Orthodoxy (p. 100) were responses to the "perceived failure of the Reform movement due to the fact that many Jews became completely assimilated, including especially a substantial incidence of conversion and intermarriage." (p. 99) This type of logic makes me do a double take: Reform openness was a deception. Yet it was so open it required countermeasures to stop rapid assimilation! If data are milked for any possible supportive conclusion then there is no hope that any data could falsify the hypotheses. And what about the biased phrasing? "There is no question that Hitler's perception that Jews and 'Aryans' were locked in an intense competition was central to his world view ... These perceptions of economic competition and Jewish domination, although clearly having a basis in reality, may well have been exaggerated ..." (p. 134n. 25) It is rather strange that when MacDonald speaks of Jewish domination or exploitation, that "clearly" has some basis in reality but Hitler "may" have been exaggerating (also see p. 133n. 12 for similar wording). MacDonald (Chapter 3) shows that, in the old Testament, the God of the Jews promises them reproductive and material success. Again, without a comparison group, this says nothing about Judaism: all religions promised things people desire. Even the religions that ostensibly focus on an afterlife present the believer with a God who answers prayers in this life. I have worked with a large number of Christian patients who actively pray to God and I can't recall a single instance in which they reported focusing their prayers on the request for eternity in heaven rather than assistance with material reality. Judaism is a "this worldly" (p. 36) religion. Does this say anything about Judaism per se? MacDonald says yes, in part, because he claims to find that the obtaining of resources is central to Jewish religious belief and practice. His data? The fact that he can find a focus on business practices in the Talmud (p. 37). There may indeed be a significant focus on business practices in the Talmud. The Talmud is an attempt to translate a religious document (the Bible) into instructions for actions and practical everyday life, i.e., rules for how to behave in reciprocal altruistic interactions. This same is true of the Muslim sharia: the translation of the Koran into a code of behavior. Again, if the claim is that Judaism represents a group evolutionary strategy characterized by a higher level of focus on resource accrual, where is the comparison group? Mining the Talmud--which functions, in part, as the Jewish community's equivalent to the many volumes of laws we have to guide us in intragroup conflicts--for indications of a Jewish focus on resource accrual is as appropriate as looking at the Massachusetts General Laws and concluding that Bay Staters have an unusual focus on material wealth. Only in a state where there is a significant separation of church and state could you find religious systems without extensive focus on intragroup conflict and resolution. So MacDonald's mining of the Talmud raises the all-important question once again: Where is the comparison group? And, of course, this is dangerous theorizing as it lends pseudo-scientific credence to racist notions about greedy, materialistic Jews. It is hard to believe that MacDonald is unaware of this when he makes statements like "Extreme concern with worldly success has also remained a characteristic of Judaism in the contemporary world." (p. 188). I don't doubt that, like all people, Jews are very concerned with material success. But the use of the word "extreme" unmistakably indicates a comparison with other groups. Where is the comparison? Where is the evidence? --------------------------------------------- Kevin, as you know, this just scratches the surface of my critique. Take all the time you want and respond to these or other criticisms. But Kevin, you should know that I'm not a "practicing psychoanalyst," whatever that may be (it sure sounds bad from the way you use it to discredit me) and if you think my evolutionary credentials are flimsy read the foreword to my book (written by Robert Trivers).