A Good Question from Duncan Black
Let's Have a Daniel Davies Day! ("Tricky Cases Where the Rightwingers Happen to Be Right" Department)

Why Oh Why Can't We Be a Better Press Corps? (William Saletan/Slate Edition)

Perhaps the most amazing thing about America's press corps is how easily they are pwn3d: how shoddy their research is, how narrow their knowledge is, how mentally inept they are at what is supposed to be their job: understanding and evaluating sources. It must be a trained incapacity: nobody could be this stupid without long practice.

Robert Farley of Lawyers, Guns, and Money on William Saletan, who may at last have come to a dim form of self-knowledge:

Lawyers, Guns and Money: Apology Not Accepted, Bill: Saletan:

I missed something I could have picked up from a simple glance at Wikipedia.

For the past five years, J. Philippe Rushton has been president of the Pioneer Fund, an organization dedicated to "the scientific study of heredity and human differences." During this time, the fund has awarded at least $70,000 to the New Century Foundation. To get a flavor of what New Century stands for, check out its publications on crime ("Everyone knows that blacks are dangerous") and heresy ("Unless whites shake off the teachings of racial orthodoxy they will cease to be a distinct people"). New Century publishes a magazine called American Renaissance, which preaches segregation. Rushton routinely speaks at its conferences.

I was negligent in failing to research and report this. I'm sorry. I owe you better than that.

"Hack" doesn't really begin to cover it. Saletan sallied forth with the argument that the evidence for inherent intellectual inequality between races was so compelling that liberals who questioned the science were equivalent to creationists. Now we find that, in addition to not understanding most of the science he was trying to talk about, he didn't even bother to do basic research into the compelling work he was citing.

More Bill:

I wanted to discuss whether egalitarianism could survive if this scenario, raised last month by James Watson, turned out to be true. I thought it was important to lay out the scenario's plausibility. In doing so, I short-circuited the conversation. Most of the reaction to what I wrote has been over whether the genetic hypothesis is true, with me as an expert witness.

I don't want this role. I'm not an expert.

Huh. So I guess that's why Bill devoted two columns to stressing how strong the science was and how reluctant to accept the truth liberals were, and one column to a few half-assed ruminations about the political implications. And I guess that's why he felt the need to write this missive to the liberal masses:

Evolution forced Christians to bend or break. They could insist on the Bible's literal truth and deny the facts, as Bryan did. Or they could seek a subtler account of creation and human dignity. Today, the dilemma is yours. You can try to reconcile evidence of racial differences with a more sophisticated understanding of equality and opportunity. Or you can fight the evidence and hope it doesn't break your faith.

I'm for reconciliation.

Yeah; I'm pretty strongly against reconciliation with someone who thought taunting liberals for not believing shoddy racist science was more important than doing basic journalistic research.

Seriously, what does somebody have to do to get fired from Slate?

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