Europeans have, on average, more neanderthal DNA than Africans. In an interview with Ezra Klein, Sam Harris said, “Had it gone another way, all of a sudden we can’t talk about Neanderthal DNA anymore.”
His point is that if Africans had more DNA, liberals like myself wouldn’t want to talk about it because it would be a concrete sign that Africans were more brutish. It’s a hilariously stupid thought to support his contention that Charles Murray is a perfectly fine person to platform on his show.
But Sam Harris is probably right. But not for the reasons he thinks.
What Would Happen If Africans Were More Neanderthal
The truth is that if Africans did have more neanderthal DNA than Europeans, it would cause a reaction. White supremacists would use the information along with the ignorant belief that Neanderthals were stupid brutes to argue that white people are superior to black people.
And thus, the discussion of neanderthals would become complicated. Because for each person who was discussing neanderthals seriously, there would be ten who were just using it to push racist bullshit.
Neanderthal DNA, IQ, Whatever
It’s like IQ. There are plenty of people who talk about it seriously and there is never a problem. No one demonstrates against James Flynn speaking on a college campus. They have a problem with Charles Murray because he isn’t actually a scientist. Instead, he’s a racist quack who uses the respectability of the pretense of science to push his own political agenda.
Sam Harris has shown himself to be open to racist IQ pseudoscience. He has also shown that he accepts the same tired stereotypes of neanderthals. So if it had turned out that Africans had more neanderthal DNA than Europeans, I have little doubt that Harris would allow racist quacks on his show to use this information to push their agenda.
And he would do this because, he’d claim, college students were trying to silence the brave neanderthal quacks. It certainly wouldn’t be because Sam Harris has some latent racism that he refuses to grapple with.
No, it would be because he’s just a brave truth-teller. It’s interesting that brave truth-tellers are almost always people pushing really old, regressive ideas. Leftist ideas somehow have a much higher activation energy when it comes to brave truth-telling.
Sam Harris Gonna Platform Bigots
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what neanderthal DNA says about human evolution. White supremacists would use it to make racist arguments if it helped them and ignore it if it didn’t. If it did help them make their case, liberals would rightly see the issue as a delicate one.
And Sam Harris would platform racists wanting to use it.
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