It’s often wondered at, how otherwise intelligent people can be just plain dense. I remember having a discussion about the Noble Prize stud farm, a sperm bank that in which the Noble Prize physicist William Schockley left a deposit in the late 1970s or early 80s. At the time it was reported that several great thinkers, so honored, were reported to have participated in this most risible of eugenics projects, though they chose anonymity. Anyone who thinks eugenics died with the Nazis should be chastened to find that any number of Nobels had that much faith in the pseudo-science that late in the game, encouraged by others with scientific and quasi-scientific credentials.*
During that at times less than serious, discussion, the very serious fact that Schockley was infamous as a scientific racist was unavoidable. The man was a total nut case, believing that the inferiority of people with African ancestry was a fact of hard science. He was and is, hardly alone, scientific racism is hardly dead.
I remember hearing one of my science heroes on TV point out to him that Schockley and the rest of the geezers in the Nobel stable would likely be inferior breeding stock due to the accumulation of mutations and cell damage at their advanced ages. Like the rest of his project, apparently that was a variable the Nobel Physicist and the other men of science neglected to consider.
The truth is, bigotry is not based in sound information or reason, it’s based in gossip, phony evidence promulgated for ulterior motives, in the heat of envy and resentment.
When a person allows bigotry to take over a large part of their thinking, it makes the results just plain stupid. No matter what they might accomplish in their professional life where they are required by professional standards to delete their bigotry, when bigots take one step outside their narrow specialty, their intelligence and behavior, takes a dive to the bottom.
I think that the thing to notice here, is that they are smarter when they are forced by professional standards to cut it than when they are free to vent it.
So, I’m not impressed with the PhD’d bigots that abound these days. I don’t look at their degrees or what faculty they sit on or their publications. You have to look at what they say and what they use to back it up. When they spout stupidity, that’s what they’re spouting. When their ignorant fans repeat it, the quality of it doesn’t improve. As with old line racism, it can have a damaging effect on the entire country and take an enormous amount of effort to overturn. Anyone who is a student of the literature of sexism and Jim Crow will know there were many degreed, highly positioned experts cited in the screeds that comprise it. Many texts supporting the subjugation of women and the oppression of minorities are authored by those with impeccable credentials and letters after their names. A lot of what I’m seeing from the high and mighty in our intellectual culture, even now, even with the entire, bloody history of the 19th and 20th centuries to have learned from, looks mighty like that crap.
* They never attracted the rarest of the lot, the doubly Nobeled Linus Pauling, who was quoted as having declined participating because he preferred doing it the “old fashioned way”.