Saturday, August 18, 2012

He who pays the piper ...

You want to publish a book about HBD? You’ll have to find a wealthy patron.

Debate is continuing over Ron Unz’s article on Race, IQ, and Wealth. In a favorable review at Living Anthropologically, the following comment caught my eye:

Unz has money, and he uses it to publish and promote. Unz apparently gave out at least $500,000 to Gregory Cochran, co-author with Harpending on The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution and with John Hawks on Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution.

Raised eyebrows ... And those people aren’t the only ones. Ron’s 2009 tax return mentions donations to Steve Sailer and Razib Khan, among others (Unz, 2009).

Once upon a time academics got grants or sabbaticals for book writing. But that option is becoming less and less feasible if you want to write about human biodiversity. Getting your manuscript published is even more problematic. In the past, you could submit it to a publishing house and they would have it assessed by an expert in the field. Today, that system is almost extinct, at least in North America. You must go through a ‘literary agent’ who will pitch your manuscript at wine and cheese parties. It’s a system that is highly prone to abuse: schmoozing, petty bribery, and sleeping with the right people.

There are only two other options: publish on a shoestring budget or find a wealthy patron. Like Ron Unz. But what do you do when your patron starts promoting ideas you feel are wrong? Do you say nothing? Or do you bite the hand that feeds you?

The act of giving money is not wholly altruistic. Implicitly, it can become a form of control. The receiver thinks twice before doing anything that might offend the giver. And the giver may drop hints …

Other happenings

- Emily Sohn has recently interviewed me for an article in Discovery News. See here.

- A journal article will soon come out on the relationships between blue eye color and feminization of facial structure. This finding is consistent with other evidence of sex linkage for non-brown eyes and non-black hair. Indeed, a twin study has shown that hair is, on average, lighter-colored in women than in men, with red hair being especially more frequent in females. Women also show greater variation in hair color (Shekar et al., 2008). All of this, in turn, is consistent with a selection pressure, possibly sexual selection, that has acted more strongly on European women than on European men to diversify the palette of human hair colors.


Anon. (2012). Race IQ – Game Over: It was always all about wealth, August 9, Living Anthropologically

Shekar, S.N., D.L. Duffy, T. Frudakis, G.W. Montgomery, M.R. James, R.A. Sturm, & N.G. Martin. (2008). Spectrophotometric methods for quantifying pigmentation in human hair—Influence of MC1R genotype and environment. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 84, 719–726.

Sohn, E. (2012). Why do so many women go blonde? August 14, Discovery News

Unz, R. (2012). Race, IQ, and Wealth, The American Conservative, July 18.

Unz, R. (2009). Return of Private Foundation (IRS)


James Graham said...

A question for anyone smarter than me: Are these grants US taxable income to the grantees? I know that Nobel awards are not taxed, but don't know about grants.

gcochran said...

They are taxable.

As you may have noticed, when Ron Unz says something I think wrong, I say so, at least if I'm interested. He used to run ideas past me fairly often: I thought they were almost all wrong and told him so.

The other skeptic said...

I do not begrudge Cochran the money he got from Unz to help write the book, if that is what it was for.

Even if it proves to be mostly wrong, I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the late marriage system within the Hajnal line in Europe is likely to have led to greater levels (or at least a different mixture) of sexual selection?

Sean said...

Unz is a difficult character to read, his motivations for donating to Gregory Cochran are puzzling in view of
'Race, IQ, and Wealth'.

On the other hand the 10,000 Year Explosion perspective may play against some folk wisdom about immigrant groups that Unz dislikes. Prof. Harpending said at his blog: "... that “social capital” is the big reason for Jewish success. In other words, Jews are a cabal. Seemed to me that we have heard that a lot before, for example about 80 years ago in Germany.".

Unz's donation to GC was not aimed at promoting a human biodiversity perspective, but at changing perceptions about immigrant groups, I think. It was political, as would be expected from someone as interested in politics as Ron.

Wealthy patrons for books on human biodiversity are non-existent. If you want to study evolutionary biology from a purely mathematical point of view, and debunk inclusive fitness, then you might get $30 million. Like Martin Nowak's program at Harvard did from Jeffrey Epstein.

Human biodiversity casts doubt on the groundless foundational belief of Western society: social hope. So much the worse for human biodiversity!

Ron Unz said...

This is just silly. I certainly didn't give Cochran $600K to write his book, especially since I'd vaguely known he'd already gotten a book contract and had begun working on it. Anyway, my impression is that book grants/advances typically run around $10K or maybe $15K.

Although several of Cochran's other Ev-Bio theories have also seemed correct and important to me, the biggest factor was his co-development of Acceleration, which I regard as an absolutely fascinating and sweeping paradigm shift in modern evolutionary theory, providing a vast number of additional theoretical implications, some of them not yet fully developed.

Unfortunately, most of Cochran's other ideas outside Ev-Bio seem totally incorrect to me, and I have frequently told him so, a sentiment which he strongly reciprocates.

And the grant itself was hardly a great secret. In fact, I recall the University of Utah sent out some sort of major press release at the time, though obviously the media never reported it. Similarly, on his blogsite Razib has for the last five years described himself as an Unz Foundation Junior Fellow, thereby perhaps providing some subtle clue that he might have been receiving financial support from the Unz Foundation.

However, I'll admit that some of my other financial machinations have proven far more successful. For example, just a few days ago I pointed out that the weighted correlation of Flynn-adjusted Irish IQ and year comes out at an astonishing 0.86, rather than the value of 0.00 predicted by the hereditarian IQ model. Given that I paid hard dollars for my computer, it obligingly gave me exactly the answer which I desired...

James Graham said...


I'll wait for the Nobel.

Sean said...

Ron, Peter recommends Cochran's book. I don't think he was impugning the integrity of particular donations. Just pointing out that the "marketplace of ideas" assumes a level playing field.

(Did you know that Bertie Ahern former prime minister of Eire did not have a personal bank account while in office? His view of the financial crisis: "That decision will in history be written as the biggest mistake that American administration ever made, because Lehmans was a world investment bank. They had testicles everywhere".)

gcochran said...

Jeffrey Epstein is of course a dirtbag.

Chris Crawford said...

Peter, I think you need to differentiate between purely scholarly works and stuff aimed at a larger, non-professional audience. There is a "render unto Caesar" element when attempting to publish books for a non-professional audience. The book has to sell to the public. That requires a literary agent and all the publisher hoo-hah.

On the other hand, a purely scholarly work will have no problem getting a publisher in the academic press if it has scholarly merit.

Anonymous said...

"they had testicles everywhere" ?!

Chris Crawford said...

"they had testicles everywhere" ?!

He's using a metaphor based on the octotestes, a marine creature known for its extreme r-selection reproductive strategy.

Peter Fros_ said...


The term "paradigm shift" is apt for the finding that human genetic evolution accelerated some 10,000 years ago, apparently by a hundred-fold. Previously, people thought that genetic evolution slowed down, with cultural evolution taking its place.

Ten thousand years ago, humans had colonized almost the entire surface of the planet, from the equator to the arctic. This acceleration of genetic change was not, therefore, a response to different physical environments. It was a response to different cultural environments: new technologies, new social systems, and new ways of passing on culture, such as writing.

Some of these genetic changes would have involved adaptations to new diets. But most would have been for mental abilities of one sort or another. So, on theoretical grounds, we should find differences among human populations in mental and behavioral traits. These would be statistical differences, often weakly statistical, but they would be expectable.

I don't want to rehash the pros and cons of your latest article. But it seems to me you're moving off in a completely different direction. In fact, you're returning to the old idea that human genetic evolution came to a stop some 40,000 years ago, or at least greatly slowed down.

Have I correctly understood you?


I didn't have you in mind when I wrote the title of my post. You're stronger-willed than the average person. But most people would be reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them.


In theory, the late marriage system would have increased the pressure of sexual selection on women, since the ratio of women to men increases with age. This was especially true in the past when many young men were carried away by war and work-related accidents.


It's almost impossible to publish nowadays without a literary agent. Over the past ten to twenty years, a large number of publishing houses have switched to the literary agent system. Previously, an author would simply submit a manuscript directly to the publisher.

It bothers me that academic publishing now depends a lot more on schmoozing. A writer with "schmooze appeal" is not necessarily a better writer.

Sean said...

The rural Irish farmer who became the richest man in the country: here. Quin didn't heed Dermot Desmond's advice 'You always take the money off the table'.

In Ron Unz's latest he denies there is a 'biological explanation' for the putative closing of the Irish IQ gap. Like Pinker said, Ron sees his critics as arguing for 100% fixed genetic potential and group differences.

I think Ron supported Cochran on acceleration because it suggests human groups' potentials are fluid, over generations at least. Ron selectively supported writing about human biodiversity that fosters social hope, but only those ideas. Now he seems to have cut out the middle man and is developing his own ideas (to which he allows a fixed racial exception: the Chinese).

Anyway, the money is now off the table, so there will be no opportunity to bite the hand that feeds. Or bite his hand off.

Kiwiguy said...

***You want to publish a book about HBD? You’ll have to find a wealthy patron ***

I understand the Bradley Foundation has supported Charles Murray's work.

Rushton of course heads the Pioneer Fund. Opponents have managed to demonise that fund, but it has supported some excellent research such as the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.

Anonymous said...

Intelligent soldiers most likely to die in battle

Sapient Homme said...

If Ron Unz made R.K.'s dollars dependent on better prose, I'd be all for it. He's painful to read. HBD Chick, almost always, and GC, usually, are pleasures to read. But I doubt HBD Chick will find any of Ron's riches moving in her direction.

Sean said...

Re blue eyes feminizing facial structure (and maybe other things). There isn't a whole lot of sex linkage for non-brown eyes.

A less masculine man might be better at being a monogamous dedicated caregiver. Also a man with blue eyes would be much more likely to have blue eyed daughters. Fitness advantages for blue eyed men?