It’s astounding because it is a piece of writing about race that is so good that I actually have specific criticisms of it. I didn’t even realize how strange this was until about my tenth nitpick, when I noticed that I was nitpicking individual arguments instead of shouting at my computer “WHY ARE YOU SO STUPID?! WHY?! WHY?!”
It’s astounding because I have no idea what the author’s political leanings are even though he seems to go through great trouble to explain them. One minute he will seem like a raging leftist, the next he will be talking about how racism is just as stupid as global warming alarmism. Or talking about how racism keeps people of all skin colors from uniting in brotherhood against the real enemy, Muslims.
It’s astounding because I think it was meant to actually convince people. It’s written in a style of “I can see where you’re coming from, but have you considered X?” I thought I was the only person who had figured out that this worked better than “YOU ARE DUMB AND I HATE YOU. NOW PLEASE AGREE WITH ME.”
But I think the most astounding part is that it might be one of the first things I’ve ever read to argue against racism (NO GOULD AND LEWONTIN DON’T COUNT).
I mean, I’ve read a lot of articles condemning racism, and accusing people of racism, and being very upset about the racism inherent in society. But this might be the first one I’ve ever read to argue against it.
That is worthy of note. It is the exact opposite of the attitude in Cowpox of Doubt, like someone who says “Homeopathy? I guess the responsible thing to do is to read dozens of studies before I form an opinion on it”. This may not be a very practical philosophy or a good way to win friends, but it’s an impressive signal of epistemic virtue if nothing else.
I won’t say the FAQ gets everything right – just for one example, if I’d written it I would have dropped the whole “race doesn’t exist” thing as too complicated a question to be worth debating without a longer diversion into philosophy than most people would be willing to entertain.
But it’s pretty good for a first attempt at the genre.
Prussian deserves more traffic for having written something so ambitious, and I don’t have the energy to enforce the censorship I would need for a good comments thread about race, so please take your comments on his Q&A there, not here.