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To: H-NET History of Antisemitism List <H-ANTISEMITISM@H-NET.MSU.EDU> Jon Morse is entirely correct to point out that Kevin MacDonald's theories on Jews, Judaism and antsemitism have hardly found unanimous support within his own discipline. Readers of this list may be interested to know that at the June 2000 meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society MacDonald's work was addressed in a symposium entitled "The use of evolutionary biology in understanding religion." Among the papers was a lengthy examination of MacDonald's scholarship by his fellow HBES member Daniel Kriegman, "Kevin MacDonald and the Jews: Hard medicine to swallow, or a delicious gift to Saint Stephen (J. Gould)?" [Meeting proceedings are available here: http://www.hbes.com/HBES/ABST2000.HTM]. I had the privilege of reading a draft version of Kriegman's paper some weeks before the HBES meeting. I found it to be thorough (running to over fifty pages of single-spaced type), scrupulously documented, and utterly devastating, particularly in its accumulation of the evidence of MacDonald's anti-Jewish bias. The draft concludes by calling for evolutionary anthropologists to take a stand against "such pseudo-science," for "this type of work is not what evolutionary biologists should be known for. Frequent use of inadequate data used to demonstrate human group differences (with non-existent comparison groups) coupled with failing to consider the current ecological conditions under which those supposed differences exist--and instead drawing conclusions about innate differences--is exactly the type of pseudo-evolutionary reasoning that is almost universally considered wild speculation among modern evolutionary biologists." [I have not been able to determine whether Kriegman's paper has been published either in print or on the Internet. I will certainly point readers to it if I ever do find out.] MacDonald's response to the paper is posted at his website [http://www.csulb.edu/~kmacd/Amherst.htm]. It is not uncharactertistic of his reaction to informed criticism: it is vague and evasive, and addresses not a single one of the specific points Kriegman raises. MacDonald defends the non-responsive response tactic -- in this case -- by complaining that the sheer length of Kriegman's paper "discussing my many sins as a researcher" made it "a bit difficult to try to response to all of them." He does not go on to say that he intends instead to respond to none of them. There is no public record of how MacDonald responded to Kriegman or other questioners during the symposium itself, although one attendee has informed me privately that his theories were "pretty soundly drubbed." The record of MacDonald's own pronouncements on his relationship with the community of evolutionary anthropologists is itself enlightening: 1. In a post to this list, March 9, 1999, MacDonald declared: "[W]ithout exception, I think that my work has been treated fairly and respectfully by evolutionists; the reviews by evolutionists have basically been good, and some people are very enthusiastic." 2. By contrast, in Slate's "The Fray," February 2000, MacDonald attributed the popularity of his books with white supremacists and other hate groups to the fact that "apart from the first book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone (1994) and apart from several heated discussions on internet email discussion lists, my books have been effectively ignored by the wider intellectual community and to a considerable extent even within the evolutionary community." 3. MacDonald's sworn testimony in the Irving-Lipstadt trial splits the difference. He and Irving apparently discussed the critical reception of his work before MacDonald took the stand; Irving asks MacDonald to summarize each of his three books on Judaism, but asks him to describe the critical reception only of the first, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: IRVING: Would you describe in very brief terms to the court the three major books which you have published, beginning with "A people that shall dwell alone", just in two or three lines setting out ---- MACDONALD: Right. My background is in evolutionary biology, and beginning in the early 1990s I started writing what turned out to be three books on Judaism from an evolutionary perspective. The first book was "A People that shall dwell alone", Judaism as an evolutionary, a group evolutionary strategy, just basically describing Judaism from the standpoint of my evolutionary biology, including the ideology of Judaism, the segregation of the Jewish gene pool from surrounding peoples, resource competition between groups, and so on, co-operation within the group and so on. IRVING: Can you describe that roughly then as the relationship between the Jewish community as a whole and the rest of the world? MACDONALD: Yes, but it was focused mainly on describing Judaism and its relationship, yes, with... IRVING: Was that book well received in academic circles? Has it been generally accepted almost as a standard work? MACDONALD: Yes, it has had good reviews within evolutionary, you know, periodicals, yes. [Trial transcript, January 31, 2000. http://www.hdot.org/nsindex.html] Although it was the *second* book in MacDonald's trilogy, Separation and Its Discontents, that formed the basis of his testimony, the judge was kept quite unaware of the non-reception accorded it in "evolutionary, you know, periodicals." As the June 2000 meeting of the HBES also strongly suggests, MacDonald's bland affirmation that A People That Shall Dwell Alone has, in Irving's words, "been generally accepted almost as a standard work" must have involved more than a little wishful thinking and a generous helping of self-deception -- assuming MacDonald believed it when he said it. All of which is to say that Jon Morse is exactly right: attempting to engage Kevin MacDonald in dialog is a pointless endeavor. The Kriegman paper makes manifestly clear what my own much more narrow effort [http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~antis/papers/dl/macdonald_schatz_01.html] can only suggest -- that his writings about Jews are so thoroughly characterized by bad faith and substandard practices that he must really be held to the same standard that Peter Novick applies to Norman Finkelstein and Richard Evans to David Irving. Until they have been checked, none of MacDonald's citations can be trusted to represent accurately, fairly or fully what appears in his sources, and all of his conclusions must be viewed as highly suspect. * * * * * Having said all that, I would argue in response to Jack Sigman's post of July 17 that there is enormous value in providing Kevin MacDonald with access to the H-Antisemitism list. For anybody interested in the contemporary intellectual history of antisemitism MacDonald is an apparently inexhaustible factory of primary source material, and the lasting mark of his presence in the archives of this discussion group offers a wealth of evidence for the scholar investigating the vagaries of the antisemitic imagination. _____________________________________ David I. Lieberman Doctoral Student Department of Musicology Brandeis University Software Engineer Multimedia Group, ITG Cotting House 211 Harvard Business School Soldiers Field Boston, MA 02163 617.495.6389 email@example.com _____________________________________