Saturday, February 27, 2021

Charles Murray

Update:  I found transcripts of a few interviews with Murray, but nothing that overlapped more than 30% with this.  Khan is in some ways a clumsy interviewer because of his verbal sloppiness, his ums and ahs and y'knows that professional interviewers are at pains to eliminate. However, he asks better questions, and hits some odd angles, which more than makes up for it. 

I will therefore double back to some of Murray's comments in separate posts.


I have been listening to a wonderful interview with Charles Murray while I do errands in the car.  My link is more appropriate for desktop use.  If you want to download it to your device for walking or driving you will have to download "Unsupervised Learning" there.  The interviewer is Razib Khan, who I have mentioned before.   When there were no new updates on the Insitome podcast with Spencer Wells* since November I figured Razib must have gone elsewhere.  His regular site has access to all his content.  

I have liked listening to Khan, but have avoided going deep into his site in the past, not because I feared I wouldn't like it or would be bored, but quite the opposite.  I feared I would find it so fascinating that I would lose myself in it.  As I looked for the transcript of the Murray interview for those of you who don't listen to podcasts, I saw more and more articles that prompted the thought "Ooh, I'll have to come back and read that."  Thus, my fear has come true.  I am going to drop everything and read Razib - except for the leads that Charles Murray gave me on his writing - and don't know what will come of that.  Will I stop posting, or post more often linking to various topics of Khan's?  Will I mostly just point you in the direction of the information, or will I offer my own thoughts about it.

I hesitate to offer my own thoughts on the interview.  You should just listen to Murray.  I keep thinking "Well, I'll just quote this part...I'll just summarise that section...I'll just bring this up to get people thinking..." Another rabbit hole, or more like a rabbit warren. Murray is just a data geek who became controversial because people didn't like his data.  He expected as data became more available that he would be vindicated and his ideas become commonplace.He has now moved to the spot where is just being ignored or marginalised in the discussion.  His last books have not even been reviewed in the major publications, he is no longer being invited for interviews in the usual venues.  Razib made mention (he has also been cancelled by major publications which are now trying to simply exclude him from the discussion, with no refutation even attempted) of seeing something similar. 

They are both Gray Tribe rather than red or blue, agnostic/atheist with thoughts that disquiet them about society's, and perhaps the individual's need for transcendence, rationalist community with a passion for data.  They are both watching in horror as they discover the data no longer matters. Khan mentioned that in the discussions of police targeting blacks over the summer, there was no longer the excuse of people saying untrue things and making unfair accusations, because the data is now easily available to all, sometimes down to the behavior of individual police officers. Yet the data is clearly not even being looked at. 

That's my comment on just the first few minutes of the interview.  You can see why I don't want to get into a pattern of listening for an hour, then writing for three hours about things which are better said by Murray or Khan in the first place.  So we'll see what happens. 

I will list what Razib's topics have been in another post soon.


Grim said...

So, did you find that transcript?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Not that one. It does not appear to exist, and even if it did would only be available to subscribers, of which I am only at the lowest level and might not qualify. I will try to make time to see if I can find some other interview with Murray that covers much of the same material. He spoke about his upbringing, town, schooling, Harvard, going into the Peace Corps in Thailand from 1965-1970, being driven to find the data to prove his points, and his early career. There was plenty of interest there that he referred back to in his discussion of American culture, and of course that would not change. I made only a ten-minute effort with DuckDuckGo and did not find what I was looking for.