One of Cummings’s Vote Leave fraternity said: “We need him. We took three years to get the gang in there. We can’t throw that away now.” When one of his acolytes was asked what would happen if Cummings shot someone dead in the street, the reply came: “It would depend whether anyone saw him do it.”
You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. This is because every time I tried to write this one, I had to stop before I defenestrated my computer.
One such reason is because it’s becoming more and more difficult to talk about people like Dominic Cummings and the immense danger they represent without doing exactly what they want us to do – amplify their message.
The obvious and instinctive response is to fight falsehoods with facts. Correcting falsehoods is important. People make poor decisions when they believe lies and trust liars: they expose their kids and others to deadly diseases, vote for the wrong candidate, or attempt to kill innocent people. But in fact, vaccines don’t cause autism; President Obama was born in Hawaii; and Comet Ping Pong pizzeria sells pizza, not children.
But there is one big drawback to fact-checking and lie-correcting. The more often a lie is repeated, even in the context of debunking it, the more believable it becomes. Familiarity provides the impression of truth. Furthermore, false statements, even when we know they are false, influence our emotional response to people and events.
So, we need to be judicious in our zeal to correct.
Hence why I haven’t talked about Dominic Cummings outside a few references. In truth, perhaps I should, if only to show people exactly what he is.
First of all: eugenics is dangerous, evil nonsense, both on its own “ethics” and its own “science.”
Eugenics is not a dead and buried spurious historical phenomenon — its roots and influential tentacles are deep and enduring. And the human casualties resulting from this supremacist ideology number in the tens of millions. Eugenics began as an elitist racial supremacist movement that enlisted highly respected academic scientists in an evangelic campaign to control human reproduction. It was a diabolical massive human experiment precipitated by a deluded misconception; the belief that by applying population control methods used in animal breeding would result in improving the “quality” of the human race.
– Alliance for Human Research Protection
Historians of race and American medicine have documented over two centuries of race-based scientific exploitation. There is a long history of the use and abuse of racialized bodies in the name of advancing medical knowledge… Scientists’ expectation of uniformity within racial groups and differences across racial groups was a belief repeated across at least two centuries of American research. Yet, their assumptions were not proven in their studies, and researchers admitted that individual variation was the most significant finding… their own research led them to conclude that ‘race’ provided little, if any, meaningful health information.
– Susan Smith, Mustard Gas and American Race-Based Human Experimentation in World War II
One of Kraus’s recent findings is that subjects of a higher class rank are more likely to have “essentialist” views about a person’s identity and status: “the kind of person someone is can be largely attributed to their genetic inheritance.” Or even more bluntly: “we have better genes.” The resulting class structure is something that arises out of inherent traits, from the individual out. Lower-class individuals, however, are more likely to believe that class is imposed on them, from society inwards.
– Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner, Social Class Rank, Essentialism, and Punitive Judgment
Of course, the folly of this idea isn’t simply moral but also scientific. The “fitness” of an individual defined by arbitrary standards is the hallmark of the pseudoscience behind eugenics and comes from Francis Galton’s inability to understand a statistical phenomenon known as regression toward the mean. As industrialization improved education and life outcomes for millions, he saw less extreme variations in achievements and IQ. But instead of taking this as a sign that the world was doing better in aggregate, Galton decided it was a sign that civilization was devolving.
– David Barnes, Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right
“The unfit are reproducing like rabbits; we must do something to stop them!” Although plenty of prominent Darwinians endorsed such sentiments in their day, no more incoherent a plea can be imagined from a Darwinian point of view: If the great unwashed are out-reproducing the genteel classes, that can only imply that it is the great unwashed who are the fittest — not the supposed “winners” in the economic struggle. It is the genteel classes, with their restrained reproduction, who are the unfit. So the foundations of eugenics are complete nonsense from a Darwinian point of view.
– Austin L. Hughes, The Folly of Scientism
Even if human breeding could be so controlled as to produce a race such as the eugenists desire, we might still lose much that is worth while. It is hardly possible to breed certain qualities in without breeding others out. I, for one, am alarmed at the conceit and sureness of the advocates of this new dream. I shudder at their ruthlessness in meddling with life. I resent their egoistic and stern righteousness. I shrink from their judgment of their fellows. Every one who passes judgment necessarily assumes that he is right. It seems to me that man can bring comfort and happiness out of life only by tolerance, kindness and sympathy, all of which seem to find no place in the eugenists’ creed. The whole programme means the absolute violation of what men instinctively feel to be inherent rights.
– Clarence Darrow (yes, that Clarence Darrow), The Eugenics Cult
I bring up the topic of this discredited, demolished, and denounced pseudoscience for reasons that should be obvious:
Dominic Cummings is a eugenicist.
It is already the case that farmers use genomes to make predictions about cows’ properties and behaviour (‘genotype to phenotype’ predictions). It is already the case that rich people could use in vitro fertilisation to select the egg which they think will be most advantageous, because they can sequence genomes of multiple eggs and examine each one to look for problems then pick the one they prefer. Once we identify a substantial number of IQ genes, there is no obvious reason why rich people will not select the egg that has the highest prediction for IQ. This clearly raises many big questions. If the poor cannot do the same, then the rich could quickly embed advantages and society could become not only more unequal but also based on biological classes. One response is that if this sort of thing does become possible, then a national health system should fund everybody to do this. (I.e. It would not mandate such a process but it would give everybody a choice of whether to make use of it.) Once the knowledge exists, it is hard to see what will stop some people making use of it and offering services to – at least – the super-rich.
– His own website
Educational achievement in school is more heritable than IQ in English school children: i.e the heritability of what is directly taught is higher than what is not directly taught. Perhaps differential performance in educational achievement is heritable because it is taught: that is, roughly similar schools teaching the same material reduces a major source of environmental variation, therefore the variation that remains is even more due to genetic variation. Similarly, this paper (Science, 23/4/2010) shows how good teachers improve reading standards for all but this means that the variance that remains is more due to genetic differences.
– Some thoughts on education and political priorities
Dominic Cummings’s father-in-law is a eugenicist.
Humphrey Tyrrell Wakefield: The quality is everything. In general, to be elitist, I think the quality climbs up the tree of life. And therefore in general high things in the tree of life have quality, have skills, they get wonderful degrees at university, and if they marry each other that gets even better.
Guest: So you wouldn’t have minded if one of your children had met someone from a lower socio-economic group who was intelligent and talented?
Wakefield: Intelligent and talented is lovely but I want parents and grandparents who’ve had hands-on success running their battles well and proving they’re wonderful. Because one is the subject of one’s genes. And I like the idea of them being successful genes and winning through to successful puppies.
Dominic Cummings’s appointed Number 10 advisor is a eugenicist.
One way to get around the problems of unplanned pregnancies, creating a permanent underclass would be to legally enforce universal uptake of long-term contraception and the onset of puberty. Vaccination laws give it a precedent, I would argue.
Dominic Cummings’s former boss, Michael Gove, staunchly defended numbskull eugenicist (& presumed fellow The Bell Curve owner) Toby Young.
And would you believe it – Boris Johnson’s said things that wouldn’t be out of place in a eugenicist’s manifesto.
That violent economic centrifuge is operating on human beings who are already very far from equal in raw ability, if not spiritual worth. Whatever you may think of the value of IQ tests, it is surely relevant to a conversation about equality that as many as 16% of our species have an IQ below 85, while about 2% have an IQ above 130. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will be for some cornflakes to get to the top.
– Boris Johnson
The UK has not moved on from Dominic Cummings, because despite the blatant lies perpetually gushing from the gaping orifice of what’s posing as the UK Government, the vampires don’t want the country to move on from Dominic Cummings. Why would they, when they have ensnared an oblivious opposition and supine media into making the story about what it almost certainly is not?
The “story” is that Dominic Cummings broke lockdown because… why? According to him, it’s a litany of self-contradicting lies, because of course they’re all lies, for God’s sake. The entire reason he is in his current position is because of industrial scale lying. We are well past the point of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Even pointing this out is insulting to everyone’s intelligence. If Dominic Cummings told us the sky was green, we would be demeaning ourselves by even deigning to stick our heads out the window just to be sure the serial lying liar wasn’t lying once again. If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, we’re at the stage where it is extraordinary for Dominic Cummings to be telling the truth.
So of course everyone calls into question the logic of his lie – driving hundreds of miles with a young child because you want to “test your eyesight” – & the fact that’s a sentence anyone has to actually point out is stupid is bringing me frighteningly close to defenestrating myself along with my computer. (I actually felt stupider typing that out.)
And in doing so, we’re doing exactly what the vampires want us to do – flail and drown in a sea of lies.
A more subtle type of bullshit is practised when leaders facilitate or give credibility to rumours or patent lies. This is often used to de-legitimise political opposition. This is a technique that British prime minister Boris Johnson has used.
For example, when asked by a BBC reporter whether some pro-remain MPs were under investigation for their alleged involvement with foreign powers, he declared: “I think there is a legitimate question to be asked about the generation of this SO24 legislation.” Not only were these allegations untrue, the prime minister knew there was no such investigation taking place to start with.
Similarly to Trump’s role in the “birther” conspiracy, Johnson simply rebounds the false allegation without providing any evidence and lets the digital echo chambers do their work. What makes this type of bullshit dangerous and difficult to tackle is its diffusion via social media, which evades accountability. Engaging with it or seeking to correct it factually merely adds fuel to the fire, spreading its message still more widely. Repeating a lie, even to debunk it, makes it seem more believable.
Dominic Cummings broke the lockdown because he does not believe in the lockdown. Neither does the Prime Moronster.
One who knows Johnson well said: “I think at the root of all this is libertarianism.” The source added: “He doesn’t actually believe in locking everyone down. He knows he needs to, but he understands why people might transgress and he can’t bring himself to criticise it.”
What they do believe – as is painfully evident by their policies, their comments, their articles, and their decisions – is that some people are genetically superior to others. You can guess whereabouts on this scale of genetic superiority they think they occupy.
All this makes everything they did – from their dogged determination to leave the EU without a deal, to their seemingly catastrophic “mishandling” of the current epidemic – take on a much darker aspect. They’d love us all to think that they’re killing tens of thousands of UK citizens because they’re just incompetent. They’re desperate for us to believe they’re all fools and charlatans who don’t know what they’re doing – that “herd immunity” was just a cataclysmic mistake, not something that would disproportionately affect the exact same sort of people whose genetics aren’t quite as “successful” as theirs. At this point, it doesn’t matter whether they’re fools, or whether they’re evil – people are dying because of decisions they made. The difference between malice and incompetence doesn’t mean much to the grieving families of countless people in the UK right now.
Eugenics is the road to evil, and I cannot believe that we’re talking about getting rid of eugenicists in the UK Government not because they follow a phoney “science” which is directly attributable to some of the most unforgivable cruelties in human history, but because he broke the rules he made up. These are people who think the reason they are wealthier than others is because they deserve to be – because of their genes. They are taking feudalism – honest-to-God feudalism – and updating it with the trappings of “science” and “philosphy,” because you can’t just rely on the Divine Right of Kings any more. They are the people whose reaction to Grenfell, to the deaths in care homes, to the children lying on beaches, was “so what?”
The rationale behind the UK’s dangerous policy on coronavirus is bigger than mere financial gain. Like the findings from the UN on the UK’s record on the rights of disabled people and on extreme poverty and human rights, this is about “radical social re-engineering”. Under the Tories, homelessness has increased, life expectancy has fallen, hate crimes are up, and record numbers are living in poverty and destitution. All their policies are designed to inflict harm upon the vulnerable. Now they just have to wait for the coronavirus to finish them off.
It did not have to be this way — as the UN pointed out, this was all a political choice. The money to support a fair and decent society was always there, but the Conservatives decided to fund tax cuts for the rich and to punish the vulnerable. Allowing coronavirus to run unchecked through the UK population is just another means of social cleansing. At least two ministers have contracted the disease, but it is not them that will have to worry. It is those who have already been let down by an extreme right-wing government and an uncaring society that put them in power.
And you’re asking these things in human form to resign?
You’re demanding that they be sacked?
You think we’re dealing with normal, reasonable, human beings here?
When someone shows you who they are, believe them.