That said, the issue currently on newsstands (Volume 22, Number 2) has a cover story about artificial intelligence, which is definitely an interest of mine, and thus I dutifully bought the issue. But what should I find within but a plethora of articles about, you guessed it, race and politics.
First up is "Are You An Unconscious Racist?" by social psychologist Carol Tavris. This, unexpectedly, is a wonderful critique of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which purports to measure unconscious racial bias. The article gives in-depth criticisms of both the efficacy of the test itself and what it really measures (as opposed to what its designers thought they were measuring), but also how it is still being misused today:
...does the IAT really capture unconscious prejudices? Can the test predict whether people will actually behave in a biased or discriminatory way? The evidence is now pretty clear that the answers to both are "no."
Predictably, and unfortunately, the article reeks of bias, as was to be expected given the author. He blames Trump and the Alt Right as the purveyors of "entryism", which has in fact been a tool of the far left for generations; burrow into a sub-culture or institution and politicize it. We've seen it on display in Neopaganism, but to Michael it's only something that the right does. Similarly, he claims "conspiracy theories have long resonated with the far right," although the number of left-wingers who trot out conspiracy theories about vaccines, GMOs, and most recently, Trump-Russia "collusion."
All in all, it's a pretty terrible article, trying to paint the Alt Right in as bad a light as possible, ignoring parallels among the Ctrl Left, and ultimately trying to undermine Donald Trump by making false associations with the boogeyman of the hour, the Alt Right.
Finally, we have "Is Race a Useful Concept?" by graduate student of genetics Razib Khan and associate professor of epidemiology and criminal justice Brian Boutwell. It begins by splitting the baby, somewhat:
We seek to address a singular, simple question: are racial classifications (Black, White, Hispanic, etc.) a pure social construction, or are they "real" on some deeper biological level? Scientific advances continue to converge on a single, clear, conclusion: Race is a useful social construction that maps onto a biological reality.The article then goes into the genetic component of race, the value of social constructs, and compares the concept of race to that of species, which is as they say "slippery." On the whole it's a nice little article, although it doesn't really bring a lot of detail to the discussion, that isn't its purpose. It's setting out to start the conversation in a way that doesn't bow to the conventional progressive view of the subject, and I daresay the letters column in the next issue of the magazine will be interesting indeed.