She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

I’m going to review Carl Zimmer’s new book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh.

Well, you can see why he has a job at the New York Times.  And I do mean that in a bad way.

“of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Someone has to resist nonsense.  But why me, Lord?  I guess I’m just that guy.

Probably there will be a podcast. The GoFundMe link is here. You can also send money via Paypal (Use the donate button), or bitcoins to 1Jv4cu1wETM5Xs9unjKbDbCrRF2mrjWXr5.

In-kind donations, such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris,  are always appreciated.

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86 Responses to She Has Her Mother’s Laugh

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m looking forward to your evisceration of this text.

  2. AppSocRes says:

    Steve Sailer beat you to it: But I suspect that your review will be much more detailed and technical. Thank you for sparing so many of us the wretched and unrewarding task of slogging through this dreck. I will now supplement my verbal thanks with a donation to your cause.

  3. thesoftpath says:

    He has his father’s laugh?

  4. Maciano says:

    reading sailer’s review i feel like i’ve seen enough.


    i know he reads your blog so he’ll know we know he’s full of shit.

  5. Patrick L. Boyle says:

    How can I pay you to NOT review his book? We shouldn’t encourage the sales of this sort of thing.

    • gcochran9 says:

      Probably people who’ve read my review won’t need to read the book. But I think I might enjoy a bidding war..

    • dave chamberlin says:

      The book is 672 pages and has the full title “She Has Her Mothers Laugh, The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.”

      Perversions…..Jesus H Christ on a stick, can we talk honestly about science and what is has found out without 1) beating the dead horse for 650 pages of a 672 page book and 2) loading a scientific subject with stupid ideas like, don’t look there it’s perverted!. I want Cochran to stand up to the bullshit and tear it to small pieces and I will paying him yearly to continue to do so with scathing reviews of books that sell out science for what is presently most popular.

  6. Thiago Ribeiro says:

    Except for resail value, are Ferraris that great?

  7. syonredux says:


    Looks as though Ron Unz has embraced the “Suvorov Hypothesis”(Hitler invaded the USSR in order to stop Stalin’s planned invasion of Western Europe)….

    Possibly related, he’s also developed an enthusiasm for the work of David Irving…..

    • gcochran9 says:

      I’ve talked about “Icebreaker” – nonsense, of course.

      Irving is a lying sack of Nazi shit.

      • MawBTS says:

        Irving is a lying sack of Nazi shit.

        Hey, we all have our faults.

      • Henry Scrope says:

        Maybe true but he’s still better than the rest of the historians.

      • Gary Jones says:

        Do you have a dog in the race to use Mel Gibson phrase?

      • syonredux says:

        “Irving is a lying sack of Nazi shit.”

        What, you mean you don’t think that the Nazi attempted genocide of the Jews occurred without Hitler being aware of it?

        • gcochran9 says:

          “If only the Führer knew”

          Of course I don’t believe it. I don’t think Poland was plotting an attack on poor pitiful Germany, either.

          • syonredux says:

            ‘“If only the Führer knew”

            Of course I don’t believe it. I don’t think Poland was plotting an attack on poor pitiful Germany, either.”

            But…but…Ron Unz says that Irving is the Best Historian Evah!!

            ” It would hardly surprise me if the huge corpus of his writings eventually constitutes a central pillar upon which future historians seek to comprehend the catastrophically bloody middle years of our hugely destructive twentieth century even after most of our other chroniclers of that era are long forgotten.”


            • gcochran9 says:

              Ron is nuts. You knew that, right?

              • syonredux says:

                “Ron is nuts. You knew that, right?”

                I used to think that he was quasi-nuts (cf his wonky theories on IQ)…..But now I know that he’s gone full Mr Peanut….

              • Tanturn says:

                Yep. The only reason he’s notable is because he somehow acquired a bunch of money he can now throw around. I wonder if any of the other Unz writers will jump ship as Razib did.

              • mapman says:

                The only reason he’s notable is because he somehow acquired a bunch of money he can now throw around.

                Come on now. Be reasonable! Ron is strangely prone to “conspiracy theories”, for the lack of a better phrase. He may be frequently wrong. All true. But he is a smart guy who earned his money honestly and is trying to use the $$$ for the betterment of the world, as he sees it. That’s an admirable quality, no matter what you think of the goals. On top, he personally coded a great blog/forum comments software – the best in the world, in fact.

                IOW, he is a kook that gave us, and continues to give, a lot of value. You don’t need to trash talk about everyone with whom you disagree (there isn’t anyone with whom you agree on everything, after all!)

                Razib is a thoroughly unoriginal guy who is at his best at self-promotion. Only good for the links (which in itself is a valuable service). Kind of like Tyler Cowen, just not nearly as good at linkage.

              • gcochran9 says:

                I think Ron’s judgement has not been good, but I bear him no ill-will. Embracing David Irving is likely to get him in trouble. If Irving’s thesis were correct, and Ron Unz were willing to sacrifice himself for a truth – that would be his business. But Irving is a lying sack of shit, not worth sacrificing oneself for. I advise rethinking – and that is friendly advice.

              • Tanturn says:

                I was being hyperbolic with the “somehow acquired a bunch of money” line. I’m sure he acquired it honestly. What pisses me off about the situation is that all the other writers on Unz are going to get in trouble for this, asked why their byline appears next to an actual real antisemite. Did Unz ever stop to think about that? This kind of shabby behavior by the “leaders” of the New Right, Richard Spencer is another great example, does much to discourage serious people from joining.

              • Zimriel says:

                Razib doesn’t pretend to be original. He pretends to be an arbiter of facts and a conduit of scientific journal findings to the upper strata of the IQ curve. Which pretensions Razib has earned, because he does just that. Mostly successfully.
                If there’s a fault in Razib’s prose, it’s that this prose is difficult, partly because English isn’t his first language, but mostly because he ignores anyone with an IQ under (I’d estimate) 135. Razib cares about the discussions in the journals; the rest of the planet is filled with normies whose opinions don’t matter to him. So someone like me, whose IQ isn’t much higher than his cutoff (and might be lower), will struggle with his output.
                He’s the prof who doesn’t mind that he loses half his students by the end of the semester.

              • Jim says:

                I think Razib’s writing has improved greatly over how he wrote many years ago. Much less opaque.

            • TWS says:

              Unz also thinks illegals commit crimes at the same rate as whites. You’d be more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by an illegal if you’re a middle class white.

              I know, personally three people killed by illegals and several rape and one kidnap victim. Personally, like went to church, worked with, etc. Not people I read about in the paper.

              I know zero people struck by lightning.

              • R. says:

                What do you mean, by ‘personally know’ ?

                You knew these people by name before they were murdered?

              • TWS says:

                Like one was my friend. I heard the shot that killed him from my front porch. One was a girl that I watched grow up a friend or my kids whose little daughter had to wade through the blood of her butchered body to call 9-11, one was a guy I knew through my work he was hacked to death with a machete.

                Knew as in had coffee with or lived with me or I knew from work. Friends for decades knew.

            • The G_Man says:

              Of the columnists on Unz, 7 out of 21 (Saker, Giraldi, Petras, Paul Craig Roberts, Saker, Israel Shamir*) have one all consuming (((obsession))). A lot of the othes have it as one of their top 3 issues. One of the things you notice about his site is that on one particular (((topic))), the quality of writing is noticeably worse, almost as if Unz is happy to let any old maniac write about it if it goes along with his general prejudices. He used to have some guy living in Spain- I forget his name – who was legit insane and wrote 20,000 (not an exaggeration) word screeds explaining why every Islamic terror attack was a (((fake))). The phrase self-hating Jew is overused, but sometimes the shoe fits.

              I defy anyone to defend Israel Shamir as someone with an worthwhile take.

              • Hwite says:

                “Of the columnists on Unz, 7 out of 21 (Saker, Giraldi, Petras, Paul Craig Roberts, Saker, Israel Shamir*) have one all consuming (((obsession))). ”

                I count five writers in the list. In any case, it shouldn’t be surprising, Unz wanted to build an alternative media website, and (((that subject))) is number one on the list of subjects (((a certain group of people))) don’t want discussed. Granted, I can’t defend Israel Shamir as someone with an worthwhile take. Indeed, I regard the whole lot of the “anti-Zionists” as the mirror image of the over-the-top Israel-supporting Evangelical, but at least they are more honest and more consistent in their antiracism than most Leftists. That’s why Unz hired them. David Irving is a different breed, as Cochran says, a lying sack of Nazi shit. It’s disappointing that Unz couldn’t see that in this case, there really is a wolf.

              • BB753 says:

                If I were a Mossad asset, I’d publish a magazine in which all the neo-nazis, anti-Israel types and anti-semites would be welcome, and where they could gather, publish and discuss their pet theories. It would make spying on them much easier.
                Just saying.

      • gothamette says:

        He really was. People need a few bright red lines, one of which is: Nazis suck. Don’t go there.

        Gitta Sereny made mincemeat of him – he tried to sue her, too, but the suit died of unnatural causes.

        Fun fact: Ludwig von Mises was Sereny’s step father!!

        • Zimriel says:

          David Cole came to roughly the same conclusion in his book ‘Republican Party Animal’, IIRC. There’s honest revisionism and there are lying Nazi [words], and Irving went with the latter.
          Which is why Cole writes for Taki and leaves Unz alone.

          • gothamette says:

            @Zimriel, Right. D.D. Guttenplan pointed out that the lampshade story was a fabrication of some Polish Communist faction, and Yehuda Bauer was the chief muscle behind revising the # of killed at Auschwitz down.

            There’s no need to lie. The truth is bad enough.

          • gothamette says:

            I just looked up David Cole, and I have to retract my former statement or at least its tone. Cole strikes me as not of sound mind, and I doubt there are any honest revisionists.

            Thank you.

            • Chris W. says:

              Can you expand a bit on why Cole strikes you as “not of sound mind?” I read his book and found it quite reasonable. He uses foul language freely, and is an admitted alcoholic, But beyond that, what makes you think he’s not of sound mind?

  8. Sean Fielding says:

    Tantalus-level fruit: establishing cred in the +5-sigma, non-Gaussian discipline that is Physics.
    Low-hanging fruit: building on that cred to expose the lies surrounding Genetics.
    Root vegetables: Boomer followers assuming that conveys absolute reliability on History.

    • Garr says:

      Boomers read books. This is from either Niall Ferguson’s THE WAR OF THE WORLD or Margaret Armour’s translation of THE NIBELUNGENLIED (I forget which):
      “They did as he commanded, and bare the seven thousand dead bodies to the door, and threw them out. They fell down at the foot of the stair. Then arose a great wail from their kinsmen. Some of them were so little wounded that, with softer nursing, they had come to. Now, from the fall, these died also. Their friends wept and made bitter dole.”

  9. albatross says:

    It’s always going to pay better to tell people that science supports their existing beliefs, than to tell them that science has a bunch of disturbing and confusing discoveries that are going to require them to spend a lot more time thinking things through.

    • Jim says:

      But saying for example that races do not exist does not support existing beliefs but is contrary to them. Same thing for saying that innate behavioral differences between the sexes do not exist.

      • I would make a distinction on both counts between “the existing beliefs of your barber and Home Depot manager” versus “the existing beliefs of people trying to prove they can speak Sociology fluently.” The latter believe they have seen through all that nonsense of the former, because they have received the proper indoctrination.

    • Jim says:

      Conservatives may have a bias causing them to favor existing beliefs but supporting
      existing beliefs is not a left thing. Leftists are not trying to pander to the prejudices of the common man but to subvert them.

  10. Eff says:

    Hey everyone. Somewhat off-topic but on-topic regarding books. How good are Yuval Harari’s books (e.g. Sapiens)? They’re insanely popular in the mainstream, however that doesn’t really tell me much. Are they worth reading?

    • Craken says:

      Harari’s background is military history. I’ve only read “Sapiens.” Harari is clever and generally a realist, but he suffers some predictable lapses. He claims in “Sapiens,” for instance, that today biologists know that “the biological differences between present-day human populations are trivial.” And he makes this statement in the context of condemning the “culturism” of those Europeans who doubt that mass importation of Muslims is prudent policy. He also seems to think that Africa and India are poor primarily due to unethical capitalists, instead of incompetent local governanance plus low IQ populations. On the other hand, he explains the motivations of the Nazis quite dispassionately–they did not hate humanity per se, but were pursuing their ideal of “Darwinist humanism.” Like Jared Diamond, his problems mainly arise from his denial of significant group differences among humans–including numerous lies of omission. If you can compensate for that running issue, the book may be worth a quick read. He has a gift for simplifying and clarifying complexities.

      I haven’t read “Homo Deus”, but I did read a great essay on it by Scott Bakker:
      Bakker seems to subsume Harari’s theory into his own Blind Brain Theory, but I think the book is probably still worth reading.

      • Cloveoil says:

        “He also seems to think that Africa and India are poor primarily due to unethical capitalists, instead of incompetent local governance plus low IQ populations.”

        Three things that go together: if globalism does not cause a low IQ, the high IQ Asians at least try to resist foreign capitalists, periodically. Lately this slipped in Japan and SK, but thats because of their expansionist economic models, they want US markets; and China recently booted out a load of illegal immigrants, so local governance plus low IQ makes for a willful victim.

      • Eff says:

        @Craken Thanks. I can handle a little bit of pandering to the usual suspects, as long as it’s not absurdly excessive. I loved Reich’s book for example, even though he clearly does the same (especially near the end). The rest of his book was good enough that I would recommend it.

    • CR Hallpike on Sapiens says:

      Read this first:
      It’s about 17 sides. It is not favourable. Then decide if you want to bother.

      • Craken says:

        Since I already bothered with Harari a couple years back, I thought I’d read the Hallpike paper as an unfriendly refresher. It seems to me mostly a study in the “narcissism of minor differences,” inside anthropology edition. But he does make a few good points. For example, Harari at one point exaggerates the similarity of humans and chimps (his egalitarian obsession really is compulsive). Hallpike is right that Harari elides the tribal stage of agricultural civilization, and overstates the need for writing/math in primitive states. But how are minor elisions and overstatements avoidable in a 350 page history of humanity? Hallpike’s point about the “Axial Age” would make more sense if he believed in human evolution (esp. increasing IQ under agricultural conditions). But, instead Hallpike repeats Harari’s denial of group differences and recent human evolution.

        In the best part of his paper (pp 13-15), Hallpike delivers a nice corrective to Harari’s account of the rise of science, where Harari predictably tries to minimize the European contribution (which was almost everything) as part of his efforts to read group equality into history.

        The worst part of the paper is the 2 concluding paragraphs, which are an unfair representation of Harari’s approach: contra Hallpike, Harari never claims that Darwinism is an appropriate grounding for moral reasoning, only that its scientific force and accelerating consequences cannot be evaded. He is simply grappling with Hume’s is/ought distinction (about which Hallpike is obtuse). And Hallpike’s dismissal of Harari’s concerns about the techno-future is foolishly glib; he jumped right out of his depth there. Harari is not even concerned enough. Scott Bakker made this clear in his parallax view of “Homo Deus.”

  11. Picked the book up yesterday at the library. I can already tell you it is tedious. I suspect he got paid by the word.

  12. Rich Rostrom says:

    Razib Khan has a review of SHHML at NRO. It seems to be favorable, though most of the review is devoted to a “survey of the field” (i.e. a recapitulation of how Goddard’s The Kallikak Family led to Holmes’ dictum in Buck v. Bell).

    • Horhe says:

      Wow. I don’t recognize Razib. It’s like he swallowed the whole bottle of chill pills. He even inserts some pap. Not the acerbic debater I remember, but I guess you have to adapt to your audience, and his unzistas probably enjoyed his style.

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