The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or by Colin Wright. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.
Jim: Today’s guest is Colin Wright, Quillette assistant editor and a former academic scientists. The reason I reached out to you originally Colin that we’re going to go to lots of other places in this conversation is back in I think it was April, April 6th or thereabouts, you posted that you had an opportunity to extend your contract at Penn State for another year, but you were looking for faculty positions and you’ve done a lot of work on it, you concluded that it wasn’t likely to happen.
Jim: And you posted that you thought your social media presence and some of your popular essays and particularly, I think Wall Street Journal essay had perhaps hindered your chances and you said you suspected at least and had heard from friends that people might be considering hiring you, but we’re afraid the HR departments would block et cetera.
Jim: Could you tell us a little bit about that episode in your life which has had to have been very traumatic, maybe a little bit tell the audience about your field of study, how long you’ve been working in it, et cetera?
Colin: Yeah, so I’m a behavioral ecologist which means I studied basically the evolutionary fitness consequences of behavior and I studied that with social insects and arachnids, mainly social spiders and paper wasps.
Colin: I had been, I guess, on the path for this for about the last decade or so. So four years of undergrad and then about four and a half years of grad school and then a two year postdoc.
Colin: It wasn’t until about two years ago when I started to kind of be active on social media and speaking out against some bad ideas that I saw kind of creeping up on my social media among friends and other academics where they were denying the reality of biological sex whereas before, there was sort of people distinguishing between sex and gender identity were considered different.
Colin: And then I saw people outright denying that biological sex was really classified as like a social construct. And so I decided I’d wanted to push back against that and especially since journals like Nature were writing sort of these articles and opinion, editorials that were basically condoning this sort of view and that’s when it all kind of took off.
Colin: I wrote an article for Quillette called The New Evolution Deniers that sort of went pretty viral that was calling out sort of the pseudoscience and the nonsense of the sex spectrum ideology and the fact that we’re all confused about what sex we are that maybe trans individuals aren’t actually the sex that they were born as.
Colin: And this sort of landed me in a lot of hot water getting people trying to cancel me online. Yeah, so I guess I could go into some of the details of what that was like some of my experiences. Would you like me to go into some of those?
Jim: Yeah, let’s do that. I got some more points down downstream, we’ll talk about that, but essentially, it was around this, the idea of trying to tease apart the ideas of sex and gender and got on the wrong side of some factions who you believe essentially sabotaged your career. Is that a fair enough way to short frame it?
Colin: Yeah, there’s never … So I left academia on my own accord. So there’s some people who are claiming that I’m claiming I got fired or something and that’s not the case.
Colin: It was more than seeing the indirect signals I was getting from my department saying that the students are feeling unsafe with me on campus, talking to professors at other universities saying in private that they would actually be interested in hiring me, but they are almost certain that their HR departments wouldn’t clear me.
Colin: Yeah, basically along those things. There’s a big job board in our field called the EcoEvo jobs wiki and it’s the main job board that everyone posts their jobs in academia to in my field.
Colin: And people had gone on there and just made jobs with the titles, calling the right as a white supremacist, don’t hire him, things like that.
Colin: So it’s hard to say how many job offers I wasn’t getting because you don’t you don’t see the data point, but I do think it likely had a big impact and given how much I published and how many first authored papers I had, I really felt like I should be getting more interviews than I was, but again that’s impossible to really determine.
Jim: Yeah, that was the next question I wanted to ask you. I did look at your publication history. Unfortunately, most of the papers were behind paywalls sons of bitches.
Jim: If I were Bill Gates, first thing I’d do is buy all of sons of bitch and journal publishers and free the information, right? But I’ve worked with young scientists and talk with lots of them and I’ve come to find that most of them have a fairly realistic view of their chances, right?
Jim: They’ll say, “All right, well, my publication history is sort of a slam dunk for Eastern Kentucky University.” It’s a bit of a stretch for lower end, tier one research university and frankly, I’m not going to waste my time applying to the really prestigious places.
Jim: Where do you think honestly your prospects were for landing a faculty job, in respect to say a tenure track faculty job, in respect of the controversy?
Colin: I think they were quite high to land a job that at a just like an R1 top research university. I mean, just two years into my postdoc, my total publications were almost 30 I think of 28 papers, and nearly half of them are first authored papers and they’re in decent journals as well.
Colin: So at least from my career stage of someone that was applying for their first assistant professor position, it’s quite productive and especially since I’ve been seeing a lot of other friends and colleagues who are in my exact same field, just getting interview after interview, and even getting jobs where they had published considerably less than what I had been publishing in worst journals.
Colin: So again, it’s impossible to know exactly what it is. I mean, your application is more than just like your publication record, it could have been part of the diversity statements because mine was an anti-diversity statements, but it was sort of not towing that sort of social justice line that they want.
Colin: So maybe that could have been an aspect of it, but it’s hard to tell. I think based on my credentials alone and my productivity, I think I should have had a good shot or at least getting a lot of interviews, but over, maybe I sent out around 150 applications, I only got about three interviews over the last two years, just a phone interview and then never moved beyond that. So do that as you will.
Jim: Yup. Yup.
Colin: It’s unclear.
Jim: Yup. As always, that was my initial reaction too, just looking at the number of publications and where they were, I said, “This guy should have at least gotten a serious look at a lot of places.”
Colin: Yeah. At least a phone interview. There’s something to be said about going to the interview and not interviewing well and not getting a call back, but not even to get the first step and just getting on the phone with somebody who’s interested, that was a little bit of a red flag to me that maybe there’s there’s something going on.
Jim: Yeah, that was why I reached out to you because if universities are now actively discriminating against people for their scientific views, that is very bad and that is something that really should not be taking place, at least in my view.
Jim: What’s your sense? You’re way closer to it than I am of how pervasive is this neo-censorship that’s now not only extended to political statement, but now to scientific views.
Jim: I mean, you’re basically you’re basically expressing a scientific view in popular journals perhaps, but you are career has been put at risk or so it would appear due to your scientific views?
Colin: Yeah. I think it’s a lot more pervasive than people would give a credit for. I remember when I was first sort of speaking out about this sort of censorship, a lot of people were saying like, “Oh no, this isn’t occurring.”
Colin: Universities aren’t looking at your social media and then, over time, these same people who eventually said something along the lines of, “Well, I mean, yeah, we should be getting your social media, you should consider your online presence as part of your application.”
Colin: So their narrative really changed from like, “Don’t be so alarmist.” To sort of, “Yeah, well, we do look at social media, and it’s important that we do.” And then for other professors to tell me that yeah, that the HR is coming in at the beginning of the hiring process, rather than traditionally at sort of somewhere along the line if anything were to come up that required at HR, then it’s pretty clear that there’s some active censorship going on.
Colin: We know in Berkeley for instance that they rate people’s diversity statements first and foremost, and then only the ones that are scoring the fives and sixes out of six points are then passed along to the departments for them to choose among. So I think it’s pervasive and getting a lot worse for sure.
Jim: That’s sort of what it certainly sounded like. Let’s jump into sort of the meat of the controversy here and we’ll get on to some other issues later, but a recent flare up of what you made some commentary on I believe, or at least retweeted is about this JK Rowling’s incident and her statements that sex is real, and is not on a spectrum.
Jim: And the distinction which people seem to want to try to make go away between sex and how people may express themselves in gender roles. So maybe you could talk a little bit about that controversy and your own views on this.
Colin: Yeah, so it’s been something that I’ve just watched evolve over time of the narrative sort of switching between or switching from that sex is a biology, gender is identity.
Colin: Now something a lot of people got on board from and that sort of morphed into this position now where they’re sort of blurring the lines between gender identity and biological sex or sometimes they’ll even say, “Yeah, they’re still different, but they’re both on a spectrum, or they’re both social constructs, and that you can’t boil down someone’s sex to one specific characteristic, and therefore sex is sort of an arbitrary place of where to draw the lines.”
Colin: And this is just a claim that is completely not true and it’s from a scientific standpoint. While some people might have ambiguous sex characteristics that ovotestis and ambiguous genitalia, that’s not to say that that’s the case for everybody.
Colin: So just because some individuals might be difficult to classify doesn’t mean that we’re not abundantly clear about the sex of nearly everyone in society.
Colin: And so that was what my recent article was basically discussing. I was debunking this sort of sex spectrum ideology, the claim that we don’t exist in classes of male and female and then there’s an ambiguous, maybe some few individuals that are considered intersex, but instead that we should consider just sort of maleness and femaleness as the sort of amorphic categories that we’re all just differing degrees of male and female and not definitively one or the other.
Colin: That’s just not the case and it’s important to I think get the science correct on that issue because it’s permeating into areas like having biological males competing female sports, or going to male prisons, or just having people claim that they can just assert that they’re not the sex that they are and that that sort of creates reality for them.
Jim: Yeah, that is, it seems we’re getting more and more that. You had a very nice analogy in one of your articles which was to compare the distinction between sex as in the biological sense of sex which is generally binary, but as you point out, there are a small percentage of intersex individuals and socially constructed gender.
Jim: I think you called it the biker and the cyclist model. Could you take us through that? I really thought that was very useful. I told my wife today that story and she said, “I like that.”
Colin: Yeah. So one of the main arguments that people advocating the sex spectrum model use is this argument from what are called secondary sexual characteristics.
Colin: And they’ll say that traits that individuals have like overall body shape, facial hair, voice pitch, how tall people are, how their fats distributed over their bodies, breast development like that, they’ll claim that these things while they tend to be associated with males and females, they’re sort of overlapping all these categories.
Colin: You can have males that have some level of breast development or females that have more sort of narrow hips and kind of have more masculinized features.
Colin: They used this to say that because there’s overlap between males and females in these certain characteristics, that this is evidence that sex is on a spectrum rather than discrete male and female categories.
Colin: And what this basically is conflating is the difference between primary sex organs and secondary sex characteristics. So the difference between those is you have primary sex organs or just your gonads, your ovaries or testes.
Colin: And then secondary sex characteristics are things that develop during puberty that’s correlated to the different hormones that is produced by either your ovaries or testes.
Colin: And the biker and cyclist analogy is basically meant to highlight what this distinction between primary and secondary sex characteristics.
Colin: So for instance, you can be a biological male, but you can have all these sort of secondary traits that are associated with being a female.
Colin: You could be a male and a have fat deposited around your hips more or you could have some breast development in the high pitched voice. That doesn’t make you any less male because you happen to have these traits that are more commonly associated with being female.
Colin: And conversely, you can be a female that has narrower hips, you could even maybe have some facial hair growth and a deeper voice and that doesn’t make you any less female.
Colin: The analogy I use for this was looking at bikers and cyclists. Motorcycles and bicycles, they’re kind of similar. They have seats and spokes and two wheels and handlebars, but they’re differ in a fundamental way.
Colin: So the primary difference between a motorcycle and a bicycle is the fact that a motorcycle has an engine and is powered by fuel or a bicycle is powered by pedaling legs.
Colin: Whether or not you’re you are a biker or a cyclist depends entirely on the type of vehicle that you’re riding. So bikers ride motorcycles, cyclists ride bicycles, but there’s also these secondary traits associated with bikers and cyclists.
Colin: So in that article I wrote, if you ride a motorcycle, bikers, you’re more likely to be wearing leather jackets and jeans and maybe bandanas and you could even possibly have tattoos and more facial hair and you could maybe correlate with all types of different types of behavior as well.
Colin: Whereas cyclists are more likely to wear sort of the spandex body suits and aerodynamic helmets and all that stuff, but the main difference here is the fact that if you have a person riding a motorcycle who’s wearing a spandex body suit and aerodynamic helmets, that doesn’t make them not a biker anymore, or less of a biker.
Colin: It doesn’t make them a cyclist because they’re wearing the clothes that are commonly associated with being a cyclist and likewise, the cyclist wearing a leather jacket and has tattoos and wearing jeans.
Colin: They’re not less of a cyclist and more of a biker because they’re wearing the clothing more typically associated with being a biker. So that’s sort of how we distinguish between primary and secondary traits.
Jim: Yeah, let me give a tangible one and get your response to it. Let’s say a transgendered male who started life and then still biologically a female has some hormone treatments, testosterone, et cetera and starts to manifest adam’s apple, shaveable beard, a little bit more upper body mass, et cetera.
Jim: Those would then correspond to these phenomena like the biker wearing spandex and an aerodynamic helmet.
Colin: Exactly. If you’re a biological female, and you start taking testosterone, you basically are putting yourself through a form of male puberty and you will start to develop secondary characteristics associated with being male more commonly, but yeah, but these secondary traits don’t make you into a male.
Colin: They just make you kind of appear more masculine. So that’s the fundamental difference. It doesn’t change your ovaries into testes which is the primary difference between biological males and females.
Jim: Okay, because I just want to make that clear. We weren’t talking about clothing really, we’re using it as an analogy and because of cross-dressing which is very different than transgender, though there’s some overlap, I wanted to sort of pick that distinction apart a little bit.
Jim: Let’s go on to the next topic and this, it seems in some ways related and I’d love to get your thoughts on how these two issues are related.
Jim: And you’ve written on the idea of The New Evolution Deniers and you quoted one of my favorites, Daniel Dennett about how evolution is a universal acid that reached through just about any traditional concept and in fact, I’d call out to our readers who want one of the most provocative evolutionary about everything perspectives to read Dan Dennett’s book, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea.
Jim: This will change how you look at the world if you’re not an evolutionary biologist which I have not, but I have read the book and I know Dan Dennett and I can recommend it heartily.
Jim: Why don’t you talk a little bit about these new class of evolutionary deniers and how they differ from the guys in Arkansas who wanted to outlaw teaching of evolution, et cetera.
Colin: Yeah, so they do differ in fundamental ways between what we traditionally think of evolution deniers which is mainly those individuals coming from sort of the evangelical, the Christian writer, just have a religious objection to evolution.
Colin: The new what I call evolution deniers, they don’t deny evolution completely. It’s mainly they deny evolution from the neck up.
Colin: So they usually have no problem with saying that our bodies are these evolved things and we have all these selection pressures that led to our bodies having opposable thumbs and things like that.
Colin: But when it comes to our psychology, there’s sort of this blank slate essentialist idea that we are all the products of just our environment, and that there’s nothing about our brains that’s evolved.
Colin: There’s no question sex differences in our behaviors and preferences. These are all just the result of differences in your upbringing and the social environment.
Colin: And I compare this in my new evolution denier’s piece to sort of like the Catholic Church where they seem to be kind of okay with evolution up to a point, but then they still say that at some point along the line, a soul was injected into us.
Colin: And God kind of helped evolution along in some ways. So yeah, so the new evolution deniers that is basically the people who are denying evolved sex differences in personality, and now, in actual biological terms there, they’re denying this not just sex differences in personality, but sex differences generally, they don’t think male and female exist as real categories.
Colin: So it’s an issue when you have the evangelicals coming at evolution because you don’t want individuals denying this and trying to teach creationism or something in our schools.
Colin: But for the most part, they were easy to keep at bay because evangelical Christians don’t have a really strong presence in academia, but the problem is really much more of an issue now because these new evolution deniers, they’re actually within academia.
Colin: They are biologists. When I was at grad school, many of the new grad students, even some of the professors were sort of in this mentality of not looking at actually evolved differences in personality type traits.
Colin: So it’s much more hard to root out because the attacks on evolution now are coming from within instead of from the outside.
Jim: And behavioral psychology doesn’t only focus on sex link personality differences, right? Through things like twin studies and twins raised apart and things like that.
Jim: They’ve found significant heritable differences and all kinds of personality attributes.
Colin: And it’s not just a thing for humans either. It’s in the animal kingdom, almost every animal species you go out and look at, you not only find these personality differences between the sexes, but also just among individuals within sexes too, there’s tremendous amount of personality variation out there.
Jim: Yeah, this kind of goes back to the blank slatism which I thought had seen its day, right?
Jim: I remember when I went to college in the early ’70s, there was a surprisingly large amount of it running around lose particularly in the humanities and the less rigorous social sciences.
Jim: But then it seemed like it got pushed off the field in the ’70s and ’80s, later ’70s, ’80s and ’90s as much more really solid research base came in and as you say, not just on humans, but on other species, probably all the way down to your wasps and such. What could have caused it to make a comeback despite the evidence?
Colin: Yeah, that’s something I keep asking myself all the time. That’s a good question. I’m not sure it ever really went away in any big way.
Colin: I just think of something over the last 10 years, there’s been a ramping up of this concern for any differences between sexes or any identifiable group really because this is seen as sort of maybe not even it’s empirically wrong, but that such information can be used by the wrong people in order to justify their bigotry to some degree.
Colin: It might not be correct to say that there’s no evolved sex differences in personality and preference, but in the wrong hands of truly, people who are truly sexist, this is a bad narrative that you don’t want them to get their hands on because they’ll use it for bad ends.
Colin: There seems to be a heightened sensitivity now along all of these issues and it’s really coming to a head right now especially over the last five years when I started seeing it. Really, really started to ramp up and it’s definitely very concerning.
Jim: Yeah, that argument, “Oh, but bad people will use these findings.” It’s kind of like people who oppose data from anthropology that early man, early humans, let’s be clear, but mostly men were violent and warlike, right?
Jim: I’ll throw in probably patriarchal and xenophobic too and we can’t say that because it will stir up bad people. Of course, that fails, a very well-known fallacy called, was it the Naturalistic Fallacy. I think that it’s from Hume.
Jim: It is also known as the is/ought fallacy that in human affairs, if you say, “This is the way things were or even if we have a genetic tendency towards X, and again, with lots of variants between individuals, that that’s the way it ought to be, that’s a logical fallacy.”
Jim: And the people that make this argument that we shouldn’t tell the truth seem to forget something we’ve known for 300 years that just because something has a tendency or was true in the past doesn’t mean it’s the way we should run our human societies today.
Colin: Yeah, definitely. There’s definitely an issue with trying to link sort of these moral components on to just facts of reality because if you decide to link them which I don’t think we should do, we know that your value as a human isn’t dependent on any certain, how intelligent you are or your personality traits per se.
Colin: But if we do end up finding these differences between groups, we can’t have this mental link between the worth of a person and these certain differences in traits.
Colin: And what essentially these activists are doing is they’re saying that I think they would deny that that link exists, but instead of just sort of driving the point home that we shouldn’t judge people’s moral worth based on these immutable traits that they don’t have any say in.
Colin: They’re trying to say that, “Well, these are not true or they’re suppressing this data.” Which if that turns out not to be the case which looks to be the case, then you hold yourself hostage to any future discovery that we make about human behavior.
Colin: I know that Sam Harris gave a good result, a good example of this before where he talked about, I think was a Nat Geo article that found out that people with white ancestry or I guess non-black ancestry tend to have more Neanderthal DNA.
Colin: And the only group that doesn’t seem to have this Neanderthal component of their DNA happened to be black people, Sub-Saharan African of origin.
Colin: And so there was a headline that was like black people are humans or what was the exact thing? It was that we’re part Neanderthal when black people are they’re just human and we’re somehow have this Neanderthal DNA.
Colin: But Sam Harris mentions that if it turned out to be just the opposite, if it was only black people that had Neanderthal DNA, that could just be spun in an incredibly racist way, but it could have turned out to be the case.
Colin: I mean, we don’t know. There was no way to predict if that was going to be the case or not, but we can’t just kind of hold our ourselves hostage to these future discoveries that could turn out to go either way because it shouldn’t matter which way the data goes on who happens to have Neanderthal DNA or a larger proportion of it.
Colin: It shouldn’t matter if who has Neanderthal DNA because that shouldn’t matter towards how worth a person is. Anything about them as a human.
Jim: Yeah, and that’s actually a good point that the traditional rhetoric about Neanderthal which there’s some evidence saying it’s probably overstated is they were kind of slow and not too smart and we’re out competed by homo sapiens sapiens and so arguing that the Eurasian peoples had Neanderthal ancestries along the way, way back yonder, obviously, could in sort of most naturally fits a negative stereotype rather than a positive stereotype. So it’s like, “What the hell.” Right? Like that was Sam Harris’s point basically.
Colin: Yeah. It means that we can’t be held hostage to these future discoveries.
Jim: Yeah. I think that’s hugely important. There was also a good article by Alex Mackiel. I don’t know if that’s … If I pronounced it right. It was also in Quillette what explains the resistance to evolutionary psychology and he wrote some similar things, the nasty aspects of our human nature, again, are natural, therefore good. And that’s a naturalistic fallacy.
Jim: And then here’s the key one we haven’t talked about yet is that an Evolved Human Nature necessarily implies genetic determinism and inflexibility which also seems to be some of the motivation for this resistance to evolutionary psychology.
Jim: And yet, we know human nature in form of culture is highly malleable. We look at the range of cultures that have existed for at least 10,000 years that we’ve been able to track them and probably further back than that in archeology.
Jim: And we know humans can live in many, many ways and so this idea that somehow that there’s some genetic tendencies in people around anything from aggressiveness to hierarchy, to modes of discourse, et cetera means that these are deterministic and inflexible which is just not true.
Colin: Yeah. There’s definitely a fallacy there where people seem to think that when people say something is genetic, that means it’s completely 100% determined, doesn’t have an environmental component.
Colin: But when people say something has a genetic component, they’re not saying that this is one to one going to lead you to perform this certain action. It’s usually just differences in genetics and gene frequencies predicts this percentage of the variation in this certain behavioral trait or whatever traits you have.
Colin: And you can look at just the idea of reaction norms where in different environments your personality is going to change in certain ways. This is the difference between being influenced and being determined.
Colin: No one’s saying that having a certain gene for intelligence or whatever is going to make you Einstein and there’s no single gene for intelligence, it’s really sort of a multi-genes working in complex combinations that are all additive that contribute more or less to certain traits, but this is all this all influences, and not deterministic.
Colin: But people think if you just sort of try to boil it down and give any biological component, then you’re just sort of saying that there’s no point in trying to reform society or change our laws because everyone’s just going to do whatever they’re going to do anyway.
Colin: And we’re going to use this to justify this current disparities we see in society and there’s no justification for that, those conclusions based on the fact that we can predict better than average someone’s behavior based on their genes.
Jim: Yup. And there’s a classic example which is one of the strongest genetic determined linkages is around height, but yet we find that height is only manifested when the diet is correct, right?
Jim: If you live on a starvation diet, low on protein and low on calcium, you’re not going to be very tall even though you had genes that in theory could produce height.
Jim: So there’s always a nature nurture interaction and it’s, I’m not a evolutionary biologist or a social scientist, but I read a lot of both and it always strucks me as almost insane that these either or discussions keep going on when it’s just so obvious that if you stand from the outside and look in, the answer is always both, right?
Jim: The two are interwoven in a complex web that both matter a lot in almost all cases and why can’t people get away from this either the blank slatism which is one poll.
Jim: You don’t hear about real scientists don’t ever, I don’t know any of the talk about rigid genetic determinism, but certainly the blank slatists argue that argument way beyond the point where it has any correlation with the evidence at all.
Colin: Yeah. With the exception of just a few genetic sort of diseases or things like sickle cell anemia. Almost everything can’t be talked of.
Colin: It’s not nature or nurture. It’s just basically how much of each and it’s not even a component of each, they’re just innately completely tied together and not just a quantitative way, but they’re just intimately tied together.
Colin: And you made a good point whereas I even don’t think I’ve ever met another biologist who actually believes that everything is genetically determined, and that it has a complete deterministic view of human behavior or any aspect of biology really, but it’s often said that I’m strong many people when I say that when I criticize blank slatism, but it’s kind of interesting that whenever you make an argument saying that there is a genetic component or there are real differences.
Colin: You tend to just get this wave of outrage of people yelling that this is just a complete social construct and there’s no shortage of examples of people just vehemently screaming blank slate ideology at the top of their lungs where the opposite isn’t true.
Colin: They have this false dichotomy between a blank slate and determinism and as far as I’ve ever seen, it tends to be blank slatism versus some sort of mixture, more nuanced position of nature and nurture. So that middle ground is definitely what’s going to win because it’s what’s closest to reality there.
Jim: Just to be fair, there are morons out on the internet better, kind of neo-Nazi jackasses and people like that who argue these extraordinarily ignorant and ill-informed genetic determinism.
Jim: A couple of them out of one of my Facebook groups recently. So that form of stupidity is indeed out there on that poll, but not from any scientists that I’ve ever met, and I met a bunch.
Jim: So again, let’s go on now to sort of get a little bit meta here which is how can one have a essentially scientific mind and build a theory that ignores the evidence?
Jim: I will put my flag in the ground. I point to this sort of pernicious, post-modernist way of looking at the world where you’re able to say, “Well, that’s just one way data and science are just one way of getting information.”
Jim: Johns Hopkins is really no different than a witch doctor. It’s just another perspective. Do you have a sense that this academic style post-modernism has something to do with this willful disregard of evidence?
Colin: Yeah, it’s pretty mind-boggling and I think a lot of sort of those ideologies speak to what a lot of people I guess wish were true and they … Yeah, I mean, they’re structured in such a complex sounding way where they have this veneer of authority and that there’s a lot going on here with how intellectual these theories are and other ways of knowing.
Colin: It just sounds all very, very nice and you just get this outpouring of this empathetic nature that a lot of people, more typically on the left tend to share and I think it’s just a major blind spot that some people have where they are using this sort of moralistic idea that things that are good and desirable, there’s more likely to look for evidence that those things are true, but as you mentioned, a lot of these sort of postmodern ideas, they don’t have a way to verify the truth of their claims.
Colin: They’re based mainly on this idea of standpoint epistemology which is this notion that you somehow gain more insight about the nature of reality and truth by the sort of arbitrary characteristics you have whether it’s your gender identity or your race.
Colin: And of course, these things have some certain nugget of truth to them like, “Yeah, I won’t be able to … As a white guy, I won’t know a lot if the experience of what it means to be say like a black woman in America.”
Colin: But the idea that they can then therefore have a better say on actual reality based on these arbitrary characteristics. This is completely untenable because it just takes one other person with that same background to disagree with them and then where do you move from there?
Colin: How do you distinguish which person is correct, which person isn’t? And it usually just devolves into like certain power dynamics and you’re lowercase black, but you’re not uppercase B politically this and the power dynamic situations are influencing these in certain ways where you need to acknowledge these privileges and it breaks down into this war between arbitrary groupings of people and they act like they’re creating knowledge, but these individuals don’t understand what it means to know something in the sense of it being verifiably true and objectively true in the sense that it’s falsifiable and you don’t have any special insight, special knowledge.
Colin: It’s only privately revealed to you and it can’t be tested and that’s just a, it’s major problem because it’s creating a lot of conflict that can never be truly resolved.
Colin: It’s like having to religious people debate about certain aspects of God’s personality. You can’t ever verify it so just get the two different religious sects to start talking to each other.
Colin: Well, that’s why you have so many different denominations right now because there’s no way where a lot of religious sects can actually find out who’s right and wrong about certain ideas that are completely untestable.
Jim: Yup. And I like why you said that. Now, let me dig in a little bit to what you said earlier which is it is true that one thing that is absolutely privileged, at least till the brain scanners get better which they’re getting better all the time is our subjective state, right?
Jim: One cannot share the subjective state of somebody else and speaking from their subjective state about their subjective state, they’re privileged, right?
Jim: But that does not lead, at least by any logic I can follow that the fact that your subjective state and how you interact with it and the insights you gain from it have any bearing at all on distinguishing what is actually real in the real world.
Jim: And indeed the huge accomplishment of the enlightenment and the scientific revolution in the century before the enlightenment was to replace doctrinaire statements or subjective senses of shamans or whatever about what is true in the world with a mechanism for actually, at least incrementally moving towards what is true or at least verifiable and as we like to say in the science world, falsifiable.
Jim: And to give up on falsifiability and the intersubjective methods of verification of science where a scientific claim isn’t true just because Colin said so, right?
Jim: If you say something scientific, there’s immediately a challenging to your methodology, people may try to replicate your work and see if it replicates. If it doesn’t, then that’s a mark against the argument.
Jim: And as we both know in the scientific world, one of the great ways to advance your career is to debunk some giant of the past, right? That’s the amazing beauty of the scientific method and the scientific culture.
Jim: Now, scientific culture has like any culture, some self-servingness, those of us who’ve read Thomas Kuhn know that cliques form and sometimes you just have to wait for the old guys to die out before a new paradigm occurs or et cetera.
Jim: But in the whole, the scientific way of knowing strikes me as a huge step up from the subjective way of knowing actual facts about the universe and this growing strength, especially in academia in a post modernist viewpoint perspective strikes me as exceedingly dangerous to the future of the human race.
Colin: Yeah, I totally agree. There seems to be this, they’re stopping their inquiry way too early. So from a scientific point of view, someone’s subjective state isn’t meaningless.
Colin: This is something, this counts as data to some degree. If enough people of a community are coming forward and saying that this is my experience, that’s not nothing, but that’s just the beginning.
Colin: That’s the first step of a scientific inquiry into something. You have a bunch of people making a certain claim and a lot of these groups are then just using that as that’s the beginning and the end of their inquiry.
Colin: Whereas as a scientist, you’d say like, “Okay, this is an interesting phenomenon. People are claiming this certain phenomenon is occurring.”
Colin: Well, if it’s a phenomenon that’s real, then it can be measured. If it can be measured, we can devise some sort of experiment that can measure it, and we can quantify it.
Colin: And then we’ll do the actual experiment whether it’s putting differently named people on job resumes and seeing how much they get the callbacks you get on those or things like that.
Colin: That’s an example of the way you can sort of test for these sort of structural problems or something or they’ll look at just a disparity in society between two groups that are say like men and women are paid differently and then they’ll use that just initial first glance observation to say like, “Well, this is evidence of inherent sexism.”
Colin: Except when you get down to actually controlling for the relevant, different variables, hours worked and types of jobs and preferences. This gap shrinks dramatically.
Colin: And so you can’t just stop at the first hurdle. You need to actually go move forward and design that experiment and test it and what science does that a lot of these other fields don’t have is they have this principle that something needs to be independently verified.
Colin: It doesn’t matter what your races what your gender identity is, what your sex is. If dogs could do science, they would still be able to identify that water molecule is two hydrogen and one oxygen.
Colin: This isn’t dependent on who you are. A robot could make the same discoveries in principle that we have in the scientific method, but that’s not the case in these other fields where they just don’t go that extra step to actually verify the truth of their claims.
Jim: Yup, that’s absolutely true. And actually it’s already, that example already exists while I wouldn’t say computers or AIs are yet actually doing science. They are doing math, right?
Jim: And proofs generated by AIs are held to the same standards of proof as proofs done by mathematicians. So the fact that it’s done by an artificial intelligence doesn’t change at all the rules for verification in the mathematical realm.
Colin: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s a good point.
Jim: And I also work in the area of artificial general intelligence, the goal of human level intelligence. I’d be willing to bet within 30, 40 years, there will be AIs doing science as well and I would certainly expect them to be held to the exact same criteria as anybody else doing science.
Jim: Let’s move on to the next topic and this kind of, we’ve been kind of building towards this. There’s one form of what I’d call post modernists thought that kind of exemplifies in some sense, many of these things and that’s critical race theory.
Jim: I’ve spent some time looking into it, reading people on it, et cetera and I go, “All right, I mean, I understand what the motivation is. There is no doubt that there is still significant structural racism in our country we know from recent events in the news that there is real subjective pain and many, many people, particularly black people in America from our fucked up history about race and the original sin of slavery, and then 100 years of Jim Crow and legacies of racism have gone on beyond that.”
Jim: But critical race theory goes way beyond that and essentially, in fact, it doesn’t even really use the basis in facts and history to support itself.
Jim: It essentially becomes a self-referential and unfalsifiable lens and to your point from previously, very much like a religion. There’s no way to argue with it.
Jim: Oh, if you have data, that’s white man’s data or green man’s data or whatever and therefore, data doesn’t matter, right? And so to my mind, the pinnacle of one of these evolved unassailable systems and if we look back in history, at least in my argument, I noticed you also said on Twitter that you’re also like me, a staunch atheist that when you use a self-referential, unfalsifiable religion essentially as a lens, generally you’re going to be wrong.
Jim: It seems to me Thor doesn’t cause thunder, Zeus doesn’t throw lightning bolts and whatever unfalsifiable system self-referential systems come into contact with new knowledge through the scientific method.
Jim: Essentially always, the scientific method is the one that prevails. You’ve tweeted a bit about critical race theory. Do you have any other thoughts about it and how it fits into these other issues we’ve talked about or how it compares at least to these other issues we’ve talked about?
Colin: Yeah. So I would say the issue with critical race theory is basically that it’s a subset of critical theory generally which is sort of based on Michel Foucault, ideas of power dynamics and Derrida’s idea of sort of deconstruction.
Colin: So it’s a purely negative way to go about things. They only problematize situations. They never really offer many solutions there. They just kind of look for the ways that sort of power dynamics are playing roles through the way we use language in our discourses and that these different sort of groups like whites and blacks or Asians, they all are sort of participating consciously or sub, even-subconsciously, for the most part, in trying to preserve dominant narratives in society and preserve their power.
Colin: And to me, this is just a completely ridiculous way to look at everything. It’s a conspiracy theory basically of human nature and this is not the way that people really act like that might be true on some national level where you actually have countries trying to edge out over other countries and preserve their power in certain ways.
Colin: But for most people, it’s really, it boils down to individual people in the way that they behave. We shouldn’t really be classifying people into, looking at individuals is just representatives of their entire group because it sort of averages over the nuances of opinion that are within any certain group and assumes that they all are just in lockstep with the same ideology.
Colin: A lot of these ideologies too, critical race theory, they have these what are called these Kafka traps where if you try to argue against the ideas put forth in critical race theory, that’s just used as evidence that their hypothesis is actually even more true that if you … The idea of white fragility where if you’re a white person, then you push back and say like, “No, this isn’t racism here.”
Colin: Well, that’s just more evidence of your racism. So there’s no way to win. You basically damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All roads lead to racism in this case.
Colin: When that’s the case, then if everything is racism, then nothing is. It’s just this is all encompassing ideology that can’t be argued with and then that shouldn’t be taken seriously therefore.
Jim: Yeah, that’s what I refer to as a self-referential and unfalsifiable aspects of it. It reminds me a lot of Marxist-Leninism and it had some of those similar attributes and a lot of religions have built in what I call mimetic defense mechanisms.
Jim: I still love to tell the story of my daughter who is an even more staunch atheist than I. When she was growing up, one of her friends was Pentecostal and they would debate religion or anti-religion and so my daughter said, “Well, what about the facts of the fossils that we keep digging up which are millions of years old? How do you reconcile that with your young earth fundamentalism that says the earth is only 6,000 years old?”
Jim: And I just, I still am just amazed at how this mimetic defense mechanism was built into this particular religion. And this 13 or 14 year old girl just responded very snappily obviously, pre-programmed, “Oh, those fossils, they were put in there to test our faith.” Perfect, right?
Jim: Awesome. It doesn’t get much better than that, right? You build in these mechanisms so that no evidence, no amount of evidence can be brought to bear against the argument and those kinds of things just have no sensible basis in being our tools for trying to navigate the world.
Colin: Yeah. It’s just sort of a modern day witch hunt for, that word is used a lot now and Trump has kind of ruined that for a lot of people, but I do see that as being the case where denying that you’re a witch is evidence that you are one and we see a lot of that cancellations gone right now and in our current time with anybody who gives any pushback against any aspect of this sort of critical race theory or criticizing ideas of what does systemic racism even mean.
Colin: It’s like, “What are you talking about?” And just the act of merely questioning it is just enough to get people to resign or get fired and have these online moms come after them. It really is kind of a scary time in that sense.
Jim: That meant to my mind, structural racism is a useful concept and one can think about what does it mean? And how is it result of history and what data can we use to verify that there are still effects from it, et cetera.
Jim: But unfortunately, that’s not the lens of critical race theory. It just is, right? And data is irrelevant. It’s essentially an ideology rather than a scientific way of seeing.
Jim: And it would be so much better if these ideas could be probed and looked at with a evidentiary perspective rather than just a proclamation because people who think for themselves naturally get their backs up and they may actually be overreacting against things that may actually be true.
Jim: I run the Trumpians for instance and say, “Oh, there’s no such thing as implicit racism.” Well, actually, I happen to know the guy who did some of the fundamental work on that and easily reproducible in the lab that there is indeed implicit racism.
Jim: And it’s by the way, you can measure it in people of all races. And so even though it’s a part of the bundle of critical race theory by itself doesn’t make it false.
Jim: Unfortunately, that it gets bundled with various varieties of nonsense, and which then causes people who maybe not have the background on the research to reject even parts of it that are true which in some ways hurts their own argument.
Colin: Yeah. I just wish that there would be more discourse on these issues because I think, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of truth that racism is a problem in the United States and we just need actual discourses that can lead to solutions rather than ones that are inherently seeking just to problematize literally everything.
Colin: I mean, there’s no state of the world that a critical theorist wouldn’t consider problematic because that’s just what they do. That’s the only tool that they have to go in and investigate things and they just investigate it with scare quotes because that’s not a true investigation.
Colin: It’s purely, I mean, it’s right in the word. It’s deconstruction. They don’t build anything up, they just tear things down and then they call that progress, or at least they believe it is, but at least a lot of us are thinking that maybe that’s not the case.
Jim: Yeah, but I would say I’m on board with you. I’ve worked with a group of people called Game B which is trying to design the social operating system for the 21st century.
Jim: And at least some of us try very hard to steer the effort away from the post-modernist swap because as you say, they actually have come up with some good criticisms of things, but there seems to be nothing in their toolkit on how to build, there’s nothing generative there.
Jim: Sometimes I’ve been known to say it’s kind of like hiring an academic film critic to run a movie studio. That’s not going to work out too well, I can tell you, right?
Jim: Perhaps the post-modernists serve a useful purpose as critics of the mainstream world moving forward, but when they try to then craft substantive ways to deal with the world, that’s where one should be very, very skeptical it seems to me.
Jim: Well anyway, I think we’d beat up on that enough. Let’s move on to my next point. It’s one of my favorite points. As I said, you tweeted that you’re a staunch atheist, but the behavior of many of these activists, right? Demonstrates that religion is a deep-seated aspect of human nature, dogmas and objects of worship may change, but their structure remains largely unaltered. Religion isn’t going away, ever. I hope you’re wrong there, but say some more about that.
Colin: Yeah. I mean, I used to sort of be more on the Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris side of atheism where and I mean to some degree, I still am or wish religion wasn’t a thing and I thought that because I didn’t need, I saw no use for this sort of worship in higher power thing in my own life, that this was something that everyone could essentially do without if only they were taught the right things or something or they weren’t indoctrinated from a very young age.
Colin: And I sort of think that’s not true anymore. I think that there is a religious instinct that people have, at least that manifested a group level.
Colin: When people get together and it really addresses a fundamental, I think this fundamental need people have to form like moral communities or to be in a sense of shared destiny with other individuals, to be in community with one another.
Colin: I think that’s just part of human nature. The main issue is whether or not that part of nature requires dogma in order to fulfill that or if dogma can actually be separated from that sort of religious drive that people have.
Colin: I really hope that dogma can be separated because that’s the only way that I think we can make some good progress on the religious front by sort of trying to create these other systems that will address these needs and wants that people just have this biological drive towards, but without sort of lacing it with these terrible ideas that can’t be questioned that have many toxic results basically.
Colin: So that’s what that tweet was getting at, just this idea that I think we all have a tendency to be religious, at least as a species and hopefully, we can find ways to sort of understand that so we can try to create more systems that can sort of mitigate the worst aspects of it if that makes sense.
Jim: Yup, that does and I think you hit on it. Moral communities, right? That’s what we really need and that was probably what the evolutionary driver of the fact that as far as we know, every known civilization had something more or less like a moral community.
Jim: Many of them didn’t have … Some of them at least didn’t have what you’d call dogmatic religion, but they had a moral community with usually some supernatural aspects to it. but that doesn’t have to have supernatural aspects, right?
Jim: I really have become taken with the work of John Vervaeke from the University of Toronto, and he talks about the religion that is not a religion which is how do we define the equivalent of a religion that provides a moral community and a sense of meaning, but yet, as to adding on stuff that we just make up and I really commend that work and I hope we can see it.
Jim: I also point out that there is at least some hopeful trends. We look to Northern Europe in particular, the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, England for that matter.
Jim: The number of people that actually believe revealed religion is getting to a pretty small number in those countries and even in the United States, the most religious of all the main economies.
Jim: The fastest growing religious category are the nuns, the ones that choose no religion. And so I think there’s at least some hope. I’m not yet ready to throw in the towel.
Jim: I particularly like this formulation of the religion that is not a religion. The idea that we can address the human needs for a moral community without bringing in unverifiable dogmas.
Colin: Yeah. So I think there’s sort of a conflation people have. They see like numbers in people who ascribe to these nominal religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, they see that these are sort of in certain areas in the West like on the downturn, they’re going down and they use that as sort of an evidence that people are getting less religious.
Colin: But then you see a lot of the protests and you see this type of religion where these are mainly people on the left who are on average, less religious, at least nominally so.
Colin: So while I think we might be seeing a drop in people who are ascribing to these traditional religions, the ones we are easily identifiable as religions, I don’t necessarily think that means that we’re getting less actually religious.
Colin: And I think that can actually spell some disaster because we see a lot of these sort of social justice type religion, but unless it’s sort of seen as what it is that it has this religious backbone to it, this spells trouble for things like our First Amendment Right to separation of church and state and Congress shall make no law respecting a religion.
Colin: But if things like social justice aren’t seen as the religions that they are, that they’re really closely resemble, then that’s essentially when we start making laws on these, then that’s essentially breaking down that church state separation without us even knowing about it.
Colin: And I think that people say that sounds hyperbolic when I say it, but I think if we start making laws based on this sort of critical theory, religious system, that is essentially as a society, moving steps towards theocracy whether or not we’re recognizing it as such because it’s not a Christian theocracy, it’s not an Islamic theocracy.
Colin: But I think there’s a good case you made that it is a form of theocracy and it could be taking over right under all our noses because we’re just not used to … We don’t we don’t have a name for it. It’s not in our minds, it’s not registering as a religion even though I think it very much is.
Jim: Yeah. And does not have any supernatural aspect. It really is a religion that is not a religion. It has all the self-referential and unfalsifiable aspects of religion, but it’s in a secular domain and if one were crafted usefully, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Colin: Yeah. I think sort of the main issue I have with religion isn’t necessarily their supernatural beliefs. I mean, that’s a problem. To some degree, as far as the more distant your beliefs are from reality, the more your actions are based on these, you’re going to influence people for wrong reasons, but the main issue I have with religion isn’t supernatural beliefs per se.
Colin: It’s the fact that they tend to be hotbeds of dogmatism. There tend to be these areas where people believe in dogma and there’s questions or that there’s conclusions that can’t be questioned and this is something I see in spades in critical race theory and all critical theory.
Colin: There’s these unquestionable aspects that they have that you just need to just buy in. It’s just a faith-based system and that to me is the most dangerous part of religion and hopefully, we can get things like critical race theory, the social justice movements classified as a religion even without the supernatural aspect to it because they do definitely have dogma which is as I said I think is the worst part as what we should be most worried about theocracy.
Jim: [inaudible 00:59:35]. You made your statement very clearly there. I think that is something we should certainly be thinking about. All right. Well, I think that’s kind of the meat of our conversation today, but I do have one, I got a couple more items.
Jim: I’m just going to skip them, they’re kind of secondary. I think we hit most of the things we want to talk about. You mentioned on your Twitter profile that you are a lover of whisky with both an E and without an E.
Jim: Why don’t we talk about something fun for our last few minutes here and tell me a little bit about what you like about your whiskies and I’ll talk about what I like.
Colin: Yeah. So what I like about whisky, that’s … It’s maybe a shorter list of what I don’t like about it because I like just about everything.
Colin: I like how crafty the process is basically from the beginning when you’re harvesting the grains and all the countless different process you can do before you … It goes in the barrel and even after it goes in the barrel.
Colin: I think it’s one of the most complex drinks out there that has so many layers of complexity to it and something you can sip, you can enjoy with a cigar if you like doing that and you can collect them and compare different flavors and different flavor profiles and the distinctions between bourbon and scotch and world whisky and how the different processes that go into making them change the flavors in subtle dramatic ways.
Colin: So it’s just, it’s not so much that I even like whisky, it’s more about a hobby as the way I see it and just learning about the process and then learning to sort of adapt your palate to different types of whiskies and be more discerning.
Colin: It’s just it’s such a fun act even if you’re never … You’re not getting … I enjoy drinking when I go out with friends too, but it’s one of those things where I just might have one glass.
Colin: I’m not getting drunk on it. It’s just something I like to sit back and enjoy for the sake of it.
Jim: Yeah, very well. Yeah, I’ve been a fan of originally bourbon. For many, many years, I was mostly a bourbon drinker. Part of that came from my time in the ’70s when I lived in the bluegrass of Kentucky and where bourbon was a high religion and I got to try some bourbons that didn’t ship much out of Kentucky and that included Maker’s Mark back in the ’70s believe it or not, that was the kind of the … If you had the money when I was in my early 20s, that’s what you’d buy was Maker’s Mark.
Jim: And it basically didn’t ship out of the state, at least not very much of it, but of course, now it’s pretty ubiquitous and I continue to be a fan of bourbons and had my favorites at various times and as I move along in the world, my palette also got more refined, I guess or at least turned out the liquor I like got more expensive.
Jim: I suppose that means I have a more refined palate, but of course, sometimes you find some great ones that aren’t that expensive. I recently found a really good one Bowman’s, it’s a Virginia bourbon, and the low end, a cheap $29 Bowman’s reminds me of nothing more than Pappy Van Winkle 12-year-old, the low end Pappy.
Jim: Very similar for $29 a bottle. If you like Pappy reserved, the 12-year-old Pappy, try Bowman’s, but about 10 years ago, I don’t know how, I started getting interested in single malt.
Jim: Lived through the ’90s when that was a big fad and all restaurants started having lots of them, but somehow, I got a bottle somewhere and someone made me drink it or something.
Jim: My traditional bourbon drinkers biases against scotch I go, “Hmm, some of these single malt scotches are really damn good.” And my wife had long been a scotch drinker there she likes real peaty ones like Laphroaig and what’s the other one?
Jim: There’s a couple other, Talisker, a few other really peaty ones might taste more towards the low peaty ones and so I’ve become quite taken with some of the scotches over the last 10 years and Oban I like a lot and Macallan I like overpriced probably for what it is, but good and Balvenie, another one I like. What are some of the scotches that you like?
Colin: I do like some of the peaty ones, but they can sometimes go overboard if that’s all they do. There’s a really great one, it’s Laphroaig 18 year that’s … It’s not available anymore, but to me, it’s one of the best peaty, whiskies or scotches you can get because it’s just, the age sort of takes the bite out of the smoke and it’s just sort of there in the background and it’s just one of the most complex and elegant whiskies I’ve ever had.
Colin: I’ve been getting into sort of the more Sherry’d scotches now, the ones that are aged in X Sherry barrels or sometimes port casks and so for those, I’ve been really enjoying Glendronach recently which is a Sherry’d scotch.
Colin: And I had a friend Give me the 18 year and then someone, a Twitter fan for God’s sake bought me their 21 year old scotch and sent it to me which is absolutely amazing.
Colin: So yeah, I’ve been getting in, to a lot of the sort of Sherry’d and sort of more nuanced peaty scotches, but then I’ve also been getting really into the Japanese whiskies.
Colin: They just seem to be like a champagne of whiskey nowadays. They sort of have a scotch influence, but they just go for the sweet nectar floral notes and they’re just, I don’t know how to describe it, but just works of art and they’re just super elegant, but their price is starting to spike on those because the word is out on Japanese whiskey.
Jim: Interesting. And my wife likes those Japanese whiskeys. I tried one, I forgot, the Yakamuru or something, I don’t remember, but it didn’t do it for me. It was, I don’t know why. She loves them, but [crosstalk 01:05:18] pass on it.
Jim: Currently my favorite is Oban 18, it’s just so smooth and rich and low hint of peat and beautiful color, beautiful smell. Man, that’s even … I probably now doing more Oban 18 than I’m doing all my bourbons put together which is very quite a change from my traditional approach.
Colin: Yeah, those are great ones for sure. I started out liking the really sort of peaty scotches and then after, I sort of revisiting some of the more lesser intense ones and I found that I can … I’m enjoying those a lot more.
Colin: I sort of had, I didn’t used to like whisky back in the day and I forced myself actually to get into it because I just sort of liked the way people looked when they’d enjoyed whiskey and so I bought myself a bottle of the harshest whisky I could find.
Colin: I got a cask strength, the rare breed from wild turkey, and I made myself have a little bit each day just neat, enjoy a glass. Well, and did enjoy it at the time.
Colin: And then after I sort of destroyed my palate for about a month while I sipped on a little bit every night, then I could then revisit some of the more, the lesser intense whiskies and all of a sudden, my palate has opened up and I could taste the flavors of these whiskies that until then, had felt like just nothing but burning.
Colin: So there’s at least for me, I faked it till I made it and now I actually, I enjoy it more than anything so you can definitely coach yourself into into liking it.
Jim: Interesting. That’s an interesting experiment. I never would have thought of trying that, but hey, maybe they’ll give me an excuse to … Baker’s I think is like 145 proof or something. It comes from the …
Colin: Yeah. Baker’s and also, Booker’s is really intense. Those are good ones to try that experiment, that’s for sure.
Jim: And I do like ones in that style. For a long while, I drank Knob Creek. That was my favorite for quite a while which is another one from the same house basically.
Jim: Booker’s and Baker’s and Knob Creek all come from the Jim Beam lineage and have some similarities in their grain bills et cetera and they’re noticeably similar though they’re also different.
Jim: Though in the last few years, I had moved on in my bourbon to two that are quite different. One is Jefferson reserve which is very refined, very smooth, relatively light flavors, but with some considerable complexity.
Jim: And then the other is Elmer T. Lee which is a single barrel, fairly obscure Kentucky bourbon that I happen to get exposed to by a friend at a dinner party and I managed to scoop up 10 bottles before it became fashionable.
Colin: Yeah, it’s hard to find those ones now.
Jim: And I’m still working my way through my collection of Elmer T. Lee and if people can find one, that’s a good one. Well, I think we have reached about the end of our time here and I wanted to thank you for coming on the show and being so forthright on your views and your thoughts and your personal history.
Colin: Thanks so much for having me on. I appreciate you giving me the chance to sort of talk about what’s been going on.
Jim: Yeah, it’s great to get people’s perspective out into the air.
Production services and audio editing by Jared Janes Consulting, Music by Tom Muller at modernspacemusic.com.