Taboo Issues in Social Science

Questioning Conventional Wisdom

by Anthony Walsh (Boise State University)

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"Taboo Issues in Social Science is a much needed and timely book that is sure to generate a lot of discussion, debate, and research. In this book, Dr. Walsh courageously tackles head-on some of the most politically sensitive areas in the social sciences and does so in a way that is convincing and empirically driven. He leads us through the political landscape and covers a broad range of topics that are largely considered to be taboo, including the linkage of biology to race, the lack of racism in the criminal justice system, and some of the negativities associated with feminism. His writing is crisp and his argumentation scholarly. While not everyone will agree with his arguments, everyone needs to read this book in order to better understand the intersections among politics, scholarship, and taboo research agendas. Professor Walsh has done the social sciences a service by writing this book, and you should do yourself a service by reading this book."

Dr. Kevin M. Beaver,
Florida State University

This book is an expedition into a number of controversial issues in the social sciences with the intention of challenging the conventional wisdom on those issues. While most social science research is interesting and important, a fair amount of social science research is thinly disguised advocacy research in which conclusions too often precede inquiries. The primary topics are those that the journal Nature described as "Taboo". In order of the degree of censure, the topics are: race, sex differences, intelligence, and violence. The only way to examine these topics with the social science seal of approval attached is through a strictly environmental lens. To bring biological factors to bear on them is politically incorrect and can bring the wrath of the academy down on one’s head. Although many researchers successfully bring biology into their research on these issues, they are said to risk career and reputation for doing so. Speech codes stifling free intellectual exchange pervade the ivory tower, and an overwhelmingly liberal faculty hell-bent on eliminating any vestiges of opposition to their ideology. This is unconscionable in an institution that is supposed to value free exchange of all ideas and opinions.
The current state of academic social science is examined before entering the substantive realm to try to explore how the topics I explore have become protected from any claims of "naturalness." Because the left rejects the idea of human nature, it insists that these things are products of social learning and/or social construction and are entirely fluid. To maintain this position in light of the huge and exponential successes of the natural sciences, the left embraces such frames of reasoning as postmodernism, radical relativism, multiculturalism, and political correctness, all of which are examined in this book. Also discussed are human nature, whiteness studies, political temperaments, various criminal justice issues, and capitalism versus socialism.

What’s the Problem?
Postmodernism: Turning Illusion into Reality and Fiction into Truth
Political Correctness and the Tyranny of the Ivory Tower
Opposing the Tyranny
Why Intolerance in the Social Sciences?

Chapter 2: Feminism: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Your Daughter’s Feminism is not Your Great Grandmother’s
Marx, Mao, Marriage, and the “Desexing” of Culture
Feminism and Science: "The Master's Tool"
Misogyny and Male Chauvinist Pigs
The Super Bowl, Neanderthals, and Domestic Violence
Rape on College Campuses
Rape Culture and Scummy White Males
The Gender Pay Gap

Chapter 3: Whiteness Studies and Racist Amerika

Whiteness, Privilege, and Oppression
Fighting “White Privilege” on Campus
Abolish the White Race: “Race Traitors” and Their Agenda
Whiteness Studies and Slavery
Racism in Modern America
Race, Racism, and Poverty

Chapter 4: Ideological Battles over Human Nature

Innate Human Nature versus the Blank Slate
Liberal and Conservative Visions and Human Agency
The Philosophical Case for Human Nature
The Scientific Case for Human Nature
Countervailing Human Instincts
Human Nature: Good, Bad, or Just Selfish?
Sexual Selection and Male-Female Natures
Feminist Objections
What about Culture?

Chapter 5: Social Constructionism and Gender

Weak and Strong Constructionism
Differentiating Natural Facts and their Referents
The Seductive Appeal of Constructionism
Social Constructionism and Gender
Margaret Mead and Gender Cultures: The Good, Bad, and Inverted
Social Role Theory
What do Disorders of Sexual Development tell us about Gender?

Chapter 6: Race: A Dangerous Concept or a Useful One?

The Left and the Social Construction of Race
Why the Concern over Race?
Defining Race Away
Clines: How much Difference Makes a Difference?
Testing the Proposition that Race Exists
The Practical Uses of Race

Chapter 7: Politics and Personality: Callous Conservatives and Loving Liberals?

Platonist or Aristotelian?
Red Genes? Blue Brains?
Personality in Red and Blue: Who’s Happy Now?
Political Ideology and the Big Five Personality Traits
Altruism in Theory and Practice
Equality, Fairness, and Envy

Chapter 8: Capitalism and Socialism: The Devil’s Dung versus Satan’s Spore

And in the Red Corner….
The Marxist Foundations of Socialism
Don't Cry for me Argentina
Exploring the Intellectual’s Attraction to Socialism
Capitalism: Selfish Motives; Positive Consequences
Socialism: Altruistic Motives; Negative Consequences
Self-Interest, Altruism, and Capitalism
Protesting Success and the Appeal of Welfare
Corporate Welfare

Chapter 9: Socioeconomic Success: Talent Plus Effort or White Privilege?

Meritocracy: A Micro-Aggressive Racist Concept?
IQ Tests are Biased; They Have to be! Genes are not Involved; They can’t be!
The Biological Basis of Intelligence
The Chitling Test, Liberal Logic, and Bias
IQ and Socioeconomic Status
The Environment and Intelligence
In Praise of Common Sense
Personality Determinants of Success

Chapter 10: Cultural Relativism, Multiculturalism, Violence, and Human Rights

All Cultures are Equal: Really?
Multiculturalism: “When in Rome…..”
Diversity and the Destruction of Social Capital
Violence: A Scourge of Human Nature to be Confronted
Multiculturalism, Rape Gangs, and Human Rights
Assimilation as Neo-colonialism

Chapter 11: “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics” about Crime and Justice

Race and Arrest
Conviction and Sentencing
The Death Penalty: Black Defendants
The Death Penalty: Black Victims
Hate Crime
Cellblocks and Classrooms

Chapter 12: Culture, Constitution, and Government

Turn Sharp Left for Gomorrah
Does the American Left Hate America?
Frankfurters: Nourishment for the Left
The U.S. Constitution and the Supreme Court
Administrative Agencies and Crony Capitalism
Is There Anything Positive about Socialism?

Anthony Walsh entered academia upon earning a degree in criminology after 25 years in the “real world” as a Marine, police officer, and probation officer. His area of expertise is biosocial criminology, and he was honored with the 2014 David Rowe Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to this area. He is also interested in legal philosophy and statistics. He has written 36 other books and approximately 150 articles, many on topics included in this book.

Biology, biosocial, social constructionism, culture wars, philosophy, political science, criminal justice

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Taboo Issues in Social Science

Book Subtitle

Questioning Conventional Wisdom





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Publication date

October 2020