Thursday, August 30, 2018

#2063: Wade Nobles

Wade W. Nobles is professor emeritus in the Department of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University, and a pioneer of the African-American psychology movement. Now, Nobles has indeed made some serious and notable contributions to research. But Nobles is also a promoter of some baffling pseudoscience and pseudohistory, including the magic melanin theory. According to Nobles, white people stopped evolving with the development of the central nervous system (CNS), whereas black people continued to evolve an essential melanic system (EMS). Accordingly, Nobles proposed, in his book Seeking the Sakhu: Foundational Writings for an African Psychology (he appears to reject any distinction between his roles as a psychologist, as a spiritual healer and as a prophet), an “equation”, CNS + EMS = HB, where “HB” is short for “human being”. So yes: white people are not fully human, because they are deprived of humanity-defining melanin: “That the central nervous system combined with the essential melanic system is what makes you human. That in fact, to be human is to be black” (and no: people with albinism need not apply for the category of being fully humaneither.) Together with pseudoscientists like Hunter Adams, Leonard Jeffries and Frances Cress Welsing, Nobles apparently thinks that such nonsense should pass as educational material for African-American kids. One can probably imagine some possible consequences of going down this road.

Diagnosis: Yes, as a response to racist IQ-“research” this kind of stuff is eminently understandable. It is no less dumb for that. 

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