Stuart Ritchie in his Substack newsletter:
I love writing reviews of bad books. There’s nothing like the feeling when you’re halfway through a book and it dawns on you that this book is really bad, and that it deserves a pummeling in print for misleading the reader, spreading dodgy ideas, or getting tangled up in the barbed wire of its own prose.
Sometimes, though, a bad book review comes out that shames us bad book reviewers. A review that has all the snark of a good bad book review, but none of the substance. A review that displays not a sharp critical take, but a predictable argument based on its author’s political prejudices.
It happened earlier this month. The review in question, in the New York Review of Books, is by two Stanford University professors: Marcus Feldman, a biologist, and Jessica Riskin, a historian of science. It’s called “Why Biology is Not Destiny”, and it’s about Kathryn Paige Harden’s book The Genetic Lottery. In this post, I’m going to review the review.