You can`t get much richer and whiter than Matt Ridley
April 05, 2011, 02:41 PM
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Matt Ridley, author of The Red Queen, is a distinguished science journalist in the Anglo-Darwinian tradition of Richard Dawkins. He's a good example of the trend toward the name "Matthew" being what "Steven/Stephen" was for the previous generation.

But, Matt Ridley also has another identity besides science writer with a Oxford Ph.D. in zoology that I've been looking for an excuse to point out, so I'll grab this one. I'm not particularly interested in the policy controversy below, I'm just using it as a launching pad for some fun details. Statistics professor Andrew Gelman blogs in "Irritating Pseudo-Populism" that he is annoyed by Ridley's assertion in a WSJ op-ed "Free-market solutions for overweight Americans," that:

Education vouchers, they point out, are generally disliked by rich whites as being bad for poor blacks—and generally liked by poor blacks.
Gelman replies:
First, I'm sick and tired of all the rich-white bashing. I mean, what's the deal? Matt Ridley is a rich white, I'm a rich white, so are lots and lots of the readers of the Wall Street Journal. If you got a problem with rich whites, maybe you should start writing for a publication associated with a different income stratum and a different ethnic group.
A good point in general. And in this specific case, it's worth noting that very, very few people are quite  as white and rich as Matthew White Ridley VIII, the future Fifth Viscount Ridley. He lives in the family pile of Blagdon Hall on an 8,500 acre estate in Northumberland (see above). Here's a picture of his elderly father, Matthew White Ridley VII, fourth Viscount Ridley and former Lord Steward of the Household. (The journalist's grandfather on his mother's side was the 11th Earl of Scarbrough.) The Blagdon Estate's website says:
The Families of Ridley and White
Blagdon has been home to the same family since 1700. The first three generations of owners were all named Matthew White. The next nine generations of owners have all been named Matthew White Ridley. For more than 300 years Blagdon has been owned by somebody called Matthew.
In general, the Darwinian tradition has tended to be pushed forward by country boys who grew up around nature. Wealthy country gentlemen like Darwin, Galton, and Ridley may sound like P.G. Wodehouse's parody of the type, Gussie Fink-Nottle, newt fancier from deepest Lincolnshire, but science owes them a lot.