"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
Some of the pieces are earlier versions of pieces I expanded and revised in this series. As I mentioned in one of the posts, I have a lot of research that I haven't used, probably enough to write at least another long series bringing Darwinism in eugenics from 1945 till today. Eugenics, explicitly Darwinist in its motivation and even, at times, explicitly admitted, is alive and dangerous today.
It's too hot to do research and writing today. I'm a real Northerner and I can't really think when it's more than 69 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 20.555 C, to be sciency about it. Others in my family, with whom I share half of my genes and who grew up in the same room love it hot and steamy. Go figure.
Anyway, this morning as I was preparing for the heat, mostly by grumbling about how badly the piano needs tuning in this humidity, I started thinking about traits and how casually those are, not only discussed and talked about as if we really knew what they were and how they operated in nature but that a lot of "traits" are very likely artificial constructs that don't really exist.
When we are talking natural selection, the trait has to be related to success in leaving offspring and the numbers of offspring sharing the "trait". But, as I mentioned in passing yesterday, "traits" don't exist as separate Platonic forms having a perfect and discrete existence, though they're almost always talked about as if they do. "Traits" only exist in organisms along with other "traits" and not separately from them. Nor are they really able to be separated, especially whenever the issue of how the organism having them is being evaluated by some other organism is at issue. Since we're talking natural selection, that would be sex.
If there is one thing that the world-wide-web has done for us, it is to introduce us to how enormously diverse things that arouse people are. Things that one person finds repulsive is an absolute turn-on to other people. I mentioned tattoos the other day, something I doubt can be considered a biological "trait." If someone proposes a "tattoo gene" they deserve to be doused with ice water. Or, considering the day, Kool-aid. I won't go into those things that I find anything from unattractive to disgusting but which are natural tendencies that people can't do anything about. And, being Irish, I won't get into what I find alluring.
Consider a fetish widely, though far from universally, held in my youth, the fetish for blue eyes. In the early 60s, the "nordic" blond-haired-blue-eyed look was sold in a jillion ads, TV shows and movies. Well, blue eyes aren't all the same color, some are practically grey, some are distinctly blue, some are more blue-green. Do they all have the same attraction? And blue eyes are accompanied by different hair color. Blonde hair and blue eyes were presented as especially desirable but blue eyes are also common among people with red hair and are also known among people with very dark brown hair, among the many French Canadians around here with blue eyes, often described as black hair. Do blue eyes with different hair colors and different complexions have the same effect on people who see them? Never mind skin color, body confirmation, and other visible "traits" that accompany them? And that's not to mention the matter of how the person with the blue eyes acts. The same color of blue eyes that might seem sweet and endearing in one person on one day, when they are kind an generous, can seem cold and forbidding in another person or in the same person when they're having a bad day. I've known men who were really good looking, who had blue eyes but who I'd never want to be in the same room with. Though, in most cases it was the blue eyes in blonde women that were the focus of attention. And it was seldom considered how they saw things. As the great expert, Mae West said, "Gentlemen may prefer blonds but who said blondes prefer gentlemen?" I don't know what color Mae's eyes were because I only ever saw her in glorious black and white, back when my eyes were good enough to discern that kind of thing.
Even for the limited issue of wanting to have sex with someone in order to have children, does it really make any sense to consider a trait called "blue-eyed" A"thing" that can be talked of as having a general role in reproductive advantage? I'd guess that you'd have to come up with some kind of extremely detailed census of people with "blue eyes" and see how many offspring they had and how successful their offspring were, accounting for possible variable effects of accompanying and varied "traits." Has that ever been done? Once? Oh, and, to come to some conclusion that it was a "selective" advantage or disadvantage, you'd have to compare those for people with "brown eyes" and the even more varied "hazel eyes" accounting for some of those being called "grey" and some "green" and, as someone said as they were trying to define my eye-color "just weird". It was in my Bio-Anthropology class, an assignment. He had no erotic motives. Thank heavens.
So, while your eye-color is verified as being a matter of genetic inheritance, to talk about its "reproductive advantage" is anything from unfounded to premature to absurd. So often that and as many traits as someone wants to talk about in terms of evolutionary role is an insoluble problem knowledge of which is foolishly believed to be in hand and ready for a paper or, worse, a magazine article or story on NPR. There will be a Just-so story as well. How they polled Paleolithic folks on the eye-color issue will not be asked.
I can report that in my youth there was a guy who expressed an interest in me who I found enormously attractive, a successful lawyer. That was until I found out he'd campaigned for Nixon in 1960. Turned him into an instant troll for me.
I remove a moderately large number of comments from my blog because they violate my rules, that would include most of the comments some weeks. I write on very controversial topics so that's not surprising. I don't know why most of the people who read the pieces I write read them without commenting on them. When a long, involved post gets 200 or more page views, someone is reading it, Many of those don't get comments. There are blogs where the many comments hardly ever are on the topic of the blog post, some seem to ignore the blogger completely. If given the choice between readers and commentators who don't read the posts, I'd rather have readers. Apparently they find something worth the effort.
The universe of events and phenomena that are proposed to comprise natural selection are no less than every aspect of every life in the billions of years of the history of life on earth in excruciating detail surpassing the limits of human ability to observe them.
As proposed, the term “natural selection” is both vague and enormously large in its proposed scope. It refers to those things that lead organisms to, and only for example:
- die without leaving offspring, including early deaths before being able to reproduce
- leaving fewer offspring than other members of the same or competing species
- leaving offspring which are less “fit” than the offspring of others, delaying the decline or total failure to leave successful descendants to a later generation
- All of this leading to a progressive decrease in the frequency of the traits common to the unsuccessfully reproducing organism and the eventual extreme rarity or extinction of individuals with that trait in the species, creating new species or the actual extinction of the species another taking “its place” in the geography or environment.
It should go without saying that it also, of course, would have to include those details in the lives of those organisms which are "fit" all of the enormously long and intertwining lines that have produced every single organism alive as you read this. Organisms are alive as long as they are, their lives continue to have an effect on evolution as long as they are around.
That in itself is a very skimpy and schematic presentation and already it is becoming complex. Consider the first one, organisms dying without leaving offspring. There are many ways and reasons that can happen. Birth defects that lead to still birth or death in early infancy, one of those. And birth defects can be any or several of chemical, environmental or genetic factors or, perhaps injury sustained to the embryo through some mechanical accident. Each of those possibilities have subsets of differing factors of significantly varied effects.
There are factors leading to early deaths that are not uniform in their fatality but which may or may not be heritable. Accidents. Some of those would not be due to any theoretically heritable he factor, no gene for it or even epigenetic whatever, but they might kill off a potentially vital carrier of an unrelated or related trait. [Just as an aside, since traits exist in the same individual, how you could determine them to be unrelated is a puzzle in itself.] Others would be heritable but would not be uniformly fatal at the age before reproduction. The number and range of such heritable traits, some passed on but only expressed in combination with genes from the other parent or in certain environmental conditions would effect successful reproduction in individuals carrying them, also effecting the frequency of other genetic traits that are or are not carried by the same individuals. And those are only the traits that lead to death in early childhood, there are others that express themselves later in life and those which carry advantages in certain climates, such as the trait that makes eating fava beans dangerous but which is advantageous in areas where malaria is prevalent. Maybe how tastily fava beans are cooked one day is the life or death issue for that individual's potential offspring.
When you are talking about the evolution of diversity of life on Earth, you have defined an enormously large set of even the first level of categories, those populations we deem to comprise a “species” or worse, genus or even higher classification. Individual species have sub-species, based on lesser or more blatantly clear “traits” and traits are not a uniformly definable thing and are not all due to genetic factors. Even clones have obvious physical variations and they don't lead identical lives. And reproduction is not done on an individual or a one-to one basis. Combinations of genetic and other materials (such as venereal diseases) among species add their own multiplying factors to effect timing and rate of death as related to reproduction, successful reproduction and the success of the offspring, and the numbers of offspring.
And organisms don't exist as a schematic chart of one or even all of their genetic traits. They exist in time, in an environment and habitat all of which are enormously varied and individual. All of those potentially creating the “fitness” or “unfitness” of individual organisms. And those environments and habitats aren't static, either.
Combining all of these diverse factors, through addition or multiplication, you soon get to the fact that no two organisms, not even identical twins, will have the same lives, none will have the same success at reproduction due to combinations of factors you can discern or fail to discern. It would be impossible to come to a listing of possible combinations. When you define a scientific field the way that evolution has been defined, including all of these individually complex individuals with their enormously varied characters, circumstances, etc. all in combination with other organisms, those within their own groupings and those outside of them, the ones that want to mate with them or eat them or kill them as competitors. You've set yourself an impossibly complex task to understand it.
Evolution could be called the mother of all n-factorial problems or it might not be, but that is what it is. While that fact has the good news for biologists that they will never have nothing left to figure out, that there will be no “end to Biology,” it does mean that the problem faced makes any claims to have discovered more than the tiniest percentage of information about it massively and absurdly presumptuous. The idea that Charles Darwin discovered even a definable entity to be natural selection is kind of ridiculous, the history of “natural selection” in intellectual history, the enormous change and variability of what people have taken the term to mean over its 151 years puts the lie to that. Darwin's proposed mechanism of inheritance didn't even allow his theory to work, that only worked when genetics were rudely plastered to it a half-century after his death, trimming and fitting his theory to match. And that “synthesis” has undergone extensive alteration in its time as being “natural selection”. And that doesn't even get to those unobservable, unmeasurable “selective factors” that Lewontin so honestly admitted to. You can't get to those and include them and their peculiarities in “natural selection”.
If the white-nose disease now endangering entire species of bats in North America was, indeed, introduced by scientists contaminated gear, biological science has certainly been a “selective factor” which could select out the unfortunate bats or radically effect their species. If people had not desired to write papers on bats, maybe it wouldn't have happened. Or maybe it was carefree and thrill seeking spelunkers with no intention to publish. Just as an example of the enormously diverse and variable conditions contained in the enormously subtle and undefinable term “selective factors”.
That's just the quick and dirty presentation of the problem that I can think of between four and six in the morning on this particular day. If I had a month I could really come up with problems.
Individual organisms are truly individuals in each and every case, our simplified versions of them, not to mention our abstract make believe ones aren't really there in nature. In my copy of Lewontin's book, which I lent to my brother yesterday when he saw it on my desk, he notes Steve Weinberg, the physicist, saying that, "If you've seen one electron, you've seen them all." Which Lewontin points out isn't true of organisms. The idea that you can come up with successful statements of the conciseness of physics in biology, reliably applied to each case, is irrational. Even physics can't entirely define even one electron, exhaustively and comprehensively.
In the my post the other day, I talked about Darwin's description of the genocide of the native people of Tasmania by the British
When Tasmania was first colonised the natives were roughly estimated by some at 7000 and by others at 20,000. Their number was soon greatly reduced, chiefly by fighting with the English and with each other. After the famous hunt by all the colonists, when the remaining natives delivered themselves up to the government, they consisted only of 120 individuals (37. All the statements here given are taken from 'The Last of the Tasmanians,' by J. Bonwick, 1870.), who were in 1832 transported to Flinders Island. This island, situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad: it seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Nevertheless, they suffered greatly in health. In 1834 they consisted (Bonwick, p. 250) of forty-seven adult males, forty-eight adult females, and sixteen children, or in all of 111 souls. In 1835 only one hundred were left. As they continued rapidly to decrease, and as they themselves thought that they should not perish so quickly elsewhere, they were removed in 1847 to Oyster Cove in the southern part of Tasmania. They then consisted (Dec. 20th, 1847) of fourteen men, twenty-two women and ten children. (38. This is the statement of the Governor of Tasmania, Sir W. Denison, 'Varieties of Vice-Regal Life,' 1870, vol. i. p. 67.) But the change of site did no good. Disease and death still pursued them, and in 1864 one man (who died in 1869), and three elderly women alone survived. The infertility of the women is even a more remarkable fact than the liability of all to ill-health and death. At the time when only nine women were left at Oyster Cove, they told Mr. Bonwick (p. 386), that only two had ever borne children: and these two had together produced only three children!
As I noted in the first piece I wrote in this series, Galton had not named his science "eugenics" until the year after Darwin's death in 1882 the first line of defense against the association of Charles Darwin with eugenics. While it can be quibbled that Darwin technically didn't support "eugenics," though as well disposed and unimpeachably favorable a Darwinist as his son, Francis, had no problem with calling it that, something far worse is indisputable.
When Darwin was describing this genocide in about as chillingly casual a manner as possible, "the famous hunt by all colonists," he was including it as evidence for natural selection within the human population. He presented it as an example of an "unfavored race" being exterminated by a "favored race." It was far from the only one, as noted in several of these posts. Charles Darwin was the person who made the unbreakable link between natural selection and genocide in his statements in The Descent of Man and with his endorsements of Haeckel, with his misrepresentation of Schaaffhausen. Genocide, extinguishing a population on the basis of some shared trait or traits, will always be an issue in natural selection, which Darwin presented as powering the change of species over time as "favored races" replacing "unfit' races. Darwin included races of people in that progressive increase of fitness through extermination. Its subsequent use, giving scientific support to genocide has been and will be an issue for as long as it is a feature of science. --------------------
The great geneticist, Richard Lewontin, said in his introduction to It Ain't Necessarily So:
It is not only in the investigation of human society that the truth is sometimes unavailable. Natural scientists, in their overweening pride, have come to believe that eventually everything we want to know will be known. But that is not true. For some things there is simply not world enough and time. It may be, given the necessary constraints on time and resources available to the natural sciences, that we will never have more than a rudimentary understanding of the central nervous system. For other things, especially in biology where so many of the multitude of forces operating are individually so weak, no conceivable technique of observation can measure them. In evolutionary biology, for example, there is no possibility of measuring the selective forces operating on most genes because those forces are so weak, yet the eventual evolution of the organisms is governed by them. Worse, there is no way to confirm or reject stories about the selective forces that operated in the past to bring traits to their present state, no matter how strong those forces were. Over and over, in these essays reproduced here, I have tried to give an impression of the limitations on the possibility of our knowledge. Science is a social activity carried out by a remarkable, but by no means omnipotent species. Even the Olympians were limited in their powers.
He said it so well that I'm going to repeat part of it over again before its impact can fade.
For other things, especially in biology where so many of the multitude of forces operating are individually so weak, no conceivable technique of observation can measure them. In evolutionary biology, for example, there is no possibility of measuring the selective forces operating on most genes because those forces are so weak, yet the eventual evolution of the organisms is governed by them. Worse, there is no way to confirm or reject stories about the selective forces that operated in the past to bring traits to their present state, no matter how strong those forces were.
Richard Lewontin's admission is that many of the "selective forces," what is supposed to constitute natural selection, cannot be observed or quantified. Not the genetic frequency, which has been being quantified since Mendel, the "selective forces" presumed to be acting on those. Being one of the most philosophically astute of contemporary writers on science, Lewontin must be aware of the problem that those facts he laid out pose for natural selection as a scientific holding, as a law of nature.
Things which can't be observed, never mind observed in the detail that would permit measurement are, typically, rejected as non-existent in the popular presentation of science, these days and even by some of the most otherwise sophisticated scientists. "No conceivable technique of observation can measure them." Which would mean that there is no way to subject them to science, to ascertain even their nature, not to mention their strength or their interaction with and effects on other things certainly present in the individual organisms in which they reside. And that includes the constant changes of which those organisms are both the authors of and those to which they are subjected to by external forces. Without the information provided by observations and measurement, none of that could be definitely discerned by science. And there is much more that is more than merely implied with this admission made with Lewontin's characteristic honesty and frankness.
Yet those same people, calling themselves "skeptics" "naturalists" and, most ironically "physicalists" are the first voices raised in angry fury when someone doubts that those "selective forces" might really exist. But even as reasonable a man as Richard Lewontin must believe in them. He is one of the rare voices in evolutionary biology in the past forty years whose honesty keeps him from going way out on any of a large number of limbs.
Such unobservable, unquantifiable, undefinable entities are constantly introduced into science, "natural selection" is often used, undefined, as constituting confirming evidence of all kinds of otherwise unfounded conclusions. Most of the current evolution and gene talk that has a real political force in the world is entirely unrelated to any honest evaluation of its reality. An infamous aspect of that is something that I've been talking about here since the middle of June. As someone who accepts both the fact of evolution and the honestly conducted processes of science, I have to interject that I can't see any good for either coming out of this kind of thing.
Ever honest, even at the cost to his belief, Lewontin goes much farther than that, he admits that, "Worse, there is no way to confirm or reject stories about the selective forces that operated in the past to bring traits to their present state, no matter how strong those forces were." Darwinism, natural selection, is based on theoretical forces which cannot be observed in nature, cannot be quantified and theories of which cannot be evaluated for truth or falseness. Its stories cannot be checked against actual events lost in the past which can only be imagined by scientists. The change in species, something which I accept without any doubt, is the one thing in the scenario that is as close to a fact as it could get but any story about how those changes happened only seem to be more scientific than the story of how Jacob's sheep got their spots through cultural habit but are no more verifiable.
And, a third point, note that the ever honest and ever nuanced Lewontin said, "multitude of forces operating are individually so weak." The proposed "forces" especially acting on genes don't appear separate from all of the other "forces" or "traits" and occurrences present in the organism and the external world it exists in. It's hard enough to tease out something you can observe and test, for things that might be there, or might not, teasing them out of the very complex complex in which they may be, or may not be, is impossible. As proposed, selection is discerned as a scenario, those require action, if not actually comprising an act. Natural selection is told in stories. Since these "forces" are so unknowable and their "stories" also being unknowable, whether or not they are selective in any Darwinian sense can't be known. It is entirely possible that an enormous range of other factors which are not only not selective in that sense but also of unknowable nature could be there.
It's possible that such factors negate or are mistaken for natural selection when they are far more subtle and far different in nature and in combination with other factors. It's entirely possible that natural selection is no more there than luminferous aether or ptosis of the organs were, though both were fully established science back in the day, the later one believed in strongly enough that some rather dangerous surgical operations resulted before it was realized that the phenomenon was caused by the observed difference in position of organs in standing x-rays as opposed to prone dissections and drawings of those. If that oversight can happen in actual observation, it's far more likely to happen in imagined bodies and what happened to them in the remote past. It would not be odd for a naturalist imagining the problem Darwin was considering, an English gentleman who had just read Malthus and the good news he brought to Darwin's class and way of life to imagine that good news backwards over the enormous stretches of geological time. And his results would be no less welcome by the gentlemen who had largely taken Malthus to heart, using him to squeeze the poor ever harder to their profit, the same class of men who had control of science. In the case of Darwin, his and his fathers wealth and the leisure and travel opportunities those afforded, the only reason he had a career in science. And science, once established, is remarkably conservative for something that is allegedly subjected to constant questioning.
Even if natural selection is "a thing" as Rachel Maddow might put it, a real force in nature "selective forces" is a rather vague definition for that set of trillions of events and also for the contributing factors in those events that led to the deaths of individuals before they could reproduce, led them to have decreased numbers of offspring or less successful offspring than other individuals that, generally, were almost identical to those individuals. The number and diverse character of those factors, over the course of evolution, over the trillions and trillions of lives of organisms, their reproduction, deaths etc. lead me to doubt that natural selection can be "a thing".
I believe natural selection is a human construct aping the laws of physics and chemistry in the general form of its expression while being nothing like other laws of science due to that extraordinary diversity, not of expression, but in what actually constitutes the proposed law. The universe of events and phenomena that are proposed to comprise natural selection are no less than every aspect of every life in the billions of years of the history of life on earth in excruciating detail surpassing the limits of human ability to observe them. Oh, yes, don't forget that other than the most minuscule number of fossilized examples, practically all of the evidence of those lives and their relevant details are irretrievably lost. And that the acceptable analysis of all of this is constrained by the methods and possible range of conclusions deemed acceptable within the body of trained scientists. Trained (and coerced) to accept natural selection as the ultimate limit of acceptability. I think it is an epiphenomenon of specific and observable economic and political culture combined with radically incomplete knowledge and the deepest and most sincere desires to have the key to creation, or at least of the living realm. And there are no people who more deeply want to believe in that key than old-line materialists who believe it unlocks the final weapon to kill off the God who they so deeply despise.
One time when I presented my thoughts on this, an angry - teetering on the unhinged - Darwinist spat an accusation in the form of a question, "What do you have that's a better explanation for evolution." The idea is that you have to accept Darwinism because there isn't any other all-inclusive explanation, no other proposed and competing "theory of everything" in regard to how the FACT of evolution happened.
But there isn't any need to accept anything on that basis. Genesis contains an all inclusive explanation of how species came about, how the diversity of life on Earth, or at least in the ancient middle-east came about and it accounts for large parts of that life dying in the waters and silts of The Flood. It was quite sufficient an explanation for the knowledge available at that time. That doesn't mean that's how it happened, that doesn't mean, despite its widespread acceptance, that that is how it happened, Scientists are jealous of their status in society, their presumed claims to respect and their assumed right to the belief of the general public but that doesn't make their pronouncements about things that can't be observed, measured and adequately matched with physical evidence any more right than those could possibly be. Given the enormous range of variety in evolutionary speculations, dwarfed only by those alleged to govern that other enormous target wildly and unreliably shot at in the the unseeable and unmeasurable, thoughts, it's clear as possible that natural selection is far from being A thing or at least a natural thing. I am certain that, just as with evolution supplanting the literal interpretation of the account in Genesis, the progression from natural selection to its successor explanations will be an occasion of the most angry and enraged resistance by biologists who will resist any questioning of natural selection, they do now in the most vehement of terms. It will take generations and the political aspects of Darwinism will impede progress in biology.
Given all of that and the ease with which Darwinists began, almost immediately, to come up with proposed applications in the human population, including the frankly stated benefits of lots of people dying, either through neglect of their needs, active infanticide and murder (I will not call it euthanasia since the proposals were far from freely chosen by competent and fully informed recipients) and the extinction of entire racial groups and classes, killed by conquering exemplars of superior "fitness", the whole idea of natural selection begs for a lot more skeptical examination than one is allowed to give it within science and in the general population of educated folk. Death is an intrinsic aspect of natural selection, whenever people propose to help it along, death will usually figure into it, eventually*.
All Too Real A Thing
But Natural Selection did become a real thing, indisputably real, though far from natural. Through the warnings of human dysgenesis, the fear that created, beginning with Darwin, natural selection turned as real as it could possibly be. It became a manufactured algorithm to both prevent people from having children and in its most infamous reality of all, biological and racial genocide, a reality that, rightfully, deserves to be always called the most decisive phenomenon of science in the past century. Its consideration is most solemnly owed to its millions of victims.
Eugenics is applied natural selection, peoples' judgement replacing the proposed force of nature to move on the development of the human species or, at least, to prevent it sliding backwards. Scientists, science writers, other writers who liked the idea, aristocrats, lawyers, lawmakers, judges, university faculties, etc. all turned themselves into selective factors which were not too weak to observe and quantify, their effects numerated and made as real as possible.
They became a real selective factor in deciding who got to not reproduce, who got to have their line of inheritance cut off. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and the legal, political and medical establishments of Virginia were a real selective force in the life of Carrie Buck, both through the legal prevention of her having a second child, her eugenically motivated incarceration in a home for the feeble minded (her life after her release showed she clearly was not), the placement of Vivian, her daughter outside of her care where she died a quite normal, not-feeble minded, elementary school student at age eight, That Vivian died in foster care is a 100% certainty, if she had been left in her mother's care the range of possible outcomes is not known but it is within the realm of possibility that she may have survived to adulthood and escaped attack by the scientific-legal establishment in Virginia to have had children, grandchildren... Applied natural selection cut off Carrie Buck's biological inheritance as it did for millions of others and, as reported, still is in much the same way in California. In exactly the same way those and other establishments, all of them peopled by members of various elites which exercised selective forces, cutting of lines of individuals and, as in the case of the Abenaki's of Vermont and the Denes and Metis in Alberta, of decimating the future of entire ethnic groups, in the name of science, with victims still alive to eloquently testify about how their lives were ruined by it. In the case of Leilani Muir, who successfully sued and faced a member of the Alberta Eugenics Board who had sterlized her.
The term "selection" achieved its most blatantly Darwinist manifestations such as the infamous one made at the train siding by Dr. Mengele. He did that as definitely as the British murderers did in Tasmania, only he was German and most of those he chose to die were Europeans. There is no difference in the act, only in the identity of the people involved. He chose those to die immediately on the basis of "fitness," on the basis of peoples' utility for labor and also in the name of science their usefulness to him and his colleagues the only thing delaying their eventual murder. It has recently been revealed he chose subjects at the request of researchers, to be subjected to experiments and dissected like lab rats, as well as for his own, scientific use. That was all in the name of science. Before my research and consideration of what I've learned, I would have avoided making that point but with what I've learned about what Darwin HAD TO HAVE MEANT in The Descent of Man, of his saying that the British Poor Law was dangerous because it kept too many poor people alive, I have decided that to put it any other way would be to misrepresent him. I'm sure he'd find the Nazis vulgar and blatant and Mengele crude he would be reminded of Disraeli by their anti-Semitism, I'm sure. And, just as he had worried to Haeckel, he would be concerned that they were certainly bound to have a negative effect in the acceptance of natural selection. But to say that what he said in The Descent of Man wasn't a breezy anticipation of genocides, of the deaths of those unfit WHOSE EXISTENCE WAS A DANGER TO THE FIT, is to tell the largest and most dangerous of lies**.
I began looking for the refutation of Charles Darwin's connection to eugenics. Looking at what he said and the widest possible context of what that could have meant to Darwin, at each and every step all I can find is that Darwin's natural selection was every bit as bad as it could possibly have been considered. The last bit of the plaster St. Darwin to fall came with me looking at what he must have known about the Poor Law because it was generally known in Britain and it was resisted on the basis of its entire depravity, its setting up workhouses as death camps where inmates were used and starved and subjected to intentional cruelty and murderously unhygienic deprivation, to sadistic destruction of families, brutalizing of children. And that institution, that early precursor to the most infamous of work camps and death camps was explicitly warned against by Darwin because it wouldn't kill enough of them. That was the final straw for me. Darwin fully deserves that association with Nazism due to that.
* As early a eugenicist as G. A. Gaskell, a who exchanged letters with Darwin on that topic, realized that people killing people was an intrinsic aspect of Darwin's natural selection.
In conclusion, I submit, the birth of the fittest offers a much milder solution of the population difficulty, than the survival of the fittest and the destruction of the weak.
"Destruction," means death of the weak, which Gaskell and anyone else who read The Descent of Man understood was the means Darwin presented as both the mechanism for both increasing the "fitness" of survivors and as the mechanism of the general welfare of the entire species. Darwin, however, disapproved of birth control because he was sure it would lead to promiscuity in women (I haven't found him worrying about promiscuity in men). That the alternative was the violent, deadly struggle in which many people would be killed seemed less bad to Darwin than contraception. He said as much in his letter to Gaskell, in which he also talks up British imperialism and domination, regretting that some kind of unspecified selection hadn't already produced even superior British dominators.
Suppose that such checks had been in action during the last two or three centuries, or even for a shorter time in Britain, what a difference it would have made in the world, when we consider America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa ! No words can exaggerate the importance, in my opinion, of our colonization for the future history of the world.
Anyone who doubts that Darwin expected his British conquerors, around the world, to kill off lots of native people should go back to the beginning of this piece and re-read how he presented that British colonial genocide in Tasmania which occurred in his lifetime.
** I hope to write about Darwinian promotion of eugenics and scientific racism from 1945 to now later this year.
Update: The habit of talking about "events" "traits" "acts" in natural selection hides the fact that we are reducing continuous events and aspects of the lives and bodies of living beings in their environment by taking them outside of the context in which those exist. As I note in another post, our definition of "traits" which may have some validity when considering them in a context of genetics, is fraught with the possibility of error and inaccuracy when put into the context of a story of natural selection. In no where is that more true than when the action, the "selection" is made by a conscious actor. An animal selects which other animal it will mate with, it chooses which animal from a herd to attack and kill, removing it from the breeding population. Why it chooses is often presented as being on the basis of some "trait" or other, in the worse cases, those "traits" being created for the purpose of creating a story. One of those which I've written on at length is the avian altruism of what might be Richard Darwkins' most famous fable, The First Bird To Call Out. In that case his "trait" which has proven to be so plausible to so many gullible and educated folks couldn't possibly exist as a positive adaptation in the context of Darwinism on the basis of not only its negation of a far better established "trait" one which is clearly there, accurate eyesight, but also due to its mathematical impossibility.
In answer to a question as to why I say the things I say, the general answer is because I think they are true. More specifically, if I think something is true and I notice I'm hesitant to say it because I'm afraid it might be unpopular, that means I will post it just on that basis. If I think I'm self-censoring what I say for anything but a moral purpose, I will un-self-censor it. If I think there is a good reason to not say it, I might not. Popularity isn't one of those.
Tattoos repulse me. I know it's the business of the person who has them but they repulse me. Small tattoos are bad, big ones worse, those whole arm, whole body ones are entirely disgusting and facial tattoos creep me out. If you have one, I'll behave and never mention them but they repulse me. I'm not required to find you attractive, I am not required to ignore your ridiculous display of unremovable body art, stupidly applied in who knows what level of hygiene with whatever inks of who knows what danger to your body chemistry. I am not required to find it attractive, I am not required to withhold judgement of someone who does that to their body and puts it on full display for the world to see. You want it to be noticed and I notice it. You want to make a statement and the one you're making to me is "I'm an idiot trying to look macho, who wants to show how kewl and transgressive I can be, a real outlaw type. A baaaaad boy. A nonconformist who is making their statement of independence by conforming to a repulsive, stupid, fashion that will be looked at in later years as really really stupid, as skin cancers and other diseases result." Tattoos on gay men turn me off. "Sex-pos feminism" is stupid. First that other, older feminists were anti-sex is a lie invented by sexist swine in the earliest opponents of women's emancipation and suffrage, taken up again by the opponents of the second wave of the 60s and 70s and now by a bunch of "feminists" who seem to think it's all about demanding the right to act like irresponsible 12-year-old boys. "Slut walks" are stupid and counterproductive, complaining about catcalls from swinish men when women do "slut walks" or topless walks or other such stupid stunts is just stupid and a stupid way to get attention. As if the boys were listening to you long enough to "get the idea behind it". The problem is that they don't want to listen to you, they're too busy gawking at your body looking at you as if you're a piece of flesh for their pleasure. "Sluts" are what they're hoping you are, they don't get your attempt to "own the word". Owning words of oppression was, is and will always be a stupid idea. Your "owning the word" your CALLING YOURSELVES SLUTS will only be used as evidence against you when they want to blame you for "acting like a slut". You are doing them the favor of handing them the testimony that they'd have to make up otherwise. Going on forty years into the AIDS era, anyone who is encouraging young people to be irresponsible in having lots of unprotected sex with multiple partners is as good as a murderer, as far as I'm concerned. I can't stand adults who don't want to grow up. I can't stand adults who don't grow up. I have no respect for people who don't wanna grow up. I have no problem with them being ashamed of it. Shaming is good when it's in a good cause. Don't you want the jerks to feel ashamed of themselves?
The rule of law is only respectable to the extent that it provides justice. There is no moral obligation to respect law that doesn't provide equal justice.
Zimmerman went hunting with a gun, he hunted a young black man, killed him and as soon as "the law" became involved it bent over backward to let him off, beginning with the police on the scene and ending with the jurors who willingly went along with that attempt. I don't respect their verdict, I don't respect the law of Florida that, beyond question, includes an open season on black people.
The accusation has been made that it was what Darwin said against the Irish that has motivated my critique of him and his work. The accusation from Britain is "You hate him because he insulted Irishmen and you're Irish."
Well, I could go through the chronology of my disillusionment one more time and note the position of that statement in his book which disillusioned me. By the time I got there, the plaster saint I'd been fed by the Darwin industry had become pretty well rotted by things he'd said about other people. But that is a rather boring and too specific an argument when there's one that is far more interesting because it is far more important.
Why should anyone belonging to those groups of people named and implied by Darwin as carrying an inescapable inherent biological taint of degeneracy accept Darwin?
Darwin held that such people as us were irredeemably "weaker", irredeemably unworthy of having children who would also carry his scientifically applied Mark of Ham, if not Cain. That, dear friends, means us, here, today. I am, obviously, one of those descendants of the McCarthys, Donovans, and several other names living in Ireland during the famine, tracing a good part of my ancestry to Skibbereen and others in other counties and, it is believed, at least one nation of the North American natives whose imminent extinction was eagerly anticipated in the same book. I and my entire family carry the same heritage that Darwin and his colleagues marked as inferior to his "Saxons" only partially relieved by intermarriage with Darwin's superior race in only a few instances. And I'm not exactly certain that even that would have allowed some of my well loved nieces and nephews to have escaped his taint. Many later day Darwinists believed that "mongrels" between the unfit and fit were even less fit for that "race mixing".
And the Irish are hardly alone in being marked as inferior. Darwin specifically and, it is inescapable to conclude, enthusiastically anticipated the displacement and extinctions of entire groups by, specifically, Britains and, more generally, the "civilised men" who are obviously Europeans of the North Western variety, the Irish excluded. Darwin and those he endorsed had quite a list of people they considered unfit to "reproduce their kind" or marked for extinction in a struggle for existence with European conquerors. Tasmanians - who were the victims of one of the most successful genocides in history conducted during Darwin's lifetime by Britains, Maories of New Zealand, Melanesians of the New Hebrides, inhabitants of islands and continents around the world.
Why shouldn't the people still living under the burden of Darwinian denigration reject his evidence-free assertions about us? We have every right to take his slanders against us personally because we constitute those groups he slandered as clearly as the author of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion did at about the same period. And that isn't even getting to those groups whose extinction Darwin said would constitute a boon for the human species.
And it's far from the case that even many members of the Saxon and other of the "favoured races" escaped Darwin's death sentence. And it is absolutely clear that it was a death sentence. The poor were the largest and most general group of those presumed to be "weaker members" of the human species, those who must be kept from "reproducing their kind" at peril to the entire population, the group for which even the death camps of Victorian workhouses would keep too many of them alive.
The rejection of Darwin by the great unwashed is one of the greatest annoyances of those with a university education today. Even questioning him and, more so, the completely phony post-war Darwin that was created by the suppression of his own writing, the greatest act of "QUOTE MINING" OF DARWIN OF ALL. There are no greater pickers and choosers of Darwin's words for ideological purposes than his fans and the Darwin Industry that created and maintains that lie. For a person with a university education to reject Darwin you have to read him and his citations in the way I have advocated from the first time I committed my unforgivable act of heresy against "modernism".
But along the way I have found the great irony is that the anti-evolutionist have read Darwin in far greater detail than his supporters, including those in science. That last point is understandable, Darwin's science has been largely superseded. Indeed, natural selection couldn't have survived if Darwin's method of inheritance wasn't superseded by genetics.
As more people do what I have advocated, many of them will find, as I did, that Darwin's depiction of us, as the inheritors of our Victorian era ancestor's biological identity, is about as uncomplimentary as those who marked Jews as inferior and degenerate and, explicitly, a danger to the greater human species. There is every reason for members of those ethnic and economic classes slandered by Darwin to read what he said about us, to reject it and to reject his idea, which isn't evolution but natural selection. The problems with natural selection were noted as early as the early 1860s, even by someone as originally prepared to accept Darwin as useful as Karl Marx, who noted how very odd it was that Darwin, far from imposing the law of nature on human society, imposed his peculiar, class bound British society on the entirety of nature.
I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society. As I noted last week, it is far too great a coincidence that Darwin's natural selection ended up, in each and ever case, supporting his way of life, his racial, national, economic and class interests and those of his readers and fellow aristocrats, who almost exclusively peopled science and all other establishments that adopted Darwinism. A coincidence that big is no coincidence.
Today, especially in countries such as the United States where people instituted such contra-Darwinian institutions as compulsory elementary education, public libraries, land-grant universities,.... many of the descendants of those who Darwin wanted to die without children have gone to college and absorbed the phony, post-war Darwin and even some of the modern versions of his biological determinism. Ironically, many of them support the secular deification of a man whose theory held they shouldn't be here by now and if the great misfortune of their ancestors leaving children happened that they would be, that their lives would constitute a continual danger to the more fit of the human species, the embodiment and means of human dysgenesis . I'll repeat that in another way. Darwin explicitly said that. If large parts of our educated population did what they pretend to have done, read him, they could observe that, according to Darwin, they, their parents and grandparents shouldn't have been born and they could not have been able to become highly educated and to have become members of today's intellectual and economic elite. Their very lives constitute a major refutation of Darwin's application of natural selection to the human species, they are a major refutation of natural selection even as they sit on university faculties and teach Darwinism to another generation. As a lover of irony, that's one for the record books.
Darwinism will always contain the time bomb that will always be there because what Darwin said is not going to change. The greatest of all the ironies of this is that if the educated population reads Darwin they will find he said what he did. And people will read him as easily as going to Project Gutenberg and other online sources and see just what he really did say in the full context of how he said it.