Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Sociobiology carries with it the revolutionary implication that much of man’s behavior toward his fellows" An Introduction For What Follows

The other day, in the post about William Pierce's atheist-materialist, racist, scientistic, pseudo-religion, Cosmotheism, the article I quoted contained material from an article which the author endorsed without reservation.

The science writer Don Kaiser shows a mature understanding, almost a Cosmotheist understanding, of the ever-evolving, non-static nature of life  when he writes in his “Life Is Evolution” that “The sole charcteristic that ultimately distinguishes living from non-living matter is classical Darwinian evolution.

The article by Kaiser was published in the American Mercury magazine, a magazine founded by the iconic H. L. Mencken (a writer with some rather serious ideological baggage which is seldom noted) but which fell on hard times in 1952.   Russell Maguire, who owned the Thompson Machine Gun Company bought it out.  The changes made by Maguire included such things as hiring the man notorious for being the founder and head of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell (William Pierce was a member of the ANP and an associate of Rockwell).   While my malware software isn't sending out warnings, I won't link to the article which can be read online.  It's a piece of light-weight garbage.   As an introduction to this post I will note that the article lists two "Sources" which Kaiser apparently feels inspired his thinking,

Goode, M. Dennis, biophysics course, 1974, Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1976. ISBN 0-19-286092-5.

While I can imagine that neither Goode* nor Dawkins might be thrilled to have such a citation to their credit, it's impossible for them to say that their words aren't what inspired his thinking nor that such thinking was not in line with the thinking of Pierce's Cosmotheism.   I will leave it to you to read what the ADL has to say about Cosmotheism and more about Pierce's record, while not being able to resist pointing out that some of the money used by Pierce to build his "church compound" may have come from bank and armored car robberies.  I'd be very troubled to have such a citation of my ideas and even a second-hand citation of them like that,  especially noting what will follow in this series.

There are ideas which are adopted by people who the originators of the idea wouldn't like to be associated with but if they find use for those ideas, they can lead to the most horrible and catastrophic of uses.  Even the morally corrupt chemist, Fritz Haber, when his research group invented the pesticide Zylkon, could hardly have known that it would be used to murder millions of people, including members of his family, as it was modified into Zyklon-b.  I have no affectionate feelings for Fritz Haber, one of the scientists who also invented gas warfare as used in WWI, a man who should have been prosecuted for war crimes the very year he was awarded the Nobel Prize.  But I am not willing to cut the thinking of Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology any slack because that line of thinking had already produced such notably catastrophic results.

That such science as Sociobiology, the elder brother of evolutionary psychology is useful to neo-fascists and neo-Nazis is not that surprising, it was something warned about way back by The Sociobiology Study Group in 1975.  I will note that the many signatories of the statement were mostly eminent scientists and students, all of them I'm aware of rather conventional believers in Natural Selection who would defend Darwin against such things as I've said here.

Each time these ideas have resurfaced the claim has been made that they were based on new scientific information. Yet each time, even though strong scientific arguments have been presented to show the absurdity of these theories, they have not died. The reason for the survival of these recurrent determinist theories is that they consistently tend to provide a genetic justification of the status quo and of existing privileges for certain groups according to class, race or sex. Historically, powerful countries or ruling groups within them have drawn support for the maintenance or extension of their power from these products of the scientific community. For example, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. said.

The growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest…. It is merely the working out of a law of nature and a law of God.

These theories provided an important basis for the enactment of sterilization laws and restrictive immigration laws by the United States between 1910 and 1930 and also for the eugenics policies which led to the establishment of gas chambers in Nazi Germany.

The latest attempt to reinvigorate these tired theories comes with the alleged creation of a new discipline, sociobiology. This past summer we have been treated to a wave of publicity and laudatory reviews of E. O. Wilson’s book, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, including that of C. H. Waddington [NYR, August 7]. The praise included a front page New York Times article which contained the following statement

Sociobiology carries with it the revolutionary implication that much of man’s behavior toward his fellows…may be as much a product of evolution as is the structure of the hand or the size of the brain. [New York Times, May 28]

That statement was issued the year before The Selfish Gene was published.  Given that warning and the outraged responses to it and its authors by such as Dawkins, Wilson, Daniel Dennett, etc.  I don't feel in any way constrained in pointing out the use that such people as write for American Mercury and on behalf of Cosmotheism have made of those ideas.  Though I am sure some people might be outraged by me pointing it out.  They're always inventing rules against people noticing and talking about what's right there to be seen.   If they don't like this, they're really going to hate the post to which this began as an introduction.   As I warned the other day, it gets worse. 

* I know absolutely nothing about Goode but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Update:  Let me remind you that in the way distant past of 12 days ago, I posted on the neo-Nazi friendly science of Kevin MacDonald who built a successful career, including university professorships, editorship of several professional journals and many publications of his blatantly antisemitic science in such journals and by reputable publishing houses UNDER THE UMBERLLA OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY.  And if you bother to read the post at the link you will find Richard Dawkins' admiring citation of an antisemitic screed as evolutionary psychology by one of MacDonald's admirers, John Hartung, a paper which includes Dawkins and his wife in the author's thanks.

If you don't think that informs my thinking in this post, let me assure you it does. 

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