Saturday, November 15, 2014

Wood Cutting Day So A Science Video

Been cutting up the firewood that I didn't get to before,  a light snowfall in November concentrates the mind wonderfully.

It might come as a surprise to some readers but I am addicted to watching the Periodic Table of Videos, videos.  Here's a new one about seaborgium,

I especially like what the presenter says about the necessity of actually checking theories against what can be observed in nature, even in regard to these incredibly short lived, entirely artificial elements.   It's something that would seem to be unfashionable in some branches of physics and biology, these days.   Perhaps that has something to do with why this, what I'm told is the most popular appearance of the science of chemistry on the internet, is so worthwhile watching as so many cosmologists, physicists and biologists are spending their time pretending they know something about theology for an audience of superstitious, scientistic atheists.   Or maybe it's just that the culture of chemistry hasn't strayed so far from the actual methods and goals of science.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Science, It's Magic and The Tragedy of Climate Change Denial

This is another post in response to that most potent and widespread of superstitions current today, that science is some kind of disembodied, natural phenomenon, some process of nature unencumbered by the processes of human minds instead of science being a product of intentional human invention, its invention, documentable in history.  Which is a superstition most strongly held by atheists, as I was rather astonished to discover in my interactions with large numbers of atheists online in more than ten years, now.  Though it is held, usually to a lesser extent, even among non-atheists.

Just where they believe science resides, if not in human minds, is a good question to ask them.  It's as if they believe in some Scientific Olympus which, though it must be physical, as all things in their Cosmos must be,  doesn't seem to have a determinable location in space and time.  They would seem to hold that science, comprised of knowledge and methods, would have to preceded the human minds in which those make their only known appearance in the world. The alternative to an eternally existing "thing" that is "science" which is disembodied would be what is, in fact, the case that it is a human invention subject to ALL OF THE FALLIBILITY of human minds, the most innocent to the most intolerably  self-interested.   And also to such things as attention lapses and lapses in judgement.

But that fact would seem to be the most intolerable to just those people who make the greatest pretense of dispassionate objectivity, many of those people who have worked in the sciences.  But the most passionate of believers in that romantic, fantastic and mythic thing they call "science" are people who know absolutely nothing about science that they didn't absorb through cable TV, Hollywood movies, Star Trek reruns and the work of Penn and Teller, James Randi, and to throw in a bit more of non-self reflective irony,  "The Myth Busters".

To put it plainly, for many millions of people, even after half a century of the collective action of entities such as The National Academy of Science, The National Science Foundation, The American Association for the Advancement of Science .... Americans, EVEN THOSE WHO ARE THE OFFICIAL SUPPORTERS OF SCIENCE, hold the belief that science is some magical entity that comprises absolute truth, proven and entirely reliable and, perhaps most ironic of all, durable for all time.  That even as the more informed of them will also claim to believe that all of the claims of science are automatically to be questioned and tested (HA!) and to be susceptible to constant falsification and overturning.   Apparently they hold that proof both does and does not produce reliable information that can and cannot be safely used to make predictions about outcomes.

And it is what only the most informed of the jr.  sci-guys who have that level of awareness of the matter.  For most of them, at least among online atheists,  their conception of science doesn't seem to rise above the level of fandom in sports.   I've had minor brawls with two of those in two different places in the last two days.


The fact that even scientists who have an acknowledged expertise in their specialty have no choice but to accept the conclusions their colleagues reach on faith is something I've brought up before.   There simply is not enough time in the life time of even the greatest of minds to master the mathematics and science to have a universal grasp of "science", considering what is held to comprise that area of human knowledge.   And, as even some mathematicians and scientists will admit,  they are often as at sea when confronted with the conclusions their colleagues make in areas outside of their field off expertise as a non-mathematician or scientist.  They might know about as much about that as someone who can locate a country or city on a map off the world will know about the place the name on the paper is supposed to represent.

All of that must be taken on faith that the person or group of researchers making the claims have practiced sufficient rigor and care and that many other ideas which went into their conclusions, but which they, themselves didn't have the time or resources to rigorously investigate, are correct.   In some areas of science, often those dealing with very simple, non-complex objects and phenomena*, the structure and bonding of chemicals, the simple objects studied by physics, perhaps the total confidence in the reliability of those assertions is highly justified.  Though the assertion that those things and their motions and movements and interactions are completely known is never fully justified because that is limited by the aspects of those that are studied.  Human interest and what the time and resources of scientists choose to study about them is relevant to the consideration of the completeness of what is known about them.  As well, the limits of insight, the blinding effects of academic training,  if you will the culture current within the colleagues of the scientist, and even such things as the gender bias of the scientist is also relevant to how reliable and complete the commonly held body of knowledge called "science" is at any one time.

As the phenomena and objects studied become more complex, such as in living organisms, the reliability and completeness of what is said about them must diminish.  If it is impossible to completely know an electron, one of the most reliable of scientific discoveries of the past century, then the uncertainty and so unreliability of what is said about more complicated objects, comprised of larger collections of only partially understood objects must grow.   Yet scientists come up with some reliable statements about living organisms which, statistically, hold true as a trend in large numbers of organisms and instances, though not in all of them.  But there is a limit as to what we should put our faith in when assertions are made about organisms.  The wild swings in the field of nutrition science is a good sign that the claims of nutritionists to the faithful belief in what they assert are not justified.  And the wild swings in the quasi-science of nutrition are nothing as compared to those in the attempts to treat behavior and thought in animals.  In no area of what can be passed off as science is it more obvious that the claims of reliable knowledge unjustified.  And that is when those are not a demonstrable fraud.

The fault for a lot of this problem comes from scientists who oversell what they do, often for no better reason than that they enjoy the prestige and respect given to them.   In many cases, when their science has been profitable for the military-industrial complex, the status of science also figures into their wealth in the most self-interested way.   When you mix in other aspects of business, which hires putative scientists to tell them how to cheat and gull people, starting with Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays,  the alleged quest for reliable truth obviously turns in on itself.    That psychology and its allies were ever included under the name of science is something like proof that the naive faith that science is as rigorous or interested in the truth is misplaced.  Frankly, I think that was a matter of wishful thinking and academic politics and nothing more elevated or idealistic than that.


The greatest tragedy of science, today, isn't that lots of people don't believe in evolution.  The greatest tragedy is that, with all its faults, we need science to save ourselves from ourselves and from the work of scientists.   The general predictions of climate change science are manifest all around us, even as detailed descriptions with it are not commonly agreed to or complete.   The climate system of Earth is an extremely complex, dynamically changing "thing" and its study is bound to consist of ideas of greatly varying reliability.  That it has been attacked by the entirely self-interested oil, gas, coal and other industries, using the purchased "reliability" of people with PhDs and even careers in science to discredit climate scientists may well be a product of the corruption that scientists enjoy no less than any other humans involved in any other area of activity.   It is a tragedy that the overselling of science might have contributed to the failure of science in human life just when our existence as a species on a livable planet is most at risk.   But it was a tragedy which is brought to us by the pretense of the kind that I described above and by the failure of those who are in the best position to disabuse people of that pretense to tell the truth.

*  It's possible that even what we consider to be very simple objects and phenomena have far more complexity than can be handled with science, in which case the range of interest in dealing with those is relevant to the consideration of reliability or completeness of what science can say about them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wilson's Defection from Hamiltonism, Richard Dawkins As a "Science Journalist"

I can't deny that reading this article in The Independent was gratifying to me. Not that I am especially supportive of E. O. Wilson's position, it would be rather hard for me to claim that after having said what I did in what I now realize is an unfinished series I did a while back.  Though I will welcome E.O. Wilson into the fold of the disbelievers in the pudding headed ideas of William Hamilton.  I thought William Hamilton's ideas were ridiculous the first time I read about them and that their having gained the amount of support they got was a sign that there was something seriously wrong with the ways of evolutionary biology, its standards of testing and accepting ideas, the ability for bad ideas to gain influence through the habits of its practitioners.  That Hamilton was a scientific racist and eugenicist stems directly from his conception of natural selection as, indeed, all modern scientific racism and all of eugenics have.  The consequences of scientific racism and eugenics having had the most serious if impact on the world, I don't think this problem can be allowed to continue to go on as it has and still call the science that maintains it "science" with the automatic prestige and required, faith based, acceptance that comes with that label.

The corners cut in the adoption of natural selection as THE explanation of evolutionary change, the flattery of class, race, ethnicity that are a congenital feature of the idea - despite the brave attempts at some to either deny that or to pretend it isn't there - have, I've come to conclude, guaranteed that bad ideas based on natural selection are inevitable and that with the firm establishment of ideology as a legitimate basis for making those decisions, those gaining currency is only somewhat less bound to happen.

It is too bad that most of the fanboys of either side will concentrate on the mutual dissing between Wilson and the god of their idolatry, Richard Dawkins, will overshadow the more important assertion by Wilson (who I will acknowledge is an actual scientist as compared to the more popular figure of Dawkins) instead of the far more important assertion that Hamilton's ideas were wrong and their widespread adoption is a serious mistake.   The article does, I think, identify why sci-guys got into such a tizzy over Wilson's defection, it calls their work, the basis of their credentialing and status into the most basic question.

Here, from the article.

After such a stormy career, you might expect Wilson to be taking things a little easier in the late autumn of life. Not so. He has once again poked a stick into the wasps’ nest of academia by publicly denouncing Hamilton’s inclusive fitness and the concept of kin selection.

“It was a mistake and I went along with it to begin with. But it’s finished. It’s over,” Wilson tells me, with a flick of his hand.

To add petrol to the fire, he has embraced “group selection”, a concept thought to have been comprehensively debunked in popular style by the Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 bestseller The Selfish Gene.

When Wilson co-authored a 2010 scientific paper in Nature magazine with two young Harvard mathematicians rejecting inclusive fitness in favour of group selection, he unleashed a torrent of criticism. About 140 evolutionary biologists wrote to Nature denouncing Wilson’s revisionist thinking and re-affirming the central role played by the selection of genes and individuals rather than the “multilevel” group selection proposed by Wilson.

“What happened was confusion and unhappiness because a lot of people had based their life’s work on this idea of inclusive fitness,” Wilson says. He now believes that the protest was orchestrated by one person, whom he declined to name, rather than being the spontaneous outpouring it first appeared to be.

“We just corrected a mistake made originally by Hamilton and then repeated by a number of people, myself included,” he says.

Wilson argues that multilevel selection – both at the level of individuals and groups – has led to the creation of eusociality in ants and humans. In the simplest terms, individuals who co-operate together in groups achieve more and enhance the survival of their group, while selfish individualism does not, even in terms of Hamilton’s inclusive fitness and kin selection.

“Within groups, selfish individuals beat altruistic individuals but in the selection of other traits of individuals that are interactive with other individuals – social traits – then groups of altruists defeat groups of selfish individuals,” Wilson explains. “In a nutshell, individual selection favours what we call sin and group selection favours virtue.”  But for many evolutionary biologists, this is demonstrably untrue, at least in animals. For the past 40 years or more, biology students have been taught that natural selection works on the level of genes. Richard Dawkins was the first to articulate this approach to a mass audience, arguing that individuals and their bodies are mere vehicles or “gene machines” for carrying genes through one generation to the next.

Two years after the 2010 Nature paper, Dawkins wrote a scathing review in Prospect magazine of Wilson’s support for group selection which Dawkins dismissively labelled “a bland, unfocused ecumenicalism”.

Natural selection without kin selection is like Euclid without Pythagoras, wrote Dawkins. “Wilson is, in effect, striding around with a ruler, measuring triangles to see whether Pythagoras got it right,” he said. “For Wilson not to acknowledge that he speaks for himself against the great majority of his professional colleagues is – it pains me to say this of a lifelong hero – an act of wanton arrogance.”

Although Wilson has much to be arrogant about, few who have met him would accuse him of it. But the criticism must have hurt, and Wilson was evidently still feeling stung by it when writing his latest book, in which he rather waspishly describes Dawkins, a distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society and retired Oxford professor, as an “eloquent science journalist”.

“What else is he? I mean journalism is a high and influential profession. But he’s not a scientist, he’s never done scientific research. My definition of a scientist is that you can complete the following sentence: ‘he or she has shown that…’,” Wilson says.

“I don’t want to go on about this because he and I were friends. There is no debate between us because he’s not in the arena. I’m sorry he’s so upset. He could have distinguished himself by looking at the evidence, that’s what most science journalists do. When a journalist named Dawkins wrote a review in Prospect urging people not to read my book, I thought the last time I heard something like that I think it came from an 18th-century bishop.”

Despite his critics, Wilson is convinced that it was group selection over thousands of years of early evolution, combined with a deep fascination with one another, that led to human altruism. “While similarity of genomes by kinship was an inevitable consequence of group formation, kin selection was not the cause,” he writes in The Meaning of Human Existence.

I think I still have the copy of Harpers with the article I based my series on, perhaps I'll go back and finish it.

UPDATE:  So Insanely Funny I Can't Make It Up Dept.

Someone, in the midst of a scat filled comment says,  "Dawkins is a great scientist and no one ever heard of Wilson"... WELL NO ONE WHO NEVER READ DAWKINS APPARENTLY.   In the index of The Selfish Gene I count no fewer than 14 citations of Wilson and his work, in the 1976 edition.  If I had the time I would go looking for more.  Though, I suspect in his more recent work Dawkins is probably more likely to cite Douglas Adams and James Randi than he is an actual scientist.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jack Levine On His Friend Hyman Bloom

 “I just never saw anything like it in my life. He wanted a profound study of the human body. He sort of mastered most of the Michelangelo thing, the muscles, the tendons, the body projections. He was a complete master. He was amazing. I don’t think he could go on with it after so many years. He became adverse because he was very mystical in a way I can’t follow him. He would do things about the decay of human tissue or something like that and was fascinated by it. I realized later that he had come here when he was 10 years old and he’d seen some terrible things in Latvia. Which was not one of the more civilized places at that time.”

Did Bloom ever talk about what he saw? “I think he was probably stunned by it. It was a very traumatic thing. … The Jewish Museum has a bookshop, and I had read a review about the Jews in Lithuania [where Levine’s parents came from]. So I went into a bookshop, and there was a copy of the book, and I looked at it, illustrated with photographs. There was a fine photograph of a schoolyard with Jewish men in business suits chained to the ground, doubled up, and then the fine Lithuanians would go around and shoot them in the head, under the supervision of the German army, Nazis.”

“I was talking about Hyman who came from that. But I did not. I could see he was different than I was. He was horrified by something that I hadn’t been. I wouldn’t pretend I was.”

“We were both in our ways very unorthodox. We didn’t follow anything I could think of. And especially Modernism of any sort. I think Hyman and I, we began our studies at the community house. [Denman] Ross sort of funded us. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but he had little idea of what we were trying to do. He was an Impressionist very many years ago, and he had no concept of any image except what somebody sees. Which is anathema to us. Hyman and I just, these were figurations of something in our head. I mean if you depended on models you’d never do the Sistine Chapel. It’s simply beyond you. You’re not human enough to do it. And Ross really thought in terms of the human eye, I suppose, is like a camera.”

Hyman Bloom More Turban Squashes

Wednesday Morning Announcement

I am going to leave yesterday's provocations at the top of the page for another day.  Considering how good the United States has been at producing war casualties, both abroad and among our own citizens, it's too big a subject to be ghettoized into one day. 

I would encourage you to click on the Chickenhawk list from the New Hampshire Gazette.  Notice how it's a who's who of Republicans - with a handful of Democrats - and the stinking media and the owners of media - Olin, Koch - who sold us those wars.  

That in 2014 the party which has produced such disasters has been put into power by the vehicle of an off-year election, brought to us by the "free press" shows that there is nothing to celebrate in our constitutional or legal system.   The "free press" won't tell you that because it opposes only government of, by and for The People as it promotes the corporate state and the virtual Roman imperial system complete with its stinking decadent oligarchy which is the actual product of our constitution and our law.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Harvest Home Post: Hyman Bloom Turban Squash

From The New Hampshire Gazette The Nation's Oldest Newspaper

Chickenhawk Hall of Shame
When an American male (or an especially belligerent female) makes the challenging transition from late adolescence into early adulthood, he is faced with many decisions. One certain, specific combination of choices will result in his becoming a chickenhawk: choosing to “support” war, while also choosing not to serve in the military. His motto becomes: “Let’s you and him go fight; I’ll hold your coat.”

Depending on external circumstances, such an individual may become one of three varieties of chickenhawk:
• If there is no draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Common Chickenhawk;
• If there is a draft, and the nation is at peace, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class;
• If the there is a draft, and the nation is at war, the individual becomes a Chickenhawk First Class with Distinguished Fleeing Cross.

We currently have 154 Chickenhawks listed in our database. Here they are, listed alphabetically. Click here to see them listed by date of birth.

And Before I Go To Work About Another Draft Dodger War Monger Jack Levine Finger of Newt c. 1993

Another Provocative Idea For Tuesday

It is one of the most remarkable things about people of roughly my age group having raised cynicism to a virtual virtue that we had probably the most cynical president of modern history as an example of what a moral wasteland that attitude produced.

One of the most truly evil masterstrokes of the cynical genius, Richard Nixon, was to gut the anti-war movement of much of its power by localizing the danger of being drafted for the war in Vietnam-Southeast Asia by instituting the draft lottery.  He knew that while the danger of being drafted hung over a large percentage of the young male population, the size of the resistance would be proportionally large and motivated.  Once a large percentage of that potential resistance was let off the hook, the motivation to put their time, effort and bodies into that resistance would peter out.  If you weren't so unlucky as to get a high number in the lottery, you were free to pursue other interests.  So we had the dreadful popular culture of the 1970s and the wars continued until after Nixon was forced to resign for other reasons, the congress being unwilling to indict him on the war crimes which were far more serious than what it chose to nail him for.

That is what I remember thinking about the relationship between the danger of getting sent to fight in an illegal war of imperial conquest and the likelihood of your being an active opponent of such wars.  The history of American wars since 2000 is a good example of how easy it is to bring interminable wars that can't be won and which shouldn't have ever been started when the American population is in no immediate danger, direct or to loved ones.

George W. Bush could never have invaded Iraq if people knew they could be drafted to fight in his illegal war sold with lies.   As it is, he was able to send an army comprising mostly sons and daughters of the underclass, and even a small percentage of them.  He was able to keep them in interminable rotation in that war, damaging them far more seriously than he would have been able to get away with if it had been a larger percentage of the population who was being sent.   The draft is, I contend, one of the greatest inhibitions to war available to us.

Update:  College deferments ended when you graduated, so being in college didn't mean you were entirely off the hook.  I knew several young men who were drafted and had to leave their teaching jobs because their college deferments ended.  And a large number of the people I knew in college were blue collar, working people who often had brothers who were not in college and so had no deferment.   But I guess you had to be in the lower economic classes to have realized that. 

Your Provocative Idea For Tuesday

Jack Levine:  Welcome Home (1946)

Veterans Day is a day when the large majority of Americans who never put their own sweet fat in danger and would never be happy to send their children to fight in wars pretend that we really care about those who do.

The best way to avoid the wars such as those the Bush II regime brought us is to re-institute the draft with no exemptions except those for health.   I hate the draft but I hate that war is so convenient for all but the underclass a lot more than that. 

If there was compulsory military service in The United States, I suspect we would find we had a lot fewer wars than more. 

Veterans Day supplanted Armistice Day because the corporate state decided peace was unprofitable and so unpatriotic.   The veterans I've known, including my father and mother, knew differently.  I honor their memory with this post.

Update:  I have to believe in a kind providence because it has provided me with such an enemy.  Because rules should be broken when such opportunities arise, here is what Steve Simels said in response to this:

Ah yes -- the draft did SO much to keep us out of war in Vietnam.

Which is a good example of how the dishonest discourse which constitutes the habits of our "reality community" operates that I can't pass up the opportunity to point out that I called "to re-institute the draft with no exemptions except those for health."  Or, for those who seem to have not progressed past the large print, first book in the Dick Jane and Sally series,

"with no exemptions except those for health."

Anyone who thinks the ruling class would be as enthusiastic for war if it meant that Jr. or Muffy might well come home in a box, they are, to put it mildly, not only not bright but entirely unreflective.

That the draft dodgers such as Dick Cheney and George W. Bush could get so many people killed, maimed, psychologically and spiritually destroyed in an alleged republic is worthy of Jack Levine's level of satire.  But in our illiterate, TV and pop-culture addled culture, there's not much hope for that.  Perhaps the prospect of getting their asses shot off once in their life might do something for that problem which afflicts so many in the college deferment class of my generation.

I will only add that, considering many of those forced to go to Iraq and Afghanistan were well, well into middle age, I would ideally make the cut off age for compulsory service the age of the oldest such person sent to those wars.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Arnold Schoenberg Transfigured Night

New England Conservatory Chamber Orchestra playing remarkably well without a conductor.

Change A Few Words And This Is A Brilliant Analysis of Today's Reality.

From The Irony of American History by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, as an example of what I meant the other day.   And I will ask you to compare it to what the Sam Harrises, Christopher Hitchens and just about any pundit or public intellectual you will hear today are saying.   Considering that Niebuhr said it in 1952, the quality and continuing relevance of his thinking should be obvious.

Our situation of historic frustration becomes doubly ironic through the fact that the power of recalcitrance against our fondest hopes is furnished by a demonic religio-political creed which had even simpler notions than we of finding an escape from the ambiguity of man’s strength and weakness. For communism believes that it is possible for man, at a particular moment in history, to take “the leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.” The cruelty of communism is partly derived from the absurd pretension that the communist movement stands on the other side of this leap and has the whole of history in its grasp. Its cruelty is partly due to the frustration of the communist overlords of history when they discover that the “logic” of history does not conform to their delineation of it. One has an uneasy feeling that some of our dreams of managing history might have resulted in similar cruelties if they had flowered into action. But there was fortunately no program to endow our elite of prospective philosopher-scientist-kings with actual political power.

Modern man’s confidence in his power over historical destiny prompted the rejection of every older conception of an overruling providence in history. Modern man’s confidence in his virtue caused an equally unequivocal rejection of the Christian idea of the ambiguity of human virtue. In the liberal world the evils in human nature and history were ascribed to social institutions or to ignorance or to some other manageable defect in human nature or environment. Again the communist doctrine is more explicit and therefore more dangerous. It ascribes the origin of evil to the institution of property. The abolition of this institution by communism therefore prompts the ridiculous claim of innocency for one of the vastest concentrations of power in human history. This distillation of evil from the claims of innocency is ironic enough. But the irony is increased by the fact that the so-called free world must cover itself with guilt in order to ward off the peril of communism. The final height of irony is reached by the fact that the most powerful nation in the alliance of free peoples is the United States. For every illusion of a liberal culture has achieved a special emphasis in the United States, even while its power grew to phenomenal proportions.

We were not only innocent a half century ago with the innocency of irresponsibility; but we had a religious version of our national destiny which interpreted the meaning of our nationhood as God’s effort to make a new beginning in the history of mankind. Now we are immersed in world-wide responsibilities; and our weakness has grown into strength. Our culture knows little of the use and the abuse of power; but we have to use power in global terms. Our idealists are divided between those who would renounce the responsibilities of power for the sake of preserving the purity of our soul and those who are ready to cover every ambiguity of good and evil in our actions by the frantic insistence that any measure taken in a good cause must be unequivocally virtuous. We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimatized. Communism is a vivid object lesson in the monstrous consequences of moral complacency about the relation of dubious means to supposedly good ends.

Note the last sentence and consider who it was Niebuhr was addressing with his lesson about dubious means and good ends.   He was addressing the general public, certainly of the United States ABOUT THE MEANS AND ENDS OF THE MAINSTREAM AMERICAN GOVERNMENT IN THE EARLY 1950s. And as corrupt and fraught with ambiguities and ironies as those were, things are far, far worse today.

It is common among even the most well meaning and even somewhat admirable intellectuals to cut corners for their own ideological preferences.  In reading Niebuhr I'm finding that the theologian's willingness to look critically at his own, clear, preferences is impressively more rigorous than any similar secular writer and certainly not often found in the social sciences, if the social sciences practiced that level of internal criticism most of it would evaporate.

As someone who was just coming into a consciousness of politics and such issues at the end of that decade, I now believe that the possible help that we may have gotten from Niebuhr's insights and analysis were squandered by a left distracted by a disastrous and counterproductive, not to mention willfully blind, infatuation with communism and the pseudo-social sciences.  And I think a good part of that as in service to an overriding anti-religious motivation.

UPDATE:  Every page of this book I read, I am more convinced that it is a tragedy for our country that it wasn't studied in place of the brain-dead, banal and entirely secular civics and history textbooks that, in their lies and distortions have done so much to damage our world.   I hold it as a personal tragedy that I wasted so much my time reading the scribbles and dribbles of the official, secular "left" when I could have been reading something far more radical than any of them and far more capable of being comprehended by the majority of Americans because it actually addressed their lives instead of other lives, elsewhere as imagined by American and European intellectuals.

Anyone who scoffs at "theology" and "theologians" as being a waste of time is an ignorant idiot.